The one aspect of this game that has been the backbone and the most anxiety-inducing has been the actual writing for the game. The dialogue, and the six narrators.
It makes sense that the most important area for the game is also the one that makes me sweat most. The platforming and level design, the UI, the save system, the art style–everything is second to the narrative. Everything serves to prop up the writing. And, if the writing ain’t good, it all falls apart. The writing is both the foundation and the house itself. The architecture. Everything else is the plumbing and electricity, if we keep the metaphor. Important, sure, but not what makes or breaks the structure. Not what stops the building from collapsing in on itself.
And, because it’s been so important, I continue to relegate it to the back-burner. Working at it slowly. Chiseling away at this final statue.
But, sure enough, the rough draft has finally been completed. Woo!
While jogging yesterday, I had my final stroke of inspiration. The lynchpin or keystone to the whole narrative. It just came. So thank God I finally got out of the chair.
Now the key is to see how it works in the game. Implement scratch voice overs and see if a playthrough of the game will yield the story as I imagine it. Will all the important pieces be there? Will the questions the player is left with be the right ones? Taking a look at the script doesn’t even do it justice, however, as moments are propped up largely by what’s around it. The environment you hear the quote.
Will this moment be forgotten because the player was focused too much on platforming? Will the player skip over this section by accident? How much of the story is acceptably missable?
The solution isn’t to continue to put the story on hold. It’s to finish the actual game and then playtest the heck out of it to see if it makes sense. And that requires finishing the final level first.
Let’s just hope that final level is good.