Writing a game – even a text-based game – is tough. I knew that before I started writing Internal Damnation. I was as a game master two years ago, for Victor Fernando R. Ocampo’s The Book of Red Shadows, and I’d seen only just a fraction of the work that Victor had put into making that game the success that it was, so I knew this was gonna be a challenge.
I didn’t, however, realise how much of a challenge.
The version of Internal Damnation that you’ll see in September is vastly different from the version that I’d first written. Yeah, the basic idea’s the same – you’re an intern that works for a company run by demons – but when I started writing that first draft, I was so focused on keeping all the different narrative paths straight in my head (even with the help of a flow chart), that I’d neglected the important stuff: character motivation(s) and tone of voice. I was so lost in finishing the story that I forgot to tell the story.
Thankfully, I work with an excellent team and my editor very nicely – but very clearly – pointed out where all the manuscript’s shortcomings were. So, I started on my second draft and soon realised that this was the biggest rewrite I’d done for any story ever – a story that’s already got multiple variations to navigate.
It was honestly maddening to rework the whole thing. Absolutely necessary, but maddening. It took me a whole lot longer than I was expecting. (That excellent team was, much to my relief, also very understanding.) And granted, a few other personal factors delayed the project, not the least of which was COVID, but eventually, I handed it back to the team. I don’t think I’d ever been as nervous about feedback as I’d been with Internal Damnation.
But the changes were minimal – changes I’m currently working on – and I finally feel like I’m doing this story the justice it deserves. There’s plenty more to work on though, from the art side of things and with the developers, but it’s such a relief to have the story in a good place first.
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