i hurt myself one-year development retrospective (+ stats)
6 January 2022
So, it's been a year and change since I released this iteration of this particular concept.
In that time, i hurt myself - postjam edition has been viewed 9,485 times, downloaded 711 times, played in browser 3,681 times, given a rating 18 times, added to 404 collections, received 18 comments, and developed a 4.02% click-through-rate.
In something that is entirely bonkers to me, I also made 670 dollars off of it, through its participation in the 2021 Queer Games Bundle. That money comprises nearly all of my personal savings (My parents have set aside money for college, and all, but I'm only counting money I have personally saved) One day, probably sooner than I imagine, I will be a little bit safer, or a little bit less stressed, because I spent a few hours trying to recreate a really weird spontaneous daydream.
If I had two complaints, they would be that:
- Low star ratings really do tank your discoverability. If you search Itch for top games with the tag Bitsy, this is actually the 7th result, which is absolutely bonkers. But before getting those low ratings, the game would appear much higher in other searches. Out of 18 ratings, I have received 1 two-star review, 2 three-star reviews, 1 four-star review, and 14 five-star reviews. So it's not horrible, but still.
- That one guy who was upset that the game didn't end in suicide. What a weirdo.
I would talk about the development process, but the thing is, I don't remember much of it at all. Both the original jam version and this version were the product of their respective single sleep-deprived all-nighter.
I do remember drawing the baby. They were done in Aseprite, first, and then I applied an 8x8 grid over the image and reproduced it as tiles in Bitsy.
The red static in the first screen, and the knife, are the only real elements carried over from the original. The red static in the original was not animated, and it was made by hand. In this version, I actually randomly generated the static, I think by using the spraypaint tool in Aseprite. I later learned there's a really simple Bitsy hack that lets you add more than two frames of animation, and I really wish I knew about it then cause it would look so much better if there were six or so frames. There are 20 different static tiles, just to add some variation. They're actually in a pattern because I couldn't be bothered to find a way to randomize it in a satisfying way.
The garbled conversation you see when you leave the first room is loosely based on actual text conversations I had with friends when I was suicidal. Although the text quickly becomes unintelligible, there is actual legible text behind all of the garbledness, I just replaced the characters. I cannot for the life of me remember what it was, though.
When you talk to the baby, they quote Dylan Thomas' poem, "Do not go gentle into that good night." I'm sure literally anyone who knows anything about poetry would catch that, but hey, why not throw it in here.
After the baby, you get the little credits that end with "see through your eyelids," which has nothing to do with the game and is just sort of a like, "sign-off" message I thought I might add to all of my work. And I still might! I like how it sounds. My usual "sign-off" message is "come as you are, and may death never stop you," which is pretty transparently quoting Nirvana and the name of My Chemical Romance's greatest hits album, and while I stand by the fact that it is a kick-ass bio/signature quote, I don't think it's really appropriate for serious work.
To close this bad boy out, I'll talk briefly about the future:
I do want to make more games/interactive fiction. The past two years have been an absolute rollercoaster in my life, and even basic functions of life like cleaning, showering, taking meds, even just eating and drinking appropriately, are difficult. This Omicron wave has made me feel really fucking bad over the past week because it feels like we're just starting from scratch.
Aside from that, I had my first relationship and first break-up in the first half of 2020, which I spent far too long recovering from. I've been preoccupied with my city's youth leadership program over 2021, and I've signed on to a second, more involved year. I also got accepted just yesterday to a national youth program where I will be editing video (fortunately I get paid for this one).
In short, I have a lot on my plate as someone who is disabled, doing work for two youth programs, about to reach the age of majority, and doing it all in the face of a global pandemic, late-stage capitalism, and climate change.
All that said, I do really want to release something this year. But I'm trying to avoid tying anything to it because it is incredibly likely I just won't have the time or energy.
[This post originated as a dev log on the game itself, which you can find here.]