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Making "The Hollow"

In June 2015 I was unemployed, about to get married and taking part in my first game jam. Originally written for LinkedIn, this short post chronicles the creation of my first game, "The Hollow".

June 2015 this year saw me pretty busy. It was the month that hosted the "Write-a-game Challenge" game jam (aka, the WAG Challenge) and also the month I got married.

The guidelines for the game jam were simple enough: create a short game, around 20 minutes, using the theme "Down The Rabbit Hole". Teams had thirty days to create their games. The final judging would be on the writing of the games; art and music were just extra.

When David and I started, we had no idea what we were doing or what we were going to do. The most we knew was that we would use Unity and the Unity tool Fungus, which is a tool designed to help people create narratively-driven games.

I had to develop the story quickly. With only thirty days, that didn't leave David with much time to create all the necessary assets, and I had to learn how to use Fungus. About two weeks in, we had the beginnings of a game, but there was still a busy road ahead of us. Meanwhile, my friend Eric was composing the soundtrack, poking me occasionally with questions I did my best to answer. The results speak for themselves.

I had warned David that we needed to finish by the 23rd because that was when I would go to Cape Breton for my wedding. I'd be there for about 10 days, so I figured I wouldn't have the time nor the energy to keep working on an indie game. By the time the 23rd rolled around I realized I had better find the time and energy because this game was not done.

I got married on the 27th. It went without a hitch. It even went better than we had hoped! Everyone had a great time, the families got along great, there were wonderful surprises and we ended up with a lot of great memories.

And then I still had a game to finish. I continued working on the 28th, 29th and 30th, finally submitting the finished (enough) game with about 10 hours to spare before the deadline. I could finally relax.

And relax I did! I enjoyed the rest of my time in Cape Breton and more or less forgot about the game. When I got off the train in Montreal on the 5th, I was surprised to see how many downloads we'd had. Even more surprising was that someone wrote an article about it at Rock, Paper, Shotgun!

From there, it seemed to gain momentum on its own as site after site wrote short (but sweet) reviews, eventually even being written about in one of Germany's largest publications! Not bad for our first game!

In the end, we won in the WAG Challenge's Pro category. We haven't stopped working on The Hollow since its release, getting another team member aboard to help improve the UI and overall interactivity. We plan a Steam release and are thinking about releasing on tablets, but we're all still pretty new to this.

You hear a lot of horror stories about indie game development in the industry, but I'm glad the only horror story here is the one we wrote.

You can play The Hollow for free either in your browser or on your computer by downloading it. The soundtrack is also available for free on Bandcamp.

Game: http://tomirony.itch.io/the-hollow

Soundtrack: https://outoftheloop.bandcamp.com/album/the-hollow-soundtrack

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