In Which I Trick Myself Into Writing a Game for Yeehawgust

A screencap of a text game. It reads: "The sun's heat is still soaked deep into the rocks, the walls, the world, and it contrasts deliciously with the quickly cooling desert night. It's evening, after dinner. You make your way down the town's one road, to a cabin to a house to a shack, asking your friends to follow you once more. " Cabin, House, and Shack are all blue, indicating links.

Past me had set a reminder for when Yeehawgust (a western-themed creative prompt month) was coming up. When the reminder popped up, of course, I did not have any idea what past me was about, but after figuring it out I was like “I don’t really have the space for daily prompts, but they have weekly ones, that’s great.”

And then I actually ended up making a little interactive fiction game for ALL the prompts in week one. I do not plan on doing that again, nor do I think I’ll end up doing but one more weekly prompt, even though it was nice! It was a nice way to reacquaint myself with Twine, which I hadn’t used in Some Time.

The resulting “game” (I never really make games, honestly, but you click them and words happen) is available for free both on my site and on Can be played on mobile.

I was chatting with a friend about it and mentioned that I was writing it in Excel, mostly and she wanted to know what the hell I meant so.

A screenshot of a spreadsheet of five columns headed: Slide, Section Main, Section Sub, Section Title, Text. The rows are numbered with decimals (example: "3.1") in the slide column. The Slide Title column is a hyphenated combination of the words in Section Main and Section Sub (example: "House-Ask"). The Text column is just that, but the text in each one varies on if it has code in it for Twine actions.

I can’t remember when exactly this method began to make the most sense. Probably when I first-first started thinking about Twine and my (never finished, but much loved) Fallout: New Vegas AU. When I was doing that I downloaded the CSVs of character dialogue and used those as a guide for a lot of things. I made one for my character in the game I was building (and put it on AO3 because I’m like that, and four kind souls have left kudos, which means there are other people like that, bless this world).

Anyway, one of the biggest problems for me in Twine is keeping track of anything, and a spreadsheet file helps mitigate that. One sheet for dropping key reminders like various set:$states or whatever, and another sheet where you track WHAT happens in WHICH dang little slides, more as needed for links to how to do a thing you’re never going to remember, etc.

I only wrote in the Harlowe story format some of the time in the spreadsheet. Actions I didn’t want to forget. I think next time I’ll use conditional formatting to automatically light up when I do that, or specific instances, that sort of thing. This was a short and simple game so it wasn’t that necessary.

If you would like to see a CSV of just the (uncleaned, sorry) text of the slides for the game have at this link right here.

I had very few creative goals for this year, for many reasons, but one of them is a very indulgent Twine game, so using Yeehawgust as a return/way to remember how it all works was great. Good job past me for setting that reminder.

Originally posted on Patreon and Comradery