Freelance Fortune Teller Dev Log #2

Past Lives

I began work on Freelance Fortune Teller at the beginning of 2023, but the concept is one that I’ve played around with a couple times over the past few years. I initially thought of making a game where you play an inept fortune teller at a house party during the first course of my MFA in 2019. I was new to making games and had previously only worked in Twine, so that’s what I built my prototype with at the time. 

The play experience was straightforward and pretty clumsily executed. Players were shown a series of images related to different kinds of fates and could give fortune readings to characters from a few pre-written prompts. 

After finishing the fortune telling phase, the player was presented with different simple scenarios and asked to select an action in response. A fun concept, but difficult to build out in depth. The prototype showed me that my game wasn’t going to work in Twine the way I wanted it to. I moved on to other projects and began to learn more tools, tabling the concept for a rainy day.

In 2021, I decided to enter IFComp with an updated version of the fortune telling game I had previously prototyped. Even though I was starting (much) closer to the deadline than I would have liked, I was determined to submit something. I made Unfortunate, a text based parser built in Inform7, over just five sleepless days and nights (dang ADHD). I’m honestly proud of what I was able to accomplish in such a short time period, especially using Inform7—a relatively new tool for me at the time.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger I guess

But of course, five days really isn’t enough time to make a great game (at least not the great game I was trying to make), and definitely not a game without its bugs. Unfortunate turned out to have quite a few bugs and other issues. Predictably, it didn’t rank very highly in IFComp. I did, however, receive some excellent feedback. The main takeaway seemed to be that people really enjoyed the concept, but were disappointed with the execution. I was bummed out that my project ended up with such major run problems but was buoyed by the engagement I saw with the idea itself. 

You can play Unfortunate here, by the way, but again…it’s super buggy.

So why am I sharing all this anyway?

Well, even though the earlier iterations of my fortune telling game could be described as failures, they marked major milestones on my path as a game developer. I believe that it’s important to talk about all of the elements of the creative process, even those parts that are mildly embarrassing. 

I think that one of the most difficult problems I ran into in the past was that my idea was more complex than my technical skill set. A fortune telling interactive fiction game built in either Twine or Inform7 could be really great. However, the elements that I wanted to include in the game weren’t well-suited to those platforms. Luckily for me, I know a lot more about game-making tools and design in general than I used to, and I’m confident I can make a version of my fortune telling game idea in Unity that I will be excited about. Hopefully one that other people will be excited about, too!

Next time, I’ll be digging into the development of one of Freelance Fortune Teller’s major mechanics: fortune telling itself. Stay tuned!

Freelance Fortune Teller Dev Log #1

Project Overview

I’m making a new game! Well, a new take on an older game that I made…two different times. You can read more about whatever that means here, but for now I’d like to introduce Freelance Fortune Teller!

In Freelance Fortune Teller, you play as a fortune teller hired to work a house party. But you aren’t exactly the best fortune teller out there (it’s hard, okay?), so you have to manipulate the space and characters to make the fortunes you give come true in order to get a good review and the highest payout at the end of the night. 

At this house party, everyone has a secret, something they want most, and a great fear. It’s your job to try and uncover these elements and use what you learn to force fate’s hand. Will you dole out favorable fortunes or call down doom upon the party’s guests?

Freelance Fortune Teller will be a short 2D point-and-click game experience, playable in around an hour, and is being developed in Unity. It will be released on on a pay your own price model. 

Throughout the game, you can read fortunes, “sense” the potential of certain interactable objects, engage in conversation with the nine NPCs, and strategize to create interesting outcomes for each character. 

I’ll continue to post to the development log for Freelance Fortune Teller as I complete major milestones for the game. Stay tuned for more updates!