A year of .defrag


Hello there, folks.

It’s been a whole year since I decided to share .defrag v1.0 here with you all. I just wanted to reflect on how much has changed and been accomplished since then. Long exposition post ahead, so be warned.

When I first started developing the game, it was totally unplanned. I had plenty of unfinished material and ideas I wanted to develop, but for many different reasons I had held myself back. I thought I didn’t have what it takes to create what I thought was a "decent" experience back then, until I simply told myself that enough was enough.

I remember it being a very stressful time for me. I had a lot going on back then and I remember not really having an outlet for all this bottled up stress. Creativity has always been a double-edged sword for me. I was clearly out of steam and there could have been countless healthier ways to cope with it. Instead, I chose to throw myself into the grinder once more and create something. Anything, really. When you’re this rock bottom, either one of the two things happen, which is a) you stop caring about anything, or b) you quit what you love doing the most indefinitely, possibly forever.

In just 10 days of non-stop development, I had created the bulk of what was the very first version of .defrag. The result was a playable experience that I’d never thought I would publicly release. I was pretty much done with it. I thought that was it, you know? I didn’t really care whether it met certain quality standards or not, or even if the gameplay wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I primarily made the game as an act of liberation. I had a lot of inner thoughts I wanted to process somehow and a lot of turmoil I didn’t really know how to express, if not through the medium of interactive storytelling.

I released a few updates soon after, mostly as a way to address some overlooked bugs. Version 1.1 came out, I made a gameplay trailer. My job was done.

After a while, something magical happened.

I started getting some feedback from both friends and Gamejolt users. Despite how primitive the project was at the time, reception came as overall positive. Some people really liked the setting and writing, and I got the first suggestions on how the game could be improved. Then, some users were quick to record their gameplay session and their experience on .defrag. How was that possible? Aside from a strict circle of contacts whom I personally asked to playtest the game, I didn’t really ask anything from anyone. It was completely spontaneous.

Then, .defrag got featured in a number of places, starting from Gamejolt, then RMN, or rpgmaker.net. It was probably the biggest surprise, for me. I seriously did not expect such a heartfelt support for the project. Coming from a rather cynical background, the idea of maturing the experience into a proper game started making its way up.

I usually don’t share my personal interpretations of my own works because comments coming from authors often end up being the only "canon" reading key, as opposed to letting everyone treasure their own experience with the artwork. Developing .defrag for me has been an act of cleansing. Nearly every character and aesthetic element in the game is a symbol of what I originally thought was detrimental to my creative process. Every ounce of negativity I experienced back then coalesced into an amorphous, mysterious and incredibly destructive force I conveniently dubbed "noise".

Getting rid of it was the goal I set myself since the start. In a sense, I have been the main character of my own adventure in game development. I could have just called it a day and let all this mystery permeate the game world indefinitely, or perpetually leave the story on a cliffhanger with no resolution in sight.

I only realized later that the game was far from done. Too many loose ends, too much wasted potential. I decided to give this project a second chance. Instead of merely expanding it, I began thinking of ways to improve the story and the core gameplay.

Fast-forward to the present day, I’m currently in the process of writing what the future content is going to be about. As I explained in the previous post, there are quite a number of things I would like to introduce. I feel quite determined to keep improving this project and give to it and myself the "happy ending" we both deserve.

From a rite of cleansing, it slowly became a rite of passage for me as a game developer and individual, as I came to appreciate the beauty of unplanned, unscripted, almost entirely improvised endeavors. It was a kind of freedom that felt refreshing to me, after years of coping with self-produced mental roadblocks.

I would like to thank everyone who has indirectly saved this game from underdevelopment purgatory. If it weren’t for you, I would probably still think .defrag v1.1 was everything I could have offered and I would still have plenty of "noise" lurking in my head.

So, let’s make a toast to the future and ultimately, thanks for sticking around. ./


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