Reflecting on “Jitteh Dawn,” Ten Years Later

Click this title card to download the game (Windows).

I find it hard to believe it’s been ten years since I released this thing.

Jitteh Dawn (Windows, Mac, Linux), a visual novel I made on the Ren’Py engine, is a story about a history geek who seeks an answer to why a prominent family was disowned. Unlike my more recent creative output, it utterly lacks any sense of the supernatural or the science-fictional, situated in what is pretty much a mundane reality.

When I played through it again…it was like re-living ten years ago.

I was in college. I was heavily into Japanese cultural things thanks to anime and manga. I seriously thought I could get into game development. Then I find this neat little tool for building visual novels.

I thought, “maybe I should give it a try.”

I made the visual novel using royalty-free graphics and music; I wasn’t going to make any money from this. I put it together, simply short and sweet rather than some great big production. Sure, it would’ve been cool to make something similar to the anime and manga I liked, but I had to work with what I had.

I released it in the summer of 2007, and the reaction was pretty good. I had even considered updating the graphics, but that plan fell through, and I left it as it is.

Then time passed by and I ignored it, for it wasn’t a “real” game, just some thing I threw together on a lark. Eventually, I made a more traditional game called Parasite Lance (Windows, Mac, Linux) using the same engine, but somehow this one, while an accomplishment on its own (thanks, @GMShivers!), didn’t have the depth of feeling that Jitteh Dawn had.

I did, however, discover something about my writing style when I had replayed that old game: that I’m quite capable of telling stories without fantasy or sci-fi trappings. Granted, this was simply because my resources and programming skills were heavily constrained at the time, but those hard constraints forced me in a unique direction that turned out to be quite enjoyable.

With Parasite Lance, on the other hand, I was too busy trying to emulate big-budget games on a small scale, and the effort just failed. It was clear that I was biting off more than I could chew with this one, though the game did find a fan in Chu! Bam! Pow!

This is not to say that I’m abandoning the sci-fi/fantasy space — far from it. It’s just that I was so dismissive of my earlier effort that I just didn’t see the good in it. Perhaps I’m too hard on Parasite Lance as well, but I really do feel that Jitteh Dawn is almost like a snapshot of my thought process ten years ago.

I miss those days.

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