The resolutions were a mixed bag. Though I did exceptionally -- almost legendarily -- well on one of them in particular, and did pretty decent with a few others, one I absolutely failed on, officially now that the comp has started, is to develop of a game for IFCOMP 2020. I had a game I wanted to make, but both didn't have the time/energy/passion to follow through, and also couldn't think of a way to make it interactive, rather than just telling the story. It's a real-life story that not many people know about but which became very personal to me the first time I made the trip up I-71 from Tennessee to Cincinnati to visit my wife's parents.
I'll just broad-stroke my vision of the game here, so you can at least know what I was thinking, and maybe learn something about the event the game was about.
(c) 2020 Jolt Country Games
An Interactive Remembrance
May 14, 1988
The game begins, and you are a teenager on a road trip in the Assembly of God church bus from Radcliff, KY, on a weekend trip to Kings Island, my local theme park and coaster-lovers' haven. You are excited to get there to ride what was at the time the longest/fastest/most exciting/etc. wooden roller coaster in the world, the titular "Beast". Editor's note: The ride still exists, and it's absolutely horrible. Alternating between boring and excruciatingly rough and painful, it now exists only to draw unaware general public who saw it on a "top 10" list somewhere, or coaster enthusiasts who need to add it to their list. Back then, though, I can imagine it was much more enjoyable.
You get to the park, roll around with your Christian friends doing various things, but the game draws you somehow to ride the thing. The scene switches.
Now you are a 34-year-old factory worker named Larry Mahoney, at your local bar in Carrollton, KY. You've had one too many, so decide to hit the head, take care of business, and then on your way out, decide to have another for the road. After some suggestions from the other locals to call a cab, you insist you are fine and head out in your pickup for the short trip home. The entrance to the freeway seems strangely silent.
The scene switches back, and you are climbing onto the Beast. What follows was to be a pretty accurate reflection of the various twists and turns of the ride as it existed back then. This would require some research, because describing it now would just be a continuing stream of "This is very painful and boring. Press z to continue." for about 54 turns. But I could have made it interesting.
You get off the ride. The scene switches again. A quick scene.
You are camping with your wife at a campsite somewhere along KY-389. Around the campfire, sipping some Jack and Cokes, your romantic revelry is shaken by a loud crack
and a flash of light from somewhere over the hill.
The scene switches back.
Your tour of Kings Island is complete, and giddy from a day of thrills and celebration of the Lord's grace shining on you and your friends, you get back on the bus for the trip home.
While driving south on 71 around Carrollton, a shattering head-on collision with a pickup truck driving the wrong way sends the bus into an unspeakable hellscape. The front of the bus erupts in searing, fuel-ignited fire, as friends and teachers are incinerated around you, as you attempt to escape through the back. With everyone crowded together lurching for the rear exit, more friends are trampled and burned in this living nightmare. Somehow, you escape and are later able to tell the tale.
The scene switches to the secretly titular Beast, an older Larry Mahoney, released from prison but hiding by himself in his home, living with the absolute horror he, through one terrible mistake, unleashed upon this little pocket of the world.
I think what strikes me most about it is that the day these people had included the most joyous and the most horrific things I could imagine, all within the span of a few hours.
The fact that it happened on a happy weekend to these fun-seeking kids, and also to this generally decent guy who just made the worst decision and worst mistake possible, just makes it all the more tragic to me.
I wanted to tell this story in an IF game, but I don't know how. If anyone reading this can think of a way, let me know. Maybe this can be ICJ's next joint project.
The game ends with this picture, which is what I noticed during that first trip up 71, and sent me on this journey of discovery of this story that still makes me shiver every time I think about it: