Hansel Post Mortem
Date Written: November 20th, 2022 | Posted on 12/30/22
SPOILERS FOR THE GAME BELOW– please don’t until you’ve gotten the true ending of Hansel! Or if you don’t mind spoilers :)
Over 5 years after finishing the game, I think I can finally write down my thoughts of having released it. I've always wanted to write one of these post mortems but I never knew where to write it or where to put it. But now that I made this site, I'm confident to write my reflection. The best time to have written my reflection was shortly after the original release but who says I can't do it now– years later! >:]
Hansel was my first game. It wasn't the first game that I thought of doing but it was the first game that I can proudly say that I made. I remember starting the concept art back in 2013! Back then, the original concept was that the twins were children stuck in a wicked witch's castle– it was definitely inspired by some older RPG horrors. I worked on that version of the game up until releasing a demo of that version!
But some may know that I thought I had lost the project file after releasing that demo. At that time, I didn't know anything about backing up files or anything like that. I had just gotten into high school! I learned a very important lesson from that.
Truthfully though, I was actually unhappy with that version of the game. It was, in my opinion, a little generic. It didn't have anything that stood out to me. So I used the excuse that I lost the game data to restart the game. And so I restarted all my progress around 2015. The funny thing is– I confess– that I found the lost file shortly after. Turns out I just didn't know how to find the project file after exporting the demo.
Plot and Characters
The new story for Hansel was what took me the longest to figure out. Maybe I should eventually write another post about the thought process behind my plotting. The whole timeline jumping story was definitely tricky to work with, especially since I was trying to avoid plotholes. Honestly, I think there could still be some plotholes in the game if someone looks hard enough but I tried my best to make it as airtight as possible. I didn’t expect the plot to go that deep, and it was a contributor to the impossibly large scope I had in mind for the game.
But, looking back, would I change anything about the plot? Hmm I don’t think so… I’m actually happy with it! I would, however, have added more to the game to have made it more clear. Maybe a little more foreshadowing here and there, aside from the cryptic dialogue from the Shop Clerk, Witch, and Walter.
Speaking of Walter, I really love the twins! They were super fun to write and draw and I enjoyed fleshing out their morally gray characters. Originally, they were supposed to be innocent, naive, lost little boys. I’m not exactly sure when they changed into murderers? Cheeky little gremlins! Oliver and Walter are selfish; they only care for each other– though, Oliver is a little warmer than Walter. To Oliver and Walter, they are doing what they think is right.
I haven’t gotten the chance to work with another character like them. But I would like to revisit them sometime in the future. Oh! And I almost forgot! Oliver and Walter do have a last name: Oliver Grim and Walter Grim. The Brothers Grim! Hehe! Sorry.
If there was one thing I could go back and change, it’s the whole New Game+ mechanic. It’s tedious for just a few little extra bits of information until reaching the true ending. The biggest changes I would make are to skip puzzles that were already completed in the first playthrough. Especially the sliding puzzle!! I know some players weren’t too happy about having to do it again (me included lol). I could’ve just put in some dialogue that Walter went ahead and solved the puzzle for the player or something like that. That tediousness is something I regret a lot.
Just because I can get through the game in 30 minutes doesn’t mean my players will, especially since I played through the game 50+ times through testing! Lesson learned for next time. :)
The biggest problem I had developing this game was dealing with the magnitude of the scope. I wanted there to be:
- A timer countdown system: Players had a limited amount of time to get out of the house. (This is why the crow says that they have to hurry and leave the enchanted forest or else they’ll get stuck forever; and in New Game+ where Walter says that there is no time limit, which would’ve resulted in the countdown being removed.)
- A weed-killing minigame: The empty garden behind the twins’ house was the play area. But that idea was scrapped pretty early and the garden stayed barren.
- An HP system: Like in other RPG maker games, interacting badly with the environment would result in losing health and eventually a game over.
- A bigger maze: The candy maze was supposed to be bigger lol
- Even more puzzles!
- And some other stuff I don’t remember
I just really wanted to avoid relying on a lot of fetch quests, even though Hansel still ended up having quite a few. I also didn’t want to rely on chase sequences– but oh! I knew from the start of the new version that I wanted to do something different with one of the chase sequences: have the player be the one doing the chasing instead >:]
Also, I think the keys are my favorite part of the gameplay! I dunno, I thought it was cute hehe
Pixel art!! It’s all pixel art! I even looked for royalty-free chiptune music! I’m not sure I’d make another game with all of the art being pixel art again just because of how much work it is. But pixel art has such a nice look to it… hmm…
I wouldn’t change anything about the art aside from fixing some anatomy issues here and there :) I was actually really proud of myself for the art when I first released the game!
Hansel is my first game and the first big creative project that I released out into the world. I’ve moved on to other stuff but Hansel comes back to my head every once in a while. Do I maybe want to give it a FMA: Brotherhood treatment? Or remaster it? Remake it? Make a comic based on the game? Make different games set in the Brothers “Grim” universe? We’ll see >:]
I don’t ever like completely closing the book on any of my projects since I like to revisit their worlds. So is there more Hansel in the future? Maybe! I sincerely hope so! I believe Hansel can stand on its own pretty well, but I want to explore more of the world where the witch twins have been left to their own devices.
And one last note! I’ve never revealed why the game is titled Hansel. It’s obviously inspired from Hansel and Gretel, but the game is about two brothers stuck in a witch’s house; not a brother and sister. So I just dropped the Gretel part. “Hansel” was just kinda the temporary codename for the project, but I ended up just leaving it!