A Post-Mortem of The Dead Account, Weird Grief, & My Game Development Career (For Now)

You can watch the post-mortem here: A Post-Mortem of The Dead Account, Weird Grief, & My Game Development Career (For Now) - YouTube
Link to my Twitter thread & blog post: https://twitter.com/NaomiNorbez/status/1461867544285954050?s=20
Contains swearing & discussion of sexual activity (nothing explicit).
Feel free to share your thoughts or any questions you may have.
:wave:

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There definitely is a problem with games not getting enough attention, and you’re not the first author I’ve seen quit over this.

Comps help a little, but as you say, they heavily select for whichever kind of game most players enjoy most. (This can’t be fixed, either: changing the mix of judges changes what kind of game does best, but there’s still some standard to conform to.) They’re also, well, competitive, so each game takes attention away from the others.

I can think of solutions to get games more attention, like more comps and festivals. I’m less sure about how to match games with players who’d be interested in that specific game, or how to elicit more compliments.

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I’m sad to hear this, as someone who actually played partway through Weird Grief, though not for rating purposes. I should have rated it, because the rating it got was absurd (and I also think works which deal frankly with sex are important). I must say that I far prefer your approach to the Twine form to the giant Twines with parser envy which try to do world simulation. I think it was pretty ridiculous for anybody to say it ‘doesn’t count’ as IF.

I also am frustrated by the difficulty the Comp has with experimental work. I think it’s a real failing of the community, to be honest. And even though I don’t know you or your work very well, I’m upset that the artistically conservative strands of the Comp judging pool have pushed you out.

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I sent a PM. I’m saying this more for onlookers than Bez, because Bez will have the PM, but uh, I know when I see a topic like this, I don’t want to reply in public. But I’m also curious as to - has anyone replied yet? It’s the kind of thought you have when there are no replies on the topic yet, like there were at the time.

-Wade

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@hawkbyte
Yes, it is a difficult problem. One to which I have not seen a solution to, currently


@EpicIFer
I will respond to you on YouTube as well, but here is what I have to say:
If you read the post I linked in the description of my video, you will have seen that I have tried to create to ~myself~, and doing that has brought me quite a bit of sadness. Furthermore, you will have seen my discussion of wanting to be recognized for making "good IF’, something I also touched on in the video. So your words ring quite hollow, and makes me wonder if you truly paid attention to the words I am trying to get across.


@Lava_Ghost
Thank you. It is frustrating, and it is a failing. Unfortunately, I have not found a place for experimental IFs to really thrive. It would be nice if there was an event for them.


@severedhand
I received and responded to your PM. I don’t understand the question you’re asking here, though. Can you please elaborate?

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I don’t know about this, but maybe @Adam_S knows. Would IF Art Show be an acceptable venue for “fringe” IF works? There should be at least one available, right?

No question, your honour! I was just trying to say, when someone sees a topic like this that’s potentially confronting (the video’s content) then they see no replies, they may wonder, ‘Hm, has anybody said anything yet?’ That’s how I felt when I saw the topic originally, and that there were no replies. So I was just saying, for anyone who came later and felt the same way I did previously, that someone (me) had sent a PM. Whew, what a tedious bit of clarification I’ve effected here.

-Wade

As a side note, I do honor and respect your wishes to stop offering writing. Honestly, I have had the same feelings, many times. I have ‘sat out’ this recent Comp as well as Spring Thing. True it’s exhausting, and it’s heartbreaking, no one seems to care (although there are those who do). I keep writing because I love doing it and creating games. There are times that you just get burnt out. I can relate to that. I am sorry that my words ‘ring hollow’ and they must sound patronizing, but I guess that’s just my way to say that we hope you come back.

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8 posts were split to a new topic: IF Art Show / Festival discussion

Bez, I’m sorry I’ve been one of the people who doesn’t engage much, but for what it’s worth, I’ve really enjoyed your games. And the fringe always feeds into the mainstream eventually, so even people who don’t think they like “weird” games owe a debt to creators like you.

I’d love to see an IF Fringe. I might even consider hosting one - but I’m pretty bad at keeping commitments (this year I even found out I have a medical excuse for that) so I’d frankly rather someone else did. But if no one else does…

ParserComp spurred me into making a game in a form that I probably wouldn’t have made again. An IF Fringe would spur me, and others, I hope, into making something new and weird, while also providing a natural space for people whose whole shtick is new and weird. It wouldn’t get as much traffic as IFComp, but we know there are creators who aren’t even entering IFComp because they don’t feel their weird games are welcome there, so who knows.

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Hey Bez. All I can say is I feel your pain. That was me last year. I raged quit. I didn’t do it publicly, but I was done. I lurked on the forums over the past year, but I was a little bitter about it. Then this year, when the comp started, I saw the warm and welcoming atmosphere, and it made me want to enter again. I don’t know. Everyone was so happy. Then an idea hit me out of the blue. Now I’m thinking about entering 2022.

Give it time. I needed to walk away after feeling burnt. Maybe you’ll come around as I did, or not. It was hard for me to walk away because I really enjoy the programming plus writing. It’s an interesting combination that you find nowhere else.

In the end, do what you enjoy. If you’re not enjoying this, quit. I had to. But if you still enjoy this, then do it at least for yourself. A creator has to create. And who knows, you might write “that” game one day.

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And rightly so, since he deserves it. I don’t think we will enter our games expecting to rank highly. I certainly didn’t. I do expect to get good experimental feedback with none of the abuses. Things like:

  1. “Your life sucks.” Hey, it’s fiction.
  2. “Your game sucks, and it cannot be improved.” My game is perfect, just not to your taste.
  3. “I don’t have to tell you what the right thing is.” You don’t know either, huh? Then shut up and stop abusing me.

I certainly can accept if my game is incomplete, or otherwise faulty. I cannot accept poisonous community that harass and abuse people, just because they submit fringe, unpopular games.

I don’t see a problem with “Experimental” tag in ParserComp, that will be evaluated separately. But somehow these Fringe games aren’t experimental, and I’m not sure I want to tag it “Fringe” or “Niche” or “Subculture” because those are loaded words. But this is why I put this thing out there for discussions. I’d rather have “Art” tag on it, even if it conjures the image of toilet on wall in an art museum.

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@DrkStarr @Norbez

I’ve had this often over the course of my 40+ years on the planet. Not necessarily from reception to games I’ve released (as I haven’t released any :sweat_smile:) but more in the feeling of pushing an elephant up the stairs when trying to get a passion project moving; and just getting no interest from Joe Public. Occasionally it strikes a chord and gets a lot of interest (like ParserComp) and sometimes its an incredibly isolating, lonely, depressing journey where it feels like I am literally the only person on the planet who is interested. You can reach out to 100s of content creators, bloggers, journalists, and get not so much as a reply telling you “stop contacting me you looney, before I get a restraining order”. Then another person ties their shoelace and content creators fall over themselves to write about it!

It can feel like pouring you heart and soul into something, only for it to generate nothing but apathy.

In short, you’re not on your own!

Adam

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Hi Bez. I watched your video, and the thing I noticed is that your sense of self-worth seems to be very tightly bound up with how your work is received. As artists, our work tends to become a defining detail of who we are, so when our art is not perhaps as popular as we hoped, our very identity feels threatened. I know this from personal experience.

Please don’t fall into that trap. We are more than our work, we are human beings. Self-love should not come with qualifications.

In a way, it’s a pity that the IF world is so focused on the competition. It would be lovely if a game released outside the comp got all the reviews and discussion that comp games get, but without the competitive aspect. IF is incredibly varied, and sometimes the comp can feel like comparing apples and oranges.

I enjoyed playing your games. Since watching your video I also went back and re-read the reviews, and there’s a good deal of praise in them. They’ve generated a lot of discussion too, as the more personal, experimental games tend to. I’ve never yet written a game that merited its own discussion thread.

I think a revival of the IF Art Show is a great idea. We already have Spring Thing, which is meant to be a “festival” rather than a competition, where more experimental works are encouraged - it’s why Grim Curio and I chose it for Excalibur. It doesn’t get quite the attention IFComp does, but the expectations are slightly different. But a dedicated, non-competitive “art” show would be great too.

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I didn’t play your game, but I did watch your Youtube video. Hope you don’t mind if I share my reactions :slightly_smiling_face:.

You evidently have the instincts of a writer. You like to explore ideas. When you become interested in characters, they suggest their development to you.

But you pick a tough crowd when you write a piece for an IF competition. I learned that myself when I submitted a work-in-progress to the Spring Thing Festival Back Garden. I was not prepared for the rigorous and forensic dissection of what at that point was a temporary implementation of some immature ideas.

For clarity: I have no criticism of any judge who takes the time to read/play a piece and then invests additional time in a structured critique. The person who supplied feedback on my bit of work did me a huge favour in communicating his perspective. But I did feel bruised at the time.

Those of us who choose to make experimental work in non-traditional media can’t really count on widespread recognition, approval or fame. Maybe retrospectively in a couple of decade’s time. But instant validation is not a realistic expectation.

Why not cast your nets elsewhere for a while? Why not make more Youtube videos? I would watch them, and I’m sure so would many others. Please don’t stop considering yourself a writer, though.

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That’s a really good idea actually. If it helps then I’ve found that creating a YouTube video and then sharing into gaming Reddit subreddits generates a fair bit of interest and discussion. I’m sure must be an experimental game subreddit.

Adam :slightly_smiling_face::v:

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I would totally subscribe to a Bez podcast or Let’s Plays on YouTube!

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Do you find that you feel angry and frustrated, but feel unable to express that or share it because in doing so you fear the response will be that you are accused of “feeling entitled”?

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Hi Norbez. I just wanted to express goodwill.

I was pretty involved with a different art scene for a number of years, and, despite some minor successes, I never really felt like I was getting anywhere. Like you, I wanted to feel seen. After all, I had started making art as a way to connect with people–to explain things I didn’t know how to explain any other way.

Lots of well-meaning people told me that I had to do it for myself, but there’s a point where doing it for myself became doing it to myself.

I don’t have any wisdom or life advice. I just wanted to acknowledge your experience and say I hope things get better. Wanting to be seen isn’t unreasonable; it’s a basic human need.

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Apparently, my original response was too old-fashioned, so let me say it another way.

  1. I came in 70th out of 71st. Someone has to win, and someone has to lose. You can use your ranking as motivation or as discouragement, but it’s your choice.
  2. You do realize that fewer than 100 people on the entire planet saw your game, right? That’s true for everyone’s games, even the first-place winner. IFComp isn’t the Oscars.
  3. Take a breather and get outside of your head for a minute. You’ve been focusing on how others interpreted YOUR game, but how did you interact with other people’s games? Did you play them all, even the “weird” or “fringe” ones? Did you write supportive comments to those “less popular” authors? Etc etc. Got to give what you want to get.
  4. It’s good that you’re passionate - without it, you can’t live as a writer. But step outside and forget the world of words for a bit because life is big, and stories are only a part of it.

Other than that, hang in there.

If this gets censored, then hell, I don’t know what to do.

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