Announce: the 2016 Spring Thing Festival!

I’m very pleased to announce Spring Thing 2016!

Spring Thing is an annual festival celebrating new text-based computer games of all kinds. Originally founded as an off-season counterweight to the larger fall Interactive Fiction Competition, the current incarnation of the Thing is a less competitive space with looser restrictions. Without the two-hour judging limit of IF Comp, for instance, longer games are welcomed (although shorter games are fine, too!) There’s no fee to enter, but you do have to submit an “intent to enter” in advance. And there are prizes!

The details can be found at the official Spring Thing site, but in brief:

  • Games must be debuts and in a well-polished state (bug tested, etc.)
  • You must submit an intent to enter by March 8th, and your game itself by April 1st.
  • Your game must be free to play, and will be archived on the Spring Thing site after the festival closes, although:
  • You can submit to the “Back Garden” to showcase a demo of a game you’re planning to sell, or a polished excerpt of something unfinished.

Check out the site for more info, and I’m happy to answer any questions here or sent to aaron at Thanks, and happy writing!


Um, the website seems to be down. It was there a few weeks ago, but its “hosting” is now borked.

Fixed now-- sorry about that!

Can we submit something we finished writing earlier? (like… months earlier?)

Yes-- as opposed to a typical game jam or Speed IF setup, there’s no restriction on when the game was created or written, as long it hasn’t been released before the Spring Thing festival opens in April. The game should be making its public debut in the festival.

Should we also then avoid making source public?

I’d like to use source control, but having that listed publicly could amount to people being able to figure the game earlier. A private repository is no problem (and it’s what I’m planning to do,) but I know other people use source control to help with development/bugs, too.

Yes, I would say having most of the game’s source code publicly available before the festival launches would count as a public release, so don’t do that if you’re planning on participating. [emote]:)[/emote]

(This certainly doesn’t preclude you from using publicly available extensions, libraries, engines, etcetera, or even developing custom ones for your project and making them publicly available before Spring Thing. But the code or prose that directly brings to life the specific story you want to release in Spring Thing should be “new” at the time the festival opens.)

Debuts to Spring Thing, or first published game by the author, or the first time that game is published?


Debut game, not author.

Yep: the game cannot have been previously released at the time the festival opens.

Ah, that’s not what I was hoping, but it makes sense: It’s easier to believe a competition is fair if there’s at least a notion of what equal ground looks like.

In general, as a matter of motivation, I tend to want everything I do to have some application beyond the immediate project in front of me. Therefore, the majority of what I make is in the form of library code and rough story notes. I maintain both of these out in the open, just in case their incomplete status is good enough to be interesting to someone.

Polishing is a rare thing for me, and I’ve been interested in ways to encourage myself to put things in a releasable state. IFComp probably isn’t a good option; I don’t necessarily expect my games to have a two-hour completion time. Spring Thing seemed like a possible avenue, and maybe it still is…

My published libraries and notes don’t include final prose, so I could still follow the rules of Spring Thing. It’s a little bit of a challenge because I’ll be splitting my attention between public and private content, so I’ll have to figure out if Spring Thing motivates me enough to make up the difference.

Is there another IF-related event that would make sense for open-source projects? For now, a few people I know do NaNoWriMo/NaNoGenMo, and since these aren’t rigorously judged, I can join in the solidarity with them while bending the rules to suit my project. But that’s only one month of the year. (Starting any second now! [emote]:D[/emote] ) If some IF competition has an author chat room that’s welcoming to someone who isn’t aspiring to prizes and who’s bending a few of the rules, I bet that’d be pretty ideal for me.

I don’t know of an event that meets these specific criteria – most I can think of are either a “game is unveiled in the event” kind of thing or a “we’re all starting at the same time” kind of thing (like Ludum Dare or Speed-IF events).

Outside of IF, there are competitions like IndieCade / IGF that don’t care about either of these (your game typically just has to have been released or at least come to prominence in the last year) and typically have awards for the winners, but the closest IF has to this is the XYZZYs, which you’re nominated for rather than submit to. These also tend to be associated with in-person events where an audience can come and experience all the games at once, and there’s less value (though not none) for that in an online-based community.

(I should note that there’s nothing in the Spring Thing rules restricting author speech, so you’re free to blog about your dev process or whatever else to your heart’s content. It’s just the game itself that shouldn’t be released before the event.)

While it would be interesting to have an event for in-development or already-released-but-still-improving games, I’m hesitant to move Spring Thing in that direction. There are no longer prizes or rankings in the Thing, so having it be just celebrating a collection of games you’ve possibly already heard about would seem to be diluting the specialness of it.

I have done NaNoWriMo for years, although I’ve never tried writing IF during it. I imagine that investing 50 hours in a game might have some nice results.

As far as comps for games in progress: how about IntroComp?