Blurbs for IFComp

Thanks for starting this thread!

Here’s what I have so far:

“You? Win the Libonotus Cup?” Sammy scoffs. “I’d be impressed if the Pink Flamingo makes it to the starting line, let alone Portobello.”

“Aye,” you say, “me ship may have taken a beating in that last raid, but I’ll bet ye 500 doubloons I can still beat you to the finish line!”

You’d better cracking, the race starts at dawn and your ship isn’t exactly seaworthy.

It’s just a slightly trimmed version of the game’s opening text, my reasoning being that both share the goal of getting the player up to speed on what the setting (slightly silly 17th century Caribbean pirates) and immediate goal (fix the protagonist’s ship) are. Is there other information I should be trying to convey in the blurb? Any other comments?

That sounds great! I always want to know something about the gameplay: is it parser-based? Choice? Does it have puzzles? I always get games with blurbs that tell me not only what kind of story I’m getting, but what kind of game I’m getting.

Nitpicks:
I’d change "beat you " to “beat ye”.
I’m not crazy about the ellipsis where it is-- maybe move it here: “You’d better get cracking… the race starts at dawn”.

I feel personally challenged to get the Pink Flamingo to Portobello and destroy Sammy! Especially since I don’t have 500 doubloons lying around.

3 Likes

I’d agree that you should remove the ellipses. I think also maybe change the comma in the last sentence to an exclamation mark or hard stop or something.

I think the entries have a display option for * * which might be recent? I think it’s recent. But unless they’re changing the UI (IFComp 2020) you’re fine leaving those out of the blurb.

2 Likes

Is there a way on the IFComp entry form to do a line break in the blurb? I’ve spent an hour trying to do this. It reads paragraph breaks, but not line breaks. If you try to do it with spaces, it won’t let you keep hitting space on the next line. Argh.

Possibly not? I assume you’ve tried <br> ?

The page says HTML isn’t allowed and I couldn’t get it to work from testing, so probably not, unfortunately. @AmandaB, have you tried getting in touch with the Comp organizers? In my experience they’re pretty responsive, and would probably be best positioned to help.

1 Like

Well, I was hoping there was just something easy I had overlooked, since that’s usually the case when I can’t do something on a computer. It’s not the world’s biggest deal if I can’t format my blurb exactly the way I want, and I know the organizers are probably crazy busy right now. I’ll just figure it out without line breaks.
Thanks as always!

Great thread! I want to try to show my blurbs too:

1st entry:

“Moog, we got a new run! Quit fiddling with your irons and put the batteries on charge,” a printout of the waybill flops down next to the big round magnet I’m lying under. Releasing the wrench, which immediately stuck to the round plate, I grab the printout and run my eyes over it. Yep. Haul from the Enclaves to the Citadel, one refrigerated container, one day. At the bottom are a few typical notes:

  • Under any circumstances DON’T raise the temperature of the cargo.
  • Under any circumstances DON’T open the cargo hull.
  • Under any circumstances DON’T let the cargo fall into the hands of the savages.

With a sigh, I scramble out from under the hovercraft and go to quarrel with the charging station.

2nd entry:

How is it even possible to be so unlucky: left alone in a foreign country, in the middle of a sprawling city, with no knowledge of its strange culture and the language? In times when the world around suddenly decided to end.

Do they spark some interest?
I don’t give any information about the genre or the form of the games. Does it sound ok?

Yes, definitely! (At least my interest.) :slight_smile:

About the first entry

I like it! It’s written in character, we get a glimpse of a potentially post-apocalyptic setting, and there is a clear sense of what it is about, and that there will be opportunities for excitement and danger. One is immediately curious about what’s in the container, what will happen if we open the cargo hull, and who these savages are.

Some suggestions for small improvements:

  • In my opinion, when there is a quoted piece of speech followed by a comma and another part of a sentence, that latter sentence should express how the quotation was said.
    So, for example: "Moog, [...]," the captain shouted.
    If it is not directly related in that way to the quotation, then the quotation should end with a full stop or an exclamation mark, and a new sentence should begin after that. So: "Moog, we got a new run! Quit fiddling with your irons and put the batteries on charge!" A printout of the waybill flops down next to the big round magnet I’m lying under.

  • which immediately stuck”: I think it should be present tense ("sticks", or: “gets stuck”) instead of past tense

  • I grab the printout and run my eyes over it” could be shortened to “I grab the printout” (because it’s clear from the next sentences that the protagonist is then describing the contents of the waybill)

  • Maybe I’d write out the DO NOT instead of contracting it, so that there is even more emphasis on the prohibition; and maybe I’d change the word order:
    DO NOT under any circumstances raise the temperature of the cargo.” (etc.)

  • And another, very minor nitpick: I’d rather use “to wrestle with” if the sense is “to try to deal with a troublesome inanimate thing”.
    (At least I think that’s more typical than saying “to quarrel with”, but the latter could also be fine as figurative language; or of course it might be actual quarrelling if the charging station has an AI inside.)

So, putting it all together:

“Moog, we got a new run! Quit fiddling with your irons and put the batteries on charge!”
A printout of the waybill flops down next to the big round magnet I’m lying under. Releasing the wrench, which immediately sticks to the round plate, I grab the printout. Yep. Haul from the Enclaves to the Citadel, one refrigerated container, one day. At the bottom are a few typical notes:

  • DO NOT under any circumstances raise the temperature of the cargo.
  • DO NOT under any circumstances open the cargo hull.
  • DO NOT under any circumstances let the cargo fall into the hands of the savages.

With a sigh, I scramble out from under the hovercraft and go to wrestle with the charging station.

About the second entry

This one is a bit more unspecific/mysterious.

From the blurb alone, it could be a serious slice-of-life work with a sad tone – for example, it might be about the experiences of a tourist in Berlin or Paris or Beijing, during a sudden COVID-related lockdown.
Or it could turn out to be a comedy where we have to deal with funny cultural mishaps, or even a “classic” puzzler where the protagonist gets involved in a hair-raising adventure.

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, just that it seems less clear what we’re getting into as players.

If it’s set in a real-world city, then I think it would intrigue me more, if you gave the name of the city.
If I’ve been there, I’ll be curious if your depiction of it matches with my impressions, and if I’ve not been there, then I’ll be curious because I hope to get a glimpse of that foreign city, as portrayed by someone who has first-hand experience or did the research.

“In times when the world around suddenly decided to end.”

That part sounds a bit “off”, but I’m not sure how best to rewrite it.

Here’s my (hesitant) suggestion with minimal changes:

How is it even possible to be so unlucky: left alone in a foreign country, in the middle of a sprawling city, with no knowledge of its strange culture and language, at a time when the world has suddenly decided to end?

About the meta-information: If you don’t have particular technical requirements which the players should know about, then I think it’s fine to leave out that part. Whether it’s parser- or choice-based will already be noted in an extra field below the blurb.

2 Likes

In addition to @StJohnLimbo’s great comments, note that the only control over layout that the IFComp site allows for blurbs is paragraph breaks so you might not be able to make the list look like that.

1 Like

I think StJohnLimbo’s suggestions are great! I disagree about wrestle vs quarrel, though. I like wrestle better.

And Nils is right-- you won’t be able to format it with the instructions tabbed over like that. I still think it will read fine.

Having played the game, I can say this is a really good indicator of the major interest points in it.

I think the genre of the game is clear from the blurb! Plus there is a place to label the genre on the Comp form. I always like to know what kind of game it is before I play: parser based, choice, etc. But that will be on the Comp form, too.
Although games do last long past the Comp.

1 Like

Thanks!
About wrestle: my wording above was maybe a little unclear, but that was what I suggested, too (whereas the OP’s blurb had “quarrel”). :slight_smile:

Oops! Sorry. Then it’s perfect. It wasn’t you who was unclear. It was me trying to read after a traumatic experience this AM: dealing with a particularly aggressive puddle of dog vomit.

1 Like

Ouch, that’s bad! I hope the dog is feeling better, and maybe you can exploit the experience sometime by turning the puddle into a puzzle in a future IF game. :wink:

I see how one can understand my meaning as:
“I’d [only] use ‘wrestle’ if [a hypothetical counterfactual case]”
– whereas what I meant was:
“I’d [actually] use ‘wrestle’ [here], if [a case that I actually think is the case]”.

1 Like

I’ve enjoyed following this topic. I always put my own blurb off for a while, but I have something non-last-minute.


Once upon a time, an adult let you win. They were sneaky enough about it, you didn’t realize it until years later.

Looking back, it both wasn’t anything huge, and it was. You always wanted to bring it up, but it was hard to.

Time to pass it on. Don’t worry. It shouldn’t take long. You might enjoy it as much as that adult did.


1 Like

I’ll toss in my 2 cents also.

An excerpt isn’t a bad idea for a blurb, and the suggestions given are good. I would only put forth my personal preference is opt for brevity whenever possible. If I see a wall of text as a blurb, I go immediately into “skim” mode. For the blurb, you can certainly edit down from what’s in the full game to sharpen the hook:

That’s a little different from what you have, but it gets across the laconic familiarity with dangerous safety issues that sound like they will come into play without using a bulleted list, and obliquely sets up the conflict - at least from what I’m guessing - “routine mission goes wrong”.

You’ve got three short paragraphs and each does a “this - but maybe not” flip. You could perhaps put it all together more smoothly like:

Once upon a time (though you didn’t realize until years later) an adult let you win. It wasn’t huge, but it was. Time to do the same. It shouldn’t take long, and - maybe you will enjoy it?

I’d almost prefer you mention what is being “won” unless that’s a spoiler. A boardgame?

1 Like

It definitely intrigues. I have several ideas on what the game might be about, so it’s vague on what the story will be like. This could be a sweet coming-of-age tale, or a game about a game, or even a horror story (because I have a bent toward horror, I always see it where it might not be). I don’t know if that ambiguity is what you’re aiming for.

Suggestions:

Once upon a time, an adult let you win. They were so sneaky about it that you didn’t realize it until years later.

Looking back, it wasn’t anything huge. Or was it? You always wanted to bring it up, but it was hard to do.

Time to pass it on. Don’t worry. It shouldn’t take long. You might enjoy it as much as that adult did.

Hope this helps!

1 Like

A fictitious blurb based on @AmandaB 's traumatic experience:

Max has been acting strange the last few days, always trying to ride up against the refrigerator. You’ve noticed a creaking whistle when he rests his head in your lap, there’s a metallic clang in his bark and his farts smell like gasoline.
To top it all off, he puked all over the kitchen floor this morning and when you cleaned it up, you found some grease-covered nuts and bolts.
In other, completely unrelated news, your neighbour claims to have been abducted by aliens last week…

1 Like

The barf really did have the makings of a terrible horror story. Mostly because a lot of it was… er… re-ingested while I sprinted for a sponge and paper towels, wailing “NOOOOOOOO!” all the while.
Then she licked me.

1 Like