Blurbs for IFComp

I really like brevity so I’d chop the first one even harder than @HanonO:

“Moog, we got a new run! Quit fiddling with your irons and charge the batteries.”

A waybill flutters down. I grab it, dropping my wrench which flies up to stick to the giant magnet above me.

Yep. Enclaves to the Citadel, one refrigerated container, one day, typical warnings IN BOLD: keep cold, don’t open, watch out for savages, this end up, blah blah blah.

Sighing, I scramble out from under the hovercraft to go wrestle with the charger.

“put the batteries on charge”: I think I’d say “charge the batteries” here. The original is…it’s not quite passive voice but it feels more indirect and not quite idiomatic to me.

“printout of the waybill”: if it wasn’t a hardcopy of some kind it wouldn’t be flopping down, so just “waybill” is enough. And I think of “flutter” or maybe “swoop” as what paper does when you drop it: for me, “flop” has slight connotations of being limp and heavier, maybe boneless? Flop is what your tired old dog does when he’s been running around for too long.

“big round magnet I’m lying under” / “stuck to the round plate”: same description twice in a row, try to combine them.

“I grab the printout and run my eyes over it”: if you move this up to the start of the sentence, you can just say “it” instead of “the printout”. And obviously you’re going to read it, so you don’t need to describe that.

“Under any circumstances DON’T”: we all know what it looks like when the legal department makes the company put paranoid warnings on something. I’m not sure that putting that language here really adds anything except more words. I’d summarize in the character’s voice (and I find it amusing putting the “WARNING: HOSTILES” in the middle of the banal cargo handling instructions).

“quarrel with the charging station”: yeah, as others have said, “quarrel” isn’t quite idiomatic here. But also “charging station” sounds a little odd to my ear? I’d say “charger” unless you really want to imply that it’s a stationary unit that’s either too big to move or built into the wall or something. And in that case, “wrestle with” sounds wrong, so I’d say “fight with the charging station.” But personally I like the physicality of “wrestle with the charger” better.

Anyway. My personal preferences, your mileage may vary, your dialect may vary, take it with a grain of salt, etc. :slight_smile:


“Moog! Quit fiddling!” The captain tosses a waybill. “Charge the batteries! We’ve got a new run!”

Yep. It’s the old yada yada. Maybe I’m slow, but I still don’t know what the genre is. A clue lies in the hovercraft, instead of spaceship.

Presumably, this isn’t a space opera. It can still be scifi, or action, adventure, or even romance. The story can be drama, comedy, or tragic. Tones can be funny, sappy, or bittersweet. Period can be old war, current, or future.

Not to be insulting, but usually with Nanowrimo, whenever somebody showed his writing sample, I would be embarrassed at my writing style. Mine is not at all literary style. Not this time.

That “Moog,” doesn’t end with an exclamation mark always bothered me since the captain was shouting. But with it, you don’t need to say it. It’s clear that the captain was shouting. But it’s not clear whether the captain is male, female, robot, or alien. Even uplifted animal is a possibility. Also, the main character, BTW.

The game? Is that Parser or Choice? Don’t know. It can be either way. Will it be Epic or Local? Fast pace or plodding? Just because the blurb isn’t contradictory to the game, doesn’t mean it hints properly.

So, it really doesn’t tell me anything at this point, except writing style, and the style certainly isn’t a literary style. More like dime novel paperback style.

Sorry to be the lone voice in the wilderness, but I don’t want you to feel that these people purposely give advice that is, uh, suboptimal, because they’re your competitors in IFComp. I think they mean well, but they’re certainly not Nanowrimo experts. But hey, what do you expect from a bunch of savages/pirates? :wink:

You don’t even need to say it. That kind of statement is filler. Just directly describe the content. Unless, that is, the rest of the crew are handicapped in some ways that being able to grab items and read is special. Somehow, I feel that is not your intention.


Also, "Charge the batteries " is suspect. The only way that makes sense is if they’re hi cap batteries, but that technology isn’t widely known. Usually, batteries are trickle charged. So “Load the batteries!” makes more sense. But that may break the game, depending on how it’s done.

Thanks @HanonO and @AmandaB … I would like to keep things hidden and ambiguous, because people will figure it out shortly when they start, and I think it’ll be fun. I’d really like people to think about times adults let them win at … well, whatever, be it sports, a board game, or maybe a computer game, or maybe letting a kid figure out their magic trick, or making a scavenger hunt easy.

Because I think what it actually is might make people say “Pfft, I’m not playing a game about THAT.” And I don’t want to give “but seriously, it WORKS, no REALLY” vibes.

It’s nothing particularly dramatic and can be solved in less than an hour if you like logic puzzles.

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Fantasy world:


It’s a fantasy/scifi game about a journey to take dangerous stuff (adventure). Could there be romance? Sure, I guess… although if there’s nothing about it in the blurb, probably not.

I suppose V Dobranov will fill out the “genre” box for the comp, but for after-comp play, I think it’s figure-outable.


The heart icon doesn’t seem right for this. :persevere:

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So, SciFi, then.

Life on [name of place] has become routine ever since we [Moog and the gang] acquired an electric [, magnetic] hovercraft. We regularly liberate hauls between cities [communities, stations, fortresses, etc] to earn a living and for that, we were called savages.

The liberation run for the cold-temp haul from the Enclave to the Citadel promises to be just as routine with highly precious cargo, according to the information gleamed from a misplaced waybill.

We didn’t know how precious, and that the run will be anything but routine…

I may be wrong, but the player is the one doing the hauling, right? But, the blurb above was my first impression of it.

Specifically, there’s no promise of conflict in the original blurb. All it does is say here’s the character and situation, and slice of life. What’s the story? Where’s the conflict? What are the obstacles? Why are you playing? How do you win?

Having clear risk to win or lose allows us to emphasize with the main character, and IMHO, that is the difference between boring and fun. Slice of life stories work, but no risk → no tension → no drama → no story.

I think many of your suggestions are really good. I really like this:

But this just seems odd when we’re talking about a blurb:

Do you tell people how to win when you write a game? Does anybody? I don’t really want to play a game that says “Once you’ve solved all the puzzles I throw at you and rescue the princess, you’ll win!”

I get it that you aren’t crazy about the blurb as it is-- and helping make it better is what this thread is all about-- but I do feel like the blurb promises a well defined story (the carrying of dangerous cargo in a scifi landscape) and plenty of conflict. I mean, here’s conflict:

Not the world’s best phrasing, but that’s been addressed. I’m curious as to what you think a really good blurb is. Can you point me to one on ifdb that you aspire to?


I was going to say ‘Pfft, call yourself Brevitous?’… and then present my version. But ultimately I decided this is what I’d do, too.


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Oh, you’re right. I was mistaken. Sorry.

That was… overwhelming.
@StJohnLimbo @nilsf @AmandaB @HanonO @JoshGrams @ramstrong thank you for the insights and corrections. I didn’t expect such a strong feedback.

I’ll try to comment on the common points (others I’ve noted to myself too):

  • Quarrel/wrestle/fight. I’ve imagined the charge station as not like some apparatus but as some place where people work. So it would be more precise (and more verbose) something like: “to quarrel with the charge station staff” or “to quarrel with the line at the charge station”. Do “wrestle”/“fight” still fit?
  • No eyeing after grabbing, got it;
  • I can arrange a bulleted list with the limited layout tools actually, but I’ill get rid of it, I think;
  • I’ll try to rewrite the blurb to be briefer (“Brevity is the sister of talent”, I know, I know);
  • The genre, interaction style and estimated play time are shown in the entry’s card, true;
  • “Dime novel paperback style”, huh? Ok)

I need to process all this now)

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I think quarrel has gone out of style and feels old-fashioned to me. Though maybe the UK uses it more? So it feels formal, or gets used in certain sayings/idioms. Like maybe children will quarrel or be quarrelsome, or a character might say “stay out of this: I have no quarrel with you.”

So I think I’d look for a different word, maybe “argue/fight with the charging station staff” or “fight through the crowd at the charging station.”

I like brevity; I’m not necessarily good at it… :stuck_out_tongue:


I have to say that criticizing an action-oriented IFComp blurb for lacking “literary style” is a bit absurd. Usually, the style of the blurb should reflect the style of the game, and text adventures have always drawn deeply from the literary traditions of gamebooks and mass market sci-fi. Nothing wrong with embracing that.


Unless the game is literary style, which certainly a Choice game can be. Of course, none of my games are literary style, choice or not. My style is dime novel style.

Is that a bad thing? I love me some pulp fiction now and then.

I’m trying to figure out what text based IF is not literary. Unless you’re making a needless judgement comparison between “literary” vs “dime novel” styles.


I don’t know why commenting on different styles is suddenly “criticizing” and “a bad thing”. It’s like if I’m trying to compare the difference between Western RPG and Japanese RPG, it’s racist and needs to be censored. Are people that negative around here?

And here I thought that maybe comparing the styles to their most fundamental groups is accessible to people. Kind of makes me glad that I didn’t dissect different literary styles any further!(1)

But hey, I learned my lesson. I won’t post on this thread again. All I can say is, try out Nanowrimo if you haven’t done so. People there are welcoming to all styles, and you’ll learn a lot about the writing craft. (2) (3)

(1) Each different style is appropriate for different genres. Each is good in their own way. That is so obvious, I wonder how anyone can interpret differently.

(2) I have done so on multiple occasions and each time was extremely tough, but that I enjoyed the experience immensely, and I grew as an author.

(3) And they really support the community, no second guessing. People always earnestly answered all my questions. Sometimes, I can’t use their answer because our styles are just too different, but I always appreciated the feedback.

When you say this:

…it doesn’t read like a simple comparison, but more like a judgment that the writing is trash based on a standard that’s not particularly relevant. At least that’s how I initially took it, which prompted my response. Rereading it, I can see how you might not have meant it that way, so I’m sorry if I jumped to conclusions.


I think this has been a pretty friendly discussion in which there have been some disagreements. If you feel I’m trying to shut you down, I assure you that’s not the case. I do disagree with you, and I think you were needlessly hard on a blurb by someone who’s not a native English speaker, yet who was brave enough to put an English blurb out for public dissection. If you didn’t mean it that way, then OK. Internet discourse is not known for being friendly to nuance.

I don’t think you should feel silenced by disagreement, though, and I’m sorry if you feel silenced. Civil disagreement is sorely lacking in this world right now.


I don’t think it is desired outcome of the discussion. Though your response may be a bit harsh, for me it is a view from another perspective and I regard it accordingly. I am grateful to everyone for the possibility to see from the different point of view, but leave it to myself on how to apply what I get.


Okay, blurb thread. I’ve been having trouble with my blurb and so I went back and looked at past years and it seems like the majority of the blurbs are short - under three sentences, under five sentences. So I originally had one that was…longer, but here’s what I got.

Title: At King Arthur’s Christmas Feast

Blurb 1: make the blurb about the feast & stories

It is Christmastide at Camelot, and King Arthur is displeased. “What!” he cries,“I have here a hundred honorable knights, sitting in silence for the lack of a story! Who here will tell his tale, and thereby open this feast?”

But you are young and untested, and you have no stories to tell.

A 67,000 word adaptation of the 14th century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, with an average run length of 38,500 words.

Blurb 2: make the blurb ominous-sounding, kinda like a horror thing.

Strange company comes to Camelot’s Christmas feast.

A 67,000 word adaptation of the 14th century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, with an average run length of 38,500 words.

Blurb 3: exactly what it says on the tin, but I also don’t know how to make it sound exciting

Young Sir Gawain goes to meet his death. A lesson in praise and promises.

A 67,000 word adaptation of the 14th century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, with an average run length of 38,500 words.

Also, I think I might put this as the blurb art:

which goes pretty well with blurbs #2 and #3. Since, you know, it’s a guy getting his head chopped off.

I’m not sure how I feel about

I play a lot of IF, but those word counts don’t really mean anything to me. I see them sometimes in blurbs, but they don’t do anything to help me decide whether to play it or not.

I like the first one best, as it sets the scene well. However… your game is full of sex, violence, adventure, and humor, which is fantastic, but I wouldn’t know it from this blurb. I’d pick it just because it’s an adaptation of a killer story, but I don’t know how many people are familiar with the poem.

And I love the cover art choice!