Is there a place to sort of post about your IF development without going into much detail, a bit of chit chat, because you prefer that to total silence? Like at work you meet people at the coffee machine and have a two-minute talk about how your day is going before returning to whatever you were doing? Sure there is. It’s this topic.
(Maybe there’s other places too, but I have too many non-IF people on Twitter to flood it with little remarks…)
Anyway, I just felt the need to say that, hey, not only have I been doing some Inform 7 writing again after a long hiatus, but I also implemented my first maze ever today. Not sure that will endear me to anyone, but it is optional. And I hope also a bit fun. How’s your day going?
Great idea for a thread - I’ve been wondering if there’s an IF Discord server or something, but this is nice.
I’ve played IF for some years, but I just recently started experimenting with writing my own. I’m thinking my first couple of IFs will suck anyway, so I’d better just get them out of my system sooner rather than later. I’ve started four different projects now and there’s a Battle Royale to see which one is more interesting.
They don’t need to suck! Once you’ve got a full version, get some testers to play it, and there’s a very good chance that you’ll be able to turn it into a very enjoyable game based on their feedback.
For myself, I’m currently creating a parser game in which there’s a world to explore and enjoy for the first time since… I don’t know, maybe as long ago as 2007? I wrote a lot of parser between 2007 and now, but some had strictly limited possibilities for exploration (Terminal Interface), some had you revisit the same locations billions of times in your search for elusive victory (Kerkerkruip), and so on. And I’m really enjoying it! Although I also recognise the possibly problematic temptation of adding more and more detail.
Any problem I have with them is in early games like Zork and Adventure. There the problem isn’t the mazes themselves but rather the time limits on light sources that penalize you for exploration. Let’s be honest, no one can be expected to solve Adventure or Zork in a single run through without prior knowledge. It’s just not possible. The games weren’t designed to be beaten that way, but by repeated failed runs building up knowledge of the “solution”. Does that make their gameplay more meta?
I’ve been lurking and occasionally posting on the board but my game development is currently on hold. This is mostly due to two factors. One, I’m pretty satisfied with where my game engine currently stands so I haven’t felt the need to add anything. And two, I don’t know what to write for a story.
Ideally I’d like to continue/rewrite a story with the characters and world in the Monster demo that I made, but I realized that I don’t really have a focus on where I would like it to go, which is why the demo is almost entirely exposition and no plot. So I’ve been reading a lot of how-to books (like Save The Cat and The Anatomy of Story) on how to go about creating something that doesn’t suck and has purpose.
I don’t know if that appeals to you, but maybe you could deliberately aim for a specific genre, like hard-boiled noir, pulpy SF, cozy mystery, Robinsonade, alternate history, Regency romance, … . Then the genre will provide a sort of scaffolding or framework of typical plot points, settings, and scenes, which might help in writing the story. You can always throw in a twist or two, of course, so as not to make it too formulaic.
I’m working on a game with a fairly ambitious world to explore (my first game), and also enjoying, but feeling not a little overwhelmed at the amount of work required to go back and “flesh” it all out! I have all of my locations linked, with all of the game puzzles working, but I have to go back to every one (dozens and dozens…okay, there might be well over a hundred) of my locations and create all the nonessential world objects, nonessential verb responses, NPC responses, atmosphere messages, unfinished location descriptions, and all the while fighting the urge to “add more and more detail” to what can do what, so that I can actually finish this game before my nonexistent grandchildren grow up. Loving it, but wow! A text game is a major commitment…
Kind of funny because a graphical game seems clearly more sophisticated than a text game, but even with novice level programming skills I could make a simple little platformer game in a couple evenings, while this work is going on two years, with a lot left to do…
Okay, there’s my coffee rant! Not actually a complaint… I love the process; just more like a reflection, and regret that there’s not more available time in a lifetime for all the things that would be fun to do if you had the time to do them…
Oh, I hear you! I have more ideas than I’ll ever have time to do, and it drives me mad. Nearly all of my games have sequels in the works and I have more ideas besides, but when each game takes four or five years to complete, I’ll be a very old man before most them see the light of day…
I recognize the feeling. When I started writing “The Tree” (working title) I had a lot of fun with the start location, implementing climbing and jumping the trees, looking under the moss, examining the protagonist, implementing sky and sun,… Eight months of fun later, I realized I had one semi-finished chapter of the planned five.
I’m more of a “one finished location after another”-writer. Of course I have to go back to fix some things afterwards and to make sure puzzles in multiple locations are properly linked, but completing a location in full (all objects, descriptions, actions, alternative descriptions,…) makes for a nice variation between programming neat actions and tricks on one side, and losing myself in imaginative descriptions on the other. I would probably not have the courage to go back through the entire programmed game to write descriptions afterwards.
I don’t have a ton of game making experience, but out of all of my attempts, the only one that went fairly smoothly was when I wrote out a fake playthrough transcript in notepad and then quickly implemented everything needed to make that transcript become a reality. The times that I tried to do one room at a time and just wing it, I always lost focus on the goal and eventually lost interest as well. Going back through to implement all of the extraneous stuff to flesh out the world was definitely a slog, but that fact that the game was already playable through to the end kept me going. It’s a lot more difficult to give up on it when it’s already come that far.
That reminds me of the discussion about writing vs mechanics here:
…anyway, after months of dithering around wondering why I’m bothering at all, I’ve finally grasped the nettle and am knuckling down to finishing a game: mechanics first, all the writing in a block afterwards. It’s the only way that I can feel I am actually making progress towards a definite end point.
I don’t have a fake or minimal playthrough to work from. I do have a strict story/scenario written with pen and paper, both in prose and in diagrams.
It might be a good idea to write a minimal playthrough to back those up though.
I tend to follow the path of least resistance, doing whatever I most feel like doing that day. Sometimes I’ll do nothing but coding for days and at other times I just feel like writing. Sometimes projects fail and I’ll cannibalise the parts for something else. Good puzzles will sometimes sit around for years waiting for the right project.