CYOA trend

Dear readers,

I have recently received an email from Aric Maddux, who runs the IFComp Authors club , that he suspended me from the discussion forum.

He made allegations that I was “trolling” and that I made sexist remarks towards author Sarah Morayati which I didn’t do. I was expressing my personal opinion of Sarah Morayati which was not sexist in any way. I am a person who has great respect for women and I treat them as equal persons if they treat me the same way.

Sarah Morayati has made offensive remarks about my work and about religion in a topic which I have a copy from. Here’s the quote related to it:

After showing “trollish” behaviour herself Sarah Morayati accused me of being a “troll”, because I was expressing my viewpoint about some of the reviews regarding my IFComp entry Trap Cave. She said:

So let’s get this straight. She mocked the christian religion by saying “fucking Byzantine Jesus”, she told me that the IF Competition is not for CYOA although she is no IFComp organizer to decide that, she accused me of being a “troll” and now Aric Maddux suspended me from the forum and accuses me of being a sexist, because I said that I would throw her out of my house if she was my girlfriend, that I suspect she is not jewish and that I expressed to the forum that she should stop trolling and mind her own business. In fact, let me add one point here. I think she is not even a Christian, because she is mocking Jesus Christ. And if she was truly a Jew she would have had respect of other religions in my opinion.

Aric Maddux has suspended me from the forum and deactivated my account. I sent a response email to him and told him that this is a violation of free speech and that I feel my name and person defamed!

Aric has replied and refused to reactivate my account. He has stated that the reactivation of my account is solely dependent on my agreement to numbers 1 and 3 of the following forum rules:

I disagree, because I feel innocent and I didn’t violate any of the above rules in the first place.

Emilian Kowalewski

Germany, October 24th 2009

I renamed this topic to “CYOA trend”, because the original topic is closed. This is about CYOA trends now and whether this genre will have a greater impact in the game industry or not in the future.

I don’t really want to get into an ethical battle, and maybe the laws are different in Germany, but free speech doesn’t apply to privately-owned places. It’s more to the effect that the government can’t censor you (although, in practice, that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case). But other citizens are perfectly welcome to, at least in their own homes, places of business, and so on. I’d like to think it’s a last resort, though. In your shoes, if I felt I’d been accused unfairly, I’d probably be equally upset. But in the end, it boils down to the interpretation of the policies in place, and even if unfair, Aric can ban whomever he wants.

Good luck, though.

Emilian, I’ve enjoyed your participation in this forum, and I really like the enthusiasm you have for Node-X. I can imagine that the reaction to your games in IFComp must be very frustrating for you. But you’re really not helping yourself right now.

If you want us to believe you’re not trolling their forum, posting the other party’s responses to your actions without context, in a completely different forum, is really not the way to go about it.

If I said something offensive, would you say that you’d throw me out of your house if I were your boyfriend? If not, then there’s the sexism right there.

I think there was an unfortunate misunderstanding here. If I understand correctly what she wrote:

Note that she wrote “This isn’t the CYOA System Comp”, not “This isn’t the CYOA Comp”. Actually, CYOAs have always been accepted in the IF Comp: there’s one other (not only Trap Cave) CYOA game in this very IF Comp, there were also Desert Heat in 2000, Space Horror I: Prey for Your Enemies and Mortality in 2005, Jealousy Duel X in 2007, and several others. But her point is that the IF Comp is for games – whether they are parser-based or CYOA – not for authoring systems, and people review and judge the games, not the systems they were written with. Even if Graham Nelson had first released Inform 7 in the IF Comp, it would still have been poorly received (or maybe not even accepted at all in the comp, I don’t know) if there was no game with it.

A competition for new authoring systems might be an interesting idea, but a very different one, with a somewhat different audience… and without the two-hour limit, because I guess it’d need more time to judge a system fairly.

You like my enthusiasm? You must be an exception. But if you think that I’m frustrated because some reviewers on the web give me bad press then you don’t know me. Who are these guys?

No, I am frustrated for one simple reason: Because I was banned from a forum! WTF?

I was banned only one time from a forum in the last 12 years which I am active on the internet now. And that was only because I and other Duke fans on the 3D Realms Forums claimed that Duke Nukem Forever was a hoax and that it will never be released. Someone even argued that DNF won’t be released until 2010. And we were right, DNF is still not released and the chances for a release in 2010 are very low. As always. :smiling_imp:

But that was a funny ban and a funny rant and nobody was upset about it. I re-registered on 3DR’s forums under a different nickname later on and everything was cool again. Joe Siegler is the most competent webmaster you can find imho. If there are trolls or other problematic people on 3DR’s forums he usually locks or deletes the related threads, because it happens all the time. He bans users only when something really bad happens. I say he is a like good cop. He fires a gun only as a last option, so to speak. You know, when crazy Duke fans like us come and question 3DR’s release date policy, for example. :mrgreen:

Seriously, here in the Interactive Fiction community everyone is so hostile. You don’t have to look at the reaction to me and my games. Just look how the IF community treats itself. Reviewers bitch about every entry on the IFComp, no matter what. This year there is some kind of rant between Conrad Cook and Richard Bos, because they call each other “jerky” or whatever. I don’t know what the hell is going on here. Is there a flamewar or special deal I don’t know about?

You know, when I took part in the IFComp 2008 for the very first time I thought this community welcomes new people like me. But NO, in these two years all they did was flaming, bitching and writing biased reviews about my releases. And now they wonder why I react hostile too. How do you suppose a normal person to react to such ignorance and hostility?

Someone even said a few weeks ago: the reason why there are less entries in the IFComp 2009 is because authors and programmers know that they can get attention for their games outside the competition. Maybe I should leave this community too… There seems to be a strong clique in the IF community here whose aim is to push Inform, Adrift and Glulx games. Someone here talked about a “conspiracy” to control the IF community once. I mean I don’t know much about the whole Paul Panks issue, but what I know is that he was very hated by the IF community for some reason. Didn’t he commit suicide or something?

I don’t want to insult anyone here, but you guys should really reflect yourself. I think it’s no exaggeration when I - as an outsider and observer - say that this community is one of the most intolerant I have ever experienced on the internet. I am part of this community for 2 years now and I am already sick of it.

I should really return to the FPS modding community and release some new stuff. People are so much cooler there, no matter if you release a sucky mod or not. This November and December I have time to play S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat, Borderlands, Batman: Arkham Asylum and some other commercial FPS/TPS titles of 2009.

Why should I waste my time with the IFComp when everyone here hates me and my CYOA so much?

I’m sorry you’ve found the IF community hostile. It’s true that some reviewers are needlessly unkind about games they don’t like - and I’m not happy about that either.

(That said, after reading your thread on r.a.i-f, I think you were out of line, and Aric Maddux had every right to ban you from that forum.)

I think you misunderstand the nature of the community (this community, I should say, since there are non-English IF communities with a somewhat different focus). And it’s probably a language issue. “Interactive fiction”, as we use it, doesn’t mean any kind of fiction that’s interactive. It refers specifically to parser-based IF - text adventures - the kind of IF that Inform, TADS, Adrift, etc were designed for creating. Occasionally some members of this community dabble in CYOA - there was the LoTech competition in 2001, for instance. But the focus is and, as far as I know, always has been parser-based IF.

That’s not to say I (or anyone else) want to kick you out of the community. There are always going to be people in it who like CYOA and find your work interesting. I’m just trying to help you understand why the majority of people are not interested in your work. CYOA isn’t what they’re here for.

Paul Panks wasn’t hated by the IF community; far from it, I would say. But there were a couple of people who liked to poke fun at his games and him, and on an un-moderated forum like the usenet groups, there is not way to stop them. Luckily, they never managed to lessen Paul’s enthusiasm.

The obituary wasn’t clear about the exact cause of death, but it seems to imply that he had health problems throughout his life: … =129569950

About the topic in question, and after reading all the stuff on the newsgroup, I’d like to make a few remarks.

It is certainly true that your game has gotten some bad reviews, and it is also true that some reviewers can be pretty unpleasant if they don’t like a game. Now, it is important not to confuse the two: people can write a bad review of your game without being nasty and/or wanting to say something bad about you. For instance, this was certainly the intention of my review: I don’t think Trap Cave lives up to the standards of the interactive fiction competition, and since I am judging that competition, I apply those standards. It’s not meant to be nasty towards you. I think this is true in general about the Trap Cave reviews, and I know you would have gotten a totally different response if you had asked people to look at your CYOA-system outside of the comp.

Of course, it’s still possible that some reviews are unfairly negative. I don’t think we can discuss that right now, because during the comp authors are not allowed to discuss their games. But we can get back to that in a couple of weeks, once the competition has ended. If, for instance, you believe that my review was unfairly negative, I certainly would like to hear about that once the competition is over.

Having seen what you wrote in the authors forum, I can understand why you were banned. You really shouldn’t have done that. On the other hand, I can certainly imagine that you were angry and that some of the other posters had written things which made you angry. Also, let’s be aware that forum-based communication isn’t easy: the lack of intonation and body language alone can make your message come out as much less friendly than it was intended. So don’t worry about it too much.

Basically, I don’t think people hate you or CYOA. I think they did dislike your two games, for reasons you can find in the reviews, but that is not the same thing and you should not confuse them.

That’s almost identical to what somebody else wrote about the IF community in their blog, right? Is this really how you feel, or is it possible you’re drawing on the existing frustrations of others?

Anyway, as far as I can tell, there’s no membership required in the IF community. No dues to pay. Not even a requirement that you write games, or even play them on a regular basis. Just posting and talking about IF makes you a part, and after a year (or two years?), I doubt anybody would consider you an outsider. You shouldn’t consider yourself one, even if you’re working with CYOA and a custom system.

I’ve also been part of a number of different online communities over the years, and this is far from the most hostile I’ve seen. By comparison to some of them, the IF community (in its various locations and forms) is like a haven for goodwill ambassadors.

I think it’s easy to mistake grumpiness for hostility. After the newness of IF wears off, many people just aren’t as excited about games that aren’t well-written, well-coded, innovative or entertaining anymore. A lot of those show up in the IFComp. The IFComp is different things to different people, and to many, it’s more about recognizing the best rather than cajoling the worst into doing a better job next time. To me, I’d like to think it’s a bit of both. I see myself getting a little grumpier too, though, as my standards inexplicably increase. But nothing in my reviews – I hope – are personal attacks or indicate that I think the author is a moron or a fool. It’s not how I think, so I hope it doesn’t come across that way.

Now, you probably wouldn’t know now because I’m rarely ever confrontational about anything, but I had the same sort of experience you did when I first found the IF community in… 1997? 1998? I think it was 1998, because if you try hard enough and know what to look for, you can still find some or all of it in archived usenet posts back then. It’s interesting to revisit, though, because a lot of what I took as personal attacks weren’t – it was a bit of everything else, ranging from some fun-poking, to some useful advice I just took personally, to some support that I might not even have recognized at the time because I was so defensive. This was very similar to your situation, because I was writing home-brewed IF (QuickBASIC, for me), insisting that it would be great (or, at times, insisting that it didn’t need to be, because what Inform and TADS could do was overkill), and just being a nuisance in general.

I’m not saying to conform, or to change what you’re writing or how you write it. I’m not saying you should “go with the flow”, so to speak – even if I’m not the ideal example of nonconformity. I guess what I’m saying is, it’s probably better to not purposely go against it. You can develop Node-X and do some worthwhile things with it, without counter-attacking the people who seem to be attacking you. You might be mistaking grumpiness for hostility, or worse, overlooking helpful advice that might make potential players more receptive to your future works.

I can assure you, that here in Germany the same laws apply. Actually, we have some laws that pretty much constrain the freedem of speech, which tends to amaze my american friends (e.g. to insult people is a criminal act - although actually things are a bit more complicated).



I know nothing about the OP’s issue and don’t really care to research it. People on the Interwebz will argue with you, and will sometimes get nasty. You’ll just get an ulcer if you spend too much time caring.

But to see real hostility, visit a Christian forum with visiting atheists or vice versa, or just about any forum on controversial topics.

I played some Supreme Commander semi-recently. I don’t know if it’s typical for RTS-games, but the official forums were really nasty. People calling each other names, telling each other that they suck so much that they ought to uninstall the game, endless posts of the “OMG stupid n00b go away”-type… not a friendly atmosphere, to say the least. Compared to that, the IF-community is very friendly indeed.

Please leave out any religious talk in my topics. Okay? Christianity, Atheism, Judaism and so forth.
They are not my business and will never be.

I can show you how to step into the light of a new digital era. Let CYOA be the platform to guide you. Choice is the path to wisdom.
And you already made a choice by posting in this topic. Would you done so if I didn’t give you the oppurtunity?
Choice is control. Choice is power. And I’m its forerunner.

Emilian K.

There is a problem in the IF community. People use old parser-systems which do not compete with the mainstream game industry. Now advanced CYOA can give a new input, a solution to the problem. It is a great opportunity.

Well, I guess you’re kidding. Either that or you’re trolling. I mean, first of all it is obviously nonsense to apologetically call one game system superior to one other. That’s like calling action adventures per se better than first person shooters. But even if you really felt like that, it would be absurd to go to this forum and tell the members that it’s a problem that people use parser-systems (when perhaps 99 % of the members like parser based games). At least it would be rude. But you’re kidding, of course.


None of both.

I never said that. Show me where I did before making allegations like this…

Besides, it would be unwise and completely stupid of me calling Node-X “superior” at this stage of development, especially if it currently runs in a DOS window. :laughing:

Many adventure fans will agree with it. I can’t and won’t comment on that, because I have no prejudices against first person shooters, although I know that adventures games are more advanced in the gameplay sector.

I would say it’s currently 80% for parser-based and 20% for CYOA, taking the entire and worldwide gaming community in account and not just the newsgroup.

I am never kidding.

At the end of the 90s I started producing an experimental style of techno and house music. I called it “acid groove” that times. Just a name which I felt sounded cool. I uploaded some tracks of mine on online music communities between the years 2000 and 2002. Some people who downloaded my music called it “interesting” and asked me how I called that style. I said I called it “acid groove”, but I felt that the name was not right though. Most people, however, said that my music sucked. They even called me “rude” and a “troll”, because I told them in forums that Trance - which was very popular that times - was out of date.

You want to know what my so-called “acid groove” sounded like?

It sounded like what is nowadays popular and widely known as Electro / Electrohouse! :exclamation: (Click here for more info)
Now that’s a better name than “acid groove”, isn’t it. :smiley:

Today I can proudly say that I was one of the first musicians who made Electro in a time where it was considered “underground” and most people didn’t see the upcoming trend, because they were so narrow-minded. Today we have David Guetta, Lady Gaga and others in the mainstream who all copy that style which we already made 10 years ago!

Same case here. Mark my words: In 10 years advanced CYOA systems will enter the mainstream and parser-based games will become a rarity! :exclamation:

Call me “rude”, call me a “troll”, call me whatever you want. I am right and I am not kidding.

And you know why? Because I am good at trend forecasting. I always was. You can laugh about it or not, but you will see.
But always remember. I can’t tell you exactly what the future in 10 years will look like. And it will probably not me who will push the whole CYOA genre into the mainstream. My prediction is that it will be a major game company who will do it… probably from USA or Britain, as always. They will see a business opportunity and make the entire thing take off in the gaming industry…

That’s what I meant when I said that I am a “forerunner”. First it was Electro. Now it’s advanced CYOA gaming! All which matters is that I am one of the first coders who pushes that CYOA thing. I am already proud of it. It will take off… you can’t stop it! There are already small game companies who produce and sell more and more CYOA titles. :sunglasses:

I could disappear from this community and you would never see me again. But it won’t change what I said about the upcoming CYOA boom. Nobody credits “Emilian Kowalewski” these days for being one of the first underground musicians who made Electro. Maybe it’s my name, it doesn’t sound stylish enough, eh. :wink: But maybe that’s the secret.

There’s been a substantial CYOA business in Japan for years. Look up visual novels like Ever 17.

Thanks. I looked up Ever17 and it looks promising. I found some screenshots at this link.

Perhaps a japanese game production studio will make the CYOA genre more popular in the industry. With their Manga style and stuff they have good chances, I can imagine. And they have a very fitting name for it. They call it “Visual Novel”.

I also thought about merging CYOA with graphics. Actually I have had this idea since January 2007 when I started coding Node-X. But I thought it would be better to work out my CYOA engine first before porting the entire code to a graphical representation. This explains why I still run my code in a DOS window.

Now let’s hope that visual novels can gain attraction outside of Japan aswell…

If you want to look at a general engine for visual novels, look at ONScripter/NScripter or KiriKiri. For strictly textual CYOAs, my SimpleCYOA extension is good. (It’s a few days worth of work, but I was building on the Inform 7 platform.)

Sample source code:
Instead of displaying page right door: say “The door locks behind you. A fiery pit splits this room in two. Two bridges cross it. Do you [link left bridge]cross the left bridge”; if current state is has potion, say “, [link right bridge]cross the right bridge, or [link drink]drink the potion?”; otherwise say " or [link right bridge]cross the right bridge?".

will display

The door locks behind you. A fiery pit splits this room in two. Two bridges cross it. Do you 1) cross the left bridge, 2) cross the right bridge, or 3) drink the potion?


The door locks behind you. A fiery pit splits this room in two. Two bridges cross it. Do you 1) cross the left bridge or 2) cross the right bridge?.

properly word-wrapping, depending on whether or not the player has the potion. If you don’t want choices listed inline, instead having each choice on its own line, the code’s nicer.

And Ren’Py is pretty popular among hobbyists as well.