Ectocomp 2013

Shhhhh! Did you… did you hear something? Something hiding in the night… something horrifying, revived by October’s mystic air. Something stirring in the leaves, that crawls up from the darkest pits of the Earth only once in a year, something whose scream can be heard across the globe, a monster they say is called… ECTOCOMP!

Ectocomp, Interactive Fiction’s Official Hallowe’en Speed-IF, has returned for its seventh incarnation this fateful year of 2013! Ectocomp is a haunting, all-month competition for Hallowe’en-themed interactive fiction executed in just three (3) hours on any platform, guillotine, or gallows. Once more our host, J.J. Guest, crosses over from his indescribable world of horror to oversee this darkest of IF rituals. Writers and all sensitive persons, prepare as you may… there is no defense against the nightmares of this season! Will they compel you to portray impossible worlds of madness, confess to occult sins of mystery, or tickle your readers’ funny bones… to death?

So that audiences might witness these horrors on Hallowe’en, the DEADline for all ghastly rites and terrifying delights shall be October 30th at midnight. Authors may feel free to spend as much time as they need in secret preparations, but may spend no more than three (non-consecutive) hours writing (this includes beta-testing). If their nightmarish visions are fertile or the screaming just won’t stop, authors may also submit more than one game to the Ectocomp demon at jason.guest[at], but no more than three. The length of the judging period will be determined by the number of sacrifi-- I mean, entries we receive.

Ectocomp 2013 is upon us… run, run, and write for your lives!

Download the games here!

Are there any prizes of any sort? Not that there needs to be. Just wondering. [emote]:?:[/emote]

This sounds fun! Real life robbed me of my IFComp entry, but surely it’ll allow three hours in the next thirty days.

Reading through past threads, it seems you can use a text editor in advance? So if, for example, one was writing a Twine game, one could write all the text at leisure, then cobble it all together in three hours before submitting? I would consider an Inform 7 project, but to be honest the first bug would probably take me three hours to squash, and then there would be no game.

If I remember correctly from previous years, the rule was to restrict copy-pasting of large text blocks. Basically, you can plan what you’ll write, but you should be able to type it all within the time period.

By the way, prizes are all by donation. Nobody has offered one yet, so I’m going to change that by offering up a double-feature Vincent Price DVD containing both Theatre of Blood and Madhouse. This does mean that whoever wins will have to privately notify me their address for shipping.

If anyone else wants to donate a prize, that would be great!

Cool! I have a couple of short horror stories in my head I’d been thinking of turning into short games. Just may have to enter one of those.

Also, I’m sure I’ve got some horror DVDs and such laying around I could donate the cause. I’ll try to round those up and send them in soon. Should I also email jason.guest[at] about that?

This might be just the thing to get me motivated again. So a person can do some initial planning and come up with the idea, but the actual writing and programming and testing needs to cover no more than a cumulative three-hour stretch? Is that right?

I don’t know though. It could take me three hours just to remember how Hugo works. Not to mention getting tweaks to the grammar rules just right. Maybe I should check out Roodylib.

Let’s say someone were thinking of making a game with some RPG mechanics. Would coming up with and programming those count towards the three hour limit?

Programming the actual enemies and such would be within the time limit of course…

From what I understand, any typing at your keyboard is coding. You can work them out on paper beforehand, but when you’re on the computer putting them in, it counts against your limit.

Just looking at this whole question of the Ectocomp rules, I think there’s a certain degree of “what do YOU think makes sense?” involved here.

Almost every game I’ve written has included the following code:

I haven’t turned it into a formal extension, but I don’t feel the need to type out the words every time. I open up whatever game I last wrote, grab the code above, paste it in, and go from there. And I wouldn’t see that as a violation of EctoComp rules, any more than “include ExtensionName” would be.

So my thinking would be: If you already have RPG mechanics sitting around from a different project, then including them is fair. But if EctoComp is your only RPG game, then they really should be created in the time limit.

Of course, it’s all on the honor system anyway. (But honor matters.)

(Disclaimer: my only involvement with EctoComp is as a competitor. Bowsmand should totally overrule me if I’m wrong.)

I think the prize pool is likely to stay pretty informal. That said, thanks in advance for any and all offers of prizes.

HanonO and cvaneseltine are both right about the rules: things can be worked out beforehand, but all typing counts against your limit… also, it’s all on an honor system. Any testing counts against your time limit, too.

Modules are pre-prepared ALRs were allowed in the original Ectocomp back in '07, so I don’t see why we couldn’t allow some use of extensions in Inform at the author’s gentle discretion.

I might suggest - any extensions used and/or created by an author should be general enough to submit to the extension list…(IE no specific code to one game) so if someone wanted to create “Immobile Containers” that would be cool. For example, my short game might include a complicated and whacky spell casting system which might itself comprise half of the code, BUT that extension should be vague enough that another author could ostensibly use it in another game without modification.

It’s probably a good idea to put all of your repeated code in an extension anyway…for example I always shorten stuff like [paragraph break] to [/p].

There have been some competitions that have allowed published extensions/libraries. If you wanted to be strict you could limit it to only those that were published before the comp began.

It’s a suggestion, but I kind of hate the idea.

I feel like any code I submit as an extension should be super clean and well documented. I don’t want to take the time to do that, especially when I doubt its usefulness to other people. (This is directly related to why I have never submitted an extension to the I7 website. I feel like it would be clutter.)

IMO, it probably doesn’t need to be all that formal, unless we’re talking about big-budget prizes or something. If I do this, it’d be just for fun. But I could see myself re-using some of the styles and macros and whatnot I’ve come up with just through the process of learning Twine. I’d get to a point where I’m familiar enough with it to actually accomplish a game start-to-finish in three hours, come up with my idea, and then start work on the game. I’m not feeling all that competitive. Just creative.

Right…my words were unclear “should be able to be” a standard extension hypothetically, not “would be” submitted as an actual extension.

IE - My personal extension for establishing shortcuts for “paragraph break” and “italic type” and an extension that specifies more complexity for eating and also builds a robust drinking mechanic would be fine as these are generic extensions that might be reasonably used in any game.

My extension which creates the monster, the monster’s lair, and his AI behavior would not be generic enough to be used by any (hypothetical) author in a game, and thus would not be allowed to use.

As said upthread, it’s a speed if for fun, so “potato/potahto”.

Hello everybody.

This seems reasonable enough. Existing extensions may be used but not ones written specifically for the game, unless they’re written within the three hour limit.

Oh okay! That makes more sense. Sorry for misunderstanding you.

If I submit more than one game, I can spent three hours each, right?

Of course! [emote]:D[/emote]