Beware! Beware! It comes…! Something lurking in the dark and out of it, a malevolence hiding in the stare of pumpkins and mutant cats, felt keenly under the weight of sugary delights hoarded by monsters in costume… a global madness adrift for aeons, deep in every brain, inescapable no matter where upon the in the world you might live… something known in the darkest of arcane arts as… ECTOCOMP!

The 8th incarnation of Interactive Fiction’s Official Halloween Speed-IF competition is a spooktacular time to call upon dark powers or make light of them. All who are touched by this ghoulish desire to enter their nightmares or laugh them away in mad frivolity may take as much time as they wish in occult preparations, but for writing they shall have only THREE hours (this includes time for testing). Because these games will be best played on HALLOWEEN, the deadline for entries is October 30th, at midnight. Those who dare should submit to the dark lord J.J. Guest at jason.guest [at] the Gmails-- G for ghostly & ghastly! The length of the judging period will depend upon the number of sacrif-- I’m sorry, I mean submissions received.

This year the demons also call for banner art, drawn up from whosoever might feel the spirit of Ectocomp strongly in them. A simple vote by the human hordes will determine the official banner for this year’s event… but how human will they be by its end?

Mwa ha ha ha!

All 17 games are here.

Sounds cool! Can you explain how this works? What kind of “preparations” are allowed? Can I have a script written out (no programming), and then program it in 3 hours, or do you mean the whole story has to be written and programmed in 3 hours? And is there a start and end time everyone has to begin, or is this sort of on the entrant’s honor?


Last year, I believe the set-up was that the coding has a limit of 3 hours, but you can prep all you want outside of this time. There was no specific start and end times, just a gentleman’s agreement that the coding wouldn’t pass 3 hours. Correct me if I’m wrong, folks.

Banner art? Egads, that’s some scary stuff! Even scarier if you consider my artistic skills (or lack thereof)…

I had fun with this last year so might enter again.

For preparation, I’m writing notes about characters, situations, rooms, etc, but none of this text will appear in the final game. I don’t think this is a hit against the three hours. As I translate and type these scribblings into the text of the game, though, the clock is ticking.


Neil’s approach matches mine. I don’t count the time spent thinking and planning, since that’s usually in the shower or while walking the dog or something.

But if I’m writing Actual Text that will go in the Actual Game, or Actual Code that will go in the Actual Game, then the clock is ticking.

Got it – thanks for the quick responses. I think I’ll jump into this one – but my 3 hour clock is going to be more of a chess clock. (I always write in short bursts of inspiration, let things stew, and then go back.) I’ll mark my time as I go and do my best to stay in the guidelines. Maybe I’ll do all my actual writing starting at exactly 11:34. Time always seems to stop at that moment… [emote]:twisted:[/emote]

I took the chess clock approach last year – I can’t write continuously for internal and external reasons so I kept clocking myself out and back in. Sometimes I would clock myself out for just long enough to add up the amount of time I had clocked in. (I think it wound up adding up to 3:01, but don’t tell anyone.)

Well, you can probably get off the hook by saying you spent a few seconds here and there staring at the screen. Or waiting for Inform to compile.

The rules for Ectocomp have always been pretty loose, because it started as a minicomp for ADRIFT with only about 6 entries per year. But the chess clock approach is perfectly fine, and yes, preparation is anything that isn’t actively writing / coding the final game.

As I mentioned last year, if you have a disability that you feel gives you an unfair disadvantage, by all means add time to compensate, at your own discretion.

Do people generally get others to beta-test their Ectocomp games for them, or is that generally considered not to be worth it given the time constraints? And if people have gotten their games beta-tested in the past, how has that worked?

I mean, knowing me this will be a moot point because I’ll finish coding my game at 11:59 on the 30th, but I thought I’d ask.

(Actually, speaking of which–midnight in which time zone?)

Argh, scope!

My intended Ectocomp game will not be in Ectocomp, because it ran too long and I cannot endure releasing it with these bugs. Bah.

We will forgive you … THIS TIME! [emote]:x[/emote]

There’s still two weeks before the deadline. Let’s hope inspiration hits you again. How about Fish Dreams II: The Haunted Frigate?


Snerk. I think one Fish Dreams is enough for a lifetime, don’t you?

But there could be a zombie fish! That’d be a new…un-liftime.

Oh, wait, someone beat everyone to that–in IFComp 2012. (ETA: both games were cool. And clearly distinct from each other. Maybe Fish Dreams 2: Tell Me About Your Egg-Hood.)

For clarification, the deadline is Midnight on the 30th October GMT.

I had MTW test for me last year, and left a frantic 10 minutes for bug fixing, which was worth it IMO.

Now I need to relearn Informanese, which definitely won’t be included in the time limit…

So if I understand answers to the previous questions time spent writing a game plan / design sheet but not actually implementing (coding it) does NOT count against the 3h?

If so I’m tempted to give it a try if I feel inspired enough, likely using some kind of choice format. Worst that’ll happen, I’ll end up last but at least it will be a learning experience.

Also, does not hurt to ask…any prize pool? By donation, as with IfComp?

I’ve got to take a shot at this again. [emote]:)[/emote] I enjoyed myself last year.