When you add an IFDB page for a Z-code game that’s hosted on itch.io, you cannot add a direct link to the downloadable z3/z5/z8 file, as itch.io uses all sorts of skullduggery to prevent it from being downloaded externally.
If you specify a link to the game page and a file type of Z-code, the file type and icon are correct, the link to the page works fine, but IFDB automatically adds a Play On-line button. This tries to download the file from itch.io and load it into iplayif and fails, as it’s not a direct link to the file.
If you specify the file as html, then it is wrongly shown as an html file and it still shows a Play On-line button. The links work, but it gives a false impression, as it does not identify the game as a Z-code game and it is not playable online.
So, how do I show that the game is a Z-code game that can be downloaded, but is NOT playable online?
True, but you can’t do that unless you are the author of the game or you seek the author’s permission. Authors may not want to do that, as they lose all the benefits of the itch.io analytics, where you can see the referring pages, how often the page has been viewed and how often the game has been downloaded.
So is the exact specification you’re looking for that:
-IFDB links to the itch page
-No “play online” button appears
-IFDB specifies that the link is Z-code and uses a z-code icon?
I imagine this would require doubling the number of dropdown options on the edit page (like “playable z-code” vs “z-code that needs work”) or adding a check mark that indicates playable or not.
But the current system is accurate here; you are linking to an html page, not an actual z-code file, and the type of game is already indicated in the system tag on the page and can be specified further in the details section of the link.
I can link to the html page, but then the game itself looks like an html file (which it isn’t) and IFDB still says it’s playable online (which it isn’t).
If I was to provide both a link to the page with the Z-code file and a link to the html page (which are actually the same link), that seems to work. I’ve done this for a few of my own games that are playable online. Maybe that is a good compromise. IFDB will still lie to you and say it’s playable online, but at least it won’t try to load the Z-code file in iplayif.
I tried the above solution on one of my own games (Submarine Sabotage). It was a bit fiddly to get it right, but see what you think before I start applying this fix to other games where the Play On-line link is broken.
You’ll note that the Play On-line button and its tooltip are still wrong, but at least you can see that it’s a downloadable Z-code game at a glance and the Play On-line button doesn’t spit the dummy.
Don’t forget that some games on itch.io have to be purchased before they can be downloaded and can’t be played online. @zarf’s own Hadean Lands is an example of that, but the link to itch.io is not mentioned on IFDB.
Rereading, it looks like you want the Z-code icon, and I guess my idea above wouldn’t give the Z-code icon–it would give you no icon at all.
And this solution
would give you the icon with the piece of paper with the globe on it, which I guess is the HTML icon. (But I think you could still put a note under it saying what it is: a download page for the Z-code file.)
Still, it seems to me that–given the way it’s currently set up–either of these options would be better than saying something’s playable online when it isn’t, because that’s actually saying something that’s not accurate.
I’ve been poking around on IFDB to see how other Inform 6 games have treated the issues in the download box. The one thing that really stands out is the lack of consistency.
As the vast majority of Inform 6 games are old games, they are mostly stored on ifarchive, so the Play On-line link works fine.
There are quite a few games that are hosted on a personal web site and they also work fine. However, Play On-line links to more recent games hosted on places like Google Drive, database-driven web sites, blogs, borogove and itch.io are mostly broken. I get the impression that IFDB has not been updated to account for modern-day methods of hosting. I would have thought that if the file name does not end in a recognised Z-code extension (z3, z5, z8, zblorb et al), then the database would not attempt to play it online. But what would I know?
I also noticed a few broken links, inconsistencies in how links are worded and so on. The one thing that really surprised me was that you could say that a game was in a zip file, when it actually wasn’t to bypass some of these issues and that a game inside a zip file could be found and played by iplayif. That’s actually clever.