I need help writing short IF

My problem is puzzle-design, and I think collaborating with somebody might help. I’m full of story ideas, but I don’t know how to demonstrate them very well in an interactive format. Somebody suggested trying something shorter than the previous project I had in mind, and, in recent hindsight, I feel ready to acquiesce.

I’m looking for a collaborator who is good at piecing adventure game challenges together. I want to learn from first-hand experience how good IF stories can be told. i have a lot of story content in my brain, that I’m willing to share, but I don’t have the appropriate experience to tell them in this medium. It comes so much easier to me when I write them down as short stories or books.

Have you ever looked at the transcript that (the IF Comp winning) Sussman and Welch wrote before they wrote their first piece of code?

rovers-day-out.googlecode.com/hg … cript.html

  1. We have a special subforum for this: Looking for Collaborators.

  2. It would be a good idea to include some pitches for the game ideas you have. Nobody wants to buy a pig in a poke.

  3. It’s probably also a good idea to include links to some of your previous work, even if it’s static fiction. Collaboration is a big freakin’ commitment, and nobody wants to be flaked out on. (I say this as someone who’s been both a flaker and a flakee.) A potential collaborator will want to see some evidence that you can come up with the goods – particularly since you seem to be looking for a designer/coder, which is a bigger role than just a coder.

One of the Big Unsolved Problems of the IF community is that we don’t have a very good established framework for mentoring and/or collaboration; there’s a fine line to navigate between Patronising Pronouncements from the Masters and O Hai Please Write My Game For Me. So, yeah, sorry about that.

What about the mud?

ifMUD is awesome if you want good in-depth testers or coding help or chat about design questions. In the eleven wonderful years I’ve been on it, it’s never shown itself to be a great platform for close mentoring or collaboration. I can’t think of a single piece of good collaborative IF that came out of ifMUD talk: the closest I can think of are the IF Whispers games, which were a lot of fun for the participants but kind of enh as actual games.

If you go onto ifMUD, hang out, make a friend, get a really great creative rapport going, and then decide to make a game, that’s one thing. But that wouldn’t really be a straightforward route to finding a collaborator, you know?

And requisite explanation that game design and coding is in fact far harder than coming up with story ideas, fewer people are good at them, and vanishingly few are good at them and bad at coming up with ideas (much like the common author-illustrator dilemma, but even more severe).

That said, I’m between projects. Shoot me an explicatory PM if you like.

Sorry about the mispost in the wrong sub-forum.

Maybe I should just spend more time experimenting with my drafts, and ask any questions I have about it, about game design, to people in the IF community; either through IF mud, the forums, or anything like that. I guess this might have to be a rather solitary thing for me, with the occasional help of more experienced IF players. Since I don’t have anything very substantive to show right now, I may just have to reciprocate between working alone and studying with other players. I’ll check out IF wiki fist, before asking any more questions.

Thanks for your participation in this thread anyway.

I’d start with some small, low-pressure, easily-completed writing/coding/design exercises. Speed-IF can be a good format for this, because it forces you to produce a tiny-but-playable piece to a deadline, going through a microcosm of the concept->design->implementation->test->release cycle, and you can release a game that a few people will play (and perhaps comment on) without the anxiety-inducing expectation that it’ll be any good. There’s one running right now.

That particular format may not be your cup of tea, of course, but the best practice for producing games, generally speaking, is producing games.

If you think your strengths lie in a particular area, like writing, then you could plausibly focus on that, but pick up just enough coding and design to produce a smallish, tested-and-playable-but-not-wonderfully-robust, but well-written game; release it where it’ll get some attention (Introcomp might be a good venue for that) and then look for a coder. Your chances will be much better if you’re a known quantity, and even if you don’t find someone to work with, you’ll have boosted your skills through practice.

Arriving late to this thread. FWIW, I don’t think there’s any substitute for just sitting down and doing it. You started off by saying you’re not confident about puzzle-designing. So okay, maybe your first game will have great writing, a cool story, acceptable coding, and a few puzzles that suck. You’ll get experience implementing puzzles, you’ll get feedback from users, and when you write your second game, in all likelihood your puzzles will suck much less.

I wrote my first game 12 years ago. I didn’t know IF players hate mazes, so there are four mazes in the game. Bad idea … but even so, some people liked the game. The 15 puzzle was another clear loser in that game. I would never do anything like that again! The characters were minimal, because I didn’t know how to code complex characters. It’s all a learning process.

With respect to collaborating, Eric Eve and I collaborated on a game, and I think we got along well. (I’ve never had the courage to ask him if he secretly thought I was being an arrogant SOB.) The process of bouncing ideas off of one another was extremely helpful, and Eric’s coding skills far surpass my own. So it can work. But I think we both had confidence that it would work, because we had both written and released prior games. Finding someone whose skill set is compatible with yours before you’ve written a game is bound to be more difficult. This is another reason to tackle your own project without waiting to find a collaborator.