If I'm not done in time...

I’m making a game for IFcomp… in case I’m not finished in time, and I just release it when it’s done (or as good as it’s gonna be, at least), I’m just curious, what’s the best way, beside cleaning out IFcomp because let’s face it I’m just that great okay no who am I trying to kid, to reach as many IF players as possible?

You could hold off and save it for spring thing next year. Games released by unknown authors outside of a comp tend to disappear into nothingness.

What if I’m really impatient and desperate for feedback (not just betatest-wise)?

Then release it and hope for the best.

While what Hanon says is generally true, you can do stuff as an author to increase your feedback and visibility. Do you have a blog? That could help.

Also, don’t be afraid to hit up the forum saying “Hey, I just uploaded a game to IFDB. Looking for feedback!”. :sunglasses:

Also, you are downplaying beta-test feedback. Beta-testers are not exclusively bug-hunters. They’ll give you feedback of all sorts - whether they realise it or not - which you will definitely want to listen to. Reading a transcript of a beta-tester going through your game is likely to be a novel experience.

You could publish it on textadventures.co.uk to get feedback from the community there, and create an IFDB page to advertise it to others as well.

I don’t mean to downplay anyone.

I just wanna point out, I ask beta-testers to test my beta.

I’m just wanting an audience to stumble upon my game and want to play it and keep playing it even after finishing it because it is relevant to their interests.

I think this is unnecessarily pessimistic. But if you release outside a competition, you’ll have to put in a lot more work yourself to promote your game. And self-promotion can be uncomfortable for a lot of people.

Presentation helps. Put together some good-quality cover art, or commission someone else to. Take the time to write an enticing blurb for the game. Make sure the game is playable online. (All of this will help you get attention in a competition too, mind you.)

I think I expressed myself poorly. Let me try again.

You are underestimating the impact that beta testers can have on you and your game. When you say “What if I’m really impatient and desperate for feedback (not just betatest-wise)?”, you are making a clear distinction between a beta-tester’s feedback and a player’s feedback… but you’re forgetting that beta-testers are players as well, and are likely to be very vocal about your game. They can give you tons of feedback. Sure, you ask beta-testers to test your beta, but that’s not just limited to bug-hunting and bug-fixing. Beta-testers will also help you figure out if a puzzle in unclued; or too easy or too hard; or whether you are achieving what you intended to achieve. A beta-tester that provides you with a transcript of their game will be invaluable - you will see how an actual player is moving through your world, going through your puzzles, getting stuck, getting UNstuck.

I beta-tested one game once, and I realised that doing it properly is HARD work. That’s why I never did it again. Get your game as beta-tested as you can, and listen to your testers, and you’ll have all the feedback you need prior to release.

…of course, if you just want to go straight to the feedback from the release, with no thought behind it, there’s no question. Just add an IFDB listing and be done with it, don’t even get your game tested. But your game better be spectacular, or it’ll fade away quickly and quietly.

EDIT - Spring Thing’s newly-introduced “Back Garden” is a great place to start. If you can’t wait until then, well, why not start working on a SECOND game? Then you have two games to introduce at once come next Spring Thing. :slight_smile:

Careful with that. If you wait for someone to stumble upon something you’ll be waiting a looooooooong time. I’m stumbling across such games made five years ago. You probably don’t want to wait that long, so as the other have been saying, you’ll want to do some promoting.

So some other options:

– submit it to a competition other than the main IF Comp; it’s not quite the same, but it does still raise visibility. Spring Thing will probably run again next year, for instance, and unlike some of the minicomps it doesn’t have any rules about how long you’re allowed to spend on it.

– if your game has a particular focus, go ahead and do some outreach to communities related to that interest rather than to IF-playing itself; make sure you have the game in a format that will be easily accessible to non-IF-veterans. (Peter Nepstad’s game about the Chicago World Fair sold a lot of copies to people who are into the fair, Chicago, or history, not just to IF players.)

– likewise, feel free to reach out to indie gaming communities outside the standard IF community. (I think Wade Clarke has written some about how he did publicity to indie sites for Leadlight, though I’m currently drawing a blank via google.)

– go ahead and do a trailer or teaser to build anticipation in advance. This is something that people rarely do in the IF community; it’s more typical to announce things once and hope for the best. And I’m all for not spamming people, because spam is gross. But there are ways of mentioning your work multiple times that will help gain overall visibility and will actually make people enjoy your game more when they get to it because they’re intrigued by what you’re offering and they’ve had time to salivate a bit. A trailer could be a textual prequel to your game, it could be a transcript, it could even be video or something playable.

Here for instance is the trailer for Robb Sherwin’s Fallacy of Dawn, which was released as part of a trailercomp eons ago. This may be overkill in some ways and a bit goofy in others, but it does get across a certain something about what FoD is going to be like to play.

– if you’re not releasing a comp game, then target a release date that doesn’t have a lot of other competition. Earlier this year would’ve been rough because there were a lot of minicomps going on, so reviewers were glutted with material; now, between the beginning of summer and the onset of the IF Comp, is a better time. Next year may well follow a similar pattern.

Oh, and: “An Act of Misdirection” did a different somewhat cunning thing, which was to approach veteran reviewer Paul O’Brian and get him to write a review to run alongside the game’s launch, a little as though it were a commercial game.

Would it be weird or lame if I asked active members of this community to (at least consider) posting a tweet about my game, if they like it or see potential in it at least, something like that?

post a thread,
ask established names in the community to mention it to their followers,
build a death ray in space and hold Washington hostage,
wait for spring thing,

don’t the XYZZY games include all releases since the last edition?
although I think it’ll be a much tougher competition than the IFcomp.

Oh and about the beta testing thing… No, i understand how important proper testing is. But that’s not the thing I’m looking for - i’m looking for reach. depth is up to the player - reaching them is up to me. I wanna reach as many people as possible.

I don’t know how others feel about PR requests, but I get a lot of requests for coverage of both IF and other game styles. I can’t meet all of them, especially because I don’t like to promote things unless I’ve looked into them a bit myself, and I don’t always have time. I also tend to get frustrated when people prod me about reviewing their games during a competition, because I’m usually already working basically flat-out to do whatever coverage I’m doing.

On the other hand, I do like to cover things I think are high-quality, are pushing an interesting boundary in interactive fiction, or are especially likely to appeal to my particular followers. I do appreciate being offered review copies of things that I would otherwise have to pay my own money in order to cover. If I have been offered a review copy of a paid product, I will acknowledge this at the bottom of any review post I write.

The best way to get me to post about something outside of a comp (man, I’m just asking for it by saying this, but I already get loads of PR email, so I guess more won’t kill me):
– have your game be playable on a device I own (Mac, iOS mobile). If it’s not, I’m not going to be able to check it out, so you’re better off finding someone else to show it to.
– send me brief email that explains what your game is and why it is cool. If you have time, tailor this to why you think I would be interested in it. Doing something formally experimental? Setting your game in a historical period? Doing social or conversational simulation of some kind? Trying out a new type of interface that’s unusual for IF? Got a sweet systematic puzzle mechanic? I am into that stuff, tell me all about it. If you don’t have time or don’t have a special reason you think I’d like it, just send the blurb you’ve written to hook players. (You have a blurb, right? Have a blurb.)
– besides mentioning what your game is about and why I might be into it, also give me some clue how big it is
– if your thing is for sale rather than free, send me a download code
– if your thing is a difficult puzzle game, offer a walkthrough, just as if it were in IF Comp; if something is going to take me 40 hours to play it’s way less likely I’m going to have time to get into it, especially in any kind of compressed timeframe
– if there’s a date when the coverage will be most useful to you, let me know that too, because I routinely schedule tweets and blog posts in advance. Ideally get the thing to me at least two weeks ahead of that date
– maybe include a link to a place where I can download screenshots or cover art. Yes, I can capture that stuff myself, but if I don’t have to/already know what you want to highlight about your game’s look, that makes my life easier. But then again, pure text games don’t always benefit from this, so only do it if it feels relevant to your project
– if I don’t have time to look at it, or if I write back and say “this wasn’t really for me, and here’s why,” then please be chill about that. I know from experience that it sucks to have your project not appeal to someone, but that kind of response is me trying to be helpful: I’m not publishing a negative review, but I am giving some information back. I have in the past had authors respond to that with a tirade about how I needed to put more hours into playing their game that I wasn’t enjoying, and that made me sad and also not want to interact with that author again in the future.

Basically this boils down to “be polite and respect my time.” As I said, I can’t speak for other people, but I suspect some variant of that general principle applies to them too.

As to other things: yes, XYZZY Awards apply to the whole year’s releases, as long as they’ve been registered on IFDB. If you want your work to be considered, you should put it there (but you should do that anyway).

I was thinking more along the lines “i ask the high-regarded ones once about it, and if they feel like it, they can choose themselves if they wanna mention it to their crew and ride with me against the forces of evil.”

But I understand that big explanation isn’t just for my own private benefit.

Those rules make sense to me - too bad you can’t just staple “common courtesy” to something anymore and have people know what that means by default.

it’d be a free glulx game. if you want to check it out, i’d be thrilled.

i’m not here to make money. i’m here to wow your socks off with effort and blang.

I wanna tell a story. Preferably one people will fall in love with. The chances of that latter happening is increased when more and more people are exposed to it. like a germ.

I want my game to be a germ no wait not like that but you know what I mean.

no pressure. if you can’t, you can’t. if you don’t wanna, you don’t wanna. i dun wanna (verb) (stuff) so often myself, so i understand.

it’s an “if you feel like it” kind of thing. Except I know about it in an active sense.
it’s hard for me to explain it any clearer at this point.

No, I get what you’re saying. And yes, the long answer was as much for other onlookers as it was for you. :slight_smile:

Emily, if I can call you Emily (I could call you Bob if you’d like), I’ll let you know something when it’s done.
If you choose to do anything with that information, that’ll be up to you.

But it’ll be Glulx, it’ll be free, and it’ll be the labor of my love, my effort, and copious amounts of swearing, fast food and late nights.

You’ve a good memory, Emily.

My post about press releases is on this forum at:


It’s all still true and/or I still agree with it except that games-pr.com/ doesn’t exist anymore.

I have personally used a combination of gamerelease.net/ three times. The former site is free but requires some demonstration of ‘game trade involvement’ (describe at length in linked post - don’t ask what I mean here). The latter is paid and a good service.

When I let press know about Leadlight (the Apple II version) and Six with an eye to broader public consumption, both games had already been through IFComp and benefited from any bugs found by IFComp players.

Zarf used just gamerelease.net/ for Hadean Lands, but that was after 30k kickstarter plus his profile. (More talk about that in linked thread.) That said, and like I say in the linked thread, Gamespress alone is a very good option.

The crux of using any of these services is - if your game isn’t ready for that level of scrutiny, it’s not worth publicising this way. Even minimal attention from random game punters will result in them tending to find anything/everything technically wrong with the game. Random people who thought they might be interested in your game, but find it’s not up to snuff, won’t be 25% as supportive as IF competition folk. They’ll just assess that you’ve wasted their time.