Are you writing parser or choice based games? Because if you’re a parser person, ParserComp is this summer, and it’s a really friendly experience.
Here’s the sequence that worked for me when I was fresh off the boat:
1.) Write a game. Do NOT post it publicly anywhere.
2.) Ask for beta testers here, and do it pretty early, because there will be so much wrong with it that you will need a lot of time to fix it all. This is not a personal prediction about the quality of your games-- it’s just that a new author cannot predict all the ways in which players will do things differently than you expect. The expectations for implementation in the comps are high, and testers will help you get there. Also, for some reason no one can ever see all the typos and grammar problems in their own writing.
You will send the game to your testers via email or DM so that they can play it, but it isn’t published openly, which would disqualify you from almost every comp.
I cannot stress this enough: be open to criticism from your testers. Take a deep breath, shelve your ego, and give them rein to comment on the story, the writing, the ending(s), the puzzle quality-- everything. They will make your game better if you can take the gentle, polite, but firm criticism you will get if you allow it.
3.) Fix all the stuff your testers find, and then get a second round of testers and do all of #2 again.
4.) Submit your game and bite your fingernails until the reviews come in.
Oh, and then your game will be out there and on IFDB for all to play. You can’t submit it to any other comps, but it will be eligible for any awards for that year.
One other option (although I hear they are seeking a new coordinator so hopefully there won’t be a break this year) is IntroComp where you can submit just the beginning of a game to get feedback from players. This disqualifies it from IFComp, but I want to say some Introcomp entries might have been qualified in completed form to enter in Back Garden for Spring Thing? Someone correct if I’m deluded.
I think you can enter a completed IntroComp game into the main Spring Thing festival - from the rules:
“ The general idea behind the “new” guideline is that games should feel like a debut: they should have mostly new content. A translation of a game from another language or an extensively fleshed out version of a game prototyped in IntroCompor Ludum Dare would probably be cool; a minor improvement to an already existing game, not so much.”
As a sometime filmmaker I often wish that IF was more like the film business, where the same film can be entered into multiple festivals. Part of the fun of finishing a short film is touting it around various small film festivals and promoting it after it’s done. Most festivals want films that have been completed in the last year, but most don’t care if they’ve been screened elsewhere. Unfortunately the IF world is so small that the people who play IFComp games are exactly the same people who play Spring Thing games, &c. &c. Nevertheless it might be fun to have a mini event where a bunch of old and forgotten games (perhaps with a similar theme) could presented together like a movie marathon. I’m not sure how that would work in practice, though, unless it was a group play-through like Club Floyd (or a live event).
I’ve been harboring such thoughts myself. Not so much changing the norms of existing Comps, because those are out of my purview, but maybe creating a year-end Comp that allows any game debuted in that calendar year to be submitted. The twist would be folks would submit their game for various Genre awards like, instead of the audience deciding whether a game is even in a specific genre, the author themselves submits their game into the ring for Horror or Comedy or Space Westerns or what have you. Then folks vote for their favorites. The difficulty would be preventing a rehash of the IFDB/XYZZY Awards and reinforcing this is more Author driven in terms of submissions and in which category a specific game is submitted. I dunno, there’s rough edges. Still workshopping it.
Just think it might be fun as some submissions might be surprising. “Oh, you want me to consider the humor in your Lovecraftian nightmare? Okay then.” Might cause folks to see titles in a new light.
I think IFComp during its inception [BWAAAAAH sound] was specifically designed to foster new works, and if I understand correctly, they also intended to encourage shorter more digestible games than the standard Infocom-epic that back in the day took weeks to complete before online hints. Hence the two-hour rule. And I’m sure also to prevent people from re-entering the same White Whale project over and over.
Me too. But a heavy hitter with a fantastic game could dominate EVERY comp if they could be submitted more than once, and that might overshadow newcomers and diamonds in the rough.
I think the way to get more attention is for everyone here to make a concerted effort to yell at everybody they can think of: reporters, game reviewers, game site admin, etc about the need to pay at least a little bit of attention to this niche. A little bit of publicity for any IF game is probably good for everybody. I know the big game review websites probably make money off of paying attention to well-known devs and lucrative games, but surely they could throw a little tiny bit of attention to niche gaming every once in a while.
I think all the competitions held throughout the year are a great way to encourage growth and keep the community we have thriving. And all these competitions are great vetting processing for highlighting the best of the best IF can offer. The real issue is that outside of these competitions there is no cohesive effort to promote. The XYZZY awards are considered the Oscar-Grammy-Tony’s of Interactive Fiction, but to be honest, it feels there is more buzz within each competition, then with any overall awards.
Just like we say, ooh that movie might win an Academy Award, there should be talk like, ooh, that entry might win a XYZy. Within the confines of each Comp, if you could click a button and say I nominate this one or that one, that would be nice. Maybe have a site with a running tally of XYZZY nominees or an awards category in this forum where the top games of the year can be discussed. So those that are interested have a singular place to go where they can view, d/l, and discuss them prior to voting.
Maybe it’s a pipedream. the more competitions, the merrier Each has its own niche. But every competition should link to something greater. A place to filter up where the best IF of the year can be showcased more prominently.
I agree with this as sometimes “updated games” are quite significant. For instance, a parser game might be resubmitted as a choice game or vice versa or an old series of games could be compressed into one big game with the less interesting parts removed and so on.
At the moment it is my impression that the Back Garden in Spring Thing may not be 100% open to this(?) but perhaps the rules could be loosened next year so that significantly changed or improved games (according to the author) can be submitted to the Back Garden without the risk of being disqualified for not being sufficiently different from an earlier game/version. If it turns out that the Back Garden drowns in small game updates (I doubt it) the rules could be tightened again the following year.
Thrilled to announce The Ca**yle G**up Capital Access Interactive Fiction Investment Trust Fund I, which will raise an initial equity round at $25M, using this money to invest in the creation of IF titles designed to do well at IFComp, from which a percentage royalty fee, based on a proprietary credit rating assigned based on an author’s Expected Placement Value (e.g. AAAmanda might pay out at a 6% cap rate but CC high-yield authors like Kaemi will pay out at a 68% cap rate), will be taken from IFComp proceeds and used to reinvest in other authors, until the fund date closes and we’ve won several IFComps and made billions.
Tsk. You’re thinking too small. How will the investment company buy a superyacht, which it absolutely needs if it wants to play at the big kids’ table, on the measly returns from such an impoverished start?
Seriously, though, why shouldn’t Comps give cash prizes? And why shouldn’t people who need or just want that money take it if they’re fortunate enough to win it? I can’t think of a single reason why this is injurious to the community or the integrity of the art form. I sell art for a living (kind of, when pandemics don’t shut everything down), and I am pretty stubborn about maintaining my vision instead of making crowd-pleasers, and there’s no cognitive dissonance for me in paying my electric bill, or buying something frivolous, with that money.