Non-Competition Games

Does anyone ever release a short, non-epic game that is not for a competition, anymore? Or is this community basically now entirely competition-driven?

More importantly, does anyone ever play short, non-epic games that are not released as part of competitions, anymore? (Besides the hardcore group who plays every game that is posted in here.)

I’m just wondering, because ‘competitions’ are not really my favourite thing. At all. And more broadly, any deadline whatsoever just makes me want to stop caring and work on some other project that nobody knows about, so that I won’t have to half-ass anything because of a number on a calendar. Really the best way to make me stop caring about something is to slap a deadline on it so that I know that in the last month I will come to detest my own project and the very end will be an extremely unpleasant, anxiety-ridden experience for me. I might even have a panic attack. Why have unpleasant experiences if I am doing this all for fun? I would rather take forever, and die having never released anything, than subject myself repeatedly to crunch time ‘for fun’.

But I guess that’s just me. It’s probably better for community production rate that competition pressure is applied; it’s not the community’s fault that I personally have trouble dealing with competition pressure. I’m not saying we should not have competitions; I’m just wondering if we have moved too far in a particular direction.

P.S. Last year I nearly had a panic attack just delivering a one-move game on deadline. ONE MOVE! I have very unpleasant memories of that now. Maybe I will just write short things and figure out what competitions they might apply to, after the fact…

Come on and Wreck My Car was a neat concept deftly handled so you should definitely make more games. I can’t speak for everyone but I’ve played lots of non-comp games in the last few years, including loads of Varytale and Twine stories. CRY$TAL WARRIOR KE$HA, baby tree, and Heroes Rise come to mind as short non-comp games which I’ve played.

I’ve released 3 non-comp, short IF games recently. You should check out

Okay cool, thanks. I was also wondering if any game ever gets wider attention in the blogs and such if it isn’t epic or in a competition. I rarely see articles about short IF games, individually, unless they’re by one of the few top authors. I guess it’s just tough to break a signal through the noise! Has to be something really special.

P.S. Thanks for playing it, Joey! 8)

That sounds like a very good way to operate.

You really should specify what you mean by “epic.” Do you merely mean science fiction and fantasy? Or by “epic” are you talking about a game’s overall tone or theme or content, something serious rather than casual?

I take it you’re not considering reviews on the IFDB to be “articles”?

I assume ‘epic’ in the sense of ‘very large’.

I figure that’s what I’m going to do; however, I think it might be against the rules for some of the comps. I haven’t checked but ‘SpeedIF’ doesn’t sound like they would be into it.

Just length, really. maga’s got it. Huge, elaborate. RPG-like. Et cetera. Any game in which you have to grind would probably qualify. Probably more SF/fantasy focused but only because these are the genres more likely to produced ‘epic’ length games.

I don’t want to split hairs. I am talking about how to give a short game the best shot at getting played by people who don’t usually play IF. Those people by definition don’t normally frequent IFDB. Therefore, currently the only way to really achieve wider press attention for a short game is to enter it in a competition. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

I’m busy trying to get people who DO play IF to play my games, let alone people who do not.

This depends. Any given comp is not going to deliver attention, and any given game within a widely-covered comp is not guaranteed attention either.

The only comp that semi-reliably gets articles written about it in places outside the traditional IF-sphere is the IF Comp itself. (And those articles rarely cover the entire comp; rather, they cherry-pick the standout games, or the ones that they think will interest their audience most.) Of the other regular comps, Spring Thing and Introcomp rarely get any notice. One-off minicomps are more variable. Apollo 20+18 got mentions in a few places because, well, TMBG is a band beloved of a particular demographic. The JayIsGames room-escape comp, similarly, was structured around an existing genre, in a place where people who liked that genre would see it.

So probably as useful as ‘it’s in a comp’ is ‘is presented with content/genre hooks that appeal to existing, well-established, enthusiastically-held tastes’. Nice art and extremely robust implementation are also pretty useful. Being extraordinarily good is also kind of helpful.

I think if you’re not a “top author” and want to engage non-IFers, you need to spend some time on the ground in non-IF communities. TIGSource is an easy example. You easily can start a devlog there for your game and if it’s good it’ll get attention. The problem is that for a niche like IF it’s even more difficult to attract eyeballs to it.

But it’s kind of a prerequisite, which is where my concern lies. I’ve been feeling like if I write short games I kinda have to enter them in competitions or else maybe I am at a big disadvantage compared to authors who love to do comps (in the field of short games alone, I mean – I do have a more ‘epic’ game in the works but it’s taking me forever and it’s not for any comps, it’s just a labour of love).

This is probably common knowledge for solid regulars, but mostly unknown to me, and I really appreciate the way you impart info and correct misstatements without trying to cast the questioner in an unfavourable light. 8)

Good point!

Yeah, I once had that thought too, but I notice in my local community, where there is an extremely thriving and even internationally known indie games community, and championing homebrew games is almost a religion, almost nobody is interested in text games. (Despite the fact that a major community founder actually writes them.) I mean, sure, they pay lip service to text games, and when you meet most of them and you say you’re working on a game, eyes light up. But then you follow up by saying it’s a text game, and it’s kinda like you just farted but no one wants to say. If I want to take as a goal reaching out to IF newbies with unusual types of games, I think I need to go outside the typical gaming community altogether, but this is only based on my quite limited anecdotal impressions.

Try ‘platformers are inane and pixel art is ugly’ if you really want to stink up the room where indie gamers are involved. (It’s hyperbole in my case, sort of. But still.)

What’s with the pressing need to impress non-IF gamers? To me, that’s like being in a hip-hop band and insisting that people who aren’t into hip-hop listen and appreciate what you’re doing. [emote]:?[/emote]

…which hip-hop has constantly adapted to do, which is why it’s a global phenomenon rather than just a niche thing that a handful of black New Yorkers are into.

(I’m not saying that IF is likely to work in a similar way. But that was basically the worst possible analogy with which to make your point.)

Thanks for your input, maga. Once again, I need to actually spell out my point word-for-word since my bad analogy confused everyone so much. Too bad I’m high enough not to care to actually do it this time.

Plenty of people are interested in IF when I talk to them about it. They’re not generally gamers, but then why is gaming particularly relevant? (When I look on Twitter I often see people saying of interactive fiction that it’s “not really a game”. So what?) There are lots of people out there who are interested in the intersection of storytelling and technology, and those are the people we should be talking to.

A lot of my friends are budding novelists, some have been published by niche publishers. I find it interesting that my free to play story games have collectively had more reviews and reads than their more conventional novels. It doesn’t pay any bills, but I find it pleasing to think that people might still play my games in decades time. Do people think that interactive fiction will become more widely known in the future or less?

Not ‘impress’. Try ‘reach’. It’s not that I care extra about the out-group’s opinions; I just would like to see the in-group expand to contain more of the out-group. Ideally, all of it. 8)

Yeah, well put! So that to me says transmedia. Why don’t we see more transmedia types in here?

Man, I wish I knew the answer to that. Almost certainly something called ‘interactive fiction’ will become more widely known, but what will it look like? Will it even resemble at all these types of games or even a game I’d like to play? In the future, will I have to say ‘text adventure’ because if I say ‘interactive fiction’, everybody will immediately think of something very popular that’s completely different? If we knew the answer for certain, I bet there would be a lot less acrimonious jockeying for position. 87

Interesting point about the view numbers versus budding novelists.

Peter Pears has a good line on this (which should appear if/when another SPAG is published) when he says that we have interactive fiction is a very young medium and we have the privilege to be around and shape its development. Young novelists and poets of the standard mold don’t really have that benefit. Exposure to an audience is only a secondary thing for me: like the Oulipo and the Pataphysicists, I want to experiments with new forms of literature and interactive fiction is one way of doing that.

Hmmm… I’m imagining a nightmare future where in thirty years everyone reads e-books with audioscapes and bio-feedback and Amazon have copywrited the phrase ‘interactive fiction’ and through the plutarchy has made independent text games illegal but an underground network of aging enthusiasts trade hard disks in abandoned warehouses…

…and whatever happened to that collab IF universe? [emote]:D[/emote]

@Laroquod, I agree that text games can be a hard sell in indiegamesland, but on the other hand some writers who got started there (Pacian? Christine Love? Mousechief perhaps? Though I guess his games aren’t strictly IF, but they’re basically text games) now have their stuff regularly covered by indie press. I don’t think Pacian entered a compo until his 4th or 5th game. porpentine started showing works all over the place (including, but not limited to, IFDB) long before entering a comp.