Patreon/kickstarter-funded interpreters?

I’d just like to toss an idea out there…

The state of interpreters for the ZMachine, Glulx and T3 is… hmmm, let’s say uneven. I understand there isn’t a reliable Mac Inform interpreter, and T3 is lagging behind in any mobile OS.

I was just idly wondering whether a kickstarter or a patreon of any of those new-fangled thingamajigs would help encourage some of the fantastic programmers we have around here to actually fill that existing gap, and possibly go as far as creating more terps for Hugo, or Alan, or Adrift. Or hey, Level 9 and Magnetic Scrolls.

I was also wondering how many people would be willing to contribute financially to see that happen.

I think there’s a general feel Patreon isn’t a good match for big projects. (plus they just got hacked :wink:)

Kickstarter… the question there would be, does making the project a Kickstarter actually help? It opens financially supporting the project up to anyone. But can you excite people outside of IF about repairing IF tools? Zarf threw tool development in on the side of Hadean Lands, but it was a general thing in support of Hadean Lands. Hadean Lands was the main attraction.

If one doesn’t want to appeal to a wide-wide audience (for instance, I suspect the Clash of the Type-ins Kickstarter was pretty localised to IF folk) does using Kickstarter help at all? Generally it adds a ton of work for the people who have to deliver stuff, unless someone does the management for free. Plus you potentially gotta think of levels, rewards, etc. Or not. But every aspect of a Kickstarter you don’t tend to tends to equal less wide interest.

I also said to Zarf, in a thread he made, that I’d throw money at him to bring Gargoyle up to code, when he rhetorically asked if people would be interested in financially supporting such projects. But then he just went and performed other actions in his life that he personally wanted to perform, and didn’t do anything about taking my money or fixing Gargoyle! The unfeeling bastard!


Well, I was basically using my ignorance of the new-fangled technologies to see about motivation. I always thought money would be quite a motivation.

I suppose, then, that the terp situation is unlikely to improve unless a programmer makes a killer app of a game and decides that the terp situation isn’t good enough and wishes to improve it? That’s a bit unlikely, we’re lucky enough to have Zarf doing that for I7 and Glulx but still leaves all the other systems and devices.

I mean, combining a killer-app-designer and a programmer who can do the terps is hard. Easier, I thought, to motivate a programmer. If money’s not the best motivation, well, I’m stumped. :slight_smile: What about the motivation of playing Future Boy (Hugo), Wonderland (Magnetic Scrolls), Knight Orc (Level 9), 1893/Babel/Worlds Apart (TADS) in more devices?

Is it that there isn’t a demand? I mean, in this place, if enough people want something they just get together and do it, which is pretty much what you’d expect from an active community centered around something they all love. Yet, we have plenty of Mac users (not me, personally) and a lack of properly-working interpreters for the most common system currently in use.

I’m all for terps! Terps, terps, terps, the more the merrier! I just want to know who I have to motivate and how I have to motivate them. If Kickstarter/Patreon is out, then what’s in?

(There’s always the issue of whether it’s worth investing on specific terps or whether the generalised Gargoyle is the model of the future. I like Gargoyle, but I won’t even consider using it until it’s exactly as good as the official interpreters. If Gargoyle could possibly be brought to the level of the official terps - for instance, multimedia in TADS is nonexistent in Gargoyle I believe, or as close as not to make a difference, and I doubt .z6 is fully supported - would it be worth stopping work on all other terps, discarding Zoom and Spatterlight, and making the Gargoyle libraries the new hub of the terpiverse?)

I should probably clarify that I bang on about Gargoyle in particular because, as is, it’s all I’ve got on the Mac that’s halfway OK for new Inform games.

I guess you can just use Kickstarter as a technical tool to gather money and pledges for one project. It may work as a motivator for the locals to just see, yes, people are throwing money at this, I will throw money too.

Maybe this all really begins with finding a programmer capable of doing it and prepared to do it via a Kickstarter. I can imagine a ton of stipulations required all around. But I think I’ll just wait for others to chime in.


This is a difficult subject. IF endeavors still seem to be a herd of cats to me. There does seem to be more cooperation on the story-creation, but we all still generally follow the beat of our own drummer when it comes to tool development.

I was considering various crowd-sourcing methods to speed up development on my vision, but after several posts here and over 600 views, there’s been very little feedback and no volunteers, and no mentions in peoples blogs about how this might be interesting or cool.

So I would expect the same response from crowd-sourcing. A lot of views, but no action.

My take is that people still don’t understand what I’m trying to do (my problem) and/or don’t trust me to complete the vision (also my problem).

So it’s one of those “build and they will come” type things. I will just continue to write code myself and pay for Elancers as I need them.

I still liked the idea Jim Monroe (as I recall) had of building some type of association that we all fund, have some sort of board that chooses projects to fund, and have work paid for. This would be on the research/tool side, not on the story side. I think this is much more viable than each of us trying to crowd-source often vague visions of improving IF development.

David C.

That sounds intriguing. Wonder how many people would be willing to participate financially (I would, depending on how much is required - I don’t make that much per month, but what little I can contribute, I’d like to) and how many people - or how much - it would take to get it started.

…and whether there are actually programmers in our midst who are interested.

EDIT - The hard thing about something like that is that, inevitably, some people would be financing something they’re not interested in. I’m not interested in web-based browsers. Some people don’t have iOS devices. Some people don’t have Android devices. I would gladly help fund more terps for the iOS, but I’d be less enthusiastic to be helping fund web-based terps, and I’d probably be OK with helping fund an endeavour that would give us iOS, Android AND web-based terps. Which puts more pressure on the dev team, who can’t be expected to work on three things at the same time

Let me just throw an example out there - Juhanna is working on a web-based Hugo terp. I don’t know if it’s finished, and I’m sorry for speaking this way if it is, it’s just that I personally give pretty much zero attention to any web-based terp. But I did let him know that, should he ever want to use that framework for an iOS Hugo terp (and I seem to remember there was some interest in that) I’d be happy to help with testing (imagine playing the Robb Sherwin games on the go! Yeah, baby!).

This is an example of, as David just said, people preferring to do things at their own pace, which is of course wonderful - if people aren’t rushed, or pressured, the end product comes out better.

But if things continue as they are, and if authors are dependant on a programmer feeling like making a terp - and let’s face it, there’s TONS of more interesting things a programmer could be working on - then the situation is unlikely to improve much, Juhanna’s recent new web-based terp notwithstanding. I mean, since I’m speaking about Juhanna specifically, surely it’s far more stimulating to work on Vorple instead.

I would also regularly pitch in cash for some type of IF foundation/association.

If a fund/plan of some kind does get set up, one way to make more people aware of it (people who don’t necessarily pay attention to IF most of the year) might be to tie it in with an IF Comp prize. For example, a prize could be “I will donate X amount of time/work towards development of X interpreter” or “I will donate X amount of money to the Patreon/Kickstarter/Whatever for X interpreter.”

See, we need a way to convert our cat-herding nature into managed action. I would prefer any fund not be tied to an particular endeavor (although people would certainly be able to vote on projects like on a UserVoice page). Then we have a small group of people determine what efforts are best funded and put some type of project management around that (hours, start date, end date, milestones).

For what it’s worth, I have seriously considered Patreon for this kind of thing and I continue to seriously consider it.

(I decided that Ship Another iPad Game (Flashpaper War) was a more important short-term plan. That was supposed to be my summer project, but then there was some client work and then this IndieCade thing came up and I need to do some AppleTV ports and basically now Flashpaper is my fall-and-winter project. Sigh.)

My current conclusions:

  • It’s great that people here are interested, but this forum is too small to be a meaningful sample. (Or a meaningful source of funds.) Any successful crowdfunding effort must appeal to the wider IF world.
  • I have no ability to herd cats. If I do this, I will ask for money for myself and do the work myself. I’m not saying that a team effort is a bad idea, but it would be a terrible idea for me to run a team effort.
  • I have an obvious point of self-interest here: if Gargoyle is improved, I can put Hadean Lands up on Steam and profit.
  • But I want to work on more things than Gargoyle. So Patreon for ongoing work is a better fit than Kickstarter for a single task.
  • (Besides, any Kickstarter with my name on it is a big red flag saying “This guy will take four years to finish.” Paying me for monthly progress sounds like a smarter deal, right?)

So, like I said, I’m considering it. But I have to finish a lot of my own crap first.

Well the type of person to run a foundation is not necessarily a developer or even project manager in my eyes. I have no interest in herding cats either.

And Zarf: You’re perfectly capable of doing your own things. But I was suggesting we build a system to work on a wider list of tools and tasks and have a UserVoice method to choose those.

But a Zarf Patreon would be a start. A lot of people would pitch in (including myself) for that sort of thing.

I would actively support a single-programmer Patreon, like Zarf, if they announced that they were going to start working on something that I wanted to actively support.

Does that sound a bit harsh? I guess it does… it’s just that I’m not really interested in seeing more work in the iOS Glulxe framework (because there’s already iFrotz) or in Meanwhile (played it, loved it, shelved it), or in Pocket Storm, or in Quixe (I’m the offline-terp guy, remember?). Zarf does tons of stuff, and I’m not interested in all of it, necessarily. I would, however, gladly support what does interest me. And if I got a whiff that Quixe could be used as a framework to take Glulx to other devices (even if I don’t own them) then I would actively support it financially.

If most everyone did something similar, would that be prohibitive?

A good portable full featured HTML Glk implementation would be great to have, and could be used for online terps and offline too.

What we really need is more new people getting involved in maintaining the existing terps.

Is there anything non-programmers can do to help?

Learn to program? :confused:

I’ve said before that I find the approach of inspirational. ( In an ideal world, we would actively solicit coding help from everybody, including newcomers, including newcomers who have never written a line of code.

In this world, we’re apathetic and surly to newcomers, just like most open-source communities.

Is there any public todo-list of things that interpreters need? It might be a good starting point to have such a page, maybe with the competences needed? (this requires to know how a terp works, this is more a design/UI thing, this is just scripting, etc.) I remember those kinds of lists when I was looking into the Google Summer of Code, and they were pretty motivating.

Also, maybe non-coders can help with the testing side of things? “Write a game that uses colors heavily that will be used for tests during the development of new features”? Although I don’t know if that’s a good idea for regression testing or if you should be testing individual functions instead.

Just brainstorming… and thanks to anyone who contributed to interpreters, in the past or in the present; it’s a lot of work and it benefits everyone.

Yes, I second that todo-list. The easier it can be made for people to contribute, the more likely I think it’ll be that they do.

Such a list is something non-coders certainly can help with too. “These are the problems with this term on Mac” - kind of things.

I’m not promising that I’d do anything if contributing was made easier to do, but maybe. I’m not prepared to commit to years of work or anything. (I’ve tried open source development, and burned out on it. Towards the end, it was no fun at all.)

So, in an attempt to contribute something to the conversation, I started a TODO list, over at the IFWiki so that anyone can edit it or talk about it on the discussion page. Some stuff I remember from posts here, some stuff comes from zarf’s todo list on the January Gameshelf blog post (thank you, bg, for thinking of this).

Disclaimer: I don’t know much about interpreters and how they work. I’d like to learn, for sure, but right now I’m not at a place where I can commit to helping, unfortunately :frowning: I just did that to help and get people motivated to contribute. And some of the issues on there are, well, not very clearly described either ^^’

If you know of any problems or bugs, if you think I forgot something (your favorite interpreter, a technical comment, a general request, a remark about accessibility), please, don’t hesitate to say something! On this thread, on the IFWiki page, or send me an email, a PM - but let me/us know! Thank you :slight_smile:

Better support for TADS in gargoyle:

Multiplatform C/C++ and jam required. Bonus if TADS and gargoyle codebases familiarity.

Hey hey, awesome stuff! Thanks a bunch for getting the ball rolling!