Post-Comp Releases

Hello CYOA/MCA fans!

First off all I’d like to thank all those of you who played this year’s IFComp entry of mine The Challenge and who gave my game a higher rating than 1. I appreciate that. Personally I think my game deserved to be on a higher place than just 34th of 35, because of my effort with the 3D graphics, even if the game itself was very short again.

As stated at the end of the game a post-comp release is currently in the making and will be released as soon as possible. If I don’t make it this month it will be released sometime in December.

And for all those of you who played and liked my previous IFComp games, such as Project Delta, Trap Cave and/or Dead Hotel, I have a surprise… I’m also working on post-comp versions of Dead Hotel and Trap Cave.

Here’s a quick outlook for what to expect:

  1. The Challenge (Post-Comp) is going to have the final building area added and more story what’s all about.

  2. Dead Hotel (Post-Comp) is going to be released as the same old-skool Windows-type App as it was in IFComp 2011, but it will have better writing, a few more areas, more zombies to kill and better multiple endings overall. The main story will remain the same though. You start in the stinky hotel room and have to fight your way to outside to reach your car and escape. But there will be more to explore and to do, so you can play the game for maybe 10 to 15 minutes or more, depending on your choices.

  3. Trap Cave (Post-Comp) is going to be the same game as it was written in German language for IFComp 2009, but now it will be completely translated to English aswell, and with a different interface than it was with the old DOS-based Node-X Interpreter.

Once each game is finished it will be uploaded and released on my current website, so you can find all the post-comp releases there. As for my very first entry Project Delta for IFComp 2008, there will be no post-comp release of that game, but I may write a new game which deals with some Area 51 or UFO story in IFComp 2014 or other future competitions. But I haven’t planned anything specific in that regard yet.

Last but not least, I’d also like to emphasize that I do care about my CYOA/MCA games and that I have a real interest to create an enjoyable adventure game one day which people like to play. I know it may be a bit strange that now after so many years I decided to release post-comp versions of my older aventure games, but I’m in the mood for this. Ofcourse, as some of you may noticed, writing text adventure games is not the only thing I do. I also create and release electronic music on my netlabel bitgroove. Thus I’m busy with a lot of other things and not always have enough time to focus on game programming, game design and writing. I also have a life outside the internet which keeps me busy aswell. However, now in the Winter 2013/2014 period I think I can spare more time for more releases.

In that sense stay tuned for more!


Your hard work was visible, and I found The Challenge interesting to play, but I believe The Challenge ranked as low as it did because it was not a completed game. (I seem to recall the same was true for Dead Hotel.) IFComp is supposed to be a competition for polished, extensively tested, full length games. Introcomp would have been a much better competition for The Challenge, since Introcomp is a competition specifically intended for partial entries.

I suggest that you take your winter time to focus on just one game, instead of adding another chunk onto three different games. Flesh out your chosen game until it’s a full experience with a beginning, middle, and end. If you focus on a graphics-heavy game like The Challenge, you might imagine that you’re trying for Steam Greenlight or another commercial indie distributor as your quality goal (or even follow through!) That would help bring your work up from “demo” to “game”, and I think whatever piece you focus on would be much better received as a result.

Ambitious but if you think you’re still interested in expanding your old projects it might help inspire you for next years comp. When I played the Challenge I thought you’d had an interesting idea to work with, but then it just sort of ended abruptly.

I think part of the problem might be the inclusion of 3D graphics in a text adventure. It’s a bit like saying you wrote a novel and were disappointed more people didn’t like it because it had a really cool picture on the cover.

I would have loved the addition of 3D graphics to an actual IF game! The Challenge just … isn’t one yet.

Just tried The Challenge. I definitely think a full multiple-choice story with a 3D graphical model and supporting text could be a great experience. Plenty of room for RPG-like encounters with monsters and such, too.

I feel like I’m in a similar position to you. I released an untested, essentially unfinished game that I think could have potential to be good if I only had the motivation to polish it. I care about my game too, but caring isn’t the same as doing. It’s hard to begin a re-write when the process seems so vast and daunting.

Well, good luck.

The Challenge has - 3D graphics aside - one more interesting technical feature: It does not use any JavaScript…

It sounds like an interesting experiment to make a first-person 3D adventure game. It has been attempted by the greats with success (Cyan; Myst) and failure (Sierra; Gabriel Knight, Kings Quest). It would be interesting to see what talented authors could create, especially if it were released as an authoring system.

Some things you might want to consider:

What exactly is the intention of traversing in 3D? “Plenty of room for RPG Encounters with Monsters” sounds like simple RPG than a CYOA. The audience for IF does overlap some, but realize that many people are text aficionados because they don’t like moving and fighting in real time. If you want to make an RPG, it’s probably easier to layer some menu/text branches over a good existing RPG system than to force a 3D engine into a text system.

To make a 3D adventure game work, the graphics would need to be more than an afterthought with default brick textures. You don’t want just a simple rat maze that people walk through to trigger a pop up window with text telling them that they’re in some fantastic crystal castle when every wall is at 90 degree angles. Not that the graphics can’t be simple, you’re just working against the biggest advantage that text has, and that is to describe things that are either impossible or not feasible to create in real life or on film - or in this case model in 3D. If you take the vista-description part out of the text adventure, you’ve got some fancy dialogue trees and popups saying “Here’s a lever. Do you A: Pull it. B: Push it. C: Have a sandwich?” What are you describing in text if you are modeling the world?

Nearly anyone with writing skills and the right kind of planning ability can write a text adventure. Not everyone has the ability or desire to create modeled 3D environments. This type of system feels like it’d be limited to one-room games or a claustrophobic dungeon crawl. See Kerkerkruip for an eminently fun and playable example of a randomized dungeon crawl in text with map graphics that works. Reading the descriptions of the goings-on in that game and how they change is the fun part. Playing it in real-time 3D with the text omitted might across as a sparse and amateurish whack-em-up.

That said, I’d love to be proven wrong and enjoy an adventure game that had emergent exploration based on a physics and world model. LIke a tomb exploration without enemies jumping at you.

There’s a first-person 3D King’s Quest?

Mask of Eternity. On lookup it was first and third person.

Oh, wow! It looks beautifully awful. Must play!

One of the Ultima games – I think it was the 3rd one, Exodus – also had these awful first-person dungeon crawls. That game was kind of a mess for anyone who wasn’t already inducted into the Ultima series…

The first five all did. I thought #2/Minax was the really messy one. Exodus was just mean with killing you unless you figured you could just beat up helpless druids in Yew, or something. Exodus had maps under control, less arbitrary searching and stupid killer traps. But yeah, it was basically different for difference’s sake, until Ultima IV had the dungeon rooms. Which were cool.

Yeah, your perspective is back to front inurashii. More than half the main Ultima games are overland exploration plus first person dungeoncrawl [emote]:)[/emote] And that’s how Akalabeth was too, the pre-Ultima Ultima.


Well, that was the main reason. Yes, agreed.
The rest 1% was personal bias against me by certain people from past flamewars, as usual. I won’t say any names. [emote];)[/emote]

Mmh, no. Not really. I would argue that Dead Hotel was my only completed game ever submitted to the IFComp so far and that it was just misrepresented by people for various reasons. The main reason in that case was that some people had a different idea of “short”. It is still something which is unclear. And every gamer and judge seems to have his/her own idea of what a “short” adventure game is.

Sorry, but this is partially incorrect actually and I have to disagree with the last part of that statement.
Here are the reasons why:

First of all, the IFComp organisers only suggest that authors should have their games beta-tested, but it is neither a requirement for entering the competition nor a fixed rule for submitting entries! By the way, I usually don’t need beta-testers for my games, because I’m beta-testing them and fixing any bugs myself.

Second, there is no mention of “full length games” anywhere on the official competition site. If you go to the homepage and read the About description there it says the following:

The emphasis is on short and not on “full length”.

You know, the IF Competition is actually for short adventure games. It was always like that and it is still like that. And it was like that when I entered for the very first time back in 2008. But as I have just said before, each gamer and judge seems to have a different idea of what a “short” adventure game is. And THAT is actually the main issue which not only puzzles me but which also makes the IFComp a pain in the ass at times.

The important questions which have to be answered are:

What is a short adventure game?
How do you define “short” for adventure games? By the amount of time you play a game or by the content of the game?
Is an adventure game too short when it’s all about escaping a single basement room? (see The Challenge)
Is an adventure game too short when it’s about escaping from a hotel and killing some zombies along the way? (see Dead Hotel)

Give an example for a “short adventure game” which scored high in the IF competition…
What is a “short adventure game” and what is a “full length adventure game”?
As long as this isn’t clearly and unmistakenly defined, we will always run in circles and have the same problem and the same argument about it each year.

Other authors and I can create an adventure game which takes… let’s say… only 5 minutes to play. Most judges, who entered the IFComp, would most likely say “Naah, that’s too short.” Regardless if the game itself had reasonable content or not. Alright, so next time other authors and I can create an adventure game which takes about 10 to 15 minutes to play. As I know the judges, they would most likey say a similar thing “No, that’s still too short.”

You know, it may seem that I’m not knowledgable about what IF gamers and judges want, but I not only read what judges have to say about my games, but I also carefully read what they say about other games by other authors. And during those 5 years which I’m in this community, I have figured out that IF gamers and judges base the length of an adventure game, and especially the length of an IFComp entry, by the amount of time which takes them to play the game through from start to finish. They don’t base it on the content, as I have always assumed before. No, for most judges the adventure game is considered “complete” when the time of gameplay is about 30 minutes to 2 hours.

So maybe it’s possible that it is the other way round, that it’s not judges, that is authors like me who have a different sense or idea of what a “short” adventure game is. I can’t imagine that playing an adventure game for 2 hours is “short”. For me that’s a long loooong time of gameplay. But it may seem that 2 hours is actually what the IFComp organisers mean by “…some of the best short adventure games…” But then they say in their IFComp rules that submitted adventure games have to be playable under 2 hours. So 2 hours is the limit. But it looks like it is considered “short”. And that’s the confusing part for me.

As I said, we have to define this once and for all. Because if we don’t we will have the same issue each of every year: I will continue to submit games to the IFComp which take 15 minutes maximum to play and judges will give the same reaction that it is too short, because “short” is a subjective parameter here. And I don’t like that. That’s the main problem for me.

To sum it up in one question: What is a “short adventure game” which is considered and accepted as “full length” by the IFComp judges?

That’s a reasonable suggestion and I agree. I should focus on one game and make it perfect before I edit the others.

I don’t quite understand what you mean by that. Why would I need a distributor for my IFComp game entries? Most of us IFComp authors are self-beneficial, so to speak. We don’t have publishers or distributors.

Perhaps you are trying to suggest that I could promote my games commercially outside of the IFComp. Well, that’s a different ballpark which I, and I think most other CYOA authors aswell, haven’t focused on yet. Most of the adventure games which I have entered in the IFComp so far were meant to be non-commercial. Just for fun.

Going seriously commerical with publishers and earn money with game design and development, that’s something which I’m not ready for yet. But I will keep that in mind in the future…


I know this is going to be interpreted as a trollish, flaming comment, but I can’t possibly not make it and it’s not my intention.

Why didn’t you invest this sort of energy in finishing your game before submitting it?

If you can play through an entire finished game in 5 minutes, it’s really, really short. If you can play through it in 15 minutes, it’s still pretty damn short. That doesn’t mean it can’t be fun, though.

Heh. You know, in 3D games the 3D graphics are considered the main thing and not just a “cool picture on the cover”. [emote];)[/emote]

It seems all my 3D level design, which took the most part and work of the 24 hours in which I designed the game, meant nothing to you, because for you the text of the game was more important than the graphics. I think that’s a bit unfair. But okay, I won’t go into any arguments about that. Ofcourse I know that Interactive Fiction is text adventure games first and foremost. But I’m not doing plain text adventure games anymore, but Visual Novels. Or “3D CYOA” as I call it. That’s a big difference now! [emote]:P[/emote]

Well, I hope your intention is not to troll in here, because my intention is not to troll either. I really want to sort this out seriously…

That’s a good question which I often ask myself.

You know, my personal answer to this question is that for the last 5 years I seemed and still seem to have a “creative blackout”, as I describe it. How can I put it… I sometimes run out of creative ideas and don’t know how to finish what I have started.

It’s like writing a book or composing a song. You start with it. It looks quite good and promising. But then suddenly you just don’t know how to go on. I have to admit this has been a big problem of mine for years now. I have started so many projects which I haven’t completed, because in the end I didn’t know how to continue the story.

That’s why I argue that I managed to do it for the first time in Dead Hotel. I was actually very proud of Dead Hotel and that I finished just the way I intended. Some judges said Dead Hotel was just a “demo”. But it wasn’t actually. Yeah, Dead Hotel was kinda short or maybe even unpolished, whatever. But I actually finished it! Now I can expand it in its Post-Comp release…

I don’t know what it really is. Could be a psychological problem. Could be anything. Could be a so-called “midlife crisis”. I have no idea. And I don’t know if other authors have the same problem, but for me it is really difficult to finish a project I once started. Creative blackout. Boom. And there goes my entire energy. It’s bad, I know. And I have to work on that problem. When I was younger I hadn’t that kind of problems. I’m 36 years old now and I have the feeling that I’m running out of more and more ideas and I can’t focus on things so well anymore as I could when I was 18 to 25, for instance.

Hey, who knows. Maybe it is ADD/ADHD. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, although I never had that kind of disorder. That’s my personal suspicion, but I’m not a psychologist. Maybe I don’t have it. Maybe it’s just another problem. But I often have difficulties to focus on one thing. Perhaps that’s why I do so many things at one time and it’s hard for me to finish a single thing I started, because I’m busy with a lot of other things at the same time. It consumes a lot of my energy.

Some of the symptoms of ADHD:

1. Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another
2. Have difficulty maintaining focus on one task
3. Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless doing something enjoyable
4. Have difficulty focusing attention on organizing and completing a task or learning something new

Especially number 3 sounds a lot like me! You know, when I’m bored with a game project I don’t continue it anymore. I don’t care then. I have to be in the mood. And it has to appear new and exciting. If it’s not then it bores me again and I need some new kick. The Challenge was a new kick! [emote]8-)[/emote]