Searching for games by non-programmers

Hi everyone!

In preparation for an upcoming talk, I’m searching for games made by people who aren’t programmers. The game doesn’t have to be huge or complicated or commercial – just available somewhere I can see it.

I know there are several non-programmers here… but I’d much rather use self-identification than guesswork.

If this describes you, can you please reply in this thread or PM me? Alternately, I can be reached at carolyn at

Thank you so much!

Hi Carolyn,

What do you mean by non-programmers, exactly?

In essence, people who don’t think of themselves as programmers.

This overlaps closely (but not exactly) with people who don’t know any programming languages and people who don’t feel fluent/comfortable with any programming languages.

Why I’m being so vague: I suspect there are people who are fluent in Inform 7 who consider themselves programmers because of that fluency, and people who are fluent in Inform 7 who don’t consider themselves programmers despite that fluency. So, I’m leaning on self-identification.

I don’t consider myself a programmer. This past year I’ve learned how to use Twine and Inform 7, but really just the basics. And not even all the basics when it comes to Inform. (Actually, far from all the basics when it comes to Inform.)

I view myself as a writer first, and I jury-rig the code to make my games. But I hope to improve.

I’m fluent in Inform 7, and know a little Twine, plus some proprietary stuff like Storynexus, but I cannot code anything outside that to save my life. Undum makes my eyeballs bleed. When ChoiceScript was “and now use your favorite text editor…” I started smelling burnt toast. I was in despair during the Versu beta pretending like I understood it, and was disappointed that we never got to use the “screenplay” scene builder. I possibly think programmatically with some of the stuff I try to do, but I am by no means able to do so for reals.

Doomed to dog paddle on the surface of the ocean of programming, over here. One of my games is a round of 20 questions, and the other big one is 50 rounds of one question. Am I the living proof of brain rot that early exposure to BASIC was supposedly evidence of? I really could program on our TRS-80 CoCo when I was 8, and it’s been a long, slow decline from there. What’s frustrating during game design is, being somewhat conversant with programming concepts, coming up with flourishes that should be trivial to implement and gradually amputating them as they’re streamlined and simplified and even drastically compromised versions of them fail to work. Basically the only thing a non-programmer can achieve in I7 without a long, hard gaze into the abyss is a stroll through a series of non-interactive room descriptions, strung together.

For programmers I imagine the ratio of programming to writing time might be something like 90:10, but for non-programmers sadly it’s more like 99:1; every step of gained ground is a major triumph, but it in no way results in the next step being any less of a battle royale.

I emailed you about this, but forgot to link to games. I’ve written two full-length games (my IF Comp entry SCARLET SAILS, and ATTACK OF THE CLOCKWORK ARMY, which you can access via the WIP thread in the ChoiceScript forums), two shorter games (one is DOWN THE WOMBAT HOLE at and the other is AFTER THE FLAG FELL in the Windhammer Prize - my only non-CS game), and been heavily involved in one collaboration (STARSHIP ADVENTURES, also at

My non-collaborative games all take place in one of my two fantasy worlds (a steampunk Australia, and the tropical world of Rahana). If you read Emily Short’s review of Neil Patrick Harris’ book CHOOSE YOUR OWN BIOGRAPHY and then read AFTER THE FLAG FELL, you’ll clearly see her influence (particularly in the existence of Easter Eggs, and a return-to-the-start moment), and the influence of classic CYOA (lots of sudden and gory deaths). There are lots of story elements (such as the non-violent “medical” path at the climax of CLOCKWORK ARMY) that are a direct result of reading Choice of Games forum posts on what people liked or didn’t like in their games.

All of my games are quite action-oriented, due to my background in writing popular young adult fantasy novels. I’m slowly realising that protagonists don’t HAVE to bash everyone to bits at the end… but that knowledge will take a while to truly seep into my games.

I created my game, Questor’s Quest, from scratch in QBASIC. I took a class on Pascal in high school. I took two semesters of C++ in college. That said; no, I don’t think of myself as a “programmer”. It’s not something that is a regular part of my life. I’ve never been employed by anyone as a programmer. I wouldn’t feel capable of creating any usable software beyond what I have submitted to the IF Comp. I hope that is helpful information to you.