Should Parchment autoplay or have a play button?

Aside: I’m intending to change Parchment to stop autoplaying (and auto downloading), but to have a play button instead. I’ll also make it say how big the download will be for big games like this, and ideally even have a download progress bar. Then people will have more idea what to expect when starting a game like this.


I think autoplay is good, actually. But a progress bar would be very welcome.


Maybe autoplay for smaller files? Not everyone has a good internet connection, and the really big files could be a lot for someone to download without realising. And because it has to download the whole storyfile before starting, unlike most big media we use online which can be streamed and only has to download the first chunk. And also cause it would solve the issue that browser audio needs some user interaction first.

Maybe autoplay for any storyfile that would be at most 1MB after gzip? With a play button for anything bigger.

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When downloading large files, if you click on them, the browser just starts downloading them. You can cancel them, if they’re too big, or they’re taking too long, or you just don’t want to use the disk space, or what have you.

But no browser makes you click a download twice just because it’s a large file, AFAIK.

But being a good internet citizen means not autodownloading massive files unexpectedly. If you share a link to an Ubuntu ISO you’d link to the download page not the file itself. If you share a 5 hour livestream on YouTube it only buffers a few MB from the beginning of the stream. Our biggest IF examples are (for now) usually smaller than that, but I think the way to be a good internet citizen would be to have a play button if the storyfile is 50MB. For me the real question is what the max size for enabling autoplay should be, if I just don’t remove autoplay all together.

(I am thinking the I7 template would still autoplay.)


The “Play Online” button on IFDB is a play button. I see how you’re looking at this, but I don’t think that additional friction is desirable here.

Seems to me that we want more feedback on the iplayif page while the download is going on – a progress bar would be nice, but even “Downloading story file (50 MB)” would be helpful. And, as Dan said, it would give the player enough info to decide to close the window.

File size info on the IFDB page (below the “Play Online” button) would be great too.


For comparison: Itch web games always have a “Play” button when you view the game page.

But I think that’s entirely because Itch web games have audio more often than not. The security rules around browser audio mean you have to launch the game with a click. Itch pages don’t tell you the size of web-playable games; players don’t seem to be very interested in that.

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I’d also prefer not to have an extra click even for big games, and I’m saying that as someone with a crummy enough connection that 70Mbyte would take ~3 minutes to download.
(The progress bar / size indicator on the loading screen would be a big help, so I know if I’m in for a long wait, and can give up if I don’t fancy it.)

I might have misunderstood the implications of this, but for avoidance of doubt, TADS doesn’t have a monopoly on big gamefiles… consider the blorbs for Ekphrasis (~65M), A Martian Odyssey (~53M), The Art of Fugue (~20M), Discover the World (~17M) (even ignoring outliers like Archaeological Fiction: Sagfjordbotn at ~725M).
Even the popular Counterfeit Monkey is ~11M.
I think 1Mbyte would be far too low a threshold on today’s Internet.


I’ve added a progress indicator to Parchment. For example:

Note that this is only for the storyfile itself, not any interpreter files. While most interpreters are pretty small, TADS does have an ~1MB (gzipped) WASM file to download, so it would probably be worth including that in the progress bar too. And if Frankendrift ever gets added to Parchment, it is likely to be considerably bigger.

Parchment must download one 224kB font before it begins, but I’m not sure if it’s worth trying to include that too. None of the JS files can really be monitored either.

I’m still considering the play button, but for now this will let you know how big the file will be, in case you want to close the page rather than download it.