I say that if you think even one person will play it, and that one person is worth your time, then go for it. I would be that one person.
Follow that rainbow! But I’m going to try and finish Zork 1 before I play it. (edit: not being sarcastic)
count me in
Thanks, all, for the encouragement. I agree that ultimately any author has to please him/herself – it’s not about pleasing a vast audience, because there isn’t a vast audience for IF. I guess my concerns are, first, beta-testing, and second, the viability of old-school puzzly IF.
My experience with my last couple of large games was that my testers kind of pooped out toward the end. I didn’t get nearly the number of reports relating to the last half of the game that I did on the first half.
I’ve noticed that a lot of the more interesting new games are the ones that re-envision the IF experience in some way. (“Coloratura” is as good an example as any.) Heck, way back in '99, when I released “Not Just an Ordinary Ballerina,” reviewers commented that it was old-school. And this new game is explicitly a sequel to “Ballerina.” Goofier and larger, but with the same PC, the same setting (although the shopping center has been remodeled somewhat), and a closely related quest. My concern, then, is that a game along these lines might be greeted with a collective yawn.
But as Andreas noted, it’s really down to whether I do a good job on the design, writing, and coding. The question, “Will this be well received” is not one that anybody could answer in the abstract.
I could beta for you, if you make it.
Counterfeit Monkey was a very large, fairly old-school game with lot of puzzles. Skim the hint-request thread for it. Is that enough interested people for you?
I count at least 20 posters in that thread who were posting for the first time – that is, they created forum accounts specifically to ask about CM. So appeal is not limited to “this community”.
To follow up on zarf’s comment, my first parser-based IF game was Counterfit Monkey. As a new player, I’d love to play a game with similarly traditional concepts that isn’t cruel to casual players (like many other “old-school” games I’ve since tried and just could not get into).
Jim himself co-authored with Eric Eve one such IF: Mrs. Pepper’s Nasty Secret.
it’s pretty good, quite old school and not that cruel. It’s one of the best beginner IF I know.
I think you should stick with it for as long as working on it makes you happy. I have plenty of ideas for games that might not be very large, but would be a lot of work. I enjoy tinkering with them when I can in the hopes of playing them with my kids five years from now. I’ve had to learn to let go of the annoyance with myself for letting projects go unfinished for long stretches – it’s just the nature of hobbies in adulthood.
Thanks. That game was written in such a way as to be totally non-cruel. You can’t lose, and you can’t die. The solution to the next puzzle is always where you can find it.
My other large games (Lydia’s Heart, Flustered Duck, and Not Just an Ordinary Ballerina) are at least moderately cruel. If the player does something that makes the game unwinnable, either it will be immediately undoable for obvious reasons (usually “You have died.”), or, if you’re not dead, the output will say something like, “As you watch the gold key sink into the river of lava, you have a horrible feeling of loss and despair. Perhaps you should have held onto it.” Again, recommending an ‘undo.’ But it’s up to the player to read the output and notice the rather broad hint.
The author might accidentally neglect to do this at some crucial point, but we hope not.
Thanks! I’ll put that one next on my list.
Though ‘cruel’ might not be as comprehensive a word as I thought it was. Sympathetic, maybe? Essentially, if I enter (what I consider to be) reasonable commands, and they aren’t recognized by the parser, I lose patience very quickly. And I believe this short fuse is common among players new to IF. Just a thought if you are worried about your game not reaching a broad enough audience.
Incidentally, Too Large Game would be an awesome name for it.
IF doesn’t understand everything. it basically only understands imperative manipulative commands such as VERB OBJECT
the freedom a text cursor provides is really just a well-crafted illusion
actually, it’s one of the hallmarks of the twitter generation
it’s called information overload
I don’t think this is the cause. It always takes a while to learn a new user interface, and command-line interfaces aren’t initially familiar to most people (including myself) who were born in the 90s or later.
I was talking about short attention spans.
Besides, I believe the twitter and text-chatting generation are well acquainted to blinking text cursors.
My favorite way of explaining text commands to new players is “caveman English.” That phrase, with a perhaps a couple of quick examples, seems to cover it pretty well. At least, I hope it does.
That said, an experienced author will try to anticipate as many commands as possible. For example, if you have a fence that the PC can climb (in order to get to the other side, perhaps), you don’t just want to implement ‘climb fence’. You also want to handle ‘climb up fence’, ‘climb over fence’, ‘climb up on fence’, ‘climb up over fence’, ‘get up on fence’, and probably ‘ascend fence’, just to be safe. And after you’ve done all this, one of your testers will try ‘crawl over fence’. It’s never-ending … you do the best you can, and it will never be enough.
caveman english is why Lost Pig was so sucessful
I think youngsters should really begin from humble beginnings
Yes, but texting isn’t the same as playing IF. Just because I can type a forum post doesn’t mean I can write a screenplay.
What, not Colossal Cave?
“Cruel” is a bit of a technical term in interactive fiction; it’s often used to refer to how easy it is to make the game unwinnable (and nothing else). See the zarfian cruelty scale:
By Jim’s account I think that Mrs. Pepper qualifies as merciful and his other games count as nasty or perhaps tough. (Looking at this exegesis, it’d be “tough.” Or by this one, “polite” even. Maybe depends on how broad the hint is.) Though this is complicated a bit by the presence of “undo”; it may be that his hints are broad enough that you always immediately know that after you throw the key into the lava you need to undo, and then you don’t need another save file.
Anyway, this particular use of “cruel” is distinct from things like “how responsive is the parser?” and “how good is the game about giving feedback when you’re trying something that’s almost right or completely wrong?”
…and that’s a slightly different topic. The classic example of a misleading parser output would be the first response here:
Again, I don’t think the author can ever get it perfect – there will always be things you don’t think of. But it’s vital, while you’re developing a game, to try to think like a player, NOT like the author. YOU know the correct commands, so it requires an ongoing mental effort (and lots of extra time) to stop and think about all of the other things the player might try.