[updated May 2023] Seeking beta testers for an IFComp 2023 entry

Hi all!

I’ve been working on a comedy-puzzly parser-based game for IFComp called Honk!. I’m about to go on holiday and won’t be working on the game for a week or two, and I was hoping to get a few people to test what I have so far.

I’m calling this alpha testing for now, because the game is not complete. Bits of the writing haven’t been done yet, the writing that IS there needs redrafting, some custom responses are missing, some scenery is unimplemented, some new actions haven’t been thoroughly roadtested, NPCs are too static, and I want to add more conversation options. Despite all that, the game is playable with all scenes and puzzles implemented, in-game hints and a few good jokes (I hope), and you can get to a winning ending. (I would have liked to get it closer to finished before testing, but I really badly need a break from it!)

Honk! is set in a circus and carnival. It’s kid-friendly, although not aimed directly at kids. I don’t think there is any content that needs warning about, apart from maybe implied blood (only if you take an obviously wrong action), food, and clowns (but a very nice clown!). I’m writing for IFComp, so the game should take less than two hours to play through.

If anyone’s willing to take time out of ParserComp to play a much scrappier and less polished game, I would really appreciate the help! I’d like a transcript of your play session recorded if you can. Turnaround doesn’t have to be immediate - some time in the next few weeks would be ideal. I’ve got a hint menu in place if you get stuck - I’ll be happy if you avoid using it, but it’s there if the puzzles are too obtuse. I’ve used Inform’s Release for Testing option, so testing commands like PURLOIN will be available (and I’m also releasing with the source code if you really want to get into it).

Please let me know by private message if you’re interested, so I can PM you a link to the file! Thanks!


I think I have enough alpha testers for now. Thank you all so much! I will probably be looking for beta testers in late August for anyone who’s still interested.


A little update on this: I’m going to pull this game from IFComp 2022 and aim for Spring Thing 2023 or IFComp 2023 instead. This is for a happy reason: I am starting a new job at the end of August. This means that I won’t be able to work on Honk! much in September, and I’m still not ready for beta testing. Trying to rush this game was causing me stress that I don’t need. This feels like a shame because the bulk of the game is done, but there are just too many things that need rewriting and polishing and bug-fixing. I think delaying it is the right thing to do.

This frees me up to do a little beta-testing for other IFComp participants. So let me know if that’s you!


Congratulations on the new job. Sounds like a good plan to push the game back a bit - it’s better not to rush these things and there’s really no need with the number of competitions around these days. Spring Thing is a lovely one to enter, if you make it by then.


Hi all!

I’m still plugging away at Honk!. It’s going slowly (for good reasons! My job contract has been extended, so I have less time for IF than I expected, but also more money), but it is going. I’m now aiming for IFComp 2023 as an absolute “stop fiddling around and finish what you have” deadline.

The game is fundamentally content-complete at this point, and we’re between major contests, so I’d like to start beta-testing now. I’d especially like testers willing to hunt for bugs and for missing responses. I’m not looking to add extra puzzles or other game-changing content at this point, but feel free to suggest it if you feel something’s missing.

Details about the alpha-to-beta changes for alpha-testers

For alpha testers, here are the major changes made as a result of your feedback:

  • A new puzzle has been added to the endgame
  • The Magic Show puzzle has an extra step, and the previous steps have been tweaked to be less exacting
  • The Strength Show puzzle has an extra mini-puzzle to get a certain item
  • A couple of extra minor NPCs have been added
  • All the placeholder text has been filled in (apart from stuff which you’re not supposed to see unless there’s a bug)
  • Major NPCs have more idle behaviours, extra dialogue, and more context-sensitive conversation options (but there’s more I want to do here, especially with adding responses to asking x about y)
  • Better handling of certain complicated objects (especially the burger stand, the stepladder and the clown car)
  • Better scenery (especially the crowd, which now exists - there’s still more scenery I want to add, though)
  • Bug fixes and typo corrections

There are still a lot of bug fixes and typo-checks which need doing. If you were an alpha-tester who ends up beta-testing, and you notice that some of the issues you flagged haven’t been fixed, you’re not being ignored! Feel free to send me a message about it if you’re concerned or annoyed. I also need to rewrite the hints to be more fine-grained (they’re useless for certain puzzles right now), do some redrafting of certain parts (the epilogue needs work), and make some proper cover art… So much to do. But it’s very close to being publishable now.

As before, I don’t think there’s any content that’s especially likely to be triggering. The game is kid-friendly and swear-free. It’s been extended since the alpha, so I think it’s about two hours long now? It’s an Inform 9.3 .gblorb file, so you’ll need an interpreter to run it. (I’m not releasing with a website this time because I’ve done something bad to Inform’s Parchment interpreter and I haven’t sat down to troubleshoot it yet. Sorry if that’s a deal-breaker!)

I’d like to have beta-testing done by the start of June if possible. No rush, but I’d like to get my testing out of the way before too many ParserComp 2023 requests come in, so I don’t get lost in the rush. I’m happy to exchange testing if you’re working on something for ParserComp or IFComp, or another competition - I’m on a Windows machine so I can’t do anything Mac-exclusive or Linux-exclusive, but I’ll try anything else, parser-based or choice-based

Please let me know in this thread or via private message if you’d like to test! Also let me know if you want the full .zip file (with walkthrough and source text included) or just the .gblorb story file.