What goes on IFDB?

Apologies if this is in the wrong section, but it’s just a question that I’ve been mulling over. Some of my works have been added to the database, usually in relation to gamejams where other people manually populate all of the event games (thank you very much to those folks, also!) but some of the work I consider interactive fiction may clash a bit with what I’ve felt is a more traditionalist perspective on what constitutes IF over there.

Actually, most of my work. Out of 11 projects, arguably all of which I’d consider IF, I think 2 are recorded, maybe 3 since I believe Autumn mentioned wanting to archive the Goncharov games. But I don’t know if it’s appropriate for me to add them myself?

For example- VESPERTINE will be up there as IF, but I’ve also made games with Bitsy that are also interactive poems, but that may not really count as IF to some people due to the graphical component from the Bitsy engine. I also have a small visual novel I’ve made, which is on the visual novel database but not IFDB, and I don’t know if it would be IF-like enough to post.

The definition on IF on the forums is generally quite open, and I like the one that goes “IF is a game where it wouldn’t be the same if you removed all of the extra frills like graphics or music” but they seem a bit more serious on the database, and I don’t want to tread on any one’s toes!


I’ve added all my games myself. Even the more stupid ones (I think I added my Goncharov entry the day it came out). If you feel it is IF, I’d say go for it?
(Can’t really answer your other question, since I’ve only used Twine for Choice-based games)


I don’t think I’ve ever seen a visual novel on IFDB so I would personally omit that one. Otherwise, we get into the slippery slope of “what is IF”? And one can define it so that DOOM would belong on IFDB, if one were so inclined.

Disco Elysium has an entry. I wouldn’t worry too much about putting your games up.

There are 47 games with the visual novel tag.


I love your Goncharov game, for what it’s worth. You also write him so hilariously in the TTRPG we’ve been playing. I want that man so badly, LOL.


47 glaring mistakes.

thank u thank u <3
It was fun to implement QTE. I don’t think it’s used a lot in IF (have only seen it once?)


I’m not part of the IFDB committee, but I think it’s appropriate to apply the same broad definition to its listings as we do here; it’s all part of the IFTF ecosystem, after all. I think that’s especially the case where an author has written stuff that’s indisputably IF; as IFDB functions as, well, a database, it’s often nice to be able to get a comprehensive view of an author’s work, even if some of it might be more or less close to “core IF” (whatever that is).

Like, Heaven’s Vault is pretty clearly a graphic adventure game, but it’s got an IFDB page and you can see why since it’s part of the Inkle ecosystem that started out with IF author Jon Ingold doing some gamebook adaptations, and has generated the Ink language which is often used for text-only games. Trying to rely on different users’ ad-hoc definitions of which Inkle games are or are not worthy of inclusion seems to me like a worse approach since it undermines IFDB’s ability to serve as a “comprehensive catalog” (which for what it’s worth comes first on the list of the site’s three goals/functions)


I think the stuff that’s not on IFDB is more about what people have happened to add rather than any particular rules about what “belongs” there? There are a lot of interactive narrative communities that have their own places to share things, so they don’t show up much.

See also IFDB’s Guidelines for New Game Listings… “games with a graphical component are allowed as long as they have a significant text component.”


As an IFDB moderator, Josh is right, games with significant text components are the main use-case of IFDB.

Technically, visual novels apply. However, there are far more visual novels than everything on IFDB put together; adding every visual novel would overwhelm the database. As an example, a few years ago, someone added a script that put literally every game from textadventures.co.uk onto IFDB, including ones that were just little test demos. No one played them, and it flooded the database with games (may be misremembering here, that’s just my impression).

So it’s fine to put up visual novels and bitsy games, but I would only put up your own or ones you think others in the community will play and appreciate. I don’t like disco elysium and heaven’s vault being on there from a standards point of view (even though I added heaven’s vault myself), but they have enough narrative content and are interesting enough to the community that I think their inclusion is warranted. I definitely don’t think Inkle’s game Pendragon belongs on there, and would move to delete it if it were.

Edit: There is a visual novel database, and it is several times larger than IFDB!



Thanks so much to everyone weighing in- especially from an IFDB moderator! The feedback’s really appreciated.

I usually wind up dithering quite a lot over if my work fits into IF in general, (joining SpringThing initially was something that haunted me for quite a bit after the e-mail submission of intent, I had to have friends around me talk me into joining it and in the end I’m very glad I did, the community was super welcoming and friendly- but boy it was scary!) so I’ll probably personally refrain from adding additional postings, but if one of the friends I’ve dragged kicking and screaming onto the forums has questions, it’ll be good to have this thread to point them towards in addition to the guidelines on IFDB’s site. Cheers!


We had a Visual Novel in Spring Thing 2018, and I reviewed it!

A lot of the community dabble in other genres, so it would be significant if say Emily Short made a VN it would totally be on IFDB because people would want to know about it as an inclusion into a body of IF work.

Similarly - Sam Barlow is the creator of the classic Aisle and has two FMV games that are IF adjacent - Her Story and the recent Immortality. Though neither explicitly use text they are “database search” games similar to Excalibur and likely would be of interest to IF fans. Neither of those have been listed on IFDB though.


@mathbrush Any thoughts about whether the original Oregon Trail should go on IFDB? I’d been wondering because Aaron Reed began 50 Years of Text Games with it: (1971: The Oregon Trail - by Aaron A. Reed)


I was going to say that Oregon Trail relies heavily on graphics so wouldn’t be a good choice, but then I read the linked article where it shows the text-only output of the original. It looks like the original one would fit in pretty well, IMO. I can’t speak for everyone involved with IFDB (including yourself), but that’s my vote.


(Nervously shifts and eyes my project list, because I was actually considering making a DOOM-themed IF game)


There’s precedent for such works being listed on IFDB.

Off-topic aside on the content

(If you want to play it: web play and modern interpreters tend to use variable-width fonts, so to see the opening graphic correctly you’ll have to manually select a fixed-width font.)


I mean there’s an awesome Doom roguelike, I don’t see why Doom can’t work!


ahahaha it’s called “FooM”!! ahahahahahahahaha!!!

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No! Please don’t. Oregon Trail is a simulation. If you start adding simulations, then you set a precedent where you have to add all simulations, then all RPGs, then all goodness knows what. Aaron Reed’s book is on text-based games, not text adventures or interactive fiction.


See, I don’t agree with that at all. IFDB includes some visual novels but not all. It includes Wumpus and Hammurabi but not Super Star Trek. I think that’s healthy.

This thread indicates that people apply a lot of criteria when thinking about IFDB. The most obvious ones are about form (the parser model, originally) but almost as important whether the game was made or released or played within the scope of the IF community. As noted, games by People We Know get special consideration. That’s reasonable! Non-text ports and adaptations of classic parser games are another special case.

Historical text games are too. Wumpus, Hammurabi, and Oregon Trail come from an era before “interactive fiction” was a category. They inform the history of early IF. We can include them without ruling in every modern derivative of the “simulation game” idea.