What if nobody cares about my project?

Hi, maybe I’m mentally not in the best place right now. If so I will delete this post probably.
I’m working on a small, very basic text adventure using kotlin. I finished the intro and send it to my closest friends asking for criticism and if they tend to like or dislike it. At first everyone said they would be interested but, I don’t think they care at all. One friend didn’t even finish the short intro. He criticised basically the first 10 paragraphs and praised only the options for naming the character. Another friends response was even more depressing. He couldn’t work with the setting and medium at all and he hat nothing positive to say. Two other friends said that they would be interested but didn’t responded since. I know it can be hard sometimes. I know I should approach criticism neutrally and open. But… I have not much to work with. And I fear that nobody cares for my text adventure or the setting it’s playing in. How can I tell my work isn’t pure garbage?

Edit:
Thank you really much guys for your support. I mean it. I already feel a lot better about it. It’s a niche game and my friends had very little experience with text adventures. I agree that this is probably the main reason. My game is in german, so there is probably a little language barrier in this forum.

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Hi Hedwyn, welcome to the forums! Trust us when we say we’re all happy to have you here.

Most people don’t have any interest in text adventures. As you can tell, this is a small community, but the people in it are active and supportive, especially to first-time authors.

People say to be open about criticism, but the reality is that we are emotional creatures. Having your first text adventure be criticized by multiple people is probably really demotivating, but know that they’re not the right audience for it. The right audience is the people who are actually interested in text adventures. If you gave an FPS game to someone who only plays farming sims, they’ll call it a bad game because it’s too stressful and hard. If you gave a farming sim to an FPS player, they’ll call it boring and childish. Text adventures tend to be hard to get into, and not everyone enjoys them. That’s okay. We’re fine with that.

Your work isn’t pure garbage. Let me reiterate. Your game does not suck. The fact that you created a game is in itself an accomplishment. You put a lot of effort into your game. You made it. Be proud of it.

That being said, though, if you make a new post on the Project Announcements category advertising your game, you’ll probably get more visibility and feedback than sending it to your friends. Or, submit it to one of the many competitions that occur throughout the year.

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Firstly, welcome to el forum! :slight_smile:

Are the friends you asked familiar with the game genre you’re presenting to them? It sounds to me like they’re not familiar with interactive fiction. One thing I’ve learnt of the years is that interactive fiction is not for everyone. I’d suggest asking some IF regulars to play though and see what they think, including myself.

If you really want to see things from a different perspective, check out the Really Bad IF Game Jam where we made deliberately terrible games . :slight_smile:

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Maybe Beta Testing Requests and Discussion would probably get you more feedback than Project Announcements

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…did you just link to the same thread?

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Oh shoot :joy:
I clicked the wrong reply button and forgot to edit before posting.

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Hi Hedwyn, sorry you’ve been having a tough time with testing.

I think it can be hard for a first time writer to show work to people. I think some people don’t mind, or simply have more confidence, but I felt rather vulnerable. I was disappointed with myself sometimes, and wondered if I was going to make something good. I understand where you’re coming from.

I think the key is finding people who can understand (or are willing to try to understand) what your project is about. It sounds like maybe your friends aren’t a good fit for this? My IRL friends and family don’t play IF, not really. I would be frustrated if I were waiting on them for feedback on an IF game.

I’ve also learned that it’s good to be specific. Type of game, the interface, platform, play time, challenge level. Make a good, succinct list in your pitch. Say this is your first game.

I hope you don’t give up, it can take time to match up with the right folks, but it is well worth the effort.

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You might get a better response from the community of programmers here. We are all interested in IF and have experience with it. Your two friends may not have been the best choice for feedback.

(Incidentally, I had two of my friends beta test and ended up with pretty much the same result. So I hear your pain.)

I, too, am plagued by doubts about my game’s likeability. The only thing I can do is do the best designing job I can, the best coding job I can, and listen to the playtesters. In the end, it’s about the programming journey as much as it is the game itself.

I’ll be happy to test out your game if you like.

Thanks!

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I gave my first game to my sister to play. She made a few attempts to move around and examine things, and then went back to watching TV without comment.

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Oh, I got one :joy:

The first time my family was interested in any game I’ve made, it was my IFComp entry, but only the Arcade mode where you only mix the drinks. Any question about the story itself was just plainly ignored, followed by you should just make games like this (pointing at the Arcade mode screen, where there is even less text than the title page).

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I have one too! :smiley:

I once asked a friend to beta test my (our) IFComp entry several years ago. They couldn’t get to grips with the interface and really did not enjoy it. That game was Sub Rosa!

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We have quite a handful of German speakers here (we’re an international community)! But there is also a German-speaking forum here! (they also have German events if you’re interested!)

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I feel you, Hedwyn. Nobody in my real life will even LOOK at one of my games. Like, they won’t even try it. This is not because of anything about me-- it’s just that they don’t like parser IF. The line is always, 'Ugh, I hate those games. Why can’t you write something real?" I understand, because it’s a niche thing, but it still makes me sad.

Try getting some beta testers here. They’ll point out potential problems, but they’ll do it constructively, because all of us are in the same boat here and all of us wrote a first game once and needed others to help us with it.

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Thank you for starting this discussion, @Hedwyn! I believe it is an important topic, and one that sometimes authors don’t given enough attention to.

Text adventures are an incredible medium, where you can develop complex plots, captivating characters, clever puzzles and much more. They are also one of the most challenging — if not the most challenging — videogame genre to get into.
No or little graphics, zero animations, the mental work of building a representation of the game screen in your brain — this without even getting into the parser, a input mechanism that sometimes even experienced players fail to wrestle into submission.

Simply put, contemporary players have to do an extra effort to play our games. Add to this the plethora of offers on itch.io or Steam and you get why people who are not in the niche are not captivated by text-driven games.

I am not giving suggestions, just some random thoughts for me and maybe for others to think about:

  • there are ways to make the medium more accessible, generally in the input side. Examples are the extreme minimalism of Arthur DiBianca’s Trouble in Sector 471, or clever — but still simple! — mechanics like Pacian’s Weird City Interloper.
    But even in writing style, if we want to lure in a bigger audience, immediacy and directness are one to do that.
  • An excellent idea was suggested by @kamineko: “I’ve also learned that it’s good to be specific. Type of game, the interface, platform, play time, challenge level. Make a good, succinct list in your pitch. Say this is your first game.”
    Cuts the amount of time the player has to spend to decide whether a game is actually that something she is seeking, also sets appropriate expectations gameplay, setting, and time-wise.

Every bit of feedback is valuable. From the anedoctes collected in this thread we can get the executive summary: if your game doesn’t immediately challenge and draw the player in, he will get back to watch a series or play a roguelite.

Good luck in your game-making adventures!

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No, I did it twice. Once before beta testers, and then a complete rewrite before the second round.

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Thanks ^^

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Hi Hedwyn,

Welcome to IntFiction. No one in my small circle of family and friends gives a hoot about interactive fiction. My wife and daughter will occaisionally play and give feedback for my text adventures. But I know they do it more out of obligation than for any other reason.

Fortunately, this forum has a group of very nice and interested individuals that provide coding help and review assistance readily. Even with my sophomoric games, the feedback and criticism has been positive and constructive.

As with any complex and creative task, practice improves your craft. (I sure hope so in my case!)

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I wrote a game 19 years ago that was underbaked and copped fair criticism from reviewers. I left IF until last year where I wrote a game about fathers writing games for their daughters.

I showed my game to my then-five-year-old daughter, who had heard of my game and was excited to see it. The bit I showed her was primed for her to be able to enjoy with me, and I was at the keyboard so I could smooth the interaction. After about five minutes, she got angry. “Dad this isn’t a game… it’s just WORDS!”

Since then she’s become a great reader, and one day I might show her all the words again and see what she says.

This game did nicely at IF Comp and people who like these sorts of games (and even some who don’t) said nice things about it.

Sometimes the obvious choice for feedback is not the best. Find people who can help you with your art, especially those who understand the form.

Good luck!

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You used the term “text adventure”, so I assume you mean parser-based interactive fiction, but you also mentioned selecting the player character’s name, which is normally only used in choice-based interactive fiction. Which is it? I’m going to assume it’s the former.

Using Kotlin is an interesting choice, so it sounds like you’re writing something from scratch, including the parser. That’s pretty hard for a first project and would need lots more testing than if you were just using one of the normal authoring tools.

As everyone else has said, firstly ask for testers here in the ‘Beta testing’ category. Secondly, fix all the bugs that the testers find and address all their suggestions for improvement.

Thirdly, try this…

Do your friends play escape rooms? Throw an adventure party and get all your friends together to play as a group. Explain what you’re doing and tell them it’s like a virtual escape room that uses artificial intelligence to process text input and produce text output. Play an easy game (not yours) and teach them how to play. Tell them about exploration and how to draw a map. Tell them about examination and looking for clues, like a detective trying to solve a crime. Explain how to manipulate objects to solve puzzles, just like you would in an escape room. Ask for a volunteer to act as the official map maker and someone else to control the keyboard. You can swap roles part-way through so that everyone gets a turn at typing. Then play it as a group with everyone offering suggestions and you moderating to explain what you can and can’t do and why the game responded in a certain way.

Playing as a group is a lot of fun. If this works out well, when they’ve finished the first game, have a break with drinks and munchies, do a post mortem where everyone talks about their thought process, which puzzles were easy and hard and so on. Just like you would after playing an escape room.

Then play your game, but don’t tell them it’s your game, and run through the same process, but don’t help them out. Tell them it’s a brand new game and they are the testers, so you want them to express their thoughts along the way. Take notes on their reactions, the bad things and where they had difficulty, and have another post mortem at the end.

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Ouch!

I love Sub Rosa.


@Hedwyn:

Despite multiple efforts, none of my friends like IF, even those who like computer and/or tabletop RPGs. It really is quite the niche hobby.

I agree with the posters above that you’d be better off asking for opinions on your game here on the forum. It’ll still be criticised, but it will be from people who are sympathetic to IF and its creators, and who know the conventions and expectations of the medium.

I also want to say that writing IF is a hobby in itself, with or without the people playing it. There are people here who claim to like writing their games more than they do playing (heretics!). You’re creating characters and situations and worlds that were only in your head before. Enjoy the process and the tinkering!

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