Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Interactive Fiction: Forgotten Tavern

It's another game!


Discerning critics have described it as "An odd experience. A sort of mash-up of IF, a dungeon grinder, a world-building strategy game, a roguelike game and one of those games you play on your phone where you have to make burgers or hotdogs to order.

Sort of." You should give it a try!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Public or Private Development?

As a connoisseur of internet outrage, I was riveted by the momentary disturbance around Jack Conte and the discussion of his band’s 2014 tour profits. The initial surge of support, from people who felt sympathy for struggling artists, was followed by a barrage of criticism; some people thought it was a sneaky marketing ploy to hype his company, Patreon. Putting aside the drama of whether Conte can describe himself as a struggling musician, Patreon itself is an interesting look at the changing dynamics of building an audience.

Artistic pursuits — whether they involve playing in a band, writing a story, or creating a work of Interactive Fiction — are more fulfilling when they are done for an audience. At start of an ambitious project, it’s always worth asking “does anybody else want me to do this?” And in an ideal world, people who want you to do it will also pay you for it. (In a cartoon world created by Matt Groening, people sing about how you’ve got to do what you love even if it’s not a good idea.)

Crowdfunding has been a useful way to gauge audience support. Creators — when they know what they’re doing and haven’t set out to scam people — can raise money and use it to bring their ideas into the world. Crowdfunding has also seen its share of public embarrassments. Takedown: Red Sabre was funded through Kickstarter and later panned as “unfinished and broken, with playability problems everywhere you look.”

Conte’s platform offers an option that lies between collecting the money up front and hoping that people will pay you for your work at the end. It’s a way for creators to collaborate with their audiences, and when it works well, it allows them to spend more time on the parts that resonate with their fans. Ongoing feedback helps them recognize whether artistic changes are taking their work in the right direction.

The dark side of Patreon is its potential for scope creep. Developers can promise too much, forcing them to make some difficult choices. They might have to do more things in less detail to deliver all the promised features, or they may need to cut back on their original design to deliver higher quality work. These choices become more difficult when they’re made in front of an audience that has become financially and emotionally invested in the outcome.

This leaves aspiring creators with the choice to develop their work in public, in private, or something in between. Each approach has seen high-profile failures, and each one has seen unconventional successes that would not otherwise have been possible. It keeps things interesting.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Interactive Fiction: Pushing Loyal People

It's a game!

And it's a game that you can actually win, but some people don't seem to have what it takes.

Maybe it's their loss? It might also be poor design choices.