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Why do you write IF

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Why do you write IF

Postby Po. Prune » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:26 pm

David's comment in another thread about how many would play his planned game made me think.
"Why do we write games?"
Do we write becaue we want people to play them (of course we want people to play our games, but is that the essential reason?), or simply write IF because we enjoy thinking out the puzzles, creating something? Or maybe something totally different.
Something in the lines of the novelist who writes tons of stories but keep them all in the desk drawer.

Do I care if people play my games? Of course I do, but I truly enjoy sitting in the late hours when the house is quiet, a glass of whisky, or a cup of coffee next to me and just "taddle" away. it's a genious way to relax.
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Re: Why do you write IF

Postby Lumin » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:52 pm

If no one read anything I wrote I wouldn't write at all. Tinkering around with creating a puzzle can be like solving a puzzle itself, but it's not enough to sustain interest over a long term project. As for writing itself, I can picture the scenes and write out an outline and once it all clicks together that's great, it's a satisfying experience in some ways comparable to watching a movie for me, and then I can move on without ever even starting the story at all; it's already complete and perfect in my head and actually writing it would not only be tedious but also possibly damage the story if I wasn't skilled enough to pull it off as envisioned.

Writing for me is either entirely about receiving feedback to help me know what works or what doesn't and what can be improved, or at least that sense of connection in knowing that a scene or character that means a lot to me had some kind of effect on somebody else.
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Re: Why do you write IF

Postby David Whyld » Fri Jan 12, 2018 10:06 pm

Why do I write IF? Well… it’s complicated.

The main reason I gave up writing games with ADRIFT all those years ago was because hardly anyone was using it or seemed to be playing the games written with it. The few games that came out got next to no feedback, reviews or even discussions about them, and there's nothing more depressing than writing games, releasing them for free and having everyone ignore you. I also wasn’t happy with the way ADRIFT itself was going with Campbell abandoning v4 in favour of v5, despite the fact that v5 wasn’t appealing to many people and v4 still had a far larger user base and a huge back catalogue of games which didn’t even work that well with the v5 Runner. So I decided enough was enough and I was off to greener pastures.

I tried Inform 7 and liked it initially. It’s a pretty amazing system all things considered, and the basics are easy enough to grasp that even non-programmers like me can figure them out. Unfortunately, it gets much more complicated when you're getting around to the, well, complicated stuff and the natural language side of things only holds up for so long. And even when you understand the system and what you need to do, it’s so slow getting things done with it. A single typo – and I make plenty – can really throw a spanner in the works, as can something as minor as failing to properly indent the text by the correct amount. So… long story short… I decided Inform 7 wasn’t for me.

Which left… not much really. I still wanted to write games but the tools available to me weren’t that appealing. Quest was a possibility, but I’d never really warmed to it in the past the way I did with ADRIFT and while it might have seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years, it’s still got a damn awful reputation and 99% of the games written with it are absolute tripe. There are actually some decent Quest games out there, but you'd have to wade through an almighty ocean of trash to find them. And then Alex Warren took the dump to end all dumps on his forum, and that firmly killed any interest I had in Quest.

Other than that… TADS, Alan, Hugo… all programming languages. Twine is great for CYOA games but not so much IF, which is really what I wanted to write. So… back to ADRIFT.

Which brings me back to the point I was trying to make before I started rambling about lots of other stuff: why do we write IF?

Mainly I write IF because I want to write it. I’d love to be able to make a living out of it – quitting my boring day-to-day office job and writing games for a living would be an actual dream come true – but that’s never likely to be a reality. The feedback is also great. Being told by people that you’ve written something they like is amazing. But ultimately, I just like writing the damn things.

The lack of a target audience here is frustrating, of course, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a problem, but then I remember all the silly little text adventures I wrote back in the 80’s on my Spectrum and Commodore computers. The target audience for them was basically my brother, who didn’t even like text adventures much, and a few friends, who preferred graphical games where you got to shoot people and watch their bodies explode in glorious 8 bit. I'm sure I even wrote games that no one aside from myself ever played, but you know what? I never felt like the effort it took to write them was wasted because I enjoyed writing them and I really regret that I don’t have them any longer. (Alas, the world will never get to see the many adventures of Joshua ‘The Bodger’ Jones, Hiras D’Alour, Sophie Sophire and the rest. A tragedy and no mistake.)
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Re: Why do you write IF

Postby David Whyld » Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:52 am

Well, that topic died a very sudden death. Has no one else got anything to say about why they write IF?
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Re: Why do you write IF

Postby rotter » Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:43 pm

Like David I write IF because I like writing IF. This goes way back to the ZX Spectrum days when I used The Quill. If I was lucky I could get some of the family and my friends to play - sometimes. But does it matter whether others play? Yes it does. No-one over here seems to play IF at all, never mind ADRIFT games. So, what is the point in releasing an ADRIFT game when nobody will play it? It is the main reason I dropped out of the ADRIFT scene and when over to the dark side (Inform).

I still love ADRIFT, it is so easy to work with and quick. I did get an I7 game finished for the recent IFComp but it took years to completed. I still play IF and I'm working my way through the IFComp entries but remember Drifters - if you will not play my games, then why should I play yours?
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Re: Why do you write IF

Postby Denk » Mon Jan 15, 2018 5:30 pm

I both like playing and writing IF. When writing IF, I especially like the challenge of implementing something "difficult" (though a programmer might find it easy to do), such as elevators, terminals or complex puzzles.

I agree it does matter that some people play the game, though just a little feedback can be sufficient to make it worthwhile.
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Re: Why do you write IF

Postby Lazzah » Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:02 am

As with most other authors, I write IF because I like writing IF - it is the nearest I will ever come to writing a book. More correctly, I am re-writing all the games I originally wrote for the Spectrum, adding much more to them than would've been possible using PAW on a 128k Sinclair Spectrum. I have some ideas for a new game in the Alaric Blackmoon world, but that will have to wait.

I will probably continue to write games using ADRIFT5 as it is far easier to use than Inform7 - I have no wish to learn programming at my advanced age, even if I7 is used by far more people. It really saddens me that ADRIFT has reached the state that it has, for whatever reasons.

The first game I wrote using ADRIFT5, The Fortress of Fear, has been downloaded over 900 times, but I have only received feedback from a handful of players. That initially shocked me, remembering the number of players who contacted me for help in the Speccie days, but it dawned on me that as the games were available for free, a player might start the game, get stuck and discard it, moving on to another free game.
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Re: Why do you write IF

Postby David Whyld » Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:52 am

Lack of feedback has always been a big issue here. Even at the height of ADRIFT’s popularity back in the v4 days, you'd be lucky to get many reviews or discussions about games and quite a few never got any kind of feedback at all. The Reviews Exchange ran for a few issues but then died due to lack of people willing to review games, and there were a lot more people around back then, not to mention a heck of a lot more games being written. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot that can be done about it. People can’t be made to provide feedback and if you start insisting on it, you'll only end up discouraging people further.

One obvious problem I see is that there's a real disconnect between the forum and the main site. New reviews show up there very rarely, but when they do there's no corresponding review on the forum. Nothing, in fact, to indicate that a new review has been posted at all. Sure, people can check the main site as easily as they can the forum, but I'm guessing most people check here a lot more regularly than they do there. I check the forum at least once a day, but I sometimes go for weeks at a time without checking the main site and half the time if a new review is posted I don't even notice. Could there be a thread stickied to the forum to alert people to reviews over there? Could people who write reviews on the main site also post them here? You can reply to reviews that are written on the main site but it’s hardly the place to have a decent discussion about games.

Also, something I only just noticed, is that the game reviews section of the forum is no longer there. When did that happen? It’s now been lumped in with “game discussions” which looks to be more announcements for games or requests for beta-testing than actual game discussion, and the last reviews posted there are two mini-reviews by Lumin back in May 2015. Almost three years ago! It doesn't exactly encourage people to post reviews here if we don't have a dedicated section of the forum for them.

Can we also have a stickied thread on the forum listing new games uploaded to the main site, complete with links to said games?

None of the above may make a whole lot of difference in the long run – as I said above, even when the ADRIFT scene was a lot more active than it is today, feedback for games was always an issue – but it can’t hurt and if it encourages any kind of feedback at all, it’s worth it for that alone.
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