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Crazy idea?

Postby Denk » Wed Jul 08, 2020 12:26 pm

I know many are working on their IFcomp entry, so I might bump this thread after the comp, but here is my idea anyway:

I was thinking that it would be great to have a big epic ADRIFT-game on Steam. Steam is the place where most PC gamers get their games. Steam has 90 million active users and 60% use Windows 10. Sales are known to go significantly up when indie-developers put their games on Steam compared to selling their game on other platforms. The same is the case with the number of downloads if the game is for free.

I know 2d point-and-click adventures are not comparable 1 to 1 but the free game “Heroine's Quest” which was made with Adventure Game Studio (AGS first released in 1997) has more than 500.000 downloads on steam but “only” 38000 on the AGS website where people normally download those games. So more than 10 times more than their normal website.

I am sure a significant fraction of the 90 million active users might have played text adventures when they were younger, but they might be unaware of the thriving IF community. So when they see a “modern” text adventure on Steam they might get curious and buy/try it and get hooked. By modern I mean a bit of graphics and music and then there is the auto-map, which many IF gamers outside the ADRIFT community have praised. If a lot of Steam users began to play ADRIFT games it would be good for ADRIFT.

So I was thinking that maybe the ADRIFT community (those interested) could work together on a game. I wouldn't mind if I e.g. only beta-tested the game or if I had made significant parts of the game, as long as the game succeeds. What is important is that it is a quality game with significant testing and bugfixing. As an example I think both The0didactus's Skybreak! and most of Lazzah's larger games have commercial quality apart from a few bugs and perhaps the layout could be improved a bit. A game like Skybreak! is very different from e.g. Lazzah's more traditional games, but if those interested cannot agree on the type of game, we could make two games ;-)

I don't know what is best, whether it should be a free game or if it should cost a few dollars. If it costs something, Steam might promote it more, since they get about 30% of the sales.

Some things I think is important (probably more to come):
1. It shouldn't be part of a series, since players would prefer to play “chapter 1” first
2. No Copyright issues
3. It should have a decent cover art
4. Nice music (e.g. Eric Matyas has made over 2000 tracks for free)
5. Significant testing and bugfixing, lazy coding should be avoided
6. The game is released as an .exe-file and not a taf or blorb.
7. Those interested should agree early on attribution and earnings
8. Everyone who contributed should be mentioned in the game, if nothing else then as a beta-tester.

I personally don't care about who gets the money and it probably won't be much anyway. I am mainly thinking about promoting ADRIFT significantly.

Would anyone be interested in collaborating on a game like this?

Any thoughts? :anyone:

PS: A teaser picture like below could perhaps get older text adventure players interested (you probably need to click on the picture to see the whole picture):
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Re: Crazy idea?

Postby P/o Prune » Wed Jul 08, 2020 2:08 pm

This sounds like an interesting Idea. IF I can be of any help / use, count me in. :yeah:
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Re: Crazy idea?

Postby David Whyld » Wed Jul 08, 2020 2:49 pm

I've always liked the idea of this kind of thing – a return to the commercial days of IF – but it’s been discussed before quite a few times and never went anywhere.

Years ago here, we had the Pass the Taf community project. Someone would work on a game file, write a few rooms, add a few NPCs and objects, a few tasks here and there, then email it to the next person on the list, who would add their own contribution before emailing it to the next person, and so on. Unfortunately it never went anywhere. One person was slow on getting their part done, someone else dropped out, someone complained the whole thing was too confusing, and before you knew it the whole thing had been abandoned.

A few years later, I was involved in another project, which was clearly not very memorable as I can’t even recall its name. A group of us decided we’d get together and write a big commercial game. We started out with high hopes, and planned things, and discussed stuff, and planned some more, and discussed some more, and after about two months of this someone pointed out the fact that we weren’t actually doing anything. Just planning, discussing, but no game writing. We didn’t have a name for the game, or even a setting, or any idea how we’d go about selling the thing if we did actually succeed in writing it. At this rate, we'd all be ancient before we got anything done. This led to a few heated arguments before someone announced they'd take charge and ensure things stayed on course, which led to more arguments about why this person should be in charge. And before you knew it, people were dropping out and the whole thing, again, was abandoned.

So… while I’d love to see something like this go ahead, I can’t help but wonder if it would just fail like the other projects did. Bear in mind, they both failed at a time when the ADRIFT community was a lot more active than it is now with 50+ games a year coming out, so if it couldn’t succeed back then I don’t know why it would now. Saying that, they also failed at a time before Steam so at least the problem of selling any game that was written would be solved. Time permitting, I’d like to be part of such a project. If it fails, so be it. But if it succeeds…
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Re: Crazy idea?

Postby Denk » Wed Jul 08, 2020 4:11 pm

Great to hear that you are both interested! :D

David, it was interesting to hear about those abandoned projects. Perhaps we can learn from those so this idea doesn't get abandoned..

A "pass the taf"-project could probably be fun but I doubt the resulting game would be very good.

I think that we should expect that a few people do most of the work and the rest of us contribute as much as we can. E.g. someone might do the main writing, somebody else the main "coding". It may even be the same person doing those two things. It doesn't have to be that way, but I think it could end up like that.

The other "nameless" project you described sounded more promising. But it also sounded like people were too impatient. Two months planning may seem like a lot but it may pay off in the long term. I guess we should expect it to take at least a couple of years to finish a big polished game if we manage to colaborate. To compare, Heroine's Quest took 4 years but it also included animations and voice acting.

Regarding "somebody being in charge" might be positive(?), but if it means that someone is playing boss and is kind of deciding who does what I also think it is doomed to fail. I believe more in that people say what they would like to contribute with, though this is of course slower than e.g. a project in a real firm.

And then I think we all need an open mind, to make this happen.

To avoid people abandoning the project, I guess at least the following points are valid:

* Expect the project to take long
* Expect a planning phase
* Only contribute with what you feel like
* Accept if a few people are doing most of the work
* Keep an open mind

Just to give some hypothetical examples of how different projects we could make:

1. Imagine we had this idea when Lazzah started on Axe of Kolt and Lazzah was interested. It was the first Alaric-game so it wasn't really part of a series. I wouldn't mind Lazzah doing most of the work, then the rest of us should test thoroughly and provide feedback, cover art, music and if needed also help with programming issues. Personally, I would have focused on that the game must never become unwinnable. It was common in older games and when I played Axe of Kolt it could become unwinnable if you did things in the wrong order, so I would have tried to propose design changes to avoid that.

2. Imagine that everyone liked the fundamental idea behind my WIP "Revealia". It is a non-random IF RPG but I am lacking ideas for side quests, so that the PC will have enough money to solve the main quest. So here, everyone would be contributing with ideas. We should then agree on which ideas to implement. I would probably have to do most of the coding, since I have already implemented a rather complex conversation system.

These are just examples to demonstrate that it shouldn't be important who's idea we go with and who has the most work, as long as we listen to and respect each others opinions. If we get a lot of work we get a lot of impact on the game. If we do less, we have less impact but have time for other stuff :-)
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Re: Crazy idea?

Postby David Whyld » Wed Jul 08, 2020 7:02 pm

Denk wrote:A "pass the taf"-project could probably be fun but I doubt the resulting game would be very good.


To be fair, I don’t think any ever expected it to produce a ground-breaking masterpiece. It was just for fun to see if a community project could work. Unfortunately, the game died a quick death. It was lack of organisation that ultimately killed it off more than anything.

When I got the taf, the person who emailed it to me hadn’t included a note to say what they'd added, so I wasn’t sure what Iwas meant to be adding. (Instructions for what each person added was pretty vague.) When I emailed it on, the next person emailed me several times querying other parts of the game that I hadn’t worked on so I couldn’t tell them anything about it. The next person went on holiday when it was their turn but didn’t think to let anyone know, so the taf languished on his computer for a while and…

Well, it was a mess basically. A properly organised project like this might work at a pinch, but you'd still have the issue of different writing styles clashing. Someone would ultimately have to go through it and rewrite large parts to get a consistent writing style throughout.

Denk wrote:The other "nameless" project you described sounded more promising. But it also sounded like people were too impatient. Two months planning may seem like a lot but it may pay off in the long term. I guess we should expect it to take at least a couple of years to finish a big polished game if we manage to colaborate. To compare, Heroine's Quest took 4 years but it also included animations and voice acting.


I don’t think anyone really expected it to be done quickly. I’d had the idea of maybe a year from start to finish and that was probably being optimistic, but the main problem was that after two months, literally nothing had been done. Looking back on all the forum posts afterwards, two months of discussion came down to a big fat zero. The way things were going, it would have been years before we even came up with a title. As for a setting? Ask me in ten years.

Denk wrote:Regarding "somebody being in charge" might be positive(?), but if it means that someone is playing boss and is kind of deciding who does what I also think it is doomed to fail. I believe more in that people say what they would like to contribute with, though this is of course slower than e.g. a project in a real firm.


Agreed, but I still think there needs to be someone who is ‘kind of’ in charge. So if the project stalls and is going nowhere, they can make decisions and get things moving again.
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Re: Crazy idea?

Postby Lumin » Thu Jul 09, 2020 9:03 am

In my experience co authoring tends make every project take an exponentially longer time to complete, with everyone ultimately bring unhappy with the compromises in the finished product even if you do manage to see it through. The level of communication and organization required really needs dedicated people who know each other well or who have worked on (and completed!) a major project with others in the past in order to be at all feasible.

CYOA style games do pretty well on Steam, and IF is marketable to a lesser degree (I own the Steam copy of Anchorhead) but the issue I think is with Adrift itself. It's impossible to change it visually to something that doesn't look dated and kind of ugly. The author just doesn't have control over their game's appearance even at the level that basic support for HTML would allow.

That's my thoughts on Steam, anyway. A platform like itch.io has users with a much higher tolerance for jank, and even a small game, maybe free but with the 'suggested donation' of a buck or two might be a good experiment. (Although the usual Windows-only requirement would be handicap...)
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Re: Crazy idea?

Postby David Whyld » Thu Jul 09, 2020 9:48 am

Well, you'll get no argument from me about the look of the ADRIFT Runner. It's ugly and dated and a long way behind the way Inform or Tads look. Unfortunately, that's something that's largely out of our control. Sure, we can add fancy font styles and play around with font sizes, and these can go a long way towards making it look better but there's only so much we can do. And there's nothing we can do about the default look. People new to ADRIFT are still going to open it up for the first time and see how ugly it is, which isn't ideal when you're trying to sell a game. Short of some massive improvements to the Runner (which isn't very likely), this is what we're stuck with.

One of the big hopes I had for v5 was that Campbell would finally turn the Runner into something that looked good. Instead, he seems to have made it worse. Gone are the handy shortcuts I found so useful, gone is edit mode and the map is largely useless as it displays exits incorrectly. As he's largely abandoned ADRIFT, I'm not hopeful any of this will ever be fixed.
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Re: Crazy idea?

Postby Lumin » Thu Jul 09, 2020 2:07 pm

It actually just makes me die a little sometimes looking at what's somehow considered good enough writing to sell--especially on mobile--when I know so many people who do it a thousand times better but just lack access to a way to package it and get it out there.
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Re: Crazy idea?

Postby Denk » Thu Jul 09, 2020 2:11 pm

Some people like the Adrift Runner, some don't. Anyway, it is what we have. We could aim at more than one sales platform. Steam is no doubt the platform with the most users. It also has much fewer games than e.g. Itch.io so your game has less competition on Steam. I should mention that you have to pay about 100$ to get on Steam but I wouldn't mind paying that if I think we have a very good game. But we might as well publish it on more than one sales platform. I just regard Steam as the most important one. BTW, saw this interesting video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kllLctelysU

I suppose we could publish it on most or all of the mentioned sales platforms. Many of them are free except for royalties. However, I think the game should have the same price on all platforms. I have had the Inform version of The Dragon Diamond on itch.io for about 2 years. There were only 1 download and 13 online plays. In comparison, on textadventures.co.uk it has 558 downloads and 820 online plays. I haven't done much to promote it on itch.io though.

So far, only three persons (P/o Prune, David and I) have expressed that they would like to contribute. Unless more people show interest, the game ideas must come from us three. If we don't have any ideas for a game at the moment, we might as well put this thread on hold very soon, but it could be revived later if we come up with some ideas.

I don't have a lot of ideas, but I love to hear if any of you have?

My only "idea" at the moment is Revealia ( http://forum.adrift.co/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=12031 ) but I understand if this not your cup of tea. We should find an idea everyone is motivated about.
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Re: Crazy idea?

Postby David Whyld » Thu Jul 09, 2020 5:24 pm

I'm happy to contribute - testing, proofreading, general suggestions - but don't rely on me too much. Most of my game ideas never make it past the initial "isn't this a great idea for a game?" stage and the rest are probably better off forgotten. I'm actually quite chuffed with myself for finishing a game for the IFComp which will make a whopping three full size games I've written over the last ten years.
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Re: Crazy idea?

Postby Lumin » Thu Jul 09, 2020 8:26 pm

Denk wrote:I have had the Inform version of The Dragon Diamond on itch.io for about 2 years. There were only 1 download and 13 online plays.



Image

Noted. Denk will not be put in charge of marketing.

(Although this gets a point at least for not making me physically recoil, so it's still ahead of many of the other games with 'dragon' in the title...)
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Re: Crazy idea?

Postby Denk » Thu Jul 09, 2020 9:44 pm

Lumin wrote:Noted. Denk will not be put in charge of marketing

LOL rofl

I don't know why it looks like that. On my phone:
(click on the picture)
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Re: Crazy idea?

Postby Lazzah » Fri Jul 10, 2020 11:20 am

I would be interested in participating. 8)
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Re: Crazy idea?

Postby Denk » Fri Jul 10, 2020 11:50 am

Lazzah wrote:I would be interested in participating. 8)
Great! :yeah:

Do you happen to have an idea for a game already?

Not that we are in a hurry. I guess we all are focused on the IFcomp deadline 28 of September right now, but we may still work on this in parallel.
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Re: Crazy idea?

Postby ralphmerridew » Fri Jul 10, 2020 11:28 pm

The various "IF Whispers" games worked sort of like the "pass-the-taf" setup (game was written as a series of segments; each author saw only the segment before his/her own) and were moderately successful.
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