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Why do you write IF

Postby P/o 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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Re: Why do you write IF

Postby P/o Prune » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:23 am

My interest in IF goes all the way back to the 80's when I got my first computer, a 48K Spectrum and I think I've mentioned it a million times before but after having played "The Hobbit" I was hooked on IF and wanted to give it a go.
So like Lazzah, I would say that I write IF because I enjoy writing. I'm sure that someone out there plays my games and I would lying through my teeth if I said that I didn't wanted feedback. But it's not my major thing.

I believe that one of the reasons why there's such a lack of feedback on games here, is that the forum is mainly made for writers and not gamers. The issue about reviews has been up now and again ever since Adrift was first released. I think that we're all ... or most of us, more focused on our writing than we are on playing games. I will admit that I, for one, haven't been too good at writing reviews. I keep promising myself that I'll get around to it and then something else comes up.
I don't know if there is a forum somewhere where players can go and exchange reviews (I've never found it)

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.


That's not a bad idea. Maybe the forum needs a makeover?
I could open a new thread titled: "How should the forum look" or something to that effect. The only question is, how many would participate? Like David said about this thread:
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 David Whyld » Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:13 pm

I think one of the problems with the forum right now is that there are too many sub-forums for the amount of users we have. It looks emptier than ever as a result. Cutting out the least used sub-forums might help with that.

I see “News and Announcements” last had a new post in April 2017. Almost a year ago. And a good deal of the stickied posts there are from years ago which gives the impression nothing much is happening.

Is there a need for “Video Tutorials”? It’s been there for nearly two years now and have eight threads in it.

Do we need a separate “Competitions” sub-forum?

The “Adult IF” sub-forum hasn’t been used since 30th June 2017 and only had three threads for the whole of last year. Either no one is writing AIF games with ADRIFT these days or no one is talking about it, but it seems a bit unnecessary to have a forum for it.

So maybe a revamp of the forum is called for. If nothing else, it would give the impression something is happening in the ADRIFT world. I’d propose keeping the forum layout pretty basic with just:

> ADRIFT Discussion (to include both ADRIFT v4 and v5).
> General IF Discussion (anything not specifically related to ADRIFT).
> Game Reviews and Announcements (which could include a stickied list of new games, perhaps emphasising games which have yet to be reviewed, and a stickied list of recent reviews. Also, anyone bringing out a new game could announce it here).
> Off Topic.

Considering the sluggish state of the forum this last decade or so, it'll probably be a struggle to make even four sub-forums appear active, but it'll be easier than it is now and we won’t have quite so many empty or unused sub-forums.
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Re: Why do you write IF

Postby Lumin » Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:38 pm

e: should have read David's post more closely. The four sub forum suggestions he put up are perfectly fine. Not sure we really need separate boards for game writing help, a question can be posted in General just as easily and we're not exactly being overwhelmed by them these days.

David Whyld wrote:I think one of the problems with the forum right now is that there are too many sub-forums for the amount of users we have. It looks emptier than ever as a result. Cutting out the least used sub-forums might help with that.


This is definitely an issue. I think at the moment we have more subforums than regular users. Not sure if Competitions even needs its own boards. Fold that into Game Discussion and then change the title to Game Reviews & Discussion and move it up to sit just under General and Off Topic to make it more visible IMHO.

Video tutorials could go, just dump whatever threads are there into v5 discussion or wherever they best fit. News and Announcements are hardly needed, a stickied thread in General would work just as well. That'd cut the forum down 50% in size and make us all a little less like tumbleweeds blowing around.


The main site I never check at all, my bookmarks go here to the forums and have for years. I guess I've always assumed if someone released a game or wrote a review, it would get a mention here. I barely play any IF at all at this point and I admit I'm terrible about giving feedback. Part of the reason is I'm equally terrible at actually finishing games and always hated to give a review based on only seeing a portion of it. Although I'm realizing now that even that much is better than nothing. I've also become really spoiled on finishing a game and then having a handy box right there to directly type feedback into.

Heck, makes me wonder if a 'Thanks for playing, now type here to send feedback to whatever email address the author plugged in' feature on a runner is within the realm of possibility, if seamless online play and a nice looking site to encourage it will remain beyond our reach. I guess Saabie would be the one to know.
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Re: Why do you write IF

Postby saabie » Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:40 am

Lumin wrote:Heck, makes me wonder if a 'Thanks for playing, now type here to send feedback to whatever email address the author plugged in' feature on a runner is within the realm of possibility
It's possible. The main problem is if anti-virus programs don't like it. The safest would probably be to provide a hyperlink that starts their browser and directs it to the appropriate internet address.
David Whyld wrote:The AIF sub-forum hasn’t been used since 30th June 2017 and only had three threads for the whole of last year. Either no one is writing AIF games with ADRIFT these days or no one is talking about it, but it seems a bit unnecessary to have a forum for it.
A separate forum is necessary because it is required to be only visible to certain age groups.
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Re: Why do you write IF

Postby David Whyld » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:52 am

saabie wrote:
David Whyld wrote:The AIF sub-forum hasn’t been used since 30th June 2017 and only had three threads for the whole of last year. Either no one is writing AIF games with ADRIFT these days or no one is talking about it, but it seems a bit unnecessary to have a forum for it.
A separate forum is necessary because it is required to be only visible to certain age groups.


Is there really any need for that, though? I mean, on one hand we don't want to be posting stuff that's inappropriate to young people, but on the other I'm pretty sure if someone is computer savvy enough to register on a forum, they also know how to type "hardcore porn" into Google. There's also nothing to stop some ten year old registering on the forum, claiming he's 21, and getting to access to the AIF section anyway.

My main point, though, was that if the AIF sub-forum is used as little as it is, do we actually need it at all? A sub-forum that's sitting there gathering dust isn't benefiting anyone. If we need to keep the posts, combine it into one of the other forums. People can always add the AIF tag to any new threads they make to warn of potentially offensive posts.
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Re: Why do you write IF

Postby P/o Prune » Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:00 pm

David Whyld wrote:[Is there really any need for that, though? I mean, on one hand we don't want to be posting stuff that's inappropriate to young people, but on the other I'm pretty sure if someone is computer savvy enough to register on a forum, they also know how to type "hardcore porn" into Google. There's also nothing to stop some ten year old registering on the forum, claiming he's 21, and getting to access to the AIF section anyway.

You're right David. Anyone can find porn of one kind or the other through google, youtube or whatever. But what consequences would it have for this forum if the authorities discovered that kids could get porn here?
Having said that, I must admit that I have no idea whatsoever if they can or will do anything.
I know having a separate section it's not enough to keep kids away. All they have to do is to lie about their age. But you can only do so much.
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Re: Why do you write IF

Postby David Whyld » Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:26 pm

There isn't any porn in the AIF forum now anyway and even if there was I doubt very much the authorities would care or do anything about it. It's not like people are going to be posting porn here in any event and if they did, it could be easily deleted and the users banned.
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