Going commercial: The Killer App

0 views
Skip to first unread message

Harry

unread,
Jul 16, 2003, 7:35:44 AM7/16/03
to
Okay, lots of thoughts buzzing around on how to get IF back into the
commercial field. Now I think there is only one way to do it, and
Peter Nepstad has shown the way: the killer app.

What bothers be on the whole 'commercial IF' discussion is that what
people basically want to sell is the *interface* The text-based
interface in itself is, IMHO, the big weakness that has to be overcome
if we want IF back in the mainstream. And by that I don't mean: dumb
it down. I mean: the only way people are going to play IF again is if
the game of itself is so good, they are willing to overcome the
obstacle of a text-based game and interface.

Peter Nepstad's 1893: AWFM's main selling point isn't the fact that it
is IF. It is the meticulous attention to historical detail and the
possibility to explore this wondrous fair. IF is just *a means to do
that*.

So the selling point should be: 'experience this wonderful story', or:
'crack these fiendish puzzles', or 'go where no-one has gone before'

Not: (as has been pointed out by someone else) 'Remember Infocom?'

So it doesn't begin with a marketing plan or an advertising budget. It
has to begin with a game so good people are willing to pay for it.
Nothing else will turn the tide.

Harry

-------------------------
"Hey, aren't you Gadget?"
"I was."

http://www.haha.demon.nl
(To send e-mail, remove SPAMBLOCK from address)

Kerovnian

unread,
Jul 16, 2003, 8:23:11 AM7/16/03
to

> it down. I mean: the only way people are going to play IF again is if
> the game of itself is so good, they are willing to overcome the
> obstacle of a text-based game and interface.

I'd partially agree with that. I like textual adventures mostly because of
the freedom you have typing commands, instead of having a very limited 3D
animated set of movements. There is also the immagination of your own, the
feeling aroused by your own experience, which is much stronger than an
image, done by someone else, that does not necessarily bring up the
memories. And since you don't have direct visual imput, you always wonder
what is hiding in those compass directions... At least that works for me.

A good, commercially worthy TA would, IMHO be with excellent static graphics
and excellent sound and music backup. However, TAs will then enter the CD
distribution regime, with more than 100MB of data, as opposed to few
hundread kb of pure text gamefile.


--------------------------------------------
Vlad K. / Kerovnian

Kerovnian Dark Ambience
www.kerovnian.com
in...@kerovnian.com
ICQ: 266710683


Harry

unread,
Jul 16, 2003, 10:17:23 AM7/16/03
to
On Wed, 16 Jul 2003 14:23:11 +0200, "Kerovnian" <in...@kerovnian.com>
made the world a better place by saying:

>
>> it down. I mean: the only way people are going to play IF again is if
>> the game of itself is so good, they are willing to overcome the
>> obstacle of a text-based game and interface.
>
>I'd partially agree with that. I like textual adventures mostly because of
>the freedom you have typing commands, instead of having a very limited 3D
>animated set of movements. There is also the immagination of your own, the
>feeling aroused by your own experience, which is much stronger than an
>image, done by someone else, that does not necessarily bring up the
>memories. And since you don't have direct visual imput, you always wonder
>what is hiding in those compass directions... At least that works for me.
>

And this works for me too. There is a reason I hang out here, ya know
;-)

But for most people, the fact that IF is 'merely' text is a big
obstacle. So the game needs to have some extraordinary (gameplay)
qualities of its own to convince those who aren't already convinced
that 'Text is Good'

>A good, commercially worthy TA would, IMHO be with excellent static graphics
>and excellent sound and music backup. However, TAs will then enter the CD
>distribution regime, with more than 100MB of data, as opposed to few
>hundread kb of pure text gamefile.
>

Yes, but then you could use the amount of MB in a press-release to
prove how good it is ;-)

>
>
>
>--------------------------------------------
> Vlad K. / Kerovnian
>
>Kerovnian Dark Ambience
>www.kerovnian.com
>in...@kerovnian.com
>ICQ: 266710683
>

Harry

JJK

unread,
Jul 16, 2003, 6:48:05 PM7/16/03
to
Kerovnian wrote:

> >it down. I mean: the only way people are going to play IF again is if
> >the game of itself is so good, they are willing to overcome the
> >obstacle of a text-based game and interface.
>

FWIW, one thing I like about playing IF on my Palm is that it is much
more physically interactive than just typing. You tap words, pull down
menus, create verb lists with your stylus. This has nothing to do with
the game qua game, but there is a certain pleasure to the details. Kind
of like when I was a smoker and tamped my cigarette just so, and held my
lighter in the precise position, etc.

-Jim

Andrea

unread,
Jul 17, 2003, 2:30:45 PM7/17/03
to
Hi,

"JJK" <jj...@warwick.net> wrote:

> FWIW, one thing I like about playing IF on my Palm is that it is much
> more physically interactive than just typing. You tap words, pull down
> menus, create verb lists with your stylus. This has nothing to do with
> the game qua game, but there is a certain pleasure to the details.

I was astonished how well this worked, when I saw this on my friend's Palm.
I believe that to be successful commercially the game has to be top-notch,
but an interface where you can click on the words and move them down to the
prompt and build up your own wordlist and stuff will certainly make it much
more
attractive for a mass market.
It's like someone who is used to typing will definitely be faster using an
editor like
Emacs when writing a letter, but many users prefer Word, where you can mark
a
paragraph with your mouse and move it around.
So why not 'enhance' one of the Windows interpreters with those features
when releasing an
interactive-fiction work commercially?
Another idea would probably be to release a nicely packaged collection of
the best of IF.
Sure you can get the games on the net for free, but like the
Linux-distibutions are sold,
people might be willing to pay some $ for a nice package.

--- Andrea

Nikos Chantziaras

unread,
Jul 18, 2003, 5:14:47 PM7/18/03
to
Harry wrote:
> [Commercial IF]

> So it doesn't begin with a marketing plan or an advertising budget.
> It has to begin with a game so good people are willing to pay for
> it.
> [...]

No matter how good a game is, if I can't buy it in the store, I won't buy it
at all.


--
Niko <realnc--(AT)--lycos--(DOT)--de>
http://members.lycos.co.uk/realnc


Adrien Beau

unread,
Jul 24, 2003, 9:08:39 AM7/24/03
to
Harry wrote:

> So the selling point should be: 'experience this wonderful
> story', or: 'crack these fiendish puzzles', or 'go where no-one
> has gone before'
>
> Not: (as has been pointed out by someone else) 'Remember
> Infocom?'

Andrea also wrote, after some Palm interpreter interface neatness
was mentioned:

> So why not 'enhance' one of the Windows interpreters with those
> features when releasing an interactive-fiction work
> commercially?

Why not even include it in one of the Windows interpreters,
commercial games or not? The interface sounds neat, and while
designed to overcome the limitations of the Palm, could also be
enjoyed on a regular computer. I know several people who are
turned off by the thought of typing lengths of text just to play
a game; such an interface could help them get into IF.

However, to expand on what Harry wrote, I don't think that the
implementation of such an interface should be used as a marketing
argument. If you are trying to sell your game to outsiders of
this community, you have to assume that your public knows nothing
about Infocom, text adventures, parser quality, or graphical user
interface. There's no point in saying that they are great, or
that they have improved, since they all look new to your
audience, and they will all feel weird to them.

I think that the only things that can be advertised today (either
for commercial or uncommercial distribution) are the core
concepts and advantages of IF, the story and challenges of the
particular game itself, and any high-quality graphics and sounds
it might include.

By core concepts and advantages of IF, I mean: greater immersion
and involvement; text can convey more than graphics and
animations; text games do not age as badly as graphical ones do;
text games can be played on every computer; text games can be
played by people with handicaps. Text games can also be short but
still very satisfying, which is important for people who can't
afford lengthy play sessions.

As for graphics and sounds, I think they (can) not only improve
the gaming experience, but they also express the professionalism
and seriousness with which the game was developed. In some cases,
such as 1893, they may even be more important to buyers than the
game itself; I think many people bought 1893 because it contained
hundreds of old, high-quality pictures of the Fair.

--
spam....@free.fr
You have my name and my hostname: you can mail me.
(Put a period between my first and last names).

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages