Making Money

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jim_b...@my-deja.com

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Dec 20, 2000, 3:30:41 PM12/20/00
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After a number of years, I've managed to get a short story published.
For a couple of hundred hours of work, I got paid a couple hundred
dollars.

Can an IF author do the same?

- Jim


Sent via Deja.com
http://www.deja.com/

Mark Musante - Sun Microsystems

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Dec 20, 2000, 4:44:57 PM12/20/00
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jim_b...@my-deja.com wrote:
> After a number of years, I've managed to get a short story published.
> For a couple of hundred hours of work, I got paid a couple hundred
> dollars.
>
> Can an IF author do the same?

You made $1/hr writing?

I'd say that was at least three orders of magnitude greater than
what others have made, when they've made anything at all.

At least, post-Infocom.


-markm

Paul O'Brian

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Dec 20, 2000, 5:01:37 PM12/20/00
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On Wed, 20 Dec 2000 jim_b...@my-deja.com wrote:

> After a number of years, I've managed to get a short story published.
> For a couple of hundred hours of work, I got paid a couple hundred
> dollars.
>
> Can an IF author do the same?

Sure, if you find a paying market. If you manage to do so, please let me
know.

--
Paul O'Brian obr...@colorado.edu http://ucsu.colorado.edu/~obrian

Andrew MacKinnon

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Dec 20, 2000, 6:09:40 PM12/20/00
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jim_b...@my-deja.com wrote:
>
> After a number of years, I've managed to get a short story published.
> For a couple of hundred hours of work, I got paid a couple hundred
> dollars.
>
> Can an IF author do the same?

Not really. Most of the IF we have is all free, downloaded off the
internet. We don't want commercial IF anymore.

--
Andrew MacKinnon
andrew_mac...@yahoo.com
http://www.geocities.com/andrew_mackinnon_2000/

Jon Ingold

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Dec 20, 2000, 6:18:00 PM12/20/00
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> > Can an IF author do the same?
>
> Not really. Most of the IF we have is all free, downloaded off the
> internet. We don't want commercial IF anymore.

I don't know how many authors I speak for, but for those I speak for:

*We* do.

Jon


jim_b...@my-deja.com

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Dec 20, 2000, 6:41:37 PM12/20/00
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I've looked at some IF stories. Many are very good. Why don't readers
want to pay?

Is it because readers expect them to be free? Is it because many
authors give their work away, thereby eliminating a market?

There are some in non-IF who give their stuff away for free. Most of
these stories aren't publishable, but some are. Some authors get mad
at these altruistic types, saying they're destroying the market.

Yes, for a short story, I expect about a $1 an hour. If I ever manage
to get a book published, I'll do better because of royalties. And
there's always the slight chance I might have a hit.

I am interested in IF. I can imagine a lot of possibilities.

- Jim

In article <Pine.GSO.3.96.100122...@ucsu.colorado.edu>,

Dan Schmidt

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Dec 20, 2000, 6:14:14 PM12/20/00
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jim_b...@my-deja.com writes:

| After a number of years, I've managed to get a short story published.
| For a couple of hundred hours of work, I got paid a couple hundred
| dollars.
|
| Can an IF author do the same?

Five authors who entered the IF Comp this year did.

--
http://www.dfan.org

Eric Mayer

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Dec 20, 2000, 7:29:09 PM12/20/00
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On Wed, 20 Dec 2000 23:41:37 GMT, jim_b...@my-deja.com wrote:

>I've looked at some IF stories. Many are very good. Why don't readers
>want to pay?
>
>Is it because readers expect them to be free? Is it because many
>authors give their work away, thereby eliminating a market?
>

>There are some in non-IF who give their stuff away for free. Most of
>these stories aren't publishable, but some are. Some authors get mad
>at these altruistic types, saying they're destroying the market.
>

To put my oar in - I wouldn't equate IF with regular fiction. There is
still a fairly large market for regular fiction and thus companies
which deal in it. As I understand it, the comapnies that were selling
IF either went under or abandonned it as unmarketable, at least from
as mass market viewpoint. So plenty of IF authors are obviously, at
least to me, of "professional" ability if only there were a
professional outlet. I mean to say, our Stephen Kings or Philip Roth's
just don't have anyplace to sell their stuff.

>Yes, for a short story, I expect about a $1 an hour. If I ever manage
>to get a book published, I'll do better because of royalties. And
>there's always the slight chance I might have a hit.
>

So as not to depress IF writers too much, let me point out that while
a very few magazines like The New Yorker pay very high rates, you're
more likely to get 4 or 5 cents a word for a short story. (Ellery
Queen Mystery Magazine, for example, which I've sold to might pay 6
cents a word after a few sales) As for getting *more* for a book.
Well, right, some do. But it isn't the norm. By any means. You'd have
to have a hit to get that sort of return.

The attraction of being published is, in large part, getting your work
out to readers through the marketing mechanisms of the publishing
industry. Interest in IF being what it is, you can reach most of the
audience by uploading to the archive, putting the game on freeware
sites etc. The financial rewards for most writers aren't necessarily
that high so someone who loves writing IF, and is making a good
living otherwise, isn't losing all that much by giving it away.


--
Eric Mayer
Web Site: <http://home.epix.net/~maywrite>

"The map is not the territory." -- Alfred Korzybski

Adam Cadre

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Dec 20, 2000, 7:39:52 PM12/20/00
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I've actually been considering a model for how authors could make some
money off IF. The usual payment models don't really work: if you ask
for money in exchange for a copy of the game, your potential audience
is going to shrink dramatically, since the number of people willing to
pay for a copy is much smaller than the already small number of people
who'll even put forth the effort to download it and try it out. And
once you've made one sale, there's no way to stop that person from
distributing illegal copies (though this is a pretty honorable group...
I don't believe there were any illegal copies of Once and Future
floating around, but maybe there were plenty and I just didn't hear
about them.) Allowing the game to be freely distributed and asking
those who've already played it to send you some money ("If you enjoyed
this game...") doesn't really work either, since very few people respond
to such entreaties (though some do... I've received $20 and $45 from
kind souls who spontaneously decided to reward me for I-0 and Photopia,
respectively.) Thus, the only time that you have the leverage to get
some money from people is *before* the game is released.

This isn't an entirely original idea, I've discovered -- I believe it's
known as the "street performer's protocol" or some such. Here's the
gist. You release your first few games for free, in order to attract
an audience who's sufficiently familiar with and impressed by your stuff
that they'd be willing to pay to get more of it. Then you announce that
your next game will be released once you receive the sum of, say, five
hundred bucks. Once you receive that amount, whether it's a single $500
check from one person or fifty $10 bills from a wide assortment of
contributors, you release the game as freeware, and anyone can play it,
whether they paid for it or not. This means not having to spend any
(futile) effort to put the brakes on free distribution, and also means
that newbies to the IF scene who've never heard of you can play any of
your old stuff, whether it was originally freeware or sold using this
model. The drawback is that you really have to stick to your proverbial
guns -- no one will pay if they know that if they wait long enough
you'll eventually buckle under and release the game before the "ransom"
is paid. So you can end up putting hours and hours of work into a
project that never sees the light of day because your price is never
met. And for all I know, this would end up being the case for anyone
who tried such a model... but it'd be interesting to see someone make
the attempt.

-----
Adam Cadre, Sammamish, WA
web site: http://adamcadre.ac
novel: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0060195584/adamcadreac

jpowe...@my-deja.com

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Dec 20, 2000, 8:30:05 PM12/20/00
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Having never written a game, perhaps I have no right to an opinion on
this, but what the hey, this is usenet.

One of the appeals of IF for me is that the community is based on mutual
interest and shared pleasure. There is no marketers, advertisers,
agents, publishers. No one is in here to get rich or expects thousands
of screaming fans to show up at their IF readings.

I live in the USA, but I have traveled a bit, and I don't think we
Americans realize just how market driven our culture is. We take for
granted that every medium is driven by advertising, that our streets are
lined with literally thousands of signs per mile screaming, waving,
clawing for our attention. The outside and inside of public buses are
literally covered in ads. I often get a kilo of advertising mail per
day. We American men know that it is not unusual to find someone has
sold the space above urinals for adverts. I haven't been in any other
country that even approaches this level of hype.

It makes me tired. I probably would like IF anyway. But after a long
hard day it is nice to check in with a bunch of people that are involved
with something just because they like it.

(OTOH, I gladly paid for Once and Future, and don't begrudge anyone who
can make a commercial go of this. I'm not arguing against change, just
throwing out my thoughts.)

-Jim

John Hill

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Dec 20, 2000, 3:46:46 PM12/20/00
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In article <3A4151...@adamcadre.ac>, "Adam Cadre" <a...@adamcadre.ac>
wrote:

> This isn't an entirely original idea, I've discovered -- I believe it's
> known as the "street performer's protocol" or some such. Here's the
> gist. You release your first few games for free, in order to attract an
> audience who's sufficiently familiar with and impressed by your stuff
> that they'd be willing to pay to get more of it. Then you announce that
> your next game will be released once you receive the sum of, say, five
> hundred bucks. Once you receive that amount, whether it's a single $500
> check from one person or fifty $10 bills from a wide assortment of
> contributors, you release the game as freeware, and anyone can play it,
> whether they paid for it or not.

Several years ago, an acquaintance of mine declared that it was his
ambition to become rich enough to have other people clean his house,
drive his car, and make his art. His attitude used to bug me. I'm not sure
if it still does.

The model Adam describes reminds me of public radio fund drives, but
it sent me off on a different tangent. Does anybody know any Mediccis?

If a rich eccentric, infatuated with HP Lovecraft, commissioned you to
write another 'Anchorhead', could someone do a good job of it? How
about a church pastor, who wanted a game in the vein of 'Jarod's
Journey', that all the Sunday School kids could play on their cel phones?

Another thought: I wonder what kind of IF proposal would win an NEA
grant. Something patriotic I suppose.

Please pardon my flights of fancy here. The "street performer's protocol"
seems more plausible.

Oren Ronen

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Dec 21, 2000, 1:57:18 AM12/21/00
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<jpowe...@my-deja.com> wrote in message
news:91rmem$3lj$1...@nnrp1.deja.com...

> Having never written a game, perhaps I have no right to an opinion on
> this, but what the hey, this is usenet.

Everyone's entitled to an opinion. This is an issue that affects both
writers and players.

> One of the appeals of IF for me is that the community is based on mutual
> interest and shared pleasure. There is no marketers, advertisers,
> agents, publishers. No one is in here to get rich or expects thousands
> of screaming fans to show up at their IF readings.

I don't think that will change all that much, but I do believe that IF
writers deserve to get paid for their efforts.
I'd gladly pay for works like Photopia or Spider and Web if the authors had
asked me too. I *did* pay for Once and Future. I have no qualms about paying
money to writers I respect, of for games which got good reviews.

> I live in the USA, but I have traveled a bit, and I don't think we
> Americans realize just how market driven our culture is. We take for
> granted that every medium is driven by advertising, that our streets are
> lined with literally thousands of signs per mile screaming, waving,
> clawing for our attention. The outside and inside of public buses are
> literally covered in ads. I often get a kilo of advertising mail per
> day. We American men know that it is not unusual to find someone has
> sold the space above urinals for adverts. I haven't been in any other
> country that even approaches this level of hype.

You should come to Israel. We're almost as bad.

> It makes me tired. I probably would like IF anyway. But after a long
> hard day it is nice to check in with a bunch of people that are involved
> with something just because they like it.

I don't think this will ever change. I can't see anyone writing any
noteworthy piece of IF if he doesn't like the medium. You will always find
interesting discussion on the newsgroups, even if the games themselves will
stop being free.
That said, I don't think we'll see any major shift towards commercial games
in the foreseeable future. I certainly plan to make my WIP freeware when
(if?) I release it.

Oren Ronen
or...@isdn.net.il

Hans Persson

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Dec 21, 2000, 2:56:40 AM12/21/00
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Adam Cadre <a...@adamcadre.ac> writes:

> Allowing the game to be freely distributed and asking those who've
> already played it to send you some money ("If you enjoyed this
> game...") doesn't really work either, since very few people respond
> to such entreaties (though some do... I've received $20 and $45 from
> kind souls who spontaneously decided to reward me for I-0 and
> Photopia, respectively.)

I think it works better than I thought. Way back, I released Enhanced
as shareware and have since received at least over $300. I can't make
a living out of that, but it's better than I thought. Even more
surprising is that I've gotten payment less than a year ago for a game
last updated in 1994 or thereabout. Enhanced was released for free
download, fully playable. If you registered you got a printed hint
booklet and the source code. I don't know if anyone ever looked at the
source code, though... Some people seemed interested in the hint
booklet. Others just liked the game.

For Sensorer (any month now, just eight years after the first part in
the series) we had originally planned to release it as crippled
shareware, but have now changed our mind to just releasing it and
letting anyone who likes it pay if they like.

Sure, most people will play it for a while and don't pay. On the other
hand, if I was in it for the money, I'd be into something else. Even
if there is no motivation (printed booklets or whatever), someone will
pay. Not many, but at least a few. Also, the handling of booklets and
diskettes and postage all over the globe was frankly more work than it
was worth.

Hans

--
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| Hans Persson http://www.lysator.liu.se/~unicorn/ |
| uni...@lysator.liu.se http://www.lysator.liu.se/~unicorn/fandom/ |
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+

Rich Pizor

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Dec 21, 2000, 3:30:53 AM12/21/00
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In article <3A4151...@adamcadre.ac>, Adam Cadre <a...@adamcadre.ac>
wrote:

> Here's the


> gist. You release your first few games for free, in order to attract
> an audience who's sufficiently familiar with and impressed by your stuff
> that they'd be willing to pay to get more of it. Then you announce that
> your next game will be released once you receive the sum of, say, five
> hundred bucks. Once you receive that amount, whether it's a single $500
> check from one person or fifty $10 bills from a wide assortment of
> contributors, you release the game as freeware, and anyone can play it,
> whether they paid for it or not.

[snip]

> it'd be interesting to see someone make
> the attempt.

Ah yes -- the Stephen King model. The experiment has thus far not
proven successful for him -- the serialized novel would only be
continued as long as 75% of the downloading public paid up. Of course,
in that case we're talking about several payments over time for one
product, whereas the model you're describing is a series of one-time
transactions for discreet products. That just might be different enough
to work -- it certainly did for ID software...

Rich

Damien Neil

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Dec 21, 2000, 3:16:10 AM12/21/00
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On Wed, 20 Dec 2000 23:41:37 GMT,
jim_b...@my-deja.com <jim_b...@my-deja.com> wrote:
>I've looked at some IF stories. Many are very good. Why don't readers
>want to pay?

There are some very high quality games out there that are free. Any
for-cost game needs to match or better the quality of any unplayed
free games, or the buyer feels as if he wasted his money.

If Zarf announced that his next game was $20, I'd send him a check
right away. I've played his previous games, I liked them, and I
trust him to not disapoint me.

If Ned Newauthor does the same, I'll wait for the demo. Or a lot of
rave reviews.

Either way, making real money is going to be a tough problem. It's
dubious that the set of people who pay attention to these newsgroups
is large enough to form a profitable market; you may manage to make
a few hundred dollars if you're do an excellent job of marketing,
but that isn't going to begin to repay the investment of time a good
game takes.

Various people have attempted to find a market outside the newsgroup.
They've all failed. I doubt this is because of the availability of
free games -- most of the public has never heard of _Curses_ or _So
Far_. It probably has more to do with the presence of slick, well-made
games with huge production budgets on the shelves of the local
computer store. If _Escape From Monkey Island_ costs $40, $20 for
a text adventure that one person wrote in his spare time doesn't look
very good.

>There are some in non-IF who give their stuff away for free. Most of
>these stories aren't publishable, but some are. Some authors get mad
>at these altruistic types, saying they're destroying the market.

I've never seen an author get mad at people who offer their works
for free. I've seen a lot of them say that you get what you pay for.

The problem with self-published people is that they have no editor.
Editors serve a number of tasks, the most important of which is
guaranteeing a certain minimum level of quality. (Exactly what this
level is depends on the editor and the imprint.) I know that if I
pick a completely random book off the shelves, that it will be better
than 99% of the stories that are being written. (I presume you've
heard of the dreaded "slush pile", in every publisher's offices.)
Most books never get published, and with reason most of the time.

This isn't to say that there are great stories out there that never
find a publisher. Frankly, though, the odds that any given book
self-published on a website is one of those are low enough that I'm
not going to waste my time.


IF is a bit of an odd bird in this way. There is, as far as anyone
can tell, no commercial market, so there are no publishers to screen
works. Readers have to sort through the slush pile themselves, hoping
they find a gem.

Perhaps this is why I don't play much IF any more. The tedium of
wading through a host of poor games to find one good one is far too
depressing. By the time I come across a decent game, I'm so sick
of the garbage that I'm in no state to appreciate it.


>I am interested in IF. I can imagine a lot of possibilities.

I wish you luck.

- Damien

Neil K.

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Dec 21, 2000, 4:46:18 AM12/21/00
to

> This isn't an entirely original idea, I've discovered -- I believe it's
> known as the "street performer's protocol" or some such. Here's the
> gist. You release your first few games for free, in order to attract
> an audience who's sufficiently familiar with and impressed by your stuff
> that they'd be willing to pay to get more of it. Then you announce that
> your next game will be released once you receive the sum of, say, five
> hundred bucks. Once you receive that amount, whether it's a single $500
> check from one person or fifty $10 bills from a wide assortment of
> contributors, you release the game as freeware, and anyone can play it,

> whether they paid for it or not. [...]

Hm. I'm honestly not sure about this idea, though it is interesting. I
think there are a couple major trust issues that undermine it.

First, you have the problem of people sending you money but not enough.
So then you don't release the game. This will inevitably engender
resentment amongst contributors unless you send the money back to them.
Which has its own problems, notably that you'll lose money. And if you
don't send the money back you'll have a lot of mistrustful people out
there.

Stephen King created a huge amount of ill-will amongst the people who
paid for the first chapters of his unfinished online book, since they feel
like they paid him good money to buy a book that may never be finished. Or
if it is finished they'll have to buy it all over again. King may well
point to the "freeloaders" and blame them, but paying customers are likely
to say, "well - that's your problem, isn't it? I paid up - where're my
goods?" Luckily for King he has such a huge readership that a few grumpy
geeks aren't going to affect his pocketbook in the end. But we aren't all
in such a position. The subscription model may have worked for Dickens,
but the economic and cultural landscape has changed a hell of a lot since
then.

Second, you have the problem that you don't know whether the final work
is necessarily going to be any good or well-received. Even the well-known
and well-established IF authors have produced works that few people liked.
Just because I liked game X by author Y doesn't mean I'm going to like
game Z by the same author. Sure, there are writers in this community who
have written stuff I like. But I really can't say I'd be willing to trust
them with money to write something else I'd like, since they've all
written stuff I don't like at all.

Though I might be willing to pay them anyhow because of some of the
friendship links within this community. This of course was the main reason
I purchased a copy of OaF - I thought it was an interesting experiment,
and one I wanted to support. Not because I was a huge fan of Underoos, fun
as it is.

But really, once you release a paid game that turns out to disappoint a
majority of your contributors I'll bet you'll have poisoned the well. Very
few people will be willing to pay you sight-unseen again for your next
work, which makes it a fairly fragile payment model.

Personally I suspect the enforced shareware deal - you release the game
and let people play it, but once you reach a certain critical point you
have to pay up - is the least problematic model for getting some revenue
happening. Since you hook people when it's free and then get the people
willing to keep playing. This was the approach I was considering with my
big work-sort-of-in-progress - enforced shareware with the added carrot of
feelies in a box.

But really, when you get down to it, the basic problem we're facing here
is that the IF community is way too small to support income deals. When
you have a bigger pool of users the probability of getting some cash
increases. And unlike the art world we don't have a large number of
wealthy patrons out there happy to bankroll the next great writer.

IF died as a commercially viable proposition in the 1980s. I don't see
that changing at any point in the future. As noted above, I was
considering releasing my unfinished game as shareware when I started
writing it back in 1992 or whenever it was. I wouldn't do that now. It'd
be freeware with perhaps an option for buying feelies separately.

(Though having said that, another possibility comes to mind which sort of
combines your idea with mine. Release the game for free, but it's
impossible to complete it without a specific piece of information. People
send in their 20 bucks or whatever to get that info. After, say, 90 days
that information is made available for free. So enthusiastic players can
finish right away, whereas less serious people who likely wouldn't pay
anyhow can just wait. This completely bypasses the two trust problems I
mention above, though doesn't deal with the larger problem of there being
a small market for IF. However, since it's a time-limited thing, who
knows? Might get a few bucks out of someone.)

- Neil K.

Jon Ingold

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Dec 21, 2000, 8:01:38 AM12/21/00
to
> After a number of years, I've managed to get a short story published.
> For a couple of hundred hours of work, I got paid a couple hundred
> dollars.
>
> Can an IF author do the same?

Having read through this thread, how about this:

Someone (?) sets up a site which acts as an editor/publisher, and will
offer games which whoever runs the site classes as "good" (or rather
"worth it") for download; and the only place you can download from is
this site. Then you smear the site with banner adverts, get money from
that and split it around, a bit for the site runner I suppose and a bit
for the author.

That said, I've no idea how much money you can really get from a banner
ad. The guy who runs iFiction has them, do they pay off?

It wouldn't solve the problem of illegal copies, but then you wouldn't
have to as the people paying wouldn't be the players. Then after a month
or two you could allow the author to place the game in the archive for
posterity and post up your next game. Kinda like what Mark is doing with
his review site, only on the other side.

...or is this fundamentally flawed?

Jon


Eric Mayer

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Dec 21, 2000, 8:30:22 AM12/21/00
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On 21 Dec 2000 08:16:10 GMT, ne...@centauri.org (Damien Neil) wrote:

>
>The problem with self-published people is that they have no editor.
>Editors serve a number of tasks, the most important of which is
>guaranteeing a certain minimum level of quality. (Exactly what this
>level is depends on the editor and the imprint.) I know that if I
>pick a completely random book off the shelves, that it will be better
>than 99% of the stories that are being written. (I presume you've
>heard of the dreaded "slush pile", in every publisher's offices.)
>Most books never get published, and with reason most of the time.
>

First, before anyone else corrects me, I apologise for misreading $1
an hour as $1 a word further up this thread! A bug in my brain. But
the point that self publishers have no editor is very important. I
mostly like the egalitarian idea of having no middleman between artist
and audience, but then here is also no screening process. Indeed some
good stuff gets screened out, and increasingly so given the
market-driven approach to publishing today, yet most of the stuff
screened out should be screened out.

Editors also help to improve immensely the material they edit. My wife
and I had a book poblished last year and the process of tinkering and
fixing little errors etc found by the editor was very like the
beta-testing IF should, and often does not, go through - the
correcting of many, often small errors that invariably creep in and
diminish the reader's enjoyment.

Eric

jim_b...@my-deja.com

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Dec 21, 2000, 10:08:11 AM12/21/00
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> I live in the USA, but I have traveled a bit, and I don't think we
> Americans realize just how market driven our culture is. We take for
> granted that every medium is driven by advertising, that our streets
are
> lined with literally thousands of signs per mile screaming, waving,
> clawing for our attention. The outside and inside of public buses are
> literally covered in ads. I often get a kilo of advertising mail per
> day. We American men know that it is not unusual to find someone has
> sold the space above urinals for adverts. I haven't been in any other
> country that even approaches this level of hype.

That's it!

>l

After passing all the perilous traps and monsters, you finally reach
the summit. Something tells you you're almost at the end of your
ordeal. There is a cliff to the south. You see a sign.

>l at sign.

It says "Enjoy Coke".

===================================

Excuse the silliness.

jim_b...@my-deja.com

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Dec 21, 2000, 10:32:29 AM12/21/00
to
Just a thought.

How about modifying the model a bit. Sell it for $5 to $10 dollars and
release it as freeware once you reach your asking price? That way,
people who pay will get a chance to play it.

Too bad there isn't someone around with enough capital to start a
publishing business. I think once electronic books take off and once
everyone reads on a handheld of some kind, IF will become very
marketable.

A publisher would gaurantee a certain level of quality. And someone
needs to get the word out; I didn't even know IF was still around until
I read an article on slashdot.org

I live in Tucson and we have a bunch of artists here. One guy cuts out
figures from roofing tin and sells them for $600 to $2000 apiece.

- Jim

Adam Cadre

unread,
Dec 21, 2000, 12:09:07 PM12/21/00
to
Jim Bayers wrote:
> >l
>
> After passing all the perilous traps and monsters, you finally reach
> the summit. Something tells you you're almost at the end of your
> ordeal. There is a cliff to the south. You see a sign.
>
> >l at sign.
>
> It says "Enjoy Coke".

Perhaps you would enjoy the 1999 April Fools' game, COKE IS IT! You
can find it at:

ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/inform/coke.zip

Adam Cadre

unread,
Dec 21, 2000, 12:11:29 PM12/21/00
to
Jim Bayers wrote:
> Too bad there isn't someone around with enough capital to start a
> publishing business.

Someone -- namely, Mike Berlyn -- tried. It didn't work.

Knight37

unread,
Dec 21, 2000, 1:30:18 PM12/21/00
to
Quoting "Jon Ingold" <j...@ingold.fsnet.co.uk> from Wed, 20 Dec 2000
23:18:00 GMT:


I don't know how many IF fans I speak for, but for those I speak for:

*we* do.


Why?

Because I will *presume* that commercial IF will be of a significantly
higher quality than the average non-commercial IF. Of course, there have
been some SPECTACULAR non-commercial IF lately, and I doubt seriously that
any future commercial IF endeavors could seriously outclass some of those,
but I would expect a commercial IF to give those games a good "run for the
money" (pun intended). Ie, I'm in favor of commercial IF to reward authors
for superb efforts.

--

Knight37

"I had great expectation on this group. But you all
f_cking people have only big mouse."
-- Sokwoo Lee, csipg.strategic

Knight37

unread,
Dec 21, 2000, 1:50:53 PM12/21/00
to
Quoting Adam Cadre <a...@adamcadre.ac> from Thu, 21 Dec 2000 17:11:29 GMT:

>Jim Bayers wrote:
>> Too bad there isn't someone around with enough capital to start a
>> publishing business.
>
>Someone -- namely, Mike Berlyn -- tried. It didn't work.

But *why* didn't it work? Did Once and Future make money? What about Dr
Dumont's re-release (which, being a re-release, was kind of a special case
anyway)? What other IF did Mike even offer? I was ready to become a
"regular customer" of CMP, but there just wasn't enough IF being offered,
and I wasn't that interested in eBooks.

--

Knight37

"I've never seen so many men wasted so badly."
-- Blonde, from "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly"

Knight37

unread,
Dec 21, 2000, 2:34:46 PM12/21/00
to
Quoting Adam Cadre <a...@adamcadre.ac> from Thu, 21 Dec 2000 00:39:52 GMT:

>This isn't an entirely original idea, I've discovered -- I believe it's
>known as the "street performer's protocol" or some such. Here's the
>gist. You release your first few games for free, in order to attract
>an audience who's sufficiently familiar with and impressed by your stuff
>that they'd be willing to pay to get more of it. Then you announce that
>your next game will be released once you receive the sum of, say, five
>hundred bucks. Once you receive that amount, whether it's a single $500
>check from one person or fifty $10 bills from a wide assortment of
>contributors, you release the game as freeware, and anyone can play it,
>whether they paid for it or not.

Hmm.. There's only a handful of authors this might work for. I think you're
probably one of them. Zarf could probably pull it off. Not sure who else
could do it, but maybe some. At least announcing a teaser about the game
itself could get in a few more people who may or may not be familiar with
your work but like the idea.

The problem will be, of course, if you make a game released in this manner
that sucks. It will probably end up being the last game you can release
like this, unless you rebuild your fan base by releasing a few free games
afterward that don't suck. Of course, since you DO have this danger, you're
likely to put your best effort possible into the game. However, your idea
just may not "click" with the audience, regardless of how much effort
you've put into it.

> The drawback is that you really have to stick to your proverbial
>guns -- no one will pay if they know that if they wait long enough
>you'll eventually buckle under and release the game before the "ransom"
>is paid. So you can end up putting hours and hours of work into a
>project that never sees the light of day because your price is never
>met. And for all I know, this would end up being the case for anyone
>who tried such a model... but it'd be interesting to see someone make
>the attempt.

Hmm... You could always take "preorders" for a game, on a donation basis
or at a set fee, and then when the game is ready you ship it ONLY to the
preordered folks. After it's been out a few weeks, month or so, whatever,
you release it as freeware (fully disclosing this intention to the public
before accepting any preorders). You could then set your own limit as to
how much you'll take for the game before releasing the game, without that
amount being disclosed to the public. The advantage for the fans who
preorder is that they get the next "Cadre game" before anyone else does.
Believe, me, there are definitely people willing to pay for this kind of
thing. They are also the people least likely to spread the game around for
free. You're also not stuck with a game that you can't release because you
didn't collect the magic sum.

I'm not sure how much money you could expect to collect for this type of
thing. Besides, if you're main goal is not money anyway, any money that you
do manage to collect is really icing on the cake. I'm certain that I'd be
willing to take a chance on the next Cadre or Plotkin game. I'd probably be
more willing to take a chance on other authors if I'd played (and enjoyed)
some their games before, and if the subject matter of the proposed game
seemed interesting.

So many may ask, "why should I pay for IF when so many great authors are
willing to release their stuff for free?"

There's not really an answer to that, and it's a perfectly valid reason not
to go along with any new IF-for-hire schemes that people might come up
with. Unless commercial IF ends up being as good as or better than the free
stuff, it's probably never going to become viable.

--

Knight37

Knight: "Are all men in the future as arrogant as you?"
Ash: "No. Just me, baby."
-- "Army of Darkness"

Stephen Granade

unread,
Dec 21, 2000, 3:44:47 PM12/21/00
to
Adam Cadre <a...@adamcadre.ac> writes:

> Jim Bayers wrote:
> > Too bad there isn't someone around with enough capital to start a
> > publishing business.
>
> Someone -- namely, Mike Berlyn -- tried. It didn't work.

Well, it's not clear that it didn't work because IF can't be
sold. Cascade Mtn. Publishing was trying to do three things at once --
IF, ebooks, and print books.

Stephen

--
Stephen Granade | Interested in adventure games?
sgra...@phy.duke.edu | Visit About Interactive Fiction
Duke University, Physics Dept | http://interactfiction.about.com

Stephen Granade

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Dec 21, 2000, 3:56:19 PM12/21/00
to
Hans Persson <uni...@lysator.liu.se> writes:

> Adam Cadre <a...@adamcadre.ac> writes:
>
> > Allowing the game to be freely distributed and asking those who've
> > already played it to send you some money ("If you enjoyed this
> > game...") doesn't really work either, since very few people respond
> > to such entreaties (though some do... I've received $20 and $45 from
> > kind souls who spontaneously decided to reward me for I-0 and
> > Photopia, respectively.)
>
> I think it works better than I thought. Way back, I released Enhanced
> as shareware and have since received at least over $300. I can't make
> a living out of that, but it's better than I thought.

I've had similar luck with Losing Your Grip. In doing so, I stumbled
across a few interesting facts.

One, having good-quality feelies really helps. I got a lot of feedback
from people who really liked the manual and other things I added in
the registration package. All of the LyG feelies were paper, for ease
of construction, but were carefully printed and assembled. Some
elements were hand-written to make them more individual.

Two, the need for hints is a powerful driving force. Even now that LyG
is available for free, I still get people wanting to register for the
hints alone.

Three, you need to get your game outside the IF community. When I
released LyG, I got a rush of about 20 registrations from the
community, then nothing. The rest of the registrations came from
people who found my game on a random FTP archive, or on a shovelware
CD, or stumbled across my site and downloaded it. There are a lot of
sites now that have collection of Java-based games; if you could get
your game on there with the registration information, you might could
pick up more registrations.

I didn't make enough to live on, clearly, but I did make some
money. And on a student's salary, it was not an inconsequential
amount.

Gadget

unread,
Dec 21, 2000, 4:45:44 PM12/21/00
to
On Thu, 21 Dec 2000 13:01:38 -0000, "Jon Ingold"
<j...@ingold.fsnet.co.uk> made the world a better place by saying:

As editor for an on-line magazine for an ISP, I can tell you it is
*very* hard to make money from ads on the web. Our readers base is
resonable for a zine that started three months ago, and I find it
impossible to get substantial deals. Sure, people want to swap banners
but that's all done for free. In fact: some ask *you* money for
placing *their* stuff on your site.
You have to have thousands of readers *per day* to make ads
profitable. How many IF-ers are there still around? Couple of hundred?

Advertisement is based on statistics. 1% response of 10000 people is
100 products sold. 1% of 500... well you get the point. And getting a
1% return is rather doubtful to begin with...

But maybe we could all do a little IF promotion outside the circle?
Maybe *we* could place banners, send spam mail, buy billboards, rent
sky writers to get IF back into the mainstream?


--
"So... you've compiled your own Kernel... Your skills are now complete..."
-----------------
It's a bird
It's a plane
No it's... Gadget?

Village Magazine: http://www.villagemagazine.nl
To send E-mail: remove SPAMBLOCK from adress.

Domokov

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Dec 21, 2000, 6:26:58 PM12/21/00
to
><jdwvctq...@login2.phy.duke.edu>

On the other hand, I'd like to offer my experience with shareware: After
releasing Babel and Exhibition as shareware I think I've recieved a total of
seven regestrations. On Exhibition this is hardly surprising since it was
only released to the IF community, but Babel has been on download.com and AOL
for some time and, if their counts are accurate, has been downloaded around
100,000 times. Now, this alone is MORE than enough compensation for me, but
I've been curious why it's not been registered more. I think the reason may be
multifold:
1) The only way anyone knows that Babel is shareware is via the ABOUT text,
which many people unfamiliar with IF might never encounter.
2) The feelies, while well done, aren't much described in the shareware text,
so people don't know what they're missing, especially if they are unfamiliar
with what feelies are.
3) I give away the hints for free. This may be the biggest sticking point. I
get one or two e-mails a week asking for hints, which I distribute freely. I
just would feel awful having people make it mostly through the game, get stuck
on that blasted cabinet puzzle and then ask them for money to get to the last
ten minutes of the game ;)

So, I'm trying to figure out some more effective method of possibly making a
profit off of IF. It's hardly a high priority, I'd probably go on making IF
even if the only audience available to play it was my dog Hamlet, but a
starving college student is CONSTANTLY on the look-out for ways to make a buck.
;)

Ian Finley

Kathleen M. Fischer

unread,
Dec 21, 2000, 7:37:37 PM12/21/00
to
In article <91r4ti$kdv$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>,

jim_b...@my-deja.com wrote:
> After a number of years, I've managed to get a short story published.
> For a couple of hundred hours of work, I got paid a couple hundred
> dollars.
>
> Can an IF author do the same?

Well, this year the top, what 8(?) in the comp got $100-$200. :)

The tricky bit seems to me how to make it very easy for the player to
get the money to the author. I can't believe that people in this group
wouldn't pay a "paperback" fee for a game if it was easy to do so.
Figuring 100 regular players out there, perhaps half of which would find
any particular game of interest. That's $250 per game for the author -
or perhaps $200 if the site takes a cut to keep things running smoothly.
Not bad.

One possibility, and I have no idea how feasible it is, is to set up a
site where authors could upload their work and players could then pay $5
per game to download them, with the site moderator paying the author
every, say, 3-4 months (heck, once a year would be fine with me!) just
to keep things easier.

Of course, I have no idea what's involved in handling credit card (or
other sorts of money) transactions via the web, nor what operating
expenses there would be. And unless you had an immediate pot of games
out there sizable enough to keep peoples interest it would just sort of
wither away. Maybe a 6 month warning to give people a chance to write
games, and then release them all at once.... or perhaps open the site
when 20 games have been submitted.

People could write reviews (like Amazon.com) for the potential buyers to
read, with a monthly drawing for review submitters - "Win a free game".
To upload a game would require 3 reviews from beta testers, to give
people an idea what the game is about (and to show that someone has
actually been able to play thru it). A registration # would enable the
downloading of beta fixes and such.

Of course, all this would be a mountain of work for some poor dedicated
soul, and in the end might not result in a single game sold.

Kathleen (the IF Co-op?)

--
-- Masquerade - http://baf.wurb.com/if/competition00/inform/mask/
-- The Cove - Best of Landscape, Interactive Fiction Art Show 2000
-- ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/zcode/Cove.z5
-- Excuse me while I dance a little jig of despair

okbl...@my-deja.com

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Dec 21, 2000, 7:49:41 PM12/21/00
to
In article <91u7oh$4rh$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>,
Kathleen M. Fischer <green_g...@my-deja.com> wrote:
[ideas about payment]

Surely someone here must know something about the auction payment
services like PayPal, et al?

OK, if I understand the PayPal thing, it's free for a personal account
receiving up to $500 every six months. The only bad side is that to
pay, the person must be registered with PayPal. It's free but I can see
that not appealing to some.

--
[ok]

Carl Muckenhoupt

unread,
Dec 21, 2000, 8:18:14 PM12/21/00
to
On 21 Dec 2000 08:16:10 GMT, ne...@centauri.org (Damien Neil) wrote:

>IF is a bit of an odd bird in this way. There is, as far as anyone
>can tell, no commercial market, so there are no publishers to screen
>works. Readers have to sort through the slush pile themselves, hoping
>they find a gem.
>
>Perhaps this is why I don't play much IF any more. The tedium of
>wading through a host of poor games to find one good one is far too
>depressing. By the time I come across a decent game, I'm so sick
>of the garbage that I'm in no state to appreciate it.

This is one of the reasons I started my review site five years ago.
Since then, however, the slush pile has grown far larger. I can no
longer pretend to do it justice.

Another notable thing about the IF market is that the author/audience
ratio is much smaller than that for conventional fiction. It's
impossible to say this with any precision, but it seems like nearly
everyone who plays the things also writes them. Thus, if we were all
to start charging money for them, it wouldn't bring much money into
the IF community - it would just shuffle around from author to author,
some of it being lost to income tax on each transaction. Now, this
all may be a gross misperception, but as far as I can tell, it's a
common one. IF authors feel that IF may as well be free, for
simplicity's sake.

-----= Posted via Newsfeeds.Com, Uncensored Usenet News =-----
http://www.newsfeeds.com - The #1 Newsgroup Service in the World!
-----== Over 80,000 Newsgroups - 16 Different Servers! =-----

jpowe...@my-deja.com

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Dec 21, 2000, 8:30:03 PM12/21/00
to
If there were real money in IF, I could see commercial games being better
at having responses for everything you might choose to type in. That is
one place where even very good games fall down. It is hard to have even
mediocre responses to every possible "examine x" command without a few
good drudge workers. Think of all the hundreds of "inkers" at Disney
studios who used to do nothing but color Donald's beak yellow. Jon
Ingold certainly has done a great job on some big games, but I'm sure
even he would agree he would have filled in more back story if he could
have assigned the drudge work to a couple of interns...

In article <Xns9011769DCknig...@209.155.56.81>,
knig...@gamespotmail.com wrote:

> Because I will *presume* that commercial IF will be of a significantly
> higher quality than the average non-commercial IF. Of course, there have
> been some SPECTACULAR non-commercial IF lately, and I doubt seriously that
> any future commercial IF endeavors could seriously outclass some of those,
> but I would expect a commercial IF to give those games a good "run for the
> money" (pun intended). Ie, I'm in favor of commercial IF to reward authors
> for superb efforts.

>


Adam Cadre

unread,
Dec 21, 2000, 9:28:19 PM12/21/00
to
Stephen Granade wrote:
> Well, it's not clear that it didn't work because IF can't be
> sold. Cascade Mtn. Publishing was trying to do three things at once --
> IF, ebooks, and print books.

True -- though the previous poster suggested that the return of
commercial IF would be part of an e-book revolution of some sort,
which sounded more like what CMP was trying to jump on the leading
edge of than not.

Stephen Granade

unread,
Dec 21, 2000, 9:39:45 PM12/21/00
to
dom...@aol.com (Domokov) writes:

> ><jdwvctq...@login2.phy.duke.edu>


> >
> >I've had similar luck with Losing Your Grip. In doing so, I stumbled
> >across a few interesting facts.
> >
> >One, having good-quality feelies really helps. I got a lot of feedback
> >from people who really liked the manual and other things I added in
> >the registration package. All of the LyG feelies were paper, for ease
> >of construction, but were carefully printed and assembled. Some
> >elements were hand-written to make them more individual.
> >
> >Two, the need for hints is a powerful driving force. Even now that LyG
> >is available for free, I still get people wanting to register for the
> >hints alone.
> >
> >Three, you need to get your game outside the IF community. When I
> >released LyG, I got a rush of about 20 registrations from the
> >community, then nothing. The rest of the registrations came from
> >people who found my game on a random FTP archive, or on a shovelware
> >CD, or stumbled across my site and downloaded it. There are a lot of
> >sites now that have collection of Java-based games; if you could get
> >your game on there with the registration information, you might could
> >pick up more registrations.
> >
> >I didn't make enough to live on, clearly, but I did make some
> >money. And on a student's salary, it was not an inconsequential
> >amount.
>

> On the other hand, I'd like to offer my experience with shareware: After
> releasing Babel and Exhibition as shareware I think I've recieved a total of
> seven regestrations. On Exhibition this is hardly surprising since it was
> only released to the IF community, but Babel has been on download.com and AOL
> for some time and, if their counts are accurate, has been downloaded around
> 100,000 times. Now, this alone is MORE than enough compensation for me, but
> I've been curious why it's not been registered more.

A couple of questions. At what point did you switch Babel over to
shareware? It takes a lot of time for these things to filter through
the nooks and crannies of the Internet. Granted, the Download.com copy
will have switched over.

How are you distributing it? .gam file, zip archive? I distributed
Grip as a zip archive with a readme file describing the shareware
setup.

> I think the reason may be
> multifold:
> 1) The only way anyone knows that Babel is shareware is via the ABOUT text,
> which many people unfamiliar with IF might never encounter.
> 2) The feelies, while well done, aren't much described in the shareware text,
> so people don't know what they're missing, especially if they are unfamiliar
> with what feelies are.

Both of these would definitely cut down on the number of people who'd
ever see that the game is shareware. Grip said something like "This
game is unregistered" each time you started it.

> 3) I give away the hints for free. This may be the biggest sticking
> point.

I'd guess so. Even when I tell people that I'm not accepting
registrations because I don't want to print more manuals, they say
that they're mainly interested in the hints.

Adam Cadre

unread,
Dec 21, 2000, 10:01:16 PM12/21/00
to
Ian Finley wrote:
> Babel has been on download.com and AOL for some time and, if their
> counts are accurate, has been downloaded around 100,000 times. Now,
> this alone is MORE than enough compensation for me [...]

And the fact that one of those 100,000 who grabbed Babel off of
download.com was motivated to check out the IF community and eventually
became my sweetie is more than enough compensation for ME. (Thanks,
Ian!)

Edward Lineberry

unread,
Dec 21, 2000, 10:12:43 PM12/21/00
to
I think the most effective model in this case might be PalmGear.com or
Handango.com. The IF market has some things in common with the PalmOS
market: 1. Small software that can be quickly downloaded, 2. A limited
target audience (though in the case of IF, much smaller than the PalmOS), 3.
A lot of freeware, 4. A lot of users are also authors.

Releasing IF as shareware or crippleware with a single site handling credit
card payments for shareware while also providing a repository for reviews
and freeware games might not be lucrative, but it could provide some
financial incentives for those who create the best games.


Kathleen M. Fischer <green_g...@my-deja.com> wrote in message
news:91u7oh$4rh$1...@nnrp1.deja.com...

Adam Cadre

unread,
Dec 21, 2000, 10:18:01 PM12/21/00
to
Kathleen Fischer wrote:
> I can't believe that people in this group wouldn't pay a "paperback"
> fee for a game if it was easy to do so.

Scott McCloud has been agitating for a micropayment system where
people could access content, for, say, five cents -- a low enough
figure that virtually no one would be dissuaded from clicking
through, but which would eventually start adding up for creators.
Sounds good to me, though it might be a while before it's practicable.

wo...@one.net

unread,
Dec 21, 2000, 10:56:54 PM12/21/00
to
jim_b...@my-deja.com wrote:

>I've looked at some IF stories. Many are very good. Why don't readers
>want to pay?
>

>Is it because readers expect them to be free? Is it because many
>authors give their work away, thereby eliminating a market?

I'm afraid IF's time as a commercial entity has passed. To be brutally
honest, IF is a historical curiousity, on par with the
ship-in-a-bottle.

IF is a labor of love, created by a dedicated few, and appreciated by
(relatively) no one. I once heard a statistic float around here that
there were only 20,000 people *world-wide* that were interested in IF.

With that small an audience, dreams of wealth are, I fear, misplaced.
Especially with the strong tradition that IF-related works are free.
TADS used to have a price, then the author chose to give it away. If
an IF bedrock like TADS is free, why would anyone pay for a game
created from it?

Respectfully,

Wolf

"The world is my home, it's just that some rooms are draftier than
others". -- Wolf

Domokov

unread,
Dec 21, 2000, 11:32:30 PM12/21/00
to
>
>Ian Finley wrote:
>> Babel has been on download.com and AOL for some time and, if their
>> counts are accurate, has been downloaded around 100,000 times. Now,
>> this alone is MORE than enough compensation for me [...]
>
>And the fact that one of those 100,000 who grabbed Babel off of
>download.com was motivated to check out the IF community and eventually
>became my sweetie is more than enough compensation for ME. (Thanks,
>Ian!)


Consider it my regestration fee for Photopia. Now I just need to hook Zarf up
with someone... ;)

Ian Finley

Gabe McKean

unread,
Dec 21, 2000, 11:38:11 PM12/21/00
to
wo...@one.net wrote in message ...

>I'm afraid IF's time as a commercial entity has passed. To be brutally
>honest, IF is a historical curiousity, on par with the
>ship-in-a-bottle.
>
>IF is a labor of love, created by a dedicated few, and appreciated by
>(relatively) no one. I once heard a statistic float around here that
>there were only 20,000 people *world-wide* that were interested in IF.

This could change, though. Think of how many people have played and enjoyed
the Infocom games; I still see Zork references all over the place. Now
imagine if all those people realized that 1. people are still making this
kind of game and 2. many of these new games are very high quality. And the
potential audience is, IMO, much broader than that. I missed out on Infocom
and the other commercial text adventures, but I still managed to get hooked
on IF a couple of years ago.

So, how do we reach this audience (speaking as a wannabe author)? Including
more games on the more popular download sites such as download.com is a
start; I first downloaded Babel and Everybody Loves a Parade there. The
slashdotting of the IF comp might have helped. We could start a tradition
of 'advocacy', similar to that of minority OS's, if we really wanted to get
serious about this, but I'm not ready to go that far :)

Of course, reaching a wider audience doesn't automatically mean moolah for
the authors, but it can't hurt.


Lucian Paul Smith

unread,
Dec 22, 2000, 3:19:05 AM12/22/00
to
<random thought>

I wonder if we could get CheapAss Games to market IF?

At the very least, someone interested in making money off of IF on a
corporate level should examine their business model.

</random thought>

-Lucian

Edward Lineberry

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Dec 22, 2000, 5:14:10 AM12/22/00
to

<wo...@one.net> wrote in message
news:asj54touropt03r35...@4ax.com...

> jim_b...@my-deja.com wrote:
>
> >I've looked at some IF stories. Many are very good. Why don't readers
> >want to pay?
> >
> >Is it because readers expect them to be free? Is it because many
> >authors give their work away, thereby eliminating a market?
>
> I'm afraid IF's time as a commercial entity has passed. To be brutally
> honest, IF is a historical curiousity, on par with the
> ship-in-a-bottle.
>
> IF is a labor of love, created by a dedicated few, and appreciated by
> (relatively) no one. I once heard a statistic float around here that
> there were only 20,000 people *world-wide* that were interested in IF.
>

Though I tend to agree that there is little opportunity for wealth, there
may yet be a market to make some small amount of money to encourage
developers to continue. There is virtually no way to make a living writing
short stories today. Think of all the great short story writers of the 20th
Century. They either wrote novels, had day jobs, or both; but the income
from their stories and their collected stories provided some degree of
compensation.

> With that small an audience, dreams of wealth are, I fear, misplaced.
> Especially with the strong tradition that IF-related works are free.
> TADS used to have a price, then the author chose to give it away. If
> an IF bedrock like TADS is free, why would anyone pay for a game
> created from it?
>

Most people in the IF world seem to be interested in creating as well as
consuming, but only a few have the capacity to create top quality games. I
think people are willing to pay for those games.

Magnus Olsson

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Dec 22, 2000, 5:55:45 AM12/22/00
to
In article <20001221233230...@ng-cs1.aol.com>,

Hmmm - an IF dating agency? :-)


--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, m...@pobox.com)
------ http://www.pobox.com/~mol ------

Matthew T. Russotto

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Dec 22, 2000, 10:02:10 AM12/22/00
to
In article <3A42C3...@adamcadre.ac>,

Adam Cadre <re...@adamcadre.ac> wrote:
}Ian Finley wrote:
}> Babel has been on download.com and AOL for some time and, if their
}> counts are accurate, has been downloaded around 100,000 times. Now,
}> this alone is MORE than enough compensation for me [...]
}
}And the fact that one of those 100,000 who grabbed Babel off of
}download.com was motivated to check out the IF community and eventually
}became my sweetie is more than enough compensation for ME. (Thanks,
}Ian!)

You mean there really are IF groupies?????

--
Matthew T. Russotto russ...@pond.com
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue."

Stephen Granade

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Dec 22, 2000, 11:38:37 AM12/22/00
to
wo...@one.net writes:

> jim_b...@my-deja.com wrote:
>
> >I've looked at some IF stories. Many are very good. Why don't readers
> >want to pay?
> >
> >Is it because readers expect them to be free? Is it because many
> >authors give their work away, thereby eliminating a market?
>
> I'm afraid IF's time as a commercial entity has passed. To be brutally
> honest, IF is a historical curiousity, on par with the
> ship-in-a-bottle.

Interactive fiction *as it stands now*. The *newsgroup-based*
community.

The text nature isn't the main problem. People pay to play text MUDs.

And the current IF community based around these newsgroups isn't the
only one there can be. As I said, most of my registrations for Grip
came from outside the community.

If you write a game for the community and release it only to the
community, yeah, you won't make anything. For many of us (including
me, most of the time), that's just fine. But that doesn't mean you
can't make money writing IF.

ninot...@my-deja.com

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Dec 22, 2000, 12:29:58 PM12/22/00
to
Usability God Jakob Nielsen's been cheering for micropayments for some
time -- he's high-profile enough that I have some hopes that someday
it'll catch on. It seems like an appropriate idiom for IF. I'd sure
pay a nickel to play a game. And I'd probably pay a quarter for the
walkthrough. :)

Nielsen's article:
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/980125.html


> Scott McCloud has been agitating for a micropayment system where
> people could access content, for, say, five cents -- a low enough


ninot...@deja.com

"They're all desperadoes, these kids, all of them with any life in
their veins; the girls as well as the boys; maybe more than the boys."
- Warner Fabian, "Flaming Youth", 1923

Joe Mason

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Dec 22, 2000, 1:42:28 PM12/22/00
to

It seems to me to be the exact opposite of what Stephen said was fairly
successful with LYG: they give you the bare bones needed ta play the game,
without extras like pretty boxes or illustrated manuals or dice.

Whereas the "standard" (since Infocom) way of marketing a text adventure is to
say, "Pay for this and you'll get lots of nice extras. Like a pretty box,
and an illustrated manual, and a microscopic space fleet."

(Just pointing out the obvious - I like the idea of peddling to CheapAss.)

Joe

Steve Derby

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Dec 22, 2000, 2:52:58 PM12/22/00
to
On Fri, 22 Dec 2000 01:18:14 GMT, ca...@wurb.com (Carl Muckenhoupt)
wrote:

>Another notable thing about the IF market is that the author/audience
>ratio is much smaller than that for conventional fiction. It's
>impossible to say this with any precision, but it seems like nearly
>everyone who plays the things also writes them.

This is the thing that's sort of bothered me during this whole
transaction. I think most of us (us being the IF community) would have
no problem paying the cost of a paperback book for a good work of IF,
but we're a limited community. It seems, then, that the solution would
be to widen the community or find some way to get the non-IF-community
public to "rediscover" interactive fiction.

This is easier said than done, of course, but a few thoughts come to
mind:

- During Infocom's heydey, their games were sold in chain bookstores
like Waldenbooks, which tapped a market that computer software stores
did not (though I've occasionally wondered if calling the games
"interactive novels" rather than "interactive fiction" would have made
them even more successful). I think there's a 21st century equivalent
to this: have an established online broker like Amazon.com or
barnesandnoble.com handle interactive fiction alongside their print
books. These sites could even offer the games for download and
"instant gratification." To realize the potential of this idea,
though, the online brokers would have to "feature" the interactive
fiction and help push it instead of just selling it. That's probably
not a risk any company like Amazon.com is willing to take.

- Shouldn't it be possible to find popular magazine contributors who
are sympathetic to interactive fiction? If so, couldn't these magazine
authors write feature articles on the subject? I don't mean just
computer magazines, but how about fiction magazines, too? How about
the New Yorker? How about entertainment magazines (like "People")?
There have been a few such articles in the last several years, but
every one I've seen has taken the "Text gaming is a dead art, but it
still has a cult following" approach. That's the wrong approach to
getting new people interested in the genre, IMO.

- Next year's IF comp is still a ways off, but it seems like an such
an event would be a great "hook" to inspire magazine writers to do
feature articles.

Anyway, publicity and exposure seem to be the keys to widening the
market. Even among the gamers out there, I have a feeling that most
either have no idea that IF is still being produced by hobbists or
have never even heard of "a maze of twisty passages, all alike."

The downside, as others have said in this thread, is that for every
really good work of interactive fiction, there are quite a few bad
ones. A consistently high quality of writing and design would have to
be guaranteed to newcomers. How about a list of
really-good-but-not-too-challenging games that make good "starting
points" for those curious about IF? (Photopia is an obvious choice for
inclusion in this list, for example)

Rich Pizor

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Dec 22, 2000, 3:40:48 PM12/22/00
to
In article <3a427684...@news.demon.nl>, Gadget
<gad...@SPAMBLOCKhaha.demon.nl> wrote:

> You have to have thousands of readers *per day* to make ads
> profitable.

More than that. I just got laid off from a site that was averaging
12k-20k uniques per day.

Rich

David Thornley

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Dec 22, 2000, 5:57:25 PM12/22/00
to
In article <Xns9011769DCknig...@209.155.56.81>,
Knight37 <knig...@gamespotmail.com> wrote:
>Quoting "Jon Ingold" <j...@ingold.fsnet.co.uk> from Wed, 20 Dec 2000
>23:18:00 GMT:
>>>
>>> Not really. Most of the IF we have is all free, downloaded off the
>>> internet. We don't want commercial IF anymore.
>>
There's lots of really good fiction out there in the public domain.
I've seen some of it on sale very cheaply, and there's people who
are loading it onto the net so you can download it for free. In
the meantime, there are libraries out there who will happily lend
me anything I like from a whole array of literature, both public
domain and under copyright, for free.

This didn't stop my from buying a copy of "Ready, Okay!".

I think free and commercial can coexist.

>I don't know how many IF fans I speak for, but for those I speak for:
>
>*we* do.
>
>
>Why?


>
>Because I will *presume* that commercial IF will be of a significantly
>higher quality than the average non-commercial IF. Of course, there have
>been some SPECTACULAR non-commercial IF lately, and I doubt seriously that
>any future commercial IF endeavors could seriously outclass some of those,
>but I would expect a commercial IF to give those games a good "run for the
>money" (pun intended). Ie, I'm in favor of commercial IF to reward authors
>for superb efforts.
>

There's two things here.

First, it would be nice to reward the authors, but the IF community
here is far too small to reward them with money. It would be
necessary to find a larger market. (Of course, the same is true
of ordinary fiction - it's really hard to make enough money to
justify writing the stuff for financial reasons.)

Second, it would force commercial IF to be of higher average quality.
To be successful, it wouldn't have to be better than any free IF, but
it would have to be better than a lot of free IF. There's a lot of
really good stuff available for free, and even more really bad stuff.
If I'm going to pay for the stuff, I want some sort of assurance that
I'm not likely to regret the purchase later. (The size of the
community comes into play here. If I'm going to buy IF on a regular
basis, I'm going to want to see reviews. Right now, giving out
review copies is going to cut noticeably into the market.)
--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
da...@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-

Message has been deleted

Vincent Lynch

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Dec 22, 2000, 8:02:39 PM12/22/00
to
Knight37 <knig...@gamespotmail.com> wrote in message
news:Xns9011769DCknig...@209.155.56.81...

> I don't know how many IF fans I speak for, but for those I speak for:
> *we* do.
>
> Why?
>
> Because I will *presume* that commercial IF will be of a significantly
> higher quality than the average non-commercial IF. Of course, there have
> been some SPECTACULAR non-commercial IF lately, and I doubt seriously that
> any future commercial IF endeavors could seriously outclass some of those,
> but I would expect a commercial IF to give those games a good "run for the
> money" (pun intended). Ie, I'm in favor of commercial IF to reward authors
> for superb efforts.

But from a purely selfish point of view, I don't care about rewarding
authors. I just want to find some way of ensuring that they produce more
and better games.

Commercial IF won't be better just by virtue of being commercial. If there
were enough money involved that authors could afford to give up paid work to
devote more time to IF, then that would make a difference, but I think
that's a long way off.

-Vincent

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Dec 22, 2000, 10:16:45 PM12/22/00
to
On Fri, 22 Dec 2000 18:42:28 GMT, jcm...@uwaterloo.ca (Joe Mason)
wrote:

>(Just pointing out the obvious - I like the idea of peddling to CheapAss.)

And the best part of the idea of peddling IF to Cheapass specifically
is that there's a chance that you could wind up with "feelies"
illustrated by the Foglios.

Heck, if you play your cards right, you might be able to get the
Foglios hooked on IF. And then we could see IF-oriented "What's New
(with Phil and Dixie)" in SPAG or Xyzzy News. Wouldn't that be
glorious?

Joe Mason

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Dec 22, 2000, 10:38:55 PM12/22/00
to
In article <3a4411d7...@goliath2.usenet-access.com>, Carl Muckenhoupt
wrote:

>On Fri, 22 Dec 2000 18:42:28 GMT, jcm...@uwaterloo.ca (Joe Mason)
>wrote:
>
>>(Just pointing out the obvious - I like the idea of peddling to CheapAss.)
>
>And the best part of the idea of peddling IF to Cheapass specifically
>is that there's a chance that you could wind up with "feelies"
>illustrated by the Foglios.
>
>Heck, if you play your cards right, you might be able to get the
>Foglios hooked on IF. And then we could see IF-oriented "What's New
>(with Phil and Dixie)" in SPAG or Xyzzy News. Wouldn't that be
>glorious?

Quick, send them a copy of "You Are a CHEF!" The title at least would fit
perfectly into their product listing (and that's the first step).

Joe

Knight37

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Dec 22, 2000, 8:57:40 AM12/22/00
to
Quoting dom...@aol.com (Domokov) from Thu, 21 Dec 2000 23:26:58 GMT:

>So, I'm trying to figure out some more effective method of possibly
>making a profit off of IF. It's hardly a high priority, I'd probably go
>on making IF even if the only audience available to play it was my dog
>Hamlet, but a starving college student is CONSTANTLY on the look-out for
>ways to make a buck. ;)

Whoa! Your DOG plays IF??!! COOL!!


--

Knight37

"I have an open mind.
Just not so open that the wind blows through."
-- Gerry Quinn, on csipg.rpg

Knight37

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Dec 22, 2000, 9:28:41 AM12/22/00
to
Quoting Adam Cadre <a...@adamcadre.ac> from Fri, 22 Dec 2000 02:28:19 GMT:

>Stephen Granade wrote:
>> Well, it's not clear that it didn't work because IF can't be
>> sold. Cascade Mtn. Publishing was trying to do three things at once --
>> IF, ebooks, and print books.
>
>True -- though the previous poster suggested that the return of
>commercial IF would be part of an e-book revolution of some sort,
>which sounded more like what CMP was trying to jump on the leading
>edge of than not.

I'm not sure the eBook market and the IF market are all that
strongly correlated. I'm sure there are quite a few people who do both, but
most of the people interested in IF are probably much more strongly
correlated with computer gaming than eBook reading. Getting some of the
larger computer gaming websites to feature an IF section on their pages
might go a long ways toward increasing awareness of IF and presumably
increasing the number of poeple in the IF community.

Now, if CMP was primarly aimed at hand-held PC's, then it makes more sense
to mix eBooks with IF. I think there's going to become (not sure when, but
sometime in the near future) a STRONG demand for content on those types of
machines. Interactive fiction is already "making a comeback" through these
devices, and it may be possible to make some kind of commercial renaissance
through them at some point. I think what will eventually happen is someone
will figure out a way to make a hand-held that can be both a "GameBoy" and
a portable "Franklin" and it will be big hit.

I'm surprised Nintendo hasn't come out with something FOR the GameBoy, with
so many units out there. Then again, the GameBoy does not really lend
itself to IF because it lacks a good interface for typing. Maybe if it had
voice recognition... Wouldn't it be cool if Activison released the Infocom
games for GameBoy with voice recognition? I'd buy it.

Man, this post really rambled on, didn't it? ;P

Beej Jørgensen

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Dec 22, 2000, 2:31:31 PM12/22/00
to
In article <91se8...@news2.newsguy.com>,
Damien Neil <ne...@centauri.org> wrote:
>If Zarf announced that his next game was $20, I'd send him a check
>right away.

Maybe it's time to put up a web page with a collection of author paypal
links. I'd tip real money for the free IF that I've enjoyed playing.

-Beej

Beej Jørgensen

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Dec 22, 2000, 2:58:30 PM12/22/00
to
>Maybe *we* could place banners, send spam mail, buy billboards, rent
>sky writers to get IF back into the mainstream?

I think spam is generally negative, but there are lots of free banner
exchanges out there that we could make use of. That's a fair amount of
eyes and certainly some of them will have the "oh yeah I remember those
games" response.

-Beej

Beej Jørgensen

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Dec 22, 2000, 3:10:08 PM12/22/00
to
In article <91u8f3$5am$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>, <okbl...@my-deja.com> wrote:
>In article <91u7oh$4rh$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>,
>OK, if I understand the PayPal thing, it's free for a personal account
>receiving up to $500 every six months.

That's for receiving credit card payments on a Personal account. You
can receive any amount of cash, however I suspect most paypal users have
credit card accounts only.

As for business accounts, they're free to have too. You pay fees
when receiving money (cash or CC) and when sending mass payments or
automatically moving money to another bank account on a daily basis.
The fees are quite reasonable:

Source of funds under $15 $15 - $500 $500
--------------- --------- ---------- ----------
Credit Card 30¢ 2.2% + 30¢ 2.2% + 30¢
Non-Credit Card 30¢ 1.6% + 30¢ $5

I'm not associated with Paypal in any way--I just think it's a great
service.

-Beej

Beej Jørgensen

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Dec 22, 2000, 3:20:29 PM12/22/00
to
In article <91ugba$7k6$1...@nntp9.atl.mindspring.net>,

Edward Lineberry <eline...@iname.com> wrote:
>Releasing IF as shareware or crippleware with a single site handling credit
>card payments for shareware

A recently released ebook (The Satori Effect) did that to a certain
extent. It was crippleware in that only the first half of the book was
released for free, and you had to paypal him money to receive the other
half.

By the time you get through half the book, you're hooked and want the
rest of it for sure. (If you don't make it through half the book, well,
then you obviously don't even want to read it and shouldn't have to
pay.)

Zork had a demo version, but it was really not that much of the game. I
say go ahead and release a full half of the game as crippleware. If
people are hooked, they'll buy the other half.

You might be able to recoup some of your piracy losses by encouraging
payment on game startup ("If you have paid, thanks! If not, please do
so at http...") or by mailing back necessary feelies (like maps, hints,
or required background for finishing the game) for the money.

-Beej

Rich Pizor

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Dec 24, 2000, 6:48:01 PM12/24/00