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ChicagoDave

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Dec 8, 2006, 9:58:28 PM12/8/06
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Over the years I have long been an advocate for commercial Interactive
Fiction. Much of my direct involvement in the community has been to
promote IF both internally in the community and to some degree
externally as well. I have always believed that Interactive Fiction
never truly lost its potential, but that other things took on a more
prominent role in computer entertainment, namely video gaming. But no
one has ever proven (to me) that IF is not still a commercially viable
product-base.

People have tried to do it poorly and others have done it on a small
scale. The poor attempts have resulted in the expected results. The
small scale attempts have had a range of success, the most obvious and
noted is Peter Nepstad's 1893: A World's Fair Mystery.

Over the past few years I have been contemplating developing my own
business plan for a commercial IF enterprise. I have concentrated my
thoughts on why this is such a difficult business to create and created
a bullet list of points that needed to be addressed:

- The company needed to develop a specific style in how it produces and
markets its games.
- The company needed to be developed and run professionally.
- The company needed to include advisors and gather outside expertise
in order to improve the chances of success.
- The company needed to have an internal process that allowed games to
be created in an organized and professional manner and in a reasonably
short period of time.

Those were the points that I thought were the most critical aspects for
developing a new commercial IF publishing company.

I have gathered a group of forty advisors, many from within the IF
community and quite a few from outside the community.

I have developed a business plan that includes:
- how the business will operate
- identifies the legal expertise for incorporation, contracts, and
copyright management
- identifies accounting procedures for all aspects of the business
- identifies the roles required to run the business
- identifies the plan to develop market analysis
- identifies types of products WCP will focus on at first and how these
products will be constructed and delivered to the public

I have begin the process of contracting designers, writers,
programmers, testers, and other business personnel.

The business will officially open in 2007, but has already begun
operating.

What follows is an overview of the process by which WCP will
operate....

WCP will produce and market high quality interactive fiction games for
entertainment and educational uses.

WCP will operate an imprint website at textfyre.com and textfyre.net.
The imprint of all entertainment products will be TextFyre.

WCP will develop "worlds" where games will take place. Each world will
have the potential of re-using the environment and the characters for
games that run in a "series". Each series will have at least three
"episodes" and depending upon popularity, more.

WCP will contract with World Designers in order to develop vibrant and
appealing series' and episodes. Designers will be offered a stake in
the sales of all episodes developed in "their" world.

WCP will contract with talented writers that will work in tandem with
the designers. Writers will be paid on a work-for-hire basis at a
standard per-word rate. Unless otherwise negotiated, all works will be
copyright-assigned to WCP.

WCP will contract with programmers to take the designs and writing and
implement them in a non-standard implementation of the z-machine. The
"non-standard" part comes from several factors which we will share if
people are interested, but it has mostly to do with the "interpreter"
we plan to use, and the addition of features not currently available in
the standard.

WCP will contract with testers to fully alpha and beta test the games
to ensure high quality.

WCP will contract with graphic artists, flash programmers, and
marketing personnel to create packaging and website content that will
help create interest.

WCP will contract with others to fill roles for business management,
product development, and more.

WCP will also invite any author with a publicly available game to allow
us to "reprocess" their game into "our format" with all the marketing
materials and make it available from the TextFyre.Com website. The
author will have complete control over this process, including whether
the game is offered for free or at a price. All proceeds will be
directly passed on to the original author or authors.

I will write another post in a day or so with more details about the
development processes. I will also layout the rules if anyone is
interested in becoming a designer, writer, programmer, tester, or
product manager.

Sincerely,

David Cornelson, Founder
Westfield Chandler Publishing, Inc.

PJ

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Dec 9, 2006, 10:59:23 AM12/9/06
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ChicagoDave wrote:
> Over the past few years I have been contemplating developing my own
> business plan for a commercial IF enterprise. I have concentrated my
> thoughts on why this is such a difficult business to create and created
> a bullet list of points that needed to be addressed:
>
> - The company needed to develop a specific style in how it produces and
> markets its games.
> - The company needed to be developed and run professionally.
> - The company needed to include advisors and gather outside expertise
> in order to improve the chances of success.
> - The company needed to have an internal process that allowed games to
> be created in an organized and professional manner and in a reasonably
> short period of time.

That is an interesting list. I would have thought you would also have
to add that:

- The company -- to lower costs and maximize community interest -- will
necessarily manage an Internet-based collaborative process for design,
development, and distribution of the games;
- To enable this Internet-based process, the company needs to create
and widely distribute a common integrated development environment
(IDE)/game engine for IF (and potentially, related games) that
automates game production as much as possible, maintains the libraries
of world objects, provides source code management, testing facilities,
and so on required for effective virtual team collaboration;
- The IDE/game engine should include: automatic code generation from
input of a formatted script; object code generation from scene & map
layout views; drag and drop "standard" objects -- doors, windows,
scenery, etc.; style libraries that set window, font, colors, movement
controls, etc., automatically, and everything else along these lines
that you can think of, including the kitchen sink;
- The company needs to be clear that while IF publishing is its initial
and most significant focus, to survive as a commercial enterprise, all
intellectual property created -- game worlds, stories, scripts,
animations, objects, etc. -- should and will be leveraged into as wide
as possible a commercial distribution, including other game platforms,
other game styles, and other graphical/text formats (film, DVD,
syndicated cartoons, graphic novels, print novels, etc.).

Of course, some of that may be in your business plan details, rather
than just the highlight below.

(SNIP)


> WCP will also invite any author with a publicly available game to allow
> us to "reprocess" their game into "our format" with all the marketing
> materials and make it available from the TextFyre.Com website. The
> author will have complete control over this process, including whether
> the game is offered for free or at a price. All proceeds will be
> directly passed on to the original author or authors.

This is conceptually similar to a post I put up a few years ago about
"leveraging the IF Archive" for commercial uses. A lot of people
ranked on that concept, but I still think it's a great idea. I would
caution, however, that you will have to back off on the phrasing about
"authors have complete control over this process" and "all proceeds"
going to the "original author." In making this available, you are
doing a service for the author. If their games are salable, then
certainly some sort of base cost+profit to WCP as publisher would be
required to not have it be a money drain on the company. (Usually, the
author gets royalties after the product makes back its costs, correct?)
And if part of the company ethos is to "re-publish" some of the
classics for free, then you would certainly have to retain control over
what games and how many you are going to enable in this fashion.
Otherwise, you are talking about a potential rock around the neck of
your young company -- trying to be so altruistic to the community that
you forget the whole purpose is to be a "commercial," i.e.,
profit-making enterprise.

I think this is a brilliant idea. I sincerely hope it is successful.
I admire the fact that you are trying to make a reality what so many
folks on this site have bandied around for a long while. I noticed you
didn't mention any market analysis you may have done. That will always
be a sticking point until there is buzz about these types of games
again. But I think the real key is the IDE/game engine -- if you could
perfect that, then you really could get most of your list -- the style,
the speed, the professionalism, etc. -- going. I think it will be
critical particularly in that you implicitly are planning to rely on
the extended virtual IF community for a lot of the
inspiration/writing/content. Infocom had all of its folks working
together in more or less the same office, using the same tools,
following the same basic process, and still failed. With the virtual
hobbyist community that currently exists, you have a lot of experienced
talent, but getting them to work on the same page over the extended
Internet world will be challenging without having your key toolset
enforcing and enabling (and to some extent, driving) the process.

Well, that's my two cents. If I had a million bucks to spare, I'd
happily invest myself. Keep us up to date on what's going on!

PJ

ChicagoDave

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Dec 9, 2006, 11:18:49 AM12/9/06
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> PJ wrote:
> That is an interesting list. I would have thought you would also have
> to add that:
> - The company -- to lower costs and maximize community interest -- will
> necessarily manage an Internet-based collaborative process for design,
> development, and distribution of the games;

This has already been designed and is in development.

> - To enable this Internet-based process, the company needs to create
> and widely distribute a common integrated development environment
> (IDE)/game engine for IF (and potentially, related games) that
> automates game production as much as possible, maintains the libraries
> of world objects, provides source code management, testing facilities,
> and so on required for effective virtual team collaboration;

I actually disagree with this. I've tried to take IF development down
this road (see Visual Inform in the archive) and it just doesn't work.
IF, above all else, is about story-telling. With that in mind, I have
developed a system where the designer and writer collaborate in
tempated documents. The contents of these documents are then ported to
the product management system in order to handle the source and texts
and manage testing.

> - The IDE/game engine should include: automatic code generation from
> input of a formatted script; object code generation from scene & map
> layout views; drag and drop "standard" objects -- doors, windows,
> scenery, etc.; style libraries that set window, font, colors, movement
> controls, etc., automatically, and everything else along these lines
> that you can think of, including the kitchen sink;

I don't believe any of this is necessary. A good IF designer will
understand these concepts and be able to draw them up in a narrative
screenplay paradigm.

> - The company needs to be clear that while IF publishing is its initial
> and most significant focus, to survive as a commercial enterprise, all
> intellectual property created -- game worlds, stories, scripts,
> animations, objects, etc. -- should and will be leveraged into as wide
> as possible a commercial distribution, including other game platforms,
> other game styles, and other graphical/text formats (film, DVD,
> syndicated cartoons, graphic novels, print novels, etc.).

This is why I mentioned that all designs and writing will be
"copyright-assigned" to WCP. This is unless an author/designer we want
badly enough to publish chooses to negotiate a different deal. For the
most part, I will be working with writers that are not currently in the
IF community and as of today, I am the only designer. I believe I will
have a couple more designers "in the fold" shortly though.

> This is conceptually similar to a post I put up a few years ago about
> "leveraging the IF Archive" for commercial uses. A lot of people
> ranked on that concept, but I still think it's a great idea. I would
> caution, however, that you will have to back off on the phrasing about
> "authors have complete control over this process" and "all proceeds"

This is marketing. If we have to put up a few hundred dollars to reuse
proven content, we will happily do that. It helps the company increase
its "library" and it allows the author to market their game to a wider
audience. One thing to note is that these games will be available for
download only. If the author wants them available on hard copy, that
will require a minimal charge so that WCP can recoup expenses. I
imagine this would be a fairly small amount of money though.

David C.

PJ

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Dec 9, 2006, 3:51:12 PM12/9/06
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It's your venture, so enjoy running it! I expect everyone here will
have an opinion about if if you succeed and, unfortunately, even more
so if you fail. But it sounds like you've considered every obvious
item and have a good advisory team. I personally hope it succeeds,
whether you take my advice or not. Again, good luck, and make sure you
offer the denizens of R.A.I.F. access to the IPO pool when you get
there.

PJ

steve....@gmail.com

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Dec 9, 2006, 5:50:38 PM12/9/06
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Best of luck. Sounds like you're exaggerating quite a few things, but
whatever; maybe you're exaggerating things so you can get more
financial support. Good luck with that too.

The name is pretty unfortunate (which one of you is Chandler?) --
Cornelston Publishing sounds much nicer, and not only because that's
authentically your name (though authenticity certainly helps), for
Cornelston Publishing would be "high" without dripping pretention. As
I'm sure you know, it translates into modern Cornerstone Publishing,
which would also be good. Or if you want to insist on dropping the 't'
so it sounds like the -son sufffix, you still have a couple good
modernizations to choose. Hornboy -- or better, Horndog Publishing,
'cause you my homie.

Otherwise it sounds really great, with the exception of the writing.
For instance, just pulling the first half of the first sentence...

> Over the years I have long been an advocate for [...]

Check your redundance, holms... -- unless "long" is supposed to modify
"I"?! In which case, well done indeed (!!) -- and maybe Longhorn
Publishing in that case? No, one wouldn't want to brag too much about
it.

Seriously, even without the glaring redundance, "I have long been an
advocate for" is unnecessarily wordy -- I think you're grasping for the
much simpler "long have I advocated." Maybe amongst your 40+ advisors
you should include a copy editor?

ChicagoDave

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Dec 9, 2006, 6:21:28 PM12/9/06
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> steve....@gmail.com wrote:
> Best of luck.

Thanks Steve. I appreciate the support.

David C.

steve....@gmail.com

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Dec 9, 2006, 10:41:49 PM12/9/06
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Definitely. If you need some help proofing a business proposal, or more
realistically, if you're producing a contraption designed to blow smoke
up everyone's ass, and maybe you would like to borrow a fan. Actually I
have two box-fans and one rotary. You're supplying the smoke, right?

I had another idea about the name. How's "Westchandlerfeld Publishing"
sound to you? It has the grace of being pronouncable in any number of
ways, along the same lines as Worchestershire (sauce), which can be
pronounced "woosher" "werksher" "werkstershur" "werkstersheer" although
never the full 4 1/2 syllables of "worchestershire."

Anyway, I decided if we're going the other route, I want to be Chandler.

James Cunningham

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Dec 9, 2006, 10:55:01 PM12/9/06
to

Doctor, is this what you meant when you warned against "getting
derailed by needless
invective"?

Let's try to get along and ease off. Heh.

Best,
James

torredifuoco

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Dec 10, 2006, 3:59:38 AM12/10/06
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Il 9 Dec 2006 08:18:49 -0800, "ChicagoDave" ha scritto:

>> PJ wrote:
>> This is conceptually similar to a post I put up a few years ago about
>> "leveraging the IF Archive" for commercial uses. A lot of people
>> ranked on that concept, but I still think it's a great idea. I would
>> caution, however, that you will have to back off on the phrasing about
>> "authors have complete control over this process" and "all proceeds"
>
>This is marketing. If we have to put up a few hundred dollars to reuse
>proven content, we will happily do that. It helps the company increase
>its "library" and it allows the author to market their game to a wider
>audience. One thing to note is that these games will be available for
>download only. If the author wants them available on hard copy, that
>will require a minimal charge so that WCP can recoup expenses. I
>imagine this would be a fairly small amount of money though.

let me understand. what does it mean "reuse"? means you plan to
dismantle the ifarchive brick by brick? do you plan to destroy the
freeware community fyi? say plotkin accepts to "reprocess" spider &
web into "your format". would you take it off the ifarchive? and his
copyright would be yours, right? should i pay for the copy on my hd?

--
max "torredifuoco" bianchi

xexagon

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Dec 10, 2006, 5:27:46 AM12/10/06
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On Dec 10, 8:59 am, torredifuoco


<bianchi.massimili...@TOGLIQUESTOtiscali.it> wrote:
> Il 9 Dec 2006 08:18:49 -0800, "ChicagoDave" ha scritto:
>
> >> PJ wrote:
> >> This is conceptually similar to a post I put up a few years ago about
> >> "leveraging the IF Archive" for commercial uses. A lot of people
> >> ranked on that concept, but I still think it's a great idea. I would
> >> caution, however, that you will have to back off on the phrasing about
> >> "authors have complete control over this process" and "all proceeds"
>
> >This is marketing. If we have to put up a few hundred dollars to reuse
> >proven content, we will happily do that. It helps the company increase
> >its "library" and it allows the author to market their game to a wider
> >audience. One thing to note is that these games will be available for
> >download only. If the author wants them available on hard copy, that
> >will require a minimal charge so that WCP can recoup expenses. I

> >imagine this would be a fairly small amount of money though.let me understand. what does it mean "reuse"? means you plan to


> dismantle the ifarchive brick by brick? do you plan to destroy the
> freeware community fyi? say plotkin accepts to "reprocess" spider &
> web into "your format". would you take it off the ifarchive? and his
> copyright would be yours, right? should i pay for the copy on my hd?
>
> --
> max "torredifuoco" bianchi

I would hope not. Up to the authors, I guess, but I can't see how
products that have been free for years would suddenly become
commercially successful, no matter how they're dressed up (or if
they're of a sufficiently 'high quality', whatever that means).
Perhaps offer old titles as a free taster of what the format can offer?

Chicago Dave - a small point; avoid using Flash to promote your games
on the textfyre website; I have yet to see one useful implementation
of Flash. This is web 2.0, man; put some fancy AJAX in there.

mikegentry

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Dec 10, 2006, 9:51:26 AM12/10/06
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James Cunningham wrote:
> On 2006-12-09 22:41:49 -0500, steve....@gmail.com said:
> >
> > Definitely. If you need some help proofing a business proposal, or more
> > realistically, if you're producing a contraption designed to blow smoke
> > up everyone's ass, and maybe you would like to borrow a fan. Actually I
> > have two box-fans and one rotary. You're supplying the smoke, right?
>
> Doctor, is this what you meant when you warned against "getting
> derailed by needless
> invective"?

Surely not. Rather, it must be an example of the "of the authentic
interest, faith, and
meaningful content" that we all need to be respectful of from now on.

Jacek Pudlo

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Dec 10, 2006, 10:23:18 AM12/10/06
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"mikegentry" <mi...@edromia.com> wrote in message

> Surely not. Rather, it must be an example of the "of the authentic
> interest, faith, and
> meaningful content" that we all need to be respectful of from now on.

It's even a bit much for me, and that's probably saying something.


Adam Thornton

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Dec 10, 2006, 11:52:42 AM12/10/06
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In article <1165704638....@l12g2000cwl.googlegroups.com>,

<steve....@gmail.com> wrote:
>it translates into modern Cornerstone Publishing,
>which would also be good.

Because "Cornerstone" has such fine connotations in the IF world.
*Well* played.

>Or if you want to insist on dropping the 't'
>so it sounds like the -son sufffix, you still have a couple good
>modernizations to choose. Hornboy -- or better, Horndog Publishing,
>'cause you my homie.

And, you know, for months at a time, I'm totally convinced that Breslin
and Jacek are two different people, and then he comes out with something
like *this*, and I wonder again. If Breslin/Pudlo are the same
individual, it's a truly magnificent act of dementedly-different sock
puppet creation.

Adam

ChicagoDave

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Dec 10, 2006, 12:14:39 PM12/10/06
to
> torredifuoco wrote:
> let me understand. what does it mean "reuse"? means you plan to
> dismantle the ifarchive brick by brick? do you plan to destroy the
> freeware community fyi? say plotkin accepts to "reprocess" spider &
> web into "your format". would you take it off the ifarchive? and his
> copyright would be yours, right? should i pay for the copy on my hd?

Absolutely not and I would even have the web pages make it clear, if
the author wished it, that the original work was freely available and
where to find it.

As I said, the control of putting anyone's game on textfyre is entirely
in the author's hands. The only thing I will do is determine what
content is appropriate for textfyre.com.

The benefit to the author is that TextFyre will offer a venue for the
game to be seen in a forum that will be heavily marketed. If this leads
people to find the free community, all the better as far as I'm
concerned.

Since I plan to market to younger people, some content may not be
appropriate. I plan on following the traditional ratings guidelines and
if I have to create a separate "imprint" for mature material, I will.
Or it's possible that the ratings will be enough. This is one of the
many decisions that are still open in my business plan.

And if after any amount of time the author changes their mind, I will
remove the page and the content.

Copyright-assignment will only be negotiated on new material either
developed in conjunction with WCP or brought to WCP in whole and still
unpublished.

David C.

Jacek Pudlo

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Dec 10, 2006, 1:00:27 PM12/10/06
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"Adam Thornton" <ad...@fsf.net> skrev i meddelandet
news:elhe0q$9q1$3...@fileserver.fsf.net...

> In article <1165704638....@l12g2000cwl.googlegroups.com>,
> <steve....@gmail.com> wrote:
>>it translates into modern Cornerstone Publishing,
>>which would also be good.
>
> Because "Cornerstone" has such fine connotations in the IF world.
> *Well* played.
>
>>Or if you want to insist on dropping the 't'
>>so it sounds like the -son sufffix, you still have a couple good
>>modernizations to choose. Hornboy -- or better, Horndog Publishing,
>>'cause you my homie.
>
> And, you know, for months at a time, I'm totally convinced that Breslin
> and Jacek are two different people,

Is that what you do with your spare time, Adam? Ponder who I am? For months
at a time? Though the idea that I so intimately inhabit the thoughts of
another man is certainly flattering and highly erotic, isn't your devotion
pledged to others?

> and then he comes out with something
> like *this*, and I wonder again. If Breslin/Pudlo are the same
> individual, it's a truly magnificent act of dementedly-different sock
> puppet creation.

Breslin appears to exist independantly of me. He just finished teaching his
English 101 course.

http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~breslin/syllabus.html

The reason why I can't be Breslin? Buffalo is the cleanest and friendliest
city in the nation. *Way* too goyisch for my taste. I wouldn't last a week.


Jacek Pudlo

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Dec 10, 2006, 1:23:10 PM12/10/06
to
"Illinois Jacek"

Dear hick,

If you're going to impersonate me, how about actually putting in some work
and mimicking some of my more distinguishing traits? Satire? Caricature? My
famously malicious tongue? My sharp wit? In other words, how about some
*content*? So far your schtick is limited to my name. Surprise us. Amuse us.
Show us that you are *worthy* of being my Doppelgänger. But whatever you do,
don't bore us.


steve....@gmail.com

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Dec 10, 2006, 1:35:40 PM12/10/06
to

James Cunningham wrote:
> > Anyway, I decided if we're going the other route, I want to be Chandler.
>
> Doctor, is this what you meant when you warned against "getting
> derailed by needless
> invective"?

No, getting derailed by needless invective would be if some schmuck
somehow came to the extremely odd conclusion that I couldn't possibly
be joking, and decided this would be a perfect opportunity for
condescension.

James Cunningham

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Dec 10, 2006, 1:54:17 PM12/10/06
to
On 2006-12-10 13:35:40 -0500, steve....@gmail.com said:

>
> James Cunningham wrote:
>>> Anyway, I decided if we're going the other route, I want to be Chandler.
>>
>> Doctor, is this what you meant when you warned against "getting
>> derailed by needless
>> invective"?
>
> No, getting derailed by needless invective would be if some schmuck
> somehow came to the extremely odd conclusion that I couldn't possibly
> be joking, and decided this would be a perfect opportunity for
> condescension.

Cough.

http://groups-beta.google.com/group/rec.arts.int-fiction/msg/4f141773eb3d8c9f?

or

1161621273....@i42g2000cwa.googlegroups.com

"David Cornelson is the RAIF version of that Dilbert (cartoon)
character, whose macromanagerial notions are, well, laughable."
...
"He basically brainstorms insanely bad ways of doing things, without
ever actually trying anything out, or even intending to try anything
out. "
...
"Like I mentioned above, Cornelson doesn't sound like he's actually
moving anything.)"

No, I suppose if someone thought you were engaging in invective against
Dave, he *would* be a schmuck! Every day you amuse me just a *little
bit more*.

Best,
James


greg

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Dec 10, 2006, 7:07:15 PM12/10/06
to
ChicagoDave wrote:
> - The company needed to develop a specific style in how it produces and
> markets its games.
> - The company needed to be developed and run professionally.
> - The company needed to include advisors and gather outside expertise
> in order to improve the chances of success.
> - The company needed to have an internal process that allowed games to
> be created in an organized and professional manner and in a reasonably
> short period of time.

All of those statements seem rather generic and could
apply to any business. The real problem to be addressed
is how to make textual IF attractive to today's audience
that is accustomed to nothing but video games.

> WCP will operate an imprint website at textfyre.com and textfyre.net.
> The imprint of all entertainment products will be TextFyre.

Er... I hope you're aware that the original Textfire was
a hoax, and perhaps not the best thing to associate
yourself with if you want to be taken seriously in the
IF community.

> WCP will develop "worlds" where games will take place. Each world will
> have the potential of re-using the environment and the characters for
> games that run in a "series".

This sounds like an interesting idea.

> WCP will contract with World Designers in order to develop vibrant and
> appealing series' and episodes. Designers will be offered a stake in
> the sales of all episodes developed in "their" world.
>
> WCP will contract with talented writers that will work in tandem with
> the designers. Writers will be paid on a work-for-hire basis at a
> standard per-word rate.

So "designers" get royalties, but "writers" don't? That
doesn't sound very fair.

Also, I'm not sure you'll be able to separate the roles
of designer, writer and programmer to that extent. Much
of what makes a fictional world "vibrant and appealing"
is the stories and characters which make it up, which
is the realm of the writer. And much IF tends to be
produced by one person playing the role of both writer
and programmer. Even Infocom's commercial games were
each more or less the work of a single person, as I
understand.

> WCP will contract with programmers to take the designs and writing and
> implement them in a non-standard implementation of the z-machine.

As long as you're using a non-standard interpreter,
you might want to consider basing it on something more
modern such as Tads. The z-machine is a big pile of
quirks whose main redeeming feature is that there are
a lot of existing interpreters around for it. Without
that, there's little left to recommend it.

> addition of features not currently available in
> the standard.

Can you give some examples? There might be an existing
non-z-machine-based system that already provides them.

--
Greg

Adam Thornton

unread,
Dec 10, 2006, 7:40:13 PM12/10/06
to
In article <%WXeh.26088$E02....@newsb.telia.net>,

Jacek Pudlo <ja...@jacek.jacek> wrote:
>Is that what you do with your spare time, Adam? Ponder who I am? For months
>at a time? Though the idea that I so intimately inhabit the thoughts of
>another man is certainly flattering and highly erotic, isn't your devotion
>pledged to others?

Hey, fantasy is allowed. If you want an actual, physical, antler job,
then I'll need to do some negotiating, of course.

>Breslin appears to exist independantly of me. He just finished teaching his
>English 101 course.
>
>http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~breslin/syllabus.html

Well, OK, so Breslin has an independently-verifiable existence. But, my
friend, do *you*?

>The reason why I can't be Breslin? Buffalo is the cleanest and friendliest
>city in the nation. *Way* too goyisch for my taste. I wouldn't last a week.

Way too goyisch? I'll give you that. Clean and friendly? Buffalo?
The hell?

But then, maybe your true self can only be revealed on Usenet, as you
are forced into the straitjacketed lies imposed by the horror of Lake
Effect New York. Stranger things have happened.

Adam


Jacek Pudlo

unread,
Dec 10, 2006, 7:45:43 PM12/10/06
to
"greg"

> The real problem to be addressed
> is how to make textual IF attractive to today's audience
> that is accustomed to nothing but video games.

How about targeting a different demographic? Instead of trying to make IF
more attractive to people whose idea of entertainment are video games, make
it attractive to people who read fiction. Isn't a text adventure closer to a
novel than to a 3D-shooter? After all, both novels and IF are brainy,
textual and narrative in nature, none of which applies to video games.

Richard Bos

unread,
Dec 10, 2006, 8:11:12 PM12/10/06
to
"xexagon" <leon.pat...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Chicago Dave - a small point; avoid using Flash to promote your games
> on the textfyre website; I have yet to see one useful implementation
> of Flash. This is web 2.0, man; put some fancy AJAX in there.

Argh, no! This is an IF website, not some fancy BoobTube alternative -
use proper HTML already! There are enough websites out there that
require JavaScript for no good reason; we don't need any more.

Richard

georgeo...@gmail.com

unread,
Dec 10, 2006, 8:47:20 PM12/10/06
to
Consider the life of writers of 'tie-ins', novels based on original TV
series, video games, and the like:

<quote
href="http://leegoldberg.typepad.com/a_writers_life/iamtw/index.html">

I got an email from someone who has written his first original tie-in
novel, which will be released very soon in paperback by a major
publisher. He was paid a flat, work-for-hire fee of $5000 to produce a
90,000 word novel and was put through at least one revision.

</quote>

>From the same source:

<quote>

Publisher's Weekly reports that the #2 bestselling trade paperback in
the nation is HALO: GHOSTS OF THE ONYX by Eric Nylund...outselling Amy
Tan, Lisa See, Paula Coelho, Nicholas Sparks, Clive Cussler, Jodi
Picoult, Jan Karon and Elizabeth Kostova to name a few. The book is in
its second printing with 180,000 copies in print so far. Not bad for a
tie-in novel based on a video game. While critics may sneer at tie-ins,
they are wildly popular with readers and publishers are increasingly
depending on them to prop up their bottom-lines.

</quote>

So while it may not be totally fair that the writer doesn't get
royalties, and the team approach may partly deny the convention of
writer as fountainhead, I don't see either approach as an obstacle.

Jacek Pudlo

unread,
Dec 10, 2006, 9:34:07 PM12/10/06
to
"Adam Thornton"

> Well, OK, so Breslin has an independently-verifiable existence. But, my
> friend, do *you*?

Didn't Emily Short establish once and for all that I'm a child-molesting Jew
skulking on a Baltic island, looking for young juicy prey?

>>The reason why I can't be Breslin? Buffalo is the cleanest and friendliest
>>city in the nation. *Way* too goyisch for my taste. I wouldn't last a
>>week.
>
> Way too goyisch? I'll give you that. Clean and friendly? Buffalo?
> The hell?
>
> But then, maybe your true self can only be revealed on Usenet, as you
> are forced into the straitjacketed lies imposed by the horror of Lake
> Effect New York. Stranger things have happened.

I'm a recurring character in Ms Short's erotic fantasies. Do you know what
it means to be narrated by Ms Short? What incredibly banal dialogue, puffed
up to appear universal and profound? Ever played _Galatea_? _Best of Three_?
You really think Lake Effect scares me?

Adam Thornton

unread,
Dec 10, 2006, 11:16:01 PM12/10/06
to
In article <zs3fh.26138$E02....@newsb.telia.net>,

Jacek Pudlo <ja...@jacek.jacek> wrote:
>"Adam Thornton"
>> Well, OK, so Breslin has an independently-verifiable existence. But, my
>> friend, do *you*?
>Didn't Emily Short establish once and for all that I'm a child-molesting Jew
>skulking on a Baltic island, looking for young juicy prey?

How do I know you're not Emily Short?

>> But then, maybe your true self can only be revealed on Usenet, as you
>> are forced into the straitjacketed lies imposed by the horror of Lake
>> Effect New York. Stranger things have happened.
>I'm a recurring character in Ms Short's erotic fantasies. Do you know what
>it means to be narrated by Ms Short? What incredibly banal dialogue, puffed
>up to appear universal and profound? Ever played _Galatea_? _Best of Three_?
>You really think Lake Effect scares me?

I thought I *was* the model for Grant. Now I'm going to go sulk into my
half-caf vanilla soy skim latte and glare witheringly through my little
rectangular glasses. You mean, mean man.

Lake Effect scares *me*, and I can decapitate truckers with single,
effortless swipes.

Adam

ChicagoDave

unread,
Dec 11, 2006, 12:34:56 AM12/11/06
to
> greg wrote:
> All of those statements seem rather generic and could
> apply to any business. The real problem to be addressed
> is how to make textual IF attractive to today's audience
> that is accustomed to nothing but video games.

There's no proof that IF is not a viable product. There is only proof
that video games _are_ a viable product. I'd even say that there is
proof that IF _is_ a viable product. Infocom didn't fail because they
produced IF. They failed because they were bought by a video game
company that didn't want to put any effort into a niche market. The
history of Infocom's demise is very clear on this point. They got away
from what they did well and they partnered with a company that didn't
care.

IF is a niche market and I believe a viable one. On the education side
it might just be even more.

> Er... I hope you're aware that the original Textfire was
> a hoax, and perhaps not the best thing to associate
> yourself with if you want to be taken seriously in the
> IF community.

You assume my market is the community. Outside of the community no one
will have any clue about the original intent of textfire.com. I
actually wanted the original name, but the guy that owns it wanted
$25,000. The name was a great idea. Even Ivan wanted to start a real
business with the name back then (there are posts about this), but it
never seemed to happen.

> > WCP will contract with talented writers that will work in tandem with
> > the designers. Writers will be paid on a work-for-hire basis at a
> > standard per-word rate.
>
> So "designers" get royalties, but "writers" don't? That
> doesn't sound very fair.

I think it's entirely fair if someone contracts to do a job at a set
fee, does the job, and gets paid the agreed upon amount.

> Also, I'm not sure you'll be able to separate the roles
> of designer, writer and programmer to that extent.

I've already proven (to myself) that this is possible in dealing with
writers and programmers on my initial project up to this point. It may
not be the way of the hobbiest community, but it is the way I see my
business model functioning. I also don't understand how this isn't just
another form of collaboration.

> As long as you're using a non-standard interpreter,
> you might want to consider basing it on something more
> modern such as Tads.

The z-machine is more than sufficient for developing high quality IF. I
will probably move to glulx at some point and won't rule out using TADS
3 or Hugo. It just so happens that I'm starting with the z-machine. I
wouldn't read too much into that either.

David C.

Magnus Olsson

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Dec 11, 2006, 7:14:53 AM12/11/06
to
Just out of curiosity: why is the company called Westfield Chandler?


--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se)
PGP Public Key available at http://www.df.lth.se/~mol

David Whyld

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Dec 11, 2006, 7:50:36 AM12/11/06
to
Assuming the Westfield Chandler idea takes off (and I really hope it
does), will you be setting up a separate forum to allow people to
discuss the games? Not wanting to turn this into another forums -v-
newsgroups debate, but I'm guessing the majority of people who are
likely to buy commercial IF will be those from outside the immediate
community. The majority of whom probably won't even know what a
newsgroup is and wouldn't want the hassle of downloading a newsreader
and configuring it. They're far more likely to be aware of what a
forum is.

Also, it'd be nice to have an intelligent discussion about something
like this without the likes of Pudlo and Breslin chiming in all the
time.

tjg92

unread,
Dec 11, 2006, 10:14:21 AM12/11/06
to

ChicagoDave wrote:
> Since I plan to market to younger people, some content may not be
> appropriate. I plan on following the traditional ratings guidelines and
> if I have to create a separate "imprint" for mature material, I will.
> Or it's possible that the ratings will be enough. This is one of the
> many decisions that are still open in my business plan.

Have you considered ESRB? It's standard to all video games today pretty
much (obviously not in the freeware community) and it will make you
look more "proffesional".

Also consider that you're going to have more luck with the fiction
reading community, which is hardly a younger audience.

ChicagoDave

unread,
Dec 11, 2006, 10:44:54 AM12/11/06
to
> Magnus Olsson wrote:
> Just out of curiosity: why is the company called Westfield Chandler?

I live on Westfield Course. Chandler is the street on the opposite of
the park that's behind my house. Pretty meaningless, but I like it.

David C.

Nathan

unread,
Dec 11, 2006, 1:41:27 PM12/11/06
to
David Whyld wrote:
> I'm guessing the majority of people who are
> likely to buy commercial IF will be those from outside the immediate
> community. The majority of whom probably won't even know what a
> newsgroup is and wouldn't want the hassle of downloading a newsreader
> and configuring it. They're far more likely to be aware of what a
> forum is.

No need for a forum. That ship has sailed. We have Google Groups now.
And it's not nearly as Usenet-hostile as it used to be.

Adam Thornton

unread,
Dec 11, 2006, 1:43:03 PM12/11/06
to
In article <1165815296.2...@j44g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>,

ChicagoDave <david.c...@gmail.com> wrote:
>Infocom didn't fail because they
>produced IF. They failed because they were bought by a video game
>company that didn't want to put any effort into a niche market. The
>history of Infocom's demise is very clear on this point.

Well, no.

They failed because they spent themselves into near-bankruptcy with an
overpriced, half-baked, RDBMS, and then were forced to sell themselves
to an uncaring video game company because they had run out of money.

This, of course, only tends to confirm your point that textual IF was
their core competency and was probably profitable up until the
Cornerstone fiasco. Whether it would have continued to be as the level
of computer graphics available for PC games increased is unknown.

Adam

Mike Snyder

unread,
Dec 11, 2006, 2:02:27 PM12/11/06
to
"Nathan" <nts...@netscape.net> wrote in message
news:1165862487.8...@80g2000cwy.googlegroups.com...

In what way has that ship sailed?

The intfiction.org forum is alive and well. It could stand to be used even
more, but it's working out well.

---- Mike.


David Whyld

unread,
Dec 11, 2006, 3:33:50 PM12/11/06
to

You also have Pudlo and Breslin who do an excellent job of turning
almost thread into an argument.

dwh...@gmail.com

unread,
Dec 11, 2006, 3:35:04 PM12/11/06
to

David Whyld wrote:
>
> You also have Pudlo and Breslin who do an excellent job of turning
> almost thread into an argument.

Which of course should have been:

"You also have Pudlo and Breslin who do an excellent job of turning

almost *every* thread into an argument."

Where's that edit button when you need it?

ChicagoDave

unread,
Dec 11, 2006, 3:37:09 PM12/11/06
to
> Adam Thornton wrote:
> This, of course, only tends to confirm your point that textual IF was
> their core competency and was probably profitable up until the
> Cornerstone fiasco.

This is the fundamental reason for building WCP.

David

Jacek Pudlo

unread,
Dec 11, 2006, 4:01:47 PM12/11/06
to
<dwh...@gmail.com>

>> You also have Pudlo and Breslin who do an excellent job of turning
>> almost thread into an argument.
>
> Which of course should have been:
>
> "You also have Pudlo and Breslin who do an excellent job of turning
> almost *every* thread into an argument."

You have a tendency to repeat yourself, David, so that even when you omit a
crucial word most of us can pretty much guess what you're saying. I suppose
this is where I should condescendingly advise you to "not waste your talent"
and "write some IF instead," but nah, I'm not going to do that. Instead, my
advice to you is, Why don't you go boink a kangaroo, mate? I think all
parties (with the possible exception of the kangaroo) will be better served
that way.


dwh...@gmail.com

unread,
Dec 11, 2006, 4:09:12 PM12/11/06
to

Ouch. Was that all your own work, Pudlo, or did Breslin help you with
it?

The Wanderer

unread,
Dec 11, 2006, 6:58:10 PM12/11/06
to
Adam Thornton wrote:

> In article <zs3fh.26138$E02....@newsb.telia.net>, Jacek Pudlo
> <ja...@jacek.jacek> wrote:
>
>> "Adam Thornton"
>>
>>> Well, OK, so Breslin has an independently-verifiable existence.
>>> But, my friend, do *you*?
>>
>> Didn't Emily Short establish once and for all that I'm a
>> child-molesting Jew skulking on a Baltic island, looking for young
>> juicy prey?
>
> How do I know you're not Emily Short?

Now THAT would be an INCREDIBLE case of masquerade.

Jacek, you are perhaps the most unusual troll I've ever encountered. You
appear to be capable of poking fun at your own expense, and from time to
time you actually make worthwhile contributions. What's more, I find it
entirely possible to read you as sardonic and slightly tongue-in-cheek
rather than as serious - and if I do so, you are in point of fact rather
amusing, but no less obviously a troll.

You may be unique on Usenet, or perhaps the entire Internet. Bravo.


(To the rest of the newsgroups: I apologize for encouraging him. In
penance, I will shut up again, and probably not post anything here for
at least the next couple of months.)

--
The Wanderer

Warning: Simply because I argue an issue does not mean I agree with any
side of it.

Secrecy is the beginning of tyranny.

greg

unread,
Dec 11, 2006, 7:02:30 PM12/11/06
to
ChicagoDave wrote:

> I think it's entirely fair if someone contracts to do a job at a set
> fee, does the job, and gets paid the agreed upon amount.

Well, yes, but the terms you're offering in the
first place seem a bit unbalanced. It looks like
you regard the Designer as the star creative talent,
and the Writers as mere interchangeable commodities
used for churning out content. Maybe that's a false
impression, but it's the one I got from reading your
post.

--
Greg

greg

unread,
Dec 11, 2006, 7:08:09 PM12/11/06
to
Adam Thornton wrote:

> textual IF was
> their core competency and was probably profitable up until the
> Cornerstone fiasco. Whether it would have continued to be as the level
> of computer graphics available for PC games increased is unknown.

I suspect that if Infocom had continued they would
have incorporated more and more graphical content into
their games themselves. They were already starting to
do that with latter versions of the z-machine. Who
knows, maybe today they would have been putting out
first-person shooters and things like everyone else.

OpenGLulx, anyone...?

--
Greg

Bob

unread,
Dec 12, 2006, 2:18:09 AM12/12/06
to

greg wrote

> Who knows, maybe today they (Infocom) would have been putting out


> first-person shooters and things like everyone else.

That's what Legend did until they met their end, wasn't it?

Bob

Mike Snyder

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Dec 12, 2006, 9:47:07 AM12/12/06
to
"ChicagoDave" <david.c...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1165633108....@l12g2000cwl.googlegroups.com...

> - The company needed to develop a specific style in how it produces and
> markets its games.
> - The company needed to be developed and run professionally.
> - The company needed to include advisors and gather outside expertise
> in order to improve the chances of success.
> - The company needed to have an internal process that allowed games to
> be created in an organized and professional manner and in a reasonably
> short period of time.

Here's part of a comment I just posted to a long-run post about commercial
IF over on the Interactive Fiction Forum. I figured I'd share. :)

"I'd personally be more likely to buy IF if it came in a box, or a CD
clamshell or something. I collect games. I collect what I intend to play,
but I've gone through only a fraction of the hundreds of games I own. I
especially like the footprint of CD-sized games (XBox, PS2, and GameCube).
Put IF in that packaging, make it worth playing, sell it affordably, and I'd
buy. I'm less likely to buy a download, because then it doesn't adorn my
game shelf."

---- Mike.


Mike Snyder

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Dec 12, 2006, 9:50:25 AM12/12/06
to
"Mike Snyder" <wy...@prowler-pro.com> wrote in message
news:Dezfh.9162$1J1....@newsfe17.lga...

I should have said DVD-sized. I'm not big on the CD jewel-cased-sized
packaging, a la PS1.

---- Mike.


Richard Bos

unread,
Dec 13, 2006, 7:56:52 PM12/13/06
to
greg <gr...@cosc.canterbury.ac.nz> wrote:

This is not unusual in the software development world. Programs are
designed by highly-paid, often conslutant, Systems Designers aka
Software Engineers, who work in close cooperation with IT managers and
project teams from the buying firm but have never even seen the people
who will have to use the resulting program; and that design is then
haphazardly translated into software by underpaid, hack Coders aka
Software Engineers[1], who work in close cooperation with a stack of
incomplete specs which they're not allowed to comment on and don't get
to see any real people, either.
No, I don't recommend this model, either. It works badly for business
applications; for IF, in which design and coding are even more
inter-dependent, I fear the worst. Look at all the great IF games: they
were all written by either a single person, or by two or perhaps three
_equal_ partners working in close cooperation.

Richard

[1] Yes, _of course_ the term is overloaded. Why avoid confusion?

ChicagoDave

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Dec 13, 2006, 10:35:42 PM12/13/06
to
> Richard Bos wrote:

> greg <gr...@cosc.canterbury.ac.nz> wrote:
> This is not unusual in the software development world. Programs are
> designed by highly-paid, often conslutant, Systems Designers aka
> Software Engineers, who work in close cooperation with IT managers and
> project teams from the buying firm but have never even seen the people
> who will have to use the resulting program; and that design is then
> haphazardly translated into software by underpaid, hack Coders aka
> Software Engineers[1], who work in close cooperation with a stack of
> incomplete specs which they're not allowed to comment on and don't get
> to see any real people, either.

Oddly, I've been a consultant for 14 years and my experience is exactly
the opposite. Teams of people working off of fair specs, but with an
understanding of scope, good project management, fair client
interaction....it's all worked pretty good most of the time. I've been
on a few bad projects, but it's usually a bad project manager that
kills the deal, not the specs or the team.

David C.

Matthew T. Russotto

unread,
Dec 14, 2006, 6:29:56 PM12/14/06
to
In article <45809c04...@news.xs4all.nl>,

Richard Bos <rl...@xs4all.nl> wrote:
>
>This is not unusual in the software development world. Programs are
>designed by highly-paid, often conslutant, Systems Designers aka
>Software Engineers, who work in close cooperation with IT managers and
>project teams from the buying firm but have never even seen the people
>who will have to use the resulting program; and that design is then
>haphazardly translated into software by underpaid, hack Coders aka
>Software Engineers[1], who work in close cooperation with a stack of
>incomplete specs which they're not allowed to comment on and don't get
>to see any real people, either.

Worse, sans some of the adjectives that's one of the _accepted
theories_ (by management and some academics) of how software is
_intended_ to be written. Doesn't actually work for anything but the
most basic of applications (in which case the "hack coders" work for
an outsourcing firm in Bangalore), and even then it works badly.
--
There's no such thing as a free lunch, but certain accounting practices can
result in a fully-depreciated one.

Richard Bos

unread,
Dec 17, 2006, 7:52:29 PM12/17/06
to
"ChicagoDave" <david.c...@gmail.com> wrote:

That's just the point, though. It's the bad project management - often
not just the individual manager, but the company attitude - which keeps
the designers, programmers, and end users separated. It's not the fault
of the team, it's the fault of the process. And believe me, I've seen
the result. I've had to support the result. It's not pretty.
Yes, it can be done, if you keep designers, coders, and users (or in the
case of IF, playtesters) in close and almost constant contact. But you,
as the overall manager, will have to steer this process, and do so
actively. You can't assume that you can bring them in contact once and
all will be well. It will be a serious job, and they'll need serious
support.

Richard

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