Is it still prossible to make money off text adventures?

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robert janelle

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Aug 18, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/18/97
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I'm just getting back into writing text adventures after being out
of the scene for a while. Do people still register text adventures?
Is it possible to make any money off them? If anyone here has written
a shareware text adventure, can you tell me how much you made off it?

Trevor burdick

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Aug 19, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/19/97
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In article <5ta2lq$4ut$1...@news.istar.ca>, robert janelle
<rob...@hotmail.com> wrote:

sure...i wrote a shareware text adventure with the story based in a
musical called "Overthrow"...sold it for a few bucks apeice, and now i
have made an astounding $36, which isn't much considering thanks to
rebates and aol i had $3 into disks...hey, it's a start for a limited
area; you really need a good mass marketing campaign

--
The Brother Spew & You!!
broth...@hancock.net
http://www.geocities.com/sunsetstrip/7933

Al

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Aug 25, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/25/97
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robert janelle wrote:
>
> I'm just getting back into writing text adventures after being out
> of the scene for a while. Do people still register text adventures?
> Is it possible to make any money off them? If anyone here has written
> a shareware text adventure, can you tell me how much you made off it?

See my web page titled KOA Mega-Game contest appearing on the web in the
first week
of september. I am offering a $100,000 prize to the 1st one who solves
this contest game which is the first module of The Kingdom of Amphibia.
It will come out on aCD
rom sometime in the first quarter of '98, for both Mac on PC platforms

Al The Game Designer

Erik Hermansen

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Aug 25, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/25/97
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Wait a minute. This sounds like how you could LOSE a lot of money
from writing a text adventure game. I'm pretty sure that wasn't what
he meant. :>

>
> Al The Game Designer

/* Deadly Rooms of Death - puzzling game of dungeon */
/* exploration for Windows. Easy to play, damned */
/* hard to win. Download from: */
/* http://webfootgames.com/catalog/drod.htm */

Andrew Plotkin

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Aug 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/28/97
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Michael Feir (72712...@CompuServe.COM) wrote:
> The major reason for not buying text adventures from a blind person's
> point of view
> is that they lack re-play value. That is, once all puzzles have been
> solved, and the
> game has been won, there is no reason to play the game again.

How is this different from a sighted person's point of view?

Anyway, non-replayable commercial games are all over the place, and they
seem to do pretty well.

--Z

--

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the
borogoves..."

Brandon Van Every

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Aug 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/29/97
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Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote in article
<erkyrathE...@netcom.com>...

> Michael Feir (72712...@CompuServe.COM) wrote:
> > The major reason for not buying text adventures from a blind person's
> > point of view
> > is that they lack re-play value. That is, once all puzzles have been
> > solved, and the
> > game has been won, there is no reason to play the game again.
>
> How is this different from a sighted person's point of view?
>
> Anyway, non-replayable commercial games are all over the place, and they
> seem to do pretty well.

Indeed, most commercial transactions (of whatever sort, not just games)
offer a finite service for a finite amount of $$$$, and "lack re-play
value." The whole point of a business is to make the customer pay for the
re-play. By this logic, "lack of re-play value" is essential to a
successful product. So it seems odd that one would expect something
otherwise. Maybe freeware people are spoiled? Or perhaps artists are
insane for daring to violate the laws of commodity exchange?

I recall that Infocom games used to quantify the number of "play hours" on
their boxes, so that you could rate your $/hour against going to a movie or
some other diversion. "Play hours" is probably as useful a notion as the
fabled "man month" of programmer time. But thinking about these (similar)
notions might be a good way to investigate what "re-play value" means. It
probably means something to some people, and not to others.


Cheers,
--
Brandon J. Van Every <vane...@blarg.net> DEC Commodity Graphics
http://www.blarg.net/~vanevery Windows NT Alpha OpenGL
------------------------------------------------------------------------
The anvil upon which you hammer another's words is as hard or as soft
as you care to make it. Wherein lies insight?

Magnus Olsson

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Aug 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/29/97
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In article <01bcb46c$16ef9940$859f...@hammurabi.blarg.net>,

Brandon Van Every <vane...@blarg.net> wrote:
>Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote in article
><erkyrathE...@netcom.com>...
>> Anyway, non-replayable commercial games are all over the place, and they
>> seem to do pretty well.
>
>Indeed, most commercial transactions (of whatever sort, not just games)
>offer a finite service for a finite amount of $$$$, and "lack re-play
>value." The whole point of a business is to make the customer pay for the
>re-play. By this logic, "lack of re-play value" is essential to a
>successful product. So it seems odd that one would expect something
>otherwise.

This is a variation of the commonly repeated myth that a free market
promotes products with low quality. Companies, it is thought,
deliberately make products of low quality so that they'll break often,
thus leading to higher sales.

However, while there is some truth to it, it is obvious that high
quality is perceived as positive by consumers, hence companies compete
with high quality. A high-quality product can be sold for a higher
price, to start with. And once companies start using quality as a
competition weapon, we'll have a self-sustaining process.

Why else do you think the typical car today lasts almost twice as long
as the typical car of the 1960's?

As for computer games, apart from the fact that replay value may
actually give a game a competitive edge ("I'd rather buy a game that I
can play several times than one I can only play once") the assertion
that "'lack of re-play value' is essential to a successful product"
rests on some rather shaky assumptions, for example that if a consumer
buys one game from publisher A, he will not buy another until he's
through with it. This is simply not true.

As an example of a commercial game with almost infinite replayability
that was a *huge* success, take Microsoft Flight Simulator. Maybe the
infinite replayability was one fo the factors behind its success? And
did Microsoft's flightsim people find themselves out of jobs when
everybody had bought a copy? No, they published an updated, improved
version of the game instead!


> Maybe freeware people are spoiled?

Certainly not, considering that most freeware games (in the
mainstream, not in text-based IF) are utter crap compared to the
commercial games.

> Or perhaps artists are
>insane for daring to violate the laws of commodity exchange?

Some people say that you have to be insane to be an artist, and that
is one of the reasons.

>I recall that Infocom games used to quantify the number of "play hours" on
>their boxes, so that you could rate your $/hour against going to a movie or
>some other diversion. "Play hours" is probably as useful a notion as the
>fabled "man month" of programmer time.

Both concepts are very useful as long as they aren't overly
generalized. The problem with play hours is that they vary enormously
between players, especially for adventure games.

For me, play hours are useful to justify the expense of buying a
game. "It costs $50, which is a lot of money, but it will probably
keep me occupied for several months, so it's worth it" vs. "THis game
costs $50, and they say that once you've solved it (which takes 3
hours) you'll not want to play it again, so it's not worth it."

> But thinking about these (similar)
>notions might be a good way to investigate what "re-play value" means. It
>probably means something to some people, and not to others.

Obviously some people value novelty much higher than replayability.

To me, true re-playability means knowing that I can return to the game
after a month, or a year, or ten years, and still enjoy it.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, zeb...@pobox.com)
------ http://www.pobox.com/~zebulon ------
Not officially connected to LU or LTH.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, zeb...@pobox.com)
------ http://www.pobox.com/~zebulon ------
Not officially connected to LU or LTH.

Magnus Olsson

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Aug 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/29/97
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In article <01bcb46c$16ef9940$859f...@hammurabi.blarg.net>,
Brandon Van Every <vane...@blarg.net> wrote:
>Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote in article
><erkyrathE...@netcom.com>...
>> Anyway, non-replayable commercial games are all over the place, and they
>> seem to do pretty well.
>
>Indeed, most commercial transactions (of whatever sort, not just games)
>offer a finite service for a finite amount of $$$$, and "lack re-play
>value." The whole point of a business is to make the customer pay for the
>re-play. By this logic, "lack of re-play value" is essential to a
>successful product. So it seems odd that one would expect something
>otherwise.

This is a variation of the commonly repeated myth that a free market
promotes products with low quality. Companies, it is thought,
deliberately make products of low quality so that they'll break often,
thus leading to higher sales.

However, while there is some truth to it, it is obvious that high
quality is perceived as positive by consumers, hence companies compete
with high quality. A high-quality product can be sold for a higher
price, to start with. And once companies start using quality as a

competition weapon, we'll have a self-sustining process.

Why else do you think the typical car today lasts almost twice as long
as the typical car of the 1960's?

As for computer games, apart from the fact that replay value may
actually give a game a competitive edge ("I'd rather buy a game that I

can play several times than one I can only play once) the assertion


that "'lack of re-play value' is essential to a successful product"
rests on some rather shaky assumptions, for example that if a consumer
buys one game from publisher A, he will not buy another until he's
through with it. This is simply not true.

As an example of a commercial game with almost infinite replayability
that was a *huge* success, take Microsoft Flight Simulator. Maybe the
infinite replayability was one fo the factors behind its success? And
did Microsoft's flightsim people find themselves out of jobs when
everybody had bought a copy? No, they published an updated, improved
version of the game instead!


> Maybe freeware people are spoiled?

Certainly not, considering that most freeware games (in the

aminstream, not in text-based IF) is utter crap compared to the

Adam Cadre

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Aug 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/29/97
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Brandon Van Every wrote:
> Indeed, most commercial transactions (of whatever sort, not just
> games) offer a finite service for a finite amount of $$$$, and "lack
> re-play value." The whole point of a business is to make the customer
> pay for the re-play. By this logic, "lack of re-play value" is
> essential to a successful product. So it seems odd that one would
> expect something otherwise. Maybe freeware people are spoiled? Or

> perhaps artists are insane for daring to violate the laws of commodity
> exchange?

I'd like to add to Magnus's excellent responses to this with one of my
own: namely, that there are alternatives to capitalism. One of the
things I like about the IF community is that the rules of capitalism
don't apply here. We're not producing goods or providing services in
hopes of making a profit with which to buy goods and services for
ourselves in turn; we're writing games because we enjoy it, and as a
creative outlet, and then release those games -- many of which are of
superior quality to commercial offerings -- for free. It's pretty
damn utopic, really. (The fact that this is more a matter of necessity
than choice matters not a bit.) So I wouldn't say we're "spoiled" or
"insane": we've simply stumbled upon a better system.

-----
Adam Cadre, Durham, NC
http://www.duke.edu/~adamc

Matthew Amster-Burton

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Aug 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/29/97
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m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) wrote:

>This is a variation of the commonly repeated myth that a free market
>promotes products with low quality. Companies, it is thought,
>deliberately make products of low quality so that they'll break often,
>thus leading to higher sales.

That's not an argument I've ever heard before, although it sounds like
a variation on the (true) stories about IBM making sure each new
system rev required more memory.

>However, while there is some truth to it, it is obvious that high
>quality is perceived as positive by consumers, hence companies compete
>with high quality. A high-quality product can be sold for a higher
>price, to start with. And once companies start using quality as a

>competition weapon, we'll have a self-sustaining process.

But to capture the public eye, a company must not only deliver a
product of high quality, but also spend a tremendous amount of money
and person-power on advertising, i.e., convincing you that this
product is better than competing products. None of that work in any
way enhances the quality of the product. Competition doesn't
inherently promote high-quality products or low-quality ones: if the
consumer demand is for high quality, the market will, to some extent,
deliver. That's asking a lot of the consumer, who can't be expected
to have a reasonable understanding of the kind of product that could
be delivered if cooperation, rather than competition, were the rule.
To be fair, I include myself among these battle-fatigued consumers.

Sorry to get socialist on you.

Matthew


Magnus Olsson

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Aug 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/29/97
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In article <3407ee30...@news.u.washington.edu>,

Matthew Amster-Burton <mam...@u.washington.edu> wrote:
>m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) wrote:
>
>>This is a variation of the commonly repeated myth that a free market
>>promotes products with low quality. Companies, it is thought,
>>deliberately make products of low quality so that they'll break often,
>>thus leading to higher sales.
>
>That's not an argument I've ever heard before, although it sounds like
>a variation on the (true) stories about IBM making sure each new
>system rev required more memory.

IBM is a bit of a special case; while they didn't have a true monopoly on
mainframes, the competition situation was very skewed in their favour, to
say the least.

A similar situation holds for Microsoft today.

>>However, while there is some truth to it, it is obvious that high
>>quality is perceived as positive by consumers, hence companies compete
>>with high quality. A high-quality product can be sold for a higher
>>price, to start with. And once companies start using quality as a
>>competition weapon, we'll have a self-sustaining process.
>
>But to capture the public eye, a company must not only deliver a
>product of high quality, but also spend a tremendous amount of money
>and person-power on advertising, i.e., convincing you that this
>product is better than competing products. None of that work in any
>way enhances the quality of the product.

Indeed. The sad fact is that high quality is not enough to be a
commercial success - on the other hand, quality is not the only
desirable feature of a product, either.

> Competition doesn't
>inherently promote high-quality products or low-quality ones: if the
>consumer demand is for high quality, the market will, to some extent,
>deliver.

That's true; I didn't mean to imply that competion automatically leads
to higher quality - I was debunking the idea that competition
automatically leads to *lower* quality, as well as the idea that
competition automatically leads to computer games with zero
replayability.

> That's asking a lot of the consumer, who can't be expected
>to have a reasonable understanding of the kind of product that could
>be delivered if cooperation, rather than competition, were the rule.

Frankly: if cooperation between the big corporations were the rule,
then we'd see very little, if any, progress at all. All proposals from
engineers to improve a product would be turned down by management,
since basically the *only* reason for management to spend money
improving products is to gain a competitive edge over the competition.

There are very good reasons for having anti-trust laws explicitly
forbidding cooperation among companies.

Of course, in a socialist economy, the government can *order* the
companies to improve their products. In theory, that is - we all know
how the practical attempts at implementation have turned out.

>Sorry to get socialist on you.

No problem. I didn't really intend to start a debate about the pros
and cons of the market economy; I just wanted to address one
particular (alleged) "con".

P.S. Market economy is far from ideal, of course. I just tend to
subscribe to the view that there's no better alternative around.

The most irritating thing about the market is that, like evolution, it
works toward *local* maxima, which means that it can work itself into
strange dead ends or vicious spirals. One such example seems to be the
market for adventure games: since everybody is doing flashy, graphical
things with lots of special effects and little depth, it makes more
financial sense to try to beat the competitors at their own
game. Which leads to even flashier and shallower new products, and so
on ad nauseam.

Matthew Daly

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Aug 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/29/97
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m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson), if that is your REAL name, said:

>In article <3406D6...@acpub.duke.edu>,


>Adam Cadre <ad...@acpub.duke.edu> wrote:
>>I'd like to add to Magnus's excellent responses to this with one of my
>>own: namely, that there are alternatives to capitalism. One of the
>>things I like about the IF community is that the rules of capitalism
>>don't apply here. We're not producing goods or providing services in
>>hopes of making a profit with which to buy goods and services for
>>ourselves in turn; we're writing games because we enjoy it, and as a
>>creative outlet, and then release those games -- many of which are of
>>superior quality to commercial offerings -- for free. It's pretty
>>damn utopic, really. (The fact that this is more a matter of necessity
>>than choice matters not a bit.) So I wouldn't say we're "spoiled" or
>>"insane": we've simply stumbled upon a better system.
>

>Or, rather, we've been forced into it. But wouldn't it be even more utopic
>if we could make a living out of it?

I wonder what would happen if there was an appeal for money in some of the
freeware games published on the archive. I mean just a sort of "If you
enjoyed this, consider comparing how much you enjoyed it against a
commercial software release or a month of cable or what have you and if you
feel so moved, send a check and a note to the following address...."

I'm not a starving college student any more -- I spend X hours a month
playing computer games and there's a budget assocaited with that use of my
time. And there are freeware games on the archive that I would gladly have
paid money for, especially after having had the opportunity to play them
for free. (I'm less enamored with crippleware, which is less risky for the
developer but not as appealing for me to pay for something before I've seen
what it can really do.)

When I was a starving college student, I probably wouldn't have done so (in
fact, one of my software priorities in life is buying registered versions
of all the commercial software that I played for free in those lean years),
but it would be nice to have the opportunity to send Adam $30 for the
pleasure I derived from I-0, for instance.

I can't say that people would get enough money to live off of, or even that
they would clear a profit, and maybe the potential tax headaches would be
more than some people would want to handle, but as is said, there is a lot
of giving in the I-F community and I could see the giving going in both
directions.

-Matthew
--
Matthew Daly I feel that if a person has problems communicating
mwd...@kodak.com the very least he can do is to shut up - Tom Lehrer

My opinions are not necessarily those of my employer, of course.

--- Support the anti-Spam amendment! Join at http://www.cauce.org ---

Magnus Olsson

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Aug 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/29/97
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In article <3406D6...@acpub.duke.edu>,
Adam Cadre <ad...@acpub.duke.edu> wrote:
>I'd like to add to Magnus's excellent responses to this with one of my
>own: namely, that there are alternatives to capitalism. One of the
>things I like about the IF community is that the rules of capitalism
>don't apply here. We're not producing goods or providing services in
>hopes of making a profit with which to buy goods and services for
>ourselves in turn; we're writing games because we enjoy it, and as a
>creative outlet, and then release those games -- many of which are of
>superior quality to commercial offerings -- for free. It's pretty
>damn utopic, really. (The fact that this is more a matter of necessity
>than choice matters not a bit.) So I wouldn't say we're "spoiled" or
>"insane": we've simply stumbled upon a better system.

Or, rather, we've been forced into it. But wouldn't it be even more utopic
if we could make a living out of it?

I wonder what the IF scene would be like if a shareware text adventure
would get, say, a thousand $20 registrations instead of
twenty. Perhaps the scene wouldn't lose its idealism and
one-big-family feeling? Consider, for example, the science fiction
scene of not too long ago, when authors could make a living and still
have this family-feeling with both their fans and their colleagues. Or
perhaps I'm idealizing iut just because I wasn't there.

Andrew Plotkin

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Aug 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/29/97
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Matthew Daly (mwd...@kodak.com) wrote:

> I wonder what would happen if there was an appeal for money in some of the
> freeware games published on the archive. I mean just a sort of "If you
> enjoyed this, consider comparing how much you enjoyed it against a
> commercial software release or a month of cable or what have you and if you
> feel so moved, send a check and a note to the following address...."

From "So Far":

> about

This game is free. But if you feel like sending me money, I won't refuse.
[followed by my address...]

Nobody has ever sent me money.

> And there are freeware games on the archive that I would gladly have
> paid money for, especially after having had the opportunity to play them
> for free.

Would have... if what? Not all of them have snail-mail addresses, but
just about has an email address, and I bet anyone would be glad to get
email which starts "I'd like to mail you a check."

> (I'm less enamored with crippleware, which is less risky for the
> developer but not as appealing for me to pay for something before I've seen
> what it can really do.)

Obviously the trick is to put the cripple-point in the right place. This
can be done well or badly.

> When I was a starving college student, I probably wouldn't have done so (in
> fact, one of my software priorities in life is buying registered versions
> of all the commercial software that I played for free in those lean years),
> but it would be nice to have the opportunity to send Adam $30 for the
> pleasure I derived from I-0, for instance.

You have the opportunity. Only you can start doing it.

(Well, I could start doing it too. I haven't yet. Heh. :-) I have
registered the IF games that were labelled shareware -- the ones I kept,
I mean.)

Brandon Van Every

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Aug 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/29/97
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Adam Cadre <ad...@acpub.duke.edu> wrote in article
<3406D6...@acpub.duke.edu>...

> Brandon Van Every wrote:
> > Indeed, most commercial transactions (of whatever sort, not just
> > games) offer a finite service for a finite amount of $$$$, and "lack
> > re-play value." The whole point of a business is to make the customer
> > pay for the re-play. By this logic, "lack of re-play value" is
> > essential to a successful product. So it seems odd that one would
> > expect something otherwise. Maybe freeware people are spoiled? Or
> > perhaps artists are insane for daring to violate the laws of commodity
> > exchange?
>
> I'd like to add to Magnus's excellent responses to this with one of my
> own: namely, that there are alternatives to capitalism. One of the
> things I like about the IF community is that the rules of capitalism
> don't apply here. We're not producing goods or providing services in
> hopes of making a profit with which to buy goods and services for
> ourselves in turn; we're writing games because we enjoy it, and as a
> creative outlet, and then release those games -- many of which are of
> superior quality to commercial offerings -- for free. It's pretty
> damn utopic, really. (The fact that this is more a matter of necessity
> than choice matters not a bit.) So I wouldn't say we're "spoiled" or
> "insane": we've simply stumbled upon a better system.

Well here's my own personal situation. I would like to do a piece of IF.
At the same time, I would like to do a great painting. Meanwhile I spend a
lot of time trying to get better at Wing Chun kung gu. Then I work at a
job that consumes 40+ hours a week and has nothing to do with any of these
more enjoyable activities. Would like to change that, but it's not in the
cards at the immediate moment. Then there's time I'd like to spend
socializing and dating, neither of which I'm doing nearly enough of at this
point. Consequently, my time is spread thin. I feel that the Capitalist
society around me has deep tendrils into my personal life, as everything
costs a lot of time to pursue, and I have to keep paying the bills somehow.

Consequently, it would not upset me at all to pursue IF endeavors
commercially at some point in the future. I used to be one of those
freeware Linux radicals, but since stepping foot into the working world
I've changed my views: I think it is better to be paid to do something you
like. Because people aren't super-human with how much time they can spend
on things, I think the Capitalist model of authoring will probably have to
be the means of progress for a lot of people. It is true that the
Capitalist model frequently stands in the way of artistic development, as
it so heavily emphasizes the bottom $$$$ line. A Socialist model where
everyone tries to advance the state of the art "for free" in their free
time has its own problems as well, though. What I'm saying is that the
real problem is limited development time, and I wouldn't automatically
dismiss any option that could lengthen the amount of available development
time.

For instance, someone pointed out that there's only a handful of people in
the world with the time to work on new IF authoring languages. Most of us
would rather use our limited time to develop art with the limited tools we
already have. If one could engineer a commercial solution that would be
preferrable, and I think the "lack of re-play" model would be a worthy
sacrifice.

Dan Shiovitz

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Aug 30, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/30/97
to

In article <01bcb4b9$73624220$859f...@hammurabi.blarg.net>,

Brandon Van Every <vane...@blarg.net> wrote:
[..]

>For instance, someone pointed out that there's only a handful of people in
>the world with the time to work on new IF authoring languages. Most of us

Oh, c'mon. I know I'm not the only grad student on the group :)
Seriously, I don't think that this is really a matter of time so much as a
lack of niches. I could write a language that I'd like to use slightly
more, or even quite a bit more, than TADS, but I don't know that it would
be worth it to go through the trouble of writing a language unless I would
like it a *whole lot* more, and I can't think of what I'd want to do that
I'd like a *whole lot* more.

[..]


>Brandon J. Van Every <vane...@blarg.net> DEC Commodity Graphics
>http://www.blarg.net/~vanevery Windows NT Alpha OpenGL
--

Dan Shiovitz :: scy...@u.washington.edu :: sh...@cs.washington.edu
..................................................................
"Alas, I do not rule the world and that, I am afraid, is the story
of my life: always a godmother, never a God." -- Fran Lebowitz
...http://weber.u.washington.edu/~scythe/home.html................

Stephen Robert Norris

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Aug 31, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/31/97
to

[ Discussion about registering games deleted. ]

The _big_ problem I face is that it costs me about $US15 to just buy an
internation money order - which means that registering games in the US for,
say $US20 costs me more like $AUS50, which is a not-insignificant amount.

Are there other people in the same position? Maybe we could organise some proxy
in different countries to collect the money and forward it (probably better if
it was a company, than an individual. It's harder to fake a company, and
there's an audit trail to track down any evil bugger who tries to collect the
money and not pass it on.).

Stephen

Brandon Van Every

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Aug 31, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/31/97
to

Stephen Robert Norris <s...@psrg.cs.usyd.edu.au> wrote in article
<5uad1j$9o2$1...@crux.cs.su.oz.au>...

That sounds like a shareware distribution company, and I think the
responsibility for using such an operation would have to fall to the
programmer who wrote the game. It's their product.


Cheers,
--

Brandon J. Van Every <vane...@blarg.net> DEC Commodity Graphics
http://www.blarg.net/~vanevery Windows NT Alpha OpenGL

Magnus Olsson

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Sep 1, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/1/97
to

In article <01bcb650$fc1980e0$0f9f...@hammurabi.blarg.net>,

Brandon Van Every <vane...@blarg.net> wrote:
>Stephen Robert Norris <s...@psrg.cs.usyd.edu.au> wrote in article
><5uad1j$9o2$1...@crux.cs.su.oz.au>...
>> [ Discussion about registering games deleted. ]
>>
>> The _big_ problem I face is that it costs me about $US15 to just buy an
>> internation money order - which means that registering games in the US
>for,
>> say $US20 costs me more like $AUS50, which is a not-insignificant amount.
>>
>> Are there other people in the same position?

Yes: anybody outside the program's country of origin.

International money transfer is extremely expensive for small amounts,
unless you're using a credit card, but that's only practical if the
seller's volumes are much larger than you'd expect for IF.

>Maybe we could organise some proxy
>> in different countries to collect the money and forward it (probably
>better if
>> it was a company, than an individual. It's harder to fake a company, and
>> there's an audit trail to track down any evil bugger who tries to collect
>the
>> money and not pass it on.).
>
>That sounds like a shareware distribution company,

I think the idea was to have a shareware *registration* agency - it
wouldn't distribute the software, just handle registrations.

Such services exist. CompuServe has some facility where you register
on-line, and the registration fee is billed to your CompuServe
account, which I suppose is practical if you happen to have a
CompuServe account. There are also some outfits that accept credit
cards.

> and I think the
>responsibility for using such an operation would have to fall to the
>programmer who wrote the game. It's their product.

In practice, it would no doubt have to be that way. I wouldn't want to
run an agency that promised to track down obscure shareware authors
from an address five years old :-).

You may reason that it's solely in the author's interest: if he/she
doesn't provide an efficient and cheap way for foreigners to register,
he/she won't get any foreign registrations. That is true for shareware
- however, most so-called "shareware" today seems to be crippleware,
and in that case it's really in the customer's interest to register.

Gerry Kevin Wilson

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Sep 1, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/1/97
to

In article <5udtgb$235$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>,
Magnus Olsson <m...@bartlet.df.lth.se> wrote:

>You may reason that it's solely in the author's interest: if he/she
>doesn't provide an efficient and cheap way for foreigners to register,

Check the old Dejanews posts to rai-f. I'm sure we discussed this two or
three years ago. Mention might have been made of Softlock, or other
internet credit card processing companies. I doubt we'll see many more
non-freeware games though.
--
"Avalon? <looks around worriedly> We know nothing...."

Stephen Robert Norris

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Sep 1, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/1/97
to

In article <01bcb650$fc1980e0$0f9f...@hammurabi.blarg.net>,
"Brandon Van Every" <vane...@blarg.net> intoned:
> That sounds like a shareware distribution company, and I think the

> responsibility for using such an operation would have to fall to the
> programmer who wrote the game. It's their product.
>
>
> Cheers,

I guess so - but just collecting enough to cover costs. Do any such things
exists?

Stephen

Neil K.

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Sep 1, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/1/97
to

In article <5udtgb$235$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>, m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus
Olsson) wrote:

> I think the idea was to have a shareware *registration* agency - it
> wouldn't distribute the software, just handle registrations.

www.kagi.com is such an agency; quite popular with Macintosh shareware authors.

- Neil K.

--
t e l a computer consulting + design * Vancouver, BC, Canada
web: http://www.tela.bc.ca/tela/ * email: tela @ tela.bc.ca

Magnus Olsson

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Sep 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/5/97
to

In article <19970905070...@ladder02.news.aol.com>,
FemaleDeer <femal...@aol.com> wrote:
>Old posting, so no one may read this.
>
>Okay, if I want to make a game crippleware, how do I do it?

The simplest way in IF is to throw in one or two puzzles that are
unsolvable without help from you. For example, have a safe with a
ten-digit combination and no clues for it. Then charge for the help.

Some rather successful IF authors have pulled this trick on their
players, without telling them at the start of the game that it is
crippleware, something that IMAO is a really dirty thing to do. If you're
taking the cripplewarepath, at least be honest about it.

You'll probably still not be very popular in the IF community, though.

>I am thinking, gee, if I worked on a game for two years, I would prefer
>getting SOME money for it. Either hints and maps for registering

If you're content with "some" money, then hints and maps for
registering should at least earn you a few registration a year or
so. I think one trick is to distribute your game outside the usual
channels: if you just put it on the IF-archive and announce it here,
the audience will be used to freeware; if you get it onto some
shareware CD-ROM you'll probably have a larger chance of getting
registrations.

>crippleware is what I have been thinking, but I don't know how one makes
>crippleware. A random number generator in Inform wouldn't work, would it?

How could a random number generator turn it into crippleware?

The usual way of making crippleware is to literally cripple the
program: leave some parts out and charge for the complete version. In
IF, though the sneaky way with unsolveable puzzles is easier on the
author. Of course, that will probably also mean that the solution will
start to circulate on the net...


But my advice to you would still be *don't do it*. There are so many
great freeware games out there that the majority of people will simply
throw away a crippleware game.

Chris Marriott

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Sep 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/5/97
to

In article <19970905070...@ladder02.news.aol.com>, FemaleDeer

<femal...@aol.com> writes


>I am thinking, gee, if I worked on a game for two years, I would prefer

>getting SOME money for it. Either hints and maps for registering or


>crippleware is what I have been thinking, but I don't know how one makes
>crippleware. A random number generator in Inform wouldn't work, would it?
>

A very commonly-used method used in the shareware field is the so-called
"trilogy" method. You give the user the first part of a game for free -
enough to "whet the appetite" - and they get the rest when they
register.

Chris

----------------------------------------------------------------
Chris Marriott, Microsoft Certified Solution Developer.
SkyMap Software, U.K. e-mail: ch...@skymap.com
Visit our web site at http://www.skymap.com

Brandon Van Every

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Sep 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/5/97
to

Magnus Olsson <m...@bartlet.df.lth.se> wrote in article
<5uock1$7j6$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>...

>
> The usual way of making crippleware is to literally cripple the
> program: leave some parts out and charge for the complete version. In
> IF, though the sneaky way with unsolveable puzzles is easier on the
> author. Of course, that will probably also mean that the solution will
> start to circulate on the net...

Forgive my ignorance, I'm still fairly new to the available authoring
packages. How many output just a binary .exe format? If your game is just
a raw Inform or TADS file, it would be trivial to do a data dump of the
game to find the answer. You need to remove some functionality from an
.exe, in order for the crippling to be "enforced." Typically this is done
by disabling the "save" feature of the application.

>
> But my advice to you would still be *don't do it*. There are so many
> great freeware games out there that the majority of people will simply
> throw away a crippleware game.

Hmm, supply and demand. This indicates that if one wants to make $$$$, one
must come up with a more unique product. How can a mere text adventure
among text adventures distinguish itself? The industry has gone to 2D and
3D graphics, that's how they've done it for the past decade or so. But if
one is to go in a different direction, maybe the nature of the game
universe needs a twist? NPC's with AI? More of a simulation than a series
of plot branches?

Magnus Olsson

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Sep 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/5/97
to

In article <01bcba15$f011a8e0$aa9f...@hammurabi.blarg.net>,

Brandon Van Every <vane...@blarg.net> wrote:
>Magnus Olsson <m...@bartlet.df.lth.se> wrote in article
><5uock1$7j6$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>...
>>
>> The usual way of making crippleware is to literally cripple the
>> program: leave some parts out and charge for the complete version. In
>> IF, though the sneaky way with unsolveable puzzles is easier on the
>> author. Of course, that will probably also mean that the solution will
>> start to circulate on the net...
>
>Forgive my ignorance, I'm still fairly new to the available authoring
>packages. How many output just a binary .exe format?

None of the big ones (i.e., neither TADS, Hugo, Inform, AGT nor Alan).

>If your game is just
>a raw Inform or TADS file, it would be trivial to do a data dump of the
>game to find the answer.

EXE file or TADS/Inform/whatever gamefile makes no difference: the
information must of course be in the file, so it's impossible to hide
it completely. It is possible, however, to make it non-trivial to
retrieve it. One could, for example, imagine some sort of
challenge-response puzzle.

> You need to remove some functionality from an
>.exe, in order for the crippling to be "enforced." Typically this is done
>by disabling the "save" feature of the application.

Yes. Disabling "save" will make you thoroughly unpopular with players,
however. I'd say remove part of the game, or even split it into
several parts as somebody else suggested. And be honest about it, so
the player knows up-front that he'll have to pay to see all of it.

>> But my advice to you would still be *don't do it*. There are so many
>> great freeware games out there that the majority of people will simply
>> throw away a crippleware game.
>
>Hmm, supply and demand. This indicates that if one wants to make $$$$, one
>must come up with a more unique product. How can a mere text adventure
>among text adventures distinguish itself?

One way is the way taken by Whizzard for _Avalon_ (or, rather, the way
he says he's going to take when it's released). Avalon isn't going to
be crippleware, AFAIK, but old-fashioned "sellware". What will
(hopefully) persuade people to pay for it is, apart from the quality
of the game itself, the quality of the packaging. Perhaps people will
be prepared to pay for a professionally packaged (referring not just
to the enclosing box, but to the "extras" included in that box)
product?

> The industry has gone to 2D and
>3D graphics, that's how they've done it for the past decade or so. But if
>one is to go in a different direction, maybe the nature of the game
>universe needs a twist? NPC's with AI? More of a simulation than a series
>of plot branches?

Perhaps.

Dan Shiovitz

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Sep 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/5/97
to

In article <01bcba15$f011a8e0$aa9f...@hammurabi.blarg.net>,
Brandon Van Every <vane...@blarg.net> wrote:
>
>Magnus Olsson <m...@bartlet.df.lth.se> wrote in article
><5uock1$7j6$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>...
>>
>> The usual way of making crippleware is to literally cripple the
>> program: leave some parts out and charge for the complete version. In
>> IF, though the sneaky way with unsolveable puzzles is easier on the
>> author. Of course, that will probably also mean that the solution will
>> start to circulate on the net...
>
>Forgive my ignorance, I'm still fairly new to the available authoring
>packages. How many output just a binary .exe format? If your game is just

>a raw Inform or TADS file, it would be trivial to do a data dump of the
>game to find the answer. You need to remove some functionality from an

>.exe, in order for the crippling to be "enforced." Typically this is done
>by disabling the "save" feature of the application.

There are ways and ways, as it were. The Magic Toyshop, for instance,
has a puzzle where the solution isn't programmed into the game
directly; all the game knows how to do is check if the player's input
meets certain qualifications. You could do a dump to figure out what
those qualifications were and then solve the puzzle, but rgetting
information other than text strings out of a Z-code dump is
nontrivial, at least for me, and then having to solve the puzzle also..
personally, I'd find it easier just to send the author the money.

>Brandon J. Van Every <vane...@blarg.net> DEC Commodity Graphics
>http://www.blarg.net/~vanevery Windows NT Alpha OpenGL

GLEEMOTH

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Sep 6, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/6/97
to

>In article <19970905070...@ladder02.news.aol.com>, FemaleDeer
><femal...@aol.com> writes
>>I am thinking, gee, if I worked on a game for two years, I would prefer
>>getting SOME money for it. Either hints and maps for registering or
>>crippleware is what I have been thinking, but I don't know how one makes
>>crippleware. A random number generator in Inform wouldn't work, would it?
>
>A very commonly-used method used in the shareware field is the so-called
>"trilogy" method. You give the user the first part of a game for free -
>enough to "whet the appetite" - and they get the rest when they
>register.
>
>Chris

That's more or less what I'm planning for "Order & Chaos", my TADS game
that's not even one 14th finished. I'll put chopped-up versions on
ftp.gmd.de, which let you go through the first chunk of the game, and then
when people register, I'll either:
A) give them a password to unlock it, which will be based on the name they
give me (example: Bob Finsterbocker might get the password 4vjHD64jk@kg), or
B) just E-mail them a copy of the full game.
I think David Baggett did this with Unnkulia Zero.

Shay Caron (glee...@aol.com)
Order & Chaos-- the only IF game ever with over 10 playable
characters!
Coming soon! (give or take 27 years)

me

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Sep 7, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/7/97
to

There are two views on this.

One is yes, the other is no. :->
--
Nicholas Daley
<dal...@ihug.co.nz>

Brandon Van Every

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Sep 9, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/9/97
to

Magnus Olsson <m...@bartlet.df.lth.se> wrote in article
<5u6g3s$uvo$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>...
> In article <01bcb46c$16ef9940$859f...@hammurabi.blarg.net>,

> Brandon Van Every <vane...@blarg.net> wrote:
> >Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote in article
> ><erkyrathE...@netcom.com>...
> >> Anyway, non-replayable commercial games are all over the place, and
they
> >> seem to do pretty well.
> >
> >Indeed, most commercial transactions (of whatever sort, not just games)
> >offer a finite service for a finite amount of $$$$, and "lack re-play
> >value." The whole point of a business is to make the customer pay for
the
> >re-play. By this logic, "lack of re-play value" is essential to a
> >successful product. So it seems odd that one would expect something
> >otherwise.
>
> This is a variation of the commonly repeated myth that a free market
> promotes products with low quality. Companies, it is thought,
> deliberately make products of low quality so that they'll break often,
> thus leading to higher sales.

Sure, quality is a way to compete. But planned obsolesence is another way
to compete, and it is done all the time as well. Computers are the
archetypical example where you can sell a very high quality product, and
have it be obsolete in 2 years.

Also, you're talking mainly about goods. Services are generally
non-repeatable, you pay as you go. Sure you can sell high-quality or
low-quality services, but nobody sells services that have re-play value.
Unless the re-play is extremely limited, like a warranty service contract.

> As an example of a commercial game with almost infinite replayability
> that was a *huge* success, take Microsoft Flight Simulator. Maybe the
> infinite replayability was one fo the factors behind its success? And
> did Microsoft's flightsim people find themselves out of jobs when
> everybody had bought a copy? No, they published an updated, improved
> version of the game instead!

I believe that Microsoft Flight Simulator sold add-on modules, same as most
other stuff. That would seem to bring its intrinsic re-playability into
question. And if it was indeed infinitely re-playable, why did they need
to improve it with an updated release?

> >I recall that Infocom games used to quantify the number of "play hours"
on
> >their boxes, so that you could rate your $/hour against going to a movie
or
> >some other diversion. "Play hours" is probably as useful a notion as
the
> >fabled "man month" of programmer time.
>
> Both concepts are very useful as long as they aren't overly
> generalized. The problem with play hours is that they vary enormously
> between players, especially for adventure games.

We'll agree to disagree here. :-) A man-month is overgeneralized by
definition.


Cheers,
--

Brandon J. Van Every <vane...@blarg.net> DEC Commodity Graphics
http://www.blarg.net/~vanevery Windows NT Alpha OpenGL

Den of Iniquity

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Sep 16, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/16/97
to

On Thu, 4 Sep 1997*, Andrew Plotkin wrote:

>But maybe there are people out there who want to donate money to support
>IF, even to authors who don't expect any. To them I said: Nothing is
>stopping you.

Not that I want to dissuade people from being charitable to individuals
who have provided freeware but I thought that if some mad, money-wielding
maniacs wanted to support IF, perhaps the best way is to offer a prize or
prizes for our competitions - maybe next year's short IF compo or an
alternative 'big game' competition, perhaps associated with the XYZZY
awards.

--
Den (* sorry, my newsreader randomly makes me wait
10-12 days for half of all postings. Grr.)


Stephen Granade

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Sep 16, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/16/97
to

On Tue, 16 Sep 1997, Den of Iniquity wrote:

> On Thu, 4 Sep 1997*, Andrew Plotkin wrote:
>
> >But maybe there are people out there who want to donate money to support
> >IF, even to authors who don't expect any. To them I said: Nothing is
> >stopping you.
>
> Not that I want to dissuade people from being charitable to individuals
> who have provided freeware but I thought that if some mad, money-wielding
> maniacs wanted to support IF, perhaps the best way is to offer a prize or
> prizes for our competitions - maybe next year's short IF compo or an
> alternative 'big game' competition, perhaps associated with the XYZZY
> awards.

The only concern I would have about such a scheme is that it adds more
incentive to compeition entries and less to producing non-competition
entries*.

Stephen

* Please note that I am _not_ claiming that the competition is a bad
thing; I am expressing a concern that it is becoming the be-all-end-all
of our creative efforts.

--
Stephen Granade | Interested in adventure games?
sgra...@phy.duke.edu | Check out
Duke University, Physics Dept | http://interactfiction.miningco.com


Jay Goemmer

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Sep 23, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/23/97
to sgra...@phy.duke.edu

Stephen Granade <sgra...@phy.duke.edu> wrote:

> The only concern I would have about [offering large monetary prizes]
> is that it adds more incentive to competition entries and less to > producing non-competition entries*.


>
> * Please note that I am _not_ claiming that the competition is a bad
> thing; I am expressing a concern that it is becoming the be-all-end-all
> of our creative efforts.

I have to agree with you to a large extent. Several of my games
really don't fall within the competition guidelines for one reason or
another, and I temporarily sidelined them to work on a small competition
entry. However, I feel that they're valid works in and of themselves,
regardless of whether they meet the aforementioned rules.

--*Then* there's that writing correspondence course I need to finish
up . . .


--Jay Goemmer


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