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Vassili Bykov

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Aug 25, 1994, 1:24:27 AM8/25/94
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: From: whiz...@uclink.berkeley.edu (Gerry Kevin Wilson)
: [...] Now for the bad news. I didn't get much work done on Avalon this
: summer, [...]

I'm sorry for my stupidity, but what is Avalon? (I haven't read this
newsgroup for quite a while...)

--Vassili

Gerry Kevin Wilson

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Aug 25, 1994, 3:06:29 AM8/25/94
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Stand back everyone, it's time for....a PLUG!

Yes, that's right, Avalon is this text adventure I'm writing with TADS.
You are Frank Leandro, an American soldier in 1968, stationed in a small
base in Vietnam. You don't know it yet, but your time on this earth is
up. Yes, you're about to shuffle off your mortal coil and join King
Arthur in Avalon. You'll face Mordred, Morgan le Fay, fight a dragon,
match wits with faeries, travel through time and, if you're lucky, you
might even manage to live a normal life again someday. But, don't hold
your breath.

Avalon is going to be out this year hopefully, depending on my money
standings, and whether I can afford to have the manuals printed up. It
will be sold for $25, and a demo will be released to the IF-archive and
other select ftp sites. When you buy Avalon, you also receive a set of
atmospheric packaging, such as Infocom used to include with their games.
In addition, you are entered in a drawing, and given the opportunity to
subscribe to a quarterly newsletter called _The Brass Lantern_, to read
original fiction, solve puzzles, win contests, and learn of new and
exciting Vertigo products. That's Avalon, and I suppose I'm done with
the hard sell. Save your money, folks. <<This one's for you, Kinyon. :) >>

<Sorry guys, but he DID ask. Muahaha.>
--
<~~~VERTIGO~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~SPAG~~~~SECOND~ISSUE~DUE~???~~~~~~~~~~~~~~|~~~~~~~>
< The Society for the Preservation of Adventure games. Filled with | ~~\ >
< reviews, ratings, and advertisements...all about text adventures. | /~\ | >
<___SOFTWARE______E-MAIL...@uclink.berkeley.edu__|_\__/__>

TEAddition

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Aug 25, 1994, 7:35:02 PM8/25/94
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In article <33hftl$n...@agate.berkeley.edu>, whiz...@uclink.berkeley.edu
(Gerry Kevin Wilson) writes:

>When you buy Avalon, you also receive a set of atmospheric packaging,
>such as Infocom used to include with their games.

That sounds great, but I'm curious -- when you say "such as Infocom used
to include ..." are we talking about high-quality props and professioally
published materials or are we talking slips of paper covered in crayon
torn from a loose-leaf notebook (OK, it's extreme, but it makes the
point). If you're going to plug, I guess I have the right to play critic.

Actually, I was never impressed with Infocom's atmospheric packaging with
the exception of their mysteries where the packaging actually provided
clues to the game. What I hated was the Flathead Calendar from Zork Zero.
It was cute and all, but it was such blatant copy protection. I've been
thinking about getting some atmospheric packaging into registered copies
of my game, as well (although, unlike my friend Whizzard, I won't have the
guts to require a $25 fee for one of my games until I've given you all the
chance to see one in entirety).

Incidentally, don't mistake my comments for flames. I'm simply blunt.

-TEA-

P.S. Coming soon -- a plug for MY upcoming release.

OK, so it's not that exciting, but I've always been one of those people
who goes to the movies to see the trailers.


Gerry Kevin Wilson

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Aug 25, 1994, 9:22:43 PM8/25/94
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In article <33j9r6$3...@search01.news.aol.com>,

TEAddition <teadd...@aol.com> wrote:
>In article <33hftl$n...@agate.berkeley.edu>, whiz...@uclink.berkeley.edu
>(Gerry Kevin Wilson) writes:
>
>>When you buy Avalon, you also receive a set of atmospheric packaging,
>>such as Infocom used to include with their games.
>
>That sounds great, but I'm curious -- when you say "such as Infocom used
>to include ..." are we talking about high-quality props and professioally
>published materials or are we talking slips of paper covered in crayon
>torn from a loose-leaf notebook (OK, it's extreme, but it makes the
>point). If you're going to plug, I guess I have the right to play critic.

Let's see. Don't expect any cardboard sundials or anything, but the
planned props include:

A couple of pages from Frank's Diary, photocopied courtesy (supposedly)
of the military.
A newsletter, printed on a laser printed to 8.5" by 17" and then folded
over to give a saddle-stapled look.
Some small, colorful, but not professionally done, fliers, both
advocating and denouncing the Vietnam war.
A nicely done manual that parodies the traditional stodgy military
manual, and includes a game map, background info, and hint section.

Other than that, the money is going to cover several things: contest
prizes, unimpressive as they may seem to some, improved packaging for the
next game, the two years of spare time that has gone into Avalon, and
partly because I don't expect to sell many copies. The text adventure
market is not a large thing, doncha know.

>Actually, I was never impressed with Infocom's atmospheric packaging with
>the exception of their mysteries where the packaging actually provided
>clues to the game. What I hated was the Flathead Calendar from Zork Zero.
> It was cute and all, but it was such blatant copy protection. I've been
>thinking about getting some atmospheric packaging into registered copies
>of my game, as well (although, unlike my friend Whizzard, I won't have the
>guts to require a $25 fee for one of my games until I've given you all the
>chance to see one in entirety).
>
>Incidentally, don't mistake my comments for flames. I'm simply blunt.

Heheh, flames, naw, of course not. :) I just looked things over, saw
that materials are going to cost me $5-6 per package, realized that I've
been writing Avalon for two years, eyeballed the market, looked over the
initial investment involved, and worked out a price. Completely
arbitrary, I'm sure. :)

Anyways, see ya round. Maybe I'll write another article soon.

--
<~~~~~E~~~G~~~SIGHT~UNSEEN~~~LOST~IN~THE~FOG~~~CYBER~CHESS~~~SPAG~~~|~~~~~~~>
< V R I O Software. We bring words to life! | ~~\ >
< T "We at Vertigo apologize for the delay. Sorry." | /~\ | >
<_WATCH for Avalon in early AUGUST!___wh...@uclink.berkeley.edu__|_\__/__>

Bob Newell

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Aug 26, 1994, 7:34:29 PM8/26/94
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>>When you buy Avalon, you also receive a set of atmospheric packaging,
>>such as Infocom used to include with their games.

I'd rather skip the doodads and have it a few bucks cheaper. $25 is
pushing the outer edge for a new author, although I'd willingly pay $15 or
$20 if the demo is really good. (As I said in another posting I don't
expect everything to be free.)

But....WHEN we buy Avalon...that's the question: when ????? I hope it
comes out before some of my own vaporous games...

TEAddition

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Aug 29, 1994, 3:12:05 PM8/29/94
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In article <9408261933592...@delphi.com>, bne...@delphi.com
(Bob Newell) writes:

(Something about vaporous games -- AOL could use some work on its quoting
tools)

Yeah, I'll admit that my own games tend to sit on the edge of what I
believe has been pegged as "Vaporware," wonderful concepts on cocktail
napkins with a suspicious lack of code.

Whizzard, I continue to be curious -- if you don't expect to sell a lot of
copies, why require a purchase? Are you interested in making money or in
giving people something fun to play? Shareware may not work all that
often, but my feeling is that you'll get similar results. At least look
at the economics of the thing, supply and demand and all of that. $25 is
a bit arbitrary. Take a lesson from Woodstock -- at $135 a ticket, they
had six figures of unsold tickets, but if they had lowered the price, then
more tickets would have been sold, and more money would have been made.
And maybe less people would have jumped the fences.

I only mention this because in my own opinion, taking two or three years
to write a game does not indicate to me a JOB which would deserve payment.
It does, however, indicate a HOBBY, and when I peg myself as an IF writer
that is the extent to which I push it. I would never write "Author of
interactive fiction" as past job experience, and although I strongly
believe my game will be exceptional in the IF field, I don't think that I
should charge outrageous fees for doing something I enjoy (something I
wish the major league baseball players would think about). Sure, Firegods
will be shareware, and I'm sure a number of people will send me the $10
which I'll be asking for (especially considering that registered users of
Firegods will automatically receive Waterworlds the moment it is
released), but I'm not expecting to support myself on this game. What I'm
expecting is lots of E-mail from satisfied players, and I'd say that kind
of recognition is worth getting.

Incidentally, before I close, let me give you all a schedule for the
release of my creations:

[ The Adventures of Harold Jenkins, Interplanetary Archaeologist ]

Firegods of Elementia -- December, 1994
[ In which we meet Harold Jenkins, an Indiana Jones for the 25th-or-so
century, and begin examination of the culture of Elementia, beginning with
their religions and their Gods, who we will meet, and at whose hands we
will probably die more than a few times -- I'll give a good long plug for
this later. ]
Waterworlds of Elemntia -- August, 1995
[ In which Harold Jenkins is called back to Elementia to uncover the lost
science of this remarkable world, and possibly to set into motion the
events which will bring Elementia from desolation to prosperity. That is,
if he can hold his breath long enough. ]
Windwalkers of Elementia -- August, 1996
[ In which Harold discovers the last living members of the Elementian
people, their philosophers, and the reasons for the downfall of the planet
are made clear. Unfortunately, Elementian philosophy contains a fair
share of xenophobia, but Harold's made it this far, right? Oh, did I
mention that Elementian philosophers prefer to live a mile or two above
sea level? ]
Messiahs of Elementia -- December, 1997
[ This is the monster of the epic, and is dependant on many advances in my
own abilities as a programmer and in the AI elements of interactive
fiction, but here Harold discovers the grand design behind all of his
mysterious trips to Elementia, as he moves from his deathbed to the heart
of Elementian civilization. Has Harold become a "God on Earth," or is he
merely a pawn in a universal conspiracy of the religion, science, and
philosophy of a backwards civilization which deserved its destruction
centuries ago? ]

Yes, those release dates are written in soft wax at the moment, but maybe
it will give you some idea of the scope of what I have planned. If I've
piqued your interest, send me a line -- I'm looking for betatesting to
begin at November's end.

-TEA-

Gerry Kevin Wilson

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Aug 29, 1994, 4:45:36 PM8/29/94
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In article <33tbu5$n...@search01.news.aol.com>,

TEAddition <teadd...@aol.com> wrote:
>In article <9408261933592...@delphi.com>, bne...@delphi.com
>(Bob Newell) writes:
>
>(Something about vaporous games -- AOL could use some work on its quoting
>tools)
>
>Yeah, I'll admit that my own games tend to sit on the edge of what I
>believe has been pegged as "Vaporware," wonderful concepts on cocktail
>napkins with a suspicious lack of code.
>
>Whizzard, I continue to be curious -- if you don't expect to sell a lot of
>copies, why require a purchase? Are you interested in making money or in
>giving people something fun to play? Shareware may not work all that
>often, but my feeling is that you'll get similar results. At least look
>at the economics of the thing, supply and demand and all of that. $25 is
>a bit arbitrary. Take a lesson from Woodstock -- at $135 a ticket, they
>had six figures of unsold tickets, but if they had lowered the price, then
>more tickets would have been sold, and more money would have been made.
>And maybe less people would have jumped the fences.

I think I see our disagreement. We just have different mindsets towards IF.
To me, it's a product, and there is some demand for it, but not very
much. Now, lowering my price isn't neccessarily going to increase my
profits, because, first and foremost, when you lower prices, you have to
increase sales to maintain your previous earnings. Now, for me, things
take on a more serious vein when you consider that I have to expend
$500.00 as an initial investment, mostly from the cost of printing
manuals and buying disks and labels for 100 copies. Now, in all my
searching of the internet, I've only found about 150-200 people actively
interested in text adventures. Right now, it will take me approximately
15-20 sales to break even. I'm pretty sure I can manage that, even at
$25. However, say I lower the price to $15. Well, suddenly I have to
sell 50 copies to break even. This I'm not so sure about. The
Adventions games have apparently usually sold under 100 copies apiece.
For me, it's mostly a hobby too. But, I want to produce a quality
product, professional in writing, gameplay, and appearance. It will be
useful to me both as a business experience and when I seek work in the
gaming market. Now you folks are quite welcome to gamble $500 dollars on
a very uncertain market, or even to participate in the world of
shareware. But, you're not me. I can promise you a high quality product
at a competitive price. Adventions games sell for $40, graphic games
sell for $35-60. My game? A mere $25. That's bargain bin pricing for
most software. I'll release a playable demo of the game to the public,
so it won't be sight unseen. It's your decision whether or not to buy
the game, I'm not going to come to your house with a large man named
Guido. Or hell, if you just decide that $25 is an outrageous price for a
text adventure, then don't buy it. I'll lose $500 and drop out of the IF
market in disgust. It's no biggie. There are other markets to go into,
it's just that I happen to like IF.

Okay, let me take a few deep breaths before this turns into a rant.
<puff puff puff> Now, my price isn't arbitrary. Don't ever accuse me of
running my business arbitrarily, you'll be wrong. It comes from a
careful consideration of my market, weighed with my expenses, and then
judged against potential sales. Right now, I probably have more
information on the If market on the internet than anyone else except
maybe Dave Baggett. I know what genres people like, how many people like
them, how much most text adventures sell for, how many copies they sold,
and I even have a list of everyone who likes text adventures on my hard
drive. If someone posts "Hey, Planetfall is my favorite game!" then I
make a note that there is one sci-fi fan, and save his name to a file.
After all is said and done, I find that I have about 180 names. Then, I
look at the subscription list for SPAG and I compare the lists. Hmm, 105
subscribers, that means that there are about 80 people who either don't
know about SPAG or aren't interested in receiving SPAG. Odds are that
they would not be very receptive to newer games, and are probably just
hooked on a certain Infocom game they remember from several years ago.
Then, I ask Dave how many copies he's sold of Adventions game, he tells
me, I make a note. I eyeball the costs of production, and weigh it
against the advantages of standing out in the crowd by having unique
packaging and trying to get some of the Infocom crowd interested in IF
again, packaging wins out, as a matter of taste. That accounted for, I
look around for the lowest costs I can find, and come up with a sum of
$578.42 for 100 copies of Avalon, not including tax and shipping costs
for my materials. Only after I do all this do I set a tentative price,
which turns out to be a good one later on. So, manage your business your
way, and I'll do the same. If I sound touchy, it's because I get touchy
when people tell me that 2 years of work aren't worth my hassle and that
I don't deserve to make less than $1.00 an hour writing something that
I've poured a lot of effort, and a lot of myself into. So yes, I might
be just a tad on the touchy side.

[Rest of message deleted. I can't trust myself to remain civil and the
moment, and flames don't do anyone any good.]

--
<~~TREV ERA~~~~~~~~~~~~~SIGHT~UNSEEN~~~~~~~~NO~RELEASE~DATE~YET~~~~~~|~~~~~~~>
< I W In the jungle of the big city, a predator stalks one | ~~\ >
< GO SOFT he considers easy prey, a blind student. Feel the fear | /~\ | >
<_______________________...@uclink.berkeley.edu__|_\__/__>

Bob Newell

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Aug 29, 1994, 11:14:53 PM8/29/94
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This is becoming an interesting thread, about the cost of shareware; we had
this discussion some time back, about Adventions having a very unfortunately
limited audience for Unnkulia Zero and Rylvania, since a lot of people don't
want to pay $20. (I did order them and it was well worth the money; and I
think it's a shame more people won't see the full version of these excellent
works.)

I can and do _often_ come up with $10 for a shareware game. It's a great
price point; not too expensive to have to agonize over it, and I always end
up feeling I've gotten a good deal. I think at that price the authors get
at least _something_ back for their efforts. It's more a recognition/
appreciation thing than making a living!

I thought $25 for Perdition's Flames was right up at the top of the scale.
I ordered it more out of loyalty/appreciation for High Energy Software. It
was worth the money, to be sure, but had it been an unknown outfit I doubt
if I would have "risked" that much cash.

I still think Whizzard could do without the trinkets for Avalon and get the
price down to $15 where he could make many a sale. I suppose I'll support
him anyways, because I'm pretty soft and a bit of a spendthrift, and I'd
like to see I-F authors succeed.

And then again, sometimes I wonder.... I've kvetched about my own game, The
Pesach Adventure. Not very good, but to date I've found it on two CD
collections and a zillion BBS systems, and it has generated ZERO
registrations at $7 total cost; and that, I think, because I didn't hold
anything back except a walkthrough (and the game is so easy no adult would
ever need or want one).

Sue Medley, author of "Oklib's Revenge", offered only half the game. You
get the rest for $10, which barely covers a diskette and international mail
(from England). She once wrote and asked what I thought the "right" price
for shareware might be. But I think $10-15 will maximize your returns.

Bob Newell

Bob Newell

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Aug 29, 1994, 11:15:13 PM8/29/94
to
>take on a more serious vein when you consider that I have to expend
>$500.00 as an initial investment, mostly from the cost of printing
>manuals and buying disks and labels for 100 copies. Now, in all my

It looks as though you've done excellent market research, and you certainly
_do_ have every right to run your business as you see fit. A friendly
suggestion is.... try to reduce your initial investment. Get ONE master
laser printed and run copies at one of the cheap copy places as you need
them. Otherwise, offset printing costs will absolutely kill you. I can't
afford that in my sideline audio business, either; but the laser printed
stuff looks professional enough and satisfies almost every customer that I
have.

Same with disks and labels. Run them when you need them. I'd guess you
could get the initial investment down to about $20, and then you break even
at TWO copies at $10 each.

The trinkets and fancy printed stuff can't net you any sales outside of
retail outlets! No one can see them, and a description on the net is hardly
going to attract anyone... unless your goal is the retail market, in which
case, you are a bold and recklessly daring individual, and I salute you.

Bob Newell

Anders Haavie

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Aug 30, 1994, 11:50:28 AM8/30/94
to
In article <9408292313593...@delphi.com>, bne...@delphi.com
(Bob Newell) wrote:

> This is becoming an interesting thread, about the cost of shareware; we had
> this discussion some time back, about Adventions having a very unfortunately
> limited audience for Unnkulia Zero and Rylvania, since a lot of people don't
> want to pay $20. (I did order them and it was well worth the money; and I
> think it's a shame more people won't see the full version of these excellent
> works.)


Agree. Rylvania was one of the best games I've ever played. I would have
payed twice the price for that game if I had to do that.


> I still think Whizzard could do without the trinkets for Avalon and get the
> price down to $15 where he could make many a sale. I suppose I'll support
> him anyways, because I'm pretty soft and a bit of a spendthrift, and I'd
> like to see I-F authors succeed.

I feel the same way. Even if Avalon is priced high, I will support this
guy for all the work he does for the IF-genre. It's great that somebody
makes a thing like SPAG !!!

> And then again, sometimes I wonder.... I've kvetched about my own game, The
> Pesach Adventure. Not very good, but to date I've found it on two CD
> collections and a zillion BBS systems, and it has generated ZERO
> registrations at $7 total cost; and that, I think, because I didn't hold
> anything back except a walkthrough (and the game is so easy no adult would
> ever need or want one).

Is this a Tads game ? Why isn't it available for the macintosh ?

Anderz

--
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- Patricia: What is your greatest ambition in life?-
- Parvulesco: To become immortal and then to die.-
A bout de Souffle - Jean Luc Godard
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
aha...@ifm.uio.no Anders Haavie, Goerbitz gt 8, 0360 Oslo, Norway
LvontrierSurrealismPuretyT-shirtsRecyclingGodardisgodCoppolaContactLenses.

Steve Derby

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Aug 30, 1994, 1:38:33 PM8/30/94
to
In article <9408292313594...@delphi.com>,

Bob Newell <bne...@delphi.com> wrote:
>The trinkets and fancy printed stuff can't net you any sales outside of
>retail outlets! No one can see them, and a description on the net is hardly
>going to attract anyone... unless your goal is the retail market, in which
>case, you are a bold and recklessly daring individual, and I salute you.

This is an excellent point, Bob. These days every company and his brother
throws a rock or cardboard cutout into their packaging to add
"atmosphere", but Infocom originally started doing this to make their
product stand out on a store shelf...who, seeing the huge flying-saucer
packaging of Starcross or the mask cover of Suspended could resist
picking it up and looking it over? Later, once Infocom became something
of a household word, the trinkets became less of a selling point (less so
than the games themselves anyway), and a little later, they became
obtrusively annoying copy protection (c.f. Zork 0). It's been probably 10
years or so since the days of Infocom's "unique" packaging, tho, and I
figure a lot of people don't remember the original purpose, or are too
young to have seen the originals.


Jamieson Norrish

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Aug 31, 1994, 5:23:09 AM8/31/94
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In article <33tbu5$n...@search01.news.aol.com> teadd...@aol.com
(TEAddition) writes:

[ The Adventures of Harold Jenkins, Interplanetary Archaeologist ]

Firegods of Elementia -- December, 1994

Waterworlds of Elemntia -- August, 1995

Windwalkers of Elementia -- August, 1996

Messiahs of Elementia -- December, 1997

[.... Has Harold become a "God on Earth," or is he merely a pawn in


a universal conspiracy of the religion, science, and philosophy of
a backwards civilization which deserved its destruction centuries
ago? ]

Hmm, so when does God Emperor of Elementia come out? :)

Sorry for wasting everyone's time, but I couldn't resist that.

Oh, to make this a more reasonable post: just what is it about even
the first of these games that will mean that it/they are "exceptional"
in the IF field?

Jamie

Bob Newell

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Aug 30, 1994, 9:51:50 PM8/30/94
to
The
>> Pesach Adventure. Not very good, but to date I've found it on two CD
>
>Is this a Tads game ? Why isn't it available for the macintosh ?

I don't have access to a Mac, but the .GAM file is on ftp.gmd.de (finally I
uploaded it).

Bob Newell

Andrew C. Plotkin

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Aug 31, 1994, 9:16:34 AM8/31/94
to
Excerpts from netnews.rec.arts.int-fiction: 30-Aug-94 Re: Hello Again
folks. Bob New...@delphi.com (1224)

> The trinkets and fancy printed stuff can't net you any sales outside of
> retail outlets! No one can see them, and a description on the net is hardly
> going to attract anyone...

They attracted my attention, and I'm willing to pay extra for them. So there.

--Z

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

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