Making a viable business from IF??

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Rob Steggles

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Jul 10, 2003, 12:08:28 PM7/10/03
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Hello everyone...

As a first post, I'd just like to (provocatively?) ask why people think
there is no money to be made in IF. I'm not sure if this question is
appropriate for the forum; please excuse me if not. I just wanted to set
some brains working and get a general debate going about how it might be
possible to make a living at this IF thing....

Sure, there was a "golden age" when Infocom, Level 9, Mag Scrolls and others
made a few dollars/quid here and there but why not now? Gaming is becoming
more respectable and the overall audience for games is huge, compared to
then. Why does IF lag behind? Is it *just* a question of marketing?

I'm not really looking for answers like "well, because noone will pay for
them stoopid" or "people want graphics". I really wanted to see:
a) who had tried to make money (shareware etc)
b) how successful they'd been (ratio of downloads to people actually paying,
how much sharewarers charge), c) if their business failed, why?
d) had anyone considered merchandising of any sort on the back of certain
games (to make extra money)?

The reason I ask, and I do have an ulterior motive as you probably guessed,
is that I want to see if I can make a viable business here.

Yes, I used to work with the Magnetic Scrolls team and yes, I love writing
and yes, I'd like to get back into it and yes, I now have some time on my
hands due to being unemployed. BUT I can't afford to do this as a hobby: I
do have three kids to support and need to know if I can make a living doing
IF or if I (god forbid) have to go back to being a suit to get my rent paid,
food on the table etc..... In short, I'm trying to do a business case and
would welcome some assistance/guidance/experience from those that have tried
over the past few years

Hopefully, this will strike a chord with some folks out there ....

Rob Steggles

Rexx Magnus

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Jul 10, 2003, 12:56:53 PM7/10/03
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On Thu, 10 Jul 2003 16:08:28 GMT, Rob Steggles scrawled:

> I'm not really looking for answers like "well, because noone will pay
> for them stoopid" or "people want graphics".

*snip*

Here's one. Half of the people who use computers nowadays can't even type
properly, and would most likely have trouble.

surch hewse
seurch hewse
search hewse
search howse
search hoose!!!!111

Then give up. :)

I put it down to several factors. Lots of people can't type well and get
frustrated. They don't want to use their imagination and prefer to have
everything they do engage as many senses as possible at little to no
effort. People can't very easily play IF games with friends. Younger
users who may not be able to read/write tremendously well won't be able to
play them. Then you have the whole console market to think about - if
you're referring to selling IF in the "game" category.

I can see places in which IF might be rather good for training and
education purposes though. I was enthralled by IF when I was in primary
school - I played "A Mathemagical Adventure" and was hooked.
--
UO & AC Herbal - http://www.rexx.co.uk/herbal

To email me, visit the site.

Seebs

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Jul 10, 2003, 1:27:06 PM7/10/03
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In article <3f0d8f8a$0$25682$79c1...@nan-newsreader-03.noos.net>,

Rob Steggles <robert....@talk21.com> wrote:
>As a first post, I'd just like to (provocatively?) ask why people think
>there is no money to be made in IF.

The basic argument against it, I think, is that the free stuff is so *good*.

That said, if someone were to make a deal with Activision to re-release
Masterpieces of Infocom, possibly with some improvements to the fairly crappy
PDF's they did for manuals and hints and maps, but primarily focused on
providing interpreters for *everything* - Mac, Windows, Palm, PocketPC, Linux,
NetBSD, Solaris - I think money could be made on that.

>I'm not sure if this question is
>appropriate for the forum; please excuse me if not. I just wanted to set
>some brains working and get a general debate going about how it might be
>possible to make a living at this IF thing....

I think it would be really hard. The bulk of the gaming market wants flash.
The people who want text adventures can get LOTS of them, absolutely free.

>a) who had tried to make money (shareware etc)

Haven't seen any.

>b) how successful they'd been (ratio of downloads to people actually paying,
>how much sharewarers charge), c) if their business failed, why?

Well, shareware in general gets ratios in the .001% range. Why does the
business fail? Because lots of people are unethical.

>d) had anyone considered merchandising of any sort on the back of certain
>games (to make extra money)?

Sounds impractical, although if anyone wants, I'll put up Janitor t-shirts in
my CafePress store.

>Yes, I used to work with the Magnetic Scrolls team and yes, I love writing
>and yes, I'd like to get back into it and yes, I now have some time on my
>hands due to being unemployed. BUT I can't afford to do this as a hobby: I
>do have three kids to support and need to know if I can make a living doing
>IF or if I (god forbid) have to go back to being a suit to get my rent paid,
>food on the table etc..... In short, I'm trying to do a business case and
>would welcome some assistance/guidance/experience from those that have tried
>over the past few years

If you can pull it off, more power to you. I would be very surprised if it
could be made into a money-making career.

If it can, it'll *start* as a hobby, then a side-business... As they say,
"don't give up the day job". But if you're good, you may well be able to pull
it off.

-s
--
Copyright 2003, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach / se...@plethora.net
http://www.seebs.net/log/ - YA blog. http://www.seebs.net/ - homepage.
C/Unix wizard, pro-commerce radical, spam fighter. Boycott Spamazon!
Consulting, computers, web hosting, and shell access: http://www.plethora.net/

Andrew Plotkin

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Jul 10, 2003, 1:31:19 PM7/10/03
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Here, Rob Steggles <robert....@talk21.com> wrote:

> As a first post, I'd just like to (provocatively?) ask why people think
> there is no money to be made in IF.

I don't think that. People are demonstratably making money in IF.

I think that, at the moment, there is a very small market for IF. I
think that market can be expanded, but I don't know how to do it.

> I'm not really looking for answers like "well, because noone will pay for
> them stoopid" or "people want graphics". I really wanted to see:
> a) who had tried to make money (shareware etc)
> b) how successful they'd been (ratio of downloads to people actually paying,
> how much sharewarers charge), c) if their business failed, why?
> d) had anyone considered merchandising of any sort on the back of certain
> games (to make extra money)?

Very good questions, which I am not going to answer. (If I knew the
answers, I'd be a fair way towards knowing how to expand my market...)
You want to talk to the people who have actually tried these things.

The prospect of (more) commercial IF has been discussed here before.
Let me refer back to posts I've made:

Date: 31 Dec 2001
http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=a0q8cr%24jee%241%40news.panix.com

Date: Sun, 21 Apr 2002
http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=a9uqpe%24idv%241%40reader1.panix.com

The April 2002 post was part of a long thread -- you want to look at
everyone's thoughts, not just mine.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
* Make your vote count. Get your vote counted.

Lucian P. Smith

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Jul 10, 2003, 2:39:04 PM7/10/03
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Rob Steggles <robert....@talk21.com> wrote in <3f0d8f8a$0$25682$79c1...@nan-newsreader-03.noos.net>:
: Hello everyone...

: As a first post, I'd just like to (provocatively?) ask why people think
: there is no money to be made in IF.

I think the answer to this is "A model with an appreciable return on
investment has not yet been developed."

Clearly, IF is a niche market. Any business plan should probably look to
other niche markets for ideas. I know of at least one model that (I
think) Adam Cadre brought up a few years ago as an idea. To my knowledge,
it's never been tried with IF.

The model is the 'Street Busker Model' (or some such--street musician?),
and it comes from the idea that someone stands on a street corner, plays a
few songs, then says that he'll keep playing if he gets $X of money.
People drop money into his case until he's satisfied, and then he gives a
public performance.

In this model, you build up credibility (release a few games for free,
work at Magnetic Scrolls for several years, or whatever ;-), then say,
"I'm collecting money so I can support myself while I work on a new game.
When I get $X, I'll release it for free." Some people pay, some don't,
and if you get enough, you release it. This could work in conjunction
with some other models, too.

: a) who had tried to make money (shareware etc)

Peter Nepstead is making money with his game, 1893
(http://www.illuminatedlantern.com/1893/). How much, you'd have to ask
him. He's done extensive marketing to a variety of sources, many of which
are markets interested in the 1893 World's Fair (the subject of his game),
rather than to markets interested in IF per se. There are also a fair
amount of 'extras' on the CD you get with the game.

Michael Berlyn (formerly of Infocom) failed to make money with his company
Cascade Mountain Publishing (there was a web site, but it lapsed and
became porn). He was also selling ebooks and rare SF book editions
through his company, so it's hard to say exactly where it all went wrong.
He sold electronic versions of some old games of his, plus a physical
version of 'Once and Future', a game written by G. Kevin Wilson, an r*if
denizen who had been writing the game for years, and happened to finish
when Michael was starting off his company. (I believe GKW was going to
sell it via shareware originally.) GKW made a certain amount of money, I
think, but it was a net loss for Mr. Berlyn. When the company went under
there was a 'warehouse' worth of Once and Future boxes that were
destroyed. Michael was (and may still be) working on his own game
('Chameleon'), but didn't finish before he went under.

feelies.org is not making money, but this is by design. They are selling
IF 'packages' for freely-available games at cost (and by 'cost' they mean
'the cost of the items, and not compensating anyone for their time').
However, they at least have a working model you could plagarize and tweak
if you wanted to do a similar thing but try to make money with it. One
possibility is to combine this model with the 'Street Busker' model,
above--people contribute money, get 'feelies' and a game, and once you
make enough, you release it for free.

Another model that doesn't really work for you, but I mention for
completeness, is to market IF-writing tools. Adrift
(http://www.adrift.org.uk/) is now shareware, I believe, and managed to
find its market partially by marketing to newbies and partially by
initially being freeware.

: The reason I ask, and I do have an ulterior motive as you probably guessed,


: is that I want to see if I can make a viable business here.

I think the IF community would support you in your endeavor, just as we
supported Michael Berlyn when he gave it a go. The IF community will not
be able to support you and your family, however; you'll have to cast your
net wider. A guess about the failure of Cascade Mountain is that it was a
failure of marketing. He got an ad in GAMES magazine, and advertized on
the web, and I *think* that was it.

: Yes, I used to work with the Magnetic Scrolls team and yes, I love writing


: and yes, I'd like to get back into it and yes, I now have some time on my
: hands due to being unemployed. BUT I can't afford to do this as a hobby: I
: do have three kids to support and need to know if I can make a living doing
: IF or if I (god forbid) have to go back to being a suit to get my rent paid,
: food on the table etc..... In short, I'm trying to do a business case and
: would welcome some assistance/guidance/experience from those that have tried
: over the past few years

My honest recommendation? Being freshly unemployed is no time to try to
make money on IF. There are no business plans extant known to work, and
those that work a little bit take a *long* time to build up steam. Once
and Future took 8 years to write. 1893 took I-dunno-how-long but many
years to write, and many months to market. Even feelies.org took months
to get set up before gathering steam. If you're truly interested in
writing IF, get a job that pays the rent and gives you some spare time.
In that spare time, write IF, play IF, and build a business plan that you
can afford to have fail spectacularly. Then see if you can ease into it.

Or get a patron. That would be cool. Some rich merchant prince, maybe.

-Lucian Smith

PTN

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Jul 10, 2003, 3:53:10 PM7/10/03
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"Lucian P. Smith" <lps...@rice.edu> wrote:

> Peter Nepstad is making money with his game, 1893


> (http://www.illuminatedlantern.com/1893/). How much, you'd have to ask
> him. He's done extensive marketing to a variety of sources, many of which
> are markets interested in the 1893 World's Fair (the subject of his game),
> rather than to markets interested in IF per se. There are also a fair
> amount of 'extras' on the CD you get with the game.

Of course, there's a big difference between making money and making a
living. But coincedentally, it's been about a year since I released 1893
(well, the text version to the archive) and I'm writing up the details: what
I thought worked, what I think is a bad idea, how I marketed the game, and
exactly how many copies I've sold, broken down by month. Hopefully this is
something folks will be interested in taking a look at and give everyone a
better idea on whether to go the commercial route or not.

-- Peter
http://www.illuminatedlantern.com/1893


Neils

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Jul 10, 2003, 4:30:50 PM7/10/03
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Educational Interactive Fiction could make money if you were able to get
some school contracts.

I think the style of Photopia would work well, but obviously the content and
reading level would need to be adjusted.

You could market the right IF as a legitimate assessment tool to determine
reading comprehension among other things.

Write a few small educational items, link them to the core content
standards, make a manual that is idiot proof, and...write me and let me know
how you make out.


Neils
nclem...@mrtschool.com


Rexx Magnus

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Jul 10, 2003, 5:20:43 PM7/10/03
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On Thu, 10 Jul 2003 17:27:06 GMT, Seebs scrawled:

> The basic argument against it, I think, is that the free stuff is so
> *good*.
>
> That said, if someone were to make a deal with Activision to re-release
> Masterpieces of Infocom, possibly with some improvements to the fairly
> crappy PDF's they did for manuals and hints and maps, but primarily
> focused on providing interpreters for *everything* - Mac, Windows, Palm,
> PocketPC, Linux, NetBSD, Solaris - I think money could be made on that.

Definately. I want it and can't get it *anywhere* at all.

Rexx Magnus

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Jul 10, 2003, 5:23:33 PM7/10/03
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On Thu, 10 Jul 2003 17:31:19 GMT, Andrew Plotkin scrawled:

> Here, Rob Steggles <robert....@talk21.com> wrote:
>
>> As a first post, I'd just like to (provocatively?) ask why people think
>> there is no money to be made in IF.
>
> I don't think that. People are demonstratably making money in IF.
>
> I think that, at the moment, there is a very small market for IF. I
> think that market can be expanded, but I don't know how to do it.

Remember those eBook things that popped up not so long ago? I don't know
how they're selling nowadays, but I remember that they were pretty much an
"oh, let's get one!" thing for a while, but you hear little about them
now. They probably weren't that popular, because most people who like to
read, like doing so from a physical book. If they'd had the forethought
for more types of reading material, IF could be marketed for those
devices, they're cheap - and the medium is ideally suited to IF.

dreamfarmer

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Jul 10, 2003, 6:07:03 PM7/10/03
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I was going to raise my voice for the bookstore model rather than the
computer game model, but I see that's been done in past threads. So
instead I'll say it's occurred to me as well, that IF might be better
marketed as fiction rather than as a game. This, however, would only
work for IF written specifically with that in mind, with very low-key
puzzles and extremely solid hint systems. When I was daydreaming about
this a few weeks back, I thought that eventually there WOULD be
different levels of marketed IF, depending on puzzle cruelty.

Anyhow, it might be interesting at some point to assemble existing and
custom-written IF that would most appeal to rabid fiction readers (and
I bet we all know people who could help us test that out) on a CD and
do a test distribution of it along with a survey.

--Chrysoula

Lucian P. Smith

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Jul 10, 2003, 6:19:33 PM7/10/03
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PTN <peternepstad@(removethis)gmx.de> wrote in <QljPa.8462$fa3....@fe01.atl2.webusenet.com>:

: "Lucian P. Smith" <lps...@rice.edu> wrote:

:> Peter Nepstad is making money with his game, 1893
:> (http://www.illuminatedlantern.com/1893/). How much, you'd have to ask
:> him.

: Of course, there's a big difference between making money and making a


: living. But coincedentally, it's been about a year since I released 1893
: (well, the text version to the archive) and I'm writing up the details: what
: I thought worked, what I think is a bad idea, how I marketed the game, and
: exactly how many copies I've sold, broken down by month. Hopefully this is
: something folks will be interested in taking a look at and give everyone a
: better idea on whether to go the commercial route or not.

This would be great. Actual data? Why, whole threads might just
evaporate on contact!

Alex Warren

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Jul 10, 2003, 6:24:36 PM7/10/03
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Lucian P. Smith wrote:

> Another model that doesn't really work for you, but I mention for
> completeness, is to market IF-writing tools. Adrift
> (http://www.adrift.org.uk/) is now shareware, I believe, and managed to
> find its market partially by marketing to newbies and partially by
> initially being freeware.

Interestingly, as far as I recall, SUDS (www.sudslore.com), which was targeted
at the same market, went in the other direction - from shareware to freeware.

I wish I'd thought of the "initially being freeware" move with Quest
(www.axeuk.com/quest). It has been shareware all along and it's not doing too
badly (though it still has to be very much a hobby if you work out the
equivalent hourly rate). It too is targeted mostly at the newbie market, and
although it does have some considerable power behind it, most of the games I see
only seem to make use of the simpler features (e.g. pretty much all of them now
are made using the visual editor, despite it being possible to code by hand, and
I hardly ever see anybody making use of property inheritance) - which indicates
to me that perhaps the newbie market is considerably bigger than the market for
more advanced users. Most users seem to be happy to keep things simple.

As far as I can tell the vast majority of my customers aren't a part of the
mainstream IF community though, so I think you really do have to try and create
your own market elsewhere if you want to earn anything from an IF system.


Alex

--
alex at axeuk, and add .com for email address.
Make adventure games easily with Quest - http://www.axeuk.com/quest/
Analyse web site log files for free with Xlogan - http://www.xlogan.com/

Paul Drallos

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Jul 10, 2003, 8:02:15 PM7/10/03
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Rexx Magnus wrote:

> Remember those eBook things that popped up not so long ago? I don't know
> how they're selling nowadays, but I remember that they were pretty much an
> "oh, let's get one!" thing for a while, but you hear little about them
> now. They probably weren't that popular, because most people who like to
> read, like doing so from a physical book. If they'd had the forethought
> for more types of reading material, IF could be marketed for those
> devices, they're cheap - and the medium is ideally suited to IF.
>

Since you brought this up, I want to tell you about something
I saw recently that is related to this. It is called electronic
ink and it looks just like ink on paper, but the ink in the paper
is programable. You could put a chip into a blank book and it
will fill the pages with printed words. Drop in a different
chip and it becomes a different book. Very cool. Not on the
market yet, but coming soon.

Al

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Jul 10, 2003, 7:27:24 PM7/10/03
to
Rexx Magnus wrote:

> On Thu, 10 Jul 2003 17:27:06 GMT, Seebs scrawled:
>
> >

> > That said, if someone were to make a deal with Activision to re-release
> > Masterpieces of Infocom, possibly with some improvements to the fairly
> > crappy PDF's they did for manuals and hints and maps, but primarily
> > focused on providing interpreters for *everything* - Mac, Windows, Palm,
> > PocketPC, Linux, NetBSD, Solaris - I think money could be made on that.

How about Infocom coming up with a new Zork adventure. Its been what, 6 years
since "Grand Inquistor"?

Then there are the millions out there who have never
even been intro'd to IF in the first place.


L. Ross Raszewski

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Jul 10, 2003, 11:51:56 PM7/10/03
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On Thu, 10 Jul 2003 20:02:15 -0400, Paul Drallos <pdra...@tir.com> wrote:
>Since you brought this up, I want to tell you about something
>I saw recently that is related to this. It is called electronic
>ink and it looks just like ink on paper, but the ink in the paper
>is programable. You could put a chip into a blank book and it
>will fill the pages with printed words. Drop in a different
>chip and it becomes a different book. Very cool. Not on the
>market yet, but coming soon.
>

This has actually been around for a surprisingly long time, and I'm
getting really tired of its not being market yet. It's got all kinds
of nifty advantages, such as the fact that it only uses power when
it's changing, so if you made, say, a billboard out of the stuff, it
would keep the image on it untill you decided to change it with no
cost in electricity. Also, since the image is persistant, you can get
away with much lower refresh rates than you can with more conventional
displays.

Daniel Dawson

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Jul 10, 2003, 9:54:50 PM7/10/03
to
You pick up and read article <3F0DF659...@qadas.com>, written by
Al <rad...@qadas.com>. It says:
>How about Infocom coming up with a new Zork adventure. Its been what, 6 years
>since "Grand Inquistor"?

But Infocom does not exist anymore. RTZ, Nemesis, and ZGI (IIRC), were all
produced by Activision. And also (again, IIRC), even the Infocom label is no
longer used, only the name of the Zork series.

So, it's up to Activision.

--
| Email: Daniel Dawson <ddawson at icehouse.net> ifMUD: DanDawson |
| Web: http://www.icehouse.net/ddawson/ X-Blank: intentionally blank |


-----= Posted via Newsfeeds.Com, Uncensored Usenet News =-----
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Boluc Papuccuoglu

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Jul 11, 2003, 2:54:27 AM7/11/03
to
On Thu, 10 Jul 2003 18:08:28 +0200, "Rob Steggles"
<robert....@talk21.com> wrote:

>Hello everyone...
>
>As a first post, I'd just like to (provocatively?) ask why people think

[snip]
[end snip]


>is that I want to see if I can make a viable business here.
>
>Yes, I used to work with the Magnetic Scrolls team and yes, I love writing

[snip]
I am so glad to hear that a person who used to work with my favourite
IF company is still interested in the genre. I have a question: Were
you with Magnetic Scrolls near the end of their IF career? What made
them go out of business? They were making such superior products
(Wonderland was -at least technically- years ahead of its time). And
maybe if you know about the reason, do you think it still applies?
Maybe that's why people are unable to make money from IF these days.

Boluc

dgr...@cs.csbuak.edu

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Jul 11, 2003, 4:16:46 AM7/11/03
to
Seebs <se...@plethora.net> wrote:
> In article <3f0d8f8a$0$25682$79c1...@nan-newsreader-03.noos.net>,
> Rob Steggles <robert....@talk21.com> wrote:
>>As a first post, I'd just like to (provocatively?) ask why people think
>>there is no money to be made in IF.

> The basic argument against it, I think, is that the free stuff is so *good*.

> That said, if someone were to make a deal with Activision to re-release
> Masterpieces of Infocom, possibly with some improvements to the fairly crappy
> PDF's they did for manuals and hints and maps, but primarily focused on
> providing interpreters for *everything* - Mac, Windows, Palm, PocketPC, Linux,
> NetBSD, Solaris - I think money could be made on that.

I'm exploring a project like this right now. The interpreter coverage can
be expanded to ebookman, Gameboy Advance, Dreamcast, PSX2, Xbox, and
possibly TI92+.


--
David Griffith

Rexx Magnus

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Jul 11, 2003, 4:39:08 AM7/11/03
to
On Fri, 11 Jul 2003 00:02:15 GMT, Paul Drallos scrawled:

> Since you brought this up, I want to tell you about something
> I saw recently that is related to this. It is called electronic
> ink and it looks just like ink on paper, but the ink in the paper
> is programable. You could put a chip into a blank book and it
> will fill the pages with printed words. Drop in a different
> chip and it becomes a different book. Very cool. Not on the
> market yet, but coming soon.

How bizarre, I must now google for more information. :)

Harry

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Jul 11, 2003, 5:21:40 AM7/11/03
to
On 11 Jul 2003 08:39:08 GMT, Rexx Magnus <tras...@uk2.net> made the
world a better place by saying:

>On Fri, 11 Jul 2003 00:02:15 GMT, Paul Drallos scrawled:
>
>> Since you brought this up, I want to tell you about something
>> I saw recently that is related to this. It is called electronic
>> ink and it looks just like ink on paper, but the ink in the paper
>> is programable. You could put a chip into a blank book and it
>> will fill the pages with printed words. Drop in a different
>> chip and it becomes a different book. Very cool. Not on the
>> market yet, but coming soon.
>
>How bizarre, I must now google for more information. :)

This is interesting:

http://www.howstuffworks.com/e-ink.htm
-------------------------
"Hey, aren't you Gadget?"
"I was."

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

Rob Steggles

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Jul 11, 2003, 6:24:08 AM7/11/03
to

"Andrew Plotkin" <erky...@eblong.com> wrote in message
news:bek7t7$e38$1...@reader1.panix.com...
>

>
> The prospect of (more) commercial IF has been discussed here before.
> Let me refer back to posts I've made:
>
> Date: 31 Dec 2001
> http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=a0q8cr%24jee%241%40news.panix.com
>
> Date: Sun, 21 Apr 2002
> http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=a9uqpe%24idv%241%40reader1.panix.com
>
> The April 2002 post was part of a long thread -- you want to look at
> everyone's thoughts, not just mine.
>

Excellent material and thanks for pointing me to it. Quite a long read and
it seems I am partially covering old ground - sorry. However, I do have
some newer thoughts (see below).

> I think that, at the moment, there is a very small market for IF. I
> think that market can be expanded, but I don't know how to do it.
>
>

it seems to me that the vast majority of people are saying something to the
effect of "I'd like to be able to make money at it, but it seems somewhere
between difficult and impossible as the market isn't there right now" (the
notable exception here is Emily Short who makes some valid points about
commercialism (potentially) destroying artistic expression; I don't
necessarily agree with her points but it is nevertheless an interesting side
discussion).

Therefore, to make money the market has to expand. One of the comments on
one of the threads said Zork sold about 1 million copies. At Maggot Rolls
we didn't sell nearly that many, but we sold well into 5 figures and each
game made enough to keep a small team of 5 people in beer and skittles for a
couple of years. I really look forward to seeing the sales figures for
1893....

There has been a lot of discussion about bookshops and mobile content (I
have to say the interactive mobile gaming world doesinterest me, but that is
another topic again). This also is interesting. But this is more a
discussion about potential distribution channels rather than about the
people who play these games. To expand the community/enter new markets, I
think we need to talk about the people likely to play the games.

I do take the point that there is a potential niche in education and in
particular english language education. However the point is also made that
younger players *tend* to want 'more flash'. For english language
education, presumably they would want to be able to type "natural" language
and have it corrected. However: I'd be surprised if anyone even thought this
was a desirable direction for IFeven if it were possible.

The 'immersion into a historical event' type of game however does seem to
provide a genuinely educational experience and there is a whole history of
the world to choose from (this of course assumes it is done well and
adequately researched).

The other main cross-over idea - the "tie in with a famous author" is
worthy of consideration and may, again, make for another type of
distribution channel but I don't think authors or publishers are really
interested in creating new IF markets. They are pushing the books and that
means the IF is 'just' and add-on int his context.

What really interests me is how those people in this community that *would*
like to make a living out of IF can explore the possibilities of opening up
new markets. To explain, it seems to me that the people who might
potentially play IF (not necessarily those that do) have some or all of
these qualities:
1. they can type and have a computer, though are not necessarily whizz-bang
techies
2. they have time to play
3. they are intelligent and like puzzle solving
4. they can read english well

people that naturally fall into these categories are:
1. IF hobbyists (this forum, for example)
2. Retired folks
3. Unemployed (in between searching for jobs of course)
4. Advanced language students
5. (in a sweeping generalisation...) housewives/husbands with the kids off
their hands
6. others????

In my experience, all of these types of people used toplay the Maggot Rolls
games, though I do not make the cliam that they were the majority of the
audience. Notably, once the subject matter of the game diverged from
sci-fi/fantasy, the profile of the customers changed dramatically and it is
a notably more mature market than the console one with correspondingly
maturer tastes. Does anyone think folk in these groups would pay to play?

The last two or three points/questions/areas for further discussion I'd like
to make are:
1. reaching these new markets may not be easy or cheap, and would certainly
need to start as a "side-business" as Peter Seebach said. Nevertheless, do
people think it might be possible???

2. I suppose the argument 'against' here is Peter Seebach's one that the
free stuff is so good. I know it is, but thse people haven't seen it yet
and the 'value', ie the bit that makes people pay, could come from other
items such as original packaging, merchandise etc rather than the game
itself

3. I think it needs quite a groundswell of experienced IF writers to have
a go at this. Launching a single game into a new market once a year (or
every nine years!?!) would be like throwing a single stone into the pond.
You need more releases to make a bigger impact at first. And *all* the
above assumes that games are rigorously edited, approved and deemed
'commerically viable' before launch complete with whever merchandising is
deemed appropriate, ie that they are very good.

Apologies to any that are offended by my 'commercial' mentality / use of
marketing-speak. My only excuse is that I have been living in 'suit-world'
for far too long and I find the challenge of making things work as a
commercially viable concern as much of a challenge as the artisitic process.
I fully accept that there are those who wish to keep it as a hobby so as not
to be artistically compromised in any way. At the moment, however, I know
of no other forum for discussing this topic.

However , it seems to me that if IF is to go beyond the hobbyist community
then I think we (Ithe interested parties) need to have these sorts of
commercial discussion (but I take the point that this forum might not be the
right place).

Rob Steggles


Rob Steggles

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Jul 11, 2003, 6:36:02 AM7/11/03
to

"Boluc Papuccuoglu" <boluc.pa...@aknet.com.tr> wrote in message
news:hinsgv4tv4d88eqg5...@4ax.com...

> >Yes, I used to work with the Magnetic Scrolls team and yes, I love
writing
> [snip]
> I am so glad to hear that a person who used to work with my favourite
> IF company is still interested in the genre. I have a question: Were
> you with Magnetic Scrolls near the end of their IF career? What made
> them go out of business? They were making such superior products
> (Wonderland was -at least technically- years ahead of its time). And
> maybe if you know about the reason, do you think it still applies?
> Maybe that's why people are unable to make money from IF these days.
>
> Boluc
Thanks for the nice comments about Magnetic Scrolls and yes, I was around at
the time Wonderland was being developed though by the time it finished I had
left. Personally, I was notinvolved in either the writing or the
development, I was working on Corruption at the time it started and then
moved on to Fish! for a while and then I left. I don't know the exact
finaincial situation that Maggot Rolls was in but it seemed to me that,
advanced as Wonderland was, there was far more time and resource (and
therefore money) going into it than into any of the other projects. Again,
I don't know but strongly suspect, that sales of wonderland did not pay back
on that investment. It could be argued that this was a result of
'over-reaching' or it couldbe argued that it was simply a market downturn at
the wrong time. In any event I heard a while ago that Magnetic Scrolls was
still going, albeit with just Ken Gordon at the wheel and not producing IF
any more. I don't know if this is true (Ken? You out there lurking?) but I
do know that most of the others have moved on....

Rob Steggles


Jessica Knoch

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Jul 11, 2003, 7:27:07 AM7/11/03
to
Rob Steggles wrote:

[snips throughout]


> To explain, it seems to
> me that the people who might potentially play IF (not necessarily
> those that do) have some or all of these qualities:
> 1. they can type and have a computer, though are not necessarily
> whizz-bang techies
> 2. they have time to play
> 3. they are intelligent and like puzzle solving
> 4. they can read english well

<shock> That's my mother (except for the time). I never knew
it. I'll keep her in mind as part of the target audience.

> people that naturally fall into these categories are:
> 1. IF hobbyists (this forum, for example)
> 2. Retired folks
> 3. Unemployed (in between searching for jobs of course)
> 4. Advanced language students
> 5. (in a sweeping generalisation...) housewives/husbands with
> the kids off their hands
> 6. others????

7. People who teach/have an interest in teaching.
Note also that not everyone on this forum has the "extra time"
requirement either :-).

> In my experience, all of these types of people used toplay the
> Maggot Rolls games, though I do not make the cliam that they were
> the majority of the audience.

> Does anyone think folk in these groups would pay to play?

Hm, my mother pays to get GAMES magazine. She also buys books.
She does not, however, have a history of buying *any* computer
games. I think you would want to emphasize the book-like nature
of IF.

> 2. I suppose the argument 'against' here is Peter Seebach's one
> that the free stuff is so good. I know it is, but thse people
> haven't seen it yet and the 'value', ie the bit that makes people
> pay, could come from other items such as original packaging,
> merchandise etc rather than the game itself

Then again, if people who write the really good stuff could get
paid for it (in an distant future, say), then perhaps they
would not write as much really good free stuff. Then the rest
of us could go on writing crappy free stuff and the good people
could get royalty checks. Just a thought.

Adding in cool packaging and game tidbits is a good idea too.

> 3. I think it needs quite a groundswell of experienced IF
> writers to have a go at this. Launching a single game into a
> new market once a year (or every nine years!?!) would be like
> throwing a single stone into the pond. You need more releases to
> make a bigger impact at first.

Good points. You would want to introduce several games, or even
several small collections of games in different genres.

> Apologies to any that are offended by my 'commercial' mentality /

> use of marketing-speak. At the moment, however, I


> know of no other forum for discussing this topic.

Actually, I think raif is just the place for it. <checks FAQ> Hm,
doesn't specifically mention it one way or the other. Seems okay
to me.

--
Jess K.

Animation ... It's so great. It's way better than ... ... whatever
its alternative is.
--Homer Simpson


David Kinder

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Jul 11, 2003, 7:31:08 AM7/11/03
to
> the wrong time. In any event I heard a while ago that Magnetic Scrolls was
> still going, albeit with just Ken Gordon at the wheel and not producing IF
> any more. I don't know if this is true (Ken? You out there lurking?) but I
> do know that most of the others have moved on....

Ken is listed as the registered owner of the domain www.magneticscrolls.com,
but there's not much there other than a logo.

David


Paul Drallos

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Jul 11, 2003, 8:40:08 AM7/11/03
to
L. Ross Raszewski wrote:
>
> This has actually been around for a surprisingly long time, and I'm
> getting really tired of its not being market yet. It's got all kinds
> of nifty advantages, such as the fact that it only uses power when
> it's changing, so if you made, say, a billboard out of the stuff, it
> would keep the image on it untill you decided to change it with no
> cost in electricity. Also, since the image is persistant, you can get
> away with much lower refresh rates than you can with more conventional
> displays.

True, it's been around a few years. I got a little excited because
I finally handled a commercial-like product at an SID conference
in March. They seem to be very close to production. Here is a link:
http://www.eink.com/index.html

This technology could offer a big shot in the arm for interactive
fiction. The frame rate is too slow to be suitable for graphic
games, but IF would be a natural for it, seeming like a book
that magically writes itself based upon the actions of the 'reader'.

Maybe it would be a good idea to contact the companies that are
planning to market these type of displays and introduce them to
IF. I'm sure they are looking for game applications that are
suitable for the medium to help attract users.

Michael Coyne

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Jul 11, 2003, 9:33:44 AM7/11/03
to
On Thu, 10 Jul 2003 17:27:24 -0600, Al said to the parser:

I wouldn't even call the Activision stuff Zork adventures. They're Myst
clones set in a Zorklike universe.


Michael

Rexx Magnus

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Jul 11, 2003, 10:07:33 AM7/11/03
to
On Fri, 11 Jul 2003 09:21:40 GMT, Harry scrawled:

>>How bizarre, I must now google for more information. :)
>
> This is interesting:
>
> http://www.howstuffworks.com/e-ink.htm

Ta, having a look now.

Adam Thornton

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Jul 11, 2003, 2:28:03 PM7/11/03
to
In article <wxudnVo3noT...@comcast.com>,

Paul Drallos <pdra...@tir.com> wrote:
>This technology could offer a big shot in the arm for interactive
>fiction. The frame rate is too slow to be suitable for graphic
>games, but IF would be a natural for it, seeming like a book
>that magically writes itself based upon the actions of the 'reader'.

I just had a "Diamond Age" moment here.

Adam Thornton

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Jul 11, 2003, 2:41:22 PM7/11/03
to
In article <3f0e9053$0$28004$79c1...@nan-newsreader-01.noos.net>,

Rob Steggles <robert....@talk21.com> wrote:
>it seems to me that the vast majority of people are saying something to the
>effect of "I'd like to be able to make money at it, but it seems somewhere
>between difficult and impossible as the market isn't there right now" (the
>notable exception here is Emily Short who makes some valid points about
>commercialism (potentially) destroying artistic expression; I don't
>necessarily agree with her points but it is nevertheless an interesting side
>discussion).

Something else that *I* think hurts is that there *is* a lot of good
stuff available free.

And as for me, it's certainly a conscious decision.

Now, I'm the first to admit that I'm no Emily Short, or Andrew Plotkin,
or Adam Cadre, in terms of my writing and programming abilities (or some
conjunction of the two; I probably *am* as good a general computer
programmer as Short or Cadre, but I may not be as good an *IF*
programmer). But I write what IF I write, for fun. And I give it away,
because I want people to play it, and react to it, and give me their
feedback.

My day job pays the bills (well, OK, I'm about to have to dip into
savings because of an ill-considered refinance and a kitchen fire, but
you know what I was trying to say). I'm not in IF for the money, but
for my own amusement. So are, I think, most of the people producing
top-notch free IF. This creates a problem for those people who really
*would* like to make a living off of it, because the people doing it for
fun and giving it away for free aren't going to stop.

(Mr. Makane has just tapped me on the shoulder and pointed out that this
argument, and the presence of enthusiastic and talented amateurs, hasn't
eradicated prostitution. I think he needs an education in the relation
between supply and demand, but now is, perhaps, not the time. Actually
he might be--shudder!--right, and what you're talking about is precisely
the creation of a demand that absorbs the current supply surplus and
isn't yet satisfied.)

>2. I suppose the argument 'against' here is Peter Seebach's one that the
>free stuff is so good. I know it is, but thse people haven't seen it yet
>and the 'value', ie the bit that makes people pay, could come from other
>items such as original packaging, merchandise etc rather than the game
>itself

Yes. The problem being that the people who buy the first couple of
these, *will* find out that there's good stuff that don't cost nothin'.
If they're interested in the form, it's not like a little Googling on
"text adventure" or "interactive fiction" isn't going to lead them to
the IF-Archive pretty quickly.

>3. I think it needs quite a groundswell of experienced IF writers to have
>a go at this. Launching a single game into a new market once a year (or
>every nine years!?!) would be like throwing a single stone into the pond.
>You need more releases to make a bigger impact at first. And *all* the
>above assumes that games are rigorously edited, approved and deemed
>'commerically viable' before launch complete with whever merchandising is
>deemed appropriate, ie that they are very good.

Right, and I think, as I outlined above, the experienced IF writers
basically have better things to do.

>However , it seems to me that if IF is to go beyond the hobbyist community
>then I think we (Ithe interested parties) need to have these sorts of
>commercial discussion (but I take the point that this forum might not be the
>right place).

You're basically right, and you're right that this forum is not the
right place, precisely because it *is* the hobbyist community. I have
no problem with IF-as-a-hobby, and although I'm faintly interested in
the idea of a revival of commercial IF, I'm certainly not going to
invest any of my own effort or time into making it happen.

Adam

David Thornley

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Jul 11, 2003, 3:16:18 PM7/11/03
to
In article <3f0da1e9$0$1095$3c09...@news.plethora.net>,
Seebs <se...@plethora.net> wrote:
>In article <3f0d8f8a$0$25682$79c1...@nan-newsreader-03.noos.net>,

>Rob Steggles <robert....@talk21.com> wrote:
>>As a first post, I'd just like to (provocatively?) ask why people think
>>there is no money to be made in IF.
>
>The basic argument against it, I think, is that the free stuff is so *good*.
>
I'm not convinced by that.

How many people around here bought Once and Future, Dr. Dumont's Wild
P.A.R.T.I., and/or 1893? I know Emily sold out of the packaged
version of City of Secrets, because I was too late trying to buy one.

Obviously, none of this sold well enough to make a living, but I don't
know if that had much to do with the availability of good free IF.

So, if we had some sort of idea how many people here bought the
commercial IF games, as opposed to how many people thought they
wouldn't because there's so much good free stuff, we might be
able to estimate the impact.

(Yes, I know, it's a biased and self-selected sample. It's the
only one I know of.)

>>a) who had tried to make money (shareware etc)
>

>Haven't seen any.
>
Wasn't "Losing Your Grip" shareware? I hardly noticed it was,
myself.

>If you can pull it off, more power to you. I would be very surprised if it
>could be made into a money-making career.
>
There are a lot of people around here who would love to see somebody
make enough money on IF to call it a living (at least as long as the
people involved do not have the same names as Civil War generals),
but there isn't a lot of hope.


--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
da...@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-

Shardar

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Jul 11, 2003, 3:24:38 PM7/11/03
to

"David Kinder" <d.ki...@btinternetspamnothankyou.com> wrote in message
news:bem75r$qbl$1...@titan.btinternet.com...

Interestingly, in my shop we were all bored, had no customers, and so got
onto the subject of games.
We discussed the various 3d games etc, and the general consensus was okay
yup, they look good, but have you noticed that they never seem to have
'gameplay'. Some are getting really hard to play, almost impossible
actually, and we figured its because they have no idea how to create an
involved game anymore.
I suggested 'adventure games', and some agreed these used to be fun to play,
but all that typing gets on my nerves was a main moan.
'Okay' I said, what was it you hated about the typing?
Having to guess what the author actually meant, why they sometimes had
trouble doing something because the author spelt a word wrong, etc.
So, in the end it was agreed that the adventure games with 'nice' graphics
were popular, well written descriptions were a plus, also no injokes, not
everyone gets them.
How much would you pay I asked, if it was well written and proved popular
£15.00 max would seem fair.
A demo would have to be available too, was a cert.

Well, there you have it, my own small bit of info for those wishing to get
into commercial if game production, it should be encouraged, and I for one
would have no probs justifying the price of an IF game if it was good
enough.

Ta and stuff.

Daz.


Ross Presser

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Jul 11, 2003, 3:14:10 PM7/11/03
to
Paul Drallos <pdra...@tir.com> wrote in
news:no2cnYyTbcY...@comcast.com:

> Since you brought this up, I want to tell you about something
> I saw recently that is related to this. It is called electronic
> ink and it looks just like ink on paper, but the ink in the paper
> is programable. You could put a chip into a blank book and it
> will fill the pages with printed words. Drop in a different
> chip and it becomes a different book. Very cool. Not on the
> market yet, but coming soon.
>
>

It's been "coming" for at least 5 years already ....

--
Ross Presser -- rpresser AT imtek DOT com
"... VB is essentially the modern equivalent of vulgar Latin in 13th
Centurary Europe. Understand it, and you can travel to places you never
heard of and still understand some people." -- Alex K. Angelopoulos

Ross Presser

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Jul 11, 2003, 3:15:57 PM7/11/03
to
"Rob Steggles" <robert....@talk21.com> wrote in news:3f0e9053$0$28004
$79c1...@nan-newsreader-01.noos.net:

> I really look forward to seeing the sales figures for
> 1893....

Wow, I haven't heard that since early 1894. :)

Papillon

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Jul 11, 2003, 5:16:01 PM7/11/03
to
"Rob Steggles" <robert....@talk21.com> wrote:

>To explain, it seems to me that the people who might
>potentially play IF (not necessarily those that do) have some or all of
>these qualities:
>1. they can type and have a computer, though are not necessarily whizz-bang
>techies
>2. they have time to play
>3. they are intelligent and like puzzle solving
>4. they can read english well

One probem with IF is that a lot of the time when I choose to read things on
my computer instead of a physical book, I am looking for *light* reading. I
am reading while I am doing something else... at work tending a front desk
in case customers arrive, eating a meal (yes, I do this at my desk), waiting
for a program to compile, taking a brief break from working on something...

The mood I'm in at these moments is conducive to reading, say, fanfiction.
It is not a good mood for most IF. I don't have the time, freedom, or mental
energy to immerse myself in anything complicated. Not going to pull out the
paper to draw my little boxes-and-lines map when my attention is only there
for a few minutes, or could be interrupted at any moment. Don't want to have
to think too hard about solving puzzles and typing commands (especially if
I'm eating and my hands are therefore somewhat occupied!) I need something
that comes up on demand, entertains me briefly and without too much effort
on my part, and goes away cleanly when I get called back to whatever I was
doing.

So what I wonder is... why hasn't more work been done on intelligent,
high-quality "gamebook" games? I hate to say CYOA since that tends to have a
specific connotation of stories like those silly books - which are fun in
their own way, and could even be worth emulating if they get the nostalgia
vote.

Imagine a subscription series of Light IF For The Bored Office Worker. Every
month, there's a new story. You read through it, making choices that can be
simply activated with your mouse. You get to be involved and change the
story and read several possible outcomes, but without having to wrap your
brain around so much. You don't have to sit and stare at a prompt in
frustration trying to figure out what to type next. It's simple and fun.

(This is not meant to be an attack against traditional IF, people! I *like*
text adventures! I'm just saying that I read a lot of fanfic on my computer,
and this is why. It's easy to get into (and out of) when needed.)

Rob Steggles

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Jul 11, 2003, 5:27:03 PM7/11/03
to

"Shardar" <shardar@NOSPAM@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ntlworld.com> wrote in
message news:K9EPa.630$6U2....@newsfep2-gui.server.ntli.net...

>
>
> 'Okay' I said, what was it you hated about the typing?
> Having to guess what the author actually meant, why they sometimes had
> trouble doing something because the author spelt a word wrong, etc.
> So, in the end it was agreed that the adventure games with 'nice' graphics
> were popular, well written descriptions were a plus, also no injokes, not
> everyone gets them.

This is excellent - good questions and reasonable feedback. And they say
the art of conversation is dead.

> How much would you pay I asked, if it was well written and proved popular
> £15.00 max would seem fair.
> A demo would have to be available too, was a cert.

Peter Nepstad is charging 20 USD for 1893 (all power to him) which seems to
concur.

Rob Steggles


Rob Steggles

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Jul 11, 2003, 5:35:41 PM7/11/03
to

"Jessica Knoch" <jessan...@mindspring.com.invalid> wrote in message
news:bem705$ccd$1...@slb3.atl.mindspring.net...

> Rob Steggles wrote:
>
> <shock> That's my mother (except for the time). I never knew
> it. I'll keep her in mind as part of the target audience.
>

She certainly is part of the target audience, though she may not actually be
doing the buying. Fancy purchasing a present for her for christmas?

In terms of those that actually buy, I think the target audience will be
30-50, but buying for either parents OR children

>
> 7. People who teach/have an interest in teaching.

good suggestion, particularly for the "historical" type of game


> Hm, my mother pays to get GAMES magazine. She also buys books.
> She does not, however, have a history of buying *any* computer
> games. I think you would want to emphasize the book-like nature
> of IF.

See above, you may well need to buy her a present.

Alternatively, it occurs that parents and teachers may like to see ther
sons/daughters/pupils 'playing ' these kind of games rather than other
activities on the computer????

> Adding in cool packaging and game tidbits is a good idea too.

I agree and I have a lot of ideas here too. I think this bit is the key to
making a living. You have to think as the game as the introduction to lots
of other buying activity (sorry if I sound like a marketing chap again!)

Rob Steggles


Rob Steggles

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Jul 11, 2003, 5:46:07 PM7/11/03
to

"Papillon" <papillon_he...@bigfoot.com> wrote in message
news:pi9ugvksadsm0dpr6...@4ax.com...
> "Rob Steggles" <robert....@talk21.com> wrote:
>

> One probem with IF is that a lot of the time when I choose to read things
on
> my computer instead of a physical book, I am looking for *light* reading.
I
> am reading while I am doing something else...

Maybe a PG wodehouse type adventure would suit sir? Maybe you could find
something special to do with the silver cow creamer? ;-)

The mood I'm in at these moments is conducive to reading, say, fanfiction.
> It is not a good mood for most IF. I don't have the time, freedom, or
mental
> energy to immerse myself in anything complicated. Not going to pull out
the
> paper to draw my little boxes-and-lines map when my attention is only
there
> for a few minutes, or could be interrupted at any moment. Don't want to
have
> to think too hard about solving puzzles and typing commands (especially if
> I'm eating and my hands are therefore somewhat occupied!) I need something
> that comes up on demand, entertains me briefly and without too much effort
> on my part, and goes away cleanly when I get called back to whatever I was
> doing.

Seriously, you do a valid point. People turn to games for
....recreation..... not *just* fiendishly difficult puzzles. Would some IF
based on a historical setting be of interest to you? As in "potentially
learn something whilst being *lightly* entertained at your desk"? Or would
you rather simply be amused (Fawlty Toweres/friends/sitcom of your choice) ?

> Imagine a subscription series of Light IF For The Bored Office Worker.
Every
> month, there's a new story. You read through it, making choices that can
be
> simply activated with your mouse. You get to be involved and change the
> story and read several possible outcomes, but without having to wrap your
> brain around so much. You don't have to sit and stare at a prompt in
> frustration trying to figure out what to type next. It's simple and fun.

Good suggestion.....

Rob Steggles


ems...@mindspring.com

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Jul 11, 2003, 6:09:54 PM7/11/03
to
FWIW, City of Secrets was written on a commission, but it wasn't
designed to sell on its own as a commercial game, and it wasn't
ultimately sold per se. The version on the archive is free; I've
distributed almost exactly the same number of feelies for CoS as for
Savoir-Faire, which is to say, about 60. This is in the same range as
registration numbers for shareware IF, to the best of my knowledge.

So it doesn't really belong in a discussion of commercial IF sales in
general. P:FL and 1893 are the main points of interest here, since
they're being sold for profit and advertised beyond the community.

Paul Drallos

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Jul 11, 2003, 8:16:08 PM7/11/03
to
Ross Presser wrote:

>
> It's been "coming" for at least 5 years already ....
>

Yes, but eventually it will get here.

Eric Mayer

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Jul 12, 2003, 12:24:08 AM7/12/03
to
"Rob Steggles" <robert....@talk21.com> wrote in
news:3f0d8f8a$0$25682$79c1...@nan-newsreader-03.noos.net:

> Hello everyone...


>
> As a first post, I'd just like to (provocatively?) ask why people

> think there is no money to be made in IF. I'm not sure if this
> question is appropriate for the forum; please excuse me if not. I
> just wanted to set some brains working and get a general debate going
> about how it might be possible to make a living at this IF thing....
>
>

Whenever the question of making interactive fiction commercially viable
comes up I can't help thinking that many don't realize that even
noninteractive fiction is, for most writers, not commercially viable, at
least in the sense that the majority of professional writers don't make a
living at it, the prominence of bestselling authors in the news
notwithstanding. If that's the case for such an entrenched medium, what
chance does a medium like IF have?

It may very well be that there are quite a few people who would be
interested in IF, but the problem is reaching them. We're all awash in a
sea of of advertising, most mass media cover things proportionately to how
much money they involve, and unless one has a huge corporate budget it
isn't posible to make any impression on the general population, which you
would probably have to do, considering that potential IF enthusiasts are
likely spready fairly thinly. I suppose if you had millions you could
finance a campaign for Palm If or somesuch. "IF. Don't leave home without
it."

Consider books. The large newspapers, let alone the national media
outlets, review very few books beyond potential bestsellers. The argument
is that newspapers cover what people are interested in. Since, by
definition, more people are interested in bestsellers than non, they are
simply serving the public. Of course books that aren't reviewed can't
easily become bestsellers, but then, newspapers do not necessarily see
their job as bringing worthy books, or anything else to the public
attention. It's more "give the people what they want." And naturally
people end up wanting only what they're given because they don't know about
the alternatives.

On the other hand, it may be that there are not very many people who would
be interested in IF. Simply reading is too much of an intellectual effort
for most, so how many really want to take the trouble to interact with the
fiction? That's too much like work and, to be fair, too many people today
have altogether too much work to do.

It occurs to me to wonder what this commercially viable IF would be written
in? Inform, Tads, Hugo, Alan? Say someone wrote a bestseller in one of
those languages but the authors of the languages haven't received a cent
for all the work put into the system. That doesn't seem quite right. I
know, I need to go and read the licensing information for them.

--
Eric
http://home.epix.net/~maywrite/

===========================================================================
================================================
"Who does not see that I have taken a road, in which, incessantly and
without labor, I shall proceed so long as there shall be ink and paper in
the world? I can give no account of my life by my actions; fortune has
placed them too low; I must do it by my fancies." Michel de Montaigne
===========================================================================
================================================

Rob Steggles

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Jul 12, 2003, 1:55:39 AM7/12/03
to

"Eric Mayer" <emay...@epix.net> wrote in message
news:Xns93B63EEF...@199.224.117.11...

> "Rob Steggles" <robert....@talk21.com> wrote in
> news:3f0d8f8a$0$25682$79c1...@nan-newsreader-03.noos.net:
>
> > Hello everyone...
> >
> > As a first post, I'd just like to (provocatively?) ask why people
> > think there is no money to be made in IF. I'm not sure if this
> > question is appropriate for the forum; please excuse me if not. I
> > just wanted to set some brains working and get a general debate going
> > about how it might be possible to make a living at this IF thing....
> >
> >
> It may very well be that there are quite a few people who would be
> interested in IF, but the problem is reaching them.

Yep...that's the problem all right...

> and unless one has a huge corporate budget it
> isn't posible to make any impression on the general population,

I don't see that as *necessarily* a problem Lack of money for advertising
means you get creative. In one of my previous jobs I got more advertising
space for my product when I had a budget of zero than when I had a budget of
100k. And after all, the IF crowd are generally a creative bunch aren't
they? Ordinarily, this creative urge finds it's way into the games, but
some folk must be interested in creating a viable career

> Consider books. The large newspapers, let alone the national media
> outlets, review very few books beyond potential bestsellers. The argument
> is that newspapers cover what people are interested in. Since, by
> definition, more people are interested in bestsellers than non, they are
> simply serving the public. Of course books that aren't reviewed can't
> easily become bestsellers, but then, newspapers do not necessarily see
> their job as bringing worthy books, or anything else to the public
> attention. It's more "give the people what they want." And naturally
> people end up wanting only what they're given because they don't know
about
> the alternatives.

Good point. So we would need to make IF 'what people want' and make enugh
of a stroy for books and magazines to review them...

>
> On the other hand, it may be that there are not very many people who would
> be interested in IF. Simply reading is too much of an intellectual effort
> for most, so how many really want to take the trouble to interact with the
> fiction? That's too much like work and, to be fair, too many people today
> have altogether too much work to do.
>

Agree. It may be that there just aren't enough folks out there that are
interested. But I'd like to find out and that's what the original post was
all about.


> It occurs to me to wonder what this commercially viable IF would be
written
> in? Inform, Tads, Hugo, Alan? Say someone wrote a bestseller in one of
> those languages but the authors of the languages haven't received a cent
> for all the work put into the system. That doesn't seem quite right. I
> know, I need to go and read the licensing information for them.
>

I certainly think that, if there was a viable market for the games, the
authors of tads, inform, alan, hugo or whatever should get their just share
of the reward, as should everyone else in the chain. Of course 'just share'
is open for debate. Contractually there would need to be some licence
worked out between any company and the authors of tads, inform, hugo or alan
for protection and remuneration (on both sides). The discussion is about
whether we can possibly make the pot of money big enough to, say, invite
them to be a continual member of the team for constant updating of the
code??? If they didn't want paying/didn't want to be involved/didn't want
their portion of the loot then it could be given to charity (of their
choice) or retained by the company - that would be a question for the
licence discussion

Rob Steggles


Rob Steggles

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Jul 12, 2003, 2:32:46 AM7/12/03
to

<ems...@mindspring.com> wrote in message
news:a69830de.03071...@posting.google.com...

Thanks for the numbers even if they do suggest that any commercial venture
would be unwise to rely on the hobbyist group to purchase significant
numbers of games. So it's back to finding new players/new markets/changing
IF to meet those markets.....

Rob


Rob Steggles

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Jul 12, 2003, 2:35:01 AM7/12/03
to

"Alex Warren" <happy...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:bsorgv40q98d9g239...@4ax.com...
> Lucian P. Smith wrote:
>
>
> As far as I can tell the vast majority of my customers aren't a part of
the
> mainstream IF community though, so I think you really do have to try and
create
> your own market elsewhere if you want to earn anything from an IF system.
>

Agree. And it ain't going to be easy...

Rob


Rob Steggles

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Jul 12, 2003, 2:37:36 AM7/12/03
to

"dreamfarmer" <exst...@msn.com> wrote in message
news:a839f13.03071...@posting.google.com...
> I was going to raise my voice for the bookstore model rather than the
> computer game model, but I see that's been done in past threads. So
> instead I'll say it's occurred to me as well, that IF might be better
> marketed as fiction rather than as a game. This, however, would only
> work for IF written specifically with that in mind, with very low-key
> puzzles and extremely solid hint systems. When I was daydreaming about
> this a few weeks back, I thought that eventually there WOULD be
> different levels of marketed IF, depending on puzzle cruelty.
>

The evidence of this and other postings suggests that IF would need to be
less complex if it were to appeal to the wider markets, I agree.

> Anyhow, it might be interesting at some point to assemble existing and
> custom-written IF that would most appeal to rabid fiction readers (and
> I bet we all know people who could help us test that out) on a CD and
> do a test distribution of it along with a survey.

That would be a good next step. Anyone interested?

Rob


Rob Steggles

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Jul 12, 2003, 2:46:41 AM7/12/03
to

"Lucian P. Smith" <lps...@rice.edu> wrote in message
news:bekbs8$ksk$1...@joe.rice.edu...

> Rob Steggles <robert....@talk21.com> wrote in
<3f0d8f8a$0$25682$79c1...@nan-newsreader-03.noos.net>:

> The model is the 'Street Busker Model' (or some such--street musician?),
> and it comes from the idea that someone stands on a street corner, plays a
> few songs, then says that he'll keep playing if he gets $X of money.
> People drop money into his case until he's satisfied, and then he gives a
> public performance.
>
> In this model, you build up credibility (release a few games for free,
> work at Magnetic Scrolls for several years, or whatever ;-), then say,
> "I'm collecting money so I can support myself while I work on a new game.
> When I get $X, I'll release it for free." Some people pay, some don't,
> and if you get enough, you release it. This could work in conjunction
> with some other models, too.
>

Interesting. I was wondering if a model along the lines of " The artists
take a living wage out of the sales of this game and anything left over gets
given to charity" approach might work. A sort of worker's co-operative
perhaps???


>
> I think the IF community would support you in your endeavor, just as we
> supported Michael Berlyn when he gave it a go.

Thanks for the encouragement. It's still just an "intellectual"
exercise/pipe dream at the moment but it beats the hell out of searching
monster for non-existent jobs.


> My honest recommendation? Being freshly unemployed is no time to try to
> make money on IF. There are no business plans extant known to work, and
> those that work a little bit take a *long* time to build up steam. Once
> and Future took 8 years to write. 1893 took I-dunno-how-long but many
> years to write, and many months to market. Even feelies.org took months
> to get set up before gathering steam. If you're truly interested in
> writing IF, get a job that pays the rent and gives you some spare time.
> In that spare time, write IF, play IF, and build a business plan that you
> can afford to have fail spectacularly. Then see if you can ease into it.

Reality bites, huh? You'd make a great dad....

>
> Or get a patron. That would be cool. Some rich merchant prince, maybe.

Current patron: the French Government (I live in Paris). They have a
history of sponsoring 'artists' here with a range of benefits so your
comment may not be far off the mark especially if I can convince them that
IF is art. Rodin even got a fantastic house out of them that is now the
museum for his collection - now that really would be a trick...

Rob Steggles


Harry

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Jul 12, 2003, 4:21:30 AM7/12/03
to
On Fri, 11 Jul 2003 20:16:08 -0400, Paul Drallos <pdra...@tir.com>
made the world a better place by saying:

>Ross Presser wrote:
>
>>
>> It's been "coming" for at least 5 years already ....
>>
>Yes, but eventually it will get here.

That's what they said about cities on the moon, flying cars and the
house robot (and no-one mentioned a useless robot dog, which is what
we appear to be stuck with).

Damn it, man, I want SOME proof that I live in the 21st century!


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

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

L. Ross Raszewski

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Jul 12, 2003, 5:01:50 AM7/12/03
to
On Sat, 12 Jul 2003 10:21:30 +0200, Harry
<gad...@SPAMBLOCKhaha.demon.nl> wrote:
>
>That's what they said about cities on the moon, flying cars and the
>house robot (and no-one mentioned a useless robot dog, which is what
>we appear to be stuck with).

'This is the future? Where are the undersea colonies? Where are the
flying cars? Where are the FOOD CUBES?!'

Paul Drallos

unread,
Jul 12, 2003, 6:33:19 AM7/12/03
to
Harry wrote:

>
>
> That's what they said about cities on the moon, flying cars and the
> house robot (and no-one mentioned a useless robot dog, which is what
> we appear to be stuck with).
>

Flying cars or jet packs would really do it, but consider
the fact that today you can put in your shirt pocket a
computer that is more powerful than what used to take up
an entire room (or building) not so many years ago and
which can also give you weather, news, email, travel
reservations, etc...And then there are latest cell-phones
with cameras and web access...These were all future dreams
not so very long ago.

We are getting there.

Harry

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Jul 12, 2003, 7:10:06 AM7/12/03
to
On Sat, 12 Jul 2003 06:33:19 -0400, Paul Drallos <pdra...@tir.com>

made the world a better place by saying:

>Harry wrote:

But I want my HOUSE ROBOT, damn it!

Rexx Magnus

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Jul 12, 2003, 11:18:27 AM7/12/03
to
On Sat, 12 Jul 2003 09:01:50 GMT, L. Ross Raszewski scrawled:

It's all people!

Seebs

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Jul 12, 2003, 10:35:59 PM7/12/03
to
In article <belrpe$38mas$1...@hades.csu.net>, <dgr...@cs.csbuak.edu> wrote:
>I'm exploring a project like this right now. The interpreter coverage can
>be expanded to ebookman, Gameboy Advance, Dreamcast, PSX2, Xbox, and
>possibly TI92+.

Cool!

If you can get the licensing deal, this will be a great day for text
adventures.

BTW, one pet peeve about the "Masterpieces" thing; it does not distinguish
at all between maps which were part of the game material, and maps which were
considered hints. e.g., Suspended comes with a map, but Zork I doesn't.
Also, some bits of the "feelies" PDF file were pretty useless.

In an ideal world, the scans would be higher-resolution, and the feelies might
even be color. Disk space was not a big issue in Masterpieces.

-s
--
Copyright 2003, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach / se...@plethora.net
http://www.seebs.net/log/ - YA blog. http://www.seebs.net/ - homepage.
C/Unix wizard, pro-commerce radical, spam fighter. Boycott Spamazon!
Consulting, computers, web hosting, and shell access: http://www.plethora.net/

Seebs

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Jul 12, 2003, 10:37:08 PM7/12/03
to
In article <3f0f0d02$0$172$a186...@newsreader.visi.com>,

David Thornley <thor...@visi.com> wrote:
>How many people around here bought Once and Future, Dr. Dumont's Wild
>P.A.R.T.I., and/or 1893? I know Emily sold out of the packaged
>version of City of Secrets, because I was too late trying to buy one.

Good point.

>Obviously, none of this sold well enough to make a living, but I don't
>know if that had much to do with the availability of good free IF.

I think it almost certainly has *something* to do with it; one of the reasons
I don't buy much IF is that, hey, I have tons of games left to play already.

>There are a lot of people around here who would love to see somebody
>make enough money on IF to call it a living (at least as long as the
>people involved do not have the same names as Civil War generals),
>but there isn't a lot of hope.

Hey, if A. P. Hill can make a living on IF, great; that would imply that
other people could too.

Adam Thornton

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Jul 13, 2003, 1:38:43 AM7/13/03
to
In article <13hvgvob4u0tms1hb...@4ax.com>,

Harry <gad...@SPAMBLOCKhaha.demon.nl> wrote:
>On Fri, 11 Jul 2003 20:16:08 -0400, Paul Drallos <pdra...@tir.com>
>made the world a better place by saying:
>>Ross Presser wrote:
>>> It's been "coming" for at least 5 years already ....
>>Yes, but eventually it will get here.
>That's what they said about cities on the moon

The Chinese will have one of these by 2015. You read it here first.

Adam

Rob Steggles

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Jul 13, 2003, 6:20:57 AM7/13/03
to
Thanks for all contributions to my original post, positive and negative. I
think I've reached a few conclusions. If you're interested in how I get to
the conclusions, read on. If not the answer to the question, the executive
summary if you will, is 'not likely at the moment'.....

1. Making IF into a viable business seems to be, as most of you have
suggested difficult to impossible. At most, it seems that, in the current
state of affairs, it can be a secondary (or even tertiary) income to support
your main line ofbusiness. Peter Nepstad seems to have sold int he region
of 500 or so copies of 1893, generating $10k - not enough to live on for a
great deal of work. But still, if there are people out there, then it's a
good start

2. To make it into a viable business would mean opening up new markets
along the lines suggested, which can be time consuming, not certain and also
costly (though not necessarily). It would need to be supported by other
events like the possible creation of new genres for those new markets
and/or creating a large author-base/company-base all of whom are 'educating'
and addressing the same market. Aside: if the new markets could be opened
there would ideally be room for several companies/styles of games.

3. Reasons why I think IF is not going anywhere commercially when it used
to sell in the hundreds of thousands of copies? There are a few:
(a) The argument that there is a lot of good IF for free out there is
obviously a contributory factor. Those that want to play (and currently
have to search for it) will find lots of it out there. Enough to keep them
going for life. Merchandising, as I've suggested, may be a counterweight
here (by which I mean another way to make money), but it is by no means
clear that this is the case and, in any event, before selling the
merchandising you still have to get people to play the game...

(b) Expectations for computer games are vastly different now than then. I
do not mean that consumers 'just' want flash - that is undoubtedly so, but
it still has to be presented inthe right context. Maggot Rolls's pictures
were the thing that caught the public's eye, rather than the text, and this
level of 'flash' is incorporated into a a lot of IF. Sound and music can
easily be incorporated as well.

The console market has created an expectation that installing and running
the games is easy - bash in the cartridge (which isvery nearly baby-proof),
swicth on a nd hit the X button untilnothing is left alive. This will be
the expectation of some of the new markets. If is currently downloadabble
from web sites, youhave ot get the right interpreter, you have to have your
computer all set up inthe first place. these things still scare (though
increasingly less so) your average bod on the street - the sort of folks
that constitue the mass market; and these folks make up the majority of the
new target market. I suppose that is why there is so much talk of the
'bookstore model', ie to re-package IF in a 'non-threatening' way like a
book is seen as something commercially desirable. Which brings me on to...

Consumers now want/will pay for games that are 'complete' in the sense that,
within the logic of the game, everything the player would want to do is
catered for. this is a bit difficult to explain but take, for example,
something like gran turismo - theprogram doesn't crash, all the stuff that
is in there works and acts logically within the concept of the game. This
has now become the standard that people will accept. Even with books and
the bookstore model, the truth is that people already know the 'rules'
before buying - they expect to get a physical book with a nice bit of blurb
on the back, perhaps in hardcover, and with a fancy jacket art. They take
it home and read it - they consume the entertainment, they react to it
(emotionally, intellectually etc) but do not expect to interact with it
while reading (do I hear the sound of a philospohical discussion commencing
here?)

By comparison, the very nature of IF means that the player's inputs are not
well restricted as interation is required. The responses of the game are
sometimes unknown or unintelligible (they destroy the suspension of
disbelief) - and this is true of all IF games; parsers can be fooled and do
not understand everything yet. The 'hobbyist' community tries to push the
boundaries of what is artistically and programmatically possible, but
fundamentally accepts (and works around) the fact that IF games are limited
in their 'completeness'. What this means is that any new market will need
to be sufficiently 'educated' to know what to do with IF and what to expect
from it - not easy, time consuming, the outcome is by no means certain and
it couldbe costly.

4. So, what next?
(a) a niche market certainly exists and there is a community of individuals
that like spending time writing and playing these games. I count myself as
one of this group though I cannot claim to have been very active for the
past ten to fifteen years (it's a state of mind rather than an activity you
know)!! Personally, I find that researching new games gets you to new and
interesting places and you can end up talking to whole bunch of folks you
never knew existed before. This is great fun. Then there is the process of
creation etc. I'd like to add one more step to that creation which is to
make a commerical success, but that will have to wait. The honest pursuit
of the art will bring its own reward....

(b) What am I going to do? For myself, I haven't written a game in years
though I've had many ideas, so now I'm going to start. If it's any good I
might even try to sell some, who knows? I've missed out a lot on the last
ten years of IF whilst inhabiting suit-world so forgive me if these
scenarios have already been tried but I had in mind to do a historical game
either - set in 18C london based on the life of Jack Shepphard or something
set around the Donjon du Temple here in Paris where I live (last and final
resting place of Louis XVII and rumoured to have housed the Ark of the
Covenant at one time). Can anyone tell me whether these have been tried?
The idea will I guess it'll take me some time to learn TADS/Inform or
whatever (I never was much good as a programmer) and even longer to write
with 3 young ones running around theplace (they do tend to take up one's
time).

You never know I might have it ready in time for the 20th anniversary of the
release of The Pawn. What a scary thought.

Thanks again to all who contributed

Rob Steggles

PS If you want to send me a mail, I cna be reached at: robert (dot) steggles
(at) talk21 (dot) com


Michael Coyne

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Jul 13, 2003, 9:01:51 AM7/13/03
to
On Sun, 13 Jul 2003 05:38:43 +0000, Adam Thornton said to the parser:

> [cities on the moon]


>
> The Chinese will have one of these by 2015. You read it here first.

What do you mean by 2015?

You don't seriously believe NASA that the dark side of the moon is *empty*
do you?


Michael

David Thornley

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Jul 13, 2003, 12:55:19 PM7/13/03
to
In article <3f0fab9a$0$23637$79c1...@nan-newsreader-02.noos.net>,

Rob Steggles <robert....@talk21.com> wrote:
>
>Thanks for the numbers even if they do suggest that any commercial venture
>would be unwise to rely on the hobbyist group to purchase significant
>numbers of games. So it's back to finding new players/new markets/changing
>IF to meet those markets.....
>
That should be clear from the size of the group. Didn't the last
IF Comp have something less than 200 voters? Sell each of them
something for $20, and you have somewhat less than $4000. If you
can come up with something new for them to buy each month for that,
with minimal expenses, it isn't a bad living. Otherwise, it will
be necessary to find more people to sell to.

--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
da...@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-

Rob Steggles

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Jul 13, 2003, 1:10:08 PM7/13/03
to
> Thanks for the numbers even if they do suggest that any commercial venture
>would be unwise to rely on the hobbyist group to purchase significant
>numbers of games. So it's back to finding new players/new markets/changing
>IF to meet those markets.....
>


> That should be clear from the size of the group. Didn't the last
> IF Comp have something less than 200 voters? Sell each of them
> something for $20, and you have somewhat less than $4000. If you
> can come up with something new for them to buy each month for that,
> with minimal expenses, it isn't a bad living. Otherwise, it will
> be necessary to find more people to sell to.


Of course. I had only just found out that there were so few in the group.

Rob Steggles


Paul Drallos

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Jul 13, 2003, 2:10:07 PM7/13/03
to
David Thornley wrote:

> That should be clear from the size of the group. Didn't the last
> IF Comp have something less than 200 voters? Sell each of them
> something for $20, and you have somewhat less than $4000. If you
> can come up with something new for them to buy each month for that,
> with minimal expenses, it isn't a bad living. Otherwise, it will
> be necessary to find more people to sell to.
>

How to find more people to *sell* to. That is the question.
It has already been mentioned several times that the fact that
there is so much extremely good IF available for free, why is
anybody going to pay?

One way is to get them to pay for something else that is not
available for free. Here is what a smart person could do:

IF is basically text. Reading text on a computer screen or
on a Palm, ebookman, etc., is no longer a novelty. Reading
text on paper is not a novelty either. But reading text on
paper where the text 'magically' appears (via electronic ink)
*is* novel. At least for now. And this is a medium that is
very natural to display IF.

My suggestion is to develop an IF game system based on
electronic ink. We're talking about a piece of hardware
now. Implement some kind of convienient interface for
user input and market this system with game cartridges
which contain the IF. E-Ink is new technology (OK, it's
been around a while. But as far as consumers are concerned,
it' new.) New technology almost always sells, at least for
a couple of years. Even though free games are available,
game cartridges are not. You will make your money selling
the game system and the game cartridges. Since it's new, it
may also attract a lot of new people to the world of IF.


Quintin Stone

unread,
Jul 13, 2003, 7:37:59 PM7/13/03
to
On 13 Jul 2003, David Thornley wrote:

> That should be clear from the size of the group. Didn't the last IF
> Comp have something less than 200 voters? Sell each of them something
> for $20, and you have somewhat less than $4000. If you can come up with
> something new for them to buy each month for that, with minimal
> expenses, it isn't a bad living. Otherwise, it will be necessary to
> find more people to sell to.

Heh, a new game each month? Somehow I doubt the quality would last.

/====================================================================\
|| Quintin Stone O- > "You speak of necessary evil? One ||
|| Code Monkey < of those necessities is that if ||
|| Rebel Programmers Society > innocents must suffer, the guilty must ||
|| st...@rps.net < suffer more." -- Mackenzie Calhoun ||
|| http://www.rps.net/ > "Once Burned" by Peter David ||
\====================================================================/

dgr...@cs.csbuak.edu

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Jul 13, 2003, 9:12:26 PM7/13/03
to

Wait about fifteen days and we can all see what's on the dark side of the
moon.


--
David Griffith

Michael Coyne

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Jul 13, 2003, 9:39:42 PM7/13/03
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On Mon, 14 Jul 2003 01:12:26 +0000, dgriff said to the parser:

> Wait about fifteen days and we can all see what's on the dark side of the
> moon.

Really? What planet are you living on? : )

Earth's moon, like most moons in our solar system keep one face pointed
toward their planet.

Our moon *does* rotate but just enough to keep the one face pointing
towards us.

Hence the big deal about the 'dark side of the moon'--until we actually
orbited the moon, no one on earth had any idea what was there.

As Arthur C. Clarke notes in the introduction to 2010:

"The Apollo astronauts had already seen the film [meaning 2001] when they
left for the Moon. The crew of Apollo 8, who at Christmas, 1968, became
the first men ever to set eyes upon the Lunar Farside, told me that they
had been tempted to radio back the discovery of a large black monolith"

So there you are. r.a.i-f: IF *and* science lessons.

Only here.


Michael
--
coyneATmbDOTsympaticoDOTca
What do you mean, I need a signature?

Gene Wirchenko

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Jul 13, 2003, 10:16:41 PM7/13/03
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Quintin Stone <st...@rps.net> wrote:

>On 13 Jul 2003, David Thornley wrote:
>
>> That should be clear from the size of the group. Didn't the last IF
>> Comp have something less than 200 voters? Sell each of them something
>> for $20, and you have somewhat less than $4000. If you can come up with
>> something new for them to buy each month for that, with minimal
>> expenses, it isn't a bad living. Otherwise, it will be necessary to
>> find more people to sell to.
>
>Heh, a new game each month? Somehow I doubt the quality would last.

The model is in use: magazines.

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko

Computerese Irregular Verb Conjugation:
I have preferences.
You have biases.
He/She has prejudices.

Asa Rossoff

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Jul 14, 2003, 1:57:17 AM7/14/03