Selling IF: A Genuine Plan.

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Ivan Cockrum

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Apr 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/25/98
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A lot of discussion has been going on lately about selling IF over the
internet. And there's been a lot of historical discussion about getting
IF back on store shelves in one form or another. Well, I have a business
contact who may be able to help make all of this possible, if we're
willing to work with him.

Chris runs Optical Data Resources, a CD-ROM replication shop that is a
subset of a larger conglomerate of media replication and fulfillment
companies, which includes Premiere America (www.premiereamerica.com) and
Paragon Media (www.paragongroup.com). (Ignore how ugly and dysfunctional
these websites are. In fact, I'm in the process of redesigning the
Premiere America site, as well as creating a new site for ODR.)

He can offer full access to everything we need. For online purchasing:
secure server, credit card processing (look here:
http://home.paragongroup.com/fulfillment_2.html#internet_capture), 24-hour
call center, fulfillment processing, etc. For physical publication:
CD-ROM and floppy replication, ties to nationwide (US, that is - I don't
know about international) distributors, relations with print shops.

Though he has access to all of this, he and his people are not content
developers. They sell media, and some content developed by other people.
Now, Chris's CD-ROM shop is a very small part of the overall conglomerate,
but he wants to take advantage of all these services he has access to by
partnering with some content developers. Chris is a big game fan. He's
done replication jobs for Sierra and Microsoft, plays all the latest
games. I've shown him some IF, and while I don't think he'd really played
any before, I think he appreciates that it has the potential to find an
audience if marketed correctly.

So, basically, here's the proposition. If we can get something ready for
market, Chris can replicate the media, get the printing done for manuals &
such, supply the back end for a web site (we can do our own front end and
domain name), and try to push it to his distribution contacts. All of
this means no cost on the developer's part to create a professional
package.

The catch? Well, he's probably going to want around 50% of the gross.
That's a rough figure and subject to negotiation - Chris is a good guy -
but that's business. He wants to make a profit. But remember - this is
50% of gross on an actual, physical product.

Now, my personal feeling is that no one single game (Avalon excepting) is
going to justify all of this muscle. There's just not going to be enough
return on investment. However, if a bunch of us can put together a
serious unified venture - a kooky little thing called TextFire springs to
mind - and create, say, 5 - 10 new, full sized games, then I believe that
might justify the effort of producing and marketing a CD-ROM.
Alternately, I think a smaller number of text/graphic games done with
HyperTads or Blorb would do.

I do also want to work something out where we can sell games directly
through the website for a reasonable percentage of the gross - after all,
no media, no production costs.

So this is it. Here's your chance to put your money where your mouth is.
By myself, I have little to offer Chris. As a team, perhaps we can live
the dream of reviving commercial IF. Let's start with some open
discussion. Once we determine if anyone here is interested, I recommend
we try to have some organized meetings on ifMUD.

-- Ivan

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To reply by email, remove "NOSPAM" from the address above.

IF

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Apr 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/26/98
to Ivan Cockrum


Ivan Cockrum wrote:

While it's not entierly new, I'm currently in production of a H-TADS
version of Babel, complete with sound and graphics that should be ready in
about six months. I would be more than happy to give this game for use on the
CD, and, for my part, would not ask any reimbursment, so my share of whatever
profits are made could go directly to Chris, which would let everyone else
have a slightly larger slice. Also, any further games I do would also be up
for grabs. Let me know if anything comes of it.

Ian Finley


Mark J Musante

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Apr 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/26/98
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Ivan Cockrum (iv...@NOSPAMcockrumville.com) wrote:
> A lot of discussion has been going on lately about selling IF over the
> internet. And there's been a lot of historical discussion about getting
> IF back on store shelves in one form or another. Well, I have a business
> contact who may be able to help make all of this possible, if we're
> willing to work with him.

If I may so bold, I'd like to suggest that this might be one of those
ideas Whose Time Has Come.

First David "Jarbigruen" Cornelson, then Mike Berlyn, and now you.
I would love to be able to make a living at writing IF, but I really
don't see the market for it.


-=- Mark -=-

Ivan Cockrum

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Apr 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/26/98
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In article <Es1FK...@world.std.com>, olo...@world.std.com (Mark J
Musante) wrote:

> First David "Jarbigruen" Cornelson, then Mike Berlyn, and now you.
> I would love to be able to make a living at writing IF, but I really
> don't see the market for it.

The big trick is to MAKE the market. Like Mike Berlyn says, you gotta go
after 'niche markets,' and tailor your product specifically to those
groups.

Phil Goetz

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Apr 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/27/98
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In article <35436175...@ix.netcom.com>,

IF <mord...@ix.netcom.com> wrote:
>
>
> While it's not entierly new, I'm currently in production of a H-TADS
>version of Babel, complete with sound and graphics that should be ready in
>about six months. I would be more than happy to give this game for use on the
>CD, and, for my part, would not ask any reimbursment, so my share of whatever
>profits are made could go directly to Chris, which would let everyone else
>have a slightly larger slice. Also, any further games I do would also be up
>for grabs. Let me know if anything comes of it.
>
>Ian Finley
>

This is a generous offer, but if we want to become commercial authors
I think giving your work away free is not a good way to start.
It makes it harder for other authors to strike good deals.

What happened to the IF CD that was compiled over a year ago,
with games from rec.arts.int-fiction,
and was supposed to be out for Christmas '97?

Phil Go...@zoesis.com

Mark J Musante

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Apr 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/27/98
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Phil Goetz (go...@cs.buffalo.edu) wrote:
> What happened to the IF CD that was compiled over a year ago,
> with games from rec.arts.int-fiction,
> and was supposed to be out for Christmas '97?

http://x9.dejanews.com/getdoc.xp?AN=295226724


-=- Mark -=-

Neil Brown

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Apr 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/27/98
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Wouldn't this have been quicker and easier in English? :-)

To address the original question, if you mean the CD I think you mean,
then the project was abandoned, for various reasons.

- NJB

George Caswell

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Apr 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/27/98
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On 27 Apr 1998, Phil Goetz wrote:

> In article <35436175...@ix.netcom.com>,
> IF <mord...@ix.netcom.com> wrote:
> >
> >
> > While it's not entierly new, I'm currently in production of a H-TADS
> >version of Babel, complete with sound and graphics that should be ready in
> >about six months. I would be more than happy to give this game for use on the
> >CD, and, for my part, would not ask any reimbursment, so my share of whatever
> >profits are made could go directly to Chris, which would let everyone else
> >have a slightly larger slice. Also, any further games I do would also be up
> >for grabs. Let me know if anything comes of it.
> >
> >Ian Finley
> >
>
> This is a generous offer, but if we want to become commercial authors
> I think giving your work away free is not a good way to start.
> It makes it harder for other authors to strike good deals.
>

I think the small army of shareware authors would disagree with that.

So do I, for that matter. Releasing a game for free means people are more
likely to play it-- and hence more likely to say "Hey, that was cool, where
can I get more??"... (And particularly if you're willing to make the game
free in a broader sense as free software... although I can understand why
people would be reluctant to do so, if they don't want people tampering with
their stories.)

And anyway, I think he was saying that he'd contribute it to the CD
project, to be sold on the CD without him getting money, which would mean that
there'd be more project money left at the end to either split among
contributing authors or whatever....

> What happened to the IF CD that was compiled over a year ago,
> with games from rec.arts.int-fiction,
> and was supposed to be out for Christmas '97?
>

Oh, right, Infocom Masterpieces. :)
________________________________________________
______________ _/> ____ | George Caswell: WPI CS'99. Member of SOMA team |
<___ _________// _/<_ / | LnL Projectionist-in-action! Linux+PC hobbyist.|
// <> ___ < > / _/ | "Cue!" -HP "Did you just say 'cue!'??" -CC |
// /> / / _/ / / <____ | "Yes I did..." -HP "Shit!" -CC |
// </ <<</ < _/ <______/ |_For more info see http://www.wpi.edu/~timbuktu_|
</ </

PGP 2.6.2 public key print D9 88 A0 53 DC 7E 66 F1 B7 44 D1 7E 48 95 D8 E0


Andrew Plotkin

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Apr 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/27/98
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Phil Goetz (go...@cs.buffalo.edu) wrote:
> In article <35436175...@ix.netcom.com>,
> IF <mord...@ix.netcom.com> wrote:
> >
> > While it's not entierly new, I'm currently in production of a H-TADS
> >version of Babel, complete with sound and graphics that should be ready in
> >about six months. I would be more than happy to give this game for use on the
> >CD, and, for my part, would not ask any reimbursment, so my share of whatever
> >profits are made could go directly to Chris, which would let everyone else
> >have a slightly larger slice. Also, any further games I do would also be up
> >for grabs. Let me know if anything comes of it.

> This is a generous offer, but if we want to become commercial authors


> I think giving your work away free is not a good way to start.
> It makes it harder for other authors to strike good deals.

Hm. I've also heard the opposite argument -- that if there's a channel for
people to sell IF, it will reduce the amount of good free IF, because
all the authors will be tempted by filthy lucre and go commercial!

I think both of these arguments are -- not false, because both factors
will occur to some extent -- but unimportant. Neither is a reason to hold
back from either commercial IF ventures or free ones. It will always be
possible to write freeware IF; it will always be possible to charge money
for IF, at least by shareware. Neither form will destroy the other.

> What happened to the IF CD that was compiled over a year ago,
> with games from rec.arts.int-fiction,
> and was supposed to be out for Christmas '97?

I was in charge. I failed to pull it together. It did not happen. I could
have pretended to believe I would get back to it someday, but it would
have been silly, so I declared it dead.

Ivan has been (of his own initiative) considering restarting the project;
that's what he's been talking about. He has my big pile of unfinished
files. But it's his problem now, not mine. :)

--Z

--

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

George Caswell

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Apr 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/27/98
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On 28 Apr 1998, Erik Hetzner wrote:

> On the other hand, I envision small packages, probably the size of books-on-
> tape or video casettes, perhaps a flap that opens on the front, cover art,
> back blurbs from reviewers and quotes from the game (not screenshots, because
> for the most part, who cares?). I envision a small 3" CD inside, containing
> interpreters for many platforms, the game file. From the beginning, we ought
> to create an atmosphere for /each/ game, whatever it is. On the inside, we
> could have whatever sorts of introductory material we want -- manuals,
> pictures, art, etc. Plus information about running the game for each platform.
>
(Should keep in mind that not every CD drive can use 3 inch CDs. CD
changers come to mind.)

> In short, think: Infocom = hardcover book. This = paperback book + small label
> punk band, art appeal, independent.
>
> Price = $10 or less. I don't know how feasible this is, but it allows for:
> $2 cd duping.
> $8 packaging.
>
If you can produce in bulk (silver cd's vs. gold) the copying price will be
much less. (I assume you mean $2 per CD as the going price for CD-R's)

> I like the idea of commercially publishing IF, at least some of it. I just
> think that, although it's cool to have Internet distribution, cover art,
> blurbs, and packaging all make for games that can be more fun.
>
It should be noted, this can be done already, electronically- You could
include graphics and documents with your game file. This just isn't done much
tho.. (All right, all right, in fact people don't read from a screen as well
as they do from paper, but...)

Erik Hetzner

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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Ivan Cockrum (iv...@NOSPAMcockrumville.com) wrote:


: Now, my personal feeling is that no one single game (Avalon excepting) is


: going to justify all of this muscle. There's just not going to be enough
: return on investment. However, if a bunch of us can put together a
: serious unified venture - a kooky little thing called TextFire springs to
: mind - and create, say, 5 - 10 new, full sized games, then I believe that
: might justify the effort of producing and marketing a CD-ROM.
: Alternately, I think a smaller number of text/graphic games done with
: HyperTads or Blorb would do.

Hmm. My own two cents regarding this passage and the rest.

First, I disagree (at least at this point) with this statement, because I
believe that commercial IF will be best produced in single game packages,
that are cheap to buy, small for shipping. Like, as somebody said before,
a paperback book. When games are packaged in large bunches, I think you'll
find, that it looks like something whose time has passed. A large bunch
of games from a bygone era, of interest only to people who experienced that
era.

On the other hand, I envision small packages, probably the size of books-on-
tape or video casettes, perhaps a flap that opens on the front, cover art,
back blurbs from reviewers and quotes from the game (not screenshots, because
for the most part, who cares?). I envision a small 3" CD inside, containing
interpreters for many platforms, the game file. From the beginning, we ought
to create an atmosphere for /each/ game, whatever it is. On the inside, we
could have whatever sorts of introductory material we want -- manuals,
pictures, art, etc. Plus information about running the game for each platform.

In short, think: Infocom = hardcover book. This = paperback book + small label


punk band, art appeal, independent.

Price = $10 or less. I don't know how feasible this is, but it allows for:
$2 cd duping.
$8 packaging.

We can worry about profit later, IMO. Because the thrill of seeing your game
for sale on a web site, or for sale on the shelves of your local independent
bookstore, would be incredible.

Organization: an outside company handles distribution, and among us loose
co-operative, some sort of worker co-operative publisher, that accepts and
rejects projects, makes cover art, whatever. Hmm. Or something like that. :)

I like the idea of commercially publishing IF, at least some of it. I just
think that, although it's cool to have Internet distribution, cover art,
blurbs, and packaging all make for games that can be more fun.

---- Erik Hetzner ---- I'm celebrating my love for you
er...@cafe.berkeley.edu With a pint of beer and a new tattoo.

Jason Compton

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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All of this talk is very nice but the only person who has mentioned buying
the CU Amiga IF-laden CD is an Amiga user who would have bought it anyway.
It's out. Has been out for two weeks now. The jewel case has a very nice
big IF logo on the back sleeve. (I have also had exactly one letter from
an American whose local Borders and Barnes and Noble deny knowledge of the
magazine--not surprising, but also not true since some stores in the
chains do carry them)

Now, I don't want to make too sweeping of a generalization, but if the
hardcore IF community hasn't exactly fallen over itself to buy a CD with
40+ megs of IF stuff on it, what hope is there for any sort of attempt to
make money off of a dedicated product of lesser scope?

--
Jason Compton jcom...@xnet.com
Editor-in-Chief, Amiga Report Magazine VP, Legacy Maker Inc.
http://www.cucug.org/ar/ http://www.xnet.com/~jcompton/
Choose and renounce... throwing chains to the floor.

Andrew Plotkin

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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Jason Compton (jcom...@typhoon.xnet.com) wrote:
> All of this talk is very nice but the only person who has mentioned buying
> the CU Amiga IF-laden CD is an Amiga user who would have bought it anyway.
> It's out. Has been out for two weeks now. The jewel case has a very nice
> big IF logo on the back sleeve. (I have also had exactly one letter from
> an American whose local Borders and Barnes and Noble deny knowledge of the
> magazine--not surprising, but also not true since some stores in the
> chains do carry them)

I went into my local Borders on April 22, and I saw the April issue of CU
Amiga.

So I decided to go back around May 22 -- well, probably starting on the
15th -- and look for the May issue then.

We're talking about the May issue, right? That's what I was told on
IFMUD. The issue I looked at didn't seem to have any IF articles.

Den of Iniquity

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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On 27 Apr 1998, Phil Goetz wrote:
> IF <mord...@ix.netcom.com> wrote:
>>I... for my part, would not ask any reimbursment, so my share of

>>whatever profits are made could go directly to Chris, which would let
>>everyone else have a slightly larger slice. Also, any further games I
>>do would also be up for grabs. Let me know if anything comes of it.

> This is a generous offer, but if we want to become commercial authors
> I think giving your work away free is not a good way to start.
> It makes it harder for other authors to strike good deals.

I wouldn't be quite so negative but I would warn Ian that even though he
isn't profiting, if people buy the CD and write to the author about the
game, they're going to expect to be treated like paying customers, like it
or not. Especially if they have any complaints to make (not that anyone
should, but strange things happen to people when they part with money and
find that they're not entirely satisfied).

Also, I imagine that most people would find a small income far more
encouraging in writing future projects than a few letters of praise. Or
maybe that's just me. :)

--
Den


Den of Iniquity

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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On Mon, 27 Apr 1998, George Caswell wrote:

>On 28 Apr 1998, Erik Hetzner wrote:

>> I envision a small 3" CD inside, containing interpreters for many
>> platforms, the game file.

> (Should keep in mind that not every CD drive can use 3 inch CDs. CD
>changers come to mind.)

Also, I'd wager the small CD's are more expensive than traditional ones.
Someone will now doubtless prove me wrong with some research they just
happened to do on the subject a couple of weeks ago.

--
Den


Den of Iniquity

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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On Tue, 28 Apr 1998, Andrew Plotkin wrote:

>Jason Compton (jcom...@typhoon.xnet.com) wrote:
>> All of this talk is very nice but the only person who has mentioned buying
>> the CU Amiga IF-laden CD is an Amiga user who would have bought it anyway.

Fame! [An Amiga user who subscribes to the mag and wrote them some email
pressing them to include that article on i-f a few months ago, I should
add. :) ]

>We're talking about the May issue, right? That's what I was told on
>IFMUD. The issue I looked at didn't seem to have any IF articles.

Yah. May issue it is; it's customary for magazines to come out in the
month before the one they are supposedly destined for, presumably because
they review products that are due for release in the aforementioned month.
I think one Mac magazine over here once got to two months ahead.

In the UK, The May issue of CU-Amiga hit the subscribers around the 8th
April, hit the shelves around the 14th. I presume that, as a regular
article writer, Jason gets a subscription mag, and he got his last
weekend, so it might hit the North American shelves sometime over the next
few days if it hasn't yet arrived.

The front cover had an orange logo and for some reason depicts a
snow-boarder or some other energetic 'extreme sports' person, no doubt
something vaguely to do with the digital camera feature. Logic ain't a
strong point in such matters.

--
Den

Chris Marriott

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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Jason Compton wrote in message <6i3jpv$knu$1...@flood.xnet.com>...


>Now, I don't want to make too sweeping of a generalization, but if the
>hardcore IF community hasn't exactly fallen over itself to buy a CD with
>40+ megs of IF stuff on it, what hope is there for any sort of attempt to
>make money off of a dedicated product of lesser scope?


The "hard core IF community" knows about, and has easy access to, the gmd IF
archive and doesn't NEED this CD!

Chris
----------------------------------------------------------------
Chris Marriott, SkyMap Software, UK (ch...@skymap.com).
Visit our web site at: http://www.skymap.com
Astronomy software written by astronomers, for astronomers.


Jason Compton

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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Andrew Plotkin (erky...@netcom.com) wrote:
: We're talking about the May issue, right? That's what I was told on
: IFMUD. The issue I looked at didn't seem to have any IF articles.

Yes, the May issue is what you want. It'll be tough to miss, the top bar
will be fluorescent orance with the rest of it a bright blue with a
snowboarder, and "Interactive Fiction" will be one of the cover stories.

Jason Compton

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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Chris Marriott (ch...@NOSPAM.skymap.com) wrote:

: The "hard core IF community" knows about, and has easy access to, the gmd IF


: archive and doesn't NEED this CD!

Except that they've been the ones who have campaigned time and time again
for an IF CD.

Samuel DAF Barlow

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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On Tue, 28 Apr 1998, Den of Iniquity wrote:

> I wouldn't be quite so negative but I would warn Ian that even though he
> isn't profiting, if people buy the CD and write to the author about the
> game, they're going to expect to be treated like paying customers, like it
> or not. Especially if they have any complaints to make (not that anyone
> should, but strange things happen to people when they part with money and
> find that they're not entirely satisfied).
>

Any game that is sold for money will have to been tested to hell before
release. The normal routine of release v1 then receive copious
bug-reports and release a much-improved v2 will not be acceptable for
commercial releases. This will require much more alpha/beta/omega
testing than is usual to authors of freeware-IF. IF I bought a
commercial IF game and it had any *spelling mistakes* then I would be
irked. So you can imagine how I'd feel if there were bugs. And getting a
fixed-copy to all the people who bought the original is not easy when
the game isn't freely downloadable from gmd.de.

But, yes -- the idea is very attractive. You could hold some sort of
deadline (like for the If.comp) when authors had to get works in by and
then choose the best. Spend another 1/2 year getting them water-tight
for release. I would love to *buy* IF (and I'm not talking about
shareware IF) -- its the same difference as between borrowing a book
from a library and acutally buying a book. (Thats how I feel anyway)

Sam.

(who looks forward to the day when a top-selling computer games magazine
has a cover along the lines of 'INSIDE! NEW ADAM CADRE GAME!' and a big
picture of a busty 18-yr old exploring ancient greece)


Stephen Granade

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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On 28 Apr 1998, Jason Compton wrote:

> Now, I don't want to make too sweeping of a generalization, but if the
> hardcore IF community hasn't exactly fallen over itself to buy a CD with
> 40+ megs of IF stuff on it, what hope is there for any sort of attempt to
> make money off of a dedicated product of lesser scope?

My guess is that there are more factors at work than people's willingness
(or lack thereof) to buy an IF CD. People have reported having problems
finding the magazine; the CD contains nothing new; the audience for which
the CD is intended is not necessarily the same as that for a pure
commercial venture or even for the GUA CD.

Stephen

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


Francis Irving

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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On 28 Apr 1998 03:52:31 GMT, jcom...@typhoon.xnet.com (Jason Compton)
wrote:

>Now, I don't want to make too sweeping of a generalization, but if the
>hardcore IF community hasn't exactly fallen over itself to buy a CD with
>40+ megs of IF stuff on it, what hope is there for any sort of attempt to
>make money off of a dedicated product of lesser scope?

Marketing an individual game with fun packaging is very different from
selling an archive CD. From my point of view, I feel that I've
already downloaded what I want on the CD from the internet. I might
buy the magazine to read the articles, to see IF in print, but I'm not
massively tempted by the CD.

People are up to their ears in information, data, stuff these days. A
CD collection is useful to people who are involved in the subject, and
like the convenience of not needing a net download.

A high quality game, with attractive packaging, and maybe moderate
graphics/sound in an attractive interface, is much more likely to sell
to people who don't have the time to look through a large collection.

Francis.

Home: fra...@pobox.co.uk Web: www.meta.demon.co.uk

Jason Compton

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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Stephen Granade (sgra...@bohr.phy.duke.edu) wrote:

: On 28 Apr 1998, Jason Compton wrote:
:
: > Now, I don't want to make too sweeping of a generalization, but if the
: > hardcore IF community hasn't exactly fallen over itself to buy a CD with
: > 40+ megs of IF stuff on it, what hope is there for any sort of attempt to
: > make money off of a dedicated product of lesser scope?
:
: My guess is that there are more factors at work than people's willingness

: (or lack thereof) to buy an IF CD. People have reported having problems
: finding the magazine; the CD contains nothing new; the audience for which
: the CD is intended is not necessarily the same as that for a pure
: commercial venture or even for the GUA CD.

Well, at least I got everybody's attention.

Yes, of course, it's not the same as either of those (although I submit
that it's a pretty decent substitute for GUA). But as an imperfect
substitute yet a similar product, I say that there are still a couple of
lessons to be learned here.

Including the fact that it's damn difficult to get major bookstores to
carry specialty items! Even when some members of the chain carry the
product!

co...@altavista.net

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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In article <6i3jpv$knu$1...@flood.xnet.com>,

jcom...@typhoon.xnet.com (Jason Compton) wrote:
>
> All of this talk is very nice but the only person who has mentioned buying
> the CU Amiga IF-laden CD is an Amiga user who would have bought it anyway.
> It's out. Has been out for two weeks now. The jewel case has a very nice
> big IF logo on the back sleeve. (I have also had exactly one letter from
> an American whose local Borders and Barnes and Noble deny knowledge of the
> magazine--not surprising, but also not true since some stores in the
> chains do carry them)
>

The Barnes and Noble in Keystone (Indianapolis, IN) does carry the magazine.
I will be purchasing it as soon as the May issue arrives (the imports take a
little while). Thank you, Jason, for all of your hard work putting together
and promoting this CD archive.

I hesitate to make this offer for fear of being overrun with requests, but I
am willing to purchase extra copies of the magazine to send to any US
resident who wants one but is unable to get one in their area. I must limit
this offer to US residents because I don't want to deal with determining
postage for sending them to other countries. I will charge only the cost of
the magazine, tax, postage and a few cents extra for the big envelopes. I
don't know how many copies the store will have, so I will make a list of
requests and fill them in the order that they are placed. I will take
requests through the afternoon of April 30, because I will probably go to the
bookstore that evening.

Send your name, address and email address to me at my work address:

randy_cox@truevision!!!.com (removing the exclamation marks, of course.)

I hope this is a good idea. I guess I'll find out.

--Randy "Magazine Boy" Cox

-----== Posted via Deja News, The Leader in Internet Discussion ==-----
http://www.dejanews.com/ Now offering spam-free web-based newsreading

Andrew Plotkin

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Jason Compton (jcom...@typhoon.xnet.com) wrote:
> Stephen Granade (sgra...@bohr.phy.duke.edu) wrote:
> : On 28 Apr 1998, Jason Compton wrote:
> :
> : > Now, I don't want to make too sweeping of a generalization, but if the
> : > hardcore IF community hasn't exactly fallen over itself to buy a CD with
> : > 40+ megs of IF stuff on it, what hope is there for any sort of attempt to
> : > make money off of a dedicated product of lesser scope?
> :
> : My guess is that there are more factors at work than people's willingness
> : (or lack thereof) to buy an IF CD. People have reported having problems
> : finding the magazine; the CD contains nothing new; the audience for which
> : the CD is intended is not necessarily the same as that for a pure
> : commercial venture or even for the GUA CD.

> Well, at least I got everybody's attention.

I wish people wouldn't take false positions just to get attention.
There's enough dishonesty on the Net.

I could go into a discussion of the goal and target audience of the GUA CD
project (and Ivan's version). But if you already know what the answer to
your question is, I won't bother.

Magnus Olsson

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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In article <Pine.LNX.3.96.98042...@adamant.res.wpi.net>,

George Caswell <timb...@wpi.edu> wrote:
>On 27 Apr 1998, Phil Goetz wrote:
>
>> In article <35436175...@ix.netcom.com>,
>> IF <mord...@ix.netcom.com> wrote:
>> >
>> >
>> > While it's not entierly new, I'm currently in production of a H-TADS
>> >version of Babel, complete with sound and graphics that should be ready in
>> >about six months. I would be more than happy to give this game for
>use on the
>> >CD, and, for my part, would not ask any reimbursment, so my share of whatever

>> >profits are made could go directly to Chris, which would let everyone else
>> >have a slightly larger slice. Also, any further games I do would also be up
>> >for grabs. Let me know if anything comes of it.

>> This is a generous offer, but if we want to become commercial authors
>> I think giving your work away free is not a good way to start.
>> It makes it harder for other authors to strike good deals.
>>

> I think the small army of shareware authors would disagree with that.

Shareware isn't about giving things away for free, at least not for most
definitions of shareware. The most common definition is "download
now, pay later, if you liked the program".

I suppose you mean the small army of freeware authors?

> So do I, for that matter. Releasing a game for free means people are more
>likely to play it-- and hence more likely to say "Hey, that was cool, where
>can I get more??"... (And particularly if you're willing to make the game
>free in a broader sense as free software... although I can understand why
>people would be reluctant to do so, if they don't want people tampering with
>their stories.)
>
> And anyway, I think he was saying that he'd contribute it to the CD
>project, to be sold on the CD without him getting money, which would mean that
>there'd be more project money left at the end to either split among
>contributing authors or whatever....

Indeed, that's what he said. What I think Phil meant, and if he does I
certainly agree with him, is that it's a bad idea to give away your work
for free to a publisher, *who's then going to sell it with a profit*.

That creates a precedent that will worsen the prospects for other authors
negotiating with publishers. "What, you want a royalty? But this other
author gave me his work for free!"

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

Jason Compton

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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co...@altavista.net wrote:
:
: The Barnes and Noble in Keystone (Indianapolis, IN) does carry the magazine.

: I will be purchasing it as soon as the May issue arrives (the imports take a
: little while). Thank you, Jason, for all of your hard work putting together
: and promoting this CD archive.

You're welcome.

: this offer to US residents because I don't want to deal with determining


: postage for sending them to other countries. I will charge only the cost of
: the magazine, tax, postage and a few cents extra for the big envelopes. I
: don't know how many copies the store will have, so I will make a list of
: requests and fill them in the order that they are placed. I will take
: requests through the afternoon of April 30, because I will probably go to the
: bookstore that evening.

Good luck to you. Since you at least know that THIS bookstore might have
some notion of how to order CU (since they already get it) you might want
to consider asking if you can get additional issues if they run out.

George Caswell

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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On 28 Apr 1998, Magnus Olsson wrote:

> >> This is a generous offer, but if we want to become commercial authors
> >> I think giving your work away free is not a good way to start.
> >> It makes it harder for other authors to strike good deals.
> >>
> > I think the small army of shareware authors would disagree with that.
>
> Shareware isn't about giving things away for free, at least not for most
> definitions of shareware. The most common definition is "download
> now, pay later, if you liked the program".
>
> I suppose you mean the small army of freeware authors?
>

Actually, I agree with you about shareware--- but it -was- shareware I was
referring to, on the basis of being something where (for example) people give
something away free (in monetary terms) and use it to try and get people to
buy more. Doom episode 1. Quake part 1. etc. I hardly think they've found
that 'giving ... work away for free' 'makes it harder ... to strike good
deals'. Rather, it draws people in. I don't see how this situation is
different.

Branko Collin

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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On Tue, 28 Apr 1998 07:38:00 +0100, "Chris Marriott"
<ch...@NOSPAM.skymap.com> wrote:

>
>Jason Compton wrote in message <6i3jpv$knu$1...@flood.xnet.com>...

>>Now, I don't want to make too sweeping of a generalization, but if the
>>hardcore IF community hasn't exactly fallen over itself to buy a CD with
>>40+ megs of IF stuff on it, what hope is there for any sort of attempt to
>>make money off of a dedicated product of lesser scope?
>
>

>The "hard core IF community" knows about, and has easy access to, the gmd IF
>archive and doesn't NEED this CD!

I do not consider myself to be "hard core IF", although I have been
reading this group for several years now. That notwithstanding, I am
not going to download 40+ MB from the gmd site, if I can buy the same
much cheaper in the form of a cover mounted CD.

Well, that may be a European thing: as you may know, we pay per second
for our telephone calls. (If anyone's interested: about 16,5 cents per
40 seconds in the Netherlands, I guess that is about 10 US
dollar-cent.)

--
branko collin
col...@xs4all.nl
help me pick my glasses: http://www.xs4all.nl/~collin/bril/

weird...@prodigy.net

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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In article <6i3jpv$knu$1...@flood.xnet.com>,
jcom...@typhoon.xnet.com (Jason Compton) wrote:
>
> All of this talk is very nice but the only person who has mentioned buying
> the CU Amiga IF-laden CD is an Amiga user who would have bought it anyway.
> It's out. Has been out for two weeks now. The jewel case has a very nice
> big IF logo on the back sleeve. (I have also had exactly one letter from
> an American whose local Borders and Barnes and Noble deny knowledge of the
> magazine--not surprising, but also not true since some stores in the
> chains do carry them)
>
> Now, I don't want to make too sweeping of a generalization, but if the
> hardcore IF community hasn't exactly fallen over itself to buy a CD with
> 40+ megs of IF stuff on it, what hope is there for any sort of attempt to
> make money off of a dedicated product of lesser scope?
>

My personal feeling is that the "5-10" games mentioned in a previous post
doesn't stack up very well compared to most other software bundles. Compare 5
IF games for $15 compared to some of the prices I've seen including:

MASTERPIECES OF INFOCOM 33 commercial text adventures plus 6
non-commercial for $20 DOOM TRILOGY A 36 level game, a 32 level game and
3000 bonus levels for $20 LUCASARTS ARCHIVES 3 6 cds which include the
first two Monkey Islands, Dark Forces and a sampler for $30 DAY OF THE
TENTACLE not really a package, but $10 for 6 disks worth of one of the
funniest games plus the original classic Maniac Mansion

Can we really say that 10 text games could compete with *any* of those if you
had to pay for it?

PS My choices for the preceding list were based on the following criteria:
I own it and I remember the price :)

weird...@prodigy.net

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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Weird Beard
weird...@prodigy.net

There are 42 dots on a pair of dice.

weird...@prodigy.net

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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weird...@prodigy.net

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weird...@prodigy.net

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weird...@prodigy.net

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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In article <6i3h82$hcn$1...@agate.berkeley.edu>,

My personal feeling is that the "5-10" games mentioned in a previous post


doesn't stack up very well compared to most other software bundles.
Compare 5 IF games for $15 compared to some of the prices I've seen including:

MASTERPIECES OF INFOCOM 33 commercial text adventures plus 6
non-commercial for $20 DOOM TRILOGY A 36 level game, a 32 level game and
3000 bonus levels for $20 LUCASARTS ARCHIVES 3 6 cds which include the
first two Monkey Islands, Dark Forces and a sampler for $30 DAY OF THE
TENTACLE not really a package, but $10 for 6 disks worth of one of the
funniest games plus the original classic Maniac Mansion

Can we really say that 10 text games could compete with *any* of those if you
had to pay for it?

PS My choices for the preceding list were based on the following criteria:
I own it and I remember the price :)

Weird Beard
weird...@prodigy.net

There are 42 dots on a pair of dice

-----== Posted via Deja News, The Leader in Internet Discussion ==-----

GLYPH

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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> Any game that is sold for money will have to been tested to hell before
> release. The normal routine of release v1 then receive copious
> bug-reports and release a much-improved v2 will not be acceptable for
> commercial releases.

What? You mean we *shouldn't* follow Microsoft's example? ;)

But, yes, games will need to go through the testing phases BEFORE going
to the CD.

- GLYPH

Howard A. Sherman

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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Samuel DAF Barlow wrote:

> On Tue, 28 Apr 1998, Den of Iniquity wrote:
>
> > I wouldn't be quite so negative but I would warn Ian that even though he
> > isn't profiting, if people buy the CD and write to the author about the
> > game, they're going to expect to be treated like paying customers, like it
> > or not. Especially if they have any complaints to make (not that anyone
> > should, but strange things happen to people when they part with money and
> > find that they're not entirely satisfied).
> >
>

> Any game that is sold for money will have to been tested to hell before
> release. The normal routine of release v1 then receive copious
> bug-reports and release a much-improved v2 will not be acceptable for

> commercial releases. This will require much more alpha/beta/omega
> testing than is usual to authors of freeware-IF. IF I bought a
> commercial IF game and it had any *spelling mistakes* then I would be
> irked. So you can imagine how I'd feel if there were bugs. And getting a
> fixed-copy to all the people who bought the original is not easy when
> the game isn't freely downloadable from gmd.de.
>

With Zork I at release 88 as of the Masterpices CD, I think a few bugs here and
there are perfectly acceptable within some boundaries of reason....

> But, yes -- the idea is very attractive. You could hold some sort of
> deadline (like for the If.comp) when authors had to get works in by and
> then choose the best. Spend another 1/2 year getting them water-tight
> for release. I would love to *buy* IF (and I'm not talking about
> shareware IF) -- its the same difference as between borrowing a book
> from a library and acutally buying a book. (Thats how I feel anyway)
>
> Sam.

Agreed whole-heartedly! I'd buy IF in a second, right off the shelf from any
computer/book store in a second.

>
>
> (who looks forward to the day when a top-selling computer games magazine
> has a cover along the lines of 'INSIDE! NEW ADAM CADRE GAME!' and a big
> picture of a busty 18-yr old exploring ancient greece)

That would rock! I'd buy THAT in a second too! :)

Howard Sherman
Next-Generation Implementor

GLYPH

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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weird...@prodigy.net wrote:

> There are 42 dots on a pair of dice


The average 1000-hour lightbulb burns out on the 42nd day.

- GLYPH

Howard A. Sherman

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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Andrew Plotkin wrote:

> Phil Goetz (go...@cs.buffalo.edu) wrote:
> > In article <35436175...@ix.netcom.com>,

> > IF <mord...@ix.netcom.com> wrote:
> > >
> > > > This is a generous offer, but if we want to become commercial authors
> > I think giving your work away free is not a good way to start.
> > It makes it harder for other authors to strike good deals.
>

> Hm. I've also heard the opposite argument -- that if there's a channel for
> people to sell IF, it will reduce the amount of good free IF, because
> all the authors will be tempted by filthy lucre and go commercial!
>
> I think both of these arguments are -- not false, because both factors
> will occur to some extent -- but unimportant. Neither is a reason to hold
> back from either commercial IF ventures or free ones. It will always be
> possible to write freeware IF; it will always be possible to charge money
> for IF, at least by shareware. Neither form will destroy the other.
>

What's been ignored is the profit/greed factor - authors (like myself,
perhaps..<grin>) will be motivated to turn out good IF, I mean *really* good IF to
sell, cultivate a following of satisfied customers who liked game 1 and are actively
looking for game 2, and so on...

In my history lessons serve me, Infocom did pretty much the same thing... It got to
the point where my and my (then) high school friends would buy an Infocom game, any
Infocom game, just because it said "Infocom" on the box regardless of the genre,
difficulty level, author, etc. etc. Bearing in mind that a high school kid with a
part time job had a little more trouble than adults shelling out $40-$50 for a game
says something don't you think?

And since at least 3-4 of my friends of that long-vanished era shared my enthusiasm
for Infocom games, and Infocom games were the rage among all of us geeks in high
school we can't just call this a contained anomoly...


> > What happened to the IF CD that was compiled over a year ago,
> > with games from rec.arts.int-fiction,
> > and was supposed to be out for Christmas '97?
>
> I was in charge. I failed to pull it together. It did not happen. I could
> have pretended to believe I would get back to it someday, but it would
> have been silly, so I declared it dead.
>
> Ivan has been (of his own initiative) considering restarting the project;
> that's what he's been talking about. He has my big pile of unfinished
> files. But it's his problem now, not mine. :)

Howard A. Sherman

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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Andrew Plotkin wrote:

Howard Sherman
Next-Generation Implementor/Profiteer

Howard A. Sherman

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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On that score, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.Com, Borders, B. Dalton's, Brentano's,
Waldenbooks, etc. would make excellent channels..

Howard
(Having an idea forming in his head)


Ivan Cockrum wrote:

> In article <Es1FK...@world.std.com>, olo...@world.std.com (Mark J
> Musante) wrote:
>
> > First David "Jarbigruen" Cornelson, then Mike Berlyn, and now you.
> > I would love to be able to make a living at writing IF, but I really
> > don't see the market for it.
>
> The big trick is to MAKE the market. Like Mike Berlyn says, you gotta go
> after 'niche markets,' and tailor your product specifically to those
> groups.
>
> -- Ivan
>
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Ivan Cockrum www.cockrumville.com iv...@NOSPAMcockrumville.com
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> To reply by email, remove "NOSPAM" from the address above.


Howard A. Sherman

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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Mark J Musante wrote:

> Ivan Cockrum (iv...@NOSPAMcockrumville.com) wrote:
> > A lot of discussion has been going on lately about selling IF over the
> > internet. And there's been a lot of historical discussion about getting
> > IF back on store shelves in one form or another. Well, I have a business
> > contact who may be able to help make all of this possible, if we're
> > willing to work with him.
>
> If I may so bold, I'd like to suggest that this might be one of those
> ideas Whose Time Has Come.


>
> First David "Jarbigruen" Cornelson, then Mike Berlyn, and now you.
> I would love to be able to make a living at writing IF, but I really
> don't see the market for it.

Why not, Mark? As I posted in this newsgroup about 3-4 months back... if book
sales are up, and computer sales are up then wouldn't the natural marriage of
books to computers be a match made in heaven?

Howard
(Brainstorming)

Howard A. Sherman

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Apr 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/28/98
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>
>
> He can offer full access to everything we need. For online purchasing:
> secure server, credit card processing (look here:
> http://home.paragongroup.com/fulfillment_2.html#internet_capture), 24-hour
> call center, fulfillment processing, etc. For physical publication:
> CD-ROM and floppy replication, ties to nationwide (US, that is - I don't
> know about international) distributors, relations with print shops.
>
> Though he has access to all of this, he and his people are not content
> developers. They sell media, and some content developed by other people.
> Now, Chris's CD-ROM shop is a very small part of the overall conglomerate,
> but he wants to take advantage of all these services he has access to by
> partnering with some content developers. Chris is a big game fan. He's
> done replication jobs for Sierra and Microsoft, plays all the latest
> games. I've shown him some IF, and while I don't think he'd really played
> any before, I think he appreciates that it has the potential to find an
> audience if marketed correctly.
>
> So, basically, here's the proposition. If we can get something ready for
> market, Chris can replicate the media, get the printing done for manuals &
> such, supply the back end for a web site (we can do our own front end and
> domain name), and try to push it to his distribution contacts. All of
> this means no cost on the developer's part to create a professional
> package.
>
> The catch? Well, he's probably going to want around 50% of the gross.
> That's a rough figure and subject to negotiation - Chris is a good guy -
> but that's business. He wants to make a profit. But remember - this is
> 50% of gross on an actual, physical product.
>

That seems like a pretty hefty cut. As an ISP, I've priced CD replication at
about $1.25 per CD in quantities of 1,000 including 2-color process and CD
sleeve. Since I've already developed my own distributable software on CD and
standard 3.5" disk, I have access to a graphic arts firm that can take logo
art and make anything out of it (disk labels, boxes, instruction manuals,
etc.) And what's perhaps better, my next door neighbor in my office building
specializes in custom goods of every type (he's done keychains shaped as
disks, mousepads and shirts for me) including coffee mugs, hats, bottle
openers, box cutters, stuffed animals, matcbooks and matchboxes, smelling
salts, pens and God only knows what else. His office is a riot of customized
products of every type imaginable.

Does anyone see where I'm going with this....? :)


> Now, my personal feeling is that no one single game (Avalon excepting) is
> going to justify all of this muscle. There's just not going to be enough
> return on investment. However, if a bunch of us can put together a
> serious unified venture - a kooky little thing called TextFire springs to
> mind - and create, say, 5 - 10 new, full sized games, then I believe that
> might justify the effort of producing and marketing a CD-ROM.
> Alternately, I think a smaller number of text/graphic games done with
> HyperTads or Blorb would do.

> Oh no, not another joke or spoof! :)

> I do also want to work something out where we can sell games directly
> through the website for a reasonable percentage of the gross - after all,
> no media, no production costs.
>

That sounds good.. again my ISP resources - I have T1s, Linux and NT boxes and
I already virtually host over 50 companies. I have a credit card account
which accepts Visa, MasterCard and American Express and under my company
Random Entertainment Corp., my account already has full approval for net-based
transactions of software... (I've been brewing an idea like this for about a
year now...)

> So this is it. Here's your chance to put your money where your mouth is.
> By myself, I have little to offer Chris. As a team, perhaps we can live
> the dream of reviving commercial IF. Let's start with some open
> discussion. Once we determine if anyone here is interested, I recommend
> we try to have some organized meetings on ifMUD.
>

I certainly agree with the team-effort approach in some form or fashion.
Going it alone can be tough. believe me, I know. But as for Chris, he seems
to want just a bit too big a piece of the pie for my liking...

Howard
(Now experiencing full brain meltdown)

Andrew Plotkin

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Apr 29, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/29/98
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weird...@prodigy.net wrote:
> > : However, if a bunch of us can put together a

> > : serious unified venture - a kooky little thing called TextFire springs to
> > : mind - and create, say, 5 - 10 new, full sized games, then I believe that
> > : might justify the effort of producing and marketing a CD-ROM.

> My personal feeling is that the "5-10" games mentioned in a previous post


> doesn't stack up very well compared to most other software bundles.
> Compare 5 IF games for $15 compared to some of the prices I've seen including:

Um, something went horribly wrong -- you posted that about five times.

Anyway, the software bundle you're referring to is all reprinted
software. Hugely discounted compared to the price charged when it was
new. The question is five to ten *new* games.

George Caswell

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Apr 29, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/29/98
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On Tue, 28 Apr 1998, GLYPH wrote:

> > Any game that is sold for money will have to been tested to hell before
> > release. The normal routine of release v1 then receive copious
> > bug-reports and release a much-improved v2 will not be acceptable for
> > commercial releases.
>

> What? You mean we *shouldn't* follow Microsoft's example? ;)
>
> But, yes, games will need to go through the testing phases BEFORE going
> to the CD.
>

The whole development process should be a testing phase.

Benjamin Kenward

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Apr 29, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/29/98
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hi all,

heres my view on all this. the thing i love about the i-f community is that
on the most part its reciprical - people are writing i-f for each other for
free, and are playing it for free. now to me, thats great, but some people
seem to think that if theres something going on then they ought to be able
to find a way to make money out of it. well, i suppose thats their
perogative but i for one will not be able to afford to pay for any i-f, and i
suspect the same goes for many people. whats more, i suspect (though i could
be wrong) that many i-f writers are happy to be appreciated for their efforts
but dont see their work as another potential money spinner. i for one have a
lot of respect for all those writers out there who do good work and release
it for free.

and before you accuse me of being a free-loader who just doesnt want his
supply of free games to dry up, i am writing a game myself which i plan to
release, for free. i dont claim that it will be of any standard, but i will
relish being able to contribute to the pool of free i-f, and hope that maybe
those authors whose games i have played and enjoyed could maybe get some
small pleasure from it in return.

ben.

Steve Young

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Apr 29, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/29/98
to

Jason Compton wrote in message <6i3jpv$knu$1...@flood.xnet.com>...
>All of this talk is very nice but the only person who has mentioned buying
>the CU Amiga IF-laden CD is an Amiga user who would have bought it anyway.
>It's out. Has been out for two weeks now. The jewel case has a very nice
>big IF logo on the back sleeve. (I have also had exactly one letter from
>an American whose local Borders and Barnes and Noble deny knowledge of the
>magazine--not surprising, but also not true since some stores in the
>chains do carry them)
>
>Now, I don't want to make too sweeping of a generalization, but if the
>hardcore IF community hasn't exactly fallen over itself to buy a CD with
>40+ megs of IF stuff on it, what hope is there for any sort of attempt to
>make money off of a dedicated product of lesser scope?


Exactly the point I was trying to get over in my previous letter. I couldn't
honestly see any demand for IF commercialy, but thought if packed together
in a CD with many games it might have a chance, the lack of support for this
CD seems to prove even this might be an over exaggeration. Mind you, this
might not be to surprising as only IF enthusiasts really knew about this CD,
and most of them have probably already got the software and couldn''t see
the point of buying this magazine, particurlaly considering the price and it
is for the Amiga. Neutral observers would hardly now it was there anyway,
certainly not from looking at the mag or the CD on the front cover, as it
was almost invisible.
The idea is good though, and if followed in a PC magazine might actually get
people to see that IF is alive and kicking, but if done again it needs to
have a wider profile, certainly in the magazine. I haven't got it myself
yet, and before I did would like to know what was on the CD, as it wasn't
listed in the magazine. Read your post in which you gave a site where they
were listed, but when I tried it, said it didn't exist. If you could help I
would be obliged.

Steve

Kathy I. Morgan

unread,
Apr 29, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/29/98
to

Jason Compton <jcom...@typhoon.xnet.com> wrote:

> co...@altavista.net wrote:
> :
> : The Barnes and Noble in Keystone (Indianapolis, IN) does carry the magazine.
> : I will be purchasing it as soon as the May issue arrives (the imports take a
> : little while). Thank you, Jason, for all of your hard work putting together
> : and promoting this CD archive.
>
> You're welcome.

Yes, thank you, Jason, and thank you, Randy, for your generous offer to
help those of us who can't get the magazine locally.

This really is a nice community!

kathy

weird...@prodigy.net

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Apr 29, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/29/98
to

In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>,

Sorry, my usenet server kept lying and saying there were errors, so I kept
trying :(

Your argument is good except for one point: The Infocom "Collection series,
which was both 5-10 titles per disk, rereleases and the same price failed to
please the IF croud because of the fact that is *was* only 5-10 text games
per disk. Then they added salt to the wound by taking the two GOOD
collections away.

Weird Beard
weird...@prodigy.net

Andrew Plotkin

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Apr 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/30/98
to

weird...@prodigy.net wrote:
> > Anyway, the software bundle you're referring to is all reprinted
> > software. Hugely discounted compared to the price charged when it was
> > new. The question is five to ten *new* games.

> Your argument is good except for one point: The Infocom "Collection series,


> which was both 5-10 titles per disk, rereleases and the same price failed to
> please the IF croud because of the fact that is *was* only 5-10 text games
> per disk. Then they added salt to the wound by taking the two GOOD
> collections away.

No, the IF crowd was displeased because there *had been* those LTOI
collections -- same games, lower price per game. If Activision had
published the collection series in 1992, instead of LTOI, everybody would
have gone loved it. Not quite as much as we loved LTOI, but nearly.

Raising prices on games is just stupid.

The question is *still* five to ten new games. Or possibly one new game.
Different publishing models are being batted around here.

weird...@prodigy.net

unread,
Apr 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/30/98
to

In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>,
erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin) wrote:
>

But they *are* new if you haven't played them, right? Can you honestly say
that even genre specific IF CDs like those have won many *new* customers
over? Besides, that's partly my point - why charge them more for just 5-10
games when *we* can pay $5 more for 33 games?

As for your second point, I can get IF for free, some of it very good. Why
charge them $15 when we'd be able to get it free?

weird...@prodigy.net

unread,
Apr 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/30/98
to

In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>,
erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin) wrote:
>
> weird...@prodigy.net wrote:
> > > Anyway, the software bundle you're referring to is all reprinted
> > > software. Hugely discounted compared to the price charged when it was
> > > new. The question is five to ten *new* games.
>
> > Your argument is good except for one point: The Infocom "Collection series,
> > which was both 5-10 titles per disk, rereleases and the same price failed to
> > please the IF croud because of the fact that is *was* only 5-10 text games
> > per disk. Then they added salt to the wound by taking the two GOOD
> > collections away.
>
> No, the IF crowd was displeased because there *had been* those LTOI
> collections -- same games, lower price per game. If Activision had
> published the collection series in 1992, instead of LTOI, everybody would
> have gone loved it. Not quite as much as we loved LTOI, but nearly.
>
> Raising prices on games is just stupid.
>
> The question is *still* five to ten new games. Or possibly one new game.
> Different publishing models are being batted around here.

No, I don't think the commercial world would be able to sell 10 text games
for $15, and the IF crowd is used to getting new games for free. Maybe the
real way to do it would to release something like "Competition '97 -- The
Collectors Edition" and put *everything* in it, including (but not limited
to) every participating game, walkthrough, interpreters and most importantly
the final scores (so that someone doesn't somehow pick every mediocre game in
a bizarre perversion of fate). I'm sure that even some peole here might pay
$15 for that.

Weird Beard
weird...@prodigy.net

co...@altavista.net

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Apr 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/30/98
to

In article <6i5cv2$arj$2...@flood.xnet.com>,
jcom...@typhoon.xnet.com (Jason Compton) wrote:
>
> Good luck to you. Since you at least know that THIS bookstore might have
> some notion of how to order CU (since they already get it) you might want
> to consider asking if you can get additional issues if they run out.
>

Nope. They won't do it. They just get a big box of Amiga magazines from
their distributor.

And Jason, I have gotten 6 requests so far, each person willing to shell out
US$18.00 for this magazine/CD. For a couple more dollars, they could order
Masterpieces from Activision. So, there is a demand for this sort of
product. Who knew?

--Randy

Dennis Matheson

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Apr 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/30/98
to

weird...@prodigy.net wrote:
>
>>snip<<

>
> As for your second point, I can get IF for free, some of it very good. Why
> charge them $15 when we'd be able to get it free?
>
*You* can get IF for free; that doesn't mean most people can. Not
all net users are aware of things like ftp and the gmd archive or this
newsgroup. (Heck, a lot of net users probably don't know ftp or
newsgroups *exist*).
A commercial release would make IF available to a wider audience that
would never access ftp.gmd.de.
--
"You can't run away forever, but there's nothing wrong
with getting a good head start" --- Jim Steinman

Dennis Matheson --- Dennis....@delta-air.com
--- http://home.earthlink.net/~tanstaafl

Jason Compton

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Apr 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/30/98
to

co...@altavista.net wrote:
: Nope. They won't do it. They just get a big box of Amiga magazines from
: their distributor.

I'd be surprised if it was a BIG box of Amiga magazines, but...:)

: And Jason, I have gotten 6 requests so far, each person willing to shell out


: US$18.00 for this magazine/CD. For a couple more dollars, they could order
: Masterpieces from Activision. So, there is a demand for this sort of
: product. Who knew?

Hey, wow.

--
Jason Compton jcom...@xnet.com
Editor-in-Chief, Amiga Report Magazine VP, Legacy Maker Inc.
http://www.cucug.org/ar/ http://www.xnet.com/~jcompton/
Choose and renounce... throwing chains to the floor.

Michael Straight

unread,
May 1, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/1/98
to

On Thu, 30 Apr 1998 weird...@prodigy.net wrote:

> No, I don't think the commercial world would be able to sell 10 text games
> for $15, and the IF crowd is used to getting new games for free. Maybe the
> real way to do it would to release something like "Competition '97 -- The
> Collectors Edition" and put *everything* in it, including (but not limited
> to) every participating game, walkthrough, interpreters and most importantly
> the final scores (so that someone doesn't somehow pick every mediocre game in
> a bizarre perversion of fate). I'm sure that even some peole here might pay
> $15 for that.

I think you have to choose between the "lets make a CD with tons of stuff
for people who already like IF" and the "lets try to bring IF to people
who are currently unaware of it" options.

A game the size of Curses or Jigsaw has as much or more playing time than
something like Myst. To throw a whole bunch of games on a CD seems to be
saying "these are only interesting to fool around with for an hour or so,
you probably won't like them well enough to really try to finish them."

To sell IF to people who are unfamilar with it, I think you have to try to
sell a particular story, make them want to see what happens in Spider and
Web or Losing your Grip enough to buy a game and play it, rather than
trying to sell them on the idea of playing IF in general.

"Buy this."

"What is it?"

"It's a book."

"What's it about?"

"It can be about anything, that's not the point, the point is it has
words, and you can do so much more with words than with moving pictures
and sounds."

"But what's it about?"

"You can read the story at your own pace, not at the pace some filmmaker
thinks you should see the story."

"But is it a good story?"

"It's got these words, you see! WORDS!!"

SMTIRCAHIAGEHLT


L. Ross Raszewski

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May 1, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/1/98
to

In article
<Pine.A41.3.95L.98050...@login3.isis.unc.edu>#1/1,

Michael Straight <stra...@email.unc.edu> wrote:
>
>
> "Buy this."
>
> "What is it?"
>
> "It's a book."
>
> "What's it about?"
>
> "It can be about anything, that's not the point, the point is it has
> words, and you can do so much more with words than with moving pictures
> and sounds."

Boom. You've lost my sale. The minute you start in with that
holier-than-thou "you can do so much more with words lie (YES IT IS A LIE) you
have lost me.

Besides, it's not about "anything", it's about exactly the ONE THING that the
author wanted it to be about. Yes, there may be multiple waysa to go about
it, but it is by no means about "anything".

And you're certainly not going to sell to me by saying "the point is it has
words". Stop signs have words. Cereal boxes have words. the "point" is that
it has a STORY. And once you've admitted that, to say it can be about
"anything" is an obvious lie.


>
> "But what's it about?"
>
> "You can read the story at your own pace, not at the pace some filmmaker
> thinks you should see the story."

Um... wait, you've dodged the question. That's bad salesmanship.

>
> "But is it a good story?"
>
> "It's got these words, you see! WORDS!!"
>

How evil.


Now, since I've already snipped the top of your message, it might sound (to
anyone why hasn't read the original) like I'm making an attack here; as it
turns out I'm agreeing with you(the original was offered as an example of
why trying to sell the text over the story was a bad idea)... BUT there is one
small thing that your argument (selling the story vs selling the text) leaves
out:
[THere be mild Zarf spoilers here]

"Okay, so it's a story about what?"

"You're a spy, and..."

"wait; what do you mean "you're"?"

"Well, you control how it goes."

"Like a choose your own adventure book? Aren't they just for kids?"


"Well, I guess it's sort of like that, but "

[THe author would like to take a moment here to note that this isn't really
his point, but instead something he stumbled upon by accident, namely that
most people will dismiss anythign you try to call a "game" as "kid's stuff".
But anyway, we can argue that int othe dirt another time.... Anyway, skipping
the explanation for now: ]

"Okay, I think I see your point. I guess it could be fun. How much is it?"

"THirty Dollars."

"THirty dollars? I'll wait for it to come out in paperback. Or floppy disk.
Or whatever. Is this in the library?"

"Um.. no. Then we wouldn't make any money."

"Oh. Sorry."

"COme on, buy it. it's really good."

"I'd really rather just get something out of the library."

[At this point, the author would like to (just because he can) have the hand
of God intervene, in the form of a passing advertisement for the IF archive.]

"Hey, wow, you mean I can get this sort of stuff for free?"

"Well... yes.. but this one is really, reallyt good."

"And those aren't?"

"Well.... Well, they'dbe selling htem too if they were any good, wouldn't
they?"

"Gee, I guess not..."

[At this point, the author would like to insert a passing himself, playing
"Babel" in a plamtop (yes, I know you can't play tads games on a palmtop. But
I don't have one anyway. THis is my story, so I'll tell it like I want to.]

"Hey, who are you?"

"Me? I'm just a passing writer."

"What are you playing there?"

"Huh? Oh, it's called "Babel", it's a text game."

"How much did it set you back?"

"Oh, it was free."

"Really? Must not have been very good then."

"Good? THis is one of the best games I've played in my life."

"And you for it for free?"

"Sure. Want a copy?"

"Hey, wait, I'm trying to make a sale here!"

"New Zarf Game?"

"Yeah. It's $30."

"I'll wait for it to come out in paperback. Anyway, you can get babel and
some other really great games at ftp.gmd.de/if-archive..."

So, if I haven;'t lost everyone by now, Here's my posit. Everyone seems
convinced thart we can somehow sell IF as if it was books. Unfortunately, it
doesn't work that way. First, you're not going to sell a game at "hardback
prices" to a crowd with no expereince with it. You could maybe get them to
shell out for a pricey game once you've got the market, but not to start.
And, should any of them catch wind of the IF-archive, I expect that sales
would take a dive.

Now, I know that the "we can sell IF" camp keeps insisting htat we're somehow
targeting non-net people, but we ARE targeting the computer literate, and
that's nearly the same thing nowadays. It's to the point whrere there is
almost no one with a computer but without internet access (A few, maybe, but
the number is shrinking by the day) And it won't take long for word of GMD to
get around. If commercial IF takes off, I will PERSONALLY start a GMD
advertising campaign (of admittedly small scale) And even without such a
thing, the new IF lovers will almost certainyl have a look around the net for
others with their interests, then -- BANG they find GMD, and provided there is
still an influx of free games, sales will drop.

What I'm implying here is that Commercial IF and free IF may not be able to
peaceably coexist, unless one is relegatedto an inferior position. And given
how many times I've heard "Who wouldn't want to make a few bucks off their
hobby", I fear it's GMD that will get the short end of the stick.

Gerry Kevin Wilson

unread,
May 1, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/1/98
to

In article <Pine.A41.3.95L.98050...@login3.isis.unc.edu>
Michael Straight <stra...@email.unc.edu> wrote:

> "But is it a good story?"
>
> "It's got these words, you see! WORDS!!"

"What are you reading, my Lord?"

"Words. Words. Words."

Sorry, couldn't resist.

---
G. Kevin Wilson: Freelance Writer and Game Designer. Resumes on demand.


Eric O'Dell

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May 1, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/1/98
to

On Fri, 01 May 1998 14:49:06 -0600, L. Ross Raszewski
<rras...@hotmail.com> wrote:

>What I'm implying here is that Commercial IF and free IF may not be able to
>peaceably coexist, unless one is relegatedto an inferior position. And given
>how many times I've heard "Who wouldn't want to make a few bucks off their
>hobby", I fear it's GMD that will get the short end of the stick.

Maybe, maybe not.

Free IF competes effectively with any potential commercial IF because
much free IF is as good or better than any commercial IF. I think it's
fair to say that we have only scratched the surface of the medium's
capabilities, and that a new generation of IF might be enough of an
advance over the free works that it could compete commercially. (I'll
leave what this "new generation" would be to the imaginations of the
developers.) The sales of Microsoft Excel are in no way damaged by the
availability of GNU Oleo because Excel is by far the better product.
GNU Oleo could have competed quite handily with the old DOS versions
of Lotus 1-2-3, however. Back in the heyday of commercial IF, Curses
could have competed commercially with Infocom's games. Et cetera.

IMHO, the production of commercial IF is hindered not so much by any
lack of viability as it is by a failure to accurately assess the
market conditions of the present day.

In 1985, the software market was a LOT smaller, a helluva lot more
technically literate, and on the whole better educated. In 1998, the
software market is enormous, the average user wouldn't know a command
prompt from a hole in the ground, and if the general content of Usenet
is any indication, the average education level is much, much lower.

The same kinds of people who played Infocom games in the 80's are
still out there, and they are probably more numerous than ever before,
but they are, proportionally, a much smaller slice of the user
population. The bulk of the newbies come from other segments of the
population. Forget about them. The people who prefer watching TV to
reading a novel are going to prefer Riven to Trinity every damn time.
No amount of wheedling, cajoling, persuasion, or brute force is going
to win them over. Not now, not ever. If you want to be Rand and Robyn
Miller, get a fast PC and learn how to use Macromedia Director and
SoftImage. And when games with production budgets like small movies
are coming on four or five CD-ROMs and selling for $40, you can forget
about charging that much for anything that can fit on a 3.5" diskette.

That doesn't mean that, if you've written a really good text
adventure, especially if it breaks new ground, that you can't make a
decent sum of money selling it. It does mean that you (probably)
aren't going to become a millionaire doing it.

I seem to recall reading that an Infocom game might have sold 30,000
to 50,000 copies. If you could sell in anything like the same numbers
at $5 a pop, well, you do the math. Since 1985, the potential market
for IF has grown in absolute numbers; the only shrinking it has done
has been in its proportion of the total market. The problem is, and I
think occasional posts to r.a.i-f and letters to the editor in
XYZZYnews illustrate this, is that many of the old IF crowd don't know
that IF is still alive and well, and that most of the potentially new
crowd haven't been exposed to IF yet.

The problem, to sum up, is that potential commercial IF authors need a
cost-effective way to reach a larger audience, and that those same
authors need to realize that not outselling Riven and Quake doesn't
mean that a comfortable living is a totally unrealistic goal.


E.


Jason Compton

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May 1, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/1/98
to

Eric O'Dell (er...@gadgetguru.com) wrote:
: In 1985, the software market was a LOT smaller, a helluva lot more

: technically literate, and on the whole better educated. In 1998, the

There may well be statistics out there to back up this assertion but I'm
not convinced that it's the case. Buying an entry-level computer is on
average a more expensive proposition now than it was in 1985, and since
there's a correlation between disposable income and education, it's hard
to see how the market could be less educated.

Plus, plenty of people back then bought computers without knowing what the
hell they were for or what to do with them, just like now. It's just that
operating systems are more complicated now, there's more for stupid people
to screw up. (On an Apple II, you could screw up by not putting your
disks in the drive when you booted up. On a Commodore 64, once you
figured out the command that started 98% of all commercial software, you
were set for life. There's much more to contend with now.)

The market has different tastes, and those tastes are for less literary
works in general, but I don't think the customers are "dumber."

Paul O'Brian

unread,
May 1, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/1/98
to

On 1 May 1998, Gerry Kevin Wilson wrote:

> "What are you reading, my Lord?"
>
> "Words. Words. Words."
>
> Sorry, couldn't resist.

That Whizzard. What a little Ham.

(Get it? A little Ham? A Ham-let? See, when something is little, sometimes
you can... Ah, forget it.)

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


Knothole

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May 2, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/2/98
to

On 1 May 1998 22:42:40 GMT, jcom...@typhoon.xnet.com (Jason Compton)
wrote:

>Eric O'Dell (er...@gadgetguru.com) wrote:
>: In 1985, the software market was a LOT smaller, a helluva lot more
>: technically literate, and on the whole better educated. In 1998, the
>
>There may well be statistics out there to back up this assertion but I'm
>not convinced that it's the case. Buying an entry-level computer is on
>average a more expensive proposition now than it was in 1985, and since
>there's a correlation between disposable income and education, it's hard
>to see how the market could be less educated.

Eh? If I recall right, my Apple IIe cost about $1200-$1400 in 1985,
and in 1998, you can get a vastly more powerful machine for under
$1000. I've started seeing ads for Pentiums in the 166 MHz range
(basically, last year's model) for under $500. My old 50 MHz 486 cost
me nearly $2500 five years ago, versus the $1500 I paid for the much
more substantially loaded P-166 I got last year. Not only is computing
power astronomically cheaper considered in the abstract, but the
individual machines have been falling in price quite steadily since
about 1990.

>Plus, plenty of people back then bought computers without knowing what the
>hell they were for or what to do with them, just like now.

Sure, but a greater percentage of them at least diddled around with
programming in BASIC, and a healthy number even delved into assembly
language, especially in the Apple II world. The shelves of the
computer section in bookstores used to have a lot more books devoted
to teaching hobbyists how to program. Today's PC's by comparison don't
even come with an interpreter of any kind.

>It's just that
>operating systems are more complicated now, there's more for stupid people
>to screw up. (On an Apple II, you could screw up by not putting your
>disks in the drive when you booted up. On a Commodore 64, once you
>figured out the command that started 98% of all commercial software, you
>were set for life. There's much more to contend with now.)

OTOH, the user is shielded from much more of it by the user interface.

>The market has different tastes, and those tastes are for less literary
>works in general, but I don't think the customers are "dumber."

Issues of popular intelligence aside, which is a political-correctness
quagmire I didn't really intend to carelessly step into, the
correlation between "the market" in 1985 and "the market" in 1998 is
precisely the fallacy I'm trying to point out. In terms of
percentages, yes, the market's tastes have changed. I don't believe
that there is any reason to believe that the absolute numbers of the
IF demographic have declined, however.

I don't have the exact numbers handy, but let's say for the sake of
argument that there were a million or so personal computer owners in
the early eighties, and maybe 25% of them were occasional buyers of
IF, for an absolute total of approximately 250,000 potential
customers. In 1998, there are approximately 70 million computer
owners, and (for the sake of argument) maybe only 2% of them are
p