Monday, October 30, 2017

Ectocomp is coming for you...

...fifteen hours...

...before EctoComp comes for you...

As if there aren't enough new games with the overladen buffet of IFComp testing the table legs, the submissions for EctoComp 2017 are due in less than half a day. 

You can play the games that are already submitted on itch.io, and voting will open after the deadline.

Ectocomp is a festival of seasonal Halloween and horror entries that are out to scare you (or at least inspire some chills) including speed-IF entries created in three hours or less, as well as longer works. 

There is usually a good range each year of both well-crafted brick and mortar haunted mansions oozing subtle gothic dread as well as tunnels of black plastic and 2x4s quick-slapped together with fake chainsaws and rubber masks; both can be a great time depending on your taste and mood for the holiday.

La petite Mort (English)
Le Grand Guignol (English)
La Petite Mort (Español)
Le Grand Guignol (Español)




Wednesday, October 4, 2017

ECTOCOMP is Brewing Up for Fall Again



ECTOCOMP, a yearly horror and autumn-seasonal competition that is often a welcome palate-cleanser following the smorgasbord of IFComp, is on again this year and is under new management.

This year marks the return of both size categories, and the first time Ectocomp is actively bilingual, soliciting entries in Spanish.

  • La Petit Mort is for speed IF created in three hours or less.
  • Le Grand Guignol is for more elaborate games programmed in more than three hours.
Check out the rules, schedule, and more details on itch.io at these links: 

Petit Mort English: https://itch.io/jam/ectocomp17lpm
Grand Guignol English: https://itch.io/jam/ectocomp17lgg
Grand Guignol Spanish: https://itch.io/jam/ectocomp17lgg-sp

Sign up and show us your nightmares! As of this writing, you have just over 26 days to get scary!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

IntroComp 2017 Results Announced


Direct from their website:
We would like to express our very sincere gratitude to everyone who took the time to download, play, rate, and leave feedback for this year's introductions. We would also like to say thank you and congratulations to all the authors!

Here are the results:


1st Place Sherlock Indomitable, by mathbrush
2nd Place Onna Kabuki, by Victor Ojuel
3rd Place The Adam and Eve Project, by Brian Kwak

Honorable Mentions*:
Duckman by Wade
Yukon Yelena by Wing
Prizon by Wes Lesley
Playing with the White Dog by Elizabeth Bernhardt
Good for Nothing by Katalina
The Wishing Wood by Elizabeth Bernhardt
The Sentence Editor by fishandbeer
You Just Might Feel Something by Devin Raposo


*listed in random order

Thursday, June 29, 2017

itch.io has the Summer jams!

Quick take: Starting almost immediately on itch.io is a "Summer Novel Festival" (SUNOFES) jam running to September 1st. This may be of interest to new IF authors not quite ready to jump into IFComp. A "jam" usually has lower stakes than a Comp; this one is no pressure, no judging, no prizes, just a sense of community focused more on the creation phase than the end product:
An online game jam focused on adventure, interactive fiction, role-playing game, and visual novels. Starts July 1st, ends August 31st, annually. Feel free to start working before the festival begins. No one is required to start their work from scratch unless they want to. If you have any unfinished projects in mind, you're invited to use this festival for completing it. SuNoFES has no judging or prizes - the only rewards are those that come from the challenge and camaraderie with others.
  • Takes place during July and August.
  • Project must be a new game and have not been published before.
  • Releasing a demo is fine.
  • Polished works are encouraged.
  • There are no "winners." Anyone who reaches their goal during the festival has completed SuNoFES, though it is encouraged to submit a game.
https://itch.io/jam/sunofes17

I'm not a regular on itch.io, but it offers a huge number of indie and experimental free and low-priced games, as well as the means to set up your own "storefront" (bazaar booth?) to present your own works.

I had a lot of fun there participating in Emily Short's "Bring Out Your Dead" jam of abandoned or stalled games.

They've got a lot of other fun stuff also starting very soon that may also be of interest to the community such as "Fantasy Console Jam", "Games Made Quick Jam", "Yaoi Game Jam" and "Pixel Horror Jam", so check out their whole timeline of upcoming jams.

P.S.: Don't forget June 30th is your last chance to get in on IntroComp as well!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

By the CSIDE!

ChoiceScript is a very easy language to write in. It is how all Choice of Games narratives are created. It is simple, powerful, and lets an author do more writing than coding to create an extensive choice narrative that can hinge on the powerful accumulation of stats that bend and alter the story and an individual player's game experience.

Right now, CoG publication is probably one of the most accessible and visible ways for choice-IF authors to actually get a game out to the public and get paid for it. Choice of Games commissions talented authors for their featured stories that fit within their specific inclusive "house style" framework they are known for and their audience expects, but anyone can submit an "indie" spec game to be hosted by CoG as long as it complies with a certain number of minimally sensible parameters with regard to length and content.

That said, writing a CS narrative that fans will want to play and shell out a few dollars for is an enormous task. An author is seldom going to whip out a CS masterpiece of any length in a matter of weeks or possibly even months. Most worthy titles are at least novella-length with regard to visible word count, and depending on how efficient the game and the choices are structured, it has been discussed that an author may find themselves needing to write upwards of three to five times the amount of prose than in a standard novel, most of it not used in any given play-through. There are smart ways to avoid such excess, but game designers needn't apply if they're not up to the task of writing at least 30,000 words including code, and possibly a lot more. (30k is the minimum length of a hosted game CoG will accept, word counts for epic games in the 300k-500k range are not unheard of.)

So you're up to the task, and now you need to get started in ChoiceScript. While authoring in CS is easy, the initial setup is not. In the past, authors had to deal with separate text files including the prose and connecting code and then running them through a compiler which only works in Firefox, and the compiling can be a tedious chore, making compiling and testing a thing that might only be done once a day. Plus the game must pass required automated testing routines provided by CoG that could be sometimes difficult to carry out and understand. I'm one of those curious people who loves to discover and learn new authoring systems, but the minute the directions use the words "run the included compiler" or "write your code in separate text files" I'm out.

The only way I had ever had a chance to experiment with ChoiceScript at all was by using a clever community-created editor that was available online. The thing that helped it click for me was being able to type code in one window and see it instantly compiled in the other. That little bit of WYSIWYG experimentation let me blunder my way through my newbie mistakes and begin to learn how CS works and fits together. It was a great idea for learning, but in no way full-featured enough to write an extensive work.

Text files on left, auto code coloring on right
Now, we have CSIDE (Choice Script IDE) which is a brilliant community-developed piece of work shepherded by Carey J. Williams (CJW on the CoG forums) over more than a year of testing and building from that original tiny CS editor into what I can only describe as "Microsoft Word for Choice Script". If you are familiar with the format and functionality of the Inform 7 IDE, CSIDE will be an easy glove to fit.

Instant playtesting
CSIDE manages all the files for a project, is a code specific color-highlighting CS word processor, allows instant compiling and playtesting, keeps a word count, spell-corrects, includes in-window help and tutorials for some advanced CS concepts, and simplifies many CS-specific tasks. At any time an author can run randomtest or quicktest to see the likely chances of each text fragment being encountered, export to an HTML file playable in almost any browser, and eventually produce a simple folder of files ready to email to CoG for review. A project can begin in CSIDE and it will manage all the individual text files and locations itself, or one can easily import all the pieces of an existing project at once.

While this is all pretty intuitive for people familiar with enclosed authoring environments and word processors, there may be a few minor adjustments required for a veteran CS coder to adapt to how CSIDE handles all the pieces of the puzzle, but the organization and benefits provided are well-worth a minor relearning curve or at least a look to see how it might be useful to an individual author's workflow.

I've only scratched the surface, but hopefully, CSIDE will become a valuable tool alongside Twine and Inform 7 to make the process of writing IF much easier.

You can download and try CSIDE from here for Mac and Windows. The program is entirely self-contained without any other pieces to download, and one can begin a project entirely within the IDE with the plus icon, or import multiple existing CS text files from the folder icon. Check out the help files under the question mark icon, and tutorials under the book icon.

Web version (requires a Dropbox account): https://choicescriptide.github.io/web/

--Hanon Ondricek

Addendum: CSIDE currently only runs on 64-bit architectures. For most people this is not a problem, but you may need to switch to a newer machine to run the program, or use the online version with your Dropbox account:

See post here:
We will not be officially supporting 32-bit releases. If the demand is there, we will try our best to provide one, but with such a small team, there has been a very hard limit to what we can effectively test and support. 32-bit architectures are on their way out, so it doesn't make a lot of sense for us spend time supporting them.That said, I understand that there will be cases where people simply don't have access to anything other than a 32-bit machine, and that should not mean that you have to go without the chance to use CSIDE. You have two options there: Either make use of the website version of CSIDE (which is near enough as fully-featured as the Desktop app), or contact me privately and I'll provide you with a 32-bit copy, with the understanding that it's not officially supported.



Monday, June 12, 2017

Introcomp: New Website, Intents due June 30!

IntroComp is one of the coolest low-key events on the IF calendar that hopefully will get a lot more attention this year with a snazzy new website and new management. This is the one ongoing competition that actively solicits unfinished IF works. It's a great way for new IF authors to get their feet wet if they've never finished a game and attempted a comp, or want some support and motivation to do so.

One major change this year is IntroComp is accepting any slice of an unfinished game as opposed to just the beginning; the website makes clear the "Intro" part of IntroComp now means you are "Introducing your game" as opposed to providing just the actual "intro" as required in years past. The website rules state authors may submit the middle or end of a game as well. There are also cash prizes with a catch: the author has to actually finish the game within one year and notify the Comp organizers to claim a prize.

Even if a submitted game doesn't win Introcomp, one of the coolest parts is voters are encouraged to provide constructive feedback along with their votes which is provided to the authors.

The only slight downside is works submitted to IntroComp are ineligible for IFComp, due to being a partially published work. However, Spring Thing is a good venue to show off a game that was partially developed via an IntroComp entry.

If you've got a long-unfinished game fragment kicking around, perhaps consider submitting it to IntroComp.

Intents to enter this year are due by June 30, and the "complete" game slice for the comp must be submitted by July 31.

See http://introcomp.org/ for more details.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Intfiction.org forums back after temporary glitch

If you attempted to post on the intfiction.org forum Tuesday (in US time zones), you may have been mistakenly informed that you were "banned" and not allowed to post your message. Upon clicking the "submit" button, users were subject to a long wait, and then red text rejecting the message.

This was an unexpected server misconfiguration that affected all or most users. We apologize for the error and any inconvenience it may have caused. I'm happy to report the forums should now be operating correctly.

As always, please don't hesitate to let me (HanonO) or any of the other moderators (our names show up in green on the forum) personally know if you have any questions or need assistance. I'm on Gmail as hanon.ondricek if you are unable to access forum PM.