Category Archives: Zarfplan
Nine years ago I made my blogging debut with a post titled Games that don't exist. I'd been on the web since 1993 (really!) but 2008 was my first venture into blogging -- which I guess I'd define as a semiregular series of nonfiction essays with an RSS feed.
The Gameshelf was a group blog run by my friend Jmac. I chose to participate because, well, I wasn't sure I'd be writing enough to sustain a blog on my own. Indeed, I never hit a daily or even weekly rhythm. But I got a couple of posts written each month -- which adds up. Over nine years I wrote 323 Gameshelf posts, documenting games I played, IF events I attended, and the entire development cycle of Hadean Lands.
But: everything shifts over time, and that includes the centers of gravity of web sites. Jmac moved his regular writing to a personal blog site. The Perl core of The Gameshelf (a Movable Type fork) rusted until it barely functioned. (That "323 posts" link above is supposed to let you browse all my Gameshelf posts, but it doesn't really.)
A few weeks ago, a routine Perl update broke the blog software completely. Fixing it was a one-line patch (thanks Jmac) but the writing on the wall had clearly acquired
So, behold my brand-new blog page! It now lives at blog.zarfhome.com.
I'm using blogger.com, which is, yes, part of the Google-monster. But it works, it's free, I got the layout the way I want, and I don't have to worry about patching security holes. And there is an RSS feed.
I have imported all 323 of my Gameshelf posts. (Here's that first one from 2008.) You'll note that this post appears on both blogs, but it will be my last Gameshelf contribution. From now on, blog.zarfhome.com for everything.
I expect I'll continue tuning the layout. There are a few remaining quirks:
Blogger's web import feature doesn't work (at least, it didn't work for me). I imported the old posts using Blogger's API.
Blogger doesn't understand Markdown. O woe! My importer tool did Markdown translation, but the resulting HTML is slightly munged. So the old posts may have slightly broken formatting.
All the images in the imported posts, and the cross-links to other posts, still point to The Gameshelf. The Gameshelf site will stay online for the foreseeable future, so that's okay.
I imported the blog comments too, but they appear as part of the post body. (For example, this recent post.) So the old posts all say "no comments" even though the comments are really preserved. (The Blogger API includes a verb for "fetch comments" but not "insert new comment". Why not? Who the heck knows.)
The search tool doesn't work. I think Google's crawler hasn't caught up with the imported posts yet. Hopefully that will fix itself.
For all anyone knows, Google will nuke Blogger next year. Or next week. (It's Google.) In that case I'll have to change platforms again. But I'll still host the site at blog.zarfhome.com, so no big deal, right?
Quirks aside, I am pleased with my new digs and so I bid The Gameshelf a fond and good-natured farewell. Posting will continue at the usual semiregular rate. See you all on the new domain.
I have updated the Mac/Win/Linux version of Hadean Lands on Steam. These are small UI changes, mostly inherited from the past year's worth of Lectrote updates. The gameplay has not changed, and save files will continue to work undisturbed.
- In the journal window, you can now sort items by name or by date (the order you discovered them in the game).
- Added two new color themes: Sepia and Slate.
- Changed the "Reset" menu item to "Reset Completely" (to match the in-game command for completely starting over).
- Changed the "Close Window" menu item to "Close Game" for the main game window. (Except on Mac, sorry. The Mac's menu bar works poorly with this app framework.)
- Fixed a slight size miscalculation in the status window.
- Updated the Electron app framework to 1.4.16.
...a wacky, creative thing set in a treehouse. It’s not like any app you’ve seen before. Buy it! Play around with it!
My Secret Hideout has no goal, no score, no trophies. Explore it, or play with it, until you find a result you like. Will your treehouse be simple or complex? Can you guide it? What will you discover inside?
Which is to say, it was a procedural text generation experiment that I thought might sell a few copies. It did, in fact, sell a few copies. So I let it sit there on the App Store, generating its handful of dollars a month, and I went back to working on Hadean Lands and Meanwhile and all the other cool things I've done since 2011.
Then, last month, I got a notice from Apple that I really should update that app, please, or they'd yank it from the store. (Apple announced this policy last year.) This was not an illogical request: the last time I touched Hideout, it was to add support for iOS 5. The app never supported retina displays, much less the modern big-ass iPhones. It mostly still worked on current devices and the current iOS, but the layout had gotten screwy. The VoiceOver support was sort of broken. Also it had that "may slow down your device" warning, which I believe translates as "this is a 32-bit app, how Paleolithic, eww."
To be clear, I think that dropping apps from the App Store is a stupid policy. Apple's correct move would be to apply a "search death penalty", hiding obsolete apps from all browsing and keyword search. If someone still has the direct link and decides to buy the app for their ancient iPod, take their money! This is history! Preserve it, jerks.
But, to be equally clear, I could update My Secret Hideout for iOS 10. It's just not worth the time and effort, because the app makes no money. (I got a similar "please update" notice for my Heliopause app, and I jumped right on that, because it uses the same IF framework as Hadean Lands. Which makes a bit of money. All of my IF apps have now been buffed to a pleasingly modern shine.)
So is My Secret Hideout lost forever? No!
I decided that if I couldn't make money on it, I should make it free. But if I'm to make it free, I might as well make it free on a web page. That way, everybody can take a look, even those benighted souls without iPhones.
Thus: play My Secret Hideout on Itch.IO. If you like it, please consider the "donate" button.
- The leaf-dragging animations aren't quite as bouncy as on iOS, and there are no little rustly sound effects.
- It's not very accessible to sight-impaired users. This is sad, because the original iOS app supported VoiceOver. (Until that broke.)
- There is no longer any way to save or export trees. Sorry. You'll have to just copy text from the web page.
- I have a report that it doesn't work on Linux. Or maybe it doesn't work on hybrid touchscreen-and-mouse laptops. I'm not sure. (You'd think the HTML touch event interface would be solid by now, but no.)
On the up side, I was finally able to delete the Facebook account that supported the "Export your tree to Facebook" feature. Man, was that ever a waste of time.
You may have noted that Steam has launched its Thanksgiving sale. It's not Black Friday yet; I dunno, maybe it's Purple Wednesday. They don't tell me these things.
Anyhow, Hadean Lands is part of this sale. My first Steam sale! Until Nov 29th, you can buy the game for 35% off. Exciting times indeed.
While you're at it, you might want to nominate your favorite text adventure for the Steam Awards. Interactive fiction winning such an award in the braoder gaming market? Sounds unlikely, doesn't it? I guess we'll find out!
(Yes, the iOS version has a lower base price. That's just the way things are right now.) (Also note: due to the way Apple prices bundles, the "Zarf's Interactive Fiction" bundle is not available this week.)
...Oh, and since somebody is going to ask: no. The Steam DLC Solo Adventurer Pledge Certificate is not discounted. Discounting the certificate would only make it less valuable. Sheesh.
Here's a bit of a thing. I happened to look at my "game design" folder, which is of course full of random snippets of text dating back years. The oldest file is from 2003:
Research: enter a book "room", use standard IF search techniques to explores, find "exits" to other pages or other books. Books can be hidden in "real life", or just not indexed in the library. Similarly, a section of a book might not be findable until you find a reference elsewhere, and search for it.
(Library is a real-life room; the books you're familiar with are pulled out, handy. Reading one enters the book "room".)
Alchemical operations form a deep skill tree. As you perform operations successfully, they're added as single action. ("distill alcohol", "resublimate thiotimoline"). Lots of room to explore. Operations have logic, but also exceptions.
Time limit? If you screw up, or take too long, your supplies and tools are restored to their original state -- new day begins -- but you retain your skills. Maybe even get pre-made supplies of stuff you're very familiar with.
Operations take particular amounts of time? So there's an optimization problem, even for skills you've learned. (Ameliorated by pre-made supplies.)
No idea what the story looks like. Something about the reason why you are taking this alchemical test and have an infinite number of retries.
That's all I wrote back then. It's old enough to have MacOS-Classic line breaks instead of Unix/OSX line breaks.
When I started planning HL in mid-2010 I started a new notes file, but I left the old one in place. Obviously some of that old stuff went out the window. Although now I like the idea of books as environments which you "enter" to do research. Maybe I'll try that again someday.
For more fun, here's a snippet from the 2010 notes file:
Planetary types: (A marcher doesn't normally visit these, but they're familiar from the academy and from sailor's stories. The protagonist has never seen one before; he's only visited Gaian lands, and rarely left the Retort except in inhabited places.)
- Gaian lands: where people can live.
- Hadean lands: rock, little or no air, "night" sky. (The Moon, Mars.)
- Helian lands: like Hadean lands, but with a big honking sun. (Mercury.)
- Erebian lands: like Hadean lands, but covered in ice and with little sun. (Pluto, etc.)
- Thalassan lands: oceans (of something) and atmosphere. (Titan, probably.)
- Aeolian lands: only clouds visible. (Jupiter, but also Venus.)
- Hermetic lands would be fairyland or Atlantis. Places populated by the Wise. The term is from popular fiction rather than science.
All of that is canon, but it's only briefly referred to in the released game.
I'm holding onto the hermeticlands.com domain as a placeholder. For what, I don't know yet.
So, Zarf, how did that launch go?
Pretty good! Hadean Lands has been on sale on Steam for sixteen days now. And three hours. (Am I counting the minutes? Not really, but it's fun to check.)
In that time it garnered several articles about the DLC certificate, notably from Kotaku and Eurogamer.net. (Those two articles interviewed me a bit on the subject.) Emily Short posted a stellar writeup of the game on Rock Paper Shotgun, and I also got a very nice review on ExtremeTech. And of course many other people said positive things.
Extra props to RayganK, who is leading a crew through HL on his Twitch channel. This is very cool! And... Twitch works very badly for me, for some reason, so I've only seen bits of it. They're two sessions in. Good hunting, folks.
But really, how is it selling?
I won't get into hard numbers, but... HL sold a fair number of copies in the first three days. Then the Steam summer sale started, which took the wind out of the sales. Or maybe it was just a three-day launch spike; it's about what I expected either way.
Then the nice reviews appeared, which led to several more days of good sales. Yay! At this point we're settling back down to the long-term tail rate, but I don't yet have an idea what that is.
And yes, to answer the obvious question, I've sold some certificates. A few. Not nearly as many as I've sold copies of the game. That's fine; I worked a lot harder on the game.
This past weekend I posted a small update. (Also available on Itch and Humble.) It doesn't affect the game content, but adds some UI features:
- "Full Screen" menu option. (F11 on Win/Linux, cmd-ctrl-F on Mac.)
- "Find..." and "Find Next" menu options (ctrl-F/G or cmd-F/G). These let you do a simple text search in the story window. Note that the scrollback is not infinite -- sorry.
- In the "Preferences" dialog, there is now an option for "Other Font..." This lets you enter the name of any font installed on your system. (Although you have to type it in rather than looking through a list. Enter the name as you would see it in a CSS file -- the game's display engine is HTML, after all.)
- In the Alchemy Journal window, the list of rituals now shows "(*)" to mark rituals that you've learned but not yet tried. (Same as the RECALL RITUALS command in the story window.)
- Fixed a bug where a formula description in the Journal window might not be updated when it should be.
(Due to the nature of Inform 7, I will probably never update the game content of the Steam release of HL. Any change would inevitably wipe everybody's save-game positions, and that just isn't acceptable for a Steam game.)
And that's the current color of the ritual bound, as it were. At this point I've done everything to Hadean Lands that I ever planned to, and more; it is entirely and completely shipped.
(Except for that bit of the KS reward that I still owe a few backers... yes, I know.)
I'm finishing up a contract project this month, and then it's back to thinking about Designing A New Game. Since I'm a game designer and all.
You can buy HL on Steam. That is the whole blog post.
A few weeks ago Emily Short declared the Bring Out Your Dead game jam, an event dedicated to sharing our abandoned projects and failed experiments.
The jam opened this evening; submissions remain open until the 24th. I see 31 entries already, including works from Alan DeNiro, Bruno Dias, Adri, Cat Manning, Sam Ashwell, and this honorable blogger.
I posted... the first prototype of The Flashpaper War! And the second prototype too. (Playable on web pages. I've also done iPad prototypes of the game, but posting those isn't really possible. You're missing some cute animations, is all.)
I said a year ago that Flashpaper would be my next IF project. And I still intend that to be true! I built these prototypes last year and demoed them in private; I showed a version at Boston FIG as well. But they just didn't work out, so I scrapped them and started from scratch.
(And then I had to spend some time on paying work, and some more time working on the Steam release of Hadean Lands... which is this Monday, by the way. Just thought I'd say.)
The start-from-scratch plan is still marinating. I have plans. They may even see daylight this year... but for the moment, enjoy these Flashpaper prototypes.
Hey! I am back from Balticon, and so it's time for the HL release train to rumble into motion. Here's the first stage:
I have posted a new release of Hadean Lands to my Humble Store and Itch.IO pages. This is the new Lectrote-based app, for MacOS, Windows, and Linux, with autosave and integrated map and journal windows.
Bug reports are very welcome. Any bug I fix before the Steam launch is a win.
This release includes both a native app and the bare
HadeanLands.gblorb game file, so you can play HL on any Glulx interpreter. (But you don't get the dynamic map and journal if you play that way.)
If you have saved games from the original (2014) release of HL, they are not compatible with this release. Sorry! I've stuck the original
HadeanLands-2014.gblorb in the package too, so if you really want to go back to your old save files, it's possible.
(The differences between the current 2016 release and the old 2014 release are small. A few typos, a couple of fixes for obscure ritual corner cases, some improvements to parser disambiguation.)
Here's the important announcement: On June 20th, the price is going up! When HL launches on Steam -- that's June 20th -- it will launch at a price of $12 US. On that day, I am raising the price on the Humble and Itch stores to match. (The iOS version will remain at $5.)
This means that you have three weeks to buy the new version of the game at the old price. Think of it as a secret preparing-for-Steam sale.
Obviously, it's not a secret secret that the game is still available for $5. This is the Internet and you're reading it. But it's a fine line between "I underpriced HL when I originally released it" and "you're jacking up the price on us, you jerk." I don't want to get into that argument on the Steam store page for HL. My position there is "This is a $12 game." Keep it simple, keep it focussed on the Steam launch.
Okay, what else is going on...
If you've looked over the Steam store page you've probably noticed the DLC! Yes, Hadean Lands will have DLC, and no -- I'll spill the joke right away -- it's not extended game content. It's the Hadean Lands Solo Adventurer Pledge Certificate. That is, you can pay extra money for a certificate that you sign promising not to look at hints. Purely optional, I assure you.
The certificate will only be available through Steam. I've put up a detailed explanation on the DLC page. So far, comments are running 100% for "clever idea"... okay, that's 100% of one comment. Still, a positive response. Might even make me some extra money.
Speaking of commentary, Hadean Lands was discussed in three Xyzzymposium posts recently:
- Caleb Wilson on Best Setting
- Aaron A. Reed on Best Use of Innovation
- Joey Jones on Best Implementation
(These posts discuss the nominees for the XYZZY Awards in those categories for 2014. HL won all three of those categories that year, along with Best Puzzles.)
(Cases that are "curious" are as overdone as things "considered harmful". This one is just a nuisance, but I still have to solve it.)
When I started planning HL for iOS, I figured that I'd charge $5. It wasn't a casual-tiny price, it wasn't full-on-desktop-game. (2010 was early in iOS history but we could already see what "race to the bottom" meant.) I wrote up the Kickstarter page and offered $3 as the basic backer pre-order level -- "a $5 value!" So that was pretty well locked in.
During development I decided to release the game for Mac and Windows as well, but I kept the $5 price point. I'm not sure I had any hard logic for this beyond "I don't want to think about it." With a dash of "nobody will complain if it's the same price everywhere." I've had a couple of limited-term sales, but HL has basically been $5 since it launched.
Now I'm (slowly) approaching a Steam release. Scary! And worth revisiting my old assumptions. Should I raise the price?
(I'm not lowering the price, don't be silly.)
The good example on everyone's mind this week is Stephen's Sausage Roll, which launched with a $30 price-tag and an equally brazen attitude of "I'm worth it". Or, more, precisely: "Do you want this particular kind of puzzle? Are you going to jump up and down on it until your knees catch fire? If so, I'm worth $30 to you. Everybody else, just walk on by."
Also, as my friend Chris noted: "if this was a $5 game i'd just put it down and say 'whatever, too hard' [...] but being invested means i have to play it." Buying a game is buying into the game. We all know this, but the difference between $5 and $30 really throws it into the spotlight.
So maybe this all describes Hadean Lands too? Parser IF is niche appeal in a nutshell. Maybe I should kick it up to $7 or $10 on Steam. Or more?
I asked around my IF friends, and several of them said sure, they'd pay $10. Of course, they all own the game already, so it's not exactly a useful sample!
Many factors collide here.
- What price? Dare I go beyond $10?
- Do I also raise the iOS price?
- Do I also raise the Mac/Win price? (On Itch.IO and the Humble Store.)
- I'm adding the journal and map features (which exist on iOS but have never been seen on Mac/Win). I could say it's an "enhanced version" because of that.
- I'm also fixing some minor but long-standing bugs. It's probably asinine to call it "enhanced" on that account, though.
- I really don't have time in my schedule to extend the game in any way (beyond the journal and map UI).
- When it comes down to it, will Steam users come after me in a torch-bearing mob for raising the price of an already-released game? Or is "new to Steam" good enough?
(But one major point of the "I'm worth it" strategy is to signal to the torch-bearing mob to go elsewhere, because they wouldn't be interested in the game to begin with! SSR has a delightfully high rating on Steam, because it's only purchased by people who want it.)
Here's a work-in-progress shot of Hadean Lands on MacOS. I'm using an extended version of Lectrote, with HL's map and journal windows added in. (The iOS release of HL has always had these, but not the Mac/Win releases. Until now!)
Yes, two different windows are titled "Map of the Marcher". I'll fix that.
(Background: Lectrote is a new interpreter for Glulx IF games -- meaning most recent Inform 7 games. It runs on Mac/Win/Linux, and it supports all Glulx features except audio. I still have a "beta" label on it, but it's been stable for people so I think it's about ready to 1.0-ify.)
Once this is ready, I'll soft-launch it as an update for existing HL users (people who bought the desktop version through Itch or Humble, plus Kickstarter backers). I'll also post the process of turning your Glulx game into a Lectrote app like this.
In other news, I was interviewed on another podcast! Guy Hasson of Blind Panels talks to me about pretty much the entire history of IF. Plus other stuff I've done.
Meanwhile: An Interactive Comic Book by Jason Shiga is now available for the 4th-gen Apple TV.
That's pretty much the whole announcement. You can buy it. If you've already bought the iOS version of Meanwhile, you can download it for Apple TV for free. (Go to the App Store app in the TV interface; select "Purchased"; scroll down and select "Not on this Apple TV".)
Oh, and the iOS version has been updated to fully support the iPad Pro. Somebody with an iPad Pro, try it and tell me how awesome it is.
On the way home from the ice cream store, little Jimmy discovers a mad scientist’s wonderland: an experimental mind-reading helmet, a time machine, and a doomsday device that can annihilate the human race. Which one would you like to test out first?
MEANWHILE is not an ordinary comic. YOU make the choices that determine how the story unfolds. MEANWHILE splits off into thousands of different adventures. Most will end in DOOM and DISASTER. Only one path will lead you to happiness and success.
I've been steadily updating Lectrote, my new cross-platform(*) IF interpreter. In the past month it's gotten icons, a preferences dialog with font and color options, and -- most exciting from my point of view -- autosave.
(* Cross-platform meaning that Lectrote runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux. The interpreter only runs Glulx games, not Z-machine or TADS or any other format.)
Autosave means that if you close the game window (or quit the interpreter) and then open it again, you will find your game where you left off. You don't have to use the
RESTORE commands unless you want to keep multiple save points.
As I wrote last month, autosave is a bit of a nuisance. I spent February getting it all polished up and tested. And then the tests revealed some obscure low-level bugs in the iOS implementation of autosave. Turns out my iOS Hadean Lands app was failing to store one VM table, and therefore running about 50% slower than it should have. Whoops. Good thing I wrote tests, right?
Lectrote on the desktop seems to be adequately speedy for most games, including Hadean Lands. So that's the last big technical barrier to creating a really nice HL app for Mac/Win/Linux...
I don't mean to imply that a Steam release is coming this week. It will still take some time to adapt Lectrote to a single-game interface. Naturally I will document this process! I want to make things as smooth as possible for any author who wants to release an Inform game as a Mac/Win/Linux app.
(The iOS process is, er, not very smooth. This is mostly because Apple's process for the iOS App Store is baroque, to say the least. I'm not planning to put HL in the MacOS App Store, so it should be simpler.)
I'll also see if I can include the extra dynamically-updating windows from the iOS version of HL: the clickable map and the alchemy index. In theory, these aren't too hard to set up -- I can copy the logic and contents right over from the iOS app. In practice, theory sits on the curb and laughs at you when you say things like that. So we'll see.
But the end is in sight. Give me another couple of months.
Once I have a working HL app, I will release it as an update for the existing Mac/Win/Linux versions of the game. If you have downloaded HL from the Humble Store or Itch.IO (either as a purchaser or a Kickstarter backer), you will be able to download the new app and try it out. If no horrible bugs turn up, I'll start preparing the Steam release.
(Yes, it's been available on my web site all along. But sub-Q is cool! Also they pay for reprinting short IF! I like that sort of thing. So go replay it there, if you haven't tried it in a decade or so.)
SUtW is an interesting side note of its era. 1997 was still solidly the era of "IF means puzzle-based parser games", although IFComp was rapidly loosening up the definitions. My idea wasn't exactly choice-based IF -- I was still committed to freely-typed input -- but I wanted to get away from standard verb-noun commands. And, of course, I wanted to try escaping the notion of puzzles.
I wound up with a sort of freely branching, non-goal-oriented narrative; what we might call a "time cave" today. I wasn't able to sustain much of it. But I liked what I got.
(I'd have a hard time telling you exactly how big the structure is! Some of the source code got eaten by a hard drive crash -- remember when MacOS didn't have memory protection? It wouldn't be hard to disassemble the Z-code and reconstruct the source, but I've never had the urge.)
Thanks to Tory for this opportunity, and also for pulling together the cover art. SUtW predates the era of IF cover art, so I didn't have any ready to go.
I am happy to report that Meanwhile: An Interactive Comic Book has passed its review for the Apple TV store. It will be available on February 29th. Because Leap Days are nifty.
Jason and I are excited about this launch. If you're not familiar with Meanwhile -- and, really, you should be -- it's Jason Shiga's mad-science fairy tale about a kid in a laboratory of crazy inventions. You've got a time machine, a mind-reading helmet, and a doomsday device. What more could you want?
Meanwhile started out as a book, and I adapted it for iOS a few years back. Now I've ported the app for the Apple TV -- or rather, I've re-engineered it. Going from a touchscreen to the Siri remote forced me to completely rethink how the app focuses and displays the panels of the comic. It's come out beautifully, if I may say so.
(And, as always, Meanwhile is completely playable using VoiceOver for people with visual disabilities.)
Meanwhile will be a joint purchase. If you've bought the iOS version, you'll be able to download the Apple TV app for free as soon as it's released. And vice versa.
As far as I can tell, there aren't any interactive graphic novels on the Apple TV store yet. (Do people still say "hypercomics"?) So this is our window. Maybe we can start a trend. Pass the word around.
Today I posted the beta of Lectrote, a new IF interpreter application for Mac, Windows, and Linux. This is both more and less exciting than it sounds!
When I was looking to release Hadean Lands as an app, I found that none of these were really what I wanted. Zoom is unmaintained and buggy; WinGlulxe is weird about scrolling; Gargoyle has problems on hi-res displays. (I'm summarizing, it was a long messy story.)
Quixe had the UI that I wanted -- no surprise; it's the one I wrote the UI for! -- but it wasn't really meant to be used as an app. It exists as a web page, or a component of a web page. Also, it's slow. So I put it aside and went with Gargoyle.
However, the long messy story didn't end there! A few weeks ago I was gazing over the endless cycle of dev-tools and noticed Electron. Electron lets you wrap up a Node.js tool as a standalone app for Mac, Win, and Linux. And Node.js is, well, I don't really know what it is but it's a web thing. Seems ideal, right? Stuff Quixe's web page into Electron and we're done.
It wasn't quite that easy. Node.js has full filesystem access (unlike a web page), so I had to extend Quixe's load/save system to deal with ordinary files. (So you can exchange save files between Lectrote and other interpreters.) But that was still pretty easy. I stuck the IF postcard in a menu, too.
And now you can try it.
So what does this have to do with getting Hadean Lands onto Steam? Well, it's a very simple tweak to drop a Glulx game file into Lectrote. Then you've got a Mac/Win/Linux app that plays a single game. And it looks nice and the text layout is pretty and you can adjust the font size without editing a text file.
I haven't done that yet. I'll have to adjust the menus -- knock out all the support for opening multiple games.
More important, I'll have to add autosave. Right now, if you're playing a game and you close the window, your game is gone. Hope you typed
SAVE! That's okay for an interpreter (used by IF habitués), but it's not ideal. It's really not acceptable for a Steam standalone game release.
Autosave for Glulx games is a bit of a nuisance, but I got it working on iOS. I will get it to work with Quixe. It will just take a few more weeks.
...oh, and then there's the speed. I mentioned that Quixe is slow, right? It's faster than it was but it might not be fast enough for Hadean Lands. If you own HL for Mac/Win/Linux, try it! In particular, try loading a mid-game save file and typing a command which requires many stages, like
GO TO BAROSY.
(If you don't own HL, may I remind you that it's on sale for the next two days? I probably don't have to. But I do it anyway.)
Anyway, I may try plugging a different Glulx VM into Lectrote to speed it up. I can probably run RemGlk/Glulxe as a subprocess of the Node.js server... We'll see.
For now, Lectrote is a multi-platform interpreter app which has the UI I want, and that's a good start.
Beat the average price to get some bonuses:
- High resolution map: This is the artwork that I used for the Hadean Lands backer reward poster. It is larger than the version included with the general HL release, and includes a few additional details.
- Hadean Lands source code samples: A few representative samples from the Inform 7 source code of the game.
- Critical Hit: An unfinished prototype of a game I started in 2009. This has never been released on the Internet, although I included it on the HL backer reward CD.
IndieGameStand is offering Hadean Lands for Mac, Windows, and Linux. These are exactly the same versions that are available on the Humble Store and Itch.IO.
Note: the iOS version is not pay-what-you-want; it's a flat $2. And it does not include the IGS bonuses listed above. The two sales are separate; sorry, I have no way to link them together. But you can buy both if you want, right?
I survived my month of a thousand conferences. Three conferences, which feels like a thousand when you put them in a four-week span. IndieCade was great! WordPlay was great! I also went to Practice, which was great! Then I was tired.
Between all of that and some assorted client work, I have had zero time to put into The Flashpaper War. Oops. So the "coming later this year" notice that I posted in May turns out to be a lie. Sorry! (This is why I didn't Kickstart it, right?)
I've updated the Flashpaper teaser page to say "Coming in 2016". I really intend to hold to that. Not least because Flashpaper was my "make some money on IF in 2015" idea. Money is awesome. I'm very keen on having some new IF for sale in 2016.
I'm still excited about Flashpaper as a game concept, too. Now that I've taken a three-month vacation from working on it, I can see that the underlying concept needs to be hit with the iteration stick a few more times. It got good responses at FIG, but it's not as catchy as I'd like. Flashpaper is unlike most IF that's out there, so it has to build its own market in order to be a hit.
In the spirit of setting expectations, I will say: Flashpaper is not parser IF. It will be an iOS game, or at least an iOS-first game. It was conceived as a touchscreen game from the beginning and that's how it will work best.
(Android may follow eventually if it seems worth the effort of porting. Yes, I say that about all my iOS projects. Nothing yet has been enough of a success to be worth learning Android programming. I live in hope.)
As for other projects: I still want to do Meanwhile for AppleTV. I took a quick stab at porting the iOS version over, but the scrolling didn't work right and then I had to put it aside for client work. I'll get back to it over the winter break.
I am also -- and don't take this as a promise but come on this is awesome -- looking at entering the Imaginary Games Jam. Registration deadline is a week from today.
And I need to sew elbow patches on my hideous plaid jacket. That jacket has been in circulation since 1987-ish. Getting a bit worn around the seams.
So those are my winter plans. Plus the usual round of keeping an eye on Inform bugs, thinking about IF libraries, hanging out, and generally messing around. The next Boston IF meetup is Thursday, by the way.
Looking farther out, I'm gonna be at GDC in March. I'm not giving any talks or anything, just visiting. It's been four years since my last (first) GDC trip, and I've met way more cool game people since then, so it's probably time to go back.
I hope to have more exciting Zarf-does-stuff news soon...
I'm happy to announce that Pocket Storm for the Apple TV is now available in the new Apple TV App Store. Apple's new set-top box ships today, and you can get your favorite thunderstorm on it.
To find it, open the App Store app on the TV's main screen, select Search, and enter STORM. (Or POCKET, or ZARF -- the text search is actually pretty good.)
Better yet -- if you've purchased Pocket Storm for iOS, you can download the Apple TV app for free! And vice versa. It's a joint purchase, which means you can buy it once and then install it on any iOS or tvOS device you own.
As always, I am donating 10% of Pocket Storm revenues to Freesound.org, because of the awesome service they provide to indie game designers and other artists. In particular, they provide CC-licensed thunderstorm noises to me!
We showed off Seltani at Indiecade! To lots of people. Lots and lots. Not everybody was interested -- it was, after all, a text game in a hall crowded with flashing lights and VR headsets -- but plenty of people thought it was worth a look. Some were Myst fans (or even Myst Online fans); some were old MUD users; some were familiar with Twine but had never seen a multiplayer Twine-like.
I gave out stacks of postcards with this map I did of the Seltani District (the game's initial hub area). It had the URL on the back, obviously. (Note to self: next time I reprint the postcard, boldface the URL.)
In a wiser and more organized world I would have a story to tell about Indiecade, but it's not, I don't, and I'm moderately exhausted in a hotel as I write this. So you get lists.