I’ll make no secret about it. The IFDB doesn’t impress me much. Now the idea is a great one, for both game designers and game players. But it’s the people involved who screw it up, a la usual. Sometimes I think that the IF community is comprised of the smallest, most vindictive, petty, vengeful, and disrespectful people on the face of the earth, because there is a spirit of “never let the other guy get the last word” that runs rampant on the IFDB and elsewhere.
Seriously, now. Where else have you seen where people feel it’s necessary to not write a review about a game, but a review dogging on another review? That’s pretty common. Then you have the silly little “I’m going to vote down MOST/ALL your reviews because I don’t like what you said in one” voting. What the heck is this, people? Third grade? Lastly, you have the “anything goes” policy of the moderators, which just amp up the noise ratio so that you have to wade through all of these personal vendettas disguised as reviews.
I wrote one “review of a review” just to prove a point — that if you want to broadcast your smelly little orthodoxies, that there will always be someone who can disembowel you verbally if he or she so chooses. Then, having said my piece, I immediately lost all of my interest in the ifdb as a watering hole. I don’t even bother to read reviews on my game.
That’s a big thing that generally sucks about the IF community: lack of spine. The bartenders are so afraid of offending this Old One or people in general, that no-one is willing to call them on their immaturity. As a result, every saloon gets shot up on a regular basis and everyone lives one step away from blowing away someone else. I really don’t get why we can’t treat each other like human beings instead of trying to argue our points endlessly. IF suffers from an endemic lack of humility and a corresponding overabundance of vanity.
As the old saw goes, what gets measured, gets done. I have a hard time motivating myself for what seem epic tasks, so I devised a graph to measure the amount of time I was developing the game each week. Motivation is a problem for independent game developers of all stripes. This is one of my kick in the pants to keep myself on track.
I hit some low spots lately due to playing bass in a band and feeding my anime` addiction. I know that and can flagellate myself all day, but looking at it on a graph shows me the impact to the game that these other activities have.
Not all dialog in IF follows the same structure, as each discussion does not serve the same goal, just like in real life. Some conversations are for fulfilling social needs (relieving boredom, establishing social harmony, making friends). Others are for obtaining information, or obtaining goods or services. Still others are initiated by people besides yourself to get you to do something or give something. Yet, in IF, usually conversations are one-size-fits-all and cut right to the chase. Either you need something or the NPC needs something, without even a “Hi” or “Bye” mixed in.
It’s important to keep in mind the motivations of the NPC when planning your conversations. Of course the NPC exists for a specific game purpose, but the NPC brings his or her own personality and preferences to play. Say that you have an NPC that serves largely to explain some of the strange goings-on in the mysterious mansion. He could be a historian of manses in the South with unrequited love for Vicky, a manor-owner’s daughter. When the player interacts with this NPC, he dispenses background information readily, but requires you to find out more information about Vicky before he reveals the secrets of her father’s palatial residence.
Not all NPCs should dispense whatever the player wants to know, or do whatever the player needs to have done at the drop of a hat. They must be convinced, either through ask/tell actions, or displaying of objects (say, an incriminating photo — which is an idea I got from some old RAIF posting), or by the PC befriending them, like bringing a blackberry cobbler to a hungry recluse.
This is something I’ve learned while designing the characters for Seasons — each serves a game purpose, and each has his or her own motivations, which makes fulfilling the game purpose a challenge for the player.