Casual Gameplay Design Competition #7!


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Game Design Competition #7

Announcing Casual Gameplay Design Competition #7!!

What if? As if! What does it all mean and why do we keep teasing you?!! If you've been gnawing your nails waiting for the mystery to be unveiled, fret no more!

We are pleased to announce a very special Casual Gameplay Design Competition, one focused entirely on interactive fiction! For CGDC #7, we're calling on IF authors to craft one-room games incorporating the theme "escape". It's text-only this time around, so you can spend your time polishing puzzles instead of pixels. Full details are below, so fire up your Z-code compiler and get to writing!

Mission

  • Design a one-room game of interactive fiction in Z-code that incorporates the theme: "escape".

The Prizes

  • 1st place:
    • $1,000
  • 2nd place:
    • $500
  • 3rd place:
    • $250

Deadline
The deadline for entries is
Sunday, January 31, 2010 at 11:59PM (GMT-5:00).

Sponsors
We thank our sponsors for their kind support:
CGDC7 sponsorsCasual GameplayArmor Games

A list of rules and requirements for entry and for judging follow...

Rules
Following is a complete list of rules that all participants, and their entries, must adhere to:

  1. All entries are to be one-room(ish) games of interactive fiction.
    We are suggesting one-room games for scope to fit our large audience that is made up mostly of casual gamers. Multi-room games will also be allowed if small in scope. Games should be solvable in no more than about 2 hours.
  2. All entries must incorporate the competition theme ("escape").
    Judging will include an evaluation of how well the theme is represented in your game, so we will ask you to submit an explanation of how the theme inspired you to create your game when you fill out an entry. A game may be disqualified for failure to incorporate the theme.
  3. All entries must be compiled to Z-code prior to submission.
    Games submitted must be in Z-code so they are playable in a browser and thereby accessible to the largest audience possible. We will use our internally developed Flash-based Z-code interpreter, or the Javascript-based Parchment, to make all competition entries available to play from the main competition page once the deadline has passed. You may use Parchment to test your game with. If you need an IF development system that compiles to Z-code, check out Inform.
  4. All entries must be original works free from copyright infringement.
    No entry may be based upon the copyrighted works of another or use copyrighted multimedia assets unless permission has been granted by the copyright holder. Parodies are permitted.
  5. All entries must be created specifically for this competition.
    Your game must not have been in general release (publicly available to play) prior to the deadline of the competition. This is to emphasize the game design challenge. It does not prevent you from beta-testing your game, but you must know who your beta testers are.
  6. The judging period will last 3 weeks.
    All entries will be made available online shortly after the competition deadline, and the judging period will then begin for a duration of 3 weeks. Anyone interested in judging the games of the competition should follow the rules and instructions in the "Judging" section below. All scores must be submitted by the end of the judging period.
  7. Updates and bug fixes will be allowed during the judging period.
    In the spirit of competition, we will allow bug fixes and updates to competition entries during the judging period. However, it is in each participant's best interest to make every effort to submit the very best possible entry prior to the deadline since the judging period begins soon afterwards.
  8. Entries containing violence or mature themes.
    If violence or mature themes are necessary for your game, please use the ESRB Teen rating definition as a guideline to the limit of what is acceptable for this competition. Again, the aim here is to reach the largest audience possible.
  9. Participants may submit no more than 3 entries each.
  10. Participants must be 13 years of age or older (void where prohibited).

To Enter
By submitting an entry to the competition, you grant Jayisgames.com and Casual Gameplay a permanent, non-exclusive license to host your game, either individually or as part of a larger collection. We will always include credit to the original author and display a link to you or your sponsor's site, if desired.

When you are ready to submit your game: Please use the CGDC7 Entry Form for providing us with your name, mailing address, preferred link (optional), explanation of theme, and a few other details. Next, email your game file (or a download link) and walkthrough (a set of commands that can be used to successfully complete your game) to: cgdc7entry@casualgameplay.com

We will reply within 24 hours to confirm your entry once your game file is received.

Judging
If you wish to be a judge, we have a set of rules that you must adhere to:

  • You must make an effort to play through each game completely that you wish to judge.
  • You must play and judge at least 5 games for your scores to be counted.
  • You must fill out an online survey for each game you wish to judge. A link to the survey will be emailed to you once all the game entries are available to play and the competition begins.
  • You must judge each game objectively and fairly, answering each survey question to the best of your ability. The survey is designed to assign a numerical value to the following categories for each entry. All survey questions will be multiple choice:

    • Theme: To what extent is the theme present?
    • Appeal: To what extent did the game engage you from the start and compel you to finish?
    • Fun: To what extent did you find yourself enjoying the game?
    • Composition: To what extent did the author tell a good story or create a meaningful or immersive experience?
    • Technical: To what extent was the game free from bugs, accessibility and usability issues?
    • Overall: Give this game a rating from 1 (worst) to 5 (best).
  • The judging period will last 3 weeks. All scores must be submitted by the end of the judging period.
  • You may not judge any game(s) for which you were a beta tester.

To request to be added to the judges list, please fill out this form:
Judging is closed.
You will be notified with instructions as the deadline for the competition approaches.

If you have any questions at all about the competition rules, please post a comment here and we will address it.

145 Comments

Sweet! :)
I have to be honest, with the speculation that the theme was gonna be interactive fiction I was pretty exited. But interactive fiction room escapes is just beyond all of my wildest dreams (reach for the stars eh? ^^) This is a theme that the less able game designers will be more tempted to have a go at and I'm looking forward to a lot of fun entries as always. Good luck to everyone who enters.

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This could be fun. and we have lots of time too.

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YES! I'll have the time to learn how to make these things...

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I thought someone already thought of this thing in the previous disccussions. Congrats to them for having a huge brain!

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Oh geez, this was serious. Awesome! I can't wait to see what people make.

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Wait... No audience award?

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Bah, escape games. Stereotypical puzzles, nonsense interaction of objects... Boring even with the usual crappy visuals.

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Am I correct in assuming "rooms" can be interpreted "locations," i.e. it doesn't necessarily have to be set indoors, as long as the number of locations is limited? Escaping from an island, cave, zeppelin, dreamworld, toxic relationship, etc. all okay?

Would a game like Gun Mute be accepted to this competition (disregarding theme)? It was about 12 locations, but you could only go forward and backwards between them, no mapping necessary.

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Utterly awesome. Thank you JiG for giving IF some wider exposure. I hope the response will justify additional IF competitions in the future.

@goocy: I think you should reserve judgement until you see the actual entries, or try out some of the better modern IF. In particular, check out Violet or Galatea for examples of what can be done with one-room IF.

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Support all competitors.
It's ashamed that i don't know how to make games, hope everyone of you can make an excellent one!!

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Is this competition Z-Code only?
Or can I make a flash animation which replicates Interactive Fiction? If so can there be pictures, animations, music, sound. etc?

[Edit: All entries are to be Z-code story files and therefore will all be on a level playing field. -Jay]

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Jay,

It seems pretty obvious, but, if we actually enter the competition, we can't also be judges, right?

[Edit: Unless you feel incapable of being objective and fair, you may also be a judge. However, you cannot, of course, judge your own entry(s). -Jay]

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Yay! I'm soooo looking forward to this! I'm a giant fan of the site and all escape games! :D peace out!

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I'm a gamer and I love puzzles. I have never developed a game. But with more than 2 months, I'm tempted.

Can any body give me an idea of whether it's possible to learn enough in this time to develop something however simple but ready to be entered in this competition? If so, can anybody point me towards a good starting point?

Or else, is anybody interested in a group effort? I'd be willing to contribute on game and puzzle design and testing.

Is this interactive fiction or what?

;-)

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SmotingKills November 16, 2009 12:12 PM

I really shouldn't, seeing as I have my thesis to complete, but I'm really tempted to TRY and create something. So...can anyone recommend a tutorial for Z-Code? (Z-Code for Dummies, sort of?) I googled, but I came away confused...does Z-Code run under different names, perhaps?

Well, thanks in advance!

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Wow great idea, I'm really looking forward to it.

Am I right in saying it doesn't have to be an 'Escape Game' it just has to incorporate the theme of escape? I think it would be really interesting if there were some more unusual interpretations of the theme.

Inform 7 is a fairly easy IF language and the included documentation is pretty good. There's a really good guide by Jim Aikin online and Emily Short's blog is also very useful. Hope that helps.

[Edit: As with all our competitions, creative interpretation of the theme is definitely allowed, and encouraged. -Jay]

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For those with no experience with IF development:

Just download Inform 7; it's the standard for writing IF and compiling to z-code. Z-code, btw, runs on a z-machine. A z-machine is a emulator for running text adventures, developed first by Infocom (Zork, etc), and later expanded by the IF community.

It's fairly easy to learn the basics of Inform 7. You can build a very simple game in literally minutes. It comes with excellent documentation.

For those who are very new to IF, I'd play a few modern games first. Most of the better ones are fairly short. The IF archive can be searched to find games by rating. To get you started, any game by Emily Short is going to be worth playing. Also try Violet for a recent example of a superb one-room game.

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Wow, so some people actually got it right on the teaser comments.
Neat, looking forward to it!

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Wow! I signed up to judge, but I'm tempted to write my own, too... I love both IF and escape the room.

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Cool idea! I might try though I'm pretty lame at Inform.

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Exciting! I am definitely going to try to come up with some ideas for this one :)

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CyberJacob November 16, 2009 1:24 PM

Cool. I've started work on it already.
Hey Jay, can I submit a glux instead of a z-machine, I want to use the image capabilities.

[Edit: No to Glulx, sorry. -Jay]

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I think I'm going to enter, just for fun. I'm not eligible for prizes, but that's fine by me! I know I'd just get slaughtered by someone with "the skills" in the community anyway. But I like the theme, and the idea, and I'd like to play around with it and then see what everyone thinks of my efforts. Izzat alright?

I'm really looking forward to seeing what everyone else comes up with. I love IF, and the one room(ish) concept should make for interesting settings. Good luck guys!

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ArkhamVonWicker Author Profile Page November 16, 2009 1:50 PM

I've been brainstorming an idea that fits this theme perfectly. I needed something to get me off my butt and finally start working on it. This might be just what I needed.

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I love IF, I love escape games, and I love cgdc! This is gonna be AWESOME!!!

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I sense a lot of new game designers in the making!

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Cornbread Muffin November 16, 2009 2:23 PM

By "small in scope" do you mean small in play area, or small in gameplay amount? For example, would a ten room game be acceptable if there was one puzzle per room?

Also, just a suggestion but I'd like it if each game could be assigned a rating. (Green, yellow, orange, or red.) I actually prefer the old system of games competitions simply because with the minipost for each game, game ratings were given. That way I knew which ones to try.

I may piece an entry or two together during Christmas break. Sounds like a fun competition! I'm looking forward to seeing lots of great entries.

[Edit: "small in scope" meaning 'relatively short in game play'. A game should be able to be completed, on average, in no more than about 2 hours. And I'll look into adding a rating to the competition page. Thanks for the suggestion. -Jay]

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Wait. Wait. Wait hold on.

There was something going on today?

(But seriously, good luck to all the contestants, and I look forward to seeing the results!)

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Judge Donut... I like how that sounds!

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This is a great idea! Thanks Jay et al.

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So then, can I use figures and sounds in my Interactive Fiction?

[Edit: Since Parchment will likely be the interpreter used for delivering the competition game entries to the competition judges by way of a browser, I would recommend that any figures or sounds that you add to your IF be non-essential to completing the game since I do not believe Parchment supports them at this time (and will therefore ignore them). -Jay]

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@Number13: As an addicted casual gamer, I played several IF entries - and mostly enjoying it. The problem with IF escape games is that either the author has remarkable skills in constructing multiple object interactions (and multiple story consequences) or invents a single working storyline. This latter kind of game leaves the reader with the dreary task of figuring out what the author had in mind.

If there is only a more or less linear storyline, please don't leave so much choice to the reader. This idea has been implemented, for example, by the Commonplace Book project.

The true challenge for an IF author - in my opinion - is to provide the reader with a variety of possibilities and to let the story flow along.
Fabulous examples of this idea I have been playing were - indeed - Violet, Galatea and 9:05.

My only concern is that one-room escape games limit the author to the latter approach - and that is it probably much harder to produce an interesting and non-frustrating gameplay than for another main theme.

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3 entries each? I believe they can't be part of each other.

And when you mean 2 hours to complete does that mean if the player plays straight-foward?

[Edit: Yes, a maximum of 3 entries may be submitted by each participant. Each entry will be judged individually and separately. 2 hours is a rough guideline as to the average length it takes a player to complete, and may differ depending on the skill of the player. We are asking for bite-sized games for a casual gameplay audience. -Jay]

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CyberJacob November 16, 2009 3:50 PM

just found the page http://jayisgames.com/cgdc7
AMAZING, you must visit it, and touch the orbs for me.

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Vogonviking Author Profile Page November 16, 2009 4:56 PM

I am soooo excited! :) I love IF and I love escape games! Thank you Jay! Two hours to complete though - definitely needs a save feature! x_x

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Sheer_Cold Author Profile Page November 16, 2009 5:25 PM

Huh, sort of a contradiction in http://jayisgames.com/cgdc7.

>take orb
Which do you mean, Orb 1, Orb 2, Orb 3, Orb 4, Orb 5, Orb 6 or Orb 7?

>orb 7
The orb is held firmly to the table as if by magic. No human strength could remove the orb from where it sits.

>x orb 7
You do not see that orb here.

It's there, but not there?

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Yay! Interactive Fiction!!! :)
Bah! Escape the room games!!! :(

I just hope that the designers are creative and innovative instead of just having the old "You're in a room and need to escape" theme. I can't really think of any ideas to spice things up at the top of my head, but I just hope that there is more variety then waking up in a mysterious room with a locked door.

I think a bit more then that story would be nice. Original puzzles would be good too. Perhaps a game with more then one person in the room (with a murder mystery plot perhaps)? Just any way to incorporate the escape theme without having the run-of-the-mill escape game.

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:D!!!!!

I am definitely looking forward to this. I've been poking around with Inform since the "what if" teaser!

One quick question: I've got a couple of different ideas that I might want to try to implement. Are multiple submissions allowed?

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@Griff:

9. Participants may submit no more than 3 entries each.

:)

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I've started work on my entry. I've dabbled with Inform before, but never had the motivation to finish a project. Here's hoping this does the trick.

To those wondering how easy it is for newbies I'd say that you should be able to figure it out in time for the deadline. The documentation that comes with is very detailed and filled with examples. Just be prepared to flounder a bit getting it to do exactly what you want, especially when you first start out.

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My theory was wrong!?

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flowerdoggie Author Profile Page November 16, 2009 7:28 PM

Yay, another competition! I'm not complaining, but didn't we just see the winners for CGDC#6?

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Text games? {T_T} *arg*

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... Wow. I am SO excited about this. Count me in for judging!

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Kitsune Zeta Author Profile Page November 16, 2009 9:37 PM

Okay, this has my interest more than some of the prior competitions did. I'll bite.

The one thing I don't particularly care for in a game (particularly in an IF game) is what is commonly known as "Guide Dang It," where the solution to a puzzle/problem is nowhere near intuitive and almost requires a guide for you to come close to getting the solution. This is made worse when we combine points of no return resulting in an unwinnable situation that requires a guide to avoid. If you can avoid that, I'm pretty sure you'll probably get higher marks from the judges than if you make a game of the same caliber of difficulty and obtuse puzzles as "Starship Titanic".

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I give up. Trying the free tool and dabbling with it but it keeps rejecting my commands because: EngRish errors.

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Kitsune Zeta Author Profile Page November 16, 2009 10:13 PM

@rosedragon>>Inform 7 is a bit... different from usual IF creation programs. Inform 6 is closer to a scripting or programming language. for comparison, here's a "room" in Inform 6:

Object Sidewalk "Sidewalk"
with description
"You are standing on the sidewalk in front of a house."

(at this point, I'd like to point out that there is supposed to be indentation in the above snippet.)

and here's the same room in Inform 7:

The Sidewalk is a room. "You are standing on the sidewalk in front of a house."

Inform 7 pretty much (for basic stuff) consists of naming an object, saying what it is and where it is, and then describing it in quotes. It's capable of doing the advanced stuff, but it'll take some effort.

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I never make an iF at all, I don't know how it works. What I need to know is an if conditional and switch variables but the documentation just make me crazy. Usually when making room escape game in flash I just do something like these:

if ( wake up == true) {nextscene: the room}
var screw:Item;
if (take screw == true) {add screw to inventory);
var boxlocked:Boolean;
if (screw hitTest box) {boxlocked = true};
if (boxlocked == true) {say: cant open the box};

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BuenoCabra Author Profile Page November 17, 2009 1:18 AM

All entrants:

As a personal favor to me and to yourself, please play Violet if you haven't. As mentioned before, it's a fantastic example of exactly this theme, and great IF to boot. It also gives great inspiration on keeping it in one room but expanding way beyond that.

I generally don't have the patience or interest to keep with IF games for long, but if you come anywhere close to Violet, you've got something worth our time.

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I remember playing a really neat IF game on here a while back - I've just looked it up and it was called "Fail-Safe".

I'd recommend it to anyone wanting to see how text-based games can really generate an quite intense atmosphere and storyline.

Jay - would something of the length and depth of Fail-Safe be appropriate for this? Like many others posting on here, I've never created a game before (well, not since my school days on the old A3020s) but am tempted to give something a go for this.

Good luck to all btw :-)

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@rosedragon:

Inform 6 is still available, if you prefer an language that's more traditional.

As for your examples:

**if ( wake up == true) {nextscene: the room}

A person can be awake or asleep. A person is usually awake. [you then have to define new commands for waking up and sleeping, new rules for actions for doing things while asleep or interacting with sleeping people, and new print out activities for describing sleeping people.]

Dream Time is a reoccurring scene. Dream Time begins with the player is asleep. Dream Time ends when the player is awake.

[you could then include functions for moving the player around and such. When Dream Time begins: When Dream Time ends: Every turn during Dream Time:]

*var screw:Item;
if (take screw == true) {add screw to inventory);

The Tool Shed is a room.
The screw is in the Tool Shed. [that's it. the player will automatically be able to pick up the screw.]

**var boxlocked:Boolean;
if (screw hitTest box) {boxlocked = true};
if (boxlocked == true) {say: cant open the box};

The tool box is a locked container in the Tool Shed. The screw is in the tool box.

Instead of opening the tool box when the tool box is locked, say "[the tool box] seems to be rusted shut. You can't pry it open."

----
My advice is to go through the tutorials in the documentation, starting at page one. Inform 7 is a fun language to learn, but it's odd enough that you really need to start at square one, even if you are an experienced coder.

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Heh, I was (and still am) in the IF mood a few weeks before this competition. Lucky!

Postscript:
Luckily Inform 7 has built in doors. For those who don't know, here is an example of a locked door and the key that unlocks it.

A silver key is here. "The silver key has the words "Bedroom Key" engraved on it"

A metal door is here. It is a locked door. It is scenery. A silver key unlocks it.

The bold words can be replaced. The rest are necessary.

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This could be VERY interesting. :) Going to try to enter... just got to think of a good idea!

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Sam Garret November 17, 2009 5:05 AM

RoseDragon, You may find Inform 6 more to your liking, as it's structured much more like a conventional language, and works with a compiler. Inform 7 is more rule based and has a unique approach that borrows from natural language (but still requires its own syntax), whereas 6 is more obviously based on objects and has a C-like syntax.

I7 offers you a lot of tools that come with its UI for testing and editing and even learning as you go through the inbuilt documentation. I6, on the other hand can be learnt with a text editor, the compiler, and a copy of the Design Manual 4 (google "inform6 dm4" - I don't think I am supposed to link directly on JIG)

I learned how to program through I6 back in the 90s - it's much more related to common programming methods such as the cases and switches etc that you mention, and is more object oriented (a room is an object, the player is an object, the sword is another object, so you can define relations in code e.g if Player in Room)

On the other hand, once you know what you're doing, I7 becomes very powerful with its rule-based approach, and allows complex behaviours without the associated code complexity. I7 is really an abstraction of I6 (it actually devolves to I6 code in the compilation process). This creates a slight computation overhead, but it's not hugely noticeable except in the most complex cases.

That said - the non-programming sections of the Design Manual 4 have some really worthwhile sections on IF theory that are worth a read for any potential entrants.

As a longstanding Infocom fan, I wrote a (not particularly awesome) game in I6 years ago, and learned enough about programming to discover I could do it if I cared enough about what I was writing (and then learned some more generally useful languages for real world employment). I am actually looking forward to this competition as an excuse to really come to grips with I7, bringing in what I've learned in the last years about writing and programming. GAME ON!

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Eh. I like some IF games, but not others. I might apply to be a judge when I have more time to do the actual judging...

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The Logical Ghost Author Profile Page November 17, 2009 8:36 AM

Bah, IF games. I've never been able to get farther than the first few lines without a walkthrough. Usually because I try all the synonyms to what I want to do without being able to stumble on the one that works. That, to me, gets very frustrating.

I dunno, maybe I'm just a simpleton who likes shiny pretty things to click on. Or maybe it's because I write so much for school and work that writing in the game takes the "casual fun" part out of it.

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SonicLover Author Profile Page November 17, 2009 9:42 AM

Maybe I should enter this. I am a regular at the MS Paint Adventures forum, after all. It'd make a good first project. All I need is an idea.

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Well...it doesn't say "escape the room" is the theme, just "escape". I can see myself becoming obsessed with this! And I've already started learning Inform, so I might be able to actually enter. Awesomeness! I'm very very glad to see a game that can not be won by a platformer!

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@Calvin bedroom key should be in single quotes otherwise inform thinks that is the end of the description and treats bedroom as a separate object.
like this

A silver key is here. "The silver key has the words 'Bedroom Key' engraved on it"

A metal door is here. It is a locked door. It is scenery. A silver key unlocks it.

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I assume that entries must be in english.. :-)

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Where did my comment go? I have the right to complain about this contest and its horrible theme and limits!

Maybe I'll make something for it if I can find out how.

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i thought IF was like what if alternate reality stuff. oh well. next can there be a ww2 theme

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Thanks a lot guys! I will try again ;) .

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I assume you can change the background and text colours? There's a built in function in Inform which lets you do that. I really prefer white text on black, not vice versa, so I want to use this function.

Pe-ads

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I have a really good idea for an IF but its not scape, since i cnt enter it i might aswell tell you, well its starts off saying theres nothingness and you have the power to "create", whic is the first command, so you start by creating stars or planets or whatever you want and then you have to sustain life on a planet and you find somestuff out and about your memories and stuff, and how you became to be a god and stuff

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Benjabby--are you SURE that doesn't fit the theme?

Jay, I may have missed it, but is there a place for designers to ask questions, post problems, etc., or do we just go through you? I am having trouble finding the Inform extensions web site--keep getting an error message. Anyone else somewhat new to the program who is having trouble? Or are there more advanced folks who are willing to help us newbies out with that kind of basic info?

Thanks! I already have three ideas and am working away at the first. I really think I'll be able to enter at least one--although I know it will be simple in comparison to the stuff you'll get from more advanced IF writers. Still, very excited!!

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Power of the post...whatever problems the page was having resolved themselves after I asked about it!

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Emily Short November 18, 2009 2:29 PM

If you are looking for support on programming Inform (either 6 or 7), a great place to try is the intfiction forum:

http://www.intfiction.org/forum/

There are veteran Inform coders there who routinely help novices out.

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I'm a Spanish IF author and I've already authored a related game in Spanish: it has never (to my knowledge) been translated to English.

Is it OK to enter this comp with my own translation to English of this work of mine?

Thanks in advance for your kind reply,

[INCANUS]

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Kitsune Zeta Author Profile Page November 18, 2009 4:46 PM

Incanus: the game has to be specifically made for this contest. See rule #5 above.

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OMG! I love IF! :D

*registers to be a judge*

eyra

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Kitsune:

I understand. Thank you for your prompt and kind reply.

If you'd like to, see the spanish game entry at ifkwiki:

http://www.ifwiki.org/index.php/Afuera

Gratefully yours,

[INCANUS]

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Very exciting competition. I have experience with Inform 6 and a few vague ideas. Perhaps a creative jayisgames reader would like to try a collaboration?

* Must be willing to brainstorm and communicate semi-regularly over IMs and email.

* No technical expertise required. If you'd be comfortable editing existing game code, I can help you learn to do that. Or if you'd rather stay away from those function things, you could simply send your ideas in the form of fake transcripts (you write up what you want the game input and output to look like).

* This is not an offer to just be the coder for somebody else's idea. I expect to work as a team on the design and content of the game.

If interested, contact me at aschepler () gmail.

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Kitsune Zeta Author Profile Page November 19, 2009 12:49 AM

Speaking of IFWiki, this competition's already been added to their list of competitions. We can thank one David Welbourn for adding this to the wiki less than 24 hours after it was announced here.

the IFWiki entry for this competition is at http://www.ifwiki.org/index.php/Casual_Gameplay_Design_Competition_7

While that article isn't maintained by Jay or other site staff, it does appear to have all the details needed for people to make their games, including internal links to both Inform 6 and Inform 7 IFWiki articles (which in turn have external links to the sites you get them from).

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BlackWolfe Coyoten Author Profile Page November 19, 2009 7:59 AM

I....

I was joking about a text-based room escape game.

Joking. I swear.

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ok, im working on my project thing, but i am really crap at inform 7 and i cant figure out how to do this thing im trying to do, so i am asking for someone to help and we work on in in a partnership and stuff, (if thats allowed (is it allowed))

and in the highly unlikly chance we win the money shall be split 60-40, (60% for you 40% for me since i am not very good at inform)

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Actually, ignore my previous comment. I just give up like all my other game attempts

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Jay, please respond, it involves copyright information.
Is it okay if I use this website and its reviews?
Thanks for noticing.
(this idea could not be a final project but please respond).

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jeremyfreese Author Profile Page November 21, 2009 11:29 PM

I've written a one-room pseudo-escape game before that is on this site (Violet). I have pretty decent--if kludgy and rusty--I7 skills and know how to write concisely. I think I'm good at tracking the player's perspective with IF design, but am less good at being imaginative with puzzles. I do not know I6 at all and have no plans to learn in the next two months.

I'm quite intrigued by this contest but probably wouldn't be able to get something competitive done by myself in the allotted time, and so I'm interested in the possibility of a collaborator. I've had some ideas for game premises but nothing I think is especially strong.

I don't have a specific opinion of the division of labor for such a collaboration, but the other person would have to have some clear skills to contribute on either the puzzle design, writing, or programming fronts (or, better still, more than one of these).

If interested, jeremyfreese on gmail.

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Qwertyuiopas Author Profile Page November 22, 2009 1:41 AM

Interesting contest: I discovered it on, I think, the first day, by random chance, because I clicked a link from one of the other CGDCs(I really enjoyed playing some of the earlier results).

Now, with the potential to actually win, since I have no skills in flash or anything else web-based, I shall proceed despite any and all obstructions!

(And I really hope that I can make something worthy enough that it ends up in the top ten...)

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What version of ZCode should we submit in? 5,7?

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Nevermind Jay, the reviews are about other peoples games, involving many copyright permissions.
Also, can "vehicles" be used?

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Does anyone know of a beginner IF game so I can see if I can even figure out how to play one?

[Edit: Check out Adam Cadre's "9:05", a relatively short IF game with multiple endings. I think it's a great game to get your feet wet with IF. -Jay]

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Wow, I wish my only programming experience weren't BASIC from back in middle school! Even with Inform7 you need a programmer's mindset to get anything done. All I can think of are if/then statements which won't get me far in this more complex programming environment.

I read the documentation and played around with Inform for a short while but for a beginner like me it seems to make more sense to plot out things by hand beforehand. This enabled me to figure out what kinds of interactions I needed and subsequently I downloaded a couple of I7 extensions. I might be seeking some advice with I7 when I get down and dirty with my attempts to make it all work.

Thanks for this contest ... even if I don't finish in time to submit, this will definitely be a positive creative experience!

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Ooh, a competition that puts together my favorite two genres: Interactive Fiction, and Escape games. Thank you JIG, for giving me an excuse to learn how to use Inform.

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Qwertyuiopas Author Profile Page November 26, 2009 6:54 PM

I have a good question:

I am thinking of creating a short series of rooms as a prologue, with no real puzzles or anything and a time aspect(being followed, giving the player maybe 10 turns to proceed in each, with the exit always available), but a command to automatically take the next step to the game, and one to skip right there at any moment.

Would that be a good idea, as a way to introduce the setting interactively, and possibly a hiding place for an easter egg or two?

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Well I took Jay's advice and tried the game. As a result I'm very interested to see what you all come up with! Good Luck to all who enter!

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Sorry for the double post but Easter Eggs! Woop! I'm up for that!

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Ooh, now I'm excited. I've always been interested in creating a game but never had the time to learn Flash or anything. This, though... I'm not actually familiar with IF, but I have in fact tried to make a Python-based visual novel with a IF-esque play structure, so it shouldn't be too impossible a jump. And now I finally have a motivation to learn how to do IF, yay!

Timing couldn't be better either! Just in time to keep myself from falling into post-NaNoWriMo slump, and over winter break, too.

Aw, man. I always look forward to CGDC, but now I'm *really* looking forward to this one.

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No one has commented in months! Is everyone okay?

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I'm okay, just been busy, busy, busy working on my entry. Spent all of last night on a particularly tough problem, but I managed to solve it.

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It shouldn't require use of Inform, if you can compile Z-code using other program (such as C to Z-machine compiler, or Z-machine assembler)

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Ah, IF.
Warning to all the game-makers out there. Its akin to writing a game like portal. You've got to predict everything the player will do, every leap of logic they will make, long before they make it. If you don't, it just turns into a mindless, unfun guessing game for the right synonym/wording of the sentence. PLEASE don't let the game become like that, I beg of you.

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Just to say that the bottom of the entry form is cut off for Firefox 3.5 (and above) users. However, it works fine in Internet Explorer.

[Edit: Oops. Thanks for pointing that out. It should be fixed now. -Jay]

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AbstractCloud January 11, 2010 12:05 PM

(I'm commenting anonymously because the password I changed to is invalid (???)).

Jay, is it okay if I can put a perfected version of the game?

[Edit: Sorry, but I really don't know what you're asking. -Jay]

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AbstractCloud January 14, 2010 9:28 PM

Nevermind, I will leave the game untouched (what I meant to say is to make a 2.0 of my game).
By, the way, you did get my game right? Any problems with it? Anything I need to adjust?

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Anonymous January 22, 2010 1:42 AM

A question about copyrighted material: references ARE okay, right? You just don't want us making games in existing universes or using assets of other people?

And I assume that the use of any Inform extensions is alright, since those are CC by default (at least I think)? (I just want to be sure)

If it makes my first question easier, the totality of my references are:

"Access Denied. I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."

"Access Granted. It's full of stars."

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Kitsune Zeta Author Profile Page January 22, 2010 9:56 AM

CC refers to a "Creative Commons license" (unless I'm mistaken), which should be legal to implement unless it's a No-Derivatives CC license - which I doubt is the case for something like Inform extensions.

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Can you postpone this contest for about a month?

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OK, there is now no chance I will have time to enter.

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I just wanted to check quick. My game is at 9 rooms. One is empty (serves as a "finish line", basically), one is used as storage for some items, one is empty (used as a hub).

All in all, there are about four rooms where the majority of the game takes place.

Is my game too big as it is?

And, wasn't there a maximum file size? I thought I remembered seeing one at some point, but I don't see one in the rules now.

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I'm testing my game in Parchment now, I have some questions / problems:

1. With the Basic Menus extension, Enter does not enter submenus. Space does though, so maybe I can hack the extension to print "Space" instead of "Enter". Arrows do not work either, I suppose it's some general problem with handling input from "special" keys on the keyboard.

2. The "bold" text does not appear as bold, but as all-caps, and I could find no documentation on how to set a custom stylesheet. Will the interpreter .js be hosted on JayIsGames and is it possible for you to specify a better .css to go along with it?

-----
These two problems should be common among other authors, I'm interested in how did you guys address them.

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Another question:
Can we use "feelies" in our submissions? I'm thinking of a "cover" image and a fake manual page that appears in the game. Perhaps they can be hosted with the .z file and linked to in the blurbs about the game?

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Z-Code version 8 is limited to 512k, and that's probably the version you want to use.

You can test a game on Parchment here.

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Here's a workaround for the Enter problem with Basic Menus and Parchment. I'm retyping them from another machine, so I can't copy/paste the tabs correctly.

When play begins:
(tab)Choose row 4 in the Table of Deep Menu Status;
(tab)Change the right entry to "SPACE = Select".

(Somehow I couldn't make the table amendment syntax work, so I change it at runtime.)

------------

As for the bold vs. SMALL CAPS .css issue, I do believe it will benefit all games. Typographic features such as these are not interchangable, and the authors would expect to see their effects as they were implemented. Besides, the fix is just changing one line in the .css

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Hey Jay,

I've got a quick question for you. My game takes place on a ship of 6 rooms. Well within the limits of the contest I think(especially since it's pretty straight forward).

I do however have a section where the player takes control of a robot. The player character remains on the ship, but the robot has to wander through a space consisting of 9 rooms. There are no puzzles to overcome in this space and a map is provided to tell the player exactly where to go.

None of my testers have taken any longer than an hour to beat the game.

My question is, will the droid section make my game to large for the contest. I can remove it pretty easily--but I think the game is better with it.

Thanks in advance.

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Awesome Jay...that's basically what I figured, but you know what they say about assumptions ;)

I've got another sort of problem that's driving me a little nuts and making me nervous. I can't seem to get parchment to work. At first I almost had a heart attack thinking my game wasn't working right, but I've tested it with a completely simple one room (literally just an empty room) and that had the same problem.

I upload the file to my host and then I put the link into the box on the parchment website here (http://parchment.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/zcode.html). It gives me a link that's supposed to lead to the game but that link just takes me to a page where it loads for a second and then gives me a blank screen.

I suspect it has something to do with the server I'm storing the files on, but was just wondering if anyone has any idea what else I could do.

I have of course tested the game using other interpreters with no problem, but it'd be nice to know it gets along with parchment as well.

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Used Inform. Am compiling to Z-code version 8 (although I tried my little one room test game in Z5 also with no luck). My game uses the extension Questions by Michael Callaghan, but again my one room test game used no extensions.

Should I just send in my game/entry form? I'm not quite done editing it yet (there are some little fixes I have planned), but I can just send the updated version in this weekend when I finish it right?

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I should add that I used Inform 7.

P.S. Thanks so much for answering my questions so quickly.

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Okay, I've sent in my entry form and emailed the game/walkthrough. I'm so excited I could do a thousand jumping jacks...you know, if I was crazy or something. Of course with the excitement comes the agonizing trepidation and the sudden crippling certainty that I've just turned in a file of pure gibberish.

Lol, such is the stuff life is made of.

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Huzah! Thanks Jay. You've earned yourself a virtual cookie of your choice.

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I've finally finished my game, and I'm filling in the sign up form now. I'm just wondering, what do you need our mailing address for?

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Also, since I'm submitting my game under a pen name, does that mean I should put my actual name in the name field, and my pen name in the byline field?

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Hi, I'm Dannii the current development of Parchment.

I will have a look into the menus bug, and hopefully will fix it in time for the comp.

As to small caps/bold: the Z-Machine spec says interpreters are free to display "bold" text in other ways. I personally do prefer small caps, and think it works better with the more literary idea of interactive fiction (in books bold text is actually quite rare! Small caps are often used more.) However the fonts that a browser has often do not have good small caps. If you want to change it Jay, go ahead.

Mordred, you're actually the first person I've seen who has ever actually complained about the small caps. :)

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AbstractCloud January 31, 2010 6:44 PM

The competition is coming close now. Hope everyone had time to make there games, may the best game win. Cheers to the volutary judges too.

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Anonymous February 1, 2010 7:08 PM

That sounds like a lot of entries, but I don't know how many are normal for these. I'm really excited to check out what everyone was able to come up with.

Does the public get to play the games during judging, or is it only after judging is over?

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C. Everett Author Profile Page February 1, 2010 10:39 PM

Out of curiosity, what do you need to do exactly to get the entries "ready for publishing"?

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After entering this competition, I just want to say a little piece about Inform 7. It is a very unusual language. While it seemed to provide ways to do a lot of things, I often felt like every change I made to it was like a hack, doing things that weren't intended to be done but nevertheless were required. For instance, just because it seemed the easiest way to do a thing, I created a room called "Storage," put a few items in it, and when the player does a certain thing or other I simply put that item in the room or inventory. There is probably a much easier way to do it, but there you go.

At the same time, it would also require extremely specific phrasing at times. One thing I would say far too often would be "Instead of looking at ... " but this was unrecognizable. Instead, it requires "Instead of examining ... " This isn't necessarily a problem, but sometimes allowing you to write in sentences makes it far to easy to just do that. I almost wonder if authors of these games have one person who writes the descriptions, actions and other literary bits, while another programs.

I also feel like I flubbed with the deadline and released a sub-par game in a few ways, but that's neither here nor there. Good luck everyone! I can't wait to play!

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To new Interactive Fiction authors:

One of the things that's hard to understand when first coming into "IF" development is that it has its own set of requirements that are not analagous to any other type of programming work you may do. If you're a programmer, Interactive Fiction can be a challenge at first.

In order to really understand the core bits of IF, you need to play it, and then you probably need to implement a few small games in one of the lower level languages, like Inform 6, Hugo, or TADS 3.

Inform 7 might be better for non-programmers at first because they're not hampered by pre-existing ideas of how to write code.

However, once you've learned the basics of setting, dialogue, puzzle development, non-player character development, scenery, object handling, and more; then you might understand Inform 7 a bit better.

Inform 7 is a tricky tool, but it excels at some aspects of IF, namely setting and text handling. I'm not convinced it does everything well, but that's an entire blog entry.

Cheers and don't give up!

David C.
www.textfyre.com

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@Coldfrog: Remember that you can fix bugs and upload new versions throughout the judging period.

I'm a first-time Inform developer too, and spent a lot of time learning the language. I also accidentally used the wrong verb several times. The "actions" debug command really helped. I understand why they don't allow synonyms in the code--for "examine" it's straightforward, but "clean" maps to "rubbing", which isn't always the same thing. The index can be helpful in sorting this out.

I also used an offstage room and I don't think that's a crime. If you're only getting rid of objects, you can "remove the _____ from play".

Can't wait to play all the entries!

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Well, as a new IF author, I didn't have time to learn I7 in time to get my entry finished, but I am so glad that there were some newcomers to the genre who DID. My hope is that those newcomers found some interesting ways to deal with the things I normally hate about IF--mostly, the fact that if you don't play it regularly, you have to guess at the non-intuitive, built-in jargon. I would love to play (and to create) IF games that let normal, non-players come in and interact as they would if they were having a conversation with the author. That would be AWESOME!!

I'm still going to finish this game I started, even if it is just to learn the program. Next time, I'll be ready!

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Anonymous February 2, 2010 7:39 PM

Can we openly review these yet, or should we wait until judging's over?

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