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I'm going to write and sell a full-length text adventure for iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch). The game framework will be open source.
I created a full-length puzzle text adventure. (Available for Mac, Windows, Linux, and iOS.)
I created a full-length puzzle text adventure. (Available for Mac, Windows, Linux, and iOS.)
713 backers pledged $31,337 to help bring this project to life.

The frequently asked question: PC port?

(Asked a couple of times so far, anyhow.)

From a comment on the front page:

"Tell me if I have this straight. You will have the ability to make this game run on any platform, and in fact will be doing so, but (except for this temporary limited edition) choosing not to make it available. And choosing to only make it available on a very closed platform? Why?"
Fair question. I've also seen people ask "$25 for an adventure game? Huh?" Which is the same question, from the other end.

I chose the iOS platform because (a) I know how to code for it; (b) Apple handles payment, distribution, and upgrade; (c) it's a new market that isn't as fusticated as the PC world; (d) it's associated in the public mind with ebooks; (e) text games and mobile go together like bacon and caramel. I can make a clean, polished, professional-quality iPhone app to wrap around my game.

Whereas on Windows... sure, I know how to create a game that runs in a Windows interpreter application. All my IF games since 1995 can do that. But that's not the same as creating a polished app. I'd have to learn how, or find someone to work with to do it. I would have to partner with somebody to handle payments. I would have to figure out the marketing and distribution channels of the PC world.

Maybe I can figure out those things. I would like to tackle them. But they are a separate problem to tackle. Writing a game and building an iOS app, in parallel, is as much as I can commit to for one year. I have to maintain focus or I will explode.

So, you ask, what the heck is this "Limited Edition" doing on my page?

Well, what can I release without exploding? Well, I could mail you a CD containing the portable game file, a freeware Windows interpreter, a freeware Mac interpreter, and pointers to some more interpreters for Linux and so on.

That would be very easy to produce. But as a product in the PC gaming market, it would be a total failure. (Or I would have done it ten years ago!) No marketing, no installer, no polish. Who would buy that? Answer: people who are already committed IF fans; people who want a Zarf game specifically. I don't have to market to them; they're already at my Kickstarter page. They already know how to set up an IF interpreter.

Presto, a terrible product idea turns into a terrific reward for Kickstarter contributors. The Limited Edition is for the people who will appreciate it, who want to donate $25 to the cause -- however many or few they may be. I hope for "many"... but it's not what I'm selling. My product is a $5 iPhone game.

Once the iOS app is out, then I'll decide what comes next. I've already said I will look into Android and other mobile ports. I want to release my game -- successfully -- on Mac, Windows, and everything else under the sun. But I can't make promises about plans that I have not yet made.

(The "all mobile" clause on my rewards list is a special case. Everybody who donates $3 or more gets the iPhone game. But some of those people don't have iPhones. I want to do what I can for them, even the ones who aren't at the $25 level. An Android (or other mobile) port would be equivalent value. I can't promise that will happen, but I can promise that if there is an Android port, they'll get it. Best I can do right now.)

Make sense?


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    1. Andrew Plotkin Creator on November 3, 2010

      The paypal-for-download option is a slightly different case. I could do it. However, I do like keeping the $25 reward as a *special* reward -- something that is only available for a limited time. (At least, limited for the forseeable future, meaning the coming year.)

      I don't want to come off as mercenary, but this is a fund-raiser, and the point is to convince people to fund me. A limited edition is attractive; deadlines motivate people.

    2. Andrew Plotkin Creator on November 2, 2010

      "You underestimate the power of viral marketing and Steam."

      Perhaps I do. But even a Steam-distributed app would have to be a *little* bit packaged up over the plain-paper interpreter. (Minecraft isn't pretty, but it is a simple download-and-run experience.)

      In any case, "viral" (or just word-of-mouth) marketing applies equally to the iOS world, and I still think that mobile and ebook-like devices are a better fit than a desktop gaming platform. For the first run, that is. If that's a hit, then the marketing question solves itself.

      "How do you feel about Textfyre?"

      I know Dave Cornelson; we hang out online. (You can see I supported *his* Kickstarter project, which unfortunately did not do nearly as well as this one.)

      Textfyre's game engine uses some parts of the Glulx virtual machine. It does some things differently, though. If I wind up working with Dave on a future port (not impossible for Kindle or Windows-based platforms, which I have no interest in doing myself) then it won't be a big barrier to adapt my game to his system. Or adapt his system to my game. It can be made to work if we want to make it work, anyhow.

      "...this level is by far your largest group of kickstarters, which might suggest something."

      Yes, it suggests that it would be a very popular product among the IF fans and Zarf-game fans that are willing to pay a lot of money to support me. :) But most of those people will be *in* already, right? If I can't use this level of public interest to get the message out to all committed IF fans *this month*, I've got bigger problem than a price level.

    3. Missing avatar

      ericjs on November 2, 2010

      Thanks for the response, and fair enough. Though the limited edition doesn't do any good for committed IF fans who come along after the kickstart. (I'd point out, also that this level is by far your largest group of kickstarters, which might suggest something.) I would suggest setting up a simple PayPal for download somewhere. But I take your point about having limited time to put into these things.

    4. Gregory Avery-Weir on November 2, 2010

      How do you feel about Textfyre? I haven't been following whether there are any politics surrounding them, but they seem to have a handle on attractive terps. I dunno if they have a Glulx solution at the moment, but I'm sure you could work together to build something if you're so inclined.

      I understand that such a thing would need to wait, of course. You are only one man.

    5. Mark Vincent N. Cocjin on November 2, 2010

      " But as a product in the PC gaming market, it would be a total failure. (Or I would have done it ten years ago!) No marketing, no installer, no polish. Who would buy that? "

      You underestimate the power of viral marketing and Steam. Look up Minecraft. You should have at first tried to approach Steam since what you are proposing to revive is such a challenging format for people who think games are all about graphics. Your project is a true computer game in its simplest most basic form.