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Stewart C Baker

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A member registered Oct 12, 2018 · View creator page →

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This was fun. The ending was a bit predictable, but I don’t know if that’s necessarily a problem. I liked the way the scenario for each crew member changes slightly depending on when you visit them.

Nicely done in under 4 hours!

Nice!

I have something started, but as dictated by ancient prophecy what was supposed to be a game for Le Petit Mort is definitely going to take me more than 4 hours.

The rest of my day is pretty busy, too, so I probably won’t be a game in this year.

Definitely looking forward to seeing everyone else’s entries, though. I always have a blast at Ectocomp.

After a brief panicked moment this morning when I thought it was already January 9th and I’d forgotten to do all the things, I’m happy to announce our judges’ choice winner on time and everything!

Last year and this year both it was difficult to pick our top choice. We found something to like in all the entries, but when the dust settled one game had edged ahead of our other selections by quite a bit.

That game, and our judges’ choice winner, is “Growing Pains” by George Lockett.

Congratulations, George! I’ve sent you an email so we can collect all the relevant information and get your game ready for publication in our February issue. (If you, uh, don’t see an email, you can contact me at stewart.c.baker@gmail.com!)

Thanks to the sub-Q staff for reading and rating entries, and leaving comments for me to pass on, and once again to all of you who entered. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to review all the unique takes on our themes both this year and last.

Over the next week or so, I’ll try to make time to post some of our judges’ constructive commentary on your work, so keep an eye out for that. :)

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Congratulations to A.M. LeBlanc’s “The Coffin Maker,” which took the first place spot in our popular vote!

Congratulations as well to all of you, for making our second game jam a success. There were a lot of games, ranging in tone from meditative pieces to tense thrillers, and all of them were fantastic–especially given how hard it is to write a finished piece of anything in 1000 words.

Give yourselves a pat on the back!

We are still poring over the games for the judges’ choice results, which will be announced next Tuesday, January 7th. I also plan to stop by on each game page and leave some feedback from our judges, so keep an eye out for that.

After that, we’ll publish both winning games alongside those written by our invited authors Ken Liu and Monica Valentinelli in our February issue.

Thank you all again for participating, and wishing you all the best in 2020!

Any game is eligible so long as it was “published and available to the public” during 2019.

That is the site for the Nebula awards, but I think you’re misunderstanding. What you are registering for on that site is for the annual Nebula conference, essentially a 3-day writing conference attended mostly by SFWA members. You don’t have to attend the conference for your game to be eligible.

As I said in my initial post, the Nebulas work a little differently from other game awards. You don’t have to apply or register in order for your game to be eligible. This means there is no way to “submit” or “nominate” your own game.

However, because this is only the second year that game writing has been a category, and not many SFWA members keep tabs on new game releases, I have been contacting game writers and publishers and asking them for information about their game, as well as electronic review copies or download keys. I am posting this information to our secured member forum, which only SFWA members can access.

If you would like me to share information about your game, or if you would like to provide keys, you can email me or the Nebula Award Commissioner with the relevant information and one of us will post it to the forum.

Hi folks!

Still 2 days left to get those votes in. I know it’s a busy time of year, but your fellow authors will welcome your feedback. :)

We have been digging into the games for the judges’ choice award, and will be announcing that probably around January 7th.

Thanks!

You can email me the game description and any keys you’d like to provide to stewart.c.baker@gmail.com, or the Nebula Awards Commissioner, Jim Hosek, at nac@sfwa.org

From there, one of us will post it to the secure forum.

Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!

Thanks. :)

Hello!

Since the Nebulas are voted on by everybody in SFWA, and Steam keys can only be used once, the easiest way to provide Steam keys is probably to provide contact information for SFWA members who are interested in playing the game. That way, you only need to create a Steam key for each member who contacts you, rather than a bunch at once.

Or, if you prefer, you could provide a set number and only the first few people to use them get to try the game.

It’s up to you. :)

No worries! Also, in case I wasn’t being clear, this post is intended for game designers and authors, rather than readers and players. :)

Hello!

The award is only for completed games, unfortunately.

On the other hand, it’s an annual award, so I hope you’ll keep it in mind when Vincent is ready for final release. It looks pretty fantastic!

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Hello itch.io community!

I’m reaching out as assistant to the commissioner of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Association (SFWA) Nebula Awards to ask if any of you would be interested in providing a list of your games released in 2019, and/or electronic review copies of the same.

The Nebulas are a bit different than other industry awards, because they aren’t selected by a jury. Instead, current SFWA members–roughly 1,900 professional authors and game writers–are the ones who identify work they think is notable and vote on the final ballot.

Members nominate fiction and games between November 15 and February 15, and the works with the highest number of nominations make it into the final ballot, which is sent to all SFWA members in March. One winner is selected in each category based on member votes, and winners are announced at the annual Nebula ceremony in April.

Starting with last year’s awards, SFWA has added a game writing category to the Nebulas, and if you’re a game designer or author yourself I would love to be able to share any work you released in 2019 with SFWA members.

Any type of game writing is eligible, so long as it:

  1. Is “an interactive or playable story-driven work which conveys narrative, character, or story background”
  2. Has at least one credited author
  3. Was broadly released for the first time in 2019 (so if your work was only on a limited release this year, it isn’t yet eligible, but if you had a limited release of a game in 2018 or earlier and it officially released in 2019, it is eligible)
  4. Is a finished work, and not a demo, beta release, or other kind of early release

New editions of games are also eligible, so long as they represent “substantive changes” from earlier editions.

If you would like to provide an electronic review copy or purchase code (or just a description) of something you released in 2019, I can post it to SFWA’s secure forums, which are restricted to registered SFWA members.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at stewart.c.baker@gmail.com, or the Nebula Awards Commissioner, Jim Hosek, at nac@sfwa.org

Of course, you can also just respond to this thread!

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Stewart C Baker

Hi folks,

We ended up with thirty entries–woo!

Some of you have already started voting, so thanks for that. If you haven’t, and you’re not sure how to get started, head on over to the “submissions” page and click a game to read and rate it. Itch.io also has a handy “games in need of ratings” tool, which you can use to spread the voting love. The voting period ends January 1st, 2020, at 23:59 PST.

In addition to voting, it’s great if you can leave a comment to let the author know what you thought of their game. But remember that they, like you!, poured a lot of work into their entry–please be constructive if you have any critiques to share. You can leave comments on either the game page or the rating page.

On the sub-Q side of things, our editorial staff is digging in. We’ll announce the winner of the judges’ choice award hopefully around the same time as the voting period ends, or as soon as we can after. I’ll post here again when the voting period ends with the winners and what’s coming next.

Thank you all for taking part in our second annual jam!

Hi Katherine,

The edit lock is on, so once the submission period ends there won’t be an option to update games until voting is over.

Looking forward to seeing your entry!

Hi Nils,

Credits and about text are fine, sure. Likewise a help list of verbs if you’re writing parser fiction.

Hi all,

Just a reminder that there are only ten days left in the jam’s submission period.

Please do let me know if there are any questions or concerns. :)

Stewart

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Tricky question!

I think in this context it’s fine not to count the cover page / title screen.

Sorry, I just saw this question!

I think we are using the term in a way that’s non-standard in the IF scene. We technically accept “sequential art” (i.e. comics) that are interactive for the magazine (nobody has ever submitted one), and I think we mean “panel” to be one section of the story–more or less a page.

Honestly it is kind of a confusing way of doing things and I think going forward we’ll probably talk about some other way to count that kind of thing.

For the purposes of this jam, I wouldn’t worry about “panels” unless your submission is primarily graphical in nature, like a comic with illustrations and words. In that case, each illustration that makes up a “page” of the game would count as a panel.

If anyone is working on a visual novel type format–like something in Ren’Py, for instance, I guess each background scene would count as a panel? But again, re-use of a background scene is fine.

Again, we’re not really interested in policing for edge cases, but just want to nudge people in the direction of minimalism for this jam rather than developing elaborate, lengthy games.

Last year we did get one submission that was interactive sequential art, if you want to get a sense for how someone else interpreted that restriction: https://odris-den.itch.io/fill-the-void

You’re welcome to interpret the topic as broadly as you like!

Certainly it could be an environmentalist approach–but it also could be someone put into a new environment. Or something happening in an IDE. Or … etcetera. :)

Here are the definitions of “environment” from Wiktionary, if that’s at all helpful:

  1. The surroundings of, and influences on, a particular item of interest.
  2. The natural world or ecosystem.
  3. All the elements that affect a system or its inputs and outputs.
  4. A particular political or social setting, arena or condition.
  5. (computing) The software and/or hardware existing on any particular computer system.
  6. (programming) The environment of a function at a point during the execution of a program is the set of identifiers in the function’s scope and their bindings at that point.
  7. (computing) The set of variables and their values in a namespace that an operating system associates with a process.

Although for the computing definitions I’d prefer it if the environment is something in the foreground–and not in your actual coding–I’m not intending to police for theme unless something’s way off (and even then I’ll probably just ask how it’s related).

Hope that helps!

Nice! And yeah, definitely will make that a bit more forgiving… :)

Thanks!

I would have liked a few more choices, and felt the endings were too abrupt to leave me satisfied. Given the time constraints, I completely understand why, of course!

Thanks!

I definitely need to make the puzzle a bit more forgiving–by the time I reached it I was close to my deadline and just submitted as it was. :)

Hello!

I think it makes sense to apply the same rules we apply to wordcount: unique panels across all playthroughs.

So reusing the exact same panel would only count as one panel, regardless of how many times it appears. (But, on the other hand, if there’s a panel that only appears if one specific set of variables is met, that still counts as a panel!)

Does that make sense?

This is a good question, and definitely one we’re not strangers to!

I would say each unique word counts once. So in the first example, it would be 6 words, and 19 in the second.

We count words accross all possible play throughs, so it doesn’t matter if the text changes in the course of the game.

Basically, if you take all redundant words and all the code out, what you’re left with is the word count.

That said, we’re totally not interested in policing it so long as people make a good faith effort! The same goes for the magazine, if any of you want to submit to us the next time we’re open. :)

If a scene appears multiple times, you only need to count its words once, so that intro scene would only count once.

What we count is unique words in unique passages, not ones that are the same in all playthroughs. :)

If you’re writing in twine, you can use the proofing function to get a relatively close count.

Also note that code doesn’t count. Only words that appear before the viewer.

I know it’s kind of a weird way of doing things… The main reason we use it is to make sure we pay what the SFWA considers pro fiction rates for games published in our magazine. (9 cents per word). In this case, it just helps define the challenge!

So I’ve been wondering this since the jam opened for business, and now that I’ve finished rating everything thought I would reveal my ignorance:

Is the cover image (and teaser text) a reference to a particular game, or is it just a cool, generally-creepy thing? :)

Good luck! :D

Two submissions would be okay, but no more than that please.

I’ll add that to the rules. Thanks! :)

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Hello!

Always nice to see people coming over from Choice of Games. :)

For the purposes of the jam, whatever you submit should tell a complete story. If you can do that with a demo out of a larger piece, that’s fine! But generally speaking you shouldn’t submit the equivalent of “chapter 1” of a longer game, where the demo is clearly just the beginning of a bigger story.

1000 words is hard, for sure, especially if you have multiple different playthroughs (which you likely will, with ChoiceScript). Heck, it’s hard enough in non-interactive fiction.

But meeting the challenge of such a very small number of words is part of what makes the entries so interesting and innovative.

Just to clarify what the “1000 words” includes, any code or other assets that the reader never sees don’t count towards it. But every word of actual content–even if it only shows up in one particular branch–does count.

One trick that works for me when I write fiction of fewer than 1000 words is to get what’s essential to the story down first and fit anything else in after. I also tend to set myself limits before I start writing a particular scene.

If I were to apply the same to a piece of IF, I might end up with a rough outline like this:

First scene: A dark and stormy night. The narrator looks out a window and sees a dark shape on the cobblestones (50 words)

  • choice 1 (5-7 words)
  • choice 2 (5-7 words)
  • choice 3 (5-7 words)

Second scene: …

And so on. Although it probably adds an extra step onto most people’s narrative design workflow, it will make hitting the wordcount a little easier.

I should probably set the start time to not be midnight local time next year, huh?

Sorry for the delay!

The theme this year is environment

The subject matter of this game is very much not for me, so I appreciated the content warnings! (Although I think a content warning of “mental illness” stigmatizes the mentally ill unjustly, in this particular case. You might consider replacing it with “gun violence.”)

I did notice a few typos as well.

One bug: I ended up on a blank passage by clicking [someone] > [Go to them] and couldn’t proceed.

Otherwise, I didn’t run into any problems playing through this (although I don’t think I would have played through all the way if I weren’t rating it, due to my own strong aversion to this kind of horror).

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This was good! Great set-up, compelling writing and mood, and I enjoyed the execution. Reminds me of China Mieville in all the right ways.

A couple typos here and there (e.g. irreporable -> irreparable; “meddling things” -> “meddling with things”) but nothing egregious. Although I think it would benefit from a thorough proofread once the jam’s over. :)

"instead of four hours, it ended up taking me four days to wrap it all up"

Ha. Story of my Ectocomp life. :)

I’ve read enough SF that I guessed where this was going very early on, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment. I especially like how, as the game proceeds, you can’t make your own choices any more, and the text formatting that leads up to that.

Nicely done!

This was great, especially for a first project.

Wonderful atmosphere and descriptions, and I like the engagement required to take photographs in-game. Nice!

I like the setting and scenario in this, and the story definitely gets creepier the further you go.

If you revise after the jam ends, you might consider breaking up the paragraphs a bit. Personally, I found it difficult to stay engaged when faced with a single wall of text from the top of the page to the bottom. A few more choices would also break up the story a bit and make it feel more interactive–but that might just be personal preference.

Overall, a good spooky game. :)

I don’t think any of that would be a problem. :)

Thanks for checking in!