Reflections on Entering IF Art Show 2000



by Peter Polkinghorne <peter@bunel.ac.uk>

I had for a while wanted to write some IF, but found it hard to get started. The Art Show seemed the ideal opportunity to try writing IF without trying to do anything too big. My initial idea for the Summer 1999 show turned in a story and was not much good, so was abandonned.

This year I decided to have another attempt and felt I had a good starting point - "a chat with an elderly woman in a nursing home" - something I had experience of. At that stage no one had entered a portrait into the show so I had nothing much to compare against, other than Game NPCs.

I downloaded all the past entries and printed out the Inform DM and set to work. Because I used RCS for code revision control, I can reveal: Started 10th Feb 2000. Finished 21st Mar 2000. In 13 sessions (of between 1 & 2 hours as a time). Obviously there was a certain amount of background thinking and reading. The Inform code was 563 lines of code, comments & white space.

I really enjoyed the process of coding and thinking about the entry. Indeed I became quite enthusiastic and hopeful. But as can be seen I did not spend that much time on it because of other pressures. The two things I particularly regret are not having any beta testers and not having my NPC (Gladys) proactively starting conversations and asking questions which I had initially planned on.

I did find it mildly suspenseful waiting for the results. I was surprised at the number of portrait entries - may be a few others had the same idea that I had - this has not been done yet! I found reviews useful even when negative. I have started playing the other entries and hope to review them. It is clear already that some of the other entries have had a lot more work and thought put into them than mine did.

So the show guarantees a deadline for your work and a framework - "form is liberating" - and gives you some immediate feedback and comparison. Overall I enjoyed the show and thanks to Marnie/Doeadeer for organising it. So my message is do enter the next show and please run another show.



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