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Hugo Mini-Comp....?
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Merk



Joined: 22 Nov 2004
Posts: 192
Location: Wichita, KS

PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 8:04 pm    Post subject: Hugo Mini-Comp....? Reply with quote

So, this is a continuation of the budding discussion started in another thread. I think it would be a great idea to have a Hugo mini-comp! I'd be willing to host and run it, but then again, I'm just as anxious to participate as an entrant!

Has anybody else given this any thought? Are there enough Hugo authors to even make it do-able? Is anybody already working on arranging a mini-comp? Should it work from a theme (i.e., short games about a certain situation, place, person, concept, etc), or just a general guideline (i.e., a filesize limit, a time limit, a requirement for or against multimedia, etc)?

Anybody want to brainstorm about it??? :)
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Roody_Yogurt



Joined: 29 Apr 2002
Posts: 1993
Location: Milwaukee

PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 11:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Robb and I were talking about this on IM the other night. The hypothetical prize that appealed to me was having several of us donate money and have the money go towards airfare to Las Vegas for some to-be-determined weekend joltcountry.com retreat sometime this summer.

So, if we were to do that, we'd have to make this some sort of spring comp and maybe not have the goals be too lofty so that most people can't meet it. At the same time, that prize would be pretty kickass and might make a couple months of frenzied coding well worth it.

I'd be very interested in what other ideas people have.
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Debaser



Joined: 25 Jun 2002
Posts: 878
Location: Aurora, IL

PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2005 12:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Roody_Yogurt wrote:
Robb and I were talking about this on IM the other night. The hypothetical prize that appealed to me was having several of us donate money and have the money go towards airfare to Las Vegas for some to-be-determined weekend joltcountry.com retreat sometime this summer.


While this idea appeals to my desire to get a Mulligan for missing the CGExperience, I'm not entirely certain how much outside interest it would generate, as prizes go. Theoretically, I'd think we'd want to attract more than those who already hang out here, live in the states, and are free whatever particular weekend. Then again, maybe those people don't exist in the Hugodum; I dunno.

If we got some genuine interest in the comp, it might be fun to hold some sort of live quasi-convention for the presentation of awards. Not that I'd expect to be filling a banquet hall or anything in any event, but if we RSVPed a decent number of participants plus assorted hangers on who were interested in the hobby and wanted an excuse to hit Vegas for a few days, it might be worthwhile.

As far as rules for the comp go, I think maybe just a room/npc limit is the best way to go. I always thought the main comp's "two hour limit" was a bit fuzzy tended to result in entries that are all the wrong length because most people really haven't the faintest clue how long it's going to take someone else to play their game (at least not until beta, by which time they're already pretty firmly committed to a mostly finished product). A filesize limit might work if we don't want multimedia (which I could go either way on). A thematic constraint is kind of a double-edged sword. I like the idea of giving people more to work with than "produce whatever in Hugo", BUT: There's obviously a smaller pool of possible participants here than your average minicomp; so the idea of turning even one potential entrant off because he doesn't want to write about dinosaurs might be a bad idea.

Maybe some sort of very broad thematic unifier might work. Like maybe the participants are given an opening line that can be interpreted several different ways and they can go from there, just to present something off the top of my head.
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Roody_Yogurt



Joined: 29 Apr 2002
Posts: 1993
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2005 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The reason I thought having a prize that mainly appealed to JCers wasn't a bad idea was that we have at least a handful Hugo authors here alone, and if having such a target-specific prize translates into a handful of JC-written Hugo games, that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.

But if more people feel it'd be better to make it more general and think there's a good chance that others will also rise up the challenge, I'd be fine with that, too.
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Ice Cream Jonsey



Joined: 27 Apr 2002
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2005 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a gambling problem and I should sort of engage in those activities that don't require me ponying up money and league fees. My first real test will be the Super Bowl where I have a tendency to be the guy who buys all the extra squares. I don't want to be that guy this year.

I haven't done any deep thought about this, but something like a one-hour guideline for this Hugo mini-comp might be ideal. We could throw out a date when there aren't any games and try to all get our games in by then and maybe setup a beta test scenario where those of us with time can look over each other's games.

I like how the IF Arcade was announced. The games just showed up one day. There was no hype and while I don't remember if it was open to the public or not, there was a host of nice little games there.

When is a really dead time for IF? The middle of summer?
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Hugella



Joined: 28 Jun 2004
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2005 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tend to dislike time limits, mostly for the reasons already given: how does one estimate such a thing, etc. etc.

What about something that appeals to beginners, or would be useful in adding to beginner-level documentation? For example, everybody does a more complete implementation of either 'The Vault of Hugo' or 'The Cloak of Darkness'. That way, you have a common starting point (and part of the work's already done for you), and it'd be neat/informative to see different coding styles/techniques.

Either one of these could then be used to produce a sort of mini IBG, except for Hugo (HBG). Make useful commenting of source a judgeable point in the comp.

My 2 zorkmids.
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bruce



Joined: 04 Jun 2002
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2005 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, let's not go to Vegas in the middle of the summer again until Robb has a car with A/C, eh?

Bruce
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bruce



Joined: 04 Jun 2002
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2005 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But on the other hand, another JC Vega$-fest would utterly kick ass. I'm in. And I'll toss money into the prize pool.

Bruce
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Ice Cream Jonsey



Joined: 27 Apr 2002
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2005 8:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bruce wrote:
Hey, let's not go to Vegas in the middle of the summer again until Robb has a car with A/C, eh?

Bruce


Yeah, I got it fixed the next week. Sorry about that.
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Merk



Joined: 22 Nov 2004
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Location: Wichita, KS

PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2005 9:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got my fill of Las Vegas last spring, when my wife and I took a vacation there (I had never been). I doubt I'd be able to go anywhere, since I'm saving my vacation time (and my money) for the fall arrival of a little Merk. :)

I still like the idea of a mini-comp, though. I know that play-time guidelines are subjective, but it seems to work well most of the time. :) I was thinking of something that might end up with some varied, original, fairly short games -- kind of like the C32 competition, but not necessarily with a file size limit. I'm not sure how fun it would be to revise the Cloak of Darkness...? It might be interesting to take it and build a real game and story around it. Dunno. :)

Basically, anything to promote Hugo would be a good idea. I mean, the Adrift folks are having comps and posting newsletters and they seem very active. Inform and Tads have large followings, and it would just be cool to say "Hey, look at all these great Hugo games!" A bunch of 1-hour Hugo games would be a great way to get more stuff out there -- get Hugo some publicity in the community.

It would be cool to do it, no hype, then release it unexpectedly (as suggested). But I think it *needs* some hype -- a website, competition news, announcements, a call for entries, a call for judges, etc. I think it would be cool to be more active in the IF community, because right now, there is almost no Hugo discussion on R.A.I-F. The only discussion you really see is to the effect that Hugo isn't very widely used because it's not very widely used. Something like this might not change that, but it would at least put it in people's faces. :)
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Debaser



Joined: 25 Jun 2002
Posts: 878
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2005 12:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think revising tutorials might be a bit lacking in the sexy, both from a participants persepctive and an audience's perspective, unless people just came up with a bunch of cool twists. Still, I do like the idea of releasing source alongside the entries. Are people in the broader community violently opposed to sharing source? If not, I think we should at least treat source like the main comp does walkthroughs (i.e., highly encouraged but not technically required anymore). On the other hand, I'm still hacking together largely uncommented code in wordpad, so maybe I'm not the one to advance this cause.

Also on the "are people violently opposed" front, is the author/judge division sacrosanct? Obviously people shouldn't be rating their own work, but I think allowing people to vote on all the other entrants:

A. Plays into the relatively small group we have/will likely have. Both because it allows people to fill two neccessary roles and because I think the potential for rampant abuse is less here than in the main comp with it's fifty entries a year, over half of which are released by newcomers, the anonymous, and anonymous newcomers.

B. Just makes things smell a bit more like community. Like when we have a winner we can say "hey, IF people, we put our heads together and we all agree we're putting our best foot forward with this piece". I dunno.
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Cryptonomic



Joined: 05 May 2004
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Location: Chicago, IL

PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2005 5:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hugella wrote:
What about something that appeals to beginners, or would be useful in adding to beginner-level documentation? For example, everybody does a more complete implementation of either 'The Vault of Hugo' or 'The Cloak of Darkness'. That way, you have a common starting point (and part of the work's already done for you), and it'd be neat/informative to see different coding styles/techniques.

Not a bad idea. Sort of like Scavenger Hunt in that sense. The games in the comp could then be used as the basis for examining source code that is well-commented.

Adding to the ideas, I was thinking of how sometimes in old composition classes, we would be given a set of book titles and we had to pick one to read. Often many of us had nothing to go on but the title. Maybe something like that? Some "titles" for games are thrown out there; people pick a title and have to craft a game from that. Or multiple people can pick one title and see what different concept of game results from the title. (Sort of like how they show a picture of some scene to a kid in school and say: "What do you think is the backstory of this picture?" The child is then encouraged to sort of free-thought a story on the spot.)

Or another idea might be picking a concept about the Hugo language (like character scripting) and then having people craft games that specifically use that feature of the language. Part of the judging is perhaps on how complex the scripting is done as part of the game. The two-pronged effect here is to (1) have a competition that encourages Hugo development and (2) that showcases what kinds of things can be done with the language. [The other benefit of this is that such things can showcase weaknesses in the language that either will suggest possible future changes or library extensions that could be written to supplement the language itself. This is actually something that I think comp games might be good at showcasing, given their visibility, and I say that whether the language is Inform, TADS, Hugo or whatever.]

I do think "theme" ideas, as has been brought up, can be helpful as well. A good example might be something like "Time Travel Games". These can be tricky to implement well in something like Interactive Fiction (or that is my belief, anyway) and so that might be the theme. Who can, for example, craft a time travel game that has some neat little gimmicks but that also has an engaging story.

Again, just some thoughts.

- Jeff
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Lysander



Joined: 08 Jul 2003
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2005 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would totally go down to Vega$$ to throw down with you guys if the middle of summer wasn't exactly when I was planning on moving into a new town for five years. Iieeegh. ...Oh, yeah, the competition. My 2sense would be that this could be a 'newbie comp.' Like, all the new people who are trying in their half-assed ways to actually make a hugo game could toss together their games, or at least part of it*, and see who can make the best small game. By small, I mean the game can be completed in... oh, say, twenty minutes. But it can also take much longer than that if the player decides to go deeper, to explore the world around him or her. Basically, the idea I think would be keen for this is for the prospective new Hugo author to implament a small game that still has quite a lot of depth; while the game itself is small, attention is given to details, describing scenery objects and implamenting special responses for interacting with them. That kind of thing. Also, bug-testing would be of course an area to be judged; how well the game is actually coded is very important. The judges could be the more experienced Hugo programmers. ...So, now that I think of it, they could be tasked to look for different things; RobB could look for the game's artistic prowess whereas Kent could look at the game's technical prowess. ...Keep in mind though that this is just an idea I threw together after about a minute of thought, though I have to admit I kind of dig it.

*When I say "part of [the game]" I'm not talking about turning it into "introcomp05, hugo redux". I mean that people who want to make a bigger game (like me) could, instead, spend their energy concentrating on just making the first scene or set of puzzles or section or chunk or whatever, and flushing that out until it is as vibrant as possible, so that it is its own self-contained game.
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pinback



Joined: 27 Apr 2002
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2005 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ice Cream Jonsey wrote:
When is a really dead time for IF?


Any time after about 1985.
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Lysander



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2005 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOL.
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Roody_Yogurt



Joined: 29 Apr 2002
Posts: 1993
Location: Milwaukee

PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I'd like it to be recommended but not required that people release the source code for their games. I appreciate the intent that we make this comp offer something for future beginners, but I also worry about the energy that's being put into adding more Hugo documentation when it could very well be applied to writing more games (which is exactly what Hugo needs most).

When I was an Inform author, I'd download this or that special Inform editing program, always under the assumption that something that makes the small stuff easier was going to let my brain run free creatively. Nice docs and tutorials offer a littlbe bit of the same feeling ("if I just learn this simple stuff really well, I'll be a coding machine").

The thing is, at the end of the day, a mostly-empty source file is still going to be staring at you with you wondering how you want to start things off. Like physical exercise, you have to get into it yourself and get comfortable with the routine, banging your head against big and small problems along the way (which are solved by going over the manual and source code on the archive and asking questions here or there). It's never easy, but it's possible to get yourself to start enjoying the work.

That all said, if doing something beginner-oriented really would help motivate people to spit something out, I'd support that. On the other hand, if the idea is one more distraction from jumping head-first into your first Big or Especially Meaningful or Aspiring game , I say we all suck it up and be willing to put ourselves out there. I say this as someone who has really only released distractions thus far.

No offense to Hugella and Cryptonomic, of course. I love your websites and that you're here to contribute in this forum. I just see this forum as having a decent number of intelligent and aspiring authors and thinki it's time we do something not so much for the rest of the world but for ourselves.
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Merk



Joined: 22 Nov 2004
Posts: 192
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think the documentation or example source code is lacking. I learned before the "Hugo Book" was even released, and I only had the Vault of Hugo and Guilty Bastards to look at. What I think is needed most is just good games. Get Hugo in front of people. If they see it's being used, and the games are quality, I think that's the best way to get more people interested in using it. I really think that extra tutorials, more source code, and all of that is secondary. The initial problem is that Hugo isn't even being *considered* when people are trying to pick a language to start.

I would also support a contest that tries to promote beginner-oriented games (source code, whatever). But I'd rather see a normal comp where we write games intended to showcase Hugo. Or at the very least, show people that it *is* being used, and *should* be used...
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Cryptonomic



Joined: 05 May 2004
Posts: 55
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 7:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Merk wrote:
The initial problem is that Hugo isn't even being *considered* when people are trying to pick a language to start.

That does often seem to be the case. In fact, that, to me, meant the question to ask was: why is Hugo not considered more? Certainly many people are aware of games like Future Boy, Fallacy of Dawn, and Necrotic Drift -- all of which showcase what the language can do. So when I first started looking at Hugo, I wanted to find out why Hugo was not mentioned more or why it was not (apparently) seen as a viable alternative (assuming I just looked at quantity). This was even moreso the case for me when I realized that there was a consensus that Hugo was much better at cross-platform compatibility in terms of text formatting and multimedia than the other languages.

In doing a fairly hefty search of RAIF, what I have found is that people saw Roger Firth's articles about Inform and that spurred them to use it more because they felt the language was more comprehensible. They saw the DM4 or the IBG for Inform and that inspired them to use it more because they felt that they had more options to get any questions they might have answered. So with Inform, what I found, is that people often were staying with the language or started using it because of the perceived level of documentation as opposed to the amount of source code available - of which there is a considerable amount.

For TADS 2, in looking back in RAIF, I saw that one of the most quoted things that people referenced were the source code to games like Perdition's Flames, The Plant, Ditch Day Drifter, Common Ground, etc. People, in this case, often did not mention the manual at all but did reference the source code. Often this seems to have been because they found games they thought were "neat" and seeing that the source code was available, it spurred them on to learn more about the language.

(TADS 3, clearly, is too new to discern much about but here it is certainly the case that people often reference Eric Eve's TADS 3 Tour Guide or the Getting Started guide. Those are usually the first things people recommend to those who want to decide if TADS 3 is "for them".)

For both (or all three) of the above languages, it seems many people did want to learn the language based on the competitions they saw that were available and that they could enter.

The key, I think, is also realizing that there are primarily two groups you might try to reach: those who may still decide and those who are pretty much set on a system. You may have a hard slog getting a tried-and-true Inform or TADS programmer to switch to Hugo, regardless of the source code available, tutorials available, the quality of a manual, etc. However, those who are still deciding may be swayed by those very things: as many were when looking at Inform or TADS. Granted, there is a third group: those already using Hugo. But, then again, you are not trying to convince them, necessarily.

All that being said, I agree there is enough source code out there for Hugo: Scavenger Hunt, Guilty Bastards, A Crimson Spring, Hugo Zork, Trading Punches, Spur, Down, etc. What there might not be enough of (and I am not certain of this) is enough polish or veneer around the existing source code to get people to start with Hugo in the first place. My experience with programming languages in general and, it seems IF in particular (if RAIF threads from "newbies" are anything to go by) that people like to feel there is a large set of supporting elements to a given language and its toolset.

I do agree with the argument to show that Hugo is being used to get more people to come to it. But a lot of how people (again, at least on RAIF, from what I have seen) see that a tool is "being used" is by the documentation that exists for it, the number of extensions written for it, the "help text" that exists to supplement manuals, etc. That shows people that there is an active community behind the language that is continually expanding not just its game-base and its source-code base, but the overall elements of the language and supplementary material to the language and its tools.

I definitely agree that a contest that supports "beginner-oriented games" could be good - but beginners are of different skill levels. True beginners will need to percieve that there is helpful documentation or supporting elements to even help them get their feet off the ground. I do know that many people do not learn as well just by looking at existing source code. That said, others may prefer to learn that way. It ultimately comes down to what audience you want to focus on and what that audience best responds to. I think competitions can be good for attracting people to a language -- if that is the goal (even if only secondarily) of a competition.

Like Roody_Yogurt said in his post, if the goal or audience being sought is the group that is mainly here on this forum, clearly your goals for various things regarding the Hugo language or competitions are going to be different than if the focus is on trying to broaden the appeal of Hugo to a wider base of not just game players, but game authors. I could definitely see the benefit and the fun of a competition just for the benefit of current or already-aspiring Hugo authors.

(By the way, I know I have strayed a bit off topic here for this thread. My apologies for that.)

- Jeff
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2005 2:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suppose I'm the documentation harpy here, but I have to disagree, Merk, with your statement that Hugo doesn't need more docs. The perception is that Hugo's docs, well, suck. And they do! (No offense to Kent.) I think it's a liability that we can't point to similar efforts such as Eric Eve's or the IBG when newbies start asking their infernal 'which language' questions on raif. Respondents always refer them to the docs, not games, when advising them on how to pick the language that best suits them. After all, the 'big 3' are more alike than dissimilar.

Maybe we should draft a 'Why choose Hugo' public service announcement to be posted to the newsgroups once a month or so. I mean, why choose it? Nobody really says, or they mumble something about multimedia. Well, so? Inform has Glulx and Tads had HTMLTads (or whatever it was called) and Tads3. How is Hugo's handling of graphics/sound better? What if I don't care about adding pictures to my game? Why should I choose Hugo then? Or, if I already use Inform/Tads, why should I switch? (I seem to recall a comment by Adam Cadre once, where he said he tried Hugo, but didn't like it because it didn't use semi-colons at the end of lines, or some such.)

That said, more games certainly couldn't hurt, either. :) The point about releasing source code and/or a 'beginner's comp' was simply to 1)add to the docs by have more source to reference and 2)motivate newcomers to try out the language in a fun, but relatively easy way. But it's also true that 'higher-level' games would raise visibility and provide (theoretically) 'better' documentation in the form of source. I remember Robb saying something about how the DM showed you how to program (a computer like in Starcross? can't remember)...but the point was that it was very motivating, seeing exactly how to implement some cool thing into a game. Good source should do that; I think Guilty Bastards is a great resource just for that reason...it shows you how to do some neat shit. Robb's code is generally pretty well commented too, and fun to read.

But here's my question, after a couple days of idle thought...why do we need a Hugo-comp in order to put out more games? Don't y'all think that if raising visibility through games is the way to go, that one's efforts could be better spent by entering a game in the annual Comp (or SpringThing) when the largest number of people are most likely to see it?
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Hugella



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PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2005 2:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oops. that was me in the above.
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