Saturday, January 24, 2015

Hadean news of the week

I thought this was the boring part of the release process. Hadean Lands has been out for a couple of months, I've done a couple of iOS updates, time to settle down and work through the Kickstarter rewards. Plan for more distribution platforms, like Steam and the Humble Store. Boring stuff.

Wrong! It's crazy excitement time.

First thing this week, two fantastic reviews appeared:

"The best video game I played last year is a science-fiction thriller about alchemy, and it has no graphics or sound effects." -- David Auerbach, Slate

"Hadean Lands is an endlessly clever experience." -- Sean Clancy, Pocket Tactics

Suddenly the sales rate is going nuts, Twitter activity is buzzing, and my head is spinning.

When a wave of publicity hits, that's when you want a Steam Greenlight page, right? (Greenlight is the voting system that Steam uses to gauge public interest in new indie games.) So I have spent the past day constructing one. Here it is:

Vote for Hadean Lands on Steam Greenlight!

This isn't a purchase; it just indicates to Steam that this is the kind of game you want them to offer. When enough "yes" votes accumulate, I get a slot on the Steam storefront. (No, I don't know how many votes is enough.)

(Speaking of Greenlight, I note that two other parser IF games went up this month: Jack Toresal and The Secret Letter (Mike Gentry and David Cornelson) and The Shadow in the Cathedral (Ian Finley and Jon Ingold). There's also Her Story, which is not a text game, but is by IF author Sam Barlow. And that must only scratch the surface; I haven't even tried to survey the Greenlight world.)

Other news:

  • The process for getting a Humble Store slot is already under way. They say there's a queue for games to show up there, and I'm in it.

  • The current sales widgets (Humble Widget and Itch.IO) now offer separate downloads for Mac, Windows, and "generic" (everything else). The generic download is the same package that's been available all along; it contains the game file and instructions for finding an interpreter. The Mac package contains the interpreter, ready to install. The Windows package has a standard Windows installer which sets everything up for you.

  • David Welbourn has written a detailed walkthrough of HL. Massive spoilers, obviously! When it comes to HL hints, I like to send people to the IF forum rather than a walkthrough. I think it's more engaging to talk to other fans about the game, rather than finding a file of answers on the Internet. But David's work is terrific and deserves recognition. (Also, maybe, a tip? He's got a Patreon for creating IF walkthroughs.)

  • The Kickstarter reward CDs are in production. They should reach me by Feb 6th, says the duplicator.

  • I have the reward books now; they just have to be packaged up and hauled to the post office.

  • The reward posters have arrived, but the printer screwed up somehow. Half of the posters are smeared. The other half are fine, but I want to ship them all in one batch, so there will be a delay. I have contacted customer service and hopefully it will all get straightened out; I don't know when. Sorry about this.

  • For added fun, I have jury duty next week. That will fill up an unknown number of work days.

I want to address one other issue: the font preferences in the Mac and Windows interpreters. "But there are no font preferences in the Mac and Windows interpreters!" Yes, Watson, that is the curious thing.

In fact you can adjust the fonts in Gargoyle. You have to edit a file called garglk.ini, which is bundled with the interpreter (on Windows) or in your home directory (on Mac). On Linux I believe it's named .garglkrc. Go in there with a text editor and bump up the propsize line, and also leading while you're at it.

(If you used the Windows installer, you'll have to make the file editable first. Select Properties on the garglk.ini file, select Security, edit the permissions).

Yes, this is a rigmarole. Why did I stick you with it? The short answer is, well, the Kickstarter was for a game and an iOS interpreter. I didn't have time to write desktop interpreters too. Gargoyle is the best interpreter available right now, but it started as a Linux project, it's got this Unix-style config file, and that's just the way it goes.

(For the Steam release, I'd like to modify this. But no bets right now.)

Comments imported from Gameshelf

Dannii (Jan 24, 2015 at 10:51 PM):

It might be easier (and better to recommend) to edit a hadeanlands.ini file in the same place as the .gblorb.

Andrew Plotkin (Jan 24, 2015 at 11:47 PM):

Does that work? The garglk.ini comments imply that it checks the location of the executable, the home directory, and the current directory, but not the location of the game file.

Great if it does, mind you.

What I really want is a config option to load a specific game file. MacOS doesn't have a way to launch Gargoyle with a named game file as an argument. I'll need that for the Steam thing.

Dannii (Jan 25, 2015 at 6:50 AM):

It's the last file checked according to

And it does work - we do that for Kerkerkruip. You can also add a [ hadeanlands.gblorb ] section header to ensure it's only loaded for your game. For OSX, couldn't you just use a shell script?

Andrew Plotkin (Jan 25, 2015 at 11:25 AM):

No, a shell script doesn't work.

(Quick test of the code.)

Yes, a shell script works. Now I feel silly.

(OSX has a weird model for launching apps. It supports arguments, but I didn't realize that they worked with Mac Gargoyle.)

Ok, this is looking better for MacOS now.

namekuseijin (Jan 25, 2015 at 11:52 AM):

Humble Store?! Where's Play Store? don't leave us behind, dude

David Cornelson (Jan 26, 2015 at 12:57 PM):

It's probably much easier to create a sophisticated one-off application using FyreVM than anything else. And it's open source now. Not sure if HL has any glk-ish specific output (I have only played through the beginning parts with my kids), but if not, running it in FyreVM is probably doable.

Some of the basic interpreter features are fairly straight-forward in a WinForms or WPF app. If you do WinForms, mono will compile for Mac or Linux too.

If we get more IF games on Steam, this may become an important tool.

Dannii (Jan 26, 2015 at 7:13 PM):

I am thinking of trying to add glk support to FyreVM too. No reason the VM couldn't support both UI systems!

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