CoG/HG business model

This always feels good. Even if there’s nothing of substance enthusiasm for one’s work is never unappreciated.

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2021 did seem like ten years in one year though.

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Part of the problem is also how the forum shows stuff to people.

The latest tab/front page tends to favor the more active threads over newer threads (regardless of the forum tag) which hamstrings new threads (unless they get popular quickly) before people can actually see them unless people have tailored their notifications in a way that pushes them to the forefront of their notification queue.

If more people went under profile > preferences > tracking and tailored the threads to what they want to see more of (in this case WIPs) by setting notifications to alert them to new threads in specific categories/tags (it’s basically an automatic watchlist by category/tag) they’d see a lot more of the newer stuff as they come up rather than the more active older threads.

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I read some of the latest replies and I wanna say something about having your WIP lesser attention than others

I haven’t feel that yet so I cannot say something from personal experience, but shouldn’t we all aim for potential readers out of the forum? the global market?

I heard its hard for an author to impress another authors, just like its hard for musician to impress another musician, I think that’s just how it works

feel free to correct me if I wrong :v:

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If you want to build a fanbase and get beta testing for your WIP, as far as I know, this forum the best place to do it by a zillion miles.

The next best place I can think of is intfiction, but it has much less users by the looks of it, and not everyone there is interested in choice-based IF, let alone choicescript. (I got New User of the Month there with literally three posts and zero topics created).

The Hosted Games subreddit is another option, but I don’t know how viable it is to build a WIP thread there. Has anyone tried it?

I don’t know if there are other good places to build an audience. If anyone knows, I’d definitely like to hear more. Please and Thank you.

As writers, we need positive feedback to keep us going, or even something as simple as a like or “good luck”. :slightly_smiling_face: Maybe there’s an army of lurkers out there who enjoy our work, but we need to see the positive feedback to feel this endeavor is worth our time.

I think this is the thread that was referenced. It was quite upsetting to read, and probably one of my worst fears as a writer. :cry:

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It frustrates me to no end with how often I’ve seen that happen! Although I don’t think it’s just this… I see readers talk passionately and speculate about things that aren’t written into the story and, honestly I feel some people care more about the story in their own head than what the author has written. There’s nothing wrong with that but it means people aren’t going to read the finished story, because there’s no more blank spaces they can daydream in.

If you’re one of those people, just a shout out if you haven’t heard of them, but go check out Quest IFs. They’re written live and the readers decide what happens next. You’ll have way more influence on a story, and much more time to daydream as the author writes the next chapter in real time.

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I think it’s a cycle - I’m going to do a lot of guesswork here, but when you look back the trend of people attacking the WIPs with fervent interest it could probably be traced to a big IFs pulling audiences from broader pools.

Like Wayhaven.

Dating sim audiences are much bigger and more online and that power should be respected.
POMA and Aura Clash and the cultivation genre
Infinity Saga and War for the West with Crusader Kings - maybe.

Things are never popular for no reason or just because they are quality.

Anyway, nothing should ever stay still - not even here. Ideally, you wouldn’t just have a loyal base of people you can count and hope they won’t get tired or burned out.
There needs to be fresh blood injected into the forum which can only happen by getting the word out.

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I never know when “good luck” is appropriate and when it’s considered to give bad luck instead.

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I’m not quite sure where in the discussion this goes, but it is something I want to add, from my perspective as a reader who browses IF tumblr a lot.

On other platforms (mainly tumblr I’ve noticed) there is a degree of cynicism (not sure if this is the right term, am tired) regarding any IF posted or advertised there.

The tumblr IF community is saturated with blogs selling their idea solely on their ROs. They post an idea, but no demo. They’ll answer dozens of daily asks about their worldbuilding and ROs; put up Paterons/Kofi and then one day they’ll get bored of their idea or realize that writing an IF is harder than they expected and disappear off the face of the planet without posting a demo. It sort of feels like either they’re in way over their head, or they’re trying to capitalize on a niche audience (for money, clout, whatever) and then dipping before they have to deliver anything, depending on how cynical you want to be when you look at it.

Sure there are IF blogs that do post content (and have amazing stories), but there are so many nowhere blogs that they’re all lost in the sea of noise. There’s probably a number of amazing stories I’ve skipped solely because I scrolled past thinking they were just another dime-a-dozen nothing project. I scrolled past Triaina Academy dozens of times, since all I saw from it were RO asks before I finally realized it actually has a decently sized demo.

TLDR: off forum, there are so many “projects” that don’t have demos, will never have demos, that the projects that will be completed get lost in the noise, it makes finding anything worth reading and investing time into exhausting.

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I don’t find reddits very good for running WIPs. I’m going to hesitate a guess that a lot of people have it set for “new topics” in which case you don’t see updated threads, and even running under the popular tab, it’s probably going to get eclipsed by the many other threads unless it’s quite active (which is probably going to be hard to maintain if a lot of people aren’t even seeing the thread pop up in the feed with additional comments). I have tried making a topic and asking for testers there and not gotten any feedback and it sank like a stone down the pages to never see the light again, (but then again I don’t have popular games here either so would probably be worth trying it with a more popular game.)

In general the reddit seems to be run a lot more on random topics, "find a game with “this” requests, memes and discussion of mainly a handful of the very popular games/WIPs.

There is a WIP section at intfiction, but from what I’ve seen you’re more likely to get feedback on comp entries there I think. (Nothing wrong with setting one up though if anyone wants to run a WIP thread there though too and see how it goes.) Side note, the expectation for what makes a good game there, is not necessarily the same as what is expected in HG games.

That also makes sense too :slight_smile: Thing is there’s no right or wrong reason to read WIPs. Anyone reading them is doing it in their spare time so in the end it is up to them what they most want to get out of it. It’s just a phenomena I’ve seen (although there have also been exceptions to the rule.)

The almost expectation that you need to have a tumblr is one I have a little bit of an issue with after a fashion. I think it can be tricky for a lot of people to balance spending time there, and actually working on the game itself. Some people probably have significant amounts of free time or are able to balance where they spend that time and keep disiplined about it, but for many of us that this is less so, tumblr probably eats away into the little writing time available slowing or even derailing a WIP from ever being finished by wanting to also keep that active. I’ve honestly always been surprised when projects that have no more than a chapter or so done (or in some cases no demo at all) and who aren’t authors with a record of publishing games they start, have subscribers on their Patreons as for me that would be an unacceptibly high risk to spend money there give I know myself how easy it is to start rather than actually finish the long games expected by HG, but it’s up to people how they wish to spend their $.

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No, it is not viable to do a Reddit thread as an ongoing WIP one. It would be fine to put it out towards the end of development to get more eyes and feedback (and I would recommend it since they are hungry for WIPs over there), but because posting in a Reddit thread does not bump it to the top like it does here, after a few days the engagement on that Reddit post would drop to practically zero.

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Here’s my experience as a relatively new WIP with a new tumblr blog as someone who doesn’t focus on visuals/ROs.

I have a demo up, but my aesthetic sense is all over the place, and I feel like that has severely limited the attention the WIP is getting on tumblr. For example, rather than banners and RO character profiles, most of my tumblr posts have been the occasional ask and updates on the story.

The tumblr audience for IFs really like their visuals, which I’m surprised by, or maybe that’s just what social media in general prioritizes. It’s to the point where I’m caving in and making character profiles, not because I feel it’s necessary, but because it feels like I won’t have an audience without it. I guess it’s better to just continually talk about the work I’m doing, but that takes time and effort that I’d rather spend on my WIP.

Reddit is okay if you keep an eye out for redditors who are searching for WIPs similar to yours. Posting a whole reddit thread for a WIP just won’t work for longer than a day or two.

Twitter/X is a dying hellscape, but I’ll admit that I haven’t tried it to promote my WIP so I can’t say if it’s good or bad for it.

With the platforms I’ve tried though, I’ve definitely seen posts of people being tired of WIPs because of the risk of abandonment. How do you convince someone that you won’t abandon your own WIP? Try being someone who’s already completed a Hosted Game in the first place. But what if you’re like me and you haven’t posted an HG yet? How do you convince people who don’t want to be convinced? You can’t, is what I’ve concluded. You just gotta hope they eventually come around.

TL;DR gaining a following is hard, and while it’s important to tap the market outside of the forums, it takes a lot of time, effort, ideas, aesthetics, etc. Even if you put your all into it, some people won’t try it simply because it’s a WIP and not a finished product.

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I’ve been rather surprised by the number of followers my project’s tumblr has accrued (albeit I have no idea how many it is in context), but I 100% get the whole thing about design not being everyone’s forte, as well as running a tumblr eating into time which could otherwise be spent actually working on the game.

If it wasn’t for my fiancée setting things up and keeping asks etc. organised, the blog would neither look as good nor be managed as well.

I can understand readers’ reluctance to jump aboard an unproven writer/project. It’s hard to overcome that hurdle. I think immersing within communities like this helps with the eyeballs a bit, at least. Just there isn’t always the hours or the energy in the day to manage it.

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Man maybe I’m using tumblr wrong lmao. Here I am with a demo out (short as it is) and I’ve gotten literally two asks in a month of having the tumblr up. No big deal it just amuses me. NGL I’ve never really understood how it works as a social media site.

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I don’t know what the motivations are for authors posting concepts without having written anything - I assume a lot of it is getting excited about an idea before realising they might have bitten off more than they can chew - but yeah, there’s a reason why the “Don’t post a WIP thread without a playable demo” rule exists here, because before it was set in stone, the forum was swamped by discussion about hypothetical concepts that never materialised into even a small amount of writing. Which I do get - it’s really fun to daydream about future projects, I do it a lot! - but ultimately to create something you have to sit down and write it.

To plagiarise myself from a post I made on the HG subreddit earlier today:

Quote below, because I feel a bit silly airing my views twice over

As for the “demo tba” blogs, I don’t really know why people support stories without demos unless they’re by authors they already enjoy and/or are part of a series (eg I know Jolly Good: Tea and Scones is definitely going to be released at some point and that I’ll enjoy it), or where a chunk of the game has already been written and it’s a pre-release marketing thing where the demo is clearly going to go up on a set date. I’ve seen people start blogs and post about their game for months or even years with no evidence of any writing happening and it feels strange to me that readers would get excited about characters in that kind of case. I just think… well, they’re only character concepts until they’ve actually been written and I can interact with them in a game. For me it makes me go “oh, interesting!” and move onto thinking about something else, rather than going “I’m a huge fan of this character now”. A lot of people feel differently for sure (and I don’t mean to sound critical of them by any means! just that I don’t feel that way) but you’ll get more attention by showing some of the writing rather than solely concepts.

I’ve also seen authors talking about feeling ashamed that their demoless blog took off and they didn’t manage to follow up on it so going viral like that is very much a double-edged sword.

I think the main way that authors with games to share can stand out in the “noise” is to update their writing regularly and/or post about the writing that they’re doing. Not saying that anyone needs to be working on a professional schedule with tight deadlines or anything, but ultimately hype will burn itself out if there isn’t any substantial writing along with RO hypothetical-scenario ask responses.

Or maybe not - there is an understandable desire to have writers make things on-demand/tailored to one’s own imagination. Which is its own thing to think about, partially related to the strong culture of authors creating supplementary material such as writing from NPCs’ perspectives, lore/worldbuilding, commissions based on players’ MCs, etc, especially used as subscription rewards. I have somewhat complicated feelings about that, mostly in relation to my personal experiences. It is very, very popular - the most popular Patreons include vast amounts of it - and can be very satisfying as an author to create (I’ve got into a rhythm that feels right for me after some trial and error), but ultimately it takes time and energy away from making a project and that’s hard to juggle. Trying to produce large amounts of non-project writing on demand while keeping a steady pace on the core project leads to burnout very quickly.

People who are really into a WIP will always be interested in reading more things related to it and it’s fantastic for authors to be able to make any additional money from their writing in ways that suit them. So on paper, it is a winning formula. But it can become complicated from various angles.

Take this with as many pinches of salt as necessary, but I think your blog looks perfectly nice (I just followed it!). I use Tumblr on my phone and don’t really pay a lot of attention to blog aesthetics, banners, character portraits etc - I concentrate on the written description of the game. It might be worth making character profiles to showcase what makes your characters special, but I don’t think you need to spend a huge amount of time making such a thing look super beautiful. Admittedly, I’m a) old and b) am probably in the minority but, well… we’re not making visual novels here, there’s no great need to demonstrate artistic skills, I think.

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It always confuses me a little to see people say that there’s not a lot of activity in the forum WIP threads.

Back in my days… Ahem, Back when I first joined the forum, and when I tried posting a WIP of my own, getting a 50 or 100 likes on your WIP post meant that your game was getting a good amount of engagement.
Now, it’s common for WIP threads to get 100s of likes, 100s of comments, and 1000s of views! It’s such completely different numbers than back then.

For me at least, it was very clear that Wayhaven’s arrival and popularity brought with it a big change in culture, where the WIP section changed from being pretty focused on development to become more of a general fan space.

Personally, I definitely don’t provide as much feedback as I used to, since I’m chronically exhausted, and giving feedback requires more energy and concentration than just reading the demos.
And there are so many more demos than there used to be, and they have gotten so much longer at first posting, so I no longer read every single one, like I used to.
Now the post have to give me the impression that I might enjoy the game, before I check out the demo.
And well, it can often be hard to see how a WIP would benefit from my specific feedback. Sometimes they are too low quality, and need to just focus on their grammar, or general idea of how to structure a story. Sometimes they are so short that it’s more like a teaser than anything else, and it’s difficult to say anything without knowing where they are going with it. And sometimes the demo is so long and well-done, that it seems like the author has a clear idea of what they are doing, and don’t really need help.
And the WIPs that spark enthusiasm in me and the want to participate, are usually flooded with replies, so what’s the worth of me expending a lot of my limited energy to provide feedback that will just drown in all the other?
It can also be hard to tell if my specific brand of feedback will even be helpful to specific authors, since it’s so different what works for different people.

So yeah, these days I rarely post in WIP threads, unless I happen to catch an interesting WIP early on before the thread gets active, or it sparks some strong thoughts/opinions in me that I want to share.

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I can only provide my limited POV on this subject, but I’m on several Patreons, and have dropped several more. It’s not so much wanting “on demand” material, or things tailored to my imagination (that’s what fanfic is for, after all).

I join Patreons to support the owners in what they’re doing, because I appreciate their work and am interested in the world they created. Some of those I support are CoG authors (Malin, Aelsa, Sera, Vi, Amy, etc.), and others are VN writers (Rice Coffee, Ms Xero, for example) or musicians or video producers. I think it is a given that people support what they like or to simply get more content.

I see nothing wrong with creators offering something on the side to their supporters. Extra content can be a good “break” for the creator, too. It lets them flex other muscles while still playing in the same sandbox. Plus, I really appreciate the extra content, because let’s be honest–development of these games takes a while. The extra content keeps interest up, if the creator plays their cards right, knows what to offer to keep that interest, and provides regular updates. All while working on the very work that drew my attention in the first place.

It’s only when they are clearly not working on the very work for which you’re supporting them that it gets infuriating. And it’s pretty damned obvious when that is happening. The author stops giving updates or you get the SSDD (same shit different day) from them, where they gush about what they did but show you nothing or outright admit they are doing other things (like cleaning their house, for example). That shows a huge disrespect for the people supporting them, in my opinion, and–typically–will result in me bailing. I also don’t usually like Patreons where the creators start sharing nothing but extraneous crap in their world. Unless it relates directly to what I joined for, I couldn’t care less.

The biggest complication, to me, is if the author doesn’t actually write their game. Or spends no time on it, while spending all of their time on extra content (or sitting on their ass because they now have a bunch of suckers on Patreon throwing money at them).

I think the most important part on Patreon is communication. It’s something that should happen period, but when people are supporting you financially, it’s your obligation to at least communicate where you are in the creative process. And provide them with whatever was promised on the description of your Patreon. Oh yeah, and to actually finish the project people are supporting!

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Sometimes I wonder if there shouldn’t be a Monthly Mercenary Feedback Thread – each author gives feedback to get feedback. I think even a sentence of feedback can be helpful – and might encourage readers to be more active in the WIP threads too, which would boost attention towards them. Not sure how’d you make it fair, though.

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It wouldn’t help with the fact that people have limited amount of time. And energy.

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I applaud the intentions behind this suggestion, but it will be hard to give good feedback if you feel “compelled” to do so.

I’m just hoping maybe everyone could make it a point to leave one comment a month on some low-traffic WIP as encouragement, even if you’ve no time to play and offer feedback. (which is fair) Of course, playing and giving feedback if your schedule permits it is welcome.

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