To See or Not to See: Closed or Open For Contest Entries?

Actually, it was a trifle long to include in the title but I don’t just mean the beta, but even the WIP thread itself. How much is too much? You don’t want to have the judges intimately familiar with it out of the gate, I assume. And you would not want too many potential future buyers to already know your game so well they aren’t interested in opening their digital wallets. But feedback will also be critical for having a winning entry (and in my case at least, fast feedback; I only found out about this 3 weeks ago, and that means I need to complete, code and test this thing in less than eight months). And I know WIP threads seem to be good at building up some hype for a game as it goes through the various stages of birth. Whaddya think, CoG faithful? The public forum and its free exchange (and potential copying) of ideas, or the clandestine society, where you run the risk of missing out on exactly what you needed to hear?

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Hi there! I am pretty new to this forum and writing in general with my first work in progress being written currently in cooperation with @Bjorked. We are currently trying for a contest; but our approach was never about a monetary compensation, so much as something we just wanted to try. To that end, I think you’re correct that over sharing when you want to sell a game can run into obvious issues. However, there is also the concept that some rare patrons will support work based on their appreciation or a work. Rather than the traditional deprivation of knowledge and the necessary hoop of purchasing for content, an interesting idea of mutual trust between author and audience can change that dialogue.

While I am well aware that artists cannot really be compensated for their time and very few will voluntarily give when they do not have to, noble patrons should not be overlooked. Amanda Palmer spoke very eloquently on the matter in her then TED talk on ‘The Art of Asking’ and subsequent book.

It’s important to consider is if you really need or want to monetize art for consumption, or if the goal is simply to enjoy creating and sharing with others. I personally really appreciate more eyes and helping hands with writing, as well as the chance to really tailor an experience to the people that will love it the most. I’ll probably never be rich as a writer or artist because of that; but I do hope to really connect with people through those mediums.


I’m new to this forum, but not new to writing. At least when it comes to being afraid about your ideas being stolen: don’t. Projects take time, effort, and devotion, especially with a long-form work like a ChoiceScript game. The benefits of feedback outweigh the slim possibility of plagiarism.

On the other points, I’ll let veteran members handle it.


For the most part, people on here aren’t going to copy your ideas. People who are serious enough about writing for this contest are going to have their own story ideas (that they think are awesome enough to justify entering), so I think the odds of someone “copying” your story are very slim. I really wouldn’t sweat that.

And this has been discussed a few times here, but the consensus is that: 1) you won’t lose many buyers by virtue of offering a public thread, and 2) even if you lose a few (or a few hundred!) the math dictates that it won’t make any appreciable difference when it comes down to revenue. In fact, it’s more likely that the public feedback you get will make your story much stronger than it would have been had you hidden it from the forums, thus improving its potential to make money in the marketplace.

All this being said, the contest is a special situation, and I do think some people, mostly experienced people, are playing their cards close to their vests, and that’s a legitimate approach.


Lot more focus on the copy remark than I would have thought. For the record, I do not mean out and out plagiarism. That seems unlikely in a community where everything is documented and time stamped. It is more that a certain twist, mechanic or character might inspire someone to punch up their own material and get an extra edge. If there was no contest, that would be a positive. No sense not to want everyone here to achieve success with their books, and contributing to that would be great. Plus, from a purely mercenary standpoint, these games are set up so that a rising tide can easily float all boats. One game hits it big, people follow the in-game links to others and so on. But competition is another matter. In a contest, anything that improves the chances of one party must then decrease them for everyone else accordingly. Now realistically I know as a first-timer my odds are slim at placing, especially since the number of entries will probably be in the dozens. But that is all the more reason not to make them slimmer, eh?

As for losing the sales, it is true that it’s a small amount of the overall buying populace (although, admittedly, some of the ones most likely to buy it in the first place, given that posting here implies a strong love for these sorts of games). So probably it is worth it to try and build up interest even if it is at the expense of a few downloads.


Yup I think we understood what you meant by the ‘copying’ comment. People don’t out and out ‘copy’ much, but if someone figures out a new and clever way to present stats, or something like that, then yes I could see other folks saying, “Hmmm…I wonder if I could incorporate that in mine?”

It’s a tough call, because many of us here like and support each other, even in a contest environment. (Check out the show “Face Off” for an example of creative people in a contest still supporting and helping each other, and sometimes even saving someone from elimination even though you might think, “Just let them failure! Less competition for you that way!”)

Anyway, for example, I’ve read a beta of another contestant’s entry and gave honest advice; the same advice I would have provided in a non-contest environment. And I might ask that contestant for advice in the future as well, considering how that person had provided extremely thoughtful and helpful advice for my other work. Other people might not want to go that far, and that’s perfectly fine too.

And I do anticipate that, come October or November, people will come out of the woodwork with beta testing requests, because it’s REALLY hard to properly test your game without (a lot of) help. Now many of those might be private tests, but I’m guessing some will be public as well.


Pretty much what I did with other WIPs.
hehe… Heheheh… Hwueheheheh.
:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: :crazy_face:

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This has been an issue in gaming for decades. One of the most famous examples is WoW “stealing”, “developing”, “testing” and “deploying” mechanics and ideas from their competitors. Blizzard got their game to market before their competitors and laid claim to everything as theirs, practically speaking if not the real story. As a consequence, they grew into a 900 pound gorilla and remains such today.

The difference between the “gaming” industry as represented by the mass market and here is that we are still a niche. A growing niche (see the Helsinki 75) but it still is a niche with the tight knit community that implies. White Wolf was cited in that other thread as an example of what 20 years worth of market evolution looks like and Jason will be talking about this I believe at the Conference.

Yet our cycle is at the beginning of that evolution and I don’t see it heading the same exit route for various reasons. What that means is as individual authors, we don’t necessarily compete against each other in a adversarial manner. We are all still exploring the market, the Scripting language, and often our own writing.

We still all benefit by helping each other because the marketplace has room for all of us. If I publish a story, I’m not going to deny @Eric_Moser customers. In fact, I might grow his base by bringing in virgin customers no one else has touched yet.

This is not a mature market and the set up means that any mechanical structure built will be known by all once the story goes live - so in the end the whole community will be able to emulate whatever is brought forth.

In the short run, it might benefit you to be a lone wolf (sorry, could not resist) but I believe in the long run helping each other succeed is in all our interests.

There are very talented people entering this contest; they are also stand out community members. Even the more private individuals are supportive and extend what help they feel they could while respecting everyone else.

If I see something Eric does, and inspires me, I would ask his permission to use what I saw as that inspiration. I may have asked him in the past; I’ve asked quite a few people if I can use what they do as such. Each and every one of them has been professional and supportive and have said yes.

If I do end up getting a project published it was in part the community as a whole that helped me get there.


That’s the nice thing about this business model. Makes every author a tiny part owner, giving them lots of motivation to see the others succeed. Doubly nice if they happen to be someone you know well. I am not there yet with any of y’all, but I would say if anyone asked me to borrow a notion I cannot see me saying no, even if it was for the contest. It’d be hypocritical as all get out, given how much help y’all have given already and how much more I am likely to need before my WIP is done.

Random question: what will publication look like after the contest ends? With all those works ready for publication or nearly so, will they be stretched out over most of 2018, or will there be multiple titles tossed out in short order?


I would answer: Only time can tell. Not only will it depend on the numbers - both of available staff and their time but also of number of entries and their quality. My guess would be there will be a handful (most likely from experienced and published authors) given priority and then there will be the rest.

What the rest will look like, I have no clue.

Nevertheless, the contest acts like a submission call more then anything and so it should provide CoG with a steady source of workable projects in one form or another.