65 Comments

I loved this post and really appreciated the behind-the-scenes. I'm a newbie here, having found you through IFComp / Fix Your Mother's Printer, which I loved. But also, I'm just in admiration of the long-term dedication/grit of 4 years and 100 games. Excited to see what's ahead!

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Dec 7, 2023Liked by Geoffrey Golden

Yo Geoff!

What does it say that haven't played an Adventure in a while but read this entire post? Not sure.

I do love looking into the creative process and, especially seeing the results, such as they are.

The craft you put into the games is admirable. Silly stuff is hard work. People often don't get that and it probably makes the whole endeavor feel like a fools errand at times (I mean, actually, a fools errand sounds like fun at least).

There's one fascinating insight here. People will make a lot of time for stuff that's deep (ie a role playing game campaign that chews up hours). They will not invest the same amount of time into something that's purely entertaining.

I guess it's kind of that balance between, what's a sketch and what's a story? There are few SNL sketches that I want to see for 90 minutes. Sketches don't scale up attention. I guess.

Which, makes me even more envious of long form comedic novels, Another Fine Myth (Robert Lynn Aspirin). Like how did they do that? :)

But that's a book. So that's different I guess.

On the positive side, there's no question your writing and planning have improved over 100 Text games.

Sometimes the secret to success, whatever it might be, is just doing it longer

I remember something from Hugh McLeod's book. His whole art is basically just drawing stuff on the back of business cards. And someone was like "anyone can do that."

And his response was like sure ... but can you do it but can you do it for the 15 years it takes to get good at it.

So maybe the value of all this is in the doing and it just builds up over time?

"Respond to overly post"

"Ignore"

"Bake a pie"

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Even a few 20s is good going. Doing things is hard. It's good to aim high, but accept that it can take time (or we adjust our goals). 2,250 is an awesome amount of subscribers! One day my 122 will grow. :-)

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Geoffrey, I love the honest retrospective here. I'll admit, I'm not someone who plays every game, but I do respect your talent and like the ones I play.

And I can say that you have definitely made me a convert to the interactive fiction realm, checking out things like IFDB and researching how to create my own. I just ordered '50 Years of Text Based Games' by Aaron Reed and along with your games hope to use it as a guide towards making my own.

Someday I will create one and post it to Substack.

Keep going, and thanks for the inspiration!

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Mixed success is a good way to view things in general. I've always seen you as one of the bigger substacks so it shocks me a little to realize that isn't really the case, at the very least you're one of the bigger fish in my pond. Building a community is hard, I'd like to accomplish that too, but you're closer to it than I am.

I personally have had a lot of fun digging into the different games and finding out how they work. And I'm excited to keep playing. Working on our collab did get me playing around with Ink when it comes to inspiring other writers. And not a CYOA thing, but I have been doing my own weird game like stuff.

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First, congrats! -- 100 games is an achievement no matter what. I wouldn't beat yourself up about the community, either -- I think the fun of this newsletter is that it's a little snack bite, so it makes sense that people are hesitant to turn it into a whole meal. I personally like this newsletter because it's a fun way to think about the fundamentals of game design through some silly examples -- how do you set up a scenario and provide engaging and memorable choices quickly, and where does this week's experience, silly as it might be, fly or fall based on that premise? But even then, I'm often too busy when I get these to log in and have a conversation, even if I want to.

Also, from my perspective, the only real way to build thousands of subscribers on Substack is to get people with thousands of subscribers to sing your praises regularly. Easier said than done, but maybe writing an adventure about a larger outlet and getting them to recommend it would help with the long-term growth.

You also mentioned that people are looking for deep immersion, but like I said, it's a snack. Maybe you could tie some adventures together -- offer a longer campaign across a few weeks, maybe even with some social comparisons and a chance to win something at the end? Could be fun, but of course there's a balance between effort required and output there. Good luck as always and keep up the good work!

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This is a great piece of self-analysis and fantastic peek behind the curtain.

For what it’s worth I’ll say that Adventure Snack and you make great efforts to foster a community, so I don’t think it’s on you that there isn’t a rabid fan base knocking down your door, trading fan theories about what really is up with that cyclops that swiped right on you or post 3 hour explainer videos about the legality of Bigfoot’s eviction threats. It’s probably more the limits of the medium and how niche it is. That being said I think it’s niche in a way that it’s hard to get people through the door, I think the writing and humour is so on point anyone would enjoy it when they’re here.

“Basically, I’m making a silly comic strip for people who want serious graphic novels. “Worse” yet, my strip often makes fun the conventions of the games they love. But that’s my wacky art, lol!”

^ this is excellent analysis and probably gets at the root of the issue. However, most people like fun to be poked at something they love as long as it doesn’t become to obviously critical. Otherwise you’d be in a real catch-22 because that referential element of the conventions is only going to be found humorous by those who are familiar with it.

Geoffrey, you’re a marvelous writer and I’m impressed with the consistency and professionalism you run this newsletter with - it’s really inspiring to me who has a newsletter that lays dormant so much of the year.

Thanks for the shout out again, we do plan to bring Misadventure Adventure back all the time. Life is so hectic with a young child that we just keep finding ourselves very time poor. The arc we are currently building up to has some ‘off-site’ point and click/ARG-ish elements that will eventually be really fun but obviously it will take some time. I’ve this whole vision for Misadventure Side-quests where I could write a Misadventure Adventure musical and record the songs or make an actual point and click adventure downloadable by subscribers but I would want these to be paid elements and Substack just doesn’t have the provision to allow writers to have one off paid articles. The other thing that I suggested to them that would incentivise us to make more is to allow people to pay per article rather than on a timed subscription period. I think that would be useful to you too as your format could support it.

Anyway, a big jumbled group of words for ya! Enjoy.

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Really appreciate your thoughtful analysis. Though I'm an infrequent player, seeing your emails come in always brings me joy. I think it's a combo of the quirky name + knowing that there's a break awaiting me in my inbox + appreciation of your voice as a writer. I've dabbled in narrative game writing for young kids, and know how much skill and thought this requires, so your practice inspires me. Looking forward to the next installment.

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Dec 7, 2023Liked by Geoffrey Golden

Thanks for the thorough and honest breakdown! I've enjoyed the Adventure Snack adventures I've gone on and am looking forward to what's next!

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Dec 26, 2023Liked by Geoffrey Golden

Hey! When trying to catch up on the great newsletters I subscribe to, I never ever miss ypurs and usually play each game more than once in a row to see where different choices would take me. But I never comment because I just don't get substack.as a place for community. I don't use it for much more than to manage my subscriptions because I find it confusing and annoying (I got a super irritating popup while writing this comment as well.as if it wanted to prove me right...), also I feel a bit overwhelmed with all.these different apps to track different stuff. All this is to say it's not you, it's me, I love your stuff and might get engaged more under different circumstances

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For what it's worth, you've inspired me to write my own text adventure game! Still in the brainstorming phase. haha

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Congrats on a 100 in the can! Just subscribed today, will definitely check out the next one.

I tried doing something similar but in a comic format, but life got busy and art takes a while. Might try to do it again as a text adventure, so thank you for the inspiration

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I apologize for being a week late to comment here. Your email is often one that I deliberately leave unread in my inbox triage because it's a treat, and I want to save it for when I can actually enjoy it. But then it slips below the event horizon of my email client, and life rolls onward. That's what happened for this post, which I didn't actually read until I read the NEXT one and followed the link back here.

I would like to push back a little bit about some of your goal evaluation. I started my first company back in the prehistory of the world (in the early 90s, before the internet was a thing), and things worked out great. I bought a house and it worked out great. I thought I was King Midas: things just work out!

But of course that's not the case, because even if you are King Midas, bad things happen. And my golden touch soured eventually. Not everything turned out well, and my future house purchases have been, let's just call them "poorly timed."

In my successes and lack of successes, I've tried to figure out what makes the difference, and I think I've cracked it. I've figured out the secret to some of your failed rolls.

Luck.

Seriously. It's all luck. Luck is the secret sauce. Luck is why Elon Musk is rich and why I am not. Luck is why some companies succeed and others fail. Sure, being really bad at something decreases your chances for luck, but even being really terrible at something doesn't destroy luck. I mean, just look at most of the guys who have had desks in the Oval Office. With a very few exceptions, they're all just idiots who got lucky over and over.

And that's the other secret so far as I can tell: luck comes around eventually, and our job is just to wait it out. There's an anecdote in the biography of Elon Musk about gambling. He loses and loses and loses and loses and loses, and he keeps throwing his money after it. Eventually, because that's how these things work, it turns around and he wins big. If it had been me, I would have given up after the first loss. But Musk has more money than brains (to be fair, he had more money than brains from the beginning. I think Musk is a dangerous idiot, but that's irrelevant to this example), and so he was able to keep his seat at the table, losing and losing, until luck finally caught up.

This is relevant because you've shown that you're a guy who can stick it out. You can publish ONE HUNDRED games. That's astounding! That's a lot of work! That's a lot of high quality, enjoyable work that many people appreciate. I wish that I had an accomplishment like that in my pocket.

So over the last 100 didn't pivot into a room full of gold coins that you can swim in like Scrooge McDuck. Will it happen in the next 100? I don't know, because I'm not an omniscient diety (alas). It might, or maybe in the 100 after that. Or maybe it'll be a different-but-just-as-great outcome.

The point is that by completing 100 of these things, you've shown whatever omniscient dieties who control this sort of thing that you're a guy who will out-wait luck. You'll stay at the table until you roll the natural 20.

And, boy howdy, I salute you for it. You've accomplished something marvelous so far, and if you stay on this path, success is guaranteed (eventually). Not from hard work, because that's just the table stakes. Your success will come because you stuck around at the table long enough that luck finally worked. You'll write an Adventure Snack (or whatever you're calling it by then) and send it off, and all of the sudden it goes viral and you've got 50,000 subscribers. 500,000. You'll know it's not even your best work! It didn't seem all the special, but it got lucky, and now you've got thousands of paying subscribers and you're getting interviewed by journalists and you are getting calls from games studios and Hollywood and distant cousins...

It's not going to happen to me, because I don't have 100 games (or 100 anythings) under my belt. I've given up and left the table. But not you: you're still sitting at the green felt, rolling the dice again and again and again. And that's awesome.

All of this is to say that some of this, like the number of subscribers and paying subscribers, is only distantly in your control. Mostly it's just a question of you continuing to play until your lucky number gets called. You're doing it right! And so long as you keep doing it, it'll all happen. Eventually.

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Well placed comment "Leave a comment" button, sir!

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Dec 12, 2023Liked by Geoffrey Golden

It's tough out there, man, but it really looks like you're cranking hard, and I admire that. Lots of great goals, even if you didn't meet all of them. I feel like there's a lot of "here's a great thing I did just for you", but it also feels like there just aren't enough "you's" out there for all the great things. I dunno. I haven't cracked any codes on here or Medium. Almost no readers; I'm just writing. But I do love the writing, and for me that's most of the battle. How to get people to notice I'm writing and get them reading. Well, let's just see what we can do in 2024.

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One thing you rolled a nat 20 on was supporting and lifting up other writers. Especially in my early day poking about in the newsletter game, you were vital and inspirational. Thank you for that.

Also, I would love to collaborate on something in 2024. How about it?

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