Intermission

We’re halfway through the journey, so the series is taking a small break this week and next. Regular posts will return on Thursday July 15th.

I thought this little breather might be a good moment to talk about about my writing process and what the plans are for the rest of the series.

How I Do This

Something that I should probably have been making more clear all along is that I am not writing these articles in real-time! The series originated back in late 2019 as a thought experiment, and I started writing for real around the time the pandemic hit. Around that same time I started a long-term contracting gig at fifty percent time, and since Covid had killed so much of my socializing—and staying busy is a big part of how I stave off depression—I started pumping nearly all my non-work time into the series. Essentially, it became a full-time job on top of my contracting work, and has stayed that way for well over a year.

I’ve had an incredibly privileged 18 months, all things considered, without health issues, housing insecurity, dependents to take care of, or other major distractions. I’ve certainly only been able to do this series because of that! Even so, averaging one article every two weeks to my own personal standards of perfectionism has been—let’s just call it a slog, shall we? Other aspects of my life have definitely suffered or been put on hold, and as much fun as I’ve had writing the series, I’m starting to really look forward to being finished once that last article is written—hopefully, sometime before the last week in December!

All this is to say that if anyone out there is feeling down on themselves for not being as productive as me, for the love of God please don’t. I have so many extenuating circumstances and even then I’ve absolutely been pushing myself too hard.

I should also note that choosing the games for the series was one of the first things I did, and it was a hugely complicated balancing act considering all kinds of factors, with the overall aim of finding the best fifty colors to paint a story of (my take on) text games as a medium. So while I appreciate the enthusiasm of folks who’ve requested, begged, pleaded, or threatened me to cover particular games—yes, I have received threats—more than once!—that ship has sailed.

I want to also note that this series isn’t really a history of text games, definitive or otherwise: it’s more like an idiosyncratic walking tour of a favorite neighborhood, leaving out a lot of destinations you might put on an official travel guide in favor of taking a peek into some interesting out-of-the-way corners. Is Silverwolf one of the fifty most important text games of all time? No: but damn, it was a fun bit of history to explore. Is Trinity one of the most influential interactive fictions ever written, and one of my personal favorites? Absolutely: but there wasn’t quite a place for it on this particular tour.

The Rest of the Series and The Book

Yes, there are twenty-five more fascinating games to talk about: we’ll hit 1996 next and are on track to finish up with 2020 in the last week of December.

Those of you who joined after launch may have missed that I do plan to compile all these articles into a book once the series is finished. Originally I was planning to do a Kickstarter campaign in the fall, but I’m getting wary about the notion of finishing the rest of the articles while simultaneously crowdfunding, so it might have to wait until early next year. I’m very excited about the book and have plans to make it something really special. Stay tuned!

A few folks have asked if I’m going to keep up the series after the end of the year. I think the answer is almost certainly no—I’ll be ready for an extended break by that point, I think!—but I might keep the Substack around for occasional posts going forward, probably shorter ones. But no firm plans yet.

Supporting the Series

Some folks have told me they’d like to support the series, but are unclear how Substack’s paid subscription option works. It’s a direct subscription to this series specifically (not Substack generally). If you’re already a free subscriber, you can upgrade to paid from your Account page. The subscription is $7/month (about a buck fifty per article) and I get roughly 85% of that directly after fees. There’s no minimum subscription period so it’s fine to cancel any time.

Substack also offers an annual subscription option, but I don’t necessarily recommend that any more unless you’re feeling especially generous, since it’s a year-long year series and the year is half over!

Another option will be to wait for the crowdfunding campaign for the book and become a backer then. Plans are still in flux but I’m hoping to offer both a standard softcover and a more deluxe hardcover edition.

Finally, sharing your favorite articles on social media and via word of mouth is also extremely helpful: it helps me grow this audience so I can ensure the eventual crowdfunding campaign is a big success!


That’s it for now. Thanks for being a reader of this series: all of your generous comments, feedback, likes and re-shares, and discussion has been wonderful to see and really keeps me going. Hope you’re enjoying your summer and see you again in a few weeks!

—Aaron