"It might be easier to stick to that [no hints] promise once you've laid down some cash on it. Just a thought. It's up to you."
- Zarfhome Software's answer to a Frequently Asked Question about the $35 Solo Promise Certificate DLC for its Hadean Lands adventure game.
After years of development and release across various platforms, this is the week that interactive fiction game developer and advocate Andrew Plotkin brought his Kickstarted IF adventure game Hadean Lands to Steam.
But what's more interesting than the $12 Hadean Lands, from a developer's perspective, is (as Eurogamer notes) the $35 "Solo Adventurer Pledge Certificate" DLC Plotkin is selling on Steam alongside the game.
As advertised, it's a .PDF (or a .JPEG) of a certificate affirming a pledge to "complete the game....entirely of my own natural wit and skill, without recourse to any hint, guide, walkthrough, or other source of information" that customers can print out and sign (there's also an optional spot for a witness to sign off on the pledge.)
It's a nice way to poke fun at players' capacity to ehance (or ruin) games for themselves, and the DLC's description earnestly lays out what's at stake when someone pays for the certificate:
"I'm sure you have questions:
- The DLC is just a certificate? Really?
- Yes. You get the certificate in PDF format and, what the heck, I'll throw in a JPEG too.
- Does it unlock new puzzles or rooms or other game content?
- Nope. Just a certificate.
- Look in the Certificate folder in the game directory.
- I don't need to buy your silly certificate! I can just make that promise for free!
- Absolutely. But... it might be easier to stick to that promise once you've laid down some cash on it. Just a thought. It's up to you.
- You can't stop me from looking at hints anyhow!
- Yes, that's true. It's between you and your game-playing conscience.
- What if I get really, REALLY stuck?
- You'll have to decide that for yourself. Maybe you could work on the puzzle with a friend.
- You can't be serious about this.
- I assure you, I have never been more serious in my life."
Hadean Lands has long been available on other platforms, including iOS, though the Pledge Certificate DLC is unique to the Steam release.
Plotkin himself has been writing (and writing about) interactive fiction for some time, and started testing the waters of paid interactive fiction games on mobile back in 2013 with his iOS IF game Shade.