In the thread developing on Inform 7 and TADS 3 over here, one of the things that is coming up is that VMs other than the z-machine are at a bit of a disadvantage attracting players, and thus at a disadvantage attracting authors who want to reach those players. (And, for that matter, that some of the tools themselves are better ported to Windows than to any other platform.)
I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to the question of how as a community we might fill in some of our most significant implementation gaps: better, multimedia-friendly TADS 3 interpreters on non-Windows machines, browser-based terps for both TADS 3 and Glulx, and so on. (Selfishly, I would also be pleased to see a TADS 3 Workbench that installed easily and ran natively under OS X. I7 is likely to remain my main language, but I would enjoy educating myself better about TADS 3; booting over to Windows is enough of an disruption of my other workflow, though, that in practice I never do that. I can’t call myself the primary audience for such a thing, but I think it would be great if one existed.)
In general my attitude towards such things is, “well, if you want X done, go do it” — but it would take me a long, long time to acquire the necessary skills to tackle any of these. And I recall that a while ago there was a movement to provide a bounty to the first person to write a satisfactory multimedia TADS 3 terp for the Mac, but to the best of my knowledge that never went anywhere.
I know that Textfyre is investing some money in developing IF tools, and that Dave Cornelson has suggested he intends to share some of the results of that with the community — but for the time being, anything he produces is likely to be entirely in the Glulx arena.
I also did briefly kick around the idea of a sort of inverse street-performer model: complete and test a sizable game, show it to a few people who could confirm that it existed, and then announce that the game would remain unreleased until (community programming task of choice) was finished. People who wanted to help but didn’t have technical skills could contribute cash to a fund to remunerate the programmer who did this. Buuuut I have serious reservations about that idea: one, it feels manipulative and egotistical and would likely produce some bad feeling the moment I announced it; two, it might fail, and produce more bad feeling later, if people did contribute and yet no volunteer stepped forward.
So I don’t know. My limited grasp of the theory of comparative advantage suggests that I should do what I know best, then convert the value of that activity into an incentive for someone else to do what they do efficiently — but I’m not really sure how to do the conversion. Possibly the problem is precisely that freeware games have no value, economically speaking.
It doesn’t help that I also don’t know how much time or specialist knowledge would have to go into any of these projects.