5 Things I Hate About IFComp Games

13 views
Skip to first unread message

James Mitchelhill

unread,
Aug 15, 2006, 5:12:05 PM8/15/06
to
As IFComp season fast approaches (faster for those actually working on
games, I'd imagine), I've compiled a helpful little list of the five
things that are most likely to send games spiralling into a pit of
snarky reviews. I suppose this list is inspired by a vague and probably
vain hope that this might reduce the number of games I'll hate in
October. It's far from exclusive, but hell, it's a good start.

In reverse order then:


5. Underimplementation

If >X ME returns the default response for whatever platform you're
using, then you've underimplemented. If I try to examine any noun
mentioned in a room description and it tells me no such thing exists,
then you've underimplemented. If I can pick up an egg-whisk, and yet
have to >PUT WHISK IN EGGS. TURN WHISK then you've underimplemented.

Solution: Don't be lazy. Implement everything you can think of. Then
think harder and start again.


4. Not proofreading.

I can handle the occasional typo and spelling error. I can even handle
misplaced apostrophes every now and then. Not excessive amounts of them,
I'll be reasonably happy if you've made an effort. But I become deeply
annoyed if any of these things happen in the first screenful of text. If
you can't be bothered to proofread even this much, then I probably can't
be bothered to find anything good to say about your game.

Solution: Proofread.


3. Making excuses for your game.

The purpose of an ABOUT section, or preable should be to tell the player
about your game, not to express your own low opinion of it. If you tell
me your game isn't very good, then I'll be only too happy to agree and
move on to a game written by someone who actually thinks I'll enjoy
their work.

Nor do I care if you're a first time entrant to the competition. Hell, I
don't even care if you only began learning Inform a couple of weeks
before the deadline. There aren't my problems. Trying to make me feel
sorry for you and your game won't work. I'll freely take it as an open
invitation to eviscerate your game in reviews.

Solution: Have some confidence in your game. If you don't have any, then
don't enter.


2. Inflicting your overblown angst on players.

Every damn year there's one or two games that are evidently the product
of some awful, tragic, terrible, tragic, heartbreaking, tragic tragedy
that befell the author. The tragedies involved are generally on the
level of "I love her so much, but that fucking whore broke up with me,
why can't the bitch realise how much I care?!" Such melodramatic
effluvia, usually presented in the form of a transparent allegory, are
hugely dull. The IFComp judges are not your therapy group.

Solution: Channel your angst into something useful.


1. Overwriting

This one's probably just me, alone and gibbering in the darkness. Past
results have shown that a fairly large segment of the voters have zero
literary appreciation. Seriously, these are people who think Jim Theis
was an unsung genius. If you write badly, but with enough confidence you
can actually fool people into thinking you're writing well. But please
don't.

I don't mind servicable prose. If you're not going for a literary game,
then that's fine by me. But if you're writing a game where your prose
forms a large part of the experience, don't try to convince the reader
how great a writer you are. Specifically, don't show off your amazing
vocabulary for no good reason. Your astounding knowledge and/or
ownership of a thesaurus does not impress me. Words have subtle shades
of meaning and your immature posturing has the same effect to the
fragile structure of prose that a monster truck has to the fragile and
brittle limbs of an elderly grandmother.

Solution: Become comfortable with your own writing style.

--
James Mitchelhill
ja...@disorderfeed.net
http://disorderfeed.net

_Felix

unread,
Aug 15, 2006, 6:06:57 PM8/15/06
to
I like the way you made a typo right after the bit about proofreading,
and then used a really turgid simile on the end of the bit about
overwriting.

David Whyld

unread,
Aug 15, 2006, 6:38:50 PM8/15/06
to

Pity he didn't type this on a forum. He could have edited the post. :)


Okay. I'm done with the newsgroup bashing for now.

James Mitchelhill

unread,
Aug 15, 2006, 6:41:11 PM8/15/06
to

You're familiar with the use of irony then?

(I also enjoyed the way your reply failed to quote any text. Solution:
Learn to use google groups properly if you're going to use it at all.)

_Felix

unread,
Aug 15, 2006, 7:32:28 PM8/15/06
to
I'll "quote any text" you in a minute. In the face. Twice.

Jim Aikin

unread,
Aug 15, 2006, 7:40:26 PM8/15/06
to
> I'll "quote any text" you in a minute. In the face. Twice.

Now, now, boys.

Leaving aside the flames, I suspect James is making some valid points. I've
never judged a comp. Maybe I should put myself on the firing line this
year....

I tend to download and try out only longer games, not comp-length games, so
I haven't seen a lot of overwriting, but I can see that it's likely to be a
temptation for the author. Writing well is hard work -- and harder still
when you can't control the order in which your readers will encounter the
paragraphs!

--JA


Paul E Collins

unread,
Aug 15, 2006, 7:44:57 PM8/15/06
to
James Mitchelhill wrote:

> I can even handle misplaced apostrophes every now

> and then. Not excessive amounts of them, [...]

Perhaps double-check your grammar before you write a grammar rant that
refers to "amounts of apostrophes".

Eq.


James Mitchelhill

unread,
Aug 15, 2006, 8:22:43 PM8/15/06
to

You can't have been on usenet long if you think that was a grammar rant,
though your evident pedantry belies this.

Saying people should proofread their games before submitting them to a
competition that invites judgement and criticism is hardly the most
controversial statement of the year. It's hardly ranting if I'm saying
that I don't mind the occasional mistake so long as there's been some
effort put in. There's no contradiction between me wanting to see decent
grammar and spelling in IFComp games and not having perfect grammar in a
completely different medium, outside of the expectation of formal
judgement and criticism.

The grammar error you seem to be referring to above isn't, by the way. I
was writing in a conversational mode and have elided a conjunction,
thereby forming a run-on sentence that would be incorrect in a formal
mode, but is common in informal speech and writing.

Taz

unread,
Aug 15, 2006, 8:40:10 PM8/15/06
to

And it is VERY tempting to write more than you need. When I did short
story writing at Uni I would usually cut my works a LOT in proofreading
stage - I tend to get carried away and suffer from 'over-writing' though
I prefer sparser text.

James Mitchelhill

unread,
Aug 15, 2006, 8:41:50 PM8/15/06
to
On Tue, 15 Aug 2006 23:40:26 GMT, Jim Aikin wrote:

> Now, now, boys.
>
> Leaving aside the flames, I suspect James is making some valid points. I've
> never judged a comp. Maybe I should put myself on the firing line this
> year....
>
> I tend to download and try out only longer games, not comp-length games, so
> I haven't seen a lot of overwriting, but I can see that it's likely to be a
> temptation for the author. Writing well is hard work -- and harder still
> when you can't control the order in which your readers will encounter the
> paragraphs!

The best example (and worst offender) from last year's comp was
_Unforgotten_, which included phrases like:

"Throughout the journey, you get execrated glares from Zed."

"A flash of loud whiteness followed by a phantasmagoric sequence of
memories. Then it all fades..."

"Shepherd's Rock didn't cartographically exist."

I was particularly bitter about this because it ended up placing 7th,
which was higher than my favourite game of that year. It particularly
annoys me because it's not simply bad: It's what you get when a bad
writer self-consciously tries to impress everyone with how clever they
are. Unfortunately, quite a lot of people seem to be fooled by this kind
of thing.

Poster

unread,
Aug 15, 2006, 9:35:23 PM8/15/06
to

Critiquing the writer's use of apostrophes does not refute his point
that games should be proofread. To even suggest that it does is a crime
against logic and rhetoric.

First, it was a post. A game is not a post. A game takes much more
thought than even a good post. You are comparing apples and oranges.

Second, his point was widespread abuse of grammar is grating in a game.
One apostrophe does not widespread abuse make.

Third, his post was not a grammar rant. Grammar was one point out of five.

Fourth, the ad hominem nature of the reply takes the sanctimonious angle
that any who criticize must be without stain. It's a dodge that avoids
the logical points of arguments entirely. That reasoning is the refuge
of scoundrels, who having no way to counter the argument, yet feeling
that they must say something, lob stinky eggs of vapid nonsense at critics.

-- Poster

www.intaligo.com Building, INFORM, Seasons (upcoming!)

David Fisher

unread,
Aug 15, 2006, 10:08:21 PM8/15/06
to
"James Mitchelhill" <ja...@disorderfeed.net> wrote in message
news:1sgvqozze973z$.yyp9hhpf3ver.dlg@40tude.net...

> As IFComp season fast approaches (faster for those actually working on
> games, I'd imagine), I've compiled a helpful little list of the five
> things that are most likely to send games spiralling into a pit of
> snarky reviews. I suppose this list is inspired by a vague and probably
> vain hope that this might reduce the number of games I'll hate in
> October. It's far from exclusive, but hell, it's a good start.
>
> In reverse order then:
>
> 5. Underimplementation
> 4. Not proofreading.

> 3. Making excuses for your game.
> 2. Inflicting your overblown angst on players.
> 1. Overwriting

What are you favourite five things about comp games (ie. what would you give
a high score to for an IF comp game) ?

David Fisher


James Mitchelhill

unread,
Aug 15, 2006, 10:24:15 PM8/15/06
to
On Tue, 15 Aug 2006 21:35:23 -0400, Poster wrote:

> Paul E Collins wrote:
>> James Mitchelhill wrote:
>>
>>> I can even handle misplaced apostrophes every now
>>> and then. Not excessive amounts of them, [...]
>>
>> Perhaps double-check your grammar before you write a grammar rant that
>> refers to "amounts of apostrophes".
>

> Critiquing the writer's use of apostrophes does not refute his point
> that games should be proofread. To even suggest that it does is a crime
> against logic and rhetoric.

<snip>

Hang on, I've just realised what his actual problem is with my grammar.
I thought earlier he was complaining about the fact that the comma at
the end of the quoted section led into a run-on sentence, but that's not
what he's complaining about at all.

I think he's trying to say that I should have said "numbers of
apostrophes" rather than "amounts of apostrophes", because, as we all
know, you should use "numbers" when referring to discrete, countable
objects and "amounts" when referring to things that cannot be
quantified.

Of course, there's very few people who still care about this distinction
(which has been collapsing over the last few decades, probably longer).
At this point the only people who care are prescriptivists who can't
deal with the fact that language changes over time and what was once an
error has become mainstream usage.

Nevertheless, I hang my head in shame.

Taz

unread,
Aug 15, 2006, 10:27:32 PM8/15/06
to

Hehe - well posted.

I for one found the comments useful, and all 5 are things I will be
checking for in my games.

_Felix

unread,
Aug 15, 2006, 10:37:17 PM8/15/06
to

> Fourth, the ad hominem nature of the reply takes the sanctimonious angle
> that any who criticize must be without stain. It's a dodge that avoids
> the logical points of arguments entirely. That reasoning is the refuge
> of scoundrels, who having no way to counter the argument, yet feeling
> that they must say something, lob stinky eggs of vapid nonsense at critics.

A perceptive and original point. You need to take a stand against this
kind of behaviour, and prevent it from happening again on the internet.

Taz

unread,
Aug 15, 2006, 10:40:57 PM8/15/06
to

*lobs stinky egg*

_Felix

unread,
Aug 15, 2006, 10:46:48 PM8/15/06
to

> *lobs stinky egg*

*cracks*
*bathes*

James Mitchelhill

unread,
Aug 15, 2006, 10:58:13 PM8/15/06
to

That's a more difficult question. It's easy to point out the things that
will lose marks, because they're concrete. Competent games that don't
have anything else to offer get scores around 5 or 6 from me. The things
that get my really high scores are a little more abstract.

In no particular order:

Emotional involvement. The game has made me care about the seeing the
situation resolved.

Depth of implementation. Experiencing a well made piece of art is
enjoyable. It's like looking at a photograph where the longer you look,
the more detail you see and the more inferences you can draw.

Complexity. If it's not something that I'll be pondering over the next
few days or weeks, then it's probably not worth a high score. I want a
game to make me think. It doesn't need to present moral conundrums, it
just has to have involved me enough and provided enough depth to let me
consider the way it relates to itself.

Good writing. The writing skills to carry all all these off. Not
necessarily literary writing, but appropriate for the task.

These aren't things that are easy to do, and the techniques of achieving
them in IF are still being explored, but any game that does is certain
to get really high scores from me.

Adam Thornton

unread,
Aug 15, 2006, 11:15:48 PM8/15/06
to
In article <12e4vdn...@corp.supernews.com>,

David Fisher <da...@hsa.com.au> wrote:
>What are you favourite five things about comp games (ie. what would you give
>a high score to for an IF comp game) ?

5) Cheap roadside intertextuality
4) Polymorphous Perversity. Preferably Operator-overloading
polymorphous perversity.
3) Variegated mimesis
2) Space Moose
1) The goatse guy

Adam

Paul E Collins

unread,
Aug 16, 2006, 1:44:00 AM8/16/06
to
James Mitchelhill wrote:

> You can't have been on usenet long if you think that
> was a grammar rant, though your evident pedantry
> belies this.

Okay, consider me shedding tears that I "haven't been on Usenet long".

Eq.


Taz

unread,
Aug 16, 2006, 2:22:41 AM8/16/06
to


I think he's trolling. What you wrote was fine in context James. A
once off post (which is uneditable) is not at all related to a post.
I'm sure he realised that...

and doesn't care =(

Jim Aikin

unread,
Aug 16, 2006, 2:45:56 AM8/16/06
to
>>> I can even handle misplaced apostrophes every now
>>> and then. Not excessive amounts of them, [...]
>>
>> Perhaps double-check your grammar before you write a grammar rant that
>> refers to "amounts of apostrophes".
>
> The grammar error you seem to be referring to above isn't, by the way. I
> was writing in a conversational mode and have elided a conjunction,
> thereby forming a run-on sentence that would be incorrect in a formal
> mode, but is common in informal speech and writing.

Three points for knowing what an elision is. But you're docked three points
for not knowing that you should have said "numbers," not "amounts."
"Amounts" is generally used to refer to quantities such as liquid, which are
not countable. "Numbers" is preferred when the objects in question can be
counted.

People often say "less" when they mean "fewer." Same problem.

--Jim (yes, I'm a professional editor) Aikin


Taz

unread,
Aug 16, 2006, 2:49:29 AM8/16/06
to

Read down dude - he caught it.

Haha - you wouldn't be an ex-NOVA teacher would you? When I taught in
Japan that was made a big deal of count vs non-count usage - but tbh in
conversational English it doesn't really matter.

Paul E Collins

unread,
Aug 16, 2006, 3:19:24 AM8/16/06
to
Taz wrote:

> I think he's trolling.

I'm not remotely trolling, and suspect you're just using that word to
mean "expressing an unpopular opinion" rather than, say, "setting out
to make trouble", which I quite clearly wasn't doing. I just get
vaguely annoyed when somebody complains about grammar using incorrect
grammar. I'm also quite aware of the prescriptivist - descriptivist
distinction, but the latter can let anything slide. It's not a big
deal. It was just a comment along the lines of, "If you know what the
person is saying, don't pick holes in the presentation."

I also hate mobile-phone-speak and what not, so I'm on fairly shaky
ground - and of course I wasn't replying to the entire original post,
which made some perfectly good and valid points - but that one rather
overweening attitude just got on my nerves. Perhaps that'll explain
things a little, however indefensible you folks seem to consider my
position.

Eq.


James Jolley

unread,
Aug 16, 2006, 3:42:00 AM8/16/06
to
Hi,

Some of us aren't using google groups, we're using a newsreader. In my
case I use something called Gravity because it's accessible to the blind
user.

I found your posting rather extreme to say the least. Judging by it,
nobody would enter a game at all. New authors, and yes I include myself
will of course make mistakes. Issues of proofreading are made slightly
more difficult for the blind user in any case. Also, you mention that
you don't like under-implementation. I can see your point but you can
take implementation to extremes can't you?

I haven't included any of your post but I will if I can sit down to it
and comment on each point, provided I have the time, <grin>.

Best

-James-


----== Posted via Newsgroups.com - Usenet Access to over 100,000 Newsgroups ==----
Get Anonymous, Uncensored, Access to West and East Coast Server Farms at!
----== Highest Retention and Completion Rates! HTTP://WWW.NEWSGROUPS.COM ==----

Timofei Shatrov

unread,
Aug 16, 2006, 3:57:22 AM8/16/06
to
On 15 Aug 2006 15:38:50 -0700, "David Whyld" <dwh...@gmail.com> tried to
confuse everyone with this message:

>
>_Felix wrote:
>> I like the way you made a typo right after the bit about proofreading,
>> and then used a really turgid simile on the end of the bit about
>> overwriting.
>
>Pity he didn't type this on a forum. He could have edited the post. :)
>

Pity? I think it's GOOD that he can't hide that he messed up!

--
|Don't believe this - you're not worthless ,gr---------.ru
|It's us against millions and we can't take them all... | ue il |
|But we can take them on! | @ma |
| (A Wilhelm Scream - The Rip) |______________|

David Whyld

unread,
Aug 16, 2006, 4:02:11 AM8/16/06
to

Timofei Shatrov wrote:
> >
> >Pity he didn't type this on a forum. He could have edited the post. :)
> >
>
> Pity? I think it's GOOD that he can't hide that he messed up!
>
> --
> |Don't believe this - you're not worthless ,gr---------.ru
> |It's us against millions and we can't take them all... | ue il |
> |But we can take them on! | @ma |
> | (A Wilhelm Scream - The Rip) |______________|


Ah yes, his embarrassment is there now for all to see. Forerver. And
ever. And ever. Etc, etc, etc. :)

Mike Robinson

unread,
Aug 16, 2006, 5:20:40 AM8/16/06
to
On Wed, 16 Aug 2006 08:42:00 +0100, James Jolley wrote:

> Issues of proofreading are made slightly
> more difficult for the blind user in any case.

I hope every author will have their work proofread by a third party. It's
hard to spot your own mistakes even with perfect vision.

Taz

unread,
Aug 16, 2006, 5:28:02 AM8/16/06
to

I'm sorry.

I got the wrong idea from the short initial post. You seemed to be
picking out something divicive and running with it. I guess it *was* an
offensive point because it offended you - and you have every right to
call someone on something that offended you. I had no right to make
that comment =/

Neil Cerutti

unread,
Aug 16, 2006, 7:47:26 AM8/16/06
to
On 2006-08-16, James Mitchelhill <ja...@disorderfeed.net> wrote:
> I think he's trying to say that I should have said "numbers of
> apostrophes" rather than "amounts of apostrophes", because, as
> we all know, you should use "numbers" when referring to
> discrete, countable objects and "amounts" when referring to
> things that cannot be quantified.
>
> Of course, there's very few people who still care about this
> distinction (which has been collapsing over the last few
> decades, probably longer). At this point the only people who
> care are prescriptivists who can't deal with the fact that
> language changes over time and what was once an error has
> become mainstream usage.

Hannaford's Market near my home town has express lanes for "15
items or fewer." I love those signs, although I decry the express
lane's limitation inflation to 15 items.

--
Neil Cerutti
The concert held in Fellowship Hall was a great success. Special
thanks are due to the minister's daughter, who labored the whole
evening at the piano, which as usual fell upon her. --Church
Bulletin Blooper

Jason Orendorff

unread,
Aug 16, 2006, 1:31:22 PM8/16/06
to
I have never voted in a competition, but here are some other things I
dislike.

- Humor that doesn't work. Solution: None. Unless you magically know
when you're being unfunny, your options are: (a) omit all humor (b)
take a chance.

- Getting stuck on puzzles. Solution: None. This is, itself, an
unfair puzzle. Thoughtful, progressive in-world hinting helps.

- Getting stuck on puzzles that turn out to be red herrings. One of
the best competition games of all time did this to me. [rant omitted]
Solution: Don't be a jerk.

I'll add that the response "well then name 5 things you like" misses a
crucial point. To avoid alienating me, a game really has to avoid
*all* the mistakes, especially the common ones. Hence the value of
listing them. By contrast, to blow me away, a game only really has to
do one thing really well. But a different one thing for every game.

I could list the things I love about "Spider and Web", and you could
read the list and nod, but it won't make your next competition piece
any better.

-j

James Mitchelhill

unread,
Aug 16, 2006, 2:37:05 PM8/16/06
to
On Wed, 16 Aug 2006 08:42:00 +0100, James Jolley wrote:

> Hi,
>
> Some of us aren't using google groups, we're using a newsreader. In my
> case I use something called Gravity because it's accessible to the blind
> user.
>
> I found your posting rather extreme to say the least. Judging by it,
> nobody would enter a game at all. New authors, and yes I include myself
> will of course make mistakes. Issues of proofreading are made slightly
> more difficult for the blind user in any case. Also, you mention that
> you don't like under-implementation. I can see your point but you can
> take implementation to extremes can't you?

New authors are great and I wouldn't discourage anyone from entering the
competition simply because they're new. Lots of first time authors have
done extremely well in the comp, and even if your first game gets
nowhere, you'll still get more feedback than anywhere else.

Doing well in the comp isn't even the same as writing a good game.
Consider Andrew Plotkin's _Shade_, which did badly in terms of votes,
but has been a talking point and perennial favourite ever since.

The things I've mentioned aren't hard to fix. And they really will cause
vitriol from reviewers (or at least, this one reviewer).

James Mitchelhill

unread,
Aug 16, 2006, 2:46:06 PM8/16/06
to
On 16 Aug 2006 10:31:22 -0700, Jason Orendorff wrote:

> I have never voted in a competition, but here are some other things I
> dislike.
>
> - Humor that doesn't work. Solution: None. Unless you magically know
> when you're being unfunny, your options are: (a) omit all humor (b)
> take a chance.

The trouble is, almost anyone's humour will seem like unfunny garbage to
*someone* else. (And conversely, the worst humour in the world will be
someone's comedic genius).

Personally, I hate lazy humour. Giving things wacky names isn't funny of
itself.

> - Getting stuck on puzzles. Solution: None. This is, itself, an
> unfair puzzle. Thoughtful, progressive in-world hinting helps.

Getting stuck on puzzles and omiting hints will hurt a game's score, but
this isn't the same thing as being a bad game. My favourite game in the
last comp had no hints and I got stuck often. But this made getting
unstuck and progressing all by myself much more rewarding. A lot of
people just quit, though.

> - Getting stuck on puzzles that turn out to be red herrings. One of
> the best competition games of all time did this to me. [rant omitted]
> Solution: Don't be a jerk.

This is annoying though.

knight37

unread,
Aug 16, 2006, 4:16:45 PM8/16/06
to

David Fisher wrote:
> > In reverse order then:
> >
> > 5. Underimplementation
> > 4. Not proofreading.
> > 3. Making excuses for your game.
> > 2. Inflicting your overblown angst on players.
> > 1. Overwriting
>
> What are you favourite five things about comp games (ie. what would you give
> a high score to for an IF comp game) ?

5. A thief that steals my lewt!
4. Logic puzzles that aren't!
3. Whiney NPCs! I just can't get enough of them.
2. Mazes!
1. DRAGONS!

And whatever you do, do NOT include:

5. Gratuitous sex.
4. Gratuitous violence.
3. Adult themes.
2. Nudity. In Ascii.
1. XYZZY

Thanks.

Mantar, Feyelno nek dusa

unread,
Aug 16, 2006, 5:19:42 PM8/16/06
to
On Wed, 16 Aug 2006 01:41:50 +0100, James Mitchelhill wrote:

> "Throughout the journey, you get execrated glares from Zed."

DAMN those glares!

> "Shepherd's Rock didn't cartographically exist."

This is the most amazingly cool phrase I've heard this week. I'm going
to insert this randomly into my conversations from now on. "Well, you may
be right, but..."

--
- Mantar --- Drop YourPantiesSirWilliam to email me.

Giles

unread,
Aug 16, 2006, 7:01:54 PM8/16/06
to

Mantar, Feyelno nek dusa wrote:
> On Wed, 16 Aug 2006 01:41:50 +0100, James Mitchelhill wrote:
>
> > "Throughout the journey, you get execrated glares from Zed."
>
> DAMN those glares!
>
> > "Shepherd's Rock didn't cartographically exist."
>
> This is the most amazingly cool phrase I've heard this week. I'm going
> to insert this randomly into my conversations from now on. "Well, you may
> be right, but..."

I have to admit, I quite liked it as well. It's the old "didn't exist
on any map" only avoiding the cliche.

Perhaps the sixth solution would to remember you can't please everyone,
but you'll probably please a few, which makes it at least worth the
effort.

James Mitchelhill

unread,
Aug 16, 2006, 7:26:05 PM8/16/06
to
On 16 Aug 2006 16:01:54 -0700, Giles wrote:

> Mantar, Feyelno nek dusa wrote:
>> On Wed, 16 Aug 2006 01:41:50 +0100, James Mitchelhill wrote:
>>
>>> "Throughout the journey, you get execrated glares from Zed."
>>
>> DAMN those glares!
>>
>>> "Shepherd's Rock didn't cartographically exist."
>>
>> This is the most amazingly cool phrase I've heard this week. I'm going
>> to insert this randomly into my conversations from now on. "Well, you may
>> be right, but..."
>
> I have to admit, I quite liked it as well. It's the old "didn't exist
> on any map" only avoiding the cliche.

The cliche is in the idea, not the exact wording of the phrase. So the
above phrase keeps the cliche, while rendering it in stilted, jarring
prose.

Dan Shiovitz

unread,
Aug 17, 2006, 1:26:04 AM8/17/06
to
In article <12e4vdn...@corp.supernews.com>,
David Fisher <da...@hsa.com.au> wrote:
[..]

>What are you favourite five things about comp games (ie. what would you give
>a high score to for an IF comp game) ?

I wouldn't mind seeing this subject get a little more attention. As
other people have said, there are a lot of games that fail due to lack
of attention to good craftsmanship, but there are also plenty of games
that fail due to just being uninspired or wishy-washy. It's the
authors of the second kind of game who need to see the lists of things
we like about comp games, so they can remember what they're supposed
to be shooting for.

So here's my five things I like to see in a game:

1) The game knows what kind of game it is, and it's that kind of game
to the max.

If this is a puzzle game, I want a lot of puzzles and I want
challenging puzzles and I want original puzzles. If it's a game
about interacting with characters I want verbs tuned to the kind of
interaction the game is about and where interacting with characters
is the main thing to do. If it's a game about exploration or
mystery I want lots of cool little secret things and clues to find,
stuff to ferret out and piece together. Whatever it does, I want it
to do it well and do a lot of it.

2) The player can participate meaningfully in the game.

... and isn't there just to read the author's carefully-written
backstory. Games like Whom The Telling Changed are awesome because
they let you make a real difference in what's going on. Even games
with a linear story can qualify here if the protagonist has an
important role in the story and gets to do stuff, not just flash
back to stuff someone else did.

3) The game has something original to show me.

With puzzle games, I look for new puzzle tricks. With other games,
maybe a new setting, an unusual protagonist, a cool machine to play
with, an unusual genre, a new magic system, a new conversation
system, a new anything, as long as it's a real part of the game.

4) The game's got some twists to it.

Puzzles, naturally, come with their own twists. Stories do too, I
hope, and note that I don't just want a twist at the very end of
the game, I want another one or two twists along the way.

5) If there's a toilet in the game, it should support >FLUSH TOILET.

I think this is something all right-thinking people can agree with
as being in the top five.

>David Fisher
--
Dan Shiovitz :: d...@cs.wisc.edu :: http://www.drizzle.com/~dans
"He settled down to dictate a letter to the Consolidated Nailfile and
Eyebrow Tweezer Corporation of Scranton, Pa., which would make them
realize that life is stern and earnest and Nailfile and Eyebrow Tweezer
Corporations are not put in this world for pleasure alone." -PGW


Neil Cerutti

unread,
Aug 17, 2006, 8:06:42 AM8/17/06
to
On 2006-08-16, Giles <gbo...@paradise.net.nz> wrote:
>
> Mantar, Feyelno nek dusa wrote:
>> On Wed, 16 Aug 2006 01:41:50 +0100, James Mitchelhill wrote:
>>
>> > "Throughout the journey, you get execrated glares from Zed."
>>
>> DAMN those glares!
>>
>> > "Shepherd's Rock didn't cartographically exist."
>>
>> This is the most amazingly cool phrase I've heard this week. I'm going
>> to insert this randomly into my conversations from now on. "Well, you may
>> be right, but..."
>
> I have to admit, I quite liked it as well. It's the old
> "didn't exist on any map" only avoiding the cliche.

A cliche', paraphrased, is stil a cliche'. You can perambulate
with an equine to a basin of refreshment, but you can't compell
it to partake thereof.

> Perhaps the sixth solution would to remember you can't please
> everyone, but you'll probably please a few, which makes it at
> least worth the effort.

I agree. Inevitably, some players will not have a good experience
with your game.

--
Neil Cerutti

Michael Martin

unread,
Aug 17, 2006, 5:34:36 PM8/17/06
to
Dan Shiovitz wrote:
> 5) If there's a toilet in the game, it should support >FLUSH TOILET.
>
> I think this is something all right-thinking people can agree with
> as being in the top five.

Actually, that's #6. #5 is clearly that if there are kittens, > PET
KITTEN must work.

(To be slightly more serious, and to also not be making a one-line
reply, "if a prop of some kind has a useless but traditional action
associated with it, allow this useless but traditional action.")

--Michael

Dan Shiovitz

unread,
Aug 17, 2006, 6:27:05 PM8/17/06
to
In article <1155850476....@m73g2000cwd.googlegroups.com>,

Yeah, or if it's mentioned in the description of the object, it's a
nice touch to be able to do it (the LLP in Savoir-Faire, for
instance).

I had another item that I failed to mention, which I guess would be
#6: I like games that are dense.

I'd much rather play a game that has ten rooms you visit twice than
twenty rooms you visit once, or one key that unlocks multiple doors
instead of multiple keys that each unlock a single door. Although
there can be game design considerations either way, generally
speaking, fewer pieces that get reused more often make for a tighter
and stronger game. I love games where you revisit the same setting
over and over again and see how it changes over the course of time,
ideally as a result of your actions (City of Secrets has a nice bit
with these with the <spoiler> near the end), or games where you have
some magic whatsit that you can use a bunch of different ways, or a
character who plays a couple different roles.

>--Michael

Rachel H.

unread,
Aug 17, 2006, 8:01:16 PM8/17/06
to
>> 5) If there's a toilet in the game, it should support >FLUSH TOILET.
>>
>> I think this is something all right-thinking people can agree with
>> as being in the top five.

I find myself feeling inordinately proud that I spent time making all the
fixtures in my (in-game) bathroom function, even though only one of them is
"necessary."

Thanks to all for the tips on how to be a better IF writer....

Rachel


Knight37

unread,
Aug 17, 2006, 10:16:26 PM8/17/06
to
d...@cs.wisc.edu (Dan Shiovitz) once tried to test me with:

> 5) If there's a toilet in the game, it should support >FLUSH TOILET.
>
> I think this is something all right-thinking people can agree with
> as being in the top five.

Damn, you're spoiling my new event...


TOILETcomp!


--

Knight37 - http://knightgames.blogspot.com

Once a Gamer, Always a Gamer.

Erik Wennstrom

unread,
Aug 18, 2006, 1:24:38 AM8/18/06
to
Dan Shiovitz wrote:
> In article <12e4vdn...@corp.supernews.com>,
> David Fisher <da...@hsa.com.au> wrote:
> So here's my five things I like to see in a game:
[..]

> 5) If there's a toilet in the game, it should support >FLUSH TOILET.
>
> I think this is something all right-thinking people can agree with
> as being in the top five.
>
>>David Fisher

Ah, crap. I knew I forgot something. I even went through the trouble
of making the toilet usable in "No Famous," but I forgot "flush"! At
least this was on the "Five Things I Like To See" list, as opposed to
its negation being on the "Five Things I Hate To See" list.

Erik

JDC

unread,
Aug 18, 2006, 2:16:06 AM8/18/06
to

Erik Wennstrom wrote:
>
> Ah, crap. I knew I forgot something. I even went through the trouble
> of making the toilet usable in "No Famous," but I forgot "flush"! At
> least this was on the "Five Things I Like To See" list, as opposed to
> its negation being on the "Five Things I Hate To See" list.

I left out the toilet completely. After a paniced check, I see that I
did remember to implement "pet cat" (or is this only necessary for
kittens?).

-JDC

Adam Thornton

unread,
Aug 18, 2006, 2:23:07 AM8/18/06
to
>Actually, that's #6. #5 is clearly that if there are kittens, > PET
>KITTEN must work.

I am a little embarrassed that my WIP supports RUB PUSSY but not, in
fact, PET KITTEN. I'll fix that tonight or tomorrow.

Adam

James Jolley

unread,
Aug 18, 2006, 5:09:36 AM8/18/06
to
In article <ec2qfp$b0a$1...@cascadia.drizzle.com>, d...@cs.wisc.edu says...
Hi,

I agree. Games like AMFV would fall into that catagory for me.

--
All the best

Daphne Brinkerhoff

unread,
Aug 19, 2006, 11:05:42 AM8/19/06
to

Jason Orendorff wrote:
> I have never voted in a competition, but here are some other things I
> dislike.
> - Getting stuck on puzzles that turn out to be red herrings. One of
> the best competition games of all time did this to me. [rant omitted]
> Solution: Don't be a jerk.

Okay, okay, I've been curious so I'll bite: which game? I'm thinking
it probably wasn't Photopia (not that that is necessarily *the* best
competition game of all time, but it's one of the best, and the first
thing that came to my mind).

--
Daphne

Gene Wirchenko

unread,
Aug 20, 2006, 6:11:08 AM8/20/06
to
Neil Cerutti <hor...@yahoo.com> wrote:

[snip]

>Hannaford's Market near my home town has express lanes for "15
>items or fewer." I love those signs, although I decry the express
>lane's limitation inflation to 15 items.

I like it when the grammar is correct.

Shopping Tip: the non-express lines are often faster. A fair
amount of the time involved is the payment portion. That happens
regardless of the number of items. Some people will even let you go
ahead if you have only a few item. (Even without this, the
non-express lines are often faster.)

ObIF:
>watch customer ahead of you pay cashier
Time passes.

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko

Computerese Irregular Verb Conjugation:
I have preferences.
You have biases.
He/She has prejudices.

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages