[Announce] IFDB

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Mike Roberts

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Oct 16, 2007, 11:03:41 PM10/16/07
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I've noticed over the years that one of the favorite activities on rgif is
offering lists of suggestions when someone asks a question like "what are
the best IF games for newbies?" or "what are your favorite mazes?". That
helpful spirit is great, but I've often thought it would be even better if
we could capture those occasional flurries of suggestions somewhere, so that
people can find them later. Sure, there's the Google archive, but I don't
think most people have the patience to sift through old rgif postings to
find game suggestions.

So I've been putting together a new web site designed around this idea. The
new site is called IFDB, for the Interactive Fiction Database, and it's
ready for use. You can find it at http://ifdb.tads.org.

(Despite the domain name, it's not a TADS-specific site - it's open to games
in all systems. It's just that ifdb.org wasn't available, and it was easy
to set up a subdomain.)

The site is very much in the "Web 2.0" mold - meaning it's all about
*community* content. When you look at it *today*, before people have
started using it, it's probably going to look like a Baf's Guide clone, and
you might wonder what the point is. But if you and other people start
adding to the site, in the ways I'll describe in a moment, it will quickly
become something rather different from anything else we have at the moment.

The real point of the site is person-to-person recommendations. It's not a
"top 10" scoreboard - we have a couple of those already, and they're
certainly good resources, but what they give you is a sort of community-wide
average opinion. It's also not a review site per se, although it does
include reviews among its features. Instead, the main thrust of the site is
to provide tools that let you recommend what *you* like, and then make it
easy for you to find the specific kinds of recommendations you're looking
for. If you've ever felt that your favorite games don't get enough
attention, you should like this site.

Some of the tools:

- Recommended Lists. This is the same idea as posting your favorite games
of type X to rgif, but now the list is stored where people can find it and
discover it. *You* decide the topic of your lists - you can create lists on
any topic, and you can create as many as you like. The entries on your
lists link directly to full information on each game, including download
instructions.

- Tags. You can tag a game (that is, associate a keyword with the game) to
let other people know that the game has some attribute that's interesting to
you - subject matter, style, whatever. You can search for games tagged with
a particular keyword.

- Reviews and ratings. This isn't exactly a new idea, but reviews on IFDB
are linked in lots of interesting ways. You can create a collection of your
reviews using tags, so that another user can easily see a list of all of the
reviews in the collection - for instance, you could create a collection of
your IF Comp 2007 reviews. When someone sees a review of yours that they
like, they can follow links to learn more about you via your profile, or to
see all of your other reviews. This is another important person-to-person
recommendation mechanism - it lets you find recommendations by finding a
reviewer you trust, and then looking to see what else they like.

IFDB is designed to reward browsing. It has a full catalog of games - each
game has its own page that collects the game's overview information,
download links, tags, reviews, and recommendations. IFDB automatically
finds Recommended Lists that include a game, and shows a selection of those
lists on the game's page; it also looks for people who gave the game a high
rating, and shows some other games that those same people also rated highly.
This lets you look for recommendations by starting with a game you like and
following links to related games. When you find a game on a list, or
mentioned in a review, you can go right to its catalog page to learn all
about it.

The catalog itself uses a Web 2.0 approach - any member can add and edit
game listings. This means that the catalog will stay as up to date as you
want it to - if you see an error, you can go right in and correct it; if
there's a game missing, you can add it. There's no need to wait for a sys
admin to get around to applying updates. I've pre-seeded the database with
listings from Baf's Guide - many thanks to Carl Muckenhoupt for providing
that - but if there's anything missing, you can add it whenever you want,
and you can edit any of the pre-seeded listings to flesh things out or
correct any errors.

By the way, you can upload "cover art" that's displayed in a game's listing,
for more visual appeal.

In addition to the Web-2.0 cataloging, and the recommendations tools, the
site has another lofty goal: to make it easier for newbies (and even
veterans) to download and install games. I spent a little while looking at
the FAQs and help sites and so on that we currently have, and I was a little
surprised - I've always thought the perennial complaints about IF's
newbie-hostility were exaggerated, but now I think they're not entirely
unjustified. There's a lot of terminology and other knowledge that we take
for granted, and while you can find answers with some digging, it's not
easy; you have to contend with a lot of outdated material and broken links.

So I've laid some groundwork that I'm hoping will, in time, solve this
problem. There's a tool on the site called the Download Adviser - it's
essentially an automated FAQ that cross-references the story-file type with
the interpreter and OS to generate custom download-and-install instructions,
all in a simple linear list, with direct links to all the needed software,
and with no buck-passing to FAQs. Every game's catalog page has a link that
lets you fire up the Download Adviser.

Now, I haven't yet populated the DLA database with every combination of
instructions. Part of my scheme, part of the reason I think this can
actually work in the long run and won't become just another outdated FAQ in
six months, is that the system is designed to distribute its maintenance
work to the proper individuals - the various experts for the various OSes
and development systems. I'm working on lining up the necessary talent to
cover all of the systems in active use, so if all goes well the DLA will
soon give reliable results for most games on most systems. Right now it
should give you good results for Z-code, glulx, TADS, and Hugo games on
Windows.

In addition to the DLA, there's an optional browser plug-in that can carry
out the installation instructions automatically. Right now it's available
for Windows for IE, Mozilla, Safari, and Opera; there's some work under way
for another popular OS, so there will be more to announce about that soon.
The Windows plug-in essentially gives you an automatic installer that works
for just about any IF system.

If you're on Windows and your browser appears to be compatible, the IFDB
home page will give you a pointer to the plug-in page; look in the top right
corner. If you install the Windows plug-in, each game's page will feature a
"Play Now" button - click the button, and the plug-in will fire up the game,
installing it on your system first if necessary, along with any necessary
interpreter software. It's not a new multi-format interpreter a la Gargoyle
or Zoom; it's just a simple program that knows how to find the installers
for the various single-format terps. I've found it to be surprisingly
convenient - being able to play the game you're browsing with one click is
actually really handy.

So, that's the 30,000-words-or-less overview :). I've tried to make the
site friendly, easy to navigate, and visually appealing, but the real point
is the community content. If people here start really using the site and
adding their recommendations and reviews, I think it'll become a great
resource. I think the integration of recommendations and easy downloads
will make it especially useful to newcomers. We're always looking for ways
to grow the community by removing some of the barriers to entry; this is my
whack at the problem.

For the moment I'm calling the site "beta," meaning that the feature set is
more or less complete, but that I expect there are still some bugs to be
found as people start using it. If you do run into any problems, please let
me know so I can fix them.

--Mike Roberts
mjr underscore at hotmail dot com

S. John Ross

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Oct 17, 2007, 2:17:21 AM10/17/07
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Groovy. I'm all there :)

I notice there's no (apparent) mechanism for star-rating a game
without also writing a review. Is this a feature to be added, or one
deliberately avoided?

For my own tastes, the weighted star-ratings of 100 users, without any
text or context, carries more weight for encouraging (or discouraging)
me than one or two full-length reviews (unless by chance I happen to
know the tastes of the reviewers in question very well) ... Though I
can certainly understand a desire to avoid ratings that haven't been
thought through.

Deathworks

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Oct 17, 2007, 4:59:34 AM10/17/07
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Hi!

Sounds interesting. There are two things I would like to know:

How does it support the Treaty of Babel? (I always like to have the
authors give some information about their games, which is why I like
the treaty)

There does not seem to be a feature for marking/separating adult
content. Personally, I think there are probably a number of people who
would not see adult content at all, so allowing filtering based on
this may be of interest. Considering that the data base itself is not
age restricted, at least having an easily visible content rating
warning implemented seems to be advisable.

Deathworks

Trajectory

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Oct 17, 2007, 6:18:07 AM10/17/07
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Great. This definitely fills a gap, I think.

The download adviser stuff sounds great, too. Coincidentally, I'd been
thinking about ways to automate the download of an appropriate
interpreter along with a gamefile, so that casual and curious browsers
are more likely to actually try playing a game, rather than giving up
the whole thing as more trouble than it's worth. The 1, 2, 3
instructions are a step in the right direction!

J. J. Guest

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Oct 17, 2007, 7:41:13 AM10/17/07
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Looks good! Will there be a way to link your profile to the games
you've authored? And will there be support for games that have more
than one development system (eg. Adrift / TADS / Spectrum)


Emily Short

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Oct 17, 2007, 1:36:47 PM10/17/07
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On Oct 16, 11:03 pm, "Mike Roberts" <m...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> So I've been putting together a new web site designed around this idea. The
> new site is called IFDB, for the Interactive Fiction Database, and it's
> ready for use. You can find it athttp://ifdb.tads.org.

Very cool.

I did notice an odd thing. If I go to add a bunch of games to a new
recommendation list and then IFDB can't locate one of those games, it
blanks out *all* the game names from the screen so that I have to
retype them. (To test this, try making a new recommendation list of, I
dunno, Photopia, Shade, and Sqrblz.)

The other point is more of a policy question: suppose I've written a
lengthy review of a game, longer than really seems to fit the IFBD
site. Is it reasonable to summarize that review and add a link to the
full version? Or would we prefer just the summary? Or am I misguided
in wanting to make these reviews pithy?

Anyway, it looks great overall. Thanks for all the work!

Mike Roberts

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Oct 17, 2007, 2:31:02 PM10/17/07
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"S. John Ross" <sj...@io.com> wrote:
> I notice there's no (apparent) mechanism for star-rating a game
> without also writing a review. Is this a feature to be added, or one
> deliberately avoided?

It was deliberate, although I'm not dead-set on it. My main goal with the
site was person-to-person recommendations rather than a community average,
since IF Ratings already does a good job of the latter. I thought another
top-10 scoreboard would be kind of redundant.

> For my own tastes, the weighted star-ratings of 100 users, without
> any text or context, carries more weight for encouraging (or
> discouraging) me than one or two full-length reviews (unless by
> chance I happen to know the tastes of the reviewers in question
> very well) ...

That sort of reviewer trust is just what I'm after, really. Not by chance,
though - by which I think you mean coming across a review on IFDB written by
someone you know from other, unrelated interactions. What I'm trying to do
is provide some tools for deliberately finding (or discovering) those other
reviewers you trust. I figure if each rating comes with some rationale in
the form of at least a brief review, you can get an idea of whether the
person giving that rating has anything in common with your taste, and then
you can go explore other reviews when you come across someone you tend to
agree with.

On the other hand, the site does have some collaborative filtering
capabilities, which can provide some of the person-to-person functionality
in the absence of reviews. And those benefit from a larger collection of
expressed preferences, so that's a point in favor of making it as easy as
possible to submit a rating. I tend to trust the "human filtering" you get
via reviews more than the mechanical kind, but it's certainly more work to
write a review than to enter a star rating.

What do other people think?

Mike Roberts

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Oct 17, 2007, 2:54:01 PM10/17/07
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"Deathworks" <marun...@yahoo.co.jp> wrote:
> How does it support the Treaty of Babel?

It's not really related, although the fields for a game record map pretty
directly to the iFiction fields. And you can store the IFIDs for a game,
and search by IFID - this universal identification mechanism is really one
of the key elements of Babel, since it lets unrelated programs on a network
positively identify games.

I've been thinking about what to do with iFiction records. I'll probably at
least make it possible to upload an iFiction record to pre-populate the
create-game form, and at some point I might provide an option to serve a
game record as a pro forma iFiction record (pro forma in that it wouldn't be
a true iFiction record, but rather an IFDB listing in the form of an
iFiction record; the difference is that an iFiction record comes from a
game's author, whereas IFDB listings are community content that can be
edited by many people). I don't intend to store actual iFiction records,
though; I think it would be too confusing to have the original
author-specified data and the very similarly structured community content
alongside each other like that.

> There does not seem to be a feature for marking/separating adult
> content. Personally, I think there are probably a number of people who
> would not see adult content at all, so allowing filtering based on
> this may be of interest. Considering that the data base itself is not
> age restricted, at least having an easily visible content rating
> warning implemented seems to be advisable.

Hmm... I can see your point; I haven't given this any thought yet. The
Terms of Service ask people not to upload anything pornographic or obscene,
which I put in specifically so that there wouldn't be any need for age
restrictions on the IFDB content itself. I guess the question is whether a
page that merely describes and links to age-restricted material should be
age-restricted, even when it doesn't itself contain anything sensitive.

Here's a proposal: we could define a special tag, say "IF-MA", that you can
use to mark a game as adult material. The server would only allow you to
view those pages if you check a box in your profile affirming that you're of
legal age and want to see such material. What do other people think - would
this be a useful feature, or a nuisance?

Mike Roberts

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Oct 17, 2007, 3:02:00 PM10/17/07
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"Trajectory" <electri...@googlemail.com> wrote:
> The download adviser stuff sounds great, too. Coincidentally,
> I'd been thinking about ways to automate the download of an
> appropriate interpreter along with a gamefile, so that casual
> and curious browsers are more likely to actually try playing a
> game, rather than giving up the whole thing as more trouble
> than it's worth.

In case you didn't see the part about the browser plug-in (buried in my
concise 15-page announcement :), there's an optional feature that works with
the main Windows browsers (IE, Mozilla, Safari, Opera) that does basically
this. It figures out which interpreter goes with the story file format and
automatically downloads it and installs it for you. It's not quite a
one-click install, since you still have to click through the Setup screens
for whichever interpreter is needed, but it's pretty close - the key thing
is that you don't need to do the legwork to find the various pieces. And
once a particular terp is installed, the plug-in remembers it and knows it
can just grab the story file, so you still get all the benefits of keeping
the terp and story files separate (smaller downloads, smaller disk usage,
you only need to update one copy of the terp upon new releases).

Mike Roberts

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Oct 17, 2007, 3:08:46 PM10/17/07
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Link to profile: that's a good idea. Right now you can kind of do that, but
it's indirect: you can review your own game, and mark the review as "from
the author." The review will appear in the "Editorial Reviews" group near
the top of the page, and your review by-line will link to your profile. But
an explicit link would be a good idea; I'll think about how to add that.

Multiple development systems: No problem. On the download link side, just
add as many links as you want and mark them with their various story file
formats. For the game listing itself, you can just enter the systems as a
comma-separated list. The field on the Edit Game page is a type-in field
even though it has a pop-up list, so you can go off-list if you need to.
When searching by system, the search system merely looks to see if the
system field contains the name you're looking for, so it'll find the system
as long as it's somewhere in the list.

Message has been deleted

S. John Ross

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Oct 17, 2007, 4:26:23 PM10/17/07
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>> I notice there's no (apparent) mechanism for star-rating a game
>> without also writing a review. Is this a feature to be added, or one
>> deliberately avoided?
>
> It was deliberate, although I'm not dead-set on it.

Fair enough. I can definitely understand it from both sides.

> On the other hand, the site does have some collaborative filtering
> capabilities, which can provide some of the person-to-person functionality
> in the absence of reviews. And those benefit from a larger collection of
> expressed preferences, so that's a point in favor of making it as easy as
> possible to submit a rating.

This touches on what I'm hoping for, I guess ... not averages so much as
more data-points for filtering.

So far, my only reliable method for finding games I like has been to
download those that are rated at two stars or below :/ But I'm very
excited to be able to filter things by tags, since that cuts past
differences in tastes in many ways (which, for better or worse, I
clearly require) :)

But either way, I plan on being a contributor of reviews, too, so I'm in
for the long haul no matter which way it all shakes down.

Zylon

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Oct 17, 2007, 3:34:42 PM10/17/07
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"Mike Roberts" <mj...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:PsKdndYboujRx4va...@comcast.com...
> "Deathworks" <marun...@yahoo.co.jp> wrote:

> Here's a proposal: we could define a special tag, say "IF-MA", that you
> can use to mark a game as adult material. The server would only allow you
> to view those pages if you check a box in your profile affirming that
> you're of legal age and want to see such material. What do other people
> think - would this be a useful feature, or a nuisance?

I could see the warning label or tag, but I wouldn't make it a checkbox for
the content. Just make the pages visible.

After all, anyone could go in and just claim they're of legal age even if
they're not. So what, really, would you be preventing? I guess you could
argue it from the token attempt standpoint but I know one thing that drives
me nuts are age "verifications" like you see on some game sites now ("Enter
the day and year of your birth"). Obviously anyone can put in any date they
want and so, really, it's just an annoyance for the vast majority of users
who want to look at content.

But, this being said, I can definitely see having a a possible rating system
of sorts.

David C.

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Oct 17, 2007, 3:34:50 PM10/17/07
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"Mike Roberts" <mj...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:K9mdneH6ftI1_Iva...@comcast.com...
> If this is too restrictive, I could probably find a way to allow
> hyperlinks - add an enter-the-blurry-code screen if there's a link in the
> review text, maybe, or just leave it unrestricted and see if spam does
> turn out to be a problem.

This can be handled by asking one or two people to be editors of the site.
David Welbourn does a fantasic job of keeping the spammers at bay in
ifwiki.org.

David C.

Adam Thornton

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Oct 17, 2007, 3:52:16 PM10/17/07
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In article <PsKdndYboujRx4va...@comcast.com>,

Mike Roberts <mj...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>Hmm... I can see your point; I haven't given this any thought yet. The
>Terms of Service ask people not to upload anything pornographic or obscene,
>which I put in specifically so that there wouldn't be any need for age
>restrictions on the IFDB content itself.

Stiffy Makane weeps big salty tears!

Adam

Mike Roberts

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Oct 17, 2007, 4:54:21 PM10/17/07
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"Adam Thornton" <ad...@fsf.net> wrote:
>> The Terms of Service ask people not to upload anything
>> pornographic or obscene,
>
> Stiffy Makane weeps big salty tears!

Yeah, I guess I wasn't thinking of the cover art for that venerated series.
I have to imagine it's Inappropriate For All Viewers.

--Mike


Mike Roberts

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Oct 17, 2007, 4:57:35 PM10/17/07
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"Zylon" <zyl...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>> Here's a proposal: we could define a special tag, say "IF-MA", that you
>> can use to mark a game as adult material. The server would only allow
>> you to view those pages if you check a box in your profile affirming that
>> you're of legal age and want to see such material.
>
> I could see the warning label or tag, but I wouldn't make it a checkbox
> for the content. Just make the pages visible.
>
> After all, anyone could go in and just claim they're of legal age even if
> they're not. So what, really, would you be preventing?

It would only prevent people from seeing things they don't want to. It
clearly wouldn't be an enforcement mechanism - it's really the other way
around: it's not that the site chooses who can see what, but that you can
choose what parts of the site you want to see. It'd be for people who are
offended by adult content and don't want to encounter it accidentally by
browsing.

I don't think a real enforcement mechanism is needed, since there shouldn't
be any actual adult material on the site - just pages *about* adult
material.

> I guess you could argue it from the token attempt standpoint but I know
> one thing that drives me nuts are age "verifications" like you see on some
> game sites now ("Enter the day and year of your birth"). Obviously anyone
> can put in any date they
> want and so, really, it's just an annoyance for the vast majority of users
> who want to look at content.

I kind of feel the same way, although I think my proposal is pretty
minimally intrusive as these things go - it would just be a one-time opt-in.

Trajectory

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Oct 17, 2007, 5:01:17 PM10/17/07
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On 17 Oct, 20:02, "Mike Roberts" <m...@hotmail.com> wrote:

> "Trajectory" <electricham...@googlemail.com> wrote:
> In case you didn't see the part about the browser plug-in (buried in my
> concise 15-page announcement :), there's an optional feature that works with
> the main Windows browsers (IE, Mozilla, Safari, Opera) that does basically
> this. It figures out which interpreter goes with the story file format and
> automatically downloads it and installs it for you.

I did notice that, but got it mixed up with the "download adviser".
This sounds just the sort of thing I was thinking of (although I was
considering stand alone installers rather than plugins).

I'll be sure to give it a try. Basically, if I want to recommend a
game to someone who's never played modern IF, I'd like to be able to
say "just go to this site and download a game - it's all quite
straightforward". Currently, there's no such site (that I know of),
without having to add caveats like "oh, and go here to learn how to
download an intepreter...". I'm hopeful that IFDB can fulfill that
function.

S. John Ross

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Oct 17, 2007, 6:06:12 PM10/17/07
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A few other random thoughts on reviews. Two things that might allow
reviewers to influence the weight of their rating and/or indicate context:

A check box requiring the reviewers to distinguish between a review
written by someone who has completed a game, and a review written by
someone who hasn't completed it. I suspect, for _positive_ reviews, that
completing the game will be more likely a given ... but for negative
reviews, I (A) don't expect a reviewer to slog all the way to the end of
a game they find unpleasant/incomprehensible (B) don't expect people to
NOT review a game just because they found it too unpleasant to finish
(in fact, I want to read those reviews) and (C) at the same time,
believe that a negative review written by a reviewer who played the
entire game should have more weight in whatever weighting formula may be
present (although I lack the mathematical know-how to begin to suggest
how much, exactly, the weight should differ).

A specific way to require indication of which Release/Version the review
is in reference to. No clue if this should then objectively influence
the math on the weighting, but I think it would be a nice requirement to
put a review in perspective if the latest version is Release 14 and the
review is of Release 1.

Just idle thoughts tossed out to be chewed on :)

Andrew Plotkin

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Oct 17, 2007, 5:24:05 PM10/17/07
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In rec.arts.int-fiction, Mike Roberts <mj...@hotmail.com> wrote:

> "Zylon" <zyl...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > After all, anyone could go in and just claim they're of legal age even if
> > they're not. So what, really, would you be preventing?
>
> It would only prevent people from seeing things they don't want to. It
> clearly wouldn't be an enforcement mechanism - it's really the other way
> around: it's not that the site chooses who can see what, but that you can
> choose what parts of the site you want to see. It'd be for people who are
> offended by adult content and don't want to encounter it accidentally by
> browsing.

If the site is really going to act as a database, then there will be
nonhuman users. That's an argument against putting in a checkbox. A
search bot or a database scraper will never opt in, and you *don't*
want your content blocking mechanism to affect them by default; that
effectively makes the data nonexistent, for their users, instead of
just hidden.

(This may be an argument for offering views specifically for nonhuman
users; XML dumps and the like. But Google, for example, tries very
hard to see what human see. It likes to ignore hidden "data" pages,
because spammers like to fill those with lies.)

--Z

--
"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
If the Bush administration hasn't thrown you in military prison
without trial, it's for one reason: they don't feel like it. Not
because of the Fifth Amendment.

Brian Campbell

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Oct 17, 2007, 11:13:32 PM10/17/07
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Very cool! I like the site a lot; I hope this takes off. It's really
very well done for a first beta version.

A few comments:
* I cannot search for "I-0" even though it's in the database.
* It would be nice if games and profiles would have predictable URLs,
like http://ifdb.tads.org/game/Worlds_Apart or http://ifdb.tads.org/user/Emily_Short,
or at least URLs for the games based on their IFID, so it would be
easier to link to the appropriate pages from other web sites.
* When I click on the name of the author for a game, such as Andrew
Plotkin, it just does a search for the author's name. This returns
games that include the author's name, such as Being Andrew Plotkin, in
addition to the other games by that author. It might be nice to
actually have some notion of an author as an explicit entity so this
can work a little better.
* On lists like http://ifdb.tads.org/viewlist?id=8ug1xtsh5eauu8b there
is a space, linebreak, or other separator missing before the "Username
says:" line.
* It would be nice if people's lists appeared in the New on IFDB feed,
since otherwise they seem fairly out of the way (you have to
explicitly go to someone's account and look at the lists they've
created).
* A good feature on a site like this would be a "friends" list
(friends isn't quite the right term; a "watch" list might be more
accurate, though that sounds very dry), that lets you easily see for a
given game what your friends think of it and what their rating is.
* I'm not sure how I feel about the "you must review a game to rate
it". On the one hand, it does lead to more people reviewing. On the
other, it leads to fewer people rating. It might be better as a
"comments" feature, which isn't generally a full review but instead
1-3 sentences of comments about what you thought. BoardGameGeek.com
lets you put in some optional comments when you rate a game, which can
be helpful in seeing where people are coming from with their review
while not requiring them to write a full review in order to rate the
game.

Adam Thornton

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Oct 17, 2007, 11:58:31 PM10/17/07
to
In article <ct2dneY3Urod64va...@comcast.com>,

That would be....one way of putting it. Would you like me to tell you
where to find the cover art for the Work In Progress? E-mail me, if
so. It's honestly Classical. Like, it's a work of art from Actual
Antiquity.

Adam

Eric Forgeot

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Oct 18, 2007, 6:40:38 AM10/18/07
to
it looks great ! I've just registered.

But how will it position itself with http://www.ifreviews.org/,
http://wurb.com and http://ifwiki.org ? Will you share a common database of
knowledge and informations ?


Tom Hudson

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Oct 18, 2007, 8:08:48 AM10/18/07
to
I'm having lots of fun with IFDB. It would be nice to have browsing
capabilities - right now I can't find a way to see who's registered as
a member, or get a list of all recommendation lists.

My attempt to do the latter does seem to have hit a bug. When
searching lists for "games", I get:

Boring Games
by Michael Roberts - 98 games
"These games bored me to tears."

Favorite AIF games
by Michael Roberts - 49 games
"These are my favorite AIF games."

Favorite Games
by Michael Roberts - 98 games
"These are my current favorites. "

Games With Faulty Premises
by Michael Roberts - 98 games
"The premises of these games just didn't work."

Impossible Games
by Michael Roberts - 147 games
"These games I quit before finishing because there was not a
sufficient reward for solving their rage-inducing puzzles."

Non-interactive Games
by Michael Roberts - 98 games
"These games I found particularly vexing because you as the player had
so few choices. In fact, there was no point to playing them, as the
whole plotline was determined in advance. "

Word-play games
by Michael Roberts - 392 games
"Games where the text of the game is part of the puzzle."


Three or four of those are (short) recommendation lists belonging to
Amber Shards; Michael Roberts' profile claims no recommendation lists
at all.

Tom

Stephen Granade

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Oct 18, 2007, 10:35:59 AM10/18/07
to
Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> writes:

> If the site is really going to act as a database, then there will be
> nonhuman users. That's an argument against putting in a checkbox. A
> search bot or a database scraper will never opt in, and you *don't*
> want your content blocking mechanism to affect them by default; that
> effectively makes the data nonexistent, for their users, instead of
> just hidden.
>
> (This may be an argument for offering views specifically for nonhuman
> users; XML dumps and the like.

I'd like to see the data exportable through XML. For the non-robots
among us, RSS feeds of the latest data added, either site-wide, for
specific games, or for specific members, would also be nice.

Stephen

--
Stephen Granade
stephen...@granades.com

George Oliver

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Oct 18, 2007, 11:09:26 AM10/18/07
to
On Oct 18, 5:08 am, Tom Hudson <tom.hudson....@gmail.com> wrote:
> I'm having lots of fun with IFDB. It would be nice to have browsing
> capabilities - right now I can't find a way to see who's registered as
> a member, or get a list of all recommendation lists.


There are some other odd things -- you can search for members (the
link at the bottom of the home page), and get the first page of
results using 'location:' as the keyword, but then when you click Next
you get 0 results found. In theory, you should be able to search all
members with the keyword '-<nonsense>', but that doesn't work either.


Eric Eve

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Oct 18, 2007, 11:15:35 AM10/18/07
to
"Brian Campbell" <unla...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1192677212....@v29g2000prd.googlegroups.com...

> * When I click on the name of the author for a game, such as
> Andrew
> Plotkin, it just does a search for the author's name. This returns
> games that include the author's name, such as Being Andrew
> Plotkin, in
> addition to the other games by that author. It might be nice to
> actually have some notion of an author as an explicit entity so
> this
> can work a little better.

And I found it's not even restricted to the exact name (such as
Andrew Plotkin); if (say) you find "The Plant" by Michael J. Roberts
and then click on 'Michael J. Roberts" , in addition to seeing some
of Mike Roberts's games you see a whole of games by authors whose
surnames contain either Michael or Roberts (so, for example, the
first page includes games by Michael Arnaud, Michael Gentry, Micheal
O. Haire, Michael Zey and Doug Roberts). It's not until the fourth
page (after many pages of non Mike Roberts games) that one comes to
"Rat in Control" by Mike Roberts (presumably because the author is
listed as 'Mike Roberts' and not Michael J. Roberts), and not to the
fifth till one finds "Return to Ditch Day" (by M.J. Roberts). I can
see that variations in the way the author's name was entered
accounts for these last two cases, and that might be tricky to work
around, but the result is that clicking on Michael J. Roberts
produces a list of 57 games, only 6 of which were actually by Mike
Roberts, and only 4 of which appeared at the head of the list.

One way of excluding the spurious entries while catering for variant
forms (Michael J. Roberts, M.J. Roberts, Mike Roberts) might be for
this search to match only those entries where the author's last name
is Roberts and the first name (or initial) starts with M. That
wouldn't be guaranteed to exclude all spurious entries (if there
were games by Matilda Roberts or Matthew Roberts, say), but it would
surely include fewer of them (and since the matching algorithm
already seems to be including the exact matches first, these would
remain easy to find).

-- Eric


Mike Roberts

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Oct 18, 2007, 1:34:39 PM10/18/07
to
"Brian Campbell" <unla...@gmail.com> wrote:
> * I cannot search for "I-0" even though it's in the database.

The mysql full-text search leaves a bit to be desired, it seems - I believe
what's going in is that the search engine drops short words from the search
term, and in this case that means it drops the entire search term! What
I'll do is supplement the full-text search with a literal search against the
title, to handle pathological cases like this. That'll also improve
relevance in general when searching for an exact title.

> * It would be nice if games and profiles would have
> predictable URLs, like http://ifdb.tads.org/game/Worlds_Apart
> or http://ifdb.tads.org/user/Emily_Short, or at least URLs for
> the games based on their IFID, so it would be easier to link
> to the appropriate pages from other web sites.

The IFID is by far the best identifier for this - it's specifically designed
so that two programs talking across a network can positively identify a game
to one another. And in fact, you can link to a game by IFID -
viewgame?ifid=xxx will do the trick. (It's an undocumented feature, I
guess, because I'm not quite sure where to document stuff like that.)

People don't have IFIDs, sadly, so there's no equivalent there (I guess in
the US we have SSNs, which are pretty much the same idea, but somehow I
don't think that'd be too popular :). However, the ID string that the site
assigns is designed to be permanent - it's specifically designed so that you
can link to it from an external site. It does mean you can't guess the URL
without first looking up the person on the site, but I don't think there's
any reliable way to do that anyway - a given person tends to use at least a
few variations on their name (Mike vs Michael vs M. vs M.J., etc), plus
you'd have to artificially change some names to deal with duplicates.

> * When I click on the name of the author for a game, such as Andrew
> Plotkin, it just does a search for the author's name. This returns
> games that include the author's name, such as Being Andrew Plotkin,
> in addition to the other games by that author. It might be nice to
> actually have some notion of an author as an explicit entity so this
> can work a little better.

I agree - I just haven't worked out the best way to do that yet. Linking to
the author's profile page would be one way, although I think there will be a
large percentage of authors who won't create profiles because they're no
longer active in the IF world. In the meantime it might improve matters if
I changed it to search specifically on author, rather than just doing a
generic search.

> * It would be nice if people's lists appeared in the New on IFDB
> feed, since otherwise they seem fairly out of the way (you have to
> explicitly go to someone's account and look at the lists they've
> created).

That'd probably be worthwhile. Note that you can also find lists by
searching for them by title and keyword, and each game page shows a
selection of lists containing the game. The latter is the "discovery" mode
that I think will become especially useful in time as more lists get
created.

> * A good feature on a site like this would be a "friends" list
> (friends isn't quite the right term; a "watch" list might be more
> accurate, though that sounds very dry), that lets you easily see for a
> given game what your friends think of it and what their rating is.

A "watch list" sounds like a counter-terrorism thing - I'll have to save
that for when I do my "24" fan site :). That sounds like an interesting
idea, though - so, it'd basically sort reviews from people on your no-fly
list to the top of the review collection when viewing a game page?

> * I'm not sure how I feel about the "you must review a game to rate
> it". On the one hand, it does lead to more people reviewing. On the
> other, it leads to fewer people rating.

Yeah, I think I'm coming around on this. I suspect the second effect is a
lot stronger than the first - I doubt there are many people who'd actually
be persuaded to write a review because that's the cost of entering a rating.
I think I'll add a one-click star rating feature to the game pages, and let
people follow up with full reviews if they're so inclined.

Thanks for all the comments and good ideas!

Mike Roberts

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Oct 18, 2007, 1:35:10 PM10/18/07
to
"Eric Forgeot" <use_the_form...@anamnese.fr.st> wrote:
> But how will it position itself with http://www.ifreviews.org/,
> http://wurb.com and http://ifwiki.org ? Will you share a common
> database of knowledge and informations ?

There's not a shared database - that's not really practical given the
different missions, I think. Baf's Guide, for example, is an edited
bibliography, so I don't think it would want to try to incorporate the
user-edited content from IFDB. (I started with a snapshot from Baf's Guide,
but that was a one-time start-up thing; since IFDB is open to public
editing, game authors and anyone else can directly update it as new games
are released. And I'd be surprised if Carl had any interest in the data
flowing the other way, since he and his editors maintain that database.)

Mike Roberts

unread,
Oct 18, 2007, 1:54:56 PM10/18/07
to
Tom Hudson <tom.hudson....@gmail.com> wrote:
> It would be nice to have browsing capabilities - right now I
> can't find a way to see who's registered as a member, or get
> a list of all recommendation lists.

Oversights on my part - there are now links on the home page for those
functions.

"George Oliver" <georgeo...@gmail.com> wrote:
> There are some other odd things -- you can search for members
> (the link at the bottom of the home page), and get the first page of
> results using 'location:' as the keyword, but then when you click Next
> you get 0 results found. In theory, you should be able to search all
> members with the keyword '-<nonsense>', but that doesn't work
> either.

Those should be fixed now.

S. John Ross

unread,
Oct 18, 2007, 2:56:35 PM10/18/07
to

The curious nature of the search feature already tempted me into mucking
up the database :( I should have been more careful, but this is how it
happened:

(1) I wanted to make sure there was a listing for Ham House.
(2) I did a search for Ham House, and noted that it didn't appear on the
first page.
(3) Naively, I suppose, I thought "well, if it isn't on the first page
with the good hits it sure won't be on the back pages with the maybe-so
hits." I assumed that any matches that included both "Ham" and "House"
would be right at the top of the list.
(4) I created a new page for it, stocked it up with current info and
tags, wrote some author's notes, and so on.
(5) Later noticed that there was, in fact an entry already present,
which I could have spiffed and stocked with more current info.
(6) Even now, neither page comes up in front when searching for Ham House.

So, my fault, very (on the duplicate entry, I mean) ... But the search
feature aided and abetted my own incompetence :)


Andrew Plotkin

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Oct 18, 2007, 2:20:28 PM10/18/07
to
Here, Mike Roberts <mj...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> "Eric Forgeot" <use_the_form...@anamnese.fr.st> wrote:
> > But how will it position itself with http://www.ifreviews.org/,
> > http://wurb.com and http://ifwiki.org ? Will you share a common
> > database of knowledge and informations ?
>
> There's not a shared database - that's not really practical given the
> different missions, I think.

But you can do cross-indexing, if each site offers the IFID and the
Baf-ID for every game (that has one).

ifwiki acts as a third database, but I don't think we need a third
index key. (Or fourth, if you count the IFArchive path!) Instead,
maybe ifwiki should accept (and auto-redirect) URLs of the form

http://ifwiki.org/index.php/Special:IFID?id=XXXXXXX

Or is there already a plan in that direction?

--Z

--
"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*

When Bush says "Stay the course," what he means is "I don't know what to
do next." He's been saying this for years now.

Mike Roberts

unread,
Oct 18, 2007, 3:02:45 PM10/18/07
to
"S. John Ross" <sj...@io.com> wrote:
> (1) I wanted to make sure there was a listing for Ham House.
> (2) I did a search for Ham House, and noted that it didn't appear on the
> first page.
> (3) Naively, I suppose, I thought "well, if it isn't on the first page
> with the good hits it sure won't be on the back pages with the maybe-so
> hits." I assumed that any matches that included both "Ham" and "House"
> would be right at the top of the list.

I've been doing some tweaking to the search parameters, to make it treat
words in the title as especially important - "Ham House" now turns up the
right entries at the top of the list.

The reason it was coming up with so many hits in apparently random order
before is that the mysql full-text search engine simply ignores words
shorter than four letters - not even "+" persuades it otherwise. I've added
some code to do a structured search against the title in addition to the
full-text search, and that will use all words.

> (4) I created a new page for it, stocked it up with current info and tags,
> wrote some author's notes, and so on.
> (5) Later noticed that there was, in fact an entry already present, which
> I could have spiffed and stocked with more current info.

If you don't have any objection, I can go in and delete the un-filled-in one
of those two entries, to remove the duplication.

S. John Ross

unread,
Oct 18, 2007, 3:36:35 PM10/18/07
to

> I've been doing some tweaking to the search parameters, to make it treat
> words in the title as especially important - "Ham House" now turns up the
> right entries at the top of the list.

Groovy!


> If you don't have any objection, I can go in and delete the un-filled-in one
> of those two entries, to remove the duplication.

Oh, please do. I'd rather folks just find the most accurate one (on
the outside chance anyone cares to find it at all) :)


S. John Ross

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Oct 18, 2007, 4:47:41 PM10/18/07
to

With apologies to those who get this as a repeat, but Google is being
very naughty lately:

------

> I've been doing some tweaking to the search parameters, to make it treat
> > words in the title as especially important - "Ham House" now turns
up the
> > right entries at the top of the list.

Groovy!


> > If you don't have any objection, I can go in and delete the
un-filled-in one
> > of those two entries, to remove the duplication.

Oh, please do. I'd rather folks just find the most accurate one (on

Dot Net Developer

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Oct 18, 2007, 6:37:07 PM10/18/07
to
On 17 Oct, 04:03, "Mike Roberts" <m...@hotmail.com> wrote:

> So I've been putting together a new web site designed around this idea. The
> new site is called IFDB, for the Interactive Fiction Database, and it's
> ready for use. You can find it athttp://ifdb.tads.org.

Superb site. Nice work.

Eriorg

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Oct 18, 2007, 7:33:03 PM10/18/07
to
On 17 oct, 05:03, "Mike Roberts" <m...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> So I've been putting together a new web site designed around this idea. The
> new site is called IFDB, for the Interactive Fiction Database, and it's
> ready for use. You can find it at http://ifdb.tads.org.

Very interesting web site!

One suggestion: there are only 10 search results in one page, and when
there are lots of results (when I use "Browse games" or "Browse
members", for instance) that's not enough. I'd like to be able to have
more results in one page, and also to jump to a page of results which
isn't necessarily the next page.


And unfortunately, there seems to be a bug: some of the tags I have
added to games mysteriously disappeared from the game pages, even if
they're sometimes still available with a "tag:" search. For instance:
I created a "French Comp 2005" tag, with these five games:
http://ifdb.tads.org/search?searchfor=tag%3AFrench+Comp+2005&searchGo.x=0&searchGo.y=0
But when I look at the page of one of these games (http://
ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=iy6idhoeowdgvh3d , etc.): "There are no tags
associated with this game yet"! Did anyone else have the same problem?

Emily Boegheim

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Oct 18, 2007, 8:01:15 PM10/18/07
to
"Mike Roberts" <mj...@hotmail.com> wrote in
news:zoSdncD0QokM5oja...@comcast.com:

> For the moment I'm calling the site "beta," meaning that the feature
> set is more or less complete, but that I expect there are still some
> bugs to be found as people start using it. If you do run into any
> problems, please let me know so I can fix them.

Clicking on "view", next to "It's on my wish list"
(http://ifdb.tads.org/playlist?type=wishlist), produces a page titled "'s
Wish List", saying "The requested user was not found in the database."

Emily

Mike Roberts

unread,
Oct 19, 2007, 1:51:56 AM10/19/07
to
"Eriorg" <Eri...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> One suggestion: there are only 10 search results in one
> page, and when there are lots of results (when I use "Browse
> games" or "Browse members", for instance) that's not
> enough. I'd like to be able to have more results in one page,
> and also to jump to a page of results which isn't necessarily
> the next page.

I've upped it to 20 results per page, and made the pagination controls a
little more powerful.

> And unfortunately, there seems to be a bug: some of the tags I
> have added to games mysteriously disappeared from the game
> pages, even if they're sometimes still available with a "tag:" search.

Sorry about that. The problem that was orphaning the tags should be fixed
now, so there shouldn't be any more of these showing up. I patched up yours
and a few others that I found in the database, but there were a handful for
which I couldn't figure out the owners:

Photopia { linear }
Bronze { recommended for beginners }
Blue Chairs { surreal }
Dracula Part 1: The First Night { literature, horror }
The Traveling Swordsman { linear }
Beyond { graphics }
Ekphrasis { Renaissance }

If you see any of yours on this list, the easiest thing would be if you
could just go in and enter the tag again. Sorry about the inconvenience -
this time it should stick.

Eric Eve

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Oct 19, 2007, 3:31:32 AM10/19/07
to
"Mike Roberts" <mj...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:zoSdncD0QokM5oja...@comcast.com...
> I've noticed over the years that one of the favorite activities on
> rgif is
> offering lists of suggestions when someone asks a question like
> "what are
> the best IF games for newbies?" or "what are your favorite
> mazes?". That
> helpful spirit is great, but I've often thought it would be even
> better if
> we could capture those occasional flurries of suggestions
> somewhere, so that
> people can find them later. Sure, there's the Google archive, but
> I don't
> think most people have the patience to sift through old rgif
> postings to
> find game suggestions.

It looks like it's all coming along very nicely.

I've just come across what looks like a small bug. I've been
gradually adding to the list of games I've played, but when I click
the "View all played games" link under the "Games you've played
list" on my page, the list that comes up is headed "Eric Eve's Wish
List" (instead of "Eric Eve's Played Games" or however it should be
headed).

-- Eric


Deathworks

unread,
Oct 19, 2007, 5:38:47 AM10/19/07
to
Hi!

I have created my account and written my first review (I haven't
played many games, and I have to check exact titles and authors at
home; otherwise I might end up linking the reviews to the wrong game).
I am not really sure about the personal tagging feature you get when
reviewing a game. It feels a bit redundant, given that you already
have the recommendation list feature. I am also not sure whether
"Games I played" means "Games I finished" or whether it means "Games I
played but may not have finished" - truth be told, the review I wrote
was about a game I haven't finished yet (I mention that in the review,
of course), and I checked it as a "game I played". But I feel rather
uncertain about that checkbox.

Since I was the one bringing up the issue of marking adult games,
please allow me to comment on it again. Personally, any marking
system, whether it is a highly visible banner, filtering, or a check
box, would be fine with me. As I said before, I am thinking about
people who do not want to see information on adult, not about people
not eligible to view adult content.

Frankly, I don't believe that children should be allowed to browse the
internet without adult supervision, unless you can really, really
trust the children (which requires some honest and full-time effort on
educating and socialising the children on the parents' part -
something that seems to be much harder than gathering in protest
groups). Thus, besides my worries about adults that may feel
uncomfortable with certain adult content, I was also thinking about
parents who are browsing the internet together with their children,
and who wish to be able to avoid unpleasant surprises. Such special
markers would help these parents and make it easier for them to
educate their children about the internet and IF - and isn't having a
new generation of IF players something we should support?

That is why I believe that some form of easy identification/filtering
or whatever of adult content would indeed be beneficial.

As for enforced age checks like birth dates, I agree that such
information can be faked easily, so in the end, it is just a gesture.
And I agree that something like that is not better than just asking
people to confirm that they are adults and be done with it - on the
contrary, it can be quite silly.

Anyhow, I wish the database good luck and hope that people will write
a lot of reviews (I have to admit that I don't have that much time to
play, so I am not really in the mood to blindly trying lots of games.
Therefore, I am really looking forward to having several reviews per
game, giving a complete perspective on it - although I have to admit
that I was surprised by the player ratings on Spider and Web (^_^;; ).

Deathworks

Eriorg

unread,
Oct 19, 2007, 6:28:47 AM10/19/07
to
On 19 oct, 07:51, "Mike Roberts" <m...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> "Eriorg" <Eri...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> > One suggestion: there are only 10 search results in one
> > page, and when there are lots of results (when I use "Browse
> > games" or "Browse members", for instance) that's not
> > enough. I'd like to be able to have more results in one page,
> > and also to jump to a page of results which isn't necessarily
> > the next page.
>
> I've upped it to 20 results per page, and made the pagination controls a
> little more powerful.
>
> > And unfortunately, there seems to be a bug: some of the tags I
> > have added to games mysteriously disappeared from the game
> > pages, even if they're sometimes still available with a "tag:" search.
>
> Sorry about that. The problem that was orphaning the tags should be fixed
> now, so there shouldn't be any more of these showing up.

Thank you very much!


> I patched up yours
> and a few others that I found in the database, but there were a handful for
> which I couldn't figure out the owners:
>
> Photopia { linear }
> Bronze { recommended for beginners }
> Blue Chairs { surreal }
> Dracula Part 1: The First Night { literature, horror }
> The Traveling Swordsman { linear }
> Beyond { graphics }
> Ekphrasis { Renaissance }
>
> If you see any of yours on this list, the easiest thing would be if you
> could just go in and enter the tag again. Sorry about the inconvenience -
> this time it should stick.

"Beyond { graphics }" and "Ekphrasis { Renaissance }" were mine (I
added them again); the others weren't.

But I wonder if *who* added tags like "graphics" or "French Comp
2005" (or even "Renaissance") really matters? I mean, such games are
*objectively* games with graphics or games entered in French Comp 2005
-- whereas, for instance, "recommended for beginners" or even "linear"
are indeed personal opinions. But maybe I don't completely understand
the purpose of tags!

Mike Roberts

unread,
Oct 19, 2007, 2:27:52 PM10/19/07
to
"Eriorg" <Eri...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> But I wonder if *who* added tags like "graphics" or "French
> Comp 2005" (or even "Renaissance") really matters?

The only reason it matters is that it lets you go back and delete the tags
you added to a game, without deleting the same tag if it was also added by
other people. I figured it would be best if tags were additive - the tags
for a given game are the union of the tags added by each user to the game.

Mike Roberts

unread,
Oct 19, 2007, 2:34:15 PM10/19/07
to
"Eric Eve" <eric...@NOSPAMhmc.ox.ac.uk> wrote:
> I've just come across what looks like a small bug. I've been gradually
> adding to the list of games I've played, but when I click the "View all
> played games" link under the "Games you've played list" on my page, the
> list that comes up is headed "Eric Eve's Wish List" (instead of "Eric
> Eve's Played Games" or however it should be headed).

Thanks - it sould be fixed now.

--Mike Roberts
mjr undersore at hotmail dot com


Mike Roberts

unread,
Oct 19, 2007, 3:11:40 PM10/19/07
to
"Deathworks" <marun...@yahoo.co.jp> wrote:
> I am not really sure about the personal tagging feature you get when
> reviewing a game. It feels a bit redundant, given that you already
> have the recommendation list feature.

The main point of the review tagging is that it lets you assemble reviews
into collections (and since it's a tag rather than a "folder" or whatever,
the same review can be in multiple collections). I was particularly
thinking about competitions - I figured you'd want to be able to be able to
give people a URL that takes them to all of your reviews for a given comp.

> I am also not sure whether "Games I played" means "Games I
> finished" or whether it means "Games I played but may not have
> finished"

I guess I figure they're ultimately not that different - you don't have to
have played through to the winning conclusion to be "finished" with a game.
I suppose the system could have finder gradations of doneness, but I'm not
sure what the practical value would be. I mean, should the
cross-recommendation algorithm give less weight to your rating if you say
you've only played part way through the game? That doesn't seem like a
given to me; you might be able to tell pretty early on in a game that you're
going to hate it or love it.

> Since I was the one bringing up the issue of marking adult games,
> please allow me to comment on it again. Personally, any marking
> system, whether it is a highly visible banner, filtering, or a check
> box, would be fine with me. As I said before, I am thinking about
> people who do not want to see information on adult, not about people
> not eligible to view adult content.

It'd be technically straightforward to put something like this in; the main
reason I haven't pursued it so far is that there doesn't seem to be a lot of
enthusiasm for it so far. Here's the thing: so far it looks like you're the
chief declared proponent of a marking system (doesn't mean there aren't
other people also in favor, just that no one else has said so yet), but I
take it that you're not personally part of group of people who'd use such a
filter, right? What I mean is, you'd check the box in the profile for "Show
adult content."

So what we have is a couple of people who don't seem particularly exercised
about adult content (you and me) speculating about what this other group
(the exercised ones) wants. Now, I'm not doubting the existence of this
other constituency; it's just that I'd like to hear from some people who'd
actually use the filter before implementing something, to make sure it's
useful to them. There's no point in implementing something that annoys the
people who don't want it and fails to meet the needs of those who do.

S. John Ross

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Oct 19, 2007, 4:39:56 PM10/19/07
to

> The main point of the review tagging is that it lets you assemble reviews
> into collections (and since it's a tag rather than a "folder" or whatever,
> the same review can be in multiple collections). I was particularly
> thinking about competitions - I figured you'd want to be able to be able to
> give people a URL that takes them to all of your reviews for a given comp.

On the subject of reviewed games ... is there a way to "Browse Games"
but exclude games that are listed but not yet reviewed? I tried sorting
"lowest rated first" (since that's the way I'm most likely to find games
I'll appreciate and enjoy) but rather than giving me the lowest rated
first, it gave me unrated first. To get to the games I want to learn
most about, I had to sort by "highest rated first" and then just
manually page-jump until I got to the two-stars and below section (page
25 as of this posting, probably a lot more clicks away given another
year or two of reviews being written). :)

Alternately, maybe a way (in Advanced Search) to filter by stars, so I
could specify that I only want games with a rating ranging from 1/2 to 2
stars, for example?


--
|| S. John Ross
|| Husband · Cook · Writer
|| In That Order
|| http://www.io.com/~sjohn/bio.htm

Ron Newcomb

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Oct 19, 2007, 4:44:56 PM10/19/07
to
Holy Wow, Mike! That is an awesome site you've created! You whacked
that problem outta the park! I can recommend it to laymen as "it's
just like Amazon.com."

I fixed my Linear and Recommended For Beginners tags.

The only suggestion I possibly have is Color. The functionality is
perfection, but have a visual artist spruce it up with some color,
maybe section dividers and ornamental borders, backgrounds, etc.
(Maybe you were waiting on that until any bugs shook themselves out.)

Wonderful site, just wonderful.

-R

ptw...@gmail.com

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Oct 19, 2007, 4:46:07 PM10/19/07
to
Quite Cool! Your search issues are the same ones the big name, high
dollar companies have. Of course, those companies tell us the
problems are super complicated and we have to just live with it. On
the other hand, you seem to be addressing the the problems very well.
You also have some features, like the meta installer, that library
vendors turn into expensive 10 year projects (with results if we're
lucky). Excellent work!

-Paul

Mike Roberts

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Oct 19, 2007, 5:14:50 PM10/19/07
to
"S. John Ross" <sj...@io.com> wrote:
> Alternately, maybe a way (in Advanced Search) to filter by stars, so I
> could specify that I only want games with a rating ranging from 1/2 to 2
> stars, for example?

Good idea - I've just put it in there (try a search for "rating:0.5-2").

Mike Roberts

unread,
Oct 19, 2007, 5:25:31 PM10/19/07
to
"Ron Newcomb" <psc...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> The only suggestion I possibly have is Color. The functionality is
> perfection, but have a visual artist spruce it up with some color,
> maybe section dividers and ornamental borders, backgrounds, etc.
> (Maybe you were waiting on that until any bugs shook themselves out.)

Yeah, I'm definitely open to that. There are some talented visual designers
in the community, and it'd be great to team up with one of them to upgrade
the look. I wouldn't want to go crazy with it, of course - I'm in the
keep-it-simple camp for visual design - but there's a lot that could be done
with it, I'm sure.

S. John Ross

unread,
Oct 20, 2007, 1:17:30 AM10/20/07
to

>> Alternately, maybe a way (in Advanced Search) to filter by stars, so I
>> could specify that I only want games with a rating ranging from 1/2 to 2
>> stars, for example?
>
> Good idea - I've just put it in there (try a search for "rating:0.5-2").

Sweet. Works like a charm; Mucho Thanko!

Deathworks

unread,
Oct 20, 2007, 3:28:42 AM10/20/07
to
Hi!

Mike Roberts wrote:
...


> I guess I figure they're ultimately not that different - you don't have to
> have played through to the winning conclusion to be "finished" with a game.
> I suppose the system could have finder gradations of doneness, but I'm not
> sure what the practical value would be. I mean, should the
> cross-recommendation algorithm give less weight to your rating if you say
> you've only played part way through the game? That doesn't seem like a
> given to me; you might be able to tell pretty early on in a game that you're
> going to hate it or love it.

...
Mmmhhh, actually I was not really wondering about such fine things,
just what the check box referred to. Personally, however, I do think
that it makes a difference for human readers of reviews: If you have
just two reviews for a given piece of IF with contradicting
evaluations, seeing that one of them hasn't finished the game can be
interesting: It could point to a game with a nasty start but nice
finish, or a game that starts out great and glorious but then dies off
midway through (supposedly, the person who has finished the game
should point that out, but in reality, with longish games, the
impressions of what the beginning was like could very well fade before
you reach the end of the story).

> It'd be technically straightforward to put something like this in; the main
> reason I haven't pursued it so far is that there doesn't seem to be a lot of
> enthusiasm for it so far. Here's the thing: so far it looks like you're the
> chief declared proponent of a marking system (doesn't mean there aren't
> other people also in favor, just that no one else has said so yet), but I
> take it that you're not personally part of group of people who'd use such a
> filter, right? What I mean is, you'd check the box in the profile for "Show
> adult content."

...
You are right about my personality there. And it is actually that
corner I am coming from. In adult communities that are close to non-
adult communities, handling parents is of vital importance. And when
they feel attacked, that group can do quite some lobbying, for
instance putting the heat on Yahoo! Groups in the past. Therefore, I
am always worrying about considering their needs as well. Anyhow, it
is just a suggestion I brought up, and I won't lobby for it, even
though I think it would be a good idea along the lines of self-
protection (and for the love Stiffy Mackaine - BTW, has anyone
actually ever played that game? I mean, everyone says it is awful to
the point you don't want to try it, but how many people have actually
verified that - and no, I am not planning to play it myself, just
morbidly curious).

BTW, while talking about the matter of adult material. I took the
liberty of advertising your data base over at the AIF portal in a
small post since you seem to have missed that opportunity. I figured
they could help add some information about their section of IF as
well.

Deathworks

S. John Ross

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Oct 20, 2007, 4:55:22 AM10/20/07
to
> protection (and for the love Stiffy Mackaine - BTW, has anyone
> actually ever played that game? I mean, everyone says it is awful to
> the point you don't want to try it, but how many people have actually
> verified that - and no, I am not planning to play it myself, just
> morbidly curious).

I ran off to see it as soon as it was mentioned here; I'd never heard of
it before.

Couldn't get it to run :(

Eriorg

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Oct 20, 2007, 6:40:47 AM10/20/07
to

And why not a special modifier in Advanced Search for languages, too?
(French, Spanish, etc.)

Actually, maybe it's not strictly necessary, because I can just search
for the word "French", etc. But there are two problems with that:

1. (minor problem) Games with the word "French" in the title are also
listed.

2. (much more annoying) Strangely, the results are incomplete:
"Ekphrasis" isn't listed, for instance.

Andrew Hunter

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Oct 20, 2007, 9:02:51 AM10/20/07
to
On 2007-10-17 04:03:41 +0100, "Mike Roberts" <mj...@hotmail.com> said:

> Right now it's available for Windows for IE, Mozilla, Safari, and
> Opera; there's some work under way
> for another popular OS, so there will be more to announce about that soon.
> The Windows plug-in essentially gives you an automatic installer that works
> for just about any IF system.

Well, now's possibly as good a time as any :-) I've been working on
support for IFDB in Zoom: you can get a beta version to try out here:
<http://www.logicalshift.co.uk/etc/Zoom-ifdb.dmg>.

There are two important new features here: the first, most obvious, is
the addition of a 'Find More' button in the iFiction window. This will
take you to the IFDB site; if you have a game selected it will take you
to the page for that game, otherwise you will get the main IFDB site.

The other important feature of IFDB is the ability to install
interpreters when new ones are required. The browser plug-in system
used in Windows doesn't really work too well in OS X, I feel:
installers are rare here and 'download a plug-in, then install it, then
install an interpreter' is really a lot more work than the current
situation. Instead of implementing this, I've extended Zoom's existing
plug-in system to make it much easier to install new interpreters.

There's still some support required on the site in order to get this to
work completely: however, the work needed in Zoom is pretty much
complete now. I've added a port of SCARE to demonstrate how new
interpreters can be added: you can get it either using the 'Check for
Updates' option, or more interestingly by using the signpost file at
<http://www.logicalshift.co.uk/etc/test.signpost> which shows how Zoom
can now install an interpreter before running a game - from a standard
browser you'll need to download the file and then double-click it, but
this should give a general idea of how this should work with the main
IFDB site. My reason for picking that particular game is that it also
gives a good demonstration of how competitions and other game
compilations are handled.

In keeping with Mike's philosophy that interpreters should be
maintained by their respective authors in order to keep everything up
to date, I've also been doing some work documenting how to write new
Zoom plug-ins to add even more formats: you can find this information
at <http://logicalshift.co.uk/rotate/zoom/>. The API has been stable
since Zoom 1.0.5, so I'd like to solicit some volunteers to increase
the range of formats that can be supported.

Andrew.

Emily Short

unread,
Oct 20, 2007, 10:02:34 AM10/20/07
to
On Oct 20, 9:02 am, Andrew Hunter <and...@logicalshift.demon.co.uk>
wrote:

> On 2007-10-17 04:03:41 +0100, "Mike Roberts" <m...@hotmail.com> said:
>
> > Right now it's available for Windows for IE, Mozilla, Safari, and
> > Opera; there's some work under way
> > for another popular OS, so there will be more to announce about that soon.
> > The Windows plug-in essentially gives you an automatic installer that works
> > for just about any IF system.
>
> Well, now's possibly as good a time as any :-) I've been working on
> support for IFDB in Zoom: you can get a beta version to try out here:
> <http://www.logicalshift.co.uk/etc/Zoom-ifdb.dmg>.
>
> There are two important new features here: the first, most obvious, is
> the addition of a 'Find More' button in the iFiction window. This will
> take you to the IFDB site; if you have a game selected it will take you
> to the page for that game, otherwise you will get the main IFDB site.

This is *really* sweet. Especially since with the linked .sol files on
IFDB, I can also pull up a walkthrough or hint file right there in the
main Zoom window next to my game.

It's a little unfortunate that currently if I click on a game file for
a format it doesn't know how to deal with, it just spins its "in
progress" dial indefinitely. (Adrift .taf files seem to do this.)

But that is a minor quibble. This is awesome.

Emily Short

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Oct 20, 2007, 10:25:54 AM10/20/07
to
On Oct 20, 10:02 am, Emily Short <emsh...@mindspring.com> wrote:

> It's a little unfortunate that currently if I click on a game file for
> a format it doesn't know how to deal with, it just spins its "in
> progress" dial indefinitely. (Adrift .taf files seem to do this.)

(Well, not now that I've added in the SCARE interpreter. But in
general, if Zoom doesn't know what to do with a file, it seems
sometimes to chug away for an indefinite period.)


Andrew Hunter

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Oct 20, 2007, 10:58:59 AM10/20/07
to

Ah, yes: I've forgotten to hook up the error handlers for the web view:
something similar will happen if there's a connection failure as well
at the moment. I'll get this fixed for the 1.1.2 release.

Andrew.

Adam Thornton

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Oct 20, 2007, 12:30:06 PM10/20/07
to
In article <Fr2dnbzFDL1UKYTa...@io.com>,

S. John Ross <sj...@io.com> wrote:
>> protection (and for the love Stiffy Mackaine - BTW, has anyone
>> actually ever played that game? I mean, everyone says it is awful to
>> the point you don't want to try it, but how many people have actually
>> verified that - and no, I am not planning to play it myself, just
>> morbidly curious).
>
>I ran off to see it as soon as it was mentioned here; I'd never heard of
>it before.
>
>Couldn't get it to run :(

Oh dear!

Which version do you mean?

If the original...it's just an AGT game. Should play fine in Agility.
I'm pretty sure that's how I played it.

Stiffy the MSTing is z5, so that can't be a problem. If you can't get
the original to work, I'm pretty sure the MST source is available, and
if you stub out the Quip routine, so it just does nothing, the gameplay
ought to be very much like the original.

Stiffy Makane: The Undiscovered Country is Glulx. It ran on Windows,
Linux, and Mac OS (Classic) in 2001 when it was released; I can't get
sound to work with any modern Mac OS X terp, but it runs fine in
Spatterlight.

Adam

JDC

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Oct 20, 2007, 1:33:27 PM10/20/07
to
On Oct 20, 9:02 am, Andrew Hunter <and...@logicalshift.demon.co.uk>
wrote:
> On 2007-10-17 04:03:41 +0100, "Mike Roberts" <m...@hotmail.com> said:
>
> > Right now it's available for Windows for IE, Mozilla, Safari, and
> > Opera; there's some work under way
> > for another popular OS, so there will be more to announce about that soon.
> > The Windows plug-in essentially gives you an automatic installer that works
> > for just about any IF system.
>
> Well, now's possibly as good a time as any :-) I've been working on
> support for IFDB in Zoom: you can get a beta version to try out here:
> <http://www.logicalshift.co.uk/etc/Zoom-ifdb.dmg>.

This is incredibly cool. Thanks, Andrew, and thanks Mike for the IFDB
site. These are like chocolate and peanut butter :).

-JDC

Trajectory

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Oct 20, 2007, 3:19:13 PM10/20/07