Capsule Reviews of Contest Games

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Andrew D. Pontious

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Dec 3, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/3/96
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Let me just preface this by saying I would be very happy to amplify my
comments for any author who's looking for feedback. Some of these reviews
are short and possibly a little flippant, and as an author myself, I know
it's hard to have your ten month's work be cut down in two sentences.
While I don't think such sentiments should prevent reviewers from giving
an objective response (in the case of own game, too), in a more private,
focused forum, I'd be more than happy to say more, just as I'm sure to
e-mail the people who reviewed my game and see if they can help me more
for the next version, or other games I might write.

AAYELA
My score: 4
The whole intro with King Dargon and Queen Dahra and "old Grodrig, the
court magician," was a turnoff for me. Is anyone still thrilled by this
sort of generic fantasy intro? But the central idea of this rather small
game, that you're wandering around completely in the dark, was fun. I
quickly realized I would have to feel my way around the whole place
(i.e., it wasn't a find-the-light-source puzzle), and that brought me
into the world a little more because I had to imagine it more than if you
had generic room descriptions.

And the ending was a small challenge--each of the possibilities was
well-scripted, and it took me a while to figure out the right one.

The description of the spark coming to life was the best. Doing poetic
prose, prose that is "magical" without seeming syrupy or sentimental, is
hard, and the intro especially could have used more extraordinary prose
to make this a *great* small game instead of 'merely' a *solid* small
game.

ALIEN ABDUCTION
My score: 4
This game frustrated me quite a bit. Once I realize, through the use of
the hints, that the puzzles were hoops the aliens were putting me
through, I immediately became hostile. Isn't it enough the game designers
makes us go through hoops in the first place? Must there be *no* plot,
just tests? I just lost interest right away. On the other hand, the
writing up till that point was good, solid stuff, X-Files style material
(that's more or less a compliment).

WEARING THE CLAW
My score: 4
This game reminded me a lot of "Aayela." Both were small, benign,
non-revolutionary fantasy games. I wouldn't have spent a lot of time, but
they didn't actively aggravate me. As with Aayela, it could have used
fantasy ideas completely outside the usual variations on magical quests,
fortresses, etc. As I said above, I'd be more than happy to talk
specifics with the author.

DON'T BE LATE!
My score: 2
Cute. Short. Humorous. Even more unoriginal than the fantasy games. Not
exactly a gleaming advertisement for the glowing future of Alan, but if
the author is planning to upgrade to a more ambitious IF language, this
is a good small first step.

DELUSIONS
My score: 6
Certainly this was a more original game, but it was also very preachy,
had many self-serving comments directly from the author, and had far too
few clues on what actually had to be done. I liked Morrodox, and I liked
his name for you (QueensRook), and I liked the whole main challenge of
the game in the "lab sim" (there was especially a good sense of menace;
Morrodox was quite cinematic) but the preachiness made me hostile towards
the whole game. Another good touch--the IF trivia game on the TV.

FEAR
My score: 7
Fear was one of the few games, including Sherbet and Delusions (can I
pick winners or what?), that I played up until the two-hour limit without
using the hints to skip through or actually finishing without hints. Its
way of transporting you to another place was a bit too reminiscent of
Curses, but I loved the atmosphere, the little touches of how you're
incredibly edgy. I liked the bird-god puzzle (though I didn't finish it)
and the atmospherics of the house and the door-breaking scene. It wasn't
exactly enjoyable as a virtual world--after all, it's grimy, sordid,
fearful, etc.--but it certainly drew me in.

OF FORMS UNKNOWN
My score: 5
Here's another game I didn't finish. The score is lower than some of the
others I played that far, though, because the descriptions didn't grab me
and much of it seemed too indebted to So Far, especially the mirror and
the transportation descriptions. I was getting bored with it in the end.

IN THE END
My score: 3
It's interesting that the authors who are trying to do the most "unusual"
things are often the ones who come across as the most pompous *and* the
most concerned about their games winning. I can imagine being scornful of
the huddled masses who just want good, solid puzzles and writings, but
then if you're so elitist, why care if you win?

Much of "In the End"'s writing is good, and it has a "realistic" feel to
it that most games lack. But I was quite stymied by what I "should" do,
and the author's grudging inclusion of a walk-through with the injunction
never to use it didn't endear me to him. This game was very close to
"Delusions" in that the author was incredibly fixating on this new idea
the game was supposed to embody, yet the player, supposedly the
beneficiary of the idea, was given little help in finding it. Oh well.

Well, having just finished the game, now I know why the idea wasn't
obvious; in fact, there doesn't seem to be much point to it at all. I've
seen some criticism that this game was too much like a static story, but
I disagree--no good static story would have such little conflict, such a
preachy ending, indeed nothing to draw the reader in. I'm very
disappointed.

KISSING THE BUDDHA'S FEET
My score: 6
I'll admit it; I used the hints almost throughout for this one. The game
mechanics, with so many characters going through rote lines that sounded
very little like organic dialogue, didn't draw me in. What was nice,
though, was how the descriptions of the rooms painted your character
without just some generic opening paragraph (though it had that, too).
They were the best part. But the whole college-cramming milieu was also
uninteresting for me. Lastly, as a TADS programmer, I was gratified that
the author used a number of the more advanced features. They didn't add
much, but it showed that someone out there has looked through all the
TADS documentation and knows how to use it. And the title was superb.

PUNKIRITA QUEST ONE: LIQUID
My score: 3
This joins "Aayela" and "Wearing the Claw" on the list of undistinguished
fantasy games in the 96 Competition. The constant typos were *really*
distracting, and the generic fantasy descriptions and the plot didn't
grab me at *all*. Fantasy has been so overdone in novels and stories, you
just can't keep doing the same old thing. There were no other characters,
the evil villain had very little to do, there were few objects or locales
that had interesting descriptions or features.

LISTS AND LISTS
My score: 6
Andy Plotkin does it again! Once I heard from a friend that it was simply
a tutorial, I was sure I would have to pan this one, but as a would-be
C++ programmer I found it all fascinating. The only reason I didn't give
it a higher score was because, c'mon, Andy, it's a tutorial! I found
there to be far too few examples and explanation, especially for the
harder questions. My head was spinning! And while it wasn't quite as
savage to the player as his earlier games (the genie was actually polite
when you screwed up), he was still plenty grudging (in a funny way) about
giving hints at all. Lighten up, Andy! It's a tutorial! You're *supposed*
to be giving us information!

MAIDEN OF THE MOONLIGHT
My score: 5
Yet another generic genre game. It reminded me quite a bit of the rote
fantasy games, "Aayela" and "Wearing the Claw" and "Punkirita." But it
kept me more engrossed. Maybe the "haunted house" scenario was more
intense, maybe the Victorian-era (?) gothic milieu was just different
enough from the overdone fantasy milieu. In any case, the puzzles were
not particularly refreshing, but they did keep me going. This was one of
those frustrating games where they're hard enough that you need to
seriously think about them, but the game isn't original enough for you to
spend the time doing so. Such games I used the hints for, and here was
the same story.

PIECE OF MIND
My score: 7
I'll admit to incredible favoritism in this game. Despite occasional
typos, criminal lack of description of key objects not just once, but
several times, necessitating repeated use of the walkthrough, one
situation that always produced a machine crash, and an ending that didn't
work even when I followed the walkthrough explicitly, I still loved this
game. Why? The prose. No, it wasn't poetry喫n fact, I've found the more
lyrical an IF writers tries to be, the more often s/he falls into
hopeless sentimentality. You have to be *good* to write poetry. But you
also have to have a kind of talent to do what this author did: write
casual, hip, flowing prose that often had me in stitches. Jeff Steele's
lines alone were worth the price of admission. But it had coolly
rethought, or retouched, the descriptions throughout the game and just
made it thoroughly enjoyable. This is the kind of writing Planetfall and
the other classic Infocom games were supposed to have. And this is the
only game where I've found it since. I've seen weird games, genial games,
and just plain bad games, but not games that were consistently funny.
Okay, I'll stop. If it hadn't been for all the sloppy programming errors
(which can be fixed for the next release), this would've gotten a ten in
my book.

REVERBERATIONS
My score: 3
This game, though for the most part competently written, didn't have any
sort of special draw for me. The puzzles were mundane, the plot was like
a B-grade movie, and the descriptions, though adequate, didn't have,
well, sparkle to them. The author mentioned that the game had a "Southern
California flavor," but I saw little of that in the generic office
building, courthouse, and department store descriptions. If SoCal is so
special, show me! And personally I'm not so into "starving student" plots
anymore, either: that sort of setting for "Kissing the Buddha's Feet" was
the least interesting aspect of it. And the plot itself could have used
more pointers to what you were supposed to do next. My advice: think
about how a *player* would look at things, what s/he might do next, and
work on originality, adding something to the game that shows something
interesting and original *you know*.

RIPPLED FLESH
My score: 4
Why did I give this game a 4? Why not a 5? Or just a 1? The author
himself says his game "sucks," and there are a lot of typos and little or
no plot direction. It won't win anything. But anyone who will write a
so-so game and then *admit* it is one deserves some credit, and he's got
the determination to write better ones in the future. Any attempt to help
him write better games (as he asks) would involve a thorough review,
point by point, of this one with him, and these general reviews aren't
the forum for it.

THE METEOR, THE STONE AND A LONG GLASS OF SHERBET
My score: 7
I started playing this for the wonderful title, and for the most part I
wasn't disappointed. I'm a little miffed that a game so heavily indebted
to the Zork history was let into the contest at all, after the rules
specifically stated your game had to be *wholy original,* but the
information was used well and enjoyably. Part of the trouble was the
author's writing was ahead of her programming skills (I realize the irony
of this after the author's true name has been revealed, but it's still
the case in this game's execution)--synonyms that should have worked
didn't, decreasing the enjoyment of the game when I had to look at the
hints. And I was getting a little bored at the end of the two hours. But
much of the description was inventive, and even better, the locales were
just a bit more than the standard adventure backgrounds. Just a
bit--especially the upside-down tree!

HOUSE OF THE STALKER
My score: 6
I had a decent amount of fun with this game. Fairly simple, but at least
the puzzles weren't too frustrating and there was some attempt to make a
mark on the standard responses. The sole reason it doesn't get a higher
score is because what the hints expressedly tell you to do doesn't work.
Now, I remember very early comments on the newsgroup mentioning a bug in
Stalker, but I didn't read them then because I hadn't gotten around to
the game yet. Well, now I have, and the message no longer exist. The only
other place to go is ftp site, but that hasn't been updated with a new
version. Shit outta luck. In the one minor problem I encountered with my
game, I posted about it on the newsgroups but I also put something in the
more permanent ftp download site. If you're not going to do that for the
latecomers, you lose points. But up till that it had enough to really
interest me as a middle-length game. I probably wouldn't have given it
above a seven--it wasn't that atmospheric or original--but it was solid
and enjoyable. The bits about a divorce sounded *real*, not like all the
generic fantasy stuff I've seen, and if amplified could really have made
this original. Instead, the stalker (in the few turns I saw him) seemed
cartoonish. But again, I don't know, because--to be specific--I couldn't
turn up the volume on the radio near the stalker because the game kept
insisting it was off.

STARGAZER
My score: 4
This game ranks with all the other mundane fantasy games. I liked this
one a bit better, maybe for being underground, but it really didn't
differentiate itself substantially: still the "save the world" quest,
still the doughty commoner, still the simple, cliched characters. Then
again, I don't think this author expected much from his own game; it's an
introduction, not a full game. But I doubt the full game--filled
presumably with much the same elements, just larger--would suit me any
better. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't anything that really caught my
fancy.

TAPESTRY
My score: 5
Reminds me a lot in style of "Lethe Flow Phoenix," a game with a similar
earnest fantasy plot which frankly bored me with its fairly unimaginative
preachiness. If you're going to make a world that couldn't exist in the
real world, why use such cliched words as "Morningstar." It reminds me of
"Lethe" and "Jigsaw" (though Jigsaw was more inventive) in its use of the
the mult-turn, unalterable sermon you get from an NPC about your
"mission." I'd much rather be *shown* what to do than *preached* at. It
reminds me of "In the End" in how the author assumes you should feel the
guilt or sorrow on the part of your character and therefore join the game
in that role喫nstead, I feel manipulated and resent it. Still, once I got
into the spirit of the game, and started using the hints to find out what
I should do, it became a more interesting experience. The writing
definitely counterbalances the unintuitive puzzles and the preachy
beginning, to make it an average game IMHO. Its simple IF-style puzzles
to figure out *how* to execute the different moral decisions seem, in
reflection, out of place. In a game interested in the results of actions,
fiddling with the paper and the address book aren't important, an
annoyance, a distraction. The emphasis of the game should have been
making the results of the actions palpable, interactive, graphic,
powerful. They are good, but too many times after doing a number of
middling actions, you're given a script of the result--like the QuickTime
movies in all those graphic games. Non-interactive, and we all know what
the I in IF stands for.

Russ Bryan

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Dec 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/4/96
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In article <5826jv$1...@news.thorn.net>, Andrew D. Pontious
<byza...@tuna.net> wrote:


> IN THE END
> My score: 3
> It's interesting that the authors who are trying to do the most "unusual"
> things are often the ones who come across as the most pompous *and* the
> most concerned about their games winning. I can imagine being scornful of
> the huddled masses who just want good, solid puzzles and writings, but
> then if you're so elitist, why care if you win?
>
> Much of "In the End"'s writing is good, and it has a "realistic" feel to
> it that most games lack. But I was quite stymied by what I "should" do,
> and the author's grudging inclusion of a walk-through with the injunction
> never to use it didn't endear me to him. This game was very close to
> "Delusions" in that the author was incredibly fixating on this new idea
> the game was supposed to embody, yet the player, supposedly the
> beneficiary of the idea, was given little help in finding it. Oh well.
>
> Well, having just finished the game, now I know why the idea wasn't
> obvious; in fact, there doesn't seem to be much point to it at all. I've
> seen some criticism that this game was too much like a static story, but
> I disagree--no good static story would have such little conflict, such a
> preachy ending, indeed nothing to draw the reader in. I'm very
> disappointed.

> RIPPLED FLESH


> My score: 4
> Why did I give this game a 4? Why not a 5? Or just a 1? The author
> himself says his game "sucks," and there are a lot of typos and little or
> no plot direction. It won't win anything. But anyone who will write a
> so-so game and then *admit* it is one deserves some credit, and he's got
> the determination to write better ones in the future. Any attempt to help
> him write better games (as he asks) would involve a thorough review,
> point by point, of this one with him, and these general reviews aren't
> the forum for it.

ANDREW PONTONIOUS'S CAPSULE REVIEWS OF CONTEST GAMES
My Score: 1

It's interesting that the reviewers who are trying to be the most
"objective" are often the ones who come across as the most pompous *and*
the most concerned about what DOESN'T work. I can imagine being scornful
of the elite few who want more than good, solid puzzles and writings, but
then if you're so happy with the status quo, why should anyone care if you
liked it?

Much of Andrew Pontonius's writing is good, and it has a "critical" feel
to it that most reviews lack. But I was quite stymied by what the
reviewer "seemed" to enjoy, and the reviewer's grudging inclusion of
writing ability in his scores didn't endear me to him. The review was
very close to unintelligible in that the reviewer was incredibly fixated
on the authors' motivations, yet the reader, supposedly the beneficiary of
the review, was given little help in understanding what the games were
about. Oh well.

Well, having just finished the review, now I know why the reviewer wasn't
fair; in fact, there doesn't seem to be much fair judgement to it at all.
I've seen some criticisms that I haven't agreed with ...

... but I have a lot of trouble understanding how a game whose author
admits that it "sucks" (and, we can assume, was somewhat thrown together)
can receive a higher score than a game which was clearly polished and
carefully written. Other games which received comments such as "generic"
and "genre" get fives, even though the reviewer has nothing good to say
about them. Better poorly- written status quo than new ideas, I suppose.
Particularly baffling was the author's reaction to DON'T BE LATE: "Cute.
Short. Humerous." And a 2, because it wasn't written in the more
"ambitious" TADS or Inform (shall we chat about pomposity now?). There is
no consistency to the reviewer's scores, and it leaves me wondering about
the reviewer's motivations. Are there definite qualities which the
reviewer consistently looks for, or did he judge these games depending on
how the day went when he played them? Does the reviewer realize that he
tells the reader all of his personal opinions and NOTHING about the
games? Why does he think people read reviews? In short ...

... I'm very disappointed.

-- Russ

Kenneth Fair

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Dec 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/4/96
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(Russ, please take this with a grain of salt. I just couldn't resist.)


>In article <5826jv$1...@news.thorn.net>, Andrew D. Pontious
><byza...@tuna.net> wrote:
>
>> IN THE END
>> My score: 3
>> It's interesting that the authors who are trying to do the most "unusual"
>> things are often the ones who come across as the most pompous *and* the
>> most concerned about their games winning. I can imagine being scornful of
>> the huddled masses who just want good, solid puzzles and writings, but
>> then if you're so elitist, why care if you win?
>>
>> Much of "In the End"'s writing is good, and it has a "realistic" feel to
>> it that most games lack. But I was quite stymied by what I "should" do,
>> and the author's grudging inclusion of a walk-through with the injunction
>> never to use it didn't endear me to him. This game was very close to
>> "Delusions" in that the author was incredibly fixating on this new idea
>> the game was supposed to embody, yet the player, supposedly the
>> beneficiary of the idea, was given little help in finding it. Oh well.
>>
>> Well, having just finished the game, now I know why the idea wasn't
>> obvious; in fact, there doesn't seem to be much point to it at all. I've
>> seen some criticism that this game was too much like a static story, but
>> I disagree--no good static story would have such little conflict, such a
>> preachy ending, indeed nothing to draw the reader in. I'm very
>> disappointed.


In article <cleofax-0412...@noho-us252.javanet.com>,
cle...@javanet.com (Russ Bryan) wrote:

>ANDREW PONTONIOUS'S CAPSULE REVIEWS OF CONTEST GAMES
>My Score: 1
>
>It's interesting that the reviewers who are trying to be the most
>"objective" are often the ones who come across as the most pompous *and*
>the most concerned about what DOESN'T work. I can imagine being scornful
>of the elite few who want more than good, solid puzzles and writings, but
>then if you're so happy with the status quo, why should anyone care if you
>liked it?
>
>Much of Andrew Pontonius's writing is good, and it has a "critical" feel
>to it that most reviews lack. But I was quite stymied by what the
>reviewer "seemed" to enjoy, and the reviewer's grudging inclusion of
>writing ability in his scores didn't endear me to him. The review was
>very close to unintelligible in that the reviewer was incredibly fixated
>on the authors' motivations, yet the reader, supposedly the beneficiary of
>the review, was given little help in understanding what the games were
>about. Oh well.
>
>Well, having just finished the review, now I know why the reviewer wasn't
>fair; in fact, there doesn't seem to be much fair judgement to it at all.
>I've seen some criticisms that I haven't agreed with ...


It's interesting that the review reviewers who are trying to be the most
encouraging of participation on the newsgroup are often the ones who come
across as the most pompous *and* the most elitist in their acceptance of
the views of others. I can imagine being scornful of the reviewers who
don't present more than just their opinions about particular games, but
then if you're so elitist, why try to encourage participation by newcomers
on the newsgroup?

Much of Russ Bryan's writing is good, and it has a "humorous" feel to it
that most review reviews lack. But I was quite stymied by what the review
reviewer "seemed" to dislike, and the review reviewer's grudging inclusion
of the reviewer's post in his review review didn't endear me to him. The
review of the review was very close to unintelligible in that the review
reviewer was incredibly fixated on the reviewer's lack of game
descriptions, yet the reviewer, supposedly the beneficiary of the review
review, was given little help in understanding better ways of reviewing
interactive fiction. Oh well.

Well, having just finished the review review, now I know why many people
feel intimidated in participating on rec.arts.int-fiction; in fact, there
doesn't seem to be much point in anyone new adding their views. I've seen
some statements that rec.arts.int-fiction welcomes new voices, even
inexperienced ones, but I disagree--no good newsgroup would have such
draconian standards, such a preachy crowd, indeed nothing to draw the
lurker in. I'm very disappointed.

--
KEN FAIR - U. Chicago Law | <http://student-www.uchicago.edu/users/kjfair>
Of Counsel, U. of Ediacara | Power Mac! | CABAL(tm) | I'm w/in McQ - R U?
"Our Mother Goose who art in the henhouse, hallowed be thy name. Thy roast-
ing come. Thy meat be done in earth as it is in heaven." - Riley Sinder

Darrell Rudmann

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Dec 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/4/96
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This makes me think that perhaps a set of criteria and measures could be
created for the evaluation of IF for future competitions, to at least
ensure that all judges are looking for the same things and look for some
set of criteria equivalently for all stories. Or has this been done?

Darrell Rudmann

Stephen Granade

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Dec 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/4/96
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I disagree. Beyond the impossibility of coming up with a set of criteria
acceptable to all (I suspect GKW would be forced to impose one by fiat),
I find it valuable that everyone brings a different viewpoint to the
competition. Forcing a rigid set of criteria on the competition could
serve to stifle certain types of games.

Stephen

--
Stephen Granade | "It takes character to withstand the
sgra...@phy.duke.edu | rigors of indolence."
Duke University, Physics Dept | -- from _The Madness of King George_


Adam J. Thornton

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Dec 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/4/96
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In article <kjfair-ya0232800...@uchinews.uchicago.edu>,
Kenneth Fair <kjf...@midway.uchicago.edu> wrote:
>I'm very disappointed.

I'm disappointed, you're disappointed, the BANISTER's disappointed!

Adam
--
"I'd buy me a used car lot, and | ad...@princeton.edu | As B/4 | Save the choad!
I'd never sell any of 'em, just | "Skippy, you little fool, you are off on an-
drive me a different car every day | other of your senseless and retrograde
depending on how I feel.":Tom Waits| little journeys.": Thomas Pynchon | 64,928

Darrell Rudmann

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Dec 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/4/96
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In article
<Pine.SUN.3.91.96120...@nebula.phy.duke.edu>,
sgra...@phy.duke.edu says...

>
>On 4 Dec 1996, Darrell Rudmann wrote:
>> This makes me think that perhaps a set of criteria and measures could
be
>> created for the evaluation of IF for future competitions, to at least
>> ensure that all judges are looking for the same things and look for
some
>> set of criteria equivalently for all stories. Or has this been done?
>
>I disagree. Beyond the impossibility of coming up with a set of
criteria
>acceptable to all (I suspect GKW would be forced to impose one by
fiat),
>I find it valuable that everyone brings a different viewpoint to the
>competition. Forcing a rigid set of criteria on the competition could
>serve to stifle certain types of games.

What I mean is, to create a common attributes that can be agreed upon
for most stories that can be used as a guidelines to ensure that every
story gets evaluated at some basic level similarly. For example, the
attributes might include:

plot
writing style
interactivity
confusion
bugs
creativity
...and so on

that would not be forced on judgements but used as "Hey, make sure to
consider all of these things," or judges could rate each game on each by
their own choosing. These criteria I have laid out here are common to
all stories with few exceptions and if a story was so original that it
did not fit them, well of course the criteria become less useful.

The problem I see is what I notice in the reviews. With one exception,
what is being evaluated changes /per game/ by judge, not to mention
across judges. Given this, ranking all of the entries becomes a joke.
Unique perspectives are important, but the authors deserve a common set
of basic, minimal criteria.

Consider Paul O'Brien's reviews. Because he broke his overall score
down into components, the reviews are much more comprehensive and can be
compared across games. It is easy to see what strengths and weaknesses
each game has. Using a common set of hueristics still retains your
individual perspective: how you rate each attribute and any other
pertinent issues you find relevant are up to you.

Right now what is happening is a hodge-podge of scores based on
everyone's individual criteria. While that sounds democratic, it's also
a big muddy mess. While there appears to have been a clear winner, I
dismiss any ranked differences between the rest of them as noise.

Darrell


Andrew Plotkin

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Dec 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/5/96
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Andrew D. Pontious (byza...@tuna.net) wrote:
> It's interesting that the authors who are trying to do the most "unusual"
> things are often the ones who come across as the most pompous *and* the
> most concerned about their games winning. I can imagine being scornful of
> the huddled masses who just want good, solid puzzles and writings, but
> then if you're so elitist, why care if you win?

I'm curious whether you meant to include me in this, since I must count
as one of the "most ''unusual'' things". (And I'm certainly an elitist
snob.) (And, contrariwise, I didn't care at all about my game winning.)

> LISTS AND LISTS
> My score: 6
> Andy Plotkin does it again! Once I heard from a friend that it was simply
> a tutorial, I was sure I would have to pan this one, but as a would-be
> C++ programmer I found it all fascinating. The only reason I didn't give
> it a higher score was because, c'mon, Andy, it's a tutorial! I found
> there to be far too few examples and explanation, especially for the
> harder questions.

Examples in the manual or in the genie's hints?

> My head was spinning! And while it wasn't quite as
> savage to the player as his earlier games (the genie was actually polite
> when you screwed up), he was still plenty grudging (in a funny way) about
> giving hints at all. Lighten up, Andy! It's a tutorial! You're *supposed*
> to be giving us information!

Astonishingly, it was not my intention to be stingy with hints in this
game. (Why do you think I avoided entering a story game?) What needs
expansion?

I'll see if I can upload the source tomorrow, by the way.

--Z

--

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

null...@aol.com

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Dec 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/5/96
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But, Russ, tell us how you *really* feel.

Neil
---------------------------------------------------------
Neil deMause ne...@echonyc.com
http://www.echonyc.com/~wham/neild.html
---------------------------------------------------------

Dan Shiovitz

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Dec 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/5/96
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In article <584il7$6...@vixen.cso.uiuc.edu>,
Darrell Rudmann <drud...@nyx.net> wrote:
[..]

>The problem I see is what I notice in the reviews. With one exception,
>what is being evaluated changes /per game/ by judge, not to mention
>across judges. Given this, ranking all of the entries becomes a joke.
>Unique perspectives are important, but the authors deserve a common set
>of basic, minimal criteria.

I don't see this as being a big deal, still. My ranking comes from
a mostly subconscious interaction of general and specific impressions;
the fact that I found the narration heavy-handed in both Delusions and
Tapestry, but I knocked Tapestry down less for it, doesn't mean that
I'm being "unfair" to Delusions, or that it's not right to compare
the two. It just means I liked Tapestry more and Delusions less, and
maybe coincidentally I found the narration more aggravating in the latter.

>Darrell
--
dan shiovitz scy...@u.washington.edu sh...@cs.washington.edu
slightly lost author/programmer in a world of more creative or more
sensible people ... remember to speak up for freedom because no one else
will do it for you: use it or lose it ... carpe diem -- be proactive.
my web site: http://weber.u.washington.edu/~scythe/home.html some ok stuff.


Julian Arnold

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Dec 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/5/96
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In article <Pine.SUN.3.91.96120...@nebula.phy.duke.edu>,

Stephen Granade <URL:mailto:sgra...@phy.duke.edu> wrote:
>
> On 4 Dec 1996, Darrell Rudmann wrote:
> > This makes me think that perhaps a set of criteria and measures could be
> > created for the evaluation of IF for future competitions, to at least
> > ensure that all judges are looking for the same things and look for some
> > set of criteria equivalently for all stories. Or has this been done?
>
> I disagree. Beyond the impossibility of coming up with a set of criteria
> acceptable to all (I suspect GKW would be forced to impose one by fiat),
> I find it valuable that everyone brings a different viewpoint to the
> competition. Forcing a rigid set of criteria on the competition could
> serve to stifle certain types of games.

Exactly. The reviewettes I've seen of "Tapestry" make it clear that all
players aren't looking for the same things in a game (or even *at* the
same things), so why should judges? Also, what sort of criteria would
you impose which would allow judges to fairly evaluate games as diverse
as "In The End" and "Ralph"?

When "evaluating" a game, try to be sensitive to the author's
intentions. Remember that your preferences and expectations may not
equate with those of the author-- it's no good panning a game because
you wanted a treasure-hunt but the author delivered a political
intrigue. OTOH, if you think the game fails even by it's own standards,
make this clear. This, I'd guess, may have been why someone earlier in
this thread gave "Rippled Flesh" a higher score than "ITE." "ITE"
aspired to higher things, and set itself up for a fall. Personally, I
felt "ITE" failed in its intentions, but even so was a far more
important (if that's the right word) game than "Flesh." You can't
really sum up someone's weeks or maybe months of work in a number
between 1 and 10.

Of course, if you simply don't like a game, there's not a lot to be
done.

Jools
--
"For small erections may be finished by their first architects; grand
ones, true ones, ever leave the copestone to posterity. God keep me
from ever completing anything." -- Herman Melville, "Moby Dick"


Andrew D. Pontious

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Dec 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/5/96
to

In article <cleofax-0412...@noho-us252.javanet.com> Russ Bryan,
cle...@javanet.com writes:
>ANDREW PONTIOUS'S CAPSULE REVIEWS OF CONTEST GAMES
>My Score: 1
>[snipped]

>games? Why does he think people read reviews? In short ...
>
>... I'm very disappointed.

Ouch! Very, very good satire, Russ. I should have been much more thorough
and fair--and much *less* hypocritical and arrogant--when I wrote it.
Your response was a very good wakeup call for me. Thanks.

Andrew Plotkin

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Dec 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/5/96
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> What I mean is, to create a common attributes that can be agreed upon
> for most stories that can be used as a guidelines to ensure that every
> story gets evaluated at some basic level similarly. For example, the
> attributes might include:

> plot
> writing style
> interactivity
> confusion
> bugs
> creativity
> ...and so on

Nope. I deny this set of criteria, and all sets of criteria. I have a
criterion, which is "Did I like it?" This is totally vague and subsumes
everything that is important to me -- but not by computation, because
that's not the way I rate games.

(I know I said a lot of this early in the voting period, but, well, the
subject has re-arisen. :-)

> that would not be forced on judgements but used as "Hey, make sure to
> consider all of these things," or judges could rate each game on each by
> their own choosing. These criteria I have laid out here are common to
> all stories with few exceptions and if a story was so original that it
> did not fit them, well of course the criteria become less useful.

I am most interested in the exceptions, and I strongly disapprove of any
mandated criteria that does not take them into account. Which means *any*
fixed set of criteria.

I definitely agree with this reply:

> >Beyond the impossibility of coming up with a set of
> criteria
> >acceptable to all (I suspect GKW would be forced to impose one by
> fiat),
> >I find it valuable that everyone brings a different viewpoint to the
> >competition. Forcing a rigid set of criteria on the competition could
> >serve to stifle certain types of games.

(Yeah, I've lost all the attributions now, blame TIN.)

> The problem I see is what I notice in the reviews. With one exception,
> what is being evaluated changes /per game/ by judge, not to mention
> across judges. Given this, ranking all of the entries becomes a joke.
> Unique perspectives are important, but the authors deserve a common set
> of basic, minimal criteria.

They *have* a common set of criteria: *What the judges liked*. This year,
people went to all *sorts* of different places to try to be liked. Some
worked, some didn't.

Are you counting me as the exception? It may not seem like it, but I
*did* have a single criterion, as I said. Not only that, but it's the
same one I use in the real world. (Modulo some issues about using hints
and finishing games, which are for another discussion, please. :-) I rate
games as I would enjoy them if I just ran across them on GMD.DE. I think
this is a fine basis for a competition. In what other sense are we
competing?

I think you may be confused because my *reviews* did not comment on the
same things. But my scores were not based on my reviews. Honest. The
reviews were more for the benefit of the authors than anyone else, and
focussed on the interesting (or interestingly failed) aspects of each
particular game. The scores were separate.

> Right now what is happening is a hodge-podge of scores based on
> everyone's individual criteria. While that sounds democratic, it's also
> a big muddy mess. While there appears to have been a clear winner, I
> dismiss any ranked differences between the rest of them as noise.

If you're going to worry about that, you have to worry about the much
larger skewing effect of normalization -- what counts as a "1" and what
as a "10"? That has nothing to do with the criteria. I wound up saying
that my favorite game of the entries that I played was a "10", and my
least favorite was a "1". But other people might have used a scale where
"10" was the best game *they'd ever played*, and "1" the worst.

I won't even get into linearity. Those of you who know what a gamma
factor is (in video displays) can consider its applicability. I tried to
spread the entries evenly along the 1..10 scale, which meant that "7" was
not exactly 7/9th of the way from "1" to "10". I said I wouldn't get into
this. I'll shut up now.

Darrell Rudmann

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Dec 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/5/96
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In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>, erky...@netcom.com says...

>Are you counting me as the exception? It may not seem like it, but I

No, I am not. I am counting Paul O'Brian as the exception. While giving
himself free-reign to assign scores, he also rated each story on a number of
subscales. Did you read his reviews? I respectfully submit to you that his
reviews are, as a result of the subscales, much more comprehensive, clear,
and comparable across games than yours were. Tell me if you think I'm wrong
about this.

My point is simply this: Using 'like', a simple criteria, to evaluate and
then rank complex stories is a bad idea. It will always over-simplify the
quality of the stories to the point of nearly being useless. I do not see
the mysticism in using the vague term 'like'.

I didn't judge, I submitted nothing--it just appears to be a problematic
point in the competition and the competition is worth the improvement. I
honestly do not care what is done, but as long as the competition relies on a
simple scale to evaluate complex writings, the quality of the competition
will not match that of what is submitted.

Darrell Rudmann


Stephen Granade

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Dec 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/5/96
to

On 4 Dec 1996, Darrell Rudmann wrote:
> What I mean is, to create a common attributes that can be agreed upon
> for most stories that can be used as a guidelines to ensure that every
> story gets evaluated at some basic level similarly.

I'd be afraid that no such list could be finalized--we'd degenerate into
endless squabbles over what should and should not be included.

[list of criteria snipped]


> that would not be forced on judgements but used as "Hey, make sure to
> consider all of these things," or judges could rate each game on each by
> their own choosing. These criteria I have laid out here are common to
> all stories with few exceptions and if a story was so original that it
> did not fit them, well of course the criteria become less useful.

But how do we deal with people who give different elements in the list
different weights? What if I rate games mostly on plot, while another
person rates them mostly on puzzles?

I expect use of the list would fall into two categories:
1) Some people would make a consistent evaluation based on the list.
These are the people whom I would expect already do something like this
on their own.
2) The rest would look at it, shrug, and go on rating games as they have
in the past.

> Right now what is happening is a hodge-podge of scores based on
> everyone's individual criteria. While that sounds democratic, it's also
> a big muddy mess. While there appears to have been a clear winner, I
> dismiss any ranked differences between the rest of them as noise.

I view this competition more as a popularity contest than as a
properly adjudicated competition. What you suggest would be essential if
we had "professional" judges rating all of the games. But what we have
is an "anybody vote" competition. Authors who are interested in
well-reasoned adjudication of their games should rely on posted reviews.

Staffan Friberg

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Dec 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/5/96
to

In article <kjfair-ya0232800...@uchinews.uchicago.edu>
kjf...@midway.uchicago.edu (Kenneth Fair) writes:

[...]

> Well, having just finished the review review, now I know why many people
> feel intimidated in participating on rec.arts.int-fiction; in fact, there
> doesn't seem to be much point in anyone new adding their views. I've seen
> some statements that rec.arts.int-fiction welcomes new voices, even
> inexperienced ones, but I disagree--no good newsgroup would have such

> draconian standards, such a preachy crowd, indeed nothing to draw the
> lurker in. I'm very disappointed.

If you think this is bad come over and have a look at alt.gothic...

But the big difference is that we're rather open about it over there.

I agree with you, though, the bulk of this newsgroup is made up by snotty,
elitist remarks that are being passed off as rational discussion.

--

Staffan Friberg (st...@rabbit.augs.se) Sweden
GothCode 2.0:
GoPS+3TJt(NrZ)B4/18Bk!cNRs--PSh(MoSa)V+sM++ZGo(GnNr--)C+2p3pa27-n
-Ob:-H174g+LmEa2+?w+Lr++D--!%H+PR(MoSh)s10k+RmSrNnN0890nLse!HdSp1
"Exercise caution when dealing with goths." -- MikeVK

Graham Nelson

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Dec 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/5/96
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In article <Pine.SUN.3.91.96120...@nebula.phy.duke.edu>,
Stephen Granade <URL:mailto:sgra...@phy.duke.edu> wrote:
>
> On 4 Dec 1996, Darrell Rudmann wrote:
> > This makes me think that perhaps a set of criteria and measures could be
> > created for the evaluation of IF for future competitions, to at least
> > ensure that all judges are looking for the same things and look for some
> > set of criteria equivalently for all stories. Or has this been done?
>
> I disagree. Beyond the impossibility of coming up with a set of criteria
> acceptable to all (I suspect GKW would be forced to impose one by fiat),
> I find it valuable that everyone brings a different viewpoint to the
> competition. Forcing a rigid set of criteria on the competition could
> serve to stifle certain types of games.

I agree about criteria: aesthetic judgements are not so easily
legislated for. But we might slightly normalise the scoring
system, perhaps? Perhaps each voter should have just 100 points
to award, with a maximum of 10 to any one game? I wonder what
the variation in average scores per game was.

--
Graham Nelson | gra...@gnelson.demon.co.uk | Oxford, United Kingdom


Magnus Olsson

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Dec 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/6/96
to

In article <staff...@rabbit.augs.se>,

Staffan Friberg <st...@rabbit.augs.se> wrote:
>I agree with you, though, the bulk of this newsgroup is made up by snotty,
>elitist remarks that are being passed off as rational discussion.

The bulk??? Some of the messages, agreed, and the "elitism" has
increased lately (especially, IMAO, in one regard: the number of
reviewers slamming games with a fantasy theme. Granted, there's rather
a lot of rather formaulaic fantasy games (Go on a quest to get the
magic McGuffin, use it to defeat the Bad Guy) out there, but people
are going too far in their blanket condemnations. As an aside, I was more
amused than offended when a reviewer lumped "Aayela", "Wearing the Claw"
and "Liquid" together as "standard fantasy games", as if those games
were totally indistinugishable from each other), but this newsgroup is
still remarkably calm, rational and friendly.

And, if I might be frank, aren't you being a bit snotty yourself,
branding me and everybody else as snotty elitists?

>GothCode 2.0:

Pardon my ignorance, but what exactly *is* a Goth (the modern kind)?
Seems I got out of touch with youth culture about two or three years
ago. Sniff, I'm getting old...

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se)

Andrew Plotkin

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Dec 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/6/96
to

Staffan Friberg (st...@rabbit.augs.se) wrote:

> I agree with you, though, the bulk of this newsgroup is made up by snotty,
> elitist remarks that are being passed off as rational discussion.

You're just saying that because you're jealous.

--Z

(Note: It is left as an exercise for the reader how many layers of irony I
intended in that statement. Heh. Seriously, this newsgroup is the most
content-heavy, flame-light newsgroup I read, and the *only* unmoderated
group in which I read every message that's posted. If you think that I
only think that because I'm one of the elitist snots, well, you'll just
have to out-arrogate me. I was opinionated *before* I started uploading
games to GMD, too...)

(Hint on exercise: Not zero.)

Gerry Kevin Wilson

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Dec 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/6/96
to

But if anyone is truly hard up on how to rate the games next year, they
can download the SPAG FAQ and use the system there. It rounds off to an
integer pretty easily.
--
"Shh...<looks around worriedly> The wires have ears, you know..."

Bob Adams

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Dec 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/6/96
to

In article <587la5$g...@bartlet.df.lth.se>, Magnus Olsson
<m...@bartlet.df.lth.se> writes

>In article <staff...@rabbit.augs.se>,


>Staffan Friberg <st...@rabbit.augs.se> wrote:
>>I agree with you, though, the bulk of this newsgroup is made up by snotty,
>>elitist remarks that are being passed off as rational discussion.
>

ROTFL! Wonderful comment by Staffan. I remember saying something similar
myself not so long ago and have just 'lurked' ever since. Now that even
some of the snotty elitists are tearing each other apart after their
competition, I feel the urge to participate once again.

>The bulk??? Some of the messages, agreed, and the "elitism" has
>increased lately (especially, IMAO, in one regard: the number of
>reviewers slamming games with a fantasy theme. Granted, there's rather
>a lot of rather formaulaic fantasy games (Go on a quest to get the
>magic McGuffin, use it to defeat the Bad Guy) out there, but people
>are going too far in their blanket condemnations.

Strangely enough, if you examine the output from the commercial IF
houses - guess what is still the most common theme for a plot?

And it was also this point that disturbed me the most when reading the
scores and reviews. I saw someone say that his reviews did not
necessarily equate to his scores (duh, I'll have to lie down for a
while to comprehend that one!) but I definitely didn't like the
inference that if a reviewer didn't like the storyline (or even worse,
the utility used) then he didn't like the adventure.

Sorry guys but your own personal pet loves and hates doesn't (shouldn't)
come into it. You were supposed to be judging and scoring according to
the authors all-round competence, not whether he wrote in your
particular favourite genre or not.

Otherwise, next year the authors will find out who the judges are and
what their favourite plot is - and write an adventure to suit. Is that
what you really want?

--
Bob Adams
http://www.amster.demon.co.uk


Staffan Friberg

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Dec 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/6/96
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In article <587gk6$5...@vixen.cso.uiuc.edu>
drud...@nyx.net (Darrell Rudmann) writes:

> I didn't judge, I submitted nothing--it just appears to be a problematic
> point in the competition and the competition is worth the improvement. I
> honestly do not care what is done, but as long as the competition relies on a
> simple scale to evaluate complex writings, the quality of the competition
> will not match that of what is submitted.

So what should be done is to have a complex scale to evaluate complex
writings? Or perhaps no scale at all?

The way I see it complex things can be broken down into less complex things
and thus a simple scale can be used. You don't have to miss out anything
important if you reduce a game to things like:

Plot

Prose

Puzzles

and so on as long as you have an

Overall.

The whole game is often more than the sum of it's parts but to evaluate
complex things we generally need to simplify them first. If, for instance,
you like the story behind a game very much you'll probably give it rather
high scores despite the fact that the author has made a few spelling
mistakes.

I've probably missed the point by a few miles but these are my views,
anyway.

Staffan Friberg

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Dec 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/6/96
to

In article <587la5$g...@bartlet.df.lth.se>
m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) writes:

> The bulk??? Some of the messages, agreed, and the "elitism" has
> increased lately (especially, IMAO, in one regard: the number of
> reviewers slamming games with a fantasy theme. Granted, there's rather
> a lot of rather formaulaic fantasy games (Go on a quest to get the

Well, it was a slight exaggeration and I wrote it that way to provoke some
kind of reaction.

Annoying people is a hobby of mine, can you tell? ;)

> magic McGuffin, use it to defeat the Bad Guy) out there, but people

> are going too far in their blanket condemnations. As an aside, I was more
> amused than offended when a reviewer lumped "Aayela", "Wearing the Claw"
> and "Liquid" together as "standard fantasy games", as if those games
> were totally indistinugishable from each other), but this newsgroup is
> still remarkably calm, rational and friendly.

Yes, I agree it's calm and friendly but if you look under the surface a
little you see some things that aren't very nice. As for rational, as i
said in the post you responded to arguments seem rational at first but very
often you realise that there is a hidden agenda to much that's being said.

What I said goes for just about everyone (including myself, of course) but
it was not to be taken as meaning that everyone is being elitist whenever
they write something. It happens but it happens a little to often, IMHO.

I quite like this group, I wouldn't be here otherwise but I dread the day I
actually release a game, the comments will probably be very harsh, and
justifiably so... :-)

> And, if I might be frank, aren't you being a bit snotty yourself,
> branding me and everybody else as snotty elitists?

Oh, yes! I certainly am.

> >GothCode 2.0:
>
> Pardon my ignorance, but what exactly *is* a Goth (the modern kind)?
> Seems I got out of touch with youth culture about two or three years
> ago. Sniff, I'm getting old...

I'm not sure I'd call it a youth culture because most of us are getting
older as well. There isn't a definition but most of us always dress in
black and listen to strange music like Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, The Cure
and Fields of the Nephilim.

In a newsgroup file of some kind I found this:

alt.gothic Of things dark and mournful.

Staffan Friberg

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Dec 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/6/96
to

In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>
erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin) writes:

> Staffan Friberg (st...@rabbit.augs.se) wrote:
>
> > I agree with you, though, the bulk of this newsgroup is made up by snotty,
> > elitist remarks that are being passed off as rational discussion.
>

> You're just saying that because you're jealous.

Rats! now you've broken my cover.

Andrew Plotkin

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Dec 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/6/96
to

Bob Adams (ams...@amster.demon.co.uk) wrote:
> ["generic" fantasy plots"]

> Strangely enough, if you examine the output from the commercial IF
> houses - guess what is still the most common theme for a plot?

Commercial IF houses have very little to do with what I'm interested in.
I dislike almost all of what they do.

> And it was also this point that disturbed me the most when reading the
> scores and reviews. I saw someone say that his reviews did not
> necessarily equate to his scores (duh, I'll have to lie down for a
> while to comprehend that one!)

Sorry. Maybe I shouldn't have called my reviews "reviews". They were my
comments on the pieces, with an eye to what I'd like the author to
change, or fix, or do more of. They really weren't "reviews" in the sense
of saying whether I thought other people would like them. (They included
comments on whether *I* liked them, which is at least as important in a
review, but they did not attempt to be complete or consistent on that
subject.)

I was willing to allocate five words to an aspect I liked, and five
paragraphs to an aspect I didn't like, *even if the aspect I liked had
more impact on my final score*. I was willing to pick out and analyze the
single good aspect of a game I didn't really like at all. That's what I
mean when I say the comments did not necessarily equate to my ratings.
See?

> but I definitely didn't like the
> inference that if a reviewer didn't like the storyline (or even worse,
> the utility used) then he didn't like the adventure.

But it's true. If I don't like the story, I will tend to not like the
book (or movie, or in this case, game.)

> Sorry guys but your own personal pet loves and hates doesn't (shouldn't)
> come into it. You were supposed to be judging and scoring according to
> the authors all-round competence

You make this supposition, but I don't accept it, and I don't see
anything in the rules to imply that Whizzard intended it.

> Otherwise, next year the authors will find out who the judges are and
> what their favourite plot is - and write an adventure to suit. Is that
> what you really want?

There were 60 judges in this year's competition, discounting the "Miss
Congeniality" contest. That must have been a fairly representative sample
of the readership of r.a.i-f and r.g.i-f. If the authors write to suit
that audience -- the newsgroup readership -- wow, are you surprised? Isn't
that we're *all* doing, implicitly, by reading this newsgroup at all? If I
wrote a game that I thought you people wouldn't enjoy (and I did), I
certainly wouldn't enter it in the competition with the expectation of
winning (and I didn't. I only entered "Lists" because I thought you
people would find it worth a giggle.)

--Z

Russ Bryan

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Dec 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/6/96
to

In article <JcaPGFA1...@amster.demon.co.uk>, Bob Adams
<ams...@amster.demon.co.uk> wrote:

> Sorry guys but your own personal pet loves and hates doesn't (shouldn't)
> come into it. You were supposed to be judging and scoring according to

> the authors all-round competence, not whether he wrote in your
> particular favourite genre or not.

As this was the point of my article, I'm hoping all of this snotty elitist
stuff isn't being applied to me.

Peasants.

-- Russ

Admiral Jota

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Dec 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/6/96
to

Bob Adams <ams...@amster.demon.co.uk> writes:

[A lot of stuff snipped, because I just wanted to respond to a little bit
of Bob's article, taken totally out of context ;) ]

>Sorry guys but your own personal pet loves and hates doesn't (shouldn't)
>come into it. You were supposed to be judging and scoring according to
>the authors all-round competence, not whether he wrote in your
>particular favourite genre or not.

I could be wrong, but I had no clue that we were supposed to be judging
the authors' all-round competence. If we were, Andrew Plotkin probably
ought to be rated much more highly than he was, because he has (in the
past) shown himself to be very competent. But I thought we were supposed
to rate the games themselves.

And I also thought that the point of the contest was to find out which
games the populus of the ng liked best -- not the ones that was the most
literary, nor the ones that fits most perfectly into a certain set of
criteria, nor the ones that happen to be the most new and innovative. I
thought the contest was just to see which ones we liked the best.

>Otherwise, next year the authors will find out who the judges are and
>what their favourite plot is - and write an adventure to suit. Is that
>what you really want?

Yes. Please. You see, the 'judges' are we -- all of us on
rec.arts.int-fiction and rec.games.int-fiction who wish to participate in
the judging. That includes me. If you wish, that includes you. I would
be overjoyed if the authors found out which types of games the readers
of rec.*.i-f like best, and wrote adventures to suit. Wouldn't you?

--
/<-= -=-=- -= Admiral Jota =- -=-=- =->\
__/><-=- http://www.tiac.net/users/jota/ =-><\__
\><-= jo...@mv.mv.com -- Finger for PGP =-></
\<-=- -= -=- -= -==- =- -=- =- -=->/

Dan Shiovitz

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Dec 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/7/96
to

In article <ant052249868M+4%@gnelson.demon.co.uk>,

I agree with what I think you're saying, which is that it's silly that
some people awarded scores like "6 7 8 10 10 9 6 8" and some people did
"4 3 5 8 3 4 2 6" and some people did "2 8 3 7 7 4 10", which I'm sure
must make the whole averaging thing quite odd. The way you say seems
to be an ok workaround, but it doesn't deal with the problem of people
judging a variable number of games, or with the problem that they might
happen to really like all the games they get, and so they finally decide
to give game A a 7 and B an 8, whereas another person hates game A and
so has enough points to give game B a 10. But I'm not sure what a better
solution is .. (is there a statistician in the house?)

>Graham Nelson | gra...@gnelson.demon.co.uk | Oxford, United Kingdom

Cardinal Teulbachs

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Dec 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/7/96
to

kjf...@midway.uchicago.edu (Kenneth Fair) made so bold as to state:

>(Russ, please take this with a grain of salt. I just couldn't resist.)
>[review of review of review of something now long forgotten snipped]

Alright! Such a damned good brawl going on over here and I didn't even
know it!

I'd score it, so far:

Elitist snobs: 7
Anti-elitist snobs: 9

But that's on a scale of 1 to the frequency of x-rays, which is just
the measure I personally favor. If we break everything down into more
manageable bites and reckon them against the size of the Milky Way
galaxy, the score comes out more like:

Little bitty elitist snobs: 13.88562E + 10
Great big outrageous-sized elitist snobs: 22.93135E + 10
Little bitty anti-elitist snobs: 17.25875E + 10
Great big outrageous-sized anti-elitist snobs: 26.64421E + 10

which is, I think everyone will agree, a much larger set of figures.

Anyway, since we have taken to speaking our minds so freely here, I
want to remind everyone that there is only one elitist snob on this
newsgroup--me--and that's all there ever will be. The rest of you are
only pale imitations--mere goosedroppings, measured on the galactic
scale of snobitic elitistry.

Kneel thou, then, before me. I am


--Cardinal T

I mean, what the hell kind of villain thwarts the hero's
progress with soup cans in the kitchen pantry?
--Russ Bryan

Are there any text games prominently featuring dinosaurs?
If not, does anyone besides me think it would be cool?
--Matthew Amster-Burton

Please be as rational as possible
--Mike Thomas

"Bathroom? Yeah. Go through that door, on the end
of the hall, on your left." "Pardon?" "South twice,
than east." "Ah."
--Clyde "Fred" Sloniker


John Wood

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Dec 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/7/96
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@vixen.cso.uiuc.edu> <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>
Message-ID: <502848...@elvw.demon.co.uk>
Date: Saturday, Dec 07, 1996 13.03.36
Organization: None
Reply-To: jo...@elvw.demon.co.uk
X-Newsreader: Newswin Alpha 0.7
Lines: 39

erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin) writes:
>
> Nope. I deny this set of criteria, and all sets of criteria. I have a
> criterion, which is "Did I like it?" This is totally vague and subsumes
> everything that is important to me -- but not by computation, because
> that's not the way I rate games.

Well, I started out rating games by a set of criteria (this is my first
IF competition, and it seemed the sensible thing to do). By the time
I'd played half a dozen entries, I'd got a "feel" for what I was doing
and didn't bother with the numbers. I think I still had the categories
in my head, though; if asked to compare any two games for quality of
writing or characterisation of NPCs I could probably have done it
(though some didn't really have a plot, so that would be harder).

My final scores were based on "did I like it" gut feeling. This is, of
course, not enough when writing reviews...

> I rate
> games as I would enjoy them if I just ran across them on GMD.DE. I think
> this is a fine basis for a competition. In what other sense are we
> competing?

Hear hear!

> If you're going to worry about that, you have to worry about the much
> larger skewing effect of normalization -- what counts as a "1" and what
> as a "10"? That has nothing to do with the criteria. I wound up saying
> that my favorite game of the entries that I played was a "10", and my
> least favorite was a "1". But other people might have used a scale where
> "10" was the best game *they'd ever played*, and "1" the worst.

I did the same as you. In fact, I'd assigned scores before I'd played
all the games, and had to rejig the numbers at the end to keep within
the 1-10 range.

John

John Wood

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Dec 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/7/96
to

erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin) writes:
>
> Staffan Friberg (st...@rabbit.augs.se) wrote:
>
> > I agree with you, though, the bulk of this newsgroup is made up by snotty,
> > elitist remarks that are being passed off as rational discussion.
>
> You're just saying that because you're jealous.
>
> --Z
>
> (Note: It is left as an exercise for the reader how many layers of irony I
> intended in that statement. Heh. Seriously, this newsgroup is the most
> content-heavy, flame-light newsgroup I read, and the *only* unmoderated
> group in which I read every message that's posted. If you think that I
> only think that because I'm one of the elitist snots, well, you'll just
> have to out-arrogate me. I was opinionated *before* I started uploading
> games to GMD, too...)

Hm. I'd have agreed wholeheartedly with you six months ago. Three months
ago, I'd have reluctantly agreed with you - there seemed to be a spate of
(relatively) acrimonious squabbling and elitism going on. Still nothing
like most newsgroups, though.

Now? I think things have improved again, a lot. Maybe the competition
reminded everyone of why we are *really* here.

FWIW, I read almost all the messages here. I skip "problems with <X>"
msgs, where <X> is an operating system I'm not familiar with; static
fiction; spam and discussion thereof; and that's about it. It's also
the only newsgroup I've never unsubscribed from when I've been too busy
to keep up - I just lurk instead.

So, a qualified "me too"...

> (Hint on exercise: Not zero.)

ROFL!

John

Adam J. Thornton

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Dec 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/7/96
to

In article <jota.84...@laraby.tiac.net>,
Admiral Jota <jo...@laraby.tiac.net> wrote:

>Bob Adams <ams...@amster.demon.co.uk> writes:
>>Sorry guys but your own personal pet loves and hates doesn't (shouldn't)
>>come into it. You were supposed to be judging and scoring according to
>>the authors all-round competence, not whether he wrote in your
>>particular favourite genre or not.
>I could be wrong, but I had no clue that we were supposed to be judging
>the authors' all-round competence. If we were, Andrew Plotkin probably
>ought to be rated much more highly than he was, because he has (in the
>past) shown himself to be very competent. But I thought we were supposed
>to rate the games themselves.

If we were judging on authorial competence, Graham Nelson would win
everything and Plotkin would get second and then there'd be an interesting
competition for the other awards.

But I have my own method of scoring, and it's the one I'm going to stick to
next year. It goes something like this:

"How much did I like this game?"

"Small World" gets a nine; it was not fair, the game was probably too large to
play in two hours, the inventory management was Damn Annoying, but I loved
the premise, I thought the implementation was exceedingly clever, and The
Devil is one of the finest characters I've ever met in IF. Sure, I had to
make extensive use of the hints. Oh well. But I loved _The Phantom
Tollbooth_ (an obvious source for "Small World") and I loved the game.
Hence, a nine.

"My First Stupid Game" gets a two. An arbitrary death timer, urination, a
bear, horrid prose, Sammy Hagar, and gratuitous gory scenery all combined
to make it a thoroughly unenjoyable experience. The two was generous. I
should have given it a one.

"In The End" got, I think, a three. Yes, I understand what the author was
trying to do. But I just didn't enjoy the game. I didn't feel that my
character _was_ bored enough to kill himself out of ennui. I mean, there's
plenty of stuff to keep me interested for a few game days: the magazine and
the girl, for starters. Heck, I wanted to go back to her apartment and try
to get a date. I wanted to meet the guy the magazine was ordered for. I
wanted to get to know the bartender. Death-by-ennui was never that close.
I was also put off by how little prose there _was_ in the game. It felt
like a non-interactive three-page story.

Now, next year, if I have to give games a Plot, Puzzles, Character,
whateverish SPAGlike rating, I can. But I'll tell you now what's going to
happen: I'm going to ask "How much did I like this game" and then make up
the individual scores to fit.

Adam
--
"I'd buy me a used car lot, and | ad...@princeton.edu | As B/4 | Save the choad!
I'd never sell any of 'em, just | "Skippy, you little fool, you are off on an-
drive me a different car every day | other of your senseless and retrograde
depending on how I feel.":Tom Waits| little journeys.": Thomas Pynchon | 64,928

Steven Howard

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Dec 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/7/96
to

In <JcaPGFA1...@amster.demon.co.uk>, Bob Adams <ams...@amster.demon.co.uk> writes:
>In article <587la5$g...@bartlet.df.lth.se>, Magnus Olsson
><m...@bartlet.df.lth.se> writes
>
>>The bulk??? Some of the messages, agreed, and the "elitism" has
>>increased lately (especially, IMAO, in one regard: the number of
>>reviewers slamming games with a fantasy theme. Granted, there's rather
>>a lot of rather formaulaic fantasy games (Go on a quest to get the
>>magic McGuffin, use it to defeat the Bad Guy) out there, but people
>>are going too far in their blanket condemnations.
>
>Strangely enough, if you examine the output from the commercial IF
>houses - guess what is still the most common theme for a plot?

It's not that strange. I, for one, am sick and tired of standard
fantasy quest games in large part BECAUSE there are so many of them.
(I feel compelled to point out, however, that "Aayela" and "Wearing
the Claw" tied for 5th Place in my votes.)

========
Steven Howard
bl...@ibm.net

What's a nice word like "euphemism" doing in a sentence like this?

null...@aol.com

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Dec 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/7/96
to

> Sorry guys but your own personal pet loves and hates doesn't (shouldn't)

> come into it. You were supposed to be judging and scoring according to
> the authors all-round competence, not whether he wrote in your
> particular favourite genre or not.

I'll second (third?) Andrew Plotkin: This is exactly what I thought I was
supposed to be doing, judging solely according to *whether I liked the
game*. If an author has written a technically impressive, complex, well
spellchecked game that I want to throw across the room, then I feel
obligated to give it a low score. Contrarily, if there's a game that's
buggy and sloppy but makes me want to keep playing it, I'll give it a high
score.

I don't feel qualified to judge authors' "all-around competence", or even
say what that might mean. I do feel qualified to judge whether they've
written a game that I, personally, enjoy, which is what I thought the
point of the competition was (games that people in general like, I mean,
not me personally).

> Otherwise, next year the authors will find out who the judges are and
> what their favourite plot is - and write an adventure to suit. Is that
> what you really want?

Well, from the sound of it, the only "favorite plot" that the judges
(i.e., everyone here on r.a.i-f and r.g.i-f has in common is: "Give me
something totally new and different but still faithful to the old I-F
traditions, with puzzles that are not too hard or too easy, or maybe you
shouldn't have puzzles at all, but still make it interactive, not linear."
Anyone who can pull that off certainly deserves to win next year's
competition...

(Also, you may want to note that despite all the fantasy-bashing, the
winner of this year's competition was a straight Zork-universe homage.
Obviously people's tastes are more complex than you're giving them credit
for.)

Steven Howard

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Dec 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/7/96
to

In <58afbp$e...@nntp5.u.washington.edu>, scy...@u.washington.edu (Dan Shiovitz) writes:
>In article <ant052249868M+4%@gnelson.demon.co.uk>,
>Graham Nelson <gra...@gnelson.demon.co.uk> wrote:

>>I agree about criteria: aesthetic judgements are not so easily
>>legislated for. But we might slightly normalise the scoring
>>system, perhaps? Perhaps each voter should have just 100 points
>>to award, with a maximum of 10 to any one game? I wonder what
>>the variation in average scores per game was.
>
>I agree with what I think you're saying, which is that it's silly that
>some people awarded scores like "6 7 8 10 10 9 6 8" and some people did
>"4 3 5 8 3 4 2 6" and some people did "2 8 3 7 7 4 10", which I'm sure
>must make the whole averaging thing quite odd.

I wondered about that as well. I've noticed, when reading the many
reviews and scorecards that others have posted, that my scores tend
to be lower across the board. I don't want to bore everyone with
yet another rehash of "Here's how I voted and why", so here's how I
voted, without the why. Or the what:

I gave six games a "1", six games a "2", three games a "3", four games
a "4", two games a "5", two games a "6", one game a "7" and two games
an "8", for a total of 88 points, averaging 3.77 points per game.

So, is anyone meaner than me?

Andrew Plotkin

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Dec 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/7/96
to

Dan Shiovitz (scy...@u.washington.edu) wrote:
> >I agree about criteria: aesthetic judgements are not so easily
> >legislated for. But we might slightly normalise the scoring
> >system, perhaps? Perhaps each voter should have just 100 points
> >to award, with a maximum of 10 to any one game? I wonder what
> >the variation in average scores per game was.

> I agree with what I think you're saying, which is that it's silly that
> some people awarded scores like "6 7 8 10 10 9 6 8" and some people did
> "4 3 5 8 3 4 2 6" and some people did "2 8 3 7 7 4 10", which I'm sure

> must make the whole averaging thing quite odd. The way you say seems
> to be an ok workaround, but it doesn't deal with the problem of people
> judging a variable number of games, or with the problem that they might
> happen to really like all the games they get, and so they finally decide
> to give game A a 7 and B an 8, whereas another person hates game A and
> so has enough points to give game B a 10. But I'm not sure what a better
> solution is .. (is there a statistician in the house?)

I was thinking about this months ago, when the rules for this contest
were being debated.

The draconian solution is to normalize everybody's set of scores -- in
the statistical sense, normalizing both mean and deviation. This means,
roughly, that you take each set of scores and shift it up or down until
the average is exactly 5, and then you spread or narrow the range until
it's, er, exactly the same as everyone else's range in a statistical
sense which I don't feel like explaining.

So if you rate only three games, assigning scores "2, 3, 4" winds up being
the same as assigning "2, 6, 10".

This seems a little too much. (For one thing, if you play only one or two
games, you might as well not send in your scores at all.)

We could normalize the mean but not the deviation. Shift the scores up and
down so that the average is 5, and that's all. (Now, if you rate three
games, assigning "2, 3, 4" is the same as assigning "8, 9, 10", but
different from "1, 5, 9". The first two options say that the three games
are close together in quality, and the third says that they vary a lot.
You could also meaningfully say "1, 9, 10" or something like that.)

This latter scheme is similar to what Graham suggested. Actually it's
morally identical to a variant of Graham's scheme: "Each voter is given a
pool of N points, where N is 5 times the number of games he played. He
can divide the points up among those games however he wants, assigning no
less than 0 and no more than 10 points per game." You can see that this
forces the average to be 5.

If you want the ranges to be comparable, without strictly normalizing
them, you could add a rule that the worst game you play must be a 0, and
the best game a 10. This is still harsh on someone who players only two
games -- they would have to make a "0, 10" split. And of course it's
always impossible to rate one game in any scheme that normalizes the
mean. But I don't think it's a big deal to require people to play at
least three games.

All of these schemes are complex, and I don't actually recommend any of
them. I think the current scheme isn't really any better, but at least
it's simple.

Gerry Kevin Wilson

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Dec 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/7/96
to

Personally, I envision the voting as simply being that folks should invent
their own personal standards and grade on them consistantly. I was
disappointed, for instance, to see Buddha downgraded once or twice because
it was a college game, since that really wasn't a major part of anything,
but it's up to the players themselves to decide these things. That's how
it can be considered a Player's Choice awards. I'll mention again that if
you really don't know how to grade the games, the SPAG system works fine
and incorporates a lot of stuff.

With the current voting scheme, things seem to work pretty decently. The
games best loved gravitated to the top of the pile, just as hoped for. So
it seems to work okay, even if a voter who say votes like 3 3 4 5 6 6 6 7
7 7 doesn't have as much effect on things as a voter who sends in 1 1 3 3
4 5 7 8 9 10 (because of the difference in degree of change) they still
have a good deal of effect. Most folks scaled their votes on the whole
1-10 bar anyways. Short, sweet and simple.
--
<~~~VERTIGO~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~SPAG~~~~TENTH~ISSUE~DUE~REAL~SOON~NOW~~~~~|~~~~~~~>
< The Society for the Preservation of Adventure games. Filled with | ~~\ >
< reviews, ratings, and advertisements...all about text adventures. | /~\ | >
<___SOFTWARE______E-MAIL...@uclink.berkeley.edu__|_\__/__>

Matthew T. Russotto

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Dec 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/7/96
to

In article <JcaPGFA1...@amster.demon.co.uk>,
Bob Adams <ams...@amster.demon.co.uk> wrote:

}Sorry guys but your own personal pet loves and hates doesn't (shouldn't)
}come into it. You were supposed to be judging and scoring according to
}the authors all-round competence, not whether he wrote in your
}particular favourite genre or not.

We were? Last I checked, there were no criteria given in the judging
rules. Scores from 1-10, higher is better, is all. So if I find the
standard fetch-the-grail plot uninteresting, there was nothing in the
rules saying that I couldn't rate such a game '1' even if well
executed. Me, I rated the games on how much I liked them (with one
exception -- the best(worst?) abuse of the Z-machine since Freefall.
I loved it, but it wasn't I-F, IMO). My personal prejudices were all
I took into account.


}Otherwise, next year the authors will find out who the judges are and
}what their favourite plot is - and write an adventure to suit. Is that
}what you really want?

Why not? Of course, any author doing so runs the risk that I've
become bored with the plot while they were writing the adventure.
--
Matthew T. Russotto russ...@pond.com
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue."

Jason Melancon

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Dec 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/8/96
to

"Sorry guys but your own personal pet loves and hates don't
(shouldn't) come into it." 由uss Bryan <cle...@javanet.com>

"If an author has written a technically impressive, complex, well
spellchecked game that I want to throw across the room, then I feel
obligated to give it a low score. Contrarily, if there's a game that's
buggy and sloppy but makes me want to keep playing it, I'll give it a

high score." 湧eil DeMause <ne...@echonyc.com>

"If you really don't know how to grade the games, the SPAG system
works fine and incorporates a lot of stuff." 邑hizzard
<whiz...@uclink.berkeley.edu>

---------------------------------------------------------

Here are my two cents on this:

I guess I don't see anything wrong with breaking up the scoring
process by individually grading criteria, it's just that the criteria
may vary.

Doubtless most games will be right to score via a system like what
would be appropriate to use in a SPAG rating. So use one! Why not?
It will make reviewing that game easier later, it will make your score
more specific and detailed, and you can even send the final list to
Whizzard for use in SPAG, because the goal of his list and the goal of
the voting are approximately the same, as I understand them. After
all, if you give, for example, Atmosphere, a "2.0", it's because you
*liked* the atmosphere, right? I mean, are people saying his rating
system is too rigid?

Two problems with this are 1) your votes won't have as much
statistical impact since, e.g., your favorite probably won't be a 10,
and 2) not all games will have the same prominent aspects, or in
ratios that SPAG's four main ones represent. In other words, maybe a
game doesn't have a plot per se, but it's the funniest damn thing
since The Beautiful South. (I'm sure these two have been raised here
recently, but I'll recap.) As far as I can figure, their respective
solutions are simply 1) expand proportionally, adjust and round votes
so your extremes are one or more 1s and 10s (see A. Plotkin's post for
real info), and 2) use a better set of criteria! No biggie! . . . ?

----

Some more benefits to doing this that I personally noticed follow.
These are probably, however, very individual, plus I didn't do it both
ways and then choose this way. So what follows can't really recommend
using criteria, but maybe some can relate:

I found that using criteria forced me to notice certain things about
some games that made me re-evaluate my attitude toward them. An ex.:
After I played "Kissing," I was anxious to rate it lowly because I
couldn't find the model, or the game, or word the chair thing etc.
But, if I recall, sitting there trying to rate its gameplay and all, I
realized its atmosphere, writing, and the fact that Evan responded to
queries about EVERY NOUN IN THE GAME really did redeem it. It's too
early for me to go on any more. Hihihihe, sorry

----

"I always thought people played adventures for entertainment. Don't
tell me I've been doing it wrong all these years!" 唯ob Adams
<ams...@amster.demon.co.uk>

I haven't had to worry about this yet, but something we may be
forgetting is that "Enjoyability" and Quality in text games may not be
the same thing. I'm thinking of fiction like the movie "Platoon."
Art that shows us something important about the world, but is
unpleasant to watch or think about, may not be "likeable" (while it
may indeed be "entertaining" in a sense). You respect this sort of
thing more than like it, often. Or maybe I'm just playing word games.

If I'm outta line, tell me off,
Jason Melan輟n


null...@aol.com

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Dec 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/8/96
to

> I gave six games a "1", six games a "2", three games a "3", four games
> a "4", two games a "5", two games a "6", one game a "7" and two games
> an "8", for a total of 88 points, averaging 3.77 points per game.
>
> So, is anyone meaner than me?

I gave four games a "1", three games a "2", two games a "3", four games a
"4", one game a "5", one game a "7", one an "8" and one a "10". That's 62
points over 17 games, for an average of 3.65.

Guess I'm the reigning Meen Bastard champion of the newsgroup, for now
anyway.

Bill Hoggett

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Dec 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/8/96
to

On 07-Dec-96 Cardinal Teulbachs <card...@earthlink.net> wrote:

>kjf...@midway.uchicago.edu (Kenneth Fair) made so bold as to state:

>>(Russ, please take this with a grain of salt. I just couldn't resist.)
>>[review of review of review of something now long forgotten snipped]

>Alright! Such a damned good brawl going on over here and I didn't even
>know it!

>I'd score it, so far:

>Elitist snobs: 7
>Anti-elitist snobs: 9

Is that

Anti-(elitist snobs)

or

(Anti-elitist) snobs ?

Just wondering...


Bill Hoggett (aka BeeJay) <mas.su...@easynet.co.uk>

IF GOD IS LIFE'S SERVICE PROVIDER WHY HAVEN'T I GOT HIS I.P. NUMBER ?


Bob Adams

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Dec 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/8/96
to

In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>, Andrew Plotkin
<erky...@netcom.com> writes

>> Strangely enough, if you examine the output from the commercial IF
>> houses - guess what is still the most common theme for a plot?
>

>Commercial IF houses have very little to do with what I'm interested in.
>I dislike almost all of what they do.
>

Now there's an elitist statement for you. :-)

>
>> but I definitely didn't like the
>> inference that if a reviewer didn't like the storyline (or even worse,
>> the utility used) then he didn't like the adventure.
>
>But it's true. If I don't like the story, I will tend to not like the
>book (or movie, or in this case, game.)
>

>> Sorry guys but your own personal pet loves and hates doesn't (shouldn't)
>> come into it. You were supposed to be judging and scoring according to

>> the authors all-round competence
>
>You make this supposition, but I don't accept it, and I don't see
>anything in the rules to imply that Whizzard intended it.
>

I'll accept your comment as true as I did not study the rules. However,
if the rules did not include any reference to judging the authors all-
round writing/programming/presentation competence, then I fail to
understand why the group bothered to organise a competition in the first
place.

Jennifer Lautenschlager

unread,
Dec 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/9/96
to

erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin) wrote:

>I was thinking about this months ago, when the rules for this contest
>were being debated.

> [Several alternative suggestions for normalizing voter scores, either
> by normalizing along mean, deviation, or both, along with a few
> other proposals, deleted.]

>All of these schemes are complex, and I don't actually recommend any of
>them. I think the current scheme isn't really any better, but at least
>it's simple.

Being an inherently lazy lurker, I tend to agree that it wouldn't be
worth the effort. Someone who *really* cared about the issue, though,
and who had access to the actual votes and not just the results, could
go through and apply a few of the normalization techniques. Just to
see whether or not they had any effect whatsoever.

Jennifer


Cardinal Teulbachs

unread,
Dec 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/9/96
to

mas.su...@easynet.co.uk (Bill Hoggett) made so bold as to state:

>Is that

> Anti-(elitist snobs)

>or

> (Anti-elitist) snobs ?

>Just wondering...


You programmer-types. Always bracketing things. To be honest, I'm not
exactly sure what the rules of precedence are in this case.

(Whew. Barely ducked that one.)

Gerry Kevin Wilson

unread,
Dec 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/9/96
to

In article <1obAbBAx...@amster.demon.co.uk>,

Bob Adams <ams...@amster.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>
>I'll accept your comment as true as I did not study the rules. However,
>if the rules did not include any reference to judging the authors all-
>round writing/programming/presentation competence, then I fail to
>understand why the group bothered to organise a competition in the first
>place.
>
>--
>Bob Adams
> http://www.amster.demon.co.uk
>


Bob, lighten up. It is assumed by myself, if not others, that games with
more impressive writing, form, etc. will be liked the best. I credit
folks with some taste. I gave no criteria whatever to judge the games on
because I assume that others are quite capable of forming their own
opinions and using a fair, or nearly fair, method of doing so. I doubt
that professional judges would have differed much from the final results
we got. But, as I have always said, if anyone wishes to run the
competition in a dramatically different way, there's always room for them
to organize another contest.
--
"Stress? WHO ME???!!! Never."

Admiral Jota

unread,
Dec 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/9/96
to

Bob Adams <ams...@amster.demon.co.uk> writes:

[*big* snip]

>However, if the rules did not include any reference to judging the

>authors all-round writing/programming/presentation competence, then I

>fail to understand why the group bothered to organise a competition in
>the first place.

I thought the point of the contest was two-fold: to get a bunch of new
games into the world, and to see which of them we like the best. Is that
so wrong? Even if you don't think it's worth doing, I still certainly had
fun playing all the games and voting on them. I didn't think this was any
sort of statistical study on IF writing, and I never expected the results
to be really useful for anything (except maybe to measure the fickle
opinions of the local IF community).

I just thought it was all for fun... but I guess that's not a very good
reason.

Laurel Halbany

unread,
Dec 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/9/96
to

>Bob Adams (ams...@amster.demon.co.uk) wrote:

>> Sorry guys but your own personal pet loves and hates doesn't (shouldn't)
>> come into it. You were supposed to be judging and scoring according to
>> the authors all-round competence

Really? Can you point out where that appeared in the official rules?

>> Otherwise, next year the authors will find out who the judges are and
>> what their favourite plot is - and write an adventure to suit. Is that
>> what you really want?

If all the authors write the same plot, then we get to judge them
purely on competence, which is what you just advocated--so YOU should
love that solution, right?


----------------------------------------------------------
Laurel Halbany
myt...@agora.rdrop.com
http://www.rdrop.com/users/mythago/

Francis Irving

unread,
Dec 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/9/96
to

That would be a good idea.

Can we all have access to the raw data of the scores?

It would be interesting to see how much scores for particular games
varied. e.g. I bet Tapestry had a very variable score, with some very
high marks, whereas Sherbet had a more consistently medium-high score.

Who else thinks we should have the raw data, or at least some more
statistical analysis?

Francis.


Bob Adams

unread,
Dec 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/10/96
to

In article <58gfs8$b...@agate.berkeley.edu>, Gerry Kevin Wilson
<whiz...@uclink.berkeley.edu> writes

>>I'll accept your comment as true as I did not study the rules. However,


>>if the rules did not include any reference to judging the authors all-
>>round writing/programming/presentation competence, then I fail to
>>understand why the group bothered to organise a competition in the first
>>place.

>Bob, lighten up.

Why? There is nothing 'heavy' about my above statement, merely my own
point of view. What's the problem?



> It is assumed by myself, if not others, that games with
>more impressive writing, form, etc. will be liked the best.

Assumptions are usually very dangerous things.

> I doubt
>that professional judges would have differed much from the final results
>we got. But, as I have always said, if anyone wishes to run the
>competition in a dramatically different way, there's always room for them
>to organize another contest.

Don't get petulant just because I'm trying to establish what the basis
for the competition actually was.

bout...@blade.wcc.govt.nz

unread,
Dec 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/11/96
to

In article <1obAbBAx...@amster.demon.co.uk>, Bob Adams <ams...@amster.demon.co.uk> writes:
>However,
>if the rules did not include any reference to judging the authors all-
>round writing/programming/presentation competence, then I fail to
>understand why the group bothered to organise a competition in the first
>place.
>
>--
Well, for one thing, it provides a good incentive to get started for people who
might be daunted by the effort required for a full game. As well, it's a chance
to experiment with new ideas, and get feedback on them. It's good PR for the IF
community, and, lets face it, when was the last time in history that 27 text
adventures were released on the same day?

-Giles

George Caswell

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Dec 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/11/96
to

On Mon, 9 Dec 1996, Cardinal Teulbachs wrote:

> mas.su...@easynet.co.uk (Bill Hoggett) made so bold as to state:
>
> >Is that
>
> > Anti-(elitist snobs)
>
> >or
>
> > (Anti-elitist) snobs ?
>
> >Just wondering...
>
>
> You programmer-types. Always bracketing things. To be honest, I'm not
> exactly sure what the rules of precedence are in this case.
>

Only because we don't want to remember the rules of precedence, or end up
getting them wrong.
________________________________________________
______________ _/> ____ | George Caswell, WPI CS 1999. Member L+L and |
<___ _________// _/<_ / | SOMA. Projectionist-in-training. MSTie #69762. |
// <> ___ < > / _/ | Linux + computer hobbyist. Admin of ADAMANT, a |
// /> / / _/ / / <____ | medium-powered Linux PC. Death to Microsoft! |
// </ <<</ < _/ <______/ |_For more info see http://www.wpi.edu/~timbuktu_|
</ </


Carl Muckenhoupt

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Dec 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/11/96
to

Bob Adams <ams...@amster.demon.co.uk> writes:


>I'll accept your comment as true as I did not study the rules. However,


>if the rules did not include any reference to judging the authors all-
>round writing/programming/presentation competence, then I fail to
>understand why the group bothered to organise a competition in the first
>place.

Well, initially, the competition was organised to encourage the use of
Inform. TADS was added to the 1995 contest because the TADS authors
complained until it was. The 1996 contest was organised pretty much
solely because people enjoyed the 1995 contest so much.

Frankly, I found the 1996 contest much less enjoyable than the 1995 one,
not so much because of the game quality as because of the game quantity.
Playing 12 games in a month is more pleasant than playing 27 in a month.
Especially when several of the 27 games are too large for their time
limits - the sense of rushing through the game to see as much of it as
possible in the allotted time detracts from the experience, rather like
a package holiday where you spend every day in a different city. I may
well not judge next year.
--
Carl Muckenhoupt | Text Adventures are not dead!
b...@tiac.net | Read rec.[arts|games].int-fiction to see
http://www.tiac.net/users/baf | what you're missing!

Darrell Rudmann

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Dec 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/11/96
to

A few comments, borrowing from a number of recent posts....

A number of good points have been brought up pro- and con- a
more structured rating system. If the competition is
conceptualized as a People's Choice awards, then the current
system makes complete sense to me. If this fits the spirit
of the competition, then all of the flaws inherent in this
kind of rating are appropriate.

The current system is beneficial in that those who would like
a more structured system can indeed do so on their own,
following the afore-mentioned SPAG system or by using
standard criteria for creative writng or a 'home brew'
system. It is my guess that these judges will do the authors
a bigger service in the long run by being more complete and
even-handed in their evaluation. However, in the world of
Usenet, imposing structured ratings on everybody seems likely
to produce a lot of non-compliance, particularly from those
who are fine with the current system (and they are many).

The current system may not be perfect, but then, it tolerates
most everything. Perhaps this is for the best. (This is
largely a complete reversal of what I posted earlier.
<sigh>).

It sounds as if the competition will have a bigger problem
not with the rating system but with handling so many entries,
particularly if it continues to grow at it's current rate.

Darrell Rudmann


bout...@med.wcc.govt.nz

unread,
Dec 12, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/12/96
to

In article <jota.85...@laraby.tiac.net>, jo...@laraby.tiac.net (Admiral Jota) writes:
> I didn't think this was any
> sort of statistical study on IF writing, and I never expected the results
> to be really useful for anything (except maybe to measure the fickle
> opinions of the local IF community).
>
> I just thought it was all for fun... but I guess that's not a very good
> reason.
> --
It's the best reason. As far as judging goes, I've gotten a heck of a lot more
out of e-mail feedback than from knowing where I placed. Even in the posted
reviews there was more to be gained from the comments than the scores. If Boz
gives me a four and Bar gives me a nine - what do I make of it? That the IF
community is fickle? (like I'd have to write a game to figure that one out).
But if Boz says element x annoyed him and Bar says he loved element y - I've
got food for thought.

If the purpose of the competition was to foster IF writing, then I consider it
an admirable success (and I think most others would agree). Look at what
emerged from it: a lot of new games, a list of rankings, a lot of discussion,
and hours and hours of amusement. I'll leave prioritising these as an exercise
to the reader.

If the purpose was only to assign a few winners and more than a few losers
in a popularity contest, then f*** it. How can any entrant be considered a
'loser' when they emerge from the experience with more than they started with?
Save that kind of snotty elitism for the, um, kind of people who like snotty
elitism.

I'll shut up now.

-Giles


Mike Thomas

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Dec 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/13/96
to

Cardinal Teulbachs (card...@earthlink.net) wrote:

>Is that
> Anti-(elitist snobs)
>or
> (Anti-elitist) snobs ?

Wouldn't an "anti-elitist snob" be an oxymoron? ;-)

Mike Thomas
UCNS - UGA

Zachery Tigger Bir

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Dec 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/13/96
to

mth...@mike.ucns.uga.edu (Mike Thomas) writes:

>
> Cardinal Teulbachs (card...@earthlink.net) wrote:
>
> >Is that
> > Anti-(elitist snobs)
> >or
> > (Anti-elitist) snobs ?
>
> Wouldn't an "anti-elitist snob" be an oxymoron? ;-)
>

Not at all. In the study of Folklore, it's all too common to see our
scholars "backlashing" against the norm. Sort of a "snobbery of the
hoi poloi" if you will...

Personally, I'm gettin' sick of 'em all. (Scholars, that is...)

> Mike Thomas
> UCNS - UGA

--
Zachery J. Bir - zb...@indiana.edu
http://seven.ucs.indiana.edu/~zbir/index.html

Rybread Celsius

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Dec 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/13/96
to

bout...@blade.wcc.govt.nz wrote:

>>However,
>>if the rules did not include any reference to judging the authors all-
>>round writing/programming/presentation competence, then I fail to
>>understand why the group bothered to organise a competition in the first
>>place.
>>

>>--
>Well, for one thing, it provides a good incentive to get started for people who
>might be daunted by the effort required for a full game. As well, it's a chance
>to experiment with new ideas, and get feedback on them. It's good PR for the IF
>community, and, lets face it, when was the last time in history that 27 text
>adventures were released on the same day?

I believe it was...a Tuesday. :)

On a side note, I'm sorry for everyone who didn't have one ioata of
fun with my games, sorry.

peace___anarchyfreedompunkinteractivefictionslackantiinfinityyellowoi!2o3.
/ -\--- Rotund \/ ! "Live long & | ryb...@connix.com
(/ ) Pigeon \00_| fuck off!!" |Its always after MidNite
\o-o/ _||_ Riot Nrrrd | www.connix.com/~rybread


Den of Iniquity

unread,
Dec 19, 1996, 3:00:00 AM12/19/96
to

On 13 Dec 1996, Mike Thomas wrote:
>
>Wouldn't an "anti-elitist snob" be an oxymoron? ;-)

A moron at the very least.

--
Den


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