Suggested Changes To The Competition

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M. Sean Molley

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Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
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Greetings...

Disclaimer: I was one of the folks who was around when the competition was
first organized, and we had a lot of discussion over what form it should
take. So I am probably biased towards the current format. Nevertheless:

<pet...@hotmail.com> wrote:

> 37. That's a lot of games. That's a LOT of games. More games,
> in my opinion, than you could possibly expect a sane man,
> woman, or child to play in a six week period.

I agree completely with this statement. Whizzard, I'm sure, imagined that
the competition would someday get this large (he has always thought big, as
_Avalon_ ... er, _Once and Future_ illustrates) but I certainly wouldn't
have imagined it. Extending the voting period would be the only way to
ensure that more people play more games, which is really what the
competition is supposed to be about -- not really finding "the best" game at
all, although it is always good to discover new authors and great games, but
rather more simple: encouraging as many people as possible to write games.
IF is like many other media -- the only way to get anything "out" of writing
an adventure game is if somebody else plays it.

The only concern I have is that three months (or whatever) is an awfully
long time. If I play Game 1 on 1 September and don't play Game 37 until 30
November, how will that impact my ratings? I can hardly remember Game 1 at
that point: will I fairly rate Game 37 in the context of the games I played
so long ago?

Of course, one could argue that the same problem happens now, or even worse,
most reviewers simply don't play most of the entries. I think lengthening
the voting period would be more beneficial than harmful. Perhaps it should
be calculated each year as a function of the number of entries received?
2.5 days times the number of entries or something similar.

> Each game entered into the competition is the result of
> someone's time and labor, and each and every game therefore
> deserves the full attention of those who wish to play, vote, and
> review it.

I couldn't have said it better than myself. Which is exactly why I disagree
with the following statement:

> With an expanded three month voting period, the worst rule of
> the competition could also be revoked: the dreaded two hour
> limit. This limit is EVIL! What sort of message is it sending?

The two-hour rule is the heart and soul of the entire competition. It
accomplishes, in my opinion, exactly what it was intended to accomplish --
to encourage more people to write games, because they know they don't _have_
to enter a "Curses" or "The Legend Lives" or "So Far" just to have a shot at
being considered.

> Next time, don't work so hard. Don't try so hard. Don't make
> your game so long or so challenging or so good. Compromise
> your work's quality so more people finish it."

No, no, no. That is exactly NOT the message that the rule sends. The
competition was never intended to be about large games. Never. And it
never should be -- at least not _this_ competition. If somebody else wants
to start an annual "Best IF Game of the Year" contest, with no time limit,
fine. (Of course, one could argue that the XYZZY Awards already serve that
very purpose.)

Besides, who says that a short game must necessarily be of low quality? I
think the past years' entrants have more than disproved that theory. It
takes just as much work (if not more) to make an excellent short game as it
does to make a poor large game.

The two-hour rule serves the following purposes (among others):

1. The rule makes it more likely that prospective authors will actually
_complete_ their submissions in time for the competition. I speak from
experience here -- I've got a huge game lying in pieces on my hard drive
that originated in TADS 1 and will only see the light of day if my fear of
Adam Thornton's death threats overcomes my natural inertia. :)

By forcing authors to organize the game so that it can be finished in under
two hours, the rule makes it far more likely that the design of a potential
entry will be small enough that it can realistically be finished. Without
it, this year we might have had 2 entries and 35 "well, I started a
competition entry, but..."

2. By limiting the size of games, the rule encourages authors to
experiment. If you don't have to invest 1,000 hours in coding your entry,
maybe you will try something that hasn't been done before. (This year's
competition entry concerning the art exhibit is an excellent example, and a
very interesting work. I would be interested to know if its author would
have entered it "as is" knowing that it might be up against huge,
"traditional" adventure games.)

3. At least originally, we thought that limiting the size of games would
also make the reviewers' job easier. Even with a three-month voting period,
I sincerely doubt anybody could honestly and fairly review 37
"feature-length" games. (Of course, I've already argued that removing the
rule would result in fewer entries, not more, so perhaps the total review
work would remain constant, but I would rather see more shorter entries than
fewer larger ones.)

Now, it may be the case that were the rule removed, the vast majority of
competition entries would continue to be short. However, the _purpose_ of
the competition was to encourage _more_ people to write _more_ games and
share them with _more_ players. Forcing the games to be smaller can only
help with this.

Besides, there is nothing stopping authors who do create large, elaborate
works from releasing them at any time. If I were an author of such a game
(which I still like to delude myself into thinking I will be someday) I
would not _want_ to release it as part of the competition. There are too
many other games waiting to be played at the same time! I would, in fact,
wait and release my "magnum opus" as chronologically far away from the
competition as possible, to ensure that there would be a minimal number of
other new releases out there to compete with it for the community's
attention.

> so many people seem to have said, "Ah! I shall not bother! I
> don't care whether the story makes sense at the end, I'll just
> stop playing right now and rate it knowing only half the game!"

That is exactly what people _should_ have done, unfortunately for Halothane
(which I admit I have not played). The competition rule is quite clear on
this point: judges must rate the game after two hours. With 36 other games
to play, it is less likely that a judge would play the game to its
conclusion if it were much longer than two hours anyway.

Surely Halothane's author must have known this, since it's not like there
are a lot of other rules to confuse the issue, and chose to enter the game
anyway. If it was too long for the competition as it stands, then the game
should have been held out and released afterwards, when it would surely have
been played and discussed.

Not to pick on Halothane, which as I said I have not played; but you brought
it up. I'm sure it is a fine game, but if it was too long for the
competition and the author knew it going in, well, you take your chances.

Anyway, I agree that the voting period should be increased -- I hate the
idea that people are spending their effort completing games and then few or
no judges are playing those games. In addition to being contrary to the
spirit of the competition -- which has always been that every game should be
considered fully -- it also biases the results. I would not be comfortable
voting in the competition if I had not played all of the entrants (and
therefore I did not vote, though I did play some of the games.)

The two-hour rule, however, is working beautifully -- and doing exactly what
we hoped it would "lo these many years ago". It's great to see how much the
competition has grown over the years, and I think a large part of that
growth can be attributed to the fact that the two-hour rule by its very
presence gives authors encouragement to enter, because they _know_ they have
a realistic chance of completing an entry that will be on a more or less
equal footing with every other entry, at least in terms of length.

Sean

Dan Schmidt

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Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
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pet...@hotmail.com writes:

| With an expanded three month voting period, the worst rule of the
| competition could also be revoked: the dreaded two hour limit. This
| limit is EVIL! What sort of message is it sending?
|

| "Well, you COULD go ahead and create the next Infocom-length
| masterpiece, but people aren't allowed to rate your work as a whole
| because it takes more than two hours to finish your game. Next time,


| don't work so hard. Don't try so hard. Don't make your game so long
| or so challenging or so good. Compromise your work's quality so
| more people finish it."

The message it sends to me is

"If you go ahead and create the next Infocom-length masterpiece,
release it on its own, sometime else in the year, not in the comp."

--
Dan Schmidt | http://www2.thecia.net/users/dfan/

Adam Cadre

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Nov 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/18/99
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Bryan the Trotting Krip wrote:
> With an expanded three month voting period, the worst rule of the
> competition could also be revoked: the dreaded two hour limit. This
> limit is EVIL! What sort of message is it sending?
>
> "Well, you COULD go ahead and create the next Infocom-length
> masterpiece, but

--this contest is for short IF."

That's all it's saying.

-----
Adam Cadre, Sammamish, WA
http://adamcadre.ac

Sean T Barrett

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Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
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In article <812cht$pp7$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>, <pet...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>The Interactive Fiction Competition has, since the original contest held in
>1995, grown to become indisputably the biggest event in interactive fiction
>of every year.
[snip]
>However, the competition has grown and expanded and changed a great deal
>since 1995. The most noticable change is the number of entrants this year:

>37. That's a lot of games. That's a LOT of games. More games, in my
>opinion, than you could possibly expect a sane man, woman, or child to play
>in a six week period.
[snip]
>In my opinion, AT LEAST a three month voting period was needed for this
>year's competition.

The problem is not the total number of games; the problem is the
total number of hours needed to play all the games.

>With an expanded three month voting period, the worst rule of the competition
>could also be revoked: the dreaded two hour limit. This limit is EVIL! What
>sort of message is it sending?

Revoking the two hour limit would (if it had any effect at all) increase
the average length of games, and hence *increase* the total length of time,
and hence undermine the problem that you're trying to solve.

>"Well, you COULD go ahead and create the next Infocom-length masterpiece, but

>people aren't allowed to rate your work as a whole because it takes more than
>two hours to finish your game. Next time, don't work so hard. Don't try so
>hard. Don't make your game so long or so challenging or so good. Compromise

>your game's quality so more people finish it."

Changing the rule would send the message "if your wonking huge game
is almost done by the time the competition starts, you are better off
submitting it unpolished and getting lots and lots of players than
releasing it between comps and getting less attention". The solution
to the >2 hour game problem is not to tailor the competition to them;
it is to enable other non-competition measures to get them players.
Approaches to this are under discussion in r.g.i-f.

Anyhow, if you think there are too many games to judge during the
competition, the best thing would be to convince as many people as
possible to vote 1 on the games which shouldn't have been submitted
for the competition (I'd argue for the incomplete, unplaytested,
unpolished ones are the best candidates--and publically berate and
humiliate the authors on r.g.i-f). This would probably reduce the
number of submissions the following year, although probably at too
great a cost. (Personally, I consider the submission of poorly
playtested IF to show a lack of respect on the part of the author
for the playing community, and this was reflected in my voting.)

If you think the total time across all games is too long but don't
want fewer games, don't encourage longer games, encourage shorter
games. Shorten the time limit. Or, more simply, convince as many
judges as possible to vote short, polished, well-implemented games
higher than longer not-as-well-polished games, and to take public
stands on the issue in places where prospective authors will hear
about it. I personally think this is the right thing to do, but I
noticed one (apparently highly-respected) reviewer whose votes
appeared to be correlated on the coarsest scale with the size of
the game, and nobody responded to my various comments on this issue
in my reviews, so I suspect I'm alone in believing this appropriate.

Sean Barrett

f_ram...@my-deja.com

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Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
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Greetings,

In article <812cht$pp7$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>,
pet...@hotmail.com wrote:
> The Interactive Fiction Competition has, since the original contest
> held in 1995, grown to become indisputably the biggest event in

> interactive fiction of every year. Once the frenetic voting period
> ends, R.G.I-F and R.A.I-F burst with new life.

This, IMHO, is the biggest problem of the competition. Not the new
life that the community bursts with _after_ the voting period, but
rather the lack of it during the voting period and the months before
the competition. Extend the voting period, make the games bigger and
voila -- you've made this problem a lot bigger as well.

When I was six years old, I loved licorice. I never had any money
to buy licorice though, except when I got a little from my parents.
Then we went on vacation, and it started with a ferry trip. On
the ferry I got a major amount of money (probably like a few dollars),
and I went straight to the tax-free shop and bought all the licorice
I could carry. Which was more than I could eat. But I ate it anyway.
Believe me when I say I didn't touch licorice for eight full years
after that. I like it again now, but it took 10-12 years after that
experience.

Why am I telling you this? Well, exchange licorice for IF games in
the story above, and the story could be about the IF competition
instead.

If you play a great IF game at the beginning of October, would
you care to wait for three months or more before you can discuss it
in your community? And would you like to always have the stress of
finishing the games you are playing so you can rate them and get
on with your near infinite list of games you have to play during
the voting period?

Looking at other media, would you like the Academy Awards to become
even more dominant than they are today? Would you like all movies
to be released on the same date, and should it be forbidden to
discuss the movies during the three months of voting that follow?
And then 95% of the movie theatres would close during nine months
again, since almost no movies are released. Also, do you think all
movies should be produced with the single goal of appealing to the
kind of people who volunteer as judges? Should movie making only be
about competing?

And should IF?

Your proposition is well meant -- it intends to promote IF. But I
don't think it would do IF any good. I think the right way to go
is to accept that all games aren't in the competition. Make the
competition less dominant than it is today. Perhaps you could
split it up into several smaller competitions that are spread
out over the year, maybe for different genres. And let the
IF community prosper the whole year through, like it was before
the competition grew huge!

Best regards,

/Fredrik


Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Before you buy.

Marnie Parker

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Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
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>Subject: Re: Suggested Changes To The Competition
>From: Adam Cadre a...@adamcadre.ac
>Date: Fri, 19 November 1999 02:32 AM EST

I do think eight weeks would be better than six if we have something like 37
games. But, in the US, then we would start running in Thanksgiving and I see
problems with that too.

Pro-rating, i.e., figuring out what additional time is required beyond 6 weeks
based on the number of games is not a bad idea.

I, personally, like the idea too of factoring in how many WEEKENDS are included
in the judging period because I suspect most people play on the weekend.

Doe :-)


doea...@aol.com -------------------------------------------------
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Adam Cadre

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Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
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Bryan the Trotting Krip wrote:
> In my opinion, AT LEAST a three month voting period was needed for
> this year's competition.

I see that other people have agreed with this statement, so I thought
I'd reply to this message yet again.

There was a three-month voting period for Comp97. It was hated. It
was hated by authors because it meant that a full quarter of a calendar
year passed between the time they released their games and the time
they got any feedback. It was hated by players because it meant they
could play a game in October and not be able to discuss it until
January. I even recall the organizer declaring that the extended
voting period was a bad idea.

Part of the problem here is the level of priority people give to this
hobby. When the comp games are released, some people make playing them
the thing they do that week; others can just barely manage to squeeze
a game or two into their weekends. Six weeks has proven to be as good
a compromise as could reasonably be expected: enough to let members of
the latter group play a fair sampling of games without the members of
the former group or the authors getting too itchy.

Dennis Smith

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Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
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Oh hell, I'm going to have to break my self-enforced silence because I
have strong feelings on this one. (And this after managing to ignore the
more recent Ebullion tablets thread!) Why couldn't this have waited till
some time next year? <grumble>

OK, Sean and Adam have answered some of the main points. Allow me to add
my own not-inconsiderable (230 pounds) weight.

On Fri, 19 Nov 1999 Brian wrote (roughly - pardon my editing):

> 37. That's a lot of games. That's more games than you could
> possibly expect a sane man, woman, or child to play in six weeks

Last year there were (checks) 27 games. 1997 - 35 games. 1996 - 27
games. Things aren't so much changed.

> If each game is to be given a fair chance in the competition, enough
> time must be given to allow each judge to play every game

No. If each game is to have "a fair chance", there must be enough judges
such that a substantial number of them get around to reviewing the game
at their leisure. That's why we have the comp99 game-order randomizer.
And this year, there were 156 voters. That's pretty darned healthy.

> In my opinion, AT LEAST a three month voting period was needed

Three months doesn't work, as has been explained before.

I've always advocated relatively short voting periods. Most importantly,
it means that, rather obviously, the start and end of the competition are
quite close. This is good for the authors, in terms of not having to wait
for feedback. It is also - surprise! - good for the judges, who don't have
to cast their minds back over the months to adequately compare their first
and last games.

Now you may say that this prevents people from judging all the games. This
is certainly true, and to this I have to say: "Good". In my opinion, if
people think that they've got NO chance of reviewing ALL the games, then
hopefully they'll settle for judging as many as they REALLY have time for
instead. There's a big distinction here. Even if they only have time for,
say, ten games: it means they won't be rushing the latter games in their
list; it means they're less likely to 'burn out' (thanks for the licorice
analogy Fredrik - I have a similar story about dark chocolate) which
can't help much in terms of "fair" voting.

At the end of the competition, these hypothetical judges each submit their
ten votes, and then, when the scores come out, can see from the list of
remaining games which ones they can sit down and enjoy and which they
might safely ignore. If each of this year's judges had placed ten votes,
that would be 1560 votes, which, split over the games, comes to just over
_42_ votes for each game. A very reasonable number. Not to mention the
answer to life, the universe and everything.

> the worst rule of the competition could also be revoked: the dreaded
> two hour limit. This limit is EVIL!

Dictatorial repression and small-minded intolerance are evil. Minions of
Hell are Evil. The two hour time limit, on the other hand, is an innocent
bystander that you've just shot to death because you don't know why it's
there.

There are many good reasons for the two-hour limit. Some of them are the
reasons it was instigated, some have occurred to people since it was
introduced. For instance, it's easier to beta-test a small game than a big
sprawling masterpiece. Now. Think about that one. Need I say more?

The two-hour limit gives people a relatively easy target. Newbie
programmers might never finish programming anything if they've only ever
seen Curses, Jigsaw, Lost NY, Grip and all. If they're aiming lower,
you'll see dozens of completed games. It gives people a start.

It means you're _not_ competing against people who've been coding
something over the last three years. That's got to be a good thing. It
also means you see more experimental pieces. Look at some of the real
masterpieces from competitions past. If there were no two-hour rule, would
some of these ever have seen the light of day at all?

There is - sort of - a competition for longer games. The Xyzzy awards
allow judges to reward all games, regardless of size. And those games are
judged over - get this - a whole year! Maybe that's what you really want.

> "Compromise your work's quality so more people finish it."

No. A well-written short story should have as much quality as a
well-written novel. But with a short story, you've got to really pack it
in. There's an art to writing really good short IF. There's no way you can
reasonably excuse the failures of a short work just because it's short.
If anything, short works should be better polished. It's easier to make a
button shine than a big brass lamp.

There is no doubt that competition entries get a disproportionate amount
of attention. This isn't a problem that needs addressing. Not at all.
It's a very good thing. We should, as Adam has made very clear, be
addressing the problem of most other IF getting disproportionately little
attention. His ideas are well worth pursuing.

> I'm interested in hearing anyone's thoughts on this.

Well, this is a resume of my overblown opinion. Take it with a pinch of
salt but be aware that there _are_ reasons that the competition has
resisted most changes over the years.


Tsk. While I'm on my soap-box, it's my turn to express congratulations to
everyone who managed to get an entry into the competition, and especially
to Laura, Dan, Neil and other high-fliers. And hearty slaps on the backs
to everyone involved with running things, especially Stephen, for all the
organisational work, and Mark, for vote counting - I have to say the two
of you were quite _astonishingly_ fast at making the games and then the
results available.

<relurking; see you next year!>

--
Den


Dan Schmidt

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Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
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Another solution to the problem of too many games in too little time,
which I'm reluctant to bring up because I think it's been discussed to
death before, is to limit the number of games.

The way I would do this is to have two voting periods. The first
voting period is 4-5 weeks, say (since for this stage we're just
expecting the really psyched players that Adam mentioned). Votes are
totalled and ordered, and 11th through 37th places are announced.
The relative ranking of the top ten games is NOT.

Then these ten 'finalists' are announced, and there's another 3 week
voting period, this time for only those ten games. People who voted
in the first period can vote again. These votes are then used to rank
places 1 through 10.

This system would allow people who only have time or energy to play
a few games to wait for the finalists, so that their playing time could
be put to best use, while those who do have the energy to play 37
games can go ahead and do so.

It would mean that the 10th place game gets a lot more attention than
the 11th place game, but I think that the non-finalists would get more
attention than you'd think. I imagine that the phase one voters would
still review all of them, and the phase two voters are of course free
to play whatever they want during phase one (or afterwards; their
votes just don't count).

Here's what the finalists would have been this year, by the way, in
alphabetical order:

Beat the Devil
Day for Soft Food, A
Exhibition
For A Change
Halothane
Hunter, In Darkness
Jacks or Better to Murder, Aces to Win
On the Farm
Six Stories
Winter Wonderland

The next few that wouldn't have made the cutoff were Erehwon, Lunatix,
and Bliss. Of course, ten is an arbitrary number, but I think
something around there works best: five would cut off too many
deserving games, twenty would leave too much work for the phase two
voters.

The overall time of the competition probably wouldn't go up very
much. Because the really psyched players tend to plow through the
game pretty quickly, we can make phase one a bit less than six weeks,
so that the total doesn't get out of control.

That leaves the question of public discussion. An 8 week total period
is probably small enough that we could hold off on all discussion
until the whole thing was over. I think that allowing the phase one
voters to write reviews between phases one and two might actually work
pretty well, but that may be contrary to the spirit of the
competition.

Paul O'Brian

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Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
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On Fri, 19 Nov 1999 pet...@hotmail.com wrote:

> [A lot of carefully articulated arguments about how the competition
> games and voting period should be lengthened.]

Ah, the annual "here's how the competition *really* ought to work" thread.
I can't say I've missed it.

I've written lots of elaborately explained responses to these ideas
before, but I can't seem to work up the motivation anymore. Luckily, I see
that others are stepping in and picking up the slack. So I'll just say
this:

I like the competition the way it is.

Then again, I played all the games in the six week period, so by your
definition I'm insane anyway. So what do I know?

--
Paul O'Brian obr...@colorado.edu http://ucsu.colorado.edu/~obrian
"Sometimes even music cannot substitute for tears."
-- Paul Simon


Andrew Plotkin

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Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
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Dan Schmidt <df...@thecia.net> wrote:
> Another solution to the problem of too many games in too little time,
> which I'm reluctant to bring up because I think it's been discussed to
> death before, is to limit the number of games.
>
> The way I would do this is to have two voting periods. The first
> voting period is 4-5 weeks, say (since for this stage we're just
> expecting the really psyched players that Adam mentioned). Votes are
> totalled and ordered, and 11th through 37th places are announced.
> The relative ranking of the top ten games is NOT.

Actually, it would be better to have slightly different voting rules. You
can nominate as many games as you want, but you don't rank them at all.
The top 10 nomination-getters become finalists.



> Then these ten 'finalists' are announced, and there's another 3 week
> voting period, this time for only those ten games. People who voted
> in the first period can vote again. These votes are then used to rank
> places 1 through 10.

I initially reacted "I hate this idea", but in fact, I don't hate it.

I'm not sure whether I *support* it, though.

Pros: It still gets a lot of attention even for the games that don't make
the cut. (The key is that everyone posts their reviews for the
non-finalists as soon as the first round results are announced.)

- And it gives people a way to play fewer games and still feel like
they're playing the real contenders.

Cons: The first round would still have to be five or six weeks, I think.
(I *was* a really psyched player this year, but it still took me five
weeks to play 33 games.) So the finalists are still looking at more than
two months delay before they get real feedback.

- The "reviewing/discussing crappy games" period will be vaguely
depressing (especially for the authors).

- In the current system, people *can* go back and play the comp winners
afterward. What your suggestion really means is that people with little
time will play the best games *during voting*, as opposed to a random
sampling of the games. (Which is what happens now.) This may not be a big
enough improvement to be worth it.

> That leaves the question of public discussion. An 8 week total period
> is probably small enough that we could hold off on all discussion
> until the whole thing was over. I think that allowing the phase one
> voters to write reviews between phases one and two might actually work
> pretty well, but that may be contrary to the spirit of the
> competition.

As I said, I disagree. If we did that, the non-finalist authors would be
in pretty poor shape. Told nothing but "you lose" for three weeks, and
then a burst of discussion which is focussed on the games they didn't
write. I wouldn't put anyone through that.

The "no discussion" convention is to avoid biasing the results; when it
can't affect the results, there's no problem.

--Z

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

kar...@fermi2.chem.yale.edu

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Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
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OK, I've never played a comp game except photopia, and that was a year
later. But I'm a strong believer in the Usenet right to comment on things
about which you know nothing (and then to be flamed for it).

Dan Schmidt <df...@thecia.net> wrote:
[two-tier system]

: This system would allow people who only have time or energy to play
: a few games to wait for the finalists, so that their playing time could


: be put to best use, while those who do have the energy to play 37
: games can go ahead and do so.

I think this is a neat idea. For example, I wanted to play the comp games
this year, but seeing that there were 37, I realized there was no way I'd
be able to play more than a few. And knowing that some of them would be
buggy or just not good, I didn't have the energy. (Instead, I wasted
inordinate amounts of time *learning* TADS. Go figure.)

: I imagine that the phase one voters would


: still review all of them, and the phase two voters are of course free
: to play whatever they want during phase one (or afterwards; their
: votes just don't count).

Right. The idea here is that the raif zealots will still be playing every
game, but if you can get newbies or slightly less committed folks to play
ten games, then you get more overall voting. (It might be that the results
would change a bit, since the raif regulars might have different criteria
than the, um, irregulars.) The regulars may feel like betatesters, since
they're the ones who'll be getting rid of the really buggy or badly formed
games. But they'll probably want to play them all anyway. (And even if they
don't it's ok.)

: I think that allowing the phase one


: voters to write reviews between phases one and two might actually work
: pretty well, but that may be contrary to the spirit of the
: competition.

Yeah. That seems dangerous. Because people might read the reviews of the
top ten before playing them, which could bias votes. I was going to suggest
that people could write reviews on all but the top games, but now that I
think of it, people probably would want to focus their time on playing
games while the comp was still on. So maybe it would be better to wait.

I think you'd have to think about the voting again issue---do you think
people would change their votes once they found out what the top ten were?
Would people be allowed to play the games for another two hours, which
might change their votes? Nonetheless, if these questions could be worked
out, I think it would be a Good Thing. And it means that the overall comp
isn't too much longer, and that more people can participate.

****************************************

Re some other posts:

- I think having thanksgiving during the comp would actually help some
people have some free time to play!

- Good point about how it's fine to play only 10 games. You figure that
most people would either use the random chooser, which means every game
would be played by about the same number of people. Or if people choose
by the title, well, call that part of the comp.

- Several folks have noted the problem that games released the rest of the
year get no respect, and that people are looking for ways to fix that. Let
me point out that if that changes (due to the book club, greater importance
placed on the xyzzy awards, or whatever) there might be *fewer* games in
the comp. Since people feel like the comp is their only time to get
noticed, they'll send in games that were hurried, or games that are too
big, or whatever.

****************************************

I personally read many more trilogies than short stories. I like authors
who build worlds and fill them with interesting and interacting features.
So as I've been getting into IF, I've been trying to play the big guys,
Curses et al., rather than the small ones. Other folks may love the
experimental and compact, highly tuned nature of the < 2 hour games, but
I'm looking for the ones that make me lose sleep for days. (Re the recent
analogy: buttons are nice, but you get more use out of a big brass lamp,
IMO.)

I'm not going to suggest another comp for big games. But how about this?
Imagine there's a website where you can post a vote for a game any time
during the year. One vote per person per game, of course. At the end of the
year, all the votes are counted, and the winners get <insert cool prize
here>. All games are eligible. (Or just non-comp games?)

Does a site like this exist and I just don't know about it? Anyway, if that
ongoing comp were made more prominent, then the current IF comp could
regain its original focus: attracting new talent because the game doesn't
have to be too big, and encouraging innovative little games. ("Our *two*
main foci are....")

A site like that would also be useful for folks who wanted to download a
game. I can go to Baf's site, or spag's reviews, or whatever, but that
gives me one person's thoughts. This would be more the overall IF
community's impressions of a game. And considering the number of games
available at GMD, it might be nice to have that.

Let me know if there's a huge thread about this on Deja and I should just
shut up.

-Amir Karger
kar...@fermi2.chem.yale.edu

okbl...@my-deja.com

unread,
Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
In article <FLFHL...@world.std.com>,
buz...@world.std.com (Sean T Barrett) wrote:
> [stuff, and then this]

>
> Anyhow, if you think there are too many games to judge during the
> competition, the best thing would be to convince as many people as
> possible to vote 1 on the games which shouldn't have been submitted
> for the competition (I'd argue for the incomplete, unplaytested,
> unpolished ones are the best candidates--and publically berate and
> humiliate the authors on r.g.i-f). This would probably reduce the
> number of submissions the following year, although probably at too
> great a cost. (Personally, I consider the submission of poorly
> playtested IF to show a lack of respect on the part of the author
> for the playing community, and this was reflected in my voting.)
>
> If you think the total time across all games is too long but don't
> want fewer games, don't encourage longer games, encourage shorter
> games. Shorten the time limit. Or, more simply, convince as many
> judges as possible to vote short, polished, well-implemented games
> higher than longer not-as-well-polished games, and to take public
> stands on the issue in places where prospective authors will hear
> about it. I personally think this is the right thing to do, but I
> noticed one (apparently highly-respected) reviewer whose votes
> appeared to be correlated on the coarsest scale with the size of
> the game, and nobody responded to my various comments on this issue
> in my reviews, so I suspect I'm alone in believing this appropriate.

Well, I wasn't going to bring this up right away but: I have to admit
I cringed when I read that Ian Finley submitted "Life on Beal Street",
with the intention of submitting a really bad game.

This is the first time I've been able to clear my schedule to play the
IF comp games before the judging period. (I try to play the ones that
seem to generate the most discussion afterwards.) In the first week I
got through five or six games, and halfway through another one. (I
didn't vote because by the time I realized I wasn't going to play
anymore, I had forgotten that I had played the minimum number.) I was
well on my way to getting through most of the games.

Then I stopped. (Ironically, on one of the better games.) Most of
those first games I played were buggy and rife with spelling errors.
That, combined with a fair amount of "I know what I'm supposed to do but
not how I'm supposed to phrase it" took a lot of the wind out of my
sails.

I don't mean to turn this into a super-serious discussion of ethics, and
I'm not much for public humiliation, but I wonder about some of these
known-fatal-bug entries receiving nines and tens from some judges.

Just because this is a hobby for us doesn't mean we shouldn't behave
professionally.

What I'm taking away from this comp is a different way of looking at it.
When I started I naively thought I would play each game randomly,
according to comp99, for precisely two hours, come up with a score, and
move on. I think next year, I'm going to immediately move on if I hit a
bug or a spelling error. Maybe even if I hit what I think is an
incomplete implementation. If I have time, I'll come back to the games
I didn't complete--but the games I get through on the first pass will
all get higher scores.
--
[ok]

Dan Schmidt

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Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> writes:

| Dan Schmidt <df...@thecia.net> wrote:
|
| > The way I would do this is to have two voting periods. The first
| > voting period is 4-5 weeks, say (since for this stage we're just
| > expecting the really psyched players that Adam mentioned). Votes
| > are totalled and ordered, and 11th through 37th places are
| > announced. The relative ranking of the top ten games is NOT.
|
| Actually, it would be better to have slightly different voting rules. You
| can nominate as many games as you want, but you don't rank them at all.
| The top 10 nomination-getters become finalists.

I was thinking of that, but I think I'd rather say "This is how much I
thought each game deserved to be a finalist," than "These are the
games that deserve to be finalists, and the other ones don't." I
would dither a lot about games that were on the edge, feeling guilty
if I didn't give them the nod, rather than just voting a 6 and moving
on.

What do you see as the advantages of the yes/no system?

| > Then these ten 'finalists' are announced, and there's another 3
| > week voting period, this time for only those ten games. People
| > who voted in the first period can vote again. These votes are
| > then used to rank places 1 through 10.
|
| I initially reacted "I hate this idea", but in fact, I don't hate it.
|
| I'm not sure whether I *support* it, though.
|
| Pros: It still gets a lot of attention even for the games that don't
| make the cut. (The key is that everyone posts their reviews for the
| non-finalists as soon as the first round results are announced.)

The only problem I can see with this is that people might normally
want to say things like "This game was okay, but finalist game XXX did
the same thing better." But I suppose reviewers didn't do that too
much this year.

| [Cons:] In the current system, people *can* go back and play the


| comp winners afterward. What your suggestion really means is that
| people with little time will play the best games *during voting*, as
| opposed to a random sampling of the games. (Which is what happens
| now.) This may not be a big enough improvement to be worth it.

Right, that's the goal, and I think it's worth it. This year, I saw a
bunch of people on the mud say, "Eeeagh, 37 games! I just played two
by authors I knew, and then waited until the comp was over to see what
other games I might enjoy." I think these people, if they were given
a field of the ten best (more or less) games, might be motivated to
play, and judge, them all during the judging period. But I should let
those people speak for themselves, I suppose.

I know that if I only had time to play ten games, I'd rather 1) play
'pre-approved' ones, and 2) have my votes make the most difference.
With the current scheme, I'm not sure I would want to play ten random
games.

--
Dan Schmidt | http://www.dfan.org

Adam J. Thornton

unread,
Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
In article <812k18$cev$1...@nntp2.atl.mindspring.net>,

M. Sean Molley <mol...@mindspring.com> wrote:
>1. The rule makes it more likely that prospective authors will actually
>_complete_ their submissions in time for the competition. I speak from
>experience here -- I've got a huge game lying in pieces on my hard drive
>that originated in TADS 1 and will only see the light of day if my fear of
>Adam Thornton's death threats overcomes my natural inertia. :)

You know, I've been waiting *very* patiently for _Challenge of the Czar_.
(As well as, *cough*, _Fool's Errand_, but no matter). I haven't even
threatened you with removal of your lungs in, like, a year.

So, let me borrow a page from the Robb Sherwin school of rhetoric, and just
gently remind you,

"Stop being a total assjack and finish the damn game, and release it, or me
and my buddies from the Delayed-games Urgent Metatarsal Breaking And
Stomping Society will have to pay you a little visit, if you know what I
mean, you mewling shitwank."

Adam

--
ad...@princeton.edu
"My eyes say their prayers to her / Sailors ring her bell / Like a moth
mistakes a light bulb / For the moon and goes to hell." -- Tom Waits

Adam J. Thornton

unread,
Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
The three-month thing sucked in Comp97.

I think, if anything, all that needs be done is to suggest that really,
honestly, judges are under no obligation to play all the games. And I
think that was done quite successfully this year, with the "vote if you
play 5" rule.

I myself should have played fewer games in more depth rather than
scrambling to the walkthrough as early as I did in most cases.

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
Dan Schmidt <df...@harmonixmusic.com> wrote:
> Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> writes:
>
> | Dan Schmidt <df...@thecia.net> wrote:
> |
> | > The way I would do this is to have two voting periods. The first
> | > voting period is 4-5 weeks, say (since for this stage we're just
> | > expecting the really psyched players that Adam mentioned). Votes
> | > are totalled and ordered, and 11th through 37th places are
> | > announced. The relative ranking of the top ten games is NOT.
> |
> | Actually, it would be better to have slightly different voting rules. You
> | can nominate as many games as you want, but you don't rank them at all.
> | The top 10 nomination-getters become finalists.
>
> I was thinking of that, but I think I'd rather say "This is how much I
> thought each game deserved to be a finalist," than "These are the
> games that deserve to be finalists, and the other ones don't." I
> would dither a lot about games that were on the edge, feeling guilty
> if I didn't give them the nod, rather than just voting a 6 and moving
> on.

There's no reason you can't kick in every game you consider "on the edge".
Everyone has a different edge; that's why it's the top N games, not games
that get at least X nominations.

> What do you see as the advantages of the yes/no system?

It makes me feel less like the conclusion is foreordained. You ask a small
group of people to rate ten games (and also some others); then ask a
larger group of people the same question about those ten games. Barring
sampling irregularities, you'll get the same result. It seems sort of a
waste of effort.

In fact, it more or less prevents people from voting in both rounds.
Presumably they would just submit the same scores they submitted the first
time.

Also, to my mind, the question "should this be considered" is simply
different from the question "should this win".

(In my Halothane review, I said "Here, presented with sincerity and
talent, is a complex work that I don't care about at all." I only gave it
a 5, but I would certainly have nominated it in your scheme.)



> | Pros: It still gets a lot of attention even for the games that don't
> | make the cut. (The key is that everyone posts their reviews for the
> | non-finalists as soon as the first round results are announced.)
>
> The only problem I can see with this is that people might normally
> want to say things like "This game was okay, but finalist game XXX did
> the same thing better." But I suppose reviewers didn't do that too
> much this year.

I think this is just a special case of "This game was okay, but YYY did
the same thing better in 1997." There'll always be some of that. (Wossname
this year, for example -- its "full score" gag.)

Mary K. Kuhner

unread,
Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
Just wanted to add my voice to those saying that last year's judging
period was too long. The newsgroup was dead for months, the games
were stale by the end, and people *still* didn't rate all the games.

I think the main barrier to people judging is the perception that
too many of the games will, well, stink. There have been various
proposals to deal with *that*, but it's a hard problem. It's all
very well to say that you don't have to play all the games to vote,
but the prospect of playing five dismal games and nothing else is
rather offputting. I know that I would have given up after my
first five if I hadn't had some faith that *somewhere* in those
Inform games I'd find one I liked. (Which I duly did, thank
heaven.)

Mary Kuhner mkku...@eskimo.com

kar...@fermi2.chem.yale.edu

unread,
Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
This is actually not a reply to myself, but a reply to Suzanne's email reply
to my post.

On Fri, Nov 19, 1999 at 02:24:01PM -0500, Suzanne Skinner wrote:
> In article <813vlb$f37$1...@news.ycc.yale.edu> you wrote:
>
> > Does a site like this exist and I just don't know about it?
>

> Not exactly what you had in mind, but check out
> http://www.xyzzynews.com/98winners.html.
>

Not what I had in mind.

- for the site I'm suggesting, you'd be able to vote whenever you wanted,
so that, e.g., you'd give a game a good or bad vote the day after you
finished playing it, rather than needing to remember things until the next
xyzzy awards.

- the stuff I'm suggesting could certainly be used to get nominees for the
"best" categories. For example, we could have an option to fill out a
form about a game with ratings for best NPC, etc., and even add a review of
the game, if you wanted to give more than just a rating. I bet that
CGI/PHP/ASP/whatever could be set up to gather all the ratings for a game in
one place, and gather all the statistics for each game somewhere else. Then
a user could come to the site to look for which games are highest rated (in
various categories) and/or read all the reviews for a given game. (But we'd
want to keep the option of just giving a rating. Making it easy would
increase the number of people who'd do it.)

- You could even set it up so you could just mail in your vote, like the
comp votes.

(No, I'm not volunteering. Not much of a web hack, I'm afraid.)

-Amir Karger
kar...@fermi2.chem.yale.edu

Mike Snyder

unread,
Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
<kar...@fermi2.chem.yale.edu> wrote in message
news:81490f$359$1...@news.ycc.yale.edu...

> (No, I'm not volunteering. Not much of a web hack, I'm afraid.)

I am. If somebody outlined what kind of CGI scripts would be needed, I could
certainly invest some time in it.

Mike.

Dan Schmidt

unread,
Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> writes:

| Dan Schmidt <df...@harmonixmusic.com> wrote:
|
| > What do you see as the advantages of the yes/no system?
|
| It makes me feel less like the conclusion is foreordained. You ask a
| small group of people to rate ten games (and also some others); then
| ask a larger group of people the same question about those ten
| games. Barring sampling irregularities, you'll get the same
| result. It seems sort of a waste of effort.
|
| In fact, it more or less prevents people from voting in both rounds.
| Presumably they would just submit the same scores they submitted the
| first time.

True enough.

| Also, to my mind, the question "should this be considered" is simply
| different from the question "should this win".

Hmm, okay, I think we have slightly different goals.

Firstly, I don't think of phase one as weeding out the crap; I see
it as selecting the cream of the crop. (If 27 of the games are
crap, we're in trouble anyway.) So "should this game be considered"
doesn't seem like the right level of question to me, since I would
probably end up saying yes for at least half the games. I have
probably misrepresented your argument, but that's what "should this
be considered" feels like to me.

That's also why I called the top ten games "finalists," not "nominees"
(I actually called them the latter in the first draft).

I think the phase two voters should be voting on the games most likely
to win, and the games most likely to win are the ones that the phase
one voters liked the most, as you said while making a different point.

But it's true, the choice of voting scheme probably won't make much
difference one way or another.

| (In my Halothane review, I said "Here, presented with sincerity and
| talent, is a complex work that I don't care about at all." I only
| gave it a 5, but I would certainly have nominated it in your
| scheme.)

Though it finished in the top ten anyway, because many people did care
about it. It's arguable that if everyone thought it was sincere and
mediocre and unenjoyable, it shouldn't be a finalist.

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
Dan Schmidt <df...@harmonixmusic.com> wrote:
> | Also, to my mind, the question "should this be considered" is simply
> | different from the question "should this win".
>
> Hmm, okay, I think we have slightly different goals.
>
> Firstly, I don't think of phase one as weeding out the crap; I see
> it as selecting the cream of the crop.

I find it difficult to distinguish the goals. :-) I think it's fine if
several people nominate half the entries, or even 90% of the entries.
(If you want to nominate *every* entry, go ahead, but you're not affecting
the results.)

> | (In my Halothane review, I said "Here, presented with sincerity and
> | talent, is a complex work that I don't care about at all." I only
> | gave it a 5, but I would certainly have nominated it in your
> | scheme.)
>
> Though it finished in the top ten anyway, because many people did care
> about it. It's arguable that if everyone thought it was sincere and
> mediocre and unenjoyable, it shouldn't be a finalist.

When I said "I don't care about...", I specifically meant that I didn't
care, but other people might. I'd nominate entries that I thought might
appeal to other people, even if I didn't like them.

okbl...@my-deja.com

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Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
In article <814609$qtt$1...@eskinews.eskimo.com>,
mkku...@eskimo.com (Mary K. Kuhner) wrote:
> [stuff, which has been clipped]

>
> rather offputting. I know that I would have given up after my
> first five if I hadn't had some faith that *somewhere* in those
> Inform games I'd find one I liked. (Which I duly did, thank
> heaven.)

You're a better man[sic] than I.

Stephen Norris

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Nov 19, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/19/99
to
In article <813vlb$f37$1...@news.ycc.yale.edu>,

kar...@fermi2.chem.yale.edu writes:
> - I think having thanksgiving during the comp would actually help some
> people have some free time to play!

The USA is not the whole world. Nobody else has thanksgiving.

--
Stephen Norris s...@fn.com.au
PGP key available via finger s...@flibble.fn.com.au.
Farrow Norris Pty. Ltd. http://www.fn.com.au/

Knight37

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Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
s...@fn.com.au (Stephen Norris) wrote:

>In article <813vlb$f37$1...@news.ycc.yale.edu>,
> kar...@fermi2.chem.yale.edu writes:

>> - I think having thanksgiving during the comp would actually help some
>> people have some free time to play!
>

>The USA is not the whole world. Nobody else has thanksgiving.

Notice he said "help SOME people" (emphasis mine). Apparently there was
some decision in the past (? I don't recall it) that determined that the
comp should not go past Thanksgiving for some reason. Not sure why.

Knight37

* Sent from RemarQ http://www.remarq.com * The Internet's Discussion Network *
* The fastest and easiest way to search and participate in Usenet - Free! *

Knight37

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Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
mkku...@eskimo.com (Mary K. Kuhner) wrote:

>I think the main barrier to people judging is the perception that
>too many of the games will, well, stink. There have been various
>proposals to deal with *that*, but it's a hard problem.

Not that hard really. Here's my solution:

1. Run Comp99, and get me a random list.
2. Read the description of all the games from that list.
3. Load up each one and read the opening to get a feel for it, and maybe
make a few moves, read the help, whatever. Spend about 5 min on each of the
games.
4. Reorder my list based on my initial "top 10" and "the rest". Start
playing until either a. time runs out, or b. finish the lists.

Seems to work for me.

Joseph Yarrow

unread,
Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
Even though I'm pretty much a newbie in this sort of thing, someone in this
thread suggested that perhaps we split the IF Competition into several,
smaller, competitions that could be held throughout the year. While I don't
actually think splitting up the IF Comp is a good idea, the suggestion of
having more annual competitions appealed to me. This way, authors with a
game (like me ^^) don't have to wait months to enter into a competition in
which their game might very well bomb. Just because the IF Competition is
there doesn't mean it has to be the *only* competition. If anyone is
dedicated enough or has enough time on their hands, they can make a
competition. It doesn't even have to be held annualy, or even more than
once for that matter. Just post something on the newsgroup saying that a
competition is being held and give them the URL, etc etc.

I guess my decision is slightly influenced by the fact that I just missed
the submission deadline this year by a month, mostly because I didn't know
about the competition until it was too late, but that's another story.


--Bryan

Joe Mason

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Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
M. Sean Molley <mol...@mindspring.com> wrote:
>Of course, one could argue that the same problem happens now, or even worse,
>most reviewers simply don't play most of the entries. I think lengthening

That's not a problem. As long as you don't get all the reviewers playing
the same handful of games, every game will still get roughly the same amount
of attention.

Joe

Joe Mason

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Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
Mary K. Kuhner <mkku...@eskimo.com> wrote:
>I think the main barrier to people judging is the perception that
>too many of the games will, well, stink. There have been various
>proposals to deal with *that*, but it's a hard problem. It's all
>very well to say that you don't have to play all the games to vote,
>but the prospect of playing five dismal games and nothing else is
>rather offputting. I know that I would have given up after my
>first five if I hadn't had some faith that *somewhere* in those
>Inform games I'd find one I liked. (Which I duly did, thank
>heaven.)

You don't have to stop playing when the competition's over, you know - if
you wait till after the judging period, you get a nice list of the good
ones. Just play however many you want and vote on them (I think there was a
minimum number in the rules - 5?) and if you get all bad ones, well - either
keep playing more till you start getting good ones, or wait till it's over
and the rankings come out, then play the ones that get good reviews.

Joe

Stacy the Procrastinating

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Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
On Sat, 20 Nov 1999, Joseph Yarrow wrote:

> While I don't
> actually think splitting up the IF Comp is a good idea, the suggestion of
> having more annual competitions appealed to me. This way, authors with a
> game (like me ^^) don't have to wait months to enter into a competition in
> which their game might very well bomb. Just because the IF Competition is
> there doesn't mean it has to be the *only* competition.

THe thrill of competition might be fun, but honestly--what's the big deal
about having games released in a comp? Yes, comp games get more attention,
but steps are being taken to address that. If people can be reasonably
assured of getting feedback, I see no drawbacks whatsoever to an offseason
release. After all, everything is still eligible for the XYZZYs.

(And FWIW, I didn't have time to play everything, voted on only a dozen
random games or so, and think the comp works wonderfully just as it is. I
am in favour of a two-tier XYZZY voting structure, however.)


-stacy

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
bookbug of the browser's bookweb
http://bookweb.covehurst.net


IF

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Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to

okbl...@my-deja.com wrote:

> Well, I wasn't going to bring this up right away but: I have to admit
> I cringed when I read that Ian Finley submitted "Life on Beal Street",
> with the intention of submitting a really bad game.
>

Understandable, but I would like to point out that it wasn't bad for the
reasons you discuss in the post on other games, that of being buggy.
Technically it was a very solid game (it's comparatively easy to avoid bugs
when you limit the action that much, of course) and even the writing is
technically solid, no typos or grammar flubs. It all Works therefore, but
it's still *bad*. You still have every reason to be upset with me for
entering a game like this, I'm just pointing out that it's for a different
reason than the other games you mention in the post.

Ian Finley


David Glasser

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Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
to
<kar...@fermi2.chem.yale.edu> wrote:

> OK, I've never played a comp game except photopia, and that was a year
> later. But I'm a strong believer in the Usenet right to comment on things
> about which you know nothing (and then to be flamed for it).
>
> Dan Schmidt <df...@thecia.net> wrote:
> [two-tier system]
>

> : I imagine that the phase one voters would
> : still review all of them, and the phase two voters are of course free
> : to play whatever they want during phase one (or afterwards; their
> : votes just don't count).
>
> Right. The idea here is that the raif zealots will still be playing every
> game, but if you can get newbies or slightly less committed folks to play
> ten games, then you get more overall voting. (It might be that the results
> would change a bit, since the raif regulars might have different criteria
> than the, um, irregulars.) The regulars may feel like betatesters, since
> they're the ones who'll be getting rid of the really buggy or badly formed
> games. But they'll probably want to play them all anyway. (And even if they
> don't it's ok.)

I'm personally most concerned about... well... me, and how much I can
play. (Sure, I'm also interested in not messing with other regulars and
attracting new attention, but when it comes down to it I want a
competition that *I'm* happy with, too.) I consider myself a raif
regular and IF zealot, but one without too much free time to play IF,
especially on weekdays. I *barely* managed to squeeze in almost all of
the TADS and Inform games this year, and that was skipping some that
just didn't look appetizing at all to me. I don't really think I could
play to the degree that I want with less than six weeks. On the other
hand, I'd like to be in the first round: for example, in Dan Schmidt's
list of this year's comp, my second-favorite game (Erehwon) did not
appear.

Also, I know I don't need to play all the games to vote. But for me, I
don't want to go into review season having no clue about this year's
favorite games because I didn't play them. *That's* why this year,
after having this happen to me last year, I tried to play all the TADS
and Inform games. I realize that that is selfish and defeats the point
of some competition rules; I also realize that the point of the
competition is not for the judge to be most comfortable. But that's how
I am: I'm weak, and don't have enough time.

Another problem with this idea is that good games that don't make the
finals list (and as good is so subjective this will happen; as I said,
Erehwon this year for me) probably won't get much publicity or credit.
Also, some games might have more appeal to second-round type people
(mostly newcomers) than to first-round people. Also, let's say that
after the due date for the first vote some lazy person who wanted to
vote only in the second round played a non-finalist game and loved it;
this would be very annoying. Of course, said person could just have
done the first round so it's not the fault of the competition.

That said, I have no problem with a change in the competition as long as
it is well thought out and works well, and from a discussion on ifMUD it
seems as if Dan Schmidt and other proposers are thinking it through
well.

Also, if this URL hasn't been posted yet (I use an offline newsread),
http://www.dfan.org/IF/altcomp.html or something like that should be a
transcript from ifMUD #alt-comp about this subject.

--
David Glasser | gla...@iname.com | http://www.davidglasser.net/
rec.arts.int-fiction FAQ: http://www.davidglasser.net/raiffaq/
tr/y/k;

David Glasser

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Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
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Stephen Norris <s...@fn.com.au> wrote:

> In article <813vlb$f37$1...@news.ycc.yale.edu>,
> kar...@fermi2.chem.yale.edu writes:

> > - I think having thanksgiving during the comp would actually help some
> > people have some free time to play!
>

> The USA is not the whole world. Nobody else has thanksgiving.

Well, so it doesn't hurt you, then.

"So what's the story with Tetris? Block meets block, block loses block,
block meets another block?" --Russ Williams

okbl...@my-deja.com

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Nov 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/21/99
to
In article <383721C2...@ix.netcom.com>,

IF <mord...@ix.netcom.com> wrote:
>
>
> Understandable, but I would like to point out that it wasn't bad
for the
> reasons you discuss in the post on other games, that of being buggy.
> Technically it was a very solid game (it's comparatively easy to avoid
bugs
> when you limit the action that much, of course) and even the writing
is
> technically solid, no typos or grammar flubs. It all Works therefore,
but
> it's still *bad*. You still have every reason to be upset with me for
> entering a game like this, I'm just pointing out that it's for a
different
> reason than the other games you mention in the post.

You're absolutely right and I should have clarified that point.

I still cringe, though. It's one thing to take 70 hours out of your
life to sincerely evaluate a group of items, and another to do it
knowing that somewhere in the pile is a product which, through sheer
random chance, might resonate with you--and end up making you look like
a boob for liking it.

Again, I don't want to dramaticize this, since I didn't hear any hoots
of derision against people who liked "Beal Street"--and if anything it
showed the generosity of spirit (and maturity) among those who play the
comp games toward those who write them.

It's just a knee-jerk cringing, I suppose. :-)

Lelah Conrad

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Nov 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/21/99
to
sheesh i am so out of it. i've only played a few games but i did play
and like this one. aargh.

Lelah

On Sat, 20 Nov 1999 15:33:39 -0700, IF <mord...@ix.netcom.com> wrote:

>
>
>okbl...@my-deja.com wrote:
>
>> Well, I wasn't going to bring this up right away but: I have to admit
>> I cringed when I read that Ian Finley submitted "Life on Beal Street",
>> with the intention of submitting a really bad game.
>>
>

> Understandable, but I would like to point out that it wasn't bad for the
>reasons you discuss in the post on other games, that of being buggy.
>Technically it was a very solid game (it's comparatively easy to avoid bugs
>when you limit the action that much, of course) and even the writing is
>technically solid, no typos or grammar flubs. It all Works therefore, but
>it's still *bad*. You still have every reason to be upset with me for
>entering a game like this, I'm just pointing out that it's for a different
>reason than the other games you mention in the post.
>

>Ian Finley
>


Gene Wirchenko

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Nov 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/21/99
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gla...@iname.com (David Glasser) wrote:

>Stephen Norris <s...@fn.com.au> wrote:
>
>> In article <813vlb$f37$1...@news.ycc.yale.edu>,
>> kar...@fermi2.chem.yale.edu writes:

>> > - I think having thanksgiving during the comp would actually help some
>> > people have some free time to play!
>>

>> The USA is not the whole world. Nobody else has thanksgiving.

Canada does, though we have it in the beginning of October.

>Well, so it doesn't hurt you, then.

>stuff turkey with turkey
Do you mean the relative turkey or the bird turkey?

>relative
Do you mean the relative turkey or the bird turkey?

>bird
Your dear cousin gobbles too much and explodes. You learn
from his example and run from the dining room.

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko

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

Sean T Barrett

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Nov 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/21/99
to
David Glasser <gla...@iname.com> wrote:
>That said, I have no problem with a change in the competition as long as
>it is well thought out and works well, and from a discussion on ifMUD it
>seems as if Dan Schmidt and other proposers are thinking it through
>well.

It largely seems like a non-problem to me in practice. In the
first phase, some people play (some subset of) all the games; in
the second phase people just play the games that did well.

Under the current scheme, the second phase is AFTER the competition.

Under the proposed scheme (at least as discussed here), the first
phase is the first round of voting; the second phase is the second
round.

The consequences seem to be:
- some people who would have voted in the main round of the
current competition shift to the second phase
- some people who wouldn't have voted at all in the current
competition get to cast votes for the finalists

The first point means potentially *fewer* players for the non-finalist
games, since they become also-rans and are less likely to draw
players after the first round. *Maybe* somehow the fact that
the second phase now gets to cast votes will increase the total
number of players (not just judges) from the current situation,
but it doesn't seem likely.

So it just doesn't seem to me like it has any practical benefits,
except some warm fuzzies for people who'd like to vote but don't
feel like they have the time to play all the games. And it has
the drawback of being more complex and (presumably) taking longer
between judging start and end.

Maybe those warm fuzzies are worth it for the sake of community.

Anybody have a thought for what a tolerable ratio of judges between
first phase and second phase would be? If 90% of the people end up
voting in the first round, it seems like it would be pointless. But
if only 20% in the first round, how good is the subset? [Can somebody
take the raw data from the comp99 votes and generate random subsets
of it (possibly biased towards votes from completists) and see how
the finalist lists come out?]

>Also, if this URL hasn't been posted yet (I use an offline newsread),
>http://www.dfan.org/IF/altcomp.html or something like that should

Unfortunately, I can't guess what "something like that" might be.
And *somebody* didn't update his index.txt (his comp99 reviews
don't even show up in it).

Sean Barrett

Daniel Barkalow

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Nov 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/21/99
to
On 19 Nov 1999, Andrew Plotkin wrote:

> Cons: The first round would still have to be five or six weeks, I think.
> (I *was* a really psyched player this year, but it still took me five
> weeks to play 33 games.) So the finalists are still looking at more than
> two months delay before they get real feedback.

How about this: in the first round, each game only gets played for about
20 minutes. I think that 20 minutes play is enough to decide whether the
game is interesting or not; if you don't like it after 20 minutes, you're
probably not going to end up liking it at the end. The games should still
take up to 2 hours to play though, of course, and should be expected
to be played though in the second round.

This would bias the competition to games which are interesting at the
beginning over ones that are interesting at the end, but I expect that
this bias exists in the real world anyway (if the first 20 minutes of
playing a game that I don't have to play aren't interesting, I generally
don't bother) and this most likely seeps into the competition anyway. I
suppose there could be a lot of games that are great for 20 minutes and
then get lame, but I think that anyone able to make the first 20 minutes
of a great game would then make the rest good, too.

Perhaps two weeks would be sufficient, given that people aren't actually
expected to play the whole of each of the games. This is more than a
sixth of the original time, to account for people who play fast but not
often (e.g., having a busy weekend on the one weekend).

-Iabervon
*This .sig unintentionally changed*


Joe Mason

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Nov 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/21/99
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David Glasser <gla...@iname.com> wrote:
>Stephen Norris <s...@fn.com.au> wrote:
>
>> In article <813vlb$f37$1...@news.ycc.yale.edu>,
>> kar...@fermi2.chem.yale.edu writes:
>> > - I think having thanksgiving during the comp would actually help some
>> > people have some free time to play!
>>
>> The USA is not the whole world. Nobody else has thanksgiving.
>
>Well, so it doesn't hurt you, then.

As a data point, Canada has Thanksgiving, but its in October, so it already
falls within the competition. And yes, it helped give me free time to play.

Joe

tls

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Nov 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/22/99
to
Here's my thoughts:

The competition appears to work fine as is. Not perfect, no, but if you
want perfection, you are on the wrong planet. But it works.

There is nothing stopping someone who does not think it works well enough
from running a competition of their own. If it were run offset by, say, 6
months from the current competition, it might even work out fairly well.
--
ti...@ripco.com - you...@foad.org - help, I'm stuck in a bottle

Andrew Plotkin

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Nov 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/22/99
to
tls <ti...@ripco.com> wrote:
> Here's my thoughts:
>
> The competition appears to work fine as is. Not perfect, no, but if you
> want perfection, you are on the wrong planet. But it works.
>
> There is nothing stopping someone who does not think it works well enough
> from running a competition of their own. If it were run offset by, say, 6
> months from the current competition, it might even work out fairly well.

Actually, I think it would work out badly, to the detriment of both
competitions.

Chris Carollo

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Nov 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/22/99
to
Sean T Barrett wrote:

[snip]

> The first point means potentially *fewer* players for the non-finalist
> games, since they become also-rans and are less likely to draw
> players after the first round. *Maybe* somehow the fact that
> the second phase now gets to cast votes will increase the total
> number of players (not just judges) from the current situation,
> but it doesn't seem likely.

Really? I disagree.

This year's competition was the first that I seriously judged, and
I felt like I was constantly rushed for time -- it consumed much
of my free time, I dismissed initially mediocre games too quickly,
and I relied on hints/walkthroughs much too often.

If the competition was structured such that there were 10 finalists
for me to play in the 6-week period, I would be much more likely
to be a judge in future competitions, and would most likely play
the games more "fairly".

If there are around 37 games in next year's competition, I
probably won't judge, because I don't think I can do the
games justice.

As I see the two-tier system:

Pros:
- Potentially more judges/players for the finalists.
- Likely better quality playthroughs of the finalists.

Cons:
- Likely fewer judges/players for the non-finalists.
- Likely longer overall competition.
- More complex system.

Anyone know the dates at which the games are submitted? If it's
not a deluge right at the deadline, the first round judging could
potentially happen immediately upon submission, to attempt to
alleviate the longer overall competition.

> But if only 20% in the first round, how good is the subset? [Can
> somebody take the raw data from the comp99 votes and generate random
> subsets of it (possibly biased towards votes from completists) and
> see how the finalist lists come out?]

I would guess that you'd want to target 15-20% for the first round.
Getting that data is a really good idea -- it'll definitely let
us see if the judging is too scattered to accurately determine
finalists.

-Chris

Stephen Granade

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Nov 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/22/99
to
Chris Carollo <ccarollo@nospam.__lglass.com__.nospam> writes:

> If there are around 37 games in next year's competition, I
> probably won't judge, because I don't think I can do the
> games justice.

One comment on this: there is a very specific reason that you only
need play five games to vote, and this is it. There's no requirement
that you play all of the games by the end of the voting period.

> Anyone know the dates at which the games are submitted? If it's
> not a deluge right at the deadline, the first round judging could
> potentially happen immediately upon submission, to attempt to
> alleviate the longer overall competition.

There is a deluge right at the deadline. The day before the
competition, I had to check my mail regularly to keep my inbox from
overflowing.

Stephen

--
Stephen Granade | Interested in adventure games?
sgra...@phy.duke.edu | Visit About.com's IF Page
Duke University, Physics Dept | http://interactfiction.about.com

Mary K. Kuhner

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Nov 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/22/99
to
Stephen Granade <sgra...@lepton.phy.duke.edu> wrote:
>Chris Carollo <ccarollo@nospam.__lglass.com__.nospam> writes:

>> Anyone know the dates at which the games are submitted? If it's
>> not a deluge right at the deadline, the first round judging could
>> potentially happen immediately upon submission, to attempt to
>> alleviate the longer overall competition.

>There is a deluge right at the deadline. The day before the
>competition, I had to check my mail regularly to keep my inbox from
>overflowing.

Also, after all the trouble we go to to make sure that the games
are judged in random order, it would be a pity to adopt a system
that would tend to get way more votes for the early-submitted
games than for the late-submitted ones. (No way to judge in
random order if game X is available in September and game Y
not until October.)

It *would* lead to an interesting sort of dilemma: submit now,
with bugs, or wait and risk not getting enough judges? (Bad
options both ways....)

Mary Kuhner mkku...@eskimo.com

Sean T Barrett

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Nov 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/22/99
to
Chris Carollo <ccarollo@nospam.__lglass.com__.nospam> wrote:

>Sean T Barrett wrote:
>> *Maybe* somehow the fact that
>> the second phase now gets to cast votes will increase the total
>> number of players (not just judges) from the current situation,
>> but it doesn't seem likely.
[snip]

>If the competition was structured such that there were 10 finalists
>for me to play in the 6-week period, I would be much more likely
>to be a judge in future competitions, and would most likely play
>the games more "fairly".
[snip]

>Pros:
>- Potentially more judges/players for the finalists.
>- Likely better quality playthroughs of the finalists.
>
>Cons:
>- Likely fewer judges/players for the non-finalists.
[snip]

To restate what was merely parenthetical: I do not think
the restructured approach would increase the number of
players overall (and nothing in your response seemed to
give a reason why it would, though that was the part
of my post you were replying to--although I trimmed it
a bit for the above quote). Players, not judges. People
who sit down and run the game, say, before the next
competition starts.

It will result in fewer people playing the non-finalist games.
It may result in more people playing the finalist games; but
right now, anybody can play the top N games if they so choose,
so I'm not sure under what conditions it really would.
It may result in more *judges*, but I don't think that is of
any value beyond what I called "warm fuzzies" for
participating in the community.

If you want to get more subtle about "the degree to
which games are played fairly", we can, but I think
that's a pretty second-order effect compared to the
above issues.

The goal of the competition appears to be to encourage more
IF to be created, presumably in part by creating a ready-made
audience to play the author's works. Since under the current
system anybody can play the top N games after the competition
is over, I'm not sure what goal changing the competition is
supposed to achieve.

If the desire is really just to get judges to not feel like
they have to rush through the competition, then I think the
existing rules work fine, and we just need to flag more
concretely and specifically "DO NOT PLAY ALL THE GAMES.
Play a random selection. The randomness across all judges
will even it out. Then you can play the best ones when the
competition is over."

There's a real eye-opener on the full stats page: not only
did every game get voted '1' by somebody, but every game
except Skyranch got voted at least a '7' by somebody. Personally
I'd prefer a system that didn't pick a top 10 but rather just
weeded out the stuff that "shouldn't have been submitted"; but
based on those numbers, there's clearly no objective measurement
for what shouldn't have been submitted, at least unless somebody
adds an official baseline requirement to the competition.

Sean Barrett

Chris Carollo

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Nov 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/22/99
to

Sean T Barrett wrote:
> To restate what was merely parenthetical: I do not think
> the restructured approach would increase the number of
> players overall (and nothing in your response seemed to
> give a reason why it would, though that was the part
> of my post you were replying to--although I trimmed it
> a bit for the above quote). Players, not judges. People
> who sit down and run the game, say, before the next
> competition starts.

True -- if the goal is to get more overall players, then a two-tier
approach will only help insofar as being "part of the competition"
increases people's interest in IF.

It strikes me that it's a little odd to be discussing changes to
the competition, if the real goal is to increase _overall_
players. If we want to increase judges, I think the two-tier
model is a good idea, and will work.

I'm not sure what to do to increase overall players. The
competition is how I became interested in IF, so making the
judging process more accomodating and enjoyable (ie. only
playing finalists) for those people who are on the "fringe"
of the IF community seems like a good idea. Personally, the
aspect of being a judge makes the competition more appealing.
I have no idea how many people out there share that sentiment,
though.

> The goal of the competition appears to be to encourage more
> IF to be created, presumably in part by creating a ready-made
> audience to play the author's works. Since under the current
> system anybody can play the top N games after the competition
> is over, I'm not sure what goal changing the competition is
> supposed to achieve.

That's a good point -- most of the arguments for changing the
competition are from a judge's perspective. The changes are
designed to make *judging* more enjoyable. While this is good
because it can increase discussion, if the goal is to increase
the amount of IF out there, then the two-tier approach may
be a bad one, especially for newbies who realize that they
are likely to not "make the cut".

-Chris

Knight37

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Nov 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/22/99
to
erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin) wrote:

>tls <ti...@ripco.com> wrote:

>> There is nothing stopping someone who does not think it works well
>> enough from running a competition of their own. If it were run offset
>> by, say, 6 months from the current competition, it might even work out
>> fairly well.
>
>Actually, I think it would work out badly, to the detriment of both
>competitions.

I don't think it would work out very well for this "new" comp, but I don't
think it would affect the "One True" IF Comp, much either. I really don't
think it would get enough attention to upset the annual comp. Much like the
mini-comps that don't usually get much attention.

I personally don't see it as a bad idea, either. I think it's a good idea
to have a smaller comp held away from the annual comp that would maybe be
aimed at and catering to novice IF authors. Perhaps one of the rules could
be "If you've ever placed higher than 10th in the Annual IF Comp or XYZZY
Awards, you can't enter." This would give novices a chance to "practice"
for the Annual comp, and then maybe their Annual comp submission would be
more polished. Or maybe not.

bre...@hotmail.com

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Nov 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/23/99
to
I personally think 'puzzle-less if' should be judged seperatley, much
the same way the Golden Globes have seperate categories for drama and
comedy. While both are technically IF (as drama and comedy are both
movies) I feel that they do not have enough in common to judge against
one another.

Right now, we have some 'works' losing points both because they have
puzzles, and some because they don't. Some may argue that that balances
out, but I don't think its fair. You should gain or lose points based
soley on wether or not your work is a good example of its type, not
merely because it was a certain type.

R

Eric Mayer

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Nov 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/23/99
to
On Mon, 22 Nov 1999 11:30:12 -0500, Chris Carollo
<ccarollo@nospam.__lglass.com__.nospam> wrote:

>This year's competition was the first that I seriously judged, and
>I felt like I was constantly rushed for time -- it consumed much
>of my free time, I dismissed initially mediocre games too quickly,
>and I relied on hints/walkthroughs much too often.
>

>If the competition was structured such that there were 10 finalists
>for me to play in the 6-week period, I would be much more likely
>to be a judge in future competitions, and would most likely play
>the games more "fairly".
>

>If there are around 37 games in next year's competition, I
>probably won't judge, because I don't think I can do the
>games justice.
>


As an author this year, and someone who was unfamiliar with the
Competition before this year, I'd like to put in a comment and I
suppose this is as good a place as any.

What I see first is the number of voters. Even the games which were
not written in TADS or INFORM had, as I recall, at least 50 voters.
That is a very nice sample of opinion and I expect, with that large of
a sample, you're getting a pretty good idea of what the IF community
at large thinks about the games. That sample probably includes voters
who tried to play all the games resorting to walkthroughs early,
voters who played a few games in depth, not to mention ones who marked
off lots for bugs, vs those who gave decent scores to unplayable games
etc etc. etc.

In other words, I think that the vagueness of the rules, coupled with
the number of voters, works just fine.

The number of games submitted does create a problem for voters who
want to play and vote on all the games or those of us who want to play
all the games so as to enjoy the reviews more, but I don't think it
affects the results much.

By the way, I figure if you don't like a game it doesn't take 2 hours
to find out and I certainly have no problem with people deciding a
game isn't so swift, or just not their cup of tea, within a few
minutes and moving on. It wouldn't (and didn't the few times I
researched the genre) take me more than about ten minutes to figure
out I personally don't want to read a Romance novel for instance. I
guess I'm not sure, now that I think about it, if the judging rules
require a game be played for two hours.
--
Eric Mayer
Web Site: <http://home.epix.net/~maywrite>
=====================================================
co-author of ONE FOR SORROW
A "John the Eunuch" mystery from Poisoned Pen Press
<http://www.poisonedpenpress.com/html/sorrow.html>
=====================================================
"The map is not the territory." -- Alfred Korzybski

David Glasser

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Nov 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/23/99
to
Sean T Barrett <buz...@world.std.com> wrote:

> David Glasser <gla...@iname.com> wrote:

[Note: I'm not responding to the stuff actually about the competition
because I don't have any ideas. Sorry.]

> >Also, if this URL hasn't been posted yet (I use an offline newsread),
> >http://www.dfan.org/IF/altcomp.html or something like that should
>
> Unfortunately, I can't guess what "something like that" might be.

http://www.dfan.org/IF/alt-comp.html, sorry.

> And *somebody* didn't update his index.txt (his comp99 reviews
> don't even show up in it).

Give him a break, he's been at this server for only a week, I think.

tr/y/k;

Stephen Granade

unread,
Nov 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/23/99
to
mayw...@epix.net (Eric Mayer) writes:

> By the way, I figure if you don't like a game it doesn't take 2 hours
> to find out and I certainly have no problem with people deciding a
> game isn't so swift, or just not their cup of tea, within a few
> minutes and moving on. It wouldn't (and didn't the few times I
> researched the genre) take me more than about ten minutes to figure
> out I personally don't want to read a Romance novel for instance. I
> guess I'm not sure, now that I think about it, if the judging rules
> require a game be played for two hours.

They require only that you play the game for no more than two
hours. No minimum play time is given.

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Nov 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/23/99
to
bre...@hotmail.com wrote:
> I personally think 'puzzle-less if' should be judged seperatley, much
> the same way the Golden Globes have seperate categories for drama and
> comedy. While both are technically IF (as drama and comedy are both
> movies) I feel that they do not have enough in common to judge against
> one another.

Now, for bonus points, classify this year's entries into "puzzle-less" and
"puzzle-ful".

Come back when you've got everybody's agreement.

Kathleen M. Fischer

unread,
Nov 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/23/99
to
In article <383949ed...@newsserver.epix.net>,
mayw...@epix.net (Eric Mayer) wrote:

> By the way, I figure if you don't like a game it doesn't take 2 hours
> to find out and I certainly have no problem with people deciding a
> game isn't so swift, or just not their cup of tea, within a few
> minutes and moving on. It wouldn't (and didn't the few times I
> researched the genre) take me more than about ten minutes to figure
> out I personally don't want to read a Romance novel for instance.

Would you dismiss a romance IF as soon as you figure out that's what it
is (like when you see the sentence right below the title that says "An
interactive historical romance"), or would you at least give it chance.

Kathleen (14 or so months and 361.5K into creating such a creature --
oh, and I should probably add that I dismiss any game that I deem to
contain "offensive" material, so I'm certainly not wagging my finger at
you or anything, I'm just curious.)

--
-- Excuse me while I dance a little jig of despair.

Eric Mayer

unread,
Nov 24, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/24/99
to
On Tue, 23 Nov 1999 17:38:42 GMT, Kathleen M. Fischer
<green_g...@my-deja.com> wrote:


>Would you dismiss a romance IF as soon as you figure out that's what it
>is (like when you see the sentence right below the title that says "An
>interactive historical romance"), or would you at least give it chance.
>

Well, maybe I didn't express that very well. Romance I used as an
example of a kind of book I'd had such a reaction to, but it could've
been something else. It wasn't the fact that I found out it was a
romance that stopped me reading but the fact that I wasn't enjoying it
and didn't anticipate enjoying it based on what I'd read. I think a
writer has an obligation to let the reader know, more or less, what
the story is like as quickly as possible and not expect readers to
keep reading in case it gets better, changes to something different
etc...which most won't anyway. Too bad I don't always take my own
advice, of course:)

Unfortunately, the publishing industry these days is such that you
often can judge a book by the genre mentioned on its cover. The bean
counters will insist that a book marketed as a romance, for example,
or a mystery, contain certain elements. That being the case, I can
predict pretty well that I wouldn't like most commercially published
romances. No doubt there would be some out there that would break the
mold.

IF, however, isn't subject to commercial restraints so I couldn't
really predict what your romance might be like. Besides which, IF is a
different kind of art form anyhow! So the question would just be
whether I enjoyed it when I started playing.

dom...@my-deja.com

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Nov 24, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/24/99
to
In article <817kh4$btc$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>,

okbl...@my-deja.com wrote:
> >
> You're absolutely right and I should have
clarified that point.
>
> I still cringe, though. It's one thing to take
70 hours out of your
> life to sincerely evaluate a group of items, and
another to do it
> knowing that somewhere in the pile is a product
which, through sheer
> random chance, might resonate with you--and end
up making you look like
> a boob for liking it.

And here I suppose I should clarify myself as
well. I've called Beal Street a joke because
that's how I approached writing it (NOT, I should
point out, because I thought of it as a joke
played on the IF community). I thought, "Gee,
wouldn't it be funny to come up with a PC who was
a complete snob and write a game using that sort
of pretentious tone?" I know, I know, I did that
with the Student in Exhibition, but it was too fun
to do just once, and I thought I'd try for more
subtlty. I thought people would primarily like it
for the same reason I enjoyed "Chix Dig Jerks",
that is, once in a while, it's fun to assume the
persona of a complete assjack. It's why I act for
a living ;) However, I've been honestly surprised
and gratified that some people were able to tap
into the humanity that was under there and find
something redeeming in the game. When it comes to
emotional response to a piece, any sincere
reaction is completely viable; what the author
originally intended really has no bearing on it.

> Again, I don't want to dramaticize this, since I
didn't hear any hoots
> of derision against people who liked "Beal
Street"--and if anything it
> showed the generosity of spirit (and maturity)
among those who play the
> comp games toward those who write them.

Entirely. For me it's the players that make
it worthwhile for me to work in this timeconsuming
art form and I feel compelled to do so because of
how wonderfully gracious, supportive, and
forgiving an audience it is. Thanks again.

Ian Finley

tls

unread,
Nov 24, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/24/99
to
In article <81bmp4$nfr$2...@nntp9.atl.mindspring.net>,

Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote:
>tls <ti...@ripco.com> wrote:
>> There is nothing stopping someone who does not think it works well enough
>> from running a competition of their own. If it were run offset by, say, 6
>> months from the current competition, it might even work out fairly well.
>
>Actually, I think it would work out badly, to the detriment of both
>competitions.

It would depend, in part, on what the rules of the new comp turned out to
be, and how you define 'detriment', I suspect.

I can see where having two comps might result in fewer entries to each.
This might be a good thing. For one thing, with the knowledge that if one
didn't have time to /really/ complete an entry for one comp, one might
save it for the next, which would presumably overall increase the technical
quality of games and possibly the quality of content as well. The
difference between 'waiting 6 months' and 'waiting a year' is pretty
large, after all.

On the other hand, it might potentially cut down on judges. Some people
probably don't have the patience to /twice/ a year sit through judging
games within a particular timescale. This is where it might or might not
really be a bad thing; there were a fairly large number of judges for
this year's comp, and if it were decreased by a /small/ percentage, I don't
think the comp would really suffer... but it might not be decreased by
only a small percentage.

With a different set of judging rules (which seems to be the main point
under consideration here), however, it could end up attracting an
entirely different set of judges, plus one presumes there would be /some/
overlap. And I did note that there was some minor discussion of changes
to the entry rules as well, which might end up attracting an entirely
different set of authors, as well. And with two comps, authors would
probably tend to only /enter/ one, leaving them free to judge the other
if that's their cup of tea. This is why I think it might end up working
out okay.

I concede I can see ways other than the judging-related one I mention
above in which both comps might suffer, but then, I also would like to
note I only said it /might/ work fairly well. I'm more inclined to think
that it would work than not, for reasons mentioned above, and besides, it
might cut down on the annual "the competition must CHANGE" discussions,
though that's probably wishful thinking. :)

The other thing I would think a second contest would accomplish is a more
steady diet of IF releases, of course.

I am, overall, happy with the IF competition as is, however, and am not
seriously campaigning for any changes or a second contest. I'd be vaguely
interested in a second contest (I might even end up entering one of them
one of these days, hahahaha, like I'm going to finish a piece of IF any
time in my lifetime) only for the lesser sense of time pressure really.

Now, a different contest that were /themed/ would catch my attention...

Marnie Parker

unread,
Nov 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/25/99