Calling the IF Meta-Comp: Define this comp!

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Conrad

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Nov 29, 2008, 2:56:54 PM11/29/08
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Folks, I am calling the Meta-Comp for early Summer '09. Meta-Comp is
a new and innovative concept in IF game competitions, which will
challenge game designers' creativity in truly unique ways.


The Timeline:

The Comp will begin July 1, which in '09 is a Wednesday. Prizes will
be drawn from a cash pool, with proportional allotments (explained
below): I'll donate $100 to start us off.

Early registration opens May 1 and runs until June 1. It costs $5 to
register early. Normal registration runs June 2 until June 17, and
costs $10. Late registration runs right up until June 29, and costs
$15.

Game designers are required to upload their games by the end of June
29 -- not at their time of registration.

All registration fees go directly into the prize pool, so you'll have
a chance to win it back.

Judging begins July 1 and runs until July 25, which gives judges three
and a half weeks. The winners are announced on the 26th, and we have
the rest of the month for victory celebrations. Winners will be
expected to write acceptance speeches. --Posts.


The Theme:

"Meta" means "about." The ancient Greeks studied nature, and called
it physics: then they studied the nature of nature, and called it
meta-physics. The meta- prefix is generally used to describe concepts
that are being applied to themselves. In role-playing circles, "meta-
gaming" is to play, not the game from within the game-world, but from
outside and above the game-world: "Do you think the D.M. would really
have had the butler do it?" --that is meta-gaming.

The meta- prefix is generally applied to situations that are self-
referential.

Some people have suggested that a Meta-Comp would be a competition of
competitions; others have suggested that it be a competition of games
that make meta-references (xyzzy humor). In reality, the Meta-Comp is
whatever you, the game designers and the judges, decide it will be.


The Rules

"You know the rules; there are no rules..."

The Meta-Comp does not apply rules to the competition. Instead, the
contestants are expected to provide the rules on which their game
should be judged.

Each entry to the Meta-Comp will include an IF game and a description,
including rules, of the competition which that game is meant for.
Judges will assign each entry an Olympic score, 1-10, on whatever
basis they choose.

Some competitions have rules requiring games be newly-written, or that
the competitors comport themselves in a certain way. Meta-Comp has no
such rules, but the competition entries themselves may; and judges are
of course free to use their votes to reward newly-written games, or
especially admirable comportment of the game writers, or indeed any
criteria whatsoever.


Is Meta-Comp Really Wide-Open?

Meta-Comp is absolutely wide open. Of course, that means it operates
on mutual trust -- or mutual paranoia, as the case may be. A game
writer who creates a game with illegal content -- through blatant
copyright violation, perhaps -- may argue that although the game is
illegal he has broken no rules, and that would be true. But in such
an extreme case, the comp organizer would also be aware that there are
no rules against removing such an entry...

The expectation is that the mutual paranoia/trust scheme will be fully
sufficient, and no such intrusion into the comp will be needed.


The Goal

The goal of the Meta-Comp is not just to generate games with in-jokes
and games about gaming, although those are considered entirely
desirable: but to encourage and stimulate total creativity in game
design, both in the creation of the game itself, and in the creation
of the contextualization of games. By having game designers define
the competition in which their game is meant to be played, Meta-Comp
is the first forum for the demonstrative advocation of certain *types*
of games: the Meta-Comp contestant says with his or her entry, "Games
like this are cool."

--Or indeed, the contestant can enter an Uncool Game Comp. It's
entirely open.


Conrad.


ps - Prize Structure

So, let's say we have 10 entries: some are early, some late, it
averages out to $10 per entry for $100. And let's say that nobody
else donates to the prize pool. So we have:

$100 (original pool)
$100 (10 entries x $10 ea.)
-------
$200 prize pool.

We award prizes to those entries that came in first, second, and
third, and to two honorable mentions:

1st: half the pool. $100.
2nd: half the remaining pool. $50.
3rd: half the remaining pool. $25.
2 H.M.s: each an equal portion of what remains. So $12.50.

I'd like to get the honorable mention prize up to a more respectable
sum, so I'll welcome donations. -- Not yet, but please think it over.

I mean, $12.50 isn't *bad*. And it's hard to predict right now what
$12.50 will get you in late July of '09 -- at this rate, it might buy
you a half a tank of gas or a small house. But I'm hoping we can get
a better prize pool than this.

--This is going to be a cash-prize-only system, because it's too
difficult to integrate a highest-scorers-pick-first with this system.
But, if you were thinking of donating an item, you can still help --
just donate the postage you'd have spent on sending that item. Small
donations work together to make a huge influence!

C.

George Oliver

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Nov 29, 2008, 3:14:09 PM11/29/08
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On Nov 29, 11:56 am, Conrad <conradc...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Folks, I am calling the Meta-Comp for early Summer '09.


So a make up a comp and write a game for it comp? Sounds like fun.

David Fisher

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Nov 29, 2008, 4:41:26 PM11/29/08
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"Conrad" <conra...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:a44b17a9-39d6-4ea4...@w3g2000yqc.googlegroups.com...

>
> The Meta-Comp does not apply rules to the competition.
> Instead, the contestants are expected to provide the
> rules on which their game should be judged.

This seems like a great opportunity for people who are
writing games that don't fit the criteria for other
competitions ... it might be tricky for judges to
compare games with completely different play times,
though.

I hope people aren't discouraged by the entry fee ...

David Fisher


steve....@gmail.com

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Nov 29, 2008, 4:56:30 PM11/29/08
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Sounds good Conrad!

A note about "the theme" -- you're right about the modern usage of the
"meta-" prefix (which dates back to Enlightenment reinterpretation of
a Scholastic misinterpretation of a mis-titled book of Aristotle).
Suffice to say that "meta-" means "after," and Aristotle's Metaphysics
were so named for the perfectly mindless reason that they were placed
*after* Aristotle's Physics in the posthumous anthologies. If
Aristotle held the modern distinction between philosophy/metaphysics
and the empirical sciences (which he did not), then he would probably
have named these works on theology, ontology, etc. something like
"Anaphysics," but not "Metaphysics."

Anyway, like I said, you're right about the modern usage of "meta-" to
mean "gaming" in the transitive sense (e.g., "gaming the system"),
ironization, self-reflection, and such. I thought you might get a kick
out of how arbitrary and ironical is the origin of the term. :)

Andrew Plotkin

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Nov 29, 2008, 8:38:45 PM11/29/08
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Here, Conrad <conra...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> "Meta" means "about." The ancient Greeks studied nature, and called
> it physics: then they studied the nature of nature, and called it
> meta-physics.

Correcting to be polite: "Meta" means "after" or "next to". The Greeks
studied the nature of nature, and called it "metaphysics" because that
was the chapter after "physics" in Aristotle.

--Z

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

Ron Newcomb

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Nov 29, 2008, 10:13:59 PM11/29/08
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Hey look everyone! I'm a meta-pedant! :)

-R (wholly a smartass)

brennanyoung

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Nov 30, 2008, 4:50:33 AM11/30/08
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On Nov 30, 2:38 am, Andrew Plotkin <erkyr...@eblong.com> wrote:

> Correcting to be polite: "Meta" means "after" or "next to".

The 'correct' / Greek meaning of "meta" can still be felt in the
German ablative preposition "mit" (with/beside/along with) and its
scandinavian equivalent "med". The etymologists offer an alternative
history for the English 'with', but if you purse you lips tight at the
beginning of the 'W' and use hardly any air in the "th" ("mwith") you
have a sound close to the modern Danish "med", which is probably not a
coincidence.

-B

Conrad

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Nov 30, 2008, 9:58:49 AM11/30/08
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On Nov 29, 4:56 pm, steve.bres...@gmail.com wrote:

> Sounds good Conrad!
>
> A note about "the theme" -- you're right about the modern usage of the
> "meta-" prefix (which dates back to Enlightenment reinterpretation of
> a Scholastic misinterpretation of a mis-titled book of Aristotle).
> Suffice to say that "meta-" means "after," and Aristotle's Metaphysics
> were so named for the perfectly mindless reason that they were placed
> *after* Aristotle's Physics in the posthumous anthologies. If
> Aristotle held the modern distinction between philosophy/metaphysics
> and the empirical sciences (which he did not), then he would probably
> have named these works on theology, ontology, etc. something like
> "Anaphysics," but not "Metaphysics."

On Nov 29, 8:38 pm, Andrew Plotkin <erkyr...@eblong.com> wrote:
>
> Correcting to be polite: "Meta" means "after" or "next to". The Greeks
> studied the nature of nature, and called it "metaphysics" because that
> was the chapter after "physics" in Aristotle.

Thanks, guys. For my part, it's Greek to me...

I'll update the file so the next announcement is eurditer.


Conrad.

S. John Ross

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Nov 30, 2008, 10:07:49 AM11/30/08
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I'm not a comp guy, but I just wanted to say how utterly, utterly cool
this is.

If I were ever to _become_ a comp guy, this comp would probably be the
reason :)

Raksab

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Nov 30, 2008, 5:28:39 PM11/30/08
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Hmmm. I'm familiar with meta-game thinking as it applies to D&D
games. *ponders* Well, you could certainly make some IF that breaks
the proverbial "fourth wall."

For instance, a game could be published with the debugging commands
left in, and have the use of one or more of those verbs be required to
win.

Or a game in which the goal of the PC is to write an award-winning IF
game. Or you could write a game in which the goal is to slay Usenet
trolls, or some other in-joke. (For a twist, you could BE a Usenet
troll, and try to get a rise out of people. Hmm.)

You could write a game with a PC who somehow gets sucked into the
world of IF, and solve puzzles by recalling solutions from games
you've played.

You could make a game in which you have to talk the PC into doing
something (or not doing something).

You could make a game in which the "game master" (an imaginary NPC who
runs the world) talks to you, the player, who controls the PC.

You could make a game which is a simulation within a simulation.


I've seen a few titles that do some of these things...

Jim Aikin

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Nov 30, 2008, 7:48:46 PM11/30/08
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All good ideas, Raksab. So in the meta-meta game, the player has to
choose one of the scenarios you've listed ... or convince the parser to
adopt one of them. Or find the hidden clues to the author's email
address so as to be able to contact the author and ask for something to
be implemented.

Or, here's another meta-game: The author distributes only a somewhat
incomplete version of the source code, and the "player" has to complete
the game design in order to win.

--JA

Conrad

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Dec 1, 2008, 9:23:07 AM12/1/08
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Folks, the Meta-Comp webpage is online:

http://metacomp.conradcook.net

I'm making this up as I go along, so feedback and suggestions are
welcome.


Conrad.

S. John Ross

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Dec 1, 2008, 10:10:31 AM12/1/08
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I think that opening sentence ("The IF Meta-Comp is a new and
innovative concept in IF game competitions, that challenges game
designers' creativity in truly unique ways. "), while it was fine for
Usenet, is a bit Madison Avenue for the webpage. It feels laden with
self-back-pattery.

Not that I disagree with any particular point of the self-praise, mind
you. I think you've hatched the grooviest IF comp ... not ONLY in the
history of IF comps, but in the history of grooviness.

Raksab

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Dec 1, 2008, 11:19:08 AM12/1/08
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oooh, shiny website. This might give you something to do while you
wait for entries.

Just a quick note: You might wanna mention the word "graphics"
somewhere on that About page. It might make it clearer what you're
talking about when you discuss text games and early computers. Also,
while you're explaining to the world at large about IF, a link or two
to pertinent sites couldn't hurt. Even linking to the Wikipedia
article on IF might make it clearer to visitors who've never heard of
text games.

(Explaining IF to someone at a party takes me so long that, if a
computer isn't handy, the quickest route to mutual comprehension is:
"Well, have you heard of Zork?" If I get a blank stare, I know I'm at
the wrong party...)

By the way, you didn't say who is allowed to judge these games. Can
anyone be a judge?

Conrad

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Dec 1, 2008, 12:35:55 PM12/1/08
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Thanks to all who have expressed interest and given me feedback. I'll
continue to refine the web-page.

John, I'm glad you're so fired up! I'm really looking forward to
seeing what people come up with...


On Dec 1, 11:19 am, Raksab <theli...@hotmail.com> wrote:

> (Explaining IF to someone at a party takes me so long that, if a
> computer isn't handy, the quickest route to mutual comprehension is:
> "Well, have you heard of Zork?"  If I get a blank stare, I know I'm at
> the wrong party...)

I hear you.

My current thought is that the traffic the site will get right now
will be people who know what IF is. So, while I agree that it needs a
more thorough introduction for newbies, I'm giving that a lower
priority right now.

> By the way, you didn't say who is allowed to judge these games.  Can
> anyone be a judge?

Yes! -- I'm not making an official statement on how the judging will
happen, because I'm not certain how the information technology will
work. That is, I know it's possible with my current set-up, but I
won't know the details for a bit.

The basic goal will be to run a one-player-one-vote system, modeled on
the IF Comp system. If people are interested; I'm waiting to see what
comes of the "sign up" page.

Probably, I'll be testing the system with some bogus game entries and
have volunteers vote on them. Meta-Beta-Testers, if you will.

Maybe we can have a Bogus Comp: January looks quiet. Could be a good
test.


Conrad.

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