[COMP 98] Judging Time Limit

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Suzanne Skinner

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Jun 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/26/98
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Hello all,

Okay, this has probably been said before. In fact, I know it's been said
before. I also know it's ultimately the contest administrator's decision.
But it can't hurt to bring up the issue again....

I've been developing my first serious IF game for about two years now.
It was originally intended as an entry into last year's competition;
Muses willing, it will be done in time for this year's. I'm having misgivings
as to whether I should enter it, though. The story file is now in the
upper 400k range and growing. This isn't so much a matter of length or
breadth as of depth--there's a lot of detail and a huge amount of text,
much of it optional. Although someone probably *could* play through it
in 2 hours or less, skimming the story text for the important (read:
puzzle-related) bits and not lingering to smell the roses, it isn't meant
to be played that way. This game is all about story, discovery, and
mimesis, it's not about puzzle solving.

So, the obvious solution is to release it outside of the competition. But,
it being my first game and something I've put alot into, I'm eager for the
kind of exposure and feedback that a contest entry gets. If past years
are any indication, at least a dozen people will release reviews for all or
most of the games, some highly detailed. It seems only the really exceptional
games get that kind of reaction the rest of the year.

So, to get around to my point at last, how about, say, doubling the time
limit for judging individual games--or even removing it altogether?
Past competitions have shown that there is no way to keep big games from
being entered anyway (Savannah, Sherbet, etc.), short of putting a hard limit
on story file size. Another possibility is to have two divisions, one for
shorter games and one for longer, though this then brings up the question
of how to decide what belongs where. Or we could start a new competition for
big games ("macro-comp"?).....except that these are likely not to get as
much attention, especially if they come out before or during the regular
competition (I know I've been too busy working on my game for the past
two years to play much outside of the 1997 contest...one day when life calms
down I'll have a whole heap of new games to try!)

Let me know what you think, even if you just think I should stop whining and
make do with the XYZZY awards :-)

-Suzanne

--
http://dominion.cba.csuohio.edu/~tril/
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Paul O'Brian

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Jun 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/26/98
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On 26 Jun 1998, Suzanne Skinner wrote:

> So, the obvious solution is to release it outside of the competition. But,
> it being my first game and something I've put alot into, I'm eager for the
> kind of exposure and feedback that a contest entry gets. If past years
> are any indication, at least a dozen people will release reviews for all or
> most of the games, some highly detailed. It seems only the really exceptional
> games get that kind of reaction the rest of the year.

I see your problem. The competition is becoming a victim of its own
success, in that people like you are now sorely tempted to enter games
which probably aren't appropriate for its format, simply because those
games get so much more attention than other releases. However, I don't
think that shortening the time limit is the answer.

Speaking for myself only, I found it quite difficult to play through
all of last year's competition games (34 of them), and I spent two hours
or less on each. An extension or elimination of the time limit
(assuming the length of the competition remained the same, and Mr.
Dyte has indicated that it will) would mean that I'd play fewer games for
longer periods. I'm the kind of player who wants to finish a game unless
there's some artificially imposed reason why I shouldn't. Thus, if (say)
"Spider and Web II" was entered in the '98 competition, I'd probably bang
my head on it for six weeks and not get to any of the rest of the games,
including yours. I *want* a time limit for this reason -- I find it too
hard to quit a game I'm enjoying and get on to the next one unless I have
to.

In addition, even if the time limit was eliminated, there might well be a
tendency to rush through games in order to avoid the syndrome I just
mentioned. I'm getting the feeling from you that you don't want that to
happen to your game. Entering it in the competition, time limit or no,
ensures that it is one game of many -- the player's focus will necessarily
be split or shortened.

On the other hand, you could always submit it to the competition as-is,
knowing that it won't get played through all the way, and counting on the
quality of the game to buoy it to the top of the rankings. Chances are
that if it places highly, lots of people will devote more attention to it
after the competition is over. Lots of previous entrants have (knowingly
or not) benefitted from this strategy in the past.

About feedback -- I don't really have a good answer. I know I'm guilty of
giving much more feedback to competition games, partially *because* of the
time limit, and partly because I set aside some time at that part of the
year to focus on IF. Maybe others do this too. However, maybe what you
could do is send emails to a number of the people whose reviews have
impressed you, and ask them to pretty please look at your game (all the
while showering them with compliments, of course :). Couldn't hurt,
anyway.

So... my vote would be that we don't alter the competition rules,
and that you make your determination on whether to enter the
competition based on those rules. It may be small comfort, but I for one
will pledge to play your game and give you some thorough feedback,
whenever it comes out. (I'll even beta-test it for you if you like,
since you've been so kind to me in the past :).

Paul O'Brian
obr...@colorado.edu
http://ucsu.colorado.edu/~obrian


Dan Shiovitz

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Jun 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/26/98
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In article <6n0qg4$hcu$1...@csu-b.csuohio.edu>,

Suzanne Skinner <tr...@dominion.cba.csuohio.edu> wrote:
>Hello all,
>
>Okay, this has probably been said before. In fact, I know it's been said
>before. I also know it's ultimately the contest administrator's decision.
>But it can't hurt to bring up the issue again....
>
>I've been developing my first serious IF game for about two years now.
>It was originally intended as an entry into last year's competition;
>Muses willing, it will be done in time for this year's. I'm having misgivings
>as to whether I should enter it, though. The story file is now in the
>upper 400k range and growing. This isn't so much a matter of length or
>breadth as of depth--there's a lot of detail and a huge amount of text,
>much of it optional. Although someone probably *could* play through it
>in 2 hours or less, skimming the story text for the important (read:
>puzzle-related) bits and not lingering to smell the roses, it isn't meant
>to be played that way. This game is all about story, discovery, and
>mimesis, it's not about puzzle solving.
[..]

Please don't enter this in the competition. As you're obviously aware,
it's simply not suited for entry for either size or time reasons. I
agree that non-comp games often get less exposure, and that some comp
games have been larger than the limit, but still, please don't enter
this. If you wait til mid-january, the competition stuff should have
died down and you're likely to get a good amount of attention just
from that (or if you finish it earlier, and can release in early
september, that's just as good). In fact, if you do release in either
of those time slots, I promise I'll review it on rgif and get a couple
other people to do likewise. How's that?

>-Suzanne
--
Dan Shiovitz || d...@cs.wisc.edu || http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~dbs
"...Incensed by some crack he had made about modern enlightened
thought, modern enlightened thought being practically a personal buddy
of hers, Florence gave him the swift heave-ho and--much against my
will, but she seemed to wish it--became betrothed to me." - PGW, J.a.t.F.S.

Kayrun

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Jun 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/27/98
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>I'm having misgivings
>as to whether I should enter it, though. The story file is now in the
>upper 400k range and growing. This isn't so much a matter of length or
>breadth as of depth--there's a lot of detail and a huge amount of text,
>much of it optional. Although someone probably *could* play through it
>in 2 hours or less, skimming the story text for the important (read:
>puzzle-related) bits and not lingering to smell the roses, it isn't meant
>to be played that way.

I suggest that you try to release your game slightly before the
competition.....I think it would get a LOT of play at that time.....I know I'm
always anxious to jump on any new games during that month.

Andrew Plotkin

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Jun 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/27/98
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Suzanne Skinner (tr...@dominion.cba.csuohio.edu) wrote:

> I've been developing my first serious IF game for about two years now.
> It was originally intended as an entry into last year's competition;

> Muses willing, it will be done in time for this year's. I'm having misgivings


> as to whether I should enter it, though. The story file is now in the
> upper 400k range and growing. This isn't so much a matter of length or
> breadth as of depth--there's a lot of detail and a huge amount of text,
> much of it optional. Although someone probably *could* play through it
> in 2 hours or less, skimming the story text for the important (read:
> puzzle-related) bits and not lingering to smell the roses, it isn't meant
> to be played that way.

For what it's worth, I'd prefer you did not enter it in the competition.

Yeah, I entered "Weather", but that was small in at least some senses.
Few rooms, short transcript size, even if it took a lot of time to solve.

"Sherbet" was at the long end of the range for "novellas", but it played
fairly quickly.

If a game has a lot of text (which is relevant to the playing experience)
*and* it takes a long time to play properly, it's probably a large game.

One reason the competition is short games is because, at the time the
competition was being discussed, long games were getting all the
attention. The competition has overcompensated for this, probably. But if
the competition was expanded to all lengths, I think long games would
again start taking all the attention.

--Z

--

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

Miron Schmidt

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Jun 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/27/98
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Suzanne Skinner <tr...@dominion.cba.csuohio.edu> wrote:
> So, the obvious solution is to release it outside of the competition. But,
> it being my first game and something I've put alot into, I'm eager for the
> kind of exposure and feedback that a contest entry gets. If past years are
> any indication, at least a dozen people will release reviews for all or
> most of the games, some highly detailed. It seems only the really
> exceptional games get that kind of reaction the rest of the year.

My experience (with the one game I entered) was that, yes, people write
reviews and, yes, a lot of people play the games.
After that, any kind of feedback ceases. As soon as the Competition is
sealed, so is the general interest in the games.

Apart from the reviews -- which tend to be short, as they mostly cover as
many games as the reviewer has played -- I had almost no feedback at all!
("Almost" being three people on the XYZZY Awards MUD who told me that they
liked the game, plus two people who told me later on that they liked the
game after a Ron Jeremy reference was discovered, plus two people who wrote
me about the game, but without giving any helpful comments [Uh, Branko,
thanks for the mail anyway. It *was* uplifting!].)

From chats on the ifMUD, I've gathered that other Comp authors had similar
experiences, but maybe I only heard what I thought I would hear.

In conclusion, if you want detailed feedback, I think it would be *better* to
release the game outside of the Competition -- look what kind of hype
Anchorhead and (last year) Time received.


--
Miron Schmidt <mi...@comports.com> PGP key on request

WATCH TV... MARRY AND REPRODUCE... OBEY... PLAY INTERACTIVE FICTION...


cody sandifer

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Jun 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/27/98
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Hello there.

> I've been developing my first serious IF game for about two years now.
> It was originally intended as an entry into last year's competition;
> Muses willing, it will be done in time for this year's. I'm having misgivings
> as to whether I should enter it, though. The story file is now in the
> upper 400k range and growing. This isn't so much a matter of length or
> breadth as of depth--there's a lot of detail and a huge amount of text,
> much of it optional. Although someone probably *could* play through it
> in 2 hours or less, skimming the story text for the important (read:
> puzzle-related) bits and not lingering to smell the roses, it isn't meant

> to be played that way. This game is all about story, discovery, and
> mimesis, it's not about puzzle solving.
>

> So, the obvious solution is to release it outside of the competition. But,
> it being my first game and something I've put alot into, I'm eager for the
> kind of exposure and feedback that a contest entry gets.

Just to give a few comments...

If it's *detailed* feedback you want, don't count on the competition
players. After all, they're playing to have fun -- not to test the game.
The feedback you get from good playtesters will be 1000% better than the
feedback in game reviews.

Also, from my own experience, I suspect that more people have played
Everybody Loves a Parade (released in March) than Zero Sum Game (released
for the competition). I don't know for sure, but that's my guess.

>If past years
> are any indication, at least a dozen people will release reviews for all or
> most of the games, some highly detailed. It seems only the really exceptional
> games get that kind of reaction the rest of the year.

Detailed as far as plot, etc., but not specifics: additional verbs,
synonyms, and the like.

Just some thoughts,

Cody

Jeff Miller

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Jun 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/27/98
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On 27 Jun 98 18:18:37 +0200, "Miron Schmidt" <s59...@tfh-berlin.de>
wrote:


>In conclusion, if you want detailed feedback, I think it would be *better* to
>release the game outside of the Competition -- look what kind of hype
>Anchorhead and (last year) Time received.


Just wondering. What is this game "Time"? I don't know it and, if
it's in the same league as Anchorhead, which I loved, I've got to play
it.

Thanks,
Jeff Miller
jeff...@nr.infi.net

Mark J. Tilford

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Jun 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/30/98
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Time: All Things Come to An End (TACTAE.z8) It's linear and easy to
get into an unwinnable state, so keep all your save files!

--
-----------------------
Mark Jeffrey Tilford
til...@cco.caltech.edu

Allen Garvin

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Jun 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/30/98
to

In article <6n0qg4$hcu$1...@csu-b.csuohio.edu>,
Suzanne Skinner <tr...@dominion.cba.csuohio.edu> wrote:

I've been developing my first serious IF game for about two years now.
It was originally intended as an entry into last year's competition;
Muses willing, it will be done in time for this year's. I'm having
misgivings as to whether I should enter it, though. The story file is
now in the upper 400k range and growing. This isn't so much a matter
of length or breadth as of depth--there's a lot of detail and a huge
amount of text, much of it optional. Although someone probably *could*
play through it in 2 hours or less, skimming the story text for the
important (read: puzzle-related) bits and not lingering to smell
the roses, it isn't meant to be played that way. This game is all
about story, discovery, and mimesis, it's not about puzzle solving.

In last year's competition, The Lands of Erden got criticized by nearly
everyone as being impossible to play in 2 hours. Heck, it was difficult to
even map the main world in that period of time. The author didn't intend
it to be played in that time, but she thought it would be judged on initial
impressions, but not to her detriment because of its length.

So, the obvious solution is to release it outside of the
competition. But, it being my first game and something I've put
alot into, I'm eager for the kind of exposure and feedback that
a contest entry gets.

If you release during a really "dry" period when we're all desperate
for a new piece of IF, you'll probably get a lot of feedback as
rec.games.int-fiction fills up with comments and requests for hints
and stuff.

--
Allen Garvin kisses are a better fate
--------------------------------------------- than wisdom
eare...@faeryland.tamu-commerce.edu
http://faeryland.tamu-commerce.edu/~earendil e e cummings

David Glasser

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Jun 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/30/98
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cody sandifer <sand...@crmse.sdsu.edu> wrote:

> Hello there.


>
> > I've been developing my first serious IF game for about two years now.
> > It was originally intended as an entry into last year's competition;
> > Muses willing, it will be done in time for this year's. I'm having
> > misgivings as to whether I should enter it, though. The story file is
> > now in the upper 400k range and growing. This isn't so much a matter of
> > length or breadth as of depth--there's a lot of detail and a huge amount
> > of text, much of it optional. Although someone probably *could* play
> > through it in 2 hours or less, skimming the story text for the important
> > (read: puzzle-related) bits and not lingering to smell the roses, it
> > isn't meant to be played that way. This game is all about story,
> > discovery, and mimesis, it's not about puzzle solving.
> >

> > So, the obvious solution is to release it outside of the competition. But,
> > it being my first game and something I've put alot into, I'm eager for the
> > kind of exposure and feedback that a contest entry gets.

Oh, don't do the competition. If you search around on DejaNews, you'll
probably find my "comp is overdone" kvetch. Too lazy to repeat it.

> Just to give a few comments...
>
> If it's *detailed* feedback you want, don't count on the competition
> players. After all, they're playing to have fun -- not to test the game.
> The feedback you get from good playtesters will be 1000% better than the
> feedback in game reviews.

Yep. Plus, you get very mixed feelings from scores and reviews (several
comp games this year got scores from 1 to 10). After reading reviews, I
wasn't sure if my game sucked (which I tend to agree with) or was very
fun.

> Also, from my own experience, I suspect that more people have played
> Everybody Loves a Parade (released in March) than Zero Sum Game (released
> for the competition). I don't know for sure, but that's my guess.

Ah, but Parade was released back in the Good Old Days before the evil
competition took over. (OK, just kidding.)

> >If past years are any indication, at least a dozen people will release
> >reviews for all or most of the games, some highly detailed. It seems only
> >the really exceptional games get that kind of reaction the rest of the
> >year.
>
> Detailed as far as plot, etc., but not specifics: additional verbs,
> synonyms, and the like.

I dunno: most people said "this doesn't work that doesn't work" but not
plot stuff. OK, both.

One thing I know is that plot (kin) discussions come up on rgif more
often about non-comp games, because they are allowed too. Witness
Spider and Web.

--David Glasser
gla...@NOSPAMuscom.com | dgla...@NOSPAMfcs.pvt.k12.pa.us
http://onramp.uscom.com/~glasser | http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/6028
DGlasser @ ifMUD : fovea.retina.net:4000 (webpage fovea.retina.net:4001)
Interactive Fiction! MST3K! David Eddings! Macintosh!

Todd Baumann-Fern

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Jul 1, 1998, 3:00:00 AM7/1/98
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I think that most first-time IF writer/programmers create longer IF because it
is something new to them. They aren't thinking of trying to make it a short
game. They want it to be fun to them, and to get out all those ideas that have
been lurking in their minds. Writing shorter games comes with experience.
Just my thoughts though.....


michael...@ey.com

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Jul 1, 1998, 3:00:00 AM7/1/98
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In article <359A67F6...@midstate.tds.net>,

Yeah, that's a pretty astute insight. One of the reasons why Anchorhead is so
monstrous is because I had all these great ideas that had been building up
for years, and finally my first chance to do something with them came along,
and naturally I wanted to include *everything*. Of course, it's also long
because I personally like my IF long and meaty. But now that I've got a
better idea of the process, I can also get a kick out of narrowing the scope,
focusing on a particular idea or theme rather than one huge free-for-all.

--M.

-----== Posted via Deja News, The Leader in Internet Discussion ==-----
http://www.dejanews.com/rg_mkgrp.xp Create Your Own Free Member Forum

Greg Ewing

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Jul 2, 1998, 3:00:00 AM7/2/98
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Todd Baumann-Fern wrote:
>
> They want it to be fun to them, and to get out all those ideas that have
> been lurking in their minds. Writing shorter games comes with experience.

My experience is somethat the reverse. So far I haven't
written any piece of IF that I would call "long",
but have finished a few short games and some even
shorter fragments. So far I just haven't come up
with enough ideas that can be strung together into
a single long game, at least not without making it
a random hodgepodge like Zork or Dunjin.

I'm working on it, though...

--
Greg Ewing, Computer Science Dept, | The address below is not spam-
University of Canterbury, | protected, so as not to waste
Christchurch, New Zealand | the time of Guido van Rossum.
gr...@cosc.canterbury.ac.nz

Grimace

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Jul 3, 1998, 3:00:00 AM7/3/98
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> Time: All Things Come to An End (TACTAE.z8) It's linear and easy to
> get into an unwinnable state, so keep all your save files!

Oh, gods yes... how that game frustrated me... Definitely a good'un.

Very different to Anchorhead though - where I found Anchorhead sprawled
a bit too much, Time is nicely compact.

-Graeme.

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