[IFComp] Decline in # of voters

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Alan DeNiro

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Nov 17, 2003, 1:19:20 PM11/17/03
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Number of unique voters:

2001: 216
2002: 198
2003: 157

How much of a problem is this? A trend or a blip? Or is this even an
accurate indicator of the number of IF players overall (who might not
have voted but were perhaps lying in wait, seeing how the games panned
out...just a speculation).

Alan

___
Alan DeNiro
http://ptarmigan.blogspot.com

Andrew Plotkin

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Nov 17, 2003, 1:42:44 PM11/17/03
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Here, Alan DeNiro <aland...@aol.com> wrote:
> Number of unique voters:
>
> 2001: 216
> 2002: 198
> 2003: 157
>
> How much of a problem is this? A trend or a blip?

It's consistent with a definite decline in the number of Comp entries.

I didn't play or score games this year -- the first year I've missed.
I just had other stuff I wanted to do more. (Some of that was even
IF-related.)

I doubt I'm the common case, though. I mean, there are always people
who slip out of IF voting in any given year, but I don't think I'm an
example of a big demographic shift.

How much Comp publicity was there this year? I think we've fallen out
of really trying to spread word around about the Comp. (If I'm wrong,
please post!) I got a note up on games.slashdot.org, but that doesn't
get read as widely as the generic slashdot feed.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
* Make your vote count. Get your vote counted.

Gerhard Brandt

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Nov 17, 2003, 2:54:01 PM11/17/03
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hi,

is there a way to find out wether ones votes have actually been counted?
i think mine should have shown up as tiny peaks on certain of the
histograms (because not in the main signal) (unless they're log plots)

gerhard

Dan Shiovitz

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Nov 17, 2003, 4:20:16 PM11/17/03
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In article <bpb90p$8gd$1...@news.urz.uni-heidelberg.de>,

Gerhard Brandt <g...@uni-hd.de> wrote:
>
>hi,
>
>is there a way to find out wether ones votes have actually been counted?
>i think mine should have shown up as tiny peaks on certain of the
>histograms (because not in the main signal) (unless they're log plots)

On an administrative level, if you voted on the webpage you should
have received a confirmation of your votes via email. I don't know if
you get one if you vote manually: quite possibly not. On a practical
level, you can, I guess, view source on the page with the histograms,
which'll show the exact numbers of votes for each of 1-10 for each game.

-d

Blake

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Nov 17, 2003, 4:43:34 PM11/17/03
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I didn't vote this year because of the general uninspiring quality
of the games. The top 3 games I would have given no more than
8, and 90% of the rest I would give less than 4.

There was no game out there that made me itch to get my
vote of 10 in to show my appreciation (not even Bedlam,
probably my favorite of this year)...

If there were more inspiring games, if there were more
beta tested games, more spell-checked games, I would
be more inspired to vote.

I hope next year will be better.

I think, overall, there were more better games (or less bad ones)
as a proportion of the whole in '02 than this year, and more again
in '01 than '02.


Alan DeNiro wrote:

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Marnie Parker

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Nov 17, 2003, 5:07:57 PM11/17/03
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>Subject: Re: [IFComp] Decline in # of voters
>From: Blake bl...@cyan.com
>Date: 11/17/2003 1:43 PM Pacific Standard Time

>I didn't vote this year because of the general uninspiring quality
>of the games.

Personally, I find comments like this totally unhelpful and even illogical.

Who enters/what is entered each year is competely random, so I don't think
someone can generalize about years. And it sure doesn't make someone who
entered a year that some say was an "off" year feel very good. Even in
situations where people may have liked their entry, but consider the whole year
an off year.

I didn't vote, because, sorry, I didn't have time to play.

Doe And that is the sole reason.
doea...@aol.com
IF http://members.aol.com/doepage/intfict.htm
(An Iffy Theory | Glulx/Glk for Duncies | unglklib | Inform Primer)
IF Art Gallery http://members.aol.com/iffyart/
IF Review Conspiracy http://zork.plover.net/~textfire/conspiracy/

dreamfarmer

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Nov 17, 2003, 6:45:53 PM11/17/03
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aland...@aol.com (Alan DeNiro) wrote in message
> How much of a problem is this? A trend or a blip? Or is this even an
> accurate indicator of the number of IF players overall (who might not
> have voted but were perhaps lying in wait, seeing how the games panned
> out...just a speculation).


I think it's just as interesting, in a positive way, the number of
first-time IF authors who did very well in the Comp. By my count, 3.5
of the top five games were from first-time authors. This seems like
something to be celebrated.


--Chrysoula

Blake

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Nov 17, 2003, 9:45:29 PM11/17/03
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Yeah, well, it's extremely helpful in that it's the honest truth
of my reason. The attitude may not be helpful as far as the
competition itself goes, but the comment has got to be
helpful in terms of explaining the decline in voting: one less
voter this year because I couldn't be bothered identifying the
degree to which one piece of crud was slightly better than
another piece of crude.

If you try out 10 games in a row, and all ten are full of
spelling mistakes, unimplemented objects in the first
location, no more than one location, no location at all,
or has never been tested by anyone other than the
author, you may not be motivated to try any further
games (but I did).

Frankly, the games this year were so boring that I felt 'blah' - I
didn't care about them.

Let me put it to you this way, I didn't feel motivated to even PLAY
any of the games, much less scruitinise them for qualities to
distinguish them from one another, and that is the reason I
didn't vote (didn't even care who came first this year).

On a different note:
Of the better games, I found slouching was too tedious to get
into (and it had machinery to learn how to use which I personally hate),
scavenger was tightly written and put together but I personally
found it kind of empty and boring, and I rather liked the
descriptions and background world of baluthar except I wasn't
so keen on the actual puzzle solutions.

PTN

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Nov 18, 2003, 2:24:45 AM11/18/03
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"Alan DeNiro" <aland...@aol.com> wrote:

> How much of a problem is this? A trend or a blip? Or is this even an
> accurate indicator of the number of IF players overall (who might not
> have voted but were perhaps lying in wait, seeing how the games panned
> out...just a speculation).

This year, in order to get a bit more free time back in my life for other
things (ha), I decided I wanted to be a person who plays good games, not a
person who discovers them. There are enough good writers and reviewers on
this board that I think I can confidently put the process of selecting the
best games into someone elses hands. Looking forward to playing the top
games over the next few weeks. So I can at least verify your "lying in wait"
hypothesis, for one person, anyway.

-- Peter
http://www.illuminatedlantern.com/1893

Boluc Papuccuoglu

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Nov 18, 2003, 4:34:34 AM11/18/03
to

I think this may have been due to the poor average quality of the
entries in last two years. I think there was also a dread in the
community (at least me) that the IF renaissance was over and from now
on it was a downhill ride.

However, I was very impressed with the quality of the entries on which
an effort was obviously made. I think the trend is going up. This
gives me an idea. Why not set up a voting page that pits contest first
second and third place winners of each year against each other?

Personally, I think "Bedlam" would win over "All Roads" and "Earth and
Sky" 'hands down'. ;-) [If you figure out why I put quotes around
hands down, please don't give it away]

Adrien Beau

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Nov 18, 2003, 5:41:30 AM11/18/03
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On Lundi 17 Novembre 2003 19:19, Alan DeNiro wrote:
>
> How much of a problem is this? A trend or a blip?

Just to add a data point: I intended to play all the games and
vote on them, but played Final Fantasy V instead for not much
reason. Now that I have utterly finished it, I can go on playing
the top rated Comp games. :)

(Note: if the three first game I played had been good, I would
probably have kept on playing, and so, would have voted.)

--
spam....@free.fr
You have my name and my hostname: you can mail me.
(Put a period between my first and last names).

Gerhard Brandt

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Nov 18, 2003, 7:25:12 AM11/18/03
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oh right thanks for the hint with the page source --- now i could in
principle perform parsen window searching to extract the density in the
vote's phase space around my voting profile, and define a likelihood
estimator to compute the probability for my votes being in there :-)
(i sent them per email, because the registering scripts on the webpage
didn't reply)

gerhard

Billy Harris

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Nov 18, 2003, 7:58:08 AM11/18/03
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In article <254e3122.0311...@posting.google.com>, Alan
DeNiro <aland...@aol.com> wrote:

> Number of unique voters:
>
> 2001: 216
> 2002: 198
> 2003: 157
>
> How much of a problem is this? A trend or a blip? Or is this even an
> accurate indicator of the number of IF players overall (who might not

I can't speak for anyone else, but Apple decided that October 1st was
the perfect time to ship the G5 I ordered in July, so I was distracted
by the pile of now-playable commercial games I had accumulated. I ended
up playing 2 1/2 games, and thus was ineligible to vote.

David Thornley

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Nov 18, 2003, 10:27:12 AM11/18/03
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In article <ucpjrvgjl2pmhn59u...@4ax.com>,

Boluc Papuccuoglu <bolucPERIOD...@REMOVETHISaknet.com.tr> wrote:
>
>I think this may have been due to the poor average quality of the
>entries in last two years.

I don't remember going through and giving out so many 1s and 2s
before. (All right, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, other things came
up and I completely forgot to get my votes in, but I did rate a lot
of the games.) I don't know that the average quality has changed,
but it seems to me there's a lot more cruddy games than typical,
at least proportionally.

If somebody were to play three or four of those to begin with, and
that's entirely possible, I could understand not wanting to go on.

I think there was also a dread in the
>community (at least me) that the IF renaissance was over and from now
>on it was a downhill ride.
>

Not me.

>However, I was very impressed with the quality of the entries on which
>an effort was obviously made. I think the trend is going up. This
>gives me an idea. Why not set up a voting page that pits contest first
>second and third place winners of each year against each other?
>

Could be interesting.

>Personally, I think "Bedlam" would win over "All Roads" and "Earth and
>Sky" 'hands down'. ;-) [If you figure out why I put quotes around
>hands down, please don't give it away]

I don't know if I'd vote for Bedlam over All Roads, but I'd certainly
vote for it an Risorgiamento Represso (sp?) over EAS2. I haven't
played Gourmet yet, and that placed well.

It would be an interesting idea, but to be honest I'm not going to
set it up.


--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
da...@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-

Michael

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Nov 18, 2003, 11:50:50 AM11/18/03
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Blake <bl...@cyan.com> wrote in message news:<3FB987D7...@cyan.com>...

>
> Let me put it to you this way, I didn't feel motivated to even PLAY
> any of the games, much less scruitinise them for qualities to
> distinguish them from one another, and that is the reason I
> didn't vote (didn't even care who came first this year).
>

Ok, so either a.) you didn't play any of the games and you're just
talking smack, or b.) you went through, invested the time and effort
to play ~20 IF games in the course of a few weeks, and didn't want to
express your opinion on their collective low quality by voting.
Neither option makes much sense to me...

Michael

Cirk R. Bejnar

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Nov 18, 2003, 4:00:12 PM11/18/03
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Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> wrote in message news:<bpb4r4$mu$1...@reader2.panix.com>...

> How much Comp publicity was there this year? I think we've fallen out
> of really trying to spread word around about the Comp. (If I'm wrong,
> please post!) I got a note up on games.slashdot.org, but that doesn't
> get read as widely as the generic slashdot feed.
>
> --Z

I tried to get the word out in my normal Net and RL hangouts but I
doubt I caught anyone's intrest. I am a bit worried about the
declining trend though. The games are as good as ever, IMO, and I
think alot of people are just missing out.

On that note, I can't agree with the comments about lower quality I
handed out one '1', one '2', and two '3's to games that were clearly
sub-par and two 'NR's to games whose titlesloudly proclaimed they were
not worth the effort. The six '4's went either to minimal/buggy games
I enjoyed and a couple of larger ones I did not. No game was
unfinishably buggy, though a couple were without the wlakthrough and a
couple didn't provide a walkthrough when it was needed, at least by
me.

Cirk R. Bejnar

Jennifer Maddox

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Nov 18, 2003, 4:20:41 PM11/18/03
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Boluc Papuccuoglu <bolucPERIOD...@REMOVETHISaknet.com.tr> wrote in message news:<ucpjrvgjl2pmhn59u...@4ax.com>...

> Why not set up a voting page that pits contest first
> second and third place winners of each year against each other?

Actually, I had been thinking recently that the annual Comp might
benifit from having catagories, like a "silly" vs. "serious", or
"plot-drivin" vs. "puzzle-driven", "gimmick" vs. "in-depth and
expansive", but when I read this and other comments I started to
wonder...

What if the annual competition is broken up into segments where every
few months a batch of games are released for playing and judging? The
community would provide feedback on all those games (some of the best
testing you can ask for!) and the authors could fix bugs, add
important scenery objects, make the game winnable, etc. The top five
games from each segment would then be pooled into another competition
at the end of the year, and the community could peruse the best games
from throughout the year and vote on the year's best game. (Then,
perhaps at the end of the decade, we could pool together the ten best
games and judge between them, to see how they stack up against each
other -- wait, no, I've gotten too silly.)

Just a thought,
jennifer

Blake

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Nov 18, 2003, 4:43:30 PM11/18/03
to
Well, it was more like B. I went through every game (except about
2) that I had problems getting to run. Most of the low quality games
I had weeded out within 10-15 mins playing time of each, and in
the same time I had identified the good ones. But even the good
ones weren't good enough that I could get into them. I
kept saying "I'll come back to that one later," but every time I went
to re-open it I thought... "Nah, I'll play [something else] instead."

Sorry, I'm obviously not doing a good job of articulating my feelings,
but there you have it. That's why I didn't vote this year. Everything I
have said in the past few posts should give you the gist of what I'm
trying to say.

It's not so much that the games deserved low marks so
I won't vote, it's that the games were so bad that I didn't even feel
like scruitinizing them in order to generate marks to give them.

Maybe to be more accurate I should say "I didn't vote this year. But
I didn't bother JUDGING the games this year, therefore I
didn't vote."

Here's what Andrew Plotkin said above me:


"I just had other stuff I wanted to do more."

At the end of the day, it was the same reason for me.

His reason? He had more pressing "real life stuff?" Maybe (although
he says one of the things was other IF related)...

My reason? The low quality of the games immediately
put just about anything else in the "more pressing" category
for me.

Blake

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Nov 18, 2003, 4:53:50 PM11/18/03
to

Also from this thread people have said:

David Thornley


"I don't remember going through and giving out so many 1s and 2s
before. (All right, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, other things came
up and I completely forgot to get my votes in, but I did rate a lot
of the games.) I don't know that the average quality has changed,
but it seems to me there's a lot more cruddy games than typical,
at least proportionally.

If somebody were to play three or four of those to begin with, and
that's entirely possible, I could understand not wanting to go on."

Adrien Beau


"Just to add a data point: I intended to play all the games and
vote on them, but played Final Fantasy V instead for not much
reason. Now that I have utterly finished it, I can go on playing
the top rated Comp games. :)

(Note: if the three first game I played had been good, I would
probably have kept on playing, and so, would have voted.)"


Boluc Papuccuoglu


"I think this may have been due to the poor average quality of the
entries in last two years."

So it looks like however nonsensical the reason is, it is the human
nature factor. I am lazy and expedient like many other people, and
I'm honest about it. So please get off my back about it, or go
hound one of these other people for a while.


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Quintin Stone

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Nov 18, 2003, 5:08:41 PM11/18/03
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On Tue, 18 Nov 2003, Boluc Papuccuoglu wrote:

> I think this may have been due to the poor average quality of the
> entries in last two years. I think there was also a dread in the
> community (at least me) that the IF renaissance was over and from now on
> it was a downhill ride.

Out of curiosity... has anyone put together a "year average" score for
each comp by averaging the averages for each year and comparing them? I
might do this tonight if my swiss cheese brain can remember.

/====================================================================\
|| Quintin Stone O- > "You speak of necessary evil? One ||
|| Code Monkey < of those necessities is that if ||
|| Rebel Programmers Society > innocents must suffer, the guilty must ||
|| st...@rps.net < suffer more." -- Mackenzie Calhoun ||
|| http://www.rps.net/ > "Once Burned" by Peter David ||
\====================================================================/

Quintin Stone

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Nov 18, 2003, 5:10:33 PM11/18/03
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On 18 Nov 2003, David Thornley wrote:

> I don't know if I'd vote for Bedlam over All Roads, but I'd certainly
> vote for it an Risorgiamento Represso (sp?) over EAS2. I haven't played
> Gourmet yet, and that placed well.

I probably would place All Roads over Bedlam (but then, I also would have
put Moments Out of Time just a bit over All Roads).

Andrew Plotkin

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Nov 18, 2003, 5:50:01 PM11/18/03
to
Here, Quintin Stone <st...@rps.net> wrote:
> On Tue, 18 Nov 2003, Boluc Papuccuoglu wrote:
>
> > I think this may have been due to the poor average quality of the
> > entries in last two years. I think there was also a dread in the
> > community (at least me) that the IF renaissance was over and from now on
> > it was a downhill ride.
>
> Out of curiosity... has anyone put together a "year average" score for
> each comp by averaging the averages for each year and comparing them? I
> might do this tonight if my swiss cheese brain can remember.

That would not distinguish changes in the quality of the games from
changes in people's voting standards. Most voters try to make their
scores consistent across a given competition; fewer try to make them
consistent between competitions. (And I imagine that the ones who try,
don't always succeed. Trying to recall your subjective reactions of a
year ago is hard.)

dreamfarmer

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Nov 18, 2003, 6:02:18 PM11/18/03
to
Boluc Papuccuoglu <bolucPERIOD...@REMOVETHISaknet.com.tr>
wrote in
> However, I was very impressed with the quality of the entries on which
> an effort was obviously made. I think the trend is going up. This
> gives me an idea. Why not set up a voting page that pits contest first
> second and third place winners of each year against each other?
>
> Personally, I think "Bedlam" would win over "All Roads" and "Earth and
> Sky" 'hands down'. ;-) [If you figure out why I put quotes around
> hands down, please don't give it away]

Wanting to know how games compared across comps is why I set up my
nifty rating site (check it out at http://www.carouselchain.com/if).
For reference, currently:

Game # Votes Average Rating
Slouching Towards Bedlam 6 9.2
Moments Out Of Time 18 7.5
Kaged 17 7.3
Scavenger 4 7.2
Metamorphoses 24 7.2
Being Andrew Plotkin 22 7.2
Earth And Sky: Another Earth... 15 7.1
All Roads 26 6.8
Risorgimento Represso 2 6.5
Heroes 14 6.4
'Til Death Makes A Monk-Fish... 11 6.4
Photograph 16 6.6


Obviously, some games need more votes. Heck, all games need more
votes. Come help out.

Of course, this does compare every game with every other game,
including (*gasp*) non-comp games. Still, I think it provides a useful
way of estimating whether or not a game is worth your time.


--Chrysoula
http://www.carouselchain.com/if

Lucian P. Smith

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Nov 18, 2003, 6:05:46 PM11/18/03
to
Boluc Papuccuoglu <bolucPERIOD...@removethisaknet.com.tr> wrote in <ucpjrvgjl2pmhn59u...@4ax.com>:

: This


: gives me an idea. Why not set up a voting page that pits contest first
: second and third place winners of each year against each other?

I think the best place for this is http://www.carouselchain.com/if/

: Personally, I think "Bedlam" would win over "All Roads" and "Earth and


: Sky" 'hands down'. ;-) [If you figure out why I put quotes around
: hands down, please don't give it away]

Well, since 'Bedlam' is currently rated #1 in general, that's shaping up
to be true. Only 6 votes as of this writing, though, and the next highest
(Anchorhead) has 46. So we'll see...

-Lucian

John Miles

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Nov 18, 2003, 6:26:52 PM11/18/03
to
In article <a839f13.03111...@posting.google.com>,
exst...@msn.com says...

> I think it's just as interesting, in a positive way, the number of
> first-time IF authors who did very well in the Comp. By my count, 3.5
> of the top five games were from first-time authors. This seems like
> something to be celebrated.
>
>
> --Chrysoula

Totally. If there were no new blood coming in, then there would be
cause for concern. I think the games this year were more than
competitive with last year's.

My guess is that the reduced voter partipation was due to the Slashdot
announcement appearing only on http://games.slashdot.org rather than the
front page (as it did last year). A righteous Slashdotting is good for
at least 20,000 page hits in my experience, but anything that doesn't
make the main page might as well not be mentioned at all.

The only gripe I have about the competition is the sheer number (and
this year, the sheer *size*) of garbage entries. It's not clear what
people get out of entering games like, well, like some of the lower-
scoring ones in any given year.

I wish there were an easy way to break the comp into two rounds, with
the first intended to winnow the field down to, say, ten or fifteen
entries at most. This wouldn't save that much time (it doesn't take
long for the junk entries to reveal themselves as such), but it would
help keep prospective judges from walking away, discouraged, when they
bite into several bad apples in a row.

-- jm

------------------------------------------------------
http://www.qsl.net/ke5fx
Note: My E-mail address has been altered to avoid spam
------------------------------------------------------

Ewa Garcia-Folmer

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Nov 18, 2003, 9:08:12 PM11/18/03
to
Blake <bl...@cyan.com> wrote in message news:<3FB987D7...@cyan.com>...
> On a different note:
> Of the better games, I found slouching was too tedious to get
> into (and it had machinery to learn how to use which I personally hate),

That is understandable for somebody working at Cyan.

Andrew Plotkin

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Nov 18, 2003, 9:36:38 PM11/18/03
to

Sound effect: Zarf chokes to death laughing, as background music from
_Uru_ echoes from across the computer room.

Mike Roberts

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Nov 18, 2003, 10:09:25 PM11/18/03
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"Jennifer Maddox" <kyr...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> What if the annual competition is broken up into segments where
> every few months a batch of games are released for playing and
> judging?

I think one of the reasons for the annual Comp's success is that it's
annual. If it were any more frequent, it might lose its motivational power
for authors - if another iteration of the Comp were coming up in a couple of
months anyway, it'd be no big deal to miss the entry deadline.

It might also lose its special status as a big event for everyone else.
Judging and reviewing is a lot of work - enjoyable work, for the most part,
but it still takes considerable time and effort. Without the Big Event
status, I don't think most of us would be sufficiently motivated to set
aside other things in our lives to make time for the judging. True,
spreading the games out over four or five sub-comps would make each sub-comp
a lot smaller, so you'd think it'd be easier to find the time. I tend to
think it's the other way around, though; with the emotional impact of each
round diluted, many people might not be excited enough about it to bother
making the time even for a small slate of entries.

> The top five games from each segment would then be pooled into
> another competition at the end of the year, and the community
> could peruse the best games from throughout the year and vote
> on the year's best game.

That would change the dynamics pretty substantially - judges wouldn't be
seeing all of the games together over a short time period, so the
comparisons wouldn't be as direct as they are now. It would end up being a
lot like the Xyzzys. Not there's anything wrong with that model, but it
does seem like it would be redundant, as we already have the Xyzzys.

"John Miles" <jmi...@pop.removethistomailme.net> wrote:
> I wish there were an easy way to break the comp into two rounds,
> with the first intended to winnow the field down to, say, ten or
> fifteen entries at most.

That's been suggested before, and I certainly sympathize with the desire for
a crap filter. As a practical matter, though, there doesn't seem to be any
way of doing that without giving up one of the Comp's real charms, which is
its radically democratic design. If there were a jury filtering out the
crap, there would inevitably be angry authors screaming about elitism, and
some of that would undoubtedly be justified.

And to some extent, you can look at the official results as the filter, if
you're so inclined. Look at the number of posts in this thread from people
saying they're doing just that this year. It does mean you don't get to
take part fully in the peak discussion period, though, which is kind of sad.

--Mike
mjr underscore at hotmail dot com


Gene Wirchenko

unread,
Nov 19, 2003, 12:35:44 AM11/19/03
to
Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> wrote:

>Here, Ewa Garcia-Folmer <igna...@mac.com> wrote:
>> Blake <bl...@cyan.com> wrote in message news:<3FB987D7...@cyan.com>...
>> > On a different note:
>> > Of the better games, I found slouching was too tedious to get
>> > into (and it had machinery to learn how to use which I personally hate),
>>
>> That is understandable for somebody working at Cyan.
>
>Sound effect: Zarf chokes to death laughing, as background music from
>_Uru_ echoes from across the computer room.

>x joke
I see no joke here.

Neither do I, but there is a joke here. I just know it.

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko

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

David Brain

unread,
Nov 19, 2003, 11:22:17 AM11/19/03
to
On Wed, 19 Nov 2003 05:35:44 GMT, ge...@mail.ocis.net (Gene Wirchenko)
wrote:

>Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> wrote:
>
>>Here, Ewa Garcia-Folmer <igna...@mac.com> wrote:
>>> Blake <bl...@cyan.com> wrote in message news:<3FB987D7...@cyan.com>...
>>> > On a different note:
>>> > Of the better games, I found slouching was too tedious to get
>>> > into (and it had machinery to learn how to use which I personally hate),
>>>
>>> That is understandable for somebody working at Cyan.
>>
>>Sound effect: Zarf chokes to death laughing, as background music from
>>_Uru_ echoes from across the computer room.
>
> >x joke
> I see no joke here.
>
> Neither do I, but there is a joke here. I just know it.
>

Well I had pretty much the same reaction as Zarf.
Although my feelings about Uru are... mixed.

--
David Brain
London, UK

Will Grzanich

unread,
Nov 19, 2003, 4:30:53 PM11/19/03
to
ge...@mail.ocis.net (Gene Wirchenko) wrote in message news:<3fbaf098.4911260@shawnews>...

> Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> wrote:
>
> >Here, Ewa Garcia-Folmer <igna...@mac.com> wrote:
> >> Blake <bl...@cyan.com> wrote in message news:<3FB987D7...@cyan.com>...
> >> > On a different note:
> >> > Of the better games, I found slouching was too tedious to get
> >> > into (and it had machinery to learn how to use which I personally hate),
> >>
> >> That is understandable for somebody working at Cyan.
> >
> >Sound effect: Zarf chokes to death laughing, as background music from
> >_Uru_ echoes from across the computer room.
>
> >x joke
> I see no joke here.
>
> Neither do I, but there is a joke here. I just know it.

It's at http://www.cyan.com. They (evidently) publish the MYST series
of computer games. If the series can be at all judged from the first
game, they involve a ridiculous amount of random fiddling with
machines that seem to lack any adequately explored purpose.

In short: Zing!

-Will

Gene Wirchenko

unread,
Nov 20, 2003, 2:29:58 AM11/20/03
to
wgrz...@students.depaul.edu (Will Grzanich) wrote:

And masterful.

Adrien Beau

unread,
Nov 20, 2003, 2:53:51 AM11/20/03
to
On Mercredi 19 Novembre 2003 04:09, Mike Roberts wrote:
>
> And to some extent, you can look at the official results as the
> filter, if you're so inclined. Look at the number of posts in
> this thread from people saying they're doing just that this
> year. It does mean you don't get to take part fully in the peak
> discussion period, though, which is kind of sad.

How true.

Aaron A. Reed

unread,
Nov 20, 2003, 3:01:33 PM11/20/03
to
"Mike Roberts" <mj...@hotmail.com> wrote in message news:<F9Bub.4450$XL1....@newssvr13.news.prodigy.com>...

> "Jennifer Maddox" <kyr...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> > What if the annual competition is broken up into segments where
> > every few months a batch of games are released for playing and
> > judging?
>
> I think one of the reasons for the annual Comp's success is that it's
> annual. If it were any more frequent, it might lose its motivational power
> for authors - if another iteration of the Comp were coming up in a couple of
> months anyway, it'd be no big deal to miss the entry deadline.

On the other hand, if another iteration of the comp were coming up in
a couple of months, authors might be much more inclined to hold back
their buggy game to give it a few more months worth of polish. Holding
back a game that's "almost ready" for an entire year is tough to do.

> "John Miles" <jmi...@pop.removethistomailme.net> wrote:
> > I wish there were an easy way to break the comp into two rounds,
> > with the first intended to winnow the field down to, say, ten or
> > fifteen entries at most.
>
> That's been suggested before, and I certainly sympathize with the desire for
> a crap filter. As a practical matter, though, there doesn't seem to be any
> way of doing that without giving up one of the Comp's real charms, which is
> its radically democratic design. If there were a jury filtering out the
> crap, there would inevitably be angry authors screaming about elitism, and
> some of that would undoubtedly be justified.

While I agree that a "jury" selecting games would be a bad idea, why
not just have two rounds of voting? The first of all games entered,
and the second of the highest-ranking 10, or whatever.

I think the exlusive focus on the single comp is entirely to blame for
all the bad games entered, and the buggy nature of them all (including
my own entry). I lurk in this newsgroup and watch games released
outside the comp get one or two comments, and alternative comps
attract only a few entries. Also, there are so many prizes that this
year only the author of the very last placing game will not receive a
prize. Why *not* enter some piece of crap you've been kicking around
if you're going to get 30 reviews and free stuff out of it?

If a round of "primaries" narrowed the field down to a smaller number
of games -- say, 10 or so -- voters who so desired could wait until
the second round and be assured of reasonably good games. (Authors
might possibly be given several weeks or a month to further refine
their games, raising their quality even higher.) The motivation to
enter crap games is gone, because few people are going to bother
writing extensive reviews of games entered in the primary round, and
there's no free stuff to be had. Prizes could be consolidated into
larger packages (a $1,500 first place award?) which would attract more
authors and get the comp more press coverage and publicity.

Yes, it's another case of the newbie showing up and trying to redesign
the place. Feel free to roll your eyes and move on, but I thought I'd
share my reactions.

Joe Mason

unread,
Nov 20, 2003, 3:13:45 PM11/20/03
to
In article <20794061.03112...@posting.google.com>, Aaron A. Reed wrote:
>> I think one of the reasons for the annual Comp's success is that it's
>> annual. If it were any more frequent, it might lose its motivational power
>> for authors - if another iteration of the Comp were coming up in a couple of
>> months anyway, it'd be no big deal to miss the entry deadline.
>
> On the other hand, if another iteration of the comp were coming up in
> a couple of months, authors might be much more inclined to hold back
> their buggy game to give it a few more months worth of polish. Holding
> back a game that's "almost ready" for an entire year is tough to do.

And the annual "how to fix it" thread has officially begun!

Joe

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Nov 20, 2003, 4:30:48 PM11/20/03
to
Here, Aaron A. Reed <aaro...@go-utah.com> wrote:
>
> I think the exlusive focus on the single comp is entirely to blame for
> all the bad games entered, and the buggy nature of them all (including
> my own entry). I lurk in this newsgroup and watch games released
> outside the comp get one or two comments, and alternative comps
> attract only a few entries. Also, there are so many prizes that this
> year only the author of the very last placing game will not receive a
> prize. Why *not* enter some piece of crap you've been kicking around
> if you're going to get 30 reviews and free stuff out of it?

It is not entirely an accident that the bottom few prizes are *also*
describable as "some piece of crap which someone has had kicking
around."

I think it's nice to have a surfeit of prizes, but if you're not in
the top handful of scores, the prize is pure amusement value. Not even
the least motivated IFComp entry is worth doing for a paperback book
or a doggie chew toy.

Arcum Dagsson

unread,
Nov 21, 2003, 2:34:10 AM11/21/03
to
In article <181120030758082930%wha...@mail.airmail.net>,
Billy Harris <wha...@mail.airmail.net> wrote:


On a similar vein, my iBook, hich I had all my ratings on, wouldn't
start up, and was gone for repair for the critical last week and a half
of voting, and I got it back right when voting closed...

-- Arcum

"Yellow bulldozers
Frolic in the drying mud
Arthur's house is gone."

Mike Roberts

unread,
Nov 20, 2003, 7:04:11 PM11/20/03
to
"Aaron A. Reed" <aaro...@go-utah.com> wrote:
> I think the exlusive focus on the single comp is entirely to blame
> for all the bad games entered, and the buggy nature of them all
> (including my own entry). I lurk in this newsgroup and watch
> games released outside the comp get one or two comments,
> and alternative comps attract only a few entries.

I agree with you that there's a disproportionate focus (I wouldn't say
exclusive) on the annual Comp, but what if that's just because one annual
Comp is all the aggregate energy level around here can support?

People have been complaining ever since they invented the Comp that the Comp
sucks the life out of the group the rest of the year. I can't argue with
you about the poor level of attendance the alternative comps typically see,
or the sparse newsgroup attention that a non-comp game typically receives.
But my fear is that it would be like that *all year round* without a big
event like the Comp that everyone can get excited about. In other words, my
theory is that the Comp doesn't merely shift around the distribution of the
group's energy over the year, but rather that it actually sucks energy into
the group that wouldn't otherwise be here at all.

Now, it would be great if we could have two or four or six events like that
a year, but I don't think the group's big enough to support that. The Comp
got to be the big annual event it is through some ineffable natural process
of group dynamics, not because the IF Cabal decreed it or because the group
took a vote or because of some especially eloquent newsgroup persuasion*.
We have several alternative comps that have been going on for several years
and are pretty well established; if the group were big enough to support two
or more annual comps, I think the same group dynamics that made the annual
Comp big would have done the same to an alternative comp as well.

I mean, if there were enough authorial and critical energy to go around, a
number of good authors would get tired of getting lost in the noise of the
main Comp, so they'd enter one of the alternatives instead; and a few people
would notice all the great games coming out of that new comp; and lots of
other people would notice when those first few started talking about it; and
more people would be drawn to it next year; and in two or three years it
would be a big deal. I'll take it as a great sign of a growing interest in
IF if and when a second comp does take off.

--Mike
mjr underscore at hotmail dot com

*By which I don't mean to detract at all from the excellent work of Kevin
Wilson, Stephen Granade, or any of the other people who have been involved
over the years in organizing the annual Comp. Certainly, their devoted
efforts have been a large and necessary part the Comp's success. My point
is only that energetic organizing is only part of the story; you need the
critical mass of interested participants as well.

Mike Roberts

unread,
Nov 20, 2003, 7:19:47 PM11/20/03
to
"Aaron A. Reed" <aaro...@go-utah.com> wrote:
> While I agree that a "jury" selecting games would be a bad
> idea, why not just have two rounds of voting? The first of
> all games entered, and the second of the highest-ranking
> 10, or whatever.


I know that idea has been raised in the past, but I don't recall if anyone
was especially opposed to it or if it just failed to excite much interest.
The problem I see is that the judging period would have to be rather long
for this to work, which would be tough for both authors and judges - for
authors, because of the longer wait for the results; and for the preliminary
judges, at least, because of the need to keep opinions to oneself for
longer. The longer judging period might also detract from the overall
excitement of the event by spreading it out more.

Here's an idea that wouldn't require any official Comp reforms and might
accomplish what you ask. What if you and, say, five or six other people
were to form an Unofficial Crap Filter Committee? You would take it upon
yourselves to go through all of the games upon the official release, and as
quickly as possible render an unofficial judgment about which games were
crap. You would announce your intention to do this before the Comp judging
period started, so people who wanted to avail themselves of your blacklist
would know to hold off until it was ready. It would probably be more
considerate to the designated crap authors if you did this in private - make
your offer in public on the newsgroup before the Comp, but tell anyone who
wants to see the blacklist to ask for it by private email. When you had
your blacklist ready, you'd send it out to your subscribers, who would
consult it and then begin judging. Presumably the delay in starting the
judging would be offset to some extent by the reduction of the slate of
games, and presumably the delay would be small anyway, since it should be
pretty quick to identify the truly crappy games. If you and your colleagues
did a good job, you'd get a good reputation and people would look to you
again in future years.

Personally, I don't think I'd be interested in being a customer, since I
kind of like the unfiltered, uninfluenced judging experience. I also don't
have that hard a time filtering out the really egregious crap myself; if a
game is sufficiently irritating in the first ten minutes, I don't feel too
bad about giving it a score and moving on. Others might well find a UCFC
service valuable, though - if you didn't have a lot of time to spend, it
could be a real plus to be assured you weren't going to waste it on five
poster children for bringing back grammar lessons to the public schools.

Esa A E Peuha

unread,
Nov 21, 2003, 6:15:42 AM11/21/03
to
Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> writes:

> Here, Aaron A. Reed <aaro...@go-utah.com> wrote:

> > Why *not* enter some piece of crap you've been kicking around
> > if you're going to get 30 reviews and free stuff out of it?
>
> It is not entirely an accident that the bottom few prizes are *also*
> describable as "some piece of crap which someone has had kicking
> around."

That's certainly true in general, but...

> I think it's nice to have a surfeit of prizes, but if you're not in
> the top handful of scores, the prize is pure amusement value. Not even
> the least motivated IFComp entry is worth doing for a paperback book
> or a doggie chew toy.

...last year I entered Koan (35th out of 38 games) and got a valuable
(in the order of $100) folio edition of Planetfall for Apple IIe. I
think it was well worth the insufficient effort I put into the game. ;-)

--
Esa Peuha
student of mathematics at the University of Helsinki
http://www.helsinki.fi/~peuha/

Richard Bos

unread,
Nov 21, 2003, 8:28:13 AM11/21/03
to
"Mike Roberts" <mjrUND...@hotmail.com> wrote:

> Here's an idea that wouldn't require any official Comp reforms and might
> accomplish what you ask. What if you and, say, five or six other people
> were to form an Unofficial Crap Filter Committee? You would take it upon
> yourselves to go through all of the games upon the official release, and as
> quickly as possible render an unofficial judgment about which games were
> crap. You would announce your intention to do this before the Comp judging
> period started, so people who wanted to avail themselves of your blacklist
> would know to hold off until it was ready.

I'm afraid that might have the effect of helping the crap games - the
people who would join up and not vote for them would be the kind of
people who don't like games that are generally considered bad, and would
otherwise give them bad marks, while the people who like "controversial"
games wouldn't care about the committee's opinion, and continue to give
such games high marks.
Even if this effect isn't complete (and it won't be, because there will
always be people who insist on judging all games by themselves), this
plan will, in any case, have _some_ influence on the voting.

Richard

Quintin Stone

unread,
Nov 21, 2003, 10:15:22 AM11/21/03
to
On Thu, 20 Nov 2003, Mike Roberts wrote:

> Personally, I don't think I'd be interested in being a customer, since I
> kind of like the unfiltered, uninfluenced judging experience. I also
> don't have that hard a time filtering out the really egregious crap
> myself; if a game is sufficiently irritating in the first ten minutes, I
> don't feel too bad about giving it a score and moving on. Others might
> well find a UCFC service valuable, though - if you didn't have a lot of
> time to spend, it could be a real plus to be assured you weren't going
> to waste it on five poster children for bringing back grammar lessons to
> the public schools.

To me, the idea of a filter committee would seem to violate the spirit of
the "no public discussion" rule for judges. While what you suggest is
arguably a private transaction, information for getting the list is still
posted to a public forum. It also wouldn't really avoid the problem of
accusations of favoritism mentioned before.

Meh. I don't like the idea of a comp full of illiterate, buggy games any
more than the next guy. A filter really won't solve that, though. It'll
just insulate a few people from it (and as Richard Bos points out, this
may even help those games in terms of their overall score... even the last
place game got one 10 vote). Those who like to play, rate, and review
every game will still do so, and they'll all still publicly lament about
the glut of bad games. So really, would anything change?

I don't know, maybe it would. We might get more people voting overall and
some people wouldn't have to wait til after voting is over in order to
avoid poor games, so they'd be able to participate in post-comp
discussions.

It'd be nice if we could go right to authors. There doesn't seem to be a
shortage of "First Time Author Guides". I can't tell if they've helped
any. We still ended up with low-scoring games and a few authors who don't
seem to understand why and don't feel they got a fair shake.

Jennifer Maddox

unread,
Nov 21, 2003, 1:59:59 PM11/21/03
to
"Mike Roberts" <mjrUND...@hotmail.com> wrote in message:

> What if you and, say, five or six other people
> were to form an Unofficial Crap Filter Committee?

Yes! Good idea! The only problem is finding the right group of
people to decide what's crap and what's good. One man's meat is
another man's poison, so to speak. I loved Lardo and wouldn't
consider it crap and I think a lot of others just might; maybe that
just means I won't be on the UCFC :)

I've read a lot of other comments as well, about this person might
have judged more games if the first five they played weren't so
annoying. So maybe the Crap Filter could have another purpose as
well: the UFCF could play the comp games before anyone else had
access to them, and if there's a game that desperately needs
bug-fixing, a critical object added, or even if they want to tell the
author, "Look, it's a good idea, but you need to add this, run a
spell-check, polish it off and perhaps release it next year." then
that might just be the thing the author needs to hear. (then again,
those are the duties of a beta-tester, hmm....) I'm just thinking that
the number of voters might improve if the general quality of the games
in the comp improve as well--and having a first-wave, "quality
assurance" level of judging might improve the quality of the average
comp entry.

> Others might well find a UCFC
> service valuable, though - if you didn't have a lot of time to spend, it
> could be a real plus to be assured you weren't going to waste it on five
> poster children for bringing back grammar lessons to the public schools.

Amen.

Perhaps there could be a requirement that all games are beta-tested by
at least two people before being submitted to the comp--that alone
might ensure a rise in the quality of the entreants. Or, a couple
months before next year's deadline a group of people could offer their
beta-testing services to the community, reminding the potential
authors that grammer, spelling, and bugs are the annoyances that will
make players quit and give the game a low score.

Regards,
jennifer

Jess Knoch

unread,
Nov 21, 2003, 2:14:44 PM11/21/03
to
Jennifer Maddox wrote:
> "Mike Roberts" <mjrUND...@hotmail.com> wrote in message:
>> What if you and, say, five or six other people
>> were to form an Unofficial Crap Filter Committee?
>
> Yes! Good idea!

Well, it's not a *bad* idea :-).

> So maybe the Crap Filter could have another purpose as
> well: the UFCF could play the comp games before anyone else had
> access to them, and if there's a game that desperately needs

Ick -- I don't like the idea that they get the games ahead of time,
or that they can give any input to the author. If anything, the way
to go would be a "service to the community" type thing, and as Mike
mentioned, only for those folks who opted in to see the blacklist. I
think it would have to work within the existing rules for judging,
including the time period.

> bug-fixing, a critical object added, or even if they want to tell
> the author, "Look, it's a good idea, but you need to add this,
> run a spell-check, polish it off and perhaps release it next
> year." then
> that might just be the thing the author needs to hear. (then
> again, those are the duties of a beta-tester, hmm....)

Bingo.

>> Others might well find a UCFC
>> service valuable, though - if you didn't have a lot of time to
>> spend, it could be a real plus to be assured you weren't going
>> to waste it on five poster children for bringing back grammar
>> lessons to the public schools.
>

> Perhaps there could be a requirement that all games are
> beta-tested by at least two people

Whoa!

My vote is ix-nay on the equirements-ray. In other words, I think
the current requirements for games are perfectly sufficient. I
*like* the relative openness of the competition. To be perfectly
honest, I don't think I could say that Tookie's Song had two real
beta-testers last year. There was one, sure, but the other was my
(non-IF-interested) husband who was just humoring me, and told me I
needed the verb "bowl." But there wasn't time for more testers. I
was busy enough doing things I thought should be tested and things
Jen said. I know, I should have started earlier, but I didn't, and
it was still okay.

Um, sorry to stray off-topic. I just wanted to jump on the idea of
"add requirements to games" before anyone else ran with it.

> before being submitted to the comp--that alone
> might ensure a rise in the quality of the entreants. Or, a couple
> months before next year's deadline a group of people could offer
> their beta-testing services to the community, reminding the
> potential
> authors that grammer, spelling, and bugs are the annoyances that
> will make players quit and give the game a low score.

This happened, I think, although maybe not very formally. I can't
for a second believe that authors don't *know* that grammar,
spelling, and bugs will annoy judges. As Quentin says, there's
plenty of advice on the matter, but if people can't be bothered to
find testers on their own (and we do already have the beta-testing
site), there's very little chance that they will listen when people
post.

To sum up, if anything, the idea of a "crap filter" (can we find a
more polite name? :-) should focus on the games as finished
products, and a service to the potential players, not a beta-testing
service for authors.

--
Jess K.


Aaron A. Reed

unread,
Nov 21, 2003, 2:39:38 PM11/21/03
to
"Mike Roberts" <mjrUND...@hotmail.com> wrote in message news:<vZcvb.23$587...@news.oracle.com>...

I do agree with everyone else that part of the fun of the comp is the
loose requirements. Regardless of anyone's opinion of Sweet Dreams, I
think it's fantastic that it could be entered in the comp legally. The
more innovation, the better. However, experimentation is only rarely
successful, and often attracts very disparate opinions. (From "This is
genius and redefines the medium!" to "This is not IF. 1/10").

I also don't think a group of people selecting finalists, even a
voluntary one, is a good idea, for various reasons already mentioned.
However as I think about this, it seems like the same results would
come about even if the primary round was open to the whole community
to judge. Unusual games would get averaged out of the finals, and
since less people would probably participate in the primaries (and
have less time to spend on all the games), the initial results would
likely be less conclusive.

Here's another idea, though. What if there was a special award given
*before* the competition? I'm thinking about how the Academy Awards
each year have certain pre-announced special awards, like the Irving
G. Thalberg award. The name of this special game or games could be
announced along with the regular comp, and it could be featured on the
main comp page. ("Download and play this year's recipient of the Will
Crowther Award for Excellence in Interactive Fiction, 'A Maze Too
Far.') Perhaps any game released in the past year since the end of the
previous comp would be eligible.

This would do a couple of things. It would give newcomers to the comp
a quality game to play right off the bat. It would also encourage
games to be released and discussions to be had before the competition
began, as authors vied for this prestigious title.

An alternative involving less work would be to prominantly feature the
winner of last year's comp in announcements and on the main comp page.
This could be officially tied in by making that game the "host" of the
current comp, or some other such language. Another idea is to feature
XYZZY award winners.

p_conrad

unread,
Nov 21, 2003, 2:44:43 PM11/21/03
to
On Fri, 21 Nov 2003 19:14:44 GMT, "Jess Knoch"
<jessic...@mindspring.com> wrote:

At the risk of sounding stupid:

Why not just implement a finals round? You could simply limit the
first judging time to, say 1/2 hour and then open up the final judging
to 2 or even more hours. You would get more judges for the finals
because people with less free time would feel more inclined to
participate. I don't have a lot of free time. Every year I download
the competition with the best of intentions but rarely get to play
more than a few before the contest is over. After the winners are
announced, I always try to play a few off the top.

Granted this would mean that contest entrants would have to grab the
player right off the bat, but isn't that the way of entertainment in
general? With 500 T.V. channels, a shelf full of computer games and 2
shelves full of unread books on hand, how long is anyone expected to
sit through something that isn't entertaining?

On the plus side though, it opens up the possibility of longer works
actually getting a longer judging period, as long as they can make it
into the finals. Or, it could provide an easier way for people who
don't have tons of free time participate.


PBC

m.m.m.m.m.m.m....What was my e-mail address?

Mike Roberts

unread,
Nov 21, 2003, 3:01:45 PM11/21/03
to
"Richard Bos" <r...@hoekstra-uitgeverij.nl> wrote:
[about my informal 'crap filter committee' suggestion]

> I'm afraid that might have the effect of helping the crap games -
> the people who would join up and not vote for them would be
> the kind of people who don't like games that are generally
> considered bad, and would otherwise give them bad marks,
> while the people who like "controversial" games wouldn't
> care about the committee's opinion, and continue to give
> such games high marks.

That's an interesting point. But now that you mention it, it's the
distinction between "crap" and "controversial" that makes me suspicious of
the whole two-stage voting idea in the first place. With a limited
qualifying vote (by appointed jury, or by self-selected subset of judges, or
whatever), you run the risk that the majority of the first-round voters miss
the hidden genius of a difficult work, or fail to see the redeeming
qualities of a buggy game that might, for other players, more than offset
its bugginess.

Hmm. This actually seems to argue in favor of my unofficial committee
idea - at least, it argues that it would be better than an official
two-round voting system. As I mentioned in my earlier post, the unofficial
committee would have to earn its reputation. If it selected the true,
unredeemed crap, then the voters who *didn't* use the blacklist ought to
agree, and those games ought to end up with the lowest scores - I mean, if
those games really are crap, then everyone should agree they're crap, at
least by my definition that it's true crap if everyone agrees it is. If, on
the other hand, the committee selects works that are merely controversial,
because the committee members have an elitist bias or play favorites with
some authors or whatever, then some of its selections should do well in the
voting. So if the committee's selections all got 1's every year, people
would start to see the committee as a good crap filter; if the selections
instead got scattered scores, most judges would probably opt to ignore the
list for fear of missing out on a good game.

Mike Roberts

unread,
Nov 21, 2003, 3:08:49 PM11/21/03
to
"Quintin Stone" <st...@rps.net> wrote:
[about my suggestion that people who want a first round of voting
to filter out the really crappy games could just do so in private]

> To me, the idea of a filter committee would seem to violate the
> spirit of the "no public discussion" rule for judges.

As Stephen pointed out a couple of times during this year's judging period,
there's no such thing as a rule prohibiting public discussion by judges -
there's only a request to that effect. But anyway, I suggested that any
crap-filtering service anyone wanted to set up would best be conducted by
private email, as a matter of etiquette, so that those of us who don't want
to see the list wouldn't.

> While what you suggest is arguably a private transaction,
> information for getting the list is still posted to a public forum.

The point of asking judges not to discuss entries is to give everyone a
chance to form their own opinions, independently of any group-think. I
really don't think knowledge of the existence of a blacklist would have any
influence of that sort. Knowing a list exists gives you no information
about what games are on the list, so it can't influence your opinion about
any given game one way or the other.

> It also wouldn't really avoid the problem of accusations of
> favoritism mentioned before.

Well, it would avoid that problem in the sense that the blacklist would have
no official imprimatur of the Comp organizers or of the community at large.
It would just be some random people offering their personal opinions on
which games were worth a look. You could complain that *those people* were
playing favorites or being elitist or whatever, but you couldn't claim that
the Comp itself was therefore biased.

As I went to pains to point out when I suggested it, *I* don't want a
blacklist. I'm really not trying to persuade anyone to set one up. I was
only suggesting this as a concrete action that the original poster could
take, short of getting the official Comp rules changed, if he really felt
strongly enough that buggy/crappy games are spoiling the Comp.

> It'd be nice if we could go right to authors. There doesn't seem
> to be a shortage of "First Time Author Guides". I can't tell if
> they've helped any. We still ended up with low-scoring games
> and a few authors who don't seem to understand why and don't
> feel they got a fair shake.

Yeah, it does seem like there are a few entries every year where the authors
simply should have known better than to enter the games. I mean, once in a
while they *do* know better and submit them anyway, as we occasionally see
in the ABOUT messages.

Maybe that should be the rule. If you write in your ABOUT message "i no i
shuld'nt of submited this game ,but...", then you shouldn't submit the game.

But I think it's harder than it seems to make that call about one's own
game, especially for a newbie. The annual post-mortem discussion decrying
the really unworthy games takes for granted that there's some objective
measure of goodness that authors ought be able to apply in self-assessment,
but I'm sure that even if there is such an objective measure, there's a big
gray area where reasonable people could disagree. Maybe we have a few games
every year that virtually everyone agrees are complete crap, but I think we
have many more that are in that questionable zone, where there's some merit
but maybe not enough to overcome the bugs, bad spelling, poor design, or
what have you. It's tough as an author to make that kind of critical
assessment of your own work.

Mike Roberts

unread,
Nov 21, 2003, 3:39:51 PM11/21/03
to
"Jess Knoch" <jessic...@mindspring.com> wrote:
> > So maybe the Crap Filter could have another purpose as
> > well: the UFCF could play the comp games before anyone
> > else had access to them, and if there's a game that
> > desperately needs
>
> Ick -- I don't like the idea that they get the games ahead of
> time, or that they can give any input to the author. If anything,
> the way to go would be a "service to the community" type thing,

Yeah, I think it would be important that this committee had no special
"official" status - they'd be acting on their own as a grass-roots sort of
effort. That way they'd be able to earn their reputation (one way or the
other), and no one would be able to see them as having been granted any
special privilege. Getting special early access to the games would be
inconsistent with this goal.

Even so, there'd be nothing to stop them from offering their services as
beta testers *before* the judging period, the same as anyone else, right?
They'd have to play by the same rules as everyone else, so they wouldn't get
to vote on entries they beta tested. But if the committee earned a good
reputation as a reliable indicator, then authors - especially inexperienced
ones who are unsure about expectations for quality - might well crave their
beta-testing input.

(I wonder if there's an ethical question here: if the committee beta-tests a
game, and is therefore ineligible to vote on it, can the committee give
advice on that game, in the form of a play/don't play recommendation, to
judges who *are* eligible to vote on it? I suppose the advice is to play or
not, rather than a specific score, so maybe it's okay. It seems a little
fishy, though.)

Brian Slesinsky

unread,
Nov 22, 2003, 1:47:22 PM11/22/03
to
I didn't vote this year so I'm one to talk, but I'll make a couple of
suggestions anyway:

I think the easiest and fairest way to weed out crap games would be to
require nominations: someone other than the author has to nominate a
game for it to be included. The organizers could ask that the person
making a nomination should have finished the game. So that would
effectively require a beta test (however informal), and it's really
not much of a hoop for anyone who has a beta tester.

Also, one way to spread things out over the year might be to combine
the competition with the "book club" being discussed on another
thread, if it turns out to be successful. Suppose there were a new
game discussed every week or two and then voting once a year?

Gene Wirchenko

unread,
Nov 22, 2003, 4:29:41 PM11/22/03
to
"Mike Roberts" <mjrUND...@hotmail.com> wrote:

>"Aaron A. Reed" <aaro...@go-utah.com> wrote:
>> I think the exlusive focus on the single comp is entirely to blame
>> for all the bad games entered, and the buggy nature of them all
>> (including my own entry). I lurk in this newsgroup and watch
>> games released outside the comp get one or two comments,
>> and alternative comps attract only a few entries.
>
>I agree with you that there's a disproportionate focus (I wouldn't say
>exclusive) on the annual Comp, but what if that's just because one annual
>Comp is all the aggregate energy level around here can support?
>
>People have been complaining ever since they invented the Comp that the Comp
>sucks the life out of the group the rest of the year. I can't argue with
>you about the poor level of attendance the alternative comps typically see,
>or the sparse newsgroup attention that a non-comp game typically receives.
>But my fear is that it would be like that *all year round* without a big
>event like the Comp that everyone can get excited about. In other words, my
>theory is that the Comp doesn't merely shift around the distribution of the
>group's energy over the year, but rather that it actually sucks energy into
>the group that wouldn't otherwise be here at all.

A black hole using its powers for good? <BEG>

>Now, it would be great if we could have two or four or six events like that
>a year, but I don't think the group's big enough to support that. The Comp
>got to be the big annual event it is through some ineffable natural process
>of group dynamics, not because the IF Cabal decreed it or because the group
>took a vote or because of some especially eloquent newsgroup persuasion*.
>We have several alternative comps that have been going on for several years
>and are pretty well established; if the group were big enough to support two
>or more annual comps, I think the same group dynamics that made the annual
>Comp big would have done the same to an alternative comp as well.
>
>I mean, if there were enough authorial and critical energy to go around, a
>number of good authors would get tired of getting lost in the noise of the
>main Comp, so they'd enter one of the alternatives instead; and a few people
>would notice all the great games coming out of that new comp; and lots of
>other people would notice when those first few started talking about it; and
>more people would be drawn to it next year; and in two or three years it
>would be a big deal. I'll take it as a great sign of a growing interest in
>IF if and when a second comp does take off.

I agree with this in general, but what about all of the other
smaller comps? Do they not count for anything?

>--Mike
>mjr underscore at hotmail dot com
>
>*By which I don't mean to detract at all from the excellent work of Kevin
>Wilson, Stephen Granade, or any of the other people who have been involved
>over the years in organizing the annual Comp. Certainly, their devoted
>efforts have been a large and necessary part the Comp's success. My point
>is only that energetic organizing is only part of the story; you need the
>critical mass of interested participants as well.

You forgot to deny the existence of the Cabal!

Gene Wirchenko

unread,
Nov 22, 2003, 4:29:41 PM11/22/03
to
"Mike Roberts" <mjrUND...@hotmail.com> wrote:

[snipped proposal]

>Personally, I don't think I'd be interested in being a customer, since I
>kind of like the unfiltered, uninfluenced judging experience. I also don't

I will trust your judgement on that. <G>

>have that hard a time filtering out the really egregious crap myself; if a
>game is sufficiently irritating in the first ten minutes, I don't feel too
>bad about giving it a score and moving on. Others might well find a UCFC
>service valuable, though - if you didn't have a lot of time to spend, it
>could be a real plus to be assured you weren't going to waste it on five
>poster children for bringing back grammar lessons to the public schools.

I like this idea. I started one year with the intent to judge,
but I ran into so much garbage that it sucked the life out of me. I
have not bothered since.

I really REALLY do not think that I should be in the frame of
mind of "Another game. Is this one going to be any good, or will it
be more misspellings, unimplemented objects, and the rest?"

I would much rather be able to sit down to a game knowing that it
has been checked out on a basic level. I would rather be in the mood
of "Another game. I wonder what this one is about." That I can not
do so, I consider myself cheated by the garbage games.

It has little to nothing to do with whether I like the genre,
handling, etc. If I do not like a game in this sense, I can pass on
it. Someone else may enjoy it. That is a fairly neutral judgement
for me. Finding that a game is garbage is not a neutral experience.
I want to receive payment for my wasted time.

Even better, I would like it if any blacklisted games were not
eligible to be in the main Comp. If the lousy games are not eligible,
then they do not get the attention craved, and they do not get any
prizes. Give the kudos to those who worked effectively for them.

Maybe if there were some screening, we would not see some of the
complaints that we do about things that are just a different way of
doing it. After wading through the garbage, anyone's mood can be less
than positive.

And I still love "Uncle Zebulon's Will".

Mike Roberts

unread,
Nov 22, 2003, 5:44:20 PM11/22/03
to
"Gene Wirchenko" <ge...@mail.ocis.net> wrote:
> mjr:

> >I'll take it as a great sign of a growing interest in IF if and
> >when a second comp does take off.
>
> I agree with this in general, but what about all of the other
> smaller comps? Do they not count for anything?

I certainly didn't mean to suggest they don't - a number of important and
noteworthy games have come out of the smaller comps, and the community
clearly benefits from having them. I only meant that none of the
smaller/alternative comps have been able to generate the kind of interest
level that the main Comp does every year, in terms of number of entries or
discussion in the newsgroup. My speculation was that this might not be due
to any failings of the alternative comps, but might just reflect the limits
of the community's overall budget of time and energy for things IF.

John Menichelli

unread,
Nov 22, 2003, 8:11:38 PM11/22/03
to
Personally, I agree with those who say the annual Comp draws IF
enthusiasts who might not come here otherwise. It's our annual family
gathering/reunion/make new friends event, so to speak (not to slight
the other comps, of course).

My main concern with a "pre-judging" committee would be that it may
cause those who aren't selected to feel slighted, and turn them off to
IF. It may also present the image that the Comp is an "elitist" event
run by a "cabal" intent on only allowing those games that are "worthy"
into the event.

I like the rules as they stand, especially since there are only three.
The first rule is (and I quote):

1. Judges must base their judgement of each game on at most the first
two hours of play. If a judge is still playing a game at the end of a
cumulative two hours of playing time and wishes to continue playing
it, the judge must rate the game and not change that rating later
before continuing play. Authors may write a game of any length they
desire, but should keep this rule in mind when determining the length
of their entry.

This rule does state that you must judge a game on *at most* two hours
of play. If you don't like it after 10 minutes, rate it and move on.
Does that keep crappy games from being entered? No, but it also means
judges don't have to waste their time on them, either.

Just my 2 cents.

r...@nospam.world-nexus.com

unread,
Nov 22, 2003, 8:53:19 PM11/22/03
to
John Menichelli wrote:
> Personally, I agree with those who say the annual Comp draws IF
> enthusiasts who might not come here otherwise. It's our annual family

I, for one, was drawn to the comp this year. I decided to write my own
entry, then went back and played previous comp winners and some non-comp
games. Now that the comp is done I'm sticking around, still reading the
newsgroups.

The comp offered me a lot. It gave me an audience. I knew that if I
made a game, at least some people would be playing it. If it was a good
game, more people would play it. The prizes were also good. It's not
so much that they were huge prizes, but there's just something about
being able to say, "I won a prize in a contest."

So as far as that goes, I can say that the comp drew at least one person
into the community this year.

-Roger

Gene Wirchenko

unread,
Nov 22, 2003, 11:25:00 PM11/22/03
to
ge...@mail.ocis.net (Gene Wirchenko) wrote:

A little bit more on this:

[snip]

> I really REALLY do not think that I should be in the frame of
>mind of "Another game. Is this one going to be any good, or will it
>be more misspellings, unimplemented objects, and the rest?"

I like this quote by Andrew Plotkin:

"I'm sure the authors will write me and say yes, there were
playtesters. Sorry. It's a rhetorical question. What I meant to ask
was, please, can I meet the playtesters and *set them on fire*?"

[snip]

Gene Wirchenko

unread,
Nov 22, 2003, 11:26:09 PM11/22/03
to
"Mike Roberts" <mj...@hotmail.com> wrote:

I see it that way, too, but I wanted to check my speculation.
Thank you.

Gene Wirchenko

unread,
Nov 22, 2003, 11:38:17 PM11/22/03
to
John Menichelli <meni...@cox.net> wrote:

>Personally, I agree with those who say the annual Comp draws IF
>enthusiasts who might not come here otherwise. It's our annual family
>gathering/reunion/make new friends event, so to speak (not to slight
>the other comps, of course).
>
>My main concern with a "pre-judging" committee would be that it may
>cause those who aren't selected to feel slighted, and turn them off to
>IF. It may also present the image that the Comp is an "elitist" event
>run by a "cabal" intent on only allowing those games that are "worthy"
>into the event.

Oh, the crime of having minimum standards! I feel so ashamed.

Actually, I think the scenario sounds great.

>I like the rules as they stand, especially since there are only three.
>The first rule is (and I quote):
>
>1. Judges must base their judgement of each game on at most the first
>two hours of play. If a judge is still playing a game at the end of a
>cumulative two hours of playing time and wishes to continue playing
>it, the judge must rate the game and not change that rating later
>before continuing play. Authors may write a game of any length they
>desire, but should keep this rule in mind when determining the length
>of their entry.
>
>This rule does state that you must judge a game on *at most* two hours
>of play. If you don't like it after 10 minutes, rate it and move on.
>Does that keep crappy games from being entered? No, but it also means
>judges don't have to waste their time on them, either.

Yes, I would, and the finding-out leaves me sour.

I think I will judge next year. Given what I have seen in the
past, I will be, ah, awarding a lot of 1s.

Graham Holden

unread,
Nov 25, 2003, 7:40:34 AM11/25/03