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IFComp 2005

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Dave Allen
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IFComp 2005

Post by Dave Allen »

The entries for the 11th interactive fiction contest are now available for download. I counted 36, so it would be a maximum investment of 72 hours to vote on them all.
It would be cool if some OOers offered their opinions after initial play.
Has anyone been involved in previous years?

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Hipolito
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Post by Hipolito »

I can review some if not all the games, and we can discuss them as we play them. It's cool to support this kind of thing!

I've never judged before, but I've played a few of the past winners: Slouching Towards Bedlam, Photopia, and A Change in the Weather. The former two are quite good.

Of course, nothing beats OO IF.
Gracias por estar aquí.
Avatar is from: Persona 5 (edited a little)

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Dave Allen
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Post by Dave Allen »

Hipolito wrote: Of course, nothing beats OO IF.
"orgey porgey,..." hehe
Yours final posts were quite clever.
Ever thought of creating your own IF tale?

I've put in an hour now with Escape which uses the Adrift engine. I'm finding it is pretty nondescript and crawls along.
I'm wondering how, in just two hours, an accurate assessment and vote can be made?

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Defiant
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Post by Defiant »

Dave Allen wrote: I'm wondering how, in just two hours, an accurate assessment and vote can be made?
IIRC, the games are supposed to be designed such that they can be finished (or at least graded) after about two hours of gameplay. These aren't infocom-length games here.

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Hipolito
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Post by Hipolito »

Dave Allen wrote:
Hipolito wrote: Of course, nothing beats OO IF.
"orgey porgey,..." hehe
Yours final posts were quite clever.
Ever thought of creating your own IF tale?
Thanks! (I think I got "orgey porgy" from Brave New World.) I've had a few IF ideas, but haven't tried turning them into games. Maybe someday. I wonder how long it takes to learn one of the parsers and write up something simple.

Judging this competition takes some work, as you have to find and install various interpreters to run all the games. It would be nice if there were a rule requiring all the entries to use one specific interpreter, but I guess different interpreters have different capabilities. As a service, here are quick download links to interpreters that have worked for me in Windows XP: My opinions on the entries I've played so far:

Mix Tape: Touchy-cheesy emotional story. Overwritten, ruthlessly linear, buggy (going in a certain area totally crashed the interpreter, so I'll never know what's there). Rating on the 1-10 scale: 2.
Son of a... : As frustrating as the title suggests. Mildly funny, good puzzles though I got stumped from not typing in solutions as the author anticipated. Rating: 5

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Dave Allen
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Post by Dave Allen »

I gave Escape a 2. How many times have a played an adventure game aboard a ship? Very derivative and the prose was spartan.

No censorship rules for authors. I checked.
My second game, Mortality started with a bang:
It really wouldn’t be appropriate for myself and Stephanie to walk hand in hand from her husband’s funeral so she walks ahead and I walk closely behind. The curves of her buttocks show through her long black dress and despite the surroundings and the occasion, I find myself growing aroused.
:shock:

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Hipolito
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Post by Hipolito »

Ah, I'm interested in how that game turns out.

This judging stuff is addictive, like playing one great big game, though I've yet to see something that stands out.

Psyche's Lament: Strange, neat mythological setting, though the puzzles are cumbersome and I had to use the walkthrough a lot. Electrical engineers might like it. In Windows Frotz, you should set the font to something nonproportional like Courier New, otherwise the final puzzle is screwed up. Rating: 6.
Sword of Malice: Simple swords-and-sorcery tale. People who want to be real-life barbarians may find this a safe alternative. Rating: 6.
Snatches: Interesting way to tell a story. There are suspenseful moments between the repetitive, tiresome ones. Rating: 5

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Dave Allen
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Post by Dave Allen »

I played Mortality all the way through, because it was well-written. I'll give this one a ten for story, but need to subtract five for the absence of any real puzzles.

One comment on the Adrift Interpreter; its cool how you can right-click to choose a verb from a list, and then left-click on any word in the narrative to choose the object.

Now playing the gruesome zombie thriller Plague- Redux

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Hipolito
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Post by Hipolito »

If a zombie thriller doesn't garner more OO interest, nothing will.

History Repeating: Finally, something good! Witty writing and the back-to-school feel had me smiling pretty much the whole time. The authors account for nearly everything you might want to do, minimizing generic error messages. Rating: 8.

Space Horror I: Browser-based Choose-Your-Own-Adventure thriller with personal flair and a little multimedia. I'd give it an 8 had I realized, in the first 2 hours, how much internal consistency and replayability there was. Rating: 7

Vespers: A monastery receives a strange guest in the midst of the Black Plague. If you can stay awake during a BBC mystery, try it. Rating: 6

On Optimism: Like that 19-page letter that Rachel made Ross read, only now poor guy has to type in "N, W, E, S ..." Rating: 3.

Tough Beans: "Let the river run...." Working woman faces uphill struggles in career and love life. Challenging puzzles, rewards for spinal fortitude. Rating: 7

Internal Vigilance: You're a thoughtcrime investigator in a dystopian future. Soviet-quality parser makes it as fun as the real thing. Rating: 3.

Dreary Lands: Where jolly little gamers leap and sing and never worry about bugs and misspellings! Rating: 1.

Off the Trolley: Aren't text adventures the aging trolleys of gaming? Aren't I an old fool for playing them? This one's okay, but it lacks closure. Rating: 5

Hello Sword: Half-translated from Italian to English, this fantasy game is so badly parsed that it's impossible without the walkthrough. Mamma mia, ché dolore. Rating: 1.

Gilded: Your omnipotence is limited only by your attention span. And the parser. Rating: 3.

A New Life: At last, a text adventure with an exit compass! It's a pretty good game, too, like a kinder, gentler Zork. Rating: 7.

Vendetta: Passive storytelling until the second half, which puts you on a timer that doesn't allow much footling about with the misparsed puzzles. Rating: 5.

Distress: Challenging, competently written survival story. Some good twists, though I think it's a bit too derivative of derivative sci-fi. Rating: 6

Cheiron: A text-based med student sim. I think med students would prefer to play Operation. Rating: 2.

Unforgotten: Weird HUNH?!?-worthy story, fussy puzzles. As Gus Tarballs would say, "Forgotten!" Rating: 4.

The Colour Pink: Too bad the screen never turns pink in this disjointed story with a sci-fi beginning and bunnies-and-dolphins fairytale ending. Rating: 5.

Chancellor: Another game that whips the player between fantasy and modern realms. Pick a setting already, people! Rating: 6.

Mortality: Well-written, tense story, but as Dave mentioned, there's little player involvement. Rating: 6.

Beyond: Find out why you were never born. Simple and direct writing, with vivid sepia-toned art. Rating: 7.

Escape to New York: Remember, kids, no one will suspect you're a thief as long as you keep your stolen loot in a suitcase that you carry at all times. Rating: 3.

Phantom: Caverns of the Killer: Wouldn't you rather play Thy Dungeonman II? Rating: 2.

Neon Nirvana: Awful police procedural. Funnier than the Bad Boys movies, though. Rating: 3.

The Plague - Redux: Four ladies' night out in London is completely ruined by zombies. Nicely done, but the zombies play fairer than some of the puzzles. Rating: 7.

Waldo's Pie: An ex-clown is called from retirement for one last prank. Like Infocom's Ballyhoo, this game fails to capture the magic of the circus. Rating: 5.

Xen: The Contest: A mild-mannered college freshman discovers that he has a special gift. I'm not fooled; I know a Scientology game when I see one. Takes much longer than 2 hours to get interesting. Rating: 6.

Sabotage on the Century Cauldron: Space adventure with Space Quest-style humor. Unfortunately, the game is quite restrictive on how much you can carry, making it easily unwinnable. Rating: 6.

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Hipolito
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Post by Hipolito »

Whew, all done! I'm proud of myself for having judged all 31 games in the competition. (Officially, there are 36 entries, but some of them are clearly not meant to be taken seriously and don't merit consideration.)

I think OO'ers would enjoy some of the games. If you want sci-fi, try Distress or Xen: The Contest. For horror/suspense, go with Beyond, The Plague - Redux, Space Horror I, or Vespers. If you just want to laugh, play History Repeating, Sabotage on the Century Cauldron, or Tough Beans (though some of the other games are humorous, too). But if you try just one game, make it the creative, amusing, and easy-to-play Space Horror I. (Its point-and-click nature makes me wonder whether it should be counted alongside parser-based games as interactive ficiton, but the competition organizer let it in, so whatever.)

What can be said about IFComp 2005? Something between "An eclectic collection of amateur efforts diverse in style, approach, and quality," and "Never have so many sucky games been played by so many in so few days." I doubt people are going to look fondly on this year of this competition. While there are some very talented and dedicated writers, there are too many irresponsible and immature ones. Even the cream of this year's crop isn't outstanding: there is nothing that will keep people talking years later, as Photopia and Slouching Towards Bedlam do.

I intend to participate in next year's IFComp not as a judge, but as a contestant! I have some ideas for an interactive story, and can hopefully make a game good enough to edge out some of the garbage. I've never made a game before, so perhaps this will be a hard lesson in how difficult the process is. When I come up with a playable model, I may ask fellow Overlords to beta test it.

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Hipolito
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Post by Hipolito »

VESPERS WON ! ! !

Oh wait, I didn't like that game very much. I only gave it a 6.

I was thinking about it last night, realizing it has a lot of qualities gamers like: a mysterious protagonist, unpredictable characters, a dark and bizarre story whose ending depends on the player's moral decisions, and puzzles that make sense within the story. Plus, it throws dozens of quasi-Biblical quotations at you: impressive to some, annoying to me. I found the writing dry and boring, and some of the puzzles had me struggling for the right way to type in the solution. But it's not surprising that the game got high marks. My heart sank to see it come first, not because it didn't deserve to but because I missed my chance to prove my brilliance by predicting its victory here on the forum.

Beyond and A New Life tied for second place, which is good. Distress got #4; I probably underrated it with a 6. Tough Beans got #5, a pleasant surprise for a comedy told from a woman's point of view. Space Horror I, the game I enjoyed the most, dragged in at #25; maybe a lot of judges didn't find its Choose-Your-Own-Adventure format appropriate for the contest, or didn't like its young-adult writing style. It's interesting that the zombie drama Plague - Redux got third place for Miss Congeniality (chosen by the competing authors), but only 22nd place in the contest.

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