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IFComp 2009

Posted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 9:26 am
by Hipolito
It's the 5th Annual Octopus Overlords Judging of the 15th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition! Just like last year and years previous, I'll be voting on the games and sharing my thoughts along the way. I invite you to do the same. Won't you join me? Take my hand.

This year, there are just under two dozen games, so I'm going to try to play them all except for one or two. (Hint: stay away from "Windows" games! That seems to be a pretty good rule of thumb in general.)

The games are here. Let the games begin!

Re: IFComp 2009

Posted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 5:56 pm
by Kyosho
I was confused as to what you meant by Windows games. But now I see that they're games designed to run in what appears to be a DOS window. Weird. There only seems to be one Windows game in the competition, and it says right off that the English version is "only partially translated" due to time constraints. So, unless you speak German, you may as well skip it anyways.

Re: IFComp 2009

Posted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 10:05 pm
by Hipolito
My comment was too harsh as there were a few good entries in the Windows category in past years. I really enjoyed Space Horror I in IFComp 2005. The Initial State from 2006 and Jealousy Duel X from 2007 weren't bad, either. That's about it, though.

My ratings so far:

Spelunker's Quest: Just your typical Zork clone. Explore mysterious caves, collect valuable treasure, meet interesting monsters, and shoot them. Rating: 4.

The Duel That Spanned the Ages Episode 1: The Age of Machines: I guess the author really hates fruit, because eating any in this game sends you on a gore-soaked cyber death adventure. The ending gives me hope that Guybrush Threepwood will appear in Episode 2, but that probably won't happen. Rating: 6.

Earl Grey: Purports to give you godlike powers (you can add or take away letters from words in the descriptions), but how godlike does having to use a walkthrough feel? Rating: 3.

GATOR-ON, Friend to Wetlands!: I could change a crow to a cow in the previous game, but the crow here has stolen my key and now I'm stuck without a walkthrough. Rating: 3.

Come on, guys, join the fun. You're missing out.

Re: IFComp 2009

Posted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 10:35 am
by Jeff V
Sorry, Windows games are the only ones I've played for about 15 years now.

Re: IFComp 2009

Posted: Wed Oct 07, 2009 11:20 pm
by Hipolito
Jeff V wrote:Sorry, Windows games are the only ones I've played for about 15 years now.
But that means you'll never play my game! (If I ever make one.)

Gleaming the Verb: How do you make Portal even more fun? Turn it into a series of word puzzles. Rating: 2.

Interface: A kid gets turned into a robot ... and wants to be human again?! That's not normal. Rating: 5.

The Hangover: How did Interface wake up next to this game?! Rating: 1.

Yon Astounding Castle! of some sort: The entire game is written in ye olde english. Imagine it being read aloud in a Scottish accent to double the good, cheap laughs. Rating: 7.

Resonance: Washed-up private eye solves riddles to unconver the world's most clich├ęd conspiracy. The story could have been a bit more interesting had it not tipped its hand so early. Rating: 4.

The Ascot: If some weirdo walks up to you and offers you an ascot, just say no and move on. I mean in this game, not in real life. Rating: 3.

The Believable Adventures of an Invisible Man: Interesting look at how an invisible person would have a harder time hiding than a normal person. The puzzles and environment are messed up, though. Rating: 5.

zork, buried chaos: Want some reinterpretation of an Infocom classic? Course you don't! Rating: 2.

Condemned: The author has a good horror story in mind, but should ask Santa for a copy of Strunk & White this Christmas. Rating: 7.

Snowquest: Last year's second place winner will probably win something again. Good, challenging puzzles, tight writing. Rating: 7.

Grounded in Space: If your kid misbehaves, don't send him off to an asteroid mining colony as punishment! Make him play this game instead. Rating: 2.

Byzantine Perspective: You're a cat burglar trying to steal a chalice from a museum, but the museum is apparently in the twilight zone. I don't get it. Rating: 5.

The Grand Quest: You're on a math and riddle-filled quest to find a goblet. You can get goblets much more easily in the Atari 2600 game Dragonfire, and they're not even the best treasures in that game. Rating: 3.

Broken Legs: You've screwed up your singing audition, so you have to screw up all the other girls' auditions. A bit too wordy and way too hard, but I like the cattiness! Rating: 6.

Rover's Day Out: You're in a VR simulation of domestic and doggy life, but it's really about space travel, artificial intelligence, and a pink interdimensional pillow. An interesting headache. Rating: 6.

Beta Tester: More VR BS. Rating: 4.

The Duel in the Snow: Simple story about a pistol duel in Russia. I don't think it takes place "in Soviet Russia..." Sorry. Rating: 5.

Eruption: You wake up stranded on an island, and someone has actually left you a note saying that the volcano is going to blow. Not as cool as a Jimmy Buffet song. Rating: 5.

Star Hunter: Long 300-point game in which you walk around looking for treasures. No one will ever finish it. Rating: 3.

Re: IFComp 2009

Posted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 7:13 pm
by Hipolito
Done judging. Overall, this was an off year for IFComp. Relatively few games, not many good ones, and no outstanding ones.

The game I enjoyed the most was Yon Astounding Castle! of some sort. It's fun to explore, not too hard, and quite funny for the easily amused. Oatmeal will never taste the same again.

I'd also rated Condemned and Snowquest highly. But as I played them beyond the two-hour judging limit, they disappointed me. I think of them as 6s now instead of 7s.

A funny (to me) thing: After I'd first judged the competition in 2005, I decided that I would compete in IFComp and my first game would be about cheating one's way to victory on the show American Idol. I never got around to doing that, and now Broken Legs has beaten me with a very similar premise. It does a pretty good job, too.

Stick around for my post-competition commentary tomorrow after results are announced!

Re: IFComp 2009

Posted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 9:46 pm
by Fitzy
I always mean to judge, but I never seem to make it. This year I blame Dragon Age.

Re: IFComp 2009

Posted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:35 pm
by Hipolito
Winners of IFComp 2009:

First place: Rover's Day Out
Authors: Jack Welch and Ben Collins-Sussman
Prize: Coleman lantern keychain fob (wut?)

Second place: Broken Legs
Author: Sarah Morayati
Prize: $500

Third place: Snowquest
Author: Eric Eve
Prize: $350

All reasonable results. My favorite, Yon Astounding Castle! of some sort, came in 11th place out of 24. I guess fake olde english prose doesn't give everyone the giggles.

Well, I hope next year is better. I'm kind of tired of judging, so if I do participate next year, I think it will have to be as author. Or at least I can offer to be a beta tester amd feel that I'm playing a small part in improving things.

You know what? I was going to get a little Space Rangers 2 action tonight, but instead, I'm going to try to write an IF game. No BS this time! Just a tiny test game so I can see how it's done. (Hey, Space Rangers 2 has some IF, so it's kind of the same thing!) I've gotta make some progress toward my dream of winning (heck, merely competing in) IFComp. Lantern keychain fob, here I come!

Re: IFComp 2009

Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 1:22 am
by ChaoZ
I tried writing an IF game once, just a small one, but I got overzealous and expanded the scope. Never did get it finished.