Announce: the 2015 Spring Thing Festival!

Better late than never, I’m happy to announce the 2015 Spring Thing!

This year, I’m trying something a little different with the Thing. From the new site’s home page:

I realize these are some pretty big changes, but the goal is to help grow Spring Thing into a vibrant, friendly, and welcoming place for people making all kinds of text games. Check out the new site and any feedback is welcome. [emote]:)[/emote]


Can you clarify what exactly are the “looser restrictions” for Back Garden games?

As far as I can see, there’s just one loosened restriction for Back Garden games, right? Main Festival games need to be Finished, whereas Back Garden games may be Unfinished. Both MF and BG games must be New and Free.

(Which is to say, both Back Garden games and Main Festival games allow for commercial releases outside of the Thing, but since the Main Festival games have to be Finished, the Free Main Festival submission could potentially hurt sales of any commercial release, whereas a Free Unfinished Back Garden submission probably wouldn’t hurt sales of a finished commercial release.)

I think you’ve got it. Back Garden games should still be “polished,” i.e. not unfinished in the sense of buggy and half-implemented, but since they aren’t up for ribbons or prizes, it matters less that they have the sort of structural equivalency the games in the Main Festival do.

I think the Back Garden may also be slightly less restrictive about what counts as “interactive fiction,” if that issue ever arises. We can safely include things there without risking ruffling as many feathers.

Some other scenarios under which I could see someone entering a Back Garden game:

– You have a polished demo for an upcoming game that will be sold commercially
– You’re an established author who doesn’t want to be seen as competing with main festival games
– You want to show your work without the pressure of competing with the other games
– You have a nice excerpt from a work in progress and are interested in getting some reactions to it.

Is there a specific rules page?

Not in one place right now, which would probably be a good idea… the “Participate” page has the bulk of the rules, but there a few things other places (like the dates on the About page).

I like this new direction Aaron, nice work.

What, a copy of Aaron’s book isn’t one of the prizes? [emote]:D[/emote]

I ran out of copies of that one long ago. ;p


Your reasoning seems sound to me. I’ll be fascinated to see how this works out.

Why are there no numerical rankings of games anymore? Part of the fun for me is seeing how well the games do in relation to each other.

A couple of reasons.

  • There’s already several other IF events with numerical rankings (IF Comp is the most prominent.)
  • Getting a low score, or the fear of getting a low score, can be a negative experience. (I’ve talked to a lot of people in the last few years who’ve told me they don’t participate in IF comps for this reason.) I also honestly don’t see much value in distinguishing between, for example, 9th and 10th place out of 13.
  • IF events are small enough that a few votes here and there can radically alter this positioning, anyway, so I’m not sure it’s ever been particularly accurate. Got your grandma to vote for you? Boom, you’ve moved from 7th to 3rd place. Who cares?
  • I’d prefer to create an environment where authors can feel like part of a community, which competing for rankings can work against. I’d like entrants to feel like, for example, artists in a gallery. Everyone in the gallery is an exhibiting artist: the gallery’s not in the business of telling you which paintings are better than yours and which are worse. (Unless the curator is a real jerk.)

Does this have anything to do with the alleged vote rigging issues last year?

@ Arron
I was hoping to see two categories for the MF: Parser-based, and Choice-based, with a ribbon for each category.

What if there was a parser game that was multiple choice?

That’s a good one, Mr. Good. Made me smile.

As stated elsewhere, we all know what a parser-based game is. However, I think your question is trying to bring up the point that we can create a game that has a parser for reader/player input, but is a actually a choice-based game. That is a valid point, but I am talking about the intent of the term, which I think is clear despite all the discussion that it seems to be generating.

Speaking for me personally, I’m less interested in putting things in categories than in celebrating the things different kinds of text games have in common.

Having two ribbons also seems to preclude the possibility that there are other kinds of text games (what’s Blood & Laurels? what’s Fallen London?) and isn’t flexible if there were all of one kind of game, or none of one kind, in a given year.

I’m open to offering more / different ribbons in the future, or for people to award their own unofficial ribbons, but I’d prefer a direction that any entrants could potentially be part of (say, a ribbon for Writing).

Okay, I gotta admit, that makes sense.

I disagree. Games could share a category and be divided at the same time. Like, we could have a best in show ribbon open to all entrants, and under that have a best parser and best choice game. I think categorizing would open more games to receiving honors.

@ Arron and David,

First: The reason I started thinking about two categories is that, in the previous Spring Thing, where I had entered a parser-based game, it appeared like the choice-based games attracted a LOT more plays and judges than the parser-based games. Thus it certainty looked like the IF audience for the contest was divided along those lines. I can understand that division; the choice-based games are much more approachable and easier to get into for IF newbies. Also, there are those old-hands who do not have a lot of time to play a lengthy parser game, but still want to participate in judging the contest. Consequently, I was thinking that having a separate category for parser based games would eliminate comparing apples to oranges by an audience that desired apples three-to-one over oranges.

Second: David has made a good case for satisfying both my desire for a separate category for parser-based games, and for Arron’s desire to have an IF Festival that has a wide variety of IF works that have enough in common to be called IF. As for those works where it is unclear as to which category they belong, a judgment call has to be made, preferably by the author, but Arron could do it if there is total uncertainty. Frankly, I don’t think that it will be much of an issue, even for those works created with a development system where there is both a command-line parser and a click-to-chose interface. After all, the author knows his or her intentions for the game, and is aware how it is internally structured for responding to reader/player input.

Third: As for those occasions where the contest attracts only a few games and one category has none, well, Arron can simply award the single category ribbon and maybe a best-in-show ribbon, along with whatever other ribbons are appropriate for writing, puzzle, setting, or whatever. (I just went to a classic car show, and that’s how they did it, so I know that this approach is fairly common.)

Finally, I want to say that Arron is doing all the work to host this contest and update it to reflect the emerging IF diversity that is prevalent these days. Though I am making this suggestion, I want to say that I fully support his efforts, and I respect his judgment, no matter how he decides to do things.

Approximately how many turns would need to be completed to finish a medium-sized game?