Can new games be entered into IntroComp and IF Comp?

I’m a new, first-time IF author and I was wondering about the rules around some of the competitions. I’m part way through writing my first game and am considering entering it into IntroComp to gauge interest, get feedback and continue down what seems like a long road towards completion. However, from my quick perusal of the rules around some of the competitions, it seems that entering into IntroComp might preclude a later entry into IF Comp in the fall.

I realize that these are two different competitions with different purposes and different organizers. Still, it seems to me that if there’s a shared goal to help encourage new authors to create higher quality works, then it should be possible to enter the introductory “work in progress” opening scenes of my game in IntroComp and then, if I’m successful completing the game, enter the finished work into IF Comp.

Can anyone shed any light on this?

Thanks in advance

From the IntroComp FAQ:

Thanks for pointing out the answer from the FAQ.

I guess my question is more fundamental: why can’t a game entered into IntroComp be later entered into IF Comp? After all, it’s not a complete game at the IntroComp stage anyways.


A game entered into IntroComp to “gauge interest” would gain an unfair advantage over games that have their initial release in IFcomp. To counter this you’d then have to allow all other games to release previews as well, which would change the nature of IFcomp and not to a better direction IMHO. You’d also have to change the nicely unambiguous no previous release rule to something that’d be very hard to define without leaving room for interpretation. (How long intros are allowed? 20% of the full game? 50%? How is it measured and by whom? Would re-releases be allowed?)

IntroComp does have the one year completion deadline that comes very close to the IFcomp deadline. I’m not sure what the actual benefit for the author would be other than to be able to win two prizes for the same game, which would probably be perceived as unfair.

(Disclaimer: This is just my personal opinion and I do not represent IFcomp or IntroComp.)

I’m not a comp guy, myself (I don’t enter them and don’t generally play the games from them until months or years later), but I think mainly the idea is that all the IFComp games are equally ‘virgin’ in the eyes of the community; they all appear at once without any preconceived notions or existing buzz or affection surrounding them.

(Reading up, Juhana already mentioned this reason among others, but I’ve already typed the post, so feh) [emote]:)[/emote]

I believe Spring Thing is a valid avenue for IntroComp graduates.

Greg Boettcher said he was going to update the rules to allow this, but he never did. I expect he would if someone emailed him and reminded him, though.

Thanks everyone for the responses. I understand the perspective that everything should be fair and that it’s certainly much easier to have a simple rule like “no prior release” with as broad a definition as possible.

But that said, I still question the purpose of this “no prior release” rule for IFComp. And I wonder what actual advantage is there for someone who enters a game into IntroComp and is it really unfair?

Or perhaps there’s another way I can convey my concern. If there is a goal of the comps to encourage authors to create higher quality games and that getting more testing and more feedback to the developer improves the quality, then the idea of precluding IntroComp games from IF Comp seems to be at cross-purposes. In my view the IF Comp rules make it much harder to get beta testers for games since you have to know everyone personally who does the testing and you can’t make it available publicly on the web or get the feedback from a partially released game that might help an author do a much better job.

Or if you really want to make sure no authors have “unfair advantage” why not restrict the ability to use Inform Extensions? Obviously that hasn’t been done because it would inhibit the quality of the games.

What I’ve learned from beta testing software (in general) over the years is that it takes a lot of beta testers before you get meaningful feedback and generally, more testers means better feedback and better quality.

So if I may be so humble as to ask the Intro Comp and IFComp organizers to consider whether now that we enter into 2011 where IF seems to be taking off with new devices, new funding models like Kickstarter, and potentially more users on iPhones, iPads, Androids, Kindles and the InterWeb should the Comp rules now consider that getting more people to test more stuff and get more feedback might actually be more beneficial?

This next analogy is completely a stretch, but I’m an occasional marathon runner and perhaps other runners will appreciate it. To me the lack of compatibility between IntroComp and IFcomp is like the Boston Marathon having a rule that says “By the way, to enter into run Boston Marathon you can’t run any half marathons or 10k races. Ever. Because we want it to be a fair competition to everyone.”

I know a game comp is not a sporting event. But the parallel here is that very few runners of a marathon could successfully complete such an event without months or even years of serious training. Part of that training is to run miles and part of the training is to actually run races. And those who undertake more training, and especially races, do actually have an “unfair advantage” in terms of being better prepared physically and emotionally to do their best on race day compared to those who do not.

Is there a risk that someone who enters into IntroComp or gets more beta testers will somehow have more “PR Buzz” for their game? Maybe. But I think games are judged on their merits, not on their PR. There’s probably more buzz around famous IF authors than anything. And honestly, doesn’t the IF community need more PR rather than less? Consider this irony: IF Comp games can be played on the interweb during the voting period, but they can’t be tested that way.

Again, I mean no disrespect to the organizers of the comp. Just wondering if folks might re-examine the rules and consider whether they should be updated.

Does anyone else think it’s time to reconsider these rules? Or am I way off base?


To some extent, my reason for liking the IFComp rules the way they are is that they’re not the ideal way to release a game. Therefore, there are good reasons to release IF outside the IFComp. I want to maintain that, not reduce it.

If the IFComp became so out-of-touch that nobody wanted to enter it, then I’d reconsider my reasoning. But we’re clearly not in that situation.

Actually it’s OK to make a public announcement that you need testers for a game that you’re going to enter into the IFComp. That’s how I wound up as a tester for one IFComp game this year, for an author I didn’t know. As I understand it, the ban on authors publicly discussing the games applies only during the competition, not before it, so you can even say some more things about the game if you like; the problem is only with publicly releasing the game.

All that said I like the JayIsGames model where each game has a comment section and the author can release rolling updates; it seemed as though it helped improve a lot of the games, many of which were by first-timers (and even the winning entry, which wasn’t by first-timers, had a bug caught this way). I don’t know that I think the IFcomp should work this way, though, and I realize it’s kind of tangential to your concern since it requires you to start with a complete game.

Well, I don’t know if the “no IntroComp entries in IFComp” rule (ruling?) helps much with that – isn’t the number of IntroComp entries that have ever been finished surprisingly small? On the other hand, allowing IntroComp entries in the Spring Thing but not the IFComp seems like a nice medium, since Spring Thing does need the entries, and it makes sense to have part of a big game released in the IntroComp and then the whole shebang in Spring Thing.

To my understanding this is not IFcomp’s explicit goal. On the other hand Spring Thing has always stated that producing better quality games has been its goal, you might have better luck convincing its organizers (especially if they have already planned on updating the rules).

I don’t see how this is comparable. Using extensions may or may not be an advantage, but how is it unfair? Anyone can use them if they wish to.

That’s what’s already happening, but during and after the comp, not before. Authors get a lot of feedback during the competition and many authors release revised versions of their games after the competition.

No, that’s a very good analogy. You are certainly allowed to run previous maratons and races (write games and practice) to enter. There is no rule saying that you can’t enter the competition if you have previous experience or training. You’re just not allowed to start 10 km ahead of everyone else because you already ran that distance the previous day.

Thanks. I appreciate the dialogue. We obviously disagree on some of this, but I’ll just ping the organizers directly and see if its something they are open to considering.


This metaphor has passed its load limit… the point here is that a marathon is a physical trial, but the IFComp is a popularity contest.

(Increasing the quality of games, that is.) Yeah, I agree with this. At least, my view of what the IFComp is good for is not making games better, but measuring how good games are. Quality is not a measurable value, but we can approximate it by this popularity contest – if people encounter games fresh, with no preconceived opinions. That’s valuable information and I think we would be poorer if it weren’t available.

Measuring community popularity – after people have discussed a work, seen how it is refined, and come to whatever level of consensus emerges – is also valuable information. The XYZZY awards are good for that.

As every award show has taught us, and I don’t think IFcomp is any different, measuring popularity is not actually a very good approximation of measuring quality. I don’t agree with the results this year at all – I mean they were good games, but were they the best games? I would pretty much have to take the top 7 or 8 and turn them upside down. This is not to dis the comp – I wasn’t peeved about it – it’s just the way voted awards go.

So, purpose-wise, I’m going to go with neither/nor. The point of a competition like this seems not to directly go for quality (seminars and lessons would be way more effective at that – a comp is more sink-or-swim) nor to accurately determine the Few the True (and it would be obnoxious for any comp to claim it had) – but just to promote the form and to get more participation. That describes the sum of it.

So the main function of the comp is simply to promote quantity. Maybe that sounds crass and so people seek to avoid saying it directly, but it cuts to the point and has the advantage of avoiding questionable conclusions about the value of an open vote in determining artistic merit. It’s just about quantity, that’s the kind of beast it is. More quality games will hopefully fall out as a side effect. We can’t always be sure the best games wouldn’t have been released anyway, but we can be pretty sure that there are a few that wouldn’t have. Good enough for me!

Besides, it’s fun. 8)

Maybe I should have said, “quality as typical IF players will judge it.” Not as how I, or any other single person, would judge it.

Works for me.

Anyway, I have no problem with the restriction against one game being entered in two competitions. Fairness aside, if someone really wants to participate in both contests, there’s a simple solution available — write two games. Quantity.


This has the heady stench of wisdom about it [emote]:)[/emote]

It seems to me that the convenient thing about IFComp is that entries are due at the end of September, giving you a reasonable three months to finish your game, whereas you’d have to wait most of a year to enter it in Spring Thing, by which time your intro would have to be very memorable indeed to still be in people’s minds.

(Not criticizing the decision not to allow entries to both; the reasoning is sound; I’m just saying.)