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?