Competition vs. post-Competition releases (IFComp)

I’ve noticed that the IFComp policy of archiving the original versions of the competition games has the unfortunate side effect of obscuring post-competition releases. It seems that many people download the comp games straight from the site, or from the competition folders on the archive, and never notice the existence of post-comp versions.

I first noticed this in 2010, when I released a post-comp version of Death off the Cuff a couple of days after the competition ended. Yet, several months later, both ClubFloyd and the SPAG reviewer played the competition release, apparently unaware of the improved version.

This problem is exacerbated in regards to people outside the IF community since the competition page is the most heavily linked interactive fiction page, and competition versions often show up first in google searches, no matter how many updates you release.

If you google “PataNoir” the top hit in my case is the online play option at, which runs Release 3. Most of the other hits lead to reviews and discussions also linking this release. This means that someone googling the game is almost certainly going to play the old version, which is annoying, as I have updated the game several times since then, and would prefer that everyone play the latest release.

The idea of storing the original comp entries doesn’t even make much sense now that the comp allow in-comp updates. The only thing that is actually archived in the end is the final in-comp update, which can differ significantly from the original entry. The PataNoir that everyone reviewed back then no longer exists, so why should release 3 in particular be frozen forever, while all other releases are overwritten by new updates?

Given all this, I would like to propose the following changes to the IFComp archival rules:

  1. The archive location selected for a comp entry, whether this be in a competition folder or in /games/#format, is the final one. All subsequent releases will overwrite this file, regardless of whether they are made during or after the comp.
  2. For historical purposes, a copy of the original entry, with no updates, is put in a separate folder, which can be named “History” or something. This folder is then placed in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of The Leopard”. This way, dedicated IF historians will still have access to the original entry, while ensuring that no one plays it by accident.

The main point of all this is to ensure that any link made to a comp game during the comp will always point to the latest release in the future. This is easily achieved by making the file linked by the comp page the same one the author is allowed to update afterwards. Original entries can be archived separately, as long as they are not linked from the site.

Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?

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Thanks for bringing this up. It is a problem worth looking at.

Also true. On the other hand, my instincts these days say to store every version. (Long-term jscott exposure does that to you.)

What we have now is a somewhat inconsistent Archive policy. We keep the latest release of each game at a stable URL, except for comp games. Other services ( and IFDB) then rely on that URL and assume that updates will show up at it.

The different handling comp games doesn’t hurt IFDB much (because it’s community-editable and the game pages get updated – PataNoir’s has been, for example). But winds up with this mess, because it goes fallow as soon as voting is over.

So there are a lot of assumptions here. In theory we could revisit any or all of them.

  • We could do what you suggest, which would make Archive policy more consistent but involve a lot of one-time juggling.
  • We could leave Archive policy unchanged, and instead update ifcomp pages to point to post-comp releases. (This would require the ifcomp maintainer to do more work off-season.)
  • The Archive could start keeping all releases of everything, with some schema for stable URLs.
  • We could clone all comp entries on the Archive at the end of judging, to permanent locations. The ifcomp site would immediately relink to those locations. Then updates would proceed as normal, and ifcomp would not have to be updated again. (This would generate many duplicate archive files, since most comp entries don’t get post-comp releases.)
  • The ifcomp site could link to IFDB pages instead of directly to games. (Less obviously accessible to newcomers.)

Since I’m not the guy who juggles files on either site, I’m not going to take a stand on what we should do.

Another note: I have heard rumors that will get a serious overhaul before next comp. Don’t mean to put extra expectations on anybody; I just want to say that changes to that site are not unreasonable.

These seem like the most desirable from an author’s perspective. When my game was ClubFloyded, it was the comp version with in-comp updates, which was handy. So I know that that part works ok, and I’m grateful for that.

The first option seems super-handy just because I’d love to have copies of all releases for posterity, especially if they have source code. Seeing source code changes is fun. But I don’t know how many people want to play version 2 when a likely superior version 4 is available. I suppose we could just have change logs and such.

I don’t see the duplicate archive files as being a big problem, since space is cheap, but I don’t know how much you all have. If space is a problem, then could we provide virtual links until a game is updated? e.g. we might have


comp2013/post-releases/unmodified/[link to mygame.gblorb]

And, once mygame.gblorb was updated, wipe the link file?

I also think that ClubFloyd’s twitter account may be a big help to make sure a person can supply them with the right version. That fixes Floyding–and it’s a great tool for people who want to check up on a game they are reviewing/critiquing–and I think it’s awesome to have this sort of communication. But it would be great if you all had a way to just push a button and take care of things.

I’m not sure how practical my questions are, but I’ll be glad to answer any further questions you all might have as maintainers. For the most part, IFComp authors are grateful it’s all there, but we’re not sure what we can ask for that’s reasonable or practical, to make it even better.

To answer just one point: yes, links (symlinks) are easy on the Archive, and disk space is cheap anyhow.

This is an informative thread! As an IFComp 2020 author with a post-competition release of my game on Itch, I was wondering how I get the post-competition release in the official competition archive.