Does your game need to be in a contest to get attention?

What kind of project are you envisioning here? Because I’m having a really hard time envisioning an IF work that wouldn’t be possible to enter anywhere, given the existence of Spring Thing and especially the Spring Thing Back Garden.


XYZZY Awards aren’t technically a competition. It’s akin to the Oscars for IF and authors aren’t technically submitting for it - any published game eligible that year is valid for recognition. There’s cred to be had for being nominated or winning, but no actual prizes.

Regarding XYZZY scheduling

With no shade intended, I think it’s dropped a bit in popularity because for the past couple years it’s been delayed until much later in the following year (like six months in) when most of the hype around the games has died a bit and people have moved to other projects. Maybe this is good to re-energize discussion?

And technically, the Oscars are in March for the previous year, and Tony awards for theater don’t happen until June for the previous year - that may be logistics: It’s easy for voters to binge nominated movies on screener DVDs several per day, but for theater it’s a matter of securing seats for a live performance and scheduling all that. Perhaps that’s akin to the delay on XYZZYs, there are initially hundreds of potential nominees rather than (I’m guessing) ~100 for film and perhaps 20 stage shows for voters to attend (if they are even still running and open.)

Rambling aside - authors technically have no say if their game is in the running for an XYZZY where they must make active efforts to enter a competition.


I was thinking of an aborted and incomplete project that was publicly available in an unfinished form - I started a project about 3 years ago, abandoned it after completing only the first chapter, but left it on my website because at that time I was unaware of IF competitions or their restrictions on early (and incomplete) forms of a game being publicly available prior to entry. The IFComp explicitly calls out unfinished games that have previously been publicly available, and whilst Spring Thing’s definition of “new” is slightly less strict, Spring Thing requires that a submission be downloadable to the archive (so excludes anything that uses server-side scripting). And I don’t think the Spring Thing Back Garden is a competition, even if it is a place where you could showcase a game (in that way no different from any other free platform like Itch, Reddit, or here, where the IF community might find it).


The Back Garden is non-competitive, but the question of the thread isn’t actually “Does a game have to be able to be given a numerical score or voted on in order to get attention?” but rather “Does a game have to be part of a major IF event to get attention?” Other commenters in this thread, including @mathbrush and @HanonO, have explained some of the reasons why games that are part of an event get more attention, and all of those things still apply to the Back Garden; they don’t really have to do with the actual competition part. So I strongly disagree that it’s exactly the same as posting your game outside of a comp/jam and just tagging it on Itch or linking it here. Obviously it’s a bad option if the ability to win or receive a score matters to you, but that wasn’t what we were talking about.

But I did forget that Spring Thing was no longer taking web-only games, as that was a stipulation that was not enforced until this year, so I was wrong about its broad inclusivity and I apologize for that.


Different interpretations of the word “contest”, I guess.

But it’s moot anyway - I’m motivated to create IF for the creative and technical challenges, and I write games that I like to play. I was just hypothetically proposing that competitions, whilst good in some regards, could result in some authors constraining or compromising their creativity in order to meet the criteria for entry into a competition to ensure their games achieved the wider audience.

Interestingly, in doing a little research into IF competitions, the exclusivity between the likes of IntroComp and IFComp seems to directly discourage participation. I wonder if there are any authors out there that have deliberately steered away from getting the community feedback from IntroComp that could have helped then to produce a superior game because they intended to enter that finished product into another competition in the future? Similarly, I wonder if any authors entered something into IntroComp only to regret it later because this disqualified them from entering their finished game? Or ceased development in an IntroComp submission for that reason.

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I’m sorry, I phrased my first sentence poorly. I do understand that the definition of “contest” requires the ability to win and that therefore the literal meaning of the thread title is “Does your game need to be able to be voted on or scored to get attention?” But the trajectory of the conversation was more towards discussing the benefits of being part of an event, scored or unscored, rather than focusing on a literal interpretation of the question asked in the title, especially as it turned out that the original question-asker was specifically leery of competitive events.


While on one hand, I feel like this is an unknowable, as the only people we observe are those who actually complete an IntroComp game, on the other hand, a desire to create more finished-IntroComp-game-friendly events led me to push for SeedComp to accept them, as well as TALJ once the topic was brought up after the submission period this year. I say push, because I’m not the sole organizer for either event. If I organize any future events, I’ll probably push for the same. I’ve also been meaning to get a list together of confirmed finished-IntroComp-game-friendly events, with the screenshots and URL links of the relevant rules, and reach out to the new IntroComp organizer. It might help prospective IntroComp entrants if they could see on the IntroComp site a short list of events they could submit their finished game to when contemplating whether or not to join the Comp.

With that said, I don’t think every Comp needs to or even should accept finished IntroComp games. Having a diversity of Comps and criteria is a beneficial circumstance and makes it more likely at least one of the events will be a good match to a prospective entrant.


I wonder if that might be worth reviewing for IFComp: considering allowing intro comp games to compete as long as they’re entered the year after they were entered in intro comp. Perhaps that could be a trade-off for waving the IC prize money for completing the game within a year?


For wiser minds than mine to consider, lol.

Although attaching it to voluntarily waiving IFComp prize money would probably stave off cries of “not fair.”


IntroComp games are currently ineligible for IFComp. But they can go into SpringThing. Which is what I did with Napier’s Cache. I tested the waters with IntroComp, then some time later entered a completed version of the game into SpringThing. Just putting that out there. Not all competitions ban prior IntroComp games.


To emphasize what @manonamora said earlier, the tumblr-if community and choicescript-adjacent community have :

  • works that are released out of competitions or events and are still played in acceptable numbers
  • long tail plays and reviews
  • episodic releases of very long works that build a readership over time
  • an audience ready to play the same thing many times from draft to completion

The “competition-mode” is virtually inexistant there.


I think that choice based games have a much bigger audience than parser games. I don’t think parser games will ever achieve the same as many may regard parser games as ancient or too difficult, which is a shame as a parser can add something choice based can’t.


That’s true!

Parser games are much smaller than the itch community.

The itch community is also much smaller than the App market (with cutout visuals). At its heyday there were several apps making $10,000,000 a month, but it’s decreased since then. You can see some of the money over time here: (up to 2020).

It’s all ‘real’ interactive fiction (without the inapp purchases, any of them would fit into IFComp), but it’s such a large world that it overwhelms pretty much every other form of IF put together in terms of audience.


I was sure I’d seen such a list gathered by someone here on this forum – I was going to link it from IFWiki – but now I can’t find it. Did I dream it?

The tension from IFComp not making an exception for IntroComp definitely seems like a shame. I get the impression that’s a considered decision, though, although I’ve not followed the reasoning.

But, the timing doesn’t seem great if we make an exception allowing a work in the same year’s Intro- and IFComps:

  • You’d have to declare your intent to enter IFComp (deadline ~1 Sep) before formally getting feedback / results from IntroComp (start of Sep). (OK, you could always declare your IFComp intent speculatively, then maybe withdraw, but it feels like you’d have to feel fairly committed to entering IFComp from the start);
  • You’d have a month or less to finish your work, including reacting to IntroComp feedback. (And be under pressure to release now nonetheless, because you’re not going to get another chance to get the exposure of an IFComp.)

(And, allowing the work into the following year’s IFComp wouldn’t be ideal either, as you’d definitely miss the IntroComp prize deadline of the start of September, because your work cannot be published until October.)


No idea. Not sure if I’ve seen such a list myself, which is why I mentioned putting one together.


That’s right! We were talking about a making a list in that thread. I completely blanked on it. Please forgive the oversight, @StJohnLimbo , I’ve had some distractions in my personal life recently.


You’ve had a lot going on recently, I think it’s purr-etty understandable to have had it slip your mind. Yay for the link being found, though!


Some years ago at the Boston IF meetup (aka PR-IF, the People’s Republic of Interactive Fiction), Nick Montfort suggested the idea of meetup members releasing games under the imprint of PR-IF, akin to a record label or book publishing house. I don’t think anyone ever ran with this idea, but I think something along those lines could work as a way to release IF works outside of competitions/jams but still get some amount of attention: find/arrange a group of authors and release your games together under some sort of umbrella as a common brand.

You could either release them all at once, as an event or compendium, or release them sequentially over time, maybe with “catalog numbers” even, which might encourage people to “collect” them all. Or combine both approaches and put out periodical “magazines” of releases. The games wouldn’t have to have anything in common, although it might be good for the brand to have some sort of commonality so people know what to expect when they play a new game fron that brand. Maybe the authors could pool resources to hire a designer to do cover art in a particular style, for example (think 4AD album covers).

I think things like this have been done in the past, before my time, e.g. the IF Art Show, or TextFire? Anyway, I figured it was worth bringing up the idea again and maybe it will inspire someone.


In the offline (or less-online) part of my life, I write paper-based COYA books, and those are released under just that sort of arrangement, and receive — I am sure — far more in the way of attention than if I did it solo. So I’d assume that would work well.