Hi everyone,

I was wondering if people would be interested in my running Ectocomp again this year?

I’ve also been toying for a few years with changing the format, perhaps moving away from the rather strange self-adjudicated 3 hour rule, and imposing some other kind of restriction. I’d welcome your thoughts and ideas.


J. J. Guest

I’d like to see an EctoComp. I wasn’t planning on entering, because of the 3-hour restriction. However, I may write something if that limit is changed .

I like the idea of having themes. It’s interesting to see how different people interpret them. If you’re looking for a bit more work, you could “hand out” individual themes to participants, their “candy,” and maybe collect themes from people during the first week of October.


I’d like to see an EctoComp too… though I can’t promise to enter.

It might be nice to have a sort of “spirit of three hours” rule–it’s nice not to feel pressure to do anything very polished, but I can see how the three hour limit puts on a different kind of pressure. Actually when I wrote an entry I kept clocking in and out to blink and catch my breath, and I think I wound up taking three hours and a minute, so it definitely puts on a different kind of pressure. Maybe just something like “You can make the kind of game you think you could make in three hours” would be nice.

The three hour limit in fact led to the best thing about my game–when the intended solution to my main puzzle didn’t work, I knew I didn’t have enough time to try to fix it, so I just checked that this other possible solution worked and kept coding. And the other solution was much better!

Perhaps have a more relaxed Ectocomp? All of October to write with deadline 29th or 30th, but still encourage fast speed-if works?

Quick one-off idea: Perhaps the deadline could be October 31st, but each week there’s a trick: an object, or story element or theme is announced that must be incorporated into the game somehow. For example, Week one all games must include a black cat. Week 2, try to also add in a serial killer. Week 3, the worst trick or treat bag ever. Week 4, incorporate false teeth.

I kinda like that idea HanonO, and yours Neil…
It would encourage people not to be too precious. I’ve been doing Improv for nearly a year now, and it really appeals to that side of my nature.
I’ll give it some thought over the next day or two.
Keep the suggestions coming.

I like HanonO’s idea about something new being added each week.

Another vote for Hanon’s idea…that would actually be pretty fun.

FYI the Annual Halloween Ghost Story Writing Contest is happening again this year (with both parser and choice IF divisions this year), so you might not want to make Ectocomp become too similar to that.

I’d never heard of, and while their competition is similar, is it not primarily for citizens of Saugus, MA? Anyway, I see no reason why entrants shouldn’t submit the same game to both, provided it adheres to both sets of rules.

Note that the deadline for Saugus is Oct. 22. The audiences are different, too. Saugus seems to be primarily short fiction writing, so you might be reaching a crowd unfamiliar with IF.


It comes in the night…! It cannot be contained! The horror, the horror! [emote]:)[/emote]

Ectocomp remains one of my favorite writing competitions ever; it makes Halloween last all month for me. I’m willing to help with any hosting and reviewing that might be needed and I’ll probably try to write something for it. Ectocomp has always been pretty open and just encouraging of entries in general, so I would support the move to a “spirit of 3 hours” rule.

As for adding things in by week, how would this effect judging? Like, if someone finished a game in week 1 and didn’t add other stuff in, would judges complain? I would like to think not, but I’m curious what other people think.

Yes, +1!

A possible spin on the “add something each week” would be to (also?) give more abstract hints and tips, something like those oblique strategies cards. I’m not sure exactly what, but I’m thinking rather than “add a black cat”, it could be stuff like “Change the gender of every character”, or “Remove the least interesting puzzle” or whatever.

Neat idea!

I like the idea of not having 3 hours. I hate having stuff unimplemented and getting called on it, and I hate having to check off on it too. And I am a bit disappointed when I play a game I know would’ve been even better with an hour or two at most of testing.

That said, I like the idea of SpeedIF-in-spirit. It makes us get out and write and not worry we’re too sophisticated. I don’t know how to implement it, though.

Maybe a 24- or 48-hour time frame to write something, like Ludum Dare? But not necessarily October 29/30? Again, we’d be on our honor.

Part of me likes the 3 hour rule because it forces me to work to a deadline and get something written, but at the same time another part of me dislikes it because I’m often forced to cut out stuff I don’t have time to finish or implement properly. A few times before I’ve thought “oh yeah I’d like to add this and this to my gane, but if I do I’ll never get it done in time”.

I’m not as into this–the 24- or 48-hour frame is a lot worse for those of us who have to work in discontinuous dribbets.

Nope, it’s open to anyone. In 2009, the three IF entries were from Germany, Canada, and Cambodia. My point in bringing it up is that one course of action might be to keep Ectocomp the way it is, and encourage people who don’t like the 3-hour time constraint to enter the comp instead. (I’m not necessarily advocating this, just bringing it up as an option.)

Ooh, good point. There has to be a way to accomodate people with all kinds of schedules. And no matter what time limits are provided, it’s possible to weasel out of, or misinterpret, them. And Ectocomp should be fun, so I don’t think any of us want the rules to be too restrictive or too detailed.

Maybe a soft word limit on source code or game text would work best? I think there are ways to measure that.

Feature creep is your enemy! Ectocomp’s necessity to cut and strip may actually mean that you get the game finished, and there is much rejoicing.

Ok, so Ectocomp 2015 is definitely on. I’ll do a proper announcement and finalise details tomorrow.