First-round XYZZY voting now open

At long last the XYZZYs, the annual awards for pretty-damn-niftiness in interactive fiction, are open for the first round. (Apologies that it’s rather later in the new year than usual. A number of things came up, but no excuse for it taking this long. Hopefully it’ll have given you more time to play more games from 2012.)

Ponder deeply, then go and vote. Over here, at the XYZZY Awards site.

(As always, if there are any errors or omissions, let me know about 'em.)

Shouldn’t there be more Varytale games on the list?

Pretty sure that:

Fighting by K. Carol Douglas
Hymn and Shanty by Philip Green
Sixth Tower by Lily Fox
Tillinghast by Ian Duncan
London Road by Lily Fox

all came out in 2012.

Tillinghast, Sixth Tower and London Road are all out by the Introcomp principle, I think. The other two are now in.

Yeah that seems reasonable. of those three I only played London Road and it was definitely incomplete.

For best supplemental materials, do they have to be associated with a single game? I’m inclined to vote for “The covers for Cover Stories,” but not sure whether this fits the intent of the category.

Hm. Answer hazy. The wording sort of implies single-game. But people routinely ignored the specific wording of Use of Medium when that was a thing, and we let 'em do so because both senses were important; and the Tech and Supplemental Materials categories are intentionally a bit open-ended.

(I should speak to my co-conspirators for a confirmation on this, though, since I have a fairly straightforward conflict of interest here.)

A related question: you can’t nominate your own games etc., but could you nominate a supplemental feature (like the cover) of your own game if it was made by someone else and obviously the XYZZY would go to them?

My feeling is that that would be a situation very like the one you get when a betatester votes for a game they tested. (I’d expect a beta-tester in that position to double-check their own motives, of course, but if they feel it’s in good faith I’m all for it.)

I’m hoping that we’ll see more situations like what’s going on with Kerkerkruip currently–games (most likely in the stricter sense of that term) that are constructed and built out over time, by multiple people. But how does that work re the XYZZYs? Kerkerkruip as a game is almost certainly no longer eligible, but once the version with graphics is released, would at least the graphics be eligible (perhaps under supplementary materials)? Or I think Dannii is working on an extensive dynamic hinting system that will be bolted on at some point: would that be eligible in its own right during its release year?


Supplementary materials are explicitly not tied to the year of the game’s actual release. (In particular, the teaser images for what people would later realise was Counterfeit Monkey were nominated in that category, well before the game’s release.)

For things that are more in-game, I’m still trying to work out what the best solution is. (The test cases are likely to be always-online things like StoryNexus or Varytale that strongly facilitate continuous-release models.) The main precedent is Introcomp: Introcomp games are explicitly not eligible for XYZZY Awards. There are a number of reasons for this: the main one was to avoid punishing authors for entering Introcomp, since an intro would be unlikely to be strong enough to win a XYZZY on its own merits, but it’d hardly be fair to let the same game compete twice. Similarly, it’s obviously not okay to give a game another shot every time it does a bugfix release, or adds an epilogue, or whatnot. But I’m not sure that, say, adding an entire chapter to the end of a StoryNexus game is really all that different from releasing a single story as a trilogy over several years, as in Earth and Sky.

Well, what I was getting at is that, in games like Kerkerkruip that are ongoing projects, the addition of new content that is fundamentally different from the original release raises questions. I wasn’t saying that something the graphics I’m doing for Kerkerkruip–which are in-game–are supplementary material (they aren’t, in the sense that Emily’s Counterfeit Monkey stuff is), I was suggesting that perhaps it made sense to consider them as such for the purposes of XYZZYs post-release consideration. Similarly, a new technical system, e.g. a dynamic hint system, added to an organically growing game like Kerkerkruip, might well be worth considering for “best use of innovation” or “best technological development”. (By the way, I’m not suggesting that these things should actually apply to Kerkerkruip–it’s just that Kerkerkruip raises the question, seems to be considered an interesting model by the community, and being fairly well known around here makes for a good example.)

I do tend to disagree with your last point: creating a trilogy of separate games seems to me to be pretty different, both in the structural problems to be solved and in the effort expended, from adding a new chapter to an existing game.

Well, anything like a dynamic hints system I would release separately so they would be eligible.

Dannii, that’s great for a game that uses open-source tools, but what if it doesn’t? My goal in bringing this up is not to talk about Kerkerkruip’s chances for next year (I’ve never participated in the XYZZYs and likely never will), just to raise some questions that the changing face of the medium will make very real very soon. I am nearly 100% certain that we will see the following in the next XYZZYs:

  • Old games revamped by their original authors with totally new features that the old version never had (e.g. graphics). Is the game eligible? Or is there some way to make only the new features eligible?
  • Games with multiple authors that introduce new content designed by authors who did not participate in the original, or who are adding new features that didn’t exist in the original (e.g., graphics or new technical systems). Is the game eligible? Or is there some way to make only the new features eligible?
  • Games that live on the web that were released in 2012 or before but which are significantly revamped in 2013. Eligible again?

Questions like these are likely to arise increasingly in the coming years, and only the last of these really has much in common with the Introcomp precedent.

I’m done thumping this horse now, I just want to make sure that my main point is understood before I bow out.


Hmm, yeah I’m sure something like that will happen eventually. I don’t have much of an opinion… to be honest the XYZZYs don’t matter much to me, so I wouldn’t mind much whatever happens.

Would it be alright if I put up a “For Your Consideration Poll” on IFDB? I guess that’s a similar issue to Danny’s in the other thread.

Hmm. Gosh. Mm.

I think this sort of violates the letter of the no-promotion guideline, while actually being a kind of good idea. After all, the horrible size of The List is kind of a disincentive to voting. And the number one reason I hear why people don’t vote in the XYZZYs is “I just haven’t played enough games this year.” And we’ve been trying to find ways of narrowing it down to games that might be worth checking out, if you were wanting to do a last-minute blitz of 2012 games. And it’d be a bit of extra XYZZY visibility without opening the XYZZYs to a special-interest audience.

And… mrm, does it count as Promoting Specific Games if anyone can come in and throw more games on the pile? Mrm. I’d definitely feel sketchy if people started adding their own games.

The thing I’d want to avoid is turning this into a XYZZY straw-poll. Because polling encourages tactical voting, and the XYZZY voter-base is small enough and smart enough to vote tactically as all get-out, which would be super-disruptive. So in an ideal world, the way this would work would be: if you think a game might be worth checking out, even in a single category, even if it’s not going to get your nomination, put it on the list. Once it’s on the list, it’s on the list, and people shouldn’t worry about voting it up.

I’d like to hear a few more perspectives on this first, but my initial reaction is that it should be fine. … d-for.html

This doesn’t look good.

I’m aware of it, and don’t think that it should very much trouble to deal with. Though you’d think that enthusiasts of text-based games would have better reading comprehension.

Also, Healy, since nobody seems to feel strongly about this one way or another, I’d say go ahead; anything that gets people playing more games in the first round is a Good Thing.

I’d appreciate it if you included a couple of caveats, though: ask people to cast their net widely as possible (‘here are some games from 2012 that are worth checking out, even if they’re not getting my vote’) and to avoid upvoting things once they’re already on the list.

Would it make more sense to just make it a simple wiki page, with a series of lists, one for each category? Anyone could manually add a game they feel deserves it, and upvoting would not be relevant (because it would not be possible).