2007 was a year that a few people thought of as not as good overall (probably due to its small crop of games: only 27 were entered), but which produced some of the best games of all time.
Looking over this comp, it seems like there are a lot of games which current authors were influenced by and which are still well known, more than previous years. Quite a fee authors from this year are still active.
2007 saw the one-room game competition, with the excellent Suveh Nux and its language-based puzzle, as well as the H.P. Lovecraft Commonplace Book Project, which produced Ecdysis and Dead Cities, both excellent Lovecraftian games.
Fate won Spring Thing that year, my favorite of Gijsbers work, and also a dark game. Rendition, a dark torture game, was entered in the IF art show.
2005 and 2006 had been grim years. As Emily Short pointed out in her roundup of 2007, the lightheartedness of this year’s comp may have been a reaction against all of the darkness proceeding it.
Treasure’s of a Slaver’s Kingdom, with its sort of Conan/D&D pastiche, was one popular comedy game released this year.
Lost Pig is of course one of the most well-known IF, frequently shown as the first game to prospective players, and top of the Best 50 Interactive Fiction Games of all time poll.
This game casts you as Grunk, a pre-established blog character of Admiral Jota’s (the author’s). You lose a pig, and have to find it.
Perhaps the game’s best innovation is that the entire parser is rewritten from the point of a character who has speech trouble but is easy to identify with. This makes the player more understanding when the parser (poor Grunk!) doesn’t understand some command. At least a third to two thirds of a parser game playthrough is going to consist of error messages and standard responses, so these need a ton of work compared to other areas.
It also has a deeply implemented NPC that is a stark contrast to the main character, with very academic phrases and a world-weariness. This contrast is deeply satisfying.
The whole game is fairly spare, a contrast to the richness of last year’s Floatpoint.
An Act of Murder was included in the iPad’s Frotz app, and so I always thought of this as the quintessential murder mystery game. Christopher Huang had come in second almost a decade earlier, with Muse, and now writes one of the most popular series of IFComp reviews every year.
An Act of Murder has a cast of six characters (or so), and a small house. The killer and the weapon are randomized. You have to eliminate suspects by their means and motives and so on (if the murder weapon was very heavy, a weak character could not have done it, for example).
Getting randomized play to work like this is a brilliant achievement. The author has recently written several short murder mystery games and released a myster novel.
Lord Bellwater’s Secret is a one-room game with a lot to unpack. It has an extensive readable library, and it has many ‘in-room’ locations (like Shade). It has several features in common with Anssi Raisanen’s Out of the Study from years earlier.
This is a puzzle heavy game set in an older time period, where you are trying to help a woman you love. It’s almost like a fantasy-free version of Sub Rosa.
This year had a lot of genre pieces. Besides the murder mystery An Act of Murder, there was the hard sci fi Across the Stars, the philosophy game The Chinese Room, the high fantasy game Varkana, the Terry Pratchett pastiche A Fine Day for Reaping, the hard-bitten detective My Name is Jack Mills, the Howard-inspired Beneath: A Transformation, and the absurdist Slap That Fish.
Across the Stars is a hard sci fi game that has a short IFComp playthrough and a much bigger ‘real’ playthrough (I know I said that before about the Orion Agenda, but I actually mixed up the two games). So if you like hard sci fi and want a bigger-than-comp experience, this game is for you.
A Fine Day for Reaping is one of the best Adrift games ever entered in the comp, featuring you as Death trying to get some pesky few people.
Slap that Fish is a memorable absurdist combat game.
The Chinese Room is a fascinating, huge game with philosophy thought experiments turned into puzzles. (For instance, The Chinese Room itself is a famous thought experiment). So the game has you do things like go to Plato’s cave and deal with the idea that color has an indescribable componenent to those who can’t see it, and so on.
Ferrous Ring is a fascinating surreal sci-fi game that is hard to describe. It’s written in first person with a list of all ‘good’ things in a room as well as all ‘bad’ things (kind of like Synesthesia Factory).
Deadline Enchanter was one of the games that ‘hooked’ me on interactive fiction. It’s a complete deconstruction of a game; you are provided a walkthrough in-game early on, and everything out of the walkthrough is not implemented. The game itself is cast as a message from a bizarre alien-fairy type creature. The author is releasing something interesting this year, I believe.
Lost Pig had a long-lasting legacy, yet again upping the game on protagonist characterization, which I believe influenced Violet. The idea of the strongly characterized protagonist with one deeply implemented NPC shows up in later years.
An Act of Murder has inspired other IFComp games, including my own 2016 game. It’s set a sort of standard for murder mysteries.
The Chinese Room was the start of many Joey Jones collaborations that were big, difficult, and awesome (if sometimes a bit underclued or buggy). Joey Jones would also release several independent games, including the excellent but short Andromeda Dreaming. The Chinese Room has inspired several other authors.
Deadline Enchanter has also had a major influence on authors such as Caleb Wilson.