How do you choose your games to play during the Comps?

How do you guys choose which games you play/test during the IF Comps? Do you play every game, cherry pick the titles that appeal, pick so many from each letter, play only those that run on Frotz or Glulx etc?

There are so many entries it’s great, but that’s a lot to test and review on.

This is a great Spring Thing turnout from what I’ve seen over the last couple of years. Last years IFComp was huge with ~70 entries, which is a near-impossible feat to play and comment realistically on all the games, though several devoted individuals pulled it off. 20 is a commitment, but manageable.

My strategy is to audition all the entries quickly at first as an overview. I’ve also referred to this as the “hummingbird” approach - I open each one just briefly and see what it looks like, either clicking through a few screens or reading the opening. Then I close it and move to the next just to get a sense of what might grab my interest. If I have to download or install anything besides an interpreter or jump through major hoops, that reduces my enthusiasm.

From there, I pretty much have a preliminary gradient interest list that goes - “wow, these are interesting - these look short enough to hang with - I’ll get to these if I have time and feel like it.”

It might seem brutal to cut from first impression alone, but this is why the blurb and the opening few screens need to be strong. If there’s not some kind of interesting hook or promise of things to come, or if there are typos or poor grammar, it sinks down the list where I may not return to it. This likely evolved from manuscript reading where getting through 30 screenplays isn’t feasible, so if I’m not interested by page 2, I generally move on to the next so I end up seriously evaluating only 5.

That said…since comps are more about feedback and getting seen than getting a job, it’s great to give some kind of feedback for every entry if possible. Even knowing the reason someone decided not to finish your game can be helpful if constructive and informational without snark or anger: “There were three misspelled words in the opening paragraph, so I’m saving for later because this will bug me.” “This seemed a bit too violent for my tastes, so I’m not going to continue…” “I have no interest in frog dating sims…but otherwise the graphics were pretty.”

I like your approach. It’s consistent and ensures every game gets at least a “punchers chance” before selecting for deeper play and review.
Like it. Thanks for posting! :slight_smile:

I try to look for something different and stories that catch my interest. I also look for a creative strategy in unusual (to me) game development systems.


I like seeing familiar names in a competition. I’m always most interested in the submissions from the authors whose previous games I played and enjoyed; in this year’s Spring Thing - “Best Gopher Ever”, “Sherlock Indomitable”, “Zeppelin Adventure.”

I try to play all of them but yes that last IfComp had an insane amount of entries so I just kind of jumped all over the list and randomly chose stuff for the most part.

In general though: Parser games first if I have a good bit of time to play. Non-parser if I do not.