IF Comp games' websites & rule 5

Now that the IF Comp is over, I’d like to ask a general question - didn’t want to risk it before, because it might have looked as bad sportsmanship while the competition was running.

I noticed that this year, more than one game had an official website by its author. How far does is this allowed to go with regards to rule five? How much information may be on it? Especially considering that unlike in-game explanatory texts, such a website is under the full control of the author herself, meaning she could theoretically change it anytime (again, this is an abstract question - I’m not insinuating anyone did that).

On a sidenote, rule five actually only states authors are not allowed to discuss their game publicly during the voting period. Is it actually the intention of the rule that it’s alright to discuss the game before?

Another sidenote: There is no explicit rule forbidding an author to publish an updated/fixed version during the voting period, but there still seems to be a consensus not to do so (which I believe it the right thing to do). How is this ensured with web-based games? Like their websites, these are under the full technical control of the respective authors.

Considering that discussion of the games is allowed by everyone who isn’t an author, and so it would be trivial for an author to violate the spirit of the competition if they chose to do so, I feel like the simple answer to these questions is we trust the authors to keep to the spirit of the Comp. I don’t really see the need for piling on more rules and errata about how authors should conduct themselves during the Comp.

I am interested in your question about pre-Comp conduct, as this would seem to cover devlogs and whether they’re allowed. I feel like devlogs are valuable contributions to the community at large, and while I’ve seen a couple for Comp games (though not really trumpeted as such), Comp authors seem to shie away from doing it; that also might be related to the process of writing IF in general. Perhaps post-mortems are a happy compromise.

The only reason for rule 5 that I can see is the small size of the community. It’s actually difficult to wander around critiquing games in IF without stumbling into their author. This creates a danger of a self-reinforcing echo-chamber effect that is probably most distortive during a competition. So I would use that as a guide to the spirit of the rule. If you are finding ways of injecting yourself into conversations that you probably shouldn’t be a part of, you’re probably violating the spirit of the rule.

So, if you don’t say anything during the comp but everybody already knows all of your hopes and dreams and aspirations for your game and what you’re trying to say with it because you talked it up so much before the comp, I’d say you probably violated the spirit of the rule.

Whereas an author just maintaining his own website does not seem to violate anything since nobody will likely visit that website unless they are specifically seeking out that author’s voice. Personally I don’t see a problem with that; the point isn’t that there is information but rather whether that info impinges on the fairly small and thus easily influenced pools of fan discussion, and author websites seem more like faraway freestanding bastions than a direct injection of an author’s self-analysis into ‘the process’.

Just IMO of course but I think you want there to be fans and players who have no clue what the designer says about his own game: they just play it. Those ‘context-free’ players need to exist, so I think rule 5 is just meant to help ensure they exist for comp games as much as possible. If the community were a little bit larger it wouldn’t be necessary to have any rule of silence at all because we’d be guaranteed a majority of context-free players in any case.