IF is dead

It think it’s fair. Ok.

First, I don’t want to see IFComp split into categories. It’s never had them, except for the first year, and then – yes – everybody agreed that having TADS and Inform categories was silly.

The XYZZYs are a fuzzier case. We’ve avoided having content or prose-genre categories like “best comedy” or “best mystery”. We do have technical awards (“best use of medium”, now “best use of innovation” and “best technological development”) but these have been careful to avoid specifying what kind of innovation or technology we “ought” to laud.

I won’t support adding a parser category to the XYZZYs just because it doesn’t fit into IFComp. That’s not a sufficient argument.

There is no purely rational resolution to this, because this is community identification. Busterwrites just said:

That is the entire space of the discussion, really.

(Long digression about the R&B/Hip-Hop charts deleted. Sorry. I won’t subject you.)

This is a fairly new idea. Non-parser games were not a common part of this comp until recently. The term “interactive fiction” has mostly been used in the way Infocom used it. We’ve traditionally rejected the compositional definition of IF (“all fiction that is interactive”), and the expansion to include non-parser games is a big shift. I understand now that a lot of the community is interested in both forms together, but it feels like few commenters are even acknowledging that this is a change.

IF isn’t dead.

Parser games aren’t dead.

The IFcomp doesn’t represent ‘the state of IF’ nor even ‘the state of parser games’. The short format required to enter is not even parser games’ strong suit so the IFcomp has never even been the best showcase for parser games. The IFcomp could die tomorrow and I doubt it would affect the evolution of parser games at all. In fact, it might help by removing such a central focal point for silly debates over whose art form is ‘dying’ or somehow no longer relevant.

Every artist always thinks that their chosen medium is the most relevant and other forms miss the mark in some way. They may even think other forms are dying. That’s very natural for an opinionated artist - that’s why they chose that medium in the first place - but it is almost always wrong, and it’s always unhelpful to spread these notions. The less arrogant artists do not try to dictate to others what mediums they should work in, what perspectives they should adopt, what ideologies they should support, what sorts of characters they should use, etc, etc, etc

That’s true, but they’ve been in the comp since 1998. The majority of IFComps have had at least one non-parser entry.

What you can say is that this community has identified as being primarily about “stuff like Infocom”. And it’s the “primarily” that has changed, not the hard boundaries.

I don’t want to start or continue a debate about GamerGate on intfiction.org (and toward that end I am laying aside any objections to the alleged relevance of Zoe Quinn), but I just have to address the misapprehensions about GamerGate’s attitude to interactive fiction. I have supported GamerGate and its stated goals since September 1st. I have been involved in the hashtag everyday, made a lot of new friends and met a lot of interesting people. Some of you here may find those people “disgusting” for whatever reason, but that’s neither here nor there and I don’t want to argue about it here.

All I want to say is, these people don’t hate interactive fiction. I have been clear about my love of text adventures from the moment I joined, and never received a drop of pushback or disdain. On the contrary, I have received many inquiries about it from people who loved the old text adventures and are fascinated with the things I tell them about the state of the art. Far from being against IF, GamerGate is actually a fantastic recruiting opportunity for IF, if you can stop focusing on whatever part of its history you find so personally horrifying.

Some GamerGaters do ridicule Twine, but most don’t. (Just like here! Imagine that.) There are even plenty of Twine developers among us. When somebody in GamerGate ridicules the tool itself instead of whatever art they found boring or disagreeable that was created with that tool, I politely explain to them that the tool should be distinguished from the art itself, and point out that interesting things have been done with Twine. This too has yet to cause any pushback or argument.

If you don’t like GamerGate on some feminist grounds or whatever, that is fine, I am not really going to argue against you about that here. But I think it is doing IF itself a disservice not to point out that there is a huge pool of gamers out there all congregating in one place who are actually very open to IF and text adventures, many of whom skew older and have nostalgic memories of parser games, and right now they are looking for any sympathetic devs to support. They are thirsty for sympathetic devs. They are really not picky about who you are or what type of game you make.

Happy comping! 8)


Which is precisely what you just did. You opened that door wide, made claims I don’t agree with, and said I shouldn’t argue with them.

I do agree, however, that this thread and this forum is not a place for GamerGate. Others are free to go back on topic, or we can lock this up.

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I didn’t mean that you can’t disagree. I just meant my intention is not to argue over it but to inform people that there IS actually a place for and even a love of old-school IF in that community. That’s pretty relevant in a thread titled ‘IF is dead’ wouldn’t you say?

I too was guilty of it earlier, but let’s agree from here forward not to talk GamerGate. Explaining why would only fuel the discussion, but if curious for my reasoning, please PM me. There are reasons.

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Yes agreed.

I resisted the temptation to de-lurk earlier, and I’m glad, because other people have said what I wanted to say far more eloquently than I would have.

I can’t resist making one comment, though. In general I find policing the boundaries of what is or isn’t art, or what is or isn’t a particular genre of art, fairly tedious. But in this case it feels to me even sillier than usual, because the boundary here, relative to other arguments of this type, is so thin and mist-like. It’s the narcissism of small differences.

You can draw boxes around “clicking a hyperlink” vs. “typing words into a parser” but the act is still reading text, touching one or more fingers on a set of input rectangles in a certain order to communicate some kind of intention back to the game world, in text, which responds with more text. The aesthetics are different, the space of possibility is different, but those differences are mostly a result of convention, or of the technical choices and limitations of a platform.

I’m not wild about the film metaphor because in live-action vs. animation, you’re always going to have the distinct physical acts of pointing an optical camera at real people vs. drawing lines or geometry, whether by hand or mouse. Even with that hard distinction, though, motion capture hybridizes techniques across the boundary. “Parser” versus “choice” has even less of a hard distinction, and future technology is going to hybridize the two in even more confusing ways.

Future IF environments may contain a mix of elements that folks today would consider oh, absolutely, definitively parser, or definitively choice. And then we can argue about whether a given system is “real” parser or “real” choice. Won’t that be fun?

I’m still lost as to whom may ever have expressed what platform is to be considered art or to whom may ever have told anybody to use a specific format. Can’t find the posts, can some body point me to those?

While, on the opposite, I rekon having seen, many, demanding certain contents to be put in works or others to be Avoided.

Ah! And while we are at it: looks like in other spaces (namely on Twitter) people are arguing around how bad it is that a certain person is posting here. Not bad for an “all inclusive forum”, uh?

This is a clusterfuck and it’s growing increasingly tiresome and disheartening.

Normally I hate this line of argument, but I think it’s fair given the cries of IF IS DEAD: If you don’t like that there are too few parser games and/or parser stories out there, then write one. Make it good. (Make it like Make It Good, if you want. That would be one way of going about the matter.) Make it big and ambitious and terrifyingly well-written. Make it polished and well-designed. (Find a collaborator, if you want.) Make it longer than two hours if you want, considering in half a year there’s a competition expressly designed for that. Make it good enough that it inspires five more like it, and then those five might in turn inspire more, everything building upon the last. That’s how the comp took off in the first place, and the only thing preventing it from maybe happening again is you, YES, YOU.

(and me. back to work.)

I interpreted certain lines of argument that way on both sides, as when people want to remove one from a comp or when people predict that one medium is dying, I feel it is a way of telling people not to use it. I can accept that I may have overstated that and sorry about that.

Let me take a wild guess. 87

I agree with this. And i’m sad that if my “i’m sad if parser dies” has been taken as “i think parser will die due to too much WB”.

Fortunately, of the things you have listed I can (arguably) check all but one: my efforts only spawned 4 games. So far. :slight_smile: (<-- this is not condescending, but just a smiley)

I was the person who donated the $100 special prize for parser-based games. I’m rather shocked by some of the content of this thread so wanted to say a few words about my motivation for doing so.

I was introduced to IF in the 90s, long after Infocom but in the “Silver Age” of parser-based masterpieces like Spider and Web, Christminster, Anchorhead, So Far, Curses, the Mulldoon games, etc. There has been some fantastic work since then, including by authors in this thread, but I still consider these early classics to be the pinnacle of the Art. And I admit this may be largely due to nostalgia on my part, rather than any objective or even articulable notion of quality – the games certainly had their issues, including frustrations with the parser and unfair puzzles.

Unless they are superbly executed, I don’t enjoy the “analyzing the human condition”-type games nearly as much as I do the classic crawl or puzzler. I want the awe of exploring more rooms of the mansion, deeper areas of the secret government base, of slowly discovering my way around alien worlds and learning its rules. I want the rush of that “aha!” moment when I finally solve a puzzle that has been barring my progress (Spider and Web still has my vote for best puzzle of all time). I want the slow buildup of tension as I slowly learn more about my past, about the history of the place I’m exploring, and realize that my actions will have import far beyond what I was expecting.

And while it’s true that one shouldn’t confuse the genre with the medium, I’ve observed that parser-based games are more likely to be the kind that I enjoy, rather than CYOA-type games (but this is not universally true; I very much liked Solarium in the last comp, for instance). There are still people making high-quality parser-based games of the type I enjoy; Jon Ingold’s “Make it Good” and Emily Short’s “Counterfeit Monkey” are two recent(ish) examples. On the whole, though, I feel that building parser-based games, especially of the puzzle- and exploration-heavy genre that I enjoy, is becoming a dying art, and I offered the prize in the hopes that it might show some people who might otherwise sit out the comp that these kinds of games are still appreciated, and encourage them to take another crack at creating one. It wasn’t intended to antagonize authors of CYOA games, and I’m in no way in favor of excluding CYOA from the comp or rating them all 1.

[Finally, I want to thank Emily for clarifying the situation that I did indeed find bewildering: aversion to choice-based games somehow being tied misogyny. It goes without saying that increasing the diversity of people creating IF benefits everyone. That said, I come to the IF community to find the kinds of games I enjoy to play, and I want to encourage people to make more of these kind of games. If women are making games I enjoy, that’s awesome. It they’re making games I don’t enjoy, there’s nothing wrong with that and they shouldn’t be excluded from the IF comp or the community – but there’s also nothing wrong or misogynistic about me encouraging people (of all genders and identities) to create more parser-based games. I won’t dwell on this point, but for what it’s worth I was taken aback by the comments early in this thread, and found the suggestion that my disliking CYOA games somehow reflects my prejudice or sexism a bit disgusting.]

This was discussed in private a little before the comp, and the decision was reached:

a) it’s totally cool for someone only to be interested in parser games, and to want to motivate people to make more of 'em, but
b) having just a prize for parser, when there weren’t equivalents for choice, could look pretty bad.

So a donor was found willing to match the donation for choice-based games. Problem solved.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with loving parser in particular, and wanting to promote it in a positive manner. If your best idea for promoting parser is to loudly declare that CYOA is awful and should go away, that’s a problem.

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Ah, I hadn’t noticed there was a matching donor. That’s totally fine by me: let people support the kinds of games they want to support.

For future reference, it was not necessary to scramble the Cabal. An email saying, “you may not be aware, but some people will interpret your donation as an endorsement of gamer gate. Would you be interested in chatting a bit about alternative ways you could support parser-based games?” would have been courteous and effective.

GG… wasn’t even the issue, really. There’s pre-existing parser/choice tension that merited some care in handling.

And part of that care is that we shouldn’t be telling people that they can’t support parser, or slapping down good-faith efforts to promote it! There are people in the community who are only really interested in certain kinds of games. That should be OK. Nobody wants to make you swear a loyalty oath to love parser and choice equally. There’s some talk about having a parser-specific minicomp some time next year - again, that’s fine. We just shouldn’t be putting up GO AWAY signs on the biggest community events.

Haven’t been here in a long while and just read this whole thread.

The level of spirited and intelligent discussion in these 15 pages is proof enough that the thread title is false.

My only concern is that passerbys or recent returns (like me) will take the thread title at face value and move on, as I almost did.

The thread title says: nothing to see here, we’re not worth your time.