IF is dead

2013: 15 parser-based IFComp entries.
2014: 14 parser-based IFComp entries.

Whining about the death of (parser-based) IF is silly.

The game I’ve been working on is not solvable in two hours.

To you, I guess.

It’s like none of you remember 1990. Remember when graphical adventure games and CRPGs killed the parser?

I dunno about that. I usually fall into the old “the updates rules ruined the IFComp” discussion at some point, which I might still yet. Though maybe it’s kind of academic this year.

If you want to champion parser IF, the absolute worst thing you can do is to make parser-IF enthusiasts look inhospitable. Which this thread is doing, in spades.

The 1-votes are admittedly a strong temptation. I’ve made a subdirectory called BE_NICE and shoved the web-based games into that to help muster the discipline.

To follow up on Zarf’s point,

Spring Thing had 5 parser-based entries in 2014. It had 3 total entries last year. 2 were parser-based.

IntroComp had 4 parser-based entries in 2014. It had 6 the previous year. That’s +1, and we’re even.

Yes, small sample size to all this. But this feels like the old thought-experiment about making $70k and living next to someone making 60k a year–or making 100k and living next to 200k a year. I’ll take the 100k.

Also, the topic title assumes some people who may’ve written I7 may wind up writing Twine instead because they know they won’t hit a landmine like the default responses. Maybe they want to try different stuff, and now it is there for people to look at. In the big picture, that’s a good thing. There are people trying both. Many are quite good at both.

agreed maga

also my first games were parser, where was the love then?

1-voting the extremely hard work people put into their twines is disrespectful and disgraces the entire thing. the fact that such a sentiment is even considered acceptable to voice aloud is one of the reasons why so many women are scared away from the trad if community

To build on this: My entry, had there not been a mishap, would have been parser-based (for design, not ideological reasons) and would have brought the total to 15.


Now that’s just being self-important. It’s obviously anybody who submitted last year but didn’t this year.

Yeah, y’all need to chill out here, dudes. If the Comp doesn’t have enough parser games for your taste, you can always wait until Ectocomp/New Year’s Minicomp/Spring Thing/Shuffle Comp/etc. to get your fix. In fact, if you like parser-IF so much, why don’t you host your own mini-comp based around parser games? It will almost certainly be more effective than sitting around here and complaing about it.

goddamnit can’t you let a girl commit a killing that has not actually happened in peace

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I really do not like that this is what people see when they look at our discussion about IF Comp. Really, really do not like it at all. To, like, the point that I would encourage people interested in following the IF comp to look at blogs and Twitter rather than here.

I think we should not be defining the IF community in terms of exclusion. I think some of the most interesting work in interactive storytelling is going on in Twine and in commercial IF experiments and in the borderlands that did not exist a few years ago. I think some of the most interesting criticism of interactive storytelling is happening in venues like Storycade that cover multiple types of IF. I know that some of us have been working, actively and very hard, for years, to try to make those connections and to open up the borders between parser-based IF and the rest of the world.

I enjoy parser games. I’d be sorry if they went away completely, and if people are worried about supporting and encouraging parser IF production specifically, then perhaps that is a conversation that would be worthwhile to have, but to be productive it needs to be about what we can do more of, rather than whom we should kick out. Certainly if your dream is to write parser IF, then you have the solution right in front of you! No one’s come and taken TADS or Inform away.

I see this as an existential issue too, but not the same way that some of you do. What’s going on here is not that some hyperlink fairy came along and turned 20-odd Inform and TADS parser games into Twine. What’s going on is that choice-based tools and interfaces have grown into their true expressive power and we are being given the opportunity to engage with that inside our own community. And if we’re jerks about it, they’ll leave, and that will be our loss. Twine authors don’t need the parser community. They truly don’t. Twine gets panels at Indiecade. Twine games have appeared on the Expo floor at GDC. Choice IF makes genuine money on the app stores. Choice-based IF is currently far more accessible, far more visible, far better known than parser IF. If we didn’t have the choice-based material, we’d be left with a much smaller, less diverse, less rich, less interesting competition.

And if you think that what’s being written in the choice arena is illiterate or careless or stupid – even technically simplistic – then what that suggests to me is that you haven’t engaged with much of it. You may of course find it not to your taste, but it’s hardly the refuge of the incompetent.

(As a side note, jamespking – I have not entered the comp since 2006: this isn’t a recent change. Even then, I got a lot of flack about doing so, and I do not intend to enter again.)


What does 1-voting games have to do with women being scared?

Let me back up.

First of all, I agree with maga. This community is screwed if it redefines itself as “The crowd that fears and hates all IF except its own dying style.” That’s a self-fulfilling stance.

Second, none of this is a surprise. I said in the predictions threads that we’d be running about two-thirds choice-based this year. It was an obvious prediction a year ago. If you’re feeling shocked and betrayed today, it’s your own assumptions being yanked away.

Third, the argument is repetitive. Easy-to-use tools are ruining IFComp? That was Quest, Adrift, and Inform 7 before it was Twine.

Fourth… eh, fourth was too wordy. Skip that.

Fifth: no matter how much you dislike Twine, you’re hanging out with people who find it interesting and people who write it and people who think it’s part of the fabric of what we’ve been doing these past twenty years. Try to treat them like human beings. Try to treat me like a human being, because I’m there.


Ok, I didn’t want to say “parser is dead.” I didn’t even say it. I just got assaulted by the post: it jumped in my face and I had to react quickly. I did it wrong. Ok, so, before I go PeterPears on you all:

  1. Zarf. Are you saying that parser will be dead in 13 years?
  2. Zarf. I couldn’t complete A Change in the Weather in a month.
  3. Sam. You are too formal. Speaking of myself, I wasn’t being inhospitable. Anybody is welcome at my table. Even Twine.
  4. porpentine. I’m not discussing Twine, but bimbominkias using Twine. Sorry for the punctuation. And capitals.
  5. Andrew. you are right. Period. Sorry for being lame.
  6. Zarf. CPRGs and graphical adventures actually DID kill text adventures. At least commercially. But this is nitpicking.

Again, sorry. I don’t fear the reaper.

I would also like to remind everyone that there were people in the late 90s who were sad that games were getting shorter because of the comp, and people in 2000 or so who were super depressed because of the wave of puzzleless story IF brought on by Photopia, and people in the mid-oughts who were annoyed by the moral choices in games strand brought on by stuff like De Baron – in short, a great deal of what we now see as canonical, even essential to the development of the form, was at one point a threat to the status quo.

knowing your work will be automatically downvoted even if you put a ton of work, passion, and production into it is kind of the textbook definition of misogyny and discrimination

well said emily, zarf

On a less snarky note:

If you don’t like a game, don’t play it. If you don’t like a story, don’t read it. If a genre or medium (two entirely different things) is not your cup of tea, don’t spend time with it. That’s fine! There are entire genres of movies, books, music and the like that are not for me, and so I don’t spend my time with them, because it helps no one. They might be amazing for someone else, but not for me, and that is totally fine.

But don’t just blanket-vote everything of a type 1 without even engaging with them, because that’s just fucking petty. It’s also against the rules:

Now I feel like I’m half-betraying this place with my current project. Only “half” because I’m give players the option of clicking links to play if they so desire that control method. And that means simplifying the parser a little bit to accommodate that, too.

Then again, I am already a bit terrified of directly revealing my work to this place. Not to any fault of yours, but just insecurities and fear of being bad reviewed and laughed out of here. Of course you can still find it if you look around enough.

I’ll probably be less of a wimp some time soon, though.