IFComp 2015 is open for registration

Hello friends,

The 21st Annual Interactive Fiction Competition is now open for entry registration and prize donation! Please visit ifcomp.org to get started with either. (Or both?) We’re accepting entry intents through September 1, just like in 2014.

See the IFComp blog for a summary of a few things new since this time last year: blog.ifcomp.org/post/12294352895 … or-entries

And – just because I happened to notice it as the very first piece of press this year – a nice short summary of the Comp’s whys and wherefores by Pip Simon for the website Gameskinny: gameskinny.com/z3pe5/ifcomp- … l-sept-1st

I’ve peeked at the list of earliest intents that have already popped into the database, and feel as confident as ever in saying: It’s going to be a great year. I sincerely hope you join us as an author, a judge, or a prize donor! Feel free to direct any questions about the competition to me, either on here, on Twitter (@IFComp), or through email (ifcomp@ifcomp.org).

So excited! It’s nice to be able to discuss them beforehand too; does that mean it would be okay to do a ‘coming soon’ sort of launch announcement?

I made that rule explicit in the other direction last summer in reaction to one author releasing a (very clever!) trailer. (They took it down after I asked them to.)

Planning this year’s comp, I decided after thinking and talking it over that, so long as authors understand and observe the separate “no prior release” rule (in letter and in sprit), and they’re willing to go publicly silent about the game as usual during those six pins-and-needles weeks of judging, then pre-comp discussion of their work can actually work to the whole comp’s advantage.

All of which is to say: so long as you act with cognizance of the existence and purpose of the other rules (which I have no worries about in your case), your plan sounds fine.

My more restrictive interpretation of the rule last year also visibly caused some confusion over the potential 2015 field; I could see people expressing public sadness about it on social media as early as last winter, despairing that they couldn’t even blog about game development, say, or ask questions about game design on a forum, if they wanted to enter the next IFComp. None of that was my intent at all!

A thing I didn’t expect to learn, over my first year in this role: fixing rules is expensive, and not something to engage in lightly. If you see a problem in a contest’s ruleset, and decide to patch it quickly by changing or adding a rule, you will introduce unanticipated knock-on effects you’ll need to handle in turn. This topic came up during the recent hubbub over this year’s Hugo awards, and I did nod in deep sympathy.

Is it back up now? And what game was it for?

Can’t wait for this year’s comp! It will be even better than last year’s one! [emote]:D[/emote]

‘Intent to enter’ because I intend to enter.
Not the big one, sadly, that won’t be done in time. But you’ll see. You’ll all see. evil laughter coughing sigh door noises car starting sounds of car driving off into the distance

But yeah. There will be a thing. And the thing will be mine.

There also will be a thing that will be mine. I hope.

To the best of my knowledge, it didn’t return. And, for the sake of organizational propriety, I shall choose to remain mum on the game’s identity (though its author, or others privy to it, can say more if they wish).

Oh, ifcomp? Is it time to start coding yet? Oh, we have three months yet. (Gets back to important gallivanting in meadow.)

i’ve been working on mine for months and i don’t expect it to be done for next year’s ifcomp… o.o

What do you mean, gallivanting in meadow?!

It’s the central mechanic of the game.

Gallivanting is an action applying to nothing. Understand "gallivant" as gallivanting.
Check gallivanting when the location is not a meadow: say "You cannot gallivant here." instead.
Carry out gallivanting...[etc]

Report gallivanting: Say "La dee dee DEE dah dee DAH dee dee dee!


First of all: Yay! Go jmac. Looking forward to this year.

I’m thinking something that might be cool is a pre-release button for authors, so when you’ve got your blurb in and your picture, there is a page which shows the ‘entries so far’ with just the blurb and the piccie. Just to whet appetites sort of thing…hmmm…is this a good idea? I’m not so sure.

I’d be interested to hear what others think of that idea.

From my POV, the “Christmas morning” surprise of all these titles, blurbs, and authors’ names all appearing at the same time together every October 1 is a defining characteristic of the IFComp. Providing an official route to let people peek through the wrapping paper feels like it would work against that.

To be fair, nobody has to look at pre-comp information about upcoming games. People who enjoy the surprise of having all those games showing up together all of a sudden can still get it.

The traditional way the IF Comp works (which has influenced IF community culture and the way people behave even in other comps without those explicit rules) is that you work in monk-like silence until the work is done, and then you remain quiet until the judging period is over. I’m not sure I can personally articulate the value of that (not to say there isn’t any), but there are at least two problems:

First, the lack of any sort of traditional hype cycle makes the competition harder to publicise, especially outside of traditional IF circles. To people who are not involved with the IF community year round, the IF comp feels a lot like a blip - all those games suddenly appear. Having concrete news show up in the run up to the competition (people announcing games and so on) would make it more of a presence, perceptually.

Second, it kind of swims against the current of how people do game dev today. So much of it happens out in the open - screenshots on Twitter, Choice of Games’ WIP forum. Nowadays, people actually live stream game development during jams. IF culture has less of this than indie game development culture at large. Partly this is certainly due to the fact that screenshots of IF are not naturally exciting most of the time, but I think the Comp had a lot to do with developing that culture. So much so that when Zarf announced an upcoming game with very few details recently, a move that is standard hype-cycle stuff for anyone, it seems a bit unusual because it’s not really done in IF. And part of the reason why is that so many of the major IF pieces were comp submissions, meaning they never got an announcement or discussion before their release.

Maybe there is value to perpetuating those expectations, but I’m not really seeing how anyone’s experience (author or reader) is improved by the 2014 rule against talking about a game in development.

Since we have to submit intent to enter, occasionally I will put up just a weird placeholder for a game that I may or may not finish, or I’ll put up two titles speculatively if I’m not sure which I will complete. I wouldn’t want something like that publicized beforehand.

So long as the authors have a “CONFIRM FOR IFCOMP” checkbox of some kind so we have a bit of control over what is pre-publicized, I have no problem with it.

(On edit - reread the original post and I missed the “give authors a pre-publicize button” so that totally works)

Alternately, perhaps just wait until intents to enter closes, and publicize the list (with requisite spoiler tags for those who like Christmas morning) in the month leading up to the comp opening and game release. (Also, notify authors to have their blurbs in public shape at that time as well.)

I had simply assumed the point of such rules to limit the influence of Who’s Best At Publicity on the rankings… though granted, if it was really about leveling the judging field, I guess everyone would be required to use pseudonyms and the talking-about rules would be stricter.

Anyway, as a matter of personal preference, I enjoy that IF blogging and such tends to be content-heavy by proportion – analysis and reviews and assorted thinky bits – rather than dedicating as much space as video game blogs do to announcements about New Project!, Coming Soon!, Preorders Open!, Trailer Released!, Almost Here!, Today’s New Releases!, and then maybe a review or something. But I realize that commercial success etc. would have different priorities.

I am proud to announce I have just finished main work on my FIRST EVER GAME… It has been “completed” in under six hours. I’m just fiddling with it now but it’s pretty much good to go.

Please look forward to my game. It will be submitted to IFCOMP 2015.

And I will answer (pretty much) all questions you may have about it… except if they’re spoilers.

And only AFTER IFCOMP 2015 has ended, of course. [emote]:)[/emote]

Wes Lesley presents: [CENSORED DUE TO SPOILERS]

The requirement that voters vote on a substantial proportion of games would seem to solve that already, I think.

i wouldn’t say “solve”, but “limit”.

if EVERYONE wants to play the new Emily Short game that’s gonna get a lot of voting and maybe even a lot of bias, in either sense, so … yeah.
if my game only gets a dozen votes and by random chance three of those are negative, then that’s gonna have a bigger impact than when someone gets a thousand votes and, say, ten negative ones.

so it’s still there, but limited. I’d say.