IFcomp 2018 reviews

The next episode of The Short Game is up, with the following games covered (with their times):

00:03:32 En Garde by Jack Welch
00:14:57 Re: Dragon by Jack Welch
00:23:18 The Forgotten Tavern by Peter M.J. Gross
00:29:59 They Will Not Return by John Ayliff
00:35:23 DEVOTIONALIA by G. Grimoire
00:40:20 Cannery Vale by Keanhid Connor
00:55:36 And You May Find Yourself by VPC
01:02:31 Erstwhile by Maddie Fialla and Marijke Perry
01:07:36 I. A. G. Alpha by Serhii Mozhaiskyi


A couple more blogs with IFComp reviews:

Very belatedly, but I’ve just been dumping my reviews (not all of which are very in-depth) in a Google doc here.

Two Short Game episodes are up!

00:00:00 Intro
00:04:06 Bogeyman by Elizabeth Smyth
00:12:50 Erstwhile By Maddie Fialla and Marijke Perry
00:17:50 Within A Circle Of Water And Sand by Romain
00:28:41 Grimnoir by ProP
00:36:39 Other Notable Games
00:38:29 Let’s Explore Geography! Canadian Commodities Trader Simulation Exercise by Carter Sande
00:47:20: More Notable Games

00:02:09 The Origin of Madame Time by Mathbrush
00:12:01 Terminal Interface for Models RCM301-303 by VigiMech Corporation
00:26:04 Polish the Glass by Keltie Wright
00:33:27 Campfire Tales by Matthew Deline
00:36:18 They Will Not Return by John Ayliff
00:38:09 smooch.click by Devon Guinn
00:43:12 Awake by Soham Sevak
00:46:40 Urs by Christopher Hayes and Daniel Talsky

EDIT: So sorry - I caught the end of her stream and I misunderstood which games she played - she played the three others offline.

JenWithGlasses played I Should Have Been That I Am and Pegasus on Twitch, the video should be archived!


Added a couple of short reviews of a handful games I played.


[rant=violation of code of conduct about inclusive definition of Interactive Fiction]I wanted to start a thread, but fill free to delete my post here if it’s off topic.

So, any discussion anywhere in this place about WHY THE FUCK do we still have the chose your own adventures of twine mess in an ORIGINALLY Text-Adventure competition ?? Any real reason I mean ??

Thanx for the reply and please point me to when the “community” decided that Twine should get promoted via a traditional Text Adventure contest…[/rant]

edited by matt w

Twine games by definition are text games.

[rant=personal attack]If a 2 posts n00b says so… When you started playing text adventures ? Last year? …[/rant]

edited by matt w

Ifcomp is for any interactive fiction games, not just parser fiction. You can go to the official website to learn more about it.

The term “text adventure” is not the same as the term “parser game/work”. I agree that Twine is basically an ersatz, paint-by-numbers form of text adventure whose authors are over-celebrated, but it is, in the end, still considered on the level as parser games and no amount of complaining will change that (trust me, I’ve tried). There are other comps each year, including Parsercomp which, obviously, focuses on non-Twine (non-choice) offerings, so there’s plenty of focus to go around.

Also, did I just see someone with 20 posts call someone with 2 posts a noob?

[rant=violation of code of conduct concerning inclusive definition of Interactive Fiction; ahistoricality]Ok let me clear this up then.

Once upon a time back in 1994 or 1995 there was this first IFComp where even Tads and Inform were SEPARATE categories. It was not a good choice since both produce text adventures. So they merged them.

Later in late 90s-early 00s some newer people decided that for the outreach of the medium (which is TEXT ADVENTURES) we call this whole category Interactive Fiction. A bad choice since…

Later on people began experimenting with chose your own adventures books style games. Again, for the outreach of the medium “some” people decided we accept Twine and other CYOA stuff into our text adventure world.

And we have come to a point where you look at the results of the Ifcomp, and in the same category compete Text Adventures with those interactive novels/twine stuff. Which besides being unfair, irrelevant to the ORIGINAL SPIRIT of the comp (to promote TEXT ADVENTURES) is also NOISE for anyone not caring to browse through countless low effort stuff like this.

I really feel awkward trying to explain why Twine and CYOA and all similar otherwise different storytelling stuff are NOT text adventures and thus have no place here.

p.s. Congrats to the “wise” people who degenerated this comp into this shitshow.[/rant]

edited by matt w

[rant=personal attack]

Yes smart ass , look at my join date. Then his. And yours too. When I was playing Zork on the solid gold version you were probably not even born.

Thanx for the Parsercomp, I’ll look into that.[/rant]

edited by matt w

Thanks for the comprehensive history of the medium we’re all already working within.

Normally by now, I would’ve jettisoned such a conversation, but I’ll give it another shot.

Choice games and parser games differ only in how the player interacts with the game. Their levels of “agency” are different. But, spoiler alert, they are both text games in which a player navigates with text for more text. Once any graphics/pictures tip the scale to a more graphical game (Maniac Mansion, for example) then it is out of the bounds of IF.

So just because one game offers 3 choices per room whereas a parser game awaits the player’s specific reply, doesn’t mean it’s not on the same level as IF.

At this point, I think you should state some logical reasons why Choice is not worthy of being in the IFComp, rather than us trying to explain to you why it is.

Manolis’s feeling don’t matter, though. Ifcomp decided what type of games they accept. It’s not a contest for Manolis, it’s a contest for interactive fiction. I’m not sure there is a benefit to giving this person a platform to just rant about non-parser games. What is even the point of that.

[rant=violation of Code of Conduct concerning inclusive definition of Interactive Fiction]Man do I really need to say again the obvious ? That Twine/CYOA and Text Adventures are a completely different thing ? I even need to explain it ? Maybe even explain why the earth is spinning too ? For real now dude ? No sorry, if you want to believe the earth is flat I’m not the one to miss my precious time explaining this SIMPLE and CLEAR thing so I move on.

Regarding the IfComp which is our main concern, if you/they/whoever has overtaken it, thinks we SHOULD (…) have them too on board based on the “outreach” “commercialism” and other stuff that sneaked under the “interactive fiction” umbrella, then AT LEAST they should be a completely different category. With different prizes etc etc etc. They are different things and you can’t compare apples with oranges. I understand the love some of you have for mindless clicking instead of typing and exploring a world with various responses, outcomes, failed attempts etc etc, but you have to understand that there are still people who want to promote TEXT ADVENTURES. Not other genres sneaking and disguised as such which already have their own comps, sites etc.

And before you say anything regarding commercial Text etc etc, let me tell you that the first kickstarter I backed was Andrew Plotkin’s Headean Lands (still haven’t played it… no time). I also bought from the english text adventure company “The Shadow in The Cathedral” when it was new and he was considering of producing multiple games… And on and on…

In general try to understand that no matter how you like cyoa they are a completely different thing which poisons the original spirit of the contest and its purpose just because some $%#$ decided we should go for the outreach of the medium…[/rant]

edited by matt w


From the code of conduct:

That is in the code of conduct specifically because people used to start flame wars over the existence of choice-based games in IFComp. (If anyone seriously wants to know why that’s so flamebaity, PM me and I can point you to some of the relevant threads and discuss some of the relevant issues, when I have time.) Don’t do this.

To be clear, “I like parser adventures” is a great thing to say. “I like parser adventures and I don’t like CYOA” is also perfectly fine. “CYOA has such and such flaws” is OK, in its own thread, where it can lead to non-flamey discussion. (In general, don’t derail threads.) “CYOA doesn’t belong in the IFComp” is specifically forbidden by the Code of Conduct, as is “CYOA is bad and you’re bad if you like it.”

[EDIT: In particular, MTW’s post above criticizing Twine is not a violation of the Code of Conduct, at least not in my view, and not what I’m concerned with here.]

And of course personal abuse is uncalled for on these forums.

I haven’t had time to review the whole thread but at least for now I’m going to go through and rant tag the most egregious violations.

I remember when I was looking into IF many years ago, I saw that if you wanted to get a feeling for the genre you should at least play the top 10 from the Competition. With the influx of Twine, it’s drowning out the results for parser games. 2 parser games placed in the top 10 this year. That’s it. If you played through the top 10, you’d get a feeling that Twine is what is wanted. And now you’re paying people to make more of it.

And for the Parsercomp, it came out for one year due to a flame war that was started on these forums in 2014. There is no Parsercomp.

Choice-based games have always been part of IFComp, they just didn’t know how to write them outside of the parser format before. Ian Finley, author of Babel and later winner of IFComp, wrote several choice based games and put them in the comp.

The most traditional parser game this year, Diddlebucker, was written by someone who made one of the best early choice games in the competition.

Whoever your favorite parser author is, they probably made a choice based game. Even some of the early commercial publishers had choice based games.

There is a distinct possibility that, deep inside, you love choice based games but just haven’t realized it yet.

The definition of “Interactive Fiction” is constantly evolving and becoming more inclusive as people discover new ways for the player to interact. It has to do that to avoid becoming a relic of the past. “Text Adventures” are a beloved form and always will be, but if they didn’t change and evolve as all media does, you wouldn’t see the neo-resurgence of story games - Inform, Twine, ChoiceScript, other Choice-Narratives and hybrids - which build and improve upon the best elements of old-school interactive fiction, constantly becoming more accessible for new readers to experience and new authors to create. To be honest, if IFComp were just about parser IF, it would still be wallowing in obscurity and being declared a “dead” format. There is room for all kinds of stories and all types of interaction to experience new stories.

[rant]And realize this is coming from an original hardcore parser guy whose last two choice games placed 12th and 9th in the past two Comps, and whose last parser entry placed 7th, won 2nd for Miss Congeniality, and was nominated for Best Puzzles, Best NPCs and Best Implementation XYZZY awards. You can play my parser fiction still; I still plan to write them in the future.[/rant]
[And I’m also a friendly-neighborhood Mod]