IFComp entry development systems - Unpopularity metrics up to 2022

I spun this topic off from Interactive fiction popularity metrics:

I analysed the spreadsheet a little to identify development systems that have been used exactly once:


Applesoft BASIC
BASH script
Commodore 64 BASIC
FB Messenger
Haskell TAE
Jupyter Notebook
Scott Adams



There was a C# game listed, and a C++ one. And while the TIC-80 (a tiny modern computer system I’ve left in the list) is programmed in C, it probably has hardware-specificity that makes it unique, so I kept the TIC-80 in the list. It’s also possible a game in the spreadsheet labelled ‘custom msdos’ could be C, though it’s probably a variant of BASIC. The upshot is, at least three variants of C have been used in total, and two in a hardware-independent way, so I’m not paying the C variants as development platforms that have been used only once.


I took the same approach towards flavours of BASIC. Multiple variants of MS-DOS BASIC have been used and listed in the spreadsheet (the majority of the games by Paul Panks) so I’m not paying them as one-shots. In the hardware-specific BASICs, my game Leadlight is the only one in Applesoft, and it looks like Nick Montfort’s Amazing Quest is the only one in C64 BASIC. I thought Paul Panks might have submitted a C64 game, but I think his IFComp entries were all MS-DOS.


Python has been used several times in IFComp and so doesn’t make the list per se, but things get grey. IntFicPy is a specific engine within Python that’s been used once, but could be used again, so I kept it. Jupyter Notebook - is that just Python? Does the hardware make a difference? I don’t know enough to kick it off the list.

One game with platform development ‘Dance’ is listed in the spreadsheet: War of the Willows. I know that ran in Python, so I don’t know if Dance is a Python toolkit (I couldn’t google it up) or a joke or mis-paste. Someone can probably tell me.


You could be unpopular, too! Just use a new and unique development system for your IFComp entry. Or, make yourself unpopular with the author of a game in this list by knocking their game out of this list by being the second person to enter a game into IFComp using the same system they used.




Wait, what?

Which game was this? I’m wondering if the author had reasons to leverage Godot, or if it was an engine they were really comfortable with. (Either is valid, of course)


This is Abandon Them by Alan Beyersdorf in 2019. I haven’t played it.

And the FB Messenger one is The Belinsky Conundrum by Sam Ursu in 2021.

Any others you’re curious about, just search the platform name in the spreadsheet. You’ll only get one result :wink:


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Infinite Adventure? I think that was written in Pascal, see…

…but B.J. will be able to confirm that anyway.


I wouldn’t read too much into Dev. systems I’ve listed in the spreadsheet. They were taken from a mostly cursory look at the IF Comp game files, in-game ‘About’ text, etc for obvious clues. In some cases I’d view the page source or code or follow a link to an author’s website. If I was no wiser after a few minutes the game would end up being listed as ‘Custom XXX’.

I included ‘Dance’ as a separate Dev. system as the author presented it in the accompanying txt files as a two player interactive system written in Python that they hoped people would add to or fork. My choice here was largely subjective.



I think they’re more than adequate for the entertainment purposes of this topic!



Yep. Pascal.
Screenshot 2023-05-11 234118

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As far as I remember it was a very basic choice game mechanically, so I would assume the system was just what the author was comfortable with.

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I’m surprised that there has only been one ren’py game in IFComp… I feel like there are more ren’py games out there than any other dedicated IF engine, but the community is so distinct from the IF community.


There was one ren’py game in last year’s Spring Thing. It didn’t get a lot of attention, but I liked it.

The Wolf and Wheel - Details (ifdb.org)

I’ve meant to start following stuff in that community, but haven’t gotten around to it.


Budacanta from Spring Thing 2020 was Ren’Py as well, right?

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I’ve added a Spring Thing tab to the IFComp by Dev System spreadsheet if anyone’s interested:

There’ve been 7 Ren’Py games in Spring Thing over the years:

Game Author(s) Year
Sunrise Lucky Sun Scribes 2015
Rough Draft Erica Kleinman 2016
Ultramarine: A Seapunk Adventure Seven Submarines 2018
Do I Date? Aurora Kakizaki 2019
Another Love Story Hélène Sellier 2020
Budacanta Alianora La Canta 2021
The Wolf and Wheel Jason Ebblewhite, Angus Barker and Milo van Mesdag 2022

Thank you, this is really cool to see! Interesting that they’ve shown up significantly more often in ST than in IFComp (although still not that often, relative to the number of Ren’Py games there are).


I feel like there are so many VN jams and that community seems so much bigger than this one, I’m not sure what you’d gain from putting something in Spring Thing or IFComp… unless you’re doing something that wouldn’t go over well there? Or you’re already involved with this community?

Also (wild tangent) I think they’ve been working on it recently, but up until just a year or so ago Ren’Py was completely inaccessible to screenreaders. Like, you get nothing at all, complete silence.


Question: Isn’t the entire point of using an authoring system to make your life easier (or to make the concept of ‘life’ possible, in the following context) through the world models? Otherwise your parser inputs are either going to be extremely limited, or it means you have to sit down and manually create a world model, where at that point you’re just making a whole other authoring system sand the fluff. Am i missing something here?


Some people really like the challenge of using other systems, either because they want to code their own IF from scratch, or because it’s a system they are already familiar with.

Personally I’d rather just use Inform 7. But I understand why other people opt for different things.

The big downside with going with something without the existing framework is that it may not go down well with the players. It can be more fun as a creation process than to play. So that’s always a risk. But it is nice to see people trying things different.


There’s a “what if the author was really anti-alcohol” joke in here, but me, I’m too classy to even allude to it.

(Note: I’d guess probably not, since, well, one character in the game asks for alcohol.)

Though I am genuinely curious what the author considers the Natty Light of programming languages!

For some stuff I’ve written, Regexes play a big part. They slow down the Inform engine. So while I like Inform a lot, the decision to stick with it was not trivial. In fact sometimes I have tried to make the program jump through hoops to do as few regexes as possible.

An example might be in my anagram games, where I have a bunch of tables that look at a condition first, and only if the condition is true, evaluate the regex. There’s one table per region and one table per room. It’d seem easiest to put everything in one giant table, but in some cases, especially with glulx, that would make text processing slower.


But what if we parsed every player input through a gpt thus setting all the strain server side? The ai can fill in the assumed intent, which means that the delay would be uniform instead of increasing due to game size… Regex free! (No i’m not biased and hopeful, this is absolutely a logical next step to eliminating regexes. Totes.)

(Also assuming every single game made thereon would require to be played online only.)