IFComp Judging Period - too long?

What do we all think about the judging period for the IFComp? Is 6 weeks a bit too long - I certainly felt that interest had ebbed somewhat as we got into late October. By the time the results came out it almost felt like the IFComp had been over for a while.

Here’s a graph of plays per day for Moquette:

Source data

29/09/2013 32
30/09/2013 181
01/10/2013 87
02/10/2013 188
03/10/2013 196
04/10/2013 142
05/10/2013 95
06/10/2013 44
07/10/2013 49
08/10/2013 32
09/10/2013 16
10/10/2013 22
11/10/2013 18
12/10/2013 18
13/10/2013 18
14/10/2013 8
15/10/2013 17
16/10/2013 10
17/10/2013 12
18/10/2013 15
19/10/2013 23
20/10/2013 10
21/10/2013 5
22/10/2013 3
23/10/2013 16
24/10/2013 5
25/10/2013 5
26/10/2013 5
27/10/2013 11
28/10/2013 8
29/10/2013 4
30/10/2013 1
31/10/2013 8
01/11/2013 9
02/11/2013 2
03/11/2013 11
04/11/2013 7
05/11/2013 3
06/11/2013 15
07/11/2013 5
08/11/2013 8
09/11/2013 1
10/11/2013 13
11/11/2013 6
12/11/2013 3
13/11/2013 2
14/11/2013 12
15/11/2013 5
16/11/2013 3
17/11/2013 6

Six weeks is not a lot of time to play dozens of games. I would not be in favour of making the voting period smaller.

I think that 6 weeks is about right, personally. I needed all of that.

(Given that we’ve got people in the thread next door complaining about reviewers being harsh and dismissive… I know that if you halved the time I had to get through the games, I’d be liable to triage them a lot more brutally.)


In my agenda, 38 games in 45 days are far too many. You almost have to play one game a night, or maybe 2 short ones every two. This means having no time left for anything else (given one HAS that time to begin with), which sounds inappropriate for a month and a half worth of life…
I was about sure that the playthroughs had another spread entirely. I guess checking one game is worth like checking them all, so it is pointless to go and see how other games fared.

This statistics are winding faaaaaaaar away from my perception of things, it seems.

This is very much true - as a non-voter, I kept thinking “Isn’t that thing over yet?”, especially on the lookout for post-comp versions - for them to be post-comp, the comp has to end first.

But it’s a necessity, I’m afraid. Voters/judges need this time. Plus, don’t forget that your game is web-only, and some people have confessed to start with the web-only games to “get them out of the way” (for various reasons, chief amongst them, I would imagine, that a) it’s still a bit of an alien at the IFComp, and b) it’s not really portable. I only have net at home, f’rinstance). So your chart actually makes sense - your game was in the first batch of games tried by a lot of people. In fact, it makes sense for any game - lots of hits for the first few days, then it dwindles. The REALLY hard bit is maintaining a steady number of people playing it, and that has nothing to do with the comp, it has to do with your game.

EDIT - Actually, you can consider yourself very happy that there wasn’t a single day where absolutely no-one played the game.

ifcomp.org claims there have been only 110 voters total, and 62 who rated Moquette. Is it possible that the initial spike is just people checking whether they can access the work, and the sustained “about-ten-per-day” tail is people actually playing? What’s counted as a “play” in your data?

I haven’t played the IFComp games for the last couple of years, but when I did I never once managed to get through them all in the 6 weeks available, so I’d definitely be opposed to the voting period being shortened. If anything, I’d prefer to see it lengthened or changed based on the number of entries - maybe 2 days per game?

I also suspect the timing of the EctoComp might have taken a good deal of steam out of the IFComp’s sails. There seemed to be lots of EctoComp discussion on this forum for a few weeks but not much in the way of IFComp discussion. Of course, I’m guessing there’s a good deal of IFComp discussion going on in the authors’ only section but as no one else is aware of that, it might as well cease to exist.

Seconding what others have said about play patterns. I usually start up every game during the first few days of the comp in order to get an idea of what works on my system and also what type of game it is. Then I come back and play to completion when I feel I’m in a good headspace to be receptive to it.

Another one who needs all the time I can get. Sadly I didn’t get through all 35 games this year, though I have managed all games in some past years. Yes I usually do get through more games in the early weeks, but I need the later weeks to judge more. I don’t have time for nothing else but judging IF comp games [emote]:lol:[/emote] And, as some others have pointed out, some games take much longer to play (even with the 2 hour rule) than others.

If the judging period is reduced I think there would be fewer judges judging games, and fewer votes overall. And that can never be a good thing, especially as we really want more and more of both.

Alex, with your game, I think it was so accessible that, compared to an Inform game, people were willing to pick it up right away. I know I played it earlier because I would be able to wrap my head around it. And I also came back to (try to) finish trickier games like OOxF, Robin & Orchid, and so forth. I was glad to have the extra week for that. My approach for authors’ forum reviews has generally been to observe the order and just bump a game back if it’s beyond me and I might not give it a fair review–as a result two complex but good games got bumped to the end.

Also, if there was a blog announcement about Quest games in the comp, the whole community would’ve checked it out & then put it aside.

I’d be interested to see what game-accessing statistics for ifcomp looked like. My guess is a decaying isotope curve. I could have kept snapshots of how many times people accessed my game over the ifcomp.org interface. Maybe the organizers can do this next year. It might provide useful data. Of course the main problem is, many people just download a zip of all the files on September 30th…so we can’t see who downloads what game, when. And even if we saw that, it couldn’t tell us if people wound up playing a game.

One game per day is a semi-brutal pace to get through it all. My opinion is, even ten games is a very good showing for a reviewer or judge who is busy with other things. I want them to have that time. As an author, it’s my job to find stuff to distract myself from worrying about the results. I’m quite happy with how I used the time not only to update my game but also to look into other things–game writing/planning or not.

And I was quite heartened to see reviewers able to make last-minute pushes for reviewing a certain amount of games and so forth.

If/when I don’t have a game in the comp, I also want that extra time to be able to look at games that were updated in-comp. Because I have had my share of dumb mistakes I’m not proud of, and while I can sniff out why a mistake happened and empathize with that, especially for Inform 7 games, I want to give the author the same forgiveness buffer I crossed my fingers for once I realized my game needed an update. I think the comp had a lot of games that made really good updates, and I don’t want a game ruined by an author getting blindsided, even if it was their fault in planning. If they have the ability and will, they deserve a chance to pass a few things they just missed that will let their ideas shine through.

And I think a longer judging period encourages that.

Alex, my stats looks more or less the same as yours, at least for people arriving at my game from the ifcomp website. Maybe the fact that we’re both relatively short web-based games has something to do with it?

I don’t mind having a long comp if judges need it, but on the author side six weeks is a long time to not talk about your game in public. Especially when there’s a whole other audience outside the comp that you could be talking to. I think it’d be great if either the authors were allowed to promote their games openly, or if other parts of the community went out and put a more sustained effort into promoting the comp itself. (Like, is it anyone’s job to connect with the gaming press for example?) You’d probably get a better flow of readers over the course of the event if more people were being made aware of it.

I’m astonished by your stats for Moquette. According to the IF transcripts, the OOxF* numbers were pretty steady throughout, typically 3-4 plays a day, maxing at 7.

Of course, maybe 100+ people tried to play on 9/30 and I just don’t know about it? I seem to remember the transcripts weren’t working then…

Full numbers:

[rant]Total logins:
10/2 - 4
10/4 - 3
10/5 - 7
10/6 - 6
10/7 - 3
10/8 - 4
10/9 - 5
10/10 - 2
10/11 - 2
10/12 - 2
10/13 - 3
10/14 - 3
10/15 - 3
10/16 - 1
10/17 - 1
10/18 - 6
10/19 - 1
10/20 - 4
10/22 - 4
10/23 - 4
10/24 - 2
10/25 - 1
10/26 - 2
10/27 - 2
10/28 - 7
10/29 - 4
10/30 - 6
10/31 - 4
11/1 - 0
11/2 - 2
11/3 - 1
11/4 - 1
11/5 - 1
11/7 - 2
11/11 - 6
11/12 - 1
11/13 - 1
11/14 - 5
11/15 - 3
11/16 - 2
11/17 - 2
11/18 - 2[/rant]

But this may also have something to do with the underwhelming blurb on OOxF. I had such a hard time coming up with a blurb I liked this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if people went “aggh, political!” and pushed it to the back of the queue.

[size=85]* This is the preferred abbreviation, not OOOF. But if you’re amused by OOOF, that’s okay too.[/size]

CVE - do these numbers take into account people downloading and playing the game in an interpreter offline?

I feel strongly about keeping our current nonpromotion rule in place. It’s amazing that IFComp hasn’t turned into a social media popularity contest, and I really hope it will stay that way. Keeping authors quiet in public is key - the 2011 XYZZY awards demonstrated this.

(Context: in 2011, Choice of Games mentioned the XYZZY awards on their blog, and the ChoiceScript community came out en masse and swamped the voting. It appeared to be accidental on the part of Choice of Games, but it still caused all kinds of headaches. http://www.intfiction.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=4340, http://www.intfiction.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=4361, http://www.intfiction.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=4574.)

Nope. OOxF doesn’t communicate with a mother ship; I have no way of tracking that.

Given the choice, I never play games online so there’d be no way of tracking whether I played any of the games I downloaded or not.

I very much agree with keeping the current rule, for the exact some reason.

Same here. That’s part of the reason I went pseudonymous, actually.

As for promotion, which I feel is definitely important for all indies, I’m fine with considering post-comp to be the actual official release of a game, and leaving my big social media pushes until then.

The EctoComp allows authors to post openly about the other games during the voting period and I haven’t noticed people clamouring for votes or deliberately badmouthing other games so their own gets a better look in.