IFComp versus independent release

I’ve been getting used to Inform 7 lately and I’ve been wondering about whether I should aim to finish my WIP and have it tested in time for IFComp 2010. I don’t expect my piece to perform at all spectacularly, but this seems like a good way to get it out the the IF community. I was wondering what folks generally think about the relative merits of releasing a project through the IFComp or another competition and of making an independent release. I didn’t really follow the 2009 IFComp (being a bit distracted by my first semester of college studies), but I remember some reviewers of the 2008 IFComp complaining about brevity and lack of quality in many games. My completed project is likely to be on the short side, and I wonder if maybe it’s too short for the IFComp, even if the IFComp rules have a maximum playtime clause. Also, does the IFComp seem to be leaning toward or away from puzzles? I’m not very good at all with IF puzzles, so I tend to read and write more-or-less “puzzleless” pieces.

Your opinions and advice will be appreciated.

Kazuki Mishima

Well, the biggest advantage of releasing your game in the IF Comp (not really true about any other competition, unfortunately…) is that many people will play your game and write reviews about it – so you’ll get much more feedback about your game. On the other hand, if people don’t like it, the reviews can be harsh…

It’s certainly possible that some judges will complain if your game is too short, but unless it’s really really short, I think lack of quality would be a much more worrying problem…

I don’t think it’ll be a problem at all – on the contrary, puzzles might be a problem if they’re unfair or illogical.

I’ve never released a game in IFComp, and I’m not really interested in doing so. Too many rules.

As Eriorg mentioned, the main advantage is getting lots of reviews - the disadvantage is that many games are probably released in the comp because the authors know they’d never get as much attention elsewhere. It never ceases to amaze me how two dozen different people will seem to relish writing lengthy, acerbic reviews of the same untested, sparsely implemented puzzle game. And this year I think a lot of the more interesting, more polished games were released outside the comp.

That said, I think that if there’s a kind of game that the comp would be a good platform for, it’s smaller games that might not make many waves otherwise. But then again, people are more inclined (or at least I am) to play shorter games anyway…

Thanks a bunch for your responses.