IFDB curation questions

I imagine there’s some informal case law for IFDB over the past mumbley-whatever years that deals with these questions, but I can’t find any:

Sierra AGI games (early King’s Quest, Space Quest, etc.): Why aren’t they listed? They don’t fail rules tests like “entirely graphical adventures” or “significant text component” (there are plenty of text descriptions, and plenty of non-optional parser input). I’ll go on to chip away at this with missing ICOM titles like Deja Vu, Uninvited, and so forth (text descriptions, text represents actions, etc.) but first things first.

Original authors of adapted works: This one is bemusing. A few months ago I added a bunch of adapted works, crediting the code/design teams but not the authors of the original flat text. Someone came along and amended all these entires to add the original authors. “Okay, if that’s how we do things here, I’ll play along” said I, and adopted that approach in my workflow. Recently, someone else came along and removed the original novel author from a more recently adapted work I added. So it looks like there’s need for actual consensus on this point.


My suspicion regarding Sierra and similar high-profile commercial games is that they are not that difficult find information about on the internet, and some may feel it rather redundant to duplicate all that on IFDB. Few people are probably going to dig down to IFDB for a game that has loads of reviews on Steam and Metacritic and probably zillions of other blogs and websites. Sierra games still sell for actual money on Steam so why hop through IFDB when you can just go directly there?

That doesn’t mean you can’t make an entry if you want to write a review, but it does sort of feel like a step down the slippery slope of “This shooter/RPG hybrid includes choice-dialog menus, so shouldn’t these games all have listings too?” Not that they necessarily shouldn’t but the fact that nobody has done so until now likely means there hasn’t been specific interest in doing so.

That’s the good thing about IFDB is it’s publicly editable, so if you want to add something and feel its inclusion is worthwhile, you can.


I can’t think of a reason not to list the author of the work the game was adapted from. He may, or may not, have designed any of the game-play elements, but he created the characters, setting, and situations the game makes use of.

It could be possible the person who edited the entry might be somehow involved with the game and want the credits listed a specific way, contractually or by preference. There was a bit of discussion a couple years ago about attributing specific games to authors who didn’t want their byline/pseudonym associated with their earlier works, and that’s worth respecting. For example, there are authors who maintain multiple pseudonyms for different genres and may wish to keep their serious screenplay or budding YA career separate from some erotica they wrote in the past.

Or it might be possible that an original author may wish to disavow an adaptation if they weren’t happy with it or perhaps had issues certain people involved.

I agree that pseudonym’s should be respected until the author says otherwise, but I think what was being asked about was whether to list the authors of novels, or such, which were later adapted to games. They usually got credit somewhere in the packaging anyhow.

Edit-conflicts are to be expected to an extent with a publicly-editable database. All you can do is make the update and see if it sticks. If someone keeps changing it back, there is likely a reason. In most cases, there is likely nothing wrong with copying the text from the original credits or back-of-the-box.

And as you might remember but the rest of the audience has little reason to know, you were the pro-author-crediteer who added them to those entries and got me doing it.

(Also yes, you are right, we are discussing straightforward obvious avowed credits, not corner cases of pseudonyms or secrets.)

And I’d personally be content to say “anything with more text-per-minute than Myst feels like a fit to me,” but again, kinda figured this had been arbitrated at some point before now…

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One aspect to IFDB is that it has very little oversight (although it has banned users recently), very little communication between editors/reviewers, and a small number of users, so each one has a big impact.

This can cause dumb issues. I made a tag for IFComp Game so I could sort them all by ratings and number of ratings, and a mobile developer added that tag to their game. There’s no way to edit that, and I tried to talk to them to take it off, but in the end it’s not a big deal.

So I guess I’m saying that if you wonder, ‘Why don’t people on IFDB do…’, in a very real sense you are ‘people on IFDB’. You’re one of the most active users.

For the two specific questions you mentioned:

1- It’s just up to individual people. The AGI games are very similar to some games entered into IFComp recently. They’re also similar to Adventuron games, which are a popular genre right now. Why not add them?

For my personal preferences, I don’t enjoy playing games where the graphical component is vital (but again, people making them and putting them on IFDB is just fine), and I know quite a few blind people use IFDB to find games that they can easily play. Also, most games on IFDB are free (with notable exceptions, like Choice of Games). So I think that going beyond what you’ve described (like, hypothetically, adding hundreds of retro and modern games like Detroit, Become Human and Super Mario RPG) would dilute the usefulness of IFDB and, like Hanon said, make it a worse alternative to Steam.

But adding the 14 Sierra AGI games seems completely reasonable. Looking back at archives of rec.arts.int-fiction, it looks like people had a lot of discussions in the past on whether to include those games in IF, and the definition has only gotten broader over the years.

2- My personal opinion is that the authors listed in the game’s own credits should be the ones listed on IFDB, and the author of the adapted work (if not listed in the game’s own credits) should be listed in the description.


I’d like to strongly agree and underline this. Wikipedia has an open governance structure; IFDB is operating under BDFL governance by Mike Roberts. He rarely takes executive action, so the de facto governance is “last edit wins.”

IFDB doesn’t even provide you with a way to communicate with the people you may or may not be having an edit war with. So even if you convinced every reader of this thread that the Sierra AGI games belong and that adapted works should be credited to their original authors, it might not have any practical effect on the games you’re editing.

As for what belongs on IFDB, IMO one of the most important questions to ask is: does the author believe that their game is best described as “interactive fiction?” The second most important question is: does the author of the game-development system describe it as a system for developing “interactive fiction?”

Inform makes IF games because Graham Nelson said it does; Twine makes IF games because Chris Klimas said it does. I’m not aware of anyone describing AGI as a tool for developing IF; instead, it’s described as a tool for making “adventure games.”

As for slippery slopes, I definitely don’t see why the 14 AGI games would get on the list, but Sierra’s other parser-based games wouldn’t. (Mystery House, Wizard and the Princess, The Dark Crystal…)


Roberta Williams’ Mystery House and Time Zone both show solid roots in IF, and she quickly became a pioneer of graphical adventure storytelling.

All 5 Sierra games that have been mentioned are already on IFDB:



Well, again, my expectation was that somehow there was case law on this issue that people remembered even if it wasn’t easily findable in a search. An awful lot of community decisions have been made in this scene while I wasn’t paying attention, which was roughly the period between Textfire (v1!) and the ZIL code dump.

Not strictly true, just no private ways. (You can publicly comment on someone’s profile to get their attention, for example.)

I genuinely didn’t anticipate (but perhaps should have) that raising this question would stoke an argument for delete Colossal Cave, and indeed delete most pre-1993 entries.

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But the terms ‘Interactive Fiction’ and ‘Text Adventure’ were used mostly used as synonyms throughout the 80’s:


Some made a difference between the two (especially people interested in early hypertext), but I think Dan’s point applies to people who use the term ‘text adventure’ as well.


Straying from my original point here and I’ll let Dan speak for whether or not he agrees with that equivalency, but, I respectfully submit that if you wandered into, let’s say, the tape-load PAW/Quill/etc. scene and said “Pardon me, fellow text enthusiasts, but I consider your work fairly described by the term interactive fiction!” you’d probably get the old comedy gag of the party coming to a sudden, staring halt, complete with needle screeching off the record.

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That reminds me of this joke (adapted to remove self-harm references):

Once a guy moved into my neighborhood who seemed completely despondent.He came over one night and said, “Nobody loves me. Heck, around here no one even likes me.” I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?”

He said, “Yes.” I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” He said, “A Christian.” I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me, too! What franchise?” He said, “Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?” He said, “Northern Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”

He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.” I said, “Me, too!”

Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?" He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.” I said, “Get off my lawn, heretic!” and pushed him away. The nerve of some people.


I don’t understand your argument. Can you explain it in more detail? I don’t see how my suggestion entails deleting Colossal Cave.

I do understand the part where you think my suggestion is so wrong as to be a hilarious joke. That makes me think that maybe you misunderstood me, and it makes me worry you’re not engaging in this discussion in good faith.

Jason is quite right, as he frequents the text adventure communities, that we don’t tend to self-identify as “interactive fiction”. :slight_smile:

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“Text adventure” works for me, too.


I’m genuinely sorry if it came across that way, I was taking you seriously and was joking with Brian, not you.

To quote you again:

Applying these tests:

Test 1: “does the author believe that their game is best described as ‘interactive fiction’?” - I do not believe there is record of Crowther/Woods/et al using that term to describe the work.

Test 2: “does the author of the game-development system describe it as a system for developing ‘interactive fiction?’” FORTRAN has been called many things, but “a system for developing interactive fiction” was definitely not in the design spec, such as it was.

Which–okay cool!–but wasn’t what you initially said. It seemed like you were taking a deliberately narrow view for inclusion, right down to name-checking Nelson and Klimas to establish guy-behind-the-guy intent. Which is all fine and serious and not-a-joke-to-me and valid and whatever other endorsement I can give that will help defuse this agitated moment.

I just happen to be inclined to a bigger tent approach that says “Certainly Sierra marketed those products as ‘Adventure Games’, but if it’s got a bunch of text and mandatory parser input, isn’t it more like these other things than not?”