A port to a different engine I would argue is a new game. That sort of thing isn’t 1:1 and the person porting it must inject their own interpretations and adaptations. I would say the same applies to translations. A good translation isn’t 1:1, but focuses on maintaining faithfulness to the intended theme and premise, even if literal translation is sacrificed. Both are a creative (and destructive) act.
It’s true they are a new creative effort, but IFDB pages aren’t primarily an author’s showcase or a reward for labor. The main use is to help players find, evaluate and pick out games they like. Separating very similar versions of a game into different pages spreads out ratings and reviews, making each page a weaker version of the original.
My personal (not speaking as a mod) opinion is that there should be separate pages only if it would genuinely benefit current players.
For instance, Anchorhead (original) and the new version share a page, and that makes sense. The old one has tons of reviews and materials that generally apply pretty well to the new one, even though walkthroughs don’t quite work any more and some issues with the original would be fixed.
On the other hand, the MIT version of Zork is a different game than Zork I, because it’s much larger and has a ton more puzzle before it was cut down.
It’s mostly left up to users when to create a new page. If people were creating new pages just for weird purposes that don’t benefit users (like trying to get a game into the IFDB awards that didn’t otherwise qualify), then that would be obnoxious. But I think the solution in that specific case would be to change the awards themselves so people wouldn’t have to go through extra work.
I vote every single one of the versions gets its own page.
(Seriously now: ports and translations should go on the same page as the original. Only a complete overhaul would qualify for a separate listing, crossreferenced to the original. Hibernated 1; This Place is Death and Hibernated 1 (Director’s Cut) by Stefan Vogt for example.)
I pretty much agree with everything you said, but I would like to comment:
Often this will be true. However, if the parser of the original was “horrible” after todays standard, and the “only” improvement is the excellent parser you almost get for free in e.g. Inform, then people may change their opinion from 1 star to 5 stars (exaggeration promotes understanding). So the ratings can become very misleading.
I agree (with reservations) for translations, because the different language versions might be harder to find if listed under the title of the original. If it were possible to add searchable alternative language titles to one page, then I would argue that they should all be on the same page. Perhaps pages could have some provision for translations built in.
With regards to other platforms, I strongly disagree. One of my own games started out in ADRIFT and I have since ported it to both TADS 2 and Inform. Someone else ported it to the Acorn Electron / BBC Micro. They’re all fundamentally the same game, with a few differences. If these were all separate pages it would be a mess, and the ratings would be meaningless.
On the one hand, it’s undesirable to have lots of extremely similar ports cluttering up search results and so on. And it’s nice to see all versions at a glance on one page.
On the other hand, when ports and translations all share the same rating, it might be unfair. A game’s rating will be dragged down if someone does a buggy port or a terrible translation.
(One could respond that the original author probably gave permission to make a port or translation… but a) that might not always be the case, and b) the permission should probably not be taken to extend to accepting culpability for bad ports and translations. Or maybe it’s the original authors’ due diligence to check them, if they can, but that does not seem very feasible in a hobbyist, non-commercial publishing environment.)
It’s not useful for players, either, if the rating doesn’t accurately reflect the merits of any particular version.
It seems kind of similar to how Amazon puts sometimes rather different versions of an item on the same page; a practice which people find more annoying than helpful, in my experience. If we keep that model, it might be good to add the ability to filter reviews according to which version they concern (like on Amazon).
Having said all that, I don’t have a strong opinion on whether any action is necessary; it might work out fine on a case-by-case basis as it is.
Alright, for those in the “merge everything regardless” camp, does it make sense to have En Garde and Faute De Servo as a merged listing?
They both already acknowledge the other as a translation on the page. Also, how do you determine which is the dominant language to write the blurb in? Some might argue that IFDB is an English-language site, but I would counter that the English version of the game is the secondary translation. The award-winning French version was published first and then it was later translated to English. Even ignoring the differences in the text that those two versions must have, it seems a little inappropriate to default to the English version of what is essentially a French game. Also, how would you search for the title if it were listed under En Garde? A strict title search for Faute De Servo would not return a result. Even if you decided the original version of the game should take precedent, and put the combined listing under the French version, you’re just trading the problem.
To a lesser degree, ports have the same issues. The different versions of Collossal Cave Adventure or Zork, mainframe to zmachine for example, may have completely different rooms, and regions added in, even though they share a name. Who arbitrates how different a version must be to be considered a separate game worthy of a separate listing? I mean, technically Paul Panks’ Ninja and Ninja II are two distinct games entered in different IFCOMPs, but they’re arguably more similar than some mainframe versions are to zmachine ports of the same game.
I don’t think anyone wants to merge everything. As you point out, different spoken languages have different titles so a listing for each language should be the norm. Also, only “few” IF works exist in different languages (compared to 10000+ games on IFDB).
With different versions it is usually opposite and I think it is okay to trust the users as long as they are told how they should approach new versions.
Yeah. As the IFDB system stands right now, every listing can only have one title, one blurb, one language tag, and one development system tag. If, say, the Spanish translation of an English game were simply attached to the English original’s game listing, it won’t show up when you search for games in Spanish. You’d have to already know that this particular English game has a Spanish version.
If we were to go with the “only one listing” route, I think IFDB would at least have to support multiple language tags and multiple dev system tags, the same way it already supports multiple IFIDs for the same listing.
Maybe I misinterpreted something I read, I thought there was pushback for separating both different language versions as well as engine ports due to fears of diluting reviews. I think that the potential for review dilution is more due to a different malady altogether of too few people playing IF games and even fewer reviewing them, but I can understand the concern and perspectives surely vary.
Maybe we could link different versions in a way that allows a reviewer to select or unselect which versions of the game their review applies to, with the default having only the version they’ve currently loaded to their browser being selected? I’m sure that’s a dev headache, though.
Absolutely, so if there were one page for the game, it would be listed under the French title, with the English version downloadable from the same page, and the page findable when searching for the English title.
As I said, I think there’s an argument for having translations be separate, but if there was a neat way to bring the different language versions together on the same page, all the better.
That way, if somebody in the future decided to translate Faute De Servo to Italian, that could also appear on the main page instead of being yet another orphaned page with yet another title.
Easy for me to say because I’m not the person with the skills to make it happen, but I think this is exactly what needs to be done. There are more and more non-English games in the archive and more and more ports as the number of devices and interpreters grows.
It sounds like having combined or joined listings that are separately searchable (Equally weighted and searchable titles) and “primary-tag”-able (language, system, etc) would resolve many of these conflicts.
(I am sorry if my technical vocabulary isn’t up to the job of accurately naming the concepts above, but I think it should still be clear to most what concepts I am describing.)