IntroComp 2011 - Winners Announced!

Howdy, everyone.

I’m still working to update the site to reflect this, but in case you missed the ceremony yesterday, here are the results:

First place: Choice of Zombies, by Heather Albano
If Heather finishes her game by July 23rd, 2012, I’ll send her $100 and she’ll get this spanky bonus prize, donated to the competition by Zack Urlocker (thanks, Zack!):

Second place: Speculative Fiction, by Diane Christoforo and Thomas Mack
If Diane and Thomas finish their game by July 23rd, 2012, they’ll get $60.

Third place: Choice of the Petal Throne, by Danielle Goudeau
If Danielle finishes her game by July 23rd, 2012, she’ll get $40.

There were also ten honorable mentions, listed below in no particular order.
The first of these games to be completed by July 23, 2012 will get $25:

Parthenon, by Charles Wickersham
Bender, by Katz
The Z-Machine Matter, by Zack Urlocker
Exile, by Simon
Stalling for Time, by Dominic Delabruere
Seasons, by Poster (MT)
Gargoyle, by Simon
The Despondency Index, by Ed Blair
Of Pots and Mushrooms, by Devi and Maya
Chunky Blues, by Scott Hammack and Jessamin Yu

I was asked today if I plan to release more than the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ranking order, and that’s a good question that I’ll be adding to the comp’s FAQ. The answer is no. I haven’t been releasing ranks beyond the top three (at least in recent years, can’t recall how I used to do it; I think at one point I released more, but never the entire grouping unless it was a comp with only three entries or some such, as we had three years ago). The reasoning here is that it’s a comp to encourage people to write, provide them with feedback, and give everyone an incentive to improve upon the initial work and finish their project, regardless of where they ranked.

Thanks again, everyone, for another successful IntroComp. I really appreciate the time all the authors, testers, and players dedicated to the effort!

  • Jacqueline

Congratulations to the winners!

Just for the record, from my perspective as an honorable mention, I don’t think this has the intended effect. The initial burst of attention the games got when they were announced is in all likelihood the most they will ever get; even if I finish my game now, I can’t enter it into any other reputable competitions that I know of, so the number of people who will ever actually play the finished version is probably quite low (especially since most of the people who might will have already played the intro, so it won’t even have the curiosity factor going for it). From my point of view, it seems I’d be better off cutting my losses and starting on a different game. (This is not intended as a bitter rant; I’m just speaking pragmatically. Have any IntroComp entries that didn’t place ever been finished?)

Very few games have been completed overall, so I don’t think the sample size is worthy of analysis, however… one game that didn’t place was actually complete before the comp even happened, there are a couple that were completed but not during the post-comp one year time frame, and one game has claimed a cash reward.

I’m open to reconsidering this MO, but I’m curious: how would knowing you came in fourth, seventh, or thirteenth in a field of thirteen help spur you to finish? A lot of the scores were actually pretty tight, so the relative ratings wouldn’t help a whole lot, really. I think that as an author you can gauge from the reviews you’ve read whether or not you want to bring the intro you’ve worked on to fruition or not. (Also, NB: Not being a frequent visitor to the forum, I don’t know from your handle which entry was yours or how your game was received; I could probably figure it out, but have chosen not to just for neutrality in this paragraph.)

And for what it’s worth, I have not abandoned my IntroComp entry from nine years ago. I know I sound like Duke Nukem Forever when I say that, but it’s true. And I’m not still working on it now and then because of what people said, but rather because of what that story means to me. I learned a lot from reviews, and that feedback has played into other (of the more serious) IF that I’ve done, as well as made me realize what I want Waterhouse to eventually be. There’ve been a few IF games that have taken a decade or more to come to fruition, and some of those were worth the wait, and hopefully Waterhouse will eventually fit into that category.

As an author I would certainly like to know how my game got scored. Since there were quite a few ChoiceScript games, I’d be curious to know how I did in the category of more traditional parser-based IF. I don’t think everyone who votes writes a review, so the numeric feedback is appreciated. (And I’d be fine with receiving that information privately.)

I wasn’t necessarily suggesting changing the policy, but…

I suppose this is what I’m really interested in knowing. Not to take anything away from ChoiceScript games, but I think they’re different enough from parser-based games that the comparison is not very useful.

Having a competition for unfinished games encourages the winners to finish, but discourages everyone else. Placing last in IntroComp is a pretty big discouragement. Grouping all non-winning games into an Honorable category with a prize for finishing is a pretty good way to compensate for that discouragement.

So the question is: why show only the first three? Why not show only the winner? Or show the first five? Or the first thirteen? I think the goal is to reveal ranks up until the point where revealing the ranks is discouraging.

IMO, that means revealing the ranks of approximately the top half (or top third?) of the contestants. Once you’re in the bottom half, it’s not more encouraging to be the top of the bottom half than it is the middle of the bottom half.

While I don’t agree that the ChoiceScript entries should be graded separately, they considerably increased the number of contestants. Revealing the top three games out of eight parser games is about right; revealing the top three out of thirteen is too few.

For thirteen games, I’d suggest revealing the top five.

To my eyes there’s no practical difference between getting honorable mention and placing last, in terms of discouragement. If every game that doesn’t place is classified as “honorable,” the “honor” is meaningless. And the prize just goes to whoever finishes first, regardless of quality. I don’t want to rush my game out the door just to get $25, so I have no expectation of finishing first. Thus, the prize isn’t a motivating factor, so the only reason to finish it would be because I wanted to see it complete.

Congrats to the winner! That Wheatley 30’s original is itself worth finishing the job. I’ve got the 70’s facsimile reprint, and it’s a real beauty!

Even if I’ve not been involved in the comp at all (haven’t even found the time to play any of the entries, shame on me! [emote]:oops:[/emote] ) just reading the sheer amount of reviews out there has given me some insight of what makes the audience blink (for good or bad) which will be of use if I (hopefully!) keep on writting IF stuff. So thanks to everyone, authors for authoring, reviewers for reviewing, and Jacqs for organizing! [emote]:)[/emote]

shammack, I would play your game if you finished it.

I’d say the disincentive is that the whole thing is framed in terms of “do you want to keep playing this game?”, which casts the losing games as “the sucky games that no one wants to play.” Not much of an encouragement to keep working on it.

This has more to do with ratings than rankings; if (as is theoretically, if not practically, possible) all the games had gotten an 8 or above, that would be something the authors would want to know, since all the games, if completed, might get a good reception. OTOH, if (as seems infinitely more probable) all the games got a 4 or below, that’s not very helpful to anyone.

Hi, folks.

I’m going to stand by my decision and intent here.

In the past, when there was no monetary incentive, I announced a certain percentage of the total field of entries (as Dan suggests above). Since introducing the first, second, third, and honorable mention – a move I made hoping that money might give people added incentive – I have gone to just announcing the places for which I award cash prizes.

The rules have been such for a few years now, sometimes with a small field, sometimes a larger one, and this is the first time that this has come up. This is the way the rules stood at the start of this year’s competition, and I’m disinclined to alter things now, after the close of the competition. It is, however, something to which I will give some thought prior to next year’s competition… but for this year I plan to leave things as they currently stand.

I hope that your personal investment in your story, the thing that first spurred you to write the introduction you wrote in the first place, will be enough to encourage you to finish it, and that the reviews you received will be helpful in improving the final result.

Thank you again to everyone who entered.

  • Jacqueline

I still want to play a full version of P. F. Sheckarski’s Storm Cellar. wistful


I suspect I may be taking the wrong approach to this competition, but what spurred me to write my introduction was that I had an idea for a mechanic that I thought might be fun but wasn’t sure if there would be enough interest to justify writing a whole game around it, so I thought that an intro would be a good way to test the waters. Based on reviews, I thought the experiment went pretty well, but the competition results seem to contradict that, and I’m not sure there’s enough of a consensus to justify the amount of work it will take to finish the game. At any rate, investment in the story has never been a motivating factor.

But yeah, I never intended to change your mind about revealing the results; just thought the feedback might be useful.

I think you should trust the reviews here. I didn’t play enough entries to vote, but speaking for myself, the mechanic really interested me, and the problems I had were with the implementation; mostly not the implementation of the mechanic but the “Do this to get past this obstacle” part of the game.

Once the intended solution had been spoiled for me, I realized that it was fairly clued, but it was still pretty confusing, perhaps partly because in the intro there are a lot of things like the cat and the fire door that don’t have any obvious utility. Still, given that a couple of us reported taking until 4 a.m., when a bug solved the puzzle, maybe that should be dialed back.

So I’d say, spend more time on the mechanism, and pare back the lock-and-key puzzles.

The thing that worth bearing in mind about Introcomp, and a lot of people miss: you’re not just pitching an idea, you’re pitching the execution of that idea. (It is not hard to think of ideas for great games. It’s very hard to make them.)

If the main thing you want to get out of a comp is a high placing, the safest bet is conservative design: established techniques, familiar genre, diligent implementation, conventional gameplay, no objectionable themes or avant-garde experiments. This is one set of values that the IF community has, but it’s not the only one; and it can still be valuable to enter comps even if your work doesn’t fit that pattern. (More reviews, and it’s pretty good advertising of the ‘here I am and this is the kind of game I’m likely to make’ variety. A reasonably interesting game entered into a comp will boost the attention paid to your later releases, in a comp or out of it.)

Too, voting results are a pretty haphazard representation of consensus, and should not, I think, be considered particularly more accurate than a survey of reviews. This is particularly true of a thing like Introcomp where the number of voters is relatively small. It’s not hard to tell, from the reviews, that there’s interest in Chunky Blues; that that interest is not unqualified; and that claiming that you ‘lost’ because you didn’t place in the top three is not realistic.

Always value reviews more than scores. (Regardless if the score is something that sticks to the review or someones vote in a competition.)

The experiment did go pretty well. The reviews indicate clearly that there is a real interest in the mechanic, even if people had mixed experiences with the game as a whole. The placement result tells you nothing except that three other games inspired more confidence in their current state.

If you are feeling a little winded on this particular project, you could write a new game based on that mechanic, with a new story that you care about more – and the results would be fresh and different enough to enter in another comp, if that was what you wanted – or just to release on its own. Everyone who liked the mechanic and wanted to see it again wins, and you might pick up some people who were not hooked by your first story/execution.

All I have to say about the comp results is that I find it disappointing that a web form (as opposed to a game) can place first.

You have to write a pretty good web form to win a game competition! [emote]:-)[/emote]

I’m reminded of this excellent tweet by Juhana Leinonen: “CYOA in the same comp with parser IF feels like bringing an orange to the Fruit of the Year fair judged by the We Love Apples association.”

That’s a little harsh. Any game basically reduces to a flowchart if you break it down far enough; ChoiceScript just starts out a few steps closer to that.