For the last couple of years, I have wanted to change my scoring system to something a little more technical. Several times, I found games that didn’t really fit any definition clearly. Maybe the story was incredible but the game was buggy, or maybe the writing was great but the puzzles were impossible to solve. I probably could just scrap any sort of judging guidelines entirely, but when it takes four to six weeks to play every entry, I want to try to make sure the rating from game to game is fair and at a level of scrutiny that’s equal to all the others. If this doesn’t work, then next year I might just use my best guess and not worry so much with a scoring system.
But, here’s what I’m trying for this year. Feel free to borrow it, use it, change it, mock it, whatever. I might revise it in small ways before the end of the competition, but I think it’s fairly static now.
My 2008 IFComp Scoring System:
Free Point (F): (0=Unplayable, 1=Playable)
0 points if the game is not playable (disqualified before playing, obscure platform, crashes on start-up, etc). 1 point if it’s playable enough to be judged and voted.
Technical / Implementation (T): (0=Bad, 1=Fair/Good, 2=Great)
0 points if the game is buggy, poorly tested, broken, or implemented only at a basic level (just the minimum to support the core of the game). 1 point if the game works well enough to demonstrate technical competency, doesn’t seem to be just a “bare-bones” implementation, and works without exhibiting numerous problems or major frustrations. 2 points if the game excels on a technical level, where the game feels more alive and real because it’s responsive, well-coded, well-designed, and does a great job at handling most commands.
Puzzles / Interactivity §: (0=Bad, 1=Fair/Good, 2=Great)
0 points if the game lacks interactivity at even a good CYOA level, or if there is little to no point to this aspect of the game. 1 point if the puzzles are okay but could be better (maybe they’re average or below, too lacking in originality, poorly-clued or unfair, too simple, or in a game without puzzles, if the interaction is only moderately meaningful or interesting). 2 points if the puzzles are interesting, original, and fairly clued (or, in a puzzle-less game, for great and perhaps novel interactivity).
Story / Purpose (S): (0=Bad, 1=Fair/Good, 2=Great)
0 points if the game has no plot, a throw-away plot (“generic knight searches for the generic Wonder Sword and does generic stuff while battling generic RPG monsters” for instance), or no discernable purpose. 1 point if the plot is worthwhile and entertaining (but not necessarily all that it might be), or if the story isn’t the point, if the game’s “purpose” works as intended. 2 points if the story is engaging and imaginative, fresh, unexpected, and well-told (or in a game purposely lacking a story, if something highly worthwhile takes its place).
Writing: (W) (0=Bad, 1=Fair/Good, 2=Great)
0 points if the text is poorly composed, unintentionally choppy, or grammatically error-ridden in an accidental way. 1 point if the writing succeeds with little to no problem, but doesn’t inspire or seems to lack imagination. 2 points if the writing is immersive, expressive, vivid, entertaining, exciting, fresh – in short, really worth reading.
Reviewer Bonus (B): (0=No Bonus, 1=Bonus)
In prior years, this took the form of half- or full-point skews to the score or a plus/minus designation to the score. This year, a bonus point will be given for the same reasons. It may be given to a great effort from a first-time participant, or for “something” particularly enjoyable that doesn’t necessarily factor into the rest of the score. It may be given when “2” just isn’t high enough for some aspect of the previous four categories. It will probably also be given to my favorite of the competition, especially since it’s the only way a game can garner a “10” using this system.
Composite (SCORE): (1=Horrible … 6=Average … 10=Excellent)
The above points are added to create the composite, resulting in a score from 1 to 10. Games which can’t even be given the Free Point are not ranked or voted.
Example: F:1 + T:2 + P:1 + S:1 + W:2 + B:0 = SCORE: 7