Noob judging question

Sorry if this is a “duh” moment, but, even if our numerical score is supposed to be set in stone after two hours of play, can we go ahead and finish the game, and write a review based on our experience of the full game? Or are we supposed to quit at 2, do the review, and play more on our own time?

Separate topic, curiosity poll: does anyone else use a stopwatch like I am? I get so many interruptions from tiny humans that I could never determine two hours of actual play without it…


Anything you do after voting is on your own time. :)

Reviewing is not part of the formal IFComp process. People do it for fun. I mean, the whole comp is for fun, but the point is that the time rules don’t regulate reviews.


Yeah, I typically write my reviews when I’m done with a game, which is often more than 2 hours in if it’s a longer game (sometimes I even revisit them if I get stuck or hit a bug which later clears up!)

I probably should use a stopwatch since I have a lot of interruptions too, but instead I just eyeball it and err on the side of getting a rating in early.


I almost made a quip about that in my own post :slight_smile:


I’ll echo what Andrew and Mike said. Play 2 hours, give the game a rating based on those 2 hours, but then if you are enjoying yourself finish the game and review it here or on IFDB based on the whole game. IFComp is limited to the first 2 hours of gameplay, but I don’t think an overall review of the game should be based on just that window. While I’m not a huge fan of authors submitting 3-10 hour games to IFComp (which is supposed to be limited to games you can beat in 2 hours), I don’t think their ultimate reviews and ratings on IFDB should be limited to the same IFComp parameters.

In my own experience it is extremely rare that I will stick with an IFComp game for 2 hours, not finish it, and then quit it and never go back to it. Usually I’ll finish them so I can write a good review of IFDB, but my IFComp rating will suffer if the game couldn’t be completed in 2 hours (though I usually give about 30 minutes of grace since I’m a slow reader and frequently only finish a game in much more time than is listed on


Good to know. My own entry is WAY longer than 2 hours (I actually don’t ever remember hearing it phrased that you are supposed to submit something beatable in 2 hours), but I designed the intro/warmup game (contained within the game itself) to be standalone, and to reach a point (within 2 hours) of “Congrats, you’ve basically beaten a game! Now there’s a huge adventure still waiting for you, if you have time left, or like this game enough to play after you’ve done your other judging.”


If a game’s longer than the alloted judging time, I’ll score it and post some preliminary thoughts and comments about it on the Forum. I’ll then pick it up where I left off (either right away or after the Comp) to rate and review it on IFDB.

IFComp was originally conceived as a way of pulling IF into more “casual” gaming territory. (We’re talking 1995, the start of the IF Renaissance.) One of the first “short” IF games (that I know of), John’s Firewitch, was considered groundbreaking because folks could finish it in an afternoon and still have time to spare to make dinner. (Looking back, all the editorial reviews mention how compact and small, even “snack-sized” it is. By today’s standards, it’s a respectably sized puzzler to sink your teeth into.)

IFComp wanted to push this perspective on playing IF. There’s been a lot of debate over the years whether games substantially longer than 2 hours are fit for the Comp, if they should be discouraged or even disallowed (pointing the authors to SpringThing or another comp without length guidelines). The jury’s still out on the question, but for now we seem to have settled on “More than two hours is fine, just don’t complain when people judge your game without seeing the super-awesome mindblowing earthshattering ending you spent the past six months of your life coding.”

Or, in the words of the IFComp rules for judges:

  1. Judges must base their judgment of each game on at most the first two hours of play. If a judge is still playing a game at the end of a cumulative two hours of playing time and wishes to continue playing it, the judge must rate the game and not change that rating later before continuing play. Authors may write a game of any length they desire, but should keep this rule in mind when determining the length of their entry.

(John’s Fire Witch - Details (


It kinda does seem fundamentally unfair to a game, and maybe not as helpful to potential players or author as it wants to be, to post an incomplete play review to IFDB. Posting HERE though, during IFCOMP, a review according to IFCOMP criteria - that seems about spot on. The player pool is as constrained as the reviewer and that common experience is what is under discussion.

I think maybe it’s also fair to post incomplete play reviews if, at the end of two hours, the experience is not compelling enough to come back to finish.

Hm. I guess the fact that I have posted many incomplete play reviews to IFDB is now kinda bugging me. Good thing I’ve got six weeks of calm reflection to decide what to do about it! Yessir, no insane flurry of play and writing to distract me, just sedate, deliberate contemplation!


I mean sometimes you don’t have a choice, like if you run into a game breaking bug or the game is a demo.
I think there’s still value in partial play reviews. It’s still possible to be insightful even if you didn’t complete the game (and what’s the cutoff for completing? reaching an end? 100% the game?..).


I’m sticking to the 2h cutoff in the reviews as well for the Foru,. I think it gives a better snapshot of what was possible within the timeframe, imo.