Notes on Spring Thing 2023 (Juuves)

Welcome. This is a safe space where I’ll jot down some notes and thoughts on Spring Thing 2023 as I play through things. You’re welcome to respond or add your own thoughts to the mix whenever you like.

This is my first live Spring Thing experience — I’m very excited! Thank you to everyone who put their hard work in to make this festival possible. You’re the real heroes :saluting_face:

Some opening notes:

  • A few of the games at the start might benefit from editing in terms of the English language. Grammar, sentence structure, what-goes-where, the likes, to fix run-on sentences or improperly formatted dialogue (for example). I’ll make a more explicit summary of such errors if or when I play those games through.
  • There are a lot (and I mean a lot) of really good parser games in the mix this year. I’m excited to parse through them, but I’ve put them to the back of the list simply because of their length and how long it takes to play (a couple hours, it seems like, for just one?). I’ve also become a bit more comfortable with parser games since my induction into the world of interactive fiction, but there’s still that little bit of dread of “oh my god, I can’t get the controls right” sometimes. I’ll try my best with the games this year :smiley:
  • So I’ll be trying to get the short ones out of the way first.

Pardon my dry language in this post. Cheers to another brand new year of Spring Thing :leaves: :clinking_glasses: and happy playing to everyone out there!

:warning: Obvious spoilers ahead. :warning:


Uhm… Yaay? I prefer measuring parsers in days actually…


Well done! As someone who’s written a lot of parser games, it’s great to see someone take this route. I know it isn’t easy to learn–it can feel counterintuitive with all the controls out there.

This brings up an interesting point–most authors want to know this but is there a best way for us to be contacted? It’s tricky because one wants to note these things, but also, listing them diligently for easy fixing can feel like nitpicking even if it was just paying attention to the text.

Re: parser games, I just wanted to check, you know about TRANSCRIPT and then leaving a comment starting with ; or * or whatever? It’s worked well for Mike Russo when he does his reviews. The transcripts are at the end as an attachment and probably just of interest to the author, so any mistakes found are very on the down low. But the transcripts are also useful for those of us who get stuck!

Oh and sometimes something you think is a dead end is, in fact, something we as parser authors should have implemented.


I don’t have an entry in Spring Thing, but I think I speak for most parser authors when I say that any nits you find when nitpicking should be reported to the author in a personal message (assuming you know their contact details). Every bug, spelling error and suggestion is always appreciated for a post-comp release.


If it feels nit-picky, treat it like an open fly. Folks definitely would like to know, but discretion is appreciated.


A Single Ouroboros Scale: My Postmortem by Naomi Norbez (Spoilers!)

Click here for notes

This is the first Spring Thing game I’ve played to completion this year. More accurately, it’s a work to be read through.

And it’s a very heavy one to read at that. There were mentions of illness, trauma, self-doubt. The author stated they were someone who had left religion. (And this is very personal, but) My own experiences with religion or even just organized faith have been confusing at best and self-destructive at worst. I am constantly questioning myself, my choices, and the wider world at large on the basis of what I’ve been taught and have been told to believe in; inevitably, that leads to the asking of questions such as: Can people be happy without religion? Without faith? Most importantly, can I be happy? This game brought such questions, or rather such feelings, right back up to the surface.

I have never released work (at least nothing of import), in the IF sphere or anywhere else, so I find it hard to relate to the author’s description of their struggles with external validation with their released work, or the issues they have/had with the IF community at large. For me it’s the internal struggle, that process where I imagine, create, try to transpose the details of my thought onto something durable, something there, and then try to finesse it that eats me up with my creative work. Once it’s out there, well, it’s really just out there then. Out of my hands and into the dirt. I get extremely happy for any stars or stickers (praise) the audience might stick onto my thing. I can get very prideful. But if I get criticism or just, no one seems to like the thing? I’m okay with it. I get that I can do better; I take the reaction into consideration as I see fit, I move on. Again, this might be because I don’t have the experience of releasing a lot of things into public sphere yet and therefore the mess of emotions that might come attached with audience reactions of your work. But my work, anything I do and the process I take to achieve it — it’s always been a very personal one. I do it because I really, just innately have to do it — or risk feeling very numbed out for the rest of my life, all those things rattling around in a cage in my head, and have my inner demons hound me forever. So I care very much if you did like it, but I could care less if you didn’t, if that makes sense. As long as you don’t come for my head when you criticize or otherwise give no attention to my work — those two things are separate, in my mind — maybe I’ll just not think of it, maybe I’ll do better next time out of thanks to your contribution to my work, or out of spite thanks to your lack thereof.

Anyways, that there got a bit long. I think, for the author, validation becomes important when you tie up your identity with your work, as it is with many other creatives. Which I can get. Sort of. In regards to the issues surrounding the community and what kind of output is encouraged and what kind isn’t, perhaps the author could be encouraged to check out other IF spaces different than this one to promote/release their work; on Tumblr, for example, choice-based and hypertext IF games are very popular, and representation, or diversity, for a lack of other words, is very present. I myself prefer the more serious/formal nature of this forum/community, and games-wise, tend to like more conventional works that focus more on storytelling / mechanics aspects than the ones exploring identity or relationships that are, for example, prevalent on Tumblr.

Okay that got a bit long and messy, and I’m sure that I’m going to look back on this in 2 minutes and cringe, but. Happy to leave it up for anyone else’s perusal. It’s just that this work had a very personal nature, which made me respond in an equally (if not slightly less) personal way.


:flushed: I haven’t played a lot of longform parser games, so it’s possible I don’t have the experience ……


Yup, got it! And thank you to everyone else who commented and provided to-dos on this situation!


This is the author, Bez. I deeply appreciate the lovely review! And thank you for sharing your personal experience.


Not at all - actually a really interesting and thought-provoking review that I read through more than once and has spurred me to go and check out the game. Looking forward to more of your reviews!


This is a reasonable point, but FWIW, across three years of posting transcripts of pretty much every parser game entered into Spring Thing, IF Comp, and ParserComp, I haven’t gotten any negative feedback from an author saying they wish I’d only shared the transcript privately. Meanwhile, I’ve gotten positive feedback on doing so from other players/judges – as Andrew says, sometimes it’s helpful for getting folks un-stuck in a game without hints or a walkthrough, and I’ve heard from folks who don’t enjoy playing parser games but like the opportunity to experience them by reading a transcript.

I definitely agree that it’s good not to be a jerk when pointing out errors – in some ways I think knowing I’m going to post a transcript is a good reminder that I should be mindful about how I flag issues! – regardless. And if any authors out there would prefer that I don’t post a transcript for their game, definitely just let me know!

Back on topic, @Juuves, I’m looking forward to reading your reviews!


I took Garry to mean it was a bit much to include nitpicky spelling mistakes/etc. in a public review - I don’t expect many people aside from the author would read the transcript, although I could be wrong!


I tried to catch spelling mistakes, but I know during release-stage testing (about 30 minutes before the submission deadline) one of my live testers discovered an object that wasn’t conjugating(?) correctly, and I didn’t have time to fix it because I was scrambling on writing the how-to-play guide. So I’m curious to see who’s finding that one first, lol.

But both testers managed to report a few final crash bugs during the group phone call, and I fixed those before submission, so if anyone posts spelling and grammar errors publicly in a thread, I’ll be relieved that this is the worst problem they encountered.

My testers were absolutely amazing and we tracked down a ton of bugs during development, but I cannot claim we caught everything.

I would deeply appreciate bug reports, either public or in a PM. It’s all useful data.

EDIT: Mileage may vary with other authors. I’m specifically consenting to having bugs and spelling/grammar errors publicly posted.


I think public discussion of bugs is probably a good idea, since other players might find the info useful.

I personally wouldn’t like having a public list of my spelling and grammatical errors posted. I mean, I wouldn’t pick a fight with anyone about it, but I wouldn’t be into it.

That isn’t done in any other form of media criticism, so far as I know.


Guessing flamewars on Reddit, Twitter, FaceBook, and YouTube don’t clear your benchmark for “media critcism.” :joy:

Don’t worry, they don’t clear my benchmark either.


Even in MFA workshop, we didn’t give people redlined versions of their stories. Most people would have interpreted that as hostile/condescending. There’s just no way to do that nicely in that context. Which is my background.

Not that this would be the same thing!


Last year people for the most part gave us bug+ typo reports via DM. Some bigger bugs (but not the biggest bug!) got brought up in reviews, but once we reached out to the reviewer they were happy to give more details privately. People don’t generally bring up spelling and grammar in public reviews unless they’re a consistent issue, in my experience.

I’m perfectly happy with how that went and I’d be happy for people to continue with that this year, although hopefully there’s fewer issues to find this time.


I agree with everyone that it’s generally best to notify the author privately of typos and other one-off spelling/punctuation/grammar errors rather than listing them out in reviews, but when it comes to more pervasive issues (like consistently incorrectly formatted dialogue, which is pretty common) I’ve never known what to do either. Issues like that honestly do have an impact on my enjoyment of the game, so if I leave them out of the review it feels a little incomplete to me, but no one else really seems to bring up that sort of thing, so if I include them, I feel like I’m being nitpicky and condescending. And somehow contacting the writer about it directly feels like it would be even worse.

Your Post-Apocalyptic To-Do List (Again, Spoilers)

Hogs. Lots of hogs. Not a lot in the gameplay district, just crossing off things off a to-do list, but still weirdly amusing. I liked the red-blue theme design + the minimal sound effects that went on in the game. It got a bit tiring doing the same thing over and over again and having nothing quite of import happening, so I guess that it’s fitting that I got a rather premature (I’m pretty sure) and abrupt ending. Weirdly enough, the worldbuilding seemed pretty solid or at least prime for further development, if a bit on the satirical side (which I guess is a main point of the game anyways, so). Not a lot of replay value, because despite this game being pretty interesting and all, I did not want to go back and click through another 50+ times to find another ending. Blame me and my lack of patience.

Some Personal™ Notes

Sorry for the shortness of this one. Got some compliments on my review I wrote earlier in the day, which has (+ some other life events of the day) weirdly made me very anxious & feeling pressurized, maybe because I was personally dissatisfied with it. Also maybe because I’m not used to receiving this much reaction to my reviews, so they always seemed rather private despite my still releasing them into a public sphere. Might be why my words are kind of only coming out in short, erratic bursts (like this) right now. Will need to go retreat for a bit, work through some games w/o thinking about needing to review them, or take a break and do some other things for a while. It’s okay, not a big deal, don’t need much commenting on this — will deal it w/ it on my own.

I think this might be a con of reviewing games as I play. Might be much better for me to do reviews for the ones I liked after I’ve played as much as I can, but we all know that might never end up happening. I’m not sure, we’ll see.

Ah, the pain of being a newbie at things.


About being on pace … this looks like the first time you’ve reviewed or attempted to review a huge chunk of games, and it’s natural to need breaks.

I reviewed all the IFComp games for '21 and '22, and certainly I had ebbs and flows, and I often built up a potential backlog of entries I felt might be tricky to review, and there were even some I liked but I needed to take a step back. I’m inspired to make a graph, not to brag, but just to see what it looks like.

And I can imagine what you mean about reactions to reviews! It sounds bizarre/contradictory but sometimes I’ve needed to step back after a positive review of a comp entry I wrote (!)