Overall Comp impressions

Now that I’ve played all 79 games (except 2 big puzzlefests I’m drawing out for fun), I wanted to comment on general comp impressions without singling out games (due to comp rules for authors).

(Edit: I revised my count and now there are 38 parser vs 41 choice)

First of all, there are 40 parser or parser-like games (according to Zarf’s standard of counting hybrid games as parser games). IFComp has only had more than 40 parser 3 times before, ever. There are also 39 choice games, which is the most choice games ever.

How are the games? “It was the best of time, and it was the worst of times”. I handed out 7 scores of 10. I tend to be overly generous, but I’ve never given out this many top scores before. Every year, there are a few parser games that are obviously polished, with a strong voice, and which almost everyone will like; these tend to get scores of 7 or higher. In 2015, those games included Brain Guzzlers, Map, Sub Rosa, and Midnight. Swordfight, for instance. There are 5 or more games like that this time around. The level of high-quality choice games seems to have held steady or increased, with some incredible games this year.

Things are also worse in a way, but in a good way. There was a big influx of new authors this year, and some of them did incredible, while others seemed unaware of some standard expectations of the competition (in regards to beta testing, walkthroughs, etc.). This makes it hard working through all of the games, but hopeful because these represent new authors who can polish their craft and become a vital part of the communit(y/ies).

This could be called ‘The Year of Fantasy’. The proportion of twine games which focus on LGBTQ+ stories is way down, and fantasy RPGs are way up. There are 5 or 6 or more big, sprawling fantasy rpgs with randomized combat, weapons, armor, classes, spells, (and a few small ones) and many of these are done in Twine or Quest. Outside of fantasy RPGs, there are many castle-based games.

The quality of the peak-level games is extremely high. This comp has the equal (in my opinion) of Lost Pig, or of Metamorphoses. I encourage everyone to keep hope throughout judging; I can guarantee that everyone will find a game that blows them away.

This breaks the tendency of the issue “THE PARSER IS DOOMED” or anything?

Do we have yet that zarf’s graph about systems tendency?

I’m curious.

I haven’t updated my graph for this year.

How many games did you classify as “hybrid”?

I had 4 ‘limited parser’ and 4 ‘hybrid’ games.

There are a lot of blurred lines, though; the ‘hybrid’ ones were ones that allowed quadratic complexity in some way. There were a ton of cybertext games with parser-type gameplay (like Nightbound or Insignificant Little Vermin), but they didn’t have quadratic complexity.

What’s the working definition of “limited parser”? I was actually shooting for what I thought was limited parser by having a restricted verb/grammar set that was entirely explicated in the help. I love parser games but don’t enjoy “guess the magical incantation” at all.

There isn’t really any definition; I guess it’s more of a self-identification thing. Your game was always rich enough that I figured that you COULD do other commands if you felt like it; the ones I labelled as limited make the limitations the focus of the game, and you constantly feel constrained. So that’s what I was going off of was the overall focus.

A couple of people asked how I was able to complete then so fast: I beta tested 22 of the games, I used a walkthrough for any game that seemed buggy or where ‘x me’ said ‘as good looking as ever’, I skimmed ‘flavor text,’ and I have no other hobbies. Also, Hugo Labrande had a blog post saying I finished in 4 days in 2015, so I felt motivated.

Any guess why? It feels weird that there is such a huge shift in subject matter.

I’m one of the people who submitted a fantasy game — but this was also my first year ever, so I can’t see any shift myself. Although I know exactly why my game ended up as fantasy (it was originally meant to be space opera with a completely different premise and story, but the mechanics forced a sword&sorcery theme), I don’t think my reasons for fantasy are applicable to any other IFComp games I’ve played so far.

Flavor text? You mean, the game?! :stuck_out_tongue:

The definition that seems to be settling is “a parser game that condenses interpretive commands (usually) outside of movement, examining and inventory down to one or a few specialized verbs that do everything else, and are usually explicitly expressed to the player, either for simplification or gimmick purposes.”

This can mean that the game uses NSEW UD I, X and then USE for everything else. Instead of TURN ON LAMP, you USE LAMP. Instead of PULL ROPE you USE ROPE. Instead of GET BUCKET. FILL BUCKET. POUR BUCKET ON FIRE, you USE BUCKET. USE BUCKET. USE BUCKET.

EAT ME does it this year where your magic verb is EAT. THE WIZARD SNIFFER does it with SNIFF.

Sometimes this backfires I love Wizard Sniffer, but I keep typing ENTER LIFT. Dammit. SNIFF LIFT. PUSH 3. Dammit. SNIFF 3.

Well, in past years the huge overplayed genre was usually horror. It’s possible that with such a large number of new authors that “fantasy” is just kind of the default “adventure” game everyone makes. It’s not a bad thing. More than ever this year, there’s literally something for everyone.

Which are the two puzzlefests? I’m especially interested in playing those.

Me too! I want to play them! @craiglocke ?

I’ve played two longer puzzlefests so far; don’t know if they’re what craiglocke was referring to, but A Beauty Cold and Austere and VR Gambler would both fit that IMO. Former is math-based, latter includes text RPG combat too.

I jotted down some final thoughts about this year’s entries: blog.templaro.com/ifcomp2017-games-considered/

I’ve blogged my thoughts after judging. Link here.