ParserComp 2021 - The Rules (Final Draft)

I’ll make an edit to the rules in the final version along with the official announcement etc to ask people to provide a downloadable game file. :slightly_smiling_face::+1:




Not all games will need an interpreter.

Some entries will have their own standalone systems. Downloadable “game files” are fine for well-known terps, but not for everyone.

So please don’t make this mandatory.


I brought this up on the jam’s “community” page at itch, but maybe it should be here as well.

As far as I can tell, there is no perfect way to do this on itch. If you create a game and submit it to the jam before the deadline, it will be visible on your own “creator” page. This particular jam is set up so that the games become visible on the jam page when the submission deadline passes, i.e., at the opening of judging, but that doesn’t affect their visibility on creator pages.

It’s possible to create a game as ‘Restricted’ and submit it to the jam, but then it will still be Restricted when judging opens. I think the author can lift the restriction after that point if the jam is not set to disallow game updates during judging. (This could be a heck of a tangent, but can we update games during judging? Given that this is one of the most argued-about rules of IFComp, I’m surprised that it doesn’t seem to be covered in the Parsercomp rules!)

So, short of being online at exactly the right moment, there’s no way to have our games released to both the public and the jam page (or ONLY to the jam page) at the exact moment the submission deadline passes.

Should we be allowed to release our games in, say, a 24-hour window before the jam opens? Or should we submit them as Restricted and de-restrict them in a window after judging opens? (If the latter, we need to be absolutely certain that’s technically possible.)

It may also be possible to do something using a scheduled release date - I’m not sure how that interacts with jams, but we could probably upload a project as Restricted, submit it to the jam, then schedule release for the exact deadline or shortly before it.


The way I understand it (well, the way I expect it to work, since documentation is sparse) is that this feature effectively puts the game on “pre-order”: the game page is visible, but downloads and play-in-browser links are hidden until that time.

Otherwise, I agree that itch’s jam system doesn’t seem to play nicely with the “must be previously unreleased at the opening of judging” rule, as game pages must be published before being able to submit to a jam. Might need some clarification on this @Adam_S

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I’m sure the interpretation is "must be previously unreleased somewhere else ", which means the games must be made exclusively for the comp. Overly strict interpretation will interfere with beta testing process, after all.

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Yes, previously released prior to the competition.

I did set it so that the submitted games can’t be viewed by anyone but me until the submission window ends and playing/voting window starts. So, even logged in, you shouldn’t be able to view the submitted games.

But, worst case, in case isn’t quite working as anticipated or expected then its still ok as the comp is up and running.

Hope that helps!

Adam :slightly_smiling_face:

Ok that’s interesting.

I get the issue now.

Well, providing it was uploaded during the competition and hasn’t been publicised or promoted prior to this then this is acceptable.

Anyone following a creator closely will get slightly early access to the playing/voting window which is not great and I hadn’t expected that.

I will look into this further, but for the time being I’m happy to rely on the date when the game was uploaded.

Thanks for raising this!


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Just a tech note: On itch, games that are in “Draft” mode are not searchable on the site, but anyone who browses directly to the “secret” URL (obtainable by pressing the button at the top of the game on the main page set to Draft) can still reach the page and play the game. I do this so I can post on itch and have testers prior to a full release.

Once the game is released, the secret URL redirects to the main page.



Ok. There does seem to be a slight loophole which wasn’t expected/anticipated however I don’t believe this to be too much of a problem.

Without giving away names of entrants I have looked at the entries and the corresponding creator home page and, oddly, there’s a mix. Of the games submitted some of them are visible on the creators itch home page and some are not. Presumably you can either submit direct to the competition or you can upload to your creator page and then submit from there … is my educated guess.

I’m going to fall back on the “not released prior to the comp” rule here, but with the acknowledgement that there is a bit of a loophole and if I run this again next year (which I hope to) then I will review the rules, understand itch better, and try to plug this.

So in short, please submit direct to the comp if/where possible rather than your creator page.



Noted, thanks!

I think this falls under the “not publicising the game with the exception of beta testing”; so if we see people heading over to Reddit (for example) with their secret URL and promoting the game then that is an immediate disqualification.



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Sounds sensible. We can probably live without ultra-strict enforcement of rules unless obvious foul-play or skulduggery is at work. After all, it’s not as though there are fabulous and expensive prizes to be illegally gotten (unless I’ve missed something…)

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Thanks - yes I think for this year that sums it up. Also, for further peace of mind, I can say that at time of writing none of the submissions have been sat visible on their creators home page prior to the comp. So whilst there’s an opportunity for some unscrupulous PR it hasn’t been acted on yet and, as you say, at this point it likely isn’t an issue.

Now - fast forward a number of years and lets say (theoretical blue sky thinking here) we’re getting 20+ entries, there’s a prize fund etc then yes it becomes a problem. I’ll have resolved it by then (hopefully!) :slight_smile:



I’m almost certain that uploading directly to the jam is mechanically identical to uploading the game for release and simultaneously submitting it to the jam. Maybe the ones that show up on the jam page but not the creators’ pages are marked as Draft or Restricted?

Any word on beta testing procedure? If uploading to the comp means nobody can access the game, then beta testers need some other way to access the game, which may mean, and therefore be accessible to public.

So, what is the proper way to send the game to beta testers, outside sending the games via e-mail? Some games may be too large for email.

If you set the game to “Restricted” visibility, you can allow access with a password, or generate individual “download key” links to send out to beta testers by going to Edit Game → Distribute → Download Keys.


I think Robin raises a good point there, and at the risk of sounding a bit like an annoying “rules lawyer” or know-it-all, I did ask pretty much the same question on February 5 in the rules drafting thread: :wink:

As far as I know, making a game available on the creator’s page means:

  • the creator’s followers on itch will be notified and can start reading about the game and playing it immediately (if there’s a download provided), much sooner than the start of the (public phase of the) Comp
  • and, if there’s a cover image and the game is provided (downloadable or playable in-browser), then it will also be “indexed”, meaning:
    – it will be listed in the general list of new releases on itch
    – it will be found if someone searches for games with the tags “interactive fiction” or “adventure” (or whatever tags the game creator saw fit to categorize it in, of course)
    – it can be added to “recommended” lists

I mean, strictly speaking, it’s not stretching the definition of “public release” at all to think that this obviously constitutes one.

But on the other hand, as I said in that other thread, “it’s reasonably safe to assume that this specific sort of public availability will simply drown in the sea of all new releases on itch? If so, then no undue attention will be generated, and the effect would be no more promotional than the open beta testing which is allowed by ParserComp”.

So, just to be clear, I’m not advocating here for taking any measures or changing anything now in the currently running comp. No harm done, no problem. :slight_smile:

But I think Robin’s suggestion is good: Ask the creators to set their games to “restricted” (which avoids the bullet points above and requires a password to see the game) and let them lift the “restricted” status in a 24-hour window prior to the public phase of the Comp.

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Thanks for this, appreciate the level of explanation and also the suggestion of a workaround (@robinjohnson)!

I’ll make a formal post to this effect and also update the itch comp page itself to include this.

@ramstrong This also resolves your query too I believe? Restricted means that only those with a password, namely your Beta Testers, can view it.

The amended rule then is that all entries should be set to Restricted and then made Public from the 29th May onwards. Beta Testers can be provided with the password so they can access and test the game for you within so there is no need to provide a copy outside of this.

Thanks everyone, appreciate very much this being raised and also essentially solved in an afternoon. I think a few of the points raised were indeed raised a few months ago but for various reasons must have bounced off me at the time; so apologies for that. All a learning curve for next year.



See How to submit a game to ParserComp without making it publicly available now. - ParserComp 2021 community -


After reading the above I am a bit confused. Which process should we follow to submit games to ParserComp?

  1. Upload our game directly to the the ParserComp page 24 hours before judging starts
  2. Upload our game to our personal page, mark it restricted, and submit it to ParserComp. 24 hours before judging starts make the game Public on our personal page.

I would prefer #2 since hosting the game on my personal page appears to allow me to have it both playable on the web and downloadable.

#2. When you submit to ParserComp, you have to point to the game page anyway.

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