Now that the competition is over, I’ve put up a website for the game which contains some explanations about some of the design decisions - just in case anyone has been wondering what-the-hell-this-guy-was-thinking.
What I can say in addition is that I’m quite satisfied with the way it placed in the competition. My initial call for testers included the magic sentence “It won’t do very well in the competition”. All the games which ended up in front of mine were very respectable entries which I enjoyed personally. So there is no shame in ending up behind them.
Generally, I was also happy with the reviews the game received. You can never please everybody, of course, so the range of ratings went from 10 to 1 - with the reviews citing ratings from 9 to 1. To be honest, I wouldn’t know how to rate it myself. I think there are good reasons for each of these ratings which I can follow.
What I found unfortunate was a few reviews of people who didn’t seem to ‘get it’ at all and then concluded the game was crap because of that. There’s always two sides to a player not comprehending a game. One reviewer even concluded that because the game I entered last year was buggy, this one must be, too. Some reviewers might want to consider the responsibilities they have when they publish some unresearched and unfair bashing of a game (other authors were hit much worse than me this year, of course): Your reviews end up in the permanent record of the game and the author. Thankfully, this was a small minority.
A general remark for reviewers: Almost none of you provides contact information on your websites. Please consider that this might be regarded as quite unfair as you’re not giving the authors a chance to react.
Since one of my beta testers brought up his fear of this game’s ‘bad’ placement reflecting badly on him, let me say that he (and the other testers as well) has been extremely helpful. Not only did the game turn out to be virtually bugless and thoroughly implemented thanks to them (not to mention all the help I received regarding the English language which obviously I’m not native in), but they challenged many of my design decisions as good testers should. This gave me the opportunity to reflect on these decisions, changing some, but retaining most. So these decisions were entirely my own. What’s even better, all my testers also had the great ability to critique a game based on the assumptions of the author. In the second round, that is.
I didn’t give them much information initially (not even the dedication text was in that version, then), just let them have a go. I was glad to see they all understood what I was going for. After their reports started coming in, I started explaining my motives. They all did a great job of helping me realise and implement my own vision of the game - which is what the perfect beta tester should. Thanks again to all of you!
If anyone still has feedback or just a transcript, I’d be glad to hear or see it! Thanks to everyone who played the game! Thanks to the other authors for the interesting discussions on the authors forum. Thanks to Stephen for once again running the comp. And, finally, thanks to Eriorg for his tireless work of linking to all those reviews in the IF Wiki - I think I’m speaking for most authors when I say that this has made the last six weeks a lot more bearable for us