Reasons for the silence

So, the IF Competition has begun. Like most (all?) other IF competition, there is a policy of silence: authors and judges alike are not supposed to talk about the games in public.

Supposedly there is a good reason for this policy, but I can’t see any. Surely, people would like to discuss the games as they are playing them, or just after completing them? And surely, you can make a better informed judgement when you have discussed a game with other than when you have played it alone, locked in your room?

So my question is: why is there a policy of silence? Does anyone know?

One good reason is that most discussion will center around extremes, games that people love or hate. I think a lot of people talking about X game would influence people to play X game, and if they don’t play all the games, those in the middle of the curve will receive less attention.

You could potentially get around this by including a ‘download period’ in the comp, where people choose their number of downloads and get them all in one shot without capability for downloading more until the judging is over, but I see so many problems with this it probably wouldn’t work very well.

Anyway, I think we’re stuck with it, like Victor I would prefer to have open discussion, but how to get around the problem of influence of the masses?

On a few side notes, who like me will play all the games?

Do you have a formal scoring system? I’m averaging scores in three categories for each game. It’s likely I’ll fudge the final score.

I’ve played some very, very good games so far and a couple of clunkers. One thing I thought about is that what restricts people, or perhaps a small group of people, from discussing the games among themselves? My impression is that the rules say don’t discuss the games in public forums, such as the newsgroups or blogs. Surely some people have been discussing the games among themselves. This is the first comp I’ve judged and I’m curious to know.

I don’t really understand your point about downloading the games. They’re all in one file, aren’t they? It’s not like IF-games are heavy downloads. [emote]Smile[/emote]

I can see how open discussion might make people play some games more and others less, and how this might be a problem. On the other hand: if we are trusting people to be impartial, informed judges, surely we can trust them not to restrict themselvs to playing only the few games that receive most attention? I am not convinced that there is a real problem here.

Part of me thinks an open discussion of the IFComp games would be a great idea. Another part of me disagrees.

For the first part, I like to have discussions about games while they’re still fresh in my mind. Waiting till mid-November to discuss a game I played in early October means that I’ll probably have forgotten half the details and won’t be remembering the game as clearly as I’d like to.

For the second part, I’ve entered a game into the IFComp. I’d love to see people coming onto forums and saying “great game!” but at the same time, it wouldn’t be nice if someone said “bad game!” It might not have a knock on effect with people reading negative comments about my game and deciding to either avoid playing it and marking it down in the Comp voting, but it also might have. I imagine if there was a lengthy forum discussion about how bad one of the Comp entries was, if I hadn’t played that entry I’d probably avoid it as a result.

Carrying on from the second part, I’ve also noticed a kind of sheep mentality where some games are concerned. One person says a game is great and then everyone else agrees with them. Likewise, someone says a game is bad and suddenly lots of people are agreeing with them and also giving it a hard time. A number of them might not even have played the game.

So while I’d like to have a discussion about the Comp games now, an open forum probably isn’t the best place.

Of course, if you have access to a private forum anywhere, you can discuss ‘em to your heart’s content… [emote]Smile[/emote]

I’m fully intending to this year. Then again, I fully intended to in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and never got through them all in the time period, and with there being more games this year… At the same time, I’ve been harsher in deciding which games to avoid this year. I had a quick look at the start of every game in the Comp and right off got rid of half a dozen games based on how poorly written the intros were or, in a few cases, the games were in a language I couldn’t understand or wouldn’t work at all.

If you register yourself an account on IFMud, you’ll find a place called the Spoilers Lounge. It’s pretty empty at the moment, but last year it quickly filled up with Comp reviews and comments. Why it’s considered acceptable to have Comp reviews on IFMud and not a forum during the judging period I’m not sure, but it’s one place to go if want to discuss the games and not fall foul of the rest of the community.

It’s way too easy to get an opinion about a game, even from a simple comment somebody else makes. What I like most about the IFComp (and other such competitions) is that it’s about the only time people have a chance to truly make up their own minds. If you haven’t read anything about a particular game, you start without a bias. You won’t skip it because somebody else said it’s difficult or poorly written, and you won’t jump to it right away because somebody recommended it. It’s a chance to see what people really think of the game, before everybody else weighs in.

It’s always interesting in past competitions, especially on entries entered with an alias. You can see people write a poor review of a game that ends up placing highly, or praise a game that ranks much lower. If you play an entry afterwards, you’re going to have expectations (good or bad) that wouldn’t be there if you judged it completely uninformed.

I really like that about the competition.

People are welcome to email authors with responses. (In one year, the mod forwarded an email to the author of an anonymous entry.)

I really enjoyed getting feedback about Trading Punches and Distress, even though it was mixed. I emailed some authors during the prior two comps, and they always seemed to appreciate the feedback.

I think a lot of judges don’t realize that it’s okay to email the authors, or else they’d rather not get into a discussion about a particular game until after they’ve casted their votes. … omp-b.html

And yes, you absolutely can and should email authors.

The rules mention the Compxx.z5, which is no longer used.

The IFComp page on the WIKI has a download for that. It’s in the links section at the bottom of .

Yes, please do [emote]:D[/emote] . This period is very tense indeed. As it’s my first competiton, I didn’t realise I was letting myself in for such an anxious period of waiting. Positively nail-biting - the fact that I can discuss things with the co-author of our game (the only person I know who plays IF these days) is the only thing keeping me going (ok, perhaps it’s not quite that bad, but it’s getting there).


PS, There was a subtle hint there - if you’ve played our game, it’d be great to hear from you. Good or bad. Really.

Yes, though I meant in a case where you didn’t want open discussion to influence the choice of what game to play within the judging period, you could have people choose which games they want to judge at the beginning of the contest and receive those games in one download. Like I said, many problems with that approach.

We are trusting them and we are not trusting them. For example, I learned about IF only this year (I had what you could call a cultural knowledge of Zork, but never played it through). I haven’t played that many games and am familiar with only a few more. While I try to judge a game based on its own merits and flaws, taking it for what it is, I like certain games and dislike others really just on principle. So the ‘silence’ provides a measure of impartiality that I otherwise lack. I admit it also makes me less informed. Which of the two is more important to judging is an interesting question, but I favor the former.

I suppose one possibility might be to have a hidden part of the forum where IFComp discussion can take place. It’d be a ‘private’ forum that isn’t accessible to guests or normal members but is only given out upon request and with the condition that nothing discussed inside is mentioned anywhere else on the forum. There’s a space on IFMud for Comp game discussion and reviews so I don’t see why it’d be wrong to have Comp discussion on a hidden part of the forum.

The way it’s set up on ifMUD is pretty carefully engineered to keep people safe from any spoilers, even “gee, there’s a lot of discussion of game X”: there are game-specific channels, and if you’re not on those channels, you don’t necessarily know they’re even being used; people are discouraged from reading reviews until they’ve already submitted their own votes, and reviews are not posted in such a way that people could stumble over them accidentally.

Anyway, if you do want to do something, running the idea by Stephen Granade would probably be a good idea.

Really? I just checked the competition site for this year and found no reference to it at all. In fact, the page that discusses how to judge the games says: