Results of the 2010 IF Competition

The 16th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition has ended. Congratulations to Matt Wigdahl, whose “Aotearoa” took first place. The top three games were:

Aotearoa, by Matt Wigdahl
Rogue of the Multiverse, by C.E.J. Pacian
One Eye Open, by Colin Sandel and Carolyn VanEseltine(tie)

The winners of the Miss Congeniality contest were:

Aotearoa, by Matt Wigdahl and Death Off the Cuff, by Simon Christiansen (tie for first)
The Blind House, by Amanda Allen (writing as Maude Overton) and One Eye Open, by Colin Sandel and Carolyn VanEseltine (tie for third)

Congratulations! And thanks to all authors who entered!


Full results list:

  1. Aotearoa, by Matt Wigdahl
  2. Rogue of the Multiverse, by C.E.J. Pacian
  3. One Eye Open, by Colin Sandel and Carolyn VanEseltine
  4. The Blind House, by Amanda Allen (writing as Maude Overton)
  5. Death Off the Cuff, by Simon Christiansen
  6. Mite, by Sara Dee
  7. The People’s Glorious Revolutionary Text Adventure Game, by Taylor
  8. Flight of the Hummingbird, by Michael Martin
  9. Gris et Jaune, by Jason Devlin (writing as Steve van Gaal)
    (tie) The Warbler’s Nest, by Jason McIntosh
  10. Divis Mortis, by Lynnea Dally
  11. Oxygen, by ShadowK
  12. The Bible Retold: Following a Star, by Justin Morgan
  13. Leadlight, by Wade Clarke
  14. Gigantomania, by Michelle Tirto
  15. Under, In Erebus, by Brian Rapp
  16. Pen and Paint, by Owen Parish
    (tie) The 12:54 to Asgard, by J. Robinson Wheeler
  17. The Bible Retold: The Lost Sheep, by Ben Pennington
  18. Heated, by Timothy Peers
  19. Ninja’s Fate, by Hannes Schueller
  20. Sons of the Cherry, by Alex Livingston
  21. East Grove Hills, by XYZ
  22. R, by therealeasterbunny
  23. A quiet evening at home, by Ruth Alfasso (writing as anonymous)
  24. The Chronicler, by John Evans

Congratulations to everyone who entered! I didn’t get the chance to play a lot of the games yet, but it looks like there was something worthwhile in all the games. I enjoyed The Chronicler a fair amount, actually (eventually I may get around to posting my such-as-they-are reviews).

It looks like the all-important Golden Banana of Discord went to Leadlight and it wasn’t even close.

I would’ve posted earlier, but I only just got back from a cross-continent video-conference with the creator of Leadlight and all his other beta-testing minions. There was much sinister whispering and loud overbearing laughter and petting of ill-tempered cats. One participant was cut off for suggesting the evil plan had come to fruition.

Err, anyway. I’d like to echo the congratulations. I also found something in every game and was particularly interested and impressed by reviewers who managed to get through all the games. Every one who did had a lot of interesting things to say.

I vaguely wanted to try that, but I got distracted writing my own game, and I can see how tough it is to make even a few simple things go the way you want.

As much as “there are no losers” is a cliche, I think that’s really true. While I’d guess there were no shockers for anyone in terms of what placed where, it’s neat to see what the exact places are and also the distributions. I liked being able to hover over the graphics on the ifcomp page, too.

I’d also be very interested in what the authors have to say about their games or others’.

I have a postmortem going on my blog: The first part was in the pipe and ready to go, and I’ll be writing a couple more installments over the next weeks.

Several of the authors (including me) got through all the Comp games and put reviews up on the authors’ forums. I’ll try to extract mine and clean them up for posting as well. There are some good perspectives from the various authors – we don’t all like the same things, and that leads to some good discussion and analysis.

I thought this was a really strong year; I thoroughly enjoyed the vast majority of games and thought the overall quality was very high. When great games like The Warbler’s Nest, The Bible Retold: Following a Star, and Gigantomania are somehow placing in the middle of the pack, you know the competition was stiff.

Whew! It’s strange to be able to post publicly again! [emote]:shock:[/emote]

Yeah, I like that too. I was happy to see that Aotearoa had the lowest standard deviation in addition to having the highest average score; that is, it got consistently high scores. In fact, it got no 1s, 2s, 3s, or 4s, and only two 5s (out of a 100 votes). It truly is an excellent game!

Congrats to Matt and the other winners…! 8)


Indeed! Congrats, Matt! Well done.

Another interesting result is that Rogue of the Multiverse garnered as many votes as the more accessible, web-based Inform games. Glad to see TADS is alive and kicking.

Well, ‘alive and kicking’ may be a bit of an exaggeration. [emote]:)[/emote] There was one TADS game this year. And there have been years with about as many TADS games as Z-code games.

It’s somewhat sad to see the decreased use of TADS. I used to prefer TADS games over Z-code games. I’m not sure why, though. Perhaps it was just the nicer interpreter I could use to play them? With the Gargoyle interpreter, all IF games look alike (they do look great though – much better than with earlier interpreters). Or was the parser really better than the Inform parser?

I doubt anybody misses the ADRIFT and ALAN games, BTW. But what happened to Hugo? I have only played a couple of Hugo games, but I remember them as being excellent.

Well, while I’m in this thread, let me just thank everyone who tested, played, rated and/or reviewed my game, whatever you thought of it. [emote]:D[/emote]

ADRIFT is still around, largely through the efforts of a loyal community. I think the main reason there were no ADRIFT games this year was just because they’re all focused on the new version of the system that’s in the works.

And I think there’s an ALAN author floating around somewhere as well (outside the comp).

Running an interpreter isn’t more difficult than running a web browser (or a media player, or …) So I think the reason there are few TADS games compared to Z/Glulx is author choice, not player choice. And I guess the Comp results prove that.

Given that the lone TADS entry was a well-known author who has made some great games, I don’t think the Comp results alone prove anything.


It’s not more difficult to the comp judges who already have the interpreters installed and know how to use them.

I don’t see any difficulty in installing software. If someone has a computer, he can double click an icon and install something.

It’s a total no-brainer. And why exclude the comp judges? They’re people too [emote]:D[/emote]

I am not trying to prove anything. I just thought it was interesting. All else being equal, every game should receive the same number of votes, and the share of votes garnered by zcode or TADS games should depend on the number of those games entered in the competition. Plainly this is not the case.

I went back and compiled the results for the last four years, subtracting each game’s pro rata share of votes from the percentage of votes it actually received. The result is a crude measure of voter preference: a positive number means voters allocated more votes to that game than it should have received, and a negative number means the opposite. The greater the magnitude, the more pronounced that preference.

Here are the results by format.

(The preference index is not meaningful outside its competition year, and the totals are supposed to be zero.)

I would characterize this as demonstrating a clear and consistent preference for zcode games, a relative acceptance of TADS and Glulx formats, and a clear aversion to everything else. Whether or not those assertions would survive robust statistical analysis, I can’t say, but the preference for zcode games is hard to ignore. This year’s comp is also remarkable in that voters tended to avoid the Glulx games for the first time.

Here’s the Excel spreadsheet if anyone is interested.

It might not be difficult, but the thing is that not everyone who has a computer knows how to do it, or is willing to do it, or is allowed to do it. Installing software fails the Mom Test (for example my mom would not know how to install anything on her computer, but she can use a web browser). A casual gamer is unlikely to install something just to try out a game they don’t know anything about. Some companies don’t let you install anything on their computers so if you want to play on your lunch hour you’re pretty much restricted to web games.

It can be disputed whether online interpreters are bringing in more people to IF, but you can’t say that there’s a zero difference in effort between clicking a link to play online and installing and using offline interpreters.

Just for the record, I was addressing RealNC, who did say that something was proven, not you.

Thanks for those stats, which are indeed interesting. I can personally say that, for this year’s comp, almost half of the Glulx games were ones that I started playing, didn’t care for enough to spend more time on, and then didn’t vote on because I didn’t feel that I had played it enough to fairly evaluate. I wonder if the same might be true for others.


I strongly suspect that the apparent drop in preference score for Glulx games coincides with the fact that many peoples’ habits are shifting toward playing on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). That was certainly true in my own case–I’ve still played only one of the Glulx games*, because I now much prefer to recline on the couch or in bed to play (or play on the go). Right now, the only VM that fits the bill is z-code.

  • Blind House, which I enjoyed but hope to see an authorial postmortem about.


This is maybe idiosyncratic of me as a judging-type person, but I prefer to play games in-browser if I can, especially Comp-type games where I have no idea whether I’ll actually like it. There’s just something I don’t like about having a game sitting on my hard drive if I’m going to play it for ten turns, have it annoy me, and give it up. (Yeah, I know I can delete it; this is partly neurosis, though deleting it also takes effort.)

This year I didn’t vote, so I don’t show up in the stats, but I mostly only played z-code games in Parchment. Part of this was an unfortunate experience with Quixe – I used it to look at the intros of a bunch of games, but of the two I tried to play through the first one crashed (this was at the beginning before it was realized that it was bugged in Quixe) and the second bogged down gradually, which from what I’ve heard also may not have been Quixe-related. I also played Sons of the Cherry, because it was online, and part of Rogue of the Multiverse, because it was by Pacian (only part because my computer crashed). So I wound up in line with what Ben says, and also Erik.

Another factor is that I expect z-code games to be shorter, so I’m more willing to jump in when I only have a little time or when I’m not sure that the game will be worth the candle.

Last year I had a lot more time and played just about all the z-code and Glulx games, but the Glulx games were the ones I played last, and I believe I played every single z-code game in Parchment. I would’ve played a couple of the ADRIFT games, but I didn’t think I could; Zoom wasn’t working with them, and I didn’t realize Spatterlight would, partly because I didn’t associate SCARE with Spatterlight. Which brings me to…

I think it actually gets more difficult when you’re talking about different authoring systems and file formats. When I was first getting into IF any discussion of z-code versus glulx made my head spin, and I’m still not entirely clear on the concept of the .gblorb; it gets even more complicated when you add in .t2, .t3, and .whatever the ADRIFT extension is, not to mention all the trouble people had playing Robb Sherwin’s recent HUGO game.

In fact the media player isn’t such a bad analogy – your computer probably came with something that plays mp3s, but if you had to juggle a lot of .ogg, .ram, .flac, and .ape files would you navigate your way around all the different downloads you need, or would you give up? (In my case, I downloaded a player for .flacs, it lets me listen to .apes but crashes at the end of each track, and I don’t think I can listen to .oggs at all. And I listen to a lot of music on my computer.)

I may be a sampling of one, but…

For the record: I downloaded and installed Gargoyle because of IFComp 2010, and that was so I could play Aotearoa. (It just simply would not work in Parchment.)

Up until that point, I didn’t even understand there was a difference between Glulux and z code games, and I didn’t know about Gargoyle or multi-format interpreters. I only discovered Gargoyle because Aaron mentions it as his favourite interpreter for Windows in the front of his book. Until five minutes ago (yes, I opened up Gargoyle to check) I didn’t know it could also play TADS games.

So, nine months in, and I’m still finding out things most of you (authors) take for granted. Where that leaves a “casual player”, I don’t know…