Some result stats and some thoughts


Least played game: Cat Scratch with 20

Most played game: Arcane Intern with 128.

Scarlet Sails is only .01 away from the lowest standard deviation, meaning that people of all types enjoyed it fairly equally.


I’m very glad Final Exam did well. I was blown away when I discovered the alternate ending, and I was worried noone would find it.

Map was my favorite of the competition, so I’m glad it did well.

I think Spy Intrigue deserves to be much, much higher.

I secretly loved Recorded, and was sad to see it so low.

Does that mean I win the crystal apple of harmony? For a game of theft, murder, and death?


One thing I noticed which I meant to mention:

Every single twine game, without exception, got at least two “one” votes. This is particularly noticeable with the games that got high averages (where almost nothing gets a one from anyone, of course – except all the Twine games, which always get at least two). This heavily implies that two judges went down the line indiscriminately giving every Twine game a score of one.

There’s not really anything to be done about it, and I suppose if someone hates Twine then they hate every game made in Twine, but I thought I’d point it out.

It’d be interesting to see if it’s the same two people voting 1 every time. If they’re members of this forum, maybe a little naming and shaming is called for to deter people from doing the same thing in future.

Well, the voting is supposed to be anonymous, isn’t it? You name the voters, you’ll have a harder time next year.

Anyway, although this is not a practice I condone, I can see some reasoning behind it. In any voting system, a voter has power and has the right to use that power however they like; and if they want to use it to make a point about which games should be in the comp, it’s their right as a voter, and it’s just as right (or just as wrong) as voting every twine/parser/chocolate game an automatic 10/10.

Or maybe they just have an even bigger aversion to web-based games than I do, and rated 1 for every game they wouldn’t be able to play.

Or maybe they were just haters. Hey, I don’t know. But it wasn’t against the rules. Best thing that can be done, I guess, is for the rules to suggest - suggest, mind you, because it’s not something one can enforce - that if you do not believe a certain game belongs in the competition, for whatever reason, or if you were unable to even load the game, “no voting” would be better than “voting 1”.

This is already in the judging guidelines, though:

I almost think it’s worth adding a specific clause about development system in there.

If there was a separate vote (like a flag) to nominate a work as inappropriate for the competition, that could allow judges to recognise good work (with a good vote) but register that the work isn’t (in the judge’s opinion) IF. I can think of The Man Who Killed Time as a work with some merit as a story but which was fiercely criticised for not meeting judges expectations for an interactive work.

I think the guidelines are clear enough. Nobody’s running into this situation because they think “Oh, it doesn’t mention development systems or Twine, it doesn’t apply to me.”

If every Twine game got fifty “1” votes, I’d decide it was a wave of drive-bys who didn’t play the games but voted as a political statement. That would be a problem. But that didn’t happen. I can believe that one or two people played each of those games and said “Nope, still don’t like this sort of thing.” That’s not implausible and it’s not outside the spirit of the rules.

But what does “that sort of thing” mean? Birdland is a very different piece than Spy Intrigue, which is a very different piece than Taghairm. It also means that people who write in Twine have to factor in some number of low votes and probably a lower ranking right from the beginning, regardless of the quality of their work, which is – to put it mildly – discouraging and implicitly says “we don’t want you here.”

Tbh, w/r/t people who seemingly would get off on ticking a box to brand things as Not IF, those are precisely the people I don’t think ought be encouraged or catered to.

As much as I enjoyed Birdland (though not enough to complete it, as it didn’t have a save game feature and it was late and I wanted to go to bed more than I wanted to continue playing), I totally get people going “this sort of thing”.

Look, tons of people have rationalised it until everyone’s blue in the face, but the fact remains. A parser game is a qualitatively different experience from a choice-based game. Not better, not worse, not more worthy, not more frustrating: different.

I play every IF game I can get my hands on. Choice AND parser. But every time I play a choice game, I have a harder time getting interested. I just do. The medium does not interest me as much. I didn’t judge, and if I had I certainly would have taken my personal preference into account so as not to be unfair… but if I hadn’t, and if I’d rated all Twine games lower than all parser games and if I thought that that was fair and a reflection of how I felt about them, then I’d have done the right thing.

Missed it, thanks. [emote]:)[/emote]

Yeah, I’m not sure that’s a good idea either, though not for the same reasons. Games that people really feel are out of place will already naturally score badly - look at that cat “game” (not Taghairm, the animated Android thing).

Maybe we’re focusing on the wrong aspect. Look at it this way: just recently there was fiery discussion about whether choice-based belongs in IF at all, never mind the comp. And now we have only one or two people who’ve gone out of their way to downvote Twine games? That’s progress!

But it’s not about choice-based games at all. The same effect did not happen for Scarlet Sails and Kane County, one of which was written in ChoiceScript and one that, I think, was hand-rolled. (Both of which placed substantially differently, so it’s not about that either.)

[rant]Kane County did get one 1vote. Switcheroo is not Twine either and also got 1vote. Cape is Raconteur and got the same thing.

The Problems Compound had one person rating it 1/10, what are we to make to that? Was it the same person, thinking it was a web game? Was it someone else? Was it someone who disliked wordplay, or Andrew personally? Was it honest?

I don’t think we have enough information to start really assuming what it’s all about, or even that it WAS all the same person (though it seems likely), so again I have to wonder whether it’s worth all this. Lots of IFDB games have strange ratings.

So there was a little noise in the voting, to the tune of possibly two people (more likely one). Is it really that big a deal? They got drowned out.

EDIT - An interesting amount of games that got 1 also got at least one person voting 10. We’re not going to start reading into that too, are we?

EDIT 2 - No game gets universal acclaim. Birdland is imaginative and particularly well-written, but it’s also a specific slice-of-life that probably won’t appeal to everyone, not everyone plays IF for slice-of-life. This is just an example (because three examples were mentioned and this is the only one I’ve played). We should take that into account. Maybe there is Twinophobia. Or maybe someone just voted what they honestly thought the game was worth. Maybe that person played it through and then rated it, maybe they took a look at the first two screens and dismissed it. Again - this is not something that can be controlled, it’s part of the voting process, and that person has a right to form their opinion and then act on it (as long as they don’t pontificate on the game they didn’t play; they’re even free to be quite vocal about why they dismissed it, if they stick to the bits they saw. Maybe they’ll even get told what a game they missed and will be encouraged to try again!).

The rules already did a good job of addressing this, it seems. So now we take the results. Trying to shame the voters, or looking at the results with an eye looking for sabotage without any knowledge of how those votes came to be there, and whether it even was the same person… is that really useful?

Let’s say that Jason could get the IPs of the person/people who voted 1 for those games, because it’s the logical next step so that we stop talking about hypotheticals. Is that really something you want to do? Show people that your vote can get you in trouble after it’s tallied if you didn’t conform to what people thought you should have voted?

See why I think this may be a problematic stance?[/rant]

EDIT 3 - On retrospect, I may also be playing a part in giving this incident more attention than it deserves, so I’ve put it all in rant tags. I get carried away, as everyone knows by now…

I have a vision of people who anonymously vote 1 to games they haven’t played opening the door to a mob with pitchforks and torches who want to “have a little word” about their voting preferences.

I don’t accept the premise that people are voting in hate. Citing low ratings as evidence is circular. If you don’t have independent evidence - a voter exclaiming “I hate all [class of games]! I rate them 1 without trying them.” then you don’t have any evidence about why those votes were made. The assumption has been that 1-2 voters contributed a large proportion of 1-votes but it could just as well be a few 1’s from 10 or 20 or all the voters - are we all to be damned for not loving everything?

The rule against voting in bias only applies if you have a strong emotional response to a work. So long as you are dispassionate there is no reason to recuse yourself from voting. For this reason, I don’t believe the rule prevents conviction voters from acting.

IFComp has a rule that allows nerfing bad-faith votes, new last year:

We can only speculate as to whether those "1"s for Twine games came from a couple of specific people, but the IFComp organizers do have access to this information. If there are, in fact, a couple of specific judges who rated a bunch of Twine games with "1"s, then I think those judges were not making a good-faith effort to play those games as intended, and their votes should be disqualified.

Note that if Birdland had just two of its "1"s disqualified, it would be in second place instead of fourth place. IFComp is a very close race!

This is potentially dangerous. We do not know why those votes exist. We can not possibly know, unless told by the person who voted, whether a goof faith effort existed. And what can count as a good faith effort? If a game puts me off right at the loading screen, I’ve done a good faith effort - and the game just turned me off completely right at the beginning, and my vote will reflect that. Sure, the author will be pissed off at me, but I voted in accordance to how I felt I should vote, not according to a sense of masochim that forces me to go through with something that it seems clear at the outset I won’t enjoy.

Of course, my initial assessment of the game may turn out to be wrong. But I cast that vote in good faith.

[rant]Does anyone know the reader’s bill of rights, by Daniel Pennac?

A few of these apply to IF as well. And if the game/book doesn’t want us to skip, or to stop reading, it had better be good enough that we don’t want to skip or stop reading. And unless the rules actually say “A game has to be played through to completiong before voting”, then everyone is in their right to play - and judge - only the part of the game that they saw.

This last bit is the bit the authors hate, of course, and in another thread it became clear that Spy Intrigue suffered from it. But it’s part of the whole thing. The IFComp are not necessarily a captive audience chained to their seats to whom you can force-feed your game - they are people who voluntarily, and gladly, will play the game that it took you so long to make, and then will make a judgement. And if you lose them midway through, it’s your fault, not theirs.

…or maybe it’s no one’s fault, because it turned out that your game is completely not for them (it took me all of three turns to realised Kane Country is SO not for me). That’s acceptable too! It’s still the judges prerogative to judge the game low if they find it’s worthy of a low score. Some people will prefer to abstain instead. Personally I favour the latter - but the former is part of the whole process.[/rant]

EDIT - More rant-tags.

EDIT 2 -

Also note that Birdland also had 2/10 and 3/10 and 4/10. The 1s are not the whole story.

But the competition organiser doesn’t see votes, he sees ballots. Say there was a ballot that rated the parser games but gave every choice game a blanket 1; should that ballot be counted? I think that an obvious, bad-faith attempt at gatekeeping shouldn’t affect the final ratings. Furthermore, I don’t think anyone in the choice-hater camp can claim “dispassionate” opinions if they’re just slamming every game they think doesn’t belong with a 1.

Remove the word “blanket”, which is a subjective reading, and you’ll see why it gets tricky.

Having said that, I agree that it would look, in that case, like something suspicious. Maybe those ballots can be quarantined somehow? If the organiser suspects foul play, surely he has the right to confirm the validy of some of the votes. Well, he has the right to discard the votes as well, but I wouldn’t trust a competition where the organiser discards votes on suspicions until they’ve been proved founded, and thank goodness I don’t think the Comp ever had, nor will ever have, that kind of organiser.

Agreed. But then the pressure is on you to prove bad faith. “Obvious” is a difficult yardstick.

Again, I agree - someone truly dispassionate would abstain from voting. But “hate” and “dispassionate” never go hand in hand. [emote]:)[/emote] Someone who hates is passionate about it.

Also, “choice-hater camp”? You’re not being dispassionate yourself. [emote]:)[/emote]

Just a quick note - it does occur to me that cheaters prosper when reasonable and law-abiding folks are stupid and assume the best. I know that, and I fully realise that may be exactly what I’m doing.

But really, the thought of innocent people being assumed guilty tends to put me in this position. I’ll probably be proved wrong, as usual; I’m probably the sort of dunce cheaters like to have around them; but it’s not something I’m changing. I don’t like being a dunce; but I like the alternative (falsely accusing) less.