Son of Shufflecomp 2015: seeking an organiser.

I’m talking about this waaaay early, because it’s better than doing so last-minute.

I feel as though we could use (at least) one low-stress, fun, themed minicomp, after the style of Apollo 18+20, Cover Stories, or ShuffleComp, every year. I enjoy running that kind of thing, but in early 2015 I’d prefer to focus on the XYZZYs, and I think it’s healthy for the community if the role gets passed around.

That’s mostly in the hands of the organiser (and how they solicit and interpret community opinion). The main thing is that expectations applied to games should be lower than the IF Comp, but provide some encouragement to authors to produce something more complex than a SpeedIF or weekend game jam.

I personally think that it’s really productive to give authors individual writing prompts somehow - along the lines of Speed-IF Jacket, Apollo 18+20, Cover Stories or ShuffleComp - but that’s by no means necessary. (Another Indigo New Language-like thing might be pretty cool).

While I’m very happy with how ShuffleComp went, part of the draw was fun new thing. Part of it was experiment. If you have some ideas about what’s missing in IF events, this a great place to try things out. (Or you can decide to do something that worked before - that’s also fine.)

That depends on your schedule. For best participation, it’s probably a good idea to situate it somewhere that won’t clash too hard with the run-ups to the IF Comp and Spring Thing, or the IF Comp voting period. So there are two obvious slots to aim for - Jan/Feb, and mid-April-July. (You might also try to squeeze in an event between the end of the comp and the start of holiday season, maybe with a bit of an overlap.) But ultimately it’s your call.


  • Deciding what the basic premise is.
  • Constructing a set of clear rules for the event, and enforcing them.
  • Hosting the games and archiving them after the event.
  • Collecting and publishing votes (if it’s a voting event.)
  • Promoting the event across a broad portion of IF communities.
  • Managing volunteers (if you choose to farm out some of these jobs.)
  • Working to make the event a safe, supportive, fun space for all participants.
  • Handling things promptly and responsibly when parts of this go wrong.

The main things that the role requires is enough spare time, patience and eagerness to make the experience fun for everyone. You don’t have to be a rampant extrovert (I’m certainly not), but you need to be willing to spend a moderate amount of energy on promotion, explanation and addressing the concerns of participants. You should be willing to use a range of social media to get the word out, take other people’s points of view seriously, and be prepared to be flexible about your Big Idea in the face of community desires and unforseen issues.

You don’t. Anyone with the inclination can come up with a minicomp whenever and however they like! I don’t claim special ownership over any concepts of comps I’ve run in the past. I’m not trying to anoint a successor. I’m just trying to Encourage People To Take On Leadership Roles ™, which in no way means ‘handing off a job I don’t want.’

(If anybody doesn’t want the job, but has ideas about what they’d like to see, feel free to chip in.)

I really liked the constraints/prompts provided by the songs, but something new is always nice.

Random idea: there’s been a Cover Stories, so what about a similar Portrait Gallery Comp, where the characters in the story have to be inspired by pictures people submit (drawings, old photos, cartoons, etc.)?

A variation on the portrait gallery idea would be something similar to Shufflecomp, but with pictures instead of songs, and the pictures would be roughly evenly split between places and characters. Each participant would submit links to, say, five pictures of interesting settings and five pictures of characters. The links would get mixed up and redistributed. Like Shufflecomp, you could use any of the pictures for inspiration, or a combination.

There’s been some discussion of a minicomp inspired by the cooking show “Chopped”: entrants are given a list of random items from classic IF, which they then have to build a game around.

I am willing to help organize and run another competition like ShuffleComp, but I am not tech or web savvy enough to pull it off alone. I am willing to learn, though, and take instruction on how to carry out the duties that I can do.

So if someone wants to partner up, we can discuss it.


While I’m hesitant to promise anything this far in advance, I would be interested in helping out on the technical side of things.

If I were to take the reigns, I think I would prefer to follow the ShuffleComp schedule and aim for April. I would want people to start/complete their Spring Thing entry. Besides, isn’t their a minicomp at the end of each year?

From Maga’s list of duties:

Stuff I can do:
•Deciding what the basic premise is.
•Constructing a set of clear rules for the event, and enforcing them.
•Collecting and publishing votes (if it’s a voting event.)
•Managing volunteers (if you choose to farm out some of these jobs.)
•Working to make the event a safe, supportive, fun space for all participants.
•Handling things promptly and responsibly when parts of this go wrong.

Stuff I would need help with:
•Hosting the games and archiving them after the event.
Promoting the event across a broad portion of IF communities.


Based on @YouAreCarrying, yeah, the idea’s been mentioned. I’m personally not super-excited by it, for several reasons. One is that that format is pretty close to the ‘bonus items’ section of SpeedIF prompts:

That generally leads towards wackiness, as authors contort the story to accomodate as much of the weird stuff as possible. Which is fine, and obviously worked as inspiration for people in the past, but I’ve done enough of it that I’m kind of over it. (But now I’m thinking of the story-RPG Fiasco, in which the seeds for each game are drawn from four lists: Relationships, Needs, Locations and Objects.)

Everybody names a favorite character/setup, giving those four fields:

D’Artagnan: needs a job, hangs with his sword-fighting bros, in 17th-century France, owns the shiny musket of his father(*).

Organizer randomizes the four columns (skipping the name) and gives a four-tuple to each contestant. So your cue will look like:

—: needs to destroy the Ring, hangs with his partner the Soviet spy, in Downton Abbey, owns a lovingly-maintained '57 Chevy.

(* Yes, I made up the thing about the musket.)

For me the most evocative prompts would be visual, either of people, or places, or maybe interesting/mysterious objects (as opposed to standard IF props.) Talking purely of my own writing process, it’s more interesting to start from character, location, and the mood of a setting than manipulation of items.

Though Zarf’s idea does sound like a really cool way to produce random plots (especially if you allow yourself some latitude in the specifics: the '57 Chevy means a fancy vintage transport of whatever type, Downton Abbey means an isolated fancy dwelling, etc.).

I think part of what made ShuffleComp attractive was that people were able to share something personal with other people: their favorite songs or artists. It was like asking someone, “What’s your favorite music?” When you like something, you want to share it. And I think that attracts more people than just picking objects or things with funny names. I’ve been trying to think of something similar to ShuffleComp, something we all may want to share, but so far I’ve come up empty.


Yes, that was absolutely a big part of what I liked about it.

I’d love one day for there to be something like a Sherlock Holmes/mystery comp, but I don’t think it could be done as a mini-comp.

In addition, for me a big appeal of ShuffleComp was that it didn’t try to lead me by the nose. (And perhaps that there was the model of the Apollo 18 tribute, which showed off a lot of different ways to make games riffing off of songs.) Writing IF is hard, at least for me, and an external prompt that gives me an idea is really useful–but an overly restrictive prompt is going to shut me down completely. Working off something like zarf’s prompt or the inventory list seems like it’d take a lot of effort to cram in all that stuff instead of giving me one thing that inspires me and letting me put my effort into working out my inspiration.

Not that every comp has to suit my needs, but that’s my take on it.

On the personal side, the only thing I can think about that might be similar is places–but it’d take some work to come up with a prompt for that, and might be overly restrictive anyway. (Just “Burlington, Vermont” wouldn’t be useful; I could write a hundred words about Burlington that might inspire someone but writing is hard!) And it could be overly restrictive anyway. Maybe something like a person place or thing comp where people write tiny descriptions of, well, persons, places, or things and everyone gets a few?

I could probably offer webhosting again though we might want to plan that a bit more in advance.

To be clear, my suggestion would be a “use one or more of the following four” model. That goes for any #youarecarrying style prompt as well, I’m sure.

Is there a reason we’re not discussing a possible ShuffleComp 2.0 in this thread? Because I think we could wring at least one more mini-comp out of that idea, and also, more selfishly, because none of the songs I suggested got turned into games (that I know of).

I know, right? And I thought I had at least two great “Title of the song describes the gameplay” choices (“Don’t Go Into That Barn” and “I Can’t Find My Money”).

A few more possibilities:

As far as sharing personal favorites, perhaps quotations/passages from favorite books could be thrown into the mix? Alongside the list of story elements from a favorite story (setting, relationship, goal, obstacle/antagonist, an object, etc.), an actual writing sample could serve as a more personal introduction to a recommended author.

Or a multimedia comp, with favorite quotes, poems, art, and music. Anything easily sharable.

Regardless, I agree that it’s good for the participant to have a range of prompts to choose from. Just not so many that it’s overwhelming.

I think another song-based ShuffleComp would work, too. It would give some people who missed the first one a chance to join in.


The trouble with books, I think, is that they are not as popular as music. You also run the risk of people writing fan fiction, which I assume we wouldn’t want. And if we don’t want it, it would be hard for a judge to enforce. I think we would run into a similar problem with movies. Write games based on movie trailers? I’m not sure that would work.