Intfiction forum, 5/13/2016
"Post by Mathbrush - The real pattern that I noticed is that long games that were bug free got high scores regardless of content. You could write essentially any crappy game in the world that was long and didn’t crash and get high up votes.
Post by Juhana-Without any further data to support this conclusion, I’m afraid it might be a good old “all dogs have a tail, therefore if something has a tail, it is a dog” fallacy. Did you actually find any such games?
To me it seems much more likely that because making a long and bug free game requires quite a lot of time and effort, it’s probable that a lot of time and effort was put into other aspects of the game, too."
Personal Correspondence, 6/19/17
"I thought you’d be interested in an experiment I’m running. I thought about my hypothesis for IFComp games (that any long, bug-free, not-frustrating game will do well). I’ve decided to put it to a more stringent test.
I thought that having detailed room descriptions and object descriptions would be important as part of the ‘not frustrating’ part of my hypothesis, but Detectiveland was really bare boned.
I’ve decided to enter an additional game. I’ve written it up in about 5 or 8 hours. It is 150 moves long, and is minimalistic. Only standard verbs, no item descriptions, basic, generic puzzles with no common theme, minimalist text, a storyline full of plotholes, etc. So the puzzles, story, and writing are all barely there.
But it’s not repetitive, as the puzzles vary from place to place, and I’ll make sure it’s bug free. I’ll enter it under a pseudonym.
Hopefully, it will do poorly, perhaps even as bad as Recorded from 2015. That would show that you need to do Something besides write a long game.
It would be interesting if it placed in the top 10 or 15, though. If my theory is true, then reviewers don’t consciously realize what makes them like games; they talk about story and puzzle and plot, when I think it’s really just length without frustration. If it does well, I think it will cause some real cognitive dissonance as they attempt to explain what they like about the game.
Anyway, I thought you’d be interested in knowing about the experiment. It’s called Swigian, and is based on Beowulf."
Beowulf, c. 1000 AD
in the dark of night, a Dragon, to rage.
In the grave on the hill a hoard it guarded,
in the stone-barrow steep. A strait path reached it,
unknown to mortals…
spread hot round the barrow in horror-billows
…there laid within it his lordly heirlooms
and heaped hoard of heavy gold
Now the wrath of the sea-fish rose apace…
Personal Correspondence, 6/19/17
"Your feedback in general is very good, it’s just hard to know what direction I want to go with this. I only want to fix things if they’re in the formula: typos and bugs need to go for sure. But non-linearity isn’t in the formula; for instance, Photopia and All Roads are nothing but a series of ‘leading you by the nose’ puzzles with just a little less direction than mine. The game would be much better if it were non-linear, but I don’t think that’s what I’m testing.
The puzzle design is similar. What do I mean by ‘frustrating?’ Removing the exits and writing them in-game makes the mood and writing better, but is that part of the ‘formula’?
Anyway, you’ve given me a lot to think about. I think my rule will be that I will only fix something bad if I can’t find any top-3 game that does that bad thing. Detectiveland doesn’t have item descriptions, so I’ll skip those; the games I mentioned earlier are nonlinear, so I’ll skip that; but I think literally every top 3 game changes the default responses (even Cactus Blue and The Play are in a specific narrator’s voice) and does a good job with synonyms, so I’ll fix those."
Personal Correspondence, 7/22/2017
“Swigian is an experiment; I want to see how far my IFComp theories can take me. I’ve claimed before that puzzles, story, and writing are not as important as length, bug-free-ness, and mechanics/setting, so I’m entering a pseudonymous game with as little puzzles and story and writing as possible, but everything else as good as I can make it.”
Personal Correspondence, 9/19/17
"Would you be willing to look over a short game I’m entering anonymously? I’ve had a theory for a few years that the comp is primarily judged by length, setting and polish over writing quality, story quality, or puzzle quality.
So I’ve made a game that is long (takes 150 moves to beat), with a mildly interesting ‘Beowulf’ setting, but with minimal writing, no real story, and minimal puzzles. It only takes about 30 minutes to play.
Would you be interested in testing it?"
Personal Correspondence, 9/20/2017
"I’m entering an anonymous game that is purposely ‘stripped down’ with minimal writing/story and no real puzzles. It lasts about 30 minutes; it takes a lot of moves, but each of them are easy and quick.
Would you be willing to try it?
I’m entering a ‘real game’ too, but this is a project I’m interested in for theoretical reasons."
Personal Correspondence, 9/26/17
"Thanks so much! And you’re not late at all. I have this game (which is under a pseudonym) and a real game coming out that I’ve worked on forever.
This game is called Swigian. The blurb is “I don’t like to talk. Let’s build a fire.”
It’s intentionally bad in Some ways, but I want it to be as bug free as possible, with many synonyms and no guess the verb.
Thanks so much!"