The First Round of Game Updates for the 2011 IF Competit

I’m all for updates, generally speaking, but isn’t this going to make it hard for the judges?

For instance: I’m not a judge, but the other day I started - and finished - played Andromeda Awakening. I have a very clear picture of the game, and its issues. I know how I’d judge it.

Now there’s an update. If I were a judge, would I be forced to play it all over again? After all, if it’s an updated version in the competition, it’s going to have to be the one reviewed. But I would not wish to play it again, especially since a) the author didn’t even bother to change “Release 1” and b) didn’t bother to list what changes he made. I would not enjoy being forced to replay just to find out what bits he might have changed. But I can’t very well judge it based on a pre-update version.

Similarly, what if I was in the midst of playing one of the games when the update came out?

EDIT - Browsing through RGIF, I found your sort-of-answer to this question. But I also found:

Wouldn’t it make more sense to also have an updated .zip? You’re forcing some people who came late to the party to either download them all individually or download the entire zip and then individually update each game. Plus, some games like Dead Hotel seem to have more feelies that are available in the IFArchive links (which I find an aberration - it becomes hard to keep track of the “best, most complete” version to have).

Personally I wouldn’t worry about it. You judge the game you played based on the merits it had at the time, and that’s it.

If all judges based their score on the latest version, it would just encourage sloppyness: why bother testing your game beforehand when you could just submit what you have and fix it as the feedback comes in? Now you get docked points for submitting a buggy game in the first place when the judges who played it early rate it low, but you’re still rewarded for actually fixing the game as the judges who play it later will rate it higher.

Yes, that makes sense. Thanks.

It’s many issues, you mean [emote]:)[/emote]

I don’t think this is a Release 2 as I’ve just added 3/4 lines to the code. Will fix it up, anyway.

Where is it clever to post the relevant changes made to game? (question for the forum admin)
In the case depicted, btw, just avoid playing it again. There’s no need. I:

  1. added a few lines in the HINT verb
  2. added an EXITS command (this is the major change, as it may now make the experience less frustrating)
  3. corrected some typos who passed behing my exceptional testers’ shoudlers
  4. added some OUT commands for rooms that were obviously “insides”.

Nothing was changed in the game itself.

As Peter Pears said, these updates are causing me some conflictions as a judge. Specifically, I’m confused about how updates relate to the two-hour rule, and I would like an official clarification, if that’s possible.

I’ve only played four games so far, but two of are on the list of updated games. I finished both of these games well before the two-hour limit, reaching what I believe is the final ending in one and having found several seemingly satisfactory endings in the other. Since I still have a good amount of time that I could devote to these two games, I feel a sense of obligation to go back for as long as I can to get a sense of the improved versions. I especially feel this way about one game, because after playing it I explicitly felt that I could have given it one more point if only a few more things had been implemented. I will feel guilty if I ultimately cast the lower score for this game, knowing full well that some of the problems I originally had with it had been resolved!

But despite this feeling of obligation, I don’t want to go back and replay these two games for any amount of time. I normally just play down my randomly-generated list when I judge the Comp, and that’s what I want to do again. I probably won’t have time to play all the games in the Comp, and I want to play as many as I can in the judging period, without having to worry about the games I’ve already evaluated.

Furthermore, I feel a conflicting sense of obligation to the games further down on my list not to go back to the updates of the games that I already played, because as a judge I’m supposed to play as many games as I can, and those games deserve to played.

I hope someone can clarify this for me, and I would prefer an official ruling as to how updates relate to the two-hour rule for judges.

[spoiler]That’s odd. I could have sworn there were now messages in the area where you have to “push cliff”, appearing randomly, drawing your attention to the cliff that you have to push - something I was sure I hadn’t seen on my first playthrough.

Incidently, it’s great to have a chance to say this directly to the author - that was the point at which the game lost my trust. I can deal with purple prose, with you not being a native english speaker, and even with the ability to “TAKE SWITCH” and “TAKE CUT”. But the action of pushing the cliff… well, for starters, I thought I was on top of the cliff looking down (sometimes the prose is so purple it’s hard to really visualise). If I did think about causing a portion of the cliff I was on to crumble, it’d seem really, really suicidal. And quite apart from that, “push cliff” seems so… weird.

It was my first major issue with the game, the one that prevented me from really making an effort anymore (well, that and the strange phrasing needed to widen the cut when you have the bar). I’m glad I have a chance to tell you directly.

Also, I rather hope you release an italian version sometime. I’m sure it would read much better.[/spoiler]

EDIT - Also, your game is not always obvious, but it’s immersive enough for the need to check a walkthrough to really break it - and you know that once you go to the walkthrough, it’s hard to stop. I’d strongly advise you, later on - post-comp, if you wish - to add hints. Preferably adaptive. This is especially important since some of the puzzles are… well, rather baffling.

I can’t say I really care for the idea of updating games during the comp. What if, for example, someone wrote a review of my game and criticised a certain puzzle as being too hard/too unfair/too poorly clued. What’s to stop me including an update of the game that removed what they criticised? Or if someone said “well, I think the game would have been better if…” and then updating my game to include this? I think game updates should only be allowed if the software they’re written on has changed since the time they submitted their game, thus rendering their game unplayable through no fault of their own.

For what it’s worth, I’m basing my reviews on the first version of the game submitted to the comp. If things have changed since then, tough.

I know it’s kinda childish of me to find this amusing, but a line mentioning typos finishing with a misspelt word is just classic. [emote];)[/emote]

Well, you are right. I thought that was done before the comp deadline, but obviously it is not like that. Also, there are a few timed messages that you get at the railway bays for better pointing at the next move. I forgot about those, honest [emote]:)[/emote]

Well, to you and everybody else: I’d be GLAD to get tons of rants or suggestions. You can use my email as stated ingame in the ABOUT command.
Really. That means more than a review to me.

Also: yes, I’m inclined to do a “Final Cut” version of A-A and it will count on adaptive hints and many more features. And (oh, no…) more rooms and bulky, purple-prosed texts!

Two, actually [emote]:)[/emote]

As strange as it may seem, given I’m one of those who uploaded a “better” version, lately, I’m in the same mood. In my case, as it appears, I even tried to better one’s playthrough by adding hints… and making the game less frustrating.

In all honesty, this shouldn’t be allowed. If only for the fact now the deadline is november, 15.

(although I sound crazy, in this context… bah)

Darn, missed that one.

[size=65]And it should be “typos which”, not “typos who”.[/size]

lol I surrender [emote]:)[/emote]

As a player, I want authors to do that.* It increases the chance that I’ll get to play a good game. And as Juhana said, these authors will still get penalized by the judges who play

*If they can do it without breaking the game. In one very well-written but not so well implemented entry in the JayIsGames IF comp, the author said he implemented a fix to the way the drainpipe worked, which wound up breaking the drainpipe completely. I mean, “x drainpipe you can’t see any such thing” levels of breaking the drainpipe. I’m still not sure how he managed to do that, but the point is, since authors probably don’t have time to beta-test their updates that discourages any wholesale changes, I think.

That’s a perfectly valid approach to take. I’ll play updated versions if I haven’t played the game yet, but if a game is updated after I’ve played it, I don’t intend to replay the update unless there’s reason to think it’ll really improve my experience (or I’ve played everything else I can play an I’m curious).

I think this is entirely logical.

I’m not a comp author or official, but my take on this is:

– it’s a good thing for games to be updateable during the comp, because it means authors have an incentive to make fixes that they might not bother to come back to afterwards. I can’t count the number of games (including some of my own!) that have been released in comps, could really have used a v2 release to fix a few obvious bugs or implementation gaps, but never got one because the author moved on or felt demotivated once the competition was over. Mid-comp updates means (IMO) a likelihood of a better finished crop. This benefits everyone.

– it’s appropriate for judges to score based on the version they played when they played it. This means that authors who released an initially flawless game will still come out ahead of those who released a buggy one and then fixed it (assuming the games are otherwise of equal quality). That seems fair to me.

– this system also provides more incentive for judges to provide mid-comp feedback, because by doing so they are actively making the comp experience better for everyone else.

My only objection, if any, would be that early reviewed entries hava a better chance to get higher scores later in the comp as some flaws might have been exposed and fixed. I’m sure that won’t make any substantial differences in the final comp results, but still I can’t help seeing it a bit unfair…

… but just a bit, so don’t think of it as a reason to be against updating! [emote]:)[/emote]

Updates may make standard deviation mostly meaningless. Since an updated game will have been played and rated at different states of quality and implementation, a high standard deviation will no longer necessarily mean that a game caused both strongly positive and negative responses among the judges.

May our highly esteemed discordant fruit rest in peace. [emote];)[/emote]

Would it be too complicated to ask judges to also mark down which “release” their score applies to as well? If we had that data, then we could at least examine the results afterwards to see how thigns really worked out.