The First Round of Game Updates for the 2011 IF Competit

Possibly too late. You’ll get incomplete answers now.

And, really, additional complication in the answering process will probably discourage more votes than it’s worth.

Sure. Officially, the two-hour rule is still the two-hour rule. If you spend one hour and fifty minutes playing the first release, if you wish you can spend another ten minutes playing any new release, but no longer. The total play time you spend on any game must stay under two hours. The version or versions of the games don’t count.

As for feeling obligated, while I understand that feeling, I don’t intend for you to feel obligated by updates. If you want to play an updated game (and have the time), you’re free to. But you shouldn’t feel like you have to.

My general approach to the comp is that it’s not my place to tell judges how to judge. You rate the games you play from 1 to 10. If you want to take a point off for every typo, you can. If you want to rate games highly based on which ones use the letter ‘z’ the most, feel free. The same thing holds true with updates. If you want to take them into account when you judge, you can. If you want to stick with the first release, or whatever release you played, please do so.

Were I a judge, I would follow Juhana’s suggested approach. But that is me talking with my comp organizer hat off. With it on, I say do what makes sense to you.

My feeling is that few judges would want to download an entire new .zip file to deal with updated games, especially as the .zip file is likely to appeal to more hard-core IF judges who are also more likely to want to see the original game versions. It also adds an incentive to authors to do their best work to start with.

Thank you, sir. That helps a lot. [emote]:)[/emote]

I’m in favor of updating games especially within the first week, because that’s when interpreter issues will rear their ugly heads. After that I see the real need for updating tapering off: it becomes tweaking for game quality instead.

I worry that this will encourage people using the comp as a replacement for beta testing. Already there are a number of really rough or obviously unfinished games each year, and honestly it bugs me that they couldn’t be bothered to finish the game prior to submitting (not that I expect games to be perfect - but there’s a minimum amount of effort that should go into an entry).

For myself, I’ve solved the question by downloading the .zip file and ignoring any updates. I’ll rate the games based off of the way they were submitted.

I don’t think this is a problem – I think people who try to use the comp as a beta-testing lab will find themselves ruthlessly punished by getting a bunch of feedback of the form “If you didn’t test your game, I can’t be bothered to give you any feedback.” Reviewers aren’t going to give you as much feedback as betatesters. Also they’ll get slated on the first batch of reviews. And (in response to Ron) tweaking for game quality is a good thing.

Following on what Emily said, I think and hope this might lead to better post-comp versions. Even if authors won’t be able to make all the changes they might want by the end of the comp, it could keep them working on improvements through the comp, instead of forcing a period of inactivity which would make it difficult for them to get working on revisions.

By the way, is it OK for authors to revise supplementary material, like walkthroughs? Because there’s a few games where I’d like to advise the authors to annotate their walkthroughs.

I must admit that I personally feel it’s a bit like cheating. It’s like being allowed to alter your final exams project after having turned it in… [emote]:)[/emote]
It’s not whether an update gives the player a better experience playing the game, it’s about you turning in a piece of work and that piece of work is evaluated, good or bad.

Everyone pretty much knows when the annual IF Comp is launched. So there’s nothing stopping the author from working on his/her game until “perfection” in good time before the comp. If entering the comp is more important than the quality of the game it’s just bad luck.

Also, not every author may be able to update his/her game for various reasons, thus allowing other entries an advantage.

Is the point of the comp for the authors to win? Or is the point of the comp for players to have games to play? If the former, then, sure, you could make comparisons to cheating on a test. But if it’s the latter, then it doesn’t make sense.


As a teacher, if I had enough time to always let students revise their projects I would. It’s more important to me that they produce better work than that they be graded on the stuff they produce the first time. (In practice, I make them write shorter papers so they’ve got feedback on something before they try their final project.)

I would feel even more strongly about this if I intended to play their projects for fun. [emote]:)[/emote]

I’d have said the point was to decide which game is the best, not which game is best once it’s been fixed, updated, extended, etc. If my game receives less reviews than other games, and as a result I’m not able to fix whatever might be wrong with it, do I get extra time at the end of the comp, before the results are announced, for me to add extra features I feel people would like?

Maybe next year the IFComp could be renamed The Public Betatest Comp because that looks to be the way it’s going.

I think it makes perfect sense.
There’s a deadline for when the game has to be submitted to the comnpetition and that’s it. It’s no big secret when the annual IF Comp is being launched. People pretty much know about what time of year it is, so they have plenty of time to work on their game and polish it.

With this rule people can (I’m not saying their doing it) actually submit a practically new game. Who’s to decide whether it’s an update or a new game?
I can see David’s point in renaming the comp.

I think you guys are seriously exaggerating the advantage that this gives people. (Not to mention that it’s not an unfair advantage, since everyone has the chance to make changes.) Are people seriously going to say, “Ha ha, I have the chance to make major changes in my game in the six weeks the competition is running”? Who would do that? It’s just creating a lot of extra work for themselves – and remember, they’re going to get bad scores from the first batch of reviewers anyway, as well as from anyone who (reasonably) decides to ignore the updates.

You might also be interested to read Jason McIntosh’s post-mortem on The Warbler’s Nest. He wound up telling his friends not to play the game during the competition, because the rules prevented him from fixing the problems that he learned about from the first reviews until the competition had finished. And I think these rules are probably friendlier to new authors as well. Do we care about the sanctity of a deadline, or do we care about encouraging the creation of good games? I know my answer.

Mods, please delete my post immediately if this violates rule 5. I’ve tried to discuss generalities here, but I may have slipped.

I agree with Kevin–one writer just didn’t know the general rules of ABOUT and CREDITS. That would potentially cost that person, who would’ve added them if they’d known, reviews from longtime and very good reviewers. Because they did update things. Now, maybe we can argue that this relatively recent expectation of longtime reviewers should be more prominent in the competition instructions, but I think we’ve found one example where updates ARE a good thing.

I would say the updates are, or should be, more like special-case patches being rolled out for a big product than re-beta-testing. Patches get more specific and local tests. That seems to be what people are trying to do here. I think the authors likely to update all recognize the risk/reward involved.

The rest is potentially TL/DR…

[spoiler]Anyone with a middling game is not going to come up with a killer hook that bumps them up much (barring something very exceptional that I think most authors would gladly sacrifice a place in the comp to see) and anyone with a top-tier game probably won’t want to put anything at risk. They’ve planned things out too well.

And anyone in the bottom tier due to a gross error deserves a chance to explain away or correct stuff that can be easily corrected. I think the games that most need feedback/touchups aren’t going to be the ones at the top end of the competition. In the authors’ board there are a lot of people just interested in what they could’ve done better, and I am guessing most people aren’t doing it to jump over others but to give it their best shot.

I know at the end of last year, when the scores were revealed, they didn’t matter so much to me, though I had some attachment to the game I beta-tested. I enjoyed reading different perspectives and what should and shouldn’t be done, and even seeing people finding good in games I hated. I didn’t let a few typos or missed verbs get in the way of the overall picture.

In addition it’s tough to feel shackled for six weeks–yes, there’s nothing against locally touching up code, but being able to show you can improve stuff you -knew- you should have fixed makes that much less helplessness. Many of us do this to improve, not to place.

I doubt many people will change the general overall game–and those who do will be found out by comparative reviews.

I’d also say that there is diminishing return to scale on # of reviews–the first few big needs will probably show up right away, and there’ll quickly be enough overlap and consensus that the writer can pretty clearly and quickly decide what to fix.

I have to admit I was unaware of this rule and spent more time than I needed to worrying about a game-killing bug instead of planning to hunt for them. Yes, a lot of that is on me, but it’s a very human thing to think, and if this rule lets in a few people who are willing to learn and apply that knowledge immediately, well–the competition’s about more than just a score, isn’t it?

There’s a possibility of someone submitting a silly game and then monstrously updating it, but generally, people trying to make that sort of silly joke get bored of it well before six weeks anyway.[/spoiler]

Well, I think we can safely assume that no author knew about this new feature since Stephen Granade has announced the changes on October 1st at after everyone has finished uploading their games to the ifcomp site.

Unless we have authors in the comp who can foretell the future. [emote]:mrgreen:[/emote] … 38784086a#

Fuck it. I don’t mind if Stephen allows authors to update their games each week. All I care about is how I should judge games being updated each friggin’ week?!

There are 38 fucking games in this non-porn-comp. You can’t expect the fucking judges to replay 38 games and rewrite reviews over and over again each damn week.

I knew it! I told you guys to screw IFComp 2011! First we got Emily Short and Emily Boegheim sucked in from a parellel universe who claim to be different persons, but could be the same for all I know. And now we see tons of authors updating their games each week.

This is cheat GOD MODE!!! This is like Obama being re-elected in 2012. No, no, noooooooo!

To be honest, I’d have been a whole lot happier with this rule if it had been announced a little earlier. It just seems kind of misleading to come up with a brand new rule after the competition has already started.

For articulating the crux of the argument, Kevin wins the thread.

I feel IFComp should grow the audience for IF. It seems we lost at least one author (and hence, player) due to his 2008 Adrift work having 'terp issues, so I believe allowing updates would support that goal.

I would like the all-games zip files to have the latest and greatest, though. Not all of us grab the games the very instant the comp starts, and piecemeal updating is a pain. Causal comp players would not only just hit the all-games zip and stick with it, but wouldn’t download and begin IF Comp playing until they’re good and ready – which isn’t necessarily in week #1 of the comp.

I do think it wise that the games are only updated at most once a week, and am assuming the rule change wasn’t announced until the first was so this year’s authors couldn’t allow themselves to relax.

“Cheating” implies deliberately gaming the system to win, though. How would that even be possible?

What I mean is, imagine this: It’s 2012. Turns out the world isn’t ending, so you decide to write an IF game and enter it into the comp. What’s more, you twirl your waxy black mustache and decide to cheat using this rule. On purpose. You have months to plan your cheating for maximum advantage and …

What’s the plan? How could you possibly improve your chances/score/whatever by deliberately making use of the rule? Maybe I’m just missing it, but could you provide a walkthrough?

I think the posts by Juhana, Matt W and Emily Short (and others, but those three with the greatest clarity) outline the reasons why the rule (A) at its worst can do no harm and (B) at its best can benefit everyone.

Look at transcripts and early reviews after the first week. Rewrite chunks of your game to better fit with the zeitgeist of this year’s judges.

It may not be an effective way to cheat, but it’s a possible advantage over authors who never update their game.

Or how about this: it’s the day before the entry deadline, and you have another week of work to do. You add a faux bug to your game – something which prevents the player from getting out of the first room. Upload it. Spend the next week finishing your game. Post the update with a “hey, sorry about the bug!” note.

Sure, it’s ridiculous (and won’t save you from the wrath of early judges). But I’m looking back at the first (1995) IFComp discussion, and something like this nearly happened – one entry was uploaded a week late, and then there was some controversy about how to handle it.

(Although the bigger controversy was about what to do with games which were released before the deadline. Nobody had thought about an organized all-at-once release process, so games sort of straggled in for a month.)

To be clear: I’m not saying that this rule change is a bad idea. My bias is against it – but then we did it the old way for fifteen years. I’m okay with trying the new way for a few years to see how it feels.

Sorry, that’s not right. (I misread somebody’s review post.) It was released on time, but then an update was posted a week later. The organizers ruled that the original version was the one to judge (thus establishing the precedent kept until last year).