I am pleased to announce that I have finished scoring the Entries in Event One a full day ahead of schedule. I will now make my judgments public so that the Entries can be discussed freely.
Judgment of Event One
I am extremely impressed by the Entries in Event One. I know that uncompiled Inform 7 source code text has been considered as a mode of artistic expression before; I think that these Entries demonstrate that the concept has a great deal of untapped potential. It is one thing to write a poem that compiles into a game—but we see here that one can write code that operates as a distinct and complementary artistic component to the game it creates. I hope these Entries will inspire more authors to pursue these extremely clever ideas.
As I begin to pass judgment on these Entries, I reiterate that the purpose of the Exposition is to please me, Ryan Veeder, specifically, and that the scores I award are based almost exclusively on that criterion. In other words, no one should expect my appraisals to be at all fair. In History’s grand arc, any these Entries may merit more praise or more condemnation than I here assign, but to correct this injustice is your duty, by way of adding these Entries to IFDB and giving them the ratings you think they deserve.
Entries in Event One are scored on a 10-point scale. In an American high school, a score of 7 points out of 10 is for whatever reason considered “average,” and this is often disappointing. A score of 5 points out of 10 is considered a “failure.” The scores I award in this Event must not be interpreted in this way.
I will award a score of 5 points out of 10 to a game I feel totally neutral about. Scores below 5 points out of 10 are reserved for games I actively dislike. Scores above 5 points out of 10 are reserved for games that I like.
I make no guarantee that Events Two and Three will be scored in a similar fashion.
Upon the Spooky House, by Ben Poisonor
At first glance, this Entry does not seem to have been composed with a view toward creating beautiful source code text. I know that Ben Poisonor found the Event structure somewhat confusing. We must bear in mind the possibility that Ben was not following the prompt.
The game is written with enthusiasm, which I appreciate very much. The subject matter is right up my alley. It’s my kind of game, and considered qua game, independently of the brief of Event One—but keeping in mind it was written in the timeframe of Event One—it’s pretty nice. I like the pacing quite a bit, and the transition into the final scene is crafted well. The ending doesn’t work, which is too bad.
But I’m supposed to consider the source code text. Here’s the thing: The source code text really enhances my appreciation of the game. The comments are great! It’s like I’m watching Ben Poisonor write!
This is a lot of fun, but I don’t really consider it beautiful. What a difficult situation for me, the Judge! I like the Entry, but I must enforce the parameters of the Event. I cannot award a high score to this Entry.
Before I award a score, I will make this incredibly generous offer: Perhaps Ben Poisonor composed this Entry with a view toward submitting it to the nonconstrained Event of the Exposition, but got Events One and Three mixed up, thinking that Event One was a free-form Event lasting one weekend and Event Three was something else. It is in Ben Poisonor’s best interests neither to confirm nor deny this hypothesis. If Ben Poisonor wishes to spend his time before the 29th revising Upon the Spooky House, and submits his revised version as an Entry in the free-form Event Three, I will waive Rule 7 of the Exposition and consider the revised game just like any other Entry in that Event.
For now, though, I will stretch the definition of beauty until it is just barely contiguous with being fun and funny. Therefore I award Upon the Spooky House 5.7 points out of 10.
A Whispered Dream, by Depetrification
I like compactness. I worried that a prompt like “create an Inform 7 game with beautiful source code text” would inspire some Entrants to spend weeks or months crafting a bunch of sprawling epics. That’s not what I want to see, and that’s why I limited the timeframe of Event One to a single weekend. Beauty is in a small thing executed to perfection, not in a huge thing done to death.
This Entry, as submitted, does not compile in Inform 7. (There’s a punctuation problem, and the property “concealed” is referred to without being defined.) The brief of the challenge is not satisfied, so I cannot award it a high score.
The subject matter of this Entry is too forlorn and wistful for my tastes. So, I cannot award it a high score.
The prose in this Entry is not my kind of thing. It doesn’t strike me as beautiful. But the code around the prose is quite nice. If you remove the parts in quotation marks, you get stuff like this:
The angel is a person in the cage. The wings are part of the angel. The heart is part of the angel.
The heart is unyielding.
I want to point this out because some other Entries in this Event require quoted text to work properly, and so their beautifulness is, in a sense, not fully contained in their code. This Entry isn’t like that: When I consider only the code of this entry, I find it very beautiful.
Therefore I award A Whispered Dream 5.98 points out of 10, which is as high as I can go without awarding it a high score.
The Magnificent Museum of Masterly Masterworks, by Inverted Normals
This game consists of a museum devoted to my own genius, and that appeals to me. It is somewhat smaller than one might expect of such a monument, but this is seemingly due to a constraint of the format.
The backstory of the museum confuses me, though. Some of the exhibits seem to be the work of a fan or fans (probably Inverted Normals themselves), which explains why certain elements of the Ryan Veeder canon being paid tribute are portrayed inaccurately: The statue of Winter Storm Draco is obviously confused, and Officer Bob Eliot is depicted with a “great big mustache” even though Taco Fiction describes it as a Raul Julia Gomez Addams mustache.
But the intent of Inverted Normals seems to be that the tributes to Allison Chase throughout the museum are the work of Ryan Veeder myself. And this is odd. I cannot puzzle my way through this game’s lore. But I appreciate being pandered to.
The beauty of this game’s source text is its presentation as a cool text-image created from a photo of a doll I made. (It is a beautiful doll, yes. If the source text were longer, the resolution of the image would be greater, and we would gain an even greater appreciation of the doll’s beauty.) This text mosaic technique requires that the text forms a rectangle when rendered in a fixed-width font. This naturally imposes some limitations on the number of characters in the text and on the line breaks. This situation naturally recalls to our minds that famous Super Metroid speed guide with the perfectly justified text.
Unfortunately, the approach taken by Inverted Normals to maintain constant line width is to add a bunch of extra spaces between words. This is not very elegant. It makes the game look really weird when you’re playing it, and it doesn’t look all that nice in the Inform 7 IDE either. In many ways, the souce code text of this game is decidedly unbeautiful.
But I must respect the intentions of the Entrant, and the efforts of Inverted Normals to appeal specifically to me and to my ego must not be overlooked. Therefore I award The Magnificent Museum of Masterly Masterworks 6.67 points out of 10.
The Gay Science, by Capricorn van Knapp
I will give this Entry a score lower than is merited by its quality, because it does not appeal to me personally. It is your responsibility, Reader, to laud this game in ways I cannot.
Look at this wonderful Entry. The playable game is so terse and slight. Almost meaningless.
But then the source code text tells this beautiful story. And it tells it mechanically! Possibly you don’t even need the comments. The raw rules, declarations, and tables are very affecting. And in the mechanics you see how the bland sentences of the playable game are instantiations of underlying fundamental truths.
One of the videos I offered as a creative jumping-off point for Entrants in this round was the Hot Toddies song Wet Dream. I don’t think Capricorn van Knapp necessarily took this song as inspiration. But this game and it source code text convey to me with procedural text generation the same sentiments that the Hot Toddies convey in their lyrics: The universality of love and suffering, the synthesis of small heartbreaks and immense tragedies in the totality of our shared human sickness.
This is a great work of art. But it is too serious for Ryan Veeder. It makes me sad. Therefore I award The Gay Science 7.3 points out of 10.
Scarlet Portrait Parlor, by Prismatik
I like compactness. Prismatik had a good idea and executed it correctly. That makes this very good in my eyes. There are a few inelegancies, and these I cannot overlook. Therefore I award Scarlet Portrait Parlor 8 points out of 10.
Antique Panzitoum, by Abandoned Pools
Well, this game is extremely cool. The main body of the source text is essentially a “text adventure” in itself, as it challenges the reader to form an understanding of space from inconsistently helpful descriptions. But the best part is the beginning, which separates the playable game from the unplayable world. This is what excites my imagination most and makes me hope that people will continue to develop the ideas explored in Event One of my Exposition.
However, I must make subtractions from my score for the sexy parts, or my Exposition will get a reputation for rewarding and encouraging the purveyance of smut. Therefore I award Antique Panzitoum 8.3 points out of 10.
Caduceus, by Mala Costraca
This is extremely clever and I love it. I feel anxiety about awarding a perfect score, and if I look closely I can find enough small flaws to justify an assertion that this Entry is not perfect. Therefore I award Caduceus 9.5 points out of 10.