II spent a long time over the last two years trying to play every IFComp game. I got pretty close last year, then stopped, leaving 40 or so of the 952 games unplayed. This week, I’ve been trying to finish all of those.
Both times, I’ve been really surprised by the huge change that occurs as you reach 2015
The biggest change is a big uptick in overall quality and in quantity of good games. 2015 has 6 games with a score over 7, 2016 had 7, 2017 had 12, 2018 had 15. (Edit: before 2015, most years only had 3 or so games over 7, if that. It could be score creep, but I’m not sure.)
The number of games jumped up, as is well-documented. 2015 had about as much as the previous peak in the early 2000’s, and it’s gone higher than that ever since than. 2015 had almost twice as many games as 2012.
Another major change is cover art and blurbs. This trend really started around 2014. Suddenly almost all games have great cover art and good blurbs.
Finally, the variety of games has increased significantly, as well as the amount of multimedia in games. This also began around 2014, where the top 5 games had 5 different operating systems.
The reasons for all these changes aren’t completely unknown. Jason McIntosh took over in 2015 and made a lot of changes, and the website had been redesigned to display cover art and blurbs more prominently. The competition was advertised more.
As a final note, I’d like to say that the number of good parser games is much higher in recent years than in earlier. I’ve been playing many of those older parser games from past years, and so many were giant, bloated, buggy, unplayable messes. If there are less parser games now (which is itself debatable), it may be because standards are higher, and people are taking longer.
Think of the parser games that have come out of the comp since 2015: Wizard Snuffer, Brain Guzzlers, all of Groover’s games, DiBianca’s games, Alias the Magpie, Take, A Beauty Cold and Austere, Sub Rosa, Map, and many more in just a space of 4 years.
In that same time, Choice games have had major growth. Birdland, Bogeyman, Cactus Blue Motel, Liza Daly’s games, Will Not Let You Go, and others.
Anyway, it’s just really surprising. I don’t think it’s just a false pattern, because its hit me like a wall both times I looked at every game. Something fun to think about.