I’ve been against the updates rule since the day it was announced and I doubt my feelings regarding it will ever change. I’ve heard all the reasons why it’s a good idea and for me none of them really make a bit of difference. This is meant to be a “competition”. Updating features, fixing bugs, removing parts of the game people dislike during the voting period of a competition is never going to be a good idea in my opinion. If things need changing, then by all means change them – after the competition has concluded, or withdraw your game from the competition altogether and fix the game to your heart’s content based on the feedback you’ve received.
I’m sure someone out there is thinking, “Ah, David, but how would you feel if you’d entered a game in the IFComp and someone found a bug in it? Wouldn’t you want to be able to update it?”
Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. I’ve entered the IFComp quite a few times over the years and yes, I’ve entered with games that people have found bugs in. But that’s on me. I didn’t test them adequately enough beforehand, I didn’t leave long enough for checking / proof-reading / playing, etc, I didn’t get enough people to test it for me, and so on. My bad. It sure made me buck up my ideas in future.
Does the updates allow better games to be produced? Quite possibly. But that’s still not the point. It’s a competition. Better games could still be produced after the competition deadline or outside of the competition itself.
Let’s use an analogy, shall we? People like analogies.
Rob decides to host a short story competition with a one hour deadline. Most people are fine with this requirement as it challenges them to write a short story within a set timeframe. But Eric isn’t happy with it. Eric claims that if he could have three hours instead of one he could write a much better story. People argue that he’s missing the point because the competition is intended to have a timeframe of one hour, not three, but after much arguing from Eric’s camp, the competition is extended to three hours. But then Paul argues that he could write a better short story if he had ten hours and Brian believes if he had the services of a professional proof-reader and a few friends to exchange ideas with, he could write an even better short story. Brad thinks if he hired a team of writers to help him, and his short story went through a few dozen re-writes over the space of several months, he could write a much, much better story.
In the end, you have a short story competition which no doubt produced many great works, but none that actually stuck to the spirit of the competition. At some point, someone looks at what came out of it and says, “Yeah, some good works but… wasn’t this supposed to be a one hour short story competition? That guy wrote a novel that took him six months.”
That’s my take on it. That’s what prompted me to consider 1-voting any entry that updated because, in my opinion, authors should only enter games that are 100% ready into competitions and not be able to update them later if people decide there are things about them they don’t like. The only time updates should be allowed is if a change to the authoring system happens which breaks an author’s game through no fault of their own (say a new version of Inform 7 comes out right in the middle of the comp which breaks several entries).
And… I’ve written way more there than I intended to but those are my feelings on the subject. For what it’s worth, I’m not intending to 1-vote any game that updates because a) it’d be a pretty shitty thing to do and b) if it’s in the comp rules, it’d be pretty awful of me to 1-vote someone’s game for doing what the comp organiser allows. I still hate the update rule, though, and I won’t have any involvement in the comp while it remains.