Walkthroughs not matching competition games' behavior

I’ve been playing the backlog of past competition entries, and I’ve noticed a peculiar tendency: many of the walkthroughs and/or hints provided along with the game files don’t match the game itself in certain ways. Sometimes very important ways.

Just how common in this phenomenon? What’s responsible for it - people revising their games after competitions, or something else?

Yep, probably a combination of post-comp revisions and last minute changes after the walkthrough’s been made. I imagine many authors would be happy to update their walkthroughs if you let them know.

I haven’t noticed it as a common thing. (And I fall back on walkthroughs quite often.)

(This is another good reason why walkthroughs should usually include explanations, rather than being a bare list of commands. With the latter, if something goes a little bit wrong then you’re hosed.)

I imagine this is tricky if someone has uploaded a new binary to IFDB and has forgotten to update the walkthrough, too. On the one hand, this is something that always can and should be done, but on the other hand, it’s hard to test on your own–and a new set of eyes testing the game from a script can feel like a bit of drudgework and “can’t a computer do that?”

It seems like a good solution (at least for IFComp) would be IFComp authors being able to check walkthroughs for updated versions in the author subforum, or trading updated walkthroughs and binaries before updates are sent to Stephen Granade. This is difficult to formalize, but it’s pretty collegial in there, and that can be quite useful for side-testing, since authors tend to provide review threads of all the games anyway.

Another side question here is, is it worth keeping an old version of the walkthrough for people who (for whatever reason) want to play the original version of a game? Or should we always assume the latest version?

One of the more recent examples of this (for me) comes from Anchorhead - I found two ‘walkthroughs’ with a net search, and noticed that they were distinctly different. I downloaded both and compared them to the latest game version, and concluded that some of the puzzles had been altered post-competition. At least one of the changes seemed to have been intended to eliminate the risk that a solution object wouldn’t be picked up by the player before the point where it becomes necessary.

I had originally played the game as it had been first released, so I was going crazy trying to figure out why the action I vaguely remembered taking didn’t seem to work.

Post-competition? Anchorhead was never entered into a comp.

Oo, I didn’t know that either. I just sort of always assumed. Anyway.

ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=op0uw1gn1tjqmjt7 says…

There appear to be two versions…regular, and ‘special edition.’ There also seem to be two solutions at the IFDB page. That would jibe with seeing different versions of the walkthrough on the semi-official IFDB page. And if someone tried to strip the walkthrough to its essentials and leave out hints, and several such versions floated around the internet, that’d explain a bit more, especially if some weren’t sanctioned/checked by Michael Gentry.

Post original release, then. I stand corrected.

My recent problems have all been with competition games, though.

This is interesting to me as I would like to look through IFComp 2009 and before games (ones I never got to) – anyone know if there might be a place/database where we could check off on these things? Not to name and shame, since we all make mistakes, but just to give people an idea of which games work, where errata might be, etc.

I’d be glad to help with such an effort.


Good point–forgot about it. It would be interesting to create a page that tracks the IFComp and the walkthroughs and which are relevant/which have been updated. But it could also get kind of messy. Still, this seems like a worthwhile goal, for errata etc.

If you guys are looking for a specific example of this kind of thing, the walkthrough for the semi-infamous troll game Riverside does not work; I know this because I tried it when a review popped saying the game was uncompletable. In a way it is a shame, because the (incredibly terrible) ending is probably the only reason to play that mess.

So, just curious, how did you find the ending? With the ztools disassembler? Sadly, this sort of thing is what can get me curious about a game [emote]:)[/emote]. And of course I tend to pass on the stuff I can enjoy or learn from.

It might be good to simply encourage/require including a version number in the walkthrough. That way a mismatch would be immediately recognized and hopefully it would remind the author to update the walkthrough before releasing an updated version of the game.

Well, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t at that time, but I played it before as a judge for the 2008 Comp. The ending was certainly the most talked about part of the game (for those who reached it, at least). Here is a review, courtesy of Jenni Polodna.
[rant=ETA]As an aside, I cannot tell you how relieved I was to learn the walkthrough was noted to be reasonably borked back then, too. I was starting to think the whole experience was some deranged mass hallucination.[/rant]