XYZZY Awards 2011: final round

The nomination round of the XYZZY Awards is complete, and the second round is open. You can see the list of nominees at, and cast your votes at The second round will run until the end of March 1st.

That’s an impressive number of nominations for Zombie Exodus.

Woohoo! I votehhhhd. I’m a votah! YAY-uh!, basically.


When I learned that ToaSK got an XYZZY nom for 2007, I waited until after the voting deadline passed (by about 50 minutes) before I mentioned it on the Encounter Critical Mailing List.

Different strokes, I guess.

It feels like the phone voting in realities. But maybe I’m too taliban. I usually hate popular votes, and now I remember the reason.


Is it bad form to blog about the XYZZY awards like that? I understood XYZZY to be a contest where campaigning for votes was totally acceptable.

I have no doubt it’s 100% ethical and unimpeachably correct. Like so many things.

I don’t have a problem with your post, but I do think it’s a shame that it was so effective.

The XYZZY FAQ says that the top four finishers in each category go on to the finals, but some categories only list three. What happened there?

Further, the post on Choice of Games was hardly canvassing at all, nowhere did it say “Go Vote For Zombie Exodus”.

RE: a panel of reviewers: is that still a thing? I have no conflict of interest in writing on any of the categories though I have little knowledge of technical developments.

Big ties for fourth place. The rule of thumb is that if there’s a tie that would produce five or six nominees, we go with it, but not if that would produce a whole lot more. In those cases, there’s generally a pretty big discontinuity between the top three games and everything else, so it’s pretty clear who the front-runners are. (Voting in the nomination round is typically quite low and unfocused.)

It is; I’ve been waiting for the nomination round to be over so that (apart from conflicts of interest) people can have a firmer idea of what they’d be writing about. I’ll try and get some organising done over the weekend.

If you mean, is there a nice clear community standard or competition rule about this, or did I do anything malicious? then no, although campaigning hasn’t been a prominent feature of the awards in the past. If you mean: is this going to seriously piss off a great many people? then yes.

I agree with this; I think the problem is that you have a large community that doesn’t play parser IF games, so a post like that is going to funnel a lot of votes pretty exclusively to ChoiceScript games. Which means the vote totals aren’t apples-to-apples, which can be a problem in first-past-the-post systems.

I’m sure you didn’t intend anything malicious here, I just think it’s an unfortunate side-effect of the way the voting works and of the general separation of the ChoiceScript and parser IF communities (perhaps I should say the Inform-and-TADS-sort-of community, with ADRIFT as a separate community yet). It’s also my opinion after playing the first chapter that Zombie Exodus shouldn’t be a finalist for best writing, but that’s kind of an independent issue (and I hadn’t played it yet when I made my first post on the thread).

So, I have to come clean here. Before I even read this thread, I posted a follow-up post, which is, I’d say, “worse” by those standards. … he-winner/

It, too, stops short of saying “Vote for Zombie Exodus”, but I’m not going to claim that I wasn’t campaigning for Jim.

Based on the first few replies on this thread, I closed my browser and went about my day. But now I read this reply, which certainly gives me pause.

Getting onto the nominee list under questionable circumstances is one thing, but IMO Jim has a good shot at winning the competition, and I don’t want his victory to be tainted with the idea that he/I stuffed the ballot box.

I guess I’m looking for feedback at this point: what’s posted is posted (and tweeted, and FB’d), but I can delete the new blog post now. Should I do that?

How about just suggesting that folks play all four games before voting? (Personally, I think that’s a minimal standard for anyone who votes in this kind of thing, but the XYZZYs don’t seem to operate under that expectation…) If your canvassing nets more players for the finalists, then it will have been a good thing.

Exactly. The nomination of Zombie Exodus for categories like Best NPCs and Best PC also raises some questions. I think there is a productive argument to be had around the premise that CYOA games don’t have PCs or NPCs; they simply have characters. The purpose of those categories in the parser IF context is to draw attention to the skill and craft required to effectively model a character; since there is no world model in a CYOA, it seems odd (at least to someone whose primary reference is parser IF) to see any CYOA game referred to as having NPCs.

Maybe the categories should in future be changed to “best protagonist” and “best characters,” so that no genre’s expectations predominate?

I updated the post with your suggestion, though I’m still open to deleting the post if I hear some outcry.

Taking the argument in a completely different direction, I disagree. First, there are world models in modern CYOA (and even the old books where you had stat sheets); every ChoiceScript game I’ve seen keeps stats for the main character, and you may remember that The Play kept track of the moods of the cast and crew and their relationship with you. Second, I don’t think the contest is for “best under-the-hood modeling”; Rameses was a finalist for “best NPC” and I suspect that the NPCs were barely modeled at all; implemented as objects but only responding to “x whoever” and maybe some different messages to block kissing them or something (I don’t know, really). It’s the vividness of the writing that made them memorable NPCs, not their modeling in this case.

Creating memorable characters in CYOA does involve skill and craft, it’s just a different kind of skill and craft. At the very least, in whatever version of IF, creating a good character will take good writing, but I think it’ll also take good mechanics; you have to program the NPCs’ responses to your choices.

That’s not to say that your suggestion might not be a good idea, but not because the current categories are inapplicable to CYOAs.

I don’t know, really. I think that, basically, if Zombie Exodus sweeps the awards, a lot of people are going to feel trampled on. I don’t really have any right to ask you to stop saying anything, and I really don’t want to shut down anybody who’s talking about the awards, so it’s entirely your call. But I think that Ghalev, up there, was demonstrating a good deal of savvy about the nature of internet communities.

We’re considering a strong suggestion on the site that anybody voting for a category should have played at least two of that category’s nominees, but obviously there’s no way we can enforce that. It would be awesome if this worked, but my impression from the first-round voting patterns is that the hobbyist ChoiceScript community is simply not interested in parser IF (or, indeed, in CYOA that isn’t ChoiceScript) and vice versa.

I’m not sure that this particular claim has ever been strictly true; a good number of NPCs and PCs in the past have won or been nominated far more on the grounds of being well-written than because they’re strongly modeled. (Certainly the techniques used to portray a character in CYOA are rather different, and so are the standards that they should be judged by, so I get the general drift of the argument; but it’s not as neat as all that.) It’s true, though, that ChoiceScript voters generally voted straight tickets for every award.