XYZZY Awards 2015 eligibility list

Later than I had hoped for, here is the eligibility list for the XYZZY Awards 2015.

Highlights: Feu du Joie is being considered as a single piece; so is 18 Rooms to Home (which means it’s not eligible this year); the Seltani piece Aspel is being considered as a distinct game; Sunless Sea is being excluded as Not Really Interactive Fiction, but (for the first time) the Exceptional Stories supplements to Fallen London are being considered as eligible distinct works.

If any of this is incorrect, unfair or will lead to the catastrophic collapse of everything good and true of IF as we know it, speak promptly or forever hold your peace.

Has anybody talked to somebody at Failbetter about Sunless Sea? Do they want to be eligible?

Wow, this seems like a lot of work! Thanks for compiling this and setting it all in motion!

As a side note, the tilde in the Sueno seems to be breaking something, so the game prints as The Sue,

The same for Comédie, it stops at the acute and just displays “Com”.

Terminator was left off the list, I think because its IFDb page doesn’t list a year of release; anyone who released a game in 2015 that doesn’t appear might want to check this. (Crossposted, more or less, from the XYZZY blog.)

And thank you for putting this together!

An Adventurer’s Backyard is another ParserComp game that doesn’t have the year listed on IFDB.

Yes–it must have been a lot of work!

I’ve spoken to Alexis about the Exceptional Stories, though not Sunless Sea.

The reason Sunless was considered in the first place was that it has an IFDB listing, added by Emily Short (who has worked on both Sunless Sea and Fallen London); so at least someone in the Failbetter orbit thought that it was worth raising the issue.

The Sueno and Comedie fixed; Terminator and An Adventurer’s Backyard added. Thanks, all.

I added Sunless after a discussion over on the euphoria &if channel, so this wasn’t purely personal caprice – the feeling was that there was enough story in there that it should be represented. (But I can also see the reasons for excluding it from actual XYZZY eligibility.)

Turns out To Burn In Memory is on Steam now. I updated the download link on IFDB and updated the web site link to point to the author’s page rather than the domain (which seems to no longer be up).

I also updated the Cat Scratch page to point to the ifarchive version (which is just a page that links to the Android APK on Google Drive, but that link still seems to work fine).

I’m not going to start a flame war for it, but I wish for Sunless Sea to be included. It’s at least as IF-ish as Dominique Pamplemousse…, which won an award in 2013 for its “Multimedia” supplemental materials.

(I’m sure someone could argue (could have argued) that Dom Pam should have been excluded, but I for one am glad it was included and think the award was well earned.)

What is the criteria specifically for Sunless Sea to be included?

Seriously, I want to understand. It’s been floating around that “Sunless Sea is IF”, and I never quite got that. This seems the perfect place for some specifics.

Emily Short referred story. Is that what makes IF, having lots of story? Does it mean storyless parser text adventures are not IF? Or that any game with lots of story is IF?

It being “at least as IF-ish as” anything strikes me like a strange defense, hinging on a precedent. Mind you, I’ve never actually played Dom Pam but the demo looked like an adventure game, period. I don’t think the Blackwell games were ever nominated for XYZZYs, and they had absolutely amazing writing. So are we conflating IF with adventure games now?..

My philosophy to “interactive fiction” is the same as my philosophy to “game.” If you want to call your thing “IF,” or if you want to call your thing a “game,” it is; the community can judge whether it’s worth an award.

Specifically, when you’re not piloting the boat, you’re at shore; at shore, you’re playing a text-based choice-based game. According to PC Gamer it was over 100,000 words at launch; I’ve heard they’ve added significantly more than that since then. … -way-soon/

IMO, the result is an IF game combined with a real-time boat game.

I haven’t played Sunless Sea, but last year’s Best Game XYZZY winner, 80 Days, had a realtime luggage-arranging subgame, as well as a graphical route-planning mechanism. Does that work for precedent?

This, combined with proximity to the community - Failbetter Games is actively engaged with the interactive fiction community in a way that AAA Studio X making Text-Heavy CRPG Y is unlikely to ever be.

The (unwritten) criteria for XYZZY nominees has always been “either IF or a story-driven game made by a member of the IF community”. That is why 80 Days was nominated, but e.g. Device 6 wasn’t, and Pamplemousse was nominated, but literally any other graphical adventure wasn’t. It’s a community award, so there’s some merit to this approach, although personally I would focus more on the games rather than the authors.

The second ineligibility list says:

•, Wade Clarke. A port.

I am not a port. I am a human being!


Ok, I can understand the community thing. That’s certainly a big priority in something like this, which is less about the games and more about the growth and preservation of the community itself and its quality output, in whatever shape or form that output happens to be. I hadn’t realised the SS folks were such a presence in IF. Thanks all.

I don’t have much time just at the moment to respond to this in detail, but:

  • I am interested in arguments for Sunless Sea’s inclusion, or not; my mind is not settled on this.
  • I am not immensely interested in precedent, because the standards of what we consider ‘IF’ have shifted a fair bit in recent years, and precedent cuts both ways. ‘DomPom was eligible!’ - well, Fallen London itself wasn’t. But if they were both released today, I think the situation would be reversed.
  • I’m also not very interested in ‘it has lots and lots of words’ or ‘it has choice-based sequences’ - these would make, say, Planescape: Torment or FTL count as IF. I’m more interested in whether text interaction constitutes the essential core of the game - and having played 140-odd hours of Sunless Sea, I’m not convinced that it is.
  • All that said, in cases where there’s substantial disagreement, I’m probably ultimately going to go with community-engagement principle.

Is this a port of Doug Orleans’s ShuffleComp game?