XYZZY Awards 2015 eligibility list

Sunless Sea has a mixed core. You can’t just cut the boat game, but neither could you cut the text game.

(I run Failbetter and wrote most of SS)

My answer is ‘It would be nice, but we’re not much fussed’, and if it would lead to one of those IF demarcation fights then my answer is ‘oh heavens to Betsy no’

so I think a useful heuristic would be: I’d rather we weren’t nominated if we would be the most out-there choice for inclusion this year. If anything obviously weirder is nominated and we’re not, then I suppose our feelings would be slightly hurt.

Thanks Dan for pointing me to this link!

I just read the eligibility post. If we’re the only one that was excluded, then I think we should definitely stay excluded.

Thanks all for keeping on bending those boundaries.

The exclusion of 18 Rooms to Home will lead to the catastrophic collapse of everything good and -

nah, just kidding. I think this is a perfectly reasonable call. And I would/will definitely want it considered as a single piece rather than 18 different games.

Eh. Having been in the trenches for an IF demarcation fight or two, this isn’t much of a demarcation fight; more of an Ongoing Conversation. I don’t really have a dog in this race - initially I expected that I’d do some due-diligence on SS and that it’d be included, and then I spoke to some people and veered towards the position that it probably shouldn’t, and now… hmm. And on principle, I’d rather exclude as few games as possible on the Is This Actually IF standard. Ideally, zero.

Yeah, but this is also true of a million graphical games which include choice-based text for conversation or story choices or whatever.

I think Sunless Sea would benefit from a new category if we could find enough entrants that might apply; I personally put it in the basket of “hybrid IF” in that text-based interaction is a very significant but not totalising component of the game.

But if the concern is that it would open the door to other entrants that aren’t really IF, what exactly are those entrants? The only other 2015 game that might make sense there (and have a shot at nomination) is Pillars of Eternity, unless I’m forgetting something.

(For the record, I actually created the IFDB page, though Emily put in most of the content)

I think you could. If you view it reductively, that boat is a cursor you are navigating to choice-nodes.
If the combat were done with graphical bullets one had to aim, I’d argue against it. IMHO the game is choice-based with a heavy multimedia overlay (like DomP.)

I don’t know if you played it since it came off early access, but they changed it so that combat is now real time and you do have to aim (or rather you have to make sure targets are in the firing arc of a given weapon for long enough to get a firing solution).

I stand corrected, thanks!

Oh yeah. (Sorry, I’m getting brain-fuzzy in my old age.) But this was the result of a longer conversation about both SS and the Exceptional Stories. I don’t really feel strongly about whether it needs to be in the XYZZYs either, tbh. However, it (and Fallen London, and other StoryNexus games) are part of the discussion around IF and the growth of the medium in a way that most indie games aren’t, so it seems like the reference to it should be in there.

There’s something appealing about a “hybrid IF” category for games that have heavy text-based gameplay coupled with core gameplay that isn’t IF. If we’d had this category last year, I would have argued for 80 Days being included there. It would be a good place for The Icebound Concordance and Her Story as well.

However - choice-based gameplay and IF hybrids are enormous right now, especially in the indie scene. Literally hundreds, possibly thousands of 2015 games would qualify in this category, everything from Does Canned Rice Dream of a Napkin Heap? to Out There to Ladykiller in a Bind to Game of Thrones - A Telltale Series.

I embrace a broad definition of IF, but there’s a point past which we become the IGF instead of the IF community. I think we do need to draw a line, and I suggest drawing it when part of the core gameplay isn’t text-based.

If we do open this can of worms, then - at a bare minimum - we should stop expecting the XYZZY organizer to produce a list of eligible games, and just nominate them freetext, with the understanding that ineligible nominations will be discarded. (Which might be a good idea anyway.)

I support having one XYZZY award with text entry only for “Games with significant IF elements”.

An alternative would be to allow developers to self-nominate for this category, so that only people interested in the awards would participate

I’m also not sure this can should be opened, but I don’t think it has to be freetext. The “IFDB” requirement itself already eliminates a lot of stuff that we wouldn’t consider.

IMO, the category would turn into, “Best thing in IFDB that isn’t IF” which doesn’t make sense to me.

Thus, I’m mildly opposed to having an extra category, not least because my preferences swing the other way: if somebody wants to create an IFDB entry, if they want to be XYZZY eligible, then they should be eligible. (Whether anyone votes for them is another story entirely.)

Could it possibly be what the “best use of multimedia” morphs into? That’s what Dominque P fell into, and I think if it were renamed something like “Best Multimedia Hybrid Use of IF” it could include games that significantly make use of IF storytelling in a larger game such as Sunless Sea, or Thimbleweed Park.

Well, I should clarify - what I mean by “hybrid IF” is a game that has IF (text-based interaction) as one of two or three gameplay systems that players interact with. So Sunless Sea fits because it’s a game with two “halves” (the ship-piloting subgame and the port interaction subgame), one of which is unambiguously a characteristic-based IF like Fallen London.

Something like a Telltale game wouldn’t fit because there is no text-based “subgame” involved; I’m not using this term to define an IF-adjacent field around choice mechanics. I also wouldn’t include things like Firewatch where there is a text-based subgame but it’s a vignette rather than a core component (For the same reason, I wouldn’t include Saint’s Row IV for its brief text adventure parody section).

Would you include any game with a dialogue system where the dialogue is central to the game? For example, Peter brought up the Blackwell series earlier…?

I wasn’t being serious about it, though. I could just as well have mentioned Bioshock Infinite. The context was “amazingly well-written games”.

For a dialogue-heavy system, Contradiction comes to mind.

I wouldn’t because the qualifying feature here is prose, not dialogue, nor branching. So graphical adventures, even ones that use text subtitles to convey dialogue instead of voice acting, aren’t “hybrid IF”. But a game where you spend half your time in a Twine-esque text space and half your time in a point-and-click graphical adventure would.

I am pretty strongly opposed to creating a separate Kind Of Interactive Fiction-Ish category. Aside from extra work, I really dislike the idea of carving the Awards up, for much the same reasons that I don’t want separate choice-based and parser-based categories. Either stuff is in our wheelhouse, or it isn’t. I’d rather make a bad call on a game than create an awkward halfway house.

If nobody else has anything to add, I’m going to say that, in cases where the community is divided over whether something fits into the IF tent, we err on the side of including it. The XYZZYs are a conversation about what’s happening in the medium, and I think that trumps any specific formulation of the medium’s boundaries.