"zombie" votes in the XYZZY

What prevents people from canvassing for XYZZY votes from their fans and random people not normally in the IF audience?

[rant=edited by mod]


I very specifically moderated that post and locked it. Sam himself answered your question so he is aware of your concerns. In brief: XYZZY award voting is very well checked for potential hijinks. IFDB voting in polls and in entries means nothing; you and anyone can nominate any game you want if you feel it’s worthy and even multi-vote in the IFDB polls despite the recommendation. Those polls are only suggestions to other IFDB browsers about what games might warrant a look for a potential nomination.

Please do discuss games in the context of XYZZY voting on their merits or lack of, but do not continue to make public accusations of “cheating”, especially after the question has been answered.

Do ask: “What prevents people from canvassing for XYZZY votes from their fans and random people not normally in the IF audience?”
Don’t ask: “I think people are cheating for [specific game] by stuffing the ballot box. What are we going to do about that?”



The original post is here; I split this discussion off from that thread, for the reasons I explain there. It’s a good discussion to have and good to know about how the one-game vote is being addressed (and also to see the Worldsmith post that set this off, which really was completely innocuous), it’s just that Hanon and I didn’t want the XYZZY discussion thread to immediately get taken over by this issue.

(On the general topic, I do think maga has said things are getting underway.)

[Mod Note: The relevant posts have been moderated and merged into this thread.]

I don’t think it’s a problem. As heartless zombie said in the other thread, the unofficial IFDB polls are just that: unofficial. I’ve gone back and removed some of my votes when more people voted on the same games, but if one game gets multiple votes, it doesn’t really matter. They’re just suggestions.

When it comes to new people registering on IFDB, I’d say that’s good! Even if a person does register just for one game, now they know about IFDB and might come back to discover more later, or share the website with other people. It helps the audience grow.

The IFDB Top 100 is highly delicate and unstable. I’ve never viewed it as accurate. Games can rise and fall by ten, twenty, thirty ranks due to a single new rating in the system. IFDB would need to be a much larger database for an automated list like this to work, and new members will hopefully help with that too.

Very true. It’s far from a representative sample. There’s always going to be situations where someone like Emily favorably discusses a game on a non-IF site or a blog and links people to it, and it might get a burst of votes. Good for them.

I was baffled for a while that every one of my games was exactly 3.5 stars (not that that’s bad at all, it was just odd). The thing is, not enough people vote on IFDB to really accurately represent a rating based on a level playing field.

I don’t know who maintains IFDB…or if it’s hosted on an overgrown 286 out in a field like Deep Thought somewhere. I just noticed it has “Games you’ve rated but haven’t reviewed”. I don’t want to review every game I play and click stars for, but I’d like “Games you’ve downloaded or played online but not scored.”

While I’m asking for impossible things, I’d also like a “number of downloads/number of online plays” - even if it was visible only to the author.

And 4 are people who started by rating Worldsmith and HAVE come back. Including me. I’ve read the Interactive Fables blog post - 5 paragraphs promoting other IF games to their audience and one sentence asking for a rating. It might not be many - but maybe it’s 4 more than would have without them.

I’ve also looked at their web site - particularly this page: interactivefables.com/links

It feels like they’re spending much much more time promoting other games than promoting Worldsmith. Even the email I got from them after I’d paid a little bit of cash went something like 'Hey, thanks for buying Worldsmith. Did you know there are other great games on IFDB…blah blah…" This seems like a good thing.

And it does ask the question. Where are the votes from the IF Community? I’m honestly curious - this feels like one of the most important releases since Hadean Lands and there’s not very much there.

Disclaimer!!! I really like this game and think it is a real shame that the only discussion of it here is the fact that it has an irregular voting pattern.


I know, I regret posting all of the stuff I did. Ade/mike is a very good author; map is one of my favorite games.

If you’d like an honest discussion about Worldsmith, unrelated to the voting discussion, I find it high quality, but problematic. I would easily give it 5 stars, maybe 6 stars, if it existed, based on quality alone.

But sometimes it’s just too much. The visual UI has so much of everything crammed into it that it’s hard to keep track of; I feel like modern design sensibilities lean much more toward streamlined interfaces, like iPhone icons compared to old desktops or Google’s homepage compared to AOLs.

The backstory is complex, and as rich as a novel, but it relies too much on neologisms. Its a known thing that new authors need to avoid; classic fantasy and sci do books tend to take a much more gentle approach, starting off in areas similar to earth in our time, before introducing the crazy stuff. Like the hobbit, Lord of the rings, enders game, etc.

I like the puzzles. The game itself is hard, but enjoyable. The later puzzles are good, especially creating the drone. But I feel like the exciting parts get contracted and the boring parts get stretched out. The part of the game I remember most is waiting for the lowest level to rotate, over and over again.

These are nitpicks; most games never even get close to this level of polish, so the focus on those games revolves around lower level things like bugs or major typos. I would still give this game 5 stars. But I think Anchorhead or Hadean Lands are more successful at introducing players slowly to a new world, and at cutting out much of the boring parts of the game.

This is separate from the voting issue, which I’ve realized I was wrong about anyway.

I think this is because the old-school IF audience is used to getting games for free. Choice-based IF has proven beyond a doubt that it can be monetized, but on the parser front, only Hadean Lands has really succeeded. And it succeeded because zarf was a long-established author by the time he wrote that game. Interactive Fables is a brand-new group. Even though its head, Ade McT, has released several acclaimed games in the last few years, that seems not to have been enough.

Now that Worldsmith is free, however, its downloads have reportedly spiked. It’s building momentum slowly, but it does feel like momentum is building as more people finally try it out.

To my great shame, I still haven’t gotten to the end. I beta-tested it before it had an ending. When the complete version was finished, I was too busy on other projects to play it again right away. But it is amazing. The opening world-building sequence alone could stand as its own game. That should definitely be nominated for Best Individual Puzzle at the XYZZYs, and it should probably win.

That would be Mike Roberts: ifdb.tads.org/contact. I’ve reported minor bugs to him and he’s fixed them within a week or two, but otherwise I don’t think he’s actively working on it.

If you check the “I’ve played it” box on all games you’ve played, you can see the games you’ve played but not rated via the “Your Played Games” page:

ifdb.tads.org/playlist?sortby=lo … zc5z&type=

That will sort by “Your Lowest Rating First”, which will put all your non-rated games at the top.

Wait! What?! I did not know this! How did I not know this!?! Ade Mct and Worldsmith author are the same person?!? I’ve been playing through some of the high placing IFcomp games of the last few years and Map is an AMAZING game. It is the only game ever to make me cry. And that decision about Yvonne!!! I had to walk away from the keyboard. I almost couldn’t bear to make it!

It’s a funny thing taste. I thought this was a really cool puzzle once you…

realize you don’t need to wait for the walls to rotate, but that gravity will pull you in whichever direction they are facing.

thank you for the discussion!


Worldsmith has been released for free, but on itch.io there’s a plug to donate something if you like the game. I think this is a feasible compromise. I’ve considered hosting some of my stuff on there both for this, and more specifically so I could see download counts. I doubt we’d ever see this on IFDB, but it would be neat if we could provide a PayPal “tip the creator” link for authors that people would like to support without fiddling with Patreon. I don’t think a shareware-type “Please contribute if you like this game a lot and want to see more like it!” type thing would violate any sort of competition rules about commercial games.

From IFComp’s Rule 2: “No shareware, donorware, commercial products, etc. may be entered.” Doesn’t ‘Donorware’ cover this?

You are totally right. I actually was thinking for post-comp release, though I didn’t make that clear. (why can’t everyone read my mind??? [emote]:lol:[/emote] ) I wouldn’t think it violates the part specifying that the comp version of the game should remain available for free in perpetuity if there was a voluntary “donate” link alongside the game post comp on a website like itch.io. But I could be wrong. I usually am.