IFComp 2016: Prologue   Leave a comment

The Interactive Fiction Competition, or IFComp, is about to start. Unlike previous years, this blog now has a following outside the interactive fiction regulars, hence —

Q: What is IFComp?

IFComp has beeen running since 1995 and was intended to promote short (under 2 hour) interactive fiction. At the time this was synonymous with “text adventures,” although now pretty much anything that qualifies as interactive textual narrative is welcome. (Fret not, adventure gaming fans — a large chunk of entries still fall within the genre.) The first year ran with 12 entries, and this year will be along the lines of 50+. Some games run short and some run long, but I’d say the overall average is an hour per game. That’s over 50 hours worth of content.

The only requirement for entry is that the game be previously unreleased. The public then is welcome to cast votes in the form of ratings from 1 to 10. The judging period lasts from October 1st to November 15th, at which point winners are announced and prizes are allocated. Lots more details are on the website here.

Q: Are you reviewing all of them?

Last year I swore I wasn’t going to, and somehow it happened anyway. This year’s expected to set another record for most entries. I don’t know if a full review set can even be done. (Note to other reviewers: please don’t take this as a dare. Keep your health!)

Q: What’s your judging criteria?

A: I can’t use a rubric without feeling icky; somehow everything feels less pleasant to me if I try to slot it into little categories. I just pick on the most memorable parts, either good or bad, and let the words flow.

I appreciate good characters, good story, good prose, and good gameplay about equally well. Different works set up different expectations. I have greatly enjoyed some IFComp works with very little gameplay and others with almost pure gameplay. As long as the package as a whole makes sense I have a great deal of latitude in what I like.

Q: I’m an author! Can I comment on your reviews?

A: The rules of IFComp now allow public comment, although I will go on record as stating that author comments on public reviews are generally a bad idea. (Sam Kabo Ashwell’s essay here gets into detail.) I’m not turning on moderation just yet, but I reserve the right to filter comments until the competition is over.

However, I am perfectly happy to discuss anything via my email address; you can find it at my About page.

Last year's winner: Brain Guzzlers from Beyond! by Steph Cherrywell. Very much worth a play.

Last year’s winner: Brain Guzzlers from Beyond! by Steph Cherrywell. Very much worth a play.

Posted September 29, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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