Reviews for the 2012 IF Comp are now complete! Look past the MORE tag for some recommendations from this year’s crop, and general thoughts.
Following a trend I’ve noticed over the last couple of years, this year’s Comp had relatively few games that felt wholly untested, unplayable or trollish. Just about everything felt like a sincere effort, and a lot of it was a lot of fun, and I want to thank the authors, the volunteer testers, and the comp organizers for their hard work in putting together this year’s competition.
To authors in particular, it’s worth reiterating sometimes that getting a game finished at all is not a slight accomplishment.
My personal favorites were:
howling dogs: great world-building, evocative prose, masterful use of hypertext possibilities; themes often not seen in IF
Eurydice: truthful observations about the experience of grief, generally strong writing
Guilded Youth: well-observed character writing, absolutely beautiful and technically advanced UI experience
Sunday Afternoon: lush Victorian setting, classic set-piece puzzles, not breaking a lot of new ground but re-covering old ground stylishly
Andromeda Apocalypse: generally fair science fictional puzzles, classy feelies, world-building I’d like to see more of, and an appealing main NPC
Living Will: unique concept, intriguing formal experiment, real-world issues
Twine was a bit of a revelation. I knew it existed as a tool and that Anna Anthropy had done some cool experiments with it, but I’d been clueless about the existence of a larger community of Twine-using authors. More thoughts on that on this blog as I have time to explore the offerings out there.
A couple of authors expressed to me privately a frustration that community expectations (about having and listing beta-testers, making the game available in specific formats, or about specific handling of NPCs or puzzles) came as a surprise to them once reviews started appearing. There are two pieces to this point, one being “how can the community get better at evaluating games on their own terms?” and the other being “how can we help authors understand what the judges may expect?” and I don’t actually have a great answer to either of those, but it’s worth consideration.
Finally: while the comp has been in progress, a ton of other things have been going on that are relevant to the IF community. I’ve been trying to cover some of those items as well: new work in Twine, ChoiceScript and StoryNexus; new commercial or semi-commercial text adventures; other competitions, conventions, and meetups. The world of interactive narrative is currently much, much bigger than the old IF community. There’s a lot to see.