Transcript Nov 22: IF Comp Post-mortem

Introduction, and Post-Mortem Trend

Emily says, “right! welcome, and I believe it is time to start this session of the IF discussion club, which this month is focusing on the IF Comp that just finished”
Emily says, “so focusing on a group of games this time rather than on any particular topic: the aim is to look at any interesting trends or opinions that you had about that work”
ASchultz says, “Well, first, it was good to see 13(?) postmortems. It shows people are trying to learn from the experience.”
Emily says, “I always like reading postmortems”
DavidW says, “hm. I guess that is a new trend.”
Otaara says, “hi :)”
zarf asks, “jmac, did you ask the authors for postmortems?”
Emily says, “as far as I can tell, people are also talking more than they used to about doing re-releases or post-Comp versions, which I think is also extremely encouraging”
jmac exclaims, “I did not!”
MrPatient says, “ASchultz told us all to do them”
jmac says, “I wasn’t necessarily paying attention to this in years past, but I’ve been quite impressed with the postmortem turnout this year.”
maga says, “yeah, I have been much-heartened by this”
Emily says (to ASchultz), “good work ASchultz”
ASchultz says, “Actually, I think Hanon’s postmortem in the author forum got people started a bit”
maga says, “(of only, selfishly, for confirmation that authors are actually getting something useful out of my reviews sometimes)”
ASchultz says, “but thanks! The goal is, nextyear, to have those big thoughts before September 28 :)”
jmac says, “Mr. Schultz has been exercising much organizational-fu amongst the authors this year, for which I am quite grateful.”
Emily says, “I find it especially useful to read people’s analysis of why they made specific game design choices”
Emily says, “that’s something that tends to be of value for people at a wide range of skill levels, I think”
DavidW says, “Are these collected somewhere? I guess I’ve been unattentive.”
maga pastes: http://www.intfiction.org/forum/viewforum.php?f=32
DavidW says, “thanks”
Emily says (to DavidW), “there are a bunch of them on the intfiction forum, and I’ve also been gathering a list
jmac says, “Yeah, mainly on the forums. I just had @IFComp link to them.”
ASchultz says, “I think overall, we all were more organized. I mean, the low score in the comp was 2.7. That’s better than years past”
Emily says, “I was also really happy about the huge range of different types of content, different genres and systems”
jmac says, “Yeah. As I said in the blog, the fact that the top 5 games were made with 5 different systems is my single favorite fact of this year’s comp.”
maga says, “yeah, and even within platforms there’s a great deal of pushing at the boundaries of what the thing can do, particularly in interface terms”
Emily says, “I found Caroline particularly effective at that — I wasn’t a huge fan of the game but I was very much interested by experimenting with that experiential effect”
jmac says, “(I am a little surprised there wasn’t a bunch of ChooseYourStory, which I was expecting after this past Spring Thing.)”
maga says (to Emily), “yeah”
ASchultz says, “I’m not sure if there was a game that explicitly stated ‘I’m just glad to be here,’ too. Which shows ambition”
Emily says, “yeah, and I saw a lot less than I have some years of the “I know this game has a bunch of bugs in it but I submitted it anyway!! :) :)” which always makes noises come from my teeth”
DavidW says, “heh”
DavidW says, “I will always hold a candle for Domicile, regardless of its bugs.”
jmac says, “Many reviewers commented that the typical lowest strata of unfinished or broken or prank games seemed to be wholly absent.”
maga says, “well, not wholly absent, but vastly-reduced”
maga says, “(which is a long-term trend)”
DavidW says, “There was at least one unfinished game.”
ASchultz says, “at some point, I think all the authors wished they’d slipped a little more in”
jmac asks, “Sigmund?”
Alex says (to jmac), “Awwwk! Word on the street is that Sigmund is Ryan’s shark.”
DavidW says (to jmac), “Yes, Sigmund’s Quest.”
Emily says (to DavidW), “yeah, but I felt like that was clear about why it was unfinished, at least; it wasn’t like, whatsit, the murder mystery game a few years ago that at some point just randomly stopped and made fun of the player for playing”
Emily says, “Riverside, maybe”
ASchultz says, “I was also impressed with the # of people who’d written stuff elsewhere who came by. If we can get more authors like kateri, it’d be a good thing for the competition. There are other people, can’t remember who”
Emily says, “yeah, that’s encouraging”

Mentoring and writing groups for authors

ASchultz says, “one thing that helped was, I’m in a private group with HanonO and so we share ideas there for our latest project. Even when I wasn’t able to test I was able to kick ideas around.”
ASchultz says, “I think these things are valuable, as it can be tough to ask questions you know are basic, and also you don’t have to worry about talking about the game publicly before it’s published”
Emily says, “I’d be glad to see more of that kind of thing happen, yeah”
Emily says, “I don’t really know how to encourage it without joining up, and I’m sort of fully committed myself at the moment, but it seems really helpful”
ASchultz says, “Well, I think it’s good to have people who maybe have just moderate experience. It’s a big boost to be able to help with something I’d been baffled about 2 years ago”
maga says, “yeah, the gap in the learning-IF space is definitely something in the vague area of ‘mentoring’, which we have never really figured out a way to do, so anything in that direction seems like a good thing”
jmac says, “There was a thread on the forums recently where Dan Fabulich (of Choice of Games) was observing that his system’s forums have lots of open discussion about design theory and narrative creation, whereas the IF forums tend to be quite shy about that in public, mainly concentrating on super-specific implementation questions”
ASchultz says, “And I remember PaulS’s question about puzzles. I’d like to be able to ask more people about puzzles so I don’t annoy the player, but if I ask too many, I’ve discussed the game in public”
Emily says (to jmac), “the reasons he listed for why we don’t do that seemed pretty sensible: it’s a lot harder to show off a sample of a parser game”
Emily says, “but also I suppose just the sense that no one is doing it, therefore it is Not Done”
AdamM asks, “Would it be helpful to have a private forum that was open to everyone who submitted an intent ot enter?”
olethros says, “even though the only game that I played was one of the worst, it was still pretty good”
AdamM says, “If indeed that’s not already how the author forum works.”
MTW says, “the IFF is looking for more members”
DavidW says (to MTW), “Hope you haven’t kicked me out yet.”
ASchultz says, “Adam, I’d like that, if it weren’t extra work. We already have an author subforum.”
zarf says, “My memory is that on RAIF in the 90s we did a lot more discussion about design theory”
PaulS says, “I think maybe people worry too much about discussing in public. I’d have thought we could distinguish between discussing and releasing.”
Emily asks (of zarf), “more than has now shifted to blogs?”
zarf says, “but the discussions kept coming back to ‘well, that’s great, let’s see it in a game'”
jmac says, “(I actually fielded my first question about IFComp 2015 from a Twine user who posted a complete demo of a mechanic they’re playing with, then got nervous about whether that counted as a release.)”
zarf says, “and so it all tailed off and turned into IFComp entries”
zarf says, “memory plays tricks of course”
ASchultz says, “PaulS, yes, but this gets into “discussing that’s not discussing” and potentially tapping judges up. We’re probably being overcautious, but it is tricky”
Emily says, “Dan Fabulich also had a suggestion about a MechanicComp that would be like IntroComp but focused on core behavior rather than a polished intro demo”
Emily says, “personally I would be excited by anything that had the effect of encouraging people to do more systematic puzzle design”
ASchultz says, “I know that there’s one question I probably worked too hard to formulate so I didn’t outright show code chunks. There’s some grey area which might be useful to clean up. But it is not trivial to do so.”
DavidW says (to Emily), “hmm. There was an earlier experiment attempted along those lines.”
Emily asks (of DavidW), “was it any good?”
DavidW says, “There were a series of themed minicomps, but they didn’t get many entries. Some got none.”
Emily says, “I guess the question is what kind of help authors are wanting, but feeling they can’t ask for”
PaulS asks, “Or sometimes maybe not realising they actually need?”
Ghogg says (to Emily), “I guess it would be nice if we had active WIP forum type thing like CoG and Quest do”
PaulS says, “Sometimes you may ask for help on one thing, and the experienced colleague can say … perhaps you really need to be thinking about this other thing instead.”
maga asks, “well, hmm, are we really talking about culture-of-authorial-modesty stuff here?”
Ghogg says (to Emily), “I know Dan Fabulich theorized it is harder for parser to post WIP stuff but Quest folks do that all the time”
DavidW says, “(I’m remembering David Fisher’s 2009 minicomps: Sim-, Env-, Ability-, NPC-, Sense-, and GameplayComp.)”
maga says, “because that is a discussion with a whole lot of things tied up in it”
Emily says (to DavidW), “aha, right, ok”
Ghogg says (to DavidW), “the minicomp thing was way too ambitious, I thought”
Emily says (to maga), “I’m sensing it’s a combo of modesty but also not wanting to violate any no previous discussion rule”
DavidW says (to Ghogg), “I agree, unfortunately.”
Emily says, “I think dfab’s idea wasn’t to have a series of comps on particular mechanics, but just one comp where people could use whatever mechanic they wanted”
Emily says, “and test it out”
Emily says, “/develop puzzle concepts for it”
jmac asks (of Emily), “The comp’s specific rule, you mean?”
Emily says (to jmac), “that seemed to be the upshot of what ASchultz was saying”
maga says (to Emily), “I think there’s also an innovation-culture thing where you don’t want to show off your One Cool Idea until it’s in its most awesome shape possible”
ASchultz says (to Emily), “That’s a good way to put it. I know I check off on several things before asking a question on intfiction, and if it’s for IFComp, I check off a few more. Also, yes, there’s some worry some wizard out there will take your idea and do it a lot better”
Emily asks (of ASchultz), “…really?”
zarf says, “wizards, by definition, have more ideas than time”
Emily says, “I’m not doubting that that concerns you, if you say so, but I’m surprised”
ronald asks, “newbie question: is the ‘no previous discussion’ rule actually helpful?”
ASchultz says (to Emily), “Sorry, got behind on the comments… “combo of modesty but also not wanting to violate any no previous discussion rule””
Emily says (to ASchultz), “yeah, I meant, “I am surprised that you worry about someone doing your idea better than you””
Roger says, “Hmmm I’m about halfway through writing a new craft-theory-stuff essay right now; this gives me some ideas of where to go with it.”
Jota says, “More likely than someone else stealing it, to me, is the concern that players will see your cool idea early, and then it won’t be as impressive when you eventually release it.”
Ghogg says (to ronald), “hmm”
maga says (to Jota), “that too”
jmac says, “Maybe someone needs to refresh the IF community with the ‘Ideas are worthless, implementation is everything’ meme, which has helped me a lot.”
Ghogg says (to ronald), “I think part of the issue is it would also nuke the no-self-promotion rule”
PaulS says, “But the trouble is if your One Cool Idea turns out to be One Dud Idea That Seemed Cool At the Time, it might have been better to share a bit earlier.”
ASchultz says, “I know I often have little data on if an idea has been tried before, or how well…and I think if there were, say, more IFDB reviews, that’d help”
Emily says, “my method for dealing with this is to send all my unfinished alpha concept games to maga”
Emily says, “it works beautifully”
maga says, “but there *is* this thing where a lot of cool ideas only get done once, because they have Been Done”
Otaara says, “regarding not wanting to have ideas stolen, i teach creative writing, and when students worry about that, i tell them, look, i could tell every one of you to write a story about some very specific thing, and we’d still get 22 completely different stories”
maga says (to Emily), “because I am too lazy to steal them”
Ghogg says (to ronald), “since it would also be self-promotion even if you’ve been writing devlogs in a pretty neutral way”
Emily says (to Otaara), “yeah, exactly”
Ghogg asks, “related question: has anyone done a devblog thing on tigsource before?”
Otaara says, “mechanics are a little different, but i think the same basic principle applies”
DavidW says, “I’m glad that we’ve had more than one anagram-puzzle game. Different authors handle the idea differently.”
Emily says (to Otaara), “implementation matters a lot”
ASchultz says (to Otaara), “good point–authors can get tunnel vision that oh of course I’d write about X that way, which is good and bad”
Emily says (to Ghogg), “none of us, that I’m aware of. I did blog in detail about writing Alabaster, though I’m not sure how much that helped anyone”
jmac says (to Ghogg), “That’s a great question”
maga says, “also, blogging about projects which ultimately don’t get finished is the most depressing thing”
Ghogg says, “tigsource would have a different audience looking at it, too, but I know papers please was fully developed on the fly using the forum”
maga says, “(he says from experience)”
Ghogg says (to maga), “well, that happens on tigsource a bunch too, but people sort of expect it”
Ghogg says (to ronald), “anyway, to finish responding to your question, I think some Other Comp might definitely be interesting if they encouraged in-progress reports”
Emily says, “GDC has a session called the Experimental Gameplay Workshop which is basically 3 hours of people showing off unusual gameplay demos, typically for games that aren’t yet in standard release, and this is pretty much always awesome; PRACTICE has a session called Open Problems where people talk about things they’re having trouble with an solicit audience suggestions”
Emily says, “and those are pretty much my favorite aspects of both conferences”
Emily says, “so I wonder if there would be a way to lift one or both of those concepts for IF community use”
maga says, “that kind of relies on being a community-of-use discussion, though”

Discussion rules in IF Comp

ASchultz says, “I definitely enjoy being able to explain what I’m doing, even if it’s shouting into a void. It helps me a lot & forces me to clean up details I’d blow off otherwise. That’s why I like postcomp updates”
Emily says, “code releases force you to do that too”
Emily says, “though CM is a little thickety in spots”
jmac says, “I have for years (like, since our little 2010 mini-renaissance) been really into the idea of mixing it up more with the larger indie-game-dev community. And I wonder if the comp’s ancient “Don’t talk about your game! Aarrgh!” rule is stifling more than helping, here.”
Emily says, “it presumably does have the effect of preventing crossover authors from other forums from encouraging those forums to check us out”
maga asks (of jmac), “when does the no-prior-discussion rule date from?”
maga says, “is it new? because Coloratura had extensive design notes posted”
zarf says, “there was the conversation in Toronto where Jason Stevan Hill was lamenting that there’s no festival or comp that ChoiceOf games fit into”
jmac says (to maga), “I am not certain, but I believe it goes back to the Usenet days.”
jmac asks, “Did Lynnea post about Coloratura before voting was over, last year?”
Ghogg says, “btw, Creatures Such as We is getting a full ChoiceOf release”
jmac exclaims, “!”
Emily says, “oh nice”
maga says (to jmac), “before it opened”
zarf says, “the no-discussion rule goes back to the earliest IFComp, where we really wanted to get players’ reactions to the games rather thamn the author’s idea of what the game should have been”
Emily asks (of maga), “wasn’t that posted in some special location that you only saw if you followed the comp game link, though, or something?”
jmac says (to maga), “Huh, I didn’t know that. I actively put the kibosh on authors promoting or discussing their games anytime at all before November 16, this year.”
maga asks (of Emily), “that might be it?”
PaulS says, “There were extensive author’s notes on Creatures Such as We available during the comp, too, but I don’t think anyone complained. Happily.”
maga says, “(also Victor wrote about Kerkerkruip in something that was definitely public)”
ASchultz says, “It’s tough to change old rules, and I think a rule against self-promoting is good. But I think authors helping each other in the author forum with bugs etc. shows that we’re not particularly cutthroat. I don’t have suggestions to modify it though”
jmac says, “Like, Richard Goodness made a full trailer for Zest, and I asked him to kill it. Which made me feel kinda bad, but it seemed like the best idea.”
Emily says, “aw man”
Emily says, “I kind of want to see that”
zarf says, “but I think the notion was that if you release notes *with* the game, fine, all players will be reacting to the same thing”
ronald says, “the authors’ discussions of their ideas have been really valuable – if I was not here in this chat, I would have missed a lot of it.”
Roger says, “I guess we can watch SpringThing and see if it goes WIP-thread-berserk”
jmac says, “Well, he’s promoting the heck out the game on Twitter now as the comp’s glorious 23rd place winner. I can ask him to re-post the trailer. :)”
Emily says, “re. ChoiceOf stuff, I sympathize, but I also feel like it’s unlikely that the Comp can change enough to accommodate commercial games without becoming something totally other than what it now is”
Emily says, “it’d turn into something more like IGF, probably”
Emily says, “(on a way smaller scale)”
Emily says, “(unless anyone wants to start donating $30K grand prizes)”
DavidW says, “hm. Not too many IF works have trailers. A few.”
Doug says, “back to an earlier topic: I kind of feel like IFComp is not the right venue for your One Cool Idea game.”
zarf says, “Sorry, the ChoiceOf comment was a tangent about “mixing with the larger indie games community””
Emily asks, “wasn’t there also a trailercomp? with the Fallacy of Dawn trailer?”
Emily says (to zarf), “ah”
Ghogg says, “I still remember the City of Secrets trailer”
Emily says, “yeeees”
zarf says, “(and yes, I am now switching between mud and bot randomly)”
Doug says, “I guess it depends on whether the IFComp is a venue for games that want to win IFComp, or just games that want to be noticed”
Emily says, “sadly I am unable to have all memory of CoS scrubbed from people’s awareness”
maga says (to Doug), “it has pretty much always been both”
Doug says, “I think it would be nice of SpringThing evolved to be the latter”
maga says, “and I think that dual function is a Good Thing”
Ghogg says, “I am hoping at least one commercial game uses the back-door thing on Spring Thing”
Ghogg says, “there’s been plenty of commercial IF releases this year past Choice of stuff”
zarf says, “why is IFComp a bad place for One Cool Idea? Those games are traditionally short, and historiaclly they do okay in IFComp.”
Doug says, “hm, I dunno. It feels like apples & oranges to be comparing a game that wants to win vs. a game that wants to try something new”
zarf says, “as long as the idea is well developed”
ASchultz says, “o/t, postmortem #14 is *just* up, for Origins.”
MEMiller asks, “About the no-discussion rules for authors – does that mean, if I were working on a 2015 entry, I couldn’t discuss it right now in public? I’d have to wait ’til after next year’s comp is over?”
zarf says, “I guess it depends whether players want a game that tries new things to win”
Emily says (to ASchultz), “oh sweet — I was curious about that one”
ASchultz says, “and 1 thing I like about IFComp is, I don’t go in to win, necessarily, but do my best. It has the right mix of deadline pressure and freedom to do my own thing, for me”
PaulS says (to AShultz), “That’s great. I’ve been loving the postmortems.”
Doug says, “I guess it seems weird to have a competition where half (or more?) of the games are not competing and mostly not even interested in competing.”
Doug asks, “sort of makes it feel like why is it even a competition then?”
maga says (to Doug), “sure, but it’s a fruitful weirdness”
zarf says, “that’s what I mean. I don’t understand what you mean by ‘not competing'”
maga says, “competition gets people to pay attention”
maga says, “and to talk about stuff”
zarf says, “if experimentation is valued by the audience, then experimenting is competing”
PaulS says, “I think you can compete without having any real expectation of winning.”
Emily says, “I think it’s possible to enter something with no expectation of winning but still a desire to participate and see where you place; loads of people enter marathons they have no hope of winning”
ASchultz says, “Well, I think when I worry about “where will this place” I forget about “how could this appeal better””
maga says (to PaulS), “absolutely”
maga says, “and as I have long said, you can win the comp without placing first”
Doug says (to Emily), “that’s a good analogy”
maga says, “Rameses won IF Comp 2000 far more than Kaged did, really”
Doug says, “on the other hand, no one is voting on marathon runners…”
jmac says, “#MEMiller The rule is more ‘no promotion’ than ‘no discussion’. It turns into a stricter ‘no public discussion’ for all entered games during the six-week voting period.”
vala asks, “howling dogs came what, 11th?”
ASchultz says, “An analogy might be a mid table premier league team that’s fun to watch when they attack. They clearly make it better even if they won’t make the champs league”
Emily says (to vala), “yeah”
Otaara says, “you can enter something like that to stimulate the conversation, and a scene shaped by the idea of a competition tends to sharpen critical thinking & make people talk more”
ASchultz says, “I also think that there’s some stuff I’ll miss even after I’ve tried to zap stuff I missed, and the IFComp has helped me find it”
Doug says, “I guess I would have less cognitive dissonance if it were more expliclity framed as An Exhibition With Awards. Which seems to be what SpringThing is now.”

Screenshots on IFDB

Ellison says, “I was thinking the other day that it might be nice if IFDB had screenshots so it’d be easier to see a game’s general text style and go, hey, I want to play that”
Emily says (to Ellison), “yeah, I would definitely be in favor of that”
zarf says, “yes”
DavidW says, “ifwizz.de does screenshots.”
Emily says, “we’ve gotten way past where everything looks the same”
zarf says, “only a text pane rather than a screenshot, for accssibility”
zarf says, “(but if screenshots are what people will upload, do that)”
Emily says, “(maybe screenshots with captions?)”
maga says (to Doug), “I agree that it is somewhat weird, but strongly feel that it is a fruitful weirdness”
MEMiller says (to jmac), “Okay”
zarf says, “oh, right, it was jscott’s screenshot-o-matic thta I was thinking of”
Ellison says, “a form for captions or alt-text would be cool”
zarf says, “rig up a script that takes a directory full of game files and blats out screen dumps. I could write that”
Emily says, “I’d also be happy if there were a semi-official route for people that wanted cover art help to request it”
zarf says, “gimme a week”
DavidW says, “I would also like to see quotes from a game, sometimes.”
ASchultz says, “Screenshot/textdumps would be great. I also like the idea on IFDB of being able to see recent ratings, anything so people can contribute & see new stuff w/o too much hassle. Though I don’t know if it’s constructive to list too many IFDB feature requests.”
maga says (to Emily), “rolling Cover Art Drive? that sounds useful”
Emily says (to maga), “well, not exactly, because there was enough backblast to CAD I’m not going to do it again, but … something”
PaulS says (to Emily), “That would be very helpful, I agree. It’s amazing what difference decent cover are can make, even when one knows it shouldn’t.”
jmac says (to DavidW), “Oh! IMDB-style favorite-quotes from games on IFDB would be fun. (Until it actually becomes like IMDB and the quotes file just quotes the whole movie, twice, out-of-order.)”
Emily says, “even if people don’t get full-on special art, even just having something with good typography can be a big help”
DavidW says (to jmac), “I peppered my walkthrough for ROTA with selected quotes.”
ASchultz says, “I like the quotes idea too–I think a lot of prospective reviewers/judges are just sort of waiting for a way to get their feet wet & we need to give them the opportunity to make cool small contributions.”
Ghogg says, “I always include at least one excerpt in each review I write just because I think it’s sort of the text game equivalent of a screenshot”
Ghogg says, “(or in the cases where a screenshot seemed better I had one of those)”
Emily says, “I don’t know whether we would get anywhere with this, but I think making IFDB demonstrably a place for multiple types of UI would be a good piece of community outreach”
Ghogg says, “also, occasionally a game is really bad but has one memorable sentence so I just grab that”
jmac says, “I’m going to suggest the ability to link in quotes to Mike.”
zarf says, “yeah, do that”
zarf says, “I’ll think about this screen-dump thing separately”
vala says, “leigh’s textgame lets play vids are my happy place”
Emily says, “I haven’t tried those yet”
Emily says, “but they do sound cool”

Differences in play per system

Emily asks, “are there other author-support things we should be thinking about?”
ASchultz says, “one other thing–for the author forum reviews, I noticed Glulx had far fewer reviews on average than non-glulx. It was 2.5 on average, with 4 for Z games, and 5 for twine. This includes people who deliberately tried reviewing games that didn’t get much attention”
ASchultz says, “this is a small sample size but it suggests people are more willing to go in for the web based games, and they appreciate the ease of use. I didn’t do stats on voting patterns in general”
PaulS asks (of ASchultz), “Any idea why that would be?”
DavidW asks, “hm. Does that mean some people aren’t into interpreters?”
maga says (to Emily), “I think jmac has been doing a good job on the Getting Authors The Right Expectations front; I remain curious about how we could do more”
jmac says, “Generally, the easier to play a game was, the more votes it got.”
ASchultz says, “it may just be we were tipped off to that some games were long or tricky, or we started playing and passed, to try something else. Also Emily, sorry, didn’t see your question, hope the cross talk is not too bad”
jmac says, “Begscape was #1 in number of votes collected, far and away. (Hi Porp.)”
ASchultz says, “The updates to authors before & during the comp were helpful”
Emily says (to ASchultz), “no, that’s fine”
Emily says, “and relevant”
DavidW says, “I can have the oppposite problem. If I need to play online in a browser, that can be maddeningly awkward during my ISP-hates-me time of month.”
ASchultz says, “and allowing us to update real time in com was a big help. I don’t think any of us used it too aggressively”
maga says, “yeah, I think Jungle Queen got very few – like 20 or so votes less than the average Glulx game”
Ghogg says, “I think in some cases someone may have tried playing a game like Transparent but didn’t feel like they got far enough to review it”
Emily says, “similarly, I nearly didn’t get to play Slasher Swamp due to it not including a TADS file release”

Mid-Comp Changes

ASchultz says, “for authors there’s some worry that a bad mistake will pin us down, and knowing we can fix it removes a lot of helplessness. But I think it was outlined pretty clearly that it’s not a substitute for advance prep”
Ghogg says, “probably the most radical game update in-comp was Secret Vaults”
Ghogg says, “seriously, if you played the old default-theme version, look at the new one sometime”
Porpentine says, “hiiii”
jmac says, “Jungle Queen spent a long time as a download-only, Windows-only parser game, with hardly any plays at all. I helped the author set it up for web play partway into the comp, and it made up for lost time to a big extent (but still had, what, half as many plays vs. the #2 game?)”
PaulS says (to Ghogg), “And I think there must have been changes of substance too, because something that Emily said wasn’t clued had been clued by the time I played it. (Weirly clued, but clued.)”
Ghogg says (to PaulS), “I acutlally tried the original after I had weirdness talking with Miseri and we didn’t understand why our games were different”
jmac says, “Excuse me, half as many votes, not plays”
Emily says, “hm. it would be interesting, if not very enforceable, if there were changelogs for games that did mid-comp updates”
jmac says (to Emily), “There are changelogs! I think they may be invisible now, though.”
Porpentine says, “during IF Comp all authors should be placed in cages until voting ends”
Emily says, “oh! okay possibly I was looking in the wrong place”
vala says, “fight to the death in the cage can be the new miss congeniality”
PaulS asks (of Porpentine), “I don’t think we could afford cages for everyone. One cage for all?”
DavidW says, “I think a train car might be nicer.”
jmac says (to Emily), “Yeah, the links to the change logs are all gone now, but they’re there on /ballot by every game, as needed, when voting’s afoot.”
Emily says, “aha, okay. well never mind :)”
Emily says, “I failed to observe this”
ASchultz says, “Yeah, I definitely saw them, and I don’t see them now at the same link. A lot of the top games mainly just had fixed typos”
Porpentine says, “a train car would be hella cool”
ASchultz says, “and after the first 2 weeks, not a lot of fixes”
Porpentine says, “there are often murders on train cars though”
DavidW says, “And booze.”
Emily says, “make sure you get one of the kind with an upstairs dining area”
Porpentine says, “during the 50’s basically one distinguished individual was murdered per train ride. it was a tragedy”
Emily says (to Porpentine), “if you get the black ticket, just don’t go on board”

Repeated themes

maga says, “speaking of, at least four serial killer games this comp. Six if institutional hunting of humans for sport counts as serial killing.”
maga asks, “can I have my lumberjacks and spider-people back, please?”
Emily says, “yeah, that was surprising. Though it came with a marked decrease in zombies, so that’s an exchange I was willing to make”
PaulS says, “I got rather serial-killerered-out, yes”
maga says (to Emily), “fair point”
Porpentine says, “murder is the only topic worth discussing in this world”
PaulS says, “I wouldn’t have minded a small zombie to take away the taste of serial killer”
Emily says, “I do feel kind of sorry for authors who accidentally manage to hit that comp’s Giant Squid”
zarf says, “murder and the human face”
Porpentine exclaims, “one might even call it a matter of life and death…!”
jmac says, “You know, I’d been grumbly about how serial-killer-happy the general media’s been lately (like, even moreso than usual), but hadn’t drawn a connection.”
JoshuaH says, “That trend was… not comfortable. And I used to like horror movies, so… just a change in my taste.”
Miseri says, “(note to self: write an ifcomp-winning game; have a zombie appear one turn before the spectacular and utterly satisfying ending.)”
vala says, “i feel like michael lutz’s the uncle who works for nintendo could have cleaned up at ifcomp”
Emily says (to Miseri), “what would be even better: LEAVE ZOMBIE OUT”
Porpentine says, “oh totally”
maga asks (of Miseri), “is the ending *** UP YOURS, ASHWELL *** ?”
jmac exclaims, “Zombie cries!”
Emily says, “yeah, Lutz is awesome”
JoshuaH says, “I did like Following Me, which bumped right at my comfort zone. The post mortem was interesting, ’cause I was like ‘but I liked that about it!'”
Emily says, “yeah, I was actually totally fine with not having that much control over the story direction”
maga says, “yeah, if you are going to have a serial killer story then Following Me did a lot of things right”
vala exclaims, “i’ve had a lot of that with the post mortems: but i LIKED that!”
PaulS says, “All the zombies are going to have to learn to reinvent themselves as serial killers if they are going to get any work in future.”
Emily says, “I felt like the choices were all about making me feel uncomfortably on the spot, which they accomplished”
vala says, “seconded”
vala says, “i’m also sad that the subs/punish thing in the extropy cage was accidental & will be removed”
vala says, “*entropy”
Emily says, “yes”
Miseri says, “I was actually planning a game at one point, about being chased by zombies through a garden maze.”
Doug says, “in zombie games, YOU are the serial killer!”
maga says (to vala), “yeah, that was one of the more odd postmortems”

Creatures Such as We and asking writerly participation from the player

Emily asks, “out of curiosity, how many people did actually email a character in Creatures Such as We?”
maga says, “in that it was clearly intended to be much more of a game about tech job culture than it came across as”
PaulS says (to vala), “Well, I think the fact it was accidental tells you why it will be removed. I would never have believed it was accidental, but that probably says more about me …”
Doug says (to Miseri), “sounds better than being chased by zombies through a 15-puzzle”
maga says (to Emily), “evidently this was a feature I totally missed”
Emily says, “(I liked the experiment and kind of wanted to but at the same time felt on the spot to make it actually good, so I did not follow through)”
jmac says (to Emily), “Oddly I didn’t even notice that feature even though I played it through. (I was surprised when LG sent me an update post-comp that removed it.)”
Miseri says, “I missed it too”
Emily says (to maga), “if you have a romantic friend at the end you get an email address to reach them, which actually goes to Lynnea Glasser”
Emily says, “and I was like “cool! …uh.””
Miseri says, “Oh. I only made platonic friends.”
Emily says, “(I’m not sure what happens with platonic friends, since both times I played I was romancing various characters)”
vala says, “Me too. I’m totes profesh, y’see.”
PaulS says, “I missed it too.”
jmac says, “Oh! Yeah I ruthlessly friendzoned all the NPCs too.”
maga says, “hunh. I thought I had a romantic friend but that we were just taking things awfully slowly”
Miseri says, “although … wait … memory might be playing tricks … there might have been an email address show up, but if it did, I’d have assumed it was the equivalent of a 555 phone number.”
PaulS says, “Maybe I was expected to make do with Grindr.”
maga says, “evidently my character is in for a big surprise on returning to Earth”
vala says, “Lunr Landr”
Emily says (to PaulS), “probably the list of people nearby ON THE MOON is not as long as you might have hoped”
Emily says (to vala), “yay”
DavidW tries to remember which game he had a bromance in.
Emily says, “in general I really like the idea of allowing the player to have an expressive response to the game that goes beyond clicking buttons but in practice the transition from “press this option” to “compose a freeform email to this character” was too big for me, or somemthing”
DavidW says, “oh right. Creatures.”
Emily says, “otoh I loved drawing on my arm”
jmac says (to DavidW), “Hunger Daemon had brofist-bumping”
vala says, “i loved the >bump fist”
DavidW says (to jmac), “I missed that, I guess.”
jmac asks, “Aw man, you left him hanging?”
jmac says, “cold”
MrPatient says, “You can’t imagine how many synonyms I had to implement for that”
DavidW says, “I can’t remember. I keep forgetting what HD was about.”
PaulS says, “I liked the arm drawing, but not everyone did.”
jmac says (to MrPatient), “yay”
MrPatient says, “People tried HIGH FIVE, SHAKE HANDS”
maga says, “>FIST”
Emily says (to maga), “nooo”
MrPatient says, “That’s for the AIF version”
PaulS says (to maga), “That sounds more like entropy cage.”
DavidW says (to maga), “Totally different!”

Asking the player to draw on skin in With Those We Love Alive

Emily asks (of Porpentine), “what was the inspiration for the skin-drawing?”
Porpentine says, “I’ve always drawn on my arm with marker”
Miseri says, “I think I was most of the way through — or possibly even all of the way through — ‘With Those etc’ before I thought, ‘oh, you were serious about that. in real life.'”
Porpentine says, “it seemed like a natural thing to put in, a way to make it more physical”
Emily nods
Porpentine says, “to pierce the veil of dissociation and alienation. to avoid anemic digital flatness”
PaulS says, “I liked it for the more prosaic reason that it slowed me down, gave me a break and prevented auto-click setting it.”
Emily says, “I really enjoyed doing it and I further enjoyed seeing everyone else’s drawings, and it was at just the right level of interpretive choice for me — like, it encouraged me to stop and think about how I was feeling about the story but not spend so long away that I lost the rhythm of it”
Porpentine says, “nods”
Porpentine says, “yeah”
Porpentine says, “i want to add a part to the game where you can do assisted breathing”
maga says, “yeah, it struck me as a very therapy-like method”
Porpentine says, “like i’m resistant to the idea of adding grindier parts as ppl have said, the purpose is not to escalate–just little pockets of escape”
Porpentine says, “therapeutic definitely describes the nature of my work”
vala says, “this is another interesting theme: Raik, too.”
maga says, “(like, most of the games I thought about in reference to this are storygames like Penny For My Thoughts)”
Emily says, “I like the idea of incorporating somewhat ritual aspects into game experiences”
vala says, “that reminds me i need to get hadean lands ^^”
jmac says, “I can see it encouraging reflection on the text; participating with the symbols meaningfully requires a closer read and contemplation of the game’s prose, which is one of the things I sometimes point to when thinking about the difference between parser and hypertext games.”
olethros says, “good point”
dfabulich says, “Whew, OK, I’m caught up :-)”
PaulS says (to Emily), “So do I. But it could be overdone. Next year it may be the judges who need to be squid-like to have enough arms.”
Emily says (to PaulS), “heh”
Porpentine says, “; yeah”
Emily says, “I think it also needs a game that is at least somewhat you-the-player-centric — like, I really liked Venus Meets Venus, but I don’t know that reflective choices would have really suited there because it was so very much about a person who is not me”
Porpentine says, “yeah WTWLA is both about a specific person but also they have a certain empty space you can fill”
PaulS says (to Emily), “Definitely.”
Porpentine says, “it doesn’t do ridic amounts of character building”

Self-promotion during comp and contact with indie world more broadly

dfabulich says, “it looks like midway back there was some talk about what it would be like to mingle IFComp/IF community more with indie community, and particularly around changing IFComp’s rules”
jmac says, “This is one possible route.”
Porpentine asks, “oh? what rules?”
dfabulich says, “I agree with Emily that making IFComp compatible to commercial games would be too drastic a change, but I feel like the rule against discussion doesn’t do very much good”
Ghogg says (to Porpentine), “the no-discussion/no-prior-discussion stuff”
zarf says, “I was thinking about changing Spring Thing rules, actually, not IFComp”
Porpentine says, “oh yeah being able to discuss games would be good because some of us make our living off it”
dfabulich says, “I’ve long felt that there should be *some* IF competition in which shameless self promotion is totally OK”
zarf says, “It weirds me out that Spring Thing is now a festival for longer games that have to be written in three months”
Emily asks (of zarf), “wait, they do?”
Emily says, “I thought the three-month thing was for ParserComp
Porpentine asks, “its for longer games??”
jmac. o O ( I was thinking about changing IFComp rules, but probably won’t think very hard for a couple more months or so )
DavidW says, “Spring Thing encourages longer games, but I don’t think it’s a requirement.”
PaulS says, “Yes, I think that’s ParserComp, isn’t it. Spring Thing games can be the work of a lifetime, if anyone has a lifetime to give.”
maga says (to Porp), “traditionally, yeah; it never entirely worked out, and kind of fell apart in recent years”
Emily says, “Spring Thing has historically always *welcomed* longer games in contrast with the comp’s three hour rule, but it’s not required”
Emily says, “er, two hour rule”
zarf says, “true”
Miseri says, “I imagine that ‘hey, there’s a comp, i have a game in it, it’s that one there’ does not violate the ‘no discussion’ rules.”
Roger says, “The widely-misunderstood two-hour rule”
dfabulich says, “The nice thing about competitions in which shameless self promotion is OK is that the whole point of such a competition is to invite outsiders to the IF community. And as long as there’s some tight rules/moderation on the voting (you have to have played at least N, no spiking/spite voting) I think it would be a great way to pull more people into the community.”
Roger says, “Art Show used to be a pretty outre’ comp, I seem to recall”
PaulS says, “As long as I’ve been in any way connected to the scene, Spring Thing has always seemed somewhat lacking in vitality.”
Porpentine says, “vote shilling probably wouldnt be good”
Emily says, “Art Show was panelled”
Emily says, “and the games didn’t come out to the public until after the judges had already picked”
Miseri says, “Vote shilling was probably the precise reason outside discussion by authors was outlawed.”
Doug says, “I feel like reading reviews of games biases my voting more than reading author discussion would”
JoshuaH says (to Doug), “I’ve felt the same way.”
zarf says, “I am optimistic about Aaron’s Spring-Thing overhaul, in general”
PaulS says, “I’m optimistic about that too.”
ASchultz says, “I think it’ll be interesting to see what ST does, too. Then IFComp can decide what different to offer”
jmac says, “I’m going to make myself a task right now to examine the origins of these rules in IFComp.”
ASchultz says, “or what ST does right that can work universally, I bet there will be an aha moment”
jmac says, “I did eyeball them this year but they seemed on the other side of the line of things I ought to spend too much time thinking about, given all the other changes I was making.”

Voting patterns in the comp

Porpentine says, “god the spite votes in IF Comp are ridiculous”
Porpentine says, “of the top 5 games, the game by trans women had more 1’s than all the rest put together”
Miseri asks, “There was a game by transwomen?”
Porpentine says, “and you see more spikes in 1’s with the other games that deal with feminity too”
Porpentine says, “femininity *”
PaulS says (to Porpentine), “Raik I think had a big spike too.”
maga says (to Porpentine), “I think that’s kind of hard to disentangle, since those are *also* games about intensely painful personal experience, which a number of players *really* dislike”
Miseri says, “Is that necessarily the reason? There are so many factors in any one game to consider.”
Porpentine says, “http://www.ifcomp.org/comp/2014 look at the 1’s scrolling down”
JoshuaH says, “I think all the Twine games in the top 20 had very large standard deviations – almost all above 2.00.”
maga says, “(and yeah, Raik is the other game that fits the same pattern)”
PaulS says (to maga), “Yes, I think that’s a big part of it too.”
Porpentine says, “it was a fully polished game”
Porpentine says, “you only see that spike repeated when you get down to Krypteia
Porpentine says, “again, obvious reasons”
vala says, “to be fair, some people had visibility issues with krypteia”
maga says, “(but then it doesn’t show up in Venus Meets Venus, so I have no idea)”
vaporware says, “I think that’s part of the territory of making games that are more about experiencing a personal story and less about gameplay.”
dfabulich asks (of vaporware), “Which “that” is part of the territory? Spite votes?”
Porpentine says, “go down again, the next spike is at Venus meets Venus, a story about a trans woman”
Emily says, “it looks like Raik, The Contortionist, and Paradox Corps also have 1 bumps that don’t fit the rest of their curves. maybe HHH.exe”
huftis says, “It?s not really any big spikes, though. The games have *5* 1 votes (and even Hunger Deamon got one 1 vote).”
Porpentine says, “5 is a significant deviation if you look at the charts”
vaporware says (to dfabulich), “Whether people can identify with the story or are interested in it plays a bigger role in judging. I don’t think ‘spite’ is necessarily the right way to describe it.”
Porpentine says, “a 1 is a really drastic score”
JoshuaH says, “Yeah, and Krypteia very much played on some trad IF tropes (as did WTWLA), so it’s hard to understand the 1 votes as coming from a ‘this isn’t IF’ perspective.”
Ghogg says, “I just find it far more likely people might rate venus meets venus a 1 because they feel like it isn’t interactive enough for IFcomp”
Doug asks, “what is the definition of ‘spite vote’? is it more than just voting without having bothered to play the game?”
Porpentine says, “like even if you don’t like those games, you can see the polish that went into them. a 1 should be for something that completely didn’t try”
Emily says, “1 in the IF Comp traditionally for some people means “I think this doesn’t belong in the Comp””
Ghogg says (to Porpentine), “I think people ought to be able to choose — for example, some people might find a game really triggery and make that a 1”
Porpentine says, “which is a form of aggression and exclusion”
Doug says, “IFcomp rules pretty clearly abstain from saying what criteria you should base your vote on.”
Porpentine says, “plus in a year with many cash prizes, it’s a form of financial penalty, perhaps towards those who might need it most”
huftis says, “It would be interesting to know if it were the *same* people give the games 1 ratings.”
zarf says, “All IFComp voting is a financial penalty towards someone. Can’t avoid that as long as we have prizes that have value.”
jmac says, “I wrote voting guidelines this year that went into the various numerological traditions, including how 10s and 1s are respectively much heavier than, like, App Store or Netflix scores, and encouraged the use of in-between numbers. But I also reiterated that each voter should develop and use their own rubric.”
maga says, “I think a substantial number of people, particularly non-reviewers, vote entirely on ‘how pleasant an experience did I have'”
Porpentine says, “plus if you look at the chronic, pervasive harassment in games, people driven from their homes, sent death threats–I hardly think it’s a stretch to say that people would quite easily click 1 on a form”
Porpentine says, “why would someone who sends verbal harassment stop at clicking 1”
vala says, “ugh that gamergater guy doing reviews for “fun level” ughghg”
PaulS says (to maga), “Yeah, though I’m afraid I am inclined to see elements of temper tantrum in the 1s. But I prefer to ignore them for that reason.”
dfabulich asks, “I’m sure somebody asks this every year, but I forgot the answer. How much raw data is available about the voting? Is there a spreadsheet I can download that shows how exactly each voter voted (but anonymized the voters)?”
Porpentine says, “a lot of people find the idea of trans-ness unpleasant, it doesn’t make it right”
jmac says (to dfabulich), “I considered it, and was talked out of it”
dfabulich says (to jmac), “understandable.”
vala says, “i’d be very interested to know what the ppl who voted Game X as a 1 LIKED.”
dfabulich says, “The reason I ask is that it would be straightforward to run a simulation of ranked-choice voting using the numeric scores people gave”
Doug asks (of jmac), “I didn’t see those voting guidelines anywhere. e.g. http://ifcomp.org/rules#judges. Where are they?”
vaporware says, “FWIW, there was one game I rated very highly because it was the most enjoyable experience out of any of the ones I played, even though it wasn’t a Great Game.”
zarf says, “I’ve wanted to do that simulation too, but the organizers decline to spreadsheet”
zarf says, “(I accept this)”
jmac says (to Doug), “http://ifcomp.org/about/judging
dfabulich asks (of jmac), “How would you feel about running a ranked-choice simulation yourself? i.e. without sharing the results?”
Doug says (to jmac), “oho, completely missed that. sorry!”
dfabulich says, “er, I mean, without sharing the data”
JoshuaH says, “I think that it’s a wholly reasonable assumption that if a bunch of Twine entries got a bunch of 1s, then the 1s came from the same folks, especially since 1s are pretty rare otherwise.”
JoshuaH says, “Wow, I sounded pedantic. Sorry.”
jmac says (to dfabulich), “I dunno how that would work given that very few ballots ranked every game.”
PaulS says (to Porpentine), “It’s not right, of course. But it’s the price we pay for open voting, and I can’t see any other way. Even if we had rankings, I expect the same people would be out ranking things low for the same purposes.”
vaporware says, “From a voting-geekery perspective, there are strong arguments that the comp’s current voting system is already the best one (http://rangevoting.org).”
dfabulich says (to jmac), “There are IRV systems where you can abstain to rank a given candidate”
huftis says, “jmac: Understandable. But could you perhaps extract some voting statistics on a case by case basis? For example, it would be interesting to what proportion of voters voting on Twiner games also voted on parser games, or if people voting 10 on a game also gave low scores to other games (too boost the chances of their favourite games winning) etc.”
Porpentine says, “yeah”
Miseri says, “I’m not seeing the supposed 1-spike in the voting for Venus Meets Venus. If anything, the spikes are at 6 and 8.”
jmac says (to dfabulich), “I’ve love to learn more about some vote-nerding I can do on the data; feel free to mail me some info”
vala says, “I abstained from ranking games I couldn’t play for my-end tech reasons, so it bugs me to see ppl voting 1 for that.”
Emily says, “maybe it would be a good idea to continue to have non-parser-only rewards (possibly at a larger price point)”
Porpentine says, “the non parser incentives were nice”
huftis says, “In previous years, several people stated they gave a game a 1 if the game didn?t list any beta testers. I though it was overly harsh, but it seemed to have worked. :)”
vaporware says (to jmac), “In Condorcet voting systems, ballots are just non-contradictory lists of preference pairs (A>B, A>C, B>C), so incomplete ballots can easily omit some pairs. If there’s further discussion about this I’d love to be part of it.”
zarf says, “I have a ranked-pairs script which can be run over data easily.”
Miseri asks, “Didn’t the first ifcomp have separate categories for Inform and TADS?”
Emily says, “it did, but I think that would be a terrible solution for parser/non-parser”
maga says (to Emily), “well, I don’t think that non-parser is entirely the issue here, even; there’s a lot of associated stuff wrapped up in a big fucked-up bundle”
PaulS exclaims (at Miseri), “If we still had that Slasher Swamp would have won!”
Emily says (to maga), “I agree, but I’m not quite sure how to redress the balance other than through approximations”
Porpentine says, “there was beta testers for WTWLA but they weren’t listed til the end”
huftis says, “jmac: BTW, will the rating breakdown (bar plots) for the competition results for earlier years return? They’re dearly missed ?”
PaulS says, “I’m inclined to think that broadening the voter pool is the main thing. The more and more diverse the electorate, the less effective any clique can be.”
Doug says (to Emily), “if you’re talking about prizes (I kinda lost track of threads) then one way to redress it would be to get rid of prizes altogether.”
Emily says (to PaulS), “that’s possibly true in general, but I don’t know that it applies well to minority cases — if anything I think attracting more general public would’ve meant more rather than fewer GG-minded-types”
ASchultz says, “I agree seeing more voters would be good, Paul. I thought there was a lot going on on twitter this year.”
AdamM says (to PaulS), “I agree. I wonder how to do it, though.”
dfabulich says (to PaulS), “that is not at all obvious to me”
Emily says (to Doug), “Spring Thing has just gotten rid of cash prizes, so I suppose that’ll be another way in which it’s kind of a test case”
zarf says, “Am I right in believing that there were more voters this year than last year?”
PaulS says (to Emily), “You are probably right. I don’t understand enough about the political situation in all that.”
Emily says (to PaulS), “count yourself lucky”
PaulS says (to Emily), “I do.”
dfabulich says, “In particular, I had a long email thread with jmac this year about posting about IFComp on the Choice of Games forums”
jmac says (to huftis), “Yes! They will return. I’m sorry they’re still napping. I am screen-scraping all the old comp pages I have. (I have only database-data for the last 5 years, alas.)”
dfabulich says, “I volunteered not to mention IFComp there, to keep our voters away from IFComp, specifically because I was afraid we’d flood the ballot box like we did for XYZZY a few years back”
huftis says, “jmac: Great!”
Emily says, “in any case if the concern is “some people could really use the comp prizes for reasons of support and they’re being unfairly downvoted”, “fine, prizes for no one!” doesn’t really address that well at all”
Miseri says, “If we’re worried about the identity of the author influencing the voting, I’m all for requiring authors to enter under pseudonyms. Yes, some pseudonyms can be guessed (shut up, maga) but no-one can know for sure.”

Prizes

Porpentine says, “its def better to have prizes than none, theyre fun”
vala says, “just give everyone cuttlefish
maga says (to Miseri), “yeah, I think the question is more about the content of actual games”
Emily says, “I want a cuttlefish”
DavidW says, “I have cuttlefish.”
PaulS says (to Miseri), “I don’t think that would solve the problem. A porp game would be instantly recognisable, for instance, and if the problem is with the subject-matter or form that would be no solution at all.”
DavidW says, “Dried.”
vaporware says, “If we want to financially support authors making material that might not be of broad interest, I don’t think comp prizes are a great way to do it.”
dfabulich says, “IMO pseudonyms wouldn’t have helped with people downvoting Twine games just because they’re Twine”
Emily says, “yeah, Venus Meets Venus *was* pseudonymous”
zarf says, “You can buy a cuttlefish, but they’re kinda pricey actually”
jmac says, “Yeah, I see prizes are a great source of community fun, even if (because?) none are particularly large.”
Doug says (to Emily), “if you want a cuttlefish you’re just going to have to enter IFcomp :)”
ASchultz says, “With pseudonyms someone cold also drop hints for their own name, which might or might not be legal”
zarf says, “I mean, I encourage this, but 40 cuttlefish is a lot”
Emily says (to Doug), “no, I am never entering IF Comp again”
ASchultz says, “I certainly don’t enter for the money–Spring Thing not offering it will have no bearing on me trying to write something for it”
jmac says, “I honestly loved rattling the cup for donations and hearing from all sorts of folks pitching in all sorts of things. And I’m having fun prize-patrolling down the winner-list right now.”
Porpentine says, “ahaahah”
Miseri says (to dfabulich), “yes, but that’s not the problem pseudonymity is meant to address.”
dfabulich asks (of Emily), “Cuttlefish aside, have you stated publicly why that is?”
Emily says (to dfabulich), “yes”
Doug says (to Emily), “yeah, I know”
ASchultz says, “that said, my 2011 gift was a very nice morale booster”
Miseri says, “(also, my 2012 prize came through a couple of weeks ago. Y’all saw it, right? Right??)”
Emily says (to Miseri), “yeah, that was awesome :)”
dfabulich says (to Miseri), “It sort of is. The people who are downvoting those Twine games mostly don’t perceive themselves as downvoting trans women. They just saying, “this Twine game about how painful it is to be a trans woman is no fun at all, it has no puzzles, and it doesn’t belong in my comp” without thinking through (or caring) the consequences of that philosophy”
Doug says, “I didn’t see it!”
Emily says (to Doug), “translation of Sunday Afternoon into German”
maga says, “which includes turning the English family into a German one”
Emily says, “which is an awesome prize — I love prize concepts that add onto the original game. (see also: cover art, illustrations, sound tracks)”
jmac says, “But I certainly also agree with something Emily posted earlier that prizes are at pat-on-the-back level, as far as actual remuneration for work goes. External things like Patreon are more appropriate for actual financial support, and I’m happy if visibility granted by the comp can make that sort of thing more effective”
Doug says, “ah cool. you should enter the translation into IFcomp15! :)”
Miseri says (to dfabulich), “no, that’s a whole different factor. I’m only talking about the ‘this was written by a class of person that I dislike, so I give it a 1’ factor.”
jmac says, “I am very sorry to report that the author of Raik did not choose the German translation as his prize.”
Emily says, “ha ha ha ha ha”
maga says, “ha ha ha”
Emily asks, “what is the German version of Scots?”
maga asks, “would that be… Yiddish? Bavarian?”
dfabulich says (to Miseri), “IMO it’s the same factor.”
Doug asks, “Dutch?”
ASchultz exclaims, “Ah good! It’s still there for me!”
Miseri asks, “Haut-Deutsch vs Plat-Deutsch?”
Emily says, “so one thing that worries me about Patreon is that I’m concerned it doesn’t provide support for large enough projects; that possibly it encourages people to make lots of small things when they’d like to make fewer larger things”
PaulS says (to Miseri), “But I’m sure that’s not how anyone reasons to themselves — people will find ways of rationalising prejudice and it becomes well-nigh impossible to work out what’s really going on. So you just have to accept it, even if you regret it.”
maga says (to dfabulich), “yeah, plus, uh, I’m not sure that you can exactly slap a pseudonym on a Porpentine game and not have everyone know exactly who the author is anyway”
Emily says, “(nonetheless I am in general very much pro- paying people who make the kinds of things that I like to continue with making them)”
josh_g asks (of Emily), “seems like Kickstarter would fit that need, maybe?”
Porpentine says, “patreon is a rather variable thing, its hard to match to a project”
Porpentine says, “haha”
jmac says (to PaulS), “Porpentine is the ASchultz of Porpentine games”
Otaara says, “i was actually considering patreon just recently, and i decided not to bother with it because i don’t want to be pressured to put out a bunch of little junk just to get ca$h money”
Miseri asks (of PaulS), “In the light of what you said, how on earth can pseudonymity NOT help?”
Doug quotes: Ultimately, you are free to develop your own scoring system, and we indeed encourage you to do so. Score games according to your own experience, taste, and instincts. So long as you rate entries with thoughtfulness and in good faith, you can t do it wrong.
Miseri says (to maga), “I’m afraid some of us are beyond the help of pseudonymity.”
PaulS says (to jmac), “Aschultz is the porpentine of wordplay.”
Emily says, “I think the ‘in good faith’ part is the part being questioned here, but it’s awfully hard to check up on that on a case by case basis”
jmac says, “indeed”
PaulS says, “Exactly.”
zarf says, “Also if pseudonyms are mandatory then bad actors are motivated to doxx them”
josh_g says, “ha ha sob”
Emily says, “ugh, a point I hadn’t even considered”
dfabulich says (to Miseri), “If you mean, “how could pseudonymity possibly make it worse?” I don’t see any way pseudonymity could make it meaningfully worse. But could it fail to have any meaningful effect? Yeah, it totally could.”
jmac says, “FWIW, there are patreons that are “Give me a small amount every month”, e.g. the one that this very mud we are on uses.”
Emily says, “in short, why are people”
Porpentine says, “haha yeah”
Porpentine says, “but things have been getting better over time for twine in ifcomp”
Porpentine says, “howling dogs felt like the start of a turning point”
dfabulich asks (of jmac), “Is it literally a Patreon? Or just a donation system?”
Porpentine says, “just remembering what it was like to enter a twine game in 2012”
PaulS says (to Miseri), “Pseudonymity would not help because if anything it would help the rationalisation: ‘Of course I’m not giving this game by Turpentine a 1 because I think it’s written by that dreadful kill-joy Porpentine, I don’t even know who wrote it or care, I just know that it was some high brow rubbish with no response to xyzzy, and THAT’s why it has to have a 1’.”
Emily says (to dfabulich), “http://www.patreon.com/ifmud
Porpentine says, “im a horrible kill joy”
JoshuaH says, “I was considering Patreon to *only* fund junk. I’m a bit conflicted about the re-commercializing of some IF (partly for art reasons, partly ‘can’t afford’ reasons), so I had the idea of getting a little cash by saying upfront ‘oh, this is trivial’.”
vaporware says, “The implication that downvoting certain types of works is unacceptable, because it would be discrimination against the class of people who tend to write them, is troubling for a competition that’s supposed to be about the works.”
Ghogg says, “KILL ALL THE JOYS”
Porpentine says, “a patreon where you try to make the worst shit possible”
PaulS says (to Porpentine), “I was channelling the mind of the unavoter.”
JoshuaH says, “I found the ending of With Those Who Love Alive incredibly joyous, for what it’s worth.”
Miseri asks (of PaulS), “and what about all those other Twine authors?”
ASchultz says, “Oh, that’d be an interesting game title. “Porpitude, by Turpentine.””
Porpentine says, “thank you! yeah i mean theres a lot of happiness in my stuff”
Porpentine says, “its just tied to catharsis”
Ghogg asks, “does with those who love alive have only one ending?”
Porpentine says, “haha yeah i know”
Porpentine says, “it does”
Porpentine says, “i could probably make a second one”
maga says, “it is the ending where you go and wash your arm off”
Porpentine says, “but im not sure if i will”
Porpentine says, “yes”
Ghogg says, “nah, it’s ok, I just was uncertain”
Porpentine says, “the ending is TIME”
Porpentine says, “Porpitude”
Porpentine says, “a game by Orpentine”
Porpentine says, “the other ending would obviously be joining the empress and serving her sexy evil empire forever”
Miseri says (to PaulS), “See, I’m not talking about just one person. I’m not talking about protecting Porpentine (as if they need protecting) … I’m talking about the possibility that some people have it in for … well, transwomen in this case, but it could be anything.”
Porpentine says, “i’m a she not a they”
Miseri says (to Porpentine), “sorry, i wasn’t sure.”
jmac says, “(I never noticed before how the header text on http://www.patreon.com/ifmud seems to be commanding GenericGeekGirl to give it money)”
Porpentine says, “no problem”
Emily says (to jmac), “ha”
vimes says (to jmac), “hee hee”
Emily says (to JoshuaH), “(belatedly): I think the best case scenario for Patreon-based re-commercialization is that those who can afford to support the production of works that are then free”
Emily says, “but how much that can happen in practice is another question”
Miseri says (to Porpentine), “By the way, the part where the player writes that note to her friend? I was absolutely sure that it was a Trap, and the friend was going to pass it on to the Empress and get her tortured, killed, or worse, disgraced.”
maga says (to Emily), “if every indie supports every other indie, things will be perfect”
zarf says, “(sigh)”

Choice-based game communities, format-based factionalism, and founder effect

dfabulich asks, “I alluded to this a bit earlier, but I want to raise this conversation with the group. Is there a way I can talk about IF community comps (especially IFComp) on the Choice of Games forum without flooding them?”
dfabulich says, “My current suspicion is that the answer is, “no, don’t post about IFComp on the CoG forum” but this KILLS me”
Ghogg says (to dfabulich), “given they would need to play 5 games to vote, I think it would’ve been interesting for them to try the other stuff”
Porpentine says, “say miseri = yeah i can see that”
Emily says, “I think there was non-response because I’m not sure anyone actually knows, other than “last time that went badly””
Porpentine says, “damn it”
Emily says (to porp), “”;..miseri damn it””
Porpentine says (to emily), “lol”
Doug says, “I think the ifcomp is a lot more resilient than the XYZZYs to people only voting for choice games”
Porpentine says, “i finally speak the language of the dots”
Ghogg says (to dfabulich), “XYZZY awards are a little more about raw vote total (and I’m in a little of a bind because one of thegames I want to nominate is a CoG from this year, but the blizzard of votes effect worries me)”
zarf says, “Start the discussion in the summer and then you have time to get everybody in the right headspace for IFComp time”
dfabulich says, “I literally cannot use ifMUD without going directly to the cheat sheet I made.”
maga says (to Doug), “the specific concern is more about voting only for *CoG* games”
zarf says, “that’s all I can think of”
Doug says, “as long as everyone who comes from CoG isn’t 1-voting all parser games and/or 10-voting all choice games, I don’t think more publicity would hurt”
maga says, “a lot of the choice-based communities make very different kinds of thing and are not very interested in one another, as far as I can make out”
Ghogg says (to Porpentine), “if you want to do pseduonym for experiment but worry about being too obvious, you could always switch names with someone like Adam did for Photopia”
zarf says, “Also, encourage cross-over discussion between the two communities”
jmac says, “I do like the idea of telling folks about the IFComp, like, now.”
Doug says, “and yeah, substitute “Twine” for “parser” or whatever. my point is that the option of non-votes is present in ifcomp but not xyzzy voting”
jmac says, “This is very different than “Hey! There’s a competition going on, and it has some CoG entries!” and people reading that as “You know what to do, ho ho ho!””
dfabulich says (to jmac), “I was going to do it when we publish Creatures Such As We :-)”
ASchultz asks, “I know little about CoG but maybe it could feature a game of the week/month from intfiction, and intfiction could do the same for CoG?”
Miseri says (to Porpentine), “You can switch names with me! Everyone will wonder why you’re entering a middle-school parser game!”
josh_g says, “ha ha”
JoshuaH says, “RemixPorpComp.”
Miseri says, “full of thinly-disguised historical/literary references.”
dfabulich says (to maga), “I agree. It’s surprising how factionalized choice-based IF is, how different the artifacts are, considering the considerably similarities in structure and interface”
jmac says (to dfabulich), “I support this idea! (And congrats on publishing that, that is exciting)”
Porpentine says, “someone actually ran a game jam recently inspired by my games”
Porpentine says, “ppl made some pretty apt stuff”
Ghogg asks (of dfabulich), “is it getting any extra scenes/editing/dance jams, or is it more or less going to be as is?”
Emily says (to Porpentine), “sweet”
Porpentine says, “its weird for me because i like ALL forms of interactive fiction. i’ve played parser, visual novel, twine, everything in between”
Porpentine says, “and i’ve played a lot of the harder and more esoteric stuff too”
maga says (to dfabulich), “but house styles are *super* strong”
dfabulich says (to Ghogg), “We haven’t finalized a contract, but I figured we’d just publish the comp version right away for a bunch of platforms”
dfabulich says (to Porpentine), “Me, too.”
Porpentine says, “so its odd to experience factionalism from other camps when i’ve always been so excited about all, and covered many of them in my column when i wrote it”
Doug says, “I also agree that after the comp is over is an even better time to publicize the comp (and for authors to talk about their games, etc) than when the comp is announced.”
Porpentine says, “i think people try to feed controversy and factionalism because its more “exciting” than cooperation”
jmac says, “It’s certainly easier.”
PaulS says (to Porpentine), “Some people can’t really survive without red meat.”
Doug says, “for one thing, if someone who doesn’t know much about IF is invited to play any random comp game, likely they will run into something mediocre that might turn them off IF. But if they can go and see what the IF community liked, they’re more likely to see something they might like. (I realize this is a bit idealized)”
dfabulich says, “I guess it’s not that weird that choice-based IF is so various when you consider just how many types of things are out there for non-interactive fiction. Those factions run pretty hot, too”
jmac exclaims, “Hmm, I can work hard with other people to make something great in a long time… or I can get really angry right now!!”
Porpentine says (to PaulS), “most people it would seem”
maga says (to dfabulich), “part of it is that parser IF has never really been *big* enough to have the luxury of genre-based divisions”
maga says, “(except AIF, I suppose)”
zarf says, “I suspect that people don’t *strive* for factionalism ? rather the opposite. People strive to come to agreement on what they want out of games and “house style”. And we wind up with several strong pools of agreement in different places,.”
maga says, “whereas choice-based stuff has been able to speciate a lot more”
jmac says (to Doug), “I agree with you… it’s also why I love to see high-profile write-ups like Leigh’s article that called out specific games (even if I waited a month to link to it myself)”
Emily says, “I think there’s also a certain amount of trepidation about classic parser games going in some way unsupported”
Miseri says, “I’m a fan of the middle-school style, myself….”
Emily says, “though obviously Hunger Daemon did a great job of that and was well-received as a result, so”
PaulS says (to zarf), “Not sure about that. I think communities tend to define themselves over-against others too. No insiders without outsiders.”
Porpentine says, “people can place that fear of losing parser on innocent twiners i find”
Emily says (to Porpentine), “oh, totally agreed”
Porpentine says, “the narcissicism of small differences”
vaporware says (to PaulS), “I think the parser house style was already solidly defined before it was ever really challenged by a different one.”
zarf says, “There’s some of that, but the ChoiceOf games have a strong sense of identity and I don’t think that’s because the authors holed up in defense against VaryTale or whatever.”
Porpentine says, “if people actually paid attention they’d realize that their bogeywoman of twine had given more coverage to parsergames than many other outlets ever did”
dfabulich says, “I agree that parser IF’s near-death experience has created a unified community”
Porpentine exclaims, “if more people made stuff like CEJ Pacian…!”
Porpentine says, “CEJ Pacian is probably the most accessible parser author i can think of, and one of the most fun”
jmac has Weird City Interloper open in another window rn
dfabulich says (to zarf), “Well, in the case of official CoG stuff, it’s partly because we work pretty closely with authors on building games in “our” style”
Porpentine says, “weird city interloper is greattt”
Porpentine says, “every pacian game feels like a new experiment”
Porpentine says, “something that should have been obvious”
dfabulich says, “Though the primary reason we do that is just that we have a pretty clearly scoped out audience of people who want to buy more things like that. We’re happy to publish off-style stuff under our Hosted Games label”
maga says (to dfabulich), “sure, but founder effect is a powerful god”
dfabulich says (to maga), “true enough”
Ghogg says (to dfabulich), “incidentally, I only figured out the hosted games thing on my 4th visit to the website”
Ghogg says, “someone recommended Tin Star to me but I had no clue where to find it”
zarf says, “Twine had a big boost of “founder effect” with Videogame Zinesters even though that wasn’t cklimas”
Ghogg says (to dfabulich), “it is not at all that it indicates ‘here are some more games'”
dfabulich says (to Ghogg), “We don’t make it too obvious. A lot of that stuff is the author’s very first game, and it shows”
Porpentine asks, “founder effect?”
Porpentine says, “idk”
Emily says (to Porpentine), “the way people tend to keep writing more stuff in the same style as whatever big game popularized that system”
dfabulich says, “I wouldn’t call it “founder effect” in the case of Twine”
dfabulich says, “But indeed, people are absolutely saying, “I want to make a game like THAT””
Porpentine says, “yeah”
dfabulich says, “and then asking, “how did you make that game? Oh, you made it in Twine? Then I’m going to make my game in Twine””
dfabulich says, “Similarly for ChoiceScript, authors are trying to make games like that.”
dfabulich says, “where “that” in our case = our games”
maga says (to dfabulich), “that’s kind of how founder effect works! (so regardless of what we’re calling it, we agree)”
Ghogg says, “the lack of visible states is going to make the reactions to Creatures Such as We interesting”
Ghogg says, “stats, I mean”
dfabulich says, “I agree”
vaporware says (to maga), “There might also be some technical influence, like, the systems are built to support the first big games for it.”
vaporware says, “s/it/them”
zarf says, “True”
PaulS says, “People are bound to copy, though, aren’t they. You first learn something by trying to imitate; innovation tends to come later, even for hugely innovative people.”
jmac asks, “Was Twine just Klimas tooling around with theory without a game in mind? And that’s why it sat in the dark for a few years until e.g. Anna A. picked it up?”
dfabulich says, “In our case, Alter Ego (1986) was the paradigmatic game.”
maga says (to PaulS), “I don’t imitate, sir; I steal.”
dfabulich says, “I said, I want to make my own games like that, but with, ah, more modern gender norms”
Ellison says, “don’t know if it’s still up, but he had a web site up with some interactive stories he had written in it. sort of blog posts.”
Ghogg says, “one concern Chris had (this is long before twine, but I remember having this conversation with him) was he was bothered by how much text repeats in a traditional parser setup”
PaulS says (to maga), “Much nicer to believe that your $3 Hermes bag is stolen than faked, for sure.”
Miseri says, “It was a GIFT! From some guy in the back of a truck, but nonetheless!”
Emily says, “this reminds me I want to do a thing with Texture at some point — I like the idea of having verbs that operate on bits of text and it might actually be the ideal tool for a translation-themed game I’ve been contemplating for a while”
Emily says, “also that IndigoComp was a cool idea”
maga says (to Emily), “yeah, we should do that again sometime”
dfabulich asks, “So, suppose we wave a magic wand and all the big choice-based groups submit games to IFComp. Would that just turn IFComp into a war zone of factions? Or would it be a great meeting of the minds?”
Emily asks (of dfabulich), “a little of each?”
PaulS says, “There’s a whole very interesting discussion about how choice of tool may affect the end result, for sure.”
Emily says, “I mean, I think some meeting of minds is in fact happening as witness the number of different interface hybrids this time”
Emily says, “more would be cool”
Ghogg says, “I hope more people do not-parser-or-choice things just to totally break the idea there are two ways”
maga says, “there are going to be people who are loyalists no matter what; the number will continue to shrink as they are actually exposed to more things”
zarf says, “Again, I think the worst cases involve games landing in IFComp with no community contact first. (I realize this is my hobbyhorse, and an ironic one since I don’t spend time on IF forums other than intfiction.org.)”
Ghogg says, “I was also kind of disappointed chooseyourstory folks didn’t show up like they did for springthing”
Emily asks, “is anyone doing direct outreach to chooseyourstory?”
Miseri says, “Hm. I know a guy who might be doing ifcomp2015. I should get him onto the mud sometime.”
Doug asks (of zarf), “that sort of presupposes the idea of a single IF community, doesn’t it?”
jmac says, “Some CYS people put in intents, or anyway wrote me about it over the summer. But no I didn’t go swing by their place or anything.”
PaulS says (to maga), “Yes, but as they shrink they may become a bit shrill, sometimes.”
zarf says, “No, I don’t think so”
jmac says, “Man next year’s gonna have more than 200 intents. I am calling it now.”
Emily says, “I feel like there’s definitely a challenge for any new system entering the comp that comes specifically from people not knowing that system and thus not having pre-set judging expectations for it. Chooseyourstory for instance does all this slightly wacky inventory stuff that judges mentioned in Spring Thing reviews, and I could see how if that feature is in fact standard CYS behavior, some of the authors felt unfairly picked on by those reviews”
dfabulich asks (of jmac), “How many intents were there this year?”
jmac says, “Hundred-and-something.”
jmac says, “And that was a record.”
dfabulich asks (of jmac), “200 sounds like almost double this year’s number?”
vaporware says, “I think the idea of having comp divisions for different interfaces may get more appealing as the number of games using each one increases. It’s already hard to rank such dramatically different games against each other.”
JoshuaH says, “IF is dead, obviously.”
Emily asks (of vaporware), “where would you put Caroline? or Sigmund?”
Ghogg asks, “or Alethicorp?”
jmac says, “I am under the impression that lots of interested people learned about the comp’s existence only this year. Like, more than usual. We’ll see how right I am later…”
Miseri says, “I’d put those in the ‘Christiansen Wins’ category.”
dfabulich says, “If IGF can rank Crypt of the NecroDancer against The Stanley Parable against Perfect Woman, I’m pretty sure IFComp can struggle through ranking all kinds of IF against each other”
vaporware says (to Emily), “I’m not familiar with those. Also, I have to take off. I think I know what you’re asking and it’s a hard question, but I’m not sure it’s harder than the one judges currently face.”
jmac says, “Viktor G. had a heartfelt blog post about how difficult he found it to rank gamey-games versus personal-story-games on the same yardstick. I don’t think that’s a universal problem but I get it.”
Ghogg says (to dfabulich), “although to be honest IGF hasn’t had it unproblematic on that front either”
Emily says, “even before there were a lot of choice games, even among parser games there was a challenge of addressing things with wildly different levels of ambition as well as execution”
PaulS says, “Could it also be that when one tight-knit group gets on a bigger stage, they tend to feel underappreciated: sometimes they have quite deeply ingrained ideas of what is good and bad within their group which a wider audience doesn’t share. I think one used to see that sometimes with ADRIFT.”
dfabulich says (to Ghogg), “IGF has an impossible task, especially when you add the goal of being somehow impartial when everybody knows everybody”
Miseri says, “Hm, the first choice game I remember in the comp was ‘Desert Heat’ in 2000. It ranked 28th out of 53.”
Emily says, “aw yeah, Desert Heat”
Emily says, “I think Papillon is doing exclusively VNs these days, but I miss her”
Ghogg asks, “how is doing visual novels ‘leaving’?”
Emily says, “leaving the greater scope of IF? not at all. ceasing to submit content to contests that I frequently judge, though, yes”
Emily says, “I wish we had more crossover there too”
Emily says, “CROSSOVER EVERYWHERE BRING ALL THE PEOPLE”
Ghogg says, “there’s been a ton of VNs popping up on Steam this year also”
ASchultz says, “I know it’s extremely valuable to have people from seeming-nowhere help out. My spring thing 2013 game, I got testing this summer from someone who didn’t even know how to save a parser game. They did very well.”
Ghogg says, “which suggests they are getting financially more stable too (although I don’t know anyone with numbers)”
ASchultz says, “so that is anecdotal evidence that crossovers can help–their questions helped me challenge some basic assu,ptions”
dfabulich says, “These days, being on Steam doesn’t provide that much more financial stability”
dfabulich asks (of ASchultz), “how did you find each other?”
ASchultz says, “They were going to enter in spring thing, but they pulled out at the last moment. So maybe they weren’t from nowhere but from the twine forums”
jmac says, “[ Dinner bell is ringing so I’m going to idle. This is a great chat and I have a bunch of homework now?! ]”
AdamM says, “I’d guess that Long Live the Queen has sold around a hundred thousand copies. Some of those were from bundles, though.”
ASchultz says, “They mentioned it was their first twine game, though…the thing was, the lack of experience didn’t matter. They were open to questions. And this sounds mushy-motivational, but this sort of thing works, and we need more of it, and I have no clue how to encourage it”
AdamM says, “This site is helpful for that stuff: http://steamcharts.com/app/251990#All”
Ghogg says (to dfabulich), “well, you have more numbers than I do, although it looked like you were doing ok”
dfabulich says (to Ghogg), “Steam, ah, doesn’t permit devs to talk about specific sales numbers”
PaulS says (to AShultz), “You were surely lucky to find such people.”
dfabulich says, “But IMO Steam has become a place where people don’t buy anything at full price. No reason to buy anything today when it’ll probably go on sale (for 50% off or more) in a few weeks or months”
zarf says, “This is also true of not-being-on-Steam.”

Personal vs ‘Gamey’ Games

Porpentine says, “i have trouble understanding the conflict of separating gamey games and personal games”
Porpentine says, “like i dont think its that simple and i also think you can just rate them on their own merits”
dfabulich says, “IME App Store sales numbers have a steadier floor. A lot of iOS games just never go on sale, and people know that”
Ghogg asks (of Porpentine), “did you read Victor’s post?”
Porpentine says, “yeah i did”
Ghogg says, “(I disagreed with it but not enough to respond or anything)”
Porpentine says, “rate the game based on how well it succeeds at what it tries to do”
Porpentine says, “and like, its odd to place “personal” games in a slum”
Porpentine asks, “because why is a game about a trans woman more personal than a game about a cis dude?”
maga says, “my personal take on that part is that I am completely unequipped to judge how well a game worked as catharsis for the author, and if that’s the point then my opinion is irrelevant to that anyway, so I should just continue to review things based on what they do for me”
Porpentine says, “people are used to the “normalcy” of all these games from a certain demographic and they invisibilize that”
PaulS says (to Porpentine), “That gets you so far. But it seems unfair to me to rate a game which is very unambitious but achieves its very modest aims higher than one that tries to do something incredibly challenging and doesn’t quite succeed.”
Emily says, “(historically there have actually also been personal games about cis dudes entered in IF Comp — I’d put On Optimism and Moment of Hope in that category — and they did get some backblast for being weird personal whinging, but they were also not very well executed)”
Porpentine says (to PaulS), “oh i def agree”
maga says (to Emily), “also Rameses
Emily says, “yeah”
Doug says, “it’s not always obvious what a game is trying to do, or even what success would mean”
Porpentine says (to PaulS), “just in general i’d like games to be viewed on their own merits instead of by a single yardstick”
Porpentine says, “like i dont set out to make “special” “personal” games, its just a game made by me, just like every other game is made by someone else”
Porpentine says, “that is because the normative personal self is assumed to be a man”
Doug says, “but every voter is a single yardstick”
PaulS says (to Porpentine), “I certainly agree with that. I don’t find it that hard actually in practice to do. That’s probably because I am sloppy and pragmatic and Victor is rigorous and analytical.”
zarf says, “I too am idling for dinner”
Porpentine says (to PaulS), “yeah”
Emily says, “a couple years ago there was a game called Freedom about a person with social anxiety, and there were author’s notes explaining that this was something the author struggled with; but it was also not that successful as a game; and I think a lot of people were not quite sure how to review this in a way that said “here are my issues with this game” without feeling like they were piling on to the disapproval that this author perceived constantly from the surrounding world anyway”
Emily says, “so I can see the point that sometimes a personal game seems to require a more sensitive response in some particular way”
Porpentine says (to PaulS), “and rigorous feels weird to me when talking about something as squishy as art. if i play an arcade game, i can be like oh this is fun because it has tight controls and good feedback and fun colors. if i play a game about darker topics, i can be like, oh, this is very well observed and atmospheric”
Porpentine says (to PaulS), “i go with my gut”
Porpentine says, “i do agree that yeah it is harder to levy criticism at something if its about something perceived as personal. but its complicated territory because thats also where a lot of bigotry comes in”
Miseri asks (of Porpentine), “Ultimately, isn’t it about whether the game ‘speaks’ to you? Wouldn’t that be the ‘single yardstick’?”
PaulS says (to Porpentine), “Me too, but Victor doesn’t think art is squishy and he goes with his brain. I try to use the brainier part of my gut, but it’s more gutty than brainy for sure.”
Porpentine says, “so I guess in my personal experience I’ve had to develop a nose for criticism–understanding whether it’s constructive or trolling”
Doug asks (of Porpentine), “I thought ‘go with your gut’ was what you disliked about the way some people vote?”
Porpentine says, “my gut is very friendly and kind”
Porpentine says, “like i’ve implimented tons of feedback that people have given me into basically every kind of game i make”
Porpentine says, “like my gut never gives a game a 1 just because it’s written by a man :)”
dfabulich says, “Prior to Desert Heat, I think “Life on Beal Street” in 1999 counts”
PaulS says, “I think the problem in the case of the game which says overtly “I struggle with this” is that it’s actually (unintentionally) a bit manipulative, because it sort of threatens the critic: “If you say anything bad about this, you are saying something that may hurt me personally.””

Winding down and some final announcements

ASchultz asks, “Hey, I need to get going, but I have a few random things to throw out. Anyone mind a bit of a text dump?”
Emily says, “go for it”
Porpentine says, “gotcha”
Porpentine says, “sure”
dfabulich says (to ASchultz), “How bad could it be? ;-)”
DavidW says (to dfabulich), “We’ll find out.”
ASchultz says, “A tangent re: working together–each year I swapped games/testing with someone and I was pleased with the result. Marco Innocenti in 2012, Truthcraze in 2013, Mr Patient in 2014 (he helped w/my 2012-13 post comp releases, I didn’t ask him for Oafs help & should’ve.) I think this is generally good, IFComp or no, and we need a way to establish this beyond just “looking for collaborators” in the IFComp forums or even if.gametesting.org, e.g. reciprocal testing. I think the shufflecomp model of random testers worked very well.”
ASchultz says, “in the end I think we all want to be around people who can help us say what we really meant to say and have as few reviewers as possible saying, gee, the writer missed a big chance here. This isn’t cutting edge theory, but stuff like the above helps regardless of talent level. I know it helped me get a lot better, or make a lot fewer huge mistakes.”
ASchultz says, “Also, Hanon Ondricek has a beta post-comp of transparent out. He sent it to a few testers but I bet you can poke him on intfiction.org if you want to help out. He didn’t ask me to do this, but I want to see the game be polished.”
ASchultz says, “Thanks for the conversation all So much to think about, glad I stopped by.”
Emily says, “thanks for coming!”
DavidW says, “A more polished Transparent would be good, yes.”
DavidW says, “See you, ASchultz!”
Emily says, “I’m in fact going to wind down the official portion of this in a few minutes because it’s after 11 PM here (though people can continue chatting here as long as they wish, obviously)”
Emily asks, “were there other major topics people wanted to bring up?”
maga says, “since things seem to be winding up, Jacq wanted me to make a plug”
Emily asks, “oh?”
maga says, “tomorrow at noon Eastern, the post-comp ClubFloyding of the comp winners begins, if you’d like to join them on the MUD for some collaborative play”
Emily says, “excellent”
DavidW says, “I wish I had played more games than I actually managed.”
PaulS says, “I’ll see if I can make it. Meanwhile, bed time. Thanks for the interesting discussion everyone.”
Emily says, “good night”
Miseri says, “I need to get dinner. Something with red meat.”
Emily says, “…okay. we seem to be wrapping up, so farewell and thanks for coming”
Porpentine exclaims, “night!”
Emily says, “I’ll post a transcript soon”
maga says, “night all”
dfabulich says, “good night”
DavidW says, “Thanks for running this session.”
AdamM says, “Thanks, and good night.”
Doug says, “Practice Club assignment: make a game about running a game comp.”
maga says, “There are 24 intents here. THROW THEM IN THE FIRE You desperately shovel 8 intents into the fire. More intents are creeping in under the door. There are 49 intents here.”

Revisiting the idea of personal IF

vaporware | [theoryclub]/399 jmac says, “Viktor G. had a heartfelt blog post about how difficult he found it to rank gamey-games versus personal-story-games on the same yardstick. I don’t think that’s a universal problem but I get it.”
vaporware says, “After some thought, I think that gets at the distinction I was looking for better than interface does. Some works are primarily about reading stories, and the choices you make influence which story you read; others are primarily about bopping around a world making choices, and the story is a theme that puts the choices in context. These types will tend to be — and to be intended to be — judged by very different metrics.”
vaporware | [theoryclub]/435 Porpentine asks, “because why is a game about a trans woman more personal than a game about a cis dude?”
vaporware says, “So in that light, the answer is obvious: it isn’t. The people who vote down personal stories about being a trans woman because ‘they don’t belong in the comp’ are likely to also vote down personal stories about being a cis dude. OTOH, they’re likely to give puzzle crawlers starring trans women the same high scores they give puzzle crawlers starring cis dudes.”
vaporware says, “That’s why I think parallel divisions in the comp would be a good idea: people will be in the right mindset to judge what they’re playing, and jerks who come in and vote down everything in the division they don’t like won’t affect the outcome.”
josh_g says, “waaaay belated, I was sort of wondering if having extra awards for some of these categories would help”
josh_g says, “but suspecting that the logistics of such would fall apart. things like “Best Parser Game”, “Best Non-Parser”, “Best Game-With-No-World-Model””
josh_g says, “(clearly that last one is the catchiest)”
vaporware says, “There were special prizes for parser and non-parser this time.”
josh_g says, “oh ho”
josh_g says, “I guess I should pay more attention”

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