2016 Interactive Fiction Competition


I have to admit this entire experience has been a little surreal for me. First in that a complete nobody within the IF community is having his reviews largely viewed and discussed across multiple forums. I really only anticipated the mods and maybe a few bored(altered state?) forum users to briefly glance through them. Who really cares what I have to say? Well, I put them up for public view, and I am glad that some people are getting something out of it even if that something is merely at my expense. And the second thing, arguably the more shocking to me, is that the merits of my online persona are being brought into question by an individual who hides behind a character from a completely terrible cartoon that was marketed to preteens.

I can assure everyone here that I take this forum, the intfiction forum where my reviews are listed, and all IF competitions as seriously as I take paying my taxes and the reality of my own mortality. I’m not saying that I’m a saint everywhere else, but I do view these three things I mentioned as a few of the tiny islands of civilization scattered across the open sea of unmitigated violence and degeneracy that is the internet.

I’m not a troll, I’m not a sock puppet, my reviews are very real, and I follow all rules that pertain to a specific competition. I don’t know a single person in this community, I would run for public office if I wanted to get into politics, and my votes are solely based on my own personal metrics. This was confirmed as the correct thing to do by an individual who works with the competition on an official basis, and this conversation was public. While I respect your criticisms on my reviews, I feel it would only be in the interest of fairness if you also linked your reviews so that they can be eviscerated as well.

I feel sorry for anybody who disparages the value of fun.

If you are looking for new ideas in an IF game, you are either fooling yourself or you haven’t read enough to understand how foolish your quest is. Every note has been played in the past as has every word been written. The fascinating part is exploring how these authors are presenting these eternal stories.

As far as the “Ebegging” comment goes, I am not sure what you are specifically referring to, so I will address all options. I personally have never taken a single penny or item from anybody online for any reason, even when offered in the past I have politely declined, and I only accept money in real life that I have earned. As far as my repeated insertion of Trizbort or authors who have a patreon account or something similar: they are offering something for free, you can choose to support their future projects or not, and I put exponentially more value in what they are doing than I do Ewhiners, which is why I mentioned them.

This next comment is not directed at anybody specifically, but it is one that I have been meaning to make for some time now. I am sick of seeing the barbed comments sometimes being thrown at Emily Short and Andrew Plotkin on these various boards. On the few opportunities I had to communicate with Emily Short, she treated me with a very kind heart, and Andrew Plotkin was very respectful and professional with me on the few interactions I had with him. I have the utmost respect for the two of them, and people should really start carefully considering how much they themselves contributed to IF before interjecting their opinions on those two people.

PeterPiers: I honestly enjoy reading what you have to say, there is usually a lot of value in what you post on one level or another. However, your comments on why I use a dead guy as my avatar were completely terrible. I am not saying that you are wrong necessarily on my avatar being terrible, I am just pointing out that your reasoning for coming to this conclusion is completely terrible. I don’t want to sidetrack on this too much, and I doubt anybody has read this far anyways.

AndrewS: Thank you. From the bottom of my heart: Thank You! I go out of my way to be a decent person, and all I ask for it is that one person acknowledges the fact that I am not a total piece of shit, and you did that, so thank you.


Please tell me what my conclusion and reasoning were. I thought my conclusion was that, although it is strange (and morally reprehensible, in my opinion) for someone to go around calling him/herself by the name of a existing, dead person (and using their photo as their avatar), and although I personally really dislike this habit of posting placeholders for reviews, in the end you were nothing but a well-meaning, constructive participant in the community, and more of an asset than anything else.

Reading back through my posts I realise this probably didn’t really come across as clearly as it did in my head. I’m sorry, and I apologise, for not being clearer. Especially about my very first paragraph on the discussion. Too much emotion and not enough thought behind that one.

It must be said that when speaking about your reviews and about WIPs I went off on a bit of a tangent. It is, rest assured, mostly unrelated to you. I am far more aggravated by people posting WiPs in IFDB. In-comp updates, placeholder reviews, WiPs in IFDB, they all press the same buttons for me.


Everything I’m about to say is subjective, even more so than my usual posts. This really is all about moral perception, and no one is right and no one is wrong. That doesn’t mean we can’t discuss it, though, so that’s what I’m doing. :slight_smile:

But they’re fictitious. I mean, I went around by nicks like Jemima (from Cats), Puss In Boots, and WallE, always accompanied by the photographs of the characters. I could call myself Fox Mulder and have a picture of David Duchovny, and it would still feel okay because I wasn’t purporting to be David Duchovny, which is just impersonating; I was pretending to be a ficticious FBI agent obsessed with the paranormal, who happened to look exactly like David Duchovny.

My name is Pedro Pires. When I anglicised that the first time around, I learned about Sir Peter Pears, who was also a tenor, who died the year I was born, and who was English, a country and culture I highly appreciate and relate to. It was too delicious to resist, so I started going by Peter Pears. Then I started posting on YouTube, on the videos of other singers. Then it dawned on me that, however innocent my intentions were, I was using the name of a dead man to voice my opinions of fellow singers.

That’s when it struck em how wrong it was. Exeunt Peter Pears, RIP. Enter Peter Piers.

So maybe my view of using a dead person’s name and photo have to do with that. Thing is, though, I had no idea the real Billy Mays existed. So, everything that this person says is conflated, in my head, with the real Billy Mays. The internet lasts a very long time, and is international - how many non-Americans would know the real Billy Mays?

Basically, this boils down to putting words in the mouths of dead people. Here and now we may know it’s all for fun or for hommage (and when people use fake names, well, they stand the test of time - I could call myself Frodo Baggins or King Arthur and no one would bat an eyelid). In a few year’s time, though, or today and across a continent or two, lines get blurred. People get honestly confused. And I don’t think this is at all fair to the dead person.

I mean, would you honestly go around in the real world using a dead person’s name and photograph (with honest and legal intentions)? What makes it different on the internet?

All of this has no bearing whatsoever on the person calling him/herself Billy Mays on these forums. Their conduct is beyond repproach, their enthusiasm commendable. This is a discussion about a practice which this person happens to have engaged in, and which started the argument going. While I personally disapprove of the practice, the views I have just expressed reflect upon the practice itself and not on the person who is engaged in it

DISCLAIMER: My posts have never needed a disclaimer before. Or maybe they did and I never used one? Hmmm.


I thought I didn’t have anything to say about this but, but it turns out that I do (as usual).

Emily Short: she has never failed to impress me with her kindness and thoughtfullness. Her participation in this thread is uncharacteristic, and the responses she gather equally so. I’m comfortable speaking about this because soon after her post here and my reply she contacted me by e-mail and we had a constructive exchange which did enlighten me somewhat, offering me some perspective (bg did the same thing, offering perspective of a different sort. I do like to be a part of a place where this sort of thing can happen, when all’s said and done). I stand by what I said - not necessarily the tone, though. Bottom line, yes, Emily Short is one of the beating hearts of the community, and probably the kindest.

Re Zarf, whatever I ever have to say about him has to be tempered with the fact that I LOVE his games. Lovelovelovelovelove. I dislike his posts on occasion, but that doesn’t matter, because he’s not only an excellent designer and a poetic writer and a dedicated programmer, he’s also a continuing contributor to the technological aspect of modern IF, and his Lecrote terp is filling a major gap in the Mac OS right now.

“and people should really start carefully considering how much they themselves contributed to IF before interjecting their opinions on those two people.”

(Hmm, should I bring up how some other people get thrown accusations at regardless of how much they have contributed, and still do, to IF? Nah, better not, these two sentences probably make my point anyway)


I have no argument with your overall conclusion, and you are absolutely correct that my two word reviews were egregiously wrong on my part. That was never intended to be my final word on those games, I still have a lot of things to extrapolate on in my little review section even as of now.I admitted fault in my reviews, and went back to correct them. There are still a handful of shorter 3 sentence reviews that I will be going back to fill in. I agree that my screen name and picture are not the best or brightest thing that I could have selected, but I liked them at the time. Where I disagree is how you refer to my choice as immoral. I would find it hard to believe that anyone viewing this forum would mistake me for the man, the company, or the product. He was a public figure, so it is not like I am using somebody with an expectation of privacy. I am not using an autopsy photo of the man as my avatar picture. He wasn’t a particularly controversial or overtly offensive figure such as Charles Manson or Lee Harvey Oswald. About the worst thing he ever did was the occasional blow and pitched household products that never hurt anybody to my knowledge. I am not entirely sure if it is possible to do it here, but if it really bothers you, you seem like a reasonable enough person, I will change my name and picture on this forum (and this forum alone). I would be willing to get into a friendly debate with you concerning just about every other topic there is, not this one as I have no real attachment to it, if you disagree with anything I just said, please feel free to comment on where you believe I am wrong, and I will agree with you.


In the US. I’m Portuguese and had never heard of the guy, and I wonder how many other people who have seen you in IntFiction also had. Therein lies a big part of my point. If you went around saying you were Barack Obama, or Michael Jordan, people would probably get the hint. But if I went around saying I was Herman José, or Luis de Matos… that would mean nothing to you, and you’d take me at face value. But the real Herman José and Luis de Matos, high-profile Portuguese celebrities (one a comedian, the other a world-class magician), would probably sue me for impersonation, and rightly so. If I called myself Raul Solnado or Mário Viegas, even though they’re dead, people would find it distasteful. You, of course, have no idea who these people are. And that’s a big part of my point.

This is personal, and I would ask you not to change your name or your persona unless you believe there is something questionable about it. I enjoy conversing and arguing. I do not enjoy forcing people to do what I think is right. Eventually we’ll agree to disagree and say no more about it, I expect, and that’ll be just fine by me (some people will find this rather hard to swallow. Well, in some respects I will go the extra mile. Like in pestering everyone to make a downloadable version of their game available as well. I think there’s a difference here).

It would be wrong, however, not to have brought up the issue at all, even if just for discussing it. So I did.


[quote=“PeterPiers, post:188, topic:300”]and you’d take me at face value.

The only time I take things at face value is when time constraints prevent otherwise.

I wouldn’t say that I assume everyone is lying to me until I’m able to prove otherwise, but it’s close.


Hmm. I hope we’re not talking at cross purposes. I did not mean to say “you’d take me at face value, shallowly, judging me entirely on the basis of what little you’re seeing of what I decided to show you”. I meant “you’d take me at face value, assuming that I am being honest, and that you can trust the persona and information I am passing to you as a basic building block of at least a companiable relationship amidst fellow hobbyists”.

Though I respect that you prefer to assume “what I see is not necessarily what I get - bear that in mind as a basic survival trait”. I would find myself unable to live like that - and people have often told me how that can only end badly for me in the long run. This is probably at the heart of our disagreement. :slight_smile: It certainly explains why your view is what it is, and why mine is what it is.


I am not talking about when people make statements of fact, or when they clearly lay out an argument or an opinion, or family members or friends or loved ones. I am not a paranoid. I feel based on our conversations that you are a sincere individual, and I know from our conversations that you are a very intelligent person. I was just stating that I do not trust people I do not know, and if you (or anyone for that matter) were to tell me that they are a famous celebrity in their own country, or they proposed something that could potentially go against my best interests on even some basic level, I would not take them at face value at all.


Again, I think this is were we disagree, because I probably would, in my naïveté. :slight_smile: Well, I’d do a bit of digging.

I mean, dude, we have Bob Bates occasionally active at the TADS forum! Friggin’ Bob Bates! And Meretzky and Moriarty and Lebling comment on Jimmy Maher’s blog! And they even made the ZGI prequel in Inform and, as I understand, in communication with the community! Not to mention that Emily Short, and Adam Cadre, and Andrew Plotkin, and Graham Nelson, and Robb Sherwin, and Jon Ingold, and Eric Eve, and Aaron Reed, and all the others ARE celebrities for us - and they’re right here! My voice teacher was a student of one of the greatest singers of all time, if not the greatest (Grace Bumbry), and I’ve heard him speak to her on the phone and met her after a concert. A singing colleague of mine (as well as the object of my undying love and affection, but it wasn’t meant to be) is the daughter of a Portuguese former Prime Minister and of a pop music singer of HUGE success in the 70s and 80s. I had a class with Fiorenza Cossotto!

So dude, I am ready to accept a LOT of stuff. :slight_smile: I’ll research them as best I can, obviously, but I’m past automatic disbelief.


There is a lot more to it than that for me. I also take into consideration context. Given the context of the forums, I find it incredibly difficult to believe that any impostor would have an easy time going around and pretending to be Steve Meretzky, so I will take that person at their word. Basically what it boils down to is if your screen name was that of a famous magician that I was not aware of, I would google it, and if you said you were this amazing magician, I wouldn’t argue the point, I just wouldn’t believe you until there was something to substantiate your claim. For example, somebody in the community who is high profile and known to be honest to a fault commenting on how they went down to Portugal to meet you, and how wonderful a magician you are.


Not intended as an attack, but I’m curious about this. Did you search for my name when you first saw me on the forums? I’m no one famous, and there are other people with my name, so (apart from my IF work) ensuring you had found the right one would take more than a quick Google. Do you go through that for everyone?


hey, Picollo was pretty cool and DBZ a fine anime :slight_smile:

BTW, I only found weirdly fun your choices for first places at the comp, that’s all.

I guess we all do.

Peter uses an anglication of sorts of his portuguese name. I just go with handles because I can participate in flamewars without my real persona coming out dirty, but I’m a no one, just like you.



I don’t search or google or do research on anybody because that would be weird.

Basically I was just trying to make the point that I would not take somebody at face value if they claimed to be a celebrity from outside of the IF community.


And the winner is…

Oh, we don’t know yet. :disappointed:

Jeepers, with entirely electronic voting, one would think the results would be known at once.


Detectiveland is the winner. :slight_smile:


hmm, I feel glad for the top places. I only miss Take in there, but that was most too short and most people may have not got its nuanced theme.

Pogoman Go was pretty good, but the problem of parody, as told elsewhere, is that you risk looking too much like the thing you’re parodying. But it was top nonetheless.

Robin Johnson, congrats. A pretty solid parser-game like those of old, yet with its own charm and substance. Fair puzzles, real challenges for a change. I enjoyed the interface for mobile.

damn, I’m glad it won because I had not the time to thoughroughly play and rate it.

Color The Truth, I should really had given it more thought.

I rated Cactus Blue Motel pretty high too. A serious contender I believed.


Congratulations to the author of Detectiveland on winning the 2016 IF Comp.

Top official results were:

1st place: Detectiveland
2nd place: Color the Truth
3rd place: Cactus Blue Motel
4th place: Stone Harbor
5th place: 16 Ways to Kill a Vampire at McDonald’s

My own scoring had the top two spots reversed-- I scored Color the Truth as first place, and Detectiveland as second place. Moving down the list, however, my scores begin to diverge wildly from the contest results. I wasn’t really impressed by Cactus Blue Motel or Stone Harbor, and though I enjoyed 16 Ways I would have put the latter somewhere around 10th or 11th place. On my scorecard, the remainder of the top five read:

3rd: Game of Worlds Tournament
4th: Fair
5th: Ariadne in Aeaea

Both Fair and Ariadne were quite good games-- well written, entertaining, accomodating of player input (particulary in the case of Fair), and in my opinion should have placed much better in the contest results.

The results page shows the usual troubles: only two entries had more than 100 voters (16 Ways to Kill a Vampire and Cactus Blue Motel). Though most entries had 50-100 votes, there were far too many with less than 50 scores. Slicker City was scored by only 34 people, and Skull Embroidery only received a paltry 30 assessments. This is unfortunate, particularly as I gave both relatively high marks (I scored Skull Embroidery at 7 and Slicker City at 6, putting both in the top third of my own results).

As was certainly intended, Toiletworld came in last-- 58th place. This is not surprising, but the result does reveal something astonishing-- just who are the three knuckleheads who scored this loony entry at 4 (the highest scorings it obtained)?

My thanks to all (well, almost all) the authors for their entries, which gave me many hours of amusement and engagement.


Number of votes do consistently show one thing: parser IF definitely demand far more commitment than clickable fiction. I myself didn’t finish a single parser game - though I enjoyed at least the 3 in the top, I couldn’t quite rate them yet. While OTOH it was far easier just clicking my way through the twine games. If I myself a parser-IF fan can not quite evaluate parser games for a lack of enough time for commitment, just imagine twine folks doing it - or should we say, not doing it?

I don’t think there’s much to do there: parser IF simply takes more time because it is challenging and engaging in a way that clickable fiction won’t ever be. That said, I did really enjoy many of twine games this year. Far more creative substance than simply the usual political statement or getting the harpoon out of the chest…

and now of course, I can play them at leisure… :slight_smile:


oh, Inside the Facility won first at Miss Congeniality Awards :confused:

it looked to me like real beginner trash, thus I didn’t give it much thought. You do nothing but move around and sometimes wait for long turns in the same room, like watching a lecture go on. I wonder about what made it any special…