2016 Interactive Fiction Competition


Whoa! Take was written by Lucea, whoever that Peter’s nemesis actually is:


It didn’t place well, but it was by far one of the best in my book, limited parser subject to a strong message by the power of allegory. It is still very much a game and you do your best at the timing and choice of takes to win, though you only win at the other side.


In the end I scored 56 of the 58 entries, but Inside the Facility was one of the two I didn’t vote on. I played for about fifteen minutes, which was about the time I saw I was going to have to get out some pencils/paper and start drawing a map, which I just couldn’t scrounge up the motivation to do. Not that Inside seemed bad in any way, but the idea of spending more time drawing than typing put me off.

I’m surprised to see Evermore so far down in the results (34th place), as I feel it was far more clever and competent than many of the titles that scored higher. Also, it’s just sort of embarassing to see “My Little Pony” (Quest for the Traitor Saint, 33rd place) beat almost anything.

Another result I don’t understand is Shoe Department (18th place). This was fun entry, which genuinely offered significant opportunities for player participation in constructing many details of the narrative. For example, I thought it was by far superior to Hill Ridge Lost & Found (9th place), which was yet another maze navigation game whose main gameplay offer was frustration/confusion.


Correction: two more knuckleheads scored it at 9!


I’m impressed with the 2nd-lowest score of the comp at 3.5. That’s a BIG step up. People have simple guidelines not to submit broken stuff, and it’s working. I also think there are more resources, and, well, Twine has the power to let you start off right away. Sometimes I hate starting a new game wondering what to do about JUMP/KISS/etc.

Oh hey, thanks! I had problems with procrastination there.

I think the game did force people to think abstractly, and I was prepared to accept the risk of placing low. I meant it to be individualistic and experimental and not really focused at a traditional group. My games are, well about me and the odd stuff I’ve found, and I also want to do a lot of parser-specific stuff. I’m also disappointed people just didn’t have fun with the words and humor.

That, plus a few bugs i should not have let through (my testers caught a LOT in the time I gave them), left the game a bit rocky. But…I’m pleased with it, even though people didn’t judge it. I can say that the number of votes for my games have gone down each year. Twine etc.'s ease is handy.


:laughing::sob: I missed that earlier. Darn anarchists-- maybe we can have a controversy next year about all the “unfair 9s and 10s” being given out, and how this must stop and violaters banned from participation in the comp.

I definitely think that (as I wrote several weeks ago) while the peak quality of entries this year didn’t attain the level of previous years, the average entry quality was indeed much higher than has been the case for many years. I only gave out six scores of 1 this year, compared to over a dozen in 2013, 2014, and 2015. I had to go all the way back to 2012 to find a year with as few “ones” assessed on my card-- I gave out four that year, but on the other hand there were only half as many entries then compared to this year.

I enjoyed Slicker City, but one problem was that I didn’t remember much at all about the Problems Compound from last year (though looking at my records, I gave the earlier game a 5 at the time, which is a perfectly respectable score in my accounting method). As the newer game dives right in to the continuing narrative at once, I had a little bit of confusion as I tried to recall details. Slicker City got a bonus point for the incorporation of several user-friendly features (such as an “exits” command), so you should be congratulated on this as it shows thoughtful, player-focused design (in other words, good design principles). My notes for Slicker City also included the short summary “clever and competent.” Good job overall.


I don’t understand why the standard responses from the standard lib got such a bad rap lately. What’s so wrong with “You jump on the spot, fruitlessly.” that new authors feel the need to either overload each and everyone of them or to simply cut them out and instead put a bland fourth-wall-breaking message such “Sorry, this game is handicapped and only use 2 verbs”?


Hnm, that’s a bad example, jump. But I and other authors have gotten stung by “yes” and “no.” If the game asks a rhetorical question then you say yes or no, bam, “That was a rhetorical question.” It’s about what you might have forgotten.


Gossiping with Jmac, I heard there were 5 (FIVE) more voters than last year. There were lots more votes.


The most encouraging sign for the future of the competition is the dramatically increasing number of entries in recent years. Furthermore, there has been a dramatic broadening of scope amongst the entries, reflecting different formats, different styles of presentation, and different points of view than have been seen in the past. We can only hope that these trends will lead to growing audience, which means more people participating in the competition as judges.


I never imagined that a web game where you could play as a gay would win.



I knew there’d be more to it than meets the eye. I was full throttle on my first case but my time is always lacking and I sadly couldn’t rate it, or just gave it a temporary 7 or something. Didn’t feel like having any hidden agenda or anything, just plain, honest, uncompromising retro IF fun.

OTOH, I rated Cactus Blue Motel higher, probably the higher of the lot besides Take. They do a far better job at being interactive fiction and having proper prose and some good storytelling in a way that is hard for the terse Scott Adams way or for a parody of Pokemon Go.

They are all about sexism or gayzism in a way too, hard to keep these themes out in a time where they’re in the firefront of everything, 24h a day.

But they were funny or disturbing and amusing. And although pretty puzzless, pretty puzzling and thought provoking, so no hard feelings


Now I’m confused, glitter and namekuseijin. Are you two talking about Detectiveland? When I played my character married that nice nurse lady at the end… are you saying


namekuseijin, in the end how many entries to you get a chance to vote on? No need to go into details if you don’t want to, I was just wondering about the overall total. There were so many entries this year that even as a veteran voter the endeavor was slightly intimidating, so since this was your first time voting I’m interested to hear about your impressions of participating.


“play as a gay”? Who are you, Archie Bunker?


Way back somewhere in this discussion, I briefly mentioned the entry Steam and Sacrilege. Did anybody else play this one? I think it’s fertile ground for demonstrating many pitfalls of IF.

I so wanted to like the game, both because I enjoy the genre/setting (Steampunk) and because the narrative had a solid foundation. The author obviously put a serious lot of effort in designing and writing the game. But there was a “death by a thousand cuts” of poor programming and implementation evident almost from the first few turns.

I’m interested to hear the opinions on others of Steam and Sacrilege-- if you’ve played it (the entry only got 50 scorings).


I assumed glitter is. As far as I played, I saw nothing of that. Cactus Blue does touch on the theme, but thankfully doesn’t make it the main focus.

From memory, I think I rated: Cactus Blue, Pogoman Go (sadly just 6 because I quite tired of the game it is parodying long before getting to grips with the better later half), Take, Screwed Bear Dead, Ventilator, Detectiveland (7 or so, because while very good game, also very terse IF), The Queen’s Menagerie, To the Wolves, Black Rock City and a few others not so memorable or which I immediately thought to be a stinker and quickly rated it down.

I was really willing to give Color the Truth and that Poe IF another spin, but free time slipped past me. Oh, I’ll certainly play them now :slight_smile:


Sounds like you got through about 20 percent of the entries, which is a good effort. Though it’s hard to recall the first time or two I participated by voting, I think I did about the same (there were far fewer entries years ago, but on the other hand they were almost all parser entries and as you noted earlier exploring these takes more time).

Playing Color of Truth is certainly worthwhile. The keyword interaction approach used has a slightly contrived feeling, but the narrative and characterizations are interesting, and the entry is well-crafted. Before I finalized my scoring, based on criteria alone (rather than relative merit) I scored it as an 8. I also had Detectiveland at 7, as you did. In the end, both of them got promoted (Color of Truth to 10, Detectiveland to 9) so I could make full use of the entire range of scoring.

I’m actually surprised how well Pogoman placed in the results, as I thought it would do slightly less well. For the most part, those who vote every year are among the factions who intensely dislike both random results and level grinding in IF, and as Pogoman has both aspects I thought it would be downvoted more strenously. Perhaps there are more new voters with new ideas participating than I thought.


Yes Detectiveland. Like namekuseijin, I haven’t finished it. It’s on my wishlist.

> read book

I flip through the book, and an entry catches my eye:

“YOUR OFFICE. It’s important to maintain a professional image, so make sure your office has tobacco-stained walls, a door with a glass panel with your name on so it reads backwards from the inside, and ideally a faint smell of bad liquor. Rent’s high, so save spondoolies by living there too. You can get a Murphy bed that folds up into a bookcase – way classier than a mattress under your desk, and the dames love it. Or the guys. Whatever gums your shoe.”

Wow! I just read Robin wrote and played the music!


Don’t underestimate the novelty of a mobile game simulated in text. I liked Pogoman a lot (rating: 8). I didn’t get into the associated app craze so it didn’t seem old to me. Sure it is an annoying repetitive game especially when you’re grinding at the start but I found it a pitch perfect satire of mobile apps which are very grindy and flashing lights and silly achievements. You have achieved reading a forum post! I had a grin on my face and laughed at all the stupid “achievements”. I wouldn’t like a lot of games like this in the comp but one is special.


Doh, I read that and imagined it addressing the player, not the player character. Though in the end, decisions by the player may lead to that. Endosphere seems to have got married to the lady…


You’re probably right I heard the author laughed out loud when he read my comment about playing the protagonist as a gay. Anyways I’ll report if I can marry a guy…