2016 Interactive Fiction Competition

If that is the case, then the competitant who “forgot” to turn off his cell phone SHOULD be penalised. I don’t see what the issue is. If you go into a competition with rules like that and you don’t turn off your cell phone, you deserve what happens to you.

But anyway. IFComp is a sort of comp, and all comps are different sorts, and IFComp is the sort of comp where the competitors want to be allowed to update their games midway. The rules allow it; nothing more to be said, I guess.

Just means I won’t play any of the games until AFTER the competition is over, by which time there won’t be any spontaneous updates apart from post-comp.

So hey. I just read that link you posted, vlaviano. It doesn’t surprise me, unfortunately.

To anyone from anywhere else who has only skimmed this and hasn’t actually read what we wrote:


The two only people who have thought about it have said clearly that they wouldn’t.

There IS a difference between getting something off your chest and threatening. One of the big reasons this place here exists is that we can talk about things without getting hysterical.

Sheesh. The comp was going so peacefully.

EDIT - Funny thing is, when the comp end and people realise no one did they, some people - ah, fuck it, Lucea - is going to say “Yes, no one actually did it because we called them out and prevented it”. You don’t reason with people like that; you leave their playground.

And there’s no reason it can’t continue thus. I’m having fun, and plan to keep on having fun. We seem to have a fine, interesting discussion going here, and there’s no reason we can’t continue to so do.

Beyond their buffoonery and ignorance, those amongst the kook faction over at that other forum are for the most part simple attention whores. Their apparenent prominence there is is why I put the whole place on my pay no mind list several years ago, and completely stopped even looking at that now bizzaro-world forum much less posting there.

On the internet, the best way to respond to nitwits is to demonstrate their utter irrelevance. That’s what I intend to do, so I suggest we all move on and get back to our party here at intfic. We have better things to do than waste our time with the ravings of fools.

I mentioned above I found some problems with the approach to protagonist characterization in a number of entries. Does anyone else have thoughts on this?

Yes, unfortunately, people can maintain a double standard eg "sometimes I really want to lash out but of course I won’t’ and “well that guy said he only thought about lashing out but WE KNOW HOW THINGS ESCALATE.” This is a general blind spot for all of us.

And I also think that even if someone says they might downrate a game 1 point for (excessive) updating, someone else can say “Well, maybe they’re just saying only 1 point and might do it more, because they know it’s not socially acceptable to auto-1.”

And of course people have plenty of “auto-1” jokes in their own reviews or comments (e.g. a favorite was “I heard you kill a cat in this game. Auto-1. Just kidding.”)

I hope and suspect this will blow over. And I think this small tempest, viewed against the general enthusiasm for IFComp on twitter etc., just stands out right now, and we don’t need to focus on it.

In one case there was tragicomedy, though. Someone left their phone on, and it was their birthday, and someone wished them happy birthday in a middlegame where they were up a pawn and had done most of the dirty work to win the game. While strictly speaking, they should’ve left their phone or turned it off, well…I think there’s a bit of sympathy.

And for what it’s worth, rules against phones are stricter now they have the processing power to help someone analyze a position, say, during a bathroom break.

I don’t think this can be reduced to a case of “Those people over there are stupid and just want attention.” I don’t think they’re stupid, and regardless of whether I agree with their approaches to community controversy, they seem sincere to me.

I do, however, think there are people in various subsets of the IF community who have a tendency to say aggressive or inflammatory things, or to perceive others as being hostile when there is no obvious hostile intent. It’s probably a very good thing that said people don’t all hang out at the same place.


Yes, I also think the majority of people on intfiction.org are nice (especially in the author subforum,) and I don’t think we can underestimate people just giving up or lurking vs entering an argument.

i like a lot of them. I’m just glad there’s here (and other places maybe not IF related) so I can have a break from a few of them who really don’t help me play that next game or plan that next neat idea. It sounds harsh, but there’s no other way to say it.

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But that’s pretty much a common trend in all IF, right? That disjoint between not just player and player character, but also between the narrator and the player character or both pulling tricks on the player.

I think part of the fascinating effect of IF is due to this narrative device, BTW. You want to play more so you can explore the PC motives and and figure out who is the narrator actually, rather than just puzzle your way aimlessly through yet another puzzle game. It is this too that makes puzzleless IF bearable too: not game nor puzzle proper, but it can still be pretty puzzling.

Some times player character is all scattered through myriads of points of view, like the robots in Infocom’s Suspended or like the AI in Open Sorcery. I can’t play that as a human being, the interface is clunky, but it eventually works and succeeds in delivering some powerful message through gameplay. Even Scott Adams’ minimalist silliness has its own potential for fine mostly non-verbal narrative, despite the depressing iliteracy.

That said, while it has its place, I’m kinda tired of so many modern IF being about being monsters, aliens, animals, cartoons, AI. Will ever good ol’ fiction about humans become the norm again? hope it comes wrapped in more substantial text too rather than the usual thin twitter fiction…

Your points are sound. I was more referring to basic traits of character, though, rather than things like “I want to look behind the couch. Why can’t I look behind the couch?” The nebulous aspects of IF characterization you mention cover this as well (and, as you said, are an important part of what often makes IF so interesting).

But to give an example of what I mean, there are several entries this year that deal with the theme of “bullying.” And they’re all the same-- the protagonist masochistically submits to being bullied over and over again. I couldn’t relate to this, with the results that I quite disliked the protagonists (in other words, the intended avatar of myself in the fictional environment) in these works. Rather than empathize with them, I felt estranged from them, and thus disconnected from the entire work. I kept saying “Why is there no option to engage these bullies and give them some lessons in manners? Their behavior is intolerable, and thus I would never tolerate that.” It would have been different had I been told up front “Your timid character is scared of their own shadow,” etc.

I too am pretty exhausted with stories about AI and cyborgs. There are only so many things to say about that metaphor (since it’s not yet reality), and I think most of them have been said already. On top of that, simulating techniques of interacting with technology are, as you said, infinitely less interesting than exploring human relationships.

damn, sounds straight from Cyberqueen. or perhaps some Scott Adams non-sense

anyway, second person works really well to put one in someone else’s shoes, right? And many people who’ve been bullied their whole life found about IF and thought: “hey, I can finally torment my tormentors by making them feel impotent and at my mercy just like they did to me”… which is weird, right? They felt it in their own skin and instead of trying to prevent anyone else of going through it too, they just insist they do. bullying is a neverending cycle of vengeance…

anyway, I play for a while and if it looks like mere circlejerk, I just go play something else.

Strictly speaking, rules are rules. Exceptions to the rules in specific cases are also a thing, however. Strictly speaking, that person should have been disqualified… but we all know that rules don’t cover ALL cases and sometimes some leeway is necessary because, well, we’re human, and we can analyze and appreciate what happened.

That, however, is at the discretion of the judges, and the judges alone. The competitor doesn’t get to say “You can’t / shouldn’t disqualify me!”. Neither can the rules allow exceptions like that, or they risk creating precedents and loopholes. That’s where the human factor comes in. NEITHER can that human factor be an umbrella that covers far more than it should!

Anyway. Just wanted to reply to that specifically, I don’t particularly want to bring it up again. The thread at the other place has moved on to more constructive ground, so we needn’t dwell on this either.

For the record, especially if anyone else is watching, and I mean you Lucea, that older Spring Thing thread that was linked to ended with me coming to the realisation that my idea of Comp was not necessarily the idea of Comp that IFComp should be at this stage. Comps exist as long as someone makes rules and entrants agree to abide by those rules; period. Comparing comps, as I myself did, while tempting and logical up to a point, falls flat when you realise there IS no standard of what a Comp is. This inevitably leads to the acceptance that allowing updates IS the right thing if that’s what the rules say and that’s what the entrants and judges agree to. And those that don’t, like me, either abide by the rules regardless or don’t participate.

There. That is my view in full. I’m sick and tired of being demonised (though I understand why, at some specific points, that happened - when it’s my fault, it’s my fault), so I thought I’d spell it out for those hard of reading.

Don’t let this stuff get you down, man. You do a lot of positive work for the community, and have been doing so for years. Those who irrationally scorn you can say neither of themselves. Most people see all these issues clearly, and are not fooled. Forget about the rest.

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(On a tangent, the name “Lucea” is irrevocably linked with Donizetti in my mind, which gives this conversation a whole different meaning.)

((On a tangent from that tangent, I love that recording but there isn’t a good-quality video anywhere!))

My knowledge level of opera is very low, but that looks pretty interesting. Is it sort of like

(I can’t ask for more than a movie where the protagonist pokes out their own eyes in madness at the end). :slight_smile:

I finished up the html-based games today. This means I only have 17 entries remaining to be examined, all of them parser based or custom UI. I plan to slow down dramatically now, and only look at one entry per day (maybe 2 if I have a lot of time).

I don’t personally like to discuss particular titles while the competition is ongoing, but there was one html-based entry that I found very impressive. I think anyone who’s played through everything will at once know to which entry I’m referring. It had a rather radical interface departure from anything I’ve seen before, and despite a few minor bugs the writing (narrative, characterization) were top-notch as well. Above all, the entry was very entertaining. I’m giving it an 8 for now, which is probably the highest I’ve ever scored any non-parser game in many years of voting, though depending on what I see in the parser category I may move it up or down by one point (ratings being relative amongst entries).

Oh, is “Lucea” supposed to be pronounced like “Lucia”? I never caught on to that.

I’m partial to Sutherland, Sumi Jo and Ruth Ann Swenson myself.

You MUST have watched Roger Corman’s “The Man With X-Ray Eyes”, then! :smiley:

(on the other place, people are now actively defending the update rule as though it still needed defending and the whole conversation hadn’t been done to death. Cute. Ms Morayati did no one any good with her trolling)

I’m not actually sure…most likely I misread it the first time and now that mental pronunciation has stuck. >> I’ve never asked.

It’s unfortunate in today’s deliberately bland media markets that I don’t think an actor like Ray Milland could get any film work these days (perhaps tv, but not film). I won’t say I’ve seen every single bit of his work, but in everything I have seen, the guy was uncanny or unsettling in a way that had nothing to do with acting. He seemed sort of like the evil twin of Jimmy Stewart, if that makes any sense.

Even more unfortunately in today’s bland media markets, no one makes films anymore like Roger Corman (even Roger Corman doesn’t make films anymore like Roger Corman).

I remember watching Dial M for Murder, knowing nothing of Ray Milland, and being thoroughly impressed by his character. And this was years after X had made an impression on me.

Most of the Roger Corman I know I saw in MST3K. :slight_smile: Apart from the Little Shop of Horrors and X. What I do appreciate about him even in those easily-parodied flicks is that there’s a certain honesty, sincerity and good will which I really admire. He seems to always want to end his films with a moral - which is nothing new, but with him you can tell he really means it. In his way it’s like he wants to leave this world a better place than he found it. And he’s serious about his films, even when they are just plain silly. That comes across.

Corman was a master of campy cinema, which is now a lost art. Sure we have low budget movies today, but they always look and feel like low budget movies. Corman made the most unabashedly ridiculous films look like Cecil B DeMille epics. Many of Corman’s films were frivolous, but he wasn’t chagrined at all about admitting this, and furthermore he had a way of ensuring the films neither looked nor felt frivolous.

Milland had such a strange career. On the one hand he won an Academy Award (The Lost Weekend), on the other he was in one of the silliest movies ever:

One of his final roles was depicting the sleazy “Sire Yuri” on the original Battlestar Galactica series.

If you build it, they will come.

I was screwing around, and noticed that if you search Google for

interactive fiction competition 2016

the search returns this page as a result several places ahead of competing forums. If you put the 2016 first instead of last, we’re on the first page of results.

Hooray for intfic.com! :sunglasses:

I don’t mean to pick on anybody so I won’t mention a title, but 42 games into the competition, after reading thousands of words of text, I’ve just seen the most atrocious sentence of any entry thus far:

You give the lollipop to Paddy, that takes it and slowly starts to lick it.

Dude, come on. This is really bad. Sure the IF Comp is a game competition, but it’s also a writing competition. The above isn’t even charming, like that historically horrible line from Cardew House in the 2013 IF Comp.

You open the door with a loud creaking noise.

On top of everything else, the first mangled text hits one of my pet peeves:

That is for inanimate objects
Who is for living things

e.g. “You give the lollipop to Paddy, who takes it…”

Even professional writers routinely make this fundamental mistake over and over again, and I get perturbed every single time I hear such or read such.

Anyone else get triggered by something obscure like this in the entries this year?

I’ve found something that inspires me to temporarily suspend my self-imposed “don’t mention specific titles” clause.

Though this issue of “updating during the competition” became (remained?) unexpectedly controversial this year, I think the whole matter is fairly trivial and didn’t plan to directly address it again. Furthermore, according to a bit of random reading I did earlier it seems as though the author of an otherwise ludicrous entry called “Toiletworld” may be planning some mischief which will demand decisive action on the matter from organizers.

However, I just finished examining an entry called “You Are Standing In a Cave” which exemplifies the potential pitfalls of the current “entries may be updated after the competition begins” rule. “You Are Standing In a Cave” is frankly a mess. The framework for a short and at least somewhat interesting “escape the rooms” genre game is present. Yet after a quick tour of the game’s eponymous cave, bugs galore are exposed and due to these bugs the game is frankly unresolvable as far as I could determine.

So we have here an entry that was submitted in a nontrivially unplayable condition. I can see that with a few days work, however, the entry could as I noted probably be at least somewhat interesting and fun. If the author were now to repair (frankly, “finish” would be a better term) the entry and judges were to assign a score based on the revised entry rather than the original submission, this would be a gross insult in my opinion to the many other authors who submitted fully working, finished entries on time at the competition’s starting date.

The annual Interactive Fiction competition is a prestigious contest. In addition to bragging rights, tangible prizes are at stake for contestants. Plainly, “You Are Standing in a Cave” was not finished by the entry deadline, and should not have been submitted in the first place. What if this entry were to now be revised, and, for the sake of argument, win a prize?

Is this a contest, or not? Should contestants be encouraged to take the whole matter seriously, or not? If the latter, will the IF Comp remain a relatively prestigious and popular affair for much longer?