Well, it's finally over: Check out the results of the 12th annual IF competition. As you can see, there were plenty of entries and plenty of judges. The winner (no big surprise) was Emily Short, a very notable IF author whose game "Floatpoint" scored 113 points. Runners up include "The Primrose Path" by Nolan Bonvouloir and "The Elysium Enigma" by Eric Eve. Even my own humble entry "The Initial State" didn't fare as poorly as I feared, but came in at #28 with 63 points. Download them all and revisit the days when Infocom was king.
I would actually encourage anyone who has the slightest interest in game programming and text adventures to consider entering this context next year. I had more fun programming my text adventure last summer than I can remember having in a long time. I chose to program my game using C++ and Microsoft Visual Studio, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend that route to everyone. The reason I chose to use C++ and build my own engine was because I had an interest in learning C++ just for its own sake. Other folks would do better to read up Inform, a program that lets IF authors focus more on "content" and less on programming. My impression of the program is that it's not much more difficult than using a standard word processor! Grab it here.
I'm sure that if you give it a try, you'll soon see how making a game can be just as much fun (if not more) than playing one. Furthermore, the IF COMP will give you a great goal to work towards.
Just in case anyone from the IF COMP reads this, can I make a suggestion? Make the author's names anonymous to dissuade people from merely downloading and voting for the ones they already know write great games! ;-)
That's a great point about making the author's names anonymous, Matt. However, that would also have to carry over to the games themselves, which could be a problem with having "unauthored" copies spreading around the Internet. What would be really neat was requiring the entries to be played through a type of virtual console and then making the downloadable and credited versions available AFTER the voting ends. Too much hassle, though for a non-profit contest, I guess, so the system probably has to stay the same way it is, "flaws" and all. At the same time, one has to hope that the hardcore IF community that participates in these contests is sophisticated enough to give each entry sufficient play time and consideration. Perhaps one way around having the same regular winners is to limit the contest to those who have won it fewer than five times (or three). That way you could have a "Hall of Fame" segment for the five timers, giving outsiders a chance. The "Hall of Fame" IF authors could still participate, but they would be their own category and not up for consideration of ultimate winner. It would almost be like a "pro" and "amateur" division.
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
(A PC Magazine Top 100 Website)
> However, that would also have to carry over to the games themselves,
> which could be a problem with having "unauthored" copies spreading
> around the Internet.
I really don't think that this would be a major problem.
There are contests for other game mods which are anonymous and function well - for example I have never seen a single fan mission for the Thief games pirated in all these years.
An author could easily fight it by releasing a proper version (often with less bugs ;-). And the respective game community would "heal itself" pretty automatically, IMHO.
Also, in my optinion the game/mission title is a major asset and can enhance the atmosphere for the player if chosen wisely - apart from the "beauty" it can bring to the game/mission.
Actually, there's a fairly complicated mechanism in place to ensure that people get a random mix of games to try, and it's not a straight "BEST GAME" but a staggered point system. Unfortunately, there's no way to force every "judge" to play every game, but the system is designed to keep people from just downloading the games from authors they recognize.
I think what Bill is saying is that if the games were anonymous, then it'd be pretty easy for some unscrupulous type to put the game on his website and claim that he wrote it. That wouldn't be fair to the original author, who might have a time convincing everyone of the truth. If the name was in the game itself, it'd be harder to do that (though, granted, not impossible). I once had this problem with a "mod" contest I entered, though by "mod" I mean a music pro-tracker style module and not a game mod. Anyway, I had used some sound samples from another song and failed to change the names of these instruments, which were things like, "this tune composed by erick" (or the like). The mod musicians had learned to identify their works by changing instrument names to contain a message. Anyway, even though I just used the samples, and NOT the actual tune--a very common and accepted practice in the mod world--the guy hosting the contest was convinced I had stolen it and wouldn't let me enter the contest. The whole thing left a really sour taste in my mouth and destroyed our friendship.