Sunday, November 11, 2012

IF Comp 2012 Wrap-up

This was my first year being involved in the IF Comp as a non-author, and I was excited to have gotten in the time to play and review all of the games. There were some great stories and mechanics out there, and as always I feel fired up to continue writing my own games after enjoying the entries of everyone else. Below I'll list the game in order of their scores. There are three main factors that I considered when evaluating a game:
  1. How well it accomplishes what it sets out to do (assuming it has a goal better than, "be a joke") 
  2. How well the story in conveyed via writing (and programming) prowess.
  3. If it is enjoyable or not (treated a bit as a binary).

Each game is given the opportunity to score 12 points, allowing for some wiggle room to reach a perfect 10/10. To avoid any contamination with the scores, I forewent all other reviews, forum posts and feelies before or while playing a game, and treated the games just based on their merits. In most cases, I did not even read their blurbs or look at the authors, but just launched right in using a randomized order. I've arranged the games below according to their scores, with links back to their reviews. Final wrap-up below.

A Manor of Speaking
Fish Bowl
howling dogs

Andromeda Apocalypse

The Test is Now READY
Guilded Youth
Murphy's Law

Escape from Summerland
Body Bargain

Sunday Afternoon
A Killer Headache

Lunar Base 1
Irvine Quik and the Search for the Fish of Traglea
Living Will



The Lift
Shuffling Around
Sealed Room
The Island

Last Minute
Castle Adventure

There are some games I would like to talk about, now having the benefit of being able to read other reviews, look at feelies, etc. First of all, a few people helpfully informed me how Shuffling Around was not as short as I initially felt. You can read about it on that page, but I feel that review still stands.

Second, it appears that Kicker is not about everyone hating on a crappy player position, but about the discrimination faced by gay sports players. If I had realized this while playing it, I would have given it the winning spot, despite being so unconventionally puzzle-free. I think that Kicker would have benefitted from making this attraction known without explicit prodding from the player (I spent my whole time practicing!). It would have been nice to have the Quarterback cause me some sort of embarrassing or blushing feelings. I think that the LGBT community is under-represented in games, and I feel that IF has that ability to really tell those kinds of tales effectively, but is not living up to that potential. I predict Kicker will win the Golden Banana of Discord.

The two games that I chose to play with my husband for sheer replay value were A Manor of Speaking and Escape from Summerland simply because I thought that he'd find them the most enjoyable, and we'd have fun with overlapping enjoyment of the games. I do predict A Manor of Speaking to win the Comp. simply because of how charming it was: despite initially reminding me of the hated Companions of Xanth, Manor completely won me over and had me laugh out loud.

If I could award a "Most Future Potential" award, it would go to Lunar Base 1. I feel like it was a great start, and I look forward to what Phipps has planned for the future, and I especially enjoy the feeling of a well-done creepy game.

Also, now that I know the backstory behind Valkyrie - it being an assignment for ESL game-design students - I am rather impressed. I have seen nasty and cruel reviews in the past, and I hope those don't get you three down. Keep writing and keep going!

As for feelies, Andromeda Apocalypse had some very nice feelies to it, and while I appreciated having the disc, the train ticket felt confusingly out-of-place (although perhaps it was a continuity object?) Guilded Youth I feel had the most interesting use of Feelies that really added to the flavor of the game Finally, while I like some pretty out-there music, the soundtrack to A Killer Headache didn't really help me set the mood like I had hoped.

I felt like all of the games had a good split to them this year: a good deal of enjoyable games, some needing improvement, and a minimum of joke entries. And there was a good division of themes: I was happy to see nothing seriously overlapping with each other (wearing the same dress to the IF Comp party is one of my biggest author fears). I'd like to thank everyone who participated as an author - I know you end up writing programming, and testing until your eyes bleed and you pull your hair out, thank everyone who participated as a judged - it's a long and grueling haul to dedicate 2 hours + review writing to each game, and to everyone who donated - you keep things interesting! Each year it's always rewarding and fun to come together as this community once a year, and I look forward to this again in 12 months!

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