Saturday, November 16, 2013

IF Comp 2013 - General Wrap-up

Note: There will be spoilers on my game Coloratura, and on other games within the IF 2013 competition.

My game Coloratura won! It was a fantastic journey, and I'm happy to have gotten the chance to have played and participated. I'm delighted that others enjoyed the strange brand of madness from inside my mind. The responses were overwhelmingly positive, with reviewers enjoying the alien descriptions, the well-integrated puzzles, the creepy narrative, the unique "Coloring" mechanic, the epilogue, the intuitively simple hint system, and the meticulous attention to accurate setting. All these elements worked together in unison to create a cohesive and well-constructed final product. I'd like to take the time to thank my diligent beta testers for working testing, suggesting, floundering and helping me fully polish my work.

I very much enjoyed the other games of the competition, and while I had written full reviews for many of the games (author's forums), I don't think that posting them here will necessarily add much to the understanding of those games. However, embracing the fact that you can always learn something by studying others, I thought I'd mention quickly some of the great implementation strategies found in each game. I think there's some really interesting ideas and techniques to tuck under your hat for future use:
  1. Robin & Orchid: Familiar setting with a mystical(?) twist that invites you right away to suspend disbelief. Integrated hint and background system (notebook). Polite treatment of religious belief/disbelief.
  2. Ollie Ollie Oxen Free: Limited protagonist ability to affect the environment. Detailed and emotionally wrenching characterization.
  3. Captain Verdeteere's Plunder: Replayability that rewards any level of player engagement, hints at a mystical world setting that while inconsequential, adds beautifully.
  4. Tex Bonaventure and the Temple of the Water of Life: A canon-appropriate explanation for the UNDO feature, updated appeals to nostalgia without the rough corners. Integrated hints.
  5. Solarium: A way to make a linear game feel branched and interactive.
  6. Threediopolis: (omg, I am so sorry but I got anxiety upon seeing the wall-of-text questgiver and quit at the beginning)
  7. Machine of Death: Well-branched and interesting stories (Twine done well). Encouraged comfort with uncertainty of outcomes.
  8. Their angelical understanding: Dream-like logic, fragmented/alternative realities that add rather than subtract.
  9. Bell Park, Youth Detective: Amusing characterization, cute choices, good humor.
  10. Trapped in Time: The beauty of a CYOA book without the hassle of sticking your fingers on pages to remember places.
  11. Mrs. Wobbles & The Tangerine House: Beautiful illustrations. Narrations for those who can't read (I bet that may have been nice for the visually-impaired).
  12. Final Girl: (I actually had trouble with this one since I was murdered twice within the first few choices...?)
  13. Autumn's Daughter: Different wordstates that adapt based on player choices (Note: while I liked this mechanic, I felt it was somewhat disrespectful and victim-blamey for the subject matter).
  14. Moquette: Beautiful use of visual effects, amazing world building.
  15. The House at the End of Rosewood Street: Destruction of expectations to build intrigue (the inclusion of the extra paper to deliver).
  16. The Paper Bag Princess: The use of a well-known and loved subject material.
  17. Impostor Syndrome: Evocative, spot-on description of a difficult, important and ongoing issue that most audiences should be familiar with. (Actually, I will probably write more about this one).
  18. Who Among Us: Interesting narrative that promotes investment.
  19. Dream Pieces: Cute word re-arrangement technique (that wasn't too demanding!) that gradually ramped up difficulty. The fulfillment of consequence-free destruction of a familiar environment.
  20. Further: Interesting use of a color mechanic that actually colored the text.
  21. Blood on the Heather: Splits that felt like they tweaked the story - the illusion of interactivity.
  22. The Wizard's Apprentice: (I actually feel that this didn't bring anything new to the table, because it explicitly was trying not to.)
  23. Saving John: Interesting encouragement of multiple replays to fully piece together the narrative. Investment-promoting.
  24. Sam and Leo Go To The Bodega: Good use of just-for-flavor decisions. (although it lacked any actually-has-an-impact decisions).
  25. Dad vs. Unicorn: Meaningful discussion and exploration of the cult of masculinity. Hilarious foreshadowed non sequitur (if that makes sense).
  26. Our Boys in Uniform: Raw, visceral emotions that can be difficult to look at for too long.
  27. A Wind Blown from Paradise: Duality of worldstates.
  28. Mazredugin: (I actually got blocked on this after 2 or 3 screens... sorry)
  29. 9Lives: The more interesting story of how the authors all might have worked together on this project.
  30. Vulse: (This was gritty-gross realism, which isn't new, but I still think it was gritty-gross realism done well).
  31. The Cardew House: The mechanic of closing the game when encountering a losing screen was surprising and well-done.
  32. 100,000 years: Simplistic and artistic interpretation of storytelling, narrative and interaction. I think it did interesting things. Felt very much like a Duchamp "Fountain" and spurred lively discussion.
  33. The Challenge: Graphics, I guess. (nothing else was original).
  34. Reels: I enjoyed feeling clever when I looked up the answers within the HTML's source code. I think this might have made a delightful meta-game, actually.
I'd like to actually take some time to talk about Coloratura a little more in-depth in my next post.


  1. Hello! Just wanted to let you know that ClubFloyd will be playing Coloratura tomorrow at noon Eastern on the ifMUD. If you'd like to join us, you're very welcome to do so. If you aren't able (or don't want) to come, a transcript will eventually be available.

  2. Oh, and if you're unfamiliar with the ClubFloyd concept, there's more information on it at

  3. That sounds like a lot of fun - I'll try to make it!