First Interactive Fiction Contest Final Judgements April 9, 2009 10:39 PM   Subscribe

The first annual Interactive Fiction Contest is over and it's time to wrap up judging. We have a few votes in, but I encourage everyone to sign up and play the games that were submitted, and vote on your favorites.

As of April 9th, the current Rankings puts Rockrider in the lead, but it is not too late for any of the other contenders. Register to become an official player, then play and vote on the games. The winner will be based on the ranking page and will be announced "officially" on Monday morning right here in this thread.

If you want to try your hand at writing your own interactive game, unofficial, non-judged submissions are still being accepted.
posted by Deathalicious to MetaFilter-Related at 10:39 PM (38 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I hope you leave the games up for awhile after the contest. I won't have a chance to play until after April 15th.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:13 AM on April 10, 2009

Question about Rockrider: is there more than one conclusion?
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:56 AM on April 10, 2009

What the hell do I do with this plate of beans? I've tried eating it, opening it, fucking it, closing it, killing it, feeding it to every animal, plant, vegetable and mineral, I've tried flipping, pulling, switching, pushing, plughing, zipping, xyzzying, chomping, winning, losing, zorking, mumbling to it, sighing over it, yelling at it, screaming, repenting, biting, counting, listening to, smelling, philosophizing and circumcising it, but nothing fucking happens!
posted by stavrogin at 7:22 AM on April 10, 2009

Question about Jeffrey: why can't I just hit him with the damn axe? "Cutting him up would achieve little." Except maybe PREVENTING HIM FROM KILLING ME.
posted by Shepherd at 8:00 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Shepherd, let me get right on that.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:25 AM on April 10, 2009

Wait, what command are you using?
posted by Deathalicious at 8:28 AM on April 10, 2009

Thanks stavrogin, I had no idea that we got a brief (damn you, Cortex!) mention on the blue.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:30 AM on April 10, 2009

I've tried playing some of them but the fact that I'm not very good at playing IF games makes it slow going. It would help if there were walkthroughs available for every game like the main IF competition requires, because otherwise I end up not rating games very highly just because I got stuck early.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:48 AM on April 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

It would help if there were walkthroughs available for every game

Good call. I will send a notice out to all submitters, and add a field for a walkthrough.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:02 AM on April 10, 2009

I'm just not clever or in-tune enough to figure out most works of IF, especially if they aren't particularly game-like. Walkthroughs would definitely help me better evaluate entries. Although if opacity is a criterion, then I suppose not having walkthroughs is just fine.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:02 AM on April 10, 2009

I tried to play one earlier, but as it turns out, growing up in a largely post-IF gaming scene has caused me not to develop the skills required for the games.

That or I'm dumb.
posted by graventy at 9:12 AM on April 10, 2009

(damn you, Cortex!)

I am the pooper of all parties. But we did sidebar the thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:44 AM on April 10, 2009

I SUCK at this.
posted by Night_owl at 10:28 AM on April 10, 2009

Yeah, I'm with burnmp3s. I've played maybe one IF game in my whole life, so while some of them looked really interesting, I have no idea at all what verbs I can use.

(no, I'm not admitting to downloading a decompiler just to see what commands are in the program. why do you ask?)
posted by niles at 10:48 AM on April 10, 2009

Also, to anyone else struggling with the competition games who hasn't played much IF: part of the problem is that these games haven't been play-tested very much. Even when very experienced IF authors first send out their games for people to play, there are usually some unintentionally difficult parts that expect the user to notice something or do something that is not as obvious as it should be. Most IF games that you can play from old commercially released ones like Zork to modern games written by people like Emily Short will have been tweaked based on feedback from beta testers to iron out any confusing aspects that weren't meant to be part of the challenge of the game. So if you're terrible at these games don't give up on IF altogether, you will probably be slightly less terrible at most of the more popular games out there.

If you haven't played much IF in general check out this guide, or play Dreamhold which is an award-winning game specifically designed for beginners. My main tip: examine everything. If you walk into a room and it says there is a table, mirror, and bathtub there, type in "x table" then "x mirror" then "x bathtub." A lot of times those descriptions will point out more objects or give you clues as to what you are supposed to do. If you can think of some way of interacting with the game world, try it, even if you don't think it will help you solve the problem you are trying to solve, because often trying things will give you more clues. Also, don't be afraid to use Save and Undo. Especially in games where death happens a lot (*cough* diocletian *cough*) save and undo can save you from typing in the same commands over and over again for parts of the game that you already finished.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:12 AM on April 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

Perhaps we need a difficulty rating? Infocom games from 1984-1987 were rated in this way:

i - Introductory (Junior)
s - Standard
a - Advanced
e - Expert

I would categorize my game (The Questionable Substitute) as advanced, designed to give the seasoned adventure gamer a serious challenge. It's intentionally difficult and would be a terrible introductory game for someone who hasn't played a lot of text adventures.
posted by Izner Myletze at 11:41 AM on April 10, 2009

Walkthrough is implemented. Everyone who has a submission, go in a walkthrough it!
posted by Deathalicious at 11:49 AM on April 10, 2009

erm, "go on and walkthrough it".
posted by Deathalicious at 11:49 AM on April 10, 2009

Perhaps we need a difficulty rating? Infocom games from 1984-1987 were rated in this way...

"New school" interactive fiction commonly uses the Zarfian Cruelty Rating, for what that's worth.
posted by Galvatron at 12:39 PM on April 10, 2009

Wait, what command are you using?

Entering cage, locking it, waiting, letting Jeffrey come in, opening the cage, then "Chop Jeffrey" with the axe:
You lie down for a moment and catch a few winks. As you wake up, you see that Jeffrey is also sleeping. As soon as you sit up, his eyes pop open and he sits up. Clearly he was only pretending to sleep.

Time passes.
Jeffrey twiddles his fingers.

>open cage
(the iron cage)
(first unlocking the iron cage)
(with the rusty key)
As you open the iron cage, Jeffrey looks around the room in confusion. He put his arm in the air and makes a strange swinging motion. Then his arm drops.

Time passes.
Jeffrey twiddles his fingers.

Since the cage is open, nothing stops Jeffrey from coming in. He enters the cage and smiles evily at you.

>chop Jeffrey
Cutting him up would achieve little.

Jeffrey's giant hands reach out towards your puny little throat. First pain, then sweet, sweet darkness descends..

*** You have died ***

In that game you scored 0 out of a possible 0, in 13 turns.

posted by Shepherd at 1:19 PM on April 10, 2009

chop...The one verb I hadn't accounted for.
posted by Deathalicious at 1:25 PM on April 10, 2009

Okay, you can now chop away to your heart's content. Fruitlessly, as usual.
posted by Deathalicious at 1:27 PM on April 10, 2009

Walkthrough for Down with the Underpig is up.
posted by run"monty at 1:50 PM on April 10, 2009

Thumbs up for adding the walkthrough. I'm a (completely fascinated) newbie who hasn't touched IF since playing Leather Goddesses as a kid, and I'm looking forward to seeing where someone with a clue could get with the games.
posted by carbide at 2:02 PM on April 10, 2009

Walkthrough for Rockrider is up.

I'm finally taking some time this weekend to play through all the games and get my votes in. Thanks for running this Deathalicious! I'm already looking forward to next year's.
posted by lucidium at 9:41 AM on April 11, 2009

Ah, and that's why I completely failed Down with the Underpig. I wasn't using the examine command, I was using look. Doh.
posted by barnacles at 1:35 PM on April 12, 2009

'look at x' and 'examine x' should be interchangeable. Or were you trying 'look x'?
posted by run"monty at 5:18 PM on April 12, 2009

run"monty, I was doing simply "look x", which appears to be working now. I may have imagined it under the pressure of the Underpig!
posted by barnacles at 5:34 PM on April 12, 2009

I hadn't implemented it before you had mentioned it. Thanks for the ad-hoc beta testing.
posted by run"monty at 4:05 AM on April 13, 2009

Official results:

In third place, and winner of the prestigious "Aren't you ineligible to compete?" award is my submission Jeffrey the Homicidal Maniac.

In second place, and recipient of the coveted "Guess that Verb!" prize, is uncleozzy's rollicking adventure, Eric's Bender.

Winner of the competition and a brand spanking old copy of The Forces of Krill, with a final score of 3.7/5 beans with 10 votes counted is Lucidium with Rockrider.

Congratulations to everyone who got a submission in on time, and sympathies to those who tried but were lost of the Pit of Despair/Inform Syntax.

All contestants send me your snailmail address and I will be sending you your prizes and/or certificates of participation!
posted by Deathalicious at 6:30 AM on April 13, 2009

I'd just like to add on a personal note it was awesome to be involved in a neat project like this one. Thanks to everyone for making this really fun.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:31 AM on April 13, 2009

Congrats to the winners, I had fun playing all of the games. Definitely a successful first year for the contest.
posted by burnmp3s at 6:47 AM on April 13, 2009

Seconding burnmp3s. I hadn't really played an interactive text game since I got rid of my Apple ][c in the mid 90s and I had a good time playing through these games. Good job to everyone, and I look forward to next year's batch of entries!

Regarding learning Inform, it would be great if any or all of the authors would release the Inform source code for their game to give folks an idea of how each one was constructed. Pretty pretty please?
posted by barnacles at 9:10 AM on April 13, 2009

The best resource for those wanting to learn Inform 6, 7, TADS... is Plenty of help there.
posted by run"monty at 9:44 AM on April 13, 2009

Wow, thanks! I'm honoured to have won.
I had great fun writing and playing all of these games, and I can't wait to see more next year.

I'd be happy to put up my source code somewhere. I'd paste it into the walkthrough, but I think that would mess up the formatting. Upload a text file / the Inform file itself somewhere?
posted by lucidium at 11:55 AM on April 13, 2009

Lucidium, your prize is on its way. Everybody else, get me your mailing addresses so I can send you the certificates of participation.
posted by Deathalicious at 1:09 PM on April 13, 2009

I'd be happy to put up my source code somewhere.

Actually, there is now a memo field for pasting in the source. I'll just add a quick bit of code so that logged-in users can download the source from the game page.
posted by Deathalicious at 1:11 PM on April 13, 2009

BTW, as contest organizer and weilder of the website code, I will be awarding a few choice non-official awards which will be viewable on the games pages.
posted by Deathalicious at 1:45 PM on April 13, 2009

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