IFComp 2009

I've always thought the IFComp logo was a compass, but I guess I'm not sure.

We here at GWJ make little secret that many of us enjoy interactive fiction. It's a love born of our passion for stories and characters, our joy in clever indie experimentation, and no small portion of nostalgia for text adventures of yesteryear.

If you share our enjoyment of this style, then you are in luck. The 15th annual Interactive Fiction Competition, IFComp 2009, made this year's entries available last week, beginning the 6-week judging period to play and vote on your favorite.

IFComp games are short. Judges are allowed to play each for no more than 2 hours before assigning a score, so games are generally designed to be finished within that window. In years past, these games needed players to install separate interpreter programs on their computers, but 14 of the 24 entries this year are playable online.

This progress toward easier access may not mean that all the old arcana of genre convention have passed away, however. Games are still likely to expect you know to look upon entry to every new location and at every named object, and perhaps to use as many objects on each other as possible. To many, brain-contorting combinations to solve puzzles and the responses IF games give to off-the-mark inputs are part of the genre's charm. Regardless, these are conventions you should have in mind as you play IF, just as it's helpful to understand mouse-look and WASD (or your own sick variant thereof) for PC FPS titles.

Why You Should Check This Out: Not only can you take part in a central event of the IF culture, but you get to play games for free! If you're feeling overwhelmed by the options, Emily Short is a great source of IFComp reviews (as well as rich, nougaty IF knowledge).

[size=20]Download Now
Or
Play Online[/size]

Comments

The number of games is down again this year. On the one hand, this trend suggests a declining interest in the medium. On the other hand, it reduces the feeling that you can get overwhelmed if you take it upon yourself to play every game before submitting results.

P.S. The IFComp 2009 link in the article is broken. Fortunately the "Download Now" link works.

P.P.S. I was surprised to see no TADS games, TADS2 or TADS3, on the list this year.

P.P.P.S. Yo, wordsmythe, I'm really happy for you, I'mma let you finish... but 2003 had one of the best IF Comps of ALL TIME!

Quintin_Stone wrote:

The number of games is down again this year. On the one hand, this trend suggests a declining interest in the medium. On the other hand, it reduces the feeling that you can get overwhelmed if you take it upon yourself to play every game before submitting results.

P.S. The IFComp 2009 link in the article is broken. Fortunately the "Download Now" link works.

The IFComp folks realize this, I think. The front page of their wiki says:

A number of interesting games from established authors have been appearing in 2009 — and many of them were released outside of competitions! Don't forget to play these offerings:
Blue Lacuna (Aaron A. Reed; Glulx).
The Bryant Collection (Gregory Weir; Z-code).
Make It Good (Jon Ingold; Z-code).
Game Developers Conference 2009 (Jim Munroe; Z-code).
Inside Woman (Andy Phillips; Z-code).
Sam Fortune - Private Investigator (Steve Blanding; Glulx).
Shelter from the Storm (Eric Eve; TADS 3).
Alabaster (Emily Short and many others; Glulx).
Jack Toresal and The Secret Letter (Michael Gentry and David A. Cornelson; publisher: Textfyre; FyreVM).
The King of Shreds and Patches (Jimmy Maher; Glulx).
Cacophony (Owen Parish; Z-code).

There are links to all of those on the wiki. I'm not going to copy them all over.

I wonder if we're seeing a dual effect of Inform 8. The lure of "natural language" programming drawing beginners away from TADS but the hidden nuances of producing a finished game keeping the overall competition entries down. Just an idle thought.