2001-11-20 Entry: "The Results Are In..."
For those of you reading rec.(arts|games).int-fiction, then this won't be news. Equally for those that frequent the ifcomp.org website. But for those not in the know, the results of the 2001 Interactive Fiction Competition are in.
Now, usually I take at least a reasonable shot at some of the games - no, I don't play all of them as the size of the Comp has got rather unmanageable in recent years (50+ entries). This year, however, I played two.
That's right - four hours in total got devoted to this year's games. It didn't help that I was on holiday during the voting period, which cut out two and a bit weeks, but I should have at least been able to play enough to vote (10 games I believe).
Instead, I played two. And what a pair they were. You see, they provide a randomiser to allow you to produce a randomised list of games to play (so all games get roughly the same number of votes), but I eschewed this, in favour of playing all the Inform games in alphabetical order - I only got through two, but the intent was there.
So, the two I played: "All Roads," and "Bane of the Builders."
"Bane of the Builders" was stereotypical sci-fi - but didn't seem to be particularly well fleshed out. A not too difficult maze, a completely unclued bit of rewiring of a lift, and a not very engaging end-game meant that it didn't do well - I was voting it a 3 or 4 (modified by later results of course). That was game two, and it came in joint 29th.
The first game, "All Roads," was much more polished. It was also incomprehensible - you seem to play some sort of bodyless assassin, possessing people to maneuver them into being killed. However, the out of sequence flow of the game made even piecing together that much difficult. As such, I had it pegged as an 8 - well written, engaging, but a little confusing. It may have gotten a nine if nothing had obviously beaten it, but it didn't deserve a 10.
Strangely, this was the winner of the competition. So, out of all those games, the first one I play is the one everyone else thought was the best (averaged of course - I'm sure some hated it). Even for me this is a little surreal... "pick a game, any game - it'll win" was not really what I was expecting. I felt sure there'd be better games amidst all those others, games I'd enjoy more. But I didn't actually get to play those.
Maybe by next year I'll actually have an idea to enter, or I'll have finished the long game that's stalled in development (and which I now know where to head, if I can make it engaging enough). But until then, I'll still be sniping from the crowd (and trying to find games I'm actually good enough to finish - I can't solve puzzles to save my life).