Archive for October, 2006|Monthly archive page

I’m caving in

Yes, I’m caving in…not forcing myself to play each and every game all the way through. Does it make my experience of IFComp less pure? Honestly I think it does, but I just don’t want to play some of these games after the first dozen or two commands. Talk about hitting yourself over the head with a hammer over and over. And over. And…you know. A guy hasn’t got all night to play IF, even at comp time.

16 more games. Foolishly I played fewer inform games early on and now I have a big herd of inform games to play (many I7). There is an unappealing sameness to many of these games, the descriptions, the pseudo-mysterious|irreverent intro, the lack of pacing and action.

IFComp entries should be pre-screened for quality. I don’t know how this could be done fairly.


Over the hump

After a bit of an effort today I’ve played over half of the IFComp games. Twenty to go. Two lessons I’m taking away:

  • (again) Adrift isn’t so bad
  • I just don’t want to play games in a windows console. Any better suggestions for those games?

in the valley

After a smashing start to playing all the IFComp games, I now realize what I thought was upward momentum was really downhill momentum. I am now in the valley, the reviewing nadir if you will. 30 games left to play and 28 days left to play them.

Not only that, the last three or four games have been something of a bunch of clunkers. Hoping that the next run will inspire.

my ruby

So I was reading a thread at MudLab and Tyche had posted a list of Ruby resources. Now I’ve never really coded anything but, as I was curious about Ruby, I checked some of the links out and ten freakin hours later I wrote my first Ruby program!
This is an exercise from the really cool Learn To Program by Chris Pine, I highly recommend that site. Great job Chris! In my post all-nighter vibe I post the code with no shame:

# declare variables and arrays

word = 'start'
unsortedList = [] 
sortedList = []
lowercase = []
trues = 0

# say hello

puts 'Hello. Type a word, press [ENTER] after every word, [ENTER] when done: '

# get the input

while word != ''
word = gets.chomp
unsortedList.push word

# downcase the list so we can sort it

unsortedList.each do |i|
lowercase.push i.downcase

# sort the list

while lowercase.length > 0

  lowercase.each do |i|

    lowercase.each do |j|

      if (i &lt = j)
      trues = trues + 1


    if (trues == lowercase.length)
    sortedList.push i
    trues = 0
    trues = 0

# see the sorted list
puts '-' * 60
puts 'Your sorted list, dude:'
puts sortedList

# voila

I wrote this trying not to use any other reference but Chris’s tutorial up to the point of the exercise, but I admit I couldn’t hack it and I looked up a library reference for the delete method (which I probably could have just guessed at and got right). Now this is not perfect, I know, I know, blah blah. But it’s my first ruby! It’s all mine! (insert maniacal laughter here…)

And I gotta figure out how to format that better…code tags don’t do so well — fixed.

how far

33 more days of judging, and 30 more games to play. I did take a little break the past couple of days.

There’s a thread at TMC about (the lack of) innovation in text muds. You know what they say, graphics are the new text and everything.

Talking about the lack of innovation in text muds is like saying…I don’t know, some people in the thread make it sound like RC car enthusiasts are gettin reallll creative lately, and mud programmers are just so faded. Or that it’s only text muds that aren’t innovating, and uh, all the MMORPGs are so cutting edge?

However I do see a rift between something like text muds and the hot indie game dev community that seems to be throwing out ideas left and right. That’s where all the kids are these days I guess. It’s not that there aren’t some very smart and creative mud developers out there, they just don’t seem to be actively viraling their thoughts in more than a couple of places…well, one place, I can only think of MudLab. Mud-Dev seems to be dead. Perhaps there are others.

Graphics are the new text…I wonder if it would be worthwhile to combine a text game with something similar to the new networked books…throw in some IM. Whenever I think of that it feels like such a cop-out, like the lemon foam to the meat-and-potatos of real text muds and IF. We’ll see.


I’ve played a couple of Adrift games for the IFComp so far and I have to admit that I started those games with a bias. An anti-Adrift bias, merely because the general sentiment from IF sites and newsgroups was that Adrift was OK if you didn’t want to ‘get into’ the programming of an IF work, but for real IF you want to use a ‘powerful’ language such as Inform, TADS, or Hugo, and so most Adrift games would be relatively ‘simple’, or ‘limited’.

Well of course this is utter nonsense, and I’m glad that the IfComp provided me a game to shatter my prejudices. However it’s telling how subtly community pressure can influence my opinion on something like which IF language to use.

38 more days of judging and 34 more games to play!

Catchy melody, good beat, and….WTF?!?

When I faced the prospect of playing and judging all the IFComp games I thought I better write down some impressions, if not reviews, of each game, because I knew it would be easy to forget about the first game by the time I played the thirtieth game. And if I was going to do that, I might as well roughly score the games as I go.

To make scoring easier I settled on a simple scoring system, choosing scores one to ten in three categories: creativity, meaning the richness of the idea, its world, the plot and characters; execution, meaning the code implementation of the idea, the typography of the game, the prevalence of bugs; and a third, very special category, for those situations where you might not be playing the best game in the world but the author has come up with something so audacious, daring, or just plain weird that you want to reward them somehow. The third category is: WTF?!?

WTF ?!? may reward with a high score what you might call ‘good’ or equally what you might call ‘bad’, but in both cases the high score represents the presence of something that your average, run-of-the-mill game doesn’t have. Conversely, a game that doesn’t do anything bold or risky gets a low WTF ?!?. The final score simply is an average of the three category scores.

I played two games tonight. Coincidentally they were almost exact opposites in their level of creativity and execution, but there wasn’t a lot of deviation in their level of WTF. Of course one game was much, much, better, in fact it set a very high standard for what IF should be. Five down, 38 to go!

45 more days

OK, I promise I won’t title every post with a number.

If you check out the IFComp’s page you’ll see that they disqualified one game, so we’re down to 43 games. I played one game last night and two tonight; so far, one whacked out clunker, one average beginner’s game —

And one beautiful, beautiful game, not without flaws, but the kind of game where from the very beginning you realize what can be done with today’s IF languages. I would have paid money for it. I almost teared up at the end. Seriously, very sweet. Anyway, 40 games to go. I’m on target!

47 days and 46 nights

The IFComp is here. I just hit the download.

In 47 days I should be able to play and judge all the games. This will be a project. I’ll keep you posted.