the end is nigh….

…of IFComp 2008. Voting ends today.

So this was kind of a weird IFComp. I don’t want to say it was an off year, as I think this was only my third year of playing and judging. But it felt off to me somehow.

The biggest thing that jumped out at me this year, and maybe this Comp was just the proverbial straw, is the severe lack of polish of most IF. Probably this has something to do simply with playing a lot more games in the last year or so, from hanging out at TIGSource. But for a competition which you have an entire year — hell, years — to prepare for, an unpolished game is, frankly, pretty ridiculous.

By polish I don’t necessarily mean implementation of game logic or spell checking or so on. I mean the stuff you see when you start the game and when you end the game, stuff like help and hints and credits screens. Some of this is tied to the presentation of interpreters it’s true. And I’m not saying people need to abandon interpreters and only bundle .exe’s with custom UIs or whatever. But a little effort goes a long way. I remember Deadline Enchanter from last year’s comp. Some people didn’t like that game at all (some did, including me), but that game was polished. You could tell the author cared about how that game came across to the player.

So I don’t mean to say this Comp was a total downer (I hate just saying that). So here are my must-plays of IFComp 2008:

Everybody Dies by Jim Munroe, illustrations by Michael Cho.

My highest rated game of the comp. I don’t remember how I stumbled across Jim Munroe’s homepage (a few months ago I think), but I was surprised and pleased when I saw a game by him in the Comp. Michael Cho was a serendipitous find through this game as well. Anyway, this game isn’t perfect in implementation, and I would have liked more options, but it really works as IF. More please.

Nightfall by Eric Eve.

Besides the fact of this being very well done, the thing I like about Nightfall is it feels like an Eric Eve game not written by Eric Eve. By which I mean, all of the trademarks of his games are here — solid implementation, good design, and so on — but it feels like he is really pushing himself as an IF author to do more ambitious works.

Violet by Jeremy Freese.

I’d certainly be remiss if I didn’t mention this game; though it’s not really my thing, it’s supremely well done.

There were many ‘almost there’ games this year, and a few which I’ll go back to at some point. And can I say I love the IFDB now? Thanks.


3 comments so far

  1. Pacian on

    Funny, I actually thought this year’s comp had more quality games than last year’s.

    Ditto on Violet. It’s really well done, but coupling such a well characterised story to such hard puzzles draws me in and then slaps me across the face.

  2. kooneiform on

    Looking back at the list of 2007 games you have a good point there. I think I was subconsciously comparing this year to 2006, as from what I remember I didn’t play many of the games last year. But in any case I’m not working from a very big sample size.

    In a lot of ways I think this year was really good, particularly with all the commentary during the Comp and the author’s forum that was set up.

    Regarding Violet I think Stephen Bond has a really excellent review, if you haven’t read it.

  3. […] tags.) Auntie Pixelante (no cut-tags, review of Violet only so far) Sam Kabo Ashwell David Fletcher George Oliver Rob Menke Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)PlayThisThingYou Were Too LateA […]

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