IFComp 2013

IFComp2013It’s October, and that means that IFComp is live once again! It’s been two years since I last tried to play through any of this, but I’m going attempt it again this year.

A quick refresher: This is the biggest event in the IF (Interactive Fiction) community every year. The high profile and low barrier to entry means that you’ll see everything from unplayable messes to works of genius. They are all designed to be playable in two hours at the most (sometimes much less), and if there are puzzles that may keep you from finishing it in time, the game will come with a walkthrough or hint system to help you along. “Interactive fiction” can refer to any non-linear story, but in practice generally means the aesthetic that was created by text adventures in the 1980s. Don’t think that these are limited to the arbitrary puzzles of Zork, though. The best of these free works have much more depth and narrative power than most people ever imagined when text adventures were popular.

I’m excited to see what the competition has to offer this year. For one thing, I enjoyed it a lot in 2011 even though I missed the best games. For another, the community seems to be evolving quickly. Over half of the thirty-five games in this year’s competition are web-based. (In 2011, only three were.) This means that they weren’t built around the traditional engines that grew out of text adventures, and from what I hear they do bring a very different approach to interactive fiction.

The competition runs until November 15. Realistically, I’ll be happy to get through about ten games, and I may need to cut back on my blogging to make time for it. Since I’ll be submitting scores to the competition, I’ve randomized the list of games to make sure there’s no bias in the subset that I choose. Expect me to take at least a couple weeks before I start posting reviews, since I like to take some time to get a feel for multiple games before I comment on one in a vacuum.

Hopefully some of you will try out the competition as well. Have fun!

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