Monday, November 16, 2009

[IF Competition] Final Results

Well, here they are, the results of the 15th annual interactive fiction competition. Congratulations to anyone who considers himself or herself a winner!

No really big surprises here, I think, but a couple of things stand out:
  • Rover's Day Out has won, which does not surprise me, but its score is 0.6 points higher than that of the number two, which does. Apparently a lot of people were willing to forgive the game its weak points entirely.
  • GATOR-ON has placed far lower than I had expected. Surely the difference between GATOR-ON and, say, Interface should not be 2.7 points? I don't really know what has happened here.
  • ADRIFT didn't do too well: I would say that both The Ascot and Yon Astounding Castle! deserve to be a bit higher than they are; but both games have probably themselves, not their language, to blame. The Ascot hid its cleverness too well, while YAC! annoyed a lot of people with its language so that they never got to the pretty good game below.
  • What surprises me every year is how low the scores are. Why did only 8 of these games get a mark above the 6? Why is everyone giving such low scores? Turns out there is only one game I scored below average, and that one not much.


  1. Perhaps lots of strong games not entered in competitions skewed things?

  2. The scores are not skewed. The average score is 5.02.

  3. Well, I have never given an average score of 5.02 to my students. I doubt I have ever given an average below 6.

  4. At the risk of pointing out the obvious (but quite frankly, many reviewers didn't seem to be aware): 5 is not the average on a 1 to 10 scale. It's below average.

  5. Skewing scores down gives you more room to differentiate among the higher scoring games. Since presumably most reviewers care more about how the upper half ranks than they do about the lower half, this is arguably perfectly rational.

    With students, skewing scores up makes sense, because they turn in performance evaluations. :)

  6. With respect to GATOR-ON and Interface in particular, I think the first impressions of the two were starkly different.

    In Interface I was immediately hooked by the introduction -- it set the scene and gave me an idea what to expect. The first few moves revealed more of the premise in a way I found interesting, and so I was strongly motivated to continue through any issues I found.

    With GATOR-ON, I was dropped on a tram in the middle of nowhere with no idea what to expect. When I did explore I got lost in a very large area composed of nondescript rooms. When I finally got to a unique location there was very little to do there and almost no scenery was implemented.

    Basically there was nothing in the first part of the game for me to latch onto and promote the belief that the rest of it was going to be good.

    I wonder whether others had the same experience, decided it wasn't worth further effort, and just called it a 3 or 4.