From 1996 to 2004, I reviewed almost every game submitted to the IF Competition. There were a few exceptions, though:
- My own games, for obvious reasons.
- The games for which I was a beta tester: Mother Loose and All Roads. Both of these games were excellent, but I didn’t review them since I felt like I’d influenced them.
- The 1996 game Promoted!, which required the OS/2 operating system to run. (Though it has since been ported to Inform.)
- The 2000 games Infil-Traitor and Happy Ever After, which had known bugs that required recompilation before the games were viable. I’m a bit persnickety about playing games in the state in which they were submitted on the deadline day, and I viewed those games as ineligible based on their initial brokenness.
- The 2001 game Begegnung Am Fluss, which was in German.
- Games written by newsgroup trolls (defined by me as people who have made multiple, unprovoked, personal attacks on newsgroup regulars), which I didn’t have the ability or inclination to review fairly.
Everything else, though, will be showing up here. I’m going to add every review as its own post, even though that will sometimes make for some pretty short posts, especially for reviews from the earlier years, before I came into my full superverbosity. My reason for this is that I’d like to be able to link directly to a review, rather than an anchor tag on a page full of reviews. I’m planning to add pages here that index all the games both by comp year and overall, and it will be way easier if each review is self-contained.
I’m also going to be leaning heavily on the wonderful Interactive Fiction Database, which contains a comprehensive catalog of interactive fiction works. For each game, I’ll provide a link to its IFDB page, and anytime I reference a game I’ll link to IFDB, just as I have above. I would love it if these posts can bring attention to some of the wonderful IF of the past. (Or even some of the dire IF of the past, if that’s for some reason what you fancy.)
Like much of >INVENTORY, my approach will be a bit experimental, and I expect to learn and iterate as I go. At the very least, I want to indicate which year’s comp contained the game, who wrote it, how it placed, and what score I gave it. A note about my scoring — although competition scores are always submitted as integers from 1 to 10, my own reviews add one decimal place to that score, because I often found that I wanted to express a bit more nuance. A high 7 feels different (to me) from a low 7… y’know? For the purposes of my submitted scores, I’d always round up on .5, so for example that lowest possible 7 would be 6.5, and the highest possible 7 would be 7.4. I also made it my practice to stop playing after two hours, whether I was finished or not, and base my score and review on that two-hour (or less) experience.
One last thing — from 1997 onwards, the competition game package came with a tiny little program that would provide you with a list of the games in randomized order. Like most judges, I can’t help but be influenced by the order in which I experience things, and playing the 1996 games in alphabetical order by title may have unfairly influenced some scores. Consequently, I always played the games thenceforward in a random order to eliminate that bias.
I will be posting my comp game reviews in the order I played them. As time went on, that sequence became a journey in itself, and reviews of later games would be influenced by reviews of earlier games. Never fear, the site will be searchable, and I’ll provide pages which list the games alphabetically.