IFComp 2019 wrap-up

The voting period of the 25th annual IFComp is over, and the results will be announced tomorrow. I managed to play all but one of the games 1The one I skipped, Alice Blue, only runs on Linux. I do have an old Linux machine around — once upon a time, it served as my web server — but the game has a bunch of requirements beyond that: the Gnome desktop, a list of packages, certain terminal preferences. It didn’t seem worth the effort. , but I didn’t write up as many games as I intended, and those that I wrote up weren’t necessarily the best of the Comp. I think the randomizer shuffled a bunch of the best games toward the end for me, and I basically wimped out for the last few days due to my failure to adequately describe Hanon Ondricek’s robotsexpartymurder.

So here’s some brief comments about just a few of the remaining games I’d recommend most highly:

robotsexpartymurder: As a work of sci-fi, deeper than the title suggests. As a web-based interactive experience, amazingly dense and varied, mixing dialogue and locations with in-game computer interfaces. As erotica, not really my thing, but at least it’s sensitive to the fact that not all the Comp judges want erotica and makes it fundamentally optional.

Zozzled: Steph Cherrywell’s prose is always a treat, and it turns out to be even moreso when mixed with a dose of 1920s slang. You play as a boozy flapper hunting ghosts in a hotel. Classic adventure-game tomfoolery.

Hard Puzzle 4 : The Ballad of Bob and Cheryl: Somehow I managed to miss the first three games in this series, but the fourth is right up my alley. In content, it’s post-apocalyptic wacky. In form, it’s meta shenanigans. Puzzles are largely based on exploiting bugs. Does some very nice indirect hinting, where things mentioned in the changelog or whatever aren’t directly exploitable but suggest things that are. Still haven’t finished this

But my prediction for winner is still Turandot.

I’m guessing that the Golden Banana of Discord (the unofficial prize for the game whose ratings have the highest standard deviation) will go to one of the “But is it IF?” pieces, of which there are several.

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1. The one I skipped, Alice Blue, only runs on Linux. I do have an old Linux machine around — once upon a time, it served as my web server — but the game has a bunch of requirements beyond that: the Gnome desktop, a list of packages, certain terminal preferences. It didn’t seem worth the effort.

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