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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Looking at the Spring Thing

The great thing about IF? The graphics.
So... there are a few IF competitions throughout the year. There's the generically titled "IF Comp" which begins mid-fall but the other "big" competition is the "Spring Thing". There are several differences between these two competitions. For one, the annual IF Comp gets much more attention (at least from outside the IF community) and it gets a ton more entrants. I'm fairy certain these two facts are correlated. But more importantly, the fall IF Comp is more for medium sized works of IF, whereas the Spring Thing has no such limitations and is thus implicitly if not explicitly for longer form games. The only problem is that is takes a TON of time to write one good medium sized game. Last year they didn't even have a Spring Thing because not enough people entered (i.e. I don't think there was any). This year, there was a substantial uptick with it looks like six entrants.

Now, I haven't played them yet, let alone formulated opinions about them. (I'm not exactly the most dedicated IF fan) But no time like the present! Since I don't know how long these games are, I'm going to pace myself. We'll do a review a week. Or at least that's the goal I'll be shooting for. But don't hold me to anything, you jokers! And by jokers, I mean the web-crawling spider-bots which according to the statistics gives me about this blog, represent my core demographic.

I have scrupulously avoided spoilers and I have no idea which entry won. You can download the games at the competition's website, but be warned that near the top of the page they post the winners, so if you'd prefer to remain unspoiled like I do, I suggest you close one eye, put your left hand in front of your computer screen and scroll all the way down. At least that's the high tech method. Also if you haven't played these types of games before I suggest you download one of the free and awesome interpreters as you won't be able to play any of the games without one. I'll be reviewing them in reverse alphabetical order so if you want to play along we'll be doing:

1st - Wetlands by Clara Raubertas
2nd - The Promise by Sean Huxter
3rd - Mentula Macanus: Apocolocyntosis by One of the Bruces and Drunken Bastard
4th - The Lost Islands of Alabaz by Michael Gentry
5th - Hallow Eve by Michael Wayne Phipps Jr.
6th - Bonehead - By Sean M. Shore

Despite the fact that one of the authors chose to go by the ignominious pseudonym "Drunken Bastard" (and let's not even go into that game's name) every entry is a Glulx game of a hefty size (for an IF game that is), which is a good sign. So I'm excited. Obviously I wasn't excited enough to play them when they were actually released back in March or April but better late than never, right? Anyway, if you're interested, join me later as we check out these hopefully awesome entries.


  1. Without giving anything away, I can tell you that by and large, these games are not very long. Most of them are about Comp-length. Hope that's not too disappointing.

  2. Really? ... Hmmm... Well, I'll get to cracking on the first one tonight. I may change the frequency of the reviews depending.

  3. im looking forward to the next Spring Thing. thats the comp i'm aiming to enter my WIP into.

  4. I tell ya, writing IF is HARD. It's time consuming, tedious, and only a small percentage of the people on the planet will sit down and play it. But God, it's fun.

  5. At least one of them is quite large. 160,000 words of source, in fact.

  6. Sorry, Adam, didn't mean to disparage Stiffy's girth. Two of the games are considerably bigger than Comp length; the other four are roughly Compish, give or take. Looking at the order you've got them, Brooks, it's sort of a bell curve, if that helps your planning.