Welcome to the 20th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition.
A complete summary of all this year’s competition entries, including each game’s cover art, blurb, and author information, is available on the ifcomp.org website. We encourage you to visit this page to get a full overview of the directory you’ve downloaded.
If you’re reading this on or before November 15, 2014, then that page will contain all the links and information you need to join the IFComp as a judge – and we hope that you do! Anyone can rate these games, and more judges make a better comp. The page also includes a tool that shuffles up the list of entries to help you play them in a random (and therefore more impartial) order.
After that date, the above link will take you to IFComp 2014’s permanent results page. From there, you will still have the opportunity to rate and critique these games on the IFDB, which houses community-reviewed entries for all the IFComp games going all the way back to 1995. (As well as every other IF work of note ever written…)
IFComp authors create their games using any tools they wish to use. As a result, the games run on a variety of platforms. Most of these games will work on any modern computer, but some require additional software to run. You can identify the “flavor” of an IFComp game (and know what else you need to play it) by its main file’s extension, as described below.
Nowadays the most common single format for IFComp entries is HTML, meant to run in most any modern web browser. Just locate and open the game’s
.html file, and your browser of choice should take it from there. (If the game is made of many HTML files, look for one named
index.html, unless a README file in that game’s folder directs you otherwise.)
Some web-based games work completely offline, with everything you need to play in their respective download directories, but others are hosted online and require an internet connection to play.
There are two ways to play these games, which are created using the Inform IF authoring tool:
Download an appropriate interpreter for your operating system, and have it load the game file that (since you’re reading this) you’ve already downloaded.
Play the game on the ifcomp.org website by locating its entry in the game list and clicking its “Play Online” button or link.
Note that games in this format are usually parser-based IF, in the mode of Infocom’s classic text adventures, the ones where you have to type in commands like GET LAMP and KILL TROLL WITH SWORD and ASK ZOE ABOUT QUANTUM PHYSICS and so on. Playing these games as intended requires knowledge of (and comfort with) parser conventions.
Some games contain some basic instructions if you e.g. type HELP as your first command. You can also find links to parser primers and tutorial games on the ifcomp.org website.
TADS is another popular system for creating parser IF. As with Inform, it offers its own variety of free, cross-platform interpreters you can use to load and play games created with it.
As TADS games are also usually parser-based, the above links and advice regarding parser-play also apply here.
Quest is another popular IF system, albeit one whose downloadable titles work only on Windows. You can download its interpreter for free from its website. Quest games are often (but not always) parser-based, as well.
Games with the file extension
.exe are native Windows programs. If you’re running Windows, just run them like any other program.
Note: One of the web-based games this year has a title that ends with “.exe”, even though the game itself is an HTML file that should run in any OS’s web browser. You’ll know it when you see it.
If you’re playing these games on or before November 15, 2014 with the intent to rate them as a judge – well, first of all, excellent! We’re sincerely glad to have you help.
Please take a moment to read the rules for judges before digging in. You may also wish to read the FAQ and the judging guidelines. We ask especially that you keep in mind that your ratings must reflect only your experiences of the the first two hours of play (at most).
When you’re ready to vote, head on back to the online ballot and use the controls found there to enter your ratings before 11:59 PM Eastern time on November 15. You can revisit that page as often as you need to, right up until the deadline. So long as you submit ratings for at least five games, we will count (and very much appreciate) your contribution.
Join the conversation about the competition and its entries in the IF forums. You can trade hints, share your thoughts about the games, and read other folks’ reviews.
Finally, if you need to contact the organizer for any reason, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would like to take this opportunity to once again express my gratitude to Stephen Granade, who ran the competition from 1999 through 2013. The world of interactive fiction changed and grew and changed some more over those years, and you can see the evidence of that in the wide variety of brand-new games nestled in their folders beside this document, waiting for you to open them up and explore.
I may have overhauled the competition website (to say nothing of this textfile) from how it was during his tenure, but all my work still follows in Stephen’s footsteps – as well as those of Dan Shiovitz, Mark Musante, and everyone else who’s helped make this annual celebration of new, short interactive fiction happen for the 20th time running.
Now, let’s go play some games.
– Jason McIntosh, October 2014