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Annual IF Comp 2018

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Re: Annual IF Comp 2018

Postby P/o Prune » Sat Mar 24, 2018 8:47 am

David Whyld wrote: That's something I've wondered as well. The impression I've always had from the rest of the IF community is that ADRIFT is the kind of system you use when you're learning IF, not what you use if you're serious about things. Indeed, I think Campbell has often referred to it as a beginner language himself. That impression hasn’t been helped by the fact that, for a great many years, ADRIFT’s output was pretty poor; a few decent games here and there, but nothing special and certainly well below the standard you'd expect from the better TADS or Inform games. In fact, I don't think it was until The PK Girl way back in 2002 (my god, has it really been that long?) that anyone outside of here actually took ADRIFT seriously.

If that's true, and I can't see why it shouldn't be, then people have totally misunderstood the whole concept of the IF Comp. They are judging the developer rather than the game itself.
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Re: Annual IF Comp 2018

Postby ralphmerridew » Sat Mar 24, 2018 4:38 pm

David Whyld wrote:
P/o Prune wrote:I'm a little puzzled as to why Adrift games hasn't done well in the IF Comp over the years.
I refuse to believe that our authors are worse than the ones using I7, Tads etc. With the risk of being accused of brown-nosing, :roll: I can mention: David, Lumin, Lazzah, Rotter and Denk. Just to mention some.
Is it because the numerous lousy games that has been released during the years has made Adrift games = garbage?
Or maybe something completely different?


That's something I've wondered as well. The impression I've always had from the rest of the IF community is that ADRIFT is the kind of system you use when you're learning IF, not what you use if you're serious about things. Indeed, I think Campbell has often referred to it as a beginner language himself. That impression hasn’t been helped by the fact that, for a great many years, ADRIFT’s output was pretty poor; a few decent games here and there, but nothing special and certainly well below the standard you'd expect from the better TADS or Inform games. In fact, I don't think it was until The PK Girl way back in 2002 (my god, has it really been that long?) that anyone outside of here actually took ADRIFT seriously.


As far as creative merits goes, I'm sure the ADRIFT community has comparable talents to the rest of the IF community. As far as technical skill goes, the ADRIFT community falls short, and ADRIFT itself isn't always up to the task of taking advantage of that skill.

I think a lot of the problem may stem from the fact that ADRIFT’s ease of use attracts people who don't have the patience or the skill to learn a programming language in order to use the other systems. That barrier – having to be a semi-proficient programmer before you can even start to write your game – discourages a lot of people from using the other systems, so the ones that persevere tend to be more dedicated than the ones who give up. That barrier probably also serves to weed out the first games that people write that no one really wants to play (you know the type: the ones set in people’s houses).


That may be part of it. There's also the fact that the wider IF community has also put a lot of effort into analyzing what makes a good game. (For example, the Inform 6 and TADS 2 manuals had extensive sections on good game design.) There are areas where the IF community noticed that X was a common problem in IF, and Inform and TADS have been designed to make avoiding X the default. Drifters aren't aware of X, so they tend to make games with problem X, and don't notice when X appears in ADRIFT games (or treat it as something the author should have fixed, as opposed to something Campbell could have eliminated at the source).

As far as big names in the ADRIFT community are concerned, we’re all fairly small fish in the wider IF world. No one here has ever won the IFComp and an ADRIFT game has never come first place in any other competition either. When people think of the big IF names, you can bet they're not thinking of us. Which isn’t to say that we don't produce good games here, or that we don't have good writers here, but we don't tend to make much of a splash anywhere else. The only time I've ever won a competition outside of ADRIFT was the IntroComp, and that was with an Inform game. What that means I don't know. Was that game head and shoulders better than anything else I've written and won for that reason alone? Or did people regard it more favourably simply because it was written with Inform and not ADRIFT? Would I have won if I’d written it with ADRIFT instead? There's no way of knowing for sure but something tells me I wouldn't have.


Then again, IntroComp is more sparsely entered than IFComp. Also, would it have been the same game if written in ADRIFT?

No matter how you look at it, there's always been a negative impression of ADRIFT from the rest of the IF community. Some of it I can understand – ADRIFT’s parser has never been great, the Runner is very dated, the WebRunner is an eyesore, the website itself looks more and more dated with every passing year – but it still seems we get unfairly judged sometimes. If identical games written with ADRIFT and Inform were entered into the IFComp, you can bet the Inform one would be much better received.


Do you mean "written in Inform / ADRIFT" or "distributed as a .glulx / .taf file"? (I wrote a program a few years that would compile a game written in ADRIFT to the TADS 2 format, but it would run the same as the original; I'd still refer to such a game as written in ADRIFT.) The system a game was written in has significant impact on the game itself.

And I think that, if you were to submit an ADRIFT game that was similarly converted to another format, that it is likely to be rated worse than if it had been submitted as an ADRIFT game; players may well treat problem X as being annoying, but something that's just a limitation of ADRIFT, but as something that you have to go out of your way to get wrong in Inform or TADS.

All that said, as I mentioned before a Quest game came third in the IFComp a few years back. That's the first time a Quest game has even made the top ten in all the years Quest has been around, which is an encouraging sign if nothing else. It proves that even systems generally held in low regard by the rest of the IF community can produce well received games if they're good enough. It seems unlikely an ADRIFT game will place that high in the IFComp this year, but if someone enters a good enough one, it’s possible.

Edit: And another point, as The0didactus mentions above, is that ADRIFT only runs on Windows machines, or through the very dated WebRunner via a browser on other systems. For whatever reason, a good number of the IF community are using Macs or Linux and so they can't write ADRIFT games full stop, which is likely a big turn off for them straight off the bat. Now I don't like playing IF games via a browser so it's not something which affects me directly, but it's a big deal for a lot of people. ADRIFT's WebRunner needs a serious upgrade to make it more welcoming. At the very least, it needs options to customise it so you can change the default look. As little fondness as I have for it, the future of IF is far more likely to be via browsers than run natively on a computer and in this area ADRIFT is miles behind the competition.
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Re: Annual IF Comp 2018

Postby David Whyld » Sat Mar 24, 2018 6:20 pm

P/o Prune wrote:If that's true, and I can't see why it shouldn't be, then people have totally misunderstood the whole concept of the IF Comp. They are judging the developer rather than the game itself.


Systems get judged by what they produce, and when most of the games produced with a system tend to be bad, that reflects negatively on the system. It probably shouldn't but it does. If you've played ten games written with a system and they've all been bad, that isn't going to leave you with a positive impression of the system.

ralphmerridew wrote:Then again, IntroComp is more sparsely entered than IFComp. Also, would it have been the same game if written in ADRIFT?


Very similar. I actually started writing the game in ADRIFT but then decided to switch to Inform 7 because I was worried people would play it with v5 - it was a v4 game and the auto-update process has never worked very well - and end up not liking it as a result. I could have written the entire thing in v4, but I'd hate to think how many hundreds or thousands of tasks I'd have had to include to handle what Inform did in a few pages of code.

ralphmerridew wrote:Do you mean "written in Inform / ADRIFT" or "distributed as a .glulx / .taf file"? (I wrote a program a few years that would compile a game written in ADRIFT to the TADS 2 format, but it would run the same as the original; I'd still refer to such a game as written in ADRIFT.) The system a game was written in has significant impact on the game itself.

And I think that, if you were to submit an ADRIFT game that was similarly converted to another format, that it is likely to be rated worse than if it had been submitted as an ADRIFT game; players may well treat problem X as being annoying, but something that's just a limitation of ADRIFT, but as something that you have to go out of your way to get wrong in Inform or TADS.


I'm not sure about that. Whether it's fair or not, there is a negative impression of ADRIFT from the rest of the IF community. It's never been held in very high regard and the expectation is that if you're playing an ADRIFT game, it's generally going to be worse than if you're playing a TADS or Inform game. (I have to admit, I'm as guilty of this as anyone. If I see a Quest game mentioned, I don't play it because I associate Quest with bad games based on how many I've played over the years - 40? Maybe 50? - compared to how many have been any good - a couple, maybe three at most.)
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Re: Annual IF Comp 2018

Postby ralphmerridew » Sat Mar 24, 2018 11:17 pm

David Whyld wrote:
P/o Prune wrote:If that's true, and I can't see why it shouldn't be, then people have totally misunderstood the whole concept of the IF Comp. They are judging the developer rather than the game itself.


Systems get judged by what they produce, and when most of the games produced with a system tend to be bad, that reflects negatively on the system. It probably shouldn't but it does. If you've played ten games written with a system and they've all been bad, that isn't going to leave you with a positive impression of the system.


Ninety per of everything is crud. That's just Sturgeon's Law. The question is, what's the quality on the ten percent?

And while that ten percent can get overlooked at first, when it's released into the comp, a few people will notice its virtues and discuss them in reviews; people hear about this and take another look afterwards.

David_Whyld wrote:
ralphmerridew wrote:Then again, IntroComp is more sparsely entered than IFComp. Also, would it have been the same game if written in ADRIFT?


Very similar. I actually started writing the game in ADRIFT but then decided to switch to Inform 7 because I was worried people would play it with v5 - it was a v4 game and the auto-update process has never worked very well - and end up not liking it as a result. I could have written the entire thing in v4, but I'd hate to think how many hundreds or thousands of tasks I'd have had to include to handle what Inform did in a few pages of code.


Taking one page of code as equalling 10 tasks... In my opinion, "requires 10 to 100 times as much work" is a euphemism for "project that gets increasingly sparsely implemented as it goes on, and is barely tested" at best, and "project that never gets finished" more typically.

David_Whyld wrote:
ralphmerridew wrote:Do you mean "written in Inform / ADRIFT" or "distributed as a .glulx / .taf file"? (I wrote a program a few years that would compile a game written in ADRIFT to the TADS 2 format, but it would run the same as the original; I'd still refer to such a game as written in ADRIFT.) The system a game was written in has significant impact on the game itself.

And I think that, if you were to submit an ADRIFT game that was similarly converted to another format, that it is likely to be rated worse than if it had been submitted as an ADRIFT game; players may well treat problem X as being annoying, but something that's just a limitation of ADRIFT, but as something that you have to go out of your way to get wrong in Inform or TADS.


I'm not sure about that. Whether it's fair or not, there is a negative impression of ADRIFT from the rest of the IF community. It's never been held in very high regard and the expectation is that if you're playing an ADRIFT game, it's generally going to be worse than if you're playing a TADS or Inform game. (I have to admit, I'm as guilty of this as anyone. If I see a Quest game mentioned, I don't play it because I associate Quest with bad games based on how many I've played over the years - 40? Maybe 50? - compared to how many have been any good - a couple, maybe three at most.)


Then again, when people do find a good game written in a less-regarded system, they tend to mention "Don't overlook this game just because it's written in ___; there's

While the quality of writing, puzzle design, and such can be highly variable, I can trust to a certain base technical merit in a TADS or Inform game; if a game accepts "TAKE ROCK" as meaning the same thing as "TAKE STONE", and a later "GIVE ROCK TO FRED" gets a response of "He looks at it briefly, but isn't interested.", I can generally be trust that typing "GIVE STONE TO FRED" will have the same failing result, and instead try a completely different thing; Inform and TADS go to a good deal of effort to see that such equivalent commands will have the same results, and an author has to go out of his/her way to make them do different things. Back in ADRIFT 4 (this has improved in A5), it was quite common that one of those commands would trigger the task and the other would be a fallthrough; an author must go out of his/her way to make them do the same thing; if the first failed, I'd still have to try

OTOH, if that trust is broken, the I/T game is likely to have a sudden backlash. (There was a comp game a few years ago where you had to give fish bones to another character, and had a similar problem. When I learned the phrasing from the walkthrough, I quit immediately. My technical expectations wouldn't be as high for an ADRIFT game, so I might not have quit so quickly.)

Also, what would you consider to be the top ADRIFT games? And how would you compare them to the top I/T games?
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Re: Annual IF Comp 2018

Postby David Whyld » Sat Mar 24, 2018 11:48 pm

ralphmerridew wrote:Taking one page of code as equalling 10 tasks... In my opinion, "requires 10 to 100 times as much work" is a euphemism for "project that gets increasingly sparsely implemented as it goes on, and is barely tested" at best, and "project that never gets finished" more typically.


I'm really not sure what point you're trying to make there. I never mentioned anything about one page of code equalling 10 tasks at all.

ralphmerridew wrote:Also, what would you consider to be the top ADRIFT games? And how would you compare them to the top I/T games?


Probably The PK Girl and Unraveling God, both from 2002. Very old games now but I don’t think better ADRIFT games have been released since. Some very good ones, but nothing quite on par with those. I’d say they hold their own fairly well to the top games with other systems I've played, though the very best I've played would probably be Counterfeit Monkey, which you certainly wouldn’t be able to do with ADRIFT. (Well, I guess it might technically be possible if you had a few years to sit there and organise 50,000 tasks to cover everything the game needs.)

One advantage I've always felt other systems have over ADRIFT is how much better their Runners (or whatever the word is) are. You play a TADS or Inform game and it plays much more smoothly in their Runner than an ADRIFT game does. The same game in TADS or Inform would seem better than in ADRIFT precisely because of it. (Of course, it’s not enough to make a bad game become brilliant, or a brilliant game to become bad, but it’s something I've noticed more than a few times over the years.) The ADRIFT Runner is in serious need of an update.
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Re: Annual IF Comp 2018

Postby ralphmerridew » Sun Mar 25, 2018 12:10 am

10 tasks are my estimate of what you could fit into one page.
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Re: Annual IF Comp 2018

Postby saabie » Sun Mar 25, 2018 3:38 am

I just had a quick look through the various competitions to see what reviewers were actually saying about ADRIFT-5.
So far I have not been able to find a single ADRIFT-5 game entered into any mainstream competition except for the IF-Comp, which had a grand total of... 3, and two of those were last year.

Of the games in the 2017, one was utterly riddled with bugs and had obviously not been beta tested. Even the walkthrough contained so many commands that didn't work that players couldn't complete the game without extra help.
Even so it managed to beat 7 other games :roll:
The other was a fairly standard combat based RPG that was 58th out of 80, so it beat 22 games written in other languages :yeah:

Reading through the reviews I can't find anything negative that anyone said about ADRIFT-5 itself, other than commenting that "say x to y" is not a standard IF command (and that's easily fixed by mentioning it at the start of the game, a tutorial section, or in a readme file).
In fact I've seen a few people mention the map in ADRIFT with praise and some envy that they don't have a map feature in their own IF system.

We can't do anything about people who insist reading interactive fiction on a phone without a proper keyboard, they just want to read a story with a couple of choices that they can click on.
For everyone else we just need to get a couple of really good spectacularly well written games entered into mainstream competitions to show people what ADRIFT is capable of.
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Re: Annual IF Comp 2018

Postby David Whyld » Sun Mar 25, 2018 7:32 am

ralphmerridew wrote:10 tasks are my estimate of what you could fit into one page.


Okay, but I'm still not sure what that has to do with anything I said.
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Re: Annual IF Comp 2018

Postby ralphmerridew » Sun Mar 25, 2018 4:01 pm

David Whyld wrote:
ralphmerridew wrote:10 tasks are my estimate of what you could fit into one page.


Okay, but I'm still not sure what that has to do with anything I said.


I was referring to this:

David Whyld wrote:I could have written the entire thing in v4, but I'd hate to think how many hundreds or thousands of tasks I'd have had to include to handle what Inform did in a few pages of code.


Side comments: Being usable by beginners is definitely a good thing. Unfortunately, Campbell made design decisions that meant this ease came at the expense of what more experienced users could do. Both groups are important.

What ADRIFT 4 treats as base cases unfortunately doesn't map well onto what most authors are likely to consider base cases. (Poodle had to override the command "DRESS THE DROP" to prevent the player from undressing Goldilocks.)
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Re: Annual IF Comp 2018

Postby David Whyld » Sun Mar 25, 2018 8:28 pm

saabie wrote:Reading through the reviews I can't find anything negative that anyone said about ADRIFT-5 itself, other than commenting that "say x to y" is not a standard IF command (and that's easily fixed by mentioning it at the start of the game, a tutorial section, or in a readme file).
In fact I've seen a few people mention the map in ADRIFT with praise and some envy that they don't have a map feature in their own IF system.


That's interesting. Maybe opinions have mellowed a bit over the years and I never noticed. It'd certainly be nice to enter an ADRIFT game in the IFComp and not feel like you're automatically at a disadvantage because you didn't write it in Inform.
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