How to Judge

I’m not telling you here how to judge — I wouldn’t presume — but only how to judge.

The first thing you do, basically, should be to type TRANSCRIPT.  (Or start it from the menu, in Adrift.)  Then, write comments as you go along that show your thought process.

>* Hm, do I write anything that comes to mind?

Sometimes the parser won’t understand comments.  Inform games often don’t.  But, if you always start them in this way, with an asterisk, the author can find them in the transcript with a simple search.  And you can find them too, if you want to consult them later for any reason.

When you’re finished with the game, write the author a brief email.  You can thank him for the effort he put into the game; tell him what you thought of it; if you didn’t enjoy it, you can tell him what would have to be different for it to appeal to you.  And send the transcript in the email.

In your email, you really don’t have to go into too much depth.  Not everyone wants to write reviews.  You can even leave it blank.  But you really ought to send a transcript.  It makes the communication two-way; it prevents the authors from putting their games out into a void, straining for snatches of opinion from bloggers and passing mentions on newsgroups.

It shows the author where people get stuck, where they’re not having fun, what they *did* understand, what folks really enjoy.  Even well-beta-tested games benefit from this, because beta-testers approach a game with a very different mentality than do Comp judges.  And, it takes really no further investment of time on your part.

The difference between an expert IF author and a newbie is not primarily in understanding the programming language.  If it were, good programmers would make good IF writers, and that’s not always the case.  The primary difference is that expert IF writers understand how players are interpreting the situation that the text game reports, how they might feel about it, and what kinds of responses it’s likely to draw from them.

You can substantially improve the overall level of expertise in the IF authoring community by teaching newer game writers how people are responding to their game, on a move-by-move basis.  You do that by making a TRANSCRIPT and sending it to the author.  Every time.  Even when you have nothing in particular to say about it.  Even when you forget to start it until 10 turns into the game.

It’s incredibly helpful, and basically free.  I have never heard of an author objecting because he didn’t want another transcript.  And, while the author will only ever see the score you give him in aggregate with all the other scores he’s gotten, he will see your transcript personally.  So it gives you far more influence.

Make a transcript.

Published in: on October 11, 2009 at 6:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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