Facts of IF: What is Agency?

Agency is generally considered to refer to the degree of control the player has over the story:  the ending, the plot, and what happens generally.  However, when we measure agency, by asking players how much control they had over the story and the endings, we find that what people experience as agency isn’t what we defined as agency.

In other words, agency isn’t what we thought it was.


Published in: on November 21, 2009 at 11:54 am  Comments (4)  
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Facts of IF: More Puzzle Games – Ascot, Gleaming, and Grand Quest


I’m marking _The Ascot_ down as a puzzle game because, although it had a story, the story was mainly in service to the puzzle, which was of an (unusually clever) get-the-right-ending type.  Its reviews suffered because, people believed, it wasn’t “proper” IF, allowing only “yes” or “no” as commands or “the parser would explode,” ending the game; and presumably its scores suffered too.



Published in: on November 20, 2009 at 12:03 am  Comments (3)  
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Facts of IF: Why did Astounding Castle Do So Well?

If you’ve been following the theorizing here on OneWetSneaker, you’ve heard me hammering away at the fact that Comp scores tend overwhelmingly to follow immersiveness ratings.  But that’s not always true:  sometimes a game completely pigs out when it comes to immersiveness, but scores much better.

Yon Astounding Castle of some sort, for example, was rated at 3.75 for immersiveness; but it scored an astounding 5.34 — which *is* astounding for a game with such a low immersiveness rating.  How did YAC do it? (more…)

Published in: on November 18, 2009 at 8:36 pm  Comments Off on Facts of IF: Why did Astounding Castle Do So Well?  
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Facts of IF: Why Did Byzantine Perspective Do So Poorly?

In general, I don’t much like puzzle IF.  Nevertheless, I am a big fan of this game.  This puzzle is so nifty, so creative, and so cool that I was really looking forward to it placing well in the Comp.  Also I appreciated the author for implementing ‘nab.’  Instead, it got a 5.76, putting it in ninth place out of 24:  not even in the top third.

Partly that’s because we had a very good Comp this year.  Even so:  as an end product, it was a better work of IF than the higher-scoring _Earl Grey_, and as an inspired work it was much better than _Snow Quest_ — all due respect to those authors.

Really, it should have done better.  Why didn’t it? (more…)

Published in: on November 18, 2009 at 6:34 am  Comments (11)  
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The Facts of IF – A Model of IF Comp Scoring

I’ve come up with a predictive model for Comp scores.  It’s accurate to well within my margin of error, except for two games, and these I can account for.

It’s based on three variables, namely Immersion, Puzzle Design, and Playability.  The coefficients for these, respectively, are:  .6, .2, and .2.  If you’re good at linear algebra and you want to out-face me on the variable coefficients (or indeed on variable selection), email me and I’ll send you the data set.

The model is:

 60% (Immersion) + 20% (Puzzle Design) + 20% (Playability)
= Comp Score


Published in: on November 17, 2009 at 1:01 pm  Comments (9)  
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What You Like — First Results

This graph represents the games of this IF Comp, cumulatively rated by quality, according to the data I’ve collected so far.  This ranking predicts how well the games will do in the Comp — sort of.  There are two problems.

ifcomp game qualities


Published in: on November 15, 2009 at 6:13 pm  Comments (7)  
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I was wrong about one thing…

Immersiveness is certainly *not* the product of playability and emotional salience — not if this survey is measuring what it’s supposed to measure.

Also, a prediction from eyeballing the data:  _Duel In the Snow_’s going to do pretty well this year.

Published in: on November 14, 2009 at 9:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Watching Them Watching Us

I’ve been going through the foreign language reviews, looking for cultural differences and so on.  There are a few things that stand out:  The Russians didn’t like _The Duel That Spanned the Ages_, considering it cheesy science-fiction.  Which it is; but it seems they’re not tuned in to how difficult it is to do action in IF.

Both the Russians and the Hispanics (actually there’s only one Hispanic reviewer that I saw) showed a clear preference for highly narrative works, and were dismissive of simulator-based adventure-style games, like Spelunker’s Quest. (more…)

Published in: on November 14, 2009 at 11:26 am  Comments (4)  
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What YOU Like in IF – more data

I’ve recently gone through the online reviews of IF Comp 09 games, looking for commonalities and patterned differences in what people like about IF.  What I found is counter-intuitive; or at least, contrary to the prevailing wisdom.

Admittedly, my method required a lot of gisting.  So, I’d like to collect more numerical data.  Then when we get the scores, we can sort through this to see what the strongest influences are.  And that means we can tell IF authors with specificity how to write games you’ll like better.

Take the survey and tell us what you like in IF.

If you’d like to pass along the link, you may find this one more convenient, as it won’t break under cut-n-paste:


Published in: on November 12, 2009 at 12:47 pm  Comments (4)  
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What Makes IF Enjoyable? — Conclusions Drawn

The two primary factors that make IF enjoyable are:

1.  Playability.  The game should not normally interfere with the player’s attempt to play it, although players will tolerate a high degree of frustration if the game seems to be meant to be frustrating (some of us kept playing _Beta Tester_), and especially if the game is frustrating in a variety of ways. (more…)

Published in: on November 9, 2009 at 11:08 pm  Comments (14)  
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