Competition Entries etc. (split from "Genre Suggestions")

Information from and to the site administrators.

Moderator: Alastair

Message
Author
Sudders
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 12:55 am

Re: Competition Entries etc. (split from "Genre Suggestions")

#16 Post by Sudders » Sun Dec 02, 2018 7:35 pm

Fair enough Alastair, I played one and never went back too. I just don't think they fit with the overall tone of the database.

Maybe a separate database should be made for them? In the same way WoS separates Adventures and other games?

It is a serious question, sorry Garry I'm not looking to cause grief, but you are the only person I have known to take an interest in them. Maybe it's me, but I can't see the attraction outside of sheer statistics of games played/solved.

I'm not convinced that they are most played either. There is a buzzing, if still small at 1,300, scene of retro adventure players but I can't see anything on Speed IF or competition games.

I'm sorry if I appeared aggressive or antsy, I am just a huge advocate of this website and would be sad to see it lose its way.

Mr Creosote
Posts: 929
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:23 am
Contact:

Re: Competition Entries etc. (split from "Genre Suggestions")

#17 Post by Mr Creosote » Mon Dec 03, 2018 6:33 am

I propose removing all non-illustrated pure text games from the database. Because, you know, I have asked around with my personal friends and nobody plays them. What's worse, inquired further, nobody could even imagine giving them a chance. For games with some accompanying graphics, some showed basic interest. So let's build the ultimate resource for what is clearly the future!

(I'm not even going to further try and link to the cometition playing communities with their significantly more active forums than this one. Just trying to illustrate the absurdity of the argument.)

Sudders
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 12:55 am

Re: Competition Entries etc. (split from "Genre Suggestions")

#18 Post by Sudders » Mon Dec 03, 2018 12:34 pm

All I am doing is putting my opinion. I apologise if this offends you Mr Creosote, but I love the site and wanted to state my position.

Let's be honest for a lot of us this isn't about the future, it's a retro scene.

Maybe my point about a separate database is valid if this is such a burgeoning scene?

User avatar
Gunness
Site Admin
Posts: 1776
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 7:04 pm
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Contact:

Re: Competition Entries etc. (split from "Genre Suggestions")

#19 Post by Gunness » Mon Dec 03, 2018 1:16 pm

Image

Thanks everybody for participating. This seems like one of these "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situations, and no matter what I say, there are people who are going to be unhappy about it. But I sincerely hope that we can find a workable solution.

What are we discussing?
There are two matters on the table here:
1) The use of genres. To me it's obviously the less important of the two, and short of implementing the layered genre structure which Garry suggests (I've already covered this here), I think we can find a functional workaround which most users can live with. They might not be thrilled about it, but it'll be manageable.

2) What games we should cover. We've covered this topic before, first in the early days of the revamped site, where it was a matter of allowing RPG-style games and such. Later on, the debate turned towards Speed IF.

What do people want?
It seems that we have two camps:
a) The ones who would like the site to focus on the 8-bit (and possibly 16-bit) era, and who feel that going outside that era is diluting the quality of the database.
b) The ones who would like us to include more modern games, including every type of competition game and even the much-maligned Speed IF.

Part of the reason for this lies in the site's roots. It grew out of my own background and interests, which were the 8-bit games. I'll be the first to admit that they, along with Amiga and Atari ST titles, had my sole attention for the first many year's of CASA's existance. As long as a game used the classic format with a text input, I was a happy camper, and of course this formed our user base. At some point we started to include a few Inform games, and being the pragmatic guy that I am, I thought, "Why the hey not? It's still reminiscent of the games I created the site for, and as long as we maintain our focus, sure". So the inclusion of "modern" games just led its own, quiet life without adhering to some elaborate expansion scheme.

I also knew that I wanted to create more than just a list of solutions, so while they have indeed been our "bread and butter" for a long time,the goal was to create an information site about the games and their creators. However, when we were discussing CASA 2.0, one of the key points that arose during our discussions was that we didn't want to compete with the existing IF databases (IFDb, IF Wiki). As Garry so succinctly puts it, "the CASA community is tiny and other sites do it [reviews, ratings etc.] so much better." But we're still trying to cover "the entire range of games from the earliest titles to modern Interactive Fiction, with emphasis on older titles.", as I have so naively written.

"I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread."

The way I see it, the classic formats are already fairly well covered, and a lot of them have detailed information unique to our site. That's no mean feat and certainly something to be proud of. But in the long run they're also a bit of a dead end. There are only so many C64, Spectrum and BBC games to cover, and although there's always more to do, it's tempting to dive into the huge Inform and TADS ocean.
However, I think that, with more than 7,500 games already in the database and not enough active users, we might be overextending ourselves. We don't have the user base that IFDb or IF Wiki do, and I must admit that when Garry presented his list of competition types, I felt a bit disheartened. Again, my background lies squarely in the old era, and like Alastair said, if I had known the amount of these games, I would probably have questioned the inclusion of some types from the very start.

If we leave out the matter of the quality of these games for a moment, we just don't have the user base to cover an area which is already covered fairly well by other sites. I would much rather see us expand on what we already have, track down authors, add descriptions etc.

I find it hard to exclude any games purely based on how they are created, because - as stated above - the cut-off point to how long it should take to write a "worthy" game becomes rather arbitrary. But it seems to me that there's a huge difference in quality between, say, IF Comp titles and the various Speed IF comp games. I don't care much for these one-joke games. As site owner, I have the final say in decisions pertaining to the site's direction, but as CASA has grown, an increasing part of its content is generated by others than me, and I can't really control what our users decide to submit to us. I can nix some of it and encourage other types of material, but I can't dictate what people send us.

Why are Speed-IF games an issue?
Can't people just ignore them if they don't care about them?
Well, for several reasons - in no particular order
1) They lessen the perceived value of the random game on the front page
2) They dilute the usefulness of the genre tags - if you click on "Archaeology" and a third of the games you find are in-jokey, one-room affairs, the genres aren't very helpful.
3) My personal take: There's quite a bit of behind the scenes work to adding and updating these games. CASA is and will remain a hobby for me which I have a limited amount of time for. So I'd prefer to spend that time on something which I feel heightens the quality of our database.

Where do we go from here?
1. Creating a separate site for competition games is not an option, for any number of reasons (technical, time, money, personal interest etc.)
2. Our user base is small. I want to make as many users as possible satisfied. Do proponents of the two camps have any suggestions where the issues stated above become less of an issue? Would it make sense and be technically possible to, say, filter off unwanted material from search results? Any other equally dim-witted suggestions?
3. I don't want the site to overextend itself. I can only strongly encourage that we focus on improving what we have rather than adding Russian mini-comp games and "Pirate kart", whatever that is. If we're going to add games, make it some of those that aren't found on the other major IF sites.
4. Let me re-iterate: our user base is small. I'd be sorry to see anyone leave because they don't like the direction the site is taking. The competition from Facebook groups and such is tough enough as it is.
5. I'll have to update the about section.
6. Personal note, as per issue #3 - I want this site, and working on it, to be enjoyable. The day someone decides to sponsor CASA and I can make it my full-time job, things will obviously be different. But as long as it's something I try to find the time for in between work & family obligations and other interests, I only have so many resources to pour into it.

User avatar
Strident
Posts: 90
Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Competition Entries etc. (split from "Genre Suggestions")

#20 Post by Strident » Mon Dec 03, 2018 3:12 pm

Interesting discussion. I've zero interest in the modern Inform stuff, mainly because I prefer text adventures to interactive fiction, but I can understand the appeal to others. It would be a shame if non-8/16-bit games drowned out the retro games, though.

CASA's strengths are certainly on the retro side. Other sites certainly don't do 8-bit or 16-bit text adventures anywhere near as good as CASA. There is so much mangled, incorrect and out of date information out there... on the so called "big" sites with large numbers of users. And also, just because another site seems to do something better it doesn't mean that they won't disappear in a puff of smoke overnight. That's happened far too often. Even sites like World of Spectrum have been in danger of closing down on a whim.

For me, CASA shines a light on the old adventures and shows that there were other games out there than Infocom and Scott Adams. It's been an invaluable resource for me when I've been playing, researching and writing about old games.

Mr Creosote
Posts: 929
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:23 am
Contact:

Re: Competition Entries etc. (split from "Genre Suggestions")

#21 Post by Mr Creosote » Mon Dec 03, 2018 8:18 pm

Jacob, you say you have to update the "about" section. Sorry, to what? I don't catch your decision. If there is indeed any. On (non-)inclusion of games? On how to organize the information present on the site? (Related, but distinct questions.)

(I'll spare everyone my usual rant about null statements like "just stating my opinion" or the misuse of 1980s marketing terms to negatively describe something perceived as different, the impossibility to draw a line etc. All well documented in other threads.)

User avatar
Gunness
Site Admin
Posts: 1776
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 7:04 pm
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Contact:

Re: Competition Entries etc. (split from "Genre Suggestions")

#22 Post by Gunness » Mon Dec 03, 2018 10:09 pm

Mr Creosote wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 8:18 pm
Jacob, you say you have to update the "about" section. Sorry, to what? I don't catch your decision.
To make the site goal less ambitious in scope. Other than that, and encouraging people to spend more time on expanding what's already here, nothing is set in stone. Hopefully a few more users will want to speak their mind (as one has already done).
And I'd like to ask people for suggestions as for how to make the inclusion of all types of games more manageable for everybody.

On the other hand I'm not sure what 1980s marketing term or your usual rant is in this context? I think the "drawing a line" bit has to do with the perception that allowing a few competition games will open the flood gates, but I'm honestly not sure.

Alastair
Posts: 746
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2005 12:21 am

Re: Competition Entries etc. (split from "Genre Suggestions")

#23 Post by Alastair » Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:25 pm

Gunness wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 1:16 pm
Would it make sense and be technically possible to, say, filter off unwanted material from search results? Any other equally dim-witted suggestions?
Why is an exclusion filter a dim-witted suggestion? You can already search for games without solutions.

If it is a question of a layout for the search page that is not over-cluttered, rather than a technical reason, then as a suggestion how about taking the design for the current page and adjusting it as follows?

Title: [ ]
First Letter: [any ][V] [+] exclude [none ][V] [+]
Language: [any ][V] [+] exclude [none ][V] [+]

etc.

where [ ] is an input box in which you type
[any ][V] and [none ][V] are input boxes where clicking on the down arrow [V] brings up a list
and clicking on the button [+] adds another input box for that particular search criterion

Mr Creosote
Posts: 929
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:23 am
Contact:

Re: Competition Entries etc. (split from "Genre Suggestions")

#24 Post by Mr Creosote » Tue Dec 04, 2018 6:52 am

"Interactive fiction" = marketing term used in the 1980s by infocom. So hardly an good term to distinguish something from the "classic age".

Drawing the line: if it is truly considered not to allow including some games, then there will be always equivalent ones.which make the decision appear inconsistent. To quote yourself, as example:
I don't see any easy way to "rule out" these games. Let's be honest - a lot of early BASIC games are a waste of time, too :) [...]

What fair criteria can I set up to disregard Speed IF titles, if other games are equally brief and bad and just have the good fortune of not being a part of a competition? And I do want to be fair :) I also don't want my personal taste dictating arbitrarily which games can stay and which games need to leave the room.
With any other distinguisher, it will be the same. Inform games? Sorry to spoil your party, but the majority of those are available in z-code format. So say goodbye to all infocom games, too. (Also, inform exists since the year legend entertainment still published text adventures commercially, so hard not to call it "classic" anyway.)

Year of release? Sure, easy rule. Say goodbye to the recently mentioned Hibernated and the Eway 10 games. Is that where you want to go?

Only 8/16 bit games (not even starting the discussion what that is supposed to be)? Sorry again, you'll still have "competition games" you hate so much: /game/id%2C4533/R+%28Pron%3A+Arrr...%29.html, /game/id%2C3860/Leadlight.html.

Any exclusion policy rule finally will make no sense. Sorry.

An exclusion filter on the search form is technically possible (as long as the subjective dislike can somehow be qualified in technical terms). In such a case, I would probably even advocate an extra "default filter" which each user can save in her profile and which is then automatically applied everywhere. Search results, game recommendations etc.

But as with "focussing contents": somebody will need to invest time and program it. A lot of pages and functions would need to be touched. Good luck finding somebody motivated to work on such a thing ;)

User avatar
Gunness
Site Admin
Posts: 1776
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 7:04 pm
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Contact:

Re: Competition Entries etc. (split from "Genre Suggestions")

#25 Post by Gunness » Tue Dec 04, 2018 8:59 am

Mr Creosote wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 6:52 am
"Interactive fiction" = marketing term used in the 1980s by infocom. So hardly an good term to distinguish something from the "classic age".
You know as well as I do that a lot of people like to distinguish between "text adventures" and "interactive fiction", no matter what the historical background of the terms are.
Mr Creosote wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 6:52 am
Drawing the line: if it is truly considered not to allow including some games, then there will be always equivalent ones.which make the decision appear inconsistent. To quote yourself, as example:
I don't see any easy way to "rule out" these games. Let's be honest - a lot of early BASIC games are a waste of time, too :) [...]

What fair criteria can I set up to disregard Speed IF titles, if other games are equally brief and bad and just have the good fortune of not being a part of a competition? And I do want to be fair :) I also don't want my personal taste dictating arbitrarily which games can stay and which games need to leave the room.
With any other distinguisher, it will be the same. Inform games? Sorry to spoil your party, but the majority of those are available in z-code format. So say goodbye to all infocom games, too. (Also, inform exists since the year legend entertainment still published text adventures commercially, so hard not to call it "classic" anyway.)

Year of release? Sure, easy rule. Say goodbye to the recently mentioned Hibernated. Is that where you want to go?
Uhm.... where did I talk about "not to allow including some games"? I specifically wrote that "I can only strongly encourage that we focus on improving what we have rather than adding Russian mini-comp games and "Pirate kart". This is a small community, and I (somewhat naively) believe that our users will get the message without me having to enforce various hardliner rules.

As for your other examples, what I take away from them are that any attempts to lay out guidelines or "soft rules" for what games we should cover are pretty much hopeless from the get-go? That no matter what criteria I set up, there's always a counter-example to prove me wrong? I'm not sure how that's going to help. I do know that "anything goes" is just not a viable approach. But it's not going to be easy.

That said, even though I can overrule other users and have it my way, CASA's development and content is driven by users. If the users are leaving, I can be as right and make as many decisions as I want; that won't generate any more activity or content. So I want to keep users in the loop.

As for the filtering process, yes, I know that it would be a large undertaking and therefore very unlikely to happen ;) I was merely trying to get the ideas flowing.

Mr Creosote
Posts: 929
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:23 am
Contact:

Re: Competition Entries etc. (split from "Genre Suggestions")

#26 Post by Mr Creosote » Wed Dec 05, 2018 9:01 am

You didn't write it. Others did.

It honours you that you consider how not to scare away users. But this goes both ways, too. After all, all those speed IF games were entered by someone. You can choose which death to die here.

Positive encouragement by suggesting where people could focus their energy will not be an issue. Negative encouragement ("consider whether this sort of thing is really important ") or even worse exclusionist rules will be.

Final side note: what bugs me so much about how this thread went is that it mashes everything and their dog together. One part seems to be about structuring information to make it ideally accessible. Atomicity of tags. Using them just for thematic genres or also mix in other information. These are important questions. But then, there is suddenly content challenges about so-called speed IF. I've made my negative opinion of that format known already in another thread. Nevertheless, I find the call to exclude or segregate quite naive, considering how many other games are in the database which probably also didn't take longer to write than three hours, but the author just didn't tell anyone about it. And then, it is suddenly about any game ever entered into any competition? Really? Any competition? When events like the classic Spring Thing (now significantly changed) brought us many long-form games which likely took months or years to make? Putting that all in one bowl with speed IF doesn't just show disinterest, but plain ignorance.

Saying "I'm not interested in these games" is fair enough. Regardless of the reason. Putting their worth to exist, to be played into question, I find offensive. That's not just "an opinion" anymore. Ever heard of "live and let live"?

Sudders
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 12:55 am

Re: Competition Entries etc. (split from "Genre Suggestions")

#27 Post by Sudders » Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:18 am

Ignorant and naive? I thought we were having a debate?

I apologise for not being a master of all the facts like you Mr Creosote, but I am just stating my position based upon what I have seen happening to the website.

I'm not saying my suggestions are the answer, I have already been convinced that some competition games have merit (Jacob actually showed me some reasonable examples) but I am still of the belief that flooding the database with games that little thought has gone into is just ruining a good thing.

Where you draw the line is a difficult issue, and may be impossible, but that is surely an important part the discussion we are having?

Remember that the website isn't designed to satisfy a small cadre of specialists, it is a resource for people who want to play adventures. The danger we have is that, like many clubs, is that that loudest voices make the rules, often to the detriment of the real target audience.

User avatar
Strident
Posts: 90
Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Competition Entries etc. (split from "Genre Suggestions")

#28 Post by Strident » Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:16 pm

I imagine that quite a lot of the longer adventures (some might say "proper" adventures, but I'm quite partial to small mini-games myself) that are entered for competition are created quite independently from the competition itself... Entering it for judging is just a way of highlighting a game and getting it noticed so people to play it. It would seem a little daft to exclude such a game just because the author had randomly popped it into a competition.

My personal preference would be for CASA to cover "classic adventures"... but we're never going to agree on what is a classic-style adventure, especially as a lot of old 8-bit & 16-bit adventures don't fit neatly in the "classic adventure" category! And, indeed, if I ever wrote anything in Z-code or for a competition I'd be the first person trying to enter it in the database! :)

It certainly seems worth discussing concerns about the perceived "bloat" on the site. An improved search facility would probably benefit everyone, no matter which side of the argument they sit, stand or straddle. But, as has been pointed out already, such fundamental updates to core site functionality involve a lot of work.

I'm just thankful of all the work people have put in already... everyone in this thread makes really valuable contributions to the site on a day to day basis. I'm constantly pointing people towards the pages in the database... it's the best way to share the key details about adventure games & game authors, as far as I'm concerned.

Mr Creosote
Posts: 929
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:23 am
Contact:

Re: Competition Entries etc. (split from "Genre Suggestions")

#29 Post by Mr Creosote » Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:34 pm

The danger we have is that, like many clubs, is that that loudest voices make the rules, often to the detriment of the real target audience.
Exactly.

Sudders
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 12:55 am

Re: Competition Entries etc. (split from "Genre Suggestions")

#30 Post by Sudders » Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:58 pm

Glad you agree Mr Creosote! So let's get on with debating what to do then! :D

Post Reply