IF Comp is here! The biggest outpouring of interactive fiction all year, and a ton of people writing about it. I’m going to try to write reviews of the comp pieces this year, so here’s an initial preamble inspired by Bruno Dias and Cat Manning before I put down my initial impressions of the blurbs for posterity.
I won’t review everything in the comp, partly because I don’t have the time and energy, and partly because a couple of games contain subject matter that I’m not the target audience for.
I am not a professional reviewer, nor do I think reviewers (professional or otherwise) have a duty or ability to be unbiased. My plan is to show my impressions, my preferences, and my recommendations to players based on such. Where I make recommendations, recommendations with caveats, or negative comments, I’ll do my best to illustrate why.
I am a social creature, and have friendly chats with many of the authors of this year’s entries. That said…
I am reviewing the games, not the authors. If you feel I’ve made a personal attack on you, please get in touch, but my aim isn’t to be snarky or tear anyone down.
With all that in mind, on with the blurb-judging! To summarise if you don’t have time to read the reams below:
- Please make sure title and author text are clearly visible on cover art. There are a lot of games where you can barely see the title, which spoils the cover rather.
- Please don’t be self-effacing in blurbs. It turns me off the game right away.
- Less is often more. A strong few sentences that say a lot about a protagonist, setting or dilemma can be more effective than overloading the reader with ingame lore, especially for an SFF game.
- …That said, sometimes it can be too minimal. I want to know what gives the game its spark, vim and vigour. If the art can coordinate with the blurb content to reinforce tone, that’s all to the good.
- I’m genuinely impressed with the blurbs: although some appeal more than others, I can for the most part see their appeal for other players.
- To make me instantly want to play something, set it in a desert because I am all over that.