Posted by: Ben | October 5, 2008

if: The Lighthouse

(videogame. Z-code. xyzzyman. Interactive Fiction Competition 2008.)

The best thing about the IF Competition is that players are allowed to comment on the games but authors aren’t, which means that I can come out with all kinds of prejudiced, borderline-libellous trollery about your game while you bite your tongue for fear of being disqualified. More after the jump.

When you look at any list – say the results of the IF comp for – let’s pick a random year – 2003 – your gaze is naturally drawn to two entries in particular. The winner – in our sample year that would be Slouching Towards Bedlam, and a fine piece of work it is. And the loser – Rape, Pillage, Galore! by Kristian Kirsfeldt. But nobody remembers what came second.

There’s a certain honour in coming last. Everyone loves a lovable loser. Remember Eric “The Eel” Moussambani? I thought The Lighthouse might have been a craven lunge for the wooden spoon, but it turned out to be a harmless little game about a lighthouse.

Rape, Pillage, Galore! on the other hand is fab. If that was the worst of the lot, then every other game in 2003’s IF comp must have been a nailed-on classic such as would have walked 2008 hands down. It’s true what they say, our society really is deteriorating rapidly. In twenty years time there will probably be no-one left who can even spell “examine”. It’s all text-speak, X this and I that.

And to anyone really wanting to come last, I suspect you would have to get up earlier in the morning than the author of The Lighthouse. You’d have to release a game with “Rape” in the title, or code in a bug that makes your game unwinnable. Enter three games, each worse than the last. Put a virus in your game and post on IF forums that “if your computer gets a virus due to playing my game, don’t blame me!”

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