IF Art Show 2001 Rules
IF Art Show 2001 (Juried)
(or How to Build a Better Mouse Trap)
You have entered a hushed art gallery with pale walls and subdued
lighting, except for bright spotlights aimed at pictures and various
pedestals around the room. At first the raised displays look like
ordinary sculpture, until you notice the intriguing "Flash Gordon" ray
gun in the center. As you glimpse flashing lights and hear rustling,
you discover even more unusual forms: a Cubist futuristic booth
and what appears to be an outdoor setting, complete with storm
clouds rolling over wind-tossed trees. But it is only when you spot
the burly man in the flannel shirt chopping wood that you fully realize
that this is sculpture unlike any you have imagined before.
These 3-dimensional displays are IF sculptures, modeled with text.
To explore the I in IF, the Interactivity of Interactive-Fiction
(without the obscuring framework of too much structure). To run one's
hands over an "IF sculpture". TO EXPERIENCE INTERACTIVITY AS
A MEDIUM. This explorative venture is intended to be two-way: for
you to explore the various interactive techniques you can use to involve
players, and for players to interactively explore your piece in turn.
See the following Q&A for more on interactivity.
This is a juried show. Juried shows are judged BEFORE the entries
are shown to the public.
Kathleen Fischer (Masquerade, The Cove), Stephen Granade (Arrival,
Losing Your Grip), Jon Ingold (My Angel, Mulldoon's Legacy),
Mike Roberts (TADS, The Plant), Dan Schmidt (For A
Lucian P. Smith (Edifice).
Only the top four (possibly eight) places are awarded. All other
entries are not ranked, but are put on display.
Best of Show
Any category for which there are three or more entries will also
have a best of category award. Or these honors may be awarded
depending on the total number of entries (the more entries --
the more awards).
Best of Still Life (Objects)
Also, to encourage newbies -- although these honors will not
Best of Landscape (Scenery/Rooms)
Best of Portrait (NPCs)
necessarily be presented exclusively to newbies -- if there are
enough entries, honorable mentions will also be awarded.
Honorable Mention for Show
Honorable Mention for Still Life
Honorable Mention for Landscape
Honorable Mention for Portrait
- Multimedia is now *allowed*, even
encouraged. However, it is not required, because: 1.) not all IF
authoring systems offer it; 2.) not all platforms support
the various graphic & sound capabilities of the IF systems
which do offer it; and 3.) "text modeling" is an art form.
If using multimedia, make sure your entry can
stand alone without it, because judges with incompatible
platforms may play it without graphics and/or sounds. This can
be accomplished either by employing programming switches, or
by providing two copies -- one with multimedia, one without.
It is also recommended that you avoid static multimedia
objects. For example, an object represented by just a picture
might be considered static. Objects represented by graphics
and/or sounds should also usually have accompanying textural
interactivity -- not only to fulfill this show's purpose --
but for the same incompatibility reason mentioned above.
See the following Q&A for more about multimedia IF.
- All entries must be original works. Plagiarism is
frowned on. Pieces may be excerpts from works in progress that
will be released at a later date.
- "Playable" in 45 minutes or less. Shorter is usually
- To make your exploration of interactivity easier,
choose one of the following:
Still Life - Object
Landscape - Scenery
Portrait - NPC
- The presentation of your selection may be:
realistic, impressionistic, expressionistic, surreal,
etc. The style is up to you -- your entry need not be
experimental, only experiential.
- There is no maximum on the number of items
per category (i.e. Still Life objects), but fewer is better.
Other types of items (inventory objects, stationary
objects, and locations) may be used to support your
selection (except for interactive NPCs, which are solely
To keep your entry short and your focus
tight, it is best that supporting items be limited in
number and "sketchy."
Judges will focus on how you explore and
present your choice, not on the "background." So you will do
yourself a favor if you avoid wasting time on extra items.
An excellent entry might have none at all.
PEDESTAL OR FRAME
- To isolate your piece on a pedestal
and/or put it into an artistic "frame", feature a minimal plot with a
restrained use of puzzles.
This has often been the least-understood part of the IF Art
Show. Entries are not intended to be "full-blown games", but
more vignettes -- exploring interactivity in greater depth by
narrowing the focus to one type of IF/artistic subject matter.
A heavy plot could divert players' attention to the writing
(the F in Interactive Fiction), and might also make a piece
more static. While tricky puzzles, even if highly interactive,
wouldn't really EXPLORE interactivity -- as that is the form
that we are all already familiar with. Convoluted puzzles can
also function as "stoppers", halting players' exploration.
The following guidelines are offered for clarification.
- No overriding, compelling, "world saving" goal that
hurries players on, encouraging them to bypass
- Minimal or optional; to set the stage
and provide players with some motivation to explore.
- Minimal or optional; a finish to give players
>>> STUMPING PLAYERS IS NOT THE GOAL.
- Absolutely no "brain twisters". If players
need to figure out an object/conversation, guide them
to the appropriate action/topic with subtle hints (not
too subtle) in descriptions/responses.
Make complicated/very complicated puzzles
optional, so players need not solve them to finish. Or
provide a graceful exit (other than quit) in case they
are unable to finish.
- Optional; a "task achieved" score, to give
players an idea of when they have explored as much as
The entry with the cleverest puzzle(s) will not
be an automatic winner, as judges will be looking for a
complete exploration of interactivity. For instance, a
realistic piece should probably implement a fair number of
verbs in order to avoid too many standard library responses.
ENCOURAGING EXPLORATION IS. <<<
- All entries will be displayed at the IF Art Gallery for
a two-week show. Afterward, they along with the judges'
reviews, will be uploaded to gmd.de.
- The deadline is Friday, April 6th, at midnight EDT
(Eastern Daylight Savings Time -- four a.m. Saturday,
April 7th GMT).
- E-mail your entry in a zipped file to:
firstname.lastname@example.org. You will also need to specify which
category (Still-life, Landscape, Portrait) you are entering.
- Past entries function as IF Art examples. To
see how others have previously defined "IF Art", read more
about the concept, and peruse past judges' reviews, visit:
Is this IF Art?
Any piece that fits into the above parameters is IF Art. There
is no one "set" way to do it or view it. Note that no entries
are rejected. Those not meeting the above guidelines may not
win, but they will not be rejected and will be put on display.
Do I need to use a pseudonym?
You may use one, but anonymity is not required.
Who should enter?
I, personally, hope experienced IF writers enter because I
think this is a different, freeing approach to writing IF.
But newbies, and those who feel they will never write a
full-blown game because of the necessity of having to create
a plot and/or clever puzzles, are especially encouraged to
enter. To help us all explore the IF medium.
What is interactivity?
Exploring that question is the purpose of the IF Art Show. We
do not all necessarily define interactivity the same. Someone
else might define interactivity as simply being puzzles,
placed by the author to control plot development. I might
define it as simulated sensory feedback that helps me feel
I really *experience* a piece of IF.
3-dimensionality; experiential aspect; simulation or virtual
reality capability; tangibility; both descriptive and
responsive depth; effectively communicated sensory feedback
(kinetic/auditory/visual, etc.); opportunities for players to
act; player-instigated actions that appear to change the
"game world"; and/or feedback in response to a players'
actions that increases their knowledge of themselves as
the protagonists and/or of the game world
If you are still totally confused by the IF Art Show, visit
An Iffy Theory:
Does this mean that an entry has to have a wealth of detail?
Yes, and no. As stated, if you are doing a realistic piece,
it is a good idea to implement a fair number of verbs in
order to avoid too many standard library responses.
On the other hand, you could explore forms of interactivity
other than verbs and responses to verbs. Or your piece
could be expressionistic, which could mean it doesn't
need a great deal of realistic interactivity to be effective
Like all art, the main thing an entry ought to
be is experiential -- but how this is achieved is up to you.
New IF Art Show entrants are directed to look at these
past entries as examples of some non-complex but still
artful ways of exploring IF's interactivity/experientiality:
Pillow, Statue, Wheel, The Guitar of the Immortal Bard,
The Visitor, and Words Get...
Then... what is art?
"The use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic
objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with
others. The term art may also designate one of a number of
modes of expression conventionally categorized by the medium
utilized or the form of the product; thus we speak of
painting, sculpture, film making, music, dance, literature,
and many other modes of aesthetic expression as arts and of
all of them collectively as the arts. The term art may further
be employed in order to distinguish a particular object,
environment, or experience as an instance of aesthetic
expression, allowing us to say, for example, that a drawing or
tapestry is art..."
"Bad" art is still art.
What IF authoring systems support multimedia?
Html TADS, Glulx (Inform Glk), and Hugo Glk. There may be some
MS-DOS IF systems that support it, but I am not aware of them.
What type of multimedia do they support and what platforms
will they run on?
Whether players can play a multimedia IF piece in multimedia
mode depends on their platform and the interpreter they use.
Html (&Hyper) TADS
supports PNG and JPEG graphic images, and
MP3, WAV, and MIDI sound files. There are multimedia
interpreters for Windows and Macintosh.
supports PNG and JPEG graphics, and MOD and AIFF sound
files. Although there are interpreters for several platforms,
only the Windows and Macintosh interpreters offer full
(This is my chart of Glulx multimedia as it is supported by
supports the same graphics and sounds as Glulx.
A full multimedia interpreter is available for Windows.
All these multimedia IF systems also support hyperlinks.
Note that these multimedia interpreters will usually default
to text-only if players are unable to run them in multimedia
mode (although you may have to program for that contingency.)
Thank you to Ross Presser for his suggestion about a "graceful
exit", and Volker Blasius for contributing a definition of art.
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