The Mona Lisa saying, Rules.

IF Art Show 2009 Rules

The rules are just the same as the IF Art Show 2003, 2004, and 2007 rules, except for:
  1. Deadline - The 2007 deadline is Friday, May 18th, at midnight EDT
    (Eastern Daylight Savings Time -- four a.m. Saturday, May 19th GMT).

  2. Judges Panel - Eric Eve, Victor Gijsbers, Jon Ingold, Jacqueline Lott, Mike Roberts, and Adam J. Thornton

    Eric Eve: The Elysium Engima -- 3rd Place Annual Comp 2006; Getting Started in TADS 3, TADS 3 Tour Guide writer

    Victor Gijsbers: The Baron -- 1st place Spring Thing 2006; Fate -- 1st place Spring Thing 2007

    Jon Ingold: All Roads -- 1st place Annual Comp 2001; Till Death Makes a Monkfish Out of Me (w/Mike Sousa) -- 2nd place Annual Comp 2002; My Angel

    Jacqueline Lott: The Fire Tower -- Best of IF Art Show 2004; Intro Comp organizer

    Mike Roberts: Designer of T3, TADS, HtmlTADS; The Plant -- 3rd place Annual Comp 1998; Perdition's Flames

    Adam J. Thornton: Sins Against Mimesis; Stiffy Makane: The Undiscovered Country; In the End II

  3. Prizes:

    $50 - Best of Show  (one prize)
    $25 - Best of Category  (more than one prize possible)
    $15 - Honorable Mention  (one prize)

IF Art Show 2003 Rule Changes

Rules are almost the same as the IF Art Show 2001 Rules, with these exceptions:
  1. A new category has been added -- the event category.
  2. A foreign-language piece translated into English will be considered a new piece
    as far as English-speaking judges are concerned. Any judge who also speaks
    the original language and has seen the piece before, shall not vote on it.

IF Art Show 2007 Rules

IF Art Show 2003 (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.


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)
Best of Landscape (Scenery/Rooms)
Best of Portrait (NPCs)
Best of Event (Activity)
Also, to encourage newbies -- although these honors will not
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
Honorable Mention for Event


  1. MULTIMEDIA - 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.

    Suggestion: 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.

  2. ORIGINAL - All entries must be original works. Plagiarism is
    frowned on. However, pieces may be excerpts from works
    in progress that will be released at a later date.

  3. LENGTH - "Playable" in 45 minutes or less. Shorter is usually better.

  4. CATEGORY - To make your exploration of interactivity easier,
    choose one of the following:

    Still Life - Object
    Landscape - Scenery
    Portrait - NPC
    Event - Activity

    1. Style - 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.

    2. Number - 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
      for portraiture).

      Suggestion: To keep your entry short and your focus
      tight, it is best that supporting items be limited in
      number and "sketchy."

      Remember: 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.

    3. Event Category - The event category is a bit hard
      to escribe -- its closest art analogy is "performance art."
      Instead of focusing on the details of interacting with:
      objects, scenery, or npcs; your interactive focus should
      instead be on an activity. The player may be a participant
      in and/or an observer of this event. Examples of events:
      a wedding, fencing, dancing, swimming, a war, sculpting.

  5. 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, on the other hand, 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.

    1. Plot - No overriding, compelling, "world saving" goal that
      hurries players on, encouraging them to bypass

      1. Introduction - Minimal or optional; to set the stage
        and provide players with some motivation to explore.

      2. Middle - Experiential.

      3. Ending - Minimal or optional; a finish to give players

    2. Puzzles

      1. Stumpers - 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.

        Suggestion: 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.

      2. Scoring - Optional; a "task achieved" score, to give
        players an idea of when they have explored as much as

        Remember: 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.


  6. SHOW - 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

  7. DEADLINE - The deadline is Friday, April 25th, at midnight EDT
    (Eastern Daylight Savings Time -- four a.m. Saturday,
    April 26th GMT).

  8. DESTINATION - E-mail your entry in a zipped file to: You will also need to specify which
    category (Still-life, Landscape, Portrait, Event) you are entering.

  9. EXAMPLES - 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:

  1. 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.

  2. Do I need to use a pseudonym?

    You may use one, but anonymity is not required.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    Possible definitions:

    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.

  5. 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

    Remember: 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...

  6. 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..."

    Encyclopedia Britannica

    Remember: "Bad" art is still art.

  7. 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.

  8. What type of multimedia do they support and what platforms
    will they run on?

    (This section updated on March 6th 2003 with David Kinder's input.)

    Whether players can play a multimedia IF piece in multimedia
    mode depends on their platform and the interpreter they use.

    Html TADS supports PNG and JPEG graphic images,
    and MP3, WAV, and MIDI sound files. There are multimedia
    interpreters for Windows and Macintosh.

    Glulx supports PNG and JPEG graphics, and MOD and AIFF
    sound files. Although there are interpreters for several platforms,
    only the Windows, Macintosh, and Linux interpreters offer full
    multimedia capability.

    Hugo supports the same graphics and sounds as Glulx,
    and in addition, video clips. 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.

Mona Lisa Graphic by Gilles Duchesne (LoneCleric).
Corel clipart is used. Copyright © 2009 by Gilles Duchesne and Corel and its licensors. All rights reserved.
Copy and redistribution is prohibited.

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