Welcome to IntroComp 2021!
IntroComp is an annual competition where participants develop excerpts of interactive fiction, gain feedback from audience reactions, and use this feedback to release a fantastic final product. Xalavier Nelson Jr. (@WritNelson) is hosting the event with the assistance of the IFTF, IFComp, former organizer Jacqueline Ashwell, and the incomparable Dan Shiovitz.
How does it work?
Entrants must submit an excerpt of a new, never before seen work of interactive fiction that is not yet complete. This excerpt can be a short or as long as the developer wishes, as long as 1) the submission is a working, playable game and 2) interactive fiction/nonfiction.
What section of the game you choose to share in the competition is up to you. Beginning? Middle? The exciting, incredible ending you can't figure out how to lead up to? All perfectly valid entries.
Projects submitted must not be intended/promoted as a prelude to a commercial release. IntroComp is an opportunity to build an audience for your work, gather feedback, and improve as a creator - not to promote a Kickstarter, for example.
What is Interactive Fiction/Nonfiction?
We define Interactive Fiction as including any title where written narrative is the core of the experience. However this narrative is communicated, written storytelling needs to be the primary focus of your IntroComp game. Same goes for game mechanics. As long as the written word is the core of your title, feel free to wrap it in any glorious layer you can imagine - from clicking on Twine entries, to pressing continue in a visual novel, to typing into a parser, and beyond.
Once the competition is over, we screen all the feedback submitted about your game (to prevent abuse) and send it your way. Want direct, polite feedback on how you might improve an aspect of your game? Worried about how an experimental portion of your title might be received? Want to know whether folks would even want to pursue your story to its end? IntroComp is a welcoming environment to address all of these concerns and more.
If you finish your game within a year of the competition's close (and tell us), you might also be eligible to win a cash prize.
Speaking of PRIZES —
How to Enter
— We aren't talking about prizes yet. To enter, you need to submit an intent to enter. We accept intents to enter through the end of June. If you submit an intent to enter by the end of June you will have until the end of July to write, test, polish, test, polish again (etc.), and upload your excerpt.
Please be sure you've cruised the rules (even if you've done so before) prior to submitting your game.
When you're ready, login to IntroComp to submit your intent to enter! From there, you can also upload and manage your excerpt. Happy IntroComping! We're a verb now.
This Year's Schedule
Prizes / Terms & Conditions
1st Place: $200 2nd Place: $150 3rd Place: $100 Honorable: $ 50
Placement is determined by player votes during the voting period - the game ranking highest-overall receiving first place, and so on. All prizes valued in US funds, minus any currency conversion fee that might be required. Void where prohibited by law. Do not remove this tag from your mattress, some assembly may be required, etc.
To win, you not only have to state your intention to enter, and submit your game by the deadline, but finish it within a year of the competition (by September 15, 2022) as well. You also have to let us know that you finished said game - we're not omniscient (yet). If you complete your game outside of the deadline, we will still be thrilled to SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS WITH YOU, but it is unfortunately no longer eligible for a cash prize.
For those wondering what 'Honorable' means: anyone who took the time to submit their game, but didn't place in the top-three entries, falls into this category. We really want to encourage folks to finish their games, so the first Honorable project to be released in a complete form will be granted the $50 Honorable prize, provided the title isn't buggy or just sort of slapped together. We're paying for all of these prizes out of pocket, so we reserve the right to personally determine whether the 'completeness' of an entry is adequate. No questions asked. No complaining.
Submit your finished, polished product in the spirit of the competition, and if eligible, whatever category you may fall within, the money is yours.
Voting & Judging Rules
Voters will be asked to vote with a rating reflecting how much they'd like to see the game in question finished. Voters will also be asked to submit anonymous feedback with at least one positive thought and one constructive criticism for each title voted upon. This feedback will be held, screened, and distributed to authors immediately following the conclusion of the competition. Meaningful feedback has always been considered the true prize of IntroComp, and we aim to keep it that way.
It goes without saying that we also hope all votes/feedback submitted are in good faith and on the individual excerpt's merit, versus as a show of support for a particular author, genre, or framework.
All official IntroComp correspondence will be conducted through email (though quick questions may be asked through Twitter — we're @IFIntroComp). If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, email us at:
WHO IS THIS XALAVIER NELSON JR. GUY? CAN WE TRUST HIM? IS HE WELL? Xalavier Nelson Jr. is the creator of strange things like An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs, a narrative director for games like SkateBIRD, passionate about interactive fiction, and writing this over-long sentence in third-person! As for the other two questions: 1) He ran IntroComp for the past three years, so I should hope so. 2) See 1.
HOW LONG/SHORT SHOULD AN INTROCOMP ENTRY BE? IntroComp doesn't have any particular length requirements. You could submit a hefty portion of your game, or a title screen alone. Just keep in mind the time voters may (fairly or not) take to judge your work as a result.
I ALREADY HAVE A WORK IN PROGRESS - IT'S EVEN HAD SOME BETA TESTING! CAN I STILL SUBMIT AN INTENT TO ENTER? Some people actually plan/develop their excerpts far in advance of the competition. As long as your game hasn't been released publicly in any form prior to IntroComp, you should be good to go!
WHAT LANGUAGE CAN I USE? ON WHICH PLATFORMS CAN ENTRIES BE RELEASED? CAN I RELEASE A GAME THAT ONLY RUNS ONLINE? Since you asked so many questions at once, we'll break our answer into three parts: 1) Any language you wish! However, it is worth mentioning that the majority of IntroComp's audience speaks English. 2) Can this platform for your interactive fiction be used by a human/three-dimensional being? Then feel free to release your title on it. Just remember to provide instructions/requirements for play - especially if you're releasing on a platform that is somewhat atypical. 3) Sure!
WHAT'S TO STOP ME FROM JUST ADDING "AND THEN THEY ALL DIED — THE END!" TO MY ENTRY AND THEN CLAIMING MY PRIZE? BWAHAHAHA! In the darkest recesses of your eyelids, just beyond the edge of your blackened vision, there is a Beast. It has no name. It has no needs. It has only a purpose.
It will find you, and deal with you accordingly.
...oooooor you could just act in the spirit of the competition! That sounds like a cool idea. Yeah. Let's do that.
WHEN I FINISH WRITING MY GAME, CAN I SUBMIT IT TO IFCOMP? Unfortunately, IF Comp's similar "no prior release" rule makes taking this route impossible. However, you still might be able to enter other competitions - check with each comp organizer as appropriate!
CAN I SUBMIT MORE THAN ONE ENTRY? You can submit as many entries as you wish (keep it reasonable, please), but only the highest-ranked title will be eligible for any cash prizes. If you want to know which of your narrative ideas is most enticing to a wider audience, IntroComp is a great way to find out.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY 'A NEVER BEFORE SEEN WORK OF INTERACTIVE FICTION THAT IS NOT YET COMPLETE?' We mean exactly that. If you chop off a portion of your complete game, submit it to IntroComp to see how it performs, and immediately compile the final build after the competition, it goes against the entire spirit of the thing. We would hope, as the rules state, that your excerpt be reasonably polished, and the project itself was incomplete as of entry. IntroComp is about seeing whether a given narrative is well-received before investing the time to finish it. So, ideally, your interactive fiction is in a state where the feedback you receive can be directly used to guide it to completion.
CAN INTROCOMP ENTRIES LATER BE CONVERTED INTO COMMERCIAL RELEASES? We basically don't want IntroComp to act as a platform for advertising or crowdfunding. If you find yourself (and your players!) interested enough in your game that you want to take the steps necessary to develop it into a finished, commercial project, then we welcome that ambition. Whether you've been an author for some time, or this is the first time you've shown your writing to the public, we want you to complete games and find success - commercial or no!
However, if you come into IntroComp looking to sell something (or sell something very soon), then this isn't the event for you.
WHAT ABOUT "SEASONED" AUTHORS? CAN THEY ENTER? DO THEY HAVE TO DO SOMETHING EXPERIMENTAL OR VERY NEW (TO THEM) TO ENTER? IntroComp is an ideal environment for releasing experimental ideas and seeing how a community interacts with them. Whether you're new to the interactive fiction community, or a 'seasoned' author, your entry is welcome here.
YOU KEEP GOING ON ABOUT HOW YOU FOOT THE BILL ON PRIZES; CAN I MAKE A DONATION? Keeping any funding concerns in-house means we can stay accountable to our internal processes instead of the entire internet. It also just keeps things from getting really complicated, really fast.
WHY DO YOU ONLY REVEAL THE RANKING OF THE TOP THREE GAMES? I WANT TO KNOW HOW WELL I REALLY DID! As neat as statistics may be, to encourage a more welcoming, inclusive, beginner-friendly environment, we only list the ranking of the top three games. The real prize here is feedback, after all. So, if folks really like your entry, you probably ended up in the top-three. If not, you now have some actionable feedback you can use to improve your projects in the future. Everyone wins!
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I THINK ONE OR MORE OF THESE RULES IS REALLY ASININE?! Reach deep, deep inside of yourself for the strength to go on, knowing someone on the internet is wrong. And email us! Our email is interactive.fiction.introcomp at gmail.com — as sardonic as some of these responses may sound, we do take all of the feedback we receive seriously.
I'M YELLING! Yes you are!
I. HAVE. MORE. QUESTIONS. If the absolute glut of information found on this site still leaves you with questions, feel free to ping us on Twitter (we're IFIntroComp) or email us at interactive.fiction.introcomp at gmail.com!