A Scoring System For Interactive Fiction
In the past I haven't implemented any kind of rigid scoring system (like
the 2002 and 2003 comps). While it helps keep reviews short, it also
means I sometimes meander in my writing or forget certain aspects of the
game that should really have been mentioned. Plus I think this new system
will help prevent me from focusing too much on only the bad aspects of
games that I play.
I considered Jess Knoch's WABE scoring
system, but I felt that I didn't see the need to separate Appeal and
Entertainment. So here's the system I'll be using: The "WTF" scoring
system. Catchy, no? It stands for Writing, Technical aspect, and Fun.
11/15/04 Revision: I have removed the individual scoring for each
category. Why? In my process of judging, I realized that it just
didn't make sense. Each game needs to be judged as a whole, and having
separate ratings for each thing and then averaging them simply did not
give me the results I felt were warranted. Mostly, the "Technical"
aspect just didn't fit. You can have a great game that doesn't do
anything brilliant from a technical standpoint, but it's solidly built.
What Technical score would that earn? What does a Technical 10 really
mean? Instead, each of the 3 topics will be used for me to reflect on
that aspect of the game. The final score will be for my impression of
the game as a whole. High point and low point will follow.
Every review will include the following elements:
- A summary of my overall impression of the game with some (hopefully)
non-spoiler info on its setting and plot.
- This is pretty straightforward. A big part of interactive fiction
is reading. The quality of prose and appropriateness of text length.
Also rates spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization. Story and
dialog also fall under this category. Also important: motivation. This
is ignored or glossed over far too often by authors and will figure
prominently in the writing section.
- Technical aspect
- You don't just read interactive fiction, you have to play it as
well. This is why the technical aspect is important. A high-rated game
here would be almost completely free of bugs. It would include copious
amounts of verb and noun synonyms, implement (or at the very least,
understand and respond to) reasonable actions, and practice intelligent
disambiguation. Multiple solutions to puzzles wouldn't hurt either.
- Even with good writing and coding, how can a game be enjoyable if
it's just not fun? I suppose this can be considered a catch-all for
everything else that doesn't fit into the first two categories. Does
the game draw me in? Is the experience immersive? If there are
puzzles, are they well constructed and do their solutions make sense?
- Final score
- Overall impression of the game on a scale of 1 to 10. This is no
longer an average of the three categories; it is a stand-alone rating.
- High point
- This is where I quote or recap what I felt was the high point of my
game experience. If at all possible, there should be a high point for
every game so I can express to the author what I think really worked.
- Low point
- And, conversely, this is where I mention what part of the game
really didn't work out as planned or was simply a bad idea.