Category Archives: Announcements

Awards voting, round 1

The first round of XYZZY Awards voting for the best interactive fiction of 2016 is open; the ballot is open to anyone with an interest in IF. You can go here to login, then here to vote; you use your IF Comp login (if you haven’t got one, or you’ve forgotten it, you can register or reset here.)

First-round voting will remain open through July 4, with the second round starting shortly thereafter.

As previously, in the first round you can nominate up to two works in each category. (You can’t nominate the same thing twice in the same category).

A polite reminder: you’re not allowed to vote for your own game, and canvassing for votes – for purposes here defined as ‘any action which results in a large number of people showing up specifically to vote for a particular game or slate of games’ – is strongly discouraged, and may result in votes being discarded.

Further Reading 2015

First-round XYZZY voting is very widely-distributed: in many categories, the votes are spread across forty or so different games, and which ones end up earning a finalist nomination is often a matter of just a vote or two. Watching the votes come in, it can be really sad to see a game that’s a competitor in several categories, but ends up barely missing out on all of them.

So, for the first time, here’s the Further Reading list, consisting of games which almost earned at least one finalist nomination, but barely missed out – the tier of games immediately beneath the finalists in each category. The category (or categories) in which this happened aren’t listed.

This shouldn’t be construed as a new tier of awards, a participation ribbon or anything of the sort; rather, it’s a footnote acknowledging that the year’s worthy or interesting IF does not begin and end at the XYZZY finalist list. Keeping all that in mind: the games.

ANDROMEDA 1983 (Marco Innocenti)
The Baker of Shireton (Hanon Ondricek)
Below (Chris Gardiner)
Beneath Floes (Kevin Snow, Pinnguaq)
Emily is Away (Kyle Seeley)
Ether (MathBrush)
False Mavis (Ted Casaubon)
Final Exam (Jack Whitham)
Feu du Joie (A. Johanna DeNiro)
The Island of Doctor Wooby (Ryan Veeder)
Scarlet Sails (Felicity Banks)
Six Gray Rats Crawl Up The Pillow (Caleb Wilson)
A Trial (B Minus Seven)
To Burn In Memory (Orihaus)
When The Land Goes Under the Water (Bruno Dias)

XYZZY Awards 2015 Results

The main event of the 2015 XYZZYs is complete for this year. And the winners are…

Best Game: Birdland (Brendan Patrick Hennessy)
Finalist: Brain Guzzlers from Beyond! (Steph Cherrywell)
Finalist: Hollywood Visionary (Aaron A. Reed)
Finalist: Midnight. Swordfight. (Chandler Groover)
Finalist: SPY INTRIGUE (furkle)

Best Writing: Birdland (Brendan Patrick Hennessy)
Finalist: Laid Off from the Synesthesia Factory (Katherine Morayati)
Finalist: Midnight. Swordfight. (Chandler Groover)
Finalist: SPY INTRIGUE (furkle)

Best Story: Birdland (Brendan Patrick Hennessy)
Finalist: Arcane Intern (Unpaid) (Astrid Dalmady)
Finalist: Cape (Bruno Dias)
Finalist: Map (Ade McT)

Best Setting: Sunless Sea (Failbetter Games)
Finalist: Beautiful Dreamer (S. Woodson)
Finalist: Chlorophyll (Steph Cherrywell)
Finalist: Neon Haze (Porpentine, Brenda Neotenomie)
Finalist: Sub Rosa (Joey Jones, Melvin Rangasamy)
Finalist: Summit (Phantom Williams)

Best Puzzles: Sub Rosa (Joey Jones, Melvin Rangasamy)
Finalist: Brain Guzzlers from Beyond! (Steph Cherrywell)
Finalist: Chlorophyll (Steph Cherrywell)
Finalist: Oppositely Opal (Buster Hudson)
Finalist: Scroll Thief (Daniel M. Stelzer)
Finalist: Toby’s Nose (Chandler Groover)

Best NPCs: Birdland (Brendan Patrick Hennessy)
Finalist: Brain Guzzlers from Beyond! (Steph Cherrywell)
Finalist: Hollywood Visionary (Aaron A. Reed)
Finalist: Midnight. Swordfight. (Chandler Groover)
Finalist: Nowhere Near Single (kaleidofish)

Best Individual Puzzle: Understanding how the RPS cannon works in Brain Guzzlers from Beyond! (Steph Cherrywell)
Finalist: Catching the fairy in Oppositely Opal (Buster Hudson)
Finalist: The Hard Puzzle in Hard Puzzle (Ade McT)
Finalist: Identifying the murderer in Toby’s Nose (Chandler Groover)
Finalist: The skull in Sub Rosa (Joey Jones, Melvin Rangasamy)

Best Individual NPC: Bell Park in Birdland (Brendan Patrick Hennessy)
Finalist: Dmitri in Midnight. Swordfight. (Chandler Groover)
Finalist: Hana in Hana Feels (Gavin Inglis)
Finalist: Winter Storm Draco in Winter Storm Draco (Ryan Veeder)

Best Individual PC: Bridget in Birdland (Brendan Patrick Hennessy)
Finalist: Martin Voigt in Darkiss! Wrath of the Vampire – Chapter 1: the Awakening (Marco Vallarino)
Finalist: Opal in Oppositely Opal (Buster Hudson)
Finalist: Toby in Toby’s Nose (Chandler Groover)

Best Implementation: Midnight. Swordfight. (Chandler Groover)
Finalist: Laid Off from the Synesthesia Factory (Katherine Morayati)

Best Use of Innovation: Laid Off from the Synesthesia Factory (Katherine Morayati)
Finalist: Aspel (Emily Short)
Finalist: Midnight. Swordfight. (Chandler Groover)
Finalist: SPY INTRIGUE (furkle)
Finalist: Sunless Sea (Failbetter Games)

Best Technological Development: Raconteur (Bruno Dias)

Best Use of Multimedia: Secret Agent Cinder (Emily Ryan)
Finalist: Sorcery! 3 (Steve Jackson, inkle)
Finalist: Summit (Phantom Williams)
Finalist: Sunless Sea (Failbetter Games)
Finalist: We Know the Devil (Aevee Bee)

Awards Ceremony 2015

The XYZZY Awards ceremony for 2015 will be held on the ifMUD on Saturday, May 28, at 8 AM Honolulu time – or, should you inhabit a slightly more populous slice of the planet, 11 AM US-Pacific, 2 PM US-Eastern, 7 PM UK. We hope you can join us as we announce the winners.

As promised, I’ve been looking into possible alternatives to ifMUD; in that process, it has become clear that running the ceremony smoothly takes a pretty specialised setup, one which is very difficult to replicate in any kind of plug-and-play chatroom. At this point, I’m not confident about running a ceremony successfully from any of the alternative platforms I’ve looked at, and I’d rather not delay the Awards any more. I’m still very conscious that ifMUD is a difficult environment for anybody who doesn’t frequent it regularly, and I’m hoping to have a viable alternative in place by next year – even if that means recruiting a volunteer willing to build a custom platform. In the meantime, we’ll be producing a ceremony-specific guide to navigating the MUD – we don’t pretend that this is a complete solution, but we hope that it’ll help for the time being.

Voting is closed and will remain so through this week.

2015 XYZZY Awards: final round

The finalist games of 2015 are out. Congratulations, all!

Voting in the second round is open now, and will remain so through May 14. (Edit: extended to the 20th.) Go, vote!

Best Game
Birdland (Brendan Patrick Hennessy)
Brain Guzzlers from Beyond! (Steph Cherrywell)
Hollywood Visionary (Aaron A. Reed)
Midnight. Swordfight. (Chandler Groover)
SPY INTRIGUE (furkle)

Best Writing
Birdland (Brendan Patrick Hennessy)
Laid Off from the Synesthesia Factory (Katherine Morayati)
Midnight. Swordfight. (Chandler Groover)
SPY INTRIGUE (furkle)

Best Story
Arcane Intern (Unpaid) (Astrid Dalmady)
Birdland (Brendan Patrick Hennessy)
Cape (Bruno Dias)
Map (Ade McT)

Best Setting
Beautiful Dreamer (S. Woodson)
Chlorophyll (Steph Cherrywell)
Neon Haze (Porpentine, Brenda Neotenomie)
Sub Rosa (Joey Jones, Melvin Rangasamy)
Summit (Phantom Williams)
Sunless Sea (Failbetter Games)

Best Puzzles
Brain Guzzlers from Beyond! (Steph Cherrywell)
Chlorophyll (Steph Cherrywell)
Oppositely Opal (Buster Hudson)
Scroll Thief (Daniel M. Stelzer)
Sub Rosa (Joey Jones, Melvin Rangasamy)
Toby’s Nose (Chandler Groover)

Best NPCs
Birdland (Brendan Patrick Hennessy)
Brain Guzzlers from Beyond! (Steph Cherrywell)
Hollywood Visionary (Aaron A. Reed)
Midnight. Swordfight. (Chandler Groover)
Nowhere Near Single (kaleidofish)

Best Individual Puzzle
Catching the fairy in Oppositely Opal (Buster Hudson)
The Hard Puzzle in Hard Puzzle (Ade McT)
Identifying the murderer in Toby’s Nose (Chandler Groover)
The skull in Sub Rosa (Joey Jones, Melvin Rangasamy)
Understanding how the RPS cannon works in Brain Guzzlers from Beyond! (Steph Cherrywell)

Best Individual NPC
Bell Park in Birdland (Brendan Patrick Hennessy)
Dmitri in Midnight. Swordfight. (Chandler Groover)
Hana in Hana Feels (Gavin Inglis)
Winter Storm Draco in Winter Storm Draco (Ryan Veeder)

Best Individual PC
Bridget in Birdland (Brendan Patrick Hennessy)
Martin Voigt in Darkiss! Wrath of the Vampire – Chapter 1: the Awakening (Marco Vallarino)
Opal in Oppositely Opal (Buster Hudson)
Toby in Toby’s Nose (Chandler Groover)

Best Implementation
Laid Off from the Synesthesia Factory (Katherine Morayati)
Midnight. Swordfight. (Chandler Groover)

Best Use of Innovation
Aspel (Emily Short)
Laid Off from the Synesthesia Factory (Katherine Morayati)
Midnight. Swordfight. (Chandler Groover)
SPY INTRIGUE (furkle)
Sunless Sea (Failbetter Games)

Best Technological Development
Raconteur

Best Use of Multimedia
Secret Agent Cinder (Emily Ryan)
Sorcery! 3 (Steve Jackson, inkle)
Summit (Phantom Williams)
Sunless Sea (Failbetter Games)
We Know the Devil (Aevee Bee)

XYZZY Awards 2015: first-round voting open

Voting is open on the first round of the XYZZY Awards. You can go here to login, then here to vote.

First-round voting will be open for the remainder of April, closing one minute past midnight on May 1 (US-Pacific time).

This year we’re adding an experiment to the first round: instead one nomination each category, you can now make two. You don’t have to nominate two games, but you can’t vote for the same game twice. The hope here is that this will lead to somewhat more balanced categories; the vote can be so spread out in the first round that there have often been many-way ties, leading to a second round where there are either way too many nominees, or way too few.

A polite reminder if your game is nominated: you’re not allowed to vote for your own game, and canvassing for votes – which for purposes here I’m going to define as ‘any action which results in a large number of people showing up specifically to vote for a particular game or slate of games’ – is strongly discouraged, and may result in votes being discarded.

A Change of Venue?

For many years, the winners of the XYZZY Awards have been announced on ifMUD. In a community that mostly exists online, there’s immense value in bringing people together into the same virtual space to celebrate the best work being done in the field. Festivals need a sense of event, and the ceremony is a big part of what makes the XYZZYs fun.

But ifMUD has its problems as a venue. First and foremost, as a piece of tech it was already outdated and eccentric back when I first joined the community fifteen years ago. That fit right in with the heart of the parser-IF ethos – that an artistic community centred around an outmoded, economically unviable form could remain vibrant, innovative and productive. But it also means that, by modern expectations, its UI can be kind of a pain in the ass for many people to learn.

Second, ifMUD is as much – or more – a social community than it is an interactive fiction enthusiasts’ forum. Many of the ifMUD regulars don’t maintain much of an active interest in interactive fiction any more – they’re there to chat with their friends. Because it was built by its users, ifMUD has been steadily customised so that it fits their needs very well indeed, both in terms of technical affordances and in terms of culture. But this inevitably means that there are a lot of people whom it doesn’t suit at all (which isn’t a slam on ifMUD’s culture: it’d be true of any established social circle). This has always been the case; there was never a time when the whole IF world consisted of MUD regulars. But it’s a lot more true now.

Back in the day, the interactive fiction community was rec.*.int-fiction, and ifMUD was its social wing; it was a natural choice. But the growth and speciation of interactive fiction over the past five years mean that there really is no central IF community any more; there’s no truly neutral space.

So on the whole, using the MUD for the XYZZYs feels sort of like holding the school play in the auditorium at the local Elks. That’s fine, if you live in a town small enough that the Elks is the only place with a suitable auditorium, but it’s still a tiny bit awkward to shuffle through the wood panels and past the bar-room and underneath the regrettable taxidermy, while the old boys who just wanted to have a quiet whiskey with their buddies semi-ignore you. If there are better places to hold the ceremony, we should take a really good look at them.

So the question is: is there a better venue? What would a better venue look like?

As a start, here are the features that are non-negotiable:

  • Text-based. We’re a text game community. Text is the water we swim in.
  • Easy to use. There’s no sense in moving away from the MUD for ease-of-access reasons if the new platform isn’t a substantial interface improvement. (That means no IRC, for instance.) That probably means something that’s natively browser-based, for a start.
  • Free access. The XYZZYs don’t have a budget, and we certainly don’t want anyone to have to pay to attend.
  • Unlimited attendees – and still allows for clear communication when there are lots of people in the room. (In practice, I suspect we’ll always have substantially less than 100 attendees, but in principle I don’t want anybody to be turned away.)
  • Moderation tools. If someone shows up and acts like a jerk, we need to be able to issue warnings or show them the door.
  • Channels, or something like them. A way to distinguish the main action of the ceremony – talk from the presenters and the people accepting awards – from applause and conversation among the audience. (It’s no fun showing up to a party unless you can chat with the folks you meet there – but if everybody’s at maximum volume, it’s chaos.)
  • Some of these need to be private, so that the organisers and presenters can coordinate.

Things that would be nice, but that we can allow some wiggle-room on:

  • A simulated, customisable environment. Part of the fun of the ceremony is the fiction of a shared physical space.
  • No advertising. Ideally, it’d be something that could be set up on a personal server (perhaps the one ifMUD currently runs on, even), so that we retain ownership over our own space rather than camping out on the sufferance of some corporation’s cloud.
  • Transcripting: the ability to record the ceremony. Honestly, I don’t know how necessary this is; the past couple of years I’ve kept transcripts of the ceremony in case anybody asks for them, and nobody has. The role of the XYZZYs as a form of public record is served by the actual award categories, their finalists and winners: recording the ceremony is a footnote.
  • A way to pin certain information – in particular, a list of the winners as they’re read out, because otherwise latecomers ask about it every five minutes. In the past couple of years, I’ve mostly shifted this role over to the Twitter account, but something built-in would be nice too.

Is there anything else that needs to be on that list? Are there any extant tools or spaces that would obviously fit the bill?

2014 Awards results

The winners of the 2014 XYZZY Awards have been announced. Congratulations to all our winners, and many thanks to the many people who make the XYZZY Awards possible. I’ll be taking a short break before getting to work recruiting post-XYZZY analysis writers.

Without further ado, the results!

Best Game: 80 Days (inkle, Meg Jayanth)

Best Writing: With Those We Love Alive (Porpentine, Brenda Neotenomie)

Best Story: 80 Days (inkle, Meg Jayanth)

Best Setting: Hadean Lands (Andrew Plotkin)

Best Puzzles: Hadean Lands (Andrew Plotkin)

Best NPCs: Creatures Such As We (Lynnea Glasser)

Best Individual Puzzle: the sequence of time-travel in Fifteen Minutes (Ade McT)

Best Individual NPC: the Empress in With Those We Love Alive (Porpentine, Brenda Neotenomie)

Best Individual PC: the PC in the uncle who works for nintendo (michael lutz)

Best Implementation: Hadean Lands (Andrew Plotkin)

Best Use of Innovation: Hadean Lands (Andrew Plotkin)

Best Technological Development: Twine 2 and Inform 7 6L02 (tie)

Best Use of Multimedia: 80 Days (inkle, Meg Jayanth)