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See also CompXXIF Comp works

Competition [Year-Name] a.k.a. CompXX was an interactive guide for The Annual IF Competition. Although presented in the style of a game, it was actually a front-end offered to competition judges as a tool to help with the judging process.

Author(s) Lucian Smith
Publisher(s) n/a
Release date(s) 1997–2012
Authoring system Inform 6
Platform(s) Z-code
Language(s) English
License(s) Freeware
Color effects none
Graphics none
Sound/Music none
Cruelty scale Merciful

How It Begins (And How To Use It)

You might be anyone, carrying nothing, standing in the competition headquarters. You see three bins: marked "Unsorted" (which contains all the games), "Playable" (empty), and "Unplayable" (also empty). You also see a post-it note of instructions and several controls: a switch rack of switches (one per game system), a lever (switched off), and a Big Red Button Which, If You Push If, Will Make You Do Everything You Do Everything You Need To Do Automatically.

If you are able and willing to play every game offered, just push the Big Red Button.

Or examine and move the games as you like so all the games are in either the Playable or Unplayable bins. Then pull the lever. The games in the playable bin will be randomly shuffled and moved into a game rack. (The game rack replaces the switch rack.) CompXX will attempt to make printable files that list the games in rack, and a saved copy of your session.

Finally, you can rate the games. CompXX will be able to remember your list and your ratings if you save your session after rating a game, and restore when you reopen CompXX.

Notable Features

Competition judges could use CompXX for the following tasks:

  • Browse the games by title. Game listings include the author's name (or pseudonym), the game system, the file name(s), the URL where the game can be found in the IF Archive, a short note from the author, and whether the judge has rated the game yet, and if so, with what value.
  • Select which games to play. The judge may opt to move the games manually, or use the switches on the switch rack to move a set of games by game system.
  • Randomly sort the games to play. By letting the program sort the games, and by playing them in the suggested order, the judge can reduce the effect of their personal biases during the judging process.
  • Create printable game listings. CompXX will try to do this twice, both as a new file, and also as a transcript. The judge can then print or edit these copies of the game list.
  • Get information on the various game systems. Do this by examining the switches on the switch rack.
  • Rate the games. CompXX can be used by a judge as a "scratchpad" to record votes.

Other features:

  • Able to parse the names of every entry in the competition, including more difficult characters. Examples: [Examples go here]
  • Help menus that tell you more about the utility, the competition rules, and results from past years.
  • The xyzzy magic word:
    • Joke message in 1997 and 1998: "You are magically transported to the only room in this game!"
    • In 1999, "xyzzy" takes you back in time, replacing the 1999 games with those from 1998. The help menus also change, and include the prize list and results from IF Comp 1998. Repeated uses of "xyzzy" takes you to IF Comp 1997, then 1996, 1995, 2006 (yes, games from the then-future!, see below), then back to 1999 again.
    • In 2000 and 2001, "xyzzy" still takes you back in time to the previous years, but there's no future set of games.
    • In 2002, "xyzzy" no longer changes years, but results of past comps are still listed in the help menus. The original joke message was restored along with a suggestion to type "info" to see past results. This usage of "xyzzy" has continued in all subsequent years.

Trivia and Comments

  • CompXX was included as an official part of the IF Comp distribution from 1997 to 2004. (The 1996 version was a proof-of-concept demo.) It was dropped from official status in 2005 to reduce the waiting time before the competition's game packages could be released after the submission deadline. (Adding last minute changes and debugging was taking too long.) CompXX was then made available independently until 2012.
  • For many years, CompXX was always compiled with the same version of the Inform, Inform v6.15, to ensure that assumptions about the system's capabilities hadn't changed.

Fictional Entries for IF Comp 2006

As claimed by Competition '99 via xyzzy:

  • Claim Jumpin'!: An Interactive Prospecting (Matthew Amster-Burton; Z-code 5).
  • Countdown (Stephen Granade; TADS).
  • The Fandom Menace (L. Fitzgerald Sjöberg; Z-code 5).
  • The Game That Will Win This Competition: an Interactive Opinion-Maker (RAIF-POOL; RAIF-POOL).
  • Going Outside: An Interactive Crossing the Street (Andrew Plotkin Jr.; AGT).
  • The Highwayman: An Interactive Waylaying (David Dyte and Lucian Smith; Z-code 5).
  • I, Poot (Laura Mixon; Erasmatron).
  • Iilow: An Interactive Smelling. (Magnus Olsson; TADS).
  • The Meteor, the Stone, and the Space Car that Folds Up Into a Briefcase: an Interactive Reprisal For Tempest's Low Score (Graham Nelson; Z-code 5).
  • My Closet (Julia Thoenig; Z-code 5).
  • Night and Day (Joanne Woodwright; TADS).
  • Palace of the Sex Kittens: An Interactive Frisking (Nolan Gresham; Z-code 9). "Nolan Gresham" is an anagram of Graham Nelson.
  • Smoke: A Ninja Adventure (JamesG; Z-code 5).
  • So Far Beyond Zork It's Not Funny Any More: an Interactive Trademark Milking (publisher: Activision; Z-code 5). Whizzard is named as the (former) VP of the Adventure division.
  • Space Destroyer Alpha: an Interactive Race Across the Galaxy (Jordan Knight; Z-code 5).
  • Starburst: One of Many (Penelope Sands; TADS).
  • Stiffy Makane: Hyperspace Edition (Big Richard; AGT). See Stiffy Makane.
  • VILE ZERO ERRORS FROM HELL (Adam Thornton; Z-code 5). See Vile zero error from hell.
  • The Whole Truth: A Multi-perspective Courtroom Drama (Julian Arnold; Hugo).
  • Y2K: an Interactive Deadline (Simon Castaway; Z-code 5).

(Many of these titles previously appeared in Dave Coleman-Reese's 1998 reviews of Comp99 games.)


IF Comp 1996 demo

Note that the first version of CompXX was released after the competition was over. It was offered as a demo for IF Comp 1997.

IF Comp 1997 version

  • Competition '97 (Lucian Smith; 1997; Z-code 5).

IF Comp 1998 version

  • Competition '98 (Lucian Smith; 1998; Z-code 5).

IF Comp 1999 version

IF Comp 2000 version

  • Competition Aught-Zero (Lucian Smith; 2000; Z-code 5).

IF Comp 2001 version

  • Competition Aught-One (Lucian Smith; 2001; Z-code 5).
    • Release 1 / Serial number 010930 / Inform v6.15 Library 6/7 D
    • IFID: ZCODE-1-010930-AC3D
      IFID links: IFDB
    • Download Comp01.z5 from the IF Archive

IF Comp 2002 version

  • Competition Aught-Two (Lucian Smith; 2002; Z-code 5).
    • Release 1 / Serial number 020928 / Inform v6.15 Library 6/7
    • IFID: ZCODE-1-020928-E55C
      IFID links: IFDB
    • Download Comp02.z5 from the IF Archive

IF Comp 2003 version

  • Competition Aught-Three (Lucian Smith; 2003; Z-code 5).
    • Release 1 / Serial number 030928 / Inform v6.15 Library 6/7
    • IFID: ZCODE-1-030928-D5DF
      IFID links: IFDB
    • Download Comp03.z5 from the IF Archive

IF Comp 2004 version

  • Competition Aught-Four (Lucian Smith; 2004; Z-code 5).
    • Release 1 / Serial number 041006 / Inform v6.15 Library 6/7
    • IFID: ZCODE-1-041006-BAFB
      IFID links: IFDB
    • Download Comp04.z5 from the IF Archive

IF Comp 2005 version

  • Competition Aught-Five (Lucian Smith; 2005; Z-code 5).
    • Release 2 / Serial number 051001 / Inform v6.15 Library 6/7
    • IFID: ZCODE-2-051001-3379
      IFID links: IFDB
    • Download Comp05.z5 from the IF Archive

IF Comp 2006 version

  • Competition Aught-Six (Lucian Smith; 2006; Z-code 5).
    • Release 2 / Serial number 060930 / Inform v6.31 Library 6/11 S
    • IFID: ZCODE-2-060930-F1F9
      IFID links: IFDB
    • Download Comp06.z5 from the IF Archive

IF Comp 2007 version

  • Competition Aught-Seven (Lucian Smith; 30-Sep-2007; Z-code 5).
    • Release 2 / Serial number 070930 / Inform v6.31 Library 6/11 S
    • IFID: ZCODE-2-070930-5FB2
      IFID links: IFDB
    • IFID: ZCODE-2-070930-A4EF
      IFID links: IFDB
    • Download Comp07.z5 from the author's site.
    • Download Comp07.z5 from the IF Archive

IF Comp 2008 version

IF Comp 2009 version

IF Comp 2010 version

IF Comp 2011 version

IF Comp 2012 version

  • Competition Twenty-Twelve (Lucian P. Smith; 01-Oct-2012; Z-code 5).
    • Release 1 / Serial number 121001 / Inform v6.31 Library 6/11 S
    • IFID: ZCODE-1-121001-11C3
      IFID links: IFDB
    • Download Comp12.z5 from the author's site.
    • Download Comp12.z5 from the IF Archive


General info