No disrespect to the organiser or entrants, but I must confess I dearly wish each new Introcomp to be the last. If the point of the comp is to encourage new games, then it has been a failure. (And if that's not the point, then it's pointless.) The past five years of Introcomp and Prologuecomp have produced exactly one finished game, and that game is barely the size of an intro anyway. And with five years of settled water and dust under the bridge, I think we can safely give up hope of ever seeing most of the other entries completed. The intros just sit there in the archive, irrelevant and unfulfilled, like last year's resolutions.
Introcomp is the comp of good intentions, and good intentions are worthless unless backed up by good deeds. If anything, Introcomp entries are more worthless still: intentions pretending to be something more substantial, barely-fleshed-out game ideas posing as games. Having finished a game or two myself, and having started several more, I know that while there's a small step between game idea and game intro, there's a huge step between game intro and finished game. The full work will throw up a mass of difficulties you never considered in your intro. You'll find that your game idea is really just the sketched highlights of a game idea, all tip and no iceberg. You'll find that while you have a feel for scenes A and E, you really have no idea what to put in scenes B, C and D. Then you'll realise scene B can only be implemented in RAIF-Pool, and give the whole thing up.
If you seriously planned to finish a game, why would you enter it in the Introcomp? You're only going to blunt the impact of the final release, and force everyone to play through the start again. Maybe you're so impatient to share your game idea that you have to release a teaser; but as with other things in life, if you release prematurely, it's hard to work up the desire again. (Or so I'm told, anyway.) Whether you're satiated with praise or turned off by criticism, your appetite for the game will hardly be the same after its public release. Entering the Introcomp almost seems a declaration that you'll never work on the game again. (And I can only hope that this is the case for some of this year's entries.)
I'm certain that many Introcomp entries were never going to be more than intros in the first place. One trend in the comp is the intro that shoots its load in the first few turns. The author has implemented some nifty concept, but hasn't thought beyond it, and specifically, hasn't thought about whether the concept is enough to support an entire game. Examples include Private Cyborg from 2002, the overrated Deadsville from last year, and now Mechs. Mechs has some cool stuff (though I wish "xyzzy" and "plugh" weren't the toggle verbs for the AI world -- we've had enough community cockle-warming), but "you're a robot with free will who must obey Asimov's laws" isn't even a plot premise. It's just a gimmick, and once the intro is over, the gimmick has been resolved, and there's simply nothing left in the game. I'm not convinced the author has any idea where to go from here, or even what is outside the first room.
Unyielding Fury begins with some hokey Ed Wood style narration ("As we prepare to enter the realm of dreams...") and gets worse from there. A stray "but" turns the first sentence of the opening room description into nonsense ("Though the forest is dark and you get the impression that it should be foreboding but right now it just feels like home"), and I can't tell if it's a typo or just genuine incoherence. There are lots of writing and implementation problems in a short space. I don't know why this was released as an intro: nothing new or interesting is going on here, nothing is set up. The story immediately comes to a halt; I'm not anticipating where it's going. (Though I hope it goes straight into the recycle bin.)
The Art of Deception is better written (though I don't think "Sake" is the best word to begin with: I have to go back and reparse it as soon as I realise we're talking about rice wine) and fairly deftly establishes a James Bond milieu. It seems to have been worked out in some detail, and there are promises of plot going on. But this kind of potboiler scenario needs some action, and there's just not enough to do here. For the first several turns I have to wait in a thinly-implemented room for some guy called Charles; and when he arrives, I can only sit and listen to him. Then there's a quick 'action' scene (being somewhat less heroic than my namesake, I spent most of it hiding behind a crate), and then the intro is over. There's a lot, lot more work to be done on this one. What we've seen is barely an intro to a prologue, and has quite a few implementation problems even then. This is nowhere near finished, and I'd be very surprised if it were eligible to collect a prize within the year.
Southern Gothic cites that old Chekhov quote about unfired guns in the first scene, and then opens in the parlor room of some old Southern mansion. After a few turns poking around I realise that it's really a stage set, and my character is working in the theatre: an immediate and seemingly irrelevant player/PC disconnection. In the spirit of the Chekhov quote, I hope this is not a pointless gimmick, and will be fully justified later, because it certainly isn't in the intro. Also in the spirit of the Chekhov quote, we get to see an unfired pistol and an unfired cannon, so I assume that the final act, should it ever materialise, will be a massacre on stage. Not that I'm especially keen to see it if the rest of the game proceeds like the intro, which leads me by the nose through a linear sequence of unmotivated actions (why do I want to open the piano bench?), and not very well. Some boilerplate plot is set in motion, which is more than many intros can manage, but it's overheated and not especially involving.
At first I couldn't tell if the bugs in Southern Gothic were I7 teething troubles or just regular programming errors, but then the apparently bug-free Child's Play revealed it to be the latter. Child's Play is obviously the best intro this year, with probably the best chance of being completed, if only because its "totally like whatever and stuff" prose should be easy to produce rapily, and in bulk. I'm less sure if there's really a game here, though; as with Mechs, the intro offers a gimmick ("you're a toddler") instead of a premise. "Two toddlers battle over favourite toy" is a premise, but it's only offered in the final screen, and I fear it might be much more difficult to implement than what we've seen up to then. The intro as it stands is a mildly amusing insight into a toddler's world -- I liked the irritation and indifference towards "the mom" and the adult world in general -- but all the same, it's a slight overdose of cute for me, and by the end I had just about seen enough. If it were a comp game, I would have hit the walkthrough at precisely the point the intro ended.
My reaction to Nothing but Mazes changed about five times during play. First, I liked the title; then, I groaned at an amnesia game; then, I slept through an overlong non-interactive cutscene that should really be removed; then I grinned at some spoofy IF meta stuff; and finally, I came to a hacking simulator, at which point of course I quit. I've no idea how close this is to completion, but what I saw seemed rather thorough and extensive. The illustrations are cute but obviously not professional (the aliens being conveniently easy to draw), and that and the subject matter give the intro a kind of provincial or homemade feel. If IF is a community, then this is like a display at the community centre. It's nice, but probably not something I'd come back to.
Sabotage is a Star Trek kind of thing. The author has to dump a lot of background information on the hapless player, and goes to some contortions to avoid dumping it all at once. The "cabin is a blur" device at the start is a rather contrived and blatant way to distribute the infodumps in more manageable pieces; but even so, my first few moves seemed all infodump. Such are the perils of "backstory". I wandered around a spaceship with little idea what to do, and turned to the walkthrough as soon as I was given a "communicator" to play with. Turns out that there was a lot of other machinery I should have been playing with too. I never developed a good feel for what was possible in the spaceship environment, but in fairness I never really tried. I suspect this game would appeal more to people who like that sort of thing. Sabotage seems unusually large and thoroughly implemented for an intro; I don't know whether that means it is more likely to be finished, or less.