Saturday, November 16, 2013

[IF Comp 2013] Results

The results are in!

I got distracted by other things halfway through the competition, so I played only about half of the games. I haven't played any of the top 3, and in fact only one of the top 7 games, so I guess that there is still some good stuff for me to try out.

I'm flabbergasted by the fact that Their angelic understanding has scored an average of 5.99. I changed my own mark to a 9 at some point. There can be some disagreement about marks, of course, but I cannot imagine how anyone could score it below a 7. This piece has beautiful writing, interesting thematic content and does new and impressive things with its medium.

It's a difficult piece, sure; but if you don't understand something, just refrain from judging. As a judge, you are called upon to judge a work of art, not to tell us how much you "liked" the experience of playing it. If you don't understand it, you shouldn't be judging.

(Yes, I'm kind of mad at this injustice, and guessing at the motives and thoughts of the people who misjudged Porpentine's fantastic piece. Those guesses might be wrong. Enlighten me.)


  1. Mmmmh. I'm not sure.

    Having played only a handful of games myself, I was not in the position to judge anything (the way I see it, either you have the complete landscape or it is unfair to judge), so I didn't. That said, being part of the average crowd (a spot everyone of us falls in, eventually) may very well mean we can judge something by the feeling it gave us, more than accurately try and dissect something that is above us.

    The IFComp has an obvious rule: everybody can be a judge as long as he/she has played at least five games. While the rule seems unfair to me, as stated above, I stick to it with my own philosophy attached. And that is: if everyone can be a judge then the judgement will round up to popular understanding of the media.

    Having "understanding" judges is restricted to selected juries, made by selected people who can actually do the job at a certain level. The same cannot be asked from the crowd. Such a rule imposes the X-Factor kinda popular judgement, and that is what we must get along with.

    What do you think?

    Anyway, I thought Their Angelical Understanding was going to end up much higher. But I understand why it didn't.

    1. Judgement requires insight. If you don't have insight in a piece, that's fine, but then you can't judge it. You can tell us how you feel about it, but that is merely a description of your subjective state, whereas a judgement always claims (a certain amount of) objectivity.

      Final Girl made a really, really bad impression on me. There were a bunch of random, totally unconnected events which included the reappearance of a character who had died earlier, and then I was dead, and then I was in a cinema. Super bad game experience. However, I quickly realised by checking out some reviews that I hadn't seen enough to understand the game, so I refrained from rating it.

      So, yes, I take the word "judge" very seriously!

    2. As I do: That's why i didn't judge. I should keep to the same seriousness when reviewing, to be honest...

      What I mean, by the way, is the the crowd voting on the IFComp, which sole job is to set a number between 1 and 10 to a game, is not made of "judges".

      Between me and you, I like it this way: I'd NEVER have won if the judges were all professionals :)

    3. Your definition of "judgement" would be perfect if you were, say, a maestro auditioning opera singers, or a literary critic reviewing a new book. The reality of the IFComp, though, is more like X-Factor. This may the at the heart of your frustration - it certainly is at the heart of mine very often!

    4. Mrm. I'm mixed on this - I think that to some extent, it's the job of the author to ensure that the work explains itself to the audience. Particularly if they're going to enter it under comp conditions.

      I don't think that this was the issue with Their angelical understanding, though; it has a few elements that are a little difficult to interpret, perhaps, but for the most part it's pretty self-explanatory. I can see people Totally Not Getting howling dogs; this is another matter.

  2. Ah! As a side note: I don't think "judge" is the correct term for the average guy who rates a game in a competition. This should be corrected in the IFComp site :)

  3. "if you don't understand something, just refrain from judging"

    Oooooooh, real tricky ground here.

    I understand where you're coming from, but if people don't understand something, they probably don't know they don't understand it. Remember "Captain What'shisname's Plunder"? You didn't understand it properly until you saw someone else's experience, which made you realise the game was not THIS but what, in fact, THAT. It didn't stop you from voicing your opinion because you didn't *know* that you hadn't understood it in its entirety.

    Personally, I think your reaction of Final Girl would have made for very valid judging. Why the heck not? If the game discouraged you so much that you had to quit before you got to the interesting bit, or before you were really able to understand things, then the game failed and your vote should reflect that,

    1. As a forinstance: I didn't really care much for the original "Andromeda" game (sorry, Marco!), for a number of reasons. I didn't vote because I hadn't played all games (if I'm gonna vote I feel I have to at least play all the games), but if I had, I'd have rated it 4/10 (doesn't help that I played the very first release).

      I very quickly saw that almost everyone else had loved it. So I'm thinking that maybe something's wrong about my opinion. But if I had cast a vote, I would not change it on that account. So other people loved it for this, this and this. So what? If I'm a judge, I'm the one who'll decide what my vote is, and I have my reasons, as long as I feel I can defend them if called upon to, and would have decided to vote low because, even if this and this and this were indeed very interesting, we could not overlook that, that and that.

      Six games after, I have to admit I still don't think all that highly of the first Andromeda game, but stand in awe at its legacy and the creativity it sparked in the community.

      Bottom line: my opinion about Andromeda is valid even if I'm clearly missing why some people think it's so great. Reminds me of the "baby tree" incident...

    2. I wish I could edit previous posts instead of just adding replies, but ah well.

      "As a judge, you are called upon to judge a work of art, not to tell us how much you "liked" the experience of playing it."

      That's a tall order for the average person. We're not all conoisseurs, and we all come from different backgrounds. We will naturally value different things in different games - heh, "Boogle" got a load of different interpretations. Separating "the experience of playing the game" from the actual game? That's hard, man, and it will lead to a dispassionate critical view that I for one do not *want* to encourage. If my judgement of games becomes divorced from my experience, where's the fun I once had in actually playing the games?

      Let me just finish on a slightly different note: I understand your frustratrion, I feel it all the time on various occasions. We have to respect that people are different, that they will not always choose what's best for them, or that they'll often prefer what sounds best to their untrained senses rather than what an actual conoisseur would instantly choose. It's unavoidable by its very nature, it's the worst side of democracy exposed, and the sooner you realise that, the less frustrated you'll be.

    3. "It didn't stop you from voicing your opinion because you didn't *know* that you hadn't understood it in its entirety."

      Absolutely, and I would never censure someone for judging in a situation where they did not know that they hadn't understood the work sufficiently. But there are, I think, many situations in which we DO know that we are in no position to judge. Now, I cannot look into the minds of everyone who is judging the IF Comp, so I don't know how often this happens, but I suspect that there's quite a bit of "I don't get it but I'll judge anyway" going on.

      "If my judgement of games becomes divorced from my experience, where's the fun I once had in actually playing the games?"

      It shouldn't be divorced from your experience, but it shouldn't just be a description of your experience either, let alone a judgement of the experience. To judge a work is to raise your experience to a higher level.

  4. I'm disappointed too. But really, the voting system is so flawed in so many ways that it can't be relied on to make valid judgments except in the most extreme cases.

    That said, I can't really understand how a good faith judge could rate this as a 1 or a 2 -- scores I tend to think are reserved for the truly terrible. I notice that quite a few of the web-based and hypertext games seem to have a little peak at 1, which is odd, and suggests some sort of protest vote about these games may have been going on.

    Truly, the voting and result of IF comp is a rather regrettable necessity -- it enable the comp to take place, which gets games exposure and discussion (for instance by reviewers like you, Sam Kabo Ashwell and Emily Short) which counts for way more than the result. Within that informed circle, I thought TAU was fairly assessed.

    1. and suggests some sort of protest vote about these games may have been going on.

      Yes. The Comp's traditional approach to the What Is IF? question has long been 'let in everything, and let the voters sort it out.' A fairly standard interpretation of a 1 vote is 'I don't think that this should be in the Comp in the first place.'

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. (Hmmpf. I write a one-line reply, I delete it thinking "I'd rather expand on that and make it a bigger post", but it still shows the ugly "comment deleted" entry. So much for trying to keep it short)

      I'd hoped we'd outgrown that. :P I mean, it's a valid reaction, certainly, and makes sense, but... I mean, there was once a graphical adventure entered into the Comp. The definition of IF gets stretched really thin at times - is Hallowmoor IF or CYOA (or hypertext)? Is King's Quest 1 interactive fiction by virtue of having a parser? Is "Tass Times" not IF because it has graphics?

      With the popularity of Twine these days, not to mention Choice of Games, Frankenstein and Sorcery!, and the very fact that IF and CYOA are just very close cousins... I would have thought we were past the age of the puritans. It doesn't make sense anymore. Not with such high-quality offerings being churned out in various other formats.

    4. This thread seems relevant:

  5. I gave angelic a score of 4. I summarised my reasons why in an intfiction forum post. And I wasn't biased against non parser games, giving high scores to some others.

    1. Vivdunstan, which post is that? I'm interested in reading it.


  6. Victor, I share your indignation about the poor placement of Their angelical understanding. I don't think it's the only CYOA which placed lower than it deserved; it's just the most conspicuous. Looking at the distribution, CYOA entries, whatever their merits or technical competence, always attracted at least half a dozen 1 and 2 votes. I also get the impression that many voters who aren't on principle opposed to parserless entries were hostile to more confessional, or less narratively conventional, games. At the same time, a significant minority of judges gave rather high ratings to anything which resembled an old school text adventure.

    These things are probably not new, just more obvious. Shade and Rameses placed higher in your Top 50 competition than any other entries in IFComp 2000; at the time, they placed tenth and thirteenth.

    I'm not sure there's much to be gained by asking these voters to abstain from judging games they don't understand; like Peter, I suspect they don't believe their understanding to be impaired. This seems to me rather like proposing a moral solution to a political problem. I think it would be better to talk about whether the Comp could be reformed.

    1. Well, Adam, I'm far from sure I would want to Comp reformed! So, yeah, while I guess that a moral appeal probably won't help a lot, I'm not willing to make this a political thing. The openness of the Comp is more important to me than the quality of the judgements it delivers.

  7. Wow, this is wrong on so many levels! I'm just going to mention the two most obvious points.

    First of all, Victor, you are basically asking for something alike to the classic Greek philosophy of the dictatorship of the philosophers. Great concept, *if* anyone had ever managed to define a workable solution to the dilemma of who defines who the 'philosophers' are.

    Second, perception of a work intended as art is always a dialogue with its recipient. If it is not 'understood', it is always at least partly the work's own fault. Which is enough to warrant a negative evaluation. I'm saying this as someone who has entered two games into the comp in the past which also were widely 'misunderstood' and therefore rated low.

    1. What Adam said: I'm not arguing for a political solution here, I'm merely asking judges to actually judge. I don't see how making an appeal to people constitutes arguing for a dictatorship.

      In addition, I don't buy the Platonic idea that there is a single standard of rightness (which "the philosophers" can then have access to), nor do I think the concept of objectivity requires such a standard. So I'm not even in the theoretical position in which such a dictatorship would make sense.

      The idea that misunderstandings are always equally the fault of both parties seems to me utterly mistaken. If I grab a book of Chinese poetry and don't get it, that's not the book's fault. If the problem is not a gap in language, but one in knowledge, sensitivity, background, and so on, the same generally applies -- within reasonable bounds, of course.

  8. 'basically asking for something alike to... the dictatorship of the philosophers.' Victor is asking that judges evaluate their own competence before giving very low ratings to Comp games. There is no interesting analogy to be drawn with rule by highly trained geometricians.

    'art is always a dialogue with its recipient. If it is not "understood", it is always at least partly the work's own fault.' This is false, even as a statement about dialogue. Some conversations fail entirely because of one participant -- because, for instance, they are obtuse or prejudiced or afraid, or have unfair expectations, or an unshakeable conviction that the other person should share their interest in the vegetation of Jamaica, or want to sleep with them.

    To suppose that the other person could always somehow make the conversation work is a fantasy, as is the work of art which cannot be misunderstood. Sometimes the art will have done everything it can to make itself accessible, given the difficulty of what it has to say; and then it is unfair to blame it when, inevitably, it meets people who, for whatever reason, are unable to understand it.

    Aphoristically: 'A book is a mirror: if an ape looks into it an apostle is hardly likely to look out.'

  9. "Victor is asking that judges evaluate their own competence before giving very low ratings to Comp games."

    And maybe they have. Who is Victor (or anyone else, for that matter) to tell others that if they rate game X (regardless of which one it is) highly or badly (this, too, goes both ways), they can't have understood it? Maybe it's Victor who has misinterpreted the same work. Which is exactly what the theory about defining the group of philosophers is about.

    Victor argues that he "cannot imagine how anyone could score it below a 7", insinuating that anyone who did rate it lower (which is exactly 50% of the people who rated this particular game) either have to be out of their minds or are simply too stupid.

    Folks, if you're asking for fairness towards games, also ask for fairness towards reviewers, judges and voters! They deserve the benefit of doubt as much as any game.

    "'art is always a dialogue with its recipient. If it is not "understood", it is always at least partly the work's own fault.'

    This is false, even as a statement about dialogue. Some conversations fail entirely because of one participant -- because, for instance, they are obtuse or prejudiced or afraid [...]"

    Granted, this *can* be the case. How likely, would you say, is it if apparantly 50% of all people who attempted this conversation with the same entity (in this case: a game) failed?

    "To suppose that the other person could always somehow make the conversation work is a fantasy, as is the work of art which cannot be misunderstood."

    Thanks, that's exactly my point. It's an illusion to expect the *recipient* of a work to be able to always 'understand' it (by whatever arbitrary definition of understanding). Which is why your conclusion:

    "then it is unfair to blame it when, inevitably, it meets people who, for whatever reason, are unable to understand it."

    is utterly one-sided and therefore unfair.

    1. In my original post, I explicitly state that I'm guessing at the thoughts and motives of those who gave the game a very low rating. So I don't think I'm taking the arrogant position you're ascribing to me. Of course there might be valid criticisms of the piece that I have missed. That's why I say: "Enlighten me." That's not an ironical or sarcastic sentence, I mean it.

      I don't expect this enlightenment to come in this particular case, but I'm open to it.

      Some of what you say seems to suggest that you don't believe there is such a thing as right and wrong judgement, that we can never go from our particular experience to a more objective and interpersonal level. I'm not sure that is what you are saying, but if you are, you are -- at least in my view -- pulling the rug from under art and philosophy. (Let me stress again that my conception of objectivity is not monistic and Platonic.)

      It would be utterly one-sided and unfair to say that all misunderstandings of works of art are the fault of the audience. But neither I nor Adam is saying that. Why would it be unfair to say that this is the case in some particular instance?

    2. I wouldn't describe "anything below a 7" as "a very low rating." If you're talking about the 2s and 3s their angelical understanding was given I can see your point, but that's not the impression I got from your original post. I haven't played this year's winner yet, but I didn't rate anything above a 7 this year. Does that mean I'm misjudging, or am I perhaps just using a different scale?

      Also, while the name of the competition refers to interactive fiction the rules (etc.) call upon us to judge games, and I think that might be one reason the ratings for this entry suffered. I know I would have given it an extra point or two had I been judging it as a literary work or as an experience, but there were several aspects of this piece (like the continue links and the choices of abstract phrases with insufficient context that you mentioned in your review) that made it feel significantly less like a game than many of the other entries - and I have played Twine games that felt like games, so it's not just the medium that's causing this. Judging this by how well it worked as a game, then, led to a lower rating from me than the writing and themes might have garnered in a different setting.

      (For the record, I can't remember whether I rated this a 5 or a 6.)

    3. You are right that I've become a bit more subtle later on in the discussion. :-)

      I don't buy your argument about games, though. The term "game" for a work of interactive fiction is standard, and gets applied to all manner of works that one might not consider games in a narrow sense of the word. I don't think anyone uses it -- and the IF Comp organisers certainly don't mean to use it -- to exclude works in the tradition of, say, Photopia or Rameses. It seems to me that TAU falls squarely within the range of works/games that the IF Competition tries to attract. (While a game like Reels probably doesn't, even apart from questions of quality.)


  10. Victor, if your intention was to ask people to make informed and reflected voting decisions, I doubt anyone would have objected in the least. This is true, and it it true *for all games*.

    Yet, you chose to say it for just one game (maybe as an example, but not marked as such). As if by coincidence, the very game for which the whole audience already expected the political correctness police to jump in and defend if there were even a tiny shred of criticism anywhere about it. A game which has probably been misjudged by some standards, but honestly, I believe there have been much more crass misjudgements in this competition in the past.

    To say whatever you want to say, you are using words which are even contradictory within themselves. For instance, you are saying "if you don't understand something, just refrain from judging". Without even wanting to repeat the obvious question of how you would suggest to gauge "understanding", you, yourself, in your review of this game say that you are not sure you understood it. Yet, you gave it a rating.

    Even just taking what you wrote about the game yourself, you could easily construct a case of rating it lower than you did. You state a number observations there which you consider negative ones. What you only state implicitly is the weight you give to each of those aspects. For example, right here, you seem to be saying that you consider "doing something new with the medium" a positive trait. That's a criterion which is fine. What if someone else does not consider "doing something new" (by itself) something which should gain a game points? What if the things you held against the game are the major criteria another player considers important above everything else? There you are - bad rating.

    I'm certainly not a person who believes in total relativism. Objectivity, to me, is evaluating things based on solidly explained standards. Standards which are applied equally to different works. This way, it is possible to for a reader to follow a reviewer's line of argument even if the former doesn't agree with the latter. What you do very well in your reviews is a fairly clear separation of exposition (explaining your observations) and your evaluation of them. What you also have to acknowledge, though, is, that others might come to a different view even from the same observations, because their criteria of evaluation might be different ones (I gave a couple of examples).

    I have not written a review of Angelical Understanding. I'm not planning to. Others have. I saw a couple which were definitely quite profound in their criticism about the game. Have you read those reviews? If you are truly looking for "enlightenment" as to what might be reasons for those votes, maybe a look beyond would be more useful than a pained plea for "justice".

    1. Hannes, could you point us to the reviews you had in mind? Those I saw were pretty universally positive; but with so many to read, I could easily have missed them.

    2. Hannes, yes, I am trying to tell people to make informed and reflected voting decisions. I am also pointing out a possible misconception here: the idea that rating your own enjoyment of the game is the same as judging a game. That is not a trivial theses, and people might disagree with it; though, as far as I can see, you do not. I am pointing this out with respect to a game of which I believe that it might have fallen victim to this misconception, as is evidenced by the huge gap between my judgement and the average, as well as by the extremely high standard deviation.(Only Final Girl has a higher standard deviation; again, that is a game that was easy to not understand,)

      I don't know what this stuff about the political correctness police is supposed to mean.

      If your complaint about my post is merely that there *could* be good reasons to give a low score to My Angelic Understanding, then we do not disagree. I'm not sure there *are* such reasons, but I'm not setting my own temporary judgement up as the truth.

      If you believe that most of those 1's, 2's and 3's were based on good reasons, you have a more positive expectation than I have.

      Please do link to the reviews I ought to read.

    3. (And just to be clear, because otherwise my position doesn't make a lot of sense: I don't share your conception of objectively valid judgement. You can be "evaluating things based on solidly explained standards," and still not be giving objectively valid judgements. E.g., I could be rating games based on how many times the letter "e" appears in the first sentence. Solidly explained, but also an invalid standard for judging games. Objective validity is more than following a rule.)

  11. "If you believe that most of those 1's, 2's and 3's were based on good reasons, you have a more positive expectation than I have."

    Probably not all or even most, but it's only fair to point out: TAU did have a major problem where if you played it offline, you'd see a lot of error messages related to missing sound files and eventually get completely stuck. As far as I could tell, there was nothing to indicate that it was because you were playing offline - the game just looked buggy. I only found out what the problem was when Porpentine posted something about it on the authors' forum.

    1. Really? In that case, I'll retract what I said here about this particular work. If a game consistently dies on you for no apparent reason, you're justified in giving it a low score. There's no way for me to find out how many of those low votes were cast because of this reason; so there's no useful conclusion I can draw from the voting pattern.

      Thanks for pointing this out, Emily!

    2. it's a browser game. browser games require a working internet connection. this is an ancient rule. it's no different than expecting an MMO to work without an internet connection.

    3. Browser games require a browser. They do not, in general, require a working internet connection; something that does would be called an "online game." The two categories only partially overlap.

      Given that Their Angelic Understanding was distributed as a simple html-file in the competition zip file, I can understand that people would think you could just play it by opening that up in a browser. Now, it may not have been your choice to distribute the game that way; I'm certainly not blaming you for anything. But I can imagine that some people got baffled by and stuck in the game this way; and given that possibility, I just can't draw any serious conclusions from the scores.

      I still think it somewhat likely that many of those low votes were from people who didn't want to take the tome or effort to think about the piece, but voted nevertheless. My points about that stand. But I can't be sure that this is actually the case.

  12. Sorry, this "Reply" function does not seem to work for me, so I'll just post down here. One review I recommend checking out (if you speak the language) is the one by proc: . He not only points the technical issues (sorry, Porpentine, your comparison with MMOs is off – Javascript is a client-side language, so it's fair to expect it to work without an online connection in my book), but goes into great length to identify and explain problems he found in the narrative which, in his own, does not match its own ambition and goals. Another review I liked was the one by Joey Jones: . It does name various positive traits, but also goes into issues of coherency and the question of when something becomes *too* vague. I don't know how either of these reviewers rated the game in the end, but they both make good cases of which parts of the game might not work after all.

    1. Thanks for the links! Joey's review is actually quite positive. It contains some criticisms, certainly, but hey, so did my own review. (Indeed, perhaps a more scathing one.)

      Ifwizz's review is quite a bit more negative, but nevertheless quite fair. His experience was hampered by the technical issues mentioned by Emily, and he wasn't able to finish the game; but most of his criticism would stand regardless. So I'll grant you that a thoughtful yet negative reading of the piece is possible. I'm *still* sceptical that people like ifwizz could explain the amount of really low scores the game has gotten -- but that is a suspicion that is perhaps not a very fruitful topic for debate.

    2. I pointed out the erosion of formal Twine aspects and the wastage of »female innerly hurt«-Topics, you cannot show twelfe good Robin Hood movies in cinema at once and expect the audience perceive all of them as good. Angelical has powerful lyrics but that's not enough for a good game, for that some Rammstein Lyrics adapted to Twine would work, too. Lots of technical trouble says, it's made for special systems that I apparently don't have, and I unsuccessfully tried three of them. Just for that, I don't see a premise for a 7. I gave this game a chance, but it didn't work for me with regard both to formal aspects and content. My opinion evolved in playing the game and lots of others, even Porpentines and, of course, Anna Anthropy ones. In the end it's really hard to grade 35 games in a way like »can Robin & Orchid worse than Angelical?«

    3. I think there is a level of subjectivity that you aren't allowing for in your position regarding reviews of their angelic understanding, and a lot of context & information you already have regarding the work of Porpentine, which a new-comer to the comp & IF may not have.

      I've enjoyed a lot of Porpentine's works after reading this one; I think in general Porpentine is an excellent writer, and puts a lot of work into the formatting/user experience. This game, however, gave me no impression that I was interacting. I didn't think that my actions had an impact, and at the time I wasn't familiar with Porpentine's works and theme. I wasn't sure what was going on, and in some instances (the opening!) I had to click every choice to figure out how to progress, because I had no idea what I was supposed to be trying to do.

      I fight angels--I'm in a monastery--but I won't leave. (See, I clicked Gates first.... I clicked out of order, so to speak, and when I saw that I wouldn't leave without putting on my face I didn't know how or where to do that, so I just randomly clicked the other links until I got to the Monastery one)

      Considering the 2 hour limit on reviews, I didn't think it was appropriate to research Porpentine, their background, and their themes. The time frame to familiarize myself with a writer that I didn't know didn't really exist.

      I totally appreciate the point of view that we should bring more to the table when we judge, and I absolutely agree in principle, but please, do consider that a newcomer to judging is not necessarily going to be familiar with everything you're familiar with, and it isn't practical to expect every judge to go review the back story & context of every work.

      The works should stand on their own (or not) to a new-comer who is relatively new to IF. Re-playing the game later, after becoming more familiar with the work of Porpentine, made it a better experience, but that simply wasn't in my tool set when I came to the if comp.

      I don't think however that we can expect IF Comp judging to have the same level of judging that we'd bring to literature, which has already been vetted before we touch it. Should I have spent hours researching Reels, which was sloppy, poorly written, poorly themed, and broken? How do I know that it will be worth my time? Should I take that risk with 38 entries?

      There are a lot of comments about poor scores being left for CYOA games (beside their angelic understanding)--I did give poor reviews for several. The issue with them was a poor use of the medium.

      my father's long long legs, porpentine's games, emily short's cyoa games, Bell Park, and many, many other games show a good use of the medium. They format the type in attractive ways, and avoid "info dump" copy. There were a few CYOA games that presented 5+ paragraphs worth of text at 12 pixel type size, without proper line breaks or spacing. Those games got low scores from me; the use of the medium was significantly behind the work of better CYOA games. I also think that a lot of twine games suffer from the central problem that I had with their angelic understanding--many options on each page, but not a clear idea of what it means to "choose" an option. If a parser game suffers from a massive "guess the verb" issue, I'll review it poorly. I feel like that problem is even more common in twine games, but not articulated as often. Twine games that have almost links that don't feel relevant or informative cease feeling interactive; if I have to guess what things do, I'm probably not enjoying/reading the narrative the same way.