With many thanks to all the contributors, the experiment is ending. This merely means that I am going to unpin the topics, the threads will not be locked or anything. Please feel free to continue adding to the experiments if you wish.
I'm very happy with how the C++ experiment turned out, the basis of a full game was created. The HTML 5 one almost got there in the end, but is definitely that bit more immature, which I would put down to weaknesses both in the concept and the initial art I created for it. Nonetheless, it was still interesting to see the changes that people made in both experiments.
I'm also quite pleased with the level of horror in the resulting C++ program. Really has some nice WTF moments, imagine yourself coming across this as a completed codebase rather than being aware of the process that created it. The HTML 5 experiment, while showing some promise, didn't really get to the level of complexity or iteration to develop more than relatively minor warts.
The "results" (i.e, my personal opinions) of this experiment are:
Art availability is vital
It would appear that most non-artists are reluctant to contribute programmer's art. Artists who aren't programmers are discouraged from contributing, probably due to the developer-oriented rules. Gameplay programmers can only work with what is already available, and if that is very limiting it stunts the entire process.
Art is obvious, but audio is also key to game juiciness
. It would have been nice to highlight this experiment in the sub-fora, maximising the chances of participation. I don't know if the forum software has a "nice" way to handle this, as obviously I'd like to avoid cross posting.
Initial content is crucial
I didn't plan this aspect thoroughly, I just threw a minimal program out, it was only in the last hour did I decide to even post something more than have a black screen. I really failed to take into account the needs of the games that might evolve, I cranked out two basic sprites just before opening the experiment.
The initial ghost sprite turned out to be quite amenable to wrapping gameplay around. I think in many ways this single thing is the reason why the C++ was as popular as it turned out to be.
Unfortunately, for the HTML Frankenstein's head was, I feel, a barrier to gameplay. Not only did it lack animation, it wasn't even a complete sprite. I tried adding more sprites into the mix after the fact, but by then the program had already started to evolve and due to the rules it wasn't really possible to undo this direction. Had the initial art been better, maybe a game would have emerged sooner - which may have lent some coherency to the earlier changes.
No chefs can also cause broth related problems
Another issue is how to co-ordinate content creation with the gameplay programmers. For example, we had a fantastic sprite contributed to the C++ experiment by riuthamus, but unfortunately this was never really built upon - most likely because it lacked animation. Another member added a rather jarring random background gradient early in the HTML 5 experiment, which was difficult to integrate into a game. There was no barrier to gameplay programmers and content creators discussing this in the threads (except perhaps the apparent lack of the latter type of participant). A note in the rule thread encouraging such collaboration might have helped.
Don't settle on the first theme that comes to mind
Like the art, I didn't really think the theme all the way through. This is my first try at running a public game making event like this. Initially I wasn't going to have a theme, but when I learned that the "Power Up Table Tennis" competition was ending around Halloween night, I thought it would be easy to throw a Halloween based theme around the experiments - how naïve!
This might sound a bit obvious, but if you are organising an event like this, I highly recommend doing some thought experiments on what kind of games you would come up with given the themes that you are planning. If you can quickly think of a handful of games that sound like they might be fun and relatively small in scope, then that concept might be a good one, while if you struggle to envision games then so will your participants.
Cross platform is a hard problem
While I did mention this as a hazard to watch out for in the rules, I guess the fundamental issue is that this is a hard problem when not all contributors have access to the same platforms. I'd be open to suggestions that might alleviate this problem.
Not everyone who expressed an interest will contribute
This didn't exactly come as a surprise to me. However, I was initially going to run a single experiment, but based on the feedback I chose to start a second in HTML 5 too. rather than not run the C++ one. I wasn't, and still am not, sure this was the right decision. I think there was just enough participation in both threads to justify this decision, but even in the first few days that wasn't necessarily very clear.
I had hoped that given the low commitment (not a full game, any change would do), that a few more people would manage to make a contribution, but alas not. Anyone want to chime in with any structural reasons why they ended up choosing not to contribute despite earlier enthusiasm. By structural, I mean reasons related to the running of the experiments and not on personal reasons such as free time, etc.
I probably should have announced a fixed duration
I was thinking of running it for just a weekend, and then for a week. Once it was in motion, because I hadn't really committed to a set end date I kept it running while there were still contributions being made. Partially this was because I ended up being busy on most of the weekends where it would have been natural to draw it to a close.
I'd be interested in hearing opinions from observers or contributors on anything particular that was either enjoyable or not. Any thoughts?
Edited by rip-off, 01 December 2013 - 02:54 PM.