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Week of Awesome III - Post Mortem (dont read if you have soft feelings)

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riuthamus

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WARNING: This might sound like a sore loser, but its not!! I am simply throwing out some constructive criticism.

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After spending two years doing this competition I have noticed some very odd things. This post is an attempt to curtail such things and help to create a more "professional" style of GameJam. First off I want to say that I am very pleased we had one of these for this community. After looking at a few others that have been going on this one is ran by people who love and care for this community; which is why I know what I am about to say might sting a bit.

The judging for this competition is seriously off.

To whatever judge wants to comment I would greatly appreciate any insight you might have into the workings of the following:

  1. What scale did you use to judge each category (by scale I mean metric)?
  2. Did you compare each game to AAA standard, to each other, or to your own idea of what a gameJam game should be?
  3. What is your model for how points are assigned?

Some of my observations are as follows:

  1. There is no clear criteria for each category and what leads up to each score. When you want to decide the quality of something (like a score) you need to define the criteria clearly so that the people making it can match up to that. Without this you are just shooting in the dark and hoping to god you hit the target. This is a problem considering this leaves a lot of opinion to play into these categories rather than actual merit. The only category that should be judged based off of opinion is the 5 points at the end.
  2. There is no way to judge difficulty of the game being coded for this event. IE: We went with 3d instead of 2d because we thought it would present more of a challenge and create a better end product. We could have gone with a 2d side scroller like all the other entries and had something far more developed. There should be a category for difficulty and it should weight how hard it was to complete the game attempted. It could be worth 10pts or something and would convey choices made by a team that might be riskier, but provide a better end game instead of making something that everybody else is doing (not to bash anybody who went with side scrollers)
  3. I honestly feel that games are being judged differently based off of opinion. Each category should take the game that best defines that and give it a score of 20. Then judge the rest of the games from there based off of your best in category. (This could be another metric you can use for showing people "Best in Category") For example, if you have a game with EPIC graphics that scored a 20, you cant give a game with 2d thrown together art in 3 min the same score. If you do than it discourages people from doing extra work in those categories and just meeting the bare minimum to get the score. Furthermore, I saw some scores for art that was well below some of the best in the competition (not talking about just mine btw) that got high scores. This was almost a slap in the face. So, are they judging the game off of personal opinions of what the art makes them feel? Or is it using some kind of metric? (SEE POINT 1)

I did not expect to get first place this year, especially after we had some issues with the AI and the final build (6 hours wasted). However, 14th place left a bad taste in my mouth. I don't know, anyway.... I hope the judges can take these comments with an open mind and realize that some of us want clarity. Maybe I am the only one tooting that horn and if so just ignore me, but I don't think I am. We had fun for sure, but next year I would really like to see a bit more defined criteria for the categories.
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 After looking at a few others that have been going on this one is ran by people who love and care for this community; which is why I know what I am about to say might sting a bit.

 

 

Constructive criticism doesn't sting. From my perspective this competition is still in its infancy, the level of administration and handling has improved greatly over that of last year (I am ignoring WoA I). I expect that come next year's competition that issues identified in WoA III will be addressed, not necessarily to anyone's liking, but that is always the case when making changes.

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Well, that is part of the reason why I posted this. I had some thoughts on last years as well and they seemed to be taken into consideration so I figured I might as well express these as well. :P

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There's always going to be opinion when judging a game. I don't think it's possible to change that.

 

The art in your game looked absolutely amazing for the time you had to do it. I noticed in the judging guidelines that for art, that it's about how the art adds to the experience of the game. "it's not a contest of who has the most realistic graphics; rather, this category is about how well the graphics help the game express itself and create an engaging experience for the user". 

 

Your art had a definite wow factor that adds to the game, but there are other things that create an engaging experience. I remember being unsure if I was hitting enemies in your game until they died, but a simple flash or knock back can give the attack a sense of impact and power that adds to the game even more. You may have thought that you don't have time for a whole animation showing that they got hit, but sometimes the cheap tricks are all you need.

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There's always going to be opinion when judging a game. I don't think it's possible to change that.

 

The art in your game looked absolutely amazing for the time you had to do it. I noticed in the judging guidelines that for art, that it's about how the art adds to the experience of the game. "it's not a contest of who has the most realistic graphics; rather, this category is about how well the graphics help the game express itself and create an engaging experience for the user".

 

Your art had a definite wow factor that adds to the game, but there are other things that create an engaging experience. I remember being unsure if I was hitting enemies in your game until they died, but a simple flash or knock back can give the attack a sense of impact and power that adds to the game even more. You may have thought that you don't have time for a whole animation showing that they got hit, but sometimes the cheap tricks are all you need.

 

While this is true, look at the other games and show me where this is in play? Most of the games didnt have these things and still got a high score in the art portion. How can you say what you did and not define the others in the same way? Seriously, the top rated game has the highest art score. This art could be done in less than 1 day and has no real challenge associated with it at all. I know most of this because I am an artist, but you cant tell me a game that takes 1 day for art compares to a game that has Speculars, Normal maps, and metal maps. Futhermore, I can see when somebody says "art style can add to it". Sure, but the only game that had "styled" art was the bunny one. I thought it was cute too and I would have given it a higher graphics score but cetainly not the best.

 

So if you have a 3d system that you are saying "Should" have extra animations for showing things being hit, but you have a 2d game that doesn't have some simple sprite or something showing it, how does that compare? The work to complete both are vastly different and really define the art score. This is my exact point.

 

It is almost like (and this is just me talking right now from my games perspective) we got judged harder because we did have close to AAA graphics. You noticed the blaring annoyances because we didnt have chibi low resolution art (which allows for that, EG: Minecraft).

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So if you have a 3d system that you are saying "Should" have extra animations for showing things being hit

 

Just to be clear, I meant to say there should be something to show that an enemy was hit. It doesn't need to be a whole animation. It can be something simple like a flash.

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So if you have a 3d system that you are saying "Should" have extra animations for showing things being hit

 

Just to be clear, I meant to say there should be something to show that an enemy was hit. It doesn't need to be a whole animation. It can be something simple like a flash.

 

 

You say that, but at the same time, would you say if we did that somebody wouldnt have said "I doc'd you points for adding in this cheesy particle system when being hit".

 

For the record we had the animations for being hit, we just didnt have the time to add them in due to the 6 hour build error. Not that it matters. :(

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I can see your point riuthamus but i think it is harsh saying that some could be knocked up in a few mins. I didnt enter i know but i am rubbish at art stuff and would say i couldnt knock up any of the art done in 3 mins. Ok i agree it shouldnt be judged on skill of the person competing but i feel that was a harsh comment. i think you are right the guidelines should be maybe better with 10 pts on how well they fit 10 for how complex or something i dunno. At the end of the day you have hit the nail on the head in one respect maybe a 2d-2.5d game would have been a better idea... Other things people will judge it on intentionally or not will be number of people in team and how it makes them feel rightly or not thats what happens with people. You personally in this have judged others art based on your opinion. Other than that with your opinion 2 on how hard to code for ie the 2d 3d thing i think maybe what also comes in to that is the teams decision making in how complete they can get the game done in a week and if that is going to be enough to get you the extra marks without dropping some for maybe a touch of polish here and there. As with 3 i think iv covered it but you will always get personal opinions when humans judge things

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Well, that only proves my point. If somebodies art is the best in the entire contest (or code for that matter) and then somebody who cant do the best, but tried, do they get the same score? And, while you cant do any of the art provided in 3 minutes I certainly could. This is not a dis on those people but rather something to keep in mind. If our gameplay sucked (and it did I wont argue that) but the art was great the marks should reflect that. I dont want to call anybody out here but if I need to make the point I can.

 

Slaughterhouse (Vault Stone)

Gameplay/fun: 10/25
Graphics: 13/20
Theme: 9/20
Audio: 5/10
FTUE: 3/10
Participation: 10/10
Judges Score: 0/5

 

Lich (

Gameplay/fun: 15/25
Graphics: 13/20
Theme: 18/20
Audio: 4/10
FTUE: 5/10
Participation: 8/10
Judges Score: 3/5

 

apocowlypse

Gameplay/fun: 20/25
Graphics: 20/20
Theme: 4/20
Audio: 8/10
FTUE: 8/10
Participation: 6/10
Judges Score: 4/5

 

Post of Death

Gameplay/fun: 17/25
Graphics: 18/20
Theme: 15/20
Audio: 8/10
FTUE: 10/10
Participation: 10/10
Judges Score: 5/5

 

large.compare_01.jpg.065224e0134c31cf70f

 

There seems to be some disparity here, if you ask me. Now if the judge had personal opinions for the art of the games that is certainly their choice, but without knowing the criteria that makes up a "good art style" you cant really tell. Hence my point, we need to define these things for all categories. I used graphics since that is my thing.

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As i said i agree with what you are saying and i do think some of the graphics scores were overly a mixed bag and im not sure what was used as a base model to judge on and maybe needs defining. I do think all the reports on the games i read had a bit about each section but that doesnt really help at all. As you said art is your thing and it cant be nice to see your hard work in a way rated no better than someone elses. The only bit i found harsh was the few mins thing i like critism but someone could read it and be discouraged to maybe enter again because of poor art. One of the harder things for the judges might be that it is a mark of 20 so some scores seem low when in reality probably wasnt and the judge may have give them a few extra again maybe not the thing to do but humans. Maybe as the comp matures the finer points of judging will be better defined.

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While I don't think you can take opinion out of judging, you make some good points. Something like Eck's judging scale would do a lot to get the judges on the same page of how high or low they should score based on that opinion. It might help a judge keep their view of the art more separated from their view on the game as a whole, or so they don't just score everything by multiples of 5. http://www.gamedev.net/blog/2108/entry-2261430-ecks-unofficial-judging-officially-explained/

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It was a good game, played it and had a lot of fun. Doesnt mean I thought the graphics were overly impressive. However, I still think they had enough style to compared to others.  :P Stop trolling me you boob! :P

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My problem with this post is entitlement. You are saying because you chose 3D your game should automatically be scored higher. This is EXACTLY what is wrong with the AAA industry, every game has amazing graphics, but plays like complete shit because everyone wants pretty visuals now. 

I honestly would rate a game with stick art but amazing gameplay higher than any game with amazing visuals but shitty gameplay (not that I am calling your gameplay shitty). I do agree that your art was decent; I had yellow boxes show up everywhere when I played your game, if not, I probably would've thought it was very nice. I also had no idea what I was supposed to do in your game. Both of these would affect your score - I am not being harsh here.

I also agree that this competition is still in it's infancy, so of course there are improvements to be made. My biggest gripe about your comments though is that you think your game is better because you chose 3D and everyone else chose 2D or 2.5D. The competition isn't about who makes the prettiest game, if you are looking for that there are plenty of competitions specifically for this, the objective is to create a game that is fun and has visuals and sounds that contribute TO the game and not detract FROM the game.

Am I happy with my entry? Not at all. Could it have been better? Absolutely. Do I agree with the judges score completely? Absolutely not; I mean how can you being a ghost and doing ghostly things only gain you a 50% for the theme? Clearly I didn't convey the theme well enough.

I would hate for this post to have any of the following outcomes;

  • The competition doesn't happen next year.
  • Someone doesn't participate because of your comments about 3 minutes of work. How do you know someone didn't spend days working on that? Who are you to judge? If you want to judge, be a judge next year.

I think this conversation should've been handled like an adult and in private chats with the administrators of the competition to improve next year and I would go as far as recommend this post be removed for at the minimum, point 2 above.

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Your first statement is false. I did not say that it should be scored higher because it was 3d. In fact, I said difficulty should be a factor in the judging. The point of a gamejam is to see what people can do in a small period of time. To allow people to strive for interesting and unique things you create this category and you come out with some pretty cool stuff. Say that person wants to try this really cool idea they have had for a 2.5D game, but dont want to risk is because of the challenges associated. In doing so they make a side scroller and your competition variety is meh. Your comments actually sound like somebody who took is personally rather than objectively.

 

You are not being harsh but you are not grading to "category" either. You can have epic art game that has horrible gameplay. There are thousands of AAA titles that fall into this category. Check out the new Call of Duty Black OPS, really nice art, but same gameplay that has been in place for 7 years. I think the game is total shit and not worth $50, but objectively the art is on par with some of the best in the industry. You do not have to have a 3d game to make epic art either, I think that Duelyst has some amazing art as well and that is a 2d pixel game. The style choices however, are what make it great.

 

My argument isnt my game was better, why didnt it score better. I did, however, admit that I was upset at the score we achieved. My gripe was that the scoring criteria was not defined enough. If you read some of the comments by the judges some of these categories are being judged VERY differently depending on the judge. In a competition where you have a judge who is looking at all games in a AAA format, and you have another who isnt, you get some varying results for your game. This shouldnt be the case, if you want to make the competition as fair as possible and as clear as possible while rewarding unique and interesting choices than you have to define the criteria.

 

My comments about 3 minutes of work is my own personal opinion. I fully realize that what takes other people 5 days to do that I can do in 3 minutes. Inversely, I couldn't code a game in 7 days, much less code 1 function in 5 days..... so.... however harsh my comment might have been it doesn't negate the truth of it. And, this is my blog, so I am fully capable of sharing my opinions. Furthermore, I have stated many times that there is plenty of art that is 2d/2.5D that DOESNT look like it takes 3 minutes to make. In those cases that art should be graded higher. There are pixel artists out there who can do some amazing things, but to tell me the work of some of these games is compared to those 2d artists... well... like i said, I would take it as a slap in the face.

 

This isnt a post, this is a blog. If the admin teams see's fit to remove it they can. (or I could remove it myself if they told me it was not in good standing since it is my blog) Either way, I think you took some comments personally and skimmed past what was really being said. I am sorry for that, but there was a point in this post and I think I made that clear. The competition needs to defined criteria to allow for a fair judging panel.

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No worries I didn't take anything personally, I am worried about the newer members and first time participants.

 

 

I did read the comments, and I do agree with some of your points. If all of the judges are not grading all of the entries, there needs to be further defined guidelines (I didn't realize all the judges didn't grade all entries until after my comment, sorry).

You are absolutely entitled to your opinion but I think at some point it can taken as an attack, which is grounds for removal of forum posts and I would imagine blogs as well.

Your concept of a "difficulty" category would be impossible to score, I think you are trying to convey the correct vision but I believe it is unrealistic to guage. You have to remember, as it being a competition, people can already chose to do things as difficult as they would like, we for example took on 4 extremely difficult concepts, and failed at getting them "right" in time for submission. But if someone else's "difficulties" or "abstract ideas" were implemented and worked really well, they most likely would've come out higher up regardless. Most successful indie titles are due to this very concept - we do not follow the mainstream formula nor are we forced to suck the corporate teet to do this.
 

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Eck is one of the reasons why I made this post. I loved his concept for judging

 
Thanks riuthamus. smile.png I hope you liked my execution in my judging thread as well. >.>
 
 

To whatever judge wants to comment I would greatly appreciate any insight you might have into the workings of the following:
1. What scale did you use to judge each category (by scale I mean metric)?
2. Did you compare each game to AAA standard, to each other, or to your own idea of what a gameJam game should be?
3. What is your model for how points are assigned?


1, 3 - I think this is pretty well covered in my post:
http://www.gamedev.net/blog/2108/entry-2261430-ecks-unofficial-judging-officially-explained/
But I can talk a little more about my judging. I played all of the games, and judging them was hard. I tried very hard to be self-consistent. After about 10-12 games though, I couldn't remember which row in my spreadsheet corresponded to the gameplay experience in my head. I had to fire up previous entries and think about them related to the current entry I was judging. Did I have as much fun playing this entry as that one? And after I was all done, I made a second pass to double check my consistency.
 
2 I looked at the games through a week-long-game-jam lens and to get a perfect score in most of my categories, it had to be good enough to ship in an indie game. In the case of graphics, I only awarded a perfect score to Vault Stone, Try, Die, Repeat, and Death and Flowers. Yours is the best graphics by a very wide margin, but the maximum of my scale only went up to indie-game quality so you were rated the same at 20 points. :/ I awarded points in the 90% range when categories were great for a game jam and I was impressed you got it done in a week. I awarded points in the 80% range when they were good for a game jam. If I judge next year, I might reserve my Judge Points for blowing the top out of a category and Firefly references.
 
On my scale, the amount of effort to points going from 80-90 is quite a bit, and the amount of effort from 90-100 is even more. To win my judging, entries have a better chance if they shoot for "great" in everything instead of perfect in one category and good in the rest.
 
I also tried to see the good in the games and mention that coolness in my comments.

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Sadly, ECK, you were one of the judges who got it right! I say sadly because you were not an official judge. That said, Slicer has already stated he wishes to use your model in a more in depth method so I think next year could be good. Thanks for the comments and sharing your process.

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