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WoA IV - Looking towards WoA V.

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slicer4ever

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Good day to everyone, with the WoA IV wrapping up i'd like to create another yearly post-mortem from my perspective on things, and what i have learned this year for next year.

First of all i'd like to apologize for the initial announcement coming the way it did, I tried to silently skip out on the responsibility's for this years event, and that was in poor form, and i'm quite sorry for doing so. This year moving forward I'm going to work with khawk to try to move this contest into a more official capacity, this well likely mean some changes to the way things are handled, but for the most part i'm fairly certain this will result in a better contest in years to come. Unfortunately we are in the early stages so their's not much i can say in this regard. As for the contest itself, I feel we have begun to form a solid smaller community around it, as numerous entrants were returning contestants! I hope most of you can return for next years as well.

What went right? This is really the first year that i had several volunteer judges, for the most part finding a suitable judging team is quite the challenge, and it was pretty great to have most of that burden disappear almost immediately. I also liked the idea of only taking the top 3 scores in each category, Sometimes one judge just doesn't see the game the same way the others did, so I think this helps very much in those cases where a game is being brought down by one judge, but it also doesn't necessarily dismiss that's judge's opinions as well as they might have still given it a higher score in some of the category's. This helped yield a very tight scoring regime this year, in which most final scores ended up in the upper 70's/80's. I also think the more spread out prize pool was a nice thing as well, i know the lower prize pools were fairly small, but It's still something nice to look forward to. Going forward I'd like to keep a similar prize pool, my only worry with this is handling ties. This year i decided to duplicate the prize and give it to both in that prize, but if it happens on the top 3, well my wallet wouldn't be as friendly to doing so. I may have to consider in the future how to handle such situations(split that pool, or duplicate it if it's one of the smaller prizes). This year was probably the smoothest ran so far, I've learned quite a bit on the do's and don't's of operating this event now, and It's getting a fair bit easier to manage.

I also quite enjoyed competing this year, It's probably my only regret of running the contest is that i generally don't have the time/energy to throw something together. I competed the first year when cornstalk's handled things, and my performance then was hampered, and it showed in the end result unfortunately. This year i feel a bit redeemed in that regard, and am very pleased with my entry(even if i can't win any prizes :( ). Still it was enjoyable and demanding to be a contestant, and I know how orymus3 felt when having to switch gears after the contest and throw on that judge's hat.

What went wrong? Competing was a bit of a double edge sword, once the weekend started I about dropped most of my responsibility's to stay on top of participation, which lead to a fair bit more work after the contest to backtrack several days and get everything caught back up. I also made an absolutely terrible mistake with DKoding's game in that i initially packaged an older build, and still feel pretty bad about that one slipping through :(. Lastly SotL turned me onto using google spreadsheets, and while i made it work this year. It was not nearly as nicely formatted as the work he did last year, the only thing i felt i did better is that i added auto detection for finding which games the judge's have judged(which actually wasn't necessary this year).

what changes to expect for next year? I actually have pretty much nothing i want to change right now, and until me and khawk figure out exactly what needs to be done to make it an official competition their may be a number of changes that need to happen in that regard. Riuthamus has offered to help me construct a sort-of starter asset pack that can be used by contestants that don't have an artist, as well it seems that helper system was not used at all, so it might be a fairer compromise if instead of offering helpers, we provide some asset package that can be used.

Overall this year was again a pretty solid year, and i want to say thank you to all the contestants that competed, sponsors that helped with the prizes(stormynature, and iedoc). as well as our judge's that took time out of their schedule to give each entry some great feedback(JoshP, bacterius, and NightCreature). Also one last thanks to [color=rgb(102,0,102)]Thaumaturge [/color]who once again goes above and beyond in participation, I don't think their was a dev journal you didn't comment on(well maybe a couple). Till next year!

P.S: I'm open to any idea, so toss anything out you think might be worth changing, and I'll keep it in mind for next year.

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"and I know how orymus3 felt when having to switch gears after the contest and throw on that judge's hat."

Do you now? :P

To be fair though, this year's gone relatively smoothly, and I managed to get sleep most nights, much unlike WoA2, had I not been gone on holidays after, I feel I could've taken on the judge cap.

Quite strangely, playing through the entries didn't take nearly as much time (though I'll admit I didn't get 2 of them to run as of now...)

 

That being said, I realized I forgot to mention in my post-mortem the usual intro: thanks for taking the mantle again this year. WoA has quickly turned into one of the most powerful and the very few community engagement initiatives I actually look forward to. There's something about it (returning contestants, the friendly vibe and encouragement to talk, etc.) that just feels better than any other game jam I've seen to date, and it feels much less about competing than doing and completing something. I always feel better by the end of the event, even when I have some self doubt, because by the time the ratings come in, I get to learn something, and I crave for getting better.

 

If I may however make a comment on this year's formula... I see the value of having several themes, but I feel they should be far more polarizing and far harder to build around. Let's face it, Zombies was almost an excuse to build any game. Had the competition been just 2 themes: Evolution vs Ruins for example, it would've been a lot more challenging, and more importantly, by the competition's end, I'd have a lot more people who chose the same themes as me to compare against and sort of see the "path not taken". To me, seeing how the others interpret the given theme is all part of the fun, and if we just went our separate ways, I feel there's a bit lacking. And of course, as I just said, if there are easy ways out (Zombies), then it's easy to escape.

 

Perhaps a total of 3 themes, regardless of visual or gameplay, and "more than 1 word themes" could work?

- Once upon a time in Alkabest

- There are only 2 stones

- Matryoshka(sp?) dolls 

 

Just my 2 cents, as a contestant (and former judge :P)

 

Thanks again for making this happen again this year!

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This year moving forward I'm going to work with khawk to try to move this contest into a more official capacity, this well likely mean some changes to the way things are handled, but for the most part i'm fairly certain this will result in a better contest in years to come.

 

Ah, that's interesting, and encouraging, I think! I'm interested to see what comes of this. ^_^

 

 

This year i feel a bit redeemed in that regard, and am very pleased with my entry(even if i can't win any prizes :( ).

 

Given that you were running the competition as well as entering, I think that your result was somewhat impressive!

 

 

Riuthamus has offered to help me construct a sort-of starter asset pack that can be used by contestants that don't have an artist ...

 

That's an interesting idea--it might call for informing the artist of the themes ahead of time, but I rather like it. That said, it might somewhat undermine the "graphics" scoring category.

 

If this idea is employed, and the "graphics" category remains unchanged, it might incur a bit of a risk-reward scenario in that category: taking the assets is fairly safe; conversely, using one's own art is risky, potentially placing the entrant either higher or lower than those using the assets. Whether such a risk-reward scenario is desirable I leave up to debate!

 

 

Also one last thanks to Thaumaturge who once again goes above and beyond in participation, I don't think their was a dev journal you didn't comment on(well maybe a couple).

 

It's my pleasure--I hope that my responses helped! ^_^

 

(And I'm pretty confident that I skipped a few. :P)

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I do like the idea of an art assets bundle for contestants to use, especially if it fits with the themes (or even if it's general-purpose really). It's hard to foresee how well that will work in practice as it would ideally cater for the wide variety of games that people might want to produce. I would primarily urge that the licensing is made clear, perhaps even free for commercial use should anyone wish to take their games further.

 

I had a couple of thoughts about the themes -- I enjoyed the freedom to pick and choose from a set of themes this year because maybe one doesn't grab you. However I wasn't too convinced with bounding the themes to be used only for either gameplay or graphics, I felt that I would have preferred them to be more freely interpreted.

 

What Orymus is suggesting above sounds good; I would probably expect to be choosing only 1 multi-word theme in that case though (not two).

 

On a cheeky note, what would be nice for next year's theme choices is to make a break away from the life/death themes (past themes include: what if dinosaurs were alive, the toys are alive, death is useful, undead). I imagine the theme selection is made using some messed up PRNG that really wants livings things to be dead and dead things to be living ;-)

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If I may however make a comment on this year's formula... I see the value of having several themes, but I feel they should be far more polarizing and far harder to build around. Let's face it, Zombies was almost an excuse to build any game. Had the competition been just 2 themes: Evolution vs Ruins for example, it would've been a lot more challenging, and more importantly, by the competition's end, I'd have a lot more people who chose the same themes as me to compare against and sort of see the "path not taken". To me, seeing how the others interpret the given theme is all part of the fun, and if we just went our separate ways, I feel there's a bit lacking. And of course, as I just said, if there are easy ways out (Zombies), then it's easy to escape.[/size]
 
Perhaps a total of 3 themes, regardless of visual or gameplay, and "more than 1 word themes" could work?[/size]
- Once upon a time in Alkabest[/size]
- There are only 2 stones[/size]
- Matryoshka(sp?) dolls [/size]
 
Just my 2 cents, as a contestant (and former judge :P)
 
Thanks again for making this happen again this year!

 
That might work, switch back to only requiring one theme, but provide multiple choices, I'll give it some mulling over.
 
 

Riuthamus has offered to help me construct a sort-of starter asset pack that can be used by contestants that don't have an artist ...

 
That's an interesting idea--it might call for informing the artist of the themes ahead of time, but I rather like it. That said, it might somewhat undermine the "graphics" scoring category.
 
If this idea is employed, and the "graphics" category remains unchanged, it might incur a bit of a risk-reward scenario in that category: taking the assets is fairly safe; conversely, using one's own art is risky, potentially placing the entrant either higher or lower than those using the assets. Whether such a risk-reward scenario is desirable I leave up to debate!

 
Yes, i've considered that might be a bit of a tricky problem to tackle with asset creation being done beforehand.  I also can't have him make alot of things unrelated to "throw him off" so to say, as that's wasting his time pointlessly.  but maybe coming up with a generic pack of starter tiles or graphical assests that can be used regardless of theme might be a good way to start.  as for the graphics category i think their is still room even if you used the artwork in how they are presented to the player.  but I'll give that some more thought.
 

I do like the idea of an art assets bundle for contestants to use, especially if it fits with the themes (or even if it's general-purpose really). It's hard to foresee how well that will work in practice as it would ideally cater for the wide variety of games that people might want to produce. I would primarily urge that the licensing is made clear, perhaps even free for commercial use should anyone wish to take their games further.


Yes, i agree licensing has to be made fairly clear if we do create something, It most likely would received an MIT license for redistribution.
 

I had a couple of thoughts about the themes -- I enjoyed the freedom to pick and choose from a set of themes this year because maybe one doesn't grab you. However I wasn't too convinced with bounding the themes to be used only for either gameplay or graphics, I felt that I would have preferred them to be more freely interpreted.
 
What Orymus is suggesting above sounds good; I would probably expect to be choosing only 1 multi-word theme in that case though (not two).

 
That was a difficult decision, literally up to the moment i clicked submit for posting the start of the contest I was unsure if I should or shoudn't restrict the themes to gameplay/graphics.  I really don't know which would have been better to go with, and actually kindof like the idea of going back to the old theme's but with a few choices instead.

On a cheeky note, what would be nice for next year's theme choices is to make a break away from the life/death themes (past themes include: what if dinosaurs were alive, the toys are alive, death is useful, undead). I imagine the theme selection is made using some messed up PRNG that really wants livings things to be dead and dead things to be living ;-)


Yes, I'll try to make sure life and death are taken out of the pool for next year :P

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