Future AM Contests: Evaluation, Deadlines, and Promotion

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Future AM Contests: Evaluation, Deadlines, and Promotion

Postby Mystery » Fri Feb 13, 2009 8:19 pm

As I have promised, I am creating a new topic where the AM community can discuss on 3 major topics:

1) On what criteria should the games in future be judged?
2) How should the deadline be handled? (especially delays due to health related, job related or technical problems)
3) How can we promote the contests better, or what else can we do in order to get more submitted games?

To give you a basic outline of background:
I have received a few different suggestions during our contest 2008/09. Since these suggestions came at a time when the contest was already over, and I have also seen pros and cons for them, I decided to stick to the conditions of the past contests, but to open a discussion once the contest has finished, so that we can maybe change certain things in future.

I am expecting partly contradictory suggestions and ideas, based on what I have received so far.
I think that in the first phase we need to have an open discussion and get different inputs, however my goal is to achieve an agreement in a few weeks, which will probably be a compromise.
I would like to invite you all to discuss your ideas, but please keep a friendly tone :)
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Postby reneuend » Fri Feb 13, 2009 9:36 pm

Ok. I guess I'll start this! :shock:

1. I don't think anyone outside the judges should be voting.
It's impossible to keep it from being a popularity contest. It's also impossible to keep people from multiple voting (just create more userids) or getting votes from people who have no idea what goes into building an adventure game. If its decided that this should be included, then I would at least do 2 things.
(1) Only allow votes from those that have had memberships longer then when the contest has been announced, which also means that only forum members vote. If there was a way to track activity, I would also add that they have to be active members.
(2) If this is used for judging, then it should count as a very small percentage of the total vote. Who wants to win by popularity? I would rather win on the merits of the game.

2. Judging on the different aspects of the game is a good idea. I don't think this needs to be altered.

3. Lead time. I know it seems like a lot of lead time from September to February...it is a lot of lead time. But I'm not sure it's enough for some of these powerhouses like Vairen or Von. Had they had more time, there non-entry wouldn't be an issue. On the other hand, what is a reasonable amount of time? 1 year? Definitely not more then that.

4. I don't think deadlines should be extended. I think if the lead time is good enough all entrants need to respect it and get the work done early enough to make sure their games work and no outside forces keeps them from entering. Maybe allow entering games early but allow them to keep working on it with the right to revert to an earlier version should something unforeseen happen. Bottom line: extending deadlines will always cause some waves.

Finally, I just want to say that its not a right that we get to enter these contests. It's a privilege. We did nothing to earn it. With that, I think we all should keep the attitude that its all for fun. I certainly enjoyed seeing other people's work. I still can't get out of the camper! :roll:

I stayed up all night at different times working on my project (mainly drawing). But I never had so much fun. I am truly geekafied!

This is a great forum. Lets be sure to stay friendly and helpful with each other.
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Postby Zenoc2 » Fri Feb 13, 2009 10:23 pm

Here are my thoughts on criteria, in descending order of importance:

1. GAMEPLAY! This matters SO much more than good graphics, animation and sound.

2. Effort- a difficult one to judge, especially if the participant has not submitted anything in the past. This would only be based on the quality of what you have seen in the past from the member submitting. Effort includes originality- avoid taking artwork and sound from other places. And if the game is a spin-off on a major movie/game/story, it had better be a darned good one.

3. Graphics- I'm rather biased on this step, because I'm used to playing Cyan games (top notch graphics, high on realism. Those guys are good). However, it should look like the creator of the game at least tried to make it look good. And while it would be okay to use art and short animations from other sources, at least some of the graphics should be made by the person submitting.

4. Sound- not music so much as sound effects and ambient sound. It's not essential, but it sure helps with realism.

5. Music- again, biased ( I couldn't even compose a jingle for a commercial), but good music always gives a boost to your game.

As far as judging goes, I think we're all fair enough around here to give votes to the best game, not to the most popular member or anything. So I think everyone should be allowed to vote.
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Postby Chromegloss55 » Sat Feb 14, 2009 12:14 am

Well, if I was to set up a rating system, this is how I would do it:

Gameplay - 55 max.

- Enjoyment - 20 max.
- Interactivity - 15 max.
- Difficulty - 10 max.
- Originality - 15 max.

Aesthetics - 30 max.

- Graphics - 10 max.
- Music/Sound - 10 max.
- Immersement - 10 max.

Build Quality - 15 max.

- Interface - 5 max.
- Reliability - 5 max.
- Presentation - 5 max.

That adds up to 100, giving you an easy percentage. 100 points also gives more flexibility to the judge than 30 to give credit for different parts of the game.

It also places emphasis on gameplay - since that's the most important facet of these games. Some people may not have the tools to create amazing graphics or sound. This system ensures that even without them, a good 70% of the points are still available if the gameplay and build quality is good.

I'll just clarify all the points:

Gameplay - offers the majority of the available score. (55/100)
Enjoyment - how much fun the user had while playing. Were there moments of dullness. Did you want to continue playing? (Offers 20 points - I think enjoying the game is the most important thing so it gets one fifth of the total points).

Interactivity - generally adventure games involve interacting with things, so naturally points should be given here based on how well you interact with the level, the characters, the objects etc. (Offers 15 points)

Difficulty - was the game too easy or too difficult. Did it offer a number of ways to approach a task - one for beginners, one for more advanced players. Are there customizable difficulty settings? (Offers 10 points)

Originality - how original is the game? Did the user try to come up with new ideas for puzzles, characters, themes? Did the game feel fresh or too much like another game? (Offers 15 points)


Aesthetics - offers the next biggest amount of the score. (30 out of the available 100)

Graphics - was the game pleasing to look at? Was it realistic? Did it have its own original style? Was effort clearly put into the graphic design? Are locations/characters/items appealing? (Offers 10 points)

Music/Sound - was the music of a high-quality? Were the ambient sound effects good? Was the voice-acting believable and of a high standard? (Offers 10 points)

Immersement - Did you feel part of the world? Did it draw you in? Was the game atmospheric? Did the characters seem real/believable? Was it an interesting location to explore? (Offers 10 points)


Build Quality - refers to general overall quality of the game and how well it's presented. (Offers 15 points of of 100)

Interface - was the interface well-designed? Were items nicely placed? Was moving between locations easy or difficult? Was the menu nicely set-up and easy to use? (Offers 5 points)

Reliability - was the game reliable? Did it crash? Did all events trigger as they were meant to? Were there any broken links? Were there any script errors? (Offers 5 points)

Presentation - refers to the overall presentation of the game. Is it presented well? Are there nicely laid out menu screens? Does the game feel professionally put together? (Offers 5 points)


Anyway, that would be my idea.

Like I said, I tried to prioritize gameplay, but balance it so that due credit is given for music and sound as well.
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Postby reneuend » Sat Feb 14, 2009 12:30 am

I like your recommendation, Chromegloss55.
Very well laid out.
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Postby Zenoc2 » Sat Feb 14, 2009 2:17 am

Couldn't have said it better myself.
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Postby ZeornWarlock » Sat Feb 14, 2009 3:04 am

A agree with chromegloss too and it is somewhat similar to what I suggested to Mystery when I started rating the games for the contest.

Immersion should go in game-play I think.

The technical aspects of games is also very important, most coders/scripters never get the credit they deserve.

Presentation, graphics, sound and music should be rated by style, not by how real it looks if the goal/vision was not based on this.

Contest publicity should be added to the AM's main page. More participants would probably notice, especially with prizes being mentioned.

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Postby reneuend » Sat Feb 14, 2009 3:09 am

ZeornWarlock wrote:Contest publicity should be added to the AM's main page. More participants would probably notice, especially with prizes being mentioned.
ZW.


Oops! I forgot about that one! It would be nice if AM would post it on their frontpage. I really can't think of a better way to do it, unless you have all the forum member's email addresses and could send something out about it.
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Postby Lyberodoggy » Sat Feb 14, 2009 12:41 pm

I must say that Chromegloss' system is the best one.
Now let me comment on this post by Zenoc

Zenoc2 wrote:Here are my thoughts on criteria, in descending order of importance:

1. GAMEPLAY! This matters SO much more than good graphics, animation and sound.

2. Effort- a difficult one to judge, especially if the participant has not submitted anything in the past. This would only be based on the quality of what you have seen in the past from the member submitting. Effort includes originality- avoid taking artwork and sound from other places. And if the game is a spin-off on a major movie/game/story, it had better be a darned good one.

3. Graphics- I'm rather biased on this step, because I'm used to playing Cyan games (top notch graphics, high on realism. Those guys are good). However, it should look like the creator of the game at least tried to make it look good. And while it would be okay to use art and short animations from other sources, at least some of the graphics should be made by the person submitting.

4. Sound- not music so much as sound effects and ambient sound. It's not essential, but it sure helps with realism.

5. Music- again, biased ( I couldn't even compose a jingle for a commercial), but good music always gives a boost to your game.

As far as judging goes, I think we're all fair enough around here to give votes to the best game, not to the most popular member or anything. So I think everyone should be allowed to vote.



First of all I think Cyan shut their doors a year ago or two... Bad thing cuz they helped the whole Adventure genre advance... Myst is also the first adventure I ever played.

Now I must say that I disagree with the Effort factor... It would mean people like Safayat, whose contest game was the very first game of them I played, would have a disadvantage...
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Postby Zenoc2 » Sat Feb 14, 2009 6:22 pm

That might be viewed as insulting... anyway, I still think it should be apparent that the person submitting made an effort to make a good game (were those animations from some xbox game? They look familiar...).

On a side note, Cyan is still up and running, but they're also still in trouble. They're open sourcing URU Live.
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Postby Lyberodoggy » Sat Feb 14, 2009 10:33 pm

Actually, they are shutting down their server, that's why
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Postby Zenoc2 » Sun Feb 15, 2009 12:16 am

Not the reason they listed. And the servers for URU have been down since Gaymtap shut them down (yes, that misspelling was intentional).

Ah well, enough arguing about the greatest company in the world. I think that Chromegloss has done an excellent job of outlining new criteria.
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Re: Future AM Contests: Evaluation, Deadlines, and Promotion

Postby Lilliputt » Sun Feb 15, 2009 3:43 pm

I am so very new in this place but I hope my thought may still be of some use Image
Mystery wrote:As I have promised, I am creating a new topic where the AM community can discuss on 3 major topics:

1) On what criteria should the games in future be judged?

I agree with Chromegloss suggestion as well because it is very clearly expressed and give both competitor and judge a manual of the criteria of the contest. I would however suggest that the general criteria to the forum contests are made as a sticky so that newcomers, who would like to enter the contest and has no idea about how the previous ones have been held, can easily get an idea of what is expected out of a game. :)

Mystery wrote:2) How should the deadline be handled? (especially delays due to health related, job related or technical problems)

This is a much harder one to answer, I think.
First one needs to agree on what one means with a "dead line" because within the framework of a forum it can mean one thing while outside of this forum it might mean something else. If you like the contest to be attractive to guests who may want to try their wings in a contest you have a choice. Either you specify what you mean by "deadline", i e any contribution after the set date is considered "dead" (for example) OR you do NOT call it deadline but an ending date of the competition and explain that the jury reserve the right to change the date if there are valid reasons to do so such as health related, job related or technical problems.

I would think this is a good way to go about it because any contestant would of course like to be aware that the rules of the contest can be changed, thus the contestant cannot protest if such an event occurs. Just a thought.

Second, if a jury believes there is a valid reason for a deadline make sure you understand the dynamics of the parties involved in a contest. Contestants and contest arrangers do not have the same agenda. Contest arrangers would of course want to have as many contestants as possible in a game because then there is more competition for the prize of the contest. Contestants on the other hand would probably prefer less contestants because that means a greater chance of getting a good place or even win.
Suppose you say that you change the deadline for one or two contestants to be able to finish their games and then suggest that during that short extension the other contestants may improve their games. Would this be fair? Not necessarily. It depends if the contestants have the same problems that need to be fixed. Lets say for example that five out of six have serious bugs. That would mean that those five are able to enter totally new entries while the sixth has no real use of this suggestion thus the competition changes greatly on the expense of the sixth contestant. In real life there would be all kinds of debate and protest if such a decision was made because rules of a game is viewed as a contract between the contestant and those that arrange the contest.
In a forum however it's not a valid argument to suggest that the rules of a contest is a contract between the contestant and the contest arrangers because you have to be a member of the forum to enter. That means there is all ready a contract made that the member has to follow. It is like saying "if you want to enter the world series of this sport you have to be become a citizen of this country and follow our rules". So, it's actually up to the leaders of the forum how the rules of the contest are to be viewed. If you like to view it as a contract you can of course do that or you can simply see it as guidelines just like any other thread with guidelines that may be changeable.
I therefor humbly suggest two things:
- Always motivate your decision to change the ending date the way it was done in this last contest. I think that was a really good idea.

- Weigh your decisions on changing rules with the interest of the contestants in mind. Will the change benefit all the contestants or some more than others? Should it effect the judging of the result or not?

Mystery wrote:3) How can we promote the contests better, or what else can we do in order to get more submitted games?

I am not sure if I am able to give good suggestions since I am so new and have so little knowledge about contests in the past. I would think that you have tried some of these ideas all ready buuuuut anyway....
I suppose summertime is slightly better time to hold contests because you might assume that many are having some spare time to do other things. X-mas is not really a good idea even if it is a holiday because somehow it is a stressful rather than relaxing time for many. Image
Also, if you want newcomers to join a contest it may be preferable to hold a "newcomer" contest, so that ppls who only have the free version or never posted a game before get a the courage to come forward. It may sound silly but I myself and my partner were very nervous at the prospect of competing with Harvester and/or Von Knudenberg for example :oops:
Make sure that the contest is advertised in the main page of AM (not forums). The prize might then be smaller (lets say not the full commercial AM, only one full) than a competition in a more advanced level to make sure that once a member enter a beginners competition and maybe get a good place, they'd like to try a more advanced competition later on. Hold the new comers competition more frequently so that even if only two enter it is still two new members to the forum. :) This way you'll have more members who at least have tried one competition at an early stage, they'll get more experience in the forums and hopefully will gather courage to try more advanced contests.

Also, have you ever tried to make a game where members join as a group to work on a project? It may be fun to create an idea for a short story and then let members have their own chapter in the story that they create. That way you'll have fun while getting to know each other and your game creating ways together ;) Also, new games may then be added to the forums that way :)

I want to add that these are only my thoughts and I hope no one is offended by anything I have said. As I see it most things are only a point of view and there are sooo many point of views. :wink:
Last edited by Lilliputt on Sun Feb 15, 2009 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Jaked » Sun Feb 15, 2009 3:48 pm

Obviously:
1) On what criteria should the games in future be judged?
. They should be judged by sound effects, gameplay, interactivability, and puzzle use.
Also:
2) How should the deadline be handled? (especially delays due to health related, job related or technical problems)

That's a tricky one. Due to people being kicked off the computers, sickness, business trips. There should be a deadline ''week''!
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Postby Mystery » Sun Feb 15, 2009 3:53 pm

Thanks for your ideas so far, I'm curious to hear other members' opinions aswell :)

JFYI, the criteria on which past contests were focusing on were:
Game Play - max. 5 points
Graphics/Audio - max. 5 points
Atmosphere - max. 5 points
Puzzles - max. 5 points
Originality/Player Engagement - max. 5 points
Interface - max. 5 points
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Postby Vairon » Sun Feb 15, 2009 8:27 pm

I must say that the system of Chromegloss is quite good, the idea of 100 points
gives more freedom to the judges and the distribution of points is ideal.

-The criteria, I should not have too much as this may delay the work of judges,
the list of Chromegloss are well. But I would add one more as a bonus, if a game
includes a feature not listed in the main criteria (making of, unlockables content ...)

-Dead-Line, a difficult subject. I think 3 to 4 months is enough to make a game
of a certain quality, we will not create a masterpiece (do it for fun). And do not
extend the time under any circumstances, we must respect the other contestants
who work hard to get your project done on time.

-Could be add categories as individuals or groups. Each with its own criteria.

-And finally add one more award: Acc?sit, for those projects that highlight but do not
reach the level desired by the judges.

Anyway, the judges (and especially Mystery) have done very good work, my
congratulations.
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