Who's up for a little competition?

Posted by RC on May 11, 2016, 1:45 p.m.

Introduction

It's been a while since we've had a good ole fashioned game development competition 'round these parts, and I've got the itch to try to make one happen. There's something about putting together an event where creative minds come to make awesome things and compete for prizes, and possibly stick around and become new, regular members of the community. It's a win-win for all involved, except if you lose, I guess!

I want to know how you people feel about having another game development competition soon. I know some of you who used to participate in competitions or make games more regularly don't really do it much anymore, either because of lack of time, lack of interest, or something else not mentioned.

In my case, I don't really make games anymore because I've got too many ideas floating around in my head and not enough time to decide on which to use. Competitions and jams can somewhat alleviate the "too many ideas" predicament by providing a theme(s), though time and simple lack of interest are much harder reasons to overcome.

Timing

The biggest factor within a competition is its timing. When does the competition start? How long does the competition last? Is there anything that the timeline for the competition is going to interfere with for most participants?

As I mentioned above, the lack of time a person has free for game development can and will be a deterrent for some. As such, a longer deadline should provide developers with enough time to make something happen.

Some might argue that a longer deadline will give those who have the time to work on their entry throughout the entirety of the competition an unfair advantage; while they might have the advantage of more time on their side, you have the advantage of your idea and your execution.

More development time doesn't make a better game, and as such shorter competition deadlines can invoke some pretty awesome games from developers who can work quickly on their ideas and have the free time to do it. Shorter deadlines might mean less people will be able to enter, but then again it might benefit those who can.

Back to more development time, with a lengthy deadline, developers are more vulnerable to procrastination and waiting until the last minute to start work on their entries. This can either be a trait on their part or simply due to the lack of motivation to work on their project, which may or may not be simple to handle from the perspective of hosting a competition.

Taking all of this into account, I propose the competition start Saturday, June 4th and last until August 8th. This is a 9 week, 2 day (65 day) deadline. To put it in perspective, Scary4Digits 2014 lasted 7 weeks after the deadline was increased towards the end of the competition so people could finish their projects.

Themes and keeping things fresh

While you can host a competition and tell developers to make whatever the heck they want without giving any sort of direction, having a theme makes things more interesting and actually helps developers figure out what they're going to make.

I'm usually a fan of more vague themes that are open to interpretation because I feel it allows the developer to be more creative, but if your theme is too vague, developers might have a harder time coming up with something to make because you're allowing them too much freedom to work with.

I'm not saying more restrictive themes such as "post-apocalyptic platform shooter" are the way to go, because with something like this you're essentially forcing developers to make the same kind of game. It's just that vague themes, such as "arcade" or "banana," don't really provide the entrant with much to work with in order to settle on something to make.

This blog might be all over the place, but let me switch back to timing for a minute. With longer competitions, you have the potential for developers losing interest. Unfortunately, if you lose interest with something then you probably weren't really into it to begin with, but is there a way to eliminate some of the potential for developers to lose interest in the competition/their project?

What if - now bear with me here - every week or couple of weeks throughout the competition, a new theme, objective, goal, or whatever is introduced that can/must be incorporated within your entry in some way? These things wouldn't be crippling to anyone's project - just simple things to make things a little more interesting.

I realize that when you're working a game for a competition, you don't want surprise requirements tacked on in the middle of it that will completely alter your project as that would do more harm to a developer's motivation than good. These requirements/suggestions could be voted on by the entrants before they're tacked onto the competition, thus providing a little bit more community interaction throughout the event.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about: the competition theme is "beach party," so entrants start developing games utilizing the theme. A week or so passes and it's proposed that your game must incorporate something else… a list of things would be provided and entrants could make suggestions of their own, and after a short period of time passes, entrants would vote on their favorite things and the winning thing would have to be added to the entry.

I don't know if this would do more harm than good, so I'm asking for opinions on this matter. For now, though, this is my proposal: 1 non-restrictive, not too vague theme with community voted requirements tacked on as the competition runs.

Name of the competition

Right now I haven't settled on any name for the competition. I've been thinking of "Fun Under the Sun (FUTS16)," "Summer of Fun," or something like that. It's a competition that's taking place during the summer. I know "Summer4Digits" or something like that would be following the naming convention of some of the other competitions which we used to host regularly, but I think something else would be better suited for this one.

Conclusion

That's about all I've got to say right now. I want to know how interested you would be in this competition, as well as your opinions on my proposals for the deadline, themes, names, and whatever else. I'll summarize those bits below.

tl;dr proposed details

Starting Date: Saturday, June 4th, 2016 00:00 UTC

Ending Date: Monday, August 8th, 2016 00:00 UTC

Theme: 1 non-restrictive (but required), not too vague theme, with additional simple, fun requirements which are voted on by the community.

Comments

Zuurix 7 years, 9 months ago

I'd join competition. I'm pretty busy with Sector Six, but I'd love to create something nice and small for competition.

Yes to more time.

Theme? How about we make many different games but set in same world?

Everyone could add something to The World.

E.g.: Platformer set in The World's desert, RPG in swamps, underwater puzzle game in ocean.

Maybe even different time periods? Past, present, future? This way we could have both sci-fi and fantasy games.

Some elements would always stay to remind that it's in The World. For example two moons in the sky.

Probably not good idea for competition, but I got nothing else.

LAR Games 7 years, 9 months ago

I actually really like the idea of multiple games set in the same world.

Jani_Nykanen 7 years, 9 months ago

Yes, a new competition, please! (I'll write more thoughts later, I'm just here to say I support this idea)

We could call the competition "Goofy4Digits", because Goofy.

colseed 7 years, 9 months ago

im supposed to be doing another/bigger game project over summer but i guess i could try making a small thing for this if i get time

Quote:
Everyone could add something to The World.
i have no idea how this would work in practice (since presumably each person would be fleshing out some corner of said world that they find interesting, but if two of them take on the same part it could contradict?…i guess that could be part of the fun tho) but it sounds cool

the additional requirements RC mentioned could then be developments that occur within the world that may or may not affect how the various games go down, maybe

Iasper 7 years, 9 months ago

I'd join the competition if I can team up with someone. I've been feeling like getting back into the game dev community recently but since I'm sure I won't be able to get anything done on my own (graphics keep haunting me), I'll just be waiting here in case people need anything I can offer.

Moikle 7 years, 9 months ago

Lets avoid that theme zurix because it means story, and most of us won't want to use a story for the short time span we have

It is a cool idea, but I doubt it would be very effective in the short time slot

nap 7 years, 9 months ago

I would participate. The same world idea would only work if it was something vague and each game didn't have to relate.

Mega 7 years, 9 months ago

I'll be down for it.

@RC: Those "milestone" changes are a good idea, though I'd say be sure to keep them optional or simple enough to implement without potentially breaking people's existing ideas.

@Cyrus: A wrapper/landing page would be a great idea, though it'd be easier if we had an API ready to go for things like comments and such. I'd be willing to help with that where I could.

RC 7 years, 9 months ago

@Zuurix: I really like that idea, but like others have stated it'd require a bit of planning/writing for it to work properly. Perhaps that can be used for another event in the future as it'd be really interesting to see how it'd all come together.

@Mega: Any additional goals tacked on throughout the competition should definitely not interfere with the already in development entries, which is why I think leaving it up to the community to decide what gets added is a better idea as the entrants would have a better understanding on whether or not something's feasible.

@Cyrus: If you're planning on making a page for the competition, I wouldn't worry too much about functionality as long as it works well enough for this one competition. If all goes according to plan, I'd like to start the competition on the 4th, which means the page would need to be up and running prior to then so we can attract more entrants and potential sponsors.

I'm not trying to pressure you or rush you or anything, but I just don't want you to think it has to be perfect if you're going to do it - it just needs to work.

aeron 7 years, 9 months ago

Quote: Mega
I'll be down for it.
Don't let it distract you from your other project!

RC, Cyrus I'm willing to help out on the competition site thingy. Let me know if you need help setting things up on the server.