Who's up for a little competition?

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


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.


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.


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.


RC 7 years, 11 months ago

@Littlebear: Thanks for the suggestion. I don't really want to add any limitations to the entries aside from the theme/rules: I just want entrants to come up with fun stuff to throw in as the competition progresses, but I'm starting to think requiring the entrants to use those might be the wrong way to go. Adding incentives to use these little goal things (such as the points system you mentioned) would unbalance the system too much, I feel, and it should either be disqualification for not using them or just not making them officially required.

In other news, I'm considering bumping back the start of the competition by a few weeks to give myself some more planning time + more time for a competition page to be made. Maybe a June 25th start date with an end date of September 5th? The biggest reason I was wanting to avoid ending it in September was in case we were doing another Scary4Digits this year - we probably wouldn't want to hold two competitions too close together, but there's nothing pointing to there being another competition anyway.

Jani_Nykanen 7 years, 11 months ago

Maybe a June 25th start date with an end date of September 5th?
This sounds much better. I have enough time to finish A Journey to Eternity before the compo.

Acid 7 years, 11 months ago

Two months is a dangerous length of time - the shorter an event, the less likely people will be burnt out/give up

If you want sponsors, make the landing page ASAP, get a marketing plan going, and start pushing promotion/contacting NOW because contacting sponsors at the last minute won't get you much love

Good luck

RC 7 years, 10 months ago

Sorry, guys. Plans for the competition have to be put on hold for now due to reasons. I'll hopefully be able to host a competition at some other point in time (preferably soon-ish)… maybe Scary4Digits 2016? #s4d16

RC 7 years, 10 months ago

Precisely. Postponing the competition gives me more time for planning and preparation - I've been too busy to deal with any preparations right now, and I really don't want to put together a competition and not go all out on it.