Talk:IGDC Summer 2008

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Summer 2008 - Theme Restriction?

(David Artman 11:23, 28 December 2007 (EST)) OK, I realize that we've talked about running the IGDC as alternating open and restricted competitions, from season to season. However, I'd like to resurrect that discussion, with regards to doing a themed competition for Summer 2008. Why? Well, I find that the Iron Game Chef competitions (which are always themed) yield very rich, creative content precisely because they choose evocative--but not obviously associated--terms from which the competitors choose. Therefore, I am setting up this topic as a sort of two-part poll:

Should the next IGDC be themed? (ex: Pick Three Terms from "stone, cold, spin, age, light, organ")

Note: Please provide some explanation of why you reply Yes or No, so that we can potentially work around objections or can better see problems with theming that we haven't considered. You don't have to write a paragraph, but I'd ideally like to see more reason behind a choice than "just because" or "I dunno; I just don't like it." See my reason in favor for an example of justification.

YES

  1. David Artman - Because evocative theme terms can steer designers into uncharted creative waters. Changing vote to favor mechanical restriction below.
  2. James Hazelton - What Artman said. However, I think "pick two terms" would be better than "pick three terms."
  3. Jorge Arroyo - I love how limits encourage and focus creativity, and "thematic" limits seem interesting. It will also encourage people to create games specifically for the competition instead of just submitting older games. BTW, I'd like the terms to have some coherence between them, so that resulting games share a common "meta-theme", and I think I also prefer "pick two terms". I rather have one competition with a restriction and another one without.

NO

  1. Avri Klemer - let the juices flow where they may. We've had a decent submission rate for the 2 most recent Contests, but I'm afraid this may dry up if we add restrictions. In addition, defining "themed" looks likely to lead to even greater disharmony than the 2HOUSE debate. How intrinsic must a theme be to "count"? Does a pasted on theme count? If so, what's the point of theming at all . . . ?
    If I may answer here, maybe the best is just to let judges rate games taking the theme into account... if a game is not relevant to the chosen words, then it won't be rated as high... --Jorge Arroyo
    Personally, I'd rather the best game won, not the game that best fits an arbitrary theme . . . --Nycavri 15:38, 29 December 2007 (EST)
  2. While themed contests may lead to more interesting contests, unthemed contests lead to better games, because people aren't throwing away good ideas because they don't fit the theme. Jwolfe 07:24, 29 December 2007 (EST)
  3. If we're going for two IGDCs per year, I think that one of them should be entirely open; the other can be themed or keyworded or product-tied or whatever. The current IGDC is themed; the one for the previous summer wasn't; make the next one unthemed as well - effectively, the Summer IGDCs become Opens, the Winter IGDCs become Limiteds. -- FreeTrav 07:48, 29 December 2007 (EST)
  4. If the Summer IGDC is themed, and the winter IGDC is design restricted, that leaves no opportunity for some games to ever have a chance of entering, except under a very specific set of circumstances. Even if the mechanics or theme are submitted by fans, that would give an unfair design advantage to people who already have a game lined up based on those mechanics or that theme. In the spirit of creativity, I would prefer that the summer IGDC have no restrictions, and the winter IGDC have restrictions based on either mechanics, theme, or components. More than one restriction could work, but if everyone has to design games, for example, that use a set of martian coasters, with a medieval fantasy theme, in which color does not designate what pieces belong to a player... I could see that limiting the number of submissions for that contest. (Actually, I think I can make a game using those restrictions. Nobody steal that! ;) ) -- Jason Darrah 11:20, 29 December, 2007 (EST)
  5. I'm inclined to agree with Jwolfe and Jason.— Timotab Timothy (not Tim dagnabbit!) 13:05, 29 December 2007 (EST)
  6. I think we get stronger contest entries with fewer restrictions. Cerulean 08:32, 11 February 2008 (EST)
    I have to agree with this . . . --Nycavri 16:31, 19 February 2008 (EST)
  7. Jason Spears - Unthemed is better, the pyramids are pretty abstract to start with, trying to paste a theme on is tricky. If they have to be themed, then you need to define what constitutes a theme. Is Volcano themed? What about Treehouse? My vote is to not add this restriction. - Ok, I'm convinced, a restriction can fuel creativity more than hinder it.--Jason 15:29, 13 March 2008 (EDT)
    By the time a discussion move to a "future archive" page, it's no longer open for debate. The Summeer 2008 IGDC will be an open-design competition. --David Artman 13:54, 14 March 2008 (EDT)
    Vote as you will, but "is it themed" is a red herring--check out the Iron Game Chef for a very successful (and even profitable, for some winners!) way to run a themed competition. They actually are expected to vote for games based on how the theme is evoked (or not), so it's up to each individual judge to decide. Really, folks... this isn't innovative at all; it's a proven way to stimulate creativity. --David Artman 16:26, 19 February 2008 (EST)

Suggest a list of four or five terms, from which we will do a follow-up poll, should the poll above resolve as "Yes".

Note: When choosing terms, try to choose terms which serve as multiple parts of speech (noun and verb, noun and adjective, all three; ex: "light"). This allows designers to be more flexible in the application of the term in the game design. Furthermore, recognize that a term could be employed in a different tense or conjugation of the base term and still be valid (ex: "aging" or "aged" instead of "age").

David Artman - stone, cold, spin, age, light, organ I am no longer supporting a theme restriction. Instead, I am supporting the mechanical restriction that a submitted game may not use a board or arbitrary board (see next major section). David Artman 12:14, 21 February 2008 (EST)

Jorge Arroyo - flow, time (I'll try to come up with some more...)

Discussion

What I love about these kind of competitions is when entries are created specifically for the competition in question. Theming a competition is a way to limit the contest to new games. Of course, there's always the chance that an older game meets the criteria, but it's small. I like these word associations because they steer creativity. The goal is for the theme to direct the design, not to shoe-horn an existing design into a theme... When games that were created earlier and have been extensively playtested compete against new games that had little chance of being played and corrected, it seems a tad unfair... -- Jorge

I agree with Jorge, in that theming is most valuable because it spurs new designs. While I also can see that some designs might "resist" theming, or that someone might not submit a game because they can't work within the theme, I doubt that someone with a cool game idea wouldn't do it at all, just because a themed competition is in progress. Put another way, the points above that suggest an Open competition "fosters maximal creativity" presume that someone would not even make a game that didn't fit the competition, even though they like the game idea. I think that's spurious logic, at best; as it creates a binary situation out of a multifaceted one. In reality, there would be the following continuum of entries:
  • New games, designed for the theme (good!).
  • Old games which accidentally fit the theme (fair enough).
  • New games which shoe-horn into the theme (weak, but the judges should be able to tell and should rank accordingly).
  • Old games reworked to shoe-horn into the theme (weak and lame; again, the judges should be able to tell).
So, basically, we have to ask ourselves, "What is the point of the IGDC?" If it's merely to provide kudos, then this whole discussion is moot--the most complete, tested games will always win, regardless of gyrations about theme or mechanics or products. BUT, if its purpose is to increase the stable of games while also providing a crucible in which new designs are refined (my belief, FWIW) then theming (or another restriction) is perfect precisely because it fosters new designs--the more wild or esoteric the theme, the more likely that no current games fit it and (as such) the more likely new games will come out of it.
Frankly, if there are designers out there with good game ideas that are sitting on them until they can "win" a competition, I have little concern for those folks--that feels very selfish, to me. EVERY good idea I have is pushed forward, here--half-baked, fully formed, whatever. I, for one, do not need a competition to make me make games; rather, I look forward to the competitions as both a challenge and a great opportunity to get focussed attention on a game, for the ultimate good of the whole community. Winning and losing is, in my opinion, utterly orthogonal (and irrelevant, in the end) to that ultimate goal.
I invite others to reconsider their objections, in light of the above points about what I feel is the real "purpose" of the IGDC. David Artman 10:37, 2 January 2008 (EST)
I agree with what David said and I'll add something more: I'd actually welcome a restriction based on creation date. The only problem I see with this restriction is people that keep their designs secret hoping they'll meet a future competition's requirements... --Jorge Arroyo
I wouldn't worry about it. In the future, when some designer cries that he had 'that idea' that sold millions of units YEARS ago but never put it down in writing because he was waiting 'for the right contest': well, give them sympathy at least...and probably a smack for being so stereotypical.  :) User:Cinnibar

Summer 2008 - Mechanical Restriction?

I don't want folks thinking the above is the only thing we could do. In fact, having been looking at IGDC entires from the past two competitions, I am switching my vote to a mechanical restriction, specifically make a game using Icehouse pieces which is not a board (or arbitrary-board) game!

If I had to guess, I'd say over 70% of all games on the wiki are board(less) games, meaning that they play in a defined space and rely on (some of) the nature of that space in their rules. As contrasts Icehouse games which, perforce, must be played on a surface but which give no meaningful mechanical weight to that surface in play (e.g. Zendo, Moon Shot, Stacktors!). So, list under here any other mechanical restriction ideas you might have, as Level 2 headings (two equal signs before and after the idea):

I think we should keep the restrictions to one contest a year. I think this was already discussed on the list and it was suggested we do an unrestricted Summer competition and a restricted Winter competition. I'd agree with this idea. -Jorge

Is Not A Board (or Arbitrary-Board) Game

  1. David Artman 13:52, 12 February 2008 (EST) - I agree, to expand the current breadth of the game library, rather increasing the depth of one game category.

Restriction on Extra Components

Jason Spears - On the Icehouse list, there was mention about how too many extra components can reduce the number of people who will try a game. I think we should make a list of extras that are allowed. Below are possible suggestions.

Do you mean to make this a general rule, or a restriction for the next competition? If the former, good luck (odds are slim); if the latter, you should (as suggested below) clarify that you are proposing a mechanical restriction on what extras may be used in a submitted game (fair enough--decent notion). David Artman

Allowed Extra Components

  1. Treehouse tube, Treehouse lid, Treehouse die
  2. Standard deck of playing cards
  3. Regular dice (D6)
  4. Martian Coasters
  5. Chess Board
  6. Backgammon Board
  7. Any custom board, so long as it fits on two 8.5x11 sheets of paper and is provided with rules?
  8. Go Board?
  9. Other dice (D10, D8, D4, D12, D20?)
  10. Colored Stones (ala Zendo)
  11. Piecepack - (This is certainly a debatable extra, perhaps someone could do a analysis of the percentage of people who own both Icehouse Pyramids and Piecepack sets?)
I only own Looney Labs games plus a combination chess/backgammon board and a deck of playing cards, so I can't play games requiring Piecepacks, a Go board, or any dice other than D6's (which I bought at a grocery store). Plus, I don't use stones for Zendo, but I borrow poker chips: green/white is yes, red is no, blue is a guessing stone. I like the idea of custom boards included with rules, as long as they can be printed on no more than 2 pages.
I took the liberty of sorting the extra components based on Treehouse-ness and availability, but note that if we replaced colored stones with poker chips, its rank would rise to just under regular dice. The more I think about it, though, the more I feel that we should limit games to just the top 3--the most widely available game accessories--as well as a printable custom game board. -- Splooge169

Requiring participants to provide feedback for the other entries

For those not reading the Icehouse list, there's a discussion about this going on. I proposed to require entrants to the contest to write a short paragraph of feedback (3-5 lines) for all the other entries in the contest in order for their own entry to be valid (this would be submitted along with their votes). This way, in order to benefit from entering the contest, getting your game played and getting feedback from the other designers, you have to provide feedback for all the other games too. It's a fair trade off, I think. Also, judges should be encouraged to provide feedback for the games they are voting for, but not forced to.

I really like this idea because it promotes the contest as a way to exchange feedback and make an effort to play each other's games. It won't reduce the number of judges, and it will increase the amount of feedback for all the entries right when the contest ends. Thoughts? -Jorge

Order of entries in contest box

At the risk of re-starting this argument again (I REALLY REALLY don't want to do that), I'll say that my opinion that the contest box shouldn't have the entries in winning order holds for this contest too. Although it seems this time there wasn't a technical tie (My understanding of the judging system is small, so if someone else wants to explain, they're welcomed), there were still too few judges. For what is worth, last contest (some) people voted and decided not to put the entries in winning order (of course, each designer is free to show whatever information they want, this is just about the default box). However, based on my experience with last contest (and the flamewars that followed) I'm not doing anything about this (except state my opinion) It's just not worth it. Cheers, -Jorge

Winter's solution should be fine: make a v2 box, if you want to obfuscate the results of the total ranking. As for there being a "default" box--I've already made the v1 box, using the same format as all previous IGDC. If you want to deviate from tradition, go for it (it's a wiki) but don't change the "default" (I'd say "traditional") box format, as it is already in use on at least one page (Atom Smasher). David Artman 16:17, 14 August 2008 (UTC)
That's exaclty my problem: Things get discussed, sometimes voted on, but then nothing changes... I'm not going to be on top of this issue every time there are too few judges, I just don't care enough and no one seems to care either, so as you say "tradition" just wins by default. -Jorge
The decision from last time around still stands: individual game creators may decide how to display contest results on their games. - misuba 16:44, 18 August 2008 (UTC)