Discussion about the MONTHLY CHALLENGE OCTOBER - Time: the leading cause of death


Make your project posts as follows: [TIME] Project Name
and post links here.


  • That's a rather abrupt challenge start... I was expecting a post-mortem of the previous challenge, maybe a roundup and discussion on what could be done better/differently. I really don't feel like the way these challenges are happening is nearly as effective as competitions were at Game.Dev, for instance.
  • We got videos. I even did something :) @karuji said he was gonna put them up?

    I agree that we do need to get some more out of these challenges, so I think the videos will go a long way towards that.

    I'll gladly post up my powerpoint that accompanied that talk, too. I think we need much more of that happening sharing videos AND the presentations.
  • Well, it's more like what's the overall goal of these challenges. Right now the goal seems to be "Help people who don't have an idea of something to make come up with ideas" and that's not really a common problem - everyone creative I know has more ideas than they can ever turn into reality, they need help pruning ideas, not coming up with more. That's why I prefer constraint-based competitions.
  • Videos are being edited, I can just do a rough draft of the one camera and give it to @edg3 to upload.

    But I don't think the videos are helpful. They are static media and you cannot converse with them. As a community forum it needs to be done in text so it can be refferenced on the forum. Much in the same way that @Tuism didn't come to the meet because it wasn't on the forum.

    I raised concerns about this before that the challenge seems really focused on the JHB community. Also the fact that there seems to be a tigsource approach but is no mention of that in this thread.

    The competition is aimed at driving community activity. The last one caused a splugre of posts with ideas, and didn't drive much activity in the way of creating games.

    @dislekcia raised a very valid point that there isn't a kind of post mortem where the community weighs in on how the challenges are run. This is vital for their growth and for them to form a part of the community.
  • What do you mean I didn't come to the meet because it wasn't on the forum? I did go to the meet and what wasn't on the forum? *confusion*
    they need help pruning ideas, not coming up with more. That's why I prefer constraint-based competitions.
    To me that is true.

    And to me the challenges are a way of igniting people's asses to get off it and go do something, whatever it is. I agree that constraint-based challenges are more to the point, but to be honest I think SEEING RESULTS from other people will slowly drive the challenges to be taken up and adopted by more people.

    Although I myself don't agree about the tight deadlines - plural - there's no way I'm going to invest time and energy into more than one monthly challenge in a row because I'd actually like to finish something, sometime.

    Though I've gotten some really cool ideas from the challenges, it will now take time to do anything with them, and if I'm thinking about another challenge, I'm going to be "that guy with the ideas". I don't want to be "that guy with the ideas", I want to be "that guy with the game". (Plural on that last word must be earned)

    So, to me, I think the point is to show people what/how things can move forward, and the best way to show is... erm, by showing. That's why I think the videos and powerpoint type presentations are important for us who have done something - it's like everyone's learning together, and once other people see how easy it is to learn something by doing, they might just join in.
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    Videos are cool, but right now it seems to have artificially limited the most immediate and meaningful part of the postmortem process to those who attended the Johannesburg meetup, which doesn't contribute to the "learning together" aspect much. I'm afraid I have to agree with dislekcia, this thread's appearance feels sudden and token.

    For forum members who didn't attend, there's been seemingly little to no effort put into the overarching structure of the challenge -- a sad state of affairs, since it *sounds* like the effort within the Joburg chapter was actually far higher and there's probably far more understanding and discussion within that subgroup.

    I wholeheartedly believe that newer, shyer developers need a lot more encouragement and guidance than someone just saying "Go build stuff!" -- if that wasn't the case, anybody with an Internet connection and a basic interest would *already* be making games. If you want to inspire people, you need to give them more structure and direction.

    Folks who come to these forums are already broadly interested in game development, and if they're not making something right now, it may be due to reasons that are more complicated than "I don't have a decent theme to work around". The opening post of this challenge thread, for example: don't just tell people to start project threads. Give them suggestions and ideas for things like tools and approaches. Even a basic recap of what the challenges are about would be brilliant -- if I was a first-time member of these forums and stumbled onto this thread now, I'd feel lost and intimidated.

    Link artists to easy-access game creators like Game Maker, supply helpful free sprite packs or remind people of good places to find them ... people who just want to "start up and make stuff" often don't do anything simply because they're overwhelmed. Game making looks intimidating from the outside and you need to spend some time making the competition more presentable for newbies and lurkers (and we know that they're watching ... always watching).

    I'm also surprised that there wasn't some kind of breather between challenges, or at least a round-up thread on the forums discussing the results of the old one *before* the new one started. And Tuism's concern about the deadlines is valid -- in Game.Dev, there was usually a fallow period of one month between competitions to help distinguish them from one another and let people be more focused with their creative energy.

    If we instead have a challenge *every* month in which only half of the usual developer base participates every time, it's going to dilute individual challenges. There needs to be a chance for more focus and deliberation.

    My 2c, ofc. I certainly don't want to sound discouraging, but if these are going to be regular events -- and prominent community-wide ones, to boot -- they're going to have to be refined over time and I personally don't want any considerations to slip through the cracks. Again, this is all stuff I would have mentioned in the feedback thread of the previous challenge if one had been made before this one was started.
    Thanked by 1Karuji
  • @Tuism Nandrew said what I wanted to far more eloquently than I could. I am sad that I have but one <3 to give @Nandrew
  • I don't think I was saying anything different from Nandrew, I hoped that people could see feedback from the challenges by seeing what came out, and what came out (from my own perspective) now are videos and powerpoints that spoke about learnings.

    I don't - from my own perspective - know how else to do a post mortem besides what I did - talk about what I did, and what I learnt. Anyone else has an idea?

    Resources and sprite packs and tutorials etc could be added added but I feel that's a completely different conversation from this.

    More gap between challenges so that challenge could have meaning to everyone (discussion, analysing, findings, learnings) was what I was saying too.
  • @Tuism regarding the postmortem bit, a forum thread and text-based discussions of the projects can be a more direct (and broader) way of discussing the challenge in retrospect.

    Perhaps you're speaking more from the individual project perspective, but I'm interested in talking about the event as a whole, which seems lacking outside the immediate Joburg circle (and I only very loosely know what went on in that meetup, unfortunately).
  • I really like the suggestions make by @Nandrew on "guiding" new comer/aspiring game devs to start creating their first games. We need to "fire" up the community of game devs in SA. Even though we are growing, I really believe that we can grow faster. And it is our responsibility to do just that!
  • Perhaps you're speaking more from the individual project perspective, but I'm interested in talking about the event as a whole, which seems lacking outside the immediate Joburg circle (and I only very loosely know what went on in that meetup, unfortunately).
    My point was actually if I spoke about it, and everyone spoke about it, then we'd have everyone involved speaking about it. Then, it'd be just as you said. I think "Everyone, go talk about the challenge together" isn't as effective as "Everyone, talk about about what you did for the challenge", as the former does this group thing where noone takes ownership of anything. The latter gives people enough control to contribute. But if we could get the former working, awesome. Right now, I'm not seeing it, so I'm taking the latter approach.

    Which is why I'd like to see the vids up as a start, rather than reiterating everything that was said/done at the event.

    Well, apologies for the gap between my intention and my communication :) But I believe we're on the same page :)
  • The night after Joburg meetup I was asked by someone that attended for the first time exactly what the challenge was all about. I think that this highlighted the "abruptness" of the way the challenge was presented.

    For me the goal of the challenge is to give people motivation to do something in a casual setting. Much like a game jam does. And maybe experiment with stuff they haven't before. I know that @Elyaradine said he actually had fun with the coding, which was not the norm for him.

    I support the idea of making the challenges bi monthly. And giving some more feedback, like a thread of all the games/assets that were actually created for the challenge. I just don't know if @ProjectX would have the time to do all this by himself?

    What do you fine folks think about maybe moving the whole challenge to the website. I mean we can still demo and talk about it at the meet ups, but the announcements and things like that we can move to the website, in that way everyone(even people that don't attend any meetups) can take part. And the commencment times and deadlines can be arbitrarily chosen instead of coinsiding with meet ups.
  • Well I just think it needs its own category, to be honest. I know there's lots of hate for categories, but to remove content from here to another site is possibly even more fragmenting. Having pieces drift off I think is counter-productive.

    I think we just need a structure set in place where

    1) The general spirit and purpose of the bi-monthly challenge can be easily seen (to answer "what's this monthly challenge thing?" without being asked)

    2) Where conversations about the current challenges can be easily followed

    3) Where past conversations, results, findings, can be easily discovered.

    For me, that's:

    1) A banner on the front page that says "bi-monthly challenge: Theme", that directs to:

    2) A single thread in the "bi-monthly challenges" category/subforum that says "the bi-monthly challenge is blah blah blah. Here is the <THEME> this month. Last challenge's outcomes can be found here:", link to:

    3) The last month's stuff

    The problem is that noone who can do these things with the site seems to have the time to place structures into place :s
  • I think what we need to establish a culture and community focus to these competitions.
    Nandrew said:
    This article originally appeared in Dev.Mag Issue 26, released in October 2006.

    Compared to most other game development competitions, Game.Dev’s fondly-named “Comps” have always stood out on one particular front: each new incarnation has always set out to challenge, direct and develop entrants within the field of game development. Instead of the oh-so-typical “create a game about kitties and/or mudkips” mentality that many mainstream events focus on, the Game.Dev competitions have always sought to home in on an aspect of game development that people don’t always consider and try to train new developers in the techniques that it describes. Although some may frown upon this method and drop out as a result, those who engage with the competitions often emerge from the experience as more mature and insightful developers.

    I am sure that I have mentioned before that I was against the competition being run at community meets. This was because I was worried that it would become a localized event, which it has. To the best of my knowledge there was no mention of the challenge at the CT meet up.

    We need to establish a culture for the growth of competition. For example @Elyaradine conformed to the theme of Semi-Sane in terms of aesthetics alone because he simply wanted to make something.

    A large problem of theme challenges is that people will make what they want, and shoehorn it into the theme in which ever way they deem ok, and insignificant to the overall result of their game.

    In order for these challenges to have a meaningful impact on the community they need to be location agnostic.

    They also need to have a goal of how each challenge aims to help people make and improve making games.

    I would recommend people read about the growth of the Game.Dev challenges ( [urlhttp://devmag.org.za/2009/10/01/the-game-dev-comps-part-1/]part1[/url] part2 )


    @Tuism why do we need a banner on the front page? If the challenge does well and is good then people will naturally follow it and want to participate. If it is not why direct people to something that might hinder them.

    As far as post mortem, announcement and chaining thing, once again the Game.Dev Comps did it all really well. Comp 22 announcement and Comp22 results

    The thing is that to do a comp like this requires a high amount of time invest
  • So I went and had a look at the Comp22 links. And I must say I am very much liking the competition idea.

    My only problem is that, like was mentioned earlier, it's a really large time investment. So we need someone dedicated that actually has the time to test and judge the games, and write up lengthy posts.
    Karuji said:
    A large problem of theme challenges is that people will make what they want, and shoehorn it into the theme in which ever way they deem ok, and insignificant to the overall result of their game.
    I understand what your saying here, but I feel that if the game goes from an idea to a bad game, then the challenge has accopmlished it's goal(the goal of actually making something).
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    I agree that it should be location agnostic, and it's kinda what we've tried to do, and I think the videos and talking about it here would help towards getting people from everywhere together.

    The alternative is to leave it out of the talks altogether, and have it fully type type type. I do enjoy the verbal presentation format, and I think if we distributed them (so many videos from Amaze and 2 past talks and who knows how many more that we have stockpiled) they'd be a great and easy boon to the conversation that we want to have but not seem to be having.

    Annnnd by and large I agree with all points about the challenges being too open and free form, but at the same time wasn't the point of it to let people shoehorn it into whatever they wanted? There's no point getting artists to try and code, unless they wanted to. Right?

    I say we want a front page banner cos people are asking what it's about. If the basis of the challenge is vague people will not be able to follow up. Especially at this stage where there isn't a lot of participation. Why does the game need a main menu when the gameplay is awesome? Because you need a main menu. Effectively the game.dev front page WAS the one with all the stickies. http://www.nag.co.za/forums/forumdisplay.php?9-Game-Dev
    Right now the front page of makegames is makegames. Unless people skip that and bookmarked discussions.

    We can sticky everything, sure. So then do it :) Just don't have too many. People will then stop caring about announcements.

    The examples provided are really cool, and I agree that those would be great. But does it mean someone needs to do that all by themselves? It's a lot of time. I've put time into my own challenge, and tried to share the outcomes. But I cannot expect someone else to do the same for my project.
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    The Game.Dev comps took a lot of work, yes. I'm prepared to start doing that kind of work on them again though, I just need help with judging. I also don't want to step on ProjectX's toes here, if the challenges can grow in a similar way, taking into account what we've learned along the way, I'd be very happy indeed :)

    What I don't understand right now is why we're focusing on local challenges if they're literally only a theme: In my mind they're significantly less powerful than the international competitions that are going on right now. Why aren't people going apeshit about the Ludum Dare month-long challenge (Make a game, take it to market, make $1), why is nobody talking about Fuck This Jam? It feels like having a site-specific competition/challenge is just isolating us from the international indie community...

    In reality, all we need to do is write threads here about what we're doing (which has nothing to do with where the competition is hosted) in order to boost local participation and learning opportunities.

    I'm not big on drawing artificial walls around ourselves, the challenges right now have a problem with this: Both in terms of currently being a more "JHB centric" thing because apparently y'all don't post stuff if you talk about it at meetups, and because international competitions are where the real growth opportunities are.


    I already have an idea for an art-related competition for arty art peoples. And everyone else too. Should I go ahead and write it up? I'm not 100% certain of the art rules just yet though.
    Thanked by 1Tuism
  • Hmmm, I'm wondering if what @Dislekcia is suggesting might not be the solution to our problem. Instead of managing everything ourselves we just make a community effort to participate in all the competitions already available to us.

    We can still make local noise here, but this way all the management is taken off our shoulders so we can all focus on making games. Anybody else have any thoughts on this?
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    Agreed. Why do we need to "own" a comp? If there are people willing and able to run it, let them do it. We only need participation.

    Only downside I maaaaaay see is that local people might not be inclined to participate in things that weren't made by the buddy next door. It's like going to a gym. As long as we make noise locally it'll be good.

    The current approach of "here's a theme, go do something" doesn't seem to be drawing enough interest. We need more of "give us (community) something, and we'll really give back". Feedback is happening already, though.


    Although, if my understanding is correct, the point of these challenges were to bring in more beginners - these international comps have a very high perceived barrier to entry. "You gotta make a game" is already scary. "You gotta make a game with a deadline" is even scarier.

    I know that's what we're trying to encourage here, but is there a way of easing people into more than "GO MAKE A GAME"?
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    I would like to have local competitions (as apposed to focusing on international ones). I think it lowers the bar for entry and gives participants a very friendly/positive environment to post in (Oooh Yeeeah Sou'africuun games yeeeah! etc)

    (But I'd encourage Ludum Dares etc as well. Especially for those starting out, as many prototypes as possible IS the way to get good at this stuff.)

    I am partial to some sort of front page funneling into competitions like Tuism suggested. Though stickies are good as well (though on their own not quite as prominent)

    This stuff sort of has been discussed before. As I recall myself, @Dislekcia and @Karuji all offered to do some judging/writeups for other peoples' projects. It might be possible to bribe/con Nandrew into helping as well if people are willing to play and criticize his prototypes (which they should be doing anyway because they're interesting and fun).

    So I don't see judging/writing up for competition entries as an actual obstacle.

    Also, I think everyone likes the verbal presentations at meetups. I always present my prototypes at meetups anyway. No one is discouraging awesome feedback sessions at meetups. I think Nandrew and Karuji etc are just saying: Please ALSO do presentations, feedback and writeups on the forums (as the meetups have localized coverage), and only good things come from writing about your game and trying to convey the ideas to strangers far away and listening to them and trying to understand them.

    I think I'd MUCH prefer constraints to themes. I don't follow themes anyway (have you seen my Ludum Dare entries) and constraints can be used to (once again) lower the bar for entry. (eg. An interesting solution to "Make a game with no text" I feel is is easier to solve than elegantly express "Semi-Sane" in a game).

    That and constraints can be used to force participants to focus on specific things they haven't tried before rather than "Theme skinned platformer that I was going to make anyway that I made for Ludum Dare or whatever etc".

    Thanked by 1Karuji
  • @BlackShipsFillTheSky, I agree with the local comps feeling more casual and maybe getting more entries because of it. But we can always present the international stuff here and let anyone one who doesn't want to submit their games there just submit them here instead of to the "official" competition. That's kinda what I meant with make noise here.

    And I agree with keeping the verbal presentations at the meet ups. It's always fun to see other people's games the way they present them.

  • Hmmm... Interesting discussion going on here. No one is standing on anyone's toes. The only reason I started these challenges (note not competitions) is to encourage participation because the JHB community is fairly stagnant (and basically always has the same people participating all the time). I don't want it to be a JHB only thing but people need a place to show off what they've done because there is a lot of noise in the forum, and small challenges can easily get lost in the noise... Any suggestions, that aren't crap, about how we can present at both meetups... Anyone from CPT willing to help out.

    @Nandrew: The point is participation and learning: not necessarily by making complete games but rather game elements such as art, design, sound and writing. Participation... Which can lead to people showcasing their talents, which can in turn lead to collaboration, because then we know the skills available. Since it is not necessarily about making complete games I think it would be stupid to suggest tools and ffs if people want suggestions they can ask for them... they can PARTICIPATE in their own learning experience

    The point of the challenge is participation and all I asked for was an hour of everyone's time... Maybe people should see the presentation (it should be up on youtube somewhere @edg3?) so that they know what it's about...

    Also the postmortem is given via each person's thread which should be linked to an original thread like this one... Since it's not a competition I don't see the need for a single reviewer to write it up.

    @rigomortis: Maybe a challenge every two months is a better idea gives people more of a chance to work on stuff, and less of an excuse for not participating.
  • @ProjectX,

    Well not that it was my idea, but I think it will work better. I submitted an idea for the Semi-Sane challenge, but just couldn't get to it. I know I should drink some from your cup :P but I would have worked more on the idea if I had more time.

    But I like the idea about the international comps a little more now.

    But like you said, the initial idea was participation for all aspects. So we need to make sure that everybody is able to participate. Not sure how the international stuff would do that. I'm sure that there are international art contests as well? Maybe we could use the same model for them as well?
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    Historically, getting people to participate in international comps hasn't driven participation as much as local comps (people have participated, but not in the same numbers and some of those who have participated in international comps haven't shown off locally as their feedback needs have already been met),
  • edited
    Ok, bunch of things I'd like to sort of respond to logically here:

    Challenges to catalyse JHB meetup activity:
    Totally rad. Do what you need to do to make the meetups work. I do, however, feel like the boundary of that problem has been outgrown right now. Perhaps that's due to the community's general want for competitions, but if the challenges are about creating content for JHB meetups, then how they interact with the community at large needs to be understood too. Surely there are other ways to get the local meetups to be busy and interesting? We're not having issue with the CT meetups, generally starting the threads for them early and pushing for content all the time works out. But yes, you do often get champions that regularly create content, that's just how this sort of stuff works.

    So yeah, make sure that the solution to the actual problem isn't causing more problems elsewhere. I think we can be pretty certain that the image of the challenges presented on the forum isn't what they're like to the JHB meetup crew, so there's a big mismatch there that's triggering a bunch of expectations that aren't neccessarily helpful. We need to get on that. Also, are you sure that the challenge focus is the ONLY way to solve that problem? Surely there are ways to make the JHB meetups more active that also grow the forum community at the same time?

    WTF is with the reticence to enter international competitions?
    Seriously. It's not like people outside SA are inherently better at doing everything and thus all the stuff we make is shit. It's not like every time we release something to the rest of the world, Telkom's reign gets extended for a year, ensuring we remain an internet backwater forever... It's this attitude that's doing that for us. Can we please stop it?

    I will start posting about international competitions with the same sorts of support that I did the Game.Dev comps. Perhaps that will help push people to participate in the wider indie community (which are all just people trying to make things, just like you!) instead of insisting on hiding from the internet at large here. There is no "You have to be this American/Scandinavian/British to participate" clause...

    I feel a forum culture of starting threads for any entries that people are working on (no matter where that competition may be based) is much more important to the health and turnover of this community. Plus it neatly solves the problem up above with inactivity at local meetups.

    Things I learned from running 24 competitions:
    It feels like I've been writing this stuff way too much recently, but yeah, here comes the things that Game.Dev taught me and why I feel they're important. Remember, the Game.Dev competitions where what BUILT that community, so they automatically solve the problems of activity, skills growth and learning. Here's how:
    • 1 month on, 1 month off is great. Too often and people burn out. The plan here has been to have 1 month be game design and 1 month be art design, interleaved.
    • Anything longer than 1 month is too long. People will reckon "oh, I can do more work on this later", that never happens and they start entries that never get finished. (1 month comps have a fair number of entries that don't finish either, but they have better results in general)
    • Jams are win. But there's currently a gap in completed stuff being produced - the Game.Dev comps were really good at producing things that had more time put into them than the games that come up from jams, plus we'd have regular polish comps to push people to finish something they were already working on.
    • Constraints are better than themes. I picked constraints in a conscious effort to respond to the types of game design weaknesses I saw in the games people were producing in the community. It worked: The games got better and better, so did their developers.
    • Forcing people to start threads per entry is super important. Games that had threads and early prototypes consistently became better than the ones that didn't have prototypes as their core focus. No, sorry, nobody that built an engine first completed any of their game ideas.
    • Support is also super important: Giving people ideas on how to start out, links on where to find tools (they can always use other tools if they prefer those) and requiring people to conform to certain best practices like including readme files meant that games would actually get somewhere instead of sitting in limbo for ages.
    • Every game got a paragraph in the judging. Every game got encouraging feedback with at least 1 positive thing and 1 thing they could work on. Every. Single. Game. That's the part that took the time. There's no reason we couldn't do the same with non-local comps.
    • Comps built around shared sets of graphics/sounds did not work. Building the graphics set always took way more time than the results merited. It was better to constrain to a specific style or require 1 specific sound/music clip be used.
    The bold allcaps is like the most important community culture part of the old competitions. I don't see why we can't foster the same sort of culture around competitions that we didn't happen to make. Can we apply the above points as criteria to the challenges and see where they're lacking so that we can make them awesomer please? That would be neat :)

    OMG soz walloftext :(
    Thanked by 2Nandrew Actrox
  • The perception of international comps being comes from "these guys are overseas and they're doing awesome work and I can't get any help from them".

    Well, our local guys are doing awesome work.

    So if local guys are getting help from local guys, then that gap is automatically filled.

    So, yes. DO INTERNATIONAL COMPS - IT'S GOOD. As long as locals are active in supporting locals if people are asking questions.

    Which we are!!!
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    I think the drive for participation in international competitions is something quite separate to what needs to be discussed here... Surely that deserves a separate thread? (I don't mean to minimize its importance, just the opposite) (Unless the plan is folding outside competitions/jams into local events)

    But what are we going to do to improve this challenge/competition? If anything?

    And can we form a plan moving forward (with regards to local challenges / competitions). I suspect the negative reaction to the original post has left this challenge a little bit in limbo (although I'm sure some forum users have ideas fomenting). I think there's enough common ground here for something actionable to come out of this discussion.

    E.g. Should we agree to do writeups with feedback (and agree on who is responsible for this) and collate the results of this competition in a results thread (in addition to presenting our work at the meetups). And then run the competitions every second month with the in-between months for art competitions? And will we rank the entrants' work, with a pat on the back for the second place entrant and a pat on the back in addition to a friendly hug to the first place entrant.

    Should this in fact have its own thread rather than roadblock this one?
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    Well, I'm working on an art competition for this month, seeing as that seems under-served here right now. Something I've been threatening to do for a while ;)

    Perhaps the style of that competition can be a first step towards figuring out how to make comps/challenges here more organised and engaging without pretending that we're an island. We'll see, I guess. I know I'll make a lot of mistakes because it's the first time I've done something in this particular area, so feel free to get involved in making that thread hum :)

    (This is also all stuff that I was planning to talk about during the committee meeting, but it looks like it came to a head earlier)
  • I don't think you have to worry about driving the participation of the JHB community. The number of "bums on seats" at the monthly meetings have been fantastic, and the reason you're seeing the same faces is because those are your loyal members! If you have to be worried about anything (and you shouldn't) it should be awareness; making sure new people know there's a monthly meeting. In my experience though, this is best resolved with public events like A-Maze or guest lectures like @dislekcia does at UTC. They have to be specific to game dev or design because, like rAge has shown, large general events don't attract and retain new people.

    I wonder if the problem of pushing competitions stems from the feeling of "we've got this community but what do we do with it" or "how to we keep our members engaged" or even "how do we make sure new members come back" and the only common solution seen has been competitions. Maybe we should ask why are we running competitions?

    For myself, @dislekcia's opinion on using a theme of constraints in the competitions really drives group discussion on mechanics that solve them and, personally, I'd like to see these kinds of competitions continued. It requires a lot more effort on behalf of the competition organizer and it's seen in the feedback of each entry in the results (look at the past results). If you're going to run a competition you must be prepared to put in more work than the participants.
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    I thought we were running competitions to foster new talent and encourage becoming better game developers ourselves? (seems kind of obvious, that was my experience with the Game.Dev competitions, it was always a-chance-to-improve with direct encouragement, I still implement lessons I've learned from those experiences, and the concerns about participation is really just about helping MORE people get better)

    That and this community becoming an incandescent beacon of the foremost innovative game production on planet earth, literally permanently blinding all other game developers with our actinic talent.
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    Can I bring a flip side to @aodendaal's point?

    I see that there are "bums on seat" in JHB, but is that what we want to drive in JHB... People to come and listen? I feel that a great many people come to these meets (and correct me if I'm wrong since I've only been around for 2 jhb meets... Or was it 3?), listen and disappear. Having a turnout is great, but if I could choose I'd rather have a bunch of participating doers who didn't come to meets but were actively posting prototypes here, that is after all what this "support group" is for, not a monthly fix of listening to other people making games to make you feel like you're a game maker.

    So, to me, I think "we have a monthly meeting" is a good start, but I think the "listeners" at those meets would benefit from becoming "doers".

    I apologise if actually many people at the meet are doers and I just don't know about them, but then, why don't I know about them as doers?

    And this question of changing the listening to doing (or participating that will lead to doing) is probably what this competition angle is trying to assist in. It doesn't have to be a comp but it seems to be where everyone's head is at.

    And ya I do agree, it's a lot of time and effort put into running a competition, so, if there isn't enough time from enough people to go around, maybe there are other ways of making doers out of people - accessibility of info, prodding in the right direction, giving people easy stuff to start with, a lot like the tutorial levels on any game. It should be presented right first.

    (edited for clarity)
  • Actinism
    Wikipedia: Actinism is the property of solar radiation that leads to the production of photochemical and photobiological effects.
  • edited

    (Our talent being actinic in nature, of course, in this fantasy.)
  • So it seems unanimous that we scrap these.
  • "Unanimous" might be a strong word...

    For myself, I wanted elements of the challenges improved upon. Particularly the post-challenge feedback and critique (and I'm sure if this exceeds the current scope of the challenges there are members here that will volunteer to help).

    I wanted a thread at the end of the challenge collating the results, preferably with some feedback for each of the participants and the ability for the community to compare solutions to the challenge problem (again for feedback myself and I'm sure others are happy to help if this is a lot of work, which it probably is).

    I think also some people (myself included) preferred constraints to themes, for the reasons argued in this thread.

    I guess I also wanted the challenges to be a run-by-community thing, so that the way they operate is transparent and open to community debate. At some point in this thread positions seemed to me to become intractable, "challenges won't change because they weren't meant to be more than this" and "we must have post-challenge discussion threads for judging" (paraphrased) etc, which is unfortunate for everyone.

    I mean, I don't think there is unanimousness. I think some people (like @Hanli, unless I'm confused) said their preferred outcome was that the challenges should continue, and that there could also be some bigger, more feedbacky, competitions run on MakeGames. That way the challenges don't have to change, but those people who want to have very structured competitions with judging and post-competition discussion on the forums etc can have those as well.

    Scrapping the challenges seems like an undesirable outcome to me. I think they add value to the community.

    (I can only speak for myself, I don't mean to suggest I know what others think, and I can't claim that everyone agrees with me on this)

    Thanked by 2Nandrew Elyaradine
  • What Blackships says makes a lot of sense and is probably a good reflection of what's going on. I think there were quite a few expectation issues that really muddied up the situation, especially from former Game.Dev community members who have become quite accustomed to approaches X, Y and Z when organising group comps (and I suppose "competition" and "challenge" should be carefully regarded as their own terms)
  • I've just posted the Comp A meta-thread which outlines how other people can run the MGSA comps in the future...

    I don't think the comps and challenges are mutually exclusive at all, that perception seems to have come from the different desires that people had for these challenges, that's all... That said, at what point do you look at a system and decide to change it for the better? I'd love @ProjectX to run Comp D, for instance - provided he's not too busy with a challenge that month :)
  • OK, this talk of comps and challenges is confusing, and I can already see this confusing whoever else might come into our group and see that Comp C and Challenge 5 is going at the same time, or something. And part of that would be in the way the site communicates - for example, the category "competitions" signifies there are - indeed - competitions there. So imagine someone going into the competitions section and finding "Comp B - Draw your favourite dog as a fish" and next to it is "Challenge: The rocking of rolling"... It can't end well :P

    TL:DR: I think we shouldn't run two things that are so similar that are called different things. Just call it all Comps, then you immediately know Comp B and Comp C are different, and the content of the comp

    Call it
    Comp A: Pixel Nostalgia
    Comp B: Time Challenge
    Comp C: A game of Ducks
    Comp D: Insanity Challenge

    I think the challenge format that's currently running isn't getting as much traction because it's too wide - it comes down to the good ol' "if you ask people to do anything, they'll end up doing nothing". So I don't really care whether it's called "challenges" or "comps" or "contest" or "cockadoodledoo", it's whatever the meat is in the activity.

    So, if we define the challenge format better, to become more focused or linear - what would it be? (I don't have answers, I'm just gonna explore it below and see if something good comes out)

    Challenge: Time - the leading cause of death.

    The challenge: create one or more of the following according to the theme:
    1) Game art
    2) Music/sound effects
    3) Game story script
    4) Game mechanic

    And create teams between at least 2 people, and mash your two outputs together!

    So, what I tried to do above is to try to capture as much possibility as possible in as concise instructions as possible, giving as much lead as possible. What do you think?
  • Personally I'm against having too many competitions because contestants get spread thin and you'll end up with a competition with only one entrant or worse, none. I also don't like concurrent competitions for the same reason and because it dilutes the conversations. If the people entering a competition and the people providing feedback only have to focus on one competition, there's going to be a lot more consistent conversations.

    Based on trials at Game.Dev, a competitions once every two months strikes a good balance between the community being active and people having a break to focus on work, studies and personal projects. Don't forget that some people continue to work on their entries past the competition dates and there are international competitions like TIGSource, Ludum Dare and others that get talked about here.
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    Yes, definitely. One at a time is much, much better, every 2 months, or different focuses, alternating every one month. Can't really expect the same person to participate (meangingfully) two in a row.
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    (Sorry in advance for the wall of text. Also, I am disagreeing with a couple people, but I want to point out that it's not because I distrust their motives. I think we all want what is best for this community, and I'm really hoping this conversation doesn't become an argument. I don't think it needs to be, we're all just suggesting ways to improve the community, we're all smart people, and even if we followed the most wayward among us that probably wouldn't be a bad path.)

    I am assuming that if the challenges were to continue they would benefit from the guidelines that @Dislekcia set out (if still be customized to @ProjectX's or whoever else's purpose). There are so many good ideas and insights in the Comp A Meta thread. Some of that stuff may require some help (because it IS more work), but I'm happy to help (if that were the problem). (I'd also assume that the challenges wouldn't happen on the same month's as the competitions, but on the odd months, overlapping the artist challenges).


    So I guess some people are saying that the challenges @ProjectX was running, if run alongside competitions, on balance don't add value.

    I don't exactly agree with that myself. I mean, from my point of view it looks like MakeGamesSA.com competitions will go ahead in a format similar or better than the Game.Dev competitions, and that's great. This community will benefit from that.

    As I said "Unanimous" might be a strong word.

    But if @ProjectX or anyone else wants to set other challenges/competitions because they want to jam a bit more... then great. If the worst that is going to happen is a couple newcomers participate in a challenge instead of a competition and there is a little less focused feedback on some of the challenge or competition games... But we, as a community, make a couple more games, even one more game, on balance I see that as a win (that's assuming there is one more game, not the same number of games split between two challenge/competitions, but I suspect one more game is achieveable).

    I mean, I totally believe that you cannot grow as a game developer without feedback, and the quality of the feedback is important, but the sheer number of games you make is a far bigger determining factor in your learning (assuming you get at least moderately good feedback and you don't make the same game over and over).

    I mean, arguing that more challenges/competitions "dilutes the conversations" is a lot like arguing that making more games "dilutes the conversations" or making games in different genre's to each other "dilutes the conversations". (Although I concede that feedback from people who are solving the same problem can result better feedback).

    And honestly. @Dislekcia's competitions are awesome. I just can't see any threat to them by there being other competitions going on. And while he might not be running them forever, I am expecting that his ideas will be passed along.

    But mainly, why I don't like to hear people against having more challenges is it feels a little: "There will be no other competitions on MakeGamesSA.com other than the official ones", which doesn't sound like us (I would think?). I'm all for improving this community, but not for stopping or discouraging people (who aren't actively harming the community).

    And I'll always argue strongly for improvement (and I understand that's what all the other posters here are doing), and I'll complain when people ignore good advice and behave sub-optimally, but I won't argue for people to stop trying (and I'm very afraid that some arguments in this discussion seemed that way to @ProjectX even if they weren't intended that way).

    Otherwise... If challenges do get canned for now... I'd like to see @ProjectX take up a meaningful/fulfilling role in the competitions, rather than lose the value he's been adding to this community (assuming that's what he'd like).

    Thanked by 2hanli skinklizzard
  • @BlackShipsFillTheSky, I think the "Unanimous" comes from the fact that no one has actually done something for the challenge. Or if they did, no one knows because they didn't post it here. And I don't think anyone is actively trying to tell people "don't even try", but sometimes you have to blow up an idea if it's not working, no?

    Personally I think we can call it whatever we want(challenge/comp/ho-down) but we have to restructure it to be more focussed. The only difference between the comp and challenge essentially being that there is no "winner" chosen. Like @tuism said, when you tell people they can do anything, they usually end up doing nothing. I think we can still use the way we generate themes, but we have to add some constraints to the themes. And we need to have a better introduction.

    I don't think the spirit of the monthly challenge is dead in any way. I think there are still a lot of people that want to participate. But we tried it this way, and it didn't work out quite as well. So we need to change it and try again...and keep on doing that until we find something that works. (sound familiar? :P)

    But yeah, all this will require the person(s) running it to put in more effort. So if @ProjectX or anyone else that wants to run this needs my help I'm available as well.

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    I think the "Unanimous" comes from the fact that no one has actually done something for the challenge.
    But I guess I feel that we did the challenge @ProjectX a bit of a disservice. We derailed the challenge completely with this thread. Surely this particular challenge wasn't a fair test? I mean, who was going to participate in this challenge while the form of the challenge was in dispute? If it's fair to "blow up" something that doesn't work then complaining about a challenge becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

    And there actually was the impression that this community was acting very negatively about this issue. Though it hasn't been voiced here. (And it worries me greatly that from the outside we may look like we bicker and discourage more than we help).

    Though I'm not saying I don't think the challenge format should/could be improved. I think you're totally right. Obviously. I think we'll also be improving the competition format @Dislekcia suggested as we go along.

    Also @Rigormortis sorry to be all negative. I guess I'm not actually disputing what you're saying at all. I'd be glad to team up with you or help out @ProjectX or whoever as well. I like your ideas.

    Thanked by 1hanli
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    BlackShipsFillTheSky said:
    If it's fair to "blow up" something that doesn't work then complaining about a challenge becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.
    I'm not suggesting we do this at the first sign of trouble. I meant that not all ideas are good ideas. So we have to figure out how to make it work, or if we can make it work. Obviously I think we can make it work.

    I worry about the bickering thing as well. Not sure how to solve it though, generally the solution for me is to try and understand the people involved better to get a better understanding of what they are trying to say vs what they are actually saying....but not everybody has the time/patience for that.
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    Maybe, if @ProjectX is keen, and assuming he'd like help?, and if there isn't an overlapping game design competition, (so like December) we (meaning whoever is available and volunteers, within reason) could set up a stop-gap informal game design/development competition/challenge based on @Dislekcia's design... There has been a lot of interesting discussion about stealth and emergence recently (for instance) which seems like it could yield some good constraint-based challenge ideas?

    I could try encourage the Cape Town chapter to participate and show off results there (in addition to forum posts for each project).

    Like Tuism likes to say: "We should just do cool stuff". Paraphrased, I can't remember how @Tuism actually phrased it.
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    One thing that has been said that sticks out for me was this:
    But if @ProjectX or anyone else wants to set other challenges/competitions because they want to jam a bit more...
    I think if we call it a jam rather than a challenge it would clarify a lot of things. Yes we want people to produce anything, but in the context of game making. Challenge feels too ambiguous and nebulous for what we're going for, IMHO.

    Then we need clear instructions. This one started with a sentence, a picture and one instruction on how to start a thread, not even dates.

    Then, we need structure and guidance while the thing is going on and to end it off. conversations from semi-sane we're restricted to offline and then it didn't translate to online at all.

    These are all hurdles that must start to be vaulted for this to work, which will unfortunately take up someone's time. If no one volunteers, then it's the responsibility of whoever wants it to succeed to a) find people who can run it or b) run it themselves. If no one runs it, it'll be doomed to flail about like a drowning sloth.

    I'm not saying these things to point fingers and assign blame, we need to systematically improve on what's not working, and that basically comes down to people/person caring enough about something to make sure it succeeds, as opposed to throwing out ideas and hoping other people will do it. I've tried that, it didn't work. In hindsight, obviously it wouldn't.

    We can't use this one particular challenge as litmus, but we could perhaps use the previous one/s. Semi-sane was moderately attended from a select couple of more active members. I think if the above points were addressed we could have a better jammage (that's what I'm gonna call it now), with a clear (lower barrier) start, leading through the event, and a meaningful end.

    Again, sorry if I'm sounding negative, I don't know how to try and improve things without pointing out what doesn't (didn't) work @_@
  • "(And it worries me greatly that from the outside we may look like we bicker and discourage more than we help)."
    This. So much this.
  • Maybe we should have a private section. If we can. And we tried to discuss some stuff via email, but that didn't get a lot of traction. So we need to solve that.
  • @Tuism, who would have access to the private section? I don't know about it...sounds a bit weird to me. I'm totally in favour of calling it jams though :) Also we should do another 48h jam!!! I enjoyed the last one very much. :)
  • Maybe we should have a private section. If we can. And we tried to discuss some stuff via email, but that didn't get a lot of traction. So we need to solve that.
    No private sections, we agreed upon this right from the start, that starts a lot of problems.
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