VNMaker Community Review of IGMC 2017 Contest

Discussion in 'Indie Game Maker (IGMC 2017)' started by watermark, Dec 21, 2017.

  1. watermark

    watermark Veteran Veteran

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    First, winners, congratulations! You guys deserve a big round of applause!

    Next, thank you judges and staff of the contest! Awesome job for running it! It was a wonderful platform of fun and learning for us devs. We do hope you continue this tradition next year.

    Lastly, while it’s still fresh in our heads, I think it’s time for us contestants to give feedback regarding the contest itself. I love this community so I want to see it flourish too. And a better contest means a better platform for all of us. There’s criticism here, but see this as useful feedback from your customers. So, IGMC 2017, here is your review:

    PROS
    1. Really liked how judges feedback were posted on the game page. They’re very helpful. It’s obvious how much effort they put into playing each game. I am impressed. Two thumbs up!
    2. I liked how it focused on just the RPG Maker engine as this differentiated the contest from other more general ones. There’s plenty of multi-engine contests out there, so that’s why we should keep this a RM only one. Of course, it’s most likely we’ll have a VNM category next year, yeah? :)
    3. Anti-cheating measures were stronger this year, and all games got equal exposure due to the random ordering. In addition, with a good number of rtp based finalists, there appears to be no bias toward those with custom art, but rather the judges focused more on gameplay. In general, this contest was more fair to everyone. A big plus!
    CONS
    1. IGMC 2017 was, imho, a much smaller event than the previous two. I am sure it must be because of budget considerations, but from a buzz generating and brand building perspective, 2017 just didn’t have the festivity and excitement of the other ones. I mean in the first one we had celebrity judges, and in the second one we had plenty of drama, scandals, and fights. We even had people running mini promo events and giving away prizes for crying out loud. Very entertaining. This year, the only big “event” was @bgillisp ’s Secret Santa (btw Thanks for running it! Much appreciated.) (Oh...and there was the Protest Vote event, which was quite funny actually.) For me, the bigger the contest the better! Why so? While a smaller pool increases the chances of winning, it’s not all about the money. The money’s nice, but it’s not like we’re talking about a million dollars here. For me, doing the contest is more about matching up against the very best. So the bigger the competition, the greater the incentive.
    2. A pro is also a con. The blind voting greatly reduced cheating this year, but at the same time it lowered the excitement of the “race.” While in previous contests there were some, shall we say, suspicious voting patterns, it was also very exciting to watch the numbers climb on your own game. This could be good or bad. Something to think about.
    3. The contest was too short. This should really be extended to 2 months. From a manpower perspective, it doesn’t cost Degica that much extra workload, and a longer dev period will give you more higher quality games and allow more people to join, which may translate to more successful brand building and sales.
    So peoples, feel free to chime in too. What did you like about this contest? What do you think could be done better next year?
     
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  2. Lord Kuro

    Lord Kuro Villager Member

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    I really liked how involved the participants were during the judging process. All the reviews, forum posts, Lets Plays and everything else was great for feedback and helped me find some hidden gems I would have missed otherwise. The only real con I have is I wished there had been more detail about what can get an entry disqualified.
     
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  3. Frogboy

    Frogboy I'm not weak to fire Veteran

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    I'll second extending the contest out to two months or even a month and a half. Had I had an extra two weeks or more, they would have gotten a much better game from me.

    The only thing I'd really like to see for next time would be clearly laid out judging criteria. Without having any idea what scores you points and what's wasted effort, it makes it difficult to prioritize.
     
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  4. metronome

    metronome Veteran Veteran

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    Pro:
    1. Discord. Even though this is my first time to use it. Thanks to igmc2017, I finally use it... :kaoswt:
    2. Focus. RM games only. Finally.:kaoblush:
    3. Significant improvement on feedback quality. :kaopride:.Unless your game is disqualified due to quality standard and first 5 minutes errors.:kaoswt2:
    4. The results come out faster than ever. I mean, there is no more waiting for more than 3 months for the results! Good job at this front, judges!:kaojoy:

    Con:
    1. Should go for golden reviewer instead of peoples choice.:kaosigh: It has more value in term of marketing, the devs could ask the reviewers to review their games, and still market their games anyway.
    2. Uh......I don't like how they separate the results into two categories, and name them "judges choice" and "peoples choice"....come on....:kaosalute:this makes it SOUNDS like the top 3 winners of the IGMC2017 is less worthy than the peoples choice.........:kaocry:I know this is subjective, but well....
    3. Would be nice to know how the judges come out with the scores they are giving. As much as I love how the feedback quality has significantly improved over time, the scoring system needs work. In the past, we get presentation score, gameplay score, engagement score, and so on, and now in IGMC2017, it all boils down to just total score.:kaosigh:
     
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  5. Nicola

    Nicola Villager Member

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    This is a lovely idea for a thread :)!

    Pros:

    - The community available whilst the contest was going on. Lots of ways to talk to others, get opinions etc. and also when it was finished. The reviews for me have been immensely positive and encourages me to keep on with game making.

    - The personal feedback from judges. I was really not expecting them to take the time to write such a lengthly review as they had so many games to play already. This actually has been the best part of it for me, one review in particular that a judge left me made me feel so happy about what I had achieved and to know they found it fun meant the world, especially for my first attempt at a game.

    -The website chosen (itch.io) really simple to use, easy access to other entries, great! May well use this website in the future, not sure yet!

    Cons:

    - The scoring system. Please correct me if I'm wrong but what I've learnt from the other thread that judging is not based on averages. I feel like it should take averages because then it incorporates all of the judges feelings rather than a game being stopped at 1 judge in particular. Having multiple judges in the first place is generally to eliminate personal feelings and gather the feelings of many to make it more fair. Because not all judges play each game, this, in my opinion should be changed. A judge could rate a game 80/80, then the next judge thinks it's pants and gives it a low score and at which point the game will not pass to the next stage, never knowing if the final judges would also give it a high score. If they took an average of both scores at the start it probably would pass, and then the other judges would be able to play and give their scores. I only realised this from the thread with the table of averages and I was sad to see very high scoring games on average not even make it to the top 20.

    - Judging criteria at the beginning. I think many people felt a bit lost as to what the judges were looking for. Was it an overall fun experience? Was it something new and creative? Was it to show what RPG Maker is capable of? I still feel unsure of what the answer is.

    At the end of this though, I want to say thank you so much. I have learnt so much and I'm now motivated to start game making in the new year, without a time limit yay :p!
     
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  6. Paladin-Cleric of Awesome

    Paladin-Cleric of Awesome Writer Veteran

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    Hmmm... lets see.

    Pro's:
    I enjoy the shorter dev time, it really makes me think and have fun meeting a deadline, anything longer and I don't think I'd ever get anything finished (as evidenced by my other games lol)

    The results were done quickly, which was nice

    Con's
    (Personal)
    The judges comment I found to be very disparaging, from start to finish, about the only nice thing that was said was a backhanded compliment of "not as atoricious as some", which I found quite mean given the amount of time and effort spent on the game. (Not that I'm not saying the judge shouldn't have been harsh, where harsh was due, if there was something wrong I'd like to know, but sometime's it's nice to know if you did something right from a judges perspective, and not just slightly less bad that someone else has done). I feel bad saying it, but it's how I feel. and I hope no one else got a comment like I did. Ah well.

    My other con is that I couldn't quite figure out the people's vote thing. maybe I was just being stupid, but I couldn't even find it! lol.

    My other comment about the competition is that Ii really enjoyed making my game, and will take on board the feedback I've been given to try and make it better (in the new year, hopefully with more maps and more story, and the multiple endings I wanted to implment originally!) And congrats to the winners and hopefully we'll gave another one next year.
     
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  7. Nicola

    Nicola Villager Member

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    @Paladin-Cleric of Awesome

    I imagine honesty is greatly appreciated here, I certainly appreciate it and I have to say, when I saw the comment on Starfall (I don't know the dev but I thought it was a cool game) in the comments a judge said it was a colossal failure and I was shocked to be honest. That would have hurt me if it was my game. Instead they could have said 'well done for trying something new, a bold move but it didn't work for me, here's why etc'.

    Just to add to your comment a bit :).
     
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  8. Plueschkatze

    Plueschkatze Veteran Veteran

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    Pros:
    • We got the motivation to make a game. Thanks for that 'cause it was a amazing experience.
    • I loved all the feedback. Through other players and the judges. I wish I would have had more time to write reviews myself... Sigh. Why is life so hectic?
    • Discord was fun. Tho it took a lot away from this forums.
    • Loved the progress thread and seeing how others developed their games. If there will be an IGMC2018 I'd love to see a thread like that again. <3
    • Collaboration with itch.io.

    Cons:
    • Would have loved to know some of the judging criteria upfront. This might have made some choices a bit more clear.
    • The tournament-ish setup of the judging. I can understand the reasons behind that, but a lot of that is so "luck" based, because if a judge picks up a game that just not "their taste" it's easy that it does not get handed to the other judges which might have enjoyed it a lot more. For example if judge A just isn't into slow or romantic games and wants action, he would most likely prefer to name action type games his top XX games. But maybe other judges would have super enjoyed a good romance. Or horror. Or walking-sim. Or whatever.
    • It was a bit hard to gather information because there were some different places to check and keep an eye on. This forum, event page, discord, itch.io... In our teams discord we had many "You know 'this and that'" - "Oh? Where does this information come from?" - "Yeah, PersonX said it there and there." X'D
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2017
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  9. watermark

    watermark Veteran Veteran

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    @Nicola @Paladin-Cleric of Awesome I agree that judges probably shouldn’t go for the “no holds barred brutally honest” type of reviews in the future. Instead judges should probably adopt a more neutral tone such as “This feature will most likely frustrate players.” Etc. This is because the judges, in a sense, represent the RPG Maker brand in the English world. So their comments should lean towards helping devs improve as it is an official channel.

    Still what I think really happened was probably some judges were dreadfully tired and grumpy after a marathon of games. I know I would be. So they were less careful with some of their word choices.

    Leave the brutally honest reviews to sharks in the forums. XD
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2017
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  10. SinのAria

    SinのAria The Chaotic One Veteran

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    Pros:
    • Faster Results
    • Forums helped breed interaction.
    • Discord helped breed interaction and foster relationships
    • No specific theme

    Cons:
    • People's Choice has always been a popularity contest/marketing contest.
    • Quite a bit that I can't say here.
    • Feedback wasn't standardized
    • Scores were revealed (I actually felt this detracted instead of gave)
    • Contest timing (including announcement period)
    • Only one Category for games.

    @Plueschkatze Believe it or not, whether or not the game was to our taste had very little to do with how well the game did. Experience with the genre could lead to different results (For example, I'm used to RPGs so I unconsciously tend to go the 'wrong way' first), but the scoring had a set criteria that we went off of.

    @watermark @Nicola @Paladin-Cleric of Awesome I'm probably the best known for my brutally honest reviews. My reviews were focused on helping the entry improve rather than trying to be neutral. I understand a few people found offense to that. (A lot of people said for games with multiple reviews, that my reviews were easily differentiated from the others as a result even if there were exceptions). I basically believed in: tell them as is so that they know exactly what needs to improve. Quite a few entrants actually preferred for me to do that. Others were more upset that I did that. On the OTHER hand, I also had complaints when I was too neutral tone with my reviews, so either way, people won't be happy. In which case, I think it would have been better for me to have just been brutally honest the entire way through so that everyone would know all the problems.

    Also, looking at Paladin's review, the judge said nothing about that. I do see that the judge found a game-breaking, progress stopping bug though and actually tried to continue on past it. That might have made it harder to have more to say.

    Finally, I think we mentioned this a few times on discord, but we did say "Make a fun, complete game instead of focusing on padding your content".
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
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  11. Kyuukon

    Kyuukon 主人公 Veteran

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    • Don't spam :)
    >.>
     
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  12. SinのAria

    SinのAria The Chaotic One Veteran

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    Ok, truth was it was just the discord.
     
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  13. Paladin-Cleric of Awesome

    Paladin-Cleric of Awesome Writer Veteran

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    Im not saying I shouldn’t have been disqualified if there was a bug, or that I shouldn’t have been told what was wrong with the game. I’m all for that, but there are ways to say it without making someone reading it feel bad.

    Words like atrocious or colossal failure as @Nicola mentioned are too harsh for any judge to use, I feel. Maybe it’s just me.

    At any rate! Happy Christmas all and I’ll see you all in the new year!
     
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  14. Indrah

    Indrah Megane Berserker Veteran

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    Did someone call me :kaohi:

    To be honest during the contest time I was out doing my own thing and didn't "participate" as much, basically I lurked around the discord and reviewed (read: upset the devs by ripping into) a bunch of sheep. I had not much in the way of hopes for winning so being in top 20 was as much as I could realistically expect.

    PROS:
    >The discord is a nice distraction and got me to reconogize a few folks (for good and bad huehuehue)
    >They were VERY lenient with disqualifications this year, I feel. Which is a good thing because GEEZ some of the ones in the past were so, so painful.
    >No theme, woop. I'd rather do my own thing.
    >Short judging time! Also the judges could be seen in the Discord if you needed to so that's neato.
    >WAY less entries. 400+ was a complete mess you couldn't even fit in your head, 250 is still huge but less humongous.
    >RM focus is nice, less spread around skills and competition.

    CONS:
    >No real announcement or preparation for the contest almost messed me up completely.
    >No way to sort thru the Itch.io page was painful to look for anything specific or make lists. I understand the randomisation to not bring attention only a few but gah it was annoying.
    >People's choice has always been a shitshow but it is what is.
    >I feel like actual RPGs and adventure/VN games should be in different categories or score differently because the workload involved in either is so different, and it almost feels a bit unfair to compare them. Having different prizes would be neat but that would also mean splitting the reward money so I donno.

    I don't agree with either people's choice or judge's 1st but the rest were pretty ok (how dare the world not share my own personal bias? Preposterous!). Overall I spent the time in a frenzy to finish and considering the whack job we did by going way over scope and the mixed feedback....eh, it was all right.
    I tend to have disastrous or mediocre experiences with my IGMC games so this time I didn't have the energy to get butthurt over the bad or mixed reviews as much. No idea if it's me getting used to criticism in a good way or just apathy :kaophew: That's another game added to the pile in any case.
     
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  15. SinのAria

    SinのAria The Chaotic One Veteran

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    Do remember that English might not be the native language of all the judges so what seems harsh to you might seem like a common word to them. (And there is more than one form of English).
     
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  16. Llareian

    Llareian Jack of All Trades, Master of None Veteran

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    Pros:
    • Getting feedback from multiple judges was nice. One judge liked my game for what it was, one hated it! I actually really enjoyed that; it was nice to have the differing opinions to look at.
    • It was great having a game jam connected to our community. I've never participated in a jam before -- or finished a game! It was a really great experience.
    • I loved having it restricted to RM! It put a lot of focus on what you CAN do with the engine. (And oh boy were there a lot of different ideas!)
    Cons:
    • As has been stated, I feel that (at least?) one of the judges used pretty harsh language in their reviews. I shrugged it off on my game because I know it was a hot mess and I just sifted through the harshness to get to the actual points being made, but I can see how someone less confident or who felt they had really accomplished something would feel very discouraged. It's not about the brutal honesty, it's about the unnecessarily harsh wording used.
    • I feel like the forums and let's plays pushed the bias toward certain games in the people's choice. As has been said, it was all about marketing, and a lot of the "let's plays" were free marketing for a particular set of games. (Note that I never thought my game stood a chance, so I say this with no personal bias.) I'm not sure anything can be done to avoid this, though. Maybe limiting the number of votes each person can cast would make them less likely to vote for something just because someone else liked it?
    • There didn't seem to be a lot of engagement from Degica about the jam during the actual jam...maybe that's just because I don't use Discord? It just seemed like we kept being promised info updates and such on Itch.io and they were never delivered. (Shout-out to @Archeia and @Touchfuzzy for keeping the forums updated and answering questions, though!)

    I know I've said it elsewhere but it's back up for discussion here so I'll say it again (and I'm going to be harsher this time, so skip it if you don't want to hear it):

    I can't disagree more with the idea that the jam should have been longer. One month is already a HUGE amount of time for a game jam. If you want to get feedback on a game you want to release commercially, then use the forums, not a game jam.

    I'm tired of people complaining that they didn't have enough time to test, or didn't have enough time to do this, or that, or the other thing. If you didn't leave time to test, you probably wouldn't have even if they gave you another month. If you wanted to include more features than you could add in a month, you probably would have wanted to add MORE features if they gave you another month. If you failed to manage your time properly, you should learn from the experience and move on. Everyone has the same deadline. The point of a game jam isn't to make the best game ever made, it's to make the best game possible IN THE ALLOTTED TIME. (And to learn from it.)

    If the game jam is meant to be inclusive of the whole community, then anything longer than a month will NOT accomplish that. I already pushed my family to the limit with how much time I was taking away from them on a daily basis, but I could justify it because it was "just one month". There will always be a bias toward people who have no family and are unemployed because they have more free time, and that's fine...but if you still want to encourage everyone to participate, even people with full time jobs and families, then I feel that a month is the absolute limit. I know it is for me.
     
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  17. Talonos

    Talonos Veteran Veteran

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    Pros:

    - Time. I like the length; a month is long enough to make a good game, but short enough that you can crunch pretty much the whole time without burning out.
    - Judge feedback. It's really useful to know what they did and didn't like, and the constructive criticism (for me at least) was spot on and very helpful.
    - Judging criteria transparency. I'm going to get some backlash for this, probably, but I feel like the amount of insight we got to the judging process was perfect. We knew that polish was prioritized over number of features, fun was prioritized over art, and that bugs damaged your score. The lack of a specific judging rubric kept people from "checking boxes" based on specific judging criteria. I felt that I knew what I needed to do to succeed without knowing enough to game the system.
    - Focus without Theme: It's tough to compare apples to oranges, and so I appreciate the focus on RPGMaker. But a "Theme" was probably not necessary, and I appreciate that our hands were not tied in that way.

    Cons:

    The only real con, I feel, is in the way the community management took place. I feel like judges should either be barred from the discord, given stricter requirements on how to interact with the community, or screened more carefully.

    I feel like from a business point of view, the goal of this contest is to foster engagement in the community by showing people that if given a tight deadline and small scope, you can make an RPG! Many people who have had RPGs in development hell for years were able to finish something, which is great cause to celebrate! The representatives from Degica (Mark and Touchfuzzy) were invariably encouraging and optimistic. It's clear they wanted people to get excited about making RPGs and sharing them with their friends:

    And the 2017 IGMC Winner is... YOU for submitting a game! But seriously, thank you for participating and being in the minority of people that signed up and submitted a game. It's a big accomplishment and something you should be proud of. We hope the IGMC was a positive experience for you and that you'll continue your creative endeavors whether it be building on your entry or starting something new!
    But then you find stuff like this in the discord:

    Judge: It was like I had gone to a fanfiction site and went and read all the bad fanfiction. Some of the games were like twilight fanfiction. Sorry, my bad. I apologize to twilight fanfiction. Even you guys would be better. >.> There are some games where there was just no hope. Positive: You submitted something. Negative: Everything about your submission. Negative: Default RPG Maker New Project would have been a better game. No, that is optimistic.

    The sentiment of this quote is clear: Some people in this contest should not make bother to make RPGs. This is contrary to the spirit of the contest and goes against the interests of the company that sponsors it.

    It's even worse when judges publicly attack specific people's projects:

    Contestant: <Links to Game> Posted a devlog~ I fixed a lot of the things that made [the judges] want to cry, so far. I can't wait until I finish this frigging battle system so I can continue with the important things like mapping and story >:[
    Judge: But have you fixed the issue of lacking a fun, playable game?
    Contestant: UH... almost. It's...it's definitely playable. "Fun" may be subjective.
    Judge: I see that you didn't deny the lacking a game part.

    I'm not saying there's not room for constructive criticism. There is useful feedback, and non-useful feedback. For instance:

    Death spectres don't attack if you don't move. Spelling needs some checking. I'm not sure how much RNG is involved, but it feels like random item drops can lead to some scenarios where it is harder to progress. A bit annoying that you can't change elements in-battle...

    This is perfect feedback! (and ironically is probably written by the same judge I quoted above.) It is to the point, highlighting specific, actionable issues that, if addressed, can make the game better. Though negative, it is framed to build up the receiver.

    But the majority of judge comments in the discord (which were written by a vocal minority of the judges) were vague, non-actionable, and rude, and mostly boiled down to "We don't want you here. Go away and stop making RPGs."
     
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  18. Marian Hurricane

    Marian Hurricane orz Veteran

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    Has it ever been a consideration to make People's Choice eligibility limited to the top 20 or so scored games rather than just a straight up marketing prize? It might make people feel better if quality seemed a larger part it.
     
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  19. slimmmeiske2

    slimmmeiske2 Little Red Riding Hood Moderator

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    Pros:
    • Judge feedback was (mostly) extensive and results came fast. It would have been nice for some heads-up that the feedback was going to appear on the itch.io page. (No idea if that’s usual for game jams there, but it was my first time using the site and I kept looking everywhere but there :p)
    • The community was great as always. Loved the progress thread and the numerous feedback threads. And the let’s plays! I’m really not used to seeing someone play my game >.< I just kept getting cringe attacks, so I only watched the ending of their LP and see how far they got.
    • It was fun that this was an RM only contest :) (And themeless at that!)
    Cons:
    • Being DQed seemed to be a matter of luck? My game got DQed (rightly so) because of missing font files for Windows 10 players. On the other hand a game that did not include the Ace RTP somehow didn’t get DQed? Now I’m definitely not advocating for this game to get DQed and for mine not too. Results are out, no point changing stuff now. I just want to point out it’s not very fair. I think the judges should delete the RTP they have on their computers before they start judging (because the rules clearly stated to include the RTP). Either that or change the rules. ;)
    • Discord. I didn’t join it because keeping up with the forums, making my game and then discord would have been too much. I felt that this forum was a bit neglected during the IGMC (by judges and users alike) in favour for Discord. You can’t change what users do, but next time could a few judges “hang out” here? :) I'm not saying scrap Discord in favour of the forums, just balance between the two a bit? Honestly reading a lot of posts now by users and judges alike it feels like I missed a lot of information o.o
    Regarding some of the other things people mentioned:
    People's choice is people's choice folks. It will always be a popularity contest. At least this year, there weren't people campaigning for votes (or I missed it?).
    One month deadline is enough. I don't think I'd survive a longer period. o.o
     
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  20. Nicola

    Nicola Villager Member

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    I had no idea how much I had missed on Discord! It would've been more helpful to maybe have one area for all chat like people have mentioned. I look after my toddler and work on other days so I only have time here and there to go on the forums, I couldn't keep up with discord as well.

    Edit x2 on my original post: I've had this part clarified!
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
    #20
    Frogboy, Tea's Jams and slimmmeiske2 like this.

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