VNMaker Community Review of IGMC 2017 Contest

Jaiden

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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.
This is actually widely out of context and this was directed towards my game and the "contestant" here is me. The judge in question and I joke about this all the time, and I actually appreciated their blunt, aggressive, honest critique, so I think this is a very poor example. I actually think you should remove this quote, since you didn't ask me if you could use it in this post, or if I was even offended in this situation. (Which I wasn't).

I know for certain because this judge has checked with me multiple times to ask me if I found the comments offensive, and I've consistently reinforced the idea that I want this kind of critique and I want to be able to make these kinds of jokes.

Stuff like:

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.
Is an obvious joke, and all of the members of the discord at that time found it absolutely hilarious. If you are taking something like this seriously, then honestly I do not think you are fit for a world of development. This field, like many others, requires thick skin and the capacity to joke about our shortcomings.

I would not want it any other way. Blunt honesty is a necessity in the world of production. If I don't have someone suggesting to me that my game has severe problems (bugs, misspellings, etc), then I am losing. In a world of cut-throat competition like game development, there is no "participation" trophy. This stuff is absolutely important and losing this judge in particular would be an absolute shame in my honest opinion.

If not the harsh criticism now, how are you going to respond to the reviews from players upon your games release? Or, worse yet, the lack of players because your game was not top-notch?
 

Volrath

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Judge here. I have some thoughts too.

Pros
  1. We met all of our judging deadlines with time to spare. Without celebrity judges taking their sweet time, the four of us finished our work ahead of schedule and actually were able to accommodate a judge who got sick suddenly by taking a few days off and we still had plenty of time.
  2. Itch.io was a great site to host all the games on. Everything was easy to navigate.
  3. Most importantly, the experience of getting to play so many interesting games during this contest. It's an absolute privilege and I was delighted by a great deal of the entries. Not just the top 20 but many others that had a lot going for them but suffered from bugs or simply not keeping up with the scores of the heavyweights.
Mixed Bag - Discord
It was extremely useful for us judges to confer and for the most part, community interactions were positive (with a few major exceptions but hey that's what the banhammer is for). I agree that it took some attention off these forums and if you didn't know how busy it was, I could understand the feeling of being left out in the cold.

Cons
  1. Once all the judge feedback was up, it was clear we should have come up with a more standardized approach. Some broke it down by category, others didn't, some were more detailed, others were more concise, etc. A consensus about what constitutes good etiquette would also be worthwhile. For what it's worth, I did my best to be respectful and polite even when I had scored a game pretty low.
  2. Confusion about the importance of gameplay vs. narrative. There were games that were basically visual novels and others that were full traditional RPGs. The possibility of incorporating a separate category for more narrative-based games has already been mentioned several times and is something we'll have to address.
  3. The People's Choice Award is the "Get Out the Vote" award. That's how it's worked every time. It's possible we may be able to have a "Dev's Choice Award" where you would have to be an entrant with a submitted game to vote for your favorite. We'd also have to find a way to keep people from voting for their own game or we'd have a 250-way tie.
Really enjoyed this experience and I hope to be able to judge again!
 

Talonos

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Please note that I specifically complement the blunt honesty both at the end of my post and in the "Pros" section of my post. I just don't condone the part in the middle, which doesn't contain any actionable or useful feedback.

I can ignore people who rage at my game without justifying their position. Not everybody can. And this contest is supposed to be for everybody, not just "the serious developers." My thoughts go, for instance, to the impressionable middle-schoolers who pick up RPGMaker for the first time and eagerly try their hand at an exciting new hobby. Do we want to be elitist and push out everybody but the "cut-throat", or do we want to have an open and encouraging community? I'd assume Degica would want the latter.

Please also note that many people lurking in the discord do not have the full context of most remarks. Some people don't have time to monitor the discord all the time. My usual pattern was to pop on, find anything written by somebody with red/green/purple text so I knew what the "officials" were saying, and ignore the banter and off-topic remarks. That judge's colored text and position of authority set him up to look official, and his statements therefore reflected poorly on the competition staff. (Related: This is why Indrah isn't a problem. She's not set up to appear as a representative of the contest as a whole.)

I am glad to know that you didn't take that judge's comments personally. That was context I lacked. I thought you were trying to laugh it off to save face. (Because what else would one do if somebody in a position of authority attacked you like that?)

But it was also context that many people lurking on the contest discord might lack. Good community leaders require the ability to watch one's words and statements to avoid misinterpretation.

And everybody requires the ability to take feedback. I still think it would be healthy for the contest to have community interaction guidelines for the judges.

You (and perhaps Degica staff) may disagree, and that's cool; not everybody needs to accept and act on all feedback. But I stand by my criticism. I do not believe comments like that are healthy for the competition, or for the community culture.
 

SinのAria

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It is amazing what you can get when you take things out of context or combine multiple things together in a new way. Especially on a chat channel where you might have hundreds of different conversations happening at the same time.

For example:

Cons:

The only real con, I feel, is the community.
would be quoting Talonos, but taking out the context and cherry picking. (Note guys, that was out of context).

Honestly, I feel that if we had to all obey the rules to the letter on discord, we wouldn't get as much fun interaction. Sure, we could all be hard and not break any rules and start handing out warnings and bans like candy. Does that make for a fun discord or would it be more fun for the judges to be part of the community and not something separate. If you wanted official, we had those channels too (though most aren't serious anymore since the contest is over). Realistically, we should have hidden the judges so that you couldn't identify any, but... At least some of us figured that people would want to get to know the judges. Which, based on discord interactions, most people did.

The off topic and such channels were supposed to be a place where everyone could just hang out, not for serious discussions (we had a channel specifically for that, though I think it is gone now). It was a place to mingle and get to know each other, form connections, and more importantly, just have fun.
 

AtlasAtrium

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Sin, context is definitely important, however, context or not it is certainly still true your online presence in the discord essentially boiled down to 'hey, I'm going to smacktalk every single entry and developer, isn't that funny?' Maybe you or some other people found it to be funny or harmless, but I know a lot of people who were discouraged and insulted by your persistent need to put down their hard work and pass it off as a 'joke.' You can argue your case however you like, but ultimately the 'it's your fault for being offended i was just joking' defense only makes you seem like more of an ass.

This is not about 'obey all the rules to the letter,' this is about literal common courtesy. There is a big difference.
 

SinのAria

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I think really the only issue is that with how I act being similar to Indrah, that I had color in my name (even if I went out of my way to make it hard to take me seriously).

@AtlasAtrium Anyone that contacted me that they felt insulted, I went out of my way to not comment about their games and such anymore and tried especially hard to be nice on their feedback. I won't say how many of them were mad that that included my feedback for them.

I have had quite a bit of feedback via PMs saying that my feedback, despite being harsh (and sometimes a bit rude), was very helpful in knowing what to fix.

Also, the worse I talked about the game, the more expectations I had for them. If I completely trashed a game, it was probably because I wanted the dev to improve the game because I wanted their game to do well. (There was I think one exception where I legitimately couldn't find anything good about it, but I didn't mention the game by name).
 
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Talonos

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Yeah, after having spoken with Sin extensively via PMs, I think I get where he's coming from. He was just sorta acting like Indrah, where he was joking around a lot and talking smack about stuff. I get the idea he didn't realize that if he had colored text, he would be taken seriously, despite his best attempts to try not to be.

While my feedback stands, let it be known that I am not angry at Sin, nor do I think he's a bad person. This is all just a serious misunderstanding to be corrected next contest, not a witch hunt.
 

Tea's Jams

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First off, I would like to defend SinAria. It was a general chat forum, and not supposed to be taken seriously. I never took it seriously and I mostly lurked until the contest was over. If someone takes offense at what was said there, well they don't have to go on there and read it. It wasn't meant for anyone to find "official" information. I personally feel like the opinions of some here border on the oppressive.

Pros:
The contest itself! So much work went into hosting this contest and it was a real blast!
No theme
30 days
Discord
The progress thread on the forums
The judging process
The awesome participation of people who did LP's and live streams of the game to spread exposure. (To those who thought the exposure spread was uneven... if that's how you felt why didn't you do LP's to remedy that? The fact that you didn't bother means that this particular opinion holds very little weight for me. Also, I LP'ed both popular and unpopular games I thought pretty evenly.)

Cons:
The winner of the popular vote, lol. (Sorry Dezue, it just didn't float my boat) But it is what you would expect from a popular vote. Someone made the suggestion that only games that make it into the top 20 are eligible to win that vote, I second that.

Umm, yeah.. that's it.

 

Frogboy

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I think many people felt a bit lost as to what the judges were looking for ... Was it to show what RPG Maker is capable of?
I can say with absolute certainty, it wasn't this.
 

SinのAria

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I can say with absolute certainty, it wasn't this.
I can say with absolutely certainty. We were hoping to see some interesting technical games.
 

Ksi

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I can say with absolute certainty that we wanted to see good games that were polished and interesting, with great gameplay, story, graphics and direction. We were looking for the full package and a lot of games just didn't put as much into one or two areas as they did the others, or overlooked the polish, or made their games too difficult/not as fun as they could have been.

It's always great to see the different ideas that come from a competition like this but it's also painful to see how lack of one aspect can really hurt a game's overall presence. There were some really great games that were hurt by bugs, but there were just as many not-so-great games that had interesting and fun ideas but didn't quite make enough of one area over another.

As for pros and cons:
- PRO: The support for the judges was really good. The discord helped us connect with you guys a lot more and I've personally received a lot more thanks and supportive comments than complaints. I know that some of the others have gotten unlucky in that regard but apparently the appreciation has outweighed the rest.

- PRO: Mark is awesome. That is all.

- PRO: The judges all got along well and we all supported each other. I won't say there weren't some disagreements here and there but we each did a great job of letting each other know of any issues that we had (for example: I was very sick at one point during the judging and the others were very understanding of that) and providing support for each other where needed (another example: testing to check if games that wouldn't play on one judge's computer was a hardware issue or a game issue).

- PRO: The community interaction on the discord was great. People really supported each other and there was no judgement against those from outside the RMW community (I had a fair few of my RMNites jump on the discord and they were pretty welcomed). It was heartening to see everyone getting along and not only enthusing about each others' games but also helping each other out where they could. And those who went out of their way to play others' games and give feedback were just great representatives of what we should aim for in this community. Thank you everyone who went out of their way to help and support each other. You're all awesome!

- PRO: The site itself was a great idea, especially after the cock-up from last time which resulted in losing all the first IGMC games due to reusing the site for the second IGMC (and thus overwriting the game pages that already existed). Leafo was especially great about helping us out when it became apparent that we needed a few changes here and there (like when it was realised that one of the judges had written well over the 5000 character limit for the judge feedback boxes <.<; ). Shout out to Leafo!

- PRO: I am honestly glad with the winners we got. Would I have liked to see others jump to the top instead? I don't really know. The games that did win were, in my personal opinion, the ones that should have won. Not that there weren't games that did x or y better, but as overall games that were judged on all aspects, these are the ones that had to win because they ticked all the bases - fun, innovative, interesting in both gameplay and story, looked good and most of all, worked. There were more polished games, yes, and more interesting ones, but not ones that were both to a better degree. Quite frankly, I think these ones were the ones that deserved to win and I have no apologies to give when it comes to saying that. :shrug:

- CON: The announcement of the competition was a little rushed. It was also set at a time of year when a lot of other things were going on, not only for the judges but for other communities in the RM field. Having it set at this time of year instead of Summer, as well as the lack of lead-up to the competition, probably accounted for much of the low turnout.

- CON: We should have had a standardised sheet of some kind for the judges to fill out when it came to feedback so that there wasn't as great a discrepency between the different notes as there was. Granted, some of us probably still would have written too much (>.>) but it would have helped to have it all set out and easier to fill in.

- CON: The discord community made it that some who wanted to interact wouldn't since a fair few people still don't use discord. It also made the judges far too easy to harass (and yes, there has been harassment, including telling people to kill themselves and die. That kind of thing is NEVER okay. Ever.)

- CON: The transparency of the scores and judgements. Frankly, the way some people have reacted based on it is dumb, especially if they didn't check the last IGMC and how that was set out. That said, we're still learning the best format so there'll likely be some changes made next time but whether they'll be liked or not is to be seen. We're still refining the judging process.


It's funny to note that each IGMC has an... issue... each time that games tend to fall in to.
The first IGMC had a lot of base games (that is, games that were using the default everything to make games with). Also pretty games with no substance bar "Look at how pretty I am!!!"
The second IGMC had a lot of games that didn't have any explanation on how to play the games. There were no instructions and in a lot of cases, no lead-ins to inform you of what you needed to do (either to win or to play).
This IGMC was bugs. Just... bugs. All of them. All the bugs. SO many bugs. XDDD
 

Roden124

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I can say with absolute certainty that any phrase repeated in succession is just begging to get memed on. :kaoswt2:

I haven't played any of the entries, so I'm not hinting towards anyone with what I'm about to say. These are just my general thoughts.

What seems to be a trap for many ambitious entries is the difference between being good and being good for an RPG Maker game.
Impressive feats do not automatically translate to quality; it's quite the opposite in many cases. A short deadline only emphasizes that.
If you're fixin' on winnin', being too innovative is a real risk, so the best bet is to do something new but familiar. People have it in their heads that the only way to stand out is to go above and beyond, which is true. Winning isn't easy...but it doesn't have to be that hard either!

RPG Maker is a friendly engine ripe for exploration, so challenge is alluring. If you're challenging yourself, there's no problem with that. However, if you want dat money, challenge what the program can do for you instead of what you can do for the program. The spirit of the contest will flow through you and you will become a god.

Pretend you're publishing your submission as a commercial game, gamer expectations and all. If you really expect to win, you're shooting for the real deal and you must be prepared for that. An action FPS made in RPG Maker, however marvelous, won't cut it. Of course it's possible, in the same way becoming an Olympic skier with no arms or legs is possible.

Play to your strengths and know your limits. Become one with the RPG Maker! :kaohi:
 
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SinのAria

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I can say with absolute certainty that any phrase repeated in succession is just begging to get memed on. :kaoswt2:

I haven't played any of the entries, so I'm not hinting towards anyone with what I'm about to say. These are just my general thoughts.

What seems to be a trap for many ambitious entries is the difference between being good and being good for an RPG Maker game.
Impressive feats do not automatically translate to quality; it's quite the opposite in many cases. A short deadline only emphasizes that.
If you're fixin' on winnin', being too innovative is a real risk, so the best bet is do something new but familiar. People have it in their heads that the only way to stand out is to go above and beyond, which is true. Winning isn't easy...but it doesn't have to be that hard either!

RPG Maker is a friendly engine ripe for exploration, so challenge is alluring. If you're challenging yourself, there's no problem with that. However, if you want dat money, challenge what the program can do for you instead of what you can do for the program. The spirit of the contest will flow through you and you will become a god.

Pretend you're publishing your submission as a commercial game, gamer expectations and all. If you really expect to win, you're shooting for the real deal and you must be prepared for that. An action FPS made in RPG Maker, however marvelous, won't cut it. Of course it's possible, in the same way becoming an Olympic skier with no arms or legs is possible.

Play to your strengths and know your limits. Become one with the RPG Maker! :kaohi:
A little more to add to that. If you experienced with the engine you use and the language that engine uses for more complex tasks, then yes, a more complicated and ambitious goal might work better for you simply because you are able to take advantage of that experience and knowledge.

However, when you aim to do something that is potentially at the limit of or even beyond your capabilities at the time, you are setting yourself for high risk, high gain. If you manage to pull it off, you have a lot to gain, but anything short of that and you basically tanked your entry.

It is basically a matter of setting realistic goals. Do the best you can, but remember your own personal limitations. I saw a LOT of ambitious projects that would have done great in the hands of others, but did poorly because the dev set an unrealistic goal for themselves. If they had been a bit less ambitious, they would have done better and even potentially won. On the other hand, I also saw what was basically the opposite. Games where it was clear that the dev could have done more, but held back so much that it ended up suffering.

It is a matter of balance. No matter how harsh I might sound, remember that if I am harsh about your game, that means I played it. Take what I say into consideration. It might not fill you with warmth and happiness, but it will give you an idea of where to improve.

There are a few skills that are key for any good game dev. Here are a few, some that many people don't consider (note that it doesn't have to be one person that has everything):
  • Being able to take critiques.
  • Marketing
  • Balancing goals with time, money, and other capabilities.
  • QA
  • Understanding of [fun] vs novelty. (and other elements of a game)
  • Building relationships (PR).
 

Llareian

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The awesome participation of people who did LP's and live streams of the game to spread exposure. (To those who thought the exposure spread was uneven... if that's how you felt why didn't you do LP's to remedy that? The fact that you didn't bother means that this particular opinion holds very little weight for me. Also, I LP'ed both popular and unpopular games I thought pretty evenly.)
@just1witness you may have or may not have been responding to me here, but I feel compelled to respond in case I gave the wrong impression. I don't see the Let's Plays as being a problem here; in fact, as you say, it built up exposure...and let people see games they might not have had the time or interest to play.

My feeling is that the problem was with the voting system. Unlimited votes meant that I saw a lot of people basically saying, "Well, since you played it and liked it, I'm going to vote for it"...and they may not have even watched the video. It might have been a game they would never have voted for if THEY had played it. This applies to the reviews as well. As I said, I don't know that there's a way around this...it's just basic human nature. But again, I think this is more to do with the voting system than the fact that there were reviews or let's plays.

(Also, I didn't do let's plays mostly because I lack the technical knowledge. I've never posted a video to YouTube. I don't even know if I have the requisite software to MAKE a let's play video...but you've challenged me to find out, and I'm going to! I like being challenged, so thanks! :))

I also do appreciate that there was an effort made to play games that didn't have LPs yet. Maybe if there's another IGMC, the community could divide up the games to rate and/or make videos. That would be really neat!
 

Indrah

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The LP bias is nonsense. Plenty of LPers (if not all) took requests. Anyone who wanted their game played could have just asked.

Also I forgot to say:
CON - DEMOS. GOD DANGIT THE DEMOS. So many demos. NO DEMOS dangit! Completed games only! :kaolivid:
 

Tea's Jams

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@Llareian No LP'er had anything to do with the voting system. I personally chose to allow myself only one vote, it went to my favorite game.

I'd love to check out your videos if you do it! :)

Also I forgot to say:
CON - DEMOS. GOD DANGIT THE DEMOS. So many demos. NO DEMOS dangit! Completed games only! :kaolivid:
Also, yes. I second this too.
 

Suoish

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Thanks much for the votes! :kaoblush:

Personally liked the Itch format, ease of use, and page customization.
Also loved the Discord server, really helped see what was out there and communicate with everyone.
 

MikomiKisomi

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This was my first IGMC that I participated in (I actually originally got my first RPGM back at the last IGMC humble bundle sale, but I never considered entering IGMC back then) but I overall liked it a lot!

Pros:
  • Discord! I absolutely love Discord (alright, maybe as a mod of a few servers I'm semi-partial to it) and being able to talk more frequently with other devs was a great experience to get more integrated in the community, since I'm still really new to the RPGM community.
  • Itch.io! Again, I love Itch.io, so I loved using it for the jam.
Cons:
  • Less feedback. I'm not the first to bring this up, but I do feel like more feedback could have been given, whether for individual games or through a more indepth judging system. I'm going to finish my IGMC entry now that the jam is over, but I'm having to ask for a lot more feedback because I didn't get a lot during the jam, just more general feedback.
  • Abrasive-ness. I'm coming from an outside perspective here- I've been a VN dev for almost 4 years, but I technically just got started using RPGM for real this year. In the VN community, I'm used to a handful of tight-knit groups that, for the most part, welcome newcomers and offer a lot of constructive criticism if people ask- and, that's what I've mostly seen from this community as well! However, during IGMC, I noticed a fair amount of mudslinging and a lot of feelings hurt, something I wasn't expecting from this (albeit large) community. Note, I'm not pointing fingers, I'm talking about reviews given as a whole, whether by judges, players, contestants, etc., as I saw this coming from almost every group. Note also that I'm also not demonizing the entire community, or even half of it- but I feel like a more set rubric/guildlines for giving feedback (i.e. reminding people what constitutes as construct critiquing and what is just unhelpful criticism) would help not break so many people's hopes- it's really disheartening to see some people put forth a lot of work only to get blasted and then them stay silent afterwards because they're afraid to share it anymore. So... can we all remember to be a bit more supportive of each other? When people share their entries, always be mindful of the effort that went into it, and try to give forth a little effort in how you give your feedback. I'm not saying never tell them anything negative- if something is wrong with it, tell them. But don't purposefully be rude or harsh. I've been in game dev long enough that a couple bad reviews aren't going to make me quit a project altogether, but some people are, as for a lot of people IGMC was a way for them to make their first game. So, please, let's remember to support each other.
So... yeah! I still overall liked my experience with IGMC, and I'm looking forward to entering it next year, especially if there's a special category for story-driven games/visual novels now that VN Maker is out. Thank you to all the judges, hosts, moderators, and everyone else who helped run the event!
 

metronome

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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.
Or may be .....limit who could vote for the entries? Elections are usually restricted in some ways anyway. :kaoswt2:

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?).
The winner of the popular vote, lol. (Sorry Dezue, it just didn't float my boat) But it is what you would expect from a popular vote. Someone made the suggestion that only games that make it into the top 20 are eligible to win that vote, I second that.
Judge here. I have some thoughts too.
  1. The People's Choice Award is the "Get Out the Vote" award. That's how it's worked every time. It's possible we may be able to have a "Dev's Choice Award" where you would have to be an entrant with a submitted game to vote for your favorite. We'd also have to find a way to keep people from voting for their own game or we'd have a 250-way tie.

Also I forgot to say:
CON - DEMOS. GOD DANGIT THE DEMOS. So many demos. NO DEMOS dangit! Completed games only! :kaolivid:
Everytime I show my friends this link: https://itch.io/jam/igmc2017/results
All they say is: "Ahhh, so that Quidget game is the overall winner then?"
Me: "No no no, it's Yomotsu"
Them: "Uh.....it's said Judges Choice there" (mostly, or some variations along this line).
:kaomad2:

While I do think the voting system needs to be regulated (or completely expunged and changed to golden reviewer instead) next time, I think this problem needs to be addressed seriously. I know me and my friends might sound subjective here, but ...well....:kaoswt:


The LP bias is nonsense. Plenty of LPers (if not all) took requests. Anyone who wanted their game played could have just asked.
Genuinely sad that there is no golden reviewer award this time around....:kaocry:you would have won that award:kaopride: (and pretty sure it would add more -love- salt into the air at the same time.:kaojoy:).
 

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