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Game Design Showdown - Overview

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Brykovian
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Overview
The "Game Design Showdown" is a series of 1-week-long board game design challenges that will be run each month within this forum here at BGDF.com. (This was inspired by a couple of "Designer Showdown" chat sessions that were run during the earlier days of this site.)

On a Thursday in the middle of each month, a new Showdown Challenge will be posted in this forum. The challenge will usually consist of a theme, a genre, and some mechanics restrictions, and will be open for entries for 7 days. After those 7 days are up, all entries will be anonymously posted and judged through private voting for another 7-day voting period. At the end of the voting period, the entry with the most voting points will be declared "the best" (in all of its glorious subjectiveness!!).

Rules
Rules (unless otherwise stated in the challenge post) will be as follows:

  • Each new challenge will be posted in a sticky thread at the top of the forum with a title that indicates the month and the challenge title ... for example: "Game Design Showdown March 2005 Challenge - Dogs at the Park"
  • The challenge begins as soon as the sticky thread has been posted ... it will remain open for approximately 7 days
  • Only registered users will be allowed to participate
  • Each participant may only submit a single entry to a challenge (Note: Two or more people can be listed as "co-designer" on a single entry. However, none of those people can then be listed as designer or co-designer on any other entries submitted to that same challenge.)
  • Only entries sent in a private message directly to the challenge administrator will be included in the voting ... anything posted to public threads in the forum will not be considered valid entries
  • Each entry should contain the entire text of the entry — no linking to external HTML pages, PDF's, Word Doc's, etc. ... however, linking to graphics and graphical examples will be allowed
  • Each entry, in its entirety should not be more than 800 words in length
  • Participants are allowed to re-submit an updated version of their entry up until the deadline ... the last submitted version of an entry at the time the challenge is completed will be the one that is provided for voting
  • The challenge will end after approximately 7 days ... no new entries will be accepted after that point ... the voting will be started shortly thereafter
  • The start of voting will be announced within the challenge thread .... each entry to the challenge will be listed anonymously in separate posts in the thread ... the final post in the thread will announce "Voting is Open", and voting will begin and will remain open for approximately 7 days
  • Each forum user who wishes to (whether or not he/she has submited an entry to the challenge) may vote by sending a private message directly to the challenge administrator explaining how he/she would like to distribute "vote points", as follows:
    • Each voter can distribute up to 10 vote points across 1 or more games (distributing less than 10 vote points is okay)
    • A single game can receive no more than 5 vote points
    • No more than 5 different games may be given vote points by a single voter
  • Those participating in the challenge are not allowed to vote for their own entries
  • Voters may change their vote — only their last vote submitted will be counted
  • The voting will end after approximately 7 days ... the winner will be whoever's entry received the most points ... ties will be allowed

Final Thoughts
Other things to keep in mind:

  • Unless otherwise stated in the challenge, the entries do not need to be "fully completed and tested" rulesets ... there should be enough of a description, rules, examples, etc., to give other readers a good "feel" for the game ... the extent to which an author wishes to go is up to him -- it will be the voting of the readers that will decide the winner
  • Voting criteria is as subjective as it gets ... each voter is asked to vote for the "best entry" in his/her eyes -- however he/she wishes to determine that
  • Keeping that in mind ... be original, be clear, be creative, be entertaining ... this is, essentially, a popularity contest where your ideas, written in words, will be what makes you popular (or not)

With that stated, feel free to post questions and comments as replies within this thread ... I will very likely re-edit this first post to keep it up-to-date with any important points, FAQs, etc.

Thanks,
-Bryk

Rules Changes, 11-Apr-2005: I changed the submission, presentation, and voting rules to be entirely private.

Rules Changes, 9-May-2005:Specified a co-designer rule, added an entry word-limit, updated the voting rules to be a "list favorite 3" system giving 5/3/1 points based upon the position on the list, added a "no voting for your own entry" rule.

Rules Changes, 12-Jan-2006: I changed the voting rules to the "distribute 10 vote points" method.

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Scurra
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Game Design Showdown - Overview

That all sounds pretty fine and dandy actually.
I'm not sure that linking to graphical examples should be allowed though. Oddly enough, I also think that 7 days is too long for the initial submissions. I realise that operating through a forum is trickier than by means of a chat, but one of the great joys of the original contest was the ludicrously short timetable you had.
I would argue quite strongly for a four-day submission period - from Thursday through the weekend.
As long as the contests kick off consistently on the same day, then it keeps an element of fast-thinking without being too restrictive or too loose. It may also help keep the length of entries down too!

Brykovian
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Any other opinions on the timeframe ... I did pick 7 days in order to include people who can only hit the site a couple days a week. But, if others felt 4 days was sufficient, I could handle that as well.
-Bryk

Zomulgustar
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Game Design Showdown - Overview

I'd actually prefer LONGER than 7 days, so perhaps leaving it alone will do as a compromise?

Brykovian
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Hmmm ... from the 2 opinions so far, looks like I may have found a good average.

Tell ya what -- I'll go with 7 days on this first challenge and see if we need to adjust things after it's run.

-Bryk

Torrent
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I guess the ability to edit one's post helps elimintate the following, but...

What about the incentive to wait until the last hour to post to keep others from 'taking' your ideas? The neat thing about the Design Showdown that I remember was that all the designs were blind to everybody but the creator and moderator until posted for voting.
I know it would be a lot of extra work for the moderator, but it would be cool to be able to send the posts and have them all appear for voting at the same time.

Andy

Hamumu
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Game Design Showdown - Overview

I say, let round 1 commence and decide to tweak based on that. I love meaningless challenges to give me things to do!

phpbbadmin
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Game Design Showdown - Overview

Torrent wrote:
I guess the ability to edit one's post helps elimintate the following, but...

What about the incentive to wait until the last hour to post to keep others from 'taking' your ideas? The neat thing about the Design Showdown that I remember was that all the designs were blind to everybody but the creator and moderator until posted for voting.
I know it would be a lot of extra work for the moderator, but it would be cool to be able to send the posts and have them all appear for voting at the same time.

Andy

Why, yes, yes that would be cool. Great idea!

Brykovian
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Darkehorse wrote:
Torrent wrote:
I guess the ability to edit one's post helps elimintate the following, but...

What about the incentive to wait until the last hour to post to keep others from 'taking' your ideas? The neat thing about the Design Showdown that I remember was that all the designs were blind to everybody but the creator and moderator until posted for voting.
I know it would be a lot of extra work for the moderator, but it would be cool to be able to send the posts and have them all appear for voting at the same time.

Andy

Why, yes, yes that would be cool. Great idea!

lol -- nice and subtle, darke!

Good question, Torrent ... and one that we discussed within the moderators forum when I first pitched this idea to the others (can you figure out which side darke took -- I know: the "darke side"!!).

I thought that having public self-postings of the entries would actually be a bit of a self-balancing thing ... if you post a concept that is very similar to one that was posted before you, how do you think that will fare with the voters?

I figured the first challenge could be run with this method, since I would hope that everyone could play nice, and then be happy to let the voters decide in the end. If participants find it faulty, then I would change things over to private posting to me for next month's challenge.

Thoughts on that approach?

-Bryk

Torrent
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Quote:
Why, yes, yes that would be cool. Great idea!

Are you mocking me? :wink: :wink:

Is there an easy way to do this in code? Some how to post to a thread you can't view. Or maybe just a PM Mailbox somewhere that someone just copies Mail into Posts.

Andy

Torrent
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I'm fine with either approach, just bringing up possibilities. I'm glad you have already discussed it. I'll sit quietly and wait for the first month to start.

sedjtroll
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I was going to post this afternoon, but the site stopped responding on me :(

It's much better if you don't know who you're voting for... As you said, it's a popularity contest where your ides dictate how popular you are... not your name. I think it would be best if we could make it anonymous until after voting. People get preconceived notions if they know who wrote what.

As for it being 'blind' until the vote, I think that's better too. Obviously if there's no way to do that then it can't be done.

- Seth

Brykovian
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Both of you are making excellent points ... and I would probably be wise to incorporate them ... but I'm just not that smart. ;-p

So ... I will run this first one, as originally planned, assuming that people involved will be good enough sports to not steal each others' ideas and not simply vote for the *person* they find "the kewlest". ;-D

With that said, however, I will gladly and quickly switch future challenges over to a PM-based system if it will improve upon things.

In the meantime, I'd rather get this first one rolling ...

-Bryk

Brykovian
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Thanks to the feedback I've received, I've updated the rules in the first post on this thread. Entry submissions, presentation of the entries, and voting will now be completely private.

-Bryk

Brykovian
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Based upon the discussions in this thread, I've updated the first post in this overview thread.

-Bryk

Brykovian
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Based upon the several discussions we've had around how the GDS voting should work, I've changed over to the "distribute 10 vote points" method ... see the details in the original post in this thread.

-Bryk

Scurra
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Since someone reminded us that this thread already exists...

About a year ago, Scurra wrote:
I'm not sure that linking to graphical examples should be allowed though. Oddly enough, I also think that 7 days is too long for the initial submissions.

And I haven't changed my mind. I don't believe that entries to this contest should be taking anyone longer than an evening or two to put together. Then again, that may be why I don't do very well ;-)

But although I've come to terms with the 7-day deadline, I still have major issues with the whole business of graphics.

It has become fairly clear that including a graphic is worth an awful lot of words in an context in which wordcount is a major part of the exercise, although I want to stress that I don't believe that any judge takes the presence of graphics into account when deciding, but it does help.

I want to reiterate that I'm not objecting because of my total lack of artistic ability (I have decent layout skills but zero drawing skills!)
I simply feel that the games should be selling themselves on the outline; depicting an example card, for instance, can be a massive help as it not only avoids a description, but also demonstrates a practical game component.
For example, last month's Rattlesnake Rally included three example Track tiles. Although most of their content could be inferred from the text, things like numbers, parts and flags didn't need to be included in the description because the picture featured them.

seo
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On the graphics issue, I understand your point, but I think that they are a big help, not only to the entrants, but more important, to the judges. And judging is the hardest part of the GDS, at least to me.

The task of getting to know 10 or 12 new games in a few days, and make a call on which one would play better, is really complex. The pictures usually help a lot in this process.

It is also true that some of us have an advantedge when producing graphics, but as I already mentioned, some of us are also at a huge disadvantadge at the time of expressing our ideas in writing (unless we start to accept entries in spanish, and even then...)

So evening the field is nearly impossible, and banning graphics would hardly help, IMHO, but would make judging even harder that it already is. Given the shortage in votes we've been experiencing lately, it doesn't seem to be a good choice.

Seo
(Fearing that the nickname Scurra will, from now on, stand for
Seo is a Creepy Ugly Repulsive and Rancid Abscess)

Nestalawe
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As I am only now doing my first GDS entry, I was wondering about graphics as well - how much effort I should put in, and how 'fair' it is to include graphics.

But then I figure, well, I have a week, and I have stuck to the 800 word limit, and I want my entry to be as good as it can be, so I may as well put in some graphics that will aid the understanding of my game.

Also, thinking of rule-sets, one of the ways the number of pages in a set of rules can be cut down is through using images - how long would the Carcassone rules be if it had no images?

Sure there are limiting factors when people don't have access to graphics programs or the skills to draw-pretty-things, but if the main point is to assist in the understanding of the rules then everyone should have Paint on their computer, and last month there were even hand-drawn images which were great! Also, I think if we look back over past GDS's there are many entries which have great images but don't score, and some that have no images and do.

Also, I am under no illusion that if I produce sparkly pictures (which I won't/Can't) I will Shock And Awe people into voting for me - the people who do vote (I assume) are pretty dedicated Designers, and the game itself should shine to be worthy of votes - it takes time and eneergy to read through 10+ entries and I am sure people who do that aren't the types that are swayed by pretty pictures. Images that are included as fluff and do not aid in understanding the rules, or providing examples will be seen as so.

I think. I may be wrong ;)

Xaqery
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The only thing I ask is that people not make the pictures too wide. If the pictures are wide thenthe web page is forced wide and it makes it more difficult to read. I am guilty of large pictures but since then have tried to keep then more narrow.

my 2 cents

- Dwight

Scurra
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I think this month illustrates my argument about graphics fairly well.
Of the nine entries, seven included graphics in one form or another.

Of those seven, four didn't need the graphic at all (STAM, Raid on Omnitech, Alpha Sector Blues, Cryptic City) as the text described the contents of the graphic perfectly adequately. One other (IPL: Thunder Point) didn't really need the graphics as the missing information would only have taken a line or so of text. And one (Sci-Fi Pulp) was a cheat, as the graphic was used to interpolate a whole lot of additional text into the game description.

Only Stake-Out really needed the graphics, and even there the text adequately described them - I just found the game complicated enough that the graphic helped comprehension.

Maybe other people would like to agree or disagree with these observations?

Kreitler
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Game Design Showdown - Overview

Scurra wrote:
I think this month illustrates my argument about graphics fairly well.
Of the nine entries, seven included graphics in one form or another.

Of those seven, four didn't need the graphic at all (STAM, Raid on Omnitech, Alpha Sector Blues, Cryptic City) as the text described the contents of the graphic perfectly adequately. One other (IPL: Thunder Point) didn't really need the graphics as the missing information would only have taken a line or so of text. And one (Sci-Fi Pulp) was a cheat, as the graphic was used to interpolate a whole lot of additional text into the game description.

Only Stake-Out really needed the graphics, and even there the text adequately described them - I just found the game complicated enough that the graphic helped comprehension.

Maybe other people would like to agree or disagree with these observations?

I agree with most of your assessments, with the following minor exceptions:

1) In general, graphics explain board and/or overall game layout much more concisely than do words. Were I left with only the textual description of boards for Thunder Point, Raid on Omnitech, Cryptic City and Alpha Complex Blues, I would have probably been lost.

2) Alpha Complex Blues described its boards in terms of RoboRally. For readers that don't know that game, the picture seemed necessary. Again, words would have sufficed, but why blow any of your precious 800 words describing what is more naturally shown graphically?

Fiddling points, I admit -- but having a basic graphical representation of the components helps me focus more intently on the mechanics. I don't have to use brain power imagining the layout.

K.

seo
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My entry is on David's "didn't need the graphics" list, and I have to agree with the inclusion. That said, I want to explain why.

I agree, up to a point, with Scurra: those games text included a description of what's on the images. The reason for this, at least in my entry, and probably on others, is that I try to keep the I-can-draw advantadge as slim as possible (though not giving it up for reasons I already mentioned in previous posts), so I write my entry as if it didn't had the illustrations. Thet helps, IMHO, reducing the "one image is worth a thousand words" gain. But for the sake of clarity and to ease the judging process, I prefer to include images, even if they are not fully necesary. But I always try to include at least a basic text description of all the elements and mechanics in the word count.

I agree that Sci-Fi Pulp Adventure made a wrongful use of the images, as they are pure text, and the entry text alone is right on the word limit. The same could be said about the card samples in Cryptic City, regardin word count, but those sample cards have real graphics, that could be considered as an indication of the graphic style the designer wants for the game, hence they help, in some way, to give a better idea of how the game should feel. I know this is arguable. The second graphic in Cryptic City is purely informative and 100% valid to me, even if pobably unnecesary.

Seo

doho123
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seo wrote:

I agree that Sci-Fi Pulp Adventure made a wrongful use of the images, as they are pure text, and the entry text alone is right on the word limit. The same could be said about the card samples in Cryptic City

Actually, I disagree with this. I think of the use of images as showing game components, whether they are maps, tokens, or cards. I consider the 800 word limit to be encompassing the rules and how the game works; so if your graphic doesn't include rules but instead shows a sample card, then it's fair game.

Looking at it another way, the graphics should be representative of going through the "stuff" you get in a boxed game that you can look at while reading the rules to get a better understanding of them. In the case of SF.P.A, the entry merely reflects the case of flipping through a few cards while reading the rules, much the same as if looking at an example of a game board.

Also, I don't mind graphics that re-state rules that have been mentioned in the entry text, such as the Profile graphic in game #4, or the Omnitech layout.

Where you wind up in questionable territory are graphics that explain rules not easily explained within the entry text. The second graphic in Entry #1 MAY skirt dangerously close to this, depending on how you view things.

Having said all of that, my two big point getters both use graphics, but probably didn't need them. In fact, the graphic of my 5 point game confused me more than it helped.

One of my two "weenie point" awards went to a game without graphics.

seo
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doho123 wrote:
seo wrote:

I agree that Sci-Fi Pulp Adventure made a wrongful use of the images, as they are pure text, and the entry text alone is right on the word limit. The same could be said about the card samples in Cryptic City

Actually, I disagree with this. I think of the use of images as showing game components, whether they are maps, tokens, or cards. I consider the 800 word limit to be encompassing the rules and how the game works; so if your graphic doesn't include rules but instead shows a sample card, then it's fair game.

Looking at it another way, the graphics should be representative of going through the "stuff" you get in a boxed game that you can look at while reading the rules to get a better understanding of them. In the case of SF.P.A, the entry merely reflects the case of flipping through a few cards while reading the rules, much the same as if looking at an example of a game board.

I thought a bit about this, and I think you might be right, up to some point. In SF.P.A. you can easily ignore the card samples and still get a good idea of how the game is. That is a good point towards leniency. But OTOH it's been agreed before that text included in the images should add to the 800 word limit.

So, while I understand your point, in the end I think David has a very valid point too. Other entries included sample cards text as simple text. Had they used an image for that, they would have had many more words available for the rest of the entry.

I feel indecisive about this. Maybe we should just ask the entrants to limit the images and text in them to the minimum they feel it's required, but not draw a strict limit.

Seo

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