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Old Game Design Showdown Format

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pelle's picture
Joined: 08/11/2008

It looks like the Showdowns have a decent number of entries each month now, so I guess they work, but is anyone else missing the old Showdowns where you had to enter complete print'n'play games with components and all?

As far as I can remember I only entered once. Making a complete game in a limited time is not something everyone has the time for doing every month, so I can understand if there were not always many (or any) entries. Also for some reason it seemed like I always read about the GDS just a few days before or after the deadline every month. But perhaps there would be room for making complete Showdowns now and then, for a change? So in addition to the regular "just post a game description" Showdows that run every month, or instead of them, run a "full game" version once or twice every year?

For instance July and December could be for making complete games, instead of the regular GDS. Otherwise same idea with a strict theme and same voting procedure and everything, so just a few minor changes to the rules. Like in the old days games could still be posted in the forum, just with graphics and everything included.

pelle's picture
Joined: 08/11/2008
It is a bit sad that in the

It is a bit sad that in the old threads I looked at almost all the graphics are gone. Unfortunately the images were hosted on some external site that is now gone or has removed that content or something.

MarkJindra's picture
Joined: 01/24/2014
BGDF GDS Print-N-Play Challenge

I would be happy if the standard GDS happened each month but twice a year (Jan & July) the top 1, 2, or 3 from each month would be eligible to enter a Print-N-Play Challenge.

This could be done in many places. Here are just a few.

* BGDF: We already have a great format and it could certainly be run here.

* BGG: This could include an open qualifier that could run on BGG in weeks prior.

* TGC: the gamecrafter has contests from time to time and a semi annual or annual challenge for the winners to publish a game might be fun.


richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
History and the future!

Hi Pelle,

Ahhh the old days. Of course, the really old days go way back to the early '00s and the GDS was just a few lines of a pitch spit-balled around.

Thing is, I've gone through the history - and back in 2010 which you might be referring to - and it wasn't a Print and Play contest then, either. The only difference between that era and now is that up to three images were allowed in your entry.

Sure, people had a tendency to write what they thought were full-rules descriptions, and some even busted the word limit to do so. But full games with components? Nah.

There was ONE contest, where Michael Mindes from TMG looked to the GDS for a new game, and the rules there were quite different. Honestly, that month showed how fragile and poor a setup a general forum is to hold a 'contest' like that.

Over the years, the GDS has tried to find exactly where it can excel using the medium it has. Currently I think it's form matches the goal pretty well. And that's because you're right: not everyone has time to make a complete game every month, much less one week (the length the entry window is open).

That's why the contest is ONLY 500 words, no images. It's a writing and concept challenge, because it's not enough time to do more. Sorry you're only hearing about it days before or after the deadline - perhaps you should subscribe for updates to the GDS forum? That's a feature implemented in the last couple years I don't think enough people use (I get an email digest of postings in the GDS forum).

That said, there is always room to grow and change the GDS into something else, like you're mentioning. it's just that currently, as Mark notes, there are other better places to do that. I'd almost rather have a BGDF sponsored contest at The Game Crafter, since they have better tools for a "full game" contest run over a long time.

So what I'd like to see are ideas to make what you're suggesting - a once or twice a year "full game" contest - a reality on BGDf itself. Specifically, what kinds of site features would you see helping run such a contest?

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Missing images and old contests

Yeah, we've a limit on the total MB a user can upload, so it's generally best for someone to link to an outside image. But 5 years is a long time in internet-land for a company to stay open. Hopefully solid sites like imgur will stay around.

For what it's worth, there's a reason images aren't in the GDS anymore. There was a creep of "information packed onto images" that made descriptions longer, and longer, and longer. Essentially, it put pressure on making a prettier, more completely explained game set in one week, which wasn't the idea.

pelle's picture
Joined: 08/11/2008
You are probably correct that

You are probably correct that my memory makes the old days more fantastic than they were. The games I think about were probably not very well playtested (or at all) and probably not really playable in the form that was posted. It is a bit difficult to tell now with almost all images gone.

As you can see I have been here for a long time. I wonder what happened to everyone that used to be here, but are not? I rarely see anyone post here that has an earlier Joined date than I have. On the bgg design forums I have been since 2001 and many others have been around for about that long as well, or at least well over 7 years, but for some reason it seems like the average time people stay active here is very short. Why do so many show up here, say hi, post a link to their kickstarter, then never show up? Or they hang around for a year or two, but mostly post in threads to try to talk about their (secret) game as much as possible? Isn't there room for more here than trying to sell games to fellow designers ("building a community" I guess?), or has that become the primary goal?

I think real print'n'play contests are great because it allows everyone to work on something they can talk about, and that they can experiment with (not just "here is my completed game I want to sell to you; please tell me what you think so we can have a little community! but I'm not going to change anything because it is already completed anyway and going on kickstarter next month"). I know there are already such contests elsewhere, for instance on bgg, but it could be a way to also get some more activity to this forum, and give designers a chance to talk a bit more about design, and less about selling their games, even if it is just once or twice per year.

Not that EVERY thread here is like what I say above. Obviously I would not bother to check in here at all if it was that bad. But I think that might be a reason why so many older users stopped posting here and (presumably) went for other forums.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Old timers

Very different creature, BGDF and BGG. Over the years, BGDF's userbase has rotated almost like a university. People stick around for a few years participating heavily before they either get too busy to participate in general discussion or the GDS.

They pop back in from time to time, like Alumni, to share their experiences. Some might come back to ground themselves by coming back to a community that has so many 'new' and 'aspiring' designers. Some stick around, almost like professors that just want to give back to the community they like so much.

In the last year, yes, there have been more new users or light-users that post ads for their kickstarters. So long as other design posts continue I don't know if that's a problem. If you see something you like, support it! If not, don't. those that dont' catch on fade away anyway.

I agree with you that a real solid print and play contest is great, and gives something for people to talk about. And I'ld love to have that here on BGDF, if not make BGDF the 'goto' spot for such contests. but that migth be covered already by BGG and TGC?

In either case, BGDF needs a good upgrade to support the kinds of logistics that I'd expect from a good contest (file submissions, better image integration, cleaner interface, etc etc).

What site functionality would you like to see to support PNP contests?

dobnarr's picture
Joined: 07/29/2008
I, for one, really liked the

I, for one, really liked the old format, where (with the images and longer text) you could actually produce something that resembled a complete working game. With the 500-word limit and no images, we're restricted to fairly vague ideas, no more than concepts, really. Lots of time a contest entry will invoke something like "there's a deck of cards with enemies" without describing any of the cards, or "there's a board with a variety of spaces" without any detail. Many entries now there's no way to tell if they're balanced, what the details are, if they're workable, or even what the author intends.

It's really why I haven't participated so much since the switch - I'd rather work harder and get a more full game made, and I'd rather compete against a game rather than a rough concept.

ElKobold's picture
Joined: 04/10/2015
So i'm not the only one

So i'm not the only one :)

Had to cut my entry in 3.
All the card descriptions and part of the mechanics descriptions had to go.
So what was left from an almost complete game, was a bit of flavor text and the very core gameplay.

I'm not even sure that a reader would understand my design as i've intended it after all the cuts.

I imagine the same thing happened to many other entries. So I had to vote based on the 'do i ilke the theme', instead of 'do i like the design decisions'.

Joined: 06/02/2015
Your idea "For instance July

Your idea "For instance July and December could be for making complete games, instead of the regular GDS" sounds like it could work.

I'm not sure of the social status of everyone entering the GDS, but I can speak for myself. Just coming up with a design idea and capturing that in a 500 word pitch was a struggle for me. If I didn't already have the idea partially cooked, I don't think I would have been able to enter at all.

With a family, a house to maintain, and a full-time job, there isn't much time left. As it is, I had to set aside the fantasy novel I am co-writing with another author. Luckily, I've still got 2 weeks to write the next chapter.

If we did a bi-annual "full-game" GDS, I would hope the genre or theme would be announced at the start of the 6-month period. Otherwise, I would never be able to design, prototype and playtest a game in time to enter.

My point is, if we crank up the requirements too much, then we might not get so many entries.

Joined: 07/03/2013
My Thoughts:

Perhaps it would be wiser to hold the monthly GDSes as they stand, with no change, but hold a quarterly or semi-annual GDS that is Print n' Play. I think that there's something valuable in learning how to condense an idea down to few words.

But it's a good idea to also see the later design process, and learn from each other how we went about our game art/mechanics. You could lengthen out the time limit for that challenge to two weeks or so, and the voting long enough to allow all to review them.

Perhaps that would serve as a best of both worlds? Do we need someone to run the second contest separately?

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