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Community Contests - Into the Future

by Geoff Beckstrom · 06/08/2012 (10:54 am) · 25 comments

We have had some great success with the Community Contests. One winner was a long time community member with only 1 blog post in over 5 years who out of nowhere participated and won. I know that a number of winners have been able to buy full licenses or upgrades that they just didn’t have the extra $100 or so dollars to do in their student budget.

I look forward to seeing some polished and finished games that started as a result of a community contest.

Though this may sound like a post mortem ending the community contests be assured that is not the purpose of this post. Actually I am reaching out to you the community for ideas on where to take contests in the future.

I am flat out of ideas.

I could blame it on having 4 kids under the age of 7 at home.

Or I could blame it on the fact that I have been split between 8 different projects in the last 3 weeks and I feel bit like Sybil.

Maybe it’s the 100 degree heat melting away my creative juices…

But this is your chance what type of contest would you like to see:
-3D vs 2D
-Genre or play styles
-Time limits

From the entries I have seen over the last 10 contests I know how creative you all can be so give me your input and let’s have an amazing summer of Community Game Contests!
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#1
06/08/2012 (12:28 pm)
Alright, here are some quick ideas I had:

- Video contest - anything made with any of the Torque engines between 0:45 and 1:15 mins.
- Best new resource for any of the engines (both art and code)
- Best game design pitch
- Specific themes for games

1 week length, and specific engine licenses, not a given lmoney value. Also, gifts for the top 3.

I'm on mobile, sorry for the short explanations.
#2
06/08/2012 (12:38 pm)
Solid suggestions Konrad. I like them.
#3
06/08/2012 (1:04 pm)
Pin the tail on Mich.

An employee is blindfolded and has to chase Mich around the office with a staplegun whilst the others shout out instructions typed into IRC from webcam viewers. Scored on how many monitors get broken in a 5 minute period.

Oh wait, that's not what you meant ...
:P
#4
06/08/2012 (1:23 pm)
If the purpose of the contests is to create interest from new customers then there needs to be topics that a newbie to Torque could accomplish. Otherwise the contests may do the exact opposite of what was intended. Of course everyone comes into this with different skill levels.

Do you have some ideas of where you would like to see the GG community grow? Examples:

  1. Examples for learning the engine tools.
  2. Resources for learning the code.
  3. More documentation for learning how the engine operates.
  4. Bringing art assets into the engine.
  5. Building dedicated servers for use with GG engines.
  6. Showing coolness factors.

Maybe something that could make the contests more fun would be themed contests. So, instead of having a multiplayer contest, have a contest that must be multiplayer that incorporates something abstract like the: "meaning of life". Then a person can hit that abstract topic with things like: the number 42 appearing everywhere, nature scenes, philosophy topics, etc.

So borrowing from Konrad's suggestions:
- "Video Contest that has a seasons changing theme" as one example

So here are some coding contests that could be interesting for learning the internals of the engine:
- Simplest startup script to get a window with a close button. Designed to help people learn the startup sequence of the engine.
- Most intuitive player selection screen.
- Coolest looking physics simulation video/game.
- Most unique human interface, most intuitive interface, worst interface.

#5
06/08/2012 (4:26 pm)
Good suggestions from everyone...
#6
06/08/2012 (4:37 pm)
I had an idea, though I'm not sure how feasible it is. What if Garage Games partnered with Brokeass games to see who can make the best use of their two advanced character packs, the MACK and the FACK(either by making design pitches, or by getting a limited version of one to use in a contest entry)? The winner would get full versions of both packs (and perhaps the animation pack as well) to continue the winning project with, and perhaps even a pre-release version of the MACK2, depending on how much BaG wants put up as the prize. In exchange, Brokeass Games would get increased exposure, hype for their new character pack, and the right to use the winning entry in advertisements for their products.

You could apply this concept to any third-party and any content pack they want to put up, the FACK was just the first that came to my mind. You could even do a different sponsored contest every week or two and have a different piece of art or code you have to use each time. Like Iron Chef but with game design.
#7
06/08/2012 (5:11 pm)
A short game which is limited to 15minutes of gametime and a single level?

Also how about community events like a matchs on fps example or a precompiled china town demo or similar tech demo?
#8
06/09/2012 (1:46 am)
Taking these contests and practically utilize them would be awesome, like a contest of making a video that best shows the capabilities of the game engine. If the videos coming in are good enough they might be used by GG officially to showcase the engine!

Or a tutorial contest like create a small tutorial covering how to get started with Torque. It might result in some great tutorials which could improve the documentation which would lead to a more inviting engine for new users!
#9
06/09/2012 (3:53 am)
I'm with Frank, tutorials and resources would be practical for all to enter and benefit from I think.
#10
06/09/2012 (5:20 am)
I think that the primary goal of the contest should be making the Torque product line better discoverable by and more appealing to new users. Hence I believe that a video competition would work great. Some rule suggestions for a video contest would you choose to go that way:

- length between 0:45 and 1:15
- must be a new, yet unreleased video
- one-two week(s) to create the entry
- must be connected to either of the Torque products or the company, must include a competition splash logo
- can be machinima, gameplay footage, a tutorial or an animated short about the community, GG or the engine(s)
- must include the tags garagegames and torque and a separate tag for the contest (ie. torqueflicks2012)
- must be uploaded to either YouTube or Vimeo (must be embedded into the contest thread to compete using MarkupLite in a predefined size)
- must at least be at 720p resolution

Scoring / awards:
- value videos with the most views at the time of announcing winners with a special prize
- create a GG choice award that GG employees vote on
- the community should vote/decide on which the top 3 winner entries are
- everyone who enters and spends time with creating something should feel some kind of appreciation, however small that would be

Promotion:
- use your newsletter to give it some coverage so that people who don't actively visit the site have a chance at competing
- in the future create less competitions with better prices that really motivate people, and create hype around these, because that is fun and winning such a competition gives us better bragging rights. Celebrate the winners, interview them, introduce them to all of us!
- you really should add a new kind of colored badge for the winners of your competitions and show their results on their profile page for everyone to see. This is a great motivation as it gives winners exclusivity - a great value when freelancing for Torque projects besides the obvious community prestige.
- for other competitions, host all entries and make them downloadable for everyone later, don't rely on temporary hosting used when entering the competition by the competing user.

@Mitch: Thanks! Just had some time to finally elaborate. :)
#11
06/09/2012 (1:20 pm)
@Konrad I would say I don't agree on better prices, I think the prices are just fine as it is. GG doesn't have unlimited resources and getting a prize at all is reward enough for me.
The badges and interviews are a good idea tho as the prestige gain in that would be beneficial for the PR of the individual persons and perhaps even their products.
#12
06/09/2012 (6:18 pm)
@Lukas: You might be right!

All I know is that being able to pick something for $129 or so (can't recall) is anything but motivational to me. We both agree that it's not really the value of the first prize that matters. But it obviously is important to GG because they set that limit each time. My proposal was to have less competitions and up the ante instead - provide prizes for several categories and several prizes.

I believe that this plan actually helps GG better invest the resources they have and make the competition earn better visitor counts, hopefully new users, better cohesion in the existing community and better feedback from everyone. The fundamental idea is that a contest should not serve the community primarily, but the company. The primary goal should be marketing and not merely keeping the community occupied - because that is the impression I am getting.

Asking for more (not so much in value but in how it is delivered) in this case is actually not taking, but giving GG more resources.

I personally want to be motivated to compete with something. I so far couldn't really care about the prizes themselves. That needs to change if contests are to be a lot more successful. I'm not special (as much as I'd like to think I was) so I imagine others have this problem as well. Luckily, a great number of other things can as well be motivational - some of which I tried to embed into my proposal.
#13
06/10/2012 (1:14 am)
I wasn't sure what to expect when I posted this. But you guys have blown it out of the water! Thank you and keep the ideas coming.

We will definitely be doing video contests of some sort. I actually have a specific idea for one that I think I will be announcing this coming Friday so get your screen capture software ready.

Gilbert: We have considered the teaming up with 3rd party packs idea. The obstacle (doesn't mean we can't do it - just need to figure out the best way) is of course royalties and cost of the 3rd party stuff. However if there are any 3rd party pack owners out there who are interested in discussing a "sponsored" community contest reach out to me and we can figure something out. Maybe you provide a watered down 'free/demo' version of your pack for the contest and the winners get a full license. I am open to making it a win/win for all involved.

Konrad: I appreciate all of your great ideas and I will take the creative prizes into serious consideration. I agree with your points on both promoting the engine and promoting users of the engine.

Organizing a group community hour multiplayer game. Hmmm.....let me think abou.....YES!!!!!! If you have a Torque game you would like to submit as a possible destination let me know. I know not everyone can be available to play during US West Coast lunch time so we may consider a community power hour group and a US West Coast late night group or something like that.

Also 2D guys - these contests don't have to be exclusive to 3D so let me know your thoughts.

I am also a sucker for good tutorials. I may reach out to some of you individually to drill down some thoughts and we will have a contest up next Friday!
#14
06/10/2012 (6:28 am)
I must say I support a lot of has been said above, particularly the video submissions idea. May I also make the suggestion that there could be an art dimension to the competitions. As a non programmer but active user of the engine myself, I would be happy to contribute to such a competition where I don't need to try and code anything difficult. I'm sure there are others in the same camp. It would be good to demo what the engine can achieve visually......just my thoughts.....Tim
#15
06/10/2012 (1:55 pm)
Good points, all - I think Tim's point is valid as well. The contests shouldn't be for "Experienced programmers" (only) but actually encourage people with no experience to try out features of the engine.

So perhaps some focus on creating interesting examples that demonstrate features already in the engine could be helpful ... in fact, might even be a way to (a) valid the online docs are still "valid" and (b) encourage those new to the engine or specific features to "dig into it more" and learn in the process .... plus (c) if written up in a tutorial format, others could use it to also learn how to use the features of the engine.

Personally, I've learned ALOT from (a) try it using the documented examples to be sure I got it right, then (b) tweak it until its something that fits what I am trying to do.

Same goes for the resources ... (a) test out a resource "as is" first then (b) modifying it to do something different, towards my goals.
#16
06/10/2012 (10:47 pm)
have a contest to see who can fix the most bugs!
I agree with Jeff and think maybe a contest to see who can make the best mod to one of the resource tutorials. this could even be used to help freshen or revamp the tutorials if submissions fit the bill.
This would allow uses to get their names in the credits for the tutorials. I believe anything that helps promote the engine and the users is a good thing.
#17
06/11/2012 (3:18 am)
I agree with tutorials. I think quick and to the point - little 15 - 30 minuter's and it can only help but grow the list of resources available.
#18
06/11/2012 (8:02 am)
themed based contests might be interesting...

1 - the future... a game set in the future...
2 - on the water... sailing, rowing, or naval warfare...
3 - fantastic planet... a game set on another world...
4 - under the sea... a game set under the sea...

--Mike
#19
06/11/2012 (8:52 am)
How about expanding in to supporting enabled/accessible games?

Can your game be played by the deaf/hearing impaired? How about blind/visually impaired? Can your controls support alternate keyboards or devices....is the interface configurable?


#20
06/11/2012 (3:01 pm)
I like the tutorials idea also, always helpful to the community. Maybe mix it up with genres.
- HowTo: MOBA with stock (no code changes)
- HowTo: 3D Side Scroller Mania (no code changes)
- HowTo: Race Car Driving Game
- HowTo: 3D Fighting Game
- HowTo: 2D Fighting Game

Or just grab a random genre and see what we come up with.
- Bath salts withstanding... what's your take on a Zombie Apocolypse style game/level (3d or 2d)?
- First Person RPG (3d) ...thinking zelda...
- First Person RPG (2d or 3d side scroller)
- Retro arcade/console... I really like some of the ideas with the brick breaker contest... that was cool.
- Scariest Game/Level? There are some cool stuff with the lighting, particle effects and shaders in T3D that could make for a pretty legit scary game.
- Bumper Car game...Top Down race car game (2d or 3d)
- Board game! Remake a cool board game with any Torque engine.
- Best sports game... I haven't seen or heard much for a sports game being built with Torque.
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