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uDevGames Reboot Brainstorm

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Post: #31
Seems like we mostly like the bundle idea, Seth's post seems a merge of most people's thoughts and a new direction for uDev. What do we think are next steps?

My suggestions, up for suggestions:
1. Start contacting devs for uDevClassics bundle.
2. Hammer out the specifics of the rules. Put them down in finality. I think Seth's ideas are a good starting point, I can't think of any real tweaks at this time. Biggest thing to decide is the judging process.
3. Pick a starting date
4. Do some advertising for it?
5. Start

Anything I'm missing?

Alex
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Post: #32
I'd like to hear more people's opinions on the bundle direction than just the 5 or 6 who've chimed in. I've sent an email out to all past uDG 2011 entrants.
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Post: #33
Quote:(The stolen version of The Supporter is still up on the MAS for twenty bucks Fail )

As I told skyhawk, if they think they can get money for it the jokes on them. LOL

For future attempts though, I like the closed source idea.

Also, perhaps individual developers can have the option of donating a portion to some charity or something with the paid bundle. Save the children (The more you buy the more you save!), boost the profile of the contest.

"Most nutritionists say that Twinkies are bad. But they're not, they're very very good."
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Post: #34
This sounds awesome. I'm totally in. I'd also like the option to donate my proceeds entirely to charity (and to iDevGames, of course). This might make it easier for professional devs under non-compete agreements with their employers to participate in the contest.

Looking forward to it!

Will Miller | Lead Designer | Firaxis Games
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Post: #35
I'm not sure that donating your profits to charity would change the fact that you're competing with them.
I do like the idea though, and the fact that it's a bit different from other competitions and game jams around can only be a good thing in terms of getting interest and maybe even a bit of press.
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Post: #36
Cool to see people digging on the idea Smile

I like the rules so far, offering a few ideas for tweaks:

EDIT WARNING TL: DR MAKE YOURSELF COMFORTABLE

(Jul 25, 2013 06:23 PM)SethWillits Wrote:  With that in mind, the "full game" cannot be available to the general public until after the end of the bundle sale. ... Test versions available to the public must therefore be limited in some signficant way...

With devs still working on a 3 month dev cycle, implementing some sort of time/feature crippling might be too much ancillary work. Additionally, this might be tricky to enforce.

An idea would be to have builds only available through the website (similar to how we submitted finals in 2011, iirc) and simply have the upload capability turned off after month 2 of the 3 month cycle. This will let builds be available through the project page, ensures that they aren't THAT close to final, and enforcement is pretty automatic.

(Jul 25, 2013 06:23 PM)SethWillits Wrote:  However, unlike past incarnations, the games entered into competition are allowed to have been developed before the competition begins, so long as it meets these requirements:

I like. I think this benefits beginners a lot and encourages them to stick around after each contest is over. People working on some giant 5 year magnum opus should still be encouraged to enter the compo for each bundle, each time benefitting from the exposure through devlogs and such until they finally make it into the bundle. That way you don't get people withholding their game until they feel it's ready.

(Jul 25, 2013 06:23 PM)SethWillits Wrote:  Inclusion in the bundle
-----------------------------------------------------------

I still like peer voting to determine top X (flexible) + an editor's choice or two. And if we succeed in creating a truly cooperative atmosphere among entrants, "editor" could even include the devs themselves. I know every year one of my favorites is a simple but fun game that sadly scores low because it just didn't shoot too high in scope.

(Jul 25, 2013 06:23 PM)SethWillits Wrote:  In keeping with this spirit, all entrants would be required to create some piece of content for iDevGames. That content can be:

I dig this for the most part, but agree it might be discouraging for newer developers. For newbies, I'd be ok with just the devlog + postmortem. As you mentioned below, open sourcing their project could absolutely count too.

Again, ideally the goal is to create a cooperative atmosphere such that we all just want the next issue of the bundle to be even better, and leveling each other up will just happen because it's in the best interests of each individual dev.

(Jul 25, 2013 06:23 PM)SethWillits Wrote:  After costs (payment processing primarily, but also bandwidth and storage), the vast bulk would be split evenly among developers. (A small portion of the sale going to iDG would be useful. Future costs, inevitable refunds and chargebacks etc.) In the future we can add a charity, payment splitting etc if it's really desired.

Prior to a user-definable split a la Humble Bundle, we can just have iDevGames be a "developer" as far as a share goes. So say in a bundle of 9 games, each developer gets 10%, and iDevGames also gets 10%.

(Jul 25, 2013 06:23 PM)SethWillits Wrote:  To start off the reboot with a bang, simultaneous with the announcement of the first competition (IOW "competition starts today, submissions due in 3 months"), there would be a Best of uDevGames bundle.

I've already gotten all my old iDG stuff updated and running on Intel (Cote, Arachnoid, Laserface) and would be happy to provide Kung Fu Killforce to a classic uDG bundle as well (including the 2.0 if I ever finish it.)

(Jul 25, 2013 06:23 PM)SethWillits Wrote:  - It could be really cool to get a non-uDG developer involved in including their game in the bundle as a bonus game.

I dig this, as long as the bundle stays primarily uDG and the entries don't become overshadowed. It might be cool to see this become like a premier Mac game bundle if it takes off, but would still like to focus primarily on strengthening the new developer scene as well.

(Jul 25, 2013 06:23 PM)SethWillits Wrote:  - Mix and match bundles. In the future, if there really are a lot of good games, do we offer a choice of 10 games to the customer, and they pick any 5? Does this provide any benefit to anyone whatsoever?

This seems overly complicated, and only adds a layer of frustration for the people who want all the games (they have to make two purchases, and have to pay an extra buck.) Also, it creates another layer of competition with developers as well— instead of just trying to get into the bundle (top 10) you have a second goal of trying to get to the top 5 that people are likely to choose.

(Jul 25, 2013 06:23 PM)SethWillits Wrote:  - In past uDG competitions, as long as you could be really good at *something*, you could get a prize, and I think that definitely encouraged some budding developers to join. Since we want to continue encouraging newcomers, how do we do that?

We should make it clear that even if a game doesn't make it, new devs can and should continue to refine their work if they want. And it would be awesome to see more experienced devs helping these games out with feedback and perhaps even mentoring and getting them to the point where they are included in the bundle.

We just need to convey a constant vibe of "keep working at it, we will help you level up, and you will get there soon enough."

(Jul 25, 2013 06:23 PM)SethWillits Wrote:  - The idea of a MacAddict-esque front end app is somewhat appealing, but at the same time it's functionally pointless.

The fact that the front end is functionally pointless is what could make it really cool. It also sets us apart from every other bundle, which basically just poops out a zip file with every game in it. (Although pooping out zip files should still be an option for those that don't want the front-end.) I also like the thought of us being this cool software magazine.

Finally, the fact that there's this thing tying the developers and games together into one cohesive group with some cool visuals and music would help hammer home the fact that this is a collaborative effort, and establish us as a group/scene/movement that people can join.

If we do a classic uDG bundle to kick things off I'd be happy to take a crack at a front end as a proof of concept.

Justin Ficarrotta
http://www.justinfic.com
"It is better to be The Man than to work for The Man." - Alexander Seropian
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Post: #37
(Aug 12, 2013 12:28 AM)JustinFic Wrote:  With devs still working on a 3 month dev cycle, implementing some sort of time/feature crippling might be too much ancillary work. Additionally, this might be tricky to enforce.

Enforcement is always impossible. Smile

But implementing a time bomb literally takes 2 minutes.

Code:
    if ([[NSDate date] isGreaterThan:[NSDate dateWithNaturalLanguageString:[NSString stringWithFormat:@"%@ %d, %d 12:00 PM", @"December", 1, 2011]]]) {
        NSRunAlertPanel(@"This preview version of my awesome game has expired.", @"Please check uDevGames.com or mycoolsite.com for the full game.",
            @"Right away, boss!", nil, nil, nil, nil);
        [NSApp terminate:nil];
        return;
    }

As with anything, it's hackable, but it's good enough for the "significantly limited". The time bomb should go off before/just at the beginning of the bundle time.


(Aug 12, 2013 12:28 AM)JustinFic Wrote:  I still like peer voting to determine top X (flexible) + an editor's choice or two.

The "still" makes me wonder if you thought I suggested something a bit different? (Other than the editor's choice which I left out.)



Quote:I've already gotten all my old iDG stuff updated and running on Intel (Cote, Arachnoid, Laserface) and would be happy to provide Kung Fu Killforce to a classic uDG bundle as well (including the 2.0 if I ever finish it.)

Excellent. Smile



Quote:
(Jul 25, 2013 06:23 PM)SethWillits Wrote:  - It could be really cool to get a non-uDG developer involved in including their game in the bundle as a bonus game.

I dig this, as long as the bundle stays primarily uDG and the entries don't become overshadowed. It might be cool to see this become like a premier Mac game bundle if it takes off, but would still like to focus primarily on strengthening the new developer scene as well.

Yeah. It would just be a single game so that there's some name recognition and additional promotion.



Quote:The fact that the front end is functionally pointless is what could make it really cool.

lol. I can't bring myself to work on functionally pointless things. I think there's something in my DNA.


Quote:If we do a classic uDG bundle to kick things off I'd be happy to take a crack at a front end as a proof of concept.

Would love to see that. It would definitely take someone with creativity, time, and a vision.





Random thought: video postmortems would be cool.
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Post: #38
I love the idea of the bundle, especially with charitable choices. I like the more conciliatory atmosphere that would create. But, I also appreciate the incentive that a little friendly competition provides. I think keeping a jury or peer vote and some categories, just as icing, would be a wise move.

Generally I think this is all sounding great! I agree with those concerned about asking too much of devs to provide content for a 2x- or 3x-annual event -- that's a lot of work to do for just one outlet for your product. If we assume that an average indie could commit to one, maybe two bundles a year, and given that the pool of entrants for uDG in 2011 wasn't overwhelming, I can see the participation rate being thin enough to be problematic to curate. I would still prefer a once-annual event, especially if we embrace the additional materials such as devlogs, postmortems, or making-of type things.
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Post: #39
1. I'm not a fan of the hard-coded time limit; limits tend to backfire. For example if the contest schedule suddenly changes, devs have to scramble to release a new version with the changed date. (This has happened in the past I believe, but in that case the wrong date was merely being displayed in the readme or splash screen.)

In addition, if someone thinks my unfinished game is cool and keeps it on their hard drive, I don't want it to not run if they fire it up 6 months later. I'd prefer it to run, let them show it to their friend, follow the link to my website, and so on.

2. I like the idea of being able to resubmit a game to a future bundle. But what does it mean to be coding a game within a 3 month schedule when I'm competing against games that have been under development for a year or more? This question has come up in past contests and we've had rules about not submitting a game which had public exposure prior to the contest, but that clearly doesn't apply to bundle submissions.

Seems to me the three-month schedule is a fiction that we can (finally!) get rid of completely. There is a deadline for bundle submissions, 3 months after that the votes are tallied, and that's it. (People will TEND to work during those 3 months because that's the best time to get feedback and inspiration.)

3.
> I agree with those concerned about asking too much of
> devs to provide content for a 2x- or 3x-annual event

Me too. If we aren't careful, all the rejects from one bundle will end up being the winners of the next bundle by default.

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Post: #40
(Aug 12, 2013 09:26 AM)SethWillits Wrote:  But implementing a time bomb literally takes 2 minutes.

Oh sick. We could even stick that snippet somewhere that devs could/should just drop into their code around the entry point of their game. Takes it from 2 minutes to 2 seconds.

(Aug 12, 2013 09:26 AM)SethWillits Wrote:  
(Aug 12, 2013 12:28 AM)JustinFic Wrote:  I still like peer voting to determine top X (flexible) + an editor's choice or two.

The "still" makes me wonder if you thought I suggested something a bit different? (Other than the editor's choice which I left out.)

Nah, the "still" was me not realizing I'd said it earlier in the thread, and qualifying it with one word because it was late and I was tired.

(Aug 12, 2013 09:26 AM)SethWillits Wrote:  
Quote:If we do a classic uDG bundle to kick things off I'd be happy to take a crack at a front end as a proof of concept.

Would love to see that. It would definitely take someone with creativity, time, and a vision.

Groovy. I'm on the case. I've got an idea of what it could look and feel like but would love to hear from people on what they'd like to see in it.

(Aug 12, 2013 09:26 AM)SethWillits Wrote:  Random thought: video postmortems would be cool.

Agreed. I've also been kicking around doing some sort of video tutorial series, if other devs are interested we could start a little video tuts section on the site.

Justin Ficarrotta
http://www.justinfic.com
"It is better to be The Man than to work for The Man." - Alexander Seropian
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Post: #41
(Aug 12, 2013 02:11 PM)MattDiamond Wrote:  1. I'm not a fan of the hard-coded time limit; limits tend to backfire. For example if the contest schedule suddenly changes, devs have to scramble to release a new version with the changed date. (This has happened in the past I believe, but in that case the wrong date was merely being displayed in the readme or splash screen.)

In addition, if someone thinks my unfinished game is cool and keeps it on their hard drive, I don't want it to not run if they fire it up 6 months later. I'd prefer it to run, let them show it to their friend, follow the link to my website, and so on.

I'm in this camp as well— I do kind of like the thought of early prototypes surviving out there in the wild. My strategy if we enforced some limitation of builds would be to only release prototypes during the first two months. The last month is crazy crunchtime anyway; I never really have time to package something up between the two-month mark and the deadline.

(Aug 12, 2013 02:11 PM)MattDiamond Wrote:  Seems to me the three-month schedule is a fiction that we can (finally!) get rid of completely.

I like this a lot. All we'd need to have is a schedule for releasing new "issues" of the bundle.

This would also encourage new developers a lot as well— they don't have to wait until the start of one compo to begin making their game. I almost entered uDev 2003 but didn't because it was already going when I learned about it.

(Aug 12, 2013 02:11 PM)MattDiamond Wrote:  If we aren't careful, all the rejects from one bundle will end up being the winners of the next bundle by default.

It's something we'd have to try and see, but I don't think it would be that much of a problem, and it would be a good problem to have. We'd of course have games every time that were in development for 2-3 (or more) cycles, but the best case is still that a developer is able to get into a bundle in one cycle.

It's possible that given enough bundles and games and developer experience, the optimal amount of time to spend on a game becomes two cycles. Or even three. (It would definitely relieve a lot of pressure on the developer.) But even that might be ok, as long as it doesn't limit the number of games in the long run.

Quote:Also, perhaps individual developers can have the option of donating a portion to some charity or something with the paid bundle.

I think this is definitely worth setting up— non-compete clauses are definitely an issue (although from my experience, there are two kinds of non-competes: the one printed on your contract, and the one your employer keeps in their brain, and these rarely have the same terms. This has bitten me in both of my industry jobs) and I think charities are a huge part of why Humble has been so successful and widely spread. For one share, they benefitted from a ton of returned goodwill, and they made that share back and then some.

Justin Ficarrotta
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"It is better to be The Man than to work for The Man." - Alexander Seropian
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Post: #42
I just emailed JustinFic about possibly helping with a udevgames.com reboot mockup, but quickly realized I should just put these thoughts here:

I actually think the existing uDG site is a great start, functionality-wise. (I hadn't looked at it until just now.) This is a pretty okay marketing page for Your Story:

http://udevgames.com/entries/your-story

The things I'd like to see in a new site would be:

* A bigger focus on magazine-style "issues." Just having bundles at all might solve this problem.
* A design that favors players more than programmers
* Better unification on the game pages with written materials and videos - dev log posts and articles inline with the game description, rather than hidden behind links. More of a hierarchy, I suppose. If I go to the KFKF page and click Postmortem, it goes to an article that doesn't even have a back-link to the KFKF page. Instead, there should always be a bigass "download the game" link on any page related to that game.
* Better connection between one authors' games. Without browsing around, I can't actually tell that you're a repeat offender.

The functionality seems to basically already be present. It's more of a design issue.

Going by evidence alone, Ludum Dare is much of the way there to a really compelling web experience. It's just really hacked up Wordpress. uDevGames has the potential to be a well-designed version of that and to be a lot more engaging to the world at large.

My web site - Games, music, Python stuff
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Post: #43
Quote:The functionality seems to basically already be present. It's more of a design issue.

There was a significant time issue, mostly. Smile

The disjointedness between the iDG and uDG sites is purely pragmatic time-constraint. The site could be better in functionality and layout. I had more plans but just didn't have time to complete it all.

In terms of look, I was happy with the way it came out. It's clean and neutral without being boring and flat, but it would be nice if each game page had more personality. The best way to make more stylized pages requires cooperation and *time*, which during a 3 month coding blitz is quite limited.



The first steps toward making this happen is to contact the developers of old uDG games and polish them up for re-release. Meanwhile the site can be built.

I don't see the competition being held for many months. There's a bunch of prep work and I'm fairly slammed with work on a big 2.0 app release which I am feverishly working on every day. I'm aiming for a January release, but I'm still not quite sure how much work I have left. This is a significant priority for me so I can't drop everything to work on iDG for a couple months just yet.

A significantly time consuming part of this is deciding on the website's layout and functional flow. I haven't yet made a detailed list of "musts" and "wants" for the site. After that it's determining the actual individual pages of the site and how they fit together so it's not some disgusting disjointed mess. Style isn't important as much as layout and flow.

If someone wants to spend time on making dummy mockups in photoshop or even html, that would be useful just to get the ball rolling. But if you do, please don't spend a huge amount of time on intricate detail or visual style. Stick to the raw basics. Simple labelled boxes are fine to start with. There will certainly be many changes and revisions so unless you are Genius Website Designer Extraordinaire it's likely to be completely ripped apart. (You should see how many times I change things...)
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Post: #44
Strange Flavour would certainly be up for sponsoring if there's a new uDG. I'm sure some of the previous contestants who've gone on to success in the industry might either be up to sponsor a prize or have contacts with companies that could.

uDG should definitely have a Mac game category and ideally an iOS one too. Open source isn't so critical (and would certainly put off a lot of potential contestants) but a few limits on file size would keep the library usage down a bit and make for quick downloads.

Judging for iOS would be tricky of course without either the game being released or somehow including all judges on provisioning lists (which can be a bit of an issue). A limited number of judges might help there, that or simply making it a requirement that games must be on the App Store by the time judging starts.
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Post: #45
So reading some of the great ideas in the whole thread. One of the better ones was that iDG becomes a publisher on the App Store/Mac App Store.

For the sake of $198 (which a sponsor could provide Wink ) you set up iDG with a developer account and contestants agree that if they're selected as winners, they will be published through iDG, with iDG getting a tiny cut to cover running costs, advertising future contests and actually advertising the current winners.

While it may seem like a winner is giving up a bit of potential royalties by not self publishing, there's a big advantage to collecting a good group of games under the iDG banner.

For starters, the whole collection can be advertised as winners and having a decent selection of games under one publisher makes it a lot easier for them to cross promote one another and be discovered by people on the App Stores. Plus, if there's a bit of revenue skimmed from the royalties of all the apps, iDG can spend it on advertising, which would boost the sales of all the iDG winners.

At the end of the day, if you want the devs to be able to have their own games back to self publish after say a year, the App Store lets you transfer them now. So there can be the option for them to transfer after a set period of time.
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