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uDevGames Reboot Brainstorm

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Post: #16
It seems like a majority like the idea of a bundle and sale as several people have suggested it over time (IRC and here), and your approach is a good source of thought. The PR reasoning is spot on. I will mull this over more but just some quick questions to consider regarding any kind of bundle approach:

- What determines whether a game is in a bundle?
- Is 3 months (especially if this has to happen quarterly) too short to produce enough games worthy of sale?
- What's the key differentiator that makes this preferable to just accepting any finished game and selling a bundle?
- If there is, what is the benefit to the developers that don't enter or get into the bundle? (What's the philanthropic angle?)

(You've already touched on some of the answers.)
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Post: #17
(Jul 23, 2013 09:08 PM)Oddity007 Wrote:  1) No open source requirement.

2) Every entry requires a postmortem.

Totally agree with both of these. Postmortems are great. For source, I'd say we encourage devs to put up snippets and algorithms as they go instead of full projects after the deadline. I too find snippets to be much more useful than whole projects. Typically, there are a few brilliant bits in each of my projects, and the rest is horrific garbage.

And source theft is not only something that CAN happen, it WILL happen. (The stolen version of The Supporter is still up on the MAS for twenty bucks Fail )

(Jul 23, 2013 09:08 PM)Oddity007 Wrote:  3) The normal uDG is done annually or semiannually

SethWillits Wrote:- What determines whether a game is in a bundle?

So if we still want to have a compo going on, we could combine the two and have the bundle be the winners from the contest. Perhaps the top X overall games, plus perhaps an Editor's Choice or two (some games might have low scores because they simply weren't ambitious, but be perfectly fun and shippable.)

Top X prevents just anyone from doing minimal effort to put a game in the bundle, which we DO want to avoid. The bundle as a whole would need to be as good as possible each time, which means great games and maximized signal-to-noise.

A catch to the contest + bundle would be public voting— it would require that the public get the games to vote, prior to the bundle launching. Which means the bundle would likely be bought by people who already have the games, and are just feeling charitable enough to pay for it after the fact. Kinda like early 90s shareware, I guess, but it kills the advantage of the bundle being the first place you can try the games.

I'm leaning toward keeping SOME sort of competition, but to remove public voting completely, as well as published results, barring which games made it into the bundle. I'd be more inclined to keep it to peer voting, or if there was a way to extend it to registered forum members that might be even better.

SethWillits Wrote:- Is 3 months (especially if this has to happen quarterly) too short to produce enough games worthy of sale?

(Jul 23, 2013 09:08 PM)Oddity007 Wrote:  4) A secondary "finalization" run done in the 3 months after each uDG

I'd say 3 months is plenty to get some awesome stuff— if you go back over previous contests and make a bundle for each out of the top 8 games plus 2 more of your choice, a lot of those bundles would be pretty sweet.

But more time to polish might be cool too. I know there's always a lot of cut features from my stuff in each uDG and I could always use time to polish it up. However, I've also found that any time you give yourself to polish, you WILL fill it up (still working on Kung Fu Killforce 2.0.... *gun to head emoticon*) so another 3 months might be overkill. I'd say a month, max.

SethWillits Wrote:- What's the key differentiator that makes this preferable to just accepting any finished game and selling a bundle?
- If there is, what is the benefit to the developers that don't enter or get into the bundle? (What's the philanthropic angle?)

What would make this preferable to just having a bundle of any ol' games is that it highlights us as a community— THE Mac game development community. If the bundle itself were presented regularly, as one coherent thing (as opposed to just a zip file of 8 folders of games) and as a celebration of the games and authors as a whole, it could be a really cool thing that players would subscribe to.

Another totally random idea would be to have some sort of front-end application that presents the games, results from the contest if any, and developer info, with links to the devlogs and postmortems. Kinda like what MacAddict magazine did with The Disc every month, but more developer-centric. If we did this I could try whipping one up using old uDG entries.

For the non-bundled developers, there would be the devlogs, source snippets, and postmortems. Additionally, if we design the rules right, developers could be motivated to help along fellow entrants, so that the bundle as a whole is as good as possible. As an example, if the results were removed from the contest, and the only recognition given is WHICH X games make the bundle (similar to how PAX 10 works) developers will only compete with each other up to the point where they feel they made the top X, after which they're actually better off helping other games through feedback or maybe even contributing code or assets.

Another totally random thought— perhaps games entered into one uDG that don't make the bundle can be worked on again in the subsequent uDG? That way they won't be discouraged if heavy hitters enter, and can take part in the festivities. The goal should be to attract newbies to the community, and encourage them to join in the game dev by way of educational material created during the compo and rules designed to both get them in, and get the established regulars to help them along.

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: #18
uDevGames Magazine: A tri-yearly production.

In this issue:
Games:
Justin Fic's Shooter3d!
Alex Diener's Water Tower 4D
Raws: Tales from Hell vol. 2
DanLab: Golfing with the stars

In text:
Postmortems for each game this issue!
SpriteKit tutorial by Alex Sikora
Advanced 3D Graphics by Keith Bauer
How to make coder audio by the_audio_guy

Plus a special feature:
An update on teh1's Once I Owned a Kestral, progress and will it ever come out?

Just a thought I had, to kind of revive the old school tech magazine feel, but rebooted. It would kind of be a magazine in name only, but would contain the postmortems and maybe other articles as well as the games, and maybe even other content (audio/graphics/asset contest?). You could do a split of revenue too, to encourage post mortems. A simple example.
70% to games (split between devs)
20% to articles (split between authors)
10% to idev.
I dunno the specifics of the numbers, but maybe you could let the subscriber choose, to support which content they like most (maybe with a minimum of 10% to each or something).
It would combine a magazine with a bundle.

Alex
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Post: #19
uDevGames Bundles
===============================================================================


At its core:

- Produce and sell a regular bundle of games

Key benefits:

- Group promotion of the bundle enhances pr for everyone
- Selling puts money in devs' pockets — clear benefit to participate

Questions:

- How are games chosen
- How are they sold
- Community benefit




How Games are Chosen
===============================================================================


A key principle in selling a bundle is making the bundle saleable. Potential customers should want to play the games, meaning the games should be of sufficient quality.

uDevGames has always been a competition, and the competitive element should remain. Instead of developers competing for prizes however, they are competing for a slot in a bundle, as realistically only a select number of "the best" games available can be chosen to be part of the bundle.



The Competition
-----------------------------------------------------------

**How Often**

Past uDevGames events were (at least indended to be) held annually, but in order to build more recognition among gamers, the bundle sale should occur more often. How often a bundle can be created depends on the availability of new quality games. As such, the competition, at least initially, will intend to be semi-annually and adjust to become more frequent as more games are produced due to more developers participating.


The stages for each bundle offering are:

1. Develop the games.
2. Accept submissions.
3. Selection process.
4. Setup bundle website.
5. Promote and sell the bundle
6. Bundle ends, devs release the game on their own site

All the while somewhere during this devs are probably still fixing little bugs. All of that happening *within* a 3 month span is too much work. Every four months might work out just right. It's enough time for a 3 month dev cycle with breathing room between them to include time for iDG and developers to finalize and sell the bundle, promote the snot out of the bundle, handle post-bundle website updates, sleep and take a shower.



**Availability**

The development process of each game is of significant interest to many; not only to other developers, but also to some in the general public. Having devblogs and other information available to the public during the development time of a game is a good way to build awareness and support before its release.

A crucial question, however, is whether or not the games are available to be played by the general public during the development process. If the games are available to play (such as the final testing version before final submission to the competition), then it would undermine the saleability of the final bundle.

Although making the games available for testing among as many people as possible would improve the quality of the final games, it's important to keep the integrity of the bundle sale. With that in mind, the "full game" cannot be available to the general public until after the end of the bundle sale. For this purpose, the "full game" is considered to be a version which is substantially representative of the final submission to the competition which may be included in the bundle.

Test versions available to the public must therefore be limited in some signficant way, such as feature crippling (limited levels are available in a build) or a time bomb where the game will not run after a certain number of days or after the date the bundle sale begins. This would mean that either the full game is not available to test, or if it is, it can only be tested for a short time period and not played after the day the bundle sale begins.

Each developer can do private testing of any version in any manner they wish.



**Rules**

Like past competitions, all games submitted into the competition must be substantially original material created by the entrant. The use of publicly and privately available libraries, frameworks, engines, artwork, etc is allowed.

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:

- The game must not have been included in any past uDevGames bundle

- The game must still comply with the "Availability" restrictions above. That is, no version of the game may have been publicly available (for sale or for free), OR the new entry that is submitted must be substantially different from publicly available versions (such as significantly more levels added, or fundamental changes.)

Note that this allows entries from past competitions to be resubmitted (so long as it was not included in any past uDevGames bundle). This option allows a developer to rework and refine a game for another chance at inclusion in an upcoming bundle, yet to the customers all entries are still new previously-unavailable games.


This departure from past competitions potentially raises the quality level of games available for selection, inherently increasing the quality of the bundle itself, and thus making it more attractive to potential customers.

With no restriction on the development time for a game, it is conceivable that a game with a short development time may not be competitive for a slot in the bundle. While this is a possibility, a developer of a long-dev-time game must always weigh the balance between the possibility of being included in the bundle, and being free of any restriction and selling on their own, as the later may be more profitable.




Inclusion in the bundle
-----------------------------------------------------------

There are four obvious paths for determining which games are included in the bundle:

- A public vote where the top N get in.
- A peer vote where the top N get in.
- iDG staff's discretion
- Some combination of the above.

I would like to discount having a public vote. It relies on a) the masses, and b) having masses to rely on. It also most crucially probably relies on the public having the games in the first place. It is simpler (and possibly more effective) to only directly involve the public when trying to promote the finished products, rather than have the public disect which games are good and which are bad. We're supposed to only be giving them good games in the first place!

Peer votes in past contests have worked well enough, and I think a peer vote should determine the pecking order of games.



Number of Games
-----------------------------------------------------------

Then the question is: How many games should be in each bundle?

**Fixed Number**

With a pre-determined fixed number of games in each bundle, there are two potential problems. The first is not having enough good games; If there are supposed to be 7 but the 6th and 7th ranked games have too many bugs or are clearly underwhelming, it's not helpful to try to sell them. The second possibility is having too many good games; By only accepting 5, but there being another 3 games that are still quite good and worthy enough of sale, this means the customer potentially misses out. In this case, those 3 developers would miss out on the bundle and either 1) sell it only on their own, or 2) hold out and resubmit again in the next competition. C'est la vie.


**Flexible Number**

With a flexible number of games in each bundle, there is the question of how to determine the cutoff point. In this case the only answer is leaving it up to iDG staff's infinite wisdom.


**What to do**

A flexible number seems the right answer to me (while aiming to be close to a fixed number), but it also quite possibly means some of you will yell at (sad face) and attempt to bribe (sneaky face) me.

Characteristics I would judge on are (pretty much in order):

- Stability (no bugs, no crashers)
- Polish
- Length of game and replay value
- My intuition




Community Chest
===============================================================================

uDevGames has always had a philanthropic angle with requiring all entries to be open sourced, and winning entries supplying a postmortem. In keeping with this spirit, all entrants would be required to create some piece of content for iDevGames. That content can be:

- An article or tutorial on a game development topic:
- An explanation of how the sound/input/particle/physics/ system in your game works
- An explanation of the AI in your game
- A beginner tutorial on using engine XYZ
- An example of integrating library XYZ into a game
- A tutorial on particular algorithm
- How to create a certain data structure from scratch
- A video tutorial of how to make art in Photoshop
- A book review of a game development book
- An original collection of assets to be used under Creative Commons
- Sprites
- Background art
- Sounds effects
- Music
- A postmortem on a previous game
- etc

As long as the content is original and game development related, you're good to go. Content/topics may need to be approved, and the final product is required at the time the game is submitted. A first draft should be required X days before the final submission as a way to ensure the relevance and quality of the content.

In addition to the original content above, for entries selected to be in the bundle the developer will be required to write a postmortem so that it is available at the time the game is being sold as part of the bundle. (There will be a period after the submission deadline and before bundle sale that participants will have to write the postmortem.)




Bundle Sales
===============================================================================

Being honest, Humble Bundle has a great formula which would work well, but we'll make some simplifications.

- Limited time only (two weeks? a month?)
- No DRM
- OS X version required, others downloadable if available
- Choose any amount (greater or equal to $1 for payment processing reasons)

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.

(I recently discovered international payments can be a huge pain, so for my own sanity there has to be a requirement that the developer can accept funds via PayPal, credit card payment via a reputable payment processor, or accept a check from a US bank.)



Misc
===============================================================================

There are a number of other details that would need to be decided when settling on rules and procedures etc, but a few ideas I have floating around:


- 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. This would involve packaging up a collection of the best games from past contests. (This would probably require some help from the original developers to make some minor updates — bug fixes, change included uDG artwork, whatever else they want.) The games would be FREE, but donations would be accepted.

- It could be really cool to get a non-uDG developer involved in including their game in the bundle as a bonus game. Finding willing partners could very well be a challenge, but basically any developer selling a commercial game could effectively sponsor the bundle by being part of it. uDG would certainly benefit from their participation, and I think they could possibly benefit from the bundle as well.

- 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? (Logically it does in that if a player wants all 10 games, this requires them to pay twice the minimum cost than if all 10 were included in the bundle to begin with. However it might be overly complex for no benefit other than being a bit of a gimmick.)

- Centralized dev blogs are a must, for sure. I really wanted them for 2011 and just ran out of time.

- The thought of the "iDG content" requirement being met by open sourcing the entire game comes to mind.

- I'm wondering how to avoid discouraging newbies from participating.
- As for the content requirement, it might be hard for a true newbie to offer something "valuable" and I can see this requirement even being discouraging. Pondering.
- 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? If there's "no chance" of being in the bundle because the bundle is reserved for the top X games ranked by a single metric, is there something else we can offer to entice newbies? "Prizes" is the usual answer, but let's try to think outside of prizes first.

- The uDG website as before would have a page for each entry. On that page should be some Retweet and Like buttons etc. The sum of those counters could end up being the public voice which perhaps could sway inclusion of a game one way or another if that was needed.

- The idea of a MacAddict-esque front end app is somewhat appealing, but at the same time it's functionally pointless. It would also be quite a bit of work to get it to look good, because to me it should involve a bunch of animation and artwork from the games in the bundle. Like some crazy Flash site. Alex's more "magazine" style thing kinda ties in. I do think something after the Buy! button to make it a cohesive experience would be nice, but really not all that important.

- Postmortems and devblogs for the bundled games should be easily available (and nicely presented) on the bundle sale page.

- Other stuff not worth mentioning now.


-----


I apparently spent 7-8 hours thinking about and writing this out. Shock
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Post: #20
Good stuff, Seth. I definitely like the direction this is headed. Reading through all of that, only one thing really sticks out at me:

(Jul 25, 2013 06:23 PM)SethWillits Wrote:  - The game must still comply with the "Availability" restrictions above. That is, no version of the game may have been publicly available (for sale or for free), OR the new entry that is submitted must be substantially different from publicly available versions (such as significantly more levels added, or fundamental changes.)

Suppose I wanted one of my games included in the bundle, but also wanted to put it up for sale on its own (which would be particularly important if it wasn't a Mac-only game). Could I do that as long as I don't put it up for sale before the bundle releases? So on the bundle's release date, players would have the choice to either buy the game as part of the bundle or on its own from my site. Would an exclusivity period be necessary, and if so, how long?
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Post: #21
If your game is in the bundle, you'd be excluded from selling and otherwise distributing the full game on your own until after the bundle period ended. If you have Linux and Windows versions, uDG would be happy to serve them to bundle customers.
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Post: #22
I love everything so far. Just a couple of suggestions:

* This forum should support Markdown.
* Past entrants should be able to vote in new contests to expand and diversify the voting body, kind of like the Academy Awards.
* There should be more than one person making decisions about bending the rules. (iDevGames Advisory Board?)

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Post: #23
tl;dr
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Post: #24
Liking all of this.

(FWIW I'd be happy to work on an OS X version of Pawns for a retrospective bundle, based on the revamped version I did for iOS. Although, technically Pawns wasn't a uDG entry, it was for the OMG contest. Also, I'm not bothered if other entries are chosen instead! Just offering my support for that part of the plan, such as it is.)

Measure twice, cut once, curse three or four times.
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Post: #25
MattDiamond, I'd also love a Black Cube polish-up. Smile

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Post: #26
OneSadCookie: sigh. Kinda have to read it to be able to agree or disagree with the finer points.

TLDR:
  • Any previously unreleased, unbundled, original/unentered game is allowed.
  • Entrants vote to rank games.
  • Entrants required to create some piece of content for iDG.
  • Top X-Y games are chosen to be in a bundle.
  • Chosen games are required to have a postmortem.
  • Name-your-price bundle sells for some number of weeks.
  • Happens 2-3 times a year.


Additionally, a "best of uDevGames" free bundle of past games would be released to kick things off.

--


One of my favorites was Black Shades, which on a whim I made a new OS X port of this past weekend. (The previous one Derek did was PPC only and he lost the original code to time I think.)
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Post: #27
(Jul 30, 2013 12:12 PM)stevejohnson Wrote:  MattDiamond, I'd also love a Black Cube polish-up. Smile

Thanks for that! I'll take it under advisement. And it WAS a uDG entry, unlike Pawns.

(I confess I did start an iOS port of it last year. While multi-touch makes controlling the cube more intuitive, the presentation still has problems.. I haven't touched it in months. But making it accessible for more gamers is an interesting problem and I find myself thinking about it sometimes.)

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Post: #28
(Jul 30, 2013 07:54 PM)MattDiamond Wrote:  I haven't touched it in months.

LOL
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Post: #29
That didn't come out right. Rasp

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Post: #30
My post probably didn't either... I realized it looked like innuendo after I had already posted it, but I just found your choice of words amusing when you were talking about a multi-touch version of the game.
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