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Posted: Wed Apr 20, 2016 11:19 pm
by Punch
[EDIT (May 13): There's a summary of what is known so far on page 10. --MOD]

When? :P

I feel like this might be a good time to start another compo. It doesn't necessarily needs to be for the next Action 53 cart or have money prizes... It could be a mini compo, some sort of warmup for the real deal later.

Or maybe I'm just eager for another compo. Maybe.

Re: NesDev compo 2016

Posted: Thu Apr 21, 2016 4:56 am
by na_th_an
Count with my vote. It just seems about time!

Re: NesDev compo 2016

Posted: Thu Apr 21, 2016 5:01 pm
by infiniteneslives
Yeah it is about time we get going with this.

Been talking with some folks in private. Feel like we are reinventing the wheel every time we have a new one. But we learn something from each compo, so I guess that's to be expected to some degree.

Some of my thoughts and things I've heard from others which I agree with follow.

1- 3months isn't really enough time for most people to create something significant from scratch. 3months is better for something along the lines of a mini game. Mini games are great and all, but if we're hoping for more significant entries a longer timeline is needed.

2- would be nice to have some sort of annual timeline that can be relied upon. This would combat the time constraint above. If compo entries are expected to be due the same time every year, then people could start whenever they wanted and not have to question when the next compo will be, or if it will occur.

Being late April now, perhaps we can have details of this compo ironed out by late May. If we are providing more than 3 months, then perhaps having a submission date of New Year's makes sense..? That would give 7-8 months of development time.

3- anything we can do to attract entries should be considered. Cash prizes are good, but people new to the scene might be quick to assume they can't win with their first game ever. Last time we gave limited edition cartridges to all contributors which was nice. But it was more effective as a thank you, than an incentive to make an entry I feel. I think we should give out the contributor carts again, but perhaps there is something better to offer to attract new people to the hobby. I'd love to hear any ideas people have to provide more incentive.

One idea I had was to offer some peice of hardware, perhaps something along the lines of a NES flash cart that gave developers a means to test their games on actual hardware. I'd rather not self promote here, so I'll save suggesting my own products. But I'm open to providing them at cost or even donating them if people want to suggest something feel free. I'm guessing other hardware designers will be open to similar proposals. A full fledged $100+ flash cart might be a little on the high end though, but perhaps something like the FDStick..? Although the separate requirement of a RAM adapter an means to connect to a NES is a hurdle. It would be fun to have a FDS mini game submission category though.. I'm working on some new products of my own which I haven't announced yet which would be better fitting for something along these lines. Best to pick something that's already in production somewhere.

Some other things that I think are helpful for a healthy competition would be to promote people to share their progress with their competition entry. This certainly wouldn't be required, but maybe awarding some bonus points at judging for doing so. Or perhaps tying into the idea above of providing some hardware prize to all entries; all contestants who have been providing updates on their project via nesdev/NA thread at the half way point of the competition could be rewarded with the prize at that point. I think posting progress is very helpful for motivation to keep going on a project and see it to completion or at least something worth submitting. This would be true for myself at least, curious what others think.

4- multiple categories... I feel like having the separate categories didn't really work out too well last time based on only having 3 entires. Part of me thinks we're better off with just one defined category, and then an 'anything goes' to welcome any submission and give people an option to not have their work included on the cartridge. If we have a fun idea for a theme like we did for the category 3 mini game/app like last time that's fine, but perhaps we should just consider it part of category 1 entries/judging. Could give bonus judging points for meeting the 'compo's theme' perhaps.

5- cartridge. Last compo the consensus was we didn't have enough material to fill/complete the cartridge. Several other homebrew works were collected and added to the cartridge which was great. And I think we should continue that trend. But waiting for the final rom for the cartridge ended up making us figure we had to wait till the cartridge was released before we could start the next step of another compo. Thinking maybe the better option would be to somewhat remove the cartridge release from the compo. We could have the entries pile up until we had enough submissions to make the cartridge. Doing something like this might even make sense to have 2-4 competitions a year. Don't feel your entry is worthy of submission yet or wish you had more time? Use the next few months and submit then. Of course this wouldn't work so well if it left us only having a few submissions each compo..

Re: NesDev compo 2016

Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 2:26 am
by na_th_an
My two cents:

Setting the deadline by the end of the year seems reasonable to me 7-8 months is plenty of time for a decent entry.

Not really interested in prizes, I'd do it just for kicks, but getting the limited edition cart was a great idea (I simply love it, it's so beautiful!), and it attracts entrants. I like the other ideas you propose. I can't use the FDstick, tho, but anything you want to give away to entice new participants or to incentive participation and updates is good...

A way to entice more people is directly related to the categories issue: add a compo category for NROM-only games. NROM projects may be more feasible for busy or newbie developers and maybe you'll get more completed entries that way. Maybe a best "NROM only" prize and an "best overall game" prize (including ALL games, one never knows!) would be nice.

I also think that "NROM only category" looks better than "minigame category".

As for the cartridge, it's difficult to assess. Maybe having several compos a year but a yearly released compilation cartridge would be a good idea?

Re: NesDev compo 2016

Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 8:28 am
by pubby
I think you're underestimating people's ability to procrastinate and the amount of focus and dedication required to work on a hobby project for seven whole months. I know that I wouldn't be able to do it, even if the prize was really extremely good.

+1 for having a contest though. Sounds like a good idea.

Re: NesDev compo 2016

Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 8:45 am
by infiniteneslives
Thanks for the input guys.

As for the NROM suggestion, from what I recall practically all compo entries have been NROM historically. The last compo we gave people the option to expand up to other discrete mappers if they chose, but no one did. Probably good to make that known and recommend NROM though to give people a good target.

Glad you enjoyed the limited edition contributor's cartridges, we'll certainly be keeping those around in the future.

I like the idea of award for "best NROM", "best overall", "best mini game", etc instead of having multiple categories of entry. That way we can have a theme to the compo if we choose, but not segregate the few entries we have. I also like the idea of "best first compo entry" for people who are submitting an entry for the first time.

I agree with your point pubby about the challenges of procrastination. There is only so much we can do about that.. Ultimately if we have the entries due the same time each year there wouldn't really be an official 'start date'. Does the idea of having a 'half-way' submission in 3-4 months where some prizes would be distributed change anything in your mind? You could consider that your deadline perhaps. Nothing stopping you from making your own deadline and early submission if you know 7 months is too far away. :)

Re: NesDev compo 2016

Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:15 am
by tepples
I recommend describing an acceptable way of soliciting feedback on your entry before submitting the final version without risking disqualification for having submitted already released material. Is the halfway point stuff part of this?

Re: NesDev compo 2016

Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:25 am
by infiniteneslives
tepples wrote:I recommend describing an acceptable way of soliciting feedback on your entry before submitting the final version without risking disqualification for having submitted already released material. Is the halfway point stuff part of this?
Yeah the half way point submission would combat some of those issues as would posting threads with progress. These things would be optional, but I think it's safe to say they'd prove beneficial for those who chose to do so. Could even have a "best progress thread" award..

Re: NesDev compo 2016

Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:34 am
by darryl.revok
Personally, I'm in favor of the idea of rewards for all entries vs. prizes for the best, if the two are mutually exclusive.

The scene is always growing, and there are some people who have been doing this for a very long time. Most people who would be able to bring a game to the competition would probably be honest with themselves that they wouldn't expect to win. There's a core group of programmers, who if they were to get involved, would create an interesting competition, but most of those people are probably involved with their own projects.

I think prizes COULD work best if you have a very active entry pool, preferably arranged in teams, which were ready to produce high quality games. Competition breeds secrecy. If I'm trying to do something better than you, then I don't want to show you what I'm working on before the competition. Theoretically, if you post asking for help, then it wouldn't even benefit me to help you, although, I don't think people on this board would deny help to a competitor.

Another thought, is that getting teams would produce better entries, but would make it harder to organize rewards and prizes.

Just throwing out my two cents for the sake of discussion.

Re: NesDev compo 2016

Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 10:42 am
by dougeff
rewards for all entries
You get a car! And you get a car! Everybody gets a car! --Oprah

Re: NesDev compo 2016

Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 12:24 pm
by zzo38
Allow to opt out of prizes.

Re: NesDev compo 2016

Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 1:09 pm
by infiniteneslives
darryl.revok wrote:Personally, I'm in favor of the idea of rewards for all entries vs. prizes for the best, if the two are mutually exclusive.
What kind of prizes would you like to see? To me cash prizes only really make sense for best judged entries. But I get your point about prizes for all being better than for best. This whole event is not very competitive, it's more of a collaboration. In any event we'll continue with the contributor's limited edition cartridge prize for all, curious if you had some other prize of interest.
zzo38 wrote:Allow to opt out of prizes.
That's true, we had that happen with Shiru for vol 2 where he didn't want the contributor's cartridge. Part of it was due to him not owning a NES and him only owning 60pin consoles. Luckily I found out there were 3 people involved in the mojontwin team so I was able to send them Shiru's cart.

BTW, I have a good supply of 60pin cartridge plastics now and have started drafting up 60pin versions of my boards. So we should be able to offer 60pin versions for releases in the future.

Re: NesDev compo 2016

Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 1:25 pm
by dougeff
What kind of prizes would you like to see?
Free T-shirt.


Or, $20 off your next infinite lives product/purchase, such as Action 53.

Re: NesDev compo 2016

Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 2:21 pm
by darryl.revok
I don't really have a specific prize in mind, just thinking in line of what would promote getting new people to make complete entries.

I think I'd like to make something for the next compilation, and I imagine many others would share my sentiment that it's not for the prizes. Asides from having a cart of my own work to own and show my friends, I'd mostly just want to contribute to the compilation.

I don't know how many copies the last one sold, but having a game on a well-distributed cart is a prize of itself. If somebody makes a simple NES game and puts the ROM online, there's a lot of work involved in getting people to know about it before anybody plays your work. Putting a cart on the compilation guarantees an audience. I'm also not sure about licensing issues, but I'm guessing that after somebody put a game on a compilation cart and it got a little popularity, that there wouldn't be a reason they couldn't then do a limited edition collectors cart, which the NintendoAge community loves.

Re: NesDev compo 2016

Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 4:57 pm
by Punch
So there IS real interest huh. I honestly thought it was just me and this would have a grand total of 0 replies.

I honestly think that a free cartridge is a good enough prize and incentive for entries... of course this doesn't exclude the competition from having a best game cash prize. For the "thanks for participating" prizes, you could also add a free T-Shirt to go with the cart. I would love to have a "NESDev 2016 Compo" shirt for sure, and I sure many more would, it's a simple (and possibly cheap) but cool prize. Cart + shirt + game being "widely" distributed in physical format + possible money prize = what else could you possibly ask for?

About attracting more people to the competition... it's kind of wishful thinking but this might work, not for this one (because my plan requires a lot of work) but for later competitions:
1 - Rebrand compo to "NESDev game jam" or something similar. Not only the term "game jam" is well known in the indie games community, but it also brings a more newbie-friendly tone to the competition.
2 - Create good tutorials (nerdy nights but more polished and with more content); could be for ASM, the C compiler or even Family BASIC (more on that later). Again, this helps to bring more new people to something as daunting as "programming a game that runs on a real NES".
3 - Create open-source/PD version of Hudson's Family BASIC; ok this is probably something that might never be done... but it would be great for the community in general. It is undeniable that Batari BASIC injected new life into the Atari2600 scene, it could be the same with the NES scene. But why Family BASIC you ask? Because I feel like it is a perfectly capable tool of creating games and it can introduce people slowly to asm. Some people have already made STANDALONE family basic games with some kind of tool that makes a basic game into an actual .nes, but the main problem is that the .nes file will always have the whole Family BASIC ROM embedded into it, creating a compatible open source solution can solve that problem.
I feel like this would work wonders in the long run, but it also requires a lot of effort... just wanted to share the idea.