Sunday, July 24, 2016

Lots of things happened!

I got sick.  Boo.  Still recovering from the vestiges of it.

Went to Vienna Teng's concert at Stanford.  It was mind-blowing, wow.  Can't even describe.

EVO happened and Melee was pretty awesome.  Sadly no PPMD (nor Leffen), but there were a lot of really hype moments.  Scar and Toph did great with the commentary as always.  Have to give a grats to hbox for really clutching it out, though I felt bad for Armada since it was soooo close so many times, wow.  I actually feel most happy for Plup, he did amazing, though again I felt bad for his loss against HBox, he definitely cracked and HBox sort of got his number.  It was really disheartening to see in the last (?) game where HBox figured out that he could just literally stay near Plup and crouch without doing anything and Plup had no idea what to do against it because so many options lead to him getting rested (grab whiffs, dsmash gets cc'd, etc.).  I'm sure he could figure it out if he went back to it, but at the time he was just lost, which felt pretty crushing.  EVO is weird since it's only best 2 out of 3 but hey, that's what it is.

I played Inside, which was pretty good!  I personally enjoyed Limbo a bit more and felt like it was more cohesive and strong both in terms of gameplay and artistically, but Inside was still pretty enjoyable as well.  I really like how they took the concepts, cinematic design, and gameplay from Limbo and translated them into a 3D environment in a way that actually made sense.  In a lot of 3D games that have more 2D-style gameplay, the 3rd dimension almost seems like it's sort of just tacked on in an effort to make things look pretty, but for Inside it felt extremely natural, like you really were in a 3D environment that made sense despite only being able to travel to the right and left.

Practiced some calligraphy today!  It was quite fun; I finally feel as though I'm starting to get the hang of it.  It takes a lot of time, for sure, but it's really fun, and there are these rare moments when I finish a letter and feel super awesome because for once it actually turned out really well.

Working on more music stuff...I made three songs in the past few days and each one is slotting into a different album, lol.  I've got so much stuff that's pending's kind of ridiculous.  They're all in various stages too -- some just need album art before they can go out, others need more songs before I can package them together into an album...

Went to the Eldritch Moon prerelease!  It was pretty fun and I was happy with my performance.  I went 2-1 with a BR madness deck featuring Triskaidekaphobia.  My match loss in round 1 was due to getting killed twice with Triskaidekaphobia...ugh.  After the event was over I thought back and I definitely punted on some plays, so not entirely happy with that, but definitely "good enough" to feel happy about it.  Unfortunately I didn't see a single emerge card get cast in any of my matches so I'm still in the dark of just exactly how good those cards are.  I have a pretty good general sense, but it's really hard to say without actually seeing it play out...

Played through Planetarian, finally!  That's been on my todo list for quite a long time now, so I finally sat down and went through it.  It was really good, probably a little better (and sadder) than I expected.  I think it just ended up resonating personally with me in a slightly unexpected way, the whole thing about a past that is no longer there for you, and how you would just keep waiting for it to return no matter what.  Yeah, that's definitely relevant to me.

*Begin LD rant*

There's some unfortunate drama going on in the Ludum Dare community regarding the upcoming August Ludum Dare.  It's kind of sad to see; yet at the same time, I can totally understand why everything is happening the way it is, sort of like it was inevitable.  Basically the issue is that PoV wants to retire the current LD website due to several issues, such as concerns about the voting system, cheaters, etc, and as such he wants to not run LD in august and come back with a new site in December.  Regardless of whether or not "new LD" in December is actually a success (that's a whole other topic), people in the community still wanted an LD in August.  The problem is that there's conflict about how the heck this community-driven LD should be run.  The plurality of votes indicated that people want to try running an LD like normal, but without the rating system.  But there's other people who want to run the LD with the old rating system one more time.  And there's also people who just want to run a separate thing altogether on

Unfortunately it's all sort of a mess because LD is super decentralized by nature.  Without PoV defining and giving form to everything and steering the ship, there's no good way to form anything concrete.  There's tons of people who "want to help out" as well as tons of people who each have their own ideas about what should be done, but in the end that's just a recipe for disaster as you just have too many chefs in the kitchen.  A vote was made, and people wanted an LD without ratings, but now there's backlash from everyone else who didn't want that as well as people who are unhappy at PoV for not being transparent enough and basically for not seceding control to the hordes.

As someone who has placed as highly as #2 in LD before I honestly am not happy with the rating system.  When I started doing LD I really didn't care about that too much, but after getting 2nd place with Ripple Runner I realized that placing highly actually drove tons of web traffic to my game, and also drove sales of my soundtracks.  This is not only because of people discovering my game organically, but because my game would go on to get featured in articles and other posts (not to mention having a bit of a cult following in Korea).  So placing highly in LD actually has MONETARY impact as well as helping to establish my brand/presence.

Given that, it feels terrible that my game is being rated by (no offense) a bunch of random nobodys in an unstructured system.  There are a LOT of holes in the rating system:

- Friends can vote each other really highly
- If you're malicious, you can just create a bunch of accounts and upvote yourself
- You can also just downvote other people's games
- Third-party assets are often used even when they shouldn't be
- People often rate based on the post-compo versions of games instead of the 48hr/72hr versions
- People tend to rate games higher based on "cheap gimmicks"
- 5-star rating system maybe isn't good enough to differentiate between the best of the best
- No protection against updating your game silently after the deadline and claiming you "fixed some minor bugs"

I really don't know how you can fix all of this, though.  I just don't think it's possible to have structured voting without utilizing an actual panel or jury.  So I think your options are:

A) Have an actual panel or jury of people to rate games
This will never work for LD for a multitude of reasons.  There are too many games, it's against the whole "free, decentralized, do whatever" spirit of LD, people would be butthurt by the panel, etc.

B) Have subpar ratings like current LD does
The argument for this being that having ratings is better than not, which to be fair is a good argument -- how could you make LD worse by adding an additional feature?  The problem again is that as LD grows larger and becomes a Big Deal there is more and more incentive to do unscrupulous things in your own favor.  Again, placing in the top 3 of Ludum Dare would drive MONETARY benefits for me.  If I was just some nobody who places #832 out of 2,000, I would totally be on board with this option.  However, having actually been in the top 10 six times, I'm not as sure.

C) Have no ratings
The argument for this is that the current rating system is laughable and inaccurate.  I have seen several complaints about ratings for games (and have some of my own) that lead me to believe that sometimes they hurt more than they help.  This includes games being rated more times than they were downloaded (clearly fishy), someone also complained that a game that used only text received a higher graphics score than his, etc etc.  I've commonly complained that you can't get 1st place in audio unless you make a rhythm-based game, etc.

Secret option D I guess would be to have ratings, but no actual "ranking list" based on those ratings.  Which at first seems like a good idea, but it's also kind of silly -- what's to prevent someone from just crawling the entries and making the ranking list themselves?

It's worth noting that Global Game Jam, which is probably the other big game dev jam that I know of besides LD, has no compo-wide winners or ratings.  Instead, voting is done on a site-by-site basis, so you're voting for and with your peers, and it's a much smaller group of people -- everyone who is voting has had the chance to see demonstrations of ALL the games they could vote for.  Also, some sites have industry panelists on-board for judging.  So this is actually an educated vote that I would trust much more.

All in all I really don't think there is a perfect solution (and I doubt that the "new LD" site will change that).  Yes, I would rather have "better, more structured, more fair, more validated ratings" than "poorly thought-out ratings", but to be honest, whether we keep the rating system or not, I'm fine either way.  My strongest opinion is actually that people need to stop being butthurt and that we should just go ahead and do the August LD without ratings, to SEE what happens.  If LD ends up sucking as a result, so be it -- we've learned our lesson and we know never to do things that way in the future.  For christ's sake, it's just one time...


*End rant*

Life is pretty OK for now, if unexciting.  Just hanging in there for now...


Some better reading on the whole rating fiasco:

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