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Our experience with entering a mobile game into the IGF

02-22-2012, 04:00 PM
#1
Our experience with entering a mobile game into the IGF

Hey, for all the developers out there we'd like to share what we experienced with this year's IGF (hint: it's not positive), so you can be aware what your $100 buys you and whether it's worth it or not.

Hopefully some of your save $100 in the future!
02-22-2012, 05:59 PM
#2
My experience was even worse in the student section. I left a comment on your blog, but I'll post it here as well.

I entered my iOS game “Foozle” into the student competition portion so it was free. My experience was far worse. After pestering the contacts I had at IGF a couple times, about a week before the *extended* student judging deadline I finally got an email asking for promo-codes(mind you, without the extended deadline I wouldn’t have even been asked for promo-codes for the judges prior to the announcement of winners). Of the 10 promo codes they asked for, exactly 1 was actually redeemed. So, in the student portion I got a single play on an iOS game that has over 200 ratings averaging 5 stars in the app store. I didn’t want to be a whiner, but if it’s widespread that’s just not acceptable.

02-23-2012, 02:18 AM
#3
norman: you're welcome!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jhspaybar View Post
So, in the student portion I got a single play on an iOS game that has over 200 ratings averaging 5 stars in the app store.
Holy crap. That's insane. The most depressing part about today was seeing other developers like yourself come out of the woodwork and talk about similar, mostly worse experiences. I (naively) thought we were an exception.
02-23-2012, 05:59 AM
#4
Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 158
This is really disappointing. I was thinking of submitting a game next year, but if your game doesn't even get a fair chance, what's the point. It's even more frustrating considering it's $100 to enter.
02-23-2012, 06:15 AM
#5
Joined: Feb 1983
Location: Barcelona
Posts: 1,268,707
The IGF is actually one of the more thorough and well organized gaming competitions I've been involved in. The "problem" with IGF is shared amongst all competitions that I know of, even expanding outside of video games. It hinges entirely on the free time of judges. I feel I personally contributed to the IGF in a valuable way, but I didn't judge my games until close to the deadline and many of them I only played for a few minutes. Why? Because that's all I needed to play them for.

In something like the IGF, you're dealing with a much higher caliber of competition. There are some genuinely fantastic games in the competition this year, like all years. If a game doesn't grab me inside of the first five minutes, it's not something I'm voting for... Especially when there are games like Beat Sneak Bandit that are immediately gripping, remarkably innovative, and in my opinion perfectly represents what the IGF is even looking for in a winner.

A port of a Gameboy game, on the other hand, just flat out isn't very interesting. The Test Flight play time logs are a fabulous indication of that. It's not judges being lazy, or not giving your game a fair shake.

That being said, some of the games I judged I only played for a few minutes because they were not good games. For a game that's obviously flawed, there's just not much reason to keep pounding your head against it in hopes that it gets better. Hell, I'd say in something like the IGF with the number of entries they have and the games we had to judge that if your game isn't immediately gripping, it's not something I'm voting for... ESPECIALLY in the mobile space where initial impressions are so important.

We do the same thing when we do an initial evaluation of a game we might review on TouchArcade. In many cases, five minutes of play time is generous. It usually takes far less time than that to determine that a game isn't worth pursuing.

There were a lot more interesting titles in the IGF this year than a virtual controls-laden Gameboy port, fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it. If I was assigned Kale in Dinoland, I likely wouldn't have played it for very long either before moving on to more interesting games.

I guess the mistake the IGF made was clarifying that submitting your game to the IGF didn't guarantee that a panel of volunteers play it to completion. Thinking your game didn't get a fair shake because of this is a very flawed conclusion to come to, even more so that you're considering "What your $100 buys you."

It doesn't "buy" you anything. It's an entry fee. Without an entry fee the IGF would have thousands of entires and would be impossible to manage or judge. $100 seems like a good amount to determine that someone is serious enough about their project to submit it for judging.

Last edited by Eli; 02-23-2012 at 06:54 AM. Reason: Clarification.
02-23-2012, 06:54 AM
#6
Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hodapp View Post
The IGF is actually one of the more thorough and well organized gaming competitions I've been involved in. That being said, some of the games I judged I only played for a few minutes because they were not good games. For a game that' obviously flawed, there's just not much reason to keep pounding your head against it in hopes that it gets better. Hell, I'd say in something like the IGF with the number of entries they have and the games we had to judge that if your game isn't immediately gripping, it's not something I'm voting for... ESPECIALLY in the mobile space where initial impressions are so important.

We do the same thing when we evaluate a game for review on TouchArcade. In many cases, five minutes of play time is generous.

There were a lot more interesting titles in the IGF this year than a virtual controls-laden Gameboy port, fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it. If I was assigned Kale in Dinoland, I likely wouldn't have played it for very long either before moving on to more interesting games.
This makes a lot of sense. I definitely agree that initial impressions are important, but I can see where it's frustrating to submit a game and have it barely played, especially when you're paying for the privilege.

Did you discover any new games while judging that did grip your attention that you had not heard of or had a chance to play before? I'm curious because the appeal for the IGF for me would be a chance to make something interesting and have a fair shake at getting it noticed.

If the nominated games are only games that are "known" indie games, and the judges are too overwhelmed with entries to pay attention to anything new, then the competition doesn't seem worth it. On the other hand, if most of the entries are really just crap, but an unexpected and interesting game can still get noticed, it might be worthwhile.
02-23-2012, 07:04 AM
#7
Joined: Feb 1983
Location: Barcelona
Posts: 1,268,707
Well, I had never heard of the game Beatbuddy before, I voted it highly, and it got an honorable mention in the process. For as "broken" as people claim the IGF is, it sure always seems to excel at finding and honoring incredible indie titles.
02-23-2012, 07:30 AM
#8
Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hodapp View Post
Well, I had never heard of the game Beatbuddy before, I voted it highly, and it got an honorable mention in the process. For as "broken" as people claim the IGF is, it sure always seems to excel at finding and honoring incredible indie titles.
Cool, if new games really do have a fair chance to get noticed then it seems ok to me. I'm just worried the average judge is so overwhelmed with titles that they only pay attention to games that already have a large following. Beatbuddy looks awesome, btw.
02-23-2012, 08:18 AM
#9
Joined: Dec 2009
Location: Berlin, Germany
Posts: 1,674
Well hard to compete with fez or esther with an gameboy-esque game.

Maybe some expect to much from their game.. even under indies the competition is strong..

As for judges and playtesting.. i can understand both positions.

Maybe they should raise the entrie fee and give part of the money to the judges so they can spend some more time with them..

There are games that need more than 5 minutes to let the user click..
02-23-2012, 11:42 AM
#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hodapp View Post
That being said, some of the games I judged I only played for a few minutes because they were not good games. For a game that's obviously flawed, there's just not much reason to keep pounding your head against it in hopes that it gets better. Hell, I'd say in something like the IGF with the number of entries they have and the games we had to judge that if your game isn't immediately gripping, it's not something I'm voting for... ESPECIALLY in the mobile space where initial impressions are so important.

[...]

I guess the mistake the IGF made was clarifying that submitting your game to the IGF didn't guarantee that a panel of volunteers play it to completion. Thinking your game didn't get a fair shake because of this is a very flawed conclusion to come to, even more so that you're considering "What your $100 buys you."
I don't have a problem with people who judged a game for 5 minutes and decided it wasn't good (though I wouldn't do the same personally, because I had the same experience with Mother 3 and then continued playing a week later and loved it). The problem stems from judges _not even playing the game_.

And I don't think judges should play it to completion -- but I DO think all judges assigned to your game should give it a shot (and if they can't put in that time, they shouldn't be a judge). If judges don't have to play any of the games they are assigned, then there will be times where a developer's game gets played by only 0, 1, or 2 judges (and judging from the comments section, this has happened to a few developers), due to circumstances out of their control. I feel like the original article is getting lost in this sea of comments suggesting that we took a more radical stance than we did.

Last edited by therottingcartridge; 02-23-2012 at 11:45 AM.