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Prize Pig and Golden Reviewer: Submission Details

With all the work in judging, and all the work you guys put in during the month of the contest period, these two prizes felt like they slipped a little under the radar.

But with significant, if small compared to the main contest, prizes, we want to make sure as many people who want to get involved can.

Because of this, we’ve decided to offer an additional two weeks for people to work on their Prize Pig entries! Had you already made a Prize Pig entry? Take the two weeks to polish it up. Were you too busy on your main entry to work on one? Make one now! With two weeks, you could make a really superb level.

The new deadline for the Prize Pig Entry is now September 7th, 11:59PM UTC.

Your entry must be added to the Adventurezator workshop on Steam and submitted by this time.

Now, for the Golden Reviewer contest. Have you been doing your reviews? Commenting with links of the reviews on the game pages? Good for you. We want to see as much feedback for each entry as possible. To qualify for this prize, you need to send in a submission file by October 2nd, 11:59PM UTC.

Your submission file should be in a txt file with the filename UserNameGoldenReviewer.txt, and be formatted as follows:

Your Name
User Name on GameDevFort

[Name of Game Reviewed]: [URL of Submission Page]
Review: [URL of Review]

[Name of Game Reviewed]: [URL of Submission Page]
Review: [URL of Review]

etc. etc.

All entries MUST be emailed to community@rpgmakerweb.com by their respective deadlines, and use the title: IGMC Side Contests.

For the Golden Reviewer, we just need your submission file attached to your email. For the Prize Pig, we just need a link to your submission along with your User Name on GameDevFort.

Good luck, get out there and review some games, and build a fantastic level!


Feedback Cycle, Part Two: Taking Criticism

If you’ve ever been involved with an online community where people discuss their creative work, you know that the process of giving and receiving criticism is a minefield. It’s taken as a given that evaluating someone’s work will lead to a rancorous argument, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way. Feedback Cycle is a two-part essay about how to navigate this process. The first part was focused on giving criticism. The second part is focused on taking criticism.

You Will be Judged

People pay a lot of attention to how developers react to criticism of their work and that means a lot can be riding on how you respond to a tough review. You will be judged by your reaction and if you’re too defensive or angry, you’ll be judged harshly. You might say this is unfair and I agree, it is unfair. In a fair arrangement, everyone would play the game and then look at the reviewer’s assertion and come up with their own conclusions. But that’s not what happens. No matter how justified you may feel in hulking out over a bad review, most people will write you off as someone who can’t take any criticism. You’ve got to tread carefully and I have a few points that will hopefully help. The most important is to remember that you have the power in this situation.

What do I mean by that? You can’t stop a bad review from coming and you can’t stop other people from agreeing, but you still have sole authority on what changes in your game. Sometimes I think people feel like they have to abide by whatever someone suggests that they do, but no criticism is a mandate. Like I said in the first half, you do not have to convince anyone to keep your game the way it is. They must convince you to change it. Not that you need to rub this is anyone’s face or anything, but it helps you keep perspective. You are free to reject any criticism for any reason, although you may not want to rush it, because…

Good Criticism Will Sink In

The time you least want to hear criticism is right after you’ve finished a game. This is unfortunate because that is when you will likely receive the most. You’re still high from the rush of creation and the satisfaction of finishing something that the worst thing is for some know-it-all to come along and spoil the party. We’ve all been there. However, good criticism has a tendency to sink in after some time has passed. Once more time has passed, it’s common to look back on complaints and realize that they actually make a lot of sense, even if you really didn’t want to hear it at the time.

If you’re in this state, don’t respond yet.

That’s why I don’t think it’s a good idea to respond to a critic right after you’ve read the review. You’re still feeling defensive and that will show. Give yourself a day or two to cool off and think about your reply. It would be nice to wait longer, but eventually it will look like you’re ignoring the feedback and people really can’t stand that. Alternatively, you can start crafting your response immediately to get your feelings out, but don’t make it public until you’ve had time to think about it more. You’ll likely tone down the intensity of your comments once you’ve had time to think things over. When you are ready, here’s some more specific pointers.

  • There is no “playing it wrong.” I’ve seen people fall into this trap many times. A critic has a hard time grasping the mechanics of the game, finds it too difficult, and the developer responds by accusing them of “playing it wrong.” This approach is dead on arrival. If a newcomer to the game can’t figure out an effective way to progress, that’s a serious issue. We know everything about our games and the best strategy but other people haven’t been living in our heads. We need to make sure that enough information is conveyed to the player for them to be able to get through the game.
  • Know the difference between an opinion and an inaccuracy. In one review of an RPG I made a few years ago, the critic said he “hated the battle music.” This was an inaccurate statement. The problem was not that he didn’t like the game’s music, that can’t be helped. The issue was that “battle music,” which is understood as a song used specifically for battles, didn’t exist in my game. I’ve always felt it was more immersive to have the music for whatever location the player was exploring also used for the battles in that area. So there was no real “battle music.” It was a surprising mistake and I still don’t know exactly how it happened. Opinions should be respected, inaccuracies should not. Feel free to correct the record in the case of an objective error (gently, of course).
  • Ask questions. Are you unsure what someone meant? Do you need more details to figure out a problem someone has brought up? Don’t be afraid to ask for more information. People will appreciate that their words are being considered and will likely be happy to elaborate.
  • Don’t use the B-word. Not the B-word you’re thinking of, although that ‘s a bad idea too. I mean “bias” or any other suggestion that the review is lacking in integrity. Even if you suspect this might be true, talk it over with the administrators of whatever site hosts the review rather than make it public. To most people, this looks like you’re just trying to take away from whatever flaws the game has. Also, as a public service grammar announcement, when someone has a bias they are “biased” not just “bias.”
  • Caps Lock. For the love of God, turn it off.

I hope this two-part series has given some insight to both reviewers and developers. We’re all at our best when we’re communicating well with each other. Are they any points I’ve missed? Let us know in the comments!

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Interview: Daemon Detective: Gaiden

Last year, during the first ever Indie Game Maker Contest, I had my first year as a judge. It was a crazy amount of work, but we got to play a lot of really fun games. One of the best games I remember playing last year (seriously, play 400 games in a row and tell me if you remember any of them that weren’t either amazing or terrible), was a cool little platformer called Daemon Detective: Gaiden.

After the contest, it was picked up by our game publishing branch: Degigames, and is set to release in a few days!

In preparation, a member of our team caught up with the DD:G dev in order to ask a few questions.

What was the inspiration for Daemon Detective: Gaiden?

It draws from a lot of different sources – the gameplay is mostly inspired by Mario and Castlevania games, where the main challenge is about avoiding or defeating enemies rather than getting your timing perfect when jumping between platforms or avoiding stage obstacles. This is partially because I make games I enjoy myself, and I happen to have a terrible sense of timing, but also because the game is very focused on the different daemons and their personalities, so they obviously need some screen space!

The story is supposed to be a light version of detective comedy novels, and is mostly inspired by the Disgaea games and some Donald Duck detective specials I loved to read when I was a kid. The main setting within New Magma City is actually inspired by a documentary about Mumbai, which highlighted how inefficient the police were and that it has the highest relative number of detective bureaus in the world.

I figured that having the protagonists being detectives would give them a good reason to fight monsters, and represented the inefficient police with penguins for comedy appeal and to avoid making my depictions offensive. Over time, penguin-shaped objects being used for all legal equipment became a part of the general Daemon Detective design language, again because it looks so silly with e.g. penguin-shaped cars.


Daemon Detective: Gaiden was well-received from the contest. How did you feel about that experience? What did you learn?

I have to say that I was pretty surprised, especially since I had to cut out more or less half the planned content because of running out of time. The experience taught me that people actually enjoyed what I was doing, and I’m super excited to have one of my games released on Steam!

During the contest, the difficulty level of Daemon Detective: Gaiden reminded me a bit of Super Meat Boy. How do you feel about the game’s difficulty now?

I feel it’s much more accessible now after the addition of two easier difficulties. Players that like the challenge can play the contest-version Normal difficulty unaltered, players that struggle a bit with getting past enemies in one piece can play Easy to get an additional hitpoint, and players that aren’t that confident in their platform game skills can play Double Easy to get extra footholds in more tricky sections, such as having bottoms inserted in bottomless pits or platforms that give you a safe spot to hide from from enemy projectiles.

There’s also a proper item inventory that lets you bring power-ups and even have them be used automatically when you die and restart a stage, letting you use your favorite weapon each try, no matter what power-ups are available in that level, and you get two free items every day from the Reinforcement stages.


Can you tell us about your history with making games? How did you get to this point?

I originally started making games with RPG Maker and Game Maker around 11 years ago. A friend of one of my older siblings used them on a very basic level, I tried them a bit while they were doing other things, and since I’m such a nerd in general I ended up learning how to use them at a faster rate than they did. I spent years doing relatively bad games, such as an infinite runner called Pony that just repeated the same 8 obstacles over and over without actually getting harder, but at some point I decided to make a game for a competition hosted by the Game Maker company, Yoyogames.

I didn’t get a very good place in the competition, but I got tons of feedback. Something about that was kind of addicting, and I realized I could actually learn from this and get better at doing games. I kept on joining every competition and game jam I could come across, and learned more and more about what is fun and what people likes to play over the years, and eventually reached a level where I actually made games worth playing. I got a bunch of top-3 GMC Jam placements, but my first really big achievement was winning a RPG-making competition at a site called 64Digits with a game called Shattered World. (I am kinda proud of a time when NAL, one of the most well-known Game Maker developers, reviewed all games for a competition and my entry, Heart Of Ruin, ended up being his personal 2nd place favourite… but that sadly didn’t result in a place in the finals)



What would you say are the most unique or notable things about Daemon Detective: Gaiden?

I’d say the most notable thing about the game is the length – you can probably run through the whole game in about an hour or so if you’re an expert speedrunner, but then you’ll be missing out on all the stolen paintings and most of the level design. The levels are meant to be replayed and mastered, and I’ve taken care to use all the available level space to place stuff. Most of the paintings are hidden in their own challenge rooms, and getting them and then getting out of the level in one piece is a lot more challenging than just running through the level.

Many levels have alternate paths and shortcuts – some lets you skip half the level if you spot them and have the right power-ups equipped – so each playthrough will be a different experience. I don’t believe in streamlining the game too much – gameplay is about making choices, not about walking down corridors. The levels are also sorted in an order that makes two subsequent levels as different as possible, to keep the gameplay fresh and varied. Some levels has been reordered several times down to even being moved between worlds because of this reason.

How are you feeling about Daemon Detective: Gaiden’s upcoming launch?

I’m super excited to get this chance! I’ve generally only been able to cater to relatively small audiences before, but Steam is essentially a worldwide channel that everyone is aware about. I’m looking forward to see how the game is received, but no matter how people like it, just reaching this far is a dream coming true for me. I still nurture my childhood dream of making a living by making games, and while I’m certainly not there yet, having come this far has made me feel that maybe it’s not just a dream, but possibly an attainable goal.


Are you planning any expansions or DLC for Daemon Detective: Gaiden?

In one way, it feels like I never want to stop adding new stuff to the game, so I actually have some plans for that. No occult platformer game would be complete without a boss battle against Count Dracula, so I’m planning an expansion titled “Dracula’s Castle”, which wouldn’t just be a boss battle but a whole new world. It would also be fun to make expansion worlds based on my previous big games, such as Shattered World, Gun Princess, and Heart Of Ruin, featuring updated versions of the environments in those games, the music, and the enemies.

I’ve also got some plans for DLC characters – I originally planned to add in a secret character that was able to destroy terrain, but didn’t have time to implement it during the competition. I still really like the idea of deconstructing level design quite literally, though, so if there will be DLC characters, the destructive oversized dragon boss is first on the list. Secondly, the mascot characters of the DDG series – the chinese daemon fairy Hua Po and the penguin police – would totally deserve a day in the limelight, bringing their unique special abilities (and general incompetence) into your grasp. These two would most likely be bundled with some other DLC because they’re meant to be joke/challenge characters.

Finally, Sunshine from Gun Princess would be a fun addition to the roster as well, being my mascot and all. Her play style would revolve about using power-ups on her gun instead of on herself, making her completely projectile-based and radically different from all other characters.

Are you dreaming up plans (if not already) for another game in the future?

I’m always busy working on new projects, and in case DDG becomes a hit, I just can’t let people down, can I? The most important one probably is Daemon Detective Tactics, the game Daemon Detective Gaiden started out as a spinoff to. The idea is that the game takes place on a theater stage, and your main objective isn’t just to win, but also to win in the most entertaining way possible. I’m playing a lot of RPG games, and many of them often has a relatively simple strategy that you’ll end up using over and over, making the game boring – DDT will actively reward you for mixing up your strategy all the time. Another important element is being able to recruit both random bystanders and enemies to join your party, one of my favorite gameplay mechanics from games like Pokémon and Disgaea. Yal, Matt, Sugar and Anikel will of course take up the most screen space, but you’ll need to flesh out the party with some generic characters as well to not get too outnumbered.

It would also be pretty exciting to make a traditional sequel to Daemon Detective Gaiden, and make it “bigger and better” – for instance by making the game focus even more on fighting enemies rather than being a pure hop-n-bop platformer. I’ve always been a huge fan of metroidvania games and exploration platformers, and a possible DDG sequel would have even more secret areas to find!


Anything else you’d like to mention?

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who test played the game and gave me feedback – Degica crew, contestants, assorted friends and family – because without knowing what’s been bad, I would’ve been unable to fix it; without getting the suggestions I got along the way, many fun ideas never would’ve been added to the game. Two eyes can only see that much, and even though I cheat by wearing glasses for a grand total of four eyes, it’s still nothing compared to all the support I’ve received along the way.

I’ve learned a lot of things about game design over the years, and many of the best game design principles are just common sense – players want to have fun, so you should always make your game reward the player, not punish them. I’ve seen a lot of games that don’t follow this principle, and a lot of them are made by hobbyists such as myself. The most important part of a game is having fun, people… don’t forget that!

Have some questions about Daemon Detective: Gaiden? Want to chime in on your experience with the IGMC? Join us in the comments section below!


Feedback Cycle, Part One: Giving Criticism

If you’ve ever been involved with an online community where people discuss their creative work, you know that the process of giving and receiving criticism is a minefield. It’s taken as a given that evaluating someone’s work will lead to a rancorous argument, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way. Feedback Cycle is a two-part essay about how to navigate this process. The first part is focused on giving criticism.


If you’re not sure of the right tone to take when criticizing someone’s work, ask yourself: why am I doing this? Why am I taking the time to write at length about someone else’s game when I could be working on my own? What is your number one goal with this review?

This game sucked and I’m gonna pwn this noob!

Your honesty is admirable. However, you probably should just leave it alone. Really, there’s enough vitriol in the world, let it go.

I want to get that Golden Reviewer award!

Well, I can’t fault you for that. But we’re not going to give this award to someone who can’t give effective criticism.

I want to see this game improve.

This is what a lot of people say but it’s much easier to talk the talk than to walk the walk. If this honorable goal is truly how you feel, then your number one priority is making sure the creator of the game reads your criticism and takes it to heart. This means writing it in a way that ensures it won’t start an argument or make them feel overly defensive. Some people don’t like this idea; they think their criticism is just so important and necessary that any attempt to temper it is just “coddling.” But remember, you just said your top priority was improving the game, not satisfying your ego.

If you take nothing else away from this discussion, remember this: They do not have to convince you to keep their game the way it is. You must convince them to change it.

This is a hard reality for some of the more caustic critics out there. They will trot out faux rationalizations like “Any feedback is better than no feedback” or “You have to learn to take tough criticism if you want to grow as an artist.” To see an accurate description of these claims, please consult the picture below.


Trying to write a review that will be palatable for the creator does not mean leaving anything out, despite what you might hear from trolls intentionally missing the point. In the end, it’s not about the content of your criticism but the delivery. Naturally, there are varying schools of thought on this. One of these is the “shit sandwich” approach (last reference to poop in this post, I swear). This concept imagines the review as a sandwich, with the negative criticism in the middle of the write-up with more positive feedback at the beginning and end. This can work but it also runs the risk of going too far the other way, being a little too infantilizing.

If there are aspects of the game that deserve praise, be sure to include that. However, sometimes you will play a game that is an absolute mess in every area. In that case, don’t invent praise where none is warranted. You’ll need to convey the issues with the game in a way that hopefully won’t discourage or infuriate the creator. Here’s a quick list of helpful tips for pulling this off.

  • Word Choice: This is very important. Avoid unprofessional and inflammatory words like “sucks” or “garbage.” I once saw someone defend calling someone’s game “garbage” as not rude, but trust me, comparing someone’s game to the dirty waste that you collect in a plastic bag and throw in a bit at the end of your driveway to be carried off to the dump? That’s rude. Remember, our number one goal is not to be scathing or edgy. It’s to get the creator to listen to our feedback and improve the game. If you really annoy them, they may avoid taking your criticism into account just to spite you, even if it would make the game better.
  • Prioritize: We all have our pet peeves when it comes to games and that’s okay, but we need to recognize them as such and not lose our sense of proportion. Some people hate random encounters in RPGs. It’s totally legit to criticize random encounters and cite reasons why they can weaken the experience, but don’t assume that the game can’t work with this mechanic and demand they be removed. If you want a better example of out-of-control nitpicking, I remember I saw a thread for one IGMC game last year where someone was incredibly annoyed that there was a mandatory full-screen feature. Admittedly, this is a bad idea. However, this person devoted about ten paragraphs to yelling at the poor sap for using this feature. Cosmetic choices you don’t agree with are not game-breaking bugs.
  • Avoid Dogma: This one is the hardest. We all speak like our opinions are the truth and we want our opinions to carry some weight. However, acknowledging that what we are writing is just opinion can defuse a big argument before it starts. Consider the following comparison: “This game is unplayable” vs. “I was unable to finish this game.” In the end, they are saying basically the same thing, but one sounds like fact and the other sounds like opinion. Choosing the second option will get better results. I know, I know, this is one of those obvious things about life and human interaction that should just be understood. But it isn’t. If you keep this in mind, I promise you that your reviews will go over better.
  • Caps Lock: For the love of God, turn it off.

So sometimes you give a great, measured, helpful review and the game’s creator still freaks out at you! I’ve seen this happen plenty of times, it sucks. The best thing to do in that situation is to remind them that you wanted to help and bow out of the discussion. You’ve already said what you needed to with the review, trying to force the creator to take it the criticism will not convince someone who’s already in a stubborn mood. Those people need to realize the error of their ways on their own. Maybe we can help them along with Part 2 of this piece. Next time, we’ll look at receiving criticism.


A Quick Look at IGMC Judging

The 2015 Indie Game Maker Contest ends today at 11:59 p.m UTC (If you want to know what time that is where you are, check out this handy reference).  You will have done your job,  now it will our turn. But how is the judging going to work? I have a quick run-down that should give some insight.

Last year, we underestimated how big the response to this contest would be. The four judges were overwhelmed by the sheer number of entries, far more than we had anticipated. This time around we’ve doubled the judges to try and keep anyone from getting too bogged down. The entries will be divided among the eight judges, so if there are 800 games submitted, each one of us starts with 100.

The first part of the judging process is “screening,” when all the games get played for about 5-10 minutes in order to weed out the most broken and disastrous of the entries. Remember what I’ve said about having your game tested? This is when it’s going to count. If we hit a single game-breaking bug while screening, that game is toast.  Once the screening is done, each judge plays the entirety of the remaining games (or at least an hour, so it’s not really worth making your game longer than that). Once we’ve finally finished everything and compiled our scores, we pick our top 20.

From then on, it’s a matter of playing the other sets of games picked by the other judges until all the major contenders have been scored by everyone. With eight judges, it will take a true consensus for the top games to rise above the rest. Of course, what makes this year particularly interesting is the long list of other prizes that were unlocked during the Humble Game Making Bundle. While we figure out who gets those, our Guest Judges will be making their own picks.

We hope to have the winners revealed by October at the earliest. I know it’s a long wait but you’ll just have to keep yourselves busy by playing the other games yourself! Good luck, everyone!


Last Week of IGMC: Important Tips

There are only a few days left for this year’s Indie Game Making Contest! You’ve all worked so hard to get this far, so don’t let a small mistake trip you up as you reach the finish line. To help avoid that, I’ve got a few late-game tips to share.

Test Your Game!

This is by far the most important. Test your game and have others test it. If you haven’t started this process, follow Arnold’s advice. The quickest way to get knocked out of this contest is for a judge to get stymied by a game-breaking bug. Last year, a handful of games that were otherwise very good got screwed over by simple oversights. We don’t want to see this happen to projects that might have had a shot at a prize so start testing those games ASAP. While avoiding bugs is the top priority, it’s not the only one. Your game will only improve through this process.

Give Yourself Time to Submit Your Game Carefully

I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. Don’t wait until the very last minute of the last day to submit your game. The internet is a finicky place, anything could happen and you want time to react and correct your course should something go wrong. Familiarize yourself with our guidelines to make sure you don’t overlook a crucial detail.

Hosting is Important

The judges will be downloading a lot of games in a short time once this contest ends and not all hosting sites are created equal. Try to pick sites that involve the least amount of hassle – Dropbox is a favorite of mine. Try to avoid obnoxious sites like Megaupload that make people jump through a bunch of stupid hoops before allowing files to be downloaded. Obviously, we judges are professionals and we’re going to do our best to download all the games that are eligible, but keep this in mind for the players too. Nobody wants to feel hassled for just trying to play a game!

Finally, Don’t Give Up

This certainly applies for the last few days of the contest, but also for the days afterward. Not everyone will finish on time. Life gets in the way. But regardless of whether you make the deadline or not, you started something and it would be a shame not to finish it. Don’t give up on your project after August 7. You never know what it might turn into someday.

Keep up the great work, everyone!


Academic Analysis and Unintentional Subtext

This is not an article on feminism, it’s an article about how we talk about feminism. Academic analysis goes into many other directions, it’s just that feminist critique is what has been most associated with video games for various reasons…most of them unfortunate. It’s only in the last few years that games have really started to undergo this sort of analysis and a lot of gamers don’t have a clue what to make of it. Other media, like books or movies or music, have been getting examined this way for decades. The fact that games are now included is actually a sign that the world is taking them more seriously as an art form, which is something a lot of us have wanted for a long time.

So why does academic analysis of games, feminist or otherwise, get met with such an angry, defensive reaction? Well, I can’t totally explain that, but I think part of it is just a general lack of knowledge of how this kind of analysis even works. That doesn’t make anyone stupid by any means (although sending someone a death threat is definitely stupid), it’s just that there’s no reason for most people to ever get exposed to this stuff. My first taste of it was my freshman year at college, when I became a student of the Cinema Studies program at New York University. This was different than studying film production, which is the technical process of making a movie. This was pure academia – learning about the history and theory of the medium.

I considered myself a major film buff, but I had never engaged with movies quite like this before. It was no longer just looking at the decisions of the creators, like cinematography or subject matter, it was going even deeper and looking for messages hidden far beneath the surface of a film. It was pretty bewildering at first, but I grew accustomed to the concept and even came up with my own name for it – unintentional subtext. It helps me remember to distinguish this stuff from intentional subtext that writers use to support their story’s theme.

The struggle is real!

So when someone says something like “the whole damsel in distress thing in games is sexist,” your initial reaction to that may not reflect what the person actually means. It’s not an accusation of sexism against the developer or people who enjoy the game. After all, it’s pretty rare that a developer will intentionally insert sexism or racism or any “ism” into a game, especially a big commercial one. They’re out to make money, not to provoke people. I highly doubt Shigeru Miyamoto and the rest of the Nintendo team sat around and table and said “You know what? Women out there are getting too brave. Let’s have the princess kidnapped by a giant reptile, that will teach them a lesson!” That kind of thing isn’t what happens and academics know this.

Whatever sexism exists in the damsel in distress trope is communicated through unintentional subtext. Pointing out its prevalence in games is a way to demonstrate just how deeply ingrained this stuff is. Casting women in roles where they need to be rescued by men has been a staple of entertainment and mythology for centuries. It’s no wonder it comes so naturally to writers. Pointing that stuff out and making us think about it is the whole point of this sort of analysis. It’s not an accusation against anyone in particular, but against the big picture.

Keep in mind too that there’s no law that says you have to buy any of this. Everyone’s got their own threshold. I hit mine when I read an essay on the Disney version of Pinocchio. The author was claiming that the relationship between Figaro the cat and Cleo the fish was a metaphor for the way men look at pornography. Yes, I’m serious. (Although the cat does kiss the fish right on the lips near the end, hmm…)

We don’t all have to agree, but we do have to accept that this sort of analysis is out there and will only grow more prominent. Video games are hanging out with the big kids now and this is part of the package, like it or not. There is a lot more I could say on this subject and maybe I’ll return to this topic at a later date. For now, what do you think of all this? Have you ever read an academic analysis that really blew your mind? How about one that made you roll your eyes? Let’s share them in the comments!


What I Learned from Making a Game in 5 Days

As a judge, I obviously couldn’t enter the Indie Game Making Contest this year. But I did have a little bit of a lull between the end of our Humble Bundle and the beginning of the IGMC judging, so I decided on a whim to participate in the Golden Age of Game Mak contest on rpgmaker.net. This small event was celebrating the commercial release of RPG Maker 2000, an engine I used in my formative “Game Mak” years. Perhaps against my better judgment, I committed to making a short game in 5 days. I did it…kind of, and I definitely walked away with some good insights on creating content in a small window of time.

Minimize Extra Work

What I mean by this basically a combination of efficiency and time management. You don’t want to be spending time on anything that’s not going to have an important role in the game. A good example of this is locations. Every area that the player visits will take you a decent amount of time to create, even if the place is only visited for a brief moment. I tried to limit the amount of locations in my game as much as I could to cut down on time spent mapping these places out. I even had the ending of the story play out as an ironic echo of the intro, meaning I could use the same map for both.

Resource Versatility

This is a continuation of the first point, except now I’m talking about work that you have done for you rather than your own work. Make the most of your artist’s time (and your money, if that’s involved) by requesting resources that can be used in multiple instances. Let’s use music as an example. Rather than have each scene set to its own unique song, you could get a few ambient tracks that work well for multiple settings. I only wound up using 4 songs in my 45-minute game (5 if you count the game over jingle).

The hammer and screwdriver are strictly metaphorical.

Work Each Day

This was covered in our list of productivity tips from last week and obviously it’s a no-brainer for a five-day contest! If I lost even one day, I would have been screwed. Still, even when you have a longer time frame, make sure you get something done each day. Too much time away from the project and you may start to care less about finishing it. Get in the habit of making progress each day and you’ll be cruisin’ towards the finish line!

Leave Yourself Time For Testing and Submission Details

This one is where I dropped the ball. I made sure to have the game tested, but when the final deadline for submissions was drawing near, I was lagging. Part of that was due to an annoying bug that took hours to resolve, but it was also one I could have seen coming earlier had I used more foresight. In the end, I was in such a hurry that I rushed the submission process and that blew up in my face. While I had finished my game, I wasn’t actually able to submit to the contest in time. That’s not a big deal for a tiny contest with no real prizes, but you sure as hell don’t want that to happen with your IGMC entry. Make sure you have time for whatever might go wrong as you finish everything up.

Has anyone else done a contest with a laughably short deadline? Were you able to finish? What worked, what didn’t? Let us know in the comments!


20 Productivity Tips to GET THAT GAME GOING!


We’re already past the 2-week mark of the 2015 IGMC! That said, it’s not too late to pick up some new techniques to help keep you productive.

Here are 20 Productivity Tips and Tricks to get the most out of your time:

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Prize Pig! Golden Reviewer!

So, I’m sure if you are following the 2015 Indie Game Maker Contest, you have seen the two Mini-Contests that were unlocked by the crazy high amount of Humble Bundle sales.

But I’m sure you’re asking yourself: What IS the Prize Pig? What IS the Golden Reviewer?

And that is what I’m here to tell you. Winning either will net you a little over $700 dollars, which while not the whopping $25k+ of the Grand Prize, is nothing to sneeze at!

The Prize Pig!

The Prize Pig mini-contest is a competition to create the best level possible in the Early Access emergent Adventure game Adventurezator: When Pigs Fly! In Adventurezator, you can create your own point and click adventure game, as easy as drag and drop.

But the trick is, you can create a puzzle with one solution, but due to all the objects in the game having pre-caned attributes, the players might figure out an entirely DIFFERENT solution that you never would have considered.


I’m almost certain taking the axe to that little fellow in front of the bench is somehow a valid solution.

Remember if you had donated to the Humble Bundle, you probably have a coupon to pick up the game now, if not, you can easily pick it up on Steam. So here is the rules for the Prize Pig Contest:

  1. The level must have been made during the IGMC contest period as listed on the contest guidelines page.
  2. The level must be uploaded to the Steam Workshop.
  3. The level must be complete-able in ~30 minutes.
  4. The level does NOT count as one of the two games you have entered into the IGMC.
  5. You are not required to have entered a game into the IGMC to enter a level into the Prize Pig contest.
  6. The level must be in English
  7. No 18+ Content
  8. The judges and contest hosts reserve the right to disqualify or ban any game or person for reasons including but not limited to the violation of these rules. Judges’ decisions are final. Judges and contest runners reserve the right to add to these rules for clarification purposes.
  9. Restrictions on age and nationality are subject to the contestant’s local, state, and/or national laws. No purchase necessary. Must be at least 13 years of age or older to register and submit entries, subject to the submitter’s local laws.
  10. Prizes will be delivered electronically via the e-mail address associated with the user who submitted the game on this platform. Winners will be responsible for all taxes and fees associated with their prize package.

Other than that, go for it. Make what you dream of making!

Note: Adventurezator Levels are NOT eligible for the awards in the Main Contest. The Prize Pig Contest is a separate mini-contest.

Golden Reviewer

Do you enjoy talking about games? What they did right? What they did wrong? Then you have what it takes to win the Golden Reviewer Award. To enter the Golden Reviewer award, all you have to do is review IGMC 2015 submissions! Participation in our main contest is NOT required for the Golden Reviewer minicontest, ANYONE who wants to enter can. Tell your friends, tell your family. They don’t have to be able to make games, just review them.

Starting at the contest deadline, August 7th, and continuing until October 2nd, it is your goal to create as many high quality reviews of the submissions as possible. You can put your reviews anywhere you would like. A personal blog or site you run, a community you are already a part of, your tumblr, anywhere is fine as long as we can access and read your reviews.

Make sure to comment with a link to your review on every submission you review, we want the creators to get to see all the feedback for their game! Also, keep a list of all the games you have reviewed along with links to your reviews online. Near the end of the Golden Reviewer contest, we will create a submission process for you to send us the lists.

The winner will be the person, who according to the Judges, did the BEST job at reviewing a multitude of games well. It isn’t entirely about quantity, but it isn’t all about quality either. We want to see a ton of really awesome feedback on these games.

The submission processes for these two minicontests will be detailed at a later date.

Do you have any questions? Are you planning on trying to enter? Join us in the comments section below.