Time to start the official preparations for the upcoming js13kGames 2019 competition. Why now? Because, as you can see below, there’s only 13 weeks, 13 days, 13 hours, 13 minutes and 13 seconds left till the start, that’s why!
That’s still more than 100 days, or more than three months, but the work behind js13kGames never stops — I just switch from one edition to another at some point. Now, thanks to the suggestion from Lee, we have the official point in time that we can hold on and celebrate. Well, at least I can.
There are still things to be done around the previous edition (like issues with a few shipments), but I’ve started preparations for the 2019 edition the second after the winners were announced. It’s because the competition needed to evolve, and incorporate some crucial changes on how it’s run.
The biggest one is the somewhat legendary new backend, but this time totally redesigned compared to the ideas from previous years. As the competition is growing over the years, we need mechanisms that will work for 300+ submitted games, which obviously wasn’t the case when I started with 61 entries in 2012. It was the time when all of the things were handled manually by me, and even with some improvements done since 2013, it’s still A LOT of work.
So, we had some discussions in the community on how things could be automated even more, and ended up with two key changes — moving from a PHP submit form to the new process of accepting entries via GitHub Pull Requests is the first one. GitHub is already needed to host the sources of your entry — we can take an advantage of that and offer more automated approach, which might be easier for you too. All the info about the submitted game would be in the Pull Request and the repository itself.
Second key change is voting. It’s almost impossible to expect judges to play ALL 300+ entries before making final decision, and to experience the games more than a few seconds each they’d need way more time than they can usually spend. That’s why instead of the old “judges vote for the entries, Community Awards are extra where you can vote for games from other devs” we want to move to the concept of 1vs1 battles.
Only participants can vote, and it would be in a form of two (more or less) random games being compared. You play both, and then decide wich of them have better gameplay, graphics, theme, etc. It’s boolean, so either one game gets the point for this specific criterion or the other. With enough votes (if you want to be classified in the final results and win prizes, you need to vote in at least N number of battles) this should make a nice ranking: the overall one, but also for all the criteria.
The battle approach would mean you can spend 5 minutes on voting, or 5 hours. In one run, or split across a week. No need to play ALL the games to start giving points.
Judges would then became experts focusing only on playing X number of games carefully and giving them constructive feedback on what went good, and what could be improved. With only a fixed amount of games they can spend as much time as needed to play them throughout, picking tiny details that would slip if they’d had to rush through all the entries.
After a few discussions, we are already trying to implement all that. Platane built a working example of the GitHub bot/process to validate and accept entries, Tricsi made a prototype of the voting battles, and Alkor is writing a Go backend that would tie those two key ingredients together. There are also things like accounts, badging system, maybe teams, but we’d like to have the bare minimum working before we can add extra features.
When the functionality will be frozen, Ewa will design the new look, and someone could pick up the front-end work from that. I know it’s a lot of work, and the time is limited — in the worst case scenario it will be moved to 2020, but I really hope we’ll make it this time. Fingers crossed!
Ps. I can already announce GitHub will be our awesome partner this year too! More announcements about partners, prizes, etc, will go out in the upcoming days — watch our social media for details. If you want to help with anything please get in touch!