Js13kGames 2018 judging and the feedback issues
After a month of game development, and three weeks of judging, the js13kGames 2018 competition winners were announced - you can jump straight to the results at js13kgames.com/#winners.
This year the competition broke all the records AGAIN with 274 games. Both the quantity and the quality went through the roof - some cool games I really enjoyed playing ended up around 150th place. Half of the ones from places 41–50 would easily win the competition two or three years ago. There were minimal differences between top10 and top50 games, or top50 and top150. It’s insane what you can create in 13 kilobytes nowadays.
One thing that didn’t work as expected this year was the fact that people assumed every entry will get feedback from the judges. It was the number one requested feature which was introduced two years ago - worked with 120 entries, but not 270. Remember that judges are doing this voluntarily in their free time. Playing all the games to give them scores was extremely time-consuming, let alone writing something meaningful for dozens of entries.
Imagine a judge could spend 30 minutes on an entry to play it properly, and write down what was good and what could be improved. This would mean 8220 minutes, or 137 hours, or about 18 working days for 8 hours a day and 5 days a week. It means a judge would spend A WHOLE MONTH, ONLY on playing, voting and giving feedback for the games, without any breaks for lunch. To be fair I should pay them a few thousand dollars for this hard work, while all they get is a free t-shirt.
Constructive feedback for 270 games is physically impossible. I know how much you value it, and how daunting it might feel if you didn’t get any, but most of the jams I participated in didn’t even have such a thing. It was suppose to be a nice addition, not something you expect to have. If we won’t find a solid solution, then the feedback feature will be removed entirely.
Have YOU played ALL the games from the competition for the Community Awards? In a week?
That’s why I wanted to thank all the judges for their help this year, and let you know we’ll need big changes to the voting process to keep the competition going. The original approach worked at the beginning, but it have to evolve to adapt to the growing number of games.
I have some ideas already, but if you want to help (both brainstorming the ideas, but also building the solution afterwards), then please get in touch - via email, private message, on Slack, or however you feel most comfortable with. After all, this competition is for you, so it would be great to make it grow together. There are interesting ideas in the Slack channel already, so let’s keep the momentum going.
Ps. Thank you goes also to Csaba Csecskedi for singlehandedly managing the Server category (if you submitted a Server entry you should thank him personally) over the years, to the reviewers (Piotr Bogdan, Rémi Vansteelandt, Andrew Smith, Keith Karnage and Matt Rose) who helped validate and accept the entries this year, and to the lovely Slack community being super helpful to each other, especially newcomers. And to all of you who participated, spent countless hours building your games, and submitted a whole bunch of awesome creations. You already won the valuable experience of finishing a game!
Ps.2. As soon as I finish printing t-shirts and CDs, and shipping everything to you, I’ll probably (re)start the idea of a brand new site to automate as many things as possible including accepting entries, allowing bugfixes, etc. This may, or may not mean starting the Patreon page to help fund my time.
Hope to see you next year!