Should we give custom content competitions a shot now?

Revisiting the old idea of instating crafting competitions, I’ve dug old and finished up an old draft I started writing up a couple years ago when we last talked about the idea.

With the EE, it mightn’t be a half bad time to try to get something like this working. Could maybe point newbies at some of the tutorials we’ve got, incentivize trying new skills, as well as benefit the personal projects of the winners by getting them resources they’ve got a use for.

The concept probably has holes in it. I didn’t complete writing the draft at the time, and just filled in the blanks I spotted right off the bat.

If it lands in the “::crickets chirp::” bin again, no biggie. Not really expecting it not to.



The “Mad Modder Match”

Custom Content Competition

CONCEPT


  • There’s lots and lots of time.

When a contest begins, participants have two months time to send in their submissions.

After those two months, the organizer has one week to upload the files and start the voting.

The voting period lasts two weeks. During this time, participants are required to review eachothers’ submissions.


  • Each competition has a specific theme from within a NWN-related category, such as:

    • a wooden chair (3d model)
    • a dog (3d model)
    • a single new tile for a specific tileset (3d model)
    • a damage-dealing spell (script)
    • an activatable feat (script)
    • a puzzle (script)
    • a metal texture (texture)
    • a reskin of a Bioware dragon model (texture)
    • a seamless stone wall texture (texture)
    • a scream (sound)
    • a short shopping jingle (sound)
    • a looping beat (sound)
    • a NPC banter conversation (writing)
    • an item description for a legendary weapon (writing)
    • a character backstory (writing)
    • a smithy (area prefab*)
    • a forest with a hidden treasure (area prefab*)
    • a single bossfight (module*)
    • an undead creature (creature prefab/3d model/texture/script)

    * Area prefab or module themes should specify up to three permitted tilesets.


  • It’s acceptable to use standard game content as a base.

When crafting a wooden chair, it’s just as acceptable to reskin one of the stone chairs as it is to make a new model fully from scratch. Or, when scripting a damage-dealing spell, it’s fine to heavily reference or modify the Bioware spell scripts.


  • It’s okay to cross over into different categories so long as the main objective is being met. Examples:

    • a puzzle script could include placeable or item prefabs.
    • a NPC banter dialogue could come with NPC creature prefabs and scripts to make the conversation fire once the PC is in range.
    • a stone wall texture could come along with a set of stone wall placeables.

This gives us more reason to participate in contests outside of our own field, to acquire basic skills that may increase our chances of winning future bouts, as well as make it more possible for effort and cross-specialization experience to affect one’s chances of winning.


  • All submissions should include a demo module where the new content is set up and working.

People need to make it as easy as possible for others to evaluate the content.


  • Participants review eachothers’ submissions.

Since we’re all doing the same kind of task, but looking at it from different perspectives, we’re likely to have insights we can share with eachother, and especially complete beginners stand to benefit from review by the people who’re already experienced in that field. It also means that content creators have reason to want to participate in general, just because it’s certain that there will be some sort of feedback in return for the effort.

The Holy Rule here is Try Not To Be A Jerk, and keep in mind that there might be a nervous newbie behind any submission by an unfamiliar face. Kindness doesn’t cost anything. But we also want to help eachother improve, so don’t suppress the criticism and improvement suggestions you’ve got to offer!


  • Submissions are sent in per E-Mail, as with the CCC.

  • When the deadline ends, all submissions that were handed in on time are put up on the Vault, and a voting thread with polls for the individual entries is created.

The voting phase lasts two weeks. Votes are public, and anybody may vote, competitor or not. In this phase, participants must comment on eachothers’ entries. If the first place winner by voting did not review the other entries, the prize goes to the next person in line who did review.


  • The winner gets to decide the theme of the next competition.

This is supposed to give people a practical reason to compete, as well as to keep changing the category frequently. A skilled scripter might be in need of sounds, a skilled sound artist might be in need of a model, a skilled modeler might be in need of textures. Nobody is an island, and skillgrinding in one category usually prevents us from skillgrinding in another.


  • A contest may be either NWN1, NWN2, or Both.

Since public vote determines the winner, if either game’s active voters outnumber that of the other, mixing the votes could create an unfair disadvantage for participants submitting content for the game with the overall bigger fandom.

One solution to that problem I could see having three different instances of the contest running at a time - and since that means having different winners who may want to declare different future themes, so at that point, we’d have a NWN1 and a NWN2 contest with people doing different stuff. But some potential themes (creative writing, crafting stock textures, crafting sound effects) may well be suitable for both games… so maybe there’d even need to be a third, assuming there would ever be enough people participating to make that work.

Maybe having a NWN1 and a NWN2 themed contest running simultaneously, either of which can become a NWN1/Both contest or a NWN2/Both contest for a round depending on the theme, might work, too.


PROPOSED RULES


1.) Try Not To Be A Jerk.
Competetiveness all too easily becomes personal. Be mindful of human nature. We appreciate our fellow contestants for giving us reason to push ourselves to gain new (or improve existing) skills, and for allowing us to benefit from their insights. We want to give people a shoe-in on new crafting skills and hone existing ones, not discourage one another.

2.) One submission per person.
Teamwork is most welcome, but if people team up, they may not submit something else on their own, and they must decide on the next theme together. Settle this before you win.

3.) All submissions must be custom work (unless the contest theme explicitly states otherwise).
No ports from elsewhere unless porting stuff from other games is expressly part of the theme. Submitting something that wasn’t crafted by you is grounds for disqualification; very few people here stand a chance of competing with professional-level work, it’d completely wonk up the contest.

An example of an exception to this rule is a reskinning competition, where an original model is presented, and participants are told to modify it. Think “Take this basic horse model I made, and bring me different variants of it, so that I may get ten different mount appearances when I personally just had to make the one! :-D”.

4.) Submissions must be fully functional for use in either NWN1 or NWN2.
A demo module where the content is set up and working should be included in every submission (where applicable; obviously this doesn’t really go for texture or writing submissions).

5.) Submitted content will be put up on the Vault with the following permissions: Allow Distribution in others work, Redistribute as is, Redistribute with edits/modifications.
The Madmoddermatch is about learning from and benefiting eachother. In that spirit, the content we produce here is distributed for all of us to take apart and modify to best serve our purposes.

6.) Participants are required to review other participant’s submissions.
Submitters of NWN1 content must review NWN1 submissions, NWN2 submitters must review NWN2 submissions. Cross-game reviews are appreciated, but not mandatory. If a submitter does not possess a game, we cannot reasonably expect them to review content that requires it.
If the first place winner of a contest did not review the other submissions from their section, their prize will be considered forfeit, and go to the next person in line who did review.

7.) When a winner is submitting the next theme, they must ensure that a tutorial that teaches the basic skills necessary to compete must exist on the Vault, or else the winner must be able to provide one themselves.

8.) When a winner is submitting the next theme, it must be reasonable and proportionate.
Try not to go overboard. When possible, try to stick to individual items (a willow tree, a scream, a song script for a bard NPC), or !extremely! small groups of items that are semantically linked (boat with an oar, a success and a fail jingle, a bard NPC with a song script).

Examples of what not to do: “a pack of hyperrealistic willow trees”, “a full voiceset”, “a fully-scripted theater performance”. The basic requirement for entry should be as low as possible.

9.) A theme’s skill category (3d models, textures, sounds, scripts, etc) may not be repeated more than twice in a row.
Do pass the ball to others when you can. The entire community should be able to play, not just the folks working in the most in-demand sections.

10.) The new theme must have the same game category (NWN1, NWN2, Both) as it’s predecessor.
Win a NWN2-themed contest, you get to declare the theme of the next NWN2-themed contest. Win a cross-game contest, you get to decide the theme of the next cross-game contest, and so on.

My answer is a simple No. It won’t be as inclusive as the challenge. You’ll just end up with the same people winning all the time. Those of us with less (or in my case nearly zero) talent won’t get a look in. If it’s a competition you won’t get any sharing of stuff that is WIP. Instead at the end of however long a period it lasts, you’ll have a bunch of people going “TaDa” this is what I have built (and that’s my trick, can’t have people copying me :scream:).

TBH I think that the longevity of the ccc is, at least in good measure, down to the fact that it is not a competition. It is the supportive nature of the ccc that you won’t get once a competition gets serious.

Anyway. Just my two penn’orth.

TR

4 Likes

I’ve to agree with @Tarot_Redhand here. Competition could stifle cooperation.

How about we spread the CCC to other sites like Beamdog forums or even Steam forums instead? There ought to be new people not familiar with the CCC.

2 Likes

@Tarot_Redhand
That depends very much on the attitude the proficient people take, and what’s communally lauded about victory, Tarot.

I don’t disagree that competetiveness and measuring against one another frequently leads to bicycling (buckle towards the top, kick downwards), but it’s not strictly necessary to do that to reap the benefits of competetiveness, though. One good thing about competetiveness is the incentive to push oneself. If you can catch and ride that wave, it’s a beautiful thing.

Take damage meters in MMOs, for instance, and assume that these are all DDs of the same class, spec, and gear level, that are at least theoretically capable of reaching the same damage output.

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Social recognition as it’s generally applied tends to react to this by practically exclusively praising the highest performer as being an inherently superior human being and ignoring, if not shaming, and eventually excluding the low performer, and, yeah. That’s fucked up nonsense that makes people miserable. Doing that is essentially depriving people of the knowledge and opportunity they need to become high performers, while giving them reason to fear performing “poorly”, wherefore they reasonably fear performing at all, discouraging the practice and experimentation required to become skilled at anything.

The better way to handle this situation is to let the high performer teach the low performers their skill, if they want the advice, evaluating what they’re doing “wrong” and explaining it to them so they understand what they would need to do differently to get higher output, as well as encouraging cross-specialization dabbling so low performers in one field can recognize that being “talented” is not a mystical property people are born with, but that spending time cultivating talent in one field comes with the exclusion of cultivating talent in others, and that, frequently, how much skill someone grinds in a particular field depends simply on how much they enjoy skillgrinding in that field.

Hence the requirement to review other participants’ submissions, and the forfeiture of the prize if this is not done. The aim is for the people who are higher up to help others up as well as make their skills available and get something that’s useful to them in turn, not to elevate and idolize high performers by lauding the victory itself. If everybody involved keeps that in mind, and approaches the entire process with that mentality, it doesn’t necessarily have to go sour.

People with experience in a particular field (say, scripting, 3d modeling) can recognize beginner mistakes made by joining newbies (say, not indenting, not commenting, passing superfluous parameters / duplicate faces, open edges in objects that cast shadows), so requiring them to evaluate newbie entries and give feedback if they want their prize drastically increases the likelihood that the newbie will quickly be informed of their mistakes, saving them the hours and hours of trying to figure it out on their own once they become aware of it.

And the victories of the most skilled participants are what they get out of it - the prize for their effort isn’t HOORAY I AM A WINNER WHEREAS EVERYONE ELSE IS A LOSER, it’s setting everybody else onto providing a small contribution to whatever their own ongoing project is.

Moreover, the option to hand in collaborative submissions allows “less talented” (talent is a lie!!!) people to team up to compete against the “heavyweights” together, building teams to balance out eachother’s weaknesses, which promotes grouping up into units capable of completing complex projects rather than tinkering by oneself accepting one’s current level of skill as inescapable fate.

::fist shake at the skies::

Don’t dismiss my brilliant and cunning reinvention of the wheel without carefully considering the actual proposal just because most of the world is shitty at competetiveness! :scream: ^^ I am a super competetive person by nature and it doesn’t make me a knowledge-hogging elitist who can’t cooperate with others (I hope).

Also:

shullbit! That’s Impostor Syndrome talking. Tell the little voice in your head that says things like that to stuff it, for me, because if you don’t I’m going to need to spend the next few hours writing up another one of those super long rants that nobody’s ever going to bother reading. >_<


@pscythe

That’s a good idea, too, yeah. :smiley:

I am all ears for anything that gives an incentive to be creative.

But… we already have the CCC which is a winning concept that I would neither change nor compete with.

And… at the end of the day all that custom content stuff is just the means to another end - building modules, that’s what its all about, isn’t it?

So why not give MODULE competitions a shot? Give it an interesting theme, a challenging restriction, some fun requirements (all of which the communtiy probably could vote upon like we do the CCC) and lets motivate newcomers as well as veterans to create an adventure.

2 Likes

Agreed. Almost - I would exchange module for prefab (an Area, funny conversation, interesting creature with unique scripts attached, puzzles, custom item descriptions, cutscenes, etc.)
The reason - prefab should be easier to create, more newbie - friendly, and building decent short module could be quite time consuming, requires more skill and knowledge of NWN mechanics.

I understand the motivation.

But in the end ALL content is only the means to the end of creating modules.

Prefabs, scripts, conversations…all fine stuff - but in the end it will be all going to waste if no one feels motivated to actually build a module.

Something similar to the ccc but for modules was tried before back in 2013 and just petered out. It was called ABC and even had a logo. Here is an example of the results of the first month’s modules.

TR

2 Likes

That doesn’t look too bad.

And that was 2013 when NWN wasn’t exactly on the rise. But now its 2018 and we are on Steam :slight_smile:

i dont know how this could work seeing as how we are essentially divided between three different games nwn 1.69, nwn ee, and nwn2, one is essentially on steam as well and that would limit someone like myself who hasnt an account on steam or owns nwn ee.

1 Like

@TheStoryteller01

Not necessarily. 3d modeling, texturing, (?? what is the term for sound crafting ??), writing, rigging, animating, are all crafting skills with potential real-life applications. If you’ve got basic 3d modeling skills, for instance, you’re capable of designing your own sewing patterns for static things like living decor, toys, or doll clothes - which you could start selling if you wanted to.

Size Reduction Magic!

Same with the skills in using image editing and, generally, graphic design software from texturing, including reskinning things. Or scripting - it’s a shoe-in to programming. The entire setup has a beautiful touch of a school or an university that doesn’t do intellectual elitism (“you’re not smart enough to be worth teaching, go away!”). Encourages self-motivated learning and working, arches across and connects many different socioeconomic castes, turns inborn differences between people completely irrelevant because they’re not even a factor, internet anonymity be praised. There’s a lot to be said in favor of game modding.

But yeah - as long as custom content is module-specific (::waves the ‘Go module agnosticism! Record the used 2da in the GFFs in addition to the row number!’-sign about::), all roads for NWN custom content lead into the modules (edit: specifically, the modules in which a builder makes use of that content). Yet, modules are not necessarily the only ‘end destination’ in it when people are acquiring and practicing content crafting skills.

Unnecessary self-justification-section of general anxiety issues

It’s a bit of an unromantically pragmatic thought that seems a little contrary to the concept of team spirit, I know. :x But when people don’t keep ‘Oi! Wot’s innit for me?!’ in sight at least a little, it’s too dang easy for “online communal engagement” to become a “You are morally obligated to invest your lifetime into working for the benefit of The Group!”-trap for them. I’ve seen that happen in raid groups a lot. Most depressingly, it’s usually the people most inherently inclined to work For The Good Of All that get screwed over that way; they start investing time and effort into things for the benefit of the group without even thinking of what they’re getting out of it, and then if they, even accidentally, inconvenience (Insert Local Ringleader Here), they get kicked to the curb with a “You have no right to complain, you knew you were doing this for The Group™ out of your own free will. The Group™ owes you nothing, not even that it listen to your side of the story”. Pisses me off every time.





Modulebuilding contests could be fun, too. :thinking: The “Bringing competetiveness into the community could cause undesirable social shifts” and “People at lower crafting skill levels than the people higher up have no chance of winning” objections count for those too, though.

Voicing support for EE-level development

EE-level module competitions might be pretty good for NWN. They’d exclude the people who don’t have the EE, yeah, but they’d add tangible value to the EE, giving more people valid reason to buy it and thus support further development. The new features are already pretty damn awesome; if BD get to keep at this for a long time, it’s bound to keep getting better and better.

Reminder that the concept draft in the original post includes modules and area prefabs as potential contest themes

I’d like to note that the concept I’ve drafted up includes modules and prefabs as contest theme categories. If a winner of a contest wants to put everyone onto building a dungeon crawl module for the theme of the next contest, it would be their right to do that. And, since the theme category may not be repeated more than twice in a row, the concept is set up to “pass the ball” from section to section, involving all the crafting skills involved in NWN development.

We could default to making the next round module-themed in case there’s ever no winner (via no submissions), or no participants meet the “review the others to receive your prize” requirement.

Agreeing with DrA that modulebuilding is exceptionally time-intensive and has a fairly high "starting knowledge" requirement

DrA’s point on the massive time cost and knowledge-requirements of building even a short module is a good one, too. Considering the massive time investment, modulebuilding contests should yield something in return for the winner - not just ingroup social acclaim, that has very low benefits. In the drafted concept here, participating in a contest like that would get newbie modulebuilders feedback and advice from more experienced builders, and the winner the option to have specific content created that they may want to have for their own project.

Fielding thought that the advantage of experienced modders over newbies might not be too bad in practice due to prior commitments by the former

Also: I know I’m pretty busy with my own projects; I don’t think I would be able to put as much focus and effort into a contest module as someone who doesn’t have a time-consuming primary project ongoing yet. The playing field between the “veterans” and the “newcomers” mightn’t be as uneven as we think; certainly not if, after the first few rounds of participating, the newcomers gain the tips and tricks of the veterans via their feedback.

The 1.69 / EE problem is a good point. :thinking: It’s easy enough to set up NWN1 variants of EE content, but for modules, specifically… hm. :thinking:

The original concept draft does include that people are not required to review content that they cannot view (although that section should be rephrased to reflect this particular circumstance). At the moment, I think chances are that the EE builders would get fewer feedback reviews on their submission by the other participants - as opposed to vice-versa, because EE builders can review 1.69 modules. Optimizing the amount of feedback and improvement suggestions 1.69 builders get is very much in the spirit of the concept, so maybe EE builders should be required to review 1.69 modules, but not vice versa.

Maybe that would be a reason to motivate people to build contest modules for 1.69, making them more accessible to everyone.

If 1.69 modules and EE modules were thrown into one pot during voting, though… hm.

::playing scenarios in head:: :thinking:

2 Likes

I’m also just going to throw this out there, what i often find out about content creating amidst this community is how often external resource hunting happens.

Ive actually found that a large number of our current custom content was not in fact made by content creators, but by other people outside of this community (from say 3d modelers, to other game modding creators).

It’s not that it can’t be done though, its just more convenient for content creators, like myself, to seek out free modeling resources and convert it into a usable object or animated creature for our own benefit.

So that is something this challenge should take into consideration, as its very easy to do. The ccc seems to accept this, as its ultimate goal was essentially creating new content for the community.

That isnt to say that every model in the ccc has to also be custom content, as ive contributed to a number of generic area’s for certain months related to its theme.

2 Likes

It’s currently addressed in Rule 3, like this:


Rule 3

3.) All submissions must be custom work (unless the contest theme explicitly states otherwise).
No ports from elsewhere unless porting stuff from other games is expressly part of the theme. Submitting something that wasn’t crafted by you is grounds for disqualification; very few people here stand a chance of competing with professional-level work, it’d completely wonk up the contest.

An example of an exception to this rule is a reskinning competition, where an original model is presented, and participants are told to modify it. Think “Take this basic horse model I made, and bring me different variants of it, so that I may get ten different mount appearances when I personally just had to make the one! :-D”.



I think if ports from elsewhere were permitted by default, it’d destabilize if not completely invert the Effort-Put-In/Likelihood-Of-Winning ratio. Modeling or texturing bouts where professional-level ports get pit against custom work by people who’re just starting out heavily favor the ports.

Content porters might not be able to deliver the same kind of crafting feedback and advice that people who do the work themselves from the ground up could, which would negate the benefit of getting their reviews for the people who craft original submissions. Taking the BD Aribeth for an example; the person who originally crafted her is a far more advanced 3d modeler than I am, making their 3d modeling advice much more valuable than mine. Someone who crafts things from the ground up amasses a whole different set of tips and tricks than someone who modifies things that already exist, or someone who ports things that already exist.

On the other hand, if a regular content porter wins a contest, and wants to set everybody else onto learning how to port content as well (it is an incredibly easy way to get extremely high-qualify content into NWN and thus extremely cost-benefit effective), I’d say that should be perfectly within their rights. In the case of creature ports, that could fall under a Rigging-themed contest that specifies one or more free model sites as a base.

If everyone in a contest was porting stuff, all submitters would be doing the same thing again and thus be on equal footing. It’s probably one of the setups where complete newbies are most likely to stand a chance of winning, so that seems desirable for motivating new people to compete. And, teaching newbies how to port free models into NWN would teach them a skill that would enable them to contribute to the CCC. An initiative to teach new people how content porting is done could lead to a great deal more extremely high-quality content being submitted to the CCC.

There would, under Rule 7 (“When a winner is submitting the next theme, they must ensure that a tutorial that teaches the basic skills necessary to compete must exist on the Vault, or else the winner must be able to provide one themselves.”), need to be an usable content porting tutorial to base that type of contest round on, however. I think there isn’t currently a content-porting tutorial; one might need to be written, if that should become a theme.

:thinking:

Altering proposed Rule 3 to reflect this:


Altered Rule 3

3.) All submissions must be custom work (unless the contest theme explicitly states otherwise).
No ports from elsewhere unless porting stuff from other games or free resource sites is expressly part of the theme. Submitting something that wasn’t crafted by you is grounds for disqualification; very few people here stand a chance of competing with professional-level work, it’d completely wonk up the contest.

This rule has exceptions. Two examples:

  • A Reskinning competition, where an original model is presented to be modified. Think “Take this basic horse model I made, and bring me different variants of it, so that I may get ten different mount appearances when I personally just had to make the one! :-D”.
  • A Rigging competition, where one or more free model sites are specified, from which everyone in the contest may port a model which they rig themselves.

The spirit of the rule is to keep everyone on equal footing, experience differences notwithstanding. When newbie crafters are directly pit against advanced crafters, they’re supposed to get the feedback and advice of the advanced crafters out of it in return; content porters may not be able to offer the same kind of advice that creators of original content could have. So, contest rounds should be either no ports from elsewhere, or everyone ports from elsewhere.

When submitting ported content, the submitter is required to make sure that the licensing terms of the ported content permit it being ported to other games.


?


One other problem with content ports could be, in the rigging-contest scenario where people pick a creature model of their choice from a free model site, that two or more submitters port the exact same model. Realistically, winning by public vote in a porting contest would tend to favor the best-looking models, but if two (or more) submissions look identical in every way…

:thinking:

Maybe in a porting contest, submitters should be required to post the resource they’re porting into the contest thread, “locking” it in in a “first come, first serve” kind of way, so no two people ever submit the exact same ported resource.

1 Like

I think its getting there! :slight_smile: I’m interested in seeing where this goes for the final ruling for each type of category.

Maybe perhaps reflect on non-custom content to regular “vanilla” content which can be say anything from internal hakpacks (cep, project q) to regular bioware base materials to create something new since we’d all know what to expect out of them, to even suggesting that nwn EE should be its own category as well.

I don’t see any problem with regular competitions. Two modding communities I’m also part of (Warcraft III and Morrowind) have community challenges on a regular basis. Two extra specific themes I would like to see are module synopsis (writing) and soundtrack (sound/music).

I think simultaneous NWN1-1.69, NWN1-EE, and NWN2 bouts shouldn’t be horrible overkill. :thinking: It might even make the concept more useful to NWN1-EE builders, since content created for the NWN1-1.69 section would benefit them, too. And, the EE builders who still have 1.69 NWN would be able to participate in two bouts at a time - meaning, two chances of setting other people onto contributing to their project, if they win. So that’d actually hold the potential of being more beneficial for advancing EE-level module projects than for 1.69 ones.

Two concerns I’ve got about including the CEP and Project Q in the “acceptable-to-use-as-a-base vanilla content”-pool are that 1.) it’s not always 100% certain that nothing illegitimate got inadvertently integrated into either pack because backtracing the sources is nigh-impossible for a lot of stuff, and 2.) that the quality levels of the content in the packs varies much more strongly than that of the relatively uniform official content.

Firmly sticking to official content as being acceptable to use as a base in all circumstances (aside from bouts where a specific (custom or free) model, a group of (custom or free) base models, or a free resource site is specified) would mean staying pretty certain that it won’t draw anyone’s ire (the benevolence of our Corporate Overlords towards their modding communities be praised :heart:), and keep the quality and style of the base resources on roughly the same level; leveling the field, since everyone’s starting out with roughly the same lump of clay. Moreso if 1.69 and EE are separate sections. :thinking:


But the “Bringing a competetive setup into the community could cause undesirable social shifts”-objection is also an important one that we shouldn’t shove aside. :thinking: Especially if the contest setup draws in new people who aren’t accustomed to the general noncompetetive/collaborative spirit hereabouts, and take the “RAWRH! WINNING MEANS THERE HAVE TO BE LOSERS, AND THE LOSER SHALL NOT BE I!”-thing from out in the real world into it.

In theory, far as I’m imagining the concept, every participant is someone who could in the next round be contributing to the winner’s project, so if there are fewer other participants, the prize of winning lessens in worth - hence, it should be in everyone’s interests not to push out “rivals” (present or potential) in an attempt to increase one’s own chances of winning - but rather be in our interests to team up with or learn from others to try to increase our chances.

Coming up with interpersonal-“Shit goes wrong”-scenarios, and providing thoughts about how to go about dealing with them:

- Scenario 1

Scenario:

  • Somebody invests a great deal of time into their submission, does not win, and is terribly disappointed by that.

That’s very likely to happen, and sucks.

But - they still gain skill and experience from completing their submission, as well as the feedback from the other participants. Considering that “There’s so few comments and reviews” is a recurring niggle, and we’re all crafting stuff by ourselves anyway… the gain from losing should still be greater than if one did not participate at all, and can be appreciated for that.

Plus, there will be other bouts. And, if they and somebody else agree on what kind of next bout they would want to declare if they won, they could team up with somebody who has complementary skills.

- Scenario 2

Scenario:

  • Somebody invests a great deal of time into their submission, wins, and somebody else is disappointed that they did not win and complains, and the victor or bystanders react ungraciously (“Why are you ruining (NAME)'s Moment of Glory™, that is so rude of you, you are a shitty person!”), kicking off a grudge match.

I think that could be avoided easily enough by gently discouraging excessive laudation of the winner, and showing some degree of understanding towards the frustration of the loser - acknowledging that neither victory nor defeat in some online contest alter the fact that their social status is that of equals.

And, if we don’t award “internet fame” as the prize for competetive behaviour, then competetive behaviour shouldn’t be very attractive to people who specifically want social acclaim - a setup where considerable effort needs to be put in in order to win, combined with a relatively low praise and status reward and a high chance of publicly “losing”, isn’t usually very attractive to malignant narcissists.

So I think, in theory, participating in a contest set up like this shouldn’t be super attractive to people who enjoy kicking downwards and want to acquire social status specifically for the freedom to be allowed to do so without repercussions.

- Scenario 3

Scenario:

  • Somebody writes a review that the reviewed person takes to be mean or discouraging, although it was not intended to be so.

Person 2 should probably let Person 1 know, so that Person 1 can apologize and clarify that no jerkitude was intended (ALL MUST BOW TO THE HOLINESS OF RULE 1). Thereafter, the two of them should but are not required to record a duet rendition of the My Nemesis song from Phineas And Ferb together and put it online for the entertainment all. Bonus points for cosplay.

- Scenario 4

Scenario:

  • Somebody intentionally writes a mean review and is unapologetic about it.

You jerk! You have violated Rule 1, the Holy Rule!

The intentionally meanly reviewed person should immediately link the reviewer to aforementioned My Nemesis song from Phinas And Ferb. Thereafter, the two should duel to the death - no, not to the death… TO THE PAIN! Afterwards, we should probably all have a talk with the offender about why Rule 1 is super awesome, and if they refuse to acknowledge the ultimate superiority of Rule 1, then they should be first temporarily, and, in case of repeat offenders, permanently barred from participating.

Truthfully, getting a mean review isn’t the end of the world once you know how to toggle between giving a shit what people around you think (being socially conscious) and not giving a shit what (specific person) thinks about (specific topic(such as you)). If somebody is clearly telling you “I am trying to harm you!” on the internet, the easiest way to foil their nefarious plan is to just not give a damn. Some pretty good responses are “Oh wow. How come? Are you okay?” and “Oh man. XD Don’t bother, I self-sabotage plenty by myself already”.

This is not an “Everybody out for themselves!”-thing. In the “One for All, All for One!”-mentality, an attack on one is an attack on all. If people, in accordance with (probably evolutionary) human nature, start kicking one another when competing over something, the kicked shall not stand alone; we try to pull one another up, not push one another down.

But - preferably, whenever possible, this should include the people who kick others. “Everybody out for themselves!”/“Rule of the strongest!” is extremely widespread in the real world, not to mention in nature itself, and often ingrained to the point of being a reflex rather than an intentional, conscious action. Giving rude people the benefit of the doubt, and the benefit of explaining what they’re doing wrong and why it’s wrong and what they could be doing instead, while demonstrating that the shelter and aid of the group also extends to them, increases the chances of convincing them to be more amenable towards others in the future, possibly including towards people outside of the NWN community.

If you can do that for someone, you may well have made a small but meaningful impact on the world at large, bettering the lives of people whom you may never meet - but who, in turn, affect the lives of others.

- Scenario 5

Scenario:

  • Somebody wins a bout, but Real Life intervenes before they can declare the next theme and/or review other participants, and their well-deserved prize gets forfeited as a result, and they’re disappointed.

This is a horror scenario for me, because I have no idea how to make that situation at all better. I would propose giving them cake or other favoured edibles of theirs, but that’s difficult to do over the internet.

- Scenario 6

Scenario:

  • A highly-skilled team starts dominating the bouts, and people get pissed about nobody else having a shot anymore.

This one’s a pretty complex situation. On one hand, a highly-skilled team capable of dominating the bouts is likely to be producing extremely good content as their submissions - which gets released under complete “Edit, Redistribute, Use As Thou Wilt”-permissions to the community at large. The contributions of such teams are extremely desirable, far as creating new NWN content goes.

Some suggestions for working around monopolization in the spirit of Rule 1:

  • The team might consider skipping some bouts (such as every second one), or splitting up to do individual contributions again sometimes.
  • The team might consider occasionally donating their prize by nominating contest themes that are in the interests of other participants.
  • The team might consider member-switching frequently; taking on other people for the duration of a bout, such as involving newbies as team members for a bout, showing them how they work together to reach a high output.

Again, discouraging other participants is not in the interests of the winners. The fewer other participants there are, the fewer contributions to the winners’ project there will be - making putting in the effort to create a winning contribution a waste of time on part of the winners.

It might make sense to integrate rules about teams needing to regularly switch members (no team contributions by the exact same people twice in a row), or people needing to take turns doing solitary or team contributions (contribute to something in a team in round 1 -> not allowed to contribute something in a team in round 2).

- Scenario 7

Scenario:

  • People are secretly teaming up but submitting on their own, trying to game the system.

You sneaky cheats! You have violated Rule 1, the Holy Rule, by attempting to deceive your fellows for your own gain!

While I grudgingly admire your cunning deceit and am willing to acknowledge that looking for loopholes in the system which to exploit in secrecy is a highly effective strategy for getting ahead in the world, you are pretty clearly not Trying Not To Be Jerks and that is not okay. Be apologetic and stop forthwith, or prepare to be first temporarily and, in case of repeat offenders, permanently banned from participating, if your blatant corruption should ever come to light… which it will, sooner or later. Mark me words, it will.

There is no bending Rule 1. Rule 1 is the single most important rule of them all. Take Rule 1 seriously.

- Scenario 8

Scenario:

  • During the voting and reviewing phase, people who do not receive enough votes to stand a chance of winning start neglecting to review others’ submissions, as they do not risk not receiving the prize by not reviewing.

I think I’d consider this undesirable, but acceptable. The feedback of the people who are most highly-skilled in that field is what’s most relevant to others. If somebody feels that they have nothing useful to offer to the other participants, then they shouldn’t be punished for not giving feedback that they would consider useless (which amounts to cognitive spam).

On the other hand, keep in mind that even small encouragements can mean a lot to the recipient. If you’ve given the other person reason to smile, or called attention to some aspect of their work that was especially nice and should be replicated in the future, or if you can provide an idea for an alternate application or an expansion to their original concept, that’s not useless in the least.

- Scenario 9

Scenario:

  • In reviews, negative feedback starts outweighing positive feedback overall, making everyone vaguely unhappy.

Us jerks! We’re, collectively rather than individually, violating Rule 1, the Holy Rule! Whom do we even blame in this kind of scenario?!

We should probably read some articles on how to give constructive feedback, and maybe swap the next theme to be something funny so everyone has something to laugh about together, bringing the mood up again.

- Scenario 10

Scenario:

  • In reviews, criticism and improvement suggestions become absent, for fear of negative feedback making people unhappy.

Knowing the lot of us, that’s one’s pretty likely. We should keep in mind that we’re doing this to help eachother acquire and improve skills, though. This is one of the things that sets the concept apart from something like the CCC; we’re playing a mildly competetive game here, and it’s not super serious, but we’re also here to push ourselves and eachother in a constructive way. Maybe in this scenario, we should remind one another that it’s okay to tell eachother what could be better. That’s one big part of why we’re doing this in the first place, after all. If we never acknowledge what isn’t optimal, we can’t try to improve it.

There are some pretty good online articles on how to give constructive negative feedback; if people get scared of alienating people by criticizing their work, looking some of those up could be a good idea. It’s a useful real-life skill, too; practicing giving constructive criticism in online settings might even help people address real-world workplace problems with coworkers, bosses, or subordinates, lastingly improving one’s “day job” climate.

- Scenario 11

Scenario:

  • During voting, voters begin to show favoritism towards entries by prominent names, without actually examining the individual submissions, leading to a popularity-based advantage of established community members over newcomers.

This one could be alleviated somewhat by setting the voting thread up not to mention the names of the submitters at all, presenting entries with a number and their ‘working title’ and, where applicable, a preview picture (that may not contain mention of the submitter). That way, casual voters who are just glancing over the voting thread only get information about the individual entries.



Maybe we should put together a list of potential categories, and then put up a “I would personally be interested in participating in contests of this category”-poll. And a “This is how I feel about competetiveness being introduced to the NWN community in any form” one, too, ranging from Completely Opposed to Completely in Favor.

If the idea is abhorrent to the majority of people here, then trying to instate it against people’s will would be a violation of Rule 1 (ALL MUST BOW TO THE GLORY OF RULE 1), and therefore be in violation of the spirit of the concept… wherefore it shouldn’t be done.

I think whether or not something like this is fun for people depends very much on how the participants approach it; or, to say, not letting competetiveness turn into a detriment to a social climate takes a village, so without the support of the village, it’s probably best not to try.


Kicking off collection of a categories-list with @Emocion's suggestions:
Writing

Examples:
Module synopses, item descriptions, creature descriptions, character descriptions, character backstories, dialogues, monologues, short stories.

More detail:
A synopsis of a module about cats that take over the universe for a reason that looks silly at first glance but actually isn’t, an item description for a suit of legendary armour, a creature description for an entity that is too horrible to be comprehended and drives the onlooker insane if they stare at it too long, a description of a perfectly ordinary village townsfolk going about their daily life, a character backstory of a ranger who is profoundly unhappy with their place in life, a dialogue between a group of people in a tavern, a supervillain monologue, a short story in which a villain reflects on the motivations for their actions.


Sounds/Music (what is the term for sound crafting, please?? D-:)

Examples:
Soundtracks, creature sounds, area sounds, GUI sounds, speech.

More details:
A menacing opening soundtrack, a cow mooing, a looping rainfall noise, a “Button pressed!”-GUI click, a person laughing maniacally.


Texturing

Examples:
Creature reskins, placeable reskins, floor textures, wall textures, overlayable symbols, decals, seamless patterns.

More Detail:
Reskins of a provided model (take this horse, create differently-coloured variants of it!), reskins of any one from a group of provided models (Turn a tree placeable sinister- and evil-looking), a seamless grass floor texture, a horizontally seamless brick wall texture, a symbol of a magical rune, a wall grafitti decal, a seamless plaid cloth pattern.


Drawing

Examples:
Fanart, original art, symbols, icons, vector graphics, calligraphy.

More detail:
A drawing of Nasher looking angry, a drawing of a sleeping dwarf with red hair, a symbol for a noble house that’s totally into birds, an icon for a custom spell, a vector graphic of an apple, a fancy calligraphic written “Bob wuz here”.


Modules

Examples:
A dungeon, a tavern, a theater, an arena, a shop.

Module themes may include something specific that should be happening in the module, e.g.:

A dungeon delve with an end boss, a tavern with a brawl, a theater in which something goes wrong with the performance, an arena in which a bout gets interrupted, a shop that gets burgled.


3D Modeling

Examples:
A chair, a horse, a cake, a tree, a cat.

3D Modeling themes may include something specific about the model, e.g.:
A high-backed wooden rocking chair, a long-maned horse with an ornate saddle, a birthday cake with twelve candles, a huge white tree with golden apples, a cartoon kitten with giant eyes.


Animating

Examples:
A tapdancing animation for the human supermodels, a “tipping over” animation for the armoire model, a sinisterly-bending-and-writhing animation for one of the birch trees.

An Animating theme should provide a base model that is meant to be animated, or a group of base models from which the participants may pick one.


Rigging

Examples:
A rigged creature from a free model site.

A Rigging theme should provide a base model that is meant to be rigged for NWN, or else a place from which participants may pick a model.

In case of Rigging contests where participants may pick a model, to avoid two or more people rigging the same model, participants should announce their choice as soon as they’ve made it, and then stick to it.


Scripting

Examples:
A spell, an activatable feat, a surrendering function, a party-teleporting function, a replenishing harvestable, an activatable fishing rod, a boss ability, a lamp that changes color the closer a PC gets to it.

More detail:
A damage-dealing fire spell, an activatable feat that makes the user jump into the air and then explode, a surrendering function for PC associates, a party-teleporting function styled as ‘having people get sucked into a vortex’, a replenishing harvestable that’s only clickable when the player moves near it, an activatable fishing rod that can pull a monster out of the water, a ‘jump to a random nearby player’ boss ability, a lamp that changes color the closer a PC gets to it and starts burning them if they get too close unless they’re wearing a Protective Gear item.


Prefabs

Examples:
A legendary weapon, a shopkeeper that sells flowers, a container with a birthday present for a child, an angry dwarf, a farmhouse interior where somebody lives, a weapon shop.

Prefab themes may specify something for people to use as a base, or something from which people may pick something to use as a base. The notable distinction to a module category contest is that a Prefab should be designed with suitability to be included in other modules in mind.


edit1: Expanded for more detail.


More additions to the category list and the examples most welcome. I’ll give it some time (say, two weeks or so) for expanding the list, letting people consider the concept in detail, and discussing it more before putting up any polls. More “Shit goes wrong”-scenarios would be most welcome, too.

It’s Shemsu-Heru vs kamal in the modelling category!

Shemsu: Here’s this Asian mythology lion, It’s awwsome, and it’s a mount too.

Kamal: uhh, I made a stick.

3 Likes

:rofl:

Yep, that’s why we’d be separating bouts into “either everyone is porting content from elsewhere, or no one is porting content from elsewhere”. It’d actually be Shemsu-Heru vs kamal in the Rigging category, where both of you pick a single free model from a free modeling site and port it over into NWN.

THow would the writing categories work, @TheBarbarian? Would you set a brief or topic each time?

I’m just thinking that they either sound very small-scale and specific (creature descriptions, item descriptions) or quite vague (what makes a good dialogue? Are we giving points for branching paths, skill and stat checks, or just looking for engaging writing?) so would likely need some very clear guidance.

1 Like

The winner of the previous bout declares the theme of the next bout, so they’d be the ones setting the brief or topic, presumably to be something that they have an use for. If a modulebuilder has won a bout, they might want to set people onto writing character descriptions for NPCs in their module, or item descriptions for legendary artifacts, or chatter dialogues for their townsfolk, or generally, variants of a specific dialogue or situation they are struggling to finish on their own. It could get them input by a bunch of other people, helping them through something that’s got them struck down with writer’s block. Think “Write a short story about a villain reminiscing about the motivations for their actions”; seeing everyone’s input on that should be interesting for everyone who’s writing a villain of some sort.

I’d like to keep the voting as uncomplicated as possible, if that can be done without horribly wonking things up. :thinking: Thought: What if all bouts had two 0-10 ‘vote categories’, which get added together to comprise the total score of the entry? Matches Theme, and Overall Quality? That way, fulfilling the original request/staying ontopic would be 50% of winning. One vote can be judged objectively (how well does this match the specifications of the theme?), one includes personal taste preferences. :thinking: Or should there be more?

I’ll expand the category list to include more detailed examples, such as the examples for module or 3d modeling themes, for the categories that don’t currently have those. ::salutes::
edit: Expanded list for more detail.