Author Topic: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation  (Read 4236 times)

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #20 on: 17 Apr 2018, 09:39 »
This may seem like a petty suggestion but, as votes are no longer visible, I think it would be a nice courtesy from future voters to hold back on saying who they voted for, especially including a justification for why another game was a better choice. Giving and receiving critique is essential in MAGS but there is a bit of a propensity to compare and reinforce the obvious.
Oh really? When I participated in MAGS I was very eager to know what people thought about my (and other) games and why or why not they voted for it. Of course, it might be good to only state which game you have voted for when the results are revealed to avoid influencing other voters.

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #21 on: 17 Apr 2018, 13:24 »
Here's an idea, what if we promote making MAGS games open source, so that future MAGS games can use assets from previous MAGS games?
Or is that a terrible idea? :-\

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #22 on: 17 Apr 2018, 13:26 »
On the one hand, MAGS has some issues:
  • The allotted time can be a problem (only one month)
  • Timing can be a problem (being ready to start at the beginning of the month)
  • The challenge of creating all assets from scratch can be tough if you lack skill in either backgrounds or animation.
On the other hand, these issues have some benefits:
  • The need to do a game in a month requires the developer to narrow the focus.
  • The start times are very predicable.
  • Gathering assets outside of your skill set fosters teamwork.
  • Requiring original assets results in original games.
But still... a few ideas to pick from... I wouldn't imagine implementing all four of those changes.  Just continuing the discussion...

  • Add categories to the voting system, instead of finding one winner (best original art, best animation, best game, etc.)
  • Allow RON or other freely available assets, but categorize the game as such (best gameplay, best original art, and so forth), or let the "market" decide (if it's the best game ever made with Sam and Max since Sam and Max, then fine, otherwise mega-down-vote for making another Sam and Max game).
  • Announce the topic one month earlier allowing one month for design and one month for implementation.   
    OR...
  • Allow all of the winners between the months of X and Y - 1 to plan the 11 game topics from Y + 1 to X' for the next year.  Announce all of the topics in month Y, giving people the freedom to pick a month that they want to join and plan for it (take a week off, gather a team, sketch a few thumbnails, practice a new skill ... but no actual game code or assets). With this idea we should keep the "all original" restriction.

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #23 on: 17 Apr 2018, 14:20 »
Here's an idea, what if we promote making MAGS games open source, so that future MAGS games can use assets from previous MAGS games?
Or is that a terrible idea? :-\

I think highlighting the option of doing this would be a good idea.


  • Add categories to the voting system, instead of finding one winner (best original art, best animation, best game, etc.)
  • Allow RON or other freely available assets, but categorize the game as such (best gameplay, best original art, and so forth), or let the "market" decide (if it's the best game ever made with Sam and Max since Sam and Max, then fine, otherwise mega-down-vote for making another Sam and Max game).
  • Announce the topic one month earlier allowing one month for design and one month for implementation.   
    OR...
  • Allow all of the winners between the months of X and Y - 1 to plan the 11 game topics from Y + 1 to X' for the next year.  Announce all of the topics in month Y, giving people the freedom to pick a month that they want to join and plan for it (take a week off, gather a team, sketch a few thumbnails, practice a new skill ... but no actual game code or assets). With this idea we should keep the "all original" restriction.

I definitely add my vote to the allowing RON assets to be used.  OR as an alternative to that, perhaps make every 3rd month a RON themed game (wich existing RON assets available to use in those months)?  Would be nice to see more RON games being made.  Would have to be rather loose on new games sticking to the existing canon though.

I think announcing more than one month in advance could be a good idea, allowing people to pick and choose which ones they want to enter and maybe even planning some holiday around it.  It could however lead to allegations of people using far more than the single month to actually make the game.  (Not that the prestige of winning a MAGS would really be enough to make people want to cheat surely?!?)


For myself I would actually like to propose a rather more radical option - and I know most aren't going to like it.  (Apologies in advance if someone has already suggested this, I haven't read every post.)  But hear me out.

What if MAGS morphed into not a game in a month, but a game in 2 (or even 3) months?  I know it goes against the original idea of MAGS but it would be so much easier for people to find enough time to make something (especially if, as previously suggested by several people, RON / public domain assets can be used - perhaps also InstaGame - is that still a thing?).  Anyway I expect most people not not like this idea, but I thought I'd put it out there anyway.

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #24 on: 18 Apr 2018, 00:15 »
What if MAGS morphed into not a game in a month, but a game in 2 (or even 3) months?  I know it goes against the original idea of MAGS but it would be so much easier for people to find enough time to make something

I suspect this may result in little or no change to the current volume of games being finished for a few main reasons:

* It could make procrastination a more attractive option. When I've been really passionate about getting a MAGS entry finished in time I have spent pretty much every available free moment on it. I have turned down outings with my wife (I have even asked her to go out for the day and financed it when I needed deep concentration) and bailed on nights out with mates. If I knew I had 2-3 months then I probably wouldn't do so and my total number of work-hours on the game wouldn't increase by much.

* It gives a longer time to grow disinterested in your own game. Even over the space of a month it seems many starters grow bored of their original game concept and drop out. We've all read comments like "I haven't found the urge to work on it for the last two weeks so I doubt I'll finish it."

* People would probably start off with a 2-3 times grander scope for their game and still run up against the problem of having bitten off more than they could chew.

* Overall interest in MAGS within the community may wane even more with a 2 to 3 month gap between each batch of new games coming out. It's a long time between payoffs for the community members who like to suddenly get a batch of new games all at once to play, consider, and vote on.

Just my two-cents of course.

Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #25 on: 18 Apr 2018, 00:34 »
If you want to reach new people and raise awereness, you need marketing. Starting with getting MAGS on the front page of AGS and updating its own homepage (no updates in 2018). Create social media accounts or maybe make a deal with some youtube/twitch channels and gaming blogs for coverage. Also, tie-ins with other game jams. For example, AdventureJam 2018 is coming in May and all AGS participants should consider double dipping. All this takes lots of time and effort of course, which you probably don't have, unless someone wants to share hosting responsibilites.

I agree with the general notion that the biggest issue is time, but I'm a bit hesitant about increasing the monthly time restriction. Most game jams are shorter, some only few days or hours, and many still manage to attract a decent amount of participants and produce quality games (though it should be noted that very few jams take place 12 times a year and nonstop). But my point is that good games can be made in very short time (look at Slasher, for example) and even the most simple projects can eventually lead to something bigger or spark an interest in AGS. So, yes, I agree with go small. Also, good points from Mandle. I'd probably leave this as a last resort when other options fail to draw in more people.

However, I do like the idea of allowing more pre-made assets. This could mean simple, but functional templates for different point-and-click interfaces, text games, visual novels etc., so that people could easily quick start their projects. I know that everything in the Modules & Plugins sections is allowed, but I would appreciate a good organized list of those and some probably need fixing and updating. How up to date is this place? I'm also all in for allowing RON assets, Eric's resources and stuff from released MAGS games (optional for creators). I guess we could start from creating a library of assets and see where it goes. Or if people want all public domain and free stuff to be available, then I feel that there should still be some rules, like providing the links to the assets beforehand or maybe a time limit. For example, it has to have been free for at least a year before the competition starts, so that people wouldn't simply create resources and then release those or some of their old stuff right before a suitable jam.

This is a good initiative, I'm excited to see where it leads and hopefully it will breathe some new life into MAGS.

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #26 on: 18 Apr 2018, 01:23 »
I pretty much agree with everything Mandle (and hobo) just said about why increasing the time limit won't make any difference to the number of participants, and could even have a detrimental effect.

Also, I personally don't like the idea of setting the topics too far in advance. I really think the solution is to just have much more general themes like 'house' or 'winter' rather than elaborate concepts.

Instead of changing the structure of the contest to give people more thinking time, I think it would help if we changed our own approach a month-long game-making contest. The month should include thinking time and tweaking time. The actual game-making time is sandwiched somewhere in between. So plan as if you only have 20 days to make the game, then any extra time can be spent making it pretty.

Allowing RON assets is definitely an option. I'd be wary about marrying RON and MAGS too closely together though. The RON universe is quite intimidating for newbies and even oldbies. Some might be put off making a game if it was expected to slot into the RON-verse.

(After hobo posted)
Quote from: hobo
Starting with getting MAGS on the front page of AGS and updating its own homepage (no updates in 2018).
The website has been broken a little while and I can't update stuff. I don't have the whatjamacallit to go fixing code myself. Only host access. But I'll see if Peder can have a fiddle around and get it working again.

(On a side note, Peder and I have talked about how the MAGS site needs updating. It would be nice to have a dedicated MAGS portal as part of this website rather than a seperate one. That way a lot of stuff could be automated using our regular forum accounts. I'm not really the man to go about that but it would be something to think about.)

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #27 on: 18 Apr 2018, 03:34 »
From personal experience, waning MAGS participation is a life-stage thing.  People at the bottom of the totem pole at work or with really young kids just don't have the spare hours to participate in a time intensive competition like MAGS.  If it was socially acceptable to submit joke games that you could throw together in several hours I might be tempted, but I always thought that was frowned upon.

I like TheBitPriest's idea of voting in categories, as it shares the glory a bit.  We switched to category voting down in the Fortnightly Writing Competition years ago and I find it much more rewarding as a writer to get more detailed feedback than just a win-lose vote.  I don't know if it is incentive for more participation, though.  The number of participants entering since the change is roughly on par with before hand.  Anecdotally, there's definitely more participation in the FWC when the rules imply that a short entry is socially acceptable....

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #28 on: 18 Apr 2018, 08:19 »
Baron,

Quote
People at the bottom of the totem pole at work just don't have the spare hours to participate in a time intensive competition like MAGS
So, the high flyers have time then?

Quote
Anecdotally, there's definitely more participation in the FWC when the rules imply that a short entry is socially acceptable....
Size is not everything but quality is, so I am told (laugh)

If we reset all the boundaries I think it would take away the edge of the whole purpose of Mag... after all, you could not very well ask the sporting committee to shorten the 100m hurdles race to 80m or take away the hurdles just to suit yourself....but you could train more, get better running shoes and learn the track better etc etc

It's a competition, simple as that.... and it's to show us what you can do...

What's more, any game does not need to be long and complicated:  as long as it's playable and fun (nod)

Anyone could win, anyone (nod)


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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #29 on: 18 Apr 2018, 08:39 »
Okay so the arguments against making it longer by Mandle are good ones, and Hobo's point about marketing is very valid.  Perhaps it only feels like "if I'd had more time I would have been able to do it" when this is not really the case.  "Marketing" in this sense is clearly something for mainly within the AGS community and therefore the forum, though social media also has its uses there.  I think the thing about other game jams is that they although shorter they tend to be extremely focused, have quite good (or better) social media exposure and are often annual events.  MAGS is a kind of hybrid game jam - in principle it's the same idea but by virtue of being every single month, it's hard to get the same level of enthusiasm and motivation to finish a new project for it every time (unless you're Slasher! :wink:)

It seems that a certain level of consensus has been reached about allowing some pre-made graphics.  I think that would be rather helpful, especially to artistically challenged people like myself! :grin:

I also like TheBitPriest's idea of category voting, which is in line with how voting works for both the writing and art competitions on the forum.

Mandle

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #30 on: 18 Apr 2018, 12:53 »
It seems that a certain level of consensus has been reached about allowing some pre-made graphics.  I think that would be rather helpful, especially to artistically challenged people like myself! :grin:

I'd also shuffle in red-faced and sideways at this point and mention that I myself (and Slasher) have been using graphics garnered from google for many a MAGS and nobody has said anything as far as I know...

I feel that adapting a pre-made graphic to a game is an art in itself. It saves on the drawing time for sure but it also offers its own challenges: You must find the exact thing you need, then you must adapt it to fit within the game so that it is playable, and also you will probably be doing some work on it in GIMP to put it through some further changes etc.

And plugging the ripped art into your game can be done well or badly or anywhere in between depending on your skill at doing so.

You could have a bunch of clashing graphics in completely different styles dragging the player out of the experience or you could polish them to the point where they all fit, which takes time and effort.

At the end of the day the voters will take into consideration if the ripped art worked for them within the total experience of the game.

Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #31 on: 18 Apr 2018, 14:00 »
Some might be put off making a game if it was expected to slot into the RON-verse.
This probably shouldn't be a requirement or expectation, most RON assets are fairly simple and generic, which means they can be easily repurposed or modified to suit your needs and create new content. Also, I don't think RON is defined or limited by any visual style or the current collection of free assets. You can use whatever graphics you want to make a RON game, these standard sprites and backgrounds are simply there to make creating games easier and faster. So what if your main character looks like Mika Huy? That sprite alone doesn't really define what Mika is and there have already been multiple different looks and versions for her in various games. Or maybe we could launch alternative universes or timelines of RON that run parallel to the main one and allow complete freedom and all manner of changes.

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #32 on: 18 Apr 2018, 16:53 »
First off, thank you for starting this thread!
+1 for not extending it to 2-3 months, for reasons already stated.
+1 to marketing better on the forums.
I can go either way with category voting.
+1 for using pre-made graphics.

Personally I would participate more if I didn't have to create MAGS art from scratch. It eats up all of my time, and I don't particularly enjoy it.
Having RON assets available would be great, but does that mean you have to make a RON game? I don't know the universe, and I wouldn't want newbies to feel like they couldn't participate either for that reason. :P

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #33 on: 18 Apr 2018, 17:03 »
Quote
I pretty much agree with everything Mandle (and hobo) just said about why increasing the time limit won't make any difference to the number of participants, and could even have a detrimental effect.
Me too.
I'm not so adamant about the frequency of the competitions though. One MAGS competition every 2 months could be enough.

Quote
The challenge of creating all assets from scratch can be tough if you lack skill in either backgrounds or animation.
I also find it hard to make a consistent game with satisfying visuals on my own in one month. It promotes teamwork but can deter some people from entering.

Quote
Allow RON or other freely available assets
+1
Would it be possible to allow the use of assets produced during other contests too? Background Blitz, Sprite contest...
« Last Edit: 18 Apr 2018, 17:09 by Creamy »
 

Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #34 on: 18 Apr 2018, 18:03 »
Hi folks,


I also noted some time ago that MAGS had suffered a bit of a slow down in terms of participants for each months contest. I remember posting a few suggestions in some or other MAGS thread about this last year. My suggestion was simply to have MAGS run every 2 months however at the time I think people frowned upon the idea somewhat for various reasons of which I can understand.

However much as a radical change it is, I would like to mention it again since I just spotted this thread now and thought to give my thoughts on it.

I think there are a number of benefits to running the MAGS every other month, on the surface of the suggestion you might automatically think well, its only 6 mags a year compared to 12 and how could that possibly result in more participants per year?



Well here is the theory, shaky as it may be


1. I honestly feel that you might find more people enter who have already entered into a previous contest because there is a chance that directly after a MAGS participants will be tired, perhaps stressed, lost a bit of enthusiasm, in particular since its a jam we are talking about after all so there is that all hands on deck, full steam ahead activity which in my opinion takes time to recharge when its all over with.
Getting people to enter into another MAGS directly after is a lot to ask especially if they have worked to the bone on any previous contest. Said person/teams might be more likely to enter after a good few weeks have passed.

2. Having the MAGS run every two months gives the opportunity to add an extra week (or perhaps more) onto the time period so development can run over 5 weeks rather then 4. this extra week can come out of the month that a MAGS isn't being run.


3. Running every two months also gives the opportunity to add an extra week (or more) to the period where people get to play the games then vote, which may lead to more people getting time to play more games and squeezing out as many votes as possible with a slightly longer voting time.


4. Running it every 2 months with extra time added on may also result in better quality of games with more time for individuals or teams to polish out last Min bugs. (an extra week or more makes all the difference with contests like theses)


5. MAGS every 2 months give more time to promote the next mags before the theme is actually announced. Any extra time to get the word around is a good thing and will catch more peoples attention.


6. MAGS every 2 months might give people that regularly enter into the MAGS more time in between each MAGS to enter into one of the other smaller contests the forum runs, so this suggestion might end up benefiting participant numbers with smaller contests too.


I think at worst running this every 2 months could result in the same number of over all yearly participants as current projections are (based on the slow down).... at best you might end up getting more bumper MAGS (such as the one last June (i think?) where many people entered... So basically getting on average 8 people or so to enter every 2 months might end up being better then having 12 individual months of MAGS where only 1 or 2 or 3 enter.
OK now the "8" is wild guess, and I will admit doing this every 2 months idea might indeed make things worse, but I think if promoted right it could work.

And the only other bad aspect to this that I can see (apart from the potential to make the bad situation worse) is you would have to call the contest something else.

So in short I think you may end up getting more activity and also more people playing the entries and more people voting.

Oh also come MAGGIES people I feel might be more likely to play 6 games rather then 12 to make a fairer determination on who to vote for which may mean you might get more people voting on the whole in MAGGIES.






Asides from the suggestion to run it every 2 months here are some other thoughts.


I am not so sure about the suggestion some are making about making it OK to use assets previously made, which for me sort of defeats one of the main challenges for a game JAM. I think Jams in general are ideal for people to think outside the box and improvise and innovate with limited time or ability. However my thoughts on this might be somewhat biased in the sense my main thing is Graphics so I do have to also recognize that other participants might not have the same experience with Graphics so struggle to produce a certain quality in a certain amount of time, but I think every or individual has advantages and disadvantage compared to other participants and the great thing about game JAMS is the resulting variety of styles, ideas, mechanics.. etc that all ultimately pivot around the challenge of working around limitations / strengths and weaknesses that each participant has, and I think letting people use pre-made assets is diminishing the challenge and perhaps fun of the whole experience. But sure someone's fun is another's hell and vise versa so I dunno, there is my thoughts on it anyhoo.


This might sound a bit spammy, but have you thought of setting up a script on the forum to PM or Email every user on the forum with periodic announcements of which anyone can opt out of receiving. This is one way MAGS could be brought to the attention of people who have otherwise got their eyes off the forum and might have actually liked to try entering if they had known about it.
I think a certain MAGS theme might instantly appeal to a potential participant if they just knew about it before hand. A few mentioned about having a forum banner change to reflect up-coming MAGS this is a good idea. Anything to promote within the community is a good think because thinking about promoting MAGS outside of the community is going to be tough for a variety of reasons.

Perhaps rather then automatically offer the next theme suggestion to the winner of each MAGS, have the winner, + 2nd and 3rd place participants suggest theme, and have the community vote on the next theme via a forum poll this will raise the chance that more people will enter into next MAGS because its a theme they actually think they can work with.

Offer trophies or some sort of mark of achievement to winners or and perhaps runner-ups, the same way other contests do. OK sure there is a limited space in the signature area, but still a little badge, or icon, something for participants to aspire to. Perhaps like little star icons in the area to the side of the forum post.. er not sure what that area is called, the area where people's name/avatar are, just under there. I dunno... anyhoo .. I know its such a minor profile cosmetic, but well you know what the net is like, people like to collect achievements and show them off, and rightly so, with the work put in on each project.

Might I suggest an actual Prize for the outright winner of MAGGIES, now this is a bit of a wild suggestion because who is going to fund a prize and then why are no prizes offered for other categories during the AGS Awards, but I just though to mention this anyway, even if its just a small price like oh I dunno a book token or perhaps even a AGS T-shirt.. something.. you know.. something other then the win to aspire to might end up tempting more folks to enter.

There are a bunch of other ideas that could be done to help Mags and some have already suggested some sound ideas here also, I just hope things start to pick up eventually and I wish it the very best of luck.

I myself am striving to try enter into a MAGS this year at some point so you can hopefully count me in for at least one MAGS.

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #35 on: 18 Apr 2018, 19:18 »
From what I read in this thread, I suggest the following changes:
  • All previously existing assets are allowed...
  • ...if they were publicly available before the MAGS topic was announced
  • The voting is done in three categories
    • Best interpretation of the theme
    • Best original assets (graphics, music, animation,...)
    • Most enjoyable game

I personally don't like RON assets, because with all their story and canon I find it rather intimidating (even if it is not required that you follow it).

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #36 on: 19 Apr 2018, 03:07 »
Many good ideas...

What if we did something like this: Intentionally vague, broad topics on even months and specific gameplay/story challenges on odd months.
 
Broad topics would restricted to newly created art assets, while gameplay/story challenges would allow preexisting backgrounds and animations.

For example, in December the theme may be "Any game about winter or holiday," while in January it would be "A game with multiple player characters that have different strengths who work together to solve a mystery."

If you tend to like stories or interesting gameplay challenges, you know that every other month, MAGS is your place to shine.  If you prefer more freedom in game design, but like to paint and animate, you know when to set aside some time for a MAGS.

So, it would still be *M*AGS (occurring monthly), people would be able to anticipate the scope of the project based on the month, and game makers with different strengths would know when to participate.

For some people, it would be an every-other-month event. Others may still like to participate in them all.

Plus, we could try it then reevaluate... It doesn't really change the contest very much.

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 19 Apr 2018, 03:09 by TheBitPriest »

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #37 on: 19 Apr 2018, 04:48 »
@TheBitPriest - I like your thinking. Saying that, if we were going to have a mix of broad themes and specific challenges, why don’t we let the topic setter be the one to decide each week whether or not (or how strictly) to have a ‘original art only’ rule?




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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #38 on: 19 Apr 2018, 08:53 »
@TheBitPriest - I like your thinking. Saying that, if we were going to have a mix of broad themes and specific challenges, why don’t we let the topic setter be the one to decide each week month whether or not (or how strictly) to have a ‘original art only’ rule?

I know you're still new at this MAGS gig, Stu. It's all good. (laugh)

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #39 on: 19 Apr 2018, 09:02 »
MAGS where you make one game a month but the topic changes each week?