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Author Topic: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation  (Read 843 times)

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Apologies if this is in the wrong place as it’s not in itself a competition thread. I envisage it being stickied at the top of the board but if mods think it belongs in gen-gen, that’s fine.

Basically. MAGS needs more participants. I know everyone’s busy, myself included but I’m getting increasingly disheartened by the lack of entries.

However, instead of blaming people for having lives outside AGS I want to think of ways we can increase levels of participation, in the form of suggestions and advice.

Here are a few ideas. Feel free to discuss these and add some ideas of your own:

More teams - If you have an idea but think you’ll be busy, make a team. Team games are always welcome and the games borne from teams and parnerships are always really good. The thread itself is a great place to offer and ask for help. Also try IRC, Discord, Twitter. Some folks who don’t often check the thread might be willing to partner up if you approach them outside the forum.

More general themes - I used to say this in the PMs I sent to winners about choosing a topic. More simple themes/topics almost always produce more participation and more finished games. Clever concepts with extra rules always look great on paper and always garner a lot of early interest, but these are also the ones which ultimately produce fewer entries.

Go small. No. Smaller than that. No no. Like you’ve only got 30 days. The number of MAGS games which don’t see the light of day because they were too ambitious is quite shocking. I try to be lenient with extensions but I can’t always honor them and to be frank, if you’re still making the first draft of your game on the last day, you’re doing it wrong. Give yourself a pre-deadline, like a week before the main one. Spend the last few days making sure the game is bug free and pretty.

Let’s MMAGSGA (make MAGS great again)

Gurok

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #1 on: 16 Apr 2018, 04:14 »
Hmmm... I'm thinking if we can't raise paricipation levels for every month, perhaps raising them for a single month would be a good start. Could we hype up December or January (months close to holidays) as "MAGS-a-palooza" or "MAGS-stock"? Get people to pre-register and publicise it months in advance.

It's a bit radical, but what if we only judged games once a year (Maggies)? A bit like the IF Comp, but still with monthly deadlines. It would give every game a chance to compete against a reasonably-sized pool of games. TBH, I'm not a big fan as this doesn't really grow MAGS but manages its decline.

You could enforce shortness via the theme. One Room, One Week could be applied to MAGS as a rule for a few months -- one room, one month.

Prizes are good, but nobody wants to fund MAGS prizes, obviously. Maybe we could award a gold star in someone's username area each time they win a MAGS. Of course, if some generous patron wants to donate prize money, that would work too.

Slasher

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #2 on: 16 Apr 2018, 05:11 »
I totally agree that the lack of MAG entrants is concerning if we are to keep it going.

Some people are either too busy at the time, can't think of a game for the topic, think their games are not any good, try to get above their heads and realise they don't have the knowledge to do the game and so back down.

MAGS and the suchlike is all about having fun...  It's like: 'Let's see what I can make in a month'.....

We of course have our regulars which helps,

Naturally, people with good scripting skills who have the ability to produce quick results helps, whist people with not much experience struggle to get anything done..

Some people can't even make a game in a year that alone a month.... These people need help and reassurance...

Of course it would be good if old hands offered help to newbies and offered a hand with advice etc etc if they needed it or work as a team...

A game-making workshop would be great....a place to hone their skills and learn from experienced people...

I will naturally try to help get more participants.

I will mention this in Slashers Corner...

Let's save MAG (nod)

and Stu ;)


selmiak

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #3 on: 16 Apr 2018, 08:26 »
people are busy, themes are interesting to gamemakers or not. participation happens or not. Last june or july was great and had a lot of great games come out of mags, maybe this summer mags is back at its glorious height. I wanted to join but all the themes this year just didn't catch me, sorry theme makers.

Also update the december mags link in the IRC greeting message. Announcing the current mags theme in a forum banner sure gets some attention to it, still if the theme is not interesting or people are just busy you will get only that many entries.

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #4 on: 16 Apr 2018, 09:27 »
I think that people (including myself) crash and burn with their MAGS projects simply because of greed. We want to make great games, we want to make the best we can, and when the 30 day deadline comes crashing down on you, it can get disheartening. Organizing a team to work on a game can be even more work than working solo on something smaller, so I don't really see teaming up as a solid solution here, either.
There isn't really anything concrete that can be done, apart from promoting MAGS more so people are aware of it, and making it clear that the games are not expected to be of top-notch quality or have ten hours of story and gameplay to them. If you can get people to grasp that a small, crude and not-entirely-finished project is a perfectly okay thing to release for MAGS, it might help people be more willing to experiment and put in the effort.

Personally I've looked at participating several times over the past couple years. A couple times I've been put off by the theme (I find themes that are too open to put me off, and personally prefer more restrictive rulesets), other times I have started something and then seen the project die due to simply not having the time and energy to put together a functioning game, which has been exasperated by a personal tendency towards feature creep in development.

I love MAGS, though, as it has helped me focus on some small projects that have taught me a ton about game development, scheduling and planning withing the scope of a project / deadline, so I'd love to see the competition go on and shine in the future. I just hope I can find a way to be a part of that, myself.

-W
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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #5 on: 16 Apr 2018, 12:25 »
A passing thought that allowing RoN assets in any Monthly Mags competition might increase participation, as well as make more folks aware of the RoN assets. I've always thought/felt that, unless it was specifically a RoN anniversary game, using RoN assets violated the MAGS rules.

 

Danvzare

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #6 on: 16 Apr 2018, 12:42 »
The reason why I've only participated in one MAGS so far, is because it's a month long commitment.
You need to mentally prepare yourself ahead of time, that you will be working on this game almost every day for a month. And then you either wait for a theme that you like, or just choose a month and try your best to work within whatever theme gets chosen for that month.

Not only that, but a lot of people can take a month coming up with the design of a game, but with a MAGS, you've got one day to design the majority of the game, with changes needing to be made as you make the game.

It's fun participating in MAGS, but it can be stressful.

Unfortunately, everything I just wrote is just about my experiences, and has nothing to do with improving MAGS participation. I honestly don't know how to improve participation, other than trying to enforce it as a teaching tool for newbies, and trying to get people from outside the AGS community to participate. Neither of which I think is possible.

More teams - If you have an idea but think you’ll be busy, make a team. Team games are always welcome and the games borne from teams and parnerships are always really good. The thread itself is a great place to offer and ask for help. Also try IRC, Discord, Twitter. Some folks who don’t often check the thread might be willing to partner up if you approach them outside the forum.
Maybe I should try participating in a MAGS again, but try and form a team. How easy is it to do that?

Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #7 on: 16 Apr 2018, 14:10 »
I know from my own experience when trying to make games for MAGs which didn't get finished, part of the issue was just trying to figure out an art style and getting graphics done.
What if there were some MAGS starter packs? They could include templates for rooms, sprites, and a simple GUI.

Slasher

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #8 on: 16 Apr 2018, 14:11 »
Danvzare:

Time management is the key along with enthusiasum, weather it be MAGS or other.

With MAG, as you say time is shorter...

Myself: I generally 'See' a good idea or two where I know what I want to do within minutes...

Then write the basics down.... that's about 20 minutes...

So far all within a day...

Then make/gather most of the assets.... usually within a day or two.

Start piecing them together as per notes made..

This usually takes from 3 to 5 days...

Start scripting my ideas and adding the elements, which may change a little over time...

This may take me up to 12 days allowing for extras stuff to include.

Then another day or so doing the gui's and more scripting.

By the time i get to day 15 i am generally running tests and tweaking.

This could take up until the end of the month, depending.

I find a month more than enough time....if you only do one or two rooms i'd say within two weeks.

A month is generally long enough though I have found it a bit tight on some instances.

Not saying my games would win awards but they are complete and playable.

All the more reasons for people to get down and dirty and start creating.

Long live MAG (nod)

From VampireWombat:
Quote
What if there were some MAGS starter packs?
That is a possibility, it would certainly cut the time down..




« Last Edit: 16 Apr 2018, 14:14 by Slasher »

Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #9 on: 16 Apr 2018, 14:21 »
Permanently extend the deadline by another month/2 weeks? More time for people who have little, emphasis that the game doesn't have to be longer/better because of the extra time.

I'm pretty sure RotN assets are allowed to be used every month, perhaps we could create some more all in one graphics packs with different art styles that people can use. EDIT: (VampireWombat got there before me!) :-D
« Last Edit: 16 Apr 2018, 14:23 by Retro Wolf »

Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #10 on: 16 Apr 2018, 15:58 »
To be honest the one sided rules have kept me from competing in MAGS. According to the rules…

• You are not allowed to use any material created before the competition. Your game must be completely new! An exception is music and sound; you can use any audio that is freely available to the public.
• Any modules and templates featured in this board are also allowed.


So one can use any audio/music freely available on the web, plus any modules/templates here on the forum for coding, but is forced to create graphics from scratch. I can understand not being allowed to enter a game you’ve already been working on that happens to be close to the theme, but having to make all the character animations and backgrounds can be a bit daunting for a lot of people.

This also sounds like RotN assets normally aren’t allowed in MAGS. The only acceptation was the RotN anniversary contest that I entered last year. Were there other themes that caught my attention, which I would have liked to have joined in on? Definitely, if I had the option to use RotN assets or even those graphics available freely on sites like OpenGameArt.

As far as the time constraints, one month seems like plenty of time to draft a simple story plot, peppered with a few clever mini-games.

As far as promoting MAGS goes, mayhaps creating an AGS specific jam on GameJolt to get it out to the general public who may not have even heard of AGS yet?

cat

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #11 on: 16 Apr 2018, 16:23 »
For me, it is a time issue. At the moment, it can be even difficult to find time to write forum posts or do moderation stuff (the awards also required lots of time). I hope one day I can enter MAGS again, but I doubt this will be soon.

I agree with others about the assets. Maybe it would be a good idea to allow existing graphics and animations just like music and sound. I would not restrict it to RON but allow any material that is publicly available. This means you cannot use stuff you made before and had lying on your disk, so everyone has the same conditions for making a game.

Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #12 on: 16 Apr 2018, 17:55 »
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.

No shade to anyone from March's thread, I have definitely done this in the past, just wanted to share in case others have felt this way.

Regarding opening up graphic assets - saying one can't use things they've made in the past but something from an asset library is fine? If you're going to change the rule it shouldn't have exceptions. Personally I don't think this rule should change.

Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #13 on: 16 Apr 2018, 17:59 »
I usually read the mags-threads but never join for the simple reason that I can't make a game on my own. So for me, teaming up could help.
But in my view the initiative for projects, mags and non-mags, lies with the artists. Requests from scripters or designers for artists never lead anywhere that I can see. Requests from artists for scripting or music are instantly succesful however; that's my impression at least.

Another reason for fear of joining is indeed the fact that so many mags-projects don't get finished. I have spent some time on games that never got released. That is not really encouraging...
Maybe a longer period (2 months?) could help increasing the chance a project gets finished?

Slasher

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #14 on: 16 Apr 2018, 19:22 »
HandsFree

You could keep a game small (maybe 4 or less rooms) and concentrate on quality of puzzles and game play.

It would surely make hitting the deadline easier.

Cassiebsg

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #15 on: 16 Apr 2018, 22:26 »
I love MAGS and wish I had more free time to join more often, however it's hard to make a game in a month. Stuff happens and sometimes you end up having less time than you thought or you just can't get passed writers block, or you end up taking more than you can chew.

I do think the forbids of the use existing previous material might keep a lot of ppl out it. It's very time consuming to create new assets every single month. One of reason I choose to go 3D (besides that fact that I love it and don't have the patience to do proper pixel art) is cause I can re-use the characters and items... just for MAGS. (wtf)
For instance this month topic would have been a great month to alow to use art from your previous game. After all we're not really judging how artistic the game was, but how much fun we had playing each entry.

I would suggest to allow "previously created art and any & all publicly available assets"... even if only as a test for a month or two. To see if that would help some ppl that are better coders and game designers out of their shell and incentive more games. Or at least the "any publicly available asset"... With a clause that one had to give credit and link to the page(s) where the assets come from...

But that's just be. I like creating my own art as it's fun and keeps me busy... even if it results in unfinished games. I don't think I would like MAGS to be come a 2 month long thing though. Just the thought of "having" to dedicate that much to a game would be daunting (I mean a game I'm not long term committed to do, that is). I like the deadlines, as it gives me a finish line, focus and dedication to use as much free time possible.
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Stupot

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #16 on: 17 Apr 2018, 02:27 »
I'm definitley up for relaxing the rules on 'original content only' (although I do think it should be encouraged). Allowing RON assets is a good idea.

We can definitely have a look at some of the rules and perhaps do a poll on some policy changes. That said, I think a lot can be done in terms of raising awareness and motivation. I'd love to also get more people to just play the games and vote. That in turn should encourage people to make more games.

Thanks for all the ideas so far. I want to leave the discussion open a while. Lots of food for thought.


Mandle

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #17 on: 17 Apr 2018, 02:44 »
I think a lot can be done in terms of raising awareness and motivation. I'd love to also get more people to just play the games and vote. That in turn should encourage people to make more games.

Very true. It is sometimes a bit disheartening to put so much effort into a game and then see a final poll where only 10 or so people voted, and 2-3 of those are people who have entered games.

I currently don't visit or belong to any other game dev sites but perhaps people who do could spread the word a little outside the AGS community...

Also, perhaps the banner announcement at the top of the forums could be used briefly to remind people about MAGS voting at the beginning of each month, with a clickable link to the list of games?

tzachs

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #18 on: 17 Apr 2018, 05:29 »
I also think that any public domain asset should be allowed, though not sure how I feel about previously created assets (unless you make it public domain) -> and all assets should get the same treatment whether it's graphics, sound or code.

Now, for a little more radical idea, and I'm not even sure if I'm for it, but I thought it might be worth bringing it up for a discussion: what do people feel about allowing other game engines to participate?
It will bring more participants which equal more cool games, and might lure outsiders to join the community, and maybe try AGS one day.
On the downside, there's a sense of homey feeling here that's hard to describe, and it would be shame to see it disappear.

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Re: MAGS Discussion - How to get more participation
« Reply #19 on: 17 Apr 2018, 06:51 »
Yeah. I think it's time to allow usage of pre-existing graphics, especially since we have the RON library and Eric's photos ready for grab (I know a number of people already used his music tracks, but the images probably not as popular, which is a pity, if we let these lovingly captured photos get to waste. As long as you properly credit the author you may just alter the images in any way you want, such as tracing over them or using some filters.