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Subject: Contest Thought: Two part art/design contest rss

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Joe Mucchiello
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This idea has come up in the forum before but now I think is the time to actually do it. I want to see a two part contest. In the first part, artists and graphic designers would be invited to create a game board for an imaginary game including a page of icons and images that would go with the game board. After that contest was complete, another contest would begin where game designers would create a game using one of the board and icons.

The fun part about this is the artist ends up naming the game because obviously part of making a game board would be to put the game's name on that board. Similarly, if the artist puts a scoring track on the board, the game designer should make the game scale to that scoring range. Or if a "round track" is on the board, then the game should play in that number of "rounds".

Likewise, the artist must provide icon components to the game. So if the game designer adds cards to the game, the cards should use the icons from the page of icons to maintain the graphic feel of the game.

Two more important rules: Participation is open to all in one or both parts of the contest. But in the game design portion of the contest, the board you work with cannot be one that you created in the first part of the contest.

Second, anyone contributing to the first part of the contest must license the artwork with a free reuse license. This will probably need some discussion, I'm sure. But at a minimum they have to reusable by contestants in the second round of the contest so some form of free use license is necessary.

Other specifics, I'm thinking the boards should be about rectangular, about 200-400 square inches in area (that's like 1300-2600 square cm) with a minimum dimension of around 8 inches (20 cm). The page of icon assets should contain imagery found on the board in a cleanly rendered manner. Submitting vector graphics of the imagery is optional.

So do we enough artists who want to make a game board to run this contest? And do we have enough designers who will find working with an existing board a great challenge?
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Andrey
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While I'm not sure I'd manage to design a good game with someone's other board, it'd be a very interesting challenge, I'm in, game design-wise.
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Jake Staines
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If I had the time, I'd definitely take part in something like this. I've seen the same kind of idea work well elsewhere, and it helps limit the "games with better art get more attention" complaints.



That said, I would suggest a couple of things.

Firstly, I don't think it's practical for the artists to name the game on the board. If the same board gets used by more than one designer, then you end up with more than one game with the same name, and if both get added to the BGG database, with the same name and the same board, you can bet it will be confusing. (In one similar contest, one or two artists provided mix-n-match title-word art which designers could assemble their own game title from.)

Secondly, I would suggest a fairly liberal attitude towards the use of artwork/graphics produced in the first part; allow designers to do any amount of copy/paste, transformation and addition of simple (non-artistic) elements to the artwork. So a designer could add text, and potentially lines/grids to art produced in the first round, composite bits of it together, that kind of thing. Like this it's up to the artist whether they want to add things like grids, tracks, counters etc. to their boards, but the designer can choose to add such elements themselves as well.

I would also reconsider enforcing a large board, for a PnP games contest; to play the games people are going to have to print the boards out, and the bigger the board the more ink it consumes and the less likely people are to print out more than one or two. I guess having the same board potentially used for more than one entry helps, but doesn't defeat the problem entirely - you could well find that people print out one board and play all the games which use that board, and ignore the others 'cause it's too much printing.

Also consider things like:

- Whether you mean to enforce that games should have a board, or whether a similar area given over to tiles a la Carcassonne should be acceptable.
- Whether designers should be required to use only one artist's content (so the artist's submission should be everything needed to make a game) or whether designers can mix and match (meaning that the artist's submission can be some subset - just a board, just some counters, whatever). The upside for everything-for-one-game is that all games have a distinct graphic unity; the downside is that lots of entries look the same as each other. If designers are allowed to mix and match then you have the possibility of more imaginative combinations and unique-looking games.
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Pelle Nilsson
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creative commons share-alike is a good option for a license to use.
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Kevin B. Smith
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Personally I would rather the sequence go the other way around, where designers would come up with unthemed mechanics, and then the artists would apply a theme. Perhaps that's because I'm a graphically-challenged designer. I don't know how graphical folks would feel about going that way.

Going art-first, I'm afraid the result would feel like an abstract that happens to have pretty pictures. On the flip-side, I find it *relatively* easy to re-theme a game or add a theme to most abstract games, after the mechanics are solid.

I guess I should also disclose that I don't have a lot of free time these days, so probably wouldn't be able to enter the contest, regardless of which direction it goes. But where I can't imagine entering a graphics->mechanics contest, I could see possibly entering a mechanics->graphics contest.
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Brian Davis
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mechanics -> graphics does make it easier on the artist but it would feel too much like a commission at that point, or a contest targeting artists specifically... (here's your game now design me a board!)

The interesting thing about the graphics -> mechanics model is that it provides a challenge to both parties, and I think the results would be more interesting. The artist has to work out of pure creativity and establish some rudimentary mechanics (uses of scoring tracks, etc.) while the game designer is constrained to the art provided, whereas normally the graphic designer would be subordinate to the game designers mechanics.

I like the role-reversal aspect, and if I could find time, would probably participate.
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Manchuwok
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An interesting idea, but not one that will likely result in good games.
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Pelle Nilsson
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manchuwok wrote:
An interesting idea, but not one that will likely result in good games.


Welcome to the concept of design contests. Of course no one working under weird arbitrary restrictions is going to make the perfect game, but I find it makes it easier to come up with something at all, and the mechanics you end up with can be an inspiration for something more polished later.

Besides if care is taken when choosing the free license to use in this competition designers (graphics and/or game) involved in the game can take it further later, post-competition, working with less restrictions.
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Joe Mucchiello
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Bichatse wrote:
If I had the time, I'd definitely take part in something like this. I've seen the same kind of idea work well elsewhere, and it helps limit the "games with better art get more attention" complaints.

Exactly. I meant to mention this in my original post.

Quote:
Firstly, I don't think it's practical for the artists to name the game on the board. If the same board gets used by more than one designer, then you end up with more than one game with the same name, and if both get added to the BGG database, with the same name and the same board, you can bet it will be confusing. (In one similar contest, one or two artists provided mix-n-match title-word art which designers could assemble their own game title from.)

I can easily be swayed in your direction on this. I just thought the added constraint could be fun. Putting a name on the board adds dimension to the graphic design contest. When you look at the board and see the name do they work together?

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Secondly, I would suggest a fairly liberal attitude towards the use of artwork/graphics produced in the first part; allow designers to do any amount of copy/paste, transformation and addition of simple (non-artistic) elements to the artwork. So a designer could add text, and potentially lines/grids to art produced in the first round, composite bits of it together, that kind of thing.

Yes, the only restrictions I was going to impose on the game designer is they cannot remove any "major elements" from the board. And then leave it up to the judging to decide what is or isn't a violation.

Quote:
Like this it's up to the artist whether they want to add things like grids, tracks, counters etc. to their boards, but the designer can choose to add such elements themselves as well.

That is, again, the whole challenge for the artists. They can't scrimp on "stuff" or the board won't look right. But if they add too much detail, the game designers will not use their board.

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I would also reconsider enforcing a large board, for a PnP games contest;

Who says this is a PnP contest? It seems silly to ask artists to design something and then tell them they have to squeeze it onto a postcard, but still be functional.

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to play the games people are going to have to print the boards out, and the bigger the board the more ink it consumes and the less likely people are to print out more than one or two.

A good argument, maybe I'll lower the minimum size.

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- Whether you mean to enforce that games should have a board, or whether a similar area given over to tiles a la Carcassonne should be acceptable.

The board is key. I'm sick of card games in these contests. I might allow it though. But highly discourage it. The challenge of making tiles or cards without knowing their purpose is interesting, I suppose.

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- Whether designers should be required to use only one artist's content (so the artist's submission should be everything needed to make a game) or whether designers can mix and match

I'm not going to make this rule yet. When I see the submitted works by the artists, it might be more clear whether mixing and matching will or will not be a better idea.
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Jake Staines
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Caedmus wrote:
mechanics -> graphics does make it easier on the artist but it would feel too much like a commission at that point, or a contest targeting artists specifically... (here's your game now design me a board!)


Mm - the problem to me with the mechanics->graphics way around is that there's really no difference between that and a "re-theme/skin this game" contest by the time you get to the second half.

The graphics->mechanics way around, the first half is a unique challenge to the artist because they have to try and predict what game designers will need and can try and point the design in a certain direction by careful selection of elements to draw (and can be considered 'better' or 'worse' by how useful and usable their art is), while the second half is a unique challenge to the game designer because they have a different constraint on their creativity - instead of the usual relatively free reign on art so long as they fit a particular design constraint, they have free reign on the design so long as they fit a particular art constraint.

The other theoretical advantage of graphics->mechanics is that it results in a library of free, game-appropriate art that people can use for future prototypes. Maybe those future designers will eventually get an artist and a unique look for their game, but - as has been hashed out here recently - better pictures make people more likely to give your game a go in the short term.
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Joe Mucchiello
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peakhope wrote:
Personally I would rather the sequence go the other way around, where designers would come up with unthemed mechanics, and then the artists would apply a theme. Perhaps that's because I'm a graphically-challenged designer. I don't know how graphical folks would feel about going that way.

Well of course that would be easier on everyone involved. Who wants easy?

Quote:
Going art-first, I'm afraid the result would feel like an abstract that happens to have pretty pictures.

I'm hoping you are dead wrong here. I think we sometimes underestimate what artists do and can bring to design. I'm a mechanics first person like yourself. But I want to see the viability of the other side.

Quote:
I guess I should also disclose that I don't have a lot of free time these days, so probably wouldn't be able to enter the contest, regardless of which direction it goes. But where I can't imagine entering a graphics->mechanics contest, I could see possibly entering a mechanics->graphics contest.

Time is everyone's enemy. But really, people do this all the time. "Take a Monopoly set and create a new game out of the components without adding any new components." These kinds of art first contests have already been done. The difference here is, instead of Monopoly, we are starting with an artist's vision of the pre-existing game.
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Joe Mucchiello
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Bichatse wrote:
Caedmus wrote:
mechanics -> graphics does make it easier on the artist but it would feel too much like a commission at that point, or a contest targeting artists specifically... (here's your game now design me a board!)


Mm - the problem to me with the mechanics->graphics way around is that there's really no difference between that and a "re-theme/skin this game" contest by the time you get to the second half.

Precisely. This contest provides a real challenge for the artists and graphic designers in our little corner of the web. Their constraints are only the size of the board and the required component page.

Oh, that reminds me. I forgot to mention that the number of boards is limited to 3-4, not 1. So if someone wants to make a main board with a "player mat" and perhaps a 3rd side board, that's perfectly legal as well.
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Joe Mucchiello
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pelni wrote:
Besides if care is taken when choosing the free license to use in this competition designers (graphics and/or game) involved in the game can take it further later, post-competition, working with less restrictions.

Yes, I actually think CC-BY-NC and CC-BY-SA-NC are the only reasonable CC licenses for this. The artist can always relicense their artwork if the artist and designer team up to go commercial with the game later. As long as the artist is involved, the initial license is unimportant. But if an artist doesn't intend to stay involved in the game design aspect, I hope they will choose one of the more relaxed licenses (CC-BY or CC-BY-SA).
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Jake Staines
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jmucchiello wrote:

Who says this is a PnP contest? It seems silly to ask artists to design something and then tell them they have to squeeze it onto a postcard, but still be functional.


Oh, sure, I'm not suggesting that you should enforce a maximum size instead of a minimum one - just that the sizes you were talking about were bigger than two sheets of fully-printed A4 as a minimum, and for full-colour printing that's already pushing my comfort zone for trying random things out!


jmucchiello wrote:

The challenge of making tiles or cards without knowing their purpose is interesting, I suppose.


I can understand wanting to include a board of some kind - but personally, it seems that allowing things like reconfigurable/modular boards still keeps away from card games, and the difference between that and tiles is really just a case of drawing a line somewhere...
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Nate K
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So would you want to moderate this contest, Joe? Also, when would this contest likely start/end?
 
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Joe Mucchiello
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kurthl33t wrote:
So would you want to moderate this contest, Joe? Also, when would this contest likely start/end?

Well, of course. I don't have a large stockpile of GG but can spare 25 for each part of the contest. I would treat each half of the contest as separate contests so folks can tip GG for either or both contests.

As for start/end, I expect after the current microgames contest for the art contest. Then perhaps let someone in for a contest then hold the game design half.
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Pelle Nilsson
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jmucchiello wrote:
pelni wrote:
Besides if care is taken when choosing the free license to use in this competition designers (graphics and/or game) involved in the game can take it further later, post-competition, working with less restrictions.

Yes, I actually think CC-BY-NC and CC-BY-SA-NC are the only reasonable CC licenses for this. The artist can always relicense their artwork if the artist and designer team up to go commercial with the game later. As long as the artist is involved, the initial license is unimportant. But if an artist doesn't intend to stay involved in the game design aspect, I hope they will choose one of the more relaxed licenses (CC-BY or CC-BY-SA).


In general I think there are almost never a good reason to use any of the NC licenses (and statistics from creative commons recently showed that BY-SA is the most popular these days). Long story short, SA provides protection from bad commercial use, while giving nice (viral) benefits, plus non-commercial is very fuzzy anyway, exactly what uses are commercial or not.

For the purpose of this competition I guess it is not all that important. Just let the graphics designer pick one of a few.
 
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Joe Mucchiello
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NC would impede slightly someone from lifting the game and "stealing" it. The artist can always relicense the content later.

SA might make it harder to get a deal with publisher since they can never own the game. The SA version will always be available for others to use as they wish.

But I do not intend to impose any specific license on the artists as long as the license chosen is sufficient to allow the second half of the contest to run completely above board.
 
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Nick Hayes
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I am totally behind this concept.

It should definitely be art first, then game design. You will be surprised at what images will inspire a game's design.

And Joe, I will help out with the pot. I have a good amount of GG collecting dust waiting for a contest like this.
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Joe McDaid
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As someone who's done/is doing, both design and graphics, I can see how this can work but I'm not to sure on the making a board. If a graphic guy makes a board, it usually needs some kind of game idea to already go with it. I think the best approach would be to get artists to offer up elements of design, then let designers take thoes and make a game out of them, including how to layout a board should they need one.

For example I could offer all my Windfall Resources, Names, and create three new types, then create some tiles of say crates or planets and see what someone does to peice them all together.
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Val Cassotta
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Sounds really interesting to me - I'd be game
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Timothy
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Jice wrote:
If a graphic guy makes a board, it usually needs some kind of game idea to already go with it.


Not necessarily. It's like any challenge except that the artists are the ones deciding the a portion of the components.

If a graphic designer has an idea boiling in the back of their head for a score track that they think would be really cool that wouldn't decide the game for the game designer, just mechanics. Same with a hex board or cards or whatnot. While many people might decide to use the board for a war game, hexes don't hafta be for just that and if I've got some great ideas for icons, it's up to the game designer to interpret them in his/her own way.

Maybe I say this because I never come up with mechanics before theme. It's always the other way around.

But yeah, I would love to try my hand at this. Although I make no promises as to the quality of the artwork if I try my hand at that.
 
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Nate K
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My question is: How many graphic designers/artists will participate? I rub elbows with plenty of designers on these forums, but I don't know how many artists and graphic designers keep watch of the game design/contest forums.
 
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Val Cassotta
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The link to this thread is also posted in the artist forum

Oddly enough, that is where I saw it first (I say oddly, because I seldom frequent that forum)
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Nate K
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JustinKase wrote:
The link to this thread is also posted in the artist forum

Oddly enough, that is where I saw it first (I say oddly, because I seldom frequent that forum)


Oh, excellent.
 
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