2017-09-13:

GSGC 2017: Results

compo
The results for Gynvael's Summer GameDev Challenge are in! You can find them below with an additional commentary for each game and category.

TL;DR: The results!
Games From Scratch category
1. Space Logic Adventure (by Luke)
2. Untitled RTS (by mactec)
3. Space (by Seba)
HM. The Fate of IsoGuy (by Piotr Krupa)

Games Created Using a Game Engine category
1. SpaceShooter (by GjM & mioot)

Game sources and binaries: click to download (138 MB)
(you can find videos of all the games in my previous post)

Starting with the Games From Scratch category, allow me to say that the level of submitted* games exceeded my expectations. I had real problems selecting the best one and had to think hard about the criteria I would use - I settled for a mix that included (but wasn't limited to) "what game was fully finished", "what game I would like to play more of" and "what game I had most fun playing". In the end there can be only one winner so a decision had to be made, but believe me when I say that the choice was tough to make.

* There were also some unsubmitted ones btw, e.g. this one.

I'll note at this point that several of submissions had problems with the 2+1 UI color rule (i.e. more colors were used in the UI at times). In a few cases I asked the authors to correct the games, but in the end I decided that I'll just ignore it and look at the UI as if it was limited to the aforementioned 2+1 colors. I was also careful not to give additional figurative points for better looking UI if the points would originate from using more colors than it was allowed. Therefore even if you see more colors in the UI in one of the games - don't worry, I did notice that and it had not influenced the results in any way.

The second thing I would like to note is that, since there was only one submission to the second category, I decided to slightly modify the third place reward (+25 USD, total of 75 USD in form of a giftcard) and add a reward to Honorary Mentions (50 USD gift card).

Alright. Let's go through the games in this category one by one, starting with the winner!

Winner: Space Logic Adventure by Luke

Reward: 150 USD Amazon Giftcard

What I really like about Space Logic Adventure by Luke is that it was basically a complete and almost ready to ship game. Be it fun and challenging gameplay, level system with old-school style codes to jump to a later stage, music and sound effects (these things tend to be missing in compo/hackathon games) or a movie-like scrolling credit scene - it was all there.

What helped me make my decision to award this game the first place was that it was well balanced in terms of gameplay. It was hard enough so that I had to replay almost every level several times, dynamic enough so that retrying didn't take too much time, and simple enough so that you eventually always got through.

The author also put the 2+1 color UI rule to good use with a minimalistic but elegant interface - sometimes less is more.

The only thing missing was more levels.

Runner-up: Untitled RTS by mactec

Reward: 100 USD Amazon Giftcard

The RTS game by mactec was pretty fun and well made. I liked that the UI was a more refined with verbose messaging all around. I enjoyed the little details like tooltips when hovering over random game objects. And I did like the map being pretty spacious. I also appreciated someone trying to actually write an RTS game - there are usually a lot of small edge cases that you have to take care of in order for it to be playable at all and mactec handled this well.

There were basically two reasons why this game is the runner-up and not the winner.

First, the gameplay requires more balancing work. I found it too slow and, depending on a throw of a coin, either too easy (if you don't find aliens in the first few minutes) or too hard (if you find a lot of aliens in the first few minutes and had to micro your astronauts like crazy). The mission could have been expanded to include more intermediary goals too, especially that it was the sole mission in the game.

Secondly - a minor point but still one I have to make - the UI could use a retouch from the aesthetics point of view. Let's just say that dark blue, gray and black wouldn't exactly be my first palette choice, even though they are readable enough. I assure you that I realize that a programmer isn't always a design artist, but then again there are a lot of web services offering free color palette generation, either from scratch or basing on a supplied image (just google for "palette generator").

Given the above the RTS seems to be halfway between a techdemo and a finished hackathon game. Still that's enough for it to end up on the second place!

Third Place: Space by Seba

Reward: 75 USD Amazon Giftcard

Space by Seba is a well made game all around. It has great aesthetics, sound and music fits the game well, and I did enjoy the dynamic gameplay a lot.

The main reason Space is on the third place and not higher is that the gameplay feels it is missing something that would make it more complex and a bit harder / more challenging. An example might be enemy space ships shooting back at you. Or the asteroids being harder to destroy and forming a predefined pattern forcing the player to choose their flight path carefully. Or anything else that would take the game beyond the "shoot the rocks fast" boundary.

All in all I did enjoy Space a lot and I'm happy to present it with the bronze medal.

Honorable Mention: The Fate of IsoGuy by Piotr Krupa

Reward: 50 USD Amazon Giftcard

The Fate of IsoGuy by Piotr Krupa gets an Honorable Mention for its multi-screen diverse explorable map with a fascinating old-school design that basically screams "I am an 8-bit computer game with nicer graphics!".

The reason The Fate of IsoGuy didn't end up on one of the top places is that it's lacking sound effects and music. While this is usually acceptable on 8h-48h competitions, I couldn't overlook it on a month-long gamedev compo.

Remaining games in random order

I'll also include a 1-2 sentence comment for each of the games that did not make it. Please note that the games are in random order.

Wolf and Sheep by dontru is a well made board game adaptation complete with AI and hot-seat multiplayer. It was the first game I've looked at and I immediately thought to myself "woah, the level of the submissions is amazing!". It was missing sound, music, and perhaps movement animation, but also I'm not sure if adding these things would be enough to get it in the top three - a simple board game like Fox and Hounds might just not be enough when compared with dynamic more common computer games (unless you go full Archon).

Space Ride by michael2001 had a great concept (who doesn't love Raptor/Tyrian), but the game required some more love to include e.g. enemies, be more dynamic, and fully finished and tested. With better execution this idea could go really far.

SpaceMiners by emis2000 was the second RTS contender. The idea was pretty fun (flying harvesters - why not!), but the game looked unfinished - it was missing sound effects, music, and the "player versus the timer" concept looked quickly stitched together due to lack of time for finishing a proper RTS mission. Given some more work this could turn up to be a pretty fun game!

Desert Aircraft Shooter by Marcin648 was technically amazing! Great aesthetics, dynamic gameplay, well executed isometric view of the map - a worthy contender for the top places. It was just missing this small "something" to make the gameplay be more enjoyable - e.g. various different weapon types or huge explosions sending out shockwaves throughout the map - something to make you want to play again, and again, and again. A great entry nonetheless!

It's Super Cool by pr0gramista is going to be a fun party game, I'm sure of it! The gameplay is fun, the arena looks incredible, and it has a good balance of toughness. On the other hand making a multiplayer-only game for a competition is always risky, as you sacrifice the single player and have to work really hard to make the server-side stable for multiple testers during the judging phase - and we did run into issues here when testing (worked well for 2 players though). I think that the game would also benefit from making it a little more dynamic (e.g. the player basically throwing themselves at the opponent when trying to tackle them, or moving slightly faster with some inertia), and well also moving the setup UI from the console into the game screen itself. That said, I did enjoy this game a lot and it missed the top places only by a hair!

Moving onto the Games Created Using a Game Engine category ...

Winner: SpaceShooter by GjM & mioot

Reward: 150 USD Amazon Giftcard

SpaceShooter by GjM & mioot was the only entry in this category - it is an isometric shooter made using the Unity engine. There are several levels filled with spikes, shooting enemies and obstacles that try to block you from reaching the portal to the next level - all in all a pretty classic and fun idea.

Now let's get to the elephant out of the room - if there would only be only one common category SpaceShooter would probably not have made it to the top three. Unfortunately the game does have a multitude of problems all around and requires more time and love to make it reach its full potential. But in the end we do have two categories and sometimes just submitting a game is enough to win a competition :)

Summary

I think this was the first time I've organized a month-long gamedev compo and I'm very happy with the results and the overall high quality of the games, therefore I would like to thank all participants for taking part and again congratulate the winners.

I'll probably make another longer-term (two weeks? a month?) compo in the winter season (e.g. Gynvael's Winter GameDev Challenge) with a yet again different set of rules.

I'm still thinking what to do with the 'Games Created Using a Game Engine' category given its relatively low popularity in this contest. There are three options I'm considering:

• Keep it as is (well, one competition doesn't make a meaningful statistic). In such case I would also probably add a rule that would allow me to merge the categories in case there is less than N games (e.g. 3) submitted to either.
• Merge the categories, i.e. still allow participants to use game engines, but rate the games together.
• Revert to banning the game engines altogether as I've always done until this point.

I'm also interested in your opinion in this matter - please let me know what you think in the comments down below.

Of course the whole discussion is moot if the rules for the next competition include e.g. "total game size must be below 4 kilobytes", but it's still worth chatting about it for the sake of future challenges.

That's about it! Good Game :)

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