Author Topic: IGF Finalists are in (no AI War)  (Read 8123 times)

Offline x4000

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IGF Finalists are in (no AI War)
« on: January 04, 2010, 10:34:13 AM »
From Rock, Paper, Shotgun: Indieyeahosity: IGF 2010 Finalists Announced

In the comments, an interesting minor discussion on AI War, and how (to quote KG) "it’s not a very – er – IGF game." This is an interesting point, which I have to agree with in the main.  IGF winners generally tend to be very short and have a clear and immediate hook.  They might be hardcore-ish or casual-ish, but they're the sort of thing you could immediately pick up and play while walking around a convention hall.  Can you imagine trying to pick up and play AI War at a convention hall, let alone really learn what makes it unique?

The judging, from what I can tell, is done on pretty much the same sort of system: a large panel of judges gets a large selection of games each to review, and they play each one for as long as they can to get their impressions.  I had an email from one judge on the very last day of judging looking for a link to AI War, since it had temporarily been messed up.  This is not meant to be a slight on that judge in any way (everyone has other things going on in their lives), but I think it is indicative of the mindset of the judging in general.  If you can't pick it up and figure out whether a game is worthy in a spare hour or two, it's probably not worthy.

To be absolutely fair, that's typically more time than I'll give a demo of a game -- not that I'm a reviewer, mind.  When I look at some other game that I'm considering buying, I spend however long it takes for it to convince me that I don't like it, and then uninstall it.  Or, if I keep right on liking it, I'll most likely buy it (money permitting).  Thankfully the AI War tutorials alone have captured a lot of players' attention and have converted them into AI War customers, but by and large these are people with an affinity for the genre.  Strategy games are a uniquely niche genre in that they require a level of meta-knowledge about the game and the genre as a whole to enjoy; there are millions of strategy gamers out there, but to convert someone from outside the strategy genre is a real challenge for an hour or two of exposure.  Imagine trying to teach Chess to someone in an hour, and then having them enjoy it on any meaningful level.  When I was a little kid -- 7 or 8, maybe -- my dad tried to teach me Chess, but I concluded that it was pretty much just like Checkers but less interesting and more convoluted.  I played Chess a bit off and on through my youth, but didn't really get hooked on it until high school, when I later joined the Chess club.

Anyway -- so, to say that AI War is not IGF-ish is pretty obvious to me.  It doesn't have the immediacy that you need for a convention center or for everyone in the audience to be nodding along if it wins anything.  It's also not so stunningly beautiful to behold that it will draw non-genre fans; I think that the mere fact that it is in space is probably a turnoff to some, despite the fact that it is a huge attractor for others.  Taste varies, right?

The reasons why I entered AI War in the competition at all are twofold: first, I wanted to see how it would do, despite my misgivings about its fit for the contest.  Second, given the revolutionary AI, I figured it had a shot in the Technical Excellence category.  Of course, something so abstract as AI quality is really hard to judge if you aren't already good at the game the AI is in, as well as comparable games with AI opponents (so that you have some referent point), so once again it is not hard to see why this would be passed over.  The judges would have to have had just the right sort of prior experience in order to choose AI War, and while that was possible it is unlikely given the composition and focus of the judging panel.

This doesn't make me bitter or particularly upset: it was a longshot in the first place, as far as I was concerned, and the fact that this game wasn't a fit for IGF doesn't mean I won't enter anything else in the future.  Our two upcoming games for 2010, the puzzler and A Valley Without Wind, are both still quite deep in their gameplay, but are also vastly more immediately accessible.  Either one of those is much more of an IGF-ish game than AI War, even though they won't be so short as many indie games (bite-sized content in games with brilliant mechanics really bugs me, but I digress).  Anyway, as they say, there's always next year.  In the meantime, AI War is doing well enough commercially to support fulltime myself, our composer/sound designer, and our artist.  That's my first and only goal outside of making excellent games, really.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2010, 10:53:16 AM by x4000 »
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Offline Echo35

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Re: IGF Finalists are in (no AI War)
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2010, 11:48:12 AM »
Yeah, I saw that this morning on Twitter. Not even an award for technical excellence? That sucks. Though I do agree with the discussion. Its quite a deep and multi-layered game. Much more so than most indie games, which tend to be simpler and more straight forward.

Offline Spikey00

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Re: IGF Finalists are in (no AI War)
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2010, 12:12:35 PM »
Lame.  AI War is great the way it is--and IMO short games will always be overshadowed by the lengthy.
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Offline Lancefighter

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Re: IGF Finalists are in (no AI War)
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2010, 12:17:17 PM »
I agree - Ai war begins to shine after you get a half dozen hours into the campaign and realize you missed your typical bedtime by 4 hours... and still havent had dinner yet  ;D
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Offline x4000

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Re: IGF Finalists are in (no AI War)
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2010, 12:19:30 PM »
It's all about audience, I guess.  It's a shame there aren't any conventions of that sort for strategy games and gamers in general; or if there are, I don't know of them.
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Offline Spikey00

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Re: IGF Finalists are in (no AI War)
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2010, 12:32:15 PM »
Audience... bah, screw the audience!  =\
rofl

--

Most I see for RTS competitions are via game-specific online ladder.
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Offline spelk

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Re: IGF Finalists are in (no AI War)
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2010, 04:45:30 PM »
It does seem to favour more casual indie titles, more accessible and readily playable ones, which tends to exclude any depth in strategy, if any strategy titles get a look in at all. Most "casual" indie strategy tends to lean towards Tower Defense, or Advance Wars clones really, which is a shame.

However, I feel, the IGF as it is, is doing a great disservice to the term Indie, because the vast majority of innovation in Strategy is centered around independant developers!

Offline x4000

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Re: IGF Finalists are in (no AI War)
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2010, 04:53:11 PM »
I suppose that if the IGF were to be relevant to strategy and other niche genres beyond the "indie as a genre" concept, they would need to have a ton more categories as in Academy Awards or Golden Globes or what have you.  There you can have best actor in comedy and drama separately, and they get rated on totally different scales, by people knowledgeable on each.  Right now it's like IGF is just rating comedies and nothing else, anything larger or more serious is unlikely to do too well.

Having judges with more of a variety of backgrounds, who perhaps specialize in certain genres for rating, would also be good.  Right now it's set up to be a self-fulfilling cycle of always rewarding certain types of games only.  Again, some of Arcen's upcoming titles are designed in such a way that they might even do pretty well in that sort of judging that they currently have... but that still wouldn't make it a completely-relevant win even if we did win with one of those titles.

But, it's not my contest or my festival, so so it goes.  I think they're designed specifically to award and recognize certain types of games, and that's well and fine if that's what they want to do.  It just makes them a lot more of a niche "indie as a genre" award, rather than "any independently-produced game" award.  Seems like there ought to be room for both in the same contest, but I recognize they have their own scope, budget, and production constraints to deal with, too.  Maybe someday, if the indie market keeps growing as it has been recently!
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Offline eRe4s3r

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Re: IGF Finalists are in (no AI War)
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2010, 05:44:28 PM »
The IGF is irrelevant ever since Braid won the awards, 2 years before it was released.  ;)

But then again, i am just a grumpy hardcore gamer,  ;D .. That AI War isn't ranked is the best compliment possible ;)

Also, the only thing IGF Awards care about are Smups and Platformers  ::)
« Last Edit: January 04, 2010, 05:55:06 PM by eRe4s3r »
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Offline Strider

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Re: IGF Finalists are in (no AI War)
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2010, 08:40:21 PM »
For the most part, I've lost my trust in 'reviewers'...not all, of course, but the majority of them.  Back before the internet was so easily accessible (showing my age here :) I always picked up the magazine Computer Gaming World.  I found that when I got a game that had been reviewed by them, that I could agree with it for more than 90% of the time.  Then something "happened" to them...they began to give reviews that I found I could not agree with most of the time, either the positive or negative ratings they gave out.  I've looked at some of the web sites on game reviews, and from either the demo available or just the reviewers remarks, they are usually way off the mark for my perception.  For a lot of them, I get the impression that if the game can't be played without a manual, and figured out within 10 minutes, and the graphics aren't exceptional, then there's a flaw with it.  I can understand this type of attitude for games designed for console type playing, but something designed to be played on a PC, I "expect" to need a manual and need to think about what I'm doing.  Tutorials are nice, and almost always have a positive impact on the such games like AI War.
I can't remember the last 'mainstream' game that I bought...it's been years.  But, I have a number of 'independent' games that I've purchased.  I think there's a lot of gamers/reviewers who don't really have a concept of quality over marketing schemes. 
But then there's the attitude of the majority of youngsters "now-a-days".  I have four grand-kids and I work at a private Jr. college.  I mean no disrespect, this is just my perception of being around so many.  They have very short attention spans.  I'm thinking that has a lot to do with information-overload.  They're being raised with the internet being a common household and school item.  They "expect" to be online and being able to check email, social sites, and the latest news on celebraties (and such), while doing this at the same time they are working and studying.  I don't think they have all that much choice, but to adapt to doing this.  And until / if they can settle in to adjusting on being able to process all the info that is available to them, then what some of us consider quality programming (whether games or other software) will remain a niche.
But as long as we have sites like Arcen and quite a few others, then we'll be able to satisfy our own needs :)

Offline Shardz

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Re: IGF Finalists are in (no AI War)
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2010, 09:34:53 PM »
AI War was exactly what I was looking for when I was looking for it; something that required some gray matter that I could really get into, but wouldn't scare me off with 2 billion buttons on the UI linking to useless graphs and stats. It took me about 10 minutes to really like what I saw and about 1 hour to realize I found what I was looking for. I don't want 6 gigs worth of game data on my drive, I don't want a quad core only game requiring a new video card, I certainly don't need 45 minutes of blue screened motion captured video depicting some sort of fictitious shenanigans with grade B actors. My search had ended and there was much rejoicing. It's just too bad that some don't know what they want in the first place. I bet half those judges go home and get hooked on AI War immediately after the contest. :)

Offline Baleur

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Re: IGF Finalists are in (no AI War)
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2010, 09:39:28 PM »
Wow most of those games (all) are utter shit lol.
I could count at least 5 independent games more deserving than those :P

Offline quickstix

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Re: IGF Finalists are in (no AI War)
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2010, 09:46:01 PM »
I haven't had a lot of respect for the IGF for a while, for a variety of different reasons. The fact that prominent indie sites like the Indiegames Blog and TIGSource have never even given AI War a look at has also irked me quite a lot. Indie has gone from 'the small guy doing it for themselves' to 'art games, five minute games and developers who think they are just it'

What's up with the technical excellence award as well? In my opinion, AI War has better techincal design than most mainstream games, let alone indie games. Pretty much sums up my argument.

« Last Edit: January 04, 2010, 09:49:25 PM by quickstix »

Offline x4000

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Re: IGF Finalists are in (no AI War)
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2010, 09:46:30 PM »
Wow most of those games (all) are utter shit lol.
I could count at least 5 independent games more deserving than those :P

Let's play nice.  There are plenty of anonymous youtube hecklers who stop by the trailer for AI War just to say the same.  I delete those comments, only leaving negative comments by people who have actually played the game and aren't just stopping by to lob a mild profanity and laugh.  It's literally almost the same wording you used in your first line, and it's something that frustrates me to no end when people do that to me -- I'd rather not have people doing the same to other indie developers on my forums.  

Regardless of whether or not you or I like a given game, if it was nominated for an award somebody did.  There are those CoD:MW fans who can't understand what anyone sees in AI War, from the other end of things.  Tastes really do vary, and despite the fact that I may not think much of certain specific games (which I won't name), there are other indie-genre games that I think quite highly of.

I don't mean to be a wrist slapper or anything, and I know you didn't mean anything malicious by it, but on the off chance one of those indie developers stops by here, I'd rather they not come to a thread begruding them their existence, which is super demoralizing for anyone.  My comments here are more to forestall the further territorial rumblings that are inevitable once something of this sort is said, rather than to comment on your comment specifically.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand... ;)
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Offline x4000

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Re: IGF Finalists are in (no AI War)
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2010, 09:51:37 PM »
I haven't had a lot of respect for the IGF for a while, for a variety of different reasons. The fact that prominent indie sites like the Indiegames Blog and the TIGSource have never even given AI War a look at has also irked me quite a lot. Indie has gone from 'the small guy doing it for himself' to 'art games, five minute games and developers who think they are just it'

What's up with the technical excellence award as well? In my opinion, AI War has better techincal design than most mainstream games, let alone indie games. Pretty much sums up my argument.

Yeah... there is a lot of territorialism, for sure.  If you look in the forums at Indie Gamer, for instance, you'll see I got quite the reception there a while back -- they basically ran me out of there, and called me "one step up from a viagra ad," and all wanted to comment on how the concept of this AI really didn't sound all that different, etc.  Talk about demoralizing.  That's another reason I'm careful never to trash talk other developers, indie or otherwise.  Even the legends like Miyamoto and Soren Johnson and so forth are real people, just people like you and me, but since they are public figures to a degree people think they can just say whatever and it won't matter.  They may not go trolling forums looking for comments about their stuff, but I'd wager a lot of game developers read more such posts than you think.

It's as much a problem with random anonymous internet hecklers as it is with haughty indie developers who think they are hot stuff and everyone else is crap.  I mean, AI War's review in the indie games mag was a great example of that -- there's a lot of bad blood around in general with the indie scene, which is something that mystifies me.  For my part, I just try to stay out of it, and if there's something I don't like that another developer has created, I largely don't comment on it publicly unless it's in the spirit of constructive criticism in a design discussion.  Others are... not so polite.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2010, 09:57:00 PM by x4000 »
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