"Compelling game Mechanics"
"Innovation in Art and Design
"Experimental Game Design"
"Multiplayer and Connected Gameplay"
Both last year and this year I've chosen "Multiplayer and Connected Gameplay" as my category. Described thusly:
The Multiplayer and Connected Gameplay category seeks games that promote a shared experience with multiple people at its core. This includes both online and local multiplayer games. Local games include traditional turn-based play by sharing a controller and simultaneous play by having multiple people play using the same controller or multiple controllers at once. We are looking for games that are enticing to bystanders, encouraging those not playing to be a part of the experience. This can include the audience guiding the individual(s) playing, aiding the player(s) by sharing information, cheering for a close match, and anything else that can make a spectator feel invested in the game even if they aren’t the ones directly playing it. Games designed with live streaming in mind that compliment game streaming culture are highly encouraged.
Examples of games:Towerfall, DayZ, Rocket League, Jackbox Party Pack
This is the Category for You If……you would like your game to be judged primarily by its multiplayer experience, both as a player and as a spectator.
And I should have learned. Because after you submit, you get some judges to play your game and provide personalized feedback, whether or not you're accepted into the festival (which is awesome). Last year, I noticed that the question prompts that the judges use for their feedback didn't apply very well to my game. What I didn't realize is that they were specific to my category. So this year, when I submitted my game and choose the same category and got back the same form with the same questions, I realized that my game just doesn't fit the "Multiplayer and Connected Gameplay" as it is judged. These were the questions the judges used to evaluate Flock of Dogs [my own responses if I were in a judge are in brackets below]:
1. Controls: Are the controls easy to pick up and understand?[Flock of Dogs has very many different control schemes, bc there seems to be a limitless number of ridiculous and wondrous things you can do in this game! Admittedly, the recent changes to whale piloting has been frustrating for some, but I hear the dev plans to change that ASAP. Also, many fine folk are not familiar with twin-stick shooters and that has a learning curve, but pays out in the end because of the sweet feeling of twin-stick action! So neither here nor there for 'easyness'.]
2. Competition: How well does this game bring out the competitive side of you when playing with others?[Flock of Dogs provides a much needed respite from the deluge of competitiveness in multiplayer games and especially local multiplayre games. There is no PvP, so no arena or rounds. There is the flock and the whale and they either fly or fall together. And where the few games that claim to provide a system for cooperation, you're often left still imbrued in underhanded competition for high score, or being the first to collect loot. Flock of Dogs outstandingly creates a sense of being part of something bigger than yourself, more important than your self. Like mopping a dirty whale. Or protecting the pups of the flock, while your brother and sister dog riders fend off flying monsters. Or something. So basically like anti-competitiveness.]
3. End Game: When someone wins the game, does it feel fairly awarded? Does the winner feel a sense of accomplishment beating others?[Can someone have the dev notify me know when someone gets to the end of Flock of Dogs, pls? I've literally played this game for hundreds of hours and I seldom get to the third level. From treehouses, to whalesmiths, to beast caves, to floating sky inns, there's so much to discover. And also I always feel like a winner, so I don't what it feels like to not feel like how I feel so...N/A.]
4. Audience Engagement: Does a bystander watching the game feel invested in the experience? Are they likely to provide advice during the game to a friend or root for a player or certain outcome?[Most bystanders don't know what the heck is going on tbh, oftentimes approaching the screen feeling compelled to utter their thoughts, "What is going on?" I've heard the dev mutter that they hate explaining to people 'what is going on' or answering 'what am I supposed to do' because they've created a new display of the fantastic in the form of a video game, which is supposed to be played and discovered. If the Flock of Dogs dev wanted to write a book, (well, I heard they want to write a book, too) then they'd have written a book. I might offer an extremely minimal critique, which some might even say is a plus, but while the bright colors are alluring, providing hope in a dismal, irony-saturdated, post 2016 world, the imagery is a little busy, difficult to determine what's important. The environmental art is unfinished and there is difficulty in distinguishing between ineratctable objects and cosmetic details. The relentless hue saturation is also fatiguing to the eye, but I heard the developer is struggling with restricting his palette while maintaining readability while having up to 8 players on screen together. I do not envy him or her. Also, the music, both the intro tune created by the dev's cousin and the song that ushers in the beginning of the adventure that was created by the dev's step brother, are lovely. Audiences cannot be pulled away.]
5. One More Turn: How likely are you to continue playing after the game has ended and a winner is declared?[Very, very likely.]
6. Streamer Appeal: Is this a game a Twitch audience may find enjoyable to watch and interact with?[Belies a misunderstanding of Twitch. In my experience, one watches (a) games one is into and/or (b) streamers that one finds charming. Actual Twitch integration seems gimmicky and doesn't really drive regular viewership, except for maybe that marbles game. Anyway, pretty sure I saw Lirik and LethalFrag wearing Flock of Dogs t-shirts on stream the other day. So yeah. Huge appeal.]
7. Final Comments/Suggestions for Developers (Open Ended): Please say a few final words to the developer about their game including suggestions moving forward with the game and if there were any technical difficulties starting or playing the game.[This game is a miracle. From one dev to another, my highest respects. I simply cannot wait until you finish this game. Believe in yourself and your beautiful, sensitive, heart.]
Welp, I won't pretend to understand how, but Flock of Dogs didn't receive a nomination for best "Multiplayer and Connected Gameplay" game.