There has been a lot said about improving handicaps. Now four more halfpence worth. I want to make it short, but I'm kind of thinking out loud here, so we'll see how that goes...
The handicap is up to individual rewardee. That's pretty cool. A person can use this to one's advantage (e.g. "I think 3D games get a major advantage over 2D games, and I can only make 2D games myself, thus I'll make the handicap that all graphics must be 2D"); to try to push people to improve (e.g. "I think too many people skip out on sound, maybe figuring sound's not very important, thus I'll make the handicap that you must include at least five different sounds"); to give everyone some ridiculous challenge (e.g. "Trains! Everyone needs a train! Traintraintrain choo-choo!"); etc. Truly, I believe the freedom of the rewardee to come up with any handicap wanted (within reason) is what's most important: It is
the person's prize after all -- and much like with the theme, no one's actually required
to follow it in order to enter the Jam.
Some handicaps lend themselves better than others to a "best use of" category? Perhaps... Let's really examine this. One color, insert a train, at least five sounds, etc. Who's really to say one's Boolean and another's not?
- "I made a game that only uses pictures so there'd be no text." "I made a game that speaks everything aloud so there'd be no text." "I made a game where every visual is presented by ASCII art so that all glyphs lose any textual meaning." Okay, two certainly met the handicap, and enough people believed the third met it well enough to win the "best use of" award. Boolean, true.
- Does the game have an "Achievement" each for beating the first and last levels? Boolean, true. Does the game have 100 "Achievements" ranging from simple completions to difficult side-tasks, from tangential exploration to nonsensical glitch-exploiting? Boolean, true. Does the game have zero "Achievements" because the designer hates the modern Achievement convention, believing it to be a limiting boon on the player's imagination and sense of accomplishment and self-esteem? Boolean, false.
No matter how creatively (or not) a game uses (or abuses) a handicap, it's still Boolean in the end, either true or false. It used it or didn't. "Best use of" category? Yep, it's up to the players/reviewers/voters to decide this. Alice
has said repeatedly that "at least five sounds" didn't lend itself well to deciding "best use of" -- and yet when she played one particular game, she found it the very obvious choice for that award. Okay then. If an entrant "scraped by" on the handicap and didn't ab/use it in some clever, notable way, then that entry doesn't receive the "best use of" award. Fortunately, whatever the handicap and whatever number the Jam, this particular bit of fun (handicapping) occurred because the Xth-placed winner selected something optional to handicap the designer's ability, and the designer went for it. ~shrug~ Yay, all around. $:^ J
Let's face it, the seeming favorite around here, "must include a train," didn't have to see any
thing creative. Everyone could've shoved a train in a background somewhere and moved on. Likewise, a recent handicap being complained about somewhat, "must include at least five different sounds," could've sparked something major. Everyone could've pumped multiple music tracks into each screen, incorporated voice acting with every selection and action, etc. Ha, you could've had someone attempt a ridiculous hack by making an entirely silent game with very specific onomatopoeia everywhere -- and maybe even have characters make mention of hearing this-or-that in the background. $:^ b
My opinion? I had been agreeing with others quite a bit concerning the desire to improve handicaps until I really tried to put my thoughts down on digital paper here. But no. I now believe it's actually a fine system exactly as it is. A person is given a prize to handicap the next Jam; that person can decide why one wants a handicap and therefore what kind of handicap to make (and certainly there's nothing limiting the person from getting suggestions/ideas online or offline, although asking on the GMC might not be the best idea); then, the actual results rely on each Jammer to either ignore it, squeak by with it, embrace it as fully as possible, hack it all up and down, etc.
It's true, some handicaps will affect more people than others -- "no violence" vs. "2D only" -- but whatever the rewardee wants. It's true, not every Jam will have a bunch of games in the running for the "Best Use of Handicap" -- but that's not necessary
anyway, right? $:^ J If no one even wins that award for a Jam, then hey, ~shrug~ whatever, right? If anything, that'd be a hilarious part of that specific Jam to look back on. $:^ b "Oh man, Jam 19, where someone said 'game must have a protagonist' and everybody said, 'wha-?!' and nobody got the 'Best Use of Handicap' award, ha ha ha, good times." Etc. $:^ }
I believe I'm done for now. I hope I've given you something to chew on. If you spit anything back out, I just ask you don't aim at anyone here, thanks. $;^ ]
(edit: one typo, one point of clarity)
Edited by ParodyKnaveBob, 15 June 2014 - 04:30 AM.
theUndiscovered ~ Brandon W. Horton ~ ParodyKnaveBob ~ $:^ J