|Clark Peterson Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge|
As I'm sure all of you are, I'm excited for you guys to see the final 4 submissions. They are all very creative and really good. I've really been impressed with the contestants this year. Everyone did a great job. In the end, I recommended two of the four for your final consideration, and I specifically recommended one of them to be the winner. But in the end the voting is up to you. I am certain you will like them and I am just as certain you will particularly enjoy James' brilliant commentary on the four submissions.
I wanted to take a second to say something that I think makes Paizo and Pathfinder great. I have long thought that it is the obligation of the publisher of D&D (and who is kidding who, I feel strongly that Pathfinder is both the moral and historical successor to D&D, but I don't want to start that debate) to teach people how to create great adventures. The old Dungeon magazine did that by example and Paizo does that now with the APs and modules. I don't know that adventure design has ever existed at a higher level than it does now under Paizo's watch. So take some time and really dig through James' comments, not only as comments on contestants, but also as thoughts of one of the pre-eminent designers/developers in the history of fantasy roleplaying. It is really a pleasure to see design in action and I hope the fans take the chance to learn about adventure design as a byproduct of this great contest.
So my hat (if I wore one) is off to the contestants this year and to Paizo for this amazing contest. And I can't wait to see what all of you think.
There is extra voting time this round to permit playtesting. Please, please, please do that.
When you get right down to it, you aren't going to get better feedback or critique than what you get from Sean, Wolf and me. We do (or in my case, did) this professionally. We can tell great stuff when we see it.
One thing we can't do (and didn't do) is playtest this stuff. Sometimes an encounter takes on a new dimension when it hits the table. So please play these and post your playtest reviews.
I just finished my final grades for the top 8. I have to say, some real good stuff.
I think you guys will be interested. THREE people picked the same monster and I bet you will be surprised. It actually proved to be an interesting lesson: A good designer doesn't outsmart himself or herself. Instead of waving your hands to show me you are doing something interesting and cool, just go ahead and do something interesting and cool and I will see it for what it is. I think a couple people outsmarted themselves this round. It's easy to do.
There is a lot to be learned about design from the submissions. I'm sure you all will enjoy reading them and learning from them.
This has been a good year of Superstar and this round doesn't disappoint. I found 3 really great submissions. Three that I felt didn't make the grade. Two were on the bubble for me and the one that got the nod I felt clearly was in the top group. I'll be interested to see how the voting shakes out.
Good luck to all the contestants.
I've said before that I couldn't win this contest so all of you have a lot to be proud of. Great work everyone and to all the voters, get out there and vote for your favorites.
I know, I know, I'm breaking all possible rules of etiquette. You aren't supposed to start threads about yourself. You aren't supposed to talk about yourself during Superstar because it's supposed to be about the contestants, yada yada yada. But today is my birthday and it's all about me! :) So if you have any love at all (and some of you won't) for a certain someone, bring it on!
Round 3 was hard. Real hard.
This is one heck of a contest.
There just aren't enough spots for all the good submission.
Sure, there were 4 or so that were clearly great and a couple that clearly weren't. Then there were a bunch on the bubble.
This was a really, really tight round.
I spent a ton of time (as did the other judges) on these 16. I read them, re-read them, thought about them, weighed them against each other, and finally came to conclusions about them. Giving out my final two recommendations was tough.
Good luck to everyone!
To all the community members--please vote this round. Your vote will be crucial as always, but particularly so in this close round.
Some thoughts on round 2.
While the project itself was somewhat limiting to a degree, I fully support Sean's reasoning for the task. Remember, the goal is not to give you, the readers, 32 fun things to read. It is to help Paizo winnow down the best freelancers.
And, to some degree, the second round has historically been one of the hardest to judge. So you really want the submissions to be very comparable to each other. It can't be, for example, "design a monster," because then the votes will slant to the higher CR cooler monster. So the limitation on this round really helped us from a judging perspective.
I also thought we got a tighter grouping of shots, so to speak.
For instance, I really thought there were about 5-6 really strong submissions (ones that I just loved), about 4-5 more very, very good ones, then about 6-8 more that were very good but all lumped together and difficult to distinguish from each other, then the rest were all good--just not quite as good in my view as the rest.
I can say this without reservation: There were NO BAD submissions this round.
In the entire time of Superstar that I've been a judge (all but one year) I don't think I could have said that before. Even the ones at the bottom of my list of personal rankings this year were still pretty darn good, just not as good as the others. And, unfortunately, only 16 get to advance.
So no matter what place you came in, no one needs to hang their head this round this year. This was a well-fought round with really good submissions all around.
We've been having some discussion in the super secret judges chambers. I proposed I be able to post the top 89 items so that those interested can see what items were voted into the top 89 by you the voters. I thought this was important for a couple reasons: first, you know the top 32, but not the alts and not the balance of the 89. Therefore it is hard to determine where any items in your own personal top 32 list might have fallen by voter rank. Second, I think it enhances our discussion on how the judges chose what we chose and why by showing you the other items we chose between. Seeing only the top 32 and not the others that were available to us makes that conversation only half informed.
Part of the judges chambers discussion was how to provide the items without revealing ranking because that isn't something we want to do yet at this part of the contest. So it was decided that an alphabetical list of the top 89 was best.
Also, one of the concerns is that posting this list would lead to criticism of the judges, why we chose one over another. But the judges all felt we had reasons for our choices and that it would actually aid not hinder the discussion and that this community is a good supportive community. We also felt that as the critique my item threads were started that one by one we would mention if an item was top 89 so if the info was going to get out, why not just let it out.
So, without further ado, here is your top 89 as you voted them, in alphabetical order (not by rank):
Congrats to those who made the cut. Great work!
To those who didn't, please keep in mind there were lots of good items this year.
I wanted to make this gentle request: let today be for the winners. Congratulate them. Show them and everyone else how great and supportive this community is.
Tomorrow can be for the critique my item thread.
I know there can be some hurt feelings and tender egos at this time, there is every year. That is to be expected. This community is passionate and the level of involvement is very high and people get very invested in working hard and improving. Please understand not making the cut doesnt mean we don't care. We do. And if you look at those who made it, a good number of them worked year after year to improve and get in, which proves that kind of effort pays off. I would be surprised if there weren't some bruised egos today.
But please keep this in mind. These boards are known for their amazing supportive spirit. Plus, this is a chance to support the winners with class and learn from their items.
Every year there is one guy (or gal) who kind of flames out rather spectacularly in a flurry of thread rants, denials, personal attacks on judges, etc. It's never pretty. Don't be that guy (or gal) this year.
Let today be for the winners. Tomorrow can be for dissecting and commenting on the items that didn't make it.
Great work everyone and lets keep the amazing spirit of these boards as strong as their epic reputation says they are.
So here's to those who made the cut, and here is to those who strived valiantly against them!
Yours in the spirit of friendship and cooperation,
This year was great for round 1.
I thought the voting aspect worked really, really well. The top 89 items broke naturally at a point when votes for were not exceeded by votes against. So that naturally gave us a top 89.
Then within the top 89, we had shocking agreement on about 28 of the top items. I've never seen that before. Meaning, all three judges agreed on about 28 of the items that made the top 32. Usually at best you have 10 items that we all agree are good and then you have items you want to champion and we golden ticket the rest. Not this year. This level of agreement by the judges is unprecedented and is a really good thing. Heck, even with the alt there were ones we liked and even those judges who said they weren't top 32 items didnt have strong negative reactions to them.
In a way, these items naturally sorted themselves really well this year--first, by your voting and then second by our agreement.
That means you have the vast majority of these items (through about 28) that all three judges agree are top 32 items. That is an amazing level of quality from top to bottom.
In part, it is a credit to this community. You will see some familiar names who are motiviated and dedicated to improve.
So if you didn't make it, please take heart and keep at it like many of the names you will see who hadnt made it before but kept learning and growing. It is clear to me you can teach yourself how to do this through being a part of this process--the proof is in the pudding, look at the names of the people who made top 32.
If you are one of the marathon voters who didnt make it in, keep up the good work and let us know how we can help.
Amazing quality, not just with the starting 5, but all the way to the end of the bench. Now that is scary.
This is going to be a KILLER year of Superstar, I can feel it.
Seriously, we didn't have to use the golden ticket process. The three of us agreed on essentially all but the final 4 items of the top 32. Except for those last four slots, not even a SINGLE item in the top 32 had a NO vote from any of the three judges. That has never happened before. Normally we have a solid 16 or so we all agree on and then the rest one of us likes but the other doesnt, etc., so we use a golden ticket method. Not this year. That is how much consensus there was by the judges, which also means that is how good the items were.
We judges are doing some final housekeeping but I think the sorting is all but finished. Just need one final sign off. Then the choices are off to the web guys to prepare the reveal tomorrow. (Good judges, like good freelancers, get their work done early and give the next person in the production chain plenty of time to get their job done).
I just wanted to take the time to congratulate everyone and wish everyone good luck!
I thought the submissions were very good this year (despite the rockiest start I can remember). And then the community involvement in voting was really amazing.
So if you submitted, congrats and good luck!
If you didn't submit but you voted, then thank you for your invaluable help!
If you didn't submit or vote but were part of the discussion, thank you!
If you did two or more of the above, then you have my profound thanks!
You know, this is exciting for us, too. We judge the items but they are anonymous. It is exciting for us to see who it is who made the cut. So we are waiting just like all of you.
Best of luck! This should be a really good contest this year.
Well, I'm almost done with my sorting. The judges should have our sorting done individually tonight then tomorrow we will use our rankings to select the top 32.
I just want to say, I think the community did a great job of sorting the good from the bad. Your votes clearly track, in my view, which ones are good and which ones are not.
Without getting in to the math and all that (since I dont know what Paizo intends to release and that is not my call), there are about 90 items that you folks sorted into the Keep pile, so to speak, being items that clearly had more wins than losses.
I have reviewed the items outside that pile (from 90-200) and I didnt find even one in there I would champion for top 32. There are some good items, yes, but none that make me want to bump out one of the higher ones.
So as a result, here is what I am doing. I am limiting my selection to the top vote getters (the top 90). I cant speak for Sean or Wolfgang but my guess is they feel the same.
So that means this year we are REALLY respecting the community input on our selection. Not only did you do a great job sorting items, but I (and likely we) am going to respect your rankings too and limit my choices from within that top 90.
Now, that said, I am not going to confine myself to the specific order based on votes. In fact, there are some items that we have all passed on for various reasons that are in that top 90 of items.
In the end, while this process doesnt really generate a good top 32 just by community votes, it sure narrows the pool down to a very good 90 or so items and I am going to respect that and I believe my fellow judges will too.
Just wanting to keep you all posted on how this new process works!
Great job everyone and I can't wait for you all to see the final top 32 items.
I will also say this, among the top 90 items, there are more really good items than I have seen in a while. Usually you get 15-20 keeps and the rest are good but not sure if they are ready yet kinds of items and as a result we have an easy top 15 or so then it is our personal preference on the balance. This year my guess is we will have nearly all the top 32 by consensus.
Here is a little hint: if your item has construction requirements other than "Craft Wondrous Item" then it is getting rejected because it ISN'T A WONDROUS ITEM. So if you are contemplating submitting an item that requires Craft Arms and Armor or Craft Rod or whatever, then you might want to think again, since the rules of the round clearly require a Wondrous Item.
So, in the interests of keeping it positive and not focusing on what NOT to do, here we go: Make sure your item requires Craft Wondrous Item as a construction requirement. If it doesn't then maybe you aren't actually submitting a wondrous item.
In order to balance out the disturbance in the force from my tongue in cheek thread about some of the early bad submission, we now return you to my regularly scheduled Paula Abdul routine:
I guarantee you that NONE of the submissions I was talking about came from any of the forum regulars. If you did even one second of homework you could not possibly have submitted any of the items I was referring to. So...breathe, relax, it wasn't your item I was talking about.
You guys know me. I am all about submitting. You can't win if you don't try. So get off the fence and (ok I used that AC/DC reference already so nevermind).
But you also know you have to respect the contest. That's why I, in particular, hate joke submissions. Do your basic homework. Read the rules. If you are reading this thread, I am certain you have done that.
Don't be discouraged. In fact, you should be encouraged. Some of you may be out there saying "oh my gosh Sean and Neil and Jason and Clark and everyone have done so much to help the contestants year after year that means there arent going to be bad submissions anymore. How will I ever stand out?" The good news is that despite all our help there are still a ton of people not even close to complying with the rules. So take a shot! Submit an item! Do your homework and submit a good item and who knows what could happen!
You can do it!
It's like a walk down memory lane for me.
It's so nice to see old friends. Ones I haven't seen in a while, at least since last year. And this year we really have ALL the old crew back together.
I've seen them all.
The modern item poorly ported into a fantasy world. Check!
It's just like old times being around old friends.
Old friends one finds in the Reject bin, that is.
If you want to make sure you don't win, here is a simple suggestion: disregard the provided formatting. In fact, go ahead and do it however you want. Don't worry that Paizo and the judges have literally handed you the proper format, complete with the codes necessary for the formatting. Just go ahead and do your own thing! You'll look like a super-creative trail blazer! I mean, who wants to conform? Am I right, people? Because deep down in their hearts, Paizo wants to find freelancers that don't follow rules, won't use provided tools and templates. So if you want to lose for sure, and I mean just fail spectacularly, please please please ignore the formatting.
For those foolish few who want to actually win (what a bunch of losers!) here is the proper format from the rules. Use at your peril!
True, the provided format is not required. But really the only dummies who would use the provided format are those people who actually wanted to win (or at least for those lame-os who actually want to win, ha!). Nerds!
Oh, and look, more tips for weirdos who actually want to win: You should not use ALL CAPS for any part of your wondrous item submission.
Here it is:
For your convenience, the following text contains all the necessary message board formatting to make your submission comparable to those in the Core Rulebook. You may copy this text to help format your submission, but are not required to do so. Remember that improperly formatted entries may be disqualified. You should not use ALL CAPS for any part of your wondrous item submission. "ZZ" is a placeholder to indicate you should replace that text with appropriate information for your wondrous item.
NOTE: You must use the above format from the Core Rulebook, not the graphical magic item format used in Ultimate Equipment.
...'cause RPG Superstar ain't no riddle, man. To me it makes good, good sense!
Apologies to AC/DC, but game design ain't noise pollution.
So get off the fence and submit an item this year!
Seriously, I say this every year. Entering is winning. The act of creation and submission is itself a big accomplishment.
I started Necromancer Games in my home. I had no idea what I was doing. I had passion for the game, a bunch of ideas and the BALLS to take the risk. I took it. I learned a lot. I believed in myself. I want all of you to believe in yourselves and give it a shot.
I know I'm the rah rah guy, but you can't win if you don't try. And with Superstar, trying is winning.
Believe in yourself.
The contest is anonymous. NO ONE has to know you entered. So there is no reason not to try. And if you dont make it and dont want feedback, you wont get any.
I guarantee you it will be an amazing experience.
Please, if you are out there sittin' on the fence, get off your ass and get down here. It is a rocking good time.
I predict the following will occur this year in the first round of Superstar:
1. someone will be over word count and will complain that we should have some automatic tool that prohibits over-word-count submissions, rather than accepting that it is their responsibility to submit a proper submission
2. someone will not advance and will have an epic flameout in the critique my item thread when they are told their special snowflake was not awesome
3. the judges wont be unanimous in liking all the 32 submitted items that advance leading people to wonder if the contestants are just worse this year (even though this happens every year)
4. Ryan will make short comments and get heat for it
5. Sean or I will be called mean for being blunt
6. This community will be totally awesome and supportive
7. we will get an amazing group of contestants
8. I will start commenting in the Critique My Item thread but will lose steam and one of the younger more energetic judges will take over commenting on all of them
9. someone will fail to understand that their perfectly executed boring item is actually not better than a flawed but interesting item, since the first round is really about us as judges selecting the contestants to compete in Superstar
10. a bunch of people will submit items having never (1) listened to the audio of our panel, (2) read Sean's consolidated advice column, and (3) read prior winning entries, leading those people to complain
There you have it! 10 bold predictions from Clark-nak the Magnificent! I also predict they will all come true! So that's 11!
As I am finishing up my commentary on the top 4 submissions this year I thought back over prior years' submissions and contestants. I hope everyone in the top 4 this year realizes that while winning the contest is great, its what you do after Superstar that really matters and each and every one of you has the chance for great things and for an amazing freelance career if you choose to work hard and do it whether or not you win Superstar.
Just look at the list of prior top 4:
2008 Top 4:
2009 Top 4:
2010 Top 4:
2011 Top 4:
There are some "non-winners" on there who have gone on to great things.
Congrats to all 4 of you for your hard work and success during this great contest!
You four have done a great job and regardless of who wins, I wish you all a great post-Superstar career should you choose to pursue it.
And now your four names will be added to that above list, which is pretty impressive, and when I review submissions next year (if they let me) it will be YOUR submissions that I mentally compare their submissions to. I hope you get a feeling of your place in the history of this contest and how cool that is. It is quite an accomplishment. You should be proud of yourselves. And all the members of this community should be proud for their support and involvement in this great contest!
Nice work, top 4! Win or loose, welcome to the annals of RPG Superstar history!
Its strange to be a judge in this contest. It puts you in a strange position. While everyone else is throwing around love and support, we are doing criticism.
I just want to let everyone know--particularly those in the top 32 that didn't advance--that I was incredibly impressed with your first round items and your organizations.
You all have a ton to be proud of.
Well, geez, Clark, then why did you give ME a bad grade?
Because the bar for superstar is so high, I have to really have a high standard. But please keep in mind the sorting I am doing is between the A+ students in the class. And just because I may give one a recommend and another a no recommend, doesnt mean I dont like you or dont think you are capable. All I am doing is judging a single entry. Monday night the Lakers played the 6ers (and lost, bummer). In that game, Kobe Bryant moved into 5th place all time in NBA scoring history. An amazing player, no doubt. But down the stretch of the game he missed some shots. Does the fact he missed a few in a row mean he is not the 5th best scorer every to play the game? No. Same with all of you. If you missed with your organization, it doesnt mean you are not superstar. It just means you didnt make the shot today. But I know each and every one of you is capable of doing it.
So please keep in mind that all of you, whether you made the cut to 16 or not, are A+ in my book.
I've said this before, and I say it again now: I probably couldn't win RPG Superstar. I dont know if I have the chops. So you've all beaten me :)
Great work everyone! You have a ton to be proud of and it has been a pleasure to judge your submission so far!!!