A Modest Proposal


RPG Superstar™ 2008 General Discussion

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

I think I speak for each and every one of the 32 contestants, as writers and designers, when I say that I have found the feedback from judges, voters and the internet community during this process absolutely invaluable - and I thank Paizo, especially Lisa, once again for this unique and unprecedented opportunity.

On a more personal note: I, myself, have some concern over the actual utility of putting some of these hard-won lessons into practice, versus the punching-bag effect that I think some creators are experiencing; without the ability (or right) to edit your entry, respond to critics or adapt from your mistakes before getting the axe, I am not certain that some writers will get much more out of this experience than being patted on the back and told to go home.

In short, this contest has been about hitting homeruns, one after another, rather than about leaning to swing the bat - which is certainly for the best. After all, presumably no one arrives on the set of "American Idol" looking for basic singing lessons, and Paizo has been relatively clear in their desire to find, and I quote, a "Superstar!"

Meaning, I assume, a "star" who is also "super".

Of course, all writers, even Superstars, require an editor - from mighty Stephen King or J. K. Rowling all the way on down to little old me or you.

I wonder, then, if in future versions of the contest it might be interesting or advisable to allow for an "Editing Challenge" - at a set (or surprise) time, give each of the contestants twelve hours to rewrite their entire entry, top to bottom, either employing or ignoring the advice of the judges, voters and community. I have a feeling that a challenge like that would serve the contestants, the voting public, and Paizo quite well.

This idea is probably best for late-game, smaller-pool competitions - if reading 32 countries is taxing, then re-reading them after a re-write is plainly a bit much. Similarly, specific contest rules are the purview of much wiser minds than my own.

Still, I can't help but feel that I'm onto something, here.

Or maybe I'm just ON something, come to think of it.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6 aka exile

Boomer,

I agree that an editing contest would be a great addition in one of the later rounds of the contest, mayhaps when there are six or so contestants left. A round before that, I think I'd let the writers respond to criticism and discuss their creation, but that's just me.

Chad

PS gads, this contest has made me paranoid enough to even re-read and edit my casual posts (like this one).

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

As one of the boney punching bags in question, I think it's not a bad idea at all. I myself have been on a very steep learning curve and I think it's fairly safe to say that alone has been primarily responsible for putting me out of the running. (Yes, by this point, I'm 95% convinced I've bogged it up royally!)

While granted, it wouldn't be of help at this stage - as Boomer pointed out, 32 is far too many entries to re-read - I think it would be a very good idea for the later rounds, especially for newcomers who have, by a fair bit of luck, made it that far.

Edit: Me too, Chad!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

I agree with the editing situation, and I must admit, that perhaps the country was a little too early in the competition. Let's face it, creating a monster, or villain or magic item is actually easier, as there are a set of predefined rules that you have to work with. A country is very interpretive and open to discussion on many aspects. I might like x and you might like y and the judges hate both.

That said, I agree that this has been a great opportunity and that I have learned a GREAT deal. I just wish that I had a chance to edit my piece and show it again after the judges critique. I believe that an edit would aid us all in getting closer to what the Judges wanted and less of what we thought they wanted. Those of merit would be able to take that diamond and hone it to perfection. It benefits everyone.

Good post Boomer, and great thread to get the ball rolling for a civil discussion on things. Even though I am sure there will those who think that this is the poor losers thread. I hope not, but....

Good luck everyone, the competition isn't over until the weight challenged person of feminine persuasion sings.

Chad, ditto on the edit. :)

WC

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6 aka exile

An edit would help all of the countries, but some would benefit from it more than others. I don't mean so that some entries are poorly written and thus more in need of an edit, so much as I mean some concepts just aren't as palatable as others, thus requiring far more than even a good edit.

Chad

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka JoelF847

This is an interesting idea. To use the American Idol analogy, each contestant there works with a professional in the week leading up to their performance and gets advise to use or ignore, and afterwards shows what they've got. To do something similar in this contest, you could have the judges post their comments, then let the contestants edit their entries for an additional 2 days or so, and only then let the general public view and vote for that round.

I know that for the past few days, I've had all of the judge (and other's) comments bounce around in my head and I've been mentally smacking my forehead saying, "you're completely right, I SHOULD have done something more like this instead!" All of the feedback, positive and negative, has been invaluable. Even if I don't have a chance to continue in this, I know I'll be a better writer in the future, and I will plan to re-enter next time Paizo has a similar opportunity - with all of this valuable experience under my belt.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Qor

Punching bag present!

What you suggest is exactly what I offer to the students in my classes. The critique is a great tool, as long as useful information is given -- just the "great job!, or "I don't like it!", isn't enough to work from. But specific suggestions and examples can lead to great resubmissions. I find that a good portion of my students who resubmit their assignments after the critique has been given, wind up submitting far better work. Quite often, all it takes is something to compare your work against and a classroom of people to barrage your work with tough-love.

I know that goes against the principles of a blind contest though, which is what this is. But, generally I think contests like those work for actual prizes (i.e. "Submit the best essay and win a round trip flight to Spain!"). For a contest like this though, in the future, I think Paizo could benefit from a critiquing/editing inclusion in the contest. They're looking for great content, right? Imagine how much better those 850+ wondrous items could have been if they were given just a little critique time. We'd likely be seeing a new magic item book release within the next couple of months. ;)

Star Voter Season 7

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

You will be able to apply the lessons learned this time around to the next round, considering you make it. That is equally as valuable as editing in this case, and is also more practical considering the nature of the contest.

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

JoelF847 wrote:

This is an interesting idea. To use the American Idol analogy, each contestant there works with a professional in the week leading up to their performance and gets advise to use or ignore, and afterwards shows what they've got. To do something similar in this contest, you could have the judges post their comments, then let the contestants edit their entries for an additional 2 days or so, and only then let the general public view and vote for that round.

With all respect to the judges, there are only three of them who discuss the items extensively together and to some extent agree with each other. I think you'd want a few more independent opinions before doing a round of rewrites, otherwise it could seriously skew an entry.

Would Paizo be agreeable to losing contestants posting edited versions after the close of voting, as for losing items?

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

Yeah, I think that's a good idea. If the losers want to rewrite their entries that's cool. I think it's an interesting idea to have an "editing round' somewhere in the mix, but you're right that it's too late to do it at this stage of this contest.

I'd love to see the non-advancers post edited versions of their entries for general comment, though. I do like the idea of people using the contest as a learning tool.


Erik Mona wrote:

Yeah, I think that's a good idea. If the losers want to rewrite their entries that's cool. I think it's an interesting idea to have an "editing round' somewhere in the mix, but you're right that it's too late to do it at this stage of this contest.

I'd love to see the non-advancers post edited versions of their entries for general comment, though. I do like the idea of people using the contest as a learning tool.

In any future contest, I'd love to see an editing round. I think it would help determine which writers fall back into the safety net and which really shoot for the stars by combining suggestion with their own innovation.

Course, I'd also like to see hwoever it manifests in the boards this time around as well.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

The only way to get better, is to do. We have done. We have been judged. We will be better for it. I have learned a lot and intend to use it. Thanks again to the judges and the populace. I can't wait to show what I have learned and see what everyone thinks. As my wife says, if you take a hit, get up and do better. Good advice I say.

WC

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Qor

Erik Mona wrote:
I think it's an interesting idea to have an "editing round' somewhere in the mix, but you're right that it's too late to do it at this stage of this contest.

One suggestion on how this could work, since I know time is going to be a factor if there is editing involved (not just by increasing the submission time length, but by also giving the judges more work to do): hand out "golden tickets".

By that I mean, allow a portion of the submissions to advance to the next round while the other spots are on reserve for resubmissions. So if 32 spots would be allowed for the best wondrous items, maybe the top 10 would be given these golden tickets, without needing a resubmission. Now there would be 10 good examples to go from, and the rest of the people vying for the remainder 22 spots could both benefit from the critique and seeing good examples.

The obvious disadvantage here would be that the top 10 contestants would have the ability to start working on their next submission, but this may not be a problem if the next submission has different guidelines than the previous year (i.e. next year you must submit a chaotically aligned country, the year after that must include a country with an arcane theme, etc).

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Qor wrote:
Erik Mona wrote:
I think it's an interesting idea to have an "editing round' somewhere in the mix, but you're right that it's too late to do it at this stage of this contest.

One suggestion on how this could work, since I know time is going to be a factor if there is editing involved (not just by increasing the submission time length, but by also giving the judges more work to do): hand out "golden tickets".

By that I mean, allow a portion of the submissions to advance to the next round while the other spots are on reserve for resubmissions. So if 32 spots would be allowed for the best wondrous items, maybe the top 10 would be given these golden tickets, without needing a resubmission. Now there would be 10 good examples to go from, and the rest of the people vying for the remainder 22 spots could both benefit from the critique and seeing good examples.

The obvious disadvantage here would be that the top 10 contestants would have the ability to start working on their next submission, but this may not be a problem if the next submission has different guidelines than the previous year (i.e. next year you must submit a chaotically aligned country, the year after that must include a country with an arcane theme, etc).

The 'golden tickets' are rather like 'immunity' mechanics from reality shows. Good or bad, you do x-and-such and you advance, while the next tier has to go through some final runoff of some sort to advance. I could see that working.

As for it being a disadvantage for the people in that 'wild card' category vs. the top advancers, that's probably an intentionally okay thing. Some sports leagues, for instance, grant extra benefits to top finishers, like an extra week off or getting to play their games at home or the like, whereas those who just barely make it in to the playoffs have to do extra games, travel, etc. I'm just saying this is a pretty commonplace playoff design that allows a larger group to advance but still advantages (though how much is an open question) those who finished at the top.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

JoelF847 wrote:
This is an interesting idea. To use the American Idol analogy, each contestant there works with a professional in the week leading up to their performance and gets advise to use or ignore, and afterwards shows what they've got.

But contestants don't get to have a crappy performance on the live show, get feedback from the judges, then rearrange their song and sing it again before people *really* vote.

While I understand the concept of what's being discussed here, I don't think that it would actually be beneficial for the final result. That is, I don't want us to get an adventure from somebody who's only "good" after other people help them rewrite their work. I want us to get an adventure from somebody who will knock it out of the park the first time.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

Vic Wertz wrote:
JoelF847 wrote:
This is an interesting idea. To use the American Idol analogy, each contestant there works with a professional in the week leading up to their performance and gets advise to use or ignore, and afterwards shows what they've got.

But contestants don't get to have a crappy performance on the live show, get feedback from the judges, then rearrange their song and sing it again before people *really* vote.

While I understand the concept of what's being discussed here, I don't think that it would actually be beneficial for the final result. That is, I don't want us to get an adventure from somebody who's only "good" after other people help them rewrite their work. I want us to get an adventure from somebody who will knock it out of the park the first time.

I see your point Vic, but at the same time, as I am understanding it, are normal proposals not edited and discussed before they go to print? I am pretty sure that there are very few people who can give the publisher exactly what they want first time through. Most works need at least a little tweaking. I admit that there are those that need major rewrites (mine included) but even the 'A' contestants can produce something better with a small amount of 'extra' editing and advice.

Or am I out in left field here?

WC


Vic Wertz wrote:
JoelF847 wrote:
This is an interesting idea. To use the American Idol analogy, each contestant there works with a professional in the week leading up to their performance and gets advise to use or ignore, and afterwards shows what they've got.

But contestants don't get to have a crappy performance on the live show, get feedback from the judges, then rearrange their song and sing it again before people *really* vote.

While I understand the concept of what's being discussed here, I don't think that it would actually be beneficial for the final result. That is, I don't want us to get an adventure from somebody who's only "good" after other people help them rewrite their work. I want us to get an adventure from somebody who will knock it out of the park the first time.

EICK! But why not? Maybe a good person capable of adapting to community feedback writes better than somehow working alone. Maybe he even knocks it into the bay rather than just over the wall.

Okay, I only posted this because it hits on an important aspect of my area of research. Thus the 'EICK' and now my apology. ;)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Qor

Vic Wertz wrote:
I want us to get an adventure from somebody who will knock it out of the park the first time.

How many times have you heard stories from people in creative industries talking about how no one would give them a shot doing so-and-so? Yet, somehow, they managed to get in, and blew the socks right off their employers.

Not everyone learns or responds to feedback, submissions, testing, etc. the same way. Making it flexible can only be in your best interest. Sure, you might get one or two A's from a first-time submission out of a dozen people, but wouldn't you rather end up with six A's in the end?

An extreme analogy: Michael Jordan was the 3rd pick during 1984's draft. That didn't stop him from being one of the best basketball players the world has ever seen. Could you imagine what those first two teams felt after they realized what they passed up? :)

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

I do education research, and the division I see is between a proposal and a full article. If I have some research I've done that I think is cool, there are some venues where I send it to a journal, and the editors there do a quick screening pass on it. If it gets bounced at that stage, they just send it back with a no thanks. Ditto if I want to present research at a conference, you send your proposal, usually like 2-3 pages, and they look it over and give you a yes or no to proceed.

Once you get past the gatekeeping level, THEN you can get more feedback. The journal editors send your full article out for a blinded review by other academics, who give it a close read and detailed feedback and a recommendation to accept, reject, or give one of several kinds of maybes. For a conference, you get accepted, you bring the paper to the conference and present it, and you get comments and feedback from people who come to see and hear you present.

In both cases, though, you do have to go through a slush pile process, and you're just not going to get detailed feedback at that stage. Because of the human resources realities of publishing, there just isn't time to give detailed feedback, so even if you do have potential, they have another 10 or 20 just like you that might have potential, but every one, for one reason or another, needs more work than others. Beyond those 20 that need work will be half a dozen that don't, or that look like they will need less than others, and those are the ones that'll get the close read and the back-and-forth work with editors to massage what's there. The editors and reviewers only have so much time and they need to get the most bang for THEIR buck. Better to spend 10 hours getting ONE article nailed then 10 hours on 10 different maybe that might never get there because they need 20 hours of work each.

Sometimes, of course, it has nothing to do with space. Sometimes you pitch the right idea at the right time for a themed issue or book and you jump to the front of the line. Other times, less happily, you pitch an article that is just like 4 other ones they just got (look even at this competition and the instant comparisons between the 2 water-based countries, or the "ho-hum another evil country" or "bleah, more necromancers").

Let's just say I've gotten used to hearing a lot of NO in the writing game, even if I think my research is good, interesting, full of potential, and all the rest. At first I got irritated, but I guess I'm just more philosophical about it now. You keep doing your best work and keep throwing it out there, and every now and then you get a hit.

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Qor wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
I want us to get an adventure from somebody who will knock it out of the park the first time.

How many times have you heard stories from people in creative industries talking about how no one would give them a shot doing so-and-so? Yet, somehow, they managed to get in, and blew the socks right off their employers.

Not everyone learns or responds to feedback, submissions, testing, etc. the same way. Making it flexible can only be in your best interest. Sure, you might get one or two A's from a first-time submission out of a dozen people, but wouldn't you rather end up with six A's in the end?

An extreme analogy: Michael Jordan was the 3rd pick during 1984's draft. That didn't stop him from being one of the best basketball players the world has ever seen. Could you imagine what those first two teams felt after they realized what they passed up? :)

Houston: Pretty happy with Hakeem Olajuwon. :)

Portland: Still crying about Sam Bowie. :(

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

Erik Mona wrote:

Yeah, I think that's a good idea. If the losers want to rewrite their entries that's cool. I think it's an interesting idea to have an "editing round' somewhere in the mix, but you're right that it's too late to do it at this stage of this contest.

I'd love to see the non-advancers post edited versions of their entries for general comment, though. I do like the idea of people using the contest as a learning tool.

Right! That answers the question I asked in a thread the other day. Excellent! I did kind of feel like I owe you lot a proper expansion of Kerpiquan once the round ends.

*Scribble, scribble, scribble*

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Spar

Jason Nelson 20 wrote:
I do education research, ... SNIP ... issue or book and you jump to the front of the line....

I had an idea, but never realized, the way the writing world worked. This is my first attempt at anything other than scribbles on a napkin, so I appreciate a 'professional' incite. By the sounds of things the idea is, try try again, and eventually it will work (why am I reminded of Rudy (Go Irish)).

Good Post Jason, thanks.

WC

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

I am quite pleased to know that I am not completely off my rocker; indeed, that there are precedents for this type of complex, sideways-mechanics advancement in reality shows - my familiarity with the genre begins and ends with the movie "American Dreamz," and gladly so.

In any case, this contest has been an absolute joy and I look forwrd to the coming rounds with both anticipation and pleasure.


Hehee, I'm sure several of the contestants are pretty antsy on not being allowed to edit or comment their entries...However, I wouldn't mind seeing them rewriting the entries later when they have time (that is, if they are allowed to do so, considering that the countries are now IP of Paizo).
Heck, I have been tempted to write a country entry based on the criticism offered, just as an exercise.

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

magdalena thiriet wrote:

Hehee, I'm sure several of the contestants are pretty antsy on not being allowed to edit or comment their entries...However, I wouldn't mind seeing them rewriting the entries later when they have time (that is, if they are allowed to do so, considering that the countries are now IP of Paizo).

Heck, I have been tempted to write a country entry based on the criticism offered, just as an exercise.

A Writing Exercise

An author might come up with something quite different in the knowledge of what worked and didn't for the contestants.

Should be an interesting time after close of this round of voting.


Vic Wertz wrote:
While I understand the concept of what's being discussed here, I don't think that it would actually be beneficial for the final result. That is, I don't want us to get an adventure from somebody who's only "good" after other people help them rewrite their work. I want us to get an adventure from somebody who will knock it out of the park the first time.

If that's the case, then why didn't poor writing, grammar, and use of the SRD knock out many of the top 32? (Incidentally, I'm personally happy with those who got in. I'm just pointing out the inconsistency of saying that ideas count on Round One, and writing starts to count on Round Two and later.)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 7

varianor wrote:


If that's the case, then why didn't poor writing, grammar, and use of the SRD knock out many of the top 32? (Incidentally, I'm personally happy with those who got in. I'm just pointing out the inconsistency of saying that ideas count on Round One, and writing starts to count on Round Two and later.)

There is a difference between editing and rewriting. An editor can fix typos and grammatical mistakes, even help sort out rules inconsistencies. But what they can't do is add missing sections to a country, or cut uneccessary backstory. Too much actual structural changes and they're doing your job.


Extensive rewriting is also doing the author's job....

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

propeliea wrote:
Maybe a good person capable of adapting to community feedback writes better than somehow working alone. Maybe he even knocks it into the bay rather than just over the wall.

But that large-scale community feedback won't be available to the winner when he's writing the adventure. So if he's reliant upon it to succeed, we're going to have problems at the most important level—the one that's supposed to result in a top-notch saleable product.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Ross Byers wrote:
varianor wrote:


If that's the case, then why didn't poor writing, grammar, and use of the SRD knock out many of the top 32? (Incidentally, I'm personally happy with those who got in. I'm just pointing out the inconsistency of saying that ideas count on Round One, and writing starts to count on Round Two and later.)
There is a difference between editing and rewriting. An editor can fix typos and grammatical mistakes, even help sort out rules inconsistencies. But what they can't do is add missing sections to a country, or cut uneccessary backstory. Too much actual structural changes and they're doing your job.

What he said.

Although one thing I'm a little concerned about is that some of the contestants are passing their entries through friends for a polish. That act itself is actually fine, and I know if I were a contestant I'd probably be doing the same... but I sure hope the winning contestant is planning on passing his full adventure through the same people, because if the contest entries are well-written and generally free of errors, and the finished proposal is substantially worse because the friends that made a difference aren't willing to do the same for a 32-page adventure, well... again, we'll have problems.

Dark Archive

In college creative writing, our prof would make us bring in copies of whatever poetry or prose we'd written for the day for the other students, hand them out, and then read our assigned bit of writing out loud. From that point on, the writer wasn't allowed to speak, but had to sit and listen to the rest of the class discuss what they thought about his submission. There were times I wanted to cry, times I wanted to bang my head on the table and many times when I openly gaped in stupefaction at what my classmates *thought* I meant by a particular piece. There was even a time when I thought, 'Wow, I wish I meant something that deep and insightfu... She's put more thought into this than I did!'

The lesson the prof was trying to impart was that if I, as a writer, had to *explain* what I meant (or what feelings / mood I was trying to evoke) by a particular bit of writing, then the writing itself had *failed.*

It was a frustrating lesson, but I think it was an important one. Before the days of the internet, an author didn't get to hold his readers hands and guide them through what he *should* have said in blog entries or message boards. His writing had to stand on its own, and, ideally, that should still be the case today. The same applies to writing for other genres, and I get particularly annoyed to see television or movie writers doing interviews where they *explain* what they really meant and why what they put up on screen was 'misunderstood' by their audience. It's not the audiences fault for 'not getting it,' it's the writers fault for not telling it right.

As always, add IMO to the end of any sentence that ends with a period.


Vic Wertz wrote:
propeliea wrote:
Maybe a good person capable of adapting to community feedback writes better than somehow working alone. Maybe he even knocks it into the bay rather than just over the wall.

But that large-scale community feedback won't be available to the winner when he's writing the adventure. So if he's reliant upon it to succeed, we're going to have problems at the most important level—the one that's supposed to result in a top-notch saleable product.

True. My interest is in the wider approach where creating institutions that might promote that type of feedback remain regularly available. Why I admitted to it being tangential to the main conversation.

However, maybe this promotes the possibility that an open board editing process might actually enhance final products. Of course, I realize this opens up a can of worms under the current system of copyright in the US, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth pondering.


Set wrote:

In college creative writing, our prof would make us bring in copies of whatever poetry or prose we'd written for the day for the other students, hand them out, and then read our assigned bit of writing out loud. From that point on, the writer wasn't allowed to speak, but had to sit and listen to the rest of the class discuss what they thought about his submission. There were times I wanted to cry, times I wanted to bang my head on the table and many times when I openly gaped in stupefaction at what my classmates *thought* I meant by a particular piece. There was even a time when I thought, 'Wow, I wish I meant something that deep and insightfu... She's put more thought into this than I did!'

The lesson the prof was trying to impart was that if I, as a writer, had to *explain* what I meant (or what feelings / mood I was trying to evoke) by a particular bit of writing, then the writing itself had *failed.*

It was a frustrating lesson, but I think it was an important one. Before the days of the internet, an author didn't get to hold his readers hands and guide them through what he *should* have said in blog entries or message boards. His writing had to stand on its own, and, ideally, that should still be the case today. The same applies to writing for other genres, and I get particularly annoyed to see television or movie writers doing interviews where they *explain* what they really meant and why what they put up on screen was 'misunderstood' by their audience. It's not the audiences fault for 'not getting it,' it's the writers fault for not telling it right.

As always, add IMO to the end of any sentence that ends with a period.

Well, elements of literary criticism actually differs a bit on the end analysis. Writing is either enjoyable to read or not, the meaning offered remains ancilary--particularly in fiction. Meaning arises from both reader and writer without substantial control from the writer. This is why you will hear many critics skirt the whole 'author's message' issue. Critic's will often discuss the message of the piece, not the writer. The writing exists separately from meaning and an audience 'not getting it 'a piece should never be a defense or criticism of the actual writing. The audience shouldn't need to get it to enjoy the writing.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

propeliea wrote:
My interest is in the wider approach where creating institutions that might promote that type of feedback remain regularly available.

And we've given the ok to allowing contestants to post rewrites after voting ends (and, one would hope, after the advancing contestants complete their assignment for the following round). But I think attempting to integrate it into the contest—this year or any year—would be a mistake.

The prize here is *not* winning the contest. The prize is getting your adventure published. And there's a major step that happens in between those two:

The Rules wrote:
6. The Grand Prize is a paid commission to write a 32-page adventure for Paizo Publishing's GameMastery Modules line. The winner must sign a contract to write an adventure as prepared and accepted by Paizo Publishing. The final adventure must be written in the English language, following the current SRD rules set, and must be written with proper spelling and grammar. The winner must fulfill their obligations to write an adventure acceptable to Paizo Publishing before getting paid for their work. Winning the RPG Superstar contest does not guarantee the winner payment if they don't fulfill their obligation to write the adventure or can't deliver an adventure that meets Paizo Publishing's quality standards.

So if an author needs crutches to garner votes, they'd better have access to those same crutches when it comes time to write the adventure. (And public commentary will not be available to them.)

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

propeliea wrote:
However, maybe this promotes the possibility that an open board editing process might actually enhance final products. Of course, I realize this opens up a can of worms under the current system of copyright in the US, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth pondering.

I'm less concerned with copyright than with other things.

First, products "written by committee" usually attempt to appeal to everybody, yet somehow manage to appeal to almost nobody.

Second, opening up development for commentary would make product cycles take longer, and that changes things financially. (For one thing, increasing the time between the first draft and the date of publication isn't beneficial to writers who are paid upon publication.)

Third, I believe that a product developed in the open would sell fewer copies than a product that isn't, because a significant number of people would grab what they want from the developmental work, and not bother ponying up the dough for the final product. (Yeah, I know a lot of people would buy the final product anyway, but my guess—which I realize can't ever be directly tested—is that the net sales would be lower.)


Vic Wertz wrote:
propeliea wrote:
However, maybe this promotes the possibility that an open board editing process might actually enhance final products. Of course, I realize this opens up a can of worms under the current system of copyright in the US, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth pondering.

I'm less concerned with copyright than with other things.

First, products "written by committee" usually attempt to appeal to everybody, yet somehow manage to appeal to almost nobody.

Second, opening up development for commentary would make product cycles take longer, and that changes things financially. (For one thing, increasing the time between the first draft and the date of publication isn't beneficial to writers who are paid upon publication.)

Third, I believe that a product developed in the open would sell fewer copies than a product that isn't, because a significant number of people would grab what they want from the developmental work, and not bother ponying up the dough for the final product. (Yeah, I know a lot of people would buy the final product anyway, but my guess—which I realize can't ever be directly tested—is that the net sales would be lower.)

All legit concerns beyond copyright. There other concerns depending on industry. Libel in journalism is a big one, and the cycle is much, much shorter there. But they might be concerns that the correct combination of process and technology could address.

I'm hoping that it can in fact be tested in microcosm, but that's for my chair and commititee members to complain about--then the industry. ;)

Actually, Vic, if you want in on the case study come June or so, I'd certainly keep that in mind.

Dark Archive Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4

Vic Wertz wrote:

. . . But I think attempting to integrate it into the contest—this year or any year—would be a mistake.

The prize here is *not* winning the contest. The prize is getting your adventure published. And there's a major step that happens in between those two:

(EDIT: snipped text)

So if an author needs crutches to garner votes, they'd better have access to those same crutches when it comes time to write the adventure. (And public commentary will not be available to them.)

Perfectly said - I knew that there was something sticky here that I was having trouble defining, and there it is.

I thank everyone for their consideration of my mad scheme.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 aka Aotrscommander

Vic Wertz wrote:

What he said.

Although one thing I'm a little concerned about is that some of the contestants are passing their entries through friends for a polish. That act itself is actually fine, and I know if I were a contestant I'd probably be doing the same... but I sure hope the winning contestant is planning on passing his full adventure through the same people, because if the contest entries are well-written and generally free of errors, and the finished proposal is substantially worse because the friends that made a difference aren't willing to do the same for a 32-page adventure, well... again, we'll have problems.

I don't know though, I'd have thought that anybody who doesn't run their work (regardless of what that writing tends to be) through at least somebody is not doing a proper job of writing it.

One only has to look at the reception of the later 3.5 products and the voluable and entirely legitimate complaints they were chock-full of errors and inconsistencies - and typos, for cryin' out loud; and WotC doesn't have any excuses for that, being such a large company.

I think everything - novels, adventures, rules etc. should have at least one run through the idiot-proofer.

That may well not be the way the writing industry works, I guess, but if it isn't, it ought to be. (Call me an over-optimistic perfecionist if you will!) And certainly I'll be holding myself to that standard, regardless!

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Vic Wertz wrote:

First, products "written by committee" usually attempt to appeal to everybody, yet somehow manage to appeal to almost nobody.

Second, opening up development for commentary would make product cycles take longer, and that changes things financially. (For one thing, increasing the time between the first draft and the date of publication isn't beneficial to writers who are paid upon publication.)

Third, I believe that a product developed in the open would sell fewer copies than a product that isn't, because a significant number of people would grab what they want from the developmental work, and not bother ponying up the dough for the final product. (Yeah, I know a lot of people would buy the final product anyway, but my guess—which I realize can't ever be directly tested—is that the net sales would be lower.)

These are all true. I especially had a mirthless chuckle over #2, as I had an adventure accepted for pub in Dungeon but because of a string of real-life complications had a long delay before finally being able to write the manuscript. I had kept in touch with James J. about it over the course of time and then this spring I had finally been able to get close to finished with the manuscript and emailed the esteemed Mr. Jacobs to tell him I'd be sending in the long-delayed manuscript at last, and he said something to the effect of "welll, you might want to hold onto that for a minute, and I can't tell you why exactly just now." And then shortly thereafter the news came out about Dragon & Dungeon going *poof*.

Oops. :(

Not that this sort of thing happens all the time, but anything that extends the product cycle just opens up the possibility for any kind of complications, of which your paycheck coming MUCH later is just one possibility.

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