Disappointing (Edit: No, just tired and grumpy :))


RPG Superstar™ 2012 General Discussion

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Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

I would *love* to see a good alternative to Wondrous Items as the first-round challenge. Every year, we try to come up something even *as good*, and every year, we fail.

We need something that tests design chops, and the ability to write up mechanics. We need something that tests creative chops, and the ability to write descriptively. We need something that doesn't require any more than 300 words (or it takes too long to judge). We need a design space that encompasses a *tremendous* amount of variety, in that there's obvious differentiation among literally thousands of submissions.

If you have something that fits all of those constraints, feel free to suggest it—but odds are good we've already thought of it and found it lacking in some way.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Hodge Podge

Vic Wertz wrote:
If you have something that fits all of those constraints, feel free to suggest it—but odds are good we've already thought of it and found it lacking in some way.

How about creating a monster, only using a simplified template?

As they are right now, they are a bit too complex for the judges to effectively review hundreds of entries, but maybe if the entries were to follow a more judgeable "monster proposal" format, it could work.

The nice thing about monsters is that there's a vast amount of creative ground yet to be covered.


Chris Shaeffer wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
If you have something that fits all of those constraints, feel free to suggest it—but odds are good we've already thought of it and found it lacking in some way.

How about creating a monster, only using a simplified template?

As they are right now, they are a bit too complex for the judges to effectively review hundreds of entries, but maybe if the entries were to follow a more judgeable "monster proposal" format, it could work.

The nice thing about monsters is that there's a vast amount of creative ground yet to be covered.

I'll second the idea of a simple monster template as a good round 1 challenge.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Chris Shaeffer wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
If you have something that fits all of those constraints, feel free to suggest it—but odds are good we've already thought of it and found it lacking in some way.

How about creating a monster, only using a simplified template?

As they are right now, they are a bit too complex for the judges to effectively review hundreds of entries, but maybe if the entries were to follow a more judgeable "monster proposal" format, it could work.

The nice thing about monsters is that there's a vast amount of creative ground yet to be covered.

We really like having monsters in later rounds....


With the advent of the new private message feature perhaps that is a better route for the judges to present their thoughts to the contestants. This would probably keep the public perception and voting in turn in the hands of the readers instead of basing it off what the judges think.

Silver Crusade Star Voter Season 6

Vic Wertz wrote:
I would *love* to see a good alternative to Wondrous Items as the first-round challenge... If you have something that fits all of those constraints, feel free to suggest it—but odds are good we've already thought of it and found it lacking in some way.

What about a Feat?

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Nukruh wrote:
With the advent of the new private message feature perhaps that is a better route for the judges to present their thoughts to the contestants. This would probably keep the public perception and voting in turn in the hands of the readers instead of basing it off what the judges think.

The judges aren't there just to provide feedback to the participants—they're also there to give the audience the "view from the inside"—to educate everyone about how a contestant's entry would work (or not work) if it were a freelance assignment.

Readers who don't want to be swayed by the judges can just not read the judges' commentary.


Vic Wertz wrote:

The judges aren't there just to provide feedback to the participants—they're also there to give the audience the "view from the inside"—to educate everyone about how a contestant's entry would work (or not work) if it were a freelance assignment.

Readers who don't want to be swayed by the judges can just not read the judges' commentary.

While I understand that, it just seems that a wrap up after voting is closed for a round would be a better method to explain the reasoning behind how a judge views an entry. Suggesting that people not read the judge comments is nice but human nature tends to head the other way in contest related situations. Just the existence of this thread proves that people think with, or because of, the judges more than one would like.

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka mamaursula

Wow, way to be open minded and look at the entries for their strengths as well as perceived weaknesses. I thought we were past the sour grapes phase of the contest.


I did not read the judges comments before I voted unless someone was on the fence. I read the item, and then immediately replied or I jotted down my own notes which basically read as yes, no, or maybe.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

I liked many of the entries, and I found it hard voting for only 8. I don't understand those who say only a couple were worthy of their vote. Even if an entry isn't perfect, there is often a lot going for it that makes it valuable.

I think designing an organization within the word count that fits into the crowded campaign setting is a challenge. And some were up to it more than others I think. I sketched out a couple organizations earlier, only to find out there was a lot of overlap with existing groups. So i can see the challenge in this round. I think for the most part, the contestants did a great job.

I read the judges' comments, but I didn't take them as gospel truth. In fact, I personally disagreed with several of the judges on many entries -- not because I think I know better, or because I presume to know Golarion better, but because I know what I like. And the entries that interested me the most got my vote. The ones that played it really safe, even if they fit in the world well, didn't get my vote.

Star Voter Season 6

Nukruh wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:

The judges aren't there just to provide feedback to the participants—they're also there to give the audience the "view from the inside"—to educate everyone about how a contestant's entry would work (or not work) if it were a freelance assignment.

Readers who don't want to be swayed by the judges can just not read the judges' commentary.

While I understand that, it just seems that a wrap up after voting is closed for a round would be a better method to explain the reasoning behind how a judge views an entry. Suggesting that people not read the judge comments is nice but human nature tends to head the other way in contest related situations. Just the existence of this thread proves that people think with, or because of, the judges more than one would like.

Why would you not want people reading insightful comentary? I always read the judge commentary before voting. Sometimes it will persway me, other times I will disagree and actively oppose it. But I always find it interesting and helpful in assessing an entry.

Dark Archive

Mr. Swagger wrote:
I did not read the judges comments before I voted unless someone was on the fence. I read the item, and then immediately replied or I jotted down my own notes which basically read as yes, no, or maybe.

Ditto. I read the judges posts the first year, and promised myself to never again do that. I'd rather make my own decisions, and then look back at the judges thoughts and see where we agreed and disagreed (or what they caught that I totally missed!).

I also went back and looked at them again, a day or two later, as I was in some sort of terriblenogoodverybad mood when I read them the first time, and didn't want my votes being entirely the result of low blood sugar. :)

The second time, I had no trouble find eight to vote for, and even ended up with ten, counting the maybes, and had to winnow out the ideas I found most game-usable / inspiring from those ten to get it down to eight.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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Nukruh wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:

The judges aren't there just to provide feedback to the participants—they're also there to give the audience the "view from the inside"—to educate everyone about how a contestant's entry would work (or not work) if it were a freelance assignment.

Readers who don't want to be swayed by the judges can just not read the judges' commentary.

While I understand that, it just seems that a wrap up after voting is closed for a round would be a better method to explain the reasoning behind how a judge views an entry. Suggesting that people not read the judge comments is nice but human nature tends to head the other way in contest related situations. Just the existence of this thread proves that people think with, or because of, the judges more than one would like.

You've missed my point. I'm not *in any way* suggesting that everyone should skip the judges' commentary. Quite the opposite—I'm saying that part of the judges' role is educating the community about issues that professionals see that the voters may miss, and that it's actually a *good thing* that the judges' have the ability to sway voters. I mentioned that those people who choose not to take advantage of the education the judges are offering have the option to skip those posts, but that's not at all the main point—that's an aside.

Let me give you a specific example. The final round is a proposal for a 32-page adventure module that will be produced for sale. The judges have far more knowledge about what constitutes a marketable 32-page adventure than the average voter. If one of the submissions is way over scope—say, something that the judges know *can't actually be done* in 32 pages, something that the average voter may not recognize—we *want* the judges feedback to sway voters away from that proposal. And the same is true in a smaller scale throughout the competition.

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

As the person ultimately responsible for developing the adventure the winner will write (and any additional assignments given to runners-up), I can't encourage people enough to read the judges' comments before voting. Remember that the public is acting as a collective hiring manager for Paizo, and if you vote for someone whose work will take longer than usual to develop, there can be cascading effects in terms of the module coming out on time, as well as other products waiting in line behind it or in production concurrently. The judges are there to let you know some of the real implications of your decisions, and those implications can affect when you get products and the quality of the final product.

So sure, you don't have to read anything, but if you want to help Paizo find the best possible freelancer to work with us for years to come, then I strongly advise it.

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

Hey Mark, was there any particular proposal from the past 4 years that jumped out at you as something that would be easy to develop into a 32 page module? The 2010 Cult of Ebon Destroyers received good feedback from the judges for that quality, maybe that's a good starting example? Is there a thread anywhere that discusses the expected word count to develop different story elements, encounters, new creatures, ect...? Any advice, links, direction would be greatly appreciated, many thanks for your time!


Clark Peterson wrote:
benjover wrote:


Yikes! I was with you until this very scary line. I hope you don't ever seriously wonder about freedom of speech being a "good thing".
That's taking her comment out of context and isn't fair. Her main point, as I understand it, is not much different than mom's best advice: "If you dont have anything nice to say, dont say anything at all."

I got her main point. As I said I was with her until that line, but any time anybody questions freedom of speech in any aspect/context it makes my skin crawl. And I simply said I hoped that wasn't what she really meant by that line. So thanks for defending her but I'm sure she's more than capable of expressing herself and clearing up any missgivings her line on freedom of speech may have incurred...if she feels so inclined, if not, no biggie, it's off topic anyway.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

benjover wrote:
Clark Peterson wrote:
So thanks for defending her but I'm sure she's more than capable of expressing herself and clearing up any missgivings her line on freedom of speech may have incurred...if she feels so inclined, if not, no biggie, it's off topic anyway.

I'm not speaking for her. I'm speaking for me. I'm telling you not to take people's comments out of context. You might want to consider mom's timeless wisdom (or perhaps, in this case, Abraham Lincoln's).

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

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Vic Wertz wrote:
Nukruh wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:

The judges aren't there just to provide feedback to the participants—they're also there to give the audience the "view from the inside"—to educate everyone about how a contestant's entry would work (or not work) if it were a freelance assignment.

Readers who don't want to be swayed by the judges can just not read the judges' commentary.

While I understand that, it just seems that a wrap up after voting is closed for a round would be a better method to explain the reasoning behind how a judge views an entry. Suggesting that people not read the judge comments is nice but human nature tends to head the other way in contest related situations. Just the existence of this thread proves that people think with, or because of, the judges more than one would like.

You've missed my point. I'm not *in any way* suggesting that everyone should skip the judges' commentary. Quite the opposite—I'm saying that part of the judges' role is educating the community about issues that professionals see that the voters may miss, and that it's actually a *good thing* that the judges' have the ability to sway voters. I mentioned that those people who choose not to take advantage of the education the judges are offering have the option to skip those posts, but that's not at all the main point—that's an aside.

Let me give you a specific example. The final round is a proposal for a 32-page adventure module that will be produced for sale. The judges have far more knowledge about what constitutes a marketable 32-page adventure than the average voter. If one of the submissions is way over scope—say, something that the judges know *can't actually be done* in 32 pages, something that the average voter may not recognize—we *want* the judges feedback to sway voters away from that proposal. And the same is true in a smaller scale throughout the competition.

If I may add a postscript to Vic's excellent comments.

Serious contestants should really do their best to maintain perspective. This is not a zero-sum contest where the results are strictly binary ("pass/fail or good/bad").

I'm not trying to self-promote here, but in 2010 I wrote an ambitious adventure pitch ("Doom of the Dream Thieves") that, as Vic described, could not be written in 32 pages. Judges universally said that, and encouraged people not to vote for my proposal. I was too inexperienced to recognize the scope of what I was pitching, and Matt Goodall won the contest that year- and he deserved it.

But the story didn't end for me. I went on to write some mechanics, and then two PFS adventures, and eventually a 32 page module.

Everything I could have gained from the contest, I ended up getting/doing anyway.

It took a little longer and I had to work my way up a little bit. The judges ended up doing me a favor.

The judges really are looking out for the best interests of everyone, and even if you don't win the "jackpot", it doesn't necessarily mean that you've lost.

Try to keep that perspective.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Well said, Jim.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

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Jim Groves wrote:


If I may add a postscript to Vic's excellent comments.

Serious contestants should really do their best to maintain perspective. This is not a zero-sum contest where the results are strictly binary ("pass/fail or good/bad").

I'm not trying to self-promote here, but in 2010 I wrote an ambitious adventure pitch ("Doom of the Dream Thieves") that, as Vic described, could not be written in 32 pages. Judges universally said that, and encouraged people not to vote for my proposal. I was too inexperienced to recognize the scope of what I was pitching, and Matt Goodall won the contest that year- and he deserved it.

But the story didn't end for me. I went on to write some mechanics, and then two PFS adventures, and eventually a 32 page module.

Everything I could have gained from the contest, I ended up getting/doing anyway.

It took a little longer and I had to work my way up a little bit. The judges ended up doing me a favor.

The judges really are looking out for the best interests of everyone, and even if you don't win the "jackpot", it doesn't necessarily mean that you've lost.

Try to keep that perspective.

Great, great stuff Jim!

And let me say, we all knew you had it in you. You just over did it. And now look at the amazing work you are doing! Same with Jason. He didn't win it all, but he is a major freelancer for Paizo. And there are others. Boomer, for instance. Superstar is about finding that person in that moment. Sometimes it just isnt quite your time. Something else needs to happen to you or for you first. Great example.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

Points to Jim's new module: ----> here!

Looks very cool!

As Jim says, it isn't all or nothing. I keep seeing Jesse Benner's (Top 8, 2010) name on what seems like every second product Paizo does at the moment.

It's a learning curve, and RPG Superstar really opens the doors for people. Both for those who compete to show their stuff, but also for the public, including those who want to become freelancers and get published, to see how the process works.

You don't have to read the judges comments, agree with them, or let them influence your vote, but there is a LOT of very useful insight into what makes a successful gaming product in the RPG Superstar boards.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

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I dont want to be too much of a tease...but I don't think you will be disappointed with the monsters from round 3 :)

I can't say much, but there are some really, really good ones. And even the ones I dont give a recommendation to are good. There are no really bad grades this round.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

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Clark Peterson wrote:

I dont want to be too much of a tease...but I don't think you will be disappointed with the monsters from round 3 :)

I can't say much, but there are some really, really good ones. And even the ones I dont give a recommendation to are good. There are no really bad grades this round.

*Feels all proud and excited now.*

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Clark Peterson wrote:

I dont want to be too much of a tease...but I don't think you will be disappointed with the monsters from round 3 :)

I can't say much, but there are some really, really good ones. And even the ones I dont give a recommendation to are good. There are no really bad grades this round.

Well, that certainly sounds more encouraging than the feedback leading into Round 2. Putting on some Tom Petty now: "The wa-a-a-iting in the hardest part."

Liberty's Edge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2012 , Star Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 9

*Whew*

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4

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Clark Peterson wrote:
I dont want to be too much of a tease...but

Tease!! And so unbecoming of a Demon Prince. Tsk, tsk.

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka mamaursula

Clark Peterson wrote:

I dont want to be too much of a tease...but I don't think you will be disappointed with the monsters from round 3 :)

I can't say much, but there are some really, really good ones. And even the ones I dont give a recommendation to are good. There are no really bad grades this round.

Oh dear God Clark, you're making my heart go pitter patter already. This is killing me! I am going to have to hide this thread from Andrew.

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Clark Peterson wrote:
I can't say much, but there are some really, really good ones. And even the ones I dont give a recommendation to are good. There are no really bad grades this round.

"Except for Chris. He should be ashamed." ;p

That's good! I'm excited to see these things.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Yeah, I felt a definite sigh of relief echoing round the guildhall. Not long to wait now!


Time moves so slowly between the rounds...

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

You wouldn't say that if you were on this side of things. Reviewing 16 monsters in a single weekend is rough.

Doubly so if you're running a fever. :-(

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

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Neil Spicer wrote:

You wouldn't say that if you were on this side of things. Reviewing 16 monsters in a single weekend is rough.

Doubly so if you're running a fever. :-(

*Sends Neil a bottle of whiskey and a card saying "Irish Chicken Soup. Get well soon."*

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Get well soon Neil.

From this third side of things (voter / judge / contestant), time stutters. The three days between when Paizo reveals the task and when we have to submit is incredibly short - particularly when, for most (all?) of us, you factor in jobs and family life. The wait for Judges' feedback is very long. Time stretches infinitely, and there's nothing much to do except prepare for a next round that I may or may not be involved in. Then the voting starts and at least there are comments and feedback flooding in. Even though we can't say much I know I was checking my thread a couple of times a day.

Fast - slow - medium - fast - slow - medium... lather rinse repeat.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

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Neil Spicer wrote:

You wouldn't say that if you were on this side of things. Reviewing 16 monsters in a single weekend is rough.

Doubly so if you're running a fever. :-(

The only two good things about Neil being sick are:

1. If true, it proves he is not a robot sent from the future, as terminators don't get sick;

and

2. It reduces the chance of me getting "Neiled" in the Judges Chambers.

Despite these many positives, get well soon Neil!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

If anything, the Paizo website being down slowed me up more than this plague. I've got 5 more reviews to do. So, get yours in place if you don't want to get "Neiled"... ;-P

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

I've got all my initial thoughts down and in, as you know because you have seen them :) I've got 8 of my 16 full reviews done. Looking good! I see you are grinding away, as always...

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Yes. As always. Wild horses couldn't drag me away.

Nor rain, sleet, or snow... ;-)


Hope you're feeling better Neil!

Contributor

*phew* Done with my reviews of the 16.

I didn't do a hardcore analysis of everyone's math (I included a blurb at the start of each of my comments explaining why), just spot-checked a few things, and focused on developer and gameplay issues for each creature.

Overall, this was a good round with a lot of interesting submissions. Even the things that I felt were only "B" or even "C" quality could easily be salvaged with some development tweaks or changing the CR.

This is going to be a hard round for voters, there are a lot of good choices.

Good job, Top 16!

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Hodge Podge

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Let's send Neil a gift basket!

Spoiler:
of EXPLOSIVE RUNES!

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

Dammit, Chris...why didn't I think of that? Well played, sir.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

I've posted all my round 3 full reviews. I don't think I have a C grade in the bunch. A couple B-'s. There are a couple real strong ones. A few missteps, as always. This is a contest where the contestants grow over time. Sometimes a step forward, sometimes a step back. But everyone really did a great job. Again, our bar is high because it has to be. Steel sharpens steel.

I think you guys are going to really love the vast majority, if not all, of the monsters from this round. Even the ones I didn't recommend are really good. Even my lowest graded monster is still really killer with amazing stat block execution and good writing.

I should also say Neil and Sean are rules machines. They absolutely tear up the stat blocks (despite what Sean says, above, he digs in deep). Unless you become a professional freelancer for Paizo, you will literally never get this kind of feedback anywhere else. I'm just glad to be able to provide my few thoughts. Their stat-fu is totally out of this world.

You guys are in for a real treat.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

Totally no fair - it is the 14th here in Denmark already. How am I supposed to wait until 23:00 tonight?

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Jacob Trier wrote:
Totally no fair - it is the 14th here in Denmark already. How am I supposed to wait until 23:00 tonight?

I can't wait for you to see my comments on your monster, Jacob. ;)

I won't say if that is good or bad, but I had some fun with yours.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Clark, I thought you claimed not to be a tease! Poor Jacob :)

13 hours to go... Only one sleep left!

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 8

Clark wrote:

Even my lowest graded monster is still really killer with amazing stat block execution and good writing.

So whose first thought was "My stat block was amazing and my writing good. Darn it"? Swiftly followed by the thought, "Actually, maybe my stat block wasn't amazing," hoping that you'd made some small mistake?

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

Clark Peterson wrote:
Jacob Trier wrote:
Totally no fair - it is the 14th here in Denmark already. How am I supposed to wait until 23:00 tonight?

I can't wait for you to see my comments on your monster, Jacob. ;)

I won't say if that is good or bad, but I had some fun with yours.

o_0

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Standback

Clark Peterson wrote:

I can't wait for you to see my comments on your monster, Jacob. ;)

I won't say if that is good or bad, but I had some fun with yours.

Now that's just cruel.

Of course, "cruel" is a major feature of the job description.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

You'll get used to cruelty in this industry. If I've learned anything, it's that your developers like to tease you. Your fellow freelancers like to tease you. Even the fans and reviewers tease you. It comes with the territory...

Spoiler:

...along with a lot of other cool stuff.

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