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RPGM3 Minigame Contest results

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  • RPGM3 Minigame Contest results

    This contest, which was designed to showcase the community's RPGM3 users' skill at creating interesting and fun minigames despite the software's supposed limitations, began on December 2, 2008, and ended on January 18, 2009, with one extension given for one entrant. The categories the entries were being judged by were Originality, Tech Proficiency, Fun Factor, and Aesthetics. Each was worth 25 points, for a total possible score of 100.

    One entrant seemed to focus mostly on aesthetics, with one of his two entries completely shattering my expectations of what was possible using the software. Another seemed to focus his energies on the technical details, and the third had no real standout categories, but instead seemed to abide by the axiom, "Slow and steady wins the race."

    In my eyes as a game designer who uses RPGM3, and considers minigames his specialty, I chose as the sole judge to deem the Tech Proficiency category as the tiebreaker. As I judged the games, in writing the reviews, I assigned a point total to each category, but did not add up the points until the very end, lest I knew the scores of the games I played earlier, and then padded or decreased the score of a later game if I thought it was more or less "deserving" of winning. This was, I thought, the only fair way of judging, as I was the sole judge. After tallying the totals, it turned out that two games were tied for second, which ordinarily would not have been a problem, as I had already set up a tiebreaker category. Problem was, both of the games tied for second had exactly the same (pretty poor) score for this category.

    So I threw it out to the entrants to rank the remaining three categories in order of importance to them, assigning a value of 3, 2, or 1 to each. The consensus was that Fun Factor would become the tiebreaker category.

    The results are as follows:

    Wavelength's Hell's Dining Room came in first, with a score of 88 out of 100.
    Pagerron's Secret Agent X came in second after the second tiebreaker with a score of 63 out of 100.
    Lausen's Animal Dash came in third after the second tiebreaker, also with a score of 63 out of 100.

    The full reviews are posted below.
    Last edited by Perversion; 02-10-2009, 11:06 PM.

  • #2
    Re: RPGM3 Minigame Contest results

    Lausen's Animal Dash: A Beautiful Mess

    First off, I'll come right out and say that Animal Dash is one of the most original games, mini or otherwise, that I've ever loaded into RPGM3. Graphically, it's good bordering on great; its 3 levels are nicely varied, and each has its own unique feel, helped by the music Lausen chose for each. After a rocky (read:frustrating) start, I came to realize that not only was this a race with different animals in different courses, but it also harkened back to old 8-bit games that required extreme precision and lots and lots of trial and error, with many, many restarts. Once I put aside the initial frustration, I came to realize how wonderful this game was in its conception, layout and planning, and how I did not envy Lausen in the slightest bit in terms of playtesting, which must have been a beast of an undertaking.

    Unfortunately, I'm not able in good conscience to place a descriptor of "wonderful" on its execution, but more on that later.

    The minigame itself has the player enter the Animal Dash room, and then begin the first level using the SLOOOOOW puppy. It's a race against the clock to get to the checkpoints in order to add a bit more time to make it to the next checkpoint and so on. Scattered between checkpoints are what Lausen calls "coins," which are really magic circle events, and which increase your score for the level. Once you beat the first level with the puppy, you are able to replay it using a quicker animal that you've unlocked, or go to the next level using either animal. Revisiting each of the three levels using newly unlocked animals enables you to try for a higher score. There's even a high score menu option for each level, so there's actually a pretty decent amount of replay value in this game. Just be prepared to cringe, swear, and/or throw your controller at the ground every time it turns to morning in the game, because, unless I just really suck, you will restart a LOT, especially on the second level. By way of comparison, the third level, whose native animal is the gorilla, is a relative breeze, and is the prettiest of the three levels as well.

    Again, the layout and concept are pretty amazing. Each new animal is faster than the last, and theoretically enables you to build up higher scores on previously completed levels.

    Unfortunately, the key word in this entire review is "theoretically," and is where the word "mess" comes into play in the review's title. In execution, this game is almost completely and totally broken. I played through the puppy level, and after many tries and much frustration, finally completed it. I had a smile on my face when I realized that I could then go back to the puppy's level with the much faster frog. Unfortunately, that smile quickly dissipated when, after failing on my first try due to trying to boost my score, the game reverted to the human avatar used when not playing the minigames, who was somehow stuck in a completely black area with no menu options and no way to see where I was going, and thereby, with no resort but to quit to the title screen. Luckily, I'd saved my progress after playing the first minigame in the file, or I might have completely given up.

    I moved on to the frog's level, and after many, many more tries and much more frustration, finally completed it. I then unlocked the gorilla, and again used it to play the frog's level. And again, I got stuck in a black area with no means of leaving short of resetting.

    Luckily, on the next playthroughs, I breezed through both the puppy and frog's level, and after only two tries, beat the gorilla's level. I then completely quit the minigame, saved in a different room, came back into the Animal Dash room, and tried my luck with the newly-unlocked chicken on the gorilla's level. I actually beat it on the first try with a good number of coins collected, and then the game entered an auto-event loop, which crashed the game.

    Finally, I tried the chicken on the puppy's level, and after failing the first time, watched the infamous display on screen flashes. Probably 12 of them. For probably close to 45 seconds. I know they are inevitable, but after having just experienced 3 game-crashing bugs, seeing that many screen flashes really deflated any enthusiasm I once had for this game. And to top it off, when I tried to again play the puppy's level with the chicken (the spastic chicken is always fun to use in any given situation), the display on for the second checkpoint did not activate. Meaning, if there was some hidden "achievement" for collecting all the coins, it was impossible to achieve, because without the added time at the second checkpoint, I was doomed to failure. It was at this point that I gave up.

    Now for the scoring...

    Originality: As I said in the very beginning of the review, this is in my mind one of the most original concepts I've seen made with RPGM3, and as such, award it 25 out of 25 points.

    Tech Proficiency: I hesitate in these reviews to actually go into the edit screen to see how these minigames were made, and as such, will base my score in this category solely on my knowledge of the software, and how complex of an undertaking the game must have been based on what I played. For this category, then, the use of time (night turning into morning) was used brilliantly, as was the neat high score menu option (even though it was obviously a fairly simple val cond branch). However, and I hate to dock points in two categories, but multiple bugs that completely break the game need to be addressed in this category, as well as aesthetics, but not as heavily in that category. Therefore, I award 7 points out of 25 in this category.

    Fun Factor: At first, the game was fun. Then it was frustrating. Then it was very frustrating. Then I realized the precision-based trial and error scope of the game, and came to enjoy it because my own skills were being fully tested. Then the game-breaking bugs occured, causing me to replay the same levels more than I wanted to, and it suddenly wasn't so fun anymore. Granted, subsequent level playthroughs were a breeze, but a save point in the Animal Dash room might have saved a bit of frustration. Then again, if there hadn't been any bugs, it wouldn't need one. This category gets 16 out of 25 points.

    Aesthetics: In my initial judging criteria, I placed bugs in this category. Ordinarily, I would consider a small bug that does not completely wreck the game part of its polish, which would in my mind be judged under aesthetics. Unfortunately, I didn't anticipate bugs of this magnitude occuring, and as I've already docked the score pretty severely already, I'm going to use this category mainly to focus on the game's look and feel. The sound effects are subtle but well-used, and the levels (especially the gorilla level) are visually appealing. Of course, there are the requisite Lausen typos and spelling errors, but nothing that was too distracting. Unfortunately, undermining the look of the levels are the extremely clunky, ugly, and distracting display on screen flashes (which I know are unavoidable, but which take a game with a pretty decent amount of polish, and almost completely subsume it), and of course, the oft-mentioned bugs. Therefore, I award this category 15 out of 25 points.

    Final score for Animal Dash: 63 points out of a possible 100.


    • #3
      Re: RPGM3 Minigame Contest results

      Lausen's Temple of Despair: A Gorgeous Endeavour of Little Consequence

      This was the first of all the minigame entries I played, but the second of Lausen's two games I'm writing a review for. I came away from it impressed, but not blown away. Lausen's main strength, it appears, is extremely detailed, bordering on gorgeous, field maps. His dungeon design and indoor decoration are no slouches, either, judging from Animal Dash and the Pavilion Arcade lobby of sorts connecting the two minigames in this file (Temple of Despair is set completely outdoors). However, his "opportunity areas" include spelling and grammar and, at least in this minigame, a tad more outside-of-the-box thinking. Which is by no means meant to insinuate that this minigame is boring or unenjoyable, because it's actually quite fun for a simple little, "Insert tab A into slot B"-type puzzle game. Unfortunately, though, there's not much more to the gameplay than two fairly rudimentary puzzles.

      The conceit of the game is that you are an unknown raider trying to gain entrance to the Temple of Despair. The "unknown raider" character model is the same as the one I used for the main character in my Series 1, color and all, so I'll award at least 7% of one point in the aesthetics category for choosing such a comely young lass as the main character of this minigame. Unfortunately for Lausen, .07 rounds down to zero, so no bonus points awarded here.

      Visually, again, the game is pretty damn amazing. There are three main areas, including Water, Cemetary, and Main Shut (?). Water is nice, with a deep gorge in the middle, and 4 of the large statue heads within, and the demon statues as event triggers. Main Shut is impressive as well, with a large temple seemingly carved from the side of a mountain. But Cemetary was my favorite of the three. It was enveloped in fog, and by itself looked like a place of burial shrouded in mystery. But my favorite part about it was climbing and climbing and CLIMBING the tall mountain, and looking out at the vista before me (I did this after "beating" this area), and seeing the shards of light shining on the "goal" area through the fog off in the distance, and then turning around and seeing the dim lights from the temple itself barely visible through the fog, which was, for lack of a better word, breathtaking. And then descending the mountain and approaching the path back to Main Shut, and again seeing the lights from the temple glowing through the fog was, again, pretty damn lovely. In terms of map/level design and decoration, this game made me truly appreciate Lausen's subtle eye for detail as a design artist.

      Everything else in the game, unfortunately, is as subtle as a sledgehammer to the face. Which again, is not to say it's bad. Just a bit disappointing that the gameplay itself brings to mind a, "been there, done that" feeling, and that the effects Lausen uses (aside from the lovely "ring of light" effects and the evocative choices for theme music) are so heavy-handed.

      The gameplay itself requires you to retrieve two crystal balls (alternately called "Orbs" and "Spheers"...Lausen, Spheer is the name of a wonderful RPGM2 game; I think you meant "Spheres," unless you were giving homage to that game, in which case I'll recant that last statement), and place them on a pair of pedestals. To obtain one orb, you need to rotate two statues in the Water area until you hit the right combination (I'm not sure if there is supposed to be a pattern or any rhyme or reason to turning them 2, 3, or 5 times...I just fiddled with them until I heard them click into place), at which point the water in the gorge fills, and a crank appears on a nearby slab of granite (a nice visual effect, actually). You are then able to walk across the newly-formed land bridge to retrieve the orb, and place it on a pedestal outside of the temple, at which point it bursts into flames (another nice touch).

      The puzzle to obtain the other orb is exceedingly simplistic, and flies in the face of my request to refrain from submitting, "Use key A to open treasure chest B"-type puzzles. Well, it DOES use a "stone head" and a coffin in place of a key and a treasure chest, but in all reality, it's the same thing. The head on the altar (not alter) effect created by manipulating invisible events and probably landforms was an unexpected surprise, however.

      Obtain orb two, place on pedestal, orb bursts into flames, screen flashes and shakes (for just a bit too long), and with one last artistic flourish descending into the tower (which is, again, a nice touch), the minigame ends.

      Now for the scoring...

      Originality: Ho hum. Two drab, undemanding puzzles, wrapped within a gossamer frame. This category is deserving of 10 out of 25 points, and even that's being generous.

      Tech Proficiency: Hum drum. There's nothing to see here, folks. Move on. In reality, though, without going into the edit screen, I can only envision a few simplistic val cond branches. As a judge (the sole judge, in this case), this category makes or breaks a game for me, as far as the contest is concerned, and unfortunately, this minigame is sorely lacking. A score of 8 out of 25 seems fitting.

      Fun Factor: One-half of this minigame's saving grace. As critical as I was in the previous two categories, I'm leaning toward being a bit more lenient here. Reason being, the minigame is far from bad, and is actually decently enjoyable. An appropriate score is 19 out of 25.

      Aesthetics: The other half of this minigame's saving grace. It's just unfortunate that Lausen didn't remove his workprint placeholders, because the polish of the game suffers accordingly. "Main Shut"? As I played through, I had no clue what that even meant, until I placed the two "spheers" (ugh), and the location changed to "Main Open" with an overwrought flourish of screen flashes and shakes. To call your main area, "Main," and to designate it, visible to the player's eyes, as "Shut" and "Open" reeks of amateurishness. Likewise, when the area called "Water" is solved, the map's name changes to, "Water 2." Placeholders in a workprint are called placeholders for a reason. Add in the requisite Lausen typos and spelling errors (Temple of Despair is alternately known as Temple of Dispair in a few places), and what could have been a perfect score in this category instead is relegated to 17 out of 25 points. Which is a real shame, because the field maps in this are unbelievably great.

      Final score for Temple of Despair: 54 points out of 100 possible.


      • #4
        Re: RPGM3 Minigame Contest results

        Pagerron's Secret Agent X: A Low-Key Snippet of Entertainment

        I went into the file not knowing what to expect besides disarming detonations placed around a Freedom Tower, and was surprised to see a young boy in an arcade. The game itself is not really all that complex, and mainly reverts to the trial and error format. The goal is to disarm four barrels laid out around the central tower before dawn. At areas around the perimeter, mines have been placed, and you lose a life for each one you step on. Luckily, there is a place to receive an extra life.

        And really, that's about all there is to the game. I solved it on my third try, and left it satiated, but wanting more. This game is SO short that it does not even require a save point. I loved the "coming soon" storytellers in the arcade. I've really never seen storytellers along with sound effects used quite like Pagerron does here.

        After writing the two novel-length Lausen reviews, I was hoping to be able to go in great detail in this review as well, but there seriously is just not much to write about.

        Now for the scores...

        Originality: Secret agent disarms explosives from around a Freedom Tower...not THAT original, but not cliched, either. If you could put Jack Bauer in an RPGM game, he'd be right at home in this one. Secret Agent X is deserving of a 16 out of a possible 25 in this category.

        Tech Proficiency: As I mentioned in one of Lausen's reviews, for this contest, this category makes or breaks a game for me. And in this case, there's really just not too much going on. A few invisible events to take away one life each, a few variables, and a few val cond branches are all I can envision this game consisting of. Therefore, this category's score is going to have to take a beating with 7 out of 25 points.

        Fun Factor: The game was really too short to be all that engrossing, but it did hold my interest for the time I played it. Not the most fun I've had with RPGM3, but not utterly lacking in enjoyment either. A respectable 18 out of 25 points seems appropriate.

        Aesthetics: Here's the point-grab category for this game. The storytellers used in the coming soon arcade games are great, the sound effects throughout are superb (I loved how Pagerron used some sound effects and turned them into a rhythm or beat of sorts), and the area with the tower is not the best I've seen, but perfectly acceptable. No spelling errors, typos, or bugs, either (although Chicken Coup threw me for a loop at first). This does not deserve a perfect score in this category, but comes close with 22 out of 25 points.

        Final score for Secret Agent X: 63 points out of a possible 100.


        • #5
          Re: RPGM3 Minigame Contest results

          Wavelength's Hell's Dining Room: A Minigame Stretched to Macro Proportions

          This was the last of the four minigames I played, and also the last review I embarked upon. I'm glad, because the game, while entertaining, goes on for way, way too long. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it, because I did. Wavelength mentioned something about running out of time to make more levels. If this is ever released as a full-fledged, stand-alone game (which it's pretty close to being in its current form), I would suggest adding new diners, maybe a different room layout, but most especially, make each "level" shorter. I got through six evenings with 12 hit points remaining, and I really just lost all interest in soldiering on for the last three evenings. On top of that, my first battle on the first evening resulted in the main character being stunned for about 4 rounds of SLOW RPGM3 combat, and I lost more than half my hit points in that one combat alone. I know it's random if you get stunned or not, and Wave has no control over how the battles progress, but after playing the three other minigames without any battles, this just cemented how much I detest battling in RPGM3.

          In fact, from the first battle on, I cheated and wrote down each diner's orders on a sheet of paper so I could avoid any more fighting. Unfortunately, through my own carelessness, I ended up in three more battles anyway.

          Now so far, this review sounds pretty scathing. It's really not meant to be. I've just found that, as I write these reviews, I guess I'm a fairly harsh critic, and coming directly from playing the game to writing this, the thing that stuck in my head was that the game just went on for too long, slightly negating the fun I initially had with it.

          The game itself seems to be the flip side of Obright's Food Network-themed Pavilion Iron Chef. You play as a waitress serving sometimes quirky foods to a variety of patrons, including a family of treants, a family of demons, Burger King, and Bobby Flay. Each needs to be served an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert. The makeup of the diners changes every evening, as do their orders. You only have so long without attending to a diner's needs before they get upset, refuse further service, and fight you at the end of the evening. If you screw up their order, they will also fight you, which is bad news if it's one of the treants or demons, as the entire family gets in on the act of trying to teach you a lesson.

          If you DO forget an order (or decide not to cheat and write the answers down), you can give the diner special dishes which you sometimes earn between shifts. One actually helps you with earning bigger tips, while others just negate the between-shifts potential violence. You can also earn new skills for exemplary service. All in all, it's a very interesting play mechanic, which in a lot of cases requires a bit of strategic planning.

          The diners themselves are also suitably quirky and interesting, although through the six evenings I made it through, many of their catchphrases are repeated too often, which I cannot fault, taking into account the 50 lines per mode limitation. And even with this aforementioned limitation, Wavelength does an incredible job of using what appears to be a pseudo-random number generator system to vary each diner's preferences each evening. You are asked a few (sometimes silly) questions at the beginning of the game, which I'm guessing sets the initial "random" variable values. Other than my few qualms at the beginning of this review, this is a very polished, well thought-out game.

          Now for the scoring...

          Originality: I've not played Obright's Pavilion Iron Chef yet, but it seems Wavelength may have been inspired in some form by that entry in the last Pavilion contest. That in no way negates the originality on display here. The concept, the quirky characters, the often humorous dialogue...all are something I've never seen in an RPGM3 game before. Therefore, this category garners a 24 out of 25 for a score.

          Tech Proficiency: I would not even WANT to go into the edit menu for this game to try to make heads or tails of all the variables and val cond branches (many of them most likely nested) that this must contain. This is the most technically proficient game out of the four I played, and in being so, deserves a score of 25 out of 25.

          Fun Factor: As I mentioned earlier, the initial fun I was having with this slowly dwindled as it started becoming more and more repetitious. Then again, being a waitress most likely IS a repetitious job, so I will not dock too much, due to its (possibly unintentional) realism. The humor is really what makes this category shine. Again, intentional or not, I cracked a smile when Burger King ordered a McArtery Buster. My belief that this minigame should not have gone so far to the full game level without some judicious pruning of the repitition is the only thing holding this category back from perfection. As it stands, it deserves 18 out of 25 points in this category.

          Aesthetics: This is the only other category where I need to be a bit more nitpicky, not because Wavelength didn't do a splendid job here, but because there are a few small details that hold this category back from perfection. The dining room itself is nice without being overly showy, the diners have (sometimes inappropriate, in the sense of inappropriate to the situation) motions and gestures, which is better than them standing stock-still, and actually appear to be seated at the tables (inasmuch as RPGM3 allows them to look like they are seated at tables). But a few minor details take away from this polish. First, I encountered a few bugs on a number of occasions; not enough to hinder my progress, and not enough to be annoying, but bugs nonetheless. A few times at the beginning of an evening, the diners would recite their initial orders, and then I'd receive bonus money and items for really no reason, and then the same diners would repeat the same exact orders. In another case, the head chef would go into his, "OMG...we've got a riot on our hands" spiel that precedes a battle, even though the evening went perfectly. A few times, one of the kid diners would reference a brother or sister who was not at the table, and in a few cases, who I'd not even seen yet. And I would have liked the day/night timer in the upper-right corner to display evening/night, as the game was supposed to take place during dinnertime, instead of the consistent morning/noon that it displayed throughout the game. But all of these are really just very minor quibbles that only detract from the overall polish of the game in a negligible way. They do, however, hinder the game from receiving a perfect score in this category. Thus, the final score for aesthetics is 21 points out of 25.

          Final score for Hell's Dining Room: 88 points out of a possible 100.
          Last edited by Perversion; 02-10-2009, 03:10 AM.