This post was originaly written for the 25th ludumdare. There is a slightly revised version that better suits my views after 10 participations here

 

While there is only 1 day and a half left before we receive the ratings of our games (and if you are like me, you are probably hyper-excited about it) I think I should warn you: you WILL be disapointed.

This is my 4th participation, and most of the time I see posts like “woohoo! 27th overall and 17th in fun”. And sometime I see some posts like…
– Seriously, only 3/5 in [graphics/audio/…]?
– Ok that was cool, but I will now take a break from making video games
– What’s the point of making a game if you are up against professionals?
– The rating system is broken!
– Very disapointed with my results :(
– A-ha! 33th in fun, better that notch!
– did people actually played my game?

This is NOT a competition. I think a lot of people feel like it is, but they are wrong. This is an oportunity to learn new things, to have fun, to gain some experience, to try new things…. but this is not a competition.

How do you rate games?
– Do you have strict criteria for each category (This is ruining the game / well this is not terrible… / It does the job / it works really well with the game / I will remember that game because of it), or do you go with your guts?
– Do you leave the category empty or do you put one star when you feel there is no humor/mood/… ?
– Do you give/remove an extra star without really thinking about it just because you liked or disliked the game ?
– Do you give some stars in humor if something made you smile, even if it is more cute than funny ?
– Do you always finish the games or do you sometime feels that you have seen enough after a few minutes (or even a few seconds) ?
– Do you feel more positive towards a game because the guy is a friend / made you want to play the game / is one of those entry everyone is talking about ?
– Do you give less star if you don’t see the connection with the theme? If there is no goats or kittens in the game? (I know some people do)

Everyone has a specific way of rating, and you will only be rated by a few random strangers.

If you think this is a competition, then you can genuinely feel that the rating system is broken and unfair. If so, try to think about it in another way: a few random strangers took the time to play your game and rate it to give clues on what you should improve. A guy that only gives you 1 or 2 stars in each category has something in common with another guy that will spend 15 minutes on it to give you plenty of stars: If your audio is fantastic, they will both notice it. If your game is fun despite really poor visuals, they will rate accordingly.

So let’s say you focused really hard on the audio and not really much on anything else. You get the following ratings :
Mood 3.8
Overall 3.3
Audio 2.8
Innovation 2.2
Fun 2.0
Theme 1.8
Graphics 1.5
Humor 1.1

Only 2.8 in audio. That is not bad, but you were expecting more, obviously. But if you look at the other categories, you can clearly see that people noticed your efforts. THAT is what matters.
More importantly, people found your game VERY moody. It is a bit difficult to see the connections, but I feel that some categories greatly affects others :
– fun, mood and innovation will boost your overall rating
– humor, graphics and innovation boost the fun
– audio and graphics boosts the mood

Of course there may be other factors that are hard to describe without an actual game (and I believe that categories like controls, level design, narrative… would be a great addition), but with only 1.5 in graphics I can safely assume that your rating in the mood category (nearly 4) is mostly due to the audio. And that is a fantastic result.

Now for the ranking, let’s be honest: you are just 1 entry. Among the 1327 entries there are professionals and people with better skills and more experience than you. Ranking in the top 200 for a category already means you did an excellent job.

If you are hoping to get to the top 25/50… you are probably unrealistic.


8 Responses to “Don’t get your expectations too high”

  1. Codexus says:

    Being disappointed by the results is part of the LD experience. I brace myself and expect to be disappointed but I’m always a bit depressed after the results anyway.

    I know that people don’t really like my games very much but I won’t stop making the kind of games I want to make just because they are not popular!

  2. krutech says:

    Compete with yourself and your last entry. You wont get dissapointed.

    • That’s exactly what I do. I aim to rank at least as high as my entry for the previous LD. Especially with more submissions each time, wanting to rank higher each time forces me to get better :)

      • sorceress says:

        Percentiles make more sense. Unless the community profile significantly changes, then you’d expect to score in a similar percentile each time, independent of how big LD gets.

        And (partly) because of that I think that the winner medals would be better if they were percentile based achievements. :)

    • That works until you actually do place in the top spots.

      Last time, my jam entry got #3rd place in innovation. When I made this entry for this LD, of course I was competing with my last self… But that is a pretty narrow window to hit, you know?

  3. Nolan C says:

    That’s why I do the Jam. The smaller numbers make me feel better.

  4. Ariake81 says:

    i was just glad i managed to get something made in the end, ludum is mainly a great thing for focusing your ambitions down so it’s worth doing it for the reason alone.

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