Monthly Game Competition - What do you think?

SimeonSimeon Admin Mod
edited December 2011 in Questions Posts: 5,387

What does everyone think about a monthly game-making competition for Codea?

Here's what I have in mind:

  • The second weekend of each month we announce a theme (e.g., Fire, Justice, Greed, Insects, Cute, Dictionary)
  • You get two or three days to create and submit a game based on the theme
  • There might be some limitations, such as no custom sprite packs (until we have proper support in the app - mainly due to difficulty importing)
  • Judges play them and at the end of the month announce a winner

Should there be prizes? If so, what would you suggest.

Should we suggest a set of themes at the start of the month and decide by voting?

How should we display the entries? We could host an iPad-friendly page with the submissions, each with a nice big icon chosen by the author to represent their game.

How should we announce the winner? A video?

Would you participate in something like this? Let me know what you think.



  • BortelsBortels Mod
    Posts: 1,557

    I would say you shouldn't be able to do anything not in the stock Codea - no hackery outside of the program (and for some of us, no using beta features that aren't released yet to the world!)

    I think it sounds fun. I think the themes should be a surprise, or we might see some campaigning for something someone is already working on.

    I might go from "game" to "demo" - which might be a game, or might be something else. Love2d had a contest a while back for "best explosion" - it had to be under 4k. Inspired a lot of creativity. With "best game", how do you decide between, say, the Pacman clone (which is DANG impressive - in large part because of how faithful it is), and a game that's totally original, but not as 'good' as pacman? Judge based on creativity, good use of Codea features, and "bang for the buck".

    I don't know that I would participate by programming... it depends very much on my real-world schedule. But you can bet it would cause discussion, and I'd be deep in it :-) I think it's a fine idea.

    Posterous is pretty good - but you should consider something similar but "official", in that people could post to twolivesleft, and it would go up for download (after moderation). That would be good not just for contest winners (and runners up), but for common libraries we want to share. If the submission is really good, you might include it as an example with future versions of Codea! (You'd want to judge on both the results, and the code - is it well formed? Well commented? Does it use best practice, and is it an example of the "right way" to do things? or maybe is it just really clever?)

    Prize? I'd be happy with recognition, really - there's a ton of geek cred having your name up somewhere as "January 2012 Codea game competion winner", with a screenie and so on. Maybe a $25 apple gift card? It doesn't need to be a lot - again, the recognition as being awesome is reward enough IMHO.

  • Oh yeah - i like the idea.

    The only thing for me is.. Hah Ive got no chances to win - i started programming 1 month ago - but competition is always a good motivation. Im 14 and I was working on one game for 3 weeks (alltrough its still mess), so "a weekend" is the time i write the setup function ;) no, seriously, such contests would be great! I could Post my Game and somebody Rates it - a Dream :)

    And @Bortels : i would prefer a directly codea-forum-code-share-function to. Very good idea!

  • edited December 2011 Posts: 273

    Sounds like a great idea!

    I can imagine two categories: game and not game (cool demo). And also imagine the good folk at TouchArcade getting involved.

    Limits are almost as interesting as themes (size, time, code length, use of particular functions?)

  • BortelsBortels Mod
    Posts: 1,557

    @Maxiking - don't sell yourself short. Give it a month or so of messing with it, and reading other people's code, and you'll be amazed at what you can do. It gets much, much easier after you get some coding under your belt, and the really hard part about this sort of thing is getting ideas. I can write code mighty fast - but the creativity aspect of things is the really hard part!

  • edited December 2011 Posts: 88

    Yes, this sounds really like a good idea. I wonder if I would even be able to create a game (I am missing tons of details in good coding and basic game skills), but I see it more as a means to see what tricks you can apply within Codea.

    @Maxiking16, you might not be the only one who worries .... I see this as a very good opportunity to share best practise examples so that people like me can study them and learn.

    @Blanchot: I fully agree with you, lets make two parts: game and not game (tools, libraries, support utils for games like a clever touch, math problems, graphic routines, artists work)... The amazing thing with Codea is that it simply makes a full computer out of the iPad now, with possibilities I have always wished.

    One thing would be good (bad for the judges, maybe ;-) ): if the judges could give hints how to improve the code, or what was completely crap ... This is addition will improve the skills of us and so we might have a chance to make it better next time.

  • BortelsBortels Mod
    Posts: 1,557

    I made a little game, using built-in resources (you fly thru space, dodging asteroids) in about an hour while in a hospital waiting room. It's very possible to make something pretty cool in a couple of days. I never did clean it up and share it (I was going to do a video podcast, where I redo it from scratch, in realtime, but got nutty busy...)

  • Could be that I am thinking too complicated ...

  • BortelsBortels Mod
    Posts: 1,557

    The real issue I've seen is that people expect a static screen, and a run thru "recipe" type program (like you'd do in BASIC in the olden days) to work. Codea is on the newer, modern "processing" model - you have a setup routine, and a draw routine, and the draw routine is expected to repaint the screen each go-around. This is awesome for things like animation - but it means the old ways of doing things don't work the same.

    The new context stuff coming down the pipeline may help - it will let you draw to an image, just like you do to the screen - but you don't need to refresh the image, so your draw() loop can simply plop the image on the screen, and you can go from there. That's a little confusing, I know - I am going to try to make a demo of doing that.

    If you think of your program as drawing successive frames of a film, it makes more sense. What happens each tick? things get moved (if you're using sprites), then you draw them in their new location.

    What I really need is a good way to show the ipad and make a movie of using it. Fraps, but for the ipad. I honestly think if you can see it done, it's easier than having it described.

  • Posts: 176

    An AirPlay recorder would be sweet.

  • @Bortels: I agree, and I must admit that you cought me. I grow up with those old languages (yes, I am an old fart ...) and wonder every day what you can do with Codea. It's puzzling, indeed, but fascinating the same time. Your comparison towards a movie is a good one I think. As it is in a good game, or in displaying funny chemical things like in the examples of Andrew ( cubes, chairs,...). And although it might sound strange, but this app can be used also for simple number crunching purposes, which makes it pretty unique in my opinion.

  • BortelsBortels Mod
    Posts: 1,557

    Yep - and compared to the old 8-bit platforms, it's blindingly fast. So some things that would never have worked before ("redraw every frame? you're nuts!") are now very feasible.

  • SimeonSimeon Admin Mod
    Posts: 5,387

    Great! It sounds like there's some interest.

    Don't worry too much if you're new at programming. Technical skill will count, but the real value would come from your creative interpretation of the theme. For example, if the theme was something abstract like "isolation," there are an infinite number of games that match that theme. The main measure of the submissions would be in how interesting the interpretation of the theme is.

    Another important part to get right is how "readable" your submission is - can a judge approach your game and understand what you're trying to say? Some of that will come down to technical skill, and some of that will come down to how you choose to implement your idea.

    I'm giving thought to demos. The reason I say games is because they are a goal-directed experience. A judge can follow that experience to reach a goal and be left with an impression. A demo is harder to interpret since there is no system. We wouldn't exclude demos, but having direction and a goal would be important.

    Prizes: something like a gift card sounds good. Given that there are people from all over the world, what is the best way for us to do this? Are we able to just "gift" into someone's iTunes account, or is it more complicated?

  • @Bortels : at the moment im just trying to make my game look good, programming gets better every day. Alltrough my Code is like - mh - its complicate because i didnt put classes in yet :/

  • @Simeon - and how much Time have er got to programm?

    Because of the giftcards - this is gonna be more complicated. I think you have zo know all data of the account you want the gift to arrive...

  • SimeonSimeon Admin Mod
    Posts: 5,387

    The competition (actual programming and submission) would take place over two or three days. It's not about complexity so much as it is about your interpretation and execution of a simple idea.

    Yeah gift cards are just a thought at the moment, until we know how easy or hard it will be to arrange.

  • Ok that sounds great :)

    Or the price is to be able to give codea as a present to somebody :)

  • BortelsBortels Mod
    Posts: 1,557

    You could, in theory, simply fed-ex a gift card. At 20ish dollars, it's not a big risk. I have no idea if they work internationally.

    But again - I would participate (schedule permitting) for bragging rights!

  • NatNat
    Posts: 143

    I love the idea of such abstract themes as "isolation" or "greed".

  • BortelsBortels Mod
    Posts: 1,557

    for "greed", I'd so have to do a Smash TV remake.

  • Posts: 447

    Great idea. Good way to get people interested in the app and you can showcase the games that people make. ran a bunch of similar competitions for flash games a while back and had great games come out of it. Looks like they got Adobe to sponsor it (it was flash games after all) and top prize was a copy of Flash 8 Professional. Maybe see if Apple would go for something like this? Would also strengthen your relationship with them.

    They had themes like explore, replay, upgrade. Here's the link to the first competition:

  • beebee
    Posts: 381

    This is a good idea. I had been thinking about it since the first time I got Codea, but didn't have a chance to talk about it. :)

    Here's my thought about Codea regular code competition...

    • The code competition is held regularly, can be monthly or once in two months, etc. But there is a big code competition event held once a year. Personally I prefer small event is held once every 3 months. So, in a year, TwoLivesLeft got 4 small events and 1 big event.

    • Every event should have their own theme. For regular event, the theme should be something small but fresh. And for annual event, the theme should be something big and a bit complicated.

    • There are 3 kind of categories for competition: game/simulation, tool/library, demo/sample. Each category may have its own theme or share the same theme.

    • On regular event, it's restrictive. It's not allowed to use any custom or additional tools/libraries/classes even sprites at all. Including no code/technique taken from available demo/sample, except common logics/algorithms. Just use what are available on Codea as is. This is to get truly fresh ideas from the competition. Maximum effective LOC (exclude comments and empty lines) might be applied as well.

    • For regular event, the competition takes 3 days (72 hours) or 5 days (120 hours) since the hour it's announced. The code must be submitted within the time.

    • On annual event, it's more flexible. It's allowed to use custom or available tools/libraries/classes/sprites. Even hackery effort is allowed. It's to get big ideas from the competition. If demo/sample category doesn't seem to be appropriate for this big event, it can be excluded.

    • For annual event, the competition takes 7 or 14 days since the hour it's announced.

    • There should be only one winner for each category, plus one more for favorite winner. The last winner is decided by visitors poll, while the others are prerogatively decided by TwoLivesLeft. The runner-ups got nothing but honorable mentions on competition website. ;)

    • The prize for regular event winners is iOS/Mac app(s) from the Apple AppStore. The winners request app(s), any apps that their total price within a range (say between $5-$10), and TwoLivesLeft will buy the app(s) for the winners.

    • The prize for annual event winners should be something pricier. It could be an iPod touch, a pair of Apple magic mouse/pad and wireless keyboard, an expensive app license, or even an iPad. :D

    What do you think? :)

  • BortelsBortels Mod
    Posts: 1,557

    I don't know about a big prize, or any prize really. I like the concept of keeping things friendly - I'd like to see less of a competition, more of an exhibition, if that makes sense. As has been pointed out - we have school kids (and just new learners) jumping in, I'd like to have them feel this is something worth trying (that's an idea - you could do some age-bracket stuff, have one for kids 12 (or 14 or 16 or I dunno) and under, on an honor system "just started coding" or such). If there's no big prize, there's no incentive for people to game the system.

    I love the idea of a friendly contest. I just suggest starting small. Let's do one, and see how it goes. :-)

  • SimeonSimeon Admin Mod
    Posts: 5,387

    Okay, no prize to start with (but maybe later). We'll have to set up a sort of exhibition and organisation page and then start it some time in the new year.

    The recent code sharing policy issues might make it a bit more difficult to check out the entries so we'll have to start thinking about what we can do to make up for that.

    @Bortels I think there can be winners and still have the competition be friendly. It's about creative interpretation of a theme, so there isn't really a way to game the system except by making something creative and appropriate.

    @bee good thoughts, I'm more set on the idea of a simple monthly competition that takes place over a weekend. But if it grows then I'd be happy to entertain those ideas.

  • Yeah, i like the idea to code for a competition at the Weekend :) i dont have to have chances, i would just be happy, if the judges would say me what i can do better. That would be my target, to get better, not win. And there dont have to be huge prices, maybe an update-wish wich gets High priority or something :)

  • BortelsBortels Mod
    Posts: 1,557

    Here's the love2d thing I was talking about for reference:

    If you look at that thread, the "EMB rule" is exactly the kind of crap I'd be temped to pull if there was a significant prize attached. I'm evil that way.

    Because this was for bragging rights - it wasn't an issue. Perhaps once a few contests are under your belt, a yearly one with a real prize (or maybe a "best of the year" from the prior contests) might be rewarded with something.

    True Story: When I was in high school, I was in a programming class (TRS-80 Model 1 for the win), and the teacher handed out our weekly homework for the entire semester. My buddy did them all first week, handed them in that friday. I did the same - but I wrote every single assignment in a single line (each). Why? Stunt. We were rewarded with being required to help all of the other students the rest of the semester. :-)

    Or... hmmm. Don't promise a prize - deny it, in fact - then award one anyway, after the fact? :-)

  • BortelsBortels Mod
    Posts: 1,557

    Ooh - or, here you go - no prizes, but if someone comes up with something truly stunning - add it as an example. IMMORTALITY!

  • I very much like the contest/jamboree idea. And there are some great examples of how to manage the issue of competition and winners so that it is more inclusive. The most successful of these strategies I have used or had a hand in are the FIRST robotics and Lego competitions (Speaking of which I'd love to be able to download Codea projects or Lua scripts into a lego robot), where they issue something like 70 awards, and only one of them is for "winning." All the rest are for things like teamwork and collaboration, creativity and originality, robustness, gracious professionalism, evangelism and community goes on and on. Obviously we wouldn't have to award THAT many things but we can award the things we think are important in education and in supporting the Codea community.

    Regardless, I think it would be worth it to have an educational division or a set of educational awards for different levels of school grade participation.

    And I LOVE @Bortels run at IMMORTALITY!


  • Remember Students are very into bragging rights and resume/transcript building, so even an award or stamp that can go on their Facebook pages can be a big deal.

  • BortelsBortels Mod
    Posts: 1,557

    Students my rear - I am into bragging rights. :-)

    and I agree - I shouldn't be competing against kids, because one of them is gonna beat the pants off of me, and I'll cry like a little girl.

  • ;-) Love you guys. Crack me up every day. (I'm with you, @Bortels, on the bragging rights btw.)

  • Think it's a great idea, however I am in no fit shape to create a code to compare to anything I really have seen. I am still learning lua.

  • hah same here :)

  • BortelsBortels Mod
    Posts: 1,557

    Both of you - check that in 6 months. Coding competions are great ways to learn - both from actually trying to do a set task, and from then being able to see how others accomplished it. The goal is not to win - that's a happy accident - the goal is to try.

  • BortelsBortels Mod
    Posts: 1,557

    Do not quote Yoda back at me. He's an android man. green thing. whatever.

  • edited December 2011 Posts: 2,820

    Here is my proposal:
    * Monthly compitition.
    * Game and non game section.
    * No hacking.
    * Post the code from the winning person's app.
    * Gift the person an app of their choice under $5 and gave away a $10 iTunes Giftcard (thru virtual distribution) 2 times a year.
    * No beta features.
    * Not made very close to an example or previous winning game.
    * Games must be in full screen.
    * Put the good and well organized code under the example section of Codea.
    * 1 time a year, reward 3 people for best concept, best graphics, and best organized code with a $20 iTunes Giftcard. You might even submit it to the app store for them for no charge.
    It's a lot of money, but at this rate, I assume it's affordable. It would be great for examples and time for those pros to show off.
    Thanks for listening!

  • Posts: 9

    If it's an iTunes or Amazon gift card you could just email the claim code.

  • Posts: 2,820

    I know. That's what I meant @Ryan

  • Posts: 2,820

    You can do the same for apps.

  • edited January 2012 Posts: 1,255

    If you haven't read the article that arstechnica put together on a 48 hour game jam in Australia, you've missed out:

    After reading this, and watching videos of the latest, Ludum 48-hour Dare

    (for example:


    I'm really stoked to give this a try. I'd be up for an unofficial run if someone wants to pitch out a keyword next weekend.

  • BortelsBortels Mod
    edited January 2012 Posts: 1,557

    @notch did a game for that competion called "minicraft", tweeted about it - and about 40,000 people flipped out. :-)

    I have half a mind to do a dual-stick space shooter - between the built-in graphics (there new spritepack is perfect for it) and the dual-stick controller library, 80% of the work is already done! I'm wondering just how close to "professional" we can get the feel. (I've been playing a lot of "Asteroids Gunner" and "Space Miner", both awesome in their own way)

    hey - what would the rules be for using pre-existing libraries someone else made (like fonts, or the controller libraries, or spritely?) I say "go for it", but want to be sure it's kosher.

  • edited January 2012 Posts: 622

    I'd expect it's open to anything that can be done using Codea alone (including Spritely).

    My personal keyword for last week was "cute" which is always a challenge. This is where Strobey came from. I was thinking dragonfly horrorshow but went pixie/cute instead.

  • Posts: 78

    Go minecraft! (sorry couldn't resist) you know what would be a cool feature within codea? You make an account then have something like the app store, but only for codea code. You would just touch something like "submit to codea code center" or something. Let's hear the ideas on this. (yes I know this is the wrong section for this, but I think it would help with a game competition)

  • BortelsBortels Mod
    Posts: 1,557

    I actually think project export/import is close to perfect as it is (I'd like a more manipulable archive format, but that's nit-picking). Pity we can't keep it, or hopefully Pity we have to give it up for a while until Apple comes to their senses.

  • edited January 2012 Posts: 2,820

    @Ldsguy1 - I'm thinking about setting up a website kind of like that but it also allows Codea coders to make a program in a group with help from each other. Like it? Get about 5 - 10 people to PM (personal message) me and I might make it.

  • Posts: 2,820

    By might, I mean most likely will. It might be a little sloppy at first.

  • Posts: 2,820

    OH! Idea:
    Every time you come out with a new sprite pack, have a contet based on it! I like it. (I gotta love those sprite packs)

  • Posts: 622

    For the non-competitive group work I'd recommend Fred's ABCplayer. I hve writer's block on what should be done next.

    On the competition side one made around a theme song(s) may be good. 8-bit rasta?

  • Posts: 447

    Ldsguy1, would defintely be good to setup a codea library listing all the user made programs so a new user has a long list of stuff to play with. Need to think about the mechanics of maintaining it without too much work, and i might just do it. Probably best to wait for the sharing situation to be resolved first too.

  • Posts: 2,820

    I created a competition while we wait here.

  • I would participate!

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