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Thoughts about TINS 2017
amarillion
Member #940
January 2001
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Hey Everybody. I'm looking for some input.

I've mentioned before that I would like to organize TINS 2017 (You know, the 72h hour Game Jam), somewhere in September-October.

Over the years, the number of participants has slowly waned, from over 20 entries at the start to about 10 entries last year. TINS is always fun to do, and I think it would still satisfying to organize a compo even if it has only 5 participants. But it's becoming a problem that with fewer participants, it's getting more likely that I win myself, which I don't want.

At the same time, similar Game Jams like Ludem Dare are more popular than ever. Clearly, the demand is there.

I think one part of the problem is marketing. I could probably do more to get the word out. Any ideas here are most welcome. Another problem might be that perhaps Allegro itself is getting in the way. While Game Jams are increasing in popularity, Allegro isn't. Or maybe the requirement that you have to publish the source code keeps some serious entrants from participating.

So I'm seeking some input. How would you feel if I changed the rules and...

  • Drop the requirement that you need to use Allegro. Other engines (like Unity, JavaScript would be allowed)

  • Drop the source code requirement.

This could take various forms. For example, to keep the spirit of Allegro alive, we could have separate rankings for allegro/non-allegro games.

These are all just ideas at this point. I'm looking for ways to keep TINS alive and future-proof. But if the changes are not palatable to TINS veterans, then I probably won't change anything at all.

--
Martijn van Iersel | My Blog | Sin & Cos | Tegel tilemap editor | TINS 2017

Eric Johnson
Member #14,841
January 2013
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I definitely think lifting the Allegro requirement would make TINS more accessible to people who are not familiar with Allegro, and would potentially be more appealing to first-time game jam participants. I also think that participation could be increased by advertising the event frequently in advance.

I may be able to stir up some interest in a few friends who are not familiar with Allegro if the Allegro requirement is dropped. As for source code, I do not see that as an issue. I intend on releasing my source code either way, but I do not mind if it is required or not.

I think splitting the ranking between Allegro and non-Allegro games might be detrimental, but I suppose that depends on how many games fit into each category. Personally, I am not in favor of this.

Also, is there any way to view a list of the rules and requirements that are randomly-selected? Further, is there a way to submit ideas for new rules and requirements?

Felix-The-Ghost
Member #9,729
April 2008
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Maybe invite our friends from the GDR?

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<--- The ghost with the most!
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[Website] [Youtube]

SiegeLord
Member #7,827
October 2006
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Does TINS have the "Act of ???" rules? Could just have one of those with Allegro usage.

Source-code seems a non-sequitur, I doubt that will change things either way and having the source available makes distribution so much simpler etc.

"For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow."-Ecclesiastes 1:18
[SiegeLord's Abode][Codes]:[DAllegro5]:[RustAllegro]

Elias
Member #358
May 2000

I took part in most of the early LudumDares (I even hosted #7 or so), and I enjoyed them a lot when they had only 20-50 participants. You could read all the logs and talk to everyone and play all the games (very similar to TINS/Speedhack). Once they started having 100ds and then 1000ds of entrants it completely changed for me - it got impossible to even see a screenshot of each entry, let alone play them.

Also, if TINS is just another LudumDare clone, I don't know if that will make it easier to market... why not simply join LudumDare instead? I think I prefer having something local, i.e. Allegro only :) But Allegro doesn't necessarily have to be the library I suppose and could just mean the "Allegro community". Maybe extend the rule to allow anything-but-Unity? ;)

--
"Either help out or stop whining" - Evert

Bruce Perry
Member #270
April 2000

I assume it's more Allegro itself that lacks marketing.

Unity is messy. The data structures and engine execution order are too often not quite what you want. They're a compromise which looks good to a larger number of people because artists can do more integration work by themselves (though often violating assumptions made in the code, forcing programmers to clean up afterwards, which can ruin relationships, though that's an aside).

If you don't need that collaboration model, then the beauty of a library like Allegro is that it doesn't impose any data structures or engine flow on you. Of course you have to do a lot more from scratch, so it takes longer. My point though is that I think Allegro still has a place (admittedly a niche one), but it isn't marketed.

TINS could be a marketing vehicle for Allegro of course :)

--
Bruce "entheh" Perry [ Web site | DUMB | Set Up Us The Bomb !!! | Balls ]
Programming should be fun. That's why I hate C and C++.
The brxybrytl has you.

Edgar Reynaldo
Member #8,592
May 2007
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Eww. Please don't drop either part. If you allow things like Unity in, then it's no longer a hack. It's just a modeling session. Or OGRE3D or whatever. I think we should stick with Allegro in some fashion for TINS, whether it's 4 or 5. Any port of Allegro should be allowed as well, like DAllegro, or Allegro for Pascal, or whatever.

I'll probably participate, but I don't ever get much done in 3 days. I guess there was the time I made Skyline in a 24 hour coding spree. I guess I always overthink everything, or try to do more than I can get done in 3 days.

Elias
Member #358
May 2000

To be fair, you can go as low level as you want in Unity - it' just not what usually happens, just like Da en Bruce said. What I meant is that we could allow libraries similar to Allegro though like SDL2 if someone prefers that for some reason - it would not really change the spirit much in my opinion (but game engines would).

--
"Either help out or stop whining" - Evert

Eric Johnson
Member #14,841
January 2013
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I agree with Elias in regards to game engines. Part of the spirit of game jams is rapid development and experimentation through the use of libraries, like Allegro. I always get a kick out of writing camera code, for example, in my games, but something like an engine might already do that for you.

Also, I do not think libraries should be limited to those written in C or C++ and only for the desktop. Rather, I think scripting languages should be allowed as well, like Python and JavaScript. In the end, the language should not matter as much as the programmer using it. ;)

Polybios
Member #12,293
October 2010

Personally, I've wanted to participate, but these things always tend to happen when I don't have time available.

Elias said:

What I meant is that we could allow libraries similar to Allegro though like SDL2 if someone prefers that for some reason

This sounds a like a good idea - finally an opportunity to show its inferiority. ;D
Apart from that, I think it'd be a bit unfair to allow things like Unity in. Having something like a "Low Level Game Coding Contest" seems to be more in line with the tradition and essence and things imho.

Felix-The-Ghost
Member #9,729
April 2008
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I agree, I don't what any WYSIWYG-esque engines such as Unity, Game Maker, or RPG Maker. I used the latter two very early when I was learning years ago but they only made me desire something with a higher (lower?) level of control, especially since all the open source games I played were written in C++ :)

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<--- The ghost with the most!
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[Website] [Youtube]

Onewing
Member #6,152
August 2005
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Random question, do you have any insights on your entrants? Has it been mostly participants that have done it in the past or newcomers? If it's return participants, I wonder if the aging allegro community plays a part in the waning participation (i.e. families to take care of, consuming careers, etc.). No idea if that holds any water or if it's true, what you might do to accommodate this group any better.

Another random thought, what if you started a small Kickstarter for the event? That could be used as advertising plus you could collect a small pool of money that could be used as a reward.

I like that you're thinking now for an event that would be in September-October. At this point, I'm certainly interested in participating. But, I'd recommend something along the way to keep people's interest from decaying. I don't know if it's a monthly e-letter or a twitter account with random "hey, TINS is coming, what are you doing to get ready" tweets.

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Solo-Games.org | My Tech Blog: The Digital Helm

Neil Black
Member #7,867
October 2006
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I've been trying to get back into games programming, and Allegro, in the last couple of weeks. I might be up to a TINS by this fall.

I agree with Bruce Perry that Allegro itself lacks the marketing to draw in new participants. I've never seen mention of it on game programming forums outside of the Allegro forums. That's going to naturally reduce the pool of potential participants.

Niunio
Member #1,975
March 2002
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Agree with some of the ideas.

The world doesn't need another LudumDare, so please don't go that way.

May be open the contest to Allegro-like libraries but no unity-esque engines would make it more appealing. I like the idea of a fixed "Act of Elder" rule requiring Allegro too. Even counting Allegro.js and Allegro5.js as Allegro. ;)

Onewing said:

Random question, do you have any insights on your entrants? Has it been mostly participants that have done it in the past or newcomers? If it's return participants, I wonder if the aging allegro community plays a part in the waning participation (i.e. families to take care of, consuming careers, etc.). No idea if that holds any water or if it's true, what you might do to accommodate this group any better.

Yep. We're older. Thanks to remind us that. ::) ;D

I agree with Bruce Perry that Allegro itself lacks the marketing to draw in new participants. I've never seen mention of it on game programming forums outside of the Allegro forums. That's going to naturally reduce the pool of potential participants.

I'm trying to do some marketing in GDR, PGD and Lazarus. Unfortunatelly I'm not a good marketer and latelly my Allegro projects are evolving slowly, but I'm trying my best.

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Current projects: Allegro.pas | MinGRo

Elias
Member #358
May 2000

Maybe we could also rename it from TINS to Speedhack? Just for the nostalgic feeling :)

--
"Either help out or stop whining" - Evert

Eric Johnson
Member #14,841
January 2013
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B-but TINS Is Not Speedhack! :o

Edgar Reynaldo
Member #8,592
May 2007
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Eric Johnson
Member #14,841
January 2013
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That's part of the fun of it though: it's a race against the clock. Admittedly, you do need to be well-prepared and keep the scope of your game small. More than anything, I see TINS as a way to come up with some neat proof of concepts. You're free to take as much time as you want afterward further developing your game into whatever you want though. ;)

Neil Roy
Member #2,229
April 2002
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I think it should stick to Allegro. Any version of Allegro, but Allegro.

Just the thought of stuff like Unity makes me cringe. Also I feel it should be open source. How else can you tell how it was coded? Also, these things could be helpful for people to learn. I know I love browsing other people's code. We can pick up some good ideas from each other that way. It can also help people understand how to do certain tasks with Allegro, and can even reveal unknown bugs with it.

Besides, we have people who have worked their asses off on Allegro (Edgar) to get it working.

It's been a while since I done one of these, the last time was the first Speedhack we done. I still have a few of the entries backed up from that! ;)

I think TINS should be a week long. 3 days is not much time to throw something together.

I love this idea. I'm not as creative as I used to be. I need more time.

Edgar Reynaldo
Member #8,592
May 2007
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Neil Roy said:

Besides, we have people who have worked their asses off on Allegro (Edgar) to get it working.

Yeah, but I always have help. It wouldn't have happened without Elias pointing me in the right direction. There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes. Check out the commit log on GitHub. I didn't really do that much. Allegro builds nice and quick with mingw32-make -j 4 on my laptop with an SSD.

;)

amarillion
Member #940
January 2001
avatar

Ok, reading all the comments, I think you guys have convinced me to NOT change the rules, at least not in a major way. So TINS will remain: open source, and allegro only.

Onewing said:

Random question, do you have any insights on your entrants? Has it been mostly participants that have done it in the past or newcomers? If it's return participants, I wonder if the aging allegro community plays a part in the waning participation (i.e. families to take care of, consuming careers, etc.). No idea if that holds any water or if it's true, what you might do to accommodate this group any better.

Anecdotally this is true, there are a lot of recurring participants, and I'm sure many drop-outs now have family obligations (Matthew comes to mind). This shows the importance of attempting to refresh the pool.

Quote:

Another random thought, what if you started a small Kickstarter for the event? That could be used as advertising plus you could collect a small pool of money that could be used as a reward.

I think reward money potentially changes the competition even more than dropping the open-source or the use-allegro rules. What do others think?

Niunio said:

May be open the contest to Allegro-like libraries but no unity-esque engines would make it more appealing.

I think banning specific engines but not others would seem arbitrary, and opens up a can of worms on what 'unity-esque' means. At least 'your game must use Allegro' is neat and simple.

At the very least you have convinced me that I need to step up my marketing effort. You can all help here as well. Retweet, share and like. Blog. Put up a poster in your company Cantina, or in the local University CS department. Will you help? I think if I can get your help with that, then I think we can make it a success. I will start putting out some material soon, so stay tuned for that.

But first things first: we need to pick the weekend.

--
Martijn van Iersel | My Blog | Sin & Cos | Tegel tilemap editor | TINS 2017

Niunio
Member #1,975
March 2002
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I think TINS should be a week long. 3 days is not much time to throw something together.

There are actual masterpieces in both TINS and SpeedHack. I think it is enough.

Ok, reading all the comments, I think you guys have convinced me to NOT change the rules, at least not in a major way. So TINS will remain: open source, and allegro only.

Yay!!! :)

Quote:

I think banning specific engines but not others would seem arbitrary, and opens up a can of worms on what 'unity-esque' means. At least 'your game must use Allegro' is neat and simple.

You're right. But what I mean was ban engines but not libraries (SDL isn't an engine, is it?). Anyway I understand that some people would missunderstand it. There are engines that works as libraries (for example, my own one).

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Current projects: Allegro.pas | MinGRo

Eric Johnson
Member #14,841
January 2013
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Niunio said:

I understand that some people would missunderstand it.

Definitely this. I've even seen some refer to Allegro as an engine! :o

Neil Roy
Member #2,229
April 2002
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Yeah, but I always have help. It wouldn't have happened without Elias pointing me in the right direction. There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes.

Yeah, I seen some of your conversations in emails. MUCH more happens that people don't see. :)

amarillion
Member #940
January 2001
avatar

I think TINS should be a week long. 3 days is not much time to throw something together.

I agree it's not much time :) But I think the focus is an important feature of TINS so I'll keep it. We should also keep organizing alternative formats like Xmas/Krampushack/Easterhack, so that there is something for everybody.

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Martijn van Iersel | My Blog | Sin & Cos | Tegel tilemap editor | TINS 2017

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