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2019 Atari Homebrew Awards Voting Information & Discussion

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@TwentySixHundred Agree with you :) 👍🕹️

 

The voting thing is a bit of a quandry. One one hand what happen it's not explicitly against the rules, but on the other hand, it's (in my view) against the spirit of the event and can easily cause distortion (as we saw).

 

It's a tough one to solve but I'm sure the folks behind the event will approach that issue carefully and thoughtfully in the future.

 

 

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7 minutes ago, Muddyfunster said:

@TwentySixHundred Agree with you :) 👍🕹️

 

The voting thing is a bit of a quandry. One one hand what happen it's not explicitly against the rules, but on the other hand, it's (in my view) against the spirit of the event and can easily cause distortion (as we saw).

 

It's a tough one to solve but I'm sure the folks behind the event will approach that issue carefully and thoughtfully in the future.

 

 

Would be nice, even though it's not easy to eliminate that sort of behavior. Like Thomas Jentzch said on the Rally Racer discussion it's about the games not the number of facebook friends nominees have. But hey everyones going to go their own way about it and keeping it strictly within the AA community, probably wont warrant enough votes for the number of entries.

 

100% correct, it's all for a bit of fun and awareness of the great games over the year. Doesn't really bother me either, however it may have, if i designed some cool artwork that deserved the award only to be knocked off the podium by ballot stuffing.

 

Anyway i agree with bB and have mentioned to James when i found out they dropped the category. It really should return, and stressed my thoughts about it in the Legacy vs ARM thread. bB needs a category of it's own as we have some advantages while on the other hand some significant restrictions (but that's a whole nother kettle of fish) :)

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50 minutes ago, Muddyfunster said:

It's a tough one to solve but I'm sure the folks behind the event will approach that issue carefully and thoughtfully in the future.

One solution would be to only allow votes from accounts that have existed 6 months or more. Or better, only allow votes from accounts that have been active in a 3 month window prior to the voting month, to reduce the chance of sleeper accounts waking up. It won't stop a dedicated cheater, but surely it would reduce the social media campaigning.

 

Of course, I'm sure Al is going to be thrilled to to have to tweak the voting code even more.  ;) 

 

3 hours ago, Muddyfunster said:

I have a lot of friends who are "into" retro games, but not so much into Atari. A lot of them follow my "MuddyVision" page and offered to come and vote for me. I discouraged it unless they wanted to play all the games and vote accordingly. Correct me if I'm wrong, the awards are supposed to be a fun community event..

You are a class act, sir.

 

Honestly, the ratio of upstanding community members to bad apples at AA is way better than other sites, and also why I'm a bit surprised this controversy happened in the first place. (as I'm sure Al and James were)

 

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My 2 cents...

 

The problem is that most of the candidates were distribuited by AtariAge wich is huge compared to other small producers.

Most of these games (or packages) had their quality well known among the collectors around the world, so whats the chance that a small company to compete in equality of conditions? Most of the people complaining about the result doesn't even known that this game or the game developer existed before the prize, so how could anyone to judge imparcially all the candidates?

Since most of this games came from this forum and most of the votes too, how can we "equalize" the situation? There's people making good games and boxes with small distribution around the world, so how could we be fair with everyone?

Unfortunatelly there's no easy soluction or even right or wrong answer to this question...

Many members have already assumed that the game did not deserve to win, even without having had the chance to know it, regardless of the discrepancy in the votes...

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9 minutes ago, Randolph Laterca said:

My 2 cents...

 

The problem is that most of the candidates were distribuited by AtariAge wich is huge compared to other small producers.

Most of these games (or packages) had their quality well known among the collectors around the world, so whats the chance that a small company to compete in equality of conditions? Most of the people complaining about the result doesn't even known that this game or the game developer existed before the prize, so how could anyone to judge imparcially all the candidates?

Since most of this games came from this forum and most of the votes too, how can we "equalize" the situation? There's people making good games and boxes with small distribution around the world, so how could we be fair with everyone?

Unfortunatelly there's no easy soluction or even right or wrong answer to this question...

Many members have already assumed that the game did not deserve to win, even without having had the chance to know it, regardless of the discrepancy in the votes...

 

Edited by TwentySixHundred
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6 minutes ago, Randolph Laterca said:

Many members have already assumed that the game did not deserve to win, even without having had the chance to know it, regardless of the discrepancy in the votes...

Except there are plenty of photos of it in the voting pack.  And for packaging, visual presentation is all that matters.  For me, it would have come in 4th or 5th.

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I honestly think that Zero Page has eliminated any doubtful votes that may have occurred in all categories.
Perhaps they will publish the final result, which would clarify several points, for example: how many voted for this category in 2018 and 2019? Was there an absurd increase in the number of voters or is it more or less in the average?
Because honestly, without even knowing how many new people voted for this edition, it seems to me an excessive and disproportionate judgment from you.
And as to whether it is better or worse, it is a personal opinion, -“oh I think the fourth or fifth best”, ok was your vote.

Apparently everything is ok with the vote and if it really is, your vote lost, this is called democracy.

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5 minutes ago, RodrigoAB said:

Apparently everything is ok with the vote and if it really is, your vote lost, this is called democracy.

Yes, everything is set in stone.  It won and that's that.  Congrats to the guys in More Work.  However, it does appear to be an example of an old American saying - "Vote early and vote often".

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1 hour ago, Randolph Laterca said:

My 2 cents...

 

The problem is that most of the candidates were distribuited by AtariAge wich is huge compared to other small producers.

Most of these games (or packages) had their quality well known among the collectors around the world, so whats the chance that a small company to compete in equality of conditions? Most of the people complaining about the result doesn't even known that this game or the game developer existed before the prize, so how could anyone to judge imparcially all the candidates?

Since most of this games came from this forum and most of the votes too, how can we "equalize" the situation? There's people making good games and boxes with small distribution around the world, so how could we be fair with everyone?

Unfortunatelly there's no easy soluction or even right or wrong answer to this question...

Many members have already assumed that the game did not deserve to win, even without having had the chance to know it, regardless of the discrepancy in the votes...

More Work Games has done an excellent job of making the community here aware of their games and I'd venture to say that most, if not all, of the AA members who vote in the Homebrew Awards were familiar with them even before the nominations were announced.

 

Here's why I didn't vote for Rally Racer. While I don't own a copy, I do own A New Marauder, so based on that I know that More Work produces quality packaging. But the artwork for Rally Racer is almost entirely screenshots and a pretty generic image of a rally car. That doesn't compare to the beautiful original artwork created for the other games in the Best Packaging category.

 

23 minutes ago, RodrigoAB said:

Perhaps they will publish the final result, which would clarify several points, for example: how many voted for this category in 2018 and 2019? Was there an absurd increase in the number of voters or is it more or less in the average?

What will be more telling is how many more total votes there were in the Best Packaging category than in other categories. That will show how many people turned up to support Rally Racer but didn't even bother playing other games in other categories.

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14 minutes ago, KaeruYojimbo said:

What will be more telling is how many more total votes there were in the Best Packaging category than in other categories. That will show how many people turned up to support Rally Racer but didn't even bother playing other games in other categories.

The last time I checked it were 117 votes for best game, closely followed by best packaging with 111. Last year's final count was 119 vs. 101. So no obvious difference here. But in between (probably before removing multi-account votes), packaging was leading 92 to 88, which was quite unusual.

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21 minutes ago, KaeruYojimbo said:

But the artwork for Rally Racer is almost entirely screenshots and a pretty generic image of a rally car.

That was my impression too. Especially the latter.

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Here's the link to more information I posted about the voting issues that arose, the end result of how that affected the voting and some of the changes that will take place next year to reduce the issue.

 

- James

 

 

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3 hours ago, RevEng said:

Honestly, the ratio of upstanding community members to bad apples at AA is way better than other sites, and also why I'm a bit surprised this controversy happened in the first place. (as I'm sure Al and James were)

It was an unpleasant surprise, that's for sure, I never expected to have to deal with an issue like this. I thought in the back of my mind that it could POSSIBLY happen but I never thought it would and didn't think there would be a reason to take any measures or put in rules to stop it as this community is one of the most positive ones I've ever been a part of. 🙂 

 

- James

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I personally had voted for Rally Racer. Looking at all the candidates, I had found that the packaging to be interesting. The window on the box that opens up to the book was a nice touch and the I loved the unique cartridge. Screenshots or lack of artwork did not play a major role in my choice BUT may in any future releases. I had seen that the packaging was very similar to A New Marauder, and while I like that More Work had developed an identifying characteristic of their games and packaging, I can see lack of variation in future game boxes negatively impact their chances... But it is also my understanding that the Best Packaging category includes all packaging and promotional material for the year, so if there was standard boxes or premium boxes, that may change things in my opinion. While I really like their box design, I can definitely see how others personal preferences may like other designs.

 

I know when I told my wife about the nomination she looked forward to voting for my game to show support for me. I had asked her not to. While I was perfectly happy voting for my game, I felt uncomfortable for her to vote while she was not active in the forums. I suppose in the world of online competitions this is commonplace - I constantly see posts asking for votes on things like "cutest picture," but I had also seen contests that encourage such methods, probably to increase traffic to their sites. I am sure AA, ZPH, and all involved will learn from this and grow accordingly. After all, look at contests like the Oscars or Grammys, which constantly undergo rules changes to either address past controversies or expand to encompass the changing landscape. 

 

I for one have my own thoughts on categories or changes and I am sure they differ from the next person. But what I can say is that this year had very strong and passionate competition in every category, but I guess that is what happens when you have an extremely dedicated community.

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Hello James, I have some discussion for the awards, and how it pertained to Venture Reloaded.

 

A year ago I started creating Venture Reloaded with a goal of having a finished game ready for the awards competition. Venture Reloaded was originally a homebrew which was developed to the point of having a Treasure Screen and a new Goblin Room screen. At that stage it was apparent that I would not be able to finish the game in time for the competition. I made a difficult choice to change course and do a hack instead, because it allowed me to finish the game in time and reach my goal.

 

A lot of people have made comparisons of Venture Reloaded to a homebrew. Let me say this. Venture Reloaded is a hack. It was always be a hack, and there should be no discussion that it is not a hack. Please understand this though. Hacks can be great. They can be things that people enjoy, and they can transform a game's experience. Hacks can certainly reach the quality level of homebrews. It is even possible for hacks to be in a conversation about some of the best releases of the year. Overall hacks are still games, and from a games perspective they should be part of any awards ceremony that celebrates the very best of games for the year.

 

Quite honestly, I have poured my heart and soul into creating Venture Reloaded. Words can not describe my disappointment of learning at the end of November that the Hacks category was not only removed, but that my game would not be allowed to compete in any category. That information would have been most useful back in March. That would have given me a chance to make Plan C whatever that might have been. Still though, I could not help but wonder why hacks were not allowed in categories like best graphics, best music, best packaging, and so on... These categories seem like natural fits.

 

For Venture Reloaded let me say this. If a game is compelling enough to be an instant must-buy at release, but can not enter a competition that celebrates the best of games for the year, than something is broken. I am proud of my game. Hey, it is the only port of Venture that has scaling rooms, and that's on the 2600 of all systems! The music too is pretty good for TIA and it was challenging. I spent weeks just on that part. It would have been great if Venture Reloaded had been allowed to compete in best graphics and best music. It would have been amazing if Venture Reloaded had been allowed to compete in an unconditional game of the year. It wouldn't have won, but that would've felt right. The quality of this game is there. This is not a simple 5 minute hack. This is literally hundreds and hundreds of hours of work. This is my blood, sweat, and tears. I worked harder on this than anything else I've ever done on the 2600, and I've done a lot. I feel this has raised the bar for hacks. It deserved a chance. That's all one can wish for.

 

Now though… I'm just trying to move on. I've been angry and upset at this for so long that its made me sick. It's ironic when something created for a purpose is not allowed to fulfill that purpose. I just have to accept that Venture Reloaded will never have a Hack of the Year distinction as voted for by the people, because there was none. When people look back to the best of lists for 2600 games for 2019, this game is missing. It's almost like vaporware, and this feels awfully, awfully bad.

 

Hacks have always been a staple of AtariAge ever since its inception, were featured in Stan's Awards, and were on the ZPH awards last year. Unlike demos there is no other place that is covering them or picking them for awards, and certainly none at the level of ZPH, which is the premier event of the year. Removing them was completely unexpected and finding out at the end of the year came quite frankly as a blindside.

 

Honestly though, I mean no hostility here. I am not posting this to crap on the awards. If any of this is coming out harsh than I apologize, truly. I am trying offer feedback as best as I can. It's just really hard to find the right words with how everything went down, and I'm doing my best. I sincerely hope you put hacks back in for next year. They should belong. Venture Reloaded is done and gone, but I hope that I've made the case for hacks having inclusion.

 

The awards show itself is great, and is the premier event of Atari games awards. You and your team did a great job this year, truly. It was very professional. I feel these awards deserve games like Venture Reloaded just as much as games like Venture Reloaded deserve to be a part of the awards. I believe a path forward does exist, and it can be a beautiful one, which only gets better.

 

Thank you for reading. Please give it some thought.
Jeff
 

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We discussed this in the nomination committee. Here is what I wrote:

Quote

Tough decision. Yes, the hack is very extensive, probably more extensive than most homebrews which are allowed to participate. But it is still a hack. So what's the criteria and where do we draw the line if it is not clear cut?

 

What are our alternatives?

  1. It's a hack, so it cannot compete. (easy, transparent, might be unfair in this case)
  2. The amount of work qualifies it. But if that's the criteria, then we we should probably rule out a lot of homebrews, which are obviously done without extensive work. But where is the lower limit here? And how do we find out? (complex, non transparent, might be more fair)
  3. A special category for extensive hacks etc. Again, where do we start here? And how does the lower limit relate to the homebrew category? (also complex, non transparent, might be more fair)
  4. Anything goes. Then all hacks would be automatically in again. (easy, transparent, terrible idea)
  5. ...?

Currently I tend towards 1, but it doesn't feel well. Maybe we need (e.g. every few years) a category for games which didn't fit into our categories. 

 

Looking forward to the discussion.

I am pretty sure you would have easily won the hacks category by a margin. The category was removed because there were (and are) way too many hacks (64! in 2018) with way too few or even none really good ones. And even though I won that award last year, I did not feel like I deserved it. So this year you are a victim of the overall hacks situation. 

 

I would suggest that the hacks category should be added only every few years, when enough quality hacks have accumulated. Then Venture Reloaded will get the chance it deserves.

 

BTW: IMO you shouldn't abandon game development just because of the awards timing.

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch

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I like the idea of having hacks being a not-every-year category. There are some amazing hacks that are worthy of recognition, but perhaps not enough every year. I don't want to have the category filled with mostly simple graphical hacks most years. 

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1 hour ago, Karl G said:

I like the idea of having hacks being a not-every-year category. There are some amazing hacks that are worthy of recognition, but perhaps not enough every year. I don't want to have the category filled with mostly simple graphical hacks most years. 

When it comes to hacks I tend to look the other way... But every once and a while one comes along where it breathes new life into a game to where it improves upon the original in a complimentary fashion, adding better graphics, gameplay elements, or even thematic overhauls that just make the original much more palatable.

 

I definitely understand why the category was removed but seeing a category every once and a while would be more appropriate than having it appear annually .

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1 hour ago, Omegamatrix said:

Thank you for reading. Please give it some thought.

Jeff
 

 

Thanks for posting this @Omegamatrix, feedback is always good whether it's negative or positive. It's unfortunate that we had to drop the hacks category but one of the considerations for any category to exist is if there are enough quality entries.

 

Some of the nomination committee were asking for a pre-filtering of the list of 64 hacks in 2018 so they didn't have to play all 6 Turmoil hacks with slightly different graphics but the same gameplay. Some of the nomination committee didn't submit the minimum votes for the hack category as they didn't feel enough of them even warranted a vote.

 

When it reaches the point where there's apathy in voting for an category, it's time to rethink that category. In the public vote the Hacks category also was second to last in terms of public voting participation. In last place category was Demos, which was also dropped.

 

Of course none of this is a reflection on the enormous accomplishment that you've achieved with Venture Reloaded, I'm an insta-buy for a boxed copy when you release it physically! Unfortunately it's an all or nothing proposition with each category, we either have a Hacks category or we don't, we can't let in just some games. That goes for graphics and sound category, if one hack is allowed in then ALL the hacks have to be allowed in. How can one game be considered not a hack but another one isn't, where's the line, the definition of each category has to be rigorously defined. Reference Thomas's post above for more of this line of thinking...

It's definitely something to consider for having a not-every-year category for Hacks as @Karl G posted. But then of course the nomination committee will have to go through ~60 x 5 years of hacks to narrow them down to the top ten. I'm not sure they will be able to mentally take 20 variations of Berzerk (as an example) with slightly different player character graphics.

 

It's definitely something to consider as we move forward into the 2020 Atari Homebrew Awards.

 

- James

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Maybe there should be another "nomination committee only" category for cases like Venture Reloaded.  Like a technical achievement award?  :)

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1 minute ago, splendidnut said:

Maybe there should be another "nomination committee only" category for cases like Venture Reloaded.  Like a technical achievement award?  :)

Not a bad suggestion @splendidnut, we had the 'Technical Achievement Award' in 2018 but the concept proved too esoteric for the public vote. It would definitely be a category better suited for the nomination committee like the 'Lifetime Achievement Award' we added this year.

 

- James

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for me for Hacks to be included in the AHA's (what I call the Atari Homebrew Awards) it has to be not only graphical but also functional so it feels like whole new game.
A graphical hack doesn't have that feel because it still has the feel of the orignal. My laserman 2k3 game is graphical hack of Keystone kappers while the game has some slight changes to the orignal it still has the same feel of Keystone Kappers.  but I'm happy how it came out a lot people liked too.
maybe have <4k switch with Hacks each year

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6 minutes ago, ZeroPage Homebrew said:

It would definitely be a category better suited for the nomination committee like the 'Lifetime Achievement Award' we added this year.

Venture Reloaded is exactly where a "Judge's Choice" award would come in handy.  got a game that doesn't fit any of the categories?  Judge's Choice.  Got a game that was boxed out by another game and really shouldn't have been?  "Judge's Choice".  It's a way of making sure that an extraordinary contribution doesn't slip through the cracks.  doesn't have to be awarded every year, because there may not be a reason to award it every year.

 

I also def think that a committee only technical achievement award makes a lot of sense.  again, doesn't need to be awarded every year, but can be awarded if there is a single technological event that knocks everyone's socks or or if after a few years, it has become apparent that a tech achievement has become invaluable.  it would be like the nobel prizes in that sense.  :)

 

and while I am spouting off ideas, I think I mentioned elsewhere that I would have liked to see the packaging category broken up into:

 

Best Packaging (which is the general appearance of box and cartridge)

Best Box/Cartridge Art (spells like it sounds)

Best Overall Presentation (which factor in the way the box looks, the cartridge art, *and* the presentation of the manual and the feelies packed in with the manual)

 

at minimum I think it would be good to split the box art from the packaging since they are really two different things.

 

that's my story, and I'm sticking to it!

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The hacks were extremely hard to vote on as I had not played the original games and had no Idea what was added, In the end I voted for the prettiest graphics, even tho that might have been the original graphics and something else was added?

 

I would like to add that the fact that packaging had more votes than the other categories was brought up when you could still vote and could easily correct it by casting votes from the fake accounts to the other categories to, that should have been kept secret until voting was closed as you could just switch to voting from different devices or change your IP after that, the fact that only one AA member has come forward and said they voted on it in all these threads about it doesn't seem right.

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14 hours ago, ZeroPage Homebrew said:

But then of course the nomination committee will have to go through ~60 x 5 years of hacks to narrow them down to the top ten. I'm not sure they will be able to mentally take 20 variations of Berzerk (as an example) with slightly different player character graphics.

You could form a preselection committee and sort out the 90% which are not worth another look. :) 

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