Audience Prize winner!

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SproutWith voting now over, it is my pleasure to announce the recipient of the Audience Prize for the CasualGameplay Design Competition #2: Sprout!!

With 41.6% of the popular vote, Jeff Nusz' Sprout proves beyond a doubt to be the favorite among the JIG community as well.

Jeff will be awarded the Audience prize of $200 to go with the donations his game received, for a total of $373.87!!

For full disclosure, I have made available a spreadsheet listing all proceeds received and how they were distributed based on the voting.

We will be in touch with each game designer to arrange for the transfer of all respective voting donations. Our sincere thanks go out to everyone that voted. Thank you for making this Audience prize a very special one.


Congrats to the winners. All worthy entries :)

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Congratulation to Jeff Nusz, and all the other competitors, all the entries were very fun games

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This was a great contest, generating a lot of wonderful ideas and implementations, and I agree that Sprout deserved to win (I voted for it).

Post-mortems are really useful for improving quality, and I wonder if there are general rules about game development we can learn from this - about what features of casual games are most popular. There were sadly only 178 votes, so the numbers may not be statistically relevant, but it seems that in terms of genre that story games ("Gateway II" and "Sprout") are favored over leveled games ("Rings and Sticks", "PLANned", "enQbate", etc.), which are favored over single-level puzzles ("Frog and Vine", "Chicken Grow").

In terms of production, it seems that quality or style didn't matter too much, (except possibly in the case of "Sprout")

But in terms of puzzles and actual gameplay, what are people looking for? Or does that even matter? Perhaps the voting is based on overall experience or 'engagement' rather than on how innovative or difficult the puzzles are.

It seems that possibly, negative points are subconsciously awarded when a game is too frustrating. A puzzle needs to be a little frustrating, in order to engender that 'A-ha!' moment of discovery, but it seems that perhaps games such as "Grow Word" and "Growbal Warming" were too confusing, which is why they received fewer votes. I think the more popular games in this competition were the ones where each puzzle could be figured out in about 90 seconds - more than a minute and a half to figure out a puzzle is too confusing, while less is too easy and boring.

I'm curious about this since my game 'Frog and Vine' shared last place with 'Chicken Grow' in the voting, but in the future I want to make games that are more popular.

I'm very curious to hear what others think about this, especially if any of the other developers have thoughts about what succeeds and what doesn't

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CowboyRobot, I wanted to respond to some of the things you said since you asked some really good questions.
First of all, I do not speak for Jay or John or any other reviewer, nor for the site. I'm simply offering you my point of view.

Second of all, we will be publishing reviews of the entries as we did for the last competition, so perhaps some of your questions may be answered there (and I encourage you to read the comments on both the game itself when it was posted and on the review... our readers can be brutally honest as well as insightful).

Without offering any specific opinion on your particular game, I can say for myself that perhaps there is an unconscious bias towards story-driven games. A game with a story just tends to involve the mind in other ways besides the actual gameplay of the puzzles themselves, and so makes a game stick out like a beacon in the minds of voters. The puzzles of a story-driven game need not even be that great or clever if the story is good enough. That may be entirely unfair, but I think it's just human nature and the way our minds work.

Take Hotel Dusk for the DS. Practically no true gameplay whatsoever yet it's very engaging and hard to put down (at least for me). It's appeal is in its high production values and great story.

There are clearly exceptions: take Tetris, Sudoku, Lumines, Mario: March of the Minis, Exit, etc. No story, pure puzzles, but there are similarities: they all are great puzzle games in and of themselves (and a truly great puzzle that transcends generations only comes along once in a great while), all have very high production values, and of course several of them were produced by video gaming powerhouses with huge budgets.

My opinion is simply that story-driven games naturally score higher in audience-opinion type polls, since most people are attracted to a good story. I think you hit it on the head when you said that "the voting is based on overall experience or 'engagement' rather than on how innovative or difficult the puzzles are." In our judging we evaluate the game on several very specific points, none of them directly referencing story, so we hopefully nullify this effect.

I also think that in the face of something as great as Sprout, nobody had a chance to fair too well. Gateway 2 was the audience favorite last time and took a beating this time around, though the sequel is (in my opinion) better than the original.

In any event, like you said: post-mortems are good for improving quality. Hope this one opinion helps answer some of your questions.

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Congratulation Jeff Nusz!

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