Hello Dimensioneers! Some thoughts I have been been wanting to summarize for sometime now is what I’ve learned about Dimension Contests and provide that information for anyone who might be interested in these community sponsored events. I’ve hosted three contests, 2014 Fountains, 2015 Dungeon Master and 2016 Garden Gazebo and participated in five as a contestant, here are my tips for hosting and participating in a contest.
Hosting A Contest: Basic Guidelines
The first step to hosting a contest is to come up with a theme and a clear objective. The theme and objective is the goal for your contestants to work around and the most important aspect of the contest. You are instructing people on what you want them to create in the most logical way possible.
Judging Criteria & Rules
Once you’ve chosen the theme and objective create your judging criteria. The criteria is always different for every contest theme and each host. But the basic premise is to cover creativity and uniqueness, attention to details, and technical. More on scoring a contest later.
Rules are just as important as the judging criteria. When a contestant breaks your rules they should receive some sort of repercussions. Depending on the severity of the rule broken, it could be cause for a disqualify or points to be deducted from their overall score.
What will you be awarding your winners? Plan your prizes and winning categories. The amount of prizes you choose to award is completely up to you. My prize pools have varied, I’ve given away 20+ REX across all categories in one contest because I was asking for quite a lot from my contestants, and then another I awarded 2 REX because it was a more casual contest.
There have been contests running, pretty much back to back over the last three years and my opinion on the prize pool now is that it’s just too much money for one person to put up hundreds of dollars in REX when we have no shortage of contests being hosted.
The prize pool always varies from host to host and what they feel comfortable with. Don’t feel intimidated to keep up with what other contest prizes have been. There is no competition for who gives away the most money and even if you want to give away just 1 or 2 REX is more than enough. People will still participate as long as they are interested in building for your contest theme, focus on offering a fun or interesting theme and those aspects of the contest more than the prizes.
Date and Time for Deadline
How long do you want the contest to run for? Pick a deadline date and time and provide details on your turnaround time for scoring and awarding prizes. Most contests run for at minimum 4 weeks up to 8 weeks depending on the depth of the objective. If you are planning a 400 item or less build, a months time should be plenty. However, if you are asking for a complex theme or full-scale build with more than 2,000 items you want to lean towards the 6 to 8 week deadline date. Verify that your deadline date doesn’t land on a holiday as people may not be around to open their dimensions on time.
Getting The Word Out
Advertising your contest would be your next step, the best method to do this would be to post a new thread in the Rift Dimension forums. When you post your contest details be sure to cover the objective and rules. You can find a long list of previous contests here for reference.
Spreadsheet For Judges
Now it’s time to create a spreadsheet (or some type of form) for scoring the entries. This score-sheet should match your judging criteria on a points-based scale that you can provide to your fellow judges. It’s important the judges are on the same page with scoring. An easy way to share your score-sheets with your judges is by using Google Docs.
When the contest deadline has arrived it’s a good idea to visit all the entries initially to make sure each entry is accounted for so you can follow up with any that might be missing right away.
The next step would be to score the entries. When I’ve hosted contests, my fellow judges and I would split up and score the entries on our own time, this way everyone has a clear view of the dimension without interruptions. After everyone has scored we meet back up to tally the totals and discuss any concerns or issues that might have come up along the way.
Scoring entries has been for me the most stressful part of the contest. I take it very seriously. I understand how much time and creative devotion is invested in each persons dimensions and I want to be as fair and accurate as possible. When you are a judge you must separate yourself from personal preferences and look at the entries in a whole different way. A judge should be looking at not only the creative artistic display, but also the tiny details and technical side of it with a sharp eye.
In my scoring process, I’ve always included the rules on the score-sheet to make sure each entry met them, and for those rules that were broken I would deduct a point for that particular rule. My score sheets would have each of the criteria individually listed and would be scored on a points basis for each section.
This is just a look at some of the basic scoring process, it’s not every criteria scored because each contest has unique criteria, but this includes the criteria that is very important and should be in each contest:
Scoring points for creativity, I look at the dimension as a whole and evaluate if the dimensions creativity, uniqueness, artistic expression, overall theme, and cohesiveness meets the objective and score accordingly.
Attention To Details
The level of detail for the dimension build overall, morphs, structures, furniture, decor, etc.
This is where the most points usually get deducted. Technical details include everything we judges might see as an oversight in the craftsmanship of the build. A judge is checking for things like flickers, floating objects, misaligned building blocks or misaligned morphed items, holes in the landscape, holes in a structure, getting caught on steps when walking up them, misplaced items, messy terrain paint placement, scale of items, items poking through walls or morphs, landscape where they should not be, and so on.
Entering A Dimension Contest: Things To Consider
There are just a few thoughts I would like to share about entering a contest.
Why are you entering?
The first thing to consider is why are you entering this contest? Do you want to win? Are you doing it for fun and support? Does it matter if you win? Ask yourself what it means to you to be a part of the event. I’m bringing this thought up because people have become very unhappy, angry, sad, and even quit playing the game all because they didn’t win a contest.
If you enter a contest with the goal to win, realize upfront that you may not win. If you don’t win don’t take it personally, try to be laid back about the whole process. Build for fun and for yourself, it’s a win – win situation no matter what the outcome of the contest is.
Close The Door!
The next thing I recommend is that you should always, leave your dimension closed from the Public while you are working on it. Why? Because people will indeed take your ideas and use them in their own entry. I’ve seen it happen multiple times, keep your dimension closed until the deadline.
Deadline Means Stop Building
Once the deadline date and time comes, stop building. Depending on the host, this may get you points docked off your score or disqualified if you continue to work on your dimension while scoring is taking place. If you can’t meet the deadline date and time, discuss it up front with the host and let them know, they can decide what to do from there.
Putting on Your Game Hat
If you are building to better your skills, put on your best game hat and follow the contest information closely, ask the host questions if you are not sure about something. Read the contest information repeatedly.
You may be planning the most amazing dimension idea for a contest, but I can’t iterate these next tips enough, read and understand the objective, rules, and criteria. Check your work over and over for technical issues and things that might get you a low score. Ask a friend to come and look over the dimension for any issues before the contest deadline, a second set of eyes is very helpful.
As I mentioned above in the scoring of a contest, the judge is looking for things that have been overlooked. This is where you can shine and score higher, by making sure your dimension has limited technical issues, good details, and a unique design that matches the objective. It doesn’t mean you will win, there are still other areas that are equally important when scoring a contest. But from my experience as a judge, it’s the details, the technical that weighs the most on the overall score.
Having Fun & Saying Thanks
Whether you participate in a contest or you host one don’t forget to appreciate the people around you, without them there would be no community to share our love of dimensions with. Don’t lose sight of the fact that contest hosts are builders just like you and are often putting up their own personal cash as prizes, they are doing so to offer a fun challenge for everyone. 🙂
In closing, I’ve enjoyed both aspects of hosting and competing. I’ve learned a lot about hosting contests along the way and like with all things in life had some good and bad experiences with it. Overall I think contests can be a good form of entertainment for those that enjoy competitions. I also recommend anyone who might be curious about the hosting side of contests give it a try, it’s an entirely different perspective of looking at dimensions.
For now, I have decided to hang up my game hat and step away from contests to focus on other dimension interests, I look forward to hosting more dimension related giveaways and building with you all throughout the new year. Happy Building!