With the last two mapping challenges producing few entries than we hoped for, I think it’s a good time to question the mapping challenges.
I have been running these for over 5 years now and there have been ups and downs throughout that time.
What I would like to do with this post is question almost every aspect of them and see if anything interesting comes up.
Well, the only thing sacrosanct is that fact that it must be single player and playable. The primary reason for the challenges is to help generate new and exclusive content for the site, so that would seem fixed.
All but one of the challenges have been for EP2, the other was Half-Life. I’m open to more Half-Life challenges and even Black Mesa.
Do you think I should try some standard HL2?
This has been discussed a lot and the problem comes down to motivation. Keeping mappers interested for longer than a few weeks is a problem. Couple that with the fact that people get over-ambitious means longer deadlines don’t always result in more or better entries.
One possible solution would be to require progressive deadlines for longer time frames. For example, After 3 weeks a mapper must send the basic layout. Another 3 weeks and it must be textured and lit, the final 3 weeks would be for polishing.
Other options include simpler, shorter challenges, perhaps with prefabricated layouts. However, that sort of thing was popular in the past and the time might have passed for that.
Mappers have told me that they don’t enter based on the prizes, they enter because the theme is interesting and they have time. I’m sure that’s true but I am also sure that if I had a prize fund of $1000 that would also help. But I don’t, so I will continue to offer the Steam games as prizes unless you have some other suggestions.
I have looked at buying Half-Life related items from ETSY.com and other “craft” websites and it’s still a possibility.
I have tried promoting the competitions around various other websites, but in general I get entries from visitors of RTSL. If you feel I am missing opportunities but not promoting them properly, please let me know ways I can improve.
I certainly need to encourage mappers to post regular WIP images and “diaries”. This can easily be done in the challenge announcement page but mappers seem reluctant.
I have always tried to push the boundaries of the challenges and have even suggested a kinda of “Ryder Cup” challenge where mappers from the USA compete against Europe but that didn’t get much interest.
Recently, I suggested a “chain gang” competition: People would sign up for a ten-day mapping slot. Each mapper will take the work of another and continue it. They can do anything they want except change any of the previous work. Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to interest the few people I discussed it with.
Well, this seems to be the crux of the topic. No matter which theme I select or suggest, people always complain it’s too open or restrictive. Location and Enemy based themes have been suggested as being the best ones but we are running very low on those.
I have tried to run a duplicate theme and that didn’t turn out too well.
What other options do we have?
It’s interesting the difference between mappers and players when it comes to suggesting themes. What players want (coastline, vehicles etc) and generally not what mappers want to build. Getting a theme that is good for both is a real challenge.
I want to run another challenge soon, but want to make sure it’s worth doing, so please let me know your thoughts on the topic and let’s hope we can create a new generation of mapping challenge while we wait for Half-Life 3. Which, by the way, will definitely breath new life into the challenges.