The worm… the spice… is there a connection?

So… uh… Microsoft is starting the next Dream Build Play competition a little early, and this time it’s sponsored by Old Spice, with a separate, larger grand prize if you make an advergame for Old Spice. Wacky. But it means they can double their prize money and prize categories, so I guess that’s good news for entrants.

Remember that, as usual, registering for the competition gets you a free 12 month XNA Creators Club trial membership, which will let you play freeware XNA games like Kenta Cho’s GearToyGear on your Xbox (but won’t let you playtest or peer review XNA games that are on their way to XBLIG).

a pimp’s casual game is different from that of a square

Jayisgames.com has just announced their fifth flash game design competition, with numerous delightful cash prizes, and the theme this time is “Upgrade”. If your brain is brimming with upgradey ideas, then get to work, because the deadline is March 3rd. Jay’s previous four contests have produced some great games, so I’m looking forward to the results of this one as well.

gamma gamma hey!

A Québécois group called the “Kokoromi Collective” are asking for simple game submissions for a party called gamma 256. No prizes, just the warm fuzzy of a whole party full of French-Canadian hipsters “ooh la la”-ing over your game. What makes this interesting to me is the restrictions; pick-up-and-play mechanics, no audio, playable with a 360 controller, resolution under 256×256, and the weirder the resolution, the better. The submission deadline is November 1st, and discussion is being hosted on TIGSource’s forums. Hopefully Squidi — from whose game concept “Tiny Crawl” I stole the image for this post — will enter something.

And speaking of TIGSource and game competitions, remember that there’s only one week left to make your B-game for their competition. It looks like I’m going to sit that one out; I’m still not quite back into the swing of things with game design, and nothing ever really came to mind, but hopefully I’ll get something made for gamma 256.

Hey! Somebody actually wants to hear your half-baked video game ideas!

Rejoice, all ye kiddies who have “this totally bitchin’ idea for a video game” but don’t have the impetus or means to actually make it! As long as your idea is vaguely horror, sci-fi, or suspense themed, you can enter it in the 2007 Eerie Horror Film Festival Game Competition! The competition’s categories range all the way from “complete game” to “game concept”, and although the prizes have yet to be announced, they’re sure to be better than the uncomfortable silence you get from most people who you tell about your game idea!

OK, I kid. Although the vast majority of “bitchin’ video game ideas” I’ve heard from people over the years have been incredibly stupid, I actually have heard a few that would make awesome video games. So if your game idea sounds totally awesome in your head, and especially if it ALSO sounds totally awesome to all of the friends you’ve told it to, then by all means enter the competition, and I wish you the best of luck. The “early entry discount” deadline is March 1st, and the absolute final deadline is September 1st.

In other game competition news, IndieCade 2008, which commendably hopes to be another showcase of independent video games, begins their call for submissions February 28th of this year, and the Experimental Gameplay Project just began a new two-week competition today. The theme is attraction, and the grand prize is an internship at EA. Although it’s not explicitly stated on the competition website, entries involving a gigantic corporation that attracts fresh-faced, naive young programmers, crushes their souls with 80-hour work weeks, chews them up and spits them out and thinks nothing of it because there’s an endless supply of those fresh-faced, naive young programmers, probably will not be regarded kindly.

Super-clever (by which I mean “lazy”) developers will make an attraction-themed horror game and submit it to all three competitions.

Second place GET!

The second Experimental Gameplay Competition is over, and although I fully expected the excellent and much discussed String Theory to get first place, I was pleasantly surprised to see my own entry come in second. Congratulations to everyone who entered, and tons of thanks to Red Octane and the Experimental Gameplay Project for fostering the development of experimental games!

So much for that “every month” thing

Oops. Well, it’s been 3 months since I said I was going to post monthly about any game design competitions I’d heard of. To my credit, though, I haven’t heard of any new game design competitions in those 3 months except for these two:

  • JayIsGames is holding a flash game design competition. The theme is “simple puzzle games”, along the lines of the puzzles in Myst or… uh… one of the 9 billion clones of Myst. It ends on August 25th, and a DS Lite and 2 copies of Flash 8 will be distributed among the winners.
  • The Experimental Gameplay Project is holding a second competition, and to their credit this one sounds a whole lot more experimental than the first one. The theme is to make a game that is not a dancing game but uses a DDR pad. To qualify for the first round, send in your game idea (you don’t have to have anything coded at this point) by August 11th. That’s this Friday, so get a move on!
  • An anonymous commenter also suggests Java Unlimited’s Super Mario Programming Contest, which gives entrants until October 1st to design a Super Mario Bros. fan game in Java. Prizes include copies of Tribal Trouble and Wurm Online, and an exciting green 1-Up hat! Hooray!

Also remember that the Slamdance and Armor Games competitions from my last competition post are still on as well. If you know of a current competition that I have missed please tell me about it in this post’s comments!

Good luck!

Time to get your competiti… on?

I have a half-finished article about ways in which I think the video game industry could benefit from being more like the movie industry, which I’ll post when it’s finished. In the mean time, the item at the top of the list is “lots of little game festivals”, similar to all the tiny college film festivals that exist all over the world. A steady trickle of tiny cash prizes from various tiny festivals for his short film Bed Head bought Robert Rodriguez many a dinner while he was working on El Mariachi.

To that end, here’s a short list of game programming competitions and festivals that I’m currently aware of. I’m going to try to put together one of these lists every month of all the game competitions and festivals currently going on. If you know of something that’s not in this list, please tell me about it in the comments.

  • After the success of their “Horizontal Shooter With Boss” competition, Shmup-Dev has announced their second competition, which is dragon-themed, and ends on July 1st, 2006.
  • The Slamdance Guerilla Gamemaker Competition ends September 30th, 2006. It has a $25k maximum budget limit on games, and a $45 entry fee. There doesn’t appear to be any starting-time limit, so you can polish off older projects that are gathering dust and submit those. This is the closest thing to the “many little game festivals” ideal I’m aiming for.
  • Armor Games has just started their 4th Flash Game Contest, which also ends September 31st. As one would suspect from the title, it’s limited to Flash games. Scoring in the competition is based on how well the game does on New Grounds. They have some very impressive prizes, and bonuses for using Stick Figures and for 4th of July themed games.
  • Funny Junk is also running a Flash Game Competition, which ends May 20th. They allow 5 submissions per person, and the submissions do not have to be new material. The first prize is an iPod Nano, and the second and third prizes are iPod Shuffles.

Eating? Shopping? Tuberculosis?

As much as I like the idea of “lack of competition through obscurity”, I like the idea of lots of fun, experimental games even more. So I’m posting to tell anyone who doesn’t already know about it about the Experimental Gameplay Competition. The theme is “consume“, the prize is a paid internship with THQ subsidiary Heavy Iron Studios, and the deadline is currently 10 days away. For some reason, to qualify for the internship you must be at least 18 and a “student” (whatever that means anymore), but they’ll accept submissions even from people who don’t qualify, and I’ll bet that most of the entrants will be more interested in the challenge than the prize. Get crackin’, and remember that since it’s ExperimentalGameplay.com, the more experimental the better!!

Got a whole lotta shmups

Today marks the end of Shmup-dev.com’s “Horizontal Shooter With Boss” programming competition, and The2Bears.com has a handy overview of some of the entries. Some of these look very, very cool. Congratulations to everyone who entered! Hopefully this one will generate some more sponsorship and bigger prizes for future shmup programming competitions; I’ve heard good things about DarkBASIC, but giving someone a game programming tool as a reward for programming a game is like giving someone a free pie for winning a pie-eating contest. Honestly, though, I’m sure that the entrants were in it more for the exposure and the challenge than the prizes, and I would’ve been right in there with them if I’d heard about it more than two weeks ago.

And speaking of game creation contests, remember that there’s only ten days left in the Armor Gaming Challenge, and there’s only a month and nine days left in the New Grounds Pico Day Contest. So get a move on!

Update: The final results are in, and have been organized into a nice clean page here.