Status of the Site 2022 Part 1 - Updates to the Gain Jam

Good day everyone!

About a week back we where finally able to meet for our end of the year meeting where we go over everything and review the year and high level plan what we want to do this year. The meeting itself lasted around 4-5 hours this year due to the large amount of stuff we needed to discuss so I am going to break these posts into 3 parts and release each one about 1 week apart so its not as much of a massive wall of text as it could be. It will be split up as follows:

Part 1 - Updates to the Gain Jam
Part 2 - Phase 2 Migration & General Updates
Part 3 - Update on the Main Site

So with that out of the way lets get into what we talked about with the Gain Jam

Extensions

As many of you may remember last years jam we offered a last minute extension which we really shouldn’t have. As many of you may remember from our postmortem on the jam this was mainly caused by a knee jerk reaction on our side and explicitly me failing to take the time needed to really consider it before authorizing us to go ahead with it.

To prevent another issue like this from happening in the future we are putting in some firmer rules on extensions for us to follow. In general the rules we will be trying to stick with are as follows:

  1. Extensions to the Jam will only be given under extenuating circumstances in which an external factor that is not under the participants control impedes their ability to submit before the deadline.

  2. The issue in question must be proven to be either significantly unfair to a minority of the participants or effects all participants equally.

  3. The Extension can only be up to a maximum of 24 hours unless extenuating circumstances outside of the control of Weight Gaming require a longer extension

In general we feel these rules allow us the flexibility to extend the Jam’s deadline in the case of technical issues on our end while helping to prevent us from trying to do something like the extension we did last year. We plan on keeping any and all future extensions as short as possible, and expect we will only need to go to the max (or past it) only in extreme failure scenarios such as a data center collapse.

Judging & Scoring

After some discussion with @Juxtaterrestrial it seems the 2 phase judging actually worked quite well. According to Jux the only main issue they hit was some unforeseen scheduling conflicts delaying some of the judging which was outside of anyone’s control.

He did bring up that it seems there may be some confusion over how the games are scored and we think the issue for that is two fold:

  1. The numbers are so large they are hard to understand at a glance

  2. Some users may have a hard time finding the rules and docs

Issue 2 we think mainly comes from the fact that this is a forum and not something like a wiki. Most of the time users have to go through a few links and download some documents to get the full picture. Unfortunately, we are not quite sure how to solve this issue quite yet but we are playing around with a few ideas which I will mention in more detail in part 2.

Issue 1 though we think we can help with by simplifying the scoring a little bit. Originally we set up the scoring like we did to reduce the chances of ties as well as weight things we thought was more important. We are going to look into simplifying the scoring on the sheet and have each section be 10/10 instead of 500/500 for example. We will release a few revised versions of the scoring sheet well before the jam to receive public feedback on them once we have them worked out.

Themes & Wild Cards

Now onto the largest change we have planned, themes and wild cards. Before I get to deep into this I want to restate what our 3 main goals with the jam are:

  1. Challenge devs to improve their skills

  2. Encourage development of rapid prototyping skills & try new concepts

  3. Try to encourage new devs to at least try their hands at game dev

For a long time we have been having a hard time balancing mainly 1 & 3 as well as balancing it with providing rewards for our Patreons. We want to challenge devs to improve and push themselves but want to try to keep the bar low enough for aspiring devs to try their hand as well. Also, we do not have much we can offer as rewards on our Patreon so allowing some influence on the Jam was one of the things we could offer.

We have never been quite happy with this setup though. We feel that we have been unfair to our Patreons while at the same time having a hard time balancing goals 1 & 3 with each other. After much discussion and back and forth we came up with an idea that we are actually really excited about and we think will help us meet all 3 goals as well as making the Patreon rewards more fair.

Theme

After quite a bit of discussion we decided the theme will be exclusively decided by the Weight Gaming admins and staff. We are no longer going to allow Patreons to suggest or vote on themes. We are doing this for 3 major reasons:

  1. We want to keep the theme as secret as possible and we have seen evidence of users pledging temporarily to try to get a leg up and its never been quite fair to be honest.

  2. We still want to try to make the themes a bit technically challenging to encourage growth and creative thinking

  3. We want to try to prevent the tyranny of the majority. We all know the majority of our users are into weight gain and due to that a fair number of suggestions tend to favor that or a related fetish. We want to try to keep it as neutral as possible to allow devs to try their hands at a as wide a range of games as they can.

That being said we are also placing some restrictions on ourselves. We are going to try to keep the theme fairly simple and high level from now on to try to keep the barrier to entry a bit lower. That means you may see something more like “use your fetish as a resource” then “hands off” like last year. We do know for some devs who really liked the tougher theme might be a bit of a let down but we have something we think will help to balance that.

Wild Cards

If you are familiar with jams like the Godot Wild Jam they have a concept of wildcards which are bonuses challenges you can do in the jam. We plan on adding these wild cards into the Gain Jam as well to allow devs to choose if they want to take on extra challenges or not and what challenges they want to try to take on.

The way it will work is each card will have two scores tied to it:

  1. An attempt score - basic all or nothing just for attempting to use the card a bit like the theme

  2. A bonus score - This is bonus points that are awarded based on how well the card was implmented

The way this works is anyone who at least attempt to use a card will get say 10 points or so for doing so. This is to provide some reward to those who made an attempt at trying these challenges. The bonus points though are where things go get a bit weird.

The way the cards bonus score works is we are going to set a hard max on the score sheet. So using the current 1st round scoring sheet as an example lets say the max is 1700 points. You can not go above this and the bonus score of the cards is not factored into this total. This means cards can be used to compensate for categories that you may not be strong in. Lets say you did one card and they are worth 100 points. You got full points on it but only scored a 50 and a 50 on your art and writing. With that card’s bonus points added in its actually like you got a 100 in both categories.

This makes the cards legit bonuses and can be used by teams and devs to compensate for weak points in their skill sets or hedge their bets incase scoring does not go the way they expected.

There will be 3 cards in total with each one chosen a different way.

  1. The first card is chosen by us on the admin team. Expect this card to be more technically involved then the other cards as this is what we want to use to try to encourage devs to push their limits.

  2. The second card will be chosen by our Patreons. This will work in two steps. Step 1) the Patreons will suggest a card (we are unsure what tier will be allowed to do this yet) and then Step 2) the suggested cards will be put up to a vote to all Patreons with the card with the most votes being chosen and ties being chosen at random. The main restriction here is we will reserve the right to make suggestions a bit more generic if we feel they favor a specific fetish. For example a suggestion of make them fat may be changed to the more generic make them big to allow for more than just weight gain to apply to it.

  3. The third card will be chosen by the community. A small hand full of options will be prepared by the admin team and then presented to the community for voting. These will not be as hard as the one chosen exclusively by the admin team but may still be a bit technically involved. The community as a whole will then vote on the option they like best with ties being being broken by random choice much like with card 2.

This all may sound a bit complex on the surface but we are quite excited to try it out with you all as we feel it may be a good way to balance our 3 goals while also allowing for more community input on the Jam.

For the most part I think that covers just about everything when it comes to our discussions on the Gain Jam. If you have any questions or thoughts on these changes we encourage you to state them down below!

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Good stuff! I’m quite optimistic for how the next jam will go. :slight_smile:

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I have trust issues now, ngl, but let’s hope the next one will be the best fatty jam to date! :muscle:

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As long as the theme doesn’t actively discourage interactivity again this year i think i’ll be giving it a shot :^)

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I think the last Game Jam was my personal favourites, but the disorganised nature of the judging stretched it out way further than it needed to be. What I’d also like to know is how you are going to pick the theme in an “neutral” manner as noted on point 3, maybe some kind of random word generator?

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If you would like to elaborate I would love to hear your concerns.

Ya us getting the used to the new judging system made things a bit disorganized but surprisingly enough it did not really delay the judging. Most of the wait was on the first round results and after discussions with Jux that was due to the unforeseen scheduling conflicts hit by a few of the first round judges. If anything our movement of the Jams usual start date from August may have been a larger contributing factor there but its hard to say.

No, we do so deliberately. If you look at the themes for our last 4 jams you can see we keep them quite generic fetish wise.

  1. The Holidays
  2. In the workplace
  3. Weighty Systems
  4. Hands Off

Out of the 4 Weighty Systems sounds the least fetish neutral but the actual description for the theme is use a fetish in a mechanically meaningful way. When we are choosing a theme we usually consider the following:

  1. How difficult is the theme
  2. How can the theme challenge devs to improve or try new ideas
  3. Does the theme disproportionately favor one fetish over another
  4. Does the theme disadvantage any types of games at first glance (RPG, VN, ect)
  5. Can we think of multiple ways the rules can be subverted to negate what we found in point 4

This usually causes us to go with more generic themes in order to keep the field as open as possible for devs on the fetish front.

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In terms of what the themes are going to be like, are you guys going to trend more towards atmospheric themes like the first two jams or mechanical ones like the last two?

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By dint of attempting to make the themes a bit more approachable, they will probably be less mechanical in nature. We intend to use the wildcards to explore more difficult challenges while keeping the theme less demanding to keep the door open to new devs while allowing veterans to push themselves even harder if they so wish.

In short probably a bit of both. I dont think we will go full atmospheric but not as mechanically complex as last years.

Thanks for the updates. I know how thoughtful the entire admin team is with their decision-making, so I think the vast majority of these changes will be for the better and well received. I’m a little bummed that I won’t get to propose my Gain Jam theme suggestion, but under this update announcement, it would’ve been more fitting as a wild card, anyways.

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I’m glad to see thought put into this and the acknowledgement of the extension error. I still have a lot of reservations on the wild card system. I like the idea of the “extra credit” reward system, but I hope when the score sheets are revealed my first thoughts will be to see how they are judged (1-10? all or nothing?) and how much they are worth. These numbers need to be carefully considered to make sure they’re bonuses, and we don’t have half the games adhering to four of the same themes. The community is creative, but with that many filters, we’re going to get similar games.

Also, I know it’s a personal sticking point for me, but please make sure the results from the first round of judging are accurately announced. It is incredibly poor form for judges to play any games before the judging period, and make assumptions based on that information.

I agree with BellyBelting, I have trust issues after my first Gain Jam, but I hope the errors of last year can inform this one in a constructive manner.

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Generally, wild card systems introduce very minor elements that wouldn’t really swing a game hard in one direction or another. I would figure we’re going to follow a similar model to try and avoid the situation you described. Our goals have always been to push the devs, but not to push them in a corner. Whether we do that well is clearly a matter of debate.

Everything was a bit of a shitshow last year (to put it mildly), we’ll be triple checking all outgoing communications to make sure they’re accurate. A lot of times, in our haste to give out results, it ends up going out super late at night after hours of working on putting the results together. This isn’t an excuse, just there for context. One of our goals for this round is to try to have a community manager-type position so all information is coming from one source, and has that additional filter to catch any errors. This should hopefully reduce a lot of the miscommunication from last year and make any news more accurate, assuming we can find a right fit for the position.

EDIT (since I didn’t want anyone thinking I was avoiding this topic) :
As for playing games prior to judging, I can only speak for myself, but I try to never play the games prior to final day of submissions (since someone’s submission can change up till the last minute). To me, playing a game prior to the round I should be judging it isn’t really going to affect my judgement, since I don’t have a say as to what goes in front of me on the last round, since that’s ultimately up to the first round judges. One of my top game from last year didn’t make it to the final round of judging, for instance (which is good, the two round judging system was supposed to introduce variety in opinions and it seemed it worked). Any pre-round playing would have only been to speed the second round up (as I often play a game multiple times to get a good read on it), but for the sake of transparency and fairness, I’ll wait for the second round to start and invite @grotlover2 to do the same.

I will hope that last year was a fluke due to bad timing and bad calls on our part to handle consequences of said bad timing, as well as a myriad of other smaller details. The previous jams were extremely successful, and if you do anything long enough, you’re bound to make mistakes. We know a lot of our decisions last year weren’t popular and fully admit to making kneejerk reactions that led to suboptimal situations for everyone involved. Only thing we can do is analyze our mistakes, try and resolve them, and move forward to see if we can do better next time. As with everything, its an ongoing process. If we find the wildcard system is too unwieldy, we’ll adjust from there. If we find that the two tier judging still takes too long, we’ll adjust. Etc. etc.

In the end, with this post, we wanted to put this out here now well before the Jam to both show we’re working on trying to resolve these shortcomings, as well as gauge reaction to the changes (both here and elsewhere). We always appreciate the feedback, even if its harsh. Keeps us honest and hopefully working towards maintaining the community and its events in the most beneficial way we can pull off.

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Since I’ve heard grumblings about various things, I’d like to address them here.

First and foremost, the point about other fetishes being allowed in the game jam. This is not a new change, literally was always the case going back to the original jam. There’s a multitude of reasons for this, but the biggest one is that if we draw any line in the sand, it becomes a nightmare to defend or maintain. “Why is X allowed and not Y.” We’re not interested in answering those questions, and as you know, the number of ancillary fetishes related to WG/inflation is considerable. Given that this has always been the case and hasn’t been a problem, we don’t currently see our policy adversely affecting the focus of the jams. If this changes, we will revisit this.

The other one is related to the notes about the extension. It should be noted that the circumstances need to be extreme (like a storm destroying the submission mechanism for a given jam), and related to the ability for people to either submit games and/or related to our ability to administer the event (or similar situations). The only reason we’re not saying “absolutely no extensions ever again” is because we can’t see the future, and there might be an extenuating circumstance that makes it necessary in order for the jam to complete at all, at which point we don’t want to contradict ourselves by shutting that door permanently.

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Thank you taking the time to respond to my concerns. Again, the mis-anouncement was something that affected myself and Seeker personally, but I don’t want it to happen to anyone else. In regards playing a game post round 1 and pre round 2, I just feel like it’s best policy to avoid, but that’s my singular opinion.

As for extra fetishes, I don’t think that’s was a huge issue for the last Jam, and I haven’t noticed any grumbling on here or the discord. I wouldn’t feel inclined to be concerned about such things. I think developers know that getting too contrived with fetishes will eventually turn even the most stalwart judges off, but there’s a clear umbrella of expansion related kinks. If I make a, say, water inflation game, I might be at risk of losing “Most Popular” but I have little concern that would sway judges even if it’s not their all time favorite.

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I would personally like to apologize for that. I was responsible for the announcements and compiling all the scores together so the fault ultimately lies with me on that one. It was very hectic for me during that time so was having a very hard time keeping track of everything and I am deeply sorry for how it may have adversely affected you two.

I usually try to not play any of the games until we have to judge them so I do about the same @kilif.

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I’m really liking the sound of a lot of these changes. The last jam was my first time participating and I’ll admit it wasn’t great, but I understand that sometimes you have to make mistakes in order to learn from them. Seeing how you guys have reflected on last year’s jam and are planning accordingly makes me excited to participate in the next one

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