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Swedish Game Awards 2017 – Submitted Games

2017-05-31

SGA17LostAceGames.pngSGALogo

Swedish Game Awards is a game making competition for students in Sweden. The goal of the competition is to connect students to the industry. Theres 8 different categories:

  • Art
  • Sound
  • Narrative
  • Technical
  • Diversity Effort
  • Gamers Choice
  • Game Design
  • Game of the Year

Theres also a conference with presentations by companies from Swedish gaming industry. Recordings of the 2015 presentations can be found here.

There reason I post about SGA 17 is because I submitted some games for the contest. I submitted The Studie Game, Endless Midnight, Snow Maker, Awake On Crete, 5 Bladed Lotus, and Custom Poems. It was kind of overkill to submit so many games, but to be honest, it was hard to deiced which ones. The plan was to submit games for the game design category, because none of the games had enough polish to get into art or sound and technical (construct 2 for the win :) ). I tried to submit games that didn’t overlap to much. I basically have two types of games, one which is more action oriented, skill based with feedback loops, like Endless Midnight, the other more narrative, experience based without loss condition like Awake on Crete. I then included the other games because I like them and because they are similar but with a different twist.

I looked through all of the games (75 st) before the result and noticed that theres enough good games, more then enough for the game design category. So I was not super surprised that none of the games I submitted got nominated. What surprised me was which of the games got selected for the game design category, where three out of four was puzzle games. One reason might be that the only information I had about the games was from trailers, and puzzle games usually don’t look that exciting in trailers. Anyway here are some of the games I noticed that stand out in terms of gameplay:

There was also some interesting VR gameplays:

Game Trailer vs Gameplay Video

One thing I made differently compared to a lot of the games is that I used gameplay videos instead of a trailer. I don’t think trailer vs gameplay is a question of right or wrong, I would say that it depends on what kind of game the video is made for. I personally prefer gameplay videos, mainly because when I watch material for games I want to know what kind of game it is, and make a call whenever it is worth paying attention to or not. A lot of the time when I watch a trailer theres very little actual gameplay. Its hard to say if the game looks interesting if you only get to see the good parts. Therefore gameplay trailers are more true to the experience of playing. But in a lot of games, the gameplay doesn’t look very exciting, and the gameplay usually don’t tell you anything about the premise of the game. I would say that games that have more focus on narrative, strategy or something that is hard to understand if you just show the raw gameplay footage, would benefit more to have a traditional trailer then just the gameplay video. But I prefer to have at least some parts that have longer gameplay, ex 5-10 seconds, so you get some hits of how the game plays out, instead of only being left with catch phrases and empty promises.

Some thoughts:

  • Edit to music
  • Don’t show all of the game if its short
  • Have the premise in the trailer
  • 1 min period

Endless Midnight, Snow Maker and 5 Bladed Lotus are more gameplay focused, so gameplay videos work, but they could be shorter, and more focused by cutting together the awesome parts. Especially Endless Midnight, where I tried to recored multiple rounds, but ended up getting killed early multiple times, and only show a good round in the very end.

The other games, Awake on Crete, the Studie Game and Custom Poems, probably need a trailer, to explain the premise, and better explain the gameplay. The Studie Game and Custom Poems also lack sound effects so a good background music would fit perfectly there. Also, it was a mistake to play all of Awake on Crete, theres a difference between a playthrough and a gameplay trailer.

How to write a game pitch

The main reason I write this post is because I updated the description and pitches for most of the games I submitted. Some of the games turned out to be really hard to write pitches for. Here are some of the things I used to make the game pitches:

Value proposition – When I talk about a game theres something in the game that has value for the player. Its a kind of a promise: ”If you play this game you are going to experience X.” It has nothing to do with genre or gameplay or what ever infinite details theres in the game, its about the value your are promising the player. I could be about the genere or gameplay, but it depends where the value lies. This is a perspective change of how I was thinking about pitches before. I used to think that the purpose of a pitch was to describe what the game was, but because ex elevator pitches (a pitch the size to be described in a elevator ride) are so short you can hardly say anything descriptive about the game. So I tended to think of pitches as empty words, like a marketing trick, rather describing what the creators want the game to be, then what it is. I usually think about extreamly vague words, that sounds compelling, but are hard to actually implement in games, etc. A pitch promise something, don’t over promise, and don’t use vague words. They might sound positive but if the player imagines something that isn’t, the hype is only going to lead to disappointment.

Name, genre, setting, difference –

Hard to write a pitch for some of the games – So I submitted 6 games, all of them had previously been published on my blog, so I had some material already. But for some of the games, especially the earlier ones, I skipped the premise part, and focused more on game play. Its not critical when you are one click away to play the game, but it creates problems when trying to describe the game for others. I noticed this with 5 Bladed Lotus, which is the reason why I made a premise for the next game, CryoRacers inside the game. So I had a hard time making the pitch for 5 Bladed Lotus, Endless midnight and Awake on Crete.

PDFs – I also made pdfs, like readme files, which was included with the games. I wanted them to have the same graphical design as the game, but I had problems on deciding on the format. I would like to make a extended version of them to print out and have in a physical folder on events. Here are the pdfs: The Studie Game SGA 2017, Endless Midnight SGA 2017, Endless Midnight SGA 2017, Awake On Crete SGA 2017, 5Bladed Lotus SGA 2017, and Custom Poems SGA 2017.

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