Thursday, 8 January 2015

Hall of Fame 2014: Aftermath

The recent resurrection of the Badman Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award (aka the AIF Hall of Fame) was something of an experiment, so I thought it would be a good idea to look at the results and see what lessons can be learnt from them.

First and foremost, someone who’s put a lot of work into the AIF community, both in terms of making games and in organising community events and generally trying to hold things together received (belated) recognition for their efforts. Purple Dragon richly deserved such an award, so from that point of view the experiment was a success.

The other positive was that using Google Forms for the voting seemed to work well. The only real drawback is that it’s not possible to stop people from voting multiple times, but that’s not something that I would anticipate being much of an issue anyway.

That said, voter turnout was something of a disappointment. I don’t know how many votes previous awards got, but I was hoping to break fifty votes this time around. That didn’t happen, which I think is down to a number of factors. The most obvious is that anyone who’s discovered AIF in the post-Erins era would  not be familiar with the lifetime achievement award. Likewise with the Erins being suspended, the AIF community lost a lot of its continuity and history. I suspect the result of that was that people either weren’t sure who to vote for and thus didn’t vote at all, or they looked at the award more in terms of who’d done the most in 2014. Palmer was the most obvious recipient of this, but he wasn’t the only first-time author to receive votes (Minterlint and Anna Nee Moss were the others, if you’re interested).

So while the number of votes cast was disappointing, I think there’s a case for not only doing this again next year but also adding additional categories (for example Game of the Year, Best New Author, and so on). Obviously, as it’s been five years since the Erins were last held, implementing those awards might be tricky. One way that occurs to me might be to have a separate vote for each year. A secondary question is when should the voting be held? The end of the year makes logical sense, but it’s also a time when a lot of people are on holiday or otherwise engaged and away from their computers.

So what do you think?

Should the Badman Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award be voted on again, in 2015?

Should other categories be added, making a sort of slimmed down Erins? If so, what categories?

And finally, when should the voting be held?


  1. Seems to me if you were going to expand it to a minimal Erins then "Game of the Year" and "Best New Author" would be the logical additions.

    1. Yeah, Best New Author is the one I'd really like to reinstate. There seem to be an awful lot of first-time authors who don't get much recognition and then (perhaps not uncoincidentally) don't go on to produce any more games.

    2. Very true. I'm not sure a whole lot of other categories are needed - they'd be nice to have, of course, but oftentimes people would just vote for their 'best game' nominee in every other category too, which made the other categories kind of redundant. 'Best short game' was nice, but kind of covered by the mini-comp and the 'best new author' award, and at this point I'd say use of multimedia doesn't really need to be encouraged, so if anything it might be nicer to preserve the purity of text-based stuff by not renewing the 'best use of multimedia' award.

      If we were to restore any extra awards I'd say maybe the 'best PC' and 'best NPC' awards might be interesting choices, and maybe 'best sex scene', but none of these would be necessary.

    3. Oh, by the way, I think it might be worthwhile for a couple of years to induct more than one candidate. Just because there's a little bit of a backlog with some of the classic names that aren't likely to get as much attention these days. Several authors probably deserve to be in there, but haven't got much chance of getting in any time soon, particularly if any of the more recent authors turn out to be prolific. Halls of Fame traditionally don't restrict themselves to one inductee per year.

  2. As for the low votes, I think you basically hit it on the head. A lot of people likely don't know that much of those from the past, so it is hard to pick. Even those who 'played' AIF for a long time might have been only so interested as to check reviews, download games, etc. and didn't really pay attention to those working in the community, or possibly even the authors of the games (or forgot them over time).

    While it was attempted to get some names out there ahead of time, it still might have threw some off just having to think up options as opposed to being given them. As an example, brokenknight's latest poll about which game people would like is over on aif archives and has over 100 votes in less than a week. It's just easier to pick something like that over who deserves a huge award for years of work during a time they may or may not have been active with AIF.

    That said, I still think it should continue. I don't know how well setting up an earlier vote for nominees would work or if rules should be put in (can't get a lifetime award for a single game or two? a year active only? who is to decide?). Still, it is a nice gesture to show those who worked so hard that we are thankful for it and that it had an impact in the community.

    As for the categories, I assume some could be added/changed based on certain criteria. Obviously can't have a best new author if none show up for some time. Hopefully that won't be a problem, and it may not have to be someone sprouting up during that year but over the past X years.

    Best Game seems like an obvious one. Should it be limited to only non-mini comp games? Or should they all be allowed, as they are all games after all and we may not see many larger ones?

    There doesn't seem to be enough games for all the old Erins to be passed out, but what does everyone think about just a couple of core ones? Such as best character (player or otherwise)? Best Scene (could base it off hotness or technical merit - whatever the voter thinks makes it 'best')?

    Whichever route it goes, definitely think putting out some options always helps. Deus, your yearly wrap up probably covers this better than anything I can think of. As for when, I don't think it necessarily has to be the exact end of the year. It makes perfect sense, but as you said a lot of people are off on holidays, vacation, or just relaxing in general.

    Originally I though the end of November, but you still get people enjoying their Thanksgiving meals. You could make it the first of November. Might mean anyone wanting a Halloween-themed game would need it out a bit early if they wanted a chance at a reward, but if it was explained well enough in advance any month might work, but "start of" or "end of" seems safest so people don't need to recall dates.

    ( Sorry for the incoherent structure - multitasking while posting =P )

    1. Yeah, back when I was a lurker I didn't vote in the first few Erins for similar reasons (ie. I hadn't played all the games that were nominated). But as you say, the lifetime achievement award is probably the hardest category to vote on, since the voter is expected to nominate someone on their own initiative. I did consider having a nomination round, where people could propose candidates, but I though that would drag the whole process out too much. It wouldn't have helped that the discussion would have been split over multiple locations either. Anyhow, I agree that giving people a list of options would improve voter turnout.

      "There doesn't seem to be enough games for all the old Erins to be passed out, but what does everyone think about just a couple of core ones? Such as best character? Best Scene?"

      For me, the problem with those categories is that someone would have to whittle down the candidates to a reasonable number before voting even started. I generally agreed with the Erins nomination committee, but there were occasions when they missed out something I would have voted on.

      For that reason I'd prefer to stick to categories that have a limited field, such as Game of the Year or Best New Author, perhaps with a minimum threshold (and if it's not reached the candidates get added to next year's pool, although that would probably disadvantage them,,,).

      Over the past five years there's been an average of seven non-Minicomp games published a year so Game of the Year should be okay (I'm in favour of sticking to non-Minicomp games, since Minicomp games already get voted on). The number of new authors is lower (3-4 most years, unless you include Minicomp entrants).

      I wonder if there's any pattern to when games are released? No matter when the voting period is, the games that are fresh in people's minds are probably going to have an advantage. It would also make sense to have the voting about six months after the Minicomp, to prevent voting fatigue, although that would mean it would have to be in Jan/Feb. Hmmm...

      Anyhow, thanks for the feedback :)

    2. Hmm after reading this and the other comments here, I understand what you are saying about the other categories not likely working out. Besides that, when people find a game they like they probably would end up tossing all the associated categories with it (best game -> best scene -> etc.)

      I was also leaning towards keeping the regular games and mini-comp games separate, just didn't want to step on anyone's toes. Tons of work go into any game, small or not, but it seems odd to give a GotY award to a small scale game that already won its merits from the mini-comp.

    3. Something else to consider when thinking about the number of categories is that the annual quantity of games isn't very much higher than it was when it was decided there weren't enough to support the Erins. Once the number goes up, we can start think about new categories and organising a nomination committee.

  3. Part of the low voting might be that lifetime achievement awards are a tricky category. It's kind of like comparing a lifetime award for movies to best picture of the year in terms of interest. The latter is a much clearer competition (thus a reason for voting) than the former.

    My ideas on awards:
    Best Game
    Best Story
    Best Scene
    Best Character
    Best Use of Graphics in a Game
    Best Technical Merit (this one might only be able to be appreciated by those who have authored games though)
    Best New Author

    I agree with your above comment about if there aren't enough entries for a certain category, just roll it over. Sure, that could affect a nominees chances, but that is an inevitable problem in polls like these. I mean Hollywood has talked about how certain movies that are designed to win awards are released at certain points of the year to maximize the attention they receive. I doubt authors would try to do that, but there is no way we can change human psychology of the voting process.

    I think having a nominating committee for the larger categories is again essential. Sure, they might miss out on something, but I think it is better to have it with that problem than not have it at all.

    I would do the voting in January, probably the middle of the month. That way one year is completely done, we have a month to do retrospective on it, and if a game gets added at the very end people still have time to evaluate it.

    1. I'm not sure that there are enough games being released annually to justify more specific categories (eg. "Best Story" and "Best Technical", which are facets of "Best Game"). For reference, since 2007 the average number of non-Minicomp games released each year has been six (I'm a bit reluctant to include Minicomp games, as they already get voted on),

      Also, unless you expand the definition of AIF to include things released outside of the community (such as visual novels, RAGS or HTML games) there would never be enough candidates for "Best Use of Graphics" without rolling over for at least one year.

      I should caveat the above by mentioning that I'm biased towards keeping things simple. With "Best Game" and "Best New Author" it's pretty straight-forward to come up with a list. Something like "Best Sex Scene" is a lot more subjective.

      Having the voting in January makes a lot of sense. Limiting eligibility to the past calendar year keeps things nice and simple. And it balances out the Minicomp.

    2. Hmm, not sure why I kept trying to think of a date before the end of the year. Your suggestion of January seems more appropriate. I would add that perhaps it should just be held off until the very end or very start of February though, just to 'keep it simple'.

      I think most people tend to just relax on the holidays, but should some nose-to-the-grindstone worker out there finish his AIF game in the holiday break, it would give plenty of time for people to play it as well as (hopefully) reflect on less recently released games.

      As you said, I don't think anything can be done about such thinking other than what we do now - try to bring up all the games released over the year and discuss them a bit, hoping it will even the field at least somewhat. This bit of delay at the start of the year would at least give people time to settle into their regular routines.

    3. I'm not opposed to rolling over candidates, but then I don't have to keep track of it.

      I could certainly understand why you might want the award to 'simply' be best game. You asked about other categories so I was just trying to provide some options. I think the benefit to more categories is that it grants more authors attention. Some authors might not be able to compete on the big releases, but more specific categories can allow attention to be brought to their work.

    4. " I think the benefit to more categories is that it grants more authors attention."

      That's a very good point. I was looking back at 2010-14, and pretty much every year there's one game that's obviously going to win GotY. So maybe we should experiment with extra categories for the 2015 awards. Best Sex Scene and Best Character seem like the ones where a smaller game could compete on a relatively even playing field, and they're categories that should have a broad selection of candidates every year.

  4. I think that beginning with something simple is better, I agree with Deus ExLibris on this, if the thing would begin to have success changes can always be made in the future.
    For one person that has voted only one time for the last life awards i can say that simpler means probably more people voting, if it's too complicated of if one don't know what voting in a award could decide to not voting, for something more precise i would prefer a jury of expert if we want to do this at any cost.
    The last thing that you had to consider is how much important is to have more people possible that vote, because without a catalyst all is more difficult concentrate people, for example Deus ExLibris I suspect more people read and comment your walkthrough than your articles (that i adore) and bbben how much showing something enlarge the people that follow your page in that moment ?
    Voting near or during minicomps could be a voting fatigue but we will probably have the biggest number of person (otherwise i would bet on minicomp as winner on numbers becsuse there games are released).
    Personally in a perfect world i would separate the two polls, each are important for different reason and deserve their space, but in this situation i don't know what it's the better solution.
    Sorry if I have showed a possible problem without present a solution.


  5. Is it worth voting on the basic categories (Game of the Year, and Best New Author) for the years since the Erins were last held (ie 2010-14)?

    1. I doubt it would hurt. Might be likely to end up with a screen full of Goblinboy barring the last year, and could likely give a fairly good guess at that one, but you never know. ;)

      Still, whoever wins, I don't see any harm in showing some respect for their accomplishments, and it would fill the void so to speak.

      Would of course need a 'refresher' for people as to the new authors over the years. I'm sure they wouldn't mind getting a bit of recognition. Whether it would matter in the long run (that is, if it would make them get that passion for writing AIF again), who knows, but I still see it as a good gesture.

    2. If we do a GotY and a Best New Author for 2010-14 (and I don't think that's a bad idea) then each year should get its own award. Even if there's only, say, three candidates in a quiet year, that's fine.

      It would be an interesting process to have a retrospective best new author award...

    3. Other than 2014, I'm not sure best new author makes sense. It kind of seems to tell someone they where the best new face on the scene, three years ago. I suppose there is no overall harm in it, just seems strange to me.

      If you are going to do retroactive voting, you should probably space it out (announce the 2010 list, start voting, wait a monthish, start 2011) so people have times to refresh themselves on the games.

    4. It would definitely be separate awards for each (possibly separate surveys as well, so that people don't feel obligated to vote on years they're not familiar with).

      Yeah, I think the GotY results would be pretty predictable (2011 is the only one that's a toss up to me), but Best New Author is more interesting. There's generally been a fair number of new authors each year (especially if you include Minicomp entries, which I'd be inclined to), so it would provide some (belated) recognition.

  6. If a retrospective poll is done (personally i like the idea if someone remember the games of the year) become even possible to give at least another life awards like bbben proposed. Frankly I'm not against to a life awards for each poll except the 2014 year that we can consider already done with the winning of purple dragon.


  7. Is it better to let sleeping dogs lie? What purpose is served by having retrospective awards? The authors weren't expecting awards and have moved on to other things. If it is for the readers, there are other ways of memorializing and preserving these old works.

    1. I guess the answer would be that a) there have never been any gaps in the Erins before (whenever they've come up after a gap they've covered the gap years); b) a lot of those authors are still around; c) yes, there are other ways for the readers to find good stuff, but if the Erins want to be a good guide to good games then it's better to be comprehensive; and d) the games might just deserve it.

    2. "there are other ways of memorializing and preserving these old works"

      Such as? The situation we have at the moment is that most games cease to exist a couple of weeks after they're released. After that, the only time they get mentioned is if someone who's recently discovered them asks for help (or they ask when the author is going to make another game). The Erins are one solution to that problem, but I'm open to other suggestions.

      Anyhow, if you're going to have awards as an ongoing thing, it makes sense to go back and fill in the gaps for reasons of both completeness and fairness. Completeness in the sense that the Erins aren't really fulfilling their purpose if they only cover some years. Fairness in the sense that if the awards aren't retrospective, then some people will be unfairly denied the opportunity to win an award (especially Best New Author, which they're only going to eligible for once).

    3. I haven't looked at the awards list, so these concerns are theoretical. The problem with "best of the year" awards is that they choose a single game from each year to be considered worthy of remembering. Is the 2nd place game totally without merit? Some years there might be two good new authors. Does only one of them deserve an award? Other years, maybe none of the works were that good. Do we give an award anyway? Is the winner of a weak year better than the 2nd place game of another year?

      Of the non-winners, are there works that are clearly not the best of the year but are still worthy of being remembered in some way? If someone is looking for interactive furry sex, which games are for them? Could a really well-written game about gay male sex ever win the Erins? Would the fact that PalmerAIF's games might be illegal in certain Western countries affect how well it does in voting? We want to remember those completely insane dolphin sex games even if they were completely unplayable.

      In the past, you often complained about how the veneration of GoblinBoy might be discouraging new authors because they could never hope to compare with his talents. Using the Erins as the main means for memorializing old games follows the same path by venerating the best while ignoring the rest. These mid-tier authors are what the community needs to fill the time between super releases by super authors. We're doing better than before. We're no longer outright nasty towards new authors who haven't found their voice yet and are still learning their craft. But we don't do much to encourage the last place mini-comp finisher to keep writing and to keep improving. We shower them with inattention.

      A different way to memorialize and to preserve old games would be to write a special issue of the newsletter that briefly mentions the releases of each year. For each game, it could mention reasons that someone might want to go back and take a second look at it. Particularly notable releases could be singled out for extra attention. The best should be praised but the rest shouldn't be forgotten either.

    4. "Using the Erins as the main means for memorializing old games follows the same path by venerating the best while ignoring the rest."

      While I can understand your point of view, I'm not convinced by it for a couple of reasons. The main one is that when the Erins were held previously, they didn't have any obvious detrimental effect on the number of games being released.

      "But we don't do much to encourage the last place mini-comp finisher to keep writing and to keep improving. We shower them with inattention."

      I completely agree with this, but it's a problem with the community as a whole. Reinstating the Erins would at least provide an additional opportunity for authors to receive recognition.

      "The problem with "best of the year" awards is that they choose a single game from each year to be considered worthy of remembering."

      Depending on the number of eligible games, I don't see any reason not to list the 2nd & 3rd place winners, much as the Erins did previously.

      "A different way to memorialize and to preserve old games would be..."

      I already do something like this on my blog, although it's limited by the fact that the games I highlight are based solely on my own opinions. Having the community vote would at least mean that the games being highlighted reflected the general opinion of the community as a whole.

  8. Naturally it would have been better to have done Erins the right time each years and it's possible that some authors could win and never know this, because they have left, but those retrospective awards are the best next thing, seen the actual situation.
    An awards is for always, instead a post on good games not awarded is something that, after an year, it's difficult to find.
    This is only my personal opinion in any case.