The Great Cardsmith Designer Search - Feedback Thread

Attention Cardsmiths!

If you participated, followed, or are interested in participating in any (potential) future Great Cardsmith Designer Search (GCDS) challenges, this thread is for you!

I am looking for your feedback on each and every part of the challenges. Here is a list of some topics off of the top of my head:

1) The Challenge Themes
a) Stage 1: Enemy Multicolor Uncommons
http://forums.mtgcardsmith.com/discussion/3945/the-great-cardsmith-designer-search-stage-1-the-design-challenge#latest
b) Stage 2: Hybrid Mana
http://forums.mtgcardsmith.com/discussion/3957/the-great-cardsmith-design-search-stage-2-the-hybrid-challenge#latest
c) Stage 3: Mechanic Redux
http://forums.mtgcardsmith.com/discussion/3976/the-great-cardsmith-design-search-stage-3-the-mechanic-redux-challenge#latest
d) Stage 4: Vertical Cycle
http://forums.mtgcardsmith.com/discussion/4004/the-great-cardsmith-designer-search-stage-4-vertical-cycles#latest
e) Stage 5: Custom Mechanic
http://forums.mtgcardsmith.com/discussion/4027/the-great-cardsmith-designer-search-stage-5-the-custom-mechanic-challenge#latest
f) Stage 6: Limited Archetype
http://forums.mtgcardsmith.com/discussion/4068/the-great-cardsmith-designer-search-stage-6-the-limited-archetype-challenge#latest
g) Stage 7: The Gauntlet
http://forums.mtgcardsmith.com/discussion/4109/the-great-cardsmith-designer-search-stage-7-the-gauntlet#latest

2) Contest Rules
a) Number of Entries
b) Time to submit entries
c) Entry criteria
d) Rules clarity

3) Mega-Challenge Rules
a) Delay Time
b) Cut to top 8
c) Number of stages
d) Overall contest duration/pacing

4) Judging
a) Written feedback length
b) scoring system
c) judging methodology
d) explanation clarity
e) Use of google docs

5) Prizes
a) Stage Prizes
b) elimination Prizes
c) Winner's Prizes

Any feedback in these categories or any other things you have input on is fair game. I am looking for:
A) Things you liked
B) things you didn’t like
C) Things to add/remove
D) Suggestions for improvement
E) general comments/other

Please reference the topic number and category (for example, 3A for Delay Time) in your comments as this will make it much easier to parse comments in the same category by multiple people.

Comments

  • edited January 17
    1) The Challenge Themes
    a) Stage 1: Enemy Multicolor Uncommons
    An original from GDS3! It's perfect to really see what a Cardsmith is made of as the restrictions quickly go from "anything goes" to "very very specific". My only issue was not being able to design for each rarity, as the really wild designs were my personal favourite part of the original GDS3 challenge. To me, it pushed you to look more to developer skills and less to designer skills than the original rules.

    b) Stage 2: Hybrid Mana
    I think this was my least favourite challenge because the theme was really close to the previous one (a cycle of multicoloured cards). Moreover, hybrid mana has a very restrictive design space, which pushed the participants to design similar cards and made it again less about design and more about development than I personally like.

    c) Stage 3: Mechanic Redux
    I found the idea truly brilliant. I could totally see this be an official GDS challenge, it pushed you to make new things out of old mechanics, definitely a designer skill, and the ravnican aspect made it really flavourful, like the best original GDS3 challenges. As an idea for improvement, it would have been interesting to let us choose the mechanic. It's basically seeing if the players can reproduce the white board from the Making Magic article of Ravnica Allegiance:

    image


    d) Stage 4: Vertical Cycle
    I like that it was more open that the previous challenges, it's good to have a mix ^^ Because "design a card for each rarity" was part of most challenges rules anyways, it felt a little like an "anything goes" challenge though. If you removed a card from the previous challenge, it would basically have fitted.

    e) Stage 5: Custom Mechanic
    Another classic GDS3 challenge! Creating new mechanics is such a core skills of designing MTG cards, this challenge is always a super interesting one =)

    f) Stage 6: Limited Archetype
    I understood the concept but like the Vertical Cycle challenge it felt a bit like "anything goes". I liked that there was en emphasis on creating something new that hasn't been done before, I probably would have made that the name of the challenge. Once again, I'm not a huge fan of challenges where you don't get to design above uncommon rarities.

    g) Stage 7: The Gauntlet
    I love the core concept. I do think there were too many restrictions though. The point of the challenge restrictions is to breed creativity. I feel that with this challenge we hit the point where it actually prevents the participants from creating the best possible designs, as most entries felt clunky in a few ways. If I did this again, I would remove the "you can't use the same restriction twice" as it basically doubles the amount of restriction, and the "you need at lest 2 restrictions on each card".

    2) Contest Rules
    a) Number of Entries
    Five-ish cards felt like just the right amount to express an idea ^^

    b) Time to submit entries
    One week felt right, I usually had enough time to explore two, sometimes three, different paths before choosing what to submit and start actually making the cards. The key aspect is probably the number of week-ends it includes, I preferred to have the week-end near the deadline when it was time to flesh out the cards.

    c) Entry criteria
    As I said above, I'm not a fan of challenges where we don't have access to rarities above uncommon because it pushes more towards developer skills than designer skills. But overall, I feel that it was varied enough with rarities, colours card types, etc. It tested a lot of different skills and that was quite enjoyable ^^ I do feel you have an obsession over multicoloured cards though XD There are some challenges like the Custom Mechanic one that really didn't need that restriction, in my opinion x)

    d) Rules clarity
    Your rules are *VERY* clear. Like, I've never seen someone be that specific about their judging criteria x) You're basically the Dovin Baan of contest rules xD

    3) Mega-Challenge Rules
    a) Delay Time
    I felt that was a good mechanic, though I didn't use it myself ^^ It's probably a good reason why you didn't have a *single* drop-out for seven challenges which is a real tour de force, I have to say.

    b) Cut to top 8
    The enemy multicoloured cycle felt like an appropriate challenge to choose the Top 8 ^^ Though once again I wished it had been all rarities.

    c) Number of stages
    Maybe seven was a little much, especially since some challenges repeated themselves a little. Still, you had no drop-out, so I think it's fine ^^

    d) Overall contest duration/pacing
    You kept an incredible pacing with your judging with one challenge per week which is part of what made the contest so enjoyable to me ^^ It was a long experience but it felt worth it :)

    4) Judging
    a) Written feedback length
    That amount of detailed feedback is incredible! Congratulations, truly! I feel like you could actually make them shorter, more like the GDS3 comments, and it would still be an incredible amount of work :o

    b) scoring system
    I'm myself not a big fan of scoring systems. I think they distort the importance of the different elements of design, and reduce the impact of the overall entry. For instance, I think the balance between "classically clever" and "daringly rules-breaking" cards in an entry is a very important factor. So, I myself prefer relative ranking. That being said, it's clearly your style, you like a lot of rules and order (even this feedback thread is a coded bulleted list xD) and if the score system suits you I'm fine with it, do what makes you feel more at ease and let the participants adapt to your style. Trying to read what you liked and didn't like in MTG designs in general was just as much a part of the contest itself ^^

    c) judging methodology
    We have quite different judging styles, so my opinion is often a little divergent from yours on the details. From my point of view, you separated a bit from the original GDS3 where it didn't matter as much if the card were perfectly worded/costed, and they tended to be much harsher on designs that were technically perfect but didn't bring anything new to the table. That being said, we all have our own judging styles, and it's the participants' role to adapt to the judge, not the opposite ^^

    d) explanation clarity
    Your explanation was always very exhaustive and clear :) You're really good at examining every detail of an entry.

    e) Use of google docs
    The Google Docs was useful and it was definitely the best way to do it considering the length of each review, though I kind of miss the public aspect of the comments from the original GDS3. I doubt anyone outside the participants themselves looked at the Google Doc.

    5) Prizes
    To me, your prize system in general was great ^^ Nothing to report here :) Those months of premium memberships were really generous, thank you! You really didn't have to! I would have enjoyed it just as much without you spending actual money >.< But really, thanks =D

    ___

    Here you go! It's always more difficult to convey the positive things so I want to say this here so it's clear: this contest was an incredible and very positive experience overall ^^ I wrote a bunch of stuff above to make you think of different aspects of the contest, but really the bottom line is that you made it a very enjoyable experience by taking the creation of those challenges so seriously :) To me, it's one of those big events that really make this website special and worth it, I'll probably remember it in a few years ^^
  • I meant to comment on this (I guess I forgot).

    The main take-away I have is that something of this magnitude and complexity feels like it desperately needs a "panel" of judges--like the real thing. The couple of small portions of GDS analysis I've read makes it clear that each "judge" has their own unique opinion and, often, catches something really good or bad about a design that everyone else missed. With only one individual tackling all the submissions and aspects of each, many things get missed or misinterpreted and there isn't a consensus to analyse before giving final verdicts.

    Long-story-short:
    I think you need two or more individuals under you that assist in "scoring" each submission for your own benefit as well as for the benefit of every entrant.


    On the whole, I feel you did superbly and made a herculean effort to host an unbelievably interesting and well structured slew of contests!
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