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 19 Aug 20, 19:38
Howdy folks,

Chaos Dwarfs Online (CDO) have a long, unbroken tradition of running competitions, since the start back in 2007. The process have been tweaked and honed rather a lot, and there is certainly room for improvement (I always view it as experimental tinkering, like a mechanic). At any rate we could more or less copy over CDO's way of running contests to the Warp Storm, and then advertise on other sites and Facebook groups & Reddit for new contests. Always have a handy link list document for this careful spamlord activity. I've already overseen this export of CDO contest routine to the Ninth Age Forum (T9A), and done a couple of Oldhammer Art Contests on the Oldhammer forum as well.

Prizes will draw more people. Whether it is leftover miniatures of someone's private collection/bits box, or company sponsorship. Prizes help. Contests are actually about stimulating hobby creativity and throw a fun event. Prizes and the glory of winning are bait. The competitive element is merely exploiting human nature, since similar events without the nature of competition draw less people. The actual goal is to get people to paint, convert, write stories and doodle art, and then there are some winners and prize handouts as a byproduct.

I ran various contests for T9A for a while, until overworking and burnout meant I had to cut back on almost everything. Without me handling it as a central figure (with a crew of go-to helpers to get the word out etc), contests like those have not happened on T9A. I could volunteer for one or two contests in the beginning, and perhaps jump in every now and then when I feel like it (probably not often), so it would be best to have others willing to take up the mantle on the Warp Storm going forward.

If you are interested, I could eventually take the time to copy CDO/T9A contest rules and tweak them for Warp Storm duty, for you to review and change around. Most of the demanding work is setting up the general rules and the first announcement. Once you've got a template ready, it's largely a case of copy-paste and changing where necessary. It's easier to maintain a steady stream of contests if you make it easier for the organizer to work through - this is why I've been able to keep doing contests on CDO, and an Oldhammer Art Contest, in the midst of overworked exhaustion.

I can explain more in specifics if you like, just ask.

One important overarching discovery that I've made time and time again during hosting of CDO contests since 2014, is that needlessly strict rules is an unwanted obstacle to freewheeling creativity. On CDO the old staff (still occasionally active, but they have not had time to run contests since 2014) ran contests with an eye toward building up toward an army book (straitjacket format), including rules on base sizes and whatnot. There was also a strong spirit of trying to create an even playing field, with rules around blank backgrounds and so on. This created needless friction and really served no purpose whatsoever:

Let people base their stuff how they like, and let them use scenery and cool backgrounds for picture-taking - we all want beautiful pictures of hobby work at the end of the day, so why restrict it overly much so that we get less beautiful images out of it all? If someone want to go the extra mile and create a diorama with extra models from other armies, then why hinder that project?

So a lot of rule tweakings in my years on CDO have consisted of streamlining and removing clunky rules which came about for well-meaning reasons, but ultimately just restricted people's hobby in vain. It's the rules born out of this long contest tradition and process of improvement that I'd like to export to the Warp Storm, and see if throwing some contests could help draw a lot of new members.

First off, what contests to start with? I can volunteer to handle a general painting & modelling contest around some vague open theme, and then an art contest after that if you wouldn't mind.

In case of interest, it will probably take a couple of weeks at least before I can get around to this rules write-up, so please don't expect quick work; it'd be something I would tackle an evening when I happen to have energy and time left over to do so.

Also, I can donate an alien head kit for one of the winners (gold if no other prize donations pop up for the first comp). Deadlines ought to be up to 2 months. Never less than 4 weeks, and preferably at least 6 weeks. Then about a week of PM voting before announcing winners.

Cheers
Element Games - Wargaming Webstore
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 19 Aug 20, 20:44
Hey Matte!

So first of all thanks for taking an interest!

Contests will be a thing, at some point, but currently they're not my main focus, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly (though in no particular order), member numbers. Obviously to run a successful competition you're going to need a reasonable number of entries, and with so few of us here that's not currently possible.

Secondly, organisation. Not so much the effort required to set up and run the competition itself, but the framework within which it's done. Should there be different categories for people of different skill levels? Someone who is new to the hobby would be easily disheartened if more veteran hobbyists picked up every prize, but then how do you decide where the cut off is for each group?
The inclusion of "panel's choice" or random awards might help mitigate this.

Thirdly, prizes. The Warp Storm is paid for entirely out of my pocket. Hosting is reasonable in price (although I have an upgrade planned that will cost me a little bit), but the software we use has been heavily customised. Some I have done, but much of it is with paid for extensions. My initial plans were to offer online store vouchers as prizes (likely for Element Games in UK/EU, as they are our favoured retailer, unsure about US/RoW), although again that would come out of my own pocket. I had also hoped to have an 'opening giveaway' of a fairly sizeable cost, but unfortunately the current world situation put paid to that - at least for now.
While some kind of corporate sponsorship would be nice, that's obviously only even slightly possible once #1 is no longer an issue.
There is also a digital side to this. While you can't see them currently, TWS has a badge system that I will also be tying into the competitions (they sit next to your rank badge, by the date above a post). Before I can do that I need to spend some more time in Photoshop, as I'm not entirely happy with the ranks badges we have at the minute, nor the style of the awards badges I had mocked up. That's something of a lesser concern though, I suppose.

I had hoped that something relatively simple like 'TROOPS choice', 'HQ choice' etc style contests would have been an easy start. Obviously individual forums could end up having their own comps, the 'Just 1 Model' idea could also be moved over there (no, I've not forgotten about it @James!), and if/when there was call for it I would love to include more specific contests - converting, scratch-building, dioramas, technique showcase (OSL, NMM etc), or even writing and drawing.
Again though, demand is key.

Lastly (for now) is rules. This bit is reasonably simple, but my only real question is about whether old models should be allowed, or entirely new entries must be used. Before and after pictures would be a way of helping guarantee the latter, but would it put people off?


As and when I can start to address these issues I would love your feedback, as you have significantly more experience with this than I do! For a while I used to help run the competitions at Tau Online many years ago, but that was purely in a graphical and administrative capacity. I made the sig badges and ensured that they were sent out, but not much more!
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 19 Aug 20, 23:49
As to numbers, the thinking was that the contest would be used to draw new members here. Posting about it on DakkaDakka, Bolter and Chainsword and the like, and hoping for the best. Perhaps it's too early, but I'm optimistic about it and would like to help spread the word of this new forum. I see a lot of potential in it.

As to organization, CDO has never done different categories for different skill levels since it's more trouble than it's worth. We've often done random draw awards among those not in top 3 (often my own contest donation has constituted this prize), since the chance to win something simply by participating often is a good draw. Some might get disheartened, but then again we've often had surprise entries in the top three; not necessarily always the best painted, but great in some way (conversion bits choice, perhaps, sheer coolness factor, maybe). We've always asked people to rate their votes after their own mind (3 votes per head, unless it's a very small competition - this gives a good scatter of votes). The beauty with a small site and modestly sized competitions is that many entrants have some chance of ending up in top 3 or gaining the random draw prize.

As to prizes, start small and see if things snowball. I could donate a product for most early contests, and if it's the only prize around, then perhaps have it as random draw prize? Prizes aren't necessary, but they add spice to contests so it's good to have something for most if possible. On CDO, we've long been in a situation where random members donate prizes to contests, and where one pillar of the community in particular (Zanko) has a standing offer of sponsoring virtually every contest with something. We also have a regular War Paints coupon prize for the flagship painting competition, and occassionaly donations from various little companies; this situation is something to hope for in the future, and something to build towards. But it is possible to eventually get there. On the Warp Storm, it could for example be sensible to follow a principle where you don't donate prizes at first, since you carry the website itself. Just a thought.

Another beauty with prizes, is that many of those who win a prize, do not have a need for it. So they graciously thank the organizer, and then ask him to please pass it on to another entrant, either someone specific which they think deserves it (usually not in top 3) or leaving it up to the organizer to donate it on: A great chance to redistribute prizes from winners to other participants. It leaves a good taste in everyone's mouth and help encourage people to keep returning for more contests.

Understood as to the digital side of things. Having medals/badges is always great encouragement. The customized medals on old CDO was one small part of the reason why that site couldn't be updated (the whole software was so heavily customized), which eventually led to us switching over to Discord forums.

Aye, simple and broad categories like that tend to work best most of the time. On CDO we've always tended to let voters decide for themselves if some entries are fitting for the contest theme when there have been cases of borderline doubts (often involving very creative entries - creativity and rules strictures often chafe). More specific contest themes are fun, and best intermixed with simpler broad themes.

As to rules, basically all models should be allowed, old and new irregardless of manufacturer, self-sculpts and scratchbuilds and conversions. Better keep a high roof to invite everyone and not needlessly lock out people. We've had member ideas floated during new releases where people propose we run a contest for e.g. converting something Chaos Dwarven out of the new steampunk Duardin miniatures or the new Blazing Taurus endless spell miniature. Instead of needlessly limiting what kind of models people can use (let them enter whatever they like), we have instead had a contest theme based on new miniatures. The Taurus spell release resulted in a contest theme that was open to any interpretation on Taurus, whereupon I entered a wall relief part (the one in the link is not painted by me, but by Ray Jones) featuring a flaming bull. Others entered something that had to do with bulls, and many times they indeed used the new Taurus spell that had inspired it all, but keeping it open meant that Oldhammer miniatures and models from alternative manufacturers also showed up. :grinning:

Before and after pictures are not required, but if someone want to include a picture before painting of some converted miniature, then they're welcome to do so in CDO contests.

In short, a rather laidback approach to running contests is the best one: A burst of initial work setting up rules and contest thread templates and badges if possible. Then every new contest gets a new contest banner whipped up in something like Photoshop (often primitively, but effectively enough to look decent), and thread templates are rolled out and relevant text for the new contest theme is inserted. A lot of copy-paste and tweak. Prizes included if any. Then keep the contest open for oddball borderline contest theme interpretations (these show up frequently, where you are left unsure if they really meet the criteria), letting voters decide for themselves. Preferably closer to 2 months' deadline to give people time to order miniatures and convert & paint without stress. Always ready to extend deadline a bit or even some weeks if popular demand exist, or if the contest organizer's life happen to get busy; then the entrants tend to get some extra days' bonus time. And then after winners have been announced, there are often prizes which get re-donated by winners who want someone else to have it instead. And if you have a contest gallery, you insert entries into it. Rinse and repeat.

As a random example, our latest concluded Golden Hat contest had a naval theme. Just see how varied the entries are, both in scale and vision: There are smallscale Dreadfleet/Man o' War style entries, 28mm mariners, one largescale Dwarf (Inquisitor size?) and 28mm scratchbuilt vessels. All allowed, no problem. Which then got filed into the relevant contest gallery after conclusion.

CDO has always sported its fair share of rule strictures for contests (too many, previously). A rather laidback approach tends to help foster a friendly atmosphere and good spirit on the forum. I know that a few contests before my own time sported some falling outs and friction over restrictive rules (the old staff's approach was more rigorous and less laidback), and I also recently heard from one of the old staffers (Nicodemus, wonderful hobbyist) that he had also concluded from experience that contest rules ought to be broad and open for wacky interpretations.

At any rate, contest plans here are meant both as something that possibly could help get the ball rolling for the forum in terms of drawing members via visible posts on other platforms, and as humble starters with some potentially more ambitious prizes/sponsorships if possible down the line if there is enough growth etcetera.

Just say the word if and when you want me work on exporting CDO contest rules here and write up a proposal draft. And if and when you want me to handle the first two contests (I volunteer, to give a demonstration so to say). This offer stands for the future. Best of luck.

Cheers!
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 20 Aug 20, 12:30
I think itd be great to have some competitions. It could even be without prizes to begin with until we have a few more just to get things ironed out ๐Ÿ˜Š
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 20 Aug 20, 13:51
I most definitely see that it would bring people in, but I think that a slightly larger core base would be beneficial. Admittedly the lack of membership is on me for not advertising particularly heavily.

As for categories I was kind of hoping you would say that - not only would it be a pain logistically, I also didn't like the idea of having to say "sorry, you're not good enough for this one"!

For the prizes starting small was my plan. If/when work goes back to 'normal' again I would easily be able to front a semi-regular (once a month or so) ยฃ5, ยฃ10 & ยฃ20 voucher for top three places, which I don't think is too bad. Also helps prevent the situation where somebody would be displeased because they've won something they don't want or need, but I know you have covered that already.

Digital is something I'll just have to work on. I've already wasted countless hours in Photoshop on things I didn't like or didn't use, so that's no issue really, just a matter of time.

As regards simple categories I just thought that simplicity lead to accessibility. No point in starting a Tyranid-specific comp when only three people play them! And old/third party/scratch built has always been fine by me. Love some of the classics, and I have my eye on plenty of non-official stuff!

And laid back is good. Keeps things simple for most (including me!), but also promotes creativity for those that want it. ๐Ÿ‘

There's another thing to consider. At present the contest forum is locked to those with under 25 posts. This was, in my mind, a way to prevent people from joining up simply to enter giveaways or competitions with cash value prizes without actually contributing anything to the community. My hope was that by asking people to reach 25 posts first they would be at least slightly integrated with the member base, and would therefore be more likely to stick around. Is that something that you feel is worth continuing, or is it likely to be more of a hindrance than a help?

Oh, and the fishing scene (#9) is stunning, very impressed with that! I've not seen many Fantasy style dioramas in a long time, by I always thought they came out really well.


(I've probably missed bits, but I'm writing this in parts while I smoke at work ๐Ÿ™ˆ)
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 20 Aug 20, 19:15
This will just be a brief response to the wall of text above :grinning:

I'm more than happy to chip in with either prizes or monetary funds toward a larger prize. Obviously garnering attention for the forum is fantastic and needed, so to are good incentives for the user base. As you've said @Karak Norn Clansman , some people on CDO prefer to pass their prizes on to other entrants which is wholesome and fantastic, especially when those prizes then go to aspiring/new painters, and it must tie a community together in the most fulfilling way.

Side note, I chatted to @pawl earlier and also thought that the #9 fishing scene stood out not only for its great excecution, but for its ability to be relevant and fun whilst showing off technique.

I'm also more than happy to help in any other way I can, so please assign me things to do, lie and tell me its urgent and it'll get done :joy:
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 20 Aug 20, 21:25
I think that an actual prize is definitely part of the draw. People can't be tortured into filling out a feedback survey, but tell them there's a free bottle of wine and they'll do it twice. I think that a similar thing would apply here - why would people register for and take part in a forum they don't have any association with purely for a profile badge? Throw in some potential freebies and it changes matters.

Oh, and I urgently need fifty grand, get to it!
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 20 Aug 20, 21:28
I wonder if element can do anything? In terms of comp sponsorships for vouchers or codes maybe.
As @Stephen said, id happily chip in to assist when your ready to make the jump ๐Ÿ˜Š or donate models hah... i will never paint all this lot.. probably even if i stop buying now.
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Site Admin
 20 Aug 20, 21:51
In the (very) long term there is always the chance that someone would be willing to help us out but it's not something that I'm pushing for, simply because it's a serious achievement!
And I think we all know that feeling! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Just been having a quick play with the FB page - I really should learn how these work! And I desperately need to find a better cover photo, for both here and there!
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Site Admin
 21 Aug 20, 13:39
Also, Twitter and FB now exist!

https://www.facebook.com/thewarpstorm
Https://www.twitter.com/_thewarpstorm

No content as yet (I'm getting ready for work) and the imagery could do with some serious attention, but I'll get round to it!
Element Games - Wargaming Webstore