Sunday, June 21, 2009

You can tell crunch time is coming

Picking the final products in each category is undoubtedly the hardest part of judging.  You're never quite satisfied, there's always something else you wish had made the list.
It's also the fun part though, or at least the days leading up to it is.  Today has been one of those days.  I've seen more discussion among the judges today than at any other point this year.  Even though it's little stuff it's great.
As a judge you kind of long to talk about some of the stuff you've read or seen, to discuss the stuff you really love, and to have some input on the choices you've made.  The problem is that there's no good way to do it until the announcements come out, and then you spend so much time defending the decisions you make that it loses some of its enjoyment.
Days like today, however, are nice because you get to talk a little bit without any kind of pressure.  It gets better as you get closer and stsart talking about why you like things, but for now it's just nice to make you feelings about some products known.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Finalized the list of Entries

Ok, I just went through every book I have. This list should be correct now.

I added the following:
This Favored Land - Arc Dreams
Hellfrost Player's Guide - Triple Ace Games
Slipstream - Pinnacle Entertainment Group
Starblazer Adventures - Cubicle Seven
Wraith Recon - Mongoose
Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen - Magnum Opus Press
Cartoon Action Hour Season 2 - Spectrum Games
Slasher Flick - Spectrum Games
Halls of the Giant Kings Dungeon Tiles - WotC
Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide - WotC
King of the Trollhaunt Warrens - WotC
Player's Handbook 2 - WotC
Adventurers' Vault - WotC
Dungeon Delve - WotC
Animalcast Podcast - Episodes 46, 58, 60, 71, 84

Making selections

I know I've been quiet lately. With the end of submissions I've really buckled down a lot in the last couple weeks. Primary reading is done, even on the newest arivals, and I can't imagine anything else coming in at this point, so now I'm in the "narrowing down" phase.

Everyone does this differently. Me, I take a lot of notes when I first go through the books, add sticky tabs to anything that catches my eye, and seperate entries into piles. After all that's done I print out the list of every product that has been entered uring the year, and go through them all, entry by entry, highlighting the list so I know that I've checked everything.

As I look at each entry I decide which categories I might be interested in nominationg it for. There's no real attempt to narrow down the lists at this point. I just organize it a bit, and add anything I think might have a real chance for my nomination. Each category gets a piece of paper, anything that might fit gets it's name added to the list.

It's during this stage that I go back and re-read anything that I don't comfortably remember, and make an effort to go through every product page by page. Other than initial reading this is the most time-consuming part of the process, and it's what I'm working on right now.

After this I'll go through the lists for each category and narrow them down to five products in each. I have a couple more weeks before I have to be done with this part, but when I do finish it'll be time to compare my lists to the other judges'.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I hate judging podcasts

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad there is a podcasting category, heck, I was the one who suggested it back in 2007 when it was added to the awards, but it's tough.

Podcasts aren't like books. They each do different things well, and in the end it's not all about content. I can look at two RPGs and see which is better at stating its goals, playing towards them, and teaching me how to do it.

Podcasts are different, there's so much more to judge. Some of the best podcasts are at their weakest when trying to present actual game content. Some ar more entertaining, some sound better, some teach you how to play better, some make you want to go out and write, and some make you want to grab some dice and go play.

Which of those things is really the most important?

Last time I did this we tried to go for a broad spectum, select completely different podcasts with completely different strengths, and I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. Still, I can't help but wonder if there isn't a better way.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The last day for entries comes to a close

Well, this is it, the final day for entries to be mailed out. I'm sure a few more products will be trickling in over the next few days, but everything to be considered should have been postmarked by today.

I'll tell you, it's quite a list. Apparently I'm not the only one who perpetually thinks to do things at the last possible moment. There's a lot of website entries from today, and at least one major publisher who submited.

I'll get to those when they're in hand, but for now I have a bunch of stuff to update. A big box from Catalyst came in full of CthulhuTech and Shadowrun goodness, and a ton more websites.

This is easily the best year for website submissions we've ever had. A special thanks to Dave Chalker, who really made this come together. I honestly don't think this category would have happened this year if it weren't for his help and support.

So, here's today's list. It may not exactly be final, I know a couple entry forms were submitted that I haven't seen, but here's what I know for sure:

CthulhuTech: Vade Mucum
Shadowrun: Ghost Cartels