Author Topic: Homebrew Optimization Contest -- Brainstorm thread  (Read 12358 times)

Offline sirpercival

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Homebrew Optimization Contest -- Brainstorm thread
« Topic Start: December 10, 2011, 10:49:13 PM »
So I came up with the idea (thanks to Josh's poll) of running homebrew optimization contests.

Here's the rationale:
Here's another idea: we have a huge amount of homebrew on this site.  Why don't we run homebrew-optimizing contests?

1) Few people will be very familiar with the material (the creator should of course be a judge and not a contestant), but the system mechanics WILL be familiar.
2) There are few resources out there (in terms of handbooks and whatnot), so optimizers will be using their skills instead of parroting other peoples' work.
3) It will expose the contestants and kibitzers to awesome homebrew they might not have seen otherwise.
4) Nothing tests a piece of homebrew like a bunch of optimizers trying to break it... so the homebrew designers will get a ton of feedback on their work.

Thoughts?

So, to do this we'll need answers to a few questions:
1) Who's on the organizing committee with me?
2) What forum do we host this in?
3) What are the entry guidelines?  How many levels in a build, or should it be multi-level? What, besides the particular homebrew material being op'ed, is allowed?
4) What are the judging criteria?  How many judges, besides the author? (I don't think the organizing committee should necessarily automatically judge, since I know I'd love to enter a few.)
5) What's the policy for editing the material mid-contest?  Basically, what happens if the contestants discover that a mechanic is broken while they're op-ing?  Does the author get to edit, or do they have to wait until the contest is over?
6) What types of things are being optimized?  Just classes, or feats, etc. as well?  How do we want to handle it for homebrew that involves more than a single thing (like Rituals or Spellshaping)?
7) What are the rewards?

I'll volunteer something from the Ritual system for the first contest.
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Offline littha

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So, to do this we'll need answers to a few questions:
1) Who's on the organizing committee with me?
2) What forum do we host this in?
3) What are the entry guidelines?  How many levels in a build, or should it be multi-level? What, besides the particular homebrew material being op'ed, is allowed?
4) What are the judging criteria?  How many judges, besides the author? (I don't think the organizing committee should necessarily automatically judge, since I know I'd love to enter a few.)
5) What's the policy for editing the material mid-contest?  Basically, what happens if the contestants discover that a mechanic is broken while they're op-ing?  Does the author get to edit, or do they have to wait until the contest is over?
6) What types of things are being optimized?  Just classes, or feats, etc. as well?  How do we want to handle it for homebrew that involves more than a single thing (like Rituals or Spellshaping)?
7) What are the rewards?

I'll volunteer something from the Ritual system for the first contest.

1. I will help organise if needs be.
2. Lets see if we can get a subforum made in homebrew and houserules.
3. I would say all sources with level 10 and 20 builds for all submissions.
4. We need at least 3 judges to have any sembelance of fairness so 2 plus the creator. Have it be members of the organising group if we have enough people and allow them to step down and compete. Judging criteria should be along the lines of Power, Versatility and how close it is to the authors intent.
5. Probably ban all edits while the contest is in progress, just to keep the material on an even field for everyone.
6. This should be decided on contest by contest, PRCs should need all levels taken, base classes at least 5 levels (bonus points for full) and feats have to be the centre of the build.
7. Not that I have the power to give them out but possibly unique winners titles?

I would suggest something simple like a feat or a class for the first contest, just so people get used to the idea with familiar content.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2011, 11:11:47 PM by littha »

Offline Garryl

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Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

1. I'll lend a hand if I can.
5. Agreed, contest material should be as-is when the contest starts unless there's a really horrendous problem found. Similarly, new material designed to work with it should be disallowed once the contest starts. Probably best to ban any new homebrew material (regardless of the source) from after the contest starts to prevent the possibility of people cheating by brewing up their own stuff.
6. Individual feats will probably be too limited for a whole contest. Groups of related feats are probably varied enough to be contest-worthy.
7. One possible reward could be a custom, commissioned piece of homebrew, fit to whatever the winner is looking for. Sort of like how MTG Pro Tour winners sometimes get to design a card.

Offline Amechra

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I nominate a piece of my own Homebrew for testing... I'm thinking my Touched Warrior base class, just to test that one out.
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Offline sirpercival

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I think a subforum would be a good idea -- I'd put in a thread for authors to submit things for the contest (like Amechra's class).

I'm going to request a board.
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Offline veekie

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Hmm, probably could do with categories, since you want to contest similar types.

Off hand we have:
-System replacements - probably fairly tricky to mess with.
--Equipment replacements
--Combat system replacements
--Did I miss any?
-Feat suites - Mostly for martials
-Magic Systems
-ToB disciplines
-Races
-Themed Sets
-Classes
--Base Class
--Prestige Class
--Base Class replacement(that is, a fix for an extant class)
--PrC replacement(as per above)
« Last Edit: December 11, 2011, 01:20:31 PM by veekie »
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Offline sirpercival

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These are categories of contests (i.e., of content)?  What about classes, that's a very basic one.
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Offline veekie

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Deerrrppp, adding that.
Everything is edible. Just that there are things only edible once per lifetime.
It's a god-eat-god world.

Procrastination is the thief of time; Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves; The vast concerns of an eternal scene.

Offline Noliar

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So, how are we limiting the homebrew allowed in a build? Especially where people have made a base class + prc + feats + spells + items that are all supposed to be linked, would someone entering a "class" have all the related material available?
Presumably any given entry will be limited to one set of homebrew material plus all WOTC.

I would suggest asking for entries at levels 5, 10, 15 and 20.

Offline Childe

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1. I'll help (and will volunteer to be available as a judge if needed for most of the contests).

2. I second Littha's suggestion we requisition a Homebrew sub-forum (could simply be Homebrew Min/Max Contests)

3. This would vary by the contest, I would think. For instance, many could, as Littha says, use level 10 and 20 builds. An E6 contest could not. If we're also using this to gather homebrew feedback, we might consult the homebrew authors, who might have specific areas they could use targeted/tested, like "level 13 builds," if a new game element comes into play at level 13 that they're concerned about.

4. I would say three judges total: the author and two others. It prevents a tie.

5. Definitely don't allow edits mid-contest. To prevent cases where one submission/entry is seen and subsequently copied by just about everyone (with minor tweaks) because it's clear no other concept will beat it, submissions could be sent in via e-mail to a shared account, or PM'd and then redistributed/forwarded to the other judges. This way the submissions will present a wider array as they will remain private and thus not affect other contestants' submissions.

6. I'd say, run the whole gamut. There might be a class to test, or maybe a feat, or it might be a matter of testing a martial discipline; but there might also be whole systems, and those shouldn't be discouraged. Veekie's list is pretty thorough (with the class addition).

7. Definitely keep a record of previous winners, and include it in each contest (spoiler-blocked for the sake of space, maybe with a recap of just the previous contest and its winner in the main body of the post). As far as things like custom titles, we'd have to consult the Mods and Admins. This part seems less important. If the contests are fun, no one should be complaining.
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Offline sirpercival

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So I've requested a subforum.  Here were my thoughts about organization:

1 thread for general rules & guidelines
1 thread for past winning builds
1 thread for homebrew authors to submit their work for contests

And then each contest will have two threads, one to describe the contest and one for discussion with the author (asking rules clarifications, giving feedback, etc.).

I agree that the exact rules for entries will depend on what it is that we're testing (class vs feat vs etc.). We'll have to think about what sort of contest is appropriate for each of veekie's categories.  For example, how would people optimize a combat system replacement?  Would "builds" work?  Or would we need to run an arena-style game?

I suggest we start with something rather straightforward, like a D&D 3.5 homebrew class.  Proposed rules:
  • Allowed homebrew content -- The class in question, as well as supporting material by the author; all of this will be clearly delineated in the contest thread.  For example, if we ran a contest for one of my Ritual classes, the entries could utilize the rituals, feats, races, and equipment for the Ritual system, but not other homebrew that Garryl, I, or anyone else wrote.  Additionally, nothing new that's written while the contest is running is allowed.
  • Allowed other content -- Anything published by WotC.  No Dragon mag, or non-WotC "official" content like spelljammer or athas.
  • Build guidelines -- 32 point buy, 1 trait, 1 flaw.  No LA buyoff.  Must use at least 7 levels of the class (PrC or Base), more points for more levels.  Retraining & rebuilding allowed, but no DCFS.
  • Entry guidelines -- Present a 20-level build, including explanations of viability at various levels, indicating retraining where appropriate.  The more viable levels for the build (especially early levels), the more points.  Each entry must also include an explanation/justification of build choices (to give the author an idea of why things work together or don't).

Issues:
  • I'm not sure what we should do in terms of "experience is a river" -- do we give them some extra xp for spell costs, crafting, etc.?  If not, we force every build that wants to do those things to take Item Familiar.
  • Do we allow custom item crafting?  What about Leadership?
  • Do we reward contestants (at the original author's discretion, of course) if they come up with cool ideas for related content?  Like, for example, say someone came up with a great new Ritual feat or item.  Do we reward them?
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Offline Noliar

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Quote
I'm not sure what we should do in terms of "experience is a river" -- do we give them some extra xp for spell costs, crafting, etc.?  If not, we force every build that wants to do those things to take Item Familiar.

I'd say use the 1xp to 5gp conversion so xp spent in the past that is providing a current benefit counts against WBL. So self crafted magic items would be 50% market price + 20% market price for the xp. Xp from an artificer's own craft reserves don't count against WBL.

No to custom items and spells - the competition is to make use of other peoples' homebrew.

Offline phaedrusxy

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No to custom items and spells - the competition is to make use of other peoples' homebrew.
I think the MiC rules for combining items to conserve slots should be allowed, as well as custom staffs and things like that.

This is certainly an interesting idea. I doubt I'll have much time to contribute or participate in it till the new year, though.
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Offline littha

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One thing to consider is how we pick which homebrew to use, everyone wants their own stuff to be done (even me) regardless of whether it would make good material for a contest. I'm thinking the judges shouldn't be able to nominate their own stuff.

Offline sirpercival

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You mean the organizing committee?  I don't like that idea, I would love for my stuff to be in a contest.  We just need to put strict limits on it, and probably take a vote on successive contests to stop an organizer from flooding the list with their own stuff.

No to custom items and spells - the competition is to make use of other peoples' homebrew.
I think the MiC rules for combining items to conserve slots should be allowed, as well as custom staffs and things like that.

I agree that custom items that are meant to be customized (like staves and wands, etc) should be allowed.  However, the big problem area for custom items is CWI, so we should definitely put the kibosh on that.
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Offline Childe

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One thing to consider is how we pick which homebrew to use, everyone wants their own stuff to be done (even me) regardless of whether it would make good material for a contest. I'm thinking the judges shouldn't be able to nominate their own stuff.

Why not a two-step random process? Randomly select one of the categories, then randomly select a Homebrew on the forum that matches the category; or something like that.

Or what about a poll? Give the people what they want, literally.
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Offline veekie

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Need to make sure the category is actually occupied first, but we could have a poll for both category and the specific items to put to the test.
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Offline sirpercival

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Or just choose a subset from the topics that are submitted by the authors.

We can't choose randomly from the board, there are authors who don't have the time or inclination to judge such a contest.
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Offline littha

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You mean the organizing committee?  I don't like that idea, I would love for my stuff to be in a contest.  We just need to put strict limits on it, and probably take a vote on successive contests to stop an organizer from flooding the list with their own stuff.

I would love some of my stuff to be in there too but just because you can't vote for your own stuff doesn't mean that somebody else wont put it up, especially if they cant put their own stuff on. It promotes better homebrew for use because everyone thinks their own stuff is perfect but when others get to choose only the quality shows through... in theory at least.

Offline sirpercival

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Oh, okay -- I misunderstood.  I thought you meant that none of the organizers' material would be allowed in contests.  I'm fine with not being able to submit your own.
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