NAID's demo compo was probably one of the best judged compos of any party, and I'm not saying that because I was one of the judges. :-) There were several reasons why:
The demos all had to be in by a certain deadline, but it wasn't just a formality--they had to be tested on the compo machine *before* the compo actually began. Think about how smart this was: By testing beforehand, all the different system configurations that had to be done were in place before the compo began, thus eliminating delays in the compo. We found it also had a great side-benefit: Two of the demos crashed, so we were able to notify the programmers, and both of them were able to fix their demos before the compo began. As a result, all 11 demos submitted ran perfectly, and each demo got a fair shot.
The judges were not only from different geographical backgrounds (a Scottsman, two French-Canadians, and three Americans), but all had differing levels of experience:
The mix of people helped to get a good, round, objective observation of all the entries. It also brought with it, however, some heated discussion. For instance, Cairn McGreggor couldn't understand why DareDevil and I had given higher marks to some of the 4th and 5th place demos--we gave them high marks for coding because we recognized some of the skills necessary.
On the flip side, some of the other judges couldn't understand why DareDevil and I gave *low* marks to some of the demos, and that was because we recognized some ripped code. Based on this experience, I'd heavily recommend that any jury in the future have at least two coders, because ripping ideas is marginally okay, but ripping code is not.
The rating system was designed to eliminate any major differences of opinion, and was simple to follow: We gave up to five points in four categories: Coding Skill, Art/3D object design, Music, and Overall Design. Five points was the best rating; 1 was the worst.
Six judges rated each demo, so the maximum score for any demo was 120. (Tome of Opticron, which was the 1st place winner, received 103 points, for example.) Looking back, however, some of the demos' points were so close (places 5th to 9th were no more than 2 points apart between each other) that in the future, we should probably give up to ten points instead of five.
For not having one European production in the whole lot, the overall quality of all the demos was exceptional (except the last-place demo, which was essentially a joke-demo). Many had great design; Tome of Opticron, for example, had more original design than Second Reality or Dope.
The audience has to be given some credit as well. They gave credit where credit was due, applauded when original effects were shown, and *never* yelled at the screen.
All in all, NAID's demo compo was great, given the fact that it was the first ever in North America. I'm sure that next year's compo will improve tenfold.
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