Monday, July 16, 2012

Ennies judge, part 3

Nominees have been announced!  So now I can talk freely without breaking any rules, right?

Well, to some degree, yes.  I’m not going to disclose information about an individual judge’s likes or dislikes.  (At GenCon, there is a Ennies Judge Panel – feel free to come out and ask us all pointed questions there!)

Now that the judging portion of the program is done, where do the Ennies stand?  Well, judges have selected the nominees for the Ennies.  However, the public (you!) actually decides who the winners are.  Everyone gets to vote among the nominees – so the judges are just as curious about who will win as the rest of the gaming public!  (Voting starts this Friday, July 20).

First off, let me address some of the commentary I’ve seen on the nominations.

I am quite pleased with the nominations.  The final list reflects the collaborative process that the judges went through – no individual judge had all of these nominated products on his or her list.  But, all of us are satisfied with the list on the whole.  Would I change anything on the list of nominees?  Yes, there are a couple of changes I personally would make to the list, but that is due to my taste.  The reason there is a judging panel is so that the nominees represent a spectrum of gamers’ opinions, rather than anyone’s individual taste.

There has been some drama around the Best Free Product nominations, with some individuals feeling that the list of nominees is questionable.  Specifically, the complaint I’ve seen is that most of the nominees are not games in and of themselves, but rather products that require additional purchases to use.  (For example – We Be Goblins! is a free Pathfinder module, but it benefits from having the Pathfinder core rule book, which is not free.)  The judges were evaluating quality of work – not what sort of product was submitted.  I think this variation in product is what creates gamer frustration.  “Why didn’t my game get nominated, when it’s a full game, and you nominated something that is just an adventure” questions inevitably lead to the not-so-popular answer:  because collectively the judges felt the 12 page adventure was of higher quality.  Not comforting, but there you have it. 

Another interesting point I’ve seen floating around the web is that “the judges are clearly fans of <insert publisher / system here>.”  Nope.  In fact, without going into detail, the five judges have somewhat different gaming palates.  For myself, I will say that I tend to be more interested in “fluff” – that is, setting or characterizations or things related to role-playing.  A couple of the other judges are more interested in rules or “crunch,” and then the other two I would characterize as hybrids – interested in both.  As for systems, we each have systems we like, and systems we don’t particularly care for.  But none of that was as important as the quality of individual products.  Pelgrane Press, Wizards of the Coast and Paizo products received the most nominations because we respected the quality of their products.  The quality of the work speaks for itself, regardless of the system.

Overall, my response to all of these sorts of questions has been and will continue to be -- run for Ennies judge yourself!  Obviously you’re passionate about gaming.  If you don’t agree with the nominations, the only way to change them is to participate in the process!  It’s not the reason I myself ran for judge, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be yours.

Also, I’m sure we will discuss all this and more at the Ennies Judging Panel at GenCon, Saturday afternoon at 2pm.  judges panel info

Moving on…

Though I heartily congratulate all nominees, I would like to highlight a couple of particular products that were nominated.  (After the Ennies awards, I plan to do this with a couple of products that were not nominated, but I can’t go giving away my judge’s pick just yet!)  All comments below are simply my opinions, and not meant to detract from the worthiness of other nominees.

Dragon Age: Set 2
·         Nomination:  Best Interior Art

This is a supplement to the Dragon Age RPG.  It is a dark fantasy setting, and if you enjoy the Dragon Age video games, then you will most likely enjoy the RPG.  This supplement did a great job at re-invigorating the fan base of the Dragon Age RPG after the lackluster fan-reception for the Dragon Age II video game (which I happened to enjoy).

Panopticon (Eclipse Phase)
·         Nomination:  Best Writing

This is a supplement for Eclipse Phase.  The Eclipse Phase team consistently produces some of the most well-written books in the RPG industry.  The hard-core Sci-Fi setting may not be everyone’s cup of tea (I’m looking at you, fantasy fans), but if you want to be inspired by high quality work, look no further.  (Plus, the pdf is only $10!)

Lorefinder (GUMSHOE/Pathfinder mash-up)
·         Nomination:  Best Rules

Want some more sleuthing in your fantasy campaign?  This book has you covered.  A well-designed way to add some spice to a Pathfinder campaign – or a way to set a mystery in a fantasy world – this is a clever combination that should serve GMs and players well.

Invasive Procedures  (Trail of Cthulhu or Fear Itself GUMSHOE)
·         Nomination:  Best Adventure

This adventure scared me.  I have not done much horror role-playing, but this adventure was one of the handful I wished I had played before reading, so that I could experience that fear as a player.  Maybe one day I’ll run it for others.  Definitely creep-tastic.

There are approximately 100 Ennie nominations – see the full list here: list of 2012 ennie nominees.

And don’t forget to vote – voting starts on Friday, July 20 and runs to Sunday, July 29.  The Ennies ceremony will be held on Friday, August 17 at GenCon!

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