Theme Park Apprentice 6.1 Feedback Thread

Edited: April 15, 2015, 2:09 PM

Hello everyone,

Although TPA 6.1 is not officially over yet, I'd like to thank everyone for participating. This season had a number of outstanding contestants, many of which are in the top tier of all time TPA competitors. While I was planning to wait until a winner has been declared before posting this, due to delays in judging the final I cannot wait any longer. If there is to be any chance of TPA 7 being held in summer 2015, planning will need to begin ASAP.

After the disaster of TPA 6, there was worry that this competition was dead. However, TPA 6.1 has shown that there is interest in keeping the competition for now, even if that interest has diminished. While the exact details need to be worked out, preliminary discussion about TPA 7 has begun. DPCC has informed me that as he has never competed before, he would prefer to be a competitor next time instead of the host. Who will be hosting, therefore, is still up in the air, but if neither James Koehl or Jeff Elliott are interested in/able to do so, I may be running the competition next time.

It is always wise to accept feedback, and in the case of this competition it will help to improve future seasons. I have compiled a list of questions for specific topics that may require some adjustment, as well as a few new ideas. Feel free to answer as many or as few questions as you wish, and if you have other feedback to offer, go ahead and include that as well.

Questions about TPA 6.1:

1. If this was your first time playing Theme Park Apprentice, how did you enjoy the experience? If you have played before, how did this season compare to others?
2. Did you find the challenges to be too difficult, too easy, or just about right?
3. In your opinion, were the judges fair throughout? If not, describe any specific instances.
4. Based on your experience this season, would you be interested in competing again in future seasons? If not, would you be interested in judging in future seasons? If neither, is there a specific reason why?

Questions about Timing:
5. Theme Park Apprentice is generally hosted in the summer. However, this season was hosted in the winter/spring. Future seasons of the competition will likely be hosted in one of four time slots: Summer (June to September), Fall (September to December), Winter (December to March), and Spring (March to June). Rank these time slots in order of preference.
6. Would you prefer one or two competitions per year? If two competitions were run per year, they would be done in opposite time slots (either Summer/Winter or Spring/Fall).
7. Given that TPA 6.1 is just now ending, would you be interested in a Summer 2015 season?

Questions about Duration:

8. Generally, Theme Park Apprentice lasts approximately three months. Is this a good length, too long, or too short?
9. Except for the final round, challenges are typically one week in duration. In your opinion, is this satisfactory, not enough time, or too much time?

Questions about Format:

10. The previous two Theme Park Apprentice competitions have used a cumulative park format, where every proposal is for a component of one single park. Earlier seasons have had each challenge set at a different park, typically a major park somewhere in the world. Which of these two formats would you prefer for the next competition?

Questions about New Concepts:

11. This season was the first season to feature public voting by the judges and any tracking of cumulative scores. However, the cumulative scores were virtually meaningless. In future competitions, the cumulative scores will be normalized (each round will have the same number of points available) and given a purpose. One idea for the future is to grant immunity to the top competitor(s) in the cumulative standings. This would encourage competitors to win challenges instead of merely avoiding elimination and prevent a consistently good competitor from being eliminated for one off week. Are you in favor of or against this idea?
12. Another idea for cumulative scores is to eliminate based on a competitor's total score instead of their score in any one individual challenge. This elimination method would be used only with the cumulative park format, where proposals build on each other, and not with the independent challenge format. Are you in favor of or against this idea?
13. In order to encourage competitors to remain in the competition, the idea of a free pass has been suggested. This would allow a competitor to pass on one challenge and still remain in the game. The pass is intended to be used in the event that external factors make it difficult or impossible to submit a quality proposal, not to skip a challenge a competitor doesn't want to complete. Therefore, some form of penalty may be associated with the pass (such as a score of 0 for that round). Are you in favor of or against this idea?
14. Due to the number of drops this competition typically has, in lieu of non-elimination rounds it has been suggested to hold redemption rounds allowing eliminated contestants to re-enter the game if openings appear. While the exact details have not been worked out, these rounds would most likely be held concurrently with the regular competition. The round would only be open to eliminated competitors, but competing in a redemption round would be optional. The winner of a redemption round would most likely re-enter one round after the drop occurs and would be given enough points to remain competitive in the standings. This opportunity would only be open to eliminated contestants, not those who chose to drop on their own, and in the event that a redeemed contestant was eliminated a second time they would most likely not be eligible for another redemption. Are you in favor of or against this idea?
15. Lastly, if you have any suggestions for modifications to this competition, please share them. All reasonable ideas will be considered, so don't be shy.

I invite all current competitors to offer their opinions, but there is no obligation to do so and your score will not be affected. I also invite the other judges to share their thoughts if desired. Finally, if you spectated this season and might be interested in future competitions (either as a competitor or spectator), your opinions are welcome as well.

Once again, thanks to everyone for playing. I had a great time judging and look forward to seeing even more outstanding ideas in the future.

Replies (16)

April 15, 2015, 4:58 PM

I have written my responses to these questions but I think I'll wait until the final judging is in for TPA 6.1 to post them, considering I am one of the final two competitors.

April 17, 2015, 1:29 AM

I was a bit surprised my name came up. Running TPA7? No. Judging? That is a possibility, depending on the timing of when it is held. I don't want to commit to judging then have a situation happen like what is going on right now with TPA6.1 That being said, AJ, you're doing a fine job as a judge and apparently as the Donald Pro-Tem. What the heck is going on with the rest of them? This final round has gone on way too long.

April 17, 2015, 1:17 PM

Blake, perfectly understandable. I'll look forward to reading your responses in the near future.

James, thank you for the vote of confidence. Since you and Jeff (probably more Jeff) were originally going to host TPA 6 and both of you have been a part of this game longer than I have, I definitely think you two have priority in hosting if either of you want to do it. If not, however, I think I could probably do a fine job of it. I have no idea what is going on with the judging and am trying to think of ways to prevent this situation from ever happening again. With the proposals received in the final round and real-life commitments, I'd consider a week a fair amount of time to judge, but I'd expect an explanation as to what the delay is beyond that timeframe.

Edited: April 17, 2015, 3:22 PM

A three month commitment is too long and seems to be rearing its ugly head in the final round of judging. Are ten rounds necessary? May I suggest a five round format plus a final round for a seven to eight week commitment at most. Round 1: Signature/E ticket attraction. Round 2: Dark ride. Round three: Live show. Round 4: Restaurant. Round 5: Themed land. Final Round: Park overview. Condensed yet enough to encourage fun and not drain the competitors AND judges. It would be encouraging (and FUN) for the competitors to have four or five in the final round as well with each given the opportunity to share their vision of what a fantastic theme park can be as opposed to only two competitors with that opportunity. This condensed format will also allow for the possibilty of two competitions a year, one a cumulative park competition and the second a park to park improvement competition. It will be a FUN experience as opposed to a draining experience.

April 19, 2015, 5:59 AM

AJ, please contact me when you have a chance at jim@themeparkinsider.com

No emergency!

Jim

Edited: April 19, 2015, 10:45 PM

Thanks for your feedback, Keith. The duration of the next competition will likely be determined by 1. The number of competitors and 2. The amount of time judges are willing to commit to. While five rounds is a little low, a two month competition with seven rounds would be a possibility and would work with 10-12 competitors. If more than that number are interested, a three month competition with 9-12 rounds would be more likely to allow all interested to compete. It is unlikely more than three competitors would be allowed into the final round as long as it remains a full park challenge as the judging is very time consuming (for reference, not counting the initial read-through, it takes me about 15 minutes per competitor to judge an individual attraction while the full park requires 2-3 hours per competitor). If two competitions are run per year, it is likely one would be longer and one shorter, with one using the cumulative park format and the other the original format (note: formats are independent of length).

Edited: April 21, 2015, 9:34 AM

1. If this was your first time playing Theme Park Apprentice, how did you enjoy the experience?
This was my first time playing and I thoroughly enjoyed my experience.

2. Did you find the challenges to be too difficult, too easy, or just about right?
I found the challenges to be just about right.

3. In your opinion, were the judges fair throughout? If not, describe any specific instances.
I found the judges to be fair though there were a few times I wish some of the expectations were more clearly defined. One instance that sticks out in my mind was when DPCC criticized my Dark Ride entry for being “too long” (I’m paraphrasing) without explicitly stating expected length limits prior to the challenge. I rectified this in subsequent challenges but felt that, at the time, I was being negatively judged due to length when length was never a specific criteria I had to be conscious of before hand. While I understand the need for a concise, relatively brief proposal, I think “too long” isn’t really a valid criticism. Moby-Dick, The Brothers Karamazov, War and Peace, and The Lord of the Rings are all very ‘long’ books but are considered amongst the greatest novels of all time. Leveling a negative criticism at these works due to their length isn’t really a valid criticism. Don’t mistake me, I’m not comparing my proposal to Moby-Dick, just making a point about why, in my opinion, ‘too long’ isn’t really a criticism as much as a personal dislike. Also note that I’m not questioning DPCC’s integrity or judging methods, just my opinion on why I felt this wasn’t really a valid criticism in my opinion. Besides this gripe, I found the judging to be fair, honest, and respectful

4. Based on your experience this season, would you be interested in competing again in future seasons?
Yes. I would also be very interested in being a judge for subsequent competitions.

5. Rank these time slots in order of preference.
1.) Winter, 2.) Spring, 3.) Fall, 4.) Summer. These suggestions are based on my personal work schedule and load during these respected time periods.

6. Would you prefer one or two competitions per year?
I love reading the proposals and ideas, so two a year I would welcome.

7. Given that TPA 6.1 is just now ending, would you be interested in a Summer 2015 season?
Yes. Very much so. If not to compete, then to judge.

8. Generally, Theme Park Apprentice lasts approximately three months. Is this a good length, too long, or too short?
I find this to be a perfect length

9. Except for the final round, challenges are typically one week in duration. In your opinion, is this satisfactory, not enough time, or too much time?
I’m torn on this. Generally speaking, I think a week is ample amount of time. But some challenges, such as the Design a Land challenge or even the Dark Ride Challenge, could be extended to 8-10 days in my opinion.

10. The previous two Theme Park Apprentice competitions have used a cumulative park format, where every proposal is for a component of one single park. Earlier seasons have had each challenge set at a different park, typically a major park somewhere in the world. Which of these two formats would you prefer for the next competition?
I thoroughly enjoy seeing other people’s imaginations at work and allowing them to develop and create their own parks so I am in favor of letting competitors propose their own park and then letting them build it through the challenges.

11. Are you in favor of or against this idea?
Yes. Very much so. To be honest, as the top scorer for this season, I felt kind of cheated when my cumulative score was rendered essentially meaningless. A more regimented scoring system would be very welcome. All of the recommended fixes would be welcome

12. Another idea for cumulative scores is to eliminate based on a competitor's total score instead of their score in any one individual challenge. This elimination method would be used only with the cumulative park format, where proposals build on each other, and not with the independent challenge format. Are you in favor of or against this idea?
Not a bad idea. The only issue I could see arising is it would be very difficult for a competitor who starts with very little points to actually make it to the final challenges. Still, I like this idea very much.

13. In order to encourage competitors to remain in the competition, the idea of a free pass has been suggested. This would allow a competitor to pass on one challenge and still remain in the game. The pass is intended to be used in the event that external factors make it difficult or impossible to submit a quality proposal, not to skip a challenge a competitor doesn't want to complete. Therefore, some form of penalty may be associated with the pass (such as a score of 0 for that round). Are you in favor of or against this idea?
I am very much in favor of this idea. The amount of drop off in TPA has always astounded me and really deflates the competition IMO. Having a free pass would encourage competitors to stay in the competition longer. The only issue I could see arising from this is competitors taking advantage of the system to ‘escape’ difficult challenges such as restaurant, live show, or themed land challenges.

14. Due to the number of drops this competition typically has, in lieu of non-elimination rounds it has been suggested to hold redemption rounds allowing eliminated contestants to re-enter the game if openings appear. While the exact details have not been worked out, these rounds would most likely be held concurrently with the regular competition. The round would only be open to eliminated competitors, but competing in a redemption round would be optional. The winner of a redemption round would most likely re-enter one round after the drop occurs and would be given enough points to remain competitive in the standings. This opportunity would only be open to eliminated contestants, not those who chose to drop on their own, and in the event that a redeemed contestant was eliminated a second time they would most likely not be eligible for another redemption. Are you in favor of or against this idea?
I believe this is something that I suggested during TPA 6.1. I am in favor of this idea. Even more so than the ‘free pass’ idea. Having a redemption round would do a great many positive things for the competition. Firstly, it would allow top competitors to take a little break between all of the difficult challenges. Secondly, it would allow formerly eliminated competitors a final chance at redemption. Lastly, it would extend the competition another week or so, thereby giving TPA competitors and TPI readers more content to read through!

These are my responses. I do have some suggestions and other comments regarding TPA, but I’ll make a separate post regarding those thoughts. Thanks again to all the competitors and judges for making this a fun, challenging, and rewarding experience!

April 21, 2015, 10:43 PM

Thank you for your responses, Blake. A few notes on some of them (numbers denote question number):

3. One of the things I noticed was an issue this time was the level of variation between challenge descriptions. This was partly due to me posting a couple of them and partly due to coming up with challenges somewhat last minute toward the end. For next season, all requirements will be spelled out explicitly in the challenge description (it will probably be similar to the challenges I posted this season). As for length, it is unlikely there will be an official length requirement, but there will probably be recommendations, and it will be up to the judges' discretion whether to penalize or not if your proposal is significantly outside of those recommendations.

5/6. As of right now, I'm thinking of trying to do a two per year Summer/Winter split if interest permits. This will allow those who often have less work in the summer and would be too busy otherwise (such as students) to compete easier, and will also give those who do not live near year-round parks a fun thing to do during the off-season.

9. It is unlikely single attraction challenges would be extended beyond a week. However, for more complicated challenges a longer timeframe may be used in the future. In hindsight, the land challenge this season was probably a little too much for a one week challenge, even though the results were still spectacular.

10. Ideally I'd like to do one cumulative format and one original format competition per year, each with a specified theme.

11/12. I absolutely want to do something with the cumulative points next time, as I feel a reward/punishment system is something that this game is lacking and they ended up being meaningless this time after a few rounds. I agree with you on the issue of someone being stuck at the bottom, but if the same number of points are available in each round (ex: a judge's first place always gets 10 points and the rest are scaled proportionally) it should be possible to do so. That said, there could be a cutoff where anyone who drops below that threshold no longer has any chance of winning and is automatically eliminated, which would help with the issue of competitors who only try to survive and not to win.

13. In these competitions, the biggest annoyance to me is always having people drop as it causes a number of issues. Sometimes things come up, and that's a valid reason for quitting, but when people just disappear with no explanation it is very irritating. I suggested in a previous competition that those who disappear with no explanation be barred from competing again, which might keep people from dropping but is probably too extreme. The free pass idea is the best solution I've come up with to hopefully reduce the drop rate. Of course, if it were truly free, abuse would be guaranteed, and I'm guessing there may still be people who abuse it, but if this idea ends up being used I'm hoping to place a stiff enough penalty on it to discourage abuse.

14. This was partly based on your idea and partly inspired by the fact that almost every competition seems to have someone who was eliminated too early. The idea of using it to replace dropped contestants only occurred to me after having so many drops that this season had to be shortened. In the past, non-elimination rounds were used to prevent cutting a competition short, but in my opinion those tend to be a waste of time (especially if there end up being a couple in succession). I've actually got a lot of potential ideas for this one, ranging from having a redemption challenge any time there is a drop to having only one redemption challenge at a pre-determined point. I'm also not sure whether it would be better for the judges to vote someone back in or for the remaining competitors to do so (or perhaps both groups get to vote).

I look forward to seeing what other comments you have and am definitely open to reasonable suggestions. I also hope you'll be able to join the competition next time it is run, either as a competitor or as a judge.

April 22, 2015, 8:38 AM

AJ, you know how I am on brevity. This might end up longer than my final proposal.
1. If this was your first time playing Theme Park Apprentice, how did you enjoy the experience? If you have played before, how did this season compare to others?
Hardly my first time playing. Each competition has its high and low points. In the past the low points were the voting "irregularities" using the public voting. This time, and I'm going to be blunt, was the ridiculous problem with the judging lag for the finals. Blake and "Scott E." worked extremely hard on their proposals, and if we knew that we would have such a long time between posting and the conclusion we could have both done a better job and fixed things that we discovered were wrong, missing, or just not right. Having only two judges bother with critiques, one vote with no comment and one just not bother with the final at all was disrespectful to both of the final competitors. AJ and Chad, thank you for your hard work. DPCC, I commend you for picking up the loose ball that TPA was and getting it going again, but don't just forget about something you start half-way through it. We don't need details about what happened or why, but a simple announcement that things have happened and you will be delayed or unable to post or vote is the professional thing to do.
2. Did you find the challenges to be too difficult, too easy, or just about right?
The challenges were predictable. I know I've done more of these TPA competitions than just about anyone, but I designed so many restaurants, coasters, dark rides, etc. that I would love something a little bit different. I think the only thing I haven't created is a parade- how has that been forgotten about for so long? Putting something a little bit more specific, more "challenging" in the challenge would be welcome by me, something even just a little bit more specific, like designing a "wild-mouse themed coaster" or a "dark ride/water ride hybrid".
3. In your opinion, were the judges fair throughout? If not, describe any specific instances.
Having judged twice before, I have learned that everyone sees the same thing differently. That is why in the dark ride round I received three 1st place rankings, one in the middle and one at the bottom- all for the exact same ride. That is what you are going to get with a totally subjective style of judging, but it is still much better than the site vote which was plagued with abuse from day 1. I think the judges were fair in that they voted based on how they saw the proposal, not by what they thought of the competitor.

4. Based on your experience this season, would you be interested in competing again in future seasons? If not, would you be interested in judging in future seasons? If neither, is there a specific reason why?
Competing again? Doubtful- I get a "little bit" obsessed...ok, almost to the point of needing therapy! I enjoy it too much. Now if there is another Tournament of
Champions and I were invited to defend the title (something that has never been done in all the TPA competitions) I would come out of retirement. Judging again? That is a definite yes.

Questions about Timing:
5. Theme Park Apprentice is generally hosted in the summer. However, this season was hosted in the winter/spring. Future seasons of the competition will likely be hosted in one of four time slots: Summer (June to September), Fall (September to December), Winter (December to March), and Spring (March to June). Rank these time slots in order of preference.
Every time slot has its good and bad points, but if I HAD to rank them in order: Winter, Spring, Fall, Summer
6. Would you prefer one or two competitions per year? If two competitions were run per year, they would be done in opposite time slots (either Summer/Winter or Spring/Fall).
Two? Someone is a glutton for punishment. If you were going to have two different competitions, be sure they truly are different in theme and format. It might be worth a try.
7. Given that TPA 6.1 is just now ending, would you be interested in a Summer 2015 season?
Only if you pay for my divorce lawyer
Questions about Duration:
8. Generally, Theme Park Apprentice lasts approximately three months. Is this a good length, too long, or too short?
Regardless of what you plan, they will be shorter than what you plan due to drop-outs. I think that the 3 month idea is a good starting point, but be sure you have the right challenges in the right order. I think that putting an extremely difficult challenge like the themed coaster or dark ride early is a mistake- it can intimidate newbies and scare them away from continuing or competing. Start out with something easier, like a themed store or a children's play area, that would not demand a huge amount of technological research, expertise and writing skill. Have some challenges that you are willing to discard built into the competition, and I have no problem with leaving a challenge in place even if you don't have enough competitors to really need it. That would be a good place to utilize the "redemption round"- I was both disappointed and grateful that I didn't have to do the motion simulator in TPA6.1. My idea was interesting, at least to me, but I have absolutely no idea how I would have made it work. It either would have made me think way outside the box and come up with something amazing, or I would have sunk like the wooden ships that the ironclads attacked and sunk- but it would have been a good mental exercise.
9. Except for the final round, challenges are typically one week in duration. In your opinion, is this satisfactory, not enough time, or too much time?
One week is fine in between challenges, but having two weeks to prepare them works great. Giving the competitors a week notice before posting the official challenge lets us finish up one proposal while our subconscious is working on the next one. The finale would need an extra week, I suppose, but really, if you do like this competition and list all the challenges in order the competitors will know what to start working on. You can post that week 4 will be a restaurant at the beginning, but you could wait for two weeks out before it is due and give the details required of the challenge.
I believe in TPA4 each judge was given several of the challenges to write the requirements for before the competition ever started, and we shared them with the other judges to be sure we all agreed with the requirements. I would have no problem with privately contacting each competitor at the beginning of the competition, sending them all the challenges and all the requirements, and let them know what is required as early as possible. It could save them time and provide for a more carefully crafted proposal.

Questions about Format:
10. The previous two Theme Park Apprentice competitions have used a cumulative park format, where every proposal is for a component of one single park. Earlier seasons have had each challenge set at a different park, typically a major park somewhere in the world. Which of these two formats would you prefer for the next competition?
no preference. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. I do know that I found it interesting how my ideas for Americana 1900 evolved as I worked with the park and its individual components. If I had to vote, I'd go with the one single park idea, but that makes IMHO for more random judging. Comparing apples to oranges, or as I described it in TPA6.1, comparing Silicon Valley to Colonial Williamsburg.
Questions about New Concepts:
11. This season was the first season to feature public voting by the judges and any tracking of cumulative scores. However, the cumulative scores were virtually meaningless. In future competitions, the cumulative scores will be normalized (each round will have the same number of points available) and given a purpose. One idea for the future is to grant immunity to the top competitor(s) in the cumulative standings. This would encourage competitors to win challenges instead of merely avoiding elimination and prevent a consistently good competitor from being eliminated for one off week. Are you in favor of or against this idea?
Interesting idea, one worth perhaps trying.

12. Another idea for cumulative scores is to eliminate based on a competitor's total score instead of their score in any one individual challenge. This elimination method would be used only with the cumulative park format, where proposals build on each other, and not with the independent challenge format. Are you in favor of or against this idea?
same as above

13. In order to encourage competitors to remain in the competition, the idea of a free pass has been suggested. This would allow a competitor to pass on one challenge and still remain in the game. The pass is intended to be used in the event that external factors make it difficult or impossible to submit a quality proposal, not to skip a challenge a competitor doesn't want to complete. Therefore, some form of penalty may be associated with the pass (such as a score of 0 for that round). Are you in favor of or against this idea?
Only if the same was offered to the judges. Once I was a judge and had a vacation in the middle of the competition. I read every proposal and sent in my vote, but did not write any critique that week and was raked over the coals for that. It would be difficult to enforce- how do you know that a competitor who had no idea what to design for a dark ride wouldn't suddenly have "Aunt Hazel" get hit by a train and "need the week off for the funeral"?
14. Due to the number of drops this competition typically has, in lieu of non-elimination rounds it has been suggested to hold redemption rounds allowing eliminated contestants to re-enter the game if openings appear. While the exact details have not been worked out, these rounds would most likely be held concurrently with the regular competition. The round would only be open to eliminated competitors, but competing in a redemption round would be optional. The winner of a redemption round would most likely re-enter one round after the drop occurs and would be given enough points to remain competitive in the standings. This opportunity would only be open to eliminated contestants, not those who chose to drop on their own, and in the event that a redeemed contestant was eliminated a second time they would most likely not be eligible for another redemption. Are you in favor of or against this idea?
I am absolutely in favor of redemption rounds, especially when there has been drop-outs for whatever reason. If the judges felt that a competitor was a good competitor and deserved a second chance, why not give them a chance to reenter. I had a disastrous round in Water Park Apprentice and just barely squeaked by elimination, and went on to winning it. I learned a lot by how bad my proposal was across the board and made sure I never did that again. The limits of who was eligible that you mentioned are reasonable.

15. Lastly, if you have any suggestions for modifications to this competition, please share them. All reasonable ideas will be considered, so don't be shy.
I think I've said enough. Thanks for the forum.

Edited: April 22, 2015, 4:19 PM

James, thank you for your input. I'll respond to a few of your comments in the same manner I did with Blake.

1. I completely agree that the judging in the final was unacceptable. More than anything else, this is why I plan to have a judging contract next season. All judges will be required to agree to the terms, and those who violate them face dismissal from their position and/or disqualification from future TPA judging opportunities. The competitors work extremely hard on proposals in this game...it isn't just an idea thrown together in an hour. Not giving feedback when that is what you signed up to do is disrespectful unless you have a legitimate reason for not doing so. Failure to post anything is just flat out irresponsible. I do not wish to discuss what happened toward the end of TPA 6.1 further, but if something like that does happen again those responsible will have consequences.

2. Future seasons will likely contain a mix of old challenges and new challenges. Twists may also be applied to old challenges to keep them interesting. It is hard to make challenges too restrictive with the cumulative park format, but I've got some ideas for original format competitions that will force competitors to think outside the box.

5/6/7. I would only be willing to do two competitions per year if there was enough interest and if they were significantly different. At the moment, I'm thinking about possibly doing a short summer competition (likely starting after 4th of July and ending by Labor Day) if there is enough interest, and then doing a full three month competition next off-season (probably from just after New Year's until Easter). The summer competition would likely be an original format competition and would be primarily to test any modifications before they are implemented in a full season.

8. I'm hoping to find a way to let the competition run its original length even if people drop, hence including one or more redemption rounds. What to use as the first challenges is always difficult...you want something that competitors will enjoy creating and that will give them an idea for what the game involves, yet you don't want something too complicated or too basic. Since rides are the core of any theme park, the first challenge should probably remain ride-based, though not necessarily an E-ticket. Extra challenges that can be deleted if necessary is a good idea.

9. I both like and don't like giving information early. On one hand, it gives plenty of time to prepare, but on the other hand it can cause a competitor to focus more on a later challenge and neglect the current one. My thinking is to post a challenge list with a short description (3-4 sentences) of what the challenge will be, but wait until it is the next challenge due before posting the official requirements. As for determining the requirements, if the other judges are agreeable I'd like to use Google docs for drafting so that everyone can edit the challenge and see each other's modifications easily.

10. The cumulative format is harder for the judges, but the original format is probably harder for competitors (especially if the challenges are restrictive). Like I said above, I'm thinking original format would be better for shorter competitions while cumulative will be better for longer ones, as you'd have more time to flesh out a full park concept.

13. Judges would be asked about conflicts prior to the start of the season and would be granted exceptions from critiques (and possibly voting if the circumstances warrant it) if necessary. If something came up, that would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Enforcement is always going to be difficult, but as there will be a penalty associated with skipping a round (just a lesser penalty than disqualification) and the power can only be used one time in the entire competition, I am hopeful that most competitors will not abuse the privilege.

14. Given the amount of positive support for redemption rounds, unless a lot of people refuse to compete with them they will be used in future competitions. The issue will be how to implement them, and this will likely be decided among the judges for next season.

Thanks again for your input. I hope you will be able to join the judging panel in the future, whether it be the next competition or one further down the road.

April 22, 2015, 4:44 PM

I really miss the "Renovation Rescue" rounds, take the old or something that no longer works, and make it new. Perhaps the redemption round could work in with that. Take one of your previous entries, and show us what you've learned.

April 22, 2015, 6:42 PM

This is an interesting idea. Could this be a week for "fired" competitors to earn their way back into the competition while those still in could have a by-week to work on future challenges? Example: three competitors have been eliminated but still want to compete. They are allowed to post their new, improved proposals and the judges decide who, how many, all or even none, to readmit to the competition. Those readmitted would have to show they are willing to work hard to get back in and this might give those still in the competition a "breather" and a chance to work on their future proposals.

The judges would have to decide if they are going to be required to just rework their old proposals or are they going to be given a totally new challenge, so that they are all on a level playing field.

Edited: April 22, 2015, 8:53 PM

Chad, that's a great idea and somewhat in line with what I was thinking in a cumulative competition. While nothing is currently set in stone my thoughts were that the redemption round(s) would be as follows:

1. In the original format, where every challenge is independent, the redemption round would be a unique challenge. My original thoughts were to make these throwback challenges, where a challenge from one of the earlier TPA competitions is used (but with a twist of some sort). The winner (or top x) would be readmitted to the competition.

2. In the cumulative format, eliminated competitors would redo the challenge they were eliminated on. They would be required to reuse a certain amount of elements, but pretty much anything else could be changed around. The judges would then decide where the new entry falls in comparison to the other entries in that round. Whoever can improve their ranking the most would be readmitted.

3. In the event that several spots are available, eliminated contestants would compete in the same challenge as those still in the game. Anyone who scores higher than the lowest current competitor gets back into the game.

As for placement in the competition, a good location for a pre-planned redemption round would be the first week of a two-week challenge. This would avoid overloading the judges and give current competitors a bit of a break. The redeemed competitors would then have the second week to get something together and remain in the game.

Also, for renovation rounds in general I agree that they are missed. I definitely plan to include one next time in some form.

April 28, 2015, 1:03 PM

So, I know it's a bit late to be giving feedback, but I think if we go based on the cumulative score, it is very possible that it will become impossible for someone who does not do well in the first round to win. Could James "Scott E." Have made it this far if his audition was held against him in every round? Just my input. Also, I would definitely be interested in two seasons per year, and honestly prefer the new format. The idea of a cumulative park appeals more to me than the old way.

April 28, 2015, 10:25 PM

DPCC, it's not too late to give feedback. I'll keep checking this thread every day or two up until it closes. As for the cumulative score, the way it was done this season would not work as the number of available points decreased as the competition went on. In order to make it work, the total number of points will be the same in each round with the difference between places increasing. For example, say a first place is worth ten points from a judge. If there are ten competitors, first place gets 10 points, second 9 points, etc. However, later in the game when only six competitors remain, first place would get 10 points, second 8.3 points, third 6.7 points, and so on. Using this method, James would have actually passed Blake in Challenge 4 and went on to have the highest cumulative total. Alternatively, instead of having judges rank competitors they could simply award each competitor a number of points.

The cumulative format will not go away, as I think it allows competitors more freedom to come up with unique ideas and can result in some great parks, but I think using it every time would be difficult (and, especially with two competitions per year, would get boring for repeat players). I'm leaning toward a short summer season with the original format followed by a full winter season with the cumulative format at the moment, but perhaps I'll let competitors vote next time on which format they'd rather play and then start alternating from there.

April 29, 2015, 3:58 PM

"Using this method, James would have actually passed Blake in Challenge 4 and went on to have the highest cumulative total." I vote for cumulative score with the new scoring system, absolutely, 100%, no doubt about it.....uh, sorry, I'm a little bit late for my medicine ;+) Actually, we are probably never going to find a voting or judging system that will make everybody happy, but it is getting closer. As far as the competition, both formats have their strengths and weaknesses- I've been in both and I think I judged both- and I really don't have an opinion. I do like the idea of a redemption round very much, as all of us can have a bad week and a nasty case of writer's block.

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