Theme Park Apprentice 7: Feedback Thread

September 20, 2015, 2:32 PM

Hello Everyone,

Another season of Theme Park Apprentice has now concluded. With 7 successful seasons (as well as a couple spin-offs), you may think that we've got it working perfectly, but that isn't quite true. There are always discoveries to be made along the way, and that is part of the reason why we like to solicit feedback at the end of each season. Input from participants is the best way to help this game continue to grow in the future, and it will also help with finding problems we may not have noticed.

If you participated in Theme Park Apprentice 7, even if only a small amount, I invite you to give us your thoughts on the competition and/or the game as a whole. You may respond to the questions in the list below or just write something on your own. We welcome all feedback, and while positive comments are nice to hear it is constructive criticism that provides the most help. The only thing I request that you do not post are uncivil comments meant solely to insult or provoke competitors and/or judges.

Feedback Questions

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. This season of Theme Park Apprentice used an experimental challenge format designed to make challenges more realistic. Did you like this format, or did you find it too difficult? While it is unlikely this format would be used for an entire season again, would you be interested in seeing it applied on a limited basis (perhaps one challenge per season)?

3. Do you feel that the judges were fair and honest during the competition? If not, please give specific examples of issues you observed.

4. Based on your experience this season, would you be interested in participating again in future seasons of Theme Park Apprentice? If not, is there a reason why?

5. The timing of the next season is currently TBD. Would you prefer the next competition to be held in winter 2016 (January start) or summer 2016 (June start)?

6. This season of Theme Park Apprentice used a shorter 2 month duration. Would you prefer this duration for next season, or would you like a full 3 month season?

7. For Theme Park Apprentice 7, an independent challenge format was used to differentiate it from the previous couple seasons. Would you be interested in seeing the cumulative park format return for the next competition, or would you prefer sticking with the independent challenge format?

8. The following are potential theme ideas for the next season, assuming a cumulative format is used (note: the final theme may also be something completely different). Please rank these options from favorite to least favorite. Also, feel free to include your own theme as well if there is something you would prefer (please include a 1-2 sentence description):

a. Independent Parks: Competitors are prohibited from developing a park tied to an existing theme park company and must instead create something unique. IP is allowed provided it is not currently in use by or owned by a major theme park chain.

b. Franchise Wars: Ignoring the real world restrictions on IP, competitors pick a set number of properties at the start and must develop a park using only those properties.

c. Blue Sky: No restrictions whatsoever, everybody is free to develop a park how they wish and using whatever themes they desire.

d. [Insert Park Chain Here]: Everyone develops a new park for the specified chain. All IP rules apply.

9. One of the new aspects tested this season was the Redemption Challenge. This challenge is intended to allow a competitor who was eliminated early a 2nd chance at the competition. While the exact format of the challenge will be modified, would you like to see this remain a part of the competition?

10. Another new aspect of the competition was the use of a cumulative scoreboard. While it ultimately ended up causing more problems than anything this season, there is consideration of attempting a cumulative elimination format in the future. Would you be interested in competing under this format?

11. The third major new aspect of this competition was the Real Life Pass. This pass was created to allow a competitor who was unable to complete a proposal due to real life issues the opportunity to continue in the competition. While the penalty was discovered to be excessive for this pass, it did succeed in minimizing the number of resignations during the competition. Whether you used this pass or not, would you like to see it maintained in future competitions?

12. Lastly, I have been approached with the idea of doing random one-off challenges throughout the year. These challenges would be hosted once every month (or every other month) and would be open to anyone. There would only be 2-3 judges who may rotate. If these challenges were done, it is very likely only one full competition would be run per year. Is this something you would be interested in, or would you prefer sticking to just the full competitions?

If you have any other questions or comments about this season or Theme Park Apprentice in general, please share those as well. Don’t be shy, we welcome all feedback as long as it is constructive.

Thank you for your feedback and your continued interest in Theme Park Apprentice.

Replies (14)

Edited: September 20, 2015, 2:59 PM

I wont answer all questions - partly because I'm a judge, and partly because i don't want to... but I'll answer some.

2. When it came to the coaster challenge, I was in two minds about the budget rules - and we did have a lot of discussion before how to finally word the rule. I think we hit the mark just about right, it gave players an overall impression of what we were looking for, but did allow those who wanted to go further and do something unexpected to do so, as long as they can justify it. The Sea World one I think we had a similar rule, but I don't think it worked quite as well.

7. I like a mix of both, but if we're going to do a Cumulative based series, then we have to ensure that the constestants can use the feedback judges give them. If feedback is that something isn't working - even if it is an entire land - then the challengers have to have the freedom to take action - Repair, Replace, Redact. Not every concept in the design phase is going to make the cut, and we shouldn't penalise if the challenger decides their total park is stronger without the "faulty" element. This to me also applies if the contestant no longer thinks an idea is working based on further developments they've done in the challenge.

9. Redemption challenge works for me.

10. As a judge, I didn't really understand how the scoreboard worked, and was rather suprised when we ended up in a situation where we were giving a false impression to a contestant that they were in the running, when in fact no matter how well they did, as soon as it was declared double elimination, they were already effectively. I say ditch it.

If it is going to be kept, then there needs to be a failsafe in there somewhere - if a competitor lags so far behind that even if they won every challenge to come they would be out, then they should be eliminated at that time.

11. Real life pass is essential. It took us from a lot of drops, to just one or two.

September 21, 2015, 1:52 PM

Hello! I’ve completed the feedback survey! I hope we can use this to make TPA even better and more exciting next season!

I’m not sure where exactly I fall here, since it is, in fact, my first time competing. I found this competition incredibly entertaining and challenging. It was more fun than I ever would have guessed!

2) I’d say that most of thime, I found this concept challenging and interesting. The main time I would disagree is the final round. The rigorous guidelines really suppressed my creativity. And, in reality, a lot of parks don’t fit the model. Epcot has too many or too few lands, depending on how you count it. Animal Kingdom doesn’t have enough rides. DHS and DCA barely have lands at all. My original idea for this park was more EPCOT style, with different pavilions for different themes in the brain, but with these guidelines it made it impossible for such a park to work. I think, however, that it could definitely work well for one or two challenges per season.

3) I do believe that the judges were fair and honest during this competition. However, I know at least one competitor definitely did not. Therefore, I propose in the next season we use a rubric. It would allow for less objective scoring. It could include categories such as Creativity, Adherence to Guidelines, Practicality, and Foreseen Popularity. The rubric could be adjusted for each round or designed such that it would fit every proposal.

4) Oh, Definitely

5) Well, being in school, Summer seasons definitely work better for me. It was almost impossible for me to juggle my final and the first few weeks of school, and I can’t imagine doing that for a whole season. If a winter season were to happen, I would likely be able to judge, but not compete.

6) I prefer this length for a competition. 3 months is simply too long.

7) I would definitely be interested in seeing the cumulative format again. I think it makes it interesting to watch as a park grows and develops from the original phase to its final proposal. Also, I think it is challenging to make all your rides work together in one cohesive theme.

8) A, D, C, B

9) The Redemption Challenge was definitely a fun and interesting addition. However, I felt that giving a certain number of points per round made it unfair. I understand that it was done out of fairness, but one of two things has to be done. EITHER this handicap should be revoked, or contestants who use the Real Life Pass should receive the same number of points. The fact that a redeemed competitor could come back with more points than some who had never gone out seems unfair and unreasonable to me.

10) Despite having created the cumulative scoreboard, I say it has to go. It has only created problems, and in both competitions where it has been used, it has made almost no difference. It’s extra work and really has no purpose. It set back the final, and at one point made it literally impossible for me to continue (excluding the special circumstances that ended up taking place).

11) Oh, yes. This definitely has to stay. As I said before, some tweaks should be made, but the idea is genius.

12) As the one who proposed this, I’m all for it. I think it would be interesting and help people learn about TPA during the offseason. It would help competitors improve without the need to commit to a long production. If you can only do one, that’s fine! The longer challenge times (2-3 weeks) mean more complex challenges could be produced and executed well. All the proposals would improve, and when the competition comes, the competitors would be even better. These, being stand alone, would be unrelated to each other, meaning the real season would very likely be cumulative

I hope this feedback helps, and we can make TPA better than ever!

September 21, 2015, 7:26 PM

1. If this was your first time playing Theme Park Apprentice, how did you enjoy the experience?
Yeah, it was my first time. Was it that obvious? (I enjoyed it immensely.)

2. Experimental challenge format. Did you like this format, or did you find it too difficult? Would you be interested in seeing it applied on a limited basis?
I enjoyed the format, which I think fits the way my odd mind works, though I’d be incredibly interested in trying something different as well. With all of AJ’s strange little rules, this season was like a series of sonatas. The cumulative parks are like symphonies. Both require creativity, but of a different nature. That said, I think it’d be goofy to have a one-off realistic challenge within an unrealistic season, especially if we’re doing a cumulative Blue Sky full of hover cars and floating emerald hotels.

3. Do you feel that the judges were fair and honest during the competition?
I feel they’re honest, decent, hard-working people. I mean, it’s all opinion, but your critiques justify your feelings. You guys are the Roger Eberts of the online message board theme park design competition universe.

4. Would you be interested in participating again in future seasons of Theme Park Apprentice?
Yes, yes I would. DisneySky gave me jetlag (dunno if I’ll get a bad attraction handed in or not), but eventually I’ll recover. I’m interested in trying the cumulative approach as a contestant, and then I’ll get tenured and settle into a luxurious retirement of judging other proposals.

5. Would you prefer the next competition to be held in winter 2016 (January start) or summer 2016 (June start)?
Overall, I think two competitions a year would be the best schedule, with January and June both being good. This one started a little late, given some people’s school schedules (I understand that’s because 6.1 was oddly timed too), so let’s see what the students think of this timing.

6. Would you prefer this 2 month duration for next season, or would you like a full 3 month season?
If we’re doing another “grab bag” season like this, 2 months is better. It’s probably better for cumulative too, though I’d think for those seasons, you could create the possibility to go longer, provided the interest is there.

7. Would you be interested in seeing the cumulative park format return for the next competition, or would you prefer sticking with the independent challenge format?
I haven’t done a cumulative park, and I’d like to. I think alternating between the two types is the best way to remain fresh, but done so it’s not always just cumulative/winter, independent/summer.

8. The following are potential theme ideas for the next season. Rank ‘em!
1. Blue Sky. While I would personally savor the limitations of other formats, I think total freedom brings in the widest variety of competitors. Besides, without it, we wouldn’t see Americana 1900 vs. Realms of Imagination, which was a matchup for the ages!
2. Independent Parks. This is what I’d do myself, probably. I especially like themes which don’t need unique IP to work, which saves us all a lot of lawyering!
3. Franchise Wars. Not sure I get this. Like, one guy gets Marvel, another LOTR, another Little Rascals, and then the battle commences? Or like if I wanted to do a sci-fi theme, and was allowed Star Wars and Star Trek at once? Could be interesting!
4. My Own Idea. All parks must be international, not in the U.S. Nothing off-planet, though. And if I build a park in China, I’m magically allowed all IPs!

9. Redemption Challenge. Would you like to see this remain a part of the competition?
Yes. I also liked the unofficial submission thread. Gives everyone more chances to write and get critiqued, which is an absolute good.

And I enjoyed submitting unofficially in the Redemption Challenge, without the sheer terror of elimination. Too bad it didn’t benefit me, beyond the experience, but that could be tweaked.

10. Cumulative scoreboard. Would you be interested in competing under this format?
Eh, it turned out to be kind of evil, didn’t it? Still, I liked tracking my own progress, and watching Keith sneak up on me. I think you could re-tweak this so it doesn’t affect eliminations, but has other consequences. Say, lowest guy going into a ride challenge has to also do an extra paragraph on the post-ride gift shop, and the highest guy is allowed one extra picture or something. Just a thought.

11. Real Life Pass. Would you like to see it maintained in future competitions?
Absolutely! We’d have to rethink its consequences, but a season with hardly any dropouts is undoubtedly worthy it.

12. Random one-off challenges throughout the year. Is this something you would be interested in, or would you prefer sticking to just the full competitions?
I prefer the full seasons. My first proposal was my wonkiest, and the critiques work best when you can learn from them.

Also, I think the winner should get a prize!

Okay, I’m kidding about that one (maybe), though maybe the winners could have like “Apprentice” tags under their usernames, like the “Writer” and “Insider” tags.

Also, as long as this doesn’t put off new competitors, I’d like to see a TPA All Stars, maybe a month-long Battle Royale in between normal seasons. I can tell James wants to compete directly against me! ;)

September 22, 2015, 9:58 PM

Sorry for the awkwardly worded/not very thorough responses. I wrote this pretty late at night and I wanted to finish this ASAP so that I could go to sleep.

1. It was pretty fun!
2. I liked the realism. It prohibited people from making over powered attractions.
3. The judges were all fair.
4. Yes. However, I would probably have to drop out eventually due to conflicts with school. If I had made it to the final round of TPA7, I would have only about 5 hours of free time a week to work on it.
5. Summer. As a student, I have a lot more free time to work on such a big project during the summer. If it was during the winter, I would probably be unable to compete due to lack of time.
6. 2 months was great. 3 months would be too long.
7. Because this was my first time playing, I haven't experienced a cumulative competition. But I agree with what Douglas said about switching it up.
8. C,A,B,D
9. I like it. It gives strong competitors a second chance.
10. No. It was kind of pointless in my opinion. I don't think it really added much to the competition.
11. YES. I agree with Douglas 100% on this one.
12. Yes this is good too. I am already looking forward to sharing more of my ideas!

September 22, 2015, 10:28 PM

1. Yes, this was my first time ever playing Theme Park Apprentice. Honestly, I was a bit intimidated at first, but after I got used to it and got some feedback, I found it very fun.

2. This format was okay. I learned a lot about theme parks all over the world, and I had the opportunity to try new things without a linking theme. I have to say though, strict budget constraints are severely limiting. My better proposals (i.e. the redemption round) was much better without this particular constriction. I don't think we should make a season a combination of the two formats; either choose one or the other and stick to it. It makes it much easier to follow and plan.

3. I think, for the most part, the judging was somewhat fair. However, I think there was some key issues. First, some competitors seemed to be penalized severely for small components of their proposals, while others who left out those details benefited. And of course, judging bias comes into question when one particular judge may be predominantly against a particular type of ride or attraction. I believe that the best way to fix these issues would be the implementation of a rubric (even if its components are somewhat general). That way, the judges can be less biased, and the competitors would know what they should include and the level of quality that is expected of them.

4. I'd gladly compete again and I'd like see how far I would get with the added experience. Time is the real issue, so refer to my answer below.

5. I would definitely ask for a June 2016 start. July was okay, but when the competition ran into August with school and work, I really didn't have enough time to complete quality proposals and artwork.

6. 2 months is definitely enough. I haven't followed a 3 month season, but it seems a bit stretched out.

7. The independent challenge format was good because it allowed me to try to make attractions for differently themed parks, but I would be curious to try the cumulative format (I already have an idea for such).


9. Since I directly benefited from the Redemption Challenge, I would have to say yes. My proposal writing definitely got better in preparation for it.

10. No, I don't think it really would have affected the outcome of the competition, although it created lots of confusion. Also, it's hard to keep up with cumulative when you've won the Redemption Challenge.

11. Yes, this was a great idea, but the penalty should be changed.

12. The full competitions are better, but maybe we could have two linked rounds during the winter if we decide to have the summer full season.

Thanks everyone!

Edited: September 24, 2015, 7:49 AM

I need to preface this by saying that I will compete/judge/administer this in the future and still consider myself as part of the TPA board of directors.

My problems orbited around rules. While I like quite a few of the challenges, the overwhelming amount of rules made it hard to compete and hard to judge. The first couple of rounds enforced the rules to the letter, and then got more and more lax as the judges lost interest in enforcing the rules. The troubles with rules is that if all of the judges don't enforce the rules, then those of us that purposefully ignored the rules scored higher when we should have been penalized and scored lower. If we are going to treat the challenges like real world scenarios, then we have to take into consideration that current hot IP executed poorly are going to present better than really old properties done extremely well. That is just a fact of life. While usually rules give boundaries, I felt the entire time that the huge amount of rules choked off the creativity, particularly after enforcement waned, since then I was forced to decide if I followed the rules and did something not as good or breaking the rules to do something awesome.

The fact that the judges were nearly required to give suggestions and tips while fielding a ton of questions about the challenges I think should have been the indicator that we had gone too far with rules.

It's almost as if you needed a fourth judge that did nothing but rule enforcement that would then send an email around to the other judges saying that a violation was done, thus applying the penalty evenly across all of the judges. When the challenge specifically calls out a tracked ride and someone does a Ferris wheel, there is no reason why they should have tied for first place, no matter how well it was done.

That being said, I think there should be challenges that force the competitors to think completely outside of the box. Maybe a challenge that has the competitors use a standard piece of hardware, but in a unique and original way.

We need to be very careful about this becoming a writing or presentation challenge. I got the feeling at certain points that the person with the best written proposal beat out the proposal with the best ideas. The judges need to look past the writing and look more solidly at the ideas being presented.

And, yes, I broke the rules again by not conforming to the numbered responses... sure to lower the grade on my feedback because I broke the rules...

September 24, 2015, 1:55 PM

Jeff, you didn't break the rules. You wrote something on your own. You wrote constructive criticism and your comments were civil. I'll write more when I have time- there is one thing that I do disagree with you on, but thank you for reappearing, writing constructively and showing your dedication to TPA and what is best for it for the future. Glad to hear that you are still in the family!

September 24, 2015, 5:59 PM

OK, now I have time to respond to what Jeff wrote. Jeff, you expressed the concern that "We need to be very careful about this becoming a writing or presentation challenge." It always has been a presentation challenge, or at least had a major writing and presentation component. Often it seems to be forgotten that the original idea was that challengers are presenting a formal proposal to someone, originally Tim W. and the voters, for a new attraction at XYZ Park. It was supposed to be a "profession proposal" or at least as good as the challenger could create. It allowed talented, experienced "armchair Imagineers" to create the next great theme park ride, and also allowed less experienced but promising competitors a chance to learn by doing, try out their talents and grow as writers and dreamers. Yes, it is about great ideas, but it is also about how the competitor presents those ideas. Part of the presentation is using good, quality writing techniques, including spelling, grammar and careful descriptions to convince the voters, be it a site vote or the judges, that their proposal is the best one to satisfy the requirements of the challenge. It forces the competitors to write well, write carefully and write descriptively. Yes, a good idea is vital, but the writing and presentation is just as vital, at least in my opinion. Without a strong idea, the best presentation will have nothing to write about, and a weak presentation can sink the best idea by hiding it in a mess of misspellings, bad grammar and incoherent thoughts.

Your comments about the rules being too complex and too restrictive are spot on, and that is something that I have already strongly told the other judges. In a competition like this I feel it is vital that any rules be there for a reason, but must be limited enough so that they do not stifle the very creativity that Theme Park Apprentice should be fostering. As a judge, I failed to express my early reservations about them, and I also failed to enforce them, right or wrong. I think I was longing for the "good old days" when Theme Park Apprentice was much less regulated and much more free-wheeling. It had its problems, of course, but many of the proposals that came out of it were amazing. We had our problems also, and more than one proposal of mine was less amazing and more WTF?, but it was fun. That is what this competition needs to be- fun. Challenging? Yes. Hard work? Definitely. But if it is not fun, we as the inheritors of TPA from Tim W. have not done our job. Still, we can't divorce ourselves from the part of the competition that can help competitors learn and grow as writers, dreamers and potential Imagineers. Great ideas, presented in a well-written, professional proposal is what every competitor should strive for, and what judges should reward.

Edited: September 25, 2015, 7:55 AM

Oh and another idea that I had that should probably be mentioned here is the idea of using a proxy - that way there is no prejudice against a competitor, it is mere the proposal against other proposals. As an example, several times, particularly in the early rounds the comment was made that the judges expected more out of certain competitors. Such a thing immediately biases the results. Having the judges chatting offline to the competitors also biases the results even if we claim that it will not. The best thing to do in this type of situation is to designate a person as the proxy, and all of the competitors send their proposals to the proxy person who then gives it the final post, thus stripping the names out of the proposals until the results are posted. I know it is an extra step, but it manages to remove most of the bias even if it is just a perceived one.

Edited: September 25, 2015, 4:55 PM

Thanks to everyone that has provided feedback so far. I will continue to monitor this thread until it closes, so feel free to give your thoughts if you haven't already. I'd just like to share my thoughts and respond to a few things.

Challenges: I originally designed the challenges this competition to try something different and to distance this season as much from TPA 6.1 as possible. After seeing the idea in practice, I think it worked pretty well. However, the first version is rarely the best and I've identified several things that would need to be tweaked before these types of challenges were used again. Among the most important would be to better define the exact constraints of the challenge and reduce the number of constraints. There would also need to be a defined penalty system in place to deal with proposals that stray from the guidelines. Ideally, I would like to see some variation of this format utilized in any future independent challenge competitions, but with modifications to make it more user-friendly. For the cumulative challenge competitions, leaving off these constraints and using more open-ended challenges makes a lot more sense.

Judging: As a judge, I tried my best to be fair and avoid bias during the competition. I strongly feel that the other judges did the same. When I wrote critiques, I gave my honest evaluation of every submission. While I may not have always made a note of everything I liked, I made sure to point out everything that I didn't think quite worked.

When judging, everyone submits their critiques and rankings independently of the other judges. They are free to use whatever methods they feel are most reasonable in order to come up with these rankings. One thing that was discovered fairly quickly in this competition is that while everyone tried to get as close to the constraints as possible, it wasn't uncommon for some rule bending to occur. This made it very difficult to judge proposals as we did not really have an established system to deal with this. Instead of issuing penalties, I chose to follow this method for my personal rankings: split the entries into three tiers, then rank them within each tier based on quality. Tier 1: High quality proposals that followed the constraints of the challenge fairly closely. Tier 2: Proposals that were outstanding entries but required minor to moderate rule bending. Tier 3: Proposals that either needed improvement or that majorly bent the rules. Should a weak proposal that meets all the challenge constraints score higher than one that bends the rules a little but is otherwise outstanding? That is a very difficult question without a true correct answer. In some cases, perhaps, but in others it would make little sense (particularly if the rule-following attraction would be an almost-guaranteed failure). Also, with regards to IP, I may be wrong, but I feel that an underwhelming attraction with current IP may have more immediate success but less long-term appeal than something that is an outstanding attraction based on outdated IP, so I would personally consider the latter a better fit.

Lastly, there are a couple people suggesting using a judging rubric. While a checklist may be good to ensure all the challenge requirements are met, I'm not a fan of using a full rubric. Ultimately, judging is somewhat subjective and each judge may feel very differently about the same proposal. Sometimes, we were nearly unanimous in our opinions, and other times one judge could be the polar opposite of the other two. While a rubric may improve unanimity, I think it would also increase the number of ties and decrease the quality of feedback.

Timing and Duration: This season started late due to the delays with finishing TPA 6.1. In the future, I would like to start all summer seasons in early June (with sign-ups potentially beginning in late May) and have everything done by late August. Running the competition into September is bad for students and should be avoided. For a winter season, starting sign-ups the first week of January would probably work well. If there is enough interest, I would like to hold two competitions per year as both timeframes have their benefits, but if there is only one I'd rather do summer than winter. As for duration, I think this will largely be dependent on the number of competitors. If we have 10 or less, I think two months is good. However, if we had more competitors sign up I would rather have a longer competition than do double elimination each round.

Format and Theme: Having participated in both formats, I think it is best to keep both alive. If there is only one competition per year, alternating is probably the best way to go. With 2 competitions, I think a 2/1/1/2 switch-off may work better to keep from locking a format into a timeslot (of course, this assumes the competition would continue for several more years).

As for the themes, I listed them in my personal order of preference. Independent Parks would be nice because while I do like seeing Disney's (insert name here), it does get old when a lot of competitors do this. Franchise Wars is basically the following: Each competitor drafts 4-5 franchises of their choice (we'd probably need people to be really active for a week in order to pull this off), then each franchise becomes a land in your park and you have to fit them together into an overall theme (you design the entrance area and components of each land). I could see this being really interesting, but at the same time it could end up being a flop. It would be a fun experiment, however. Blue Sky is pretty similar to the past cumulative competitions...we know it works, but it has been done before. Lastly, the park chain theme could be difficult unless Disney or Universal is selected, and again if we've got a dozen Disney parks judging could be more tedious than anything (especially when similar attractions appear at multiple locations). International parks has been done as a theme for a independent challenge competition before and may be used again for that purpose, though probably wouldn't be used in a cumulative competition. However, the idea of having everyone do a Chinese knock-off park could be a lot of fun.

Redemption Challenge: I think this is a good concept and should be kept with some modifications. Next time, it is more likely that the regular competitors will get a week off so that the redeemed competitor doesn't have a handicap in the following challenge. There needs to be some consequence to make the original elimination valid, however (perhaps reducing their picture allowance and banning a video for them).

Cumulative Scoreboard: I didn't get the point of this in TPA 6.1, but since it was there I wanted to use it again and give it purpose for TPA 7. Unfortunately, my idea of how it would work was very different from how it ended up working. It didn't improve the game at all and actually ended up being the root cause of this season's biggest problem. If we decide to do a cumulative elimination competition in the future, we will find a way to make this work (as it would be necessary then), but otherwise it will likely be omitted from future competition.

Real Life Pass: Up until the final round (where both drops were understandable), we had zero competitors withdraw this season. I am betting we would not be able to do the same without this pass. We need to adjust the penalty (again, a picture/video limit could be used here), but I don't really want to do another competition without this.

Stand-Alone Challenges: If I'm not mistaken, this has been attempted on a limited basis before and didn't receive a very good response. I would probably rather try for two seasons per year, but if there isn't enough interest it might be worth looking into this. We would probably need to have it be a collaborative effort rather than let one individual take it on, but the idea has merit. Short version: Let's see if a winter TPA has enough interest, and if not we can revive this idea at that time.

A couple other suggestions raised...

Prizes: From the start, the prize has always been the title and bragging rights. However, since there was a material prize last season perhaps we need to step it up. Apprentice tags aren't a bad idea, but we'd have to see what Robert Niles thinks of that idea. For a material prize, we'd have to charge an entry fee if anything noteworthy was offered and I don't think anyone wants to do that. I could send out a few theme park maps since I've got a bit of a collection, but not everyone is going to care about those. Guided tours of a judge's home park if you happen to visit? Could be possible, but I'd do that for anyone (schedule permitting) so it wouldn't be that much of a prize.

TPA All-Stars: This was done once before as the Tournament of Champions. There has been a little talk about doing a TOC 2, but it would be heavily dependent on how many past champions would want to compete. It probably won't happen in 2016, but it may happen at some point. This would probably be a substitute for a normal season.

Proxy: While the idea has merit, one of the things this season has shown is to keep it simple. For the most part, this seems like an extra step that at the moment is a bit unnecessary. If evidence of significant bias arose, this would be a very, very good idea to implement. I'm not saying we couldn't or won't do it, but I'd prefer not to do this unless there is a real need to do so.

September 26, 2015, 2:46 PM

Here is another idea for a season IP draft.....All of the competitors are in a random drawing to see the order of the draft and then the first person grabs an IP that is not in use by any other theme park (like Hunger Game, Percy Jackson, LoTR, Inception, Monty Python.....or whatever....) Those vastly different IP's would then all go into a cumulative theme park.

September 26, 2015, 11:41 PM

Jeff, that sounds somewhat similar to the franchise wars concept (though my concept didn't have an IP restriction). I think this type of thing could be really interesting if pulled off properly, but there is definitely a lot that could go wrong. I'm thinking perhaps for the next competition, those who sign up could vote between two (or possibly three) potential themes and the most popular would be used. The loser(s) would be kept for future competitions.

September 27, 2015, 3:18 PM

A random thought occurs: Since Andy had to drop out of the finals because of school scheduling and such, is there a way we could make that up to him in the next competition he is a part of? I don't know if we could guarantee him a spot in the latter half of a season or something (he could still partake in the first half, but without any threat of elimination), or if this is even a fair proposal. I just feel badly that he didn't get to finish his impressive run, through no fault of his own.

September 27, 2015, 5:11 PM

Douglas, I think that would be up to the competitors and judges of the next season to decide. I don't know about a guarantee of making it to the second half, but perhaps a get out of elimination free card that could be used up until a certain point (probably any pre-redemption challenge) would be worth considering. However, each competition is independent of the others and while what happened to Andy this season is unfortunate, in fairness to everyone else doing anything like this wouldn't be a good idea unless there was 100% agreement among participants.

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