Look at me editing an old journal! This is for people who want to check out the OCT 101 Journal I wrote, but hate wrassling with Google Docs.
The Big-Ass League Post is here.
HERE WE GO.
"What is an OCT? An OCT, or 'original comic tournament'/'original character tournament' is a sort of contest in which an artist enters a character.
That character is paired off against another artist's character, and the artists have a set amount of time to draw a comic that fits the overall theme of the OCT.
At the end of the deadline, those comics are (usually) judged on their creativity, technical skill, storytelling, and entertainment.. Each artist is given constructive feedback that will help them improve, and the stronger of the two entries will move onto the next round.
OCTs were originally started on DeviantArt as a way to help up-and-coming comic artists stay sharp and improve themselves. Deadlines were purposefully made short in order to add to the challenge."
1) I find that giving a look at Mul's Journal, first and foremost, is a must.
And I don't mean just glance it over and go "Oh, of COURSE I'm doing all these things, my OCT is PERFECT."
No, I mean actually look at it, be brutally honest with yourself, and ask if you're doing this shit correctly.
I'll try not to say "don't" a lot, since that tends to make everything sound way too negative, but basically:
DO be organized. Keep in touch with all your judges, make sure communication is going on--if your judges' names are NOT "Tofubeast, balrogon, AndMaybeASoda, or Applewaffles " , you cannot expect everyone to be goddamn psychic and know what's going on with them. And to be honest, we're not that psychic either, we've just worked with each other for so damn long that we can pretty much predict what the hell we're going to do.
DO use everything at your disposal to stay connected with your team--MSN, Google Docs, DA Chat, AIM, e-mail, the phone, coconut wireless, whatever. There should be no excuse for communication breakdown unless someone has a serious accident or something.
DO know when to ask for help when you need it. If you're in over your head and you need advice, go out and get it. I suggest the guys at SDL , as there are a few people with lots of experience on that side. If you can't run an OCT anymore, make sure that you let your userbase know, and calmly find someone that you can trust to run it in your place. Don't be an asshole and dump it off on someone without warning in hopes that they can magically fix your problems for you.
DO make your OCT about your contestants, not about you. Get your fucking ego out of the way, get that bias out of the way, no one fucking cares about your "storyline" or your special NPCs or boss fights or what-fucking-ever. If you're doing this for pageviews+popularity, just go make this a roleplay group.
DO know what you're talking about. Organization is about 50% of doing OCTs--knowing your shit about art/comics/storytelling is the other 50%. Study up. Make sure that your crit isn't bullshit--you should be able to clearly say why one thing wins and the other doesn't. Be able to point out the pros and cons in both pieces, and make sure your crit isn't all negative or that it isn't all positive as well. One more thing--never, ever, EVER fucking sugarcoat your shit. There's going to be people who will cry and complain, of course, but that's just tough. You're not their mothers.
DO focus on the tournament at hand. I'm seeing a lot of tournies these days feel sorry for all those people who didn't make it/get in or whatever, and hold "spectator contests/spectator tournaments" on the side. DON'T FUCKING DO THAT. They are absolutely free to do any fanart they want for the tournament on the side, but once you divert attention away from the main contest at hand, you're losing focus all over the place and it becomes a god damn mess.
Which leads me to:
DO know when it's time to put your foot down. Don't EVER mistake having multiple incarnations of your tournament for "my OCT is super successful and I am an OCT pro! Yay!"
I've seen OCTs that have dragged on for months due to overextensions/adding wildcard competitors in every round/RP bullshit elements creeping in, and I've seen really terrible OCTs hold second/third/fourth incarnations of themselves just because they have huge fanbases.
Protip: it doesn't matter how many people kiss your ass or how many cameos/fanarts you get. Know when to cut it off and end it. If you run a second version of your tournament and nothing's been changed or improved organization/drama wise, your tournament still sucks.
I really don't want to name names, but the best example I've seen is one fan-character based OCT whose admin staff is infamous for claiming that their OCT is "the most successful" and "the best" simply because they have the most amount of competitors and spin-off tournaments--but they're all shoddily run and there's no improvement anywhere on any side. Lotta egos getting in the way there. The better run OCTs I've seen have had ONE incarnation. They didn't do a second or a third one, they ended it right at the first one and ended it solidly.
That isn't to say that multiple-incarnation tournaments all suck, but it's good to know when you're running something into the ground.
ALSO--THIS IS IMPORTANT--DO WORK OUT YOUR DEADLINES FOR EACH ROUND AND STICK TO THEM. DEADLINES SHOULD BE SHORTER RATHER THAN LONGER. The whole point of OCTs are to keep people on their toes and motivated by giving them a deadline. I hate having to say "back in my day", but back in my day, the most amount of time we'd give for deadlines was 2 weeks, tops. "But" I often hear, "2 weeks is way too short! I can't do my epic 38 page entry, have a job, and have a social life at the same time!" Well, this is why the people who often win OCTs learn to buckle the hell down and learn some time management and editing. It's called "a part of improvement and learning how to work at a more professional pace", and gee golly, I think that's what OCTs are supposed to be about, now that I scroll up and read what I've put before.
In my experience, round times should be 3 days at the least, 3 weeks at the most. That's it. Done.
You're totally free to toss out extensions if there's multiple requests/natural disaster/etc, but be reasonable. DO NOT give out an extension just because you want a favorite competitor to stay in the competition. Extensions should be three days at the least, a week at the most. Only give one. Like I said before, the whole point of OCTs is the challenge of working with a SHORT deadline to make a great comic that can hold its own against another. If you want to do a long epic story about your Original the Character, then do it on the side outside of the competition.
Competitors: LEARN TO EDIT AND LEARN TIME MANAGEMENT.
Admins: LEARN TO STOP CODDLING YOUR CONTESTANTS. YOU'RE TRYING TO HELP THEM IMPROVE.
2) What makes an OCT run smoothly? Besides the bits I've covered:
-Communicating with all admin/judge staff
-Making the FAQ and Rules absolutely clear for your contestants
-Being extremely fair and clear with your decisions
-Keeping calm when drama arises and dealing with it quickly in a professional manner
-Keeping in touch with your contestants. They're the ones participating in this tournament, after all. Lurk your chatrooms, update your journals.
-Having fun with the whole thing!
3) Adverting an OCT is something I'm still trying to figure out. In my case, I usually attempt to pimp the hell out of it by affiliating with big leagues that have a huge and motivated userbase (such as SDL or IPL ) or advertising it directly to said userbases (like in the case of Void, as they do not affiliate with other OCTs or Leagues. )
Affiliation is great because people will travel on over by clicking on your link/icon just to see why it's there. It also can attract the attention of people who are popular and active in such communities, who then might go and advert it on their accounts.
In the old days we used to advert using News Articles--I don't know how great that is now, but it can't hurt.
OCTFollowers adverts for your OCT as well--I don't know the guys over there that well, but docpye assures me that they are active and kicking.
Finally, there's self-advertisement. Advert it on your own journal, get your pals to advert it for you, bring it up whenever you can whenever someone types the words "Man I want to be in an OCT but I can't find anything".
Got drama due to people gettin' mad about crits/and/or round results? Sudden outbreak of a former contestant's fanbase rabidly attacking your results journals?
Before you panic and set everything to hidden, try posting this:
"In order to have no hard feelings or misunderstandings, the judging criteria will be posted here. When the final decisions for each rounds are posted, the judges will post a basic crit for each competitor. Those wanting more in-depth critique will get it via request by note.
There are many things that go into judging, all of which are concerned with how effective the entry was at achieving its general purpose of being a compelling, entertaining comic/animation. No one specific thing is weighted concretely above the rest; it's all a matter of how it comes together for the final product. In general, these are the key areas of consideration:
Quality/Technical Skill: Compared to the artist's other work, how refined is this entry? How much time did the artist put into this, and does it show? Is the entry clear and easily readable? Did the artist make the best of the mediums he/she used? Was the entry done to the best of the artist's ability? Did the artist portray their opponent's character accurately? Do lapses in quality detract from the entertainment?
Creativity/Storytelling: Did the artist find a fresh and compelling way to tell the story? Are the conflict and resolution strong? Does the entry hold up on its own, or does the reader have to study references and other entries to get what's going on? Does the story seem formulaic?
Entertainment: Overall, does the entry draw the reader in? Do we want to read it again, or read the next part?
If there is a serious dispute with the judging, the artist will be asked to take it up via notes with (OCT's name or head admin's name here). In all other cases, the judges' ruling is absolute.
If the artists participating want in-depth critique on their work, they will be asked to note (OCT's name or head admin's name here)."
This is 99% garans ballbarans* to help deal with any judging related drama. Of course, you've got to be certain that your entire judging team is unbiased and can clearly say why they chose one entry over another.
PS: If you happen to be a contestant that's "gettin' mad", double check to make sure that you're gettin' mad for a reason that's better than "I like my friends and me and we're awesome and we can't POSSIBLY lose to this asshole I hate." Them's the breaks.
Hope that covers everything.
*Garans Ballbarans: a Pidgin English phrase meaning "Won Hondred Per Cent Shure-ah, For Reals, No Lie, I Swear 'Em."