Repeating what we did last time for Composition Challenge #5. You can re-read through that post for a refresher on how the judging/ruling will work. I’ll take donations again in an attempt to cover the now $200, split two ways between my winner and the community winner.

Composition Challenge #6

Description

(There’s a little bit of clipping but my piano playing is bad enough and I didn’t want to do a second take.)

Primary key is d minor this time. First section is d, a, BbM7, a, and the second section is g, DM7, EbM7, Bb. The ending chord is just a DbM7(add 9) for no real reason other than I had no idea how else to end it.

Deadline

All submissions must be submitted no later than midnight, EST, on May 30th, 2015.

Submissions should be posted to the reddit thread linked above where it says “Discuss this on reddit” in the following format:

Name submitter wishes to go by: [name]

Name of and link to piece: [name of piece, with link]

The name doesn’t necessarily have to be the same one you use on reddit/soundcloud, though using a consistent name helps for branding. The piece should be downloadable to the public.

Judging

Judging will take place at 1500, EST, on May 31st June 7th, 2015.

As a reminder, you grant me a non-exclusive license to use any music submitted to this challenge for my Twitch, Youtube and future tournament series. I will not and cannot DMCA any piece of music you ever submit to this contest, whether you or another person posts or uses it. You still retain 100% of the original rights to the songs and you can revoke my permission to use your submissions at any time with no notice.

Good luck!

Since I live-streamed the voting and choosing of these winners, I never actually made a post about it, which was my mistake. Just to clarify, there were indeed two chosen winners, as I said there would be before. A community voted on winner and then a winner that I would choose, personally.

Community Vote Winner – JayTea – Only Dreams Now

JayTea on point with his orchestral/rock arrangements. The biggest problem I find in this piece is the compression of the dynamic contrast, which I’m not entirely sure of the reasoning for, but otherwise it’s a solid arrangement. The ending guitar section brings things to a nice, epic close as well.

Destiny’s Top Pick – Osvelit – Comp Challenge 5

I really liked Osvelit’s take on this piece. I wish this piece were longer in the middle sections, specifically the section starting at 1:48!

There were a lot of other high quality submissions to this composition challenge as well, all of which can be found in the reddit submission thread.

I highly recommend checking out UKDaza’s take on it, as well as cparson’s jazzy arrangement!

Legacy of the Void will be the last expansion released of the 3-part StarCraft 2 trilogy. For those who are interested in the campaign, it looks like we’re finally going to see the conclusion of the StarCraft story. For those who are interested in the professional scene, it looks like we are going to see the conclusion of StarCraft 2 as a main-stream competitive game.

I sincerely believe that Legacy of the Void is capable of bringing not only a resurgence to the StarCraft 2 scene, but also long-lasting interest in the game. This will only be true if Blizzard takes the correct steps. Blizzard is fully capable of dedicating the resources necessary to ensure StarCraft 2’s success, and they can do it while turning a profit. I don’t think they’ve shown that they’re willing to do it yet, but I hope they change their mind with the coming of their final expansion to the StarCraft 2 universe.

Firstly, I want to establish something that some people seem to disagree with, or at least did back in 2011: the more people you have playing a game, the more people you have watching a game as an e-sport.

Let’s take a look at four of the leading e-sports titles right now: League of Legends, Defense of the Ancients 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and StarCraft 2.

Number of players/accounts for each game –

LoL – 7,500,000 concurrent players, 27,000,000 daily players, 67,000,000 monthly players in January of 2014 [source]

DotA 2 – 960,000 peak concurrent players over the last 30 days, 9,800,000 monthly unique players [source, source]

CS:GO – 348,000 peak concurrent players over the last 30 days, 3,900,000 monthly unique players [source, source]

SC2 – 180,801 or 242,627 total active accounts [source] [source]

Peak concurrent viewers for the “most important” finals –

LoL, LCS Season 4 World Championship – 11,200,000 viewers concurrent [source]

DotA 2, The International 4 – “well over 2,000,000 peak concurrent viewers” [source]

CS:GO, Dreamhack Winter 2014 – 409,368 viewers [source]

SC2, WCS Grand Finals of Blizzcon – 155,435 [source]

Can we put this whole “SC2 is a specator e-sport!” thing to rest, please? Far too often people try to shut down discussion of making SC2 a more accessible game with the argument that there are these multitudes of people who watch StarCraft 2 but don’t play it, but the correlations between number of players vs number of tournament viewers is simply too strong to deny. While the ratio of players-to-viewers is indeed high for Starcraft 2, it is undeniable that the more popular your game is and the more people you have playing it, the greater your viewership will be for your tournaments. This establishes a very important, often-ignored link between the professional and casual gaming scene: more casual gamers means a healthier professional scene.

What does this mean for us StarCraft 2 fans now, in 2014? It means we want to have as many people playing StarCraft 2 a possible.

The most important factor in a games popularity is the developer. I’m going to put forth the exact same argument I put forth two years ago: Blizzard absolutely MUST change their approach to Legacy of the Void if we’re going to draw in a steady supply of new players and keep them playing the game. The idea that “we can fix this ourselves!” is absolutely not true. All of the popular figures that claimed that have, for the most part, evacuated the scene. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not accusing anyone of doing anything malicious. I myself almost left the SC2 scene back in 2012 for League of Legends. But it’s important to see that developer support for a game is crucial and that most people have come to understand that now.

Idra no longer plays StarCraft 2 anymore and, ironically enough, moved onto a game that Blizzard is supporting more than ever, Heroes of the Storm. Artosis, who, in response to “some of the negativity going around“, claimed that “StarCraft 2 is in an amazing spot right now” and that ” SC2 is the best damn game in the world. Its more beautiful and complex than anything else being played at the moment.” now plays Hearthstone. DJWheat hasn’t had anything to do with StarCraft 2 for a while, and other figures that were popular have taken a large step back from the scene, such as Grubby, Day9, and Husky. Again, I’m not trying to incite hatred against anyone or to say that these are bad people, I just want people to stop derailing the conversation of fostering a larger playerbase by claiming that StarCraft 2 doesn’t need a healthy, casual fanbase that only Blizzard can attract. To say anything else is ignorant.

Can StarCraft 2 actually grow in a successful way that will propel us into a healthy 2015/2016 and beyond? If Blizzard takes the right steps, I believe so. But how? What can Blizzard do to change the course that SC2 is currently on?

Let’s take a look at CS:GO.

First, read this article. Read all of it.

You skipped the article to read more of what I’m going to say. Don’t. Seriously, here’s the link again. Go back and read that article. It’s fucking important. It’s so absolutely and critically important that you read this article for some context.

So what happened? CS:GO was absolutely dead in the water from its release, August 2012, until the end of 2013. This graph from the last article illustrates how dead CS:GO’s growth was once it was released. This is completely anecdotal, but I remember everyone laughing at CS:GO, talking about how much of a joke the game was and how it would never, ever be in the spotlight in the same way 1.6 was. Hell, people were even praising Source compared to the atrocity that was GO.

So what happened? What gave CS:GO the “push” it needed to see the explosive growth it’s had over the past few years? It wasn’t community support, it wasn’t large community members, it wasn’t a vibrant tournament scene and it wasn’t positive posts on a subreddit.

Valve supported their game. Valve’s released 45 patches in 2014 alone! They’re constantly working with players to keep the game fresh via new maps and balance tweaking. The Steam market place and skinning system make the game feel alive and fresh. They added a new queuing system that allowed people to find matches easier (ever hear complaints about SC2 matchmaking/MMR decay..?). They reworked their ranking system. They reworked a TON of weapon balance in early 2013 based on player feedback (ever hear people calling for a redesign of Protoss..?, or SC2 movement/”grouping” mechanics?). And on top of all of this, they found a way to finance their development teams – by using the Steam market to sell skins and keys.

No one knew 4 years ago what the e-sports landscape would look like today. A large number of people and organizations dumped money into the StarCraft 2 bubble that we saw burst in late 2012/early 2013 (remember NASL, IPL, MLG, Ministry of Win, Slayers, GameOn.org, etc…etc…?) with no idea of what the future would bring. Looking at things now, though, it’s very clear to see what will work and what won’t work. Blizzard doesn’t have to “guess” at which monetization scheme for LotV would be effective, there are plenty of successful examples that have had time to grow on the market already. At this point, Blizzard could simply copy another monetization model from another successful title. There’s no point in trying to reinvent the wheel here.

To further this point, look at another thing all of these games have in common – their developers are able to monetize content past the initial sale of the game. In DotA 2/LoL’s case, they don’t even require an initial sale to generate revenue. Skins, hats, and new characters all generate revenue for these companies which allows them to justify the development time they put into the game. And all of these monetization schemes bring greater content to the players. Players are motivated to play more in a way that generates more revenue for the developer. This relationship is so important to the success of these other leading titles.

One of the most frustrating things about my encounter with Blizzard after I’d made my initial post about SC2’s shortcomings was that every single suggestion I’d made about increasing the appeal of the game to a casual fanbase was met with similar responses. “Oh, we don’t have enough developers to work on that” or” ah, well all of our engineers are currently working on other projects.” This is why monetization schemes are so absolutely crucial for StarCraft 2, and it is beyond frustrating that Blizzard refuses to implement any of these into the game. There are so many people who want to spend more money on StarCraft 2 but simply can’t because there’s nothing to buy.

StarCraft 2 could easily rip the skin system off of CS:GO COMPLETELY and enjoy some resurgence. If you had the chance to get a new skin for a unit after x number of ladder games, imagine how many more people would play now that they actually have something to build towards? The prospect of “skinning out” an entire SC2 army is so insanely exciting, even my inner fanboy quivers with desire. You could release skins that only drop after playing team games, or FFA’s, and it would also bolster popularity for those match-ups as well. You could require players to purchase a “Blizzard Key” to open said crates and generate money that way. You could out-source your designing of skins to individuals or teams who might get a small % of the money. There are so many different ways Blizzard could be collecting revenue from players that it absolutely kills me to see them neglect these things.

Voice packs are another exciting prospect. How many people would love a Day 9 voice pack? I guarantee he’d be willing to do one for way less than what you’d have to pay a professional voice actor for, say, an Abathur voice pack. I know I’d do one, probably at no cost (as long as my flight to the recording studio was paid for) because the idea of being involved in the game would be so exciting. Even Call of Duty got a Snoop Dogg voice pack. DotA 2 has similar announcer packs available as well.

All of the new changes announced for LotV are awesome, no doubt, but they’re only awesome for people who already play the game. There are no new players who are going to be drawn to the game to play Archon mode, and there are no new players who are going to come and play the game again because of a change to the number of minerals in a patch. Blizzard absolutely needs to do something to matchmaking that makes it a worthwhile experience for someone who’s not trying to climb to Grandmaster’s. Right now there is virtually no reason to play the ladder unless you’re trying to rank up to GM. You get a pointless portrait that you see for all of 1/1000th of the time you’re actually interacting with an opponent (at the loading screen) and the “leagues” don’t really feel rewarding except to a small handful of people.

Please, Blizzard, please let us get something in exchange for playing ladder games that make it feel like there’s a purpose to playing. The level system isn’t enough. The portraits feel empty and hollow. Let us get skins for our armies or voice packs for our games! We WANT to give you money! We want YOU to make enough money to justify spending more time developing the game!

I’m making quite a few adjustments to the way things have been done in the past!

This composition challenge will consist of a prize pool of $150, split $75 between two people.

There will be a “judgement day” on stream where I will select all of the high-quality submissions and have the entire stream listen to them. At the end of this, the stream will vote on which mix they think is their favorite. This will be winner number 1.

The second winner will be chosen by me, based on what I deem to be “the best” mix.

I’m divvying it up this way so that I can still have the submissions be as “free form” as possible without any kind of restrictions on them, but to make it so that the winners every month aren’t just submitting mixes that I’m bias towards.

Also, during the judging process, 90% of all donations/subscriptions will go towards future prize pools for the next competition challenge. This gives me a way to continue funding them without losing money and it allows me to scrape 10% of the shekels off the top (and cover paypal fees etc).

With no further ado, I present to you,

Composition Challenge #5

Description

The primary key is c minor. The first section is just a repetition of a very basic i-iv-vii°-i progression with a quasi-ostinato pattern for the melody. Keeping the same ostinato melody, it then transitions over the relative major of Ab, bouncing between A♭M7 and E♭M7 (if you haven’t noticed from previous challenges, I really really really like this pattern). There’s then a descending string of four chords, A♭M7, gm7, F♯M7, fm7. This composition ends on a D♭ chord simply because I had no other ideas at the time.

Deadline

All submissions must be submitted no later than midnight, EST, on December 19th, 2014.

Submissions should be posted to the reddit thread linked above where it says “Discuss this on reddit”.

Judging

Judging will take place at 1500, EST, on December 21st, 2014.

As a reminder, you grant me a non-exclusive license to use any music submitted to this challenge for my Twitch, Youtube and future tournament series. You still retain 100% of the original rights to the songs and you can revoke this permission at any time.

Good luck!

NOTE: NZXT offered me a partnership and I was able to choose some products to demo. If the products were shit, I would be the first to say it, but I wanted to include this tidbit here in the interest of full disclosure.

Part list/rationale

All parts listed below use my referral link. It may be possible to find the parts at a better price if you look elsewhere. Ordering via my referral link helps me continue to do what I do and is appreciated.

CPU: Intel i7-5960X

I need a really beefy processor so that I can handle streaming at a high quality (1080p@48fps) while being able to play without suffering a major loss in performance. I’m so excited that Intel finally released an enthusiast processor with 8 cores instead of 6! I’m able to stream now with a much less significant impact on my gameplay, even Starcraft doesn’t feel sluggish now when I’m playing and streaming at a high quality. I’m really, really happy with this processor.

Cooler: Kraken X61

I wanted to get something beefier this time than a Thermaltake 3.0 Extreme or an h100i. The Kraken X61 has always gotten great reviews on performance, but people have said it’s rather bulky. I have a case, however, that allows me to fit the radiator with relative ease so I can take advantage of the cooling it has to offer. I’ve been running this build for about a month and there have been no cooling issues yet, and the cooler looks really nice as well.

Motherboard – ASUS X99-DELUXE

I love ASUS boards and this board is decked out with features for overclocking support and potential SLI stuff down the line, as well as a ton of SATA ports for all of my HDDs.

Memory – G.Skill Ripjaws 4 series 16GB 2400

Just 16 GB of DDR4 RAM. Nothing special here.

SSD – Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB

Amazing SSD with an amazing controller using amazing NAND.

GPU – MSI GeForce GTX 780

This 780 is still getting the job done for me. I’m really tempted to bump this up to a 980…maybe in the future…

Case – NZXT H440

I’m really happy with how this case turned out. Getting some of the cords into the power supply was a little annoying, as it’s tucked underneath the case where it’s out of sight. It was a little difficult getting the radiator in as well, though I was eventually able to finagle it into the case. All in all, though, I think the case looks nice, I like that the PSU is hidden as it gives a much cleaner look to the bottom of the case.

PSU – SeaSonic 850W

What can I say? SeaSonic makes excellent power supplies and 850 watts is more than enough power for my system. It also gives me the option to SLI 780’s down the line, should I chose to do so.

Microphone – Blue Yeti

An amazing sounding microphone for a great price.

Headphones – Sennheiser HD598’s

I still have these same headphones. I think I’ve had these for over 4 years, they’re an amazing set of cans. The sound quality is great and they’re still amazingly comfortable. These are the only headphones I can wear for 14+ hours without them bothering me.

Headphone Amplifier – Fiio E10

Cheap, great quality. I don’t necessarily recommend everyone get an external DAC, but my previous motherboard didn’t have sound and I carried this over.

So I’ve run into an issue that I’ll expound on a bit here in regards to judging these composition challenges.

Since I’m not putting any strict criteria up and I’m letting people be relatively free form in how they approach these compositions, they’ve become impossible to judge. I have no merit that I can judge on, to objectively say “x composition is better than y composition”. How on earth could I compare a jazzy arrangement of a song against something that’s using samples to create a more electronic mix?

That being said, in my future challenges I’m going to be laying down some more strict criteria based on how I’ll judge things. I’ll still let people use whatever instrumentation and whatever genre they want, but I’ll put in a few guidelines for things that I’ll look for, to make things seem more like a composition challenge instead of just people arranging things in whatever manner. Judging compositions as they come in from such a huge variety of styles that are all done so well is absolutely impossible.

That means we have a 4-way tie for first place! Listed in no particular order, we have…

Tied for 1st place – cparsons – https://soundcloud.com/cparsons/july-composition-challenge-4

This is literally a professional-tier jazz arrangement for a combo group. The guitar playing is so insanely tasteful and appropriate for this, and the arrangement sounds sick, every piece of the combo is playing perfectly with one another. This wouldn’t be out of place in any kind of club or any place that plays music like this, it’s just perfect.

Tied for 1st place – JayTea O_o – https://soundcloud.com/jaytea-o-o/jaytea-the-last-of-its-kind-01

This piece was so ambitious for a submission. This is easily one of the most encompassing pieces I’ve had submitted yet. The instrumentation was handled well, despite there being so many (even if the violin sample sounded meh), the transition from segment to segment was perfect, everything flowed well into one another, and the variations between the sections was really well done, too. This track could easily show up on any indie game RPG and people would be delighted to hear it.

Tied for 1st place –  Osvelit – https://soundcloud.com/osvelit/destiny-comp-challenge-4-osvelit-ricercar-v2

This electronic submission was built almost entirely from samples, save for the saxophone playing that Osvelit himself did in this. The breakdown was sick, the difference between the 1st/2nd sections were cool, and the overall arrangement meshed really well as a cohesive piece, instead of just sounding like a bunch of samples thrown together.

Tied for 1st place – UKDaza – https://soundcloud.com/ukdaza/destiny-composition-challenge-4

I absolutely love UKDaza’s guitar playing. It sounds so much like Jeff Beck it’s ridiculous. There’s so much soul in the phrasing. The guitar playing is gut-wrenching in so many different places. I love the playing in this piece so much, it’s absolutely the type of live performance/improv I was hoping to get when I started doing these.

______________________

Originally I was going to award $100 to 1st and $50 to 2nd, but since I ended up choosing 4 “winners” I have to split it up a little differently. I’ll be sending $50 to each person. Not as much as the prize for 1st, but $50 more than the overall prize pool recently.

I’ll be announcing my next composition challenge shortly!

 

I feel terrible.

Earlier today I remembered that I’d forgotten to take my allergy pill. I remembered this because my face was congested, I had a headache and a stomach ache and I just felt awful in general. I also slept a good 4-5 hours more than I expected to.

I figured I’d catch up on my allergy pills by taking two of them, one to make up for last night and one for today. However, after several hours of wrestling with these same symptoms, I’d noticed that nothing was changing. I still had all of the same symptoms.

This means that allergies are out. And using the knowledge I’ve gained over the years, it was clear that it was time to start ddxing for Ebola.

I took my temperature and the news is grim. It appears as though I’m running a 2,001 degree (F) temperature, putting me well into the Ebola range. Sorry for the bad picture, but my body was beginning to melt the thermometer due to the extreme heat.

Due to this difficult news, there’s a 60/40 chance according to the WHO that I won’t survive for much longer. If this is the case, then that means I will stop streaming, effective as soon as I die.

I’ll keep you updated via twitter, young, brave rustlers. Stay strong for me.

Stay strong.