Roguelike Celebration

Call for presenters

Technical talks, game design lessons, creative uses of procedural generation, interactive roguelike performances - we want to hear about it all!

(by July 14, 11:59pm PDT)

Tips For a Successful Proposal

We get more proposals for Roguelike Celebration every year than we can accept - and we decided it would be helpful to provide some guidelines for what is more likely to get your proposal accepted. We want to help make sure your proposal expresses the best things about your talk, and to make clear what types of talks might not fit our conference and are likely to be rejected.

These tips are based on past years and what led to the decisions we made - but do keep in mind they’re just guidelines! Exceptions always exist and if you’re passionate about a particular idea, we’d love to see it.

Common Pitfalls in a Talk Proposal

Some reasons why
we’ve declined a proposal

Possible ways to improve
It’s just a general retrospective about making your game or telling a straightforward story about what your game is.
Better to focus more on a specific theme, insight, or design ethos - give your talk a unique frame.
Sounds like you’re trying to pitch / sell your game.
Try to focus more on teaching a topic, sharing something you learned, or telling a story. Trust that people will check out your game!
Your game or ideas are still in development and still vague.
Sometimes this is ok when there’s a unique aspect, but sometimes it's better to propose it again next year after you’ve developed it further or shipped.
Talk theme sounds harsh or unkind about some kind of game pattern/technique, a game or group of games, etc.
Critique is great, but try to frame it in a positive and constructive way.
Proposal isn’t on topic enough, especially a technical topic that’s not quite on topic.
Consider an unconference session instead, or write a blog post and share it with the community. Or refocus on something more related to roguelikes and procedural generation.
Your proposal is about open ended discussion of a topic, but it’s not clear what new information you’re adding, or what conclusion you’re looking to present.
If you want to share thoughts and feelings on a topic, an unconference session can be great, or bring it up during breaks. If you do have a specific point you want to make, be clear about what it is.
Your proposal is very similar to past talks.
The more similar your proposal is to a past talk, the more you should talk about what makes *your* take different. We like different angles on similar topics but variety is also important!

Tips for a Great Proposal

Make it your talk

A great talk is one that no one else could give because it’s linked to your own experiences, perspectives, and ideas! This isn’t about your credentials - we want a sense of what you as a person bring to your talk.

Be Specific!

Giving your audience a teaser that leaves them with more questions can be fun, but not for your proposal. We don’t need a breakdown of every point you’re making, but we *do* need to know your overarching idea and where you’re taking it.

Know Your Audience

One lens we use for talks is “who is going to find this interesting and what are they going to take away from this talk?” The clearer you know this yourself and tell us, the better! It’s okay if the takeaway isn’t a literal skill but is a feeling like being inspired or amused - Just be intentional.

Don’t Rely on Deep Familiarity With Specific Games

Whether it’s your game or a classic you love, you can’t count on everyone having played it. It’s fine to still focus on particular games but make sure people who don’t know it as well as you can still follow along and get something out of your talk.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short!

We’re an oddball mix of people who do this because we love it, not because we think we’re amazing at it or the most qualified people in the world. So it’s fine if that’s you too - try not to talk down at yourself or second guess your own proposal.

... And Don’t Rely Just on Credentials

If you made a great game or are a full time speaker that’s awesome to know, but we still need to evaluate your idea itself! Don’t spend too much time listing out your bona fides, just let us know the highlights then get into why your talk will be great.

Example of an Accepted Submission

As an organizer, Alexei has agreed to share her 2018 talk submission for “Nethack: Tech Tourist Mode” as an example of a submission that was accepted. It’s useful to note that this proposal deals with a single game and a personal project, both potential issues. What counters those issues is the proposal explicitly saying what the audience is expected to get out of it, including people who don’t know Nethack. Discussion with the organizers led to the decision to turn it into a full talk, partly so that the aspect of “the benefits of exploring source code in general” could be fleshed out.

A professional game designer and programmer from Edmonton, I inherited a love of Nethack from my mother and have been interested in roguelikes my whole life. I previously worked in the Nethack codebase to research how roguelikes could be made more accessible for visually impaired players, and presented my findings at the first Roguelike Celebration.

Talk Title:
Nethack: Tech Tourist Mode

What would you like to present on? *
A guided tour of the Nethack codebase, highlighting areas of particular interest or amusement. When I was working in the Nethack code for my research I found a lot of interesting tidbits I'd like to share with people who lack the time or technical know-how to go digging through the code themselves. I could do this as a short 10 minute talk that just speeds through some highlights, or I think there's enough of it to spin into more of a 20 minute talk, potentially bringing in some discussion of how someone could play with the Nethack code themselves, or generally the fun of browsing the source for your favourite roguelike.

Do you have anything else to share about your proposal?
I presented my work on making roguelikes more accessible for visually impaired players at the first Roguelike Celebration (a presentation which I also gave in a couple other contexts). I've continued to do other talks on various subjects, such as chaos theory (which I'm submitting another talk proposal in relation to), and how to start making video games.

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