Dreaming of Summer Wardrobe Contest Winners Announced!

Dreaming of Summer Feature Image

Dreaming of Summer Wardrobe Contest: Analysis

Now that the Dreaming of Summer Wardrobe Contest is over, I would like to include here how we went about doing the contest and anything I believe we could improve on in the future. Hopefully this acts as a guide or provide useful information to other potential contest holders as well as a way to improve how we run and operate contests in the future.

As this is our first time holding this sort of contest there’s plenty to improve on.

Summary (tl;dr version):

  • Theme Criteria: Needs to be more specific, less open to interpretation. List what entrants can or can’t use otherwise players will become frustrated when their interpretation is different. Blame for this contest is squarely on me for not being specific (Khortish).
  • Timing: More time is required both for submissions and judging.
  • Submissions:
  • I used WordPress’s Contact Form Shortcode and Bulk Rename Utility for renaming the screenshots.
  • Some entries were missing complete playername@shardname. Separating them into two fields could solve this.
  • Judging: Would probably be better off with 2 females and 2 males for the judges for more balance. Judging involved judges picking their top 10 picks, combining, then voting on them. The judges had widely different preferences which lead to highly contentious semi-finalists making it to the finalists. What would be a better process to judge the entries?


First up, Trion provided me with the theme and I came up with the “Dreaming of Summer” title. I was worried that the Summer theme would be rather limiting (just stuff like  swimsuits and that’s about it) but realised later on that the theme included:

  • Beachware
  • Light clothing (as in not thick)
  • Life-based Outfits
  • Water-based Outfits (pirates, snorkeling, plane of water-themed/etc)
  • Fire-based Outfits (charred outfits, sun-related outfits)
  • Other unique outfits that relate to Summer.

One of the issues with this contest that I will improve on next time I do a themed contest is allowing the theme to be too open to interpretation. The contest page did not mention exactly what type of outfits you had to come up with – i.e., there was no “You must wear light-colored clothing that doesn’t cover all skin”.

I’ve seen numerous complaints by players unhappy that the finalists included black outfits. I deemed them to be appropriate for the Summer theme as a ‘darker’ side to the Summer relating to bushfires and the charred landscape that is left in its wake.

In the future the theme’s criteria needs to be more defined so players will know what to expect and lead to less frustration/animosity from players who may have had a more restrictive interpretation of the theme.

For the Dreaming of Summer Wardrobe Contest though, any blame for having black outfits in the Finalists goes to me.


The judges and I had limited time for this particular contest due to Trion’s deadline to receive the 10 Finalists. In total from the day I was contacted, we had 3 weeks. I put 2 weeks for entries to be submitted and 1 week for judging.

In an ideal situation without a deadline, timing would have optimally been:

  • At least 1 month for entries to be submitted. This should give players more time to come up with outfits. Some players may have decided to skip the contest simply because they didn’t have time – some players only play on the weekend – with Trion posting information about the contest in the final week, they may have missed the message and effectively only had 2-3 days to come up with and  submit entries prior to submission cut-off.
  • 2 weeks for judging. To be honest, the longer the better. 1 week just isn’t enough time, especially if one or more of the judges has RL issues to deal with preventing them from judging and you need to find a new judge. With a longer time frame I would be able to choose a different judging process.


I used WordPress’s Contact Form shortcode for the Contact Form, placing the ‘Required’ field for all areas that are required. Entries cannot be submitted without those fields being filled out first. This ensured that players didn’t have any missing information that was vital to their submission.

Submission Issues

  • Some entries were missing their playername but had their shardname. Others had the reverse.
  • Some entries were missing their screenshot urls, had corrupted links or very tiny screenshots without a means to see a ‘full size’.

PlayerName@ShardName Issues

The best way to solve this would be to separate the two and make both fields “Required”. This way players won’t accidentally forget or have issues with adding in one or the other.

Screenshot Issues

I added a link to IMGUR which I hoped would resolve the screenshot issue. The majority of the ‘tiny’ screenshots came from Photobucket – these were images that didn’t have the ‘full size’ option that most of the Photobucket submissions had. This may be due to size limits or unintended resizing.

The best way to solve this would be to add an upload-via-computer button, although I don’t think WP.com has this option.

Organizing Entries

Renaming entries was done through “Bulk Rename Utility” (Note: Be aware of bloatware, press ‘No’ to any 3rd party software install requests during the installation process). It’s a pretty powerful software that allows you to bulk rename a ton of files with quite specific parameters.

I would have used Belvedere but for some reason the software keeps locking up whenever I try to add a new ‘rule’.

The software saves a huge amount of time so you don’t have to manually rename.

Filename Issues

I made a mistake with organizing entry filenames. I gave each image a separate number whereas I should have made each entry one number and then added a suffix. i.e.

  • “10128_1”, “10128_2”, “10128_3” instead of “10128”, “10129”, “10130”.

This would have made it easier on the judges.

The 5-digit could have been 4-digit but it is important when it comes to arranging files by alphabetical order. Having it as “128_1” wouldn’t have worked out because “13_1” would be in front of “128_1”.

Randomizing Filenames

In hindsight I think giving each judge different filenames for each entry would work out better. Judging can be affected by when entries are viewed. Entries that are shown after a judge sees a ton of other entries are more likely to be compared to other entries as opposed to the first handful of entries.

This will require separate excel spreadsheets (containing other information like wardrobe description and title name) and a separate folder for each judge. There will also need to be a ‘master’ spreadsheet to link up the various filenames from each judges’ folder to the relevant entry.

The Judging Process

The judging process for the Dreaming of Summer Wardrobe Contest involved having all judges (4) pick their top 10 entries, combine it, then provide a score out of 10 which is combined for a score out of 40. Top 10 scores become the Finalists who are then voted on by livestream viewers for the Top 3.

I had thought of a few other ways to judge the entries but felt given time constraints this was a good way to go about it. Does anyone have any other methods they would have gone about this process?


Given the judges chose their entries with the theme in mind, I did not intervene for any of the semi-finalists. I was wary of intervening other than for strictly non-theme entries as the whole point of having multiple judges is to prevent bias. Different judges have different preferences and those need to be respected otherwise I might as well have had only one judge, myself.

Picking Judges

We had one female and three male judges. Two Rift fansite operaters, one raider and a Trion staff member.

In the future, two females and two males might have been better, or 5 judges if the judging process is changed to a “Yes”/”No” type voting system.

Voting & the Finalists

The judges all had largely different preferences. Some entries a judge would score 5/10 whilst others scored 8-10/10 and the reverse would happen for other entries. In the end this meant that the vast majority of entries were extremely close to one another in terms of score and highly contentious semi-finalist entries ended up squeezing ahead.

What’s the alternative? Again, the contest holder can’t dismiss individual judges’ preferences simply because they are different from their own. Doing so would make the judging process biased and the contest holder may as well be the sole judge.

However, the differing preferences meant that a lot of amazing entries and some of each judges’ cream-of-the-crop picks didn’t make it to the Finalists round.

  • Does this mean the contest holder should pick judges with the same preferences as them? That method seems biased.
  • Or perhaps public voting with finalists expanded to the semi-finalists. That could work, although a livestream format might be an issue with such voting (due to no. of entries). There’s also issues of illegitimate votes using other means like polls.
  • [Update] A third option could be to have judges pick their top 5 entries, with the knowledge that their top 3 entries would all be compiled to make the finalists. If multiple judges voted for the same entries, the last 2 picks from edge judge would be combined and voted on to be added to the finalists until the quota (say, 12 finalists) is met. That way, the top 3 picks for each judge will make it to the finals and there would be less contentious entries making it through.

There doesn’t seem to be a ‘right’ answer to this.


I’m really interested in hearing from players and any suggestions you might have to improve contests in the future. Hit up the comments below, use our contact form or PM me on the forums.


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Categories: Archives, Contest

10 Comments on “Dreaming of Summer Wardrobe Contest Winners Announced!”

  1. Matt
    July 13, 2014 at 8:06 am #

    Here’s my feedback about the contest:

    1) Model the outfits during the livestream on both a male and female character. As a creator of a submission myself, I tried to make sure that the outfit would look reasonable on both a male and a female model. Since winning outfits make it onto the rift store, it’s difficult to judge which one you like best if you have no idea what it will look like on you (several of the costume items look completely different when you change the gender it’s displayed on). I feel like this would make the live voting process a bit more productive as well, especially when being able to see how a non-skimpy bikini version of an outfit would look on a guy’s toon.

    3) Randomize/remove identifying information from the entries. I like that Solaura took their screenshots from the loading screen and as such you couldn’t see any name/shard, so perhaps have that be a requirement next time (or have people use ctrl+u to remove all overlay/text when taking screenshots). Have one person (perhaps you, Khortish) be designated with putting together all of the entries and giving them to a separate panel of judges for review so that there cannot be any bias in knowing who an entrant is.

    3) Try and stick to the theme. I know that you state that you “deemed them to be appropriate for the Summer theme as a ‘darker’ side to the Summer relating to bushfires and the charred landscape that is left in its wake”, but did all four judges agree on that point? It’s a little dubious to assume that all of those dark outfits (7/10 of the finalists) were submitted with the idea of bushfires and charred landscapes in mind, especially with some of the descriptions you’ve shared (submitted by the contestants). While I agree that people can get creative and tweak the idea of “summer” to a darker theme, it was evident even during the live stream that the more “summer”-y outfits were the crowd favorites in this themed contest. Creative entries shouldn’t be discouraged, but should only make it into the finalist stage if they were submitted with a direct intention of being a “twist” on summer-and only a couple of the darker finalists look like that could be the case, whereas the others-while creative costumes in their own right-simply don’t fit this contest.

    Other than that, thanks for hosting the contest, it was a definitely a fun process putting together an entry and it looks like there were a lot of great submissions out there. Congratulations to the winners!

    • July 13, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

      Hey Matt, thanks for the feedback! Good points you’ve made there. Male/female side-by-side is definitely something to look at. The issue there is trying to get this done prior to the Finalists being picked (otherwise we’d still end up with the same problem of having finalists whose outfits don’t look good on the other gender). Unfortunately we can’t really expect players to produce both male and female versions of their outfits since store preview just isn’t enough (especially for dye customisation).

      Going ahead, perhaps I can try to pull together a store preview ‘mock-up’ of a version of each outfit for the other gender as entries come in during the contest submission period. It won’t be 100% the same but will allow the judges to have a relatively good idea of what the outfit would look like for both men and women.

      Sticking to the theme is definitely the big one I’ll improve on. Probably specific criteria and expressing them to players before-hand.

  2. July 13, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    “For the Dreaming of Summer Wardrobe Contest though, any blame for having black outfits in the Finalists goes to me.”

    Thank you!
    Most of the darker costumes were NOT bad in themselves. However, most observers were quite confused how they would be chosen over others for this kind of contest. No, we’re not looking for dark outfits (not just in color, but I’m also talking about tone) for Summer, just as we’re not looking for bright and fun (not goofy, but ‘fun’) for a Halloween contest. Yep, rare exceptions in both cases make sense – but those should be specifically good exceptions.

    • July 13, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

      Indeed, will make sure this doesn’t happen next time. Although I only picked one black outfit for the semi-finalist voting, it was definitely my fault to allow black outfits through to the Finalist voting stage and the way the voting worked ended up pushing those outfits ahead by 1 or 2 votes.

  3. Kelborn
    July 14, 2014 at 1:14 am #

    Most of the suggestions I would have had have already been said by Matt above. The only other thing I can say is a way to handle the color issues.

    Either a) ban certain dyes for a contest, or b) restrict submissions to a set color palette.

    An example would be for a Summer contest to ban Black dyes. For a Fae Yule contest, have entrants choose between green, red, gold, white, and blue hues only.

    I also want to stress the importance of having outfits viable for both male and female characters. I highly doubt that either of the 3rd place winning outfits will look half as decent on a male character.

    All in all, it was fun watching the Stream for the end of the contest, even though my entry probably didn’t even get as much as a cursory glance (I kind of derped hard on the shoulders/gloves for it).

  4. Dehek
    July 14, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    What’s with all the black? Are they going to a funeral?

    A lot of the semi-finalists outfits looked more summer related, than some of the finalists.

    Kudos to the first place winner!

  5. Ketta
    July 15, 2014 at 10:34 pm #

    I really appreciate that you’ve given such a thoughtful and detailed analysis of the event. You’ve pretty much covered all the issues I had with it.

    It was incredibly frustrating to see that the majority of costumes selected as finalists were not even remotely summer themed. They were all pretty good, and I have no problem with black (I wear black in the summer…so either I’m a freak or those who don’t approve of black in summer are too narrow minded, heh). The frustration was with those selections that were heavily armor-clad, skimpy that implied high sexuality rather than summer fun (as in, fun for all ages..and no I’m not a prude), or just zero effort at anything remotely summer.

    Even though you admit the guidelines weren’t strict enough, it was obvious to me and many others what the intent of the contest was, so how was so highly misinterpreted? I honestly won’t lay much blame at your feet for that.

    My submission was very similar to the cowgirl-themed entry, sans boots and hat. Hats take away hair styles and boots in the summer…well, when I think of summer, boots are tucked away in the closet (but that’s just me). With no shoe options, I refused to be painted into a corner to HAVE to choose footwear. While I didn’t expect to have my submission chosen, when I saw the cowgirl-themed one (I used to same top and shorts, dyed differently), I had to wonder…was it simply not chosen due to lack of head and footwear? I didn’t want to cover up my cute red pig-tails, and boots make for stanky feet. I know you probably can’t answer this, but it leads to my next comment…

    Judging. The whole point of it is objectivity, an understanding of the criteria, and knowledge of the environment (i.e. the game). To curb any sort of bias on a personal level, names and other identifiers should be removed. But you know this already…I simply wanted to lead into an idea for future judging.

    Perhaps a broader pool of judges could be selected from the player base, gm’s and mods, and the devs. Players could sign up to be judges, but only if they aren’t participating and they have to agree to a set of terms (like those mentioned above). Not sure how to execute something like this, but thought I’d throw the idea out there.

    Finally, one thing I didn’t realize is that our outfits would be modeled by another avatar than our own. It’s the first contest of Rift’s I’ve entered, and I designed my outfit to fit my character. Her hairstyle was just as much a part of the costume, as was the backdrop I took her screens on. With an appropriately-themed squirrel and some summer-fun gear like a backpack and fishing pole. Was the information that they’d be modeled by a different avatar somewhere that I missed?

    Thanks again for hosting this, I know it likely took a lot of your time and sanity. Despite my disappointment, I’ll be trying future contests due to your analysis and willingness to help future events like this improve. 🙂

    • July 15, 2014 at 11:45 pm #

      Hey Ketta, thank you for the feedback! Much appreciated!

      I did notice your entry and thought it was done quite well – even had it in my initial semi-finalist folder, but that folder filled out quick and as there was a large amount of outfits that were pretty similar to each other; this made it hard to choose between them. Just the tiniest things can push them ahead.

      Having a broader judging base would be good as well but without knowing those players it can be harder to determine if they would collude with entrants. Removing names/etc wouldn’t help because they could just tell each other what they look like if they were really interested in cheating. There’s then also issues with whether it would be appropriate to include Wardrobe Name and Description alongside the entry as this may help shape the entry so judges have a better grasp of what the entry is attempting to portray. I did like Greenscale’s feedback on the Rift Forums where he suggested having all Judges be Trion staff to avoid the whole concern over judges helping friends/guildmates.

      I also didn’t realise that outfits would be modeled differently. It’s a good point and if RiftGrate works with Trion again for future joint wardrobe contests I’ll be sure to mention it.

      In any case it’s definitely quite the learning experience but hopefully with this experience under our belt we’ll be able to organize contests better going ahead. 😀

  6. Kiara
    July 29, 2014 at 8:44 am #

    There’s been some good and appropriate feedback given, and I don’t have much to add. The only feedback I’ll offer is that in the future, Trion should definitely state up front and very clearly when the prizes for the contest would be delivered, and the community sites that work with Trion for contests like these should insist that they do so.

    As of today, two and a half weeks since the winners were announced, none of the winners have received anything and there’s been no clear communication from Trion as to when the promised prizes will be delivered. Obviously, this has nothing to do with Riftgrate, but it looks bad on Trion’s part, and is very frustrating to those involved who spent time and money putting entries together before the entry deadline. Without a defined timeline that includes a definite date when prizes will be delivered, I wouldn’t be entering any future contests.

    Thanks for all the work you’ve done on this Khortish. 🙂

  7. peter
    July 31, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

    I like that this time round there was at least one Eu player.
    seems fair

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