The Great Designer Search 2

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The Great Designer Search 2 "This Time It's Personal" was a contest by Wizards of the Coast held during the fall of 2010.[1][2]

Setting[edit | edit source]

The goal of the contest was to find new talent for Magic design and the grand prize was a design internship and thus was in general a job interview. The Great Designer Search 2 was held in part like a reality TV show like The Apprentice or Survivor, though the elimination of candidates was up to the judgment of Mark Rosewater as opposed to audience or a panel of judges.

The Great Designer Search 2 was a sequel to The Great Designer Search, which was held in the fall of 2006. However, this sequel differentiated from the first iteration by focusing on set design rather than individual card design. Part of this was the contestants proposing sets and fleshing them out on the (now retired) Wizards' Magic Wiki, which also incorporated some audience participation.

Initial trials[edit | edit source]

Like in the original Great Designer Search, The Great Designer Search 2 began with the candidates answering ten questions in essay form, with a 350 word cap per question. The questions were:[3]

  • Introduce yourself and explain why you are a good fit for this internship.
  • You are instructed to move an ability from one color to another. This ability must be something used in every set (i.e. discard, direct damage, card drawing etc.). You may not choose an ability that has already been color shifted by R&D. What ability do you shift and to what color do you shift it? Explain why you would make that shift.
  • What block do you feel did the best job of integrating design with creative? What is one more thing that could have been done to make it even better?
  • R&D has recently been looking at rules in the game that aren't pulling their weight. If you had to remove an existing rule from the game for not being worth its inclusion, what would it be?
  • Name a card currently in Standard that, from a design standpoint, should not have been printed. What is the card and why shouldn't we have printed it?
  • What do you think design can do to best make the game accessible to newer players?
  • What do you think design can do to best make the game attractive to experienced players?
  • Of all the mechanics currently in Extended, which one is the best designed? Explain why.
  • Of all the mechanics currently in Extended, which one is the worst designed? Explain why.
  • Choose a plane to revisit other than Dominaria or Mirrodin. What is a mechanical twist we could add if we revisit this plane?

As in the first iteration, Mark Rosewater provided his answers to the essay questions in an article.[4] In total 1,120 essays were submitted. 790 candidates were advanced[2] to a 50 question multiple choice test,[5] which was later publicized.[6]

101 people passed the multiple choice test (only Max McCall having a perfect score[7]) and were asked to submit a block proposal, providing the ideas and outline for the first large set in a block. To complete this the participants had to name the world the set was to take place in, describe what the world is like, how it ties to mechanically, and provide 10 preview cards. Of those ten cards each card type had to be present, each color had to be present, and all rarities had to be present. Additionally, those cards had to be fit for each of the nine regular columns on, as well as one feature article. Six of the ten cards had to be designed exclusively by the candidate, while the other four could have also been chosen from the participants in the Magic Wiki.[8]

Of the submitted proposals, 8 candidates were chosen to participate in the main show.

Final Candidates[edit | edit source]

The final candidates were Ethan Fleischer, Jonathon Loucks, Shawn Main, Devon Rule, Jay Treat, Scott Van Essen, Daniel Williams, and Jonathan Woodward.[9][10] Van Essen had also been a finalist in the first Great Designer Search.

Design Challenge #1 - "Common Ground"[edit | edit source]

For the first challenge, the candidates had to design 18 commons of the same color from their set.[11] Six of those cards had to be designed exclusively by the candidates. Six of those cards had to be taken from suggestions on their set-building Wiki. The candidates were allowed to have one reprint among those 18 cards.

Jay Treat was eliminated as a result of this challenge.

Design Challenge #2 - "Second time's the Charm"[edit | edit source]

As in the first week, the candidates were tasked to design 18 commons of the same color for their respective settings.[12] However, this time the colors were determined by Mark Rosewater for each candidate, having the color which he assumed to be the hardest for each candidate to develop.

The challenge resulted in Daniel Williams being eliminated.

Design Challenge #3 - "Trading Places"[edit | edit source]

In this challenge the candidates were asked to design three cycles of cards, one common, one uncommon and one rare or mythic rare.[13] However, the candidates were paired off with each other, and had to design their cycles for the sets of the other candidate. Their partner was not allowed to design cards for them, but was allowed to be consulted.

The pairs were Ethan Fleischer and Jonathan Loucks, Shawn Main and Scott van Essen, and Devon Rule and Jonathan Woodward. Jonathan Woodward did not make the cut as a result of this challenge.[14]

Design Challenge #4 - "Booster Shot"[edit | edit source]

The challenge consisted of the candidates designing a dream booster consisting of fifteen cards of the appropriate ratio (one rare or mythic rare, three uncommons, ten commons and a basic land or foil card of any rarity, with all five colors and possibly artifacts and lands covered) which would maximize the show-off potential of the set.[15] Candidates were also asked to give art descriptions for the cards they submitted in order to maximize the feeling each card would confer. Due to the difficulty of this challenge all candidates were afforded two weeks to complete it.

Jonathan Loucks was eliminated after this challenge.

Design Challenge #5 - "Introductions Please"[edit | edit source]

The candidates were tasked with building an intro deck for their sets. The decks had to follow the rules that other Preconstructed decks produced by WOTC at the time also followed.[16] The candidates could use cards that they had already designed in other challenges, and also use cards which were submitted by other participants on their wiki projects (with appropriate credit to those people).

Devon Rule was cut from the candidate pool after this challenge.

Finals[edit | edit source]

The remaining candidates, Shawn Main, Ethan Fleischer and Scott Van Essen, were flown in to Seattle for a round of interviews, a tour of the Wizards of the Coast offices, and a final design challenge to determine the winner.[17]

Similar to the final challenge of the first Great Designer Search, the candidates had to replace a card which was cut late in the development of a set. The card in question this time was Steamflogger Boss in Future Sight. The card had to be a red rare that would fit alphabetically between Skizzik Surger and Shah of Naar Isle and also fit the artwork for Steamflogger Boss. It could also not be too powerful or cause unpredictable game scenarios, as there was no time to properly test the card. It also had to be a future-shifted card, meaning that it would allude to a possible theme in an upcoming set which was never done before. The candidates were forbidden to design a card that would fit a set that was released after Future Sight.

Each candidate was provided with a dictionary, a large printout of the art for Steamflogger Boss, a Player's Guide for Future Sight (containing prints of the full card frame of each other card in the set), as well as pen and paper, and were segregated into personal rooms for an hour. After the hour was up each candidate had to submit three possible cards to fill the open slot, which were subsequently discussed with the other candidates as well as Mark Rosewater, Erik Lauer, Dave Humpherys, and Mark Globus. Aaron Forsythe also briefly participated in the meeting, as did rules manager Matt Tabak.

No clear winner was crowned at the end of the discussion, as the selected card was not the primary factor in the decision. The challenge was to test the team interaction and the ability of selling an idea and provide constructive criticism for other ideas.

Two days later, Mark Rosewater announced Ethan Fleischer as the winner of The Great Designer Search 2.[18]

Outcomes[edit | edit source]

As a result of the Great Designer Search 2, winner Ethan Fleischer and runner-up Shawn Main were hired by Wizards of the Coast. Additionally, Max McCall and former pro player Billy Moreno were hired for their participation in the Wizards Magic Wiki project, despite not being candidates in the main show. Moreno had also submitted an application in the regular format, but missed the cutoff in the multiple-choice test by one question.[19]

Dan Emmons, who had similarly participated in the Wiki project and passed the multiple choice test, was not hired as a designer. He independently found employment on the Game Support team, and with recommendations from his co-participants in the Great Designer Search, began contributing to "hole-filling" for upcoming sets. He eventually became a full-time member of the design team for Dragon's Maze.[20]

Two mechanics from the Great Designer Search, Fleischer's Evolve and Shawn Main's Assault (renamed Battalion), were used in Gatecrash for the Simic and Boros factions.

Another change that came out of The Great Designer Search 2 was giving Red the ability to "loot", to draw cards and discard them. While some such cards were in circulation before (e.g. Wheel of Fortune, or Winds of Change), it was the responses to one of the essay questions[4] that prompted giving red more support, as realized with cards such as Faithless Looting and Mad Prophet.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Mark Rosewater. "The Great Designer Search 2: "This Time It's Personal"". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. a b Staff (March 07, 2011). "The Great Designer Search 2". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Great Designer Search (October 06, 2010). "Essay Questions for Great Designer Search 2". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. a b Mark Rosewater (November 08, 2010). "Essay What]]". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Great Designer Search (October 13, 2010). "The Great Designer Search 2: Multiple Choice Questions". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Mark Rosewater (October 25, 2010). "A Few Multiple-Choice Words". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Mark Rosewater (January 26, 2018). "Do you think a perfect score could be the cutoff?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  8. Mark Rosewater (October 15, 2010). "The Design Test". Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Mark Rosewater. "The Great Designer Search 2 – Meet the Finalists". Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Mark Rosewaterauthor(s) (November 10, 2010). "GDS2, Episode 1: "Let's Start at the Very Beginning"". Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Mark Rosewater (November 24, 2010). "GDS2, Episode 2: Common Ground". Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Mark Rosewater (December 8, 2010). "The Great Designer Search 2: "Second Time's The Charm"". Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Mark Rosewater (author(s)). "8, 2010 Design Challenge #3: "Trading Places"". Wizards of the Coast.
  14. Mark Rosewater (December 22, 2010). "GDS2. Episode #4: "Trading Places"". Wizards of the Coast.
  15. Mark Rosewater (January 12, 2011). "GDS2 Episode 5: "Booster Shot"". Wizards of the Coast.
  16. Mark Rosewater (January 12, 2011). "Design Challenge #5: "Introductions Please"". Wizards of the Coast.
  17. Kelly Digges (March 7, 2011). "GDS2 Finals Coverage". Wizards of the Coast.
  18. Mark Rosewater (March 9, 2011). "Announcing the Winner of the GDS2". Wizards of the Coast.
  19. Mark Rosewater. "#12 - The Great Designer Search". Drive to Work.
  20. Mark Rosewater (April 08, 2013). "A Maze-ing Grace, Part 1". Wizards of the Coast.