Inside the Mind of a Case Modding Judge

In July of 2015 Modders-Inc hosted the 4th year of the case modding competition at QuakeCon in Dallas, TX. This year however, was the first year it was dubbed the “US Case Modding Championship” and with that name change came a new level in which our judges must critique on. As always, the competition split among three classes (Case Mod Classic, Scratch Build and ID/Bethesda Themed Mod) and there is a standard list of characteristics that are looked at such as, build quality, overall theme and creativity. However, each judge will be looking at certain details harder than others such as, “OK you have hardline tubing in your rig but, how does it flow? Is it straight? Does it match the aesthetic of the build?” Questions like that are more concerning to judges than, “What hardware did you use?” This is why I am writing this article, not to bash on anyone’s mod but to give some insight and tips into what will be looked at not just in this contest but most modding competitions.

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Your Parts 

The biggest misconception with competitions is the bigger the better. Despite your rig having quad Titan Giga Radeons with 5 Intel CPUs powered by the Makron himself (I think its a dude?) all this power actually has very little impact when the judges are deciding for the top mod. Why’s that? Anyone can buy those parts and install them in a rig, but not everyone can spend the tireless hours making a machine one of a kind and have the rig reflect that. Remember it’s a CASE modding competition, we want to know what you did to make that case your own work of art, not focus on parts that anyone can get.

Well I had…

This is the beginning phrase explaining how someone else did part of the work for the owner of the case mod. The judges completely understand that sometimes work has to be farmed out such as, 3D printing, laser work, CNCing and paint. That being said, remember this phrase because it will always ring true with Modders-Inc and possibly other sites that hold contests.

“We are here to see what you can do, not what you can pay someone else to do.”

Something else to keep in mind: When you have someone else do the work for you it will slowly but surely chip away at the satisfaction that comes from doing it yourself. Judges will rate the case where the owner did the work one’s self. It might not even come close to top tier as you expect from a professional doing it, but the judges greatly appreciate a solid effort versus farming out work.

Well maybe they won’t notice…

Even I am guilty of this one, trying to hide either mismanaged cables, a bad paint job, crooked parts, etc. The best way to know that your mod is truly done and that you are 100% content with your work is not to have fear when someone says, “OK lets take off the side panels to have a closer look.” If your heart sinks when you hear this, you are trying to hide something. Get out of that mindset,”Oh well it’s hidden so I won’t get marked off for it.” Think again, you never know what we may have up our sleeve or if we will ever do a surprise “Rig Inspection” on the spot. With us “Out of sight, out of mind” does not exist. As judges, we are truly excited to see what you’ve brought to the table. We want to see what you’ve done. The biggest thing people try to hide are the rats nest of wires on the back side of the motherboard or under a PSU shroud. With the availability of sleeving and electrical tutorials online this is no longer an excuse. Do yourself a favor, visit one of the many sleeving/cable stores online, order a crimper and some supplies and tidy up everything! As for hardline tubing which popped up on the scene in large numbers about three years ago, we want things to line up. While getting piping to go from point to point is really all you need, what we want to see is the next level, where the lines are run cleanly or to the theme and you don’t see bubbles or kinks/rolls in the tubing.

I’m here to win, I have to win

Again I am guilty of this one. Although winning is the goal, never let it engulf you so far that you forget to enjoy the actual event or even worse what modding is really all about. When you become so tunnel visioned that the idea of not placing and winning some sort of prize becomes a nightmare, take a moment to regroup. Put down the tools, leave the workshop and spend some time on some worklogs on your obviously favorite forum “Modders-Inc.com” and let your mindset reboot. Last thing you want is for your ego to get the best of you. Not only will your mod suffer, but your interaction with other attendees will also be affected.

Again, this article was not meant to bash anyone but more of an insight on what judges are actually looking for when critiquing your mods. Don’t be afraid to ask (in a kind manner, of course) about what you were docked for, after all we cannot fix an issue unless we know what the problem is. Quakecon 2015 was spectacular and it was good to see that the modding community is not only well and alive, but is also stepping up their game. Here’s to 2016, which with the new Doom and Fallout 4 coming out I predict our ID/Bethesda category is going to be a madhouse. Thanks for reading guys, until the next one.

The 2015 US Case Modding Championship Winners
The 2015 US Case Modding Championship Winners

We also take sometime in Podcast #34 and talk about what we saw on the mods that got judged at the US Case Modding Championship.

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