Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby OliverFA on Fri Jul 01, 2011 8:15 pm

jefjef wrote:
I hereby propose that this issue be made more clear, and that mapmakers seek the approval of the Foundry Foreman before making a map. I genuinely believe this is the only way to stop the "bad" maps from reaching the forge...


Unless I'm mistaken doesn't the process already hold up "bad" maps from progressing thru the foundry?

AND I disagree having foundry foreman/committee "approval" of a map. Quite frankly only maps that fit the taste of said foreman would progress at the detriment of good - fun maps that he may not like but many others do. I think it would limit creativity.


But the foreman shouldn't be able to reject maps just because. A rejected map would always have a reason for it.
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby porkenbeans on Sat Jul 02, 2011 1:02 am

The quality of the maps here at CC has been significantly reduced. I believe that this started with the departure of mibi, to start his own Risk site. He managed to take with him CC's most talented and experienced mapmakers. Also on or about that time a few of the more talented mapmakers retired.

I do NOT think that your current problems stem from some inadequacy in the Foundry system, as much as, the inadequacy that lies in the "Talent" dept. I am tempted to list examples of crappy maps, but I do Not want to be perceived as trying to flame any particular person. Suffice it to say, The Foundry here at CC has squeezing out some real turds lately.

I can certainly see what would lead Mr B to want to get a hold of the reins. terrible maps are being awarded with Graphic Stamps. I do not know if this is because the staff has become a part of the Foundry Clique and have lost their subjectivity, or if it is something else like an overall drop in interest in the foundry. But, something does indeed need to be done here.
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby n.n. on Sat Jul 02, 2011 5:21 am

Hi to all,
i'd like to add my humble opinion on the map process in CC heavily based only on my personal experience with it - on the one map i got through it.

First of all, every map is unique and its problems are unique too - so there really is a need to make a custom effort for each and every one of the submissions. The problems are already successfully segmented into: graphics, gameplay and final touches.

When i first submitted my map it was VERY ugly and that was corrected with the help of the community, also some gameplay issues it had. So, if you stopped me working it - instead of help me - it would never get through and would be passed at a idea level as a bad, ugly map - which now it is not.

There really is no need to make the decision which one goes first - as in IT world, design and gameplay should be different processes that do not mix and in CC world might as well go in parallel.

So, my suggestion is as follows, as a spin off of the committee idea and as something that might be out of the limits set in the first post here:
- process any map idea that comes to CC through an "map ideas" forum - when someone shows the skills and will to work with the idea, and IF the IDEA committee likes the map idea and the maker, move it to Graphic Design and Gameplay forums, only way to do this in my opinion is to make this time related - if lets say 3 months pass and nothing really happens - do not process the idea further
- In both of these two different forums (Graphic Design and Gameplay), we could have committee No 2 and No 3 that help, approve and stamp the map, again, time should be an issue here, dont really know how much though
- If and When the map gets BOTH stamps - move to the Final forge when its free for all to comment but up to a foundry committee No 4 to vote and make the map official

So there it is:
IDEA
- >
Graphics and Gameplay
- >
Final

Hope i helped and i really hope i did not say something stupid that has already been discussed or done or IS a practice...
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby OliverFA on Sat Jul 02, 2011 7:38 am

I am commenting some of the previous posts. I won't comment everything, just what I have something to say about. I hope noone feels offended if I leave his comment out.

The current system: Of course, the current system is not free of flaws. It can and should be improved. But scraping it completely and inventing something different is not the way to go. The new system would have even more flaws thatn the current one, because something new always has flaws by definition. I am more in favour of polishing the actual system, pointing his flaws and fixing them. That will be the only way to achieve an (almost) perfect system.

natty_dread wrote:Anyway, the current Design Brief system doesn't really work, and it's probably because there's not enough manpower to address the submitted briefs quickly, which leads to the foundry mods to feel pressured to approve any design brief - also, it seems that no one is really rejecting any briefs, they're either approved or left in a perpetual limbo...

I don't think that's a big issue. What we need it's a fixed thread where mapmakers submit their Design Brief (like the thread for submiting the XML) then those drafts are reviewed in order of appliance. So at each moment everybody knows which is the next draft to be reviewed and how many drafts are before a particular one. While the mapmaker waits for the design brief to be reviewed, he should encourage discussion in the map thread.

cairnswk wrote:MrBenn, there is a certain amount of "sell" in that design brief. But the design brief is a proposal, and in the foundry the deisgn brief may change completely depending on the feedback obtained. In some ways it can become obsolete.

Yes. That happens with many creation items. The TV series sites are full of interviews where the writers say "we had that idea but it became something completely different". However, you need an original idea in order to pich the map. Look at it like a Business Plan, like an episode draft in a TV series, like a design document in a video game, etc. If the author is not able to create a brief saying what he wants to acomplish and why his idea is so good, then probably it's better to stop him right at the begining instead of allowing him to advance. The longer he is allowed to continue the bigger his disapointment when he is told that his map is not good (and the more difficult to do it, as he has invested a lot of time and effort). So the design brief is in fact something good for the mapmaker. Plus most times by writing a Business Plan the author gets a much better idea of what he wants to acomplish.

cairnswk wrote:But i don't think the Foundry Foreman having all that power is the right way to go. It's very "Julius Caesar" - autocratic, and could lead to marginalisation of a group of players wanting a map.
(If you had been doing the "yaying" or "naying" i possibly would never have gotten Poison Rome through the process, because i think you may have misjudged what the map was about and/or how it worked (apart from the graphics). And there is now a faction that thinks Poison Rome is a very good map.)

Is not that a single person has the absolute power to decide who lives and who dies, but someone has to be in charge. I think that your concern is more a requirement for the person(s) doing the task. That person has to be an open person, willing to take into account feedback and comments. That's why some time has to pass between the draft being posted and the final decision being taken. During that time any issue should be addresed.

Plus rejecting an idea is not saying "No, you never can do that". It is saying "It can't be done in its current state". But if all the issues are addressed, solved, and the idea resubmited, I don't see why the idea shouldn't be accepted. Rejecting an idea is not telling the mapmaker "you are bad". Is saying "you have done a good job, but you should improve this and this and this". Rejected ideas should never be just a "No". They should be a "We reject the map for this this and this reason". Again, make the comparison to an editor rejecting a book, a producing rejecting an episode idea for the TV, and so... It's not saing the writer is bad. Is saying that particular ideas needs some more work.

Nola_Lifer wrote:Do you have any examples? What makes an idea bad or good? If someone is new and they are making their first map, of course it may not be up to the standard as other that produce maps. But if you don't encourage these people how will the learn to be the best? There are a lot of quality map makers here but there is always room for more users to step up and learn the craft. Maybe some sort of apprenticeship could help so the "bad" ones aren't so bad. ;)

That's a good point. For that reason rejecting an idea should never be a "this is bad" thing. This should be "this is bad for this, this and this. If a first time mapmaker wants to do a map there is a high chance that his idea has some flaws. If the design brief (not the idea) is rejected in the proper way, it can be encouraging to the mapmaker. Most mapmakers (and creators in general) what they want is some feedback. If the mapmaker receives something like an encouraging "rejecting note" this can be very positive, encourage him to improve his idea and resubmit it with much better shape. Something like "Hey, we have seen your map design. Unfortunately it's not good enough, but we see you have put a lot of effort. It would be great if you fixed this. And better to avoid this because it's not a good idea".

The map committee thing: This needs some work, but it's a good idea. Anyone who follows the map has a better idea of why the map is good or bad. So their voice needs to be listened to. But I don't think they have to be making the final decision because being so close to map development they will be inclined to wanting to let the map pass (just the opposite of the foreman concerns) so probably a mixed system with the foreman and the committe, or the foreman heading the committee but taking a more distant approach would be good.

porkenbeans wrote:The quality of the maps here at CC has been significantly reduced. I believe that this started with the departure of mibi, to start his own Risk site. He managed to take with him CC's most talented and experienced mapmakers. Also on or about that time a few of the more talented mapmakers retired.

I do NOT think that your current problems stem from some inadequacy in the Foundry system, as much as, the inadequacy that lies in the "Talent" dept. I am tempted to list examples of crappy maps, but I do Not want to be perceived as trying to flame any particular person. Suffice it to say, The Foundry here at CC has squeezing out some real turds lately.

I can certainly see what would lead Mr B to want to get a hold of the reins. terrible maps are being awarded with Graphic Stamps. I do not know if this is because the staff has become a part of the Foundry Clique and have lost their subjectivity, or if it is something else like an overall drop in interest in the foundry. But, something does indeed need to be done here.

I agree with this because I said it in a previous post. There are so many me-too maps which add nothing new. I also don't want to flame anyone, but it seems like just because someone has spent many hours in a map he thinks the map has to be accepted. Of course anyone who has spent time deserves a good well written feedback. But deserving proper feedback is not the same has your map having to be accepted compulsory.
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby DiM on Sat Jul 02, 2011 7:55 am

i too agree with OliverFA and porkenbeans. frankly i'm tired of people saying they've worked hard or that they've been waiting for X months and crap like that. if a map is shitty i really don't care if they put a thousand hours into it or that they've been waiting for a year it's still shit and should never be quenched.
another problem that might be imaginary since nobody else mentions it is that the current CAs and the foreman are too bloody merciful. right now there seems to be a policy that "no feedback is good news". basically if a map is bland and dull and barely a few people comment the CAs jus leave it there for a few months. if the map maker doesn't quit then it gets the stamp. that's not normal. there are maps in progress with no posts for 2 weeks or more or with updates dating from 1-3 months ago. those should be promptly moved in the abandoned projects section not let to sit around. because at some point the map maker will come and say: "i've been sitting here for 3 months and since i see no posts saying otherwise i demand this to be stamped and moved forward" and you can't honestly blame that map maker because his hopes have already been pumped because the CAs allowed his map to stay alive for so long, so in his own mind he formed the (wrong) opinion that his maps is actually quite good and the lack of comment is merely proof that everybody is pleased and have nothing to add.
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby OliverFA on Sat Jul 02, 2011 9:31 am

So that's why the first step (the design brief) should be a hard one but not a one-shot thing. A bland brief should not pass, but should receive meaningful feedback about why it is bland. If the mapmaker corrects those issues and resubmits the design brief, then it could move forward.
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby koontz1973 on Sat Jul 02, 2011 11:31 am

OliverFA wrote:So that's why the first step (the design brief) should be a hard one but not a one-shot thing. A bland brief should not pass, but should receive meaningful feedback about why it is bland. If the mapmaker corrects those issues and resubmits the design brief, then it could move forward.


The only way to get meaningful feed back is from either people willing to commit time to doing that and they must have experience with the programmes that are used, or get more people to frequent the foundry forums. This for me is the biggest problem. natty_dread has been a great help to me, spotting things that I have missed and leaving feedback about what is wrong.

Having the first step the hardest will weed out the bad, but if it is too hard, then a map that might of been good might get left. There has to be a balance.
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby porkenbeans on Sat Jul 02, 2011 12:00 pm

If it is decided that the process has to be changed, then I propose that you change it in such a way that simplifies, NOT complicates. By this I mean loosen up things. Make it less rigid. The artistic process is NOT something that you can structure the same for every map, and every mapmaker. So in other words, do NOT tell a mapmaker that he MUST complete the GP before he works on the GFX. This is ridicules. It assumes that GP is more important than GFX, and considers GFX as nothing more than a "pretty up" stage.

Just let the map evolve as it will. I believe that all if not most maps, evolve with GP and GFX side by side. a change on one effects changes on the other.

The main problem with doing the GP first is that it is in the GP workshop for so long that followers of the map become accustomed to it. They develop a certain fondness for the look and feel of the map, that they are very reluctant at the thought of change. This is why most maps pretty much look the same coming out as they are coming in the GFX Workshop. This hampers the artistic nature that the GFX Workshop relies on to produce quality maps.

I believe hat two separate threads be started for each map after they have made it through the design Brief stage. One for GP, and one for GFX. That way they are allowed to advance at their own pace side by side.

I also think that every map should be assigned a Foundry Assistant at this time. The FA is in charge of taking the mapmaker by the hand, and walking him or her ALL of the way through to quench.
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby natty dread on Sat Jul 02, 2011 12:18 pm

Porkenbeans, it's not like graphics of the map are not being developed during the GP stage... or that GP workshop is only meant for gameplay development. That's not how it works currently, nor has ever worked I think.

You should more think of the gameplay stage as simply "the period when the gameplay is open" and GFX as "the period when the gameplay is closed". The GP and GFX stamps are like achievement badges: before the GP stamp, both GP and GFX are being developed, and once you get the GP stamp, it's an achievement that says "gameplay is fine now, no need to work on it anymore". After which you work on graphics only.

Which makes sense, since some things (like small map, xml, etc.) should not be started until you're sure the gameplay is relatively static.

But maps should be about the gameplay, and gameplay should be the first priority. After all, the prettiest map in the world is no use if it plays like total crap. The majority of CC players are much more willing to forgive sub-par graphics than they are to forgive sub-par gameplay (as long as the map is readable).
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby porkenbeans on Sat Jul 02, 2011 1:34 pm

Like usual you do not understand what I am talking about, but still feel the need to contradict me.

You are wrong nat. I can not tell you how many times that I have commented on a GFX element in GP workshop, only to be told that it will have to wait until the map hits GFX Workshop. But then if I DO wait for a map to hit GFX before I comment on GFX, The mapmaker and the fans of the map that have been loyally following it, are very reluctant to consider every little change. They have been accustomed to the gfx on the map as it is.

Natty, you do not need to instruct me as to HOW the process works. I have been around here twice as long as you, and I know what I am talking about. I just wished that you and a few others would try to understand my opinion, and why I believe that they were wrong then, and you are wrong now, when you say that the GFX ARE ONLY A SECONDARY, AND SUBSTANTIALLY LESSER CONCERN, TO MAKE A QUALITY MAP.

All I am saying is that your attitude, (that is shared by others that created this system), is wrong. The piss-poor looking maps that you and others have unleashed upon the members, is evidence that I might be on to something, ...don't ya think ?

Now I am NOT trying to argue that GFX is more important than GP. only that they "naturally" evolve side by side, and yes there are even instances where the GP follows the GFX.

When I talk about the lower quality maps being produced, I am referring to the GFX specifically. My contention is that the poor artwork IS the squeaky wheel in this scenario. I believe that the creative process is being stifled by too much rigidness and order. If you were any kind of artist, you would understand just what I am talking about here.

There is also one more thing that I would like to say on the subject of the GP Workshop. Why is it that people carrying the rank of Cook or Corp. are always the ones that seem to fill the GP Workshop ?
You talk about how important the GP is, but let the people in charge of putting it together, have only a novice understanding of how to play the game. It seems to me that you would enlist people with a superior understanding of the game, to work on this aspect of it. Just as you would want the best artists creating what it looks like.
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby OliverFA on Sat Jul 02, 2011 1:38 pm

natty_dread wrote:Porkenbeans, it's not like graphics of the map are not being developed during the GP stage... or that GP workshop is only meant for gameplay development. That's not how it works currently, nor has ever worked I think.

You should more think of the gameplay stage as simply "the period when the gameplay is open" and GFX as "the period when the gameplay is closed". The GP and GFX stamps are like achievement badges: before the GP stamp, both GP and GFX are being developed, and once you get the GP stamp, it's an achievement that says "gameplay is fine now, no need to work on it anymore". After which you work on graphics only.

Which makes sense, since some things (like small map, xml, etc.) should not be started until you're sure the gameplay is relatively static.

But maps should be about the gameplay, and gameplay should be the first priority. After all, the prettiest map in the world is no use if it plays like total crap. The majority of CC players are much more willing to forgive sub-par graphics than they are to forgive sub-par gameplay (as long as the map is readable).


I agree. Of course, pretty graphics are important. But it's good gameplay what makes a map played again and again. As long as the gameplay can be understood of course...

And about the process being too directed... don't see that as a restriction. Say that as a guideline. Even the best artist has to start somewhere and follow some flow. Even the art has some method. The important thing is that the Foundry process serves as a guide, not as restriction.

Also, Foundry Staff has to evaluate the map somehow. So at the end things need to get formalized. Not too much formalized, but formalized to some degree. A few milestones need to be there, and a few key conditions that a "valid map" needs to have, also need to be there.
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby OliverFA on Sat Jul 02, 2011 1:54 pm

porkenbeans wrote:Like usual you do not understand what I am talking about, but still feel the need to contradict me.

You are wrong nat. I can not tell you how many times that I have commented on a GFX element in GP workshop, only to be told that it will have to wait until the map hits GFX Workshop. But then if I DO wait for a map to hit GFX before I comment on GFX, The mapmaker and the fans of the map that have been loyally following it, are very reluctant to consider every little change. They have been accustomed to the gfx on the map as it is.


Well that seems to be an issue with the current system. Porkenbeans, I think it would be good if you reported this to help the Foundry Staff fixing this and making the process better with time ;)

porkenbeans wrote:When I talk about the lower quality maps being produced, I am referring to the GFX specifically. My contention is that the poor artwork IS the squeaky wheel in this scenario. I believe that the creative process is being stifled by too much rigidness and order. If you were any kind of artist, you would understand just what I am talking about here.

I talk about both things, but I am more willing to forgive a regular GFX than a regular Gameplay. Plus it's much more easier to create V2 of the GFX keeping the same gameplay. As I said, having the Classic map again and again with different graphics is not my idea of a map library. But of course I suppose it depends on your personal background. I pay a lot more attention to gameplay than to graphics.

So the conclusion is both things need to have a minimum level.

porkenbeans wrote:There is also one more thing that I would like to say on the subject of the GP Workshop. Why is it that people carrying the rank of Cook or Corp. are always the ones that seem to fill the GP Workshop ?
You talk about how important the GP is, but let the people in charge of putting it together, have only a novice understanding of how to play the game. It seems to me that you would enlist people with a superior understanding of the game, to work on this aspect of it. Just as you would want the best artists creating what it looks like.

Well I think there is a clear reason for it. This game (as any game) needs some practice to master. And if you spend your time mapmaking (or commenting) you don't get that practice.
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby DiM on Sat Jul 02, 2011 2:27 pm

graphics are VERY important in all aspects of a map. from start to finish to number of games played. if i see a map with a paint-made draft i won't even bother giving it feedback and i'm not the only one that thinks like this. obviously without people giving it feedback there's a big chance that map will also have a bad gameplay. and porkenbeans is right many people cling to the idea that if a map is in gameplay only gameplay related feedback should be considered or that if a map already got a graphics badge nothing needs to be changed. this is wrong. any change should be done at any time (if it's reasonable and validly supported)

OliverFA is also right. gameplay should always come first but not at the expense of graphics. i don't care if your map is god's gift to the people, if it looks like crosswords i won't play it so at least an above average graphics level is needed.
why i say above average and not just average? well, simply because i think maps should continuously evolve both regarding the gameplay as well as graphics. standing still is bad and going backwards is even worse.
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby natty dread on Sat Jul 02, 2011 2:45 pm

porkenbeans wrote:You are wrong nat. I can not tell you how many times that I have commented on a GFX element in GP workshop, only to be told that it will have to wait until the map hits GFX Workshop. But then if I DO wait for a map to hit GFX before I comment on GFX, The mapmaker and the fans of the map that have been loyally following it, are very reluctant to consider every little change. They have been accustomed to the gfx on the map as it is.


No, porkenbeans, the reason why so few people take your graphical suggestions is that 90% of the time your suggestions are purely crap.

I don't see a lot of mapmakers who are unwilling to take graphical advice in the foundry. Mapmakers should take all reasonable advice, it doesn't mean they should do every idiotic thing some guy suggests.

porkenbeans wrote:The piss-poor looking maps that you and others have unleashed upon the members, is evidence that I might be on to something, ...don't ya think ?


The countless piss-poor looking maps you've tried to make that failed because you were too stubborn to take anyone's advice are evidence of your judgement not being too trustworthy in this case. You already think you know everything about graphics design, so you refuse to listen when someone tries to tell you when you do something wrong. Then you go on giving crappy advice to others, because you like to think yourself a natural artist.

You always think there's this huge conspiracy to keep your maps from being quenched, or that some foundry mod has something personal against you. Even when you lose a graphics contest, you start blaming other contestants for rigging the vote, because you just can't accept the fact that you aren't the artistic genius you think you are.

In order to become good at something, you first need to admit that you're bad, then you can start learning. And then, when you have learned, you can start advising others.

porkenbeans wrote: If you were any kind of artist, you would understand just what I am talking about here.


Oh, I'm not quite pretentious enough to call myself an "artist". My goal is to make maps that look good, are easily readable and fun to play. That's it.

And I understand exactly what you're talking about. It still doesn't mean that you're right about it.
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby TaCktiX on Sat Jul 02, 2011 3:27 pm

Based on the comments of cairns, natty, DiM, and Oliver, here's my thoughts, prefaced by a graphic:

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Generally speaking, these are the major foci I've seen. We've got commenters who focus purely on graphics or gameplay (not a bad thing), with a few who dabble in both. The problem is that there are many more graphical commenters than there are gameplay ones. So in most cases, maps will have the Typical bar: a minimal focus on gameplay except by the few dedicated to it, and a LOT of visual commenting. This is much different from the ideal 60/40 split that I am going to advocate.

A good gameplay that is easy to understand and simple to execute (within the bounds of what kind of map that the mapmaker is aiming for, 'course) makes graphics far easier to do. And a poorly-balanced map is never fun to play while a graphically-inferior map with great gameplay can be acceptable (consider all the older maps on CC that DO have great gameplay but are way behind later maps graphically speaking). So while being able to say "wow, that's just beautiful" is awesome, it shouldn't be what everyone aims to do.

Consider my present map R&C. It's a lovely reversal of the 90-10 in my humble and very biased opinion. The graphics were at the minor nitpick stage while page after page after page of gameplay feedback was written up with possibilities, considerations, and scenarios. Even after a Gameplay stamp, that commenting still went on. Is the map the most beautiful on CC? Hell no, but it fits a theme just fine and is pretty without being distractingly glamorous. A LOT is going on the map, so a dedication to glitz would've made it very difficult to comprehend (even further than its new gameplay type).

So to sum it up: gameplay is timeless comparative to graphics. We need to focus in more on what will likely stick around instead of always chasing the glamor crown.
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