Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby Victor Sullivan on Sat Jul 02, 2011 6:50 pm

Well, that was an enjoyable read :) I'll briefly state that I think TaCktiX's analysis seems near spot-on to me (of course, I'm kind of a gameplay geek myself, too), but! I think we're straying away from the original intent of the thread: the design brief system.

It seems to me, we've all reached the general consensus that Design Briefs should be reviewed by a team (instead of the Foreman, though possibly involving the Foreman in some way), then analyzed based on concept and what have you, then post why the design brief was rejected (i.e. "I'm not sure X works too well with Y and Z in this case.") or give the stamp, saying "Yup, you're good to go because you have a complete and fresh concept and design."

Is that a fair summary?

If so, I'd be interested in seeing MrBenn's thoughts on the matter.

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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby OliverFA on Sun Jul 03, 2011 5:48 am

My personal opinion is that becoming the foreman (or a Foundry Assitant as per the recent calling) is a compromise. That's why they are in charge of the autocratic decision. With compromise comes power. And with power comes compromise. Of course, regular Foundry member's voice has to be listened.

Also, rejecting the draft is not rejecting the map. Is rejecting that particular version. So if the draft is remade/ammended/improved it has another chance.

It's important to give the reason why it is rejected. That in my opinion will address the concerns about the autocratic foreman. Autocrats are not good at explaining their choices.

An alternative could be having a 5 members team to review the draft. 2 members of the team could be volunteers from the Map Surveyors group. This would give a lot of power to non-Foundry staff, because if the 3 Foundry staff members reject the map it would be very unlikely that the reason would be personal taste or personal hate to the map maker.
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby degaston on Sun Jul 03, 2011 8:19 am

Hey, here's a crazy idea... if people want maps with great game-play, then game-play should start as early in the process as possible. And when I say game-play, I mean actually playing the game, not just discussing the way someone thinks the game will play.

The way it works now is like creating a recipe without ever going into the kitchen. You decide on the ingredients, and presentation, and then once that's all nailed down you go make it and hope it tastes good. Not surprisingly, you get a lot of new maps that look and play just like existing maps because it takes too much work to get an innovative or risky idea through the process.

What is needed is a way for map makers to test maps themselves (a "solitaire" mode), and a way to create private unrated games using any jpg and XML That way, a map developer could come up with an idea, start with an XML and a very rough draft of the map, and try it out themselves to see what works and what doesn't before putting in a lot of effort making a pretty map that doesn't play well. Once they think it's playable, they can play with others and get instant feedback on both the game-play and graphics while the game is going on. They can then use this feedback to work on the next versions of the map and XML instead of just sitting around waiting for another comment in the foundry forum.

The new Map Foundry Forums could be:

1) Map Ideas - For people who come up with ideas that they want someone else to develop, or need a partner for some aspect.
2) Playground (combines Drafts, Gameplay and Graphics forums) - For any map with a jpg and a working XML. People can comment on any aspect of the map or game-play. Requests can be made for players willing to try it out in an unrated private game. (Maybe they could give out hazardous duty medals to those willing to try these out.)
3) Final Forge - Once all the issues have been dealt with in private games, put it up as a Beta for the general population to try.

I don't think that either of these playing features would be too difficult to implement from the existing code, and would even offer my programming services to make the changes.

Oh, this could also move the design brief to the end of the process. When a mapmaker feels that his map is essentially finished, he can submit a design brief or "Beta Application" to get the map moved to the Final Forge. This could save the moderators a lot of time by only having to review maps that are near completion.
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby DiM on Sun Jul 03, 2011 10:06 am

degaston wrote:What is needed is a way for map makers to test maps themselves (a "solitaire" mode), and a way to create private unrated games using any jpg and XML That way, a map developer could come up with an idea, start with an XML and a very rough draft of the map, and try it out themselves to see what works and what doesn't before putting in a lot of effort making a pretty map that doesn't play well. Once they think it's playable, they can play with others and get instant feedback on both the game-play and graphics while the game is going on. They can then use this feedback to work on the next versions of the map and XML instead of just sitting around waiting for another comment in the foundry forum.


as a map maker that never did a map with classic gameplay i often needed such a feature. a few years ago i used to print out my maps and play with friends but playing 1-2 games per week is nothing compared with what you could play if we had this implemented. unfortunately the fact that lack didn't implement this 3-4 years ago when it was asked makes me think it's not going to happen now either.

the possibility for a map maker to upload an image and a xml himself only for his map in progress and in a private area where such maps would be invisible would be mana from heaven. imagine playing a quick game, retweaking the xml, playing again, redoing some borders, playing again and so on.

keep dreaming.
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby OliverFA on Sun Jul 03, 2011 5:06 pm

A way to test maps before uploading them to the site would be great!!! :D

EDITED: Oh, and I forgot to say that I agree about Tacktix analysis!
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby thenobodies80 on Mon Jul 04, 2011 4:28 am

porkenbeans wrote: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.


Although I must admit that the gameplay workshop needs at least one more person to sort out things better, I can't consider valid the phrase quoted above. Could you please list these people in charge of putting together gameplay with only a novice understanding of the game? iancanton? MarshalNey? TaCktiX? Honestly I think that the people that's currently in charge in the gameplay workshop is exactly the opposite of what you're saying. (Obviously I'm referring to those who are officially in charge)

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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby koontz1973 on Mon Jul 04, 2011 6:42 am

DiM wrote:
degaston wrote:What is needed is a way for map makers to test maps themselves (a "solitaire" mode), and a way to create private unrated games using any jpg and XML That way, a map developer could come up with an idea, start with an XML and a very rough draft of the map, and try it out themselves to see what works and what doesn't before putting in a lot of effort making a pretty map that doesn't play well. Once they think it's playable, they can play with others and get instant feedback on both the game-play and graphics while the game is going on. They can then use this feedback to work on the next versions of the map and XML instead of just sitting around waiting for another comment in the foundry forum.


as a map maker that never did a map with classic gameplay i often needed such a feature. a few years ago i used to print out my maps and play with friends but playing 1-2 games per week is nothing compared with what you could play if we had this implemented. unfortunately the fact that lack didn't implement this 3-4 years ago when it was asked makes me think it's not going to happen now either.

the possibility for a map maker to upload an image and a xml himself only for his map in progress and in a private area where such maps would be invisible would be mana from heaven. imagine playing a quick game, retweaking the xml, playing again, redoing some borders, playing again and so on.

keep dreaming.

Is this not the final forge part of the foundry. I know it is at the end where things get tweaked but having it at the beginning would probably be very cumbersome. Just look at how many drafts come and go. You would end up with people just posting drafts just to play on them with friends, saying look what I did.

Having it at the beginning and playing a few dozen games is no substitute to the beta play. Look at all the tweaks natty has done for Antarctica since it went beta.
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby natty dread on Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:56 am

koontz1973 wrote:Is this not the final forge part of the foundry. I know it is at the end where things get tweaked but having it at the beginning would probably be very cumbersome. Just look at how many drafts come and go. You would end up with people just posting drafts just to play on them with friends, saying look what I did.


That's where the design brief system comes in.

Having it at the beginning and playing a few dozen games is no substitute to the beta play. Look at all the tweaks natty has done for Antarctica since it went beta.


It's not the same thing as what is being proposed.

With the current system, all the games on the beta maps are still public games, which makes certain things harder to change once the map is in play. For example, I could easily change things like bonus values, starting positions, neutrals etc. but making changes to the actual territories (adding or removing territories) is hard when there are already games in play of the map.

With a beta-testing system that would not be a part of the main site, it would be easier to test a map, you could do changes in it without messing up actual live games and pissing off lots of people. We could still also have a regular beta-period for maps, in case some flaws go uncatched.

I've never understood why lack is so reluctant to allow this. It wouldn't have to be a part of the main site, and only mapmakers and other beta-testers would need to have access to it. I know lack already has a test site that is not part of the main site, that works pretty much same as the main site, so it certainly is possible. Actually, someone could just do it without lack's help, there's nothing that prevents someone from putting up a site for mapmakers etc. where you can log in, upload your map image & xml and then playtest your map with people. Of course, it would be easiest for lack to do it, since he already has the code for it...
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby koontz1973 on Mon Jul 04, 2011 12:26 pm

natty_dread wrote:
I've never understood why lack is so reluctant to allow this. It wouldn't have to be a part of the main site, and only mapmakers and other beta-testers would need to have access to it. I know lack already has a test site that is not part of the main site, that works pretty much same as the main site, so it certainly is possible. Actually, someone could just do it without lack's help, there's nothing that prevents someone from putting up a site for mapmakers etc. where you can log in, upload your map image & xml and then playtest your map with people. Of course, it would be easiest for lack to do it, since he already has the code for it...


How many map makers and beta testers will be needed to get a good level of games going to test all of the scenarios? Even with this, you will still get problems at beta stage.

I admit it would be good to have during the game play part of the foundry so maps can be tested at that stage (and only at that stage). So if a mod says do this, it can be tested. Then all of the little tweaks can be sorted, move on to graphics for a polish. You could then remove the final forge from the foundry.
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby MrBenn on Mon Jul 04, 2011 5:30 pm

A play-testing area for mapmakers has been a long-time desire for foundry-goers, but one that does not look like ever becoming a reality. However, it should be noted that chipv's Map XML Wizard (http://www.conquerclub.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=466&t=105494) does offer a very basic simulation feature. Otherwise, this is a discussion for another topic :P

It's interesting to see the direction that discussion has taken... I know that the "committee" concept, while good in principle, doesn't work (or at least it hasn't worked when we have trialled it before). One reason that I have wanted to have 2 CAs covering each phase of development is to try and ensure that no area of map development is the sole responsibility of one person - in order to eliminate some of the perceived bias.

In the same way, I think the "draft team" should be the ones who present the case for/against the draft, but leave it to the Foreman to make the final decision about whether or not the map should proceed, based upon his knowledge of maps that have tired/failed and gone before. When I was first in the CA role, I had responsibility for the drafting room... It's hard going in there, because lots of people have mediocre ideas and many more of them have poor execution of their ideas. The real challenge is to encourage those (first-time mapmakers) who show the spark of creativity to work towards a project which is likely to be well-received. For the experienced mapmaker, the challenge is to push them on to producing something better than before. The thing that kept me motivated, was the knowledge/belief that the CC standard is, and should be a high one. If the Foreman unjustly queries the quality of something, or shows undue bias, then it should be for his team to show him that he is wrong. In either case, the weight of responsibility should be with the Foreman - in the same way that the final Quench resides with the Foreman. In my mind, I think that the Draft Stamp should almost reflect the final-veto, except that a veto in the early stages will be much easier to give/receive than one at the end of a lengthy or arduous mapmaking process.
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby MrBenn on Mon Jul 04, 2011 5:39 pm

The other way of thinking of it, is that the CAs/Foreman select which maps should be developed from the pool of ideas/drafts.... I think we must remember that mapmaking is not a right, rather it is a privilege and a responsibility.
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby Victor Sullivan on Tue Jul 05, 2011 2:38 am

I don't doubt your judgement as Foreman (for the most part :P ). My main issue is that this requires a lot of work on your end, and up until recently, you were largely absent from the public map threads. My main doubts stem from your not being able to be speedy with your verdicts - the Foundry can't afford to be slowed down much more. Excuse my frankness, but you have to understand where I'm coming from.

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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby OliverFA on Tue Jul 05, 2011 4:09 pm

Do we have numbers about the current speed of the Forge?

It would be very interesting to see how many maps have been presented in the draft state, how many have passed, how many have been rejected, and the average time for this.

Those numbers would tell us a lot about. They would tell us if there is a problem, where that problem is, and probably tell us how to solve it.

In fact, most of this discussion has revolved abour our perception of the Foundry. Having numbers would be good because that would confirm our perceptions or show they are wrong.
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby DiM on Tue Jul 05, 2011 4:43 pm

OliverFA wrote:Do we have numbers about the current speed of the Forge?

It would be very interesting to see how many maps have been presented in the draft state, how many have passed, how many have been rejected, and the average time for this.

Those numbers would tell us a lot about. They would tell us if there is a problem, where that problem is, and probably tell us how to solve it.

In fact, most of this discussion has revolved abour our perception of the Foundry. Having numbers would be good because that would confirm our perceptions or show they are wrong.


numbers are easy. just take a look at dates, #of replies, #of views, #of updates and you'll see that maps are being made at a much much slower pace now. fewer posts, fewer views, fewer updates and longer waiting times for maps.

how can a mapmaker keep his focus and dedication on a project if that project takes 1 year or more?

my steamworks map is barely 17 days old and i still feel this whole process is moving so damn slow. i can't even imagine what others might feel.

if i could start 20 maps at the same time i probably wouldn't be bothered by this because i'd constantly have a map on my hands to update or fiddle with. but i can't. i'm the kind of person that gets 100% into a project and does his best to finish it as fast and as good as possible before moving on to the next. plus i understand there's a 3 map limit per user...
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Re: Drafts / Design Briefs [Discussion]

Postby DiM on Tue Jul 05, 2011 6:12 pm

i further looked at some of the map threads around here and the current system is definitely not working as it should.
some maps start out with a very decent draft, with clear thoughts, perspective, support and they also come with a lot of guarantee from the map maker himself and yet they spend ridiculous amounts of time either in the melting pot or in the draft room.

let's look at cairnswk's spanish armada map. it took 8 days for that map to be moved from the melting pot to the drafting room and god knows how long it's going to stay there until it's moved to gameplay. why? the map clearly has a future. people are discussing the gameplay already and by the time it reaches the gameplay subforum they'll probably be nitpicking the graphics. and bare in mind the map already looks better than some of the currently quenched maps.

another weird one is the game of thrones map. it took 2 weeks to get out of the melting pot despite clear support, a very nice draft with already good graphics and lots of discussion about gameplay.

yeah, if somebody just comes with an idea and exchanges a few thoughts with no working image it should stay in the melting pot. but once a map has a draft support and a committed map maker the map should be pushed forward. i don't care if neither cairns or bison king never submitted their design briefs, sometimes map makers just need a nudge in the right direction. surprise them and reward them for their work so far with a movement in the gameplay sub-forum, afterall in both map threads gameplay is the main topic right now.

at the same time along with these 2 maps we have several ones that are up to 5 months old. it's pretty clear to me that those maps aren't going anywhere if they haven't managed to escape the draft room in 5 months. so vacation them or move them to the recycle bin.

and while threads are being recycled maybe the whole foundry could use a clean-up. most sub-forums have maps where nobody posted in a LOT of time. either move them forward if they're worth it, or recycle them if they don't.
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