Cartography Committee

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Postby Marvaddin on Tue May 23, 2006 6:41 pm

The committee will obviously not forbid an idea the players like, Hoff.
And, of course, Pedronicus will not be a member... :lol:
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Postby thegrimsleeper on Tue May 23, 2006 6:51 pm

Marvaddin wrote:The committee will obviously not forbid an idea the players like, Hoff.
And, of course, Pedronicus will not be a member... :lol:


hahaha that was a good one marv 8)
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Postby rocksolid on Tue May 23, 2006 7:03 pm

I think the fear here is that the committee may turn out hunky dory, but it may not, and that that's an unnecessary risk. Whenever you get a group of people in a committee, even the greatest people in the world, they have a nefarious tendency to feed off each other and develop an internal "prevailing wisdom" fed by self-supporting eye-rolling. If I eye-roll alone, someone can persuade me otherwise, but if I'm on a committee that eye-rolls in unison with me, it's going to be very difficult to persuade us to change our minds.

One way to deal with this would be to have the committee do all its deliberations or communications in public, and I think this would solve the problems, but my fear is the motivation behind creating a committee is antithetical to this kind of m.o. - the impetus for this idea seems to be the putting of a valve on what gets put up to be played, not to increase the number of maps that get put up, and to find a way to stop maps from going up other than objecting to them out in the open in the foundry, which is the way things work now. We all know Marv hates the Indochina map, so if he wants it changed, he can start a thread saying "Kill the Indochina Map", and get support or not get support. As it stands, he exercises his choice not to play it, and the world continues to turn nevertheless. If there's a committee, I imagine the new option would be back-door shenanigans where someone would send a pm to a committee member, the committee would discuss it in pms, and send a pm to the map author. I think doing this via threads in the foundry is a lot better, and also (to me) makes the committee redundant - we're all on the committee right now.

There was a poll a while ago in the foundry about whether people think there are too many maps or whether they want more, more, more. I think the poll was heavily conclusive that the vast majority want more maps than they can shake a stick at. But there were still a surprising (to me) number of people who think there are too many. Maybe I have the wrong idea, but I think the sort of people who would want to be on the map committee would self-select as people who want to limit map insertion rather than sponsor it - and therefore be unrepresentative of the desires of the community to foster a chaotic swath of maps erupting from the foundry that can thrive or fail on popularity.
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Postby Hoff on Tue May 23, 2006 8:08 pm

Maybe Andy can give us a better idea of what he had in mind. And who he was going to select to be on the committee.
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Postby haha on Tue May 23, 2006 9:13 pm

what je ne sais pas
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Postby Banana Stomper on Tue May 23, 2006 10:33 pm

I don't think there is much of a risk of people opposed to new maps being selected. I don't know about you, but andy usually seems pretty supportive of new maps....I doubt he'll select the pedronicus' out there. All he is proposing is a group of people who will look at the maps, just as Lack does. Make decisions on them. i think that you guys are being a little presumptuous in assuming that the committee would limit creativity. i don't see why you're jumping to conclusions that the committee would be full of one track minded bafoons.

This idea isn't putting a valve on the maps coming in, its not changeing anything other than the number of eyes considering the map. It'd be foolish to think that every map submitted thus far was instantly put on a one way track to being played. I've seen Andy's posts on maps. They are very good, very objective, and he's very open to ideas. He thinks everything through, i have faith in his system.
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Postby rocksolid on Tue May 23, 2006 11:04 pm

I don't think that the committee would be one-track-minded buffoons - my concern is that even the best people would make a bad committee. I cheer whenever Grim throws out his Burger King motto about you do your map your way, and I think he'd make an excellent committee member. And like I said, I have faith in Andy as a moderator, and have never said anything against his character or good will as a moderator, and think he'd make an excellent committee member, too. I just think the institutionality of a committee would de-democratize the foundry by its mere existence - imagine yourself as a new member of CC wandering into the foundry a week from now with a decision-making committee in place of people you don't know, and compare it to you wandering in to the foundry the way it is now, and realizing that nobody runs the show except you. In which environment are you more likely to dive in and make a map yourself?

In fairness, though, I guess we need to hear what the committee is supposed to do. If it's just to ensure that more sets of eyes look at maps in the making, I don't see how a committee is needed to accomplish that goal, or how the existence of a committee would enrich the contributions that Andy already makes. The vagueness as to the decisioniness and delegated authority of the committee - i.e. what exactly is meant by a "map approval process" - is making this discussion a little hysterical, mostly because of me. To what extent does the "overseeing" of debate involve the declaring of a victor?
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Postby Jota on Wed May 24, 2006 8:06 am

I think we can give Andy the benefit of the doubt, at least for the time being. He seems pretty on the ball, and I'm sure he's following along with what everyone's saying here, so he'll be aware of people's concerns. If it does turn out that the committe does more harm than good, I think he'll be objective enough to be able to see that and to do something about it, whether that means disbanding it, or re-organizing it, or whatever he ultimately decides on. But until then, I don't see anything wrong with at least trying it out.
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Postby rocksolid on Wed May 24, 2006 10:27 am

Can't argue with you there.
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Postby Mr. K on Wed May 24, 2006 12:26 pm

Excellent posts, rocksolid.

The committee will point the problems, suggest some things... something that could pass, like the fact Battledome is alike to Crossword, and people have little interest. My comment about little interest was the 9th in the topic, and the map was done to be sent... So, I think the purpose is produce a greater reflexion and be more aware to some great errors... The committee will not design the maps, definitely.

If the committee is just there to point out the problems, then why is there any need for the committee at all? When I made my map, I had all sorts of people pointing out little problems all over the place that I would have never even considered. There are pleanty of eyes within the community already taking very close looks at the new maps. Theres no reason for five guys to get together and talk about the maps.

As is, individuals come in and point out what they see wrong and what they may like to be fixed. The author reads them and makes a decision. If theres a committee, five official guys all come together, and make official decisions on what needs to be changed. Then the author feels very pressured to make a decision a certain way.

For example, when I made my map, everyone was bitching at me to bump up the countries to 42. I didn't want to, and in the end I didn't. But if there was an official revision committee that reported back to me, "We feel this map would be better off if you added 2 more countries," i'd feel obligated to do it that way.

But I really see no purpose for this. People have said that it will not limit creativity in any way. The only argument so far seems to be that the Middle East map and the Indochina map wouldn't be in the current state they are in. Personally, I enjoy both maps, especially Middle East. Indochina has a very different gameplay, and thats interesting. You argue that with a committee, the Middle East map would have been improved before being sent to lack. But what if the author is unwilling to make any changes? You say that he could definitely make it better. What if he can't (doesn't have the tools), or simply doesn't want to? Then theres nothing you can do but take it or leave it. I would personally definitely take it (which is ultimately lack's decision). A committee would leave it, because they would report back to the author telling him/her to change it, but the author would never reply back with changes. And then a map is lost.

If the author IS willing to change it, than that can be accomplished without a committee. Everyone will bitch at the person telling them how ugly it is and how it needs to be fixed pronto, and the willing person will go ahead and make the changes.

As rocksolid mentioned, I had little to no experience with the CC forums when I started making my map. I came in, saw hoff was doing it, read lacks thread, and it seemed like a very open experience. I just had to make it, review it with the community, and send it to lack. As a new guy, I don't know if I would have made my map had there been more (and inherently intimidating) steps to take.
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Postby AndyDufresne on Wed May 24, 2006 2:59 pm

Sorry for the delay in response, ending semester means finals are coming! Anyways though...

~~~~~~~~

First off, let me say I'm glad there is feedback. That's one thing I love about the Conquer Club Community. You won't sit on your behinds and let things swoop in, which is a terrific plus. Now to the main points of conversation...


---Long ago I suggested some sort of committee to Lack that would supervise maps, and make sure they are finished and up to set quality standards. Lack and I agreed that something of the sort would be in order, so I set out to devise a protocol–a committee. Now I can see that this perhaps was not the way to go, as first currently proposed. Let it be known that this site's Community is one of the best, and is something that should be respected. And I see that many of you feel a committee would be a blatant slap across the dignity of the community. I did not strive to make a committee to alienate the community; I simply was searching for some method that would eliminate unfinished, imbalanced and tired maps from being ‘finalized’ until they were reworked. I think everyone can agree that keeping unfinished maps from making it up to play is a must. But I see that a committee as first proposed, is not the way to go about such a thing. The Foundry's atmosphere is something to be cherished, and I've nearly tarnished it with the making of this committee. And also the last thing I want is to stomp out all new ideas. It should be known that I am a staunch supporter of new ideas, and I am always looking for more and more in maps! Unique game play should be a standard.

---The whole reason I chose a committee was that I figured accusations of narrow-mindedness would ensue if I was the only person reviewing maps in the end, the final stamp of approval. Again though perhaps a committee as proposed is not the way to go. But I do believe that some procedure or method should be established to weed out the weak maps. This may not seem like quite a problem at this moment in time, but months from now I fear with every new and fresh map, there will be two submissions of weak value to the site.

---Perhaps still sticking with a 'Committee' idea, but broadening the limits of it. After much discussion with Lack and Twill and many ideas out the window, we've come to an agreement on a 'Benchmark' system of grading maps. Each of the current maps that are up would be graded on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the best. This would be an official calculation poll feature for each map, created by the Foundry Foreman. After the polls reach so many votes we will have a good idea of our benchmarks. Newly created maps, after they go through the same rigorous Foundry advice as usual, will have a new topic to grade the said map. If said map did not reach up to standard benchmark quality, the Foundry Foreman and the community would ask for some revisions. Once reworked and finalized again, a new poll topic would be created to rate the newer version of the map. Once it has reached the set standard benchmark, it would be allowed to make it on the site for live play.

---And after I do some revisions to the 'How To Make A Map' page, I will add what things to consider before you choose the grade you do. Benchmarks for the 'Benchmarks'. Benchmarks for the Maps would be displayed also in a thread. I think this perhaps might be the solution we are all looking for, a common middle ground that will work toward the bettering of the Foundry.

~~~~~~~~

I’m here to work with the Foundry and its members to help the ongoing progression toward desirable and higher quality maps. Remember all feedback is warranted and appreciated, let your voices be heard. Thanks,


--Andy
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Postby rocksolid on Wed May 24, 2006 5:12 pm

Sounds like this could be a good compromise, Andy, though there could still be some problems to watch for in the first few weeks of its implementation: I hope there'd still be some discretion to make exceptions - eg maps that will only have appeal to small groups. Like those dudes making a Minnesota map - even if it's the most beautiful and perfectly-balanced map at the end of the day, it could get a lot of votes against it just because people think it's dumb to have a map of Minnesota. This seems unlikely to me because of how supportive people were of the Discworld and Tamriel maps, even though I assume most people (like me) still have no idea what they refer to, not having read any of those books; and I would hope people would abstain rather than seek to shut down a map just because they have no interest in the subject it depicts. Nevertheless, words making this clear in the benchmark criteria (which, however, risk not being read) could be helpful.

The other concern is still what vibe is being sent to newbies to the foundry. The shrinking violet in me-the-newb would be way less inclined to jump into putting the effort into a new map if my hours and hours of work are going to be evaluated by some standard other than by the number of people who choose to play it. Now your mechanism is well-structured and friendly in that the remedy is requesting the altering of the disapproved map rather than rejecting it, but I doubt that will alter the perception of the process to someone starting out. But maybe this problem could be addressed in the "How to Make a Map" sticky by a statement in principle that only in truly exceptional situations will a map not find its way to the site - I'm not sure. I think this would actually work for many people, just not for someone like me.

I may be mistaken, but I think what you're hoping to make happen is this: all maps in development address all substantial and reasonable suggestions before going up on the site - open issues should not be brushed off by mapmakers. Is this the goal? Maybe formulating an expression of the most pressing concern would help us shape a discussion of how the new process can best address it - perhaps without a voting system, and merely a procedural requirement that reasons be given for rejecting suggestions, and/or that once a map is near completion, it be posted in a new thread called eg "Last Call: Minnesota Map" and not be posted before a given amount of time has elapsed. You as foreman could effectively control the situation in as unobtrusive a way as allowing the map to pass from the initial thread to an official "Last Call" thread - your communication to an unready mapmaker would be as unauthoritarian as "Give it a few more days."
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Postby Mr. K on Wed May 24, 2006 5:16 pm

For the record, Andy, I never doubted your love for originality and creativity. I think you're a great choice to be the Map Foundry moderator, you were a lot of help with my map and it seems like you're a lot of help with the other maps as well.

I'm still a bit weary of this new idea you're talking about, but i'll wait till its more clear what exactly you mean before I start discussing it.
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Postby Banana Stomper on Wed May 24, 2006 5:37 pm

I think one of the first steps to do in making this thing work, is to change the name from committee to council or advisory or something. Something less like, "we are a governing body", and more like "we are here to help", because thats why its being put in place.

Aside from that, it would be very easy for the exact some, non opposing atmosphere to remain in the foundry. The committee won't be some group that sits there and has no interaction aside from maps being sent to them where they get a yes or a no, and thats that. Everyone in the committee i'm sure will be very involved in the foundry forum, they have to be. They will be there just as they are now making comments and suggestions all along to try and help the map maker come out with the best quality product possible.

Basically, this is how i see the committee. Please, correct me if i'm wrong. But it seems like Lack has a lot on his plate to keep this site up and running. The suggestions forum is full of suggestions every day and the list is relenting. Lack is backed up with all sorts of work, and he looked to a prominent member of conquer club that has very good comments on maps and has a lot of positive input to help him out, to take a little off of his plate. Andy, being that person, seems to have decided that the best method in which he will be able to take on these responsibilities will be to have a few good men at his side who will also be able to contribute input. Who will be able to represent different points of view, so as to avoid a single set of eyes from deciding on the map.

I'll bet that it would even be better for some maps that are lacking in one area or another. If it were only one person looking at the map, and a map with poor graphics was given to them, they may be immediately turned off. They may not be able to get past their innitial impression of the map and see all of the good qualities it has beneath the graphics. With a group of people, the gameplay will be able to shine through. One who supports the game play may be able to keep the map afloat in the eyes of the others.

As conquer club grows, something along these lines will have to be put into place eventually. Lets do it now and get it right before it gets too hard to make it right in the future.
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Postby Mr. K on Wed May 24, 2006 6:05 pm

This committee already existed, not only in the form of lack, but in the form of the community. If it ends up doing more than the communities suggestions and lack's final word, than its restricting the author's ability to make the map the way he wants. If it doesn't end up doing more than the community and lack already do, then its not doing anything.

What will the committee do that the community already doesn't? The community already picks apart every map for every little thing that they don't like. Everyone makes themselves heard. The author can check on that word and decide.

Lets not forget map-makers are doing free labor. A person considering making a map might decide not to put all the effort it takes into making a map if they know a council is going to review their work and report back to them with how THEY want it to be done.

Personally I think mapmakers are doing lack and every member of conquer club a favor by putting all this work into making a nice map for the site. A potential map-maker should assume there is no reward other than the satisfaction of doing that favor and getting to play their own map. That is obviously enough for all the people who have made maps thus far. However, if a committee is going to tell me that I need to do it differently or make changes, then it will feel less like i'm doing CC a favor, and more like i'm working for free.

I know what you're probably thinking at this point: the committee wont tell people what to do, they'll mearly make suggestions in order to improve the quality of the maps! Thats just my point, though. The community already does exactly that. For the committee to have any purpose at all, it would need to be making controlling decisions, which is a bad thing for all the reasons i've mentioned in this post and my last posts and rocksolids posts.
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Postby Banana Stomper on Wed May 24, 2006 6:45 pm

If the committee does exactly what lack does, they are doing something. They are taking a load of work off of lack's shoulders.

According to what andy has said. It seems like the idea of the committee would merely be the group to give the final thumbs up. They would not be the group saying, do this, or do that. They would be quality control. They wouldn't say "no", but "not yet" They would not say to the map makers, do this or do that. They would say, take it back to the forum, its lacking in this area, get some ideas from the forum.

Just because this work is sorta free, it doesn't mean that there is an obligation to have maps put into place. We can all agree that it is possible for a map to be submitted that is not playable, or up to par graphically. If you can acknowlege that happens, then there must be some sort of review. I know what you might be thinking, There already is a review, lack does it! But thats the point. Lack does enough already. Let him get one more burden off of his back.

This isn't a new step. There isn't a new barrier between a map in progress and map in play. All that is being proposed is a group to take over lack's role of giving the thumbs up.
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Postby Mr. K on Wed May 24, 2006 6:56 pm

But from what i've read, lack isn't giving up his final thumbs up. The idea is that the committee decides on weather or not the map gets sent to lack. So he's still doing the same thing, the only weight taken off his shoulder might be that maybe he doesn't have to check the XML or something. Still lack makes the final decision as always. So indeed, this is a new step.
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Postby thegrimsleeper on Wed May 24, 2006 7:33 pm

But this site is growing at such a rapid pace... There are more maps in various stages of production right now than there are available for play. That's not likely to change anytime soon. At some point you've got to start thinking about quality control. It's all good to say "Oh, the more maps the better," but honestly, at what point do you draw the line? Once there are 50 maps on the site? 100? More? For me (and I'd be willing to bet the vast majority of the players as well), it's about quality, not quantity.

To use the Middle East map as an example: As of now, it is 1 map out of 16. And given the choice between its current version or none at all, I would certainly take it rather than leave it. However. If there were 60 maps on the site, and the author was unwilling to take any further steps to improve the graphics, or allow another community member to do so, I just don't see it as a blow to the site if we have 60 other maps of a high quality.

As of today, a committee or ratings system may be unneccessary. But by August, I guarantee you that the quality controls on this site are going to have to become much more stringent, or we're going to have a flood of poorly-designed, slapdash maps on our hands, cluttering up the Start a Game screen. The sooner we get some sort of quality control system in place, the better off we'll be when there comes a time when we will need it... And we will. Count on it.
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Postby Banana Stomper on Wed May 24, 2006 7:33 pm

From what i've read in andy's posts, it appears as though the final thumbs up is being handed off. Andy said, "If said map did not reach up to standard benchmark quality, the Foundry Foreman and the community would ask for some revisions. Once reworked and finalized again, a new poll topic would be created to rate the newer version of the map. Once it has reached the set standard benchmark, it would be allowed to make it on the site for live play." "The Committee will oversee a more final debate before a map is up to play." Note: before a map is up to play, not sent to lack. Nothing andy, the founder of the idea, has said indicates that this is an additional step between the forum and lack.

Andy says nothing of it then going to lack for approval. He speaks as though this is the review for the map. I mean, the map will still probably go to Lack, strickly because lack has to put it up on the site...

I think the best set up is to do the committee. have a few well respected individuals who will either approve the map for going up, or redirect the map back to the forums for more input.

Ratings systems...i tend to not like. I have trouble doing them. I never feel like my responses are true. Its easier to say what you think rather than to apply a number to it.
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Postby AndyDufresne on Wed May 24, 2006 10:19 pm

Perhaps to simply throw this idea out there...


---If we keep with a traditional 'committee' of sorts, it would not 'rule' over anything. This committee would have no authoritative power over which map gets put on the site. It would merely be an advisory committee of valued members who share their insight into the map making process. Obviously this would be done in the open Foundry forum as usual, but map makers would take special heed of their suggestions, as they were chosen for being certain 'experts' in the map making process.

---I didn't propose this idea earlier, because while playing Devil's Advocate I assumed many of you would see this as strictly more red tape. Final map approval would fall into the Foundry Foreman's hands. I would take notice of the suggestions made by the Foundry posters, but especially of those on the advisory committee. When the Foundry and the advisory committee has come to an agreement that a map is finished, the advisory committee would also take on the role of proofing the map for xml errors. Once there is a 'Foundry Brand' on it, I would consider it done and ready for live play. Final submission to Lack would ensue, barring and extravagant errors or flaws.

I mostly feel like I'm going circles, but I want to make it known that as I said before, I'm here to work with the Foundry. I want it to be the best place it can be, and I will strive my best to make it that. That said though, I also must ensure that the site has quality and unique maps. As long as we all work together, I believe things will work out.

**Peels a banana and sits on a small rock, massaging his monkey noggin.** ;)


--Andy
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Postby Banana Stomper on Wed May 24, 2006 10:56 pm

Haha, all of this going in circles is making me dizzy. I'm not even sure if i know what i'm defending anymore, so i'm just going to put out there what i think should be established and why.

Conquer club is growing rapidly. There will come a time when we are going to have too many maps in our future. If a committee or council or whatever isn't established now, one day we'll try to do this again and it will be almost too late, and the committee will have to over all of the maps and will a lot of work on their hands to catch up. Right now, when the site is young, its time to start implementing the features that we are all going to come to rely on in the future. We need to make our mistakes now when it doesn't take as much to fix them, when the community is small enough to get a good feel what everyone thinks about the goings on. This is when things are tweaked and perfected, not later.

I don't think that the council should be too much. They shouldn't have the power to say no, only not yet. The committee should merely give its stamp of approval for the map, and send it on to lack(with veto power, its still his site) for it to be put onto the site. If the map isn't ready, it should just be given back into the hands of the forums, where everyone in conquer club has the ability to go in and voice their opinions.

Perhaps part of the committee's process could be to have the ability to play maps without them being on the site. I think this would be a very powerful tool in ensureing the best maps are put on the site. It would also give new, innovative ideas a grounds to be tested on before a huge committment is taken up by the map maker.

I really like the idea of the committee, andy. It is something that conquer club will definitely need one day, so i think it should be created now.

**swoops in from above and stomps andy's banana. Pauses and laughs heartily. Gives andy a new, better banana and leaps into the sky**
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Postby lackattack on Wed May 24, 2006 11:41 pm

Here's my point of view:

I don't want to have to approve anything. I just want to know when to take the files, do a little optimization and upload them.

When a map is in development, at any point one could ask whether the map should go live now or after more polishing. So far it's been up to the author because I didn't question anything, just did some basic tests and installed the map. Should the timing be up to the author? Up to the Foreman? the community? Ideally some combination of all three, I think! What is the mechanism? Committee is justifyably unpopular, polls for rating maps is one possibility... maybe the foreman should just discuss readyness in the thread, guage the opinions of the critics and the author and decide?

As for keeping out weak maps, I think the all maps we have are better live than dead. Sure some are better than others, and I could sort them by usage to put the "weaker" ones on the bottom. But generally I'm not interested in deciding which maps are worthy, just when they are ready.
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Postby Mr. K on Wed May 24, 2006 11:42 pm

Step 6). Submission—Send your final work to the 'Catorgraphy Committee'. Send the XML to the Committee for the final evaluation of errors. After the final go ahead is given, the Committee will send your map’s XML file to Lack at info@conqeruclub.com. With the final stamp of approval now on the map, it will be up and ready for play when Lack has both the time and energy.

:oops:

It appears I misread this. My bad.

**Uh... shoots hockey puck at my penguin goalie**
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Postby rocksolid on Thu May 25, 2006 9:32 am

Banana Stomper wrote:I think one of the first steps to do in making this thing work, is to change the name from committee to council or advisory or something. Something less like, "we are a governing body", and more like "we are here to help", because thats why its being put in place.


I think this is huge. I was thinking if instead of having a cartography "committee", the people performing whatever function it is could have the title "Foundry slave" or "Foundry elf" (or I guess "Foundry dwarf" would be more appropriate). I doubt it would hurt the pride of those bearing it, and could go a long way towards communicating their role to newbies.
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Postby vtmarik on Thu May 25, 2006 9:35 am

rocksolid wrote:I think this is huge. I was thinking if instead of having a cartography "committee", the people performing whatever function it is could have the title "Foundry slave" or "Foundry elf" (or I guess "Foundry dwarf" would be more appropriate). I doubt it would hurt the pride of those bearing it, and could go a long way towards communicating their role to newbies.


Is that your somewhat roundabout way of saying that Orcs can't work in a foundry? You racist!
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