Decline in map standards.

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Decline in map standards.

Postby koontz1973 on Mon Feb 13, 2012 4:56 am

Decline in map standards is going to be an article in the foundry dispatch section in a couple of weeks. Wanted to grab some points of view before I write it.

But before I do, I want to make it clear to everyone, that I am asking this from a very neutral perspective and do or do not believe in what is going to be written.

If you have an opinion either way, express it, but I warn you, I may quote you. ;)

Here is the opening question for the article so you can all see how I intend to approach it.
It has been said, and many agree with it, that the standards within the map making community for conquer club has declined over the past year or two. If, and this is a big if, is this true, and who is to blame for it and what can be done about it.


This is not meant to be a witch hunt, or an attack on any person(s). Please do not make it so.

Debate, argue, whatever, it is in your hands now to express yourselves as only the map makers can. :lol:
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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby DiM on Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:24 am

well it can't really turn out to be a witch hunt or an attack on anybody because there's not 1 person to blame or even a small group. in my opinion everybody is to be blamed for the obvious decline.

in no specific order here are the guilty parties:
1. the map makers. some are lazy, some are poor, some are gone. people come and go that's a natural process. the foundry lost some great map makers and unfortunately hasn't quite managed to recover. yes, new people came but they either weren't capable of extraordinary stuff or they were ill educated and despite having potential they didn't fulfil it. some map makers have either reached their graphic plateau or they're simply not willing to improve since nobody is pushing them and that's were party 2 is to blame
2. the CAs. there was a point were the CAs were pushing everybody to do better and better, sometimes to the point were the atmosphere became tensed, but in the end it all was for the better of the foundry and maps were constantly rising in quality. then it came a time were for some reason nobody kept pushing and the map makers became slackers. people that were decent stayed decent cause they had no incentive to improve. and even worse, people that were great started to become just decent because if the others were cut a slack with their average maps then they wanted a piece of that slack, too.
3. the community. there was a time when the community wasn't afraid to talk, when the foundry was actually a community in the true sense. people were talking to each other and in most cases they were trying to be as honest as possible. right now many map makers stick to their own maps and that's it. they come in do an update and don't even bother looking at other maps or if they do they don't comment. more and more people have adopted the "if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say it" policy. and frankly that's the most idiotic thing ever both in the foundry as well as in real life. sometimes things aren't milk and honey and the ugly truth needs to be told. if nobody steps in to say it, then it comes a point when that crappy map everybody stayed away from gets quenched. and this happened a lot of times so far.

years a go when a map was made it had 1-2 names on it but in fact 90% of the map makers in the foundry had somehow contributed.
right now when a map is made it has 1-2 names and maybe the contribution of 20% of the foundry. at this moment each map has it's set of fans which in most cases aren't even foundry regulars or other map makers.

when this place will become a tight community again, when CAs will rule the foundry with an iron fist (velvet glove optional) and when map makers will try to do their best and constantly strive for something new, then we'll have a proper foundry.


PS: i've tried my best not to include names even though i'd love to slap around some people. but then they'd get defensive and this whole thread will be nothing but constructive.
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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby AndyDufresne on Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:02 pm

Here is a humble comparison of maps that I enjoy from 2011, compared to say 2009. 'Standards' is a difficult and ambiguous term. Graphically? Gameplay? Both? Greater input from the public / vs a map maker's vision?

I could go through the maps of 2011 vs the maps of say 2009 (to pick a random year), and compare, but the terming as you have described it is haphazard to a degree.


--Andy
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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby DiM on Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:21 pm

AndyDufresne wrote:Here is a humble comparison of maps that I enjoy from 2011, compared to say 2009. 'Standards' is a difficult and ambiguous term. Graphically? Gameplay? Both? Greater input from the public / vs a map maker's vision?

I could go through the maps of 2011 vs the maps of say 2009 (to pick a random year), and compare, but the terming as you have described it is haphazard to a degree.


--Andy



where?
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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby natty dread on Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:27 pm

I would say that I partially agree with DiM, althought not totally. Currently, I think the standards of the foundry are on the rise, compared to what they were a year ago or so. However, this doesn't mean that we shouldn't work to bring the standards further up.

I think a big reason for the decline was that so many of the old, skilled mapmakers left the foundry, and it's taken a while for the next generation to catch up. I think we are catching up though, there are currently several skilled mapmakers in the foundry who are creating very nice looking maps. However, we need to ensure that we pass the knowledge on to new mapmakers, and make sure that they grow to their full potential.

Another reason is lack of feedback. Especially gameplay. We need more people commenting on maps, giving honest feedback and suggestions, analyzing gameplay. We also need to get mapmakers to comment on other mapmaker's work. I myself try to give feedback on as many map projects as possible, but I also admit I could do more...

Then, the lack of dedicated CA:s. Don't get me wrong, we have some good CA:s, but we need more of them. We need more CA:s who are truly dedicated to the foundry, and check the map threads at least once a day. I myself read every new post posted in the foundry, and CA:s should be expected to do the same - at least, it should be a reasonable expectation that every new post in the foundry is read by at least some of the CA:s.
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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby DiM on Mon Feb 13, 2012 7:04 pm

natty dread wrote:Then, the lack of dedicated CA:s. Don't get me wrong, we have some good CA:s, but we need more of them.


we need at least 2 graphic CAs and 3 gameplay CAs.
and not the kind that log in once per week and post twice per month.
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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby cairnswk on Mon Feb 13, 2012 7:13 pm

DiM wrote:
natty dread wrote:Then, the lack of dedicated CA:s. Don't get me wrong, we have some good CA:s, but we need more of them.


we need at least 2 graphic CAs and 3 gameplay CAs.
and not the kind that log in once per week and post twice per month.


I had offered to be a graphics CA, but it was declined....and i am online everyday :)
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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby natty dread on Mon Feb 13, 2012 7:15 pm

cairnswk wrote:I had offered to be a graphics CA, but it was declined....and i am online everyday :)


I think you'd be better as a gameplay CA.
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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby cairnswk on Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:34 pm

natty dread wrote:
cairnswk wrote:I had offered to be a graphics CA, but it was declined....and i am online everyday :)


I think you'd be better as a gameplay CA.

:o Ooh, natty, i have to disagree there.
Graphics is my much preferred option. :)
On the other-hand, i think you with a proactive stance would also be a great graphics CA. you do have a great understanding of it all from what i see around the place.
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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby The Bison King on Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:56 pm

I really don't think that there is a decline in map standards. On the whole I think that trend has been towards improvement. Just looks at some of the early maps, they would never pass through the foundry today.
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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby ViperOverLord on Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:05 am

^^^
Agreed. Map standards are improved. Some people might wonder what's going on when they see maps made based on cows, quilts and baseball fields. But, I think the layouts, graphics and themes have trended in a good direction.
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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby DiM on Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:10 am

The Bison King wrote:I really don't think that there is a decline in map standards. On the whole I think that trend has been towards improvement. Just looks at some of the early maps, they would never pass through the foundry today.


yeah some of the early maps are crap. some were even made when there was no foundry in place. or it was a very rudimentary foundry.
but compare a map like keyogi's middle east which was done in may 2007 with an atrocity like monsters done 3 years later. compare iceland done in 2008 with atlantis 2010.

sure there were ugly maps in 2007 and 2008 but you'd kinda expect that from a newly born foundry. but 4-5 years later i honestly expect to see absolutely no ugly maps. and yet they seem to be even more.

northwest passage, thailand, transsib, lunar war, hive, rail africa, austerlitz, gilgamesh are just a few maps the last 2 and a half years that in my opinion look really bad and should have never been quenched. and no, i'm not judging by current standards, i'm merely comparing to other maps made in the same period. some of those maps would probably fail the the foundry standards of 2007. ;)

and the problem is that many people have been let to slip through the cracks with the excuse that others have done it before.
the maps i enumerated above are just some really awful ones but there are plenty more that barely barely barely can be called decent.
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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby natty dread on Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:18 pm

Like I said, part of the reason is that so many experienced mapmakers left the site at the time, and left the newer ones to learn things on their own. And yeah, I'm not satisfied with all of my early maps, maybe I'll revamp some of them again if I have some extra time... ("in my excuse" though, lunar war was made with paint.net and transsib was the first map I made with gimp... in retrospect I wish I had worked on them longer but meh, can't help it now)

But I think now we have an opportunity to raise the standards again. Just because there are some bad maps made earlier, we shouldn't let those maps be used as an excuse to do sloppy work. We should instead learn of those instances, how NOT to let things slip, and how to enforce standards better.

We need some stern CA:s, who are not afraid to tell to the mapmakers - be they old or new - when something is not up to standards. And we need mapmakers and other CA:s to defend those CA:s in those cases, because enforcing those standards helps us all. If some mapmaker is not happy with the rules and standards of the foundry, we should all collectively tell him that he needs to play by the rules or leave.
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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby ViperOverLord on Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:51 pm

DiM wrote:northwest passage, thailand, transsib, lunar war, hive, rail africa, austerlitz, gilgamesh (atlantis, monsters mentioned earlier) are just a few maps the last 2 and a half years that in my opinion look really bad and should have never been quenched. and no, i'm not judging by current standards, i'm merely comparing to other maps made in the same period. some of those maps would probably fail the the foundry standards of 2007. ;)


Obviously, I don't come at it from a bonafide map maker (or even artist's) p.o.v. But I'm relatively pleased with the maps you mention. What exactly do you find wrong with those maps?

I'm happy with the layouts and themes and bonus structures of those maps. I'm guessing you find something aesthetically bad with those maps?
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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby cairnswk on Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:28 pm

koontz1973 wrote:...
This is not meant to be a witch hunt, or an attack on any person(s). Please do not make it so.
....

Sorry koontz1973, you already have and it is has been for sometime.
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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby DiM on Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:07 pm

ViperOverLord wrote:
DiM wrote:northwest passage, thailand, transsib, lunar war, hive, rail africa, austerlitz, gilgamesh (atlantis, monsters mentioned earlier) are just a few maps the last 2 and a half years that in my opinion look really bad and should have never been quenched. and no, i'm not judging by current standards, i'm merely comparing to other maps made in the same period. some of those maps would probably fail the the foundry standards of 2007. ;)


Obviously, I don't come at it from a bonafide map maker (or even artist's) p.o.v. But I'm relatively pleased with the maps you mention. What exactly do you find wrong with those maps?

I'm happy with the layouts and themes and bonus structures of those maps. I'm guessing you find something aesthetically bad with those maps?



generally my comments are related to graphics. i can't judge the gameplay of a map without playing it and if the graphics suck i will most likely avoid it.
there are also maps that look good but are a mess to play (for example 13 colonies).

anyway, yes aesthetically those maps are subpar. monsters looks like somebody discovered clipart and bevel and abused it like hell. graphically speaking is atrocious. maybe it plays well, i don't know and hopefully i never will.
hive is absolutely disgusting in all aspects, ranging from the chromatic choices to the execution. i'm actually very very surprised widowmakers made it.
lunar war has some really badly executed elements. like the blurry moon or the bad little windows of the legend. also you have blue space void in the legend and then it's all black on the map.
rail africa actually looks poorer than rail usa which was made years before.
northwest passage looks very blurry and undefined. like all the territs are mooshed together into each other. and all that glow on the terit names...
transsib looks blurry and i don't know, poorly executed which is actually weird because natty had already made orient express several months before and that looks a lot better and is one of the nicest ones of that period.

and again, i'm not comparing those maps to the current standards or some imaginary standards i have in my head. i'm comparing them with maps from the same period, maps like the first nation series, dawn of ages, macedonia, flanders, napoleonic europe, cyprus or middle ages. these look much better and more importantly the technique and execution is better.
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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby natty dread on Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:13 pm

DiM wrote:transsib looks blurry and i don't know, poorly executed which is actually weird because natty had already made orient express several months before and that looks a lot better and is one of the nicest ones of that period.


I had just changed softwares between those maps. Orient express was the last map I made with Paint.net, Transsib was the first I made with GIMP. In retrospect, I probably should have spent more time on transsib, but what's done is done.
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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby The Bison King on Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:30 pm

I really don't feel like you nee to make excuses for Transsib. I think that map looks fine. In fact I'm playing it right now.



... lunar war though, ehh...
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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby The Bison King on Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:34 pm

... ok looking at it now I do see a bit of the blurriness that was mentioned, but It's not a deal breaker by any means.
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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby DiM on Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:52 pm

The Bison King wrote:... ok looking at it now I do see a bit of the blurriness that was mentioned, but It's not a deal breaker by any means.


deal breaker is a very subjective term. whether one person would play it or not is up to his own taste and standards.

i'm not saying the map is unplayable, i'm merely saying that some maps for various reasons (blurriness, pixelation, inconsistency etc) are of a lower graphic quality than other maps from that same time frame.
i'm not even talking about theme or style cause those are also subjective things.
just technical aspects that can be measured and quantified.

for example the hive map is pixelated and the transsib map is blurry. first nation americas is neither. same for dawn of ages or the other better maps i mentioned.
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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby thenobodies80 on Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:01 pm

I don't think that the topic of this discussion was where you're pushing the current discussion guys! What koontz asked was to talk about the possible objective causes, if there are, of the declining of the foundry standards, not to compare maps.

i've lost the count of time in which I've said that compare maps is the most stupid and useless thing in the world. I can stay here and spent the next 30 mins to explain once again the reasons, but I want to give a reply to the original topic so I just give you two pics to look at. One is a 1955 car, the other a 2010 one. Then think and ask to yourself which one is the best car...if you can give an answer, then think if your answer it's just matter of personal taste or an objective one. If you can say it's an objective answer, then you are a liar! :mrgreen:

1955 car
2010 car

Now look at the two pics and keep the answer for yourself, instead please give me a chance to bring this thread on-topic and use the next minutes to write an answer for the original koontz "question":

It has been said, and many agree with it, that the standards within the map making community for conquer club has declined over the past year or two. If, and this is a big if, is this true, and who is to blame for it and what can be done about it.


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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby DiM on Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:27 pm

actually not comparing maps would be the stupidest thing in the world ;)

in fact the very rules of mapmaking stipulate that maps must be unique in style, location, theme, whatever. how can you establish the uniqueness if not by comparison?

yes you can't say a map's theme is better than another's and claim that to be the absolute truth. there's bound to be some other guy who thinks differently and he wouldn't be wrong either cause it's a matter of personal taste.

but you can clearly say that this map is pixelated, that map is blurry, or that one map has wrong shadow directions that don't correspond to the lighting, or that some borders aren't smoothly drawn. there are tons of technical non-subjective aspects that can be quantified and used for comparison.
if in 2007 a map with pixelated borders was accepted i don't expect that to happen several years later when the standards are supposed to be higher.
style and theme may or may not change, but one thing that must always evolve is the technical aspect. if 5 years later your borders are still pixelated then the theme or the style don't even matter because you haven't evolved.
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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby thenobodies80 on Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:11 pm

ok. Now, i think that give to your question a perfect answer is almost impossible. But certainly if there's something I don't want to do is to blame someone for the current situation.
Things happens for various reasons and i think that try to find a person or a group of person just to point your finger at him/them doesn't solve the problems, if there are problems. Certainly I don't pretend to not know what are the objective causes of the current problems but i think that everyone in the foundry, in the past or in the present, is partially responsible of what has happened. The foundry isn't just a forum, it has no tangible parts or elements, it is just what we want it to be. This is a great thing, because if something is wrong we have just to talk and decide what's wrong and change it again. The important thing is to discuss things and remember to try to speak with the others on the same level, there's no mapmaker that can have a community knowledge to decide what is 100% right or wrong for the foundry. certainly experience can help you to stay on the right road, but sometimes a new guys, with no maps produced can propose a great idea to solve numerous problems.
All those words just to list the first issue I see in the foundry, the lack of communication. It could seem something not related with the current standards quality, but this is not true. If mapmaker "welcome" every CC users treating him and his thoughts like the last person they have to take into account, the community interest for the foundry can only die. And if the communiyt interest for the foundry will die, the mapmakers community will become a closed group in which everyone has the same opinions and the same ways to do things....and we knpw that this certainly doesn't help to grow.

to grow, grow is certainly the second weak point and cause. we know that the old foundry group has left the foundry (probably becuase they were tired to listen to people who don't know about maps) some time ago. Some people can easily says that the standards started to decline exactly in that period. Let me say that it is partially true. The reason is that the old crew didn't explained to the new guys how to do things. I think that the current mapmakers are learning and soon the quality of maps will reach a level we never had in past. But mapmaking is not just "how good you're at draw things"...there's much more in it that use a graphics software or calculate some bonuses. When I say that the old guys didn't explained to the new ones, I'm not saying that they didn't suggest how to draw smmother borders or things like that. Just they didn't give to the new group of people the opportunity to understand how the foundry was supposed to work. When I posted for the first time in the foundry, i discovered in few time that the only rule that there was here was the darwin one: just the stronger survive! at that time that was the only way to have a map quenched. And I'm not saying you had to be so much stubborn to continue with your map project, but instead that you had to stringly believe that your map was worth to be made.
Nowdays I see many users that try to produce a map just because it could be fun or just for the medals or just because a map has never be done. Unfortunately not everything can be done in this way. Do maps requires passion, sacrifice and i think that mapmakers should try to think again that their maps should be produce to be "sold" to the CC business. In the old times if the "business" (CC) wasn't interested, you had to find a way to make your map interesting or your map would have no chance to have a future. Let me say that through the years this thing has been lost.

This bring us to the next weak point: the lack of updates. The foundry is a creative place and the worst thing you can do with creative people is to not give them new toys to play with. If the mapmakers have almost the same features to use for 3/4 years the creativity, the introduction of new ideas can only be a sweet dream. Nowdays we live in a foundry in which see the foundry foreman or a CA announcing a costant flow of updates is just an utopia. What I can say is that probably this year will be much better and probably thing swill be better in the future, but in the same time it's a cartain thing that the lack of updates has contributed to bring the foundry and their standards to the current ones. When we have always the same things we can try to map every place on Earth, explore any ideas, but in the end all the maps will look the same, specially when the foundry has produced more than 200 maps. I'm strongly confident that if we would have more updates the things would be different and we shouldn't be here now to write about this topic and we wouldn't have to read in the forums post by people complaining about the "flat" maps of the last (at least) 2 years.

The lack of updates bring us to the next point, the CAs. I think that the CAs lived a period of disillusion and they "passed" this sentiment to the mapmakers. this has caused a general feeling of stagnation in the foundry,like we draw maps just because this is what we do. One thing I really like to do is to try to have more active CAs, that push mapmakers to develope the best possible maps, not let the mapmakers have to think about standards, it's not their role to think about standards. It's up to CAs to ensure that maps reach the CC standards. I think that recently i read too much the foundry goers use the phrase "your map doesn't reach the foundry standards", when instead i would like to read different things.....share ideas, thoughts, opinions....
This is my 1st priority and I'm working to solve it, mapmakers and foundry goers has not to do the CAs job and if they do the CAs job probably it's because they should apply for a CA position ( :mrgreen: ) or maybe the CAs are not doing their work in the right way. And if the CAs are not doing their work in the proper way it's impossible to ensure that the standards are met, even if you have raffaello, michelangelo, leonardo (and all other ninja turtles ;) ) around in the foundry to draw maps. With the new year I asked to myself and to all my CAs to do their job smiling and in the proper way....if not... we're not paid and we can leave when we want.

On the counter part, the people....I know that all mapmakers have a great ego, but another issue I see that cause a different percepition of the standards is the fact that many mapmakers think that they are arrived, that there's nothing that they can learn from the others. They find hard to listen and accept suggestion from the others. This is a wrong thing, here no one is a professor, no one is god, no one knows everything about mapmaking. I don't care if someone has produced zero, one, ten, thirty maps....there's always space to learn soemthing. Like I said earlier we, all, should try to talk and listen each other thinking to be all on the same level, because if you can explain something to a new mapmaker, the new mapmaker, maybe can explain something to you. With discussion the foundry works and the standards stay high. With the silence or with the fear to say something just because "you're too new" the standards can only decline and the foundry die.

I clicked the preview button right now and I realized I typed a lot and that it's 1:00 am. Since all my clones are off becuase they need some repairs and that my brain usually play tricks on my during the late hours, it's better if I click the submit button and postpone the rest of this probalby long topic for tomorrow.

Good night and Good Valentine Day to everyone
Nobodies


edit: DiM, I understand what you're trying to say, but it's not the original topic. ;)
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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby natty dread on Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:37 pm

thenobodies80 wrote:On the counter part, the people....I know that all mapmakers have a great ego, but another issue I see that cause a different percepition of the standards is the fact that many mapmakers think that they are arrived, that there's nothing that they can learn from the others. They find hard to listen and accept suggestion from the others. This is a wrong thing, here no one is a professor, no one is god, no one knows everything about mapmaking. I don't care if someone has produced zero, one, ten, thirty maps....there's always space to learn soemthing. Like I said earlier we, all, should try to talk and listen each other thinking to be all on the same level, because if you can explain something to a new mapmaker, the new mapmaker, maybe can explain something to you.


I think this is a really good point to make and we should all take this to heart.

I know that personally, I always strive to learn new things, and I hope that I never stop learning new things... I don't think anyone can ever become so good at something that he can no longer learn anything new about it.

And yet, even given that I'm willing to learn things... when someone gives a suggestion that I disagree with, I often catch myself thinking "that guy is just a noob" or "that guy doesn't know what he's talking about" or stuff like that... I try to avoid thinking like that, and I try not to let it affect my decisions... but I think it's impossible to prevent it alltogether.

It's like a fundamental part of human nature: when you get good at something, gain experience, it's easy to get "overconfident" with that knowledge... of course it's not always a bad thing, after all it's also good and necessary to have pride in your work. So, I think the best anyone can do is to try to recognize when one starts to get thoughts that are not constructive, and try to not let them control one's actions.
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Re: Decline in map standards.

Postby RjBeals on Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:35 pm

ViperOverLord wrote:... Some people might wonder what's going on when they see maps made based on cows...


i liked the original cow beef map.

And if anybody is allowed to start a map, and is persistent enough to follow it for a year or two, then their hard work is paid off with a quench. That's what the foundry is. Always has been. Most people don't have the patience.
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