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Map thread - anything goes as long as it is maps ;)

Postby koontz1973 on Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:42 am

To keep this out of the declining standards thread, lets move it to here.

Discuss the pros and cons of a test site.
What would it achieve?
Who would get into the test site?
How many games should be played before the game play stamp is given?


Degaston started this line so will quote the posts so far starting with his.

degaston wrote:
koontz1973 wrote:
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.


Sorry I missed this discussion when it was more relevant. I see you mentioned my map, Murder One (Clue), in your article and said that development stopped when the know how to carry on or community support fell away after time.

As I recall, the main reason I stopped working on it was because I felt that there was something important missing from the foundry. Namely, the ability to try out a map under development. This may not be necessary for a classic-style map with straightforward play, but for a relatively complicated map like mine that was going to use several of the special features, deciding on the "best" combination of territories, connections, neutrals, bonuses, objectives, etc. is not something that I think can be adequately resolved through a forum discussion.

There were a variety of conflicting suggestions made, and I would have like to have tried several of them to see what worked and what didn't. Unfortunately, the foundry requires that you choose one particular path, get the game-play for that path approved, tweak the graphics until everyone is happy, create the xml, and then finally you get a chance to actually play it. If the game-play turns out to be just so-so... oh well. You can tweak a few things here and there, but who in their right mind is going to go back and make major structural changes to the design of the game after doing all that graphics work? I suppose a few people may, but I don't have the patience for that kind of wasted effort. As a programmer, I know a poor development process when I see it.

Is it any wonder that the quality of maps has declined? Trying something unique carries too big a risk if the experiment fails. So map makers mostly have to stick with something that they know will work, and that everyone can understand without playing. The solution is obvious, fairly simple, and I've mentioned it before. Create a "sandbox" where anyone can plug in their jpg and xml map files and play a solitaire game or invite some friends for a no-points game. It shouldn't be very hard to modify the existing system to do this, but I don't have the time to create it from scratch.

So that's my 2¢. If it's ever implemented, I'd be happy to finish my map.
Last edited by koontz1973 on Sun Apr 15, 2012 8:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why can maps not be tested first?

Postby koontz1973 on Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:42 am

koontz1973 wrote:degaston, thanks for posting. I know your map was different, but that can be worked with within the foundry. Also, look at making major changes to a map in beta. It may need to be done. Rorke's Drift has had a major change to it, to the point that it was locked so all games can finish before being released again. Knights is also not standard GP and managed to get through happy. Changes and advice have to be the map makers resposabality, not he communities. Pick a path and stick to it. If you believe your way works, then say so and leave the doubters to doubt. You can always do minor tweeks later if proven wrong. But do bare in mind that some of the guys here are very good at there jobs and should be listened to. I wish and hope you come back with the map you made.

Your idea for a sandbox has been touted a lot over the years but I doubt we will ever see it. To many games would need to be played to find all the bugs. That is what beta is for. A lot of games can be made quickly and find those bugs. A map with 10 games in a sand box will never find all the bugs a map in beta will.

hope to see you back soon.
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Re: Why can maps not be tested first?

Postby koontz1973 on Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:44 am

degaston wrote:Yes, it might be possible for me to get my map through the system. But my point was that the main reason map standards have declined (or at least not progressed very much) is because the system is severely flawed. Game-play and testing should be the primary focus from the start, and you shouldn't need to have a pretty map in order to test it. I understand that this is not likely to change, but if the main problem is ignored, then this thread (and others like it) are like:
Fat Guy: I can't run very fast.
Doctor/Spouse/Friends/Etc.: You need to lose some weight.
Fat Guy: Well, that's never going to happen. Maybe some new running shoes will help.

I would never develop software on a system where:
1. I could only run the program after it was released as a Beta, and
2. I had to finish the user interface before I could test the logic.
I wouldn't expect to find every bug during my testing, but I could certainly find any big problems. And whether you want to call it Beta testing or a sandbox or whatever, unproven maps should not be played for points, and new testing should not be blocked just because some people are in the middle of a game. If a major change is required, just kill all Beta games for that map and let them start over if they want.

Looking back over my map thread, I can't say I really know what was expected of me at the end. There were many suggestions (all of which I responded to), but I didn't see any clear consensus about which ones should be used. I wasn't sure myself whether the bonuses and neutrals were good, or if I should add more territories or have The Motive bombard the suspects.

Updating the graphics seemed pointless if these things were just going to change again, so the only thing I could think of to do was to try to play it. It's too big to play on paper, so I started working on a playing program, but that's an even bigger project than the map, so I just didn't have the time. No new suggestions came in, but it hadn't received the next stamp either. (Though it doesn't make much sense to me how a gameplay stamp can be awarded without anyone ever, you know, actually playing it.) So I'd be happy to finish the XML and start trying it out, but doing anything else seems like a waste of time.

DiM wrote:degaston has a very good point. a closed circuit testing system would be wonderful.

koontz1973 wrote:
DiM wrote:degaston has a very good point. a closed circuit testing system would be wonderful.


What do you think lackattack is. While we have all been waiting on sully, he is having the time of his life playing Knights & Warlocks. :D

Gillipig wrote:
koontz1973 wrote:
DiM wrote:degaston has a very good point. a closed circuit testing system would be wonderful.


What do you think lackattack is. While we have all been waiting on sully, he is having the time of his life playing Knights & Warlocks. :D

I think they both mean in an earlier stage of development. Instead of having XML as the last thing, degaston is basically saying graphics should be the last stage. What makes this suggestion unrealistic is that it would require a lot more work and activity from the site programmers (who at the moment is just lack). And untill we have another guy on that job it just can't be done. I also think it would be pointless to do all this work with making the XML code and gameplay features perfect, before we have a clue if the guy is skilled and dedicated enough to create a good looking map. Now it's true that most people don't really care much for graphics, if the gameplay features are awesome they'll play it almost regardless of the graphics. But we still want good looking maps to come out of the foundry. I do agree with you though degaston that the focus on graphics over gameplay is pretty absurd when we consider what really matters, but your suggestion is not plausible with the current amount of programming hours put down on the site.

koontz1973 wrote:Gillipig, it is not plausible, even if it was possible. When you consider that some maps in the beta stage have had hundreds of games played, on all settings, only then can the bugs in game play be found and sorted. Can you imagine how long it would take you to play your Nigeria map with you a seven friends on every setting, covering all possible drops bonuses and luck. It just cannot be done. That is why the GP stamp comes before graphics. To iron out anything major that a map maker would like. Map makers need to be able to say no to ideas, while also listening to the ones that have some experience.

DiM wrote:
koontz1973 wrote:Gillipig, it is not plausible, even if it was possible.


it is both plausible and possible.
back in 2007 i first learned that a clone of CC exists. a secondary site where new game settings and options are tested before implementation. i first heard about it when they used it to test speed games before introducing them. then i heard about it again when they tested 8p games.
if i remember correctly some regular people (non teamCC) had access to this testing site, which actually makes me wonder yet again why mapmakers (who are the backbone of CCs content) aren't allowed.
sure, not everybody should be allowed to get there, perhaps only experienced map makers, or foundry regulars, but at least allow some to go and test. heck, it would be cool if only a testing comity would be allowed. it would still be better than nothing.
but since this testing facility has been around for so many years and access to the map makers has not been granted it's pretty clear it will never be. it's not like it's a new feature that needs extra coding and implementation. it already exists, lack just doesn't care to share it ;)

degaston wrote:
Gillipig wrote:I think they both mean in an earlier stage of development. Instead of having XML as the last thing, degaston is basically saying graphics should be the last stage.
I don't want to try to force anyone else to work my way. I just think that the system needs to be more flexible. Simpler maps that don't use a lot of special xml features should probably continue to be more "graphics-based". You're not likely to have a lot of gameplay issues that you can't determine from just looking at the map. But a map like mine really needs a more flexible process where alternatives can be tested quickly and without having to get the graphics nailed down first.
Gillipig wrote:I also think it would be pointless to do all this work with making the XML code and gameplay features perfect, before we have a clue if the guy is skilled and dedicated enough to create a good looking map.
If someone has a good idea, but no graphics skill, drawing a crude map in paint, and making an xml should be enough to begin testing the game-play. I thought there were people on here who could team up with them to make it look nice once they know the game is playable. But why would they want to put a lot of graphics effort into a game that may never be any good.
Gillipig wrote:Now it's true that most people don't really care much for graphics, if the gameplay features are awesome they'll play it almost regardless of the graphics. But we still want good looking maps to come out of the foundry.
I certainly prefer a good looking, map over an ugly one. And bad graphics can ruin what might otherwise be a good map. But I'd rather play an ugly map that's fun and interesting, than a good looking one that is boring or has game-play problems.

koontz1973 wrote:When you consider that some maps in the beta stage have had hundreds of games played, on all settings, only then can the bugs in game play be found and sorted. Can you imagine how long it would take you to play your Nigeria map with you a seven friends on every setting, covering all possible drops bonuses and luck. It just cannot be done. That is why the GP stamp comes before graphics. To iron out anything major that a map maker would like. Map makers need to be able to say no to ideas, while also listening to the ones that have some experience.
Some bugs may show up quickly, while others may only occur with a particular combination of settings. A more complicated the map has a greater need for early testing. Big bugs are more likely to require a major revision of the map, while smaller bugs may only need minor changes.
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Re: Why can maps not be tested first?

Postby degaston on Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:37 am

Thanks for moving this, koontz.

lostatlimbo (from the declining standards thread) wrote:This whole thread seems so pointless to me. Its all a matter of taste and preference what is good, bad, better, worse, etc. Some people love maps I can't stand, while other hate maps I love (or make). To each their own.

I will echo that it is tough starting out. It was hard to keep going on Portland, because it felt like it wouldn't get made and I was wasting my time, but I'm glad I stuck with it.

At the end of the day though, I get the sense Lack doesn't put as much value into the Foundry as we would. I can't blame him, as there's no way to tie new map tools to increased revenue.

However, if he ran with my 'premium' maps idea (only select maps available for free, others only available to paying customers), he could see an increase in premium sign ups and put more into the foundry and give something back to his top mapmakers.

Personally, I would favor a more democratic system with a hierarchy of maps determined by some combination of votes, ratings and games played. A-list maps would be listed on the main map page, others could be accessed through sub-folders or some other method. (Making them only available to paid members doesn't seem like a bad idea) In some dark recess of this system could be a foundry folder for maps in development. Anyone with a jpg and an xml file that meets some low minimum standard for playability could get it in there and begin playing unrated games with it. XML and graphics development could progress in whatever order the mapmaker likes. The cream will rise to the top, and the crud will sink to the bottom and die through lack of interest. Once a map meets the community standard for quality, it could be moved to a Beta folder and proceed from there.

But I agree that support for the foundry from "upper management" seems to be missing, so I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for something like this to happen.
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Re: Why can maps not be tested first?

Postby isaiah40 on Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:27 am

This still begs the question. Who would/should be allowed to "test" the maps? Mapmaker for sure, but who else? As was mentioned earlier, in a closed testing environment, you can't test enough games in all the settings possible. This is why we have the BETA process. The community will play the maps on the settings they 1. enjoy and 2. are good at. If we have a closed "proving grounds", I foresee mapmakers just making maps just so they can play them before they go live, just like another site I shall not name. This is why we have a play at your own risk statement for BETA maps. Also, the foundry is an open environment where any and all can make comments/suggestions on any map in any stage of development. By placing the maps in a testing environment, you are incense creating a "closed" environment, thereby negating the reason we have an open gameplay part of the main Foundry.

Gameplay and graphics are worked on at the same time because a lot of the graphical work has a direct correlation to the gameplay. For instance, impassables, while are a graphical concern, are also a gameplay concern. Colorblind checks are also a gameplay concern because for those who are colorblind, determining which bonus is what affects the gameplay for them. This is why we give the gameplay stamp before the graphics stamp. Now while the mapmaker is working on the graphics, there is nothing saying that he/she has to wait until Final Forge to do the XML Now as far as the style of mountains, that is strictly a graphical concern.
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Re: Why can maps not be tested first?

Postby DoomYoshi on Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:37 am

I say just print the map off at home and test it out with family/friends. But then, there is the problem that they won't use the best strategies.
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Re: Why can maps not be tested first?

Postby Slavivlad on Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:46 am

[quote=DiM]sure, not everybody should be allowed to get there, perhaps only experienced map makers, or foundry regulars, but at least allow some to go and test. heck, it would be cool if only a testing comity would be allowed. it would still be better than nothing.[/quote]

Allowing a testing commity will provide more problems as how will people be chosen and so on. This will create debates as to who should be allowed and what not. You say that only experienced map makers or foundry regulars should be allowed, but how can you qualify an experienced map maker from a non-experienced one ? The amount of maps he/she has made ? One may do 6 maps the size of Lux and Doodle and one may do one large one with the complexity of Waterloo.

Then only having foundry regulars will have a small sample as only "more experienced" CC players visit the foundry and thus mostly you'll have people who have played thousands of games thus reducing the amount of newer players. These new players are needed in order for CC to progress but if in a year or two with this commity, the only maps made will be the ones that suit these experienced players and may be too difficult to grasp quickly for beginners and as we all know - losing is no fun and so the intake of new players will be less and less.

But that's just how I see it and I don't know the ins and outs of the foundry works as such.
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Re: Why can maps not be tested first?

Postby DiM on Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:55 am

isaiah40 wrote:This still begs the question. Who would/should be allowed to "test" the maps? Mapmaker for sure, but who else? As was mentioned earlier, in a closed testing environment, you can't test enough games in all the settings possible. This is why we have the BETA process. The community will play the maps on the settings they 1. enjoy and 2. are good at. If we have a closed "proving grounds", I foresee mapmakers just making maps just so they can play them before they go live, just like another site I shall not name. This is why we have a play at your own risk statement for BETA maps. Also, the foundry is an open environment where any and all can make comments/suggestions on any map in any stage of development. By placing the maps in a testing environment, you are incense creating a "closed" environment, thereby negating the reason we have an open gameplay part of the main Foundry.

Gameplay and graphics are worked on at the same time because a lot of the graphical work has a direct correlation to the gameplay. For instance, impassables, while are a graphical concern, are also a gameplay concern. Colorblind checks are also a gameplay concern because for those who are colorblind, determining which bonus is what affects the gameplay for them. This is why we give the gameplay stamp before the graphics stamp. Now while the mapmaker is working on the graphics, there is nothing saying that he/she has to wait until Final Forge to do the XML Now as far as the style of mountains, that is strictly a graphical concern.



even with only a few people and a few games on a testing site, at least the major flaws can be detected fast and avoid problems.
several maps have been released with big problems that nobody foresaw. as maps get more and more complicated we won't be able to think of all the scenarios simply by talking about them. testing is needed.
"all your base" had a flaw with the neutrals and one could rush the objective in manual deployment. i fixed it in a matter of days and not much damage was done.
but "rorke's drift" had the same issue and it took longer to fix. hence at some point there were people who managed to get over 3000 points from this exploit.
and these maps are not isolated incidents, a lot of maps (especially those with more complicated gameplay) happen to need such fixes.
so even if not all the finer details would be set, at least the big flaws would be solved.


as for the current beta system, while obviously being better than nothing, is not really that good or productive.
to get a map to beta you have to work A LOT and if in beta you discover some major faults in the gameplay you might actually have to scrap a good chunk of your graphical work which sucks. because of this people are afraid to come up with something 100% new and crazy because they might have to scratch all their graphical work. so people try to stick to something that's already been done before and maybe add just a little variation.

move the beta phase before the graphics badge and everything will be fine. we won't need a testing site.
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Re: Why can maps not be tested first?

Postby DiM on Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:02 pm

Slavivlad wrote:
DiM wrote:sure, not everybody should be allowed to get there, perhaps only experienced map makers, or foundry regulars, but at least allow some to go and test. heck, it would be cool if only a testing comity would be allowed. it would still be better than nothing.


Allowing a testing commity will provide more problems as how will people be chosen and so on. This will create debates as to who should be allowed and what not. You say that only experienced map makers or foundry regulars should be allowed, but how can you qualify an experienced map maker from a non-experienced one ? The amount of maps he/she has made ? One may do 6 maps the size of Lux and Doodle and one may do one large one with the complexity of Waterloo.

Then only having foundry regulars will have a small sample as only "more experienced" CC players visit the foundry and thus mostly you'll have people who have played thousands of games thus reducing the amount of newer players. These new players are needed in order for CC to progress but if in a year or two with this commity, the only maps made will be the ones that suit these experienced players and may be too difficult to grasp quickly for beginners and as we all know - losing is no fun and so the intake of new players will be less and less.

But that's just how I see it and I don't know the ins and outs of the foundry works as such.


an experienced map maker is one that made at least one map. this means he's been in the foundry for at least a few months and was dedicated enough to see it completed. an unexperienced map maker is one that has a map in production but either abandoned it or is still working on it.

plus the foundry regulars which are easily recognizable.
sure in total there might be few people and one could say that with such a small sample of players the maps produced would suit only the needs of the testers. but how would this be any different than now?
less than 0.5% of the players on CC visit the foundry right now and not all of them contribute with gameplay related feedback. so even right this moment the maps produced have gameplays that are made according to the will of very very few people.
it's not like we have thousands of people visiting the foundry daily and giving us feedback and we're trying to get away from them and test things secretly. :lol:
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Re: Why can maps not be tested first?

Postby ender516 on Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:11 pm

Keeping inexperienced mapmakers out of a test bed would mean those who might most need some early gameplay checking won't get it.

I think adding an alpha test phase prior to the graphics stamp phase to check basic gameplay and keeping the beta test phase that we have now, which proves out gameplay/graphics integration, would be the right way to go.
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Re: Why can maps not be tested first?

Postby degaston on Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:13 pm

isaiah40 wrote:This still begs the question. Who would/should be allowed to "test" the maps? Mapmaker for sure, but who else? As was mentioned earlier, in a closed testing environment, you can't test enough games in all the settings possible. This is why we have the BETA process. The community will play the maps on the settings they 1. enjoy and 2. are good at.

I don't see a problem with allowing anyone to test/play the maps if they are unrated games. They should be warned that the games could be cancelled at any time. I don't care what settings they use, but for my map, comments like "I don't like it because x happened when I played it" would be much more useful than "I don't like it because I think x will happen when I play it." The beta process would be unchanged, except that there would probably be far fewer changes happening during beta (as it should be).

isaiah40 wrote:If we have a closed "proving grounds", I foresee mapmakers just making maps just so they can play them before they go live, just like another site I shall not name. This is why we have a play at your own risk statement for BETA maps.

Are you saying that pre-beta testing is a bad idea because map-makers would have an unfair advantage when playing their own maps? Or because they get to play a map that other people cannot? I wasn't proposing that access be limited, so I don't see a problem here.

isaiah40 wrote:Also, the foundry is an open environment where any and all can make comments/suggestions on any map in any stage of development. By placing the maps in a testing environment, you are incense creating a "closed" environment, thereby negating the reason we have an open gameplay part of the main Foundry.

There should still be a foundry thread for each map. People can comment whether they've played it or not. But there should be no more comments like: "we don't need to talk about x now because a)it's already got that stamp, or b)we're not there yet. Anything should be fair game for discussion at any time.

isaiah40 wrote:Gameplay and graphics are worked on at the same time because a lot of the graphical work has a direct correlation to the gameplay. For instance, impassables, while are a graphical concern, are also a gameplay concern. Colorblind checks are also a gameplay concern because for those who are colorblind, determining which bonus is what affects the gameplay for them. This is why we give the gameplay stamp before the graphics stamp. Now while the mapmaker is working on the graphics, there is nothing saying that he/she has to wait until Final Forge to do the XML Now as far as the style of mountains, that is strictly a graphical concern.

My problem is that I don't consider talking about gameplay to be the same thing as playing a game. I would like for everything to be worked on at the same time, but the current system makes that impossible. Right now, it's like writing a cookbook without ever going into the kitchen until it's ready to be published.
Last edited by degaston on Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why can maps not be tested first?

Postby ender516 on Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:18 pm

Unfortunately lackattack is extremely allergic to the idea of unrated games (if by that you mean games for which no points are awarded).
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Re: Why can maps not be tested first?

Postby degaston on Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:21 pm

DoomYoshi wrote:I say just print the map off at home and test it out with family/friends. But then, there is the problem that they won't use the best strategies.

That might work for smaller maps, but mine had around 100 territories. I ran out of RISK pieces, and it was way too slow, even with an automatic dice roller.
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Re: Why can maps not be tested first?

Postby degaston on Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:29 pm

ender516 wrote:Unfortunately lackattack is extremely allergic to the idea of unrated games (if by that you mean games for which no points are awarded).

That's weird. :-? I think testing should be off the books, and I don't think you should be forced to finish a game and win or lose points if you find that there's a problem with the map.
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Re: Why can maps not be tested first?

Postby natty dread on Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:29 pm

I say, anyone who wants to help test the maps should be let in. That still wouldn't create a huge influx of people playing the test games - as we all know, not many people are interested in the foundry, most people are content just playing the maps when they show up - heck, the vast majority never even enter the forums. And even if this test group would attract more people to test the maps - would this be such a bad thing? The foundry would get more people commenting on maps, giving feedback.

Hell, the more I think about this, this testing facility could well be the best thing that could happen for the foundry. Seriously.

And for that matter, I really really really don't see what the admin has against this kind of feature. It would be useful for everyone, mapmakers could make better maps more easily, players would get better maps to play, everybody wins. We could still have the beta phase, but this feature would mean that beta maps would be less likely to need fixes, and thus, the players would get a more complete product.

And let's face it - if someone wanted to program this kind of testing facility off-site, one that would have a (practically) identical game-engine to CC, that would be able to use the same xml:s CC uses, there'd be nothing lackattack could do to stop it. It'd be basically the same as printing the map out and playing with your friends, except online.

So why not implement this feature, because there really is no downsides to it, and it's not like it would require any additional coding - we already HAVE this feature, it's just a matter of making it available!
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