Feedback is an essential part of the map making process. It allows the mapmaker to get different perspectives and find out what people like and don't like about their map. It also sheds light on any flaws in gameplay or graphics which the mapmaker did not see. For someone that wants to be involved but doesn't have the artistic knack, giving good feedback is a great way to become a vital part of the foundry. If you regularly give good feedback, you will become well liked by the mapmakers, Foundry Assistants and Moderators (members who are in charge of stamping maps). Not only that, but you will make a noticeable impact on the quality of the maps the foundry produces.
The best feedback comes from people who have put a little bit of thought into their post(s), and
- a. Adds something to the development of a map.
b. Identifies specific elements/issues which do or don't work in their eyes.
c. Offers some kind of alternative or solution to any problems/issues.
- The only way to get a map made that's exactly how you want it is to make it yourself. A mapmaker is making a map they want to make and while your ideas might be great, they might not fit the map that they are making. Keep this in mind if a mapmaker says "no" to an idea of yours.
- Remember to think from the mapmaker's perspective/goal. This means that giving feedback that starts with, "hey it'd be cool if..." is not always the best thing. They've often already decided the theme and direction of the map, the more stamps the more solid this direction. Really cool ideas are not what they are generally looking for help on. They want help on deciding the details to fit their goal.
- You need thick skin. Virtually all mapmakers, at some time or another, come off as harsh. Part of the foundry rules state that mapmakers have to answer every piece of feedback, either accepting the idea presented, or refuting it logically. This means either implementing the ideas or giving valid reasons as to why the idea is not a good one for the map. The most common reason they'll come off as harsh is when someone airs an idea that doesn't fit with the mapmaker's plan for the map at all. This often gets blown out of proportion, as the person giving feedback gets very offended and says that the foundry is exactly like they heard it was ("a bunch of insensitive jerks") and never comes back. Mapmakers tend to attack the idea like they're attacking the person, but they're not. Often, the very shooting down of an idea is seen as harsh no matter how it comes out. Just remember it's part of the process.
- What concerns does the mapmaker have? If he has a list of questions for his next version and you answer those questions, then the mapmaker is more likely to take interest in your other concerns beyond those answers. It makes sense. They asked some pointed questions and you answered them. You have some concerns and because you gave the mapmaker your attention, he will give you his attention.
- Give reasons. This is a big one. Universally, if you give reasons, a mapmaker will consider your idea further. Also, if a mapmaker is deciding between two options giving a reason as to why one option is better is worth more than just saying, "I like option A". You might say, "I like option A because it fits better with the rest of the map and makes the text more readable." More detail is more helpful, period.
- Show the mapmaker that you've put some thought into your post. If you come into a thread and just say "that line is blurry" then while you've shown the mapmaker something he might've missed, you've not really done anything great. The more time you put into your post, the more time people will spend thinking about your post then responding to it. There are exceptions where a person will completely ignore what you spent 30 minutes writing, but far and away they pay greater attention. Don't take these exceptions and assume everybody is like that. Some people have the map already made in their head and there's nothing anyone, even with reasons, can do to change their mind.
- The foundry is not a regular forum. This goes along with the previous point. Making the most posts is not seen as great in any forum but especially the foundry. We're here to make maps. Quality is always greater than quantity, though high-quality in quantity is terrific.
If you follow those points above then you've got a good foundation for giving feedback. Now let's get a bit more specific about graphics and gameplay. First let's define what graphics and gameplay are:
Gameplay is how the map will play. This includes bonuses, borders, regions, and any special elements like bombardments, one-way attacks and auto-deploys.
Graphics are a way to translate the gameplay into visual form. Here's a very simple example. While the gameplay says that region A has a one way border to assault region B, the graphics would be the representation of that one-way border with an arrow pointing from region A to region B. In addition, the graphics should also be aesthetically pleasing. This part of graphics is more subjective whereas the definition above is clear-cut. If you can't read the text then that's a problem with the graphics that needs to be changed to represent the gameplay properly. If you prefer font A over font B then that's not necessarily something that needs to be changed, as it doesn't impact the understanding of the gameplay.
- Think on a local and global perspective. If you're helping decide a bonus value, simply saying, "this continent has 5 territories and 4 borders so it should be +5" is not always correct. If there was a smaller continent adjacent to it which if held together would be 7 territories and 4 borders with a bonus of +7 then you've probably made a mistake. A bonus needs to make sense in relation to the other bonuses. Likewise, all other gameplay elements need to make sense in relation to each other.
- A bonus calculator is only a starting point for any map. People use bonus calculators to help start off their bonuses, but they might want their map to have higher or lower bonuses than usual.
- Think about what would happen in game situations. Some continents will obviously be held early. Is this going to overpower everyone else? Are some points in gameplay never going to get used because of a too high starting neutral value? Is part of the gameplay totally useless?
- Is everything fitting the same theme? If one part of the map looks like medieval Europe and the other part like a Disney cartoon and that's not the theme the mapmaker is going after, pointing that out would help a lot. Faithfulness to a theme is a major part of the graphics of a map.
- You must always be aware of color blindness. If you're not color blind it's a bit hard to actually help on this, but always have it in the back of your mind. Maybe a map is only using color to differentiate bonus regions, when it's possible to use shapes and colors? Regions might be coded with different color circles when they could have red triangles, blue circles, and green squares, for instance. Nearby regions with very similar colors are also something to look out for.
- If you were to play on the map that day, would you be able to figure out how to play, assuming you had nothing other than the map to go on? Maybe a rule needs clarifying in the legend because the graphics do not translate them well enough, or some borders need to be more clearly defined.
--Special thanks to edbeard, TaCktiX and the.killing.44 for drafting, editing and formatting this guide.