To begin, we all have to realize that only a very small percentage of people ever come to the forums. That means that even very "popular" ideas may not really and truly be popular or beneficial for the site.
A lot of what I have seen and heard is really grousing over "growing pains". It seems Lack always intended for the site to expand on Risk. A laudable goal. It was perhaps pushed a bit by Hasbro, but the truth is that CC long ago left that game behind. Saying CC is "Risk based", is true, but only in the way that one can say all modern plays harken back to Shakespeare. True.. but the child has long surpassed the origin. West Side Story is absolutely a copy of Romeo and Juliet, but in very, very important ways it is also quite different. Liking Romeo and Juliet does not mean one will like West Side Story or vice-versa. Risk is great, but CC is great in its own right... only needs to find a better way to describe and advertise THAT, not just be a "step child" of Risk. Sure, it will take time for people to learn what CC is, in its own right. Its a lot easier to just let people search for Risk and find CC as one of the options, but CC has grown. Its time CC leaped out of the "Risk nest" and began to fly on its own.
I get somewhat frustrated when I see a lot of complaints essentially saying "we need to get back to Risk". That path is gone, but not just gone.. it was a mistake to think this site ever SHOULD stay a "Risk only" site. Let me be clear. There is nothing wrong, at all, with having multiple maps with the "1 for 3" and basic area bonuses, on maps more or less based on "real" maps. People like them. That is great. I DO have a problem when people complain about all the other types of maps out there and map playing styles. As someone else noted, having all those maps in no way means the "standard" maps have to disappear. HOWEVER, because so much of the site is focused on just those maps (for yes, obvious reasons), I strongly feel that the site has neglected advertisement and promotion of the variety maps that really and truly make this site different and unique.
This IS about marketing, image and also training. However, I don't really see that the comments above actually address the real issues. Instead, the concentrate on what are basically surface issues... how the site "looks", etc. Those are important! However, fixing any of that without dealing with the core issue of "what this site should be" is just going to mean heading off in wrong directions.
First, regarding long-standing suggestions. The Suggs forum was a great idea, people like being able to contribute. However, when suggestions remain "ready to implement" for 2 years and still nothing.. its a waste. What about that zombie nuetral suggestion, for example? It was pretty popular for a while, but suddenly it died. Even basic things, like just letting people search based on wins/loses along with other criteria in game finder, so people can see how many times they won a particular map or against particular people, etc... No, its not map-ranking, or cross-map, just total wins and losses, but people want that information and it would be easy to change it so people can find it without having to manually count them. There are other, similar suggestions. Either these suggestions need to be implemented or the pretense of having suggestions needs to be removed. Personally, I think referring suggestions and other problems to a kind of committee would be beneficial. Right now mods sort of serve that purpose, but they simply have too many "hats". That gets to the next point.
Initially, it was fine to just label all volunteers as "moderators". They all basically were discussion moderators, but did other things, too. The color-coding has helped seperate them some, but that needs to be more formal, duties need to be more firmly assigned and divided. I would like to see a group of just plain discussion moderators for GD and particularly the Off-Topics forum that STRICTLY deal with the discussions. Other assistants will have other titles, depending on their duties. As noted, a committee could look at and work to implement suggestions. BUT, again, before those suggestions get implemented, there needs to be a bit clearer picture of what this place should be. Lack may have that vision already. He might not need to share it with everyone, but it should be shared with people working in the site, making changes, etc. And.. at least a basic idea should go out to the community, so you don't get 10,000 suggestions "why don't we become like the chess site .... [answer: that is not what CC is]" or whatever.
Sorry, got a tad off my point there (though it is related). Anyway, to get back to "is CC Risk". The time has come to just plain stop asking that and accept that CC is not and should not be "Risk". However, where should CC go? As noted, a LOT of people like what I call the "traditional" maps. A lot of other people like the variations on those themes that still keep them more or less "looking" traditional, but that have a number of variations... that is, bombardments, various spoils options, strange attack routes, auto-reinforcements, etc. BUT, there is another contingent that likes the maps that are truly unusual.. From AOR to Fuedal to Arms Race!
When I hear complaints about people "not understanding those maps" and "let's limit access", I pretty much want to scream "But a LOT OF PEOPLE LIKE THOSE MAPS!". Also, the whole idea that understanding the "traditional" maps has to come first, will in any way really help folks understand those variety maps is just plain wrong. However, because you start with saying "go to the training ground, learn this style", you basically tell people to avoid all those other maps. This means you push people into the most competetive, highly skilled forms of play right off the bat. I admit, I came here because I wanted to play Risk online. However, I stayed
because I found many other maps I could play. I quickly learned that I was "in over my head" in many standard (what we now call "Classic") map games. It was by going for the more unusual maps... Crossword, Coral Cairns and then Age of Merchants, that I found my "niche" and wound up enjoying this site enough to buy a premium.
So much of the orientation of this site now specifically turns newbies away from those options.
Now, I understand that its impossible to have a comprehensive training program for all the maps and map styles. There is nothing wrong with having a place for people to learn to play the standard maps. The problem is when there is no or almost no real and true discussion about the variety of maps.. not in a way that new people would or can understand. If you go to the Training Academy, for example, you see mention of other maps and playin styles, team teaching is already there, but you just don't see anything that says "hey, we have AOR.. we have Arms Race!.. we have Oasis... try some of those, too, they are different, but you might just find you like them!".
THAT, to me is what CC being professional would mean. Someone would come in.. maybe wanting area maps, maybe not (if promos change, fewer people will associate this site with Risk at all). Anyway, they come and see maps grouped by categories. Then THEY could decide FOR THEMSELVES what types of maps they would wish to play. Its not about telling people what they can and cannot or even "should" do, its about giving them the tools to enable them to better make those decisions themselves.
I know that has been controversial. Mostly because the opinions have come from the vocal old-timers, who to a large extent, are "stuck" on the "traditional maps" and really could care less about much of anything else. In this case, looking at those old timers for advice just won't work. They will tell you what is already here, what already makes them happy. In short, many of them would prefer CC had never changed. (I admit I concur about the ratings system.. but that's another story).
Trying to determine what maps people want to play at all is just wrong. The fact is, you never really know. People themselves don't know until they actually get in an play. I went on a "quest" to play & win every map, first 5 wins, then 10 wins. I found that after playing that many times, I disliked many maps I initially liked (yes, particularly the "standard area" maps.. I frankly find them similar and just boring), but wound up liking some maps I had initially HATED. Draknor,the dungeon is a good example. Its human nature to dislike things we don't really understand, cannot do well.
I said before, but I worked up some classifications for maps. It might have been a tad too detailed, but istead of looking at things like size, which is a pretty obvious and easy to grasp difference for anyone, I looked at play style. My idea was that people could gradually pcik maps that introduced various features, picking their own way to learning the maps. Some people might want to just start with maps that have bombardments or some strange-looking attack routes. Other people (like myself), however, might be happy plunging right into maps that play very differently.. knowing in advance that they will have to read the legend, learn different methods of play, etc. To "each his own". I firmly and completely reject almost all attempts to limit maps people CAN play, because people don't need "nanies". Instead, though, I would like to see better identification so people are not plunged unkowingly into stumbling on AOR the first time they try something other than classic.. or the first map they try, not realizing that this is just one of many, many very different maps.
I suggest first seperating and labeling the maps. Overall, standard play versus unusual play, complicated versus basic. I would keep the training program, but label it as a "program to learn classic play maps", not give the impression that this is the beginning step to all maps. (it is not!). It is great for people who want to learn to play the standard play maps in traditional ways, but is absolutely not an overall learning program. That's fine. There is no way to have a full training program for ALL maps, in a practical sense. However, people need to know that from the start more clearly. When and if they get tired of the training, they need to know there are other options and be able to easily find them
. THAT is how people will wind up staying.. finding options when they get tired of what they have been playing.
When I started, there were less than 30 maps. (I actually thought there were fewer, but remembe searching and finding that number). I can remember being confused even then. Heaven help new people who start out now! Again, this is not about limiting maps or changing availability in any way, its about communication and labeling.
Even the current limits.. against Assassin, the very complicated maps (Waterloo, Iraq, etc) are rather pointless. They only apply for the first 5 games, which is hardly enough to really learn much about CC at this point, with the huge variety here. AND, there really is not a lot of communication about why those maps are limited. I would prefer that someone get a kind of "do you know what you are getting into?" warning the first time they try to play any of the unusual features or maps. Actually, I would like to see that the first time people click on ANY map. For example "you have picked a 'standard play map".. bonuses are 1 for every 3, more bonuses for areas"... etc . Or, better yet, have them grouped in the listings so people know before they even pick them what is involved. Then, maybe a brief "you do realize you picked Assassin.. Nuclear spoils.. etc.".."please be sure read the instructions for how these are played" the FIRST time someone picks those options. After that.. its time to just let people play or not play, as THEY decide.
This whole concept has rather confused me. Going by some of the criteria, I could easily be labeled a "farmer", except that my rank is rarely very high
, and I basically just play games I start (with few exceptions) because it confuses me to switch colors all the time. As I said above, I start multiple games on unusual maps, play a lot of newbies. etc. I know other older players who have similar patterns. Johnny Rocket was trying to play more new people than anyone else (is he still? I don't know). I have seen several people I fully enjoyed playing "sent away" on accusations of farming because they just plain liked to play unusual maps. (one I remember used to start 20-30 AOR2 maps at a time). What harm did they cause? From the outset, I find concern over the ranks and such to be a tad silly, but that is just me. I know some people take it seriously. (I find the whole idea of comparing someone who plays AOR2 to Arm RAce to teamps on Classic map a bit.. odd). However, the thing is that people who take the rank seriously ALWAYS find issues with their opponents. Its almost a sport unto itself. "Win or, if you cannot win, chew down your opponent, convince yourself they really did not deserve to win!". I see most of that as pure grousing by what I hesitate to call "bad sports" (because for most it all IS just another part of the game.. another type of game-playing), but which I will say is really as much a side event as anythig else.
Anyway, the REAL issue, now is not "does the conquerer deserve to be there".. "do high rankers deserve their ranks". (Again, those issues will be argued, debated and eventually sorted out by those "in the running"). The REAL issue is what makes people stay and what makes people leave. BUT, the REAL answer there is "many things" or "it really depends on the person". And that is the true key to CC, as I see it. The more CC tries to please one group or the other, the more they wind up angering yet more people. Too often, they wind up not really pleasing those first intended to be pleased and also angering many others.
Of course, some of the biggest and most controversial changes have not really been by choice. CC CANNOT be Risk. That is what it is, but I don't think CC has done enough to see that as a positive. (again, "intensity cubes'' come on!.. infected nuetrals, on the other hand.. THAT is the kind of move away from Risk we need!).
The Rating system sort of fits both of the above. It DID need to change. I think most of us "longer standing" players recognized that. However, the change that was made, while it started out being a community effort and so forth, wound up being well... a half designed, poorly implemented idea that really pleases no one. I DO think that issue needs to be revisited. There ARE other options and enough time has passed that I believe people are able to remove themselves from the "I just want the old system" ideas that seemed to dominate discussions way back. I think we understand we need an automated system (no mod intervention except in extreme cases), but we also need something more equitable and easier to use than what exists now.
This is already far longer than I intended (sorry). Still, I hope you will give what I say some consideration. Either way.. thank you for your continued Efforts, team.. and Andy in particular