History of the community

Pages

AuthorTopic: History of the community
Warrior
Member # 3978
Profile #0
It seems a great deal of the SW community as a whole revolved around the Exile series. The few people who might have started earlier on things like Homebound, don't seem to comment on it much. It seems Exile, particularly Blades, for the obvious reason that any game with an editor will tend to form a community, was the highpoint of SW's history.

I've read a lot of the old posts. I've read about the Solberg incident, I've read about a few of the arguments with Jeff, I looked at the 9/11 posts. SW has a strong community, that much is clear.

At one point, Jeff said that most of his fanbase were 8 year olds who like killing stuff. The designers retorted that there were probably very few people under 15 playing here. This makes me wonder why the bias against younger players? It isn't the youth, it's the *immaturity* that is *associated* with youth. My point is to keep an open mind (And yes, I know I'm responding to year old posts)

I also note that when I made a poll about which spider product was a persons favorite, it seemed to be just a given that anyone who voted for Avernum had to be a newbie, anyone voting for Exile would be a veteran.

So where does that put all the people who started playing after Exile? If liking a newer game with more capabilities (Less scenario's thus far, admittedly) means that a person is a newbie to the older spider crowd, I don't see you being very openminded, again (And this is a recent issue) And I am NOT making generalizations, just for note. I'm referring to the oldbie spiderwebbers who DO make these assumptions.

I'm sure there are many of you who don't, or who've changed since the older posts. I'm not directing this specifically at anyone, just trying to open up the room for some discussion. Back on the topic of young players, Jeff said a lot of his money came from younger players. There were objections to this, but just for the record:

For all we know, the "young" (by this I mean immature hack'n'slashers, but since "8-year-olds" seems to be what we're calling them.....look at the top of my post ;) ) players outnumber us 2-1. Now, granted, I SERIOUSLY doubt that, but not because of the reasons a person might think.

I doubt it because typically, a "younger" player wants eye-candy, which Avernum isn't when compared to a lot of other titles. It's still top-notch gameplay wise, but it's just a known fact that the same crowd that likes hack'n'slash likes graphical quality.

But that doesn't mean we don't have a lot of hack'n'slashers. Oh, no. We just get the older (And I mean, literally, older) players who remember the old Ultima's and Castle of the Winds, and Ragnarok/Valhalla, coming to play Avernum for more hack'n'slash. And I'm sure theres some young blood in there, as well (I know one person, but he's actually a better roleplayer than most older and more experienced gamers I know.)

That being said, BoE made such a solidified community, I'm personally under the impression that we have maybe a 1-1 ratio, or something thereabouts. Perhaps I haven't been here long enough. Either way, just throwing in my couple of cents on some really old issues (As well as some new ones) and trying to convince people to keep an open mind (losing battle)

I just find it odd that whenever I read posts about BoA, a lot of people keep talking about how they hate how BoE was abandoned and wasn't fixed. I really don't understand, wouldn't the best way to "update" it be to give it better (arguable) graphics, more capabilities, less bugs (all arguable, in fact, but please dont argue them here)? I suppose thats unfair, given as how the update didn't go to BoE directly and for free, as many players probably feel it should have....

But are we being a little harsh on Jeff? Throw me some of your opinions on all these issues (Except arguing over technical stuff. thats for a different forum))

[ Saturday, February 05, 2005 05:41: Message edited by: Solodric ]
Posts: 125 | Registered: Friday, February 13 2004 08:00
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
Profile Homepage #1
The so-called "older games" like Homebound aren't actually older than Exile. Exile 1 was the first game that Jeff ever made, and it predates Spiderweb Software itself.

BoA is not an update and bug-fix on BoE. It's just not. BoE was abandoned, and known, demonstratable bugs were not fixed. He claimed in various parts of the web site and documentation that he would fix bugs, and he did not. He gave idiotic, flimsy excuses for not doing so, which made people even more frustrated.

Even he admits that his support for BoE was sub-par. He admitted it at a very convenient time, because he was trying to sell us something else. It was another suggestion that he really only cares about the community for profit, despite the fact that the community has made most of the good scenarios and we are only a small percentage of his fanbase. We are the reason that BoE is still a good buy after all these years, but he never seemed to care, at least until he wanted to sell us something new.

I have wondered also about the extent to which we should consider the people who play these games but never post on the boards. Ultimately, although it influences my scenario design a little bit, it doesn't really make much of a difference about how he handles his products. If a game has a known bug, and if that game is still being sold for profit and used frequently, that bug ought to be fixed. If a game is riddled with them, it ought to be given a patch ASAP.

Barring that, after some reasonable amount of time (say, five years from the last update), it should be declared abandonware, released to the public for free, bundled with the source, so that community can fix the bugs that Jeff won't.

BoA is not a bug-fix on BoE. Knowing about bugs in your company's game and not doing anything about them is just bad policy.

EDIT: Solodric, look at that discussion more carefully. I was the person who made the fifteen-year-old comment, and I didn't say that not many of the people who are playing Blades are under fifteen. I said that almost none of the good scenarios have been made by people who are under fifteen. That means that the designing community that has made BoE a worthwhile buy is different from the demographic that Jeff thought he was targeting, which I figured might be worth something.

[ Saturday, February 05, 2005 06:33: Message edited by: Kelandon ]

--------------------
Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
Warrior
Member # 3978
Profile #2
Unfortunatly, I wasn't a victim of Jeff's bad policy ( I do not own BoE) and hence I wouldn't know, which is why I made this topic, primarily - to ask. This all started when I was referred over to the Lyceum boards to look for information on how to make a better scenario.

The person who made said referal said that while BoE and BoA were different, it'd probably be mostly the same crowd playing BoA, so it was more than simply worthwhile to examine BoE's community. When I did such, I happened upon the posts and decided I wanted to have a firmer idea of what the community was like back then.

And of course, being the bigmouth I am, I had to throw in my ideas as well.
Posts: 125 | Registered: Friday, February 13 2004 08:00
BoE Posse
Member # 112
Profile #3
The absolute best way to understand the BoE community is to play their scenarios. Trying to do so without doing that will be difficult.

--------------------
Rate my scenarios!

Areni
Revenge
To Live in Fear
Deadly Goblins
Ugantan Nightmare
Isle of Boredom
Posts: 1423 | Registered: Sunday, October 7 2001 07:00
Warrior
Member # 3978
Profile #4
Probably a good suggestion. I guess that means I gotta get BoE huh?
Posts: 125 | Registered: Friday, February 13 2004 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 2984
Profile Homepage #5
I guess so, yes. :) And you will find few people here who would argue that it isn't worth it.

--------------------
The Encyclopaedia Ermariana <-- Now a Wiki!
"Polaris leers down from the black vault, winking hideously like an insane watching eye which strives to convey some strange message, yet recalls nothing save that it once had a message to convey." --- HP Lovecraft.
"I single Aran out due to his nasty temperament, and his superior intellect." --- SupaNik
Posts: 8752 | Registered: Wednesday, May 14 2003 07:00
Lack of Vision
Member # 2717
Profile #6
I'm curious - What is this "Solberg Incident"? Sorry to post something off-topic like that, but inquiring minds want to know!

Also, regarding the BoA and BoE discussions: at the risk of starting a flame war, I found the BoE community to be a rather big turn-off. When I bought BoE, so long ago, I had grand dreams of creating scenarios and playing excellent scenarios developed by others - and to this day, I've never even played one scenario from start to finish (BoE has long since departed my hand drive). Part of the problems were graphics-related - I found it silly that I had to edit something with a low-level resource editor in order to use custom graphics (resedit on a Mac), and hence, never bothered with custom graphic scenarios.

But a significant part of the reason I never got into BoE was that the community could be downright savage against preceived transgressions. Particularly in two areas: the degree to which Jeff released updates, and the brutality inflicted upon beginner scenario designers. To be honest, what I found was an exclusionary community with a massive chip on its sholder that was hostile to outsiders and unrelenting in its negative judgements. Well, at the time I was living in Washington, DC, and I got enough of that crap every day without having to worry about it ruining my enjoyment of a computer game.

Unfortunately, I find this same sense of elitism and disdain for outsiders, is seeping into the BoA community. It has turned me off from that game as well. (Note to self, never buy a creation system game from Jeff again.)

You may think this is silly, but it killed my desire to work on a scenario. Every time I opened the program, I thought, "Why waste the long hours of my evenings doing this, only to release it and have it mocked as a silly effort that should never have been made?" And without the desire to make scenarios, my desire to play the game itself left me as well.

And so, while "the community" may be great in many ways, I think it could learn a healthy dose of tolerance and acceptance of others.

I'm not saying the BOE community is somehow worse than others. In fact, in some ways, it is much better than most - this is really the reason I never got into the MMORPG games. Who wants to come home after a long day of work and sit down at a computer screen only to be mocked and cussed at by "8 year old kids" with screen names like "KeWeLD00D2321"?

Enough ranting for now! As we say in Arabic "Halas".

Z

--------------------
Pan Lever: Seventeen apple roving mirror moiety. Of turned quorum jaggedly the. Blue?
Posts: 186 | Registered: Thursday, February 27 2003 08:00
Warrior
Member # 3978
Profile #7
You put it in more aggressive terms than I, but I think we're getting at the same thing. The community does seem pretty centralized and biased.

I haven't seen any of that in BoA yet, luckily, but it might come. Hopefully people will be more openminded now, because if I'm reading some of the old archives on The Lyceum right, that was a serious problem.

Oh, and the Solberg Incident can be summed up in three words: Solberg Plagiarized Alcritas. I have never played either ones scenario's, but people who played both said that it was "blatantly obvious" that Solberg had plagiarized Alcritas, who happens to have been (maybe still is, I wouldn't know) one of the major scenario designers of the time.

You can find an archive of the whole thing over at The Lyceum, it's on the EZ boards. I'm not getting into whether the communities reaction to it was proper or not (Djur seemed to think they were overreacting), unless someone here thinks that bringing up said incident might be constructive to our discussion of the history of the BoE community, and perhaps it's future?
Posts: 125 | Registered: Friday, February 13 2004 08:00
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
Profile Homepage #8
The Solberg incident might be instructive for discussion, really. The community has some members (I can think of about three or four prominent ones) who are more likely to explode than give constructive feedback. I think that Alcritas overreacted to Solberg, and we lost a skilled designer that way. I don't mean to say that plagiarism is okay, but just that Solberg was probably pretty young, probably was a big fan of Alcritas's work, and probably wanted to make something just as cool as Alcritas had.

What struck me when I first read that archive, and Djur point it out again when he and I talked about it a few months ago, is that Alcritas made no visible effort to instruct or reconcile. He brought the full strength of his rhetoric against Solberg as soon as the issue came up. He was far too angry far too quickly. Yes, Solberg did something very bad. However, he was probably too young to know just how bad it was. Most of my plagiarism knowledge comes from speeches that English teachers gave me in high school; if he was younger than that, he wouldn't have heard much about the issue.

This would be less important if it were an isolated incident. However, it is far from that. Archmagi Micael made a scenario called Undead Valley. It was bad. He was told repeatedly by many people, his beta testers, that it was so bad that he shouldn't release it. He never did. BoA doesn't exactly have so many scenarios that it can afford not to get new ones.

My beta testers were so scathing and not constructive that I nearly decided not to release Bahssikava.

BoA needs new scenarios and new designers. The reason that we aren't getting them isn't just that BoA is hard to use. We as a community are responsible for this. Even a bad scenario is better than no scenario at all. By the time we submit to the First BoA Contest, we might barely have enough scenarios to award places 1-10; BoE was far beyond that mark.

So what do we do? We need to encourage new designers much more than we have. We need to stop telling people, "This scenario is so bad that you shouldn't release it." We need to suggest gently, rather than beating new designers on the head. We need to do this if we want the game that we enjoy to survive, if we want anyone to play the scenarios that we make.

--------------------
Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
Warrior
Member # 3978
Profile #9
Thats one of the reasons I'm so reluctant to release my scenario. I'll grant my scenario is a going to be a bit abnormal, as all singleton scenarios are, and I realized I was going to catch a lotta **** for posting it.

But you know what? I'm not actually making my scenario for the community. I'm making it because
I have a great story in my head, I'm going to do my absolute best to convey it properly in my scenario, and I cant rest until I've managed it ;)

And if people wanna ***** at me for that.....well, that's thier problem. Now that might not be the best opinion for a scen. designer to have, that is, the view that they make it for themselves rather than the community, but hey - that's just the way it is.

Either way, back on topic, the BoE community seems pretty well established and all. It has a lot of flaws, we've admitted that. Does anyone have any ideas for how to fix them, or at least now that BoA is out, keeping them from moving over to the BoA community?

[ Sunday, February 06, 2005 06:45: Message edited by: Solodric ]
Posts: 125 | Registered: Friday, February 13 2004 08:00
The Establishment
Member # 6
Profile #10
The BoE community is essentially the BoA community. We cannot distinguish between the two because they exist together with free flow in between. I consider myself part of the Blades Designing Community, not either BoE or BoA.

The animosity between Jeff and the Blades community is there for good reason. He made many claims of support and reneged those offers, tactlessly at times, repeatedly. Now he does not even provide ANY support for the BoE scenario tables. They have even resorted to openly insulting people who to complain. Taking the 15 minutes to update the tables once a month would be satisfactory compared to the countless hours his customers invest into his product. All the while this is going on he extolls the virtues of the scenarios to sell his product.

The community members get frustrated with people who pass judgment without fully understanding the situation. Remember such feelings grew after years and years of neglect and abuse. With BoA, he is doing a much better job and is repairing the relations with the Blades community. I give him credit for that, but time will tell if he continues to show support.

As far as supporting new designers, the community is helpful in this respect. Although there are some who can be unconstructive at times, generally the people there are quite helpful if approached with intelligent and well formed questions.

Scenario design, like any creative venture, is brutal work. The Blades community is a meritocracy and unafraid to express its opinions. Respect has to be earned. Perhaps there are some that are too harsh, but there is a time harsh criticism is necessary. Coddling crap generally only makes more crap. If we say what is good and what is bad about each work, we can work to improve.

What is irritating is when some newer designer comes in with tired old ideas and very little contribution and wants to revolutionize the community based on mere suggestion. When you start at any place of employment, you generally do not start as the white knight dictating change. This alienates you from management and co-workers. You have to work in the system before you can change it. This is true of just about every real human social structure.

Do we need more scenarios? Yes, but we should also ensure that the scenarios released are of acceptable quality as well.

--------------------
Your flower power is no match for my glower power!!
Posts: 3726 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Warrior
Member # 3978
Profile #11
It's a shame people cant use bodylanguage online to express thoughts, otherwise I wouldn't have to write this as I am. *I, if your accusing me, and note the IF in that statement, of being a newbie trying to make change with mere suggestion, your incorrect. I merely decided to bring this up for conversational purposes.

I felt it would both offer insight into the community for newcomers, as well as be somewhat entertaining as a topic of conversation.

If you were not accusing me of that....be more clear next time? :P
Posts: 125 | Registered: Friday, February 13 2004 08:00
Triad Mage
Member # 7
Profile Homepage #12
About Solberg - I beta-tested Solberg's second scenario, which was basically a copy of Of Good And Evil. We did not lose a designing talent. It was Of Good And Evil (down to the volcano with a dragon) in a much rougher form. I kept telling him during the beta-testing that it all looked too similar to Alcritas' scenarios, but would never admit to even playing them.

--------------------
"At times discretion should be thrown aside, and with the foolish we should play the fool." - Menander
====
Drakefyre's Demesne - Happy Happy Joy Joy
desperance.net - We're Everywhere
====
You can take my Mac when you pry my cold, dead fingers off the mouse!
Posts: 9436 | Registered: Wednesday, September 19 2001 07:00
BANNED
Member # 4
Profile Homepage #13
"But a significant part of the reason I never got into BoE was that the community could be downright savage against preceived transgressions. Particularly in two areas: the degree to which Jeff released updates, and the brutality inflicted upon beginner scenario designers."

1) The patches would be easy to create. Heck, Jeff could have BoE spit out v2.0 scenarios with a message saying "Download the v2.0 patch at our website" for registered users. Or furthermore, he could make it abandonware. Thing is, there are LOTS of unfixed bugs in BoE, and he had the flimsiest of excuses for not fixing them. It didn't ruin the product, but it was fraud that was denied repeatedly. Furthermore, the "customer service" given has been nothing short of awful. Now this is not against JV in particular, but Mariann was incompetent, and Strout (who now runs the Spidweb tables) is beyond incompetent and is also patently rude. The company coverage of this game has been atrocious, and we have the right to be upset.

(In fact, has Jeff given ANY response to the long list of requests we sent to him a while back?)

2) I don't know about the rest of the designers out there, but I was 11 when I made Streila Spies and Unbalanced Accounts, and I certainly didn't get the friendliest of greetings- In fact, I spent a good year or two getting nothing in the way of criticisms. Now while the unending criticisms here isn't exactly a peachy medium, the amount of feedback a beginner can experience because of this involved community is better by far. (And also, apart from Archimagi Micael, there really hasn't been any eviscerating to speak of.)

"What struck me when I first read that archive, and Djur point it out again when he and I talked about it a few months ago, is that Alcritas made no visible effort to instruct or reconcile. He brought the full strength of his rhetoric against Solberg as soon as the issue came up."

Kelandon, imagine that you are an acclaimed writer, and you hold a writing contest with a cash prize. Somebody whose age you cannot determine hands you a manuscript that is basically things you wrote cut out of your books and glued onto his paper. And then, imagine that there is nothing else good being written, and that you have virtually nothing else to speak of. Solberg insulted Alcritas by trying to submit amalgams of his scenarios to HIS contest for CASH when BLADES WAS DYING. Okay, Al didn't act like the Dali Lama, but he was perfectly within his rights to be angry.

"BoA doesn't exactly have so many scenarios that it can afford not to get new ones."

I think we've been over this. The only person who went from making bad ones to making good ones has been me, and it took me a good 2 years to pierce the 8.0 mark. Now, on the other hand, I do it as a matter of course. What changed that was not a community-based action, though; it was the passage of time and literary maturity. Heck, Drakey who beta'd Streila told me that it shouldn't be released. I barely received a modicum of praise (read as: I got none) for UA. And then I made Inn of Blades, and people liked it. So yeah- maybe Micael himself has promise. No, he definitely does. It's just that UV itself is feces.

"My beta testers were so scathing and not constructive that I nearly decided not to release Bahssikava."
I'm destructive because some of that scenario deserves destroying. :P Yer old enough that some of these lessons should be obvious to you- for instance, combining demons, undead and dragons in a single scenario. You've improved it greatly since then, but the original beta was painful to play. So what if we spoke harshly? (I don't remember being that harsh, although since the testers' comments were so overreaching, it was probably overdone.) It made you change the scenario and realize what your true design convictions were. That's good.

"The reason that we aren't getting them isn't just that BoA is hard to use."

Maybe so, but that's the most significant reason in my mind. To wit: Of the 8 scenarios produced, only 2 were done by people who did not make a scenario for Blades of Exile. You too are a BoE designer, and you'll end up lowering the percentage to 22%. (Smoo will raise it to 30% when he releases Backwater Calls.) Like it or not, the BoA community at large is the BoE community. The audience has changed, but the playwrights remain the same.

"But you know what? I'm not actually making my scenario for the community. I'm making it because
I have a great story in my head, I'm going to do my absolute best to convey it properly in my scenario, and I cant rest until I've managed it"

Nobody will fault you for that. Nobody stays around if, after being insulted, they aren't making scenarios for their own sakes.

"It has a lot of flaws, we've admitted that."

Wait, we have? And another thing- the BoA community is the BoE community.

--------------------
人 た ち を 燃 え る た め に 俺 は か れ ら に 火 を 上 げ る か ら 死 ん だ
Posts: 6936 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
...b10010b...
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #14
I think part of the problem is inherent in the fact that we're an established community. The older members are comfortable with slinging the occasional blunt criticism each other's way for a bad scenario, because there's a certain sense of camaraderie between us and we all understand each other's style. New members aren't used to the fact that, for example, TM swears incessantly for emphasis and can fly into a rage at the slightest provocation, so if he betatests their scenario and sends a somewhat colourful report back, they can get the wrong idea and become discouraged.

--------------------
My BoE Page
Bandwagons are fun!
Roots
Hunted!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
BANNED
Member # 4
Profile Homepage #15
(And keep in mind, I haven't flown off the handle in as long as I can remember- people whose scenarios I've tested can attest to this.)

--------------------
人 た ち を 燃 え る た め に 俺 は か れ ら に 火 を 上 げ る か ら 死 ん だ
Posts: 6936 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
Profile Homepage #16
quote:
Originally written by Solomon Strokes:
So what if we spoke harshly?
Maybe you weren't paying attention. I almost didn't release the scenario. Saying that you criticized because it deserved criticism doesn't change the fact that the community nearly lost a scenario that was going to be reasonably good.

If anything, the fact that the BoA designing community is essentially the same as the BoE designing community supports my point: it's hard for new members to break into this.

We need to criticize without discouraging.

--------------------
Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
BANNED
Member # 4
Profile Homepage #17
Kel, you didn't understand my point. If you include those who have scenarios in beta or have demonstrated that they have the ability to produce scenarios, there are very few.

Let me put it this way- The BoA community can't insult somebody who for all intents and purposes does not exist, and with the exception of Micael (and that's going back a bit as well), none of the new designers have been openly insulted, or privately either, to the best of my knowledge. It's just that nobody has shown that ability thusfar, EXCEPT for the people from the BoE Community. It's not like there's a "mystical barrier of community evilness" preventing people from designing- and like Stareye said, even if there WERE a barrier, it would be one that exists so that people don't get the impression that we coddle crap.

Re Bahss: I never expected you to take things so seriously, especially considering how legitimate and plainly obvious a complaint like "there are too many Haakai" is. Or looking at things from a different perspective: I am at my liberty to inflict the amount of pain in my beta reports as the Catacombs level or the entirety of demon-Bahssikava inflicted on my playing experience. (Hell, moreso, beta'ing isn't a privelige when done competently, and I doubt that you could call my +300 error reports a slipshod job.) I expected you to be mature about it, and since you're still releasing it, you have been. When somebody complains at you harshly, it's usually out of disappointment for a poorer quality than expected, but also out of expectation of a much better product upon release. I would watch my words around somebody who I thought was younger, but I never thought I'd have to with someone of your age.

--------------------
人 た ち を 燃 え る た め に 俺 は か れ ら に 火 を 上 げ る か ら 死 ん だ
Posts: 6936 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
Profile Homepage #18
TM: Being nice to people doesn't have anything to do with age.

--------------------
Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
BANNED
Member # 4
Profile Homepage #19
Maybe so. But putting Haakai, Dark Wyrms, level +50 undead on a regular basis, et al in your scenario most likely does. Furthermore, when confronted with this stuff, you started to justify the haakai- "Well, those 8 are actually 4..." (And PS- I still don't know how to "stir up a commotion" in that area.) I'd like to think I was rightfully miffed. -_-

Anyway, the point is that you fixed things. Sorry if I offended you- I just want you to apologize for forcing me to slay more demons than Americans died at Antietam. ;)

--------------------
人 た ち を 燃 え る た め に 俺 は か れ ら に 火 を 上 げ る か ら 死 ん だ
Posts: 6936 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Lack of Vision
Member # 2717
Profile #20
I'd like to say that I disagree with the dichotomy of either be unrelenting in criticism or coddle crap.

It is true that, despite BoA's success in sales (as confirmed by Jeff in an interview on Mac Radio), scenarios aren't popping up. I think in part it is the difficulty of learning how to do even basic things, like script dialogue. But don't you think that it might also be slightly discouraging to download what seems to be a creative, fun and good scenario, and seeing people declare it a hopeless failure with no plot and not worth playing except for the technical features?

My point is that there must be some way to encourage new designers to practice - release more basic scenarios - if nothing else, so they can learn what to do better next time. You can argue that they're free to do it now, but how motivated is someone going to be if their scenario draws negative, sometimes abusive, reviews? How many people are going to work on a second scenario rather than say "to hell with it - my entertainment time is limited and I don't need this aggrevation!"?

S - your analogy to the workplace is flawed because there you're paying someone to do a job - and if they can't, or won't, you have to act. This is a purely voluntary effort, one that consumes someone's precious free time. At the least they deserve respect for trying. And encouraging members who are just learning the craft to experience creating a scenario from start to finish isn't "coddling crap" if you place it in the context of a learning, capacity building, process.

Some may think that making the barrier of entry extremely high will promote better quality scenarios. I'm sure it does, but it also discourages more casual designers from attempting, and perhaps learning enough to really contribute great designs. I have played a couple of BoA scenarios some time ago, but I haven't in about 8 months, and don't think I'll do so again. What fun is a game development system if you don't develop games? And what fun is it to release games to a decreasing pool of players? I think K has a strong point when he says the BoA cannot afford to lose scenarios at this point.

About twelve years ago, a game design system called Unlimited Adventures was released, and shortly thereafter, an online community began exchanging designs and encouraging new members to create designs. There are now, literally, thousands of designs available. A number of them really suck, but some are fantastic! I would be willing to bet that some of those designs are at least as good, if not better, than anything the BoE community created. One excellent, and relatively uncommon, feature of the UA community was a constant encouragement of new members. They held special beginner design contests. They had a newsletter with a regular section called "beginner's corner" that introduced basic and medium-difficulty design concepts. To this day, the UA community greets new members, encourages their efforts, and works with them to improve. You can call that "coddling crap", but it worked extremely well, and some of the best designs were created by people who started with rather poor first efforts (for instance, Ben Sanderfer's first designs were not good, but he wrote what is considered a masterpiece called "Dark Alliances").

The comparison isn't perfect because UA was less complicated than BoA, but they did find a way to keep the game fresh with contributions from hundreds of gamers. And, if anything, because of the more daunting technical skills necessary to create a BoA scenario, even a basic one, should put a higher premium on encouraging new players.

So there you have it - I think the self-styled "community" could use a dose of humility, perhaps create formal mechanisms to encourage new designers (Such as a beginner design competition, and beginner design documents), and hopefully realize that, in the long run, BoA will be enriched if more talents (even if a number of them begin as small talents) do try.

Z

[ Monday, February 07, 2005 05:44: Message edited by: Zorro ]

--------------------
Pan Lever: Seventeen apple roving mirror moiety. Of turned quorum jaggedly the. Blue?
Posts: 186 | Registered: Thursday, February 27 2003 08:00
Warrior
Member # 4484
Profile #21
There's something I don't get: why there is so much BoE scenario and just eight (sorry if I missed something) BoA scenarios ?

If it's just a matter of time, I don't understand why you're all deseperate...
If no, what it means ? Is TM the only scenario writter ?

I think, there's gonna be new players who's gonna make new scenario, just have to wait. How was it at the release of BoE ? I wasn't here.

The thing is, if someone make a really meaningless scenario (I think about Archmagi Micael, who makes two scenarios, what I've bate-tested), you can't "be nice" to him. You can told him that his scenario need more punch, a better plot, or whatever, but the undeniable truth is here: your scenario isn't enjoyable ! You can't say:"Mmh, interesting...Continue like that, and in some years, you're gonna make a good one !".

The problem is some people just don't have any ideas about what make a good scenario, and what make a bad one. Excuse me, it sounds pretty agressive, but, if you have played some Avernum or Exile games, if you have played some BoE scenario, you know what's about.

I've just read the Drakefyre's plot help on his site. It's just what all begginers need. Don't put a thousand monsters in a room, just align. Think about the story. Why is there this kind of creature here ?

Gee, it's not that difficult ! Haven't you read books, haven't you play paper rpg ? I can understand the programming problems: I can't do it, I just don't understand the thing. But peoples who write scenarios and want them beta-tested can do it. It's just an inspiration problem. It's like writing a book: everyone of us can write, yes ? (Hum, I mean, in our native language, excuse my english :) ). It doesn't mean we're all Moorcock, or Lovecraft, or Tolkien. We just don't have the talent to tell story.

Of course, some will make bad scenarios, and after some try, they're gonna make great ones. But some just can't, they're not good narrators.

It's elitist, but, eeh, you want to be an artist, and it's how it works. If you make a scenario and the beta-testers just say "stop writting scenario", "please go kill yourself", or "for the love of god, just stop sending me your trash !", it doesn't mean that you have to stop...It means what you've really missed something ! Don't try again now. Make a pause, try to analyse the good scenarios you've played to, take some hollidays, get some inspirations in the books or movies you like...(I haven't say in other's people scenarios !)

I've try to be a professional musician, but I can't. So I've just stop playing for some times, and I will try again, with a new...how to say...point of view ? After that, if I know I can't do it, I'm just gonna stop, it will just be unreachable dream. Let's try something else.

Excuse me, it sounds really ugly, but it's just what I think, and I didn't mean to offense anyone. Hope I don't gonna be banned in Avernum for what I've said... :)

--------------------
"Il est interdit de se battre sur le Champ du Massacre; dit-il avant de marquer une pause, le temps de reflechir a la logique de ses propos."

Discworld, The Colour of Magic
Posts: 178 | Registered: Monday, June 7 2004 07:00
Lack of Vision
Member # 2717
Profile #22
No offense was taken by your reply - but I will say this:

Which of the following alternatives is a more constructive course of action if you're beta testing someone's first scenario and you find a combat room rull of demons?

(1) Tell them they are a terrible designer and should never release this scenario, and just for good measure, compare their skills to human excrement.

or

(2) Ask them "Why did you put a room full of demons in that dungeon? What was the plot point you were trying to advance?"

Option one is likely to lead to a frustrated designer, one who potentially will abandon the community before they've had a chance to produce anything good. Option two uses questions to understand the designer's motivation and ideas, and then perhaps use his or her answers to suggest improvements ("I was trying to capture the feel of an epic final battle", "well then, I would recommend making on modified huge demon with severla imp servants..." etc.)

Also, it isn't elitist to say that some people can't tell good stories - that is just a fact of life. But it is silly to accuse someone of not being able to tell a story after seeing their first effort. Maybe the designer didn't know that some articles of guidance existed (and you can point them out), maybe they tried to do something really unique and interesting, but their coding skills were not up to the challenge. Maybe, even, English isn't their native language, and some grammar corrections turn a "horrible" design into an absolute gem. The point is no one is qualified to pass judgement on someone's future potential, in this area, based on their first efforts. Shakespeare's first play is widely considered to be terrible.

If you really think that BoA is best served as is, then enjoy it and the handful of scenarios that emerge. If you think it could be a more vibrant and fun community with more participants, then create the conditions that allow for beginners to participate (or at least don't deny this is a problem!). But right now, the barriers of entry are so high, and peer support is so low (for completely new beginners), that the trickle of designed scenarios is unlikely to grow into a stream.

In a certain sense, I think that the scenario editor is too unpolished anyway. The scenario editor documents are very poorly written, and the organization of contents isn't presented in a logical way. The document offers grammatically twisted explanations for how scripting works, and then assures you that, if you don't understand it, just try it and eventually it will make sense.

I think an excellent way to help budding designers is for someone who knows, and understands, the BoA editor, to write tutorial that takes a reader from the start to the end of the scenario design process - including writing dialogue scripts, quests, etc. - explaining things every step of the way. Jeff's "tutorial" is inadequate to teach someone anything except how to place a couple of walls and a couple of enemies. His tutorial ends at about chapter 2 of what should be a 20 chapter tutorial.

Z

--------------------
Pan Lever: Seventeen apple roving mirror moiety. Of turned quorum jaggedly the. Blue?
Posts: 186 | Registered: Thursday, February 27 2003 08:00
BANNED
Member # 4
Profile Homepage #23
"I'd like to say that I disagree with the dichotomy of either be unrelenting in criticism or coddle crap."

Presume that all criticisms are opinions- okay. Presume that all authors don't necessarily want to hear criticisms- okay. Nevertheless, the community can only define what is crap by means of criticism. It's not like "criticism" is tantamount to "calling something utter crap" or "not affording it complements"; many people criticise my design convictions to no end, and still recognize my achievements. Stareye had Emulations get a piss-poor reaction from a slew of high names, only to have it win a contest. So yeah- the dichatomy is one between unrelenting criticism and cottling crap.

"But don't you think that it might also be slightly discouraging to download what seems to be a creative, fun and good scenario, and seeing people declare it a hopeless failure with no plot and not worth playing except for the technical features?"
I assume you're referring to Canopy. If so, then not really: I exist mostly in a separate genre than the entirety of the community at large, and I've been diverging ever so slowly from everyone else since I made Bandits.

If the author is trying to design a traditional scenario, then the author should listen to the criticisms given and adopt them to future works; hell, the community can even shape someone's writing skills in general to a higher degree.

"How many people are going to work on a second scenario rather than say "to hell with it - my entertainment time is limited and I don't need this aggrevation!"?"

I, for one- in fact, that's what I did. A combination of my own convictions with criticisms by the communtiy did it. You either design to pass free time, design to "win," or design to tell a story out of a sincere enjoyment of telling it- the best scenarios only come from the latter of the three, and somebody inspired to do such a thing will probably give it a few more shots before biting the dust, whereas the others give up as a matter of course.

"Some may think that making the barrier of entry extremely high will promote better quality scenarios."

You seem to be under the illusion that we "endlessly bash" poor scenarios.
1) Better that than reward them without a sign of criticism
2) A designer who cannot take constructive criticism, since I cannot remember the last designer who was genuinely gang-raped since Bain, likely needs to mature more before creating a final product
3) Your supposition is simply wrong; that sort of thing isn't done, and you'll find that sub-mediocre scenarios are often treated very respectively. (For instance, I treated Death at Chapman's quite well in beta-testing, even if nothing short of a remake could have made it anything more than mediocre.)

"I would be willing to bet that some of those designs are at least as good, if not better, than anything the BoE community created."
Bull shit.

"They held special beginner design contests. They had a newsletter with a regular section called "beginner's corner" that introduced basic and medium-difficulty design concepts."

Olympia Scenario Design Contests include sections for newcomers, and there are tons of areas with tips for beginners, nevermind the fact that BoE comes with documentation, coupled with the fact that the community is courteous with answering coding questions. Articles for BoA are VERY designer-friendly, and provide the most basic of hints. We do all of that and more.

"...and some of the best designs were created by people who started with rather poor first efforts (for instance, Ben Sanderfer's first designs were not good, but he wrote what is considered a masterpiece called "Dark Alliances")."

(Ahem- remember who is speaking here.)

"The comparison isn't perfect because UA was less complicated than BoA, but they did find a way to keep the game fresh with contributions from hundreds of gamers."

And BoA/BoE is more complex, with fewer contributing gamers, and a pittance of long-standing ones. Hmm...

"The Community" has little humility and high standards- and the best damned scenarios available as a result of it. We do not coddle crap, nor do we bash unrelentingly- what the community does is what it has to do.

--------------------
人 た ち を 燃 え る た め に 俺 は か れ ら に 火 を 上 げ る か ら 死 ん だ
Posts: 6936 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
Profile Homepage #24
quote:
Originally written by Blaspheme:
How was it at the release of BoE ?
By this point in BoE's existence (nearly a year after release), there were many, many more BoE scenarios than there are BoA scenarios now (although most of them were quite bad). As far as I know, by this point TRK had released IoW and Tatter, Brett Bixler had released RotS and QotS, and Ben Frank had released TiM, all of which are quite good and rate over 7.0 on the Lyceum's CSR. (I base this on the fact that those scenarios are listed in the First Contest Results.)

Many, many other scenarios had been made — the designers who placed in the First Contest made at least fifteen scenarios altogether, and a sizable number of scenarios had been made that didn't place, like Compositus.

The difference is really striking, even to someone who wasn't there either.

quote:
Gee, it's not that difficult !
This, I believe, is where you're wrong. Creating good scenarios is difficult, especially when it's judged by standards that seem non-sensical to someone new to the field. More on that at the bottom.

quote:
Originally written by Solomon Strokes:
"How many people are going to work on a second scenario rather than say "to hell with it - my entertainment time is limited and I don't need this aggrevation!"?"

I, for one- in fact, that's what I did.

TM, I think it's fair to say that you're the exception.

I think — and I was going to make a topic on this after I finished Bahssikava, so I'm only jumping the gun a little bit here — that the main community of Blades has diverged quite considerably from the standard place of new members. I mean that the community most primarily rewards scenarios (via rating points, feedback, whatever) that are made in ways dissimilar to Jeff Vogel's design patterns. However, new members to the community are almost invariably going to have enjoyed Jeff Vogel's design patterns; that's why they bought the game.

I feel — and have always felt — that the jump between playing Jeff Vogel's work and playing the top-ranked Blades scenarios is huge, probably too huge for a lot of people to manage. An Apology is supposed to be a fun scenario, but I've never been able to make it past the first combat. Redemption is supposed to be one of the best, but I couldn't figure out what to do in it. I haven't even bothered to try Revenge, since I know that I wouldn't be able to get anywhere in it. And so on.

It would be nice if there were some sort of obvious bridge for players between Vogel's work and our own, and I intended Bahssikava to be part of that bridge, although the changes to the Tunnels have mangled that idea.

I've wandered a bit far afield, but what I'm trying to say is that most new members won't be sick of Vogel-style combat yet. Most people who play Blades (not the ones who speak up, but the ones who play) will have totally different standards than the ones who have played a three-digit number of scenarios. We should keep in mind that that our ideas of what makes a good scenario are not necessarily the only ones that a person could reasonably have.

It was amazing to me to realize that despite the fact that we have dozens of articles on how to make a good plot (and various other facets of design), we have next to nothing on how to make good combat — yes, we have a few on monster design, but not on what makes combat interesting — and zero, absolutely zero, on puzzles. With such a total lack of guidance, is it any wonder that only BoE-ers can make BoA scenarios? Is it any wonder that two of the three scenarios made by non-BoE-ers have scored lower than any other scenarios for BoA?

I don't know. There was some point here that related directly to the discussion, but I admit that I lost it somewhere along the line and just started rambling.

--------------------
Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00

Pages