CIEL FINALLY BITES AND MAKES A TOPIC

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Ciel
an aristocrat of rpgmaker culture
243
after seeing the staff more or less sweeping many of the best ideas and suggestions in Strangeluv's topic under the carpet I decided to make this reply in a topic of its own because it is probably the most important thing i will ever write here.

Dear Staff,

Yes, it's your right to decide how to do things. But as the people running a user contributed content (UCC) site you at some point have to take a look at the how these decisions are being received by your user base and affecting the site's well-being and potentially reassess your methods. I have seen a troubling level of defensiveness and self righteousness from some of the current staff when questioned, so this may come as a shock for those select individuals, but the goal is not to do things YOUR WAY or to shine a light on your favorite obscure game. Your responsibility as staff is to 1) tend to the site's health and nuture your userbase's creativity 2) make it an attractive place to work on and showcase creative products, bringing in fresh users and their projects. Getting your pet game a few downloads at the expense of either one of these goals is -stupid-.

The featured game is a very very powerful tool. Why? Because it occupies the most significant portion of RMN's most valuable resource: the front page. It is RMN's primary avenue of content delivery and communication with its users, whether they be first time visitors or long time members. I honestly can't understand how this isn't immediately obvious to everyone involved, but you are going about this all wrong - there is such unrest over the featured game because of a disconnect between the staff's intent and the public's perceived importance and significance of that particular venue. Bad news for the staff; the public is correct about the featured game's importance due to the reasons I have described.

An extremely successful UCC site will tend to communicate with its users via the front page in a meaningful, relevant, and invigorating fashion that fosters a sense of creativity, activity, and community. Snews, for example, is generally not very effective as an article because it doesn't investigate anything in depth or provide new information - it regurgitates events that most everyone is already aware of. (But then again, it's the staff's only real sign of a pulse and in that sense is welcome.) The only compelling part of it is the interviews, which are too short generally and really should be expanded into a dedicated feature rather than being a literal footnote on a recap article. The key to engaging and productive interaction between a site's staff and userbase is that any content (articles, features) released on the front page should generate POSITIVE ACTION. That's two words - it should generate an action of some sort (discussion resulting in the birth of new ideas, perspectives, or products) and this action should be positive (healthy for the user base and by extension content generation). Articles, interviews, and features are all tools that can and should provide insight, perspective, and inspiration.

Featured games should be representative of the community's finest work and a sign post to the outside world - 'Hey, look at the amazing things we make here, you should come and make amazing things with us!'. More than that, being featured should absolutely be something users aspire to - an achievement and honor one can work towards by improving the quality of their work. It may sound 'shallow' to those who strictly advocate making games for oneself, but the prestige factor within a community that is respected can be a big motivational boost. (Thinking about how cool it'll be when everyone likes the game you're working on is an oasis on the horizon in the scorching desert of development.) These sorts of things generate 'positive action'. Putting an obscure game that you, as a select few staff members think 'deserves' exposure in that venerable position on the main page is like jamming a square peg in a round hole - it creates NEGATIVE action. Due to the disconnect in perception i have described, many users are merely bewildered by your choices. Rather than generating inspiration, perspective, and discussion tending towards the ultimate goal of - more videogames, better videogames - it causes doubt, questioning, bitterness, etc.

If you want to spoon-feed your userbase your favorite games that they have heretofore passed over due to indifference or ignorance, it is best that you do so in a more subtle fashion. Write a thorough article about it once a month or create a new section of the site dedicated to 'staff picks'. A thoughtful opinion article on the merits of an obscure title by a member of the staff will be more likely to generate positive interaction in the form of analytical discussion and academic debate over design strengths and weaknesses. The poisonous response resulting from the perceived injustice of putting a rather evidently inferior product on the pedestal in place of a 'more deserving' title will no longer be a factor. Believe you me, this is a huge thing. I have had discussions with people both inside and outside this community who find it staggering that the staff here have passed over titles that were celebrated on numerous other sites in favor of games whose merits are, at best, difficult to grasp.

The featured game is important - so important that it should not even be changed if there is no suitable successor. If it must be changed and there are no candidates, hold a game making contest and feature the winner. Eyes Without a Face, a recent contest entry, was actually a wonderful candidate for a feature for several reasons. It utilized REFMAP graphics in RMVX, which is not often (if ever) done and could potentially expand the palette of VX users who hadn't previously considered graphics conversion, let alone using anything other than RTP. Think back to the year 2000! Playing innovative RM games opened possibilities and presented new ideas to us. Seeing the innumerable tricks people used to achieve various effects was what gradually raised our standards. Anyone else have their world blown open after playing Kindred Saga? Yeah. It's important to expose games that do something new or different, because people learn and go on to make better products! This is especially true for the new generation whose first exposure to game making is RMVX - they are in the position now that we twenty-somethings were in at the release of RM2K (except they don't have the benefit of having grown up playing the 16-bit style games RM is capable of creating, and so are possibly in even greater need of guidance by example.)

i like to think of a successful UCC site as an 'engine for inspiration'. Rather than being a very static, even stagnant, dumping ground for people's work, it helps generate a snowball effect wherein people are inspired to create better and better work by observing the creations and perspectives of others in the same field. For those of you who have been in the RM scene for a long, long while, when you hear people talking about the 'good old days' at GW or whatever their personal RM alma mater is, they always mention how INSPIRING it was to log in and look at all the cool games and projects people were working on. There is a distinct lack of that nowadays in the English-speaking community, and that is in part because there are no longer any effective, structured UCC sites. RMN could be something really special, it could even completely reinvigorate the amateur game making scene. But not as long as the staff continue along the seemingly narrow minded, self righteous, and ultimately self destructive path they are on now. If the current staff, or future additions or replacements begin to observe the principles set forth in this post (that means doing actual work and investing at least as much thought into this site and the state of the greater game making community as I have) great things can happen.

People ARE watching RMN. There are consequences to what is done with the front page. I visit French and German RM sites, and they occasionally discuss what is happening here. Lately the consensus re: this site has not been so good. They are similarly baffled by the choice of features as many here have been and, as human beings are wont to do, make generalizations about the 'strange/bad tastes' of the community as a whole. It's troubling to see comments dismissing this site as silly or of poor standards from external sources who are not familiar with any of the individual personalities involved here. It makes one wonder how RMN is perceived by those whose thoughts we don't get insight to - the individual looking for a community to invest his creativity into, whose primary measure of this site's worth is the game it chose to feature, and more to the point, the overall potency of its front page content.

The staff have a lot of work to do going forward if they want to exploit the full strengths and potential of a UCC site. WIP created something really cool here, a framework GW would've killed to have five years ago and everything needed to build an amateur game creation mecca. Best start thinking about the greater good of the RM scene, because you are in the best position to be its saviors. Make use of this opportunity! If the ultimate point of this post is still unclear, here's the staff's job in three simple rules;

Elevate shining examples of game creation so that others might learn.

Reward exceptional effort so creators are given additional motivation and sense of purpose.

Examine and revere achievements in design so that others might be inspired.

Ciel
Featured games should be representative of the community's finest work and a sign post to the outside world - 'Hey, look at the amazing things we make here, you should come and make amazing things with us!'. More than that, being featured should absolutely be something users aspire to - an achievement and honor one can work towards by improving the quality of their work. It may sound 'shallow' to those who strictly advocate making games for oneself, but the prestige factor within a community that is respected can be a big motivational boost. (Thinking about how cool it'll be when everyone likes the game you're working on is an oasis on the horizon in the scorching desert of development.) These sorts of things generate 'positive action'. Putting an obscure game that you, as a select few staff members think 'deserves' exposure in that venerable position on the main page is like jamming a square peg in a round hole - it creates NEGATIVE action. Due to the disconnect in perception i have described, many users are merely bewildered by your choices. Rather than generating inspiration, perspective, and discussion tending towards the ultimate goal of - more videogames, better videogames - it causes doubt, questioning, bitterness, etc.


THIS. Although, I'm afraid that once again nobody will listen this point. I've brought this up at least 15 times already and its been passed off every single time.
*round of applause*

Now PM the ideas to a staff.
It's too bad they'll probably all ignore that.
Craze
i bet she's a diva with a potion popping problem
13715
*Craze IMs Karsuman
<Craze> (link) hi he's right
tardis
is it too late for ironhide facepalm
285
posting in an incredible topic. B)

seriously, staff dudes. ciel's got it right.
Well... though I 100% agree with every single point of this, I've been feeling very unmotivated to discuss this things anymore. Cause no one seems to care. There was some pretty cool discussion at the The public should vote for the next featured game topic. It was long before anyone from the staff posted anything, and what they had to say was:

Sorry guys, the Featured Game is not a popularity contest.

who the fuck cares?

On the subject of LL, it met my criteria, which is simply "some people really enjoyed it."

Or just

please PM me with your suggestions and reasons why you suggested them.

Cause a couple of dramaful topics is not enough.

This is bleak.

Sorry kentona, I wasn't attacking you or anything. It's actually even sadder that the people who are more involved with Featured Games pick didn't even say anything.
Each featured game has show-cased several quality elements or characteristics beyond being visually appealing or having made good use of scripting. I'm not too excited about Legendary Legends being a featured game because it shares little in common to the others, but it still deserved the chance.
halibabica
RMN's Official Reviewmonger
13918
I do agree with what Ciel said in that massive dissertation (yes, I read it all), but it doesn't solve our problem so much as it defines it.

The issue we're facing here is the purpose of the featured game itself. Darken summed it up before (I think), but there are pretty much two schools of thought on it:

1. Featured game should be something of great quality that the community is proud of and showcases its capabilities (as Ciel described above)

2. Featured game should shed light on a quality game that was overlooked and deserves more attention.

I don't believe these two purposes are mutually exclusive, as some games may be quite good and have slipped through the cracks. But there are problems facing both of them.

The trouble with featuring only 'the best' is...who decides what's 'best?' Quality is a very subjective thing. There are some cases where it's more clear than others, but when it comes to the things that make a game enjoyable (and therefore, by opinion, good), everyone has different tastes and voicing your opinion louder than everyone else doesn't make you right.

Then, there's the trouble of games that only look good. Remember Lux Licentia? This is a game that looks good. The artwork is stunning, and having something like this on the frontpage as featured would make RMN look oh so awesome. But you know what? This game is a nightmare to play. It has no business being featured because it's nearly broken in several areas.

THEN, there's the trouble of games that ARE good but LOOK bad. RTP is generally frowned upon as the mark of 'teh newb', but they can be put to good use by a talented developer. But even at their best, they still look like stupid RTP games. So what happens if you have a game like this that excels in every area...except its looks? The game is the best you've ever played and it looks like garbage. Should it not be featured because it's not pretty enough? Does it not deserve our attention for being a quality product, though its superficial traits disguise it?

This issue isn't nearly as simple as it's being made out to be. I think some established criteria for 'quality' would help in picking future featured games, but we have to be careful in how we make and apply them.

Or we can just feature pretty things regardless of how good or bad they are. Yeah.
Why not have some of the very dedicated reviewers become a sub-section of the staff that is in charge of the featured games and such. They're obviously more inclined to know what sucks or what doesn't (I also recall Kentona saying that he hasn't even played some of the stuff he spotlights, but that may have just been in the SNEWS and didn't have anything to do with the featured games) so shouldn't they be best suited for the job? I mean there's WAY too many games to find which is amazing, but dedicated reviewers seems to be best suited. A general consensus from the community would be okay I suppose, but not everyone here plays the loads of games, just tries out what looks cool and goes with it. Dedicated reviewers take requests and the ones that look shiny. But whatever. It's not like I've actually contributed to anything ever here.

EDIT: This is going under the assumption that the staff is too busy, lazy, thinks it's all a load of crap and lolindiegames. For the sake of tact, I'm leaning towards busy.
kentona
I am tired of Earth. These people. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives.
21237
author=calunio
Well... though I 100% agree with every single point of this, I've been feeling very unmotivated to discuss this things anymore. Cause no one seems to care. There was some pretty cool discussion at the The public should vote for the next featured game topic. It was long before anyone from the staff posted anything, and what they had to say was:

Sorry guys, the Featured Game is not a popularity contest.


who the fuck cares?


On the subject of LL, it met my criteria, which is simply "some people really enjoyed it."


Or just

please PM me with your suggestions and reasons why you suggested them.


Cause a couple of dramaful topics is not enough.

This is bleak.

Sorry kentona, I wasn't attacking you or anything. It's actually even sadder that the people who are more involved with Featured Games pick didn't even say anything.

I am well aware what my weaknesses are when it comes to rmn (game playing). I do not hide that fact. Thus I must trust those around me for their judgments. and I still do trust Soli's and Silv's and hali's judgment.

A couple of bad decisions does not mean that the system requires massive overhaul. nor does the fact that you not getting the response you wanted mean that the "staff are just ignoring everything." I am paying attention. I am reading these posts and comments and I am adapting what I am learning into how I deal with the process.

But yes, i am not going to make the Featured Game a voting-based system at this time. So stop asking.
kentona
I am tired of Earth. These people. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives.
21237
author=Natook
Why not have some of the very dedicated reviewers become a sub-section of the staff that is in charge of the featured games and such. They're obviously more inclined to know what sucks or what doesn't (I also recall Kentona saying that he hasn't even played some of the stuff he spotlights, but that may have just been in the SNEWS and didn't have anything to do with the featured games) so shouldn't they be best suited for the job? I mean there's WAY too many games to find which is amazing, but dedicated reviewers seems to be best suited. A general consensus from the community would be okay I suppose, but not everyone here plays the loads of games, just tries out what looks cool and goes with it. Dedicated reviewers take requests and the ones that look shiny. But whatever. It's not like I've actually contributed to anything ever here.

EDIT: This is going under the assumption that the staff is too busy, lazy, thinks it's all a load of crap and lolindiegames. For the sake of tact, I'm leaning towards busy.
the dedicated reviewers names are Soli and Silv, and formerly hali and Darken.
author=halibabica
I do agree with what Ciel said in that massive dissertation (yes, I read it all), but it doesn't solve our problem so much as it defines it.

The issue we're facing here is the purpose of the featured game itself. Darken summed it up before (I think), but there are pretty much two schools of thought on it:

1. Featured game should be something of great quality that the community is proud of and showcases its capabilities (as Ciel described above)

2. Featured game should shed light on a quality game that was overlooked and deserves more attention.

I don't believe these two purposes are mutually exclusive, as some games may be quite good and have slipped through the cracks. But there are problems facing both of them.

The trouble with featuring only 'the best' is...who decides what's 'best?' Quality is a very subjective thing. There are some cases where it's more clear than others, but when it comes to the things that make a game enjoyable (and therefore, by opinion, good), everyone has different tastes and voicing your opinion louder than everyone else doesn't make you right.

Then, there's the trouble of games that only look good. Remember Lux Licentia? This is a game that looks good. The artwork is stunning, and having something like this on the frontpage as featured would make RMN look oh so awesome. But you know what? This game is a nightmare to play. It has no business being featured because it's nearly broken in several areas.

THEN, there's the trouble of games that ARE good but LOOK bad. RTP is generally frowned upon as the mark of 'teh newb', but they can be put to good use by a talented developer. But even at their best, they still look like stupid RTP games. So what happens if you have a game like this that excels in every area...except its looks? The game is the best you've ever played and it looks like garbage. Should it not be featured because it's not pretty enough? Does it not deserve our attention for being a quality product, though its superficial traits disguise it?


This issue isn't nearly as simple as it's being made out to be. I think some established criteria for 'quality' would help in picking future featured games, but we have to be careful in how we make and apply them.

Or we can just feature pretty things regardless of how good or bad they are. Yeah.

You pretty much hit the nail on the head as far as I'm concerned, especially the bolded, which is the breadth of your point.

As far as "Featured Game" is concerned, it should be reserved for the best of the best. A visually stunning (or aesthetically different) game with nothing else to offer or an uninspired "my RTP adventure lol" (to quote tardis :p) game with bad (subjectively speaking) gameplay aren't going to cut it. The game truly needs to be an example for the community, not just something that "looks good on the front page because of the pretty images." That's how I feel about it.

However, not everyone will agree with the "Featured Game" or proposed games offered by members. Then again, this is true of all subjective media. There will always be a few who do not agree with the many, or many who do not agree with the few.
author=halibabica
Then, there's the trouble of games that only look good. Remember Lux Licentia? This is a game that looks good. The artwork is stunning, and having something like this on the frontpage as featured would make RMN look oh so awesome. But you know what? This game is a nightmare to play. It has no business being featured because it's nearly broken in several areas.

THEN, there's the trouble of games that ARE good but LOOK bad. RTP is generally frowned upon as the mark of 'teh newb', but they can be put to good use by a talented developer. But even at their best, they still look like stupid RTP games. So what happens if you have a game like this that excels in every area...except its looks? The game is the best you've ever played and it looks like garbage. Should it not be featured because it's not pretty enough? Does it not deserve our attention for being a quality product, though its superficial traits disguise it?

why does GRAPHICS have its own separate category of measure why is this a problem

any featured gaem is going to have a playable release so any problems not evident in the shots are going to reveal themselves in a playthrough in other words great graphics wont deceive anyone into thinking a shitty game is a great one and shitty graphics wont deceive anyone into thinking a great game is a shitty one (it doesnt look like lux licentia fooled anyone!)

the move is to feature games that are great as a whole it is not to make the front page look pretty (and even if a game looks like garbage dont you think that the gravity of a FEATURED STATUS prevents ppl from being deterred outright)

halibabica
RMN's Official Reviewmonger
13918
Oh, the irony of this post.

from oh_no_im_melting
why does GRAPHICS have its own separate category of measure why is this a problem
How often do you judge a game by its screenshots? How often do you think a person visiting the site would?

from oh_no_im_melting
(even if a game looks like garbage dont you think that the gravity of a FEATURED STATUS prevents ppl from being deterred outright)
And this isn't exactly what happened with Fable of Heroes and Legendary Legend?
Sailerius
did someone say angels
3304
Why can there only be one featured game? Why not, at the end of every month, highlight some notable games that were completed during that month? That way there's drive for creators to get something done (the prospect of being featured) and there would be less controversy about what game deserved to be featured. Of course, there's still a subjective element (how do you draw the line between what did and did not deserve to be featured), but that's another issue altogether.
author=Sailerius
Why not, at the end of every month, highlight some notable games that were completed during that month?

There would be zero... unless we feature Copyrights vs Patents
YDS
member of the bull moose party
2441
I don't think there are more than one notable games completed each month. I think there is also a space issue.
Sailerius
did someone say angels
3304
Then maybe releases instead of complete games?
YDS
member of the bull moose party
2441
I still don't think you'd get much more than one anyways. Plus you'd have to reorganize the main page to do that, etc. We already have problems finding one worthwhile game per month.
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