TripleA Players and Map-Makers: Please help contribute to the website with your input
The website maps page is still in progress, albeit with some delay. A rudimentary maps page is currently live here on the website, though it is rather bland at the moment, without images, map pages, or much information. Several of you previously gave input on this thread on the other forum. I've taken all of your suggestions and integrated them into a form that I'm posting below for rating maps based on the following metrics:
- Estimated average live playtime
- Balance rating
- Suggested bid (if applicable)
- Complexity rating (out of 5)
- AI Compatibility rating
There are also a few questions at the end for map-makers to give website feedback. The idea of the quiz is to be short so that you can complete it multiple times for different maps.
Thank you for your input to this form. It really helps us populate some of the data needed to give more information to website viewers and get TripleA maps more downloads. I'll be integrating some of these features in the upcoming weeks as time and data allow
I'd suggest embedding this form into the triplea-game website
In my rating system there was a "Well Balanced" in between of "Very Well Balanced" and "Decently Balanced". I'm not actually sure that is good to have, because almost noone would have the skills to discriminate between a "Very Well Balanced" and a "Well Balanced" map, but, in this case, I would rather have only "Well Balanced", that would be the sum of "Well Balanced" and "Very Well Balanced".
What I'm saying is just keep what you did as it is, but rename this way:
"Very Well Balanced"->"Well Balanced"
(besides, it looks strange to jump directly from "Decently" to "Very Well")
Also, the rating system was more like for getting the opinions from the best veteran players of those maps; I don't think an open quitz would have much value, but all good, nice initiative (can't hurt and might be interesting).
For example, there is no doubt whatsoever that New World Order is a Very Well Balanced map; still, periodically, there are people that complain about its balance.
Maybe you should include directly the explanations that you linked (but removing / reformulating the vulgarities), but merging the "Very Well" and "Well" into an "Well" only, reformulating the definition, in the quitz or here in this topic, instead of redirecting there, otherwise you are sending to a page in which you can see my votes on a bunch of maps, and this would influence the votes, obviously.
Second notice, I strongly think that Complexity should be split into 2 parts:
What I mean is:
1: If I take WW2 Revised and change the rules from v2 to v3 only, I'm increasing the Rules Complexity only.
2A: If I take WW2 Revised and I double the productions and the starting income and the starting units and increase the factory cost to 30, but nothing else, I'm increasing the Map/Setup Complexity only.
2B: If I take WW2 Revised and make it into Pact of Steel, no more, no less, I'm increasing the Map/Setup Complexity only.
I can have a very simple rules map with an enormous quantity of units and so much income to create massive stacks, thus extremely hard to manage, like "Ultimate World" or "World at War", or I can have a map with complex rules but easy/small map/setup, like "Pact of Steel 2" or "War of the Relics", or I can have something intermediate in both, like "Lord of the Rings". There is no way you can tell what is more complex of those ones ("War of the Relics" is much harder to learn than "World at War", but definitely easier to play, once you have learned it).
Also, I suggest you remove totally this from the quitz:
Unbalanced: Identifies those games that nobody even tried to balance or nobody knows if anybody did (meaning that maybe they are perfectly balanced, but you don't really know).
This was a thing for the end results (like, in this case, if nobody votes on it at all), but it doesn't make sense on the perspective of someone giving a vote over it, that you would assume actually played the map, then, and have an opinion, on it, otherwise, well... it would not vote (it would just look like a duplicate of "Badly Balanced").
@Cernel Another example, the rules of "Age of Tribes" are enormously more complex than the very simple basic rules of "World at War", if you want to fully memorise all the tech costs and all the units stats/abilities you might get during the game, if you even have the memory to achieve such a feat (quite easy to fully learn the roster for "World at War", instead), but "Age of Tribes" is much easier to play, because the map is smaller, there are less players, and the stacks are much more contained; so you don't need to fry your brain with the calculations.
I think the way to go is just make the "balance" scale simpler. I'd say reduce to just 3-5 different options. Something like:
- Well Balanced
- Decently Balanced
- Poorly Balanced
I think trying to get to a point where we have maps rated and displayed like board game geeks does. So something like this: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/98/axis-allies. Then we could create a basic search/sort.
One additional question that would be good is "recommended number of players".
@redrum It's all subjective anyways... so as long as the response mechanism is reasonably simple.... then there is not really a concern. After all it is really just a general overview of how you feel about the game in question.
Hepps is right that this going to be slightly subjective. I have reduced a few of the options, and added recommended number of players (thanks @redrum).
@Cernel had a concern that he didn't think this was going to be an open form. The concern was justified, but I'm able to see which respondent is the maker of the map, so I can decide later how to use the responses. There might be separate information, one or the other, though I haven't decided.
Now, some of you that are familiar with some of the more obscure maps could really help by giving any information you have. Also, the makers of each map should input information about their map, as well as anyone that is very knowledgeable. This will help to temper the results. Remember, this will be shown prominently on your map's online display and may affect first impressions, so let's get in as many responses as we can.
I think everyone should give their $0.02, though I'll still be able to determine how the data gets used
@Hepps Yeah, everyone will have a different opinion on it. I think my goal is just to make sure its as straightforward as possible so its quick and easy for folks to fill it out.
@theredbaron I think it looks pretty good now after those couple of updates. I think the one question remaining is where to host the link? Just here in the forum? Putting it on the website? Putting a link to it from TripleA? My initial thought is start with it just here in the forum and have some of the more "veteran players and mapmakers" fill it out and provide feedback. Then maybe looking to link to it from the website or TripleA.
Some more nit picking, if you don't mind...
I would expand this definition to:
Poorly Balanced – Identified those games that are not well balanced and few players would want to play them without a non-default bid (usually, the default bid is 0 for all), non-default other options settings, custom restrictions or other non-standard means to rebalance them
For example, you can have a game in which, at default, players have some bids assigned; in such a game, the game would be actually unbalanced if the balance would improve by removing all bids! If I make a game in which all players are supposed to start with some bid, and I define such bids very closely, I should not have my game rated as unbalanced, just because I'm using bids and I'm setting them well!
For a different example, World War II Classic is very badly balanced, requiring a bid of about 20 for Axis, but it is fairly playable without bid, with the "Russia Restricted" common house rule (where the Russians player just limits itself not attacking on round 1); yet, this doesn't mean that the game itself is less terrible on balance, just because its players have found alternative ways (just a not-supported house rule, in this case), but bidding, to make it fair.
Or, for example, maybe a game is very unbalanced but, if I untick "Units Repair Hits End Turn", then it becomes well balanced, for whatever reasons; still, in my opinion, this should not rate as being better balanced, just because you can somewhat rebalance it by redefining its official options, out of their defaults.
Bidding is not the only (and not necessarily the best or even workable) way to balance a game. For example, Domination 1914 No Man's Land is commonly regarded as somewhat unbalanced, but the players of it put in place all a list of special restrictions, they agree to follow (no conquering Japan etc. etc.), to have a better balanced game.
I would remove the rec. number of player, because I don't think it can really make sense, in a lot of games (maybe I think that Revised is best played 1v1, so I tick "2", or maybe I enjoy a full multi the most, so I tick "5"; that would just be merely preferential, and have little to do with the map itself, but just with the preferences of its players). However, if kept, I would expand the number of players till "9 or more players", because there is the staple Napolenic Empires 8 Player FFA, that is exactly for 8 player; so I believe a definite answer up to 8 players is in order. Also, I would rename:
Recommended Number of Players->Preferred Number of Human Players
The reasons for this are two-fold:
- In TripleA also the AI is a "player".
- In TripleA the term player formally applies to the various "powers" in the game, potentially having their own "phases" (if you select "Total World War", you will see that the in-game info tells you: "Number Of Players: 22").
To make a very popular example, World War 2 Revised is badly balanced not only because no competitive players would play it without a good bid for Axis, but also because almost everyone, on top of the bid, adds up a series of other non-default changes (at least almost surely territory turn limit and deselecting tech (Revised tech is really BS and quite unbalancing; almost noone plays with it on, but it is on as default indeed)).
Ah, of course, for the same reasons, I would change to:
Decently Balanced – Identified those games that are totally fine for most players, but have some balance issues for very good players, yet are decently playable at default rules/settings (usually, the default bid is 0 for all), even at the highest skill levels
Mind you that not all is necessarily supported; it can be just defined in Notes. For example, in the old World at War, the Notes were telling you that you were allowed to move through canal chains by controlling only 1 of them. By not following this rule, the game would be arguably much less balanced; yet, this doesn't mean that World at War was ever "badly balanced", just because a fundamental rule was not enforced; the fact that was explained in Notes should be enough, supported or not.
For example, @redrum enforced the WaW canal rules in 1.9, but this, of course, doesn't mean that WaW was less balanced beforehand, just because it was up to the players to correctly follow what was explained in Notes, albeit not enforced by the engine.
On the other hand, enforcing the canal rules did make WaW much better playable with AI, because the AI can't read what is written in notes and follow it!
A same matter would be if a developer enforces the Aircraft Carrier WaW special rules; nothing would change for the game itself, since such rules are explained to the Human Players in games note, but only the game becoming more AI friendly.
@redrum You're right, and I would like to not make it so complicated that it's a pain to fill out. I don't mind keeping it here if that's the consensus. I thought having it on the website wouldn't hurt, though it might not bring that much traffic to begin with, since it's not a very prominent link in the PR I sent. Maybe I'll think about closing that and sticking with keeping things here.
@Cernel All good suggestions. I've implemented them to a degree. It's good to point out that the AI is a player as well. The goal here is to make the process simple, but also useful, which is a nice compromise that I think we shall soon have.
@theredbaron Well, at least "without bid" or "without a bid" should be changed to "without bids different from default settings (usually 0)".
Otherwise, you are unfairly damaging the rating all the games that have a bid different from 0 default (because envisioned to be played with a specific bid).
I'm mainly saying that it should not be assumed that having bid equals unbalance, but that whatever is not balanced at default means unbalance.
Or you should remove all games that have any default bids different from 0 from the ones you can vote upon.
If I make a map specifically meant to be played with bid, I should not be penalised in the rating just because I decided so, unless the settings are reputed to be off. Maps having bids should not be considered less balanced than maps not having bids, as it would happen under the current definitions.
The rating is based on the map. If a map comes with a default bid, that is covered under the default rules of the map and fits the answer that it is balanced. "Unbalanced" for the purposes of this ranking is that the user will have to take action to balance it.
I would like to fill out the information concerning my maps, but before I do this, I just want to hear about something:
Like cernel said, could you please add an “8 or more players” instead of 7 or more? Most of my maps are made for 8 players
Also, could you make a dropdown menu or options to pick regarding the playtime? It’s difficult to know what format one has to type.
I think the “AI Compatibility” option “Compatible with bonus” is a bit strange. What does it mean? Bonus PUs will not make the AI more compatible, just able to buy more units. I would say just that you should just have the options “Compatible” and “Not Compatible”. At least I understand AI compatibility as the AIs ability to play the map or not, not if it needs ekstra PUs.
Would there be a need for a House rules section? Like if the map has special rules that must be read in the notes? Something like:
- No house rules – Just play.
- Optional house rules – Read the notes.
- Mandatory player enforced rules – Read the notes.
This is not what I was saying.
What I was saying was "I would expand the number of players till "9 or more players"".
8 players maps (of which Napoleonic Empires 8 Player FFA is the classic example, among several others, comprising Napoleonic Empires, that it is indeed played consistently both with 2 and 8 human players) are important enough that I would not thrown into any X or more niche answer. With PBF or PBEM, 8 human players games are quite feasible (of course, it is very hard for live gaming), either in a popular site or having a bunch of personal friends.
Having 8+ instead of 7+ would be hardly an improvement, because you would put all those 8 players maps into an undefined mass of maps that may have 8 to infinite players, instead of 7 to infinite players; a very marginal improvement, as I see it. 8 players map are important and popular enough to have their own specific category (not 8+), if you want to quote my personal opinion (but all good, just saying).
Ah, and, of course, I've just noticed now, the votes should be per-game, not per-map (1 for each of the xml)!
For example, it doesn't make sense (sorry, but I really think so) to vote for WW2v3_Variants, as it has a bunch of different games, and I would not vote Age of Tribes, either, but each one of its games. For example, I may think that Age of Tribes : Modern is very well balanced, while Age of Tribes : Renaissance is very badly balanced.
Also, some games have bundled spin offs; I've no clue what I'm supposed to vote for World At War, since it has also the WAW 1940 mod. Am I unable to vote for WAW 1940 or should I give the average between WAW and WAW 1940 or what?
I strongly advice the vote being per game (meaning per xml), not per map (meaning per folder).
Sadly, I really believe that voting per map, instead of per game, would really invalidate the whole effort, to a considerable extent; so, consider this last one my highest recommendation of them all.
If it has to be per map (better not), then I much advise you remove all the variants (meaning remove all the maps having a bunch of xml without a clear main referring one), from the list, and clarify that you can vote only for the main game of that map, not for the mods bundled in it (like, you can vote only for Age of Tribes : Primeval, not for the other Age of Tribes, or only for Napoleonic Empires, not for the FFA mods of it).
I was going to make the same suggestion as Cernel, I think it should be per game, not per map. Age of Tribes being a great example (though I thought Renaissance was considered the most balanced)
I also think there should be 5 options for the balance category rather than 4. All that said this will become an excellent resource, I'll do my part to populate the reviews