What Does "Community-Driven" Mean?

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    • What Does "Community-Driven" Mean?

      I’ve seen a number of comments about how some feel that the secrecy of the project is incompatible with the term “community-driven” and if the project was, in fact, “community-driven” then the project would be open and any in the community would be able to access pretty much everything and be able to influence pretty much everything.

      Let me clarify how I understand the term “community-driven” is used in connection with the project. It means that the people that decide on the rules, the background, the artwork, the campaigns, the structure and operation of the project, are all drawn from the wider community. We have approximately 300 staff members in T9A project all drawn from the community and all volunteering their time and efforts. So this project truly is “community-driven” in that the entire staff is made up of community volunteers.
      However, I have noticed that some interpret the term “community-driven” to mean: driven by community consensus. This is not the case for a number of reasons.

      First and foremost, such a structure would be unwieldy and the project would go slower than the current rate of progress. The time that it would take to reach a consensus on every single rule would be excruciating.

      Additionally, such a structure would result in a disjointed game. For example, the design criteria used for one army would be invariably not be used for another army as different groups of people from the wider community (I would envision 100s of different people) would see things their way for their army. What I mean when I say this is that the design parameters between armies should be consistent so that you don’t end up with one army (or many armies) completely OP compared to others. Power creep would be order of the day. Likewise, there would be a hard push for the inclusion of every sort of play style for every army. As it sits now, there are design guidelines that the various groups tasked with working on the books need to operate within. Is it perfect? Of course not. But it does result in a game that is fairly balanced and follows a design direction.

      I do want to add that I personally think that input from the wider community is important. One of the very reasons that the Army Community Support (ACS) was set up was to gather the input from the wider community to be weighed by the design teams. Can all the input be implemented? No, but some can. However, the viewpoint of what an army is expected to be by the wider community is very important to the setting up of the design guidelines for each army.

      The ACS are a very dedicated group of people that work hard on behalf of the community. The work they do is, IMO, invaluable. But they don’t get to decide all the rules either and this, I can imagine, can be very frustrating at times for them. But we all work within a structural framework and do the best that we can. Likewise, none in the framework are completely allowed to do whatever they want. For example, the ADT work under the guidelines set for the army from the RT. The ADT then write the rules, but it can be difficult to work completely under the guidelines. The BLT team prices the ADT designs, this works to “control” the design process to an extent, but the BLT does not get to decide what the rules will be. The RT reviews the design and cost and can send the design back to ADT or the cost back to BLT and say, “try again”, but the RT does not do the design or the cost. Everyone has restrictions and frustrations and does not get everything they want. Even the ExB don’t get to decide what the rules will be, or the background, or the campaigns, etc. but instead, set up the structure to function. In short, we are trying to do the best we can in the most efficient way possible while maintaining quality. Add to this that the 300 or so staff each have their own view as to what they would like the game to be. But I can say that I truly do like the people I work with on this hobby project, especially the reasonable people that can compromise and see things from many different perspectives. Likewise, it certainly is possible to join a team and directly influence the project by volunteering your time. As an example (not meant to single him out) but @Baranovich was not a staff member for a long time and posted on the forum. However, when the Campaign Team started, he wanted to help. Now he is the Head of the Campaign Team and can now influence the direction of that part of project. That is "community-driven" in my book.

      So, when you hear the term “community-driven”, please don’t equate this with just being driven by community consensus as that road leads to oblivion.

      Cheers everyone! *hoot* *hoot*
    • I agree, however when hearing 'community driven' I expect more then from commercial product which is revealed only when finished or near-finished (unless Sold Unfinished aka AoS). Today we are at state where community has two popular armies locked due to development. As a community we have no idea what is the target of development other then best, most balanced game ever. Yesterday it was tournament players focused and suggestions on bringing more fluff rules where discarded by staff members as 'make yourself homebrew rules if you want to have more fun'. Today suddenly 'vanilla armies' become a thing.

      I do not want project to be poll driven. The polls on army character were for me a total failure. But I'd like to see more discussion and not only by ACS. The subject that interest me most go outside single army (make rats great again, etc...). I'd like to see topics on forum like 'We intend to introduce more restrictive LOS. What do you think?' Instead of an Article which states what has been done and tested. In such topic there will be usually 5-6 people involved and they might provide useful feedback prior to game testing. Today posting on the community forum on any subject is a bit pointless. Posting I don't know what has already been decided, what is currently developed, what challenges Project faces. Let yourself be helped...
    • This is the difference in management decisions. If we were to poll the community on LOS changes, each poll has to be written in a neutral manner and posted for a num we of weeks. This would mean that we would not be able to start on things 3-4 weeks down the road after it is decided to make the poll, post it, wait for results and then make sense of what the results are. We already have some people saying the project is going too slow. Multiple this by dozens of times and ... Well you get the point.

      So as a compromise, we are doing the public play test period where comments will be read and evaluated, not only for the new core rules, but for the adjustments to the army books.

      FYI, I certainly don't want plain vanilla rules that are not immersive. But many do. There is a tension between all these things that can be difficult to balance.

      Thanks for posting @JimMorr
    • I do think community consensus and community driven should be very similar systems. Now, I understand popular opinion isn't always the right one (Speaking from a post-brexit Britain) but I feel slightly let down by the fact that community ideas have at times been shot down with only the vaguest of reasons why pointing to some secret fluff or initiative that we don't have access to.

      For example; the SE community from day 1 of path allocation announcement began to ask for Witchcraft. All of the lore available to us pointed to Witchcraft, the army identity poll pointed to Witchcraft, We had 2 lores of magic that we didn't really see the need for/didn't have as much available fluff justification, and perhaps most importantly a lot of the SE community saw it as a direct oversight that our army identity was overlooked for the purpose of making ends meet on the RT's end.

      The responses we received where that ''Your lores are set, due to fluff reasons''. But we had already received our fluff for both our army and for the lores of magic, so that didn't hold up with the *publicly available* fluff. We where told that we can't have Witchcraft because of a complicated Path allocation system, and that they didn't want to make any path too prolific so we'd mess up the system, but Witchcraft is one of the least seen/readily available lores of magic. We where told that we couldn't have more lores available to us than we already have, because the army poll said we are the least magical elves, however the army poll also said our choice of magic should be hexes and mobility.

      It didn't make sense. It still doesn't make sense. Maybe this is because of our lack of knowledge, because we can't see the impact this change would make, but due to the closed door arrangement all it bred was a feeling that the identity of my army was already decided behind closed doors instead of in tandem with the community that army represents.
    • Mr.Owl wrote:

      This is the difference in management decisions. If we were to poll the community on LOS changes, each poll has to be written in a neutral manner and posted for a num we of weeks. This would mean that we would not be able to start on things 3-4 weeks down the road after it is decided to make the poll, post it, wait for results and then make sense of what the results are. We already have some people saying the project is going too slow. Multiple this by dozens of times and ... Well you get the point.

      So as a compromise, we are doing the public play test period where comments will be read and evaluated, not only for the new core rules, but for the adjustments to the army books.

      FYI, I certainly don't want plain vanilla rules that are not immersive. But many do. There is a tension between all these things that can be difficult to balance.

      Thanks for posting @JimMorr
      Instead of just summarizing 90% of the suggestions forum and partly not even knowing if anybody read it (because there is no feedback process), I could have done a poll for every topic/rule already 1-2(!) years ago and then provide to the deciders not only a summary of suggestion but in addition also which option(s) is/are most liked and which are the least liked...which is even more critical when it comes to the fact that some things are changed in a way a majority does NOT like.

      That's a way of polling which is completely different from talking about direct polls for decisions (which of course are bad because the whole meta needs to be taken into consideration when deciding for the best rule).
      But instead every kind of open poll has been disabled (because of blank fear by the management that people could think the results are binding) and instead we have to write and read 100s of pages.....and we are running circles because of the mass of text everywhere.
      That's exactly why I don't read and write in some forums anymore.

      If T9A was paid for the work...this company would already be bankrupt.
      So even a "non-profit-organisation" should kind of think and work economically.

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    • I'm sorry you have had such a negative experience with the project @DJWoodelf. I can assure you that I don't fear polls. But they do slow things down. Likewise opening threads slows things down. Sure they are easy to open, but you have to wait for people to post otherwise you are accused of making a sham thread if you are designing while the thread is open. Likewise, collecting and synthesizing takes a lot of time. As stated earlier, we are already hearing a lot of noise that the current process is too slow!

      As far as the comparisons to being a for-profit company, sure, things would run much differently than now. But that does not mean the product would be better than what we have now. It would just be different. It would follow the vision of the CEO. Having one guy call the shots is more efficient, but this moves us away from more community Involvement.

      As I've said, we all have our limitations and frustrations. Believe me when I say that not all the votes go the way I want them to by a loooong shot. But, I keep trying to do my best to make the game more fun and interesting.
    • @Mr.Owl:

      I don't think that the design process itself is the main problem.

      The way the community is informed about the current state and about the reason behind the changes on the other hand, is a problem in my opinion.

      And yes I see the effort made with the "Behind the Scenes Blog".

      Now to be constructive, here are some ideas that could improve that in my opinion:



      The Behind the Scenes Blog is a very good idea and the last one was well written, so anything ok here.

      But I don't like the current structure and design to be honest.

      It would be far better if we could use some kind of premade sheet that is visually appealing and clear to read.

      I want to mention the 9th Scroll at this point, which is well done (good job guys).

      That way the reader knows exactly where the information is and it makes it way easier to read.

      Just look at the Patchnotes from LOL (League of Legends):

      - Always the same title--> easy to read and to remember: "Patch 7.19 notes".

      - Even before I click on the link I know how the site is structured and where I can find the Information I want.

      - The structure is intuitive and encouraging:
      --> First, all the things that are currently going on around the game (events for example)
      --> Then the actual changes with explanations why they were necessary
      --> At the end a sneak peek for upcoming releases

      Furthermore I think it would be very important to make a fix release schedule.

      (EDIT2: release schedule = release of information about the upcoming changes / the current design state and not the release of the changes itself, maybe the last sentense is a bit misleading)

      I know that many of you don't want that, as this would create a lot of pressure.

      But these updates don't have to be that extensive.

      Even if there are not many changes, you could talk about the current state, which ideas are discussed, ect.

      I think this regularity of updates would create a lot of transparency (even if it is just once every 1-2 month).

      You don't have to get into discussions about these "internal" ideas.

      But Talk(!) about it, tell the community what is being discussed, why ect.

      Again: Not to get approval for it, but to inform(!) everyone about it.

      Now to get Feedback from the Community (which is important):

      To get Feedback without starting an endless discussion and slowing the process, I would suggest to add a poll after every point.

      That poll should range from 1 to 10, where 1 expresses high disagreement and 10 the ideal.

      So something like that:

      From the current "Issue 10":
      --> "Changes for Wheel Maneuver"
      --> Explaining the changes and why
      --> Poll
      --> [Next Topic]

      That way you would give the community a way to express their opinion directly to the responsible team.

      I would suggest that the results of these polls should be looked over by the Executive Board and if the results would show a clear result like an average value of 2-3, then they should manage this and discuss the next steps with the responsible team, as the whole community clearly don't like that particular change.

      EDIT: And make the results of these polls public (very important).

      This wouldn't slow down the process and would allow the community to get involved without endless discussions with the ADT/RT/BLT.


      This is all for now, I had other ideas but I can't remember them at this moment so I will leave it at that :D .


      PS: I just want to say that I'am just a regular community member and not part of the official 9th-age team.

      The post was edited 3 times, last by Aegon ().

    • Thanks @Aegon.

      I have a question though.

      Let's say we decided to talk about ideas X Y and Z in reasonable great detail this month. 90% of people love X but hate Y and don't care for Z.

      Next month it's occurs that actually the team feel that idea X just doesn't work because for no other reason then it doesn't "feel" right. However idea Y is now cemented in place as gold.

      The (poor) point I am trying to make here is that the team often has many many ideas on the boil but by next month maybe only one or none of those ideas are in play, then by the following month that single rule has been bent and tweaked to the point it makes no reference to how it was a few months ago.

      People want to know, fair enough, but people also can't comprehend the change that may be required and then the project would be shot to flames as the community turns on the work force claiming it never listens or that we ruined everything.

      In addition a large proportion of our community don't want to see change, it actually turns them away from our game.

      So we are caught in a catch 22 situation where neither becomes the correct choice.

      We do want to involve the community but only once we have given ourselves a more firm footing.

      Does that make sense?
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    • Hey @Mr.Owl and @Bugman,

      First thanks for your answer.

      Bugman wrote:

      People want to know, fair enough, but people also can't comprehend the change that may be required and then the project would be shot to flames as the community turns on the work force claiming it never listens or that we ruined everything.
      I think the community would comprehend the changes, if they can understand the reason behind it.

      They won't agree everytime and you can't please anyone, but I think if you tell them why these changes were neccessary, it would make the whole process much more transparent.


      One Example:

      Lets say the majority of members of one Fraction want one patricular new magic item.

      There were a lot of discussions and the ACS gathered all the suggestions from that forum and send it to the ADT/RT/BLT.

      Now they realised that this idea (=the magic item) would not work, because of A or B or C (too costly, too powerful in combination with another item, ect).

      At the current state after the internal discussion, the ACS would go to his forum and tell them is was "rejected".

      This would create a lot of anger as the said item was created by ideas of passionate players.

      It would be seen as "the people up there" just smashed our idea, without listening to us.

      But if you would describe why this item was rejected in the current form, the community would understand the reasons behind that decision.

      That doesn't mean that all would agree with it, there will be still people complaining about it for sure.

      But you could redirect that "energy" into something constructive; for example by allowing a second review.

      So the people could use their time to make the said item better by posting a new version of it that matches the conditions made by the RT/ADT/BLT.

      This could be communicated via the ACS members.

      But there have to be a way of communication in the first place.

      I think you get my point.




      Bugman wrote:

      In addition a large proportion of our community don't want to see change, it actually turns them away from our game.
      Therefore I suggested a kind of open beta a long time ago.

      But as far as I understand it, that will be implemented with the next update and I appreciate it.

      I see the dilemma:

      You want a stable and clear version to be played and this is something very important for the tournament scene.

      On the other hand you want to change the game into something better and that is also very important as stagnation would just result in a slow death of the game.

      And I think an open beta would be a good solution to match these two points.





      Another thing:

      I have a feeling that some of the staff think that the lack of direct communication would make them "look more professional".

      But I think that they misunderstand professionalism and transparency.

      You can be professional and transparent at the same time.

      Sharing information about the "inner process" and the discussions there won't make them look unprofessional.

      Getting involved into direct discussions in the open forum on the other hand would.

      A good developer shares his ideas with his community and respond to the feedback given by them.

      That doesn't mean that the community is in direct contact and part of the internal discussions, but their opinions/feedback should be one vital part of the internal discussions by the staff members.

      The post was edited 3 times, last by Aegon ().

    • This seems to be an altogether more insightful and constructive thread - hopefully more people will take note.


      I agree that more transparency would be welcomed and would likely alleviate people's concerns.


      Perhaps if more of the new rules, unit ideas etc. were continuously discussed with the community as they were being tested and developed by the play testing group that would diminish people's fears about the next edition. This would presumably be something that would require regular updates which would mean more work, but, would allow the community to better understand where the game is going. So if something is initially announced as making it to the play testing phase, the community will understand the train of thought which leads to this rule being modified or cut - even if they don't agree with it.


      Of course not everyone will be happy with the forthcoming changes, but that will be the case whether you share this information or not.


      Thanks to you all once again for your continued efforts to make this game a success, especially in the face of such negativity.
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    • Yes, by and large this thread is pretty constructive. This is exactly the type of discussion that I hoped to start up. For me it's important that the wider community know that the ExB does not sit in an ivory tower, but we are just regular dudes that play the game like everyone else. Transparency is important to me too, and I understand that you can be transparent AND be professional at the same time. I believe that communication is key, which is why I've opened this topic. I hope to hear from the wider community how they feel and what specifically they think can be improved. So far, there are some very nice posts here.

      Not all can be implemented, but some certainly can. Any improvement in communication to the wider community will make me happy.
    • Megusta wrote:

      controlled and operated by a tiny ETC elite & their buddies
      Well, I've never been to the ETC and 300 staff is not really "tiny". It is true that there are active ETC players involved with the rules writing, but I would never characterize it as small group of elites. We have a pretty wide swath of representation from around the globe.

      But if you would like to get actively involved, please apply to the staff. We are happy to have new people applying and coming in all the time!
    • JimMorr wrote:

      Two questions: how many out of "the 300" do work on rules, core rules for 2.0? How many do have access to rules being developed?
      That's a good question, for rules I believe in the neighborhood of 45-50. For the core rules, I think around 15-20.

      But this does not count any in the background teams and as the rules are background-driven, they have an impact on all the rules through all the books. So that's a tough one to quantify.

      But I would defer to @Mr.Gobbo as the HR guru.
    • The main impact ETC has is not the event with 300 players but the trickle down effect it has on the tournament scene for many of the European local tournament scenes.

      Whether you like it or not the impact of the ETC is not that minor.
    • I think I agree with the main thrust of this: transparency is good but can be costly. Efficient decision making is good but can come at a cost of transparency/community involvement.

      Personally I think a good question is to ask when more community involvement is good and when it is bad/counterproductive. I will try and give a couple of examples of what I mean (hoping that this will not stoke any kind of anger).

      The idea of a "complexity budget" for armies. Personally i am dead against it and I think that few players are happy with it in its current form - despite this I think this has to have been a central and undemocratic decision as it involves making an informed tradeoff. The people who benefit are not the ones who would get to vote - the beneficiaries of a simpler game are the people who would play if it were simpler not the people on the forum who already play at the current complexity level. Community involvement would maybe get in the way of what might be good for the game.

      I see this logic applying to any army book as well - let the people who play an army dictate what that army has in it and you get a mess of overpowered stuff or certain tools being over-represented. In these discussions as much weight needs to be given to the voices of the people playing against an army as being played with it and the current system does that well (I can agree with the structure whilst taking issue with specific outcomes from that structure). This has been done well.

      Going back a bit - the rules for weapons are vastly improved. The new rules for spears and paired weapons have added a whole new lease of life into the game and made so many more units viable. These were not consulted on and nor should they have been. Neither of these weapons exists in a vacuum and so both had to be considered within a broader context than most of the community would be able to give. The "right" rules for spears depends on prevalence of great weapons or halberds but also on the rules for other weapons. A poll by poll approach could give a whole lot of mutually contradictory (or at least not complimentary) rules for different weapons that wouldn't give the same breadth we have now.



      A couple of things I think have been done less well...

      Now I may have missed the chance to contribute here, an error of communication rather than an error of decision structure. In which case just throw it in with the comments on communication that are already being discussed.

      Iron Crowns. The consensus seems to be that there will be two new armies added to 9th age, one of which will be the Iron Crowns. I feel that this decision was made without the community (by which I mean I missed being a part of that decision - maybe my fault). I feel that this is a big change and will happen over a timescale that would allow consultation. I also feel it is a big enough change to the game to warrant a deeper consultation. There is no existing player base for any new faction so there is less of a tradeoff between insiders and outsiders that needs to be moderated by a hierarchical decision making process.


      More prosaically - and something in between the two that I think is debatable... the Giant.
      The giant is not a single army issue - it appears in 4 armies. Getting it right in terms of both power and fun is a big deal. It is also an iconic unit and a very different unit to most monsters. I think there is a case to be made that there should be more community involvement in ironing this out. It is less partisan an issue than most army content issues and, with the long timescale for WotDG rework the extra time for involving the community is a lot less costly.


      I would ask to be consulted where appropriate and for things to be considered by the appropriate staff when not. More army specific or big balance elements should probably go to staff - more fluff based should be community (as long as the fluff isn't expressed relatively - otherwise we have things like 16 "greatest wizards in the world").