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Looking back on the balancing strategy


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1 hour ago, vladislavbelov said:

Until your game gets 1 FPS on some hardware and you receive a endless stream of complains

As opposed to receiving an endless stream of complaints about chronic imbalance and irhistoricity? ;)

Curious that graphical interoperability is viewed as a critical priority by the developer community, but game design is sanctimoniously ignored for going on half a decade. Let's not pretend that this is a minor crisis just because it has been playing out for slow motion over years and decades.

It seems like there have been almost a dozen balance test or rework mods shared in the last two year, but only small, incremental improvements have made their way into EA. All the key complaints are unchanged: there is always one unit type after every patch that is markedly overpowered compared to the rest, the economy and tech buildup beats of a typical match are unrefined compared to other representatives of the genre, the game is missing expected polish and key features like naval combat and formation tactics, and optimal combat tactics have scant resemblance to the historical militaries they are supposed to be depicting.

The situation is a breeding ground for toxicity. New contributors and pundits are routinely popping up, excited to share their creative visions, only to slink away dejected a few months later once they realize how intransigent this project and community really is. (Granted, this is actually a healthy state of affairs for a vibrant project with a clear vision of what it wants to be, in order to maintain quality and focus development & organizational resources where they will be most appreciated by the community at large. But I don't think 0AD can be so-described.)
And clearly this negativity is taking its toll on senior project managers too. Stan is obviously having some doubts about the sustainability of this state of affairs. If you look at that list of contributors, it's pretty clear the most experienced are actively trying to avoid any work that would touch on the gameplay part of the titular game. That is not good, and if it keeps up long enough, eventually your time and luck will run out and this project will die.

Once again I put it to everyone that too much openness and communitarian idealism is the problem here. The whole point of "openness" is to prevent conflict by giving everyone a stake and voice in the process. However in this case we see too many stakes and voices causing gridlock, which is directly creating the biggest ongoing conflict afflicting this project. We have talked at length about technological, organizational, and philosophical remedies to this quandary. It is time for the guiding hands behind 0AD to make some decisions about what they are going to do...
and then maybe practice some of that openness (transparency) you guys preach by not asking but telling us what you are planning and doing, so that we can have some confidence that this ship is headed in the right direction, or else make our own informed decisions about whether we want to jump off.

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14 minutes ago, ChronA said:

As opposed to receiving an endless stream of complaints about chronic imbalance and irhistoricity? ;)

Curious that graphical interoperability is viewed as a critical priority by the developer community, but game design is sanctimoniously ignored for going on half a decade.

That's pretty interesting and very popular thought that I see in comments for mostly every AAA game :) And that's actually a popular pitfall of a person unfamiliar with a development process. Because every team (>=2 people) for a faster development splits their responsibilities. And you can't blame people from some department for things another department is responsible for.

It doesn't excuse us as a developer team to not have a stable amount of gameplay improvements. But it allows me to notice that the opinion is kind of biased.

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38 minutes ago, ChronA said:

As opposed to receiving an endless stream of complaints about chronic imbalance and irhistoricity? ;)

Curious that graphical interoperability is viewed as a critical priority by the developer community, but game design is sanctimoniously ignored for going on half a decade. Let's not pretend that this is a minor crisis just because it has been playing out for slow motion over years and decades.

 

I can't fix that. As they said below, blaming a department for somethings that is  other department task isn't the way, this is fine for social media average comment section, Already here in the forum you can already see that not all of us do the same task, so you can see how a game is developed.

But if you try to contribute to that change....you can: 

Invite people, share the game, pressure the team(little) no like this, I have been patiently pressing for years.

The only thing is that the ideas stagnate, I keep them. I save for laters, not only my personal ideas.

Sometimes I open tickets without abusing.

That reminds me to open those tickets. And bring out those ideas and discussions.

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Hmm, interesting points from everyone who's chimed in I think.

I think the real question now is, where do we go from here?

Personally, given the feedback and notes from everyone in this topic/thread, I'm thinking the following:

  1. We need an easy way to communicate things that have been completed, and/or progress on the project; since not all of it is apparent.
  2. Balance, somehow, needs to be more accessible to the communty; and changes to balance need to be added to the primary 0ad repo, not a fork.
  3. Some level of direction is needed; I'm probably out of the loop, and way off base with this, but it seems that the project is kind-of just "going" ... but not necessarily towards a specific destination.
  4. We REALLY somehow need to improve morale in the community ... honestly these posts seem to be quite a downer. We have to get over this rut and move forward with a positive outlook. The community, and internal view of the project very much dictates external impressions; at least in my opinion it does to some degree.

If anyone has any adjustments/additions to that list ... please make mention and number them accordingly. Of course, if one of my numbered items there, seems invalid, we can just delete it and consider it not a priority.

So now ... I have a proposal! B)

The proposal is ... If you post a problem, post a solution. If you don't have a solution, state how you imagine things would be if the problem was solved; as that would at least give us a destination, but not how to get there.

So to practice what I preach ... here's some possible solutions to the points above:

  1. Further breakdown project milestones/versions (for example A27) into subprojects.
    • There are a couple options here ... we could have an overarching goal for the milestone (for example, "Refactor rendering to remove nvtt and make way for vulkan support"; completely guessing here lol). Then during A27, the majority of work would be on that.
    • Another option could be to have subprojects for the milestone; for example, Art could have a goal, Balance could have a goal, etc, etc. Then once they're all complete, A{n} is complete.
    • Another possibly better option could be to have alternating milestone focus. So for example, in the case of A27. Maybe A27.0 could be focused on getting balance stuff in (maybe it's only a 1 or 2 week sprint). Then after that A27.1 would focus on non-balance related things. This would give time for the devs to do what they want, while also dedicating some time to balance issues.
  2. With solution 1 there ... there are some things that could help this. Alternativelty, if balance is just mostly xml configurations ... there could be some functionality added (idk if it's already there), to allow people to merge balance configurations. So for example, have a balance menu in-game where they could select the xml to load settings from. Then optionally, have an in-game balance vote (for example after a SP or MP game), on what the players thought of the balance.
    • This would give some real feedback on each balance configuration, and differences/implications could be drawn when comparing concrete versions of the settings. It would give balance people and programmers a better technical understanding of what setting influences balance the most, or at least is the most controversial.
  3. Direction can come with the solution in point 1. Honestly ... my thought is that having a stream if tickets isn't the best solution for projects goal-wise. It doesn't give a clear outlook of progress (in my opinion). Having smaller goals would give a better sense of completion. Seeing those goals accumulate will give a better sense of success.
    • One idea here would be to adopt something with some kind of project-based progress bars. The visual feedback of it is amazing in my mind.
    • For example, there's this https://github.com/opf/openproject
      • With it you can do progress bars like these: Bulk editing progress
      • Of course, this is just an example, there's probably other software out there that does the same.
    • Maybe gitlab does this? (just checked, it does, here's a screenshot)
      • New milestone
    • Ultimately, if we can have something like this on the homepage, that could be cool too! It could be a point-of-interest for anyone looking at the project ... if they're interested in helping, having current workings, or areas of real need posted publicly would be a benefit; and I think would draw in more people.
  4. Part of increasing morale is not to focus on the problems, or negatives, but solutions. That's part of the proposal above, and what I'm trying to do in posting these ideas. I REALLY want to see this project succeed and grow. Part of making that happen is being the change I want to see.

So ... that was a bit of a brain dump lol. Thoughts? @Stan`I know (or at least it seems) much of the management side of things is on your shoulders. I'd be happy to help with project management where needed. I'd even go through the trouble of building a project management solution for the team if it's needed (I've honestly wanted to for a while lol ... but never had a specific target in mind); but that might be extreme.

On a side note ... personally, I've worked for a few companies in the past years (not boasting or anything, don't take it that way ... I'm just using it as my reference of experience) ... all of which had some critical issues with project management. Unfortunately in my position(s) at the time ... I wasn't able to do much to change the management practices for the better. Here ... I'm starting with throwing out some ideas; if people like it, good, if not ... then we can adjust/delete/create/adapt as needed.

48 minutes ago, ChronA said:

Once again I put it to everyone that too much openness and communitarian idealism is the problem here.

To some degree, yes. Too much openness is bad, especially when no-one is declared the final decision maker. This is true in many cases. One that comes to mind (I've been watching a lot of Gordon Ramsay lately lol), is in businesses like hotels, restaurants. With a group of "owners", if there's no-one who has a final say, decisions rot. Part of what Ramsay does is instill a position of power in a single person ... that changes the entire organization, and how it runs as a whole.

Maybe having a elected "official" would help the project. Alternatively ... we could also adopt a voting system of sorts, where solutions are presented, and voted on with a deadline within the community. Of course, there's a ton of ways about this. We could also make the project configurable by default. So like ... at any point if there's something that's a core concern, or clear divide in the community ... make a checkbox for it ... then we get BOTH those sides remaining interested, while also satisfying their personal needs/opinions.

As always ... everyone please post ideas/feedback, thanks for reading my rambles!

 

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1 hour ago, ChronA said:

but game design is sanctimoniously ignored for going on half a decade

Its a bit disingenuous to claim its ignored when all proposed contributions do get recognized. Everyone is free to propose gameplay elements and if objectively justified would probably get merged too. If you need unimplemented features, write out the requirements so that an actual discussion can arise out of it. Having an arbiter of game design will not solve the problem of having voluntary moving parts that can just straight up stop spinning just cause they want to do so. There is no WFG entity making the game. There are people just like you working under said banner. Its not ignored because WFG decided to allocate all its manpower into engine development. Its ignored because no one stepped up. Everyone here are just as qualified to dedicate the time and effort and propose gameplay patches as those with commit access. However, no one is under contract to do so, so we cannot really ask @vladislavbelovto drop his rendering work to instead define counters or implement battalions or something. (even if we could ask it and he did sign a contract of servitude to 0ad, it would be a really stupid thing to do because his efforts are most needed in core engine code)

Not directed at anyone here per se, but generally speaking, FOSS is a breeding ground for entitlement of volunteer time.

1 hour ago, ChronA said:

However in this case we see too many stakes and voices causing gridlock, which is directly creating the biggest ongoing conflict afflicting this project

A gridlock yes, but not a meaningful gridlock in my opinion, because usually, neither side involved actually goes beyond suggesting ideas. Ideas by themselves are kinda meh if no one evaluates them, justifies them, implements them and make the effort to convince others its objectively an improvement.

Statistics for those who care, there are 326 differentials tagged [gameplay] on phabricator, 257 of them are already closed. Thats 78%. Gameplay contributions are not ignored, they don't come.

Edited by smiley
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Alright, time to bring out the salt.

4 hours ago, ChronA said:

Curious that graphical interoperability is viewed as a critical priority by the developer community, but game design is sanctimoniously ignored for going on half a decade.

Absurd statement.

4 hours ago, ChronA said:

It seems like there have been almost a dozen balance test or rework mods shared in the last two year, but only small, incremental improvements have made their way into EA. All the key complaints are unchanged: there is always one unit type after every patch that is markedly overpowered compared to the rest, the economy and tech buildup beats of a typical match are unrefined compared to other representatives of the genre, the game is missing expected polish and key features like naval combat and formation tactics, and optimal combat tactics have scant resemblance to the historical militaries they are supposed to be depicting.

All of those complaints are possibly contradictory. If anything the fact that there is always one unit that's OP, but it's not the same unit, proves that we do do balance changes.  Formations & naval combat aren't a feature of competitor RTS games either, so why pretend it should be here.

'Expected polish'? Did you somehow pay for 0 A.D.?

4 hours ago, ChronA said:

The situation is a breeding ground for toxicity. New contributors and pundits are routinely popping up, excited to share their creative visions, only to slink away dejected a few months later once they realize how intransigent this project and community really is.

Look, this can be rephrased pretty easily as 'People come to the forums, dunk on the team with their brilliant ideas that are definitely gonna fix everything, then whine months later when their miraculous solution™ hasn't been adopted when in reality they have done 0 effective work for the project'.

4 hours ago, ChronA said:

Once again I put it to everyone that too much openness and communitarian idealism is the problem here. The whole point of "openness" is to prevent conflict by giving everyone a stake and voice in the process. However in this case we see too many stakes and voices causing gridlock, which is directly creating the biggest ongoing conflict afflicting this project. We have talked at length about technological, organizational, and philosophical remedies to this quandary. It is time for the guiding hands behind 0AD to make some decisions about what they are going to do...
and then maybe practice some of that openness (transparency) you guys preach by not asking but telling us what you are planning and doing, so that we can have some confidence that this ship is headed in the right direction, or else make our own informed decisions about whether we want to jump off.

We don't need you. No one cares about you. You're just some random human complaining on the internet right now. Your contributions to the project are nil. You don't have a phabricator account, you've never posted on Trac, you've never actually contributed anything beyond forum posts, which have obviously not succeeded at doing anything or you wouldn't be complaining right now. You've been here for 4 years. If nothing has changed, perhaps you should look inwards: your current efforts are insufficient to help move forward 0 A.D., and playing a self-aggrandising card to the dev team achieves nothing (though you did get a good rant out of me, I do love these).

Your first post in the forums was "What can I do to help?". My answer is simple. Start actually helping, or GTFO.

4 hours ago, smiley said:

Its not ignored because WFG decided to allocate all its manpower into engine development. Its ignored because no one stepped up

Wish I could enshrine that sentence.

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4 hours ago, Crynux said:

We need an easy way to communicate things that have been completed, and/or progress on the project; since not all of it is apparent.

Anyone is free to give their time to set this up. It's just writing. No one in the currently active dev team or forum members at large seems to be up for it, unfortunately.

4 hours ago, Crynux said:

Balance, somehow, needs to be more accessible to the communty; and changes to balance need to be added to the primary 0ad repo, not a fork.

I think the problem is actually that balance should be more accessible to the developers. We don't really know what we need to do at any given time because few of us actually have the time (or indeed the motivation) to play the game.

4 hours ago, Crynux said:
  1. Some level of direction is needed; I'm probably out of the loop, and way off base with this, but it seems that the project is kind-of just "going" ... but not necessarily towards a specific destination.

I don't think a direction is 'needed', nor do I think this project is likely to die soon. There are several active & semi-active developers, and we have renewed somewhat regular releases compared to years past. People care, and so long as one person cares, the project isn't dead.

Now to discuss some finer points

4 hours ago, Crynux said:

Then during A27, the majority of work would be on that.

There is one thing that must be understood: there is no 'deciding' what people do in 0 A.D. You literally cannot force them to do something else. Even if there was a 'decider', their decision power with regards to the 'majority of work' is zero.

The 'balance' problem isn't that we don't have a decider, it's that we have no-one actually working on it.

4 hours ago, Crynux said:

I know (or at least it seems) much of the management side of things is on your shoulders. I'd be happy to help with project management where needed. I'd even go through the trouble of building a project management solution for the team if it's needed (I've honestly wanted to for a while lol ... but never had a specific target in mind); but that might be extreme.

Stan is currently working a potential GitHub migration. I think he doesn't have enough time for it though. Help there would likely be much appreciated. But you should expect to be doing most of the effort in reaching out & getting told what to do.

I think it would be a great way to help the project if you're up for it, but it's not going to be easy.

-

0 A.D. used to have a 'decision maker' to a large extent on gameplay decisions. They day he left was one of those 'almost killed the project' days. Yet it endured. No solutions are risk-free, and no solutions are perfect.

But a hard reality, that I cannot stress enough, is that someone taking their time and effort to get anything actually committed is worth more than any endless discussion on the forums.

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1 hour ago, wraitii said:

Look, this can be rephrased pretty easily as 'People come to the forums, dunk on the team with their brilliant ideas that are definitely gonna fix everything, then whine months later when their miraculous solution™ hasn't been adopted when in reality they have done 0 effective work for the project'.

most of them give ideas and not a single effort to prove anything. it's good not to be on that list. :)

 

6 hours ago, ChronA said:

The situation is a breeding ground for toxicity. New contributors and pundits are routinely popping up, excited to share their creative visions, only to slink away dejected a few months later once they realize how intransigent this project and community really is. (Granted, this is actually a healthy state of affairs for a vibrant project with a clear vision of what it wants to be, in order to maintain quality and focus development & organizational resources where they will be most appreciated by the community at large. But I don't think 0AD can be so-described.)
And clearly this negativity is taking its toll on senior project managers too. Stan is obviously having some doubts about the sustainability of this state of affairs. If you look at that list of contributors, it's pretty clear the most experienced are actively trying to avoid any work that would touch on the gameplay part of the titular game. That is not good, and if it keeps up long enough, eventually your time and luck will run out and this project will die.

this is not a democracy. democracies fail, the masses, lacking vision, end up in demagogy and without direction. we live in times where people are toxic for the simple fact that they spoil generations of spoiled children because they are selfish.

(I include myself because I grew up in this era of social networking and social welfare).

but hard times are coming...that will create strong men.

6 hours ago, ChronA said:

But I don't think 0AD can be so-described.)
And clearly this negativity is taking its toll on senior project managers too. Stan is obviously having some doubts about the sustainability of this state of affairs. If you look at that list of contributors, it's pretty clear the most experienced are actively trying to avoid any work that would touch on the gameplay part of the titular game. That is not good, and if it keeps up long enough, eventually your time and luck will run out and this project will die.

when it passes away, it will pass away. it happens with companies, with nations and empires. also with great civilizations that came to decadence.

sincerely i don't know what to expect, things are not eternal. to frighten with deaths of projects is not relevant or a valid argument. (we still have a good time, like all men who create things and dream).

7 hours ago, ChronA said:

Once again I put it to everyone that too much openness and communitarian idealism is the problem here. The whole point of "openness" is to prevent conflict by giving everyone a stake and voice in the process. However in this case we see too many stakes and voices causing gridlock, which is directly creating the biggest ongoing conflict afflicting this project. We have talked at length about technological, organizational, and philosophical remedies to this quandary. It is time for the guiding hands behind 0AD to make some decisions about what they are going to do...


and then maybe practice some of that openness (transparency) you guys preach by not asking but telling us what you are planning and doing, so that we can have some confidence that this ship is headed in the right direction, or else make our own informed decisions about whether we want to jump off.

it's just a hobby. very nice by the way, you have to be realistic, it wasn't meant to go that far. projects with budgets don't go that far.

I have known this team since 2011, nothing is set in stone but we are just a reflection of the society we live in, I don't expect everyone to be strong if their leaders are a reflection of their society.

this project was created in 2002 approximately, the way of thinking  from society was more grateful and less consumerist, there was more loyalty to the ideals.

now all that rules is to consume, to share and to discard... when it is no longer new...when it is no longer so, it dies and goes out of trend.

 

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I hereby declare a miraculous solution to everything. The departments need restructuring. @wraitii, you are now in charge of making 3D models. @Stan`, you are no longer a project leader, your new role is to make new music for the game. I suggest that you start learning an instrument. @vladislavbelov will no longer do any rendering work. He is now in charge of social media. @Lion.Kanzen will do the rendering work and other engine tasks from now on. @Ultimate Aurelian is no longer a historian. His new role is to make 2D textures. In fact, all historians are now texture artists. And all of the the texture artists will work on JavaScript stuff. The future of 0 AD is guaranteed.

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18 hours ago, smiley said:

There were efforts to properly communicate actual progress on a monthly basis quite recently as well, but that's a story for another ti

I could actually make my staff reports public. I sent mails every two months or so with a commit summary and some internal team things usually nothing too private. I don't do it usually cause they might contain private information about members.

14 hours ago, ChronA said:

As opposed to receiving an endless stream of complaints about chronic imbalance and irhistoricity? ;)

Can't get that if they can't run the game ;)

14 hours ago, ChronA said:

Curious that graphical interoperability is viewed as a critical priority by the developer community, but game design is sanctimoniously ignored for going on half a decade. Let's not pretend that this is a minor crisis just because it has been playing out for slow motion over years and decades.

Right because the balancing branch by @scythetwirler after A16 the design document on Phabricator with @Prodigal Son and @Nescio, Balancing between @Itms and @borg- the PM about balancing, and now the balancing forums were nothing?

14 hours ago, ChronA said:

We have talked at length about technological, organizational, and philosophical remedies to this quandary. It is time for the guiding hands behind 0AD to make some decisions about what they are going to do...
and then maybe practice some of that openness (transparency) you guys preach by not asking but telling us what you are planning and doing, so that we can have some confidence that this ship is headed in the right direction, or else make our own informed decisions about whether we want to jump off.

That's the thing, My goal is just to have a playable game with interesting gameplay. The designer spot has been left vacant as I still have to find someone trusworthy, competent and who is willing to step up. As wraitii said I have no power to force anyone to do anything they do not want. I can give incentives sure, but at the end of the day if everyone leaves having the crown and being alone isn't of any help to anyone.

6 hours ago, m7600 said:

you are no longer a project leader, your new role is to make new music for the game. I suggest that you start learning an instrumen

Good thing I started learning the guitar again :)

 

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39 minutes ago, Stan` said:

I sent mails every two months or so with a commit summary

Maybe that could be published here and on social media? Might not seem too exciting at first glance, but a more constant stream of news could be good, reminding people we're still here and progress is made ~regularly.

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Counter (counter) salt!

Complaints that a project prioritizes graphics or performance or whatever other area of development over balance are not properly understood as criticisms of the people working on graphics or performance. They are criticisms of project managers for failing to onboard people to work on the problem area.

Spoiler

If a professional developer with any sort of commercial backing had a brilliant game design but the graphics looked like they were made in MS Paint, or the game did not run on any modern system, you bet they would hire someone to rework those graphics and backend. They might even sack the balance designer to afford it, and that would be objectively the right move.

I sympathize that for a FOSS project it is not so simple, but you do have cards in your hand. You have modders with demonstrated interest and ability to work on this within your game's community! You have influential voices among the project developers who could throw their support behind some radical but necessary choices. At some point you even had a budget IIRC.

It's not even like there've been no moves in the right direction. You guys had the right idea giving the reins to borg for A24, but after one attempt that didn't turn out as desired you reverted many of their boldest changes and re-committed to design anarchy. We're not privy to what went on behind the scenes--maybe it was even borg who unilaterally decided to step back--but reforms take time and patience to implement and optimize. I don't remember anyone publicly stepping up to vociferously defend their efforts; to argue for patience and resolve. That's actually rather messed up now that I reflect on it.

 

14 hours ago, wraitii said:

You don't have a phabricator account, you've never posted on Trac, you've never actually contributed anything.

The old fallacy that end users have no right to criticize creators... but let's ignore it and actually dig into that situation. About a year ago Stan chastised me for exactly this, and I thought "Hey they are right! Why complain when I could help fix things?" However as a I dug into what that would actually entail, I quickly realized that the time and effort that would be demanded of me to make a useful contribution were far beyond my current capacity. I'm not in any way a professional developer. (But even I know about GitHub at least.) Like Crynux said, you guys are using this arcane combination of outdated technologies to do your development; and it gatekeeps (irrespective of your intentions).

It would have taken me days of very trying consultation with Stan to get up to speed. And then what after that? As has been noted time and again, the 0AD community is profoundly reactionary. What is some no-name noob actually going to accomplish? Spend hundreds or thousands of hours coding and advocating for changes that will be tried once and unceremoniously rejected?

No. This is my contribution: to be a cranky wall of text that shines a spotlight on problems and options no one else is discussing, to lend support to minority perspectives and underserved users, and sometimes even to light fires when the forest is desperately in need of a proscribed burn. If I can nudge you or force you to make the hard choices, I will consider that a valuable contribution. So far I do not feel I have succeed, which is why I have no qualms about amping up the pressure of my rhetoric.

14 hours ago, wraitii said:

'Expected polish'? Did you somehow pay for 0 A.D.?

12 hours ago, Lion.Kanzen said:

it's just a hobby. very nice by the way, you have to be realistic, it wasn't meant to go that far. projects with budgets don't go that far.

Well, the truth is 0AD does compete with paid products in the hearts and minds of its community (yours included). We care about whether this project ultimately succeeds--whether it eventually attains a polished and feature complete form--because we are all dreaming of someday playing a good community-made ancient warfare RTS that actually respects history, instead of the dreck Microsoft spits out every year to earn a few more dollars. Is that so impossible?

(And lest you forget, we are actually paying for the privilege... crowd funding it if you will, not in money but in time and attention. To many of us these are much dearer commodities than the mere $60 that AoE2:DE and all its DLC sell for on Steam.)

Edited by ChronA
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3 hours ago, ChronA said:

and it gatekeeps (irrespective of your intentions).

How exactly?

3 hours ago, ChronA said:

If I can nudge you or force you to make the hard choices,

What are the choices? Not in vague abstract terms please.

Why does someone else have to be the change you want to see?

You or anyone else here are on equal footing with people who have commit access to propose changes.

3 hours ago, ChronA said:

0AD community is profoundly reactionary

https://code.wildfiregames.com/feed/query/all/ read as far back as you can and see how contributors interact with each other.

The usual story is that someone posts their opinion with no attempt at justification and expects everyone else to treat their subjective opinion as axiomatic truths. Justification is hard, which is why 90% of people just stop after a forum post. And the vast majority of reaction comes from other gameplay & balance experts. That might have provided a clue as to why borg stepped down.

3 hours ago, ChronA said:

Spend hundreds or thousands of hours coding and advocating for changes that will be tried once and unceremoniously rejected?

Its up to you to convince people around here the merit of your contributions. If the community wholeheartedly rejected it, and the game is developed for the community, isn't it in the projects best interests to make most of that community happy?

You are seeing this with more organizational structure and bureaucracy then there is. FOSS is just flat. "heres a thing, play it if you like it. make changes if you don't. just do whatever you want with it". In fact, our favorite license makes it very clear.

 * 0 A.D. is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
 * but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
 * MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.  See the
 * GNU General Public License for more details.

Edited by smiley
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On a more serious note. There's a lot of "OMG 0 AD is going to die!" type of comments being made. Let's assume, if only for the sake of argument, that this is true. So what if 0 AD dies? What's the big deal? Will the planet explode? Will your life be over? Of course not. 

Have you ever seen users with green nicknames? Those are former staff. There's been a lot of them, from artists to programmers to historians to project leaders, etc. People come and go. They make some contributions and then they move on to other things. Projects themselves come and go. If 0 AD dies, it's not the end of the world. So the whole rhetoric of "OMG fix the balance or the project will die!" is moot. 

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An idea: make unit stats adjustable during game setup, and all players use the stats stored on the host's computer. This resolves all of the balancing issues on the forum, no need to trouble the developers and players can decide the stats of units for balance. There will be no more balancing conundrum. 

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1 hour ago, Sevda said:

An idea: make unit stats adjustable during game setup, and all players use the stats stored on the host's computer. This resolves all of the balancing issues on the forum, no need to trouble the developers and players can decide the stats of units for balance. There will be no more balancing conundrum. 

that would be great for an API or for the editor.

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IIRC those stats are in XML files though each civ has a separate file for each unit so it is a tedious process to edit each file in question so a way of dealing with all the files at once is needed not a trivial task basically a macro for a text editor and not many text editors have macro search and replace functions and then they are not available on all the platforms we support.

Enjoy the Choice :)  

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ok there has been a lot of comments and a lot of heat, so it took some time to let my thoughts cool down enough for sharing.

first of all, I must say I'm sorry for having caused flame, I'm unhappy with how things are going (not a secret) and my criticisms have probably been quite too sour. I shouldn't have said that the state of development of the game is bad, that was completely pointless on my side and it wasn't my place to complain about it. I should have focused solely on the constructive part of my criticism. I'm sorry for spoiling the discussion.

now recapping, I think we can agree that the efforts for balancing the game are inefficient, misplaced, and I see three possible solutions to this, all of them being discussed above:

- have all balancing staff on svn and phab. changes must be made, discussed, tested, emended on a continuous cycle.

- same as above, but on github/gitlab instead.

- have a faster release cycle where an official balancing mod can be updated using a different system from the main game (like github)

I don't think it's ever been an issue about openness of discussion. balancing simply cannot work if all the testing is made on a game that only gets major releases.

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Realistically, I think those would help with pure balance efforts, but:

  • We aren't giving commit access to balancers on SVN, and it's unlikely that the switch to git would help much on its own (not even mentioning that git is rather complex to use).
  • Giving access to just the balance data requires splitting the 0 A.D. mod from the public mod, & then actually using svn or git for it.

All of this is work. Stan has plans for a gitlab migration, but progress is slow for lack of time. Splitting the 0 A.D. and public mod is also work and will lead to interesting problems of synchronisation and things like that. It's entirely possible that it will actually make development slower overall.

---

The only real option I see now is to make an official copy of the relevant parts of the public mod after A26, and then let players modify that mod while distributing it. But only assume A26 compatibility. Then nearing the end of the A26 cycle, look where that mod is, and bring back the relevant changes.

This of course assumes that the engine hasn't changed substantially in-between, which may or may not be a fair bet.

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  • 2 weeks later...

people seem very eager to discuss hypothetical balance changes and debate what to do, but not so eager to discuss the balance of actual changes.

i have had 2 balancing advisor feedback on this (quite significant) change for hyrcanian cavalry:

I made a mod and a patch, but still very little feedback from balancing people.

:mellow:

Edited by real_tabasco_sauce
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3 hours ago, real_tabasco_sauce said:

people seem very eager to discuss hypothetical balance changes and debate what to do, but not so eager to discuss the balance of actual changes.

i have had 2 balancing advisor feedback on this (quite significant) change for hyrcanian cavalry:

I think this represents the core problem of the balancing team.

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5 hours ago, real_tabasco_sauce said:

people seem very eager to discuss hypothetical balance changes and debate what to do, but not so eager to discuss the balance of actual changes.

i have had 2 balancing advisor feedback on this (quite significant) change for hyrcanian cavalry:

I made a mod and a patch, but still very little feedback from balancing people.

:mellow:

It's only been two days...

Honestly, a lot of time there is silence it is because there isn't a lot of enthusiasm for the proposed change and the balance team only speaks up once it appears that a patch a legs. I suspect that may be the case here because no one (balancing team or otherwise) have expressed any interest in the proposed patch being implemented. 

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54 minutes ago, chrstgtr said:

It's only been two days...

Honestly, a lot of time there is silence it is because there isn't a lot of enthusiasm for the proposed change and the balance team only speaks up once it appears that a patch a legs. I suspect that may be the case here because no one (balancing team or otherwise) have expressed any interest in the proposed patch being implemented. 

It seems a poor metric to sit around and wait for enough players to comment on something before doing anything with it. Especially if that something is exceedingly niche and likely few know or care about it to begin with. I do not care much about Hyrcanians, but I do want to see new features, and I do know Hyrcanians are sad currently. I will likely never use them, but somebody else might.

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