This is my stance, it's prewritten at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SDsnfOu1prAMZx0XbUlyZZprsqLdkV_BMu5ZAs9P0FM/edit?usp=sharing If this post has issues. Huge shoutout to everybody that put in their time to make this post - the longest on the forum as of now - possible.
The purpose of this proposal regarding the FAF Map & Mod Vaults (hereby referred to as “vaults”) is to create a system that serves to better suit the regular FAF user, to reward the effort they put into their contribution, and to avoid removing features and options from the user experience.
Furthermore, this proposal seeks to extend the range of valid contributions to the community, and strike out internal inefficiencies that are causing a large negative impact to you, and the client as a whole.
If you want to see more content in FAF, and that of a higher quality - without losing anything in the process; I would hope that you would support this following proposal.
This proposal eventually expanded out to 7 pages worth of text. I do deeply thank everyone I've bothered over the course of writing it for your input and suggestions. If you’re short on time, I decided to create a TL;DR for you. I would highly encourage you to read over it all before you cast your vote, however.
So, to summarise:
1. Do NOT remove the “Most Recent” vault tabs like what is currently planned.
- The whitelist only prevents the need to do busywork.
- Rule offending maps are still on the vault, and the burden of report work is now on the FAF user.
- Seeing your maps on the vault after they’re uploaded is motivation to continue.
- Removing UX options for users for easier administration goes against what keeps FAF alive.
2. Remove rules and inefficiencies that make admin work overly difficult, and take away from your gameplay experience.
- The vaults are fair game due to lacking a system for repeat offenses.
- The vaults are unjust due to your near-inability to appeal instant permanent banning.
- Content authors are just re-uploading content to avoid admin actions.
- The vault rules are unreasonably inaccessible, and poorly presented.
- The 3 Stratum Rule is ineffective and cripples content variety.
- The Meme Maps rule also cripples content variety in order to promote “standard” FAF gameplay.
3. Organize and catalog all of our creative resources.
- This makes it easier to help FAF, and stops material from being created multiple times over.
- Use the wiki and other established tools for this.
3b. Organize and promote what tasks FAF needs people to do.
- Make sure users can easily see what needs to be done.
- Explain the tasks to help onboard contributors to finish them.
- Provide rewards for tasks to incentivise content creation of a good quality.
- Outline constraints to better generate what is needed.
- Provide a worthwhile system to showcase your effort on external employment applications.
4. Remove the map bias from the Councilor role.
Let us begin:
1. THE WHITELIST VAULT
This is the main point: Keep the “most recent” tab of the vaults, while allowing the planned “FAF Author” exclusive tabs to be integrated.
The difference is this: Morax plans to remove the “most recent” tab, and I do not wish for that to happen.
The FAF Author vault will be discussed in Item 3.
Removing the “most recent” tab of the vaults removes the need to moderate them. FAF doesn’t need to go and spend their time doing admin work if they just cut that feature out of the client entirely. It’s a cop-out strategy. More below:
The first problem with stopping you from seeing rule-breaking content, is that the rule-breaking content still exists on the vault. Examples of this being a problem are cheat maps.
Consider the following:
I make a clone of “Fields of Isis” and add some player slots, making it a 6v6 map. I also clone the mass near my spawn a thousand times over to give me a significant reclaim advantage, and because I’m hosting my games; I put myself in the same spot every time.
Even if you’re lucky enough that the cheat is not well hidden and you manage to spot it: The burden is now on the player to go and gather the evidence and make a report. There is no reason for there to be a vault moderation team if we don’t moderate the vaults, so it’s a gamble on if your report is handled. Whoever does handle it must now sift through all of the other new isis variants to find and hide the map. Even if this is handled in a reasonable time frame, the damage to the regular user is done. If you think it isn’t possible for a map to get away with having extra resources on one side, we only found out Loki (a map with over 50k plays!) was imbalanced a couple of weeks ago. It can happen to you.
In our current system, cloning maps and uploading them again are both A: against the rules of the vault and B: are the easiest to spot and remove. This example could not happen and If it did, the problem does not lie with the vault tab.
My further points about this topic follow:
Uploading and seeing your map on the vault is gratification. I can state this even after uploading 30+ maps to the vault; seeing your maps in the list and watching them climb in play count is one of the only rewards that map-makers - and by extension modders - get on the client.
Removing motivations and rewards for contributors to make life easier for the administration goes against what keeps FAF alive. The statistics for map play count are being used to justify the removal of the tab, but I personally don’t think we have a real right to decide how many plays are good enough for an author. If an author sees their content get even 1 extra play, and decides that’s enough to create another work? FAF only serves to profit from that.
We also - as an aside - remove options for the player when distributing maps to other players. Relying on auto-download would have been devastating to FAF during the period when said auto-download was broken, and many users have expressed their discontent over the interface for the vault search systems. Allowing maps to be located with no extra UX “steps” covers an inconceivably vast array of use cases for how players use the vaults to distribute their content to one-another. It’s not something worth throwing away to escape administration responsibility.
2. VAULT ADMINISTRATION, AND THE 3 STRATUM RULE/MEME MAPS RULE
The current system is damaging the community to fix issues that the vault admin team have created for themselves.
I will first outline the current administration process so you can understand how desperately it needs reformation.
And then I will discuss the removal of rules that are inherently elitist in nature and remove your gameplay variety.
First: When you upload a map to the vault that is rule breaking. It’s eventually hidden.
So you just upload it again, and it’s back. You can repeat this process ad eternum.
The only way you get banned is to intentionally step into vision of the M&M staff and annoy them enough so they ban you from uploading. This ban will be permanent. If you avoid this step, the vault is free game for you.
Appealing your permanent ban is tough, because the staff or the admins do not know why you’re banned.
Outside of one particular case, your ban reason is not properly recorded or maintained in any location that staff can find.
Map Authors already know this strategy. When the vault team found someone dedicated enough to start hiding maps on masse (hello Farmsletje), FAF started to see an increase of maps uploaded to the vault in return. Authors are just re-uploading their hidden maps to evade FAF’s administration process.
Here’s a graph to back this statement up, it shows maps uploaded per day, big thanks to Exotic_Retard for sharing this with me.
In the FAF admin log, Farms went and removed a lot of old maps first, before moving onto the current uploads. This is shown by the authors of such content being an “unknown” because they’re so old. Names of authors start appearing around the 18th of the 3rd. I marked that date with a black arrow for you.
You can verify that in the admin log here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15Q3FJ9QN8nc51ytTDJK61brrUtqd3L3efq58GFJaclU/edit#gid=0
Why are people circumventing the rules? For starters, it’s easier to do and nets you no consequence, but another important point is that our rule documentation has some major accessibility issues. If said rules were on the forum proper or another website, users from other languages can automatically translate them from a web browser. It’s far harder if the rules are on a google document, and impossible to do if you’re using images with text in them. The current rules are using both of those. And so I ask you: Вы вообще можете прочитать наши правила? If you don’t know what the rules are and thus don’t know why your map was hidden, it’s easy to perceive the hiding as a bug, or as an unjust removal.
As an aside: If we had happened to go down the route of using more text in imagery and other methods that are less accessible, FAF could run the risk of legal actions as covered under some national disabilities acts. This is something I feel FAF needs to be conscious of moving forward.
On to the second part;
Here is what we’re removing that nets such an increase in people circumventing the rules:
Here is a graph I made in the admin log some time ago. It shows all the reasons for removal in a bar graph.
It does illustrate my key point, that being we’ve hid over 1100 maps for the “3 Stratum Rule.” This is the vault team’s way of gatekeeping content that FAF deems low effort.
What’s “low effort?” We don’t know. Just adding the required textures is very easy, so they added a clause to make sure you paint those textures onto the map “in detail.” except that it's highly dependent on what staff member sees your content first, and a lot of the staff are people that the userbase would not deem qualified to judge. It’s far too ambiguous for FAF to regulate, and should not be a rule.
I’m of the opinion that content that you inherently don’t care about will not pass the gate no matter how many textures you have, and this is showing in the map vault now. Maps are still low effort, and are just at varying levels of how close they tried to skip around the rules to allow it on the vault. Either it isn’t enough and it’s hidden (just re-upload it again!) or it is good enough and you stay on. Except it isn’t any better than having no textures on your map at all.
Painting textures onto the map is done in such a rough and artistic method, and so it is almost impossible to create artificial texture styles in the editor unless you “really” know what you’re doing.
If you want to create for example a city map, or a machine world map that requires a lot of harsh angles and square geometry? You’re forced to create a high level masterpiece to avoid the gatekeeping rule, or you’re just no longer able to make them with the current administration.
If you want to create something to play with your friends on a saturday afternoon, and don’t want to to spend a month making a map pretty because that doesnt net you any return, you cannot pass the gatekeeping rule.
And lastly, moving onto the second rule:
If you don’t want to create a map that is not made for the standard FAF ladder/teamgame gameplay, you’re not able to do so because we also do not allow “meme maps'' in the vault. The addition of this rule means that “fun” custom game content that defined other multiplayer games such as Halo and Counter Strike, is not allowed on FAF.
Obviously, removing maps that are not made for ranked gameplay only damages the variety that the FAF experience offers, and authors will not change to make maps for game modes they don’t care about. They just leave, and that is the worst scenario to have if you’re in charge of creative content, as the councilor role is.
Now I've explained the process and the flaws in our system. If you vote for this proposal, what changes is this:
“Meme” maps, or maps that offer differing gameplay experiences, will be allowed in the vault once again.
Maps that don’t have textures, or are impossible to have textures on, will be allowed on the vault again.
If you were banned for either of those rules, your ban will be lifted.
Add a proper consequence to users that intentionally circumvent the rules.
Create alert systems that properly alert you to infractions without requiring insane admin overhead.
Properly document the rules to help allow for your appeal,
and add a fair, time based system in line with FAF that prevents all bans from being permanent.
Move the rules to a more accessible location.
remove inherent accessibility issues that prevent users from seeing them.
present them in a more professional manner.
and organise for them to be translated into FAF’s main languages.
Properly extend these improvements to the mod vault, which is just being moderated ad-hoc at the moment.
3. ENCOURAGE AND REWARD CREATIVE CONTRIBUTION
With my proposal, you have removed the admin inefficiency and are now properly managing content that breaks FAF rules. You did this without crippling features that benefit the FAF user, and have allowed them to play games on modes that are not just our standard ranked systems. So how do you use this role to get MORE quality content than was previously appearing?
This area of the proposal outlines implementing systems that allow the councilor role to demonstrate the potential that is being wasted in an almost criminal fashion.
First of all, and most importantly; this role is supposed to be more than just a “Vault Councilor,” and furthermore, the role is not only supposed to be a “Map Vault Councilor.” because doing so leaves the vast majority of FAF creative contributions out in the cold with no proper project management.
FAF needs someone to do two things:
Create a central, easily accessible bank of contribution related information, and:
Organize what yet needs to be created, and promote it to potentially willing contributors.
The M&M Role as it has stood since creation, has been the one role most up to the task of completing these critical objectives. Perhaps due to the name, or pool of willing applicants; the role has been instead relegated to some kind of vault janitor. While I don’t understand why it had become this way, (due to vault admin tools not existing when the role was made) NOT doing the two tasks above has crippled FAF in a truly indescribable fashion.
To better explain this section of the proposal, it will be split into two relative sections:
Why this bank of information is required, and
How I will be able to manage the contributor base to more efficiently produce what is required for FAF.
1. Our knowledge bank:
Hundreds of FAF contributors spend their time creating tutorials, guides on how to contribute, and other such educational resources for every aspect of FAF. However: this information isn’t placed in any feasible location so that other users may access it. This means that when another willing contributor decides it’s time to write a guide, they do not know what has already been covered. I try not to imagine how many times FAF has made the same guide over and over again.
With the wiki, blogging tools, the forums, and the various FAF discord servers as an interconnected suite, the councilor role should prevent this issue from occurring time and time again by properly cataloging and presenting what has already been created.
This benefits everyone in the community.
- Veteran contributors are not hounded with questions on how to do things if they’ve already been properly explained.
- New contributors are given the tools they need to meet their goals without wasting their time on trial and error.
- People looking to help the community do not waste their time repeating pre-established knowledge.
I would like for the wiki to be the start. Discord servers have always been terrible for accessibility, and a wiki is easy to edit, can help display what is still to-do, and doesn't require “inside knowledge” to locate.
But what is still “to-do?
2. Contributor project management.
Here are some random items that FAF requires help to complete, to help illustrate the point:
- The forum is going to need a banner image and possibly a graphic on the footer - art assets.
- The Newshub constantly requires someone that can help create thumbnails,
- The Ladder team needs maps for TMM, and
- Nomads, SCTA, and the Ai Development teams will beg you to test their works and provide feedback.
Depending on how far “into the community” you are, you might barely know about two of those items. Just like how you don’t already know what has been done, the community needs someone capable of organizing what actually needs doing.
Feeding more information outward to potential contributors will give them the information they need to jump right into the project, without joining a server at random and flailing about until someone decides to direct them. It gives said contributors an end goal to work towards, and FAF is more easily able to locate contributors to fill niche roles that never get done.
Adding to point 2 is a system about presenting what needs to be created to contributors and providing incentives towards their completion. Names for this system could be: FAF Contracting, FAF Bounty Hunters, FAF Bounty Boarding, etc.
Viewing what needs to be created on FAF is essentially looking at a bounty board. This system helps to elaborate on the requirements for each request by laying the information out in something not unlike a design brief.
Have you seen the mapping tournaments I (And FtXCommando) have created? They ask for something, offer a reward, and explain to you the nuances and technical requirements involved. They've been nothing but an absolute success for FAF, and this system aims to bring this method out from purely map creation, to the entirety of FAF proper.
When you see something that piques your interest as a contributor on this client; You’re immediately shown what is needed and if applicable: the reward for doing so. The higher the priority, the bigger the reward, the faster it gets done.
You’re told who to go for more information, who to hand off your work to so it gets integrated, and what to send them. If you’re one of the people who are using your work here to bolster your employment applications, completing these pseudo “design briefs” is a far better case for your professional ability than trying to compile an explanation in the dark.
Will this work for maps and mods as well? Of course. The ladder team is beyond able to articulate what niche maps are needed to fill out the pool, and if you’re starved for motivation, completing one of these basic tasks is an easy way to keep refining your skills.
I mentioned the FAF author vaults would be discussed in this section and it’s because completing tasks like these could net you access to the FAF author vault as a reward. Other rewards for completing this could be avatars, forum decorations if they’re added to the new forum, and other forms of compensation as well. This gives you actual reasons to make maps/mods/other content and to make it of an acceptable standard. We can’t possibly expect you to work for nothing here, and while other councilors might protest that “noone is motivated to do anything,” it is this councilors job to motivate you. I personally don’t believe that your creative contributions to this client should be left out in the cold and have advocated for this stance across multiple other councilor cycles. Maybe it’s time you actually got compensated for the work you put in?
Finally, I want to extend these suggestions to grunt work.
Grunt work can be defined as for example: testing new FAF systems, maps, new mod content, doing janitorial roles like being a vault moderator, etc. No matter how many times we advertise in chat, no one appears to help because they don’t benefit. When we gave users even a small avatar incentive to help test ICE in one instance, participation spiked. I want to continue this trend by including them in this system.
So to sum up these three main points, You’re not going to lose the vault tab if you vote for this proposal, you’re instead getting systems that enhance your experience on the platform as a contributor, and you’ll be rewarded for helping FAF grow. You’re also getting a more professional admin system to properly handle the vaults we would be keeping in.
However as a bonus: I wanted to add an extra section at the end to “catch” things I had missed out of the flow of text here.
4. MAP/MOD VAULT PARITY: RE-ALIGNING FOCUS
The past couple of M&M Councilors have been almost entirely map focused. While I'm not the champion of modding some of you might dream for, I believe that mods are just as important to the game as maps, and wanted to use this role to rightfully extend FAF’s improvements to the mostly underdeveloped mod vault.
Such as the following:
- Provide tournaments for specific modding crafts, giving modders a chance to show off their skills.
- Properly articulate the rules for the mod vault because none exist, and implement the admin improvements stated in point 2 to here as well.
- Give a bit of attention to the mod vault UI. I’m not a fan of how it "uses" the space given.
- You see the space invader esque toast next to your name in the client? That’s generated from your name. It shouldn’t be hard to use that to generate a thumbnail for your mods if you didn't make one. This solves the terrible “half loaded” appearance of the mod vault.
- Asking for dev work is always a no-go in councilor applications but i’m partly responsible for the recent UI changes to the client as well as the incoming TMM system, (hello BlackYps) so I believe that making vault UI changes are possible.
Of course, mod related materials are also part of those due to improve in the systems i’ve outlined in point 3.
That’s all I have for you today.
Personally I think it’s time that FAF got someone to give their contributors the actual project management they need to really drive the project forward, and I think that the “Maps and Mods Councilor” was a role far too limited in scope.
Perhaps as the close of my proposal here, rename this role to the “Creative Councilor” instead?
Please leave any questions for me to answer if you have them, pms are always acceptable.