Game Councilor

31

Game councilor: part 1 / 3

Recently Keyser resigned as Game Councilor and last week I was approved by the board to take over. Some of you may know me as a map maker, for making trailers, for trying to improve the performance of the game or adjusting or adding in new features. I will focus my attention on the last two - and I hope we can do this together.

About us: the community

We're a self sustaining community with various contributors as our backbone. There are numerous ways one can contribute: By creating graphics for the news team, by being a personal trainer to help players out, by being a moderator to protect the community from itself - this list continues on and on. I want to take this opportunity to highlight two of them: taking part in productive discussions and testing the game or client.

Discussions

Discussions are a corner point of a thriving community. The development of the game should be no exception for these discussions. A recent example is the adjustment to the mass extractor capping feature that started with a discussion on the forums. This is the type of interaction that we should have with the community. In order to facilitate this further we're expanding our use of our Discord channel:

  • A new channel '#game-updates' under 'Technical' where all updates to the develop branch / release branch are posted
  • A new channel '#game-features' under 'Technical' where where all updates that can benefit from discussions are posted, including sub threads for each update to discuss the update with the community
  • A new channel '#game-general' under 'Technical' where you can talk about (technical) game improvements in general

You will require the @Tester role that you can select in the #role-selection channel in order to respond to and discuss features. The same role will be used to ping when new features arise. The role is shared with client testers and announcements.

I hope with this change we can accommodate a more community-engaged game development, in particular the idea is that:

  • The forums can be used to initiate a discussion on features / improvements
  • Discord can be used to discuss features / improvements on an informal level with fellow community members and the game developers
  • Github can be used to discuss features / improvements on a technical level with fellow game developers
  • Zulip can be used to discuss features / improvements on a technical level with fellow developers of other branches, such as the client or server developers

We're going to use next week to set up the Discord channels.

These discussions should involve bug fixes, feature suggestions and performance improvements. Balance discussions have their own councilor and their own forum sections.

Testers

People that test the client or game have a direct impact to the overall experience of the community. Their work is appreciated - I'd like to use this section to highlight @WhenDayBreaks, @Emperor_Penguin, @GenevaConvention , @Tagada, @Snagglefox and everyone else who has discussed issues with me in the past that they experienced with the game.

There is a new patch coming set to release on the 26th of November. You can find the changelog on Github. Meanwhile we're trying to create a stable version of the client with various changes including an auto debugger and improvements to team matchmaking. I am asking everyone reading this to contribute - not by writing code, not by creating graphics and not by making content or managing content.

Instead contribute by giving yourself to the @Tester role on Discord, by installing the pre release / alpha client and by hosting games on the game type FAF Develop. Then report back your findings - even when they are positive and stable. You can do so in #testing-faf and #game-general on Discord respectively.

Final note

The intention was to write more about my ideas as a councilor - but time is short. I'll be writing about other changes that I intent to make in the near future including a mentorship for community members that are willing to learn about and work with the game repository for an extended time. But for now - let us enjoy this game together and report back the bugs.

A work of art is never finished, merely abandoned

2

After a discussion with Ftx and other people the channels under the Technical section are updated name-wise:

(new)                     -> client-development: webhook for commits of the client repository
faf-testing-announcements -> client-announcements: shoutouts / highlights of particular commits / features
faf-testing               -> client-testing: general testing topic

game-updates  -> game-development: webhook for commits of the fa / coop repository
game-features -> game-announcements: shoutouts / highlights of particular commits / features + threads
game-general  -> game-testing: general testing topic

client-prerelease-testing -> due for deletion as it overlaps with client-testing

With the web hooks any push to the repository is posted on Discord. This already prevented us from making a change that was apparently not required (lobby presets work for some people, but not for all). Thanks to @WhenDayBreaks and @Deribus for contacting us about that.

A work of art is never finished, merely abandoned

20

Game councilor: part 2 / 3

With the patches 3728 / 3729 / 3730 / 3731 behind us I think it is an ideal moment to look back and evaluate. I can't do this alone - I hope to receive your feedback in order to finalize the evaluation. Feel free to add anything in a separate post down below. Remind yourself to be constructive before posting.

Evaluation

A few things I've noted during the first few months of being game councilor.

Communication

Releasing two large updates at once is always a mistake.

As an example, the developers patch was supposed to release on the 26th of November. This was known in advance by two months as I've communicated this on the news, through the introduced dev Discord channels, through the milestones on Github* and anyone that asked me about it.

I found out one week in advance by asking the balance team that they intended to launch on the same day - even though I have been asking for weeks in advance (as early as October) what their launch date was going to be. Petric and I discussed it and they had to release now in order to make it valid for LoTS and I decided to postpone the developers patch to the 20th of December, right after LoTS. Reasoning: launching two major events at once is a mistake because they have not interacted together yet and if something goes wrong you do not know its source. And surely something did go wrong where the adjacency bug allowed for quite novel gameplay.

As another example, the developers patch was supposed to release on the 20th of December. This was known in advance by one month as I've communicated this on the forums, on the news, through the introduced dev Discord channels, through the milestones on Github* and anyone that asked me about it.

Out of nowhere 4v4 TMM was launched the Sunday evening before the patch and here I was thinking: should I launch the developers patch the day after, as I said I would? I decided to go through with it because there are new tournaments taking place early next year such as the Rainbow Cup. I need to make sure that the patch is stable for AIs and if it is not that AI devs would have sufficient time to communicate with us what was going wrong. Alas - things did go wrong as the disconnection window received an update but the default settings of the auto lobby (read: ladder) didn't get the same update. This issue wouldn't be critical as for the 1v1 and 2v2 queue the amount of connectivity issues are limited. But for the novel 4v4 queue connectivity issues are a lot more present and therefore people playing on Monday were experiencing a whole new type of ever-present disconnection window in the left top corner of their screen.

Long story short: communicating what is going to happen is key. It is frustrating for everyone involved when that doesn't happen. I've kept this to the impact on me - but the same applies to the News Team that got flanked by the last news on Sunday evening while the news set to release on Monday was essentially already finished and they were supposed to go on holiday-mode.

  • Note that I'm talking about milestone 3726 that was set to the 26th of November, got moved back (to the 20th of december). The name of the milestone didn't change as 3728 (the actual patch) was already taken by another milestone.

Stability of releases

In my opinion there are three type of releases:

  • (1) A stable release, no issues and no consecutive hotfixes required
  • (2) A release with minor issues, a consecutive hotfix is not immediately required but it is coming
  • (3) A release that is clearly broken

For all obvious reasons I aim for (1), but in practice I typically end up like (2). Even big budget companies like Ubisoft with their Game patch 13 for Anno 1800 introduces quite an amount of bugs and end up like (2) instead of (1). In my personal opinion a release like (2) is decent. However, we've also had releases like (3) in the past where the game is immediate and clearly broken - even though the issue may have been reported by a user.

Community interaction

One thing I am happy about is the amount of community interaction with the game repository. In particular having a separate channels and threads in Discord has helped a lot. There has also been more interest for the community in general. As an example, @GAS introduced the hover queue feature useful for casting and @Eternal made the UI for it.

Approach based on evaluation

A few things to change during the last few months as game councilor.

Playtest before release

To prevent a release like (3) I will refuse to release any large code base change that has not at least been played five times by the members of the team responsible. These play tests should be on various (popular) maps, including Dual Gap, Setons, the map generator and two of their own choice. The reason is simple: if something is at odds then players that often play those maps will notice. And since the people responsible for the patch are in-game playing they can immediate ponder on what changes may have done this.

I've been doing this myself for the large 3728 developers patch. As some of you can confirm - some nasty game breaking bugs were found and the wider population never got to know about them. All in all I think the 3728 developers patch was a (2) - one with only minor issues.

Better communication

In the near future I hope to finish the new readme for the game repository that is a bit more up to date. The current readme has not aged properly. As a few examples:

  • I'd like to update the content of the current readme with more relevant information
  • I'd like to introduce a Russian translation of the readme

I've been informing modders for the past few months to always test on the FAF Develop game type. I am going to re-iterate this in a more wider notion: if you want your mods to remain compatible with FAF then you ought to play them on the FAF Develop game type when we're asking you to do so in the news. There is a role in this for both the maintainers and users of a mod:

  • As a maintainer I recommend you to always test on FAF Develop and report back the stability
  • As a user, especially when the mod is unmaintained, I recommend you to play on FAF Develop when we ask you through the news and report back the stability

Informing us of the stability is not only relevant when things break. It is also relevant when things appear to be fine. That makes it easier for us to find the cause when things do break one week later. You can inform us on the official Discord server in the #game-bug-reporting channel.

As a quick example, this issue could've been prevented if someone would play BlackOps on FAF Develop when it was in the news. It was an easy fix - just a few lines.

Note that this doesn't mean that I'll suddenly fix your (ui) mods. Things that are broken right now will likely remain broken until the maintainer takes action.

Focus

With all of that said I'd like to look at what we have coming for next year.

Graphics


A 5x5 Evergreen / Tropical themed map


A 10x10 Desert themed map

Together with @CaptainKlutz we're looking into upgrading the graphics of (future) maps. I've been able to adjust the shader and embed additional information. With that we can use more advanced software such as a light mapper and have actual shadows, indirect lighting and direct lighting on our terrain. The results so far as astonishing in my opinion - and we have barely touched the surface. We could introduce biome-specific shaders with biome-specific properties.

I am actively looking for more people to participate on this journey. In particular:

  • If you have an interest in PBR
  • If you have an interest writing shaders
  • If you have an interest in graphics in general

then you are most welcome to help tinker on or implement what the possibilities are.

The current process on this can be found in this pull request.

Documentation and accessibility

As I mentioned before - I hope to improve the documentation about the repository and the game in general (for modders). I hope to revive the climate for modders / contributors to the game repository one step at a time.

Performance

And of course - the sole reason I became Game Councilor: I hope to be able to improve the performance of the game. There are still significant opportunities - it just takes time to implement them all.

I am actively looking for more people to participate on this journey. In particular:

  • If you have an interest in coding
  • If you have an interest in understanding how code ticks
  • If you want to make players feel bad because they have less APM during the late game

then you are most welcome to help tinker on orimplement these type of issues.

Overview

With all of that said - there are exciting times ahead of us. And I hope to share these with you - whether that is through playing the game, discussion issues and / or implementing features or fixes - we'll be doing it together.

A work of art is never finished, merely abandoned

4

Hello Jip, once again a big thank you for your work and efforts to improve the game. I'm very excited about the shadder I mentioned. Unfortunately, I can't help because I don't really know how to program. And work more with trial and error ^^ with my maps and mods.

4

hey, old time player, new FAF'er here, just wanted to say i appreciate everything you guys are doing, breathing new life into this classic

0

@jip said in Game Councilor:

A 10x10 Desert themed map

god that's gorgeous. 😱

0

@jip said in Factory models:

There is no 'we' here Thomas, there is just 'you'. Stating I abuse the privilege of being game lead is pretty disgusting when I announced that these were my intentions from the very start.

I'm not really criticizing you personally, or saying you have definitely abused your privilege, I'm indifferent towards 90% of your changes, happy with a couple, and displeased by a few. I just don't think you should get upset with the community for not reading all your posts and following along with your plan. It isn't just me, I follow along more than most people, but 99.9% of the community is content with just playing the game and not tracking what you are doing. We're just here to have fun playing a video game. The only time they will ever bother to interact is when you have changed something they do not like. You've deliberately chosen to take the position of the person who randomly pushes changes to their favorite game. They don't have the option to play FAF without your changes. None of them voted you in or approved your plan. If you don't want the backlash you can make your changes in mods which people can voluntarily use.

I never desired any graphical improvements, improvements in performance, or UI changes enabled by default. So now you know that I do not approve of your primary goals, you will continue to pursue them anyway, and I will occasionally complain as a result, you can't be surprised or mad about it. I will not religiously follow your plans and progress for these things I do not want, nor will I test them out on FAFDevelop. Regardless, you will push them to the main game when you feel they are ready, and if they displease me at that time, I will complain about it.

Your only abuses of privilege, in my opinion, are radically altering the balance of the GC, and making numerous UI changes that are all enabled by default. If you make changes to the UI, either release them as UI mods, like everyone else does, or just do not enable them by default. Respect me enough to let me opt-in to your changes, or else I will complain about it.

I think that your constant usage of the word 'immersion' and the changes you make for its sake are misguided. It's just a game industry buzzword. You do not need better graphics for immersion. You can be totally immersed in just a book, or any other simple activity. I assure you that my mind is entirely immersed in the game when I am playing it in its current state. Improvements to graphics, performance, or UI are not going to increase my level of immersion, its at 100% already. Games with horrible graphics are just as immersive as games with good graphics. Performance could actually have an impact on immersion, but 99% of 1v1 to 4v4 games I play never get slowed down, so performance is not at all an issue for me. It kinda feels like a joke to improve the performance of the game after so many years and hardware getting so much faster.

All I really expect from any developers is that they clean up their own bugs, like the draw bug they added to ladder. I also expect things like the Nvidia stuttering issue to be fixed promptly, since it was literally just a single console command that had to be run. It took like a year for that one line of code to get implemented into the game, so long that Nvidia themselves had fixed the driver already. But that was a failure on the part of your predecessor, not you. The previous, previous, game councilor was always pushing patches even though the deployment method was broken due to some incorrect file flags or something. This meant everyone on FAF had to manually clear their game files every patch or else they couldn't play the game. Obviously a very harmful and irresponsible thing to do to the community, since many people undoubtedly do not know how to do that or didn't know they needed to, especially considering these patches were also 99% things I didn't care about. The game team has a bad track record in my book, making messes and failing to clean them up.

What would please me from a game councilor is just fixing new bugs as they are found, and tackling the long standing issues of the sound bug and frozen/grey screens from alt-tabbing and stuff. The latter two would require some assembly or DLL injection magic, so I would be very surprised and impressed if they were fixed. I would also be happy to see revising or removal of the fuel mechanic from aircraft. Some in-game rewards and cosmetics, like the previously attempted ACU skins, would be a cool direction to explore. An improved in-game after action report/analysis sort of thing would be nice. I do not ask for any of these things, not even fixing new bugs, just the bugs that get created along the way.

7

@thomashiatt said in Game Councilor:

Your only abuses of privilege, in my opinion, are radically altering the balance of the GC, and making numerous UI changes that are all enabled by default. If you make changes to the UI, either release them as UI mods, like everyone else does, or just do not enable them by default. Respect me enough to let me opt-in to your changes, or else I will complain about it.

I'm failing to see how providing a UI option that can be opted out of is an abuse of privilege. If a UI change will make things easier for newer players, then it makes sense for it to be enabled by default. Also worth noting how you comment you'd be pleased if Jip focused on fixing bugs as they are found, yet the GC change you complain about I think was a bugfix. From what I've seen Jip also keeps in contact with the balance team about changes that will have a balance impact and fixing that bug is hardly an abuse of his position (it'd be a different matter if the balance team told Jip not to fix the GC issue and Jip ignored them and put through the change anyway and refused to revert it, but that would be a matter for the balance team to raise anyway. Tagada's also already flagged that the GC is being rebalanced so I expect it'll be in the next balance patch).

While I'm no fan of the factory changes, Jip's worked wonders with FAF over the past 1.5 years. You may not be interested in graphics or performance but other players are (making up a 99.9% figure to support your argument also does you no credit). Even if you're not interested in them, changes that in the long term significantly improve FAF's performance and/or graphics are a good thing since they make the game more attractive to new players as well as increasing the potential pool of players (you dont need as good a CPU to play on most FAF maps). Jip's also clearly listened to the feedback on factory changes (per the various forum threads inviting suggestions), so while in the short term the factory change may not be an improvement, hopefully in the long term it is.

Jip's also significantly improved documentation on FAF and made it significantly easier for current and future contributors to improve FAF (another of the stated aims in the original posts in this thread).

It's one thing to give Jip feedback that you don't like a change, quite another to accuse Jip of an abuse, while the changes that prompted your accusation related to attempts to improve the graphics of the game (which as Jip rightly pointed out was one of the key areas of focus flagged in his post above). Overall the changes Jip's brought have significantly improved FAF, and I hope Jip doesn't get disheartened reading comments such as yours accusing him of an abuse of privilege.

0

@maudlin27 said in Game Councilor:

@thomashiatt said in Game Councilor:

Your only abuses of privilege, in my opinion, are radically altering the balance of the GC, and making numerous UI changes that are all enabled by default. If you make changes to the UI, either release them as UI mods, like everyone else does, or just do not enable them by default. Respect me enough to let me opt-in to your changes, or else I will complain about it.

I'm failing to see how providing a UI option that can be opted out of is an abuse of privilege. If a UI change will make things easier for newer players, then it makes sense for it to be enabled by default.

Then have it enabled in the game.prefs for new players - but don't change it for existing players. New features shouldn't break expected behaviour for software updates if avoidable.

Also worth noting how you comment you'd be pleased if Jip focused on fixing bugs as they are found, yet the GC change you complain about I think was a bugfix. From what I've seen Jip also keeps in contact with the balance team about changes that will have a balance impact and fixing that bug is hardly an abuse of his position (it'd be a different matter if the balance team told Jip not to fix the GC issue and Jip ignored them and put through the change anyway and refused to revert it, but that would be a matter for the balance team to raise anyway. Tagada's also already flagged that the GC is being rebalanced so I expect it'll be in the next balance patch).

The GC getting fixed was great as I'm sure many players were frustrated with how the tractor beams worked. I remember once spending half an hour in sandbox trying to see if there was any trick to get them to fire more reliably.
That said - this feels like a breakdown between the teams since it is now pretty OP vs T3 armies. If we can identify a balance issue with a bug fix it should probably wait until it is re-tuned before introducing to the game.

While I'm no fan of the factory changes, Jip's worked wonders with FAF over the past 1.5 years. You may not be interested in graphics or performance but other players are (making up a 99.9% figure to support your argument also does you no credit). Even if you're not interested in them, changes that in the long term significantly improve FAF's performance and/or graphics are a good thing since they make the game more attractive to new players as well as increasing the potential pool of players (you dont need as good a CPU to play on most FAF maps). Jip's also clearly listened to the feedback on factory changes (per the various forum threads inviting suggestions), so while in the short term the factory change may not be an improvement, hopefully in the long term it is.

Visuals are definitely important to the game and attracting new players, one reason I was worried about the wonky buildings. Those flashy Youtube videos of gameplay definitely help bring them in, and the graphics still hold up decently well for such an older game IMO.

The change to HQ models did blindside me as well, and I read the proposals and had a look through the first video, as I was considering jumping in. My understanding was it was just the textures that were being cleaned up. I usually rely on strategic icons to identify, but consider in a gameplay video / cast, you want it obvious that it is the HQ your experimental is destroying for example.

Jip's also significantly improved documentation on FAF and made it significantly easier for current and future contributors to improve FAF (another of the stated aims in the original posts in this thread).

It's one thing to give Jip feedback that you don't like a change, quite another to accuse Jip of an abuse, while the changes that prompted your accusation related to attempts to improve the graphics of the game (which as Jip rightly pointed out was one of the key areas of focus flagged in his post above). Overall the changes Jip's brought have significantly improved FAF, and I hope Jip doesn't get disheartened reading comments such as yours accusing him of an abuse of privilege.

Jip has done wonders to improve the game overall since he took the team lead. There are still plenty of players out there on older machines, laptops are still popular so every bit of perfomance still matters with this single threaded game.

Adding new stuff and fixing broken stuff helps keep the game fresh, I would just recommend some caution on how it is brought in, to help minimize grumbling πŸ™‚

https://xkcd.com/1770/

3

@thomashiatt said in Game Councilor:

@jip said in Factory models:

There is no 'we' here Thomas, there is just 'you'. Stating I abuse the privilege of being game lead is pretty disgusting when I announced that these were my intentions from the very start.

I think that your constant usage of the word 'immersion' and the changes you make for its sake are misguided. It's just a game industry buzzword. You do not need better graphics for immersion. You can be totally immersed in just a book, or any other simple activity. I assure you that my mind is entirely immersed in the game when I am playing it in its current state. Improvements to graphics, performance, or UI are not going to increase my level of immersion, its at 100% already. Games with horrible graphics are just as immersive as games with good graphics. Performance could actually have an impact on immersion, but 99% of 1v1 to 4v4 games I play never get slowed down, so performance is not at all an issue for me. It kinda feels like a joke to improve the performance of the game after so many years and hardware getting so much faster.

While i agree with your upper sentences. Your last sentence is just lost in ignorance of the game. You can only run so fast because the game is single core and not multi-core. People want to play bigger games. You ain't the only guy playing the game. You don't have performance issues because you dont play bigger games, ok? Cool?

What about the other people who do play 20k+ with AI or 20k+ with 6v6 etc. They have slowdown and thats what the patches are definitely aimed for. Again, you can only run so fast with a 3090 RTX and I9 13k, simple as that you will cap out. Jip's work increases that cap for EVERYONE! Not to mention that the game is slowed down to the slowest person's PC which improves everyone's game when Jip introduces more patches that improve performance.

Let's not get into the memory improvements that Jip has added which does so much for AI Developers on FAF, while you might not like the certain features. That are turned on by default. You could always turn them off it's definitely just a personal negative experience on your part which is fine but i wouldn't make that an arguing point.

Also freeing up performance allows more actual useful code to be running and mods to be slightly more intensive like Total Mayhem for example. It's all around a big improvement for not just gameplay but for modders, more CPU to work with and more Memory to work with.

The game is healthier then ever because of Jip and his ability to not only code this work but to gather an entire team and lead it to make the game better more beautiful more performant. Your arguments are opinions but the facts of his work lay in front of us, so i mean if he's the only guy really doing anything then he should have the most say in all things because hes the only one making the game better in all aspects and single handedly allowing bigger more awesome games which is what SUPCOM was designed for!

Jip not only contributes to the game but he literally makes features at request for example nav generator for AI. He works so hard to modernize the game for Professionals like yourself (I know cringe), Thomas. Thats what his UI work is for, it's too increase the ability to control the units and make everything less tedious. I'm pretty sure Jip's work is making FAF grow too, because FAF looks alive and worked on a lot. The developers are responsive as well.

Developer for LOUD Project | https://discord.gg/DfWXMg9
AI Development FAF Discord | https://discord.gg/ChRfhB3
AI Developer for FAF

Community Manager for FAF
Member of the FAF Association
FAF Developer

5

The level of entitlement I've seen over the last several days on this forum is incredible.

Jip & co have brought FAF to a new level over the year+. Be happy we aren't stuck playing on a clone of GPGNet, instead we have people willing to continually work on and improve the game. The performance improvements alone are more than we could've asked anyone to do. The fact they're trying to modernize the game to a degree without access to the source code is a feat itself.

Jip more than communicates enough and is always open to feedback, don't blame him because yall don't make an effort to keep up with development nor do you play on Develop to test the changes. Instead, make an effort to be part of the process if you're so unhappy with it.

1

A large part of my post is me presenting my own desires for the game. I'm aware many people may care about graphics, performance, and AI, but I do not. Me stating that I do not want those changes is me participating in the discussion, as you all claim that I should. Everyone is free to ignore what I want and work on what they want.

1

@maudlin27 said in Game Councilor:

I'm failing to see how providing a UI option that can be opted out of is an abuse of privilege. If a UI change will make things easier for newer players, then it makes sense for it to be enabled by default. Also worth noting how you comment you'd be pleased if Jip focused on fixing bugs as they are found, yet the GC change you complain about I think was a bugfix.

I came back after a break and had to find replacements for 3 of my UI mods and stop using one entirely, because they are broken by UI changes. I also have to disable weird automatic mex placement and reclaim batching because I do not like them. The upgrade hotkey change required a new UI mod to undo it. Hotbuild was made more finicky by mistake in the process of UI changes. Breaking UI mods and bugging hotbuild is not intentional, of course, but it is a side of effect of UI changes that does negatively, while the changes did not benefit me. You can argue that these hypothetically make things better for new players, but they also make things worse for existing players, me. I see plenty of accidental T3 mexes in high level ladder replays and my own games, as well as mistakes due to the hotbuild bug. There are very few high level ladder games on FAF, so if even a small number of the games are damaged by UI changes, it's a big loss for me. These changes also break immersion, which is what is supposedly trying to be improved, because suddenly things don't work how they normally do and it takes you out of your flow.

It would be okay to fix the GC bug in a way that left it equally strong as before, or to simply hold off until the balance team could do the work. It's been "broken" for 17 years, I don't see why it needed to be urgently changed in such an irresponsible way.

@maudlin27 said in Game Councilor:

It's one thing to give Jip feedback that you don't like a change, quite another to accuse Jip of an abuse, while the changes that prompted your accusation related to attempts to improve the graphics of the game (which as Jip rightly pointed out was one of the key areas of focus flagged in his post above).

While the factory changes are bad, I do not really care much about them. I was prompted to respond more-so by the negative responses to player criticism and the developers expectation that the general FAF population spend their time playing FAFDevelop or forfeit the right to complain.

@maudlin27 said in Game Councilor:

You may not be interested in graphics or performance but other players are (making up a 99.9% figure to support your argument also does you no credit).

The 99.9% statistic is about the ratio of people who play FAFDevelop and give feedback relative to the entire playerbase. There's like 10-20k unique monthly players or so, if I remember correctly, and probably just a couple dozen which are actively paying attention and giving feedback on what goes into FAFDevelop. So the number seems pretty close. Most people on FAF don't bother to read anything on the forum, discord, github, or zulip, so they aren't going to know about changes until they are deployed. The only feedback you will get beforehand is from a small group of dedicated fanboys.

@snagglefox said in Game Councilor:

The level of entitlement I've seen over the last several days on this forum is incredible.

All I asked is that people do not change how my UI and controls work, just asking for less not more. Ideally we also don't have things like ladder draw bugs and Nvidia stuttering bugs left in the game for years at a time. If performance and graphics can be improved without negative consequences to me then that''s great.

10

@ThomasHiatt you're quite the joker. You take content out of their context to fit your narrative. You contradict yourself. At least now you're honest you're just talking for yourself instead of using 'we'.

I'll give you a week to apologize and to share your homework that you've surely done before calling me out. Cite your sources that you used to base your opinion on, show us all how badly I abused my privilege by stating the facts. Make sure you have all of them.

The modern internet is full claims and opinions these days. People accusing other people based on... a feeling, or maybe a sentiment? It is not how it works. When I don't see your homework after said week I'll just report you for harassing me and for intentionally communicating materials that is knowingly false or inaccurate.

For everyone else - thank you for the kind words. We're always open to feedback. We try and communicate the changes as best we can. With regards to the factories - we made a made a mistake not communicating that more clearly. You can still give your feedback on the forums and we'll try to incorporate them as best as we can both with the existing changes, and with future changes.

A work of art is never finished, merely abandoned

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I do not think I have contradicted myself, or provided any inaccurate information. I will review all my posts, line by line, explaining what they mean.

ae9d652b-c77c-49de-a7b5-47e044b4b8a8-image.png

I'm quoting two instances of you stating that the community should regularly participate in discussions and play FAFDevelop before taking a negative stance towards the changes. I used 'We' in this instance in an attempt to defend the group of people you are criticizing, the ones not participating in the discussion, a group that includes myself. Since they are not participating in the discussion, per your own comments, it is factually true that they did not ask for PBR or new factory models. I make the assumption that this same 'We', the silent majority, was content with the state of the game. I believe it is a very safe assumption to make. They are playing the game and being silent, thus they are content with it. I then state that you believe we should go out of our way to keep up with the latest news and changes and test them, this is what you are stating in the posts I quoted. I then state that you could make all of your changes as UI/SIM mods, I believe this to be true, as it is how all non-game team members do things. I then state that you are the game councilor, a position which allows you to deploy changes to the primary game mode on FAF, this is true.

Now the last line is the spicy one. I state that whenever you make use of your ability to deploy changes to FAF, it will result in criticism. I used the language "use/abuse", shorthand for "use and/or abuse", to indicate that whether the changes made are proper or improper, criticism will ensue regardless. This is clearly true, since it is occurring in the thread. Using this language also insinuates that I feel some abuse may have occurred, but does not make a direct accusation or provide specific details.

Your response was:b475b02e-9981-4b77-b8dc-008114cf4d38-image.png

As I have stated, the use of "We" was an attempt to defend the "A lot of people" and "Some people" you mentioned in the initial quotes I responded to. I have clarified above that there is, in fact, a large, silent, majority of the playerbase that did not ask for PBR or factory changes, but received them anyway. I did not intend to convey that these people felt you had abused your privilege, regarding factory changes or otherwise, merely that this silent majority did not ask for changes, does not participate in discussions and feedback, yet will come out to complain when the changes are deployed to FAF.

Now onto the posts in this thread.

@thomashiatt said in Game Councilor:

I'm not really criticizing you personally, or saying you have definitely abused your privilege, I'm indifferent towards 90% of your changes, happy with a couple, and displeased by a few. I just don't think you should get upset with the community for not reading all your posts and following along with your plan. It isn't just me, I follow along more than most people, but 99.9% of the community is content with just playing the game and not tracking what you are doing. We're just here to have fun playing a video game. The only time they will ever bother to interact is when you have changed something they do not like. You've deliberately chosen to take the position of the person who randomly pushes changes to their favorite game. They don't have the option to play FAF without your changes. None of them voted you in or approved your plan. If you don't want the backlash you can make your changes in mods which people can voluntarily use.

This paragraph is me attempting to clarify what I meant, as I have just done for a second time in this post. I claim that 99.9% of the community is content with the game and do not follow what goes into FAFDevelop to give feedback. The only time I use "We" in this thread is to say "We're just here to have fun playing a video game", which I believe does accurately represent the goals of the majority. People seem to be taking the 99.9% statistic out of context as me saying 99.9% of people disapprove of the changes, but I did not say that. I said 99.9% of people are content with playing the game and not following along with FAFDevelop. Once again talking about the silent majority. The 99.9% number was, of course, made up on the spot, but it is quite accurate.

@ftxcommando said in Factory models:

People are insane if they’re blaming Jip for some lack of proper communication. He went above and beyond what basically any change would do for communication as it is. The reality of FAF is that nobody cares until it’s dumped on them and even if 3 people did care, the change would get pushed anyway and assume it was just a biased sample of feedback.

Here is the former player councilor saying that the reality of FAF is nobody cares until it is dumped on them.

@biue said in Factory models:

I hate to be the one to tell it to ya but most people have no interest in playing faf develop or joining the faf develop discord and that's a you issue unfortunately. However, the team needs to find better ways to survey community opinion in a way that doesn't force their preference on everybody else. You's need to remember you were voted into a position by like 10 people and have the power to upset thousands of players so how about instead of having a moan about nobody giving you direct feedback, revert the fac models, figure out better ways to reach out to the community, then go from there.

Here is another player echoing my sentiment that most players have no interest in testing these things. They also echo my sentiment that you have the power to upset thousands of players and were notelected by those players. They also echo my sentiment of displeasure with your "having a moan about nobody giving you direct feedback", which is why I wrote my initial post explaining that you should not expect direct feedback.

This chart shows that my assumption for the FAF playerbase is accurate. There are about 20,000 active users on FAF.
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I manually counted the number of unique posters in the pbr-development channel on the FAF Discord. There were 10 posters in the last month, or 0.05%, meaning 99.95% of the community didn't participate in that channel. I also counted the unique posters in the bug-reporting channel, assuming this would give a more fair and accurate representation of the people testing and giving feedback. There were 30 unique posters in the last month, or 0.15% of the community, meaning 99.85% of the community doesn't participate in that channel. I compare based on the monthly timeframe because that is how active users were computed in the graph, and because counting manually beyond a month would be impractical for me. Note that many posters in these channels are developers themselves, so can't all be considered as players giving feedback, but I included them regardless.

Now onto this part of things.

@jip said in Game Councilor:

@ThomasHiatt you're quite the joker. You take content out of their context to fit your narrative. You contradict yourself. At least now you're honest you're just talking for yourself instead of using 'we'.
I'll give you a week to apologize and to share your homework that you've surely done before calling me out. Cite your sources that you used to base your opinion on, show us all how badly I abused my privilege by stating the facts. Make sure you have all of them.

I have hopefully already clarified the few instances where I used the word "We". I have not called you out for badly abusing privilege. I insinuated there may have been abuse in a previous thread, without making an accusation or providing specific details. In that thread you were criticizing people for not following your plans and providing feedback, and directed me to this thread where you laid out your plans. I chose to provide feedback on your plans, list some changes I did not like, clarify what things I consider abusive, and stated what I personally want from a game councilor. I have never said the acts of abuse are serious, or that any action should be taken against you for them. I just provided a couple examples of changes that I think were inappropriate.

We can start with the changes to the GC. The changes to the GC tractor claws made it a significantly stronger unit, so that it now easily defeats T3 armies that it would previously lose to. This means it has changed game balance. FAF has a balance team that is in charge of game balance, and they release balance patches when they want to change game balance. You decided that the GC tractor arms didn't fire consistently enough, so you made them fire more often. I think that either you should have changed the GC in such a way that it stayed at its current power level, or you should have coordinated with the balance team, prior to pushing the change, so that they could adjust it to stay at it's current power level. Instead, it was pushed with the game patch 4 months ago, and will supposedly be fixed in a future balance patch. We can see here https://github.com/FAForever/fa/pull/4442 that the balance team does desire it to return to its prior power level. After some bickering a solution was reached that should be released soon.

This went smoothly enough, and is being fixed, but I still feel that it should not have happened this way. There are separate game and balance teams, as well as separate game and balance patches. A game councilor releasing game patches that contain significant balance changes is something I consider to be "an abuse." It was not a time sensitive thing, so you could have taken the time to do it properly. I did not say you should be punished for this abuse in any way, just that I do not like it.

The second instance of "an abuse" is the constant changing of the game UI and adding new features that are enabled by default. I deleted my game.prefs file today to see what is really enabled by default in the current game version. I was pleasantly surprised to see that most of the new features are now disabled by default, with the exception of reclaim batching. Many more features were enabled by default in the past, and I have complained about that in the past, along with others.
869e67be-4531-401a-be74-965288bf1c43-image.png

@black_wriggler said in Game Councilor:

Then have it enabled in the game.prefs for new players - but don't change it for existing players. New features shouldn't break expected behaviour for software updates if avoidable.

Like black_wriggler says, it would be far better if features were not suddenly added and enabled for existing players. The goal seems to be to improve things for new players, so it could be enabled just for them. You can have your cake and eat it too.

I am happy to see that most of the features are now disabled by default. Reclaim batching is, however, still enabled by default. Reclaim batching is also something that could have been done previously by a UI mod (if I undestand correctly), and was disliked by many players, as discussed in this thread https://forum.faforever.com/topic/5135/i-am-loving-the-new-reclaim-batching-in-2022-10-0?_=1678207813565. It could have just stayed a UI mod, and people who wanted it could use it, but you decided you wanted it in the base game. This breaks the existing reclaim UI mods that people, including myself, were using and makes your preferred reclaim UI mod the one everyone has to use by default. You get to trample the other UI mods because you have the ultimate authority over the game, and I see that as a bit abusive. Once again, I'm not saying you should be punished for this abuse, just that I do not like it.

I have done my due diligence to ensure my UI stays constant. I have backed up my UI mods and game.prefs file, so that even across new installs and new computers I can still play the game in the same way. I have asked that new features not be enabled by default. I obviously do not want my any UI mods broken.

I do not think I am being unreasonable with these desires. It is widely known that competitive gamers and real world athletes like to keep things consistent with their settings and hardware/equipment. They may even have rituals about wearing the same clothes or eating the same things before matches. They try to eliminate any changes or variables that could impact their performance.

Regardless of my efforts, my UI will still be changed somehow with virtually ever game patch. Someone will randomly change how the upgrade key works. Hotbuild switching will get messed up on accident, and later fixed. My UI mods will get broken. Someone will decide reclaim batching is how everyone should be playing, enable it by default, and break my UI mods. This kind of stuff doesn't happen in any other competitive game I play. I find it very unprofessional and absurd that the UI and controls of a 17 year old game can be this unstable. I can see the negative effects of these things in my own gameplay, as well as the other high level ladder replays that I watch. People are gone for months or years, and come back to a UI that works differently than when they left. They might go to the effort of replacing all their UI mods, and adjusting to the new changes, or they might decide it's not worth the effort and return to inactivity. Requiring a deep exploration of the mod vault and game options, just to get back to baseline, is a very unpleasant way to greet returning players.

I am aware that keeping all UI mods functional is not the job of the game team. And I am aware that some of the things I complain about were unintentional bugs. But these bugs and broken mods are the result of the relaxed attitude towards changing the UI. I understand the desire to enhance the UI, but I think at this point in the games lifecycle, changes to the UI should be done though mods, rather than game patches. Players can pick and choose which mods they want, some mods may contradict with other mods, but that is better than a game patch breaking peoples mods.

It's taken me a several hours to collect this data and to write the post, but I think I have explained everything that I wrote and included some data and examples where appropriate. If there is anything further that you believe I have taken out of context, or any places where I have contradicted myself, please highlight them so I can address them.

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@thomashiatt said in Game Councilor:

Someone will randomly change how the upgrade key works.

Main discussion aside, I made a ui mod to fix this issue. The new logic remains in place for all structures except mex.06af32d6-d350-4ea6-9e80-d5b81c1c7af4-image.png

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Yes, I started using the mod yesterday after determining it would take a long time to change my mex upgrading habits, and there was no benefit to the new behavior. I often know what mex I want to upgrade next, but am not entirely sure if I pressed upgrade already, pressed upgrade and then paused it, or haven't pressed upgrade yet. Before there was no harm in always pressing upgrade to make sure it is upgrading, now that is very harmful.

It just seems very backwards that I have to install UI mods to keep my UI the same.

1

@snagglefox said in Game Councilor:

The level of entitlement I've seen over the last several days on this forum is incredible.

Jip & co have brought FAF to a new level over the year+. Be happy we aren't stuck playing on a clone of GPGNet, instead we have people willing to continually work on and improve the game. The performance improvements alone are more than we could've asked anyone to do. The fact they're trying to modernize the game to a degree without access to the source code is a feat itself.

Jip more than communicates enough and is always open to feedback, don't blame him because yall don't make an effort to keep up with development nor do you play on Develop to test the changes. Instead, make an effort to be part of the process if you're so unhappy with it.

Casual FAF player here, started playing original FA back in the day and was happily surprised to come across this community a year or two ago. Here's my two cents worth:

Now I've never been one to like change, especially in anything I've had great affection for in the past. Not a fan of JJ Star Wars or Star Trek. Hated Dawn of War 2 after loving the original and all its expansions. I even hated Sup Com 2 and it's bulshit research mechanic.

So coming on board fairly late in the piece meant adapting to a few substantial changes right off the bat (CZARs didn't have shields in my day) and having been away from the game for several months I'm sure there will be more adapting to come.

BUT (to echo in part what SnaggleFox has said).

Given the choice between being carried along with Jip and the rest of development team's vision (since I have no time to do anything but post the occasional bug report myself) and adjusting to their mechanic changes so I can continue to take advantage of the incredible work they've done to enhance the overall performance of the game

OR

Sticking with classic FA and rapidly getting bored and frustrated by the limitations of a 15+ year old game with no support...

Yeah that's an easy choice.

TL;DR - As long as FAF stays recognizable in spirit, keeps improving in the leaps and bounds it has to date, and especially considering that I contribute effectively NOTHING to this community in terms of money or feedback.

Jip and the team can do what they like. With my continued gratitude for their efforts.

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@ThomasHiatt You have not apologized. You can consider yourself reported.

I'm quoting two instances of you stating that the community should regularly participate in discussions and play FAFDevelop before taking a negative stance towards the changes.

Taken out of context, allow me to add the missing details.

For those unaware, the quotes originate from here:

The bottom line is that there are community members that feel they were uninformed about a change. To some degree the changes were in the news and promoted by Gyle. We did not mention recreating the factories at that point because it was unclear that it would be required to do so. I won't repeat myself further, you can find all about it here:

The discussion continued, again people stating that they feel uninformed. People suggested all sorts of channels for this. I'm fairly certain none would work in such a degree that it would solve this communication problem. And I know this because there already is a place where you can see exactly what we're doing: FAF Develop! And if you're not interested in that, then there's this channel:

A few posts down the line we get to the content that you quoted from. It lacks the arguments to backup the quote, you can read the full post here:

Which then brings us back to the bottom line: there are community members that feel uninformed. I point them to a few sources to be remain informed with the latest changes while also helping us out with confirming the changes. Whether they do that is up to them. But if people want to remain informed, regardless of whether I write a post on the forums, promote it in the news, promote it via casters, spam Aeolus or whatever - then you can.

I don't see what is bad about my response. People want to be informed. And they can be if they choose to be.


As I have stated, the use of "We" was an attempt to defend the "A lot of people" and "Some people" you mentioned in the initial quotes I responded to. I have clarified above that there is, in fact, a large, silent, majority of the playerbase that did not ask for PBR or factory changes, but received them anyway. I did not intend to convey that these people felt you had abused your privilege, regarding factory changes or otherwise, merely that this silent majority did not ask for changes, does not participate in discussions and feedback, yet will come out to complain when the changes are deployed to FAF.

Taken out of context, allow me to add the missing details.

For those unaware, the quote originates from here, at the bottom of the post:

Neither you nor me can talk as if they represent the silent majority of the player base. Anyone is always free to complain. I'd rather if they'd provide us with constructive feedback though, that way we can make progress.

The quote was referring to your constant usage of 'we', as if there is some group of people behind what you write. As if you represent people. You are, just like I am, just talking for ourselves. Stating anything different is just plain wrong.


This paragraph is me attempting to clarify what I meant, as I have just done for a second time in this post. I claim that 99.9% of the community is content with the game and do not follow what goes into FAFDevelop to give feedback. The only time I use "We" in this thread is to say "We're just here to have fun playing a video game", which I believe does accurately represent the goals of the majority. People seem to be taking the 99.9% statistic out of context as me saying 99.9% of people disapprove of the changes, but I did not say that. I said 99.9% of people are content with playing the game and not following along with FAFDevelop. Once again talking about the silent majority. The 99.9% number was, of course, made up on the spot, but it is quite accurate.

I feel like I've already addressed this. You can be informed if you want to be. If you don't feel like being informed then that is fine too. And when you complain about being uninformed then I'll happily tell you how you can always remain informed. Which is what I did.

Here is another player echoing my sentiment that most players have no interest in testing these things. They also echo my sentiment that you have the power to upset thousands of players and were notelected by those players. They also echo my sentiment of displeasure with your "having a moan about nobody giving you direct feedback", which is why I wrote my initial post explaining that you should not expect direct feedback.

Specifically:

having a moan about nobody giving you direct feedback

What moan πŸ™‚ ?

We're always looking for feedback. I'm sure you and I can both appreciate that. It is how we find bugs that we missed during development. It is how we can poll the community on what they think. We put a lot of effort into reaching out and as you state yourself usually only a small group of people show up .

This chart shows that my assumption for the FAF playerbase is accurate. There are about 20,000 active users on FAF.

There were 75.000 unique players playing at least one game, regardless of their type, in the year 2022. I'm very aware of the size of the audience playing this game.

You continue on with statistics in how little of the community we tend to interact with on a monthly basis. And you're correct. That is because everyone is free to participate in that as they see fit. Some people do, a lot of people do not. Which is fine - I'm sure you agree with that - half your post is about how strange it would be if we'd expect them to participate in more discussions.

To have a representative sample of a community this large we'd need about 360 people to give their thoughts. You can learn all about that here:

We work with the people that do respond with constructive feedback. We work with what we have. That is how life works πŸ™‚


We can start with the changes to the GC.

Finally - you know that this was the only bit that I was interested in when I told you to back up your claim on abusing my privilege. You also didn't bother asking what really happened. I'll give it to you regardless.

This entire thing got kicked off by @Deribus , interestingly enough.

It started with this question on July the 5th in the balance team channel:

Something wreck-related I noticed recently: units killed by GC claws don't leave wrecks

After which there was some discussion in the balance team channel about whether they should or should not leave wrecks. They wouldn't mind if it did.

That created this change:

Which brought us to this:

I told the balance team in the balance team channel that the colossus is an absolute beast with properly functioning tractor claws using the existing blueprint configuration. They thought it was a good change regardless. To quote:

As long as it makes it more consistent its better

The pull request was merged because more than half the balance team has no development setup. The only way to test it for them was to merge it so that they can play test it on FAF Develop. Archsimkat did and concluded it was way stronger.

On July the 17th the balance team mentioned they were going to look at it. Nothing happened at that point.

The balance team had a meeting where they showed the intention to release a balance patch soon after the development patch.

On August the 20th I made it weaker, because it was still too strong:

And that is the state we released with, knowing the intentions of a soon-to-follow-up balance patch that would fix all the other issues. That patch still didn't happen for the colossus, but as you state - we have a separate team for that πŸ™‚ .


The remainder of your post is about UI features being enabled by default. I'm sure that you and I can both agree that we want to give new players the best possible experience out of the box. That is why some are enabled by default. We tweak with these settings as we receive feedback from the community on what they do and do not like. There's even a post on it:

Not all of that is implemented yet, but as we are refactoring the options menu we take more and more of it into account.


And I'd like to finalize by responding to this:

Improvements to graphics, performance, or UI are not going to increase my level of immersion, its at 100% already. Games with horrible graphics are just as immersive as games with good graphics. Performance could actually have an impact on immersion, but 99% of 1v1 to 4v4 games I play never get slowed down, so performance is not at all an issue for me. It kinda feels like a joke to improve the performance of the game after so many years and hardware getting so much faster.

There are more communities surrounding Forged Alliance. One is LOUD, which took the same trajectory we did but then six years earlier. Another is the Chinese alternative, which is not far from the Steam version in terms of changes. With thanks @Edtjuh we can get a glimpse of what that looks like. You can see the full video here:

I'd like to focus on these snippets:

Do immerse yourself in every single stutter you see there. Do not mistake them with the video buffering - that only happens a few times as Edtjug is scrolling through the recording. Then compare that when Edtjuh plays FAF using the same hardware:

And you can experience this yourself too. Start the Steam version of the game and do the following:

  • FPS performance issue: Select 400 ASF while their range rings render, zoom in
  • Sim performance issue: Have 400 ASF fight 400 other ASFs
  • Sim performance issue: Have 100 hives build something, this consumes about 25% of the total sim budget in the base game
  • ...

There are many more, I encourage you to read the changelogs of the past two years. Search for the 'performance' header using your browsers search function. You can find all of them here:

There's also a lot of miss information surrounding the reclaim labels. We didn't integrate a few mods because we thought that was a great idea. We improved the performance of the reclaim labels because on a decent, modern computer rendering those labels previously could drop your fps to below 30 in the average late-game situation.

Any change we made to improve this would've broken all mods, regardless of the change. So we took a few that we thought were most useful for the average player and integrated those accordingly.

A work of art is never finished, merely abandoned