FAF is too resistant to change and has several significant flaws with how it handles contributions and contributors. Huge amounts of time get wasted on contributions that basically never see the light of day, good features get rejected or left in limbo, contributions and contributors get misjudged and treated unfairly, widely desired changes with willing developers don't get implemented or take excessively long to get implemented, etc.
These problems result in fewer features for FAF, fewer improvements, slower changes, fewer maps and mods, previously helpful contributors being frustrated by flawed systems and reducing or eliminating their contributions to FAF, etc. Numerous contributors have already left FAF as a result of these issues and FAF's excessive resistance to change.
I'm saying this as someone who has significantly contributed as a developer to FAF's repositories, made over a hundred maps/mods for FAF, and interacted extensively with numerous players and contributors.
To give some examples from my personal experiences and observations:
1 ) Last year, I wanted to make it possible for modders to easily add proper lobby options for their mods, similarly to how mappers can (mod options currently require an inconvenient/derpy/buggy hack). I initially reached out to Jip multiple times about the possibility of him finishing the mod options PR he had partially made about a year prior and then basically abandoned, but that didn't work out. So, I then decided to make a new mod options PR that was more focused on the core functionality, and I finished it quickly. Jip pointed out some issues with it, and I fixed those. Then, rather then merging the functional PR, Jip basically started refactoring the code to some more complicated variant of it that seemingly resembled a hybrid between my PR and his original PR, didn't finish that process, and left it in a state of limbo with no additional commits for the last 8 months, and I don't know if it will ever be merged...
tldr; it's disheartening to waste time like this, and this overall system seems way too inefficient with work duplication.
2 ) Most maps don't even get reviews on the FAF client, but when they do, they are disproportionately often reviews like this:
The maps receiving those reviews:
Suffice it to say, those maps are definitely not trash 1-star maps, but those sorts of reviews do make mappers want to contribute less, especially when there aren't good reviews to balance them out.
3 ) Some people spend a lot of time making maps for FAF, and it seems like the vast majority of new maps barely get played unless they are used in the matchmaker. Making a map that barely gets played can easily feel like a waste of time that discourages the mappers from making more maps in the future.
Good new maps generally take mappers between about 5 and 50 hours of work in my observation, and they tend to get lost in the shuffle of many low-quality maps that took a lot less time and effort. So, some mappers will then try to meet the standards of the matchmaker team and submit their maps in the #matchmaker-submissions channel. However, that often results in the submitted maps taking even longer to finish, and still not being included in the matchmaker with little to no constructive feedback for the mappers... This can be a very frustrating experience that has driven many mappers, even good mappers, away from FAF.
The matchmaker team has made some progress on this, but others should as well. More should be done to encourage the creation of good new maps, whether that be more constructive feedback for matchmaker submissions, more frequent updating of the M&M team top picks to feature good new maps, some sort of new feature or news sub-system that highlights more good new maps, map bounties, or something else.
4 ) Many people wanted in-lobby autobalancing and party support, and many people wasted so much time manually balancing in-lobby. So, I wanted to add an in-lobby autobalancer to FAF. I was told that there was a previous in-lobby autobalancer PR that basically just needed a button to be added to it and it would be fine. This was wrong. It took a very frustrating amount of evaluating, arguing and explaining to establish why that previous attempt was so flawed and extremely inefficient compared to what I wanted to add to FAF. Eventually, I managed to get my new in-lobby autobalancer that I coded from scratch added in to FAF, and it worked quite well and has been used many thousands of times since. However, I also wanted to add several additional improvements to it, including party support, slot pair shuffling, support for any number of teams of any sizes, and more. I even coded a few of them about 6 months ago. However, all my PR's regarding the autobalancer stopped being merged or even responded to on GitHub about 6 months ago, and so all progress on it has been halted since then. Jip had said that some of them (including my in-lobby party support PR and my aforementioned mod options PR) would be included in the next patch, back in April. That didn't happen. When I enquired about them again more recently, after progress had already been halted for several months, I was informed that a designer is now working on a new lobby design that may make some significant portion of my work incompatible and consequently not used regardless...
This experience has bothered me a lot and resulted in me shifting more of my coding free time to other projects that are more receptive of and cooperative to contribution. Other contributors have had similar experiences, and the systemic flaws highlighted here result in decreased contribution.
5 ) Particularly frustratingly; the in-lobby party system I coded was fully functional, desired by many, added partly based on Jip's suggestions and in a location that Jip suggested, revised several times based on feedback, and then not included anyway. To put some time into coding a new feature that isn't used is one thing, but to additionally put a lot more time into a repeated revision and improvement process for a requested feature, following suggestions for it, and it getting rejected anyway after being completed, is very frustrating to say the least. That is exactly the sort of thing that drives contributors away.
6 ) Many people find share until death to be too punishing, and many people find full share to not be punishing enough. So, I made a PR that adds a new share condition (called partial share) that transfers buildings and engineers like in full share, but kills other units like in share until death. The day I posted it, Jip said he'd test it and merge it that weekend (he did not). Sheikah and Jip pointed out some things I should change about its backend formatting, and I promptly adjusted it accordingly, and it was ready to be merged 5 days after it was initially posted. Now, it's been about 2.5 months since it was posted, and there hasn't been any feedback for it on GitHub beyond those initial 5 days, and it's just sitting there, waiting for Godot...
When I asked Jip about it, he said he just hasn't found the time to test it, but it only changes about 50 lines of code, and it's not like it's hard to test. I understand that Jip has a lot of responsibilities, but perhaps some more of them should be delegated if he really can't find the little bit of time it would take to test stuff like this after over 2 months, and it's not like he's the only one capable of testing stuff like this...
7 ) Many people have have expressed desires for new matchmaker queues, such as a casual queue, party-game queue, and mapgen-only queue. New queues can be added to the matchmaker relatively easily. I'm a member of the matchmaker team and a developer, and I've advocated for new queues repeatedly, but we still don't have them... Why? Resistance to change, disagreements on what should be added, and the majority of the matchmaker team's low activity level and general hesitance to make changes at anything faster than a snail's pace? I'm not really sure, but I do know that there's no need for progress on this to go so slowly...
8 ) There is too much toxicity in FAF, and toxicity is a significant factor in discouraging additional FAF contribution, especially when it is directed at contributors and or their contributions. How would you feel if you spent 50 hours working on something and someone called it trash? Most of the toxicity that contributors are exposed to seems to stem from a few key people who are often toxic, dismissive, and unempathetic, and those who imitate them. If the rules and COC/Contribution Guidelines were actually enforced on those key people, the overall environment in FAF would improve a lot, and there would be more contributions to FAF.
9 ) Widely desired balance changes seem to happen so slowly in FAF. I understand the desire to be extra cautious to not make a mistake, but it seems to me like a less conservative approach to balancing would be better. In the worst-case scenario, if a bad change gets made, it can simply be undone. If the issue is a lack of manpower, I know there are several 1.6k+ players who would be willing to contribute; perhaps the balance team should expand its membership.
I could give many more examples, but hopefully you get the point; FAF should be less resistant to change, more friendly to and welcoming of contributors and contributions, less time should be wasted, toxicity should be reduced, good features shouldn't be rejected or left in limbo, widely desired changes with willing developers should be implemented more readily, etc.
PS: the purpose of this thread is not about my personal experiences, nor is it intended as an attack on any person or group mentioned above. I was just giving examples from personal experience and observation. I attempted to be accurate; if I made a mistake, I apologize. However, I really don't want to debate whatever nitpicks may be found in my specific examples in this thread; let's keep things to the overall issues, solutions, and general types of examples, rather than arguing technicalities on details of specific examples that should not be the focus here. The purpose of this thread is to point out and hopefully prompt change regarding FAF's resistance to change and how it handles contributions and contributors in a variety of contexts. So, let's keep it focused on that please. To be clear, there are also many things that FAF does well regarding contributors and contributions, but some keys things really should change. If there is much discussion in this thread, I hope it is constructively focused on improving the situation. Thank you.