Just noticed this thread and this phenomenon. Sad to say, the entire system isn't set up to be very encouraging.
If this is happening (and it does seem that I've been seeing a ratings distribution of more 5 stars and 3 stars than 4 stars, which might mean two different populations doing the voting) it just makes things that much worse.
I also think the UI isn't set up that well. I have, now and then, mistakenly given a mission 3 stars when I meant to not give it a review at all by clicking on the wrong button. I'm careful to watch for this now, but I wonder to what extent an increase in 3 stars (if there is one) is due to an unintentional error like that.
I try to look at how much work went into a project, and how much blood sweat and tears were shed in it's design. I have found some REALLY good episodes that were rated VERY low, and those people always get 5 stars and 100 dilithium from me.
I am not a member of a guild, and I know squat-all about podcasts and who's popular, so I find threads like this one a little daunting. I truly hope that when I finally release my mission in about a month, that it gets a fair shake. We all think our projects are special, so I am not going to be upset if it gets some low points for the way I handled some element... But if it gets low points due to the limitations of the foundry, which are completely beyond my control, I will be pretty upset.
You know ... I never even considered the higher difficulty levels. I suppose that would make a huge difference. Perhaps there need to be categories in the upcoming tagging system to indicate if a mission is balanced for Normal, Hard, or Elite difficulty.
Basically if you want a mission balanced for Elite you can't use commander mobs except sparingly. And Captains can be hell. If you have a Captain group you'd better either have only that group, or if there are more groups then you need friendly allies to help you.
The difficulty scaling in the Foundry (and Explores) is different from the storyline missions. I discovered this when the new ground combat changes were going in, but as usual was completely ignored.
I try to balance all my missions for Elite, because I figure if I can do it on Elite, a bad player with subpar equipment can probably handle it on Normal. I agree that I don't know how people have any trouble at all on Normal, but I guess there is a greater degree of skill involved in the game than you think (part of it is pre-planning in picking your away team skills and equipment).
You know, i really do appreciate the hard work that goes into the foundry missions. There are a lot of really good stories that are actually better than many missions in the "regular" game. (Not to say that there aren't exceptional missions in the regular game, because there really are quite a few.)
Still you might want to give a little of the same slack you're asking for.
At least one author has issues with people pointing out spelling errors. (personally, I agree that spelling issues aren't a big thing, but while some people are seriously anal about it, some people are just doing what little they can to try and be helpful.) Even so, one foundry author wrote in their mission description: "If you can't enjoy the mission regardless, you shouldn't play UGC missions." (So instead of just fixing the spelling and getting on with life, the author gets all hostile and defensive. Maybe the author is too sensitive and should just avoid the public commentary altogether.)
And the difficulty issue? It sure sounds like the mission was balanced on normal if you can face six mobs naked and beat them with nothing but a lolly-pop and an angry tribble. Maybe blaming the play-testers for being incompetent was a little harsh.
I apologize if I sound a little annoyed here. Unfortunately, the way a few of you make it sound, you're really not interested in any commentary if it doesn't live up to your definition of "helpful". I know that many of you don't feel that way, but it's just as unhelpful to make assumptions about the people who test your product as it is for us to make those about all of you.
Seriously, I'm not trying to take away anything from the hard work and great accomplishment it is to publish a good storyline and I applaud you people who take the time to do the truly hard work. Still, I encourage you not to take the end-user for granted, either. Make allowances the same way you'd like them to be made for you. I really hope to continue seeing great stuff from the Foundry.
Speaking for myself, I'm happy to receive any feedback. Although, I already try to fix spelling errors, balance issues and everything else before publishing, if there's a problem then I want to know about it.
That said, it is frustrating getting dinged for bugs, but it's not really the fault of the rater (I'm sorry they experienced bugs too) and more frustrating in terms of the fact that there are many bugs we simply can't fix as authors.
Going back to my OP, it wasn't so much to complain as just making a note that it seems like ratings have been going down across the board. But that's really not bad in itself (it just means a "good rating" might be more like 3.75 to 4 stars instead of anything below 4 stars being at the bottom of the list). I actually thought the rating scale was a little bit inflated before, so if ratings are a little lower then that's fair enough.
Good Heavens, can I just say "I agree with everything said above?" in this thread?
I don't think the ratings system works as well as it should. And I believe Cryptic should NOT provide specific guidelines about what qualifies for each rating.
But I WOULD like to see an opportunity for the Foundry dev/author to post a rebuttal in some cases. I've played one- and two-star maps to see why they warranted that rating... (and they did!) and then shake my head in bewilderment when I get a two-star rating/review (with no substance or justification) when I'm normally getting fours and fives!
We all think our projects are special, so I am not going to be upset if it gets some low points for the way I handled some element... But if it gets low points due to the limitations of the foundry, which are completely beyond my control, I will be pretty upset.
Then you'll have a far more personal understanding of what many of us are going through. It's going to be interesting if Cryptic is able to unlock the safeties (metaphorically speaking) and allow more Foundry asset and functionality access. Then we won't have that argument any longer! I'd welcome that!
So far I've only played "Dereliction" and can assure you that I thoroughly enjoyed it. (It was one of the few 5 stars I gave out.) Mostly I vary between 3 and 4 considering everything from canon, to thought put into the story, to ease of use, writing style and author's intent. I have yet to issue a 1 or 2 and I hope never to hit one of those mission anytime soon.
I look forward to playing "Atlas" but as this is a three parter, I want to save it for when I have time to go through all of it at one time.
There are perhaps three or four authors whom I know I can look to when I want to try out fun, interesting and immersive content, and you are certainly one of them. Keep up the good work.
I have no issue with constructive criticism. But "1 star: It was hard" is hardly constructive. I've even got low ratings over the grass not being attached to the map. Something that is well beyond my control. While I am more than happy to have someone point out my spelling issues for me, I do wish some of the reviewers would just take the time to fart around in the Foundry so they can understand what it actually takes to build on of these missions as well as see what we have control of and what we don't.
As for how I review:
:I think you hit the publish button a little too soon; or extremely offensive.
:Has potential, but needs some serious work.
Otherwise a great mission if not for that one annoying bug; or Developed fine if not a little bland.
Great mission. No major issues.
Why are you not working for Cryptic yet?
And I'll always leave a comment.
So, I hardly ever give our 5 stars. 5-star missions are the cream of the crop.
Well hopefully the whole foundry front end UI gets an overhaul to make it easier to subscribe to favorite authors and link missions to friends. Plus they could make a more detailed Review pop up. Something that has a few check boxes that the author can specify what the want there when they publish their mission. To help focus the reviews and feedback.