Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 1,961
It's been a real shame to watch what the bickering between the grinders and the Foundry authors has devolved into.

Unfortunately I fear that in the midst of all of this, the sensible solution that could, if properly implemented, satisfy all interested parties is being lost in the commotion.

That solution--which I cannot claim credit for, but I really like--is the idea of tagging missions to put them in two separate categories, and/or doing an overhaul on the search interface (and publicizing this so people know how to find what they want), so that there will be one category for grinders and one for stories, and the two do not interfere with each other. In this way, we could end up with two concurrent, but separate rating systems: one for the best stories, one for the best grinders, and everybody could find what they wanted and play happily.

I mean, I am what you would call a Foundry author and a story fan--but at the same time, I do like grinders at times, especially when (like now) I have a new build to test and a big learning curve that I do NOT want to do in an STF and mess up my teammates because of it. So I think there can be and is a time and a place for both, and I'd like it to be easy to find what I want when I want.

I'd like to request that this thread be--instead of for bickering--about what the ideal implementation of such a system would look like, and how potential pitfalls could be solved.

Here are a few things we'd need to think about:

Author-tagged missions vs. community-tagged missions vs. moderator-tagged missions

The easiest solution to implement, by far, is for authors to tag their own missions. This does have the following pitfalls: getting all of us to agree on a system, all of us getting on board with that system (or being present to do so in the case of old missions whose authors have left or aren't around much), and all of us telling the truth about what our missions really are.

Community-tagged missions...this would solve the problem of what to do with missions whose authors aren't around, but it could result in deliberate manipulation of the system in which story missions are deliberately miscategorized as grinders and then downrated by players, in an effort to keep them low on the list. (The same thing could happen in reverse.) So I'm not sure that kind of power in the hands of the community base is a good idea.

Moderator-tagged missions...this would be the most trustworthy system, given that you'd have people who are given a uniform set of specs as to what constitutes what type of mission, and have their powers at the sufferance of Cryptic/PWE, and would be accountable for what they are doing. Of course, the time and labor requirements would be fairly intense, even if the workload was cut strictly to those missions that have already cleared the Review stage. So this would be the most difficult to implement.


What kind of mission IS it, really?

Some very heavily combat-oriented missions do have stories. I played one in particular that could be classified as a grinder where I re-enacted the Battle of Chin'toka from DS9. It had most of the grinder characteristics, yet at the same time I really managed to get engrossed in the story (even with very little text) and feel like I was roleplaying, not just doing pew pew pew.

So the question would come in, where is the line drawn? What constitutes a grinder versus a story mission? I admit, this is another reason why of all the solutions to the first question, I would lean towards a moderated system rather than an author-tagged or community-tagged system, because even if we didn't agree with all of the decisions, at least there would (in theory) be some sort of uniformity behind it.



Despite these two issues, I think that a category-tagging system for missions could well allow grinders and Foundry authors to exist in peace with each other, placing a firewall between the two of them and allowing players to search for missions that suit their preferences. AND, if implemented right, what you would eventually see is two separate rating systems settling out with two different average ratings. Story fans could rate stories according to their priorities, grinders could rate grinds according to their priorities, and since you could filter, the two types of missions would not be competing for space on one shared hotlist, removing any "need" for there to be a ratings war between the two.

In conclusion, I would really like to see this be a positive "how do we solve this in ALL players' best interests" thread rather than a back-and-forth. I think that the community CAN pull together to make a good, solid proposal.

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Last edited by gulberat; 02-02-2013 at 01:29 AM.
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Posts: 1,512
# 2
02-02-2013, 01:28 AM
I'd be happy with a tagging system. Author tags should be sufficient because then the ratings will help police it.

For example if I tag my new mission as a "Grinder" mission but have nothing but dialogue it'll get downrated to Gre'thor, whereas perhaps if I had tagged it as a "Non-Combat" or "Dialogue Only" mission the players would rate more favourably (if it was any good in the first place!)

Edit:

However you still have the issue that when you initially load the foundry listings, default grinder missions are going to crowd the top. It's much easier to give 5 stars to a grinder than a mission with depth where things like dialogue/story/balance are harder to evaluate

Also this won't be a trivial addition and even if Cryptic was to move this up on their todo list it won't be around for quite a while.

Check out my Foundry missions:
Standalone - The Great Escape - The Galaxy's Fair - Purity I: Of Denial - Return to Oblivion
The Defenders - Duritanium Man - The Improbable Bulk - [WIP] Commander Rihan

Last edited by zorbane; 02-02-2013 at 01:33 AM. Reason: moar
Captain
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 2,305
# 3
02-02-2013, 02:13 AM
As a Foundry author, I completely understand the need for Grinders.

Some of the Grinders are remarkably well thought out and deliver a unique experience, very similar to the Fleet Events and such.

I have no problem with the aforementioned ones. Some of my best friends created them.

What I do have a problem with is a Grinder that is intentionally set-up as a "BOT". Those need to go, as they give the whole Grinder mission a bad name.
Career Officer
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# 4
02-02-2013, 02:15 AM
Edited : Not the place for it, sorry Gulberat.
I truly wish I could have held onto the optimism you obviously still have.
Best of Luck.

Last edited by hippiejon; 02-02-2013 at 02:27 AM.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 1,961
# 5
02-02-2013, 10:55 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by drkfrontiers View Post
As a Foundry author, I completely understand the need for Grinders.

Some of the Grinders are remarkably well thought out and deliver a unique experience, very similar to the Fleet Events and such.

I have no problem with the aforementioned ones. Some of my best friends created them.
Yep...that's why I mentioned that Dominion War mission. (BTW, it's called "The First Battle of Chin'toka," and it's by cusimanotexas.) It was a grind but the thought the author had put into the scenario and the tactical objectives was readily evident, and it was very easy to imagine, with the intensity of the mission, that I was a commander fighting the Dominion War.

Quote:
What I do have a problem with is a Grinder that is intentionally set-up as a "BOT". Those need to go, as they give the whole Grinder mission a bad name.
I'm not a fan of that either. But I at least hope that by offering a filtering or separating solution, so that the story missions don't get buried, even if exploits like that continue to be found, they will have to do so in a separate area from stories.


zorbane--About the community rating system...I guess my question is, do you think people will indeed be (on the whole) "truthful" about their ratings?

Also, the fact that the top list will still have grinders on the top raises another question about the interface. On a redesigned UI, should there perhaps be big, obvious tabs or buttons that you see automatically, that you can push for the type of mission you want? Perhaps they could say something like, "ALL," "EPISODES," and "BATTLES." These wouldn't be hidden away like the current search functions...they would be readily visible upon opening the Foundry list.

That's another thing this brings up...I cannot see Cryptic/PWE wishing to adopt the term "grinder" to describe that type of mission. Some other terminology that is at the least semantically neutral would have to be put in its place if this system is to work to the satisfaction of all parties. I chose "Battles," but maybe another term would be useful, like "Combat Simulator." (Any other ideas, people?)

Also, I chose "Episode" for the story missions because it draws an easy-to-understand parallel to Cryptic's FE's and might help in deciding what to do with those "First Battle of Chin'toka" style missions: the author or moderator would have to decide if the framing story is strong enough to compete with those sorts of plotlines.

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Last edited by gulberat; 02-02-2013 at 09:22 PM.
Captain
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# 6
02-02-2013, 09:22 PM
Any further thoughts on what this revised UI might look like?

I'm actually leaning now towards the terms "EPISODE" and "COMBAT SIMULATOR" for the two types of missions. That would fit with the "story" of who Commander Selyn is and what kinds of missions she can give you.

I don't think there's any ground to be gained by arguing--short of blatant exploits like AFK missions and one-clickies--which missions are more "legit" than others. Even today I spent some time in a series called C.T.S.C. testing out my new ship's build, getting used to my tray layout, and so forth. There's a time and a place for that. And actually...it's Holywater's CTSC (which stands for "combat training simulation") that inspired my idea for what you could call the two different types of Foundry missions.

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Last edited by gulberat; 02-02-2013 at 09:25 PM.
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# 7
02-03-2013, 07:25 AM
Tagging is the solution.

Author tagging with moderator oversight would be the ideal solution, I think. Allow the authors to tag their missions and then have moderators ocassionally glance through the list, reading reviews, to see if the missions are tagged appropriately.

Allow sorting by the various tags through the GUI. I'd even say start slow by having a set list of tags to choose from, no custom tags to begin with. Maybe stick a few extra tabs in the Foundry Missions window that pre-sort by those tags. Have a Grinders, Story, RP, Combat, Dialog tab for each tag.

Cryptic really needs to do something and do it soon. Not only is this affecting STO, but it WILL affect Neverwinter. What they do here will be directly reflected into Neverwinter and will only serve to make the Foundry that much greater in both games.

Please, Cryptic, please do something to resolve this issue.
Captain
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 1,761
# 8
02-03-2013, 11:01 AM
The OP has a great idea all that would be needed is to implement the categories into a search function. You could also add further categories like combat light, no combat story mission, rp, single player etc like the rating system the folks at starbaseugc slap on their banner ads. The player rating could be made more sophisticated as well to rate missions on story, content, use of tech etc.
Play more STO Foundry! (You can thank me later.)

A TIME TO SEARCH: ENTER MY FOUNDRY MISSION at the RISA SYSTEM in the SIRIUS SECTOR
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
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# 9
02-03-2013, 04:24 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by maziken View Post
Author tagging with moderator oversight would be the ideal solution, I think. Allow the authors to tag their missions and then have moderators ocassionally glance through the list, reading reviews, to see if the missions are tagged appropriately.
This two-layered approach could be useful. If most of it is done by authors, that would probably make it less onerous of a burden for Cryptic to implement since they wouldn't need as many mods.

That said, there's one other thing we'd have to ask if there is to be moderation as well...that there be a) clear definition of what's what among the mods and b) no immediate action taken against a player's mission until a mod actually reviews it (so that people can't punish others), but at the same time c) action taken by the mods if a mission is indeed in the wrong place.

I would also say that if the community IS going to be part of the solution to this, then we all have got to follow through and work actively to keep the system from falling apart. Whether or not you agree with Stahl's remark, there is a past history of Cryptic/PWE taking issue with the community's lack of self-policing. That means we have all got to get together and keep things organized AND use the report feature when things do get disorganized.

And that means the WHOLE community would have to get on board with this solution. No more "grinders vs. story" garbage--we will ALL benefit from keeping things clean and organized so that we can find what is to our liking.

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Captain
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# 10
02-04-2013, 10:48 AM
Question: Is anyone skilled enough with Photoshop here to create a few mock-ups of what the improved Foundry UI might look like? I have the idea, based on what I've described here, but I think we should look at the visual design of it as well in order to make sure we're suggesting an intuitive, easy-to-navigate, easy-to-see interface (very much in contrast to the current search, which...even as a HUGE Foundry fan...I stillhave not 100% mastered using).

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