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Building a Great Community

Discussion in 'Warcraft Discussion' started by Retera, Dec 14, 2018.

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  1. Retera

    Retera

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    With all the various bugs that I have bumped into while Blizzard works diligently on Warcraft III: Reforged, sometimes I allow some of the negativity into my brain. I am not a perfect person. I played Warcraft 3 for about 15 years, on and off, because I liked to make things in the World Editor even when I was too young to create something that was fun.

    At one point I signed up for a second account on the Hive called redwing.asingaurd [sic, like Doomgaurd texture in-game] because I was exhausted from making lame, quick geomerge models for anyone who asked in any form of broken English, and I was hoping that perhaps I could finish my own projects by bothering other people to create content for me in broken English as I felt I had first been bothered. Then the account hung around for a while and I used it for the social experience of an additional persona, similar to what Battle.net allowed when I was a kid. That got me in a lot of trouble with the Hive; don't do that. Multi-accounting is a rules violation.

    Through it all, the good times and the bad, I have enjoyed my time as a fan of the Warcraft III game and tried to update some of my MDL/MDX editor software in Java from time to time. But knowing that a few Hive enthusiasts were hired by Blizzard to help with the game, sometimes I bother them late at night with messages such as "is joining games still broken? I coded my own game, and the join game button works every time in MY game."

    Some days I find it very easy to be negative, and being negative is objectively bad. So, I wanted to create a topic to ask what people think someone like me -- as a mediocre, mortal human being -- can do to try to keep the community for this game alive until Warcraft III: Reforged is released.

    What strategies do you fellows usually employ?
     
  2. deepstrasz

    deepstrasz

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    I'm using 1.29.2 until bugs on 1.30 are fixed. I test the PTRs from time to time mostly for World Editor and custom map related things.

    Wait and see. If Reforged will come out fully working, then hopefully the classic version will be fixed at that point too. If not, well, until now 1.29.2 maps work on newer patches quite well.

    From what I gathered, the actual problem is with Battle.net. Mapping wasn't totally broken. There are people making good maps on the newer patches with no real problems. As far as modding goes, well, it's trickier, I reckon, with the CASC and all that stuff they changed lately.

    You can have some jesting fun but aside you and a few laughs with some people, it doesn't help the community, especially in the long run.
     
  3. Naze

    Naze

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    It's easy to fall into negativity: we tend to feel good when saying "rude hard truths", even though such things sometimes just bring the morals of the listener down instead of actually helping with anything. It's human nature's fault, so don't feel too bad about it.

    Hahaha. Well regarding modding, take a break and you'll eventually bounce back again with something in mind, if feeling uninspired. Else, just participating in casual playing and helping other projects around if you're feeling like it.
     
  4. [​IMG]
     
  5. Retera

    Retera

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    Isn't it a bit Heretical not to be using 16:9 resolution? xD
    I changed my icon to Sheep Reforged!
     
  6. Well, that's 4:3, the OG ratio.

    More season aware
    upload_2018-12-15_7-23-42.png
     
  7. mori

    mori

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    I don't think there's really anything you need to do to keep the community alive at this point. It sorta takes care of itself, and there's enough blizzard apologists out there to compensate for your (and mine, and many other people's) negativity. Negativity isn't always objectively bad, negative feedback is useful, even if harsh. Maybe it's become acceptable to release updates in half-baked, half-broken states in this day and age, but it shouldn't be, so I'm in complete solidarity with you in regards to how you feel about blizzard.

    I've lost faith in both Blizzard as the big corporate entity that it is (not the least because of the recent news of Activision meddling more and more in the internal operations of the company, their shift to mobile games, and aggressive initiative to cut costs and corners) and in the Classic team, as much as it pains me to say that. Both have displayed incompetence time after time, and it's become hard to believe what they say after literally 2 years of mostly empty promises (the promises did really start 2 years ago).

    For the same reasons, I've little faith in Reforged. Do I think it will be good? No. Am I going to buy it? Probably not. But that doesn't mean I won't be happy if it turns out decent, I just think skepticism is good, especially when dealing with corporate entities like Blizzard. Display caution. Don't sugar-coat your feedback, because when blizzard fucks up, they deserve to know they've fucked up, in no soft terms.
     
  8. Retera

    Retera

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    I coded my own game and it is objectively worse and buggier than Warcraft III, though.

    To me, what troubles me most about what the Classic games team is doing are the things that have been broken since Patch 1.27 and just "left" because the developers don't know and don't care.
    For me, a classic example of this is the Test Map function. At one point in 1.27, it did not work entirely in most cases. So, they rewrote the code and made it create a temp file for unsaved maps in "AppData" and in other cases it launches the game playing the specific map file that is being worked on.

    That sounds like a decent logical rewrite to someone who did not use the World Editor for 15 years. However, there was an incredibly utility to the WorldEditTestMap logic that used to be present. The game would *always* make a copy of the map with that name, even when you were working on a map that had already been saved to an existing location. This meant that you could play the game, look at your map in real time, and modify the game while you play it. Then you could save your work while you were still playing it.

    The 1.27+ editor can't do that. When you save your work while playing the map, the game EXE has taken the lock on the original map file itself (not a WorldEditTestMap copy) and so subsequent attempts to save after testing a map always say "Unable to save XXX.w3x" because of the way in which they changed the design of the Test Map function. These kind of changes that are "fixed" enough that they are difficult to describe as bugs are just like needles in the side of the experienced user and his/her workflow.
    And they'll probably still be in Reforged, really.

    So, I think that's why we should just be hopeful. Maybe they will make an entirely new World Editor with an entirely new workflow that just fixes everything. Didn't they say something about that?
     
  9. mori

    mori

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    I prefer to try and reflect on the past when asserting my own hopes for the future. Even if they make a new World Editor, can you realistically say that they won't somehow screw it up? The Classic team hasn't exactly been the pinnacle of dev performance and communication. I reckon most of the people working on the game atm aren't even die-hard fans of it like most of this community is.

    That's just it. I don't feel the same level of enthusiasm coming from Blizzard towards WC3 as I do from the community. They miss all these tiny things because they have far less experience playing and using the game and it's engine than the community, and when the feedback is presented to them... most of it goes ignored.

    The question I pose is thus, how can a developer deliver a good product, if he does not understand the product? Maybe it's a bit of a stretch to say that, but it's definitely how it feels to me at the moment.

    I'd even go ahead and say that we, as a community, would be far more forgiving of their shortcomings if they were at least being more transparent about the development process. That's how indie devs thrive. They might deliver broken, buggy games, but the best examples work with the community, not against it, and because of that, they are lauded, not ridiculed. Just look at Factorio. They are a team with far fewer resources than Blizzard, a game that is leagues more complicated than Warcraft III mechanically, yet through persistence, passion and transparency they have achieved amazing things. The weekly blogs they make are a joy to read, and they know how to gather feedback from the community, and how to enable the community to extend the game beyond their original intent by providing an fully-fledged, constantly updated modding API.

    And then... we have the Classic Team. Short posts once a month, buggy patches, incomplete changelogs, and complete radio silence most of the time. Even Kam, who's hiring was heavily implied to help improve communications with the community, has kinda gone off the radar.

    It pains me to write all of this, but I simply cannot lie to myself and say that they're doing a good job. Because they aren't. Because there are teams out there, with fewer resources, with more complex games, that are doing a far better job than them at almost everything.
     
  10. Retera

    Retera

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    Then there are times that the bugs are my fault.

    There was a trigger Kam asked me for opinion and tips on many months ago. I gave him a JASS version, then thought it would be better to give a GUI version, too.

    Unknown to me, the GUI version worked it's way into the Stratholme Reforged test map. So, I was watching Grubby play Stratholme Reforged live in front of the world, and one of the biggest most obvious bugs (where some ghouls all got tinted yellow and stayed that way) was because my GUI trigger used globals with waits (unlike the JASS version that had used locals). So, I made this really obvious mistake in my one contribution to Reforged that I unknowingly contributed, and it was bugged.

    And I just had to sit and lament that after 15 years, somehow I still forgot and made the mistake of using globals with waits when transposing my JASS to GUI.

    Sometimes the community is at fault. Or at least, I was.

     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018
  11. Kyrbi0

    Kyrbi0

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    This is a good idea for a thread.

    I think negativity really doesn't help anything. That is distinct from (constructive) critique, however.
     
  12. Retera

    Retera

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    I had an idea about this. I'm probably going to make a PDF describing this idea in detail and send it to Kam if you guys think it sounds good:

    What do we all remember as something that made WarCraft III and its world editor great? Campaign units and items and content being readily available in custom maps. If I talk about Mannoroth, you guys probably all have memories of driving around a Mannoroth unit in a fun map of your own even though he appears only briefly in the campaign and mostly in cinematics.

    This gave me an idea about an unorthodox upgrade to the World Editor: adding items to the list of preset ones available in custom maps. Think about the "Phat lewt" item. For me, there is something inherently enriching to the WarCraft III experience about having lots of preset content to play with.
    But then I had another idea. Although for years I really enjoyed diving into the data files and learning how the game was built, at some point it becomes clear in life that what matters more than code and data are the humans behind it and the humans using it. And that's still true of the WarCraft III community today -- it is defined by the people who still play the game.

    So what if we combine these ideas into one project that we request from Blizzard: "Community Item Submission." Basically, each user from the community who prepurchased a copy of Warcraft III Reforged (or who does in the future) or maybe just anyone with a Battlenet account and WarCraft III can submit 1 suggested item idea of the form:

    1.) Icon -- anything from a blizzard product, such as WoW, Wc3, or HotS
    2.) Name
    3.) Tooltip
    4.) Abilities (if applicable)


    Then, we ask Blizzard to use the top 300-500 or so of the submissions and put them into the game in a new Item Classification that is named "Community". Melee games would not be affected if these items all had the "Include As Random Choice" flag set to false. So, we would be adding to the World Editor and custom game experience without breaking the game and without breaking the balance. In addition, 300-500 users from the current WarCraft III community would have an opportunity to permanently become a part of the game, which I think might be incredibly meaningful to a lot of people who made maps for 15 years -- even though it would be such a simple addition.

    This idea might also be really great for Blizzard because WarCraft III is already built to handle a database of a bunch of items very well. So hopefully it would not add too much to the time pressure for the Reforged developers when they are already working hard on Reforging hundreds of assets.
     
  13. Kam

    Kam

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    I'll comment on this specifically. I speak with people every day from around the globe about various bugs, specific concerns, scene news, etc. I am actively involved in seven Wc3 related Discord servers and monitor another 17. I am most active in W3United. We have our QA and various team members active on a daily basis with community, including a bug reporting form that has elevated many bugs (Current count is 90 of which many have been resolved). I am less active on the Hive website but due to needing to speak with a global audience there are roughly six hours a day I am not reachable. @Retera and many other can attest to that.

    I think what you are looking for are official statements and those I am not able to provide. If you are looking for dev support on a particular issue I am happy to help.
     
  14. Kyrbi0

    Kyrbi0

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    Huh. (@ Retera)
     
  15. mori

    mori

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    Well, I was thoroughly unaware of that, as I am not particularly active in Discord outside of a few small servers. Hive has been (and remains) my primary source of information about WC3, so I don't really know where to look. You mentioned a bug reporting form, is that on discord, or elsewhere?
     
  16. LeP

    LeP

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    Discord is literally deep web which means it is utterly indiscoverable from outside. Only getting bits and pieces posted in some public forum doesn't feel too good.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2018
  17. Kam

    Kam

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  18. Retera

    Retera

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    I have not ever heard someone describe discord as being the deep web before, although I understand technically the point that is being made that discord chat content is not available over HTTP as plaintext or HTML.

    Once or twice I have felt a bit of apprehension about the fact that when I describe technical and relevant bugs and issues to Blizzard employees from Hive (Kam, Will) they seem to spend time to consider my suggestions.
    For example, when WarCraft III: Reforged was announced, and I got to see it, I was filled with a strange feeling. I had once said many months before that supporting old content should be a top priority -- that my family will want to play our map files from 2005.

    When I looked at the WarCraft III: Reforged announcement and realized it was actually happening, I began to wish instead that Blizzard would spend their time building a superior product that was incompatible with the past but would give me a better more polished modding experience to enjoy for the next 10 years. This is the sort of apprehension that can arrise when you're in the right place at the right time to give ideas to someone who is working on the game and taking it seriously. It's also very possible that I had no impact at all and that "support old maps" was something thousands and thousands asked for. But it was a sentiment that I had agreed with in the past during a discord discussion.

    Ultimately that feeling of apprehension is a side effect of the fact that I care about the game and want to see WarCraft III Reforged be successful, and I'm aware of my human limitations.

    Edit: I posted this while looking at an out of date snapshot of the page that did not include Kam's discord comment.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2018
  19. mori

    mori

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    Delivering a good modding experience is extremely challenging and requires impeccable design from the get-go, a lot of investment, and a lot of luck. Blizzard tried to do that with SC2, but underdelivered, and frankly, I don't think they are in a position where management won't somehow mess with it. If they broke backwards compat. with WC3, they'd just be shooting themselves in the foot.
     
  20. Retera

    Retera

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    But backwards compatibility is such a broad-reaching term. They recently moved the Naga buildings birth animation to "SharedModels\NagaBirth.mdl" instead of a per-building model file such as "Buildings\Naga\AltarOfDepths\NagaBirth.mdl". [These paths may not perfectly reflect the actual ones that were in the game, and are simply an example.] Everything worked fine, and this is a good optimization. But then people started asking me why custom Naga building models no longer had birth animations -- and it was because the custom model files included a link to "Buildings\Naga\AltarOfDepths\NagaBirth.mdl" inside the custom model file. So now the custom model files need to be created per-version of WC3 if you want a custom Naga building model. (I don't know if this is still the case or whether they put it back).

    And that's just one small example. For the last few patches there have been a number of buggy natives that were added, such as how "BlzSetSpecialEffectYaw" and "BlzSetSpecialEffectRoll" are reverse and the matrix operations to apply Yaw and Roll to a 3D mesh are matrix multiplications where order matters, so you cannot simply flip the function calls and get the result that you desire. I have seen people who created inordinately complicated mathematical workarounds to what should have been a logically easy problem to solve. Are we going to live in a world where Yaw and Roll must now forever be flipped to be backwards compatible with the early adapter maps who already started using it?

    Because my biggest project used to be a mod with a separate EXE, but that quit working so I then returned to using that same content in a group of maps, I continued importing my custom JASS into the maps by overriding the file "Scripts\Blizzard.j" with a modified one as opposed to the conventional means of adding custom JASS code to a map. Continuing forever to support maps that have this kind of override is an odd convolution to the way that the game is built. If they invented a better system, I wouldn't mind moving to it. I suppose one could argue that I should be using "war3map.j" but the blanket term backwards compatibility would suggest that the game should always be compatible with my bizarre override that I use.

    You're not wrong, but I feel like sometimes the idea of backwards compat can be taken too far.