Community Building

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Community Building

Post by ^Tomisama^ on Sat 02 Aug 2008, 14:29

In the post on map naming, I may have come off as confrontational. If you really knew me, you would know that that is not the case. I am a team player, and allowed to have my say, will go along with the majority to whatever “we” want to do. Enough said on that.

This startup Nomad group is really the assembly of the “Masters of Total War Disciplines”. Mine in particular is “community building”. My major accomplishments so far (for those who do not know me) are the Clan Wars Competition, and the Code of Honour, both ongoing today from their conception many years ago (five and three years respectively). Enough on that too silent

I have said all of that to say this; no matter how good a mod is, if there is not a consciences effort to build a community to play it, it will soon die. Barocca’s statement about growth and death (cant fid it), apply to the community as well as the mod itself. I could explain the dynamics involved, and my efforts to save the SW group (and the resistance), but that may not be all that important at this particular point. And I really want to post this now, so that you will know where I am coming from.

*bows*
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Re: Community Building

Post by ^Glyndwr^ on Sat 02 Aug 2008, 16:41

^Kazemoto^ wrote:In the post on map naming, I may have come off as confrontational. If you really knew me, you would know that that is not the case. I am a team player, and allowed to have my say, will go along with the majority to whatever “we” want to do. Enough said on that.
Confrontational is not a word we would use. On our forum we are all able to post our ideas and comments without fear of any member taking offence. We have always adopted an open mind when reading posts.

^Kazemoto^ wrote:This startup Nomad group
For clarification...The Nomad Alliance...has been in existance since Sept 20th 2005 (nearly 3 years) when RTW was the 'in' game. A group of three members who enjoyed playing together founded the Nomad Alliance.

^Kazemoto^ wrote:“community building”. My major accomplishments so far (for those who do not know me) are the Clan Wars Competition, and the Code of Honour, both ongoing today from their conception many years ago (five and three years respectively).
Two noble deeds that have been and still are very successfull.

^Kazemoto^ wrote:I have said all of that to say this; no matter how good a mod is, if there is not a consciences effort to build a community to play it, it will soon die. Barocca’s statement about growth and death (cant find it), apply to the community as well as the mod itself. I could explain the dynamics involved, and my efforts to save the SW group (and the resistance), but that may not be all that important at this particular point. And I really want to post this now, so that you will know where I am coming from.
We appreciate and agree with your feelings and can only add, we have also been trying to keep the MP side of the game 'alive'.
Links to this site are posted at various places with the agreement of whoever runs the site they are on.
A lot of thought and work went into the two Academy sections we have here. Many players have made first time visits and we hope, have benefited from it.

Everyone who comes here, please feel free to post comments, suggestions etc.

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Re: Community Building

Post by ^Tomisama^ on Sat 02 Aug 2008, 17:45

By “startup group” I was referring to those currently participating in the Mongol Expansion of the Samurai Warlords mod.

Ok, and as far as “alive” goes. I want you to look around this coming Sunday afternoon and count how many people are playing this mod. It will very possibly take only the fingers of one hand to accomplish. Now compare that with the number that were playing a year and a half ago.



What happened to the 36 players?
Why did these folks not keep playing?
A few are still hanging around from time to time, and will play a game. But you are no longer seeing 18-20 online (the most at any one time I believe), playing this mod.

There are reasons for this, and ways that those reasons can be avoided.

Growth comes from a small amount of planning, and attention to certain particular details. These might even be called the rules of multiplayer community success. If you are interested I will go on.

If not, it’s all good Wink
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Re: Community Building

Post by ^HUN^ on Sat 02 Aug 2008, 19:57

I didn't consider your post confrontational, I understand the point you were trying to make. MongolWars 01 does not exactly give an idea of the kind of terrain a player will encounter, which is always a good thing to know.
I used to name all my maps in STW and they were all prefixed by my O_ map tag, which meant they were listed together. MTW/VI saw a more competitive approach to most battles (IMO), players were looking for fair maps and I made three packs of flattish, large maps. I gave each a general name and simply numbered them. Perhaps I was just lazy, I don't know (I can't remember my reasons scratch ) but it was easy and it removed the hassle of thinking up names. Most of my maps included some features but not enough to give obvious advantages to either side. Not that I am against difficult maps, I spent most of my time on STW attacking hilly maps and my approach to the game has always been fun. Unfortunately most people saw a hill and disregarded that map in future because it was not fair.
The desync problem in Beta 8 seems to be cured and of course, the STW textures are available again (call them basic or 'fuzzy', but I still maintain they create the best atmosphere) so some of the old magic has returned. I will be looking at creating a nice selection of interesting maps to compliment this Mod and I will come up with a way of naming them that keeps them together, while giving players a little information. (Would be nice to still have the STW map description)

As I understand, there used to be a fair turnout of players on the weekends to play Beta 5. This time of year, the lobby tends to go a bit quiet, but it is disappointing that quite a few of these players are reluctant to, or have decided not to bother with the Mod any more. Now that the desync is fixed, they won't play? I really find it odd. There are names on that list that seem to have moved on but there are quite a few who seem to have turned their backs on the Mod for whatever reason and that is such a shame. It would be nice to see more players, we will have to try to gather some interest. Maybe we can discuss ways to attract new players and a post like 'community building' is just the place.

Edit: Just returned to forum ... your avatar appeared and scared the life outa me!!!
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Re: Community Building

Post by barocca on Sat 02 Aug 2008, 22:14

we would greatly appreciate advice and help in growing / restoring the fan base for this mod.

we are missing people who until very recently were playing, but have stopped as soon as TMS fixed the desync and then gave a gentle nudge by activating the mongol faction again.

work is progressing,
plans are to bring the mongol faction online with standard units ASAP,
then add in extra mongol/chinese units.
then add the monk faction uniques and the additional samurai troops,
along the way there will be some graphical tweaks and bits and bobs.

at the moment we have simply tested that CTD's and Desyncs have both been solved,
the only crashes we see now are beyond our control (in built game problems)


advice on re-building the community will be graciously received and is welcome.

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Re: Community Building

Post by ^Glyndwr^ on Sat 02 Aug 2008, 22:47

An excellent idea ^Kazemoto^ it has my full support.

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Re: Community Building

Post by ^Tomisama^ on Sun 03 Aug 2008, 18:41

Ok, changed my picture, it was scaring me too…lol

Good! I will try laying out some basic ideas, and a little history of what I have witnessed. I will try to explain what I believe happened with this mod to date, and what possibilities I think there might be.

First, we must be real about the condition of the Total War community at this particular time. Frankly, compared to almost any other time in the last eight years it is almost, but not completely dead. Is there hope? In the general sense yes, absolutely! In the specific sense (having to do with VI and VI mods), this will depend in the large part on us, and what we do here. In my opinion, this mod has the opportunity to revitalize the remnant community. But as far as I know, unfortunately it is the only thing that can.

A recent last gasp attempt to create a Clan Wars VI contest that many had requested, failed miserably. Two Clans signed, and one of those did not show up to begin the competition. Compared to the history of VI contests, this tells us a lot about where we are at right now.

I need to finish this opening commentary soon, so will just jump to the two very most important concepts that I think we should be focusing on right now. I don’t know if I will be able to elaborate on the whys and wherefores right now, I will just do it and see.

There are two very basic foundational components to consider, simplicity and timing. The two greatest errors made with introducing a new game or mod are, over complexity, and incomplete release. These are death knells, almost certainly tolling an early demise.

Over Complexity:
There is an old saying about dazzling with brilliance, or baffling with bull (renderings). And there is misguided concept that “more is better”. These together would allow you to think that if you don’t have (or consider that you don’t) a good enough product, that you can just add more of the same to it, to make it better. The TW series overall is guilty of this. More is not better, it is just more. Better is better, and true brilliance will shine through.

Opposing Over Complexity is Simplicity. “Keep it simple stupid” (or KISS), is an old adage to combat the above. The Simplicity concept applied to mods applies to all aspects, from your announcing presentation, ease of download and installation, the ease that the characters (units) can be intuitively learned, ease of map identification, so that everyone is ushered in to the fun as soon as possible. There is more, which I may connect to later.

Incomplete Release:
The completeness of the project is tantamount to it’s success. The idea that you will fix it later, comes with a heavy price tag. If you want a mod to fail, introduce it to the community to early, without enough testing. The temptation to do this is very strong, but you must stand up to it with a plan of action. Make a list of all that needs to be tested, and all the ways that this need to be done, and follow it to the letter.

Opposing Incomplete Release is Timing. As stated above, take the time to get it right and also, study the correct time to release the project. Not paying attention to what else is going on in the community at the time you are intending to present your mod can also doom the whole thing. For an excellent example of this, there was the first and only CWC Samurai competition to date. The contest was started (under duress) very near to release of RTW, and although some were not completely pleased with some of the rules, I sincerely believe that the new game sunk all hope of the competitions survival.

Here are some of the results of our first and only map driven competition to date.



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Re: Community Building

Post by barocca on Sun 03 Aug 2008, 19:29

i know you are not having a go at me, but think i need to explain where Samurai began and why.

the very first release of samurai was a proof of concept release,
every file was created by hand with no LLM, GNOME or MITHEL assistance,
(not being arrogant, the simple truth is they all were made after i proved the concept)
prior to that "mod" (which was only the southern island of japan and crashed before turn 10) people flatly refused to believe any new campaign maps could bee created.

"Samurai the concept" came first, ALL other campaign mods followed.
The reasoning behind continuing releases was quite simple, DEMAND and i was poor (still am) and did not have the hardware to test the mod at home - i needed people to test the mod, people i sent the beta's to were very unreliable showing up online.

also, as the guys here can tell you, modifications we make that are stable in a 1v1 may well desync when you get to 1v2 and above.

Samurai was not initially "released" as such, but has grown from a proof of concept.
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Re: Community Building

Post by ^HUN^ on Sun 03 Aug 2008, 23:56

OK, we are at the stage where we have tested a bug that was present in Beta 8. I never encountered a desync in any of the early online testing or battles. I left (for other reasons) when RTW was released but we had a fair few battles and had regular 4v4, with no desync. Now somewhere along the line the desync appeared and as I understand it, there was a drop off in those who reverted to Beta 5?
It may be that we won't see those players again, but we have been struggling to test this desync thanks mainly to lack of players, as you say. Why? Isn't a working Beta 8 what they wanted?
Let's not forget that introducing Mongols does not mean that a normal Sengoku Jidai game cannot be hosted, it's another option.
To this point, we have been trying to test but players have been reluctant to help and of course, there are the others who played Beta5 who seem to have left as well.
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Re: Community Building

Post by ^Tomisama^ on Mon 04 Aug 2008, 00:28

No B, not having a "go at you" at all, my comments are on mods in general for the most part.

I understand some of what you went through (and am grateful) in growing this thing. And at that time, that is what was necessary, and doable.

What I meant to convey was that the community at “this particular time” is too fragile to have a miss. One troublesome version, and even the stout hearted may not come back to try it again, and we can not afford to let that happen. If I have my memory on straight, the attempted transition from version 5 to 7 was the nightmare that destroyed the last build up that we enjoyed. That just can’t happen again, so we must be very careful, that’s all.

And with the release of the ETW in the fall (if that is still correct?), there is another conflict of attention to over come somehow. Either a month before or after (the real date), would be good. Either way the release makes things more difficult.

Using ETW to best advantage, we could recruit certain players beforehand to help test (gets the ball rolling), but do not announce the full release even if it is ready (with some kind of a contest and/or ranking system), until a month after.

Going head to head (I believe) would be a waste of energy.

*****

While I was writing, Hun posted:

I too believe that we quite possibly won’t get those guys back that left after the desync problem. And I think that Mizu in general has a freeze on this Mongol thing. But once it can be proven that this is truly a playable mod, and that it is better than it was before for both Samurai Warlords (very good point) and Mongol Warlords, we might get a break from them.

I think that some new blood is probably what is needed. As soon as everything is in place, we can add an Org thread specifically aimed to attract and encourage (with simple explanations) some folks who haven’t tried any VI mods (and we could try to attract some who are still in STW also). All we need is four more to complete the final testing mode. Then look for a full release date announcement (Org front page with links to startup info and times to play).
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Re: Community Building

Post by ^Tomisama^ on Mon 04 Aug 2008, 13:06

The obvious question emerges, why do we need to have all of these people? We enjoy playing together, and may get a few more along the way, why the extra effort?

The answer is “stagnation”. What does not grow dies! It may be a prolonged death, with a handful of players sustaining (not maintaining) a presence, but it is certain death over time all the same.

Too small of a community develops an elite core group of players that are almost unbeatable. All comers then are subject to a run of defeats, until they give up (as no one likes to loose all the time). There is no middle class to offer both meaningful competition to the advanced, and an opportunity for newer players to develop their skills with some encouraging successes along the way. There simply are not enough people to provide the multi class society necessary for long term community survival.
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Re: Community Building

Post by ^Glyndwr^ on Mon 04 Aug 2008, 13:52

Some very valid points ^Kazemoto^ and I agree with both above posts.
The only thing I will quote is
Too small of a community develops an elite core group of players that are almost unbeatable. All comers then are subject to a run of defeats, until they give up (as no one likes to loose all the time).

With our early visits to RTW and RTW/BI we overcame the 'skilled player' verses 'newcomers' (not all were skilled or newcomers) by hosting and playing games where we 'mixed' teams. That is we didn't always play as team mates, we played by mixing the players that joined the game.
Others can vouch for the 'fun' games we had and the appreciated comments from other players we had never met before for our help and sportsmanship.

Unforunately the MP community is shrinking fast. It is unfortunate that some, who have enjoyed playing Samurai Warlords, are now taking this attitude towards the game. Some have drifted or been driven away for various reasons.
There were lots of things we didn't like about the patches and/or addons from CA/Sega with each Total War game that has been released but at least we did play them and tried to make the games enjoyable.

I'm not saying we cannot get people to play this mod but am prepared to spread the word to see if we can get more, or new, players to take an interest in it.

ht_bow ht_bow

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Re: Community Building

Post by ^HUN^ on Mon 04 Aug 2008, 21:42

^Kazemoto^ wrote: I think that Mizu in general has a freeze on this Mongol thing. But once it can be proven that this is truly a playable mod, and that it is better than it was before for both Samurai Warlords (very good point) and Mongol Warlords, we might get a break from them.
I think we have proven precisely that. Until now, we have been running test battles to make sure the bug has been cured and it certainly seems to be the case. TMS looked into the Beta8 desync and added a selection of units to create a core Mongol army similar to the MI Mongol army, an add-on. These units are not balanced in cost or stats and again, it is in a testing state, we need players to help.
A certain group of players are reluctant to help. Why? Beta8 is fixed and they leave en masse. Anyone who has read the MP sections at .org will recall countless promotion, discussion, whatever, listing the merits of Beta8. Nothing about SamWars Beta8 has changed, other than it is now playable. I'm disappointed.
Obviously they object to Mongols but I fail to understand their objection. Some years ago, when this subject was first discussed, I submitted a unit roster. Barocca posted that he had many vacant hero slots, for both Japanese and Mongols, asking people interested to submit their name and vices/virtues etc. One of the above group submitted his details as a Mongol general, so I can't see a reason for the boycott. Mongols were on the cards years ago.
Playtesting Mods is difficult enough and I honestly expected a better response. We had the ability to create 8 player games, easily. Anyway, it's their decision.
I must apologise if this post sounds blunt, it was not my intention. I've had to rewrite it after a power cut erased my first one, mid flow and the other one was much better worded.
I'm sure the add-on will require further testing once unit stats and costs are applied but I see it as beneficial to have vigourous testing carried out by a large group of players. It's with a dedicated group effort that Mods achieve a releaseable state and this means the multiple installs, adding this, deleting that. When testers agree that everything seems OK, the final thing is made user friendly. Even then, after some time playing, you notice a few things, there is nothing like playing, to help the Modder see what is happening and to identify possible flaws. We could do with a few more bodies to help us with this part.
Essentially, we need to encourage players to try Samurai Warlords Beta8, nothing has changed. If they are prepared to help balance the add-on it's a community building exercise in itself, especially for new players.
I don't think it will be easy and as you pointed out, ETW will soon be around (I have my doubts about the MP side) and a lot has happened since VI. Even players who appeared with RTW have drifted away. Realistically, I think the most we can hope for is a nucleus of players, figures like 36 would be an amazing achievement but I doubt we will see it. I hope I'm wrong.
I know what you are saying when you mention a small core of players crushing opponents, it can definitely drive players away. Glyndwr has mentioned our games in RTW, we often split sides, it was generally appreciated and the battle was better because of it. I would like to think that (in fact I know) we are all of the same opinion and would look to balance teams. Of course, your stagnation point is very important and all too familiar, it will be an uphill struggle to attract enough players to avoid that.
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Re: Community Building

Post by barocca on Mon 04 Aug 2008, 23:22

the mongols should have come as no surprise,
the reason TMS was able to"ADD" the mongols with a simple set of text files (look at his patch)
AND the reason I was able to add them (0715) using even LESS text files was The Mongols Were Already There.
They have been there since the beginning. They were just an inactive faction.

I dont want to go far down THIS path, but the reason some have turned their back is they dont like it to change. They are "shootout" players, and the mongols will mean they have to manouver - but the samurai no longer have the stats for that, flatly, and i have said this since the day puzz released the current stats, guns are too powerful.
Guns already have the shock and awe factor, a volley of a few hits will rout "0" valour YS,
Guns dont need to be able to annihilate. (and NI are too weak).

SO, i'll build the mongols in, using the mongol stats we have here, and we will test them.
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Re: Community Building

Post by ^HUN^ on Tue 05 Aug 2008, 16:52

barocca wrote:Guns already have the shock and awe factor, a volley of a few hits will rout "0" valour YS,
Guns dont need to be able to annihilate.
Totally agree. One browse at battle logfiles will show they are, consistently the units with highest kills.

barocca wrote:(and NI are too weak).
I didn't mention Naginata but in an earlier version of the stats, either 9b or 10b, they were rarely fielded. I told them that a unit that costs 800 koku that is so quick to turn tail and run is simply not worth the money. They did adjust the stats, I believe morale was improved, but it is still not the unit it should be. Likewise, it should not be purely defensive either, it was as much an offensive weapon as defensive. They should definitely not be looking for the quickest escape route before battle begins.
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Re: Community Building

Post by ^Tomisama^ on Wed 06 Aug 2008, 03:10

The naginata was a very popular weapon for a very long time. The game had delegated it to heavily armored (read slow moving) gate guards. I almost never use them, they are just not practical on the battlefield.

To my mind this was a weapon that could be used by almost anyone. It’s kind of “sword on a stick”, and probably most commonly given to light troops. I think it was a more likely choice for the ashigaru, rather than the yari. After the guns came in, the naginata fell to use by women, and still is to this day rendeer
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Re: Community Building

Post by barocca on Wed 06 Aug 2008, 07:11

so the suggestion is / are :-

we limit who gets the update patches,
test them as i build them,
concentrate on MP,

build an archive of screenshots (those of you who have good hardware / screens),

WHAT about someone researching historical battles / making some "what if" ones?
so that people have something they can get their teeth into if no-one is online?

might need to make some new large maps for those too.

you can pre-set reinforcements and all sorts of things


check out the models in the map maker too - i have only seen a few of the dozens i created in use...
(i tried to make entire "villages" so you could theme a map for a province/economy type)


What else do we need to be doing / planning now??

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Re: Community Building

Post by ^HUN^ on Wed 06 Aug 2008, 17:13

barocca wrote:so the suggestion is / are :-

we limit who gets the update patches,
test them as i build them,
concentrate on MP,
Limit updates to those who would like to help in creating and expanding this Mod. As I said already, this can be a good community building exercise, the player feels included and part of the team.

build an archive of screenshots

No problem there, a few replays will soon provide some wonderful battle scenes.

WHAT about someone researching historical battles / making some "what if" ones?
so that people have something they can get their teeth into if no-one is online?
A great idea, something new and different even for when people are online. There are so many ways to enjoy this game.

might need to make some new large maps for those too.
you can pre-set reinforcements and all sorts of things
After the first week in September, my schedule will be less hectic. I plan on making new maps and these can be added. Pre-setting reinforcements is something I've not done so far.

check out the models in the map maker too - i have only seen a few of the dozens i created in use...
(i tried to make entire "villages" so you could theme a map for a province/economy type)
Models are problematic, especially in MP. I've added models to maps but I tend to arrange them so they are out of the battlefield zone....BUT...
I recently made a third new map. It was a coastal map featuring the shoreline and had five Mongol ships anchored in a bay. I was really looking forward to trying this map (it was a beautiful map) but it would not load and caused CTD, many hours of hard work down the pan!!! I will be trying to recreate it again but next time I will place only three ships (I know this works as I've done it before...but on STW/MI where there were no tides)...so that is WIP.
What else do we need to be doing / planning now??
I'd say play testing with the new stats and units to make sure all is well and trying to attract new players. The idea of each faction being stand-alone some time in the future will make for a game that a lot of players wanted to see. Until then, we have plenty to offer with both Sengoku Jidai and Mongol options.
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Re: Community Building

Post by ^Tomisama^ on Thu 07 Aug 2008, 01:15

Ah, back on topic...yes tongue

The following is a perposed Org post that would need to be followed up with a single pm to those requesting information. That document would have all of the how-to and links-to to get someone started from the ground up. I will be working that up shortly. What I wanted to show you here is this different approch, very direct, very personal, and very private. All of which I believe are needed in the current community climate.

Mod Testers Wanted

If you’re an old hand at playing MTW/VI mods, or have never even attempted to install one before. Regardless of your experience with game modification or playing, if you are willing to try, we need your help.

The next generation of the Samurai Warlords mod has proven to be very stable, and now we need to polish the new Mongol factions, and bring them into tune with the already finely balanced Samurai ones. What is involved is getting together and playing some games on the weekend, and having some fun with this brand new mod expansion.

If you are interested in contributing a few hours on a few weekends to help us with this project, please send me a private message, and I will get back to you right away with everything you need to know.

Thanks in advance!

Thoughts on this approch?
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Re: Community Building

Post by ^Glyndwr^ on Thu 07 Aug 2008, 11:38

I think it is a great idea that should be taken on board.
Let the community see that something is being done that they can be involved in.
The PM idea is the best way to go about it. That way we can see who is really interested and genuine.
Perhaps even a link to Samurai Warlords forum for prospective 'testers' to get aquainted with the discussions that we have posted??


Last edited by ^Glyndwr^ on Thu 07 Aug 2008, 14:57; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo error)

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Re: Community Building

Post by ^Tomisama^ on Thu 07 Aug 2008, 12:25

^Glyndwr^ wrote:Perhaps even a link to Samurai Warlords forum for prospective 'testers' to get aquainted with the discussions that we have posted??

Certainly the link will be included, but at the bottom of the instruction sheet. But getting people to the forum won’t be the focus of this "initial" encounter. The reason being that folks new to mod installation (and maybe even new multiplayer), can be easily overwhelmed, give up and go back to vanilla or single player. The old hands already can already glean the information and the link from the Org threads. I am looking to make connection with some "new blood", the old guys already know what we are doing, and are sitting on their hands.

This is intended to bring in only a hand full of people to help us complete testing. Other outreaches will include a broader appeal “join the fun” thread, and a final "release announcement". Each targeted to gain the attention of a specific group of people, and timed to work around the new game release to the best advantage possible.

I will put together the information letter this weekend, and post it here for comments. It would be handy to have all of the files needed downloadable. Do you have any plans for this? I no longer keep a web site, so can’t help with this. I’m sure we will work something out in any case.
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