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Route 29: mods ([personal profile] these_balls) wrote in [community profile] route_292013-09-07 09:18 pm
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Feedback Post: The Return

Evening, Routians! We're well overdue on getting this out to you (and we have a lot of apologies to make for it, too), but in this post you'll find our thoughts and commentary on the Big Mod Feedback Post we did back in June. We know we should've gotten this out sooner, and for that you have our sincerest apologies, but we hope this explains some of where we're coming from on a lot of the feedback we received.

Under the cut, you'll find some of the things we've isolated as major points from the feedback post — that is, themes and questions that large numbers of people tended to be concerned about. If your specific question did not make it onto this list, that doesn't mean we didn't talk about it! We promise, we read every comment to the post, and we did discuss all of the points that were brought up. However, in the interest of keeping this from getting too tl;dr, we opted to keep this main post about the questions and concerns that we felt were the biggest issues to address. So if something you were concerned about didn't make this post, and you want an answer to it, we strongly encourage you to contact us privately and ask about it!

We also strongly encourage you to use the comments of this post to respond to us and to what we've said here. This process shouldn't end with your questions and our answers; if you have thoughts on what we've said here, please let us know about them. At the end of the day, it's our role as mods to make the final calls about what we think is best for the game, but this is a community and hearing your input is important to us.

That said, on to the responses!




TOPIC: OPENING UP A NEW REGION

This was a big one, and got a lot of talk on the feedback post about it. Having considered the options and possibilities, we will not be opening up an entirely new region in the game, and here's why: the process of opening up a region is a pretty involved effort. It'd need maps, lists of travel times, Pokemon availability lists, Gym leader teams, stores, landmarks, price lists, you name it! And like with the Elite Four, we'd rather not give our players something slipshod and haphazard because we bit off more than we could chew before we knew we were prepared to handle it.

We also received a fair amount of feedback that the world of Route is, in some ways, too big as it is; people tend to spread out among the cities and keep in contact largely through the network, and there were some requests for more events and means by which to bring people together. Opening up an entirely new region, we feel, would contribute to that "spread out" problem, making it worse rather than helping to solve it.

However! That's not to say that the potential for visiting new regions and other places in the PokeWorld are out of the question, and we've discussed at length the possibility of running more events similar to the way we did prom — allowing players to go to a different area for a set period of time and experience different parts of the world before ultimately returning to Johto/Kanto afterward. We feel this would be a decent balance between the need to shake up the sights and sounds of Pokemon Land, and the work-intensive challenge of making an entirely new region available.


TOPIC: TRAVEL

Likewise on the "PokeWorld is too big" issue, we've discussed ways of making the world a little smaller, in the form of making travel easier for player characters in some respects! Some of the ideas we've discussed involve running small-scale player-influenced mod plots to set up some IC transit lines (skycars over the Ilex Forest to cut down on "lost in the wilderness" travel time, etc) around the world, as well as instituting an NPC-run bussing service so that people who are holding events in a particular town can move people quickly and efficiently to their event without having to worry about how to get their friends there!

As yet, we have not come to a final decision on any of these ideas. We would definitely like to hear your thoughts on the possibilities, and any other suggestions you may have for similar ideas, so that we can make life in Johto a little easier for your characters!


TOPIC: OPENING UP FOREVER-CLOSED REGIONS

We've dropped the ball on this one, and we acknowledge it. Our apologies, guys; we know you've been dying to get into some of the regions in Johto/Kanto that have been closed forever, and it's high on our list of priorities. We're hoping to get together an event of some kind that would make some more of them available for exploration, but as with all our events, there are a few things to take into consideration with that — most prominently being, making sure that all the mods' schedules align for when we pull it off, and making sure that the event or plot doesn't fall at a bad time of the year for everyone concerned (too close in time to another big plot, midterm week, con season, etc). However, please know that we are working on this one and you'll hopefully be seeing the fruits of it soon!


TOPIC: A NEW PLAYER CLASS

This was another popular feedback request! However, at this time we will not be instituting a new trainer class, and here's some of our reasons for it:

As it stands right now, Route allows for three character classes: Trainer, Breeder, and Rocket. The purpose behind these classes is to let applicants choose the class that they feel best fits what they want to do with their character in-game — each class being designed to have a given set of perks to it (for example, Breeders can breed shiny eggs and don't need to win badges to use HM moves; Trainers get extra money for winning gym battles; Rockets get stronger starters and team-based perks). Our main concern with introducing a new character class is finding one that would occupy a similar "niche" of gameplay, so that it's not overlapping what one of the other classes does already, and could provide an equally unique experience without rendering one of the other classes obsolete.

The main contender for a new class was Pokemon Coordinators; our key problems with introducing Coordinators are that as of right now we have no system in place to accommodate tournaments (and furthermore, because those tournaments would likely pit player characters against each other for the same prizes in a way that gym battles inherently don't), and also that we have no standardized means by which to judge the "beauty" of a team the way a Coordinator class would require. This isn't to say that introducing Coordinators is impossible or never going to happen! We just haven't found a system that we'd be comfortable with implementing yet.

The other top contenders for a new class were Pokemon Rangers and Pokemon Medics. Again, our concern lies in finding an appropriate niche for the class to fill. However, we threw around some ideas (for example, allowing Rangers the benefit of lessened travel times while traveling the routes, or permitting Medics to heal Pokemon while not in a city with access to a Pokemon center), and we feel that these have promise — again, if we can find a good way to implement them, and a good package of benefits that will ensure the introduced class can stand on its own two feet alongside the others currently in play.

However, as we said with the requests for a new area above, the lack of a new full-time trainer class doesn't mean we're not open to experimenting with such things in the short-term! We've discussed the possibility of running a Coordinator Tournament (similar to the Kanto Battle Tournament we put on last year) to try out some of the mechanics of how Coordinators would work in Route, and if you have an idea for something similar (and a plan for how to make it happen), please bring it to us for consideration!


TOPIC: FOSSIL POKEMON

Check mark on this one! Thanks to July's fossil plot, the availability of Fossil Pokemon has been much increased, and if you're hankering for one, you should be able to find one from one of the many breeders who picked one up during the event.


TOPIC: ROCKETS!

We've also made some strides as far as the Rockets and general Rocket comm business are concerned. We got a bunch of the pages cleaned out and freshened up, and added in some new informational details on the Rocket bases for our Rockets to enjoy. We test-ran a new system of enacting Rocket missions back during our July fossil plot, and the feedback was generally positive on the part of both players and the modteam, so hopefully we'll be able to continue what worked, tweak and correct what didn't, and use that model for future plots again! We've also started work on a more standardized system for achieving promotions within the ranks, and encourage our Rockets to come to us with player plots and ideas if they're itching to get promoted.

However, we should also use this opportunity to correct a possible misconception about our Plot Suggestions Post; if you have an idea and concept for a player plot that you'd like to run (Rocket or otherwise) and want moderator approval for it, the Plot Suggestions post is not the place to go! We're of the opinion that the Plot Suggestions post is better suited to player requests for events and plots — for example, wanting to see a ghost plot around Halloween, or requesting another Missingno plot at some point, or suggesting a cooking competition, and so on. It's not a reliable way of getting in contact with us for ideas you'd immediately like to implement, or player plots you're seeking approval for; for those matters, you should approach a moderator directly through one of our listed forms of contact so that we can discuss it and get back to you ASAP.


TOPIC: WHAT ABOUT GEN VI?

This is a big one, and also one that we're sure is garnering a lot of speculation with Pokemon XY coming up so soon. The answer is YES, we will be incorporating Gen VI into Route gameplay. However, as we've usually done with new Pokemon releases in the past, we'll be holding off on introducing it until we as moderators can get familiar with the games, figure out how to introduce the new Pokemon, examine what new elements we think will work for the game and what won't, and so on. But yes, we have every intention of bringing Gen VI to you as players; you can expect it roughly a few months to half a year after the release (at an estimate).


TOPIC: WHAT ABOUT ORIGINAL CHARACTERS?

Following some discussion, we've ultimately decided that original characters may become appable in the future; before we can do so, we think we'll need to revamp our application and procedures to accommodate the unique needs of OCs, but we're certainly not against allowing them. We're also considering implementing a smaller window for OC applications than for regular ones — since there's inherently no competition for an OC and no need to reserve to hold a place for one, we're looking at the possibility of opening up applications to OCs at wider intervals throughout the year as opposed to every single app period. This is because we anticipate OC apps will require more attention on average than canon apps do, largely because we're naturally going to be "canonblind" to every OC app, whereas with canon apps there's frequently a chance that one or several of us will already be exposed to the canon and are better prepared to judge the app's merits because of it.

TL;DR, the answer to this one is yes, we're open to OCs! Now we're working on figuring out how to do it.


TOPIC: MODERATORS

This was possibly one of the biggest issues we got on the feedback post, and consequently, we're going to start things off with some much-owed candor and an apology. We know we've dropped the ball on a lot of things: slow response times, pages not getting updated in a timely manner, even getting this response out to you. And the truth is there's no excuse for it — we should've done better, and we didn't. We set ourselves deadlines and missed them, but worse still, we didn't keep our players in the loop about these setbacks and we should've. For that, we're all incredibly sorry, and we can't express enough how much we appreciate you guys for being patient with us all this time despite our issues.

We've been busy; again, that's not an excuse, because it's something we know we should've addressed and we didn't. However, we intend to change that, starting now. We're unanimous in our agreement that we need more help on the team; right now that's our top priority.

Because bringing on new people to the modteam always inherently involves a lot of change-ups and chair-shuffling, we will also be using this opportunity to regroup and resume our efforts at getting some of the long-ignored infopages updated. It's our profound hope that having some new blood on the team will be the kickstart we all need to get motivated and clean those things up, and with a lessened average load on all of us because of it, we believe the task will become more manageable for everyone concerned as a result.

We will also be trying out a new approach for certain types of mod contact. We received many requests for a "designated Rocket mod" in particular; however, as a team we've generally hesitated on the institution of a single specific mod for Rocket business for fear that players would assume they could only go to that mod for Rocket business, or that the mod designated for it would be the only one with control over the Rockets. The same goes for a "designated plot mod"; we don't want to give the impression that only one mod is handling plotting, or that we aren't working as a team to put forth ideas and events for all of you. We encourage all of our moderators to contribute ideas, and there are naturally some events for which one moderator takes on the primary workload of running them (usually because it was their idea or because they came up with the plan for how to orchestrate it), but all mods contribute in some way, shape, or form. That is a system we feel is best, and that is the system we've chosen to keep.

However, we also feel that for purposes of plotting and overall player coordination, things might benefit by having one moderator who specializes in the handling of nefarious player plots, and another who specializes in the handling of heroic player plots. We understand that this is a fine and perhaps hair-splitting distinction from what we described in the preceding paragraph; however, it's a philosophical one that we feel is important. The mods filling these roles will not be solely responsible for "villain plots" and "hero plots", nor will they have sole authority over what happens in those plots. They will, however, give players a specific person to go to with ideas about plots of a villainous or heroic nature, and in larger-scale mod plots, will hopefully be able to use that specialization to coordinate with players and each other in achieving a better gameplay experience.

For example, if a player has approached the Villain Mod with an idea for a nefarious scheme they'd like to run, but have no particular target for it, the Villain Mod could then consult with the Hero Mod to see if any interest had previously been expressed in participating in a plot of that nature, and if so, who had been interested. Those players could then get in touch with each other and hopefully work something out. Similarly, if we were running a large-scale mod plot, Villain Mod and Hero Mod could work together beforehand to ensure that there would be opportunities for both sides to meaningfully affect the plot and help players coordinate with each other once things got underway. As we've conceptualized this idea right now, we are unsure as to whether these roles of "Villain Mod" and "Hero Mod" will be permanent positions filled by only one moderator each, or if we will rotate them at given intervals or for plots (which we would naturally inform the players about beforehand — for example, including in the plot's infopost that for the duration of the plot, Sunny would be Designated Hero Mod and Alex would be Designated Villain Mod, and so on).

We would also like to stress that this is an idea, not a foregone conclusion. If you see glaring problems with this sort of model, or have suggestions for how to tweak it to make it better, please let us know! We understand that our players have every right to be skeptical of us lately when it comes to making promises, and we respect that. However, we all love this game and our playerbase, and we want to do better for both. It is our profound hope that by taking some of these steps, we can improve our own behavior and the experience for our players.


TOPIC: THANK YOU!

From Sunny:
So you guys are cute. It's been a long time, through so many ups and downs that I've lost count. I've modded in numerous states now (quite literally, do you know how many times I've answered questions on my phone these past three years?!) and I've already met so many of you and made so many friends in this game. You're all seriously my darling babies, and it's been an honor and a privilege getting to talk and get to know so many of you. I don't think I've ever been in a game where I've interacted with so many people from all over the world, so to have you all here and to just get to share a collective love of pokémon and just... everything! It's rather overwhelming.

I have to especially thank you all for being so patient with me. I know I'm not always the most attentive, and with my semi-busy real life schedule, I know a lot of you get frustrated with me. But sticking it out, telling me what you're feeling, just beating me back into focusing, I really do appreciate that. As I've been saying, I plan on doing better for you guys, with as little distractions as possible. This is still my home game, my favorite game, my child of a roleplay game, and I don't plan on letting you guys go anytime soon. I've learned so much from modding here, and I want to do my best for you guys so we all can keep having fun.

So thanks, guys. Thank you for everything. Love ya.

From Din:
So I'm just short of three years in this game now, and I've never before this stuck with a game that long at any point, ever. I really think this has to do with all of you, because you're all amazing, friendly, patient and creative people, and I've had some of the most fun I've ever had on the internet with you. Hell, I've wrecked my sleeping schedule SO many times just to keep tagging and chatting and laughing with all of you (and crying whenever that was warranted), and I have zero regrets.

It's ... one and a half years as a mod now, I think, and that too is very special to me. I wanted to help make the game exciting and fun and give something back and I was so very insecure at first, but I've grown a lot through taking on things in this capacity. I've been slow at times and dropped the ball on things and we all know this, but I feel incredibly grateful to have been a part of the Route team and to have such a wonderful playerbase to look out for.

I mean that, too - Route has always been one of the friendliest games around, and that's what I love being part of, both as a player and a mod. Given the penchant for drama in this hobby as a whole, this has always impressed and warmed me, and I hope that Route will continue to be the friendly, exciting and creative place that it is for as long as it sticks around (which better be ages, too). <3

From Alex:
Hey, everybody, Alex here. When I joined up as a mod about seven months ago, it was because I loved Route and its playerbase so much that I wanted to give something back to the game that had made me feel so at home ever since I joined up on a whim years before. It's really been a privilege to play with all of you and to be one of your moderators for as long as I've been on the team. We've had our mishaps along the way, and I've made my share of mistakes (and one of these days I'm going to earn my forgiveness for accidentally leaving comment notifications on for some of our most massive logs SORRY AGAIN ABOUT THE INBOX SUNNY), but it's always been my priority to do what I could to help people have fun in Route and make this an active, engaging place to play.

I think the key foundation of the moderator/player relationship is good communication (and damn if I didn't have to try really hard not to make a Gundam Wing reference there), and that's something that the team admittedly hasn't been the best at lately. We owe it to you guys to be more transparent about what we're doing; that's something I firmly believe in. And I honestly believe that wearing the mod hat doesn't necessarily mean that I always have all the answers; that's why I truly, honestly value all of the feedback that we get from our players, because a lot of times you guys come up with stuff that I'd never even thought of, and in the grand scheme of things, I want what's best for the game, not just the best of whatever I personally was able to come up with. So I hope you'll continue talking to us, and I hope the modteam can come through on our commitment to giving you the best gameplay experience we can.

Each and every one of you means so much to me, and I'm so happy to have had the privilege to be your Abra-mod all this time. Thank you for being my players, and thank you for all the fun we've had so far. I really hope we can make things even better from here on out.

From Muffin:
I am so glad and thankful that each and everyday I am able to contribute to a peaceful game that consist of lovely people and amazing, detailed, varied characters. You guys have put up with me and my occasional sluggishness so much and words can't express how thankful I am that you guys still trust, appreciate and love tolerate me and my eccentricities ICly and OOCly. As I'm taking a step into a college life, a new journey filled with many challenges for myself, I can feel more at ease knowing I have the skills to be presentable, organized, and approachable as a moderator and a mun in this game. I've definitely dropped the ball with some things, and your forgiveness and eagerness for me to get it right next time has filled me with such warmth and confidence I never knew I could have in such a leadership position. I've kinda always been a follower too, so this idea and change has literally changed my life for the better.

I look forward to taking all concerns and ideas and making the most out of them. I look forward to answering your questions in a Hopefully Timely Manner™, or, at the very least, making fun, funny and cute small talk. I really look forward to tagging you all and backtagging to infinity and beyond and developing strong, entertaining and endearing CR. I will give my all to have just one more night with you to enhance and sustain this game, its fun-loving atmosphere, and my shorts which are comfortable and easy to wear. Thank you, Routians for being so kind, friendly and ignoring my constant babbling about Mariah Carey. You guys rock. (P.S. - Also, I'm a guy, btw! Just thought I should clear things up).




Thank you all for your thoughts and feedback, and for your patience with us all this time. We're really looking forward to what lies ahead on this magical Pokemon journey for all of us!

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