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Teth Monastary, here or there?
Yes, keep it Sanctioned! 42%  42%  [ 16 ]
No, Begone evil Map! 58%  58%  [ 22 ]
Total votes : 38

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 Post subject: Re: Teth Monastery, stay or go
PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 10:25 pm 
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Grand Moff Boris wrote:
Quite frankly, after seeing West's new map he is going to sell at GenCon, I am very alarmed about the map design process at WotC. Clearly he CAN design a map that is balanced for skirmish play, and the only reason that I can see that he hasn't done so in the last few attempts is because they are not "pretty" or "aesthetically pleasing" or some other line of bullshit. That is not his fault, I blame WotC and specifically the art director for that - though I have no idea who that person actually is. The person who approves or disproves decisions about the map needs a course in game design 101, right after being told these maps are being made for a GAME.


I hope I'm not butting in; I just wanted to chime in here about the map design process and clear up some misconceptions:

Much of the stuff you're seeing in the maps packs was conceptualized about two years ago. Like, October of 2007. Some of it is playable, IMO, but at the time I still didn't quite grok just how important it is to competitive play to tighten up around gambit. For perspective: Ossus wasn't started until *after* some of the map pack maps you're seeing now. I made Ossus in December 07, I think. It didn't come out until early '08, so a lot of these maps were done before I absorbed the feedback on the Ossus map. (The map pack project was paused during this time in order to prioritize other work that needed to be done sooner; the arrival of the Clone Wars movie required some changes to the production, like the coverage of Teth in the map packs, etc.)

[Side note: even when doing Ossus and these other maps, I understood that gambit needed protection; I just underestimated how much was necessary, or how important it was to the playability of a map. Like WotC, I still put a lot of stock in the process of choosing map sides as a balancing factor for issues of map choice.]

I've picked up a lot of appreciation for the nuances of the game since then, as I think you'll see if you follow the evolution from Ossus to Taris, Christophsis, and the Freight Transit Station. My new starship map existed as a sketch at that time, but was a bit different. I made a number of changes based on the feedback from the above-mentioned maps. For a look at the continuing evolution: The Offworld Shipping Center was created from start to finish in June of this year. Since then I've finished Dagobah, which you folks can check out at my table in the art show at Gen Con.

Anyway, my art director never handicapped the mapmaking process to focus on aesthetics. As far as I can remember, none of my art directors has ever had any issues with the style of the maps. They've also always been very conscientious about delivering my concerns about gameplay issues to R&D, so I don't fault them in that regard either. There are two things about the map packs that basically got overruled against my advice: the placement and treatment of the AT-TE on the Teth courtyard, and the placement of boulders on Rattatak Arena. (I had them clustered tighter around gambit; they wanted them spread out.) I persisted in questioning the decision about Teth so much that for a long time I wondered if i had damaged my relationship with WotC, though I've been assured that all is well. For the record: I didn't expect that the courtyard would make a DCI list, but I tried to do what I could to at least make it approachable for informal games. (I've since picked up a lot more ideas on how to improve it; enough to recognize that even my original intent wouldn't have won over any of you folks represented here.) ;-)

If my art director has a fault in the issues we're discussing here, it's that he may have sheltered me too much from any criticism R&D might have had. I lowered my rates to help make it possible for WotC to bring more maps to market for the players (I doubt the map packs would have happened at all without this), and I offered to develop maps of my own for their consideration. There's a chance that my art director didn't want to risk offending me with a lot of nitpicking from R&D for fear of losing a good deal. Looking at it another way, he might have been protecting my creative freedom and thus argued against making me revise certain things about the maps. I don't have any evidence of this, but it has crossed my mind.

One thing's for sure: if WotC hires me to make more SWM poster maps (and I have no reason to think they won't, when they're ready), I'm going to arrange a direct line, so to speak, with R&D and make sure that whatever we produce will serve the competitive game whenever humanly possible. You folks who organize and routinely play in competitive skirmish events are the beating heart of SWM, and the products have to take your needs into account.

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 Post subject: Re: Teth Monastery, stay or go
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 8:10 am 
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Chris, thanks for that awesome insight into the process!! I have to say, the way you have interacted with the community on these issues has been outstanding, and I really appreciate your approach to all of this, even when sometimes I'm sure it feels like the community is shredding your handiwork. I think it's great that even if we criticize the final product, or don't feel it is up to certain standards, that you realize we don't mean it as a personal slight against you, and you seem to be taking it as a challenge to improve future products. And based on the timeline you gave above, I think it's obvious that you have been making those improvements over time. So, I think it goes without saying, that we all look forward to the next products that WOTC decides to pick up from you. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Teth Monastery, stay or go
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 8:15 am 
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Uh, yeah that was AWESOME! Feel free to "butt in" anytime Mr. West! :D

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 Post subject: Re: Teth Monastery, stay or go
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 9:20 am 
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Thanks for offering that insight into the process. That provides a clearer view, and I think I understand now where the problem may be occurring. My previous comments were based solely on what information you had stated publicly before, which is this:

Mapmaker wrote:
Anyway, my art director never handicapped the mapmaking process to focus on aesthetics. As far as I can remember, none of my art directors has ever had any issues with the style of the maps. They've also always been very conscientious about delivering my concerns about gameplay issues to R&D, so I don't fault them in that regard either. There are two things about the map packs that basically got overruled against my advice: the placement and treatment of the AT-TE on the Teth courtyard, and the placement of boulders on Rattatak Arena. (I had them clustered tighter around gambit; they wanted them spread out.) I persisted in questioning the decision about Teth so much that for a long time I wondered if i had damaged my relationship with WotC, though I've been assured that all is well. For the record: I didn't expect that the courtyard would make a DCI list, but I tried to do what I could to at least make it approachable for informal games. (I've since picked up a lot more ideas on how to improve it; enough to recognize that even my original intent wouldn't have won over any of you folks represented here.) ;-)


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If my art director has a fault in the issues we're discussing here, it's that he may have sheltered me too much from any criticism R&D might have had. I lowered my rates to help make it possible for WotC to bring more maps to market for the players (I doubt the map packs would have happened at all without this), and I offered to develop maps of my own for their consideration. There's a chance that my art director didn't want to risk offending me with a lot of nitpicking from R&D for fear of losing a good deal. Looking at it another way, he might have been protecting my creative freedom and thus argued against making me revise certain things about the maps. I don't have any evidence of this, but it has crossed my mind.


Well you just need a thicker skin. Criticism in this instance is meant to be constructive. No one wants to see you fail at making good maps for the game (and I'm not just talking about sanctioned play). If there is criticism, it's because the R&D people probably knew something you didn't, and something the art director should not have "sheltered" you from. While I'm sure the intent was noble, you have to admit that it didn't prevent criticism, it just ended up coming from a larger source.

Personally, I would rather my co-worker or boss be critical of me and my work at my job if it is meant to make it better than for them to say nothing and our customers to be the ones who offer the criticism instead. I promise you they aren't trying to help me improve, it's too late to do so once the product is out there.

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One thing's for sure: if WotC hires me to make more SWM poster maps (and I have no reason to think they won't, when they're ready), I'm going to arrange a direct line, so to speak, with R&D and make sure that whatever we produce will serve the competitive game whenever humanly possible. You folks who organize and routinely play in competitive skirmish events are the beating heart of SWM, and the products have to take your needs into account.


I think that is an excellent idea, and I would urge you to be sure that this "direct line" takes into account not just what the game looks like to the public today, but what it's going to look like a year to two years from now, because that is the stage that R&D is working on.

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 Post subject: Re: Teth Monastery, stay or go
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 11:02 am 
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Grand Moff Boris wrote:
Well you just need a thicker skin.

Oh, my skin is plenty thick. I've been trying to make it thinner for some time now. :)

Grand Moff Boris wrote:
If there is criticism, it's because the R&D people probably knew something you didn't, and something the art director should not have "sheltered" you from. While I'm sure the intent was noble, you have to admit that it didn't prevent criticism, it just ended up coming from a larger source.

I don't desire any sheltering from criticism, nor have I ever expressed a desire for such. (I wandered into this discussion, after all...) :) My AD knows that I'm willing to make any changes they need (heck, I end just about every call or e-mail to him with "Let me know if you need any changes!"), so if he was insulating me against criticism or a desire for revisions (and I truly don't know that he was), then he probably had other reasons.

To be clear: I don't know if my art director did try to prevent criticism from R&D from getting through to me. That possibility never even occurred to me until recently. It could explain why R&D didn't ask me to revise some of the more open-gambit maps, but there could be any number of reasons for it. These range from them not seeing it as a problem to them not feeling there was sufficient time to make changes. (For a couple of years there, I frankly had some trouble meeting deadlines. I'm not proud of it, but it's true.)

Grand Moff Boris wrote:
Personally, I would rather my co-worker or boss be critical of me and my work at my job if it is meant to make it better than for them to say nothing and our customers to be the ones who offer the criticism instead.

I feel the same, but I'll take constructive criticism wherever I can get it.

Grand Moff Boris wrote:
I think that is an excellent idea, and I would urge you to be sure that this "direct line" takes into account not just what the game looks like to the public today, but what it's going to look like a year to two years from now, because that is the stage that R&D is working on.

Count on it.

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 Post subject: Re: Teth Monastery, stay or go
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 11:12 am 
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To be clear: I don't know if my art director did try to prevent criticism from R&D from getting through to me. That possibility never even occurred to me until recently. It could explain why R&D didn't ask me to revise some of the more open-gambit maps, but there could be any number of reasons for it. These range from them not seeing it as a problem to them not feeling there was sufficient time to make changes. (For a couple of years there, I frankly had some trouble meeting deadlines. I'm not proud of it, but it's true.)


From your position, I can see the logic in considering it a possibility. After working with R&D for as long as I have, I think the odds are rediculously long that it occurred. I'd guess any concerns were more like "make it huge friendly" up front and "seems fine" at the end. And I'm sure some will be upset that my impression is that each map likely didn't go through some high-level metagame analysis playtesting with pieces slated for the coming year to weed out any trouble spots but thereyago!

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 Post subject: Re: Teth Monastery, stay or go
PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:09 am 
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Mapmaker wrote:
I feel the same, but I'll take constructive criticism wherever I can get it.


I typed a whole long response but then deleted it. I think you read some stuff into my post that was neither said nor intended, and the intent of the tone is lost. Maybe we will have a chance to have a better discussion about this at GenCon.

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 Post subject: Re: Teth Monastery, stay or go
PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:10 am 
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NickName wrote:
Quote:
To be clear: I don't know if my art director did try to prevent criticism from R&D from getting through to me. That possibility never even occurred to me until recently. It could explain why R&D didn't ask me to revise some of the more open-gambit maps, but there could be any number of reasons for it. These range from them not seeing it as a problem to them not feeling there was sufficient time to make changes. (For a couple of years there, I frankly had some trouble meeting deadlines. I'm not proud of it, but it's true.)


From your position, I can see the logic in considering it a possibility. After working with R&D for as long as I have, I think the odds are rediculously long that it occurred. I'd guess any concerns were more like "make it huge friendly" up front and "seems fine" at the end. And I'm sure some will be upset that my impression is that each map likely didn't go through some high-level metagame analysis playtesting with pieces slated for the coming year to weed out any trouble spots but thereyago!


Anyone who thinks it realistic that the maps did go through that simply aren't paying attention. :P

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 Post subject: Re: Teth Monastery, stay or go
PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:29 am 
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And anyone who thinks they ever will is dreaming. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Teth Monastery, stay or go
PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:50 am 
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NickName wrote:
And anyone who thinks they ever will is dreaming. :lol:


Wow never been accused of that before. Usually I'm the one being called the "pessimist." :P

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 Post subject: Re: Teth Monastery, stay or go
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 1:08 am 
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dnemiller wrote:
I realize this map is horrid and please know that you really dont have to persuade me to get rid of it.


This is a relief! From the start I had some grave concerns about the power of door control on Teth Monastery. It's not an issue for regional or national level play, but at local levels you're more likely to see minimal to no door control, which allows a force with strong door control to completely dominate on Teth Monastery.

Obviously, the map has different issues at retional/national levels.

On top of this, the new FAQ creates safe zones on the right side of the map, where figures can be hidden and immune from any normal attacks.

I will point out that I spoke positively about Teth Courtyard, but not as a DCI map. I like Teth Courtyard and Monastery as scenario maps, separate or combined, but I don't think either belongs as part of DCI play.


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 Post subject: Re: Teth Monastery, stay or go
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 6:16 am 
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Dean, before we start chucking maps, could we look at the possibility of Lobo's championship only map set up? I am not saying this map should stay or go as i really havent played it yet, but some maps could stay legal locally, but just not for regionals/Gencon. If this needs to go then so be it, but keep his idea in mind.

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 Post subject: Re: Teth Monastery, stay or go
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:54 am 
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Sithdragon13 wrote:
Dean, before we start chucking maps, could we look at the possibility of Lobo's championship only map set up? I am not saying this map should stay or go as i really havent played it yet, but some maps could stay legal locally, but just not for regionals/Gencon. If this needs to go then so be it, but keep his idea in mind.


LOL, Scott, I think Dean was actually the one who mentioned it to me at Gencon this weekend. ;) If it wasn't his idea, I know he was standing around when it was discussed.

Yeah, I personally feel like the best idea overall is the "championship" and "open" format ideas, so that each LGS would have a little more lee-way in how they run things. I know the young kids at my home store would really appreciate being able to use maps like Cristophsis and Teth, since they usually don't have the money to pick up every single map that comes out.

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 Post subject: Re: Teth Monastery, stay or go
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 8:19 am 
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Now that the FAQ is up, this is no longer a research project. Teth Monastery MUST go.

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 Post subject: Re: Teth Monastery, stay or go
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 3:48 pm 
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LOL, okay, Dean can you make sure you keep your own idea in mind? ;)
LoboStele wrote:
Sithdragon13 wrote:
Dean, before we start chucking maps, could we look at the possibility of Lobo's championship only map set up? I am not saying this map should stay or go as i really havent played it yet, but some maps could stay legal locally, but just not for regionals/Gencon. If this needs to go then so be it, but keep his idea in mind.


LOL, Scott, I think Dean was actually the one who mentioned it to me at Gencon this weekend. ;) If it wasn't his idea, I know he was standing around when it was discussed.

Yeah, I personally feel like the best idea overall is the "championship" and "open" format ideas, so that each LGS would have a little more lee-way in how they run things. I know the young kids at my home store would really appreciate being able to use maps like Cristophsis and Teth, since they usually don't have the money to pick up every single map that comes out.

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 Post subject: Re: Teth Monastery, stay or go
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 8:44 pm 
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Except the only way you get to abuse the hidey spots is if your opp either picks the other side or defers. How often will this happen on Teth?

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