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Scenario Depot Blues

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As a recipient of the scenarios produced and presented on the scenario depot, I am against any kind of mandatory review process.

I've downloaded more scenarios than I've reviewed. However, I've posted a review for EVERY scenario I've played (which I remembered was from the Scenario Depot). Perhaps appending a Scenario Depot reminder to the briefing would help?

Making it mandatory (in whatever ratio) will, according to the law of unintended consequences, NOT result in meaningful reviews being posted.

I agree with the poster who asked for a toggle for "best played as PBEM/AI" with the various roles explicitly delineated. Indeed, I would volunteer to help go through the database and find and sort the various scenarios in such a manner.

Simpler ratings? Yeah, that'd be nice. A tighter search function? Toss it in! Ease of use, drop down menus, all those items that make a visit to the site quick, painless, and rewarding are what will keep a lot of reviews coming in.

"Thanks" to all you talented designers (even the ones just learning) and to Keith for the site. This is what keeps the CM series alive for me.



(edited for clarifications.)

[ October 31, 2004, 09:18 AM: Message edited by: c3k ]

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In the proposed scheme, a reviewer would get multiple credits for a review, which he would then spend on multiple scenario downloads.

As a designer, it is quite irritating to have literally thousands of downloads and only 1 or 2 reviews. It helped to hasten my decision to stop designing scenarios for public distribution.

I applaud the fact that you have reviewed every scenario you have played. You are just the kind of player I designed my scenarios for. Unfortunately the large majority simply play and move on. While I did not expect a plethora of reviews for my scenarios that came out on the various CD's, it would have been nice to get more feedback from the extras scenarios I did to help keep the game going.

In any case I think that Admiral Keith's Scenario Depot has proven to be one of the most valuable 3rd party resources ever created for CM. I applaud anyone, whether they be designers or people like Keith that help extend the life of a great series of games.


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Some actors become directors. Probably a control freak thing. I play for something to do. I mod for my enjoyment. I share those mods and feed my ego. I don't care if someone downloads my mod and deletes it. I don't care if 1 or 100 people download a mod, but it is nice to see 100. I may move up to creating scenarios someday. I hope I feel the same about my scenarios as I feel about my mods. Reviews are nice, but not a necessity for my stuff. I share to share.

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I agree with junk2drive above. Although I must admit I do not contribute just download.

If you see your scenarios downloaded a lot of times that should indicate people like them. I do not need a lot of reviews to know that say "Hans Small Battles" are ok as I have followed them for a long time. I never look at reviews as I think I play for other reasons that a lot of other people.

I make it one of my criteria to download a scenario from someone I have not played before each time I drop by as you never know who's work you wil like without trying it.

I also download a few at a time. If I had to write a review all the time I would go to another site.

I will try to wite a few more reviews if it is needed to keep people designing, but to me a poor review is a waste of hard disk space, and I must admit when I have re read the few reviews I have made they are not too good.

But since I am only a downloader I will try to do what the designers want as I really appreciate their efforts. They make the game for me.


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You get further in life with a gun and a smile than you do with just a gun.

It's far better to encourage people to review than it is to force them. If people have to review to download, it will turn nearly all of them away at some stage.

A reward system for reviews might be the best bet. Perhaps a rank and some medals as suggested here earlier, or the chance to vote for best scenarios. Maybe a quick reply form to make it easy.

Reviews for a designer are an essential tool, like a litmus test, or the skewer you stick in a cake to tell you if it's cooked.

In order to know if the scenario has worked it must be played out, with a million variables and a thousand different outcomes.

The more feedback you have the better equiped you'll be at achieving game balance and creating a challenge for the players...

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Originally posted by markl:

If you see your scenarios downloaded a lot of times that should indicate people like them.

If only it were as clear as that... the amount of downloads does not tell why people have downloaded it, nor how they felt after they played the scenario. After all, how are people going to know that the scenario they are downloading is good if there aren't any reviews? Furthermore, if there are no reviews, how does the designer know why people possibly like them?
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I find myself thinking of the old adage "A car given is kept dirty and driven hard, but a car earned is washed and kept in good repair."

It seems to me that a quid pro quo is in order here so that there is value placed on the designers' time and effort. If having to review a scenario every 10 downloads is too onerous a task, then perhaps the player should stick to something really easy, like Quick Battles.

Like some other posters in this thread, I designed my scenarios for enjoyment and as a way of helping out the community and keeping it 'fresh'. Indeed, I only ever released 25% of my scenarios to the public anyway. Players are free to modify my released scenarios, play with the maps, put them in map packs, whatever. The only thing I asked was a review of the original work when you finished, whether or not you liked it.


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Initially I agreed with the proposal to force a review in order to download 'x' scenarios. After some thought, I changed my mind. (As I stated, I do reviews because I appreciate the hard work that goes into scenarios AND because I use the reviews to pick scenarios that I play.)

Now, let's say you need 1 review per 10 additional downloads. The User gets 10 freebies. Great. Now he's hooked. He comes back to the site and gets a message that he needs to post a review for one of the 10 he already downloaded before he can get more. Let's see what happens:

1) He NEVER played any of the 10, they're sitting on his hard-drive. He's come back for 10 more because his pub-mate wants him to play a specific scenario available at the Scenario Depot.

2) He's only interested in downloading every scenario ever created. Some sort of collector/anthology hermit type....

3) He's played each of the first 10 about three times each, but never thought about them from a critical analysis viewpoint...

RESULT: He will post a crap-review just to get more scenarios. The crap-review will help noone. It will fulfill the automated review requirement necessary for him to get more scenarios.

COUNTER-RESULT: In the ever-changing ballet of attack and defense, all reviews are now, themselves, reviewed. This review process requires time. Time=money. The Scenario Depot now becomes a paid subscription site.

COUNTER-COUNTER-RESULT: A gang of Chinese crackers, assisted by out of work former Soviet nuclear weapons engineers, cracks the Scenario Depot encryption and sells the entire collection of scenarios on Ebay.

Or, we just rely on the the community (MOST of whom are kindrid spirits) to post reviews as and how they can.



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I'm an infrequent downloader too.

I never play against the AI unless I've agreed to playtest a scenario.

Whenever possible I try to insist that my pbem opponents pick the scenario. I do this for a couple of reasons that stray from our current topic, but the result is that very often I don't even know what I'm playing. I do, however know that it came from the Depot.

I'll start asking my opponents the names of the scenarios. I'd be happy to post short reviews when we're done.

In fact, I wrote a few quick sentences on jwxspoons Ponyri Express last night only because I found him posting in this thread. In truth, I didnt think he cared either way. He had plenty of opportunity to tell me to go over there and do it every time I came into irc drunk as a monkey.

The depot's greatest tool to get people to post reviews is to make it as easy as possible. I was very pleased last night when I saw that I could rate it with bullets instead of words. It took me 2 seconds and gives both designer and downloader a quick visual of strengths and weaknesses of the scenario.

I would say, start simple.

Advertise how easy it is with a plea to "please review". Make it full screen before or after the download. Make it upon entering the Depot. Plea often and effectively. Stress how simple it is to just check a few boxes.

I have one other point to stress.

Ya know what scenarios I remember?

I remember the ones that I complained bitterly to myself while I was playing them. I remember the ones that made me fight hard and smart.

These are the ones that stick with me. I hated them while I was playing them.

I like the evil ones, I guess. (A Cold Winter's Morning played as German and rune's Hedgehog Hell come immediately to mind)

I love them all now. Can't you see I even remember the names? I can't remember my own name half the time.

Do you guys want me to review these gems directly after I play them? ... or do you want me to wait, cool down and get back my objectivity?

Anyhow, thats my perspective for what its worth.

Maybe it's unique, but probably not.

I also try to get suggestions as to what scenarios to play. This sort of behavior, if exhibited by a number of players will lead to lopsided download numbers for certain scenarios and maybe even designers.

I guess that's the way of the world. Theres no sense in complaining about it. It's probably more effective to do something about it by promoting one's battles by word of mouth at every opportunity.

If somebody like me posts begging for a 2 player scenario suggestion, you should be "Johnny-on-the-spot", elbow your way into the thread and say, "Hey try this! I made it! Playtesting went well and I think you'll enjoy it! Please post a review at the Depot when your finished. Reviewing is easy. It takes 2 seconds. All ya have to do is check a few boxes. Of course, I would like to know your thoughts also so don't be shy about using the comments section."

I bet they play it. I bet they review it. I bet if they like it they play your other stuff too ... sooner or later depending on how evil it is.

I've seen Battle suggestion threads scroll off this page without a single reply.

My suggestion is to start there and raise awareness about the importance of reviews.


Perhaps after the first 10 downloads and every 5 after that that weren't reviewed could result in an automated email back to the downloader.

This is just a suggestion if anyone is worried about losing people from banning them from more downloads.

The email might be something in the line of, "It's come to our attention that you have downloaded 10 scenarios ... blah blah blah ... importance of feedback to designers ... blah blah blah."

Be a pain in the arse ... often and effectively.

Guilt is your friend!

[ November 03, 2004, 06:31 AM: Message edited by: Akula2 ]

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  • 2 weeks later...

I also think that not reviews will be useful. What if say I download a historical scenario but find it unbalanced, and the map too flat for my likings. I could post a review stating as much. But that would be unfair as the scenario may have been very accurate in its portrayal of the troops involved and the terrain.

In some circumstances I think the person needs to be qualified to do the review. After all you would not ask just anyone to do a book review if you were going to publish it.

I am not offering this as an excuse for not posting reviews, but as another view.

Cheers MarkL

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I have been following this thread and would like to say a few things:

- first, thanks to the admiral for all of the hard work he put into the site! We all appreciate it a lot

- second, thanks to all the designers that spend their time creating scenarios just for others to have fun with. That is a good thing too

with the above said, I think that reviews are nice but they won't always occur. When I first started I was kind of intimidated by the community - obviously you have people jumping in threads like Jason or Michael that seem to know everything - so people don't want to stick their toe out in the water until they really know what they are doing.

There are other forums where the point of the forum is to playtest, such as the proving ground. Part of the beauty of the depot is that they give you scenarios and you can play them or not play them at your leisure. Sometimes I like to download them just to look at the map or the briefing, or to learn something about a particular historical situation.

I think that the people that download these scenarios are generally "good" people who aren't trying to "game" the system. Maybe I am wrong, but this is my opinion.

Given the above items, I would recommend the following:

- put back up the "frequently downloaded" scenarios. It does tell information, even if it is not perfect, and it is objective information. maybe a friend is telling a friend, or they just think that the author writes excellent scenarios, but it is real data.

- put something on the main page site that expressly requests feedback and says that it is important so that authors can do better in the future if people take the time to create reviews. say that it is not required, but it is strongly recommended that people take the time to review scenarios

- perhaps send an email periodically to people on the list asking them to review scenarios that they have played - kind of a friendly reminder - this was suggested above

Just my opinion.

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I happened to come over to this Forum & then I happened to read this whole Thread. I have a take FWIW.

I do Mods. It's good to put something up & have folks say "It's great!", to feel supported & appreciated. However, the people who are going to give me useful feedback are Modders themselves or real Mod Aficionados. People who know what they're looking at, so to speak.

I'm a 'hobby' player. I know I like some Scenarios, but I don't really know why. My input is kinda useless once I get beyond "It's great!'. If I 'had' to review stuff I am exactly the guy who would unintentionally screw up the Rankings before I gave up going there in shame.

What I want to know is what the serious Scenario Designers & Aficionados think.

If someone is into it enough to do X number of Reviews then post their all time favorites, under their name, linked to all Reviews for that Scenario. Vs AI, PBEM, quickies, biggies, whatever Catagories you guys think. But do have a 'Best Kept Secrets' -type one, for stuff that other Folks missed, or that are quirky but kewl. This encourages people to get involved & bring a standard to their input, even a subjective one.

Have 'Hot Picks' lists on the main page based on each 'qualified' Reviewer's latest recommendation in each Catagory, while making it clear that deeper Lists are a click away, under Reviewers names. This keeps the Main Page Lists alive & moving, as it's on a time driven basis. It gives average Schmoes (me) a quick way to grab a Scenario based on something, anything. It also makes it easy to get further (& older) recommendations while drawing people into the whole Review process. When you click on Cap'n Happy's link you know you're getting his opinion, not The Top Ten From On High.

I hope some of this is useful, or at least intelligable.


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I for one will never download again from The Scenario Depot if it is implemented that I HAVE to write a review on a scenario to be able to continue to download.Forget that.I wont do anything that I am forced to do.

I think the Depot is just fine as it is.I have no problem sorting through the scenarios to find what I want.

I also would have trouble writing a review as I do not knitpick every little aspect of the scenario..I want to play and enjoy the game not spend the whole time I am playing looking to see if a wheatfield looks like it should or is the proper size for the area being represented.Or whether or not the forces are balanced..I personally dont care about any of that.Im not that pety.I just want to play the game not be a critic.I also dont play PBEM.I play against the AI sometimes,but mostly hotseat and TCIP games with friends locally..and I should not be forced into writing a review just so I can download maps to keep a game I enjoy fresh.

[ November 19, 2004, 09:01 AM: Message edited by: Erwin Rommel ]

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I for one would not want to read most of the reviews that would get written if people had to write them. The quality of what gets written is tenuous enough as it is -- flooding the database with involuntary hack jobs can only make it worse.

It would be nice if every scenario had twenty or thirty reviews -- that would even out the numerical distortions that come from not having a statistically valid sample. But it's not going to happen, and I think it's better if those who care enough to take the trouble to write a review continue to be the ones who do so.

Reviewing is serious business, and shouldn't be foisted on the inexperienced. My own reviews are far too clumsy to be of any use to anyone, and will probably remain that way until I've written thirty or forty of them. Writing clumsy reviews is not my idea of a very efficient or satisfying way to give something back to the community, so I prefer to focus my efforts in other directions.

I think part of the charm of modding is that it is understood to be a voluntary effort -- a freely given gift. Most of the opinions that are given about a particular mod are not of much use to the maker in and of themselves, and even some of the positive feedback is not really very helpful. A modder should only be interested in the feedback of people who know what they're talking about, and should ignore everybody else. Forcing people to write who don't know and who would otherwise have remained silent is probably the opposite of helpful. I can't imagine that the critique and feedback process in the making of scenarios is much different.

What is really needed is not many reviewers, but a few good reviews.

[ November 19, 2004, 02:06 PM: Message edited by: Philippe ]

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My apologies if this has been asked already, or if this isn't the proper thread in which to ask, but is it possible to submit a scenario pack as a single entity to the depot? IOW, when they d/l it it will contain all the scenarios of that pack, much like how B & T does with the Stalingrad or ROW packs.

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