Zonrith1's Blog - Jan to Mar 11 (7 followers)
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Mar
29
PermalinkLessons in Leadership
I enjoy reading about changes to this site. The improvements TA has undergone have been significant and much appreciated. The significant mod staff here deserves a lot of thanks for their hard work in making this site a better place. But, in several news posts spanning over months, I've noticed that at least some mods really have a hard time with criticism. That's not really unusual in any venue, and I'd forgotten about most of it until I saw the posts announcing the new genre system, and the posts seemed to spend more time trying to defend against an assumed flood of criticism (and shut it down before it started) rather than merely outlining the changes.

As such, I felt like listing some of my thoughts about leadership, specifically as it relates to running an online operation (such as MMO guilds or forums):

1) Criticism is not the enemy: Assuming criticism is a negative is a bad place to start one's line of thought. In the online world, not all criticism is constructive. Trolling is very common. However, choosing to take all forms of criticism as an attack on the decisions of leadership does more harm to you than good. Why? Because the critics think you are being insular, that you think there are two tiers of people: the leaders and everyone else.

There is no harm in trying to minimize criticism, and I think simple statements help best with that. Things like "we are evaluating how this works for a while" work fine. But trying to stop criticism from entering during that period is a big mistake. Rather, you should formalize a process for complaints to be received. For example, a dedicated thread for people to list issues they have with the genres as currently organized would have been a great way to channel all that criticism into a single location. After all, when you have obvious decisions that will cause controversy (fighting games not being a tier 1 genre while flight is rather than being placed under simulation, to cite one example I recall reading), trying to get people NOT to complain just isn't going to work. It'll just piss them off.

2) Transparency is king: Leaders don't have to be transparent, but in my experience I've found the more transparency the less criticism. I've been in leadership roles in forums and MMOs, and saw all sorts of different approaches. Those that were most closed to "outsiders" tended to make decisions faster, but they also got accused the most of playing favorites, ignoring realities, or otherwise disenfranchising those that were using the forums/doing endgame with you.

People like to know. Even if they don't have a direct voice, they like to understand. Summaries of how decisions were made being provided (upfront) can save you on a lot of drama later.

3) Hold votes when possible; mods do not need full control: If you're dealing with something that can be voted on by the membership, why not use it? This came to my mind on this forum specifically back when the GOTY votes were happening. Members got to vote on various genres for their favorite 2010 games, but they didn't get to weigh in which games made up the short list within each genre. The mods who made such choices ended up getting quite defensive when their decisions were questioned by dozens of comments.

Should the members have gotten to choose the finalists? That's irrelevant; should or shouldn't isn't at issue (in my opinion there is no "right" or "wrong" answer to that). The mods should have known that determining the short lists internally would generate criticism. So, they either should have been fine with such criticism (ideally following my earlier recommendations and exposing the discussions from the get-go to provide transparency), or they should have done a voting process in order to remove them as a focal point of criticism. The excuses provided just ended up frustrating users who upped their criticism and, in turn, upset the mods even more.

(As an aside, using excuses about time consumption really do ring hollow with categorical contests like the GOTY awards. Those votes could have all been held simultaneously since they were independent categories. The Oscars aren't selected one category per week; they vote all at once.)

4) Recruit your vocal critics: The most vocal critics tend to be the most passionate members (barring those that just like to stir the pot; such people tend to be easily identified). Bringing such individuals on-board as mods can help focus their energies from commenting their outrage (really the only vehicle the membership has to attempt to make changes) and instead working internally to implement reforms. Such people also tend to become excellent at communicating to the membership and defending leadership decisions, as they tend to better understand the membership's perspective (generally speaking, the longer one is on a leadership team, the more one loses sight of the perspective non-leaders have; part of this is because leadership is a sort of "club", but mostly it's just because when you see all the information flowing in it affects your decisions and it becomes easy to forget others don't have access to that same information).

5) Accept you can't please everyone: There will always be people who hate a change. Always. As long as you've done due diligence to keep them informed and explain why the change was made, the best you can do from there is listen to their criticism.

Being a mod or in any online leadership role is stressful. I saw a ton of people burn out (as I myself did) with the level of work it takes. I think this gets lost in the online venues because it's so easy to get a leadership role (a couple clicks and bam, you have mod status), and people see the posts/tasks mods do and don't really understand how much actual work it takes to do it right until they are trying to do it themselves. So, my hat is off to those on TA who have chosen to be in the leadership roles. I doubt any will read this, but I'd been meaning to list out these thoughts for a while now anyway, and a blog works as well as Notepad I suppose. laugh
Posted by Zonrith1 on 29 March 11 at 16:25 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Mar
17
PermalinkUpping that Completion Percentage
With no new games slated for purchase on the "near" horizon, now has been a good time to work on past games. Of course, that falls into two categories:

1) Games I liked quite a bit but couldn't work on more due to pressures of game backlog;
2) Games I had more trouble getting into or for some other factor resulted in a low score.

I've started playing Dead Rising 2 again, as it is a game I have a low score in but did enjoy. The problem is, I beat the game in co-op but I wasn't host, so most of the cumulative achievements I missed out on since my counter reset every time we stopped. With other things to play I just never got back to it. It's been going pretty smooth thus far (being a higher level really helps), but I'm not entirely sure what I want to go for this go (after playing through it again who knows how long it'll sit). I should probably load some guides and make some decisions, but DR2 reminds me of how awful my DR1 score is (but that's another story...).

I started doing more of my GFWL games lately. I finally bought a wired controller for Shadowrun; the handicaps they applied to keyboard+mouse users was so extreme that I'd often be lucky to get a single kill in a game. I'm still bad at it, but I am doing a lot better via controller. I did a boost on this, it went well, so I'll try another one out. Some of these achievements are nearly impossible to do without boosting. Still, I don't mind popping in and working on my games played via public matches. Funny to think I've played this game since 2008 in some fashion. Not being able to voice-chat with 360 users (I believe due to the Xbox update that changed the codecs) does make it a lot more boring, though. It's like I'm in a little bubble of silence; very frustrating for boosting since most people play the 360 version.

I'm also playing more Viva Pinata on PC. I can see why some people really get into this game, but for me it's just a tad too tedious (repetitive) to be considered a great game. Decent enough, though.

On the co-op front, slow progress (but some nonetheless!) in Sacred 2 and Ao2-2. I'm not in a rush on those, since the next planned co-op buy is probably LOTR (I think that's still to be out before Gears 3, but I haven't confirmed that recently). My Ao2-2 save got corrupted in some way and I lost all my stats, which was frustrating, so we restarted. Reminds me why I didn't buy the game new (the demo crashed constantly, and the retail game crashes more than it should [though less than that acursed demo]).

I did full clear Dance Central, making it the second Kinect game I've got 1,000 in. Fatty Evolved will likely be next; in less than a week I'll have the last calorie achievement, and Ubisoft claims an event will be offered sometime in March, so I should be able to get the last one. I didn't bother getting the Bollywood stuff even with the sale, since the game is a loaner and I'd probably only use it one time. After FE is out of the way I may invest more time in Sonic since it's the lowest score on the Kinect front, though it has been longer since I've done Kinect Sports.

That's about it. I'm keeping my eye on a few new games. LOTR and Gears 3 are pretty much definite. The movie game for Kinect as well, though I'm considering the Wipeout and bowling games in addition (might wait for sales, though). No big SP non-Kinect things in mind at this time; might get some more older/used games if I get too bored working on past titles, but for now that's entertaining me.
Posted by Zonrith1 on 17 March 11 at 16:10 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Feb
16
PermalinkProgressing Towards... Progress
I've been in a new-game lull recently, which is good as it has allowed me to progress on all the things I'd already purchased (though I did end up getting Space Invaders Infinity Gene... I do like me some Space Invaders).

Let's see, I got through the RDR Nightmare story. I'm still inclined to go for:
Red Dead RedemptionZed's Dead, BabyThe Zed's Dead, Baby achievement in Red Dead Redemption worth 105 pointsAttain 100% Game Completion statistic in Undead Nightmare.

As I'm pretty close already. Then again, it would just serve as a reminder that I never got:
Red Dead RedemptionRedeemedThe Redeemed achievement in Red Dead Redemption worth 234 pointsAttain 100% in the Single Player Game Completion stat.

Not to mention a lot of other RDR achievements. I just ended up getting other games and getting sidetracked.

I'm almost done with ACBroB4Ho; I think I have two memory sequences left. I expected to be done by now with this, but I've ended up messing around in so many of the side quests that I've ended up playing far more than I did in AC1 or 2. The Facebook game integration has been far more worthwhile than Crackdown 2 ever achieved. I think I'll hammer through this puppy within two weeks.

On the Kinect front I've slowed up. The only game I really have a disappointing score in still is Sonic Free Riders; it's very time consuming to do all the various race modes on every course and I've stayed away from it for a while as I was getting tired of seeing them over and over and over. I'll get back to finish up the Tag and Relay modes after a while, and then probably work on some of the time trials to secure a respectable score. I have gotten back with Dance Central after a short lull to focus on other games. I'm down to the hardest two achievements, and have decided to focus on:
Dance CentralDance InstructorThe Dance Instructor achievement in Dance Central worth 447 pointsEarned 5 Stars on every song in the game on Hard.

I don't know if I'll succeed at this. I'm just taking it one song at a time (meaning I work on one song till I 5-star and then I turn the game off), and I'll see if I can establish some sort of schedule with it that way, sort of like how I do Fatty Evolved (aka Your Shape Fitness Evolved). I felt like my knees were going to fail me when I 5-starred Teach me How to Jerk for the Jerk achievement, but that song was bad for me on Easy so it may not be indicative of how everything will go. If I were 10 years younger I'd like to think it'd all be easy, but I wasn't really in better shape then so I'm probably just making excuses. headspin

Normally, at this point in a purchasing lull I'd start to review past games for achievements I want to work on, but thanks to Amazon's 50% deal I've got Army of 2: 40th Day (aka Ao2-2) and Sacred 2 on the way. A friend also bought them, so I should be due for some co-op goodness sometime next week. Outside a little bit of RDR/ACBroB4Ho/BC2 co-op bits I've not really done any major co-op play since Halo: Reach, and so I'm definitely looking forward to these arrivals. I just hope they are enjoyable; I remember trying the Ao2-2 demo and it constantly locking up so I'm a wee bit concerned on that one, but reviews I've checked didn't suggest the final product had that problem.

Oh yeah, still need to play all the ME2 DLC I bought back during the Christmas sale. I need to quit forgetting I have all that sitting on my HD...
Posted by Zonrith1 on 16 February 11 at 18:14 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Jan
19
PermalinkMotion Motivation
So I picked up a Kinect after Christmas. I'd tried some games a couple times and decided they were enjoyable. Of course, only after playing them more did I really realize just how tiring so many of them are. The TA ratios, by-and-large, are very high on these games. Likely because people like me tired, ever so tired. It's sad when I see an achievement I want to get but realize that physically it might be something that has to be spread over multiple days, lest I want aching knees and stiff shoulders.

Game quality does vary, however. I'm hoping Kinect games don't end up like the Wii (tons of shovelware with a few gems mixed in), but until we see more post-launch titles it's really hard to judge. My thoughts on those I've tried so far:

Kinect Adventures: A solid title, and a good choice to be with the bundle. The mini-games all respond well, and there's a good mix of physically exhausting ones and more strategic/response-based ones. The biggest problems I have with KA are that I think there should have been more mini-games and I think some of these games are a lot less fun than others. Popping space bubbles I find lame compared to the roller-coaster, but I suppose everyone's mileage will vary on that.

Kinect Sports: If anything would have been a better bundle than KA, it'd be this. A solid title. Great mix of mini-games, especially with the free DLC added in, and the challenge level is broad. The achievements run the spectrum, and there are some that are quite challenging skill-wise. Some games are stronger than others (I still am not entirely sure how to throw the discus in KS), but overall I'd say it's probably the best game for the Kinect on the market.

Dance Central: Fun, if you like dance and the nature of rhythm games. I like that this has you actually executing dance moves, not just trying to hit colored blobs on the screen. The challenge level gets pretty high, though, and if you aren't reasonably healthy I think you'll find this overly difficult on the achievement front. Or if you are clumsy. Or if you like to hit a nearby lamp (I know I'm going to break that lamp, I just know it!).

Sonic Free Riders: This thing is so physically exhaustive I think it should be billed as a fitness game. I wasn't leaning towards getting this, but after trying the demo I felt the controls weren't as broken as I was led to believe. I think the controls work better if approached slightly different than what the tutorial says, but it was straightforward and I figured most of it out just playing a bit. Like other Sonic games I've played, there are achievements tied to time challenges and such, and those are not cake-walks, at least not for me. I think I jump more in this game than any other I've tried.

Kinect Joy Ride: This game is not physically draining. It's really just steering with some leaning. I got it because I thought it might be fun in small bursts, and it has been. I've experimented using a bar stool and sitting and driving; it works... sorta (boosting the car hasn't registered well when I sit; I may need to experiment with some different positioning or a couple other chair designs). Kids who are interested in racing games without needing "hardcore" racers might like this, too, since you don't have to worry about modulating gas/brake (of course, I never modulated my speed in Burnout... ho ho ho).

So those are the main ones I've played. I've tried Deca Sports, but not enough to really opine on it.

Beyond these, I picked up Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (aka AC:Bro, aka A:BrosB4Hos). It doesn't feel much different than AC2, which is a good thing. I'm still getting a feel for some of the new gameplay changes, but overall the impact has been slight. We'll see how the co-op is when I delve into that mode.
Posted by Zonrith1 on 19 January 11 at 21:24 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.