On a Serious Note: Votes and Region-Wide Lists

Rockin’ and rollin.’

Hello again, Dimensionerds!  Tonight, I want to touch on a couple of things I didn’t really speak about in any of the dimension posts for 4.1 but which I mentioned during last week’s livestream:  the plan to have region-wide lists in place after the patch hits, and the ability to close the item list.

But first, I’ll answer a question:  Feendish, where the hell have you been?

It’s an easy answer to say I needed a break, which was true–I’ve been putting in a ton of hours at work.  Something else that is true is that when Diva left this time, it really took the wind out of my sails.  I simply didn’t want to run the site alone.  I don’t have time to do the things she did like booking guests for the Roadshow and a lot of the admin pieces.  One of the things I will be working on over the next several weeks is to streamline a lot of the features on the site that I don’t have the time to keep updated.  If I can’t keep something up to date, I’d rather not have it showing at all.

I already have one job, and the DTC really started to feel more like a second, as opposed to a hobby, so I took a knee for a while, and we’ll just leave it at that to get to more important things.

 

The things to pay attention to are the little checkboxes at the bottom that say View Item List.  This is on the PTS.

Once upon a time, visitors who did not have edit permissions to a dimension could not open the item list to find out what a particular item in a morph might be.  Somewhere around the F2P conversion and 2.3, by request (I think this part is important–the community asked for the list to be opened up in the first place), the item list was opened up for visitors to be able to look around and see what went into a build.

Three–nearly four–years later, again by request, we will have the option to close off the item list to visitors.  I, for one, intend to use this option.  What may have changed so many opinions–my own among them?

What no one expected was that someone could use Toolbox, DT or TT to enter a dimension, open the item list, and just start clicking items to save the whole thing as a set, then transport that dimension to some other location and reproduce someone else’s work in its entirety.

Granted, someone doesn’t need an addon to copy a dimension, but if you use the addon, you do need access to the item list to be able to select the items.  Why talk about how the exploit is done?  Because pretty much everyone already knows anyway, I’m not spilling any secrets.  More, this exploit (and it is an exploit) has been around for years.  When I very first reported it to the development team, after discovering it by accident, Faratha was still the dimension dev–just to give you an idea of how long ago that was (she left in Dec-ish of 2014).

I don’t get up in arms too much about being copied, with some exceptions (because I have done my share and those who live in glass houses…), but I have never just used an addon to copy, and I feel that those who do copy should at least have to expend a little bit of effort.

Poor Holly@Faeblight, whose work is so inspirational, and whose work is stolen so frequently. Cloudberry Cottage.

 

One remark I did get regarding the item list:  Having it open allows new players who don’t have a lot of familiarity with the items to open the list and see what an item is, to gain a bit of inspiration about how that item can be used.

I’m sorry, but before the list was opened, if you wanted to know how a morph was made, you found the person who built it and asked.  It was a great way to strike up conversations and build in-game friendships.  If the dimension belongs to someone who doesn’t play anymore, chances are pretty good there’s still someone around who will recognize the item–another great way to strike up an in game friendship, by touring together.

This is the bottom of the All Time List from Faeblight. If you have less than 33 votes by the time you fall off the Weekly, you’re pretty much out of luck on visibility.

That brings us to a major change with this patch:  The Weekly and All Time lists will become region wide, instead of only your own shard.  Overall, I think this is a positive change, but I do have some concerns.

On Faeblight’s All Time, shown above, if you have less than 33 votes, you’re screwed for hitting the All Time list once you fall off the Weekly.  On Seastone, however, you only need 4 votes to hit the All Time, so there’s a big disparity.

My alts highest voted dimensions on Greybriar. High enough to make the list, low enough to get totally lost.

One reassurance we’ve received is that there will be no compression of the lists–that is, the UI will still read that it’s the top 1000 results, but in reality, it may be 6000 or 7000–which is a lot of dimensions to sort through.  But trying to take an entire region’s worth of dimensions and cram it down to 1000 would have been devastating to the All Time, and eliminated a vast number of builds that don’t have a high vote count.  Six or seven thousand, while a huge number, at least means those dimensions can still be found.

My biggest concern prior to 4.1’s launch about the region wide list is that it hasn’t been tested, the PTS simply isn’t set up that way.  Will the Search function work, especially for dimensions not on our own shard?  Will my friends that are on a different shard than myself show up on my dimension friends’ list?  Will it even work as intended at all?  So far, there are many more questions about the region list than answers, and there hasn’t been a lot of communication on the topic at all–which is a recipe for pissing off the players, especially if something goes wrong.

Overall, I think a region wide list–the Weekly far more so than the All Time–is a positive change, for the simple reason that those people on Seastone or Bloodiron or any other shard can reach more people more easily when they do good work.

Someone can say that it’s very easy for me to feel that way, as a long time, well known dimension builder who has had the time and opportunity to rack up, in some cases, several hundred votes, and to an extent, that’s true.

The lower end, guaranteed to get good and lost on the All Time list.

Beyond the fact that region lists aren’t tested, I have some other concerns regarding how many votes someone might have to have to get a decent amount of visibility on the Weekly lists–which is for sure where I’ll be focusing more of my touring, because 7000 on the All Time is simply too much to sift through if the Search function doesn’t work.

Why the concern with votes?  Votes equate to visibility.  I haven’t met a single builder in game who doesn’t want people to visit and look at their work.  Someone can tell me all day they don’t care about votes, but those who truly don’t care are extremely few and far between.  In fact, there have been plenty of instances where I’ve been invited by someone who says they don’t care about votes, but they will surely follow me around their dimension until I click that +1 button.

Greywind Fortress, by Saiane@Wolfsbane. I gave this dimension it’s 11th vote. To show up on the All Time for Wolfsbane, it needs 14.

I honestly think that if we were going to do a region list, a better solution would have been to eliminate the All Time ranking and perhaps go to a quarterly ranking along with the weekly, or have only a monthly list and eliminate the All Time list in favor of a quarterly or one that’s good for six months.  A shorter time period may add a lot more dynamism to the lists, but not too short, or a build simply won’t have time to show.

I do think there needs to be a more dynamic display of active dimensions, so that new builders especially aren’t confronted with the old, old dimensions that dominate the tops of the All Time on every shard.  New builders need to feel like they can compete, that they can be seen and appreciated just as much as the old-timers, many of whom are no longer around.  At the same time, those old dimensions earned those votes over time, and deserve to keep them.

Sometimes, it’s the little things. I gave this it’s 15th vote because I’m still laughing over the name. Jesus Hates Justin Bieber, by Toronth@Deepwood. Deepwood’s All Time requires 14 votes.

One of the concerns I saw raised about region lists regarded vote padding.  What do I mean by that?  I mean, once you’ve voted your own dimension with all your alts on your home shard, you now switch to the tourists and mules you have on all the other shards to artificially inflate your own vote totals using the new region wide lists.

Will people do it?  I’m certain that some will, just because they can.  Does that make it right?  No.  Do I think it will be a tremendous issue?  Not really.  Why?  Because the vast majority of people don’t have tourists, when they do look at a dimension, it’s never off shard without an invitation.  Is there someone out there with 40+ mules, if they spent the money to increase their character limit on every shard of a region?  I’m sure there is.  I question whether that person would also be a dimension builder.

To be clear, I think vote padding is an exploit.  It’s an exploit built into the system, but still an exploit.  The only way to really mitigate something like that would be to take away the ability of the owner to vote on their own work at all–and then that person could simply make alt accounts and pad their votes that way.  Removing the ability of owners to vote would also severely hinder those new players who don’t know anyone in game from giving themselves what visibility they can.

In short, there is no easy answer as to how to manage a region wide list, whether it’s a Weekly or the All Time.  There is a lot of truth to the adage that you can make some of the people happy some of the time, but you can never make all the people happy all the time.

I may finally be able to get this rebuild finished–or I may tear it down and start over…again.

Whatever is decided in how to manage the display of dimensions, the best way to make yourself heard is to provide feedback, whether it’s on the forums, in the dimension Skype, or via some other means.  As I said, I see a region wide list as a generally positive thing.  Feel free to let me know what you think as well.

Happy Building, and Happy Touring!

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