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On the organization of the Creation & Customization forum

Discussion in 'Civ6 - Creation & Customization' started by Machiavelli24, Oct 23, 2016.

  1. Machiavelli24

    Machiavelli24 Mod creator

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    UPDATE (11/18): Current consensus structure

    ------------------------------------------
    Original Post:

    I know the current structure mimics the shape of the forum in Civilization 5 but the switch to Civilization 6 provides an excellent opportunity to adjust to the modern realities of modded Civilization. There is an opportunity to learn from the previous years of experience and common confusions to set up things to be easier for new folks along with old hands.

    1. There needs to be a section dedicated to posting technical creation related questions (ei: How do I do X? What is wrong with this code? etc). This is an extremely common use case for the forum and having it explicitly called out will ensure new users will have complete confidence they are posting in the correct location. If a dedicated section does not exist people will post in the main area and the Tutorial and Reference area.

    It may make sense to place the Tutorials and Reference section within, under, or less prominently than the "Get Help" section, so people don't see it first and post there. Calling it something like "Tutorials and Learning" may help communicate to folks that it is a storehouse of wisdom rather than a place ask questions.

    2. Modpacks, Mod Components and Project Mod Development should all be combined. This isn't Civ4. Folks can and do use multiple mods at a time. Creating a difference between Modpacks and Components will just add confusion without doing anything that a Steam Collection doesn't already cover.

    A dedicated "mod that aren't released yet" section can do what the current project & development section while still keeping the distinction between a mod that can be played right now and a mod that isn't available yet.

    3. Categorizing mods into: mods, Civilizations, map scripts is a good set up. I would recommend having another section somewhere (maybe with tutorials) that is for middleware resources. Frameworks that help other mod makers, tools, art assets, utility programs (ei: dragon unpacker) could all go here. They should be separated from the general set of mods because they aren't intended to be played by end users.

    Pulling it all together, what would this look like? There are multiple ways it could go, here is just one example:

    1. Ask for Help
    2. Tutorials & Learning
    3. Released Mods
      1. Civilization Mods
      2. Maps & Map Scripts
    4. Unreleased Mods
    5. Utility Tools & Art Assets
    6. General Mod talk?

    The General mod talk is just there because no posts would be allowed at the top level, users would have to click on one of those sections before they could see threads. Otherwise requests for help will get posted at the top level instead of in its dedicated forum. The general mod talk is sort of a catch all for needs not covered in the other sections.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2016
  2. Firebug

    Firebug Not-so Great Engineer

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    I agree that this seems like the perfect chance to now have less of a mess of a forum. My one issue is that Unreleased mods would also include those posts made by people who are hoping to make a mod, but actually never follow through with it. But that would just mean some more moderation.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2016
  3. Gedemon

    Gedemon Modder Moderator

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    Stickied as this is something we wanted to talk about, but hadn't the time to start yet, thank you.

    And we welcome all suggestions about the organisation of this section.
     
  4. Tokata_RuNeLess

    Tokata_RuNeLess Chieftain

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    Have an suggestion that mods may contain neither new Civs nor mapscripts. ei Events & Decisions. Maybe its necessary to have an 'Other' if we cannot come out with a better name.
     
  5. Pouakai

    Pouakai It belongs in a museum. Moderator

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    Fantastic, we were about to do the exact same topic. We've been discussing how best to set the forum up, and put this setup in as a temporary measure while we finalise it. To give my thoughts on the matter;

    I agree, a help section is a good idea. Though I feel like this early on in the process it might be worth having it more as a collective How do we mod this aspect type deal in terms of deciphering the game code and figuring out what's going on under the hood, as it were.

    I disagree, Learning to me would make it seem more like a place to ask for help as opposed to a place of reference.

    The idea behind our distinction is that there is a clear difference between large mods such as the Enlightenment Era or JFD's projects and small mods which add a single wonder or building. Modpacks and Mod Comps was the way this was distinguished in Civ 5, and while the line was blurred a bit there's not really any better way proposed yet.

    Project & Development is intended as an area for private discussion between the authors of large scale projects within individual subforums, and has found use in Civ 5 through Communitas and other projects. I think it's worthy of keeping.

    This was fulfilled largely by the SDK & Lua section in V, and I think having somewhere that works for more advanced modders to discuss the more technical side of things is a good plan.

    We tried the no talk in the main forum with BE, and personally I hated it (even though it was my idea) - I found it made the forum much more disjointed, and made it feel very 'sterile' for lack of a better word. I'd be staunchly opposed to any similar limitation in the VI forum, especially since the main forum can serve as the general area just as well. Help posts can still be answered there and we can move them if necessary, though I think if we make the help area obvious enough (can we use HTML in the subforum titles?) then there should be no issue.
     
  6. Gedemon

    Gedemon Modder Moderator

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    Just a thought on the differenciation between the mods categories, I do agree that Modpacks and Mod Components are a thing for civ4 and make less sense in civ5 and civ6, in fact I also proposed to merge both of them, as a lot of Modpacks for civ5 where IMO "just" mods components. That's also one of the reasons to merge them, to prevent people thinking "this is just a components, it's not important" which was pushing everyone to post every thing under "modpacks"

    But a distinction is required, the name may change to prevent the above feeling, here is how I see it, Mods that are not new civilizations or maps (world builder or script) could be :
    • Mod Components : modifications of a few area of the game that are probably compatible with most other mod components or modpack
    • Modpacks : modifications of multiple areas of the game that make them incompatible with most other modpacks but still compatible with most mod components
    • Total Conversions : complete change of rules, incompatible with anything else except a few Mod Components
     
    cowtongue likes this.
  7. Olleus

    Olleus Warlord

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    Perhaps the ideas and suggestions forum could be merged into creation and customisation too? They can be rather redundant otherwise, other than Ideas&Suggestions is a graveyard where threads get moved to die. I would suggest organising the forums somewhat like this

    A) Ideas and Modding (anything that departs from the vanilla game)
    ....1) Get Help (if you need help modding)
    ........a) Tutorials and Guides (help as information)
    ........b) Utility tools and assets (help as stuff you download)
    ....2) Looking for a mod? (advertise your mod, get feedback)
    ........a) Total conversions (major changes everywhere)
    ........b) Game play (changes the rules in one way or other)
    ........c) Content (adds new buildings/units/leaders/civilizations/maps/maps script/etc... that leave the base game unchanged)

    A would be a general forum like we have now, with ideas and suggestions thrown in. Any discussion that departs from the vanilla game as it is fits here.

    A.1 is for people who want help with a problem or want to learn how to make a mod. A.1.a and A.1.b are sub forums to provide specific information/tools/assets. As they are for there to be read by many people rather than spawn discussion, they could be made restricted, so new threads have to be approved/moved there by a mod.

    A.2 is where people who just want to download a mod go. As such, any thread in here that doesn't have something to download should be moved somewhere else. If you just want to discuss ideas, do it in A. Once you have something for people to download, start a new thread in A.2. Obviously discussion can still happen (is any mod ever truly finished?), but the sub-forum is there for mods that actually exist in some shape or forms, not just for ideas.
    Mods that have reached a certain level of 'readiness', say a stable and tested beta, can be moved to one of the subsub-forums. I think every type of mod can be divided into A.2.a total conversions, A.2.b game play mods and A.2.c content, but other/more divisions would be fine. Emulating the categories that steamworkshop has might be the least confusion. I think dividing mods into how big a change they make would be more controversial.

    tl;dr:
    I think this does two important things. First, it has a layered structure where you go from ideas, to mods in early development, to mods that are ready. Secondly, it separates the people who are looking for a mod to play and those who want help modding. But not completely, as no mod is ever really finished. As a bonus, it's a fairly simple structure that doesn't go too deep where people would get lost.
     
  8. LeeS

    LeeS Imperator

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    Organization for Completed Mods

    I never felt the civ5 distinction between "Modpacks" and "Mod Components" was ever anything other than an endless train of confusion. I can see dividing usable mods up into categories such as:
    1. New or Altered Civilizations
    2. Gameplay Mods
    3. Total Conversion & Total Overhaul Mods
    4. Premade Maps, Scenarios, and Map Scripts

    I don't feel the intended distinction between "just a mod" and a "modpack", whatever the distinction was supposed to be, was ever clear to much of anyone nor of much use, really. Anything that is a mod intended to be used by a player and that is not a Civilization, a map, scenario, or map-script, and is not a total conversion mod ought to just go in one place to make the organization simpler and (I feel) far more intuitive. The question to be asked, the answer(s) to which should be the functional drivers of the way the sub-forums are organized, is really only one:
    I think the answer is for the vast majority of potential players it is someone who is not really familiar with the excruciating minutae of how we organize our forum. They are probably casual users of CFC, and for the most part even if members of the website may only venture out of the main discussion forums for the one and only purpose of finding and downloading a neat mod to play.

    Mod Maker Tools

    Mod-Making tools, such as lua utilities, or forex William Howard's mod-combiner, or Unit and Building 3d and animated model resources, are a different issue to mods ready to be downloaded and used by players. The best organization of that part of the C&C forum will require a different set of questions the answers to which will drive the organization of that/those parts of the Civ6 C&C forum.

    Main C&C forum for Civ6

    • This I feel strongly this ought to be at the 'top' of the tree similar to the way Civ5 C&C is structured.
    • I am not sure all the sub-forums should really be listed above the main forum as is done currently.
    • If it is possible to arrange so that the main-discussion forum and its threads appear above the listings of the sub-forums for Tutorials & References, Downloadable Mods, etc., then some thought should be given to such an arrangement. I have a suspicion that the real reason the Civ5 Tutorials gets so many "question" threads is because it is the first thing listed so is the first thing people click on. At least in North America and Europe (so far as I am aware) the natural tendancy is to think and observe from top downwards, and to therefore I think click at the "thingie" that seems to be topmost and looks like it might be the appropriate place to ask why a mod is not working. After all, if not in a forum of expertise wherein Tutorials and Guides are presented, where else should one ask why ModX is not functioning?
    • I also think the main Civ6 C&C forum ought to have in its label (if we are still having such things) that it is also the place to talk about experiences in play with mods. We (in the large sense of we, meaning the entirety of CFC) need to think about what it is that causes all discussion of play while using mods in Civ5 tended to die faster than you could say "mod". Civ5 C&C, besides whatever else it was, was the place where threads about using mods went to die after being moved there from main Civ5 Discussion. This was always kinda sad to see.
    [edit] The reason the Civilization-Mods is broken out from other Gameplay mods (even thought this is actually a false distinction) is that so many players of mods come looking specifically for a new civ to play as (or at least they did in Civ5), so the structure of the forum ought to reflect this reality and make it easier for players to find what they are looking for.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
  9. Scissor_fingers

    Scissor_fingers Chieftain

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    I'd like to see a weekly/bi-weekly mod highlight, so certain mods released in the week can get more attention and new modders can have a place where they can get visibility.
     
  10. Machiavelli24

    Machiavelli24 Mod creator

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    [edit:] I agree with all of what LeeS said. Although the sub-forums likely would need to be above the posts in the main section or they wouldn't be seen. The ordering of the sub-forums is critical though. "Get Help" should probably be the first and definitely should be above "Tutorials".
    --------------------------
    Letting the top level be a catch all place for non-technical chatter seems like a good idea. The only risk is new users posting questions there instead of in the "Get Help" section. But that risk should be manageable if the "Get Help" section is the first sub forum displayed, prominently shown and there was a stickied thread in the top level that explained how to ask for help (which included instructions to post in the "Get Help" section). I can volunteer to write it.

    If there is no section for "mods not yet released" than those kinds of threads may also end up here. That could be a good or bad thing, if 10+ long development mods clog up the forum.

    I think I explained it poorly. I'm thinking of Beyond Earth's mod assets forum. It doesn't have to be as sub-divided but its role is stuff intended for mod makers not end users.

    For example, a mod maker familiar with lua implements a new xml table and then makes the code available for other mod makers to use. The other mod makers would only need to be comfortable with xml to take advantage of it. Or Whoward builds a new debugging widget into Fireturner.

    Those kinds of inquiries are certainly what I envisioned would be going in the "Get Help" section.

    As for calling Tutorials "learn", I was skeptical of the phrasing. Tutorials should explain it but as long as the section is seen after the "Get Help" section new folks will be nudged into posting in the "Get Help" section since they will see it first.

    I wasn't sure how much of a gatekeeping responsibility the admins were comfortable taking on.
    ---------------------------------
    With respect to splitting up categories of mods, it seems we all like having a section for Civilizations and Map Scripts. I'm hesitant to say that further sub division is necessary or even beneficial.

    Rather than separate sub-forums what about using thread tags? Tags + descriptive mod titles should help give readers the headline sense of the mod. (This mod is "[Wonders] Statue of Liberty" so it is probably just a single wonder while this other mod is "[Total Conversion] Epic Armies" so it sounds big).

    I can understand the idea behind splitting up large and small mods but the tricky factor is that mods change over time. Every large mod started as a smaller mod. Swapping out a tag instead of moving a thread when after a mod grows large enough to be a "total conversion" could be done without moderator assistance (I think?). And would be less jarring to fans of the mod who wouldn't suddenly find the mod missing from the same place it had always been.

    I share Gedemon's concern that if there is a division and one sub-section is perceived as less important or relevant creators will rationalize putting it elsewhere.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
  11. Kesler

    Kesler Master Kekkler

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    I think the forum should resemble what it did for the post BNW lifetime. We need a central forum to allow the community to foster and grow, and even though a decent portion of people have moved banter and conversation off to Discord, it's important to retain this means of communications for new and old alike to communicate.

    Additionally, only allowing threads to be created in subs via uploading a file is dumb. Not a lot of people use them and it impacts the ease of accessibility and directly affects the ease of communications with others. If mods are worried about spammy posts, make the rules clearer, post additional moderators, or be a mod yourself.
     
  12. ls612

    ls612 Deity Moderator

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    I'm inclined to want the BNW structure with fewer subforums. Ideally, there would be something like this:
    • Tutorials
    • Mods (minor changes which are compatible with one another for the most part)
    • Overhauls (anything from a total conversion to a community DLL)
    • SDK Discussion
    • Project Subforums
    The main forum would continue to be a hub for discussion of various modding issues and the subforums would be larger and more active than many of the BNW subforums were as well.
     
  13. heinous_hat

    heinous_hat Chieftain

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    One development that occurred later in the civ5 life cycle was the emergence of DLC packaged mods for use either in multiplayer or to bypass certain limitations of the standard modding framework. The community adopted the term "modpack", which definitely muddies the terminology water. I'd suggest changing the language for the modpack section to avoid confusion, if there are to be separate sections for overhauls and standalone components. Thus far, it looks like the DLC packages are going to continue to be useful.
     
  14. GPuzzle

    GPuzzle Available in wax cylinder!

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    I think that the last change that completely muddies the water is the mods from JFD - namely, things like ExCE, CulDiv, CiD and RtP. Their impact was big enough that a game with them didn't quite feel 100% like Civ 5, but they weren't total conversion mods like Anno Domini or the mod formerly known as the CBP. E&D, Civ IV Traits, ExCE and similar - they all shared a common style which would not categorize them as mods that added new Civilizations, or new mechanics.
     
  15. albie_123

    albie_123 Modding In Secret

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    I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this - but can something please be done about the abundance of threads that are either requests for possible mods, or requests for people to join a 'team'? They're really cluttering up the forum. Maybe we could have a 'Requests' subforum?
     
  16. Pouakai

    Pouakai It belongs in a museum. Moderator

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    We used to have request megathreads in the relevant subforums, that would definitely be something we could bring back.
     
  17. Gedemon

    Gedemon Modder Moderator

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    Agreed

    But we need to define the relevant subforums first, there have been some good suggestions here, a bit more feedback on those maybe ?
     
  18. albie_123

    albie_123 Modding In Secret

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    I'd like to add my support for more of a demarcation between "Projects" (i.e. big mods that a lot of people are working on, ala the CBP or Communitas) and "Works in Progress". I've always felt that the best place for "Works in Progress" is either a dedicated subforum or in the main discussion section of the C&C forum.

    Personally, I like how it's setup in a few other modding forums (The Hive, a Warcraft 3 forum, is the one that immediately comes to mind). When a big project or mod is being worked on, it's in a "WiP" subforum, and then when the creator feels it's suitably finished, it goes into a "Released Mods" subforum. I know we're really used to having mods released in their initial stages and then being worked on while users play with them, but just thought I'd put it forward as a suggestion. It'd be nice to have a place where you can look at the progress of all the 'big' mods as they're being worked on, such as the Eastern Front scenario or JFD's various mods, with a clear indication that they're either 1. Not released, or 2. Not feature complete.

    I also agree with the observation that the BNW forum feels dead, and that's probably due to the lack of a general discussion section.

    My favored setup would therefore be either:

    - Tutorials and Reference
    - SDK Discussion
    - Resources (This is for art assets, tools, snippets of code, etc.)
    - Works in Progress (For any unreleased content or content the creator feels is not adequately 'polished')
    - Released Mods (Note released doesn't mean finished - for example JFD's mods could belong here, if he wanted them to)
    - Released Leaders and Civilizations (Since they are by far the most popular mods and tend to be very numerous)
    - Released Maps and Scenarios (There's usually little crossover between these and other mods)
    - Projects Subforum (For massive projects and well-established complete overhauls)

    With miscellaneous discussions and questions in the discussion section,

    Or:

    - Tutorials and Reference
    - SDK Discussion
    - Resources
    - Released Mods
    - Leaders and Civilizations
    - Maps and Scenarios
    - Projects Subforum

    With unfinished mods, misc. discussions and questions in the discussion section.

    Personally I'd put requests into a dedicated sticky in the 'resources' forum but your mileage may vary.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2016
  19. Machiavelli24

    Machiavelli24 Mod creator

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    Bringing together the recurring themes how is this as a consensus structure? (I've edited the top post to include it)
    • Mod creation help (It is critical that this be at the top and above Tutorials so people see it first and post there)
    • Tutorials & How-tos (or Tutorials & References, which ever is a better fit)
    • Released Mods
      • Civilizations & Leaders
      • Maps & Scripts
      • Projects/Total Conversions (Which ever name is most appropriate)
    • Unreleased Mods
    • Utilities, Code Snippets & Art Asset
    General Discussion
    -------------------------
    Why "Mod creation help" vs "SDK Discussion"?
    This was done in the Beyond Earth forum and it was a success. Calling it SDK Discussion obscures its Ask-a-question nature. It also leads to problems like what Civ5's Lua forum had. People would ask "How do I do X?" in the non-Lua forum where the answer is "Use Lua to do ABC." This would result in useful Lua info being located outside of the supposedly dedicated thread. This wasn't really the fault of the thread creator because they didn't know before hand that X would require Lua.

    Released Mods
    Originally I was concerned the Projects/Total Conversion sub forum would have the same problems it had in the Beyond Earth forum. But it is much easier to get rid of an underused sub-forum than spin up a needed one after the fact.

    Unreleased Mods
    This forum is more optional to me (as opposed to the "Mod creation help" which is a deal breaker). If it ends up not being useful it can probably be merged in with General Discussions without much difficulty.

    General Discussion
    This would be the "top" area with non-technical threads. Perhaps the request mega thread could go in this area. A post sticked here can instruct new visitors to ask questions in the Mod Creation Help forum. I can volunteer to write it.
     
  20. albie_123

    albie_123 Modding In Secret

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    That looks pretty much spot on, although I'd also consider separating Art Assets into its own subforum.

    Where would non-overhaul but gameplay related released mods go, though?
     

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