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A special look inside C3V with Dad_Scaper

Posted November 30th, 2019 at 06:29 PM by HS Codex

C3V Interview
Author: quozl

quozl here: I took the questions posted in the interview thread and posed them to Dad_Scaper to answer. And here are those answers!

Thanks for all of these excellent questions, everybody. I’ll answer them as best I can. Please remember that my friends and colleagues in the C3V might answer these questions differently from the way I do, and even though I say “we” a lot, I’m just talking about my perceptions & opinions about what “we” do.

Here we go!

A landscaper reforms the land where they are working, to make it look nicer. With this in mind, what exactly does Dad_Scaper do to dads to make them better?

A DadScaper makes dads better by encouraging them to internalize the following pearl of wisdom: Whatever you do as a parent is the wrong thing. You’re always wrong, so give up trying to be right. Aim for “good enough.”

What does C3V do? What does the SoV do? How do they work together?

The C3V was conceived and created by Grungebob, IAmBatman, and others, to emulate for the Heroscape-playing community the experience of having new releases into the Heroscape canon. That is the raison d’être for the secrecy, the format of our releases, and also the great lengths we go to in order to get things right. Because we don’t treat this like raising kids, where “good enough” is acceptable. This is important!

I trace the dawn of the C3V to November 8, 2010, which is the date of the OP of the “C3V Announcements” thread. That’s where the C3V was officially kicked off, by my reckoning.

The SoV was started by Killometer, essentially alone. He recruited a few people, including myself, to be the first judges, so I have some (quite outdated) experience with what it was like, at one time, to be a judge in that project. The SoV dates from November 10, 2010, which is the date of the OP of the (surprise!) SoV thread.

Historically, the idea was to identify customs that were suitable for release as good for everybody to use. That meant two things, essentially: Is the design itself good enough, and is the mini available for people to get it for themselves. If the answer to both of those questions was yes—which is not something you would know, without rigorous testing—then the SoV was the channel for getting the unit into the canon.

Out of mutual respect, the two projects elected to work in partnership. That way, SoV and C3V personnel could work together to make sure that the projects did not step on each other’s toes, with efforts like the SoV judges testing a unit that would interfere with a synergy secretly being developed inside the C3V.

Other questions dig more deeply into this relationship, so I’ll come back to this later. But, essentially, this is still how the projects work together. The SoV judges and the C3V work together to shape a growing canon for the game, and for the community, that we all share.

What does the Executive Review Board do?

This is an excellent question. Internally, there was a major battle at the dawn of the C3V between the positions of (1) having strong central management, and (2) having a guiding board with relatively little direct authority. It’s my own sense (this was before a time when anybody cared what I thought) that the debate eventually settled on a sort of middle ground. We’ve fallen into this place where it feels like we on the ERB are the captains of the ship, for the purpose of turning the wheel one way or another, but we don’t actually have a captain’s authority to tell anyone else what to do.

As for what the ERB does in practice, let me take the long way to answer that question by reviewing what everybody (more or less) does, so I can write about how the ERB fits in.

Units move through the process this way:

UBR (Unified Brainstorming Repository)
This is the primordial ooze of design. Comparing it to what happens in the public eye, this is similar to people’s personal design threads, before things get to the pre-SoV thread. We identify available minis here, and spitball ideas until we start to see workable ideas come together. Except that nobody really does one alone. They are all workshops.

This is sort of the pre-SoV thread. It’s where the Design Department—currently SoA, Cap, and dok—workshop the ideas from the UBR until they’re ready for serious consideration. By this point, there is already a Lead Team attached to the design, and the guys in the Design Department are just trying to help the Lead Team bring their design to life in the best way possible.

ISR (Inner Sanctum Review)
This is where everybody can come by and talk about a unit. The guys in Editing, for instance, include Scytale, quozl, and (again) dok. We want Scy’s and Q’s input on a design early on, and by announcing that a unit is in ISR then we are signalling to them that now is the time to come look at a new(ish) unit in development.

ERB (Executive Review Board)
Formally, from the early days, the ERB is essentially the guardian of the canon. This is the place where we try to make sure all designs are within the aesthetic of the game. Things can struggle here for different reasons. Recently, for instance, a unit went backward because it had a feature intrinsic to its design that had two contradictory themes built in. The ERB took the position that, without a single clear theme for the unit expressed on the card and in the mini, it needed an overhaul.

We’ve had some major battles at this stage over different things that might seem utterly inconsequential: Is this mini properly female? Do we have the authority to make a new planet? Should Jotun always be the highest priced unit? We all have our own “head canons,” to borrow a term from dok, and it’s important that we take care to guide the whole ship as carefully as we, as a group in the ERB, can.

Because the ERB has this role, it also falls to the ERB to take the reins of some other housekeeping decisions. Time to introduce a new planet? Time to release a wave or pack? Time for a special release? The ERB handles those decisions also.

The ERB has a couple of other roles, too, that I see as extensions of its prime directive. First of all, it approves which units will leave UBR and go to Design, and which Lead Team will be working on each set of those units. So if Sir H. and Kinseth and Capsocrates have been working together on a Penguin With A Machine Gun, a Headless Horseman, and a Jotun’s Wife, then the ERB might appoint those three members of the C3V to be the Lead Team for those three units, and then to be their shepherds through the whole process. As a team.

After the unit leaves the ERB, the design itself should be essentially set in stone. “Should be.” That’s why we announce the mini at that moment. The design is fixed, and attached to that mini. Sometimes it ends up going backward, but that can’t be helped. This is the point where we commit to the mini.

Following the ERB, the remaining departments take the roughly-completed design and turn it into something worthy for the ’Scape-playing community. Editing makes sure that the words on the card are clear and consistent with the canon, and PT makes sure that the unit is fun and good and priced correctly. Art finishes it all off by giving us a pro-looking card.

That’s a long answer to a short question, and I could have gone on (much) longer.

How many “levels” are there to VC? Are all of them active? Does every VC member have access to every VC thread?

I listed them above, but there are a couple of others that are not part of the design process. The Rules Team handles rules question—some from fans, some developed internally—that come up after release. We also have a Fiction Department that only does stuff sometimes. Neither of those departments has a member who is not also a member of one or more departments in the design process.

Every member of the C3V contributes. We try very hard to keep the rolls clean of people who are inactive; dead weight will kill a project. It’s come, occasionally, to the point of “firing” somebody, but normally we quietly bump inactive people off the rolls or we quietly urge them to quit, and they do so with our gratitude. We are deeply in the debt of everyone who has ever been in the Inner Sanctum, including those who silently vanished and those who were forced out and the very few who left unhappily.

Every member of the C3V can see every C3V thread. The ERB has a separate private subforum, which is basically one thread. In it, we can have conversations that are more frank, or more blunt, then might be suitable for sharing in the more public space of the rest of the Inner Sanctum.

This private space is only rarely used, now. The last time it got used heavily was when I was fighting with another member of the ERB, long after he had stopped contributing, and I was trying to get him to quit. That was a long time ago. Since then, it’s been good for occasional posts that (I think?) are mostly making sure that some disagreement or other stays within the realm of “manageable.”

Also, we can all post in threads whenever we want, with one limitation: we try to be mindful that when the unit is in (for instance) Editing, contributions address Editing matters. Members of the ERB can just chime in whenever they want, but should (and do) respect the purpose there. Others can can as well, if they want, though that happens somewhat less often. They can even chime in with design questions, if they are so inclined, but generally workshop on design features is confined to the stages where that’s supposed to be done.

How does the C3V/SoV relationship work behind the scenes? Does the C3V have a private space that the SoV cannot access? Does the SoV have a private space that C3V members cannot access? Who gets to vote on the final releases of C3V units and SoV units?

The SoV has always, since the beginning, had significant control over what happens in the C3V. There has never been a time, since the union, when the SoV did not have a strong presence on the ERB. There was a time when the ERB was mostly also judges from the SoV.

Over the years, many SoV members have had important roles in the design phase. The members of the SoV who want to be involved in the design phase in the C3V may certainly be involved there, and some have taken advantage more than others. Which is fine! People do what they can and care to do.

As far as I can tell, there hasn’t been much tension in that relationship in awhile. I know that the SoV judges have a private space that the C3V guys can’t see, when the C3V Sanctum (as a whole) has no such place concealed from the SoV judges. The ERB has its own private space, but there’s always been at least one SoV member on the ERB, so I don’t know what that’s worth. I don’t think either private space has been a problem, though the mere existence of the ERB private space has been a source of discontentment for at least one former C3V member I can think of.

(Side note, for the interested, and unrelated to the SoV: I think that criticism in particular, and that person’s other comments, generally boiled down to his idea that the ERB should not be any kind of management, and that we should not rush anything, to the point where it was ok—in this person’s view—for things to sit in one department for months without movement. Literally, months. No need for ERB pushing anything forward; zero urgency to reach decisions. Which is, indeed, a point where he and I differed, because I have always felt that we are nothing if we are not producing. We are all grateful to all of our alum, even those who had harsh words for us in the immediate aftermath of their departure.).

There is sometimes tension when it comes to SoV nominees that a significant number of C3V sanctum members don’t like. Or that they’re concerned about. When Sir H. nominated the shadow faction, on paper all those units looked ok. But it’s a whole faction, and testing all those units is a daunting prospect. SoV judges are under no obligation to share anything other than their votes; there is no transparent testing process. What are we, as the C3V members, to do with that information? Take the votes and accompanying posts at face value? That’s a considerable ask, with so many interrelated units coming at once.

So there was some tension there, for instance, as an example of when the two projects are not exactly in lock step. I asked (I think fairly) for the judges to write about how they intended to approach the task of testing all these units, and I was met with some answers but also some posts that suggested that I should just trust them to do their jobs. Not a crazy response, and I’m not trying to say who was right and who was wrong, but that’s a space in which we might find some tension. At the end of the day, no SoV unit (so far) has failed at the final vote stage.

Finally, as to who gets to vote to Finalize a unit, it’s everybody. All of us, and all votes count the same, regardless of which project brought the unit to that stage.

How much playtesting goes on during the design process while still in the inner sanctum, before a design is more widely available?

That’s up to Playtesting. Sometimes more; sometimes less. It changes from unit to unit. The guys in PT are excellent players and excellent judges of what a given unit needs.

Units can go backward from PT, too. Whether problems are discovered internally or once they’re out in the public, we’ll do our best to get everything right before ultimate release.

What happens when a design is started by a sanctum member and then that person leaves the sanctum? Is the design abandoned, transferred to another person, or its ideas integrated to another design?

Excellent question. Designs are run through the process by members of a team—the Lead Team—so no one person is required to keep a unit moving. But if a person is active and steps down, which has happened before, we’ll often encourage that person to stay on the Lead Team anyway, and just forgo voting. Sometimes, if it’s (for instance) a PAM (a member from the community, temporarily with us) that person will leave, and the Lead Team will carry on without that person.

One of the points of the Lead Teams is to give resiliency against a single person leaving, and similarly to give reinforcement to a design vision when a unit enters a department that is bending its will against the design itself. It’s good to have a couple of people sticking up for what’s important, rather than just one.

How do C3V designs start? Do y’all always start with a figure, or do some designs start as a concept or interesting power and then find a figure to match?

In the earliest days, we would sometimes start with a design with no mini. And we still do sometimes, such as the idea for a design of a Valkrill Flagbearer (just an example; I don’t think we actually had the design until we had the mini first). You can see where the piece would fit, but you don’t have the mini. This can also come up if a mini becomes scarce. We’ve had a number of iconic fantasy units—an air elemental; a griffon—sit and wait for proper minis, when the first ones became too scarce.

Normally the way we seem to work now is that people post interesting minis and we go from there. I recall one specific example of a hunt for a good mini for a particular historical figure, but that’s pretty rare. I am especially proud of the historical figures, though. I told CVN we were working on this particular one, and he told me that those designs were always dear to him.

What’s your favorite design/s (if more than one), either to work on and design, or to play with? And if you can tell (such as if it’s been released), why is that your favorite/s release/s?

Oh, this is a good one.

For myself, I try to focus on process issues. Staying in my lane. In the last couple of years, though, I’ve gotten more involved in design itself, and I have some fondness for the units I felt the closest to in the design process. The Sentinels of Grax and Heracles come to mind. I didn’t lead either of those designs, but I am fond of them for some input I had for each.I also liked the Ebon Armor, because of the work I put into their bio. I am super duper excited about some units in the pipeline that you will all see soon, I hope. Many thanks to our playtesters!

There are a couple of units in the large expansion we just released that are dear to me. I was on the Lead Team for Hrognak, and I have one of the early Soundwarp customs for that mini. Go get it if you don’t have it! It’s amazing.

Recently I took the Sentinels and the Xualtiaca Fire Ants as my army, and that was an absolute blast of an army to play. I loved it.

Favorite release? Probably the Varkaanans. That took a lot of work internally to get right, it took a lot of internal conflict to endure, and ultimately we did something that was both an extension of the canon, but faithful to it. They’re too damned complicated for me to maximize, but I feel like they are a magnificent sports car, and I love that we made them. A close second place would be this most recent release, the large expansion. Lots of blood, sweat, and tears in those big fellas.

Do you think that the VC would have evolved differently if the posts themselves were public, even if the public could not participate in them (think of locking threads so only VC members may post in them). If so, how?

First of all, our closed door are baked into our purpose. Our reason for being is to be like Hasbro, or WotC, sometimes releasing new units into the world. If our designs in progress were all public, we would lose that moment of “Oh, cool, a new unit!” And that moment is important to me. In its place, we would have “Look at this idea!” And 18 months later, “Has it been released yet? No, because the typesetting isn’t quite right? Ok. Yawn.”

But to answer the question more directly: Do I think that the VC would have evolved differently if posts were public? Absolutely. And it would not have been good.

In any group this size, there will be conflict. And people will handle conflict differently if there is an audience. Specifically, what people will often do if there is conflict and an audience, is they will simply avoid it: they will drop out. And it would not be acceptable to risk losing people every time we disagree. In a group of our size, there must be a way to resolve conflict and move forward in the spirit of cooperation, and that would be far more difficult if our office had windows instead of walls.

I suspect others among the C3V might answer this question differently, and I may be the only one who would answer it this way. We have endured, and our walls-instead-of-windows are part of what has made it possible. This is what I believe.

Let us have our disagreements in peace, so that we may make up and carry on. That is how progress is made. You want to end progress? Stop the disagreements.

Not that we mostly disagree! Mostly we don’t. Mostly what we do is we take turns putting our shoulders to all of our various stones, nudging each one forward an inch or two at a time. But we need our privacy, because stone-pushing is not the most dignified thing a person ever did.

Have you considered the possibilities of adding new game mechanics, even simpler ones like someone transforming into a werewolf? I’ve noticed that you guys have tried using some of the less used mechanics a bit more relatively lately (lobbing rules, fireline rules, and spirits); although the last time the C3V tried a new mechanic it became an apparent rules nightmare (Omegacron).

Well, we’ve quietly changed the game in a few ways. The Varkaanans, for instance, cracked the traditional squad structure. And Mok is essentially a vehicle. We try not to shout it from the rooftops when we do these little pushes, though. It’s not our purpose to change boundaries. Our purpose is to be faithful to the canon, which does not (as I understand our mission) mean blind obedience to all of its artificial limits. It just means that, when we break the squad structure or introduce a vehicle, or when we crack the point ceiling or introduce a new planet, we are just doing what we expect of us.

As for major changes, of the type that you would put in the instructions instead of on a card, that’s an interesting question. I don’t know why we wouldn’t, but we haven’t.

We’re more disciplined now, about avoiding rules nightmares. But heaven knows it can be painful, and a terrible trial to a person’s (my) patience, to watch as we pick over things to make sure we are avoiding nightmares.

When designing a figure, how do you satisfy the tournament player who wants the most balanced figure possible while at the same time satisfy the casual player who wants a figure that can produce exciting, memorable moments (ex: low probability powers like Dan’s Sharpshooter and NGS Mindshackle) regardless of balance?

Good question, and I’ll offer two answers.

First, it is not our goal that every unit should be all things to all people. Some units will be better suited to competitive play; some will be more suited to scenarios; some will be more high risk/reward. We want some natural variation there.

Second, the internal use of Lead Teams was designed to (try to) push back against the temptation to smooth the rough edges off of everything. If a Lead Team is attached to some little quirk or something, then that will help carry that entertaining little feature all the way through the process. It was harder for (some) individual designers to see visions through, when well-meaning kibbitzers from all sides were blowing this way and that into the unit’s sails. With the advent of Lead Teams, it’s harder for the ERB, for instance, to push a boat off its course.

With the recent release of Arthur of Sherwood and his Treasure Grab ability, is this an indication that the C3V will make an effort to focus more on characters designed for Scenarios that utilize the less used elements of Heroscape?

Interesting question! Is there something you (generic “you”) want more of? More scenario-friendly designs? I love feedback, and would be curious to hear it. Is this something people want?

We’re only human, and we’re humans with day jobs, too. We’re happy to get feedback and we’re not mind readers.

The early release of Heroscape featured more powers that were based on low probability rolls and tended to be a challenge to use properly in a competitive game (Dund Crippling Gaze as an example). As part of maintaining the Heroscape legacy, do you feel that the VC community should continue to design figures that are a throwback to those style of figures that may not be the best suited for tournament play but are creative nonetheless?

Absolutely! I do not know if our rate of production of such units is greater or less than that of the original designers. But I’d like to think we’ve introduced some high variance units into the game. We have tried to avoid Aldin’s “flip a coin” unit, where on a head you win, and on tails you lose, of course (not that Aldin developed such a unit; on the contrary, he used that metaphor sometimes in design discussions to make a point). That would be “balanced,” but certainly not fun.

We have decided not to set out to make bad units, though. If that’s what you mean. A unit that needs a 19 or 20 to hit its power is cool, and should be priced appropriately. If it only needs a 14, the price goes up. We won’t set out to recreate Dund, if that’s what you mean.

Do you feel that there will be a day when designing a figure with Official, C3V and SOV compatibility may be too daunting of a task given the multiple synergies that are present with many of the established classes and personality choices?

It is daunting to work in a living, growing synergy web. But I think we’re doing ok, and so are the excellent designers working on their own, sharing their work into our expanded canon. I don’t expect that to change.

To help maintain diversity of thought in the VC community and to keep
as many players engaged as possible, how do you think the VC community
can welcome and make room for new players interested in contributing?

I’m not saying we’re great at community involvement, but the best way to get involved in contributing is to take advantage of something available to all: playtest. We are always aware of who our playtesters are. They provide us direct feedback. That’s the best way to get in. Other ways to get in? Just be active where there’s room to be active. The Alternate Sculpts thread has spun completely out of my ability to manage it, but I know who’s active in it. And who is adding what.

There are zero people inside the C3V whose sole job it is to think up designs and build them from scratch. Zero. And when I say “zero,” I mean none. That’s not what we, individually, do. So showing your chops as an excellent designer is really not a good way, by itself, to get into the Sanctum. You aren’t good at working with others? You won’t playtest? You can’t make pro-looking PDF cards? We really aren’t hiring, if your only skill is designing good units.

We only rarely add people to the Inner Sanctum. When we do, it’s people who offer something other than (often in addition to) design skills.

Scytale recently posted somewhere that adding people to the Inner Sanctum would make us slower, and not faster. It’s important that people know this. We don’t need to add bodies, because cramming more chefs into the kitchen (if that’s what observers are imagining) is no way to make the restaurant flow more smoothly.

We do have a program for rotating through outsiders. The “PAM” program. It was Sir H. before; now it’s Leaf It. That’s one thing we do to keep ourselves fresh. I hope Sir H. and Leaf It would say that we have been open to their design ideas and other contributions.

Our Lead Teams are always different combinations of people, who end up offering a different Team voice. I’d like to think that we are offering variety to the community. If there’s something that we aren’t doing, please let us know. Maybe we should have a thread with a request for ideas for design space for us to occupy, rather than just collecting minis & ideas attached to them? I don’t know. We certainly don’t try to be insular, and we want to be responsive. Tell us what’s up!

You recently started an Alternate Sculps thread that has really taken off... probably moreso than you expected! With its success, are you hoping that more tournaments will embrace C3V now that the figures are more accessible?

Yes. That was precisely the point. More tournaments, more players. I wanted to open the gates! I am overwhelmed by the interest in that thread, but that’s ok. Keep the suggestions pouring in until every unit is covered with alternates 5 options deep. Keep ’em coming!!!

Thank you for calling attention to that thread. I think and hope it is as important as I wanted it to be.

One thing that I found interesting about the Alternate Sculps thread was to what extent many unseen players were already going to to find alternate figures to use for C3V designs. Indeed, as time goes on finding alternative sculps will become more of a necessity to keep certain older cards playable once stock dries out. Knowing that many of your fans may be finding alternative sculps for many C3V figures already, do you think this changes the emphasis on designing characters in the future with the design workflow for a potential figure focused on creating a concept and power design first followed by finding a sculp that matches that concept and powers? To follow up with that thought, do you feel that the original figure submitted with the design is still as important since many fans may just use that figure as a template and utilize another figure that they already own that closely matches that design?

Maybe one day? I don’t know. I have always said that a completed design is one that unifies (1) the theme with (2) the mechanics with (3) the mini. A well-executed design is a work of art. Would it be the same without the mini? I don’t know. I don’t care to try to build a two-legged stool.

The point of the Alternate Sculpts thread is to make the designs available. It’s not to change them, or to change our mission. I want you to have our designs in your hands. If the choice is between (1) you having the Knights of Blackgaard because you’re using the Knights of Weston as an alternate, and (2) you not having the Knights of Blackgaard, I will choose (1) every time. Even if the design was conceived with different sculpts as the third corner of the iron triangle. Far, far better to have something than to have nothing.

We always want to serve the people who have the opportunity to get on the units when we announce them. Please get the units when we announce them. Our pipeline is picking up speed, and people soon (I hope) won’t have to wait as long from purchase to release.

I don’t imagine we’ll be changing the design paradigm any time soon.

Very interesting question.

VC’s always, to me, had a tendency towards the elitist, the insular and the cliquey. Is anything being done to address this?

We are aware that we are a private workshop, and that we have a responsibility for community engagement. So we—and I, personally—take steps to do that.

Of course, ultimately, this question is about you. Your perception. Am I doing something to address your perception? Yes, I am. I am answering your questions. Also, I am running the Alternate Sculpts thread, to engage with the community and promote our hobby that way. Also, we have public playtesting, which is open to all. And we have the C3V/SoV Question Dump, and other threads, that interact directly with the community.

Most of us are very active in the community. We may not be precisely where you want us to be, but we are around, and there are ways to plug in, if you’re interested. If you don’t want to playtest, and you don’t want to engage with us in the public spaces where we chat about things, that’s ok! I love the idea that there are people consuming our work because they think it’s interesting, and they aren’t giving back to us directly. In a way I feel like that’s an achievement. Real customers! Like real businesses have! Achievement unlocked.

Also, I love dissent, debate, and conflict. They are all part of getting things done.I don’t accept that we’re “cliquey,” which is something I associate with a sort of us-against-the-world mentality. Not with scrapping and pushing the boulders forward inch by inch.

But I do accept that we can appear that way, because we are (in a way) secretive. So we look that way. We’re a small group, with a secret workshop. Sometimes people come in; sometimes people go out. Not very often. I won’t apologize for that aspect. Our closed doors are an essential part of what we do.

What were the circumstances leading up to qt.bangerang’s resignation and his accusations towards capsocrates? Can we see for ourselves the degree to which they were valid? Was qt.bangerang banned to protect VC’s interests?

First of all, the answer to your “Can I see” question is “no.” I don’t care to be put on trial, and I won’t submit to one based on qt. bangerang’s accusations. Not that I understood them at the time, or even now am I familiar with the particulars. I just won’t submit to being put on trial any time I don’t have to. Do you mistake this for a courtroom? Or a public forum, where we all have freedom of speech? No. We are guests here, without any such rights.

Second of all, you’re asking the wrong person. I didn’t know until Scy’s post a few weeks ago what qt. bangerang was even talking about. Qt. seemed quite confident that I did know what he was talking about, back when he first leveled his accusations involving Cap. Sent me confusing PMs, too, as I recall, encouraging me to take some kind of action. That was all a long time ago. He seemed to think that something was obvious that was not at all obvious to me. I liked him, as a designer, and I was quite surprised when he suddenly quit the C3V/SoV rotation he was on.

I was, however, peeved—at the time—that he edited into destruction the OP of a thread he and others had been working on. We reconstructed it, but he wrecked something he’d been working on as he stomped out the door. Ok, fine; tempers can get hot. I let it go. Still no idea what the nature of his beef with Cap was; you can read about it in Scy’s post in Q’s interview thread. That is all old news, though it’s old news I didn’t know until just recently.

As for why qt. was banned, though, I can speak to that. You may recall he returned briefly to exchange a few posts. I believe it was in the SoV thread. I engaged with him & was happy to see him return. As I said, I always thought he was a strong designer, despite his struggle to fit in with us and his fiery departure. So I tried to engage with him again. The posts are there, and consistent (I believe; it’s been awhile) with this description. They should speak for themselves.

(Side note: At this point in the story, it’s probably worth pointing out that C3V alum tend to keep their C3V access. It’s because we’re happy to have them stop by, and really, why would we want to shut them out? They’re our people.)

So, anyway, qt. wrapped up his last visit to ’Scapers by copying and pasting our works in progress outside the Sanctum. Stuff we’d been working on for a long time, and designs that were not ready for release. Entire working threads. Some things we’d been working on for a long time, and almost exclusively things he’d never touched.

So, I contacted an admin, explained what happened, and the admin banned him. In a snap. There was no trial. There was no review of his rights to an attorney or to freedom of speech. He took advantage of his access to our art server and our private space to try to embarrass us. A totally unnecessary and vicious slap to the face.

So, bye. No rights here, in this private space. I hope he’s having fun with whatever hobbies he’s enjoying now, whether they are Heroscape or something else, but I have no sympathy for the speed with which he greased the wheels of his own departure.

Postscript: As for the truth of his grievance against Cap, qt. seemed to be saying that Cap stole design ideas. Which seems nuts, to me. But I never even knew the particulars of the accusation, like I said, until Scy posted about it in Quozl’s interview thread. Qt. never bothered explaining any details to me, at the time. Still seems nuts to me. Cap is a pretty stubborn dude, and deeply attached to his own ideas. Why would he take someone else’s?

Is VC’s current almost exclusive grip on the Classic Customs community, and the tendency for most of the Classic Customs forum to be devoted almost exclusively towards aiming for a SoV induction, intentional or undesired? Is there anything being done to address this?

I love ideas that come from outside. I love that there are designers who don’t work toward getting units into the SoV. Long may they show up with their unexpected brains on legs!

But individual designing was never my thing. This is my thing. I enjoy working with others, in a workshop setting, to develop units that new players (and tournament directors, and so on) will know, from the appearance of our brand on them, have been developed and tested up to a certain standard. Is our standard good enough for everybody? I suppose not. That’s ok. It’s the standard that’s the thing: let our banner mean something.

Are fewer people posting the non-VC customs subforum? I suppose probably so. That’s a shame. We are smaller than we were inside the C3V, too. Ultimately I don’t feel a responsibility to keep people touring other parts of the Heroscapers forum, though. What I give takes everything I can offer. I have a job (two jobs, even) and a family. I don’t know what recruiting for attention for others would even look like, if that’s what you’re asking for.

Also, I’ve often said that I’d happily look at individual designer’s threads, if those designers are interested in my thoughts. The only person who I remember taking me up on that in the last year or so was H101, and I think he’s gone now. As difficult as he was sometimes, he was not shy about asking for my input, and I gave it willingly. Is that what I’m not doing? Not looking at somebody’s thread? Just ask; I’ll come by.

Finally, as for “things being done to address this,” there are other customs projects going on around the site, other than just ours. The AotP people are still active, right? If you’re asking for ways to get involved with us, I recommend playtesting as the easiest way. It would give you a window into our designs, too, and feedback from playtesters is always welcome.

Or not, as I said. Up to you.

You (note that any use of ’you’ is directed towards VC as a whole) don’t seem to be interested in outside criticism or engagement. It almost feels as though the main purpose of the customs community is to provide cards for you to judge and to test C3V units for you, and any further engagement, in either direction, is discouraged. Unless someone is in the ’in’ crowd, you otherwise seem to not care about their opinions. New ideas or perspectives are discouraged and rejected, both in design and in structure.

This set of questions is worded, question after question, as if the problem is that something we’re doing “seems” a certain way to the person asking. Ultimately, I can only be so much responsible for how something “seems” to another person. I know what I do; I know what my colleagues in the C3V do. I regret that it “seems” that we are not interested in feedback, but I also know that I solicit it everywhere I can, and that we are often trying to be engaged with the community in different ways. I wonder whether something “seems” the same way to every person, or if it’s a smaller set of people than that. But I will answer, as best I can.

The C3V/SoV Question Dump has been a Q&A for whoever; the Books threads are available for feedback on particular units; heck, I just started an Alternate Sculpts thread where people can chat about sculpts. I, and we, are out there and available for communication. But know that all of our people do something. Your attitude about Playtesting—that the testers are somehow our servants or something, and are getting nothing from the experience—makes me think that there may be a misunderstanding about what we do inside the C3V.

As I said above, there is nobody in the C3V whose sole job it is to run a design from start to finish. Nobody does that alone, and everybody does more than just sit on Lead Teams and design. Everybody has other responsibilities, of the type that I think the question hints you may think are beneath you: fiddling with editing; beating PDFs into shape; playtesting. We all do heavy lifting. And nobody directs designs alone. Is that what you think you’re missing? Because the good news and the bad news is that you aren’t missing anything, if that’s your goal.

SoV nominees often seem to be judged on the basis of personal prejudice (I remember one design from years ago being voted down by a judge who stated that it was, at least partially, because it ’didn’t fit his playstyle’) rather than accepted for the sake of the people who are interested in them. VC offers zero capability for engagement beyond submitting units to an inefficient system that has very specific requirements, takes an age to do anything, will probably only approve anything specifically crafted for it, gives conflicting messages and demands to any design that wants to go through it, and might not like what you’ve done anyway—one that asks that no workshopping be done in the thread yet still requires that something be ’perfect’.

SoV judges also tend to have a tendency to treat their opinions as gospel—to respond to people’s designs with how it ’should’ be done, rather than just advise. There’s an undercurrent of arrogance that seems to permeate the whole system.

I’m pretty sure that Scy took this one, elsewhere.

Over the course of a design’s time in the C3V, approximately how many people have input in the mechanics and theme of the design? Do some people have more of a say than others?

Everybody can. The Lead Team working with that design will do its part to guide it through the process, so that its essence is not reshaped at every stop along the way. Outside the Lead Team, we pay particular attention to feedback from the ERB and (especially) to Playtesting. Feedback from Playtesters can really shape a design, I think. Others in the C3V might answer this question differently.

I have a design that I think is pretty good, and uses a really sweet miniature, but I’m not sure I have the time to polish it up and get it ready for SoV. How can I tell the C3V about my design and the miniature I’m using?

Great question! Please share with us.

We have a “Suggestions for the C3V Design Team” thread. You can also PM ideas to any of us, I guess, though I think best would be posting in the Suggestions thread and tagging whoever you want to get eyes on it.

How can I get involved with VC?

Wherever our designs touch the public forum, there is space to get involved. Tell us what your experiences are with our units in the books. Playtest with us. Share ideas for alternate sculpts. Give serious thought to what you see in the pre-SoV thread. Anywhere you see us posting, be there with us.
Total Comments 12


superfrog's Avatar
Excellent answers, D_S. I might have answered a few of them slightly differently, but you did each of them justice.

Thanks to quozl and D_S for working on this.
Posted November 30th, 2019 at 06:56 PM by superfrog superfrog is offline
Ericth74's Avatar
Really great interview, thanks for sharing.
Posted November 30th, 2019 at 07:14 PM by Ericth74 Ericth74 is offline
Dad_Scaper's Avatar
Thanks for the interesting questions, all.

Many, many thanks to all of our volunteer playtesters over the years.

If I had only one message for people reading these words, it would be just this: Please oh please oh please, buy our minis when we announce them. We want you to have them!
Posted November 30th, 2019 at 07:22 PM by Dad_Scaper Dad_Scaper is offline
IAmBatman's Avatar
Fwiw, I'd answer many of these the same!
One historical point of clarification: C3V was started by Griffin, GreyOwl, and I, and during the process of starting it, we specifically sought the input and blessing of GrungeBob as a (successful) attempt to add credibility to the project.
Posted November 30th, 2019 at 11:37 PM by IAmBatman IAmBatman is online now
Astroking112's Avatar
This was a great read, and I hope that it shines some more light on everything behind the scenes. Many thanks to quozl and Dad_Scaper for this interview!
Posted December 1st, 2019 at 01:33 AM by Astroking112 Astroking112 is offline
flameslayer93's Avatar
That’s a lot to read but I look forward to reading through it! Great work on this codex and DS.

Edit: And completed! Good read.
Posted December 1st, 2019 at 01:42 PM by flameslayer93 flameslayer93 is offline
Updated December 1st, 2019 at 02:55 PM by flameslayer93
Dad_Scaper's Avatar
Thank you for the correction, Bats.

Some of these questions were an interesting walk down memory lane through things that you remember as well, I'm sure.
Posted December 2nd, 2019 at 09:45 PM by Dad_Scaper Dad_Scaper is offline
IAmBatman's Avatar
Oh for sure! The SoV/C3V merger was a particularly fierce battle, as I recall, though I'm glad we put in the effort to do it for the enduring health of the hobby.
Posted December 3rd, 2019 at 11:47 AM by IAmBatman IAmBatman is online now
Dad_Scaper's Avatar
I was wondering, when I wrote these answers, whether you would agree with my assessment of (1) the discussions about the role of the ERB, and (2) how it ultimately shook out. I was just an observer at the time, but that's how I remember it.
Posted December 3rd, 2019 at 12:58 PM by Dad_Scaper Dad_Scaper is offline
IAmBatman's Avatar
Well you've served as an ERBer longer than I ever did at this point, so while I was probably technically the "first" ERBer, I'd say you have more than the right to define it however you like!
That said, your description of the role aligns with our original intentions for it as far as I can see.
We actually had a similar position in C3G for a bit - whereby we asked a select council of few to come chime in with aesthetic/project fit thoughts on our designs (I recall Aldin being on our ERB, but not who else).
Eventually, though, probably 100 or 200 designs in, I think something snapped in us and we said "screw it, we're our own thing, let's just be our own thing" and we thanked our ERB and disbanded them.
Certainly not the path y'all chose, though, nor that you should have! C3V has done an awesome job being a continuation of the official game, IMO.
Posted December 4th, 2019 at 08:52 AM by IAmBatman IAmBatman is online now
Dad_Scaper's Avatar
Thanks, Bats. Kind words from old-timers such as yourself are valuable and cherished feedback.
Posted December 4th, 2019 at 10:49 AM by Dad_Scaper Dad_Scaper is offline
Porkins's Avatar
I just discovered this. Thanks D_S and everyone involved. Definitely some tough questions were asked. I admire what you guys have been able to accomplish. The glimpse behind the curtain, at both dirty and clean laundry, is refreshing and interesting.
Posted April 23rd, 2020 at 02:44 PM by Porkins Porkins is offline
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