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Tales of a Tech Admin

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Why I Left the C3V

Posted February 26th, 2016 at 12:15 AM by Xotli
Why I Left the C3V

It is with great sadness and a touch of bitterness that I stepped down from my position in the C3V earlier today. I joined the C3V on its Editing team a little over 5 years agoóless than a month after its inception. I wasnít the first Editor chosen (that honor belongs to Agent Minivann), but I think I could make an argument for being the second; certainly Iím the only current Editor who has been on that team since the beginning.

For much of that time Iíve been very pleased with what we were able to accomplish, and Iím still happy with some aspects of the project, and several of its members. But the parts that I enjoy have been steadily decreasing throughout the years, and lately Iíve come to dread having to post on C3V issues, and thatís not how one should feel about anything that has to do with oneís favorite game. I still want to think of Heroscape as a fun hobby that I share with my children and friends. So I feel like I have to get out now, before it gets worse.

Iím not the first C3V member to step down. I suspectóthough I must stress that I do not know for sureóthat some (perhaps many) of the others to do so have similar reasons to my own. For various and sundry reasons, no one has shared those reasons publicly. I, however, have decided to do so. If you donít want to know what goes on behind the curtain, feel free to stop reading now and go on about your business, enjoying the C3V units as you always have. But, for reasons that will become clear as I continue, I felt that the folks who stand to receive the bulk of the benefit provided by the C3Vóyou, the fansódeserve to know some of the pros and cons of how things get done. It will not be a short story, and it will not be unbiased, despite my honest efforts to make it so: oneís bias colors everything one knows and says, whether we like it or not. But I hope you will find it enlightening nonetheless.

First, we must start with ...

A Little History

Without going into too much detail, the C3V was originally organized by IAmBatman and Griffin, working in concert with Grungebob. Some decisions were made during the early stages that would impact the operation of the C3V in some fundamental ways:
  • First and most importantly, the structure of the C3V: itís divided into departments. Every C3V member belongs to one of these departments: Design, Art, Editing, and so forth. Overseeing all the other departments is the ERB: the Executive Review Board.
  • New C3V members are elected by a majority of the existing members whenever there is an open position, which essentially only happens when someone steps down (or is voted out, although thatís very rare).
  • Unlike the C3G, which was in some ways a model for the new group, it was decided that the C3V would conduct its business in secret, in a private forum so the public would see only the finished product. People donít like to see the sausage being made, I suppose.
  • But Grungebob wanted to insure that the fans always had a window into the process. This was the seed planted that would eventually sprout the Public Access Member program (or PAM, as we always liked to call it).
There are a lot of other pieces to the complex machine that is the C3V, but this is enough to illustrate the problems Iím going to discuss. In truth, most of the other parts worked out pretty well, which is precisely why I wonít bore you with explaining them. I freely admit Iím cherry-picking the dubious aspects, so take with as much salt as you need.

Now, if youíve ever had any experience with small, volunteer groups that are mostly self-organizedóhomeownersí associations, church social committees, high school clubs like the chess club or AV club, neighborhood groups like book clubs or knitting circles, small town Red Cross chapters or volunteer fire departments, scouting troops, that sort of thingóyouíll already know what Iím about to tell you. These groups tend to be dominated by those people who want to be in charge. Everyone cares about the project, and everyone wants to accomplish the goalsóhaving a successful bake sale, or writing the neighborhood rules, or organizing a successful summer camp, or whateveróbut most of the members have a limited amount of time to devote, and most of them really donít want to be in charge of anything ... itís too much responsibility and stress, and theyíve got other things to worry about. There are two quotes that Iím always reminded of at this juncture.

The first is from Douglas Adams:
Originally Posted by The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
The major problemóone of the major problems, for there are severalóone of the many major problems with governing people is that of who you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.

To summarize: it is a well-known and much lamented fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.
The second youíve never heard before, but youíll recognize the spirit of it. I had a business partner once who I told that I wanted to run our company without any internal politics. He replied that any time you put three or more people together, you have politics. And he was right, although I didnít care to admit it at the time.

At this stage in my life, Iíve been involved in school groups and in church groups, Iíve belonged to clubs and associations, Iíve been in management positions and been the employee representative for work groups, Iíve been on a sports team, an academic team, the yearbook staff of my high school, Iíve organized things for my children at public schools, private schools, and for homeschool groups, Iíve served on the board of directors of an organization for professionals and Iíve run my own company with a couple dozen employees. Iíve been very deeply involved in at least two online communities (including this one) and more lightly involved in several others, and Iíve belonged to at least 3 different gaming groups, at various levels of being in charge of activities, including being a DM for several different roleplaying campaigns and helping to organize my share of Heroscape tournaments. And the one thing all those groups had in common was politics. And, in pretty much all those cases, they were run by those people who got a kick out of telling other people what to do. Hell, even in my own company, which I founded, funded, and never owned less than a majority of, I usually ceded control to other people who wanted to be in charge more than I did. Not that thatís saying much, because I never wanted to be in charge of much of anything. All the best leaders are reluctant leaders, I think. But they are not the most common leaders.

Now, most of the groups that you will be familiar with, along the same lines as the ones I outline above, have a few structural similarities that limit the amount of damage any one person can do. Letís take the example of a homeownerís association, or a board of directors, or a local governmental committee (such as a planning commission). Nearly all these bodies are composed of individuals who are elected to the position, and nearly all of them hold meetings which are open to the public. If I have to appear before my local planning commission, and I feel like something underhanded is going on in the meeting, if all else fails I can at least decide that Iím going to run for the next open seat on that commission and try to get in there and make a difference personally.

But the C3V is built in a way that makes that sort of thing problematic. First of all, nothing is open to the public, so the public canít see if there are things going on that they might not approve of. And secondly, not only are there no term limits for C3V members, there are no terms. That means that the ďnext open seatĒ might literally never come.

But itís actually worse than that. Letís say that I was unhappy with the way the ERB conducted things. Now, Iíve personally been known to claim that the ERB has way too much influence over many aspects of the C3Vís operation, but, to be fair, most of the folks in the ERB have disagreed with that statement. But set that aside for a moment: say I was unhappy with the situation and decided I wanted to change it by trying to convince my fellow C3V members (who are, you may recall, the only people who get to vote) to elect me to the ERB. First I have to wait for someone currently in the ERB to step down, which, as I noted above, might never happen. But letís say it does: the first thing is, the number of members of any given department is not set by the rules, so the ERB might decide they just wonít replace the outgoing member at all. (In fact, thatís not a hypothetical: itís already happened once.) Even if they do, thereís no set procedure for how the member will be replaced, so what typically happens is the current ERB members get together, in private (meaning, in private from the already-private forum), decide who they want, and announce the candidate. Then we all get to vote, and theoretically some group of us might vote ďno,Ē but thatís kind of rudeóitís not Candidate Joeís fault that I personally thought I could do a better jobóeven amongst those who were aware that I was considering myself for the job, which is probably not enough of the group to make a difference anyway. And Iím not trying to single out the ERB here: this is the way all the departments do it (including mine) ... via what in American politics is commonly referred to as ďback-room deals,Ē with the current members trying to come up with a name that theyíre pretty sure the rest of the group wonít object to but wonít rock the boat too much (meaning they basically agree with however the remaining department members want to do things), and maybe some of the other departments will send a few PMs saying ďhey, who are you considering?Ē and ďI think you should get this person!Ē and various other attempts to lobby for their favorite candidate, but in the end the department members just end up choosing someone they like and itís very unlikely that there will be any pushback on it. And in fact, in the entire history of the C3V, not a single candidate has failed to get elected once their name was put forth.

Now there are two very important things to consider about this situation. The first is that I donít want you to take it literally: I actually have never tried to get onto the ERB, primarily because of my aforementinoed dislike of being in charge of things. But the important takeaway is that I couldnít even if I wanted to, and I feel fairly confident in saying that because at least two people that I know of have suggested me for an ERB position at various times and yet I was never even asked if I was interested in serving.

But the more important thing here is that this sort of a process by its very nature produces conformity. It stamps out diversity of opinions with a viciousness that dictators are jealous of. Itís completely democratic, and yet itís perfect at censoring all disagreement. And the thing about eliminating disagreements in a creative project is that you lose so much that is vital to the projectís success. C3V has always been a fairly big tent: not big enough to hold the superheroes, of course, but aside from that, pretty big. Lots of diverse playstyles and viewpoints were listened to, and respected, and honored. We never produced only units that were competitive on small maps in tourney situations. We produced units that interacted with glyphs, and units that were good in large point-total armies, and units that were terrain-specific, and units that werenít competitive but just plain fun. We produced units that broke the ďrulesĒ because all of us had different concepts of what the ďrulesĒ were. Should it be a rule that no unit should ever be more expensive than Jotun? Hello, Bramcephys. Should it be a rule that a unit should never be allowed to make a normal attack and a special attack in the same turn? Not if Mok has anything to say about it. Certainly no unit should ever have 4 powers, except for Sonya, and she doesnít really count because one of hers is a negative power. And, yet: the Deathwings. On all these units and many many more there were angry voices raised in the halls of the C3V by folks who felt these principles were inviolate. But other voicesódiverse voicesóspoke up in favor, and there was lively debate, and in the end enough were swayed that the units survived. And of course there were times when the units didnít survive, and times when they did but they probably shouldnít have (almost everyone still in the C3V agrees that the ďblended turnĒ mechanic of Omegacron was a bridge too far, despite the fact that heís awesome fun to play), but the point is, the diversity of the voices is what made all those units possible. If all the opinions start to conform, we lose out on the opportunity for rule-breakers, and our big tent turns into a small teepee. And I personally believe the project as a whole suffers for it.

Of course, thereís one thing that conformity is really awesome at. Which bring us to ...

The Need for Speed

In every project that you need to accomplish in life, be it a work project, a school project, a home gardening project, or anything else, you will face a fundamental dichotomy: do it fast, or get it right. Some people have a natural instinct for getting things right. Others have a natural instinct for doing things fast. Neither of those is right ... or to be more precise, both are right, and both are wrong. You need a balance. If you do it fast and care nothing for getting it right, you will produce sloppy work that will not stand the test of time. If you get it right and completely ignore the issue of speed, you will spend forever trying to achieve perfection and never produce anything at all. In a good project, there will be people who crack the whip ceaselessly and demand you get to the finish line. And there will also be people who fight tooth and nail to get it right, and slow down the process to achieve quality. Ideally thereís a perfect balance between the two groups. But if that balance shifts, the project suffers.

I happen to be a ďget it rightĒ person. I consider it my job (whether at work, in family matters, or in the C3V) to say, ďwhoa, letís slow down and actually think about this before we go off half-cocked.Ē I know that I slow things down. I consider it a desireable quality. On the other hand, I also know that I should never be in charge of things, because then nothing will ever get finished. I need someone who wants things to go faster faster faster, to balance me out.

Unfortunately, I feel like those people in the C3V who were helping to balance me out are now too much in power. Iím not the first ďget it rightĒ person to leave the projectójust the latest one. And there are a few left, to be sure, but even some of those are grumbling that the constant battles are not worth the effort. The ďdo it fastĒ people have taken over. And I believe this has been a deliberate effort on their part. Iím sure that some of them even felt like this was doing the right thing for the project: after all, we have been criticized (and have criticized ourselves) for taking years to produce some figures. And ďget it rightĒ folks such as myself will argue that those C3V units that took the longest to produce are our best work, while those that flew through the process are weaker, but no one (not even me) can really argue with the fact that asking C3V fans to wait a year or more between the time a figure is announced and the time the card is released is a terrible process. Itís just that, given various factors, itís the best weíve been able to come up with. (Itís reminiscent of that infamous Churchill quote that democracy is the worst form of goverment, except for all the others that have been tried.) If there were a way to reduce that amount of time without significantly impacting quality, I would be all about it. But I donít believe there is.

And the problem with the ďdo it fastĒ approach, when not appropriately balanced, is that it lives (and dies) by the old aphorism ďthe perfect is the enemy of the good enough.Ē Which is certainly true. Unfortunately, itís also true that the good enough is the enemy of doing things that you can be proud of, producing things that will last ... the ďgood enoughĒ is the enemy of the high quality that I believe C3V fans have come to expect, and to respect. Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe the fanbase out there would be perfectly happy with crappier units that they got hold of faster. In fact, Iím sure at least some folks would beóitís not like the C3V leadership is composed of the only ďdo it fastĒ folks in existence, after all. But thatís not the output that I personally want the C3V to be associated with.

And perhaps the most frustrating thing to me about this whole situation is that all these effortsódeliberately reshaping the group membership, instituting policies that restrict the ability of the group to comment on problems, gradual exclusion of all public participation in the project that involves having an actual vote in the processónone of them have actually worked. I mean, itís like the old joke about whatever horrible dictator youíre discussing: ďbut at least he made the trains run on time.Ē If all these things which Iím presenting as so terrible at least resulted in the process actually speeding up significantly, that would be a powerful rebuttal to my concerns. But, in truth, nothing has gotten faster. (In fact, I could make a decent argument that some things have gotten slower. But I donít want to get sidetracked.) I canít see any evidence that units are going through the system any faster than they were before, and I donít believe anyone else can provide such evidence either.

Of course, maybe itís all been me the whole time. Perhaps I am the one holding everything up, and, now that Iím gone, things will start moving lightning fast. Maybe.

But donít hold your breath.

And then there are the ...

Smoke-Filled Back Rooms

You know, the clichť of smoke-filled back rooms is a clichť for a reason. Democracy is messy, and it can be excruciatingly painful to get a decent-sized group of people to agree on something. People who want to get things done (especially those ďdo it fastĒ folks I talked about before, and please remember that I am saying that those folks are absolutely vital to accomplishing anything) can be forgiven for organizing smaller, more nimble groups to actually accomplish things, then present those results to the group at large as a fait accompli. Ideally this is done with the full knowledge of the larger group, such as a committee formed by a board of directors, or by a parliamentary body. But sometimes it happens behind the scenes, and, in the non-virtual world, Iím sure it often does happen in back rooms, many of which may very well be filled with smoke.

For example, I said above that there have been deliberate attempts to change the composition of the group. How I can make a statement like that with such confidence? Well, simple: there are three reasons.
  • I know of several people who left the group who reported being encouraged to do so by the ďdo it fastĒ faction: some subtly, some overtly, but all directly.
  • I know of at least one person who was rebuffed by the ďdo it fastĒ faction in their attempt to join the group, in a department where we desperately needed people. You would think that we wouldnít turn away volunteers in that situation, but not only did this faction do so, they did so without informing the rest of the group.
  • But most importantly, I know these sort of ďback room dealsĒ are going on because, once upon a time, I used to participate in them.
Back at the beginning of my tenure, I was part of the ďinĒ group, and I happily took part in trying to get things accomplished, in the name of expediency, and always with the goal of making the group better. I recognized the exact things I said in the first paragraph of this section: a smaller group can be more nimble, can get things done faster, can make tough decisions with less in-fighting and no endless debate. But, as time went on, I became more and more uncomfortable with this methodology. I felt a little dirty. It would probably make me look quite virtuous if I could tell you that I quit such back room dealings, but the truth is I didnít. I thought I could accomplish more by working inside the system, although eventually I became such an obstacle that the rest of the back-room folks just stopped including me. And for a while I even tried to start a counter-group which would also work behind the scenes, but my heart was never in it, and I lacked the motivation to make it work. So some people will undoubtedly say that I was part of the problem, and I wonít deny it, or try to offer excuses. Iím just being honest here.

There are other examples of secrecy being used in ways I disagreed with. For instance, we originally had a period for every unit called ďInner Sanctum Review,Ē or ISR. Once the intial design was fleshed out, before it went on to the other stages in the process, the unit would be reviewed by every C3V member (and, later, the SoV Judges as well). This was always a long andóas you can imagineócontentious part of the process, as suddenly everyone had the right to voice their opinion, so they generally did. But the ISR is no more. Ostensibly, it was removed in the name of speed. But what it really did was remove the opportunity that many C3V members had to dissent and criticize.

Of course, people could still see what was going on, even if they technically werenít allowed to comment (until things got to their department, of course). That wasnít secret enough, apparently, and so it was decided that every group of units would get its own forum, which would be hidden even from the other C3V members, so business related to that unit could be conducted truly in secret. At the time, I threw out my favorite quote from Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis:

Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.
Conducting business in secret is just antithetical to the proper functioning of a group such as the C3V. We need more transparency, not less. (I must insert here that, very recently, this particular policy was reversed. Although I think those privater-than-private fora still exist. But I might be wrong.)

Of course, you may wonder how such policies get instituted. Donít we have to vote them in? Well, first of all, itís not actually that hard to push through the policies that you want, if you know what youíre doing. Here: Iíll give you a blueprint for pushing through a potentially unpopular policy with a minimum of resistance. First you need to use PMs and private email to gather a core group of followers. Cautiously feel out potential allies, but make sure not to reveal too much, because you want the announcement to be a complete surprise to everyone except those who you already know to be on your side. Talk over the proposed policy with your back-room coterie for several days, if not weeks: by the time you announce it, it should be completely sensible and even obvious to the folks in the know. Also, use this time to practice your arguments in support of the policy. Then start a thread for discussion where you announce the policy. Actually, have one of your back-room group do itóif at all possible, the one member of the group who is the most unlikely ally. Then each of you join in quickly with cries of admiration and approbation. If anyone speaks up in objection, the group should promptly gang up on that person, making them seem silly, or anti-progress, or immature, or melodramatic, or just incalcitrant. This wonít be hard: remember, your objector is speaking off the cuff, having been taken completely by surprise by this policy, while you and your group have cogent, well-reasoned (and well-rehearsed) counter-arguments ready on the spot. When it comes time to vote, your back-room group will all vote ďyes,Ē the few objectors will vote ďno,Ē a few other members of the group will be swayed by your superior arguments, and the remainder just wonít want to rock the boat: theyíll either vote ďyesĒ or simply abstain, which is just as good as a ďyesĒ as far as youíre concerned. And voilŗ: your policy passes.

Some people will say Iím unfairly characterizing this process, and I am. But remember: I just took a bunch of true things and made them sound bad. I didnít actually make any of them up.

Of course, a process like this is not foolproof. Every once in a while even this level of preparedness fails you, and you realize during the general discussion that itís never going to pass. Never fear: you still have a chance to get your policy anyway. Just never actually call the vote ... and then start doing the policy anyway.

Case in point: the PAM program. It was a condition of Grungebobís lending his support to the project, back in its infancy, that the C3V have a way to let one member of the public into the group for a limited time to see how things worked. (I have to stress that this is my second-hand understanding of what Gb said; I wasnít there.) Thus was born the concept of the Public Access Member, or PAM. Once upon a time we inducted a new PAM every month. Then it went to every month and a half. In less than two months, it will be a year since we inducted anyone at all. There was a discussion about dropping the PAM program several months ago, but many of the members (including myself) spoke against the proposal, so it was eventually dropped. And yet, no more PAMs since then. So itís tough to claim that the proposal was defeated.

Honestly, Iím not entirely clear why some C3V members were against the PAM program. Possibly itís the speed thing again: the process of bringing in a complete outsider and getting them up to speed certainly takes up time. Or maybe itís just more secrecy: the more PAMs we let in, the more of our fans know (or can figure out, if theyíre inclined to read through a bunch of long-ass threads) exactly whatís going on behind the scenes. But, see, I personally think our fans should know that ... and presumably Grungebob did as well, which is why he suggested the program in the first place (although of course I canít speak for him). I find the quiet discontinuation of the PAM program, without even any official policy being passed, fairly disconcerting.

All of which leads me to:

A Difficult Decision

Iíve resisted this decision for a long time. A lot of that is because Iím a stubborn bastard, and I know that, if I quit, Iím giving the folks who want me gone exactly what they want, which annoys me. But a bigger part of it is that I feel like I see the group going in directions that disturb me. I perceive a loss of quality, a refusal to compromise, and a narrowing of vision that could well lead to the quashing of the diversity of voices that has thus far made the C3V great. All that combined with the steady lessening of my enjoyment of the work means that I just canít continue any longer.

I had always hoped that my feeling that a loss of quality was inevitable as the scales tipped from balanced over to favor the ďdo it fastĒ side was just an overreaction on my part. As a self-avowed ďget it rightĒ person, of course I would think that, but that doesnít mean itís true. However, while working on my VC-inclusive partial scoring sheet, I had to pull all the info on the last few C3V waves from the Books of threads and the official card uploads in the Gallery. By the time I got to the final wave, the number of silly errors (e.g. typos, missing planets on the basic sides, entire basic side missing, etc) was just depressing. We used to take our time and any oversights like those would get caught. Now things get rushed through and no one notices. Perhaps no one cares, other than me. But I find it depressing anyway.

I also find it depressing that fewer and fewer C3V members seem to care about anything other than tournament play. Tournament play is an important aspect of unit design, of course. But itís not the only one. And tourney play is a very constrained slice of Heroscape: itís small to medium point values (hardly ever more than 600 pts), on small (e.g. BoV) maps, and itís nearly always kill íem all. But thatís not the entirety of how people play Heroscape. In fact, the amazing diversity of gameplay is one of the main things Iíve always loved about this game. I can build a giant, multi-level map, and we can play 3-way battles with 1,000-pt armies. I can play with glyphs, or without them, or with only certain ones. I can play kill íem all, or hold the line, or capture the flag, or kill the king. I can play a treasure hunt game where you have collect things, or a world tour game where you have to visit certain spots on the map. I can play a small defensive force hunkered down behind my castle walls while my opponent brings an overwhelming force to storm the castle. I can set up dungeon-crawl campaigns, or zombie horde survival campaigns, or heroesí quests where you can ďlevel upĒ by trading one hero for another of higher point value if you achieve certain goals. My army can be anything, my map can be anything, and my goals can be anything: that is the beauty of Heroscape. Why would I want that to go away and end up with a group that only seems to care about tourneys? And yet I keep end up having discussions about powers where I point out that such and such a unit may be too powerful against the fortress door, and the response is, I never see the fortress door in tournaments, so who cares?

Again, Iím not saying that every C3V member has this attitude. Just that those who donít are in an ever-shrinking minority, and I personally feel that itís happening on purpose.

I feel like Iíve tried everything I can think of to work through these issues. No doubt others think I didnít do enough, and thatís fine. Thatís their right. But Iím just tired of dealing with it all. And, thus, here we are.

Now for some:

Prescient Rebuttals

Now, after this exhaustive (and terribly long) discussion of my tenure with the C3V, Iím done with this topic. Iím perfectly happy to let my detractors (and I think Iím safe in assuming Iíll have a few of those) say what they like without feeling the need to jump back in and have protracted debates on the finer points of what-have-you. So Iím giving everyone the chance to say that Iím full of bovine fertilizer material and not even have to justify their statements with actual facts.

However, I do anticipate a few natural responses, both from those who donít care for me much, and those who may just be curious about this convoluted situation. And I can go ahead and address those right off the top, before they even appear.

First of all, some will say Iím just bitter. Well, of course Iím bitter: I said that right at the very beginning. This project has been over 5 years of my life, and itís produced some amazing units (and a few duds here and there, but far more winners than losers). Most of the people involved have done amazing work. The thought that a few individuals can come in and reshape the group to suit their own vision, say ďscrew everyone else,Ē and start to go down a path that in my opinion will lead to an inevitable decline of the project ... hell, yeah, that makes me bitter. Am I bitter that I havenít ďgotten my wayĒ on some issue or other? Well, quite honestly, I mostly have gotten my way in the various contentious debates that have popped up throughout the years. And, in those cases where I havenít ... well, so what? I can hardly make an argument that this community project should never be a slave to only one personís vision and then whine about it not being a slave to my vision. So, Iím bitter, but probably not for the reasons that some people will say.

But perhaps folks will wonder if I want to get my way in the future. That is, perhaps Iím hoping that my statement here will lead to a change in leadership over in the C3V and then Iíll want to come back. Well, I honestly do hope my post leads to a change in leadershipóI donít expect that it will, but one can always hope. But, whether it does or not, I wonít be returning. For the past year or more, every time I look at my Heroscape collection, the first thought is one of dread, because it reminds me of all the C3V crap I need to wade through for whatever issues are currently being viciously argued overóand, for the past year or more, thereís always been at least one of those, and usually several at a time. Outside of our local NHSD tourney, I havenít actually played Heroscape in probably close to two years ... not even a casual game with my kids. Not all of that can be laid at the feet of C3V, of course ... my oldest child is a teenager now, and has his own friends to play games with that donít require good olí dad, and my middle child is just getting deep into video games, so when he wants me to play with him itís LittleBigPlanet or PixelJunk Monsters or to help him with Zelda or 3-D Dot Heroes, and my youngest is just approaching her fourth birthday and hasnít quite reached the level of wanting to play games yet. So there are other reasons they donít approach me. But when it comes to reasons I donít approach them, C3V is pretty much all of it. Iím spending all of my allotted Heroscape time arguing about the game instead of enjoying it. And thatís just silly. So, as much as it kills me to leave the project (partially because Iím advertently making some people happy I donít want to, as I already admitted, but mostly because I love the project with all my heart and soul), Iíve got to make smart choices. And this is the smart choice for me.

Perhaps the biggest criticism that I anticipate is that Iím ďairing dirty laundryĒ and I should keep these C3V issues private. This is also the one I regret the most, because I expect itíll come from some folks who might otherwise be more or less on my side. So Iím probably going to alienate some people who I deeply respect, and I really hate that. I apologize to those folks in advance. But Iím doing it anyway. The truth is, I have come to believe that this fiction of how the C3V process needs to be kept private ďfor the fansĒ is utter crap. I believe itís being kept private so that the exact sort of shenanigans that are currently going on can flourish without being disinfected by the sunlight of transparency. Thereís been too much kept hidden from the fansóhell, even from other C3V membersófor too long. I will be bummed that some people will think Iím a terrible person for wanting to talk about what has gone on behind closed doors. But I stand by my decision that the fans of this game deserve to know what is happening.

Finally, a few brief words about my

Future Plans

As I said, Iím done with the C3V. If it gets better, Iíll be pleased. If it doesnít get better, but none of the dire predicitions Iíve made come to pass, Iíll still be pleased. But, no matter what, I donít intend to try to return. (And Iím sure there will be plenty of folks who are pleased to hear it.)

I will most likely continue to play with C3V units, even those released in the future. I wonít consider this at all hypocritical. If you do, Iím sorry that you feel that way.

While I wonít participate in any further VC activities directly, Iím happy to provide any help wording powers for anyone who wants it: anyone who wants to polish up wording for an SoV submission, say, or if any of the other groups such as HoSS or C3G wanted my opinion on a particularly thorny problem, I would be happy to receive a PM. And, if you think my opinion on such things is not worth spit, thatís okay too.

I have no plans to change any of my non-VC-related activities here at Heroscapers whatsoever.

I will not respond to (nor even read) the comments on this blog post. Go crazy, if you like. Feel free to point out what a terrible person I am, how unfair Iím being, or anything else you like, without fear that Iíll call you out. I will not respond to public messages about this post in other threads. I will make judicious use of the excellent ďignore listĒ feature of our esteemed website to avoid having to read as many of those as possible. (And, by the way: I highly recommend the ignore list. Itís probably the best feature on Heroscapers, and I think itís criminally under-utilized.) I will not respond to reputation comments, so feel free to leave me as much negrep as you like. (However, donít forget that, as an admin, I can see who you are from your reputation comment even if you donít ďsignĒ it.) I will probably not even respond to PMs about this post ... but then again, I might. No promises either way on that one. But the main thing is, this is a very long post, and it really is the final word, at least from me. Iíve got nothing else to say on this topic. Iím ready to move on.

Mainly I hope to return to enjoying the game again. I think there are a lot of amazing people on this site, and there are a lot of amazing things about this game which attracted all those amazing people. Iím going to leave the C3V politics to those who seem to enjoy that sort of thing. What I want to enjoy is putting together an insane army of mummies and ogres and cybermonkeys and birdmen and, yes: even a superhero or two, and fielding that insane army against my 10-year-old son who has his own insane army of dragons and elementals and snakes and Mohicans, on an insanely large map where it takes us 3 turns to even be in range of each other, and talking strategy and insane ideas for customs with my 17-year-old son and his friends, who are now coming to our tournaments every year, and picking up my 4-year-old daughter and ďtelling her about my guys,Ē and smiling, and having fun.

And I highly recommend this plan to everyone reading this as well.
Total Comments 18


IAmBatman's Avatar
Good read. Definitely some things here and there I could comment on or provide detail on (e.g. GBob didn't suggest the PAM program, he just said to be inclusive, and that's what we came up with) but I'll stick to this (even though you're not going to read it): I'm glad your focus is where it should be, on having fun with your kids. Life is too short to prioritize anything over that.
Oh, and Omegacron is one of my favorites.
Posted February 26th, 2016 at 12:48 AM by IAmBatman IAmBatman is online now
Evar-Scarcarver's Avatar
My Dad works in a leadership position at a Not-for-profit, and I still remember when he realized he needed to actually specifically try and hire people who disagreed with him, thought differently than him, and tackled issues in a different way then him, if he wanted the organization to grow in a healthy way.
Politics will be there no matter what. Better to have a diverse pool of views giving their perspectives on the issues then to have a deadly echo chamber, in my opinion.

I'm just happy to be on a site where things like this happen and they don't immediately dissolve into flame wars where tens of people end up getting banned. This is definitely one of my favorite communities on the internet I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of.
Posted February 26th, 2016 at 11:34 AM by Evar-Scarcarver Evar-Scarcarver is offline
caps's Avatar
The private design forums were not being used, so yes, they were discontinued.

The PAM program was not discontinued: it was expanded to allow PAMs to stay for the duration of a design's lifetime through the process. We also have greatly opened up our public playtesting as well.

Xotli is an excellent editor, those of you who make customs should definitely take him up on his offer for editing help.
Posted March 2nd, 2016 at 12:56 AM by caps caps is offline
Porkins's Avatar
Interesting read Xotli. As an outsider, I am forced to take it with some salt since it is just one side of the story, but I do see firsthand some of the effects of what you are talking about.

- I see people quietly peeling off the project. There is no announcement or congratulations or anything...the names are simply removed from the list of members. Normally a retirement comes with some sort of thanks or celebration.
- I see that the releases have slowed down (May 2015 was the latest, I think)
- I noticed that the PAM program had essentially ended, since nobody has been invited for a very long time. Capsocrates contradicts this observation above, and yet, nobody has been invited in a very long time...as far as I can tell, April 2015 was the last PAM vote. I note that the Welcome to C3V thread still says something like "every 45 days".

So salt or no, the whole situation provides some very interesting food for thought, and over at HoSS we are paying attention and discussing it...especially Xotli's offer to help out with editing.

EDIT: I also just noticed something that I find strange. According to the list of C3V Inner Sanctum members, two of the ERB members are also the two Design Team members...so they are reviewing and approving their own work?? In industry, that is a pretty huge no - no as it is a conflict of interest.
Posted March 3rd, 2016 at 09:16 AM by Porkins Porkins is offline
NecroBlade's Avatar
Fellow former C3V member here. Thanks for the read. I can't say that I had such a negative view as Xotli, but I probably didn't see or pay attention to as much as he was. He also stuck it out longer than I did, but I will say his reasons for leaving sound familiar. Certain opinions began to overpower others, and whether or not the "do it fast" crowd/mentality is winning or working, the effort "get it right" felt lost in the mire. Rather, there was a lot more time spent debating (often at length and often pointlessly) instead of "make it simple, make it fun, make it Heroscape". It was not an easy decision for me to leave either, but I felt like I was no longer able to continue to contribute to the project meaningfully enough, both through my own fault and the project's. I truly hope Xotli is able to get back to enjoying this great game, and I also hold hope for more great C3V units yet to come. One last thing: thanks for being part of the C3V, Xotli.
Posted March 6th, 2016 at 08:40 AM by NecroBlade NecroBlade is offline
Porkins's Avatar
Hmm...yet another person who retired from C3V without even a "thank you."

Well, thank you Necro!
Posted March 7th, 2016 at 04:19 PM by Porkins Porkins is offline
Sherman Davies's Avatar
@Porkins - What makes you think Necro and Xotli were not thanked for their contributions when they left?
Posted March 9th, 2016 at 10:27 AM by Sherman Davies Sherman Davies is offline
Porkins's Avatar
Hopefully I am wrong, but I never saw an announcement in the public thread or anywhere indicating they had retired and thanks for all of their work, etc. Arch-vile is another...
Posted March 9th, 2016 at 10:45 AM by Porkins Porkins is offline
Sherman Davies's Avatar
We thanked them, but not publicly. Honest question - is that something you think the community is itching to see happen? I'm not even sure most people know or care who makes up the C3V, as long as they like the end product.
Posted March 9th, 2016 at 11:10 AM by Sherman Davies Sherman Davies is offline
Porkins's Avatar
I think it would be a nice gesture. I can't speak for the community.

I have a pretty good idea who makes up C3V and C3G; I follow both groups loosely, so it's nice to know when somebody leaves and to be able to offer my thanks for their participation. I had not realized that Necro left until his post here.
Posted March 9th, 2016 at 04:02 PM by Porkins Porkins is offline
IAmBatman's Avatar
Do you guys announce publicly when someone leaves HOSS? I don't remember you announcing it for me way, way, way back in the day.
Posted March 9th, 2016 at 04:36 PM by IAmBatman IAmBatman is online now
Porkins's Avatar
Heh heh, too long ago. That was pre-HoSS, back when mac and I were learning custom design at the feet of Greyowl and IAmBatman.

Although, at the risk of sounding hypocritical, I will admit that we did not have a "thank you" announcement when heroscaper2010 was retired. But in our defense, that was a weird one. He disappeared from the site for several months, so it didn't make sense to thank someone in absentia. But then he reappeared, sort of, right after we retired him from HoSS. He only makes brief appearances now.
I think we made an announcement when Karat retired from HoSS to focus on C3G...at least I think we did...I can't remember for certain
Posted March 10th, 2016 at 01:54 PM by Porkins Porkins is offline
IAmBatman's Avatar
I'd like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Necroblade for his contributions as a founding member of C3G.

He has since left the project, however ....
Posted March 11th, 2016 at 09:25 AM by IAmBatman IAmBatman is online now
The B.I.V.'s Avatar
Interesting stuff, Xotli. Thanks for your frankness.
Posted June 2nd, 2016 at 12:39 PM by The B.I.V. The B.I.V. is offline
Arkham's Avatar
Great read!
Posted March 8th, 2018 at 06:37 AM by Arkham Arkham is offline
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