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How to make the Card Requests system "better"

by BetaSteward

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How to make the Card Requests system "better"

Postby escplan9 » 04 Apr 2016, 03:38

I propose that we find a way to have one master thread for Card Requests and to have it more easily maintainable and understandable to see what is going on. For instance, we do not currently have any functionality that determines how heavily requested certain cards are, or what are the last few cards needed to complete a given deck - both cases which we would give high priority to implementing. Before I go into a lot of detail, the main question is what suggestions do you have for creating a better Card Request system?

And now the details...

The current situation - we currently have two threads which have gradually lost their meaning for Card Requests. http://www.slightlymagic.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=70&t=14062 for Important Tournament Cards and http://www.slightlymagic.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=70&t=4554 for general Card Requests. At this point more than 99% of commonly played cards in competitive tournaments are implemented. For obvious reasons, those cards are the top-most priority to implement. However, people don't just use XMage for competitive testing - they also like to casually test brews, play some Pauper or EDH for example. At this point both threads are interpretted as the same - we don't put strict rules on what can be requested in each thread, so we look at both threads to see the requested cards and there is no strict priority we follow. We contribute to XMage in our free time and this is completely free, so none of us are paid for our efforts. We simply encourage developers to continue to improve XMage and for more people with some development background to join in and help however they can at their pace. What each person does and when is up to them. (Join us! See the Developer Getting Started guide here https://github.com/magefree/mage/wiki/Developer-Getting-Started and visit our Developer Talk forum http://www.slightlymagic.net/forum/viewforum.php?f=116 for more details)

Our current tool for trying to manage this:
A tool fewer people are familiar with is our Card Implementation Tracking Tool found here: http://ct-magefree.rhcloud.com/ . Every few weeks we go through the card requests threads and import the requested cards so they show up as Requested when selected in the drop down. If you set Implemented to "false" and Requested to "true" there is at least 478 results. There are no notes on how heavily requested certain cards are, what decks they fit into, or any way to group them meaningfully really. And the original developer who created that tool has been absent for some time now, so we cannot improve upon it by creating additional columns or anything of the sort, so we need to devise a new solution. (Thus the purpose of this thread!)

What to do?
What should we do to make a better Card Request system?

I am thinking we start with having a separate sticky thread that will serve as the "master" Card Request thread. No more going between two threads when they both are treated the same. This also would close out those existing threads. After that though, I'm not sure. We can try to create a tool that can only be managed by the developers, similar to what we have now. Or we can do an open Google Sheet with certain cells unlocked. Or... ? What do you think might work?
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Re: How to make the Card Requests system "better"

Postby Doctor Weird » 04 Apr 2016, 17:24

As it is right now, the best I personally think can be done is to have one thread be made and pinned asking for the users to "vote" the cards they want to see integrated, perhaps with a limit as to how many each user can list (to avoid people listing dozens over people who just want to ask for one or two) and then have the thread creator edit the main post regularly with the most requested cards in a proper chart of sorts, allowing others to look at it and possibly go "Oh yes, I do wish that card was integrated, let me post voting for it too to help it get attention."

A few things about this, though:
Have it be a new thread every month or so, with the old one being unpinned and the newer one replacing it. Why? Because, for one, we already see how having a gigantic and "historical" thread(s) for this doesn't help, but also because this way you guys could have a fresh list to look at and work through on a monthly basis, without skimming through old and increasingly messy listings. And as more stuff gets added what before was not requested enough to be top priority will get a chance to be voted for more and more if it's really wanted. Not to mention it gives one more reason for more users to come here, participate and get involved in the whole process while trying to make their voice count on what gets added. Besides, it's a way to future proof it, as that way we don't end up with a very old thread, made by someone who might stop being around after some time, and then no one else can edit it and we'd have to start over anyway. This way if someone drops the torch whoever comes after can just pick it back up for next month with a fresh new thread.

I do think that this is the best we can do for now with what we have, as trying to setup something like a proper polling page for people to vote would most likely just end with some people finding ways to rig the voting through multiple votes. At least with a simple thread it makes it slightly more difficult to do and would be pretty obvious by just looking at the posts, of course. Never trust people on the internet not to abuse something if there's a way to do it. That and because it's already hard to get people to come here to the forums and participate in the first place, if then you try to redirect them to yet another page you're just going to lose even more people on the way.

Additionally, if this was done, having the new /r/XMage moderator (I never post there but I do read it regularly) put a link to said thread on the sidebar of the subreddit would help too. Perhaps even have a sticky post there with this chart, although I'm not sure if letting them vote there too would be a good idea, due to vote duplication and it just giving lazy people one more reason not to join this forum and post just there instead, so maybe keep it just as a reference post linking here for the proper voting.

Also, asking for posts as simple as possible is probably for the best. This whole "relevant card for deck X, Y, and Z" is really of any help? Are you guys going to deeply research every single deck name mentioned to see how relevant or not it is? Probably not. There's countless decks and deck variants out there, some easily recognizable, some not so much, might as well stick to a per-card popularity, regardless of what decks use it, if the card is really that relevant many will theoretically ask for it, mentions of decks just mud the waters.

What I do imagine could be somewhat helpful is to mention similar-working cards already implemented that could make it easier for you guys to go look at for references, instead of starting the card from scratch. But then again, most users would probably not bother with researching for similar cards or wouldn't have the knowledge of what is and isn't "mechanically" similar to the card they want as far as programming it goes.

But that's just a thought, I gave my two cents, you people pick them up and do whatever you want or not with that, I'm just trying to throw my share into the brainstorm.
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Re: How to make the Card Requests system "better"

Postby escplan9 » 05 Apr 2016, 09:28

Doctor Weird wrote:As it is right now, the best I personally think can be done is to have one thread be made and pinned asking for the users to "vote" the cards they want to see integrated, perhaps with a limit as to how many each user can list (to avoid people listing dozens over people who just want to ask for one or two) and then have the thread creator edit the main post regularly with the most requested cards in a proper chart of sorts, allowing others to look at it and possibly go "Oh yes, I do wish that card was integrated, let me post voting for it too to help it get attention."
I like this idea. It's simple and encourages participating on the forums as well. I assume by "vote" you mean the user simply makes a post requesting the cards they want.

A few things about this, though:
Have it be a new thread every month or so, with the old one being unpinned and the newer one replacing it. Why? Because, for one, we already see how having a gigantic and "historical" thread(s) for this doesn't help, but also because this way you guys could have a fresh list to look at and work through on a monthly basis, without skimming through old and increasingly messy listings. And as more stuff gets added what before was not requested enough to be top priority will get a chance to be voted for more and more if it's really wanted.
I also like this idea. The two threads right now are very much unmanageable. I chatted with LevelX earlier about this, and he agreed to sticky the new "master" thread. I'm sure having a fresh one every month open would be fine as well.

Additionally, if this was done, having the new /r/XMage moderator (I never post there but I do read it regularly) put a link to said thread on the sidebar of the subreddit would help too. Perhaps even have a sticky post there with this chart.... maybe keep it just as a reference post linking here for the proper voting.
Another great idea! The new mod at /r/XMage seems great so far. He already PM'd me the other day there.

What I do imagine could be somewhat helpful is to mention similar-working cards already implemented that could make it easier for you guys to go look at for references, instead of starting the card from scratch.
Always helpful. I usually just do an Advanced Search on MTG Gatherer (http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Advanced.aspx) or our Card Implementation Tool itself (linked earlier) to try to find similar cards. Such as searching for "whenever a source deals damage to you" and so on in the rules text.

Thanks for all your suggestions! By the end of this week there should be a new Card Request system in place. If we decide it should be adjusted, we can just change it then or at the start of the next week, so nothing is set in stone yet.
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Re: How to make the Card Requests system "better"

Postby Doctor Weird » 05 Apr 2016, 17:12

escplan9 wrote:I assume by "vote" you mean the user simply makes a post requesting the cards they want.
Yes, that's what I meant, a simple post listing the cards they want the most (within reason, of course).

escplan9 wrote:I usually just do an Advanced Search on MTG Gatherer
But if the person who wants the card saves you and other devs the time to look these things up yourselves, the better. Besides, sometimes there's cases where a card's wording wouldn't easily hint at other cards that internally might have similar ways of working unless you already knew the card yourself from memory, it happened to me a few times when looking up a couple of cards I would like to see implemented, which could be done through similar functions already existent in other cards despite their rules texts having slightly different wordings.

escplan9 wrote:Thanks for all your suggestions!
Really wish some more people would chime in and get involved. Out of the hundreds of users XMage has every day sometimes I really feel like the only lonely fool who cares to post about any of these things. Come on, lurking people, stuff shouldn't be done based solely on one weird guy's reply, I might grow a complex one of these days. :(
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Re: How to make the Card Requests system "better"

Postby escplan9 » 05 Apr 2016, 17:50

I think few people contribute to discussions on the forums here because they only come to post about issues and check on updates. We don't have a thriving community of engaged people or anything. I know the XMage reddit mod is trying to increase the "community" feel to it. I know I wasn't as engaged in XMage until I decided to join on as a developer. Now I feel the responsibility to continue to improve XMage whenever I can, however I can. I mean that in a good way - it feels much more enjoyable than my daily contributions at work scripting whatever.
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Re: How to make the Card Requests system "better"

Postby Styxo » 06 Apr 2016, 11:40

What about implementing the request system into the client? Something like (a red) button betweeen About and Exit, where user could choose like 3 cards out of all unimplemented. Then when a card gets implemented and new version is up for downloads, user would get an email saying something like:
"Your requested card Force of Will has been implemented. You can request a new one. Come and try it out!"
Guess that would make more people participated in deciding which cards are more important and moreover people would return to playing Xmage just to try some decks with the new cards they could not played before.
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Re: How to make the Card Requests system "better"

Postby escplan9 » 06 Apr 2016, 15:48

That's a pretty sweet idea. Would require some development time to add that functionality and have checks so it doesn't bog down the server or get abused, but worth considering.
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Re: How to make the Card Requests system "better"

Postby fireshoes » 06 Apr 2016, 18:51

Perhaps when someone attempts to add a card that is missing to a deck, but the card name is verified as existing via Gatherer, etc, it can be added be added to that card's request 'score'.
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Re: How to make the Card Requests system "better"

Postby escplan9 » 07 Apr 2016, 13:04

fireshoes wrote:Perhaps when someone attempts to add a card that is missing to a deck, but the card name is verified as existing via Gatherer, etc, it can be added be added to that card's request 'score'.
Another on the possible to-do list. Would require development time to do it right, but I like the idea.
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Re: How to make the Card Requests system "better"

Postby escplan9 » 08 Apr 2016, 17:59

I also notice in our Card Implementation Tracking tool (http://ct-magefree.rhcloud.com/) that it isn't always up to date with cards implemented. Some developers have claimed cards to work on, but the developer has been absent for an unknown period of time, or never intends to complete it and we'll never know. Not sure what to do about those cases. If someone requests a card and developer already is marked as working on it, but we have no contact with the developer, what should happen?

Also we likely have some developers who are implementing cards, but not updating they worked on / completed the card in the tool. Not sure what we can do about that either. I went through and found all cards marked as IP by a developer and checked which ones were implemented. All those implemented I went ahead and marked complete.

Oh, and the new system is live: viewtopic.php?f=70&t=18474
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Re: How to make the Card Requests system "better"

Postby escplan9 » 27 Apr 2016, 18:02

The original plan was for every month the Card Request thread to start completely new. There would be a Card Request - MAY thread and all votes reset. I'm thinking instead of completely fresh, we keep cards that have more than 1 vote. Right now that's only 4 cards. I'm not sure a better way of doing this since the current way does "punish" people who vote late in the month. If we don't implement the card the user requested within the few days before the end of the month, that thread is closed and a new one starts.

I guess we do want to encourage more forum participation after all and we don't need 500 cards that have been requested by 1 user. So something has to change. I am liking the feel of this system better - it's much easier to manage and encourages people to vote regularly.
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Re: How to make the Card Requests system "better"

Postby Fenhl » 22 May 2016, 04:33

escplan9 wrote:Also we likely have some developers who are implementing cards, but not updating they worked on / completed the card in the tool. Not sure what we can do about that either. I went through and found all cards marked as IP by a developer and checked which ones were implemented. All those implemented I went ahead and marked complete.
Is it still possible to create accounts for the tracking tool? If so, I request one so I can update cards I'm working on.
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Re: How to make the Card Requests system "better"

Postby escplan9 » 23 May 2016, 13:34

I'm not sure who has permission to create the accounts there. I asked LevelX about it and he set it up for me. Ping him on Gitter or PM him about gaining access to it. I've tried to make a habit of going to the tool after a developer implements a card to make sure it's marked, but I might have missed some.
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Re: How to make the Card Requests system "better"

Postby Fenhl » 24 May 2016, 14:12

Styxo wrote:What about implementing the request system into the client? Something like (a red) button betweeen About and Exit, where user could choose like 3 cards out of all unimplemented. Then when a card gets implemented and new version is up for downloads, user would get an email saying something like:
"Your requested card Force of Will has been implemented. You can request a new one. Come and try it out!"
Guess that would make more people participated in deciding which cards are more important and moreover people would return to playing Xmage just to try some decks with the new cards they could not played before.
I like this idea a lot. In fact I'd implement it right away but I don't know enough about the project to do so. Instead I'll outline a more detailed plan which we could move to a tracking issue after some discussion.
  • Create some sort of database on xmage.de where each unimplemented card is mapped to a set of registered accounts on that server who are voting for the card. Each account can vote for up to 3 different cards.
  • Create a web interface to this database where devs can pick wanted cards to implement and assign them like github issues. Ideally this should be open source and use github authentication.
  • Add a menu bar item where votes can be viewed and changed.
  • Show known but unimplemented cards in the deck editor.
  • When a user tries to add an unimplemented card to a deck or tries to import a deck file containing unimplemented cards, offer to vote for the card(s). If the user is not connected to xmage.de, ask for their credentials. If the user is now voting for more than 3 cards, ask to pick 3 of them to vote for.
  • When connecting to xmage.de, check if any voted cards have been implemented. If so, display an alert and offer to vote for new cards.
By hosting the system on xmage.de we may be making things a bit difficult for people who normally play on Woogerworks or other servers, but I believe this is the best way to make a simple and fair system.
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