The elephant in the room?

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trilobite
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Re: The elephant in the room?

Post by trilobite » Tue Jun 16, 2015 10:49 pm

I want to say, “Thanks” to Acedeuce for bringing this question to the forum.

I noticed the same strange phenomenon. One week, Dustbowl was normally populated. The next, it was empty. And it has stayed pretty much empty. Like someone threw a switch and turned it off.

Above posters have covered many possible causes and I have nothing to add. I don’t think there is one overarching reason for the collapse. Probably a combination of phenomena that together produced a tipping point. Odd and unpredictable social and technical dynamics.

Regarding Valve: Yes they have transformed themselves from hero to creeper in my view. This is what happens to a company when the MBAs outnumber the engineers (or so it would appear). Not wanting to give that company any more of my money. Microtransactions? Steam Box? Steam Controller? That’s it? That’s all you got?

But there is hope – not for Valve. I recently watched the Bethesda E3 2015 press conference.
Bethesda 2015 E3 Press Conference

On that evening, I saw Bethesda hand Valve their a@#. Bethesda is setting a brisk pace and Valve is so far behind, it will never catch up – assuming that it wants to.

Cheers.
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Re: The elephant in the room?

Post by Peahats » Wed Jun 17, 2015 3:26 pm

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Valve is moving from a game developer to games distributor/hardware dev. Think about it, it's much more profitable for Valve to keep Steam running and rake in profits from every game being sold there, than to release a game that maybe half of the steam community would buy. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I've let go on the idea that we will ever see a half-life three released unless it is filled with microtransatctions and Steam Market support.

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Re: The elephant in the room?

Post by The Domer » Wed Jun 17, 2015 5:51 pm

How Valve must feel about people being upset about their business acumen:

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I'd be crying all the way to the bank too, if I were in their shoes.

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Re: The elephant in the room?

Post by Garrett » Wed Jun 24, 2015 7:53 am

Several good points have been made so far so I'll refrain from talking about TF2's age, Valve's policies, or player ennui. However, this thread is called "The elephant in the room" and I feel that it isn't being addressed.

I've been playing here since 2010. Not nearly as long as many of you but a long time for one game and one group of servers in my opinion. In that time, I've seen people come and go, regulars disappear and new people coming to take their place as regulars. I've seen factions of players rise and fall and plenty of bans/gags/etc. (both warranted and unwarranted) foster disagreements. It's not my style to take sides on matters that don't involve me, let alone things as trivial as video game server rules. I prefer to watch from the sidelines and hear both sides so I better understand the disagreement, but I still don't take part in factions or other farcical junk.

That being said, I do feel it unworthy of representatives of the Ville to imply that these disagreements are always the result of players doing something at odds with the Ville rules. It is fair to say that they are differences of opinion regarding the rules, but phrases such as "private fiefdoms" and "storming off" don't paint an unbiased picture. I'm not talking about every squabble that arises. Popular regular gets muted for talking about R rated topics? Fine, they had it coming. They knew the rules. People leave in a huff over a player's ban? Whatever. Nobody was forcing them to play here.

What I'm talking about is what I feel is the namesake of this thread. About two months ago, the servers here were starting to be empty more often than not. As if by coincidence, a competing server appears, with server plugins very similar to the Ville's, and a player base largely composed of (ex) Ville regulars. In contrast with the servers here, this server is full every night and has a healthy in-game community. Don't take this as favoritism on my part. I can't say I know the exact reason why this server was created because I don't know the full story nor do I frankly care. I go where the players are and I can name many people who feel the same. The biggest reason, I feel, that this server is populated while TV6 and 7 are dead is do to a dedicated seeding effort that is sorely missing at the Ville. The people who seeded most often here play less now and nobody has filled their roles. As a result, the servers languish and people who don't want to wait around for a successful seed don't bother stopping by.

So if a schism in the community led to the creation of this server, why would the remaining seeders in good standing with the Ville choose to migrate? I don't know. I've only heard one side from a few people so I can't rightly say what happened. What I gather is that it was a matter of admin-player discussion and transparency. Again, factions and I don't care. But transparency is a topic I want to discuss because I believe it is the cause of a lot of disagreements between admins and these so-called factions. I agree that one shouldn't air the dirty laundry of another but the dogmatic enforcement of rules with occasional unexplained flexibility does make me raise an eyebrow. I don't care about language rules.That's not what I come to the Ville for. But why is the name "Big Caulk" allowed but not one I remember as "50 Shades of Gay"? Why does one skirt the rules and not the other? Why do some players get permabans (does the Ville do this? The rules don't say.) while others receive less punishment for the same offense? There may be perfectly legitimate reasons, but for someone on the outside, all you see is the people in charge playing favorites.

Two years ago, a very active member of this community left in protest of alleged admin inaction concerning alleged admin misconduct. I don't know what happened. I only heard his side. Not really fair to the admins right? I don't like getting biased accounts. But this situation bothers me in particular because why would an active community member, well liked by others and in good standing, make so bold a claim as admin misconduct and then claim to encounter a blue (purple?) wall of silence. I'm not saying the admins should post bans and their reasons in the forums, but some transparency towards questions regarding the bans would do a lot towards creating a relationship of trust in the players. Keeping silent at all times in these matters only makes it seem like you sit upon an ivory tower while the rest of us hear only the arguments of those at odds with you.

Anyway, those are just my thoughts. I hope I didn't anger anyone as that was not the intention. It is uncharacteristic of me to speak on these matters but I am sad to see the Ville TF2 servers become ghost towns and I just wanted to share my opinion on the whole thing.
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Re: The elephant in the room?

Post by Oddjob » Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:17 pm

I can only speak for myself but I've mostly gotten burnt out on TF2. Its ok to play from time to time.

I think there are just so many alternative gaming options out there and not one that calls out universally to the ville player base.

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Re: The elephant in the room?

Post by Boss Llama » Wed Jun 24, 2015 3:35 pm

Garrett wrote: Two years ago, a very active member of this community left in protest of alleged admin inaction concerning alleged admin misconduct. I don't know what happened. I only heard his side. Not really fair to the admins right? I don't like getting biased accounts. But this situation bothers me in particular because why would an active community member, well liked by others and in good standing, make so bold a claim as admin misconduct and then claim to encounter a blue (purple?) wall of silence.
You make mention of a number of things that are worthwhile. I want to reply to this in particular though (only as specifically as I can here, since as you acknowledge, discussion of specifics isn't permitted), because I know which situation you mean, and I'm just as confused by it as you. Specifically, I'm also confused as to why an active community member would do such a thing, as I feel like this particular case is one of the most widely cited and most widely misunderstood one I've ever seen here. So long as we don't mention any names, I think I can get away with listing some basic facts of that case:

1) The community member did not ever file any sort of claim or report on this subject, either formally or informally. The first notice of any issue existing was a post stating they were leaving forever.
2) The community member refused, for a time, to tell us why they were leaving, or to discuss any details whatsoever, despite multiple admins contacting them.
3) The admin accused of misconduct is the one who reported the details of the accusation to us, having received an angry message from the departing community member.
4) When approached with details in hand, the community member finally detailed their claim. They then identified people they said were witnesses, as well as the wronged party.
5) We spoke to each of the people identified, and asked for their recollections of the event.
6) Every single witness, including the allegedly wronged party, denied that the accused admin had done what they were accused of.
7) Multiple of these witnesses stated that the departing community member was in fact the one who had been acting inappropriately.
8) When approached again for further information, the community member cut off all communication with us.
9) With zero evidence, no formal complaint, and alleged victim and witnesses all agreed that the entire story was fabricated, nothing followed.

I can't speak to the motivations of the community member, nor would it be my place to speculate. Things like this do happen time to time. The only difference here is that the person making the claim happened to be well known and a frequent visitor, so it is that much harder to figure out.
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Re: The elephant in the room?

Post by Crusty Juggler » Wed Jun 24, 2015 5:04 pm

Boss Llama wrote:
Garrett wrote: Two years ago, a very active member of this community left in protest of alleged admin inaction concerning alleged admin misconduct. I don't know what happened. I only heard his side. Not really fair to the admins right? I don't like getting biased accounts. But this situation bothers me in particular because why would an active community member, well liked by others and in good standing, make so bold a claim as admin misconduct and then claim to encounter a blue (purple?) wall of silence.
You make mention of a number of things that are worthwhile. I want to reply to this in particular though (only as specifically as I can here, since as you acknowledge, discussion of specifics isn't permitted), because I know which situation you mean, and I'm just as confused by it as you. Specifically, I'm also confused as to why an active community member would do such a thing, as I feel like this particular case is one of the most widely cited and most widely misunderstood one I've ever seen here. So long as we don't mention any names, I think I can get away with listing some basic facts of that case:

1) The community member did not ever file any sort of claim or report on this subject, either formally or informally. The first notice of any issue existing was a post stating they were leaving forever.
2) The community member refused, for a time, to tell us why they were leaving, or to discuss any details whatsoever, despite multiple admins contacting them.
3) The admin accused of misconduct is the one who reported the details of the accusation to us, having received an angry message from the departing community member.
4) When approached with details in hand, the community member finally detailed their claim. They then identified people they said were witnesses, as well as the wronged party.
5) We spoke to each of the people identified, and asked for their recollections of the event.
6) Every single witness, including the allegedly wronged party, denied that the accused admin had done what they were accused of.
7) Multiple of these witnesses stated that the departing community member was in fact the one who had been acting inappropriately.
8) When approached again for further information, the community member cut off all communication with us.
9) With zero evidence, no formal complaint, and alleged victim and witnesses all agreed that the entire story was fabricated, nothing followed.

I can't speak to the motivations of the community member, nor would it be my place to speculate. Things like this do happen time to time. The only difference here is that the person making the claim happened to be well known and a frequent visitor, so it is that much harder to figure out.
Yup, that's totally the truth Alizee.

After investing thousands of hours of playtime, and hundreds of dollars in donations for your community. After constantly advocating for your community, in game and out of game. After endlessly lobbying players to join your forum. After racking up some 500 posts on your forum, I just suddenly decided to make up a bunch of lies about an admin and torpedo my own Ville Cup team. Makes sense.

Nope, there definitely wasn't an admin repeatedly calling a Chinese Villun a "Hong Kong Ching Chong" behind his back in my team's TS3 channel over a period of two nights, and then brushing off my suggestion he chill out. Never happened. Just like you said, I was the one being a jerk.

And you wonder why no one will touch your radioactive community with a ten-foot pole? The favoritism, lying and dismissive attitude from the "leaders" here was (and still is, I see) appalling.

All the signs were there. There were people shouting from the rooftops about your community mismanagement and double-standards, myself included. You ignored them all, and now look where you are? Sniping at the departed members (don't think that what you guys say in TS3 doesn't get back to us) and skulking about in your little echo chamber while your servers are empty.

You were one of my favorite players here, Alizee. It's depressing to see you so oblivious to the problems that drove every single one of your regulars away. It's a downright shame to see your community go out like this.

The elephant in the room has become a full-fledged three ring circus, with you and your fellow "leaders" pouring gas on the burning big top. Actually, it's not burning anymore, it's turned to ash and you're still pouring gas on it.

Sad. What a sad ending to such a long-lived and once great community. But you know what? You only have yourselves to blame.

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Re: The elephant in the room?

Post by YoullNeverWalkAlone » Thu Jun 25, 2015 12:15 am

Every single person who has been muted, renamed or banned has the same chance to file a help ticket, explain their side and be heard. Anyone, not just st some chosen few, can do this. At that point a decision is mad regarding the appeal and we move on. Plenty of debate and discussion can take place, especially with items or situations that aren't cut and dry violations of the rules.

I'm sorry if it feels like there is a lack of transparency with cases like these. I have always felt that it was important to respect the privacy of those involved and not get into the details regarding instances. Does this often hurt us and the perception of others on the outside? Sure. But I don't think people would appreciate full disclosure of every item that comes up either. There is a line there and I believe the right thing to do is to err on the side of less disclosure and protecting privacy.

I'm not going to get into CJs issue. It's been vetted, taken very seriously and acted upon with an open mind to get accurate information. What was found is as Boss/Alizee stated. As with anything, you can make up your own mind about who/what to believe.
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Re: The elephant in the room?

Post by John Doe » Thu Jun 25, 2015 12:44 am

So what do you want me to do folks, torpedo this thread and give more ammunition to the Ville haters?

How about this, lets keep the discussions civil, lets not drag up past issues if you have an axe to grind it will just end up getting the thread locked or removed.

Dragging this thread in the direction of a petty playground fight wont be productive, your welcome to say your peace but please be respectful of others at all times.

What has happened has happened, the past is in the past and nothing we can say or do will likely sway those that have already made up their minds about the Ville, the admins, or those that oversee the admins.

If you have grievances to air we always have the complaint department or your welcome to send me a PM.


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Re: The elephant in the room?

Post by Plinko » Thu Jun 25, 2015 7:56 am

Keep it, please. But agreed keep it civil.
Locking/moving/deleting only fuels the paranoia of folks.

The elephant in the room, AFAIAC is neglect of keeping up the seeding group/efforts.
I've been playing here for almost 8 years now. Nothing about folks moving on to other games, getting cranky about the rules or admins and moving on to other games/communities is remotely new. There's nothing about CJ's accusations or any other disagreement/bewilderment over discipline that I haven't seen four times a year and were happening long before I first played here.

The difference is that today there isn't a group of folks committed to keeping the servers going. If you dislike that, please let us (the admins or VC) know or join the seed team and work on it. If you have good ideas for making things stick, I am pretty sure there are folks who will listen and see what we can do. If the effort was there keeping servers going and people playing, new folks would replace old (albeit more slowly as TF2 ages and no new challenger arises) and things would move on mostly as normal.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

My recollections of events mirror's Boss Llama's and YNWA's.
I will say one thing - if there's anyone out there skeptical about the handling of the accusation - there's a message sitting in my PMs sent to CJ offering to hear him out and promising that I would make sure an admin gets the same treatment as anyone else.
It was sent as soon as I saw his kiss off post.

It's been sitting unread in his inbox for just shy of two years.

The idea that the Leadership group didn't take it very seriously and try to run down what happened is a baseless accusation from someone who threw out serious accusations then ran off and refused to stand behind them.

If there's one person who substantiated it, they haven't come forward yet that I've seen.
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Re: The elephant in the room?

Post by OldMan1955 » Thu Jun 25, 2015 5:42 pm

Gentlemen,
I've noticed the last 2-3 Sunday's at around 6pm PST, that the server which has the map Warpath has had activity, but the once and mighty Dustbowl is just that - a dust bowl with no one on it.

I always check the Ville servers first, but it's always been 0 players the last 2 months or so; therefore, I've moved on to playing on some west coast severs that have almost a full player capacity. The only problem with these severs are the young kids that play on them. They get butt-hurt so easy.

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Re: The elephant in the room?

Post by KRG » Sat Jun 27, 2015 9:10 am

When the elephant reaches a steep mountain, it must turn and find a path around. The goat simply climbs over the mountain and proceeds.

There is no elephant in this room. . . only the goat.

Baaaaaaaaa.
I have a butt.

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Re: The elephant in the room?

Post by Flash » Sat Jun 27, 2015 10:29 am

QFE in entirety, but of particular note:

6) Every single witness, including the allegedly wronged party, denied that the accused admin had done what they were accused of.

Now I don't know what really happened on the sever that night, all I know is what people were willing to tell me after the fact. Based on what we were told by multiple people (almost all of which are NOT other admins), taking no action against this admin was the only proper course of action.
Boss Llama wrote:
Garrett wrote: Two years ago, a very active member of this community left in protest of alleged admin inaction concerning alleged admin misconduct. I don't know what happened. I only heard his side. Not really fair to the admins right? I don't like getting biased accounts. But this situation bothers me in particular because why would an active community member, well liked by others and in good standing, make so bold a claim as admin misconduct and then claim to encounter a blue (purple?) wall of silence.
You make mention of a number of things that are worthwhile. I want to reply to this in particular though (only as specifically as I can here, since as you acknowledge, discussion of specifics isn't permitted), because I know which situation you mean, and I'm just as confused by it as you. Specifically, I'm also confused as to why an active community member would do such a thing, as I feel like this particular case is one of the most widely cited and most widely misunderstood one I've ever seen here. So long as we don't mention any names, I think I can get away with listing some basic facts of that case:

1) The community member did not ever file any sort of claim or report on this subject, either formally or informally. The first notice of any issue existing was a post stating they were leaving forever.
2) The community member refused, for a time, to tell us why they were leaving, or to discuss any details whatsoever, despite multiple admins contacting them.
3) The admin accused of misconduct is the one who reported the details of the accusation to us, having received an angry message from the departing community member.
4) When approached with details in hand, the community member finally detailed their claim. They then identified people they said were witnesses, as well as the wronged party.
5) We spoke to each of the people identified, and asked for their recollections of the event.
6) Every single witness, including the allegedly wronged party, denied that the accused admin had done what they were accused of.
7) Multiple of these witnesses stated that the departing community member was in fact the one who had been acting inappropriately.
8) When approached again for further information, the community member cut off all communication with us.
9) With zero evidence, no formal complaint, and alleged victim and witnesses all agreed that the entire story was fabricated, nothing followed.

I can't speak to the motivations of the community member, nor would it be my place to speculate. Things like this do happen time to time. The only difference here is that the person making the claim happened to be well known and a frequent visitor, so it is that much harder to figure out.

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Re: The elephant in the room?

Post by trilobite » Sun Jun 28, 2015 12:00 am

Nice post, Garrett. You just edged up several notches in my book of notches.

Here is a list I want everyone to consider:
  1. Clunker
  2. Pwnstar
  3. Maj.Ghob
  4. I am a Mummy
  5. Crusty Juggler
  6. Slutty Pilgrim
  7. Alex
  8. Miguel
  9. Flute
  10. Toby from human resources
  11. Newbie Scoop
  12. latexglove
  13. Alcapoon
The above list is composed of players I would classify as “charismatic” and magnetic personalities. They were especially interesting and fun to play with. They precipitated lively banter that would accompany a night at the Ville. As we couldn’t physically gather for cigars and whiskey, we would meet instead on the Ville for laughs. I would scan the Ville servers. When I saw certain players in game, I would join in the fun.

About half of these players were banned. If they chose not to appeal, then that is most unfortunate. The others drifted away for various reasons. But I think the loss of certain key players also removed incentives for many other players to stay. A cascade of consequences.

In ecology there is the concept of keystone species. A keystone species is one that, by their presence and by their actions, exert a stabilizing force on their surroundings keeping the ecosystem together.

I argue that the loss of certain players, either by banning or otherwise, eventually destabilizes the ecosystem. Continued losses of keystone individuals results in total collapse. And THAT is what I have observed over the last several of years on the Ville servers.

Forest for the trees. In the short term, it may seem important to tightly enforce the rules. But in the long term, if this policy produces a diminishing stock of key individuals who otherwise attract players to the Ville, then it is understandable that other players depart also. In reality, some players ARE more important than others when it comes to investing into the long-term survival of the organization.

In addition, it is not unusual to expect that as certain players invest much time and effort contributing to the Ville’s online player community, they develop a perception of “belonging” and “value.” Feeling appreciated and valued is one of the important goods that an online community can offer. But I can see how the banning of a long-time, key player, for whatever reason, could be interpreted by the player as an excessively harsh betrayal of that evolved relationship -- undermining the value that they thought they had been accumulating over the years and rejection from a community they thought had wanted them.

Finally, please understand that I wouldn’t write this post if I didn’t care. I’m not going to argue fine points or individual cases. The Ville leadership does what it wants. That’s your choice. It’s your organization. And as I mentioned in my earlier post, I think dynamics could explain a great deal. But I also think that the accumulating loss or expulsion of key players has significantly contributed to the recent collapse.
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Re: The elephant in the room?

Post by Boss Llama » Sun Jun 28, 2015 7:56 am

I agree with you entirely, trilobite, that is part of it. You are dead on correct about certain players being central to the server populations that form, but the question we have to ask is, are they acting within that population in a way with which we are willing to associate our name? The Ville has been standing for a certain kind of community, and a certain kind of behavior, for quite some time. We've always prioritized the "Ville" way of doing things over just having people around, and because people have many different ways of enjoying themselves (as is their right), not everybody is always a good fit. We do our best to help encourage folks to go our way, and we are conscious of who many of these influential people are and sometimes even go out of our way to try and solicit them, but when somebody repeatedly refuses to play nice, and in some cases even spits in our face over and over... there comes a time when we have to say there are differences that just won't change, and go our separate ways.

While the details of cases are of course private, the overall Ville ban-list is and has been public. It is located here: http://www.theville.org/sourcebans/

Selecting "Ban list" will give you the basics of the 6736 bans that have been filed, going back to before the TF2 era. It is searchable, and as you suggest, 6 people on your list (not quite half of the 13) do show up. What is especially notable though, if you are familiar with such things, is that 4 of those 6 have multiple bans. Those multiple bans are sometimes a year or more apart. These were not isolated single discipline issues... they are issues that stretched over long periods of time, were repeated, and were given multiple chances. The times before and inbetween these multiple bans were not silent either... other disciplinary actions, discussion, incidents, etc would go on that didn't show up in the ban database. Sadly, two of the bans even have to specify that it's a long history of behavioral problems that result in the final ban. We do not like losing people. We really do not like banning people. We really really don't like banning or losing people who are important cornerstones of a server population. We can not and will not, however, permit severe disciplinary cases and disrespectful individuals persist on our servers simply because they are popular or well-known.

For the others who weren't banned, they chose of their own accord to move on. That is their own legitimate choice, and we hate to lose them - we would welcome them back should they choose to return. Many people do move on though - our own ownership has changed several times as people moved on - the admin rosters have more people on the retired list than the current list - and we have had thousands of players who've joined us for a time, but are not presently active. If some of these folks chose to leave because somebody they liked was banned... that's very unfortunate, but we won't unban people simply because it would keep the server population up. We listen to appeals and as the significant number of examples cited above for people with multiple bans to their name shows, we often grant second chances. We are not big on third chances though, and for some offenses, there really isn't a return path open. If somebody is unwilling to play here without the company of those who can't, I feel it is a loss for both sides, but one that for our part here, we accept.

We've been talking for quite a long time, since well before this latest population drop, about potential options for moving on to new games and such, but so far, nothing has struck a chord. We've done test runs on several as well, but the interest wasn't there. There are talks certainly about changes to TF2 servers as well, to try and draw in new people. We are far from oblivious to the state of the servers, but we want any changes to be well considered and deliberate, with the best possible chance of reviving or creating a loyal following. We don't enjoy empty servers either, and are looking at solutions presently. I'm sure I join you (nearly everybody in this thread!) in hoping we shall be able to present some shortly.
-Boss Llama

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