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Artificial Human

An Open Letter to Fan Z's Developers/Joey DiCarlo

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Today @dicarlo / Joey DiCarlo called me out on Retro, going as far as screen capping one of my posts from this board. This was in regards to my post stating my theory that FanZ's team don't test, they instead show us obviously unfinished and broken cards, having us, the fan base, edit those cards via our comments and then on release day, posting finalised cards with our suggestions. He said I don't know what I'm talking about.

On the Goten post, Joey said that image was a very early version of Goten and his Drill interaction had since been fixed to work as intended. Ok. That's good. But why wasn't this noted when it was posted and the write up done if it had been fixed? It's pretty important information. What is more important that I do question is, why this late do you have unfinished cards? Why are you 'showing us what you have done so far' instead of the finalised card weeks from release day? I'm sorry, it reeks of exactly what we, the Top Tier community, have theorised for quite some time. You don't test anything. The fanbases' edits are being put on the cards at the final hour to release.

But let's give them the benefit of the doubt. Let's say Joey and the gang test. Fine. Onus still falls on them, but now includes someone else, the person putting together the cards. They are good at actual design, the traits and set symbols? Great work, not going to take that away from them, but the cards themselves and the fact they can't give the team more recent versions for preview season seems to me that they are too time poor for the project at best and are probably inefficient. As @Majin Goo, @Royaken and I can attest to, you can make really fast alterations to cards in GIMP and Photoshop, provided you have made a proper template and save each card as a separate project. To give the spelling checks and corrections we are talking about here would take no time what so ever. Let's say I was doing your Fan Z cards, and assume they were testing. I would be asking them how we were doing preview season, order of previews, then asking by DD/MM for them to have the finalised effects for me to put on the cards to avoid every problem we've seen. People would see the actual cards ready for the PDFs day 1. This is a really simple and obvious way to handle the situation, anyone would plan like this naturally. I am aware Fan Z is a passion project at this point, but none of this is rocket science. It's pretty much standard procedure.

I may bitch a lot about this game, I do, but I do greatly enjoy it and think it can be handled better. Ultimately, this whole deal with the preview season reflects poorly on Joey and the Development Team. I understand TCG Design is hard, I've dabbled in it enough to get it and have some really harsh critics, things change really quick when you notice a problem, playtest, ect. It's a hard and fast process, but what's happening in preview season is completely avoidable with some simple planning. It shouldn't be happening.

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As I've stated in another topic, developers are often too close to the game to realize their mistakes or to be open about development deficiencies. There were suspicions of minimal play testing and quality control when the game was still in production. These suspicions were often given strength by measurable concepts. Even if play testing did and does happen, there are valid reasons to suspect that it is minimal or non-existent. I appreciate the work they put in, but the unprofessional situations that haunted them when they were paid developers still continues to haunt them. 

Because I know someone will ask:

  1. Obvious bad design philosophies,
  2. Printing errors,
  3. Incorrect effects,
  4. Staff arguing and insulting consumers openly in social media, and
  5. Poor quality control procedures

With that said, as of sets 5 and 6 it appeared that these problems had been mitigated. Problems 1, 2, and 5 showed back up for set 7. 

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I wish people like Joey would understand that our goal isn't necessarily to bring them down. Those of us complaining but still playing the game are the ones who care the most regardless of how we present our concerns. We make our assumptions based on the output and for the most part they're reasonable. I think if they took a moment to step back they would see the ones that have challenged their decisions and their process every step of the way are the ones most invested emotionally. I personally point out flaws, and bluntly so, because I want them to succeed and be reveared for their contributions to DBZ 2.0. 

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I left retro because they didn't believe cards like bicycle kick were overpowered, they were a frothing mess of people who desperately wanted to keep playing the game.  Whenever I brought up the insane shit you could do I would get screamed at by the "leaders" of Fanz and UCofWildcat (I think that was his name).  It's why I believe that these people don't care about continuing the game, they care being the ones that continue the game (if that makes sense).  It's why I'm conflicted when I see cool Hercule and Videl stuff (hell I even pulled out the Hercule deck I almost took to worlds and worked on it), but remember that things like Goku and Future Gohan are unaddressed.  Frieza getting so much support, but they still can't figure out a viable level 1.  I want to like it, but there either isn't a clear designer taking charge or the one they have is just incompetent.  To me at the very least, the project has been botched from the beginning. 

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@artificial human.

Sorry for the call out, but I was linked to the page and it was the first thing i saw. 
I will do my best in this post to give y'all more clarity on how fanZs process works and how
panini worked as well.

*PanZ was 100% tested
*FanZ is 100% tested
*Concepts and early testing happens about a week or two after a set release.
*Compared to PanZ, FanZ is tested less due to it being a non profit passion project
*S8,s9,s10 were all designed with s7 being the measuring stick as far as card power. Traits and new 
Mps are huge in helping us design and test horizontally instead of vertically.

Previews being early versions!
* If concept is version 1.0, previews are version 1.1 or 1.2 in some but not all cases.
* I try to get as many of our initial images as early as i can so i can send them out for preview
* Preview season is definately a strain on everone involed in fanZ as cards can change or be tweaked
multiple times throughout a weak, previews (especially MP/Masterys) can often be behind. Our digital
art man is incredible and I dont want to bother him hourly with tweaks and revisions that could change
by the next day depending on data recieved from our differnt testing groups data.
* Styled cards are often much closer to their final versions than other card types
* I wish we could skip preview season completely, but players loved this in the Panini era and we want
to maintain some sense of normalacy.
* Sometimes concepts have their verbage incorrect *points at Goten* this is often noticed in early testing
after a game state is confused due to a timining issue and is soon fixed in version 1.x
* Look for a "previews may change by the release date" disclaimer on Blog previews for s11

Player's affecting current or future design 
* The main take away we get from player hype and comments is "we like this" "wish it went this direction" etc.
For example, Kid Trunks is not just Trunks 100% due to what the players wanted.
* idealogical difference. To reference s10, Players responded negatively to Banished zone interaction, this 
means that future sets will have much less banished zone interactions unless it is intergal to making a 
specific design function.
* Kai events and other fan events, while kai events are not what regionals were, they do serve as a great ball 
of data for us. These events work as a great measuring stick for us since our testing meta does not always line
up with the competitive meta. This data is insanely valuable towards deciding what styles need help and what may
need to be reigned in a bit.

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I greatly appreciate the sincere and transparent reply, @dicarlo. I really do. You didn't have to go as in-depth as you did, but it's really nice of you to do this.

I really only have one comment. I get that reluctance to do preview season. I personally really enjoy it, I think we all do, but with limited time and no financial incentive to make the time, I get why you'd take a 'You'll see them on release' mentality. Unless there is something that really should have more eyes on it, as @ChangelingBard mentioned, Orange Bicycle Kick is pretty much that scenario, I get it. But I have some comments I think could help the testing and preview process. I outlined some of this prior, but I'll go into more depth.

You have release days already months in advance. Revelations was announced back at the very last day of September for a month and a half later on November 15. You say you're spit balling concepts and fleshing them out a week after release of the prior set, which would be back in early July, so you had 4 and a half months to finish design. I think you need to do a couple of things to make the process more efficient.

1) Set a schedule. Say to everyone that by DD/MM, we start previewing. Unless things change and something really needs more work, X, Y, Z is the order we're going in and things need to be done and dusted by then.

2) Get your graphic artist to make up a very basic and blank template for each card type. One you yourself or whomever can edit on the fly. Just something simple and akin to what Wizards uses, but more in depth as DBZ is vastly more complex. Similar to the blank templates you can find online. You could mock it up in paint yourself, really doesn't matter. I assume you use a personal server of OCTGN or something like Cockatrice or Lackey. You can very easily then go into the program's files to where the card is located, open that image in anything and edit it, then send the new version around the group with the file location in the program. Later, when you're sure it's finalised as a design, start getting the final text to the Graphic Artist to make up. That way you aren't bothering him all the time and don't have to show unfinished cards.

Of course you want to work with your Graphic Artist to get the dates previews should start to work with his own schedule and tell him any new assets you need, possibly start organizing images to go with the cards, but you are no longer in a situation where preview season is by the seat of your pants. I will also say, don't feel too bad about not having write ups if you just don't have them ready. I think you can get by with posts like Dabura and Kid Trunks normally.

But I do want to thank you again for taking the time to reply.

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11 hours ago, dicarlo said:

* I wish we could skip preview season completely, but players loved this in the Panini era and we want
to maintain some sense of normalacy

     I am very likely in the minority here, but I would be completely fine if previews were less frequent (SOME are cool but doing a lot can be understandably strenuous).  I cannot speak for everyone of course.

     I get much  more hype from seeing tournament results!  If you don't mind me asking, why were some Kai events never summarized on The Dead Zone?  Were deck lists never delivered?  People on this forum are going to get tired of me asking this lol. I want to see the West Kai and South Kai deck lists (I know what went down at East Kai). 

EDIT: Also very thankful for your efforts.  I didn't intend to come off as "give me muh tournament resultz ormagerd." Kai events just make me super excited.  I'm really hoping I can go to more than one of your events during the next OP season.  The set 10 cards are looking great and I want to try and break them. :P

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