My main purpose for creating this blog is to open dialogue between us here at the wiki and the rest of the mugen community, not just Spewgen and MFG. My hope is that we can come to an agreement that results in greater support from that said community, and improved productivity overall.
I fully recognize and acknowledge that I could be wrong about anything that I state here. It is certainly a fact that there are many individuals who understand fighting video game mechanics far greater than I do. By the same token, there are users here that understand wiki code better than I. However, the purpose of this blog is not to show how right I am, and how wrong everyone else is. This is merely my perspective on many of the issues that we are currently dealing with.
I have much respect for those individuals that have toiled for years with the Mugen fighting game engine producing various works that a few of us greatly appreciate while some fans take them for granted. Generally speaking, most people involved with mugen are in effect doing pro bono work. In fact, the people here at the wiki are even less likely, if not, prohibited from receiving any sort of compensation for our work. Let us all be sensitive to this reality.
One thing I want to address in this introduction is that I believe that we can’t quite say what any given visitor to our wiki is looking for. However, we can easily come up with what we would think of as some common reasons. Judging from the current “dialogue” we have already been having, I get the impression that we have two primary groups of users that seek out the wiki. We have those that want download links for characters, and those that want to be informed about the details. Of course this is an oversimplification of our visitor demographics. Yet, it is useful as a sort of spectrum since it is unlikely that very many would simply do neither.
While I encourage further discussion, I do not want to explore that previous subject in this blog any further. However, it is a good segue to the main points I want to cover.
Continuing Where I Left Off: Spewgen Huh?
My honest opinion is that adding those little details (normals, command normals, full descriptions, frame counts) would not hurt. However, making them a requirement would severely stifle the growth of this site.
I actually do care about the hardcore Mugen community although I wouldn't consider myself a member.
I don't see what's wrong with a more "breadth" focus. Depth is something that can always come later.
I actually plan on doing a blog post later in response to the spewgen page. *I think a lot of the arguments they make are weak.
Well here is that blog. I want to start by rescinding that very last quoted sentence. I actually believe that they at Spewgen have some valid points. At the time of that quote, I was very new to the wiki and knew very little about what actually happened. I got the impression that the blog was merely a source of criticism that was rarely if ever constructive or helpful. As I began to edit here more and at the same time read more of the Spewgen blog posts, I began to understand the situation a bit more clearly. However, I do have some criticisms of the Spewgen blog. Currently, my main complaint is that the blog includes some nitpicking.
I will point out some specific examples of what I consider nitpicking and why.
This was worth a lengthy blog post response? This represents the majority of the wiki contributors? Even if this once were the case, I assure you that this is more of a minor issue at best.
This is obviously vandalism. Are we expecting the “wiki team” to be super hero article defenders? It would help to specify how long the article remained as such. The fact is that there are times when things like this indeed slip through the cracks. We cannot simply prevent things like this from happening altogether.
In the screenshot, you can see that it has already been nominated for deletion by the time the blog post was made. What more could we do besides ask that administrators act more swiftly and spend more time on the wiki? We can’t prevent stupidity and neither can we forbid anyone from making a page or registering unless they have been previously banned. In the case of proxy use, the ban is still effectively null if that individual is persistent/crazy enough.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that Spewgen’s sole purpose is not to give us pointers and hold our hands through the process. I realize that some of those posts are merely there for the sole purpose of poking fun at some of the entries that are on the wiki. I can’t fault you for having a sense of humor and face palming to the absurd edits and articles that crop up at times.
It is when you criticize the wiki as a whole because of those little things that I feel your judgment is misplaced.
I will quote the blog description, current as of 8/21/2014: "We're bad enough dudes to show the people how the MUGEN wiki is terrible, and the people who run the place of course."
So you are explicitly saying that our current active administrators and users are terrible. I believe that your assessment is very biased and with respect, ill-informed. Even with the wiki not directly heeding all of your advice, people like PlasmoidThunder in particular but also Jenngra, are the reason why the wiki has grown and why it isn’t in even worse shape than it is. Nowhere else besides at this wiki, has anyone stepped up to actually do the dirty work, set the standards we have now and enforce them. It’s not simply a coincidence that this wiki has grown more than any of the other mugen based ones. Although Spewgen takes pleasure in accusing the wiki for its lack of standards. Yet, neither has anyone stepped up to create a superior wiki, or reform another existing one. If we’re going to discuss both sides of the issue, we should recognize the fact that, minus Ricepigeon, most of the frequent posters at Spewgen have very little if any background actually managing a wiki, let alone one that documents mugen. Let us be sensitive to this fact.
The primary difficulty we are facing is balancing what can be reasonably done on the editing end by us here at the wiki, with being respected by those guys that have been involved with mugen for years.
The fact is that we can't do both equally well.
Before you deny this, I’d like to demonstrate the truth of this statement. It was said on Spewgen that you wouldn’t contribute to the wiki here. This implies that you haven’t. However, it is also true that there has always been the option to start a new wiki entirely with those exact standards. If the idea that such standards would attract the right dedicated editors who really know fighting games, then it should be easy building one from the ground up instead of reforming this currently existing one. As I also said before, I do not think that there is a long line of people waiting to contribute when/if the standards improve. I may be wrong about this.
Nonetheless, we have MugenLab now and I have yet to notice that blog even acknowledge its existence whether it be received positively or negatively. On the subject of being positive, why does Spewgen only point out what is being done wrong and never what is being done right? Not one blog post acknowledges the featured articles. Those represent the best of the wiki and what we measure our articles against. If you want to be helpful, why not a commentary on our best too? Even if we implement some reforms, what is wrong with these articles as they are?
On The Subject of “Competitive” Mugen
In this post here, the author (presumably The_None, as Meldo usually lists his name) counters Plas’ argument that those competitive ‘mugenites’ are the ones that care about the little details. While I will agree that those little details would in theory be informative and helpful to even those casual players, I believe that the author is not being very charitable to what Plas actually meant by competitive. There were also two commenters that essentially critiqued his use of that word.
I will quote his comment from the blog.
“Competitives will download the most balanced characters and play seriously, typically being pretty darn good at beating even the _toughest of characters_ because they know the ins and outs of the characters.”
Where did you get “online capabilities” and “scattered communities” from this? Forgive me if you made that blog post before reading that comment from the post, but it was fairly obvious, at least to me, what Plas actually meant when he mentioned competitive. Of course there is no online mugen tournaments and people do not get together in mass to play mugen against one another. However, the author at Spewgen and those commenters have all overlooked the obvious. The mugen fighting game engine features fighting characters from various official game titles where this type of competitive culture has always been possible. Hold on a minute though, let me be clear.
The more important detail that is also being overlooked is the fact that, thanks to mugen’s AI capabilities, we can “compete” with the cpu. Oh how novel. Of course, everyone knew that already. My point is that this is a fuss about semantics, and spewgen definitely knows all about that. Besides that simple fact, I have a strong feeling that Plas was hinting to the fact that, those who are so adept at fighting video game mechanics that they “actually understand fighting game design”, are highly unlikely to be blind to the competitiveness that is inherent to the fighting game genre; no?
Whether you are aware of this or not, you don’t have to understand game design to be competitive. Yes the converse is true: that someone that understands fighting game design may have no interest in actually playing, but the likelihood of this occurring is highly unlikely. This is especially true in the mugen community when there is nothing but the labor of love involved. I sincerely hope we don’t have too many developers out there insane enough to make characters without ever enjoying the competitive nature of the project they are working on. I mean how the hell else are they going to program “good” AI if they don’t also test it out using their fighting game skills to find holes in the cpu‘s defense? That sounds like competition doesn’t it, albeit with automation involved. I could go on, but I believe I have made this point clear enough about how direct interaction with another human being is not an actual requirement for the proper use of the term “competitive”. For your convenience, a definition. The pursuit of “that win” is a central tenet of fighting games with or without a human opponent.
The key point I want to make is that what is being hinted at is the fact that even among those who are competitive, they simply may not care about reading all the little details. A lot of information about how a fighting move can be properly implemented in game can only fully be learned, in game. Yet, I acknowledge the point being made that “we want to inform people as much as possible”. I support this idea and think that those extra details are helpful; but to mandate the inclusion of that level of detail for every article in the wiki is simply impractical and in many cases, hardly necessary. Regardless, I will reiterate, we have the MugenLab.
Shifting Gears: For Spewgen
I want to address those that think that it would be a good idea for Spewgen to cease making posts. First and foremost, we must understand that healthy dialogue should always be discouraged. A sort of buzzword, or more aptly ‘buzz phrase‘, that has been thrown around is: that status quo the wiki has been upholding. As stated above, there is a delicate balance between practicality and what we should include. There is also a need for conformity between articles. Even with that said, we should always allow the presence of dissenting opinions. We can’t merely rely on our inside perspective here at the wiki. We should embrace outside perspectives such as those of Spewgen.
Let me be clear, I am in favor of Spewgen existing and making posts about the wiki. At least Spewgen cares enough to make those posts. Believe it or not, indifference would be a worse outcome. The fact that Meldo and The_None felt it was worthwhile to make an entire blog that is frequently updated and dedicated to responding, albeit negatively, to our wiki ought to be seen as a form of flattery. Just know that these veterans haven’t given up on us if they still are bothering to post on that blog. It’s as simple as that.
Some Controversy: Toupou & Heartlessmushroom - Noroko issue
As many of us know, there was a decision made about how we would format the wiki. For the reader’s convenience I will link to that blog(once again) dealing with the aftermath of a messy debacle involving the Noroko article here. A key point I want to make first is that, this was a very big decision. If there was a time for naysayers to speak up, that was the time. If you are unhappy with the result of this poll, you should’ve voted and commented if you did not.
With that said, I still need to address that injustice that I believe has been rightfully pointed out on Spewgen. I want to give Toupou the benefit of the doubt about this event, so I will refer to it as a mistake. For those not “in the know” Toupou undid a lengthy edit contributed by the registered user HeartlessMushroom. In Toupou’s defense, HM should have discussed such an edit before spending so much time on it because it was in fact not in compliance of the article standards. Nonetheless, this doesn’t free Toupou of his responsibility for ‘undoing’ what he should’ve brought to discussion first, instead of jumping the gun.
For the record, Toupou at that time and at the present, is but a chat-moderator and not an administrator. As such, he was not acting in any great authority to do so. In fact, were he an administrator, wiki’s policy has this to say no matter the actual status of his user rights.
Deleting useful content. A page may be written poorly, yet still have a purpose. Consider what a sentence or paragraph tries to say. Clarify it instead of throwing it away. If the material seems wrongly categorized, or out of place, consider moving the wayward material to another page, or creating a new page for it. If you need to remove potentially useful content, it is usually best to move it to the discussion page. The author of the text once thought it valuable, so it is polite to preserve it for later discussion.
Long story short, what Toupou did was technically against even wiki’s own policy. In case you missed it, wiki’s policies overrule any moderator, administrator, sysop, bureaucrat, or founder here. What’s most interesting about this is the fact that nobody brought this up on Spewgen or in the comment section of the blog posted in the aftermath. Correct me if I am wrong. I honestly believe that we would have looked at the entire issue differently if that would have been brought to everyone’s attention at the time. Nonetheless, the damage has been done and all we can do is discuss this and be wary of making a similar mistake in the future.
While I’m on the subject of wiki policies, I want to entertain my readers with this. Here’s another excerpt from that very same page.
Don't get annoyed if you find some bad articles. Wikias are works in progress; please tolerate our imperfection, and help us improve. There are a lot of smart people editing Wikia communities, and everyone finds they have something to contribute. The best response to a bad page is to fix it!
So if you really want to help, get involved. At least that’s a thought. (You don’t have to say it. I can already hear the laughter in response to “a lot of smart people”)
Many of these reforms outlined here are mere suggestions. Ideally, these will help facilitate a more focused discussion on what can be done. I accept that some or even many of my suggestions may be rejected. No matter, that shouldn’t stop me from laying them out and the same ought to apply to you if you have any ideas. Just keep in mind that we have to be careful about how ambitious we are about these changes. It is better to change a little at a time rather than to make any sweeping reforms all at once.
Animations vs. Still images
As we know, there are some inherent advantages to utilizing still images instead of animated .gifs. For those that don’t know, that advantage is a smaller file size. The difference between animations and still images will sometimes exceed a factor of 10. Some of our site visitors may use anything from an android device or a Nintendo DS, to an outdated computer. I have mentioned this to others before, but the Mario article crashes my tablet browser when it fully loads. (There is actually quite a bit that can be discussed about this article in particular, but I won’t spend any more time on it in this blog.)
Despite the difference in file sizes, I stand in favor of the use of animated images. However, I believe that we may need to use those animations more sparingly. I’m aware that Spewgen touched on this subject. However, I am advocating a more intermediary approach that would allow us a much more smooth transition, rather than to scrap a majority of what we have done here already.
Some examples of how this may be done:
1.We could implement animations strictly for unique cases and still images for those cases when the move may be a redundancy. For example, see Link. Even with different versions, the boomerang attack looks essentially the same. Do we really need each of those to be animations? Another examples of this is the Doctor_Doom article. Many of those versions are quite similar. Yet, there are distinct differences which include different molecular shield animations and slightly different art styles for the projectiles. Something that does not change is the all too familiar Doom sprite-rip that each version implements.
2.Another idea would be to only use animations with hypers. The logic behind this suggestion is the fact that hypers typically are more complex and dynamic than the average special. In addition, many similar versions may include a unique hyper. This change alone would cut the use of animations roughly in half. Even if not strictly enforced, we could advocate a policy that places higher priority for animations on hypers.
3.Another potential policy would be to only use animations for a select few versions. Let us choose an arbitrary number such as 3. So, if implemented we would only animate the specials and hypers for 3 versions of a characters, and any other version that followed after would simply use still .png images. How we actually select those 3(or however many) versions would be up for debate. It is likely that they would be either the most unique/original versions or the best versions.
Of course the other alternative would be what Spewgen suggests: to scrap the animations altogether and stick with those still “in action” images instead.
My first question is: are command normals officially banned from being documented on the site with no exceptions?
If they are indeed banned, I see this as a bit extreme as a measure. While I understand that command normals may simply be overlooked by many visitors, I can see their place in certain character articles such as Dhalsim or Noroko as Ricepigeon has pointed out. As mentioned above, I am also aware of the importance of article uniformity. So it would pose a potential new problem if the inclusion of command normals became required for all articles.
Plas has rightfully presented some of the challenges of posting command normals for all articles. From his comment on this post.
Not all creators have extensive movelist readmes with their characters. Command normals have no specific attribute, so there's no real way to tell.
The first sentence points to an all too real problem. Many characters don’t even have English readme, let alone one that lists the command normals. This would potentially force editors to have to go in and figure out the command normals and/or scan the .cmd file and hope that the command normals they find are worth mentioning. Specials and Hypers are comparatively easier to find, even without a readme.
The second quote points to the fact that command normals lack the extra layer of verification that those mentioned Specials and Hypers possess. There is hardly anything to distinguish a regular punch or kick from a command normal aside from what Spewgen pointed out here. The author of this post agrees with the popularly accepted definition of a command normal, “a direction plus a command”. If we also accept this definition, then it would possibly simplify the process. However, I am sure that there are further issues being left out that others more knowledgeable about this can weigh in about. MugenLab is certainly relevant to this conversation.
Why not cite sources? The only potential problem I see is that this practice may be inconsistently followed. It could take months to sort out, for the simple fact that many articles have already been made. To properly cite all of them would likely require a series of rewriting and reworking articles. We would also again be making the edit process more burdensome if we make it a requirement for all articles. However, in this case, I think that burden would be minimal as we are already using sources to write the articles now.
If sources were cited more often, we’d likely have a sharp reduction in plagiarism as the would be editor would in effect be revealing evidence of the copy-paste. Another advantage of citing sources is that we convenience our readers by allowing them to find out non-mugen information about a character simply by clicking another link in some cases.
The most obvious advantage of citing sources is that we improve the site’s credibility.
On the subject of site perception, this suggestion is technically unenforceable. However, it can and should be highly encouraged for all users on the wiki. One of our goals should be to spend more time documenting ‘decent’ quality characters rather than those that may be severely incomplete or of poorer quality. We cannot avoid the fact that as this is the prevailing wiki for mugen, we actually have both the opportunity and the responsibility to showcase mugen in its best light. I encourage all editors to seek out those better quality creations, although barring those that are explicitly adult-oriented, we cannot truly forbid any completed stage or character. In other words, we should be seeking a favorable balance while placing priority on highlighting the best of the best for mugen.
Whether you have read merely a section or two, or have read the entire blog, I thank you for your time. If there is anything unclear in the above writing, please comment and I will be sure to respond and/or update it with *and # indicating the change, for future reference.