I'd like to show my thoughts on the underlying aims of Pokemon as a game, those which the Characteristics of a Desirable Pokemon Metagame themselves could be based upon. Here is the log of a conversation with Doug about them:
Irrelevant parts (mostly join/part messages) have been edited out and minor spelling mistakes have been fixed for ease of reading.
If you're not sure about reading it all then skip down to the first underlined part where I bring up my main point.
[20:25] <DougJustDoug> I also would like to hear what Jumpman thinks about broadening the rules for discussion/debate on the metagame.
[20:26] <DougJustDoug> Because, right now we only have the Uber Characteristics
[20:26] <DougJustDoug> And those don't apply to anything other than Pokemon
[20:27] <DougJustDoug> So, we can't really use that to discuss other concepts (like clauses, moves, mechanics, etc)
[20:27] <ete> I did have a thread planned "On non-Pokemon suspects" but it ended up being a lower priority than several other things, and i had exams, so..
[20:28] <ete> I'd love to give discussions a solid base
[20:28] <DougJustDoug> And I'd really like to see us use the same kind of rigor used in discussing Pokemon
[20:28] <ete> otherwise the clause testing is going to be a nightmare
[20:28] <ete> and the Juice test in LC
[20:28] <DougJustDoug> Our process is by no means perfect -- but the Uber Characteristics have done a decent job of focusing pokemon suspect discussions
[20:29] <ete> mhm
[20:29] <DougJustDoug> I'd like that same level of focus across the board.
[20:29] <DougJustDoug> And, we need to generalize the concepts of "Uber" anyway
[20:29] <aldaron> my main issue is simply that they focus on power in general, not power in what we determine we want in the metagame
[20:29] <ete> Ideally, we would come up with something from which we could derive the Uber characteristics, or at least see why they work reasonably well.
[20:30] <DougJustDoug> Using the "Uber characteristics" for BL discussions -- is difficult for newcomers to grok
[20:30] <aldaron> which brings about the issue of me being unable to vote salamence / latias uber but completely not wanting either in a metagame that promotes skill (skillful switching)
[20:31] <DougJustDoug> I can see that argument Aldaron. And I think there is a very valid argument there
[20:32] <DougJustDoug> I don't know what argument is "best" aldaron -- but I'd like us to have ground rules to let both sides "fight it out"
[20:33] <DougJustDoug> Right now, there is just too much "unsaid stuff" in our policy. Unsaid on both sides of every argument.
[20:34] <ete> If we are going to be having a Skill characteristic it'd be good to get down on paper what exactly counts as skill in Pokemon. Prediction is thought by many to be "glorified guessing", but some consider it a skill. Other than that there is just analytical thought and team building.
[20:35] <DougJustDoug> If we end up having detailed discussions on each characteristic -- that would be a major part of the discussion, I would think
[20:35] <DougJustDoug> ^of Skill, that is
[20:35] <ete> Good players are undoubtedly better at prediction, but a poor player could easily overturn that by using a RNG
[20:36] <ete> I know that some people actually do that on ladder when facing a top player
[20:36] <ete> just assign a rough % to each choice, and ask a website to chose their move.
[20:36] <DougJustDoug> Although, the "Skill" characteristic was intended more to drive how we "reward and recognize success" than how we regulate play.
[20:37] <ete> mhm
[20:37] <DougJustDoug> Many people read my thread, and thought it was all about banning pokemon, and making clauses.
[20:37] <ete> like, ladder and tournament setup?
[20:38] <ete> and the rewards for doing well in either
[20:38] <ete> (I was one of those people)
[20:38] <DougJustDoug> I was referring to the entire metagame -- how we do ratings, organize tournaments, etc -- those are part of the metagame, and are deeply connected to the question 'What metagame do we want?"
[20:40] <DougJustDoug> And some of the characteristics eliminate some occurrences that many people assume "Could never happen" -- but they could. And if we are making base rules, they need to cover all that "ridiculous stuff".
[20:40] <RB-Golbat> i.e. the sleep clause colin wrote
[20:41] <ete> especially with gen 5 on the horizon, and nintendo's inclination to make huge mechanics changes..
[20:41] <DougJustDoug> Who knows what could come up -- something ridiculous now, could be very plausible in a year.
[20:44] <DougJustDoug> One of my techniques when thinking of characteristics, was to come up with some really ridiculous "Noob suggestions". The type of thing that people would all agreed "Get the fuck out of here".
[20:44] <DougJustDoug> If the noob responded "Why is my suggestion unacceptable?" -- I wanted the characteristics to cover it, and have a reason to back it up. And no, when writing rules like this "No stupid shit -- because we say so." is not acceptable, IMO.
[20:44] <ete> exactly
[20:45] <ete> Which is where the simplicity thing comes in. "lets unban Lv. 78 Mewtwo" is something that we don't have a solid answer to, other than "lol"
[20:45] <DougJustDoug> So, if some user says "I think the metagame should add +200 to every users rating if they have a good username" -- then we have criteria that explain why that is crap.
[20:46] <ete> heh
[20:46] <DougJustDoug> The uber characteristics don't cover that.
[20:46] <ete> yea
[20:46] <DougJustDoug> Competitive covers that immediately
[20:46] <ete> though, I think even with great base principles to argue with I think that would be answered with a trip to trou not arguments.
[20:47] <DougJustDoug> Technically you could argue the username bullshit and say that "Adherence" allows it BTW
[20:47] <DougJustDoug> Name Rater ftw
[20:47] <DougJustDoug> I'm being silly -- but you get my point
[20:48] <DougJustDoug> Who knows what is "ridiculous" or not
[20:48] <ete> sure
[20:48] <ete> it's best to be able to prove it
[20:48] <ete> but smogon will still probably just laugh at some people
[20:48] <ete> maybe that's not a good thing
[20:48] <ete> but it'll take a while for that to change much
[20:50] <DougJustDoug> <+ete> Which is where the simplicity thing comes in. "lets unban Lv. 78 Mewtwo" is something that we don't have a solid answer to, other than "lol"
[20:51] <Teifu> there's a slippery slope element of that too
[20:51] <ete> we could say it's not practical to test it at all levels
[20:51] <DougJustDoug> I want to rework Efficiency or replace it entirely -- with a charateristic that covers this stuff
[20:51] <Teifu> if i can balance x uber to be sort of balanced at 78 why wouldnt we just make them like 12 instead
[20:51] <Teifu> make all the current ou 50
[20:51] <Teifu> make all the uu 75 etc and just let all the pokemon duke it out !
[20:51] <ete> But they could just say "unban it at a lower level, where it's clearly not a problem"
[20:52] <DougJustDoug> Simplicity is hard though -- because I could ask the question "Level 78 for Kyogre to be acceptable -- how complicated is that? No more complicated than the ten million other rules and clauses in place already."
[20:52] <ete> I think that a lot of the characteristics can be boiled down to a simple two, "make the game fun" "make the game non-arbitrary"
[20:53] <DougJustDoug> Im pretty adamantly in the camp that "fun" is irrelevant in the metagame context.
[20:53] <ete> It's not hugely complicated, but one you start messing with levels then you have to find the exact point where the balance tips, and you could have things like "take scizor down a couple of levels"
[20:53] <ete> I consider competitive games to be fun
[20:53] <ete> That's why people play them
[20:54] <DougJustDoug> Well, you like to win.
[20:54] <ete> yes, you play to win
[20:54] <ete> But you play to win because you like to win
[20:54] <ete> because it's "fun"
[20:54] <ete> it's a few levels down
[20:54] <DougJustDoug> But, using words like "fun" in our rules opens the door for people to want ratings increased for making good pokemon nicknames.
[20:54] <ete> but it is still there
[20:54] <DougJustDoug> That may be "fun" -- but not competitive at all
[20:55] <ete> I don't think many people would find that anything like as fun as the kind of game we play now, and the other side "non-arbitrary" coves it nicely.
[20:56] <ete> Something like that would be supremely arbitrary
[20:56] <ete> and at best would be a laugh for a few days
[20:56] <DougJustDoug> That's true
[20:57] <ete> The game needs to be fun in order for people to play it, but it can be fun because it is intellectually challenging not because its "fun pretty colors" in a more childish sense.
[20:57] <DougJustDoug> Yeah, now that I think about it. All the characteristics do boil down to providing an appealing non-arbitrary Pokemon metagame.
[20:58] <ete> appealing is probably a better word than fun
[20:59] <DougJustDoug> Well, many of the reasons in the characteristics refer to having a large player base.
[20:59] <DougJustDoug> Which is "having a broad appeal"
[20:59] <ete> mhm
[21:00] <DougJustDoug> And in one of the first characteristics I mentioned the reason that a broad appeal is a good thing
[21:01] <ete> The level of characteristics which you were dealing with is needed for general discussions, but to find which are good we could do with something to work from.
[21:01] <ete> and I think that non-arbitrary+appealing makes sense
[21:02] <DougJustDoug> Yeah, each of those would need to be refined into some more concrete discussion rules. Like how Uber Characteristics narrow the discussion of Balance for specific Pokemon
[21:02] <ete> sure
[21:03] <DougJustDoug> And the characteristics themselves could use a single "mission statement" overall. Non-arbitrary + appealing is a good basis for that statement.
[21:07] <ete> mhm, I like how they balance eachother out (or at least argue in opposite directions) in many situations. For example, allowing low level ubers would be fun and many make more options, but it would allow a huge amount of arbitrariness in. "exactly how low level do they need to be in order to be fair" leads to impracticality, and "level x is clearly not broken, it may be fair at higher levels...
[21:07] <ete> ...but oh well" is arbitrary.
[21:08] <ete> Maybe adding that it needs to be practical would be a good idea
I think that the one thing that is almost indisputable is that we want Competitive Pokemon to be a widely played game, from a rulechangers perspective this is achieved by improving the game. By making it more "Appealing
" to players. This does not mean losing any of the competitiveness which Smogon strives for, or decreasing the skill element, by any means. Those two factors are arguably the biggest draws for almost all of our players. Just because we would aim to make the game more appealing does not mean we would resort to gimmicks like the one Doug suggested as an extreme example. "Lets give people point on ladder for good nicknames" would be extremely counter-productive to the lasting appealingness of the game to a vast majority of players, and whatever Smogon's leadership in the future becomes will realize this.
However appealingness on it's own has certain problems, it does not address points such as sticking to game mechanics exactly (for example not implementing the acid weather glitch would be pretty popular with many players) or prevent convoluted, but possibly appealing, rulesets like the "unban low level Ubers". As a counter-balance I suggest that we aim to construct a metagame that also minimizes (but not eliminates, as that is effectively impossible) arbitrariness
. This includes minimizing arbitrariness in terms of mechanics implementation, ruleset, ladder and external to battle parts of the metagame design, and any testing procedure.
I think that all of the ideas for Characteristics of a Desirable Metagame so far mentioned in this thread can be quite directly based on one or both of these principles, and that they can be useful tools to allow us to decide on the specifics of what we want from this game.
And to each of the other posts, it's impressive how much has been written with such high content density. Brilliant walls of text.