Process Update Filling the gap: CAP Post-Play Lookback

GMars

It's ya boy GEEEEEEEEMARS
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Intro

Hi all, I'm GMars, here with a proposal that hopefully isn't too controversial. The CAP metagame exists as a tool or a mechanism by which we can evaluate how well we understood and executed the concept during the process. However, this ability isn't utilized in the current CAP process, and there's a distinct divide between process and metagame that we've recently been trying to bridge. To that end, and most importantly to improve the way we learn from making our Pokemon, I'm proposing a new CAP stage, a "post-play lookback." This stage is meant to occur after the CAP community has had the chance to play with the creation for a while and really understand how different process decisions have played into fulfilling the concept and achieving the goals that were set up in Concept Assessment.

Everything I propose here can easily be modified to fit with the community's desires/expectations, whether that be timeline, who leads the stage, etc.

Stage Flow

- Stage timeline: My initial thoughts are that this stage should occur approximately one month to a month and a half after the CAP is released. This gives enough time to: play with the Pokemon, let any initial reactions to the Pokemon whether positive or negative go by the wayside, and for community members to come to a well-formed opinion of the creation, its imapct, and its success or failings with regards to the concept. This stage shouldn't be too long after the release however, both out of courtesy to the TL's and to ensure that learnings can be implemented in the next CAP process (as well as preventing process overlap, being a good warm-up stage for the next CAP to come).

- Stage leader: The TL. This stage must be led by the team that made the CAP, not the meta council, to ensure that process-vision is maintained and to keep the stage focused on community opinion.

- Part One: The stage begins with a discussion of what we've learned through the process, which even from the final product thread is a piece of CAP that is sorely missing. This is a discussion with the community led by the TL of successes, shortcomings, the interesting, and the unexpected.

- Part Two: Community-submitted final tweaking. This must be a community-focused event through discussions, submissions, and through voting. Currently, changes to existing creations aside from updates are left unilaterally to the meta council, relying solely on discussions rather than voting. The council should still exist to make smart changes to keep the CAP meta enjoyable, but there exists a gap in the community elements of CAP and the process of the meta council. This stage seeks to bridge this gap by having the community create and vote on minor tweaks at the end of the CAP process, both to keep the community involved in battles with their creations and to ensure the CAP meta stays fun and balanced with each new addition.

-- What is a minor tweak?
--- A minor tweak should not invalidate a prior stage. Possible minor tweaks could consist of: Slight changes to stat points, a single move, a slated option of "no changes." (Point for discussion: Secondary Abilities - if they overshadow the primary ability or are ultimately found to be unhealthy in their interactions with the primary, is this a minor tweak or is this too large for such a section? Would it invalidate the secondary ability stage?)

-- What is a major tweak, which should not be made?
--- Changes too major which should NOT be made: Typing, primary ability, large stat chunks, multiple moves, etc.


Common Q&A

Q: Doesn't this mean the final product isn't final anymore?
A: Yes, this is a minor semantics issue which can be addressed. "Final" products have not been final since CAP updates were introduced and since the meta council was created.

Q: Should this stage be done for CAP 26?
A: That is left up to the discretion of the community and the moderators.

Q: Should tweaks be made towards fulfilling concept or towards improving the enjoyability of the metagame?
A: Edits should be made only to address an existing issue - if the creation is not fulfilling its concept, after discussing and logging why, edits can be suggested and slated in that direction. If the creation is having a negative impact on the metagame, then edits can instead be discussed and slated in that direction. If both are occurring, then it's likely that both are stemming from the same issue and can be addressed. If there are no issues in either area, then the option of no changes should be slated and voted on.

Q: Why do we need this test period when we have the test server, isn't that basically the same?
A: Real experience in the meta paints a much clearer picture of the Pokemon. Many, many times more battles happen once the CAP is released than in the initial testing period.

Q: Why should we bother with this stage when we have the nerfing process?
A: Aside from logging what we've learned, it's also important that any early changes be a fully community-based process to really incorporate them into the Creation of the Pokemon. The nerfing process keeps the metagame fun and playable, helping to bring more people into CAP from across the site, but making something and then shortly after having a council trim elements from it rather than the community takes away from the community-created aspect of each Pokemon.

Q: Will the existence of the stage cause TLT's to act more freely in creating higher-powered Pokemon with the knowledge that they could simply tone them back later?
A: No, as changes available in this stage are restricted to being minor by nature, TLT's should not be acting more freely in creating higher-powered Pokemon, and they should always be striving to make the most balanced and fun Pokemon possible to accomplish a chosen concept.

Conclusion

This new stage seeks to fill in two areas the current CAP process and community lacks: A dedicated time to discuss and log what we've learned through the process, and involving the community more in battle-focused tweaks. Hopefully, this is not a controversial proposal. This is a small change to the CAP process that can result in improving each process going forward.
 
I like this idea a lot, but think it will be very polarizing. "This is why we dont have a buffing process."

A few questions that might arise: when implemented, will only new CAPs be allowed to be reviewed in this way, or will we look back at CAPs of interest, OR will we review all CAPs? For example, since Libra was the most recent CAP, would we only focus on that project? Or could we jump back to the starters and Bao? OR (for the memes) look at Voodoom and Mala?

Also, would we have to wait a few projects out before looking back? The new mon always gets high usage before falling off. Are these edits only for viability in the current meta at a given moment or is it intended to give it a lasting viability?

It just feels like the buffs argument all over again. I would like a buffs process but it will surely get vetoed by those with higher authority.
 

GMars

It's ya boy GEEEEEEEEMARS
is a member of the Site Staffis a Battle Simulator Administratoris a Super Moderatoris a Community Contributoris a CAP Contributoris a Top Contributoris a Smogon Media Contributoris a Social Media Contributor Alumnus
PS Admin
I like this idea a lot, but think it will be very polarizing. "This is why we dont have a buffing process."

A few questions that might arise: when implemented, will only new CAPs be allowed to be reviewed in this way, or will we look back at CAPs of interest, OR will we review all CAPs? For example, since Libra was the most recent CAP, would we only focus on that project? Or could we jump back to the starters and Bao? OR (for the memes) look at Voodoom and Mala?

Also, would we have to wait a few projects out before looking back? The new mon always gets high usage before falling off. Are these edits only for viability in the current meta at a given moment or is it intended to give it a lasting viability?

It just feels like the buffs argument all over again. I would like a buffs process but it will surely get vetoed by those with higher authority.
Thank you for asking these questions. To answer them:

I feel only new CAPs should be reviewed this way. A new part of the process should only affect processes going forward. Only so many members of the community from back when old CAPs were made are still around, and they've significantly changed from their original creations already with updates and the like.

Edits are not buffs. If a mon is not extremely viable in the moment, it's irrelevant so long as when it is used it generally fulfills its concept.
Q: Should tweaks be made towards fulfilling concept or towards improving the enjoyability of the metagame?
A: Edits should be made only to address an existing issue - if the creation is not fulfilling its concept, after discussing and logging why, edits can be suggested and slated in that direction. If the creation is having a negative impact on the metagame, then edits can instead be discussed and slated in that direction. If both are occurring, then it's likely that both are stemming from the same issue and can be addressed. If there are no issues in either area, then the option of no changes should be slated and voted on.
The questions that I've presented so far are: does it generally fulfill its concept when used, and does its existence place undue strain on the meta, even after the meta has had time to adapt. My ideal timeline was doing this stage right before the next CAP starts, so about a month to a month and a half generally, to act as a good warm up stage while putting a bow on the old CAP without encountering process overlap. Too long and you forget chunks of the process, too short and you're weighed down by initial reactions that are too guttural and a lack of real play experience. I am very open to changing this timeline should the community want, these are just my first-round thoughts on the matter.
 
Well theres a few things that I would like to step in and talk about, and I'll just go in order of what you've brought up here.

Timeframe:

This is just a small personal one, you could push it to two months? The more time the better, as it gives us more opportunity to learn and adapt to things so we can better discuss. Its not like the TL Team are going anywhere, as they're generally vital members of the community, and on top of this, there is already a down period between creations where we wait anyway.

Leaders:

Going back to what I said above, I do not particularly think the TL and their should be in charge of this if it were decided necessary and beneficial. This, in essence, would be a critique system. I do not think the individuals who made the mon should be in charge of guiding a discussion that critiques their creation, for good and bad. It seems at least to me to be something that could be tampered with, and would propose that surely it could be handled by some of the many qualified upper level cap members who did not lead the process. In the event that we are unable to have this stage, if we so desire, in any other fashion, than, of course, the TL Team would be the option to lead it. Though in this case, I would have them merely start discussion, and have a senior mod guide and end discussion. Senior cap mods would certainly be the optimal choice to lead this, at least in my opinion. They are in the position they are in for a reason, experience and leadership, and this is all about relating the cap to past experiences, and what we have truly taken away from it.

No Tweaks:

In all honesty, this part is ridiculous. We just made the damn thing, and we're working to change it after such a short amount of the time? This certainly goes against the two previous precedents we have in place, which I will bring up. Kerfluffle during the CAP Updates and Plasmanta during those same updates. Kerfluffle was not able to have any real changes done to it during those updates, as it has just been created. So now we would make tweaks to the mon apart of it after we just spent months making it? Plasmanta and Volt Switch would be the other example, in that, volt switch was chosen not to be added despite the number of electric types that learn the move due to specific decisions made by the the team who made plasmanta and how recently it had been made in relation to those updates. Changing a mon a month after we made it, at least to me, seems to go against those two precedents. If we wish to change something despite what the team who made it decided on, that is something we should address directly. Going against the past is never something we've really done. We have great respect for what the teams have made, and to change something they JUST made, seems to go against said respect.

Fairness:

This part is where I'll get into what i'd like to see if this were made into a reality. If we're going to critique what the team made, we should indeed have some respect for the individuals who made it. But that doesn't mean we should butter them up either. If they made mistakes, too optimized, not strong enough, etc. they should certainly not be berated or personally blamed for anything. They are as aware as any others, they made it, and were probably the first to throw it into a competitive environment. It is also important to realize these two things, the TL is not the one who you sweep all the blame on, and that the cap community voted for it. At the end of the day, if you have any issues with what is made, it is your own fault as a voter. So if this were to be made, as a member of the community, please be respectful to the creators, its a critique, not a mudslinging competition.

PS: This should still be an opportunity for the users to fairly evaluate the process, but the users must themselves keep things fair. They should certainly not be silenced if this were to come to fruition.

Purpose:

Surely, adding an equivalent "court clerk" stage is fine, if you just wanna write things down, go ahead, nothing wrong with that. However, it does seem a bit pointless if you ask me. The people who constantly play and innovate understand what the mon does do and does not do, and are surely aware of what they learned and have not learned from the process. The only ones who would be unaware of what has been accomplished and what has truly been learned from creating a mon with a particular concept would be the ones not playing. The people who are most heavily involved in all aspects of cap surely don't need to be told what they already know, and i certainly dont want this to turn into a blame war or something equivalent to "what we really learned." On top of all of this, there is already burnout from process. Many cap users are worn out after months of working on a pokemon, and if it is not entirely necessary, I do not see the point of adding something else for them to do while they try to take a break.

Happy reading.

GMars Today at 12:05 PM
Alright tag me when you post
 

GMars

It's ya boy GEEEEEEEEMARS
is a member of the Site Staffis a Battle Simulator Administratoris a Super Moderatoris a Community Contributoris a CAP Contributoris a Top Contributoris a Smogon Media Contributoris a Social Media Contributor Alumnus
PS Admin
Timeframe:

This is just a small personal one, you could push it to two months? The more time the better, as it gives us more opportunity to learn and adapt to things so we can better discuss. Its not like the TL Team are going anywhere, as they're generally vital members of the community, and on top of this, there is already a down period between creations where we wait anyway.
Sure.

Leaders:

Going back to what I said above, I do not particularly think the TL and their should be in charge of this if it were decided necessary and beneficial. This, in essence, would be a critique system. I do not think the individuals who made the mon should be in charge of guiding a discussion that critiques their creation, for good and bad. It seems at least to me to be something that could be tampered with, and would propose that surely it could be handled by some of the many qualified upper level cap members who did not lead the process. In the event that we are unable to have this stage, if we so desire, in any other fashion, than, of course, the TL Team would be the option to lead it. Though in this case, I would have them merely start discussion, and have a senior mod guide and end discussion. Senior cap mods would certainly be the optimal choice to lead this, at least in my opinion. They are in the position they are in for a reason, experience and leadership, and this is all about relating the cap to past experiences, and what we have truly taken away from it.

No Tweaks:

In all honesty, this part is ridiculous. We just made the damn thing, and we're working to change it after such a short amount of the time? This certainly goes against the two previous precedents we have in place, which I will bring up. Kerfluffle during the CAP Updates and Plasmanta during those same updates. Kerfluffle was not able to have any real changes done to it during those updates, as it has just been created. So now we would make tweaks to the mon apart of it after we just spent months making it? Plasmanta and Volt Switch would be the other example, in that, volt switch was chosen not to be added despite the number of electric types that learn the move due to specific decisions made by the the team who made plasmanta and how recently it had been made in relation to those updates. Changing a mon a month after we made it, at least to me, seems to go against those two precedents. If we wish to change something despite what the team who made it decided on, that is something we should address directly. Going against the past is never something we've really done. We have great respect for what the teams have made, and to change something they JUST made, seems to go against said respect.
These “precedents” miss the key issue at hand with the new system. Since the TL will be leading discussion or at least initiating it and having senior leadership cap it off based off your earlier comment, then the team that made the CAP is continuing to make the CAP. Discussing and addressing the issues and accepting the criticism as a member of the TLT allows you to work towards bettering the creation you made with a minor polish. This is not “changing something despite what the team who made it decided on,” this is the team who made it hearing community feedback and releasing a patch that the community wants. A game and the core heart of a game are not destroyed when a developer releases a patch, the game just gets better.

Fairness:

This part is where I'll get into what i'd like to see if this were made into a reality. If we're going to critique what the team made, we should indeed have some respect for the individuals who made it. But that doesn't mean we should butter them up either. If they made mistakes, too optimized, not strong enough, etc. they should certainly not be berated or personally blamed for anything. They are as aware as any others, they made it, and were probably the first to throw it into a competitive environment. It is also important to realize these two things, the TL is not the one who you sweep all the blame on, and that the cap community voted for it. At the end of the day, if you have any issues with what is made, it is your own fault as a voter. So if this were to be made, as a member of the community, please be respectful to the creators, its a critique, not a mudslinging competition.

PS: This should still be an opportunity for the users to fairly evaluate the process, but the users must themselves keep things fair. They should certainly not be silenced if this were to come to fruition.
Agreed.

Purpose:

Surely, adding an equivalent "court clerk" stage is fine, if you just wanna write things down, go ahead, nothing wrong with that. However, it does seem a bit pointless if you ask me. The people who constantly play and innovate understand what the mon does do and does not do, and are surely aware of what they learned and have not learned from the process. The only ones who would be unaware of what has been accomplished and what has truly been learned from creating a mon with a particular concept would be the ones not playing. The people who are most heavily involved in all aspects of cap surely don't need to be told what they already know, and i certainly dont want this to turn into a blame war or something equivalent to "what we really learned." On top of all of this, there is already burnout from process. Many cap users are worn out after months of working on a pokemon, and if it is not entirely necessary, I do not see the point of adding something else for them to do while they try to take a break.
This one baffles me. It’s important to log what you’ve learned from playing so the people who don’t play or weren’t involved in the CAP process two years ago have a quick, easy resource to go to for reference rather than trying to pick up clues about what happened to a mon from reading through entire processes, even if they already have some play experience with it. With respect to burnout, with the modified timeline there’s two months of break before a short stage that gets you warmed up for the next CAP. The votes from the people who constantly play and innovate are exactly equal to the votes from those who are solely involved in the process. If you provide the info for people to access or at least point to while making their arguments in the process, each process gets a little more informed about potential pitfalls and the CAP community can actually learn along the way.
 
As part of the lead up to Gen 8 I thought I'd throw in some more thoughts about this process. I think it's also helpful to do so now considering we have in effect had what is now the rough timeline that Gmars is presenting occur with Equilibra. Admittedly I haven't been involved formally in CAP for quite some time, but as a former lurker, and recent addition, I can say that one of the best aspects of CAP outside of the creation stage is coming back to a former CAP and thinking about it in detail. Ultimately I think our CAPS are like aged wine or cheese, and can be appreciated only really after a set period of time. Equilibra in particular which ran as a very smooth process has had, if I may so as a relative novice to the CAP metagame, and having not done particular well in the playtest, a very polarising reaction, and one of the most controversial immediate impacts on the metagame in CAP's history. Something that I think may have been able to be accounted for slightly better with Gmars' outlined reflection period here.

I really love the idea of Part One: Formal Reflection for some of the reasons I've mentioned above. Ultimately, since CAP is a learning process, reflection seems like a natural important lesson. While a lot of the designers and CAP participants will no doubt reflect on the process themselves, doing so in a structured setting that formally addresses design elements could lead to some very interesting positions to be taken up, and lessons for future CAPs. For example, following the CAP 25 Starter Framework, it seems fairly common knowledge that the idea of tackling three caps simultaneously is no longer seen as a feasible or enjoyable premise, and there has been much discussion about whether or not Smokomodo is a bit of a dud in the sense that its best sets don't even fit the concept of Ability Actualisation. Nevertheless, for new CAP members this isn't really something that a lot of people may immediately understand without getting into some rather lengthy and subjective discussions on Discord. Being able to point to a formal reflection thread that outlined the pitfalls, issues, and some possible solutions for the future just seems like a no-brainer to me, and would be a great way of getting new members caught up to speed with the design philosophies of CAP.

Now Part Two: Community Submitted Final Tweaking, initially struck me as quite a controversial idea and not one that I really wanted to see. That being said, having seen Equilibra's nerfing process come into effect in more or less the same time period as Gmars has raised, effectively running as a tweaking stage anyway, I'm now far less against it, and if anything encouraged by it. I think Equilibra was an exciting CAP to design, and one that on paper seemed hard to evaluate. Did it get overtuned? Absolutely. But before it could have too toxic of an impact of the metagame, a quick nerf process made it a far more balanced and interesting Pokemon that maintained its niche and brought it to a more acceptable power level. While this stage may seem a bit redundant considering the nerfing process already exists, I think it can actually work in tandem with it quite well, effectively simulating the early stages of the nerf thread where decisions about what nerf options should be considered. The logistics will need to be ironed out a bit, but effectively the tweak stage could be a place to discuss whether the CAP needs a buff, nerf or no further action, with a final vote of sorts, that then leads into the following action avenues. I personally think this makes the process a little bit more democratic, and can again make it more easily communicated why the process for nerfs is being invoked, etc.

While buffs are inherently a controversial choice, I think allowing the possibility of minor tweaks in power level following the release of a new CAP that turns out to be a dud for whatever reason, is actually as valuable a learning opportunity as not taking action. We can as a community clearly say that we learnt a lot from the starter process, and identified some of the clear mistakes that were made with Smokomodo and Snaelstrom who quickly fell down into low usage. Now of course almost a year on from that we have seen both Pokemon fluctuate in viability a fair bit and have moments of high usage which is fantastic, but this may not always be the case, as we know with CAPs such as Plasmanta and Malaconda who have never really been particularly viable. In this case, there is no opportunity for further learning with these CAPs which in some senses feels a bit like a missed opportunity. Of course I think a buffing process would have to be incredibly structured, and may ultimately not be worth the hassle, since it does open a bit of a pandora's box of 'where is the appropriate power level' to leave the Pokemon at, if a buff turns it from say D tier to S somehow, where does it get nerfed back to?

In any case, I think at the very least a formal opportunity to reflect on the created CAP would be a great asset to the community, and one way in which to garner great responses is to have the possibility of tweaking available to the community.
 
Part One: This is a stage of the process which currently takes place mostly informally, and it would be good to make it available to participants of the CAP project who aren't part of discord channels or showdown discussions, because the final result in the context of the project is as important to the future of the CAP as most of the design stages. It would also provide a better way for newer participants to look back on past projects to learn from them than merely reading the Final Product or laboriously reading through process threads.

Part Two: As a person very much attached to the community aspect of the CAP project, I'm strongly in favor of (optional) minor tweaks to the created CAPs after some time, because it makes the metagame process of nerfing less likely to be necessary, allows for adaptation to conclusions that become obvious during play, and provides a set of concrete decisions which the first part can gain meaning from. Changes made (or a lack thereof) can be a sign of what the community has learned about Pokemon, about the CAP metagame, and in particular about the completed CAP's concept.

Overall I very much approve of this idea, and I believe the details of the proposal set forth in the OP are exceedingly reasonable.
 

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