This week’s Explorable Favorites (Jul 18)

Posted by Account Deletion {Family Gamer} | 18-Jul-16 | 29 comments

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This Week’s Explorable Games

This round of Explorable Favorites is from BoardGaming.com member Ayden. The games selected from their Favorites shelf were:

These games will be explorable until next Monday, July 25th

Comments (15)

Gamer Avatar
9
Canada
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Plaid Hat Games fan
Platinum Supporter

And this week’s Spotlight goes to a Level 0 Trolalala…

Honestly, with week after week without any acknowledgement and the increased population of ghosties in this here place, perhaps it is time to cut the cord on Explorables and Membership.

According to the Grand Ritual of Explorables as I understand it – two increasingly esoteric games must be chosen from a dwindling mystery checklist of what hasn’t been ‘Explorable’ since inception and then crosschecked with someone who decided to by happenstance fave them.

Seems like a lot of rigamarole – when one can cut out the middleman since they are pretty much a silent partner these days.

For the majority it is only about flying by to slap some buttons and grab XP anyway.

Gamer Avatar
10
Miniature Painter
Expert Advisor
Inventor
Advanced Reviewer

I think that focusing on explorables from active members even if it means repeats is a good idea. Or maybe just using different selection criteria altogether. It should help newer games get more spotlight, and whether we like it or not, this hobby is very much “cult of the new/future”. I imagine it would be easier to find games to feature also.

Gamer Avatar
8
Gamer - Level 8
USA
Gold Supporter

@stratagon – I’m with you. Explorables should come from active, contributing members. This week’s user has a couple of “how u play gaem?” gibberish posts to their name.

Also, can we talk about how every two-bit Kickstarter gets added to the database but something hugely popular like D&D Fifth Edition or A Game of Thrones LCG 2nd Edition still don’t have their own pages?

Gamer Avatar
7
I'm a Real Person
Smash Up Fan
I play yellow
Comic Book Fan

I’ve also been noticing random games becoming explorable, for instance Machi Koro is explorable this week and Splendor was explorable last week. Is there a reason for that?

Gamer Avatar
9
I play black
Guardian Angel
Platinum Supporter
Marquis / Marchioness

Oof… I kicked a hornet’s nest this week!

OK, I’m going to try to address these, and give some transparent behind-the-scenes insight, in chunks rather than spending the next hour typing out a 3,000 word response that few will have the patience to make it through…

(and I agree with everything you all are saying – it’s constructive criticism from some of our most loyal users, which is why I feel you deserve transparency)

Gamer Avatar
9
I play black
Guardian Angel
Platinum Supporter
Marquis / Marchioness

Starting with explorables:

I commented some time around August or September of 2015 that finding users to feature each week was getting harder and harder, and laid out my process for selection at that time. @Hai’s pretty much hit it on the head with her “Grand Ritual of Explorables” paragraph. My focus was always active users – until maybe 2 months ago all users featured had logged in some time over the weekend prior to being selected. Like you all, I want the selected users to feel rewarded and lead a discussion on what makes these games special to them.

However, many of these users – who had just logged in hours before being selected – never said a word. It disappoints me every week, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I’ve even seen active users like you all mislabel some of these users as “dead accounts” or “ghosts” the week they’re featured, without realizing they logged in daily to log plays – but just chose not to comment. I felt weird publicly outing them by replying in the comments that they’re on and logging plays, so I just said nothing.

In any event, around 2 months ago I had to change my selection criteria anyway. Now might be the appropriate time for a background on how I came to be Content Manager here and why things may seem neglected…

Gamer Avatar
9
I play black
Guardian Angel
Platinum Supporter
Marquis / Marchioness

I started volunteering with Jim in November 2014, adding games to the site and reviewing them. We hit it off quickly and became close friends, and in January or February of 2015 he asked if I would take over as Content Manager. I was thrilled and had a bunch of ideas that I thought would be great for the site, starting with unboxing videos and featured publishers. But also at that time I was promoted at my day job – a long-planned promotion that took an eternity to get finalized, but happened to kick in January 2015.

I thought I could do both forever – my day job, which I’d mastered at keeping to 40 hours a week, and a content producer and overseer for the only website I love which needed 30 hours minimum weekly and 40 hours to do well. And for a while I could – 70 hour work weeks have been a way of life for me since my mid-20s as a public accounting auditor.

Well, it turned out that my shiny new role at the day job had a much more cumbersome job description than I was expecting, and after a kind of probationary period ended in August 2015 it became clear they needed 60 to 80 hours a week of my time… permanently. Broken-heartedly I turned the lights off on Featured Publisher and unboxing videos, but I committed to Jim to keep the staples of the site – explorables, WAYPTW, Kickstarter, and – hopefully – game additions going on my own. The trick was that I needed to do all of these things in under 5 hours a week, lest I get fired from the job that pays me or have my doctor finally make good on those threats to put me on hardcore blood pressure and anxiety treatment.

I got a reprieve from @Jeff W having his time free up to add more games (and recently @Chris has joined the game adding team – be sure to show him some love), but explorables were taking longer and longer. To find a user with 2 usable games by my old ruleset was taking up to 3 hours – I would end up getting that done by noon PST but having to stay in the office until 10pm or 11pm to compensate. I didn’t love that, so I switched to my current system… which is “select the first account I see that has 2 unexplored games on their favorites shelf”.

Gamer Avatar
9
I play black
Guardian Angel
Platinum Supporter
Marquis / Marchioness

So from here I can honestly do whatever you all want.

I can ignore my minimum-review limit of 2, and select games that have no content. We have had users complain about this in the past, but at the least it would keep ************* and @1HuNox busy!

I can select already-explored games. We have had users complain about this in the past, and obviously XP farmers aren’t going to like it.

I can select already-explored users. I don’t think anybody will have a problem with this now, and I’ve already started it (@The Schaef was picked for a second time a few weeks ago – I didn’t check to see that he/she hadn’t logged in for over 2 years, probably should have passed on that one).

I can ignore users all-together and just pick games that haven’t been explored. This is the only way to get back to the days where every game chosen for exploration has 10+ reviews and 5+ tips.

I’m open to suggestions.

Gamer Avatar
9
I play black
Guardian Angel
Platinum Supporter
Marquis / Marchioness

Ha – the asterisk fest is for the dark version of Scully’s partner… no idea why that would be censored…

Gamer Avatar
9
I play black
Guardian Angel
Platinum Supporter
Marquis / Marchioness

About game additions (@TechieMoe’s comment)…

Adding games is a lot of work. As you can imagine, “volunteer” and “a lot of work” don’t really go hand-in-hand, so we rely on a few people to give whatever time they can, when they can, to get games added. We all work off a user request document populated through your submissions in the Game Requests form. But it’s only natural that somebody who has time to add around five games will prioritize games they have, or have an interest in. So of >1,000 unique games requested to be added, the ones that get picked first are the ones of interest to the guy doing the work.

Put yourself in my shoes. Here I have requests for Runebound 3E and Food Chain Magnate, both new games that a lot of people like. I get that Runebound 3E has numerous changes from previous versions and deserves an entry of its own. But Food Chain Magnate has no entry at all. I have enough time to add only one game. I add Food Chain Magnate, because users that want to talk about Runebound 3E can at least use 2E’s discussions page, while there’s no place to discuss FCM. Ideally we’d have the time to add every updated version of a game, but until that day comes I think we’re correct in prioritizing games that are completely absent from the site.

Gamer Avatar
9
I play black
Guardian Angel
Platinum Supporter
Marquis / Marchioness

Whew… @burgerchief’s comment…

Thank you for the catch. This is completely my fault. This week’s explorables mark numbers 337 and 338. I have them all listed in a spreadsheet, along with dates and associated users. I cross-reference this sheet when doing explorables every week… usually up front, but sometimes I get the game completely ready for exploration before checking.

So I found a user with what I thought were two explorable games – Machi Koro and something else – and I got both of them ready. I was about to hit publish when I cross-checked the spreadsheet, and found that Machi Koro had been explored. I usually cross-check first, but sometimes I’m so rushed that I forget until the very end. I had to scrap everything and start over… and in my frustration, apparently left Machi Koro “on”. I actually do this frequently – I found Splendor late last week when I visited the page to log a play and turned it off. This is a product of trying to get explorables done in under 30 minutes each week – a tall order which begets sloppiness.

Fun search time – I probably forgot to turn off the other game as well. Who can find it? (I don’t recall what it was…)

Gamer Avatar
9
USA
I play blue
El Dorado
Paladin

@ Account Deletion- I know I’m one of the guilty ranting parties too. I had a short rant in last week’s explorables and recently in the Viceroy discussion section. Please understand that my rants are not in any way meant to negatively criticize your work on this site. It seems to me that you are the lone content poster, I know it is difficult to find the time and I commend you on your effort. I was only trying to encourage discussion on this site.

It doesn’t matter to me how the Explorables are determined. On one hand I think games with only a few reviews and/or tips should be selected. This may encourage users to post some content. However, from past Explorables, this doesn’t seem to happen all that much. On the other hand, there is only a finite list of games with many reviews and/or tips so it will probably be difficult to keep picking these. I don’t think games should be Explorable more than once, unless it is years between them. I’m OK with mixing the selection up instead of picking people’s eligible favorites. (Of course this is self serving since I frequent the less traveled games and don’t have an eligible favorite. [wink]). I guess I really didn’t give you any direction except to be flexible. BTW, I have noticed some miscellaneous games with the Explorable tag, but I thought it was a secret sign for some kinda shadow group to take a look at reviews and/or tips on the less traveled games. Sounds like I’m watching too much TV and not gaming enough though!

I’m with TechieMoe regarding the games added to the site. I’m constantly amazed at how another Ticket to Ride, Fluxx or Munchkin expansion is added yet, there are still a few games in the top 500 from the ‘other site’ that aren’t represented. However, your explanation of how games get picked sheds some light on that. As a side note, I have many game requests in and FYI, I will fill the content in with a review and tip or two for any of my requests. I would love to volunteer some time to helping out with new game pages. Unfortunately I don’t know the first thing about websites/website publishing & etc. In the short term I would probably take even more of your time than save it.

Gamer Avatar
9
I play black
Guardian Angel
Platinum Supporter
Marquis / Marchioness

@Stargazer1 – thanks for the feedback. I take (nearly) all “criticism” on the site – particularly those by regular users/commentors – constructively, and I welcome it. We all want the site to improve, and sharing thoughts on how that can happen is important. And I’ve always felt appreciated by the users for my efforts.

As for the versions of well-worn games you mentioned… well, Fluxx and Munchkin got a whole lot of activity last year because their publishers (Looney Labs and Steve Jackson Games) were working well with me. That’s also why you saw prompt coverage of releases by IDW, Privateer Press, 8th Summit, Smirk & Dagger, etc. They prioritized our site with advanced copies of upcoming releases before even Dice Tower, and promoted the heck out of the unboxing videos and reviews we did for them. In return, I prioritized getting their newest releases onto the site (and where possible, creating content for those releases). But of course, as my time for the site dwindled these relationships couldn’t be maintained.

One other response I neglected in addressing @TechieMoe’s comment – the reason many “two-bit” Kickstarters are added is that they actually paid to advertise on the site during their campaign. When people pay us for banner space we try to add the game then and there. And nearly all of our paid advertising is for Kickstarter campaigns.

Gamer Avatar
9
Canada
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Plaid Hat Games fan
Platinum Supporter

On Explorables and ‘Active’ Members: So what makes an ‘active’ member? Someone who has dropped a tip or a review in the past month? Or chatted up on the ‘Weekend Update’? Or led to a ‘wild comment’ appear like a Pokemon? Clicked an up/down on a grading? I mean the mysterious Jack the Downgrader is probably the most active member of the site then.

The definition as it stands is someone who logged in to push ‘Play’ on Fallen for the 8,000th time. That might be active – but I don’t really consider it a contribution. And yes – I know the Rules of Explorable Engagement – and don’t need to be corrected on use of ‘Ghost’ or ‘Dead Member’ – because if I click on someone’s name and they haven’t said ‘Boo’ since 2014 – that’s a Ghost – albeit an ironic one. Keep on pushing that Bruges button shadowy friend.

I was happy to cheerlead/goad a response to ‘The Sacred Shelf Spotlight’ even though it was blowing smoke. Jim revealed as such to me when I got picked – ‘Don’t thank me – thank the random number generator’. At least it was interesting smoke to blow – when it happened and for awhile it happened regularly…and then – well – it didn’t. And much like ‘Your Turn’, In-House reviews, or any sort of feature – I doubt it will happen again.

A parcel of time back it was bandied about that ‘active members’ should shuffle their faves for Explorables for the option of a second choice and to help with finding a member. Without knowledge of the master checklist and a trickle of incoming Cult of the New – I’d say that’s more work than it is worth, but it is by definition pointless.

There’s no badge for it. There’s no real meaning to it. The only gain is someone might paw through your collective reviews and tips and give you some love – but that is as likely to happen if you review or comment or play the hazy definition of ‘active member’.

And the definition of ‘active member’ is a hazy, mercurial one. By my own definition I could count what I consider ‘active members’ on my fingers and toes and might not include myself in the mix on a given month.

I’m sure when it all started it was fun and an honor if only a paper badge. Now – it seems to trying to pin down a wandering vagabond. The Explorable is an important push pin in the BGdot week – the Monday between the Friday WAYPTW with a whole lot of pushing ‘PLAYED’ in between. If there is only limited time to devote – cut it loose – and slap up two whatever necessaries. It still seems to garner about 100 fly-bys for the XP grab even without a true Endgame badge.

As for repeat Explorables – who cares? There seems to be a few esoteric rules that don’t really make sense round these parts. One of them being that the actual ‘Site Info Dump Page’ is trapped in a Black Box in the by now inaccessible Secret Zone. And honestly, if you even know what ‘Secret Zone’ is you should be able to repeat explore! 😛 I know it is so people don’t ‘play’ the site – but why should the actual site be treated like a red-headed step child when people are loving Dungeon Dice and Fallen like a mouse in a Skinner box. Just because some ‘Dead Member’ said ‘Hello World’ once in ‘012 and made ‘Magic Realm’ explorable – why is it off limits? Surely there have been new reviews, tips, and outlooks since.

If a game has sat dusty on some long forgotten Sacred Shelf for a year – it certainly deserves a chance for a second look. One would hope some fresh eyes have wandered over to this site in a year’s time and old eyes might welcome a revival. And why lock out High Wax Sealers who have probably explored it before. To make it even more nigh on impossible to reach Level 10 and fight the Bishop of Battle? Fresh Eyes. Fresh Start. Honestly – if someone stuck around long enough to explore something TWICE – they should be rewarded – not penalized.

Because let’s be honest – the vast majority of people who are ‘active members’, ‘contribute to the site’, or even reading/ignoring this have been around to merit an ‘Explorable Twice.’

On Stocking the Library: I don’t really much care who stocks it, how it gets determined, and if it is just so someone can record their own personal plays. At least it gets stocked. Boardgaming is about popular ‘classics’ and Cult of the New and the BGdot is way behind on one of those – but I won’t quibble. I’m sure one of the Holy Librarians netted themselves Scythe.

However, I have said this before umpteenthily so I will say it again. Unless there is a monthly round-up of new links – and I’m also talking switching an ‘Upcoming’ over to a ‘Released’ no one knows. Unless a game is new enough in the Cardboard Timeline to pop up on the front page column – no one knows. The Kickstarter entry that paid for an ad two years ago and finally made print to be converted to a viable button push – no one knows. That game that has been standing in the spreadsheet line for 3 years and finally gets its moment in the sun – no one knows. Unless there’s formal notification – there’s a whole lot of people who have no idea what gets added to the library. Round them up – otherwise it seems like a whole lot of discussed work for nothing.

Gamer Avatar
7
Comic Book Fan
Book Lover
Pet Lover

Thank you for all of your efforts. I came here as an alternative to BGG. I found the community more friendly and less judgemental, and the site user friendly and attractive. BGG’s excuse forever has been its too much information and work to overhaul their existing database, so until recently there has been little or no change and while they constantly add titles, errors are made and the search engine is wonky at best.

Not putting anyone down, just recognizing its a tremendous amount of work just to update and maintain a site like that, and you guys are starting from scratch. So the design is better upfront but the data entry and trying to engage your audience is a daunting task for a handful of people doing it in their “free time” – which is never free.

I, myself, am trying to do a video channel with tutorials and event footage with everyone involved working for free and its a constant thankless push up hill. You get a handful of subscribers and a few clicks, but all it takes is one bad comment to make you question why you bother. It is the nature of the internet right now – either you like something and put very little effort into it, or you’re annoyed or just a jerk and can spend all day trolling someone.Rarely do people go out of their way to be grateful, or nice, or give something a good review – they just click “like” and move on. But everyone takes time to write something awful.

Anyways, I came to say that I hope none of you feel that way. I appreciate your efforts, this site and this community.

Thank you!

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