Following a good deal of discussion about the ACC (some things going back to when I first got Voice, others even further back), I am able to give some new information about what's going to be going on with the ACC in the not too distant future.
First, however, I want to talk about some of the identified issues going on with the ACC. The ACC has its very ardent supporters so I know this whole message is likely to kick up some pretty strong emotions. I was one of the most active participants myself when the “new” ACC was going through its beta testing phases. These issues and ideas to help course correct come from a place of wanting the ACC to succeed and not be closed.
Issue one is that the ACC as a whole is an incredibly niche activity in our club. The vast majority of members never even bother going through the qualification process, let alone participate in any matches. Those that do however tend to participate more than once. This can be partially attributed to the second issue, the high barrier preventing entry into using the system. Anyone can sign up on the site and jump into some JA sessions, or throw out fiction in a comp, or draw something shiny. The ACC has what is quite honestly, a very difficult wall to get over before you can even play. This gets amplified by receiving the judgments on a match in which feedback and discussion can run longer than the posts written in the first place, all of which are listed publicly on the site.
This leads to the next issue, the long post-match processing time. We’ve had instances of weeks and months going by where a match is finished and not yet closed out. Some of this can be attributed to things like Vendettas putting a hold on scoring things, but even when not running, it takes forever to see any form of result from the match. Judging itself is an issue in that it is so fine-grained and detailed that it has to take ages to score a match to cover every little detail. As time has crept on since the ACC reopened this fine-grain judging pattern has gotten more and more intense and led to a wide disparity between what is considered okay for general fiction and what is ACC acceptable per precedent. The fact is ACC should be considered no more intense than a normal fiction competition. Star Wars itself has moments that break “realism” for the cool moment as it helps the story. Our character sheet system, while inspired by TTRPGs, was not designed to be so locked in.
Basically, the ACC has lost sight of its original purpose. To allow members a fun outlet to write combat fiction against another member.
So what is on the docket to get us (hopefully back on track)? Quite a lot actually, that comes from many discussions involving the DC, some former CMs, and ACC Champions. This is a higher-level outline of what is to come, as specifics are workshopped and implemented.
The ACC Roadmap
- Revamp the judging process. Matches are at their core about who wrote the better story/conflict, so we shall be attempting to streamline and simplify how this process works with the scoring rubric. This process will also remove the mandatory match feedback and individual post comments. The ACC is not a full-on writing workshop, but an excellent tool to allow feedback (See things such as the SARLACC event, or the Coach’s Corner). Our overall goal so for the match scoring process to be no more intensive or time-consuming than scoring two fictions in a fiction competition.
- Feedback is important however and eventually will be either an opt-in at match set up or a specific hall/category of a match. The feedback is to be kept private to the individual participant, not publicly displayed and attached to the match for everyone to see.
- Revamp the qualification process with an ACC Basics exam and ACC Advanced Combat for those that want to particularly learn more about honing their skills. A simple overview of the ACC, lower stress kind of exam that members can quickly take, get a result, and go off to their own matches. The goal is between this new process, and the removal of very public feedback, we can remove some of the fear/stigma some members have about the ACC. It is quick and lightweight, not a system to make you feel like an idiot, or that you need to be a Best Selling Novelist to do. In other words, the ACC should have a low skill floor and a high skill ceiling.
- Introduce the ACC Judging exam. This exam will go over the scoring process and how to provide useful feedback. Once passed, allow members to be marked as qualified to Judge ACC exams.
- No more dedicated Judging Staff. This one is more complicated and further down the road due to the massive coding stuff that has to go into it. Completed matches will be placed into a queue. Qualified members can “claim” a match to score, and would be given a short window to put a verdict in (basically claim when you are in a place you can score) failing to complete within that window several times would place that member on cooldown from scoring matches. Once the match is scored it gets sent over to the CM (with other Voice Staff as backup) to give it a glance over to make sure it's on the level and not a member trolling with a judgment. Matches that fail to be judged within an initial window (which we don’t have set, but only a couple of days) also get kicked to the CM/Voice Staff to score it and close it out.
- This system also means that if a Clan wishes to run an ACC competition in-house, they can without forcing the ACC Staff to dedicate massive amounts of time to judge. Competition runners can literally score out the matches in their competition.
- This is furthered by the fact we allow members at any level to run and judge all kinds of competition types, they can decide who between two people did “better” in a match.
- With this system in place, the CM role will once again be part of the Voice staff with the specific focus on managing the ACC venues and matches and ensuring qualified judges don’t mess around. Should a judge be trolling the CM would be able to disable that judge from claiming more battles. The CM will not handle any CS processing but is present for discussions on anything CS-related. The CS remains a fiction-focused tool that the more specific usages of the ACC and RP use, not something that is designed specifically just for those uses.
- ACC Society is back on the table. This is a feature of ye olde system and one that was scrapped pretty late in the development of the current ACC system. We want to better encourage ACC usage beyond “try to get a high ELO in a single quarter for a title”. This system would not rely on Clusters of Ice to advance, and potential awards/rank breakdowns need to be developed before it can be implemented. Its focus is participation and completion of matches.
- Additional Site revamping. All of these changes also mean a lot of functionality changes that will have to get implemented. On top of that, a fresh coat of paint design-wise has been requested by the Grand Master. The exact specifics of that are the lowest priority at the moment.
The exact details of the implementation on all of these points are still being worked on, but this lays out the general direction we are looking to head. This is going to be a rather long process, with lots of time and effort going in as we move in this direction. While I’m sure the comments here and on chat will be lively with input on this, remember we are doing this with the goal of a sustainable ACC, and not one that has to deal with a constant threat of closure. Less stress, more fun, faster results.