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Call For User Opinions

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 5:26 am
by Brendan2011
So lately a lot has been going on here, and one of the things I'm most excited about is the recode being closer than ever to feature freeze (yay!). However, I've been trying to get people's opinions on how they want the mission system to operate, since, apparently, a lot of people here have strong opinions as to how they think a good mission system works. At this point, there are two prevailing ideas on how we should make it, but it's not seeming to go any further.

The two are:
  1. Have the mission system randomized, where you choose a category (such as basic), and a mission is assigned to you. Once a mission is assigned to you, you can't move on in the category until you finish it. In order to detour horrible assignments -- like a new user being assigned Realistic 16 before Realistic 2 -- it is planned to sort by difficulty. E.g, you would only be assigned easy missions, and once you've finished those, you're only assigned moderate difficulty missions... and once you've finished all of the missions in the category, it's completely random.
  2. Leave the mission system exactly the way it is now.

There are lots of good arguments for either, but we're more interested in yours.

The second issue we're debating on is whether or not to have a point system in the recode. With user management being handed over to the forums more in the recode, actually changing the code of the forums would result in us being unable update the forums, which may include necessary security patches (exactly of how it is now, basically). Although, Thetan made some compelling points today about how important a point system is to the contribution to a website.

Thetan wrote:<bren2010> There is no more point system.
<Thetan> .......
<Thetan> even worse implementation of game theory then
<Thetan> points == engaged users
<Thetan> thats how stackoverflow won the QA market
<bren2010> points == noobs looking up answers to feel 1337.
<Thetan> understands the value of gamification
<Thetan> bren2010, removing points doesn't solve the problem
<Thetan> removing points masks the problem
<Thetan> what you have with noobs looking up answers is a failure of engineering
<Thetan> meaning, missions need to be reaxamined, some possibly thrown away even
<Thetan> and their needs to be my dynamic solutions
<bren2010> Then they can just look up the method to get the answer.
<Thetan> so?
<Thetan> isn't that 1/4 of what most hacking is
<Thetan> hey, this shit uses SQL
<Thetan> lets look up how SQL works
<Thetan> ok, lets check out SQL injection
<Thetan> ok, now lets apply this
<Thetan> besides, a good point system wouldnt be strictly missions anyways
<bren2010> In that case they're learning SQL to exploit it. In the case I'm talking about, they're looking up "go to dontlook.php", base64 decode the string it gives you...(several steps later) and then put that into the answer box.
<Thetan> content, posts, etc would be more valuable
<Thetan> bren2010, and that would go along with the missions that should be thrown away
<Thetan> missions should be minor points anyways
<Thetan> so that way you want to look 1337 you actually have to be 1337
<Thetan> and that will be determined by your peers
<Thetan> and even more so by mods etc
<Thetan> this is why point systems like HackerNews' Karma, Reddits points and StackOverflows points are fueling practically all of their quality content for free
<Thetan> points == free work -> the most basic law of gamification
<Thetan> free is good
<bren2010> ._.
<Thetan> awards == free sprints for milestones -> second basic law of gamification
<Thetan> "give a man a colored ribbon and he'd gladly die in combat for you" - Napolean
<Thetan> ^^ that nigger knew game theory

It's not just me and Thetan sparring in a staff channel, though -- a lot of people I've talked to on IRC (in #hackthissite and #comDev mostly) have a strong opinion on either matter. Unfortunately, this isn't a very accurate measure of how the community as a whole feels. One partition of the community doesn't have the continuous computer time to stay on IRC all day, and another partition has the computer time to keep IRC up in the background, but doesn't have the time to browse the forums. Hopefully, though, you can help me get an accurate measure of how the community feels about controversial issues we're trying to fix in the recode.

Re: Call For User Opinions

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:11 pm
by Vulpine
Thetan makes a good argument.

I've often thought that some method for randomly generating the passwords for each mission would be more ideal than allowing them to remain static. There are too many "guides" out there that just list every password to every mission. Randomized passwords would at least force users to go through the motions instead of directly skipping to a false sense of epeen.

The random mission system sounds interesting, but it may be better to run a pilot before converting to that system entirely. The community could give you some betters opinions at that point.

Re: Call For User Opinions

PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2011 3:12 am
by sanddbox
Thetan has a strong point. Making these challenges into a game is good - it makes the brain want to complete the missions. However, having the missions easily cheat-able is bad, as it ruins the entire point of the missions. Randomization is the way to go.

Re: Call For User Opinions

PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2011 8:08 am
by Gatito
About the first issue with randomized missions, I'm not very sure about it. It kinda restricts the freedom of choice, plus I think that it would decrease mission activity as users could get bored with the mission assigned to them and by not being able to change it they would pretty much give up altogether. Rather than being assigned a random mission how about blocking access to more difficult missions if the user hasn't cleared low-level missions, so basically you have to clear all easy missions to have access to moderate but you have the freedom to pick the order of clearing the missions on easy or something similar.

Randomized answers all the way, people would have to follow each step to solve the mission and hopefully learn something by the process so I support this. And being a gamer myself I wouldn't mind a point system, but I would like more details about it.

Re: Call For User Opinions

PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 12:36 pm
by Slahd
I voted for 'other' because I have a somewhat different take on the mission system. I do like the randomization because it forces the users to actually LEARN something (yay!), but the weakness to it is that there's little room to improvise. I think that if we had a missions that could be revisited at will (I think you guys might have thought of this), then we could go back and experiment. Try different things that may or may not work. The truly stellar members would most likely take advantage of that and play around with the missions.
That's my two cents anyway. Give me some more time and I'll make it a dollar.


Re: Call For User Opinions

PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:41 am
by tremor77
I think missions should assign an answer to the user account doing the missions based on some sweet mathematical algorithm. This means each user would have their own UNIQUE answer to input into the password box. This would also allow the user to leave their mission, switch computers, take a few days off, and not lose their place because of a change in a randomization.

The algorithm could be something as simple as the account mission ID (not the username but an ID # for missions assigned per user) - encoded with the missions master password, and then converted to the users unique password for that mission.

I'd also love to see a Mission API for those of us who might like to develop and submit some missions. These could be put in a 'user-submitted' missions category and, if the mission receives a high rating or something, that user could get points for a good mission submission and maybe get it included as a main mission. For example, I got a lot of good feedback from a javascript/encryption mission I made and hosted on my own site about a year ago... afaik only 1 person ever did solve it too.