Irons has left the Marathon community, apparently for good. I don't know how strictly he's going to adhere to that particular proclamation, but in any event, this leaves me as the only moderator of the Testing Grounds.
Despite that, though, I don't have the power to actually admit new users to the TG, meaning that it is now a slightly more exclusive club than before.
Whether or not that particular situation changes, I just wanted to make it clear that the TG's rules haven't changed, and the purpose of the board is the same, with or without irons being here -- it was his idea in the first place. However, the way it's been going has been sort of wayward, so...
Before I continue, I want to remind everyone of the purpose of the Testing Grounds. It's a place to upload your maps BEFORE they enter circulation, are uploaded to Fileball, etc. so that other TG members can look at it and provide critiques. As a mapper, it's your duty to take these critiques and consider them, and decide whether or not you want to change something based on that critique or not. It is not your duty to flame people because they don't like your map. As a critiquer, it's your duty to provide helpful and constructive criticism that relates to the map at hand. It's not your duty to kiss ass, or to lie, because that defeats the purpose of the board. Tell the truth. Don't cushion your words, but don't flame either. The honest and painful truth is the most effective criticism. Throw in some advice on how to fix what's wrong, and how to accentuate what's right.
However, as of today, I'm going to somewhat "start anew" with the Testing Grounds. Because it's more of an exclusive club than before, I'd rather the board and its members were more unified, as far as this particular board goes. Its purpose has not exactly been fulfilled recently, so as of today, I'm going to enforce some slightly tighter rules.
First, you may notice that most of the topics have been deleted. This is because there's no real reason for most of them to exist. I'll regularly purge dead map-related topics, since their purpose has been fulfilled after a certain time; either the map has been fixed and reposted, or uploaded onto Fileball, or trashed.
Two, I'm going to enforce strict topicality. Any posts on this board not related directly to map testing are going to be moved (if I can do that) to the Mapping board or otherwise deleted. The main type of post -- that is, map uploads for testing -- is what's encouraged here.
Three, I'd also like to enforce a slightly more "critical" attitude. I realize that many of my posts, as well as some others, have tended to be closer to flames rather than actual critiques, and that is also somewhat contradictory to the purpose of the board. Unconstructive criticism, flame wars, and so on will probably be moderated for a lack of topicality. There's a time and place for flaming people over their abilities, and as much as I tend to do it, this is not the place. Similarly, don't respond with hostility to genuinely constructive criticism. If three people tell you that "such and such" factor of a map sucks, it probably does. At least CONSIDER that they might be right, rather than just calling them assholes and letting it be.
With that being said, there are some other things that I'd like to have people keep in mind for a slightly better experience here:
When uploading your map, a brief description would be nice. Some pictures would be better. Not everyone has the time or interest to download your map and look at it in Forge, but some pictures -- either automap or in-game pics -- would be fantastic, both in expediting the critique progress, but also keeping a slightly higher standard in the way the process is actually done.
Also, give some suggestions on how to further enjoy the map you're uploading. Not everyone has seven people to test your behemoth arena, for example, but letting people know that a full house is necessary to enjoy the map would be a huge benefit -- nobody likes dueling on massive maps.
So, though this is somewhat a period of change, I'd just like to help make the Testing Grounds a more enjoyable -- and useful -- place to be for everyone.