Tuesday, July 11, 2006
They're a fickle lot over at SillySoft. Lux has been around for years, but the lack of maps was always the problem. In such circumstance, you'd think SillySoft would welcome any and all efforts to expand the mapbase, but instead, all maps submitted are first sent to MapLAB users to test-play (which isn't such a bad idea at all, it keeps out the absolute garbage and stops porn-based maps etc). After they've contacted you with suggestions, if they think its good enough, it gets added to the database of maps which the Lux Plugin Manager accesses. My map from yesterday scored a 4.1 out of 5, and elicited the comments "blast to play and looks very nice!" and "Quite a success for your first map… Very nice… I think it will be warmly recieved." Great, makes me feel it was well worth the effort.
Except that after one day and only 5 votes, its been rated down to 2.4 - and that means that, after only one day, no-one can see it on the website or Plugin Manager since they only show maps of rating 3 or higher. That didn't impress me very much, it made me wonder how many other excellent maps have been created by users only to be thrown into the deepest darkest dungeon of SillySoft never to appear again. A total of 5 people have rated my map, and because 1 of them didn't like it, it will forever be lost to the rest of the Lux community. Those few people have decided on behalf of the many.
Lux's main problem was always its lack of maps and this is no way to fix it. The program has an ideal marketing strategy in that the Plugin Manager only downloads maps if you paid for the program, so SillySoft should half the price (and thereby get 10 times the sales - sound business sense) and make every map available to users. Better yet, install a popup that says 'Show me only maps rated (x) or higher'. Then every user would have access to all maps of a quality threshold they wanted, whether a select few individuals at the MapLAB thought they were good enough or not. And because they could still access all the maps, some of those less-than-3 maps might get more ratings and come back above 3 again, whereas the way the current system works they're gone for good.
Since designing 'Circuit Showdown', I've done 4 new maps, but I can only submit one a week ('to keep quality up' says SillySoft's submit page). I think they're all excellent, but already, one week into owning Lux, I wonder if I will bother making any more. I enjoy making them, and I'm a good graphic designer, but I'm just not going to bother if 1 or 2 individuals can take my efforts away from everyone else. My second map, 'Space Invaders', is ready to upload. It would have been easy to rip some graphics off the web for it, but for copyright reasons I created all the graphics from scratch. It took quite some time, but perhaps all that effort will be wasted. I'll submit it when SillySoft's system decides to let me, and we'll see how long it survives. This is no way to build a thriving user community.