Issues with the suggestions website

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  • Ashley Tom

    I would like to raise the issues with the website for ideas and suggestions. Something needs to be changed, because in its current state the usefulness of this platform is really limited.

    You are constantly adding new cool features to C3, and it's awesome! But improving existing functionality is just as important.

    I browsed 100 recent submissions, about 10 of them have "already exist" or "declined" status, others have no status and no comments from Scirra. Only 2 are marked as "shipped" this year. Frankly, it's discouraging to post suggestions which get no reaction at all.

    It would be really helpful if you could mark ideas that you are considering to implement. Some of the suggestions I posted are quite important for me, for example this one - I need to know if there is a chance it will be implemented some day.

    Also, the voting system is pretty much broken. I have only 25 votes. There are 1000+ suggestions, 35 of which are mine. Every time I post a new idea, I have to revoke a vote from one of my older ideas. I want my ideas to show at least 1 vote, but I also would like to be able to vote for other interesting posts, so what am I supposed to do?

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  • I completely agree. Like, I passionately agree. It's great to be able to influence the software that you use and spend regular money on.

    But we already know the response that's coming - "we are a small company".

    It would be cool if there was an employee who could do these minor/moderate suggestions that might take a couple of hours to implement and test. I always get excited for updates but it does feel focused sometimes, like I'm not interested in 3D shapes (it's really cool, but not needed in my case) but it seems like the next few updates might end up being mainly about 3d shapes. There's me who is eager to see new stuff in the event sheet view, where I spent 90% of my time. Improvements to bookmarking such as groups and coloured bookmarks and other event sheet improvements would just speed things right up for me, but how would I ever attract attention to that lol, I wouldn't give up a vote for something that I don't think I'd use myself.

    I sometimes have seen people post on the forum and then their suggestion is more likely seen and an answer is given. I rather not do this coz it feels like it'd pollute the forum, and if everyone started doing it, then it would probably be enforced to remove posts like that and pushed towards the suggestions website once more.

  • The suggestions repository is ironically where suggestions now go to die.

    I gave up on it a long time ago, haven't even looked in many months because its such a hassle only having a few votes.

    Its pointless posting suggestions as well because i think most other people have given up too, especially when they've used their votes.

    Votes don't seem to count towards anything anyway. They implement what ever they want regardless of vote count or the popularity of a suggestion.

  • I'm not interested in 3D shapes (it's really cool, but not needed in my case) but it seems like the next few updates might end up being mainly about 3d shapes. There's me who is eager to see new stuff in the event sheet view, where I spent 90% of my time.

    Yeah, I'm excited about 3D shapes, but I'm working on several big games and what I need right now is improvements to existing features. For example, debugging a large project with hundreds of objects is not a pleasant experience. But I don't even bother posting ideas about the Debugger, because it hasn't been updated in years and likely never will.

    The suggestions repository is ironically where suggestions now go to die.

    When Ashley added "Minor suggestions" category about a year ago, it was working for a short while, many of the ideas posted there were reviewed and shipped. Now they are ignored just like any others.

  • As the suggestions platform guidelines describe, the intention is just to collect feedback, and we don't guarantee that any suggestions will be implemented. The reason I keep coming up with "we're a small company" is it's true, and it's by far the biggest limitation we face in our ability to get things done. Frankly given our size I'm proud of how much we actually do get done.

    Only 2 are marked as "shipped" this year.

    That's misleading - I figure you're looking at the "shipped" category, sorted by recent. In that case the dates are when the submission was submitted, not when we marked it shipped. So if a suggestion posted in 2020 was shipped this year, in that view you'd think we didn't do it this year, but we did. Given the suggestion platform has been up close to 4 years, and 200 ideas are shipped, that works out to about 50 a year, or one a week. And that includes ideas that were major projects that took months to complete, like the scene graph feature.

    It would be really helpful if you could mark ideas that you are considering to implement.

    The problem with the size of the suggestions tracker is with 1000 ideas, it's a huge amount of administrative work merely to review them. Providing a useful comment is often difficult unless we research the options and experiment with some prototyping. Doing this for every idea is just an absolute mountain of work and could tie us up for months, during which time we get nothing done at all. So, perversely, providing useful feedback on every idea means would mean we actually implement fewer features.

    I don't think the "minor suggestions" category works that well, because users often don't have the technical knowledge to know if what they are asking for is actually easy or not. It can still take a fair amount of research (e.g. examining thousands of lines of code to estimate how easy a change would be to make to our existing codebase) and prototyping work to evaluate what is ostensibly a minor suggestion, which ends up being a lot of work. In fact I wrote a whole blog about this a while ago, on the unexpected complications of minor features, which covers two cases which turned in to loads of work, for example.

    Every time I post a new idea, I have to revoke a vote from one of my older ideas.

    Well, I think this is kind of reasonable actually. With 1000 ideas, which I estimate is probably about 10 years worth of work, how useful is it really to throw another idea on the pile? I'd rather we had fewer popular ideas, rather than a mountain of things only one or two people want. That's what the limited voting is for. It's meant to force you to pick a few things you really care about, and not so you can inundate us with hundreds of ideas amounting to an infeasibly huge amount of work.

    In the feature guidelines I wrote back in 2017, I did write about some of my fears how this might end up working badly:

    In particular we are worried about people making statements like "Scirra don't listen to their customers - they're ignoring this feature even though everyone wants it". If that kind of thing happens a lot, we will probably just shut down the suggestion platform.

    So if the suggestions platform just ends up being a big source of disappointment and complaints, I guess we could just shut it down. But do you really think that would be better? At least people can vote on popular things as it is.

  • Voting for suggestions doesn't work.

    Voting works for features you know you can implement, and just don't know which order to do so. As long as they aren't "socially engineered" votes.

    I know you don't like roadmaps, but we have game developers, and addon developers that are afraid to make things because of this.

  • That's misleading - I figure you're looking at the "shipped" category, sorted by recent. In that case the dates are when the submission was submitted, not when we marked it shipped.

    I'm sorry, maybe the numbers are not accurate. But looking at the recent 100-200 suggestions, 90% of them have no status. A year or two ago you reviewed and commented on them regularly, now it feels abandoned.

    The problem with the size of the suggestions tracker is with 1000 ideas, it's a huge amount of administrative work merely to review them.

    Many of the 1000 ideas are outdated and no longer relevant. What we asking is to review at least recently posted ideas.

    I'd rather we had fewer popular ideas, rather than a mountain of things only one or two people want.

    The point system was working at the very beginning. But then people had used up all their points and it stopped working. Now we have a quite few old ideas with huge amount of votes (some of which weren't that good), and lots of recent very valuable ideas that struggle to get more than 3-5 votes. I really hope you are not judging the ideas by the number of votes they receive. I've seen tons of great ideas with very few votes.

    And the 25 votes limit is just stupid. I believe there are more than 25 things that can be improved in Construct and I hate being forced to constantly have to pick which vote to retract.

    So if the suggestions platform just ends up being a big source of disappointment and complaints, I guess we could just shut it down. But do you really think that would be better? At least people can vote on popular things as it is.

    In its current state yes - it's a huge disappointment and if you are planning to leave it as it is, then maybe it's better to shut it down. People will switch to posting their ideas on the forum, this will at least give them a lot more exposure.

    But if you keeping this platform, then something needs to be done about it.

    PS: I'm sorry for the rant, but like mOOnpunk said, it's now the place where good suggestions do to die, and it's extremely frustrating.

  • Many of the 1000 ideas are outdated and no longer relevant. What we asking is to review at least recently posted ideas.

    This is still potentially a great deal of work. As I said, it can involve a fair bit of research and prototype to comment on it at all. And if we make an incorrect or misleading comment, people will get upset.

    I really hope you are not judging the ideas by the number of votes they receive.

    I am kind of mystified by this comment. It is the entire purpose of the system. We want to focus our work on the most popular ideas that lots of people want - not ideas that only one or two out of thousands of customers want. With such limited resources, it would be unfair to the majority of users, if someone managed to force us to spend our valuable time implementing a feature only they or a small number of people want.

    People will switch to posting their ideas on the forum, this will at least give them a lot more exposure.

    Ideas posted to the forum eventually fall in to the back pages and get lost. One of the reasons we set the system up was to solve this problem. If we get rid of it, I expect we will go back to ideas being lost and forgotten in the forum, which I'm not sure is better.

    I'll try to make some time next week to go through the suggestions platform and update the status on some of the ideas, starting with the ones with the highest votes (as those are presumably the ones most people care about). I guess one way to solve the insurmountable-amount-of-work problem is to be more proactive about rejecting ideas that are especially difficult or not something we envision as likely to be done. But that also can upset people and result in angry customers. At least ideas left alone can still collect votes if lots of people think they're important.

    I think the solution is to figure out how to have fewer ideas that most people care about. Having hundreds of suggestions covering years and years of potential work is indeed getting unmanageable. So, if anyone has any ideas on how to radically reduce the number of ideas, let me know... but I'm pretty sure things like letting people have more votes, and be able to submit more ideas, will just make this much worse.

  • As a heavy C3 user who used to contribute to the Suggestions page, I've had the same experience and share the same view as dop2000.

    To add to newt's comments, a huge flaw with the limited vote system is that you're expecting people to keep their votes current with what they think is important. I'm not sure how many people are constantly going back to that site and aligning their votes with the ever-growing list of ideas.

    So at this point, I'd wager it's a mistake to judge the ideas by votes. The longer the site goes on without rewarding those votes, the less people bother with voting. Instead, or at least in the case of people I know, they're likely just adding ideas to the pile, not voting, and hoping your team notices them.

    Gathering input from users is obviously important, but this current system combined with a thorough lack of feedback could certainly be rethought.

    EDIT: Sorry Ashley, I missed your bottom paragraph. I'll certainly have a think and dig around for alternatives

  • I'll try to make some time next week to go through the suggestions platform and update the status on some of the ideas, starting with the ones with the highest votes (as those are presumably the ones most people care about).

    Presumably, yes, but it also can mean that some of these ideas were heavily promoted on the forum or on Discord/Twitter etc.

    If you have such option, can you sort by year and then by votes? Because like I said, people have run out of votes a long time ago. In the past 5 months I see only two ideas with over 10 votes.

  • Well, if you're not willing to move your existing votes to newly submitted ideas, then presumably the ideas you've already voted on are more important to you, right? So sorting by highest voted first seems to be the most fair approach.

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  • Most of the people who voted in 2017-2018 never returned to adjust their votes.

    I understand that although the voting system is far from perfect, it's the only way to evaluate ideas. All I'm asking is to give some attention to more recent and therefore less upvoted submissions.

  • I'll try to make some time next week to go through the suggestions platform and update the status on some of the ideas, starting with the ones with the highest votes (as those are presumably the ones most people care about).

    This is greatly appreciated, although I understand the community member's uncertainty with the suggestions platform as of now - I haven't used my votes in over a year, I don't even remember what I voted for (probably my own stuff mostly, how selfish of me D; ), and I would assume there's more people that's done this too.

    I think the solution is to figure out how to have fewer ideas that most people care about. Having hundreds of suggestions covering years and years of potential work is indeed getting unmanageable. So, if anyone has any ideas on how to radically reduce the number of ideas, let me know... but I'm pretty sure things like letting people have more votes, and be able to submit more ideas, will just make this much worse.

    Oh! How about this: Lets assume the suggestions plaform did not contain years-old votes, or lets just ignore that aspect for now:

    Perhaps an occasional poll on social media of the top 5 most-voted ideas (as long as they are approved and would be viable for Scirra to produce, i.e. you won't ever have unrealistic ideas such as "Native export" appear on this poll)? This would give the community more chance to give direct influence to Construct 3.

    I would see myself ALWAYS casting a vote on something like this. If something I really care about was never getting voted on, I would be on the forums discussing it more amongst the community, rather than thinking "should I try to convince Scirra/Ashley in a forum post?".

    If you had run a poll a few weeks ago with "3D Shapes" and 4 other ideas, then I'm very confident that "3D Shapes" would have amassed loads of votes as it's common knowledge amongst the community that "3D" is a desire from a lot of people. For me who would not be using 3D Shapes, this would have still been a good poll result from my view, because it feels like, as a community, we have made a group decision to influence the future of Construct 3. (Little do we know, that you may have picked 5 things YOU are interested in developing, yet we as a community would feel like WE made the decision. ;) )

    It's your software though, you might have a confident idea on what's best to do next for Construct 3 - after all, you made this software and pretty much live and breathe javascript and gamedev, and a lot of us really trust your instinct and decisions when you respond on the forum. I suppose even an occassional "minor ideas" poll where something a bit more smaller (e.g. NOT "3d shapes", but a further improvement to something already existing or something) so that Scirra can work on whatever complicated thing they have in development, but still maintain a sense of "Community has some influence".

    But yeah - On a sort of casual note - It always looks like so much work is directed towards yourself Ashley. You have on Construct's homepage that you have 180,000 monthly customers, but you have about 2(?) programmers. I think a lot of us can recognise that you have a LOT of people coming up with all sorts of suggestions and expectations for what Construct 3 should focus on, and it is impressive how much has been produced with such few (very talented) staff. I don't know how you guys do it. Construct 3 itself, the several editors within C3, many plugins that need updating whenever Google/Apple/This/That update something, people eager to have a say in the next features of C3, forum posts etc. I know not ALL of that is on your plate and you have other staff that do great work for Scirra. Yet, you still bust out regular beta updates and such with complex features often. It's impressive to say the least.

    I hope the workload gets even a tiny bit lighter for you one day, hopefully more staff is a viable option (it's none of our business how you choose to run Scirra) or even volunteers helping out at some point - I don't know. Maybe some day you can go back to writing occassional blog posts again as a more cathartic bit of work in your day job (assuming you enjoy writing those; Myself and many others enjoyed reading them!) Amazing bit of software though, we can all agree, it's why we are so determined to have influence to C3's next features.

  • Ashley

    So, if anyone has any ideas on how to radically reduce the number of ideas, let me know... but I'm pretty sure things like letting people have more votes, and be able to submit more ideas, will just make this much worse.

    I don't know how to reduce the number of ideas. Maybe restrict access only to people with active C3 subscription? (If the platform allows it) But this probably won't help much. Another option is pre-moderation. You could discard ideas which are too vague, unrealistic etc. You'll probably be getting a lot of complains though...

    And why would it be so bad to give people more votes, or even unlimited votes? Ok, there will be suggestions with hundreds and even maybe thousands upvotes, but so what? You want to see how many people care about each idea and unlimited votes will show you that.

    Currently there are plenty of suggestions with 0 votes. Does this mean that even the author doesn't care about it? Of course not! In many cases it means that it's a nice minor suggestion, but people just can't spare a vote for it, because all of their votes are tied up in more important ideas or in their own posts. This one, for example. It's a small improvement, and probably an easy thing for you to make. And I would've voted for it, if only I had a spare vote..

  • Perhaps one approach is 'seasons' or limited windows of time. For example, at the end of every six months or every year, the ideas with the most votes are reviewed, discussed, and decisions are made by Scirra on implementation. Then the slate gets wiped clean: votes are cleared, and a new list of ideas is generated over the next window of time.

    This allows for a few things in this discussion to be true: fixed, predictable investment and minimal community management for Scirra; managed expectations for users and voters; a reason to post new ideas and vote for others; suggestions kept modern (i.e. in line with new features like 3D); and it gives us all a recurring reason to stay engaged with the ideas platform.

    The time frame, categories, and requirements for a suggestion is of course determined by the Scirra team. Unlimited votes per user allow us to vote without vote management, and wiping them each 'season' prevents that from causing problems.

    Food for thought!

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