Room signs failing to prevent novice zones from appearing

  • Dev Team

    How can you claim there’s no documentation for this when we screenshotted the documentation for this? Seriously, read this thread!

    By documentation I mean knowledge base articles, not just posts with ongoing discussions on the PTR forum.

    I can understand your frustration. I just want to ask you to try to put yourself on our place. This topic is way more complicated than you describe, it involves more than just your interests. And please notice that you do have an area to expand - you even don’t have enough GCL to claim all free rooms around you. I still wonder what is your answer to these Sergey’s questions:

    tedivm, there are 23 more free rooms signed by you recently that are still remaining in non-novice zones. How exactly do you plan to claim these 23 rooms on this weekend? For example, do you plan to claim the entire area around E38N32 in the next week?

  • Culture

    I was planning on expanding to the rooms on the right of section E45N35 now that Wurmus has timed out. I was evacuating other rooms storage so I can drop claims, and I built the room in E39N37 specifically so I could have a room which could spawn claimers. My plan was to start claiming rooms there today.

    This "we only said it in the forums but never updated the docs" excuse is not a good one. We took you at your word. Read the other veterans in this thread- they all believed this mechanic worked a certain way. If you're refusing to document these things so you can arbitrarily change them then you better expect a lot more frustration from people.

  • YP

    At first I thought that Tedivm was overreacting a little, but then I saw that the timer is for more than two weeks! This is a pretty severe upset to be hand delivered to a single player, especially one who has been as sharing as Tedivm.

    I think it's important we think about what the state of the community is. We have a couple dozen very dedicated individuals who are spending their time and money in not just _playing_ the game, but making it better for others. It's a sandbox game - that's what happens under ideal circumstances.

    Even if this novice zone was good for the newbies - which I would like to contest, too - it wouldn't be right for the community as a whole. What this sort of aggressive zoning does is that it creates a rift between the devs and the community. With the new Power Creeps update coming up, this is something I would certainly wish to avoid. 

    It may feel wrong to put the plans of the senior ahead of the needs of the junior, and I get that. But we need to realise that the junior are actively benefitting from the services provided by the senior members, like the League of Automated Nations that allows them to see where they are spawning and determine whom not to piss off. It's like trickle down economics, except that it actually works.

    Furthermore, and quite importantly, what do you think those people spawning there are getting out of this? By putting up novice areas next to people who you *know* are going to steamroll them a couple weeks later, you are giving them a false sense of security. I'm not saying life on the edges is easy, but it's considerably safer in the long term than spawning in a high value area that is on someone's "to colonise" list.

    And if you are going to say that those central newbie zones are for more experiences players to gain a foothold in the centre... well frankly, then you're just throwing away the argument about helping the noobs.

    If you are facing an influx of new people, it would be better to either open up in the genuinely desolate regions (if there are any) or just open up a new set of Sectors on the edges. These new sectors will be welcomed by noobs and emerging players alike. Most importantly, *nobody* will be pissed of - something that surely helps maintain Dev-Player relations.

    To conclude this little essay of mine: I propose the newbie zone be lifted (or at least reduced in lifespan) and there to be a change of policy when it comes to opening up these newbie zones next to experienced players. They upset the veterans, invite newbies to locations they cannot survive in, and the benefit they provide could easily be replaced with a simple opening of a new sector or two.

    I hope you will take these words into account as you continue to work to make Screeps a better experience for everyone.

    Best regards,



  • Dev Team

    The thing is that we tried to formalize these rules at some point to add to the documentation (as I promised in that PTR forum post), but failed eventually. Signing is a mechanic with very low cost - one creep can sign dozens of rooms during its lifetime. Using portals, an alliance can sign the entire world map. It is why no rules exist yet. We simply couldn't manage to come up with any reasonable rules regarding this. Forum posts were just a discussion of these potential rules, but they have not appeared after all.

    And since Sergey was strictly following the rules, he decided to make this area novice, since he considered your displayed intentions a bit non-realistic. If he had given any clear instructions of avoiding any signed rooms (written in the documentation articles, he doesn't follow all PTR forum threads as I do), the outcoume could be different. But again - rules don't exist yet.

    And after all, it's all about waiting for 17 days and killing a bunch of novices, isn't it?

  • Culture

    So despite the fact that a bunch of the veterans are obviously upset about this, and despite the fact that I followed the rules you yourself said repeatedly in the forums, you're going to pick this hill to die on and are going to refuse to be flexible and try to correct this issue at all?

  • Culture

    How about you solve this problem for real instead of basically making the feature worthless? Limit the number of rooms that can be signed or something. As it stands now you basically built a feature that you're promising will never actually work, and you're screwing your players over in the process.

  • Culture

    Hell, I'd even be okay with it costing energy or minerals to sign things (or to keep the signatures active). This current state of affairs is completely unacceptable though.

  • Dev Team

    > Show me where in the documentation it says that, Sergey.

    Let's consider we automate the novice area creating and formalize the documentation of it. Then what additional restriction rules you suggest to add, except:

    1. The room is reserved.
    2. The room is signed with a message "I'm going to claim this room in a few days."

  • YP

    "wait 17 days and kill a bunch of novices" - who exactly are you aiming to help here?

    I am asking this very sincerely - those novices aren't going to get a great experience, especially those spawning for the first time. They'll have 20 days to get attached to their base and then have it ripped away from them.

    "It is why no rules exist yet" and then a few sentences later "And since Sergey was strictly following the rules".

    Are you talking about the rules that don't yet exist?

    This is getting to a standoff nobody needed this Sunday. Why can't the dev team just admit that this time Sergei made the wrong call, next time he'll do his best to not create contentious newbie zones. Clear out the newbie zones there for now since they aren't actually offering any protection - "wait 17 days and kill a bunch of novices" - and look like a group of devs that are attentive to their community.


  • Dear Rob and Devs of Screeps,

    I think we can all agree that the mechanism for how novice areas are created in the interior of the map needs reform. There is a clear cycle of concern coming out of the current way of managing this subject. I've personally started a few threads on this voicing my own surprise and concern over the past months.

    That being said, I feel it was relatively clear from the discussions surrounding room signing that this method was advisory. Simply a way to express the player's intent to the developers. There was no reasonable way that this would represent a full proof method. It was never part of any official documentation and the PTR discussions wouldn't count as such. This game is being continuously developed and it is easy to collect contradictory statements from the long series of discussions on hot subjects.

    I also think the Screeps devs need to work on their communication skills. In a game where the community is such a central piece, it would be valuable to invest a little extra energy in managing this relationship.

    Regarding the management of novice areas, I will reformulate the idea collected from the previous discussions which I find the most appealing.

    Any area which the devs would like to turn into a novice area should be flagged as such (visible on the world map/controller signs) for an arbitrary amount of time before this happens (ie 1-3 days). If players reserve/claim rooms in that area in the meantime the novice area will adjust accordingly. At the very least this would give interested players another chance to voice their intentions through new controller signs.

    Kind regards,

    PS: Rob, we haven't always seen eye to eye (most of the time), but the community will suffer from your departure should you decide to go through with it.

  • If I may add my 2 cents:

    The official documentation states that you can prevent novice areas from spawning by reserving or signing:

    > If you don’t want some rooms to get transformed into Novice Areas, you should take care to reserve or at least sign them.

    So, in my honest opinion that novice areas should not have spawned. And the novices there also have a small problem when the novice status expires. (Hint: They will die if tedvm is still around)

    So, basically, the question is now how to handle that:

    • Remove the Novice Area, exposing all new spawned players to tedvm now
    • Keep the Novice Area intact, let tedvm destroy everything there when the borders open.

    There is also the question how to deal with the community:

    • Say "there was no mistake" and loose some valuable pillars of the community
    • Say "We did a mistake, and removed the novice protection" - And what do you tell the players in that novice area?
    • Say "we did a mistake, but we have no idea how to fix it" - I don't know what will happen.

    There is currently no solution to make everyone happy, but I hope that you will find a good one.

  • Culture

    > Then what additional restriction rules you suggest to add, except:

    Signatures do two things-

    * They let players know where territory is claimed by players. This is more of a social construct that makes it so alliances with agreements about territory can follow them easily.

    * They prevent n00bzones from opening up.

    I would leave the signature bit alone so it can be used as a territory marker, but add an ability to mark them as no n00b *for a price*. If I have to send a tagger with a bunch of ghodium to prevent the n00bzone from popping up that's fine.

    The important thing though is that we can't have "fake rules". It's unacceptable to tell us that something will work a certain way and then to just decide that it isn't without notice. It's impossible to play a game where the admins change the rules without telling us.

  • So the devs so far have stated that there are no rules for this ... but that the rules were strictly followed. Hm. 😕

    There is indeed a pretty clear statement towards the bottom of the Novice Area page:

    That is not some random forum. That sure looks like part of the game's core docs to me.

  • @Logxen I get a strong feeling the devs are not native English speakers. This is, unfortunately, a source of continuous frustration, but it also means nitpicking on their choice of words is just inflaming everyone's spirits.

    From the context it feels more like what Artem was saying is:
    - controller signing is advisory and not a hard rule
    - Sergey was strictly following the rules for novice area generation

  • Culture

    I've been one of the first people to tell people not to nitpick over language, and to give the benefit of the doubt when language seems to be a barrier, but there's no excuse for their statements and the official docs to contradict their "shadow rules". In cases where mistakes occur they should be willing to work with us to solve them, which does not appear to be happening here.

  • Dev Team

    I think, one rule we may formalize is that your signing message should contain clear and reasonable date when you plan to claim this particular room. If you don’t have enough GCL, you should explicitly comment that you will drop some of your existing claims.

    So the devs so far have stated that there are no rules for this … but that the rules were strictly followed. Hm. 😕

    No rules regarding signing, I mean.

    That is not some random forum. That sure looks like part of the game’s core docs to me.

    Documentation is documentation, discussion is discussion. Discussion may eventually result in some documentation, or may not.

    Folks, it is Sunday evening. Let’s please take a timeout until tomorrow. I think we’ll come up with some compromise solution then.

  • Culture


    This is a game. Most of us have jobs. We spend the week doing our jobs. We spend the weekend playing the game. By delaying until tomorrow you're essentially forcing me to wait a week. This isn't fair, especially since I opened a ticket with you on Friday- no one forced you guys to ignore this until now, but you're forcing me to live with your decisions.


    If there is certain data that should have been in the signatures it's your job to document that. I followed the rules and am now being punished for doing so, and frankly I expected more out of the admins here.

  • I stand with you on this subject Rob. The devs have mismanaged their relation to the community more than once. An area which could certainly use improvement. Personally, I like to imagine the Screeps devs like some basement hackers with serious social disabilities. Most devs I know have some "deficiencies" in this department.

    Whatever the case, my main desire is to temper the spirits a little bit. I feel your reaction could be qualified as out of bounds. Atlan was certainly a lot more justified to be outraged with that funny novice area which appeared multiple times. Check out the older thread, it's a real doozy.

  • Culture

    I agree with the players voice in this case.

    It's clear in the documentation that signing a room will make it noobzone-proof if it's been signed in the last 5 days. There is no way to misinterpret those rules.

    The noobzone in question will have noobs in it who will probably be bombarded with nukes/boosted creeps the second the walls go down, this is not good from a gameplay and noob experience perspective.


    I would highly suggest to NOT create noobzones in established worlds anymore. If you spawn outside a noobzone you should have code which can deal with attacks, and use safe-mode effectively. 

  • Dev Team

    I’d like to quote my post from that old PTR forum thread:

    Every day will be safe. I think even 2-3 days is a good estimate. We’ll add this to the documentation when this feature goes live.

    I clearly stated that in case if/when this rule becomes a thing, it is to be added to the documentation. It has not been added. The signing feature has been launched, but the “novice area signing rule” has not been introduced neither in the changelog nor documentation. You seem to have misinterpreted some ongoing non-finished discussion as an already established rule, and I apologize that I might be not very clear (English is not my native language indeed), but I think it should be obvious that forum contents cannot be considered as some strict game mechanic rules. Sometimes in hot discussions on the PTR forum I make diametrically opposite statements, while we are in the process of considering some complicated topics. But they only take effect when they make it to the docs, not while they are being discussed.

    It’s clear in the documentation that signing a room will make it noobzone-proof if it’s been signed in the last 5 days

    Could you please provide a link to the docs page containing such a rule?