13

This is separate from questions about gameplay during betas, which are a beast of a different caliber with a different set of issues.


We all know the feeling of being excited about an upcoming game release. I mean, we're all gamers, after all! But our FAQ prohibits questions about speculation and upcoming releases.

A question to which the answer, with no uncertainty, does not exist until the release of the game is a question which cannot get a real answer. As such, unless the question is intended to solicit discussion (which is disallowed), its early existence is meaningless. Answerers can't get anything out of it, while the asker can't gain the answer any earlier. So this basically means that we as a site gain nothing from having these kinds of questions.

But we do get these pre-emptitive questions. Questions where it's clear that we cannot answer with any measure of authority until the game's release. Which makes the question either a bed for discussion, or a waste of our time. What should be done with these?

21

I suggest that these questions simply be closed and left closed for pending deletion.

A suggestion that has gone the rounds has been to close the question and then reopen it when the game comes out. But I ask you, what does this do for us? I say it does nothing positive. It creates a bay for speculative discussion if left open (proven by how these questions currently fare before closure), and grants no advantages to the site when closed.

We serve no benefit to having the question early. If it is a question that would've been asked on the game being released, then it would've naturally come after the game comes out. If the point of asking is just to be the one holding the question, then doing it by asking while no one can answer it is just abusive of our site. If we were to reopen these at the time of launch, then the community would be doing all the work, while the author reaps in all of the benefits.

If people want to get the jump on a question, they can patiently wait for the game to come out. If they can't wait and jump the gun, then they should be judged as with any speculation question. They shouldn't get a leg up for doing disallowed actions.

  • 8
    and it means more work for the moderators, who have to keep track of all potentially re-openable questions, and means they would have to pick a "best" closed question to reopen in the case of duplicates. I'm in favor of close -> delete. – Raven Dreamer Mar 1 '12 at 21:56
  • 2
    Agreed. If it's still relevant the asker should re-ask it upon release, and that way it will be seen by those of us who mostly use the "newest" tab. – Matthew Read Mar 1 '12 at 22:05
  • 3
    100% agree. The close-and-reopen policy just allows people to "reserve" questions. – user9983 Mar 2 '12 at 4:12
  • 1
    What about games where a significant amount of information has been released ahead of time, and therefore questions can be answered definitively? Often this information is scattered around various interviews and blog posts, so there is some value in a definitive answer. – David Fullerton Mar 2 '12 at 16:41
  • 1
    @DavidFullerton That, while possible, is not what this post is about. "A question to which the answer, with no uncertainty, does not exist until the release of the game is a question which cannot get a real answer." A question basic enough to be answered from interviews / previews would not fall into this category. – Raven Dreamer Mar 2 '12 at 17:20
  • @David I guess cutting out Betas wasn't enough, hehe. I'm only targetting the case where we know the answer doesn't exist because it is dependent on elements that are established on the game release - points where we can't say that the answer is definitive. If the question is about subject matter that has, in fact, already been released, it shouldn't get closed in the first place. – Grace Note Mar 2 '12 at 17:22
  • I agree on questions related to non-gameplay speculation(eg release dates). On all other cases its a slippery slope, and should be handled on a case by case basis (headache yes, but some questions may be valid pre-release). So I guess the next question is what constitutes "A question to which the answer, with no uncertainty, does not exist until the release of the game is a question which cannot get a real answer." – Brian Mar 2 '12 at 19:52
  • @GraceNote What do you recommend we use for the Close reason? Got one right now I'd like to vote to close. – Sterno Mar 2 '12 at 20:42
  • 2
    @GraceNote Also, there's a related issue... how close to release do we stop closing these questions? 3 days before? 1 day before? 2 hours before? – Sterno Mar 2 '12 at 20:55
  • So what about gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/65119/…? Should we leave it open because someone might know the answer from beta testing? Or close it because the answer isn't commonly known and can't be tested until release? – bwarner May 4 '12 at 20:43
4

Having now seen Grace Note's guidance applied in practice, I don't think a hard and fast rule is warranted or enforceable.

First, it creates confusion for users by pre-supposing the only reason someone would ask a question before release is to either abuse the system or "camp" a question. While it may be true in some cases, it's not guaranteed to be the case, and given our problems with new users understanding how Stack Exchange works, I don't think assuming malice is something we should do in this case.

Second, it creates logistical problems: normally, all things being equal, you should never re-ask a question that has already been asked. This principle is violated by this rule, and if you're not aware of this discussion, you'd likely vote to close as duplicate any new question that attempts to re-ask a pre-release question (I know I have).

Finally, the rule favors gaming by experienced users who understand this relatively obscure rule about Arqade question-asking policy: experienced users who know about this rule can troll all the pre-release questions and re-ask them right when a game gets released, essentially camping questions likely to be popular.

Instead of a rule like this, we should be judging individual questions on their merits: if there's a question that exists pre-release that we can now answer and the question would've survived had it been asked after release, I see no reason not to vote to reopen it provided nobody's re-asked it yet. If the question is not up to snuff, is based on a faulty premise (now incorrect pre-release information), or has already been re-asked before getting re-opened, then by all means delete it.

But given our project to make the internet a better place, having the answer to a question is more important than creating traps users can fall into for the sake of another unbending policy.

  • 1
    I think the last sentence of this whole thing nails it moreso than the actual intent of this answer, haha (even if I agree with both). – Grace Note Jul 9 '12 at 17:28
  • @GraceNote Hah. In all honesty, I like your answer and I upvoted it under the presupposition it'd be used as guidance in moderation rather than another hard policy. I just don't think it's being applied correctly. – user3389 Jul 9 '12 at 17:33
  • 2
    Judging questions based on their individual merits is definitely the best option for pretty much all the classes of questions we've discussed since ITG. – Invader Skoodge Jul 9 '12 at 18:04
  • Hmm, I'm not really sure there's a solution that doesn't leave some room for potential abuse. That said, I was more or less doing this before we had what looked to be hard-and-fast rules about pre-release questions. Thanks for posting your suggested guidance on this topic. – agent86 Jul 10 '12 at 13:58
1

Questions pertaining to game mechanics/items/story/etc which cannot be answered with non-speculative information that is widely available should be closed, and in most cases, deleted in short order. There may be exceptions to deletion, but I suggest reserving that discussion until later.

So, what constitutes "widely available"? Obviously, a released game would be valid. Pre-release open demos are valid, but only for a sub-set of questions concerning the game. Unlimited and open betas may be valid, but there must be an expectation that the beta will be representative of the final product.

What constitutes "speculative information"? I won't use the term in its purely literal meaning. What I mean is that it must be an authoritative source. A dev said quote isn't enough for anything that hasn't been seen and verified. In the same vein, material in a wiki doesn't count if it's concerning future content (as much as it pains me to say it). Any and all pre-rendered video would be considered speculative (the infamous Dead Island trailer is a good example). Even in-game footage might need to be disqualified until release. Promotional video of someone playing a demo might qualify as okay, as long as the demo meets the widely available criteria.

In order to explain these concepts, I'll use Mass Effect 3 as my example, as I currently see 14 tagged questions, 8 of which are open. As a starting point, a common thread through the closed questions is that the word "will" is in most of the titles. We can't predict the future. The questions that are open are solidly worded in the present (at least for the titles). One of them explicitly mentions the demo, although I believe that particular question can be edited come Tuesday and still remain valid. Which brings me to my next point; These particular questions will still be relevant when ME3 is released. In fact, the chance that the answer will change for them is astronomically low. These questions don't go into the story either. The only things these questions deal with is content within the demo, namely abilities, enemies, and mechanics found in the demo. All questions concerning the save import, game mechanics, and story outside the demo have been closed already. Hell, even a question concerning multiplayer, which could be reasonably answered now, is closed, because it was asked back in January.

Lets now work through my two major criteria, as it pertains to Mass Effect 3. Is it widely available? Yes. A free and open demo dropped 2.5 weeks ago (as of this writing) for all platforms that it will ship on. No invitation needed, no limit on participants, either of which would have caused it to fail the test. As long as questions are limited to the scope of the demo, and as long as it's generally agreed that the demo is representative of what's expected in the final release, they should remain open. The ME3 demo is widely regarded as representative of the final game for the portions that it presented. Do questions require speculative information in order to be answered? No. Questions about enemies, tactics in specific situations, some player options, and some gameplay differences are clearly visible in the demo. This question, for instance can be answered fairly easily through trial and error (i.e. try every power and see what works), or by watching a promotional video and verifying the tactic actually works. However, using these criteria, questions concerning the Colossus Thresher Maw seen in one of the promotional videos (just as an example) would have to be closed, since the demo doesn't deal with that part of the game. If another member of the community can't experience it first hand, then that question should be closed.

One more criteria: validity post release. I alluded to this earlier, but if a question is asked about an upcoming game, but the question is only concerned with the demo, it should be closed. Questions not tagged should be closed if answers will not be valid once the final game is released. Relating to ME3, such a question might be titled "What equipment packages in multiplayer can I buy?" Currently, except for the starter pack, there are only two other options available. There may be more once the game is released, and thus the answer would not be valid.

How does this relate to the ideals held by the Stack Exchange network? The widely available criteria: there's a reason some questions get closed for being Too Localized. If I were to ask a question on SuperUser about some software my employer uses for employee time sheets, it would be closed as Too Localized. I think the same applies for limited release betas and demos. The speculative information criteria: we highly encourage community members to cite their sources when applicable. On gaming.se, it can be a little different. While a direct quote from a wiki is usually sufficient, an actual player's experience, backed up by a wiki, carries much more emphasis. And finally, the validity post release: I'll admit that this tends to clash somewhat with the rest of the network. For the rest of the network, if things change, your expected to edit an answer to make it correct, or add a new answer. Here I'm saying the question should just be closed if a given answer is expected to change. I realize that by this logic, a good chunk of Minecraft questions from ~8 months ago and earlier should have been closed, as it was well known to some members of the community that any answer given would likely need updating in the future. Maybe I could use some help in rationalizing this third criteria. Perhaps this criteria should be used with more discretion than the other two. Maybe it's like the U.S. criteria for something that is obscene: I know it when I see it.

-1

My stance: Do not ask questions about a game until that game is officially released.

Betas, demos, etc., should not have questions asked about them. The very nature of these means that they are especially subject to rapid change, and the "Too Localized" close reason is for exactly those kinds of situations.

There may be exceptions made for specific games. For example, Minecraft would have been an excellent candidate for exception to this rule. They should, however, be extremely rare. Maybe Diablo 3 would make a good exception!

"But StrixVaria, real games have volatile content too!"

  • 2
    Betas? Perhaps. Demos? Not so much. Customer previews? I dunno. "Too localized" is actually not exactly for this kind of stuff. – badp Mar 2 '12 at 21:08
  • I'm so glad you included demos in this stance. – user9983 Mar 2 '12 at 21:08
  • 1
    What about games that are routinely updated? Like say... TF2, even? Should we disallow questions on TF2 because it is still (even years after release) a generally volatile game? – Raven Dreamer Mar 2 '12 at 21:09
  • 1
    @StrixVaria Here's a question I asked about Diablo 3 which both supports your position AND makes me disagree with it. I was playing the D3 beta and couldn't figure out how to see info about my skills. I posted here and got the answer quickly (11 minutes!) and apparently other people had this question as well. There's a fairly large beta player base for D3. However, this also backs you up, because the answer did change a month or so later (at which time the answer was updated). – Sterno Mar 2 '12 at 21:10
  • @RavenDreamer For fully released volatile games, we just have to try to keep up as best we can. For betas, we can at least give a blanket rule that will help keep the quality of the site up. – Invader Skoodge Mar 2 '12 at 21:12
  • @Sterno - And I only knew to update that answer because you reminded me. – user9983 Mar 2 '12 at 21:13
  • @OrigamiRobot Like I said, it's an example that can be used both ways! – Sterno Mar 2 '12 at 21:14
  • @Sterno The fact that you can get a good answer quickly doesn't mean that it's a good question for the site. Look at game recs. – Invader Skoodge Mar 2 '12 at 21:15
  • 1
    @StrixVaria True, but my point about the quick answer was it's not like there are only 20 people playing the beta. There's enough people playing it that questions and answers about it are actually going to be useful to a large number of people. And likely to be updated if they become invalid. – Sterno Mar 2 '12 at 21:19
  • 1
    I would argue open betas or late closed betas are hardly different from released games that feature frequent content updates. Many released games have updates every 2weeks -month that can dramatically change game play. If I ask the best way to counter a bio ball as protoss, the answer may change from one year ago to today, but will the old valid answer(from a year ago) get downvoted with a new good answer(yesterday) get upvoted when this happens? probably not. So for the same reason further along betas/demo questions should be allowed. – Brian Mar 2 '12 at 21:25
  • @BrianColvin Please see the link in my edit. – Invader Skoodge Mar 2 '12 at 21:26
  • @StrixVaria edit happend while I was posting I think mb. But the point I was trying to make is still valid, the questions on released games are just as likely not to be updated as the betas. If we're going to exclude betas because the answers may change frequently and no one will update the answers we should also exclude released games that are volatile because the answers also won't get updated. – Brian Mar 2 '12 at 21:38
  • @BrianColvin It's not valid because it has nothing to do with my argument. – Invader Skoodge Mar 2 '12 at 21:40

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .