Alpine Meadow - Lessons Learned

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Patroklus Murakami
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Alpine Meadow - Lessons Learned

Post by Patroklus Murakami »

Now that our 3rd sim, Alpine Meadow, has been open for a short time I thought it might be useful to start a discussion on 'lessons learned' from this expansion, especially with reference to the previous expansion to our 2nd sim Colonia Nova. I'll start by making some general observations about the two expansions and conclude with some principles I think we need to keep in mind when we plan future sims which will need a new theme. (Just to be clear, I don't think we need a new theme for every new sim we add to the CDS. I think our next expansion should simply extend the existing Colonia Nova and Neufreistadt themes by one sim each. But, at some point, we will want to try something new and then we need to learn lessons from the CN and AM expansions).

Both previous expansions took place after public competitions to choose the theme of the new sim. In the first expansion there was only one entrant - Colonia Nova. In the second expansion there were two entrants - Alpine Meadow and Nea Hora. One major difference between the two competitions was the set of guidelines for expansion to new sims added in the meantime. This was designed to allow anyone to come forward with an idea for a new sim for the CDS. The guidelines were such that entrants did not need to have a full, fleshed-out proposal in order to get their idea adopted; some were concerned that any such restrictions would lead to 'builder power' - a de facto veto power wielded by the builders in the community as they would be essential to any successful proposal if detailed proposals were required.

Colonia Nova was a much more fully developed proposal than Alpine Meadow. A team of enthusiasts had been working on the project for a few weeks prior to the contest. The RA had laid down guidelines setting out how much land would be public (10% if memory serves me correctly) and how much residential and commercial. The proposal included a 3D relief map of the sim showing the location of the Forum, Ampitheatre and roads and even rough proposals for the covenants that would apply in different parts of the sim. Once the RA had approved the design, a Sim Planning Committee was formed. This drew in a large number of citizens (and a few non-citizens) to do all the necessary work (logistics, publicity, bureaucracy and building) so that we could purchase and build the new sim. There were, inevitably, a number of decisions to be taken regarding plot sizes, budget and so on but the overall look and feel of the new sim had been set and the process was one of 'making things happen' rather than debating all the details.

Now, the following observations on Alpine Meadow are meant as constructive commentary rather than criticism of any individual or group. I am really happy we have the new sim and I think it's taking shape rather well. Many will know that I supported the other entrant and that I was strongly critical of the idea of joining NFS and CN with our 3rd populated sim (I wanted to build the 3rd sim elsewhere and connect NFS and CN with a void sim at some point in the future when we can afford them).

Alpine Meadow required much more development than Colonia Nova. After the contest, we had a rough 3D model and an idea of the 'vision' for the new sim but very little else. Over a period of several months every detail of the new sim has had to be debated and agreed by committee (largely in the New Guild). The process has been very painstaking and time consuming for all involved. The debate has been very heated at times and has even become acrimonious. The process has stalled at various times; I had to intervene as LRA because I thought it was necessary to get things moving. Others have also posted on these forums in order to clear blockages.

I think we have demonstrated that we can make both methods of expansion work but that the latter comes at a cost in terms of time, goodwill and general angst. Having considered the lessons learned from our recent expansions, I would like to propose some principles that I think will aid us in future expansions where we need a public competition to decide the theme, and invite comments.

  • 1. The RA should clearly set out the purpose of the new sim before the call for entries. The purpose could be to expand our population; to expand our territory; to provide new public facilities (an opera house, a ski slope, a beach); to provide larger plot sizes; or some combination of those, but the purpose should be clearly stated.
    2. Proposals would need to be fully 'thought through'. There's room for discussion about how 'thought through' they need to be but, in the light of experience, I would say more detailed will always be better than less detailed! At a minimum, I would say that the rough terrain plan, architectural theme, layout, plot sizes and prices and budget for construction would be needed. This probably means that a small team will have to work up a proposal before submission but it means far less need for discussion of details after the successful proposal is chosen.
    3. The competition process can probably remain much as it is now. It was designed to provide the possibility of fluidity between the proposals under development so that teams might combine proposals in response to feedback from the public by way of the voting system. We didn't see much of that in the last contest but, strangely enough, I think it would be more likely if the proposals were more detailed rather than less detailed! It's easier to compromise if you're clear about what you want and so is the other party; compromise on 'vision' is far more difficult because, by its very nature, it is a more nebulous quantity.
    4. We need to clarify the roles of all the actors in the process. Gwyn gave us an excellent run down of 'who should do what' but that's buried in one of these threads and needs to be dug out and simplified in order to be a useful guide.

What do others think? I'd be grateful for your comments.

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Justice Soothsayer
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Re: Alpine Meadow - Lessons Learned

Post by Justice Soothsayer »

Thanks for the summary of development of our latest sim, Alpine Meadows. I have not been very involved in CDS matters during the past few months due to other commitments, so have not followed the AM debates very closely. But I am very impressed with the outcome. I am particularly impressed with the Monastery, and am pleased to have made a modest financial contribution to it. I also like how the designers have artfully connected Colonia Nova with the city on the hill (or is it in the clouds?). Given the degree of slope in AM, I do wonder if we might be able to include some interesting subterranean passages in the future.

As we move forward on further territorial expansion, I agree with Pat that plans for new sims should be as detailed as possible, and similarly, the RA should be as specific as possible in issuing a call for designs.

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Passionate Protagonist
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Re: Alpine Meadow - Lessons Learned

Post by symokurka »

I'm a new citizen, i recently bought my land parcel in AM, and here are the reasons why:

1. I was looking for a SIM where natural environment had a strong part
2. I was looking for a steady SIM where changes should be evaluated and discussed
3. I was looking for a low lag - non densely populated SIM
4. I was interested in gettin in touch with an organized community

Hope it might be useful for you.

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