I would not air this in a public forum if these thoughts were hastily made or consequences ill-considered, and I truly hope the concerns of this post are taken in the same good faith they are given in. There is great love in my heart for Tolkien’s world, and in many ways ArdaCraft is the closest any of us will get to Middle-earth.
Right, lets get to it. There is a curse on ArdaCraft, one that’s over a year and a half old, that of the Breevamp. (Breevamp to refer to both Bree, and the Breelands)
A project which has seen more changes in leadership than any project in recent memory and seen even more changes in style than that. There are parts of Bree that are quite good, and others which, just aren’t. I would reckon I am not alone in the observation that Bree is in a sort of precarious position, and I do not believe I am alone either in seeing the strain it is putting on the server. I put no blame on any one person, and I implore no one to do so, as the failings of Bree historically and currently are due to a variety of factors I will try to gather here.
Let us start with the uncontrollable factors that put Bree in a bad spot, as these are easiest to reconcile with.
1. The original Bree is, as of this month, 6 years old. A project this old would invariably cause a massive headache, as what was there has little to no relation to the vision of the project today.
2. The Breevamp has, since its inception, always existed in a state of uncertainty. Beginning as a project that sought to push the boundaries of CR 1.12 to one of 2 leading projects on a brand new 1.15 server, it is easy to see how this project got so messy. The method by which we plan and build fundamentally changed with the update, and there has been even greater change in this regard in the last months, with projects like Anorien starting and Minas Tirith rolling forward, building now is a completely new game. Current Bree has become a mashup of a 1.12 project, a servers first attempt at a completely new mod, and our current capabilities as a server. This is an issue when we consider our attempt to build a congruent depiction of Tolkien’s work.
3. Inconsistent leadership. A factor that needs no introduction to those in the know. To be clear, this point is not a personal criticism of those who have other priorities than ArdaCraft. The changing leadership that have each introduced stylistic changes and then for one reason or another left the project have, with the best of intentions, royally screwed any chance at cohesion.
4. Fewer apprentices/builders applying for plots. I do understand that Bree has likely the most use of plot building given the early state of other projects at the moment, but the truth is the builders we have are stretched thin. Minas Tirith is a massive project which in the best of circumstances would take years, that currently has open plots that have sat for weeks. No offense to Eag and Rota, but there are many projects I’d way rather be doing than MT.
The truth is AC itself is in an awkward position, that despite a high influx of apprentices and builders
who have showed skill on other servers, we have an actual skeleton crew of active builders, no
doubt due in some parts to rapid advancements in CR versions and others that are too deep to
attempt an explanation in an already long post.
All this to say, there is a serious consideration to be had on the topic of spreading ourselves too thin, a problem we attempted to quell with the closing of Tharbad and Caras Galadhon earlier this year, but one that inevitably returned. With the state of Bree as it is, I fail to see how it in anyway helps the server.
And for those that we can control:
1. Flippant style changes. This occurred due to reasons that were uncontrollable, but the outcome of a Bree that mixes mod versions, scales, and visual stylings to the nth degree was entirely avoidable. We have had Bree “figured out” a half dozen times, and yet somehow Bree become an incoherent mix of all of them, with the added bonus of extra hands trying to reach in and “fix” an already unstable base.
The lack of a clear vision for the project has caused a huge headache for the project leaders, and extreme frustration for the builders who worked on it. We are treading water, muscles weary, with no end in sight.
2. The current appointment of a project lead with 0 experience. Despite occasionally butting heads I wish to clear any misjudgment about this statement, it is entirely impersonal. Solly rejoined the server at the end of March, making him fairly new to ArdaCraft. There are 0 people that could easily deal with the Bree that has passed between hands (clearly), but giving such a task to someone with no experience leading even a homestead, is downright foolish. Solly has clearly shown an aptitude for recruitment to his project, and this is extremely healthy and good for the server, but it is an attitude that must be applied to projects with a strong base and vision, which Bree just hasn’t had.
3. The inability to let go of a sinking ship. Bree is in a bad place right now, we all know it. The stance of “we just need to finish it” is, while an understandable position to hold, one that is causing more harm than good and more work in the long run. Bree at best barely fits the standards on the older parts of the map, and at worst falls short of the new capacities we have seen our builders reach. If you really say current Bree stands as a project that won’t need a revamp in the future, you are lying to yourself. It would be better for AC in the long run to give Bree time to breathe, rather than force an outcome leading to a revamp in the future.
Due to the above mentioned factors, I say that the Breelands revamp should be stopped and tabled for the time. I understand that a lot of time has gone into the Bree we have made, but the truth is that Bree, in its current state, does not reflect what ArdaCraft is capable of in execution, and this will not change should the project be ham-fisted to completion upon the unsteady foundation its sits. The time we have spent on Bree as a server is invaluable, and given some time to cool off, reset and begin again in the future with the passion and clear vision it deserves, I have no doubt it can be one of the best places on the server. Dwell not on the fallacy of a sunk cost, we can do better, and we all know it.
It would be far too easy to dismiss this proposal as the ravings of someone caught up in unreasonably high expectations for a server with too many projects. Given Bree’s importance, being 1 of 2 places in the Shire/Breelands that most guests will visit. It matters, and it being good matters.
I would also contend that the use of buildings made for a completely different game (1.12) and the presence of over a dozen incohesive architectural styles illustrates my point exactly, this isn’t a regard of personal taste, it’s a total devolution from our capabilities. In comparison to projects happening simultaneously, (rural Anorien being the most applicable at the moment), it is clear to see that Bree falls behind the quality this server can achieve in creating the living, breathing version of Middle-earth we seek, and when the Eriador/Lindon revamp comes (elves, hobbits and men oh my) we will certainly view it as in need of a total revamp if it continues. Let’s avoid Breevamp#Unkown.
To the admins and overseers who have doubtless spent more than their fair share fielding rumors, complaints, and discussions about this project, I would highly recommend truly considering this proposal, I know this solution only saves us all work in the end.
I would hope this may be discussed at the community meeting this Saturday should anyone want, though I can also appreciate the value of the great emotional mediators that are long form text and time to think, and I would appreciate responses for those things I inevitably missed.
To the project leaders, (those of the past as well) and all the builders who have sunk time into Bree, I do hope, should this desired outcome come to fruition, you do not feel your time wasted. Bree has been a massive learning experience for us all, and given time to rest Bree could be as great as we all want it to be.