Normal Game Review Group
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The Normal Game Review Group are a group of members who are responsible for reviewing moderators' set-ups in the Mini Normal and Large Normal Queue, as well as any Normal games run in the Micro Queue. All games are reviewed for normalcy (as defined by the Normal Game guidelines), and to ensure that they are sufficiently balanced. (Prior to May 2016, the balance part of the review was optional; the reviews were introduced in late 2010).
N is responsible for running the group, answering questions and assigning reviewers to upcoming moderators. As of September 2016, here is the full list of members:
- Aeronaut, AngryPidgeon, Antihero, borkjerfkin, callforjudgement, Cephrir, ChaosOmega, Cheery Dog, Cheetory6, Cogito Ergo Sum, Empking, Ether, Faraday, fferyllt, Herodotus, Hoopla, JacobSavage, LlamaFluff, Marquis, mastin2, mykonian, N, Natirasha, Nexus, Papa Zito, petroleumjelly, Plessiez, quadz08, Regfan, SpyreX, Tierce, Untrod Tripod, Vi, Radja, xRECKONERx, , Zar, zoraster
How the process works
First, the moderator produces a setup they feel is Normal and balanced, but it does not need to have been reviewed at this point (and thus there is little benefit to asking for a setup review in advance). They submit their
/in to mod in the Normal (or, if appropriately sized, Micro) Queue (see How to Mod). At this point the List Mod of the queue in question (as of May 2016, N or Marquis for the Normal and Micro queues respectively) will contact the moderator, asking for details of the setup (all the opening posts, the wording of each role PM, and information on any information about how the setup is run that is not obvious from these).
Once the setup has been sent in, the Normal Review Group will appoint three reviewers (depending on reviewer availability, this might be almost immediate or might wait for reviewers to become available). The reviewers and the game's moderator will be invited into a private topic to discuss the setup. In addition to balance concerns, discussion often revolves around ensuring that the ruleset is reasonable, checking the wording of roles and flavour to ensure that no misleading information is being given and no information that should be secret is being given away, and ensuring that all roles and mechanics function in a Normal manner. Especially with first-time moderators, the Normal Review Group also have a tendency to dispense advice on how to moderate, especially if they foresee a problem arising in the setup that a new moderator might not know how to deal with.
In order for the setup to be able to take signups, all three reviewers must agree that the setup is normal and balanced; if there are problems with the setup, the moderator is allowed to change part or even all of the setup to resolve the issues. (If a reviewer refuses to agree to the normalcy or balance of part of a setup, this is basically a "veto" that forces the moderator to change that part of the setup or else be unable to run it. These are rare, because most moderators change parts of the setup voluntarily upon being told that they're problematic.) Once all three reviewers agree, one of them will contact the list moderator, who will allow the setup into signups if it was previously held at the front of the queue awaiting review. (A setup is allowed to move through the moderator queue even while it is being reviewed; it simply can't go into signups without a completed review, and will thus be stuck at the front of the queue until the review is completed, with subsequent setups overtaking it.)
If a moderator changes their mind about running a setup, they can cancel the review via an
/out to mod in the queue, or by saying so in the review topic. Merely ceasing to post in the review topic is discouraged, as it causes uncertainty as to what should be done about the setup and/or the place in the moderator queue.
Once the game actually starts running, it is good practice to link from the review topic to a moderator topic that records the distribution of roles, night actions, etc.. This allows a list moderator to recover the game if the game's moderator goes missing. Finally, once the game is complete, the review topic is made public.
Why the group exists
After a sequence of poorly designed Normal Games, a gradual push in Mafia Discussion towards mandatory game reviews was sparked; at the time, the culture of reviewing was heavily entrenched for Theme Games, but not so much for Normal Games. The tendency for Normal Games to be modded by newer mods, coupled with varying opinions of what Normal really was, was enough to push it over the edge, leading to policy being put in place defining normalcy.
Though the Normal Game Guidelines attempt to be objective in many ways, there are still gray areas that are dealt with in a subjective manner, and interpreted by the setup reviewers. The Normal Game Guidelines are reviewed and updated on a semi-regular basis, with public discussion having a large influence on how the guidelines are structured.