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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).

In 2018, there was a major change to the review process to make it more streamlined.

The Group

implosion is responsible for running the group, answering questions and assigning reviewers to upcoming moderators. As of May 2018, here is the full list of members:

Aeronaut, AngryPidgeon, Antihero, borkjerfkin, callforjudgement, Cephrir, ChaosOmega, Cheery Dog, Cheetory6, Cogito Ergo Sum, Empking, Ether, Faraday, Firebringer, Fro99er, Herodotus, Hoopla, implosion, Ircher, JacobSavage, LlamaFluff, Marquis, mastin2, mastina, mhsmith0, mykonian, Nexus, Papa Zito, PenguinPower, petroleumjelly, Plessiez, quadz08, RadiantCowbells, Radja, Regfan, Something_Smart, SpyreX, TellTaleHeart, Tierce, Untrod Tripod, Vi, xRECKONERx, Zar, zoraster

How the process works

(See the page history for the pre-2018 process).

First, the moderator produces a setup they feel is Normal and balanced. It does not necessarily need to have been reviewed in advance, but doing so may be helpful, especially if the moderator is unsure about the balance, as a review under no time pressure can be more accurate than the fairly streamlined process used once the setup has been officially proposed by the moderator.

Next, the moderator submits 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. (Instead of using their own setup, a moderator can ask to be assigned a pregenerated setup; the Normal Review Group maintain a pool of such setups that were designed and reviewed in advance.)

Once the setup has been sent in, the Normal Review Group will appoint two reviewers: a primary and a secondary reviewer. (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.

The primary reviewer has a few options at this point:

  • Approve the setup. It will run as is. This is only done if the reviewer feels that the setup is Normal, and as balanced as it's likely to get.
  • Approve the setup but suggest an alternative setup. This is perhaps the most common option, and is done if the reviewer feels that the setup is Normal, and sufficently balanced to run, but not perfectly balanced; the alternative setup would typically be a similar setup intended to improve the balance (e.g. by changing a role or two). The moderator must choose (via posting in the review thread) to run the original setup, run the alternative setup, or suggest a new setup (in this last case, the review effectively restarts with the new setup suggested).
  • Reject the setup, suggesting an alternative. This happens if the suggested setup is fixably abNormal or too unbalanced to run; the suggested alternative would be a normalcy or balance fix. The moderator may choose to run the suggested alternative setup, or suggest one of their own (in which case the review effectively restarts with the newly suggested setup).
  • Reject the setup, and suggest running an assigned pre-approved setup instead. This happens if the suggested setup is too far from a runnable Normal to be fixed. The moderator may run with an assigned setup, or suggest an alternative setup themself.

The secondary reviewer will in practice normally make comments to help the primary reviewer and moderator make their decisions, but their only formal role is to act as a backup for the primary reviewer if they go missing.

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.; and to give a list moderator or reviewer (who is not playing in the game) access to it. This makes it possible 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.