Policy Review Relocating Secondary Ability

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Context:
Currently, the art submissions wrap up 48 hours after secondary ability closes. This has space to be expanded, but likely happens within the week. Every CAP, those that want to have a chance to win the Art poll need to attempt to fit their design to as many competitive stages as possible in order to maximize their chances. Along with this, there is a strong benefit to building support for your design over time and gain momentum over the course of weeks or even months. However, Secondary ability is the current biggest cause of difficulty for artists, as unlike stats which are fairly tweakable with body proportions, abilities can require completely different cues to be appropriate.

Some examples:
Saharaja had the chance of either being Moxie or Serene Grace- arguably the complete opposite design routes.
Miasmaw had the chance of Motor Drive, Punk Rock, and Thick Fat.
Astrolotl had the chance of being Poison Touch, Volt Absorb, Weak Armor.

Hopefully its clear to see that while we can scout beforehand for potential secondaries people might like, the scope of designs is just completely impossible to cater for and you'll have to roll the dice and hope you match the secondary in the end.
The pacing of CAP does not allow us to add several additional weeks after secondary ability choice for artists to make designs, which makes this somewhat hard to solve without a process change in some way.

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Proposition:
I believe that when we pick a primary ability that is core to the mon's identity (a 4/5 star ability, and/or an immunity) that there is almost no precedent in the secondary ability seeing any competitive play. In this situation, it should be considered akin to "flavour" (it can still be competitive in theory, but just outclassed completely like serene grace this CAP). We can decide these unimpactful flavour abilities once the artwork is chosen- and the extra limitation given by making it fit the artwork should be a) unimportant as the ability wont see much/any use, b) irrelevant anyway as we already pick unflavourful moves like rapid spin/leech seed Saharaja and this should extend to flavour abilities if its desired.

The amount of CAPs that use their secondary ability can be counted on one hand- and out of them, even fewer were built with the Primary/Secondary format. While I'm not suggesting secondary ability should be retired as a stage, at this point we can use foresight to see whether the primary ability is essential to gameplay/executes concept in a strong enough manner and allow artists an easier time if so- which is likely to be the majority of the time. The last CAP where secondary saw any use was Equilibra, and then arguably Naviathan (Equilibra has its secondary removed), and Smokomodo and Jumbao had different processes than Primary/Secondary abilities. Even counting Equilibra they have been so sporadic that its barely happened at all.

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Proposed new pipeline in the situation that primary ability is central:

v
1) Primary ability stage
2) Stats stage
3) Primary ability centrality eval
4) Art poll
5) Secondary ability stage
v


For the last point in this section I wanted to highlight some areas in which Secondary Ability before Art could be seen as necessary:
1)
The concept has a high amount of depth, and the Primary Ability touches on a very specific niche inside it- with much more room for exploration. Example: Jumbao
2) The primary ability is mild, and doesn't define the mon. There is clearly a power budget for more abilities here. Example: Cyclohm
Its also worth noting that both of these concepts had 2 abilities in mind before even reaching the secondary stage- Cyclohm's was outlined in the concept, and Jumbao we decided to do a sun and a sand ability prior.


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Counterpoints that might come up:

Counterpoint: We always end up with a great CAP design that fits all the criteria. So why does it matter?
Answer: Because everyone puts a ton of time and effort into their design, and it can get wasted unnecessarily for several artists due to uncontrollable/unpredictable factors.

Counterpoint: CAP is competitive first, flavour second. So unfortunately it doesn't matter
Answer: Correct- which is why we're not asking for this to happen unless the secondary ability is not going to see use- something we are very capable in predicting. Furthermore, because competitive is so important, secondary ability choice can bypass the flavour mismatch if necessary- but this should happen AFTER the art poll because its such a heavy weight on what succeeds and fails.

Counterpoint: You don't have to fit all the criteria to do well in the Art Poll!
Answer: You need to match as much as you can in order to have a chance to win the art poll- which is different than just placing well. Overwhelming majority of recent wins have happened on the back of being very fitting to multiple stages. And furthermore, even if you don't have the intention to win, you will place higher if you have the chance to make a more suitable design and take that opportunity. I know many of the artists are looking to win the art polls, not just do well!

Counterpoint: You cant predict whether the primary will be essential
Answer: I believe we can, off the back of whether it is a tier-defining ability such as Regenerator or an ability that adds unrivalled benefit like an immunity. Its clear that something like Sheer Force, Moxie or Poison Touch could be swapped out for others due to their one-dimensional benefits. Furthermore, we have the ability to not only predict, but decide whether the primary will be essential or not.

Counterpoint: This will slow down the process
Answer: Despite Art poll needing to wrap up before Secondary Ability poll, I think Secondary Ability discussion can still happen before the Art poll wraps up- as this thread doesn't lock anything in as a design requirement yet. We should be able to poll Art 48 hours after Stats result (something that is more easily worked around due to stat limits being outlined clearly) and then keep stages flowing with Secondary Ability discussion while Art is polling. Art poll takes up to 5 days maximum, while Secondary Ability discussion takes around a week- meaning Secondary poll should be able to happen the day after Art results without causing a major break.

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And lastly I'll conclude that the exact same abilities could be placed on CAPs before or after art poll. The only difference is that an ability before art poll hurts art submissions, while the same ability after art poll might suffer being a less flavourful fit- which shouldn't matter in the scope of competitive-focused CAP. If a Secondary ability suffers heavily in the polls because its unflavourful then it probably doesn't stand out from the other options that much competitively (all of which should be viable anyway), which is the basis for the voting. Thanks for listening!
 
I've personally experienced the proposed situation- of a design being warped too far to fit a secondary- at least once or twice now, and I agree that it feels more trouble than it's worth. The idea of secondary as a flavour ability sounds much more appealing to me as an artist.
 

Mintly

formerly Spook
is an Artist
1658703120902.png

Jokes aside, i've been practically begging for this privately. Art designs can get so messed up when abilities come into play. While not being the secondary ability, I remember how artists scrambled to edit their designs when Comatose was selected. So having to do something like that twice sounds like hell. Saharajah faced this with Serene Grace, as a ton of harsher looking designs had to become "elegant".
 

Da Pizza Man

Pizza Time
is a Pre-Contributor
1) Primary ability stage
2) Stats stage
3) Primary ability centrality eval
4) Art poll
5) Secondary ability stage
I feel like having a separate stage to determine how essential our primary ability is feels really unnecessary, as I'm really struggling to figure out what it actually provides to the process as a whole (I don't really see how us having a discussion on whether or Water Absorb would be necessary for Saharaja to run would have helped with the actual process in any way from a competitive standpoint).

That being said, I'm perfectly fine with moving the Secondary Ability Stage until after the art poll. We already have a couple of stages that we need to get done after the Art poll ends anyways (Name, # of prevos, and Sprites), so I don't see any harm in pushing off a relatively minor competitive step to just give artists more leeway with their designs.

So yeah, just cut #3 and I'm fine with how this looks.
 
I am also a mere artist who has been blindsided more than once by ludicrous secondaries (despite the fact that most of my losses were because I didn't follow the primary well enough) and would greatly benefit from not having to worry about it during the design process.
 

dex

En Aften Ved Svanefossen
is an official Team Rateris a Top Social Media Contributoris a Forum Moderatoris a Community Contributoris a CAP Contributoris a Top Contributor
Moderator
While I think the intention here is good, this should be expanded upon. I've prepared an additional solution to moving secondary after art:
  1. Have the secondary ability discussion and poll occur directly after the primary ability is voted upon, before any other competitive stages. This essentially eliminates the time crunch artists feel due to secondary ability occurring so close to the deadline, giving people enough time to alter their designs should they so choose. I feel like this is also just a generally good thing, as if a secondary is chosen, which I expand upon in the section below, it can be used to help inform stat discussions instead of the other way around, which feels more natural to me.
  2. Start each secondary ability discussion thread with the following question: "Is a secondary ability necessary/beneficial towards achieving the concept in this instance?" This helps cut down on needless secondary abilities because, as you stated, secondaries are often not necessary and it can be fairly straightforward to see when, especially when a CAP has a powerful ability. This question is already part of the process, but the issue with the stage currently is that it almost always goes to a poll with possible secondary abilities and No Secondary tacked on. There are usually enough generally attractive options in the secondary ability poll that people get excited about despite them not being necessary that No Secondary will rarely, if ever, win. I would propose that the discussion on if a secondary is meaningful towards achieving the concept results in a consensus that it is not, the secondary ability poll is skipped entirely. Reducing the chance for a secondary ability to even go to a poll would assuredly ease artists lives, and this way, flavor is in no way impacting competitive voting.
 
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While I think the intention here is good, there could be some adverse affects on the competitive process that you haven't stated here. As has been stated ad nauseam, competitive comes first; what worries me with this proposal is the fact that the art would impact what secondary abilities are chosen. Every now and then, flavor reasoning seeps into the competitive process, and while we do our best to avoid it, bias is inevitable.
My solution only suggests Secondary be after Art when it wont see competitive use, so this shouldn't be considered part of competitive process. If the Secondary is part of that CAP's competitive process and has importance in the particular project it should remain before Art.
 
I think this is a solid proposal, that benefits both the creative and competitive process in making the flavor more consistent and removing competitive clutter.
Dexs proposal for structuring secondary ability seems like a good way forward.

I agree, that this change will positively impact the Design Submissions and thus flavor consistency as well as competitive, as it helps reduce clutter, making possible sets for newcomers more obvious.

Not having to care about a secondary ability, which is decided just before art deadline, will relieve stress for artists and help flavor consistency.
Additionally it can have a positive impact on competitive as it helps remove unnecessary clutter (think compound eyes Miasmaw or Serene Grace Saharaja), since ability also impacts additional moves (Dragon Rush Miasmaw, Poison Jab Saharaja).
This helps players in the builder, as they only can chose abilities that actually have competitive merit (especially apparent for Miasmaw on ladder, which very often is run with Compound eyes), as well as helping players in battle as the sets you’ll find on ladder become more consistent.
Another positive aspect is, that this order gives more importance to secondary ability if we decide it’s necessary, as stats will take it into account, enabling us to chose abilities with similar competitive impact as our primary ability, which ensures, that both abilities actually get competitive usage.

As for how to structure the process I agree with dex, that After ability one is decided, we can take a decision if another ability that adds competitive value is necessary for competitive viability or to explore other aspects of the concept.
This can be done through a short discussion phase and subsequent poll or TLT decision (i think both have merit).

If a secondary competitive ability is deemed not necessary, it means we can view the secondary generally as flavor ability one and decide on it after art concludes.
If it is considered necessary for competitive viability or concept exploration, imo we immediately can jump into ability two discussion.
Obviously there is merit in stats informing the decision on a secondary ability, but there’s also merit in secondary ability informing stats.

Having stats follow secondary ability means we can take it into account, which enables us to look into abilities that match the primaries power level. This frankly makes sense if we want to fully explore concepts and have a Mon that actually makes use of both competitive abilities.

The caveat is that we might not be able to fully tailor the stat spread around our primary ability and that stat submissions will become more complex in case of two competitive abilities.
A solution to this might be to move the poll of secondary ability after stats or even after art subs, while still deciding on a slate before the stats.
Although the former will impact Art again and might skew stat submissions, so Im not fully behind this idea and the second means we have a lot of time between deciding a slate and polling, which can make voting awkward.

I agree, that this change will positively impact the Design Submissions and thus flavor consistency as well as competitive, as it helps reduce clutter, making possible sets for newcomers more obvious.

TLDR: Decide if a secondary competitive ability is necessary immediately after primary ability is chosen. If it is deemed necessary continue immediately with secondary ability before stats.
This has a positive impact on both following competitive and flavor stages
 
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The main thing that I think that needs to be preserved inside dex's and amamama's extra ideas is the aspect of "will a secondary see use? if not, then it shouldn't happen before art", which is the crux of the original post. I feel wary about the framing of "do we want a secondary? can we fill the concept more here?" etc. because Serene Grace directly interacts with Saharajas concept. Magician fills Astrolotl's concept in ways the primary does not. Both of these abilities will not see any competitive play. As long as the focus of any new secondary decision-making stage evaluates whether the primary is central to gameplay, then I'm sure most artists would be more than happy to also move the whole secondary ability stage after primary- that'd be a much appreciated additional change.

Just to clarify why we would want to ensure the above when "moving secondary after primary is already giving artists an improvement"- basically, there's no reason not to include this no matter what route moves forward. For the reasons mentioned in my original post, having a flavor stage (useless secondary) before art gives artists extra burdens that can disqualify their designs which often begin as soon as primary abilities start being thrown around. So its important that even if we do decide to do a secondary that plays with the concept, that this only happens as a competitive stage before art when it will see competitive use.
With that in mind, these suggestions only go further than my original suggestion when it comes to making artist's lives easier, with bigger restructurings that I thought would be feasible to suggest and get pushed through. So I'm sure artists would be on board for it, though I can understand that primary -> stats -> secondary happens for a reason so that stats aren't stretched impossibly between two abilities. The idea of not doing a secondary at all if its deemed to be an non-competitive ability, I don't really have an opinion on and I don't mind either way.
 
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Yeah, I can see us waiting for Art to decide Secondary Ability, but we can also decide whether the Secondary Ability becomes Hidden once we get our Flavor Ability, if need be.
 

Quanyails

is a Top Artistis a Community Leaderis a Community Contributor Alumnus
CAP Co-Leader
The timing between secondary ability results and art deadline has always been contentious, and it's a topic I've been interested in addressing.

Essentially, I agree with the arguments for changing the process such that secondary ability doesn't act as a curveball for CAP art. The stress and loss of quality art hasn't been worth the tradeoff in what has been, in recent history, a low-impact change.

Personally, instead of adding a new stage, I think we should incorporate the proposed change into existing the CAP process:
  • We could keep the current order of events but open art polls after stats (48 hours?).
  • Traditionally, we've used Concept Assessment to discuss how the order of CAP process stages. For instance, with concepts such as Chromera and Venomicon, we decided early on to discuss ability first. I think this could be an adequate location to discuss CAP process order. If needed, splitting out a new stage so as to not overload discussion could be a future option.
In any case, though, I think the original proposal has significant benefits, and (speaking as an artist foremost) I think it should be pursued.
 
i don’t have any objections. Fitting a design with the primary ability in mind would probably be best. A lot of amazing designs get dunked on because of the secondary ability, and it’d give them a Better chance to stand on their own merits.
 

Quanyails

is a Top Artistis a Community Leaderis a Community Contributor Alumnus
CAP Co-Leader
The mod team has discussed the topics addressed in this thread and proposes the following alternative suggestion:
The deadline for the CAP art poll will be moved to 48 hours after stats are decided (instead of 48 hours after Secondary Ability is decided).
As this alternative suggestion is not a full match for thread consensus, we will be re-opening the thread to allow additional discussion before making a final decision.

Motivation

Although the thread consensus solves the real issue faced by artists, it adds yet another decision for competitive steps regarding secondary ability, which mods found unnecessary to solve this issue. The alternative suggestion above allows artists to finish their designs during the lengthy stats block of the process, which includes stat limits and stat submissions. Furthermore, because stat limits provide general design information of the final product as well, artists can also work during the stat submissions stage with more design parameters in mind. CAP art submissions that accommodate typings, defining moves, primary ability, and stat limits ought to reflect the final product well enough, even if a potential secondary ability and certain moves do not necessarily fit the design.
 
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