Consensus by committee is a much derided form of management – criticisms include a tendency towards appeasement and an easy middle ground. But this week the Clanbase, Crossfire & AEF admins, in partnership with the ET Committee fought back against the trend and made an alteration that caused outrage.

But there’s one question on everybody’s lips - who are the shadowy group of pros that’re now steering the future of the game? Similarly what is it that has prompted this current crop of admins to consummate their relationship with the pros and what motivates the players to get involved?

To understand the current committee we must first look at the history of decision making in Enemy Territory. There’s always been a tempestuous mix of admin leadership, player consultation and community backlash. This was how Kajab first brought in the removal of XP, how Cash limited the spam and how TosspoT pushed through 5on5. All important decisions that weren’t taken without thorough discussion; discussion with the relevant admins, experienced community members and the highskill players themselves. Although never once were these three groups of community members collated into one weighted committee.

So this week we delve into the deep recesses of the ET Committee. How does it work? Who is involved? What does it do?

The ET Committee is a group of players, admins and team managers brought together in the April of this year to discuss the configs, structure and tournament settings for the recently announced AEF LAN tournament. The membership sought to include those attending AEF, with a few exceptions, and one from each clan. Under the leadership of Krosan their overall aim was to fine tune the gameplay elements of the 5 v 5 format. Their purpose was to advise Krosan on maps, slight alterations to the configs and give feedback on any new tactics or exploits that negatively impacted the game giving a real time alternative to the close minded administrator perspective. Theirs was a broad church in which players were free to make suggestions and set the discussion – under the close guise of Krosan.

This initial relatively small group was later expanded to directly include representatives from ClanBase and the ESL whilst incorporating yet further a larger poule of the high skill talent.

image: krosan image: killerboy

image: snakev image: evox

image: dialer image: dragot

image: gifted image: jere

image: rossw image: twidi

image: urtier image: clownf

• The Structure

The ET Committee works in the flexible open environment of a private irc channel. A point of discussion is set in the topic with players invited to offer their opinion on a broad range of topics.

There is no set meeting time and discussion took place over a number of months. Each clan member offered their perspective and relayed that of their teams. There was no formal voting and Krosan merely took onboard the viewpoints of its members.

This formulation appears to have been a positive one allowing for a freedom not usually allowed when discussing change with a hostile community.

Although in theory the ET Committee might appear a relatively contrived and formal the reality is a stark difference. It’s a sprawling mass of discussion veering from the relevant to the inane. It is as you would expect any irc channel of this nature to be – the mundane mixed in with the sublime. Topics of conversation veer from cheating to spawntimes, clan progression to supply. But each and every step is necessary to further in the players and the admins acceptance of one-another allowing for a greater dialogue down the road. Every conversation has a purpose and every segway a reason. The mood was a sanguine one.

This however was not a constant as tempers flared when the discussion turned to that of spawntimes on Frostbite. A test tournament was agreed in principle but days later as discussion took place in private this decision was reversed, without apparent reasoning given to the channel as a whole. This lack of a test tournament and more specifically the lack of open debate so angered Clown that he later left the channel and the committee in frustration. No longer playing a role in the decision making process. His cited reasoning being that the ET Committee did not live up to expectations and he believed certain members carried greater sway than others – which was not what he signed up for. However this member left their stamp having created the much vaunted Supply trickjump script. But these small hiccups only further cemented the committee’s eagerness to leave a legacy on the AEF tournament.

Whilst a noble pursuit the ET Committee does have a number of detractors, not all without substance. A lack of serious detailed discussion between all the members; as opposed to the most vociferous, would be the major failing of this committee. Discussion rarely veered beyond a few paragraphs and the arguments for and against were never fully debated. Perhaps the early departure of a more outspoken committee member meant players were more reticent to disagree. An alternative perspective could be that whether by design or coincidence there was relatively few dissenting voices within the ET Committee. They all broadly agreed on the topics up for discussion, with only the most outlandish suggestions; such as nerfing riflenades, causing contention.

Further questions on the legitimacy of the ET Committee could also be raised as to its makeup. Is there an over representation of the Engineer class? With over a third of the active players involved regularly playing Engineer should there be any surprise that the point of discussion tended to focus around mines and the limiting of rifle grenades? Each and every class gives a player a different perspective of the game. Medics love to frag, the revive and the fluidity of the game. Engineers love to spam and cause chaos. Could this over representation have caused a bias? Looking at the discussion that took place I don’t believe this to be the case. The players involved are all experienced and know only too well the consequent damage that their rivals could also do with the increased spam. I’d also consider it a fault to question the trickjumping skills of the participants – as all have proven themselves at a consistently high level. These negatives should not detract from the overall aim and suggestions put in place by the ET Committee – and one should only remember the standard of play by those that’ve pushed through some of the greatest and highest impacting changes in our history. Was Cash ever anything more than a pub star?

The reality of the ET Committee and how it worked in practice was to give legitimacy to suggestions made by the admins and at the extremities to flush out the most terrible ideas.

As their conclusions were made public the ET Committees reaction’ to the community backlash was one of utter surprise, bordering on a flippant disregard to community feedback. But this is no great surprise when you consider the ET Committee spanned four months and all the members are heavily invested, considering the consultation process and the eventual outcome to be a fair one that’ll positively impact the game – with all the changes suggested having been extensively tested beforehand.

All that’s left is for Krosan to have his word:

QuoteThe most important thing is that people know that this committee is put in place to help me as head ET admin for AEF, to get instant feedback from top players, without having to make ridiculous crossfire polls all the time, without having to make columns with endless discussion before actually getting the feedback I want. I don't want the AEF settings to be close-minded from an admin-perspective only, so I gathered people that I know and that others recommended [to] me. Normally I used to speak only to reload, night and maybe jere etc to get some opinions, but this committee is wider and has more different perspectives. I can't really say I care about all the fuss surrounding it, because in the end it's my feedback group, and I can do whatever I want with it. I don't need the community's consent. People who are lol'ing about Gifted or eVo in there are just retarded, they're completely clueless. Gifted gives another point of view than the very top, he's perhaps not high+, but I don't care really, I like his input and it's valuable in discussions. And eVo, well he's a manager, and that's an important part of a LAN structure. This is about AEF, and I want a top manager's opinion when I want feedback.

About the "decisions" that the committee has supposedly made, well... these aren't decisions, they are proposals. I'm looking for AEF to perhaps change the game a bit more towards 5on5 format. Didn't we change the fops chargebar just yet, and the riflenades just to suit 5on5 better? I'm going further down that road, looking at interesting proposals from the people I gathered. It doesn't mean the best stuff will always get proposed, but in the end any proposal is a good proposal, it just needs to be accepted or denied. We're not making decisions for the community, we're channeling ideas into testing phases.

That brings me to the summercup. This cup has always been a testing ground for the upcoming EC & OC. If people don't believe or don't agree to that, then they should have a talk with the admins. Mind you that the admins decide what they do with their cups, not the players or the "community". The CB admins proposed to test out the changes made by this committee, and that's what's going to happen. The reason for testing is that people can get accustomed with the changes, and can get the discussion started. From this discussion we'll either decide if it's good enough or not. This is not only done by these individuals from the committee, but also by the CB admins, the ESL admins, the CC staff, the AEF staff and the community (or most likely the top team's consent, because if they agree to them it's gonna be like that, if you like it or not).

It remains to be seen whether these new changes will bring about a revelation in the game; and further still, whether this ET Committee has the authority and the strength to continue its input. Have we seen a revolution in the way the future decisions of Enemy Territory are made? Only time will tell.