A few days ago, Jeehyng, Mat, a few other players and I were discussing the future of lab points in EteRNA. This issue is sensitive, because of the future increased number of labs, players being unable to reach the higher ranks, and new player participation being stifled by the lack of points for motivation. I of course, didn't copy the chat, and Jee has made a google doc with the different ideas, which I also cannot seem to find, so here is a brief summary ;)

No Points - Essentially, no more points in the labs.

Participation Points - Every player receives a set number of points for submitting and voting

Now, instead of either system, I propose a hybrid, with a point cap, that is set high enough that players will have needed to play for over several months in order to reach it. This system would fix several issues, and player input would be much appreciated as to how it could be changed. So then, here is the plan.

1. Point Cap - The exact numbers have not been decided on yet, as I don't know what the potential gain per month could be from the upcoming labs. The exact time needed to reach this cap would have to be somewhere around 6 months though, if full points are gained each month. The reason why is that by that time, I would expect many players to have gained more of an intrinsic motivation for the lab, and the need for the extrinsic factor can be dropped. For those who still want the extrinsic factor, the ranking system will not be in the favor of those who were around in the beginning, so newer players can now reach even the number one rank if they wanted.

2. Points earned from lab period - This is still something that needs to be worked on. Would players earn points based on how well one designs scores, or on them all, as even with the player projects, there are many, many, many labs. If we awarded points based on them all, the cap on points will be much higher.

In addition, there will be the participation points, and the question for these, is, will the points be one set amount, or will the number of labs participated in affect the amount gained?

3. Lab achievements - There will be achievements awarded in the lab, based on synth scores, how many designs you have submitted so far, etc. There will also be an award of points for these achievements, however, these points will be awarded separately from the points in the lab, so they will not be affected by the cap. This will allow players to gain points after the cap, so it doesn't appear like they are receiving nothing for their efforts.

4. New Player Labs - The final part of this plan would be the addition of new player labs. One thing about the current system is that not enough new players are participating. So, my answer to this is to create a new tutorial that explains the lab. Then, new players will be automatically directed to a "beginner lab." These labs will only be available to players who have not participated in a certain number of lab periods, let's say two for our purposes here. These labs will have several features, to help guide players, and will also include a scoring system, which will be implemented after the design is submitted. This scoring system could use the ensemble algorithm for scoring, and this will give new players a brief introduction to the ensemble algorithm, and the likelihood of success. Then, they will be told that their design is being synthesized, and in whatever time it takes for the results, they will be able to see how well their design does compared to what the algorithm predicts.

So there it is, please comment below on the strengths and weaknesses of this system, and how we could change it if needed.

No Points - Essentially, no more points in the labs.

Participation Points - Every player receives a set number of points for submitting and voting

Now, instead of either system, I propose a hybrid, with a point cap, that is set high enough that players will have needed to play for over several months in order to reach it. This system would fix several issues, and player input would be much appreciated as to how it could be changed. So then, here is the plan.

1. Point Cap - The exact numbers have not been decided on yet, as I don't know what the potential gain per month could be from the upcoming labs. The exact time needed to reach this cap would have to be somewhere around 6 months though, if full points are gained each month. The reason why is that by that time, I would expect many players to have gained more of an intrinsic motivation for the lab, and the need for the extrinsic factor can be dropped. For those who still want the extrinsic factor, the ranking system will not be in the favor of those who were around in the beginning, so newer players can now reach even the number one rank if they wanted.

2. Points earned from lab period - This is still something that needs to be worked on. Would players earn points based on how well one designs scores, or on them all, as even with the player projects, there are many, many, many labs. If we awarded points based on them all, the cap on points will be much higher.

In addition, there will be the participation points, and the question for these, is, will the points be one set amount, or will the number of labs participated in affect the amount gained?

3. Lab achievements - There will be achievements awarded in the lab, based on synth scores, how many designs you have submitted so far, etc. There will also be an award of points for these achievements, however, these points will be awarded separately from the points in the lab, so they will not be affected by the cap. This will allow players to gain points after the cap, so it doesn't appear like they are receiving nothing for their efforts.

4. New Player Labs - The final part of this plan would be the addition of new player labs. One thing about the current system is that not enough new players are participating. So, my answer to this is to create a new tutorial that explains the lab. Then, new players will be automatically directed to a "beginner lab." These labs will only be available to players who have not participated in a certain number of lab periods, let's say two for our purposes here. These labs will have several features, to help guide players, and will also include a scoring system, which will be implemented after the design is submitted. This scoring system could use the ensemble algorithm for scoring, and this will give new players a brief introduction to the ensemble algorithm, and the likelihood of success. Then, they will be told that their design is being synthesized, and in whatever time it takes for the results, they will be able to see how well their design does compared to what the algorithm predicts.

So there it is, please comment below on the strengths and weaknesses of this system, and how we could change it if needed.