Editorial: Is Our Judging System Perfect?

KLONDIKE, CP Army Headquarters, Head Judges Office – Club Penguin warfare has existed for more than a decade and a half. From simple snowball fights to organized army battles, a variety of things changed. One thing, in particular, kept changing throughout the ages – the way we judge battles. Have we reached a perfect judging system now?

DISCLAIMER: This post contains the opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of CP Army Headquarters, its judging infrastructure, or the wider community.

The origins of judging

To understand our judging system, it is important to go back in time to the origin of Club Penguin warfare and understand what led to our reality. Club Penguin armies emerged around the middle of 2006. These “armies” (if we can classify them as such) were mainly color clans fighting with snowballs and some tactics in the middle. The evolution of said clans led to the creation of structurally organized armies, such as the Army of Club Penguin, Underground Mafias Army, and several others, each with a delimited chain of command.

Knowing the victor of a game, match, or conflict is something that raised interest in people for centuries. In real-life war scenarios, the army with barely any conditions to keep fighting would be defeated. Additionally in sports, the figure of a referee began to be introduced to judge fouls and declare the winners. However, in CPA how did we decide the victor of a conflict?

Color Wars – 2006

In the beginning, the figure of a judge as we know it today was nonexistent. The victor of a conflict would be decided by looking through advantage, meaning that whoever was dominating would be recognized as the winner. As expected, when the advantage was not that clear, it would be incredibly difficult to recognize a winner; therefore, there were cases when both armies would deem themselves as winners.

The evolution of the way battles were judged passed through having a panel of 2-3 judges decided by the army leaders prior to a battle. These judges would be essentially army leaders or staff members. Sounds more similar to our current judging system! However, without Discord and all the rules we created, this was far from similar to our reality and more informal compared to the system that is currently in place. In case of invasions, for example, the battle rooms would be decided by the invading army prior to the battle. Although this was one of the procedures used to determine winners in normal battles, it was not that occasional to happen. What about tournaments? Those would always have judges appointed by the organization running the tournament.

CPAC’s March Madness 2014 Results. Judges vote 3-2 for the Nachos, deeming them as the winners after overtime

The creation of a “judging system” actually happened in 2016 with the introduction of Commando’s Map. The map revolutionized the way we started to organize leagues and certainly served as an inspiration to modern leagues. It complemented the invasion and defenses system with the addition of a graphic element. Now armies could visualize their territory as if it was a real-world map. This would play a big part in the evolution of armies, with a map being one of the elements we still value in a league today. Still, the judging system used in this map was not similar to our current one and in fact, had a lot of different specifications. The battles would have no judge in-game and both armies would submit their event pictures to the league that would analyze them, and later declare a winner.

Club Penguin Armies: Server Map – 2019. Based on Commando’s original design

The current judging system

One of the biggest changes of all time in armies was the replacement of xat with Discord. Discord provides a vast amount of features that xat did not. This opened the way to the creation of our current judging system. Leagues started to have their own judges, normally people with considerable experience in armies. To assure the battles were fair, 3 began to be the normal amount of judges per battle (and 5 in case of tournament finals and capital invasions). The battles would consist of 3 rooms, with 10 minutes each. There could be a possibility of overtimes for close battles ending in a tie after the 3 rooms. The armies started to request judges to the league in a specific channel and were given the possibility of declining some of them. The room changes started to be announced in Discord through a role ping to both armies in the league’s server.

CPAH Judges announcing rooms for a Practice Battle between ACP and IW – September 2020

In this system, the judges began to gather in a private group chat and talk about the battle. The winner of a battle started to be decided according to criteria – not only size but also tactics, formations, speed, and creativity. The group chat where they gather is supervised by a new entity, the Head Judge. Head Judges are experienced judges that coordinate the judging infrastructure within a league. They are responsible for stopping any kind of bias and to be on top of the organization of the judges for each battle. Head Judges are also responsible for hiring new Judges and supervising the evaluations of Judges in Training.

Excerpt from CPAHQ’s Judging Guide mentioning the criteria to decide a verdict of a battle

Now that the past and present of judging are explained, I personally feel the obligation, in this post, of establishing a difference between a judging system and a judging infrastructure. Throughout the post, I have been referring to the way battles are judged as a judging system, and for me, that system is part of something bigger, the judging infrastructure that includes the judges themselves, and all the formalities of the league. Last year some questions have arisen about the “judging system”. What are these questions? Does it mean the system is not perfect yet?

In my opinion, not much can change about the way we judge battles nowadays. We have a system that can decide victors of battles and conflicts in an unbiased, and formal way. Of course, there is always something that can be improved and those improvements have been happening, but the overall concept of judging a battle has not changed for a few years and I do not believe it will for a while.

The Issues

All of this leads me to the two major questions about judging that definitely marked 2021. Firstly, we have the March Madness issue. In this specific case, the problem was the judging system of CPAHQ and the rules for overtimes and reviews. Major lag issues compromised the perception that judges had of the battle and in the absence of proper rules for this situation the results were unclear. After that, the whole CPAHQ judging system and organization were redesigned and contemplated new rules to prevent any similar issues. This event was a clear sign that we did not reach the perfect judging system yet and that there is always space for some improvements.

Whatever the reader chooses to take from this statement, do not put anything on the judges of these particular battles. CPAHQ has not offered a judging infrastructure that demonstrates success. For that, we are sorry. Going forward, CPAHQ will begin a complete overhaul of our judging protocols, selections, and hiring process to create a better experience for all. Again, the problems from yesterday’s battle are not the result of incompetent judges. They are a result of a laissez-faire judging system that we chose to run.

-DMT, in CPAHQ Statement: Review of the March Madness Final Four (2021)

The second issue is organizational. Hence, the need of distinguishing between the judging system and the judging infrastructure. Last year we watched two major conflicts. One in the Small/Medium scale, the Golden Intelligence War between Smart Penguins/People’s Imperial Confederation and Golden Troops/Post Malone Army. The other happened on a bigger scale, World War VIII that opposed the Western Bloc to the Vengeance Alliance. In both of these conflicts, the battles took place in the Club Penguin Army Network league, and in both of the conflicts, the judging infrastructure was insufficient. It did not provide enough judges to several battles and the rules for invasions and defenses were not clear in several points creating confusion in interpretations. That, allied with a lack of responses from their infrastructure heads led to the canceling of a multitude of invasions, making the wars more stressful and possibly more prolonged than they should be.

Conclusion

A few months ago, the Head Judges of CPAHQ proposed the creation of a unified judging organization. I would still appoint this as one of the solutions to the visible problems in judging infrastructures. Having all judges united to provide support to both leagues and be ready to judge for both would probably fix the issues regarding lack of judges, besides eliminating any disagreements between army leaders and league heads, since this organization would be independently run. Division is never good for a community and if we cannot agree on something as basic as judging battles then something is definitely not right.

It seems that currently, the biggest problem with judging is not the way battles are judged per se, but the way the judging infrastructures within leagues are being run. The current division in the community contributes to the degradation of the judging organization and system, with assets divided within the two leagues and armies not fully trusting in the leagues they operate in. What do you think? Is our judging system perfect? Will it be possible to end division in the community when it comes to judging?

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One Response

  1. Fulcrum23 January 25, 2022 (10:00 pm)

    I don’t think the judging is perfect per say, no offense to the awesome judges in CPAN and CPAHQ.

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