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Modernizing OTF

by Charlie Plaine, Director of First Edition

1st May 2023

Happy Monday and happy May everyone. Today, we're making a small change that will hopefully have a big impact on the game as we move forward. If you read the teaser on the front page, you already know what were doing. But I don't want to bury the lede any further: as of today, Monday, May 1st, we are changing the name of the Official Tournament Format (OTF) to Modern. Most of the changes necessary are going into effect today (with one big exception I'll cover below). Aside from the name, we aren't making any other changes to the format's rules or structure. Nor are we reducing support for the format - quite the opposite, actually. Later on in the article, I'll talk about why we are doing this, but first I'd like to talk about what is actually changing.

First and foremost, the name. In official posts, articles, and documents moving forward, the terms "Official Tournament Format" and "OTF" will be retired in favor of "Modern." We may leave a reference for awhile in some documents, like "Formerly known as OTF," to ease the transition. But anywhere you previously would see "Official Tournament Format" or "OTF," you'll now see Modern. This change to the website and our systems should be automatically applied, including:

One of our biggest worries is making sure that you achievement hunters out there keep all of your progress. No achievements earned or available should be affected. If you find that you are missing some after today's update, or that others that you were eligible for or had progress towards are gone, contact us immediately. James Heaney [BCSWowbagger] has been spearheading this process, and if anything is wrong he will want to know about it. Likewise, if you find a reference to OTF somewhere that we missed, let us know that too.

There is one big change that we are putting off, and it's because it's our #1 concern. If you use Lackey to manage your decks and if you save your decks in the proprietary *.dek format (instead of the open *.txt format), this change puts your saved decks at risk of being broken. When we update our 1E Lackey plugin to change from OTF to Modern, any decks saved in the *.dek format will break on the next load. In the past, when this has happened without warning, it has been very irritating for Lackey players (including us!) The *.dek format stores information differently than the *.txt. In general, for 1E, the Lackey *.txt format is much more stable and greatly preferred for your decks. So, because we want to make sure that none of your decks are lost, we are delaying the Lackey rollout of the name change until June 5th, 2023. We want you all to have plenty of time to save decks in the *.txt format and to help word spread about this change. Don't be surprised if you read messages similar to this one over the next month.

If you're interested in why we're making this change, read on. Otherwise, the rest of this article can be safely skipped - all the important information appears above.

Why Change the Name? Why Now?
The biggest reason why we're changing the name of OTF to Modern is because it's a better way to communicate what the format represents. The point of language is to facilitate communication, and constantly referring to the CC's primary 1E format as an acronym makes communication difficult right up front - especially for those finding or re-finding the site. Additionally, each word in that acronym was, at best, misleading. The format isn't the only one supported, so it's not really the "Official" format; it's used outside of "Tournaments" all the time; and it's not really a "Format" as we use the term today.

So, the old term had a lot of problems in terms of marketing and communication. It also failed to really let people know what was going on, especially with external groups and lapsed players from the Decipher era. The reality is that 1E now, as we play it and with the Modern Rules, is pretty different than it was in 2001. It's still the same game at its core and it still has the same aesthetic, but a lot of pieces that existed under Decipher-rules don't existing under Modern-rules. OTF, as a name, doesn't really suggest any of that to someone coming to the site or to our events after a long break. Modern does. The word itself implies there is something new and different to the way the game is played now versus how it used to be. It draws people into reading about the format, making it far less likely they will show up to an event and be surprised.

In any case, we know this name change will take time - especially for old salts that have been around from the CC's beginning. It's likely many of you will call it OTF for years to come, and that's okay. But when a newer player cocks their head and looks at you funny, asking what "OTF" is, you can tell them "the old name for Modern" and they'll get it. But why are we doing this now? Well, 2024 is going to be the 30th anniversary of the release of First Edition. We have big plans for celebrating that milestone, and we want to make sure our communications about those plans are clear. By rolling out these changes now, approximately 18 months before the start of the anniversary celebratings, we hope to get all the shock out of the way and have everyone settled in by then.

Over the next few weeks, we'll be highlighting the Modern format in articles like this one. You'll be able to read about the history of the format, go in depth into the format's Rules and their history, and more. We'll also be reminding you to save your Lackey decks in *.txt format, and letting you know how you can report issues with the site. This is a big change, and we want to make sure the technical issues don't get in the way. Thank you for taking the time to read about our change to Modern. Myself and other staff from the Department of First Edition will be in the comments and discussion threads to answer your questions.

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