I would appeal to everyone not to get emotional about this topic but its one that I feel we should have. Please try your best to stay rational, calm and keep an open mind about this because its not going to be easy.
K. Let's stay calm.
In recent years, there can be no doubt that there have been fewer quests made and fewer people coming to purezc. Indeed, looking over the past few months we can see that very few quests are being made. If the trend continues, and there's no reason to assume it won't, then it should become obvious what will happen.
See: Shane's post. This has been debunked. There was a SPIKE in quests on 2.50's release, as makes sense, as it added a bunch of new features. Since then there has not been another big release, so there has not been another spike, nor should one have been expected; the next time one might expect such is upon 2.55's release.
For the record I will say that I've correctly predicted the "sales" outcome of Mike's Fun House and The Slipstream. In addition, in real life I'm a wealthy and successful businessperson whose job it is to predict and forecast sales of certain products and improve their sell ability if possible. So I've had no shortage of experience with these kinds of matters. And I feel its my duty to speak out and inform the community of my expert opinion.
Lets start by asking a fundamental question. Why was Zelda Classic built? It was built to make Zelda 1 quests that were really popular with the fanbase of its day. And Phantom Menace did a fantastic job - Zelda Classic could do everything the NES Zelda quests could do and the author didn't have to learn 1 line of scripting. The fanbase of its day LOVED NES Zelda quests and you could build your own in a very small amount of time and it would likely have a good fanbase when it was done. In its day, Peteo's Mega-Man was the flagship quest and if you liked it you could theoretically build your own after modifying a lot of tiles. All the tools were there for you to use and you didn't need any special know-how to do so. Look at how well Mega-Man sold to the fanbase of its day - see all the 4 or 5 star ratings.
Keywords 'of it's day'. Times change.
Standards change, so even things which may have been considered good may not always be considered good. Key point, see NES games. At the time they were revolutionary. Now, compared to modern games, they lack many common features; not to say they aren't still good, but they are a completely different style. Comparing an NES game and a Switch game is absurd; they are non-comparable.
But lets just imagine that Phantom Menace had said. "Oh well you know what guys, I'm too bothered to write this Manhandla boss". If you want it, here's ghost.zh and you guys figure out how to script it and put it all together. "Oh well you know what guys, I can't be bothered writing shutter doors, bomb-through walls or walk-through walls, but hey here's a scripting know-how manual and you can write a ffc script for it". Can you imagine that? Zelda Classic would have sunk right there and then like a lead stone.
Relevance? When have we done this with anything? At all?
Anything we have said "We aren't adding that to the engine, use a script" are things that cannot be reliably added to the engine; for instance, Z3 Scrolling requires custom handling of literally everything, as it entirely changes how everything works; to add that to the engine would require literally rewriting the entire engine. Such would take years and years to get done. In a few WEEKS, we can add features that make it easier for scripted Z3 scrolling to be made.
Ref: 2.50.2 (under different dev team): Sideview. Sideview was lacking in many basic features, most notably sideview ladders so that you can go up against gravity aside from jumping. This not being included in 2.50.2... well, I can't say why they didn't include it. If anything, I'd probably guess that they ran out of time before they wanted to release; do note that after this they abandoned the program entirely. As one of the CURRENT devs, aside Zoria as the only 2 active devs, I find the lack of sideview ladders ridiculous. ...Which is why I added them to the engine. As of 2.55, you no longer need scripting to do sideview ladders. Because I saw it and went "This is necessary". As a questmaker, I learned how to script BECAUSE of the lack of sideview ladders; it was important enough a feature to get me to use scripts. Such an important feature should be included. (See spoiler'd video for 2.55 sideview ladders)
Fact of the matter is that for every Evan, Russ, Avataro, Jamian and Mitsuraka who have successfully learnt how to script there are hundreds if not thousands of potential quest makers who are turned away by the very idea of having to spend 6 intensively months learning how to script even before making the first screen of their dream quest. As they should rightly be. Think of how much 6 months of work is worth - $20 - $25k if you went out to work a modest job. From personal experience of having 0 knowledge of scripting I know that's how long it would take.
And how long does quest development take in general anyway? Developing a good quest takes time, regardless of if you use scripting or not. The database is full of scripts for those who don't want to write them themselves. There is a script requests forum for non-scripters to request scripts. There is a scripting channel in the PZC discord for script discussion. Hell, there are even basic scripts being included in 2.53 and 2.55 packaged with ZC, pre-set-up in the default quest file.
Personally, I learned scripting over time; I released LGA2 with minimal scripts, and they work pretty well for the quality of the quest. LGA3 I then created some more complex scripts, playing around with how to use it. Meanwhile, you can clearly see by looking at LGA3 that I can't draw tiles for shit. Making custom graphics or custom music is FAR more difficult than making custom scripts, to me. Emphasis: TO ME. I'm a computer science major, coding is my thing. (For the record it was NOT something I knew how to do much before starting ZScript; I learned ZScript before I went into proper coding classes, so I went in with very little coding experience). To draw custom tiles is one of the biggest things I struggle with. At that, a quest with AMAZING scripts would be considered bad if it had terrible graphics. "But wait, there are tilesets on the database!" you say? Well there are also scripts on the database, and music on the database. Hell, custom music isn't something I think I could even TRY to do! All of these things influence how good a quest is.
Is scripting necessary to make "sell-quality" quest? For today's fanbase you can bet your bottom dollar it is. Where would IoR be without scripting? Link and Zelda without one line of code? Rite of the Storm without Avataro's know-how? Even the modest Slipstream quest requires intense know-how of scripting. Would they be selling right now if their authors had not taken the time to learn how to script? I highly doubt it. More recently there was South by Southrule by Flynn which I though was very good but it didn't sell because it was an old NES Zelda quest that had minimal if not 0 scripting. Have a look at Mega-Man. No scripting and it flops when trying to sell to today's fanbase.
You can do plenty without scripting. Given, sometimes it is easier to do something with scripts than in the engine; or you can make something slightly smoother with a script than with the engine. Considering I know how to script pretty well, I'd much sooner script a cutscene than do it with warps, moving FFCs, and such; but you still can do those things. A quest not having scripts does not automatically make it bad; a quest having bad/outdated design makes it bad. Not many well-designed quests don't use scripting, but that doesn't mean that a well-designed quest without scripting, making full use of everything the engine has to offer without scripting, couldn't be made. The enemy editor, item editor, and FFCs can do a LOT.
At that, if we look to the FUTURE here, 2.55 only adds MORE to the engine. See the sideview ladder video in the spoiler further up; those ladders are a placed flag. No scripts. The enemy editor can make large enemies. A lot of QRs for items are now flags, so you can have them be different for different levels of an item. New features have been added, too; you can make flippers able to be cancelled by pressing dive again while diving. You can make the dive last longer, or shorter, and the cooldown before diving again can also be adjusted. This then is per-item; so you could add a level 2 flippers that lets you dive for longer, or such, which was not doable without scripts in 2.50.2. The lens has customization options relating to what it reveals; you can even make it not reveal secret combos! You could make it so the lens only reveals lens-only FFCs + lens marker flags, if you want, allowing for much stricter control, and making it a better item. Also, in both 2.53 and 2.55, the bug allowing the lens to steal properties of other items (including sfx and magic cost) was fixed.
If Zelda Classic is to have a large pool of quest makers once again then the scripting requirement for making "good" and "sellable" quests to today's fanbase MUST go. It MUST. 6 months for a user to learn is too long. The average quest maker wants to make their dream quest quickly and have it sell to today's fanbase with zero scripting effort. If the average quest maker thinks they can't make their dream quest cheaply and have a modest chance of it selling then they simply won't bother with ZQuest and wait for the "pro" quest-devs to make something they like.
I completely disagree. If you are willing to put the time into quest dev, you can make a good quest, regardless of scripting. What matters most is that the quest looks and feels good for it's target audience. Target audience, then, is also a keyword; some people like a really tough challenge, so high difficulty is something they enjoy, while others prefer an easier time; that is purely user preference. Quests of both types have their place. Not everything is for everyone, and everyone will always have their own opinions.
The thing I find odd here is that you say scripting takes forever to learn, and yet, you don't recognize the fact that a good quest can take far longer than that to make. It depends on the time you are willing to invest, and how you invest that time, as to how good your quest will be. If you half-ass it, it's going to be a bad quest. Even if you are a scripting expert using tons of scripts, if you half-ass it, it's going to be a bad quest.
The thing I find silly here is that you speak as though making a good quest can be done quickly. You talk like you'll just spend a couple weeks and make a masterpiece. Also, you talk as though you need to learn and understand every single thing in ZScript before you can write any scripts. One of the best ways to learn scripting, I find, is to write scripts and put them into practice, and see what it does. It is perfectly fine to learn scripting by making a quest and trying things out. To say that "learning scripting took 6 months" is silly; how long before you could write a simple script? Something like the Z2 auto-lantern (included script in Classic.zh for 2.53) is EXTREMELY basic, and I think even a beginner could have made something like that within a week or two; on the slow end. And you also act as though the script database doesn't exist; there are plenty of scripts available that can mostly just be plugged into a quest and work. Beyond that, there are places (Scripting Discussion / Script Requests, as well as channels in the PZC discord) where you can certainly ask for help, either with learning scripting, making a particular script, or asking someone to make a script FOR you to fulfill your idea.
I can't actually find the original thread... anywhere (maybe it was deleted?) but Sans requested a VERY complex script at one point- NOT one I would think a beginner could script well. Here is the result of him making a simple post in the thread, scripted for him within about 3-4 days: Wind Waker Stealth
They want to make their IoR, their Link and Zelda, their Rite of the Storm without having to learn one line of code like the old ZC for Zelda 1 quests. The current ZC needs to do just that. But I think the task is too mammoth for the ZC devs to do something like this. Phantom Menace only had one game that he had to emulate. Modern Zelda has dozens of titles that Nintendo has produced over the years and for the devs to incorporate all the main features of them into ZC for the average user to use is too much to ask. One only needs to follow their thoughts through to logical conclusion to see where this is all headed...
We are adding what we can, and plenty of people are perfectly happy, even ELATED, at the new features of the incoming 2.55 version; both scripted and unscripted features. Again, see the sideview ladder; that was based directly off the mechanics in GB Link's Awakening, with a couple QRs to allow you to change some of how they work. Why don't you check out what we're adding, before spouting doomsday?