This is the uneditted text of the AM Daily interview I did for Kefka. There's quite a lot more here than made it into the final article, and I wanted to ensure that my full comments were available for anyone who wanted to see them. The provision of these answers should in no way be considered a result of dissatisfaction with the AM Daily writeup - Kefka and I discussed ahead of time that he was going to do an editted writeup and that I would provide the full answers after the AM Daily had published.
Parts in bold are the questions, the rest are my answers.
Any comments or questions, feel free to record them on the discussion page for this article.
'First of all, let me extend a massive thank you from myself and the MUD community as a whole for all the hard work you've put in over the years - your contribution to the MUD has been immense and very impressive.'
Thank you - it's nice to be appreciated of course, but I'm only part of a development process that involves a large number of people in a large number of capacities. There's nothing that's done on Discworld that isn't a team effort to some degree. Players and creators have ideas, those ideas get kicked around, eventually get shaped into something that works (more or less), tested to make sure that it's more more and less less, and eventually that process repeats. It's a great process to be part of when it's working, but it's important to acknowledge that all the work I've done is only part of a larger process. The last year has been, on the whole, fun for me and I think the things that I've been involved with have been worthwhile projects.
'The unavoidable question - Why did you decide to move on? (feel free to give ambiguous response like "personal reasons" if needed)'
The short reason is - I'm just not having fun. I wasn't supposed to come back in the first place - it was a joke that ended up having lasting consequences. While I was just idling around, reading up about what had changed over the years, Gruper started to log on again. He was the one who very much talked me into making at attemp at completing the sailing system (hoho), and by the time real life claimed him I was already pretty committed. But now, I'm not enjoying it any more. There are several reasons why I'm not having fun, and I'll try to outline them.
It's not a well known fact that when the recent Trustee promotions were made that I almost quit right then and there. For quite some time it was a coin-toss as to whether or not I'd stay. I'm not much of a politician so I don't really mind actually just saying the reason. I don't really want to dwell too much on the reasons, but certainly the last time I left I think there were maybe three people on the entire MUD who actually understood *why*, so I'll make an attempt to explain my reasons a bit.
Firstly, one of the things I have always loved about Discworld as a creator is that it is very much a meritocracy. That's not to say that there haven't been people in the past who have been promoted without earning it, but they have always stuck out as abberations, and it's never been a huge deal because they never progressed all *that* high. On the whole you progress as a creator by doing things and doing them well. Regardless of what the common perception is, in past years politics have played very little part in that promotion system. But certainly with the promotion of Tique (yeah, I'll name names. I'm gone, what do I care?), that principle has been pretty much abandoned, and abandoned at the most important level of the game. Really, we have people who are still (C) creators who have a larger list of accomplishments than one of our Trustees, and that's a situation that vexes me. It's easily the least justifiable promotion that I can think of in Discworld's history. That was the trigger for soul-searching as to whether or not I even wanted to stick around right from the very start. But I said 'Yes, I'll stay' and I simply attempted to pretend the situation didn't exist.
However, as time has gone by, the situation has continued to gnaw at me. Perhaps it is precisely because I have worked my backside off for the past year, but I feel a Trustee who contributes nothing of value to the game cheapens the entire creatorbase. His control of liaison in particular has led to it becoming a very nasty clique, and some of the logs I've received of the 'secret liaison channel' have been quite alarming in terms of the attitudes being displayed by those who are supposed to be the link between developers and players.
It seems a shame to tar the entire liaison domain, but really over the past few months I have come to regard it as a 'lost domain', because I simply cannot trust anyone associated with it. That's a tremendously problematic situation, and one of the things that has contributed to a pretty poisonous atmosphere in admin. It's not just a case that we have a bone-idle admin, it's that we have a bone-idle admin who is part of an extremely dysfunctional dynamic. He's not just *not* contributing, he's actively damaging the game - he's a cancerous influence, even though he has for the past year had no input into game development. That's a situation I can't fix, and I don't see it getting any better, and I can do all of the things that I wanted to do somewhere else without him in particular garnering respect that simply was not earned by virtue of a title he has no right to have. At the very least, my departure ensures that some of that pisonous atmosphere is gone.
I should make sure too that I say that I have nothing but respect and affection for Taffyd, Dasquian, Wodan, Sojan, and of course Pinkfish. I'm sorry I'm leaving them (and you guys) with a dud, corrosive admin, but I'm not being paid enough to actually put up with the laziness and incompetence of others making me angry in real life. When that starts to happen, it's time to step back. I do genuinely feel bad about it though, because (as arrogant as this sounds), I do believe my leaving is a loss for Discworld. Others will of course feel differently about that, of course - but well, they can respond in their own interviews. There are other reasons too, but I think this answer is already plenty long enough and, let's face it, no-one is going to care beyond the answer I've already given. ;-P
'What are your plans now? You mentioned starting a zombie survival MUD?'
When I was thinking about quitting at the time of the promotions, the idea of a survival horror MUD came to me, and for quite some time consumed me. It's a theme that I think would work especially well in text, which is why I am going to do it as a MUD rather than as a more graphical medium. It's also a theme that allows me to develop all of the things I have planned for Discworld from a clean slate. None of the plans I had for Discworld are being abandoned. I am just moving them elsewhere. I'm sure you'll hear more about it as time goes by - I'm very excited by the project and by how much scope there is for developing a MUD that isn't about endless area development, but is instead about tightly focussed gameplay. In many ways I think of it as the opposite of Discworld. Discworld is comic fantasy, the new MUD is survival horror. Discworld is sandbox, Survivor is about narrative. Discworld is largely about areas, Survivor is largely about gameplay. The appeal of starting from a blank slate can't really be overstated.
The development plan for Survivor is also quite interesting, because one of the things I have is years and years of experience with things we did on Discworld - it's a chance to keep the things that work, and change the things that don't. It's also a chance to explore development directions that can't easily be integrated into Discworld. We have over fifteen years of legacy code that makes changes difficult to make, and while Survivor will be based on the Discworld lib, it'll be free of most of those issues - and those that it isn't free of, I can easily fix in the mudlib without it being a huge deal for support. As an example of what I mean - we shifted a while ago from directly checking skills in the taskmaster to checking against a set of abstracted 'tasks'. In terms of an individual line of code, it's a trivial change - but over the Discworld lib it requires thousands of lines of code to be changed, and not only that changed in a way that means no-one will actually really notice a difference. That's a massive development cost that Survivor simply won't have. Changes like that can be made, but they need to be constantly pushed and nagged about, and that's no fun for anyone.
'What do you think will become of projects you were working on? We've reported on the sailing system you were developing - any idea what will become of it?'
I would hope that other people will pick them up and run with them, but I confess my hopes aren't high. The sailing system in particular isn't that far from completion, but it is lots and lots of highly complex, inter-related code. It's not easy for anyone else to penetrate the logic or appreciate the impact changes will make. Hell, when I came back it took me a month to work out how the thing was functioning, and I *wrote* it. My estimate is that a good few weeks of solid effort would get it to the level where it could go into the game, but that's effort from a person who knows and understands how it all fits together. You've seen it yourself (and done a fantastic job of testing it) - it's not an easy system to come to grips with. As to the rest of the projects I was actively coding/testing, well... I suspect they will be lost now. Like... tears in rain. Most of them will see renewed life in Survivor in some way, shape or form though.
'As someone who has been with the MUD over many years, how do you see/feel about the state of the MUD on this visit compared to times past?'
Sad to say, I think Discworld is on a decline. I don't think that decline is inevitable, but it needs several things to be done and those things require someone to push them through. There was a grand plan I was working on, and I think if someone wants to push that agenda through it has a good chance of saving the MUD. The achievement system showed that a decline isn't impossible to halt and even reverse - we went from having 100-120 people online at peak to having anything between 150-200. But it needs people to be enthusiastic, and it needs momentum. Neither of those things are easy to generate, and they are both extremely tiring to keep up for any length of time. Nothing would make me happier to see Discworld not only survive but thrive, though... the grand plan is I think a pretty exciting suite of developments that can ensure it if there is a will to push it now I have left.
'How do you hope to see it next time you return? / What would encourage you to return?'
I don't know about encouraging me to return. Once it's not fun, it's not fun. It probably could become a fun environment in which to develop again, but it's not now. Really though, all I'd like to see is the MUD still here. I'm still around and about a little at the moment though, because I have some things I need to finish up before I can leave entirely.
'Do you have any player characters / plan to visit the MUD as a player?'
I have characters in all the guilds, including a PK assassin. Draconius (a musketeer) is the only one who has any kind of real competence though. I don't know if I plan on actually playing... I expect to be kind of busy with my new project. I might idle around on less known alts to listen to the talker, though. The lack of background noise is the only real drawback in starting on an empty MUD, although it's hooked up to all the intermud and IMC2 channels, so you may say my name cropping up your talkers every now and again.
'What about the boards? Plan to read them from time to time?'
We'll see. I'm still reading them at the moment, but the will to do that fades rapidly as they stop being relevant. I'll probably skim them every now and again just to see what's going on.
'Pleeeeeeeease come baaaaack! Seriously, reconsider? :D (I would be killed if I didn't ask this, but I'm serious anyhow :P) What if I personally watch your shock video 1000 times? In one sitting.'
Well, the shock video option is still out there if people want me back that much. I'll honour the offer if the target is met, but since I'm currently sitting at 7/1000 emails I don't see that target ever being reached. Sadly though, it has to be 1,000 different people - otherwise it's just Too Easy.
'Your goodbye post was titled "That'll do, pig" - were you ripping that off "Babe", or "Zombieland" (which in turn was ripping off Babe)?'
It was Zombieland, fittingly. I have never seen Babe, but the scene with Tallahassee saying 'I'm not very good at goodbyes, so... well, that'll do pig' is just hilarious and so very apt in the circumstances.
'I can't think of anything else to ask D: Say something interesting! Anything else? '
Just that this isn't really that big a deal. There was a guy, on a MUD, doing some things. Now he's on another MUD, doing those same things. While I agree it probably was a surprise to most people (and thus why I agreed to your request for an exit interview), it's not actually important in the scheme of things.
Hope this is okay... I think there's a reasonable amount of juice in the Tique section for people to get excited about. ;-P
Feel free to ask any further clarifying questions if you like, and fix up any typos.
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