User talk:Drakkos/Interview

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What's going to happen with imaginary-realities discworld related sites?

Not a thing, I will continue to host them and if anyone wants space I'll still happily provide it.

Drakkos 12:36, 8 January 2010 (UTC)

Do you think creatorland is an inherently unpleasant place to work?

There's a lot of stuff coming up on frog board at the moment, and while some of it is probably triggered by this interview (okay, perhaps a lot of it), I'd also like to comment on a few things.

On the whole, being a creator on Discworld is a much better prospect than people may be assuming. On the whole, it is more than possible for people to progress even if they are at odds with the admin team. On the whole, politics don't really feature much into the day to day life of most creators, and on the whole the don't feature into promotion. On the whole, the admin team on Discworld is made up of good and smart people. One bad apple doesn't spoil an entire barrel, if I can be horribly derivative for a moment.

Really, the problem with creatordom at the moment isn't so much that it's a bad rap or that it's unpleasant. It's just that it's not a lot of fun... I think a lot of that is simply a consequence of Discworld being in existance for so many years - eventually things wind down. But that's all about how much you put into it. A vibrant and active creatorbase requires vibrant and active people. Sojan is entirely right that people leaving is not neccessarily a big deal - I said so myself at the end of the interview. People come, and people go, and nobody knows who the next shining star is going to be.

As to the support systems in place - there's a real learning curve to being a creator, and while there is help available through many routes, creators are expected to be largely self-directed and take the initiative. It's just not really possible to actually 'train' people to be coders, which may be where a lot of the feeling of 'there's no support' comes from. As someone who has taught programming at the higher and further education level for tenish years, it's my opinion you can't teach programming. All you can do is point people in the right direction.

Drakkos 22:24, 12 January 2010 (UTC)

Was it horribly unprofessional and classless for you to give the answers you did in the interview?

Yeah, probably. But I've never been one for *not* saying things that need to be said just because they're unpleasant. Sometimes things need to be said, regardless of how much of a dick you seem for saying them.

Drakkos 22:24, 12 January 2010 (UTC)

Why not post this on Frog?

I'm gone, and I don't think my participation in the thread is likely to be helpful. I'm reading it out of a somewhat morbid curiosity, but I have no intention of posting.

Drakkos 22:26, 12 January 2010 (UTC)

I might not code much, but I do contribute!

Q. Your comments about meritocracy and people not producing much 'game content' seem heavily focused on 'what have you coded/gotten in game' as a measure of value. Do you feel you are overly focused on this aspect, at the expense of administrative/managerial contributions such as policy and rule revisions?

This is a complicated question with a long and complicated answer. I'll break it down into sections.

Domain Leaders as Full-Time Managers

Firstly - it's a pretty bad job to be a lord of a domain. That's why there's such a high turnover - but really, that's the cost of doing business. Good domain lords are worth their weight in gold precisely because they are so rare. But, being a domain lord is *not* a full time role. When I was lord of Forn, for example, it was a brand new domain - I had to do everything to get that domain started, not just managing it day to day but getting it in a state whereby there was anything to manage at all. In addition to the people side of it, I was also designing Genua and contributing to higher level planning. That's all - well, it's just what you're expected to do. That's what being a domain leader is. But, despite that, I was also actively coding and adding to the domain. It's very easy to simply think 'Right, well, I have a domain... but now I have flunkies to do the work', but that's not how it's supposed to go.

What a domain leader is supposed to be (and it says it right on the tin) is a leader. What is no good is when people simply 'preside' over a domain and take no active role in that domain. Domain leadership roles are not sinecures, and there is not enough 'meat' in the managerial/design role to justify the position in and of itself. It's domain leader + contributing member of a domain. If either of those two parts don't work, the domain is being badly steered.

Partially this is a consequence of the fact that - well, there are no longer enough creators to really need a dedicated layer of management in any way shape or form. Forn at its height had about 18 creators who were active... that's larger than the management literature considers manageable for any one person, but that's why there are deputies. At 18 people, by yourself, I could *just about* buy that all you have time to do is manage creators. Just about - I wouldn't be convinced (having done it myself), but you could probably create a sufficiently convincing story to make me doubt myself.

The TLDR summary of this answer I guess is this - there's not enough work as a domain leader to justify it as a management position in and of itself. There certainly aren't enough active creators in any domain to justify it as a management position in and of itself. And even when domains were stuffed full of people (so full that we actually had cause to open new domains rather than shut existing ones), by far the only domain lords anyone judged to have real worth were the ones who were contributing actively to their domains. Discworld isn't IBM, professional middle management is not a neccessary evil.

(Should I do a TLDR summary of my TLDR summary?)

Rule Revision

Well, how often does this actually happen? Multiply how often it actually happens by how long it would take to do it (actively - not just posting a 'I was thinking of doing this, what do you guys think' note on the boards) - that's how important I think it is.

I will add too that layering rules onto rules and policy onto policy is ain increasingly comical situation when the numbers of active creators are so low, and also one of the chief reasons why there's no real fun in the interactions between creators and players any more.

Definition of Contribution

You are I suspect right in that, as a coder, my definition of contribution as I have expressed it favours actual code, but that's not to say that I am mindless of other contributions and discount or unfairly dismiss them. The language of contribution I use is mostly a result of my own contributions, but that doesn't neccessarily translate into 'thus this is the only meaningful contribution'. Liaisons for example, contribute greatly - I would never say of a liaison 'this person has no value because they produce no code', but I would measure their contribution by how much time they are actively liaising, and the kind of decisions they are making with regards to that liaising. But here it is worth noting that the lord of liaison is, at his own insistence, 'not a liaison'. If he's not a liaison, then those definitions of contribution don't apply.

Oh, the lord of liaison doesn't liaise either, unless there is absolutely no way out of it. Much like a coding lord, in fact.

People are giving away their time for free - doesn't this all seem like you're asking too much?

Discworld is a classic example of the 90/10 divide (or 80/20, or 70/30 - it's just a concept rather than a precise measurement). 90% of the game has been produced by about 10% of the creators. Over the years Discworld has had over one thousand creators, and if we went with 90/10, that would be about 100 of them who could be linked to the majority of what we consider to be 'Discworld the entity'. That feels about right to me, but it doesn't really matter if it's 100, 200 or 300.

My point is - as a game with a volunteer creatorbase, we should be grateful of the time that people can give us. Of course we should. However, it is not an unreasonable position (and it's my position) that the administration of that volunteer creatorbase come from the 10% who do 90% as opposed to the 90% who do 10%.

Comments regarding the Liaison domain

Q. Your comments regarding the liaison domain as a whole have ruffled some feathers - implications of a nasty clique, etc. Did you have personal experiences of this with current liaisons, or were your feelings towards the domain tainted by its leader? (i.e. OMG WHY DO U HAET LIAISONS :'()

I hate what liaison has become. Individually, I have no problems with the competence of most of the domain members, but liaison is currently a nasty clique which, even before its leader became a trustee, operated a 'secret liaison channel' whereby the rest of the creatorbase could be cut out of discussion or debate. That's not the first time it has happened - in fact, it's the reason why all domains have their own domain channel - to get rid of secret domain channels. These channels were viewed as divisive. The fact that members of admin didn't know about them and *also* couldn't help direct or correct individual creators meant that such discussions were instead moved into the open.

Liaison however has such a secret channel, and I have been given logs of the channel from a couple of domain members. Really, the attitudes being displayed are quite shocking, but entirely consistent with dysfunctional group dynamics. The leader of the domain, for example, saying 'It's okay to be a malicious, spiteful cuntbag if you're under Drakkos', and one of the other members of the domain refering to an domain leader as a 'useless cheating whinging cunt'. Yeah, my comments are based on recent observations of the domain. That kind of behaviour is what happens when a clique goes unchecked.

I'm not deluding myself into thinking that we all haven't said similar to different people, but this is occuring under the watchful eye of a member of admin within a club *for* secret liaison discussions. This isn't just venting in a private channel, it's dysfunctional domain dynamics, and the effects of that extend well outside the domain itself.

I said myself, it's unfair to tar everyone in the domain - there are a couple of members from whom I have seen nothing untoward, but their simple association with that broken dynamic means that despite the fact they themselves may well be blameless, they have to be treated with the same suspicion as those who aren't.

For a domain which is about being the link between the cold, unfeeling code of developers and our players, that's a situation that is well and truly broken.