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Old 07-17-2014, 08:37 PM   #1
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Join Date: May 2011
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Erisine is on a distinguished road
When considering paying for coders

I'm a long-road planner. I would like to get a game idea that I've been working on up and running one day, but I'm considering how to best tackle a few difficulties -- like work-life-play balance.

When I used to admin for MUDs, the number one problem with designing, coding, and later running a MUD was the fact that volunteers were just that -- volunteers. You'd bring on 10 people and maybe 1 was still around by the end of the month, you spent a huge amount of time teaching new people, and there was always this sense of "I'm a volunteer, I don't actually have to do anything and I still get to be a staff member." Probably the worst issue I witnessed was when head staff members made a decision that a contributor didn't like, so they claimed 'ownership' of their work and tried to demand a take-down (which is always a PR wildfire).

So, those scarring experiences have made me seriously consider paying my own theoretical staff real money, or some other form of appreciable compensation (I'm not sure what just yet).

How many MUD owners out there have done this? What would you consider a 'fair rate' or balanced exchange to be? Besides money, what other forms of compensation have you offered staff members to complete projects? Have you ever had any problems?

- A few side notes: I plan to use a free-for-use codebase which does not prohibit paying people in the license. I am also not a business, and am not looking to pay a 'salary' -- I'm looking more for the experiences of amateurs like myself, who don't mind paying for a little work or for short-term projects, but are also paying out of pocket.
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Old 07-19-2014, 06:58 PM   #2
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Re: When considering paying for coders

I come from a somewhat different place than you, but one thing I'll mention is that volunteer is a pretty broad term. For instance, we have volunteers that give up their mortal characters to become behind the scene admins, we have volunteers whose jobs it is to help newbies, and we have volunteers who do building tasks that don't require they have behind the scenes access (and thus must give up their mortal characters.)

With that in mind, my main comment is around the idea of bringing 10 volunteers up and having one left at the end of a month. Be choosier! Our MUDs are well-populated for modern day MUDs, but there is absolutely no way we could find 10 qualified volunteers in a month. On Achaea, for instance, we put put a call for Celani (step one in becoming a behind-the-scenes admin) at most every 4-6 months. The last two times we've accepted either 1 or 2 volunteers, rejecting a lot more than that. Even then, we lose volunteers, but our rate of loss is far far less than 90 percent in a month.

It's the nature of many players to want to help build the world they love, whether via RP events, building, helping with customer service, running contests, coding, etc, but the fact is that being an admin volunteer is completely different from being a player, and so we carefully interview candidates to see who we think can add value long-term and who will actually stay motivated long-term.

I heartily recommend putting quality over quantity with volunteers. Bad volunteers are much worse than no volunteers.
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