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Old 05-31-2006, 03:55 AM   #1
Baram
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I had always thought it would be harder to find good coders than it would to find good builders, but apparently I was wrong. I had to tell a couple good coders that we will look at them again later, as we already have enough coders to accomplish our goals(and can't afford training time right now either). Builders on the other hand we just can't seem to find enough.

Why is this? I can think of a couple reasons.

1. We are going to be a commercial game, and some people may not want to offer their services to us for that reason. While we can't afford to pay anyone right now, not even ourselves, being a good volunteer is the only path to having a paying position and even their own game in the future. Of course, we will be giving those builders/coders that decide to be players Angelstone, our perk currency, in return for their work.

2. We're still in development, which means there is a risk(though I assure you it does not exist) that your work will never be seen. Another look at that same issue is that it will be a while before players get to enjoy your work, which I know from my own feelings does make it harder.

3. All the other muds got all the good ones already. Not much to be said there besides... bah.

So for those builders out there, what turns you off from working for a game?

For the other administrators, what types of things do you do to offer to help persuade builders to your cause?

We will accomplish our goals, but without some extra hands it just means delays that I would hate to see. We already have a fairly large group of people active on our forums, and I would hate to disappoint them with delays in release.
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Old 05-31-2006, 04:43 AM   #2
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I second that it is truely harder to find good builders for a game that is supposed to becoming commercial, but is developed by a "not established" company that cannot afford to pay builders (or coders) than it is to find builders for a free hobby game.

We've had lots more trouble finding builders for "aeonfalls" (commercial) than we ever did with "sharune" (free).

It is also probably a lot caused by the fact that most of the commercial games in development aren't opened to players. At sharune we got almost every good builder from the playerbase in the running game. Most of them were longterm players as well. "Searching" for builders on mud community sites never got us a single serious person as i can remember.

All you get are people that want to be "enforcers" or whatever silly thing they call it. Basically they just want a phat immortal to wrec havoc with.
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Old 05-31-2006, 04:50 AM   #3
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I did offer, but you were afraid I was too busy.

But yes, I've experienced the same issue even with non-commercial MUDs. Good builders are nigh impossible to come by in forums.
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Old 05-31-2006, 05:03 AM   #4
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Well, at least we aren't the only ones having that problem.

Besides a playerbase, which obviously isn't an option, any other places you know of that builders like to hide?

Chicken and the egg anyone? To find good builders it seems you need a good playerbase, to get a playerbase you first need to build the world... to build the world you need... builders.
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Old 05-31-2006, 06:54 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by
1. We are going to be a commercial game, and some people may not want to offer their services to us for that reason.
I'm not sure if that'll make any real difference.  What may well make a difference is if you're requesting exclusive rights (or the actual copyrights) for the areas - I've no idea if you are or not, but I know some commercial muds do that.

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Originally Posted by
2. We're still in development, which means there is a risk(though I assure you it does not exist) that your work will never be seen.
I don't think that is too a serious concern, as the builders could still take their work elsewhere (unless they've given up the rights to their work, in which case I agree that it would give many builders pause for thought).  Having said that, if a builder has been burnt too many times in the past by failed muds, they may well be wary about risking working for a non-established mud.

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Another look at that same issue is that it will be a while before players get to enjoy your work, which I know from my own feelings does make it harder.
That's true.  Coders who join in the early stages of development have the opportunity to make more of an impact on the game than they would at later stages, which can be a big incentive.  Builders don't really have that incentive, and their work isn't going to be appreciated until the game is open to the players, so they're perhaps less likely to show an interest early on.

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Chicken and the egg anyone?  To find good builders it seems you need a good playerbase, to get a playerbase you first need to build the world... to build the world you need... builders.
You'll see the same issue with Diku derivatives planning to have completely original worlds - those that slowly replace the stock areas with original ones tend to have a much easier time than those that rip out all of the stock areas to start with and then build up from nothing.

Unfortunately you don't really have the luxury of that the choice.  You could churn out a bunch of low-quality filler areas (to be replaced or polished in the future when you've got more time and more builders), but that could well do the image of your mud more harm than good for the sort of game you're building.
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Old 05-31-2006, 07:10 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (KaVir @ May 31 2006,19:54)
Unfortunately you don't really have the luxury of that the choice. You could churn out a bunch of low-quality filler areas (to be replaced or polished in the future when you've got more time and more builders), but that could well do the image of your mud more harm than good for the sort of game you're building.
Yeah, plus it would be really hard to justify IC why those area's suddenly just poofed.

I'm hoping the fear of going with an unestablished mud/company will fade, at least slightly, when we have our official website up. Just waiting on the artist to finish the artwork for us.
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Old 05-31-2006, 07:50 AM   #7
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Yeah, plus it would be really hard to justify IC why those area's suddenly just poofed.
That shouldn't be an issue, as long as you planned it carefully. A mine could be dug into the side of the mountain (or an existing mine might collapse). A village could be built in what was previously untamed wilderness, or an existing village might become a town (or get burnt down). A magical battle might destroy a forest, or a powerful druid might cause a new forest to sprout from the ground. And so on.

If you have a clear 'beta' mode, with pfile wipes afterwards, you could even incorporate the old areas into the history of the game - the beta mode's quickly thrown-together starting city might be visible as ancient ruins in the final game for example (although obviously it'd no longer be the starting city, and the descriptions would be completely redone).

Areas you don't want to remove could be enhanced, their descriptions updated and polished, until they reach the quality you require.

For some muds I think this approach could work quite well, I just think that for an RP mud it might give a bad first impression.
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Old 05-31-2006, 08:06 AM   #8
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Actually that's a really good idea I hadn't thought of, as we plan to have both Alpha and Closed Beta testing, we could do that with filler area's and keep working on the "real" ones for Open Beta/release.

That way we can get the testing of code and overall game balance done, and worse case scenario just extend testing until we have enough "real" area's done. Never hurts to test longer.
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Old 05-31-2006, 11:21 AM   #9
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As an aside, I second the idea to use less-developed filler areas for alpha and closed beta testing. There's nothing like the stress of heavy play to show you what to tweak and improve in the code.

Back to the question: Baram (and Hephos for that matter), I considered putting my hat in the ring for a builder spot at your respective muds, but decided not to, even though in Hephos' case AF uses a really slick IDE, and both AF and Illyrias promise some cool features in development. The sticking points for me were:

1) Copyright: I admit I didn't look into it at Illyrias, but AF assumes CR and right to derivative works. Understandable, but not where I want to go.

2) Theme: Frankly I wasn't too sure if these are muds I would want to play, and that's a critical element of what makes building fun. The IRE games don't serve my cup of tea, and they are my best comparison.

3) Compensation: For commercial work with a commercial schedule, I 'm looking for something more than game scrip as compensation. As you mentioned, start-up muds can't afford it, that's just how it works.

4) Building guidelines: I admit I have a somewhat idiosyncratic idea of what good building is that differs from the RPI standard; not that I don't understand the standard, because I've spent the majority of my mudding life in RPIs, mushes and muxes. But strangely (to me) I'm drifting back to adventure style games lately, albeit with a few twists.

If I'm not satisfied with at least two out of four issues, it's best to stay away. For me the most important part of building is not the design, the descriptions, the stats or the scripts, but the passion to build, so if that's not there at the start, it's like pushing a boulder up a hill. Over and over.

Anyway, as usual this post looks more like an opportunity to just blather on for a few minutes. HTH.
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Old 05-31-2006, 02:07 PM   #10
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The way I've come to find builders is this;

I steal them. I find a MUD I know I like the areas. I chat with the head-builder. I find out if he, or anyone else on the MUD is looking for another building project, then I describe the project. The particular features of my currently alpha-phase MUD that I'm working on seem to be enticing enough to get an area written that way here and there.

However, the best way I've found is to seek out within your own playerbase(our closed Alpha test-base, in this case) the people with previous building experience. Then we offer a small in-game recompensation, and since they are already playing the game and like it, that compensation is enough to get them writing.

It's worked well, and I suggest those two methods.
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Old 05-31-2006, 06:11 PM   #11
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First let me say this is my personal opinion, and that the freedom-loving "Libertarian-styled" believer I am that folks can do as they wish.

For me, I would rather have no MUD and no rooms then to do harm to someone else's project.

I would never "steal" a builder from someone. I know, I know... it is just offering them a position that you think they might enjoy more and helping out your project at the same time, but it is not my way. I have my personal views on my own "ethics" (and I would not advertise on someone else's MUD, for example). Maybe my belief system is behind the times or no longer relevant but it is mine.

I value good writers and builders. Hell, I value bad ones. MUD-World creation is both an art and a skill and artists should be accepted at their level and style. It is of course each admin's duty to set the parameters for building styles acceptable in their world, but even someone that builds "iffy" room descriptions (but may make killer scripts) may have their own areas of artistic and/or skill usage.

To get back to the main thread, I do agree. Good builders that want to create worlds are indeed hard to find. Ones that can plan, map, write and flesh out areas while pushing the system design elements (while staying within genre, design documents and game-specific style) are even harder. For a planned commercial game you could offer free character slots (once live) with access to premium-sets, goods from your cafepress collection, % of profits based on # of areas completed versus # in the world, your first born (Disclaimer: May be illegal in you area, should be in all, consult an attorney, etc...not a suggestion, a joke) or whatever floats their boat that you are willing to part with easily.

I am looking for writers/builders myself, so take my suggestions with a grain of salt (and a nugget of mithril). I am about ready to post again seeking more and I remain hopeful that some will be found.

Keep plugging away. You don't catch every fish in the pond and sometimes you throw most back. Sometimes they jump out of the pale and off the boat. Fish sticks are not the answer...

Someone take away my coffee, please.
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Old 05-31-2006, 06:39 PM   #12
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Don't misinterpret my definition of "stealing builders". It doesn't do any harm to ask someone already building for another MUD to also build for yours. I would never say, "come build for us, but you have to leave your old home behind, mwuahaahaha.... join us, brother".

To jump the gun and assume that that's what I meant is somewhat degrading.

Finding builders whose work you are familar with from another MUD is a -completely ethical- and viable means of recruitment.
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Old 05-31-2006, 06:59 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (DonathinFrye @ May 31 2006,18:39)
Don't misinterpret my definition of "stealing builders". It doesn't do any harm to ask someone already building for another MUD to also build for yours. I would never say, "come build for us, but you have to leave your old home behind, mwuahaahaha.... join us, brother".

To jump the gun and assume that that's what I meant is somewhat degrading.

Finding builders whose work you are familar with from another MUD is a -completely ethical- and viable means of recruitment.
In no way did I misrepresent your wording. I even placed "steal" within double quotes, showing that I was using your definition rather then a more widely accepted one.

As to not doing "any harm", that would be a case by case basis.

If you log into someone's project, speak with their builders and get them to come build for your project then there is one possible harm that readily comes to mind: Time. Each person only has so much time to spend working on a project. If they are working on one project instead of another it is most likely true that they are taking time from this total "time pool" instead of creating new time.

I certainly was not trying to degrade you, and I even stated that it was my personal opinion and personal ethics that preclude me from trying to gather builders in the manner you posted. Of course you know you do not in any way have to fit your actions within my belief set, so there should be nothing degrading about taking my opinion for what it is, my own.

To find builders that built for another MUD but no longer do so now (or are publicly/privately seeking another project) is entirely ethical, even in my seemingly outmoded way of thinking. To log into someone's project and ask a project member while they are online and currently working for a project does not fit my system of ethics.

To each their own.

If I find anyone actively recruiting for another game on the MUD I am currently coding for I would warn them once and then IP ban them on a second offense with no reservation.
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Old 05-31-2006, 08:02 PM   #14
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Finding builders whose work you are familar with from another MUD is a -completely ethical- and viable means of recruitment.
My point being that you are already familar with their MUD, their specific skills, and them. I think that's different than just logging on to "advertise for builders".

And it's honestly the best way to get outside help.
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Old 05-31-2006, 10:16 PM   #15
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We have offered IG benefits for builders, we don't have pay to play so we offered Angelstone which is our pay for perks "currency."

We had offered one person % of profits if he wanted to take on a bigger role, as head builder... never saw him again.

I'm starting to think that having our current builders make area's without any real descs, and then start to fill them in during testing(and maybe add a few of the testers to the building team) is the best approach for us right now.
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Old 06-01-2006, 04:10 AM   #16
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Baram: May 31 2006,22:16
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I'm starting to think that having our current builders make area's without any real descs, and then start to fill them in during testing(and maybe add a few of the testers to the building team) is the best approach for us right now.
With all due respect I think that is a bad idea. Most good builders don't fancy writing descs for already linked zones. Creating a quality area means that all parts of the world must be integrated. Mapping, descs, extra decs, mobs, objects, scripts - all must work together to a comprehensible whole. If you break out one of the groundstones, ir will limit the builder's creativity in an undesired way.

I doubt you'd attract any quality builders with that policy. Good builders want to have a totally free hand in what they are creating. If they don't get that, they go elsewhere to build.

A better idea would probably be to start out with some Wilderness grid, where the descs are automatically generated. Fill it with mobs and objects so that it is 'playable', but make it obvious that it is just a grid. Then you can successively connect the real zones to that basic grid as they get finished.
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Old 06-01-2006, 12:31 PM   #17
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Antira wrote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by
good builders want to have a totally free hand in what they are creating.
I don't think that's correct. Good builders understand that what they are building is part of a larger whole, not a stand-alone component. Good builders work within the restrictions placed upon them by the technology of the building tools, the genre of the game, the game design, and so on.

--matt
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Old 06-01-2006, 03:00 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Baram @ May 31 2006,22:16)
We have offered IG benefits for builders, we don't have pay to play so we offered Angelstone which is our pay for perks "currency."

We had offered one person % of profits if he wanted to take on a bigger role, as head builder... never saw him again.
Given that you're aiming to make a profit, I would think most builders would ask why you take a cut and they don't.  Why not offer all builders a deal like "X% of profit until a cap of ($Y per approved zone) is reached"?

Angelstone is only valuable if the game takes off and stays up.  If the game folds, it immediately has zero value.  A contract of the form I suggested would only require that the game launch successfully for the short run (enough for the builders to hit their caps), without burdening you in the long run.

We recruit all of our staff (we don't have "builders"-- all staff are cross-trained) from our playerbase.  You don't have an existing playerbase, but you do have a resource we don't-- potential salaries.  Otherwise, be willing to accept that you aren't going to be able to hold volunteers to a rigid schedule or commitment.
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Old 06-01-2006, 05:59 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Anitra @ June 01 2006,04:10)
Baram: May 31 2006,22:16  
Quote:
Originally Posted by
 
I'm starting to think that having our current builders make area's without any real descs, and then start to fill them in during testing(and maybe add a few of the testers to the building team) is the best approach for us right now.
With all due respect I think that is a bad idea. Most good builders don't fancy writing descs for already linked zones. Creating a quality area means that all parts of the world must be integrated. Mapping, descs, extra decs, mobs, objects, scripts - all must work together to a comprehensible whole. If you break out one of the groundstones, ir will limit the builder's creativity in an undesired way.
Creating a quality world means that you can't have areas of the game which don't fit the style and history of the world. If every builder goes their own way in linking rooms, you could have completely different styles, oh say of street layout in cities, in areas which should look similar. That prevents "creating a quality area" which will, with other areas, "work together to a comprehensible whole."

For the main city the game I've been designing, I've laid out the streets already. Some are designated upper-class residence, some middle-class residence, some middle-class business, etc. Each should conform to that or else we'd end up with upper class residences abutting lower-class residences. The layout of the geography reflects a historical pattern of settlement. Seemingly random at present, it followed historical expansion of cultures and other varying influences.

As for recruiting builders, I found it both easy and difficult. People who liked the theme and setting of the game were happy to build. The thought of a serious approach to a setting rarely used is something that appeals to people. Coders are a bit more difficult, especially since I have to believe that they're trustworthy as much as I believe in their ability.

Take care,

Jason
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Old 06-01-2006, 06:45 PM   #20
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the_logos June 01 2006,12:31
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I don't think that's correct. Good builders understand that what they are building is part of a larger whole, not a stand-alone component. Good builders work within the restrictions placed upon them by the technology of the building tools, the genre of the game, the game design, and so on.
I think you misunderstood me.

Naturally good builders adapt to global restrictions, like game technology, design, genre, theme and so on. If they didn't, they obviously wouldn't be good builders, right?

What I am saying is that they should be given full freedom to work with all the building tools at their disposal, within those given frames. Only in this way will you release their full creativity.

Putting descs on someone else's zone is not the kind of task that would appeal to most good builders I know, just as little as mapping a zone with no descs at all. Neither apprach has the potential of creating an end product of any quality.
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