there was a story of the same name written by Stephen King, which was a great read. The concept is quite serious and very appropriate to drive this essay; the main characters brother was a genius who found that there was something in the water that caused people to act as fucked up as they do to each other, and it took a drastic measure to cause it to come to an end. Although this story took the world to a place that it really didn’t like, it was the drastic measure that relates this story to me. It is this drastic measure that is causing me to stand up and open the doors that I have, and I am here doing as much as I can to help remove the problems that are coming to fruition quite quickly.
Being a programmer and computer technician I have been driven into a society that centers on science and there by the scientific processes become increasingly important in the genre that I am working. The scientific process paraphrased is to define a problem and then find its solution, removing it from needing be worried about. The process is as important in this as any other industry, but it seems to be ignored by a good majority of those involved in it. A great example of this is the many mod communities that exist. The reason that this is a great example might seem to bypass my discussion. You may be wondering why it is that I would compare world suffering to a community of developers, and then you may have the epiphany that I have had.
Developers are private; I went into this in a previous essay, but I will explain a bit here. It is simple to accept that developers need privacy and secrecy in order to develop, because that is something that we have come to accept, but when you think about the driving forces of their world. What drives development, need for applications to serve tasks, and where does that need come from? Quite simply the public does. There is a dichotomy here. One hand of a developer requires them to be secretive and the other requires them to be public, a juggling act that is often going to lead to the selfish decision of the developer to return to their own world.
The reason that this needs be discussed is quite simple. In the movement to web 2.0 everyone and their mom has access to a wiki and a blog, everyone has pictures and video on YouTube or their Mac photo blog, but here I am in a world of developers who do nothing in the line of updating their public, unless its something huge. The reason that this is a huge issue is again back to this web movement. Everything that these people are given is being shoved down their throats. I have taken part in many usability studies where if a page took them longer than two or three seconds to load, they often chose to bounce away or thought there was an issue somehow leading them to believe the site is less important to them than a faster one. One such test actually put a timer into code to slow the application down depending upon how long the user has been on a site. Developers are introverts and they should be the opposite in order to ensure their applications are meeting the public need. The apple does not fall far from the tree; the public often loses interest in things that are time consuming because they are interested in having their needs met quickly even when better options exist.
It should be astounding to you all that something so driven by public thought and opinion is not doing much to help shape that opinion. It should make your mind numb trying to understand how a developer whose entire existence is based around public opinion is not worried about it to the point that they change their own processes.
I told you above that I am a child of science, that I pose problems and solve them, removing them from my worry. I have posed our problem, and I have come up with a controversial idea that would open some doors and broaden our options as developers, while giving the public what they need, the solution is a blog. My solution is to give the public what they want, being that the public wants to know their application is up to date or that there is an update in the near future. I have seen a number of mods that have come and gone, but since everything is dependant upon public awareness it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the mods that have gone without notice are those without publicity. They are often posting once a month or on extremes once a year, and only if they have something important to their own eyes, not necessarily paying much attention to what the public sees.
One of the more successful mods, I hold this true to this day, is a sham. Its premise was to create halo for HL2 without so much as admitting that was their goal. Their popularity was amazing to me and I couldn’t understand what it was that was driving their team, or how they could do such an atrocity even when so many were pointing their faults out. The reasoning for their success is quite simply publicity. In spite of those who were turned away from it by its obvious roots in Halo, it still caught on because their leader was brilliant, and drove their team by driving the public. He posted videos, scanned schematics, screenshots, concept art, sound effects, and even map layouts every single Friday and the fact that he did this gave the public what it wanted, updates. They have since changed their direction, but they are still steaming ahead because they have the user base to drive themselves.
Like it or not, making a mod is game development on the cheap. Most of those that I have run into have been searching for that niche that has yet to be exploited and want to make a billion dollars a year building games because they are gamers and think they have an idea that’s new wave. I would love to open the door to my office at a game development studio some day and be able to sit down with ten or so games that are all accredited to my name making so much money that I could easily open up my own studio, but that is just a dream, and I realize that. Modding HL2 will not get me any amount of money as long as it is modding, because no matter what I do I am molding someone else’s game to my specifications, and in order to actually bring new ideas to the level that I want them I have to gain better control and understanding of the processes involved in game development. Modding serves its purpose in that it allows me to make a game and it allows me to put that into a pretty package and say It’s a done deal, but until I come to the point that I get thousands of hits to my website looking for me to be updating my progress on the game I will not be satisfied with anything that has gone on.
I hope that my words have inspired you to start doing what it is you have to do to get your mod publicized better, although there are many other requirements for a game to become popular. I wont pick on anyone in particular, but suffice to say that no one wants to play another XYZ game on a new engine just because. I dread the day that harvest moon moves to source, although it may be a fun experiment. There are very few things I can say, but in summary, I suggest that everyone that is currently in a development position takes a few minutes or an hour a day to actually write out what they are working on and what it means for the project. If this has been an unproductive day you should look into some descriptive writing and just get your mind off of development for a while, but I find it outrageous to see a mod have a post once a month, while trying to drive itself internally. I assure you that the publicity will drive your internals as well as the externals, and above all else it will make sure that the project that you have spent the last four years slaving at is actually going to meet the expectations of the public and not be a flop.