Without fail, every project that I head up or am a lead contributor of in the open source community, a question is handed to me with great anxiety and trepidation. For some reason I instill great uneasiness within developers because of my own work ethic and drive. This is an open letter to all of you, and those of you who are to come, to try to head this question off at the pass by giving a public and broad wave of the hands sort of answer to the grand question – What do you expect out of us?
The immediate answer is obvious, at least in my eyes. I expect all of you to keep up your end of the bargain. We are a team and we all have a large burden on our shoulders of keeping our communication up at a level that is useful as well as keeping up on our other responsibilities, such as the actual artwork and technical aspects of the process of building a mod. Unfortunately this answer is quite vague, and for that I apologize. Let’s expand upon what it means, in my eyes, to be a member of this team…
Members should all be active on the methods of communication that we have chosen. The mailing list is one of the few most useful means of making sure that all of our voices are heard. The message flow is a great mechanic to create an open thread of discussion and notification. The tickets are a fantastic tool that allows us to keep track of our progress, in relation to milestones. The wiki is perhaps the most majestic of tools for documentation. These all come together to help us understand each other and get clarification at a pace that is sickeningly fast. I, for one, am working on documentation almost entirely. It is this communication that is our primary life goal, here and in the future. Optimally, going forward we should all be actively chiming in on the mailing list and Assembla tools on a daily time period, but I realize that isn’t as realistic as many of our schedules allow. For now, and through our first month I expect no more than three (3) days to pass without seeing some comment from a member updating their tickets and or commenting on a message on Assembla or the mailing list, or simply writing to the mailing list to let everyone else know they are alive and kicking.
Keeping up with the tools is one thing, but we also have a much needed role of being the best we can be in the circumstances that we all have to live through. We are each a cog in the machine of our moods and productive capability machine, impacting each other in ways that can only be related to in love relationships. If we are not the best we can be, alongside each other, we can and probably will be tripped up and join those other dead or dying mods. Just as with startup companies, we are going into a fickle industry and similarly, we have to stick to our guns and trudge through it. I am a leader that will work hard to make sure that our issues are corrected in due time, but a leader cannot do it all. We need to work together to ensure that I am not overwhelmed with picking up anyone who may fall apart on top of the other tasks that I am accepting onto my shoulders. I am not a micro manager, in fact I prefer a form of management that plays more into the label of guidance counselor than much else. When it comes to personal interaction I am sure that many of you have already got the experience to know that I am quite approachable, and I intend to keep it that way.
I know for a fact that I am asking a lot of you guys. Your time is sparse, in fact it’s almost nonexistent in a couple courts, so I recognize the fact that we are all trying very hard to keep our feet on the fire and accomplish this project. The final things that I would like to note are as follows.
- Up to this point Mike and I have made all of the tickets. We are not going to be doing so any further though. As you progress through the week you can and should be making your own tickets. When the broad scheme comes to pass I will surely create the wide brush strokes that will let us all know what we should be doing, but the intricate details are going to fall on your own shoulders. Likewise, the issues that arise need to be created. Until we have a proper testing team to take care of this we have to take care of the complicated parts.
- Everything we do should be at least semi-professional. You should think about how you would expect to be treated in a business where you were a key player and well endowed and important to its future and reflect that upon the rest of us. I am using this as a foot hold in the mod community to eventually step into game development from college so the better I can make this look like a business and get the same interaction within us all the better it will be. It all comes down to what you expect to gain from this experience.
- I am a firm believer in cross pollination. Being a jack of many trades is a beautiful thing, and I intend to interact with all of you on a detailed level at some point in this process. I am a programmer currently but I am planning on expanding my understanding of level design, graphic design and so forth through this venture. I expect you all to do the same. It is not possible to truly know something without being able to teach it to others. The more you teach me the more I will teach you.
In closing I want to relay to you that I have an intense trust that I am handing over to you all. It is not that I am worrying about it being betrayed, but rather that I want to do what I can to ensure that my trust with you all is not ignored, and vice versa. I know that we have already been through some terribly shitty experiences in regards to modding and development in general, and I am trying my best to keep all of that in sight with every decision that I make that relates to this mod, and I want you all to keep that in mind as well. Your input to me, private or public, will impact my directions and my momentum. Through the first release I would like you all to keep track of your experiences and if at all possible I would like to have a sit down one on one with each of you as we get closer to that dead line to be able to gauge where you feel you stand.
More than anything, I am available every day, all day, for discussion or input so please don’t be shy to give me a jingle on the phone or if you are trying to get a lot off your chest my email patches straight through to my blackberry.
Please be well gentlemen.