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Haral/Work Ethic Rant


Okay, so I have a tendency to bite off more than the average man can chew. I think small and end up with something huge. It's not unfair to say I deserve a lot of the frustrations I get. But still... What the hell?

My first experience in leading a real team was with the mod Redemption for the Wheel of Time game. It was a pretty typical sight, and one I'm not exactly proud of. I decided to make the mod because I figured I could do it better than other people. I'm not so convinced that I was wrong, but it was a sad, sad thing. I wasn't going to program for it. I wasn't going to level design. Nope, no models... no sound fx. No, my great contribution was design and story, the two least valuable products in the mod community.

And you know what? That was the only time I ended up with a hard working team. It pretty well broke up later on due to life issues with some and probably burnout on others (see first paragraph.) I ended up releasing a pretty decent MP mod that had nothing to do with what was originally planned, and it was 90% my own work. Everyone I recruited once I actually was a productive member myself was totally lazy.

Since then I have tried everything I can think of to get people to just work on something. I've tried giving them creative influence, I've tried giving them a totally solid and complete design layout. I've TOLD them EXACTLY what they need to do, just hoping that they might do it and accidentally find themselves doing something else afterwards. But no... I end up having to do it myself.

It doesn't bother me if people don't want to work on my mod. That's FINE! If everyone just said "No, I wanna do my own thing," or "you sux0rz g0 t00 h3llzzz" I would not hate them except for not recognising the difference between 'to' and 'too.' But that's not what happens! It's more like this:

Haral: blah blah blah talk about project blah blah

Whoever: That's rad, can I work on it?

Haral: Yeah I guess. You gotta keep up with the work though, I don't have any need for another name.

Whoever: Totally!

A couple weeks goes by...

Haral: So are you going to do anything?

Whoever: Yeah, I've just been really busy.

Busy? I HATE YOU. Busy playing games? Busy watching tv? Busy staring at a wall? These are things I've actually found the people were doing!

I am constantly trying to make things easier for other people to get their work done. I tell them that if there's anything stopping them from getting something done, tell me. All I get, however, is I'm busy. I'm not asking you out on a date! You aren't busy! I AM. Busy getting things done while you sit there wasting space! I have a full time job. I go to school. I hang out with my friends. I keep a social life. I still get things done.

If any of you people are out there reading this, come to grips with reality:

You are not busy. You have the time. You just don't want to spend it.

If you don't want to take the time, that's fine. Just stop wasting my time by saying you're gonna keep up.

*deep breath*

What in the world am I doing wrong here? How can I get people to actually put forth something I can recognise as real effort? I have a hard time even getting people to come and test something I'm working on. It's like people think making a game is like some mail-order degree. Just sign up for the credit, without any of the work! Even worse, it's like people think it's some sort of chore. At times it's tedious, but most of the time it's engaging and FUN.

So here's three years of frustration of being stuck doing everything myself:



Nytro: I agree that many in the modding community can be lazy. One thing that can help with this problem (in case you haven't done this):

LazyModder: Hey, can I join your mod team?

Haral: What kind of stuff can you do?

LazyModder: Uh, I can model stuff.

Haral: Show me a screenshot of something you've done.

Now, at this point the really lazy modder will ignore you.

The not-as-lazy modder will give you a screenshot of something not very good. You can then tell them that you don't think you need their specific talents at the moment (since their talents happen to suck, but *SHH*, don't tell them that). The even-less-lazy modder will give you a good screenshot. Then you consider accepting them:

Even-Less-Lazy Modder: So, can I join now?

Haral: That screenshot looks really good! Try a (thing); if you can do that, I'll know you have the right skills.

So, now we reach the crossroads between even-less-lazy modder and non-lazy modder. If you get a decent (thing), they'll most probably give you more once they're in. If you determine that they're not non-lazy but just even-less-lazy modder, you then factor in how desperate you are to have anyone at all.

Haral: I think I'm just cursed. I only recruit for specific talents, and those specific talents are only ever modelling and programming. Every one of them has had some sort of accomplishment for me to take them aboard. Like the rant says, it was only when I was handling things like an idiot did anyone else get things done. I think the next thing I'm gonna try is closing my eyes, spinning around, and pointing to a day on the calender. Then I'll laugh maniacally and declare, "If you don't have your task done by *whatever date*, you're gone!" At least it'd be more entertaining for me, anyway.

Foxpaw: I'd have to agree 100%. I rarely try to recruit the help of others because I'd like to have all the code done before I ask people if they will do some art, etc... If, for whatever reason, I can't continue to work on it, I don't want to be the one letting everyone else down. However, I noticed this phenomenon when I was "lead" programmer on an online game back in the day. (The actual lead programmer I saw twice in the year I was there, so since I was second to him, I assumed the role.)

I'll be the first to admit, I was lazy sometimes too. There were times I would rather PLAY the game instead of fixing small bugs, which was all that remained at the time. The "mappers," if you would call them that, were the worst. Most of them would "work" for weeks and have nothing to show for it.

However, having said that - About a year ago I was supervisor of a gas station. The cashiers weren't too bad, on account of they didn't really have a lot of work to do, but the gas attendants were just plain lazy. When new people were hired and I trained them, though, I noticed that they were not lazy and would work consistently. I've surmised that this was due to a different attitude of myself vs. the person who trained these people. The previous trainers gave the attentants a sense that they and the trainer (the supervisor) were "on the same level." That's all fine and good for comaraderie, and as much as I would like to do half of their work plus my own, it's not very efficient when I know that they are perfectly capable. The result of that mentality is that since attendant and supervisor are placed at the same level, this gives the impression that since the supervisor sometimes disappears to do paperwork/whatever, the attendant should be able to do the same. This, of course, does not result in very good customer service if both people are away at the same time. :P When I trained people I wasn't "high and mighty," about it, but I did ensure to give the impression that I couldn't always be there because I had other stuff to do. Some people think that this sort of thing will make your staff resent you, but this is not the case. I much prefer having a very defined set of responsibilities, instead of overlapping responsibilities that can be neglected if you think the other person had it taken care of. Unfortunately, since you aren't paying the people on your mod team, (generally) this would likely just breed resentment.

The point is... generally, people don't like to look bad. They know that if they shirk their responsibilities they'll look incompetent and lazy. As a result, if you give the impression that it needs to be done and noone else is going to do it (it's important to do this without being bossy, of course) it's a great motivator, because they know they'll be letting down the team if they don't do it. On the other hand though, some people are just plain lazy, and only want to be a part of the mod so they can see their name in the credits and tell people that they were on the modelling team that made all that great art, etc.

Kerlin: I'm a database admin by day. Yeah, it's uncool but game developers can be a little infantile in project planning and development. The absolute best people I've had on my team have been people that I mentored. Three prerequisites for getting on the db team: creativity (when dealing with 30G of data, this is important), logic (see previous), and hunger (willingness to learn). I've "brought up" guys in my team who have since moved on (after the .com folded). Now years later, when I have conversations with them I sometimes find myself saying, "Really? I didn't know you could do that.".

My point: Consider finding someone hungry. Someone you wouldn't normally consider for the job. Someone who has the raw ability but not the polish. Mentor them, push them, rinse, repeat. You don't get the attitude ("my work speaks for itself", "i could get on any team with my skillz", etc), they appreciate that you're sharing your knowledge, and they'll give you more than what you ask because they want to "prove themselves". Start up time is a little longer but you're trying to make a fine wine, not lemonade, right? You both win in the end.

EntropicLqd: I enjoyed reading this - in a sick I feel your pain kind of way. I had the sad misfortune to work with a contractor in real life who was way more lazy than anyone you describe. He actually created negative work he was so bad. One thing to bear in mind .. If you approach someone to work on a mod and they tell you they are too busy, keep hold of their contact details. If they won't commit because they know they don't have the time you can be fairly sure that should you approach them when they do have the time you'll get some decent output from them.

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