It dawns on me that while developing games for BYOND may be a hobby, very few seem to have any sort of grasp on actual game design*. Like, any part of game design. One of these elements being the team aspect, which is what we'll be touching up on here today.
* I do not have a degree in game design or anything like that so I'm not an expert on this!
Day in and day out, new development teams are formed and within a week fade away. So many keys are registered, usually featuring the title "Games", "Enterprises", "Productions", and "Industries". These teams consist of one person usually. Almost every classified ad is this fellow who says they have a ton of ideas, but no actual skills to bring to the table. They swoop in demanding a complete team, promising nothing more than the fact that those who assist them will receive administration in their game - generally an arbitrary level of administration such as "LEVEL 10 GM" or "GODKING OVERLORD ADMINISTRATOR OF THE SEVENTH DYNASTY".
A very consistent theme among these posts are the ridiculous names for various jobs. I can assure you, most of these terms are unique to BYOND, no one is going to know what an "iconner" is outside of our community. Let's have a look:
- Iconners: No other language as far as I'm aware refers to their graphical assests as "icons". Most call them sprites, I believe. The phrases "I'm iconning" and "I'm going to icon" do not make sense to anyone that isn't from BYOND, because icon isn't a verb. The correct term for one who creates graphics is a pixel artist.
- Selectiveness: When pixel artists are requested, it's always in the form of "i need a turf iconner, a npc iconner, a clothes iconner, etc". I find the notion that a pixel artist would only be specifically skilled in one single thing and that one would require multiple artists for ten different things to be completely silly.
- GFXers/GFX artists: I've never understood this position. You take an image from Google Image Search, generally one from an anime, throw a Photoshop filter over it and slap a name on it. This is pretty much every anime game's title screen, and let me tell you it doesn't look good at all. Almost every person gathering a team requests one of these as well. I'm also led to believe GFXer translates to "graphixer", which is just not correct.
- Idealists: I'm already going to say this isn't what you think it means. I'd rather call them designers.
- Mappers: A common theme with these jobs is that they're referred to by what they're called in Dream Maker. Code file? Coder. Icon file? Iconner. Map file? Mapper. Someone who makes maps is a cartographer. Level design would probably be the best term (and man, do games on BYOND really lack in this!)
- Hubbists/hub artists: I'm just going to say this right now, almost every single hub I've ever seen on BYOND is a horrible ugly mess straight out of the Web 1.0 days of Geocities. Black backgrounds with a rainbow of fonts, images lifted from DeviantArt, every single in-game faction rank listed out on the hub with who holds such positon (and then no one updates this list, ever!), player rules and rules for administrators (why do you need to explicity lay down these? Ugh!) When I see a trainwreck of a hub it really does not give me any sort of confidence the game will be any better. Anyways, the point is people request hub artists and I'm guessing it's the artist's fault these hubs look like this. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.
- Coders: The number one thing requested on BYOND. Yes, learning to program is hard and it takes a great deal of practice, but I assure you it is possible to learn - just look at me! Also, programmer sounds better than coder, though this is just my personal opinion.
- Selectiveness: Just like with pixel artists, people request programmers that seem to only be capable of one specific thing. If your programmer can only make trees that are dense, then they're probably not very good.
- Hosts: Multiplayer games need hosts, that's reasonable. But here's the thing, your mom's computer isn't a reliable hosting server. And for the love of Dantom don't host games in DreamSeeker! Even if you have a whole team of hosts, they're still not as stable as a good VPS.
I may just be hollering about semantics, but I really do feel that new developers have a very skewed idea of how to build a team when you're requesting ten different jobs that may or may not even have any sort of relevance to anything at all.
I need to get something off of my chest. Right now. Rewarding those who help you by giving them an administrative position in your game is absolutely dumb. No, don't look at me like that. Being an administator/co-owner/owner/cowhide-tanner is not compensation. No. NO. NO. I'm very biased when I say this but if you're giving out administration to compensate your team, your game is crap and your priorities are completely bonkers. Your game is most likely nothing more than a p-bag-hitting level-gaining player-abusing bonanza. What am I trying to say exactly?
Being an administrator is not a reward, it is a responsibility. Oh, well administrators in your game have a verb that blows the planet up? And lets you become level seven billion instantly? And can create all the best gear in the game for you? That is not what administrators do. The only sort of verbs required to moderate a server should be a mute verb (for things your chat filter can't catch [you have a chat filter, right? ...right?]), and a ban verb. I'd suggest boot, though temporarily removing a malicious user will probably not calm them down and they'll just keep relogging. Administartors are meant to keep the peace on a game when failsafes and security do not work or just aren't capable of stopping things. They're also meant to assist players who are in need of help, not lock their movement, teleport to them, then blow them up with a Spiritchidoribankewhosifet. Your pixel artist does not need to be an administrator. Your programmer does not need to be an administrator (why would you even offer this to them, they could just program themselves in as one!). Your freakin' level designer does not need the ability to ban people at all.
While we're on the subject of moderation, you do not need seventy different levels of administration. It makes my head hurt when people say things like "level 10 GM" and "head administrator". Why does one need so many different ranks and levels? Many BYOND games seriously have ranks similar to this: "Trial Enforcer, Enforcer, Moderator, Head Moderator, Administrator, Head Administrator, Lead Administrator, Co-Owner, Head Co-Owner, Owner, Main Owner". I've scraped by with having only one rank of administration where everyone had the same exact moderating tools and no special priveledges.
To wind down this part of my pseudo-informative rant, the team-building mentality of BYOND is a very strange one. How do we help improve it? And will the people this is directed towards actually read this and take it to heart? Probably not, but we'll look at that next time.