Sunday, June 04, 2006

Ideas, Genius and Effort

Over the past 8 years of being a contributor to the administration of the game, I've seen many people come and go who have also contributed in various degrees. The hardest part seems for people to get over the initial ramp-up. There's a lot of effort that goes into getting even their first area actually live and into the game. I plan to start keeping statistics and perhaps will go do some research into the past to see how it correlates, but I'd suspect that only 1 in 3 people who are advanced to the Immortal ranks ever finish an area.

Everyone's reason for not finishing is different. Some are related to things outside of the game, some are related to interpersonal relationships within the game, some never intended to contribute in the first place, but most often the reason is that they do not know how much effort it is to actually do an area.

"It seems pretty easy just looking at it and walking through a room. It's just a few sentences of text in each room and then there are a few mobs with text as well. I've got a brilliant idea for a theme and I can knock it out in a day!" Wrong. It takes persistence, effort, determination, interpersonal skills and a long time to finish.

The fastest I can recall an area of any substantial size and quality being built is two weeks. I remember Ming building the Derro area in about two weeks from inception to opening. This didn't seem remarkable at the time, but I'll provide my estimates of the average area that is completed and you may agree it is exceptional.

Assuming for a new area 50 rooms, 15 mobs, 10 object and 5 new effects.
350 minutes. Room descriptions typically take 5-10 minutes per room.
250 minutes. Connecting and flagging rooms takes 5 mintus per room.
100 minutes. Describing mob takes 5-10 minutes per mob.
200 minutes. Setting mob statistics takes 10-15 mintues per mob.
120 minutes. Getting approval/agreeement with admin on equipment.
100 minutes. Describing eqiupment and setting stats at 10 minutes per object.
300 minutes. Creating new effects for mobs, rooms, objects that are new to the game. 60 minutes per effect.

That's 1420 minutes or roughly 23 hours of committed time that likely won't happen continuously for anyone who has a life or plays the game. In addition, there are approvals of all the rooms, mobs and new effects that are required. These are much harder to estimate because they really depend on the initial quality of the writing and statting as well as the style of the walker. Regardless, they require real time to pass and a lot of effort.

For anyone to get 23 hours of writing done requires roughly 1 hour a day for 3 weeks. Yes, this is trivial math, but the point is people who play MUDs or perhaps any type of online game seem to have an internal clock upon which they measure their progress. Few that I know would be patient enough to wait for 3 weeks of playing for an hour before they see any fruitful results. This is the determination that is often not aniticpated by new applicants and perhaps not clearly articulated by the game's administration to those applying.

So, in my opinion, the genius of those that bring their ideas to fruition (at least in this game) is that they are able to find a way reset their internal expectations of what they find as a priority. There is comparatively little external reward versus effort for a new contributor to Sloth MUD, but those that seem to get over this hurdle often go on to be substantial contributors of several areas or enhancement projects.

No comments: