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This is a blog for informal commentary about the MUD - where it has been, where it is going, and where it is now.

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When Does An Idea Become A Reality?, posted on Mon Jun 22 16:29:25 2009
Posted by: Drakkos
Category: General
So, the Rainy Day File is something you're all becoming familiar with as we move ideas onto it. I thought I'd take a few minutes out to explain a bit about how ideas end up on the File and why we don't just code them right away.

We have many thousands of outstanding idea reports - over 7,500 at the current count. The ones that get denied right away tend to break down into several categories:

a) Incomprehensible ('well u should put the thing i see here into a line of code and make it DANCE until CHICKENS COME OUT!!!')

b) Not very useful or detailed from our perspective ('lol, fix combat lol')

c) Not in fitting with our theme ('I think we should have bazookas!')

d) Not in fitting with our game design philosophy ('I think I should have a button I press to give me ten million XP')

Of the ones we deny that don't fall into these categories, they tend to be just too much effort to code for limited benefit. We alas don't have unlimited developer time, so we need to spend it wisely. For example, we often get reports along the theme of 'There is a <thing> in this room - I think it would be cool if you could do <awesome thing> with <thing>'. The chances are, we probably agree that it would be awesome - but if it's an idea that takes an hour to develop and only five people are ever going to see the code, it's not a good allocation of time. You'll often find these denied with the keyword 'situational'. They may be cool, they may be very funny, but we just don't think people are going to notice or appreciate the time put in, and we always, always have more work than time.

Those ideas that we don't deny go onto the Rainy Day File. It's kind of a triage - we get people doing a pass over all our open idea reports, and we deny the ones that aren't suitable and then mark the rest as rainy day. Each individual idea in itself may be quite small (perhaps an hour of developer time), but it needs several magic ingredients for it to come to light:

a) It needs a creator who finds the idea interesting enough to code

b) It needs a creator who has the right combination of skills, attitude and access to code it

c) It needs a creator who has the time to devote to coding it and maintaining it.

It's tremendously unlikely that all three of those ingredients are present when your report is first read. If it is, the chances are it will be coded instantly.

Now though, when those ingredients are not present, the report can go to the rainy day file for people who are actually looking for things to do. Sometimes they will be looking for new features in a development. Sometimes they will just be at a loose end for a couple of hours and looking to do something with their time. The Rainy Day File then is a resource of 'hey, pick me' ideas that people can browse through at their leisure and implement when they tick all three of the above boxes.

Our system in the past has been to just let idea reports linger until people find them (which they often don't because people usually don't go looking). You should think then of getting an idea on the File as passing the first check for quality - there's no guarantee it will go any further, but at least you know at least one other person has read your report and thought it was consistent with our game and the right balance of time invested to game reward.

At the moment, we're doing regular passes over all our game directories to give some of you closure on the ideas you have sent in. As I said earlier, we have over 7,500 of those right now. Don't take being put on the File as a nicer way of denying your report - more reports get denied than end up on the file. The file is growing nicely, to the point where it has actually become full to bursting of great ideas that we can make use of at our leisure as our development dictates.



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