The Commission Condundrum

The Commission Condundrum

Postby Savriss » Sun Apr 06, 2014 10:58 am

It seems like the current changes to the way everyone receives Flexible were brought about by a lack if income, though I stand to be corrected if I'm wrong on this.

The more I think about this, though, the weirder the whole thing gets;
With just Stripes and Wahn taking on commissions and both usually able to get through a decent number of hours in a month, I don't think I ever saw a month in which there weren't projects carried over. This was true even when we were only reaching half the monthly donation goal of $1000 and became obviously aggravated by the double down donation drive, of which there is still significant time outstanding. This is no attack on Stripes and Wahn, who both get through a critical amount of work each month to keep the game evolving, it's simple fact that two people with jobs would struggle to accomplish 66.6 ($1000 divided by the 15$ per hour commission rate) hours between them. A fully achieved goal means that each developer will need to do one hour every night, no exceptions. If you regularly meet your goal, any new projects are going to slip further and further away in an increasing cycle. It does not appear that there are any developers waiting in the wings to pick up the slack and I do not believe the current changes will motivate new people to join in and become coders, let alone 'staff' developers.

This mostly worked when everyone was largely on an equal footing equally and anyone could get in on the muddle, asides from the obviously missed donation expectations. Everyone was part of the same group, whether player, developer or donator. Now everyone is being clearly separated into the producers, the haves and the have-nots, there are expectations being placed on the consumer (and implied customer) of your product. Insofar as I can see, there has been no movement whatsoever to equal the scales on the side of the producer.

Is there any effort to get another developer and, if so, what will happen when funds are not available to keep everyone in commissions?
Will any of the money from generic subscription plans go towards a generic pot to motivate developers when there aren't specific projects going on or is this just for profit now?
Do these plans come with an implied amount of expansion every month regardless of the commissions that month?
Is there just the expectation that commissions will either never be abundant enough to cause the above-mentioned spiral of deadlines?
Or perhaps there's just no concern that, if successful, deadlines will push further and further out?

And let's just be clear, here:
I have no idea why you have to tie the single player game to the multi player client. I will not be participating in this, regardless of my commission status.
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Re: The Commission Condundrum

Postby nukuv » Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:03 am

I don't think we hit $1000 as often as you seem to believe.
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Re: The Commission Condundrum

Postby Savriss » Mon Apr 07, 2014 2:03 am

No, I am quite aware that we probably haven't hit that $1000 target in some time, if ever. In the recent past, breaking even half of the goal has been irregular. My statement addresses the fact that two coders would struggle with the amount of hours that the goal would generate and, thusly, that the amount of donations being generated are a result of a fairly natural cap on capability to deliver.

My questions are addressed towards the possibility that these changes may cause the goal to be achieved (or nearly achieved) more often in the near future. If more interest is drummed up in the short term, deadlines are going to jump further away each month, which will further compound with every successful month. My concern is that this appears to lead to an inevitable boom and bust pattern in which people briefly crowd the pipeline beyond capacity, which then kills interest in the game as existing customers gripe and potential customers are discouraged from participation. The results of which could be an interest level in the game that is lower than what existed before the change.

I want Flexible to succeed and grow; as such I want to know that there is some preparation to maintain the interest level and involvement that this change hopes to generate.
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Re: The Commission Condundrum

Postby AGentlemanCalledB » Mon Apr 07, 2014 8:40 am

Unfortunately it's not really a matter of just finding another writer in that situation. Since you're commissioning a specific writer with a specific idea here (not just throwing money/idea into a pot and having the available writers work on it), if one writer is flooded with requests, then a backlog is going to happen with that individual.

There have been plenty of capable writers come and go over the course of the game's development, but for whatever reason (at least in my experience) the community seems reluctant to really support them (I'm not even referring to commissioning work specifically, feedback/response/ect is often little to non-existent) which easily leads to discouragement and eventually the individual dropping out of content production. (Again, this is only speaking from my personal experience, that may not have been the case for some of the other past writers, but from an outside view it certainly looks that way)

Even now (as far as I'm aware) BlueBishop is still available for commission, but his name rarely pops up in the queue. It seems people would just rather just wait through a long queue for Stripes/Wahn.
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Re: The Commission Condundrum

Postby boring7 » Mon Apr 07, 2014 9:48 am

I'm just lazy and easily distracted. I play the newest build, meddle around, have some fun, then wander off for a little while (okay, years) and come back to repeat the process.
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Re: The Commission Condundrum

Postby Savriss » Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:40 am

Part of this issue is the lack of clarity and assignment, part of which has been a tendency towards making all the details behind closed doors, rather than up front... something of which I am personally guilty. Even now, the available writers indicates just two people, not including Blue Bishop.

I believe there should be a projects forum and each project should be a clear and stand-alone thread, portioned out on availability (pending preference and approval, obviously). That way there could be clarity, expectations and commentary on them, people like Random Bob could help peer review stuff and everything created would be the stronger for it. Also, if people weren't commissioned directly but preferences were made clear, a 'can X do it instead so it's timeous?' would be upfront.

This all leads into my earlier questions, regarding what happens to under-used developers. They don't get a chance to shine unless commissioned and, generally, won't work without it, either... If some of the money that isn't pointed at a particular project (such as raised through subs) could be paid to people who put ideas into code, that would motivate people. Frankly, I believe the bonus hours should stop and instead that a bounty be created that could be paid to people who put their own content in.
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Re: The Commission Condundrum

Postby Wahn » Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:45 am

AGentlemanCalledB wrote:Even now (as far as I'm aware) BlueBishop is still available for commission, but his name rarely pops up in the queue. It seems people would just rather just wait through a long queue for Stripes/Wahn.


Hm, he didn't add an entry to the new Writer for Hire thread (viewtopic.php?f=5&t=35) after the forum went up in flames. I was under the assumption that he wasn't available at the moment.
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Re: The Commission Condundrum

Postby AGentlemanCalledB » Mon Apr 07, 2014 11:53 am

Wahn wrote:
AGentlemanCalledB wrote:Even now (as far as I'm aware) BlueBishop is still available for commission, but his name rarely pops up in the queue. It seems people would just rather just wait through a long queue for Stripes/Wahn.


Hm, he didn't add an entry to the new Writer for Hire thread (viewtopic.php?f=5&t=35) after the forum went up in flames. I was under the assumption that he wasn't available at the moment.


Ah, so it seems. Perhaps I am mistaken.

Savriss wrote:If some of the money that isn't pointed at a particular project (such as raised through subs) could be paid to people who put ideas into code, that would motivate people. Frankly, I believe the bonus hours should stop and instead that a bounty be created that could be paid to people who put their own content in.


As far as I'm aware, the new system doesn't really have a generic subscription? It's essentially the same as it's always been, money to specific writers for a specific project, just though a new interface. You can get a monthly Mako sub to the multiplayer, which can then be tossed into singleplayer dev time, but that still works the same as a regular donation I believe.

I never participated in the bonus hours, but I don't think there's any actual money there to be used as a bounty either, it's simply the writers who have received commission that month kicking back some free content as a thanks to the community.
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Re: The Commission Condundrum

Postby nukuv » Mon Apr 07, 2014 1:59 pm

There is now at least one source of 'generic' time, in the form of the monthly ad revenue that I posted about earlier today. I'll be using it to try to encourage our less occupied producers.
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Re: The Commission Condundrum

Postby Savriss » Tue Apr 08, 2014 8:18 am

If there is a drive to encourage interest in the game, I think that's a good thing.

The challenge is to get the word out to attract new players, keep them and then encourage SOME of these people to become active in one of three branches;
A branch of people who contribute their own content.
A second branch who develop content for other people, effectively the earners.
One branch who pay money to the above-mentioned branch.

As a final note, I can see several obvious issues with turning this into a profitable product as opposed to just earning enough to maintain a community, but that is not my responsibility; I am only concerned with the continued existence of Flexible in my role as a consumer.

For what it's worth, I consider this topic closed as the specific concerns I raised at the beginning have been addressed as much as they're likely to get. I don't see a resolved button, so this will have to do.
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