Campaign designers are people too

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Part of a Series on Campaign Design by Nuclear1

Original post by Nuclear1 on the HLP forums, here.

This is more for the player than the campaign designer, but it's still important.

Campaigns. Campaigns are the things that keep people coming to Hard Light and to the Freespace community at-large. They keep us engaged in Freespace, they offer their answers to questions about the universe we want answered, and they offer their own unique gameplay aspects and stories. Yet campaigns would be nothing without the people behind them; the FREDers (mission designers), story writers, animators, testers, and the project leaders.

These people work very hard to deliver a solid campaign for you, the player. Unfortunately, over the years some 'fans' and hopeful players have managed to make life hard for our valiant, fearless designers. Of course, these people don't represent the majority of fans, who are mostly very well-behaved.

I said mostly, dammit.

So what do you need to know about campaign designers, if you're not one already? There are five things you really ought to be aware of when dealing with project leaders.

#5 – We're Not Getting Paid

This one's fairly straight-forward. While a lot of work that gets done for the Source Code Project, FS Upgrade Project, and the various campaigns on Hard Light and elsewhere is of professional quality, it's only that way because we bring a lot of our outside skills and talents to work on a game we love. A lot of Freespace fans are professional coders, video editors, writers, and animators, while many others simply have a vast knowledge of these fields.

Because we're bound to our projects by nothing more than a desire to express our talents and ideas with our fellow fans, we work at our own different paces. We're not working on contracts, and deadlines are often tentative at best. Development can go on for years, or it can take only a few months.

So in short: unless you're willing to pay us to get our work done, or you otherwise have a financial stake in seeing Blue Planet 3 or Blackwater Operations released, don't get irritated when development goes longer than anticipated. We're not professional game developers or a studio, so we can take as long as we need.

Unrelated Duke Nukem Forever promotional image.

#4 – Real Life Happens

This can be tied in to my previous point, but it's serious enough that it warrants its own category. While we're all huge fans, our lives don't revolve entirely around Freespace. We have jobs to work at, schoolwork to do, unexpected happenings in the outside world, and sometimes even significant others that need our attention.

Finding out you're up late 'working on' 'Fred'.

Basically, for the same reason you can't expect us to finish a project on-time as promised due to a lack of money motivation, you can't expect us to be glued to our desks working on our campaigns. Freespace is, and will continue to be for a long time, our hobby. If you can pay all our bills, do our homework for us, or go to our jobs, we'd be happy to spend more time working on them.

#3 – Caps Lock Does Not Make Things Go Faster

Shouting. Anger. Caps lock. The srs bsnss of the internet. You use it to get your point across in debates over anything, you use it to get your way. Like a little child throwing a tantrum, you get your milk or your extra ten minutes of TV at night. Fortunately, we don't roll that way here at Hard Light. Shouting or taking an attitude with project leaders or other members often ends up with very negative results. At best, you'll get a few other members to tell you to knock it off, and you'll walk away from the thing a little embarrassed. At worst, you'll make yourself out to be a total ass and will likely be enjoying a temporary vacation from Hard Light.

I know this is the internet, and maybe acting aggressively elsewhere has worked out for you, but when it comes to dealing with people who devote an enormous amount of time to a hobby for your ultimate benefit, you may want to stow the attitude. Don't make us get out the flamethrowers.

This person wasn't always a charred corpse in our janitor closet.

#2 – Help is Always Appreciated

Are you a writer? Do you know how to render, model, texture, or design levels? Well you're in luck! Depending on which skill set you have, you're likely in demand here at Hard Light. If there was one way you could ever ensure that your particular fan project gets done on time is if you invest a personal interest in it yourself. Give yourself something to be proud of in the long run, and establish yourself as a talented individual in the community while helping some inundated campaigns.

Even if you don't know how to do any of the above, you can do what you already do with Freespace: play! Large and small projects alike are always on the look-out for testers during the final stages of development. Feedback from playing earlier projects by the same people is also monumentally helpful in refining a project so that it's the best it can be for you and everyone else.

Participate in discussions on the Hosted boards, hit up project leaders or staff in our IRC channels, and overall just get involved. People will work faster when they feel like they're working for somebody who cares.

Which brings me to my final point...

#1 – Campaign Designers Are People Too

We are, I swear. Big, squishy, adorable people. Seriously, if there were an award for biggest, squishiest, most adorable bunch of sci-fi nerds on the internet, HLP would take third at least. Because we wuv you. We really do.

See? We even have unicorns and wainbows! We're so adowable.

We're also people who just like to devote a lot of our time and energy to making campaigns that people will later enjoy (and will partly boost our ego too). We like to know people are out there waiting to play our campaigns. Fans are what keep most projects going. Machina Terra hasn't had much public forum activity with the exception of one absolutely devoted fan (perhaps creepily so) by the name of CSA-DarthVader.

Drop by the Hosted board for whichever project you're interested in, check up on the progress, ask questions. Drop by the IRC channels and chat with all of us; most projects have at least one person in any of the channels. (Also, give Axem a big ol' hug if you do drop by, he appreciates it.) But above all, tell the staff how much you appreciate the work they're doing. Nothing uplifts a FREDer or leader's spirits than knowing their work is appreciated by even just one person. It fills us with rainbows and unicorns.