• Two years ago in a galaxy far, far away...

    Quote Originally Posted by savacc View Post
    I saw this as a recent post and thought, "Wow, Mobius is going to do another interview with LK two years later?" ...
    No, sadly, the thread was necro'd... It's been a very tough couple of years, and we have not had time for more interviews with everything going on in real life (TM) and all the drama about dupers and RMT'ers.

    The interview led to someone coming forward about the duper's, and then when Scurby and Farelli talked, we got even more leads. Then TheAnswer and I went dark and started doing deep investigations into what these people were doing. I could write a novel about this period of time. Then in February of 2020, I got incredibly sick, ended up in the hospital, lost 20 lbs (11% of my weight), and it took until March 10, 2020, before my doctors cleared me for work again. Oh, and then my employer announced "work from home" lockdown the very next day. Suddenly, my employees and I had to quickly figure out how to be successful 100% remote overnight. That took a bit of time. Meanwhile, I was hiring people 100% virtual, never met, just on video, and trying to bring them up to speed without a single in-person meeting and no time in the office.

    While I was sick, we still tried to drive forward on many fronts, including better organization and more tooling to identify the cheaters. I created the ability to push code silently to Basilisk because our cheating friends watched for reboots and "tested" their exploits on each reboot. It was quite a cat-and-mouse process, code pvp if you will. Meanwhile, we started getting reports of issues with Auctions, so I started digging into ancient and chaotic code that implements the Auctions. I spent excessive time tracking cheaters in secret while also adding code to audit the auctions system.

    Then in July 2020, I hand enough data to start sharing internally with staff. This caused an incredible amount of debate on what to do, and some people leaked things we were doing to public channels. Others were certain every proposed action was the end of our project. It was a horrible time; meanwhile, I continued to write a highly complex transaction logging system called Eye of Sauron. And a subsystem for analysis (Sauron) that interfaces with our CSR tooling (C3PO).

    We announced the situation as "Clone Wars" and took action to clean up the mess left behind by our cheating community members and the people who were doing Real Money Transactions (RMT) for credits and items in-game. Honestly, this was the worst period of my life in our community. First, I received death threats against my family and me. Meanwhile, we had a big explosion with a staff member who was caught "in the middle" and somehow took it out on me explicitly and started an incredible campaign against me in all sorts of channels. Treats that to this day haunt me, I find myself searching for how people can be so mean, so negative against a bunch of volunteers trying to keep an old game alive for the love of the game and what it means to all of us.

    Meanwhile, it took me a month of writing code, looking at literally 1,000 gigabytes of data dumped from Basilisk and all the logs we had from the cheaters to identify impacted items and players. This was a high-intensity time between people who were all for it and those against it. It included more people making threats against me and others telling me I'm an idiot and don't know how the system works, on and on. Frankly, at this point, I had already written a long post as a draft about my resignation. Experiencing the complete ire of these cheaters and the people they defrauded gave me deep pause. Even now, the sting hurts just writing about it. All of us on staff give freely of our time, many of us with complex lives, some in the medical field, others impacted by COVID directly or through friends and family or at work. Meanwhile, we're trying to create a fun and fair place to play a game we all love and are attacked at every angle, for doing what we believe is right, to not moving fast enough, to wipe today, or never wipe. It's a never-ending onslaught of demotivating commentary that makes you constantly wonder why we're here.

    The team is still chipping away, attempting to get to a place we feel is fair to call 1.0 and stop. At 1.0, we should have most of the pre-CU work done, sans JTL, and who knows how many random bugs, or items people want to fight about one direction or the other "it was that way on the live servers" etc. Sometime after that point, we will have a ceremony and shoot Basilisk in the head. We have debated on keeping it as a living museum. Sadly, it's not feasible due to the compute and storage resources required and the maintenance against people attempting to hack it.

    When we meet the 1.0 milestone, we expect to re-group and see who wants to consider working together on a "1.0+" server, where we will attempt to take the game forward and inject more mystery back into it, plus new content and quality of life changes.

    In the intervening years since this original interview, we've all had to deal with harsh reality in real life (TM). Meanwhile, cleaning up the dupers, RMT'ers and multi-accounters have made our community shrink. Additionally, in recent months other games and launches of alt swg servers based on the illegal source code mashed up in various ways have shrunk the active player base on Basilisk. Some assume it's because everyone is "Waiting to wipe," while others feel we will have a massive surge of returning players when the "1.0+" server launches. Everyone is an armchair developer in our community. They all know the answers, but sadly, we'd have Hello Kitty meets Barney in a Star Wars universe if we implemented everything everyone suggested. The answers are never as single-dimensional as they first appear and get even more challenging as you think about the knock-on impacts of each change.

    At this point, we're focused on getting publish 10.5 out to Basilisk, which will cause some instability there and much gnashing of teeth in the community, I'm sure. Meanwhile, the team is chipping away at the new AI code, a massive re-write that touches many parts of the game. Once we complete that, we can start on a handful of remaining items to push us over the goal of what we consider "1.0".

    I want to be proven wrong, but I expect we will continue to see a ton of negativity from the community. Every move we make will lead to the negative vocal minority complaining about how stupid we are. I have been building a framework to monitor the game using EoS to construct a set of tools to counter these voices. These tools will allow us to use real data to see if our changes lead to positive quantitative changes in player behavior. While we will listen to the community, we must avoid over-indexing on the vocal minority that tends to be negative and spends more time in the forums complaining than in the game enjoying it. I'm hopeful quantitative tools combined with community creativity mixed with our own ideas will allow us to move to a new era for this old game we all love.

    All this said I've been deeply wounded by the experiences of the past several years in this community. Both public and private events have colored my thinking and made it difficult to stay positive. One of my most significant flaws is I care about people, and when I get the type of attacks on me that have come over the past several years, it's tough for me to continue pushing forward. These experiences make me doubt that we can drive change to grow a positive community where we all support each other in a game we all love to play together. Only time will tell if the community can evolve to stamp out the negativity and focus on the creative, cheerful, and open-minded energy needed to grow to sustainable levels to make playing the game fun again.

    I'm happy to do another interview. That said, I also encourage others on our staff to do the same. The community must realize many talented people are volunteering their free time to keep this community moving. It's not all just me; I am but a gear in the overall machine that keeps us humming along every day.
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