The Origin of Motivation

Trying to lead a team of modders is complex business. There are a lot of choices to make. Many of them have to do with the motivation of the team.

In order to understand this we need to answer a few questions:

1. Why do people join mod teams?

Motivation in good modders always comes from within. They want to be there. They enjoy making maps or models. They want to be part of something and say, “I helped make that, and now 100 people play my map every second of every day”.

Modders like to feel like they have control over themselves. That what they are creating is theirs, and that they are self-determining.

Modders do not like to be told specifically what to do. But this begs a question.

2. If we’re not going to assign things, how do we keep anything organized? How do we make sure we don’t have huge work duplication, or a bunch of maps that are totally different in style and theme?

There are a variety of methods to solve the disorganization problem created by an eschewing of specific assignment by mod leaders.

The most important one is the general guideline document. Each aspect of the mod should have a general document written for it that helps to give guidelines to people working on that aspect of the mod without specifically telling them to do anything. A good guideline document is complete, interesting, well-written.

Another good thing to do is to emphasize upward communication by all members of the team. Upwards communication is when all members of the team make sure that others know what they’re doing. This should be encouraged. It has a variety of beneficial effects:

1. Modders feel more like they’re participating on an equal level (and they are, that’s the whole point).
2. It easily eliminates cases of duplicate work being produced.

A system that helps keep the whole mod team organized and motivated is to make sure that everyone knows what everyone else is doing all of the time. A system can be created to spread this information, or modders can simply be used to make extensive use of the forums. The bonuses to making sure that everyone knows everything are significant and go beyond simple avoidance of duplication. It also allows people to critique each other’s work, which is very important, and in the case that someone is doing something inappropriate or producing a duplication, they can be quickly informed of the fact.

One may wonder at this point, however, what if my modders start slacking? Well, it’s simple, really. If someone becomes inactive, they’re obviously not self-motivated, and they do not belong on the team. Giving out instructions all the time may keep these people working a little longer, but it will always be a hassle and work produced by externally motivated individuals is inferior in quality to true labors of love.

In the case that something specific is needed by the mod, it is a simple matter for an organizer to simply contact the appropriate modeler/mapper/etc and ask them to do what’s needed. However, giving specific instructions on a regular basis is undesirable and totally unnecessary.

What I’m getting at here is a democratic system. A successful mod team is composed of talented, self-motivated individuals who really want to be there.