Developer Archetypes

It’s been a long time since I wrote up a post. But today I finally have some significant downtime to sneak a blog update in.

Today I want to introduce you to your MMO development team through the use of common developer archetypes. Any development team consists of a group of individuals that are, in most cases, very stereotypical examples of some very profound types of developers. I’m going to give you a list of these types of developers.

The Slacker

No one is certain why this person still works for the company or how they got a job here in the first place. They don’t really do any substantial work and none of the management particularly likes them very much. How they manage to stay consistently employed is a mystery to everyone.

The Social Engineer

Much like the Slacker, the Social Engineer doesn’t really do that much work, if any. However, everyone knows exactly why they still have employment and it is because they spend the majority of their day kissing the right asses at the right times. This developer can be found more often at the heels of the management rather than actually at his desk. In fact, he probably doesn’t even realize he has one.

The Delegator

This is another developer who does very minimal work, but you would never know it. The Delegator’s work is always finished, most of the time even finished early. Why? Because he’s delegated it out to everyone else on the team. Of course, when it’s finished he is going to take credit for it. And, typically, he is high enough on the totem pole that there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

The 9-to-5er

The most underrated and unliked person on the team. He is constantly reprimanded for “not being dedicated enough” or “not having passion”. Yet this developer is almost never late and almost never leaves early. They also contribute roughly 50% of the entire team’s work, single-handedly. Despite his standing with the team and management, the 9-to-5er is one of the only people who actually does meaningful work. The team would be completely lost without them.

The Rock Star

This developer spends the majority of the day on the forums. They take every opportunity to chat with the community, pose for pictures, or even sign autographs. All done for the feeling of being a Rock Star. Of course, being a Rock Star is a lot of work, therefore, they can’t really do their actual job, you know, developing video games, which is more of an annoyance to them than anything else.

The Fixer

This guy looks for everything and anything that he deems broken in the game, regardless of what anyone else thinks about it. And then he will fix it. And by fix it, I mean change it, because his fixes don’t actually ever fix anything. This developer is constantly working though, but only because all of his fixes from last month have caused more problems so he must make new fixes for them. He has the most job security of anyone on the team, mainly because he creates his own work. Granted, none of his work is actually meaningful and contributes nothing of value to the game. It is just justification for the Fixer to exist.

The Wanna-Be Novelist

This developer will attempt, at every turn, to cram a book into every quest line because they not-so-secretly want to be a novelist some day. They think they are the best writer on the team, even though, realistically, they are probably one of the worst. Their stories read like poorly written fan-fiction and no one has the guts to tell them that. A small minority of gamers will clamour that this developer’s stories are “so great and original” and those gamers are delusional. Oddly enough, despite trying to write as much possible dialogue and back story for everything they do, the Wanna-Be Novelist won’t document anything. This is dual purpose. It creates job security for them because no one knows what the hell they are doing and it forces other developers to come to them with questions – which allows the Wanna-Be Novelist to recite their entire story verbatim to an audience, which is what they want to do anyway.

The Lore Master

This developer sacrifices everything for the sake of “the lore”. He will design the most god-awful mechanic in the game and defend it by saying it follows the lore. He will also rip apart other developers quest ideas because they don’t “follow the lore”. When you ask him about the lore, however, he’ll pause for a long time and then make something up because he doesn’t actually know what he’s talking about. He is also the developer who is most likely to directly contradict the lore.

The Script Guru

This is the only developer on the team with a background in programming making him, by default, the Script Guru. He’s the only one on the team that truly knows how to write good scripts. Others may be able to do the job, but their scripts look like toddler’s finger-painting by comparison. This developer is always busy, but not doing his own work. No, instead he will be writing the scripts for every other developer on the team who shows him any attention whatsoever, especially if they are female. The Script Guru is easily manipulated like that.

The Martyr

“Taking one for the team” is this developer’s motto. They will do anything and everything they are told to do without question and without expecting a reward of any kind, regardless of what the request is. They are the bane of the 9-to-5er, because they are the exact opposite in demeanor. While the 9-to-5er wants to go home at a normal hour, the Martyr is not only willing but expects to work into the wee hours of the morning every single day. They are typically the most sickly looking developer due to their lack of doing anything but work and are probably one of the least paid, though they probably don’t know it. Despite being at odds with the 9-to-5er with supposed work ethic, they have been known to get along with them on a professional level because these two are the only ones actually contributing in a meaningful way to the game’s development.

Update: It was brought to my attention that I missed a very important archetype.

The Idea Guy

In literally every meeting, regardless of its intent and regardless of where in the development cycle the team is, this developer will begin a sentence with “You know what would be cool . . .” followed by some brand new mechanic idea. By himself, the Idea Guy isn’t much of a threat, if he’s properly ignored. However, most other developers and management are afraid of ignoring a possibly game-making-or-breaking idea. So, unfortunately, they’ll humor him. For those of you not familiar with the term, this is commonly how Feature Creep starts – the Idea Guy. It should be noted that the Idea Guy never stops having ideas. So even when you agree to implement a new mechanic that he pitched last design meeting, the Idea Guy just keeps having both brand new ideas and new ideas on how to change his previous idea. “You know what would be cool? Instead of doing what I pitched last meeting, we do something slightly similar, but that takes an extra 3 months to do and the players won’t notice the difference.” I translated, but that’s what he’s really saying every time he speaks.

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I was a 9-to-5er until I got demoralized about the whole industry. Then I became a slacker. Then I left.

  2. Someone needs inspirational celebrity quotes!

    “You are not a special and unique snowflake! You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else!” –Tyler Durden

    “Oh you hate your job? There’s a support group for that! It’s called EVERYBODY and we meet at the bar!” –Drew Carey

    😀 Hang in there, Tiger!

    (srsly tho it’s not-funny because it’s true. /dap from a fellow sometimes-working stiff)

    • I prefer de-motivational quotes.

      “The secret to success is knowing who to blame for your failures.”

      “The best solution to morale problems is just to fire all the unhappy people.”

      “Meetings: Because none of us is as dumb as all of us.”

      “The race for quality has no finish line – so technically, it’s more like a death march.”

      “Your role may be thankless, but if you’re willing to give it your all, you just may bring success to those who outlast you.”

      “Just because you’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean it isn’t incredibly stupid.”

      “Retirement: Because you’ve given so much of yourself to the company that you don’t have anything left that we can use.”

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