Jessica “Durga” Mulligan, head of OSI’s Volunteer program, took time off from commanding the Smurf Army to answer a few questions on our gimped forum about the Seer/Interest program we’ve raised. Here’s her response:

I’m shocked, SHOCKED, to discover that there’s role-playing going on here! Off with their heads!
Actually, I’m glad these issues were brought up, because we ARE doing something about them right now. Lots of issues to cover here; if I forget to address something, I’m sure it will be pointed out to me, . We agree with y’all: we aren’t doing enough of this. What you see going on with Seer and Elder recruitment is just the first step toward remedying that (more below).

There is no doubt that, in the past, there hasn’t been a lot of visible support for the Interest program. Quite a bit of this had to do with the turnover rate in people leading the program; near as I can figure, at least four people were in charge of the program at various times in the 2 years before I was bought in. It’s somewhat tough to marshal the proper resources and carry forward with a coherent plan when the person in charge is constantly, well, new.

Things are different now. Yeah, yeah, I know you’ve heard that before, many times. However, we didn’t have Tyrant or Jason Bell, the Producer of the Live Team, giving the team permission to actually work on tools and powers that would allow Seers and Elders to actually do interesting stuff, and also making the program a priority for me and Goatboy, the IGM supervisor.

One of the reasons so few people have ever taken part in a quest is that we’ve had so few Seers up to now. They are of pretty high quality, but there were only about 35 active ones when we started this reorg a couple months ago. That’s not very many to split between 130k+ players. What we want is a minimum of 1,000 events and quests per week in the game, so more players at all levels of interest and ability have a chance to participate, if they choose.

To do that, we’re recruiting 300 Elders and another 35 or so Seers in this first round of training. The Elders will primarily design and run quests and events for the beginning to intermediate player and the Seers will primarily design plot-based fiction and events for the intermediate to advanced players. The idea is to have a wide range of quests for all levels of player involvement, from short and sharp to longer, more involved quests.

As part of the process, we’re improving the powers and abilities available to them (a LOT) and, in conjunction with the current Seers and Elders, have designed a training and testing program to familiarize people with the powers… and to better familiarize us with their abilities to carry off the role. Training and testing can run anywhere from 12 to 36 hours, depending on the aptitude of the person. Not everyone selected for training will pass; we expect a 50% casualty rate. In fact, at a recent chat with the Seers, I told them I expected them to be tough, but fair, when training and testing these folks and to make sure only the best passed the testing.

As for the types of events and quests… I agree with DD, such things MUST be consenual. You can’t force anyone to be part of an event or quest against their will. By that I mean that even if you’re going to effect a large area, such as turning off the guards in Trinsic for period of time, you have to give more than adequate warning to the players so they have the choice of sticking around in an unguarded town or leaving the area to play elsewhere.

Now that doesn’t mean we couldn’t do some of the things discussed here, such as having towns taken over for a while. It DOES mean you have to have a lot of preparation and warning to players, through the fiction or otherwise, so they can make that choice to grab their pets from the local stablemasters (for example) and split.

OK, that’s enough for one morning. I’m sure there will be questions and comments (dons asbestos cloak). Fire away. Hey, maybe we can get Lum to have another round of the Dream Date with Durga contest for the best reply!