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Why VSAs and OMP don't go along... yet

Posted 06-22-2011 at 01:53 PM by Face

I think it is high time to write a bit about the topic of virtual space agencies and their implicit desire to use a multiplayer framework.

Why I think so?

Well, it is a re-occuring pattern to have some new member join O-F and get the cool and original idea to start a virtual space agency. Most of the time, this new member is rather young and seems to have high ambitions to start his career right on top of the hierarchy (it is rocket business after all, isn't it?). And off he/she goes, inventing cool and original agency positions with such labels as "Administrator of manned space-flight (AMS)", "Chief trajectory coordinator (CTC)" and perhaps a "Grandmaster of Them All (GTA)" (hm, no, maybe we should forget that last one).

Of course, at first all of these positions are taken by the new VSA's creator. Hey, they are needed in the agency, aren't they? And of course, if you ask politely, the "Chief Administrator (CA)" will gladly assign you to one. Shiny...

But as always, someone will ask the inevitable question: "Sir, where are the pilots?" Well, the high admirals are certainly not too shy to get their hands dirty. Usually, CA is the first to "fly a mission", from its glorious news-flash (perhaps in the VSA announcement thread?) to its heroic end (mostly a shuttle-launch going haywire right from pad clearance). It will be the time CA releases a VSA report with the failed mission, that he realizes he maybe needs some experienced pilots. After all, high admirals don't do stick jockey, do they?

Anyway, sooner or later in the VSA's life-time (usually the day after it came to life), the active member search starts. Labelled with an equivalent of "VSA needs YOU to join the pilot team!", a new thread pops up on O-F, soon to be bashed by the regulars, and laught-off by old-timers (or is it the other way around?).

The CA - of course stunned by the negative reponses - will feel the urge to reply with: "But this VSA will work! It is different!"
Upon doing so, one of the next posts will certainly consist more or less of "AHA. How is YOUR VSA different?", just followed by "Oh, because WE use multiplayer!"

And so befalls it that a tour of pain was started:

First, the usual "Is there multiplayer in Orbiter?" thread.

Then, mentioning of OMP.

My usual cautious reply that it works, but not for VSAs yet.

The standard "First OMP <VSA> mission tomorrow!" announcement.

The total chaotic fail due to typical NAT troubles and lack of organisation.

Even more bashing on O-F.

Again the CA - even more frustrated now - will report the fail, maybe start a second (sometimes even a third) attempt. This will of course fail, too.

Depending on the CA's character (and on how many folks already joined the VSA), the VSA will either stall now for something like 1 month or close. In the first case, it will most likely silently die or close anyway after the stall period. In the second case, chances are the CA will try to start a new one within some weeks. This will fail again, for all the same reasons.

OK... why am I so bold to prophesy this dark future for ALL VSA attempts? Here are my reasons:

  1. (Public) VSAs are mostly created by young folks with tremendous enthusiasm and close to zero experience. Expectations are very high, therefore there can only be frustration if reality hits again.
  2. The timescale is just too fast most of the time. You can't build an organisation (even a virtual one) out of nowhere in a week or two. It takes time to grow, and it takes hard work to make it even start to grow.
  3. No focus. It seems like most of the time the reason for the VSA is that there is a VSA. It's like starting a company to have a company. At least some ideas what your VSA does, what it is not doing, and how it works is necessary.
  4. Multiplayer. No, seriously, please stop using OMP for VSAs in their infancy. Don't do it. If you started your VSA yesterday, please forget about OMP, pretend you never heard about it, it is vapourware, can't work, is physically impossible, whatever makes your day. Just keep your hands off of it until the VSA is at least a year old and had something like 20 missions succeeding.
  5. Persistence. If you throw the towel after some regular O-F members bashed your announcement to death, you won't go anywhere here. Instead, learn from the feedback, go back to the drawing board and enhance your project. If it works for you and some friends, it may work for up to 10 people as well. If it worked for 10 people, go public.
Hmm... nice points, but hey... if I follow this points it will work, no? And the prophecy is broken!

No, sorry. If you are able to follow these points, you are no young hotshot anymore. You've become a serious Orbiter user. And do you see many serious Orbiter users creating VSAs and announcing them? To be honest, I only know one. And he did it more out of an experiment .

Part of this is self-fulfilling, I know. If you get bashed at level 0 for doing VSAs, you'll almost certainly refrain from doing so if you ever reach level 1. But the majority is due to VSAs being useless to frequent and passionate Orbiter users. In fact, we already have a huge VSA of sorts: the Orbiter community itself. Here we have administrators, trajectory specialists, engineers, pilots, PR agents... heck, even some kind of nitpicker committee.

That said, I think I know why there is a demand for a VSA in new members: they want to fly with their friends, they want to be part of it, they "want in". It is just... you won't get that with a VSA.

But there is hope.

Stay tuned for the next entry where I'll try to outline an alternative to VSA for "flying with friends" and "being part of it". The "want in" is ridiculous, anyway...
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  1. Old Comment
    kevin580's Avatar
    Nice information about that
    Really something to think about first...
    Posted 06-22-2011 at 02:05 PM by kevin580 kevin580 is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Scruce's Avatar
    The "closed" VSA is usually the one that works.
    Posted 06-22-2011 at 03:17 PM by Scruce Scruce is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Eli13's Avatar
    That's why I never planned on using it for my VSA.
    Posted 06-22-2011 at 03:21 PM by Eli13 Eli13 is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Face's Avatar
    Originally Posted by Eli13 View Comment
    That's why I never planned on using it for my VSA.
    You mean the one you created after giving up VOSSA?

    Well, if you think this post was an advice how to make a VSA work, you did not fully read it.
    Posted 06-22-2011 at 03:28 PM by Face Face is offline
  5. Old Comment
    Eli13's Avatar
    No, I did. I just stated thats part of the reason I never used OMP for a VSA. I don't even use for 'personal' (if you will) use.
    I also did not give up on VOSSA. There are still things in motion. Don't ask me what they are doing, I'm just labeled 'Director of manned spaceflight' for them. If you want to know ask Ericevan or Nazban.
    Posted 06-22-2011 at 03:39 PM by Eli13 Eli13 is offline
  6. Old Comment
    Face's Avatar
    Originally Posted by Eli13 View Comment
    No, I did. I just stated thats part of the reason I never used OMP for a VSA. I don't even use for 'personal' (if you will) use.
    I also did not give up on VOSSA. There are still things in motion. Don't ask me what they are doing, I'm just labeled 'Director of manned spaceflight' for them. If you want to know ask Ericevan or Nazban.
    You see, the point of the post was to reason why (public) VSAs do not work in general, not only in combination with OMP. If someone just reads the title and not the whole thing (or does not understand the whole thing), he/she will obviously not get that.

    You admit that you not only believe in one, but even two VSAs. This is a strong hint for me that you fall into the category defined by the last paragraph. Otherwise you'd at least try to argument in favour of VSAs in general, if you reply here.
    Posted 06-22-2011 at 03:52 PM by Face Face is offline
    Updated 06-22-2011 at 04:32 PM by Face (clarify)
  7. Old Comment
    fireballs619's Avatar
    That was said more eloquently than i could have ever expressed it Face - very nicely put. You basically summed up all of the points which cause VSAs to fail, and I can think of not a single case where this was true. Nice post
    Posted 06-22-2011 at 04:24 PM by fireballs619 fireballs619 is offline
  8. Old Comment
    Eli13's Avatar
    Look I never wanted to start an argument, nor do I now.
    But just to clarify, my VSA is not completely 'open'. It was open to those selected, and who accepted. We've had no problems. Missions are getting done. Goals are being met. Nothing has gone wrong.
    (This post isn't really made to start a discussion about my VSA. So please to anyone who reads this, don't post about the VSA. If you got something to say about it, put it on my VSA blog, don't fill up Face's blog about it.)
    Posted 06-22-2011 at 05:03 PM by Eli13 Eli13 is offline
  9. Old Comment
    garyw's Avatar
    There is little I can add except a +1.

    I've kept a list of VSA's and without exception every single open VSA has failed due to a lack of committment from the members.
    Posted 06-22-2011 at 07:57 PM by garyw garyw is offline
  10. Old Comment
    RisingFury's Avatar
    You sir, deserve the "Blog of the year award!" The pic from Top Gun really takes the cake :D
    Posted 06-23-2011 at 09:01 AM by RisingFury RisingFury is offline
  11. Old Comment
    hribek's Avatar
    I thought virtual space agencies are too 20th century for them to work?

    Perhaps folks should be going for virtual fun and profit instead of waiting for virtual legislators to approve their flight plan.

    Nice blog post Face, it describes the issue quite well. Hope you had fun while writing it! What more to say.

    Posted 06-23-2011 at 10:40 AM by hribek hribek is offline
  12. Old Comment
    N_Molson's Avatar
    Excellent article, seems very lucid to me.

    The only thing that could maybe change things would be a sort of economical / political background, a la "Race into Space"
    Posted 06-23-2011 at 03:48 PM by N_Molson N_Molson is offline
  13. Old Comment
    Tex's Avatar
    I agree with RisingFury, this is the best blog post of the year! That Top Gun picture...omg.. Great posting Face, thanks for writing this!

    Link saved to favs.
    Posted 06-24-2011 at 01:38 AM by Tex Tex is offline

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