Hello everyone, I hope you're doing well as you read this. The topic of this post as you can tell isn't going to be very happy, but it is something I feel the need to actually write a post about. Paradise has been a central part of my life for the past year. Unlike other games and communities in my past, this isn't a place where I could just put it down, shrug my shoulders, and do something else, without looking back. I play all sorts of video games, and Paradise has been the only one that's managed to keep my interest for an entire year. I've made all sorts of friends and managed to properly integrate into a community for a change. Most of the time I'll play a game and almost never talk to anyone that wasn't already in my friend group. Paradise has been a very different and very positive experience for me. I've made so many good friends and I don't think it's an exaggeration to say I've grown into a better person for having known so many good people.
So why the goodbye? Well, since there's so much making me stay, there's got to be quite a bit pulling me away. I think I'll start with the simplest things and move on from there. The most common reason that anyone can understand is burn-out. As expansive as a game SS13 is, there's always a limit to the amount of times one can play any game before wanting to do something else. It's something I've felt as early as October of last year, but at the time I had just become mentor, so getting a chance to contribute to the wonderful community that Paradise has was more than enough to keep me invested and interested. So what happened next? In early December, I was offered the chance to apply for Trial Admin. I had some reservations about this, mostly due to the fact that it's against my nature to be an enforcer of rules. If it helps you get an idea, I only have a total of 9 hours played in Security, not even enough to play the HoS, as game admin with over a thousand hours. It's really not something I enjoy, but it's a responsibility I've taken in the past before. I don't like turning down opportunity or responsibility, so despite knowing I would not enjoy the work I accepted the offer.
Let me take a moment to talk about that work. It's really hard work. It's no exaggeration that admins have to deal with a lot of frustrating, exhausting and thankless work. Moderating a server on a cramped map with over 100 people is really tough. It's really something to keep in mind when thinking about the admin team, it's not an easy job they do. Take some time to thank them for that. While you're a trial admin, you have to put in the work for two months before you can play with any of the serious perks of being a game admin. While the hard work was obviously a reason to not stick around, having the benefits of reaching game admin kept me going through January and February. Unfortunately, once I finally became a game admin, a lot of my spark of creativity had been burned out. I had no interest in making a CC or Syndicate officer. Event ideas that once bounced in my head all the time were suddenly missing. The only real idea left was to mess with people in small ways, like playing silly sounds, spin people around, swap out the models for mobs, and with a small peak of sending a Space Pirate to roleplay with and attack a mechanic and his few buddies on the white ship. However, after only about two weeks of being Game Admin, it finally all fell through for me. One of the closest friends I had made playing on Paradise had left not shortly before, and his reasons are his own, but it compounded yet another reason for me.
It was at least time for a break. I've taken some before, but usually I'd come back, after at most two or three weeks. I figured out by mid-April I wasn't coming back at all. Burnout is one thing, but another piece of common knowledge is that every server has it's own set of problems, and Paradise is no different. There's a lot of problems big and small that I could talk about, but there's a very specific one I want to mention. I spent most of my time here as a player, with a player's perspective on things. One of the issues that always weighed down in the back of my mind, has been the rules. Both how they're enforced, and why they're enforced. There were quite a few bans and rulings that took place before my time on the staff but during my time as a player, that I had serious disagreements with and questions as to how and why they happened. The rules as they exist are very vague and ill-defined, mostly by necessity. There's a *lot* that can happen in SS13, it's an huge task to try and be specific with what is and isn't allowed in given scenarios. Ideally in this case you'd want to know the *reason* a rule exists. If you know the reason a rule or set of rules exists, it's much easier to follow along with, and the rules hardly cross your mind. A lot of the time I spent as a player in relation to the rules was that of "walking on eggshells." Some bans would go in place that seemed way too harsh or that seemed to be made arbitrarily. The results of these bans had made the game feel a lot more uncomfortable, and unwelcoming. Overall though, I never knew how things went admin-side. There was no way to know, it was all hidden.
I like being optimistic and giving people the benefit of the doubt, so as a player, I always assumed most of these bans were placed with good reasons, and there was simply something I wasn't seeing as I wasn't an admin. Well fast-forward several months and I believe a lot of my doubts I had as a player hold weight as an admin. With a lot of rules, bans, and bwoinks there's not much of a consistent goal or reason behind them. It's up to each admin to decide a reason as why a rule should be enforced. This creates inconsistencies, both big and small. The inconsistencies result in the "walking on eggshells" feeling, or in the words of another player this very month, "im always paranoid im doing something wrong." With individual admins enforcing rules for the reasons they're left to discover for themselves, you wind up with what feels like different rules for different admins. Worst still, it opens up the possibility for admins hunting for potential rule breaks, and banning specific people for personal reasons, which I suspect has happened, though I have no hard proof. Often times dis-agreements among the staff are discussed through, and if a agreement can't be met, a head-admin will make a final ruling both are expected to abide by. Part of the problem is the lack of real list of intents or precedents set for these rules. We only very recently got the Expanded Rules, which you can find on the wiki.
The expanded rules were the best thing I've seen in months. It's intended to be a clear cut place where precedents and the intent of each rule exist, and its open for anyone to read and understand. The problem is it's a very weak document. When it was created there wasn't an expectation that we enforce the intent of the rules, and many of the intents within are just as vague and generalized as the main line of rules. Admins are still able to enforce the rules for reasons they see fit, and there's no consequence for failing to enforce, or enforcing for the wrong reasons. I understand that it's described as a living document, but having little impact as it is, I do not have a lot of hope for it having a serious impact in the future unless it's enforced seriously from the head admins. And maybe if this was the only problem, I might be sticking around. As I said, every server has their own problems big and small. A lot of other problems push me away, but this is the one I see as the biggest threat to Paradise's future, and the one I want to call attention to.
As for myself, I could have done a lot more. I could have tried to better communicate this problem to the heads. I could have tried to be more consistent myself, and make an effort to call out inconsistencies. I could have tried harder, pushed harder. Honestly, I was too afraid to rock the boat, too afraid to make enemies, and too afraid to look like an idiot for claiming a problem exists that others might not see. As of now, I don't have the energy or the will to fight for it. I still have a lot more to grow as a person. This is an effort to be more authentic regardless of the consequences. The best thing I can do as I go is not leave silently, but call out a problem at risk of making enemies, of making a fool of myself, and of burning whatever sort of bridge might remain with the staff after stepping down.
I apologize for leaving on such a sour note, but the nature of goodbyes aren't exactly happy things. I wanted to get a commission to celebrate my time here. I've been gifted numerous good memories from the people here, and I'll treasure them. It also doesn't have to be a final goodbye, my DMs on Discord are always open, and I've already reached out to some of you to remain in contact with. There's a lot of you to remember, so please reach out to me if you'd like to keep in touch! Until then I hope you all stay happy and healthy.
See you later, Spaceman!