When you start with untrained staffers, they are not billing very many hours, and they’re also taking a lot of time from people who would be billing.
You're constantly having this feeling of, "Oh God, I don't have time to help you. I have to get my work done." You have to fight that and say, "Do you know what? Helping you is more important than getting my work done." Getting work done is short-term money. Teaching someone is long-term. You have to find the balance because you have to keep the money coming in, but everyone on your team must understand that training people up is the highest priority.
It's not just a distraction slowing you down from getting your work done. It is the whole future of the company. On-Ramps to Success
We found a lot of different ways that we can have employees bill and learn as they are gaining experience.
One way is quality assurance, or QA. Having staff perform testing gets them in the mix of the whole project. They are moving through the tickets; they are testing everything. They are passing things up to the client.
Documentation is another task that we can have less experienced people tackle. We're lucky enough to have a client now that comes to us just for technical documentation, and writing technical documentation is something that a smart, logical, technical, college educated person can do without five years of development experience. In the process they are learning.
We have them make training materials. You don't have to be an expert to write automated tests. In the process, you get a lot more involved in the mix of a software project.
With all these brand new people, how do you make sure that quality remains high? I'm obsessed with quality; my worst nightmare is low quality work going out to our clients. But quality is all about process and communication. We’ve created review techniques that ensure junior staff members are safe to make mistakes. That review process provides constant feedback. People learn pretty quickly not to make the same mistake again.
Among Drupal 8’s many shiny features, the support for web accessibility standards shines particularly bright, although it is not immediately noticed by everyone. However, it’s noticed by the people with disabilities (visual or audial impairment, color blindness, difficulty controlling a mouse, etc.) who make up a large segment of web audiences.Read more
Back at Origins 2016, I got a chance to sit down and play a game of Shadow of The Demon Lord with game creator Robert J. Schwalb. I sat down to play with a few other people and after our total party kill I convinced the other players to gang up on Robert Schawlb and tag-team interview him. So, here is a mini-review of what Shadow of The Demon lord is and an interview with the creator.Overview
Shadow of the Demon Lord sits right at the center of what I’d consider an old school fantasy game. The themes and concepts are not tame, and the beautiful art in the books are full of art that other games might not take a risk on. The setting and themes convey a grim world where the world is in decline and where the twilight of the end of the world is on the horizon. This is not happy fantasy, but darker, grittier old school with massive consequences. Our party had a TPK and during every encounter the stakes were raised higher. That was somewhat refreshing, once you bought into the concept of the game. We weren’t playing out a story where we knew we would be victorious, none of us were the chosen ones, instead we were struggling to fight against the darkness for the last few years we had.Setting
The setting of Shadow of the Demon lord is a world standing on the edge of the end of the world. The Demon Lord approaches, and where his shadow touches the world darkness and chaos reign. Soon his shadow will touch everything. The world feels like a typical fantasy world with many of the similar elements, only without a sanitized approach. The monsters and beasts are all a notch more horrifying than you would see reading Bullfinch’s mythology or grimm’s fairy tales, even if the creatures are the same. The feeling definitely evokes dark sword and sorcery games, with evil magic and monstrous challenges abounding.System
The system is a fairly quick and fast system, using a d20 roll for determining general success but banes and boons to determine modifiers. A bane or a boon is a d6 added or subtracted to your roll. Having 4 banes and 3 boons cancel out and leave you with 1 bane. If you have multiple banes or boons, you take the highest rolled as a penalty or a bonus. Most challenges have to beat a 10 or a defense number in combat. That’s about it. There is an interesting turn system of Fast Turns and Slow Turns. Fast Turns go first but players only get one action. Slow Turns go after Fast Turns, but you can take more actions. There is a nifty Fast/Slow marker that is used in game and shows if it is Fast or Slow.
Magic in the system is fairly easy to understand, with spells having set descriptions and effects. Magic Casting characters have a number of uses of each spell per reset period and can trigger them as an action. Outside of that the system attempts to get out of the way as much as possible. The game aspect is one that is meant to be there when needed but distant when not required.
I quite enjoyed playing Shadow Of The Demon lord. Shadow of the Demon Lord is a beautiful mix of innovations that interpret old setting and mechanic concepts in a new way. While it doesn’t break any moulds for new and off the wall gameplay mechanics or setting descriptions, it all comes together wonderfully to create something that will scratch an itch for gamers looking for an old school approach in a new way. The art and layout are beautiful, and while the concepts are mature and there is some shock value in them, they are thought out and fit within the overarching setting. Shadow of the Demon Lord promises an old school game play that is fun, quick, and brutal, and it delivers excellently.Bonus Tag-team Interview
Paige Leitman: What is your philosophy of RPGs and how did that inform your choice of game mechanics?
Robert Schwalb: I’m a big believer in saying yes to the players. I’m very much about, really, I’m all about the GM being an advocate for the players. Because we tell these stories together as a group, and when we look back on these experiences we share together it’s a cooperative thing where we’re thinkg about, if I’m running a game and Dan’s playing and we had a really cool RP scene, we’re both involved in that. I’m not his enemey, I’m helping him tell a really cool story. That was what drove the design of Shadow of the Demon Lord, even though the game itself is really difficult, the Game Master is there as your parachute to help make sure that you make it through or have a really good time.
Paige Leitman: How did that drive the game mechanics?
Robert Schwalb: The game mechancis came from that by the freewheeling boons the Game Master can give you. Other mechanics like Fortune that the GM can give you cookies for being involved and invested in the game. It bestows narrative control to the players for that instant.
John: You made a choice to make the game have more mature themes. What pushed that choice? What gameplay experience were you looking for?
Robert Schwalb: I think there’s an appetite for dark fantasy games in the RPG scene, largely because that hole has been left by the big Warhammer Fantasy game. Dungeons and Dragons is kind of G or PG rated a lot of the time, and I think that as our hobby is greying, I’m giong after an audience who are generally adults who have a desire for adult themes to be explored in a storytelling enviroment. The RPG itself goes after that, I guess. Also I’m a big fan of Bloodborne and Diablo and those types of games. We don’t see a lot of that stuff translated onto the table, so I wanted to make sure we could emulate or create those experiences in a storytelling environment.
Steve Lewis: What were your biggest inspirations for the world themes? We each kind of envisioned different ideas for the world. For me it felt lovecraftian, that dark ominous feeling.
Paige Leitman: Yeah, for me it was the movie event horizon.
John: Yeah, a lot like sword and sorcery stuff.
Robert Schwalb: Y’know, this is a little bit more complicated. I need to unpack this a bit. When I got into D&D like a lot of the people who got into D&D, they got into it at a time when fantasy roleplaying involved a very tolkien-esque experience. My bias is a tolkien framework or when I’m thinking I’m going to color outside the lines, I’m thinking Moorecock or Lieber. I didn’t come to fantasy by way of anime or a lot of the more modern expressions of the genre.
As I’ve been gaming for 30 some odd years, I kind of realized that a lot of people who play RPGs come to it from all sorts of different directions, I felt it was stupid for the game to say no to thinks
“Why don’t we have pistols?”
Well, there’s no good reason not to, so we’re going to.
“Why can’t I play a clockwork or a robot?”
Well you can if you want to.
“Why cant I play orcs?”
Well, yeah, go for it.
It challenged me as a designer to overcome my own bias and present all those options that I think the universe wants.
Now thematically, I’m steeped in D&Dland, so my inspirations come from the appendix N fo the DMG. You’ll see Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorecock, Clark Ashton Smith, Lovecraft, Arthur Machen, and you’ll see a lot of the old guys in more the second wave of the fantasy guys like Glenn Cook. You’ll even see the new wave of fantasy writers Joe Abercrombe and Mark Lawrence and a bunch of other people. I’m a voracious reader and I draw a lot of my inspiration from what’s out there and things that turn me on and get me hot.
I wanted to make sure all those elements are represented in the world. The world does kind of have a hodgepodge higgledy piggledy thing. I wanted people to be able to construct the world and narrative that makes sense to them. If you want to get a game that has a highly developed sense of history, Forgotten Realms already exits, Greyhawk already exists. I love those worlds and games, but I’m selling you a game that you can play a campaign in 11 sessions. You don’t need to read 350 pages of source material to get into it. I think YES to all of it. Event Horizon is a favorite movie, so you’ll find some of its essence in this game, you’ll find lovecraft, you’ll find OSR stuff everywhere.
John: The mechanics have a get out of the way feeling to them. What’s the mechanic you are most proud of?
Robert Schwalb: If you look at a lot of sandboxy type RPGS there is always a meta-game you are playing when you are doing them. In 3rd edition you’re bonus hunting and you want to mitigate the randomness of the d20 roll. In 5th edition D&D you are trying to find advantage in every situation so you can eliminate disadvantage or roll two d20s. While I think advantage is great, I wanted a more nuanced approach for this, and I know that the idea of trying to fight the randomness of the d20 die is why I used boons and banes.
If I give you 3 or 4 boons, it doesn’t matter. If I give you 7 and you had 4, it doesn’t matter. Once you roll 30 boons you’re almost guarnateed rolling a 6, but the most you can get from any boon is +6 and the worst youc an get is -6 from a bane. And for me I think that allows players to be creative about what they do and allows the game master a lot of flexibility so far as responding to what is happening in the story.
Paige Leitman: Why did you choose 1d20 instead of 2d10, so you’ve got a flat distribution vs. a bellcurve?
Robert Schwalb: That is a really good question, and it was one I hung on the tree of rohan for a long time. The reason for it is that the game posits there are 3 possible outcomes for any possible action or described activity, yes no and maybe. If I used the bellcurve that would have pushed the outcome towards the middle, so to almost have that maybe you need an even chance of fail and success. I wanted to use the d20 for that particular thing. You’re doing plus and minus with boons and banes and 2 dice for the roll adds another step. D20 signals success or not just by looking at that roll.
With a click here, and a click there, it can be really easy to mess up a Drupal site, especially if you are fairly new to it. It doesn't have to be you, in the hands of your manager or client, they can end up breaking the site. Setting the correct permissions will help reduce the risk of this, but sometimes people want more permission than they really should have. And when the site owner comes to you and says - “I broke all the things!” - you immediately wonder when the last backup was. Are backups even running? How do I restore from a backup! Help!Fix all the things with one click
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The ability to restore your Drupal site with one click comes from the Backup and Migrate module. Once you have set it up, it is as easy as pie to use (read on for how to set it up).
Last week in higher education was all about technology impacting student outcomes and teaching methodology. This week, the buzz is around the almighty dollar. We’re seeing higher education become one of the focal points of the Democratic party’s 2016 U.S. Presidential election platform. We also found an interesting study that highlighted the usage of “open” textbooks and the impact they can have on student costs.
Did we mention higher education pays? Read on to learn more.
EventDispatcher provides integration with Symfony EventDispatcher component for Drupal 7.