Sit right back and you’ll hear a tale. A tale of a…stream of consciousness.
For a while now I have been contemplating leaving or at maybe downgrading my membership in my Star Citizen corporation. I have to say, they are an amazing bunch of people, which is why this has been a very difficult decision to contemplate. I have mentioned many times that I find it difficult to find a place in other people’s groups, and I joined this crew when they were relatively small — something like 200 people, maybe? Their leadership was top-notch: very friendly, always engaging with members, and up to date on the game itself. I really, really liked hanging out with these folks, although I admit that I wasn’t as vocal as I had wanted to be. Still, because the game is still in alpha, there’s a kind of understanding in the group that folks will join up and sit out for the time being, or will move at their own pace, and everyone seems to be cool with that.
The problem is that they run off UTC time, and the bulk of their active users are on the upside of the clock. Their primetime is when I’m just leaving work, so a lot of the events that have been scheduled have been impossible for me to attend. Meanwhile, more and more people have been flooding into the Discord. At last glance, we have about 600 people split between leadership, members (those who opt to mark this corp as their ‘main’ or only), and affiliates (those who also belong to other, legal corporations). The noise in the room is ramping up, and that’s triggering my sense of being lost in a crowd again. Friends are forming, and people are coalescing into groups who are doing things together, and that’s the kind of construct that I have always found difficult to penetrate.
I have been entertaining the idea of starting my own corporation, which is about as far in the other direction as I could possibly go. It would be easier to shop around for another, established home, but I don’t know that I’d be able to find any group as friendly as my current corp, and the idea of just trading one “someone else’s group” for another doesn’t make much sense to me. On the other hand, a corporation in Star Citizen is like a corp in EVE Online. It’s a major commitment in time and vigilance. As much as I’d like for the “EVE-ness” to not seep into Star Citizen — the backstabbing and subterfuge and all that which makes for great reading but shitty experience — I cannot discount it. Rising to the level of ruthlessness that would be required to cut that kind of situation off before it grows is something I know I could do, but I also know is something I’d rather not have to do.
Regardless, I started to think about what would be needed to start a process of my own corporation. I would conscript Mindstrike and Enforzer at gunpoint, although I don’t think either of them is as gung-ho about this game as I am (I have got to be pushing concierge level two at this point). Then I’d have to go and find other like-minded people who aren’t currently affiliated with a group. I’d have to plan events and things to keep them interested. I’d have to offer them stuff to stick around and not bail. Getting “the right people” could help alleviate that; some people could be elevated to help out, assuming they could be trusted. See? Already in EVE mode.
To make this long story longer, I’ve started back on building a Discord bot to support this fantasy. My original bot, Watching Wombat, was intended for our live streaming discord, but the goals for that server never really materialized and such a bot really isn’t needed. My current corporation has a custom bot that does a lot of things, and I’ve been taking cues from there. Currently, a user can ask my bot to pull information on ships currently available in Star Citizen, and it will display some relevant information in a rich embed.
This is a nice QoL feature to have for a Star Citizen server, although the real goal would be to use Discord and the third-party API to manage users and events between the Discord server and a website, which currently does not exist.
That brings me to another brick in this wall: repl.it. I didn’t even know there was a term like REPL: read-eval-print loop. This describes every application ever, really, as all of them take some input, do something with it, and return a result. But a REPL environment is much more simplistic and is a termp usually applied to simple applications like, say, a calculator.
repl.it is an online coding IDE that focuses primarily on Python (judging by the examples on the site and all), but which supports all kinds of other languages and platforms. I found it through a random article on coding a Discord bot because repl.it not only provides an IDE you can use through your web browser, but they will even host applications for you. I had been wondering exactly where I’d host a Discord bot (written in ES6 and using Node), and repl.it will do it for free (although their “pro” level subscription is a mere $7/month). I can code the bot there, and then host it without having to worry about setting up a new environment. They even offer integration with GitHub for source control.
So this is where I am now with all of this: coding a Star Citizen Discord bot for an idea that may or may not happen. I suppose in the end I could release the source of the bot for those who do run a corporation, and maybe then I’ll have something to be content with.