Tuesday, December 1, 2009

To WoW Programming: I’m Sorry

This is an open letter to my ex-colleagues from WoW Programming, and will also give the addon community some insights into my “retirement.”

Hi everyone,

I owe all of you an apology, however belated it may be. I’m very sorry for all the added headaches, missed deadlines, and other ramifications of my departure. While no explanation would be fully satisfying, you all deserve at least some insight into where I was coming from. I don’t expect you to excuse my actions, but at the very least your frustration will be directed at my actual motivations rather than whatever impressions I left at the time.

In hindsight, I began burning out on WoW even before work began on the second edition. I wasn’t writing any new addons. I was only supporting my old addons enough to keep them running in new patches. I quit my position as forum MVP last December. I was tired of dealing with users, tired of feeling like what used to be my passion was now a chore. Again, this is all in hindsight; I don’t remember being conscious of this for the most part.

Given that last bit, I was totally gung ho about working on the book. I am very proud of what we accomplished in the first edition, and was deeply grateful to be a part of it. I had swarms of ideas rolling around in my head for my chapters. Then, for whatever reason, I procrastinated. Whether it was subconscious pressures from the difficulties I was having or plain irresponsibility I can’t say (nor would it really matter in the long run).

Of course, I spent plenty of time rationalizing to myself. “The best work I did on the last book was when I crammed for two weeks of near sleepless nights.” “I scheduled my submission dates toward the front end anyway, so I’ll have time to catch up.” “My wife just got laid off,” “The house needs work,” “My day job just became über busy and stressful.” All true, but certainly no genuine excuses among them.

So the beat went on, until March 18 when the reality of the situation began to sink in and I suggested we pull in some help for my part of the API docs. I also started experiencing some of the hindsight I mentioned above. To reduce my stress, I officially retired from addon development by releasing all my addons to the public domain.

Two days later the feces impacted the rotary air distribution device for me when Blizzard released their new addon policy. This was an extremely emotional time for me, for reasons I can’t discuss. Suffice it to say it goes far beyond my visible reaction on the forums and has little to do with my “legal theories” on the matter. Such is life that I’ll never be able to express my true feelings on the matter.

After the fallout from the policy announcement (culminating in Blizzard wiping every post I’ve ever made from the forums, a great loss to them no doubt) I entered a period of deep conflict. On the one hand, I felt profoundly betrayed by and wholly disillusioned with Blizzard and WoW. On the other hand I highly valued my commitment to WoW Programming. How did I deal with this? Denial.

For the first two weeks of April, I ignored everything going on in the wow community and focused all my energy on my chapters. At first, I even felt like I made it to the same “zone” I was in during my first edition cramming. I churned out three chapters in a week and was well on my way to the rest of them.

But then something clicked. Suddenly I became acutely aware of those troubles I mentioned in hindsight. From that point on, I could barely force myself to sit in front of the computer at all, let alone make any progress on my chapters. I started withdrawing from the community, I started procrastinating at work, I even started closing myself off to my wife. Eventually I realized I was sinking into a depression, something that has never characterized me (except maybe after 9/11). This is when I made the decision to quit.

I had to do it for my sanity. I had to do it for my love. I had to do it for my job. But it didn’t have to be. Much of this could have been prevented had I met my original deadlines. Perhaps I still would have gone through the same troubles, but it would’ve been at a stage in the project when the rest of you would have been better able to deal with it. For that, and everything else I’ve mentioned, you have my deepest apologies.


Matthew Orlando

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