December 19th, 2006 7pm FST
Everyone on Furcadia could listen in to Emerald Flame's reminiscing about the history and creation of the Beekins. Silver Sponsors got to attend the event live, and in person, through the portal in the Vinca.
Silver Sponsorships are available here through Digo Market.
The Eminiscence log
Emerald|Flame: Hi everyone, and welcome! Felorin is typing for me, we're doing this show live from Seton Hospital. Sorry if I'm a little incoherent tonight, and that I have to keep my whispers off. But we didn't want to miss doing this talk for all of you Beekins especially, because you're really important to us, and help our community a lot!
Emerald|Flame: Just to get it out of the way at the beginning, I'm getting better now, and hopefully will be out of the hospital by thursday or friday. Thanks to everyone who's sent me their best wishes! I had a kidney infection with a lot of complications that came up, and they had to do a couple of minor surgeries. Hopefully all I need now is some rest.
Emerald|Flame: The first thing I want to say is how proud I am of all the Beekins and other community members who've put so much time into Furcadia. Because Furcadia is all about the whole community working together to make it the wonderful place that it is.
Emerald|Flame: While everyone in the community can help other furres (and most do), the Beekins are given some special tools and training, to make the job easier. We've made it so anyone can help out, if that's what they want to do. They just need a little experience in the game, and the right kind of attitude of helping others.
Emerald|Flame: I think we're one of the biggest and best volunteer programs out there. Even when there was the big scare about having volunteers in online games back around 2000, when the big games (like Ultima Online and Everquest) stopped having them because of lawsuits, we kept ours because we felt it's a very important part of our community. Being a small independent game developer gives us the opportunity to do this, rather than let ourselves be run by lawyers.
Emerald|Flame: Let's start back at the beginning. Even before I came to Furcadia in late '97, Felorin and Talzhemir already had the beginnings of the volunteer program in place, and plans for much more. The first volunteers on Furcadia were called the Owsla, who are now the Beekin Guardians who we all know and love. The Guardians actually did a lot of what all Beekin groups do now, including helping furres with all kinds of questions about the game.
Emerald|Flame: They didn't even have any commands or tools other than the single boot command that Felorin had programmed in.
Emerald|Flame: There were also a very loose, unofficial group of people who would say they were welcomes, and put it in their description, and these people would be friendly and helpful to new people in the game. I think they even came before the Owsla did. Or at least before the Owsla became public, because they were a secret first.
Emerald|Flame: At that point in the game, everyone heard every new character that was created. It said "So-and-so has arrived in Furcadia for the first time." Of course that quickly became something we couldn't do any more, because there's too many people now. Also it was used for abuse, as people would make offensive names, knowing everyone in the game would see them.
Emerald|Flame: I came to Furcadia during the time period when it was very much roleplay oriented. Everyone was "in character" almost all the time. You got attacked by vampires and everything on the main maps, and nobody knew that you could just ignore them! There was only one rule in Furcadia. That was "Don't be too annoying, and don't be too easily annoyed by others." It was a pretty scary place for someone brand new to the Internet!
Emerald|Flame: So I formed my own garden dream, where it was quiet, and stayed off the main maps. I very quickly gathered a bunch of very knowledgable and helpful people around me in the dream. Then within a month we were ready to start our own help guild. And so we started The Circle, which at the time we called a neutral help guild, in the hope that all the local wars and fighting wouldn't involve us, as we wanted to be more of an "out of character" help guild.
Emerald|Flame: We built the dream Sanctuary, and placed it in a prominent place in Allegria Island, which was the only map you could upload dreams to at the time, so that furres would have a safe place to go and get help. We provided in character and out of character services both, which was a new thing in Furcadia.
Emerald|Flame: Our guild quickly became very popular, usually having anywhere from 10% to 50% of Furcadia's online population in it at any given time. Felorin noticed us, and came and asked me to become an Owsla. I became the sixth Owsla on Furcadia. Being an Owsla is one of the hardest jobs I have ever done on Furcadia, and I have the utmost respect and empathy for the people who put their time into that particular help position. (Guardians now)
Emerald|Flame: By the fall of 1998, Felorin came to me again and asked me if I would start a help program in Furcadia, and make real his dream that every single new player was welcomed by somebody in person. But things happened slowly at that time, because everybody had other jobs, because Furcadia made no money, There weren't even classic wings yet.
Emerald|Flame: I wrote him the Beekin proposal of how I thought the help program should work. I told him that I would implement it whenever he had time to do the programming for it. To begin with, the first proposal I gave him was a series of player-run help guilds that trained Beekins and made them available to help with things in an official capacity. However, he didn't want the program to have guilds that would come and go, and be confusing. So I set up the idea of Help Beekins and Welcomer Beekins that we would train.
Emerald|Flame: There's a few things that should be said here. First off, I want to give me son credit for being the one to think of calling the program the Beekin Helpers. Because they helped Beekin the Help Dragon with his job. It was pretty obvious, but he said it first. The other thing is, in the beginning the Owsla were not part of the Beekins, they were something separate. The Helpdesk Beekins were an offshot of the Helper Beekins, because Sidereal created a Helpdesk in the New Haven map, and someone had to run it!
Emerald|Flame: The proposal was approved by Felorin in 1998, but it didn't come into effect until several years later.
Emerald|Flame: I have to admit that I was getting a little impatient to start the program, and started running Sanctuary as if it was the help program. I trained people in classes in Sanctuary and let them practice there, when people came for help, in preparaion for when the real help program was running. We also found many new Owsla that way. We put in a secret meeting island for the Owsla, where they held all their meetings.
Emerald|Flame: In early 1999, Furcadia was offered a chance to participate in an exciting event, called Virtual Worldcon. Felorin asked me to make the preparations for it. As usual, I overdid it. The first thing I needed was a group of people to help me. So I gathered together the beginnings of the Beekin program, and called them the Beekin Council. They were people I knew from all over Furcadia who were good at dreamweaving, and art, and webpages, and being helpful and organized.
Emerald|Flame: And thus the first Beekins came about!
Emerald|Flame: Worldcon was quite the challenge, and our first chance to get a big group of people all working towards one event. This "red dream" that we're holding this talk in (our Celebration dream) was the main dream for Worldcon, though there were several others as well. It coincided with the update in Furcadia that gave us the first Classic Wings and item2 and all the new main maps like Vinca and Challenges and New Haven.
Emerald|Flame: Those first Beekins did such a wonderful job at getting everything working. The Worldcon event was a huge success. We had a full 300 players online at the same time!
Emerald|Flame: It wasn't until a year later that we finally got the first programming to allow us to start the Beekin Helper program as we know it today. Then you could actually type "help" in the game, and get someone to answer your questions. There were only two groups, there were the Channel and the Welcomers. The Welcomers could see all the new furres being made and welcome them and offer help and a tour. Some of the Helpers could get behind the Helpdesk and help people out there.
Emerald|Flame: In 2001, it got a bit much for me to run things, and I started adding other people to help me, We called them Associates. They actually work for Dragon's Eye Productions, rather than being part of the volunteer program. Even today, I couldn't get done all the events, web pages, and run the volunteer program without all the wonderful work they do. Everyone told me to clone myself, but I couldn't! So I found a small group of people with a lot of wonderful talents and abilities that I don't have, to help out.
Emerald|Flame: In 2002, we decided to expand the Beekin program, as there were a lot more specialty areas that people needed help with. At this point, we changed the name of the Owsla to Guardians, and made them part of the Beekin program as well. Along with them we added Scribes to help with the web pages, Masons to help with dreamweaving and DragonSpeak, Pixels to help with artwork, Bugges to help test and debug Furcadia and give tech support to furres, Teachers and Mentors to help train the Beekins.
Emerald|Flame: Our new Welcome Dream was added in 2003, to give a place for new furres to start with a small tutorial that tells them about the game, in case a Wecomer isn't able to help them.
Emerald|Flame: Our only other really big change since then has been the addition of Naia Green, which started out with the thought of being a community center. It was planned by Gar and me, as a central location for getting help. It also gives a place for each of the Beekin groups to have their own help space to help furres in person, if that's what they want to do.
Emerald|Flame: The Beekin program has always been about community members helping other community members, and even if you only have time to help for a tiny bit, or help one person, that's one person that we didn't have time to help, and that's a good thing.
Emerald|Flame: I'm fading really badly here, and need to wrap this up. But I want to say a huge thank you to every Beekin that ever helped in the program. Remember that the reason we do this is to help others. It's not for the badges, or the perceived "status". It's simply because we want to do what's right for our community, as so many of us have done for so many years. There are many that have been helping out since those early days, in the beginnings of Sanctuary. I wish I could say everybody's names, but there's been thousands of Beekins!
Emerald|Flame: I just want to say thank you all, and I love you for everything that you've done for Furcadia It's one of the best communities on the internet, and you all should be proud to be members.
Emerald|Flame: I will take 10 questions from the audience, but only because Felorin is typing for me, and then I'm going to get some rest. Hopefully I can be home from the hospital in a couple more days.
Emerald|Flame: Unzip asks if there will ever come a day when chaos and arguments in Furcadia will come to an end.
Emerald|Flame: As long as furres are always human on the inside, there will forever be arguments and disagreements. There will always be "drama" because humans inherently like drama, and will create it no matter what. Hopefully they learn from their mistakes though, and hopefully it's just the people who haven't learned that yet who are doing those things. Growing up helps a lot.
Emerald|Flame: Thinking about what you say before you say it, and cooling off before you answer a question, and assuming that people don't really mean harm, that people aren't actually aren't trying to cause trouble, can keep things calmer and more harmonious.
Emerald|Flame: Migel B asks, will there be any other beekin groups added in the next few years?
Emerald|Flame: Once of the next new ones we're going to add someday is the Events Beekins, who will help run big events like this, as well as some of the festivals, and smaller weekly events.
Emerald|Flame: Another longtime planned one have been Roleplay Beekins, who would foster roleplay in an out of character manner, by holding talks and classes, and helping roleplay groups get set up.
Emerald|Flame: Then we have the Sound and Music Beekins, which have long been a pet idea of Felorin's. He wants our community to support musicians (and creators of sound effects) as much as we already support artists, writers, and scripters.
Emerald|Flame: There's more posted about ideas for future Beekin groups on the Furcadia Forums. I think it's in the Silver Sponsors forum.
Emerald|Flame: Kage Kerrin asks, howcome you still did tonight's meeting even though you went through a series of operations?
Emerald|Flame: Because Beekins are very important to me, and they deserve their day of recognition. I feel bad enough that so many of our Tenth Anniversary festivities have not gone off as planned, because I've been sick.
Emerald|Flame: But luckily Felorin can type fast for me, and I can just sit here and talk.
Emerald|Flame: Yanks1fan asks, what happened to you, how do you feel, is a copy of this log being sent out, and thanks for doing this from the hospital and thanks Felorin for helping!
Emerald|Flame: I had complications from an infected kidney, and some other parts of me stopped working right because of it. I'm still really weak and have a fever, but I'm starting to mend now, and I'm done with the surgeries. And I have lovely flowers in my room that people from Furcadia have sent me, it was very sweet! There will be a log of this posted on our website, like all the other talks in our Celebration Week.
Emerald|Flame: And yes, Felorin is a sweetheart for typing for me, I wouldn't be able to type. He's been taking good care of me. Everyone's been taking good care of me.
Emerald|Flame: Thumpie C Tail asks about those who helped before the beginning of the Beekin program, and didn't stay around until the Beekins started. Will their names be celebrated?
Emerald|Flame: Everyone who's ever helped in Furcadia should be celebrated. I mentioned those people you're bringing up at the beginning of my talk. And there are still people to this day who help others without joining, and we are grateful to them as well. This day though, we want to especially honor those who've taken the time to go through our training and join the Beekin program. They're meant to inspire everyone else to help, not to be the only helpers. That's always been our plan.
Emerald|Flame: Emerald Fire asks if there are any other plans for the future of the Beekin program, such as new meeting places, etc.
Emerald|Flame: Not really, other than the new groups I mentioned a couple questions ago. There are some changes in Naia Green coming in the next update. As for meeting places, those are generally left up to the groups to set up and decide on for themselves.
Emerald|Flame: Vixionn asks if Beekins can switch jobs, is that ok?
Emerald|Flame: Yes, Beekins can switch jobs. Ask your group head how it's done, or look it up on our website. Part of being a Beekin is knowing how to find the answers to questions, so you can find them for other furres.
Emerald|Flame: Rendlin asks if non-Beekins that want to help people will ever be able to answer the help channel, in case there are no Beekins on?
Emerald|Flame: No. The training Help Beekins get is on how to use the channel. It isn't very hard, and anybody who wants to help out with the channel should just sign up and get that training.
Emerald|Flame: Friendly Sammy asks when the auction is rescheduled to?
Emerald|Flame: We don't know yet. We need to get everybody better and figure it out. We might end up doing it sometime after Christmas.
Emerald|Flame: Creamstep asks if there will ever be a system to safely transfer dreams completely between two people?
Emerald|Flame: That's not really about the Beekins. But I think what you want is the escrow system that Felorin mentioned in the Town Meeting. You can read what he said about it at http://www.furcadia.com/tenth/townmeeting.html - maybe thats going to be the best way to transfer dreams between people in the future.
Emerald|Flame: Sorcy asks who would run Furcadia if something were to happen to Felorin or even Talzhemir? She says she would love Furcadia to be around until she is incapable of typing to others!
Emerald|Flame: There are four partners in Dragon's Eye Productions. Felorin, Talzhemir, Emerald Flame, and sanctimonious. If anything happens to any of us, the rest will keep Furcadia going. Felorin and Talzhemir agreed when they started Furcadia they would keep it going as long as they lived, and hopefully beyond that with other people running it. And by the way, we hope that long before you're too old to type, we'll have voice chat!
Emerald|Flame: Jaredsgo asks if I can divulge what new things are going into Naia and how they might improve the Beekins' ability to help furres?
Emerald|Flame: Well, there's updates to the Help Center, that'll hopefully make it more free of clutter and easier to see people. Also there'll be ways that blue striped helpers can send people directly to other areas in the dream for more specific kinds of help, like help with dreamweaving, etc.
Emerald|Flame: Ok, this is Felorin saying goodnight on behalf of Emerald. The nurse just came in with some pain killers and took her temperature, she's down to 98.8°F! Thank you all for coming. And a special thanks to Emerald for straining to concentrate through her fuzzy-headedness for so long to give this talk for everyone.
Emerald|Flame: Tomorrow is Roleplay Day, hopefully we can have our scheduled talk by Talzhemir. Goodnight everyone!