If you’ve done any serious raiding in WoW over the last decade or so, you’ve almost certainly heard of Deadly Boss Mods—a suite of tools that helps keep track of and reminds players about complex boss abilities, considered essential by many top PvE guilds. It’s been in development for more than 10 by a one-man team: Adam, a coder who works on the mods full-time from home while caring for his 70-year-old widowed mother.
Because modding and playing WoW took up his entire day, Adam had to make a hard choice: “For health and stress reasons, as well as just having a plain crappy PC, I will be stepping down from the Mythic raiding scene in WoW. I have been raiding in WoW since Burning Crusade and [have] been making mods for DBM since Wrath (almost entirely by myself mind you),” he wrote on the DBM forums.
It was an unsustainable situation, and last week Adam finally opened up to his fans about the struggles he was facing. In response, the Warcraft community, Blizzard, and even MSI rallied together to help.
“I don't just work on DBM full time. It's all I do, period. I have no life, no friends, no time to really do anything else at all. It's not just coding mods here or getting to play the game for money. It's not as peaches as it sounds. It's committing to every PTR/beta even when I have a raid character to maintain on live and raids to go to later that night. It's grinding dungeons, artifact power, world quests, gathering mats, leveling blacksmithing so I can craft even more raid gear, etc. Many hours, EVERY DAY. If there is no PTR/beta, there is always something to catch up on or do.”
For a while after 2012, Adam was partnered with the now-defunct info haven Elitist Jerks, once the premiere destination for high-level WoW players looking to up their game. This alliance allowed him to make a living on ad revenue, but after Elitist Jerks declined and eventually shut down, he turned to Patreon to make up the difference. As of September 15, he had around 500 patrons, which wasn’t nearly enough to cover all of his expenses.
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In addition, Adam is responsible for day-to-day care for his mother who had “two heart attack scares” in the past couple years, including all of the errands for the household. Getting a proper job to make ends meet would mean leaving her alone, which Adam said he is scared to do. He is also in need of urgent dental surgery himself for a severe tooth infection, but didn't have the money. On top of everything else, his aging PC was having a hard time even keeping up with modern WoW, threatening what meager livelihood he was making. When the forum post was published, he said he was bringing in about $1300 to $1450 a month. Assuming a standard, full-time work week of 40 hours, that translates to roughly $9 an hour in a good month. To put that in perspective, MIT estimated that a living wage for an average family with two working adults and two children was about $15.25 an hour.
After the post was published, it quickly spread to the World of Warcraft subreddit and other communities. When players heard Adam's story, they rallied to donate through Patreon. In less than two weeks, Adam’s Patreon backer count has increased by almost 600 percent to nearly 3500. He has passed all of his funding goals, including a milestone he says will allow him to hire an extra developer to help out with the mods and jokingly stuff his mattress "full of 100 dollar bills."
“With this [milestone], I honestly don't need to worry about anything anymore. I can support even big ideas that I have in mind, or a second full-time dev as needed in early content cycles when amount of work is overwhelming,” Adam wrote. “DBM finally has the support for me to finally get additional help and resources to finally beat the logistics boss. As well as [the] ability for myself and mother to finally be worry free about the burdens and strains we've been under for a while now, and without me needing to risk leaving her unattended hours a day to do other work.”
Blizzard also took notice and partnered with MSI to furnish Adam with a new, top-of-the-line rig. “MSI and we wanted to thank you for all the hard work you’ve put into Deadly Boss Mods over the years, as well as for your passion for helping raiders learn boss fights and mechanics in the WoW community in general,” read a note from The Warcraft Team. “You’ve lowered the barrier [to entry] for some of the most difficult fights for new players and we love your passion for it.”
Adam is now able to schedule the surgery he needs and support himself and his mother comfortably, counting him among the lucky few PC modders who can make a living entirely through community donations. "The support of community has been overwhelming," Adam wrote. "I honestly expected support to go down after my status post, not up."