Episode 14: Time to jump ship?

Episode 14: Time to jump ship?

This is an episode from Storyteller Tactics' Kickstarter campaign, written using Story Hooks and The Dragon & The City


👉 See previous episodes.

👉 See the tactic cards released so far

Time to jump ship?

Niamh is in charge of the development team at UpYourStreet, a long-established property sales platform. Except she’s not - not in charge, that is. She’s waiting for Derek.

Derek has been working on the mainframe all week, barely saying a word. He’s a COBOL coder: fluent in an ancient, almost lost language. He dresses like a 1980s Polytechnic lecturer. But when something needs fixing in COBOL, Derek can name his price.

Niamh urgently needs to make one small change to their membership records. But she’s still not sure where to start. She’s waiting for Derek to emerge from his silent communion with the mainframe.

It’s the most frustrating part of Niamh’s job. She watches an arms race of app developers, mobile manufacturers and ever-curious users transforming the digital world. But every new idea she has gets forced through the bottleneck of Derek. 

“I know, legacy systems, what are you going to do?” Niamh asks herself. So she builds layers of Javascript on a foundation of COBOL. It’s like building a modern tower block on Roman foundations, working round the Victorian plumbing and the 1970s wiring. 

Niamh’s best friend has just pinged a Reddit story to her. There’s a new property company building a React team. MiCasa is promising intuitive search, AI assistant with voice interface and blockchain verified sales documents. Cheaper and smarter for the customer, truly disruptive for the industry. And a mortal threat to UpYourStreet.

“Time to jump ship?” Niamh wonders. “Is there really a future in waiting for Derek?”


This week’s Storyteller Tactics

Story Hooks

What’s a great way to start a story? Ask a question! When I ask a question, you try to answer it (you just can’t help it). You will then stick around to hear if my answer matches yours. If it does, you feel clever. If it doesn’t, you’ve learned something new. It’s a win-win. So, "is it time to jump ship?" You'll just have to read more to find out.

Irony makes another great hook. Irony is the difference between how things are and how they ought to be. Niamh is in charge, but she isn’t. Code is meant to be modern, but COBOL is ancient. Irony acts like a stretched elastic band: we just know something’s gotta give.

See the Story Hooks tactic

The Dragon and the City

You can imagine any project like the myth of an old city threatened by an approaching dragon. In this case, UpYourStreet’s legacy system is the old city. It’s far from perfect, but at least it works. MiCasa is the dragon, threatening to tear down the city walls.

Niamh is the hero with three choices: flee the city, strengthen the walls or ride out and attack the dragon. Niamh is thinking of fleeing the city. Next week, we’ll find out how she copes.

See the The Dragon and the City tactic

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