The Maze – Nobody Remembers The Maze…
I tell you folks. It’s harder than it looks. It’s a long way to the top, if you wanna be king of Bullshit Mountain. Gamasutra popped a video from the GDC Vault where Starr Long was speaking about crowdfunding. Yes, it is tricky business Starr and that is why I already gave you this:
Yeah, put that right back on cos you goin for a ride on a broken road baby. I’m not going to get too personal and attack everything Starr has said, though it might be possible right at the start. Example, Ultima Online isn’t the first MMOG. Does anyone remember The Maze? Sure, maybe it was the first MMORPG because Lord British happened to create the term as UO was released, but yeah sure not the first MMOG. You need ARPANET for that bro and I can lawyer you on that.
Starr got to talking about an Ecosystem in which a self sustaining entity would rise from contributions between Developers and Contributes. That is important, this is one of the large reasons I put money on the Kickstarter for Shroud of the Avatar was this promise of a relationship where things would be exposed to and driven by the community. Nothing would have made me happier than to take place and be a large part in some way of building the next Ultima. It just isn’t happening and I’m not the only one who knows this not to mention not being alone in letting others know about it for a while now too.
05:55 in the video Starr begins to talk points about this Ecosystem in crowdfunding. Right off the start on this topic I can quote him directly as saying:
05:55 “So the first one that we believe pretty strongly that’s key to any of these kinds of projects and if your attempting to build a loop is transparency, and you know a lot of people are using the term now open development. That starts with some pretty simple things like having a public and private forum, having an IRC that people can talk about the game, but we also do things like on our project we post our daily stand-up notes to our forums.”
That is sounding great. Transparency, I love it. Getting access to what the Devs are doing on a daily basis and understanding the process is even better! As Starr says, those are some pretty simple things. But the only thing they have managed to actually accomplish, after months of waiting even at the beginning of the project, is simply to have a public and private forum. So if so simple, why then is Portalarium not meeting these items in their crowdfunding Ecosystem? When it comes to Portalarium four words can sum up their entire effort: Concept Good. Delivery Bad.
Starr then continues along those lines of the scrums with some even greater faux pas, and listen it isn’t like I can sit in his chair and do any better and I hate splitting hairs like this. I’m not saying I can or ever could, but what I can see with my own eyes and report from my own experience on this project is simply that what he is saying has not actually happened yet. Well they split hairs, so I think then I can do a little bit of that as well.
06:43 “…each person goes around the room, says what they are working on. What they worked on yesterday, what they are working on today, and if they’re blocked. We post those notes directly to our forums so each day the people who’re backing the project can look on the forums, they can see where every dollar is going, every person on the team, what they are working on.”
No. Just no. Not once have I or anyone else in the Dev+ private forum actually seen where a single dollar has been spent and or allocated to the game. In fact, there are many many questions we all have on how money is actually being spent in Shroud of the Avatar. We can’t get answers though because when we quietly ask them they are ignored. When we verbosely ask them, our posts are removed. When we yell for them, we are banned. Fuck the Transparency Starr mentions in his Ecosystem, it doesn’t exist and the community might as well be talking in a vacuum for all the information we get out of Portalarium. Hold on, we’re not done yet.
07:38 “We also have a weekly Q&A with our backers so they’re able to submit questions to the forums, they’re collated, we pick a Top 5, we answer those five questions, those get posted to the forums as well. Sometimes if that information impacts something we didn’t document before we’ll in turn update the FAQ to reflect the answering of some of those questions. “
I had to roll my eyes at this too, we’ve been here before time and time again. There is no longer any Q&A with the Shroud of the Avatar Developers, it was put on the back burner a while back. I believe the main reason that this was done, believe it or not, is because it came from the community and wasn’t something they really wanted to get behind. Every week questions were posted into the forum thread, for that week, which were then collated by Mitch and basically spoon fed to the Developers. Folks, they couldn’t even manage to address them! Then when a heated discussion about the Q&A/FAQ came up, they leapt at their chance to can the entire thing. That seemed perfect for Starr’s ecosystem, the community did a weeks worth of posting and discussion on the biggest questions we had and like I said the top questions were then spoon fed to the Devs. It didn’t work though, the writing was on the wall that it wasn’t going to, and as the link above shows they shut it down as ineloquently as everything else they have where the community is involved.
About that FAQ that Starr mentioned? Documentation he sad? Where’s that? Oh in the FAQ? You mean the one that enderandrew wrote for you(google Shroud of the Avatar FAQ and open the first two links kids, one in the same)? Yes, the FAQ has been produced by ‘the community’ too though a great deal of trials and tribulation with one member, enderandrew who like many others was run out of the forum by the unprofessional moderator staff on the Shroud of the Avatar forum. Wow, there is a lot of back-history here where I have to link stuff huh? Check the post dates, as said, nothing new.
09:05 “There is a pledge tier called Developer, and that’s at the $450 pledge level. Anyone at that level or above, cos we have people who give us more money than that, I’m humbled always, but at that level we provide you assets. We try to provide a regular delivery of that somewhere in the 30 to 60 day range, you get game assets we’re using in the game, so that can be a dungeon set, that can be decorative items, that can be flora that can be fauna, it can be creatures it can be wear-ables, weapons, basically anything and everything that we’ve built for the game we provide to the people who backed us at that level.”
There it is. The flag has been firmly planted atop bullshit mountain! These assets are posted on Dev+ forum, that is what it means: Developer pledge level Plus higher pledge level forum. They are not posted every 30 days, not every 60 days. not even every 120 days, and I am not even going to waste another 30 mins of my time tracking down when the last fucking asset release was because it isn’t worth it. I’ve already spent hours on this post and I’m 9mins through an hour long fucking video!
Look. Watch the video. It is interesting all be it at the point it was recorded, before it was recorded, and to this date it is really bullshit so take every single word with a grain of salt. Their Ecosystem is broken, we might as well all be choking on carbon monoxide right now in a runaway greenhouse effect. I want to believe something like this can work, I want to believe that it will still work for Shroud of the Avatar and that this project just doesn’t turn into a hole in the ground with a bunch of RP house decorating guys pretending to be girls douche bags marrying each other.
One last quote from Starr which comes from the SotA forum this time. The post in question was created by Myrcello, and I have to hand it both to Myrcello and Smack for trolling all this news up from the internet, placing it in a burning paper bag and dropping it into the SotA forum. Thanks to a most virtuous Whistle Blower, I have some of the history in this thread to post because what is left over there now there certainly does not reflect how the community feels about the majority of the comments. When in doubt, lock the thread, clean it up, and post:
“I just want to let everyone know that we are fully aware that we can do better at this and we are trying to (even when it may look like we are not). Some things (like the weekly Q&A) have fallen by the wayside since I first gave this talk many months ago while others have lain fallow even longer than that. I understand also how the omission of that information can be frustrating to many of you who are passionate about crowd sourcing. It was never my intention in this talk to mislead anyone about our state but I did choose to focus on the positives of the experience versus the challenges.
With that said I think when I give this talk again I will give more time to places where we can do better and where it has not worked as we had hoped.”
– Starr Long
Starr, that seems and actually feels even to me like a legitimate statement. What sours that is when you suppress those frfrustratedoices, delete their posts, correct the attitude with your comments, and then finish by banning the user(s) who posted the concerns. Come on man. You are far from unreasonable, shit you let me back in the forum after a wrongful termination once even though it led to a second and equally wrongful termination, but what gives? Where is the bloody Transparency in this Ecosystem you have been speaking about? If you want to really improve things, simply stop trying to cover up and apologize for these laggy processes, stop banning users for asking questions and speaking the truth. Start telling us what steps you are taking to correct the process, show us results and I think you’ll find that real Transparency will actually be healthy to your Ecosystem.
Speaking of the Ban Hammer… It seems that the Shroud of the Avatar user Joviex, who has created code and cooperated with another member directly submitting those assets to Shroud of the Avatar has just been banned for speaking his mind on this matter in that post, read his words for yourself:
Make sure to keep your friends on this Blog updated as to your status Joviex! I think this is pretty unfair of course!