Post Mortem: A Brief History of the Simcast Project

by Alphaville Herald on 14/08/05 at 10:42 am

One year ago, tired of the usual diet of naked bingo, scripting classes and fetishware malls, I was flying aimlessly in SL when I happened upon a castle on a large island in Quat, with what looked like a gigantic spoon out front — no it was half spoon and half spatula and was resting on a fulcrum. Above the spatula end were gigantic blocks of wood. I flew in closer. Sitting in the spoon end was a twisted little d00d holding a scythe and a severed bleeding garden gnome head. He shouted “fire”, the blocks dropped and he went sailing into the stratosphere. Turns out this was just a coffee break for the employees of Simcast who were busy building a Dungeons and Dragons style, PvP Quest Game. For the next year I followed he project, as a fan, reporter, and eventually as an investor. The project officially folded last month. Following is a brief description of my personal history with the project, along with some reflections on what went wrong and what it means for other such projects in SL.


SimCast Dev Team member Grim get’s lauched by the spoon catapult

Aug. 6, 2004: I meet the SimCast Crue.

Since I had a thing for severed garden gnome heads and catapults made of giant spoons, I stopped and talked to the characters out front of the strange castle in Quat: there was Grim Hathor, PlaugeBearer Xevious, and the CEO of Simcast, Prong Thetan. (Prong I learned, was a refugee from There, who made a name for himself by harvesting countless souls.) The guys explained what they were up to: inside the castle was a quest game that they were developing where one must collect clues and objects and solve riddles to navigate one’s way through the castle. They offered a tour and let me take some snaps, and let me see the many twisted delights inside (rivers of blood, more severed heads, etc).

Prong invited me into his Ventrilo chat server, and explained that before long they would have a full on combat — one that included familiar D&D fare like magic books and healing powers and a system for scoring damage and recovery.

Hamlet Linden had recently reported on two other PvP games in development in SL, although these were somewhat different in both the aesthetic and technology on offer (the Simcast game seemed more medieval in character). My thought was that the development of these three games and the possibility that would come online at about the same time would be great news for SL. Potentially, I thought they could inject a lot of excitement into the game. Not that I had have anything against naked bingo.

Prong took me on a tour of their puzzle castle, which included the blood room…

the usual nasty blood-spurting decapitated corpses…

…and blood puking skeletal creatures..

…down narrow paths…

…and showed me a number of puzzle clues that were written in Runes.

When we left the castle, we found PlaugeBearer and Grim building monsters with another dev team member named Luciifer Luchador. They informed me that the monsters which were to receive AI scripts which had already beed developed — more or less.

Over the following weeks I talked to Prong about the project and followed the move of the project to Prong’s private sim, which he cleverly named SimCast.

The whole project seemed like so much fun that I bought my own sim and had it installed next to Prong’s. At the time the chief scriptor on the project was Azelda Garcia, who had a reputation for being a good scriptor, but also pushing hard for scriptors to receive real world payment for their work in SL. As we would all learn, this probably wasn’t feasible, but we arranged for me to obtain a license to Azelda’s PvP game software kit for second life, which was basically bought me an extension of his/her Open Source Metaverse project software (modified for Simcast) plus help when needed.

Early Sept.2004: Bedford comes online

When my server was lit up the land was as flat as a billiard table. For me this was the funnest part of the project. I built a little fjord and stocked it with some Viking ships.

Our initial plan was to have the individual simulators in the Simcast project be campaign specific.

My simulator — Bedford — was roughly based on the plot and time period of the Old English epic Beowulf (yes, complete with Grendel and his mom and the Mead Hall where numerous thanes bite the dust).

I terraformed a mountain range, with the idea that passage into other simcast territory could have strategic fortifications. Meanwhile, back in Simcast, they had erected a giant volcano which would be a point into which players could teleport, buy weapons and game tags, equip themselves, etc.

Knowing that Prokofy Neva would be snooping around, I added a pagan altar on a mountain top in my territory. For sacrificing “goats”, I told him.

And of course apart from all the game building stuff, I used the mead hall to entertain my ever so numerous female friends.

Mid September, 2004: virtual barn raising

One of the really great things about the early SimCast experience was all the people pitching in to help – it was a kind of MMORPG barn raising.

Grim Hathor installed a farm with crop growing which was to to be integrated into the craft system. Flax plants, for example would be utilized for making cloth that in turn will be used in crucial game materials.

We took the old puzzle castle out of mothballs and put it in the sky over Bedford.

Meanwhile Prong Thetan was busting his butt knitting the security grids of the two sims together, among other hard core CEO-type things, like explaining stuff to me. Likewise our scriptor, Azelda Garcia was around to help out a lot.
Dev Team member Luciifer was working on an elven tree lodge in the sky (which ultimately let to some controversy).

Plauge-Bearer was working up in the Bedford Mountains constructing a series of walkways and caves.

Since the Quat days we had also added Dreamer Curie as a team member, and she was very much into my idea of making Bedford faithful to Anglo Saxon England, and helped track down designs of Anglo Saxon shields and mugs and whatnot.

For all the progress we were making we would soon learn that every two steps forward would be followed by one step back – at least whenever there was a software update from Linden Lab

Sept. 22, 2004. Broken Scripts

On September 22, while I was busy reporting two club grand openings (One Song’s new Club Erotic, and the new Club Elite on Elite Island) I was summoned back to the SimCast dev tower. It seemed the latest SL update induced yet another round of fubarness. So, exhausted from a night of rapping about theology with gangsters, dancers, and cyber-escorts, I stuck around on the tower to provide moral support to DevTeam members Grim Hathor and Azelda Garcia.

By 3 AM I was beat. While Grim and Azelda kept working I slipped into godmode and chilled.

The real problem with these fixes was that Azelda was charging the project for his/her time, which is reasonable enough. But Prong was unemployed in RL at this point and the financial strain began to tell, and the tension was beginning to mount.

Still, the scripting continued, and Grim continued developing his crafting system which was becoming quite robust.

Mid October, 2004: the crafting system

While I never got into the combat side of SimCast, the crafting system was strangely addictive. It included the mining and smelting of ore for weapons, growing flax and cotton for special materials, and raising sheep, silkworms, and spiders for additional materials. Grim Hathor, who developed the craft system was currently running a Beta test/contest of the crafting system in the two sims.

It was at this point that I met Mystic Templar, who spent a lot of time in SimCast mining and smelting. He would soon play an important role in the Simcast project, coming on board and advising on scripting.

Meanwhile, Simcast began to get publicity outside of the game. Not only did I report on the project in my talk at the State of Play, but the NY Times reported on the project in the Circuits section.

At the time, Grim and Prong had put together some impressive builds. Grim built me a scale model of the Acropolis which floated in the sky, and which I had envisioned as a location for dispute resolution.

Prong and Grim also fashioned an impressive entry point into simcast. At the feet of a giant skeleton inside of an active volcano.

Prong and Grim had also put together an impressive array of armor and weapons, and there were also third party suppliers. The idea was to have the usual array of D&D armor, spells and weapons. The business model would involve charging little for entry level weapons, but much more for the higher level weapons and spells.

Unfortunately the project would soon implode.

Nov. 23: Azelda Departs

With Prong out of work and the bills from Azelda coming in, things had to come to a head sooner rather than later, and by Nov. 23 Azelda agreed to leave the project, although the departure was not handled entirely smoothly by Prong, who vented on the forums, which were then locked when Azelda’s friend Eggy showed up and he and Prong got into a pissing match

My own take was that Azelda was doing a great job, but anything short of open source code for these games is absolutely untenable. Every update by the Linden’s broke something, and the Simcast team members ended up being crack addicts to their scriptor — who was the only one who could fix the scripts, and who, no surprise, wanted to be paid.

Simcast recovered quickly, however, as Mystic Templar stepped in as a co-investor and new head scriptor (along with Grim Hathor, who was rapidly learning scripting himself).

That Fall the Simcast Dev team underwent radical changes. Luciifer and PlagueBearer were out (having had a personality clash with Grim Hathor), and an artistic clash with the other team members. Prong was also distressed that they were frequently inaccessible and fired them from the project. This led to some adolescent retaliation against Grim and Prong in the form of neg ratings and abusive profiles. I found the whole thing avoidable an annoying, but it did point to a deeper and more general problem with the project: lack of clearly specified responsibilities. This would be less of a problem when the new team coalesced, but never entirely resolved.

Dec. 16: Midgard comes online.

In Mid-December Mystic purchased his own sim and positioned it between the Bedford and Simcast Sims. With the addition of the new sim, the team scrapped much of the content thus far developed and rebuilt everthing with a medieval town vs. town theme, with Midgard being a kind of no man’s land combat zone. At the time we projected that we were two months away from beta testing.

By mid-January there was now a robust Dev Team at work on three Sims, and a presence of regular beta-players, including the Kao’an guild which almost seemed to be there 24/7.


Jan. 23: the Wedding

In late January, Simcast Island Lord Mystic Templar married dev team member Simone Templar (no relation) in a ceremony Midgard. It was probably the high water point for the project, as the pictures show:

Feb. 1: Philip visits

Philip Linden showed up on February 1st with a number of other Lindens and spent at least an hour touring the place and talking to people. He’s good at projecting enthusiasm, so one never knows, but he certain appeared to be highly enthusiastic about the project.

Feb.5: The Phoenix Rises?

On Feb. 5, 2005, the Herald ran an article about the resurrection of the Simcast project and how it had recovered from the disintegration of the earlier dev team and the loss of its head scripter, the article by Matthias Zander introduced the new dev team:

“Under the direction of Prong Thetan, the programming skills of Grim Hathor and Mystic Templar, the weapon and armor creation skills of Gurgon Grumby and Evad Yaffle, the animating of Ferran Brodsky, the designing of Osprey Therian, the building of YadNi Monde, the communication abilities of Simone Templar, the sound manipulations of Claire Engel, the enforcing muscle of Mystique Suavage, and the backing of the Herald’s own Urizenus Sklar, the project has been reborn and is back with a vengence. This crack team of 12 people continues to work to improve the systems of combat, grouping, and typical game play. Beta testing is expected to begin on Saturday with an event at approximately 7 p.m. SL time, with a full release expected on or around March 1st.”

From left to right: YadNi Monde, Gurgon Grumby, Evad Yaffle, Simone Templar, Claire Engel (in the fire), Prong Thetan
Not pictured: Grim Hathor, Mystic Templar, Ferran Brodsky, Osprey Therian, Mystique Suavage, Urizenus Sklar

The article also reported on the arrival of the the Kao’an Exiles. Their leader, Sorshia Wishbringer, explained how their group originated in the ActiveWorlds chat universe and included both people who moved to SecondLife from ActiveWorlds and friends they had gained since moving there. The Kao’ans, had been actively involved in DarkLife and then in the alpha testing of SimCast.

Sorshia Wishbringer in front of the SimCast Castle

Bedford’s floating castle

Matthias noted that while in the alpha testing stage, SimCast got enough traffic to be awarded a “Dwelloper Award” for the month of January. It would receive another one in February.

Meanwhile Grim and Prong were busy developing an impressive array of armor which would be sold through vendors on the SimCast Islands.

Mid-February a “photographer” for the Lindens came by and took a picture of the dev team. Somehow, Yadni didn’t get the message when we were being rousted and wasn’t there for the shoot — not that a picture of the group ever appeared that I know. Still, Yadni flew off the handle, feeling expoited and underappreciated (certainly not paid). For sure he had the temperament of a French chef, and it made criticism of his builds difficult, leading to more and more tension over time.

The Dev team turned over all terraforming and building to Yadni, however, and while this may have been a good idea, it certainly made me feel less engaged in the project. Not only was I not involved in developing my own property, but there appeared to be constraints on how the property could be used. The Anglo-Saxon Beowulfian motif was long gone in favor of Yadni’s visually more impressive, but thematically unconnected landscaping and builds.

The Bedford Simulator in the Yadni Era

March 7: It falls apart again

No sooner did the SimCast project rise from the ashes but the drama returned with the *very* dramatic departure by investor/scriptor/island lord Mystic Templar and his virtual bride/dev team member Simone Templar.

Numerous factors contributed to his departure, but probably the main one was that Mystic wanted to pursue game development with some friends, and he had seen enough to be convinced that he didn’t want to do it in Second Life. On top of this, however, there was some drama that probably expedited his decision. Other factors included an apology by Prong Thetan to the leader of Elf Clan, hus unhappiness with a build by Yadni Monde, and the griefers and nere-do-wells that seem to follow me everywhere. According to Prong Thetan, tensions had arisen because Mystic was unhappy with demands being made by leadership of the Elf Clan – a groups of some 100 or so SL elves that were considering habitating in the Bedford Sim. When relations between Mr. Templar and the Elf Clan leader Wayfinder Wishbringer became testy, Prong Thetan apologized on behalf of the SimCast group. Templar took offense to this apology, which baffled me. The Elf Clan represented potential customers, and the customer is always right. Mystic had a great background in systems engineering but he clearly has little experience in customer service and marketing. In my view at the time, Prong was just doing his job.

Not only did Templar withdraw from the project, but he used his centrally located sim as an obstacle to block traffic between the other two sims in the project. The three sims (SimCast, Midgard, and Bedford) were set in a row, from South to North, with Midgard in the middle. When Templar left the group he set his sim to ban all traffic between the other two sims in the project. Urizenus Sklar contacted Templar and asked him to remove his sim, which he refused to do. Direct appeal to the Lindens was necessary to remove Mr. Templar’s Island.

Other reasons for Mystic’s dissatisfaction were reported by Dev Team members, including his dissatisfaction with part of the build by Yadni Monde – in this case a giant rendition of the Colossus on the Midgard sim, and concerns about textures that were used on tents. It is unclear why Mr. Templar did not take up these considerations with Mr. Monde, or for that matter ask him to change matters.

In addition, Mystic was reportedly upset with me because I permitted “griefers” on my island, althoug this concern was never raised with me by Mystic.

People have a tendency to think that relationships in Second Life are discardable, whether personal or professional – they just put you on ignore and never have to face the consequence of looking someone in the eye and explaining their behavior. Perhaps that is what is missing, or perhaps it is simply that people just don’t take online relations of any kind seriously.

Whether part of a general pattern or just a one time event involving SimCast and Mystic, some Dev Team members were taken aback by the suddenness and lack of any discussion beforehand. Again, I worry that this is just a feature of online relationships, whether social or professional – people think they can walk away without consequences.

The project limped on for some months after Mystic’s departure, but the group was never able to coalesce properly, and the scripting problems ended up being insurmountable. The project gradually withered away

July 14: SimCast dies

When the project officially folded in July, Prong initially attempted to sell the remants of the project, but met a blizzard of criticism from Yadni and some of the other developers who seemed to think that Pron was going to profit from the sale. On the forums I pointed out that they were squabbling over crums, because there was not much of value to the project. Still, Yadni insisted that if the land was going to be sold it should be sold flat. Prong accordingly wiped his land and began a new project. I was ready to sell my sim and focus more on the Herald, and, wishing to avoid ridiculous entanglements with Yadni and others, I wiped the sim before I sold it. I also flushed all the simcast related objects from my inventory.

It’s too bad it came to that, but this was due in part to very poorly articulated ownership relations, something that bothered me throughout the project, but which I figured would not be a factor unless the project somehow made money (not something that I saw in the cards). This is not to say there weren’t efforts to get people to sign off on contracts that would clearly state the business relationships and ownership of SimCast materials, but Dev Team members balked at signing off using their real life names. They would only agree to something qua avatars. I don’t know if I was right or wrong, but I was disgusted by this and effectively withdrew from any serious participation in the project at that point — I had no desire to be in business with people who would not identify themselves or enter into serious contractual relations. Again, maybe that’s just me.

It’s difficult to extrapolate strong conclusions from the case of one project in SimCast, but it is noteworthy that no other PvP project has broken out, and only Dark Life has managed to survive in and be somewhat functional for any period of time. The problems are certainly imposing. Lag is a horrific problem in general, but in a sim with weapons that must communicate with a central server via chat and IM and objects that must listen the problem is daunting. Maintaining serious business relationships in SL is also nearly impossible, given the propensity of everyone to hide behind their avatars and not take RL responsibility for actions undertaken and choices made in the game. The problem of constant script-breaking updates also put extreme pressures on any development team. Can a PvP game survive in Second Life? Perhaps, but the environment is not conducive to such efforts, even if there is a team of people willing to give hundreds and thousands and hours of their time to make it happen.

More recent efforts are attempting to deal with the PvP problem by doing most of the processing out of game — establishing a third party server that will record the hit points, tabulate damage etc. I’m not sure how well this will work, given that all the scripted objects in the game must still listen, and, I assume commmunicate with each other somehow.

In sum, I think there were a lot of mistakes made on the SimCast project and lots of things that would be done differently the next time. For all that, however, I cannot forsee a series of actions or strategies that could make such projects successful, given the SL environment at this time. Maybe conditions will change as Linden Lab upgrades their servers or when they move from Linden Scripting Language to Mono. But this is pure speculation. It seems much more likely that the kinds of projects that will be successful are the ones that are “smaller” and fit well within the computational constraints of the SL universe — projects like Tringo, for example.

Still, the value of projects like this have to be measured in terms of what one learns and how much fun one has, and on this score the SimCast was well worth it for me. I learned a lot about the mechanics of SL (and its limitations), got to meet some great creative people and scripters, and made some fantastic friends. It’s hard to put a price on that.

29 Responses to “Post Mortem: A Brief History of the Simcast Project”

  1. montserrat

    Aug 14th, 2005

    i am sorry for your loss.

  2. Neal Stewart

    Aug 14th, 2005

    Great autopsy, Uri. Reviewing project mistakes and blindspots publicly is an uncomfortable thing to do, so SL residents don’t often hear about them. And they’re the poorer for that.

    Your “It’s hard to put a price on that” is great in the context of Prong’s SL forums post:

    Prong wrote:
    Witnessing your dreams crumble before your very eyes because you can no longer afford to pay your programmer $25.00 / hour…


  3. csven

    Aug 15th, 2005

    Thanks. Enjoyed reading this.

  4. Terry Beaubois

    Aug 15th, 2005

    What a story.Thanks for telling it.Herodotus couldn’t have done better. This should be required reading for all in SL. Hope you find future success in SL. You deserve it.

  5. Matthias

    Aug 15th, 2005

    I do think that it should be noted that SimCast itself is currently being transformed into a first-person shooter environment and plans to re-open without Uri’s Bedford simulator in short time.

  6. Urizenus

    Aug 15th, 2005

    Yes, but the only surviving part is the simulator and its name. Prong’s new project is an urban first person shooter with an entirely different software design and business model.

  7. Clark Overdrive

    Aug 15th, 2005

    Uri. thx for the great post mortem on SimCast and Bedford. Since first recently hearing about the experiment, I was intrigued to know the whole story. After investing over $2M (real USD) in one of my software development projects, I learned first hand that creating a new technology was not the hard part. Finding talented and emotionally balanced people with a desire and to focus more on the “cause” (a project’s success), rather than their own personal self interests, is the most difficult part of any new project or enterprise. Good luck in future efforts. Your attitude after the SIMCast experience was a good one and the lesson came at a bargain price.

  8. Wayfinder Wishbringer

    Aug 15th, 2005

    Very interest article Uri. Thank you. A clarification if I may:

    As you’re aware, Elf Clan came to SimCast at the request of Lord Prong, who wished us to inhabit Bedford as an official RPG element to the game. We were very enthusiastic about the project and spnt many hours training our group in use of the SimCast system. The issue between Mystic and Elf Clan was not one of “demands” Elf Clan made of the game (for we in truth made no demands, although Mystic may have errantly thought we did so when we provided extensive feedback that Lord Prong had himself requested). There were things that had been promised Elf Clan for bringing members into the game and we of course expected those promises to be kept. Even in this however, Elf Clan always exerted ourselves to be very flexible, recognizing that the game was in early development and would require time and dedication by all, including Elf Clan.

    The problem that arose (as I’m sure Prong can verify) was due to conflict that resulted OUTSIDE of SimCast… when on serveral occasions mid-sim attitudes and elements were brought to Elven lands and events. Prong had tried to tell Mystic’s group that their heavy-RPG/PVP concepts would not be welcome in most lands outside of SimCast, but apparently he had difficulty getting that concept across to them. When finally I was forced on two occasions to deal with Mystic and his queen for coming to our land and showing heavy disrespect for Elven ways, Prong did the gentlemanly thing and made a formal apology, which we of course accepted and let the matter slide. At that time Mystic took great umbrage to Prong’s apology and well– you summed up the rest of the story with fair accuracy.

    Elf Clan was very sad to see SimCast and Bedford wiped to bare ground. They were two of the most interesting and beautiful builds on SL. Of course, human emotions and personal viewpoints can destroy even the best of projects. But we have many fond snapshots of what turned out to be an unfulfilled dream– but an incredibly artistic dream nevertheless.

  9. Wayfinder Wishbringer

    Aug 15th, 2005

    Thank you Uri for this interesting article on SimCast. Elf Clan was highly enthusiastic about this project and spent many, many hours teaching our members how to use the system.

    A slight correction if I may: the apology which Prong submitted to Elf Clan and which resulted in Mystic and Simone leaving the group had nothing to do with SimCast itself or (as the article states) with demands made upon SimCast by Elf Clan. Rather, it had to do with situations that occured OUTSIDE of SimCast.

    Mystic’s group consisted of hard-core, heavy RPG/PVP players. Prong had tried to warn them that taking certain game concepts and attitudes outside of SimCast would not be a good idea, as such attitudes would be unwelcome by most SL landowners. Apparently they chose not to heed his warning, for on several occasions I had to personally confront Mystic and Simone for attitudes and disrespect they exhibited when they visited our Elven lands. Everyone who visits our lands knows that one of our strongest codes is respect for all residents and guests, no matter who you are or what your “role” in other areas.

    After 2 or 3 such incidents, Prong chose to make formal apology to Elf Clan and told Mystic and Simone to clean up their act. Your article fairly reports the result: they got ticked and withdrew from the game, using their position between SimCast and Bedford to vent their ire. Shameful conduct. Members of their group later assured Elf Clan that this was NOT the attitude of the Ka’oan’s in general and backed up Lord Prongs gentlemanly apology.

    There has never been anything but good feelings between Elf Clan and SimCast/Bedford. We were distressed at the breakup of the game– and deeply saddened when SimCast and Bedford were wiped to bare ground. For in truth, although the dream perished, it was one of the most beautifully conceived, executed and artistic dreams we have seen on SL.

  10. MysticTemplar

    Aug 18th, 2005

    I am sorry to see SimCast go. It was a noble idea. For my part I can say I was never asked to “cleanup” my act but its true that it was time for me to leave SL. I think its a good idea but needed more design from a programming interface point of view.

    Best of luck to you Prong and Uri and Grim!

  11. Prokofy Neva

    Aug 19th, 2005

    I am so sorry for the death of this dream, and I applaud Uri for chronicling it “as fairly unbalanced” as he can.

    I blame the concept of the tekkie-wiki, myself. This evil construct says that people should strip away all RL needs like money to feed their first-life bodies and live in a scientific utopia where they just script and code and build all day until they become hysterical and cranky with exhaustion and turn on one another like junk-yard dogs.

    The tekkie-wiki also claims you can strip away all identifying characteristics like your RL name, your occupation, your RL skills, your location, your race, economic position, etc etc and just be in one big hippie commune where differences don’t matter. But they do. And they find a way of seaping out when you try to really do something like this project. People in different countries with different ages and nationalities and all that do have different cultural ways of doing things and different expectations about money, land, work, etc. and this always starts to show around the edges and you can’t wish it away.

    The tekkie-wiki tells you everything should be for the good of Science, and Knowledge and the Cause, but where is the tekkie-wiki when your kids ask for milk? The tekkie-wiki is nowhere to be found, or worse, stirring up Kool-aid somewhere…

    The tekkie-wiki says everyone should live in harmony and create and produce collectively and all shall be equal and the entire thing shall be free and available to everyone.

    Bah. It’s a very fake notion of how human reality works, and what the genuine basis for human solidarity can be, which is real valuation of human labour and real help based on like-mindedness and shared goals with real purposes, which often take a lot of work to establish, and in the poor communication medium of SL, can be well nigh impossible.

    The story also illustrates the real “meanness of the world” which our friend Phil Linden said would all be erased because there’d be such wonderful opportunities for creativity and productivity that everyone would simply forget to do stuff like park their sim between two other sims and make everyone eat red ban lines.

    At the root of this story is the fallacy of social engineering on a 3-D platform game space metaverse thingie. There’s nothing special about this 3-D platform game space metaverse thingie, it’s just a public space where people got together to do a barn-raising except they left the barn door open and all the horses ran away plus they didn’t need a barn anyway because there aren’t any crops they are growing except fake flax that doesn’t need to be in a barn anyhow.

    The whole tekkie wiki concept is predicated on the idea that people make scads of money as RL programmers or IT workers in some big company and they come on here in their off hours and goof around and are happy to do this for free. Except…they don’t make scads of money…there are too many of them for the RL labour market to absorb…they start looking for ways to make money doing games which is what they like doing anyway….it’s all a terrible ruse! Gah!

    Another big revelation here is how fake all this virtual property and IP stuff is, and the glaring absence of dispute resolution tools and venues. When it comes to crunch time, it all goes out the window. Here’s this amazing build that people like me might have bought outright “as is” on the right-click. But it wasn’t put up for sale to even partially reimburse the costs because all the tekkie wikinistas began to bicker about who worked harder and deserved more — thereby revealing the tekkie-wiki “free labour for the good of the Cause and Science” concept at heart to be a load of crap.

    Yadni looks pretty bad in this version of the story. He seems like a clutching and controlling individual typical of FICdom. While I’m sure he has his own side to it, his other behaviour in game, i.e. jealously guarding against the resale of his $1 items by anybody but him, even siccing Lindens on people, shows him up to be one of those economic/game reputation power grabbers always posturing with fake altruism. If he was engaged in altruism on the tekkie-wiki, he shouldn’t be bitching now about somebody trying to get back a dime off this sad story. Because of that dog-in-the-manger like behaviour, now the world, the public, or some rich individual at least, is deprived of that build even in some smaller format, or in separate pieces. A real pity.

    This is one case where screenshots don’t do justice. Usually games look better on screenshots than in the world, but here the screens look really crappy for some reason, but totally unlike the actual sims in the game.

  12. Urizenus

    Aug 19th, 2005

    Prok, I think you drew exactly the wrong moral from this. If the philosophy of simcast had been wiki, then it might have survived, or at least it wouldn’t have been necessary to wipe everything out of existences.

    The collapse of the first design team happened because we couldn’t afford to pay Azelda. Note also we had to rewrite the game code from scratch at that point because it wasn’t open source.

    Even after that there was constant bitching, griping, and kvetching about money and getting paid — fighting over crums. We *should* have told everyone up front that no one was getting a dime out of the project, that everything build would be open source, and that any income would go back into the project. But at no time was the code made open source, and even when the project folded Yadni insisted that prong couldn’t sell or give away anything unless his contribution was wiped flat. For that reason I wiped my island, flushed every piece of simcast property I had and sold the island.

    That, my friend is the opposite of the Wiki philosophy. Would-be capitalists fighting to declare themselves owners of a few crums is a more apt description than wiki. And by the way, I think that is a pretty apt description of SL as a whole, too.

  13. Prokofy Neva

    Aug 19th, 2005

    Uri, you are a victim of the tekkie-wiki mind-meme yourself, dude. You need some informational hygiene there my friend. Yes, you didn’t get the tekkie-wiki. But you think that is the reason it failed. And you think if you had all worked that goofy open-source/free/hippie/commune stuff and not squabbled over who got paid, everything would be ok. And that’s EXACTLY my point. That you think you should all be on the collective farm. But nobody wants to really be on the collective farm. Everybody wants to get paid, somehow.

  14. Urizenus

    Aug 19th, 2005

    actually I think that failure was overdetermined, but among the many factors that were causally efficacious in the failure, the project being techni-wiki was not one of them, for the simple reason that the project was an experiment in anti-wiki virtual capitalism. Whether the project could have succeded as a wiki project is mostly speculation, but if if had failed as wiki, it would have failed for different reaons than it in fact failed.

  15. Prokofy Neva

    Aug 20th, 2005

    Well, Uri, this could be as long and boring and pointless and argument as the one we had about monetary systems and fiat currency, but let me just point out again that because you think the project was “an experiment in anti-wiki virtual capitalism” you think that’s why it failed. That means you had a template in your mind against which to judge it. That means your ideal corrective for it was indeed the tekkie wiki, conscious or no. It failed not only as capitalism but as a wiki socialism and in part because the ideal expectations in people’s minds was one that the group would behave like wiki socialists and they didn’t. People tend not to.

  16. Lance Mirabeau

    Aug 20th, 2005

    I’d just like to say-

    I TOLD you it was a bad idea going with Azelda in the first place.

  17. Urizenus

    Aug 20th, 2005

    Prok, I don’t think the participants in the project had the wiki template in mind — my impression was that the notion just didn’t register with them. So yes, I had the template in mind, but no one else did. And I’m not measuring success and failure in terms of the template. The evidence that it failed should be pretty obvious, whatever template you carry in your head.

    Lance, you did say that, but the post-Azelda team didn’t exactly work out either.

  18. Joe Public

    Aug 21st, 2005

    >>Well, Uri, this could be as long and boring and pointless and argument as the one we had about monetary systems and fiat currency,

    yeah, prok…it suddenly becomes long and boring to you because it was apparent you did not know what you were talking about.


  19. Prokofy Neva

    Aug 22nd, 2005

    No, I knew what I was talking about, asswipe. It was long and boring because Uri and others kept arguing with me and kept trying to tell me the obvious, that I and others already knew, duh. Honestly, do you really think we’re that stupid we don’t realize money is not backed by literal bars of gold in Fort Knox??? The point was really about another discussion, the age-old discussion about capitalism and socialism and how so many of the people concentrated on this game are of the socialist persuasion.

    My intuition was that Uri hates America and is a socialist at heart, like a lot of campus professors. It’s hard to catch him on that. He kept yammering on about fiat currency and saying stuff didn’t have value, whereas I was trying to explain that yeah, America and its currency do have value and are backed by stuff that give it value. I dunno, try Russia? And get back to me. Capitalism being a system that creates and adds values unlike socialism which is always trying to equally distribute value even as it thinks value is eroded everytime somebody somewhere takes something (hence its propensity for crime).

    That’s really all that discussion was about, and it’s a long and boring one because Uri doesn’t want to say he’s a Chomskist, etc. he’d like to think he’s more nuanced and thoughtful than that but when I hear someone telling someone else to spend hours of picky work on this game and get even only $25/hour I have to think — geez, at least use it to polish your resume and get a job at the Lindens because it’s a time and money sink.

  20. Joe Public

    Aug 22nd, 2005

    yawn…zzzzzzzz…huh? Did I hear a mosquito buzzing around my ear??? noooo…just the sound of a windbag flapping….

  21. Kairah Tyne

    Oct 2nd, 2005

    I am personally insulted by Prok’s comment about YadNi Monde’s fake altruism. I have spent many hrs literally ‘bugging’ YadNi with game questions and he has never given me the impression of not wanting to be anything more than a teacher and a fountain of information to those who ask. He has literally gone the extra mile to give me information and to find it for me if he did not now the answer.
    Also, what’s the deal with him charging $1L. for the multli-item boxes he sells? Those items were donated to him by other creators to distribute at the yard. Besides, he is not the only one charging $1L for ‘freebie’ boxes, there are other freebie places that do the same service for the same price.

  22. Prokofy Neva

    Oct 2nd, 2005

    Yeah, and I’m personally insulted by YadNi’s vindictive overreach in this game, and his effort to control other people and their sales activity. The issue is not at all the fact that YadNi offers freebies, or offers freebies for sale for $1. If he’s gone to the trouble of collecting, or getting as gifts, all the freebies out there in SL, more power to him, and if he wants to collect a $1 token fee — which will really start to add up given the hordes of newbies coming through, what of it? I think there are too many freebies in the game and too many $1 items and people should charge more — even a little more.

    What I especially object to, however, is when someone performing this freebie/$1 service then puts restrictions on these items and tells you that you cannot unpack them or take them out of their folders and give or sell them on your own. What the fuck?! Who the hell is YadNi Monde to do that??? What, he’s the only king of the freebies, and nobody else can offer them in his packages? They are supposed to let them just sit in their inventory for ever, even when no longer needed, and never passed on to newbies UNLESS you put YadNi in the loop, and unless you award him dwell on his lot? Fuck that shit.

    More, why can’t I take the freebies or $1 and RESELL THEM FOR WHATEVER PRICE I CAN GET???? This is one of those hysterical FIC issues (a non-issue in RL or even the rest of the Internet) where we are supposed to a) never sell something free, especially Linden free stuff and especially vaunted FIC free stuff and 2) we’re supposed to forever and anon bow down on our knees and be grateful to these finders and redistributors of free stuff as if they are God’s gift to the metaverse. They are just self-aggrandizers looking for reputaton enhancement using the philanthrophy gambit — and you can tell that they’re no Gandhis because of the viciousness and nasty controlling attitude they have about your resale or restribution of their supposedly “selflessly given” item. REAL philanthropists and givers don’t endlessly require public adulation and getting the credit for their services, and they don’t mind if they don’t get dwell.

    I began to stumble on the long arm of YadNi Monde here and there when I began to hear of newbies being reproached for unpacking or giving away and selling YadNi’s precious stuff. The worst offense of course is selling what he gave away for free. I had a friend who put out a yard sale. He put out some of the YadNi stuff, as far as I know, it was only still a $1. If it was $5, what of it? It’s not always possible to trace the provenance of every single thing you have in your inventory — I’ve found this numerous times when I have yard sales.

    YadNi somehow caught wind of this yard sale and *sicced the Lindens on this friend*. Imagine! What a dick! The Lindens, aiding and abetting this FIC overreach, came on to my friend’s property, told him their standard Lindenese line that “selling freebies isn’t cool” and then *forced the items back into the friend’s inventory using God-mode. I mean, what the fuck indeed!!!!

    These kinds of appalling excesses by our “federal government” happen all the time and go unremarked because most people feel horribly intimidated by Lindens swooping down. But honestly, if the market is free, if it is supposed to be a “normal,” why can’t you resell free stuff. If, for example, in RL, I went to all the McDonald’s on Third Avenue and picked up all the free creamers and sugars, and resold them for $1, if I was stupid enough to waste my time on that, and other people wanted to buy my recylced McDonald’s freebies, who could stop me? Who *hasn’t* bought from a yardsale in RL a dingy Hercules plastic toy for $1 which was once a giveaway at Mickey D’s? Haven’t you ever seen the bums on Second Avenue reselling free plastic pop-up address books and other various and sundry crap that they got from bank openings or supermarket giveaways? Who the fuck cares? It’s bottom-feeding to take free stuff and resell it, but some people need to do it, and by God, some people are available to buy the dreck, so LET THEM. This is a vital part of the newbie economy. LEAVE IT ALONE.

    If you are truly “performing a service to the community” then once that stuff leaves your property, STFU. We don’t need your long arm to reach on to OUR properties and tell us what to do with our stuff, whether we wish to give it away or sell it for $1 or $100. There is actually nothing in the TOS about resale of free items. It’s consider “in bad taste” and “not cool” but what of it? I’m grateful to the enterprising fellow who sold me a $100 Linden free tent. I couldn’t find the free tent anywhere, but he had it just in time out there for me to buy when I wanted it. That’s what a free market is for.

    I keep a set of 3 coloured flamingos on my property in Derwent as a silent protest against this idiocy. They are for sale for $5. These are the freebies in the Linden library in inventory. I label them FREE LINDEN ITEMS WARNING THAT ARE SET FOR SALE!!! So that busy-bodies can’t accuse me of deliberately deceiving newbies. Believe it or not, some people, even oldbies, buy them, just because there they are, coloured and ready to go, without having to work with the damn things in edit and pick out the bits to colour. That’s how a free market works! and THANK GOD for it!

    It’s not as if YadNi Monde is hurting for traffic or sales on his lot. So let him not begrudge others the same freedom. The freebie resale market is never going to be large. A lot of the freebies like a set of 50 wings seem highly cool when you are new, but by about day 30 they only lag your inventory. Who among us has actually tried on, worn, and enjoyed all 30 of the wings in the set of free 30 wings? Geez, let it go. Make stuff that’s good and valuable, provide customer service, and charge for it — and people, even “poor newbies” will pay it — without you having to clutch at newbie traffic and $1 bills to get ahead in SL.

    In conclusions: making and giving away freebies is a good thing. Putting restrictions on their modification, copying, and resale is a bad thing. And that’s what happens with our altruistic FIC — they make and give away freebies but hobble the market and the creativity of others by putting them on no-mod and no-copy and even no-transfer.

    Anybody who doesn’t want to enable another to resell something has only to click off the box “resale/transfer”.

  23. YadNi Monde

    Oct 2nd, 2005


    FOREWORD: Pardon my English if it is sometimes bad, i am a French guy, Thanks in Advance.

    —-I am always interrested to read comments from people who did nothing in a given project.

    —-In Dark Life, i was then setting a store of weapons and armors of mine. That day, a yound enthusiast guy named Ian approached me and stood there in awe of my work before to ask me if i could be interrested in a much bigger project. Being creative and eager to build things, i was indeed interrested. And that day, the young Ian teleported me to simcast to introduce me to Prong.
    —-For about an hour i showed my stuff to them and prong was groing more and more impressed by my work and offered me to build Simcast for him. The deal was simple, i would build a first city in his own sim with an “Evil” theme, and all i would build for SimCast would FOREVER stay EXCLUSIVE to SimCast and i would be payed a percentage of the Benefits when the game would open ot public.
    —-And when i would be done with SimCast sim with it s “Evil” Theme, if Urizenus wanted me to, i would rebuild Bedford from flat with a city of the “Good” side. And if once again my work was good, i could also be given Midgard with a “Neutral” theme by Mystic.
    —-And that same day, i began to terraform SimCast from Flat. The only rule was Quality, it was Prong s Master word and i began to build, encouraged by an evermore enthusiastic Prong at the sight of my work who eventually came to call me “His Monster Builder”. And i was glad and proud of my work that looked like nothing ever built in Second Life before.
    —-One day, Prong showed me armor sets built by Grim, who was a fantastic Scriptor, and who had made also two wonderful temples i would use later in Midgard as a base for the “Neutral” theme, but his Medieval Weaponry wasnt too impressive. And i had this young SecondLifer guy called Gurgon as an “Apprentice” at that time, and i was confident in his Talents so i asked him to design one or two sets to show to Prong. So did he, and we went to see the Boss with those armors and weapons he had done, and as their quallity was much greater, he got the Smith job and Grim could now completely focus on the complex Game System Scripting and do the excellent work he was the best at.
    —-Soon after that, it became obvious we would also need Quality Medieval Clothing and once again, i knew the perfect person for that, Osprey. She came show her stuff, and she got the Clothier job. She joined the team and worked well, but after a short while felt some “pressure” and chose to leave. Prong tried to keep her but she didnt want to. But seeing her and her wonderful work go away, i ran after her to try and save the situation and she came back with a renewed energy to “sew” pixels.
    —-We would also need good sounds, for weapons, doors, spells, taverns and such and of course, Quality was still the Master Word, and once again i knew the right person who could just do that, Claire, who is sound engineer, and she got the Sound job.
    —-But how good looks a sword hit if it has not the good Animation, we needed an Animator of Quality for that, and again, i had a dear Friend, full of crazy genius, able to fold Poser to her will named Ferran who of course got the Animator job.
    —-And now surrounded by the best designers in each field of SL, Prong and i knew SimCast would be the First Wonder of Second Life.
    —-And i was given total freedom of building, for all, i was the Visual Style Lead Designer and we all spend hundreds of RL hours building or creating for SimCast while Grim was each day improving the Game System always alone, sometimes a bit overwhelmed, but courageous as we all were. All Prong had to do was to be a good Boss, and he did that well, gathering all our productions, organising Meetings and keeping us heads up when needed. I finally came to stay literally screwed at my computer building and spitting prims like a mad machine for more than two months, spending around 600 hours to build THREE SIMS from Flat, Gurgon did the same with Weapons and Armors and did hundreds of them, Osprey created Dozens of Outfits for Males and Females, Good and Evil, Claire recorded Hundreds of Sounds all pure Medieval, and Ferran created Dozens of Animations for each and every Game Movement a Player could do. It is only very late in the process that Mystic came to help Grim with the Scripting that was already very Advanced.

    —-And the Elf clan pointed it s nose one day, and from then, all went wrong. Mystic left the project, closing his sim and blocking the map. He then resold it WITH THE BUILDINGS to Anshe, and i had to go personally delete them under her eyes. What was for SimCast was for SimCast ONLY, ONE WORD. But even with the two Sims of SimCast and bedford left, the Game never really opened to public, and each person involved in the project felt betrayed one way or another, and it was over.

    —-I feel sorry for the Four Fantastic Designers i brought to that project, we all had great hopes for that place but it went just nowhere. SimCast will never be walked again but in my mind and a few other people s who created it BY HAND, Click by Click, with a passion that only few are able to ever feel, or have.

    One last word about the Junkyard: When i do a box of, say, 327 Clothes and sell it for a symbolic $L, do you think it really covers the expense of the needed land to support the prims?
    Do you think it covers the donations i personally do to my own Money Tree for the Newbiests to buy my own boxes for nothing?
    Do you think it covers all the RL time spent sorting around 4000 references to make sure i never drop twice the same thing in two different releases, listing all by hand, with a good old school pencil and a notebook?

    —-Now i will go back to why i play SL, not ranting on people, no no, just spitting prims, helping Newbs to discover all the multiple possibilities of my favorite game ever, and encourage new talents to create, and see guys like Gurgon get better than their master with a Happy Smile on my face.
    —-No one will discourage me with bullshit, because i Love what i do, bad luck for the ones who dont seem to love much. OH and YES i am a PROUD person, Proud of what i Love and of what it makes me Do, i am called by some “Icon”, “Master”, “Maniac”, “Crazy Fucker”, “Monster Builder”, “Rad”, “Love”, “Friend” and more, and that makes me Happy, and Proud !!!


    Yours, Friendly, YadNi =)
    (if it s not primmy, it s not a YadNi)

    PS: This month, YadNi s Junkyard has been awarded by “The Metaverse Messenger” for BEST FREE ITEMS PLACE.

  24. Urizenus

    Oct 2nd, 2005

    Thanks for the post Yadni. I’ll say I agree with it up to the Elf situation, but only because I don’t think the elves played a causal role in what happened — I just think that is about the time things started to fall apart.

    I will say I have great memories of coming into the game at 4 in the morning and finding you building in Bedford, and hanging with you when you took one of your “breaks”. I also really enjoyed the simcast meetings when the entire design team was assembled. That was a freaking impressive group.

    I also remember clearly the day you demonstrated your skills for Prong and the day you started terraforming him. Prong was in ventrilo, so i could hear how excited he was. He could barely contain himself he was so impressed. I thought he was going to blow his load on the keyboard.

  25. Prokofy Neva

    Oct 2nd, 2005

    Geez, Yadnit, I was voted best rentals by Metaverse Messenger? And what of it? What has that got to do with anything?

    So you are best free yardsale place? Then be best free yardsale place and stop kvetching about what others do with it after it leaves your hand. I’ve spent hours picking through inventory too and putting out and paying money trees and putting out houses that rent for pennies or whatever — who hasn’t? This is the nature of SL, if you decide to work it.

    Don’t ask for credit after doing that hours of selfless work, though, and don’t ask for people to abide by some clutchy rules of yours after you give away. If you gave it away for free, you gave it away. Then LET IT GO. If someone resells it, too bad. If you can kvetch and bitch about your hours of work and your thousands of items being dropped into prims, then that means you are expecting to be paid. Then get paid, and charge more. I really cannot listen to these excuses and this fake altruistic crap, sorry, it doesn’t fly. Get paid. Charge more. Make it worthwhile. People will pay $25 — newbies can pay something, I’ve always found. Honestly, I really don’t get it. These are cultural and philosophical differences, very ardently held. But I will fight for my beliefs too. You dont’ get to reach out into my yard, and tell me what I do with what has now become my possession. I don’t have to go cringing and bowing and scraping everywhere forever and anon with that free thing, never unpackaging it and never reselling it even for just that same $1. NFW. This is the free world, get used to it. If you want to offer this service, offer it, and don’t expect to get credit, and don’t expect people to worship your free articles forever in their inventories.

  26. Kairah Tyne

    Oct 2nd, 2005

    pffft… Prozac time, need an RX?

  27. YadNi Monde

    Oct 2nd, 2005

    My Very Dear Prokofy, Sweet are your gentle words to me, and i must say treating me of “Dick” is the most delicious fashion from you.
    Now let s take a look if you have anything else than dog food in your narrow skull …. oh, no, just that, sorry for you.
    The only rule at the junkyard is quite SIMPLE even for Idiots like you: IF YOU PLAN TO RESELL THE STUFF YOU FIND AT THE JUNKYARD, PLEASE AT LEAST DO THE EFFORT TO REPACK IT ANOTHER WAY THAN THE ONE I MADE, in other words, DO SOME WORK BY YOURSELF, or just forget it.
    ALSO it is true that I WILL NEVER SELL A SINGLE FREEBIE FOR 5$L, that would be just STEALING the author who did some work for the pleasure of the Community, the Lonely freebies (not boxed ones) at my JUNKYARD are for sale for ZERO, it is ONLY WHEN BOXED that they go for 1$L per box (FULL OF STUFF).
    SO PLEASE NOW SHUT YOUR SHIT CLAPPER AND GO BACK TO YOUR HOLE, that will give us all some FRESH AIR !!!! Your Mouth Stinks, you must really be a poor person if all you have to do is rant on me.

    Not Yours, Not Friendly, Still YadNi =(

  28. Joe Public

    Oct 3rd, 2005

    Out of all the of proks spew diatribes I HAVE to say that this one takes the cake.

    >>More, why can’t I take the freebies or $1 and RESELL THEM FOR WHATEVER PRICE I CAN GET????

    Sure you can…but if you have ask this sort of Q then no doubt you are a fucking retard…and saying that is an insult to the real mentally challenged in our societies.

    That is on a par with the moron who gave me some useless box of free crap vehicles (it was even named that I recall and they were crap in fact) without introducing herself to me, and then asked me to rate her positively because she had just demonstrated was a nice person and deserved to be postively rated because she was nice person because she gave people things without asking etc etc etc blah blah blah…and by the way if you rate me positively I can get more stipend.

    Maybe she was your sister prok? or your brother? or another secret officer of the metaverse morons club? Honestly,now, what drugs are you on?

  29. Prokofy Neva

    Oct 3rd, 2005

    The idea that you can’t resell a freebie is a very ardently held culturla norm. That doesn’t make it *right* — it just makes it very ardently held. Opposing and finding something suspect it in isn’t “hate,” it’s just opposing it and finding something suspect in it. I find in SL, mainly Europeans (and leftist/utopian Americans) are the ones upholding this value. Others simple don’t hold it to be a value (Americans mainly). People get extremely zealous about this on the forums. Too bad, that doesn’t make it “right”. For me, trying to dictate what happens to an item after it leaves your possession is the worst kind of unjustified social control. In a free economy, you can’t do that. I find that those getting hysterical about the resale of freebies in fact get angry about the resale of anything — that even if I take an item that cost $100 and resell it for $75 or $100 or $110, that’s considered “taboo” and even “a ripoff”. Obviously, Ebay would never have gotten its start if Americans held the view that there was something tacky or immoral or even criminal about resale of used goods. Indeed, if you look long enough on Ebay, you’re likely to find things that were original free set for sale as well.

    In SL, this Old Europe cultural norm is also burnished with the bid for reputational enhancement which forms the core of the grand SL game. People giving away free stuff may be willing to forego the cash for it, but then they want credit in the form of gratitude or posratings literally on their profiles or the invisible posrating of respect in the community. Sorry, but I don’t feel required to give that, and to help you play that game. Just because you spent time putting something in a package doesn’t give you the right to control what happens to it after it leaves your hands.

    Joe Public’s example merely proves my point. This girl gave away something free, but expected a posrate. That’s often the way. And it’s often the case that the stuff people give away for free is junk. It’s not valued. That’s what makes it doubly humorous that people giving away stuff get so angry about what you decide to do with it (throw it away or resell it) — it’s not worth much, so what’s the big deal?

    I refuse to be bullied by those wielding Old Europe cultural norms. This is America, as they say. You cannot *force* me to do a certain thing with your item *you gave away for free*. You can try — through social opprobrium, through blasting on the forums. But it is not unlawful and not against the TOS. To sic Lindens on someone and get those Lindens even to unlawfully force an item put out on property back into inventory is a serious offense.

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