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Toadwater  |  Toadwater Inn  |  Excalibus's Modern Tavern  |  Topic: The current state and future of Toadwater 0 Members and 2 Guests are viewing this topic.
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Lackey Twisti
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« on: November 26, 2017, 05:50:38 pm »

Hello dear Dwarves,

I have kept the status of Toadwater pretty close to the chest, really only mentioning the issues we face on IRC, but I feel you all deserve to know where we stand and what the future holds.

First, some background for those not current on the situation of the Toadwater administration: Travis Bates purchased the game from Dragoon (who purchased it from the original owner, Qill). Like Dragoon had his Matt Siegmann and Qill had his BoonZee, Travis has me as his tech guy. Travis did a lot of content, like the widely beloved peas, and he ran all the monitary aspects of the game - accepting and filling donations, as well as buying and paying for the physical server the game runs on. He also paid me, as I am not a part owner, just sort of an employee. My job was three parts - I wrote the "new" Java client after the old client stopped working, I added some less beloved content (irrigation ditches, lodestones, the physical part of the mines, the new world map), and finally, I did all the operational things: running the Linux server the game lives on, updating, configuring, fixing bugs, keeping things running in general.

It is not entirely clear what happened over the last two years. Travis was less and less present, and on multiple occasions forgot to pay for the server, leading to long outages that the more addicted of you no doubt remember. It was during the server outages that we first noticed that he would not even pick up the phone when he recognized my number or that of others associated with Toadwater. Around that time, he also stopped filling donations and paying me, although he talked to me a few times for short durations - little more than asking if I wanted to work even more on Toadwater, and promising to pay me "soon". As of today, he has not paid me in 18 months. He ignores all emails, voice messages and phone calls related to my outstanding payments or the status of Toadwater. As far as I can tell, I am the only one giving people their donation rewards, he just takes your money and ignores emails and PMs.

The last three times he forgot to pay for the server, he would always pay for it again and apologize after being called or mailed, but this time, we had half a dozen people call him and mail him daily until after a week he finally paid for the servers to come up again, but without responding in any other way. We can see that he receives the mails, he just ignores them. It seems pretty clear that this is most likely the last time he will pay for it - as of this post, he is already over a week late with the payments again.

This is where we are now. The owner of the game is totally absent, refusing to comment or talk to me or any of us. He is still accepting all your guys money, but like I said, he is not paying me and probably not going to pay the server again. I, for my part, am not willing to continue working for free for someone who treats me with so little respect as to not even respond to desperate emails. It's not that I mind working for free, I worked on Toadwater for free for years before Travis started paying me, and the payments never amounted to anything even someone in China would work for. But I don't feel right pouring what little free time and energy I have into a game with an owner who seems so determined to let it die, especially one who is basically stealing from me.

The other issue are the donations - how can I in good conscience keep up a website promising rewards and a game server for real life money donations when I know people will not get the rewards until they know to contact me and where I know the game server may go away any day ?

So this is where we stand now. I honestly don't know how to move forward, and would appreciate any input.

There are three options I see:

a) Let the game die through inaction and say screw the people who donate in the meantime. Since he stopped paying for the server again, it will likely only last another month or two, but may stop tomorrow due to our crappy current server.
b) Spend my time to keep the game up and running and disable the donation system in the meantime. Since he stopped paying for the server again, it will likely only last another month or two.
c) Take the game and run it myself. Other old players have indicated they would help and support getting a new server to run this game for as long as it has players left. This option seems a bit shady, since I don't actually own the game, but arguably, I'm owed more in back pay than the game is worth. As Travis still holds the domain and is apparently unable or unwilling to transfer it, we would eventually lose www.toadwater.com as our URL.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2017, 11:03:06 am by Lackey Twisti » Logged

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Crowbarella
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« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2017, 06:04:40 pm »

I say it's long past time for hostile takeover. If he stops paying for the domain as well, wouldn't we be able to steal it back?
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wood tier coach
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« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2017, 06:08:58 pm »

Probably C, unless you want to keep hope that Travis will turn around...
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caspian
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« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2017, 10:34:46 pm »


I've been giving this some thought.
Maybe it would help to have some assumptions spelled out.
I am not saying these are all necessarily true, but we have to start somewhere, eh?

1. Travis owns the game and we would be perfectly happy for him to continue doing that.
2. Travis is out of communication and we have no evidence  he will ever communicate with us again.
3. Having people donate money without knowing where the money is going is fraud.
      Granted, they would probably not sue Travis, but...still. It seems that has to be stopped pretty soon.
4. Cutting off the money stream might elicit a response. This response probably will not be positive.
5. As owner, Travis could just run the game into the ground or ignore it and let it die out of spite.
     More likely, I imagine, this is just a matter of life changes and this is more apathy.. which suggests ->
6. Attempts to interpret ownership (intellectual property, data, code, etc.) broadly would probably not be challenged.
     Which means ->
7. Attempts to duplicate the entire setup (game, data, etc.) somewhere else would probably work.
    Somewhere else since -- assuming total lack of communication -- the toadwater domain will be off limits.   

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Moving (to another domain) would mean a huge hit on old people coming back. Some might not be able to "find" the place again. I don't see any way around that.

Starting over -- code with new data -- will be starting from scratch. I imagine much of the old 'nostalgia' factor will be lost then. On the other hand, that is freedom to do whatever you wish creatively.

I guess there is the possibility of reverse engineering a sort of black-box set up -- recreate functionality with new code -- but my guess is that the way the code has been written leaves its explicit ownership up in the air. (That's assuming there was ever a legal challenge. )

I suppose you/we/someone could offer to buy it back from him...but in all probability that message would also go unanswered.


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Caspian the son of Caspian, lawful King of Narnia, Lord of Cair Paravel, and Emperor of the Lone Islands, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Lion
caspian
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« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2017, 10:36:00 pm »

To answer the original question:

I think a) is just "give up." I would rather that not happen...

I think b) is just "give up over a longer period." Probably the same as a just with a few more perks.

I like a modification of c) in some fashion.

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Caspian the son of Caspian, lawful King of Narnia, Lord of Cair Paravel, and Emperor of the Lone Islands, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Lion
Kaptain Kyzoku
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« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2017, 04:44:36 am »

I'm for option c).  I just can't stomach the thought of Toadwater going offline for good.
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Cotyledon
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« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2017, 07:07:41 am »

twisti,

If you have been doing code for so long and have not been paid, does Travis own the code?  It would seem to me that he cant own code he didnt pay for.  You agreeing to help him does not mean he owns your work.  If someone commissions an artist to do a painting but doesn't pay for it like agreed, then the artist still owns the art even if is in another person's home. 

I enjoy TW.  I have been playing as ispep on TW1 since August 2002.  I have been thru Qill and Dragoon and can tell several stories about each of them.  They were never absentee owners.  Maybe for a short time but not like this.

I will agree to whatever you deem necessary.  I would hate to see TW die.  If nothing new happens it will die from attrition.  TW needs new players and if it looks sketchy as to the game's continued existence, new players will not stick around long.

You have more insight into this than anyone else.  I follow where you lead.
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LumberJane
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« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2017, 09:38:19 am »

Caspian makes some very fine points. Rescue this thing. I wanna play again. Tongue
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Nicodemus
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« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2017, 11:53:59 am »

It is my sincere hope that this game continues.  I have played since 2007 and have some notable memories of events that have happened.  I would love to continue to play.
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« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2017, 08:17:40 pm »

I will email him as well. Hopefully we can put [twisti] in the driver's seat. Maybe he can turn TW into the next Minecraft Smiley
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wood tier coach
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« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2017, 11:48:07 pm »

With crashes occurring on what is basically a daily basis now, the sooner the better.

...come to think of it, seems like the game's been 2 1/2 years dry of any new content...unless Twisti has actually added anything aside from bugfixes since then.

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Nicodemus
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« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2017, 11:50:26 pm »

I don't think the game needs any new content, but a yearly event would be nice.  I still remember the Star Wars South Winter Island event, that involved lightsabers  Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2017, 12:52:00 am »

Keep emailing him and we do the best to keep this alive and much needed for it does be able to keep this game going.
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