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volume 1, issue 7

Today in loonygames:

New!! The Archives have been cleaned up, fead links fixed, and printable versions restored! Also, don't miss the new comments on the front page!

Livin' With The Sims: theAntiELVIS explores the wild and wacky world that is Will Wright's The Sims, asking the inevitable quesiton, "is The Sims the first step toward a virtual life where everyone is Swedish?"

Pixel Obscura: Josh Vasquez on Omikron: The Nomad Soul.

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Inside Raven Software: Our definitive history of the company behind Hexen, Heretic and other classics.

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The Community Summit

Bobbi: Would you have done the HUGE Shogo writeup if you weren't selling it as well, though?

Idoru: Bobbi, nice point

jschuur: of course we would. it also gave us the chance to display 3 ad banners with one article and was content we thought people wanted to see

Fargo: If Sierra would let me play through Half-Life? Hell yah.

ChrisDay: how do you answer to the arguments that it is a conflict of interest though?

NetGuy: If you do something like that it's important to stay open minded. if you guys are selling a game like Shogo (random example), it's important that you still provide a fair review to the community.

Fargo: Now, the argument that it's a conflict of interest is a good one. So, the only answer is to look at a site in the long term, see what they're doing, and determine if they're selling out or providing services.

NetGuy: yah it may mean putting "...this game really sucked. CLICK HERE TO BUY AT THE PQ STORE" at the end of the review, but it's fair nonetheless ;)

Fargo: We'll end up doing that sooner or later. Inevitably. In the meantime, we're providing a store to sell games we think people will like. I think people will like Shogo.

jschuur: stomped did it before us

Bobbi: PlanetQuake started the trend with hosts...do you think you're going to start another one with the store?

ChrisDay: Bobbi, I think SoftMania was able to do it fairly well, well before PlanetQuake. I don't see anyone else in here wanting to start an online store though, am I right?

jschuur: evil avatar was quick to add an amazon button

Idoru: wrong

Fargo: An online store lets us continue to provide services (as well as being a service in and of itself) without charging people elsewhere.

NetGuy: i think it'd be neat but quake2.com doesn't have the manpower anyway, so that's kind of out of the question.

jschuur: ogr and cdmag.com are now part of the same company

Aurora: nope, too much work and I would rather have fun reviewing games and playing then dealing with paperwork

Fargo: Because ad banners are so difficult to make money off of, I'd be shocked if we didn't see more online stores all over. It's very much a step in the process of building a community.

Redwood: I don't think I'd trust reviews from a site that had a link so you could then purchase the game from them. It seems very different from a game mag with an ad for the same game they review.

Fargo: Why different?

Redwood: not sure what you mean

Fargo: You know that people BUY magazine covers, right?

jschuur: a magazine gets their money regardless of how many copies are sold of a game in an ad

ChrisDay: not to attack anyone, but is journalistic integrity considered heavily when debating whether to open an online store at a gaming site?

Fargo: Yeah. Lots of heavy debate, as a matter of fact. ;)

ChrisDay: good to hear Dave ;D What tipped the scales though?

Aurora: When i review a game, if the company who made it sells it online, I link to their sales page, but I wouldn't take a profit for making a sale for them

Redwood: I know, that's not what I meant. That's a bit different

bwernicke: Well, in my opinion, PlanetQuake is doing it how it should be done, they started with GameSpy, which was a major success, and helped provide funding for a whole lot of ventures and resources. Now with the money made from that venture, they are starting others, would any of us do it differently if we could? I know I would not.

Idoru: Ya, PlanetQuake has a sound business plan

Fargo: The fact that we didn't want to hike up the price of GameSpy in order to pay for more bandwidth. The fact that people WANT to buy games online.

bwernicke: People want to buy as much as possible online IMO Not just games

ChrisDay: agreed

NetGuy: not me i'd rather buy at the store, but that's just because i'm impatient.

loonyboi: sure, I agree with that. but to review the same products "objectively" when you profit from their sales is questionable.

Fargo: What if you have a store that sells everything, and mixed good/bad reviews of various games? Better yet, your store allows people to rate the games themselves?

Redwood: Fargo: I like that idea

jschuur: same here. i'd never buy online through pre orders. i have an eb down the block at work

ChrisDay: laziness has overtaken the online community, like it or not.... capitalizing on it is definitely sound, business-wise

Aurora: me too.. the gas to get to the store is less than Fedex shipping charges :)

Bobbi: To grab an example...PlanetQuake now hosts Flamethrower, which openly bashes PlanetQuake, among others. Are there ethics involved in hosting, and do sites need to consider these before offering hosting?

jschuur: i don't agree that flamethrower bashes PlanetQuake

NetGuy: there's an ethics to hosting already-hosted sites and there's a certain fine line that i'm sure nobody would cross when it comes to a certain type of site requesting hosting

jschuur: netguy: people leave for various reasons. some see other opportunities elsewhere, some didn't like the service at their curent host, some didn't think they had a chance of beinghosted somewhere else. not to say that it's a reason to go after hosted sites because of that

ChrisDay: there are definitely ethics involved when hosting any site. as long as he's not bashing other hosted sites at PlanetQuake I see no problem with it

Idoru: ethics for hosting consist of three things, no porn, no warez and nothing illegal and try and keep people happy that you host

Aurora: I would think so. Do you really want to belong to a network which doesn't support you and your site?

bwernicke: Bashing sites are a fad, and only a small handful will survive. If you look at the people running them, chances are they have been failures at running a conventional website, and to take revenge on the world, they launch a slam site which gets alot of traffic because the content is controversial

ChrisDay: what about the ethics of "stealing" sites though? does anyone truly believe this is a common problem?

NetGuy: yeah

Aurora: how can you steal a site?

jschuur: you make an offer. sometimes with money

Idoru: i think the site stealing runs in cycles

Aurora: I mean really?

ChrisDay: Aurora, I know, I was going to make that point :)

Aurora: the site that hosts it doesn't own it

Idoru: sometimes it is crazy and then everybody agrees for awhile not to do it

jschuur: i think people sometimes get the impression a site steals when it's not and that causes them to want to retaliate

bwernicke: In my opinion, stealing sites is fair game, if you can offer someone a better arrangement then they currently have, and if you yourself want to grow and expand, you have to go for it... as ruthless as some people think it is

NetGuy: i disagree. hosting sites for the majority of the bigger sites means revenue

Aurora: And if you gave your hosted sites what they needed to keep it going and stay happy, you wouldn't have to worry about them moving to another network

Fargo: Well said.

Redwood: but sometimes people just get greedy and want more money even if they are in a good place

ChrisDay: I think something that goes along with "stealing sites" is "stealing" workers from other sites

NetGuy: and in my ethical opinion, it's just rude to steal stuff like that, actively.

Aurora: Then make sure your site crews are happy

loonyboi: a site's creator goes where he likes. if you can't keep him happy, then how is that stealing?

Redwood: by enticing them to leave

ChrisDay: Jason, I don't see it as stealing, but the hosts who end up with the short end of the stick seem to

bwernicke: Netguy? So? Some sites want that revenue, and need it to survive

ChrisDay: NetGuy, do you feel it's rude to "steal" them for non-profit purposes though?

NetGuy: i mean if sites leave of their own free will then who are we to stop them? but actively going behind the backs of other sites to steal hosted sites is pretty wrong.

jschuur: in the end a site moves out of it's own decision

bwernicke: heh, I understand the frustration NetGuy, I just think it will never change from what it currently is

NetGuy: yah but if we're sitting here talking about ethics, is it real "ethical" to entice other sites? even if it means lying to the site about their current host (which happens)?

bwernicke: Entice?

ChrisDay: they aren't offering money or prostitutes or anything (in most cases), simply other services that their current hosts cannot offer

Fargo: What does "Entice" mean? To offer better services?

ChrisDay: Fargo, I believe that's the definition we're going by

Redwood: Offer better services, offer money, etc.

bwernicke: If I can offer someone something you cant, then why would I not do that? It would be for the good of the fan base after all

NetGuy: ChrisDay: there are very few "non profit" hosted sites anymore. if they're a hosted site running your ad banner, they're no longer "non profit"

Fargo: If that's the definition, then why is it bad? (Now, lying is a seperate and personal issue, one we can probably all agree on.)

ChrisDay: I mean if the host is non-profit NetGuy, sorry

Redwood: netguy: to the people running the hosted site it may be non-profit, but to the host, yes for profit

NetGuy: that kind of makes me wonder why a non-profit host would be interested in taking a hosted site from a host that depends on them for profit

ChrisDay: because they can offer the site better services

NetGuy: with the ultimate goal of becoming profitable.

jschuur: offering money is a short sighted biz idea. hands up who isn't at gamesmania anymore ;)

Aurora: joost? what did you mean by that?

jschuur: i mean the web site business is too young for people to know how much money they can afford to pay out

Bobbi: Joost..you dont think paying hosted sites is a possibility?

bwernicke: Look, hosting sites is a damn big job... first off, it takes people to support their every whim, not to mention all the free space and bandwidth that you are giving them, not to mention popularity. Chances are some of these mod sites and such could not even exist, nor would want to, without a big name host

NetGuy: you don't hand out better services for free

jschuur: and besides (see my planetcrap.com posting). how do you decide who still does enough work to merrit the amount agreed on

NetGuy: eventually the site you stole will become profitable. it's just the nature of things.

jschuur: we must have at least 500 people contributing to our sites

Fargo: Paying sites will be an option for the larger players in the near future, depending on how the market goes over the next few months.

jschuur: how do i decide who's worth paying?

Aurora: not at all. Whats wrong with giving your hosted sites a percentage of ad revenue fromt he click throughs their site does.. you dont have to promise a monthly amount. Wouldn't any site who runs your network ad be worth paying?

ChrisDay: for larger sites that's a possibility, however for smaller sites, the tax problems there are too numerous to consider it

Fargo: Because a site may not be paying for itself, much less earning a profit.

blitz: the ad market is actually dwindling acroos the net statistically

Fargo: Yes, but some creative solutions are possible.

loonyboi: 'rora: you assume they get revenue from clickthrus.

jschuur: what's wrong is that when people stop investing the same amount of effort in a site than they did, they don't deserve the same amount of mponey

Redwood: that's why a percentage of income from their page is a good idea. No work=less money

NetGuy: i like to think that they would exist because of the ingenuity of their mod, not because of their hosted site but i see what you mean anyway

ChrisDay: yes, but that depends on their hosting situation

bwernicke: but without a large audience, some free space, etc, it is a tall task. Some of our MOD's that we host consume 60Mb of more of disk space do you know what that would cost on an ISP, etc? Assuming they would even let you?

ChrisDay: stuck on Geocities, most of them will fail to exist. you see a lot of "Oh crap, our mod is almost done, now we need a real host"

NetGuy: maybe, but there are a lot of sites that have done well for themselves without having a big host like SteQve's No-Frill's Quake mods. that site did relatively well, because of ingenuity, not because of hosting.

jschuur: he didn't want to get hosted by anyone and had content. a good example, indeed

ChrisDay: it costs a small fortune to host many sites

Idoru: heck, we have sites that consume over 300megs

jschuur: bodyshop, idoru?

NetGuy: yah there's no doubt that hosted sites drain resources, but that's the gamble you take when you throw your hat into the hosting ring ;)

Redwood: true

bwernicke: Take a site like BDP that we used to host... they released a 15Mb Duke TC that got 40,000 downloads last year

Idoru: of that type, repositories

bwernicke: how the hell do they afford that?

ChrisDay: right, without a large host, that site would be impossible or very expensive

Bobbi: How essential is the domain name?

Fargo: Crucial.

NetGuy: very

ChrisDay: Bobbi, totally essential

Fargo: Gets early mindshare.

jschuur: branding is important

Aurora: very

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Credits: Illustration © 1998 Mike Sanzone.This interview is © 1998 Stephanie Bergman & its participants. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited and totally not cool.