Jason Appleton Responds to Controversy
MMORPG.com: It's been a pretty turbulent week on our forums between you and the posters. Let's hear your side of the story. How did things get out of hand?
Jason Appleton: Well, honestly when I read down the various posts from people bashing me or the game, many of them are generally the same people I'm used to seeing. Some have either attempted to join the team and were turned down, are people who have attempted making their own game but stopped for any number of reasons etc. They have a grudge, or an agenda of some kind. Mix that with the fact that on a discussion forum online, they can enjoy the anonymity of such a setting and never have to be accountable for anything they say regardless of how untrue or slanderous it may be and nothing is to stop them from throwing a bunch of rubbish at a wall and hope something sticks. The most recent slanderous effort came from a forum member who I have not actually seen before and literally every sentence he posted about me or the game was either a very twisted version of something I said or a complete lie. He would hide a question under 3 pages of assumptions, weighted speculation or complete insults and when his questions were answered, he just continued on as if I said nothing. At first it was funny, I just thought the guy was nuts or something until I realized the guy was really on a mission to create as much drama as possible.
MMORPG.com: In general, it's always been my thought that "one should not feed the trolls". Did you ever think that at some point, you were just fueling a fire that didn't need to be stoked?
Jason Appleton: Here is what I've learned. There are people on forums with absolutely nothing to do. They are waiting around for the next game to assume their interest. In the meantime, the more mean spirited people enjoy rallying troops in favor of the damning of whoever is worth trying to tear down at that time. Facts, integrity, honesty, all go out the window and every effort is made to just achieve their goal, which is to piss people off while seeing how many people they can get converted into believing whatever it is they are putting out there. We are an indie team working very hard to build something that MMO gamers like ourselves will enjoy for a long time. Right now, we are an easy target. We have achieved something many others wish they could but haven't for whatever reason. I'm not saying this as a means of being cocky at all. I never started this project to try and "beat" anyone. I started this project out of passion for the genre. I'm a businessman with no game development experience and I was able to attract enough attention to generate a solid interest from people to aid us in funding our development. As yet, we still don't have a completed game and until we have gotten far enough to really show all of the great things we are working on, there is a wide open gate allowing the idle hands to have a place to play. It's been a little over a month and we have made some solid progress so far and already had some setbacks which were resolved such as switching from Unity to Hero Cloud. So far the switch has turned out to be a blessing as a great deal of what we were having issues with in using Unity are things built right into the Hero engine. In any case, I've just realized that the moment I put myself out there as a developer, I suddenly became an enemy to anyone who has ever wanted to do what I'm doing but never did for whatever reason and a friend to everyone who shares my vision and excitement and only stands to gain with my success in the project.
MMORPG.com: A lot of the questions players are raising are coming from those who have backed the project. What do you want to say to them here about the progress being made on Greed Monger?
Jason Appleton: I have to disagree with you. The people who have backed Greed Monger aren’t stirring up trouble on MMORPG.com. They are an active part of the Greed Monger community. Out of all of the threads and posts on MMORPG.com. I've only seen two people who have said they were backers pose any questions of concern and both stemmed from the craziness others have posted with mixed up, bent or completely untrue statements. To remedy some of the ongoing questions and curiosity of the community, we have added a new category to our forums specifically for our development updates. We are posting daily updates on what was done that day to better keep everyone informed as to what we are doing and plans for next steps etc.
A lot of questions have come up due to us switching from Unity to Hero, whether or not we will in fact have a subscription as opposed to the original plan of a Free to Play Game and whether or not we will have a cash shop. To put things into perspective, when using the Unity Engine the plan was to launch with our own servers and make the game free to play while keeping the game going by means of revenue generated from player parcel sales. However, we ran into some issues because in order for GM to be seamless, we needed to use software that worked with our current network infrastructure. In exchanging some emails with the company that puts this software out, we came to find out that not only is that software not available yet, but they are looking for a license fee just short of 7 figures or a revenue share. None of the other software that allows us to establish a seamless world was going to work for us either in the grand scheme of things.
On top of that, there are some newly discovered issues in the Unity EULA which scared us a bit. Very early on, I had contacted Hero to explore options before selecting which engine to go with for development and I was told that based on my business model, it wouldn't work for them as their overhead for an MMO in Hero Cloud was such that they required a 30% revenue share and that they may require a percentage of any Kickstarter earnings. My revenue stream wasn't guaranteed and as such, there was a chance they may not cover their expenses. After the KS campaign finished and our finding many issues with Unity (for our needs anyway) we reached out to Hero again and it was explained that they have yet to ask for anyone’s Kickstarter earnings as they would rather see those funds go into completing a game and that though they prefer us having a subscription model, they do have systems in place for cash shops and the like and that we could work something out. So far, the people at Hero have been very supportive of our efforts. Support has been great and overall the team is very happy with the switch. Another option was to purchase a $75,000 source code license and a 7% rev share which would enable us to do whatever we'd like. So, after learning of all of this I decided to run a brief poll on our forums just to get an idea as to what the general thoughts were. It wasn't anything big or official and I locked it after a couple days as I was just looking to see what some key arguments may have been.
As of right now, nothing about our business model has changed. Our hope is that once we have gotten farther in our development, we will be able to make arrangements with Hero Cloud to keep our initial model. There are lots of options with Hero Cloud for monetizing the game in my opinion but it will be easier to define those options once we have more of the games systems in place and can show the business development team at Hero. That is ultimately a part of the problem with being a developer who wants to be active within the communities and give the players a voice. A question to the public today can easily turn into the end of the world as we know it tomorrow, so I'm learning, albeit slowly, hah, how to do both more effectively. Just because we ask some questions to get some general thoughts doesn't mean anything other than, we are looking to get some general thoughts.
MMORPG.com: Why pull back from all forums but your own now? Will you still be doing interviews, and will you still be putting out updates via sites like ours? As much as you've clashed with them, communities like ours are still the ones who will likely take interest in your game.
Jason Appleton: To be honest, I've always been a fan of MMORPG.com but until we have gotten further in our development, I don't see much changing as far as the forums are concerned. If the forums were more heavily policed against slander, accusations that are obviously not true and general trolling, then maybe, but I'm not a random anonymous L33Tgolas on the forums and when people make accusations against my integrity, honesty and the like, it’s much more damaging than two anonymous people arguing with each other. I take it very seriously. My reputation in any industry is important to me. The success I've found in MMA and the music business both stem from me being brutally honest, aggressive and maintaining certain integrity. People know where they stand with me and know I mean what I say. Many with nothing to hide or fear found that refreshing and it helped me establish many relationships. When you go from dealing with men trained to bust people up to dealing with anonymous forum warriors, it's a totally different arena I'm still not used to.
I saw the thread someone made linking everything bad anyone has said about me and some of my reactions to the harassing slander and calling it the "whole story about the game" and I just laughed. Where is the other 75% of the story? That and the fact that some of the other threads weren't completely deleted and I said to myself, this is a place where people can fill up 15 pages of complete rubbish, lies, accusations and the like and if you get pissed or try and clarify anything, it will be twisted, regurgitated in whatever way fits their agenda and then locked to remain forever. The problem I have with that is, it would take someone reading for 10 pages to find anything remotely true or useful and it serves no purpose. But it’s all still there to paint a picture that by no means accurately represents the game or our plans for the game. So, yeah, I figure it’s just better I stay away from forums. Me arguing with someone with an agenda serves nobody but them. A wise man once told me….haha, you never argue with an idiot. They will just bring you down to their level and beat you with experience. It's time I follow that advice.
MMORPG.com: Is there anything you'd like to say to those users you might have confronted (and been confronted by) in emails or private messages?
Jason Appleton: Honestly, it's just not worth anymore of my time. After learning about who he was and what he isn't, I just have to laugh at the internet. It's an amazing tool for those who want to be anything but who they are.
MMORPG.com: Looking back at the events of the past few days, would you still react the same way if given the chance now?
Jason Appleton: Who knows? Look, I just call things how I see them and I don't tend to pull punches. People think that because you are a developer that you have to act like a priest. I'm not a priest. I'm an indie game developer and I speak my mind.
MMORPG.com: Putting this event behind you, where is the game now? How goes development, and what's next for Greed Monger?
Jason Appleton: The game is shaping up in the new Engine. I just hired 2 new World builders to better help establish and flesh out our world mass. The UI has been implemented into the new engine, our assets from Unity are being converted and imported into Hero which is going very well and we starting to make some real headway. When we were using Unity we did complete our combat/spells and skill progression system which is going to need to be completely redone now which does stink because the system we had was dynamic and in that we were able to have a non-programmer (like myself) add skills or spells to the system. The housing tool which we have the first 2 climates worth of player housing completed in is in the process of being converted into Hero Script now which I can't wait to see active in the game world.
I mean, there is a lot going on right now and everyone is working away on their tasks. We are taking things a step at a time and making great progress. This game won't be built over night, but we are learning a lot and have some really great people working on it who are passionate about making it something they are proud to put their name on. In time, the naysayers will have nothing to naysay and the rest will have a great game they will be able to dive into.