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Society's Seamy Underbelly
Googleshng - April 16 '02- 2:00 Eastern Standard Time
The air here is sweet, and pure, and no one may pass without my permis-
wait. That doesn't have ANYTHING to do with my getting an air conditioner put in. Oh well. Oh, and before
we get going today, da boss wants me to print something here. Kinda like how your favorite show sometimes
gets prempted for political news. Of course unlike TV, you can just scroll past this.
Before we begin, a few words from The Management.
Note to the readers:
Chris Jones, from the former GIA, has mailed us repeatedly urging that
we post what he has to say--to set the record straight on what happened
to the GIA. As a service to readers of both sites, whom we know were
numerous, we will now fulfill his request.
Also, in the spirit of the GIA, what is said below is explicitly the opinions and thoughts of Mr. Tidwell, and does not reflect the views of RPGamer as an entity.
There is a lot of talking back and forth between Chris and our slime. We
have made it as clear as we can who says what.
Hey Googlething is RPGamer in danger of shutting down like The GIA?
Uh, no. We're successful enough to be self-sustaining, and even if
we didn't, we have enough dedicated people on staff that would be
willing to take a second job just to pay server costs.
The above conversation seems to be a bit biased, so I'd like to add
my own thoughts to the matter, if I may:
Uh, it would be impossible of being biased in that situation. RPGamer
makes enough money to pay its own server costs, thus is not in danger
of shutting down. I don't see anything up for interpretation there.
Two things: you're de facto impling that we weren't successful enough
to be self-sustaining (which is not the case: we were TOO successful
to be self-sustaining, and there's a world of difference there). Also,
you've effectively implied that we didn't have enough people on our
staff that'd be dedicated enough to pay server costs out of our own
pocket (a sentiment that's been echoed on your homepage at least
once). I've already addressed that last point.
Both of these are biased, in the sense that they're a very
unfavorable interpretation of what happened to the GIA, and in that
the entire thing reeks of a holier-than-thou attitude that's been
remarked on by many people.
Everyone is going to be biased, so the idea that either of you think
you're not biased is a waste of breath on both sides.
As for a holier-than-thou attitude, maybe we'll just keep reading the post. :P
1) By all accounts that I've seen, the GIA was FAR more successful
than RPGamer, both in terms of visitors to the site, and in terms
of total finances raised. Our fundraising speaks for itself,
I will agree with the fundraising efforts wholeheartedly. RPGamer has yet
to obtain $10,000 USD from its readership. We have, however, evolved with
the times and are making money in other ways.
OK, I hate to come off cruel, but you just basically said, "We're more
profitable than you, as you can clearly see by the fact we had to beg
our readers for thousands of dollars in donations."
There is a SERIOUS flaw in your logic there. 8)
Read what I said: "total finances raised" is not the same thing as
"profitability". But if you want to play the profitability game, we
can do that too: in my first 9 months as GIA staffer, I was paid a
salary in excess of $1500, and the same goes for just about everybody
else that worked more than an hour a day. Multiply that by at least 8
active staffers, remember that the site was running for 18 months
prior to that, and was profitable much of that time, add in that the
GIA also paid for things like hotel rooms at E3 and, in some cases,
air fare and laptops, and you've got a HUGE cash outlay, all of which
translates into an enormously profitable website, at the time.
RPGamer also had the same boost of excess funds, back when net advertising
was expensive, and the dot com world was bursting at the seams. Staff
received paychecks just as you did. I think I also paid for the E3 hotel
rooms one year. it was indeed a frivolous time for all.
The big difference is: you have two sites that spent a whole lot of money
on themselves. Later on, one site pleaded for thousands of dollars for
survival, and the other site that's never asked for anything.
In comparison, Thor Antrim quit RPGamer and had a blood feud for
years with Mike Tidwell over the matter of a mere $100 in back pay.
I believe it was more or less one year, and honestly, the largest problem
with the entire 'fiasco' was communication. Thor quit because was having
housing problems, making internet access a secondary concern. RPGamer
always had the money to pay Thor, but it took some considerable time to
do so. In that time, Thor lashed out, because he was angry. I also believe
he retracted much of that page update quite a while ago. I have talked to
Thor many times since then, and there is hardly a 'blood feud', nor any
feud at all.
I don't know for certain, but I have it on pretty good authority that
almost all RPGamer staffers have always been paid jack/squat. Nothing
wrong with that, of course, but I'd far rather the GIA live one year
as a lion than the rest of its life as a sheep.
Currently, and for the forseeable future, yes. We've volunteers. Even I
make my paycheck under someone else. We'd rather stay free for our readers,
than fill our wallets and enjoy free laptops.
and like Andrew Vestal said, we were averaging about 36,000 unique
visitors a day for the past couple of months: care to print RPGamer's
Well, we don't run daily stats, so I can't give you that number, and
dividing the monthly uniques by 30 doesn't work obviously. Still, the
best rough estimate I can make is an awful lot higher than 36000 for
what it's worth.
To be blunt: nonsense. I highly, highly doubt that. But very well,
let's compare numbers you _do_ have access to: what are your monthly
visitor, hit, and data transfer stats?
If we had asked you for exact detailed stats of the last month for GIA
while it was active, I would be shocked if you were allowed to give them out.
Since all that matters in hosting costs is the number of bytes sent to the
hosting router, we'll stick with that number:
Data transferred: 1.394 Tbytes
Average data transferred per day: 46.053 Gbytes
(stats from analog)
2) It was, inarguably, our very success that killed us. The
bandwidth to support those 36,000 daily visitors isn't cheap by
any stretch of the imagination - it's well beyond what any one person
would be able to pay for something as a hobby, and represents more
than a group of self-supporting college students could reasonably
hope to come up with between themselves. The 'net economy simply
isn't in good enough shape to support a really big site: IGN et al
still aren't profitable, and they're bending over backwards to make money.
Yes, when you're putting out a few GB of bandwidth a day at a decent
speed, it costs a small fortune, and yes, most ad servers pay squat
these days, but if you can snag the right deals, it actually IS still
possible to pay server costs with ads, or at least come close enough
not to hyperventilate.
I'm not saying that one way or another: I am saying that by my
estimates, you guys probably have to pay about one quarter of what we
did for bandwidth (~$1100 a month), which is a considerably easier
figure to handle. I could have afforded that on my old salary, come to
think of it.
I think the stat clearly shows we are far larger than you anticpated. RPGamer
has put out over a TB of data month after month for quite a while now. We
are actually looking to try and decrease the amount, since as you have
mentioned, bandwidth isn't cheap. Again, we're looking for solutions that
don't require donations from readers.
3) I don't know how much time you guys spend working on RPGamer, but
the GIA unquestionably was a second job for just about everyone
involved. Just about everybody who was seriously involved with the GIA
was a full-time (8-10 hours a day) college student, and people put in 3-4
nightly hours on the GIA beyond that - none of us could have gotten
a THIRD job and still, y'know, slept at night.
That more or less describes the average RPGamer staffer too, although
some manage to juggle in a job, and then there's some of us who put
quite a bit more time in than 3-4 hours. I don't sleep at night
though, so you have a bit of a point there.
I'd just as soon not get into a pissing match over time pressure and
dedication to websites - suffice it to say, your comment about "second
jobs" made no sense at all.
If I was getting money for working on RPGamer, I'd spend a whole lot more
time at it. ... I don't think my wife would like that, as she feels I'm
obsessed with RPGamer already.
Lastly, I'd just like to point out that when I ran Double Agent, I
prided myself on giving all sides of
the story, especially as it related to RPGamer.
appreciate the same
courtesy from you, but it is, as ever, your show.
Ah yes. I seem to recall people pointing that column out back when
that was first blown way out of proportion. Got various people at
RPGamer complimenting you I seem to remember.
[snip more DW7 discussion]
Do you really want to watch Goog and Chris argue over this again? I don't
either. RPGamer made a mistake, and RPGamer made an apology.
What's done is done.
[more arguing about who's right and who's wrong. it's all really boring.]
So, there you have it. Chris, in his own words, explains in great detail
why the GIA has closed down. I don't expect a post something like to become
commonplace in Q&A, but for a site's passing, I wanted to make this exception.
Good luck to those who are continuing on the new site.
So, what have we learned from all of this? Well, we've learned RPGamer's bandwidth usage. We've learned
that the staff of some websites would rather collect donations from readers before working for free.
We've learned that explaining why your site isn't going to be shutting down can make people whose sites
recently did think you're picking on them and flip out. And we've learned that my boss can tell me to
stick an e-mail conversation into a column when I'd rather just be answering questions.
Oh, and for those who had trouble following that, Chris Jones there sends me a letter, I reply, he replies
to that, da boss replies to that.
And now back to your regularly scheduled column.
Greetings (your minions sing) Googleshng
I have to ask but what is the deal with the minions? Why do you need
people with mastery of different weapons? Is it what I think it is in that
you have stolen the five weapons of Darkstar for some reason? Would you need
the help with my summoning of cute animal characters that I rule over and the
singing Gregorian monks? Is someone going to make a skectch of you with your
minions? Now what I want is my own set of fangirls so I need to ask how do I
do that? Is there someone who would grant me the power? Now for a serious
question, what day will the Arc the Lad collection come out?
The Arc will come out, tomorrow! Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there'll be ARRRRRRC!
Ahem. Actually, tomorrow's just the shipping date, so your local store probably won't have it until
As for the whole minion thing though, it just kinda started spontaniously, but hey, when you have minions
with weapons, it's nice to have some variety.
I'm utterly confused about this Xenosaga mess now. I've read on a lot of gaming sites how Xenosaga is COMPLETELY unrelated to xenogears. Now, I find this hard to believe because the characters look so much like them, because i've seen you and others post about it addressing the ship at the beginning of Xenogears, and since I assumed that Xenosaga 1 would be Xenogears.............
However, 2 columns ago in Chesh's Q&A someone wrote in a quickie about them not being on the same timeline, and Chesh posted it, and said that he flubbed up saying that they were (at least i assume) but then the next Q&A he completely ignored that, and acted like they were on the same timeline again......
Please help me sort this out...... :*(
Second, you say that the brain usually beats the hand, but do you remember who wins if the penis and the brain play chess?
OK, here's the story. The people who came up with the story of Xenogears sketched out a HUGE rough timeline
in 6 chapters, then made the 5th chapter into a game. Now though, they actually have the time to go back
and make a game out of all 6 chapters. However, now that they're fleshing them out a bit more, that timeline
is getting some more details stuck into it, some of which will probably conflict a little with Xenogears
in the sense of "Hey! I don't remember THAT character standing around when Xenogears flashed back to this!"
So, it's still the same timeline, but there will be a couple inconsistancies until Xenogears gets remade
to smooth'em all out.
Picking on people
You said that Sony already has plans for the PS3, and that they are
stupid. What are they!? I love to point and laugh when companies make
stupid decisions *coughmicrosoftcough*.
OK, keep in mind you're getting this 3rd hand, so it might be a tad distorted, but basically the plan
is that every PS3 in the world is linked up to a network to share processor time with eachother. So, when
you're done playing a game, you take the game out, and put it away, while leaving your system on and
hooked up to a dedicated broadband connection so that someone a few blocks down will have the game they're
playing run faster. Not only is this a SERIOUS misjudging of the average gamer's power usage, bandwidth,
and general altruism, it also means games would be constantly speeding up and slowing down at random,
and slowing down SEVERELY if a router went down. PLUS the PS2 here has plenty of processor speed, it's
all the other stats that suck.
Speaking of Microsoft though, since the Xbox was released in Japan like a month ago, it has had far fewer
new sales than the Dreamcast. You know Microsoft, when you're being outsold by dead hardware, it's really
time to just throw in the towel.
Also, have you played Tales of Destiny 2? I'm currently suffering
through its plot of badness in which "save the world" is uttered before
anyone in the party even knows the world is in danger. Why can't we see
more small-scale salvation plots in RPGs, like the Suikoden series?
They only have the hero saving a country.
I've always wondered that. Almost every single 16-bit and up RPG in the universe has you saving the world from apocolyptic
destruction at the end. It was pretty interesting to have that sort of a story when that first started,
but it really loses all impact when you do it all the time. Make a series of games where you're just out
to avenge/rescue/defeat someone, and then cap it off with a world destruction type thing. THEN it'd be
One last thing: what color slime are you?
I've never claimed to be a slime... although I once had an RPG character who was, and it was purple...
as is my little avatar in yon cheesy comics, so I guess you can run with that.
Getting back to this...
re: Reno x Rude
Actually, you got it all wrong. Five people will write the doujinshis, five RABID fangirls will READ the doujinshis, and the rest of us fangirls will just sit in a corner making circles with our fingers on the floor with white streaks painted on our faces while we wonder what the hell got into the rabid fangirls.
Yaoi confuses me so.
Card Captor Ribby, who, for the record, thinks that Cait Sith would look very cute with Clamp-style wings and speaking in Osaka-ben.
Heh. For the record, just a couple hours after I posted that, someone was waiving said doujinshi in my
Someone actually paid money to be rid of it.
Yesterday you printed a letter from a guy who smashed a Lunar game and asked if he could put Humpty Dumpty back together again. You correctly stated that it wasn't bloody likely even if you had like all the king's horses and all the king's men (paraphrase). I would suggest to the owner of the broken CD that he check his manual. Many companies will furnish new game discs as long as you return the damaged copy to prove you have a license. It may cost $5 and postage (or some similar amount), but it's quite a bit cheaper than postage. I've done this before when I bought a rare game that was used and scratched.
As for my question, what are you playing right now? Even though there seems to be a million RPGs coming out all the time, we seem to be moving into a slow period for soopah doopah titles (It's not Xmas). I've gotten the Dungeon Seige, but I'm playing that online with pals, so have to limit my play to when they are on so I'm not monstrously over-leveled.
P.S. - Feel free to snip this as it may make the letter unprintable. Also, I'm surprised Freedom Force, a tactical RPG featuring superheroes, is not being covered by RPGamer. It has levels and powers and a storyline and stuff, also it plays like a tactical RPG (although it is active-time rather than turn based like Baldur's Gate) so I would think it would be covered, even with RPGamer's emphasis on console games.
The Lunar bit should come as good news.
As for what I'm playing at the moment, well, I REALLY should be getting around to finishing Golden Sun,
but for some reason I've been playing the Zelda Oracles, and someone just recently sent me a free copy
of the infamous SaGa Frontier. I'm rather disappointed honestly. I mean, I was expecting the most horrible
RPG I've ever seen, but this isn't too bad at all! As long as you don't decide to play the mage first
like almost everyone tells me they did, it's even pretty straightforward where you should be going at
any given time!