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Cherek
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Our donation campaign is working!

Post by Cherek » 07 May 2024 05:08

Code: Select all

Greetings Genesisians,

As you probably know, in June last year we reopened the Donations Office in 
Sparkle and launched the Genesis Patreon.com page. So, how are things going? 
Is it worth donating? And if you are donating, is your money doing anything
good for Genesis?

Yes to both questions!

We currently have 42 Patreon supporters who kindly donate $294.5 (USD) per 
month to Genesis. All the money we receive are used for Facebook ads, and
it's pretty clear that it's helping our player numbers. I shared some data 
for the last quarter of 2023 in my State of the Donut post, and if you read 
that, you know it was looking pretty promising. Since then we have gained
more Patreons and increased our ad budget, so below I am sharing some nice
statistics for February, March, and April 2024.

Wait, what happened to January? Well, as many if you know, Greneth, who 
handled the Facebook ads, has been dealing with some RL issues and has 
taken an extended leave from Genesis. Due to my own super-busy RL during 
yuletide, I didn't have time to sort things out with our ads, so we did not 
run any ads for December and half of January. February was the first full 
month we ran ads in 2024, so therefore my statistics below doesn't include 
January. And don't worry. We didn't lose any money, because money earned in 
November and December are being used to increase our ad budget for the first 
half of 2024.

Okay, so let's move on to the statistics.

During February, March, and April 2024 we got exactly 1 900 new players.

Is that a lot? Or not? Well, in 2023, when we did not have Patreon or
Facebook ads, we got 768 new players. So, that's a whopping 141.12% 
increase!

However, we also need to get at least some of those new players to stay.

During February, March, and April 2024 we saw 184 players leave the 
tutorial and enter the real world. For the same time period in 2023 we saw 
135 players leave the tutorial. A 36.30% increase.

Hmmm. So, we got a lot of new players, but the increase in players 
leaving the tutorial was quite modest in comparision. Is that worrying?
No, I don't think so. And no, this is not me trying to spin this in a
positive way. The numbers ARE positive, and it makes perfect sense that
the increase in players leaving the tutorial will be much smaller than
the increase in new players created. It would be extremely surprising,
basically impossible, if that wasn't the case.

In 2023, most new players were likely people who actively searched for us, 
or had heard about us from a friend, or simply existing players creating new 
characters. It makes sense that a quite large potion of these players would 
stay long enough to leave the tutorial because they're already commited to
trying Genesis seriously, or are players already.

Now we're getting a lot of new players who have simply clicked an ad on 
Facebook. Of course the majority of these people will briefly try Genesis 
and then continue with their lives and forget all about us. That's how ads 
are supposed to work, though, and that's what we want to get from the ads. 
Ads bring a lot of traffic, but most of the clicks will not lead to a new 
permanent player. However, every now and then, it will, and that's great. 
That's a player we would never have gotten otherwise. And 36.40% increase 
is not bad at all. Any company would love that if it was their increase in 
profit.

Of course, we still have existing players creating new characters, and
people actively searching for us, or hear about us from a friend, etc. 
However, based on our negative trend in player numbers from previous years, 
this number (135) would likely not have gone up without the ads. Actually, 
it would probably have gone down a bit from 2023 without the ads. So, we can 
probably guess that at least 50 (or more) of the people who clicked on a
Facebook ad stuck around long enough to leave the tutorial. Hopefully some 
of they are still around. Actually, I am pretty sure they are...

...because... let's take a look at our average player numbers. 

As most of you probably know, we've had a declining trend for the last
couple of years. Actually, ever since 2017, which was when Google started
to shut down their Google Chrome App Store, which brought in a lot of new
players for us during the 'rebirth' years. Sure, we had a pretty big spike 
during 2020 that spilled over to 2021, but we can't rely on global pandemics 
to boost our numbers in the long run. Therefore it's very nice to be able 
to share these numbers:

+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
|             Comparing player activity over two time periods:               |
|                      A: Feb 01 2023 - Apr 30 2023                          |
|                      B: Feb 01 2024 - Apr 30 2024                          |
+-------+-------+-------+----------+--+-----------+-------+-------+----------+
| Hour  |   A   |   B   | % change |  | Weekday   |   A   |   B   | % change |
+-------+-------+-------+----------+  +-----------+-------+-------+----------+
| 00.00 | 30.06 | 35.22 |  +17.14 %|  | Sunday    | 25.97 | 30.02 |  +15.60 %|
| 01.00 | 25.91 | 29.85 |  +15.22 %|  | Monday    | 25.84 | 29.86 |  +15.57 %|
| 02.00 | 23.62 | 26.57 |  +12.47 %|  | Tuesday   | 26.10 | 30.03 |  +15.01 %|
| 03.00 | 22.52 | 26.74 |  +18.71 %|  | Wednesday | 26.08 | 29.98 |  +14.95 %|
| 04.00 | 21.98 | 25.78 |  +17.28 %|  | Thursday  | 25.56 | 28.89 |  +13.02 %|
| 05.00 | 20.40 | 23.36 |  +14.51 %|  | Friday    | 26.77 | 29.97 |  +11.94 %|
| 06.00 | 18.48 | 20.48 |  +10.85 %|  | Saturday  | 26.19 | 28.43 |   +8.54 %|
| 07.00 | 17.62 | 20.42 |  +15.84 %|  +-----------+-------+-------+----------+
| 08.00 | 20.52 | 20.80 |   +1.32 %|                                         |
| 09.00 | 22.59 | 22.34 |   -1.11 %|                                         |
| 10.00 | 24.01 | 24.48 |   +1.98 %|  +--------------------------------------+
| 11.00 | 24.19 | 25.45 |   +5.22 %|  |       - - - Field  Sizes - - -       |
| 12.00 | 24.64 | 26.08 |   +5.87 %|  | Number of days in Period A:      89  |
| 13.00 | 26.04 | 28.19 |   +8.27 %|  | Number of days in Period B:      90  |
| 14.00 | 28.10 | 30.78 |   +9.56 %|  +--------------------------------------+
| 15.00 | 30.11 | 32.87 |   +9.18 %|                                         |
| 16.00 | 29.95 | 35.25 |  +17.69 %|                                         |
| 17.00 | 30.31 | 36.73 |  +21.17 %|  +--------------------------------------+
| 18.00 | 31.69 | 38.31 |  +20.86 %|  |           Overall Summary            |
| 19.00 | 33.89 | 39.53 |  +16.62 %|  +--------------------------------------+
| 20.00 | 34.97 | 41.75 |  +19.37 %|  | Overall average for Period A:  26.08 |
| 21.00 | 35.10 | 43.08 |  +22.75 %|  | Overall average for Period B:  29.59 |
| 22.00 | 36.68 | 41.89 |  +14.21 %|  |                                      |
| 23.00 | 34.51 | 39.88 |  +15.56 %|  | Overall increase/decrease:  +13.48 % |
+-------+-------+-------+----------+--+--------------------------------------+

As I mentioned in my State of the Donut post, we saw a 5.27% increase in 
average player numbers for the months we ran ads in the fall of 2023. As you 
can see above, this trend has continued in 2024, with a 13.48% increase 
compared to the same time period last year. 

Now, other things than ads of course affect our player numbers as well, but
it's quite clear that our ads are having a positive, and continous, effect.

So, keep donating. It's working!

And if you have been on the fence about donating, well, you can jump off
the fence now.

To learn more about donating to Genesis, visit the Donations Office in 
Sparkle (you can't miss it), and/or visit https://www.patreon.com/genesismud

Finally, please note that donating is completely voluntarily. Genesis
will always be free to play and you can never gain any advantages in the
game by donating real money. However, if you do have a few coins to spare,
it'll help Genesis flourish. You can choose do donate as little as $1 per
month. Or, if you prefer, make a one-time donation of $1, $3, $5, $10, 
$25, or $50.

We've already seen 80+ players on the 'who-list' a few times this year. Can 
we reach 100+ before Xmas (tm).

Cherek, The Happy Keeper of Genesis


Dan
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Posts: 89
Joined: 25 Jan 2015 10:38

Re: Our donation campaign is working!

Post by Dan » 08 May 2024 11:57

Excellent news Cherek.

I've got some suggestions for how to keep players in the tutorial:

Work on the app/webclient improving its useability/the general interface of playing genesis.

New 'windows in the app'
- Questtracker, letting you see which quests you are currently 'on', e.g. which npcs have started you on xyz quests to begin with but maybe allowing for an interface at the orbs to actively track progress on those you wish to.
- Progress tracker, letting you see your progress today as some sort of 'experience bar' and how near you are to the next mortal level/stat increase. (untoggleable for myths ofcourse)
- Trigger package including the common package of triggers every1 already had to write like 'get all from corpse' after you kill shit, assist! in teams etc etc.. a common package of the most useable triggers.
- Color coding genesis in the client so you see more difference 'You killed.' in green etc.(maybe covered in the trigger package)

All in all, you have them 'in the door', now make fancy shit so they stay longer/enjoy their first 1 hour experience more!

Belegorn
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Joined: 01 Jan 2023 18:04

Re: Our donation campaign is working!

Post by Belegorn » 08 May 2024 20:24

It is very good news Cherek. I have also small suggestion. Maybe it would be possible and useful to change the newbe mark on who list for these newbe who already left the tutorial? Ot would help other players to take care about these who they can meet on Gen?

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Cherek
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Re: Our donation campaign is working!

Post by Cherek » 09 May 2024 02:42

Dan / Belegorn: Those are good ideas.

We haven't had anyone with the knowledge/skill/time/etc to work on the client for many years, though. Cotillion has made some smaller fixes/updates, and his time is very limited. I do agree that further improving it and making it shine even more would likely have a very positive effect when it comes to making new players stick around a bit longer. Now, trigger packages and color-coding and stuff might be something a skilled player could help with? Any volunteers? If someone has a very nice set of basic stuff, maybe Cotillion would be able to implement it as a default.

A newbie pin update that shows if a player is in the tutorial or outside it would definitely be convenient. And spare us some of the thousands of "Are you in tutorial or not"-questions :)

Makfly
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Re: Our donation campaign is working!

Post by Makfly » 09 May 2024 16:08

Cherek wrote:
09 May 2024 02:42
Dan / Belegorn: Those are good ideas.

We haven't had anyone with the knowledge/skill/time/etc to work on the client for many years, though. Cotillion has made some smaller fixes/updates, and his time is very limited. I do agree that further improving it and making it shine even more would likely have a very positive effect when it comes to making new players stick around a bit longer. Now, trigger packages and color-coding and stuff might be something a skilled player could help with? Any volunteers? If someone has a very nice set of basic stuff, maybe Cotillion would be able to implement it as a default.

A newbie pin update that shows if a player is in the tutorial or outside it would definitely be convenient. And spare us some of the thousands of "Are you in tutorial or not"-questions :)
Instead of, or supplementing the advertising - Maybe it is time to consider spending some of the money on paying people to complete certain coding tasks.
I know it runs a bit counter to the fact that coding for Genesis is a labour of love and nobody gets paid anything, and nobody has to pay anything. But in this current situation where the game have money, but very very few coding resources, perhaps it's time to look at the possibilities.
Using 'bounties' on coding tasks is nothing new, and maybe it could work for Genesis as well. Especially if it can be used on isolated tasks that require skilled coders.
Of course the price has to reflect having to code in LPC, but that itself is a good job to see if money couldn't help solve. These days using Large Language Models as a coding assistance are getting commonplace, and it should be possible to fine tune one for Genesis' version of LPC. If such a tool could be created, it would greatly benefit everyone coding for Genesis, be they paid coders or real Wizards.
Mortimor Makfly - Gnomish Xeno-Anthropologist

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Cherek
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Re: Our donation campaign is working!

Post by Cherek » 10 May 2024 04:16

Makfly: As you likely know, this has been suggested before, and been discussed several times. For me there are a few big problems with this idea, that makes me very skeptical of trying it. You did mention some of them already, but I’ll list them anyway, and expand on it a bit. Perhaps you or someone else can convince me that my fears and concerns aren’t so bad.

1. I think that the game is created and run by its players, and everyone are volunteers, is a nice selling point. The game is created by a mix of complete programming noobs and a few really good programmers, all contributing their free time because they love the game, not because they are paid. I think this is something nice, and that our quirky mix of different ideas and quality is appealing in itself. I think it’s both frustrating and charming that Genesis is messy and imbalanced because it’s made by an ever-changing group of volunteers who try to make a game, but not always succeeding. If we start hiring people, players will likely start expecting another level of balance and overall quality as well. Suddenly it’s not this charming little game made by volunteers.

2. What happens with current and future wizard’s motivation if we start paying people? Why are some developers of the game paid, and others are not? And what will it do for wiz applications in the future? Why apply to wiz for free, when you instead could apply to work as a paid freelancer on Genesis through Upwork, or whatever service we use to hire programmers?

3. Someone still has to spend their free time on managing the paid programmers. They need to be taught how Genesis works, need to be given project descriptions, deadlines, feedback, and their work needs to be reviewed,, etc, and it all needs to be done in a timely manner since we are paying them. Of course, those of us who manage the paid coders don’t get paid, but suddenly we need become a lot more professional, since now we are responsible for paid programmers. You can’t really come and go and work when you feel like it when you are responsible for people who get paid to work for you. Personally, I don’t think it sounds very appealing to be the paid programmers boss, since it sounds like a real job, not a hobby,

4. Even if we decide the three points above can be solved / is worth it, we still have another major problem. Genesis is no organization or company. Nobody owns Genesis, and we’re no legal entity. So, who is hiring people? Me personally? Sure, I could personally hire some freelancer to help me code something, but as soon as they see what it is, I think most serious freelancers would like me to show some sort of organization number, or VAT number, or similar, since Genesis definitely looks like more than a little personal project. I have no idea how it would work legally to pay them with the Patreon money either, without registering a company, so that has to be sorted out too.

As it is now with the Patreon, you’re simply donating money to me personally for my work as the creator of Genesis (I am not of course, but that’s what we tell Patreon). So, in a way I am already getting paid. We -think- that since you get nothing of value for donating, and we use all the money to pay for ads, and I make no profit, it would hopefully be classed as tax exempt donations for a hobby by the Swedish Tax Authorities, should they start asking questions. But that’s a big if, and my gut feeling says that it’s probably not really okay to do what I do. Personally, I am already taking enough of a risk with the Patreon stuff, I don’t want to start hiring people for a game that I don’t own the rights to as well. Someone else might be willing to, I don’t know, but the main reason that the Patreon didn’t happen sooner was that nobody wanted to put their name on it, until I decided to take a gamble and hope for the best.

5. Lastly, we also have our copyright issues to consider. We base a lot of the game on existing literature that we don’t really have the rights to use commercially. Right now, I doubt anyone cares, and I am not sure we’re even breaking any laws, but if we are collecting money from players and use it on paid developers, it definitely becomes more of a commercial game than just a little “fan project”, which is what Genesis might be classified as now. The idea that we are simply a non-profit fan project made by a bunch of friends is at least what we hope could save us, should someone complain. Once we hire people to develop stuff, I feel that Genesis becomes something new. Something bigger. Does it really make the risk with our copyright issues bigger? Or is it just an imagined risk? I don’t know. I don’t feel good about it, though.

If we post job ads, there is also a risk that the people we hire will start asking questions about if we have licensed Tolkien, Dragonlance, etc. I would if I was the freelancer, because I’d love to put on my resume that I’ve worked on a Lord of the Rings game. Might be a bit awkward to explain that we have no rights at all. Again, might be an irrational fear, but still, these are things I worry about since it’ll likely be me putting my name on it and personally hiring these people.

So… I think there are just too many potential problems and risks with hiring people. Maybe, -maybe-, it could work for very isolated tasks. Like when Gorboth hired Denis Loubet to do artwork for the old website (which I later repurposed for the new one), Things that are clearly detached from the game might be ok, but having someone work directly on the game or the client feels a lot more complicated and risky.

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Dakhor
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Re: Our donation campaign is working!

Post by Dakhor » 10 May 2024 10:41

All valid points....

How about simply using some of the ad money for a task that would not impact the game or its content but assist in the new player experience / retention.

Like updating / improving the web client?

/DaC

buddah
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Re: Our donation campaign is working!

Post by buddah » 12 May 2024 06:06

The webclient is too directly linked to the game. It would likely be legally safe to hire someone to teach the wizards or show examples of how to solve a specific type of issue that’s a hot topic in LPC and then slightly modify it for the game. However, then, on top of all that Cherek said, there’s a lot of issues regarding how money gets prioritized and all that jazz.

I would suggest expanding the toroid club to have a room dedicated to volunteer coders and give them either a token or title related to what they contributed to. Maybe put their name on a plaque or on a chair that only they can sit in and can enjoy a free imaginary donut a day that has like a random fortune or something.

Foori on the discord posted a really nice coloring system. It turns the name of imbued items into a moving rainbow. So pretty, so cool. Then from there, it was modified so it would change the names of particular people into colors that represent their guild. Ex: An RDA player’s name becomes a glowing red name. It feels like a graphics update!

Makfly
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Re: Our donation campaign is working!

Post by Makfly » 13 May 2024 08:57

Cherek wrote:
10 May 2024 04:16
Makfly: As you likely know, this has been suggested before, and been discussed several times. For me there are a few big problems with this idea, that makes me very skeptical of trying it. You did mention some of them already, but I’ll list them anyway, and expand on it a bit. Perhaps you or someone else can convince me that my fears and concerns aren’t so bad.

1. I think that the game is created and run by its players, and everyone are volunteers, is a nice selling point. The game is created by a mix of complete programming noobs and a few really good programmers, all contributing their free time because they love the game, not because they are paid. I think this is something nice, and that our quirky mix of different ideas and quality is appealing in itself. I think it’s both frustrating and charming that Genesis is messy and imbalanced because it’s made by an ever-changing group of volunteers who try to make a game, but not always succeeding. If we start hiring people, players will likely start expecting another level of balance and overall quality as well. Suddenly it’s not this charming little game made by volunteers.

2. What happens with current and future wizard’s motivation if we start paying people? Why are some developers of the game paid, and others are not? And what will it do for wiz applications in the future? Why apply to wiz for free, when you instead could apply to work as a paid freelancer on Genesis through Upwork, or whatever service we use to hire programmers?

3. Someone still has to spend their free time on managing the paid programmers. They need to be taught how Genesis works, need to be given project descriptions, deadlines, feedback, and their work needs to be reviewed,, etc, and it all needs to be done in a timely manner since we are paying them. Of course, those of us who manage the paid coders don’t get paid, but suddenly we need become a lot more professional, since now we are responsible for paid programmers. You can’t really come and go and work when you feel like it when you are responsible for people who get paid to work for you. Personally, I don’t think it sounds very appealing to be the paid programmers boss, since it sounds like a real job, not a hobby,

4. Even if we decide the three points above can be solved / is worth it, we still have another major problem. Genesis is no organization or company. Nobody owns Genesis, and we’re no legal entity. So, who is hiring people? Me personally? Sure, I could personally hire some freelancer to help me code something, but as soon as they see what it is, I think most serious freelancers would like me to show some sort of organization number, or VAT number, or similar, since Genesis definitely looks like more than a little personal project. I have no idea how it would work legally to pay them with the Patreon money either, without registering a company, so that has to be sorted out too.

As it is now with the Patreon, you’re simply donating money to me personally for my work as the creator of Genesis (I am not of course, but that’s what we tell Patreon). So, in a way I am already getting paid. We -think- that since you get nothing of value for donating, and we use all the money to pay for ads, and I make no profit, it would hopefully be classed as tax exempt donations for a hobby by the Swedish Tax Authorities, should they start asking questions. But that’s a big if, and my gut feeling says that it’s probably not really okay to do what I do. Personally, I am already taking enough of a risk with the Patreon stuff, I don’t want to start hiring people for a game that I don’t own the rights to as well. Someone else might be willing to, I don’t know, but the main reason that the Patreon didn’t happen sooner was that nobody wanted to put their name on it, until I decided to take a gamble and hope for the best.

5. Lastly, we also have our copyright issues to consider. We base a lot of the game on existing literature that we don’t really have the rights to use commercially. Right now, I doubt anyone cares, and I am not sure we’re even breaking any laws, but if we are collecting money from players and use it on paid developers, it definitely becomes more of a commercial game than just a little “fan project”, which is what Genesis might be classified as now. The idea that we are simply a non-profit fan project made by a bunch of friends is at least what we hope could save us, should someone complain. Once we hire people to develop stuff, I feel that Genesis becomes something new. Something bigger. Does it really make the risk with our copyright issues bigger? Or is it just an imagined risk? I don’t know. I don’t feel good about it, though.

If we post job ads, there is also a risk that the people we hire will start asking questions about if we have licensed Tolkien, Dragonlance, etc. I would if I was the freelancer, because I’d love to put on my resume that I’ve worked on a Lord of the Rings game. Might be a bit awkward to explain that we have no rights at all. Again, might be an irrational fear, but still, these are things I worry about since it’ll likely be me putting my name on it and personally hiring these people.

So… I think there are just too many potential problems and risks with hiring people. Maybe, -maybe-, it could work for very isolated tasks. Like when Gorboth hired Denis Loubet to do artwork for the old website (which I later repurposed for the new one), Things that are clearly detached from the game might be ok, but having someone work directly on the game or the client feels a lot more complicated and risky.
I think you might be mixing up different things, and it still seems like you do not quite understand what I am trying to get at, especially with a distinct code assistant, so I'll try and untangle things a bit.

I am not advocating paying coders to create general content.
I am advocating looking into paying coders for specific tasks. Tasks that can be, practically, solved by a competent coder, who do not have much or any experience with LPC, or Genesis code structure in general.
Which things would be the best candidates, I am sure you and others in the Admin are the best to identify. One suggestion was the web client. Whether or not this is the best candidate, is not for me to say.
Can the task be isolate. Can it be solved wholly or partially by an external coder. Does it contain highly sensitive information (copy-right or game design wise). This could be some of the questions that can help pinpoint potential candidates.

Also you say that it will be no fun being the unpaid supervisor of an external coder. Perhaps, we can debate how big a task that is, but who says it has to be unpaid?
If we can isolate a specific task the Admin wants done, then we can also put an amount of money on that task, and split it accordingly to the sub-tasks within.
I have no problem if you get pay some amount of money to fix specific things that are deemed of general importance to the game. Even if I never use the webclient and it is focused on, for instance.

One suggestion that I would like to point to, is the creation of a code assistant. Even in these early days, many coders around the world use a code assistant these days. GitHub Copilot from Microsoft is probably the best known and most widely used.
The productivity gains from using such an assistant is massive, and it can also lower the barrier of entry to be able to create and contribute code.
If it is possible for Genesis to put some amount of money into creating such an assistant, it would greatly benefit the games acute, and it seems eternal, lack of coders/coding resources.
I am suggesting that the game explores the possibilities in creating such an assistant fine tuned for the Genesis version of LPC. We have massive amounts of code (and text in general) in text that is easy to digest for large language models that it is used to train and create the assistant. I have not heard of anyone in the current Genesis community that can and will put in the time and expertise to create such assistant, so I suggest we hire some external part to help us in this. This could be from a company, resources at a university (Chalmers?), one or two individual experts. There are many possibilities here.

I am suggesting breaking the taboo of using the games money on alleviating the lack of coding resources, be that individual coders or how much time one of our established coders take to fix things or create new things for the game.

Just spending money on trying to bring in new people, without also spending resources on improving the product seems unnecessarily restricting ourselves.


All that said, I'll try and run through and address your concerns:
1) It is a nice selling point. We have collected money to buy hardware in the past. We collect money to buy advertising. We can we not collect money to fix software problems?
2) What I explained above is spending money on fixing specific tasks. A current Wizard in Genesis can still do what they want, when they want. They can also jump at the chance to earn the money by fixing the specific task. Its like the difference between a job and a hobby. You get paid, you don't get the freedom and vice versa.
3) I addressed that above.
4) I, personally, don't think there is any issue in collecting money and spending them as an individual. It's like standard 'GoFundMe campaigns' or Facebook collections etc. I am no lawyer and the law is different all over the world, so I presume the answer will differ depending on where you live.
Still it is a valid concern that have to addressed.
5) Again I am not a copy rights lawyer, but I don't think what we're talking about makes much of a difference. Genesis is currently non-profit fan fiction. That can still be stopped today, and it can still be stopped tomorrow. Spending money on fixing software problems, vs spending money on buying advertisements or buying hardware won't change it either way, I think.
Mortimor Makfly - Gnomish Xeno-Anthropologist

Drazson
Titan
Posts: 500
Joined: 24 Jan 2016 21:27

Re: Our donation campaign is working!

Post by Drazson » 13 May 2024 16:57

Ok, I'll admit I didn't even check the details, it's just good to hear it's working.

Good job guys!

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