[SLOWDOWN] Please be careful who you give business to.

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[SLOWDOWN] Please be careful who you give business to.

#1 Post by kinougames » Sat Jul 24, 2010 2:47 pm

Edit: Recent action on the post below implies that the OP there is willing to provide more information and work on his project. However, you should be careful when the below actions are taken by any businessman for any service.


It was suggested that I do this if I felt strongly about it, and I've decided to go ahead.

A certain post has been made involving selling a service to VN makers on this forum. You can see it here:
http://lemmasoft.renai.us/forums/viewto ... f=4&t=7654

This is the exact definition of what you should avoid as an amateur making a commercial game.

The first thing you learn about running a business is that there is more to the business than saying "I'm selling something, please buy."

Before putting your money into a massive investment that will remove a large portion of your sales, you need to be extremely wary of all portions of the business.

Some major frightening pieces well known with scammers:
1) Poor website. Five seconds on that website will display how difficult it is to run. The demo is full of bugs. The OP claims that "his post is not there to show content", but any decent businessman with a product worth selling would already have a completed demo to display why his work is worth buying. Even just using a short, barely interesting story, the product itself, which is the engine, should be displayed to work to perfection. Be very short about trusting people who claim that there is a perfect product behind the scenes. He claims that "he cannot trust people with his work", but this is a common scam tactic used to avoid showing any working version.

This is not to say that there is not a working version at all. There may be one. However, do you want to buy something that you have to spend your time negotiating several times over to receive a simple demo of? Please consider this carefully. This is your hard work, and your money.

2) No sales figures, no reasonable expectation of exposure, no obvious or suggested long-term business plans. The death of your own business venture is easily reached by working with a dead end company. If your company cannot prove where it has been, or, if they are a new company, where they are going, or even why their direction corners a substantial market that is not covered, chances are they're not going anywhere.

In this case, there is no proof of the former, and the service itself works on speed, as in, you hire them to do work you can get for free from these very forums faster. Everyone's time is worth a different amount to them, but please carefully consider whether your time is worth the price.

3) Inability to determine what should be given to the public and what should not.

Things that you need to provide to make a business:
-Sales figures/direction
-Working prototype
-Up-to-date agreements!

The most basic business owners will provide a completely up-to-date schema of pieces, including their agreements and their prototype, even when they just post feelers. A business owner who will succeed understands that even when posting examples, you must post an example that is mid-to-high level if you are wary to show your best and most perfect work. That is what the prototype is for.

4) Inability to keep business manner on a forum, or beyond that, even in the thread of business. A business owner who leaps full-bodily on any critique or questions, no matter how they are asked. Business is about taking advice. If you can't do so gracefully, you will not make your way very well.

5) Basic research before investing time in a project. Reasonable research of VNs, how indie VNs are made, and what the capabilities of existing free products are should've been looked into before even starting development. One should be wary about a product being created when the person did not think to examine other products "on the market", or free, in this case.

Again, I am not saying that the post is a scam. I am saying that as someone who runs a small business (completely unrelated to the video game market) and occasionally needs to outsource or get services elsewhere, these practices would cause me to pass a place by.

If you're working free, this is a different story, but when money comes into the equation, people will do anything to get it, and it's up to you as buyers/users of services to protect yourself. Please be careful!

Edit:

To make my problems more clear, I give you a simple example:

Someone posts claiming they have an amazing game that has legions of professional art, A-list Japanese voice actors, and all sorts of fantastic, extra elements that most indie games don't have. However, when you go to see their site, they have a small downloadable demo that barely works, pictures of unprofessional, unrefined art, and no proof of any voice acting at all, despite the laundry list of voice actors they put down.

Oh, and they ask for 80USD to give you the full version.

When you mention the problems, they yell at you and call you insulting trolls and say they spent so much time on their perfect game that they didn't have time to mess with the site.

Would you buy this game? I think not.
Last edited by kinougames on Sat Jul 24, 2010 10:06 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Please be careful with your hard-earned money.

#2 Post by Topagae » Sat Jul 24, 2010 3:09 pm

In a very short rebuttal, I just want to say. I am in fact still learning. I have some experience in the "Real Industry", but I'm far from perfect. Not only this, but most of the problems you seem to have with what I'm doing stem from my lack of time.

I'll be frank. This project for me is not full-time. I have student loans, many bills, a wedding to pay for, and god knows what else. I have a lot of people "Working" with me all under the same circumstances. I joined this forum a year ago to put out feelers about this sorta stuff, but I got scared away due to folk like yourself that had WAY more of your shit together. So we spent the last year improving, especially the engine. So here's some answers to your questions, or at least some clarification.

1. I'll be the first to say our website isn't the greatest, we're a bunch of programmers, we don't generally CARE about art, and the fact we can't do much at the moment to change that didn't really hurt us until we started getting your guys' feedback. Needless to say it bumped up a few priorities, but we still got other stuff above it. If that's a deal killer then you probably won't be working with us until it gets fixed. That might be a while.

2. Of course we have no sales figures, we haven't sold anything yet. We did have a fairly obvious long term business plan though, I'm surprised you missed it. I agree though, if you think we're dead end. Don't work with us.

3. I determined this just fine. You just don't like what I'm willing to give you.

4. I disagree obviously.

5. I'm not entirely sure how you can jump into my brain and conclude you know these things about me.

Last part:
I already said I would put my precious time and hosting money to port works for free, so far though most biters have wanted to profitable deal instead of the free deal though. As for me being some greedy horrible money grubbing monster. Yes. I do want money. I need it to continue doing what I want to do.
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Re: Please be careful with your hard-earned money.

#3 Post by Jake » Sat Jul 24, 2010 3:43 pm

I have to say, if someone came to me today and asked what I thought, I'd recommend that they stay away from you and your DateSim.org business and definitely not sign any contracts. Your engine doesn't work, and you're conducting yourself in a deplorable way. Change, and my opinion might change, but I doubt anyone will want their work to be associated with your name in the long run if you carry on like this.
Topagae wrote: 1. I'll be the first to say our website isn't the greatest, we're a bunch of programmers
The programmed part of your website is by far the worst bit; it barely works!

You told us that we could see your engine in action on your website - it even says so in your license agreement, which you yourself said was current when you posted it. Therefore, the implication is that the demo was current when you posted first a couple of days ago. A day later you're telling us that it's out of date and buggy and you have a super-secret non-buggy version which you refuse to show anybody.

You either lied by implication when you first posted and when you pointed me to your demo to answer my questions, or you lied outright when you told us that the online version was old and you have a better version you aren't showing us. The fact that you still haven't shown a working version and get incredibly defensive and/or completely ignore the point whenever it's brought up leads me to suspect the latter, but either way: you were dishonest with us. That makes you untrustworthy, which means I would strongly advise people avoid you like the plague.

If you seriously were being genuine and honest at all times and just got misinterpreted and/or were 'lazy', as you put it, then there's a simple way to clear it up: put the working version of your engine online to prove that it exists. Instead, you've just told us that you've barred people from seeing the broken demo on your site, which just makes you look more guilty.
Topagae wrote: 3. I determined this just fine. You just don't like what I'm willing to give you.
Kinougames was saying that you should have provided an up-to-date agreement, a working prototype and a reasonable business plan. Yesterday you were telling us that these things were out of date and old, here you're implicitly saying that they weren't. Make your mind up, and stop telling us two conflicting things: it's dishonest, and nobody wants to do business with a dishonest guy.

(Unless you just didn't read Kinougames' post properly, perhaps?)
Topagae wrote: 4. I disagree obviously.
There are several of us who have done nothing more wrong than asking you reasonable questions and giving you sound advice. You have ignored us, belittled us and recently started calling us trolls. This is not the behaviour of a mature adult; it's the behaviour of a spoiled child who's being asked awkward questions he can't answer because he's not actually got the goods to back up his claims... or worse, the behaviour of a snake-oil salesman trying to con people out of something.

(I tend to think you're probably the spoiled-child type more than the snake-oil type, simply because I find it hard to work out how you could possibly be getting any money out of people; nobody's going to pay to play games on the engine you showed us.)

What possible reason could we have to troll you? What do we gain from wasting lots of our time trying to persuade you to listen to reason, fix your engine's problems and stop being such an arse?
Topagae wrote: 5. I'm not entirely sure how you can jump into my brain and conclude you know these things about me.
One doesn't need to leap into your brain to conclude that you haven't done much research. Just off the top of my head, without even referring back to the thread in question to find things to pick on:

- You said LSF was the only English-language VN-dev community you know of, but anyone who looks around a bit would find the Teacup and the Novelty forums as well.

- You claimed that your engine functions at the same level as Phoenix Wright does outside of the courtroom segments, but it doesn't even do transitions between sprites when characters change pose; Phoenix Wright does this just fine. Moreover, you said it was a technical limitation that was hard to overcome!
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Re: Please be careful with your hard-earned money.

#4 Post by mikey » Sat Jul 24, 2010 4:50 pm

My advice would also be to avoid this business.

This all based on a combination of unprofessional behavior coupled with con-style rhetoric. Also, dismissive aggression when precise answers were asked for. A bragging tone to many of the claims, the financial elements handled in anything but clear and legally sound terminology, the list goes on and on.

It's like a sea of red flags popping up when reading answers to the challenges Jake, kinou and also others have made to the concept of datingsim.org.

It is irrelevant whether the concept is honest - the way it's presented and the whole aura around it is so scam-like and amateurish, that I would definitely not recommend any involvement with this company.

It is similar to a stranger offering you candy. You never-ever take it. Even if the stranger is a honest elderly gentleman who just wants to make some child happy with harmless candy... that doesn't matter. You just don't act like this, period. Much like you don't act like datingsim.org when you want to start that kind of business.

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Re: Please be careful with your hard-earned money.

#5 Post by kinougames » Sat Jul 24, 2010 5:37 pm

Topagae wrote:In a very short rebuttal, I just want to say. I am in fact still learning. I have some experience in the "Real Industry", but I'm far from perfect. Not only this, but most of the problems you seem to have with what I'm doing stem from my lack of time.

I'll be frank. This project for me is not full-time. I have student loans, many bills, a wedding to pay for, and god knows what else. I have a lot of people "Working" with me all under the same circumstances. I joined this forum a year ago to put out feelers about this sorta stuff, but I got scared away due to folk like yourself that had WAY more of your shit together. So we spent the last year improving, especially the engine. So here's some answers to your questions, or at least some clarification.
I'm well aware this is not your full-time job. If this appeared to be your full-time job, I would've used much stronger language deterring people from your project. As it is, I only had to state pure and obvious facts. You were at least another 6-8 months of work from actually asking for licensing. One of the early things you learn about business (besides doing research on how businesses actually make money) is that all your pieces need to be in order before you ask for clients. If you were afraid -then- of people who had their shit together, you would've done well to figure out why, and apply it before coming here.
1. I'll be the first to say our website isn't the greatest, we're a bunch of programmers, we don't generally CARE about art, and the fact we can't do much at the moment to change that didn't really hurt us until we started getting your guys' feedback. Needless to say it bumped up a few priorities, but we still got other stuff above it. If that's a deal killer then you probably won't be working with us until it gets fixed. That might be a while.
I'm not sure how you can claim your website did or didn't hurt you when you've not got anything. You have no sales. If you get tons of sales despite the website, then you can claim something; and even then, it's pretty much a fact that a site as hard to run as yours is going to deter someone, somewhere.

I don't know why this is hard for you to understand, but I am never working with you. You have no idea how to run a business. This entire comment proves that you still have no idea how to run a business.

I don't even want to believe that you are serious about "we're programmers, we don't even care about art" because unless you are programmers who plan to be broke forever, you need to care about visuals. I understand that you might not have had the time to fix the problems, but then you do not market until problems are fixed. A lot of people have trouble because they're excited, but ideally, you hold back 99% of your stuff until it's complete. In the same tone, when you put forth incomplete work and get a bunch of "hey, why is this incomplete" comments, you brought it on yourself.
2. Of course we have no sales figures, we haven't sold anything yet. We did have a fairly obvious long term business plan though, I'm surprised you missed it. I agree though, if you think we're dead end. Don't work with us.
A business plan can't just be "we're going to eventually do this". This is what you have right now. A business plan is a list of things you are going to do set in logical order with research to back it, as well as time frames in which things will be completed. It also includes step-by-step processes on how these things shall be done. I have not seen this. I've seen a lot of promises that hold no water.

Example:
"We're getting your game out to a huge fanbase."

versus

"We've set up for paid online ads, people who are doing some advertising on their sites, forums, flyers being handed out, and blogs on a couple of sites, as part of getting your games exposure."
3. I determined this just fine. You just don't like what I'm willing to give you.
Incorrect. You didn't give a thing. You posted what essentially amounted to "please spend money on my project with promises of what I say it will do; it doesn't work now but we didn't have time to make it work yet. I sweat it works!" and then refused to answer questions.
4. I disagree obviously.
Then you need to reread that thread. The person who linked me to your post, like I said, linked me because she thought I might be interested. One peek back at your comments, and she emailed me back later to say to forget about it. She is currently a part of 4 different VNs, half of which are nearing completion, work that you lost due to attitude by itself.
5. I'm not entirely sure how you can jump into my brain and conclude you know these things about me.
Who needs to jump anywhere? If you'd known that everything your project can do could be done already and for free, chances are you might not have bothered to begin the project at all. You might've marketed it differently. You might've realized that Ren'py games can be run in Android already, or that porting things to iPhone is not as hard as you attempted to claim it was. You might've realized that VN programming is extremely easy and that there is a huge abundance of programmers who do the work for free, severely cutting down your market. You might've done research into the lack of exposure on this product and instead done something as far as marketing. There are a million things someone more informed than you would have taken into account.
Last part:
I already said I would put my precious time and hosting money to port works for free, so far though most biters have wanted to profitable deal instead of the free deal though. As for me being some greedy horrible money grubbing monster. Yes. I do want money. I need it to continue doing what I want to do.
Your time might be precious to you, but to the business world, it's only worth what you can sell it for. I've made this analogy several times: If someone takes 100 hours to draw a circle on a piece of paper, does that mean you should pay for 100 hours of work? Does that mean their piece is worth 100 hours of work? If they can convince someone to buy it for that, awesome. If they can't, it's not worth that.

And no one is calling you a money-grubbing monster. We're saying that despite asking for your extremely high price, you have no product worth it. If Nintendo called me today and said "we want to port your game to the Wii", or if Toei animation called me and said "we wanna make your game into a full length anime and give you a full A-list voice cast", and then asked for 70% of sales, I would hop on that so fast, because the mere ability to mention you work with one of those companies will get people coming to you for other work (plus the fact that 30% of millions is still a fat piece of change in my pocket). The product equals the price. You need to figure that out before you start throwing arbitrarily large numbers in the air.
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Re: Please be careful with your hard-earned money.

#6 Post by Aleema » Sat Jul 24, 2010 7:16 pm

Oh, boy. What a wank-fest.

DUH, be careful with your money? DUH, invest wisely? DUH, not every service out there is applicable to you? When my friends buy computers at a store, they actually pay upwards $100 for the technician to do something a first grader could for them, for free. You don't see me making riot signs and pissing on their store. Not everyone needs that service, but there are some really confused individuals who'd rather not risk it -- that's for them. Does it take advantage of the customer, or is the cost the price of peace of mind? That's for you to decide, but it will always be just that: a personal decision.

Making this thread (and multiple accounts) really makes you seem spiteful, like he hurt your ego and now he must pay. If you think you're doing the forum a great service by playing the superhero -- you're not. It's just exasperating. =\

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Re: Please be careful with your hard-earned money.

#7 Post by kinougames » Sat Jul 24, 2010 7:33 pm

Aleema wrote:Oh, boy. What a wank-fest.

DUH, be careful with your money? DUH, invest wisely? DUH, not every service out there is applicable to you? When my friends buy computers at a store, they actually pay upwards $100 for the technician to do something a first grader could for them, for free. You don't see me making riot signs and pissing on their store. Not everyone needs that service, but there are some really confused individuals who'd rather not risk it -- that's for them. Does it take advantage of the customer, or is the cost the price of peace of mind? That's for you to decide, but it will always be just that: a personal decision.

Making this thread (and multiple accounts) really makes you seem spiteful, like he hurt your ego and now he must pay. If you think you're doing the forum a great service by playing the superhero -- you're not. It's just exasperating. =\
I'm sorry you feel that way as someone interested in his work, but it's not a matter of "not every service out there is applicable to you". It's a matter of "his business practices and manner are poor, and he refuses to provide proof of changes when asked reasonable questions".

The things I've mentioned above are not at all "duh". Obviously you need to be careful with your money. Most people at least attempt to be careful with their money. However, not all people know the signs of scamming/poor business and that is why people invest poorly despite trying to be careful with their money.

If you want to use his service, you'll do so despite hearing criticism on his practices. Anyone who wants to do something will do it. I haven't said a single thing that isn't true, that can't be quoted back to directly in the thread itself.

Furthermore, 4 people make up kinougames, and we've used the account for work purposes and for individual purposes.

I was legitimately interested when I first came across the post. After my questions were ignored, and the questions of others were ignored, I became not only uninterested but seriously worried at the legitimacy of the venture. The fact is: The business uses common tactics attributed with scammers. Even speaking on nothing in the project itself, it does. This by itself is enough to worry about.

Furthermore, I've stated more than once that a service is worth what you can get people to pay for it. If your friends want to pay $100 for services they can do for free, then the companies they pay obviously have figured out that they can make people pay that. However, those companies also clearly state what they can and cannot do. Topagae and datingsim.org give a lot of allusions to being able to do things that they have not proved they are able to do (which is the definition of a scam). What is safer? Asking a programmer who might not deliver, but is free, to do it? Or to pay someone who might not deliver to do the same work?

There's a huge disconnect between worthwhile service that everyone understands works, and service that no one has seen work. It's a mistake to assume it works better because he charges for it, and people who get taken in by scams unfortunately don't learn that until they lose money.
Last edited by kinougames on Sat Jul 24, 2010 7:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Please be careful with your hard-earned money.

#8 Post by PyTom » Sat Jul 24, 2010 7:41 pm

kinougames wrote:You might've realized that Ren'py games can be run in Android already
No, they can't.
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Re: Please be careful with your hard-earned money.

#9 Post by kinougames » Sat Jul 24, 2010 7:44 pm

PyTom wrote:
kinougames wrote:You might've realized that Ren'py games can be run in Android already
No, they can't.
Ah, whoops, misfire! My apologies.
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Re: Please be careful with your hard-earned money.

#10 Post by Topagae » Sat Jul 24, 2010 8:25 pm

Aleema wrote:Oh, boy. What a wank-fest.

DUH, be careful with your money? DUH, invest wisely? DUH, not every service out there is applicable to you? When my friends buy computers at a store, they actually pay upwards $100 for the technician to do something a first grader could for them, for free. You don't see me making riot signs and pissing on their store. Not everyone needs that service, but there are some really confused individuals who'd rather not risk it -- that's for them. Does it take advantage of the customer, or is the cost the price of peace of mind? That's for you to decide, but it will always be just that: a personal decision.

Making this thread (and multiple accounts) really makes you seem spiteful, like he hurt your ego and now he must pay. If you think you're doing the forum a great service by playing the superhero -- you're not. It's just exasperating. =\
Apparently they're actually five people sharing an account. It explains why they sound really different at times I suppose. I'm sorry for all this by the way. I'm trying REAL hard to appease him and close my own thread. I don't think people need this crap.
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Re: Please be careful with your hard-earned money.

#11 Post by Topagae » Sat Jul 24, 2010 8:37 pm

Aleema wrote:Oh, boy. What a wank-fest.

DUH, be careful with your money? DUH, invest wisely? DUH, not every service out there is applicable to you? When my friends buy computers at a store, they actually pay upwards $100 for the technician to do something a first grader could for them, for free. You don't see me making riot signs and pissing on their store. Not everyone needs that service, but there are some really confused individuals who'd rather not risk it -- that's for them. Does it take advantage of the customer, or is the cost the price of peace of mind? That's for you to decide, but it will always be just that: a personal decision.

Making this thread (and multiple accounts) really makes you seem spiteful, like he hurt your ego and now he must pay. If you think you're doing the forum a great service by playing the superhero -- you're not. It's just exasperating. =\

I actually JUST bothered to read the topic name of this thread. Due to Aleema. Money?

I NEVER asked for money. Ever. My porting work is completely 100% free. The only thing a source porter (You guys) will lose if our port sucks and makes nothing is the time you spent dealing with me. I'm paying for porting, hosting, and every other cost to get the game up in my engine. And I think this thread is quite shadily trying to make mountains out of molehills with it's title, because yes you will in fact lose time if I turn out to be completely wrong. But it certainly won't cost you any money.

I repeat. I will not, nor will I ever, ask for your money. At this point I am asking for your time and effort.
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Re: Please be careful with your hard-earned money.

#12 Post by Jake » Sat Jul 24, 2010 8:43 pm

Aleema wrote: Does it take advantage of the customer...?
If the guy being paid $100* doesn't know what the hell he's doing? Absolutely, yes.

If you actually bother to read the threads in question, the guy was - as Mikey said - sounding very much like a scam artist, and he still hasn't shown any proof of actually having the technology behind the service he's trying to get people to sign up for. Maybe starting another thread was unnecessary, but coming in this thread to complain about it is even more unnecessary. You've spoken about 'protecting' this community before yourself, remember.


* (Or several weeks of time and effort, if you prefer - some people invest cash into their games, you included.)
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Re: Please be careful with your hard-earned money.

#13 Post by Topagae » Sat Jul 24, 2010 8:46 pm

In an effort of unity and not wanting to spread wanton hate.

Exactly what would I have to do to get this giant flame war to stop? I already said the offer is over, the best people can do right now is end up in my inbox for eventual review. Is the only way to shut down my site or something? It pains me to see such awfulness come because of me.
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Re: Please be careful with your hard-earned money.

#14 Post by Aleema » Sat Jul 24, 2010 8:54 pm

Jake wrote:If you actually bother to read the threads in question, the guy was - as Mikey said - sounding very much like a scam artist, and he still hasn't shown any proof of actually having the technology behind the service he's trying to get people to sign up for. Maybe starting another thread was unnecessary, but coming in this thread to complain about it is even more unnecessary. You've spoken about 'protecting' this community before yourself, remember.
You turn me on, Jake. I want to have your babies. Damn the ocean between us.

How's that for unnecessary?

Edit: Blah, blah, my ego is bigger than yours, blah, how dare you, blah.
Last edited by Aleema on Sat Jul 24, 2010 9:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Topagae
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Re: Please be careful with your hard-earned money.

#15 Post by Topagae » Sat Jul 24, 2010 8:56 pm

You make my brain hurt Ms. Aleema. It's like crawling through mud for 40 miles and BAM, hot naked chick at the end. X_x
Last edited by Topagae on Sat Jul 24, 2010 8:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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