La semana pasada se produjo una triste noticia: el equipo que se propuso traer de vuelta a Los Sims Online cancelaron definitivamente el proyecto. El líder del equipo, Ghost, escribió una carta a los seguidores donde explican los motivos de la cancelación: supuestas presiones y amenazas de Electronic Arts; programadores que en vez de ayudar entorpecían el desarrollo…
La siguiente carta de despedida (en inglés) la publicó Ghost en la página oficial de The Sims Online Restoration, sin embargo ahora la página está cerrada y he tenido que recuperarla desde la caché de Google en SimPrograms (puesto que, misteriosamente, también han eliminado la entrada).
To our beloved community,
It brings me great sorrow to announce this to all of you. The TSO Restoration Project has been officially shut down. I’m going to try and explain in as much detail as possible the events that resulted in our end. I’m going to give you all the opportunity to know why it had to come an end – something that EA refused to give us when they ended it.
I received a cease and desist letter from Electronic Arts in June. It was no coincidence that this letter was around the time that “The Sims Social” was flooding the news. For one reason or another, EA saw us as a threat to their competition and a violation of their intellectual property rights. It was our dream to give people the opportunity to play The Sims Online once more. People who were too young, people who could not afford it, people who did not know about it and the loyal veterans who missed it. We were doing this with no financial incentive and volunteered countless hours of our time to attempt this. EA has made it their personal responsibility to destroy our dream and has made that very clear.
My first inclination was to fight. I knew that the news of this would destroy the morale of the community. I took full responsibility for the project, providing immunity to any programmers who may have contributed. I wanted to see how far EA would take it. Was this an elaborate bluff or were they really willing to spend all this money to shut us down? After a struggle finding a lawyer who would take the case, we finally had someone working on our behalf. We tried explaining to EA that it would not be worth their time to shut us down. Why shut us down when there are countless EA’s Ultima Online private servers? Why the double standard when it comes to “The Sims?” Eventually, my lawyer was confident that they would follow through with their lawsuit by the start of the next fiscal year.
There were other things going on when this was happening. While I spent countless hours and dollars trying to build our legal defense, there was turmoil in the development team. I kept this burden to myself and continued to do my best in guiding the project in the right direction. I tried my best to make our organization as professional as possible, knowing that our reputation would be ruined horrendously in a few months as we would be covered in the news for the lawsuit. I began to look around at the programmers on our team and realized that there was no hope.
I’m going to be revealing the inside details of some of our programers. This is done purposely to expose them for who they are. It is not meant as a character defacement but rather an accurate representation of my thoughts of them having spent so much time attempting to work with them. The crimes that they have committed should be made public record.
Our team began to suspect that one of our sub-projects, TSOEmu was in fact an obvious hoax started by a pathological liar developer named Jonathan. I began to suspect this when he made extremely fast timelines for TSOEmu and refused to share any of the “packets” that he claimed to have or work with anyone else. He disappointed the community and failed to bring what he promised in the time he allocated for himself. The sheer obviousness in which you can see that it is poorly photo-shopped is almost criminal. He has submitted little, if any functional code relating to TSOR or TSOEmu and all the progress can only be seen from his constant boasts and edited pictures. When asked to provide group objects specific to TSO, he failed to be able to show it.. Despite claiming it was done and he was doing “pizza.” The breaking point was when he posted a picture with him skilling on an easel. If you played TSO you would know that an easel was a money object. The plumbob is also from The Sims 1 along with all the interactions. It was a poorly done display of trickery and finally had me 100% convinced.
Our lead programmer for TSOR proved to be just as, if not more disappointing. Afr0 was a cold, reclusive and selfish individual. He openly stated that he hated the community and thought that they served no purpose. The original goal of this project was to attract programmers. We have been extremely successful. However, most of the programmers (despite some being extremely overqualified) found that they could not work under Afr0. When we had a rush of programmers in early 2011, Afr0 was no where to be seen. He’d have an occasional socially awkward meeting, with the new developers and give them a large generic task with little to no direction. What direction he did give, proved to be cold, harsh and incredibly unprofessional. Which turned many programmers away. It’s no wonder that our retention rate with developers is almost 0%. He recognized and saw nothing morally reprehensible of allowing Jonathan to continue his lies to the community.
Our recent addition was more positive. Nicholas loved sharing his progress to the community and he had done more work for TSOR in the past month than Afr0 had done since October 22nd. If Afr0 had his way, Nicholas would have been removed from the team and all the recent TSOR progress (the isometric engine, create a sim) would have been lost. Nicholas was our last hope but all my efforts to put him in a leadership position to replace Afr0 resulted in drama. Afr0, despite his busy schedule would not give up the programming leadership role to anyone else. Afr0 and Jonathan felt threatened by Nicholas and his hard work ethic. They made it a task to make his life as miserable as possible while on TSOR, further contributing to our internal demise.
My programming team at this point consisted of an psychotic leader, a compulsive lying teenager and a child prodigy. I began to lose hope for the project and an already difficult decision on whether or not to spend the money seemed to be based off my analysis of our programming team. That wasn’t all though.
If this ever did go to court, it would have been a historic case. There are few (if any) cases that would have made it to that level. I’m the first person with the financial capability and willingness to wage a long legal battle. In the United States, the legal system works in the concept of “innocent until proven guilty.” We’d be able to continue to operate until a court order tells us to stop. This would be the only way that TSO could be brought back with the legitimacy required to have a community. If this was to happen, we would be setting a major case precedence for private servers. If our results were unfavorable, this could have a huge impact for the rest of history. I’m not even exaggerating, there is such limited case precedence on this topic that it’s results can be used by other game companies to justify the swift shutting down of similar projects. I’m not willing to give them that opportunity for something that I now feel has no hope of succeeding with it’s current programmers.
That’s the sad fact. Even if we were extremely successful in bringing about TSO’s return, it wouldn’t be able to have any legitimacy until we won the court case. We know now that anyone who tries to bring it back will be just as much of a target for EA. We were barely into our Alpha stages when EA became worried. I’ve since removed myself from the repository and encourage everyone else to do the same.
It’s not all lost though. I started this project at a time when there was no hope of TSO ever returning. People had accepted that and moved on. Many people had lost touch with their old friends, only to be reunited once more on our website. I’ve fallen in love with the community. We have the most mature, intelligent and passionate online communities that I have ever seen. I couldn’t anticipate the amount of overwhelming support that we’ve had for this project.
I’m not going to do what EA did and let this die a slow and gradual death. You guys deserve to know the truth about why it has ended and why it can never exist. I’m sorry that I couldn’t bring TSO back for us all. I can’t change people and how they interact with each other. I can’t hide EA’s threats to us forever. I did the best that I could in the circumstances I was given, I just hope history will judge me fairly.
I’m leaving the forums for the community online so others may remain in touch with each other despite our closing. EA will be notified that all “development” activity has ceased. If anyone has any comments, criticisms, or questions you may always contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
With respect and sadness,
Ghost (TSOR Leader 2010 – 2011)