In response to Ripper man5
Ripper man5 wrote:
I give a big round of applause for you Tom. As I speak for most BYOND users, we appreciate your hard work. Also, in all honesty you have done the most work. You were the main person to have kept BYOND around for the 18 years. My life revolves around BYOND; I made online friends and even personal friends just because of BYOND.

I will give anything and everything to help support BYOND and the continuous appearance of the famous you. Tom, we all thank-you and hope you do continue your hard and dirty work.

Teka123 and I love to participate and donate for your hard work and we hope it is the contributions you need. We make it a game to be the top and continue to be the top. Also, we do it out of our hearts in knowing you deserve more than what the majority of the community has offered to you.

Well said Ripper , and the story of Byond has been an inspiration to me and some others I know , keep up the great work Tom ^_^.
@Ripper - You're not the only one. I've met a lot of people over the 6 - 7 years I've been on BYOND. And I'm right there with you. Even though I don't have a job, with the Shell Server utility I just created I use that to both gain revenue to purchase BYOND Memberships for others as well as to promote new and unique games on BYOND. We support you, Tom! :)
ya know... I asked a question on facebook a while ago about what byond ment to people and 100% of what people posted were positive memories and oppinions about it. Here is what I typed as I believe it resonates as to what this site truly is...

"Byond is much more than a game engine with a community attached... I have been a long time member of the site for almost a decade and I can say it has affected many peoples lives in a surprisingly positive way, alot of people who were alienated from society gained confidence to reintegrate over the years due to the influence of the byond community. Ive seen people go from emotional wrecks and become stronger in a matter of months just by applying themselves to design a simple game. I, myself was once an emotional wreck with severe family issues and a shitty life in various slums. It wasn't until I found byond that I started talking more in school and actually paid attention to the world around me... Ive met many good people on byond such as Alex, Luis, Kodye, Michael, Carlos, Aaron, Tony, and many more that I respect. To me, Byond is more of a close knit family that will accept you no matter what differences you may have..."
Thanks everyone for the kind words. I was in a rush so I kind of brushed over the last section, but one thing I feel like I should mention is the contributions of Lummox JR, who has worked so hard with us; first when he joined and made some great games (also aggravating us to no end with feature requests) and of course later when he took over much of the software development. A lot is made of Dan's departure but the truth is that Lummox JR filled in that role admirably, esp. considering the size and state of the community compared to the early years. One thing you don't anticipate when working on a project like this is how much the development changes when you acquire a userbase. We never used to have beta tests or schedules-- we would just release things and if they broke something else, we'd get to that later on. Now, although we still break stuff, it's more complicated. We also just sort of did what we wanted but since the community got so big so much of what we do is just revolved around what other people want (which is a mistake that also takes the fun out of a project). But I think Lummox JR has done a great job given all that he's had to put up with.

One of the big things that has changed is my involvement, and that is largely one of (de)motivation. Back when Dan was here, and up until about 2005, I was coding an awful lot, and for the most part I enjoyed that. After we brought some more volunteers on board and eventually hired Lummox JR, I transitioned to more planning and design and different ways we could bring in revenue. God knows we redesigned the website enough. It turns out I'm not very good at this and I actually have a lot more respect for people who do this for a living. I'm actually eager to dive back into something more hands on where I can code more freely.

Heck. I've seen BYOND change a lot over the years. a year or so ago I saw a picture on Google of what BYOND used to look like. It was so much different that I never realized it because every update was amazing (even though I miss player forums!) that my eyes could easily adapt and forget what the old versions looked like.

BYOND actually helped me build my own network dream. I never ever knew how to do any sort of programming until this. Tch, I didn't even know how to code in HTML lol. If it wasn't for BYOND I probably wouldn't. I always wanted to make my own ideas come true when I was younger. BYOND was just that push to make me go and fulfill it. I didn't know Game Engines were called.. what they were called. I didn't know any programming languages at all. So I couldn't have possibly ever made it come true unless I was invited here. I wouldn't have studied all the programming languages I have today and I wouldn't be going in to college to major in Computer Science. BYOND has truly changed the course of my life and I thank you, Tom, and Dan as well. And let's not forget all the others who made this outstanding program become the mother of the many who have installed it that has nurtured them in to mature beings.

I will continue to support you by buying BYOND memberships for others as long as I can. Whenever the opportunity crosses me where someone is interested in programming, I get people to join BYOND as well as a start to the programming world. And with what me and Ss4toby has done by creating a Shell Server for free use under those with unique games, I think it's safe to say that there will be some new games uprising. In just 2 weeks, 9 unique games have hit my hard drive and have been hosted. I hope to see more to come so there will be an increasing number of audience. :)
Kudos to Lummox JR. ;)
@Ripper: And thumbs up to that!
Thought I would join in the discussion. Tom, you and Dan have created a great tool to enables quick and nice multiplayer/MUD game development. I originally joined BYOND because of DBZ, but I decided to show some interest in the DM language since I was already planning to become a computer programmer.

In fact, my programming journey started years prior, but didn't really kickoff much till 2003 (first messed with BASIC in 1999). My experimentation with the DM language began late December 2003/early January 2004. As a preliminary to story I might tell sometime this year due to the fact I been on BYOND for nearly ten years, I will discuss about Text City Simulator (my first released BYOND project).

The BASIC (I used QBASIC at the time.) version of Text City Simulator was designed in November 2003 (might've been days before I even joined BYOND). Though I was planning and formerly working on another BYOND project, I had plans to make an entirely new version of Text City Simulator. Due to my inexperience with DM at the time, I only able to mostly port the BASIC version of Versions 1 and 2. Version 3 (which is still unfinished) moved away from the original BASIC Version 3 (which was never released).

Only multiplayer elements for Versions 1 and 2 were chatting and roleplaying. Version 3 was going to introduce real-time city management along with more multiplayer interaction. It was because of successfully porting most of Text City Simulator and expanding it that I was able to begin more work on projects and experiments for BYOND. Though I have been planning projects in C++, I have plans to do more work with BYOND projects (like the SByIo Library and hopefully the new version of Disky Challenge).

I will discuss more about my story on BYOND in a separate thread possibly since it can be a long story (being here for nearly ten years).

I should thank you Tom and the rest of the staff (Lummox JR and anyone else) for continuing work on the project.

Edit: Coincidentally, I will be 25 by the time my 10-year anniversary comes.
It is nice to hear the stories of people who have used BYOND. It's quite amazing to realize we've had users who've been with us for a decade or more!
In response to Tom
Btw Tom you know that great wall of text you wrote that i didn't read could've been some code or bug fixes for an amazing new feature .



Once in a while it is a good idea for a developer to give us feedback and tell us what is up.
Twas a joke

I didn't read through the whole thing, but it is a good thing, to see, that you have learned some Lessons ;)

Before I ramble on, one Suggestion, that i think might really help:

If you start begging fr money, set a clear goal! Do it like these guys:

on the right side you can see, that there is a clear goal of donations and "income" that has to be reached each month.
If you do it that way,( excuse my harsh words but thats my impression) it doesn't look like you are ripping of everyone of his money. If everyone knows, how much you need, and when you need it, it will be much more of a pleasure, to donate, and see that little bar getting a bit closer to the "Goal Reached" Status of the Month.
Because i think what you guys are doing, is very in-transparent at the moment, you just take in (i don't know how much money) and still ask for even more, that's just how it looks to me.

If you want me to believe, that you are broke, release data, that proves that fact or else it looks just like a rip off.
Good idea!
I got some Q's Tom.

Tom, what is BYOND registered under?

Is it trademarked first of all?

Is it an LLC, Incorporated, Partnership?

How much money would you say BYOND makes per ad, or group of ads ( / 1000).

If you are willing to tell us, how much would you say you make a month or year from BYOND. It can be a negative number if it honestly is.

What licensing do you have to pay for, with BYOND? Like with music, is it all CC stuff, or do you have to pay for a license to use some of these file formats? MP3 being disregarded because I know you have to have one for that.

Final question (for now I think), how do you earn the income to support LummoxJR's pay?
I'll be glad to provide some info, although in the interest of privacy I'm not going to say what Lummox JR is making since that's his own business. Suffice to say, it's far less than an engineer of his level should be paid and I hope and think he looks at this as largely a labor of love with the possibility to one day pay off.

* Biz foo:
BYOND is just me. It is currently a sole proprietorship. This is actually the same thing as a one-person LLC for tax purposes (slightly less expensive)-- it doesn't give the liability protection of an LLC and I'll probably switch once I move on to other things, but it's not really an issue right now because neither BYOND nor me has any money right now.

* Revenue- New pager:
Our preliminary ad runs are showing an eCPM (/1000) of around $1 USD. This is underperforming, and our ad provider has acknowledged that and thinks we can do better. We were expecting in the $2-4 range. Our numbers show that, if we have 100% of our active users on 499+ and an ad is always available to the network, we'd run approximately 50K ads a day (this accounts for Members and only playing one ad at most per three minutes per user). At the moment (I don't have the latest figures) we have something like 30% on 499 and 75% ad availability (mostly due to non-US traffic) so we're running about 10K ads. So at $1 eCPM, you can see that $10/day isn't cutting it. But if we end up with full volume and an optimistic $2 eCPM, it would be more like $100/day. That would be acceptable and was the basis for moving to this model. It would also give us much more incentive to expand our userbase.

* Revenue- Google: The Google ads on the site actually do surprisingly well, but both the cPMs and traffic has dwindled over time. At the moment we're netting roughly $1-1.5K/month from that (in good years we were doing close to $3K/month). So that's about $15K/year.

* Revenue- Membership: At the moment, BYOND has approximately 1000 Members. So that's about $30K/year (actually less when you factor in CC fees). It is too early to say if the new "nagware" model will bump this, but I am hopeful it will.

* Revenue- We bring in some income from shared games, where we take a 20% cut of some titles. This is actually where the most potential lies because a few hit games getting GreenLit would definitely be non-trivial income. Currently, we make under $10K/year from this.

* Expenses- We have a few minor license fees but the only major thing is the server rental, which is around $8K/year. We could go cheaper here but I like the reliability of two good servers and a dedicated backup on a respected host.

So if you do the math there, you'll see we net around $45K/year. Now consider that we have one engineer who works (beyond) full-time on the project, and has since 2007 and you can see this is simply not enough. This is also not factoring in my time, which is often full-time (as it is right now). If I were to completely abandon my duties to this projec-- something that is inevitable given I haven't made any money from it in years despite putting in a huge amount of time and energy-- it would have a difficult time progressing because Lummox JR already has his hands full with so much technical work. This is why I refer to the current state as a "maintenance" one.

When I revisited this project back in 2005, my goal was very ambitious and to turn it into a big business. We had been seeing some growth that looked like we could explode, but, truthfully, the infrastructure wasn't in place to handle that even if it had happened and I was naive to assume we could tackle that without some outside investment. Now we actually have a pretty good infrastructure (still not perfect) but time has made the project seem outdated in comparison and there are more demands on people's attention. So my goals are much less lofty. I think if we could bring in, say $100K/year, that would be enough to keep this project in development. Given the dual ad systems, that'd mean we'd want about $5K/month from memberships (so double), and that's probably where I'd put the monthly donation "goal".

We have a approximately 60K active users (going by monthly uniques to games via the pager). That is actually a pretty good number-- heck, if all of them contributed a mere $1/year we'd be doing better than we are now. Getting only 1K of them to buy in is pretty disappointing, but not entirely unexpected given how little we've been offering in previous incarnations. Like I said in the OP, it is hard to make money off a platform unless it is built from the ground-up around a business model. I think this new model is better, but it is still a band-aid on top of a piece of freeware.
Thanks for the write up, now we get a clearer picture of your situation.

If you can clearly specify, what kind of product/service you want to offer, you can maybe more easily tell the "customers" what they are paying for. I say that, because atm i don't realy know what i am paying for (that's also why i discontinued my membership)

As i see it now, I would be paying for this Website and the Pager as hosted Service, but in my eyes, not for a development platform. Providing the Service is ok and everything, but i personally want to pay for a better Development environment, not for a experimental flash client or a web view pager.

If you have a look at Ardour, you can see, that he is accepting donations for the service of actually developing his Programm. That's a huge difference.
For example, he offers donations especially on specifig BUgs or feature requests. If people want a feature or improvement, they place a bounty on it. That's a bit like Kickstarter and as a "customer" i'd actually have influence of what aspect of BYOND gets improved, which would be in my case cross platform compatibility of the native client and improvement of the compiler (especially optimization), the VM and the Networking.

Also, if you think carefully, you might considder making part of the Client/Server open source. There are a lot of young compiler freaks out there who'd like to try themselves on improoving stuff, which you could benefit from.

So in general, you may offer special donation possibilities, for your actual product, The client and teh server. Because i woudn't want to see my money (in my eyes) wasted on another change in the forum style/ pager layout or experimental flash client.
I am interested in a cross platform well performing and stable Development environment, not the web stuff, i don't use.

If you are interested, you may ask Paul Davis from Ardour, how he is actually making money from his open source project. Maybe he can tell you a trick or two ;)
How do you foresee this new business model holding up? Where do you figure your revenue will come from? Is it a projection, or are you actually seeing something that is going to work?

Do you think a rebranding is needed? Obviously keeping the name BYOND and the whole atom theme, but do you think a cosmetic change, along with a more visible slogan and business plan / idea would be beneficial to BYOND?

Ads only go so far, and I have spent about the last ~8 hours reading through your posts about BYOND, strolling around the site, and looking at competitors and how they appear. BYOND has very little attraction, and I don't just mean in the games department. When I visit the site it just doesn't look very welcoming, sleek, modern, or captivating. Ads aren't cool, but it is what we are going to have to work with for the time being until something changes. But do we just assume that Flash is going to be our big change? We can still push Flash, push current development, but we need to also push ourselves as a company, product, and service. By ourselves, I mean you, and the community to develop a new infrastructure for BYOND.

I'd like to see this donation pool work out, but in the mean time while helping out Yut Put, in the future Spirit Age, and whenever I can contact the guy WANO, I have and am taking notes about the current state of BYOND and how it can gain revenue hopefully by Q4 of 2013, Q1 2014 at the latest. This involves me trying to type up my own faux-business plan for BYOND, a rebranding attempt, providing some demo graphical updates to the logo, social media, business cards, etc, and also a look into the potential financial stability of what BYOND could become and how it should compare to other notable companies within the same genre of product.

Whether you're fine with that or not, doesn't come into my head much, because I am doing this anyway.

In response to EnigmaticGallivanter
EnigmaticGallivanter wrote:
Whether you're fine with that or not, doesn't come into my head much, because I am doing this anyway.

Read it, accept it, love it, roll with it. Off we go.
In response towards ads.. Even though I'm a BYOND member, if I'm on a computer that can handle it I keep my ads on instead of hiding them.
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