geek rant

geek (gēk) n. A person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits.
rant (rānt) v. To speak or write in an angry, upset, or bewildered manner; rave.
geek rant (gēk rānt) n. The verbalization of a topic that really pisses off a geek.

Home Rants People Cutting off your nose to spite your face

Cutting off your nose to spite your face

  Written by The Geek on 2007-03-19PDF Print E-mail

Everyone is in business to make money.  Take your typical company.  They invent a product of some sort, they produce it, and then they attempt to sell it.  But what happens when they want more money for the product than anyone is willing to pay?

When I was much younger, and before they hey-day of the Internet, I was a frequent visitor to what were called BBSes.  These were machines than you would dial into with your computer, and could chat with other users, read/write messages, and so on.  Alot of these BBSes were places to meet and communicate with other users, while some of them were actually games to play.

One of my favorite game BBSes, was one called Pyroto Mountain.  I would dial in, once a day, to play this game, against other players, to try and be the first person to reach the top of Pyroto mountain.  The game was set in a realm of magic, and you used magic spells to accomplish all things in the game.  At its roots, the game was one of trivia, because you were required to answer a trivia question to move up a level on the mountain.  In any case, this game was very fun.

Back in the early to mid nineties, when the Internet was hitting its boon, I contacted the author of Pyroto mountain, and expressed interest in creating an internet version of this BBS favorite.  He told me that a friend of his had been wanting to do the same, and he was going to give his friend the option.

Fast forward 10 years.  In a moment of nostalgia, I remember my days of Pyroto Mountain, and call upon the gods of Google to find me information on this game.  To my surprise, I indeed find a company marketing the Pyroto Mountain software, but not a SINGLE running installation.  Even the DEMO site the company ran is down.  I find some links on people blogs, who said they played the game and now miss it.  Excellent, I thougt, there is still a place for Pyroto.

So I contact the people at Pyroto, and tell them Im interested in getting a license, but I also would like to be able to convert the code from ASP/SQL SERVER into PHP/MySQL.  The response I got from the company is that everyone wants Pyroto, but noone wants to pay for it.  Now, Im not millionaire, but Im not exactly cheap either.  I believe in a fair price for most things.

So I email back assuring them that Im not looking for a freebie, but Id like to convert to PHP/MySQL so I could run on a platform that I am familiar with, and have available.  They finally get back to me, and among other things, here are the restrictions they wanted to impose:

* If I licensed the software to run my own site, I couldnt call it Pyroto Mountain.

* I would recieve source code, and would be responsible for it.  Not allowed to distribute, etc.

* Im not allowed to create derivatives, or earn a profit from the software.  And if I do make bug fixes or improvements, I have to pass back all code fixed to them.

* In addition to the licensing fee, I would be responsible for the costs of drawing up these legal contracts.

Drawing up these legal contracts?  Arent these people ALREADY in the business of selling licenses for thier software??  I mean, dont they have contracts already?

In any case, nothing was mentioned about me porting to php, nor about price.  So I shoot off another email, asking about these two things.  After thinking about it for 2 days, I finally get a response.  In addition to the previous restrictions, these new points were made:

* When converting to php/mysql, I would need to send constant updates back to Pyroto, so in the end they would have, themselves, a fully functional PHP version.

* Since they would have a php version to sell, they would give me a license at a discounted price of $4,500.

Once you are done choking, let me assure you, they said four thousand, five hundred dollars.  When I wrote them back and expressed my concern about the extravagant price for a web-based game, the owner simply stated that he knew we would end up here, where noone wanted to pay for software they obviously wanted.

Hello?!  McFly?!?  I, for the record, believe Microsoft is out of thier freakin minds selling thier OS for $200+ a copy.  But someone who has a web-based game wants $5k a license (He only told me $4500 because he would be getting a free PHP port out of it)?  No wonder he has no installs!  When I politely questioned him further, and even pointed out professional software (like vBulletin, for example) that only costs $160, he responded that his company licenses a CRM system for $125 a month.  And at 3 years, that could break even.  So, if you were able to get $125 a month in donations for three years, the system would pay for itself.  And since he spent all of his time WRITING this software, he wont sell it for any cheaper.

So, talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.  Refusing to charge any less for a product because you wrote it, but at the same time, guaranteeing you wont sell a single license because of how much you want per license.  There is a lesson to be learned here, that no matter how good your product is, you need to know your target audience.  Otherwise, you are doomed to take your awesome product down the path of obscurity, whether it deserves it or not.

If I were to put up a Pyroto site, it would be for the fun and enjoyment of myself and my users, not some odd donation or profit scheme.  That being said, I'll probably go download an open source game and mold into something my users would like.  No it wont be Pyroto, but it would be much more reasonable.

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# Wow...Ilene 2007-03-26 16:33
That's an impressive amount of money for a game. Does he think he's still working in the BBS hay-day when you could charge $250 for a 2 user license of MBBS? I don't think that any BBS game ever went for the amount of money he's looking to claim, and net games go for even less. With the amount of sales he has turned down, he could have made his $5k already and be making more because more people want it. Yes, it would be a slower build-up, but that is better than nothing at all.

Maybe what he's really looking for is the arcade game, where they spend $5k on a whole game, case and all. Even that includes hardware though.

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# The sad partRich 2007-05-19 00:12
Here's the sad part. Not only was I willing to pay what I consider to be a "fair" price, but I was going to take my own time and convert the product to PHP/MySQL, so the company not only would have a sale, but also have a new platform to make sales on. Between you and me, as far as business decisions go, this guy needs help.
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# I remember Pyroto Mountainkatie d 2009-03-30 02:57
I loved it. And holy crap, is he adhering to some ridiculous (ridonkulous, even) restrictions. And after he finishes hogtying you, he wants you to give him $4500 AND a free copy of all YOUR hard work. Not to mention if you can't call it what it is (Pyroto Mountain), you are hamstrung in drawing people to play it. The name is its primary selling point.

No thank you. But I'd sure like to know if you ever come up with something similar to play.
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# The original was in PascalInflation 2009-05-08 23:00
And they used to sell the source for that.

Somewhere I actually have that source code. (if it is still intact)

You might be father ahead just to code up a new version.....
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# I remember the web versionDarren 2009-07-11 23:07
I played the BBS version as a kid, and I also found the web version around 1999.

The original BBS version was written by some guy in Montreal. In the 90s he sold the rights to someone else who then started Pyroto Inc. and created the web version.

I'd love to hear from someone who played the game regularly in the late 90s. I don't know how popular web version was in terms of raw numbers, but I believe the people who did play the game took it way too seriously, and some bizarre problems began to emerge as a result. Perhaps that's why it was shut down. Clearly the guy who owns the rights now doesn't want to give up anything.
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# Ahh yes....TSOTL 2009-10-24 09:12
I hosted a Pyroto Mountain BBS in the late '80s In New Orleans. Single line dialup but it was always busy 24 hours a day. It was fun to play with the source code and add all sorts of silly things and rules to the game.

I remember talking to the author Tim Campbell way back and he said Pyroto could never be be adapted for the internet. I thought since it was already a BBS "door" that it wouldn't be too hard but what do I know. Sad to see it is tied up and lost. It is a great game. (and always remember - It's only a game!)
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# be careful with making somethingTSOTL 2010-04-08 13:46
If you ever go to create your own, make damn sure that it doesn't make any references to the original. Tim and the other guys involved in the Web version are -very- protective of what they have. They spent MILLIONS of dollars (they claim) to have built that, and received nothing back on it.
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# peoplehrrrrrrrm 2010-04-08 13:49
Dozens of people who used the web version have tried to contact them about the supposed "licensing" they offer, and not one has ever received a reply.
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# RE: Cutting off your nose to spite your faceOld wizard 2011-12-14 08:16
The original PASCAL version was available as source code at one time. All one needs to do is track down someone who bought the BBS door or even the source code back in the day and buy that from them, then you could call it a pyroto, depending on the contract.
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# Pyroto DesignerTimothy Campbell 2012-02-17 11:28
I see that even in 2011 people are still occasionally writing about Pyroto. That's kinda nice. Those who remember it fondly might be interested to know that there's an article about the game on Wikipedia.

Those who were even more intensely involved might wonder what happened to TSOTL. (If you don't understand what that means, the rest of this post probably isn't for you.) The thing is, it seems I was on to something — philosophically — when I came up with that concept. You can find out more at my latest blog. Just to keep the game interesting, I'll mention that the word "tsotl" (lowercase) is mentioned in the blog. However, this won't necessarily be an easy search, because that acronym is used in many other contexts these days.

The game continues, after a fashion.
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# RE: Pyroto DesignerJames 2012-03-02 02:56
Quoting Timothy Campbell:
You can find out more at my latest blog.

This one?
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# RE: RE: Pyroto DesignerTimothy Campbell 2012-05-05 15:27
Quoting James:
This one?

Yes, you found it!
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# RE: Pyroto DesignerSoup 2013-03-30 15:58
Tim, you are still just an unbelievable douchebag. Congratulations on consistency, I guess.
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# Simple - track down people who bought the PascalSimple Answer 2012-09-23 21:16
The original BBS version was in Pascal. Find someone who bought THAT source code and license and buy those rights from them.

I know of at least 2 people who bought the Source License - so there has to be more than those 2 in existence.
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# I played in the late 90'sven 2012-12-07 02:19
I played the game in the 90's. I was one of the people who loved and still miss it to this day. I would play again in a second if it came back.

TSOTL....have not heard that in years.
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# RE: Cutting off your nose to spite your faceThe Big Geek 2013-04-22 23:36
Well, if anyone knows where/how I can get a LEGAL copy of the source code, please use the CONTACT US link on the top right and let me know :)
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# RE: Cutting off your nose to spite your faceOotpek 2013-07-12 17:20
Played back in the day in Toronto. Brother played. Went to Pyroto meets and even met the local admin and traded games with him.

Shame lack of business sense and common sense is keeping it dead.
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# DumbTony55 2013-12-17 07:11
The site is still up, and still the same deal. Its been updated to mention tablets, now, as well, but at those prices it will soon be talking about living on mars and flying cars, and still have no purchases. Its not an enterprise level CRM software, its a game for hobbyists. Moron.
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# Timothy CambellTony55 2013-12-17 07:13
Oh, and I saw an honorarium on their site for Timothy Campbell. Seems he passed this year (2013). Much respect to a man who brought enjoyment to so many of us. Rest in peace, brother.
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# I wonTarl Cabot 2014-01-23 12:29
I played Pyroto Mountain in Phoenix back in the good old days. We had a GT (Get Together) at the Sysop's house and the major players got to meet each other. I was the first person to reach the peak, and the Sysop awarded me with two crystals inside a cloth bag. Somewhere I still have printouts of the Phoenix-specific questions that made up our part of the mountain. That was SO much fun back then, and these days it would be considered too simple to waste time on.
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# SuluKeith Falkner 2014-01-24 01:06
I too enjoyed Pyroto Mountain in Toronto in the 1980s. There were several sites, and I was active on most of them, and sorry to see them go. I met a fine lady who was at first hostile to me, but we became friends when we met. She and I have celebrated twenty-five years of happy married life, so I reckon we are the big winners of that historic game. We met Tim Campbell, and now mourn his death. I rejoice to have met some fine people, along with the occasional oddball, on Pyroto Mountain.
I still search for one of the sysops (called Servant of TSOTL) and may find him near Avenue Road and Lawrence Avenue -- Milton Strang, you have been warned!
(inside joke)
I usually used the name Sulu, but was also known as Kirin or Mad Max or a few other names.
Truly, those were the days.
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# RE: SuluAmberle 2014-04-07 02:39
Congratulations on 25 years!
Those were fine days indeed.
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# SuluKeith Falkner 2015-03-29 11:36
Dear Amberle,
You were one of the wisest and genuine people on the mountain, and I enjoyed the occasions when I could see your lovely smile. You made some fine Pyroto T-shirts. I still have one, and wear it on special occasions, and again I see your smile.
I hope the mountain brought you joy.
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# RE: SuluThe Geek 2014-04-26 06:05
Yes, many congrats on the 25 years together!!
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# I miss Pyrotokillerweasel 2016-08-26 20:24
I miss Pyroto and the people I used to play with. I had a ton of names back in the day (killerweasel, vegeta317), but used to kamikaze the heck out of people at the top of mountains. I also never used to write down any of the questions and became a master of google-fu.
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