Money, money, money…

A very small update today, 0.7.5 improves a few script actions:

<inc> and <dec> now accept variables for the “amount” attribute. The .xsd already said they could in previous release, but that wasn’t the case.

<count> can now be used to count a card selector instead of a group. The new alternative usage goes like this (e.g. count all creature):
<count var="$n">
  <property name="Type" value="Creature">
    <all group="this" />
  </property>
</count>

<property> card selector has now access to the built-in “Name” and “Id” properties.

That being said, I’m considering a big disruptive change in the scripting system. I am thinking of letting the XML scripts down and use Boo instead. More about that another time.

Now what was the title about? Not Abba obviously…
I think I’ll try to put small Google ads on www.octgn.net. I’d like to be clear about of few things regarding ads:

The first objective of ads is covering the costs. OCTGN is a project without a single cent of earnings. The web isn’t free, though. E.g. I pay every year for the octgn.net domain name. (But thanks to all the free stuff listed on the website, we don’t have to spend too much money either.)

I have absolutely no experience with advertising, so I have no idea at all how much money it could make (or not!). If there are benefits I’ll definitively start by grabbing myself a beer for the OCTGN community. If there’s still some money left after I’m drunk I wouldn’t mind trying to organize some OCTGN event with prizes for Christmas, or create some shirts… but that’s just a some random ideas.

That being said I hate ads as much as you do so rest assured that it’ll be unobtrusive, no popup, no flash, and no ad inside the OCTGN software itself. (Which stays free and open source.)
BTW, the big ugly ad you see below each post is not mine at all. It’s put there by wordpress because I’m not paying for this blog 😉

Someone has asked me in a private message if there’s a way to make donations. I appreciate the spontaneous offer. Building OCTGN has been my hobby for the past 6 years and I suppose it wouldn’t hurt accepting a beer, or games, or whatever you think appropriate. I may put up a paypal link later. But I insist on one point: I accept donations for what OCTGN is today. Donations are not a way to boost feature requests. Except outrageously big donations, of course. 😀

Have a nice week-end everyone,

–jods

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17 Comments on “Money, money, money…”

  1. pyyhttu Says:

    How much would you need in donations to cover the domain costs in order to avoid the ads? Let me know and I’ll chip in.

  2. jods Says:

    hey Fork, you’re quick to jump in. 😉

    You’ve done so much for OCTGN I wouldn’t take any of your money. There’s a small group of people who haven’t counted their hours for this community (including OCTGN 1 and MtgPlay). I think they did enough already, Google can give us some of its money. BTW I’m disappointed that none of those people seem very active anymore… but it’s been years. 😉

    Everyone say thanks to the main beta-tester of OCTGN 2. Fork spent endless night playing against me in a crappy and buggy client!

  3. Justin Says:

    After this patch OCTGN would not load it says: Application cannot be started. Contact the application vendor.

  4. Justin Says:

    uninstall and reinstall fixed it. Nevermind.

  5. Kempeth Says:

    I don’t know how much money you’d make from ads considering how many people surf with ad blockers these days. I think a paypal donation button might actually be more useful overall.

    As for the scripting language. I definitely understand your desire to move to an existing language instead of maintaining your own. But why Boo? I never even heard of that language. Can’t you go for something a little more mainstream – like maybe Lua or Javascript? As I recall in the beginning there was a bit of an outcry over why you chose to make the xml script because it was so unusual. Sure, the people who really want to make games for octgn will learn whatever language you choose – but given a choice, I think most of us would prefer something we might encounter again somewhere else…

    • jods Says:

      At the very beginning, we wanted to use ECMAScript, as it’s relatively well known, lends itself quite well to scripting, and is a standard. (Quick digression: because OCTGN is an open-platform… up to this point. It’s sometimes a pain in the ass to restrain my choices to things that are inter-operable. There should have been a Java client, but as there will probably never be one I think I’m soon going to simplify a few things: the network protocol, use of vector images in the definitions, or the scripting language: boo is a .NET-only language.)

      OK back on topic. The point nobody sees is that there are strong technical restrictons on the scripting environment used by OCTGN. Because some actions are distributed (and hence asynchronous. E.g. shuffling, choosing a random number or revealing a card) I have only 2 choices:
      1. Present a very complex scripting model where you have to take care of that.
      2. Take care of that for you, while you write very intuitive scripts. That’s the way I’ve chosen (until now). Unfortunately “taking care for you” is hard and can’t be done if I don’t have some control over the execution of your scripts. The XML model is interpreted so I have full control and can do some nasty things.

      Of course, the advantage of an existing language is that it’s more expressive, easier to read, and comes with many more features than the quite limited xml-script I have to manage. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for an opportunity to replace it.

      It turns out that Boo may not fit the bill as well as I thought it would, so we’re back at square one: xml.

  6. Joris Says:

    Cool to see that my donation suggestion has made it to the blog and is being considered. (hopefully I won’t get the hatred of the community upon me for getting your mind set on money 😉
    I don’t know how google ads works, but since the userbase is small, I think you don’t get much “clicks” on banners and stuff. And they usually pay you per “click” I guess. Or maybe a standard sum + additional clickmoney.
    Since OCTGN has a reasonable dedicated or loyal or whatever you call it userbase, you could get more money with a donation at first. But it will dry up quickly I think because the userbase is so small.
    Hehe, you could make an “agreement” with the community, everytime they start up OCTGN, they voluntarily click on the advertisement to get you some money 🙂
    Personally, I’d rather donate.
    It would be the second time in many many years that I would pay money for any program. But I think Jods is worth it.

    Greetings Joris

    • jods Says:

      Thanks for your comments. I know I don’t donate to many projects either, so I feel honored that you think I deserve it.

      I love your agreement where people would click ads everytime they start OCTGN. But I have to point out that it’s explicitely forbidden by Google to ask you to do so. Apparently, clicks should only reflect a true interest in the product, which is sensible since a click on ads – unlike most of the web – is worth money.

      I’d point out that the OCTGN community is steadily growing and that it’s bigger than you may think (apparently the vast majority of people don’t bother registering on the forum and just download the application).

      Anyway, I have no idea how it’ll turn out. I don’t have big expectations but that will be an experience for me. It’s very easy to setup and is free to try… so let’s see!

  7. Kurt Says:

    I hope XML stays. I have my whole database / deck builder revolved around using the XML / .rels files that OCTGN uses on my site.

    I love the way it currently is.

  8. jods Says:

    Generally speaking XML stays. The only part I’d like to change (but I don’t have a good replacement at the moment) is the way actions are scripted.

  9. Kurt Says:

    Ah, then yeah I’d have no problem with that if you find a better solution eventually. =)

    It’s good to see OCTGN getting all these updates lately. Hopefully the Deck builder will get to be worked on eventually.

  10. pyyhttu Says:

    One more time back to the money topic: Whatever route you jods pursue, I’d also give http://flattr.com/ a look before making the choice.

    It’s a new volunteer based digg counter type micropayment option, which I believe to work for octgn better than ads.

    • Joris Says:

      Sorry if I’m mistaking, but it seems flattr.com needs people to sign up (which many people hate to do) and then expects those signed up people to pay a monthly fee. For me, I would rather donate a small gift instead of having to pay monthly.
      But maybe I’m wrong, but thats what I thought I saw in the intro movie.

    • Kempeth Says:

      Ehm, no thanks. Committing to a monthly payment just so that others can decide where the money goes? Count me out.

      I have to give the guy some credit though. Assuming he finds enough crazies to join he can make tons of money without any work at all…

    • jods Says:

      I agree with Joris and Kempeth. If most users already had a flattr account, and it was simply a matter of clicking on a link I would add it.

      But having to sign up to a new website, subscribe to a monthly fee, … that’s too much hassle.

  11. Octgnoob Says:

    Is OCTGN still in alpha stage or is it final already? Because thinking of ways to make money from it makes it seem like all the important stuff (like development, bug fixing and feature implementation) is done already, am I wrong?

    • jods Says:

      Completely (wrong).

      I’m not really “thinking of ways to make money” and I doubt I’ll ever be – even when O2 is final. I’m trying ads, mostly out of curiosity. That’s all – I’m not spending time trying to optimize my ads or figuring out other way to generate cash income.

      Regarding the official “status” of O2, I’d say we’ll soon call it a beta. I was calling it alpha for mainly two reasons:
      1. it was quite limited feature-wise. But today it’s not too bad and many people seem to think it’s enough to play with.
      2. alpha was a way for me to tell everyone: the file formats aren’t final, don’t create lots of sets and games because you’ll have to redo / redownload it all again. Seems like everyone ignored my warning and so I have built some set patching mechanism directly into O2. So that argument is pretty much out.

      So yeah, I’m going to call O2 a beta soon. Final? surely not, there’s TONS of things I’d like to do before labelling it “2.0”, and there’s even more ideas for the future future versions (2.5?).


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