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Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Hi all, long time no post 😉

Last year, I "quit" my job at Inedo. Sort of -- I went from being hyper-focused on scaling the company into a several-hundred person enterprise, to going back to what I truly enjoyed doing: leading a small business that makes products that users find enough value in to buy.

I'm really happy with my "new" job because it gives me a lot of freedom to do things that I want, instead of only "executing shareholder directives laid out by the board of directors". For example, I recently opened a coworking space in my city - and shockingly, one of the members was an author of a popular series of kids interactive fiction books. Pretty cool.   

Which brings me to CYS. As you may know, I started this site as a hobby more than 20 years ago, and thanks to the amazing community, it's grown to be more than I ever imagined it would be. All this happened looong after I "quit" this hobby -- these days my role is to just keep server alive and assist the site admins when I can. And sometimes I lurk.

I plan to continue doing that as long as I can... but why not take it further, especially now that I have the resources to?

I think it'd be pretty cool if CYS was a small business run by a team that is passionate about the "product". I don't know what the "product" is exactly -- obviously something with storygames, authors, etc. -- nor do I know if we could find a team passioniate about such a product -- but that's what a business plan/model is for. Not there yet, obviously.

I thought I'd start here.

So, as The Community... I'm curious to hear your thoughts on CYS becoming a business.

Personally, I think having a team dedicated to supporting/updating/improving the website would make it all worth it be great. And if I'm being honest.... I reaaaaly want to see this ancient code I wrote updated 😆 

But ... what do you think?

Alex P

Should CYS become a buisness?

one month ago

What??? It's alexp??? first. But I'd say my main concern is what would have to be done to turn this site into a buisness. It'd need to generate revenue and that would mean selling something. I would have to say I'm pretty iffy on the idea of charging for storygames. And I'm not sure it would work, given how hard it is to get big storygames read when they are free. But this additional revenue might mean marketing that could attract more readers, but I'm skeptical it could offset that. There's also making money through advertising, and I personally would be in favor of that trade off if advertising could make much for the site, though I have my doubts it could given the relatively small userbase. Even if it could grow, this'll always been a quite niche market. I mainly view this place as a hobby site, the old style is part of the appeal. The main appeal is the smallness and tightness of the community. I have the feeling if we became a buisness we'd have to become more like COG, which isn't that good. Maybe this could be avoided, but I see it as a legitimate concern But this is just my thoughts, I'm more interested to hear from the people who have been around forever and/or are prolific authors on here, since they are the ones with real skin in the game.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Thanks for the thoughts! 

"I would have to say I'm pretty iffy on the idea of charging for storygames."

~10 years ago I thought it would have been impossible... but then I think about mobile games, microtransactions, and I see all these things people are happy to pay for.

For example, I'm certain many people would be happy to pay $1.99 to "have" Eternal on their phone, with a decent "bookmarking" (save state?), etc. It's a very stand-alone thing storygame/experience.The overwhelming majority of these people wouldn't be community members, nor even know/care they could login to CYS and play for free.

Obviously Endmaster could create that app if he really wanted to... but perhaps that's what CYS could do as a business. Just some random thoughts. 

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

I agree with everything Ace said, but then again, as he also said, it really depends on what the people who contribute a lot more to the site think. 

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Hello! I'm Gryphon, you probably have no idea who I am since I only joined and started making games about two years ago. First off, fantastic site, and thanks for continuing to maintain it for all these years!

Since most CYStians are broke, minors, hobbyists only, or all three, I suspect most people are going to be very reluctant about any kind of monetization efforts, particularly with the negative contrast of other money-making-storygame-sites like COG. Charging any kind of money for anything changes the atmosphere of a website, even when it's done in a limited way.

If I had to hazard a guess (I don't speak for anyone), I'd think the kind of monetization CYStians would be most open to would be the kind that is entirely optional, non-intrusive, and driven by authors and users. I know some sites that are mostly free hobby sites give some authors the ability to choose to charge money for their stories, on a game-by-game basis (or after a short preview), while the majority of works on the site are still free. Similarly, some sites have all the games being free, but users have the opportunity to "tip" authors whose games they really like. Another option would be for authors to choose to charge money for potential user customization in the creation stage of their story (i.e a user can "hire" an author to write a specific path or include a specific character), but the finished game would still be free to anyone, and this kind of transaction would be optional for authors.

In short: Monetization changes a site, and I think most CYStians are going to be very leery of it. If it's going to be popularly accepted at all, I suspect it would be as a limited, optional feature that changes existing site culture/experience as little as possible, if that's possible.

Thanks again for the site!

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Hi Gryphon, thanks!

That's a great articulation -- "entirely optional, non-intrusive, and driven by authors and users" -- and all great monetization ideas.

Ultimately, I think revenue would not come from CYStians, but from people who want to consume high-quality, independently-created content at a low price. Maybe the job of the CYS business would be to simply connect those consumers with content.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

I haven't really been active around here very long (and it's still quite spotty) and my opinion won't hold much weight but I do think that turning this site into a small business isn't the right direction. Part of what makes this place so unique, as you've said, is the community. When you turn a place like this into something that turns a profit you've already altered the fundamentals that allowed this site to grow into what it is now. I see this place as probably the least censored of most writing communities and to be... well, not lawless but mostly without overt regulation. Most people here can basically say whatever they want, social norms be damned, as long as they don't break the very loose sight rules. When you're turning a profit, that sort of structure wouldn't last. If CYS go the advertising route, as Ace suggested, CYS would then have to become 'advertiser-friendly'. Maybe an alternative is opening up a page where the community can donate and help pay for improvements to the sight. Making monetization community centered and non-obligatory is the best way to go. As much as I love Storium, a site that kind of mixes games and collaborative writing, I do disagree with the structure they have set up there. There, they have members and non-members. While that works, it does create a them/us situation which I don't think would benefit this site. Plus, as mentioned by Gryphon, COG is exactly what to avoid. That's why I would push to open a donation stream rather than creating a small business. 

Personally, I think this place is a haven of open-mindedness and feels much like the final frontier of writing (not even just choose your own adventures) when it comes to censorship. So despite everything I said, I'd still be willing to pay for this service. Thanks for making this site, Alex! Do whatever you think is best!

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

I appreciate all opinions, especially new voices!

Community-centered and non-obligatory would be the only path I'd be interested in supporting. Also, I really don't like advertising. 

As I mentioned in another reply, revenue would have to come from non-members -- basically content consumers. 

As a creator, there's a joy/validation when someone pays money for something you created -- and partnering with authors to make that happen would be great. 

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Hello Alex, our overlord

The main charm of the site has always been it being a tight hobbyist community. And while I can see the temptation because the site tends to produce the best stories. I figure that's due to the creative freedom only a hobbyist site could allow.

I feel once money gets involved then you sort of have to curb certain creative liberties. Well, maybe you don't have to. But my fear would be a decline in atmosphere that makes the site less appealing to most people. And honestly, I'd be worried about any trends that even remotely remind me of Cog

 

That place is a dystopian shit show full of a majority 2IQ brained whackjobs. Not all of em of course. And I know you probably wouldn't say it here but you can silently nod and agree at what a joke that place has become.

 

Could we make it work much better than Cog? Probably. Do we want to? Eh, maybe tomorrow.

 

But seriously the main appeal really is the chill hobbyist community. And monetization here would just sorta flip that over on its head. 

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Hi corgi213,

Do you really think " the site tends to produce the best stories."?

Over the years, I've tried other interactive fiction stories/sites  - and I dunno, there just "meh". Some were overproduced, and just read like "generic YA novels" with cliched plots and nothing really that interesting. Some of the storygames I've played here have been really amazing -- but you know, I'm biased.

None of the authors/members on this site produce content here to make a living, and I think monetizing that content wouldn't change that. But getting a couple hundred bucks in revenue share from happy consumers might be nice. Now whether there's enough consumers out there to make a business..... no idea.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

It really does in my opinion. It's probably a combination of factors, but definitely part of it is it not being a commercial thing.

there just "meh"

*They're :D

Yeah I mean there are of course some good ones out there, but I feel a lot really are just meh. Especially the ones that are just selling peoples interactive gay furry porn.

I get a bit of money would be nice. And maybe there is some middle ground, Im just saying this site has a very unique charm that might be lost otherwise.

 

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
I don't think the community would be the way it is if the site was a business and not a place people visit purely out of love for the community and the stories.

(Also when I imagine the sort of advertisers a site like this would get, if you did just put up ads, they aren't the most trustworthy or family friendly.)

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
Commended by TharaApples on 12/27/2022 6:20:06 PM
Hey Alex! It's great Santa left us this update from you, and I'm really happy things are going so well in your own life. Gotta say though the "business" word may be a scary one for a lot of folks here. Updates to the code are welcome and all, but hiring an official team would mean expectations of making the money back, and that opens a whole nother can of worms. Nightwatch and Killa have done a great job with what they can in their off time, but pretty much everything about the CYStian identity has grown from being a group of passionate hobbyists. And even with a lot of the daily chat/shitposting having moved to Discord, we do pride ourselves in trying to keep that late 90s internet atmosphere alive in this little haven from what so much of the rest of it has become today. The monetization fever that has taken over absolutely everything today I've always seen as being a bit of a cancer upon creative communities, in that it just changes a person's whole relationship with their own work, and why they're doing it, and for who. (I don't think a microfiction as based as WARCHIMP could have come about in that environment, and it seems like it would require nuking the Fanfic section as well...which, well some may not see and issue with this, but we did just get a pretty impressive looking Star Wars game that obviously was a labor of love for the author...) But a greater issue is that so many of the readers and active users here have always been kids (I think stargirl is like 12? And many of the old guard today joined at that age somewhere around 2014.) or others who are specifically here because it is exactly what it is--which is more than just a writing site. CYS even with all its creakiness and quirks is at its heart a beautiful place where a crippled Serbian fascist and a Catholic transman can live in harmony with the founder of the Cyslam capybaliphate. (And if you didn't that last bit, it's because the lore goes VERY deep...) And we are all extraordinarily grateful you gave us the platform for this which has allowed it to stay an oasis during the slow grim sterilization process that we watched overtake pretty much all other interactive fiction communities. If you're willing to go so far as put a professional team of programmers towards the cause of bettering the interactive fiction world, I would almost wonder whether taking a stab at the mobile market would be the best use of that effort? That does seem to be the future of things, and yet it's a wasteland out there with only a couple of bright spots for people who really do like to read varied cool things and aren't just in it for the werewolf porn. Whether it was an app that simplified self publishing, or an actual publishing service like CoG or some kind of subscription thing, you would have an established community backing it and spreading the word, and it would be a VERY welcome option for authors here while leaving the site itself still this ancient coral reef housing our bizarre and beloved little ecosystem untouched. But as far as monetization built into the site itself, I'm sure everyone's given a thought or two as to what that would look like over the years. The least intrustive thing I could think of would be to add a button for tipping or donations, with I suppose the site itself taking a cut. I don't know what kind of amounts those would generate, considering again that I really get the sense the vast number of readers are kids, but it would be a way to test the waters without making any kind of dramatic change at least.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Hey mizal! Thanks for the thoughts, and of course for keeping the site alive. It's really cool to feel so welcomed in the community ;)

The retrovibe is fun - and actually give it enough time, it just might be back in some day! But yes, I think you're on to something with mobile -- the more I think about it / chat with you all, that's the only way I could ever see enough revenue to support a business (i.e. a small fulltime team).

The "tipping" idea is great... wonder if we could do that now? Not for CYS, but for authors. Maybe link to their patreon or something.. it would be interesting to see if any of the anonymous readers find a story worth a buck or two. Assuming.... that's how patreon even works 😅

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
Technically it just takes a bit of HTML and any author could embed a button into their profile and try. I think Briar was getting about $45 a month through Patreon at one point, but she ended up shutting it down and taking a break from writing awhile after the whole fiasco with Jason on CoG caused some health problems. Considering she brought a pretty sizeable audience along with her at the time there's no telling what that could've led to if she'd kept the momentum going. Lots of CoG authors are splintering away right now and moving their stuff to Twine or using other tools, putting their work up on itch.io etc, but it's all pretty disorganized and they're left on their own as far as advertising if they don't already have a following that can keep together through the move. I've been assuming at some point a better solution will pop up once somebody sees the need and opportunity and is in a position to do something about it. The big edge CoG has right now is being able to package Choicescript games for app stores and make them part of the greater CoG library, and of course the ownership of Choicescript itself--unlike most other IF tools, no one can use it for a monetized game unless they're publishing through CoG directly. They take the majority of sales revenue from authors in order to do this, because "writing" and "marketing skill and technical knowhow" are still a pretty rare combination.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Lots of CoG authors are splintering away right now and moving their stuff to Twine or using other tools, putting their work up on itch.io etc, but it's all pretty disorganized and they're left on their own as far as advertising if they don't already have a following that can keep together through the move.

This would be the perfect time to make a mobile app and just leech the COG defectors since they are moving any ways.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Very much not to defend Jason, but I think my mental health problems were more to do with a build up of a lot of serious issues that were kind of ignored for too long until my brain kind of went kaput. My sister is going through something similar right now, which is very sad and really hurts to see her that way, but also a little bit reassuring to know that my family is prone to this kind of illness and it wasn't simply a case of me turning into a crazy psycho bitch for no reason.

... But yeah, the idea of something similar to CoG, only not terrible, does sound extremely appealing. ^_^

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
Man I'm just here to vibe, go nuts Mr. AlexP.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Welcome back Alex. I just sent you a message on Twitter a few days back lol doesn't look like you're that active there tho. 

 

I'd love to see this entity grow and will always help when needed. Hope the ol gang is doing well. I remember it all fondly. 

 

Nate

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Wow, hi Nate! Good to see you lurking around too :)

I'll check Twitter -- I'm obviously not very active there either

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Always and forever really. MAG and CYS are in my DNA. LOL 

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Same!

FYI -- didn't see a Twitter DM though. My handle is @apxltd - feel free to email or Facebook Messanger too!

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
Commended by alexp on 12/24/2022 12:42:52 PM

Lo! The prophesied return! We are in the presence of Alexius Rex.

Personally I'm really not sure about the idea of this place becoming a business. I'm sure there is some unobtrusive way that monetization could be implemented as an option, but I really question what would happen to the ecosystem here if ulterior incentives and advertising were introduced. A point of pride for this website I think is that we have readers, active regulars, and people making thought-out comments and reviews. Which is exceedingly rare for a fiction website, interactive or not, below the CoG size threshhold where these things are bound to occur by probability alone.

The magic of CYS, however, is the total democratization of content and culture that's taken place here. The stories that stay on the site are essentially up to popular vote, and the stuff that gets posted is free to be crude, unpalatable, or strange within the tolerances of the community.  This place is home to not only surreal and avant-garde stories, but exceedingly violent and edgy ones. It's also not only home to just stories, but quizzes, puzzles, RPGs, weird math games, school reports, informational little PSA-like stories, and all manner of interesting and bizarre things that just don't happen in a CoG-like setting where stories are the product. And I think that never knowing what you're going to get is part of the spark here. By my guess, CYS may be one of the biggest collections of just, high-quality Outsider Art from all genres that actually gets seen and considered by anyone on the internet. And to monetize it would raise quite some concerns.

For one thing, our community and content is not advertiser-friendly, and the freedom to be contrary, uncouth, and weird, is probably a tremendous pull factor that keeps us together, though it does cause troublesome interactions. This volatility is unpredictable and probably even inscrutable from an outside perspective- and, I think, that's really not something people investing money or ads and whatnot into this community would want. People also generally dislike ads, and I woul guess, without some other important additions whatever they may be, people would just feel like the browsing experience decreased in quality without any perceivable benefit. 

If there were a push to become advertiser-friendly, I think we would lose a lot of people and stories that make this place fundamentally what it is, and stifle the atmosphere in such a way that I feel like important parts of the active community would gangrene not long after. This sort of open town square of ideas where you can make and say truly anything within reason would pretty suddenly become a place where you can say very few things, and, flatly put, simply less things would be created. Over the years we have been entertained by people from all ends of the political orthogahedron, almost every fandom I could name, people with a lot of absolutely off-the-wall ideas and people who do a handful of simple ideas with great artistry, and all other manner of internet wanderers brave enough to set up things here. But when you make advertising a priority, you kind of give sponsors control over what can be allowed to appear, equal to or greater than the entirely organic market formed by the community and its top contributors, and that can be poisonous for a small ecosystem like this.

To contrast, I would point to far bigger places like CoG, again, which is a very homogenized place with internet culture very similar to youtube, twitter, and reddit- Which, while they are generally polite and outwardly presentable, this mass corralling of the populace into an expected measure of decorum also creates an adversarial and authoritarian relationship between the community and its custodians, with a lot of disenfranchised creatives who dislike the system, most of its leadership, and are borderline ashamed to be using the platform in the first place. Small niches of interest can be carved out, but they are regulated in unfortunate ways, for they rest under a proverbial Eye of Sauron. This place in itself is a small niche of interest that just happens to get a lot of visitors and readers, and maybe the whole system wouldn't be super sustainable if CYS had nearly as many users as CoG, but the little organization we have is generally good for who we have, and I think the people currently with us form a neat and dynamic sieve through which only the reasonably mature idiots who can be trusted with the freedom CYS provides, can survive and thrive here.

In truth, if there really were no considerations to be made for the content preferences of advertisers, I would have no problem making an adblock exception for a place as dear to my heart as this. But I'm not sure if even other users who like the place even as much as I do would share that sentiment.

An alternate method of monetization is to make stories the product, but that creates a potentially even more deadly cycle for places like this. I feel like this is a cringy childish parable to bring into a discussion like this, but it's the only analogue to the kind of mischievous, hare-brained creative energy this place has that I know anything about.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, there was a game called TF2. It was already a very unique video game completely unusual to others of its kind in the first person genre. Most gamemodes incentivized teamwork over individual performance, and the combat was a back-and-forth cartoonish gunfight rather than an immediately-resolved dispute where the person with better reflexes and map-awareness would win every time. This created an incredible game that is completely alien and antithetical to all other shooters to this day. Because of the teamwork aspects making other players actually worth paying attention to at all skill levels, this created a social atmosphere where players developed a unique and vast vocabulary of taunts, voice-commands, and other interactions and in-jokes. Where wandering into an enemy-controlled area in any other game would yield extremely predictable results, TF2 players could walk into an enemy base and high-five the other team and then walk out relatively un-exploded while a tremendous battle is just happening on the floor underneath them.

This and more meant the community was unmistakably unique in and of itself, but every Halloween, they would go all out. There were maps, cosmetics, and minigames unique to this time of year, all of which were completely wild and balanced not at all around winning in skill at the game's combat like most of the other content, but around the goofy stuff that the community did all on its own. However- The way that these Halloween cosmetics were initially distributed throughout the community was toxic to the atmosphere. Every once in a while, a box would simply appear somewhere on the map, and notify everyone. Suddenly, the entire game and everyone interacting within it would cease for 5 to 10 minutes as they frantically ran to get their free hat. You've probably heard of the TF2 hat market because that's perhaps the thing that has most escaped the community. Back then, any hat you found during Halloween was not only rare and special, but tradable for effectively some amount of real-life currency depending on what it was. Suddenly, as opposed to picking classes that were most effective for what players wanted to do in the game, players were picking classes that had the best mobility for getting around the map and finding the box first. No one was doing what they wanted to do anymore, Halloween became a slog of salt, envy, and resentment, and the system was drastically changed so that free Halloween hats weren't tradeable and were also rewarded mostly according to goals centered around actually playing the game rather than a race to the finish.

I guess an analogy I could have gone with as opposed to this whole spiel was this- A bunch of people are having fun splashing around in a pool, gradually making up their own game with the ball or whatever they have in the pool with them. Everybody has different skills and different goals, and are trying to do different things, but everyone is having a good time. Then, some person sneaks up, drops a heavy gold bar in the deep end, and runs off. Suddenly, the game that these friends were playing is gone, and what has replaced it is "Who can pull the heavy gold bar up to the surface and get home with it first?". Only certain people in that friend group will be any good at that. And the competition between all of them will be fierce nonetheless.

Assuming there's a limited amount of attention a site can get, because there is, a system that monetizes stories creates a sad and unfortunate homogeny. When stories become "units" to be "moved", as they are on CoG, who I would highlight is the only really big example of this it creates a stifling market where art races to control the biggest share of the lowest common denominator. Outside of the very few mold-breakers who have to sign a riskier contract than other games, CoG games are almost all assembly-line pieces of quite uniform tales with customizable cardboard protagonists and gender or sexuality flip-flopping romance partners marketted at tumblr kids and the wine moms they grow up to be. This happens on other monetized game platforms that have allowed this as well. Roblox games are now almost all incremental app-like-games designed by teams to wring money out of children. Fortnite was once its own strange and interesting game that became a roblox-like sandbox platform capable of aping everything popular, from Pubg to Town of Salem and all the other shit, designed to wring money out of children and whoever liked whatever it was imitating. And no matter what other interesting things are on the platform, the tasteless majority will win, because it works. The platform will attract people who are good at making that kind of thing as opposed to making whatever they want for the purposes of having their art read. The clones of the profitable thing will flood the site in much the same way that Warrior Cats did, and those games will in turn attract a young community with no interest in what actually made the site good in the first place.

Who knows what it would be that eventually takes over in the event of individual game monetization- Whether it's the archetypal CoG imitation game or something else, it'll become the CYS game, when one of the aspects of CYS's beauty is that there is no CYS game. There are Endmaster games, there are Steve games, and Mizal games, and Ogre games, and the renowned CYBERMONKEY franchise. And certain things may become more or less famous across the site, but you still never know what's going to show up in the New Storygames section because nothing is incentivized except making a game in the first place, and you never know what's going to take off as a cultural touchstone in the community, even if it's really good or really terrible from a quality standpoint, because it's entirely subject to the taste of people who read on their own free time for points and commendations. There are games that have been too terrible to even remain on the site that people still reference now as part of this rich tapestry of humorous esoterica, because love for this place and its ideosyncracies is the purest motivator.

Another alternative is merchandise, but that also risks causing this same homogeny by proxy, and MHD seems to be selling her art for CYS fans already.

If there had to be something monetizable about CYS, I think the only way to do it without really killing the magic would be something that's entirely unique to this place- The Cystian propensity for War. Granted, gathering up the want and the sustained focus of the community to consistently do something for money might be too inconsistent to form a real business around, but it would be funny if this happened. Many of CYS's most fondly remembered community excursions and bonding experiences have been in its friendly competition with other places, whether it was the time several members all gathered to sweep the Spring Thing contest, submit hundreds of stories and reviews to the IFDB, secretly rebel with CoG expats during the Briar Fiasco, and even war with ourselves during writing contests and the legendary Commander event that is lost to time.

I'm not sure if channeling the good will of a ragtag collection of capricious and vitriolic internet nerds is stable fuel for a business, but at the very least, CYS is a very interesting and resilient thing that can grow out of their proverbial petri dish into other places when properly nurtured and pointed in the right direction. CYS might not be easily monetizable, but, with the right signposting, they can be pointed in the direction of something that is, at their leisure, as long as it's not too intrusive. How long it'll last, I'm not sure, because we never exactly wound up doing anything like this on a permanent timescale before, but I feel like it would be a way to make money with CYS without disrupting what CYS is, and that's certainly better than nothing.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

I think this is the most eloquently worded "no" I've ever read but I wholeheartedly agree with this. Alex, you opening it up to "non-CYStians" in order to turn a profit is a mistake, I believe. Risking this community that ISP here has just so perfectly put is something I don't think is worth any reward. This community persists even in a cancel-culture bogged down censored world and that is something we need to fight to preserve. Just some food for thought, I suppose.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

"Alexius Rex" 😂 I had a sudden desire to play Jurassic Fairview Park again.

A lot of great thoughts in here, I appreciate it.  I can sum up my thoughts on advertising (both as a business model, user, for the community) with one emoticon: 🤮

 

So I suspect storygames would be the only revenue potential, and my take away is there are two big model issues...

Publisher Model. I guess this is what CoG is? And the cookie-cutter approach is necessary here, for the same reason every-other-movie is a superhero flick. It costs a lot of money to edit/publish stuff, and there's a big risk to straying far from the mold. I saw this with my defunct hobby games company... 

App Store Model. Letting authors publish what they want, like Roblox? think you summed it here: "The platform will attract people who are good at making that kind of thing as opposed to making whatever they want for the purposes of having their art read."

Those models are both "good" business models... but I have no interest in them, and I agree, they wouldn't be a good fit for the community.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

what that site looks so cool, how does it not take off

I blame the internet

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
As usual Sent says things better than anyone else can.
Who knows what it would be that eventually takes over in the event of individual game monetization- Whether it's the archetypal CoG imitation game or something else, it'll become the CYS game, when one of the aspects of CYS's beauty is that there is no CYS game. There are Endmaster games, there are Steve games, and Mizal games, and Ogre games, and the renowned CYBERMONKEY franchise. And certain things may become more or less famous across the site, but you still never know what's going to show up in the New Storygames section because nothing is incentivized except making a game in the first place, and you never know what's going to take off as a cultural touchstone in the community, even if it's really good or really terrible from a quality standpoint, because it's entirely subject to the taste of people who read on their own free time for points and commendations. There are games that have been too terrible to even remain on the site that people still reference now as part of this rich tapestry of humorous esoterica, because love for this place and its ideosyncracies is the purest motivator.
Just pulling this brick out of the text wall to put it on display, because it really does perfectly encapsulate the core of what I think makes CYS unique. There have been major shifts over the years in what a "popular" story looks like, but it's all been organic and community driven, and the community is still at a size where all it takes is one writer with big enough balls to swing it in whatever direction. Endmaster popularized the "Endmaster style game", but puzzle and RPG type games seem to be making a comeback thanks to people like Gryphon for instance, when it used to only be Berka holding the line while the item system was languishing for years.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

17% of my motivation to CYS as a business is so that I can better experience these on mobile. I suppose I could just do some CSS fixes, or something 😆

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

I don't care what you do as long as I get my own trophy.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Typing all that really tired me out, but with the few words I have left in my brain I'd like to say thanks not only for making this place, but keeping it all these years. Lots of people kind of view this as their internet home and have done since they were kids, and I feel like you've shaped lives and given people a wild kind of window into this hobby and the world with all these people in it, that's vanishingly rare on the internet now. And thank you for listening!

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
Commended by TharaApples on 12/27/2022 6:20:30 PM
Lots of "no" opinions here. And lots of good reasonings. Of course, without really know the what and how of the monetization, I'm not sure I can really give a good yes or no.

I've seen a lot of writing sites and tons and tons of Internet attempts to make money over the years.

Some of the excellent points I've seen here as well:

1. We have a unique site, with unique people, and many of the stories may not be, well, acceptable in the mainstream.
2. No one wants ads. Everyone hates ads. I'm not sure ad models even work any more with the ad blockers that exist today.
3. People don't want to mess with the good flow we have here and are afraid that monetization will change what people do, how they interact with the site, and how they will write for the site.

I do get that currently on this site, people can learn, grow, and experiment with writing. We have some very basic, new writers, and we have writers that have started out basic and learned more, perhaps even from interactions on this site. I don't think people would want to lose that aspect of the site.

Personally, I've never seen the "tip jar" model really do anything. As others have pointed out, if any writer here really wanted to do that, they can put that in their stories and profile easily. It might change with a newer and different audience, but I suspect it might not. I think the current user base here is not one that would do that -- heck, I've got a free story linked from my profile to another site and I think two people have ever found it/read it.

There would be a lot of competition for something like this. There are a LOT of sites right now where you can write and attempt to earn micropayments. Not a lot that's set up like this one, with the main focus of CYS, of course, but existing writers can find them if they want to now.

I've been on the site for some time and honestly for years I always expected the site to just go missing one day. That's not a dig on you, just how the site felt for a few years. So an overhaul and update would be nice (especially with a mobile shift, of course).

Looking a little more in depth, I think there would be a HUGE, massive challenge to try and update the code with new things and still keep it working with stories that were written so long ago. I think it would be great, but might take a bit more effort than people think.

I think current people here would really like to know more about the product before they can really support the idea (at least based on what I'm reading here). And with the product known, that would help describe the target of the product. For example, if the target of the product is going to be new readers, that will make some people here nervous, because that will mean DIFFERENT people reading stories! I know, scary. Knowing if the product is, for example, ALL stories, that would let people see that maybe this won't be a site for learning and new stories. And, of course, there's certainly the possibility of a middle ground: writers appear to like the community-like building of the site, so maybe the side of CYS that's money-based is only one part. Perhaps the site stays like this, but there's a new part with stories that have been rated above a 4 that end up being built/set up for the monetization part.

That said, I do want to thank you for keeping this little corner of the Internet going. It has been quite a lot of fun for me, and I've enjoyed it a great deal. And yes, I would count myself as one of those who has learned more about writing through the use of this site and the *ahem* lovely people here!

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Thanks Ogre11

I agree, "welcoming new writers" is a great aspect of this community, and is what I always wanted. I can't stand those elitist groups who act as if they were born with {talent}, be it writing, programming, business, or whatever.

"There would be a lot of competition for something like this" -- that's great news! That means there's a market :)

"I think there would be a HUGE, massive challenge to try and update the code with new things and still keep it working with stories that were written so long ago" -- I'm getting excited already, I live for these engineering challenges 😍

// on an engineering/technical note, it shouldn't be too bad. It'd have to be a side-by-side implementation, and the scope/timeline of the "new" stuff would really dictate how transitioning would work

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
>Perhaps the site stays like this, but there's a new part with stories that have been rated above a 4 that end up being built/set up for the monetization part.

This seems like one of the more workable ideas, maybe as some kind of subscription thing. But a few things to consider: Given the ages involved, not every community member has a credit card or bank account, and I would not want to see people who have been a part of things here forced out over this. (Or Gryphon for instance, who has been one of the recent top contributors but just flat out doesn't put identifying info online.)

There's still a lot of authors who posted something years ago and bounced, I assume their stories would have to be excluded, along with any fanfic. (And when it comes to older stories, the rating inflation of the early years would have to be addressed.)

But if this was an opt in thing for authors, I wouldn't be opposed. Because even then there'd still be that window before it had an official rating where it could be accessed by the more dedicated readers, seems like a good middle ground. (Standards might have to be higher than a 4 though. That just means it has grammar.)

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

I'm still extremely new and only have two storygames that are meh at best, but here are my thoughts.

 I like the idea of the optional tip/donation system. Maybe I would write something worthy of that someday. I also worry that at the same time our forums would fill up with bot and noob spam begging to donate to their barely written "stories". 

 I agree with pretty much everyone else that monetizing the site would eventually result in more restriction. Right now you can just tell the crybaby snowflakes to take their wet diapers somewhere else. The moment those same snowflakes become a potential source of income, however,  you have to cater to them slightly. One of the charms of this site is the level of freedom that you just don't see on the internet much anymore. I would like to see that charm maintained. 

 My last point is paywalls. That was my immediate worry when seeing this post. Everything in CYS can be earned, which is great. I didn't actually see you or anyone else suggest changing this, but I figured I would point it out as something that I don't think should be considered. 

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

I'm curious, what do you mean "Everything in CYS can be earned"? I forgot basically all of the features of this site 😅

Paywalls suck. Create high-quality products that people want and they will gladly pay.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

My knee jerk reaction was no, but seeing how much you seem to have taken community feedback to heart, I think you can probably find a way to monetize the site without destroying its unique character. I think our often vulgar and always weird culture is kind of the beating heart of what makes CYS what it is, so anything lilke the publisher / advertising model would be inappropriate - maybe some works could adopt a Bandcamp / In Rainbows "pay what you like" model? I can't see that being profitable enough to sustain a real business, though. 

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Hi there, AlexP! Mystic here — I started writing and reviewing storygames in 2020, so you probably don’t know me, but I just want to start by saying thank you for creating CYS. It’s been a brilliant site and one of my favorite parts of the internet to visit, largely due to the community. 

I share the same sentiments as most of the members on the site; namely, that it’s best to keep CYS out of the monetization route. Whilst I certainly see the appeal of having more readers, monetizing storygames, and updating the site, I have to agree with the majority in that it isn’t worth the trade off: losing its core characteristics as a result. 

In regards to implementing a system to receive donations from non-CYS members, I personally don't think it would work without fundamentally changing CYS' culture. If the site remains as it is, I doubt most people would be likely to receive many donations (e.g. such as Ogre's example of how rarely the links on profile pages are visited). Yet, if the site changes to accommodate for mainstream audiences... well, I don't think I'll need to rehash what's already been said. Even if this isn't the case, having money-making as a writing motivator is unnecessary at best and a good way to attract the wrong kinds of authors at worst. 

That being said, I've seen a few ideas where another updated version of CYS is created, and the aforementioned benefits apply except that this occurs on a different platform (e.g. an app or otherwise). As this doesn't directly change the way things operate on CYS, I'm personally not against it, though I can't speak for everyone else.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

hey Mystic, thanks you :)

What you wrote sounds like what has been floating around in my head for a bit...

"another updated version of CYS is created, and the aforementioned benefits apply except that this occurs on a different platform (e.g. an app or otherwise)."

... from a technical, community, and business standpoint it would be the only way that route that makes any sense.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Leaving Cys aside, I think some kind of different platform for storygame monetization could actually be great if done properly. I would suggest a subscription based storygame hosting app.

The ideal things that I would want it to do:  

1. Helping monetize creative work for cys writers

2. Gain money and people to improve Cys website

3. Minimal influence on creative decisions of publishing writers

4. Open and entirely optional to apply for

 

From what I’ve seen some apps use a combination of ingame currency to unlock premium options, ads, and timed energy to unlock story chapters. Also read the first X chapters for free. I think these things change how writers look at their work, incentivizes repetition and copying working formulas, and causes vicious competition between writers (on which story limited energy/currency is spent). It also causes readers to enjoy their platform less. The writers try to appeal to the ones that stay, who generally like wearwolf romance stuff.

That’s why I would suggest doing something similar to Netflix in essence. Unlock all works for a minimal monthly fee. The problem is generating quality stories that appeal to a vast audience at a rate fast enough to make it worthwhile for readers to stay. But if that works on a small scale, the safety of steady income with the money invested back could make a forward feedback loop that would facilitate growth.

Probably giving a full free first week access would help, and giving a bigger part of the monthly pie to the highly rated highly played stories. The audience’s influence on the kinds of stories made, and this community’s support would be two good questions. But generally, I would find what I described to be a good thing for writers. I’m hesitant to say if something like this could be realistic since interactive fiction is kindof a niche thing. 

Needless to say these are just my random thoughts. Thank you for making this site!

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

That’s why I would suggest doing something similar to Netflix in essence. Unlock all works for a minimal monthly fee. "

This is great! And yes, it certainly addresses the concerns of the App Store Model that was discussed earlier.

 

What's also good thing for the Unlimited Content Model is that revenue sharing system is entirely in the hands of CYS, and could continue be community-driven instead of algorithm-driven. That would make it effectively impossible for someone to "game" a revenue sharing system by publishing garbage content. Defintiely something to consider!

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

This might be dev-intensive, but one way I think might concievably monetise the place without mechanically encouraging people to work on one particular kind of game over another, would be some kind of service that allows you to download games and play them offline? Maybe it should be some kind of subscription thing. I'm not sure I've thought through the ramifications, but from a practical standpoint I think I'd really like to take a big storygame on a trip with me somewhere that I'll have batteries or power but not necessarily internet.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
You WOULD advocate for CYS+.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

💯

"offline reader" would be the only way to do mobile anyways, and it's what I was thinking with "paying $1.99 to have Eternal on my phone" - it's like a eBook or something you buy and "own"

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
No

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
Well, damn. Welcome back, Alex P. Thanks for keeping the lights on all these years.

I found this site not long after I crashed and burned as a game designer, and running a forum game here was the first creative thing I did, in the aftermath of that. Even though I came to the conclusion that there were better tools for authoring choice-based interactive fiction, I stuck around. So I do sympathise with everyone who's saying no, don't change it, you'll break it.

But the choice, I suspect, isn't "monetize or keep things the same." The choice is "monetize or watch CYS die a lingering death." Things have already slowed down, in the ten years I've been here. What happens when someone else decides they want to eat CoG's lunch, with better authoring tools, more freedom, and a viable monetization strategy? Do you think CYS will be anything but a ghost town, a few years later -- never mind another ten?

Or CYS could evolve. Take the best ideas from other tools and implement them. Recruit new authors on the basis of the new-and-improved tools, plus the option to monetize. Advertise to find an audience for those authors. Things you can do when you have some money to spend. Things that will change CYS, yes... but for the better, I think.

More thoughts tomorrow. Just had to cast my "yes" vote.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
I disagree that this place is slowing down. I've only been here a little over 5 years, so maybe I never knew the activity, but I suspect that things haven't slown down, like mizal said the chit chat has just moved to discord. Which isn't the site dying, since discord is basically a part of the site. I think that no service could steal both our users and cog's, because by doing the publishing thing you lose the charm we have. And if you make charging optional, all the best authors will charge and we will still have the best free games. Not to mention the point others have brought up about how different writing to sell is.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Honestly, Morgan was saying the place was "dying" 10 years ago when she was constantly shilling Twine like a bot. 
The place is still here and there's been better quality stories along with more of them. The forums really aren't an indication of activity considering they've never been excessively active.

As far as the question goes, it's pretty much all been said already but I'm of course mostly in agreement with what Mizal, Sent and  a few others have said.

Good to see Alex around though.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Let us not neglect to mention the fact that Morgan doesn't even read/play any of the games here.

The quality of games actually improved. Quality over quantity.

I truly have no idea what she's blathering about.

Must be a Twine thing or something.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
Yeah, the community is more active than ever given the turn out for contests and games and such, it's just the daily shitposting that's slowed down due to the existence of the Discord.

CYS is still the only place in the IF world a total unknown can post their first game and get immediate feedback, and I want to keep it a place welcoming to kids. This site houses a real community, I've seen people more than once say they're closer to CYS peeps and talk more often and about more personal things than they do with their own family.

Morgan hasn't really been a part of anything in like seven years though aside from that time when Malk and Sent and Thara got together and bullied her into reading two games, so understandable if she hasn't noticed. I guess she's been devoting herself to Twine games all this time? She must have written and reviewed hundreds by now, I suppose that is impressive in its own way.

The existence of Paypal, Patreon, that Coffee thing etc means anyone could be attempting to make money off their participation here. Anyone could be entering CYS games into the various IF competitions with big prize pools too. I think it's notable that no one has really bothered. Although I don't really think it's that weird that people frequently enjoy doing creative things for fun. What a depressing mindset it would be to think otherwise.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

"various IF competitions with big prize pools too"

Curious... what are these? What amounts? 

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
The IFComp, Ectocomp, and the Spring Thing are the big ones. (Then there's the ParserComp, but they want nothing to do with choice based swine.)

Many years ago several from here entered the Spring Thing, and usually there's a thread encouraging people to play/vote when the IFComp comes around, with varying success.

I was into all that aspect of the wider IF community years before I found CYS, kind of cooled off on it though after Dan Fabulich took over their archive and immediately spite deleted Endmaster's account and like 100 reviews he had done of gamebooks and old C64 games lol.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
Spring thing used to have some big cash prizes. The lastest one i remember checking didnt though.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
Here's what people write when they're writing to sell.

Anyone can monetize their writing, you don't need choices or even a good story or even a complete story, you just have to be unashamed to put your name next to titles like "Sold as the Alpha King's Breeder" and "Hot Vampire Next Door".

....

"All for Knot (Reverse Harem Omegaverse)"

You know, whatever it takes to move those units.

Not to say I think it would definitely be like this, but when money is the only goal and there's no other guidance, everything defaults to horny middle aged women who want their vampires and werewolves, it's the biggest market out there. (But even with the ease of selling writing through Amazon this way, I think it's notable everyone hasn't exactly left the site in droves to do it.)



(This was in response to Ace's post, which should illustrate Sent's point about the one irritating thing about the way the forum currently works.)

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
"PRIVATE LISTING is a reverse harem office romance with plenty of alpha males to go around."
This sounds exhausting. I could only accept this job if they have daily gladiatorial battles for dominance.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

CYS is indeed dying... but then so are all of us, and so is the sun. Just a question of when, and if it will grow more before then.

I would have never believed you in 2002 if you told me that this site site, which is still largely coded in The Language of the Ancients, would still be around today, with relatively few changes.

Will it be around in 2050 with relatively few changes? Absolutely not a chanc------ well, okay maybe.

 

The community here is great - and there's definitely "something" special that keeps y'all here. It's like a cozy, local diner where everyone's a regular.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Cys hasn't slowed down much at all, we just moved 90% of our daily procrastination posts to discord servers as opposed to the forums. The community is very active, with a lot of the daily posts coming from people who weren't even here before 2016, and new people gradually coming into it. Like Mizal once said, the forums kind of serve now as a (poorly maintained, granted) advertisement for the community, but people can still be summoned to them.

 

I think we're in no more danger of dying a lingering death than we were when you said this more than half a decade ago. A cystian among us has already chosen to go see what's on the other side- and this freedom you advocate is scarcely more free than the vile currency app games that any of us are free to write at any time. Briar was crushed on a whim because of her defiance of a brand and likely where she came from. And CYS presents a valid alternative to what that is. I'm not even that against monetization, but I am very anxious of how it's implemented, because what you propose when applied wrong could well lead to something worse than the death you keep saying is coming- Though I really can't see that happening any time soon with the commitment people currently have.

 

Has the site slowed down? We no longer have forum posts every single day, because we no longer have a ton of school kids on chromebooks, but most of them are here on a different platform watching from outside. The userbase can actually see story submissions pretty close to real time, and the ones that stick around are getting bigger and more ambitious. To be honest, I think the energy levels are around the same, but as the bulk of the userbase, y'know, became adults, a lot of that energy has been poured into different aspects of the site. Less forum posts, faster discord communication that generally requires less effort than a quality forum post, vastly more storygame words and commendations per person, etc. One could say the quality of the culture has improved since the beginning.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
Ninjapitka joined in 2018, Gryphon in 2021, and Celicni only recently became active despite the older account.

Hell, Cricket only joined in 2018.

TypewriterCat is brand new and already making some waves. DBNB and Petros as well.

Oh yeah, and not to ruin any of the mystique here, but Brad's discord bot sweeps for newly published games in addition to the other CYS centric commands, which is how when people try to yoink contest entries down for lightning edits, the mods always know.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Cricket having joined only then still baffles the shit out of me

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
I don't like thinking about it either.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

I was quite surprised to see the quality/quantity of responses to my post; definitely a testament to the community. Also, having modern forum software (I really like NodeBB) would probably increase the quantity of interaction. 

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

I'm not sure about modernizing the forums- at least not as far as layout is concerned. The way posts layer under each other and create topics of their own is pretty iconic at this point and it actually, at least in my experience here, creates a lot more interaction because people want to see what's going on in all these branches. A single straight unthreaded line is easily derailed because, scrolling to the bottom, it seems there's little difference between which posts are responsible for which, and who's talking to who, and, like on discord, the subject changes way more often when certain subjects aren't reserved to these weird christmas tree branches that form in response to interesting or controversial posts. In the conventional forum structure, it very easily becomes "too late" to say something in a way that this striated structure doesn't really.

 

One of the main problems people have with the forum are that if you respond to the middle of one of these long branches instead of the end, your post kind of appears off in such a way that it's hard to tell what it's in reply to without holding a ruler to the screen. This is remedied in other places normally by adding lines, mouseover highlights, collapsible branches, or some combination of those, and I feel like a lot of people here would prefer that. The other major complaint is the limitations of the rich text editor, and how it really doesn't play nicely with the plain text one. It will frequently overwrite whatever you're doing in html and messes with line spacing even if you're just editting posts. I hate typing in brackets so the other problems people have with it are best left to the people who refuse to use it to this day, but the mutual incompatibility as well as how inconvenient it is to turn on and off is probably the biggest sticking point people have with anything related to the forum, and by extension probably the rest of the text mediums on the site in general.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
The rich text editor should be paraded naked through the streets and stoned outside the city gates.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

^^ hasn't read a CYS game without having their arm twisted in years 

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
I am also confused why this person would say the site is dying, I don't think that's an accurate opinion.

I've looked for better authoring tools too and haven't found any. What have you used for yours? Choicescript sucks in my opinion and really limits anything you want to do to the CoG game format, and Twine requires too much coding knowledge. Adrift is the best for IF RPGs but it limits you visually as much as Choicescript and has other issues.

Anyway most IF out there is still free and while I hate the Intfiction mods for the way they treated me and others here, I still respect that most people over there write what they want because they want to, we don't live in the dystopian capitalist hell reality that you seem to think we do yet. Or everyone here AND over there would already just be at Cog grasping for money.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
IIRC Morgan also thought the site would die when JJJ axed furry roleplay and the daily point soup kitchen.

And it was already supposed to have died long ago when CoG's little dragon game was first launched and when Twine got popular. Must just be shambling along on necromancy I guess, can't be any other reason.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
I'd still say Skybreak is way more visually interesting than any Choicescript game. Fonts and backgrounds and more freedom in formatting is at least something, but yeah its hard to break away from "text in box with optional map on the side".

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
Just a random thought on another angle:

Update the site to have some kind of "pay what you want" thing built in for stories, but then also sexify the advanced editor a bit (the author being able to view their story maps, and being able to rearrange the order of pages created have both been long time and repeated requests, as well as being able to do a few more complicated things with scripting). Then charge a fee to unlock the advanced editor--but make it a giftable thing from one author to another as well.

If games could be made downloadable as part of this, maybe this is something that would also unlock at the same time, as well as the opt in ability for the author to set prices on their work?

I don't know how this would do as a long term business idea, but it could give a boost that might justify the time put in to update other aspects of the code, without changing the experience for authors who don't care about the bells and whistles and more casual users. Or it seems like one of the less intrusive ways to implement a "CYS Plus" type deal anyway.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

A new editor would be awesome. Just thinking of of all the wonderful features... versioning... autosave... jeeze...templating...

But the underlying issue is that it's effectively impossible to do without an experienced developer who's dedicating a near fulltime effort for weeks to months. And then the management/oversight, which will be directly proportional to the skill (cost) of the developer. Assuming this could even be done piecemeal, this alone would be tens of thousands of dollars. 

Hence, why we'd need a business model to support this kind of develoment effort (expense).

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
I'd like to put out there that I'll do it for free because I genuinely love CYS and am passionate and capable of doing so.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

I can vouch for Ford's love for CYS. Sometimes we even call him Top Kappa because he's a top CYS enthusiast.
And he's one of those technical people who know how to do things, of course.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

I, too, will vouch for Ford's love for this website, and his autism and skill. I can not think of a more perfect person to be at the helm of the "make CYS not spaghetti" team.

I'd like to put out there that I am also of the autistic variety with some coding skill, and am very curious about how CYS is built.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
Yeah, Nightwatch and Killa are the official guys, but Ford, Celicni, and mazdark all are plenty capable and have expressed interest in helping out before. And Brad is a wizard obviously, he already made the extension with Ford and has been maintaining it all this time, just not sure if that kind of time is available, in his case.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Yeah I'll endorse Ford, Cel and Maz for these worthy tasks

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

I'd be glad to help if i can, i have worked with .aspx for 3 years and generally been working in c# .net for 6 along with some front tech(like Vuejs), although im a pretty shitty webdesigner.

If we were to be able to help with the site it would be nice to have a private versioning serv( like git or svn) so that the modifications are handled safely and reviewed.

Also i can do some unit or end to end testing if it helps.

 

 

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

I can also vouch that Ford would be a good candidate. He's got a lot of technical knowledge and depsite being kinda like a pet goblinoid who you have to walk through various basic life skills so he doesn't die. He indeed does love the site and the cystian commhnity in a way that would be hard to find anywhere else.

 

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

A major feature like a new editor would require a lot of skills/experience, and even then would take a lot of dedication. In the 100's of hours. I can help on the design/architecture, but I'd really want to make sure the requisite engineering skills/experience are there first.

That said -- anyone is welcome to help on the code base in general -- if you're interested in contributing to the codebase, mizal can get you started/setup. I'd suggest to try fixing a few bugs and making some minor enhancements to get a feel for the system.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
Commended by TharaApples on 12/27/2022 6:19:53 PM
I forgot you're probably too busy to lurk and have no idea who anyone is. My extension that is now "maintained" (finished - no real maintenance) by BradinDvorak (BD): https://github.com/Praxibetel/CYSCE this fixes most front bugs, there's a firefox port of it as well. The storygame search overhaul was part of the extension first, among other things. There's also a renewed light theme, a dark version theme, syntax highlighting options (personal favorite is CYS-flavored HTML), a storygame developer mode which adds the ability to change variables mid-play as well as see various page/link/item IDs and perform style supression, overhauled notification settings, more detailed storygame save-states, and general nit-picky QOL things that nobody but me and BD ever noticed or may ever bother to fix...like space.gif. I'm sure there's other things in the rest of the changelog. You can preview how the dark theme looks by going to my main account profile (this one) without the extension and it works on both mobile and desktop. BD has the firefox port linked on his profile. He also made the first CYSScript Docs which detail the "quirks" of the scripting language. I am, by formal education, a computer hardware/firmware engineer with a separate degree in mathematical physics, but I branch to programming projects an unnatural amount of the time. By work I am an electronics and computer technician and design engineer (computers, test equipment, robots, etc). Despite many websites under my belt and published/hosted in various ways, I often say I am NOT a web developer. I've been around and active on CYS for very close to a decade now with no significant hiatuses. I made and managed most of the minecraft servers and created all the custom worlds. I've written various bots and tested CYS in ways that are not necessary (see: Chanbot's duel stats lol). Having been around since I was a kid, my social ranking changes with the wind. The way CYS is by CYStians for CYStians through passion and love for the community is what makes us so connected. The primary goal of any technical side team, given what I have seen, should be organization and structure so that CYS as a project is not painful to work on by those with more skill or passion in the future. In the current technical state of CYS, I think adding or replacing parts would be irresponsible. All the community hears from anybody that touches the code is how bad it is. We know the mess is bad, we have competent and skilled people with experience and time, and given that change has been historically slow or non-existant, there's no need to rush. From your posts I get a sense of rushing to monetization solely to boost changes that may not be appreciated. There should be focus on changes that we know would be for the better, the ones there's no question about from anybody: organization, cleanup, and usability. Fixes and optimizations. Adding to the mess is physically painful from a technical standpoint, as someone who has worked around the mess and covered it up with the extension. My thesis and TLDR is a plea to be slow, considerate, thorough, and complete before making any big waves; and consider those who are passionate for CYS before those who are passionate for pay.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Oh wow, I didn't realize you had a technical background; you're right... I don't really know anyone except mizal, Killa, and Ogre, who've I've chatted w/ over email over the past few years. Sorry if that came across the wrong way 😅

Also... that's what the "CYS Extension" is! Cool. I must have heard about it in passing, and forgot about it.

But to be clear, I'm in no rush. I'm just exploring interesting and fulfilling opportunities, like investing/building businesses that align to a more traditional value-creation model (i.e. customer/user focus) instead of a start-up/scaling model (i.e. investor/exit-driven).

Anyway... interested in a new job w/ CYS someday? 😉

Someone w/ your level of "passion for the product", institutional/domain knowledge, and technical skill is exactly who I had in mind for a team.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
CYS being a project/system-as-a-job would be a dream come true for me! I'd gladly do it for free, but I'd go the extra mile for lunch money lol.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Hmm. Not sure I like the idea of charging for the advanced editor. There's a bunch of broke/cheap/minors (like me) who use it a lot but wouldn't want/be able to pay. There's also the problem that I don't think enough CYStians actually use the advanced editor to fund that kind of initiative.

Updates would be nice though. I'd love to be able to build functions in the editor.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
That's why I said it should be giftable, just for you.

The idea was that it would also unlock an author's ability to charge for their games and ideally make them downloadable. So we'd get new users with incentives to make polished RPG type things perhaps, which would not be a bad thing to have around, while also not changing anything for the people already using the site.

As Alex just said though, the amount of money involved to upgrade wouldn't make that viable.

I'm honestly not sure what could generate those amounts aside from the kinds of numbers you might see from blanketing app stores with [PRODUCT] though. Although if I'm reading Alex's posts right, he might be leaning this way, and that would still be every bit as much an option for CYS authors and readers without directly changing anything on the site.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Lol, should've guessed :)

I do still think there should be some scripting available for free, particularly because broke children are usually the ones with the time and dedication to make heavy scripting games. It would be very cool to get some more features on the editor, but I can see where this would be particularly difficult to fund since there's no way to know how profitable it would be until it was done.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

Creator-side revenue seems tough/impossible; we'd effectively be selling tools to create/manage content, and don't think there's a market for that in this niche.

I think the only workable business model would be consumer-side revenue, where the product is content (storygames)... most certainly on mobile. So, continuing to invest and upgrade the content-creation creation tools (i.e. editor) would be an important part of model, since that's what's used to create the product we'd sell. 

Thinking further... this kind of aligns with my ancient vision of CYS.

My original vision of CYS was to enable authors to create storygames with as little friction as possible, and sort of cover the wide space between "basic HTML/links" and "text-based adventure games". This is why there was a "Simple editor" (is that even around?) and an "advanced editor" (with progressively complex features). By my standards today, they both suck as tools.

Anyway - I still think there's merit this vision, b/c authors will then focus on "story" instead of trying to make a "game". I think that's a product people will be happy to pay for. High-quality, meaningful storygames.  

It seems that the best storygames on the site have really mastered that balance.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

I have thought long and hard about this topic. Here is my conclusion.

Could everything be monetized? Yes!

Should everything be monetized? Hell no.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
Wizzy is also an Alex P, this gives his vote more weight.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
I like the idea. Not going to vote against the site getting resources dumped into it. I've got the same monetization concerns as the others, but that sounds like an Alex P problem to solve: I'm just here to read and write stories.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
Commended by TharaApples on 12/27/2022 6:21:17 PM
I know I'm pretty firmly in the "useless lurker" part of the population, but I do wander in pretty frequently precisely because I love the community here and the sense of fun that comes from finding something completely strange and unexpected in the new stories or the random search.

For whatever my opinion is worth though I will say that all the "proven" publishing options out there suck, and with plenty of examples of what the monetization mindset hive mind does to creativity and that "sense of fun", I think people here are right to fear it.

But alexp (who I confess I never even knew existed until now, but it makes sense that someone has been paying the bills) does seem to be listening to the community and I'm convinced that if any community can find a new way to do it without losing its soul, it's CYS.

I think there's a reason writing for money or even the possibility of it turns people WEIRD though, and that's because it attracts a certain "type" of person. Speaking as someone who makes a buck and a half above minimum wage in the fast food industry, if I needed more money I wouldn't do something as inefficient a try to sell my writing on CoG or anywhere else, I'd just pick up more shifts. That would still pay me more in less time than publishing IF online (both in the short and long term) leaving me free to write for fun or do anything else I want. Right now I mostly work on a world building project and frequently run games in the setting for my friends. It takes up as much time as a full time job. No one could ever fairly compensate me for the time I've put in over the last three years, and doing it as a "job" would ruin it for me.

But the "write for money" field is HEAVILY dominated by stay at home moms with elaborate sex fantasies as mizal pointed out, or else people who are too mentally ill to function in a normal society, the way CoG is with all its anxious and angry and suicidal r/antiwork types. I honestly don't know whether normal people who are curious whether they can make a few bucks on the side can ever hold the steering wheel of a business when in competition with so many desperate lunatics who have endless free time and don't mind being so poorly compensated for it. (Or are too stupid to do basic math to realize that that's the situation.)

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

>> if I needed more money I wouldn't do something as inefficient a try to sell my writing

I think this is a great way to look at it. On my other writing site (tech/IT), we do have a monthly budget and pay writers from that, and it ends up being enough to take the family out for dinner or have a small extra luxury -- which feels like a reward for contributing.

Maybe that's the revenue share model to have here.

>> But the "write for money" field is HEAVILY dominated by stay at home moms with elaborate sex fantasies

🤮

Definitely something I would want to avoid. Another argument towards curation (i.e. people/management deciding revenue share) instead of using metrics like shares/likes/views/etc.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
As an ex-CoGite, I don't want to see CYS turn into another CoG.

Would letting CYS stay CYS and creating a "sister" site/mobile app that leaves the forum out be an option?

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
Commended by EndMaster on 1/22/2023 10:47:02 PM
I really think the only sane CoGites are ex CoGites lol. Jason takes everybody's money and then pulls his pants down in public and shits in their mouths, it's honestly hilarious how many of them hate him but at the same time just can't get enough.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

You mean... Like CoG... But not shit? That would be amazing!!! ^_^

But yeah, to go completely against the grain, I feel like it would be awesome for CoG to have a legit rival where people can migrate if they're not fans of the way Jason does things. Definitely a fan of the whole mobile app idea, since that seems to be where a lot of people are discovering IF right now. I reckon it could potentially work really well.

Of course, that does leave the question of, what happens to the site? Would the site become a part of or separate from this potential business venture? And if so, how? Obviously the games on the site are all free to play right now, so how would that change? Would people be able to continue to post games on the site for free, with the option to submit them as mobile games that could potentially bring in revenue?

I mean, I suppose it's possible. CoG has the site dashingdon where anybody can make and publish games made in Choicescript for free, and a lot of CoG fans use that site to make games for fun rather than for monetary gain. No reason why the CYS software couldn't be used for both. Of course, one issue that would come up a lot, since the CYS software is a lot easier to use than Choicescript, you'd probably be flooded with a load of crappy content from kids going, "Me make gam in 30 seconds! Now gimmie money!" Which would all need to be individually rejected.

I mean, I definitely don't think it's impossible to continue to keep the site we all know and love as well and build something that could turn a nice profit for the creators and the authors. Just not 100% sure how it would work. ^_^

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

These are all important questions we would have to answer in coming up with a business model/plan.

But we're both thinking about the same thing -- nearly all revenue from mobile users who primarily just want content, but have no interest/need to participate in the site. I don't know how much the site would need to change, but certainly improved author tools would be important so that higher-quality content could be created and maintained.

I don't remember how it works here -- but I do know we had the same concern about anyone making crap storygames, so we added a "publish" feature with some kind of automated checks or something. And then low rated storygames don't show, or something. But you can still privately share unpublished content? You guys would know better than me how/if that works, etc.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
Commended by mizal on 12/27/2022 1:51:40 PM

Hi all,

Thanks so much for all the feedback; it was a lot more thoughtful and insightful to me than I expected. I learned quite a lot, and want to just articulate/memorialize some of my conclusions.

This is largely a memo for me.

  • CYS doesn't need to be a business; the community does a great job at running it already, and it's unlikely that will change in the foreseeable future.
  • A business wouldn't be unwelcome, so long as it doesn't harm the community. What this means specifically should be better articulated, but I think I get the gist. I like the articulation, "optional, non-intrusive, and driven by authors and users" as a guiding principle.
  • A business model might be possible; the only likely income source would be selling mobile content (storygames) in one form or another: Publisher, App Store, Unlimited etc. There are similar companies doing the same. Market research would help fur this out.
  • The business plan should be developed transparently, with input from the community; the variety of insights will be helpful, and getting support on the business will improve odds of success and reduce risks of harm to the community
  • The business plan should run in parallel, as to not "take the community down with it" if it fails. But it should also be community driven, and not be separate. I like how Mystic put it, "another updated version of CYS is created, and the aforementioned benefits apply except that this occurs on a different platform (e.g. an app or otherwise)."
  • There are pitfalls with storygame monetization that we would need to avoid (these should be articulated), but in any case, curation seems to address many of these.
  • Ford has expressed interested in joining the business, and if that were to happen, would be a key technical resource in executing a business plan
  • Someone with digital marketing skills/experience would is also required, and finding someone already in the industry would be ideal, but not required - there is a clearly community full of "industry experts" willing to help
  • I'm interested in exploring this business, and would participate as the primary (sole?) investor and temporary CEO/leader

 

From here, the next step from here is market research. I know very little about "mobile content" market, and I can't possibly invest here - let alone create a business plan - until I know more. 

I have some contacts who can help me learn, but if anyone has any experience or interest in helping me understand this market, let me know.  I'd also be willing to commission a market research report, if anyone has experience or knows anyone with such experience. Best if we coordinate over email on this.

Otherwise, I don't have a timeline, and it'll take weeks/months to passively learn the market. Until then, I'll step away from for a bit, since this was a quick holiday diversion/exploration for me. But you know how to reach me. Nice to meet you all!

Cheers,

Alex

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
Thanks for stopping by, asking, and considering this. I think it could be fun. I'd love to help out any way I can. For mobile market research/experience, well, I have a cell phone device that has mobile apps on it. Yeah, that's about it in that area... Though maybe Kindle Vella is an area that would be similar (but beware werewolf romance stories!)

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
Just wanted to say that it means a lot that you're handling this the way you are, and does give a lot of confidence to everyone that any changes, if they happen, will be well thought out ones with the community in mind.

And if nothing else, in the short term it seems like the volunteer team available for smaller updates may be more than doubling. Celicni and Maz have some pretty extensive work experience as well and it sounds like they're excited to get in there along with Ford. I've told them to talk to Nightwatch for now as far as what they need to get set up.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
Its possible to monitize this the same way youtube/twitch does, that is to say just skim some off of the tips that get sent to authors (if that becomes a thing). In fact to start that may be the least invasive way to monetize.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago

I'm a bit late to the party, but my input is to just port solely the storygames section of the site to a mobile app, let the app users read the first, like, 45 minutes of each story for free, and charge like $0.99 to unlock all stories in one category (Fantasy, Grimdark, Sci-Fi, etc.) with the option to unlock of all the categories all at once for like $5.99, and call it a day. No forums, community, or even story-writing functions in the mobile app. Nothing here on this website will be affected by the changes, but some revenue will be generated, a lot like how the Delight Games app library model does it, except we would have content generated by a democratized, wide author-base rather than a select group of trusted authors. If someone wants to contribute a story to the app, then they can come here and write it on the website proper. Publishing standards can be raised to reduce undesirable infrastructure load.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
Finally read through the thread and I'm late too, but I don't think I have a lot of useful input beyond what's already been said anyway.

I'd love to have an updated editor though, one thing I've always wished for was more control visually over the games and layout without needing to know advanced HTML. Putting new page links within the text itself for instance or being able to change the location and look of the inventory window, maybe several themes themes to pick from. Maybe the volunteer coders can eventually achieve all that without needing to sell thousands of storygames though. My first game here would not have been something I'd have tried to submit to a professional business lol, but there's no other site like this to practice and learn on.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
When you become doctor you can hire coders of your own.

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago
I am a bit slow to respond to this threat and I think all the good points have been made but I'll just add my thoughts.

Personally I don't mind if the site is monetized or not, though I can see why it might be an incentive to new and existing writers. The site has a great community and is so well run I am sure nothing would be done to discourage site users, if financial features are put in I think they should be entirely voluntary and a link to a patreon page or something similarly low-key would probably suffice for those that want it. Certainly I think the site should be kept ad-free, though the site's creators have certainly earned the right to put in ads if they want them; I think it would clash with the relaxed vibe of the site. I think AlexP and the site mods have created and maintain a fantastic site and I have confidence that they will listen to the site members before making any changes. :)

Should CYS become a business?

one month ago