Wednesday, August 17, 2011

and a black crow snuck through a hole in the sky

Her name is Anna; she goes by ormeli; and she does the best Elizabeth from the upcoming BioShock Infinite I've ever seen.

(She's also pulled off--I think--Ellie from Dead Space 2; Silfida from Disciples III: Renaissance; and Poison Ivy among others.)

There's a developer putting the plans together for a thorium-fueled car that would not require any external power source; no oil, no biodiesel, no ethanol.

The problem? Thorium is a heavily radioactive metal that is on the restricted list due to its early use in nuclear weapons. Everything has a down side, I guess.

You can now kill cows for meat, as well as leather, in Minecraft! (Apparently, killing duckens for meat as well as feathers is coming in a later update.)

At some point, I think maybe on the next entry, I'm going to grab the titles of all the entries to make a cohesive link set. Because damn, this is getting worse than when I covered all the Ursula/Zindra ranting.

More from the Escapist.

Webb5432: Does life really have to be this diffiuclt [sic]? I don't think the escapist should be totally blamed for this, although I do mostly agree with James. Escapist: you asked he specifically used the $9500 for a certain reason when you wanted it? Come on. He gave you a lot of flexibility with his salary. Cut him some slack in return.

Also, be more careful with your debts. When paying them, you seem to have not thought a lot of this stuff through. You should have watched your spending much more, and you should have kept some cash in the back in case things like this happened.

Anyways, James, I understand where you are coming from. But please be more careful with middle-men like managers and lawyers. Getting into that world always ends up with corruption and deciet
[sic]. You lose far more than you ever gain.

HyenaThePirate, some hours later: Ultimately, EVERYTHING I think hinges on one confirmed fact:

The Escapist was NOT paying them as they SHOULD have been and owed them a butt-load of essentially back-pay.

Then once poop hits fan, they start making good on their "debts."

How the hell did the site get itself into a situation where it doesn't just miss a payment or two for it's content but has MONTHS of missed payments?

If there was a credit rating for a website... *cough*

That, though, is pretty much all I need to make me lean more towards Jame's side being in the least the more "accurate" of the two accounts. Not only that, but again, other content providers seemed to have been piping up, and it goes back to the same problem: Monetary and payment issues.

awsome117: You can't really pay people with money you don't have.

jboking: In all fairness, the Escapist is in the wrong for not paying their contributors...However, James got items such as T-shirts and pubclub memberships to sell to help support the effort, so long as it was being used to "save extra credits." If the money is being used for a different reason (starting a different company) the escapist should be able to expect to be paid back for the items they put in. Naturally, the 20,000 that the Escapist owes the EC crew needs to be paid (and apparently has been), but the estimated $9,500 in merch and memberships that didn't get used to even work on EC should be paid back.

Though, if I was James, I'd take my sweet time doing so.

sunami88: I'll be waiting to see how this plays out in the long run. I'm becoming concerned that this site is very slowly rolling downhill. The forums used to be full of interesting discourse, but now there are SOOOO many superfluous threads that it's becoming a bore to visit. Fortunately MovieBob and Yahtzee are probably going to keep me coming back long term, but I've found myself clicking on links to the forums or other parts of the site less and less lately.

SpaceGhost2K: The Escapist violated the contract when they stopped paying EC. If EC continued to produce content knowing they were not going to see payment soon or ever, they did so voluntarily and not under contract obligation.

Let me repeat: By not paying EC, The Escapist violated the contract, regardless of any assurances James might have given them. I am assuming that the contract reflects "payment for services rendered." EC rendered services. TE did not make payments. TE violated the contract.

If a company hires an employee or a sub-contractor, and it comes time to pay them and they are unable to do so, that employee or sub-contractor is under ZERO obligation to continue to provide services for the employer.

As far as ownership of the IP, while the money owed to EC seems sufficient to purchase the IP back from The Escapist (if indeed they actually "own" it), I'm not sure that's a decision James can arbitrarily make. Then again, I don't know what the terms of the contract were regarding the creation and ownership of the IP.

AuspexAO: The Escapist claims that because the money was to "save Extra Credits" they should pump the money back into EC and The Escapist. It's difficult to understand why they'd think that. Everyone was told that it was for Allyson, and when the goal was reached no one was told that the remaining money would go towards anything but the new idea James had for helping indie devs. Maybe there was some backroom deal we're unaware of, but I can't imagine that James told them "after we get the surgery for Allyson all the money will go to you guys even though you owe us a ton already." That would be very hard to swallow.

To recap: At no point were the fans told that the money we donated will go to fund Extra Credits production costs.

Now...did James do something wrong? Not wrong, but (and I never thought that I'd say this about someone I admire so much) STUPID. I don't think I'm the only one here who would have gladly donated money to help James achieve the goal of turning EC's soapbox into actual practice. It's a beautiful dream that I think many would love to be a part of. Why didn't he just start a NEW fundraiser without any Escapist swag that could have been its own thing? We could have received other rewards for donating including the immaterial one of being responsible for literally producing games. I, for one, would love the opportunity to become a patron of the next Jonathan Blow or, er...Jonathan Mak (or even some non-Jonathan).

Stalydan: You know when people donated money to the Extra Credits guys, as far as I were aware, it was suppose to be for them guys. Any more left over was for them to do more. People even suggested "take a vacation" because the had so much left over. So to the legal cats, tell me this.

"Do you think it's right to say you're owed money because of something you did with a charity?"

Asking for money that is owed for giving out free t-shirts and free publisher's club memberships because they asked for IP rights after YOU haven't paid them. Sure you were in debt anyway if you couldn't pay these guys. Thank goodness that they haven't already left. But if you weren't in the best of circumstances, you shouldn't have given away free stuff that costs you $9,500 apparently.

And you know, I believe James was well within his rights to start a company with some money. It'd probably help him cover of any Allison's expenses while you were unable to. Because believe it or not, I don't think he'd stop creating Extra Credits episodes. He's not being paid anyway so why would having a steadier income stop him doing that?

DragonFyre: I left Kotaku for the Escapist. Mainly because The Escapist was a good source of news with the added bonus of original content.

But if this is how the content creators are treated, I'm not going to support The Escapist. They should just remove the original content part of their site if they only abuse it.

Brockyman: Just cancelled my Publisher's Club membership. IF you can't pay your talent, then why am I paying you?

zvate: Before I go on I should also say that I have seen this type of thing happen before and there is a major lesson in it: Always say upfront what excess donations will be used towards once the charity goal is met. I doubt anyone begrudges Alison her surgery (and I wish here all the best in her surgery and recovery) but the escapist appears to have assumed that all this would come full circle and also benefit themselves through additional Extra Credit support and branding. A bit self serving but if the Escapist is also on the rocks I can see them grasping on that straw: More desperate then dignified though...

If either side had actually asked what would happen to additional funds raised this whole thing could have been avoided. A bit cold of me but this whole circumstance seems more tragic than evil. When money is involved, for heaven's sake, dot your eyes cross your tees and SAVE YOUR FRIENDSHIPS. Both sides can mess things up, so make things clear.

Samurai Goomba, some hours later: This is pretty simple from where I'm sitting, by this point. The Escapist still has no genuine explanation for why they didn't pay him for so long, and why they feel justified to his charity money which was donated BY FANS for the EC team, not so some corporate bosses could take that unearned cash for themselves. The surplus was indeed used by the EC team to support Extra Credits, NOT to make a bunch of videos for the escapist (the only reason they're even saying this is how it should be is they want people to work for them for free, imo). It is true he could have refunded the surplus, but James was totally aboveboard about where it was going and told his fans where the money would go right away.

UNLIKE asking your fans to pay 20k to fly your biggest star to a convention nobody can get tickets to, but not telling contributors exactly where the money is going or who the people are that they're paying to send with him.

orangeapples: I feel betrayed by both parties. Both are in the wrong.

Betrayed by Escapist because I always thought they were supporting of their contributors. Not paying them is a really dick move and horrible business planning. It sounds like part of the plan was to NOT pay the EC team. EC wanted to join escapist, that is great and all, but if you could not afford them, you should have declined.

Betrayed by James because that money was donated to Extra Credits because we love EC and we wanted EC to continue. The money wasn't donated for James to fund his own personal project. Yeah you weren't getting paid by The Escapist, but that doesn't mean you can just take the money from the fans.

My main problem is that is sounds like they didn't get their lawyers involved until it was too late. I know when people think of lawyers they think of self-serving dirtbags, but there is a reason they exist: so problems like this don't happen. If the lawyers were brought in at the initial contract agreement OR during the Allison donation drive; where we are now would not have been a problem (there would still be a problem, just not THIS problem). And unlike others where you didn't hold up your end of the contract, James spoke out. Cat's out of the bag, you got to fix this.

I really want to see those e-mails. And possibly all contracts made between the two parties.

King Toasty: ruh-roh, according to their Twitter page, the contract for Extra Credits officially ended on Friday.

Fallout Jack in response to the above: HOLD EVERYTHING!!

Their contract is up? As in no longer bound by whatever the Escapist tells them or ANY legalities whatsoever? Is THAT what you mean?

Littlee300, in response to that: The escapist probably still has intellectual rights so they can't sell T-shirts or whatever.

DasPooch: You people are delusional. I had to register just to vent frustration over seeing a number of people make false claims about the surplus money.

James did NOT pocket the money for "his own personal business/profit/whatever", he is using it to fund a NOT-FOR-PROFIT company to support indie developers. The 50/50 "profit" split means that the 50% the NOT-FOR-FUCKING-PROFIT company gets is rolled right back into the fund to go towards other indie developers. See how that works?

Judgement101: Well according to James the Escapist took 75% of it. And according to the Escapist, James used it to start a publishing company.

The Cheezy One: One of the points I can comment on - the Escapist telling James to put the money into Extra Credits. I work for a company that is currently moving a lot of finance around, and it gets very difficult to keep track. For example, your company can be worth $150,000, but only have $12,000 available. The Escapist may have told James that a lot of money was owed towards the show. James could easily interpret it as being told to give the money to the Escapist, but while it would be going towards an Escapist venture, the money itself would be entirely managed by the EC crew. So in a way, no-one gets the money, and everyone is unhappy.

AeonKnight: Internet, this is why we can't have nice things.

jesterofroanoke: One of the main concerns that I have is what is going to happen to the older episodes of EC and who is going to end up owning them. It seems ridiculous that Escapist could prevent the EC crew from making use of their own intellectual property. I'm worried that Escapist may pull a jerk move and yank all the episodes from the site, disallow their release, and prevent James and the gang from doing EC again.

B-Rye: Indeed, you can't pay debts with money you don't have (see the U.S.'s current financial fuck-up). However back when a company has money there are countless businesses that understand that you have to spend money to make money (Capitalism). The Escapist's lack of income could be due to poor decision-making from the top down dating back at least one fiscal year prior to the downturn in revenue. That or it could be the work of our old nemesis, the Recession.

To quote Yahtzee on his take of 2009, "Recession proof? Ha!"

And I think that ties this one up, because yeah, I'm trying not to make them too long, since there's such a daunting tonnage of these building up anyway.

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