Months ago, amidst the chaos and commotion that is IRC, there were constant discussions with Jagex’s community managers Sniped (Mathew Kemp) and SallyTheButcher (Sally Da Costa). Conversation was often heated regarding the Ace of Spades community. This was primarily due to the Jagex community managers waving unwarranted sense of know-all in regards to the game and community based off “experience” from other games/communities. Most of which were dropped months after being launched, so they refused to properly cite said “experience”. Through all the bickering, I think it’s fair to say that nobody bumped heads more than Sniped and myself (IRC handle “StackOverflow”). This post is primarily directed at Sniped but occasionally Jagex as a whole.

September 2nd, 2012:

[16:12] <@StackOverflow> this is a waste of time, you can't talk to people who are too self-absorbed in their own ways of doing things 
[16:12] <sniped> well, you can go and do something else Stack
[16:13] <@StackOverflow> sniped, you're too clueless to have the slightest idea of what we're doing
[16:13] <sniped> kk stack, well come back in 6 months and I'll accept your apology

This quote is taken from a daily argument within an operator IRC channel (that we owned, mind you) and my statement was directed towards Build and Shoot, which at the time was being worked on privately.

Well, here we are. 6 months later. We’ve both changed a lot since then, haven’t we? I sure have. I’ve grown to the point where I can freely admit my wrongdoings and feel no particular shame, but rather learn from them.

So, lets get this going. I have a long, well deserved apology from myself to you:

I’m sorry that your incompetence and persistent self-assurance has resulted in you completely alienating yourselves from the community and in turn, the game entirely

You had a great opportunity to turn this game into something great. Now I don’t mean this in the typical bitter 12 year old fashion. I mean you quite literally had a flourishing community and found a way to piss them off in nearly everywhere possible, some things I would’ve never seen coming. For that, I applaud you.

I know instantly you would assume this is typical, biased banter. You seem to live in some weird alternate reality where Jagex does no wrong and you know the community well. With a game like Ace of Spades, community is everything. If you can’t handle the community, you are bound to fail. A vast majority of the heated flaming towards Jagex was (and still is) at least mildy constructive and yet you decide to focus on the unconstructive criticisms from 12 year olds. I’m not sure if you do this intentionally or you are just unable to differentiate between blatant flaming/trolling and constructive criticism. I’m assuming the latter since this was an ongoing problem on IRC, where you and Sally would focus on people spamming instead of people with legitimate questions (myself included).

Danhezee and myself were often subject to blame for the community’s negative sentiment towards Jagex. Early on, that might have seemed like the case, sure, assuming people aren’t able to form an opinion on their own. It’s very easy to blame a handful of people instead of taking responsibility for your own mismanagement. However, it’s gotten to the point where the criticism has moved beyond just the community. For example, Gamasutra has written an article titled “How Ace of Spades gave Jagex a lesson in community management”. All over the internet you see people complaining about the way Jagex failed to handle the community. I’m curious as to whether you are still so disillusioned as to think that this is the handy work of a few disgruntled individuals or if you’ve finally realized that you’re to blame.

I’m sorry that your marketing campaigns have backfired

Early on, it was quite obvious you were a fan of numbers, saying things like “well, when we have 3 million players…” when discussing scalability, obsessing over Facebook “likes”, along with telling the community there were “over 500k” pre-registered players for 1.0. Scalability is great, but so is realism. At the time, the beta was holding a steady 3,800 players. This was without any sort of advertising and without updates for months on end.

Before release, there was a massive marketing campaign involving paying YouTubers (even though you try to deny it, it's obvious),  media outlets, and even "major" news outlets like [NBC]( (Because we all know NBC had nothing better to report than the release of Ace of Spades 1.0).

Promotional graphics were obviously rendered, which wouldn’t have been so much of an issue had you not openly stated they were in-game screenshots. Spoiler: They weren’t.

Now, in retrospect, 1.0 can barely muster more than 1,500 players at any given time with the exception of when it is 50% off on Steam. Any game will sell well on Steam if it’s 50% off. Look a graph charting the playercounts over the last few months and you can easily determine when the game was on sale. 2-3 days after a steam sale, players drop right down to where they were beforehand.

There is nothing that is captivating them. Sure, you got their money, but that’s not sustainable in the long term. Let’s do some math here. I’ve heard Valve takes roughly a 30% cut of sales, I’m not sure how accurate that is myself, if anybody knows for certain feel free to let me know, but it feels like a safe estimate. Based off that estimate, for every 1,000 copies you sell while it is 50% off, Jagex is only making $3,500. Keep in mind, they have been dumping money into this game since early-mid 2011. There have been massive advertising efforts, developer teams (both internal and external), third-party code payoffs (pyspades), servers, and more spanned over multiple years. This is in no way sustainable.

Now there is paid DLC for sale, which is a whole discussion in itself. Even after saying there would be no paid DLC, I think they might be starting to realize that they aren’t going to break even. Next, they’ll likely start leasing privatized servers in an effort to cover server costs. Even though the game servers are hosted on cheap VPSs, it still adds up. People want the flexibility of open server software, not just locked down servers. Sadly, Jagex will still just look at this as another method for potential profit and half-ass it like always.

Some of the primary factors in Ace of Spades’ marketing seem to be:

  • Misleading figures
  • Misleading promotional content (graphics, maps, etc)
  • Misleading system specs. (The steam page claimed it required DirectX 9.0 for the longest time when the game uses OpenGL)

Have fun explaining those figures to your venture capitalists. (As a side note: Anybody who says you should buy 1.0 to “support” the developers, clearly has no idea how Jagex is financially structured.)

I’m sorry that your lack of technical prowess has come back to bite you in the ass

This was evidently a touchy subject, seeing as I was banned on the forums shortly after posting it on the forums.

After seeing you write this:

Sniped wrote: The botting issue in the prototype of AoS will not exist when it is fully released. Simple as that.

I replied with the statement below, resulting in me being banned for “flaming other users”.

lol. Please learn how aimbots work before making a statement like this.

This reminds me of a quote off of IRC:

<Sniped> if there is no cheating possible, would you need extra admin tools?

You shouldn’t make such bold implications, especially if they have no technical backing.

People will cheat in 1.0 just as with any game. OpenGL as a technology is tried and tested when it comes to cheating.

I wouldn’t consider idle legal threats as being a “wealth of experience”. I’ve done my fair share of anti-cheat measures, both technically and socially. I have real-world knowledge and real-world expectations about the subject. Blindly expecting Jagex to obliterate all cheating is quite preposterous. Especially when trying to pull a line like “We have a wealth of experience in dealing with bots too.”, when everybody knows Jagex has little to no control over the cheating in their headlining game.

Protip: The average 12 year old who downloads an aimbot isn’t going to care about some idle legal threat. It’s quite laughable.

I speak for myself when saying I don’t take a company seriously if they try to threaten a lawsuit against anybody who cheats in a game. If anything, it’s likely to stir up interest in people to make cheats as a sort of challenge.

Also, mfw everybody is pretty much reiterating what I wrote in a post, only to have it deleted for being “libelous”. The only problem is my statement was based of of personal expereience from RuneScape, as well as public documentation regarding legalites between Jagex and cheaters. Basically, it’s proven and factual (although my personal experence with RS would be considered opinionated). That’s not anywhere near being “libelous”.

This is just one of many examples where your lack of real-world experience/knowledge has come back to haunt you. By making bold statements and implications such as those, you ignited the interest in many individuals to create cheats, some of which were out on launch day. Why? I’ll give you a hint, people will always cheat. People will do it for whatever reason they want. But for those who make cheats, it’s generally for the challenge to do so and when you antagonize people with statements such as those, you’re only adding fuel to the fire. So congratulations. You not only proved how ignorant you are, but you also helped ruin the in-game experience for players.

Here’s a little bit of advice. I know at Jagex, you guys are quote fond of extravagant (and rather pretentious) titles, but those titles are meaningless unless you have real knowledge, and more importantly, real-world experience. A popular trend among Jagex employees seems to be that of praising the “specialists” within the company. Any problem you can think of, there’s evidently a specialist for it. I’m not doubting that there are people who could know what they’re doing there, but if YOU don’t have an accurate estimation of their skillset, I’m not going to take your word for it. Not to mention, there are many track records with how Jagex has handled, or failed to handle certain situations. Take cheating for instance. You claim you have “anti-cheat specialists”. Where are they? I’m going to assume they’re not involved with Ace of Spades, otherwise you wouldn’t leave such gaping holes like leaving a god damn console within the game.

I’m sorry for your skewed outlook of Build and Shoot and its denial of partnership

The Ace of Spades community as a whole was happy to see Build and Shoot carrying on support for the free to play version and the response to this by Jagex was censorship and bans. I could partially understand this from a company perspective. If people know there’s a free version, they’ll be less inclined to buy the paid version. However, it’s become quite apparent to everybody that the main reason for the irrational responses were the result of petty differences still lingering between the old Ace of Spades staff and Jagex’s community managers.

As a result, the only people who were negatively effected by this was the community, not Build and Shoot. On the contrary, the constant censorship resulted in a Streisand effect and it became even more popular, so thank you for that.

Build and Shoot extended its arms with Jagex in an attempt to patch things up. We tried appeasing Jagex by adding sections on our forums for the 1.0 release. After an exchange of emails, primarily with Sniped, we realized there was always a blockade between us and their appeasement. A snippet from the last email reads:

The passion of your community has overflowed onto some of our other platforms, such as social media and Steam. We have mentioned this to you before but have yet to see any attempts by the site administrators to deal with this issue. This issue is not something which just affects us as the behavior of some of these people who represent your community is going to reflect badly on you.

As I mentioned earlier, you fail to take responsibility for your own mistakes and are under the severe delusion that we are responsible for the negative sentiment towards Jagex.

Partnering with Build and Shoot would’ve only resulted positively for Jagex, yet petty, childish, disagreements still seem to be a problem. The community knows about Build and Shoot, so there’s no real point in censoring it. Partnership would’ve meant less work on your end in terms of moderation and would’ve helped appease the community greatly. It could’ve helped serve as a marketing advantage for new players who are introduced to Build and Shoot and could possibly become interested in 1.0, sadly you seemed to look at things through a very narrow scope.

I’ll cut it short with the apologies. I’m sure there is more to say, but I feel all 3 people who have read this far want to stab me with a soldering iron for wasting their time. Thankfully I actually remembered to type this up today, as I wouldn’t want my punctual reputation to be blemished. As I said, the game has always been centered around the community. Your failure  to properly manage it has resulted in the entire game spiraling downward. Sorry you had to learn that the hard way.

Amidst all of these apologies, I must grant you very sincere “thank you” for helping show me where having an undeserved sense of accomplishment and self-righteous attitude can get you. Second, I would like to thank you for helping make Build and Shoot what it is now and for it’s continuous growth. We have a thriving community that is completely decentralized. Any attempts at patching things up with Jagex has been mainly a philanthropic effort for the community. Granted we would get publicity, which is nice. But you have given us more than enough through your failed attempts at censoring us and the community.

A while back, I was offered to work at Jagex  in Cambridge to help develop Ace of Spades. At the time it seemed like a fantastic opportunity. Sadly, I declined the offer, so we didn’t get to share this roller coaster experience as drinking buddies. But judging by your actions, incoherent thinking, and constantly tripping over yourself, you’ve been drunk this entire time.

tl;dr Sorry.

Sincerely, Nate Shoffner, Senior apology specialist.

This post in no way reflects the collective opinion of Build and Shoot and/or Buld Then Snip, LLC.

Update (3/5/2013):

It seems this article has been passed around quite a bit throughout Jagex.

It has come to my attention that Jagex has been censoring this article on their platforms. Now this doesn’t come as a surprise due to the nature of the article, but their reason for doing so is a bit absurd, in my opinion. Initially, the reasoning for deleting the posts was because it mentioned Build and Shoot. Sorry that Build and Shoot’s success is starting to overshadow your own.

One of the forum staff, lods, said this:

“it’s directing people to a non constructive article which is full of inaccuracies…”

This might be a biased opinion, but I’d say that the article was at least mildy constructive. As for “inaccuracies”, unless you can provide direct examples, don’t say anything. Maybe instead of just skimming the article and making a baseless assumption, you could actually read it before claiming there are “inaccuracies”.

Jagex’s response to this article has done nothing but prove the very behavior it was criticizing.

Thanks for proving my point, again.