The Fall of the Forum of Game Makers
By RyGuyX – remember that
The Dark Plague
I had been a member of the MSN Community (now Group) Game Makers from almost since the beginning. Sparckman founded it. I’ve been through seven assistant managers, including myself: LukeyM, Morphieus, Dines, Titan, RyGuyX, Hairy Cabbage, and Lunchbox (as short-lived as that was). We had always been a community based on Clickteam products, such as Klik & Play, The Games Factory, Multimedia Fusion Express, and Multimedia Fusion. We never got in to Jamagic, the 3D game maker. Toward the end of Titan’s time there, it was Dines, Titan and I as the assistant managers, with Sparckman as the manager. Managers are the founders; they can not be banned; they can not be demoted. For a long time, Sparckman left our group alone, and times were great. Upon Sparckman’s return, I was appointed the final assistant manager in the great triumvirate or noble minds. Sparckman didn’t do much to bother us. He merely put up his mediocre games. I always thought he could do better if he tried, but now I’m not sure.
The first signs came with Sparckman’s unhealthy obsession with quoting lines from the Matrix. At the time, I didn’t think much of it, but later he changed our Game Makers logo to something completely unlike the other one, that featured a quote from The Matrix, without asking anyone. He was the manager, so nobody bothered him about it. I made one small comment, jokingly, but nothing came of it. Later on, though still we didn’t know of the Sparckman’s true black soul, we could see the world had corrupted him. Sparckman posted a thread on the boards about how to make money with your games. There was some controversy over this. Many said that you shouldn’t. Many said they wouldn’t buy anything made by a Klik product unless it was, “really really good.” I didn’t care much, and thought nothing of it.
If you think Sparckman was all bad, he was not. Sparckman made Game Makers, and Game Makers was a happy place for many. I don’t think he was bad from the start. For anyone who can create such a good place can not be all bad, but someone who would destroy that place, in such a dark, evil, corrupted way can not have much of a soul.
Dark Basic is a slightly more advanced program for making 3D games. It did not catch on much. There were a few on Game Makers who used it: Sparckman, Haik, Rimmer, and Hairy Cabbage. I do not recall who introduced this Dark plague upon our creativity-fertile message board, but I’m sure they did not intend for this to happen.
One day, Sparckman took it upon himself to create a new message board on our group that was dedicated to Dark Basic, despite the very few members it had. To this day that I write this, only four people have posted in the Dark Basic section that were actually interested in Dark Basic. There are over 270 people in our group. This did not annoy me so much as what I found out he did next.
The Corrupt Cabbage
Hairy Cabbage was never a very good maker of games. He only ever released one game on our forum, and that was for a contest. It was called Bat Bat Ball, and it was a dressed up game of Breakout, a game where you hit a ball in to some blocks at the top of the screen and try to destroy them all. His game was quite large, featuring over 100 levels. But the game was also very unoriginal and boring. It scored low. He never posted much of anything. He posted very little. And when he did post, he came off as very arrogant. Later on he posted that he was the best game maker and the best programmer. But at this time, little attention was paid to him.
You may ask yourself why I talk about Hairy Cabbage. Well, as I stared in disbelief, it was right there before my eyes: a thread on the new Dark Basic message board, saying that Hairy Cabbage was a new assistant manager, which was posted by Sparckman. This got me very angry. Titan was online at the time, and so was Sparckman. I told Titan what had happened, and Titan was considerably angrier than I was. Titan and I had a group conversation with Sparckman that very night. Titan was arguing mostly against the Dark Basic message board: while I concentrated on my opinion --which was, generally, shared by the others (I later found out)-- that Hairy Cabbage should not be an assistant manager. He had done nothing to earn it, in my eyes. Sparckman argued that he knew Dark Basic well, and he would be the moderator of the Dark Basic board only. I tried to reason that he can’t be restricted to one board, but Sparckman kept telling us to give him a month. I asked “why should we give him anything?” I called him arrogant and selfish and an ass, which I still believe. If you think I only said these things behind his back, you should have been there that night of the personal fight on the Dark Basic message board that night. I was acting in retaliation to his response to the message that said he was a new assistant manager. After all I have told you about what he has done and what I believe about him, you can imagine my anger as I read his big, bold, colorful response to the announcement that said nothing other than, “FINALLY.” I could tell you more, and try to justify myself right now, but there are more important people in this chapter.
The more important person at this part of the story is Titan. While I was defending my pride and trying to destroy the last vestiges of Hairy Cabbage’s credibility, Titan was still arguing with Sparckman. We both argued to Sparckman that he should have asked one of us or Dines, before creating the Dark Basic board. Titan had more deep-seated reasons against it. He claimed 3D games were soulless, while in response to his accusations, Sparckman simply replied with unrelated, seemingly random sentences, such as, “Dark Basic is really easy.” At the end of our conversation that lasted a good 30 minutes, and got us nowhere, we got tired of arguing with someone with the compromising powers of a brick wall and left - him still saying, “Give it a month.”
There is a five-hour time difference between Titan and me. Titan went to sleep, before I did. While Titan was sleeping, Hairy Cabbage was giving me more and more reasons to hate him. I had been an assistant manager long before him, and him deleting one of my posts, was a horrible sign of disrespect toward me. But at the end of the night, we finally were able to talk online and sorted things out. Hairy Cabbage explained that he was not the one to blame for being appointed as an assistant manager; he claimed Sparckman had to convince him. It seemed all would be well, but Titan had not been there for the conversation between Hairy Cabbage and me.
This was not the end of the
conflict, by far. I live in the
James “Titan” Whitehead had never done anything to anyone on the MSN Group of Game Makers. He was a Titan, among the makers of games. He won, by popular vote, his position as assistant manager. He earned it. I cannot say that I did. I was appointed assistant manager with the return of Sparckman. Feeling guilty at that, I set out to improve the group as best as I could. James Titan was a hero to all the lesser game makers. His games may not have been the most intricately coded or the flashiest or the undeniably best-looking, but he put everything he had in to his games. He had two major hits that ignited the flames that were to be two great series of games. Paintball War was made before he joined Game Makers, but his Paintwar 3 was a big hit. Titan Exodus may not have impacted so many as Paintwar, but it influenced one game maker a great deal. Titan never did start working on Titan Exodus 2, but he entrusted the deal to a man who has gone by the names or Biax and Urinal Cake. The Hall of Fame was not awarded to many, but Titan and Urinal Cake were the only ones ever in it.
And the next morning, the forums exploded like a poorly constructed building collapsing on its self. I awoke to find that I had been removed from my assistant manager position, as well had Titan. Dines had not been, since he was not online during all the discussions the night before. Before losing my cool, I read all the new posts, to try to find out why I had been demoted. And then I found it: a post, in which Sparckman had complained that somebody deleted his Dark Basic message board. And, it was easy to figure out that Sparckman, not knowing who deleted the Dark Basic message board, had demoted everyone involved in the discussion, including Hairy Cabbage. I immediately informed Titan of this, and for him that was the last straw. As Titan and I feel, the manager should not be any more important than any one of the assistant managers. Titan was outraged. As quickly as I had announced that he had been demoted, he announced he was leaving. He made one final post on the message board, and then just like that… Titan was gone.
Titan’s Genesis – Klik Forever
Titan and Urinal Cake –another respectable member of GM– went on to create Klik Forever: another MSN Group. Many of the active members followed him there, including my self. Titan and Urinal Cake share Manager Positions –neither of them can be banned. You might think that two managers would be a problem: but in a democratic society where the manager does not have the final say, based on a trust system (with people you can actually trust): there is no problem. I was appointed the only asst. manager. I may only be the first: only the future will tell. I did not, though, leave Game Makers, as did nobody. We all shift back and forth.
The Smallest of Compromises
There was a lot of criticism and people were split after Titan left. Some scolded him. Some scolded Sparckman. Some scolded us all: namely Chris Dines. I was very angry at Sparckman for handling the situation so badly and causing Titan to leave. There was banter back and forth on the boards. It really wasn’t about the Dark Basic board, which many failed to see. It was about Sparckman’s abuse of power. I thought things had gotten out of hand and that I should try to stop criticizing and start fixing. Sparckman wouldn’t listen to me. So maybe he would listen to the people. I thought no rational mind could go against democracy.
Sparckman either proved me wrong or proved he wasn’t rational. Right now I think the latter. I made an online poll for voting for or against a few propositions. One particular vote was: “Do you want an MMB board to be added to GameMakers?” Multimedia Builder is a program that is used for making applications such as install programs and other things. It was not designed for or intended for game making. After a couple days I had six votes against Multimedia Builder and none for it. I then went to sleep. I woke up seven hours later and eagerly checked the polls. Somehow, in the course of seven hours, more than the regularly active number of people decided to vote for MMB. There were 17 votes for an MMB board. I was outraged that Sparckman would stoop so low as to fix a vote. Things were looking bad for Sparckman. Then one day he signs on to MSN.
MSN Messenger is how most of the board members talk to each other when we’re not talking to each other by way of the Game Makers group. Most, if not all, of the important members had MSN Messenger and regularly went on. Sparckman doesn’t go on as much as everyone else. So when I started talking to him everyone wanted to take part in the conversation. During the conversation it became apparent to me and others that Sparckman was an idiot and had a poor grasp on what I stood for and wanted. It is extremely hard to talk to him, seriously. He would not stay on the subject. http://www.angelfire.com/games4/huntergames/sparckmansays.html is where the log can be found, currently. It talks for itself.
During the conversation he announced he wanted to add even more boards to the group. It was a long conversation – time-wise. The bottom line was that Sparckman wanted to expand GameMakers and nobody else wanted to, but Sparckman had the final say. We finally came to a small compromise. Sparckman would move all new boards to a separate group. However: this only fixed one aspect of the problem: that the DB board was no longer on GameMakers. However it did nothing to address Sparckman’s abuse of power and Titan’s leaving. It would not be the end of problems. It would even start a few more.
You Have the Right to Nothing
Apparently there was some miscommunication during the chat we all had with Sparckman. Anyone who read that might be thinking, “understatement of the century.” I thought that Sparckman would create a new board and concentrate on that, leaving GameMakers alone. That, unfortunately, wasn’t nearly the case. The group that Sparckman created was Called GameMakersPro. The name itself, I believed, was an insult to the current GameMakers community and would undoubtedly drive members away from GameMakers and to there. But insulting us with a name wasn’t nearly enough. The next day when I checked GameMakers, I was shocked as Sparckman had taken it upon himself to redo the navigation bar.
The navigation bar is the series of links on the left of every page that let you navigate to different boards and sections of GameMakers. Most people that visit GM have slower connections because of where they live. What Sparckman did was not only good for himself, but bad for the rest of the people.
Sparckman had put all the boards into a group. He had also put all the other choices into a separate group. Then he added a link to GameMakersPro on the left. This made 3 choices when you entered the site: Message Boards, Misc, and GameMakersPro. This was on every page, too. He was obviously trying to get most people to go to GameMakersPro. The fact that all the choices were in groups was bad for others, too. They had slower connections and loading pages took a while. Now they had to click on and load two pages instead of one, making it twice as long to get where they were going. This may not have been a big deal but it was my concern.
Sparckman continued making changes that I didn’t agree with. I attacked him for provoking me more. I pointed out that by him making changes without consent made Titan leave. And now he was doing the same thing and wouldn’t stop despite cries of “leave the group alone!” In the end, the MMB board was never created. So I thought that maybe the last vote wasn’t a complete failure. I decided to try my hand at another vote.
This time the vote was for the left side bar. I clearly told Sparckman that I was not trying to rebel, since things between me and him were not going too well. I also noted: “Please vote only once. Do not try to get outsiders to vote for you, etc. etc.” Sparckman’s response shocked me and pushed us all closer to joining Titan at KlikForever for good.
Sparckman’s exact words were, “The board is staying like it is one more of your opinionated comments about the board and you will be banned from game makers leave the board like it is. and that’s final i don’t wanna hear about it anymore. There is not room for this kind of stuff in GM.” I have not changed the sentence structure, either. If anything I made it better by leaving out the oddly placed enters. Despite his extremely bad grammar (especially for a man over 20), he was serious about this. Sparckman had just denied me my right to speak and threatened to ban me: based on my opinion and not because I broke any rules, which I didn’t. This was a violation of my rights as a human being.
The Plans to Leave
I was ready to leave, now. I was planning on it. I had every reason to in my mind. I had everyone that I cared about at GameMakers behind me and ready to leave as soon as I gave the go-ahead. But if you have probably noticed that you’re not quite near the end of my story yet. There was one problem.
Dines and I had been online friends for a considerable amount of time – longer than anyone else I’ve ever known online. Dines is also a very smart person. Everyone knew that. I was ready to go as soon as Dines told me he would come.
I waited and waited for him to get online. I wrote him an email, saying that I was leaving and trying to make sure that he would come with me. I was sure he would. Alas, though: he would not give up. He loved GameMakers too much. And since he would not leave: I would not leave. I announced to everyone that I wasn’t leaving. They didn’t leave.
Dines set about trying to fix GameMakers and restore it to what it was before. I set to making tiny changes to make the best out of what I had to work with. Some things Sparckman changed back, and I just had to put up with it. He erased the link to the Hall of Fame. I put it back several times, while he kept taking it away. Finally I hid it in a logo design on the Misc Page. He didn’t seem to notice.
I didn’t want to bring more controversy to the surface as Dines was trying so hard to fix GM. But Sparckman wanted the Hall of Fame gone because it honored Titan, who was the first to leave. I don’t know what Dines did, but he said he was trying to hold GameMakers together.
Sparckman went on doing his idiotic things, pissing us off with spam about other things. He kept trying to force new things on us – just more subtly. He posted articles about programming languages and programs and utilities that we didn’t use or care about. He used propaganda to try to get people to be more accepting of new things. He posted articles about robots and stuff. He still constantly used quotes from the Matrix and used his arbitrarily placed enters. Sparckman never bothered me much until he started posting things.
During this time I was part of both KlikForever and GameMakers. I visited and replied on both the same. I tried to remain neutral. It was like this for a few people. We were in limbo between KF and GM.
As Sparckman became more and more inactive, we started forgetting more and more about how much we wanted to leave GM. A couple months passed by. Since Sparckman had calmed down and seemed to be over his power-mad phase, Titan started thinking of a merger. I urged him to do it, since I didn’t like going back and forth between the two boards so much. Things were starting to look better. Then Sparckman decided to change the logo again.
The Final Straws
Before he changed our logo, again, he put up a logo for GameMakersPro on the welcome page. This angered me. But I did not want to make a scene. So instead: I moved it in to a more discreet position on the welcome page. The new logo was horrible. It looked what can only be described as gay. It featured a silhouette of a man prancing happily while holding a ball. To me it looked like something that should be advertising a gay pride parade. One person said, regarding Sparckman, “If I hadn’t seen pictures of him married, I’d assume he was as gay as a fruitcake.”
The fact that the new logo was bad did not anger me as much as he changed it without asking anyone. First I posted, asking him why he felt he needed to change it and why he changed it and why he changed it without asking anyone first. I also included that other people had said that it sucked. Sparckman replied, answering none of my important questions. The ones he did attempt to answer were answered with gibberish. Then, as if he hadn’t caused enough controversy, he decided to announce some more news.
He announced that there would be a new addition to GameMakers. It would be like GameMakersPro –which had failed miserably, by the way– except it would include a lot more topics. He also spoke out directly against democracy. “Logos: will change from time to time you are not always gonna like the logos,” showed that he did not care what anyone else thought. Upon hearing this, I had to speak out against Sparckman himself, and not just the announcement.
I spoke what many were thinking. I called Sparckman an evil tyrant. I put it to him that he was an egotistical self-centered ass. I accused him of being power hungry and a control freak. The worst part was, for him, I backed up every one of my insults with evidence. I inferred that he was a megalomaniac, which is exactly what somebody else called him after reading my post.
One of the newer members said I had some valid points and a vote was in order. I laughed at this and told him the last time I had a vote he threatened to ban me. So the other members and I talked about what Sparckman was doing and all but one of them totally agreed with me.
Rico has never liked me much and I have never appreciated his posts very much. Often he posted when he had little grasp of the topic and he came off very weird and I had to delete his post, to try to keep peace at GameMakers, which angered him. He simply came at me with the argument that it was Sparckman’s board. It is hard to make an argument against that other than which would be fairer: one man in charge or everyone has a say?
I will write more on Rico later. He is a reasonable guy, though, don’t get me wrong. He’s not like Hairy Cabbage who still doesn’t like me to this day and blames me for everything. Hairy Cabbage, though, appears to have disappeared. The next day I had the day off school and I would awake to find something that surprised me very much.
The Last Link in the Chain
It was sudden. It was without proper provocation. It was irrational! I had been banned from GameMakers. I opened my emails to read what they had to say. Titan had emailed me saying something like, “Sparckman has flipped! Go to GM NOW!” Dines emailed me saying that Sparckman had banned me and that Dines had un-banned me (without consent from Sparckman, of course).
Then I decided I should mosey on down to check the new posts on GameMakers. I found what was: the reason that a lot of people left. Sparckman had said, “Too bad your are not close by or I would go to your School wait for outside you and beat the living crap out of you.” And that wasn’t edited, either. As if the threat of physically harming me wasn’t enough, he had to go crazy, too.
Sparckman goes by a few different names. Oxoman and Hexman are just two of the others that he frequently uses. He even created different accounts on MSN for each of them and uses them interchangeably. We never thought much of that until we all decided he seriously needed mental help.
Later on in the day, he signed back on. Titan and I had conversations with him… if you can call them conversations, that is. He referred to himself as evil, a lot. He called himself the Evil Sparckforce. He kept referring to the Master Plan and said he would ban everyone from the internet. Then he simply said, “TIGER. BIRDid. I WILL USE A TINY NET,” then some more gibberish, then referred to something he called the SparckWORM. Then he gave me a link that didn’t work and then he said I was “dummed.” Finally, he finished off our conversation by saying, “Good bye Mr. Anderson,” quoting the Matrix, once again. When he signed back on, I asked him why I was supposed to be dead for clicking the link and he tried to send me a file called “virus.exe,” then he sent me an IP address along with computer information. I think he assumed I didn’t know my own information and I might think that that was mine. I knew it wasn’t and asked him whose it was and he said, “beats me” and signed off.
Titan’s conversation with Sparckman was even weirder, yet similar. He sent Titan the same link and then after that, to every question that Titan asked, Sparckman replied by simply typing “guilty” in all caps.
Sparckman seemed to have gone crazy. He started the long chain of events that was the chain reaction that led to this. Now the final link was about to be triggered.
The last time we tried to leave it was a planned thing. But this time, Sparckman’s sudden rashness and hostility had forced people away even stronger than before. We were all moving to KlikForever and Sparckman did nothing but give them all the more reason to. His current name on MSN was “The Evil FORCE.” He was on when I got on and he didn’t anything to try to keep people in GM.
I had given him opportunities to apologize for his actions. But throughout this whole thing, which had already spanned months, he had not once apologized to anyone.
When I checked the messages earlier a few mornings later, I was surprised at the number of people who announced they were leaving. The night before, Rico, of all people, asked me if it was all right if he “hung around KF” instead of GM. I, naturally, said it was fine and I hope that the bad air between us can now subside because Sparckman will no longer be able to cause so many controversies for us to argue over. Even people who haven’t been posting or around for a while could see how evil Sparckman had become. Yuhkaz, a member trying to start over with a new name (I will not reveal his old name), announced he was leaving for KF because it had “gone too far.” Super Chick, a guy who almost never posts, but says he checks the boards regularly announced he would be going to KlikForever. Most of the more important people were already part of KF.
Dines announced his resignation from the asst. manager position on GameMakers that morning, also. Dines, the most respected member of the community, declared GameMakers “officially dead.”
A Hijacking and the Dead Time
There is a bit of discrepancy about how it happened, but Sparckman is believed to have impersonated some one that Titan knew and tricked him in to giving up his password to his MSN account. Sparckman admitted this to some one. But at the time, he claimed that the Hack Force had stolen it. Then, pretending to be the Hack Force, he deleted KlikForever. Only after KlikForever was destroyed did the “real” Sparckman come back and, playing the hero in his little story, claimed to have hacked the Hack Force’s server, and gave it back in return for Titan’s password. Many truly believed this was a different person. I, secretly remained very skeptical. It was all too perfect how things worked out for Sparckman: every body was back at his board, which the “hackers” said they would destroy but never did, and now people had more confidence in him than ever.
And so, for a while, we all went back to GameMakers. Things were slow. Nothing much happened. On Sparckman’s orders, which he never followed through on, we were to have a logo competition. Nobody ever really won. We just tried different logos until people stopped caring or complaining about what was up there. People quietly worked on their games. For me, this time was a blur. Nothing interesting happened. Things were almost as they should be, but for me: something was off. Then, one day, out of the blue: the “Hack Force” joined GameMakers.
I didn’t visit GameMakers on the day this happened, so when I did visit the next day, people were already announcing they were leaving and Titan had restarted KlikForever. It’s enough to make me think that some were just waiting for an excuse to leave and preparing for the day. Sparckman must have spent a while thinking up the stories he told us about the Hack Force.
According to whoever Sparckman claimed to be on his MSN account, who for me: was a server operator in Mexico, Sparckman was in charge of the Hack Force and the ones who attacked us were a defecting part of it who got fired. He went on to explain who everybody was in the Hack Force, though he utterly failed at convincing me. I, not wanting to go through a split of the population, posted his story on GameMakers, trying to reassure people that everything would be ok. I also posted what I believed: that Sparckman and the Hack Force was at that time, and always had been the same person and that if you looked at it this way: Sparckman had complete control over the Hack Force. However, and I’m glad now, this had little effect on people.
Whether it was that joining of the Hack force or the events that came after that drove everyone away, I don’t know, but everyone except one left, who may not have been there for it. He, Puma, didn’t make games like the rest of us did and never posted any. So it is not much of a loss. Soon after we left a few new members joined and started posting regularly, which almost never happens. I’d go back and ask them to come to KlikForever if I weren’t suspicious of them being Sparckman, himself.
For some reason, the “Hack Force” targeted me. I was banned from GM and I didn’t know why. I spent a good amount of time arguing with some one who acted as dumb as a sack of rocks and would not respond to my points, threatening to hack me every few minutes. At the end of the first conversation, I had done nothing but piss off the “Hack Force” and had vengeance sworn upon me. Considering, however, that he simply would not deny the numerous accusations I made that he and Sparckman were the same person, I was not worried about being hacked. I finally convinced the “Hack Force” to un-ban me. We may have given Sparckman a bit too little credit, I think now, because of what we all found out next.
To one that we owe much to (however I will not release his alias here), Sparckman admitted that he was the Hack Force and was just trying to piss off Titan and I enough to get us to do something that would give him an excuse to ban us. Sparckman also explained, or tried to with his poor English, how he stole Titan’s password by pretending to be his girlfriend, online. Finally, Sparckman said something that pushed me over the edge and made me vow to never return to GameMakers: “they always come back.”
I, for one, was shocked! We were, to this psycho, all just an experiment in social engineering, whether he himself knew it or not. I think that to him, we were all part of his little “Matrix” and he was “The Architect.” If you have seen the second matrix, which he was absolutely obsessed with, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
If I had ever, for one second, though he was a somewhat intelligent human being, it disappeared when, on GameMakers, he posted topics, titled “RyGuyX and Titan are gay” and deleted any response to them. If that wasn’t enough, Sparckman was racist, calling me black as if it was an insult.
And so it was: the third time we left GameMakers. This is, however, the third and final time I will ever leave GameMakers. I, for one, will never go back, and I feel and hope that to be true for everyone at KlikForever. Despite the libel that Sparckman writes about me and those who left, I have sworn to never post on GameMakers again. We must now cut off contact with Sparckman and leave him be.
A New Beginning
We must remember: we did not abandon GameMakers. It was not GameMakers that we loved. GameMakers was nothing. It was the people there that made it great. And we have brought the people to KlikForever.
Some may accuse Titan and me as being the underminers of GameMakers. Some may say we abandoned something; we gave up; we wanted power for ourselves. Hold you tongue, though, accusers. We were not power hungry and we will not be! We did not give up on any group of people; we took it with us! We did not kill Sparckman’s power out of greed; we removed it as a sacrifice to democracy! We did not cower and run in shame because of our acts; we stood up, proud and declared loudly that we did it! We did everything in the public and took no hidden paths to secure the rights of the members!
KlikForever will be every bit as great as GameMakers was when Sparckman left us alone! We will not forget GameMakers. We will remember it as a monument to past mistakes. We will look to the old stories for guidance. We will remember not to give any one man too much power. We will listen to the people!
It is horrible what he has done and there is no telling if he might do it again to some other group. Maybe, some day, if something like this starts to happen to another group at GameMakers, this story could help them.