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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:55 am  Post subject: The Future of Merqury City  
Ass-Kisser Extraordinaire
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Joined: Fri Sep 26, 2003 9:49 am
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Location: P-Town in da NW
XBL: gondeeSSX
PSN: gondeeSSX
I am finally making a topic to discuss the future of the site. I will leave this topic up for a few months to be sure that everyone who still has an interest in the site will see it and can weigh in. After that, likely some time this summer, I will make a decision and move forward.

Where Merqury City was
When SSX 2012 came out, I invested significant amounts of money to create many custom mods that make the site so original. I found a great modder who worked with me at a reasonable price to create all these mods. In late 2013, the modder vanished with no warning. I tried many times to contact them and couldn't do so. It is difficult to find a good modder and therefore at that point I was stuck. I had to stop updating the board because our custom mods would stop working if I did. The normal upgrading process for phpBB can be very significant and in particular moving from major version to the next almost guarantees that your mods will break.

For those of you that wonder which mods I'm referring to, the following mods would likely break if I had updated the board:

  • Scoreboard
  • Rankings mod
  • Master Runs
  • Index Page
  • Forum perks, stuff like the medals and custom titles based on scoreboard rankings mod

Now our board has gotten so old that even basic features like making a post will now pop-up errors. It got particularly bad the last year that I had a difficult time even updating the scoreboard. Any time I tried to update it it would log me out of the admin panel. The last time I tried to update the scoreboard, what should have taken 20 minutes took me more than 8 hours. :eek

Where Merqury City is now
Many basic functions of the board are working but badly and there may be multiple functions that are critical to the site that aren't that I don't know about. I don't know what may break in the future, so it has come time to update the site. The next major upgrade to phpbb is 3.2. It contains many upgrades to the board software to put it in line with other major board packages. Again however, the major catch here is if I update it, the big features of the site will break. I have spent the last few weeks communicating with a modder who would upgrade our board mods to something that would work with the 3.2 package. After some preliminary work he has gotten back to me with a quote - and that leads me to my next concern:

Is it worth it?
So, it's time to lay my cards out on the table. If I'm being particularly honest here, Merqury City is dead. Like, super dead. We've gotten one post in the last week. I'm hesitant to spend a significant amount of money on a dead site. I have to put a good portion of the blame for the dead site on myself. I don't have the passion for web design I once did. I find it increasingly like a job where once it was my passion.

So why do I not have the passion for updating the site I once did?

1) The biggest one is a change in priorities. I'm not in my twenties anymore. The lifestyle that made it easy to log in every day and check in with the site isn't there anymore.

2) I didn't connect with SSX 2012 like I was hoping I would, so the huge amounts of work that sprung from that game seemed like more work than play. The activity level then died a few years after SSX 2012 and there isn't any additional hope that I can see about a potential SSX game. In fact, the current climate in video games these days with microtransactions and such makes it so that I DON'T want an SSX game to come out if it will be like Star Wars Battlefront 2.

3) The current situation with the scoreboard and the proliferation of emulators makes it extremely easy - EXTREMELY easy - to cheat at the old games and scam the scoreboard. I don't have the patience anymore to suss out whether a video score is legit. Video, at one point, was the 100% way of verifying a score. It is no longer - emulators can be used to cheat even a live run. The longer this goes on the easier it gets as emulators become closer to the stock Playstation 2.

The drama that has occurred the last few years over different players using emulators to get high scores and acting like they are using consoles has weighed on me. Tool-assisted runs are submitted as player runs. I'm not sure how many of the current top scores are actually legit. I'm sure most are - but if I have to play Sherlock Holmes every time we get a top 3 score it lessens my desire to update the site.

Because of this, most of the great players at the game now have separated from Merqury City and started their own community based around Twitch and emulators. They create custom categories with custom rules like many other speed runner communities and that is fantastic. I love watching them - but I don't have the patience to make sure every little change they make to their competition complies with our rules. I don't blame them for making their own community - I would too. But when all the onus falls on me to legitimize scores and most of the impression I get from emulator submissions is that they are fuzzy at best as far as compliance with our rules goes because of several different reasons, it makes it difficult to be a passionate about it as I once was.

So now onto to the bit where I need your feedback.

The future of Merqury City
I plan on keeping Merqury City open, so don't worry about us shutting down. We will remain open. But like I mentioned, we have come to a crossroads. Here are my two options:

1) I can update the bulletin board and lose the mods I mentioned above. Give me some feedback on if you would be okay with the site just having a bulletin board and nothing else. The posts would all be here, and we will be able to make posts and enjoy the updated features of phpbb 3.2 but the scoreboard, the Master Runs and other items would be archived. They would be available as static web pages for record-keeping purposes and would not be updated any longer. The fan-art gallery runs on a separate piece of software and wouldn't be affected.

If I don't get any feedback or don't get good enough feedback, this is the option I will take. I will update the forum to the newest version and lose the features I mentioned:

  • Scoreboard
  • Rankings mod
  • Master Runs
  • Index Page
  • Forum perks, stuff like the medals and custom titles based on scoreboard rankings mod

2) or I can pay several hundred dollars to update the scoreboard, Master Runs, Index page and other mods that give our community their flavor - but for a dead site. We would have all the features of 3.2 and the scoreboard and everything else, but it would be several months before this is done - the late summer at best.

I have a modder who is willing to do this - but I need feedback from the community as to whether it will be appreciated. If we continue our one-post-or-less a week rate, I wouldn't see this as worth it.

So please, give me your feedback. I will keep this topic up for several months and you can weigh in with your opinion. Let me know what you think!

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:48 pm  Post subject: Re: The Future of Merqury City  
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 8:53 am
Scoreboard Honors: 2
  • SSX Tricky: Overall: #2
  • SSX Tricky: Showoff: #3
Rank: Master
Location: Bergen, Norway
Glad you made this topic. I’ve been wondering at times for how long you will be willing to be commited to keep this train going. I can definitely where you’re coming from.

For me personally, I would be a little sad seeing many features go. Despite the issues we have with emulators, players on the both Tricky and 3 scenes can make new master runs in the future the way I see it. These are the first things that come to mind, will probably have to digest your post a little more.

EDIT: the ranking system is also part of the charm of the site imho. It is part of what makes Merqury City Merqury City.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:10 pm  Post subject: Re: The Future of Merqury City  
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Hi G

first thoughts from the above:

Without a new game to back up the site I totally understand where you are with all this. Personally I think you pay enough just to keep this all going and would not want you to take on any more cost than you already do. If by chance you could get in touch with EA and ask them directly somehow about another game and they say yes, then maybe the cost would be worth it.

We will still be able to post and the gallery is still about. Maybe its time to scale things back until hopefully some good news comes our way.

A pity Batty or TOTS cant appear like the sites fairy godmother and relight the flame once again. I know STEEP still seems to be going strong(?) but all the comments I ever see of that game is 'It's not SSX'.

Is it worth putting a poll on to vote for Mods or Board (with a vote change possible)


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:19 pm  Post subject: Re: The Future of Merqury City  
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 8:53 am
Scoreboard Honors: 2
  • SSX Tricky: Overall: #2
  • SSX Tricky: Showoff: #3
Rank: Master
Location: Bergen, Norway
Just want to add, I agree with Yeti regarding the money aspect.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:51 pm  Post subject: Re: The Future of Merqury City  
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Yeti wrote:
Is it worth putting a poll on to vote for Mods or Board (with a vote change possible)?

I thought about that, but I'd like more substantive input than just selecting an option and then leaving.

Besides, the two options would essentially be:

Upgrade the scoreboard and other mods
or
Don't upgrade the scoreboard and other mods

I'm sure I know what people will pick if they just show up for a split second. :heh Especially given how long the first post is.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:46 pm  Post subject: Re: The Future of Merqury City  
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Hey G

Thanks for the PM. Tbh I never post scores so that aspect wouldn't affect me in the least. If some people are determined to keep the scoreboards then start a go fund me and have them contribute to it. Youve spent so much time and money and have asked for nothing in return and we're all super grateful but you should keep your own interest in mind as well.

I'm sorry if my input is kind of useless. I do enjoy the message board though when I'm around.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:08 pm  Post subject: Re: The Future of Merqury City  
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A Sick One With A Smile wrote:
I'm sorry if my input is kind of useless. I do enjoy the message board though when I'm around.

I asked for your opinion because I value it, Sick One. And thanks for that, I appreciate it. :)

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 10:52 am  Post subject: Re: The Future of Merqury City  
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Hello guys :)

Honestly, I want you to do what your heart feels like doing. You've done a lot for this community, and I completely understand how you're feeling right now. As others, I've wondered from time to time how long would you keep the site going, with how dead it's been. I think you should make the call without me trying to steer you into one or another way - one of your options involves spending a lot of money, and as you mentioned, with us being now in a different period in life, I understand how hard it is to make some money, and one has to wonder if that money is better spent somewhere. And we're at a point I can't ask you for anything more, because you've done more than anyone else would have done.

I can only really leave an opinion, and support you in whatever is the decision you make. My opinion is that it's not justifiable to spend more money updating parts of the website that aren't being actively participated in. If you look as a whole to the website, it really is dead in all places, but the forum is the forum - it's indispensable for me, even if I'm not participating anymore and even if it's dead. I would like it updated and working for the rest of my life. I can live with the rest being an archive.

Things can change quickly in the future. The website got a huge boost when the newest SSX was announced and looking back, it got more posts in its forum category than SSX3, despite not being a classic.

If anything like that happens again, and you know we'll gather here again, and you know we'll put our name on every other forum and place we know, then maybe you can put in the money once people are actively participating again.

I'll be keeping an eye on this topic. Cheers everyone :)

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 12:07 pm  Post subject: Re: The Future of Merqury City  
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 8:53 am
Scoreboard Honors: 2
  • SSX Tricky: Overall: #2
  • SSX Tricky: Showoff: #3
Rank: Master
Location: Bergen, Norway
After reading the comments above, I see that my opinion differs from other people, and I have the feeling option 1 is what we’re gonna end up with, and that is most fair to gondee. So, like gondee, don’t feel pressured to spend a lot of money.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 7:31 pm  Post subject: Re: The Future of Merqury City  
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2003 9:35 am
Rank: Master
Location: Portland, OR, USA
XBL: Omoikane x8
Oi, been awhile.

I haven't been a "regular" here for a long, long time not even counting the brief times I would come back when a new game was released. So my opinion probably shouldn't have as much weight as some of the others but I figure I will weigh in anyway.

I, as well as everyone else I'm sure, appreciate your dedication and commitment to the SSX series and particularly the fandom and this site. There is no doubting that you have already put in a ridiculous amount of time and money into this site and I don't ever recall you asking for any sort of donations to keep the site going. Hell, you haven't even resorted to using ads.

I understand the Scoreboard is an important part of the site and a crucial part of the game for some people. And really, that's probably the most important (possibly only, imo) mod worth considering. Unfortunately I do not think it is worth it for you to pay hundreds of $'s of your own money to save this feature. Especially in light of the issues you've brought up about the ease of scamming the scoreboards, the difficulty in verifying legit runs, and with how dead the site is.

And I absolutely DO NOT think you should be blaming yourself for the "death" of the site. I don't think it has so much to do with anything you have or haven't done. The internet is very different from back in the day. Forums are not really a popular form of socializing on the internet anymore. Game culture is different too. The fact that this site is still around and that you are still dedicated to keeping it alive in some form at all and that people do still come here, however infrequently, is worthy of note as it is.

And as long as the forums are still around there will, presumably, always be the options to add the mods to the site again if the franchise does make a comeback in the future.

For those reasons I'm very much in the Option #1 camp, fwiw. I do agree with Sick One though; I think as an alternate to Option #2 you should set up a GoFundMe or whatever and allow people who might be willing to pay for these mods to pay for them. It's probably worth gauging interest at least.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:10 pm  Post subject: Re: The Future of Merqury City  
SSX Tricky: Racing: #1
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  • SSX Tricky: Racing: #1
  • SSX: Showoff: #3
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you could ditch the scoreboard and have the site link the to the google sheets scoreboard we have and declare that as a pseudo-official rank. we also use a google form as means of submitting scores and times so it becomes efficient and you could potentially link that as well.

for those who wanna know what im talking about, here is our community made ssx tricky google sheets leaderboard:

race mode: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/13ecAJ_SDlw03dxctAUY36-dkl8XwWXjNtLBJTmdvCQ0/edit?usp=sharing

showoff mode: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1AWfrI8Crr8KICTWSD-lSlkFLedPf0N-Rxb2vvQbJQKg/edit#gid=0


i know it looks kinda dull comparably to the merq scoreboard, but this was made only a year ago. its moderated by me and my brother and were always looking for new ways to update the look of it. leave your suggestions for what we could change about it!

and this is just for tricky alone, we could make leaderboards for every ssx game, who knows! its not finished yet, but if you see colored numbers on the points systems, heres what they mean:

blue = video
yellow = submitted directly through google form submission
grey = screenshot
red = claimed, no proof

so yeah, thats my suggestion. if you have any questions about the leaderboard, ask me anything

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 2:20 pm  Post subject: Re: The Future of Merqury City  
SSX 3: Showoff: #1
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Gondee! Thank you for PM'd me about this topic! we are in a crucial moment now and i'm happy that we can participate of the decision about the future of merq! i have some things to talk about it and my opinion is , that the mainly reason of the inactive of the site is that are not updated properly ( the SCOREBOARD mainly) we know thats not your fault, the servers are old and you can't update properly ( as other things like master runs and ect) but if it was fixed, the people will migrate back here to submit scores and this is what make the site alive , the spirit of competition, not only for the top 3 players , but for any people, that want see his score there in the scoreboard, people keep playing ssx games a lot , and thats why here are inactive now, so i believe that if it was fixed the site will raise again step by step, so we found another problem , as you said , the expensive price of it, is expensive to fix that things as you said but, man , i think that the solution for this is donations.

you can create a way for comunity donate money for this objetive to halp you to fix the site, me and a some other people have interest in donate if it will save the ESSENCE of merqurycity that are the scoreboard, INDEX page , master runs , and soo....

also we have another queston to think about: you are in another moment on your life and don't have the patiente and passion as in the past to keep updating the site as you did across all this years,


and man, i totally understand you man, i don't imagine how hard could be hold alone all the responsibility of the website, and you did it so well in almost two decades, it is we ( me and all merqcity people ) really respect and appreciate all the work you has done so and i think that teh comunity are not surprised with are happening now, myself wondering for years in how much time you could keep putting your own effort to keep this site working , it's admirable, but i desagree about the site become "superdead" , the site are still alive, cause i'm sure that have tons of people like me , that visit this site almost everyday, and even that post anything , still visit here , and watch old master runs, and want subimit scores, but we visit in silence due the updates be so rare in nowdays, but is not your fault as everybody know, but i believe that with a site working well , the activit will grow up since i can see a lot of new players apeearing in the other internet sites as discord twith and youtube and reddit, so i have an sugestion to you Gondee, maybe be the time for you pass or at least share the moderation of merq for other people , have some really indicate canditates in my opinion taht love this game so much and this will guarante the longer life of this site that we love so much! is delicate this issue but i think that could be necessary the maturation of this idea, also , we could do a LOT of things for merq yet, I still play this game and i have a lot of new scores that i want subbimit, also, if everything goes good and the site will be fixed, we can make an timeline of the merqcity story from the first old legends in ssx, Xcon have A LOT of material archived on his pc and an unbelievable knowledge about the merqcity story, this could be put in highlights of the site in the future to keep the old master memory saved.. well, have a tons of great things that we can do for merqurycity yet, and i'm willing to do anything else to save merqurycity, maybe donations be the solution here for now , and maybe an new moderator with you Gondee could be the solution to make Merqurycity live longer !

ps: you should put this topic in the mainly page of the Site , ins't better?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:42 am  Post subject: Re: The Future of Merqury City  
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Thanks for the pm, g. Much appreciated that you took the time to give us your current thoughts and plan for the site.

I'm with most of the others here, there's no need to feel pressure. When I first saw the title of the thread, I thought you were considering shutting the whole place down! But as long as we can still keep our posts and continue posting, that's totally fine by me.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2018 6:48 am  Post subject: Re: The Future of Merqury City  
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A Sick One With A Smile wrote:
Hey G

Thanks for the PM. Tbh I never post scores so that aspect wouldn't affect me in the least. If some people are determined to keep the scoreboards then start a go fund me and have them contribute to it. Youve spent so much time and money and have asked for nothing in return and we're all super grateful but you should keep your own interest in mind as well.

I'm sorry if my input is kind of useless. I do enjoy the message board though when I'm around.



^^this.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2018 6:27 pm  Post subject: Re: The Future of Merqury City  
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Hey Gondee,

I am really new to this site you could say. I hopped into it to stay involved with the community. I only play SSX2012 and in my opinion, for that game, and that game only, the investment may not be worth it.

Many of the master-runs that are on the board are outdated because most players of SSX2012 upload straight to YouTube. I like this site more as a bulletin board but it is nice to have a place that splits wingsuit and board racing master-runs...so Gondee, thanks for that!

In terms of money, it would be totally unacceptable for you to contribute the full amount. As others have said, and I can tell, you've been the blood of this site for over a decade! If people want it, they should contribute and it is the least that the community could do for you.

Like you say, you don't have all the time in the world to moderate the site.
So don't stress out about taking time out for your own priorities because you're a human and if people don't understand that concept then I don't know where to begin.

I agree with setting up a gofundme or maybe a patreon.

Thanks for being honest here Gondee, I like that.

...thanks :)


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 3:21 am  Post subject: Re: The Future of Merqury City  
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  • SSX 3: Overall: #3
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Damn, sorry I'm so late to the party G. The twenty-something side of me from the past, who had time to compete would say go for it. However the now older and more logical side of me understands exactly where you're coming from. I could see it making sense if you not only revamped the site but also put a team of people in place to help out with verifying runs and the other ins and out of running this site, but there would have to be a new game on the horizon for it to even work. Thats my feedback for ya at least.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2018 1:43 am  Post subject: Re: The Future of Merqury City  
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Like a twat, I completely forgot about this. Apologies G.

Essentially my thoughts are the same as Amanda's and echo pretty much what everyone else is saying. I'm more active on FB these days and never post scores, growing up has influenced the way in which I play games and so I tend to stick to tumblr now and blog.

Since I never post scores and only play for fun and not competition updating the scoreboard to me is an inefficient way of spending money. Unless another SSX is released, I see no reason for you to continue ploughing time, effort and money into an otherwise lovely but dead site, G.

I love this site, I can't begin to explain the impact it and it's users have haf on me over these past 15 years (jfc that long). But without the game to keep it alive there is no spark :(

If the people want the scoreboard to stay alive then the funding should be shared.

Hopefully this comment isn't too late and helps. Xx

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2018 8:41 am  Post subject: Re: The Future of Merqury City  
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Gondee,

Thank you for this site and for everything you've done over the years. This is the only community I'm a part of where it feels like family. Scoreboards don't matter to me. Forums are the most important thing. They are the life blood of this site.

And don't give up, I know EA is out there somewhere with SSX still in the back of their minds. Who knows, if they decide to do a proper SSX tricky remake one day, then maybe our kids will become members of this site too.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2018 7:39 pm  Post subject: Re: The Future of Merqury City  
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  • SSX 3: Racing: #2
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Location: South Africa
I've only joined this site a few years ago, so i haven't seen this site at its prime. Relying on new games for temporary popularity isn't worth the costs. That being said, this site is the only heritage of SSX on the internet as far as i know, so it would really be the end of an era to let it go :cry

My verdict? Don't waste your time and effort. If we can still post to each other in the forums, that would be great, even though I don't really do this. But i know that many memories and friends have been made here. I hope that we can still continue to enjoy playing SSX on other parts of the internet but knowing that Merq is always there to welcome us home :china :china :china


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 10:00 am  Post subject: Re: The Future of Merqury City  
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XBL: gondeeSSX
PSN: gondeeSSX
I appreciate everyone's opinion on this, even those who feel they don't post here enough to have a say (there's a reason I asked you and it's because I value your opinion as a longtime member of this site.)

So here's where we stand at the moment.

Where we are now
The general consensus seems to be that it's not worth it to spend the significant amount of money on upgrading all the forum mods due to how inactive the forum is. That was my initial decision too, and it's nice to see that no one is going to be too put out by losing those features.

In the last few months I was working with a modder to see what upgrading the scoreboard, index page, rankings, and other mods would cost. It was a large amount but not so much I wouldn't consider doing it. The modder was a consummate professional and worked through the significant issues that comes with upgrading an old forum to the newest version. I appreciated him doing that.

I told him on April 1 that I wouldn't be pursuing upgrading the mods at this time, due mostly to the inactivity on the forum not making it worth it. Instead I asked to keep the work he had done thus far and if we get to the point of needing it in the future (in the event say, of a new SSX game that reignites forum activity) I will be glad to pay whatever the new quote is if I have the funds at that time.

While I appreciate the calls for me to set up a gofundme, I've always paid for these sorts of upgrades myself. It's the opposite side of the coin when it comes to making decisions about Merqury City - I have complete control over the site, but when it comes to upgrades, it's my responsibility. :)

Moving forward
So with that decision made, I will be upgrading the forum portion of the site only to the newest version of phpbb3.2 some time this summer.

The index page will need to be adapted (I will probably work with the modder on that upgrade if I can't do it myself.) This is exciting in a way - the new forum will have modern features like a responsive design and a much better mod installation feature. This means that it might be significantly easier to upgrade the forum moving forward - no more "feature frozen" forums because of custom mods. We will also have current defenses against things like spam bots and can integrate with other platforms more easily.

And the scoreboard, rankings mod, and master runs will all be converted to static web pages and will no longer be updated. I am sad to see them go, but the more I observe the competitive scene over at twitch, the more I realize that it has moved away from static sites where one person makes critical decisions to a more community based speedrun-esque format. Every time I watch the community on Twitch I'm excited by the fervor there and at the same time am honest enough to realize that there is no real way to police that scene to stay in line with rules to guarantee fair play with people who set their records on consoles. Given the near-impossibility of making sure people using emulators are not changing the game to gain unfair advantage (and foolishly expecting them to maintain some outdated sense of honor with record holders they've never heard of), I think this was likely a long time in coming. It is about time I get with the times and start working with the competitors over at Twitch and covering their scene more than I have been, rather than trying to hold them to a long-past standard they have no experience with. It will be a lot easier to cover their stuff without having to worry about whether or not they are complying by scoreboard rules. And have you ever seen their runs? They are super dedicated and very exciting to watch. Seeing them set new records is amazing and really brings back great memories of the heydays of the mods on console.

I would be happy to bring back any of the features in the future if the community gets active enough to do that.

This topic isn't dead - feel free to weigh in on any of the things I've said above. If something needs to be changed with my decision, weigh in and I will take it into account. :D

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