The Needed Cut



October 19th, 2022 by Diana Coman

More than a year after the sudden death that left so many things up in the air, it's time to make a straight cut to let all these things go and take stock otherwise of what is rather than what it might or could have been. So I'll cut through the tangles as straight and direct as I can see it and as deep as it has to be, to get for my own needs to some clarity at the very least.

As far as I know, both Minigame and MPeX were fully owned and entirely controlled by Mircea Popescu alone. I am not aware even after all this time of any provision made for any sort of action to be taken in the event of the owner's death and so the straightest possible conclusion is that there is no change with respect to ownership. There is simply a drastic and irreversible change to the action capability of the owner bringing it down abruptly from 100% to 0% and that's about the end of it. The owner remains the same but he simply isn't active anymore and therefore isn't able to answer queries about it, to take action over it or to make any changes to any of it, for better or for worse. As a result, Minigame and MPeX with all their assets are left basically frozen, neither closed down nor even bankrupt but simply owned by an absent man.

Of course, one can steal things even from a dead person and in this scenario, Minigame as well as MPeX might still change ownership at some later time for all I know. As far as I'm concerned though, I'd much rather make my own thing whatever that might be rather than steal someone else's and whether they are alive or dead doesn't make any difference to this choice of mine. I don't think there is such a thing as "default inheritance" - if the owner didn't set up any sort of inheritance provision while they were alive, then there is only theft left possible as means to transfer ownership to someone else.

I suppose the above is about as close as it gets to the exact opposite of that old saying that "you can't take any of it with you when you die" - actually, you can take with you precisely and exactly what you fully and solely owned *and* animated. It turns out that what you can or can't take is simply a reflection of the strength and extent of your ownership and authorship of it, not some sort of absolute at all. In other words, when one dies, one takes out of the living, ever-changing world everything that stops changing with their death and it doesn't even matter whether they wanted or not any of it to stop too when their own life did. By contrast, what can't be taken is anything and everything that still has either a life of its own or at least another owner who is still alive. Neither Minigame nor MPeX got to have either.

Worth noting perhaps that despite the more usual single-sided view that tends to focus solely on the survivors' perspective, this cuts in fact two-ways. Yes, it means indeed that nobody inherits that for which no explicit inheritance provision has been made. It also means though that nothing will live on beyond the owner's life if that same owner, while alive, didn't make successfully any provision for its survival after their passing. Intentions on either side don't come into any of this at all and it really is only actions that decide it and nothing else.

Such frozen ownership as Minigame and MPeX are currently under has, of course, quite terrible consequences for anyone involved with them and still alive since there is no closure of any sort and otherwise in financial terms, all money invested in any of it is as good as lost, all shares, warrants and any other claims are basically rendered worthless. Since I had invested so much in Minigame via both Eulora1 and MPeX, I also lost a significant amount. As far as money alone is concerned, it's indeed the case that I've never lost before anywhere near so much even if I scramble to add up on the other side of the scales all the money I ever lost previously to any sort of circumstance at all. It's just a whole order of magnitude above everything else added together and there is no way around it or out of it - the only way to move any further is through it. Onwards, then.

It can be very tempting and it's certainly very easy indeed to pass the responsibility for this loss onto the absent man seeing how he can't do anything anymore about it. Even so, I choose to retain instead in full the responsibility for my own loss because with the responsibility thus retained, there is also my own agency and my own integrity retained and I can therefore move on unencumbered even through and beyond such situation as this. Possibly moving on even wiser and at the very least more experienced, quite unforgettably so.

Beyond retaining agency and with it responsibility as they are inseparable, what makes it possible to go onwards through this sort of terrible outcome is precisely the even higher amount of non-financial investment that I have been making each and every day over these past years. Because it's indeed money that is easiest to lose, being as it is an external token after all and furthermore, being invested itself into something external that wasn't under my control. If all that I had invested was my money though, the financial loss would be the same but it would also be the full extent of the story, turning the entire situation itself into pure loss and nothing else, just a bleak negative with no redeeming point of light at all. But this is not the case here and the only reason that there is anything of value left at all for me is simply that I had invested quite a whole lot more than only my money: my effort, my work and my commitment over years and through it all, as difficult and even as exhausting as it got at times.

Of everything invested, the money is the only part that's gone. By contrast, the effort, the work and the commitment are not and cannot ever be gone, paying their own sort of dividends in the form of accumulated and verifiable achievements, experience, knowledge, expertise and even concrete tools and whole environments that I made and over which I have indeed full authorship and ownership, as well. As a result, I can take any and all of it from here perhaps not necessarily towards the exact destination I had imagined when starting or even at any other time until now but certainly anywhere I want to move them further, if and when I choose to do so.

What comes next therefore is quite an open path or even set of paths, since the paths available will be exactly those that I make and then choose to travel on. Although this is not at all and by any stretch of the imagination a place where I ever aimed to be, this is nevertheless where I am. What is gone is gone but I still have everything I made myself and everything I learnt through all the relentless work these past years, through all the experiences of all sorts and through the very close collaboration that touched on a lot of things indeed, from direct and long term experience with complex systems development to philosophy applied to game design and quite a whole lot more besides. In concrete terms, I also have the fully working infrastructure that I built for Eulora2, the full knowledge and even written record of everything that went into it, as well as the supporting tools that I designed and built for the exact sort of collaboration that I care for, possibly including code development for sure but positively enabling much more than that.

More important and on top of the above, I also have the relationships I built during this time with people who I value and with whom I share now this experience, as well. With such deep roots and on such a solid basis as all this, all my options are therefore quite open moving on from here and the choice is fully mine, too, regarding which way to go and how fast or slow to move, at any time.

Even loss is, in the longer term, what one makes of it.

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7 Responses to “The Needed Cut”

  1. lobbes says:

    I'll be honest, I always had assumed that MP would have all sorts of provisional inheritance set up for MPEX, Minigame, et al.

    It does pain me to hear that you are left with such a monetary loss in terms of investment, especially after the work you put into breathing life into the project. Though, on the other hand, all investments are not guaranteed. That's the risk I suppose.

    In any case, I'll be following along with your development with Eulora2. I've been spending the last two years (among other life changes) learning Unity and C# with hopes to sling my own vidya games on the marketplace (I'm gonna try the whole Steam thing). Probably still 2 years out from releasing my first attempt, but it has been a fun adventure. Who knows, maybe some years down the line we can combine forces once more (I've learned my lesson on over-promising, tho lol. I have too many mountains in the horizon to offer much Eulora2 help now, even though I am curious).

    P.S. In my ~two-year hiatus, I let a bunch of my "tools rust", including letting my krankendenken.com domain expire. My blog is still alive, however, at my original domain: http://www.lobbesblog.com/

  2. Diana Coman says:

    Thanks, it is what it is and nothing else, unforgettable in any case.

    If you are looking into Steam and similars, do you have/can get perhaps some experience with... interfacing with it, I suppose? I fully intend to keep open the model to allow and even encourage client distributors and maintainers/developers and I don't care in the least *where* they distribute it, the more places the better from my point of view. From what you say, this pops out at me as the most likely meeting point down the line but at any rate, if you are interested, stick around and speak up whenever you see something of interest, I am certainly open to anything helpful.

  3. hanbot says:

    >> Intentions on either side don't come into any of this at all and it really is only actions that decide it and nothing else.

    The very first and most enduring thing that drew me to MP was his flawless adherence of intention to action. That the hoped-for result didn't always arrive never sullied his timely, thought out application of the rule; and in this I have at the very least the knowledge that indeed, the man did not intend to transfer ownership or pass it on in any event. It's a comfort even as it burns, which I gotta admit smacks of his style.

    As for the fallout, "if you're clever enough, you'll figure it out" was a common Cheshire reassurance. Your reflection and mapping look very much to be going in the sane, useful, and certainly very clever direction.

    @lobbes: Good to see something of you. Good luck.

  4. Diana Coman says:

    @hanbot Thank you. I am quite sure as well that he didn't intend to transfer/pass ownership in the sense of "giving it", indeed, I think he expressed this much in various forms and at different times even though I can't seem to find now a clear reference for it. At the same time, I also know that he certainly wanted and intended that things he made outlast him and this is what I meant by that paragraph noting that "this cuts two-ways". The reality however is that neither mpex nor eulora1 can outlast him and whether it's with intention or just two of those cases of "the hoped-for result not arriving" doesn't really make a difference for the outcome.

    Ultimately the only chance of something having a longer lifetime than one's own rests though with those *others* who get and remain most involved with it but the weirdest (and I doubt the really intended) part is that it's also those hit the hardest and even in direct relation to that involvement and steadfastness, no matter how one looks at it. Arguably that's how it always is and there isn't much that can be truly done about it.

  5. lobbes says:

    @Diana Coman

    I will absolutely share any tactics/strategies I can glean from interacting with the Steam beast with you. As it stands right now, I've nothing worth selling and so all my focus has been on getting my little prototype off the ground, so I have no direct experience with Steam yet.

    From what I gather so far, though, the Steam algorithm for promoting new games is as about as obscure as you'd expect, but I've learned that if a game does not get N amount of downloads/reviews within a certain amount of time from its launch, then it is buried into the back pages of the store. So, it seems like a good amount of pre-promotion can be valuable. Apparently the website "Twitch" does things called "bounties" where you can pay streamers money to play your game on their stream, potentially exposing it to thousands of eyeballs. All this, of course, is within the realm of promotion only, and speaks nothing of the act of simply having a game able to be bought *at all* on Steam, which I also hear has some hurdles and hoops to maneuver.

    Regardless of the outcome of my above experiment, I intend to chronicle the results on my blog. And I would definitely be interested in being a client distributor for Eulora2 down the line if, at the time, I do indeed find myself a bit wiser in the game distribution realm.

    @hanbot

    You as well! Glad to see you are still enjoying the fruits of this world and keeping your blog alive and well-oiled. To parrot one of the last things MP said to me: "Noi sa fim sanatosi"

  6. Jacob Welsh says:

    the weirdest (and I doubt the really intended) part is that it's also those hit the hardest and even in direct relation to that involvement and steadfastness, no matter how one looks at it. Arguably that's how it always is and there isn't much that can be truly done about it.

    This sounds correct, and a simple if cruel result of "the more you have, the more you have to lose", assets are liabilities.

    @lobbes: krankendenken.com never expired from my hosts file!! Though the bookmark did get moved to a subfolder of infrequently checked blogs; what can I say, even in the digital some bits of space are costlier than others. Good luck with those mountains; they can get steep, but at least they come with a view.

  7. Diana Coman says:

    @Jacob Welsh That's possibly even a reasonable lens to see it through, although the only conflict that I can see would be then straight between life and death, no less, and with a scorched earth sort of outcome, too. The benefit, such as it is, being that whatever and whoever still stands after such a situation is at least entirely and provably sure to do so on their own two feet and without owing anything further to anyone, there is that.

    To fix the "popular wisdom" yet again, what doesn't kill you has at least spent itself quite fully in the attempt and thus it can't possibly do or make anything worth the mention anymore.

    @lobbes I'm quite sure that there is a whole set of places similar to Steam (iirc out of the older/more established ones, gog also had something galaxy-or-so) and if you are spending the time to look at one, I would say that the only way that can at least stand a chance to pay off is by looking at least at all of them, since the differences will be more of appearance than of substance, out of necessity. For what it's worth, I wouldn't spend my time trying to jump through all their hoops but rather cutting through them. This might be though, of course, possibly entirely relevant just to myself. That sort of "pre-promotion" and automated "decision" sounds to me just like the sort of usual chumpatron model: if you are already selling well on your own, then come and rub some of that on us as well and we'll give you bells and whistles. Then again, nothing wrong at all with learning how successful chumpatrons are run, certainly.

    At any rate, from my point of view any distributors can do whatever works for them at any time, quite literally. Within reason, I'll even help them with what they ask for, if I can.

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