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Ask HN: What do I do with my growing online game (developer went AWOL)
9 points by byjess 1686 days ago | hide | past | web | 11 comments | favorite
Hey folks,

So I have an online Risk-based web strategy game I designed, run, and built with a developer. It's still in beta, has 5K active users, and gets about 100 new users per day. Problem is, the developer is awol, and has been for some time. Leaving some lingering bugs and issues.

My question is, how can I attract a new a new developer? I've used up all my capital and can only provide equity. The site does pay for it self with paying users.

If I can't attract another developer... should I just shut it down? It would be a shame to pull the plug on a great community, but I can't keep a site up that has lingering bugs that angers users.

Please help!, Thanks!

As other say... you might be a jerk. But it is impossible to tell from here.

Putting that aside, it seems that you are in That point. You may consider going to the next level: get some capital, take more risk and pay a good developer. More capital is not necessary finding a VC or that stuff. Think about your friends, your relatives. But, if you go there, you will need to think seriously on your business model and your goals. You will have duties.

Or you should consider your possible exits: are there people interested in buying your project or financing it? Would it be less painful to shut it down fast or to let it die? Could you open it to the community, as others suggest?

But before all that, I think that you should be sure that you absolutely could not find another developer. I mean... why this post in HN and not a "Growing online game seeking for a developer" one?

Hope it helps,


You can A) Open source it. B) Shut it down. C) Try to find someone still blue-eyed enough to accept only equity for a lot of work. D) Earn money yourself elsewhere and pay a developer to work for you.

I imagine this post is an attempt for C, but if you want to keep it alive, you really ought to do D. It is not nice luring young people into free work, when the chances of turning a decent profit is as small as it is, with these kinds of games.

I just have a comparable question: What do I do with my new betseller novel, the writer went AWOL.

False analogy, unless you think the current developer is the only person capable of writing code.

Would open sourcing it be a viable option? People could modify the rules and maps and such.

Are you looking for a full time developer or part time?

part time for sure. No one is full time at MajCom. We have lots of volunteers.

Platform, language(s), location etc?

Game server is a Linux Daemon written in PHP

Database is relational innodb MySql (via an abstraction layer)

Game client is Flex4/Flash/Javascript

Game client communicates with the game server via low-level TCP/IP Realtime API (possibly html5 web sockets will work also)

Additional game clients can be written in any language on any platform, they just need to communicate with the API

its at MajorCommand.com

You should ask yourself why the developer went AWOL (and no, I am not the developer) (all of these questions are for you, and probably not suitable for discussion here)

Was it you? Are you overbearing? controlling? Did you incessantly email, call, or text them? Did you insult them, perhaps even without knowing it? Did you give them an endless list of requirements? Did you give them a list of bugs without fail cases to reproduce? (Many developers will not debug something without steps to reproduce the issue).

Was the pay sub-par for the work being done? Was there an equity promise that wasn't fulfilled? Was there something on YOUR part that you didn't do that you said you would?

Many developers are introverts and will NOT get in someone's face about things that should have been done. They will just walk away. If you get a good developer, it's going to fall on you, the BOSS, to make sure you follow through on your promises and keep them happy.


Thanks for the response!

He had personal and financial issues. The pay was cash + profit share. When the cash was fulfilled he had to make ends meet because the profit share was negligible. He was a good developer and a good guy and I don't blame him for going AWOL.

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