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The Deadliest Kvetch

Miss Manners and the case of "Payware, Freeware or No-ware"

Rating: 6 votes, 5.00 average.
Let the kvetching begin!

We've all read the threads arguing the merits of payware over freeware, or freeware over payware, but how do you prevent either from becoming "no-ware"?
It's tempting to believe that the end user has no control, that a creator will just endlessly continue to produce the wares of their choice. I disagree. When a creator produces payware our first inclination is to chalk up the motivation to profit. I've witnessed creators that have moved from creating freeware to payware and I have to wonder if that is the motivation at all. I rather believe that the creator transitions when they are able because they feel the need to attach some worth to what they are spending their time creating.

Let's look at some simple figures, taken from today's forum. 487735 members, of that 4,269 active members (whatever that means), I always assumed that meant members that use the forums, but I could be wrong. It may mean members that use the DLS, or Planet Auran, or that download through CM. Using the "Citizens Online" function at Planet Auran you can find a breakdown similar to this:

That seems to tell me that the forum statistics may not just refer to those visiting the Trainz forum. None the less, it's fairly easy to figure that of all "Members" of the Trainz forum, the percentage of "Active Members" is less than 1%, if you take the numbers at face value. I wonder what the percentage of creators would be? Rather small, I would imagine, leading me to believe that of all the members of Trainz Forums there are damn few actually making content of any kind.

I can further make the case that the downloads of items from the DLS tell an even more enlightening story. I check the download numbers of my content frequently, to try to gauge what is popular and what is not so that I can concentrate on reskinning buildings that users seem to want and offer them to the community, versus making what I want out of selfishness. I have asked for feedback several times, but the information has come back to me in several ways:

First, the amount of feedback is very small, almost non existent.
Second, it's obvious that some of those responding have no idea what I even do as far as content, they are just lunging at the prospect of someone making their dream item for Trainz.
Third, you may get some worthy feedback, but the percentage of it is far too small a sample to base further work on.
Fourth, the number of those downloading items is anywhere from 10 to 1000 times greater than those that actually bother to comment on the item in the forums.

I haven't counted, but it's safe to say that in my general release thread, there may be about a dozen members who come by time to time to offer encouragement, useful feedback, or just acknowledge my efforts at all. If you take that dozen and compare it to the 4,269 "Active Members" you see that works out to a very small number of "Active Members" who have actually taken the time to respond at all!

Miss Manners would say that if someone gives you something for free, you should at least say "Thank you very much!" Those who now make payware may have never made the transition at all if only they were properly appreciated when they made freeware. Those who make freeware now should be thanked, encouraged and provided with useful feedback NOW. Some may simply discontinue spending their time on what seems to be an UN-appreciated, futile endeavor, and those that have modeling skills may just begin to offer payware instead in an effort to receive some compensation for their time and effort.

It's disheartening to observe the mass consumption of items, be they routes or scenery or simple reskins with such a small return in the way of a simple kindness. If I were a farmer and regularly gave away a portion, no, ALL of my crops for free, I would expect the simple courtesy of a "thank you, I really appreciate what you do". Don't get me wrong, I've seen a few of those as well, but I'm sure you don't want to see the percentage!

Lest you readers are tempted to to label me a "whiner", or that I am speaking only for myself, I can assure you that I see it happening to many on the forums. Such a small percentage of content creators to begin with, and an even smaller percentage of consumers who bother to post to their threads! There's a few members that do so frequently, and regularly, and you know who you are. I won't embarrass anyone by putting their names in print. I have been around the forums long enough to recognize trends, and this one has been in place for a very long time.

Is it so hard to type a simple "good job, thank you?"? I even visit threads of creators that I don't personally care for, and can often find something encouraging to say. I may not like the content, or have a use for it myself, or want to pay money for it, but I do recognize that some one else will.

Miss Manners would recommend encouraging creators of all kinds, lest we end up "No Ware".

Be safe Trainzers, this concludes our broadcast day!

Comments

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  1. SantaFebuff's Avatar
    What a great article. Many viewpoints I agree with! We should encourage freeware creators.

    Cheers,
    Joshua
  2. Euphod's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by SantaFebuff
    What a great article. Many viewpoints I agree with! We should encourage freeware creators.

    Cheers,
    Joshua

    Thanks Joshua! After reading some of the threads on the forums today concerning payware creators and SPORBust, I find myself amazed at my own timing! Every once and awhile I will search for threads that have no responses, and I find some poor souls that have announced a new release of something, scenery, routes, sessions...whatever and see that no one has responded after a couple days. That's crushing to a creator to have something unacknowledged after that period of time. I always try to say something, even if I dislike the content or have no use for it.

    I know I'm fighting a losing battle, but sometimes I like "tilting at windmills"!

    Thanks for visiting, for reading, and for commenting. I really do appreciate it.
  3. Retro00064's Avatar
    Nice post Ed. I never received any replies when I announced my ground texture set back in December, but I suppose it's not too surprising since they are just ground textures and not some nice locomotive or rolling stock item. The TS2009 versions on the DLS of the original set have been downloaded 145 to over 200 times so far, and the UTC versions on TPR have received some 5-star ratings, so hopefully some people have found them useful.

    Regards,

    Zachary.
  4. PerRock's Avatar
    Nice post Ed. We should also be thanking our payware creators as well. As it is in TRS we are quite lucky to have most payware priced so low. Being a graphic designer by trade, if I were to price one of my Superliner reskins sets going off the entry-level hourly rate of a actual graphic designer, I would charge around US$60, and thats assuming it's an already existing car in real life (aka I'm making a replica). If it were a fully fictional railroad I was making, I could see pricing it easily at US$100 for the set (that's 6 cars).

    That's just for textures. You include model building in there & your prices keep going up. Factor in web sites, time providing support (or employees to do that), etc. A brand new single engine could cost you a sizeable chunk of change.

    peter

    PS: I should mention that my rates listed there would be for a one-off set (like a commission). If you build to sell multipul many of the same item, your rates per item can drop.
    Updated February 9th, 2012 at 01:27 AM by PerRock
  5. Euphod's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by PerRock
    Nice post Ed. We should also be thanking our payware creators as well. As it is in TRS we are quite lucky to have most payware priced so low. Being a graphic designer by trade, if I were to price one of my Superliner reskins sets going off the entry-level hourly rate of a actual graphic designer, I would charge around US$60, and thats assuming it's an already existing car in real life (aka I'm making a replica). If it were a fully fictional railroad I was making, I could see pricing it easily at US$100 for the set (that's 6 cars).

    That's just for textures. You include model building in there & your prices keep going up. Factor in web sites, time providing support (or employees to do that), etc. A brand new single engine could cost you a sizeable chunk of change.

    peter

    PS: I should mention that my rates listed there would be for a one-off set (like a commission). If you build to sell multipul many of the same item, your rates per item can drop.
    I agree that the payware makers should be thanked as well, I may not have been clear in my post, but I did say "Miss Manners would recommend encouraging creators of all kinds, lest we end up "No Ware"." I know from experience that I've spent well over 8 hours on one building reskin sometimes, locomotives and railcars can be even more demanding.
  6. chrisaw's Avatar
    I must admit to being attracted to making locos as payware. Not for any financial reward, but because of the atitude of some of the posters on the forum over the past year.
    Why would anyone in their right mind want to put months of work onto the DLS for downloaders who can't accept a freeby as a take it or leave it option?

    Chris.
  7. Euphod's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by chrisaw
    I must admit to being attracted to making locos as payware. Not for any financial reward, but because of the atitude of some of the posters on the forum over the past year.
    Why would anyone in their right mind want to put months of work onto the DLS for downloaders who can't accept a freeby as a take it or leave it option?

    Chris.
    People often attach "worth" to an item based on it's cost. If it's free, it must not be "worth" anything! I guess that's the main point of this blog post, to illustrate that freeware items still have value, and those that accept them should have the courtesy to realize that.

    I have often thought that locomotives and (to a lesser extent) rolling stock were the only viable types of payware, due to the routes requiring easily downloaded content. Texturing those items is demanding enough, building them even more so, it's no surprise that anyone undertaking such a chore feels they deserve to be compensated for the same.

    Thanks for visiting, and commenting!
  8. leeferr's Avatar
    Ed
    I'm new to this blogging thing, but it seems to have some interesting use. I'll have to try to figure it all out.

    In the meantime, I find your comment very insightful. As you are well aware, I made the transition from freeware to payware and it was an enlightening experience to say the least. My motivation was totally unrelated to making any profits from my work, but rather as a response to N3V's decision to prohibit uploading of TRS2004 content to the DLS. I felt that there were way too many users of TRS2004 to just toss them aside. So, I decided to start a site offering TRS2004 content that would work without errors in the newer versions. It worked for awhile, but sales just couldn't maintain the cost of providing the site. I still believe that there's a need for legacy version content that also works in the newer versions and I plan to give it one more go in the near future.

    Some out there believe that we payware creators do it just to 'get rich' and we'll never be able to enlighten them to the truth. There's probably only one payware site out there making a decent profit, so I tend to believe that the reason that payware exists at all is for a reason other than money. I think that you have hit on one of the reasons, unappreciated creators. My content is only average, but I don't think it unreasonable to hope for a little feedback on content placed on the DLS. Afterall, someone has spent their time creating and providing that creation for free. I can take constructive critisism, as I like to think most creators can, and I would like to see more comments on freeware announcement threads also. Constructive critisism tends to motivate the creator to learn and do better.

    I also tend to think that there's another reason, albeit small, that some creators have ceased to submit to the DLS, and that's the complainers and gimme pigs. Sometimes, no matter what is created, there's those out there that want to critique a model as if it's some brass locomotive that they just paid several hundred dollars on and they feel that it should be 'rivet' perfect. As complicated as steam locomotives are, I like to build them as generic as possible so that they can serve as a good representation of the class. Most users out there wouldn't know the difference between a J-1 or J-3 Hudson and don't really care when all they're interested in is having another steam loco to run. Some of the differences and variations are so small that very few are going to notice, but it always seems that those are ones that comment. (eg. 'That's all wrong, the J-1 never had that -----, but the J-3 did'). If a different model was made for every possible variation of a locomotive, then the price would probably be way out of the reach of most folks. After all, sales are a supply vs. demand issue and hopefully a reasonable profit margin.

    As for the gimme pigs, I tend to ignore most as they're just not cognizant as to what goes into making a piece of content, especially something as complicated as a steam locomotive. They're usually some kid that doesn't have a clue. I'll give most of them a break and give them some time to grow up.

    See you around friend


    Leeferr
    Mike
  9. Euphod's Avatar
    What a great post Mike! You have introduced even more understanding into the discussion. I can tell you that I did think about your particular situation when I wrote the post, but would rather not second guess a creator's personal reasons. You have fleshed it out well for us, and stand as a perfect example of what can happen to someone who tried to provide content to strangers...for free.

    Thanks for stopping by, and thanks very much for the insight you've provided!
  10. leeferr's Avatar
    Thanks Ed. Not trying to repeat myself, but I believe that there's a wide range of reasons for payware and you have provided a valuable and insightful start to the discussion. In addition to my payware, I do plan on providing some content to the DLS in the future, but seeing as it's impossible to please the masses, I'll tend to please myself with what I upload for free and hope that it will be of use to someone else.

    I'll be interested in seeing the thoughts of others as I follow this discussion. Who knows, maybe I'll be enlightened a little further.

    Mike
  11. H222's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Retro00064
    Nice post Ed. I never received any replies when I announced my ground texture set back in December, but I suppose it's not too surprising since they are just ground textures and not some nice locomotive or rolling stock item. The TS2009 versions on the DLS of the original set have been downloaded 145 to over 200 times so far, and the UTC versions on TPR have received some 5-star ratings, so hopefully some people have found them useful.

    Regards,

    Zachary.
    Thanks Zach, I actually use these a fair bit

    Jamie
  12. Retro00064's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by H222
    Thanks Zach, I actually use these a fair bit

    Jamie
    Thanks Jamie. Glad you like them.
  13. boat's Avatar
    Interesting thread, (blog - whatever)....

    As someone who has produced freeware for some years and only very recently decided to dip my toe into payware, I can echo the sentiments.

    Whatever someone's reason for making payware, if its with the hope of making a fortune you will probably be disappointed. I have to say that my reasons were partially financial but it was more with the aim of reducing costs than making an actual profit.

    As the economic crunch continues for all of us I find it harder to justify the amount I spend on hobbies, including the cost of the upkeep of my website. OK, its not a fortune, about 15 per month from memory but since its main function is/has been to store the Tutorials for ATLS etc, its an expense that I could do without. The aim of my one item of payware, (so far?) was to go somewhere to paying for that. After my first month of 'selling', by the time paypal and payloadz have taken their cut.... well let's just say its highly unlikely the tax-man will ever have any interest in me! After some initial interest, the net winner will still be my domain supplier!

    I would like to thank all those who have purchased from me, and the few people who have pressed the 'donate' button before it, but there does seem to be a contingent of forum posters who think of paware people as evil money-barons, counting our riches at their expense.

    Maybe some are making a fortune but I think a lot, like me are just trying to balance the books. Just think about what you're getting for your 1.89 (or whatever). Being payware I'm sure I took a lot more care and a lot more time over what I made than I might have done for freeware. Pay a small amount and you might actually get something better!



    Boat, (Mike)
  14. Euphod's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by boat
    As someone who has produced freeware for some years and only very recently decided to dip my toe into payware, I can echo the sentiments.
    Another good example boat, and thank you for commenting!
    You made me realize that aside from the creation of such complicated assets, there is also the time taken by the creator to support those assets. I constantly notice you answering questions and making changes (and requests) to your content.
  15. amigacooke's Avatar
    If your motivation for creating content is an expectation of gratitude, then it seems that you will always be disappointed. The 'happiest' creators seem to be those who make the content they want and are generous to enough to share it with the community.

    Perhaps a 'Thanks to creators' sticky thread in the community section might be a partial amelioration?
  16. boat's Avatar
    Perhaps I should just add that when I said I "echo'd the sentiments" I was referring to those relating to payware profits. As far as gratitude is concerned, I actually think I've received a fair share.... and thank you for those who have commented about ATLS on the forums.

    I agree with Amigacooke's comments above and all the previous items I've produced have been just that. My new ASB venture is the only one I've done because I presumed a need other than mine. I still enjoyed making and developing it and in no way would it ever be a commercially sensible venture with the hours I've put in.

    I'm just pointing out that paywar producing people aren't all bad. Just don't think worse of us for wanting something for it!

    Boat
  17. amigacooke's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by boat
    Just don't think worse of us for wanting something for it!

    Boat
    Absolutely not.

    There has been a step change in attitude which I think is quite dangerous. Rights and entitlements have become a stock in trade, responsibilities and requirements are forgotten.

    Specifically, I do not think I have a right to any content for free. Content should be payed for and it is the extraordinary good fortune of the Trainz community that so much has been provided for free, by the good will of the creators.

    In short, more gratitude, less attitude.

  18. Euphod's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by amigacooke
    Perhaps a 'Thanks to creators' sticky thread in the community section might be a partial amelioration?
    Why don't you just post a generic thread stating "All content creators consider yourself thanked.."? Anything to avoid responding to creators and taking personal responsibilty for your gratitude.
    I really don't expect you to agree with anything I post, so carry on my friend. Thanks for reading the post and for commenting.
  19. amigacooke's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Euphod
    Why don't you just post a generic thread stating "All content creators consider yourself thanked.."?
    Because that's the complete opposite of what I was suggesting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Euphod
    I really don't expect you to agree with anything I post, so carry on my friend.
    Puzzled by this. Do you only expect agreement with what you post?

    Anyway at the risk of being disagreeable, since silence implies consent and since I have not replied to the vast majority of your posts it seems reasonable to construe that I agree with the vast majority of your posts.

    Updated February 13th, 2012 at 03:48 AM by amigacooke
  20. Euphod's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by amigacooke
    Because that's the complete opposite of what I was suggesting.

    Puzzled by this. Do you only expect agreement with what you post?

    Anyway at the risk of being disagreeable, since silence implies consent and since I have not replied to the vast majority of your posts it seems reasonable to construe that I agree with the vast majority of your posts.

    I base my expectations on your responses to some that have been made in the forums, and I admit that I expect a negative response from you more often than not. I'm sorry if that offends you, but as a very fallible human, I've learned (rightly or wrongly) to base my expectations on experiences from the past. You certainly are entitled to your opinions, none the less, so I promise to try to keep my personal prejustices out of it. I apologize for my knee jerk reactions, I've always been prone to that!

    I guess, in retrospect, I should have just kept the post concise; something like: "please remember to thank creators", but I tend to be verbose and have a "probably incorrect" vision of myself as being someone who is able to entertain others.

    I'll have to remember the "silence idiom", I never really thought that it implied consent or agreement, just apathy.

    I suppose this blog writing thing is going to be an excercise in personal development for me!

    Again, apologies for the comment, and thanks for reading and commenting!
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