I have been a long-time member of this community. For some of you, this does not mean much. For some of you who believe that due to voicing my opinion in a direct manner I was/am a jerk, this means even less. For a lot of you, however, it probably means an echo of better times, when this forum was once a friendly community. Support was given when it was necessary, members, if mistaken, were educated, rather than punished, and the community really thrived. There was a noticeable distance between gamers and developers, but for the most part, there was always mutual respect on both the developers' and the gamers' side. Myself, as a game developer and a gamer at heart was lucky enough to know both sides, and the atmosphere was fantastic. It was worth contributing to the community, knowing that whatever may be, it will make someone smile at the end of the day.
As it stands today, the quality of the community is strongly declining. This is partly due to immaturity, which the current moderators are dealing with admirably, all things considered. Unfortunately, though, the moderators are also contributing to this decline, which is simply unacceptable.
In the name of copyright and stopping piracy, the community is becoming massively content-restricted. Before we go any further, let me assure you that I am by no means supporting piracy. As a developer, writer and composer, nothing is worse than having your work pirated, even if it is eventually unavoidable. There are certain cases, however, when following legal restrictions is not as straight-forward as it seems. This is especially true for a community that does not have borders, us being international.
I will not talk about the recent AudioVault issues, as I believe our main goal as a community is to be an outlet for audio games and there are other means of sharing non-game-related content, if desired.
Applying the same rules to audio games, however, not only discourages game development, but it also makes this already tiny community heavily fragmented.
I can claim without hesitation that 90% of the existing audio games in the database will not pass this rule, older games from reputable developers included. Without pointing fingers, games from Phil Vlasak, David Greenwood, Jim Kitchen, Munawar Bijani, to an extent even Thomas Ward and Liam Erven, would all have issues when it comes to using unauthorized sounds. Mason and Sam are the ones coming to mind from the newer generation.
I won't go into details, but suffice to say that very, and I really mean very, few audio game developers use custom-designed sound effects. This means that by nature, you do not have ownership of the sound effects you purchased, you solely purchase usage rights. This also means that it is, unless the sounds have been layered together, very difficult to claim that a sound effect has been stolen from a certain game. Aprone's Swamp, for example, uses a lot of stock sounds from certain sound libraries, so I could easily claim that @Kai used those sounds from a mainstream game, and it would be likely believable. I know for a fact that he didn't, but my example is still valid. The same goes for Lighttech Interactive and the SFX Kit, which has been all over the place these past years. Was it stolen from our games? Certainly not. Crazy Party, even Pokemon Crystal Access uses sounds, or disassembled code that is questionable.
I don't understand why there is a need to restrict content, clone source code included by default. Should anyone have an issue, the moderators could (and should) remove the offending content in a heartbeat. At the moment, I strongly believe that this does not add to the value of the community, especially because instead of educating, members are punished (with exceptions, of course). As moderators, who have less access limitations, do you feel that this will lead to a thriving community, rather than restricting freedom and making people second-guess their intentions?
This community, being the first and foremost medium when it comes to audio gaming, is not only an example, but also grounds for future generations of audio game developers. Does anyone feel that this is cultivated at the moment? I surely don't, and this is not how it should be. Just as an example, I remember when Dog and Cat from VIP Games Zone was posted ages ago. Rather than dubbing it as a very simple and boring game, there was a tremendous amount of encouragement and hope that better games would follow. And they did. Nowadays, rather than encouragement, the first remark for an inexperienced developer would be: Oh, is this another clone, or: Why didn't you provide a description?
Moderators, I am still not seeing unity, and there is very little hope left if this is not changing ASAP. Members of the moderator team are overwriting each other's decisions, and other than for Jade, there is not a lot going on when it comes to innovations. As a result, there is huge pressure from the general members, which of course always comes down on whoever's the leading figure.
On that note, we all make mistakes, and while you think about blaming Jade, please also think about the fact that this is an entirely voluntary position. I might not fully agree with the set rules, as this post clearly shows, but I believe in this community and I believe that willingness to listen to reasonable concerns was never a question.
Richard and Sendermen are still supporting this community by paying for the domain and the server, let's not waste their more than a decade long efforts!