Community Dying

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posted by Kevin Ouellet on Omnimaga

Hello to all our calculator fans. As some of you might know, I have been programming for calculators for over 4 years now and even though I haven't been an active member of the TI community (on forums, IRC and comment pages) I was here, browsing TI related websites and project pages and I've seen a lot happening since then. What follow is not related to RPGs in particular but the whole TI community in general, and I think this is something important, something very very important that everyone should care about, altough some of you probably noticed so far.

When I joined the TI community back in fall 2001, 3 months after getting my TI-83+, I stumbled across many french and english TI websites that weren't updated anymore (last news dated back in summer 2001), and as I browsed the web, I kept running into those websites. Later I found some that were still updated, then a few weeks later the webmaster were announcing that they were no longer part of the TI community and were stopping updating their homepage. Only a few active website I regulary visited remained. Then I found Badja TI Programs, Void Productions, and I visited Badja regulary only to find out that they were fading away as well, and most website links they had were broken or were dead websites and programming groups. Until summer 2002 I saw many other programming groups fading away, website shutting down, to finally see Void Productions main projects (Zelda: Illusion of the Past and RPG Alpha) dissapear in the void, left with no more news, and Badja TI Program dissapear from existence with server crash. Destination Software (a.k.a Midknight Soft) dissapeared as well, Tcpa as well and most of those never came back. If you go though the list of featured programs at you will notice that only one program got featured between August 2001 and March 2002. There was even some joke back then about pending queue being extremly low. Basically I joined the TI community at the time it was falling apart and I saw all this happen.

You are probably going to ask me "why I am posting this on Omnimaga front page?" but I think that stuff is happening once again right now. If you went through that featured page at recently you probably have noticed that the amount of featured TI-83/+ programs so far is inexplicably low. Only 5 programs, 2 of which are mines, not to mention that there aren't many programs for other platform compared to the past years. I (and probably some other old members of the TI community who are still here) never seen that happen since early 2002 and I think this is a shame how inactive the TI community went through this year, especially the z80 calculator scene.

I have been a very active member of MaxCoderz forums from summer 2003 to summer 2005 (as well as many other calculator related forums ) and I remember on the old MaxCoderz forums (before they got hacked in november 2004) there was always new projects popping up and progressing nicely (including Metroid, Corbin, etc.). In 2005, however, something I never seen happen before, happened. Lot of new people joined the TI community, they had lot of projects. However they all started to slowly fade away and those who stayed were moving to other interests, not to mention that at that time some old TI community members were also fading away from calc programming. I have seen this happen, even after I left MaxCoderz, and I still see this happen right now. Some projects are left with no news, and others becomes non calculator projects (like Shattered Oasis, which was a 83+ project that is now a Pocket PC project, and The Sword of Darkness, which was a 89 project that is now a PSP project). I think this is very sad to see that many people losing interest in calc programming. Because of that I even lost motivation myself and stopped calculator programming for 4 months (as you can see my last finished project before that Dance Dance Revolution clone was released 8 months ago). Some programming groups are starting to become inactive again, like Epic Programming Studio and Macross Software. Some are now gone. If it continue at this rate the TI community will fade away itself and in a few years students coming at, Omnimaga or other remaining calculator websites will only find games that were made several years ago, nothing new anymore. Basically the TI community will become like a museum where old stuff is stored in memory of other people.

I don't know what we should do about this but I think giving more support to programmers, avoid flaming and destructive criticism and instead give constructive comments to help others improve their work might help a lot. If someone doesn't get any feedback on his project he will think no one is interested in seeing his game come out and he will eventually stop working on it, and in some case, like I saw happen before he will leave the scene. I don't think anyone want the TI community to die we need to do something about this.

xlibman - November 11, 2006 07:16 PM (GMT)
I am starting to get afraid this is repeating again this year, right at the time things should have become active again. I am wondering if it's just Omnimaga or the community as a whole? I am getting pretty worried atm with all the staff leaving. With Alex retirement today, this makes the 5th staff to retire by himself from Omnimaga this fall, without counting the non staff members who seems to have dissapeared. While the members and staff that are still active still posts often, I have never seen such thing happen before, at least not in such small amount of time. As Cemetech, HRP and TI-Freakware doesn't seems much active anymore and having people who left as well I am worried that if no one else take over the community and start coding when the past generation of coders will all leave who will remain? This is why I am worried atm. As UTI still seems to be very active atm, noticing the amount of "today active topics", I am even more worried, because i am afraid omnimaga is falling apart and that people aren't willing to help anymore. The fact 3 people retired the same day worry me even more, I fear the people may have got together to plan a mass leaving and I fear it may be because of things I did. THis may be 5 staff only out of maybe 20-25, or 2 members out of 50, but this is also great members and staff who left, people who contributed a lot to the community. Plus, if there is always people leaving like this, at one point there will be no one remaining, or the few remaining people will slowly give up because nobody post in their topics anymore, and they will leave too. There is also the fact we may never see those people again in the future, which is hard when you started caring about them.

Anyway I just hope there is no other staff plannign to leave, and that the inactive ones will stick here when they are less busy and hopefully become slighyl more active again sometimes.