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On Running Feuds
1,500 Words About the Future of Defunct Games
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on September 28, 2013   |   Episode 192 (Show Archive)  

   
Dear fellow Defunct Gamers,
On April 1st, 2013, Defunct Games quietly turned 12. I published no birthday article and barely mentioned the occasion on Twitter. In fact, the only article that ran that month was an April Fool's joke called Cyril Reads Pac-Man. This draught lasted for three full months. It wasn't until July that Defunct Games burst back to life with new reviews, articles and videos.

I bring this up because I can see the very same thing happening all over again. It's the end of September and I've really only posted three articles and a handful of reviews. If I don't do something soon I can envision another three month hiatus taking over Defunct Games.

There are a few reasons why this keeps happening. Instead of keeping you in the dark, I wanted to spend a few minutes detailing what is going on with the site and where I would eventually like to take it. I apologize if you came here expecting cheat codes for Grand Theft Auto V, but I have a few things I would like to get off my chest.

As many of you know, Defunct Games is run almost entirely by me, Cyril Lachel. Over the years I have had plenty of help from many talented writers, including Chad Reinhardt, Adrian Hall, Thomas Charnock, Lee Miller, Ferry Groenendijk, Tom Lenting and many more. And, for a very brief moment, Defunct Games was even home to Alison Rapp, who later moved on to Game Informer and Nintendo of America.

But even with these impressive writers, the truth is that most of the reviews, articles, videos and podcasts are created by me. This is, after all, my pet project and a working portfolio of my writing. Some of this is just the nature of the beast. That is, a lot of the past writers ran out of games to review or got paid writing jobs. Other people got married and moved on with their lives. In one truly unfortunate case, one of the best (and most prolific) writers ended up getting run off by rabid CD-i fanboys.

With the exception of this review from Tom Lenting (and a couple more coming very soon), it's just me holding down the fort. Everybody else has left and it's entirely up to me to post articles, write reviews and keep everything in order. And, as it turns out, it's no easy job doing everything by myself.

For the site's twelfth anniversary, I decided to start focusing on the types of features I hadn't worked on before. I hoped it excite the part of me that was completely burned out by working so hard to keep Defunct Games afloat. My solution was to make a series of videos, something I had wanted to do for some time.

When all is said and done, these videos were a lot of fun to make. They weren't huge hits (many were barely noticed by fans of Defunct Games and people on YouTube), but I learned a lot about video editing and had a good time making them. This detour allowed me to create Ninja Gaiden: The Mini Series (coming soon), an epic retelling of one of my favorite 8-bit games. I am incredibly happy with a lot of the videos that have been made.

Another reason I chose to focus on creating videos is because it's one of the few things about the site I have full control over. As strange as it sounds, I am something of a prisoner when it comes to Defunct Games. My web design skills can only get me so far, and clearly it isn't far enough to fix the site and turn it into something capable of existing in the 21st century.

The truth is, I did not develop the site you are currently using. I wrote most of the articles and generated all of the assets, but the actual coding was done by somebody else. The site was top of the line when it was first created, close to a decade ago. Unfortunately, today's internet user is different and the site does not meet their needs. Today's web surfer is part of a social network and sifts through articles on their smart phones, two things that weren't around when the site was first developed. As a result, the site loses out on a lot of traffic.

Even if you can get past the out-of-date look and lack of social networking functionality, you're still left with a site that is busted in a few very significant ways. There are entire pages that will freeze certain browsers. I hate to think of all the people who ran into this kind of bug and, as a result, chose to never come back to Defunct Games. The fact that this bug has persisted for years is, quite frankly, unacceptable on every level.

I get a lot of people about these problems, often from well-meaning fans who want the site to improve. Believe me, I have read your complaints and I agree with them. From the review section to the difficult to use navigation menu, there are a lot of things about Defunct Games I would like to change. It's at the point now where I only see what is broken about the site.

Unfortunately, the problems extend past the buggy technical problems. You may have noticed that I put this article in the On Running Feuds archive. This doesn't make a lot of sense, as the only feud happening is Me vs. The Site. The reason for this is because I don't have anywhere else to post it. Defunct Games doesn't have a blog or even a place for personal updates. I either post this as a regular article or I don't post it at all.

In the past I have been able to get past these problems by focusing on the few things I can control, such as reviews and articles. After the three month hiatus I took earlier in the year, I came back with a bunch of new videos and features. It was an incredibly fruitful time, as I had a second wind and was ready to give the site another shot. Here we are three months later and I feel like I'm back where I started.

As of right now, I honestly don't know how to go forward. I still have a lot of great ideas for original shows and stories, but I'm not sure I can keep tossing them into an abyss that may be doing more harm than good. The site needs a redesign from top to bottom, yet there's really nothing I can do about that now or in the foreseeable future. I would like to do something about it, but I feel like my hands are tied and I'm at the whim of others.

Not all of the shows require a brand new redesign. The sad fact is that I have a lot of fun video ideas that simply require other people. Unfortunately, everybody I know is either not interested or already have their own sites, videos and podcasts to worry about. Like so many ideas, I write them down and keep them for a time when there's one or two other people interested in helping with the site. That day may never come, but at least I am ready if it does.

Perhaps I am to blame for some (if not all) of this. There's a good chance that I'm not easy to work with and have a hard time expressing exact what I want from people. The fact that 99% of the articles and reviews are by one person may intimidate somebody, making it seem uninviting to people not named Cyril Lachel. Maybe there are people that want to help but don't know how. It could be that all the above is true. Whether it's me or everybody else, something has to give if Defunct Games is to make it to the next level.

The good news is that I'm remarkably handy with limited resources. A lot of the ideas I've had come from overcoming obstacles standing in my way. I may never be able to fix the site or get it to the point where people actually want to visit it, but I guarantee you that I will still come up with intriguing shows that can be done using this horribly outdated look. I'm (probably) not going anywhere.

Do you want to continue seeing content on Defunct Games? Then please reach out to me and let me know. Follow me on Twitter or shoot me an email. Do you want to talk about videos games? Do you want to help with the site? Are you good at promoting content? Do you think outside of the box and have good ideas? Are you a web developer that would like to put their stamp on a 12 year old site? Then please let me know.

I'm at a crossroads here. I need to make some choices and decide where I want Defunct Games to be in a year or two. I honestly don't know what will happen next, but I wanted to make sure and be honest with you about my rut. I want to keep this thing going, but I can't go another year by myself. Something has to give.

Thank you for reading.
Cyril Lachel

UPDATE: I have received so many wonderful emails and tweets in the two weeks since posting this open letter. Many people asked me what they could do to help, so I decided to create a Help Wanted page. We have several positions open, each very important to the future of Defunct Games. Thanks again for your support and don't forget to check out the Help Wanted link.
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