My good friend of a few years, who for privacy's sake will be referred to as Jim, and I are resurrecting a game server that went bust and the owner quit, leaving us as managers the option to piece things together. Jim is the 'owner' of the server but I am writing all the code which I am not paid for and hosting the server itself.

We are having some disagreements about things from the name to gameplay decisions. Neither of us are relying on this as primary income but in investing my time in writing the code and providing hosting for free, I am hoping we will be successful and get some donations.

Myself and other people I have asked agree with me that Jim's solutions would be detrimental to the server.

I've already made it clear that I could have done this on my own as Jim is not doing much productive work as it stands aside form disagreeing with me. How can I tell him that he needs to start listening to me without threatening to shut it down as obviously I want to succeed but do not want to let down my friend?

Thanks in advance and let me know if any more information is required.

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    What other input is Jim providing, beyond saying "here's this old IBM server I had in my shed"? They don't seem to be providing very much tbh; a few hundred dollars of server is a drop in the ocean of your hundred of hours (it will be, when you're done) of coding, and you paying for months of hosting. How amenable are the pair of you to setting up eg a uservoice and turning decisions such as Name X or Detrimental Feature Y over to the fans to decide yay or nay? You two are undertaking this project not for yourselves, but for the fans, so their opinions count more – Caius Jard Aug 9 '20 at 5:03
  • This is a good idea and we did a poll for changing the name. The results were slightly in favour of changing it but that was overruled by Jim. – James Conway Aug 9 '20 at 11:09

I have a friend I made playing online games. We started projects together to code our own games. These projects brought us nothing but strong arguments and overall bad quality time together. None of these projects were successful, and over the time I understood the reasons why.

None of us had authority over gameplay elements. We didn't know what was a good or bad game, and were only driving things by our own taste, and we had very different tastes.

We were not aiming at the same degree of success either. He was much more ambitious than I was. I wanted to code a game mostly for myself to enjoy. He wanted to earn money off of it.

Last, we had personal matters to solve making our collaboration difficult.

While it seems easy to predict failure retrospectively, in the heat of action it's very easy to overestimate your own capacity to overcome obstacles. In the end, I kept the friend but made it clear he couldn't count on me to help him develop games. We worked past that.

How does that can help you with Jim? Well, I have some advice inspired by my failure.

You are both on a project that you do out of passion, you have different goals for the game and no clear responsibilities for several areas of decisions such as gameplay. Jim, by interfering, might just be willing to help, or more likely is trying to contribute to the project at all.

Question yourself here, would Jim want to have an important role in that project, would you trust him, would you value that he gets it even if it may make the project fail, or if you would prefer he stays away even if that means denying him something that could be important to him?

If you can't trust Jim in a real role I'd try to negotiate taking things over by yourself. It would be a bit hypocritic and unproductive to leave someone in a project with no real leverage to act. This risks Jim being quite disapointed obviously but a relief in the long term.

If you decide to keep up together, I'd try to make sure Jim and you align on the goal of the game. If any of you two would favor making a game you individually like over making a game that is successful, you have a problem, because you won't agree on the rationale behind the decisions taken.

Would that step be clear, I'd divide the roles by proficiency like you would do in a company. Maybe Jim can take other responsibilities than the one you have, that would make the project succesful and that would allow him to be part of the crew. You should have your roles, and be able to discuss things solely on the agreed purpose, as to reduce overall friction. And in any crew, a captain there should be, clearing decisions that can't be taken otherwise.

  • Thanks for the advice. How would you go about negotiating taking charge without being rude or causing disappointment? Or at the very least make it clear I would like more weight in decisions. – James Conway Aug 9 '20 at 18:52
  • @JamesConway Have you a role for Jim in the project ? Approach can be different based on that. If want to be alone, I'd point out you have different goals for the server and you would like to try your own way. You could fork I suppose, have a distinct name. If you have a role for him then it's different,you should more say it's about making roles clear cut, and that because of your heavier investment, you'd like to be in charge. – Arthur Hv Aug 9 '20 at 19:00
  • Yeah that makes sense, I would fork on my own but that would require me using my hosting resources which would be unfair on him. I think I’ll give the roles a think though as that could be useful for some negotiations. – James Conway Aug 9 '20 at 19:43
  • 2
    You still haven't said what Jim's contribution actually is – Caius Jard Aug 10 '20 at 8:58

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