Raph Koster <email@example.com> Apr 2 (11 days ago)
to jscott This is the story I couldn’t tell you while I was still working with the people involved. The key ones have also left Disney at this point. As you’ll see below, I suspect that keeping it quiet is still the right thing to do.
When Metaplace.com shut down, the other thing that happened was that I stepped down as CEO and no longer ran the company. So the decisions to shut down, and the pace that we did so at, were no longer mine. This was not particularly public, and the reasons why aren’t something relevant to this, so I won’t bother going into it all.
I pushed very hard to get the export ability and what time we had and the limited download tools. I was also obligated to continue as the public face, of course. It was one of the most painful periods of my life, and I really mean that. I felt miserable that we weren’t able to provide more, but the new leadership was resistant to investing any more time whatsoever in the past when it was urgent that we move on with the future. That included working on better export tools.
Metaplace the company went on to do social games, as you may know, and was then acquired. In fact, the move to social games meant that all that content became almost immediately incompatible. That said, I suspect that there may be some sympathetic ears at the Metaplace studio at Disney, and I am happy to give introductions. They do still have the drive that we think it’s on.
The thing that will certainly be off limits is any server code. We were never free to open source or release that stuff because we were both venture-backed and an active acquisition target. In other words, the IP wasn’t mine to release; it belonged to every investor. It was in fact, the primary asset that went into the sale. So it would have been illegal for me to release it.
I didn’t tell you this story before because you said you couldn’t keep it confidential. Now I am no longer in quite the same awkward political situation, but I hope you understand why I was reluctant to just air internal dirty laundry. Previously, it felt like I had no choice but to just take the blame. Frankly, airing it would have simply made it even more unlikely that the archive would ever be released. Suffice to say, I am sympathetic to your aims.
So, I am happy to help to try to make it still happen. Just be aware that a) it might not be salvageable; b) the actual owners of the physical drive are Disney and it means working through all that; and c) airing all the above publicly is still probably likely to make it harder to accomplish your archival goal. I just felt like I owed you an answer that I had been holding back on giving for nearly three years.
If you want independent verification of some of the above from someone you trust, btw, Ian Bogost knows the whole story.