Friday, August 16, 2013

Beta Preview

I just finished trying out the beta preview. I'm going to explain my experience and compare it to the alpha.

In the alpha releases, there was this entire world called Gamebridge. It was like the Hogwarts equivalent to coding, as the Ada Lovelace AI explained. There were different buildings and rooms that you individually chose to visit. For instance, there was a place to go learn Javascript and another area for Unityscript.

Instead, the beta preview throws you into a new Unity tutorial that teaches you to use the editor controls to move and resize game objects, using them to make it from one side of the room to the other with each lesson. An achievement is unlocked with each successful crossing. It's reminiscent to the old Unityscript platform level of the alphas. At the end, you use all the combined skills to reach three gold stars in different locations.

After that, you are brought into a redone version of the Javascript tutorial. It's much the same, although it tosses off the random show-off cube blast and trades sitting in one room for the entire thing for breaking it up into separate rooms for each lesson. Also unlike the alpha, at least if I recall correctly, it instead encourages you to execute code in the editing screen as opposed to exiting and shooting at the wall-mounted console window.

When you complete that, you are tossed back to where you began, to start over. So that's basically it.

I am left wondering what happened to the entire Gamebridge campus? Perhaps it will still exist and this preview is just that, a showing of a couple areas that are polished off enough for Mr. Peake to be confident enough to share them.

There's still some bugs and I feel the transitioning between topics (especially for the Javascript tutorials) needs some work, but it does feel like an improvement. Ada also didn't any immersion-breaking phrases that seemed out of character for her, like her use of "owned" so easily in the alpha.

There's no telling how much of the alpha will be kept or tossed, with none of it completely intact for this beta preview. Without any further details on what's happening from Mr. Peake, we don't really know how much of the game there really is and what will come. Let's hope he gives an update soon, one with some real details.

Update: Recently added to the Primer Labs' site:
It has been a while since our last update and some were concerned when our site went down but we're back online with a beta preview release to show you some of the levels in the upcoming Code Hero Beta. We've been working hard on getting the game ready, and we need to work just as hard on communicating better with our backers. We're now resuming weekly updates. You'll hear from us regularly about the progress of the beta and we want to hear from you about what you think of the new game levels.
And there's an update on it on Kickstarter.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

August 9th ~ August 15th

So from this batch of comments, it seems Kickstarter has been contacted by Mr. Decker but has not responded. Majugi also gives his own update on the happenings with the poker sites. And then, a new Joystiq article on the whole thing!

First, it seems at least is no longer the poker site. Only redirects to there, the rest seem to still be that CheckandRaisePoker page. According to the article, Mr. Peake couldn't afford the hosting.

Why didn't Mr. Peake just use a free host temporarily, rather than let the site go blank and fall into his whole poker mess? Surely he, or one of his many programmers, are knowledgeable enough to have done that? The domains were under Godaddy, not the host (Linode), so he should have had easy access to them.

Up on the page that's under construction, there's links to download a "beta preview." What is that? I'll find some time to try it and find out.

There is also part of the article dedicated to how Mr. Peake has run his company. Besides bounced checks, it's been terribly unorganized.
Lopez described the working conditions at Primer Labs as unprofessional. Peake didn't have a game design document – an essential aspect of development – and would change mechanics or the art style without warning, after the team had already drawn up concepts for another approach, he said. The team was never the problem.
It's impossible to get a game or any computer program done if one keeps moving the goal posts and throwing out chunks of it to be replaced with something different. Seriously, this sounds reminiscent of the setup of a death march project.

To quote Wikipedia:
Death marches of the destined-to-fail type usually are a result of unrealistic or overly optimistic expectations in scheduling, feature scope, or both, and often include lack of appropriate documentation or relevant training and outside expertise that would be needed to do the task successfully.
Granted, I don't know how hard he is actually pushing the programmers to be truthfully considered a death march, but it sounds like the project has at least some of the big components of one. As I said before, disorganization and constant changes make for a project that is really difficult to finish, with time and efforts wasted.

I suggest that Mr. Peake read Software Engineering: The Current Practice by Václav Rajlich for how to properly run his project, should it continue. Dr. Rajlich had run his own death march project in the '70s but learned from it, so perhaps that would be a bit inspiring.

Once again, in this article Mr. Peake complains about the negativity of the comments getting him down and that's why he's so silent. I don't think saying it a second time made it any better of a reason, truthfully.

Also, the biggest thing here: Mr. Peake once again spoke with a news site rather than directly speak with the backers. No new updates are on Kickstarter, nor are there any comments from him either.

Admitting your problem is the first step, but it's not the final one. This game will never speak for Mr. Peake, as much as he wants his work to, with the way things seem to be going. At this point, any positives will be outweighed by the negative actions he has taken. He will be labeled for his failure in this project (as well as past ones, as they are brought to light), especially if he does nothing to improve the situation. There's always a chance, though.

Everyone falls. It's how you handle the fall that matters.

Friday, August 9, 2013

July 24th ~ August 7th

As we left off last time with the comments on Kickstarter, there was growing talk with taking legal action. The more recent comments return to this subject matter, citing the successful lawsuit by Neil Singh against a Kickstarter that failed to deliver. In the least, there is a case with Mr. Peake failing to deliver on pledge rewards, which is a requirement by Kickstarter. There are also other issues as well, such as Mr. Peake referring to his original build as a beta instead of the prototype or alpha it actually was. Also, Primer Labs doesn't seem to be a registered company with any sort of liability protection, at least Mr. Peake's anyway.

The recommended course of action though seems to be, for those who can, to file your own personal civil suit.

Moving on from that, an interesting comment was posted by njt that I thought was worth slipping in:
I'm sensing a pattern. See below ↓

From his biography on his now down site:
He created an online empire simulation game called Mage Princes using play-by-email turn files to bypass FirstClass BBS systems' lack of game support. Hundreds of players signed up to pay for the sequel which he planned to include more sophisticated military, economic and tradecraft RPG elements to allow players to cooperatively build nations.

When a BBS shutdown and a hard drive crash destroyed his 7th grade business, he dreamed bigger and decided to finish school to focus on developing the game.
Had an idea(rpg) - built a part of it - took money - something happened -- new idea(corsets) -- built a part of it - took money - something happened -- new idea(code hero) -- built a part of it.... etc etc
In each case something happens and he moves onto something "bigger and better".

Alex, it's not hard to get a site up. It's not hard to show progress. It is hard to admit defeat and face up to your failure. You will see criminal prosecution if you continue to... dare I say it, play games.

No more postponing, you've done that far too many times already. Either show concrete evidence of you actually doing things or finally come clean.

Also, don't tell us that these comments are the reason for you not being able to go on - or it wasn't good enough. I was there when you were releasing new alphas in irc. There was nothing but hope in those channels. I'm sure if you look for negativity you can find it, but there was hope too. The reason you're getting so much heat is because you fall into a pattern that has already been seen time and time again. Do something different this time - be it actually succeed or to face it like a man. Anything other than what you've shown us so far. Show us you can change, man.
For the last topic I want to touch on, remember how in the last post I did on the comments, I pointed out how Mr. Peake has several domains pointing all to the same site? Well, it seems that since at least July 31st, they've all been pointing to a webpage for the site CheckandRaisePoker.

From what I have gathered, the .com, .net, .info, .biz, and .us versions of it were all purchased by Douglas Bale of Las Vegas on July 4th of this year. Although his domain information is private on most of his domains, it is not on the .us one, where such privacy is not allowed.

From a Google search on the domain, I found that Mr. Bale also owns the .eu name (and may be preferring that as the main one). This matches what Majugi on Kickstarter found. Also, there is a bit of a description from a now gone post on Craig's List that gave some information on what it's supposed to be: a poker site that uses the internet currency Bit Coin.

Trying out each of the domain versions, I found the placeholder-like page for all of Mr. Peake's domains is also held currently by the .info, .biz, .us, and .eu versions of the CheckandRaisePoker domain name. The .info, .biz, and .us all change to the .eu name when entered. The page itself is of the IP, which is hosted at JacksHost (a possible subsidiary of SoftLayer?) as opposed to Linode, where Mr. Peake had hosted his domains. These pages link to port 8087 of the IP, which is what the .com is and where a seemingly functioning online poker beta is located. I haven't tried it myself though, but a screenshot is below.

I would like to also point out that Mr. Peake had more than just,, and pointing to the same website. It seems he also owned,, and and did the same with them. They don't seem to have expired though, still being under his ownership.

It's not clear what's going on, especially with Mr. Peake remaining silent on the issue despite recent logins on Kickstarter. Were his domains hijacked? Is Mr. Peake working with Mr. Bale on this new Bit Coin poker? Was Mr. Peake moving from Linode to JacksHost and this happened on accident? We'll just have to wait and see what's said when Mr. Peake eventually does talk.

With the site down since apparently June 30th and over a month of silence from Mr. Peake, things don't seem to be looking good at all for Code Hero. Could Mr. Peake have finally given up?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Tactical Corsets

Prior to Code Hero, in 2009, Alex Peake started a business to sell what he called "Tactical Corsets," a combination of tactical vests and corsets. According to Mr. Peake, it was for him "[t]o learn about business and marketing" and "to try to create a fundraiser to help pay for Code Hero." It was also apparently made because he imagined his ideal woman wearing one, but they did not exist and making it would bring such women to him. Ranging from $300 to $500 (USD), the clothing line would ultimately end in failure, with few actually getting the product they paid for. Mr. Peake claimed difficulty in making the corsets, as well as issues with the staff he hired to make them.

At some point, he ended the entire thing and, according to him, issued refunds. However, this end was not made clear in either the Twitter or Facebook accounts or even the website. The closest I found was in one response to a buyer on Facebook (posts by others) after a buyer complained in Fall 2011 about her June 2010 purchase (and had been doing so for months prior):
I recieved this after I made this post... "Hi Beckie,
I'm sorry it took so long to get you a refund, I have not been working on Tactical Corsets since I closed the store a while ago and I didn't realize yours had not been made already. I will Paypal you a refund by Friday.
(It didn't come by Friday, by the way.)

It seems the first and final post really about Tactical Corsets on the Facebook group was made in February 2010, which coincides with the last updates on the website and on the Twitter account, being April and August (sort of) of the same year respectively.

Although Amanda Coolong (perhaps one of the seamstresses?) seemed to have tried to make an announcement of sorts regarding items being out of stock in May 2011, there was still no clear message when the whole thing was over.

The stories I've read, from those like Beckie Timohovich, Tanya Regan, and , seem to show that Mr. Peake was terrible with communication. When he did respond after long periods of silence, he made promises he didn't keep (like giving refunds or the product by such-and-such date) and also would give multiple excuses. Sound familiar?

It also seems that, despite Mr. Peake saying items were out of stock and eventually calling it quits on the project, he did not disable the purchasing area of the website until the site would ultimately go down some time before September 2012 (see here). Fortunately, the late buyers seemed to have been able to get a refund through Paypal. It's not totally clear if those who waited beyond Paypal's time limit were able to receive full refunds though.

When Mr. Peake began the Code Hero project in 2011, he began posting on it. Throughout the Kickstarter's running time, he made several posts on the Facebook account and a couple on Twitter with information on the new thing. On both, he posted with a claim to return to Tactical Corsets once Code Hero was launched, seemingly in trying to persuade people to help with the new idea if they still were interested in the corsets.

Thinking on it, maybe that was really the closest Mr. Peake went to announcing it was officially over? By saying he'll start it up again later?

I've done my best to sum up what I have found and provide links for others to see things for themselves. I hope this is helpful with dealing with the current Code Hero situation and other projects that may come from Mr. Peake in the future, even for Mr. Peake himself.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

July 9th ~ July 21st

Let me talk about the happenings and news in the Kickstarter comments over the past dozen days, sort of summing it up and throwing in my own two cents. (Although, truthfully, there were no comments today.)

It's been 21 days since the Primer Labs' website was noticed to be down. It's been 17 days since Alex Peake stated he was sorting out the issues with the webhost. The domain, or multiple domains (,,, were purchased on GoDaddy and the website itself is hosted on Linode's servers.

Now, I've done some webhosting myself with a provider, though not with Linode or for CHCB. Still, it should not take this long to fix it. If it does, why would you still stick with such a company? What kind of customer service is that? (Ironic, no?) With the domains on GoDaddy, Mr. Peake or a comrade could easily redirect the domains to a different host without much trouble, even to a thrown-together free site.

Posting updates and links in the update area on Kickstarter, maybe even redirecting the domains to that page as well, seems like the easiest thing to do. Why is that area collecting dust, anyway?

Because of this, the links to download the alpha--which the backers all have a right to do--are not normally reachable. Fortunately, Peter S used the Wayback Machine to find us some links for everyone to use, although likely just in Guest Mode. Click here. Unnormally reached, so yay!

There's still some wondering on how this project is going to fare. Since those 17 days ago, Mr. Peake has also fallen silent and is ignoring his backers once again. He even logged into Kickstarter (at least) 8 days ago without a peep. Word has it that Mr. Peake has already moved on to another project, one involving alternate reality gaming glasses.

One thing that has some agreement amongst the backers for sure, and that's how Double Fine has done a far better job with their own Kickstarter game running out of funding before finishing. They've kept their backers up to date. They also shipped out the awards.and have apparently been transparent about their funding.

From the way the comments are turning, legal action is a desired path, even if Mr. Peake miraculously meets his latest promise. Or will Mr. Peake do an about face and suddenly change everyone's minds, updating left and right while throwing up a spreadsheet of where all the money went and have something organized for getting the rewards out? Unfortunately, the sudden change in character seems unlikely at this point, though I hope to be proven wrong.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Things to Do

Hey everyone, it's just over a week since my last post and I thought I'd give an update.

I've been busy, but I am working on gathering info on some past projects by Alex Peake. I am currently looking into the Tactical Corsets, what seems to be the most recent one to Code Hero. I am specifically looking into how communication was handled, although hitting on the entire thing in general.

I am looking at the Facebook and Twitter accounts dedicated to Tactical Corsets, as well as the website (saved by the good ol' Wayback Machine) and some other things I've found through some Google digging. I will provide links to everything I used when I finish.

I am still trying to sort out exactly how I want to use this site. Following along with the latest Code Hero news is a given. Do I want to bring in interesting comments from the Kickstarter page regularly? Do I really want to provide information on Mr. Peake's past works when I just want him to finally finish this current one?

So, in short, I am looking into Tactical Corsets and still not sure what I want to put up here. It's not much, but I figure as someone saying Mr. Peake should be trying to provide updates regularly, I should at least try to do it myself.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

July 7th

Once again, Jonathan Jou calmly gives some advice:
I've said this before, and I'll say it again, in hopes that you'll actually listen. The backers who have been voicing their concerns are the same backers who won't be appeased by more promises. I would like answers, and I have reason to believe answers will be the first step in salvaging your relationship with your backers.
As backers, you've given us far too many reasons to be worried about your odds of succeeding and too few reasons to hope that you've made any progress at all. We still don't know what your final product will be, how you plan to finish it, or when you will even know that the end is in sight. We're not happy with how things look, and your handling of the situation only gives us more cause for concern.
To be clear, I'm trying to figure out the best possible outcome for you at this point, and I'm hesitant to put faith in your fundraising prospects or the new deadline you've promised (instead of any sort of actual product).
As of now, here are the problems I see:
1. You owe physical rewards to 1,217 of your backers, a great deal of your time, or the time of your team to 76 of them, and a plane ticket (to events whose dates have come and gone) to someone who gave you more than enough to afford them.
2. You have never given us any sort of financial, technical, or even factual breakdown of what's happened between now and last February. It looks like a lot hasn't gone as planned, and your backers don't know what went wrong, much less how you're going to fix it.
3. None of us have any idea where you're going with this, and the most alarming part is that we can't say for sure that you do, either. Everyone can and should pursue their dreams, but from what you've been willing to tell us, it really seems like your project wasn't ready for Kickstarter, which means you've taken a lot of money and don't have enough to show for it.
In all honesty, I don't see how you can solve any of these problems. Instead of answers, we're left with a mess of missed deadlines, volunteer staff, incomplete software, and unsettling lack of information to assure us that things are going to change for the better. I want to believe that things have changed for the better, and stop worrying that they've changed for the worse. That starts with telling us the truth.
So again, I urge you. Please stop working on Code Hero. Just you.
Tell us what's wrong. Don't let your biggest supporters become your worst enemies. Answers will do you far more good than any more promises. I'm willing to forgive being overly ambitious, but at some point broken promises start looking like fraud, and backer discontent will trigger legal recourse. It seems unavoidable that you're going to be explaining yourself before a judge, but I'd hate for an unfortunate situation to turn into unbridled hostility.
We're frustrated because we gave you our hard-earned money to help you succeed, and now we're not sure giving you our money was the right decision for either party. I doubt anyone here would choose vengeance over compromise, but you're not giving us anything to work with. Give us something to work with—help us help you.
I don't think there's really much for me to add. Listen to your backers, Mr. Peake. They're saying what they want.