Justin's Life...

~ April 2000 ~
~ April 3rd ~

April 3, 2000 - Monday

I'm sick and tired of online business transactions gone awry. As you may remember, I had to fire a programmer for my business venture and lost nearly a year in the process. He strung me on forever, and I ended up with a bunch of code that another programmer had to pick through. It cost more than a new car to clean up the mess.

And then, for this site, over a year ago, I began work on an "Interactive Date" choose-your-own-adventure type Flash-based game. I posted an ad looking for Flash-based artists and selected Eric from the respondents.

At the beginning of February, the main character in this interactive story, Brick, looked like this:

By the end of the week, we'd also worked past:

to end up with

Number 4. That was the one. Give him a dose of red hair and Presto! Brick was Born!

Less than two weeks from when we started, we'd gotten the setting:

And we'd gotten "You" in the story, played by Coal:

Number 3. Brick and Coal would be playing together in this game. I was EXCITED!

And then came the drafts of the project. Brick and Coal barely resembled the still drawings I'd chosen. But it was good. It was moving along. I was happy.

<img src=details/bricksorryflashrequired.gif width=550 height=400 border=0>
Before long, less than 2 months after we'd started, the beginnings of a final product were born.

And then Eric disappeared. Yep, $500 (the deposit) gone, not even a source file. He just disappeared. I didn't get jack I could use. I e-mailed, I e-mailed again. I even sent a return-receipt registered letter, but it was never picked up. The bastard just took my money and left me high and dry. ARGH!!

So, this is April when the beginnings of a project were the last thing I received from Eric. June is when I sent the registered letter, and September is when I'd given up all hope and decided to try again.

This time, Tom submitted several sketches from my description of Brick and I chose:

Yet, weary from the way things went down with Eric, I needed to see some progress before sending payment. Tom, too, had seemed to have been burnt and required a contract before starting any real work on the project. Before long, I agreed to $2800 for the project and sent $840 after receiving a background and a very impressive rendition of Brick.

It looked amazing!!!

Then, on October 1st, I sent this e-mail:


I know you said "two weeks non-contiguous" when I asked if you had any sort of ETA, but we've got the pay rate out of the way, so I was wondering if you had any sort of idea when those two non-contiguous weeks would be completed. Are we talking one month or four months or something in between?


He wrote back the next day to say:

Hi Justin;

Rest assured, definately less than a month. The pre-lim stuff is always the hardest for me. Once the characters and layouts are finalized, the projects always pick up steam very quickly. I apologize if the process seems to be going slow. I have to rack my brains to give you the best project I can.

I have set up the structure for the scenes in Flash already. This weekend, I will be working on Coal some more. Once Coal is finalized, I will be animating the jogging, which will be the most intensive of the animation. Every other scene should consist of a basic library of frames and elements. The assembly of those elements should go quickly.

In short, I would anticipate getting done by the end of next week or the beginning of the week after.

On February 7th, four months after that "definately less than a month" letter was sent, I received the last of the Flash files. It hadn't really changed much since the update a month before, but I was hoping above hope that Tom hadn't just disappeared.

At the end February, I wrote to ask, "I haven't heard anything from ya for about a month. What's new in your neck of the woods?" I got a response saying that he was working on a substantial update and would send me something "soon."

When an entire month had passed and nothing had come, last Friday, on March 31st, I wrote:


I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask that you refund my money. When I asked you on October 1st, 1999 when the project would be completed, you said, "Rest assured, definately less than a month." and that you "would anticipate getting done by the end of next week or the beginning of the week after."

October came and went. November came and went. December came and went. January came and went. February came and went. And now March has come and gone. That's six months and still the project isn't completed and I have nothing I can use on my web site.

Even earlier this month, when I inquired, "I haven't heard anything from ya for about a month." you wrote back to say that you'd "be providing a pretty substantial update soon." but that didn't happen either.


Before the end of the day, he'd written back:

You're right and I'm sorry. I will refund your money, but I still want to provide you with the project. In fact, on my next update I was going to offer to finish the project for free.

Please allow me to explain the delay, however. During Christmas (I was already late) when I didn't hear back about some of the changes, I went ahead and took on other work. That work has continued at an increasing pace and shows no sign of slowing. So when I heard back from you, I had to sub out your project to a friend. He's working diligently on it, but needless to say the project is much, much bigger than I anticipated, mostly because I've put in so much art.

If you will indulge me, I can give back your money and keep the work done up to this point (please remind me what the initial payment was) or I can finish the rest of the project at no charge and send it to you when I get done.

Either way, I'm sorry about the endless delay. It really is an epic project the way I have it set up. I guess I was trying to compensate for it taking so long, and now it's taking longer.

So please let me know the amount you want back or give me the go ahead to finish the project with for no additional pay.

Thank you.

As much as I'd very much like to have the project on the site, today I wrote and asked him for a refund. I've been down this path too many times before and once you hit this point-of-no-return, there's no point prolonging it.

So... this was a really long way of saying that I'm painfully tired of business-to-business based transactions where people give up and leave you with nothing. Perhaps it's too much of a temptation to think that you can work for yourself with no one watching the clock or assuring that you're there working. Perhaps it's just too easy to get caught up with other things, but damn it, I will NEVER do another online based deal that does not have a penalty clause for missed deadlines.

I would say that I just can't believe that it's a year later and the project didn't get completed and that it'll likely never get completed, but I can believe it. It's happened too many different ways before. And I think it really had potential... but I can't invest any more of myself into it. I can't let my hopes get up and get smashed back down for this site feature. I just can't.

Click here for the next set of entries.

© 2000 Justin Clouse
Justin's Life...Justin's