The Arcade’s Statement in Response to Ashur Constantine

To Whom It May Concern:

We at The Arcade have never publicly responded to any of the negative noise that’s surrounded our event in the past. Shortly after we first opened in 2012, the three owners made a pact to do the exact opposite, trying to tune out the toxic energy and take the high road. It is our hope that in breaking our silence, you understand how serious we’re taking this matter and the false allegations against us.

In July of 2016, we commissioned Ashur Constantine to rebuild our gacha script and its corresponding database. The system we were using proved faulty in June’s round, and we needed to start from scratch. Ashur was the right person for the job and joined our team with excitement. Our new system was up and running by the September 2016 round and The Arcade has used this system ever since, through our most recent pop-up round in October.

As you may or may not know, a lot has happened since then behind the scenes. On November 15, 2018, Ashur released a personal statement, sharing his perception of the past year’s events. It’s now our turn to do the same.

In his statement, Ashur claims The Arcade never compensated him for his work. This is simply untrue. When he was first commissioned, Katharine McGinnis approached Ashur and asked how he was most comfortable being paid. Upon his reply, Katharine emailed the other two owners (Octagons Yazimoto and Emery Milneaux) and relayed his answer. See below:

“I received no compensation for my work, then or ever,
nor was my store exempted of paying things like the designer
splits to come. This isn’t a complaint however, because
payment would’ve entailed transfer of ownership of my code.”

By his own admission, when payment was rendered, ownership of his code was transferred to us. From day one, we’ve believed this to be true and he’s now inadvertently confirmed it. We ask that you consider this, as we continue to tell our side of the story…

Earlier this year, we came up with an idea to expand The Arcade by introducing a HUD where shoppers could play the most popular machines remotely, anywhere on the grid. Ashur’s recently claimed that our intention behind this HUD was to do away with our venue over time, and that’s not true. Removing our physical presence from the grid has never been part of our vision for The Arcade. The HUD was always intended to supplement the event in an effort to offset the frustration our customers feel those first few days after a round opens, when they’re unable to visit the venue because our three sims are full. Claims that suggest otherwise are lies.

In January of this year, we asked Mike Denenny to come alongside Ashur as a support in this endeavor. On January 9, we started a private server on Discord, where we introduced Mike to Ashur and began discussing the parameters of the project. To the very best of our knowledge, Ashur seemed fine with the added help. Correspondence in this server continued through April. On April 6, we told Ashur and Mike that the three owners had met and mapped out the HUD with prims, and we proposed a meeting for April 22. The five of us met on April 22 (on Discord, on voice) and during that meeting, we were able to better explain what we wanted for the HUD and how it’d ideally work. Both Ashur and Mike were confident, they could bring our vision to life without foreseen hiccups. Our meeting ended with Mike offering to meet with Ashur in private, to further discuss the project and how it’d be executed, and Ashur agreed. Mike asked what day and time worked best for Ashur, and Ashur said he was immediately available and could meet right then. We left the meeting and Mike attempted to make contact with Ashur but suddenly, Ashur had company over and couldn’t make time to meet. Mike PM’d Octagons and updated her on this interaction, which he found to be strange. At the same time (and unbeknownst to Mike), Ashur had messaged Octagons as well, expressing sudden disinterest in working with Mike. He said he’d have to share his code with Mike, in order for Mike to comprehend how things had been setup on the backend. He didn’t feel this was necessary, as he believed the project never required a second set of hands; he could do it all himself and with relative ease. Because we appreciated his past contributions to our event, we respected his wishes and dismissed Mike from the project.

While this situation was unfolding, the dynamic of Ashur and Octagons’ working relationship was changing as well. In early 2017, Ashur began making several inappropriate comments that left Octagons feeling uncomfortable. This, coupled with personal conflict over our decision to fire Mike, ultimately led her to decide it was necessary to cease further communication with Ashur. She asked that going forward, Katharine serve as sole liaison between The Arcade and its scripter, and Katharine happily took on the task. Katharine advised Ashur of the change and made it clear she’d be his point of contact going forward. This didn’t sit well with Ashur. On June 22, Ashur PM’d Katharine the following:

We were saddened to hear where Ashur stood, but gave him the freedom to make that decision. We halted any new additions that were in the works and focused on keeping the event running smoothly, as is. This was the first time since we first commissioned Ashur in 2016, where we as owners realized how much power he held over the event and it scared us. We were worried there’d come a day he’d pull our system out from under us and we’d be left to scramble for a solution. We decided to have our system rebuilt and Katharine immediately commissioned Mike to tackle the endeavor. Our only solace at the time, was Ashur’s promise to maintain our current system, until our new system was up and running.

On September 24, Ashur reached out to Octagons, extending an olive branch. They proceeded to have a civil conversation. She was impressed by Ashur’s maturity and professionalism, and praised him for making contact first. It meant a lot to her (We can all attest, this sort of behavior proves to be rare among SL residents.). It seemed that peace was made and, as owners, this put our minds at ease. We were moving away from Ashur’s system, but he’d keep the event safe in the meantime.

On October 8, Ashur reached out again to Octagons. He learned that Mike had been contracted as his replacement and given his code for reference, and this seemed to rub him the wrong way. As previously mentioned, Octagons stepped down as liaison back in April, so she went to Katharine for more information. Katharine reassured her, our final product wasn’t a copy/paste of Ashur’s original work and in the end, it would be unique and original. This was relayed back to Ashur, but he didn’t seem appeased.

On October 13, we reached out to Ashur and asked if we could meet with him (in a Discord call, voice-to-voice.) We wanted to understand where Ashur was coming from. We also hoped we’d have the chance to better explain what was actually happening on our end, regarding Mike’s involvement and workflow, as Ashur seemed misinformed. We didn’t hear back from Ashur, so we followed up on the 14 and asked again, if he was willing to meet with us. These attempts were also ignored.

By October 19, Emery realized he lost access to our admin dashboard, where we see and collect data from the current Arcade round. He asked the other owners if they lost access too, and they quickly confirmed they both had. We’re not exactly sure when Ashur pulled this plug, but our designers have reported losing access to their own personal tracking as early as October 16, despite assurances from Ashur that he’d keep us afloat while we transitioned to a new system.

On October 20, Ashur PM’d Mike with threats of a cease and desist, on presumed grounds of compromised intellectual property. Ashur assured Mike that he had evidence to support his claim. We’re led to assume that Ashur (or someone Ashur knew) stumbled upon Mike’s private platform, where Ashur’s original scripts were being referenced and written over. By this time, more than 50% of Ashur’s original LSL code had been re-written and cleaned up to communicate with the new database system Mike had already completed. Mike offered to share his code with Ashur, to help put his mind at ease and he refused. Mike then reached out to Octagons, letting her know about Ashur’s threat. He expressed to her he didn’t feel comfortable proceeding with the project until this was resolved.

Later that day, we made a final attempt to make peace with Ashur. We asked what needed to happen to make all of this go away. We even offered to further compensate him, if he felt he had been taken advantage of in the past. He said he’d sleep on it and get back to us, and we foolishly had hope again. The next day, he advised us that he was pulling his system out from under us and we’d need to secure other options by the December round. He reassured us the October round (already underway) would go undisturbed, but asked that by December, The Arcade live on without a trace of his original coding (Keep in mind, this is code we paid him to write and deliver with full permissions intact; Code we believe, by Ashur’s own admissions, we own because payment was, in fact, rendered by The Arcade.).

We were left in a tough spot. We tried our very best to please all parties involved and even still, we couldn’t dodge Ashur’s biggest bullet. Ashur wouldn’t talk to us and Mike wouldn’t proceed until we smoothed things over with Ashur. We were at an impasse and at our most vulnerable, but knew we had a responsibility to protect what we built. We reluctantly came to the decision to start fresh, again. We told Ashur we’d delete all of his work and move forward, never again using any of his code to power The Arcade. And we’ve done just that. We let Mike out of his contract and he generously refunded our investment (We have nothing but kind things to say about Mike. We regret that it’s come to this and that we had to name him in our statement, but Ashur left us with little choice when he published his own statement a few days ago. Mike’s been put in the middle of a messy situation, clearly driven by a personal vendetta against us, on Ashur’s end.).

By November 6, we were flooded with messages from our designers, wondering why they couldn’t access their tracking. In an effort to answer these questions, we published a group notice (only visible to our current roster of designers) and explained our transition to a new system. The explanation was admittedly vague but factual, to the best of our knowledge. We encouraged our designers to reach out to Ashur, only if they wanted information on how to retrieve past data. Ashur’s gone on to claim we have access to these numbers. If that data exists on our end, we certainly don’t know how to access it. We believe Ashur’s been stubborn and hostile with us, and that’s why we haven’t asked him for a tutorial on how to access these numbers, should they even exist. At this point, we have no interest in engaging further with him, in any capacity. Instead, we’ve reached out to our web and server hosts to see if they can help with our plight of data recovery. We’ll keep our designers updated as we know more.

To recap, Ashur was compensated for his code, which by his own admission entailed transfer of ownership. Despite this ownership, we still erased any trace of his code upon his request and because of his threats to take legal action against Mike. This was purely an effort to eradicate any lingering animosity that existed on Ashur’s end. We take claims of infringement very seriously, and we resent Ashur’s false accusations painting us as thieves. To date, The Arcade has never once made a penny of profit using Ashur’s system without Ashur’s full and complete consent. Anytime Ashur’s come to us and expressed feelings of being slighted or even disrespected, we’ve done our very best to do right by him. This is because we appreciate his past contributions to our event, and we’ve always tried to prove that. We’re saddened and disappointed to see he’s never stopped to consider the efforts we’ve made to make peace, before attempting to attack The Arcade and the livelihoods of all associated with the event.

We’re sure you’re left wondering, what does this mean for The Arcade’s future? Fair question. As relentless as our enemies have proven to be, we can assure you: We’re not going anywhere. Setup begins soon for our December round and it’s the biggest round in Arcade history. We’re delighted to introduce 28 additional gacha machines to our existing lineup. For December’s round, we’ll use an interim script to power these machines. Despite how things may look, this script wasn’t rushed. It’s a script we’ve used in the past, that’s proven its stability under pressures of venue traffic and lag. Player Rewards won’t be offered in December and designers won’t be able to track their sales on our website. But beyond these two small (and temporary) changes, we’re confident that December’s round will run as smoothly as any other past round.

Going forward, we’re confident using the database Mike created for us, as its construction wasn’t founded on any of Ashur’s prior work. It’s waiting in the wings to see the light of day, and we’re excited to share our new system with our team of designers. We’re in the process of authoring an LSL script, that can communicate between our machines and our new database. As of right now, we anticipate our new system making its premiere by the March, 2019 round.

We thank you for the outpouring of support we’ve received this past week, and we appreciate your patience while we worked to write this statement. We’re so thankful for the members of the Second Life community who’ve stood by our side as this unfortunate situation unfolded in the public eye. You’ve not gone unnoticed. We’re focused on the event’s future and Ashur’s chosen to be part of our past. It bears repeating: The event will move forward without a trace of Ashur’s original code and without comprising the event’s stability. We’re excited to show you what’s in store for 2019, and can’t wait to see you at the December round!

– Octagons Yazimoto & Emery Milneaux

Written by thearcadesl