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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:51 pm 
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I really have to disagree with Emor on some points: Yes, CAVCON 3 has a somewhat indeterminate definition, as indeed do all the other states, but that is rather the whole point of CAVCON: For any given month the operating expenses will be some variable figure - the costs in, say, April 2010 were no doubt way higher than last month for example, so in looking at fund "health" you need to consider it in relative terms and that's what CAVCON does. CAVCON 3 is meaningful because it says that, in relative terms, incomings for the month are roughly in line with the outgoings. I also disagree with Emor's assertion that there is no CAVCON 1 state - quite clearly there is, as a closed MOULa would be the manifestation of that state. I think what Emor maybe meant was that there is no CAVCON 1 state with MOULa operating which is likely to be true.

What CAVCON tells you is that the balance of the fund after that month's expenses is staying roughly constant (CAVCON 3), increasing (CAVCON 4) or depleting (CAVCON2). You can largely ignore CAVCON 1 and CAVCON 5 for those purposes, and trying increase the resolution to fractions of a CAVCON doesn't really tell you any more about the health of the fund (and I think the 1/2 CAVCON resolution is as much as you'll get out of RAWA anyway), since it doesn't tell you how big (or small) the kitty is. You would need a completely different measure altogether, such as an estimate of the number of months remaining, perhaps based on the average costs and expenses of the previous three months (using a single month as the reference would likely create a very spikey measure due to month on month variations). But this is all getting into more detail that RAWA would need to request from the accountants and process.

However, it's not hard to make your own estimate, and that's what I did. If CAVCON 3 means "no change", CAVCON 4 means "increasing" and CAVCON 2 means "decreasing" then you can assign those values of 0, +1 and -1 respectively. Then you can add up all the values for the previous months to get a crude estimate of the number of months funding that is likely to be in reserve. The result I got was 0.5 months. But there is a danger with a such a measure, even if accurately calculated: Complacency. If you get to the position where it looks like there's 3 or 4 months banked away in reserve then some people may feel they've donated enough for now, and you run into a kind of "brinkmanship" where people only consider donating just as you get to the point of a bankrupt kitty.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:53 pm 
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Mac_Fife wrote:
You can largely ignore CAVCON 1 and CAVCON 5


Well.. That is incouraging

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:09 pm 
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Mac, I think you are correct on all counts, as both expenses and donations will vary month-to-month, and there is a very real danger of complacency if people feel there is enough of a reserve built up. Usually I find that whenever I manage to save a little extra money, some real emergency comes up that uses that extra and then some. :?

That the August number is down by itself is no reason to panic. This is Summer in the northern hemisphere, when a lot of people are out and about enjoying the season or vacationing. Some whole countries practically shut down for the month. So a lot of people are less likely to be in URU or thinking about it. But it's important that we know the relative state of funding as a reminder that these dips occur, and we need to make up the short-falls before we do get into a bind.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 10:04 pm 
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Charura wrote:
Mac_Fife wrote:
You can largely ignore CAVCON 1 and CAVCON 5


Well.. That is incouraging

Well, I say you could ignore these because CAVCON 5 is an aspirational state that results from CAVCON 4 being maintained for long periods and CAVCON 1 is a result of CAVCON 2 existing for longer than the balance of funds can support; they are "end states" rather than telling you about the trend.

Think of it this way: MOULa can exist with a balance of $0, i.e. if the amount of donations exactly matches the expenses then the residual balance is nil. But because there's a balance, then it's CAVCON 3 even though there's no reserve. That possibly gets to the crux of the concerns about what CAVCON tells us: From that condition, falling to CAVCON 2 really goes directly to CAVCON 1 - you failed to meet expenses and the kitty is overdrawn. That's not particularly encouraging :( .

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 10:10 pm 
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actually, wouldn't it seem more accurate - I may be mistaken - to say that falling to Cavcon2 means that expenses haven't been met, for that period, but that in itself shouldn't mean the kitty is overdrawn, just that if Cavcon2 persists for an unspecified period of time that such will happen.
Overall - a very good explanation of the Cavcon levels - I think - though I've kind of understood them that way too.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 11:34 pm 
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zack wrote:
actually, wouldn't it seem more accurate - I may be mistaken - to say that falling to Cavcon2 means that expenses haven't been met, for that period, but that in itself shouldn't mean the kitty is overdrawn, just that if Cavcon2 persists for an unspecified period of time that such will happen.


Here is the dilemna.

Mac_Fife wrote:
CAVCON 1 is a result of CAVCON 2 existing for longer than the balance of funds can support;


Question I think is this?,,, How long does CAVCON 2 exist before CAVCON 1 explodes?

It seems that CAVCON 2 was going on for a long time when the accounting issue was realized?

Mac_Fife wrote:
Well truth is that we've spent very little time at CAVCON 4 - Due to "an accounting error" we were actually at CAVCON 2 for a large part of time we thought we were at CAVCON 4:


And that was quite a long time if you look back at the numbers...

So..I guess the question is this...How many months can CAVCON 2 survive without a single donation?
You notice I'm trying still to get numbers?...LOL

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 12:19 am 
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Mac_Fife wrote:
CAVCON 3 is meaningful because it says that, in relative terms, incomings for the month are roughly in line with the outgoings.

Mac, it's that "roughly" that is one of the things we know nothing about. The plain bookkeeping fact is that incoming funds are always going to be either greater than or less than expenses. The size of RAWA's CAVCON 3 "roughly" is completely arbitrary within RAWA's world, so if you wish to assign some personal meaning to it that's entirely your choice.
Your means of estimating the size of the CAVCON 3 zone seems to assume a static condition, making assumptions that don't factor in rates of Fund depletion or accrual, and so I'm skeptical it's a useful tool.

Likewise, if you agree that CAVCON 1 means "the Cavern Is Closed, folks", then there is no Cavern to which to assign such a State. If you like to assign names or numbers to the infinite categories of Things That Do Not Exist, then that too is your choice: CAVCON 1 is "meaningful" to you.

I also believe you are in error to say that 'CAVCON 4 means "increasing" and CAVCON 2 means "decreasing"'. For one example, there can certainly be a state where the Reserve Fund is nearly depleted (CAVCON 2), but where donations maintain exactly that level of depletion: a stasis with no increase or decrease.

However, going back to RAWA's original definition of CAVCON 5, we read:
It means that donations are exceeding MO:ULagain expenses, there are a couple of months of MO:ULagain expenses in reserve, and extra money can be put toward server upgrades, bug fixes, new content, incorporating fan created content, etc.
Based on that, we can say that CAVCON 4 must accrue about two months of MO:ULa expenses into the Fund before CAVCON 5 can be reached. This may not be the Reserve Fund amount, but it is a known percentage of the monthly costs.

As I said last November, "the size of (the Reserve Fund) could be in the hundreds or the many-thousands, this is Cyan’s business and not our own." Certainly at this point, over 30 months of statistics must give Cyan a pretty good notion of MO:ULa's financial margins. I'm not interested in the fixed amounts, but in the moving target. I think it would be helpful to all to know: what direction are we headed in?

I do agree that there is a concern about complacency among explorers when it appears that donations are above break-even, and even when CAVCON is in some state above failing entirely. But I see this as entirely due to lack of data reaching the cavern: no one knows if the numbers are accruing or depleting. That's why I'm mystified that you see no advantage to being able to view CAVCON numbers with a slightly finer scale. I cannot imagine that fans wouldn't be concerned seeing CAVCON drop from 2.8 to 2.5 to 2.2, that they wouldn't respond. Perhaps it's ridiculously optimistic, but I'd like to believe that if we watched CAVCON grow from 4.2 to 4.5 to 4.8, there would be a big push to get CAVCON well above 5.

And, as much as we're happy that fan developers have fixed bugs and added features brought through OpenURU updates, as much as we'd all like to see Fan Ages connected through the MO:ULa server, I am just as sure that we'd also love to see donations reach the CAVCON 5 point where Cyan could also return to creating their own new content once again.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 12:24 am 
That's impossible to say without some more hard numbers. We would need to know both how big the reserve is, and what the expenses are. Then, of course, you simply divide the first by the second.

EDIT: I have just updated my spreadsheet containing all CavCon data. We are at a new all-time low for Unique Users. 1436 different people logged into Uru over the week beginning 5th September. This is not good.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 12:46 am 
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Charura wrote:
Question I think is this?,,, How long does CAVCON 2 exist before CAVCON 1 explodes?


RAWA's definition of CAVCON 2 is that donations don't match expenses, but we have a reserve fund left over from CAVCON 4, so MOULa stays open because there's still money to use to pay for it.

Actually… Now that I think of it… Correct me if I'm wrong, but reading over RAWA's definitions and the recent talk in this thread again… CAVCON isn't so much a measure of current funds as it is a measure of donations. So the monthly report isn't really an indicator of the health of MOULa so much as a measure of how closely donations matched expenses this month.

There's slight overlap between a measure of donations and a measure of health, since 2 and 5 indicate a reserve fund being used, but 1, 3, and 4 all refer to a measure of donations. Like so:

1: Not enough donations to cover the cost.

2: Not enough donations to cover the cost, but enough reserve money to cover the difference.

3: Enough donations to cover the cost.

4: Enough donations to cover the cost, plus some left over to save for a CAVCON 2 situation.

5: Enough donations to cover the cost, the reserve fund is healthy, and there's money left over to use to make improvements.

So CAVCON can bounce up and down between 2, 3, 4 without anything bad ever happening, really. As long as it stays at one of those levels, MOULa is operating just fine.

And I would like to think that Cyan would give us a heads up if the reserve fund was ever empty after a CAVCON 2 month, so that we could rescue it before CAVCON 1…

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 3:13 pm 
Or we all started donating even more in a CavCon 2 month.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 8:17 pm 
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Malfhok, I think you're exactly right in your interpretation of the CAVCON levels and what it tells us (and doesn't tell us). Also, what you and zack both point out, I think correctly, is that CAVCON is a measure that relates to the preceding month rather than being a cumulative measure. I don't think that was actually expressed in RAWA's original post: It was something I assumed from the outset, but I can now see that others might well have assumed that it was a cumulative measure, and I sense that's maybe how Emor has been looking at it.

But, picking up on an interesting point coming out Emor's most recent post:
Emor D'ni Lap wrote:
However, going back to RAWA's original definition of CAVCON 5, we read:
It means that donations are exceeding MO:ULagain expenses, there are a couple of months of MO:ULagain expenses in reserve, and extra money can be put toward server upgrades, bug fixes, new content, incorporating fan created content, etc.
Based on that, we can say that CAVCON 4 must accrue about two months of MO:ULa expenses into the Fund before CAVCON 5 can be reached. This may not be the Reserve Fund amount, but it is a known percentage of the monthly costs.
It's interesting because of the inference (from RAWA's definition) that a couple of months of reserve would be enough to establish CAVCON 5. When MOULa first opened we had about 5 months of consistent CAVCON 4 (real, not imagined) but never got to CAVCON 5. So we can assume that the surplus in each of those CAVCON 4 months was relatively small, probably much less than one months expenses.

Regarding Charura's observation about CAVCON 2 having existed for some time before the accounting error was discovered, my crude estimation suggests that by September 2011 we were actually deep in CAVCON 1 territory, possibly as much as 3 months overdrawn, although I suspect that's maybe an exaggeration. But you'll recall Chogon posting at that time that some steps were being taken immediately to reduce costs. We didn't get a "CAVCON 1 approaching!!!" alert then because it came as a surprize to everyone, but I think we'd get one now as, Malfhok hopes. But I also think that Cyan would be maybe be prepared to bear a little overspend if we happened to empty the kitty one month, so long as it looked like there was a prospect of recovery the following month. I suspect that's what happened, albeit unintentionally last September, so I don't see CAVCON 1 as being an irrecoverable condition. But if the fans haven't rallied by the time you get to a second month of CAVCON 2 (which should itself act as a warning) then the game is probably already "lost".

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 3:37 am 
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The problem is we're using quantized 'cavcon' levels for an almost analog distinction of differences. The problem is the reserve fund could be five bucks, it could be fifty, it could be five hundred, it could be five thousand. Moreso, the amount paid to keep the servers running is relatively constant, but the amount coming in from donations is not. Cavcon 2 only means that we're using the reserve funds. It doesn't say how much the shortfall is, it doesn't say how much the reserve fund is... it's mostly a "we need more donations" or a "we have enough donations for the moment" or a "we have a bit more donations than we need, so we're building reserves". It has no meaning as for how good or bad the situation is. It's just a message.

Of course, that's the intent I guess.. if RAWA was ready to disclose exactly how the funds were doing, he'd have started posting numbers from the start ("donations last month: $X, current reserve: $Y, estimated expenses: $Z") meaning that since he didn't, it's because for whatever reason he either can't or doesn't want to disclose that level of detail. I can understand some of why, it could well be a legal thing what with Cyan being a for-profit company but running a server on donations from fans as a non-profit side event. It could also be that he doesn't want to discourage us with the values of just how close things have been to running out over time.. worse, if he did, then he'd likely be pressured for detailed cost-breakdowns of every single time things are pulled out of the donations/funds for maintenance or what... and he has a job. This isn't his job, he doesn't have time to spend writing posts of cost/value charts and expense account breakdowns. Plus, well, it's not like we have a stake in the company.


In turn, that's why I'd kind of like some measure of feedback of details. Nothing like actual values, I wouldn't expect those for reasons stated above, but perhaps a thing saying "At the moment, assuming no increase of rate of expenses or donations in the forseeable future, we have roughly 1.5 months of money left in the MOULa reserve fund." We could do the approximate math then, not to say "Oh no we need to raise $MONEY by next month or we're gonna drain the fund!" but instead can say "Oh dear, we need to raise donations by about 20%".

I dunno if we'll get even that though... as noted there's valid reasons to not give us the full details... but I don't think we'd mind a little more info to go by...

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:23 am 
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Hmm...So I'm going to comment here very cautiously:

One, I do neglect to donate to Cavcon every month...mainly because I get busy.
Two, er, well there hasn't been much going on in the cavern lately and/or I just havent been down there very much.
Both of those being said, I personally wish RAWA would keep giving us a Cavcon *.* (With it being 2.5, 3.2, 4.2, whatever...So we'd having something to strive for or a better "guide meter".)

Some have said that will keep the Cavcon at a steady 3ish range...Maybe it will/won't...But at least it may "level out" some of the gross fluctions...And give those interested more reason to donate and/or hold events for that purpose.

Anys, I've said my piece, and am now going to head back to my desk in the GoMe archives. Be well, all!!!

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:56 pm 
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Charura wrote:
But then $10 a month didn't work for GameTap..so apples and apples or apples and oranges?


Very apples to oranges. That $10 was for a subscription to the whole service, not just Uru funding. GT's issue (aside from a host of other things) was that there wasn't enough people from their whole subscriber base playing Uru.

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Last edited by Eleri on Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:55 pm 
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Eleri wrote:
Very apples to oranges.


ty Eleri

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