Well, I've gone and done it now. I've retired. After six years and a little over one month, I'm giving up on making trading card game pricelists. The week of June 28 marks the last regularly-produced pricelist I will publish. "Why," you may ask? Well, frankly, six years is enough. I've been tiring of this racket for some time now. I've made two attempts, serious ones, to turn responsibility for these lists over to third parties. Each attempt has failed--in both cases, the third parties in question were gaming companies of one sort or another who considered free access to unbiased pricelists to be beneficial to their business models. Sadly, neither one of them proved to be as good as their word when it came to the actual weekly business of making these lists (names withheld to protect the guilty). So I have continued to make these pricelists because so many people on the net seem to use them and find them helpful. That's why I started making them in the first place, to be helpful and because I figure that the Net has given me a lot of good stuff for free, so it was my duty to give something back. Thus, I couldn't in good conscience just quit without at least attempting to provide for my users. My hope was that I could select company who I felt confident in, someone who would commit to carrying on these weekly lists, someone who would commit to publishing them for the free use of whoever wants them. Alas, I couldn't find one.
You may also ask, "So why not just release your software to the general public, if you were so tired of making lists?" Well, that's what I'm doing now, but why I haven't done so before is a good question. Part of it was sheer ego and vanity. I like being the net's magic card price guru. I like getting mail from random strangers thanking me for this service. The other part relates to credibility. I've spent a long time building up the credibilty of my lists, as being usefully accurate and very reliably published. If someone comes to my site, they know they're getting pricelists with some history behind them. People have been able to use my lists, find them to be helpful, and thereby feel comfortable conducting real-money transactions based on the data I provide. In giving up production of the lists myself, I must by necessity sacrifice some portion of that credibility. As you might well imagine, I wasn't eager to do that. So by searching for someone to carry on after me, someone whose skills I could publicly endorse, I was seeking to minimize the disruption people will feel in having to get used to a new pricelist provider. For the sake of that, I've continued to make these lists for about 18 months longer than I really wanted to.
But the time has come now when the personal toll this takes on my life (you younger folks will come to learn that the older you get, the busier you get and the less time you have to devote to projects like this one) is great enough that I can't wait any more for the perfect pricelist heir to come along. That is why I am now releasing my software to the net community at large. It is my great hope that multiple people on the net will rise to the challenge and start making pricelists.
So here's the deal. If you think you have what it takes to be a serious pricelist producer, then download my software and see if you can get it to work. If you do get it to work, and set up your own pricelist publishing website, then e-mail me at cloister(at)hhhh(dot)org and let me know about your site. I will monitor those sites, and set up links from my pricelist page to yours, to help direct traffic to those new sites. On or about Wednsday, September 20, 2000, I will pick up to three sites who in my opinion have done the best job of producing and regularly updating their pricelists. (Note: I'm getting married on September 23, so there's a chance I won't have time to do this until I return from the honeymoon.) I will "bless" those sites with my official stamp of approval, and will maintain links to those sites from my pricelist page. And, at long last, I will consider my self done with this whole pricelist thing for good. It's been fun, but you know what they say about too much of a good thing.
Here's what it takes me to ably produce these pricelists:
If you think you fit the bill, then download Cloister's Pricelist Generating Software (that's in caps because that's the official name I want to use for the purpose of the GPL). enclosed in that tar file is a README.pricelists file that explains how to set up and use my software. Note: it's all crufty command-line stuff that I wrote for my own use. Don't expect a fancy setup application, configure script, etc. This will be less gory than installing some other freeware stuff you've downloaded, but it's no "./configure; make; make install" job either.
Have fun, and extra points to the first person who can get this stuff up and running!