On the closure of Skye: Endless Realm

Charit, Heart Level Up's mascot. (Designed by muddymelly [Melissa Hui Wang.])

Charit, Heart Level Up’s mascot. (Designed by muddymelly [Melissa Hui Wang.])

A brief history of the project

In April of 2012, I described the idea of a humanitarian avatar-based virtual world social network to two patient and talented friends* (a manager and developer) who then graciously gave their time as teammates to that project. We did and do deeply believe in and are inspired by the warm and altruistic communities that avatar sites are comprised of, and their energies towards actively bettering and giving back to their communities – both in real life, and online. We wanted to create a platform that both facilitated and celebrated such philanthropy. Thus, that virtual world that we discussed – Skye – was initially conceptualized and named, and the URLs for its domain name – endlessrealm.com, ~.org, and ~.net – were reserved. And now, after this team dispersed during Skye’s four years of uneven bootstrapped development (which produced no clear launch timeline and experienced a number of staff changes,) Skye: Endless Realm’s project status is changing from “under development” to “project halted indefinitely.”

*Being enthusiastic about proper accreditation is a commitment that I am honored to uphold. The names of these two friends (who were former Skye teammates) are unmentioned because a wise former teammate advised me that – since Skye is currently an unsuccessful project – publicizing the names of the kind people who were part of Skye may not provide these people with beneficial associations.

I went into this project with a balanced team I deeply believed in, trusted, and committed to, and experienced an awe-inducing amount of kindness and encouragement from you wondrous human beings, and have since worked with and gratefully learned from a number of incredible, altruistic, and talented individuals who will definitely go on to leave magnanimous and memorable marks upon our world. (I should note that team members never left in response to the technical demands of the project, nor in response to personal recompense [I sought to broach the topic of payment and rates at the earliest opportunity.])

A copy of the original announcement of closure

On May 6th, after former team members of the project agreed with the decisions – and reviewed and helpfully critiqued the initial drafts that I wrote, I posted the following announcement to Bubblegum, Skye’s soon-to-be-defunct test forum.

Dear incredibly unforgettable Skye: Endless Realm Citizens,


For years, you have patiently and generously waited throughout our lengthy development of Skye: Endless Realm. You are a truly amazing and very admirable community of stellar individuals; it is with a heavy heart that I write you with regrettable news.


On May 29th, we are pulling down this website (bubblegum.endlessrealm.com) in addition to pulling down the Skye sign-up page (skye.endlessrealm.com,) and changing Skye: Endless Realm’s project status from “under development” to “production halted indefinitely.”


As our moderator inspirae wrote, “there have been enormous changes and transitions” within the most recent development team that worked on Skye: Endless Realm, and due to these events and Skye’s challenging developmental history defined by regular staff turnover, Skye is “not [currently] able to recover from these drastic changes.”


Skye, a daring and bootstrapped project, has understandably experienced a notable amount of developer turnover which punctuated lengthy periods of solo development. After the original development team had to disperse due to life demands, its thoughtful members would help with singular tasks and maintenance when asked. Since this initial team’s dispersal, I’d work alone on Skye for long stretches of time and use notable amounts of time to put together the aforementioned sporadic efforts, increase the stability of the working environment, and seek out and prepare dev materials for passionate newcomers (several of whom came from your wondrous community) who sought to help — all whilst pushing forth my tasks: creating staff and site assets, designing each part of Skye’s site and user experience, crafting wireframes and features and plans… I am absolutely grateful to each and every one of you incredible individuals for being perpetually inspiring and gracious with your patience with these long periods of solo development, throughout which progress was slowest and communication was very quiet due to the uncertainty of the former.


After many months of solitary work, the last team to join forces for a period of time to work on Skye was epic — an extremely passionate, wise, caring, thoughtful, and devoted team (we all, despite tremendous life struggles, gave Skye our everything for the months we worked together.) At the present moment, the number of people working on Skye is much diminished, and putting together yet another team of dedicated talents (who care about this community and project) will always afford degrees of uncertainty and challenge (to those of you wonderful persons who volunteered your artistic and development talents to Skye, I could not subject you to the shaky and stressful stability within our development environment.) Taking the project down for the foreseeable future may be the most responsible response to current staffing changes.


During the years of erratic cycles of working alone and working alongside helpful and kind partners and teammates, I would also spend time working to independently finance everything Skye and its staff could need. Now, since another indefinite period of solo dev has begun, there is great concern in regards to how well I can financially support Skye until the next period of efficiently-staffed development. (There have been kind suggestions of crowdfunding raised within your caring community; we regret to respond that we feel Skye is not far enough along for a responsible Kickstarter or Indiegogo.) We’ve reluctantly concluded that we cannot currently move production forward with our diminishing resources.


We will carefully expunge all encrypted personal identifying information from our servers in order to protect privacy and user data.


Thank you for using your precious time to give us and your community such lasting and empowering warmth. I am deeply sorry for giving you this news after you have been extraordinarily patient for so long.


We all will never forget how you have magnanimously stood by us for years, encouraging us with many warm words of support and helping us with insightful critiques. As the only constant team member who was on every team that worked on Skye, I must inform you that your enduring kindness was and is beyond inspiring to all who touched the project, and we all humbly thank you for fueling every solo and collaborative stretch of the development journey thus far.


Every Skye development team member has earnestly sought to create a world that would live up to your wonderful encouragement and magnanimity. Dear Citizens, if you are seeking upstanding virtual worlds to relocate to, here are a number of established and enjoyable avatar-based social networks that seek to take care of you and your friends: recolor.me, Windlyn OnlineSubeta, Roliana, Solia Online, Gaia Online, Syndrone, Trisphee, Kingdom of Knuffel, Midorea (which is now undergoing exciting renovations,) MenewshaKinsaki, Zantarni, OurWorld, and many more gorgeous sites.


Since this site will close on May 29th, please do not hesitate to let me know how I may help you find and gather your beautiful artwork posts, your witty writings, and the wonderful friends that you’ve met on this site. It would be an honor to be here for you, as you were there for us. Please do not hesitate to tag me, write to me, or message me on any platform (even after Bubblegum goes offline) to allow me to know how I may be of assistance.

In closing

Dear y’all, thank you for being such constantly inspiring, insightful, and encouraging folk; your presence, words, and genuine warmth have graciously made it an enormous joy to dedicate 1/7 of my life to working on and financially carrying Skye: Endless Realm, and further dedicate even more time and resources. However, it would very unfair and unreasonable to have you all consciously wait even longer throughout the foreseeable timeline of development (which is based upon the current resources, remaining progress, and available skillsets that I could hone and proffer.) Thank you all so, so much for all you’ve done to buoy this project and the folk who have touched it; all of us teammates are immensely grateful.

[…] (to those of you wonderful persons who volunteered your artistic and development talents to Skye, I could not subject you to the shaky and stressful stability within our development environment.)

Staff experiences and sense emphasize that the development environment of Skye would have been an unstructured and thereby stressful environment for those of you who did kindly offer your wondrous artistic and developmental talents – which I’m deeply looking forward to promoting and celebrating within a separate post. I had and have much to learn in order to provide better managerial, technical, and security-related measures that would nurture our project’s shaky stability. Dear y’all, I am so sorry that I never created enough stability within Skye’s development environment to welcome you on board. You all are beyond awesome to offer your aid and advice, and I look up to y’all so much.

Even though Skye: Endless Realm’s development status is now “progress halted indefinitely,” Heart Level Up (the startup behind Skye: Endless Realm’s production) and Charit (Heart Level Up’s mascot character) will continue to be developed.

I have so, so much to continue learning within every facet of life, and will continue to dedicate my time to learning and bettering what skills I can offer so that I may do better in the future. Thank you very, very much for all of your magnanimity and enduring patience.