The Ginever Alliance

Ginever Alliance logo (2015-2016)

The Ginever Alliance was a non-profit unincorporated association which operated in both the United Kingdom and United States between November 2009 and December 2016. The purpose of the alliance was to provide a community space where people could play, develop and share video games.

The official tag line of the service was "Making your lives slightly less pointless since 2005".

The service was largely funded by donations. It was notorious during its lifetime for frequently running over budget, with the finances often being topped up by the senior staff to keep the alliance afloat. For primarily this reason, it was deemed uneconomical to continue running. The alliance ceased operations at the end of 2016 and was officially succeeded in January 2017 by a commercial business venture called Ginever Entertainment.

Formation of the Alliance

The alliance was founded in the latter half of 2009 by Ruby-Jane Dennington (Theleruby) and Trevor Sparks (Medessec). It came to formation through the merger of several smaller unincorporated entities:

The leaders of each of these entities met on the Ginever Block forum in 2008 and subsequently got along rather well. They affiliated under the B-Cool Family brand in 2009. The affiliation led to the development of the Game of Inevitable Frustration, which was an unprecedented success. Following the success of GIF, Theleruby and Medessec began to work together more closely, and merged their operations together into a single entity controlling The Ginever Block.com between late-2009 and mid-2010. Theleruby elected to use the name Ginever Service Alliance to refer to this entity, as it was the Alliance that ran the Ginever Service. The name stuck, and was used in increasing frequency as time went on, eventually becoming an official name.

Since the Alliance simply blurred into existence over time, there is no easily recognizable formation date. The first recorded use of the name Ginever Service Alliance was on 22 October 2009 in an MSN conversation between Theleruby and MDC, where a graphical map of the affiliations between the various organizations that operated The Ginever Block was being created. Ruby used the name Ginever Service Alliance to refer to the entity as a whole on this map. The map was then distributed to the other affiliates via private message. Since there is no record of the name being used before that time, it is probable that it is the first occurrence. The Alliance began to more officially take shape in the month that followed (November 2009), so November 2009 is recognized as the official month of formation.

As a result of the success of the Ginever Service Alliance Tour of California, the alliance began a community-driven attempt to redefine and refocus its identity. The name of the community forum was changed to Ginever.net on 9 August 2011 at the suggestion of Kian Bradley, and the word 'Service' was dropped from the Alliance's name on 23 January 2012.

Activities

During its operation, the Ginever Alliance was responsible for the operation of many online services, along with the development of a wide array of software projects. It also ran a gaming clan.

Online services

Services in operation included:

  • Ginever.net, a community forum and hub that was previously operated as The Ginever Block.com
  • Wikis for the Ginever Alliance, Robbit and Intryon
  • The Ginever Alliance JIRA bug tracker
  • An automated build bot powered by Bamboo
  • A web translation service powered by Weblate
  • Mercurial repository hosting

The accounts service, GineverAccount, was used across all of these online services to provide continuity between them.

Community clan

Many video games were played through the Ginever Clan, a gaming clan operated using Hamachi that played games several times a week. Voice chat was run initially through MSN, and later moved to Skype and eventually Discord. The clan was notable for producing community clan patches which modified the games played by the clan to fix bugs or introduce new features. Patches for games such as Age of Empires III and Worms Armageddon were the most well known, but patches were available for many different games.

The clan also had a common 'taunts' list which was supported by many of the games being played. These taunts resulted in many in-jokes (for example, taunt 135 is Karl Pilkington saying 'BULLSHIT!', subsequently it is common within the community to simply type 135 when somebody feels that something is notably bullshitty).

Some clan games were streamed to YouTube and Twitch.

Software development

Ginever engaged in many different software development projects throughout its lifetime. The largest works by the alliance were GinENGINE (a games engine), Spellmaster II (a sandbox program used for prototyping collectible card games) and Robbit (a mod pack for Minecraft).

At the time of its closedown, a new card game project called Intryon was in the early stages of development. That project has now been inherited by Ginever Entertainment and placed on hold due to lack of resources. It is likely that it will be picked up at a later date if Ginever ever has the resources to resume its development.

Examples of other previously completed projects, developed either by the Ginever Alliance or its affiliated predecessors, include:

  • Chopper, a side-scrolling shooter released in 2003
  • Dude: The Robot, a small mini-game developed intermittently between 2004 and 2006
  • B-Cool Breakout, a breakout game developed by B-Cool and RJD Enterprise Solutions between 2006 and 2007
  • The Medessec Travelcade, a set of three portable games developed by Medessec in 2009:
  • The Game of Inevitable Frustration, a side-scrolling platformer released in 2009 which received positive reception
  • The original version of Spellmaster, now known as Spellmaster Classic
  • Ginever.net OpenTTD Patchpack, a modified version of OpenTTD which implements a day-length modifier, colour-coded town names and a few other minor improvements
  • Paulipede, a basic clone of Atari's Centipede which is used to test the deployment of GinENGINE
  • Whack!, a small arcade game inspired by Whack a Mole
  • Athena, a light-weight media player
  • Robbit, a custom Minecraft client and server platform used for Asterion Minecraft between 2011 and 2015

Some discontinued or cancelled projects include:

  • ADI OS, a portable memory-stick version of Windows XP used by Ginever Computer Systems to help repair broken computers (now replaced with Windows To Go)
  • Pokémon Crimson, an abandoned Pokémon fan-game developed between 2007 and 2011 which was heavily influential during the development of GinENGINE
  • Friendships & Troubles, a video game based on roleplays that operated on Legend Killer Productions
  • FASIN (Futuristic Assault, Strategy and Infiltration Network), a futuristic real-time strategy game that was cancelled for being too ambitious
  • GineverPrix, a 2D racing game
  • GinENGINE Pacman, a clone of Pacman

Multimedia

The Ginever Alliance operated an official multimedia division known as Ginever Multimedia which was the direct successor to Legend Killer Productions. The only notable project was The Squeal Show, a puppet show created by Martin Commins and published during 2007/2008. No new projects were officially worked on during the lifetime of the alliance, which essentially made Ginever Multimedia a shell division.

The multimedia division also produced Twitch streams of Theleruby and Medessec playing various different games within the clan or in their spare time, although these were not considered official productions, as they were only created casually for fun.

Fate

In the latter half of 2016, the finances of the Ginever Alliance were in a very bad state. For several years in a row, the annual expenses each year had significantly outweighed the income from donations, and the staff were continually left to make up the shortfall. This expenditure was deemed to be unsustainable, and so the decision was consequently made to shut down the Ginever Alliance at the end of 2016.

A subsequent review of Ginever at the start of 2017 looked into making it more financially sustainable. This led to the creation of Ginever Entertainment, a new commercial business venture under the Ginever brand. At the time of the formation of Ginever Entertainment, it took up the mantle of running Ginever and managing the brand, inheriting the legacy of the Ginever Alliance and its predecessors in the process.