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Jethro

The 1.0 Release: Lack of Communication and Disappointment

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It is not up to Valve to speak for Double Fine. DF communicated this issue terribly, and they sold a mere idea without clearly conveying the apparently very likely possibility that they would never be able to realize that idea.

It was only after naively "believing that every new update would turn things around" that they realized one morning they'd have to bump the schedule out the door. Baby's first game, I guess, but maybe that sort of business naivete explains why the company has screwed up every other game budget too.

Maybe Bobby Kotick had a point.

Anyway, your excuse would be acceptable for a two-bit indie house, but not for DF. This is a company that apparently requires millions of dollars just to make it through a year.

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6) The only big major features higher up the list that haven't made it in at all are: the multi-level base building category, and I don't think teleporters are in. And some of the social networking sharing features.

What a tiny detail. I'm sure Dwarf Fortress would be just as much fun if it wasn't multilevel.

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I'm sure this has been said in here before, but I want to make sure that the development team knows that its not you we are upset with they way the powers that be at DoubleFine handled this situation. Is this the same situation with Hack and Slash? I wonder if this will kill AF's in the future.

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I find it weird that there's so much hate for early access, here.

Plenty of other funding models have resulted in developers having to push a product out the door earlier than they'd like because of running out of time/money.

And just to reiterate what others have pointed out already: Valve was upfront from the get-go that this could happen with Steam early access (just like it could happen with other funding models). "You should be aware that some teams will be unable to 'finish' their game. So you should only buy an Early Access game if you are excited about playing it in its current state."

Source: http://store.steampowered.com/earlyaccessfaq/?snr=1_200_200_Early+Access

Not true. Part you are referring to showed up for the first time not so long ago, in June [http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/218900/Steam_updates_Early_Access_FAQ_to_say_games_may_never_be_finished.php]. Earlier on it looked like this http://web.archive.org/web/20130326233337/http://store.steampowered.com/earlyaccessfaq/. Can you see any part even vaguely suggesting games may not end up properly finished?

Note: This Early Access game may or may not change significantly over the course of development. If you are not excited to play this game in its current state, then you may want to wait until the game progresses further in development. - this note was also introduced around that time, and was never to be seen before in a system that runs since March 2013. Earlier on it was just a jolly "Get pals with the devs while they still develop the game, weee!'. As seen here, for example, back at the beginning http://web.archive.org/web/20130331093143/http://store.steampowered.com/app/224500. I can't recall when 'What dev says' was introduced but I'm sure it wasn't there at the start or devs couldn't write there whatever they wanted.

By the way, it's called 'Early Access' which is misrepresentative too. You actually get early access when you go watch a movie as preview and it's rather unlikely something will change, you just watched it earlier than others. Here in the other hand, you get some build of unfinished code that may or may not change over time. And as I prefer to call it it's Too Early Access because at it's core it's what it is.

Of course there are great stories among, Prison Architect, Door Kickers and such but they feel rather as early buyers getting lucky because no one controls what's happening with that part of the store, no one knows who and what gets there on what basis, what's to achieve and what's the backup plan if it doesn't reach it's goal. So far Valve doesn't seem to care because it gets it's cut.

As long as these games are sold via store, using priviledged position of Steam on digital PC games distribution market (being a monopolist), I refuse to listen to the marketing nonsense about supporting/backing things. Valve gets it's cut just as Kickstarter, it's not charity, it's buissness and more importantly, it's a store. As it's often said, Valve loves hats and right now they wear whatever hat they like whenever it's conveniant for them. In my opinion this model is so different from established role of the store that it shouldn't be used in one. You can't get Valve to implement proper return policy for normal products in their service yet there's anyone willingly giving them chance to sell highly risky stuff? It's madness.

If Valve wants it's cut from crowdfunding pie, they have means to launch another service, using different launcher for the games there, if any. Even then, I'd prefer some control over from them since as the parent company would also have the biggest digital games distribution platform, which might make getting there bit easier for stuff funded this way. Letting these companies release whatever whenever they want proves again and again to screw over customers and Valve needs to start taking their share of responsibility in this seriously.

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This is straight-up an abuse of the early access system.

There are probably a lot of valid claims made against DF about the sad way this game is going down, but this is none of them.

Indeed, DF was making a game in absolutely the true Early Access spirit. Funded by customers, closed down when funds ran out. According to the Early Access FAQ, even the last update would have been optional and there's no actual need to finish the game on the developer's side. According to the Early Access FAQ, the sole reason you buy the game is to play it in an unfinished state. Early Access says: you've had your fun with the game already when you bought it, you can't actually ask for more.

The Early Access system can not be "abused", because going on Early Access means total freedom from responsibility in the first place. Your idea of a "fraud" is simply proven false by the Early Access terms & conditions.

If you'd say these conditions are irresponsible and games shouldn't be made that way, I say I absolutely agree. I don't think there should be Early Access, and I say it encourages irresponsible game development. Just using it might be irresponsible as well, but setting the service up is the real insult.

DoubleFine is now a great argument against early access.

Correction - Double Fine now HAS a great argument against Early Access.

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If you'd say these conditions are irresponsible and games shouldn't be made that way, I say I absolutely agree. I don't think there should be Early Access, and I say it encourages irresponsible game development. Just using it might be irresponsible as well, but setting the service up is the real insult.

I agree with you on this.

I suppose I'm angry at Double Fine for hurting the image of how I believe Early Access should be, rather than how it technically is -- to those who actually read the legal documentation rather than simply go along with the marketing.\

However, I think that once you say, "Well, we're legally covered, if you read the fine print," you've lost. You're falling back on your last line of defense, and your customers will think less of you.

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I understand the inherent risks of early access, and consider it a gamble to assist a game reaching market that might not otherwise.

I do not, however, believe it was ethical to pay investors back with early access purchases while funds for the remainder of development were obviously not secured. Subsequently releasing an unfinished game while the investors walk away complete strikes me as very sleazy.

Was this a mistake on DF's part? Is it common procedure for DF games? Will it continue to be?

To me this is the crux of the issue and I would very much like an answer.

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I'm incredibly disappointed in how Double Fine managed this. I'm not going to accept "lack of communication" as an excuse, communication was a promise that was repeatedly brought up. "Lack of communication" isn't something new, there's so many games out there that have died to lack of communication and so many that do well with frequent communication that there's no excuse for being ignorant of its importance. Quite frankly that's bullshit, Tim.

I loved the project and was eager to see it become something more, and this sure as hell is not a 1.0 release. I don't need to reserve judgement because you've already listed what features are coming in, none of them improve the game for those of us who have already played the game. The game is not ready for release, period.

This combined with the standoffish attitude towards fans recently and other recent financial disasters has greatly strained my faith in Double Fine. I don't know what to tell you except to find someone who can actually manage money so that your exceptionally creative team can actually afford to do what they want.

I'm done backing Double Fine's stuff until I can have some assurances that these all-too-frequent money mismanagement issues have been fixed.

So here's my question: how is Double Fine going to prevent something like this from happening again?

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I've been trying to pinpoint some of my feelings on this. Disappointment is definitely there, but to me this is a problem that can happen with any company, big or small.

So I work in the beer industry up where I am and there's a particular brewery. They have a few really, really solid beers out. Aside from that they have an ongoing experimental series, where practically every month they put out a new kind of beer. Wheat wine, ginger beer, etc. All different and interesting flavours with incredible packaging. The problem is...the beers aren't very good. And it's one of those instances where they were so focused on coming out with so many beers as quick as possible and settling for "good enough" that it never hit them to hold back, take a good long look at one of their beers, and tweak it to make it a freakin' GREAT beer that would be worth writing about with praise.

And that's what I think happened here. Double Fine has a lot of things going on with, it seems, a lot of people who are wearing different hats at the same time and DF-9 got lost in the shuffle with all that. Plus I think it's a classic example of one of the problems with Early Access. You can have these huge, big, awesome plans for a game, but in the end you're faced with the realities of budget, time, and other responsibilities. While I feel it could have been managed better, I hesitate to call this a rookie mistake since Early Access still has some uncharted territory. Even the big guys can screw up.

I will still gladly buy Double Fine games. They haven't lost me. I get that mistakes can happen.

All that said, I hope for two things:

1. They give a mea culpa statement. Admitting that it wasn't how it panned out would be great.

2. And this one is important to me: Maybe invest a bit of money on some tutorials on how to use the code to enhance the game? I'm not in to coding at all and with a few DF games that have put the source code out, it'd be great to learn how to use it. I'm not asking for anything fancy, just some tutorials specific to the game with some links to further learning on how to code. This'll also help get people in to game making.

Anyways, that's my two cents.

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2. And this one is important to me: Maybe invest a bit of money on some tutorials on how to use the code to enhance the game? I'm not in to coding at all and with a few DF games that have put the source code out, it'd be great to learn how to use it. I'm not asking for anything fancy, just some tutorials specific to the game with some links to further learning on how to code. This'll also help get people in to game making.

Anyways, that's my two cents.

Yeah that would be great since nobody else really needs the basic tutorial, because dying, repeating and learning was the basic point of fun in this game... since there were no deeper mechanics or story quests or anything. I would have wished that at least a little bit of fantastic humour would be in the game... because that was what I expected when I bought a game from Double Fine which is lead by Ron Gilbert and Tim Schaefer... and I am still a huge fan of Monkey Island and its humour.

Guess there is now a dark shadow of disappointment over this childhood memory now :/

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2. And this one is important to me: Maybe invest a bit of money on some tutorials on how to use the code to enhance the game? I'm not in to coding at all and with a few DF games that have put the source code out, it'd be great to learn how to use it. I'm not asking for anything fancy, just some tutorials specific to the game with some links to further learning on how to code. This'll also help get people in to game making.

Anyways, that's my two cents.

Yeah that would be great since nobody else really needs the basic tutorial, because dying, repeating and learning was the basic point of fun in this game... since there were no deeper mechanics or story quests or anything. I would have wished that at least a little bit of fantastic humour would be in the game... because that was what I expected when I bought a game from Double Fine which is lead by Ron Gilbert and Tim Schaefer... and I am still a huge fan of Monkey Island and its humour.

Guess there is now a dark shadow of disappointment over this childhood memory now :/

I might be misreading, but it sounds like your mistaking what I mean. I'm not talking about tutorial on how to play the game, I'm talking tutorial on how to get in to the guts of the game and make additions.

For both this and Hack 'n Slash DF has made a big deal of giving players the source code. A problem, for me anyways, is I don't know how to use it to mess with the game. Just saying a small reach out to non-coders for a VERY brief how-to followed up by links on further reading would be awesome and may very well encourage a growth in game makers!

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And reading it again, it looks like I did misread it. But also wanted to respond to this:

"Guess there is now a dark shadow of disappointment over this childhood memory now :/"

That's the thing about people you look up to. They're just as human as us all and are capable of making mistakes just like anyone else. I feel like so many people have this (justified) high standard with Double Fine because Tim was such a huge part of our childhoods. But the dude doesn't know everything and especially when you're getting in to the realms of Early Access or other areas where the gaming industry is just getting in to, mistakes are going to happen.

If there's one thing that Double Fine Adventure has taught me it's that the games at Double Fine are made by human beings who love games. Sometimes a project pans out and it's a hit, other times it doesn't work out. If they've learned something from this, I'm cool with holding off on the internet overreactions and accepting them for making a mistake because nothing is absolutely perfect and even Double Fine are capable of not getting it right.

Sorry. I guess the crowd of "I'll never buy a DF game again" comments are getting to me.

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And reading it again, it looks like I did misread it. But also wanted to respond to this:

"Guess there is now a dark shadow of disappointment over this childhood memory now :/"

That's the thing about people you look up to. They're just as human as us all and are capable of making mistakes just like anyone else. I feel like so many people have this (justified) high standard with Double Fine because Tim was such a huge part of our childhoods. But the dude doesn't know everything and especially when you're getting in to the realms of Early Access or other areas where the gaming industry is just getting in to, mistakes are going to happen.

If there's one thing that Double Fine Adventure has taught me it's that the games at Double Fine are made by human beings who love games. Sometimes a project pans out and it's a hit, other times it doesn't work out. If they've learned something from this, I'm cool with holding off on the internet overreactions and accepting them for making a mistake because nothing is absolutely perfect and even Double Fine are capable of not getting it right.

Sorry. I guess the crowd of "I'll never buy a DF game again" comments are getting to me.

It wasn't about the people who made the game, I was sad about not getting to see the sort of humor again ;)

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My take on it all. Final personal comment. My personal opinions only.

It’s not that they had to discontinue the development process which makes me feel disappointed and angry (as a backer and a player). What makes me feel disappointed and angry is that they should’ve told us right from the start that “This game needs to make X dollars by Y date in order for us to finish its development”.

This was never done, and never even hinted at — the proposed future-feature discussions tacitly suggested that these were the plans for the development of the game as it currently existed.

No one knew that there was a specific profit target which needed to be met before we would see the finished game. Gamers being gamers, it’s possible that some of us who really liked what the game was becoming, might have offered further money, almost like an impromptu Kickstarter. I know I would've kicked in, because I wanted to see the kind of game made which the devs were originally trying to make.

The small dev team were all hardworking, friendly, communicative sorts; it was clear that they loved this project too. I don't fault them.

As for Tim Schaefer and the Double Fine business folks, I don’t think there was any intentional malice behind this decision — but there was a lot of ignorance, poor communication, and oblivity toward the needs and the loyalty of the alpha supporters.

“Bad form, Smee. Bad form”

Listlurker out.

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My take on it all. Final personal comment. My personal opinions only.

It’s not that they had to discontinue the development process which makes me feel disappointed and angry (as a backer and a player). What makes me feel disappointed and angry is that they should’ve told us right from the start that “This game needs to make X dollars by Y date in order for us to finish its development”.

This was never done, and never even hinted at — the proposed future-feature discussions tacitly suggested that these were the plans for the development of the game as it currently existed.

No one knew that there was a specific profit target which needed to be met before we would see the finished game. Gamers being gamers, it’s possible that some of us who really liked what the game was becoming, might have offered further money, almost like an impromptu Kickstarter. I know I would've kicked in, because I wanted to see the kind of game made which the devs were originally trying to make.

The small dev team were all hardworking, friendly, communicative sorts; it was clear that they loved this project too. I don't fault them.

As for Tim Schaefer and the Double Fine business folks, I don’t think there was any intentional malice behind this decision — but there was a lot of ignorance, poor communication, and oblivity toward the needs and the loyalty of the alpha supporters.

“Bad form, Smee. Bad form”

Listlurker out.

What really frustrates me is that they PROMISED lots of communication, they knew how important communication was, there's a bajillion other game devs who have no community management experience but still manage to handle communicaiton well enough, and yet DOUBLE FINE of all studios uses the "we underestimated the importance of communication" excuse. Bull. Shit.

And it's not like this was a one-off promise, it wasn't that long ago that we were promised more communication because they had gone silent! We still didn't hear about any of this until just recently. We were being given a bunch of bullshit.

The wagon-circling with some diehard fans defending the game because we should have known better about Early Access just adds salt to the wounds. Also it just adds salt.

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Well. here is my issue about all this. The main thing that chaps my ass the worst. Linux. Ever since Alpha 6, it has been completely unplayable. And yet. Somehow. They consider this horrid performance on the operating system ready for release. They are "bug fixing" or whatever and then shipping it without any more testers.

There is a reason you go from alpha to beta to release:

Alpha- Broken. Barely Playable. Few features. Add new features.

Beta- Has most the features the game will have. Consistent performance. Bug fixing and final prep to release.

I feel as if they have decided "Fuck this game. Fuck the community. Fuck Linux especially".

Well I wish I could go back in time and smack myself before I ever invested money in any of DF's kickstarters and whatnot. I really wish I could.

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Well. here is my issue about all this. The main thing that chaps my ass the worst. Linux. Ever since Alpha 6, it has been completely unplayable. And yet. Somehow. They consider this horrid performance on the operating system ready for release. They are "bug fixing" or whatever and then shipping it without any more testers.

There is a reason you go from alpha to beta to release:

Alpha- Broken. Barely Playable. Few features. Add new features.

Beta- Has most the features the game will have. Consistent performance. Bug fixing and final prep to release.

I feel as if they have decided "Fuck this game. Fuck the community. Fuck Linux especially".

Well I wish I could go back in time and smack myself before I ever invested money in any of DF's kickstarters and whatnot. I really wish I could.

You should look into the other part of of this forum (not the general discussion), the technical issue and bugfixing part. DF Matt said they are just right now looking into this issue. I don't expect this company to achieve anything of what they are talking about anymore, but it is POSSIBLE that this MAYBE gets fixed. Just saying

The thread about the LINUX-performance is probably the top one (under the sticky threads)

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Well. here is my issue about all this. The main thing that chaps my ass the worst. Linux. Ever since Alpha 6, it has been completely unplayable. And yet. Somehow. They consider this horrid performance on the operating system ready for release. They are "bug fixing" or whatever and then shipping it without any more testers.

There is a reason you go from alpha to beta to release:

Alpha- Broken. Barely Playable. Few features. Add new features.

Beta- Has most the features the game will have. Consistent performance. Bug fixing and final prep to release.

I feel as if they have decided "Fuck this game. Fuck the community. Fuck Linux especially".

Well I wish I could go back in time and smack myself before I ever invested money in any of DF's kickstarters and whatnot. I really wish I could.

You should look into the other part of of this forum (not the general discussion), the technical issue and bugfixing part. DF Matt said they are just right now looking into this issue. I don't expect this company to achieve anything of what they are talking about anymore, but it is POSSIBLE that this MAYBE gets fixed. Just saying

The thread about the LINUX-performance is probably the top one (under the sticky threads)

But you get the idiocy. For the entire past release of the game. It has been UNPLAYABLE. And yet. soomeehow. This is appropriate to release without any testing at all. It is blatantely obvious they weren't testing it to begin with on linux. And now with the fact it is "finished".. Just complete bull.

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But you get the idiocy. For the entire past release of the game. It has been UNPLAYABLE. And yet. soomeehow. This is appropriate to release without any testing at all. It is blatantely obvious they weren't testing it to begin with on linux. And now with the fact it is "finished".. Just complete bull.

As a fellow Linux user, I can totally see where you're coming from. From what I can see, earlier versions got more internal Linux testing than later versions.

If we're to believe what we've been told though, your assertion that the game is "finished" overlooks all the bug fixing that they've said they'll do between now and released. We haven't yet seen what the "finished" game looks like or how it performs on Linux, and we don't know what level of testing is going to occur before release (I agree that it feels like there's not a lot of time remaining for that sort of thing, but I'd rather judge the updated game when I get my hands on it).

The lack of priority for Linux to date has definitely been super disappointing, but it seems important to also acknowledge that they're unhappy with the situation and plan to resolve it (link).

Hey guys, sorry for the slow response. We're looking into Linux performance right now. Yes, it is unacceptable to us as well. :)

But yeah, if there's learning to be had here, I hope that giving Linux equal footing with other platforms so far as user experience goes will be a priority for future projects.

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I know you guys ran out of money, and that sucks.

But the entire operation was mismanaged, and as someone who bought the game, it was a little offensive to just blame it on 'we ran out of money.'

Admit the game was grossly mismanaged from the get, that it never really met the expectations it set in terms of updates- that's is what is called an apology.

But I don't want to hear that you ran out of money, because you saw the amount of money you made when the project was approved. If you can't budget the game you promised on that (with modest projections for future purchases) that's your mistake.

You did fuck the customer here. Just to clear. It wasn't intentional, but you guys screwed up and now we won't get what we paid for.

C'est la vie, it's a game. No big deal. But that 'apology' was bogus.

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But you get the idiocy. For the entire past release of the game. It has been UNPLAYABLE. And yet. soomeehow. This is appropriate to release without any testing at all. It is blatantely obvious they weren't testing it to begin with on linux. And now with the fact it is "finished".. Just complete bull.

As a fellow Linux user, I can totally see where you're coming from. From what I can see, earlier versions got more internal Linux testing than later versions.

If we're to believe what we've been told though, your assertion that the game is "finished" overlooks all the bug fixing that they've said they'll do between now and released. We haven't yet seen what the "finished" game looks like or how it performs on Linux, and we don't know what level of testing is going to occur before release (I agree that it feels like there's not a lot of time remaining for that sort of thing, but I'd rather judge the updated game when I get my hands on it).

The lack of priority for Linux to date has definitely been super disappointing, but it seems important to also acknowledge that they're unhappy with the situation and plan to resolve it (link).

Well. That is the thing. The entire last release has been completely unplayable. This makes it obvious they can't handle testing of their games themselves if they can't even respond to the community ALPHA testing that is going on. All they have to really do is fix our issues, and if they had a more consice bugchecking method we could even be more involved in that regard. But I digress.

Anyways. I wouldn't have anything to complain about if they just called this the "Beta" release or something. Stop adding features, but fix the bugs and get it ready for a proper release. Not.. Rushing an unfinished POS that isn't even playable through to the finish lines.

You know what I feel like is going to happen for linux/mac users? They will get even more fucked than everyone else. They will get their "finished copy" but it will be so broken it would be better to install a BSOD emulator on your machine. But then. Game is finished right? Nope. Day one releae patch to get the game working? Suure. That is totally responsible. Even though they already had a great potential period to fix the bugs called.. BETA.

If they had just gone with that. I wouldn't really be able to complain. But at this point it is just a money grab in my books. Few added features and not even fixing the unplayable beta 6. Just leave it copmletely broken and release full game.

NOTHING CAN GO WRONG

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