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DF JP LeBreton

Spacebase project lead on 1.0

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That's not my intention. Let's also not pretend that moderators didn't do a pretty horrific job yesterday excising posts into closed topics left and right.

If you want open discussion and to state they're just other members whose opinion doesn't hold more weight than the rest of us, perhaps don't involve yourself personally in the arguments going on and then settle matters with forum edits.

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It's okay to feel disappointed and angry about this. I'm pretty disappointed myself. But let's try to not take it out on other forum members for giving their own view on things, okay?

Completely agree. The thing is, most of the moderators should also acknowledge that it is indeed "okay to feel disappointed", instead of desperately trying to convince everyone that everything is fine and 1.0 is going to be awesome, because at that point it's just blatant wishful thinking and, for those of us trying to consider the whole matter rationally, a bit annoying.

The game will be released in a hopefully somewhat bug-free state, but definitely unfinished and no amount of blind faith will change that. Double Fine is still one of my most beloved developers out there, because of their overall nice and open attitude and their undeniable talent and creativity, but they screwed up big time there with DF9 and people have the right to be pissed off, and they should tell them.

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It's okay to feel disappointed and angry about this. I'm pretty disappointed myself. But let's try to not take it out on other forum members for giving their own view on things, okay?
Completely agree. The thing is, most of the moderators should also acknowledge that it is indeed "okay to feel disappointed", instead of desperately trying to convince everyone that everything is fine and 1.0 is going to be awesome, because at that point it's just blatant wishful thinking and, for those of us trying to consider the whole matter rationally, a bit annoying.
Of course it's OK to be disappointed. I've said tons of times that it's OK to debate, as long as you remain civil.

Frankly, I'm disappointed too, as I would have liked to have seen those features in the game. But, having worked in game development myself I know first hand that cutting content is a situation that happens more often than not in game development, and I personally think that Double Fine coming right out and saying that they are polishing the game up for release, but aren't adding new features and will officially allow fans to release mods is a good thing (instead of say, pretending that game development went smooth, like Knights of the Old Republic II, where tons of content was cut due to the game being forced to be rushed for a Christmas release, and fans had to use unofficial tools to extend the game to where the developers wanted it to be). This is especially true considering that the game development is public, which is not really something that game developers usually want people to see, as game development usually doesn't go the way you want, as Broken Age and Spacebase DF-9 have shown.

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You're trying to tell us, that DOUBLE FINE cannot acquire an additional $500,000 in investment to permit four people to work another year on the game which would bring it up to a state that should realize its potential and a more legitimate 1.0 release?

JP as lead developer, you are the producer, it shouldn't be entirely out of your hands. Furthermore, based on the press release and developers comments, it would seem that no additional avenues of funding have even been pursued?

Let's not kid ourselves. This game needs several more major updates to be viably considered a 1.0 release that realizes the games potential. Six major updates from an overly bare bones Early Access launch is not going to get the game to the real finish line. The fact that all updates are denoted as 'alpha' validates this.

As noted by PC Gamer this month: "I like Spacebase, but often in spite of it. The variables are off right now. I'm optimistic, though—a few more big updates and it could be really special."

DF-9 has potentially wider appeal than any game Double Fine has ever made, but releasing now is just shooting yourself in the foot and damaging Double Fine in the eyes of the many people that have financially supported you in recent years and the belief you can deliver on a game once it goes into full development. I backed Massive Chalice on Kickstarter even though there was nothing but a concept; something I only did because it was Double Fine. I've backed around forty titles, and every other pitch was well into development, usually already at an alpha state.

I hope there's more frank communication as to the sudden release of Spacebase DF-9, not just from you JP, but management and Tim too.

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Of course it's OK to be disappointed. I've said tons of times that it's OK to debate, as long as you remain civil.

Frankly, I'm disappointed too, as I would have liked to have seen those features in the game. But, having worked in game development myself I know first hand that cutting content is a situation that happens more often than not in game development, and I personally think that Double Fine coming right out and saying that they've had to scrap features and officially allowing fans to release mods is a good thing (instead of say, pretending that game development went smooth, like Knights of the Old Republic II, where tons of content was cut due to the game being forced to be rushed for a Christmas release, and fans had to use unofficial tools to extend the game to where the developers wanted it to be). This is especially true considering that the game development is public, which is not really something that game developers usually want people to see, as game development usually doesn't go the way you want, as Broken Age and Spacebase DF-9 have shown.

The difference with DF9 on that point, is that early access customers had already paid for the game. As in: the final game as it was teased during the alpha. Of course, no promises were made, but let's not fool ourselves: we didn't invest in a game engine with nice graphics where most of the content is left for us to add in. We got into early access with the hope of eventually getting our hands on a real game.

It's a totally different thing to KOTOR2, where you were presented with the already rushed out game, and could make the informed decision whether you wanted to buy it or not. When you're giving up on a community funded game, you should expect the community to feel given up on too, and rightly so.

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Okay before this discussion slips away to opinions on Tropico 4, I wanna tell you my opinion on this:

First, I want to thank you for at least giving us a sign that you devs are reading the threads here and giving us a little bit of an answer.

Still... JP is presenting this like this was all out of his control... Which is not exactly right, because I assume that he is the leading producer of this game and in some parts, he carries the responsibility for these resources. I just wanna make clear from the beginning that for this type of game the budget resource and the time are exactly the same thing, because the money earned with sales defines how long the developers can work. There is another kind of resource, which is called human "resources" and means how many people are working on the project. Since Max Schaefer and Ron Gilbert are the heads behind this company they may have decided how many people were distributed to this project. Besides this fact, he seems to be the leading producer for this game and could have asked for additional programmers. He clearly failed the communication with the community (the "road to 1.0” was a PR disaster as we all experienced) and he probably - and that is just an assumption from me - failed to make the work on the project efficient. This doesn't necessarily means that the developers were lazy, but there were no exact timelines from what I have seen and the producer seemed undecided to whether fix bugs or add content which ended up in total confusion and unefficient work. I also wonder if JP is an authoritan producement leader, because there wasn't much content in the last updates which was even barely working when released and it just seemed to me that the team was working as undecided as the devplan was structured - without any timelines… till now.

He (JP) also still isn't able to call this project a failed one and to take responsibility for any of his or his teams failures as you can see from his post today. He still doesn't say sorry for anything once!!! ... but lists up the achievments of this project and says thanks to everybody supporting it. Sounds more like a defensive juristification to me.

This project has clearly told us that DoubleFine has one weak point, or project leading point... which is communication.

There are several examples of this point which I can just sum up here:

1. No published time management or timeline goal plan for this project.

2. The financial position of this game was left unclear.

3. The devs tried to keep the financial position unclear behind our backs AND tried to get some money in with sales....

4. ...instead of asking us to create more social content or make vocal advertisement for this game....or introducing more expensive game versions... or telling us about the problems and arrange a crowd funding to finish this development...WHICH is now not longer possible, because JP made this impossible with a "statement" that totally gave us the wrong impression of how we are treated by DF as customers and how much information we get from the development site. You can see the massive result in the forums on DF.com or on Steam. People are furious about this and deny to EVER buy a Double Fine game again.

5. The community was not included into the development. I understand that not every feature would have found it's way into this game, but it would have been a nice thing for example to select the possible ones from the dev's site and let us chose which ones we would like to have the most.

6. Setting people as Moderators who are not able to see a situation from an objective point of view and function as a communication tool between the working developers and the community, rather than just speaking for the company or defend it. Most of the current ones were totally uninformed about the development process and were just having a positive view on the situation instead of a realistic or neutral one. = They tried to talk like everything will turn into a positive thing, instead of listing possible things and they were unable to give us real information, since you didn't include them into the development process.

I can continue this list, but I don't really feel like it since it is too late now anyway.

From a selling point of view I can just say that sales really seemed to go down when Chris Remo leaved Double Fine. Just look at 2 (!!!) of his posts and you can see how important his work was for the marketing and popularity of this game. These two threads are the 2 most popular ones in the past: "Post your spacebases" and "Post your Let's Plays".... and there was nobody who did take his role and... JP is not so good with PR work unfortunately.

The sadness of the community is resulting of this, because you should be able to expect a certain communication and management skill from a company like this and if you look on how many people were distributed on this project, which person was chosen to manage it and on how the management was done without anyone watching it, you can also blame the big bosses, Max Schaefer and Ron Gilbert, themselves.

Dear JP: I don’t want you to lose your job at DF or insult you on any level. I would just advise to give someone else the lead on projects like this and work as a programmer in the project instead, motivate you to act more authorial, or give somebody else the responsibility to manage the community communication part, while you take the production lead. So please understand this as constructive criticism.

Closing this: I will not be really fine with the result of this project, since I don’t think that the time will be enough to fix all the bugs and add content that makes the game worth playing over a longer time, nor do I think that the community is willing to help DF selling this game by producing content for it… and I don’t think that the “long-term-goals” will change much, since we have heared no examples for them. I expect them to be something like: “Get to 200 citizens” or something like that… maybe with a little bit more funny words. Nevertheless… I don’t expect to get any monetary refunds for this game, since I decided to support it with my money, but I would be very happy if DoubleFine would give us access to at least one of their finished projects as an alternative and says sorry with it at least one time… that’s my dream :)

P.S. I think this game will exactly end up as a game "developed in a decade", because the game isn't completed yet and I don't think that the community will create the content so fast...

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You're trying to tell us, that DOUBLE FINE cannot acquire an additional $500,000 in investment to permit four people to work another year on the game which would bring it up to a state that should realize its potential and a more legitimate 1.0 release?

$500K is a lot of money though and even though Double Fine has made several "favourite games" none of their games have been big financial successes for the company, as is known from several articles and the DFA documentary. They would need external funding and putting that much more money into something they're not sure will generate that many more sales to justify the investment is a huge risk.

DF-9 has potentially wider appeal than any game Double Fine has ever made, but releasing now is just shooting yourself in the foot and damaging Double Fine in the eyes of the many people that have financially supported you in recent years and the belief you can deliver on a game once it goes into full development. I backed Massive Chalice on Kickstarter even though there was nothing but a concept; something I only did because it was Double Fine.

I thought and still hope that Massive Chalice might be that one golden ticket for Double Fine that becomes enough of a hit for them to become self-sufficient financially. It's a game that's a bit outside my own comfort zone but I still backed it, it looks cool and I think it has potential to become a mainstream hit.

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The sad part about this is that no one is disappointed because of the poor quality of this project, we're disappointed because it's been a promising start with real progress and now it's being scuttled too soon.

And if Double Fine continued active development after 1.0, this wouldn't be such a big deal, and if they planned to do that, it might even sell well to justify that, but now you're just selling an unfinished game that will forever remain unfinished and calling it 1.0, and no one is going to buy it. It's foolish commercially, not just ethically.

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i have to agree with people telling this game had more expectations, man i had more hopes on this game than dfa aka broken age if you look at stats for these kind of games with a theme like this tend to sell a lot , i think higher pricing of the game killed its potential no one was going to risk that much money for a early access game , i don't think the game went anywhere cheaper during the sales either.

I really feel bad for jp , maybe if the game was priced more competitively along with the lines of something like terraria and starbound and maybe if the game had gone on better discounts, i don't recall the game being picked up by game sites either for good views. Lots of way to market the game were ignored.

I hope the community pick up the game from the source code and the do something via steam workshop.

Would it be fair , if people who bought the game start to ask for refunds ? seeing how the bomb was dropped on them so sudden ?

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Favorite part of this thread: seeing all the usernames (mods) i've never seen in the rest of the treads of this forum having super positive things to say about the project we love(and spent real money on) so fucking much being dropped in the shitter with as much grace as the words i just used.

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Favorite part of this thread: seeing all the usernames (mods) i've never seen in the rest of the treads of this forum having super positive things to say about the project we love(and spent real money on) so fucking much being dropped in the shitter with as much grace as the words i just used.

The community moderation team was assembled very recently. One factor that came into play when we were selecting people was the areas that they were active in. It's possible that you'd spotted them before they got their mod tag :)

This isn't the right thread for that discussion though. There's another one over here if you want to chime in.

Slightly back on topic, I imagine that this news has brought a lot of people into the forums who were comfortable sitting on the sidelines.

I put my own money behind the game, backing at one of the higher tiers. I'm super disappointed that development isn't continuing off into the sunset. I see a lot of potential in the vision behind this project. That said, I'd rather use my passion to make the best of (and improve if possible) the situation.

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I also put my own money in this project, at one of the higher tiers as well. I'm disappointed that not all of the features went into the final release, but I understand that it's not always possible to put every proposed feature into the final game, I like the game that we got so far, and I'm looking forward to see the changes that 1.0 brings (plus I'm looking forward to digging into the sourcecode).

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Favorite part of this thread: seeing all the usernames (mods) i've never seen in the rest of the treads of this forum having super positive things to say about the project we love(and spent real money on) so fucking much being dropped in the shitter with as much grace as the words i just used.

I've followed this project very closely. I was there for Alpha 1, well above the base tier, and I've been keeping track of the progress at every step of the way. I haven't played the game very much, because I took a decision to stop playing until the development was a bit farther along. Actually, alpha 6 was going to be where I would jump in again, based on the new features, but I decided to wait a bit as there are always bugfixes. As soon as I heard about v1.0 though I decided I'd just wait for that.

I may not have been particularly active on this forum, but that doesn't mean I'm not invested in the project, and it doesn't mean I haven't just as much right to have an opinion on it as you do.

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I just want to say that JP had a great idea with this, and I think it's a solid first project.

Your game will be tainted by the poor planning of someone (business people? you?), but the game itself is fun.

Thanks.

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Hey! I too have a couple of very good ideas for hypothetical video games, and they won't cost you a dime. Are you going to thank me too? :)

Seriously though, like I said I like Double Fine as much as any other guy that grew up playing the old LuscasFilms/Lucasarts games, and the DF games that made it to PC. I like the guys and what they do, but the last thing they need right now is a gentle pat on the back. They screwed up. It can happen to the best of us, but when you do screw up, and you're not a 4 year old anymore, you don't need words of encouragement. You need people to tell you where you failed and point it out clearly so that you don't make the same mistake again.

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I agree with you; I think they really screwed this up, and I've made that clear in other threads. They were horrible communicators on this and effectively robbed consumers through this poor communication.

If that was JP's fault, let him burn. If not, he did a good job. That's all.

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To get back on the great idea part of your first comment, I think most of the anger coming from the community is because it was, indeed, a brilliant idea for a video game. And it really hurts to see it left to eventually fade into oblivion, because who would want to pay $25 for a game that you have to finish yourself?

You can't rely on the community alone to make a great game. Some times, talented users band together and create awesome community content for a game they love, and everyone benefits from that. But there has to be a game first, that people can enjoy and enthuse about before they eventually get to work and create something great.

I might be wrong, but I don't see SPDF9 as it is, or even by extension 1.0, being able to generate enough traction to get that kind of good will from its community. Or even get a big enough community in the first place.

I'd love to be proven wrong, though. :)

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Hey! I too have a couple of very good ideas for hypothetical video games, and they won't cost you a dime. Are you going to thank me too? :)

Seriously though, like I said I like Double Fine as much as any other guy that grew up playing the old LuscasFilms/Lucasarts games, and the DF games that made it to PC. I like the guys and what they do, but the last thing they need right now is a gentle pat on the back. They screwed up. It can happen to the best of us, but when you do screw up, and you're not a 4 year old anymore, you don't need words of encouragement. You need people to tell you where you failed and point it out clearly so that you don't make the same mistake again.

A very good point, but don't forget that these people maybe had good intentions and on the other side it is maybe on our side of responsibility to avoid insults and stay rational. I share your opinion, but we shouldn't forget they are humans as well. I wouldn't sleep well if I would be in the position of Tim Schaefer right now. Responsibility for people and thousands of dollars really makes you sick.

... But I guess I told them already enough about my opinion on communication, even though I am not sure if they read it. You can find it here: http://www.doublefine.com/forums/viewthread/14956/P50/

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We've had plenty of people telling them where they went wrong, and still do. I don't see the problem with saying that even though we're kind of bummed out that they did screw up, we know they tried their best to make the best of a bad situation.

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We've had plenty of people telling them where they went wrong, and still do. I don't see the problem with saying that even though we're kind of bummed out that they did screw up, we know they tried their best to make the best of a bad situation.

They tried their best to make the best of a bad situation by sugarcoating things and pretending they didn't cop out on consumers without communicating with them?

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Has Tim not been answering questions here and on the Steam forums? That must have been some other Tim Schafer, I guess. You're right then. They're not communicating. That was just some other dude pretending to be the head of the company.

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We're talking about the months of radio-silence and then the sugarcoated press release, not the damage control. No need to be salty, KestrelPi.

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We're talking about the months of radio-silence and then the sugarcoated press release, not the damage control. No need to be salty, KestrelPi.
Why on earth do you think it's me talking?

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We're talking about the months of radio-silence and then the sugarcoated press release, not the damage control. No need to be salty, KestrelPi.
Yeah, I'm the one who's salty. xD

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So far Tim's been exceptionally selective as to what questions he's answered on the Steam forums. Until he starts answering the ones that people are more significantly interested in getting a firm response to, this backlash isn't going to go away. You can't pick and choose your battles when you screw the pooch like this.

At this point the only damage control that Tim should be feasibly considering is if DoubleFine can afford to tell Valve to authorise refunds or steam credits or to issue free copies (or at the total least a single 90% voucher off any current or future Doublefine game, yes, that includes ones due to be released, put your manpants on and take the financial hit for this) to purchasers of DF-9 so they at least feel like they can get some kind of closure on the whole mess.

Anything less than that and frankly Tim, Doublefine and the dev team deserve everything they're getting. From TotalBiscuit, from the Steam Forums, from reddit, from wherever it comes from at this point. You don't go out and make excuses, you don't try and reason away the problem. There's five words people -need- to hear at this point :

"We're sorry. We screwed up."

And at that point, the next step is to actively work to make things better, and repair the bridges burnt.

Anything less than that is meaningless handwaving.

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I may have been the one to misunderstand things, but when I bought the game it seemed pretty clear to me that the idea of buying an EA game was that you were paying for the game in its current state to fund further development, and that if too few people paid for EA, development could not continue. Like, that's what EA means, as a development-funding method.

Given which, I'm not sure what it is you think they screwed up.

They did raise almost half a million dollars to finance development—and used it prior to the EA release. And paid it back to their investors. And made something between $0 and another half million more since paying it back—we don't know how much they've earned from EA sales, we don't know how much of DF's own money they've invested in supporting Spacebase DF-9's development, above and beyond EA income, all we know is that they've passed a point where they can afford to continue investing in it.

From the statements I've read, it seems clear that a) without EA sales, they knew they might have to make Alpha 1 into their v1.0 and that each released version might be next-to-last dependent on EA sales (and I'm not sure how you all didn't get that), b) in order to achieve all the goals & plans JP had for the game they would need to bring in a bit over $2.5 million (after paying their investors back), and that they went into the process on the basis of potentially earning that much strictly from EA sales (again, this part was calculable/open-knowledge at the Alpha 1 stage of release), and c) they actually earned somewhat less than $0.5 million from EA sales (after paying their investors back).

I don't claim to know what the actual scale of the market for this sort of game is (I've never played anything like it, and wouldn't have considered it with another theme / from another developer) but it seems reasonable to me that, if in a year and a half your game earns between $0.5 million and $1.0 million (total), and sales are slowing, that the odds of earning another $2 million (even with a "finished" game) are not good. Same reason they can't just go raise more money from investors. If anyone thought this game could earn another $2+ million, they wouldn't have needed to try EA at all. The market isn't there. The sales don't exist to support $3 million of production values, so we get what $1 million buys.

If there was a screw-up, it was taking a risk on the game at all. Not in using the EA system to intelligently scale the scope of the game with the financial support it receives.

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Double Fine is not a random fly-by-night indie dev and we are not going to silently pull the plug on Spacebase or any other in-development project. Doing so would be disastrous for our reputation and it would kill us emotionally ;____;

Wow, that just sums up the situation going on right now. How about an ACTUAL explanation of what happened behind the scenes? We payed the early access price and trusted DoubleFine to COMPLETE the game. We didn't expect to have the "development" thrusted on the buyers and being told "hey, you guys can finish it now". What happened to the devplan? What happened to the beta stage? How can ANY game go from Alpha 6 to a "finished" 1.0? Definitely going to be wary before supporting another DoubleFine game.

THIS. This a thousand times over. The idea that you guys expected Spacebase to earn a profit or break even BEFORE you actually released this game is scary. It makes your future potential consumers wary of your future products. In business, particularly video games, you're supposed to invest your time and money in a product in order to make the best product possible BEFORE you release it. Then the hope is that you'll make money, if the product is good enough. Risk/reward: ever heard of it? It really does make me wary of the mentality that DF seems to currently have on this basic business concept.

And as far as the "would be disastrous for our reputation" part...yea, that's pretty much happened. I'm sure your Costume Quest 2 sales were hurt as a result. And I wouldn't be surprised if the Massive Chalice and Broken Age sales once Act 2 are released are also hurt by this. It's sad that might be the case, especially considering that DF has been my favorite dev ever since Tim founded it...but, frankly, DF brought this on themselves. As they said, it "would be disastrous for our reputation"...even among your most loyal fans, like me.

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Has Tim not been answering questions here and on the Steam forums? That must have been some other Tim Schafer, I guess. You're right then. They're not communicating. That was just some other dude pretending to be the head of the company.

Communicating bad logic, bad reasoning, bad business sense, bad planning, etc., does not equal good communication. Screwing your loyal fans (who, really, likely make up 99% of the current Spacebase owners) and then giving them some illogical reasons as to why they got screwed does not suddenly make it better.

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