Arcen Games

Games => In Case Of Emergency, Release Raptor => Topic started by: x4000 on August 26, 2016, 10:00:17 PM

Title: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: x4000 on August 26, 2016, 10:00:17 PM
Original post: http://arcengames.com/time-for-some-straight-talk-release-raptor-is-being-pulled-and-refunded/

First up: as promised, Alpha 16 is now out.  This includes fixes, improved and extended AI, a new robot, and a minimap.

AVeryDarkAlley

In A Nutshell, What's Up?

I'm going to give all the customers of In Case of Emergency, Release Raptor a full refund and let them keep the game, then take the game off sale.  The game is selling extremely poorly, even below what happened with Starward Rogue.

Isn't Part Of Early Access "Don't Make A Game You Rely On EA Sales For?"

Yes, this is very true.  However, I stated upfront that our reason for doing EA with this game was partly as a market survey of sorts.  I felt like that would be a way of determining how big this game could get.  With Starward Rogue, and indeed some of our other past commercial failures, we put in everything and the kitchen sink and then there wasn't a market there.

I never expected that one option even on the table with this one would be "actually don't do it at all," because the premise is incredibly exciting to me and seemed like something other people would also be very interested in.  But just from the concept alone, we have a lot of pushback from press; and despite some quite positive coverage from some reasonably biggish youtubers, that isn't moving the needle at all.

We don't need Release Raptor to be our sole source of income, or even our largest one.  However, if it's going to be our largest expense it also has to vaguely earn its keep or at least show the promise that it will someday do so.  That's what is missing here.

Cicadabots

Why Not Just Build Out A Stripped-Down Version 1.0 That Is Worth $5?

I honestly don't think there's any way that a lot of people wouldn't be left grumbling at that.  I personally will also lose far more money trying to do that than I already am, and probably some of what little staff we have left would have to be released.  It's just far, far too risky.  I'd rather be known for honorably pulling a game than slapping a 1.0 sticker on something -- whether or not that experience is worth $5 or not, we both know the perception would be there.

So Are You Untrustworthy, Or What?

The immediate idea is probably to think "wow they delayed it a ton and then are possibly canceling it right after it comes into EA?"

My response to that is that this is exactly how you want a game company to comport itself.  I held back the game while I didn't feel like there was enough there for other people to catch the vision I have for what it would turn into.  I'm not going to take anybody's money and run; in fact, I'm going to eat a big fat loss out of it and you get a free game if you bought it.

You can certainly argue that I have overreached or have at least misjudged the market in several instances, but I'm not going to sell you a turd and call it ice cream.

1_MmSoda

Is Release Raptor A Bad Game?

I certainly don't think so, in any form.  I play it, and it gives me a feeling of joy.  I just love going through and doing things with the raptor.  It has an elemental fun factor to it that myself and a number of other people have reacted well to.  I thought that it would be enough to provide this, and then the promise of more enemies and tactics and whatnot (sheesh that's what we're known for, people ought to have some faith in THAT bit if nothing else).

That said, people have different degrees of warm feelings toward the controls.  That doesn't help.  People have different reactions to the environments.  Etc.

ConstructionSite

Was This Just Youtuber Bait?

No.  This is a project that I freaking love, and that is based around my favorite animal (velociraptors).  It's something I very, very much wanted to see happen.

That said, I won't deny that the idea of a game that appealed to a larger audience and more easily picked up video views was an attractive one.  I even considered calling this "Raptor Simulator," to the dismay of my staff.

This was never intended to be like Goat Simulator (which I've never played, but my understanding is that it's a silly bug-fest just centered around messing about and not doing anything).  I figured we might be able to pick up some of the Goat Simulator crowd since you CAN come in here and just mess about, but what I didn't realize was that this would create a stigma that would lead people to then to think it's more vapid than it is.

Which, launching with less content in terms of enemies and tactical situations than I would like, only reinforced that perception I suppose.  "There's not enough to do" is probably the number one complaint, and I thought I had made that clear enough from the start.  And we've been managing daily updates with substantial new content, which I think is pretty darn impressive.

Then plan was to put out more content in a month than most other EA games put out in a year, and just keep on trucking with it.  We've done it before with other games, multiple times, and it's something we were well geared-up to do this time, too.

BadNewsForFatherBrain

What Went Wrong?

I... am not entirely sure, honestly.  People's perception of this was not matching up to what it was, partly.  Also I suppose I should have made more grandiose claims and been mysterious and vague instead of transparent and clear.  It's way more exciting when you don't know what's going on and "it could be anything -- it could be EVERYTHING!!"

I'm all for enthusiasm, but hype is not something I really like.  We had a lot of hype for A Valley Without Wind, and that burned the company and myself in some fairly profound ways.  So I'm really wary of hype; that was our one game that had it, and it was distinctly unpleasant.  Well, okay: I guess there's also hype around Stars Beyond Reach at the moment, which is another project of ours that I refuse to release yet because I don't think it's good enough yet.

Ultimately I don't think it can be blamed on any one thing.  I do know that in the past -- going back to 2014 with the release of The Last Federation, and then everything before it -- we made almost all of our sales via Steam and people finding our stuff on Steam.  We'd see a bump in sales for a few hours after a Kotaku piece or a Total Biscuit video, and literally no other website or youtuber made any bump that we could discern.

Being on the front page of Steam was the big thing.  We've had one title in the past that have reached the #6 top seller spot on Steam as a whole (IIRC it was The Last Federation), and multiple titles that have hit the top 10 sellers on Steam as a whole (even A Valley Without Wind).

It used to be super concerning if we weren't in the top 20 bestsellers on Steam for at least a day or two, and when we dropped down into the 60s on overall game sales it was basically game over until the next discount promotion.  Discount promotions, even as recently as 2015, had more weight behind them, too.  The lack of gamification of recent seasonal sales has been bad for the small developers, in my opinion.

4_WeNeedNoMiniboss

Overall the market is more crowded now, and gaining visibility is harder.  We tried advertising this time, but we literally spent more money today on advertising than the game made.  Win!!  So this is some sort of New Market now, anyhow, with something approaching the App Store effect that we've seen on Apple devices.  I was incredibly paranoid that would happen going all the way back to 2009, and then I gradually got less worried about it, and now here we are.  How many indie developers do you know of who have made more than one or two games at this point?  That's a bit scary to think about.

It's not all doom and gloom in the market, obviously: in some ways, opportunities are larger now than they ever were.  And it's certainly a better market now than in mid-2009 when I first started out with AI War.  So it's certainly not all market forces, and I don't mean to imply that.

At the end of the day, for whatever combination of reasons, this doesn't seem to be the right game at the right time.  Might we pick this project back up in the future?  I'd like to think so.  As I said, this is a personal passion of mine (raptors), not some Goat Simulator knockoff to me.  But such is life.

TurretGallery

What Next, Then?

One of my core conclusions from this, despite how much I have tried to defy this my entire career as a game developer, is that folks pretty much just want strategy games from me/us.  This is not all I want to do!  I want to make games where you shoot things, and games where you're a raptor, and all sorts of other things!  I have varied interests and tastes, and I don't want to do one thing for the rest of my life.

That said, given the choice between leaving the industry and making strategy games, the choice there is freaking obvious.  I absolutely love making games, despite the many negative sides to it.  So that's what we'll do: we'll make you another strategy game.

Lab Two Reactor

Specifically, we'll go back to the game that is still our top seller, AI War: Fleet Command, and we're going to do a proper updated sequel.  But at this point I can't afford to do half a year or a year of development "on spec" to then find out if you're interested or not.  So we'll likely run a Kickstarter for this, as much as I've avoided Kickstarters and never wanted to do one.  And if that doesn't work out in a way that feels financially safe, then there are some other options on the table, too.

At any rate, people have been clamoring for this for years: an AI War sequel with a better UI, better performance, better networking, better graphics, moddability, and so on.  We're now in a position where we know how to do all those things, and goodness knows we know how to make AI War better than we know how to make anything else under the sun.  That's our freaking bread and butter right there.

I suppose there will be some people who are thinking "yay, end of the stupid raptor game, and we get the AI War sequel that has been quietly talked about for a year or so now!"  And if that's how you feel, fine.  But you were going to get that anyway, and I just wish that I also got to make this raptor game to go along with it.

TheNewAggressiveTurret

Be Wary Of Knee-Jerk Reactions

It's very tempting for me to blame the state of the market, or whatever other external forces.  Really it was a combination of things.  So I have to be pretty careful of not giving in to negative emotions on my side.

On the other end, as an outside observer I hope that you also look at this for what it really is, and not the knee-jerk reaction that you might have.  I am the Anti-Sean (cough).  I will treat you fairly, communicate clearly and often, release frequent substantial updates (just look at our history), and try to over-deliver.  This is what you want.

In an ideal world nobody ever makes a mistake.  In the actual world, we have to think about how we want people to behave when mistakes inevitably do happen.  I am sorry this had to happen, though.  I wish it would magically change, but we're well past that point I think.  I want to take a moment to thank everyone that did support the project, though -- it really meant a heck of a lot to me.

Very Best,

Chris

ReleaseRaptorEarlyAccessTrailerImage
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Castruccio on August 26, 2016, 10:20:10 PM
You are making the right decision.  I don't know if everyone feels the same, but this is absolutely the right decision.  Good for you for pulling the plug early this time, and for returning to strategy games.  It shows that you won't let your ego get in the way of your company or your employees.  That's an admirable thing.  It is rare that the admirable thing and the right decision coincide, but in this instance they do.  So there's that to hang your hat on.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: x4000 on August 26, 2016, 10:24:54 PM
Thank you, I appreciate it.  I am now waiting for Cyborg to come in and remind me that he called this months ago.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: garpu on August 26, 2016, 10:40:19 PM
Aww.  For what it's worth, I was having fun with it.

Thing is, I expect quirky twists on "normal" genres from Arcen.  I like your brand of odd.  I can see why a game like ICOERR wouldn't do so well in this climate, though, and among some gaming channels. :(
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Toranth on August 26, 2016, 11:13:29 PM
But I don't WANT a refund... :'(

Very sad to hear that Raptor isn't doing well.  I was hoping that with the good talk before EA started, it would do at least decently.
On the other hand, with a Kickstarter I can finally use the credit card I've been holding in reserve all these years to give you the money you deserve...
(http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=18951.0;attach=10221)
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Logorouge on August 26, 2016, 11:44:30 PM
So people just weren't interested in a raptor game. Sigh. That's a damn shame.
I still prefer watching a game I like getting pulled than seeing a game studio I love bleeding out to death.

You did everything you could to make this work and I thank you (and the rest of the team that worked on Raptor) for that.
I'll still have fun playing this one from time to time. (And I won't get lost so much anymore.)
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Pumpkin on August 27, 2016, 01:37:31 AM
 :'( :'( :'(

I already bought a copy or RR for my fiancée and was unsure if/when to take one for myself. Reading that, I immediately went to the Steam store, worried it would have already been pulled out, and bought it for me. And if I get a refund, I'll find a way to give you it back-back.

*search* *search* *search*

I KNEW IT! I knew I saw a little yellow "donate (https://arcengames.com/tips/)" button somewhere on the site!
A refund for a "pay for what you get now" (instead of a "pay for what you think you'll get later") is more than a noble gesture. $5 for the game as it currently is seems good to me. But I also fully understand why you prefer pulling it out rather than letting it be there. So you'll refund it, and peoples happy with their $5 little game will have the choice to still give you these $5.

Be brave, Arcen. I wish you luck.
And above all else, thank you for your honor and your dedication.
Please, never stop making games.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: TheVampire100 on August 27, 2016, 02:21:05 AM
Ouch, haven't excpected this. That took me totally off guard. I'm not sure if I should refund this. You need the money now more than ever.
I really hoped this work out this time for you guys.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: nas1m on August 27, 2016, 02:33:13 AM
Oh man, that sucks. Best of luck for all your future endeavors! Please don't stop making games. It would be a loss to the industry not easily remedied - at least in my book.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Misery on August 27, 2016, 02:57:51 AM
Well, this sucks.  For what it's worth though, I think you made the right decision.  I'll not go into why here on the forums.   Though I do want to say one thing:  everything I said about thinking this game had high potential was (and remains) absolutely true.  There were alot of good ideas there that sadly, people wont get to see. The concepts you had set out for this game have so much promise, at least to my view.  But when something has to be done, it has to be done.

Also, I understand what you mean about not wanting to be stuck doing the same sorts of games over and over... and I'd also love to see you guys be able to try more new stuff like this.  Your strategy games are great and all... particularly BD, for me... but it's your others that caught my eye originally.  AVWW was the one that brought me here and still remains a favorite of mine among my big collection on Steam, and I quite like it's sequel too (aside from those stupid pigeons, those guys are jerks, I've always said so).  And while Starward didn't sell too well, I personally love the direction you went with it and the way it turned out.  And not because of my own involvement.  I was really looking forward to seeing how the raptor game would evolve, as those did over time.  Not to mention other non-strategy games too.  But now you're kinda forced back into strategy stuff, at least for awhile, which.... yeah, that's gotta be disappointing.  Though, for what it's worth, I'd enjoy AI War 2 just as much as most here would.

If there's anything I can do to help with that or whatever, anything at all, let me know, I'd be happy to do so.   
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: TelcontarVI on August 27, 2016, 03:20:03 AM
Inmediately after reading this i have purchased In case of Emergency Release Raport, which i didn´t know it was for sale (i have been on holidays). I dont want a refund, i want you stay here, making awesome games.

And i'm super excited from de Kickstart for AI War Reloaded or whatever name you choose.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Nargasse on August 27, 2016, 04:08:17 AM
Pretty sad post for sure. I like all what you did, and even if AI war is probably one of my favourite game of all time, i really like all you did experimenting, and had fun with every one of your game (well, maybe not TLF, did'nt get the feeling with this one). Your post remember me one of Winter wolf, another company from wich i read the blog. And it's pretty much the same thing : The guy explain that experimental games that he have fun making are not worth enough, and that he must come back to something more streamlined and safe to make a living. That make me sad, but anyway, i'll keep following you anywhere. Still my favorite indie companie ever.
Just never forget to have fun. :)
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: tombik on August 27, 2016, 05:24:15 AM
Rather than allowing everyone to refund, you could gift an additional copy to everyone that got the game before, so that they would be getting the same total value with the former purchase price. And after adding some tiny tweaks this would be already a game that worths 5 dollars.

And that would also work like a marketing move.

This was EA, all buyers already knew the existant risk, so giving a full refund making all responsibility on your shoulders, even though customers already knew they are buying an EA product.

Still, good luck with your other games, I was positively surprised by the first versions of the game, and I am looking forward to the days where you are more financially free so you can just finish whichever game you want to finish.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Bambusek on August 27, 2016, 06:02:03 AM
So people just weren't interested in a raptor game. Sigh. That's a damn shame.

Nah, they would. Problem is - shortsighted people saw this game as nothing more than another Goat Simulator follow up.

And I was about to get it on Steam, but I guess there is no point now :(
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Huw on August 27, 2016, 07:11:43 AM
Well this was heartbreaking to read, Chris.  I'm so sorry you've had to abandon/postpone your beloved project; I can't imagine what that must feel like.

I want to pick up on one thing you said:

Quote
One of my core conclusions from this, despite how much I have tried to defy this my entire career as a game developer, is that folks pretty much just want strategy games from me/us.

I don't think it's necessarily that people want strategy games from you.  Whenever I see Arcen discussed around the net it's invariably mentioned that you're good at subverting genre expectations and are incredibly inventive.  All true.  I personally think, however, that strategy is simply what you're best at.  In my own personal opinion AI War and The Last Federation stand head and shoulders above your other games, and that's not to take anything away from the others.  They're just the best you've made.

I hope you don't take any offense from what I said.  Anyway, I'm almost hesitant to say this now in light of your post, but dammit, I am looking forward to a sequel to AI War.  As always I wish you every success - there's no other developer more deserving of it in my opinion.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Tolc on August 27, 2016, 07:56:27 AM
Aw man, that was sad to read  :'( Sending best wishes your way!
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: yllamana on August 27, 2016, 08:22:02 AM
Sorry to hear Release Raptor didn't work out. Best of luck recovering and getting through to your next release!
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: crazyroosterman on August 27, 2016, 08:33:03 AM
I know this has already been said but I think you made the right decision its better to take a loss rather than be remembered as a company who went and sold an unfinished game to people and then ran of with the money.
even though that wouldn't be true a lot of people would remember it that way(a lot of the people who bought into probably wouldn't but that doesn't matter) I really hope the sequel works out for you though id hate for stars to have killed your carer permanently.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: mrhanman on August 27, 2016, 08:34:29 AM
I hate to hear this guys.  The similarities to Goat Simulator never occurred to be, but when I started seeing the comments everywhere tying the two together, I started to get a bad feeling.  For what it's worth, I was having fun with the game, and really thought it just needed more objectives and other content to be great.  Here's hoping y'all get to complete it one day.

In the mean time, I'll pour one out for Release Raptor and toast to your future success with SBR and AIW2!
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Shrugging Khan on August 27, 2016, 09:18:07 AM
Haven't been around lately, and didn't really follow Raptor development, but I'm dropping by to give my personal approval for this kind of honest and public developer-customer relationship.

That said, I bought Raptor as soon as it became available, had no idea what to expect, played it for about two minutes, did not see the appeal - probably because I have no appreciation of velociraptors and no sense of humor. Still happy to have given some support to Arcen, so I don't even want a refund.

Good luck to whatever comes next, and even if reality struck again, please don't be disheartened.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Draco18s on August 27, 2016, 11:24:13 AM
Ouch man, this was looking good too.

I will definitely point my friends towards the donate (https://arcengames.com/tips/) button if they did purchase this and still want to contribute to the war fund.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Mánagarmr on August 27, 2016, 11:55:36 AM
Well have you considered that a lot of people do not buy EA games simply because of EA? They wait for the full release and then make their judgement, as there is a legit strategy these days to release your EA game and keep it in EA forever. The survival genre pretty much exists there.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Steelpoint on August 27, 2016, 11:56:53 AM
The only reason I knew the game even existed was because I keep up to date with the news posts here.

I saw no indication the game was released on EA on the Steam front page at all. No information or anything.

Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Pepisolo on August 27, 2016, 12:36:43 PM
Very sad to hear. RR is a lot of fun, and has a lot of potential. It's a shame that you're not going to be able to work on a project that you love -- at least for the foreseeable future. The AI War sequel should be a great project for you guys, though. I'm ready and waiting with my Kickstarter pledge. All the best.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Aklyon on August 27, 2016, 02:59:07 PM
Augh, I wasn't expecting to hear sad but reasonable news about this game. You guys need some good news for once! :-\

Nor was I expecting a kickstarter. But I certainly will support that for sure.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Cyborg on August 27, 2016, 03:51:59 PM
Thank you, I appreciate it.  I am now waiting for Cyborg to come in and remind me that he called this months ago.

Well this kind of bothers me a little bit, you really must not like me to think that I would drop a note and rub it in or something.

I suppose I should clarify. The reason I told you this wasn't going to work was because I actually care about what happens around here. I wouldn't be here if I didn't. I cheer your success and prosperity, as well as your staff. I think you have a good crew, and I want the best for you and your team. Hundred percent truth and honesty.

I think where things get twisted is that I am honest and near incapable of social grace. I'm not good at it, I know that, and I know that it turns people off. Sometimes I think when people speak against the cheerleaders on this forum, we get labeled as "those people" and nonconformist, and then our opinions get ignored because fish that swim upstream get kicked out of the colony. I've never cared about colonies. Incapable of it. Probably some personality problem.

But believe it or not, I do care about other people even if I can't do what you do or say what you say in the way that you say it. I'm actually the same guy on this forum that I am in real life and not a lot of people can say that. I am a nerd, and I do like strategy games more than any other kind of game. I know who I am.

So I'm not here thinking "I told you so." I am about the same age you are. I don't feel good about it. I guess you could say, I regret your opinion and your loss with this title because I am a fan of your studio. You can count on me as a beta tester for AI war and hopefully you make a kickstarter tier for early access so I can do what I do well and that is strategy titles. And compensate you for the effort and putting up with my apparently abrasive personality.

Once again, sorry for your loss, and believe me when I say I'm 100% behind your studio even when I think one of your games isn't good. I hope that you don't make AI War 2 with anything less than the passion that you put into any of your titles, or resent your fan base for enjoying your strategy titles. Take a moment to mourn your loss, but please embrace your next project and know that you have a far greater community with you now that's ready for some kick ass space strategy title.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Mánagarmr on August 27, 2016, 04:38:09 PM
For me, the lack of appeal wasn't in the gameplay, the graphics or anything such. It was point. Why did this exist? What was the purpose of the game? Was it just to kill robots for the fun of it? Was there any progression at all? Was there a deep and interesting combat system (A la Dark Souls) to keep me engaged? Was it a puzzle game?

I could never make out what it was about Raptor that was supposed to get people, and once it released on EA, I still couldn't find that "thing" that is supposed to carry the game. I'm not the sort of person that buys Goat Simulator just to fool around. I see no point in that. I need a game to have a clear purpose. Raptor seemed, to me, to lack that.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: KingIsaacLinksr on August 27, 2016, 08:03:12 PM
For me, the lack of appeal wasn't in the gameplay, the graphics or anything such. It was point. Why did this exist? What was the purpose of the game? Was it just to kill robots for the fun of it? Was there any progression at all? Was there a deep and interesting combat system (A la Dark Souls) to keep me engaged? Was it a puzzle game?

I could never make out what it was about Raptor that was supposed to get people, and once it released on EA, I still couldn't find that "thing" that is supposed to carry the game. I'm not the sort of person that buys Goat Simulator just to fool around. I see no point in that. I need a game to have a clear purpose. Raptor seemed, to me, to lack that.

I was going to type something but this bascially is what I'm asking too. I just didn't see much of a hooking reason to pull me into the game.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Misery on August 27, 2016, 08:14:01 PM
For me, the lack of appeal wasn't in the gameplay, the graphics or anything such. It was point. Why did this exist? What was the purpose of the game? Was it just to kill robots for the fun of it? Was there any progression at all? Was there a deep and interesting combat system (A la Dark Souls) to keep me engaged? Was it a puzzle game?

I could never make out what it was about Raptor that was supposed to get people, and once it released on EA, I still couldn't find that "thing" that is supposed to carry the game. I'm not the sort of person that buys Goat Simulator just to fool around. I see no point in that. I need a game to have a clear purpose. Raptor seemed, to me, to lack that.

This to be honest is what I personally was worried about, though I didn't really speak of it much; the sudden leap into EA at the time it was done seemed like a "cant avoid it" thing, after all.

The problem to me is the state the game was released in.   It really doesnt seem to have a point other than smash things.    The real meat of things just wasnt there yet.   What it was supposed to be was the game constantly putting you in all of these complicated tactical situations versus the robots; the sorts of situations where you were going to have to think your way out, and do things like lure the robots into specific positions, or use their talents against each other... you werent going to be able to just smash them by leaping all over the place.

All of the bots were designed with this in mind.   They have concepts and mechanics unique to each that would mingle together in interesting ways, and when combined with the terrain, would make complicated stuations for you.    For example, one bot was something that ran on the ground, and would charge at you like a bull; when it hit an obstacle, it would spray tons of fast bullets in all directions; you would want to hide behind something when it does that, and then attack while it's stunned.   Another bot was one that had no attack of it's own, but instead had the ability to pick up other bots and throw them in your general direction, getting them close to you fast.    So,  room idea:  a tall room with a central pillar, and a platform up above.   The thrower bot starts grabbing those chargers and dropping them down onto the player, who has to react to their position and use the pillar to take them out safely as they keep landing. 

That's just one example, but that's what the gameplay was meant to be like. All sorts of room ideas were possible even just with the bots that are currently on paper. Helping to come up with bots and then placing them into positions in rooms to create these situations was my part in this.   But while the bot concepts were made (as well as traps and various things the player would interact with), it just didn't get far enough along to show off any of that stuff.   The version of the game you've seen just plops the occaisional bot down randomly.


My opinion of the game having high potential is still the same, but even I cant deny that it just wasnt in a state where it could REALLY be shown off for what it was meant to become.   In such an early state, it did seem mindless.   But if I recall, the situation was that it *had* to be stuck into EA because time was up, so.... yeah, nasty bit, that.  The whole situation sucks... very frustrating.   
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: chemical_art on August 27, 2016, 09:28:52 PM
Chris, these words are hitting me far to hard too fast fast to give a meaningful input.

My first input is to hide, hard, into proven entities, such as AI Wars.

Secondly, all of my fond memories were of strategy games of some sort.

Thirdly...is to be conservative. Truly, if the odd venture fails, then to go to the most successive venue usual works.

I will not deny that I am drunk off my ass tonight, but hearing Chris being so raw as brought down my defenses as well.

But as much as I loved them...I do wonder how popular really dinosaur games are. And, in a harsher light, how survivor games are. The genre is becoming glutted...fast.

Continuing from my drunken firing from the the hip, I will say this: The acknowledgement that a project will not succeed is very mature and painful. It is something every game producer must face, and you are facing it with great maturity.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: kasnavada on August 28, 2016, 04:52:52 PM
@Chris
First of all... as always, great customer service, and great communication skills. But, ouch, and sorry for the next lines.

::) :-\

That "raptor thingy" outcome was sadly kind of predictable. I had a small discussion with Misery on the steam forums a few months back. Said nothing, after all the (lost) work done on SBR... I thought that maybe you could pull it off. Also I moved back a bit from the forums because of the feedback I, among other, gave you here. I among other dropped a few comments, the game got remade, and delayed and little progress was made. Not that I think it would have helped much.

When I saw SBR released by you, my first thought was that it was going to be a failure because:
- you tried to do the impossible: make a real diplomatic AI.
- make a complete 4X game by an indy team of less than 10 people in about 6-10 months.

Next you went on the "raptor" thingy because... dunno. It was completely doomed to be a failure IMO. Dinosaurs are extremely popular and the dinosaur market is over-saturated especially since ARK went out. Also Arcen has no experience in 3D gaming that I know of. It's not "just" a matter of "people expect strategy games"... it's that you're somehow have been able to make very good strategy games, asymetric with "simplified" AI and reasonable AI and diplomacy options (in AI war & the last federation). Other types... less good.

Also, something that always bothered me, but you seem to believe that every game can and / or will pay itself back. Maybe it's time to change that point of view. Do what the other do. Create a few cash cow games that earn more than they cost, so you can afford to fail.



I'm getting confused, but... what I want to say is that while I'm a small-time supporter of your firm, and a very small cog in this forum... Sorry. I think that I and others on the forum share the blame, for encouraging you on paths that don't have an end.



On the other subject at hand... I do think though that getting a kickstarter & making something you intimately know is a good idea. Especialy with the... stress issues you've shown at the end of SBR. You'd be "free" of the "if it fails I'm out of money" stress source. Which is good.


However... this time I'll dare and ask. Do you completely know what you're doing when doing this sequel ?
People will probably expect the WHOLE of AI war (that's including the expansions) in the base game, but (somehow) better. Do you somehow have a working plan for that ?

I certainly hope it's doable, but I'm not sure you're not setting yourself an impossible goal again. Then again the kickstarter may succeed beyond expectations... still I'm getting worried, as Arcen's been among the few developpers I'm following actively.



...
I hate to be the voice of doubt. You certainly don't need that. Still. I hope it gets better. I loved AI war, the last federation and basically what you've managed to accomplish on this forum here.
...
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: chemical_art on August 28, 2016, 05:11:27 PM

However... this time I'll dare and ask. Do you completely know what you're doing when doing this sequel ?
People will probably expect the WHOLE of AI war (that's including the expansions) in the base game, but (somehow) better. Do you somehow have a working plan for that ?


I will say that is a very good point. The long term benefits of a proper sequel are great. But the costs are also substantial given the risks any "new" game does. For example, there is talk of making all the ships 3D. Is that really necessary or wise? I would think that 2D ships are of more value since the ship types are already in place. If not of financial value then of graphical value [takes less resources on gpu].

There will also need to be an honest discussion of what features are cut for the first sequel. It is not feasible to ask for several expansions worth of work in the very first game. The sunk costs are high and in both money and time. Better to leave some things aside so they can be tackled after the initial game is out. It leaves a safer revenue stream and allows time to work on bugs. My first thought is to focus on the "standard" AI War and have the substantial campaigns (Spire, doomsday devices, champions, etc) come out as expansions. They will not be direct copy pastes of the original expansions either: With fresh eyes they can be refined and the lore fleshed out as well and as a paid expansion allows a higher quality on amount of time spent.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: kop9000 on August 28, 2016, 06:21:03 PM
I am a bit do not understand. Game Updates will be no more?  >:(
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: FroBodine on August 28, 2016, 06:59:42 PM
I'm very sorry you are having to do this, Chris, but you know what you're doing.  I never played Raptor, but it sure seemed like it could have been a blast for $5.00 when it was final and everything was in and balanced.

But, what do I know . . . my favorite game of yours is still Shattered Haven.  How about Shattered Haven 2?  It could be a cash cow . . . maybe . . . probably not.

Best of luck to you and your team.

-=Jeff
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: TheVampire100 on August 28, 2016, 07:13:42 PM
I'm very sorry you are having to do this, Chris, but you know what you're doing.  I never played Raptor, but it sure seemed like it could have been a blast for $5.00 when it was final and everything was in and balanced.

But, what do I know . . . my favorite game of yours is still Shattered Haven.  How about Shattered Haven 2?  It could be a cash cow . . . maybe . . . probably not.

Best of luck to you and your team.

-=Jeff
I doubt Shattered Haven 2 would succeed. It might be your favourite game but it seems it was one of the worst if not the worst received game of Arcen games. People didn't liek it at all, neither as horror game or as puzzle game. To be honest, when i first saw it it looked to me like a RPGMaker type of game. It surprised me that it wasn't made with RPGMaker.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: FroBodine on August 28, 2016, 08:44:26 PM
Yeah, I know.  I was being sort of sarcastical.  I thought it was a wonderfully fun and challenging puzzly adventure game.  Some other folks also thought it was wonderful.

But, most people ignored it, sadly.  Who cares if anything is made with RPGMaker.  If it's fun, that's all that matters.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: eRe4s3r on August 28, 2016, 10:05:15 PM
The joke being you could have made that game with RPGMaker

Anyway.. I just wanted to say.. this entire string of news just leaves me baffled. It reminds me of how Hollywood (the movie industry) does business.... On the other hand, a raptor fps game was doomed (economically) from the start.  So I guess you had no choice but to face reality here. No Indy game of this type ever made any tangible sales and seems like this won't change either.

Still, lessons learned here... they need no repeating. Seeing the steam post x4000 already realized mistakes were made ;)


Now this really begs more questions though.. refunds ok.. but does this mean the game is no longer developed?

What about SBR?

How exactly is AI War 2 gonna be financed? You have zero KS experience and I feel like this 30 day crunch would incite you to promise crazy things (in terms of features, content and such)


What I still don't get is why you refund and pull the game though. It makes no sense. And in none of your posts you yet said *why* you did that. Is it merely an issue of me not understand the reason? Why you refund people who don't want to be refunded... that's.. absurd.

And to explain how absurd, in all my time in gaming I never seen a developer willingly refund. Publishers sometimes gave you poisoned offers (Paradox -> SOTS 2) but refunding people who never asked for it? That never happened before. It also makes me worry you will feel repercussions for that from Steam.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Cinth on August 28, 2016, 10:38:08 PM
I'm not Chris but I can answer some of these.

Now this really begs more questions though.. refunds ok.. but does this mean the game is no longer developed?

For now, ICoE,RR is on the shelf. 

Quote
What about SBR?

Keith has been working on that.  I don't know much else about it.

Quote
What I still don't get is why you refund and pull the game though. It makes no sense. And in none of your posts you yet said *why* you did that. Is it merely an issue of me not understand the reason? Why you refund people who don't want to be refunded... that's.. absurd.

Short version:
Not wanting to leave the game hanging in an unfinished state when it isn't going to get the attention it deserves.  Being upfront with the customers about it and doing things how he feels it should be done.

Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: kasnavada on August 29, 2016, 01:20:24 AM

However... this time I'll dare and ask. Do you completely know what you're doing when doing this sequel ?
People will probably expect the WHOLE of AI war (that's including the expansions) in the base game, but (somehow) better. Do you somehow have a working plan for that ?


I will say that is a very good point. The long term benefits of a proper sequel are great. But the costs are also substantial given the risks any "new" game does. For example, there is talk of making all the ships 3D. Is that really necessary or wise? I would think that 2D ships are of more value since the ship types are already in place. If not of financial value then of graphical value [takes less resources on gpu].

There will also need to be an honest discussion of what features are cut for the first sequel. It is not feasible to ask for several expansions worth of work in the very first game. The sunk costs are high and in both money and time. Better to leave some things aside so they can be tackled after the initial game is out. It leaves a safer revenue stream and allows time to work on bugs. My first thought is to focus on the "standard" AI War and have the substantial campaigns (Spire, doomsday devices, champions, etc) come out as expansions. They will not be direct copy pastes of the original expansions either: With fresh eyes they can be refined and the lore fleshed out as well and as a paid expansion allows a higher quality on amount of time spent.

Even if I agree with the "have to cut feature else there is too much to code" part... Cutting features... didn't work that well with civ5 after civ4. Or the sims 3 after the sims 2.
Well. We'll see I suppose.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: wwwhhattt on August 29, 2016, 06:33:08 AM
 :(
Hope the next game is successful enough for you to make the stuff you want to regularly enough.
Good luck/????/etc.!
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: steelwing on August 29, 2016, 09:12:44 AM
(https://cdn.meme.am/instances/58271460.jpg)
 :'(
I doubt I would have bought RR (having no interest in playing it), but I truly hope you get to finish and release it eventually, having put in so much work already.
Hopefully when the Kickstarter (or whatever) campaign for the new AIW launches, I'll be in a position to contribute!
How is Keith doing on SBR, though?  Any chances of that seeing the light of day any time soon?
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: crazyroosterman on August 29, 2016, 10:48:05 AM
(https://cdn.meme.am/instances/58271460.jpg)
 :'(
I doubt I would have bought RR (having no interest in playing it), but I truly hope you get to finish and release it eventually, having put in so much work already.
Hopefully when the Kickstarter (or whatever) campaign for the new AIW launches, I'll be in a position to contribute!
How is Keith doing on SBR, though?  Any chances of that seeing the light of day any time soon?
same here even though I'm not as hyped as a lot of other people for it(I still need to dive into ai war but between time constraints and the constant distractions of other games I haven't been able to) Id be happy to help support the games development.

 but about stars? I doubt its going to get going again any time soon particularly with the financial situation which Chris has right now
it would be nice to see it blossom though especially with the problems you could argue its caused.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: tadrinth on August 29, 2016, 02:26:12 PM
Well, in the interest of providing customer data, I own most of Arcen's games.  I've played 300 hours of AI War and not more than an hour of the others.  I think if I got into Last Fed I'd like it, just haven't gotten into it. 

Could y'all set up a Patreon that includes all new games you put out?  I feel like the enormous level of ongoing support put into your games would be a good fit for a subscription model.  I'd pay a couple bucks a month if it meant more regular ongoing AI War updates or support for fan-contributed content in a sequel or remake. 

I just ran numbers and so far as I can tell, if I backdate a $1 a month subscription to when I first got AI war, and subtract the cost of the Arcen games I've bought, I owe y'all $24.  If I can find a Donate button, I'll donate that much immediately. 

EDIT: Found the donate button! It's on the main site's navbar under 'About Us'.  Donation made.  And there's an option for a recurring donation, but I'll see what happens in this thread before I set that up, just in case.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Dominus Arbitrationis on August 29, 2016, 02:38:41 PM
If I can find a Donate button, I'll donate that much immediately.
https://arcengames.com/tips/ :)
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: crazyroosterman on August 29, 2016, 02:45:26 PM
If I can find a Donate button, I'll donate that much immediately.
https://arcengames.com/tips/ :)
to be honest I should probably give a donation considering the 2 free games(starward rogue and stars for what its worth and yes it know its for testing purposes but I've had a tone of fun with both of those games so its only fair)
edit o that's right I forgot it uses pay pal which would be fine if the stupid thing would actually work like ever.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: tadrinth on August 29, 2016, 04:39:49 PM
You can donate via credit card using the donate page, you don't need a paypal account. 
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: crazyroosterman on August 29, 2016, 05:07:33 PM
You can donate via credit card using the donate page, you don't need a paypal account.
well so you can herp derp.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: chemical_art on August 29, 2016, 06:45:16 PM

Even if I agree with the "have to cut feature else there is too much to code" part... Cutting features... didn't work that well with civ5 after civ4. Or the sims 3 after the sims 2.
Well. We'll see I suppose.

I have considered that but when I pursue the issue mentally I find it becomes a case of apples and oranges.

Unfortunately to fully digest it needs to come at a time when the shock of this has passed and we are in a better state to more somberly examine what mistakes were made and how to correct them. Now is not that time for any of us. I would really think end of the week, maybe, but truly a week from now I think is ideal. Chris and the rest of the staff truly need to breathe, otherwise bad decisions can occur like announcing this news on...a...Friday.

That time of examination does need to happen though, because even brainstorming is hampered depending on how things go forward somewhat. Several potential ideas I have are only viable depending on how things going forward are planned.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: garion333 on August 29, 2016, 07:41:15 PM
Since we're in the "let's give Arcen some advice" phase of things I thought I'd chime in with something about your action titles. I've bounced off of every single action title because as much as I love the feature list and all the neat ideas, I don't much enjoy playing them. Action titles must have a good feel to them.

Raptor felt better to me than your previous titles, but stuff like the sluggish turn speed killed the positives. I chose turn speed because it's something you received user feedback about and fixed in the game, but your totally logical reasoning behind the slower turn speed didn't translate into a good feel. Things Misery said earlier in the thread sound great, but would those tactical/strategic elements have been apparent to the players? To me it seemed better to run and attack than to think and sneak.

Anyway, I'm not sure what else goes into feel in action titles, if I knew that I would be in game development, but Platinum nails it. Sometimes I think it has to do with acceleration, but, again, I don't really know.

Time and time again I feel like Arcen titles get the kitchen sink thrown at them but don't get the refinement needed to appeal to a more broad audience. Yes, of course we're excited by AI War 2. Even after a bunch of expansions you guys were coming up with great ideas and implementing them into a game you knew inside and out. How nice it'll be to play that game but with updated visuals and (more importantly)!  Obviously, the kitchen sink won't be a part of AI War 2 at launch, but I trust you to still have a meaty game.

I applaud you doing what's right by your customers and fans. From the couple of hours I played of Raptor there wasn't enough game there and the most fun I had was leaping all over the place. You did do a great job with the lighting, which I recall you talking about in a post. It's too bad we won't see if it would have come together more completely as a game, but at least you're in control of that and not, say, the company completely folding.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Logorouge on August 29, 2016, 08:17:09 PM
Things Misery said earlier in the thread sound great, but would those tactical/strategic elements have been apparent to the players? To me it seemed better to run and attack than to think and sneak.

I think that's just a consequence of the speedrun mode being the first one released and the abnormally low enemy concentration. Tactical elements and the importance of sneaking/thinking would quickly become evident after the player gets killed a few times from rushing at the enemy. But when you got infinite health and enemies are a rare sight, why bother with tactics?

A comment I heard often in the last few days is "What's the point if you can't even die?"
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Misery on August 29, 2016, 08:22:06 PM
Things Misery said earlier in the thread sound great, but would those tactical/strategic elements have been apparent to the players? To me it seemed better to run and attack than to think and sneak.

I think that's just a consequence of the speedrun mode being the first one released and the abnormally low enemy concentration. Tactical elements and the importance of sneaking/thinking would quickly become evident after the player gets killed a few times from rushing at the enemy. But when you got infinite health and enemies are a rare sight, why bother with tactics?

A comment I heard often in the last few days is "What's the point if you can't even die?"


Yeah, pretty much.

One way or another, the enemy bots absolutely would have probably hit you a million times (or in other modes, outright killed you) until you learned to deal with them by actually thinking about each situation (hell, I was worried that some of it might get too difficult).  But with such an early version of the game, it was just impossible for it to really be shown off. 

And such is part of the downside of the EA process... I've seen this one happen with a variety of other games (and I'm sure many others have seen it too) where you get a game that's so early in development that you have no bloody clue what's going on, and it loses potential sales because of that.  And then later you find out what it's really about, and it's pretty darn good, but those lost sales are a lost cause at that point.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Captain Jack on August 29, 2016, 10:31:41 PM
So I've been trying to think of something I could say for days now that could capture how I feel about how things turned out and nothing's coming to mind that might actually help. So I'll just say: I wish you the very best of luck. You've always have the skills and mindset to succeed, it's the luck you need now.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Soupinator on August 30, 2016, 12:05:25 PM
I'm sorry to hear this.  Hopefully your next release will get you back on your feet.  Personally I'm greatly looking forward to Stars Beyond Reach (which I hope you get back to soon, especially after the massive disappointment of Civilization Beyond Earth) and despite it selling poorly, Starward Rogue is actually my favorite game of yours.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: Bluddy on August 30, 2016, 02:48:11 PM
Just to give you an idea of why I wasn't interested in the game, first of all there's the Jack of All Trades issue. It just can't be done, certainly not with a tiny team. 3d games require lavish effects and models and compete against all other 3d games out there. This has been mentioned already on this thread.

But here's another aspect. I never wanted to play as a Raptor. But I could easily get into that fantasy, if it was fully fleshed out. Imagine a game where you can play as a Raptor. You have your pack, and maybe you start off as a baby Raptor, some members of your pack die, and eventually you can be the alpha male, or you can leave and be a lone wolf. You'd have random procedural adventures in the ancient savanna, or maybe have to survive as long as you can in the extinction phase (kinda like a zombie simulator for dinosaurs), and you could definitely try to take down a T-Rex. The animal survival genre is horribly underserved (anyone remember Lion or Wolf?). I could totally buy into this fantasy, and I believe many others could as well.

However, placing the Raptor in a building, and making the opponents robots... well, that's like taking a swashbuckling pirate and placing him on Mars. It breaks any notion of the fantasy we might have in our head and just seems random. The Raptor in this game could be any avatar fighting robots. In fact, if the plan was to not make this a mindless action game, a more vulnerable avatar would probably have been preferable (something akin to Abe from Abe's Oddyssey). To see the power of tapping into a coherent fantasy, just see the recent controversy with No Man's Sky.

Developers break players' narrative expectations at their own peril. Sure, you can come up with a complex narrative explaining the particulars of any situation, but you lose the passion and narrative flow that players already have. If your game follows expectations, players will supplement the narrative with their own personal stories.
Title: Re: Time for some straight talk: Release Raptor is being pulled and refunded.
Post by: x4000 on August 30, 2016, 05:13:54 PM
Cheers folks, thanks for all your support and suggestions.