Author Topic: Early Access, gift or plague?  (Read 891 times)

Offline eRe4s3r

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Early Access, gift or plague?
« on: July 17, 2017, 04:22:54 PM »
So yeah, I have come the conclusion that I am starting to really really dislike early access as a concept. It dilutes the refund period, it allows developers to just "drop" a game (GRAV comes to mind) it allows weird situations like for Rimworld (mods are basically 5 years ahead of that games ACTUAL development, and I mean BASIC features, like GUI stuff.... WHY?) or Subnautica (which is constantly changing gameplay that I liked to something I don't much like instead of adding content at a proper pace so that the game can actually be played properly +.+) then there are games which received crowdfunding but went live on Steam as EA title. (Maia comes to mind) which somehow ended up producing REALLY slow development, 3 Dec, 2013 -> Maia launched on Steam EA, we backers are still not anywhere near a playable version!, and I'd go so far as to call the game entirely BROKEN currently due to AI bugs).

And let me make this clear, if an EA title is stuck in EA for 4+ years then that is not early access, that is a scam. Very few exceptions (Factorio and KSP) are a thing, mainly because those did not "start" development in EA (they were both fully playable before they went to steam, and even though they were in EA (or still are) they are in fact feature complete, all that's left is polish and some new content). And I will repeat my opinion I voiced many years ago. If you launch on EA, and you ask for money for a game sale, then when your game doesn't work I ask for a refund instantly. EA is not to beta-test your game, EA is to release something that's "mostly ready" and just needs polish. Broken AI is not something that needs polish, broken AI in a game about a colony sim leading to a complete game-over is like game-breaking critical bug stuff... argh

To me, EA becomes more and more a plague. Many developers go on EA before the game is ready, and they are consequently economically dead because they needed EA sales, and have no incentive to complete the game then (it's basically a double scam).

This is starting to really affect my mood when I browse steam (and bundle) offers....
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Offline Toranth

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Re: Early Access, gift or plague?
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2017, 05:17:45 PM »
So yeah, I have come the conclusion that I am starting to really really dislike early access as a concept.
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I agree with everything you've said, and you said it much more politely than I would.  I suspect that if there was a strict limit on EA, say 1 year, and the game had to be fully released at the end, or it would be delisted and refunded for all customers - then we might see it used better.  But when you have stuff like ARK - years in EA, but also releasing paid DLC - it begins to look like the Google "Beta" scam.

Generally, even if something looks interesting, I won't touch it if it is still in Early Access.  I may miss some good stuff that way... but being late to a good party is far better than being early but discovering that the party is actually an auto de fe.

Offline Draco18s

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Re: Early Access, gift or plague?
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2017, 05:24:11 PM »
Ditto, ditto, ditto, and....ditto.

I'll wishlist an EA title, but I won't buy unless it goes on HEAVY discount, a price that if I'm flushing it down the toilet I won't really notice.

Offline madcow

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Re: Early Access, gift or plague?
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2017, 07:06:15 PM »
Seconded on burn out on EA titles. I quit on them a few years back tbh.

Offline x4000

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Re: Early Access, gift or plague?
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2017, 07:10:19 PM »
For me it really depends on the title in question.  There are some that were fantastic from reasonably early in EA (7 Days to Die) and continued to evolve in a way that was fun.  Then again, in some cases they really made changes that I disagreed with, so that was super frustrating.  Then there were a variety of other games that became more grindy rather than less, etc.

For me, the best ones already have a core concept laid out and are going to stick to it, and it's all about polish and new content instead.  There are precious few of those, though.
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Offline eRe4s3r

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Re: Early Access, gift or plague?
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2017, 07:22:46 PM »
To be honest I don't consider something in my steam library something of short lived value, to me if it's in my steam library, then that is a public statement I make as a customer, or consumer (since it's a luxury ware). And since I have progressed to this thought I have started to actually refund EA games after 2 hours more often because I am starting to see some similarities in developer behaviors that really piss me off.

If I take MAIA as an example, that was about the time I kickstarted a lot of things, Maia (development started 2012), Starsector (formerly Starfarer) (development started 2010) and of course, Star Citizen (yeah, where the hell is that SQ42 promised EP 1 release????), And the only other decent thing I kickstarted (Divinity: Original Sin 2 - which is extremely playable, actually).

Rimworld I actually refunded because of such suspected behavior (look when it started development (October 2013) that's 4 years and the game isn't even HALF finished (functionality wise, MODS do polish it, and polish it in the sense that they add features and functions which should be vanilla, but what kind of developer behavior am I supporting when I buy a game based on this flimsy premise?

But yeah, I actually think I am not gonna buy anything in early access ever again. For Factorio that is the only (funny) exception because I fell utterly in love with it with it's pre-ea version already, the game actually improved beyond imagination and the stuff possible now is crazy. But it didn't need mods to convince me, it was already a gem without mods in it's alpha stage (same for KSP, which I think did not actually improve all that much, the graphics are still utterly horrific, and in Unity 5 there is really no reason why they are...

Meh... but what really grinds my gears is this



Namely, that Steam ignores this when
# You search for TAGS (Try searching for tag "Building" and "Survival" if you want to really suffer through EA titles)
# You browse sales (Mixes them in, no filter possibility, no way to tell which is EA and which isn't)

Maybe I am just getting more aware of this since Greenlight floodgates have been opened with ZERO oversight. Direct Access is a total joke. 100$ to bring your asset flip to steam, with ZERO curation. *slow clap* indeed.

And yeah x4000, there are VERY few gems, but just browse by tag, and you will understand my suffering. I was looking for a decent "building" game, look at that list, and despair. +.+ (least if you don't want EA titles)

I actually need to append something to that wall of text
Imo, Steam should hold EA sales in escrow and link the release of funds to milestones, yes, I know that's exactly what Steam doesn't want to do (because why spend some of those billions they hoard on actually taking responsibility for what it sells?) as soon as you detach sales from responsibilities you have Early Access, asset flips, trading card scammers and itch.io - if you reward bad behavior, that behavior spreads. And I think that spells a pretty turbulent year for Steam especially. Direct Access opened the flood gates for real, now there is a clear way to get money-laundering-via-trading-cards games onto steam, pay a few hundred people to post good reviews (and appear as fake sales, and as long as you make more than 30% profits you are golden.

Steam basically just incentivize money laundering via games. And that is to me truly baffling (I wanted to write a rant about Direct Access before, and a heat wave stopped me ;p)
« Last Edit: July 17, 2017, 07:34:00 PM by eRe4s3r »
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Offline x4000

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Re: Early Access, gift or plague?
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2017, 07:41:36 PM »
I understand your pain from a couple of directions, believe me.  The flood of junk has been super bad for other developers, because now people finding our stuff is much less common.  New or old stuff, either way.

From a consumer standpoint I wanted to find games of a few certain sorts as well, looking for things to play with my son and stuff to play on my own.  Oh man was that an exercise in pain.  So many pages of junk, and it was hard to cross-reference all the things I'd already looked at and then discarded for some reason.  I guess I need a spreadsheet?

I was bummed to hear about GRAV in this thread, because I thought that was GRIP, which I've been waiting to see how it turns out.  GRAV I now remember seeing and avoiding, I think kind of with the idea that it was like Planetary Explorers but not really.  But it all gets so confused.

It's the same sort of pain I went through every year in the 2000-2008 period when I was looking for a new strategy game to play each time.  Lots of playing of various demos at that point to see what felt good, after so much fell flat compared to how it was described or what videos showed.  Now I prefer an LP and reviews to a demo anyhow, since I can eliminate things faster, and if there's somethinig that I get that is bad then just refund.  So that negated the need for me to download tons of big demos and install a bunch of things, which is at least a plus.
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Offline Misery

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Re: Early Access, gift or plague?
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2017, 07:46:07 PM »
I'll play devil's advocate here because of course I will.

I buy games that are in EA often.  Like, REALLY often.  Hell, some games that have become all-time favorites were grabbed in that state, or may indeed still be in that state.

But anyway, after years upon years of doing this, starting since LONG before the term "early access" ever was made up (it used to just be called "beta testing", which is what I still call it half the time), I can say that for the most part, I don't really have any problems with the whole deal.   In some cases, for me, it's led to being able to have a direct impact on the game that's being made.  And yes, I do see the EA process as "beta testing".  To be honest, if people look at it and DONT see it as that, then no, they should not be buying games in that state.  It *is* beta testing.  In many cases, it is alpha testing.  In very, very rare cases, it is pre-alpha testing.    The whole idea isn't "have people try a nearly finished game". I have no bloody clue where anyone gets that idea.   It's to give the developers a chance to bring people into the development process at a time when they feel it'll do the game's development some good.  Whenever the devs may choose to do this is up  to them.  Some devs do indeed wait until a game is nearly finished.  I, personally, think it's best to do it EARLIER. 

Why?  Because that feedback from people DURING development is extremely helpful.  That's something I learned a looooong time ago, and which was very heavily reinforced by Starward's whole development process, as well as other non-Arcen game's that I've helped with, and some that I've just watched really closely.   For many developers, the game in question will eventually hit a point when it's too late to go back and make major changes.  If there has been a major mistake made in there?  They may not be aware of it, if they've had nobody outside of their team test the game.  Having players be able to get in there BEFORE it's too late to make changes to that particular bit of the game can be a real saving grace here.  There are some devs like Arcen who don't have too much trouble with doing major rollbacks during development, but MOST devs do not and cannot do this (even if it's their own bloody fault that they cant, which seems frequently the case).  Big problems must be caught DURING the development of that section of the game, or the issues might be permanent.  I can think of more than a few examples like that in Arcen's games, for instance, where some really big mechanic or whatever was discovered to have problems, and was rolled back, undoing those problems and creating a better product in the end.  But that wouldn't have happened if the devs hadn't given people a chance to partake in the whole thing.

Another advantage, and one that I suspect a lot of people don't spot, is the fact that the devs can use the whole EA process to help them find people that may be able to help them with more than just normal testing.  One of my favorite games of the last few years is a real-time roguelike called Unexplored, which is a game where this happened.  I got into the game not super early, but early enough that a good number of major mechanics were missing.  Was very active, and eventually was approached by the developer to help out with internal testing, which is very different than what you normally see done via the Steam forums.  Ended up getting into the credits even, and there are quite a number of things in the game where I can point to them and say "Yeah, you can blame me for that one, bwahaha".  Me and one other person spent quite awhile doing this, getting every internal build of the game and constantly replaying through the whole thing, looking for problems and offering solutions to those problems, as well as coming up with ideas for content, and of course trying to assist in dealing with balance.  It was quite the process and was a lot of work (and had it's frustrating moments, because that type of testing usually does).  This is the sort of thing that you cannot do if you get your game into the EA process too late;  you *must* be in there early enough to really make this one happen.  Otherwise, those people you invite in aren't going to be able to help all that much, because so much of the game in question will be set in stone.    Another example of a game that's gone and done this sort of thing is 20XX (another favorite of mine and one that I'll ramble about for ages if allowed).  They have the normal testers on the Steam forums, and then the separate, much smaller group that helps with the loopy versions everyone else doesn't get to see, among other tasks.  Hell, I'll be taking a stab at area/chunk design within the game myself soon, in an attempt to help improve on certain parts of the game that I know could do with it.  And in that specific game, this bit has a pretty large impact too.   But yes, my point is, devs are able to get people to help with this stuff BECAUSE they've been doing the EA process since a certain point.   This sort of thing can have a BIG impact on the game in question, but yeah.... it's useless if it's done too late in the process.

The real problem here isn't the EA process itself:  It's those idiot developers that have taken it, added a game that got a bit too big, or a game that was just a mess from the start, or a game that wasnt even a freaking game but was a blasted scam, and then screwed it all up, running off like morons and ruining it for everyone else.  Or doing something like Ark's paid DLC bit that Toranth mentioned (yes, I too thought that was nasty, and I don't even play that). This can be either games that are in EA for a very short time before screwing up, or games that have been there quite a long while before screwing up.  Just because something has been in EA for a long while doesn't mean anything bad about it (hell, 20XX has been in that state for like 3 years now, and holy crap has THAT come along wonderfully), but those devs that do screw it up create that impression that it is bad.  And the sad thing?  It's not THAT bloody common.  Like I said, I buy games in EA *often*.  I have no spending limits and nothing even remotely resembling impulse control, as well as nothing but free time, all the time, so if I see one I want to try out?  Gonna grab it, pending research.  Even despite how often I do that and how often I've seen games all the way through the EA process, I can think of maybe TWO instances where I bought into one, and it went bad (and this is with me being as picky, negative, and critical as I usually am).   Just two.   The difference though:  Unlike a lot of people, despite that I'm buying so frequently I *always* do the research first.   It's usually not rocket science, to determine if a developer can be trusted to pull through, which is why it's been so extremely rare for me to run into a bad one. Hell, Ark is actually an example of this:  That's my sort of game actually.... but I didn't buy it.  Something was just "off" about it, was what I determined when looking into it originally (long before the DLC thing), so.... I didn't buy it. I don't remember what the specific thing I spotted was, but one way or another, I hit a red flag, and so, I didn't make the purchase, and was correct not to.  Wheras something like 20XX, I knew full well was going to be in EA for a LONG time.  That was apparent immediately.  But all the signs were there that it was going to become something special, which it indeed has, so I grabbed it.  It was just about researching it.   And that's the important part for consumers, is to realize that yes, THAT IS WHAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING.   *Research* your blasted purchases before making them. I don't mean just for games in EA, I mean for ANY game.   I cant count the number of times I've wanted to shriek that concept at someone.  Soooooooo much trouble can be avoided by really taking the time necessary to do that.  And if you're someone that has trouble getting money together to make such purchases, that becomes even more important.  But I watch people, over and over and over again, do NOTHING in this regard.  Sometimes I see someone THINK they're doing it, but they aren't REALLY doing it, they're just seeing a badly thought-out trailer or something and that's "research".  Which just.... no. 


Now, we could also go into the whole Kickstarter thing, too..... THAT one I have a different opinion on.   I've pitched in with Arcen's KS of course (because that's the ONE where I knew it to be worth it), but other than that, I avoid KS like the plague I usually consider it to be. I think there's been exactly one other exception, and that's it.   There's a big difference, to me, between grabbing something in EA that's playable *now* (and thus has lots that can be researched on it) and paying for something that DOESNT EXIST YET.  I just.... uuuuugh.  Yeah.  I'll not ramble about KS here.  But to say I have a low opinion of it is an understatement.   If I'm going to buy into something, I want it to be something that I can dig into RIGHT THE HELL NOW.  Which also means that others will have been able to as well, and that's important.


Now as for that bit brought up there about Steam ignoring crap?  UGH.   You know, Steam has been getting more and more wonky in recent times.  I'm not even going to get into what I think of the Steam store as a whole now.  I find games via my activity feed most of the time, which says something.   Bah, that's a whole other very long and rambly topic full of anger and smashing.

And then there's.... Greenlight.  Ahhhh, I'm glad that's gone.   That was a mess.  A total disaster.


Also, I'd just like to quote one thing here: 

Quote
To be honest I don't consider something in my steam library something of short lived value, to me if it's in my steam library, then that is a public statement I make as a customer, or consumer (since it's a luxury ware).

Yeah, I do the same thing actually.  I know there are some people that collect games just to have them, but.... I don't buy something if I don't intend on getting real time and value out of it, and I also intend on it representing me as a consumer pledging support to a product creator.  It has meaning, to make a purchase on any of these things, and I aint grabbing things just for the bloody achievements or to increase my collection count or something bloody stupid like that.  The game in question is either going to give me some real quality hours (and is going to come from a dev that isn't shady), or screw it I'm not buying it.   I find it kinda baffling that more people don't see it that way.



Aaaaaaaaanyway, that's just all some thoughts on this from someone that has done WAY too much bloody testing.   I can definitely say though the whole concept is not for everyone.   It works out for me, but I can understand why it might not work out for others.  But as long as you're actually researching the bloody product BEFORE BUYING, all is well.


Hopefully that wasn't TOO rambly.  I haven't been awake all that long yet so I'm not as coherent...

And OMIGOD everyone is ninja posting while I'm typing this.   I'm too lazy to go make all that many edits aside from that one quoted bit.  DEAL WITH IT.  I need caffeine. 
« Last Edit: July 17, 2017, 07:48:01 PM by Misery »

Offline eRe4s3r

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Re: Early Access, gift or plague?
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2017, 09:42:40 PM »
That's very rambly

some points
1# I think crowd funding has far greater potential and far greater risks, and I know them. But when a dev gets my money for potential game, it's HIS decision when he decides to give me something playable and if he does, how he calls it. That is a very simple thing, really. Don't give your backers a broken mess to play, or they might get very annoyed. Also maybe don't spend 4 years developing a game in EA with no visible progress, then you are not in EA. EA doesn't let you off from responsible behavior as someone who is selling something for money.

2# I think the fact that Early Access is simply not CLEARLY a certain thing (either you sell me alpha, beta, or a real feature finished game that just needs some testing and polishing) is one of my greatest issues with it. But to me Early Access stops being valid when a game is in development cycles longer than 3 years and shows no visible progress. The fact is most of those survival games in particular have raked in the cash, are "developing" till they run out of money or the feeling of responsibility and then they move on without a word. You know that is true ;P

3# You make a great point about research, but let me show you something....



Yes, 1 game is duplicated, because Steam
Yes, it shows also already owned games, because Steam
Yes, no EA game on this selection, but above and below it are many
That's from the current sale, filters # Singleplayer # Windows... 252 games on 11 pages

How would I ever research anything here. This store is failing on the basic premise (aside from 1 thing I bought of that, which is called "Dungeon Warfare" a very neat TD.... ) I clicked on it randomly because it sounded interesting from the hover popup. Anyhow, that's beside the point, I can not possibly research anything here, I have a fixed time window, a sale and I wanna know what's interesting..  and this page is all I get, not even an indication that something is in EA or not. I have to actually click on every single one of em to even know whether it's EA or not too, (because.. well , Steam clearly hates people who don't have infinite time to browse the store)

Realistically, for me this listing is completely worthless, I have to browse by user tag (And only certain tags work for this, weirdly enough) and hope the game is listed somewhere in the 2 categories (Top Sellers, Specials) on page 1.. if a single tag has more than 50 sales or so, that listing too is entirely worthless.

Anyhow, bringing me to
4# in essence, the store due to a vast overload of "tiny" more or less valid indy games has become entirely unusuable, I can not tell what is good indy title and what isn't. Basically I need an external source of information pointing me to a good indy game now, and that means Steam as a storefront for buying real polished GAMES is broken. EA, Direct Access muddies this further and further. SO taking the time to make sure something is not dead in EA, that's a valid thing to ask of someone, but taking time to investigate each developer, each developers past games and misdeeds? Heh, that's not viable.

Ah, the Universe knew I was ranting and gave me a super cool example of everything that is wrong with Early Access
Behold
https://steamcommunity.com/games/517070/announcements/detail/1421299655220124345
And of course, UBISOFT is involved. ;p
« Last Edit: July 17, 2017, 10:02:20 PM by eRe4s3r »
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Offline Draco18s

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Re: Early Access, gift or plague?
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2017, 10:59:02 PM »
Ah, the Universe knew I was ranting and gave me a super cool example of everything that is wrong with Early Access
Behold
https://steamcommunity.com/games/517070/announcements/detail/1421299655220124345
And of course, UBISOFT is involved. ;p

#NeverMadeItOutOfEarlyAccess

Offline Misery

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Re: Early Access, gift or plague?
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2017, 11:17:05 PM »
When it comes to research:  Never expect the Steam store to provide you with everything you need.

Up above I mentioned frequently using the activity feed... not the store... to find new games.  Sounds odd, yeah?  But it's been the truth of it for me for awhile now.  As you say, the Steam store is bloody BROKEN.  It's a freaking mess, a disaster.  It's been totally useless, at least in my opinion, for quite awhile now.  It's always trying to throw crap at me that I don't want, while hiding all the awesome stuff that I DO want.  It's an overwhelming, exploded mess, and the actual quality of a game never seems to have all that much to do with whether or not it gets onto that front page.  Often, I thusly learn about new games by simply watching the feed, and seeing what people I know (who are into the same things I am) are finding and buying.  That's how bloody messed up that storefront is.   From there, then, it's onto the actual game pages.

But when it comes to research, it's more than just looking there, because the problems extend further.  Going to a game's individual store page, for instance.  The best way I could put these:  "Unreliable".   Looking at JUST a game's store page, and going off of that, is like buying a full-priced AAA game based solely on some crappy, pre-rendered E3 trailer.  Those pages are meant for one thing, and one thing only:  To wow the customer with shiny stuff.  There's no way you're going to really get a sense of what a game is like just by even going there. 

As an example of how it goes for me, I do a number of things.  Obviously I'm going to look at the screenshots and whatnot on that page, because they are there, but that doesn't mean much.  Same with the description there.  It may be a good start, but it's still "advertiser speak" and never admits to any faults the game may have.  So, I go elsewhere.   There's a few good things that anyone can do to look into a game more.  Just a couple of examples:  1.  YouTube.  Go watch some people playing the game, and commenting on it.  Specifically, if you can find anyone playing it that isn't a bloody moron.  Or even just go for a gameplay video without commentary, and analyze what you see.  You can get a TON of info just out of doing this, and it's going to be much more "pure" info because it's not being distorted into a trailer form.   2. Check the developer's website.  See what you can learn about them.  How many previous games have they made?  How long have they been doing business?  Is the site itself of decent quality?  Do they have an active community?  The answers to these questions can help you determine if this developer is both experienced and trustworthy.  3.  Look at the game's forums, and see what people are talking about on them.  If you go to a game's forum, and all you see is giant piles of complaints and such, that could be a possible sign of a problem.  Not always though.... sometimes you need to dig a bit deeper to make sure it's not just people flipping out about some recent patch or something as people tend to do.  But generally, looking at the forums and the topics that have been big in recent times there can tell you a heck of a lot about both the game, and the developer. 4.  Steam reviews.  Yes, I know, there are problems with these.  Look for reviews by people who have ALOT of hours in the game you're looking at.  See what kinds of impressions are common of the game, when that many hours have been put in.   DONT bother with reviews from people that have very few hours.   And keep in mind that this is one of the lesser things you can do as research goes... it's still potentially helpful, but also potentially not.  5.  See if you can find any articles about the game in question, on sites that might cover such things.  I don't necessarily mean professional reviews, just articles in general.  Or articles about the developer.


Those are just some examples of what I mean.  And yeah, I know:  It's time consuming, though not as much as you may think.  The way I look at it is this:  One way or another, these things cost money.  You're dishing out real money for something, that you probably put real time and effort into earning, and it can be a significant amount.  You don't want to be just dumping that into a blender.  So if you're going to dish out the cash, you may as well take the time to really be SURE that you're putting it into something that wont just eat it and not give anything back in return.  Yes, doing research on these things can be time consuming, but if you're going to do it.... do it the correct way and be thorough.  And hey, you're going to potentially spend a bunch of hours on the game in question, yeah?  Well, that's another thing you don't want to waste, is time.  You can end up wasting MUCH more time by NOT researching and buying something crappy, than by correctly researching and deciding not to purchase.   I say all of this because too many times I've brought this up and people don't want to do it because "it takes too long".   They'll then later come back saying that they bought such-and-such and wasted 20 hours on such an awful game, and how could that happen, OMG, blah blah blah....  and I facepalm every time.  All the stuff I'm mentioning up above?  It really doesn't take that long.   The YouTube aspect, that's the part that can take awhile, but if I'm going to look up gameplay videos, I just watch them while having a meal (and hey, can get some entertainment out of them anyway).  The rest though... it doesn't take long. Gimme about 20-30 minutes, and aside from the YouTube bit, I've got all I need to know.  Granted, I'm also completely used to doing this, so I tend to do it really quickly, but still.  In the end it can and will save you both money AND time.  And I figure:  If I cant spend even just that much time to research it?  Then I probably don't have time to play the game, either, right?

Obviously, you're not going to do this with every bloody product that appears on Steam.  But when you're looking around, and you see something that MIGHT be interesting.... do these things, is what I'm saying.  Most people just don't.  It's really no different than when you're browsing products at an actual physical store.  You don't have time to stop and read the back of every freaking box on a rack of like 500 different boxes, but you should STILL always make sure you really know what you're getting before you take it to the counter.  It's common sense, and it applies here too.

And if someone just doesn't have time to research or doesn't want to, then honestly, buying early access products is absolutely not the way to go.  It's just not for them, that's all. 


Also I looked at that link there.... as always, it's not surprising that Ubisoft screwed something up.   

Though, this also brings up one other rule I try to follow, when it comes to early access games:  Never, ever, EVER buy one that is multiplayer focused, unless you REALLY know the developer very well.  Just don't.  Singleplayer games are one thing.  But things get weird when you're dealing with multiplayer-focused stuffs in the EA process.  The potential for blazing lunacy grows exponentially.   Usually if I see that a game has too much multiplayer focus, is in a buyable state, AND ISNT IN FULL RELEASE YET, I ignore it.  And too many times, EXPECT it to crash.... and it does.  It's sad, and definitely annoying, but it's also REALLY common.  Getting a multiplayer-focused game fully up and going these days takes a monumental effort (particularly considering the massive already-existing competition), and lots of devs/publishers think they can do it, but end up falling short.  Even the big guys.  Hell, the "big guys" just make it worse, bringing corporate stupidity into it..... ugh.  That's a whole other rant though (like, 5 pages worth of a rant). 


On a side note.... why does anyone even buy games from companies like Ubisoft these days?  I mean, seriously....   Why?  These groups prove themselves to be exceedingly nasty and untrustworthy over and over and over again, but people keep flinging money at them even if they've been burned 100 times in the past.   WHY do people keep doing this?  I genuinely don't get that.  I really don't.  Where is the logic here?  IS there any logic?   I mean, it's like buying something from EA itself:  Everyone KNOWS it's a seriously awful company.  That's just a fact.  But they just buy their crap anyway, even when that crap is stuffed with really obvious issues like day-one DLC or that infestation of preorder culture.   But they still do it anyway!  And they often freaking put preorders on it! 


I just.... argh, I don't get it.  Someone feel free to explain to me just how this makes anything resembling sense.

Offline TheVampire100

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Re: Early Access, gift or plague?
« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2017, 12:47:14 AM »
When did change Subnautica something in their gameplay stuff? Did I miss something?

I haven't read through everything now, so I'll just feature some thoughts and experiences I had with Early Access and will reply to specific posts )if I see this necessary) later.

So, first I agree that Factorio is a very good example of an EA title done right. Factorio had, when it came out, already the ending and everything to reach that, in there. They later changed the ending/end game significantally (or they are currently working ont hat, I don't remember). To make it clear, before it was "Build rocket, escape from planet", now it's (or planned as) "build rocket, get extra research value from that". Or you get something from the rocket, I don't remember what it was but I think research. This solution was done, because people wanted to play on after reaching the "end" of the game, so this is more aof a convenient change. Besides that, the game hasn't changed much and is still in the "early" stages of EA according to their own build numbering (0.15). So... idf the game is in fact feature complete, what else do they want to add? For me it sounds more like 0.8 instead of 0.1.
Anyway, currently Factorio is a good example of EA done rigth. But seeing that they consider this an early build of the game, this might not last so. Or they just decide, that the game is finished anyway, "let's just slap '1.0' on it".

Now, here are some other experiences, I had with EA.
Best example (or worst?) is StarForge. the game was funded with crowdfunding (I don't think it was Kickstarter but it was something similiar) and then released the game as EA. Bougth it then, game was okay-ish. It was even one of the first games in Early Access. Game had soem early features, that worked but a lot of stuff, tht didn't and a lot of stuff, that was missing entirely. They had many planned features and a lot of that stuff sounded good. Fortress Mode, a Tower Defense Mode in Survival evironment (build your fortress during day, protect it during the night), the mode itself was already in the game and working.
The funny thing is, instead of adding stuff, they continued to remove stuff from the game. It wasa bizarre backward development process inw hich the game got only worse and worse. They added an RPG system that worked perfectly fine, just to remove it on the next patch again because they said 8they want to improve itfirst), then they said the entire thing didn't work out as itnended, so they scrapped the entire idea. Fortress mode was removed as well, probably because they couldn't figure out how worms could attack and destroy walls or tunnel beneath them which was, what they initially promised. The game is one of the most prominent examples how EA can fail and it was one of the first games, that did this.
Best part? they made another game, actually it is the same thing, bust instead of a sci-fi/space setting, it's a medival one. It was early Access. And it failed. They did the same thing, the same game with another theme and made the same mistake. And people bought into it. Midn you, I did not but others did. Oh, hey, and they praised the second one first. Just liek they did with Starforge. That lasted unti they "released" the game and the community realized, that they basically got scammed.
Still salty, forever salty.

Sunless Sea. The game is a good example how big the change in a game can be and how drastic this can change the way, the community views the game. Sunless Sea was never about the battles, but at the start it had a round-based battle system. Basically what JRPGs do, you traverse the overworld, you meet an enemy, you engage combat. Battles were very boring because there was no meaning behind your actions and basically everything oneshotted you anyway. They then added on-map battles in real time. Which I find a lot better except you have to circle enemies like crazy (more with ship types, less with creatures) but people got mad as hell and decided to shit on the developers for that. They really wanted a round-based battle system, soemthign with tactics and such.
Besides that, the game had almost everything fromt he start, there was an ending you could reach, there were stories and the gameplay elements, but not all islands and locations, they added this later. They also added additional endings between you can choose.
In general, the game is good and had a good EA phase but the period, where they changed the battle system, was very dark and led to a very toxic environment in the forum.

Fortresscraft Evolved, one of the best Voxel games I know, was EA. And the EA phase was probably the most problematic thign about it, especially the transition from EA to full release. The game had many concept/gameplay shifts, it started as prototype, were you literally had nothing to do, there were soem kidn of enemies, that you could shoot but these didn't do anything, neither did they attack you nor did they drop something, the whole thing was just there for testing purposes if gunplay would work. You could build stuff and you could conenct machines that did or did not work together. Most stuff was buildable but didn't had a purpose. or it simply didn't work. The whole thing was just a prototype. This is most likely because the game started as Creative game and only that. That whole survival mode was developed on top of that. This was planned from the start but the developer (who designs the game mostly alone) decided that he wanted to release creative mode, which was not much as work, first into EA and then add survival later, as he works on it. Wasn't very smart and people got a little mad about it. He constantly changed stuff, removed bits, added other stuff later. Eventually he was fed up with the constant criticism towards his game, which is funny because that's what EA is about. he released the game as "full rleease" and stated he did so, even if it's unfinished, because people complained about the game and he thougth EA would protect him from this. Lol, how naive can you be?
Anyway, appearantly he thought a full release would make up for it but of course, because the entire thing wasn't even done, he got more insults and complains. And when I say "not done" I mean it. the game had a lot of missing stuff, there were placeholders left and right, icons missing, UI not done, machines, that weren't there but were needed and I think the ending was not in there (or maybe it was). He added this stuff later in a monthly cycle but this didn't stop him to ask on Patreon for people to support him further, so he can keep developing the game. He basically begged that people pay for the completion of his unfinished product. Which is not okay. i love the game. I love everythign about it. But I hate the developer. And I hate the way how he interacts with his community. I've rarely seen a developer that does interact so negatively with his community, even thos, that support him. He simply shrugs off (and not ina  nice way) suggestions, not because they are impssoible to add but because he simply does not want them. And he tells this straight to his customers, he tells them, he finds an idea stupid and because of that he will never ever change that. Other stuff that he mentioned was impossible to add, was later modded by the community into the game. He later admitted, he was just to lazy to do it and added the mod in the game himself.
Also, he changes features drastically to make the game harder/longer than it was before (fakign actual gameplay time). You know why? Because, when people bug him about actual gameplay, he points to the fact, that the game has about XX hours of game time. Yeah, right, smart ass, but you forgot to tell them, thaz most time comes fromt he fact, that you made most stuff awefully slow and grindy.
The gameplay would be so good if no for the fact, that he likes to slow down the game pace more and more. Factorio does not have this problem, the player can decide their own pacing, if they want stuff to speed up, they build more miners, more factories, more research labs etc. Fortresscraft tries with it's fake game time to do the same thing, but people found more efficient and faster ways to do this, so he simply removed this stuff and made it slower. Ouch. If the game itself wouldn't be so good, I wouldn't have bought any of the expansions.

I recently started to play Emperyon which is what Starforge wanted to be but without the Fortress Defense mode (I have FCE for that anyway) or maybe it's mor eliek what No Mans Sky wanted to be. or maybe it's just another attempt to jump on a popular game release/genre (this happens all the times, a very famous/popular game comes out, other, independant developers try to make the same game in their own image and most of the time screw it up). I know NMS didn't get good criticism after release but before it came out it was literally praised as the coming of the next messiah of video games. So of course people would, even before release, start to make somethign similiar.
Emperyon is such a game. It's a good game, I give them that, maybe a little empty (as it's still EA but honestly, how much does this mean nowadays anyway?). Game features a complex base building system, your base has a computer core (that you have to build first) and you can tap into that computer and operate the base as you want, decide what is powered, what systems you want to use and so on. You need oxygen? Okay, turn on the oxygen. Your base is built aroudn that core but besides the usual building blocks you need of course other stuff, like an energy generator, energy tanks, oxygen tank, ventilators to pump oxygen into the base and so on. It's quite complex because you cannot simply "build rooms and are done" like in other games. However, if you are on a planet with oxygen, you don't need oxygen for your base of course.
This system applies for space ships as well but you also have to consider engines and stuff. The game allows you to freely create and design vehicles with various parts and the option to mod in your own parts. This makes the possiilities limitless.
Addionally, factions. You can create or join factions (from other playrs, NPC factions) which work together, it's actually similiar to ARKs tribes that multiple player form an alliance together. You could be traders, you could be priates, you could be something else. This is of course only interesting for Multiplayer purposes and as far as NPCs go, interactions are quite limited. You can trade with them, that's something I guess.
Some problems I have with the game right now: Dinosaurs. I don't like to see them on alien planets. Simply reminds me that the developers lack imagination for their own alien races. There ARE aliens but on your first planet you will dinosaurs.
Base building (and vehicle building) is a little overcomplicated for new players. It takes some time to get around all the base controls and to understand, what you actually need. On the first planet you don't need a base anyway because there is oxygen but on planets, where this isn't the case, you need one.
Mining is... bugged? I'm not sure if this is the case but the thing is, mining included terrain deformation (obviously) and since the game is not made of blocks, this leads to problems. If you try to mine horizontally or diagonally, you still mine vertically. I don't know why this always happens, I want to mien in a straight line and still mine downwards. I always have a shaft and it's hard to get out of these. The game even tells you not to do this because you can not get out of them easily.
Also, mined terrain is kind of bugged. It always seems slippery, even if it is almost horizontally arrenged. So in the end, you always slip back into your pit. I hope they improve this, since minign is so important. Besdes that, the ectual mining process works smooth and is supriringly fast.
I have mixed feelign with this EA, mostly, because I had a similiar game before that failed hardly. Still, game is good enough to satisfy my hunger.


I buy into a lot of EA. And I'm not always happy with the result. the thing is, happy with the result. The actual EA process as that. You have to udnerstand that EA existed before Steam. Developers had unfinished products that you could play before release if you preordered the game. Minecraft. They just had this on their own website. Steam now gives them a platform, so now developers use this. Scammers as well bu scammers use anything, asset flips, unfinished products, meme games, to get money really quick with less effort.
I'm mostly happy with the full release of games I own, tose that are still unfinished/unpolished druing release, fiy that later.
Big examples are FCE and War for the Overworld. Both came out as messy and clunyk games but both got fixed later to awesome stuff.
Other games had their gameplay changed but I kinda liked that, Sunless Sea and Starbound.
Only a very few a, even long after release, messes that I don't touch in any way. Starforge and Paranautical Acitivity.

EA is not the problem. Developers are. And the majority of games I bought in EA tell me, that there are more developers, who take this seriously, then those, who take it not seriously. Mind you, I rarely drift down the path were you find horrid abomniations of games. I hear from asset flips and such only from Youtube, I don't even find this stuff myself on Steam

Offline Misery

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Re: Early Access, gift or plague?
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2017, 02:33:04 AM »
Ah yes, I remember Starforge.  That game was one of the two that I bought that went bad.  I cant remember what the other one was.

That was a nasty situation, too.

Fortresscraft is an interesting example:  It's one of the ones that shows that it can be important to know about the developer behind the game, because the way they act and respond to stuff is inevitably going to have an effect on the finished product.  And some devs are like that one... angry and unable to take criticism.  Now granted, I know that it can be hard to deal with that.  To some degree, it's difficult to avoid getting annoyed, when it's related to something you've put so much work in.  But if a dev cant act professional and such in the wake of negative reviews/comments, they're only going to did the pit deeper.

Empyrion is another interesting example.  That game is EA done right, as I see it.  CONSTANT updates.  Very detailed patch notes.  Updates tend to be pretty big, too... this is clearly a game where they intend a huge amount of content.  This is a developer that has made it very clear that they really do care about the product they are producing, and the community around it.  Clearly passionate about the whole thing, and that's good.

Starbound:  Hoboy.  Now THAT is a story.  That had one hell of a rocky EA process.  I made the decision to buy it anyway, after carefully looking around.  I had a feeling the development was going to be slower than a box of dead snails, and it was.  They had LONG periods between updates.  Very long.  However, I was kinda used to other games doing this, games that somehow had some association to that one, so I expected it.  Also as expected, when an update did hit, it tended to be REALLY HUGE.  Gigantic updates with game-changing mechanics and loads of new content.  Like the most recent one that adds mechs and space stations and all this cool stuff that isn't at all like what was there before.  Mech-in-space combat for instance is very, very different than normal combat.   But yeah, the whole EA process was more than a little loopy.  However, I have been quite pleased with the end result.  It's another take on the Terraria formula, but going with some very different gameplay ideas.  Where Terraria's combat is wild, with lasers and bees going all over the place, Starbound is careful and deliberate, making small encounters potentially dangerous, and requiring that you pay attention instead of just smashing the button over and over again (unless the enemy is too far below your level, that is).  It's difficult in it's own unique way and you cant just fly around all the time.  And some people really hated that, as many of them went into it expecting another Terraria (sigh).  But in an overall sense?  I think it's turned out to be pretty great.   AND it's designed to be very moddable.  If you don't like something, or think something should be added?  You can do that.  The game has it's issues, but in my experience, they aren't big ones.  The EA process was a bloody nightmare for the devs, I imagine... but in the end they showed their dedication and got it done.  I highly respect them for this.  It's not easy to get through that sort of thing, in the face of the negativity that people were flinging.  That negativity though has changed since then, and the game has done well. 


Minecraft:  Yep, this is the one that really brought the whole EA/beta process into the spotlight.  And I think also that it's a GREAT example of EA done right.  The devs have always made the development process very clear and open.  Both the current devs, and Notch himself back in the old days... they kept secrets sometimes, because players tended to like that idea, but at the same time, they were transparent about where they were going.  And they've evolved that idea, with the snapshot builds, giving players the option to try the new content RIGHT FREAKING NOW rather than wait for the official big update patch.  Impatient players such as myself can jump into each new piece of content as it's made (if they are willing to put up with occaisional loopy bugs), others that prefer to wait for a "finished" update can do so.   What's more, in my opinion they've done a great job of understanding where to take the game.  They don't let criticism get to them, and they show that they understand the game well with the choices they make for it.  There's ALWAYS going to be that obnoxious group of "OMG THIS UPDATE RUINED IT" players... you cant shut them up.  But the devs know this, and they know that this group is vocal yet also small.  The game is just as bloody huge as it always is, and the fact that the content has just plain been constantly GOOD is part of why this is.  Minecraft has not needed a sequel yet, because it has become it's own sequel.... that's how much they've updated and changed the game since the old days of it.  The other thing I like is that they add content for ALL playstyles.  Sometimes they'll focus on adding new adventure stuff... other times they'll do redstone circuits and related things.  They keep the updates varied.  It means that sometimes there'll be patches you don't care about, but it keeps the game's focus on that "something for everyone" idea.  I've been very impressed with everything they've done with it over the years.  And it just keeps getting better.  Heck, that next update is looking to be something special.  Not the sort of update I thought I'd ever see them do, but they're doing it anyway. 

Offline eRe4s3r

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Re: Early Access, gift or plague?
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2017, 10:52:32 AM »
When did change Subnautica something in their gameplay stuff? Did I miss something?

I haven't read through everything now, so I'll just feature some thoughts and experiences I had with Early Access and will reply to specific posts )if I see this necessary) later.

So, first I agree that Factorio is a very good example of an EA title done right. Factorio had, when it came out, already the ending and everything to reach that, in there. They later changed the ending/end game significantally (or they are currently working ont hat, I don't remember). To make it clear, before it was "Build rocket, escape from planet", now it's (or planned as) "build rocket, get extra research value from that". Or you get something from the rocket, I don't remember what it was but I think research. This solution was done, because people wanted to play on after reaching the "end" of the game, so this is more aof a convenient change. Besides that, the game hasn't changed much and is still in the "early" stages of EA according to their own build numbering (0.15). So... idf the game is in fact feature complete, what else do they want to add? For me it sounds more like 0.8 instead of 0.1.
Anyway, currently Factorio is a good example of EA done rigth. But seeing that they consider this an early build of the game, this might not last so. Or they just decide, that the game is finished anyway, "let's just slap '1.0' on it".


They recently (Subnautica) changed how air tanks and the big sub work, previously any air tank in your inventory added to your total air-time (time that you could stay underwater). And the big sub was previously like a base-building that you could take with you (it's not anymore) Sounds like a small change, but completely changes how the game is played. When before you had a lot of time to explore deep underwater, now you have 45 seconds (give or take) not enough for cutting open the wreck doors.... none of the small ships can reach far down either... to me this is one of the worst changes this game ever did. Because this changes the games genre away from exploration....

Factorio has many big plans post 1.0 (0.16 is supposed to be the final version, when that reaches final it's 1.0) but I think it's important to keep in mind that as a game Factorio is already *it* launch a rocket, feel good, now launch 1 rocket every minute, or 10 rockets every minute... and so on ;p

But real end-game stuff is gonna come eventually, I am not sure even the devs know where they wanna take it from "launching rockets"... probably literally to space (platforms), we'll see ;p
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Offline TheVampire100

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Re: Early Access, gift or plague?
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2017, 11:54:22 AM »
Up above I mentioned frequently using the activity feed... not the store... to find new games.  Sounds odd, yeah?  But it's been the truth of it for me for awhile now.  As you say, the Steam store is bloody BROKEN.  It's a freaking mess, a disaster.  It's been totally useless, at least in my opinion, for quite awhile now.  It's always trying to throw crap at me that I don't want, while hiding all the awesome stuff that I DO want.  It's an overwhelming, exploded mess, and the actual quality of a game never seems to have all that much to do with whether or not it gets onto that front page.  Often, I thusly learn about new games by simply watching the feed, and seeing what people I know (who are into the same things I am) are finding and buying.  That's how bloody messed up that storefront is.   From there, then, it's onto the actual game pages.

I can actually say I do pretty much the same thing. or at least, very similiar. First thing I do every day is to look at the frontpage what new games came out. Well, not every day but at least twice a week. That way  can see if there is anything new that interests me or not. It is? Wishlist or, if it's a game I REALLY want to have, instant buy. Then I check the recommendations at the top. Most of the time they were crap until I adjusted the hell out of this thing until it finally gave me decent results. Mind you, it still shows me a lot of stuff over and over that I'm not interested in or that I even already wishlisted (what? You know I want it already, why still bothering me with it?). The fantastic thing about the recent frontpage changes is, that it now also shows automatically recommendations based on reviews and acticivity of firends. A friend played this game and liked it? Steam shows this to me. This is the stuff I'm interested in ecause I'm interested in what my friends play and if I could like this game as well.
Now, the other half of it. I use the activity feed (what a big surprise) to stalk my friends and see what they do. What games have they bought, what screenshots have they made, achievements, maybe a small comment about a game or even a full review. Misery is certainly on the top of this but only because he spams the damn thing like the madman he is. However, since he has a similiar taste in games than me, i don't midn it that much, i can learn about one or another game that way. However, his endless rants about a game he is currently obsessed with can get tiresome from time to time.
Misery is however not the only person I look out for, I have around 20 friends on my Steam list and about the half of them plays and interacts regulary with Steam.
This may sound now a little harsh but basically I use my friends as mules for games. I persuade them into buying certain games they might be interested in, not because I want to show them stuff they like but because I know they will eventually tell me how they like the game (or I ask them, if they don't do so) to make my own decision if I would buy the game. It's surprisingly easy to manipulate people into doing this.

They recently (Subnautica) changed how air tanks and the big sub work, previously any air tank in your inventory added to your total air-time (time that you could stay underwater). And the big sub was previously like a base-building that you could take with you (it's not anymore) Sounds like a small change, but completely changes how the game is played. When before you had a lot of time to explore deep underwater, now you have 45 seconds (give or take) not enough for cutting open the wreck doors.... none of the small ships can reach far down either... to me this is one of the worst changes this game ever did. Because this changes the games genre away from exploration....

Factorio has many big plans post 1.0 (0.16 is supposed to be the final version, when that reaches final it's 1.0) but I think it's important to keep in mind that as a game Factorio is already *it* launch a rocket, feel good, now launch 1 rocket every minute, or 10 rockets every minute... and so on ;p

But real end-game stuff is gonna come eventually, I am not sure even the devs know where they wanna take it from "launching rockets"... probably literally to space (platforms), we'll see ;p
I know that about the sub but I missed that with air tanks. Like, the whole thing. I always used only one tank (in my equipment slot) and didn't know you could put more into your inventroy, so your guy "swaps" them for a longer diving time. I guess in the early game this has quite the impact (for peopel that used this method before) but once you have the Mobile Vehicle Bay and the Sea Moth, you won't use anything else anyway. Since I managed to do this before, it's not impossible but I can see that people wuld find this "grindy" and "annoying", I know hthat I did back then. Once I had however Sea Moth, it was over. You basically don't need anything else.

Okay, weird numbering system, I always thought 0.9=close to final version.
Anyway, Factorio is more about the "just build a factory and do your stuff, improve it and make ti better all the time" and less about "just play the game until you reach the end". Factorio and FCE are very close in terms of gameplay but that part is what makes them different. Factorio encourages players to improve ont heir supply chains, not because you reach the goal that way (which you basically could with hand mining and hand crafting most of the time) but because you can see improvments immediatly and that's a reward loop. Add stuff to production chain, production goes faster, you feel good, use faster stuff to add new production chains -> and so on.
FCE on the other hand lacks this kind of principle. It really wants to have that but there is one major flaw in that: It's artificial grind. Factorio has real grind, not something that is forced into you. It only has "Just make this much of that, that and that item". How you reach that is up to you and like I said before, you can do this entirely by hand. Mien stuff by hand, craft it by hand. Takes forever but it woudl work. This encourages the player to build a basic supply chain. "Oh, cool, now I don't have to mine by myself anymore, just to craft". Takes still forever because of crafting times. So you build factories. And this goes on. Whenever soemthign takes too lang, the player takes it into his own hand to speed things up.

FCE on the other hand simply has slow crawling conveyor belts that take forever until they reach their destination. It never was an issue that conveyors were slow, you simply could smelt stuff underground. Until he removed that because he wanted, that people craft stuff on the surface. This of course slowed production by a ton of time. Instead of having one bar, you now have four ore pieces that have to be transported seperately. Doesn't help that you start with only one smelter and it takes forever to get your second smelter (and more after that) because it was a smart idea to make a rare resource a crafting material of the smelter. Even progress is somehow weird because you need a specific ore to REACH that ore. What? Yeah, good luck in figurering that one out. I did eventually find out what he wanted me to do but the thing is, the game is nor always clear about how progress works and because it's very straightforward instea of "you could either do this or that right now" you have not much of a choice. Doesn't help that research takes forever and if you don't did the right research first, you waste tons of resoruces and still don't see any progress. Plus, every time you do research, you trigger a huge power increase that triggers constant wasp attacks. This gives you tons of loot that you cannot use at that point anyway. Yay.
Really love the game but the way he made progress is insane. And he did this simply to stretch the play time.

But when you have stuff like ARK - years in EA, but also releasing paid DLC - it begins to look like the Google "Beta" scam.
I don't know what this Google Beta Scam is, buu ARK is pretty much the worst experience I has since a long time. Both gameplay wise (they literally didn*t change/adress any on the ocurring problems so far) and from the EA policy.