There's a further discussion here as of this morning: http://arcengames.com/announcing-in-case-of-emergency-release-raptor/#comment-2389
You know, I never thought I’d say it, but maybe Early Access/an open beta would benefit SBR?
As much as I liked SR and am looking forward to Raptor, I can’t help but feel they are mere distractions, while we wait for SBR. I wasn’t this excited for a game in a long time. Maybe your perception of the game is just so tainted by burning out on it that you exaggerate its flaws and getting a lot of outside perspectives could recalibrate your own? Or maybe I am just unwilling to accept that the stars are beyond reach?
Me: Cheers — it’s a possibility. The main thing is that the game has never been in a finished, “able to really play all the way through” state. We’ve had the military and citybuilding aspects there, but getting in fun and engaging trade and politics or whatnot for non-military interactions has never passed the prototype stage. Each version of that we did was always underwhelming enough that people just kept staying military.
There’s a lot about the game I love, but I’m not the one to work on it anymore. If Keith feels like he can make it work, then we’ll go ahead with it. If not… then perhaps there’s someone else who might want to take up the mantle of this particular game, we’ll see. Either way, though I’ve contributed a lot to this game (as have a lot of other people), I can’t think of anything more to add to it at this point from my perspective. Someone else would look at it a different way, I’m sure.
The problem with Early Access is that once we do that sort of thing, we’ve taken your money and are committed to it. So we can’t go “oh, nevermind, that actually was a bad idea and we’ll stop development now to avoid bleeding money while we finish something unsatisfactory.” We just have to instead rush it out as fast as possible to get it to a state that we can call done, to cut our losses while at the same time hopefully minimizing fallout in our reputation with you. You’ve seen other developers do this, and it’s not because they are bad people — it’s the situation they put themselves in, accidentally. I don’t want to put myself in that situation.
There were a couple of other posts on there, too, so feel free to scroll up in that comment chain, which is all about SBR.
I'd like to hear Keith on how he's doing with SBR. If Arcen now has two pipelines, it would be a bit confusing to have two lines of updates/devblog, but I bet it would be interesting nonetheless.
We will probably have two or three lines of devblog coming up before too long. The Starward Rogue crew of Freaking Volunteers(tm) (Misery included) will likely be writing some stuff about the work they're doing there. Keith is not the long public writing sort, so we'll see on that. I've had periodic updates from him, basically every time something major changes or a model fails or succeeds.
Right now there's basically two more subsystems to be coded out, and if they work then the project probably goes ahead, and if not then the project probably gets iced. Or turned over to someone else if someone else has ideas that I like the sound of, and we can come to some sort of arrangement. I agree that I don't want to see this project die. But I'd rather us all have fond wistful memories of what it could have been rather than a putrid stink of "oh gosh that's what it was and it was not good."
In terms of Keith, he's currently out of the office on family matters (all good things), and so won't be around much at all for... a few weeks at least, I'd guess, but it's hard to say exactly.
I saw the exchange in the comments section of Chris' first Release Raptor blog post. That guy was awfully rude so kudos to you for responding to him in such a polite and honest way.
I appreciate it. That was a frustrating comment, yeah.
Tbh, I didn't really expect this game to potentially never be released either. It held so much promise for you guys, and the "Let's Play Blogs" from last Winter made it seem like it was coming along so smoothly, even if it did have a few rough edges to iron out.
I guess my question is, what happened? It seems like you guys hit a giant obstacle and it threw the entire project off track. I know one obstacle was the release date, which you were afraid the game wouldn't be polished enough for. But now it sounds like it was more than just a polish problem, it's as if there were certain mechanics that were so problematic they were preventing the game from being enjoyable. Last thing I remember you guys working on before the break was the diplomacy thing, and maybe that's where everything got stuffed up? I had mentioned before in the forums that I've never seen a 4X handle diplomacy in an interesting or satisfactory way, so if that were a major barrier, I guess I would understand.
You pretty much nailed it right there. I think that the citybuilding and combat came a long way since Misery looked at it last (so far as I know), and I was pretty happy with that in the main. Even so, there were some unintuitive things about it that bugged me with the combat in particular.
The diplomacy and so forth was really the big sticking point, and just kept dragging out. I thought that I'd figured out a solution to that back in the time period of those blog posts, and I was really pleased with how that bit was shaping up. I felt like it needed more meat on its bones to not be so repetitive, but that otherwise it was creating a feeling of a living world.
Turns out that was... sort of true. Even with a lot of content, there was still a ton of stuff happening ALL THE TIME. And each turn it was like "I have to read these 12 new messages, ugh." That surprised me. Not that other people had that reaction, but that I personally did. The information overload of stuff I had to wade through in order to make it feel thematic really just didn't work for me. Being ABLE to dig into that sort of thing is great, and I love that about Dwarf Fortress, but the way this design panned out it made you HAVE to do that. Blah.
Anyway, I don't mean to pry I just want to understand why the project went from nearly completed last year to a future of uncertainty today. I say this as a person who never actually got to test the game myself, I think I signed up just days before the next wave of beta keys were about to go out. From what I remember most the beta testers were really enjoying it at the time and I was excited to try it.
I think a lot of the testers were enjoying what it could be, and what it almost was. The problem was, I was hitting a brick wall that was kind of fatal. I think the testers were being more forgiving than they otherwise would because they had faith I would overcome that wall. I tried a number of things for months, and it just was not a wall I could get past.
Keith and I have very different approaches to the same concept, and so back in February after Starward Rogue came out he moved on to a heavy reworking of SBR. He basically gutted the entire game and started over from scratch in terms of mechanics, simply keeping the graphics but making all the things even mean completely different things. What the game was before and what it is now are radically different to the point that it would be like saying Settlers is the same as Civilization. The premise is the same in the main, yeah, but how you go about everything
His earliest designs were based on ideas from Colonization, whereas I was drawing more from SimCity and Civilization. He quickly found out that wasn't working out so hot, though, so he's gone through some complete revisions of his complete revisions. Originally he was only going to spend about a month and a half to find out for sure if this was a viable product he could make, but instead it's been three. A few more weeks after he's back around, and there will be the do-or-die point, given that this is already 2x over budget in the yet-again-rework phase.
And from there, if that happens... I don't know. A couple of weeks ago he was still really undecided, but basically was giving it 50/50 odds of going either way.
I will say one thing though: Kudos to Chris & Keith for NOT releasing it in that state. Many other developers would have just done it ANYWAY (even if it wasn't cost reasons pushing them to do so). As opposed to making sure that it's fun first.
I do appreciate it, thanks for that. If Keith can't make this work, then I hope to find someone else who can in some way. I'd ultimately rather have some form of game result from this and be a fun thing, and maybe start to recoup at least some of the $420k+ I spent on this, than just mothball it forever. But I also can't just fling more and more money at this forever, and from a personal stance I'm out of ideas on this particular game.