Author Topic: New Release Date: November 18th. (edit: nevermind)  (Read 4415 times)

Offline x4000

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New Release Date: November 18th. (edit: nevermind)
« on: October 06, 2015, 09:15:30 PM »
First off, apologies for all the people who have sent me notes publicly or privately that I've not responded to yet.  I'm really trying!  I'm just absolutely swamped and overwhelmed right now.  I will get through the backlog, and I'm trying to make sure I read as much as possible (in particular PMs) to make sure I don't miss anything.  That said, I am steering clear of some threads right now just for emotional reasons; I'm really up and down right now.

Anyway, the core topic here: there is a delay coming up in the game's release date, pushing back to November 18th.  I just don't feel like it can get polished enough in the next two weeks to do right by the company in terms of reputation, and it also wouldn't be good for marketing reasons in terms of not having advance copies to press.  In the end I'd rather eat the extra expense of another month and run the risks associated with the gauntlet of games coming out in November than put out something that I know is not quite ready.

No way to really avoid this.  The guys at Valve point out that it's better to release a game that is good than one that is early.  Not that we're on course to be early by any standard known to man, but I'm paraphrasing.  We're hitting a good spot with the game in a whole lot of respects.  Things are feeling increasingly good with the interface, things that annoy players are dropping like flies, we're moving toward a complete experience very rapidly, etc, etc.

But what about my own extensive testing?  What about prerelease press?  What about fixing the things that people are finding in testing beyond the absolute bare minimum stuff?  What about tutorials and clarity?  Not just the obvious stuff, but the stuff that really gets people into it easily.  What about reviews anywhere remotely resembling at launch?

There's a lot we could do in the next two weeks, but I'm running myself down to the point of absolute raggedness, and I'm not sure how much quality output I can maintain.  It's putting some extreme stress on my family, too.  And I don't think it's good for the final product.

I feel like a broken record, but I think it's better we take our chances in the November timeframe.  The gauntlet we have to run:

- Anno 2205 is slated for November 5th, and is a big competitor in theory.
- StarCraft II: Info The Void is November 10th and is another biggie.
- Fallout 4 is November 10th.
- Star Wars: Battlefront is November 17th.
- Thanksgiving is November 26th, so presumably there is a lot of stuff of some sort in that time period.
- Just Cause 3 is December 1st.

My thought at present is maybe the 18th of November.  Initially I would have said the 13th, but that's so darn close to SC II's expansion.  I would have said the 17th, but probably all coverage will be Star Wars.  Maybe we should even do the 19th, but I don't like getting so close to Thanksgiving and press traveling, etc.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2015, 04:44:50 PM by x4000 »
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Offline Captain Jack

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Re: New Release Date: November 18th.
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2015, 09:49:13 PM »
I hate to say it but I WOULD advise at least one more day away from Star Wars. The release day coverage is going to be dedicated to everything wrong with the game and the day after will be all about inevitable server failures. If it's as bad as Arkham City then the entire week is going to be mudslinging and EA hate.

Well it should always be EA Hate Week but the monkeys and grognards will be out in force either way for a day after.  :-\

Offline Aklyon

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Re: New Release Date: November 18th.
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2015, 09:55:05 PM »
I'm gonna second that strongly. Give Battlefront enough space for its big mess to show up, if it has one.

Offline Captain Jack

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Re: New Release Date: November 18th.
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2015, 10:12:43 PM »
I'm gonna second that strongly. Give Battlefront enough space for its big mess to show up, if it has one.
It's going to be the servers. EA's doing the public tests starting Thursday and the closed tests that're happening now are going well. If they were sitting on another Arkham City they wouldn't be holding the tests, but they're still going to be absolutely deluged by players come November.

Offline Misery

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Re: New Release Date: November 18th.
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2015, 01:06:36 AM »
I'll be completely honest here, this one doesnt sound good.  Waaaaaayyyyyyyy too many major games coming out around this time.

On one hand I can definitely applaud the fact that you guys are so willing to push things back to make sure you can fully and truly finish the product.  This has ended up resulting in great games from you, without exception I think.  Definitely expecting the same for this one once the balance is all... er.... balanced.  And of course, a far cry different from so many publishers rushing the heck outta things... And I can agree that the game probably wasnt ready for it's October release date, at least in certain ways.

But still.... that's kinda a nasty-sounding date. Heck, that whole month doesnt sound good. That huge clump of major games!  Battlefront (which frankly I'm expecting to be a disappointment) and Fallout are problematic enough, but... I hadnt even realized there were THAT MANY.

Kinda worrisome.  Though, pushing back release dates in general seems to cause alot of issues like this at times for any developer....

Though, running yourself ragged isnt going to help anything at all. 

This sounds really frustrating.  Wish I had something more useful to say here...


Offline Wingflier

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Re: New Release Date: November 18th.
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2015, 01:37:07 AM »
Pull the trigger. Release Early Access this October, get people involved and get the Steam community interested in the game while making it quite clear that there is another full month of work to do.

People are generally very forgiving and understanding of early access games, as long as the core ideas are there and the company is making good progress towards a full release within a reasonable time frame. I've seen a lot of early access games, and the only ones that generally fare badly are the ones in which the company isn't keeping their promises or listening to community feedback. Arcen doesn't have that problem.

In addition, Early Access will give you more revenue and more time (and vastly more feedback) to polish the game until you think it's ready instead of trying to hit these arbitrary deadlines that clearly have no value because they just keep getting pushed back and back and back. You can wait until you're actually ready and there's a dead zone happening and exit early access then.

I'll be completely honest with you, I don't think this game will survive a November release with so many big contenders coming out at the same time. This month is practically a dead zone, I believe you need to get it on the market and get the word out. Heck, you already do these daily blog updates which would be perfect for early access, it's exactly what the Steam community wants, all you have to do is transfer it to that apparatus.

There's tons of indie games on the Steam market right now that have been incredibly successful using this method and they haven't even released yet. Darkest Dungeon, Grim Dawn, and Crypt of the Necrodancer come to mind. I'm sure I could find a dozen more.

Don't hamstring your own game, give yourself a fighting chance.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2015, 01:38:43 AM by Wingflier »
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Offline tuigirl

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Re: New Release Date: November 18th.
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2015, 02:35:58 AM »
Uh-oh, this does not sound good at all.
Well, I have to say I agree with Wingfliers opinion to get the game out in Early Access format in October, but in any case, I guess it will be very close.

Offline Captain Jack

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Re: New Release Date: November 18th.
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2015, 02:50:31 AM »
You know, that's not a bad idea at all. I can't imagine that the game would undergo a fourth major change at this point, and this would get you into the news cycle at the better time and get you the time you need to finish. I'm in favor, for what it's worth.

Offline x4000

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Re: New Release Date: November 18th.
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2015, 09:25:16 AM »
Hmmm.  Early Access is something that has been tempting, but then again it can be one of those "you only get one release on Steam" situations, and I don't want to be in a situation where people dump on it early, or where the press ignores it and then ignores it again later.  You do raise an awfully lot of good points about November, though.  I've been feeling like I've been trapped between two stupid decisions for a while now, and November has turned up feeling like the less-stupid of the two.

Early Access was something I had thought of, but consumer confidence in that is so low, and my confidence in our ability to have the learning curve clear and under control here by that time is not high.  It's sooooo tempting to me, because it seems like the easy answer.  But the easy answer tends to scare me, because often that's not the right answer.

I'm just not sure.  I will talk to my team some more, and also run things by Valve.   Thanks for your thoughts, and please do feel free to continue sharing them -- I can use all the perspectives possible on this, for sure.
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Offline Aklyon

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Re: New Release Date: November 18th.
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2015, 09:36:29 AM »
Theres also some people on youtube who ignore EA games until they've released, because theres too many other things to give a look at to be doing it for unfinished games too. Not sure how important that would be for you guys though.

Offline x4000

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Re: New Release Date: November 18th.
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2015, 09:38:27 AM »
Yep, it's hard to say.  Who are you thinking of on youtube, specifically?
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Offline x4000

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Re: New Release Date: November 18th.
« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2015, 09:39:21 AM »
So here's some other thoughts I wrote up to staff, and I figured I would share them here also:



Early Access is something that has crossed my mind repeatedly, but it's a scary prospect for a few reasons:

1. You only get one release on Steam, really (though if it's between an EA release and a no-press-time release, which is better?).

2. There's generally negativity around the idea of EA, although far less so than a buggy launch of course.

3. I figure that press coverage might be hard to get on an EA game in some respects.

4. I worry about our ability to really have this in a polished enough state that people can enjoy it by that target date.  Though plenty of people already are, so maybe I'm overthinking that.

5. There's no question of me being able to do enough testing by that point, so it's going to be all down to our testers.

I dunno.  When I write it out like that, the list of negatives is a lot smaller than I thought.  I don't think it's ideal, but it also does have some notable financial advantages... probably.

IF we were to do this, potentially the focus should be on polish and the early game experience, and basically avoiding completing Act IV and possibly even Act III prior to EA.  Instead a focus on tutorials, interface, clarity, and so on and so forth for the first two acts, which are quite entertaining on their own.  And then the release of subsequent acts can be a major point of excitement when those do happen.

Potentially that might let us do an EA release SOONER than October 21st, because we don't have to worry about those last two acts, balancing any of those buildings that are in them, doing achievements, doing the game start menu, etc.  Instead it's finishing all the buildings and whatnot on the Act 1 and 2 buildings, getting better balance in there on the economy, cleaning up a number of interfaces, getting tutorials and intro stories in there, and so on.
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Offline Aklyon

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Re: New Release Date: November 18th.
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2015, 09:48:50 AM »
Yep, it's hard to say.  Who are you thinking of on youtube, specifically?
I know its more than him, but the only person I could think of on that description right now would be TB. Though I've also watched people like Wanderbots or Deluks Gaming, who play a lot of EA games as far as I can tell (or just a lot of games in general in wanderbots' case, I haven't watched more than a a playlist or two yet and he's made like, 3 more since then)

Offline x4000

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Re: New Release Date: November 18th.
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2015, 09:57:47 AM »
I gotcha, that makes sense.

We also had a good point brought up internally:

Quote
If it goes on early access, one likely outcome is a flood of unhelpful feedback. Kind of like tapping a well into the sewer.

Other groups just deal with that and it's fine (especially after a few weeks/months for things to stabilize) but I know that's been a struggle for us in the past.

My thoughts were:

This is true.  It would be extremely demoralizing to say the least.  I'm not sure what the lesser of the evils is, though.
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Offline Misery

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Re: New Release Date: November 18th.
« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2015, 09:58:07 AM »
Hmm, if it were up to me, at this point, I'd actually sort of be thinking that there isnt really much of a choice.  Now granted, I dont have all of the info and knowledge you do when it comes to stuff like this, but what I see is two possible issues:

1, you go with the EA route, and some problems may pop up of course... people that dont like dealing with EA, or people that dont understand what it means and flip the heck out when bugs appear.   Stuff like that.  Those are definite issues.

2, you go the November route.... and get utterly overwhelmed by it.   At least with the EA route, people can buy the game.  However, they cant do that at all if they just blew all of their money on the major releases.  Something like Battlefield in particular is enough by itself; that one is frankly going to be SO huge that even if it were JUST that game by itself, I still would say "there isnt really any choice here".   But even worse, it's NOT the only one.  This is sort of a "worst case scenario" here.

Though, again with Battlefield, my impression of it is that the time around it's release isnt going to be the only period of time it affects; it might stretch out for a loooooong while after that, as people get utterly addicted to it, and dont play/buy anything else for quite some time.   So that.... just sounds even worse, really.  Bah.


I mean, you remember how it went the last time this happened.  Bionic Dues, wasnt it?  A game that turned out really well, had the potential to do really well, and to me, SHOULD have done really well... but went up against a major release, and was ignored.  And that was a game with a shorter (much shorter) development time and smaller budget, yeah?  My concern is:  Can you guys actually afford to have this one go completely down the drain like that?  I know how bad that sounds, but this game has also had a LONG development time, and I mentally associate that with "massive spending".

It's not an easy choice to make, and I seriously doubt you guys are the only ones facing this particular decision and problem right now... these games are going to probably screw with a ton of other things that might have had the chance to do well, if left somewhat alone.  I dont think there's any easy way out of it, and what options there are, are both damaging.  But the second one doesnt just seem damaging to me, it seems more of a game killer.   There's just too much to go up against there, too many other very expensive things that have been hyped to hell for a LONG time, and that people will definitely be buying in droves.


So.... yeah, that's just my current thoughts on that choice overall.  Again, I wish I had something more useful to say, but no matter how I look at it it just doesnt seem like a very good situation at all.