1 sorry I clearly didn't word that correctly what I meant was while your working on that other game will this game be getting bug fixes in general just because its seems a really straight forward thing to be doing on the side again sorry I understood perfectly WHY you decided to stop temporarily working on it.
OH, I see -- sorry. No, there won't be any more patches for the beta of SBR until the interim game is completed, probably. I want to give the interim game our full attention so that we don't wind up right back in this situation with a game that isn't quite complete but where time is running out, etc.
It takes a lot of memory power to keep the design for games like this in my head, and I tend to forget a lot about older games as soon as I get too far into a new game. It's kind of shocking to me how much I forget, actually. In the case of some games, that can actually be useful because then I can come back with fresh eyes and solve problems that I couldn't solve before. My intent is that will be the case with SBR.
Anyway, so there are overall three reasons:
1. It does eat up time, even if the increments are small (it's like eating a bag of mini-Oreos: even though they are small the bag is still a lot of calories).
2. I need to "unload some stuff from RAM" to properly focus on the new game.
3. I need some mental distance from SBR just to get back in a fully-positive frame of mind for working on it.
Whilst I've been very ill the last month, I kept lurking in the forums and could see progress was being made. However it read like you were completely under the pump both personally and professionally.
Yikes, I'm really sorry to hear that you've been so ill! That's definitely no good. And yeah, your assessment of my own situation is pretty spot on. It hasn't been great for the rest of the other staff either.
Also I opened up the game this morning for a quick glance at the changes and from what I could see there's been a definite improvement to the UI experience. I could also see some of the design warning signs of overthinking things (I have this trouble myself).
Yep, I think that is pretty spot on.
I was hoping this was THE game for me this year, I can now look forward to a more awesome thing in the coming year.
You know, that was my hope as well. But, I'm definitely excited about what this can do next year.
When I recover some what more, should we continue to add items for SBR to Mantis?
Heh. I mean, you can if you really want, but a lot of me wants to go "please don't!" I need mental space from it, so anything you log right now I'm going to respectfully set aside until work resumes on SBR. At that point absolutely I'll want feedback again, but right now I'm trying to get my head into the space for the interim game and just get my blood pressure down a bit from what it has been for the last while. I've been blacking out and developed a tremor and all sorts of fun things. I just need some distance from having so much of my mind and identity wrapped up in one game; it's not healthy.
Not sure how to feel about this, but I always hope for success, and I'll always be an avid Arcen supporter. Best of Luck!
Honestly, I feel like you've almost certainly made the best decision on multiple levels.
I think this'll give you time you need to not only get the relaxation you sound like you need at this point, but also to ensure that this is the best damn game it can possibly be. There currently aren't too many games in the genre that have held my interest that aren't the progenitor juggernaut that is Civilization itself - but I think you're one of the people I'd trust most to make a game I'd enjoy as much as I did 1, 4, and 5. Don't rush it and make a Civ 3. =333
Again, my thanks.
I already responded to your email about this, just so you know, since Yahoo can be a real snotwad and sometimes doesnt like to actually SEND the blasted things yet will tell me that it did (sigh... why cant technology just WORK? I keep having to tell people directly if I send them something, because of this, which almost blows the point of email to begin with...), but I'll just reiterate that I definitely think this is a very good move. There's just.... so very many problems with releasing now or next month.
I did get your email, and thanks. I responded with some work stuff relating to the interim game, actually.
Just out of pure curiosity, has this game been the longest development cycle you've done so far? Or was AI War's original version longer (because holy heck, that game is COMPLICATED)? I mean, this game really has a TON of stuff to it at this point and has been going for quite awhile. Should be pretty great once it's done though.
Valley 1 was still the longest dev cycle for us at I believe 15(?) months pre-release. So we're not to the longest-yet with SBR, but by the time it's done it will be. That said, we had a smaller staff with Valley 1, so in term of man-months this is by far our longest game. In man-months, TLF would be our #2 behind that, at about 60% of the man-months that went into this game so far.
AI War 1.0 was actually our shortest game ever if you look at man-months. I knocked that puppy out on my own in 7 months. We've had shorter timeframes on projects since then, but never in terms of man-months. So... maybe that does give some insight into why my estimates for timelines on things can get skewed sometimes. If I could do AI War in that timeframe, why not something else, you know?
Definitely looking forward to.... whatever the heck the next game is going to be called though. I think that's the one I'm most excited about since BD, which is saying something. It just sounds like a great concept.
At the moment that's the one I'm most excited about as well, and it's been that way for a while. It's hard to work on something like SBR when it's no longer the thing you're most excited about, too. It will swing back around that it's the thing that I'm most excited about, because I've been super excited about SBR for a long time. But the series of delays and design defeats have just left me feeling pretty battered and not great about myself (I'm not fishing for compliments, but I figure that a frank insight into at least this game developer's mind is interesting to a lot of folks). So it's hard to maintain that sense of excitement when a game has done something like that to you, anyway. Or when you've done something like that to yourself via the game, more appropriately.
In the end I'm really surprised by some of the turns that SBR has taken. It now gets at what my original intents were far better than my original designs did, and I would be delighted by that if I weren't so weary. It does still make me very pleased, though. I'm also really excited that it does seem like it will meet a number of my career goals in terms of telling an interactive procedurally generated story and a variety of other things, so there's also that that pleases me greatly. But I do need some space to where I can sort the good from the bad, and the past pains from the present state of things, etc. The sort of pepping up I need is hopefully what the interim game will provide.
I think this makes a lot of sense and I wish you all the best. I was beginning to feel that even by the end of November, there was no way SBR was going to be able to be a game that fully lived up to its potential on release (which I think is huge, btw - I've been ranting at my friends about this game a bunch).
Well, that's always really cool to hear that folks are getting excited to that point, despite the problems of the moment with a game.
Do you want us to continue posting things on Mantis for SBR or hold off for now?
If there's something you might forget, then please go ahead and feel free to post it. Really I'm not going to say "no don't post!" to anyone right now. But as with my own personal notes, I've got those archived so that I'll remember what I was up to when I come back to the game, and then I'm just putting those out of sight for a while to let them marinate and free up my mind a bit.
2. The point about "if the game is great, it doesn't matter when you release" is somewhat taken, but I think that people do tend to overlook all the great "cult classics" that never caught on for one reason or another. In other words, this smacks a bit to me of being over-confident. Which I have certainly been many times, but am not really feeling in the spirit of right now. System Shock says hi. That's a cult classic legend of a game that just never took off and never made the money back due to a botched release.
That is one of the two that I was thinking of, actually.
Ahem. I approve of this. SBR needs some more thinking and planning done, and having a good deal of breathing room will probably be necessary.
Of course, as always I hope this doesn't cause any financial stress Arcen can't handle
I appreciate it. We should be okay, I think.
A wise choice to postpone release.
There was indeed a feeling of panic going around. And I understand the concept of becoming too intimate with the project. I am in a similar situation, too many months - too much code.
Yeah, even when I was doing business software and didn't have the same kind of emotional stake in my work, there was still the occasional case of this. I mean, I was proud of my work and invested myself in it, so some really giant thing that was being developed for clients could be quite the entanglement. I never had an individual project that went on this long, though, so that's new to me with Arcen. What line of work are you in?
SBR needs more work in its systems, interactions, gui, story, tooltips,combat, AI, pacing, etc, etc. A lot of work.
Vision fading... yeah, this is why I'm stepping away for a bit. You've been one of the biggest supporters lately, and to hear you say that is a bit of a blow. Not that I wouldn't want you to say it, and I agree with you on all the points. But it's a good example of how I've just gotten too involved in it mentally. It shouldn't be that much of a punch to hear "you have more work to do on XYZ areas." Hopefully the interim project will provide some reasonable success that I can use as some insulation against the inevitable ups and downs of a project as complex and novel as SBR.
As others have said and I agree, a project should stay in EA at least for a year as a business model and build momentum. Barring that it would feel like a cash grab game with extreme risk for the buyer and it would face harsh criticism from youtubers and the community in general. Add to that the fact that you're not a new studio so people have expectations. You can't be productive in such an environment and you need a community manager that is a true Warlord.
Whoa, a year in EA? I don't know about that -- that would bring the total this game would need to earn up to close to $1.5 million gross. It wouldn't be our first game to hit that level, but I mean that would be the break-even point just to earn back what was spent making it. I'd like to think that we're not that
far off the finish line, but then again I'm just not in a good place to judge right now. At any rate this definitely isn't a conversation I'm emotionally equipped to handle right now, and the point is moot for another 3-4 months either way. Whew, though.
So basically, you'll be working on the new SHMUP to get that rolled out ASAP. When do you expect the Alpha to start? I saw an earlier post where it was posited that this will be like the alpha/beta releases of TLF, where the game is available directly from Arcen (or via Humble Store) from its earliest playable state, and then you push updates out from Arcen directly. Any thoughts on what your asking price for the game will be?
I have a lot to figure out in the next week or so on those points, so take my answers with a grain of salt, heh:
1. To some extent I'm wary of calling this a SHMUP. Let's say roguelike, perhaps.
2. Starting the alpha... I'm not sure. I hope to have a nice internal prototype by the end of next week. Depending on how things look with that my goal is for an alpha to start in November sometime with a solid degree of starting content to the point where you can get a good idea of it. In an ideal world, closer to the start of November.
3. Most likely we'll do a very small private alpha first to do some sanity checking with some folks. Then go to the paid alpha (at a discount off full price) after that.
4. I'm not 100% sure on the final cost of the game. I'd estimate between $10 and $15. Given the nature of the genre, and the staff we have, my intent is to pack this thing to the gills with content. We have the capability of doing certain kinds of content independent of weighing me down as a designer or Keith down as a coder, and I intend to make full use of that.