4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

Your chance to hear me complain

4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by Railboy » Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:02 pm

$157k might sound like a lot, but in reality FRONTIERS has a teensy tiny budget for what I'm attempting to accomplish with it, especially when you consider how much of it is lost to fees and to the tax man. When I crunch the numbers it still looks like we'll cross the finish line before the tank's empty, but we'll definitely be running on fumes, and I don't like close finishes. What if I get sick? What if translations take longer than expected? I want more money in the bank in case things don't go as planned.

By now you all know I'm strongly against running another Kickstarter campaign to raise more money. The idea just seems gross to me - you've already supported the game, so running another campaign feels like using the sunk cost of your first pledge as ransom for more. (Isn't there a name for that kind of scam?)

But now that we've been greenlit, there's another option: early access. The problem is that early access is gross in its own way.

While I see nothing wrong with the idea in principle, I'm not convinced that the system isn't hurting the games industry as a whole in practice. And while the idea of early access for FRONTIERS doesn't give me the same gross feeling as running another Kickstarter, charging random Steam people for the game in its current state still feels shady. Assuming I did it, the next question is how? How would I offer FRONTIERS on early access and keep it fair, not only to newcomers but to KS backers? Is it even possible? That's not an easy question to answer.

The first ethical hurdle is price. I'm selling the game for $15. So naturally I'd offer early access for $15 or less, right? Say $5, since it's unfinished? Nope. That might please the average Steam customer, but it would also undercut the backers who pledged for beta support. They paid $25, so if I'm going to be remotely fair that's what I'd have to charge for early access. Of course this is an unfortunate case where fairness has disadvantages. $25 will seem high to anyone unfamiliar with the reasoning behind the pricing AND the drop in price on final release may leave them feeling burned. Plenty will write it off as a money grab.

That leads to the second hurdle: motivation. Let's not kid ourselves - it would be a money grab, more or less. In my case the only reason to go on early access is for money. I could feed everyone a line about opening it up for valuable playtesting and feedback, which is what early access was created for, but the backers who pledged for beta access will already provide that. That's not to say I wouldn't find Steam feedback valuable - hell, maybe would be transformative. But the bottom line is that if you had asked me six months ago whether I'd consider it, I would have said 'no thanks.' (It would be convenient to forget that, but I won't.) That being the case, should I really be taking advantage of the system? I'm not sure.

Third hurdle: when does it end? Something I do not like about early access is the way a game can remain in that section forever. Developers can get away with charging near-full-price for an ongoing beta for years, and when they're called out on the bugs and missing features they fall back on 'hey we're early access, what do you expect?' I'm referring to a non-existent worst-case-scenario composite developer of course - the realities are a lot more complex. But the problem of developers hanging out on early access while never delivering a final product is a real one.

Okay, set the ethical stuff aside. What about the fact that I'd no longer be dealing almost exclusively with backers? Steam is huge. HUGE. I've always known this, but Greenlight showed me just how bloody huge it is. I'm not sure I'm ready to dilute the FRONTIERS support base yet. Everyone following the project is so positive and helpful, and I suspect that's because they sought FRONTIERS out and not the other way around. What happens when FRONTIERS starts popping up on the Steam front page? That kind of attention is inevitable - and when the game is done, it will be most welcome! But now? I'm not so sure. (That could just be my inner critic screaming that they'll hate it, though I'm less worried about first impressions than I used to be. The game has come a long way since the last alpha and while it still has its problems, it's shaping up into something enjoyable.)

So yeah, not an easy question to answer.

Here's what would need to happen at a minimum.
  • Ask Steam to keep FRONTIERS off the main page regardless of popularity or interest. (I don't think early access games should be on the main page anyway.) Save that exposure for the final release and spare casual players as much temptation as possible.
  • Do research and get feedback. Find out how early access has burned players, then try to avoid those pitfalls.
  • Create a document outlining what features exist now vs. what features are planned, then put it front-and-center on the early access page. Many early access games already go beyond the required 'it's not finished' statement, but many still don't go nearly far enough. People need to know exactly what they're getting into.
  • Impose a highly visible, well-publicized time limit on how long FRONTIERS will remain available on early access. Something like 3-6 months.
  • Don't let the money get to me. I only need a trickle to finish the game, not a flood.

I just read over this entry and despite all the hand-wringing it sounds like I've pretty much made a decision - but I'm going to hold off on making it official until I do my research and hear back from you guys. Maybe someone will talk me out of it.

[EDIT:] Thanks for all the input so far, everyone. You've given me plenty to think about. I just want to clear one thing up - I'm not having financial troubles right this second. We're still under budget, if only just. The reason I want more money in the bank is to cover unforseen problems in the FUTURE; ie I'm after a cushion, not a life vest. So don't worry, the game is still doing fine.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by Gazz » Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:38 pm

That Early Access is more expensive than the final release is not unheard of.
Whether or not that's fair (or even logical) is a never ending debate.
It can be a useful mechanism - to put it bluntly - to keep the rabble at bay. =P
You'd only get those Steam users who either want to pay extra to support the project or want it badly enough to consider the price justified.

If the store page is up front and specific about what they get for that and how that compares to the final release then there is no foul play. Simple as that.
I don't think the Kickstarter backers would object to the project having better funding and therefore a higher chance to actually make it to release in the desired shape.
Forum-wise I don't see a problem. While our user base is microscopic on a Steam scale, a bunch of newcomers can't be trickier than back when I parted the Red Sea. 'sides, we don't want our freshly hatched moderator to grow bored!
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by Trilient » Thu Apr 17, 2014 9:45 pm

Early access has it's pros and cons. For people who found the game long after the kickstarter campaign, like myself, Early Access will give a way for those who wish to support the game a way to support it. But like you said, Early Access also tends to have a cloud of negativity hanging above it, as many companies have abused this new "early access" feature. What it will end up coming down to is whether or not you, as the developer/s, want to go this route. There's a pretty significant chance that the community will be divided on this issue, however if the extra funding is what you need then Early Access is the route you want to go.

Just show the community you mean business and your intention is not to squeeze as much money out of us as you can before ultimately abandoning the game all together. You don't seem like that kind of developer anyways, so that's always a plus.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by Zarconius » Thu Apr 17, 2014 9:51 pm

It feels almost as if you taking the sins of previous game developers onto yourself for no reason. It doesn't matter if prior early-release games have burned players, just as it doesn't matter if early release is "harmful" to the industry (I don't believe it is.). You've been incredibly straightforward about this project, and I don't believe you would try to screw anyone over or rely on the "early release" label as a crutch for sitting on the game.

And speaking as a Beta backer, I wouldn't feel slighted in any way if you sold early release slots for $15 on Steam, and I think most of the people who backed at that level or higher would feel the same way. The only reason I pledged money is because you sold me on your vision for your game, which I badly want to play. I don't care about the politics of the matter. Frontiers has so much potential. If it needs more money (and time) to make it great then do what you have to do to raise it. That's my feeling, at least.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by RyanASpan » Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:20 pm

I've been on the team of a couple of early-funded projects, so I can bring a tiny glimmer of experience here.

In my considered opinion, Early Access is a nice idea but not appropriate for Frontiers. What we should be doing is to take pre-orders of the finished game, to be delivered when the game is indeed finished, with perhaps a downgraded Kickstarter reward thrown in there to justify the $25 price tag. Definitely less than the original KS backers are receiving, though. Like, say, beta access and no soundtrack, or soundtrack but no beta access.

I say this because so many people have expressed sadness that they missed this during the KS, and if we made it clear that these pre-orders are directly contributing to development, people would be lining up to fork over their money.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by yarnevk » Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:47 pm

Planet Explorers did early access with alpha .7x release.....it is clear many on Steam have no idea that early access means a buggy unfinished game that needs restarted each patch. Expect magnitudes more emails and support issues than before so upto you if the extra funds are worth the extra support burden meaning not be able to actually debug broken quests.

If you have a survivor mode with no quests and just exploration that might work better. Rust did that and exploded even as a 0.0x release...Minecraft has been getting away with that for the last decade...

Preorders for more than kickstarter sounds fair to me, then raise the price for finished release to give an incentive. Big time indy devs raised more with preorders after kickstarters. This game is worth half the price of skyrim, quarter price is too cheap! Are you seriously considering just the price of a month of WOW/ESO?
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by Zolana » Thu Apr 17, 2014 11:16 pm

Very interesting points you raised there.

Personally, as a $25 beta backer, I'd have no qualms about you putting this out on Steam pre-release for $<insert whatever monies you are looking at here>. At the end of the day, and I'm sure a lot of people here would agree with me here, what we'd all rather have is a better finished product. Zarconius' second paragraph absolutely sums it up perfectly. Hell, I'd give another $25 if that's what's needed!

I know the trend is for most games to have a lower price on the early access, which is not really a surprise. However, two main points:

1. If you charged the same as the beta backers' level, given the enormous greenlight support that Frontiers got, I'm sure a fair few people would back the beta/pay for early beta access anyway, regardless of the higher price. I mean, just look at that greenlight graphy thingymajig you posted!!

2. Be completely honest, and say what the situation is (your third bullet point). How much you might need for example too perhaps? If it's only a trickle, a few hundred orders would be all you need at most I guess?

I must admit though, Ryan's idea for pre-orders is not a bad one, and I would say preferable (certainly from the ethical point of view that you've outlined). The level of support you've had on the KS and greenlight are good indicators as to the popularity of this project (i.e. quite a lot of people are going down the "shut up and take my money" route). A few hundred pre-orders, sure, it would decrease the overall amount you'd get post-release, but it would give you that final push for the bits and bobs that remain (thereby making an extra polished overall product, which itself would give a. more sales, and b. even better reviews (which would lead to more sales in itself I guess)) - and is what everyone wants anyway - without having to compromise on the beta KS backer issue, while being able to keep the final cost for the final release KS backers and the steam/humble/gog/whatever store price the same (if that makes sense)? Ryan's point about pointing out that the pre-orders directly help add the finishing touches I should think could only be helpful. If people believe in Frontiers, and like what they see (which clearly a lot do), by telling them that their pre-order money would help finish the last couple of hurdles off to make a very strong game, you could only gain more fans as far as I'm concerned - and if not, well, haters gonna hate!

TL;DR: Early access, probably not such a great idea. Pre-order, a lot better, allows people like Trilient (amongst others who've said similar things over the past few months on the forum) to contribute to this project. If you tell it like it is, then all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well (bonus points to those of you who get that particular reference btw)!
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by yarnevk » Thu Apr 17, 2014 11:21 pm

I don't think pre-orders decrease post-orders, if anything they will increase because you have a larger pool spreading the word and paying attention to the social media and forums about the game they are invested in. I do think that can the wrong way with Steam Early Access though because of all those tools saying the game is broken, it does not matter if it gets fixed at gold because first impressions are important.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by Zolana » Thu Apr 17, 2014 11:24 pm

yarnevk wrote:I don't think pre-orders decrease post-orders, if anything they will increase because you have a larger pool spreading the word and paying attention to the social media and forums about the game they are invested in.


Didn't think of that, but yes, extremely true!
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by neurobot » Thu Apr 17, 2014 11:49 pm

I like the idea of selling pre-orders—I agree that it sounds as though Early Access could be fraught. I'd hate to have you earn the money, but end up with lots of extra distraction, or detractors, etc. (Note—this is said as an absolute Steam newb; I only got an account to give my Greenlight vote for Frontiers.) But, if you go the Early Access route, and don't want to give the appearance of screwing over the original KS beta-level backers by charging at least $25 for Early Access, maybe you could offer a refund (extended to KS backers as well, I suppose) of $10 (or whatever the difference is from the final price) once the final game is released. I'm guessing 99% of backers/buyers wouldn't take you up on it (out of sheer laziness if nothing else), but it gives you an out to avoid pissing off that (probably vocal) 1%.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by RyanASpan » Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:36 am

It's easy to hate on Early Access because of the gung-ho idiots. They're part of the problem, but even more so, I think most of the games that go on Early Access either aren't ready to the point where they can hold their own in a marketplace like that, or they're not the kind of experience that's ever going to do well out of an early release. At this point, Frontiers, in my opinion, falls into both of those categories. Even if we disabled access to the heavily in-progress parts such as the storyline and side quests, we'd still end up inviting dissatisfaction. Lots of people would appreciate it for the true exploration and survival elements, but even more would complain that there's nothing to do, etc. etc. Besides, given the huge response we've had on our KS and Greenlight campaigns, I don't think we actually need Early Access to generate the necessary extra funding.

Taking pre-orders feels like the more honest, ethical and financially sound thing to do. As for it eating into our post-release orders, that's nonsense. Anyone who's willing to pre-order the game at this point has obviously heard about it already, when we haven't even gone anywhere near the main distribution channels. Those main distribution channels are how most people will find out that Frontiers even exists. So, doing the maths, the number of people who are willing to pay up-front is tiny compared to the potential audience we'll have on a full Steam release. And that's without counting other distribution methods which we'll most likely pursue.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by JessieSwan » Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:50 am

I unlike many others support Early Access. I was late to Frontiers, and wasn't able to support the kick starter, both pre orders and early access will help the game get finished and i know a large amount of people who'd pay $25 for early access. Frontiers could do realty well from early access and its a shame if the lack of money would stop this game from completion, with the money from kick starter the game could be finished quicker and maybe even better. I personally really hope there is an early access. Either way im buying this game.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by Railboy » Fri Apr 18, 2014 3:52 am

Good to hear all this feedback. Keep it coming, I'm considering all of it.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by Kevin » Fri Apr 18, 2014 3:58 am

From my personal experience as someone who has helped kickstart a game which went to early access (still is in early access), I'd ask you not to do it.

I highly doubt you have the manpower/resources to keep track of the feedback and the grievances. When Frontiers was in Alpha, you stated that you were trying to keep the amount of testers as low as possible so you can manage the feedback easily. If you bring it to early access, it will mean thousands of people playing the game, giving you feedback and each one of them will want a response from you. Some of them will not care that you have a small team and that you cannot respond to them. They'll bitch and whine in different game forums and that will give your game a negative outlook to the general gamers.

You'll also have a LOT of people who will buy the game but not understand what early access is then ask for refund. It will be a serious time sink for you and your team.

There is also a big chance that the testers will force you to change part of your game in a way that you did not want it to be played as, mainly because they do not understand/care how you envision your game. This has happened to one of the games currently in early access.

If you are having financial problems, I'd suggest to allow people to pre-order the game at the price you wanted to sell the game but also give them some extras features as incentive that would not be available to someone buying the game at launch. I have a few friends who wants to buy your game but missed their chances during kickstarter.

Personally, whatever you decide to do at the end is your choice and yours alone. It is your game. It is your dream. The pricing would not bother me. The fact that you put it on early access would not bother me but I'll most likely avoid checking the forums due to the impending QQ, that's what happened to the game I mentioned initially. I backed your game, put a lot of money into it so as it's made. That's it.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by RyanASpan » Fri Apr 18, 2014 4:27 am

Kevin wrote:From my personal experience as someone who has helped kickstart a game which went to early access (still is in early access), I'd ask you not to do it.

I highly doubt you have the manpower/resources to keep track of the feedback and the grievances. When Frontiers was in Alpha, you stated that you were trying to keep the amount of testers as low as possible so you can manage the feedback easily. If you bring it to early access, it will mean thousands of people playing the game, giving you feedback and each one of them will want a response from you. Some of them will not care that you have a small team and that you cannot respond to them. They'll bitch and whine in different game forums and that will give your game a negative outlook to the general gamers.

You'll also have a LOT of people who will buy the game but not understand what early access is then ask for refund. It will be a serious time sink for you and your team.

There is also a big chance that the testers will force you to change part of your game in a way that you did not want it to be played as, mainly because they do not understand/care how you envision your game. This has happened to one of the games currently in early access.

That's pretty much how I'd foresee it going for us (apart from the 'forcing' part, 'cause I can't see Lars nor myself nor any of the other core team members being likely to knuckle under from the whinging of armchair designers).
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by Railboy » Fri Apr 18, 2014 5:52 am

I'd say there's zero chance of me giving in to pressure to change the game, but the fact that the pressure is so strong - along with the potential backlash against failing to give in to it - is something I haven't heard about until now. The more detail anyone has on downsides like this, the better.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by RyanASpan » Fri Apr 18, 2014 6:15 am

Railboy wrote:I'd say there's zero chance of me giving in to pressure to change the game, but the fact that the pressure is so strong - along with the potential backlash against failing to give in to it - is something I haven't heard about until now. The more detail anyone has on downsides like this, the better.

I'll be able to give you detail, excruciating detail, since Malevolence will be going on Early Access in a week or two.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by DeDy » Fri Apr 18, 2014 9:37 am

Hi Lars. I bought a couple of games in the preliminary approach.

Might and Magick X: Legacy – Really bad acting beta version. In this game it is even better to wait a few months after the official release and play up after repair. Pressure publisher, developer issue in time is not good.

Contagion – Amazing! No big mistakes, comfortable playing. Small backlogs and little game content did not matter. Full release OK.

Divinity: Original Sin – Lots of bugs and unfinished. Still, the game feels immense potential and enthusiasm. Sometimes I play just beginning to see progress in the development and I am delighted to see how the game finishes.

Frontiers:
New Kickstarter ? NO
Early Access ? NO
Pre-order ? YES

I support it! I feel that the game has huge potential and I will have fun playing it. Like Divinity. I buy the game anyway, I want to know if my nose wrong :-)

Do not be afraid to go game play from the beginning of the game (at least 30 minutes). On the basis of these videos, I finally decided to support the Divinity ( $40 ) at Kickstarter campaign.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by Zolana » Fri Apr 18, 2014 10:43 am

Just a quick thought, if you did go down the pre-ordering route, perhaps you could release it to them and the KS backers a week before it goes on sale to the general public? It could be an extra way of incentivising someone to pre-order it.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by postnjam » Fri Apr 18, 2014 10:52 am

I personally vote for a pre order system. Not unethical as early access.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by Zolana » Fri Apr 18, 2014 11:24 am

Cheeky straw poll for this topic here. Just to gauge people's opinions and keep them in one place for easy reference :)
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by yarnevk » Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:24 pm

RyanASpan wrote:I'll be able to give you detail, excruciating detail, since Malevolence will be going on Early Access in a week or two.


that will be a fun podcast when you guys read your emails, people that play any casual dungeon game will get it on a whim and go WTF and demand the nerf bat in permadeath because it is harder than diablo hardcore and they should be able to play it without dying so it must be your sucky game.... :(

And if you don't fix it they will threaten to tell their twitchy audience that numbers in the thousands not to play your game because they got killed when they should be on top of the leaderboards. Maybe you can watch their stream and heckle them for being so bad, that would be a fun vid.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by RyanASpan » Fri Apr 18, 2014 5:58 pm

yarnevk wrote:that will be a fun podcast when you guys read your emails, people that play any casual dungeon game will get it on a whim and go WTF and demand the nerf bat in permadeath because it is harder than diablo hardcore and they should be able to play it without dying so it must be your sucky game.... :(

And if you don't fix it they will threaten to tell their twitchy audience that numbers in the thousands not to play your game because they got killed when they should be on top of the leaderboards. Maybe you can watch their stream and heckle them for being so bad, that would be a fun vid.

We relish that kind of press! Malevolence is designed to be super hard, and the more butthurt idiots we get spreading the name around, the happier we'll be.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by InfinityOne » Sat Apr 19, 2014 12:29 am

I for one will never ever pre-order a game again. Been burned on Steam in the past and most recently with X-Rebirth. Now, on the other hand I will support Kickstarter/Early Access games that I "hope" might turn into something good in the future for a reasonable price. Its a gamble as I see it. If I have the option to pre-order then I will just wait to see what people and reputable reviewers say before buying. Big incentive for me is the opportunity to play the game "Right Now" if I get the Early Access.

Another incentive for Early Access for me is the "you get it for a cheaper price" if you buy in early access. I got Arma 3 Early Access day one for around half its current price. The game didn't pan out to be the greatest but I feel I got my money's worth at half price.

Sir, You Are Being Hunted did something similar. Did a Kickstarter and had early playable build, then moved to Early Access and sold for 25% cheaper during early access. I for one loved watching the game develop and would keep circling around to see each new addition and it has shaped up into a fine little game with an eminent release.

My Early Access support of StarForge on the other hand has been a complete disaster and apparently a scam or devs that cant produce.

I am with a poster above that you might be selling yourself short releasing at only $15 for full release. I say if you choose Early Access maybe $15 and 25-30$ for full release. Just my 2 cents.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by antihuman09 » Sat Apr 19, 2014 4:16 pm

Casting my vote for golden tickets and a lifetime supply of chocolate.

Pre-orders sounds like a splendid idea with few (if any) drawbacks. Early access is a bit more shady but I'm not totally against it. I do believe it should cost 25 bucks rather than 15. Otherwise you'll be absolutely inundated with beta testers and the diagnostic quality of the process will suffer.

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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by Sirinan » Sat Apr 19, 2014 10:26 pm

InfinityOne wrote:I for one will never ever pre-order a game again. Been burned on Steam in the past and most recently with X-Rebirth. Now, on the other hand I will support Kickstarter/Early Access games that I "hope" might turn into something good in the future for a reasonable price.

That's not a terribly logical stance, if you'll forgive me for saying so - if the amount of information you have about a game under either system is equivalent, then the only difference between a pre-order and early access is the wait before you can play the game - you will have spent your money in both cases before you are able to play.

I'm another person strongly in favour of a pre-order system rather than early access.

- Less chance of the floodgates opening and getting more users than you can reasonably handle at a point where you still want to be concentrating on development rather than support.
- Keeps the reputation of game and developer intact, for there to be a better first impression made on standard release.
- More control. If you feel at some point that you have enough pre-orders to support you, you can take down the pre-order page.
- Early access remains in reserve as a potential solution if the pre-order one doesn't work for whatever reason.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by Gazz » Sat Apr 19, 2014 10:56 pm

I don't expect "the masses" to be a major problem.

Right now everyone is on their best behaviour and the moderators are positively bored. Doesn't mean they couldn't...
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by RyanASpan » Sun Apr 20, 2014 1:20 am

Gazz wrote:I don't expect "the masses" to be a major problem.

Right now everyone is on their best behaviour and the moderators are positively bored. Doesn't mean they couldn't...

"The masses" can be and will become a major problem, especially on Steam. Again, speaking from experience here.

Be thankful that you're bored now. After 1.0, you won't be, and I expect at least one full-time position opening up for a 'community manager' just to deal with all the bullshit.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by Railboy » Sun Apr 20, 2014 1:35 am

Gazz's nonchalance comes from being jaded, not from lack of experience. He already has a battle plan for launch. (And two new moderators to help him execute it.)

I'm still weighing my options but I'll likely make a decision by Monday.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by RyanASpan » Sun Apr 20, 2014 1:42 am

Railboy wrote:Gazz's nonchalance comes from being jaded, not from lack of experience. He already has a battle plan for launch. (And two new moderators to help him execute it.)

I'm still weighing my options but I'll likely make a decision by Monday.

Oh, I wasn't trying to imply a lack of experience. Just optimism. And, in your case, pessimism, 'cause this thing is going to shift a _lot_ of copies. Thus it will attract an overwhelming number of self-important, willful idiots who know nothing about gaming but being spoon-fed Call of Duty and will drown in a gameplay experience that doesn't involve following a large arrow.

Eh, maybe I'm the one being pessimistic. I just like to be prepared for the worst.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by Kevin » Sun Apr 20, 2014 2:18 am

Gazz wrote:I don't expect "the masses" to be a major problem.

Right now everyone is on their best behaviour and the moderators are positively bored. Doesn't mean they couldn't...


The masses will never be an issue for a moderator; someone is being annoying, you just caution or ban them. Your job is done and stops there to the general public.
It's dealing with the consequences and the effects of it ( read: misunderstanding of the game and the concept of it) outside your influence such as the steam forum or other gaming forums such as kotaku, neogaf and others where you will never have control on. Lars will have to answer to those though either from the gaming journalists or due to the negative outlook coming from social media.

Besides that, from what I have personally experienced, they will RARELY be looking for answers from moderators. They'll want answers from the developing team. They'll want answers from Lars, Ryan, Given and others. That's where the workload will increase for the developers.

Other games in early access have a small team of developers and moderators working on just answering the queries/grievances of people on the steam forums, their own forums and other gaming forums. Besides that they will have a spreadsheet full of bugs and feedback being filled everyday for the head development team to look at whenever they can. Here's one such example. They also have a 'helpdesk' to deal with the refunds. The question here is can the team of Frontiers do that at such a scale? Obviously you do not have to do it exactly like that but if you cannot respond to them, your early access will be seen as a failure by the gaming population.

PS: Please note that I'm only talking about the drawbacks of early access because that's where I believe the weakness of Frontiers will be due to the small development team. I do recognise that early access also bring in a lot of positives if handled properly.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by RyanASpan » Sun Apr 20, 2014 6:15 am

Kevin wrote:The masses will never be an issue for a moderator; someone is being annoying, you just caution or ban them. Your job is done and stops there to the general public.
It's dealing with the consequences and the effects of it ( read: misunderstanding of the game and the concept of it) outside your influence such as the steam forum or other gaming forums such as kotaku, neogaf and others where you will never have control on. Lars will have to answer to those though either from the gaming journalists or due to the negative outlook coming from social media.

Besides that, from what I have personally experienced, they will RARELY be looking for answers from moderators. They'll want answers from the developing team. They'll want answers from Lars, Ryan, Given and others. That's where the workload will increase for the developers.

Other games in early access have a small team of developers and moderators working on just answering the queries/grievances of people on the steam forums, their own forums and other gaming forums. Besides that they will have a spreadsheet full of bugs and feedback being filled everyday for the head development team to look at whenever they can. Here's one such example. They also have a 'helpdesk' to deal with the refunds. The question here is can the team of Frontiers do that at such a scale? Obviously you do not have to do it exactly like that but if you cannot respond to them, your early access will be seen as a failure by the gaming population.

PS: Please note that I'm only talking about the drawbacks of early access because that's where I believe the weakness of Frontiers will be due to the small development team. I do recognise that early access also bring in a lot of positives if handled properly.

Kevin speaks much sense. Early Access would necessitate a huge change in our dev process, and a lot more time devoted to putting out brushfires and other irrelevant bullshit. For all of us. The last thing we need is another drain on our time before our deadlines.
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by Zolana » Sun Apr 20, 2014 7:39 am

RyanASpan wrote:... following a large arrow.


Someone can just mod one in :P
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by DeDy » Sun Apr 20, 2014 11:20 am

Hi Lars. Big decision coming. Think positive and the decision will be positive. ;)
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Re: 4/17/2014 - Early Access (?)

PostPosted by yarnevk » Sun Apr 20, 2014 12:05 pm

Zolana wrote:
RyanASpan wrote:... following a large arrow.


Someone can just mod one in :P

Does not matter they will still loudly proclaim that the game design is so broken that they have to rely on mods to make it into a design that any jr MMO developer should already know. Put the modded arrow in the game to shut them up, and excise all that quest text for the TL;DR crowd, then you have those saying this game is broken because it holds your hand with arrows and requires a mod and a novel author to fix it.

That is the problem with Early Access, you have no marketing control over attracting the right crowd that will appreciate the game design niche this is in. If steam decides to do RPG sales this week, the Early Access will get thrown in there and you will get tons of impulse buys demanding their money back if the wordy novels are not removed and replaced with arrows. At some point the staff realizes getting out the code knife is easier than cutting checks. Then the game control devolves into a single key that asks if the player is still awake so they can move forward with the next combat/quest/loot.
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