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Founders' Update: Soft launch strategy

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Good, cause I agree with you, combat is not even close to being where I feel it needs to be.....I am glad you guys are delaying release to get this right.

Yep, combat will definitely need to be sped up quite a bit...

Edited by VIKINGNAIL

Skeggold, Skalmold, Skildir ro Klofnir

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I like the fact that they are choosing to delay and make a better product and I really liked Blair's post on combat.

 

The "soft launch" makes me cringe a little bit, I am concerned that will broadcast "Steam early access!" to a lot of potential players.  I would rather delay beta until a hard launch - but we will see how it goes!

 

 

Most important question:  Will this affect Blair's hair and how many extra haircuts will he require prior to launch?


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Pretty happy with this, actually.  At some point, it has to be "good enough" (You can always make something better) but I don't think it's there yet.  There will be other games to play in the mean time - I want this one to be good and last.

 

Edit:

I would like to say that you might want to be careful with the "soft launch".  Make sure you're ready for that, because it may be hard to get people to take a second look once all the gaming sites start writing on it.  I'd rather delay that further as well if it means more players.

Edited by yamix

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Pretty happy with this, actually.  At some point, it has to be "good enough" (You can always make something better) but I don't think it's there yet.  There will be other games to play in the mean time - I want this one to be good and last.

 

Edit:

I would like to say that you might want to be careful with the "soft launch".  Make sure you're ready for that, because it may be hard to get people to take a second look once all the gaming sites start writing on it.  I'd rather delay that further as well if it means more players.

 

Honestly they can mess it up on the 1st go and still have people come back since they will be a completely different genre of MMO. Look at Archeage, here is the reddit and you can see people saying they are coming back https://www.reddit.com/r/archeage/  , AA is probably the most hated MMOrpg of all time in the west but people still come back to it and give it second/third/4th look because it is different than everything else.


Check out my youtube channel for testing gameplay https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp-AgZ6mHOVObusemDVEXoA

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Please just postpone the release until it's right.

The idea of a soft-launch has never been successful, it's like launching a half-assed title in "pre-alpha" and gamers are generally pretty quick to pass judgement and discredit the title.

 

You only get one chance to make a good first impression with the world. We can wait.

Edited by reihen

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Although the idea of getting in early makes me nearly quiver in delight, I am with those calling for the soft launch idea to be reconsidered. 

 

There are very few titles that have ever had a successful soft launch. The only one I can think of was DOTA 2 and this was largely due to the huge community that DOTA had before DOTA 2 development. When it comes to MMOs I doubt it has ever worked to the advantage of the game.

 

I believe the main reason MMOs fail to get off the ground is twofold;

Firstly, obtaining a large enough active community to support an MMO environment (one that doesn't feel like a ghost town) requires extensive advertising and marketing. A "hard launch", both physical and digital is a great avenue for pre-launch advertising especially in the case of digital format when a popular platform like Steam is used. The wait and anticipation for launch events are very handy at creating hype.

 

The dream game you have described in the past as Crowfall is particularly prone to this. Because you want to market to so many individual communities and have dedicated servers in smaller countries (like Australia) you will need to attract a relatively large player base from each region so if advertising isn't effective some regions will begin as the classic "ghost town" of a dying MMO.

 

The second problem is always having the content to keep people active. Some MMOs fail because they look healthier then they are. At launch subscription and activity tends to be high, however, if there is not enough content activity can drop rapidly but still appear fine in the number of members. This tends to lead into a vicious cycle of dropping activity and subsequent subscription cancellations until the game dies. 

 

Both of these facts discredit the idea for an MMO soft launch.

 

Another problem that players don't like entering a new game they just paid for at a disadvantage that cannot be overcome by playing more or better than other players. If you allow the backers to enter earlier and do not reset the servers then they will have a time advantage over everyone else. This is compounded by the way you level in the game. By the time you open it up to more players the early backers will be months ahead in training and new players can never really catch up.

 

I honestly believe a soft launch will be the end of the game.

Edited by GrimAndProper

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Not surprised in any way, shape or form. I would have been stunned and honestly skeptical if Artcraft had announced everything was going perfectly and had no significant delays at all during development. This is because of the many, many games, Crowdfunded and traditional, that I've watched develop/thrown money at from alpha to launch (or, in the cases of several, to the date of their utter vaporization). Delays are pretty much a given in every instance, that's just the unfortunate truth of game development. Its hard to predict how much time a complicated thing like a video game will take to complete. So whatevs devs, just get it done right, as soon as you can.

 

But the soft launch thing I've got mixed feelings about. I've played mmos/games that "soft launched" and because they lacked important features before I jumped in, they never hooked me, and I never went back to see how things felt and changed later, or I just got burned out and never returned once the game was officially completed. Then again, I've played early access/still-in-development games that I've loved and do not regret buying into at all (Starbound, Ark, Minecraft). I just hope Crowfall has some kind of official "it's done to original vision spec, jump in now y'all" point so that I know when I can expect to experience the whole game as promised; especially if I burn out playing the early version of CF and yet still want to go back someday when it's feature complete to see if I can be re-hooked.


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Not joking, KS changed how MMOs are made, many of those MMOs are challenging what a MMO is, maybe its time the idea of launch is changed as well. Ive never seen a MMO as done, they are always evolving, which is one of the things that makes them so much more interesting and retentive. Never stop learning, never stop changing. I love it. 

Yep this. I see a lot of the concerns about a soft launch and I think most seem based on how MMOs used to be made. If this was just another big budget cookie cutter MMO then sure a soft launch would likely be a very bad thing to do. But with the rise in KS and crowd funded, indie game dev made MMOs like said how they are made has changed. So how we view and approach them now has to change as well.

 

For me its simple, having seen empty rushed garbage MMOs for years I am more than ready to accept the new way of doing things. Would rather they get it right, give us smaller polished pieces of the game at a time, rather than get the whole game that isn't polished and barely functional because of it. To me it doesn't matter as much if the game isn't finished when they soft launch, as long as what they do give us is polished and we can see the potential until they give us the rest of the game.

Edited by pang

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I love the fact that you've come out and let us all know that things are delayed.  Its reassuring to know that you are being honest with your community.  IMO I say delay and finish the game before launch.  I'd much rather play a finished polished product free of bugs and wait for it than having an incomplete buggy game to play.  You guys are doing a good job, keep it up.....  Combat is coming along though, it is vastly improved from the first version of the hunger dome that I logged into.


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Wrathmane - Remnant of Ascendance

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My first time commenting on the forums to add three things, most of which has already been said:

 

  1. Thank you for your transparency, as a backer having the knowledge of what's behind the curtain is very much appreciated.
  2. I don't mind a delay, especially so long at it means a better finished product.  I love finished products.
  3. Given that you're going to be extending the development time of Crowfall, there are a couple lessons I've encountered while being an early backer of another game (Firefall by Red5)
    1. I don't think ArtCraft is likely to fall prey to this particular issue, as everything I've read to date has shown a very strong feeling of what you want the game to be, and where you want to take it, but I can't mention Firefall without being reminded that: Polishing systems is a great way to improve a game, but rewriting them with completely different directions is where the danger lies.
    2. Soft releases are a great way to get players performing far deeper testing of systems, and can obviously very valuable.  Unfortunately, where FF messed up here was the promise to stop all character wipes after release 'X'.  The player base cheered, everyone was happy, then as crafting was re-engineered, all the banked materials were converted to a new currency, then another update invalidated that currency, and so on.  The devs ended up running into issues where preserving the 'riches' of the early characters challenged their ability to address updates to character progression, without destroying the player economy.  The tldr being that early soft releases can be great, but I'd hate to see Crowfall at large suffer from the results of promising not to wipe out a generation of 'pre-release' characters simply to reward us backers for testing systems.

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We had to decide whether we could call combat and movement "done", and move on.

 

The answer is: they aren't, and we can't.  The ripple effect is that we need to spend more time on them, and that means NOT moving on to the other stuff.  The other stuff will come in later as a result.

 

Todd

ACE

 

Thank you for recognizing this. I suppose I'm a bit of an oddball around here - I'm following you guys as closely as I can, joining in on the tests as I'm available...but I'm otherwise a pretty casual player these days. I'm not going to get picky over specifics of combat systems, irritated at a date being pushed back, or frustrated with features not coming into the game on some set in stone timetable. But I want to have fun. Right now, for me, it's just not very fun. The combat isn't flowing, the movement isn't natural. So I want it to be amazing too, and I'm glad you guys are seeing that it needs more work! I think most of us are along for the ride and if we're posting here you largely have our support. My only concern is that while you try to hit "amazing" you don't fall into the perfection trap and run out of funding to keep the servers on and the crew paid. I hope you'll be just as open with the financial situation (as much as you guys can) as you are about the system development.

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My first time commenting on the forums to add three things, most of which has already been said:

 

  1. Thank you for your transparency, as a backer having the knowledge of what's behind the curtain is very much appreciated.
  2. I don't mind a delay, especially so long at it means a better finished product.  I love finished products.
  3. Given that you're going to be extending the development time of Crowfall, there are a couple lessons I've encountered while being an early backer of another game (Firefall by Red5)
    1. I don't think ArtCraft is likely to fall prey to this particular issue, as everything I've read to date has shown a very strong feeling of what you want the game to be, and where you want to take it, but I can't mention Firefall without being reminded that: Polishing systems is a great way to improve a game, but rewriting them with completely different directions is where the danger lies.
    2. Soft releases are a great way to get players performing far deeper testing of systems, and can obviously very valuable.  Unfortunately, where FF messed up here was the promise to stop all character wipes after release 'X'.  The player base cheered, everyone was happy, then as crafting was re-engineered, all the banked materials were converted to a new currency, then another update invalidated that currency, and so on.  The devs ended up running into issues where preserving the 'riches' of the early characters challenged their ability to address updates to character progression, without destroying the player economy.  The tldr being that early soft releases can be great, but I'd hate to see Crowfall at large suffer from the results of promising not to wipe out a generation of 'pre-release' characters simply to reward us backers for testing systems.

 

 

Yes, yes, and yes.  Thank you for posting!  You articulated my feelings perfectly.  Bullet 3.2 is exactly my concern with a soft launch.


Nazdar

Proud member of The Hunger

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Yes, yes, and yes.  Thank you for posting!  You articulated my feelings perfectly.  Bullet 3.2 is exactly my concern with a soft launch.

Yep. His bullet 3.2 is right on.  It is basically summarized as: be very, very sure when you announce the last wipe.  Make sure everyone knows well in advance.  No need to reward backers, IMO, we already get the rewards we signed up for.  I'd much rather just be apart of the big release with everyone being brand new characters.  We'll have knowledge advantages alone which are very valuable.


Mic MWH, Member of Mithril Warhammers since 2003,


Hammers High! http://www.mithrilwarhammers.com

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I can assure you we are going at light speed based on where we at (a bit over a year?) with the team we have. Astounding and incredible are the two most common terms we hear from other game teams looking at our project. 

 
Let me be clear, I'm not criticizing you based on your progress thus far. Nor do I really care that this game isn't "launching in 2016", trust me when I say I knew you weren't going to meet that launch window long before you announced it. 
 

"Because Combat" is actually a much deeper phrase than you realize. Combat is a lens into the entire game. Observing the combat in any game you can tell pretty much everything about that particular game. Think of combat as digital Tea Leaves because you can observe;

the quality of the concept, character, environment, animators, UI, and FX artists,

the netcode architecture, (client server or trusted client?)

server architechture, (how does the server handle under load?)

the character controller, (kinematic or physics)

the optimization of assets / fancy environments + skys, (fps)

the creativity and execution of class powers, (just basic damage/healing or powers that are fun and interact with each other / world?)

etc,etc.

 

More to this point; You are absolutely correct in that every single person looking at Crowfall has been judging your game based on how combat is. The fact that we haven't quite known what your current specific vision is for combat and where it currently stands measured against that vision makes everyone wonder what the heck is going on here.

 

Unfortunately any or all of those aspects not working right is instantly felt in Combat and makes everyone feel pretty much how they currently about combat. No matter what combat design you have a 500ms power input delay when you press a power is going to make it feel rotten. The same could be said of sub 20 FPS, clogged message queues, forced stops instead of blended stops on power execution, and or hitching as you rotate because assets are being loaded.  All of these things we are working on right now because we pushed features around to make them happen now. It really sucks knowing what you need to fix but not having people free to fix it at that moment in time because other issues are more important at that moment in time. That however is the nature of game development. 

 

I have a feeling once we have powers animating the second you press the key, proper mass to mass interactions, great fps, no more hitching, solid server perf when lots of players in area, hit events in the animations, sound hit events based on material types, counter slash hit fx, and region based clients so we can turn the blood fx back on, combat will feel fluid, responsive and satisfying.

 

The bolded section of this eloquent response is transparency. My problem with combat has ALWAYS been the fact we didn't know what your ultimate goal was. Sure early on during Crowns and Crows we got some glimpses and references to other games of what it might be like. A lot has changed since those podcasts (perhaps a contributing reason why they no longer air them?). Is it so hard to have a clear vision out there for the community to discuss the merits and disadvantages of it? Is it really going to distract you, or make you look bad when people see you are engaging with the community (even if you don't actively participate in said discussion)? Instead we get this;

  • The forum goers complain combat feels laughably antiquated. They cite slow, animation-locks, and any number of other words.
  • You publicly news-release that you are addressing the communities concerns. You even state that you aren't happy with combat either. 

The problem is, you never actually stated what concerns you were addressing (probably because the community had so many of them). Instead you went back into the office and proceeded on doing whatever it is you were planning on doing (for all we know). That bolded section in your reply is the first glimpse that I've personally come across that says combat IS implemented in the style you want, but that several specific factors (which you listed above) are contributing to combat feeling "off". 

 

That's fantastic, seriously. It would be silly and pointless for any person to complain about combat when its not even implemented in the way you as developers want. Unfortuntately, we've gotten very few direct news releases updating us at to where you think the game is at. You aren't eliciting feedback (and controlling the conversation), you are sort of sitting waiting for it to smack you in the face (or tossing us garbage and hoping we sift through it like gutter trash murder hobo's).

 

Can you answer me this question? You know combat isn't done in the way you want and you go so far to acknowledge that most people are going to judge you solely on how this system functions. Yet you are spending time and resources on other things? If this whole game lives or dies by combat (and it really really does), why is anything else a priority for your team right now? Anything. 

 

After a major press release like this, and telling us it's going to launch "when its ready", what in gods earth could be more important than the bullet-pointed list you just provided us (of things that must happen to make combat how you want it)? You've bought yourself the time to re-prioritize. I will be at an utter loss if we have new systems go online and combat still sucks in three or four months. It means you are actively developing other things and combat will continue to suck. And this whole conversation will just happen AGAIN three to four months down the road. That's my concern.

 

Basically, you have yourself the reprieve, no one rose up in open rebellion and disgruntled in your cheerios. You have and have always had the time you need to develop this game the way you wanted (within monetary reason of course). I just hope we see a more targeted focus on combat, going forward, because the last time we got a delay, it didn't fix this problem. Instead we got "Siege Perilous" and throughout it we still had the same poorly executed socksty combat in place.

 

tldr; The last time you delayed the game, you told us combat was your focus. It still hasn't been fixed but you've spent time time bringing  new stuff online instead of fixing it. Why?

Edited by scree

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Can you answer me this question? You know combat isn't done in the way you want and you go so far to acknowledge that most people are going to judge you solely on how this system functions. Yet you are spending time and resources on other things? If this whole game lives or dies by combat (and it really really does), why is anything else a priority for your team right now? Anything. 

 

 

Sweet god the condescension in this post.

 

The simple answer is not everyone on the project was hired to work on roles that deal specifically with combat.  Just because they are focusing on combat doesn't mean the other employees should stop working on their deliverable.  The more complex answer is project management and from everything producer Todd has been putting out there indicates the team is hitting their deliverables.  They are then reviewing internally and giving testers the opportunity to provide feedback about how all of the pieces are fitting together and creating new deliverables based on the priorities they see fit.  Every project is unique I don't care how many times you've done something you will discover new opportunities because you have different people.  The Pareto principle is going to start to become a real issue and it would be a huge waste of money to get combat to 100% before moving onto other key  aspects of this game.

Edited by Degan

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tldr; The last time you delayed the game, you told us combat was your focus. It still hasn't been fixed but you've spent time time bringing  new stuff online instead of fixing it. Why?

 

 

I think TBlair did answer this in his previous post by saying:

""Because Combat" is actually a much deeper phrase than you realize"  and " It really boils down to time to build all the pieces"

 

Other core systems have to be built at the same time (like art and server performance) because they impact combat as well, and every incremental improvement in combat takes time.


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