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jtoddcoleman

my frustration with crowdfunding, explained

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Hey folks, just a quick note, apparently some people took my statement on yesterday’s livestream that “I will never do crowdfunding again” as frustration with community feedback.  Nothing could be further from the truth; this game wouldn’t be here without you and frankly won’t be successful without you.  

That said, I was being earnest about my feelings on crowdfunding; I think it’s a particularly challenging way to develop a game for a few reasons:

1. You have to build excitement/hype at the beginning of the project, and it’s impossible to keep that excitement up for the duration of the project.  That means your fighting an uphill battle of fatigue in the press and the audience going into launch.  Not good.

2. Supporting a “live” service for the duration of development, with the accompanying build process, deployment pipeline and operational environment is very expensive and time consuming.

3. The process exposes all of our missteps to the world, and that sucks.  No one would prefer to make their mistakes in front of a live studio audience.

4. The nature of the beast is that you're putting undercooked systems and unbalanced tables in front of players.  As you know, this can often lead to experiences that are not fun. Managing expectations and keeping players happy is especially difficult under these conditions.

All of that said, I apologize if it came across in any way as a swipe at you guys.  It absolutely wasn’t intended that way.  It can be hard to get feedback some times, but I want to make this game great for you and I fully recognize that we can’t do it without you.

Next time, I’ll go get the funding lined up first and ask you for your feedback —without also asking for your money.  That’s all.

Thanks,

Todd


J Todd Coleman

ArtCraft Entertainment, Inc.

Follow us on Twitter @CrowfallGame | Like us on Facebook

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To MR. Coleman and Gang...…..DO NOT GIVE UP.....the road is rocky...…..idc what others think....KEEP UP THE AWSOME WORK!!!!!...….I BELIEVE!...….You got the MMO peeps are looking for...just need to get it going(easyier said then done I gets it). Gamers (im one so can say this) We GAMERS are dicks, impatient and want ALL our cookies NOW!!….we need to be patient with you guys. Im here in the wings waiting and checking, and my heart goes out to you guys. TY SOOOO MUUUUCH!...…….look into a goold sink economy that would lets us get rid of stuff we don't want for gold...but somehow maintain vendors for the blues and up stuff :)…….I said I was here for the long haul..and I meant it. I havnt seen the broadcast yet but checking it out shortly.

 

KEEP UP THE AWSOME WORK! DONT LET OUR CRANKY ASS'S KILL THE DREAM!

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+1 for clearing up a comment that I've seen making the rounds. After watching it, you said it laughingly. It was very easy to see that quote pop up all over the internet and not understand the context and spirit in which it was said. 

That said, I think the live service part was a self-inflicted wound, as we've discussed. Yet, it allowed the player-nurses to course correct so many decisions we wouldn't have otherwise seen. I think this is largely going to be the reason Crowfall succeeds. That the players have had such an integral part of guiding the creation of the game at virtually every single stage of development (beyond the vision of course). That's pretty unique, even among the few titles that have been kickstarted; no other game listens and adapts to player feedback as much as this one has.

Anyhow, the finish line is in front of your team, looking forward to making sure it crosses it.

Cheers!

 

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The path you chose is the one you’re walking. Other crowdfunded projects followed more traditional paths and have maintained their hype. Seems like you’re trying to shift the blame on something you had control over. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, jtoddcoleman said:

Hey folks, just a quick note, apparently some people took my statement on yesterday’s livestream that “I will never do crowdfunding again” as frustration with community feedback.  Nothing could be further from the truth; this game wouldn’t be here without you and frankly won’t be successful without you.  

That said, I was being earnest about my feelings on crowdfunding; I think it’s a particularly challenging way to develop a game for a few reasons:

1. You have to build excitement/hype at the beginning of the project, and it’s impossible to keep that excitement up for the duration of the project.  That means your fighting an uphill battle of fatigue in the press and the audience going into launch.  Not good.

2. Supporting a “live” service for the duration of development, with the accompanying build process, deployment pipeline and operational environment is very expensive and time consuming.

3. The process exposes all of our missteps to the world, and that sucks.  No one would prefer to make their mistakes in front of a live studio audience.

4. The nature of the beast is that you're putting undercooked systems and unbalanced tables in front of players.  As you know, this can often lead to experiences that are not fun. Managing expectations and keeping players happy is especially difficult under these conditions.

All of that said, I apologize if it came across in any way as a swipe at you guys.  It absolutely wasn’t intended that way.  It can be hard to get feedback some times, but I want to make this game great for you and I fully recognize that we can’t do it without you.

Next time, I’ll go get the funding lined up first and ask you for your feedback —without also asking for your money.  That’s all.

Thanks,

Todd

centerpieces makes it all better.

Edited by Marth
centerpieces

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On the flip side, I think the net positive here is the amount of player-driven iteration you've been able to do.

You chose to be extremely transparent and really integrate the community at a very early stage, and being a guy that has made several MMOs at this point you're also really cognizant of the over/under on MMO communities complaining about hogwash versus common threads that expose questionable decisions, and the perils of the armchair developer.

TBH the way you're developing the game is absolutely terrifying to me, too and I wouldn't want to do it that way either.

However I think the net benefit of having so many people poking holes in the design at such formative points seems a net positive that you guys have harnessed for real good, and I think that care and attentiveness to balancing 'what does our audience want' versus 'what does our audience say it wants' will most certainly show in the final product.

You can say "It's pre-alpha' and 'come back later when its finished' all you want to, but the fact remains that you're taking people's money in exchange for access to the thing, so you've made the decision to respect that interaction and treat it like the product people paid for. That's admirable. A lot of "early access" titles don't bother.

The moment you've started accepting money and gating access to a live environment, in every practical sense of the word your game is released. You have an obligation to the people you sold it to to attempt to deliver the best experience possible. A lot of early access teams simply don't try, take the money and then hide behind the excuse of "well its just a beta" and continue to use that statement as some kind of magical shield while engaging in commerce with customers as if that were not the case.

The fact is, when you're offering access to servers in exchange for money, you're now selling a live service. Its not really a pre-release order any more. You gated server access behind that purchase deliberately to create a transaction because the value of that access is more compelling than the promise of future access. You have taken on the decision to monetize the game as a game, not as a pre-order. The "Its early access" excuse, in my opinion, carries very little weight once you start making the transaction of money for access.

I think ACE seems genuinely concerned with treating their customers well. Not "backers" or "funders" or whatever PR bull buzzword is usually used to deflect from the reality of that relationship but customers who have paid to use a product and expect it to function well NOW because they're paying to play it NOW.

You decided to treat your customers, even at this pre-alpha stage like customers. Is it harder? I bet. Does it speak volumes about the character of the team that has been assembled? Also yes. Does it make the development of your game less agile? I bet. Does it result in a better game when its all said and done? I'd like to think so.

So yeah, its hard to do right by customers in this situation, which is why a lot of crowfunded projects don't try and just use the cloak of "we're working on it" to justify that lack of engagement and respect for those customers. I get why you wouldn't want to do it again, but I also think your decision to keep doing the hard thing even though its hard for the good of your customers says a lot.


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Rub rock on face and say "Yes food is eaten now time for fight"

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Posted (edited)

To @jtoddcoleman I'm only an official backer since early January, so take that into consideration on the below.

The vision of this all is what has me interested. I signed up to play a game and contribute to the process, and I've definitely gotten my money's worth out of Crowfall in terms of pure enjoyment. Let that sink in for a second. Your game is not finished or in any official release status, yet you have people who return day-to-day or week-to-week or month-to-month to enjoy Crowfall. Hence the backlash lately, you enlightened us that you shared similar sentiments over the fact that Crowfall kicks the player too hard. I at least appreciate the acknowledgement. 

I wasn't offended by your line, (in fact I laughed along with you, I've watched your streams every month for about a year and your "showmanship" always impresses me, because you don't seem to be a "showman" type- it makes it more genuine to me), I sympathize with you. But the fact that you have opened this game to the public, I.E. people have paid entry into CF, you're on the line for entertaining the masses and managing the PR of a fledgling game. That's on you, not us. 

Despite what you want us to do, we're not going to be playing if it's not fun, and that's just human nature. Most of us in the community derive fun by being a part of the process, reporting bugs, or providing feedback. But when the testing process gets "hung up" on repeating the same old feedback or reporting the same bugs, well there's a little bit of an existential "why am I here?" feeling. We're not writing the code or helping implement new features, only reflecting on what you let us see.

 

I say ALL of that to say, I got excited to hear @Pann directly address @Navystylz concerns on air yesterday, because I think 100% of what he is frustrated with is what I am frustrated with. Maybe it's because we both play Rangers (lol). When his concerns were disregarded then and there, I was bummed, but then you went on to state "we could satisfy the one guy that wants balance and piss off the rest of the people that want Frostweaver". I don't think this is accurate. Unless you guys have some polling I'm not aware of, I think the vast majority of people not testing or hyping CF anymore (In other words, non active CF players) are probably more concerned with seemingly immortal bugs and balance issues than they are a class that's been in the works for what feels like half a decade. 

Maybe I'm completely wrong, but I think your frustration with crowdfunded games may in part stem from the fact that you are always more inclined to developing this game in the way you are comfortable with while being as efficient as possible. I.E. like you have previous titles. I think you guys are doing wonderfully, but the fact stands that the community (both inactive and active) expects a certain amount of fun to be had at this stage, and for some of us, combat will never be fun until broken things are fixed. If archetype/class/whatever balance is not considered as something that's important until somewhere near the end... Well that's a problem for many of us. This is a PvP game, that's the core reason we are here.  

I for one won't touch it until at least a basic pass is made. That's not a threat, just a statement of my displeasure. I hope you guys are confident in throwing Frostweaver into this unbalanced mess we have currently. 

 

Edited by Samulus
wording

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Every change made comes with huge backlash and a lot if angry posts. I can definitely understand why it would be frustrating to hear as a developer. Honestly, the systems you've put in place aren't bad, they just need some tweaking. The problem is that everyone is used to playing a certain type of game, and when expectations are shaken up the sky seems to be falling. The controversial changes of late don't make the game bad, just different.  That can be hard to see sometimes.

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Posted (edited)

I agree on samulus on this:

1 hour ago, Samulus said:

The vision of this all is what has me interested. I signed up to play a game and contribute to the process, and I've definitely gotten my money's worth out of Crowfall in terms of pure enjoyment. Let that sink in for a second. Your game is not finished or in any official release status, yet you have people who return day-to-day or week-to-week or month-to-month to enjoy Crowfall. Hence the backlash lately, you enlightened us that you shared similar sentiments over the fact that Crowfall kicks the player too hard. I at least appreciate the acknowledgement. 

I would like to point out that I signed to test a PvP game but the fact is you generated campaigns having 6 to 9 maps for only 15 - 60 active players at the same time (on EU), this is ridiculous. I understand you wanna test your map generator but do you really need to add so many maps. Nowaday, I never find someone when I go hunting and the only PvP I found thus far is this ridiculous zerg strategy during siege windows.

I have really no vision about what you are expecting from a fight. At the moment, there are no tools to manage some good fight with a lower number of players when the gears are equals.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Vlaana

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2 hours ago, Samulus said:


Despite what you want us to do, we're not going to be playing if it's not fun, and that's just human nature. Most of us in the community derive fun by being a part of the process, reporting bugs, or providing feedback. But when the testing process gets "hung up" on repeating the same old feedback or reporting the same bugs, well there's a little bit of an existential "why am I here?" feeling. We're not writing the code or helping implement new features, only reflecting on what you let us see.

 

This probably bothers me the most. We list bugs over and over again and get no confirmation or no change.

We get that yall are pushing the major milestones, but the bugs are piling up and it become discouraging to play and to test.

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In all honesty - at one point the fatigue is pilling up in one or multiple areas around the game. 

I feel like that the whole testing thing could have been better communicated - maybe something like git or whatever but again.... at the end it's just visual. 

Cudos to all testing. I can't or won't since right at the start I feel like being burnt out (but that's my take on this). 

 

About #2 - in all honesty - if you simply did Test and let Live die and gave us reasons for it I think only a fraction would be mad. I mean at one point someone has to ask what the purpose of live while still being pre-alpha/alpha (I mean that's just going into details but well). 

About #3 - honestly this makes the game rather believable. I mean most game are years in development and iteration. While this is also quite okay to do so you really lose the game out of your view. With Crowfall you can always check the progress. (still waiting for the Frostweaver). 

About #4 - I think a lot of player still think that Alpha/Beta means the Korean Game Localization Way (if you want to call it that way) - basically the game is done. Simply money making process here. While the idea of getting into a game as soon as possible to get an advantage (knowledge, speed, etc.) is still the same the process in a game developed from zero to launch is a bit different as you might want to throw away 90% of the things learned if the devs ninja implement system X on the last straw. But this is mainly a players fault. I don't think making money by offering early and earliest access is a bad thing. 

About #1 - I think this is something many games share - not only crowd fundend games. From the first teaser to CBT to OBT is often a process taking years so it is always bound to happen that the interesst decreases just to spike again when news about serious movement is dropping in. So I wouldn't really give all that much about that. I mean that's easier for a player to say than from the developer stance but still. That's nothing really new. 


You get the wolves...lots of wolves...and sheep that wear armor and have developed an appetite for blood soaked grass - dubanka

Even insects smell good when roasted - a random confessor

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, oneply said:

☝️ I’d rather have the classes that exist now have their skills fixed before getting another broken class...Frostweaver. The carrot won’t taste as good as you imagine it will. 

frostweaver is the always the centerpiece i thought it would be. 

Edited by Marth
centerpieces

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8 hours ago, jtoddcoleman said:

Next time, I’ll go get the funding lined up first and ask you for your feedback —without also asking for your money.  That’s all.

Thanks,

Todd

If the game is successful you'll be happy that you didn't have to sell your soul to the devil and compromise on your vision to get initial funding. I call shotgun on the maiden voyage of you and Gordon's yacht.

Seems like getting funding for games is a "Damned if you do...Damned if you do..." situation. 

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, jtoddcoleman said:

4. The nature of the beast is that you're putting undercooked systems and unbalanced tables in front of players.  As you know, this can often lead to experiences that are not fun. Managing expectations and keeping players happy is especially difficult under these conditions.

Many understand and sympathize with you for the reasons you listed. That being said, get rid of test or live server and turn down the dials to reduce grind by a power of ten. Are we not in pre-alpha testing phase or live? New players buying into the test phase should not have to grind or wait days to weeks for skills or spend more then an hour leveling at this stage of testing. Even many older vets are not supportive of all the grind added. You have said you have many dials and ability to adjust, well please adjust across the board for the duration of pre-alpha at the very least.

Edited by mystafyi

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If having a live server running makes things more stressful and slows progress down, why don't you close the live servers down and only bring them up now and again? keep test up when you need stuff testing and when you want to show off certain stuff that is finished, that's when you can open up the live servers for ppl to mess around on for 5 or so days. This will also help in player burnout.

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The Vision of What this game can be and will be is why i signed up and backed it.   I knew getting into it that it was gonna be a long haul process.    Just reading blogs/posts and getting into the game when and where i can.   I can positively say i think it's in great hands and the development team and testers all seem to be super smart and dedicated.     Something new and different always comes with turmoil and setbacks.     But the road forward looks great.     I look forward to being in and spending hours in the world you create.        AS Cliche as hell as it sounds.   "Rome was not built in a day".     Take your time do what you think is right.   I have faith it's gonna be great when it is all finally put together.

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Posted (edited)

Thank you for posting this, @jtoddcoleman. It is nice to hear that you are not frustrated by situation. You should know, that we are not frustrated too. Yes, current experience is not fun, and yes, we understand, that it was not your intent, it was a result of a development cycle, which happens.

However, we both (players and developers) should understand that even though Crowfall development is harder and more costly, it produces the game we all want. Hey, there are bunch of MMO pvp sandboxes out there, but we do not play them, instead we try to play game in pre-alpha development. Why? Because other MMO developers failed to meet non-casual players expectations, which are majority of this community (and lets pray it will stay like that).

Look at Guild Wars 2 as an example, it released a beautiful World vs World system with awesome nicely-telegraphed good thought combat system. We, as community, played it for several years and found issues here and there, posted them multiple times on forums with majority having the same solutions to make the game more fun. And than they released the first expansion. Do you know what they did? Did they bring improvements community were asking for? No! They changed CEO, made their analysis, understood that 60% of WvW population were casuals/semi-casuals and destroyed competitive fun side of World vs World to make everything solo/casual friendly. The new map, they introduced, had terrible layout for mass fights and strategy play, combat system went into FXs mess, meta changed to boring "sustainball" (result of overbalancing classes for PvE raids) and many many other things. After month of playing we requested rollback to previous version. Imagine, community wanted to rollback the whole expansion. But, of course, they did not. We quit the game. Guilds were leaving together to other games. After half an year, Arena.net acknowledged their mistake, they rolled back to previous maps, but it was too late. Community got developers real reasons: they wanted to cash on major casual part of PvP population instead of listening to players, who played game for it was designed.

Crowfall has all the potential to avoid such tragedies. If something goes wrong with fun in the game, community instantly reacts. Yes, we do overreact often, sometimes we get angry and rage, but we never do that to hurt developers feelings, we do that because we want the game to be successful and fun. Most of us have years of experience playing sandbox pvp-games, we saw many design flaws in other games, we are like a litmus test to any changes happening in game.

Please, remember that no matter how harsh development goes, we are all here to make the successful game, that we will play for years having fun together!

Edited by ComradeAma

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