Friday, December 04, 2015

The faithful lose their way

The Church of Star Citizen has lost a brother:
Its always going to be hard leaving a cult that I helped to build - But it was time to do it.

Not only has the game changed, but so has the community. Its hard to watch the transition between "tech savvy people with a bit of money to invest in a fun project" into "hypemachine! - you are not valid unless you invest, and subsequently don't complain"

It is a shame that CR has not been able to admit to himself that he couldn't handle this, and I promise - this is the same goddamn problem every single one of us have, role delegation, letting someone else take over, when we don't have the time/skills to do it anymore.

So, assets are getting done, redone, changed, people jump off, new guys come in, hype online, the name that shouldn't be mentioned, grey market crashing, 2.0 another disappointment, this feels like a DEMO cd from the front of a magazine in the damn 90's... AAAARRRH......

Silence. . . .I had had enough. This project's direction is lost within itself.

I had tried to sell my stuff, so that CIG could keep the money I had donated, but, I couldn't even get half of what I had invested. So, I decided to just mail CIG and ask them for my money back. And they gave it to me.
We will see. But certainly events do seem to be following the direction Derek Smart predicted. Which is not at all to say that he is responsible for them going that way.

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Blogger Steve, the Dark Ninja of Mockery December 04, 2015 3:09 PM  

I feel relieved. I got my money back - those (hundreds of billions of gazillions of)* dollars that I can use, to buy actual games, Help others over Christmas (in Sweden we have many homeless refugees fleeing a war in Syria)

Blogger Cataline Sergius December 04, 2015 3:18 PM  

Nobody wanted it to end this way.

I'm still hoping that whatever gets pulled out of the wreckage will somehow get turned into the Wing Commander game we all wanted to see.

Blogger Cogitans Iuvenis December 04, 2015 3:21 PM  

Maybe he should set some of that money aside to get himself a firearm...that is assuming is even able to get one given Sweden's g̶u̶n̶ antifreedom laws

Anonymous BGS December 04, 2015 3:23 PM  

At least he got his money back. Always get out of Ponzi schemes early. No one wants to be the one that breaks the Ponzi scheme but doesn't get their money, only the blame for breaking it. I just don't think I could play a game that someone had a $20,000 advantage against me in it, it would be worse than realizing you are the sucker at a poker table.

Anonymous aegis-1080 December 04, 2015 3:50 PM  

Nobody else notices how absolutely fucking creepy is to hear that kind of blind cult devotion.....over a videogame?

Jesus. That seriously scares me.

Anonymous Soga December 04, 2015 3:56 PM  

@5 aegis-1080

We've been immunized against being creeped out by SJWs and their blind cult devotions in the face of facts. So no.

Video game nerds are also one of the least scary demographics with respect to forming cults over games. The ones you want to be scared of are the ones whose game you're trying to take away. The SJWs are too stupid to learn that lesson.

Blogger Brad Andrews December 04, 2015 4:49 PM  


Kind of funny how we always find a replacement god when we push God out of a society.

Blogger Markku December 04, 2015 5:06 PM  

I'm up for another round of provoking the SC Faithful to zeal. Can someone get them here?

Blogger The Bechtloff December 04, 2015 5:23 PM  

Between Mighty No. 9, Star Citizen, and the debacle that was The Sarkeesian Effect I've pretty much lost all faith in crowd funding. Which I truly hate to admit.

Anonymous Cynic In Chief December 04, 2015 5:24 PM  

Shameless Elite: Dangerous fanboy here. It's entertaining to watch the growing Star Citizen debacle, as long as you're on the outside looking in. Glad to see this guy at least got his money back.

I think Frontier did it better. They didn't promise the moon, just an ambitious but doable project and then delivered it. They're angering people with the "expansion pack" that doubles the content of the game, but also costs an additional amount that is as much as the game itself cost. Still, it's better than what Star Citizen is doing. At least we're getting constant updates and betas of new content instead of just promises and screenshots.

Anonymous Cynic In Chief December 04, 2015 5:33 PM  


I'm just much more careful about crowdfunding than before. I've seen many things get funded and delivered as expected (ED being one of them), the bad apples just get the most press. I'm currently helping fund Obduction (made by Cyan and the Rand brothers, the same guys who made the Myst series) and the updates/videos I get every couple weeks are encouraging, but if I lose my money I won't be too bent out of shape.

The keys to crowdfunding is:
a) Fund people who have made successful projects in the past.
b) Only fund what you can afford to lose (no investing savings like some idiots are doing with SC).
c) Keep your head on straight. SC likely failing is obvious to anyone who understands bubbles.
d) If things head south, don't be afraid to request a refund.

Blogger SirHamster December 04, 2015 5:41 PM  

Its always going to be hard leaving a cult that I helped to build

Why are you building a cult around a video game?

Ugh, Modern Man is dumb. Worships created things so he can enjoy the feeling of reverence and immersion without submission and accountability.

Blogger Krul December 04, 2015 5:48 PM  

@9 - That's a silly reaction. What, did you think crowdfunding was magic?

It's not like this is anything new. There's always a chance a new project will fail. Investors have always had to deal with this kind of uncertainty. Crowdfunders aren't investors, of course, but they're still betting that they'll get some kind of benefit in exchange for their money, such as the opportunity to play a new game.

Blogger Matamoros December 04, 2015 6:01 PM  

Two Souls developer Quantic Dream Refuses to Apologize for White Characters

Blogger Were-Puppy December 04, 2015 6:33 PM  

But certainly events do seem to be following the direction Derek Smart predicted. Which is not at all to say that he is responsible for them going that way.


You both share the one thing - when both of you observe something you get blamed for it.

Anonymous Koppernicus 0298 December 04, 2015 6:34 PM  

I'm sorry to see this. I would really like to see Star Citizen succeed.

Ogre Designer's Edition is a counter example of a Kickstarter that worked.

Blogger Were-Puppy December 04, 2015 6:36 PM  

@1 Steve, the Dark Ninja of Mockery

OT: That one dude in the front is sportin' a brothas Gap Tooth

Blogger James Dixon December 04, 2015 6:45 PM  

> But certainly events do seem to be following the direction Derek Smart predicted. Which is not at all to say that he is responsible for them going that way.

Kill the messenger has always been a human failing.

Anonymous Red Comet December 04, 2015 6:54 PM  

My recommendations regarding crowd funding:

-Look at the reputation of the writer/artist/game developer. If they're known for being unreliable or taking 5 years to put something out then reconsider your donation. If they're a total unknown then proceed with extreme caution.

-Make sure your donation gets you an actual product, not some kind of beta prototype. Make sure it isn't just seed money to pump a business up for sale. Kickstarter and the like are not investment companies. None of those Oculus Rift donators got paid when the company was sold to Facebook.

-Read up on what a reasonable budget would be for a project the size of the one you want to donate to. If they're not asking for enough money then you're not going to get what you want regardless of what is promised. The project will either fail, come back to ask for more money, or turn out an inferior product. I've seen all three happen many times with Kickstarted videogames.

Blogger Bee Killington December 04, 2015 7:23 PM  

the guy wants to spend some of his money he got back from the game to give to refugees invading his Sweden.

(Alex Strouss here.. called that StarCitizen-fail on air in early March, 2weeks before you were on Kate and Baconman's podcast/radio.

so I don't write this to excuse this project. I just find it funny that he goes from one horrible decision to an even worse one)

Blogger Phillip George December 04, 2015 7:33 PM  

cults are fabulous places to be. the sense of community, commitment, cause, righteousness is invigorating. Head-hack-istan recruits stupid westerners by the SUV load by simply providing them with a cause and a rare opportunity for testosterone.

It was the truth bit that got stuck in my throat. i wasn't prepared to pay that price. But gosh I still miss a good cult.

Apparently Matt Walsh just got voted top conservative columnist of 2015. I wonder if he puts on a good candle lit vigil? Something to show head-hack-istanis our defiance.

So go to Bataclans and get pissed listening to b-grade yesterday rock and show your defiance. Being turkeys at a turkey shoot is how defiance works. the Belgium in lock down is Islamophobic bigotry of government funded right wing nazi types. don't wake the children - they're playing video games, and get bothered with the outcomes.

Blogger daddynichol December 04, 2015 8:36 PM  

Investing/refund with SC then wants to give some of that money to people willing to destroy his country? The stupid is strong in this one.

Blogger vkorablin December 04, 2015 8:56 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Anonymous BGS December 04, 2015 9:04 PM  

OT: How the govt broke TOR. It gave $1million to a college to host hundreds of tor nodes and outsourced breaking the rules of evidence to them. I guess that's one way to get competent govt workers ignore affirmative action.

Blogger ncartist December 04, 2015 9:18 PM  

O.T. The deliberate destruction of evidence in the jihadists' apartment.

Anonymous Anonymous December 04, 2015 9:28 PM  

As a former employee of Frontier Developments I see red any time they are held up as an example of how to do anything. The team and development of Elite was a resounding catastrophe.

Anonymous Native Baltimoron December 04, 2015 10:05 PM  

This is an excellent example of the strength of going for broad support, rather than deep. While you can whip nerds into a frenzy and easily part them from their cash, your hype often quickly outpaces your ability to deliver. The guys that bought thousands of dollars of pixel spaceships are feeling like idiots, especially as it becomes clear that Star Citizen is not, in fact, going to be better than sex.

Undue deference to developers is nothing new for indie projects. The Kerbal Space Program devs, who've done a pretty good job overall, dropped their "1.0" well before it was ready, which many were absolutely tripping over themselves to excuse. The big difference, of course, is that no one plonked down $10k for Kerbals.jpg - that sunk cost fallacy is a real bear.

Blogger daddynichol December 04, 2015 10:10 PM  

Investing/refund with SC then wants to give some of that money to people willing to destroy his country? The stupid is strong in this one.

Anonymous BGS December 04, 2015 11:08 PM  

This is embarrassing, it turns out I was giving out bad info and got caught on it. It was not a $1million pay off to CMU to undermine the next Snowden but $1.73 billion. The left really hates whistleblowers, when leftists talk about rounding up guns I tell them that not only do you have to worry about future Snowdens stopping you, but even gays like Brad Manning will. I guess like the Obamacare website you have to account for the costs of a diverse workforce.

O.T. The deliberate destruction of evidence in the jihadists' apartment.

Conservative Treehouse has a pic of the Jihadette, you wont see it on any lamestream, just like the Oregon shooter.

Two Souls developer Quantic Dream Refuses to Apologize for White Characters

Just once I would like to hear someone use the argument that only white people have diversity. You want something other than eyes=brown,& hair=black your only choice is WHITE.

Blogger Zimri December 04, 2015 11:26 PM  

It wasn't Κασάνδρα's fault that Troy fell.

Blogger VD December 05, 2015 5:33 AM  

The team and development of Elite was a resounding catastrophe.

How so? Hasn't Elite Dangerous been relatively successful? Most of those that I know who bought it are happy with it.

Anonymous Anonymous December 05, 2015 11:27 AM  

*"How so? Hasn't Elite Dangerous been relatively successful? Most of those that I know who bought it are happy with it."*

As of Dec, 2013 the team had burnt most of their initial crowd funding raise. They had features but no overall game to tie it all together and months and months of development left before it would be even remotely shippable.

Most of the money to that point was wasted on rewriting loads of existing tech for the sin of not being written by the Elite team. Funnily enough the internal tech is the COBRA engine that is marketed all over the website as being one of the strengths of the company that allows them to develop games in any genre on any platform. If memory serves that was also a part of the original kick starter campaign. It is therefore somewhat ironic that it actually was not good enough for a space game developed by an internal team. "Politics" was the refrain of those who would shake their heads and do nothing about the problem.

The fix to the impending disaster was two fold:

- They *finally* relieved the lead programmer of his duties. I don't think he was fired per se but instead he left in a huff of his own accord shortly thereafter.
- They raised more capital via the "buy your way into the beta" ask in the spring of 2014.

This fresh injection of cash and the new lead programmer who focused on shipping a game versus tech wank turned the ship around. Hence why I say catastrophe. Without this major shakeup, I have no doubt the game wouldn't have shipped.

Strategically there was also also a vehement declaration from management that Elite would *never* be on Steam. Istead it was to be a flagship product to help launch their own sales platform.

By this point in my career it is a game development trope that the few people who actually know what a massive undertaking a feature will be are not in the position to make any calls and are routinely shouted down for being "too negative" when they raise any concerns whatsoever.

Far be it from Frontier to stray from the classics and sure enough they continued to double down on this strategy well after it was clear there was no possible way to develop it in the remaining time and the true experts gave up saying why it wasn't possible. Fast forward 2 years and we still have vapourware but a certain game just popped up in a Steam sale. How negative indeed....

The game as it stands is decent but a lot of people were quite disappointed at launch with what one apt review put as "Euro-truck simulator in space". That is perhaps a bit unfair given the scope of the original games as they were the ultimate sand box games before that term became a thing.

The thing I like to point out is they advertised features that didn't materialize at launch, primarily due to mismangement. The game almost didn't ship and likely would have been delayed or canceled (with massive damage to Frontiers reputation) if they didn't go to the backers, with hat in hand ask for more money.

Given the project was much more modest, had (IMO) much more substantive community updates, and suffered from "politics", I can only imagine how soul crushing the development of Star Citizen is. The game has a number of teams created from scratch and over half a dozen developers in different time zones/countries. I'm sure they all get alone just fine and there is no friction whatsoever.

I, like many other predict that if it doesn't completely crash and burn they will only be able to ship a small sliver of what was promised to howls of disappointment. It will be a shame too as I would enjoy a modern remake of Wing Commander.

There is a reason experienced developers tell their community managers to promise players nothing...

Blogger John M December 06, 2015 11:44 PM  

@denektenorsk sounds like what you described is evidence that Elite Dangerous is not a catastrophe; it's a game that might have been a catastrophe but David Braben and co had the common sense to be pragmatic and turn the ship around when it looked like it's heading for an iceberg. They got the fundamentals down, had an idea what they wanted, refused to stray from their vision. Elite Dangerous is far from the perfect game but it's at least Euro-truck simulator in space. Chris Robert and his team is going to need to learn from Frontier if they want to ship a game that wouldn't be a laughing stock.

Anonymous Anonymous December 10, 2015 11:48 AM  

@John M Yes, from the perspective of the player the game shipped so it was not a catastrophe by arguably the most important metric - it shipped. Frontier is a publically traded company so I'd imagine one could dig up how profitable it was if one were so inclined. That's the real rub if you want to continue making games... making money is a prerequisite. So many developers (individuals, not companies per se) fail to grasp that fundamental point with predictable results.

The initial version of the game shipped approximately 9 months late on an original schedule of ~15 months. That's not unusual in an industry where people regularly confuse making a profitable product on budget with "a piece of art". To get the cash raise they had to do another round of fund raising for players to buy their way into the alpha. Your money traded for thier 'product' so not my problem but it did raise some eyebrows at the time.

Behind the scenes it was chaos with plenty of wasted cash and mismanagement of staff. There were people who demonstrated even before joining the team that they were not cut out to be leaders or even members on an elite strike team (if you'll pardon the pun). Within 3 months they had reproven the point beyond a shadow of a doubt. These issues, as with so many video game companies where people don't want to be "meanies" (or rather they avoid hard conversations around employee performance like the plague) were only partially sorted out once the bank account forced the issue.

This is with an established developer who are familiar with their own codebase. I believe that not having the pressure of an 'evil' publisher with all of their unreasonable money and deadlines took too much pressure off of the team and they didn't hold themselves to milestones.

If a proven developer with a much smaller game (and a clear vision to pursue) can fall to these pitfalls it doesn't give me much hope for Star Citizen. The take away from Elite would be a small core scope and the team ruthlessly sticks to it (as EVERY PROJECT SHOULD BE). The actual day to day development of the project is in the 'example of how not to do it' column for me.

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