The gaming world has its share of absurdities, and when you are active in its communities you can’t help but come across some complete travesties which make you cringe. For those of you who don’t know who Zoe Quinn is, just go here and observe how far down the rabbit hole of ridiculousness goes in this industry. (That’s the last you’ll hear from me about her, I swear. My opinion merits no need to contribute to what is effectively high school drama.)
So, in an attempt at what some may or may not call “journalism,” I will delve into trying to de-crypt this unsettlingly vague crowd-sourcing venture known as Transverse.
Ok, so what about this game isn't like EVE?
Coming from having played a lot of EVE Online (not anymore, but that’s for another day), and as a contributor to Star Citizen, I have a lot of issues with this guy saying he’s come up with a revolutionary idea of putting people in a persistent universe to control the real estate and economy. I mean, this is the age of games like DayZ and Minecraft selling copies faster than their developers can spend the money. There are also plenty of other big space games already garnering big support from the game community at large. So really, I would rather he had said, “Hey, we want to make a new space game in the atmosphere of already highly anticipated titles like Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous and Starpoint Gemini 2 because we’re late to the party.”
I’m probably coming across as petty at this point, but how can you expect to compete with such a generic looking reveal? I mean, it’s not as if we’re talking about a complete unknown 17 year old in his basement, we’re talking about the developers of MechWarrior Online and Duke Nukem Forever. Of course, it’s not as if there hasn’t already been controversy surrounding MechWarrior Online, either, but we’ll get into that in a moment.
Let’s start with the website:
Star Citizen homepage.
Star Citizen "Pledge" packages.
Transverse "Pledge" packages.
After doing a little browsing, I’m already starting to feel like Transverse is little more than a blatant knock off of Star Citizen in too many ways just from the website design. However, Transverse’s “backers” grid doesn’t update from any meta source. Someone is manually updating these figures. This makes me feel like they may be less than honest about how much support is coming in. Granted, with numbers that low, I can’t imagine why they would be lying. It’s still very fishy.
Yeah I said fishy in regards to Piranha Games. Get over it.
Ok, so let’s set this aside and assume that there’s nothing at all suspect about their crowd funding scheme. I am an interested party after all, and a big fan of space sims and space games in general. I played EVE for several years, I have over 500 hours in X3: Terran Confict, I’ve funded Star Citzen, backed Starpoint Gemini 2 and am warming up to the idea of getting in on the Elite: Dangerous early release. It’s not hard to sell me on a cool, new space game.
Yet, Transverse has managed to turn me off very quickly.
For that, we’ll review the stretch goals:
Congratulations... You've lost me.
So, let me get this straight… You want 500k to make the game, but it’s going to take twice that to make space ships that fly? In a space game? And twice that again to let you shoot with them? Meanwhile, the flight and combat engine is the first thing Star Citizen is working on and completing before building the rest of the game around it. What in the glorious name of all the fucks to be given are these guys thinking? How is flight and combat not an already assumed feature? If it wasn’t, then I’m having a hard time wondering what they were originally planning, and if it was — then asking for 4x your original goal for already planned features cannot be described as anything but extortion. This is not in the spirit of crowd sourcing and exactly how it can be abused. Of course, I’m not the only one asking these questions and that’s where things start to get fun.
Long story short, it resulted in Piranha Games employees being shadow-banned from Reddit.
Maybe disgruntled players should be a sign..?
So what happened? Basically, they created a /r/Transverse subreddit and over-moderated. As per Reddit rules, it’s not intended for self-promotion. If you empty your sub of all dissent, you just look like a giant asshole and that’s grounds for banning. The funny thing is that ALL of PGI was banned, resulting in their already oft-criticized MechWarrior Online subreddit being left unmanned. You’ll also notice that all of their Youtube videos have pathetically high dislike to like ratios, and commenting has been disabled. And that’s AFTER they already took down and re-upped the videos because they were getting flamed down in the comments.
So you have a suspicious looking website, an empty Reddit, a lot questions from a legitimately concerned audience, and the PR department couldn’t be doing a worse job if they were choosing racial slurs out of a hat at random while blind-folded, to put up on Twitter.
This just screams, "we're not scared of reprisal!"
In the end, the most alarming part is how completely amateur this whole attempt comes across. How can a developer with its named tied to such prestigious franchises perform so impotently? How can they so blatantly rip off Star Citizen and other titles while asking supporters to pay for basic features? How can they so enthusiastically abuse the concept of crowd-funding?
Unfortunately, it isn’t the first time an indie venture has crashed and burned publicly before it even had time to start the engines, and it won’t be the last. It’s a shame, because while you will hear me herald the coming of community-based funding for projects, it can certainly be exploited and made to look very shady by a select few. Expect to hear more from me about the peaks and pitfalls of crowd-sourced games.
Until then… /gameon
I'm not saying you suck... but you suck.