Something, Something Game News – Uber Fail: How Transverse flopped and why Human Resources will, too

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I may very well eat my words for writing this article, and I may do something humiliating as a result to please the masses. If I’m wrong, I’ll just be another loud-mouth on the internet with an opinion. If I’m right, I might just know what the fuck I’m talking about after all.

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It's time to put my "journalistic integrity" to the test.

I recently wrote a review for Planetary Annihilation which expressed my concerns about it’s rushed release, and Uber Entertainment’s apparent disconnect with the gaming community. Since writing the review, they have announced that they will be finally bringing an “offline mode” for those of us who don’t understand why it needs to be online during single-player campaigns (and there are a lot of us). That’s a good sign, right? You’d think so, but with their new kickstarter campaign, Human Resources showing no signs of offline play even in single-player modes, it’s becoming clear that they didn’t get the message.

Before we get into Uber’s clear missteps, let’s start with what lead to the failure of Transverse. In my original article, I outlined just how amateurish their attempts to gain support appeared. As I continued to follow the rapid decline of interest in the title, it became clear to me that it was far worse than a botched attempt: It was a blatant abuse of the entire concept of crowd-funding. Uber’s issue is merely history repeating itself.

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I still can't get over how they asked so much for basic features.

PGI’s first self-funded project was Mechwarrior Online. It was a resounding success. How could it not be? it’s an old and prestigious franchise with a huge fan base. For many, the idea of a Mechwarrior MMO was a dream come true. Supporters flocked just to get a taste. However, since the release of MWO, it’s been plagued with problems stemming mostly from a failure to deliver timely updates, and a failure to communicate with the community. The fact that two separate subreddits exist for the same game, both initially created by developers, have been left unmanned due to conflicts with both the community and reddit on the part of PGI, should be a massive red flag. Nevermind the fact that all of their YouTube videos have comments disabled. When you are constantly on the defensive and find yourself frequently deleting the dissent of paying customers, you have to know you’re doing something wrong… right?

If you believe it's your own players responsible, perhaps you should be asking yourself why your player base is out to get you.

Not according to PGI. The same company who straight up lied about owning the rights to Wing Commander. EA even called them out, and their response was simply “we don’t have to prove anything.” Why, as an independent developer and publisher do you think you have even the basic resources to stand up to EA, or even be anything like them? That’s not balls, that’s stupidity. EA could buy PGI tomorrow, and PGI would thank them for it with a wet, lengthy blowjob.

proveitplz

 

Translated from this page. 
*Ekman's response was actually on the Transverse forum, but not anymore. :(

Amid the dissent from MWO, they decided to put resources into a new property looking suspiciously like Chris Roberts’ Star Citizen (he was the original creator of Wing Commander, fyi), while not calling it Wing Commander, but claiming they have the rights to the property. It’s already doomed to fail at this point, but that’s not the worst part.

The worst part is how developers are now looking at crowd-sourcing as a means for a risk-free development fund. If PGI had put their heart and soul into making Mechwarrior Online the massive success that it should be, there would be no reason to ask the community to fund their next project. Not only does this show your own lack of faith in your products, but it doesn’t prove to the industry that you can commit to any title. Crowd-sourcing isn’t a means to expand, it’s a means to get off the ground. A property like Mechwarrior should be raining money from the sky. If it’s not enough to fund your next project, then why should the consumer have any faith at all? Especially when your former customers are actively committed to witnessing your failure.

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*slow clap*

This brings me back to Uber Entertainment. A company that charged $90 for alpha access to a game which, upon release is $30 (is also on sale frequently for 50% off), and still feels unfinished. A company which has already relocated resources from the previous title to the new one. Plus, Uber has already been accused of intentionally abandoning previous games. The game was called Super Monday Night Combat and has a huge back-story to go with it. I could go into it, but this guy managed to shred apart Uber on their own forums with his rather detailed documentation of its failure due to lack of communication. The best part is that his criticism was recent and yet another notch on the list as to why Uber’s new Kickstarter is a bad idea.

It’s not to say I don’t like the sound of Human Resources, either. The early videos are impressive, and I like the concept. But I also felt exactly the same way about Planetary Annihilation. I’m not impressed with how that game was released, and even less impressed that Uber is already dedicating resources to a new project without giving the last one the proper attention it deserves. If it were a year from now, and Planetary Annihilation was the resounding success they claim it is on the Human Resources Kickstarter page, then I would have gladly given it another look.

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I'm not sure if you know what "lauded" actually means...

The reality is that Planetary Annihilation is a mixed bag. The top 10 “most helpful” reviews on Steam all have the same theme: unfinished. Metacritic gives it a 61. Even Super Monday Night Combat wasn’t as critically acclaimed as they suggest, and it was torn apart in the user section of Metacritic with similar claims of abandonment. Uber Ent. has obviously pissed off enough people to create some demons, and they are only stacking up. Still, here they come with a new title that seems to promise that Uber is trying to build a micro-transaction store around all of their games. Which, by the way, is the real reason why they want their games to be always online — In case you feel the sudden need to spend money while playing the game.

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Who's taking bets on PlayFab getting a Kickstarter if HR fails?

Here we go… Another tiny, yet inconceivably arrogant indie dev trying to be the next EA. The same EA who is constantly put down for their lack of communication skills and greedy DLC schemes. They’re not raising $1.4m to fund a project using the same engine as the last one, they’re raising it to build yet another store full of garbage. Why would any indie dev aspire to that kind of model? Just because it makes money for now? Such thick-headed, narrow-sighted thinking is why EA and Activision have become the bloated carcasses of industrialized game development that they are.

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Micro-transactions are officially worse than transaction fees.

At this point some of you might be saying, “but how are you so sure Human Resources will fail? It’s already gained a lot more momentum than Transverse ever did.” That’s true, and like I said at the beginning: I could be wrong and HR might actually take off, making me look like a dumb-ass. However, the trends I’m seeing just don’t point to success. I’ve been watching the page on Kicktraq, which gives a pretty good idea of their day-to-day return and there’s been a sharp drop-off already. Aside from that, I honestly don’t believe Uber can hide the demons of PA and SMNC. When the biggest complaint of their two biggest titles is “unfinished,” I can’t imagine being given too many more chances to deliver. If PA is the success they think it is, it should easily fund the next project. If it isn’t, they should spend the time making PA what the fan base was expecting, rather than moving on to a new title and suggesting that the next project will trickle down more resources to the old one.

Devs need to stop trying to make Kickstarter part of their business plan, and start making products that make money on their own merit. You can begin by actually listening to what the gamers want. If paying customers are telling you your last product is unfinished, don’t tell them your solution is to make a new one.

/gameon

gofundyourself

Far more relevant to this post, so there.

Something, Something Game News – A recap: Dead space games and and even deader orcs

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I’ve been a little lax this week on getting the blog up, but I’ve been pretty busy working on a game for which its Kickstarter will be launching soon. The past 10 days have also seen several game releases that I’ve been trying my best to review. I’ll likely have a review up tomorrow, and I’ll work on a few more posts over the next few days so I can be back to my regular blogging schedule next week.

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Don't forget to help fund my "start-up company" so I can retire early. Sitting on my ass, here I come!

Nevertheless, I couldn’t let this week go by without a few honorable (and dishonorable) mentions:

Along with recording some voice-overs and composing a few background tracks, I’ve also been playing the shit out of WB’s new release: Shadow of Mordor. I have a full review in the works, but at this point I can tell you that it’s the most fun you can have decapitating the villainous Uruks of Middle-Earth since… well there aren’t really any other games that let you do it with such fervent variety. This title could have been called “1000 Ways to Kill Orcs.”

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It's ok, he wasn't using that head anyway.

However, the big highlight (for me) came with Transverse already giving up on their shifty crowd-funding campaign. As I had noted in a previous rant, Transverse came on the heels of other big, crowd-sourced space titles, did so without a drop of originality, and handled it with the grace of a wild boar figure skating while being fucked in the ass by a mute donkey. How’s that for imagery?

After a little more than two weeks, Piranha Games had only managed to fund about $12,000 of their intended $500,000 initial goal. Meanwhile, Star Citizen was just recognized by Guinness as the most crowd-funded thing ever. Time to go back to the drawing board, PGI.

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Of course, PGI emptied their forums in a predictably fascist move. No hilarious meltdowns to read. :(

Otherwise, I hope you guys are all having a good week and I’ll be posting regularly again by Monday!

/gameon

gofundyourself

Because South Park.

Something, Something Game News – Transverse: WTF is going on here?

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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:starcithome

Star Citizen homepage.

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Transverse homepage.

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Star Citizen "Pledge" packages.

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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.

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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: stretchgoals

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.

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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

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I'm not saying you suck... but you suck.