Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans

A Steam community announcement has word from Double Fine on plans to release version 1.0 of Spacebase DF-9 next month, which will conclude the early access stage for this sci-fi strategy game (thanks Joao). They thank their early access customers for the support, but some of those customers are expressing dissatisfaction with how the finished game will not match up with the promises the developer originally made. They support this case by way of a cached version of Double Fine's development roadmap to show how drastically it differs from their current roadmap. Double Fine has enjoyed a positive relationship with the community, and even that is playing into this, as users are pointing to a another cache of a post by Double Fine that they've since deleted from this thread on their forums where the developer staked their reputation on following through on the early access game, saying: "Double Fine is not a random fly-by-night indie dev and we are not going to silently pull the plug on Spacebase or any other in-development project. Doing so would be disastrous for our reputation and it would kill us emotionally ;____;" A new update they posted yesterday paints a different picture of their commitment to the game:
Spacebase had a strong launch in October of last year and while sales remained steady for a while afterwards, earlier this year it became clear that we would have to work towards wrapping up development. As project lead I can honestly tell you that we’ve done everything we could to keep making the game the best it can be. We pulled out all the stops we could for Alpha 6 and we’re proud of the depth it has added to the game. I believe the Goals and Tutorial Mode we’re adding for 1.0 are also a large missing piece that will lend the game greater unity and direction. We were careful not to make promises about anything on the old dev plan page, even as we hoped we’d someday get to implement all of it and more. Again this came down to time and resources, factors beyond my control.
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53.
 
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans
Sep 22, 2014, 13:13
53.
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans Sep 22, 2014, 13:13
Sep 22, 2014, 13:13
 
Prez wrote on Sep 21, 2014, 22:28:
Flatline wrote on Sep 21, 2014, 21:00:
Normally I'd agree with you but this is a "professional" game studio. You know, one that theoretically has experience with game budgets and shit. By banking on their pedigree, they're saying the're less of a risk, or could achieve more with less, than a more "amateur" effort.


There seemed to be less inherent risk in this project, so I don't fault anyone for getting in on the Early Access, but as they say in investing "past performance is NOT a guarantee of future results" - even the pros screw the pooch every so often as it seems they did here. Honestly I came very close to getting in on the early access for this because of the premise (reminded me of Startopia) and who was making it. I'm glad I waited.

Yeah, in the end I think that the "past results do not guarantee future results" thing is the lesson to learn here. Still, these guys do advertise on their pedigree, so it's not totally unreasonable to expect them to live up to their pedigree.

Although in DF's case, any pedigree they can lay claim to seems to have had a publisher riding whip over them to keep them on task. Their two indie projects show a corporate culture of over-ambition, under funding, and a communication gap.

In other words, they're shitty bosses, and hate on the publishers all you want, but it seems like some dev teams like DF *need* an overlord to provide some kind of management.
52.
 
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans
Sep 22, 2014, 08:04
52.
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans Sep 22, 2014, 08:04
Sep 22, 2014, 08:04
 
Prez wrote on Sep 21, 2014, 04:58:
Do you? Where does it say on Steam that Early Access games have to be finished? No really, i want to know

No. How would they define "finished"? DayZ still isn't finished but it has sold a ton. I think in both kickstarter and Early Access the only obligation to "finish" the project is an ethical one. Double Fine "finished" Space Base DF-9 by labeling the last release 1.0. The community by and large disagrees that it is finished, but there isn't anything they can do except not back DF in the future.

Actually in most 'early access' cases that's not entirely true. A Kickstarter or rather more generally speaking a crowd funded game is one where the backers should understand the risk that the game might never be completed. An 'early access' game on the other hand doesnt necessarily mean it was crowd funded. Most developers do 'early access' for a variety of reasons, not all of them financial, also most developers do have contracts and financing all worked out with their publishers, and they still do early access. (Mostly for testing purposes, although the extra cash I guess is nice) Two examples of two recent games that did this: IL2:BOS and Starpoint Gemini 2.
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51.
 
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans
Sep 21, 2014, 22:28
Prez
 
51.
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans Sep 21, 2014, 22:28
Sep 21, 2014, 22:28
 Prez
 
Flatline wrote on Sep 21, 2014, 21:00:
Normally I'd agree with you but this is a "professional" game studio. You know, one that theoretically has experience with game budgets and shit. By banking on their pedigree, they're saying the're less of a risk, or could achieve more with less, than a more "amateur" effort.


There seemed to be less inherent risk in this project, so I don't fault anyone for getting in on the Early Access, but as they say in investing "past performance is NOT a guarantee of future results" - even the pros screw the pooch every so often as it seems they did here. Honestly I came very close to getting in on the early access for this because of the premise (reminded me of Startopia) and who was making it. I'm glad I waited.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
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50.
 
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans
Sep 21, 2014, 21:00
50.
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans Sep 21, 2014, 21:00
Sep 21, 2014, 21:00
 
Prez wrote on Sep 20, 2014, 22:29:
This is how kickstarter works - contributors are taking a risk, a calculated gamble that the dev will succeed in making the game they pitched in their design doc. The risk is that the game doesn't live up to its vision. Backers need to understand this, and that their only recourse is to be wiser about who they throw their money at in the future. So many people seem to not get this.

EDIT: This is not to say backers don't have a reason to be angry. On the contrary, according to the comparison of what was promnised and what was delivered, it seems they have every right to be pissed. This will end up costing Double Fine a lot more than the contributors in the long run. Their rep is going to take a huge hit over this.

Normally I'd agree with you but this is a "professional" game studio. You know, one that theoretically has experience with game budgets and shit. By banking on their pedigree, they're saying the're less of a risk, or could achieve more with less, than a more "amateur" effort.

As for broken age, I could give them the benefit of the doubt... if this wasn't their follow up. This is the second game where they said "oh fuck it we ran out of money here's what you get and if you're lucky we'll fix this later." Instead of looking like a fluke where kickstarted expectations inflated the scope of the game too far too fast (again a designer issue but whatever), it's now in retrospect looking more like a "we can't manage our money" thing, because we are seeing a trend here now.
49.
 
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans
Sep 21, 2014, 12:00
49.
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans Sep 21, 2014, 12:00
Sep 21, 2014, 12:00
 
I think one of the issues we're seeing in the evolution of crowd funding over the last few years is change from "risk mitigation" to "risk shift". I think crowd funding works best when you have the following scenario.

"My Brother and I built widget-X, Widget-X works right now as of today, here is a video showing how it works, and you'll get this thing if you fund the project. Our problem is that it costs us $20 to make these by hand and we can only sell them for $15, so if you preorder/crowd fund/KS this,then we can afford to build it"

That is basically risk mitigation. It's true they could run to Bora-Bora with the cash, but realistically they're eliminating their risk while the consumer is taking on very little risk.

The inherent problem with software development is that there is no functioning widget X at the beginning, so really now you're moving into a "risk shift" scenario, with the question just being how much risk is shifted.
What I think you're seeing with DF-9 or that Dino-Survival game or Block game (sorry cant remember the names) is a scenario where the developer has shifted nearly all of the risk to the consumer. To the point where if they don't get enough early access subscribers, they don't have enough funds to "finish" the game. The pros of this model are that there are a few games being made that wouldn't have been made otherwise because developers wouldn't have taken that risk on themselves (Wasteland 2, Torment, Eternity et.) but we're certainly seeing the negatives too right now, where developers can basically pull the plug at any point in a way that they never could before.

Overall I think it's an inherently flawed model, because its a very rare game (Minecraft, Kerbal Space Program) that continues to grow through development. There is typically an initial spike on release, maybe another with good press, but the idea that early-access can support continual development is a really risky assumption. How do you expect to make money off of something when it's being Steam saled and humble bundled at huge discount BEFORE release?

I've never had a KS fail to deliver, or an early access game be totally broken, but after a string of semi-disappointments (Sedition Wars, Myth, DF-9 and possibly Space Engineers) I'm really cutting back on my crowd funding/early access.

This comment was edited on Sep 21, 2014, 12:06.
48.
 
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans
Sep 21, 2014, 11:06
48.
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans Sep 21, 2014, 11:06
Sep 21, 2014, 11:06
 
EricFate wrote on Sep 21, 2014, 10:41:
I bought 'thing' because I wanted it to be X. Instead it turned out to be Y. Why hasn't [insert company name here] lived up to my unrealistic expectations! Time to spew outrage on the internet!!!

Seriously. Why does anybody buy anything on early access with the expectation that their personal vision will be catered to and fully realized?

Forget their personal vision, how about the one that the developer laid out several times? It has nothing to do with unrealistic expectations. It's fine to say that people shouldn't have so much faith in early access products and to wait for a finished game but this is not a case of people just being unrealistic, the developer said they were going to deliver one thing and totally missed the mark. Instead of making good on it they are just throwing in the towel, not making any attempt to further fund it and not at least giving the public the code to do something with.

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47.
 
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans
Sep 21, 2014, 10:45
Sho
47.
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans Sep 21, 2014, 10:45
Sep 21, 2014, 10:45
Sho
 
EricFate wrote on Sep 21, 2014, 10:41:
Instead, the airwaves will be dominated by whomever is loudest and has the least amount of impulse control

Which your post is an excellent example of, since the discussion has already advanced beyond the points you make. I'm willing to bet you didn't read it before this shiny bauble of an opportunity to part with your 2 cents got the better of you.

(Man, almost 20 years on the internet and complete lack of context-awareness in discussion entries still manages to piss me off.)
46.
 
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans
Sep 21, 2014, 10:41
46.
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans Sep 21, 2014, 10:41
Sep 21, 2014, 10:41
 
I bought 'thing' because I wanted it to be X. Instead it turned out to be Y. Why hasn't [insert company name here] lived up to my unrealistic expectations! Time to spew outrage on the internet!!!

Seriously. Why does anybody buy anything on early access with the expectation that their personal vision will be catered to and fully realized? All of the marketing, all of the development roadmaps, all the hype -- all meaningless. There were people all over youtube who were playing this at various stages during the development, and those videos gave a very clear demonstration that this was a product that I wouldn't find fun or interesting -- despite the fact that the project goal described something that sounded interesting and fun.

If the people fanning the flames of outrage had spent even a fraction of their energy on critical thought or self control, this would be a non-issue. Instead, the airwaves will be dominated by whomever is loudest and has the least amount of impulse control, until such point as the next shiny thing makes them part with their money, sight unseen.
45.
 
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans
Sep 21, 2014, 10:22
45.
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans Sep 21, 2014, 10:22
Sep 21, 2014, 10:22
 
If they are doing any damage, it's very minimal.

99% of people won't remember shit 11 minutes from now and will simply buy the game/any game if it looks good. They don't care who makes it, what history they have, etc.

The other .09% will buy his games even if they don't like the company but the game looks good, gets good reviews, and is actually a good game.

So he's alienated .01% of the gaming base, who cares?


Admin it, as long as they continue to release good games in the future, you guys are still going to eat that shit up.


The only winners here are the people who have decided (like myself long ago) to NEVER buy an early access game again and thus send a message to developers to finish your shit before we'll spend money on it, or we simply won't spend that money.
44.
 
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans
Sep 21, 2014, 09:50
Sho
44.
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans Sep 21, 2014, 09:50
Sep 21, 2014, 09:50
Sho
 
Whiskers wrote on Sep 21, 2014, 08:37:
I really don't feel bad for anyone who buys into early access / kickstarter and then complains it's not what they wanted.You're putting in money in the hopes that something will pay off later. You're not buying a game, you're making an investment in an idea for a game. It's not a 100% guarantee. If you can't handle that, just wait for game to be "finished"

Again though, the problems here are:

a) Doubts about why they failed, because they had fairly decent funding (prototype via AF + 400k via Indie Fund + Early Access sales). I'd like more transparency on this. It's reasonable for anyone who invested to have questions now, and make future investments depend on the answers.

b) A lousy communication style has damaged the investment unnecessarily. They are planning a source release, but are sabotaging a potential community-organized rescue plan in advance by souring folks, by not even acknowledging that the situation changed and sharing their thoughts about it freely.

I'm tired of the "Don't do Early Access if you can't handle it" grandstanding. I get it, you are wise and have big balls. Meanwhile I can handle it just fine, but that doesn't mean details aren't worth discussing or thinking critically about.
43.
 
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans
Sep 21, 2014, 08:37
43.
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans Sep 21, 2014, 08:37
Sep 21, 2014, 08:37
 
Prez wrote on Sep 21, 2014, 04:58:
Double Fine "finished" Space Base DF-9 by labeling the last release 1.0. The community by and large disagrees that it is finished, but there isn't anything they can do except not back DF in the future.

This is exactly where early access / kickstarter will always run into trouble. Even before all this early buy in mumbo jumbo, you'd read previews that talk about all these cool planned features that don't end up making it into the final product. It happens.

I really don't feel bad for anyone who buys into early access / kickstarter and then complains it's not what they wanted.You're putting in money in the hopes that something will pay off later. You're not buying a game, you're making an investment in an idea for a game. It's not a 100% guarantee. If you can't handle that, just wait for game to be "finished"
42.
 
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans
Sep 21, 2014, 07:02
42.
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans Sep 21, 2014, 07:02
Sep 21, 2014, 07:02
 
Jensen wrote on Sep 21, 2014, 05:35:
They have little capital, but high operating costs.
I can understand the financial situation. I can understand, that communicating a difficult financial situation is something your common developer does not want to do. But either the dev knows how to communicate something like this or he hires someone who can do it better. Shoddy communication hurts you in the long run.
41.
 
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans
Sep 21, 2014, 05:35
41.
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans Sep 21, 2014, 05:35
Sep 21, 2014, 05:35
 
Prez wrote on Sep 21, 2014, 04:58:
Jensen wrote on Sep 21, 2014, 02:54:
With early access, if no one buys, you have no money, but still have the obligation to finish the game.

Do you? Where does it say on Steam that Early Access games have to be finished? No really, i want to know

No. How would they define "finished"? DayZ still isn't finished but it has sold a ton. I think in both kickstarter and Early Access the only obligation to "finish" the project is an ethical one. Double Fine "finished" Space Base DF-9 by labeling the last release 1.0. The community by and large disagrees that it is finished, but there isn't anything they can do except not back DF in the future.
Yeah, I was talking about an ethical obligation. I just don't think early access is a good fit for DF. They have little capital, but high operating costs.
40.
 
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans
Sep 21, 2014, 04:58
Prez
 
40.
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans Sep 21, 2014, 04:58
Sep 21, 2014, 04:58
 Prez
 
Do you? Where does it say on Steam that Early Access games have to be finished? No really, i want to know

No. How would they define "finished"? DayZ still isn't finished but it has sold a ton. I think in both kickstarter and Early Access the only obligation to "finish" the project is an ethical one. Double Fine "finished" Space Base DF-9 by labeling the last release 1.0. The community by and large disagrees that it is finished, but there isn't anything they can do except not back DF in the future.

This comment was edited on Sep 21, 2014, 07:51.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
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39.
 
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans
Sep 21, 2014, 04:35
39.
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans Sep 21, 2014, 04:35
Sep 21, 2014, 04:35
 
Jensen wrote on Sep 21, 2014, 02:54:
With early access, if no one buys, you have no money, but still have the obligation to finish the game.
Do you? Where does it say on Steam that Early Access games have to be finished? No really, i want to know

I've defended DF for Broken Age, but their handling of SB DF-9 seems much more deserving of criticism (I haven't tried it though, except for the Amnesia Fortnight prototype, so I can't really judge)
The game has much potential. But yeah, it's not about the game. It's about the effin inabillity of DF to communicate properly. The spliiting of Broken Age was no surprise for people, who followed the video series closely, but was very poorly communicated to everyone else. And now that ... they havent learned a thing.
38.
 
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans
Sep 21, 2014, 02:54
38.
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans Sep 21, 2014, 02:54
Sep 21, 2014, 02:54
 
Prez wrote on Sep 20, 2014, 22:37:
Did you read the thread? This game was never on Kickstarter.

Woops. Actually I did in fact read everything; I just made the mistake of mixing up Early Access and Kickstarter. But honestly, if you transplant the words "early access" for "kickstarter", I still think everything I said applies. You are guaranteed NOTHING by buying into an Early Access project, just as in Kickstarter. The biggest difference is that Early Access provides backers with something to actually play instead of just a dream which is all that Kickstarter provides until release.
The biggest difference with kickstarter is that the developer can set a minimum target. With early access, if no one buys, you have no money, but still have the obligation to finish the game.

I've defended DF for Broken Age, but their handling of SB DF-9 seems much more deserving of criticism (I haven't tried it though, except for the Amnesia Fortnight prototype, so I can't really judge)

37.
 
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans
Sep 21, 2014, 02:07
37.
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans Sep 21, 2014, 02:07
Sep 21, 2014, 02:07
 
Xil wrote on Sep 21, 2014, 01:35:
in their "Double Fine Action Bulletin- Issue 4" which they send out last few hours they just posted this:

Spacebase 1.0 Coming Next Month

Speaking of games hitting 1.0, Spacebase DF-9 is coming up on its 1.0 build next month! The new build is going to contain over a month’s work of bug fixing and polish, as well as a few nice new features that will help round out the full game experience. Namely, an objectives system that will help guide you towards some high level goals while building out your base and a nice new tutorial to help ease new players into things.

To those who haven’t been paying much attention during Early Access, there’s a whole lot of awesome new content that’s gone in over the past year. To catch you up on things, we put together a slick new image to show off all the great work that’s gone into the game that can be viewed on the game’s blog right over here.

Spacebase DF-9 is available now through spacebasedf9.com and the Steam store!

...... ?

What's the confusion? That's what this article is about.
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36.
 
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans
Sep 21, 2014, 01:35
Xil
 
36.
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans Sep 21, 2014, 01:35
Sep 21, 2014, 01:35
 Xil
 
in their "Double Fine Action Bulletin- Issue 4" which they send out last few hours they just posted this:

Spacebase 1.0 Coming Next Month

Speaking of games hitting 1.0, Spacebase DF-9 is coming up on its 1.0 build next month! The new build is going to contain over a month’s work of bug fixing and polish, as well as a few nice new features that will help round out the full game experience. Namely, an objectives system that will help guide you towards some high level goals while building out your base and a nice new tutorial to help ease new players into things.

To those who haven’t been paying much attention during Early Access, there’s a whole lot of awesome new content that’s gone in over the past year. To catch you up on things, we put together a slick new image to show off all the great work that’s gone into the game that can be viewed on the game’s blog right over here.

Spacebase DF-9 is available now through spacebasedf9.com and the Steam store!

...... ?
Avatar 12935
35.
 
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans
Sep 20, 2014, 23:29
35.
Re: Double Fine Taking Heat for Spacebase DF-9 Release Plans Sep 20, 2014, 23:29
Sep 20, 2014, 23:29
 
Cutter wrote on Sep 20, 2014, 17:32:
Project management is easy if you're organized and know what you're doing. And most developers don't. How hard is it to compartmentalize a project?

Base Project = X number of employees + X number of days + X number of dollars.

Stretch goals = See above. Stretch goals commence and are completed after base project is finished and good.

Of course you have to actually have a defined goal to work toward, otherwise you're just screwing around wasting time and money. Quit screwing around! You kids screw around too much!

Where is your game development studio? I'm sorry, but some types of projects are easy to do project development, and other types are hard. Most engineering oriented projects are hard. The schedule at work scares me, and I'm just glad I'm not the guy who spends at least 20 hours a week organizing all of that stuff after every sprint to see if where we really are is where we meant to be. (And the other 30-40 hours calling people and pushing people to make sure everyone is going in the right direction throughout the week!) And at least at my job we are completely business focused and there is no artistic junk messing things up. We stay relatively on schedule - but stuff slips, goals change, people get sick at the absolutely worst time, and bugs make it through QA and hit customers. If it was so easy, there would be way less blunders and missed dates in the industry.

All of that said... DF is being pretty shitty for throwing SB under the bus like this. The LEAST they can do is release the source - but I think most of us expect a lot better. How complete/good the project is... that's kinda not the issue. I mean, no matter how much money/time/effort is thrown at a project is not what defines if it turns out to be a GOOD game.

This is the first systems oriented game the studio has made, and those are harder than they seem. If the foundations are not strong, throwing more time and effort at it wont necessarily turn it around. But the attitude... Doublefine has run into this time and time again - they come across as double-faced the way they always try to sugar coat everything. Going back to splitting up broken age. Every time they mess up, they act like it's the best thing ever.
34.
 
Re: Into the Black
Sep 20, 2014, 23:27
nin
 
34.
Re: Into the Black Sep 20, 2014, 23:27
Sep 20, 2014, 23:27
 nin
 
NegaDeath wrote on Sep 20, 2014, 23:15:
nin wrote on Sep 20, 2014, 21:26:
Pretty much that, exactly. I have to seriously wonder if they understand the extent of the damage they're doing.

I can lend evidence to that. I had some interest in this game but was waiting for it to be finished. I had heard the name Double Fine before but knew little about them (didn't even know they were making this). Now all I know about them is they don't finish the shit that they sell and I don't want anything to do with them. Good job guys.

I'd certainly think twice about giving them any future KS money.

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