July 8 2019 Weekly Update (PS4/Xbox One Hotfix, KS Update)


#1

Morning everyone! This one’s a bit long, but I think it’s worth a conversation.

I started to write this response to jtr7 in a different thread, but I think it’s worthy of its own thread.

All of the company’s decisions regarding updates and hotfixes has been to “improve the game; no steps back.” I think the biggest oversight occurred when we launched Update 3 and discovered that due to a lack of resources to QA across multiple systems, we were blindsided by bugs and crashes that pushed us back. We underestimated the coverage we needed, and we were determined to right this for Update 4.

Since Update 3 and our work on console, there were multiple external teams assisting us with QA, porting, and engineering work, which is now unavailable. We’re currently piecing together all of this work internally to make sure we didn’t miss some changes, but the pipeline normally placed the PC version slightly ahead of PS4 and Xbox, including PC’s live hotfix. We squeezed in as much as we could for the PS4 and Xbox deadlines, and any small updates that we managed to slide in for Update 4 on PC at the last minute may not have made it into those builds.

In that respect, I understand the marketing around PS4 and Xbox One was misleading to say that it contained the full Update 4 experience. That is my fault; I should have verified with the team after receiving the copy.

I would like to thank everyone who has continued to submit PS4 / Xbox One / PC bugs for UA.

We are still working on a PS4 and Xbox One hotfix that will update the games to include all of the PC Update 4 content, including the recent hotfix we pushed. We’ll be testing a PS4 hotfix candidate this week, in fact. I’m also logging any immediate issues related to PC in case we can squeeze in another hotfix. I’ll need to check in with Mac and Linux again, since I believe we were ready to start testing either this week or the next, based on the update we received last week. Mac and Linux playtesters will receive an email if this is the case.

Lastly, I know we’ve been pretty quiet across all socials, but I’ve mentioned resources a couple of times. The budget for UA is nearing its end, which will also mean the work on this project. Funding for the studio and our other two projects is now a big priority.

On the Kickstarter front, I’m personally handling and making the last of the digital assets that are necessary for the physical swag. I’m working on cutting the footage for the Making of DVD right now, and then I just need to format the Game Manual (it’s fully written, just needs the flourishes and formatting properly for a booklet).

Boxes and swag can’t go out until we have those digitally, since Fangamer will need to print. I’m also crossing my fingers that I’ll be able to finish the DVD and Game Manual by the time the Mac and Linux ports are available, since those versions will be printed on the physical discs, depending on what you selected for your reward. ALL the other physical goods are done / waiting to be printed. (I made the console trailer for UA, the Art Portfolio, formatted most of the Tracy Hickman novel with some community assistance, and co-wrote most of the Game Manual while the team has been working on updates, for those of you curious.)

Anyways. Bit of a long post, but I just want to be honest and give a little more insight to how the studio has been handling UA work. I appreciate all of you who I’ve come to know over the last two years since I was hired (!) and those of you who are new and just getting to know me.


#2

Will there be fixes for Mac if it actually makes it to a released version? Considering the blocking bug has been related to launching the game, there has been virtually no QA to your port.


#3

Thanks! Yeah, like I said, it doesn’t make sense that the company would be destroying things, so something else is happening, and more likely at the end users’ side.


#4

Sam, brave post…personally, I’m baffled by some of the working practices that appear to have taken place with the game pipelines (just the approach in general, especially the QA side…).

While it’s an honest post, it doesn’t seem to flatter OE’s dev practices. I bet you’ll be glad to move on from UA.


#5

Confirmed with the team, we’re willing to support a hotfix for Mac and Linux if any game-breaking crashes or bugs appear once released. No red flags have surfaced in our testing, but Mac and Linux playtesters should have a shot at the builds this week, which will mean we have a wider range of hardware to reference from.


#6

Double-posting, oops! But I feel like it’s a separate response.

I think a lot of mistakes were made in early development when things were less organized, and those carried over through the rest of production, particularly due to a lack of stability. Things have definitely improved since launch with our new producer and focused Update priorities, but I think a lot of us are eager to take what we learned and apply it to new projects. (Especially the people who have been working on this game for nearly 4 years straight now… what a journey.)

Having been on the ground for the last two years, despite how hard it’s been sometimes, I actually love this team. I love the people I get to work with, loved the people I had the chance to work with, and if I’m allowed to, it would be nice to be able to stay on the forums in an unofficial capacity. If I found a job elsewhere, I’d be pretty sad to leave. Heck, we’re only three scenarios away from finishing Deck 4 in our weekly Pathfinder!


#7

I’ve been lurking around since the book came out but I’m encouraged with the update. the Swag is on the way!

Thanks Sluangkhot


#8

I would like to ask, considering that the project is near its end. Are there potential plans for another update aside from the hotfixes, or do you feel that this is the most complete version of the game? Just curious, keep up the good and thank you for your time.


#9

This will be the most complete version of the game, hotfixes aside. If you want a complete experience, I would wait just a bit longer for all the hotfixes to come in. PS4 has some pretty annoying issues that we’re nearly finished tackling, Mac and Linux should be available soon, and we have a fix for minor things like the map function not working on PC.


#10

Thank you very much, I am very interested in your team’s development and especially the potential they have to create great and interesting experiences for player experimentation. I appreciate the communication and I hope for the best of Other side to move forward with their projects. I am excited to try the game out for myself soon, keep up the good work.


#11

Thanks for the post, but it’s not very flattering for Otherside regarding the Linux/macOS ports. Despite paying the same as Windows backers we’ll be lucky to not have a seriously flawed port. Windows users get four bites at the cherry, Linux/macOS backers get one and a bit.


#12

On the flips-side, who excels at providing for you? I’m not a gamer or Linux or Mac user, and all the projects I have any interest in have Mac and Linux users asking for their slice of pie, so it occurs to me to ask what small indie company, let alone big corporation, never needs to be asked?

I also only ever got the impression that one chooses Linux to avoid mainstream traps and trappings, so why expect full inclusion? I’m obviously an outsider, so forgive me that much.


#13

I don’t really see what that has to do with Otherside’s support for their KickStarter. The decision lies with the company, if they decide not to support macOS/Linux then it’s accepted as such. However, having made the decision to develop then we have no reason to expect inadequate support.


#14

True. But as someone who has Mac, Linux and Windows, I don’t think we’ve any reason to expect disproportionate support for our Mac or Linux platforms, either.

Of Steam gamers, about 2.75% use OSX, 0.76% use Linux, and those are likely both overrepresented because it is in their interest to be seen as a more significant proportion, and because if we have Steam installed on all our OSs, as I do, all our OSs are counted equally even though Windows is likely our main “gaming” OS. So game purchases on minoirity platforms are likely a far lower percentage than that. (https://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey/Steam-Hardware-Software-Survey-Welcome-to-Steam?platform=combined, click the line for “OS Version” in the table to expand it)

But let’s pretend the numbers for UA are an unrealistically high 4% (1 in 25 buyers), mostly because it makes my math easier. If 96% of buyers paid for the Windows version, and 4% of buyers paid for other versions… then each year of development time allocated to Windows should, proportionately speaking, get us two weeks of OSX development. Giving us even one extra day of development would be a disservice to the 96% of buyers with no interest in that port.

And we might argue “It’s Unity! Most of the development is platform-independent!” But that counts against us. Because if only a tenth of the development is platform-dependent, then only five weeks of the year were spent on Windows-specific stuff like the installer and such, which means only a day should be spent on getting it to work on Mac.

OSE’s solution, farming it out to a third party, felt to me like a proportionate response, and possibly the only valid one other than throwing in the towel and giving up on other platforms.

TL;DR: Those of us with platforms that get the least interest and investment from players, will get the least interest and investment from developers, and we damn well should.


#15

No, don’t agree.

If Otherside offer to support the platform, then it’s their responsibility to support that platform to the same extent as other platforms. If they are unable to do so for economic reasons then they shouldn’t offer the support in the first place.


#16

Why do you believe it must be the same or nothing? That seems a strangely absolutist approach, and if followed by all developers, would mean we’d get almost no ports from anyone, since the only projects who might do that are those projects whose developers have a large enough personal bias towards the minority platform that they are willing to screw the majority to pander to their preferred minority. There’s simply no economic case for any project to give minority platforms the same developer time.

Put it another way:
In your game, 96,000 of your users are using Windows. 4,000 are using OSX. You are the manager of some developers, and have 1,000 hours of developer time to allocate. Your goal is to maximize user satisfaction, which is currently very low.
Given this setup, where do you allocate your developer time?

[This actually sounds like the basis for an interesting sim game…]


#17

What percentage of the development is platform exclusive? As a Windows user why would you expect your version to come out first anyway, you paid the same money?

I’ve learnt the obvious lesson, don’t back crowd funding, just pay for macOS games when they come out. Support those like the developers of Transport Fever who seem to think it’s possible to release simultaneously:


#18

I do agree with you that if you want a game where a minority platform is treated as a first-class citizen, then you’ll definitely want to stick with games where that minority platform is the main platform. But if everyone only supports minority-first games, it discourages developers from targeting your platform even proportionally. I’d strongly encourage you to also support those developers who at least make some effort to port, even if it’s only proportionate to user interest.

I think it’ll be interesting to see how that’ll affect the answers. Let’s try two different scenarios.

So let’s say we have two companies, both with managers who need to allocate 1,000 developer hours.

Company A has 100% platform-exclusive code. Porting to another platform requires a complete rewrite. I’ve done this, converting Furcadia from C/C++ to Haxe (though it was never released outside of beta), but generally this is an unrealistic scenario unless working with legacy code from the 90s.

Company B has 10% platform-exclusive code. This is maybe a little high for a Unity project, but at least makes the math easy.

Using an economics paradigm, I’d allocate as:

  • Company A (100% platform dependent): Win 960 hours, Mac 40 hours.
  • Company B (10% platform dependent): Core 900 hours, Win 96 hours, Mac 4 hours.

[Realistically, I’d likely make it 8 hours (1 working day) for the mac. More realistically, I’d allocate it “2 storypoints”, but be aware that it’s likely to be one of those things that balloons to have more than its fair share of developer time, and is going to need painful cuts once time crunch comes. Even more realistically, if all we have is 1k man-hours to make a good game, I’m likely rejecting the project, so feel free to assume there are other managers with other teams working on it too, or to replace “hour” with “day” or “week” as you prefer: the important thing is how you allocate the proportions within your managerial team.]

How would you allocate the time?


#19

I’d allocate my time to making or maybe perfecting a universal game engine.


#20

Surely that depends on the platform and whether the original code is written with cross platform capability in mind.