Our Lead Engineer is STILL sick. We’re kind of worried about him, and he’s been hopping between doctor appointments. The Xbox build and any additional work for UA is on hold until he’s in a better shape.
On the Kickstarter front, we officially shipped our figurines out to Arizona and they confirmed to have received it! I also just passed along all of our physical asset templates, so Fangamer should be sending us updated timelines and costs this week. Walter and Paul are out of the office assisting with pitches, so I can’t release the Making of UA digital DVD or the digital Strategy Guide yet, but I expect those should be out once they’re back and have had a chance to look it over.
There are only a couple of outstanding digital KS items that we need to fulfill, and we still need to coordinate with backers on how to fulfill those, given our current budget, timeline, and Will being out sick. Our current top priority is to work on what we can (such as me focusing on the physical KS rewards), and we’ll circle back to outstanding items once we have the bandwidth to tackle them.
More things are different than the same. Different people, different funding, different city and state, etc. There is no Kickstarter, so no stretch goals involving merchandise, or itemized tie-ins to Shroud of the Avatar.
No, I think your comment is an appropriate question. Jtr7 essentially answered for me, but just to be clear, we have no plans for a Kickstarter for System Shock 3.
The development schedule would be best handled by focusing on the game first and foremost with secure funding, and then see if the team and/or publisher has the bandwidth to handle any physical production, and if so, manage the scale appropriately.
In other words, we would only make physical goods for SS3 AFTER the main priority (the game) was finished and in a good place. Then we could focus any extra attention to the physical goods and set up an actual production schedule for it.
With UA, the KS physical goods were always on hold following the UA development schedule, which only continued to push us back as we pivoted to focus on major game updates and hotfixes over KS goods.
EDIT: to @jtr7’s question, Tim is doing fine, it’s Will Teixeira who has been dying for the last couple of weeks! :(
I’m biased because I’m an old school gamer that started in the early 80’s and was used to surrounding myself with the physical goods (box, map, etc.) while I played - the best example being the Ultima series.
That’s why I have a hard time with physical goods coming after the software release. If it is within a small amount of weeks or a month or so then fine, I’ll just wait, But waiting 6 months to a year out or, worse, finishing the game in Nov/Dec 2018 then getting the goods the following year? What’s the point, really.
I’m going to chip in here, hopefully not to Sam’s detriment …she was tasked with picking up a mess created years earlier…
The shipping of the physical goods mirrors the shipping of the software goods…fiasco heaped on delay, heaped on fiasco, to be blunt (I see this as an impartial onlooker, having no interest in them…but as someone who followed the whole dev process closely).
As to the wider point of difference between UA and SS3, and JTR’s statement of different team, resourcing, financing etc…this is true up to a point. But anyone who has been around can also see a lot of things in common, and, worryingly, a tendency to err in many of the ways that UA dev did, amazingly enough…at least in the pronouncements made and what has been shown to date.
The totemic words of Warren Spector have followed the well-worn path we saw previously…reliance on a well-loved franchise to garner interest (short on specifics, big on promises and mystery features and ‘keeping faith’), a washing-of-hands of UA, and a hitting of certain box-ticking points that would make your teeth grate, were they not so naff. I sense someone out of touch.
The updates and features so far, not to mention the canned videos that mirror UA’s earlier videos, look eerily similar, both in tone and lack of substance. Sure it’s more reigned-in and focused (how could it not be?) and we’re kept at arm’s length this time around…but is that a good thing, irrespective of KS lack-of…?. And the ‘we want to update it, but keep the qualities that made the first ones great, but change a lot of things to make it more appealing to a modern generation’ is a get-out-of-jail card in waiting. And you can translate it to mean a whole bunch of things (I take it to mean ‘game-lite’…lip-service where it counts, and all manner of patronising dumb-down as with UA)
What I’ve seen so far looks like a tribute-act, or an impression-of-an impression…in terms of scripting, scene-setting, cliche, animation and sound-scape, not to put too fine a point on it. It seems an idea of what something maybe ought to have looked like were you thinking of making a tribute…not a real thing in its own right, if you know what I mean. Competent, sure, and mildly involving, but also a bit obvious and expected…
In fact, it looks me so far to be repeating the same steps that led to disaster with UA…a ‘re-imaging-lite’ once again. This may well change (we heard last time round how this was just to get people onboard…it wasn’t) but everything I’ve seen so far suggests more of the same to me, particularly with regards to development strides. It’s hitting the same ‘tone-notes’ and points of interest, and trying to side-step the UA debacle rather than tackling it head-on (too embarrassed by the stable-mate?).
Yes, there are differences, but I also see a lot of similarities as time goes by. I am not holding my breath.
Sorry to hi-jack this with a negative comment, Sam, your patience in clearing up the stables is heroic…(though I see the patience broom snapped on Steam )
No worries, @Flug . (Also, I waited to see what the rest of your message was before responding; the cliffhanger “And” left me really curious!) Talking about the past production isn’t something to be swept under the rug, and I try to be as open about the process as I can. Sometimes it’s nicer to hear how the community has changed since 2015 rather than from the CM hired in 2017, so I appreciate you lending your perspective.
I can see what you mean in terms of the dev team being isolated from community sentiment, especially at this point. There hasn’t been much to share, and the dev team has tried to keep itself focused on the game itself since they started prototyping. I share updates when I can with the team, but Austin is keeping their work close to the chest.
@curtwjen The dev team, and for the most part, the KS backers, all seemed to align that they’d rather have a more polished game first before getting their physical copies. We wouldn’t want to put the Nov 2018 digital version on a physical copy either; it just wouldn’t make sense. It also gave me a bit more wiggle room to make sure we could squeeze as many digital goods in while I was working on the physical production of things, which got sidetracked while the updates were being worked on.
If I had more of a choice, of course I would have wanted the physical goods to align so you would get everything by launch day, alongside digital players.
Been thinking about your question over the weekend:
Having talked with some of the original LGS developers in the office, the answers vary. Work ethic is the same; I have no doubt that the veterans and even newer developers in our office are all passionate about the work and would never slack off on a product just because it’s their full-time job. Perhaps the most indicative aspect is team size. I’m not incredibly familiar with LGS history, but it sounded like there were less than 50 people at the Boston office, and at closing, had over 100 people.
Taking creative risks is only a part of the story of Underworld Ascendant’s launch. The project faced funding hurdles early in its development. We had lined up a healthy funding commitment with a partner, many-fold more than the Kickstarter funding we later raised. Unfortunately, several months following the Kickstarter our funding partner made a strategic pivot away from the sort of game we were making, resulting in the funding falling through. We had to make do with a fraction of the funding needed to complete our original vision for the game. We did our best to make forward progress with a tiny team. However, it was slow going as we wandered through a development desert for nearly 2 years.
^This state of development turmoil that Paul talks about is where I’m foggy on a lot of details. A number of key developers who helped pitch the KS or worked on UA for the prototype were no longer at OSE by the time I joined, or now. Likewise, I think there was a missed focus on tuning in with the community to talk about their design ideas, but I also understand that the team was so focused on making a good prototype that would allow them to be picked up by a publisher for funding that they couldn’t spare man hours for it. (And why I was hired in 2017!)
We released too early. I know officially that UA launched in 2018, nearly a year ago from now, but given the updates we’ve had the chance to work on, the game is in a far more stable state than it was at launch. If we had more studio funding, it would be great to continue working on it and polishing it up. Unfortunately, a game of the scope envisioned was far larger than the budget we have, on top of development instability.
(on some occasions I think you’ve been given a slightly sugered version of internal events).
What Paul says is undoubtedly true - so why the heck wasnt it divulged in spirit (even if not in fact, for publisher/PR reasons)…?
It’s also disingenuous for any dev to imply that - were it not for this funding rug-pull - that things would have been have been larger in scope and therefore fine and dandy. Given subsequent embarrassments (and plain lack of know-how/experience in some cases) it is clear that there were no innate guarantee, just because the ‘vision’ was perhaps greater. Implementation is at least half the battle. And let’s not discuss ‘testing’.
As for team-size, doesn’t compute on a relative scale - you cut your cloth (preferably without blaming fan expectations…Chris/ Warren). Dev 101. These are lazy viewpoints, watered and nurtured after the fact.
There ws also Overlord. I happen to know this did take time away from UA (because someone in the team at that time said so,privately or publically, I forget).
The early release was only very partially to blame for the fiasco… the game-design failure was baked-in much earlier, and from all sides…fragmented approach, rotating company roster, high-profile ‘quarter-back’ signings, a disheartening drivel of ‘water-cooler’ moments talk later on in placeof any real substance,and internal failures of management, comms and basic design principles (or lessons derived for the originals). And this from ‘old hands’.
The stuff about ‘we should have listened to you guys’ is also only partially true…sounds like an olive branch, but Chris?ProdMalPhunc was right about this…in actual fact, you lead from the front, and besides, this board has always been rather prone to flight-of-fancy 'I’d love to see’without much practical application of dev knowledge. Great for extended fire-side chats. Some knowkedge, but not much. So that’s a non-starter really, too.
But there’s a belated admission buried in there that the devs were reasonably confident/arrogant in their assumption that they’d ‘done this before’ so could be implicitly trusted. And yet what was coming out was amateurish in termsof working code,albeit with a devloping sense of artistic ‘look’(which then became the focus,so much so that the ‘authored look’ became the most over-used buzzword in history). But there wasn’t much actual competence in the game-play department. And the ideas being hashed out went laughably from bad to worse, ‘modern gamer’ or no…
When Chris developed the first playable level, that should have been the line - the ‘look stops here, and we make a game’. But instead of that, there were a hundred and one directions and therefore loose threads, and the thing collapsed under a Thief-Oblivion-godknowswhat set of competing cliches. Andlack of internal comms and oversight. And no-one saw it,or wanted to see it…once again,Chris said this…much less commmunicate with the poor fan that UA was pretty much over in terms of classic Underworld gameplay and plotting. So we were left with lip-service, and trust.
But trust fell apart when,for instance, I asked about the endless delays and problems witht the Vertical Slice and said ‘something’s not right,what’s realy happening?’…and twomonthslater got a reply about Overlord. We kept having to dig to find out what had gone wrong, and even then the story was being spun to keep up. Ridiculous, never mind the internalpressures all that fabrication places on the team. No wonder there was clamming-up and closing ranks in dev - what was the alternative? Tell the truth?
Much easier to channel the frustrations outwards…but also fundamentally dishonest if you’re in possession of the true facts.
This is partly why longterm ORE board members are especially unforgiving - because ample opportunity for fessing-up without recrimination was given, and instead of coming -clean,was actually used to further spin the situation and ‘buy more time.’
Error piled on error.
What’s there now in the game is more stable in the same way an abandoned town is more stable with no-one about to test/break things (and some people would even take issue with that, no doubt). Hardly a plus point, given the game’s bare bones. In fact, there is hardly a game there…more a tech demo.
It sounds to me like some of the original devs are still pretty much refusing to take onboard the scale of the failure -perhaps for reasons of sheer mental self-presaervation - so denial seems like a more reasonable path.
The fact that game has game dev has generally (amd quite naturally) evolved and changed only has a minimal bearing on the stuff above - it doesn’t nearly begin to answer the real questions, and it certainly isn’t a ‘way out.’
When Chris gets time, and legal latitude, he ought to put that no-nonsense Boston article together that he talked about, preferably before the inevitable Gama Sutra post-mortem.
Sam, no fault of yours whatsoever, but I honestly believe you don’t know the half of it.
And whether the team likes or not, this baggage carries over to SS3. Previous reputations are now albatrosses,inlight of this,not charmed bracelets. And if we need proof of that, we just have to listen to Warren-as-Moses…
At a distance from it all now, I’m still struck by the sheer air of unreality to everything, and the gentle prodding of plausible denial, as if ‘it wasnt actually all that bad,and besides…’. But yes, it was.
Even without the Steam forums, and QuarterToThree and the rest, it most definitely was.
Without a true sense of cold failure about UA,I see next to no chance for SS3 (and before someone points out different teams, funding etc that’s not what we’re really talking about).
There needs to be - at some level - the ability to tell a story imaginatively, and the competence to do it, bearing in mind the history behind it,and points of departure. And stop worrying about the ‘modern gamer’ and how unfair it all is in terms of publishing climate and player expectations. Have a hard and honest look at those elements that remain independent and ‘unscathed’. And avoid everything that led to UA.
…of course, it was not just ‘old hands’ at fault. Some relatively ‘new hands’ as well…and some with major roles…but let’s not name names. One thing in UA’s favour, if you can call it that, was that it was a truly ‘collective’ failure.
It’s still obvious, though,that some of the major names should have put themselves out front sooner,and taken more public reponsibility. That was failure all its own, and closely bound to ‘reputation’ protection. Or ‘pride before a fall’, if you prefer.
Flug, this kind of non-stop proleptic doom-and-glooming reminds me of Paul Ehrlich. He was (and still is) certain that there are too many people; that this abundance of humanity is destroying the planet because we refuse to admit the problem; that the prices of many commodities will inevitably rise as we run out of them from over-consumption; and that it is necessary for him personally to confront everyone with these hard truths at every possible opportunity. And so he confidently asserted there would be mass human starvation and death across the planet as early as the 1970s.
The economist Julian Simon, based on his review of available data, disagreed. To show his conviction that Ehrlich’s view of things was not correct, he offered a bet with Ehrlich that the inflation-adjusted price for a commodity would not increase after one year, but decrease. Ehrlich instead offered to watch the price of a basket of five commodities for ten years. Simon accepted the wager.
Here’s how that went. Summary: even though world human population increased more in those ten years than in any other decade in history, the adjusted price of the commodities Ehrlich picked declined. Ehrlich lost the bet, and wrote Simon a check for the difference in prices.
Some people have pointed out that the price of those commodities, or of a different basket of commodities, would have risen over a different window in time. But they don’t acknowledge that most of the time, with most commodities, commodity prices generally decline. The broad general decline of resource prices – as population continues to increase – supports Simon’s view of humanity as creative problem-solvers and not the fatalistic belief asserted by Ehrlich and others today that humanity can’t fix its mistakes and is therefore doomed to famine and death in the near future.
I feel like there’s a certain amount of Simon v. Ehrlich going on around here. I don’t agree with every decision OSE made, and I’ve said so. But I also think there’s evidence – if one wants to consider all the evidence – that OSE is much more truthful than deceptive, and that there’s enough distance between UA and SS3 that repeatedly warning that the latter game is likely to be infected with UA’s problems and similarly fail is not a good bet.
So: If System Shock 3 ever gets released and it’s reasonably (and I do mean reasonably) judged to be a broken, incomplete, buggy mess that clearly wasn’t designed to include most of the meaningful key elements of the original game, then I will come to this forum and declare without any reservation that you were right all along and I was wrong.
What are you willing to come here and say about OtherSide and System Shock 3 if that game is reasonably considered to be a critical success, enjoyably playable by most people, with few if any game-breaking bugs and delivering much of what was fun about the first System Shock plus some new fun?
Woah, Flatfingers bit of a stretch…one minute game, next minute global populaton crisis…
Talking of glass half-full, you’re crediting me with an achingly huge amount of doom. It’s simpler than that… it’s just learning from a botched process, and not signposting it, or hitting buzzword roadmaps again. I’m not sure about the need for an intellectual debate. Surely you see some similarities in the SS3 stuff so far?
I don’t think OE were utterly deceptive, or even deliberately deceptive for the most part…but there was a lot of pestering to get belated admissions of this or that, and a lot of that was turned on its head …‘we’re pros, trust us’ not to mention omissions, whereby we were led to believe certain features were in, or plain led up the garden path.It may not have been a coherent strategy, but it was back-handed fire-fighting and clean-up. A lot of that went on,and obviously varied according to the situation and who was doing the talking. I know it’s esy topan in hindsight,but a lot of thye stuff was panned as it was being discussed, and implemented, too.
A competent SS3 with ‘some new fun’ would be ideal. But the noises off so far sound eerily similar to past noises off. By all means move on, forgive and forget…once the lessons have been made plain. But I can think of certain devs still arguing the toss, even today. God knows why. Maybe take that point up with them, not me…?
It’s not about some doomy willed prophecy of failure. Just the common sense of what happened and what’s now in front of our noses.If that fills you with confidence, great. It gives me pause for thought?
When you take on projects like these, you have lots of baggage and expectations whether you like it or not. The way this has been accounted for by UA and SS3 (so far) sound quite similar to me, too. And with UA, that contributed to the overall failure of the game, amongst other things.
I’d settle for a competent SS3. The talk of shiny new exciting stuff makes me worry.
This one is a little more measured than most of your recent (by which I mean over the past year) posts, but look: you’re still doing it. Look at the number of times in your last post alone that you felt compelled to qualify a measured statement about OSE with a “but”: BUT they had to be pestered for “admissions” of failure; BUT they engaged in “back-handed” fixes; BUT they didn’t listen when they were told by fans they were making mistakes (a criticism I’ve leveled myself); BUT [vague assertion that OSE Austin are somehow repeating something bad that OSE Boston did]; BUT some OSE staff are still daring to defend themselves.
Why not add that “Brutus is an honorable man?”
It’s not my job to police the forum; you’re free to continue to repeat your belief that the Austin team have been infected in some way with whatever it was that led to UA not being the game we hoped it would be. And I’m free to disagree (in what I hope you’ll see as the friendly if pointed way it’s intended to be, because I think this forum is better for you being part of it), and to try to explain why I think predictions that SS3 is likely to fail are not justified, and to express my view that it is very unfair to make such predictions over and over again without hard evidence because those are real people whose competence and effort you’re impugning on the basis of “other people than those making SS3 didn’t make the game I wanted UA to be, and didn’t clearly acknowledge this soon enough.”
That, by itself, seems inarguable to me. Going way past that to “previous reputations are now albatrosses” (?) and “[w]ithout a true sense of cold failure about UA, I see next to no chance for SS3” (??) and “[SS3] looks to me to be repeating the same steps that led to disaster with UA” (???) – this consistent line of criticism (and I’m not going back any farther than the most recent few posts in this thread alone) doesn’t seem the least bit Cassandra-ish to you?
I’m not a complete newb to game development, nor am I a Pollyanna. I can easily imagine a few realistically plausible ways in which SS3 might be considered too far away from the sequel many old and new gamers may hope for: a small team size, a long delay in publisher funding, a designer belief that amping up story and mechanics (versus the original game’s focus on worldbuilding with a few key simulationist mechanics and a light story) is necessary or wise, a forced early release date before enough bug-squashing and polish have been completed – any or all of those might produce a game that doesn’t feel to enough people like a proper System Shock. Anyone who pointed out those possibilities and moved on would probably get a decent number of head-nodding responses, followed (I hope) by more constructive conversation.
Why would that be unacceptable? How is “NO, such a calm, thoughtful, one-time description of concerns is intolerable to me, I must continue to hammer the developers every time I post until my persistence forces them to admit they’re incompetent liars and that their next game will be garbage!” even remotely respectful to either the devs or the other people in this forum, at least some of whom would like to be able to talk about OSE’s games without wading through misery and antagonism in every single thread?
Like I said: if SS3 turns out to suck, I’ll come here and say with no hemming or hawing that you were right and I was wrong. That seems like the right promise to make if I honestly believe my prediction that SS3 has a reasonable (even likely) chance of being well-received critically. I’m not going to nag you to do likewise if SS3 succeeds; that’s silly and not-friendly rhetorical gimmickry.
A willingness to say “Here’s my prediction, I stand by it for the evidence-based reasons I’ve given with no further elaboration required, and I’m willing to say I was wrong if my prediction turns out to be wrong” speaks loudly enough.
I don’t personally need an assessment of how measured or not my posts are, thanks, but feel free. A bit like criticising the tone, it skews the conversation away from the real subject here, the debate around the game, dev, and implications for the future.
‘But’ is good, it allows balanced viewpoints (btw,what’s with all the literary refences? Do you want a competition?)
If it’s not your job to police the forum then don’t? I don’t mind either way,a bit of collective policing is good (and Sam does a reasonable job).
My points are much simpler than all the intellectualising would make them appear, and not much to do with wanting apology or even an accurate chronology of what went wrong (you do agree stuff went wrong?)…from a professional viewpoint (and I was involved in software dev for a fair few years in a middling/senior capacity) I’d say that a bit of hard scrutiny, and a certain amount of on-the-ball customer-listening was a given for good development. I’m not crying in a croft on a barren outcropt feeling slighted…if anything, I’m slightly puzzled why you’re nit-picking my posts…I’d say the points are obvious, and have been made before, not just by me. Perhaps you’ve heard enough…?
So how, exactly, do ytou follow up a game like UA, both in terms of its dev,and its reception? Good will, ‘positivity’ and high fives? Not from where I’m standing. The first step to moving on is a good, fully truthful account of what happened. What’s been said so far is partial, that’s all,and someof it is self-serving. That is straightforward and uncontrversial, surely? Or are you saying that here is not the place to say such things…? I’m not clear.
The idea that I’m hammering the devs (not true, and you ought to know the balance of my posts over the years) or that I didn’t get the game I wanted, are both patronisingly silly, and more in keeping with the Steam forums. There’s a lot of clear blue water between a good game, and the game we would like individually. And we can hopefully discuss things without harking back to tone or exact semantics. If the tone irks, then argue with the substance.
There is no ‘I’m right, you’re wrong’…we’re not in th playground. I’m not willing or hoping ss3 will fail either…I’m saying a see a lot of similarities in the noises being made for ss3 and for UA, and also in the material available so far, that’s all. It’s not about predictions, victories,and grand-standing. It’s about a thorough airing, really, if anything. Not analysis of tone, who ‘wins’, ‘positivity’ or anything else (perhaps some cultural differences play into this, too.).
As for ‘positive’ conversation, why? Perhaps we could be positive when the negative is given a sensible run at the facts?
Have you wondered where everyone else is (including the other long-timers?).
You’re right in one sense - no point in saying the same thing over and over.But (:) ) I do get mildly irked when I hear the same reasons rolled out for the game’s general failure, and those reasons are not to my mind wholly true…as if repetition will somehow make them true (and I cut Sam a lot of slack here because she came in one the back end).
We can probably boil all this down to what you really seem to be saying,which is ‘yeah, it stinks a bit, but what help does it to to keep banging on about it?’.To which my answer is: ‘quite a lot actually, if it’s done properly .’ We differ on that.
…btw, in case the above comes off as unnecessarily agrumentative, apologies. I’m just puzzled as to why few seem willing to talk in detail about the game’s develop-mental shortcomings, and what it means for immediate and future dev…there are things to be said, besides tone, after all…aren’t there? (‘No’ someone shouts )
People have every right to think ‘right, let’s park that, and give it another go…’. But some of us have a right to not think like that, especially when our experience tells us that that might not be what’s needed. Hey ho.
A good SS3 would at least allow us to get past UA that bit quicker. However, I can’t be alone in hoping for a better UU sequel at some stage?
Let me ask you directly - what do you think went wrong with UA…? And can you give reasons for this?
Sandro…probably easiest to characterise it as a similarity in messaging, a certain touting of ‘secret-but-will-blow-your-mind-if-we-can-make-it-work’ features (ginning up interest)… a recognition of both games place and history (and esteem in which they’re held. And trading off it…why not?) . And, in SS3’s case, a not-wanting-too-much-history-of-past games in case it doesn’t work out… a managing of expectations. But these potential wonder-features are being mentioned anyway (hostages to fortune?).Go figure.
Visually…a certain reliance in the blurb videos on set-pieces and known reference-points (hardly surprising) in the case off SS3, and similarities in animation techniques, edits, and a focus on the action side. To be fair, not a huge amount to go on with SS3 yet, but the visual look seems reasonably faithful to the originals (unlike UA, which adopted a new look afer the first playable demo).
…impossible to get much from that - you’d need to see them both.
…curious why haven’t you played UA yet? It’s as complete as it’s going to be and has been for some time.
Btw, neither me or Flatfingers have got the faintest idea what we’re talking about, surely you know that by now…