Thursday, 28 July 2016

When Game Devs Are Dicks #WeHappyFew

Greetings friends,

Today I have something I want to get off my chest, so please excuse me if this comes across as a bit of a moan/rant post.

I guess I need a bit of catharsis.

So roughly a year ago I took part in a Kickstarter campaign by Compulsion Games for the game We Happy Few:

There were a number of things about this game that I really liked the look of, and so put in my pledge for $30 CAD which as you can see below offered the finished game on PC in June 2016z

There was another pledge that interested me as it would give me access to the Pre-Alpha test, but at double the price I really couldn't justify buying into a pre-alpha

- Remember, by this point First Law: Override was in beta and we were (and still are) giving the ruleset away for free, because getting the game in as good a state as possible before going live is more important.

Well, once the campaign ended, the videos started rolling in from Let's Players, complete with the weekly updates which read more like patch notes. In essence they left me with the feeling that the game Devs were saying:
Look at the awesome game which YOU aren't playing
but of course, by then any choice of buying into the pre-alpha had been missed out on, so for a year I was left being emailed weekly, having videos of others playing a game which I had already given money to, but was unable to join in on the fun.

Then it gets announced that in July this year (now) the game is hitting Steam Early Access.

And I am not happy.

As you can see here from a recent tweet, the game is due to remain in Early Access for another 6-12 months. Which means the finished game will not be received by backers until 7-13 months after the projected date.

Now I know that this is Kickstarter and delays are common, but there is also such a thing as common decency and respect for the consumer.

At no point during the KS campaign did Compulsion Games acknowledge that there even was/is a delay. Instead we were asked to celebrate going into Early Access in July, suggesting that there is only a 1 month delay on the game.

Sorry Compulsion, but that's bullshit. Early Access on Steam is not release. It's another option to buy into beta.

But it looks like I am not the only person who is pissed off by this:

Here we see an @evil_avatar pointing out to Compulsion that they are unhappy with the state of the game. To which Compulsion games replied "Nobody is forcing you to participate in Early Access".

Wow... I mean wow! Did I really just read a reply from a game dev account that was so smothered in passive aggressiveness it nearly drowned? Who are these guys? Seriously!?

This was continued by someone (@_er0th) asking if the person even knew what Early Access was. Their reply they received was Reply-RT'd by Compulsion.

So here we have a reply saying that going into Early Access is nothing about getting extra money, because the $334,753 CAD is all gone, but instead about getting feedback on ambitious gameplay.

To which I called bullshit!

And was told that I was basically wrong or a lier.

For which I pointed out that there the ones who were mistaken or lying.

To date I have yet to recurve a reply from Compulsion games. And I don't expect a reply.


Here we are seeing a game development team who in the past year have allowed themselves to surround themselves in an echo chamber, where the feedback they have received has been largely positive, and any negative feedback has been pretty much ignored on the grounds that it's the 'wrong type' of feedback.

Maybe what we are seeing here is a problem with the Kickstarter model. When you are looking at a 12+ month gap between handing over money and receiving product, it's very easy to become disenfranchised with a product or company. And here with a company who has lavished praise on the select few who've been playing for a year, and pretty much just rubbing it in the face of those who have not, I'm not surprised that I've lost faith in the company and don't really care about the game anymore.

Sure I'll give it a play at some point, I paid for it after all (in a non-refundable way, unlike those on Early Access who can get their money back) but I honestly don't care if it's good or not anymore.

For me, this is very much an issue with offering rewards like beta access to select pledge levels. By default it creates in and out groups, the haves vs the have nots. Instead a much better method in my view is to provide alpha/beta access to everyone.

They say that a reputation takes a lifetime to build but only moments to destroy. Providing access to all, and showing that all feedback is acknowledged builds that reputation, but releasing games with issues that were missed (which with more eyes who were willing to test it but unable to) is a sure way to destroy that rep.
- Need I remind you, it wasn't that long ago that people were PAID to be game testers, and yet here is a company asking for people to PAY for the privilege?

I swear, the whole world's gone insane.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Monday, 25 July 2016

A Vaulted Explanation

Greetings friends,

It's been a while since my last post. If you are curious, blame the awful hot weather.

I wanted today to do two things;
1). Tell you all about something that I did that I a very happy about.

What is this?

Well it's upload First Law: Override up to WargameVault.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, WargameVault is a wonderful resource site. They offer rule sets, game aids, paper dolls, and paper craft terrain - Basically if it's wargame related and printable, it's on WargameVault!

2). The next thing I wanted to do was explain why I did this compared to the present local hosting on

Well there are a couple of reasons for this.

The first is flexibility. One thing that I want with Override is to make sure the flexibility remains paramount. Until we are ready for hardcopy publishing, and I'm not going to lie - that is quite some time away, I want to keep this as available to people as possible.

So flexibility and availability.

There are a couple of things that needs to be present for this:
Free! The game while it is in open beta needs to be free.
Available to download. For that we need minimal downtime. While the domain is paid for, the actual hosting itself is free from Wordpress. Therefore it is low on the priority list for remaining up and active.

Hosting on WargameVault answers both of these requirements, with an added bonus.

WargameVault doesn't actually offer 'free to purchase' products. Instead they have 'pay what you want' with a recommended price.

If you check out our page (here's the link again in case you missed it) you will see that you can 'buy' this product for free, but it also allows you to pay money if you want, and I would be pretty stupid to not accept money if someone really wanted to hand it over.

Yes, another major issue with getting the game out there is people knowing when there are updates to the rule sets. As it stands, it is likely possible that someone might hear about the game, go to the .com, download the rules, give them a read and never look again.

Whenever I update the downloadable ruleset, I want people to know about these updates. We are changing the rules in ways which may not appear very impactful at the moment, a tweak here or there, but these minor changes are being tallied up and will be put out in a singular update. When this hits, I want people to know about it. As it stands that's not so easy.

With WargameVault they can receive updates on products they have purchased, so assuming they are opted in for such updates, they will see that an uodated version of the rules is available. When combined with social media, this is looking promising.

What is more, there is an option to send an email to everyone who has purchased a copy of the game! Yet another method of contact available!

Oh and lastly, printed editions! That's right, everything on WargameVault, you can pay an amount to get printed copies! Which means people will be able to do the same (should they wish) with Override!

I hold this is of interest to you, and so until next time, stay safe and be excellent to each other!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Thursday, 7 July 2016

The Black Sheep: A First Law: Override Short Story - Part 2

It wasn't long after his visit to the facility nurse that Bradley's shift was called to an end. After a quick change of clothes into his usual faded grey tshirt and mudded denim jeans, Bradley quickly left the facility and made his way across the open lobby, past the acrylic planted palm trees, and through the towering automatic doors, out into the dust filled air of Anchorage Falls. Ahead the city scape glowed with a neon touch. It was only six in the evening, and by all intents and purposes it should have been daylight, however a thick industrial smog clung above the city, leaving it's inhabitants sprawling in an almost day-time twilight.

As was normal, the street lamps were on full power. It seemed to Bradley that these lights were always on, after all, the city itself never slept, there was always a factory somewhere which required a continuous use of staffing, which in turn meant that the streets were never empty of one stream or another of travelling commuters requiring their own safety-standard level of illumination. Bradley stopped outside the Foundation's doors and fumbled with his jean pockets before pulling out a small, all-white, plasti-card box. Flipping back the magnetised lid Bradley popped out a small three inch cigarette, placed it between his lips and with his spare hand withdrew a lighter and sparked the end.

For a moment Bradley stood there, the lit end of the cigarette producing a faint smoke that wafted towards the still open doors to the Foundation factory. The doors closed suddenly, a bright red warning appearing on the glass panelling, informing Bradley that smoking was prohibited inside all Foundation buildings, and would be subject to an undisclosed fine. Bradley sucked hard on the cigarette causing it to burn quickly towards the purifying filter at it's end. In recent decades the design of these and similar drug-based dispensers had been drastically modified, certain political bodies were always trying to eradicate the production and consumption of such items, but no matter what happened, products such as nicotine based cigarettes, and other drug crazes such as the O-Cloud, an inhaler based device that forced a shot of modified Oxygen straight into your lungs, giving the user an instant, if not short lived high, was always profitable, and what was profitable was always popular.

Bradley himself didn't care much for cigarettes, but they were the cheapest alternative available to him, and one of his co-workers had once offered him one. After taking it he found that his other co-workers were much more agreeable to him, as if the mere presence of such a drug based tool proved to them that Bradley was not in fact a pariah, but someone who was just like them. It was because of this reason alone that Bradley had continued to spend what little disposable income he received on his chosen brand of cigarette. It was not the nicotine that he craved, but the feeling of acceptance that he felt from his co-workers.

Located in front of the Foundation's building front entrance was the employee parking lot. A barren stretch of immaculately maintained tarmac and concrete which at the current time was largely unused. Dotted at eight foot intervals sprouted from the solid black a single street lamp, each lamp cast from it a small ring of light which appeared to illuminated the dust that spiralled through the city more than anything else. After roughly fifteen minutes of brisk walking, Bradley had found himself in front of his housing block, number 91. The Foundation owned hundreds of these blocks located across the city. Bradley had always considered himself lucky that his was so close and conveniently located to his factory of work. The block itself looked like little more than a towering multi-storey dark grey concrete cube. Each cube consisted of eight by eight apartments, however it was only the top floor set of apartments which housed windows, and these Bradley knew, were reserved for the higher management of the Foundation.

Bradley's apartment was based on the third floor of the housing block, of course there was no lift other than the one purposefully designed to go between the ground floor and the eighth, so Bradley often wondered weather the ground floor apartments were more expensive than the higher ones as a result. On his floor Bradley stepped lightly past his neighbouring doors. He knew them all well, Mrs Firtrum who owned the sky blue door painted to look like a clear sky, the Rogtum family who's door was reinforced plasteel, even Mr Koreg, the Kratel who lived in 304, now covered in bright yellow and black police tape following his unfortunate death just two nights before. Bradley's door however was the standard issue dark grey. For a reason he couldn't fully understand, there had never seemed like a good enough reason to paint it, or replace it with a better model. After all, Bradley only ever saw his door when he was entering and exiting his apartment, it seemed almost redundant to spend time and money on something that was frankly a finishing return in regards to pleasure and happiness.

The inside of Bradley's apartment was no less basic. All of the original utensils and decorations were still in place, including the empty photo frames which housed holo-displays which read "Your Photo Here" and "15 prints! C6.99 only!" Bradley had thought once about decorating, but he felt content with the apartment was it was, the only people he thought would be interested in him decorating would be guests, and those were people that never visited him.

It was a strange sensation returning home every day for Bradley. He would look around his apartment, see the supplied furniture that was barely used, take stock of his cupboard space filled with rations for one, and then dismiss any notion he had of loneliness. He had heard others including the Foundation nurse talking about it to him, but it was not something he could truly express. Bradley knew that he longed for social interaction, to be around others, to help them and support them, but he did not feel what others described as lonely.

With a purposeful stride, Bradley approached his Mantic-Suite, a purposeful built desk and chair that he would recline in every evening and allow the digital world, filled with others, some much like him, but with many more almost as alien to him as he is to a Hydan or Kratel, to surround and envelope him. This suite was one of the few pleasures that Bradley indulged in, it's surface a glossy black with red trim. Normally these suites are built out of a variety of reinforced vacuum formed plastic, but this was not like the ones you could pick up from your local deck shop, no Bradley's suite was gifted to him by an old friend of his, one of the Foundation's Mechanical Designers. Sculpted out of solid wood, a commodity rarely used on Honos, it alone was worth more than his entire apartment, possibly the entire block of apartments. A few months after being gifted the suite, Bradley's designer friend had passed away from what Bradley had always been told was a form of aggressive cancer. Bradley never believed that story, he had known his friend better than most, and he was very much attuned to the health of those close to him, he would have known if his friend was unwell.

Bradley pushed the thoughts of his friend from his mind, they only served to depress him, and that was not an emotion he wished to feel at that point. Bradley reached for his suite's jack, a long cable which resulted in what looked like a multi-part phono-cable. He held the cable tight in his hand before closing his eyes, reaching behind his left ear and slid the cable gently into his neural interface. The cable inserted with a complete lack of friction, it glided into the small socket with as much resistance as a baby's thumb entering it's mouth, and for a brief moment Bradley felt nothing, no connection between him and his suite, as if he was as disconnected from Mantic Space as he was from his coworkers that he tried so hard to understand.

Reaching across the suite's smooth surface, Bradley fumbled with it's holo-commands before sliding his right index finger across an illuminated symbol, a circle with a line protruding from it's base, the universal symbol for Jacking In. In an instant Bradley felt a rush of excitement and pleasure, complete with an underpinning of fear, almost terror, as his mind began to merge with the Mantic Suite, and with it Mantic Space itself. He felt the chair he perched in give way, almost disintegrate into the very background of his own existence. In that moment, Bradley didn't know if his chair, his suite, even his own apartment, still existed. He was light itself, pouring through the veins and arteries of the Outer Fringe, he saw Honos from orbit, it's dark blue colouring reminding him of clouds before a rain storm. Ahead he saw Virtos, the moon that orbited Honos, on it's surface he observed small mechanical shapes as they busied the self collecting materials and minerals to build something that he couldn't even begin to comprehend. Moving further Bradley saw Krata Prime, he could feel it's populace, the rhythmic beat of it's people, and the firey temper that scorched what little hope for peace they retained. Further afield a he could make out the crystal spires of the Bastion and it's Hydan people within. All of this Bradley was a part of, he could feel it within his being and he joined with it all before pushing further, past the presence of the physical and it's limited Mantic interpretation, past the interfaces and heads up displays and deeper into actual Mantic Space itself. For the briefest of moments, Bradley felt like he was home.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley