Crowfall delays features for more polish, looks at a ‘soft launch’

ArtCraft came out yesterday and admitted that it will not be able to make its projected dates on certain Crowfall features without sacrificing quality, and as such the studio announced that it will be pushing certain unspecified features into 2017 while it continues to polish the game.

After looking at the good, the bad, and the ugly of Crowfall’s current state of development, ArtCraft said that it wasn’t really a choice to make the decision to extend work on the game’s systems until they are up to par. To mollify the community, the studio announced that it is planning on a “soft launch” of Crowfall once the game is at least to the point where it’s stable and won’t require wipes any more.

“We are going to take as long as it takes, but instead of shooting for a single launch date (and delaying that day until we complete ALL planned features and content), we are aiming for a soft launch to get you in, and playing, as quickly as possible,” ArtCraft said. The studio declined to give any timetable for the rollout of this soft launch.

Source: Crowfall
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NobleNerd
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NobleNerd

Soft Launch: translation “Take advantage of hype during delay to milk it for all the $ we can get”

Veldan
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Veldan

LyalinDotCom A soft launch is like the opposite of “when it’s ready”. The latter means not releasing until the game is done. Pretty much what CU is doing. Soft launch is releasing long before it’s really ready with the hope that it will get the money flow going sooner.

TehAcidBaron
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TehAcidBaron

Well at least they are being honest, i’m a backer and okay with this. Just depends on the timetable of when the rest will come in.

RaidEn_EVE
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RaidEn_EVE

As a backer that doesn’t follow closely the situation, I’m glad they are honest about their mistakes, and that what I heard wasn’t good on comments is listed on the mistakes. I never though the launch date would be met anyway. Truth is better than being on time here.

dragonwhimsy
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dragonwhimsy

If you’re charging money or add a cash shop it’s not a soft launch. One assumes they will be doing just that or they wouldn’t feel the need to soft launch at all and would simply actually delay it.

They’re not delaying it, by the way, they’re just releasing it unpolished and as less than a full game with the hope to add the other stuff later. Of course by then those willing to play what is actually a beta without character wipes will be far ahead of anyone waiting for an actual polished and full experience.

Worse, development of those later features will change because the community’s expectations will change. Are the Eternal Kingdoms under-featured? Well now Crowfall has attracted a community that doesn’t care about the Eternal Kingdoms because they weren’t ready for launch. So now those features will likely never be implemented, at least not as envisioned now. Once the game is “live” the day-to-day concerns of people playing the game as it “launched” will override any grand ideas ArtCraft may have once had.

ArtCraft has good intentions I have no doubt, but they have no idea how their development process will change once they go live, whether you call it a soft launch or not. The game modes it “soft launches” with will become the core game and the players it attracts at that time aren’t going to care what the original vision was. 

I remember the grand plans of “Guns of Icarus”, “WarThunder”, and “MechWarrior: Online”. And I remember what happens when you “soft launch” a game before all of it’s main features are done. ESPECIALLY the main campaign system that is supposed to actually give such games meaning. That meaning never comes. The core idea that binds all the combat into something with purpose never makes it into the game. It’s just too much work to develop all that while maintaining a live game. 

TLDR: Your launch features decide the sort of player base you attract. When you “soft launch” an unfinished game you change the nature of the community you create around your game and that change will effect your development roadmap. Crowfall is now going to be a very different, and less grand game than was originally envisioned. 

Recommendation: Don’t buy into this game if you’re doing so for the Eternal Kingdoms or the more creative and persistent MMO aspects. Do buy into it if you wanted a lobby combat system with action MMO mechanics and siege.

Bonnenuit
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Bonnenuit

How do you delay a game that had no dates to begin with? Props to them for honesty, I suppose!

If they had simply… waited longer… would we have even known? :)

I say this tongue-in-cheek, and eagerly (but very patiently) awaiting release.

Bonnenuit
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Bonnenuit

amoranth Couldn’t agree more about expecting this with pretty much every release. I’m backing a half-dozen games at this point, and the only one NOT behind schedule simply isn’t far enough along yet. It will be, I’m sure.

That said, you’d think devs would pick up on that, and simply take their reasonable expectations, and add some arbitrary amount to it for no reason other than fudge factor. Make it, say, 25%.

Then, you’d still likely have most games coming out behind schedule, but less so. And some may even end up surprising you!

All you devs out there, consider this a challenge! Next time you’re estimating a content release, calculate what you should need, planning for the worst, and then tack on some extra, just ‘cuz. Thanks!  ;)

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

luxundae Craywulf  There certainly are arguments for delaying it entirely being preferable to soft launch. and vice versa ofc. There are negative player reviews/metacritics because people are playing a subset of the game.  And head starts to some players in PvP does not always end well. etc.

Samizdat
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Samizdat

Craywulf luxundae They’ve been talking about this for a long time. They aren’t building to a ship date, they’re slowly growing the game over time. Here’s a video from January where they talking about the same topic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4641Qhj_cFU&t=1m50s

Craywulf
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Craywulf

luxundae They already spoke of delaying it, yet they want to release it anyway as a ‘soft launch’. That tells me they aren’t ready, but are rushing it out the door because of cost of labor is exceeding their investment. 

I’ve played unfinished games before any they can be fun too, but my initial statement here is not about fun. This about a developer who’s rushing a delayed product. The likely culprit is money…they need money.

luxundae
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luxundae

Craywulf Would you prefer they just delay it entirely?   Or is any change in the schedule a red flag?

Just wondering about expectations vs realities of small-team crowd funded games.

In general, my big concern with a soft launch is that a group of hardcore players will get in early despite the game not being entirely fun at that point, and then will have a sizeable amount of power amassed by the time the game matures and is fun enough for the rest of us to hop in.  At which point it may *not* be fun for the rest of us, because of the power imbalance between those who started early and those who waited for the full release.

amoranth
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amoranth

As with all Kickstarter projects, I expect delays in every case, because it almost always happens regardless of the project’s scope or pedigree. This is not a shock in any way to me because of all the Kickstarters/early access games I’ve thrown money at in the past and watched develop. I wish it wasn’t so of course, but I’d rather have a good game than a rushed game. That said I’d prefer a hard launch, but they are already letting lots of people that buy the game in early at various points in development, so a soft launch doesn’t feel too foreign.

Craywulf
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Craywulf

A developer admitting a ‘soft launch’ is major red flag for me.

Samizdat
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Samizdat

Siphaed No engine removes the need to iterate and refine how the game plays with testers. They saved a ton of time using a well-tested and widely used off-the-shelf engine, but they’re taking extra time because they want to improve the combat mechanics.

Nordavind
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Nordavind

Samizdat Nordavind Leilonii Why yes, I could go live in a cave.

Siphaed
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Siphaed

I hate to be “that guy” (okay, not really), but didn’t they strictly go with a contracted 3rd party engine and other tools to bypass much development time and avoid costly time delays?  Am I missing something or are they spending way too much time in a room with paper cut outs of ideas rather than actual development?

Samizdat
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Samizdat

Nordavind Leilonii You are making a choice to read those articles, watch those videos, and so on.

LyalinDotCom
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LyalinDotCom

I am a backer and 100% fine with them launching the game when its ready, as long as they have a plan and business model to support them to grow this into something great. I have not done a single alpha test so far, i rather wait for a more finished product and dont mind at all. Backing any MMO on kick starter is a long-term investment, if thats not how you view it (2+ years at least), then you’re using your money in a stupid way

Radfist
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Radfist

Eh I think its the right call, making sure the base game and combat is perfect before worrying about the extra features.  If the combat is crap, people will move on straight away.  If the base combat is good then that buys them some time to get the other features happening.
Also props to them for calling it early, rather than waiting til the last minute to say ‘Oh nah, we need more time’.

Akami
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Akami

Will this soft launch include a sub and or cash shop?  Will the soft launch be for backers only?  these are the questions people should be asking.  Normally soft launches are done because a studio is hurting for money, and they need to release some type of product to start a stream of incoming finance.

I’m not saying this is the case for crowfall, but just what past trends regarding soft launches have indicated.

Radfist
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Radfist

Armsbend Mikey Moo Nah its because they promised to launch by a certain date, its now clear that the game wont be able to have all the features promised by that time so they are calling it a soft launch.  They probably would have gotten more backlash if they decided to wait until it was 100% feature complete to launch due to the timeframe promises on Kickstarter.

Radfist
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Radfist

A Dad Supreme I backed it and I have no concerns that they wont get the game finished to a state I am happy with.  The current tests are lots of fun and the classes are really interesting.  No need for chicken little here, I am sure the soft launch will be perfectly enjoyable.

A Dad Supreme
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A Dad Supreme

Samizdat A Dad Supreme
I figured the person here/there would be okay. I thinking for most backers, but no way to poll that really.

deekay_zero
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deekay_zero

SallyBowls1 thraay deekay_zero and that’s bad behaviour that shouldn’t get a pass just because it’s games. and that should be held to account by consumers and courts and regulatory bodies and kickstarter inc themselves.

there was a case of a kickstarter of a lazer based electric razer. they overpromised and their prototype was questionable and it got yanked even tho it was way over funded before it got yanked.

idk why that doesn’t happen with video games for the same reasons.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

thraay deekay_zero  Alas, I don’t think your last paragraph applies to 99+% of KS games.  IMO, if they were to accurately convey what they could deliver, they would not get funded. They can only exist if they dramatically overpromise what they can deliver.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

IMO there are two distinct things here: delay and soft launch.  
Delay is sad but more an expectation rather than surprise with software. 
Soft Launch – well they know their product better than I, but I prefer to have a hard line for launch.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

Glad I lost interest in this one early on.
All I see is ‘Give us more money. We want more money. Money Money Money. *pops fireworks*’

Lights_andMusic
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Lights_andMusic

I hope this game does well, and I’ll probably buy it on release, but this is a classic reason why I don’t pay for games before they are finished.

deekay_zero
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deekay_zero

Samizdat deekay_zero thraay there’s a degree of caveat emptor for consumers, but consumer protection laws exist for good reason, and it’s long past time that video game companies were held to those laws.
video game companies would rather fight those laws in court than conform to them tho. but it’s a GOOD thing that consumers and consumer protection groups are catchign on and taking these companies to court.
because the behaviour of the video game industry is of a nature that led to those laws being made in the first place. and that’s a very very bad thing.

Nordavind
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Nordavind

Leilonii Nordavind But that is one of the thing I’m missing. I know that this is a brand new world, I know that devs gain more by being open about all you do dusing developen, getting more exposure (I LOVE transparent devs in live games), but I’m missing that “i am opening my gift” feeling from new games. At this age, when many games launches, we’ve read hundred of articles, seen hours of dev videos, and maybe even played/tested the game for months.
Thus, as a compromise, I’d like a mystery period between final beta test and the hard launch.

Samizdat
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Samizdat

A Dad Supreme I backed it and I’m fine. The Siege Perilous testing is a lot of fun already.

Samizdat
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Samizdat

deekay_zero Samizdat thraay  I don’t have much of a problem finding exciting new projects, and I only back the ones I’m confident and interested in. I don’t see anyone really talking about those clone games because everyone recognizes them as not being worth the investment. Meanwhile I see new cool games popping up all over the place in the different channels I use for game discovery. To me, it sounds like an end-user problem. Either way, I’d rather have a development landscape where 100 clone games and 1 solid original game can manifest, than in one where neither are possible. Democratizing game development has been nothing but a good thing from where I sit.

Armsbend
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Armsbend

Mikey Moo they are attempting to raise more money.  It has obviously slowed down.

deekay_zero
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deekay_zero

Samizdat deekay_zero thraay vast majority of early access games have far larger issues than “Minor bugs or graphical artifacts”
there’s also a distinct lack of originality to most of them as well, like the over a thousand early access minecraft clones among them our much denigrated landmark. 
and increasingly early access fodder includes stuff as low effort as throwing a bunch of assets into unity from tehstore and selling it without minimal development put into it.
which the overhwelming pile up of low effort early access games is a major point of criticism by both consumers and indie small guy developers alike because it’s getting impossible to find the legitimately novel and worthwhile games that are buried under piles of objectively speaking trash.

A Dad Supreme
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A Dad Supreme

Sucks for backers who expected a full game upon launch, not so much for people who will wait until 2017 for the full game.

Samizdat
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Samizdat

deekay_zero Samizdat thraay Personally I don’t mind at all. I’d rather have more choices than fewer, which is what Kickstarter/Early Access enables. I don’t care as much about polish as long as the core game loops are fun. Minor bugs or graphical artifacts don’t faze me. I find the games released by the major publishers that prioritize polish to be bland and soulless. Give me the buggy unfinished but original/creative Kickstarter project any day.

deekay_zero
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deekay_zero

Samizdat deekay_zero thraay not saying it does for this specific game either – as of yet. 
but noting the relevance of that stuff to the general topic of video game kickstarters. 
video games and related things get passes with kickstarter in general tho. like the prototype requirement is far more relaxed for video game kickstarters for example.

Samizdat
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Samizdat

deekay_zero Samizdat thraay I don’t doubt that, but so far there’s zero indication that this game falls under that category.

deekay_zero
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deekay_zero

Samizdat deekay_zero thraay there have been several kickstarter funded products that have shipped but not as advertised or not on time that have been litigated over.

Samizdat
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Samizdat

deekay_zero Samizdat thraay Maybe if they don’t ship at all, but that seems rather unlikely at this point. If someone wants to sue a company like this because feature-X was cut or delayed to post-launch, I wish them the best.

deekay_zero
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deekay_zero

Samizdat deekay_zero thraay and with non gaming products on kickstarter et al, when things have changed and not delivered as initially advertised there has been successful lawsuits despite those “may change in the future” disclosures becuase of the nature of the presales aspect.

Samizdat
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Samizdat

deekay_zero Samizdat thraay As an example, all of their archetype power articles begin with something like the following: “As with the previous archetypes, the standard caveats apply: We are still building this archetype, so things are liable to change. In fact, they are almost guaranteed to change!”

There’s only so many times one can say “we’re in early development” and “things are likely to change” before it becomes the responsibility of the buyer to decide whether they want to take that risk. I think they’re doing their due diligence, and the rest is just the unpredictable nature of the game industry. Caveat emptor, and only spend disposable income on Kickstarter.

deekay_zero
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deekay_zero

Samizdat deekay_zero thraay they can do all that without preselling product in the process.

Leilonii
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Leilonii

Nordavind ACE doesn’t really “go dark”. They’re always communicating about the entire process and being very clear about how and what they’re doing, what they’re thinking, etc. There’s no mystery which is nice.

Mikey Moo
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Mikey Moo

I would rather they just not launch at all until the game is ready. I hate soft launches.

Samizdat
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Samizdat

deekay_zero Samizdat thraay I would rather have transparency than not. Having Kickstarter/Early Access developers expose the process of development is informative and interesting. I’m also experienced enough to recognize that unforeseen complications happen and delays/cuts are inevitable. If someone finds the process objectionable, there’s no compulsion to contribute money or pay attention to the updates.

deekay_zero
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deekay_zero

Samizdat thraay deekay_zero that’s true, but that all happens long before any product sales or heavy marketting. 

it’s somewhat normal for features that are later cut or changed to be talked about and marketted out loud in public. but it’s still long before any money has been taken from customers.

and this change of paradigm is a major complaint about early access as well, so why does kickstarter get a pass?

Samizdat
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Samizdat

thraay deekay_zero Most games with any sort of budget and team size will start with a large feature set during pre-production and then trim features during production. It’s how the relationship between creative and engineering works. The difference is that in a AAA studio you never hear about what didn’t make it in the game, whereas with a Kickstarter/Early Access title there’s much more transparency.

deekay_zero
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deekay_zero

thraay deekay_zero i agree. and there have been older examples where controversy was raised by engaging in this behaviour – for example our beloved swg shipped without several things like jedi and mounts that were on the box and talked up to magazines for months prior to launch.

and back then we criticized that even if we were keen to play the game and liked what was there.

but noiw we defend it for some reason and give it a pass and weasel words and so on.

Estranged
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Estranged

/sarcasm
I’m so surprised!
/sarcasmoff

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