Crowfall devs on why they don’t make their soft launch production checklist public

Happy October: It’s time for another Crowfall Q&A. ArtCraft’s Thomas Blair and Mark Halash and sit down to answer questions from high-end Crowfall backers. Of note, they cover multiple skill trays, exploration trees, bow content, particle effects, double-dipping skill trees, tome caps, win conditions in testing vs. final, and harvesting tools. Respecs are still on the table (it’s a post-launch feature), and vessel-swapping is hoped to make it into the 5.4 test. The duo further address the extreme lag from the last test, admitting that new stuff being tested is still being optimized, hence the slowdowns.

They also answer a provocative question about a checklist and production schedule for the soft launch. “There’s definitely a schedule,” Blair says. “Do we share it? No! Because we don’t want our feet held to the fire for everything little thing that we have to rearrange.

“For us it’s kind of a living document. Some things have to slip around, like, ‘Hey, this thing that we planned to do two milestones out just became super easy, or we had to do it anyway to get to the thing we wanted to do.’ And that happens all the time. So we get pretty transparent after we do a thing and when it’s at a very high level, but we’re not going to give you ‘here’s our schedule; hold us to these things.'”

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25 Comments on "Crowfall devs on why they don’t make their soft launch production checklist public"

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Bullwraith

I think it is worth pointing out that it has been only 2-1/2 years since the game funded on Kickstarter. I’d call their rate of progress quite speedy compared to some other kickstarted mmo’s.

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Ket Viliano

Probably better to just cut some buggy features, and get the game done.

“Show, don’t tell.”

Don’t tell the audience what you are going to do, show them what you have done.

Disclaimer:
Anyone paying attention will notice that the sentences about showing, are written in a telling voice.
:P

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Dystopiq

Because gamers are a whiny bunch so it’s better to stay quiet.

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Timber Toes

Another crappy PvP game that’s doomed to fail. Imagine how much of the MMO industry they could have taken with this game being advertised as consensual PvP (or PVE servers). One of these days devs will wake up and smell the money.

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Arktouros

Simply put, you’re wrong.

Most of the MMOs left in development are all kickstarter titles that were backed by players before the game was even launched and a good chunk of them are PvP centric. Most of the major MMO launches that were PvE centric have largely failed to live up to investment expectations (IE: They invested thinking they were going to get WOW) which is why we’ve seen MMOs largely stop being developed by major studios anymore in the West.

So going for PvE isn’t a guarantee of success anymore. This isn’t 1997 and your only choice is the glorious murder fest that was Ultima Online. There’s dozens of PvE focused games already and trying to lure Captain Fashionista Guild Master of [FAB]ulous from Fashion Wars 2 is going to be a tough sell when they’re pretty invested into that game. PvPers on the other hand are still looking for their World of Warcraft and no game has really been able to do it yet (mostly because PvP games are made by second rate, hack companies that do really shitty jobs).

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Bryan Correll

Translation – “We’ve seen how you people react when developers miss stated deadlines and we don’t want to deal with that crap.”

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Arktouros

But…it’ll be different this time…we swear…

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

they are already well past failing to meet stated deadlines. backers are already giving them crap. backers want to know what the current state of progress on meeting the goal state is. they don’t want to give backers that information. so they will probably continue to be given crap by backers.

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Arktouros

So you’re saying they gave people dates and time frame and now that they aren’t holding to them people want to demand more dates and a time frame from them so if (when) they don’t meet that they will bitch at them some more…?

Bold strategy.

JoeCreoterra
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JoeCreoterra

Yep unfortunately most people don’t understand software development, and in particular game development, where you build a schedule and aim for it but it’s a floating goal post. Unfortunately games, and in particular online games, don’t have the luxury of putting out a crappy web/desktop app and upgrading it later in order to bring in more customers. If it flops in the beginning a recovery is near impossible, as it’s killed by review sites and word of mouth… especially by a small indie team with a niche title.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

i think people are asking for a checklist on progress towards meeting their next phase goal that’s a year late.

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Ket Viliano

With an investor or publisher, you get like one guy in a suit giving you crap for being late.

With crowdfunding, you get thousands of unkempt gamers giving you crap for being late.

Pick your poison.

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Arktouros

Players without a doubt. Players have little to no financial recourse to recuperate their money and have little sway over how fast you have to develop and push out a product. Publishers can sue.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

.

caw-k blocked.gif
Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

Being in the same boat, I have to applaud the Crowfall guys for this. Development is not so cut and dried as a spreadsheet or neat and clean as a checklist.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

Because we don’t want our feet held to the fire for everything little thing that we have to rearrange.

probably shouldn’t do kickstarter or crowdfunding then.

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johnwillo

Meh, my money’s spent. I’d rather wait for them to get it right than to rush it out to satisfy some public commitment.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

my point is they owe their backers some degree of transparency of what the hold up is.

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johnwillo

Not trying to be argumentative, but why? What would you do differently based on this info? Crowfall’s had more than enough backer updates that we know there is serious work going on; they’re not blowing off the backers. The only thing that would be a major roadblock would be running out of money, and I doubt they’d announce that anyway.

Anyway, I’m not disputing your right to transparency. I just don’t feel the need, myself.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

if i were a backer i’d be informed about the status of a project that i backed and is delayed by like a year?

why hold this back other than they don’t want to be held accountable by the people they took money from years in advance of producing a working product?

i’m not a backer of this game btw, i just find it funny that kickstarter companies increasingly refuse to be accountable to the people that paid their salaries.

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johnwillo

I’m a software developer. Maybe it’s made me more tolerant of software delays, even extensive ones. I’ve seen too many projects run far beyond their original estimates, for various reasons. Some which could/should have been anticipated, and many of which were unavoidable surprises.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

about half my guild are software developers or in IT. ask carla fiona about what happens to enterprise software companies that don’t massively over extend deadlines on a regular basis.

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Scotty

Do you really want them wasting the half a junior man-hour your pledge funded preparing detailed writeups on schedules that are sure to change, or working on the game you’re dying to play?

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

lol they said they’re not gonna do a check list not daily detailed write ups. lmao.

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johnwillo

Yeah, but this ain’t enterprise. These aren’t incremental upgrades to existing software. Ask Square Enix about the costs of releasing an MMO prematurely.

I won’t hassle you any more. Your viewpoint is valid; I was just trying to explain where mine came from.

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