Saga of Lucimia defends Star Citizen’s slow progress, Shroud of the Avatar’s transparency

One of the challenges for indie and crowdfunded MMORPGs is surely the nature of their development: plugging along without much fanfare, with players seeing only one part of the equation. Saga of Lucimia has a piece out meant to show what that behind-the-scenes iteration looks like in the construction of an in-game asset as it travels from art concept to 3-D model to textured asset to something that’s added to the world by a different team entirely. But then what might be a mundane art blog takes a sharp turn to talk about other MMORPGs and their communities and expectations.

“There’s a major disconnect with some players when it comes to the misconceptions regarding iterations over the course of the game’s development,” argues Lucimia Creative Director Tim “Renfail” Anderson. “We see a lot of anger around the ‘net in regards to how things change over time with almost every MMORPG’s development, with many claiming the developers lied about how something was going to work, or how something was perceived as being a certain way, and then when it doesn’t work out quite the way players perceived, they claim that the developers deceived them, and that the launched product isn’t anything like what was initially discussed during the development process. The perfect example of this is Star Citizen/Squadron 42.”

Anderson points out that in spite of the company’s growth and endless parade of info dumps every week, “there is still a corner of the web that claims they are vaporware because they aren’t a released product yet. As if zero progress has been made.”

Likewise, he says, Shroud of the Avatar boasts “one of the most transparent companies in terms of development, even going so far as to post their internal standups to their forums in an effort to keep their community in the loop,” and yet there are still people grumpy “about what they see as ‘things that were pitched during the Kickstarter that aren’t exactly the way [they] thought they would be.'”

Lucimia itself is currently dealing with players upset over the third-person camera; apparently, some folks thought the game would be entirely first-person. “You can’t call a developer a liar for changing things along the way, regardless if it’s during the development cycle of the first iteration of the live game, or post-launch.”

“An MMORPG is a completely different beast, because there are literally dozens of people involved, and things are changing on a daily basis in regards to mechanics, skills, animations, character models, and beyond. […] An MMORPG is a living, breathing thing. And just as much as human beings evolve over time, so does an MMO.”

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28 Comments on "Saga of Lucimia defends Star Citizen’s slow progress, Shroud of the Avatar’s transparency"

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Vagabond Sam

Having a Kickstarter state, in the FAQ “Though Shroud of the Avatar won’t be a massively multiplayer online role playing game” and to now have MMORPG front and centre as it’s genre is not the outcome that one would expect of a ‘transparent’ or ‘backer driven’ process.

Having the pitch page state that the game is/will have

Crafting system that avoids busy work:
This was not followed through with as we got a crafting system based on RNG rolls and item destruction on failures which consume hours of hours worth of resources as you attempt to make the item you desire. You’re literally forced into constant busy work grind the materials and making dozens of attempts if you wish to make high level items.

A fantasy role-playing game that will focus more on player choices and discovery than on level grinding.
Clearly not the case when the game has limitless grinding for Experience or skill points and EXP loss on death so if you are exploring dangerous zones you are always grinding a ‘buffer’ or trying to recoup your losses.

Even if you get a house without the ‘easy’ route of buying one with cash, they tune the rent system to require you to spend 1 hour per week grinding gold for Rows, 2 hours for Villages, 4 hours for Towns and 7 hours for City lots.

Players will adventure in an interactive world where their choices have consequences,
Do they? Quests that result in the arrest of an NPC do not end with that NPC removed, along with their gang. Removing a corrupted captain from their position and promoting their subordinate after they are disgraced and neither NPC moves and simply change their response when you say ‘job’ to them

This is all just based on their Kickstarter Pitch and not the numerous updates, announcements and newsletters that promised a game that was not a Housing Market Slum Simulator.

Poratalrium haven’t been transparent, they’ve just been loud. They’ve managed to sell monthly patches as some amazing achievement when all they do is shift the goal posts for monthly releases to keep the cadence but not the content size.

Other games delay patches to finish all the content but Portalarium just reduce the patch size and point to this as evidence of all the work they are doing,

Meanwhile they ignore feedback from a vocal cadre of backers that hate the RMT focus, hate the combat, find the story to be poorly written and poorly implemented and just wholly unrecognisable when compared to the pitch they were sold on.

Iterate and be agile around you tech and how you solve problems. Don’t use those as excuses for why you changed the vision you were supported to see realized.

Saga of Lucemia should be learning from Portalarium’s mistakes, not defending their failure to launch a captivating and compelling successor to Ultima.

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Tim Anderson

Perception; it’s one of the core aspects of the article in question. Clearly, what you perceived them building versus what they were actually building don’t match up.

I wonder who is in the right?

As for me, I am enjoying the hell out of SOTA. I’m also enjoying the hell out of Star Citizen, regardless of the performance issues. In both cases, I’m along for the ride, and however they decide to build things is how I choose to explore their worlds.

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Vagabond Sam

Perception; it’s one of the core aspects of the article in question. Clearly, what you perceived them building versus what they were actually building don’t match up.

I wonder who is in the right?

I’ve yet to see a compelling rebuttal my perceptions of how the kickstarter goal of creating a ‘Crafting System that avoids busy work’ (their words) does not fit with systems that base rarity on item destruction, high levels of RNG and intensive resource grinding.

I’ve yet to see an honest explanation why there are so many static NPCs that do not move with the story in mirroring their goal of having an ‘interactive world where (their) choices have consequence’. Particularly with games that have utilised phasing technology for years like WoW and FFXIV to have battle lines shift and cities grow or fall with the player’s actions as they progress through a story. In fact, one of the main concepts they sold backers on for having a ‘World Map’ was the ability to drop in and change scenes as the story developed. Something I’m yet to even see on the road maps.

So while you ‘wonder’ who is right, I can provide paragraphs of examples of how the game has failed to meet the expectation and perceptions of many of the people who saw it raise $2 million only to see the vision fade and not just succumb to ‘iteration on what works’ but have development in directions diametrically opposed to the spirit of the game that was presented in 2013.

I also think a company has a higher burden for ensuring they are clear about advertising the products they are attempting to fund. Whether or not my perception is right, ultimately a discrepancy means that Portalarium failed to communicate effectively and responsibly to me.

Shame on me I suppose.

However, I am far from the only one with the same ‘perception’ so I would contest that Portalarium either failed to communicate true intent, or failed to deliver based on the scope of the issues with ‘perception’.

Instead they even use formal communication channels to shift blame for this to ‘trolls’.

As for me, I am enjoying the hell out of SOTA. I’m also enjoying the hell out of Star Citizen, regardless of the performance issues. In both cases, I’m along for the ride, and however they decide to build things is how I choose to explore their worlds.

I don’t doubt that there are people who find either game fun in it’s current state.

That’s not contingent on, or determinate of, whether or not they were ethical in carrying out the Kickstarter as presented.

Their ‘right’ to decide to build the world ‘however they want’ may not be limited in practical terms but when they preemptively sell the product to thousands of players, there is some ethical prerogative to protect the original vision.

Rather then make dismissive remarks about how some Kickstarter material was ‘written by people no longer with the company’.

Basically, I think your position is far to dismissive of the responsibility and trust that a company assumes when they accept pledges for a vision they describe so early in the development cycle.

Unless of course they offer no questions asked refunds :p

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Michael18

So did they change their stance on 3rd person camera? So far, they only wanted to allow 3rd person view via certain skills and only for a (very) limited amount of time. Did this change??

(for me, personally, this would be great, because due to motion sickness I do not expect to be able to play this much in 1st person)

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Tim Anderson

We’re finally starting to test the functionality of our 3rd person POV. Expect to see some more on this topic in the coming months :)

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Michael18

So I guess you don’t wanna disclose yet to what extent players will be able to play in 3rd person. Anyways, looks great so far in the above video!

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Tim Anderson

We’ve always said that players who invest enough time in the Astral Projection skill to level it up to 100 will have 3rd person PoV on demand, but those who are lower levels will have limited windows of 3rd person PoV, can be interrupted/etc.

Beyond that…nothing new to say other than “we are testing the functionality”

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Schlag Sweetleaf

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Roger Melly

I’ve given Star Citizens free fly weekend a try the last few days . It does have potential I must admit that but given its been in development for several years now it was nowhere near as far along in its development as I thought it would be .

It does seem to me that its release is still a good few years away and I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if we are still waiting for it in the early to mid 2020’s . Unless of course they release it in an unfinished ,unpolished and buggy state .

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Space Captain Zor

given its been in development for several years now it was nowhere near as far along in its development as I thought it would be

You and Chris Roberts both. That being said, given the enormous R&D task most of this game would require to reach CR’s post-stretch goal vision, it was clear to me (at least) that this was going to be a very lengthy cycle.

Unfortunately at least a couple years of “development” appear to have been fairly unproductive in many important aspects as they dealt with bad micro management while trying to soothe backer expectations/demands, unproductive production, growing pains, and a lot of assumed behind-the-curtain delays no doubt due in no small part to all that R&D that needed to be done.

All the while painted over with slick marketing that intentionally or not has frequently looked very romantic yet misleading as to what you really will find if you log in–hence, why I have abstained from doing so for now. I keep my own interests up higher that way as well. But kudos for braving the waters.

I don’t doubt these two games could take a lot longer to reach parity with what CR wants it to be as long as they have the funding to keep iterating and it doesn’t bother me. Simply, I know of less ambitious games that have taken as long or longer to see release and it worked out just fine for them. Course, that was with traditional development.

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Robert Mann

I get it when they talk about people being impatient around game development… but at the same time this is not the way to deal with that. The differences in announcement timing that have come over the course of the last decade certainly seem not to be something many have dealt with well (it used to be you heard about a game a year or two before release max.) Then again, there’s the very deserved criticisms that come out too. So grain of salt before it is always people being angsty.

Thing is, that this is the same as anything else. When people start being impatient, you have a choice in your reaction. Yelling at them about how wrong they are never really works well, unless you want to make things more strained. Explaining to them the differences is much better, since you are most likely going to help those that are never going to accept anything but their way understand… if you can keep your own patience with the trolling that will ensue. Then, there’s always the option to just ignore the people who are so impatient, which will save a lot of sanity, but lead to camps of people arguing with each other on the matter and not help any of those who might have listened.

When picking from those choices, it is a shame that the yelling response is so common.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

remember the good ol days of crowdfunding when all these guys were like “we’d rather be beholden to you the players, instead of GREEDY publishers!”

i guess they’ve changed their minds.

Estranged
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Estranged

SoL?

lulz

That is what you are if hiding behind Star Citizen.

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Rolan Storm

People will talk whatever you do. You either get used to it or… well, caring about everyone’s opinion is hell on earth. Also some people never like what they get. They just don’t.

Those two combined we get a good percentage of people that will never be satisfied whatever you do, will be vocal about it and will make pre-order just to do that. And they will tell everyone (and most of them believe) that they did it not to do this, but rather play the game.

They don’t. When you game is out they will play it for half an hour and jump back on ./interwebz unicorn to ride this Matterhorn just for the fun of it. Because game failed their expectations.

This is not wrong situation in game development, this is all human nature. People get disappointed all the time. People whine. People demand and people bloody scream when they do not get their way.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

ok so in the game development process things change all teh time. development is “agile” or “fluid” and things take iteration and sometimes often don’t end up working well or aren’t fun so they are left on teh cutting room floor.

and normally that’s fine and dandy and rarely gets much attention (tho plenty of bragging from devs all over their own official sites comms venues and to the press on thiese practices).

but what’s not so normal is selling a product with all of these features and content and whatnot advertised as if they are confirmed and locked to bein at launch years before they are even started the first line of code or more than a paper napkin sketch/outline.

and that’s where these companies get into trouble.

and it’s absolutely not defensible in the slightest that key features get cut and refusals (or at least a hard time getting) refunds or other remimbursements if any happen at all (and often on the latter just aren’t).

from what i’ve seen lurking around the sota forums a few weeks ago i found a shit tonne of obfuscation of what the game was supposed to be and not alot of transparency especialyl where a pretense of transparency was offered, such as the api alleged to give data like in game population where no one has bothered to use it for such and asbolutely no documentation there of involving any population hooks in it.

star citizen memes about open development but their comms are so overly romantic and positive and they only ever begrudgingly admit to negatives/less positive things well after self imposed deadlines are passed and the backers are yelling for answers. otherwise their entire communication regime vastly surpasses that of any publisher in sexxing up the product and more than that simply communicating nothing of value about the state or progression of development – in fact plent yo ftheir communications tend to unintentionally indicate new massive red flags about their development efforts and goals and management.

that sota is a well funded game with industry veterans adn the production value is about a half step or so above “i learned C while using unity for the first time and spending alot of money on the asset store” quality doesn’t need alot of insight into the nuts and bolts of the development process to realize it’s a shit game that forgot its’ sales pitch and morphed into some frankenstein monster of some of the most grinding bot demanding gold farming for houses rmt bullshit in the history of gaming.

that star citizen is in teh top teir of most well funded video games of all time and yet spent years obfuiscating and outright lying about what work was being done and what progress was being made while they made the game literally backwards to how any software or video game should be made by making 99% of their development efforts on asset creation is less necessary ot be aware of than the fact that it’s 7 years into development and we have only just recieved the first version of the game in 5 years of early access that is reasonably playable and is more than a mere proof of concept.

ultimately6 when you start taking money for a set of features and content and mecahnics, you are indeed every bit beholden to live up to those words you yourself spoke and set as the expectation.

and ultimately if you don’t like that reality, then you should’ve not fucking touched crowdfunding to begin with and funded your game by traditional means without the liabilities involved with kickstarter/crowdfunding in conjunction with the realities of software development environments.

tl;dr – you made your beds, now lie in them.

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Space Captain Zor

Well said.

and ultimately if you don’t like that reality, then you should’ve not fucking touched crowdfunding to begin with and funded your game by traditional means without the liabilities involved with kickstarter/crowdfunding in conjunction with the realities of software development environments.

That, and, the realities of the mob, not crowd, you’re asking for money from to fund your project. The mob is a fickle beast.

Pepperzine
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Pepperzine

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jay

All of these dev’s saying it that there are a lot of things going on behind the scenes, and that’s why it’s taking years and years beyond the initial projected date to deliver a product need to have a good internal look.

1st, who set that time table to begin with? As a seasoned dev they should know, realistically, how long it will actually take to deliver a finished product. If they are missing that mark by a wide margin; either they don’t have a clue what they are doing, or there is something else wrong going on in the background.

2nd sheltering behind Star Citizen is a joke. The reason that SC is so late is because they realized they could make more money by selling more ships before the game ever even releases, than they could after release. Each ship put on the block adds to development time, which pushes things further out. Defending SC is the biggest cop out ever.

If you want a studio to emulate, lets look at Intrepid. I didn’t back these guys because of some shady business history, and the pyramid scheme built into their kick starter/pledges. Yet you can not deny that they have made monumental progress in the short time they have been developing the game. I don’t see them missing development marks like others out there. Could it be that they just had realistic timelines from seasoned vets? Or is it that they possibly don’t have internal problems that these other studio’s have?

cmdr_cotic
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cmdr_cotic

Re. Star Citizen. If only that was all it was. Every time they held a show or convention they had an elaborate showcase of the game which they purposely advertised as coming soon, and typically did not happen.

If developers do not want to be misunderstood about the progress of their game they should take pains to explain why they have gone back on X or Y feature, how it affects the development as a whole and what it means going forward. Staying silent or pretending the new way was always the direction the game was headed does them no favours.

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Joe Blobers

Quote Cmdr_cotic: “they purposely advertised as coming soon, and typically did not happen.”

Sure. Pupils to planet means something to you? This is 3.1
We could argue this is moon not planet but beside that.. Yes they do deliver what they say.
One on of the best game to look at devloping from outside with multiple coms and technical information. Late? 6 years end of November 2018.