Kickstarted survival sandbox Day of Dragons’ early access launch is bogged down by drama

    
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Kickstarted survival sandbox Day of Dragons’ early access launch is bogged down by drama

Remember the tussle over in-dev MMO Oath a while back? A sub-contractor for the game accused the developer of screwing with ’em, it hit YouTube, and then the developer fired back? Apparently another one of those dramabombs went off this past fall in the Day of Dragons community.

You’ll recall that Day of Dragons is the dragon-themed survival sandbox that funded on Kickstarter for half a million bucks back in October. The game entered early access (late) on Steam last week with a $19.99 buy-in, though reviews are mixed right now as players are flocking to the page to relay not just “scam” accusations but the revelation that it is really, truly an early access title with chiefly demo features and not a whole lot else to do. The Reddit seems to be a bit more positive (but not much), while comments on the Kickstarter itself seem to be coming mostly from backers angry over missing keys and invites and rewards.

So here’s the deal: The studio, Beawesome Games, was hit with multiple accusations of misconduct that have divided the game’s community over the course of the fall of 2019. An angry gamer paid to put up an entire website devoted to accusing the game of being an asset flip made by rookies (some of the information is clearly outdated now, though) and picking apart Discord discussions about the status of the company, its alleged use of another game’s artwork, and its apparent attacks on and bans of various community members and YouTubers and even moderators over what the studio deemed slander, toxicity, and leaks. One of our own commenters even accused the studio of a link to the old Trials of Ascension mess – a claim we can’t confirm (we’re not voice experts) and that has been rebuffed by the lead developer in question, who has now multiple times stated this is his first game.

Early on in the debate in October, popular YouTuber IGP posted a lengthy video outlining the accusations by way of explaining to his followers why he won’t be supporting or playing the game.

In spite of the fact that IGP directed his million-and-a-half subbers to not harass the developers, the lead dev, who goes by Jao, says that’s exactly what happened anyway, as the game’s Discord, Steam, and YouTube were raided and somebody tried hacking his email.

Even bigger gaming YouTuber TheGamingBeaver, who apparently did some work on the title, followed up that video to address it, ultimately concluding that it’s merely a “passion project that has got out of hand” after the Kickstarter pulled in far more money than anyone expected.

A third YouTuber, Anthomnia, argued that the concerns and criticism from players have been entirely legitimate and that the developer responded inappropriately, but also that the proof is in the pudding and that it’s not a scam. Anthomnia interviewed multiple people, including a AAA developer, who discusses the game’s quality and complexity potential. He also interviews the lead developer, Jao, who addresses the claims about code and his past coding experience, and says that the “stolen” art wasn’t stolen but purchased with a license. Jao further bashes the IGP video and channel specifically, accusing the YouTuber of malice, deception, and lies to send his followers after Beawesome with reverse psychology. And he states he hopes IGP is deplatformed by Google. (Anthomnia pushes back against that.)

We’re still cracking up over the dramatic music used behind the tax accusations in the video, but the truth is Anthomnia does ask explicit questions about corporate taxes on the half a million Kickstarter bucks, which Jao says he cannot directly answer.

At the time, Anthomnia concluded that there would eventually be a game, but its quality longterm was the big question, and of course, he was right, as his latest video notes: the early access is live.

We surely sound like a broken record at this point, but unless you’re entirely confident about the provenance of the game and the pedigree of the developers, or you’ve got gobs of money to burn, or you don’t mind paying to test a very much unfinished game for a year, maybe keep your wallets shut when it comes to Kickstarter and early access and just hang tight while the developers work their kinks out. A game doesn’t need to be an intentional scam to be something you should skip or just bide your time on while you see how it develops. There are hundreds of live and functional indie MMOs and survival sandboxes that deserve your patronage while you wait.

Source: YouTube, Steam. Thanks, Xanward!

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Arnold Hendrick

A $500k Kickstarter sounds like a lot, but against the scale and cost of an MMO, it’s actually peanuts. Gamers don’t understand the scale and cost of game development. MMOs typically run into the tens of millions, and often hundreds of millions of dollars, over a multi-year period.

This is because MMOs require both client and server engineering (programming). It is virtually impossible for one person to have sufficient expertise to handle ALL the engineering for the game, much less do the artwork, organize the game design, manage the money, as well as running the PR & Marketing (including customer relations) for the game.

To get an idea of how much SALARIES alone for people cost, the latest industry survey from Gamasutra is here: https://www.gamasutra.com/salarysurvey2014.pdf,
now add 10% extra for inflation over the last five years (see https://www.usinflationcalculator.com/inflation/current-inflation-rates/ ). The survey includes US, Canadian and European salaries. In addition, people doing contract work have to cover their own health care costs, social security payments, etc., and therefore should charge more than Gamastura-base-salary.

As for taxes, as much as 1/3rd of that kickstarter amount must go to the US Government by April 15th, 2020, depending on how the business side of the venture is organized. I’d guess that even with the most advantageous business setup, you’d be paying over 20% in taxes (on corporate income, which is how kickstarter money should be categorized). Of course, since Kickstarter and its money-handling contractor typically takes 10% of the amount itself, those taxes will be on $450k. In the end, Day of Dragon will have $300k to $360k to work with.

In short, this doesn’t buy you much contract labor. A couple senior people, or four to five junior people, for one year. I find it very hard to imagine that this many people, plus the founder, can finish a reasonably full-featured MMO of any type. Even a “flight simulator” style game needs people running around on the ground as “moving targets” for the dragon, and an attractive ground for them to run on and the dragon to fly over. This vision invokes a whole host of engineering and art issues on the client, and super-quick data management by the server.

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Josiah Porteous

as someone who back this game and is seeing it come along as promised, i can assure people the game will be good. Jao as a developer is a hard worker, who is overworking himself currently to get the game into an enjoyable place.

Onto IGP. Now, i would say he had bad intent, seeing as he attacked any small influencer (youtuber, twitch streamer, etc.) and attacked them on twitter and on their videos and streams. he also had previously prepared his friends actual flight simulator so Jao “couldn’t pull down his video.” This is indicitave that he never had good intent for the game. When people who had gotten to know Jao or immediately saw issues with IGP’s video due to actual slander (term used; money grubber) and calling his character into question with no reason, or experience with programming games and understanding how much ground work goes into it (i.e. blueprints not being a valid programming tool in IGP’s opinion).

I would also like to point out the timing of IGP’s video, it was released right before any developer information could be put out, but right at the time it had gained the most public excitement.

Finally, i love IGP’s defense against the fans who support the game. He says “They… encourage a cult like behaviour” without actually defining cult like behaviour. As a Kickstarter Backer, i can say that it took me less than a day to refute IGP’s video with information i had available. Now, Anthomnia was right when he said some people had legitimate concerns, as IGP and other haters have flooded the internet with bad or poor information, making it hard to distinguish good information from the bad.

To conclude, yes Jao is angry, but i would be angry too if someone said my father dying didn’t happen and attacked my character without proof or evidence. Lets not forget, Jao is a person with a small group of friends who helped out, NOT a whole team of developers with a PR team to smooth over any public questions. i think his behaviour should be taken in context. I have met and talked to Jao personally, gotten questions I’ve asked answered, and even was able to talk to him from differing points of view without conflict, so i can vouch for Jao’s personality.

To IGP and followers, does that sound like a cultist’s arguement?

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Michael Fuchs

This argument sounds word for word like what supports of Trials of Ascension started to say when Brax was attacking people that brought up concerns about their game (even if some of them did so in a super rude way).

I’m not certain where you’re pulling in some of your info, like people saying that the lead dev’s father didn’t die, but it’s certainly not in IGP’s video.

The lead dev of Day of Dragons loves to throw around “Slander” and threatening to sue for it, just like Brax did with Trials of Ascension. It didn’t mean what Brax said it did then, and it still doesn’t mean what Joao says it does now.

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Josiah Porteous

slander is not just the legal definition for lawsuits. the definition being: make false and damaging statements about (someone). Calling Jao a money grubber for asking for $15k and getting $500k? he also says receiving such amounts of money will probably make him greedy and run off with it. despite him giving his real name and having, at this point invested a large amount of that money hiring people for the game. Yes Jao was mad and threatened some things (like any normal person) but after legal advice is not going through with any.

im pulling in information from different sources. again, IGP attacked several small youtube channels and twitch streamers, on social media and their content. as such, there is a lot more he has said about Jao that isn’t being seen here.

I have recently been playing the game and can say actual work is very much happening. sadly, with the way the money has been budgeted, Jao cannot afford a pr team. however, he has expanded his volunteer admin and moderator teams

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Michael Fuchs

When someone says that they’re going to go after someone for slander, it’s the legal definition that matters. In any case, the normal definition, as you shared, requires false and damaging statements. I fail to see the false statements from the video, and he mentioned his concerns about the title —just as Anthomnia did.

I, personally, have doubts about the name that Joao has given, and I believe he contradicted himself many times in his interview with Anthomnia. As mentioned in my comment in the other article, I firmly believe that Joao is Brax from Trials of Ascension, whose name on that project was Don Danielson. He sounds like him, acts like him, and makes statements that would line up with from when I was working with Brax on ToA.

No one is saying that no work is being done at all. Rather, that the statements made during Kickstarter and post Kickstarter have been misleading. Which of those statements have been misleading are up for debate and where people are questioning.

But as Anthomnia said in his interview, I also have no doubt that a game will be made eventually. The quality of that title, and how much of what was promised will be there, is also questionable.

I, personally, haven’t seen IGP attack any youtube channels or twitch streamers, but if you can link that I’d be happy to take a look.

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Matthäus Wey

I mean, it’s not great to buy assets, but it’s not wrong either. Many smaller games/studios use ready-made assets from the xyz marketplace. Hell, most realistic looking things nowadays use the Megascan library for a lot of things.

The other things mentioned in the video are very questionable.

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Josiah Porteous

plus those assets are what the Kickstarter was to replace in the first place

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Michael Fuchs

I think it’s the saying they’re custom work when they’re assets that gives people issue with it. The marketplace has some quite nice assets and people shouldn’t be ashamed to use them — just don’t call them your own work.

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Matthäus Wey

Well said.

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Robert Mann

Most suspicious aspect of this game on the kickstarter for me was “It’s a flying simulator!”

Simply put, they didn’t have anything else to show. It was a little ground movement and the flying. The lack of anything else was very telling. The video from back then felt like an empty world. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything that was ‘advertised’ that way before.

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Ronyel

Honestly, I am surprised by how much money it did bring in. It intrigued me enough to read through the kickstarter, watch the few videos they had, and read through the info on their discord.

At the end of the day though, what was it that you were actually paying for and did you have the confidence that your investment would be handled appropriately to deliver upon the a full release title?

There was just no substance to what they had shown during the kickstarter. I saw some dragons flying through an empty world and and egg cracking to reveal a baby dragon. Thats literally it. I was left wondering what the purpose of the game was, what was their to do/interact with in the world, what was going to keep me playing?

There just wasnt enough information and/or content about the game, not to mention that the developer has no prior experience, to convince me to invest any amount of money in the game, regardless of whether or not I was initially intrigued.

All I see here is a lot of people who through money at a project that probably doesnt have what it takes to succeed.

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Robert Mann

Exactly. It showed essentially nothing but some assets thrown together. Honestly I can do most of that with just having hobbied around a few things for giggles.

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Daniel Solorzano

I was so close to backing this game but the day before the kickstarter ended I got a bad feeling and pulled out. Thankfully

Mewmew
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Mewmew

“We’re still cracking up over the dramatic music used behind the tax accusations in the video”

I’m watching “The Worlds Most Anticipated Dragon Survival Game is in Trouble” video above and they have the same type of music playing in the background that conspiracy theory videos usually have playing. It’s quite ridiculous and hilarious at the same time. I don’t know why they choose to put these background music tracks on some of these videos.

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Josiah Porteous

sadly, drama is a great way to make money

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cursedseishi

Jao further bashes the IGP video and channel specifically, accusing the YouTuber of malice, deception, and lies to send his followers after Beawesome with reverse psychology. And he states he hopes IGP is deplatformed by Google. (Anthomnia pushes back against that.)

Ignoring everything else, this is some utter and trite bull if I’ve ever seen it. He’s crying about being attacked, and when people go after him he cries some more and says when people are saying not to go after him, that they are really saying going after him.

He wants Google to hit IGP because Jao thinks IGP is being dishonest. Policy plays off rules–or should, at the very least–which means your feelings and what you think of someone’s intent is garbage unless you have concrete proof that is what they intend. And there’s absolutely no way of proving IGP is intentionally leading his consumer base to attack your crap game and your disingenuous bullsheet through some universally-communicated wink-wink-nudge-nudge.

That crap didn’t work when Digital Homicide tried arguing that against Sterling.

I wouldn’t read malice or dishonesty usually… But personally checking through some of his post history? Yeah, regardless of any honest intent at the start I have zero reason to believe or trust in his honesty as is. He’s tossing out a bunch of legal threats, has operated poorly, and frankly if I had any shred of interest in playing this game…?

It has long since been thrown out, and that is ignoring that the game as-is can easily be played for free elsewhere.

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Loyal Patron
sizer99

ultimately concluding that it’s merely a “passion project that has got out of hand” after the Kickstarter pulled in far more money than anyone expected.

I think this is the best description I’ve seen, and it applies to so many projects. Most people doing crowdfunded games have no idea what they’re doing, even less so when it unexpectedly blows up, and even less when it’s an MMO instead of something you can just sit alone and make in your basement like Undertale.

This is all pretty clearly someone in way over his head with no idea what he’s doing, and no idea how to do community relations, crowd handling, or damage control. This does not imply malice or deception were intended, but some of that can happen as the accusations become too much to handle.

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Daniel Miller

True and i backee it. I know even though they got 500k two months ago, it could be years to program and use that cash.
On the other hand due to his lack of skill he can hire more qualified people to improve his project.
Sadly he will probably just pocket most.
Ks wont hold him to much more than he has delivered.

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PanagiotisLial1

Yes reading into all that, I also thought since he funded so high amount why doesnt he simply hire. Its not like it would be an AAA title with huge costs

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Josiah Porteous

Jao has hired the sound guy for subnautica, paid for an orchestra for the soundtrack, hired a modeler, and is waiting for the contract of an animator to end before hiring them (i believe end of this month). Seeing as he has a finite amount of funds, he has stated he will hire another programmer if the need arises. things will take time to make. im sure by the end of 2020 we will start seeing graphics that are wholly DoD’s. Otherwise, he also has to subsist off of the money, he has hired a lawyer to draw up his contracts and help him with legal issues. Also, taxes. the money for the game is pretty much fully budgeted already, so i dont think we have much to worry about. after all, 500k can buy a good house in a nice neighborhood, its not enough to really run away with

Cyorie
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Cyorie

Even if someone knows what they’re doing for the project they are pitching, when things blow up, expectations rise exponentially with the funding, and most devs won’t be able to handle the increased scope.
Most people on kickstarter, dev and funders alike, have no idea on what is actually possible when target and actual funding are so far apart. Making just the originally pitched project isn’t possible any more, as that would seem as if the devs are just pocketing the excess money. But increasing the scope spells doom a lot of the time. Also, dividing your project between more people, and the overhead that comes with that, can easily make any roadmap created before obsolete.
With the original 12k scope, the money would have probably been spent mostly on art, and then the dev would have found out that there’s no readily-available MMO plugin on the store. The few people spending money on this would have been grumpy, but it would just be another amateur dev with the wrong expectations. With the current 500k, a lot of people are expecting a game on par with what’s currently playable on the market, and that would be difficult to achieve even for a team of experienced people.

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Jon Wax

Schindler’s list is a drama. This isn’t even a sitcom

Pepperzine
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Pepperzine

Can we get a subtitle added to this article
“Kickstarted survival sandbox Day of Dragons’ early access launch is bogged down by drama: The YouTube Wars.”