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Thread: Quartertothree Discussion on Xenonauts

  1. #51
    Beloved Leader Chris's Avatar
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    We can't win, can we? If we don't post up stretch goals, we're out of touch and not doing the cool stuff the other Kickstarters are. We're rubbish at marketing because we can't motivate the Kickstarter community like everyone else does, and we've given no incentive for people to donate above the funding amount. We're idiots because we've left money on the table.

    If we do post up stretch goals, then we're amateurish because we're either compromising our artistic integrity by adding new features that weren't in the earlier design, or we're leaving ourselves open to attack because our stretch goals are overpriced (or the community didn't vote the way people wanted, so they have a bee in their bonnet about it). We're money grabbing bastards for trying to take the money people are potentially making available to us.

    Wiglafman - I really don't understand how us saying "if we hit X funding, we'll add a new tileset" is somehow leaving you worse off than you were before? You're not obliged to try and make that happen. If I said to you "I'll give you $10 if it rains on Thursday" would you be annoyed with me if it didn't rain on Thursday, because you've "lost" that money?

    The new tilesets aren't a feature that have to be in the game, or were going to be. We were already going to have 7 tilesets in the game it'll potentially go up to 9 if we raise enough money in the Kickstarter. Why are you so angry about that? Yes, we could add all the stretch goals to the game to make it more exciting and immersive, but we're a small team and we don't have the resources to do it. If we raised enough money on Kickstarter we might be able to, of course, which would make the game better for everyone - but that's exactly what you're criticising us for trying to do.

    In hindsight, I really wish we hadn't offered stretch goals either. The amount of flak we've taken for trying to be open about what we want to do and to offer backers a small bonus if the Kickstarter goes well has encouraged me not to bother in the future - it just seems to be seen as a weakness to attack by a small but not insignificant part of the internet. None of the features on the list were going to be in the final game - and in fact if I'd never mentioned them at all I doubt anyone would have noticed they weren't present. Lesson learned the hard way.
    Chris England - Xenonauts Project Lead
    chris@xenonauts.com
    @GoldhawkInt

  2. #52
    I thing that when it comes to indie games, marketing is not so much of an issue as is the interest of the comsumers. Posting stretch goals may have not been the best markeeting wise, but it provokes more interest in the consumer, and now they have some more ideas to look forward to. If you look at a game like Minecraft, for example, you can see that marketing doesn't need to have an effect on indie games. The only way it got anywhere was because of the interest it sparked in people. With no direct aim as where the game was going to go in the first place, it evolved with more and more features being added, many of which are not "essential" to the gameplay. I see most of the stretch goal being implemented despite monetary issue, because of the interest the community gives
    Last edited by ChAnKoEr; 05-17-2012 at 01:16.

  3. #53
    Wiglafman - I really don't understand how us saying "if we hit X funding, we'll add a new tileset" is somehow leaving you worse off than you were before? You're not obliged to try and make that happen. If I said to you "I'll give you $10 if it rains on Thursday" would you be annoyed with me if it didn't rain on Thursday, because you've "lost" that money?
    I think there's two ways that the customer has been harmed by your approach.

    (1) You've undermined their confidence that you have a coherent and consistent idea of the ideal Xenonauts. Everyone had this confidence when you asked for $50,000 initially, but investors don't want to see someone who has been working on a game for three years to be suddenly throwing up a preposterously complex surveymonkey that asks what features they want in the game. You really should not be leaving it up to voters as to whether the game needs a level designer most, or more tilesets, more motion detectors. That is kind of your job. There is a reason no major game studio puts features to a popular vote months before their game's release. Investors lose confidence, pledges decline, and the game's quality suffers. = Consumers have been hurt.

    (2) You've made it impossible to tell where the money for pledges is going. What % goes to giving you a studio, versus going to these new features? Who knows anymore. Didn't you promise you'd get a studio on just the $50,000, before you offered the stretch goals? The money allocation probably varies significantly by stretch goal, too. If you had just set the stretch goal to be "$130,000 = new studio and faster game development," there'd be much less confusion. Again, confusion = lost confidence = lost investors = lost quality = hurt consumers.

    In hindsight, I really wish we hadn't offered stretch goals either. The amount of flak we've taken for trying to be open about what we want to do and to offer backers a small bonus if the Kickstarter goes well has encouraged me not to bother in the future - it just seems to be seen as a weakness to attack by a small but not insignificant part of the internet. None of the features on the list were going to be in the final game - and in fact if I'd never mentioned them at all I doubt anyone would have noticed they weren't present. Lesson learned the hard way.
    I think it is easy to get carried away promising T-shirts, random features, etc. when all people really wanted was to help you complete Xenonauts as you envisioned it.
    Last edited by wiglafman1225; 05-17-2012 at 01:54.

  4. #54
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    Well I would agree that using a vote to choose game features is probably not the optimum strategy. Gamers seldom have enough of the big picture in mind to be able to make development decisions. I've worked on a couple modding projects and the ones that made the most progress were the ones directed by the developers. Attempts to give the community a chance to vote typically resulted in chaos, flame wars, lost productivity and even worse, rapid shifts in focus and priorities.

    Community feedback is always great but I think that the important and final decisions should be made by the management.

    For the most part though, the complaints being fielded in other forums are done by people who know absolutely nothing about the project outside of assumptions based on a 5 minute read of the Kickstarter page. But that is the nature of the internet. People love to jump to conclusions and spout opinions but hate devoting time to research. That's why I'm not a fan of polls for things like this. Far too many people will cast a vote for the sake of voicing an opinion even if they haven't taken the time to evaluate the situation.

    If polls are going to be used, it's really best to restrict access to people who are knowledgeable enough about the matter to make an informed decision. The people who frequent these boards would likely fall into this group. Those on Kickstarter however, know almost nothing about Xenonauts and its stage in development.

  5. #55
    I'm really not sure I get making motion scanners and proxy grenades paid features. That's a real head-scratcher. I guess it is good the stretch goals brought this to my attention. I had assumed they were kind of basic features that would be included.

  6. #56
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    That didn't come as a surprise to me since I've been following the project even before the current forums were setup. I also knew that Goldhawk had looked into doing up some tall grass for the fire system awhile ago and ran across some glitches in their initial attempt. I believe it had something to do with the animations of soldiers walking through it. Proxy grenades in themselves are simple enough but integrating them into the AI isn't simple.

    A number of the old X-Com features didn't get attention because the developers had their time sucked away in the efforts to improve other aspects of the game. The improved dogfight system took a couple iterations and some serious modification (testing and feedback provided by pre-orderers) before it was completed. The cover system was redone once as well after it was heavily tested.

    The 2D artwork resulted in a huge loss of time in creating and rendering the sprites. 2D sprite-based graphics are only quick to produce if the art is kept simple and the number of weapon and armor variations is kept minimal. In a 3D game adding a new weapon is mostly a matter of making the weapon model and entering it into the files. If Goldhawk were to add a new weapon now (let's say an autocannon), they'd have to create something like 24,000 new soldier sprites and enter that data into sprite sheets to get it to show ingame. This is why Goldhawk originally said they'd be unable to put female soldiers ingame. They realized that doing more sprites wasn't feasible.

    A lot of the Xenonauts assets were actually created in 3D first to save time then rendered into 2D. This was faster than painting each individual image but it would have been faster to just use the 3D assets with a 3D engine. You won't find many games with Xenonaut's level of detail being done in 2D these days. It's just not efficient.

    The new UI was another factor as well. Tester feedback indicated that the old UI wasn't good enough and much time was spent improving the appearance and function of it. AI was in the same boat. After the original coder was unable to come up with something acceptable Goldhawk had to make the decision to hire a specialist to take on the project (they just started this in the past month or so).

    In other words, features that hadn't been done yet were put aside to focus efforts on priorities such as UI, AI and rendering the sprites required for the various armors and weapons.

    So yes, I'm disappointed that we'll probably not get some of those features but I'm not surprised or upset about it. Keeping up to date with the news allows me to understand the reasons and put them into perspective.
    Last edited by Akavit; 05-17-2012 at 03:40.

  7. #57
    It's hard for me to imagine that, 19 years after X-COM, a reimagining can't have proxy mines or motion scanners because of technical limitations. If technical limitations are keeping this game back, all that extra Kickstarter money should be going towards more programmers who can handle the existing workload. The wrong solution is to auction off the existing workload, or add new irrelevant stuff.

  8. #58
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    I'm afraid if you have to imagine what it's like, then you aren't familiar with game development. Modern technology hasn't made it easier to create a game. It merely upped consumer expectations.

    Actually, you're looking at X-Com through rose-colored glasses. The technical limitations they had back then are glaringly obvious if you take an impartial look at the game. It had low resolution sprites and jerky animations. Power armor and flying armor shared the same sprites so with just three types of armor and the basic uniform they only needed sprites to represent three of them. They "cheated" on the death animations by only doing one facing (aliens did a funny spin towards the viewer before dying).

    The UI is terrible by today's standards. It wasn't possible to assign soldier placement in the ship, weapons loadouts needed reassignment with each mission (if I remember correctly) and constant inventory juggling was required to reload and use grenades.

    AI wasn't fantastic either. It was pretty good for its day but not up to today's standards.

    Anyone remember the hours spent hunting the last aliens that went into hiding on every mission?

    Game balance was completely messed up in the end game. Just watch the YouTube video titled "X-com: ufo defence - final mission (DOS)". Victory is possible in one round apparently.

    An interesting thing to note is that Goldhawk did ask for more funds to add features that weren't going to make it in the game. The response came in two forms. First, most people voted in favor of visual improvements over gameplay features. Secondly, people complained that Goldhawk was asking for money to add said features.

    Also note that Xenonauts has vastly improved every aspect of X-Com that made it into the game: UI, visuals, weapon and armor selections, soldier deployment, saved weapons loadouts, dogfighting, vehicle customization, cover system, etc. But they missed motion detectors and proxy grenades so I guess the improvements are of no consequence now?

    People want modern games to look better than X-Com so obviously, more time has to be spent on the visual department. People may say that they want proxy grenades but when given the chance to vote, it looks like the vast majority of folks chose the eye-candy in Xenonaut's Kickstarter poll.

    So obviously, Goldhawk has to make the game look good to sell it. It seems that Chris made a good choice when he opted to put more time into the tilesets and UI instead of those other things.
    Last edited by Akavit; 05-17-2012 at 05:46.

  9. #59
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    I really don't get all these complaints about proxy grenades and motion detectors. "OMG! HOW CAN IT EVEN BE XCOM WITHOUT THOSE? THIS IS NOT TEH FAITHFUL REMAKE!" Minus the caps, I'm not even kidding, I've seen people saying that. Seriously guys... those aren't core features. The proximity grenades frankly sucked once tougher enemies than floaters and sectoids showed up, and even then, a trooper with high reactions was more effective at watching a corridor. The motion detector was always a clunky and unreliable way to find aliens. Once you played the game a couple times it's not like you had to guess where the aliens would be hiding. Neither of them worked at all on the most dangerous kind of alien--the stationary one.

  10. #60
    I wonder if people take the lack of the motion tracker as a hint that there is no sensor of any kind planned?
    It doesn't say that but could easily read like it and as we don't have any information one way or the other, many people (and I) often assume the worst. It's an experience thing.


    Leo

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