Early Access; An Excuse?

Discussion in 'Clockwork Empires General' started by Fruit, Mar 28, 2014.

  1. Fruit

    Fruit Member


    It's your favourite humble forum poster, Fruit! So humble in fact that I might be the humblest in the world, stuck in a bundle with more humbleness. Yes, I'm truly the best, humblest person in the whole world... nay! Universe! By the way, there will be a humble test at the end of this thread, so keep your wits about you!

    But my humble greatness aside, you already know what I wish to speak about. And I hope you endure to the end of my thread. It is of course about the reason post called "So That Happened" which you can find here, to sum it up it's about their release plans and also some goodies about the gameplay that I suavely steered away from without hurt its feelings, because articles are like people and have feelings.

    Before I continue with my rant I will refer you to watch the internet's second humblest friend, Jim Sterling.

    It's barely eight minutes long,if you are planning on reading this lenghty thread you might as well watch this video!

    Now, my first quarrel with this decision is that they still treat it as a "launch". And I don't blame them, because it has become pretty standard this past year to do so. But, it's not a launch, if you launch it I'll expect most bugs to be gone, at least the game crippling ones. It's essentially a paid beta. Whether or not it's full priced remains to be seen. But, it's not a launch. Nor is it an excuse to sell a buggy game.

    Their justification for the price tag is "It includes all future DLC" and DLC is a great way to monetize your fans, it gets you money and them content.
    Make a good game, with good DLC and you'll get loyal fans willing to buy your future DLC, don't sell what might just be a unit-pack for a quick cashgrab.

    "But, Fruit..." you say, "I want to experience the game from the get-go." and I, in a humbly heroic voice, reply "Do so, I'm probably purchasing it as soon as it's made available as well."

    Point is, it doesn't matter that I will purchase the game, it matters that the developers might get skewed priorities. Adding content becomes more important than adding features that makes the game playable for disabled, left handed and otherwise different gamers. Like rebindable keys and colourblind mode.

    Even Chucklefish and their game starbound, which many people refer to as a "Legit Early Access" haven't bothered to implement rebindable keys. Even though they claim that it's their "Top Priority" and have been claiming that for several months whilst churning out tonnes of other content.

    This was uploaded three months ago, a fairly complete looking rebinding option. We might assume that he was bored
    and decided to work on the game, and not the "Top Priority" features.

    And here's the problem with early access, the fans get extremely defensive about it. They will white knight the game to the end of days which, ironically, is for how long some (1) - (2) companies stay in early access. Take Kerbal Space Program for example; They "released" a year ago this Sunday and they are still in early access.

    Early Access.jpg
    I'm pretty sure most games add features, content and bug fixes after their initial release.

    What I'm trying to say is, "Early Access" isn't a tag you should retain as long as you update your game. You should update your game for as long as you are making a significant profit out of it. Minecraft was in a paid beta for a very long while, but when Mojang had fulfilled all the features they wanted for the launch they kept doing updates. Just like Shadow Warrior, Payday 2 and even Don't Starve, which started off in early access but then left it when they had made the game they wanted.

    Don't Starve.jpg
    Pictured Above: Game with updates outside of Early Access.

    Now, I don't think I'll get any overly defensive replies on this thread. I think that most people here would agree with me. But I also think that almost everyone on this forum, including yours humbly, are planning on purchasing the game as it's released. Let's just hope that Clockwork Empires isn't early access' next victim.

    Looking like this, they won't be the victim of anything, will they?

    Oh, since you came this far I have a treat for you! Yes, I do! Remember the test I mention in the beginning of the thread? Well, how many words containing "humble" or any variations of it have you found? Send them in to my PO Box for your chance to win a prize!* And, to show my appreciation for reading my thread, here's my early access gratitude; TY 4 READ, M8!

    *Early Access Competition: PO Box not implemented. Expect progression wipes. No prize available as of yet.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2014
  2. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    As I said in a different thread, I don't get involved in discussions as to whether or not a game ought to be released as early access. That doesn't mean that I can't guess at the reasoning behind it.

    Before there was early access, there was pre-orders, sometimes many months prior to the actual release. In either case, you are gambling more than you would normally be, had you just waited for the actual release and reviews and wort-of-mouth. But when there's an early access, it feels like you are getting something more for your money than you normally would. My guess is, except for overly hyped triple-A games, that Early Access would be much better for the developers, since not only do they get a paying test audience and early feedback, but it's also probably a bit more rewarding. Remember that everyone has to eat and have housing and pay for gas and other expenses while they work on it. So if you work for an indie company, it's a good deal. Besides, I'm betting that very few, if any indie publishers actually expect their games to flop or fail to meet their own expectations, let alone their audience's. Getting paid today is always better than getting paid several months from today, since you REALLY don't know what several months from today, your game's reception is going to be.

    So, what I'm saying is that early access is likely here to stay. Until someone can come up with a time machine and a way to get paid yesterday instead of today.
    Fruit likes this.
  3. Fruit

    Fruit Member

    Whilst that all is true, it's only the ideal scenario. It comes down to a psychological standpoint where pre-orders set expectations for the release and often didn't grant more than a couple of days head start, if any at all, prior to the release. It was often a deadline to be met. People work better under pressure, at least for awhile.

    But early access has turned into this legal grayzone where your game is technically released, but legally a pre-order. You can't demand a refund for missing features because it's in "early access" and as I stated above, there's no telling when they are leaving early access since it isn't governed by anyone.

    But, it all comes down to the developer. I personally want to trust the Gaslampians to do what they should. But that also means that I'll be supporting a fundamentally broken system that's essentially giving the devs a "Get out of Jail" card.

    If you're doing it to get some feedback whilst keeping food on the table, the least you can do is to not charge full price, using the hype behind a game as a weapon against the consumers. Because we can't just wait for a game to come out of early access, because there is no release date.

    In the end, all I can do is trust Gaslamp Games to not be greedy about it.
  4. Daynab

    Daynab Community Moderator Staff Member

    Hey Fruit, we appreciate your post. One thing I'd like to say is the model of "early access indefinitely" that you describe is definitely not what we're going for and the primary reason we're doing it is for testing on a big number of people.

    Here is what Nicholas said about it on another forum yesterday:
    Turbo164, Xyvik and Haldurson like this.
  5. Nicholas

    Nicholas Technology Director Staff Member

    On a more specific note: as a company, we remain committed to being as inclusive as possible, both in our games and how we run our community. Part of that commitment does involve ensuring that we provide appropriate options to the best of our ability for gamers who are colorblind, are deaf or hearing impaired, have disabilities, or otherwise need reconfigurable software. Dredmor got a 10/10 from AbleGamers for disability support:


    and I would like to ensure that Clockwork Empires remains the same way.

    As a side note: if you have disabilities that require accomodation, and you want to work with us to make sure that these things get done, drop me a private message and we'll get in touch. It'd be nice to have this from day one.
  6. astaldaran

    astaldaran Member

    I think the bottom line is, it is just a distribution method and with all distribution methods it as its pluses and its negatives. AS for working under pressure..the guys who did simcity have all kinds of complaints about that..just to name one...

    I can really see the benefit of a large testing base since this is going to do multiplayer..also the game is kind of one of a very few in this genre and since it isn't "prescripted" like a normal game..it does take a lot of trial and error to add updates/fixes etc...

    Look at DF; Toady has a very set path but it has taken a lot of turns in large part because of the continuous suggestions by fans.

    It comes down to, do you trust the company to do a good job? I think Gas Lamp Games has done a steller job and I can't imagine them dropping the ball and saying "good enough"..heck they tinker with dredmore from time to time and honestly; they couldn't survive a flop so they have every incentive to do this right. I'm hesitant on early access games in general, but I fully expect that I'll do this one. I just might try to pace myself at first.
    Haldurson likes this.
  7. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    Trust your experience with GLG -- it's not a perfect indicator of the future, but it's the best you'll get, barring hindsight or a real oracle.
    Xyvik likes this.
  8. Xyvik

    Xyvik Member

    I've always considered it what Haldurson said: a pre-order with access, basically. yeah, there are those that abuse the system. There are some games I've pre-ordered in the past that I -really- wished had had a beta, but alas.

    I think it just comes down to whether a game fits or not. I think Clockwork fits, and will be purchasing it from Early Access without a single qualm. But that's just me.

    /edit: It also has to do with trust, as Haldurson also said. Gaslamp has been more open and honest in their dealings with the fans than almost any other games company. Their weekly blogs don't just show us the triumphs, but also the trials and pitfalls of making a game. I've only been around this community since Clockwork was announced, but there's a history of goodness here from Dredmor days long before me. Until and unless they prove otherwise, I think Gaslamp will show us what a real Early Access experience should be.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2014
  9. Fruit

    Fruit Member

    Wow, an incredible amount of responses! Thank you all for your thoughtful and well opinionated replies.

    I'm also glad to see that no one mistook my post as a criticism against the Gaslampians, but I'd like to comment on this quote provided by Daynab, from Nicholas: "That said: people who do not want to play Early Access games should not play Early Access games."

    It doesn't matter if they release it on early access or not. If you release a game it mustn't be released in an incomplete state. Ask yourself: "Is the content currently inside the game worth the asking price?". Sell it for what it is, not for what it will be. And if you feel like you'll be adding so much content that the asking price will increase, put it on sale with 10-20% off and gradually reduce the percentage as the game develops.

    Bear in mind that incomplete is not the same as "Not finished". Civilization V wasn't finished until they had released all expansions, but it has been a complete game since launch.
  10. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Member

    That is... a surprisingly astute observation. It's arguable that no game is finished until the final patch hits, and that means it's possible to "refinish" a release by releasing a patch years later (which has actually been happening with some older games).

    Clockwork Empires might not ever be complete. This 'Early Access' situation adds a bit more fluidity. The game might be 3/4 feature-complete when it hits Early Access, but some of the last planned features might not hit until after it leaves that program. But it will be playable in some way, and I think that's what is more important. I would rather have a playable game that engages me yet is feature incomplete than a finished, completed game which has no hook.
  11. Cutter

    Cutter Member

    I've done a few EA games and won't do so anymore. Same with crowdfunding. I don't much care for the results - or lack of - from them, EA games in particular. My clients certainly don't pay me before I finish their jobs for them.
  12. Fruit

    Fruit Member

    I'm inclined to agree.

    But only if it's feature complete to that point that it could be released at that state as a full game, as well as justifies the price. In short, everything they have advertised on here needs to be in the game and working when they release it on early access. This makes twice the sense since they are also advertising the game as being released in spring containing those features.

    Now, sadly, some of the more important gameplay features like high definition Dodo Bird customization will have to wait, as sad as that is. Maybe it was just the fevered dream of a madman to have that feature in during early access?
  13. Fruit

    Fruit Member

    Aye, I've heard Battlefield 4 still doesn't work for everyone to this day. Welp, that's Origin for you.

    Jokes aside, the problem with not purchasing early access titles is that you can't tell whether or not they are justifying the price for the content, or if you'll receive any support if the game doesn't work. The devs are usually busy with something more important that makes the rest of the player base that can play the game happy.

    There is no way to know if the game is released but still supported or in a paid beta. Or even supported at all. Some early access games are just left to rot.

    Also, any faults with the game are rather hard to find. For example, Starbound doesn't contain rebindable keys, and that's fine. But they haven't even added in secondary keys! I don't care how busy they are, that's an extremely easy thing to do. When I was in highschool I had tonnes of mates whom could program in a movement system without any pre-existing libraries in an hour! And they are not a team of a single fellow I knew in highschool.
  14. EleSigma

    EleSigma Member

    IMO As weary as I am with early access after Squad's hijinks with KSP stemming from their lack of direction, inability to manage the community, and PR; I still feel comfortable supporting Gaslamp Games, why?

    Unlike a lot of the indie companies that do early access, this isn't GG's first game. They have expedience with Dredmor+its expansions under their belt. They've made good with their promises so far and built up a good reputation through Dredmor. They've played it smart and kept in contact with the community as well as showing their direction for the game with the dev blogs. I feel that Gaslamp is quite a professionally ran indie studio that I think knows what they're doing.

    If this were Gaslamp Game's first game then I would be a bit more weary, I probably wouldn't buy into the early access and would rather wait. But as of right now I'm trusting that they will deliver. :)
  15. Alistaire

    Alistaire Member

    On the other hand I wouldn't trust Gaslamp Games without early access because part of their sanity is lost through internal knife fights. If the entire (paying) community gets to spectate, place bets and comment on their now public knife fighting we might just help make the game more stable.
  16. I'm pretty good at picking winners in knife fights, not gona lie.

    When in doubt crazy wins out.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2014
    Haldurson likes this.
  17. To have an actually response to the thread. It all boils down to money. I really really dislike the phased system that gal civ and planetary annihilation used. They had a "kick starter" excuse to charge people lots of money at the start of releasing the game with little to no development in the beta stage of development. Then lowered the price as time went on and they added more stuff to the game.

    But to be captain obvious the game isn't out yet on early access. There is a quite impressive archive of dev blogs (I'm still looking through them backwards in time) that while not offering specifics on almost anything they're very whimsical which I like. Once they start talking about money and releasing the game to the unwashed masses then we have to talk about shitty gamer things like "balance" and "how you should do things".
  18. Wootah

    Wootah Member

    I am not worried and let me tell you why. I think that early access is a great because it gives me a way to put money into the Developers hands, something that I am quite eager to do, which boils down to some of the other reasons. The Devs here are FAR better in communicating with us than any other developer I have known for any of the games I have followed. That includes forum posts and a weekly dev blog (not to mention IRC which I have only visited a few times). Seeing results in the Dev blog itself shows how consistently they are working on the game. The rate of how quickly the game gets polish is far more important to me than the state it is in as it gets that polish (early access vs post release patch).
  19. Moonblink

    Moonblink Member

    Way to much thought went into this post and thread..... As posted above it helps developers by giving the funds to develop the game.
  20. Fruit

    Fruit Member

    Awhile ago I worked in a kitchen. A waiter told me that he'd take care of the dishes, instead he took a short break. I kept cooking and making sure everyone had their fill. And the more I cooked, the more dishes piled up. I didn't feel like the dishes were a high priority until I realized I had no plates to serve the food on. The waiter had finished his short break quite some time ago by this point, but since I had just kept churning out food to what seemed like an endless amount of customers, he had been busy clearing tables.

    You can see where this is going, right? I was busy getting the customers their food. He was busy making room for them. Now, I'm sure that I could have taken a bit of time to clear the dishes without causing anyone any problems. But instead, since I was so sure that I didn't need to spend my time doing that, I did something I enjoyed more and was better at. And so did he.

    In this case, the waiters promise of time is early access. We are the developers, the customers are the players, the food is the content and the dishes are a mix of bugs, secret deadlines and Q&A.

    So what does this mean? What am I trying to say to you? Well, having more money from Early Access or kickstarters doesn't equal more produced content. I cooked just as many meals as I would if I had taken care of the dishes. Except I was providing quicker service than I otherwise would have.

    You might say "Just hire someone else" but remember that it takes time, effort and resources to find a new hand. And I wasn't aware I needed someone on the dishes. Neither will devs be when they are just focusing on adding all the cool content to keep the players happy.

    And don't get me wrong, this is a good thing. But not if the base game still suffers from frequent wipes, poor optimization and client instability. And I can guarantee that Gaslamp Games have found themselves "cooking" instead of doing the "dishes" more than a couple of times themselves. But early access is difference. Early access is the cooking equivalent of Rush hour.

    Keep in mind that it doesn't matter if you trust the developer. I trusted myself with getting my work done, and you know what happened when the tunnel-vision struck.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2014