by Christian Allen, Serellan LLC
To be honest, I am not sure. I haven't played any of Takedown (nor any of the other games I have back here on kickstarter or the ones I have purchased on Steam as of late, well better part of a year). I want to play them, but I don't seem to have the time. So, I am not sure if I would back the game or any other game for that matter at this point in time. I will need to view the videos you linked and give a proper response.
You know... in the postmortem video, if you took more responsibility for the game failing (rather than running off a list of reasons/people you believed cause it to fail) then it'd be easier to get behind future projects you guys would work on.
By now, anyone investing into game related Kickstarter projects should know making games is hard. A lot of people already understand that. But you guys, more than anyone, should have understood that, especially with your backgrounds. Between having multiple teams, a language barrier, poor QA and no long term support, why should anyone have any confidence in you guys managing another project? As I said, you guys weren't exactly new to the process.
There are more than a few great Kickstarter games that did not have any of the issues you seemed to have had, even some that had less of a budget (and let's not forget, you guys set your budget, a budget that was met). Those games didn't have such problems because fundamentally those games were not flawed.
What really gets me is the state Takedown is being left in. Especially with the AI. I can't say I'd be supporting any new projects.
To be honest I think his stance is perfectly fine. Although I haven't bothered to see the post-mortem yet to see exactly what he says. This Kickstarter was always transparently advertised as being "$200,000 will bring TAKEDOWN to Alpha." We were never promised anything more than that, apart from investors being very likely there. The impression I got was that the investors and general sales never followed through quite as Serellan hoped. To expect a company to continue to support a game far past their budget is to be honest, just stupid. It is annoying yes, but to think it reflects personally on the people involved? Just strange attitude in my opinion. If they had been flushing the money down the loo, or smoking cubans daily, then I might say it reflects on the people involved. However that doesn't seem to be the case.
For those that bought the game on Steam, I can fully see their annoyance. Takedown was never really a complete game, but was sold as such. However backers of the Kickstarter should have no complaints.
To follow up, I think the Early-Access model is terrible. Very few games seem to have succeeded with it. I would say it is riddled with far more failures and broken-promises than Kickstarter.
I won't be backing any project you are involved with.
Takedown was a huge failure. The post mortem video was an embarrassment.
Nothing more than attributing blame on everything else but not on the real reasons it was so bad, i.e. the people involved making the game.
Despite having legitimate backgrounds in the gaming industry, for whatever reason, mis-managment, lack of good people skills etc. you were not able to bring this project to a positive finish.
I am not confident you can pull another project together and end it in a positive way. The tech you are planning to use will be old, the tactical elements will be overstated and the finesse will be non existent.
I am not backing another project for those reasons.
Thank you for your frank and honest comments. Appreciate you taking the time.
Takedown was a disappointment, but Serellan's considerate dialogue and willingness to listen to the community has been top notch, you guys really give a damn. I get the impression and imagine you're all the wiser with small studio production after Takedown, but I'm still a little worried about another crowd funded bash. Please don't overscope, and if you go the early access route put out something small, solid, enticing and that can be built upon. There's been too many early access games that have pitched big concepts and hit a production and funding wall, I'd really hate for that to happen you guys. Otherwise I wish everyone all the best with it and hope it goes well, looking forward to seeing more.
Thanks Alexander, great points.
I know many people have decidedly stressed their disappointment in the game and though I can't comment directly, I do feel that people have a tendency to nick pick items to death than look at the overall experience.
I recall initially backing Chris Taylor game, Wildman. One of my all time favorite games is Total Annihilation. I was more than eager to back his project to potentially play another Chris Taylor game. I was living in past nostalgia, but I let that nostalgia cloud my judgement. Ultimately, Chris cancelled the kickstarter campaign for many reasons, but one of the items that was revealed success of kickstarter was requirement to get additional backing. Just as with Takedown, there was a hidden element of funding that the community did not know about and deeply impacted the game. Would Takedown succeeded with the help of the Angel investor? Who know, perhaps, but it is a watershed moment. The game's pledge goal should not rely upon a hidden investor as the move is too risky. If there is an investor it should be stated up front, IMHO.
I live in the software world, embedded (aerospace/safety), all too often management see India as a great opprotunity to outsource work for cheap. Even after failure and even more failures they continue to use them expecting the team they worked with to grow in experience thus actually deliver the next time around. The problem is that people are shuffled very quickly, either moving up on the ladder or working on other projects. In the end, it is always a complete failure. I have seen it work to a degree of success, but it requires some of their team to work in the states and act as a liaison between the company and the outsourced group.
I find that goals are a horrible idea as they introduce feature scope. Generally, I have seen goals as a way to attract people to a campaign in order for that campaign to succeed, but ultimately causes issues.
Be proud that you have released a game to the community, for good or bad. I have backed my fair number of campaigns and some still haven't delivered after more than two years with very little updates.
I too hate early access. It tends to create animosity within the people that have backed the project very early, but folks on Steam are allowed early access. Granted there are tiers for this purpose, but I hate the idea.
I do find it a bit surprising that you didn't feel (or know) that Steam was a content delivery system with a built-in DRM. People have complained about Steam's DRM or years and years, so I find it very hard to believe you did not know better being a game content creator.
In the end, would I back another project, perhaps. Though at this point I am backing less and less software related projects that I have before. Not that they are great, good, or bad. I just haven't played any of them. This include Planet Annihilation, Wastelands 2, Dead State, and Project Eternity. I may back your next project, but it depends upon what the game is and would need to see the video pitching the idea.
In closing, you have my deep respect for posting the postmortem and people may cite that you are shifting the focus from yourself and redirecting it, but I don't feel that way. You referenced the areas that were of issue and that is taking responsibility of those actions, IMHO.
First of all, I am one of the people who do not dislike Steam, as a Content Delivery System I find it very convenient. The DRM aspect I find neither intrusive or underhand, but as I sit at a desktop 99% of the time it's 'always on' nature works well with Steam. There is a vocal outcry against Steam, but there are also a lot of people who like it too. I suppose you will need to cater for both!
As for Early Access, I think it is a great way of funding a game and as long as it is stated in the Kickstarter (if you do one) that Early Access is going to be leveraged then I don't see this as a reason not to do it. The problem with Early Access is that there is a vocal majority of people who either do not understand it, or are not ready for it (this is customers, not developers). I think to release a game to Early Access, as a developer, you need balls of steel and a Teflon coating. Your goals need to be known up front and your plan watertight - you also need to 'see through the chaff' to work out what the real problems are if you engage with the public on the Steam forums. I say, 'if you engage', the problem being that you have to engage as these people are your publicity and will dictate whether you succeed or not.
As for external funding, as long as this is stated up front in your Kickstarter, then I don't see it as a problem. People forget that Kickstarter was originally intended to allow developers to get some sort of funding that they would not or could not get from other avenues. This 'funding' is often never enough to build a product but enough to convince bigger 'investors' that there is both interest and profit in the idea. Unfortunately a lot of people now seem to use Kickstarter as a 'pre order' system without risk and as such, the ethos is steadily being eroded and the expectation levels are increasing. If you use KS again, you need to manage this!
As for Project PI - I will probably not pledge, mainly because my interests lie elsewhere these days and not because of my experience with Takedown. I pledged for Takedown knowing what I was doing, the game got to Alpha as promised and even developed into a published game (which was more than the Kickstarter actually promised), I pledged to help you make a game, that objective succeeded.
Someone said earlier that developers don't realise how hard it is to make a game, as a developer myself (not games) this made me smile. My experience is that it is the customers who often don't realise how hard it is to make a game (or most software). When I look at a game, no matter how good or bad it is, I can see the work that went into it! Having said this, it seems that there were a fair few lessons you had to learn during Takedown - I am sure these lessons will help you in the next project!
I wish you all the very best of luck.
eh... I don't know. You seem pretty incompetent and delusional. I'm gonna take a wait and see approach. So far it's a pass from what I've seen of Pi.
I would love to see a Swat 4 style game, which AI is most important to, but gadgets are a close second, plus lots of guns a personal preference of mine, though not too important for a good game, I think.
I personally am willing to do Early Access, but am probably thinking that most people will not be agreeing with that for obvious reasons. A more complete product nonetheless should be done on either platform, either Kickstarter or Early Access. Early Access with a complete product and good early reception would hopefully give you the funding and reinstate the trust lost due to bad things that have happened.
I also think that the game itself should contain ways for people to contact the developers. This leaves the potential for a lot of hostility reaching you, though if the game is in a good state when released, it might allow a more direct dialog and instant feedback.
Usage of Steam should be mandatory and people who do not like Steam might be considered after it has been completed. Feedback on the Steam forums and communication with the people there is crucial and can help build trust and a bigger following.
I am not interested in any futuristic shooter. While this might give you more freedom with interesting ideas and less trouble with some problems (weird AI), I will not go into a non-now tactical shooter by default. The video you showed was interesting, but not enticing. I always feel a bit bored when I do not face other human adversaries, who have the same strengths and flaws as I do as a player. Having the AI be smart, using the map and gadgets they have to their advantage always makes me feel rather good when feeling, which does not happen when I mow down an AI robot opponent, no matter how smart he is. That, plus potential gore and hilarious ragdoll and death animation mishaps.
Something unrelated, but not really. You should maybe try to make a small game that you want to make. Look at for example the game "Due Process". It is basically a fast paced tactical shooter with a nice gimmick and looks like it has a lot of potential. I am not sure if this is viable for the studio size and it is probably not profitable. Just an idealistic thought probably. :(
Dear Christian and Serellan Team, sorry to hear about all your troubles and all the hate you've been receiving. I can only speak for myself, but I would have no problem backing your company again.
Right now it would probably be wise to continue with Project Pi and come back to a new shooter later on. Hopefully it will go better this time around with your newfound wisdom, harshly though it may have been acquired.
Best of luck to you guys in the future, I will be looking out for your future projects, stay strong and don't give up.
With best regards from someone who have not given up on you! :)
I honestly would suggest you not try and create a new game. This was the only Kickstarter project I have ever regretted funding. That being said I did find many of the environments to be interesting.
I personally believe your team's talents may work better in a partnership/merger with another team that may help compliment your artistic and technical strengths.
What I found most egregious was that you delivered a product that was not what was promised. I would rather that you had failed to deliver entirely than to deliver a product that was not remotely similar to the pitch for the original game.
I do sincerely wish you and your team well - the amount of money I lost was trivial - and I would buy a future finished product from you if you are able to more completely deliver in the future.