2008 in Hindsight, part 3 of 3

The only place you'll ever hear the truth
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jelco
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Postby jelco » Wed Apr 29, 2009 8:30 pm

elDiablo wrote:You're joking, right? It got to the point where it was me, Mark and Vic in the Hamster regularly (when I first started at IV), and we'd all be in different rooms on different floors. The best thing was when the internet died, and Vic and Mark had to come upstairs so that we could all network off Mark's mac with his 3G card. We actually saw each other!

Oh, I know the Hamster as a building was huge, but I was referring to the office where we spent most of the time in the Hamster on the day of the MLP (which would be this room, I think). It seemed cramped for the developers at least. ;)

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*Chron*
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Postby *Chron* » Wed Apr 29, 2009 8:53 pm

So guys, as a regular reader of your blog (but no regular writer at your forum :)) , and a fanmate of your games since Darwinia i´ve been totally smashed to learn how
close to the edge you´ve been. I really enjoyed your games, so much, and still believe in your extravagant and unique style in game design, art and concepts...
....and your position in the gaming industry. I think you fit pretty well in between the very small and the very big businesses, but i can imagine how hard to define one´s own company place is, if there are
any kinds of examples lacking.

To be honest with you, Multiwinia on PC didn´t rock my mouse. Played the demo once and thats it been. Back then in August last year i did put it under "not in the mood now".
I really loved your Darwina and think to publish the singleplayer + multi at a completely different platform like the xbox 360 a pretty good idea because i think a lot of players back then
just didnt have darwinia at their schedules the time its been coming out. To release it at xbox live hits some completely other kind of audience, and a much bigger one for shure.
At xbox live you dont have to search for indy, you dont even have to know it is existing, it hits you right in the face :)

I´ll hold my thumbs tight for you guy´s that this works that pretty that your funding situation eases (something im quite shure of).
Looking forward to new blog posts and awesome games.

Keep up your heads,

Cheers,

*Chron*
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Postby Nutter » Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:37 pm

While I knew things wern't all "happy sunshine power ftw ruler of fantasy land awesome" (... or just good) at IV HQ, I had no idea things were "look for a new job" bad. Its good to hear that you're positive abut the future and I look forward to hearing more about subversion and things to come. Hopefully this will end up as yet another story about that time long ago when Introversion nearly went bankrupt and closed.
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Postby Taedal » Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:11 pm

So scarey to think that subversion might not make it. Survive to rlease that and all will work - I think it looks groundbreaking.

It's also interesting how things pan out. Never will I forget the lambasting I received from this forum here when I dared to suggest Defcon can and would work on the DS. Thanks for proving them wrong, lets hope you find a publisher![/url]
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Postby cheesemoo0 » Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:44 pm

I am really surprised things got that bad and are not exactly great now. I'm glad things are on the up and up.

I hope you guys the best.
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The GoldFish
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Postby The GoldFish » Thu Apr 30, 2009 10:58 am

Way to rip me off ;-;

Image

circa 2005.

I'm not surprised that things got as bad as they did, and really, things didn't get that bad in the grand scheme of things. IV is a small business, and could have quickly have gone belly up. Small businesses go belly up all the time, especially if they have such long intervals between the majority of their income. I think it's a credit to IV for keeping themselves together and continuing to do what they do.

Plus remember, how many indie game dev houses ever really go on to make more than even one game?

I'm not sure you can depend on just free, community beta testers any more, and I expect that you've seen this already working with MS to get the game on the 360. It's worth getting "our" opinion, but, many of people who stick around don't seem to be the core of your target audience any more; I imagine that quite a few people signed up to beta multiwinia and got put off by the controls and just went away and never gave you the feedback in those early stages. Really I think there's something to take away from it:

Be creative with the story, with the graphical style, even the gameplay, but always look out to make sure that your interface and controls are as accessible as possible, to the point of being generic.

I'm sure you're already quite aware of that, and that message has really hit home at this point.

The feedback I guess you needed there is the sort of immidiete and bold feedback that you will often not get back from us. Not because we're not trying to be hepful, but because the people who fealt that probably lost interest almost immidietly, and the people who're still around didn't really notice the problem. You probably didn't get a clear message on the gesture system in Darwinia (although that was a design choice), which you later ended up removing to make the game more accessable. The gesture system didn't really improve the game, it was almost needless, but many of your testers could pick it up and work with it; it was pretty transparent to us, but, it was a major barrier to a lot of people. I think you were basically depending on us to tell you something we just couldn't really put our finger on, convey, or really even notice, and those that did probably just left right away - you just couldn't see them leaving.
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Postby skull13 » Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:59 pm

Its sad, and now I understand what Defcon DS is for. I had my suspicions, but I never thought it got that bad. I guess that in the end, it all adds up to how much you're in the black/red.
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Postby ynbniar » Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:33 pm

Picking up on The Goldfish’s post about beta testing, I also wonder, with the benefit of hindsight, if community testing can result in problems.

This community aren’t slow to voice their opinion but when it comes to testing Introversion games I wonder if there is a danger that we see things thought IV tinted goggles. We might be a bit slow and reluctant to criticise certain elements of the game, simply because we are fans of IV or perhaps because we are not sure if the beta is a bug hunt or more of a play test/ is this game any good exercise? (or perhaps we were afraid of Icepick :wink: )

Perhaps 2 groups are needed…bug hunters and devils advocates (this is starting to sound like a TWG scenario :wink:). The second group would simply feedback how they feel playing the game, how fun elements are, where and when does it stop being fun or exciting, that sort of thing.

Perhaps you've tried this already, or maybe that’s giving over too much creative responsibility– after all it’s your game, your vision.
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New guy, can you tell?

Postby SatansBestBuddy » Thu Apr 30, 2009 5:05 pm

Hey, I just wandered on over here from Kotaku, and read your blog expecting it to end with, "and that's how we closed our doors, thank you and goodbye."

Instead, you end with, "and that's that, but we're not done yet, we're gonna keep going till we can't go any further!"

And that inspired me enough to sign up and say that I'll be buying Defcon DS day one, and I'm already downloading the demos to both Darwinia and Multiwinia off of Steam, and given what other people have said about these games in this thread, I'd expect that bean counter of yours to go up one more number today, too.

It's great to hear that some companys aren't complete pansies who'd close up shop and run away when things get tough and they still have something to save, but that you guys are gonna keep going till you can't, even with an ongoing economic depression and uncertainty about what's going to happen.

Ballsy, comendable, and I salute you.

Best of luck!
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Postby jelco » Thu Apr 30, 2009 5:50 pm

I realized today that I found this to sound somewhat similar to she putting Nights on hiatus. It all seems to be the whole biting-off-more-than-you-can-swallow scenario combined with some mistakes, wrong choices and bad luck.

Jelco
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Postby RagingLion » Thu Apr 30, 2009 6:49 pm

Just wanted to add to the beta-testing discussion mentioned by 'The Goldfish' and 'ynbniar', because it was something I had been thinking about as well.

I've not been a part of the beta-testing at IV before so don't know the ins and outs of how it functions and has functioned, but I just wanted to add that maybe there is a danger that those signing up will be IV fans and not be as objective as they might be. Also I would suggest core IV fans are probably able to put up with unusual control schemes (as an example) and other gaming oddities more than others since IV fans probably don't represent the mainstream and are more open new experiences.

I'm making a few assumptions there and I may not have expressed that well, but basically I have in my head the example of Valve who are very well known for bringing in random testers from early on and throughout the process of building their games - I get the impression they're not always the hardcore element either. Now maybe this is completely unfeasible for IV since they are so much smaller and work on a tighter budget and are under greater time pressure, but I at least want to throw out the idea that you might want to use testers earlier in the process to iron out blind spots you have during the dev process early. It could save a lot of time in the long run and help to make more accessible games. Also to get more random testers involved to get a greater level of objectivity - I don't how that would work or how Valve manages it, but it's an idea to at least explore since I think it's an important issue.
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Postby RabidZombie » Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:09 pm

About the beta testing, the process certainly has to be improved. The whole blame can't be placed on the testers. I certainly was not vocal of my opinions on the game itself. But that's because I didn't feel like it was my place in the beta test to say so (especially considering suggestions and comments were mostly met with silence). I would certainly have let my opinions been known had I known they'd actually be considered, but that's not the impression I got at all. As such, I just kept my eyes out for the bugs. If anything, it'd be nice if there was just better communication.

Although, I really didn't mind the control scheme beforehand, this was probably down to being used to Darwinia.
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Xocrates
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Postby Xocrates » Thu Apr 30, 2009 10:08 pm

To clarify a bit more on the Beta test matter: I think you guys are giving the testers functions that are a) not explicitly part of their role, and b) that they have more insight than they actually have.

To clarify, most companies have internal QA, which can often recruit random people, which will beta test games, but whose functions go much further than that.
Second, do not mix Beta test, with Usability test. Which as you can see for the Darwinia+ usability test will comprise of people being monitored under a lot more controlled conditions.

By the time the game hits a sort-of-public beta, the game is supposed to be pretty much final and only the last kinks need to be fixed. Testers can give feedback for changes that may or may not go through, but that isn't really their primary function.

Adding random people doesn't really work that well in finding major issues, because if someone has a problem with the game odds are they just stop playing and move to something else, probably without giving feedback.
Case in point, I believe that by the end of the Multiwinia Beta there were about 250 testers. I would be surprised if more than 50 ever actually posted (outside the credits thread, at least). This leaves the issue that although there were lots of random testers, for the most part only the veterans really participated (causing above mentioned issues like them being biased, or at least being familiar with the controls back from Darwinia).

Do not blame the active testers for not doing their job right, we had many discussions regarding balance and other changes (and at least one powerup was nerfed due to tester feedback (yes, there was one powerup worse than the pre-nerf ants nest)).
Sure, some testers did not do much, but don't blame IV or the active testers, it was not their fault.
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Postby Ace Rimmer » Thu Apr 30, 2009 11:16 pm

Xocrates wrote:... for the most part only the veterans really participated (causing above mentioned issues like them being biased, or at least being familiar with the controls back from Darwinia)

I believe I said something about the controls, though that might have been after the beta was over and the game started selling.
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Postby Wasgood » Sat May 02, 2009 2:38 am

Advertise more, that's all you need to do. I'd check with steam on a sale price and time.

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