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Posted: Sat May 02, 2009 3:32 am
by Feud
I'm glad to hear that IV is still making it, I was a bit worried about it's future. I've seen a lot of small businesses fall into the same pit they did, lavish spending in good times and rapid growth, only to get nailed once things slow down. Glad they've found a way to survive.

Posted: Sat May 02, 2009 9:06 pm
by The GoldFish
RabidZombie wrote:About the beta testing, the process certainly has to be improved. The whole blame can't be placed on the testers.


I don't think there is really any blame to be placed; it was simply a blind spot.

I would also consider looking at greenhouse, but it's possible that IV have a clause in their deal with valve to restrict them from using other digital distribution networks.

For those who were in the beta, here's a link to the thread where the control scheme change was announced. There's some interesting discussion there, for those who don't remember it ;-;

edit it's interested to see people's attitudes at first in the thread. I think if we'd heard the exact story given here, things might have been a little different...

Posted: Sun May 03, 2009 11:23 am
by martin
It's interesting reading through that thread, of course I can't really make any comment on it :(

And placing the blame with the beta tester is dependant upon what you think our purpose is/was. I don't report on whether or not I like the game, I just report bugs - I would consider that the point of a beta tester, so in at least my case I'd never have reported an issue with the control scheme (although I did rather like the old one).

Maybe for the next beta we should have our role explained a little more closely to us ;)

Posted: Sun May 03, 2009 1:30 pm
by darthkiwi
If beta testers' roles are twofold (report bugs and feedback on the game itself) then maybe something like the following system would work:

Beta testers play a few matches and are then presented with a form to fill in. It asks them to comment on all aspects of the game, so sound, art, controls, GUI, AI, graphics, performance, story (if applicable) and maybe even multiplayer game-matching and so on. That way, if you include all aspects of the game, you're less likely to have blindspots like this control scheme problem.

Of course, the form would have to be easy and convenient to fill out. Perhaps if it actually popped up in-game after they'd finished a few matches almost like a "Buy this game!" popup you get with a demo.

Then the beta-testers would continue to play and test the game. They would report any bugs as normal. If they had any more thoughts about the quality of the game (ie. if they think of something else to put on the form) they can call the form back up and put it down.

Of course, this system has a number of problems - most notable being that die-hard introversion fans (the most likely to be beta testers) are probably going to prefer esoteric control schemes to most people (and, of course, you'd need the interest of "most people" in order to make enough money for your game).

EDIT: This is just me spouting more self-important wisdom - sorry! - but it occurs to me that you could get lots of feedback on the quality of the game (eg. controls) by putting a form-filling-in system into the game's demo. So, on that system:

1) You release a beta to a select group of testers. They feedback as they did with Multiwinia.
2) You then release a (relatively) bug-free demo to the whole internet. People play it, and when they quit (or at another appropriate place) they are asked for their opinion on all aspects of the game (art, graphics, controls etc.)
3) Armed with the continuing feedback from the beta-testers, as well as the information you gather from the public demo, you then build the final version of the game. This would have less bugs and would hopefully iron out any major flaws (such as controls).
4) You then release a "proper" demo and the fully finished game.

This system would mean that you'd be able to get feedback from quite a few people, whether they're die-hard introversion fans, or just curious about the game, without having to give out betas left right and centre. The disadvantage, of course, is that it's a little complicated (which means something can and will go wrong) and it also adds time to the development process as a whole, which isn't good since indie dev companies need to perk up their income regularly with timely releases.

Sorry if this is just self-important I'm-more-clever-than-you talk :oops: I just thought I'd throw it out there on the offchance.

Posted: Sun May 03, 2009 2:00 pm
by jelco
I'm not sure releasing a non-finished demo to the public is a good idea, but I'd second the form idea. A lot of people might be too shy to report certain bugs or annoyances, or afraid that others will butcher them for speaking up, but a form would bring in every opinion and also means that you rarely forget to report anything (otherwise you can go "I should report that later" and have forgotten about it 10 minutes later).

The main issue is of course that the forums might go with little discussion, while I think the discussion is one of the most important aspects of beta tester feedback. Perhaps you could create a system where all filled out forms are available to all testers on a website (maybe anonymously) so people can occasionally page through them and start topics based on that. Most importantly, while adding stuff to the testing procedure is a good thing in my opinion, it shouldn't be a replacement of the current procedure.

Jelco

Posted: Sun May 03, 2009 7:15 pm
by The GoldFish
I would say that almost all of that is far too late in the development cycle. Plus it might impact deals with the press, and we know how important that is.

Also, I'm pretty sure IV *know* what it is they've been missing now that they've seen the rigorous feedback they've been getting while they've been pushing Darwinia+.

Posted: Sun May 03, 2009 10:15 pm
by Feud
I don't think it's fair to lay too much blame on the testers.

Let's be honest, while Multiwinia is quite fun it lacks the innovation, atmosphere, originality, and in many ways the charm of the first three IV games. Certainly production/marketing issues hurt it's sale, but I would put the larger blame on the game itself. Not that it's a bad game, I quite enjoy it, but that it's a RTS game in a sea of RTS games with very little to make it stand out from the competition.

Posted: Mon May 04, 2009 11:25 am
by martin
I disagree with Feud.

I can't think of any other RTS quite like multiwinia.

DS

Posted: Mon May 04, 2009 11:57 am
by maninalift
I really hope you get a new deal for defcon DS, that sounds like it would work really well and could be a big seller.

Posted: Mon May 04, 2009 2:57 pm
by estel
martin wrote:I disagree with Feud.

I can't think of any other RTS quite like multiwinia.


That's very different from there being nothing to make it stand out from other titles in the field. Games seem to stand-out more through having a complete package of being amazingly fun, polished and atmospheric rather than just being "different" from other titles.

Posted: Mon May 04, 2009 8:54 pm
by martin
This is true.

In fact I was having a similar discussion with a friend of mine, someone over at the XNA forums said "polish doesn't make a game, lack of it simply destroys a game" - you need a good idea and a well polished game. Saying that, while multiwinia has had a few issues it is both different from the crowd and fairly well polished.
I'd disagree about the atmospheric, a lot of really big games need to be atmospheric (by big I mean games you play for a long time, or try to communicate a serious storyline), multiwinia does neither...

Then again, I do agree that multiwinia is the least innovative introversion game...

Posted: Mon May 04, 2009 9:01 pm
by Feud
martin wrote:I'd disagree about the atmospheric, a lot of really big games need to be atmospheric (by big I mean games you play for a long time, or try to communicate a serious storyline), multiwinia does neither...


What I meant by it was that when I first played uplink I got a real thrill and sense of urgency as I tried to get it done in time. I felt like I was really hacking (though this might be because I don't know what ti's like to really hack).

When I played Darwinia I really cared for my DGs, I tried each mission to keep as many alive as possible because I didn't just want them to win, I wanted each one to survive.

When I played DEFCON I was actually disturbed at first, the cold sterility of the game combined with the haunting music and disconnected killing creeped me out. Each time I won I also felt kinda bad about what had happened.

But with Multiwinia I was entertained, but that's it. I didn't care for my men, they were means to an end. I didn't care about their motives or struggles, there were none. I didn't care if they died, more would pop out soon enough. I didn't feel like a caretaker or a protector, I was just someone playing a game. Yes, it's fun, but it just didn't' deliver the experience the others did.

Posted: Tue May 05, 2009 9:56 am
by martin
I agree, Multiwinia isn't atmospheric as the other introversion games - however my point was that multiwinia *does* have a lot that makes it stand out of the crowd. Atmosphere isn't one of the things required to make a game stand out (although, as you say, it does make games much more fun/disturbing)

Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 9:00 pm
by Lukasek79
What I meant by it was that when I first played uplink I got a real thrill and sense of urgency as I tried to get it done in time. I felt like I was really hacking (though this might be because I don't know what ti's like to really hack).

When I played Darwinia I really cared for my DGs, I tried each mission to keep as many alive as possible because I didn't just want them to win, I wanted each one to survive.

When I played DEFCON I was actually disturbed at first, the cold sterility of the game combined with the haunting music and disconnected killing creeped me out. Each time I won I also felt kinda bad about what had happened.

But with Multiwinia I was entertained, but that's it. I didn't care for my men, they were means to an end. I didn't care about their motives or struggles, there were none. I didn't care if they died, more would pop out soon enough. I didn't feel like a caretaker or a protector, I was just someone playing a game. Yes, it's fun, but it just didn't' deliver the experience the others did.


wow, i have almost exactly same feelings especially about Darwinia and Uplink ( i still launch it form time to time do some mission for the thrill of it ) and Defcon has it charm as Faud stated, and Multiwinia - i felt nothing really, it's probably great game but it is still not the game that i wanted to play.

Posted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 11:07 pm
by herrzitrone
hi introversion guys,

I just stumbled over your blog entry and I really feel sad about your economic situation. I hope it will get better.
However, I can understand, why things did not play out that well with multiwinia, the marketing was really bad.

First of all, i´m not a gamer kid. I play casually when I have a couple of hours and I´m bored. So this way I probably have a different perspective then most of the other users here (I´m also quite old :D). I always liked your games, since they are a bit underground and creative and remind me of my good old days of atari and c64 gaming. I purchased all of the games and had great fun with each piece of software.

When it comes to multiwinia, the most annoying thing was the steam deal. I really looked forward to the game since I enjoyed darwinia so much, so I purchased it directly via credit card in your online shop a couple of days after the release. The lobby had a few players and I hoped it will fill up quickly. I got a couple of friends playing the demo, but then you offered the game via steam. There were major improvements in the steam version (achievements) which did not find their way to the original version. Even worse, there was no link to the player community, so there were basically two groups: the steam players (all of my friends) and the idiots, who purchased the original version after release (me).
I invited all of my friends to play multiwinia and now I´m not able to play against them. WTF?!

Don´t get me wrong, I´m not flaming here. Multiwinia is a great game and I wasted the whole summer 2008 playing it against the computer.
But opposed to Darwinia and Uplink, the game is a multiplayer game. it dies and lives with the community, that is playing it. it is simple, there are no upgrades, tech trees, sophisticated tactics or advanced micro in MW, so the whole fun comes with online play against other users. have a look at battlenet...there are still some nerds(including me), who play starcraft from time to time. the reason is not the game. it´s old and everyone knows the mechanics. the reason is community.
So while the game mechanics of MW are simply brilliant, the major flaw is the lack of a good lobby, so a large community can grow. I´m not saying here, that an introversionnet has to be constructed, that would be way to expensive, but if you knew the lobby, that came with the first release, you know, what I mean.

I completely stopped playing MW, since everyone is on steam and I really don´t want to purchase the game a second time. This really disappoints me.

For any other game, that will be released in the future I have the following suggestions. From my own experience as a marketer, I can tell, that a good product alone won´t make you money.
The most important thing is, that you get the avalanche rolling. You need to create a community, that is able to suck in new users (e.g. some of my friends told me about PKR, the online poker room. I´ve never heard of them before, but after a couple of weeks we were around 20 ppl. who played penny games regularly).
It´s fine to tell the hardcore fan community via magazines or blogs, that you are out with a new game, but those guys will buy the product anyway. You need to create a new customer base.
One way could be via online marketing. It´s the cheapest form. Spread out the word, employ a professional blogger, who crossposts all over the popular boards and blogs. No need to pay for ads, guerrillia marketing is free. If I wasn´t a satisfied customer looking forward to subversion, I wouldn´t even know of your blog.

That would be the first phase, the little snowball. To make the product popular, you need a fanbase, that sucks in newbies. A good online network (rankings, leagues and so on) is necessary for online games, an easy scenario builder for singleplayer games. I remember a crappy flash adventure, that got played a couple of million times per month, just because you were able to create your own levels and upload them to the website, so other players could solve them-->strong community-->word of mouth propaganda-->lots of clicks-->lots of money.

A special thing, that comes to my mind, is ingame advertising or sponsoring. especially with subversion this could be a cool way to make some money.
a city has so many natural advertising panels, that it would be a waste not to use them. Of course that does not mean, that you should place coke and IBM ads all over the place, but some well placed gamer specific brands won´t hurt the eye, but could the game look even more cool.
Depending on the gameplay, there are many more opportunities. For example, imagine a citymap powered by google earth. Or for example, let some architecture offices create buildings for the game and place their banners on those buildings. This could open up the game to a whole new target group (urban planners and architects). Even better, this could lead to a nice cross - marketing situation, where you don´t get money from the ingame ads, but your own brand is advertised on the architects websites. Actually, if you do a brainstorm, there will be many more ideas to advertise in a clever way, that even enriches the game.
Remember the car of Will Smith in IRobot?? For most people, it was a really cool feature of the movie...and noone cared, that it was constructed by the engineers of AUDI. Think about that.

I could imagine, that I get flamed to death by the idealists and hardcore fangroups here, who are against commercialising a niche product.
But on the other hand, if you had the choice of either introversion getting nuked by a shitload of debts or enjoying even more cool games of a finacially healthy company, what would you choose??

Finally I have to say, that you guys really make good software products, that are fun to play around with. You are very creative engineers. Why the hell don´t you get a guy, who does creative marketing for you. It doesn´t even have to be expensive. I once had a nice coup going for a start up online trading company. We stenciled the advertising text on pieces of old newspaper and payed two girls a couple of drinks in exchange for dealing out our flyers in a posh club. cost: 80.-€ all in (60.-€ for the drinks), revenue:about 120 leads for our customer...