Discussion - What has Gone Before

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warcabbit
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Discussion - What has Gone Before

We are a community, and that means we should share in the highs and lows. When we rise, you rise, when we fall, you fall. In this case, I feel you really do deserve to know why the Kickstarter’s delayed.

It’s getting closer every day, but it’s going to be a few days more, and it’s just time we lifted the curtain and said why, because to do anything less is not the behavior I’d expect of a project I run.

So, I’m going to try to tell the story as simply and as clearly as I can, without laying blame, and with as much objectivity as I can. I will skip over a lot of things, because I’m only going to hit the highlights.

It all started long, long ago, but it all came to a climax right at the end of July. There were two factions that had developed in the project, and they had very different visions. And, unfortunately, no matter how hard everyone tried, we just couldn’t keep them together.

We lost our Creative Director that day. The fallout from that took a while to shake out, but we also lost our Art Lead, and her second in command and third in command, our Gameplay Lead, and a few other people. Also at about that time, our Composition Lead was struck down by a crippling seasonal migraine attack.

At the same time, we were undergoing a reorganization, moving from Missouri to Washington State, as an incorporated entity.

Things got very messy for a number of days. Among other things, in an effort to make sure that the artists who might leave could maintain control of their art, the version tracking software that we use to maintain commentary and context for the art had all of the above commentary and context wiped out. We still had the art, but it was now unlabeled except by file name. So we had to figure out what it was for all over again.

The thing is, being a community is what saved us. People stepped up when the call came. I can’t thank our new Art Lead and Composition Lead enough for the simply heroic effort they’ve put in to recover what we have. I also am incredibly grateful that our game system designer has decided to stick with the project, because I’ve seen his work before, and I know we’re going to get something that is packed full of fun and interesting design.

It wasn’t over, though. Nothing ever is. We have come together, and we have worked long and hard. But things do continue happening, as they always do, and the bad ones hurt. Discovering the name we had planned for the game belonged to someone who made their living suing people for use of their trademark stung, but we could live with it. But when we looked at the Kickstarter Art and discovered that, while it was complete, the name that we no longer could use was essentially baked into much of the art, and needed to be carefully removed… Well, that one took a lot of time to fix.

And that’s not counting the predictably unpredictable disasters. People getting hundred-plus degree fevers. People falling down and hurting themselves badly. Family issues popping up. Burnout from overwork, as most of us are pulling 50 hour work weeks in our nine to five life, and then doing the same once we get home. Computer failures from being pushed too hard, too fast.

The games you get are optimized. In developer mode, you have textures that aren’t pruned, volumes that try to count infinity, and I’ll never forget the time I attempted to render a city block that I accidentally made five times the size of Manhattan. Obviously, it was completely unusable, but it _did_ finish three days later.

Other things happened. I’m skipping a number of events, including the ones that wound up with me ascending to project lead. They’re neither important nor urgent to know, merely administrative. We simply had some things go wrong, and some things go right, and many of them were just another blow to a boxer. But we can take the shots. We’ve gotten pretty good at it.

Still, by the 4th, we were ready to submit to Kickstarter. It was down to the line. I honestly don’t know if we submitted it on the 4th, 5th, or 6th, it’s all one of those blurs in my mind now. Some of you saw the partially uploaded version of the Kickstarter, and it was pretty okay. But not perfect. Well, we kept uploading things before the submit, and it kept looking better and better, and then we submitted it.

It took a while to come back. And there were changes Kickstarter asked for. And they were good changes. Our bios were a bit on the silly side. And the avatars we put in were far too large. But then, well, then they asked for something that was a real issue.

They asked for a gameplay trailer.

Now, I’m sure you all know our first release was supposed to be the costume designer. We don’t have the tools to make the tools to make gameplay yet. Or rather, we do, but they’re highly inefficient. But Kickstarter asked, and we said, “Well… you know what? We’re heroes. We’ll rise to the challenge.” And we are. We had to pull our efforts off the costume designer. We now have a hodge-podge of rigged pre-made character models, some better than others. But they work. And they’ll work well enough to show gameplay off. We’ve learned a lot from using these inefficient tools. Mostly that we would really like better ones, mind you. But it’s getting done. We’ve had to do things we had planned to do in the upcoming months, right away, push harder, and work smarter.

Still, it’s good for us.

Of course, as the course of things go, this means that the computer rendering the video is in a house in Texas that had the central air blow. And then promptly decided to die from overheating. But really, do you think that’s going to stop us? It’s back up, and running, and so are we.

We will have gameplay in our trailer. We will have a video for you, for our Kickstarter. We will make you proud of us. We are not pre-alpha. We are so far pre-alpha that alpha is a dream we all share. But still, there are things we can do, and things we will do.

All we need, really, is for you to open your heart and dream. We’ll do the rest.

- Warcabbit, Project Lead, City of Titans.

Roadkill
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I think this was a much needed update, thank you very much, Warcabbit =) We are heroes, nothing can stop us! =)

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Darth Fez
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I'm eager to see this game realized. That goes without saying. I'm here, after all.

If I have to wait for you guys to be able to get the game right, then eager gets locked in a box and stored at the back of the cellar. ("If", he says. What a comedian!) I've been around the block enough times to know that patience only stops being a virtue because it's become a necessity (that probably sounds even cornier to you than it does in my head, but I'm trying to be all inspirational and stuff, damn it).

Two truisms (mantras, if you're inclined to generosity) I mentioned the other day are, "You can't please everyone, especially not all the time" and "do what you need to do, not what others expect you to do". So, to repeat the point, you guys do what you have to do to get it right. The odd bout of impatience and frustration is nothing I won't survive.

Comicsluvr
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THIS is the kind of communication that CoX never had. Every time something got stalled, cancelled or set aside for some reason all we got from the Devs was 'Sorry, maybe next month.' Nobody wanted to tell us anything for fear of some titanic backlash from the players. Guess what...most of us are big kids who can take it. We understand that life throws you curves sometimes. Just TELL us and we'll think 'Ok...been there' and move on.

Thanks for keeping us in the loop. Sorry for all of the missteps but keep plugging away...we'll be here when you get there.

I remember when Star Wars was cool...a long, long time ago...

HarvesterOfEyes
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All things in their time. I will be very happy to see it when the time comes.

Get yourself right; the world has enough problems.

jag40
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Mad respect for coming out saying that. And now it's explained, I think more people will understand. +10 man.

Yeah crap happens, everyone, that I know of, knows this, but humans are not usually mind readers but the human brain is effecient at filling in the blanks even if it must be made with assumptions and and very little information.

See stuff like this, even if it looks mundane to others, get me more excited for kickstarter than the usual "Soon" answer.

Minotaur
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This is the kind of communication I was hoping this project would have, and has been a bit lacking up to now. Thanks for posting, but it would have been better to receive something like this a while ago.

Tech Team and Forum Moderator

Shadow Elusive
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Well, no one likes to talk about mistakes. Also, about huge frustrations when your' right in the middle of dealing with it...or still getting over it. I wouldn't have talked about it right off either.

Gangrel
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Thanks for posting this, It really *has* explained a lot of what happened, and as MInotaur has said, it would have been better received *something* like this to just quell worries (especially after people started getting tetchy about the kickstarter start date being missed).

((side note: From what was said on the MWM facebook page in response to my questions, it was actually the 4th September that the kickstarter was submitted. The "preview" went up early Saturday (7th September) ))

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1) I reject your reality.... and substitute my own
2) Not to be used when upset... will void warranty
3) Stoke me a clipper i will be back for dinner
4) I have seen more intelligence from an NPC AI in TR beta, than from most MMO players.

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Thank you for the explanation and the honesty about difficult times. In a way, it's reassuring to know that MWM has gone through something like this and come out the other side still functional.

---

Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for? - Robert Browning

jag40
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Indeed.

But I also see and understand what ShadowElusive said. Naturally people want to beat their drum about the good things the ups, but get skittish when it come time to breask the bad news.

It's good that both are shared, good, bad, ugly and the "WTF!" moments. Even when stuff goes bad though, not many people are going to eat your lunch for it, but if it's silence and or one too many "soons" then they may become irked antsy, or walk. A lot of people dont know what goes into making a game and think it's easy as pie as getting on a computer writing a few codes and *boom* you have a MMO hit because usually that is the communication they ever recieve. And based on that, how easy they think it is, they start to wonder when deadlines are missed or there is silence, can these guys pull it off and or what the hell are they doing?

I think of it like this. Driving on the road to work, a lot can happen. A terrible car accident happen and closes the road, now you're late and missed an important meeting with some potential investors.

Dont call, the meeting attendees may think ya wasting their time and take their millions somewhere else.

Call, explain what happened, and most of the time they might find no problem waiting around for you. And might be surprised at how many had the same experience before and creates a group laughing about it and making the meeting go even better than it was planned to go.

Call and simply say soon, many may not think ya professional and probably leave.

Wait until ya late, then get there, if they are still around they probably wont be in the best of mood, and even then if you explain what happened, they probably wont be as angry but will ask, "Why did you not call us earlier and tell us?" And usually the meeting will go on as planned although there might be some evil looks the first thirty minutes or so but usually it subsides.

Overall, keep up the good work. You can do it. Sometimes its better to take your time and delay and come out with excellent product/presentation instead of rushing and putting out something that isnt good. We all are here with ya, just let us know.

warcabbit
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Minotaur wrote:

This is the kind of communication I was hoping this project would have, and has been a bit lacking up to now. Thanks for posting, but it would have been better to receive something like this a while ago.

Well, besides the excuse of being really quite insanely busy, I was waiting for things to settle down. I hope we've reached a new normal, and we can continue on in this manner.

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Fulgin
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Thanks for posting this, Warcabbit. Much appreciated.

Justice Blues
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warcabbit wrote:
Minotaur wrote:

This is the kind of communication I was hoping this project would have, and has been a bit lacking up to now. Thanks for posting, but it would have been better to receive something like this a while ago.

Well, besides the excuse of being really quite insanely busy, I was waiting for things to settle down. I hope we've reached a new normal, and we can continue on in this manner.

It sounds like things have been normal. That's what SNAFU means isn't it? ;)

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Thanks for the update Warcabbit.

People really just like to know what's going on, even the bad. Most companies never seem to learn that.

Just so you know you're not alone in having setbacks, here's a couple of examples of other humorous mistakes for your amusement:

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120514/17243918918/how-toy-story-2-almost-got-deleted-except-that-one-person-made-home-backup.shtml

http://io9.com/5664390/5-times-we-almost-nuked-ourselves-by-accident

So unless you deleted the completed game or almost nuked your country . . .

Also remember there are others of us willing to put in work to push this game along if you need it.

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Tarakas wrote:

So unless you deleted the completed game or almost nuked your country . . .

Well.......... *drags toe in the dirt*

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Warsmith
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It's times like this that frustrate me to no end that the best I can offer is moral support.
You go guys, you rock!

If Brute Force doesn't work, you aren't using enough of it!

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Hang in there guys. It sounds like you have been put through the wringer, but it's also obvious you really care about this project.

And thanks for letting us know what's going on. While I have mentioned that updates are important, given the nature of what was happening, I also understand why you hesitated to post sooner. It's a PR balance beam you have to walk when promoting a project and asking for funding -- you can scare people off by being too open and also by being too closed. I don't envy you having to decide.

Now I hate to do this, but I feel I have to bring up a note of concern. This is the second time there seems to have been a major split in the efforts to develop a successor to CoX. Can you give us a general description of the philosophical differences between the two camps? When this happened the first time and the split was between TPP and HaV, we got a general idea of the reasons behind the split, and as potential investors we were able to choose which project we most wanted to follow.

A lot of us are here because of discussions we've read on the forums about what the game will be like. Are there any features or design decisions that had been made public but that will now no longer be part of the game, because their main proponents have left? I think we need to know before we decide to invest.

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1 eye archer
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Thank you for the update Warcabbit. As I have mentioned before I think it is the long period of silence after an expected event that drives us nuts. Even if it is just a short blurb of "Hey All, we are still alive & working on this, just a delay in_________." Can help ease tensions. I also agree with Cinder's request for what the game is gearing more towards as some of the others have gone on to their own way & again, thank you all for working on this. I have too much on my personal plate & lack the skill to work on this, but fully intend to support it as much as I can.

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Cinnder wrote:

Now I hate to do this, but I feel I have to bring up a note of concern. This is the second time there seems to have been a major split in the efforts to develop a successor to CoX. Can you give us a general description of the philosophical differences between the two camps? When this happened the first time and the split was between TPP and HaV, we got a general idea of the reasons behind the split, and as potential investors we were able to choose which project we most wanted to follow.

A lot of us are here because of discussions we've read on the forums about what the game will be like. Are there any features or design decisions that had been made public but that will now no longer be part of the game, because their main proponents have left? I think we need to know before we decide to invest.

I would be interested in knowing this as well. If some of the ideas that have been presented in the forums have changed with the departure of any of the volunteers, I think it would be relevant to know before investing any money.

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Cinnder wrote:

Hang in there guys. It sounds like you have been put through the wringer, but it's also obvious you really care about this project.

And thanks for letting us know what's going on. While I have mentioned that updates are important, given the nature of what was happening, I also understand why you hesitated to post sooner. It's a PR balance beam you have to walk when promoting a project and asking for funding -- you can scare people off by being too open and also by being too closed. I don't envy you having to decide.

Now I hate to do this, but I feel I have to bring up a note of concern. This is the second time there seems to have been a major split in the efforts to develop a successor to CoX. Can you give us a general description of the philosophical differences between the two camps? When this happened the first time and the split was between TPP and HaV, we got a general idea of the reasons behind the split, and as potential investors we were able to choose which project we most wanted to follow.

A lot of us are here because of discussions we've read on the forums about what the game will be like. Are there any features or design decisions that had been made public but that will now no longer be part of the game, because their main proponents have left? I think we need to know before we decide to invest.

The main difference in philosophy is in what kind of company we would be. A few wished for a traditional publisher or venture capital-funded route, which would require the excise of any community contributions from the project. The difference was not in features or design decisions, it was on the very idea of being a community-based game company itself. The main difference by their departure is that we will have a kickstarter, crowdfunding the effort, instead of letting go of the lions share of volunteers, the hiring of industry experts to replace them, removal of all contributed work, and signing on with a publisher to make the game to their standards.

There is nothing wrong with the publisher route, but it is not the right choice for a project founded by a community. We set up the corporation not to control the project, but to be the legal security for it. For the three people who left in order to pursue the private capital route, I wish them luck.

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Rezelius
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Thanks for the clarification Doctor. While I do agree that both routes have their own merits, I am glad that you guys have decided to stick with the community approach.
This way you can keep the vision for the game intact without a big Publisher requiring everything be their way. I'm sure once the Kickstarter goes Live, we will see how many lost heroes are looking for a new home.

Cinnder
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Thanks, Doc. That explains a lot. I, too, am glad you are staying with the community approach. Although a publisher can bring more resources into the picture, I think we all still feel the burn from what damage a publisher can do to a game.

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HarvesterOfEyes
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When there's a moment, could we get a run down of who's in charge of what now?

I put in a PM to one of the leads and I'm now wondering if the lack of response is due to their departure rather than just being really busy.

Get yourself right; the world has enough problems.

Minotaur
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HarvesterOfEyes wrote:

When there's a moment, could we get a run down of who's in charge of what now?

I put in a PM to one of the leads and I'm now wondering if the lack of response is due to their departure rather than just being really busy.

Who did you send the PM to ?

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warcabbit
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Cinnder wrote:

Now I hate to do this, but I feel I have to bring up a note of concern. This is the second time there seems to have been a major split in the efforts to develop a successor to CoX. Can you give us a general description of the philosophical differences between the two camps? When this happened the first time and the split was between TPP and HaV, we got a general idea of the reasons behind the split, and as potential investors we were able to choose which project we most wanted to follow.

A lot of us are here because of discussions we've read on the forums about what the game will be like. Are there any features or design decisions that had been made public but that will now no longer be part of the game, because their main proponents have left? I think we need to know before we decide to invest.

At the moment, I can't think of any features or design decisions that have been announced that have changed.

I have to be careful here, because the split was about personalities and leadership. The games that resulted, if they were successful, might have wound up looking similar. But there were some real differences about how to be successful.

Unfortunately, when you're dealing with volunteer projects, you wind up with people with strong personalities and strong drive, and sometimes they just don't work well with each other.

Our former creative director has had his own say on the matter, on Titan Network (which was deleted by TonyV) and on Facebook, which is still up. I'd rather not quote him directly.

This should bring you to it. Look for James Bishop, under What Has Gone Before.
https://www.facebook.com/MissingWorldsMedia?hc_location=timeline

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Doctor Tyche
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HarvesterOfEyes wrote:

When there's a moment, could we get a run down of who's in charge of what now?

I put in a PM to one of the leads and I'm now wondering if the lack of response is due to their departure rather than just being really busy.

The best people to message are WarCabbit and Mentalshock. With the Kickstarter coming up, I know I have a half-dozen people I need to get back with that I just have not had time to.

Technical Director

Cinnder
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Wow, Warcabbit -- no one could ask for more openness than posting a link to the comments of someone who left the project. Thanks for that. Although in different words, it does seem to confirm that the differences were not specifically about game issues and more about team structure.

Thanks again!

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warcabbit
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That is, in a very real sense, why I am now the project lead. I may tell you things that are technically true. ("We are not changing powers." (goes and changes enhancements) - you all remember that, I'm sure.) Or even things that are true from a certain point of view. ("Darth Vader killed your father.") but I will tell you everything I can, whenever I can.

I will not promise you things I am sure we can not deliver. I may, however, say that I hope we can deliver things, and then, sadly, all our hopes are dashed when it turns out not to be true.

This is how life goes.

But I will always push for the best and highest quality game I can get for you, because of one simple reason.

I remember how I felt playing City of Heroes. It'll never be the same for me again. But for some kid out there, it will be. I want to inspire a new era of players.

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Rezelius
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Warcabbit, you have earned a great deal of respect from me through all of the openness I have seen from you. I greatly appreciate you being as upfront and straightforward with us as you have been.

I too remember what it was like to step into Atlas park for the very first time and the feeling of playing in City of Heroes so I look forward to being able to bring new gamers into a world where they can feel the same.

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Told ya openess is the key to winning over the crowd, the good and bad. Look at how many likes the bad news got from the supporters. A lot more than "soon" and "wait". There are more people interested in the making of the sausage than the creators originally realized.

With this type of openess, you are now starting to set your self apart from the rest, the thousands of wanna be game makers many with more than few games under their belt that always say "soon" and "wait" and the corporations with millions upong millions of dollars that say "take a number".

Use this openess asa strength, because in many cases, you may be beat by experience even within independent game makers, may be beat by money, but many people consider open, honest, straight forawrd communication as priceless. It's a dying art as more and more creator independent and corporations alike get a complex of "I dont have to answer nor show respect to my backers/customers/consumers." and think they are dieties in the game world.

People go along because of what other choice do they have. Offer that choice and you'll make it. Keep it up. Consistant, and you'll win the most important part of finding success, winning the people.