A Personal Appeal By Ethan

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EthanC
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A Personal Appeal By Ethan

Postby EthanC » Sun Dec 15, 2013 12:48 am

On showing "new stuff".
There's nothing to show because for all intents and purposes, the Kickstarter did fail. It went over only because of a few generous people who put in a large amount of money but not as contributions; as loans to see that it went over the limit. Meaning, I was expected to give that right back imediately. Again, while thankful for the consideration, i'm left with the issue of less than $10K to feed up to a dozen mouths. To accomplish this, I elected to not draw a paycheck until we were in a position to start a new campaign, and also to redirect money that I hoped to go toward a ton of new assets to programming simply because it is the actual game features which are most in need.

I'd like to think that stretching it this far has been nothing less than a shining example of brutal efficiency and I assure you, has earned me no additional friends. My obligation however, is to the contributors and not the fly-bys. I promise you, there are no free handouts at Stained Glass Llama right now.

On making the development process go faster.
For this to happen, I need reliable help - Not the kind that works hard for two weeks then "burns out" and vanishes. To acquire that I'm doing everything in my power and beyond that. I've lobbied private investors and firms in both Oregon and Washington, attended job fairs and portfolio shows scouting for solid, usable talent who see the potential the prototype brought to the industry with the desire to make an actual career out of it and not just a quick buck then onto the next freelance job.

On giving out continual updates.
People want to know the intimate details of what's going on and they want me to put them in devblog posts, but you cannot do this for a multitude of reasons. The biggest of these is probably that I don't provide the general public with the gritty details of "how it's done" on any kind of regular basis simply because the truthful details of any typical day of mine would, quite frankly, crush anyone else who had to endure hearing about it.

People aren't normally conditioned to handle or operate in the kind of atmosphere that exists inside the development of an indie mmorpg. It's a constant state of hopelessness coupled with despair where the friends and acquaintances you make every single day will be gone the next, and you have to get used to it because making the project happen doesn't request, it requires that you operate without hope and in the absense of "a good reason to continue". This isn't something the average person can cope with.

The Remedy
Having a launched product and a steady source of income is what eventually allows a developer to have an actual full-time development team in an actual studio every day who all have the same goals in mind.

This is what I want to happen, but until then, it's unfortunately "take what help you can get", which means "this guy from checkoslovakia has some code that might help to get function X communicating with Function Y, however he's only available 8 hours a week between midnight and 2am 3 random days per week, and will just plain not show up for 50% of those weeks."

"Take it or leave it."

Another reason that isn't possible is simply because of the impriacticality of posting anything resembling "bad news" on a public site where any financiers or those with professional interest in whatever product you're making are certain to read it. Such a practice would inevitably do you more harm than good and just plain isn't worth it. If you want to get past the first stage of interest with any serious financier, you're required to cultivate a public persona of "smoothe seas" and that isn't accomplished by saying, "Today I had to fire Jow Blow. He was stealing cornmeal from the serfs".

Or equally as bad as that is the fact that any financier who sees these "gritty details" will undoubtedly think, "Hmmm they lost their lead programmer... again... which means they're desperate... let's low-ball our offer..."

The common perception seems to be that the awesome prototype that everyone played and was astounded by happened overnight and required merely the will to do so, thus it blinked into existence. The reality is that it was an endeavor that resulted in just as many "wrong ways" of accomplishing it's individual goals and failures as eventual "right ways" and actual features coming to fruition.

The dev blog is reserved for positive news only, although every day brings a new set of accomplishments but tragedies. Who quit after not making a single contribution in 3 weeks? Who is their replacement and what is their name that you hopefully won't have to forget three weeks from now?

Is that the kind of thing you want to hear about every week?

If not, then you're just going to have to leave me to do my thing until such instances where I find it prudent to make a positive report.

And now the "good news".
I'm finally at the point where we're on the up-turn. I've been gaining, on average, around 1-2 producing assets each week and that has allowed me to begin phasing out the remaining "take it or leave it". You want to be the "nice guy boss" who all the employees love because he doesn't push them hard, but the fact remains my name is the one name attached to this project and nobody else involved is personally responsible to those contrbutors the way I am. I want to retain the credability required to call on those contributions once we're again at a point where we can "re-open the flood gates" and be able to say "I haven't screwed you over in the past, so trust me now and buy our crap."

This last week specifically has been one of the best in recent months. Although two of my best guys are still out of town for differing reasons, by the time they return we should be on schedule to assemble several individual modules of game data into a simple cohesive push at around the same time.

The Unity Port
Unity has bent over backwards for us, gifting us thousands of dollars in professional licenses to ensure this becomes a "unity-powered game", but they can't make the actual game for us. I still fully believe that we're substantially "better off" going in this direction simply because of the amazing support we've recieved from them as opposed to "former sollutions". Many aspects of the prototype which were beginning to present difficulties, such as the FPS drops when you cross over 14,000 single objects in an area are either drastically imrpoved or eliminated as a detriment altogether. This is a retail-level sollution - It's just going to be an uphill struggle to close that gap which exists because of our financial situation.

Our Next indieGoGo
IndieGoGo is another one of those "good guy" establishments which are so rare in this world. Following our kickstarter reps from IndieGoGo actually made the effort to speak with me directly over the phone, which is a consideration that I don't easily forget. They basically laid it out for me that Divergence can "run as many campaigns with [us] as [they] need", and even offered to tailor a campaign website for us when we're ready for it. Just all around good chaps.

The only reason we haven't done it already is because my policy is I do not under any circumstances allow the sale of anything that I don't know for an absolute fact that I can provide at that moment. Which means that, while we have shiny new turrets, game assets and modules, again without the programming muscle, they don't currently do squat, and I'm not selling them until they do. That's the end of that discussion. If you'd like to throw your money at a project that makes a lot of flashy claims that they can't back up at the time they made them, there are a lot of those out there. This isn't one of them.

To open a new campaign without being able to show considerable fruits of the last one would be charity, and until I literally hit flat zero in the way of resources I have no desire to ask anyone to contribute for that reason - I want them to contribute because it's a totally kick-ass product.

The project needs money. I need money. So don't you think I'd be selling the crap out of pre-order perks right now if I could?

In Closing
One man cannot be singularly responsible for all this at once. I made the decision to appoint mods so that we could actually have forums without my need to single-handedly develop an mmorpg AND be a website and forum admin at the same time. If that isn't the case, then I'm going to have to shunt blood from the extremities to keep the body alive, and that means freezing the forums until the project is in a state to allow me to both create the actual game and also dote the necessary attention a forum community requires.

In lay-man's terms, the forums and site are a useful tool for people "of the same like mind" to keep in contact with one another while the product is fleshed-out, but not if it becomes a liability by creating extra work for me in the process.

I want to reassure everyone waiting patiently (and the four or five people waiting impatiantly) that this is still a seven-day-per-week job for me, and if there are periods of null communication it's only because that at this moment in the cycle I have to spend a ghastly amount of time doing "business management" junk. Hiring, firing, training, and working on tasks myself until literally 6am, after which i sleep till noon and begin the day all over again.

I still drive the same 22-year old car to finance meetings where I woo wealthy financiers and hope that each time it may just be the time that makes it all worth it. The one person or group that finally doesn't hear "video game business" and think "Ugh... not interested..." or "Ok, we'll give you $200 for 80% of your business".

That's all for now. As always, thanks for keeping the faith and understanding that it's still my goal to one day have the time to troll the forums, pissing off the other developers by tossing up random unsanctioned screenshots of their work in progress, while not detracting from the game actually getting made in the process. This just isn't that time yet unfortunately.

-Ethan

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Re: A Personal Appeal By Ethan

Postby Rocamon » Sun Dec 15, 2013 5:40 am

It is indeed good to hear from you again Ethan. Although people don't know remotely what your life is like everyday having to do the things you would do. You remind me very much of someone who I played SWG with who also lives in the same city as us. He would do the same shit that you do, he would play SWG with as much devotion as you have working on Divergence! He would stay up until 6 in the morning making sure that the Empire controlled all of tattooine and made sure that they had control over the cities where GCW battles were going on. He would do this and then go to bed for 2 or 3 hours and wake up to make sure that the cities stayed in control. He was pretty fricken crazy devoted I can tell you that. But anyways it was a good move letting the forum bystanders know that you're still alive and kicking. If you're Mods and Admins are busy ragequitting the forums I'll run them for you, I don't even care, I'm here everyday anyways. And you know what I'd come pick you up in my Mustang and drive you to your conferences if you really needed it, I'm just over by the Hollywood Fred Meyer lol.
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Re: A Personal Appeal By Ethan

Postby Mattisx » Sun Dec 15, 2013 6:47 am

The heart makes the post.

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Feydikan
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Re: A Personal Appeal By Ethan

Postby Feydikan » Sun Dec 15, 2013 11:56 am

(puts his devils advocate hat on)


So.... In short. When the mods, who have volunteered their free time to assist this project dare to question the Llama, the reaction will be to close the forums, WHICH btw really wouldn't do much considering in the past 4 months we have had maybe... MAYBE a dozen new posts. Most of which were Started.... oh wait.... BY THE MODS in some twisted, dare I say evil plan to strike up more discussion about the game in which we are "impatiently waiting for".


The only thing we are "impatiently" waiting for is something more tangible then the normal Lines of "OMG working so hard..pant pant... need sleep... pant pant.... and money... pant pant....keep faith", which has pretty much been the ONLY thing we have been hearing for the past 5 months. Instead of looking at this situation from your point of view, take a moment and look at it from OUR point of view.

Last time I checked, this is supposed to be a game with various factions (VK, OSI, DC), trapped on a Planet (Rook), who generally don't like each other, but OSI and DC can agree that the VK are evil bastards even while they don't trust each other. These factions are made up of a few different types of humans, the Lokri which are basically "alien" humans with really powerful psychic powers, The Veli who are unstoppable killing machines with a battery, Synthetics, D-Tanix who are beings of pure psychic energy and and the planet has an indigenous species called the Ennie who are basically comic relief. They are all on the planet due to some anomaly which brought all of the various factions fleets to Rook, but something happened, pulled any ships to the surface, and afterwards the planet "locked the door" and trapped them not only there, but is not allowing any one else to land. Creating a Space "Gilligan's Island".... with heavy weapons and cyber ninjas. Oh, and the game will have perma-death, a realistic physics engine, and a skill system based upon SW:G.

THAT one paragraph summarized basically EVERYTHING we know about the game. 6 Months of forum chatter aside, mostly from Herko and me, everything discussed beyond that paragraph is pure speculation. I hate to say this, but I think Herko and I know more about the lore/world of D:O then you do.

It might be in your best interest to spend more time extrapolating the world of D:O rather then physically building it. I don't want to presume I know how to do your Job. But I will say indie projects like this live and die by the communities they build, not the glorious ideas the Dev has but doesn't want to discuss out of f ear of not being able to produce them

At some point you need to anti up, put your cards on the table and let the chips fall where they may. It may succeed, it may fail, but honestly You are not going to make any where near the money you need to complete this game by selling it upon the "great" ideas you have but refuse to discuss, even more so when you counter your own enthusiasm with the caveat of not being able to bring them to reality.


If you no longer require my services as an Mod due to my position, I fully understand. I am sure there will be other sycophants who would be more then willing to take my place and watch the forums collect dust. I would however advise not closing the forums. All that does is make it appear you are afraid of criticism.

quae seminaverit homo haec et metet
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Re: A Personal Appeal By Ethan

Postby Rocamon » Sun Dec 15, 2013 4:32 pm

Feydikan, as a simple forum moderator and nothing more, the entirety of your job is to keep the forums clean and healthy. When people come to the forums and post things with speculation on what Ethan is doing, YOU are supposed to be the one answering them. Instead you are doing the same thing and pestering Ethan when he is doing much more important things than following your forum lore wishes. Ethan is going to do fine, once he gets to the state upon which he can start another campaign he will do fine and the publicity will come back. Everything that is happening at this time is normal and in our eyes it looks like it is at a crawl... but slow and steady always wins the race. I just suggest you stay on the forums and keep people at bay, and yes keep creating that lore it may indeed help Ethan in the future even though i'm sure it has already been thought of at least. Just stay strong and stay patient. Watch some adult videos and play WoW while you wait for something good, it's on it's way. :lol:
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Re: A Personal Appeal By Ethan

Postby walkia17 » Sun Dec 15, 2013 7:21 pm

I love it, especially the "adult videos" part. ;)
Anyways, Feydikan, along with the other admins, are right to be upset. It has been draining on all of us, some more then others, to see this project's progression seemingly on a stand still .For me, It is fucking frustrating, to say the least, and, for some of us, absolutely unbearable to see this project's faith slowly collapse simply because their has not been any communication. Its ridiculous to say the least, but right now, as far as I can tell, this project needs patients above all else.
All that is needed right now is patients and if you don't have a problem with that then I thank you, but if you do have a problem with that then why not leave, Their is nothing stopping you? their is no point in staying around here to moan and whine, it dose absolutely nothing but cause harm to the game and cause the rest of us to lose faith. And to start backlashing each other doesn't help either. Im talking to both Feydikan and Ethan. Right now, you both are only making it worse simply because your egos are getting hurt and your tempers are flaring because of it; now is not the time.
Now, as I hinted above, better communication is a must right now and if you cannot take some time out of the day to give us a heads up at the very least, Ethan, then I start to question why I even bother to stay. I don't care if what you have to say is bad so long as you say something. We are your community, we are here to help you and support you as best as we can but we cannot do that if you keep us in the dark like you have. We may not understand what exactly is going on, but you know what? We would much rather know just how bad the situation is and try to help as best as we can then to not know anything and just sit around, playing with our fingers and hoping to god that you have something for us. I do not want to do that, I want to know what is going on, we want to know what is going on. This goes hand in hand with what you said about how communities pin game makers to the cross simply because they didn't communicate with their fans properly, Its maddening!
All we ask is that you talk to us more, communicate with us more even if the news is bad. We don't care, we want to know what's going on. We want to help as best as we can, as much as we can. We want this game to get out and we want to help, is that to much to ask?
And for you other guys who are starting to lose faith, don't fret, patients is truly a virtue worth having. I don't want any of you to leave, you are our leaders. without you guys, who would we have to represent us?, who would we have to help keep things in line; be our voice? Who would we have to call Ethan out if he did something foolish or if we where treated unfairly; I ask again, who would we have? All of you admins have chosen to be our leaders and I ask all of you, not as a fellow forum user or as a follower of this game, but as a fellow gamer who is TIRED of all the bullshit that games are nowadays, who wants something new, something worth talking about, something finally worth investing so much time into and that i can finally find a filling sense of joy in; I ask you all, digital face to digital face, please, do not leave.
now I've said a lot, plenty alot but I cannot stress just how important this game is. this game is more then just a game, it is more then just ego, it is more then just pride. This game, in my mind, in my heart, is perhaps one of the only modern video games that any of us would truly find a sense of real joy in, the only modern video game where we can play as we want to play and enjoy it with a multitude of other people. This game is of a breed long lost to the rivers of time and "money" and I want to experience this breed before all of that. I want to know just how those old games feel, how epic they where and I cannot do that if this game fails. their are other out their but they don't compare to this one.
So I ask again, from the top of my lungs to the core of my hobby, my pation, my great joy in life; will you all stop with the bickering, the nonsense, and the faithlessness and join me in the hopes that we can one day see this game grow, from its rough beginnings, to its completion and inevitable success? Or, will you leave and go play something without any soul, without any heart, without any dignity and wonder to yourself as you play these dull, lifeless games "what could have been"? You make the choice, but if you choose to stay, I thank you greatly for your patients and pation friend, and, if you choose to leave, well, ill see you on the Divergence forums on MMO.com, follow me? ;)

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Herko Kerghans
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Re: A Personal Appeal By Ethan

Postby Herko Kerghans » Sun Dec 15, 2013 7:42 pm

Ethan, mate... when I press the "send" button on this post, I should have 498 posts in these forum. And right above that number is the "Expert" badge you gave me because, well, I happen to be a guy who likes to write stuff. Doesn´t mean I deserve a medal, doesn´t mean I´m looking for applause. But I do hope it´s at least signal that I am, just like Helios or Feyd, giving you our honest feedback about a project we´d love to see happening, and because we strongly believe that this kind of project needs a strong community in order to succeed; a community that just doesn´t spring out from thin air, but has to be fostered and interacted with.

And, of course, I think forums are crucial for that.

That´s why I gotta say that, of course IMHO, you are looking at the chicken-egg problem from a wrong perspective, mate.

If you want to attract investors, you need potential customers (that would be us). If you want to go the crowdsourcing route, you need a crowd (that would be us, too). Interacting with your community (through any means, but let´s use the forums as an example) seems to be a good way to do both.

Just to put things in perspective, a few quotes from this Gamasutra piece: Chris Roberts on Star Citizen Crowdfunding Success, and Why He Doesn't Want a Publisher.

Having had so much success, Roberts has some tips on how to do it right. One thing he is adamant about is that since you have to build your own site sooner or later, why not do it from the off?
"Kickstarter is very good for the community right at the beginning, but then afterwards you've got to have a solution, because it's not really a great place to interact. It doesn't have forums," Roberts says.


There's also no way to bring in new fans (and their contributions) if your campaign is over. "Our solution was always to have a place for the community to hang out, first and foremost. For them to get information about the game, to share how it's getting done. They would also be able to back the game, and new people would be able to come into it," Roberts says.


"The more you engage with the community and the more you share with them, the more you participate with them, the better you do," he says.


In the past, Roberts has bounced decisions off of his team members. He still does that -- but he has a much broader base now. "All I'm doing is really extending that discussion to the community at large. I'm folding in the community to that discussion."
"And I think, ultimately, that will help the game be better. At least, my hope and guess is [that it will], because obviously we haven't finished the game yet. But it feels right to me. It feels good. It feels invigorating."



It´s obviously clear that saying "It worked for Roberts, therefore that´s the way SGL should do it" is a fallacy. But, I dunno... at least should be food-for-thought worthy.

Of course, it does require time: you gotta interact with the forums, answer questions, etc… but as you say yourself, you are already spending a lot of time trying to convince investors… don´t you think that an active forum, where people passionately discuss your project (including, of course, a lot of posts explaining in excruciating detail why somebody thinks you should nerf this weapon, or boost that armor, or tweak that gameplay feature), would be something good to show them? Because, at the end of the day, that´s what investors want: customers. Don´t you think a passionate community would tell the guys with the cash that you may have some potential customers for their investment?

And if you do want to do a third Indiegogo campaign: don´t you think an active, passionate community would be great for contributing and, perhaps more importantly, promote your game?


Another reason that isn't possible is simply because of the impriacticality of posting anything resembling "bad news" on a public site where any financiers or those with professional interest in whatever product you're making are certain to read it. (...)

Or equally as bad as that is the fact that any financier who sees these "gritty details" will undoubtedly think, "Hmmm they lost their lead programmer... again... which means they're desperate... let's low-ball our offer..."


Heh… sadly, that´s probably the Universal Truth of PR: you cannot be truthful to your community, lest investors are scared away. That´s why AAA studios have big PR budgets...

... but isn´t that also why we jaded long-timers are staying away from AAA products, and flocking around the Indies?

Isn´t that the reason for why things like Kickstarter and Indiegogo exist? To skip the PR bullshit, and to let the community become the funders so the Dev can do the game they all dream without corporate crap getting in the way?



The dev blog is reserved for positive news only, although every day brings a new set of accomplishments but tragedies. Who quit after not making a single contribution in 3 weeks? Who is their replacement and what is their name that you hopefully won't have to forget three weeks from now?

Is that the kind of thing you want to hear about every week?


As opposed to what, mate? Only good news that you post not for us, your fans, but that you post there just in case your potential investors happen to take a peek?

No; that´s not what we want. But if you read these forums, you´ll find a frikkin´ heap of questions we, your fans, have about your product. Questions about game features and game mechanics (skill system, char progressions, skills and stats; questions about the Lore (the factions, the races, who will be able to do what); questions about every possible angle we could think of.

That´s what we´d like to hear about in-between good news, mate.

The Unity Port...


I know I´m repeating myself, mate (sorry about that!), but since I´m not a coder, that means absolutely nothing to me. :)

I mean, I´m sure there are quite a few around here for whom that piece of information is crucial… but at the end of the day, we are here because we are gamers, and what we want to learn about is how the game will work from a gamer´s point of view. The Lore, the game mechanics, that sort of stuff.

I mean... seriously, man: how long does it take to post a complete (although of course preliminary) skill tree, for example? That´s the kind of stuff we want to hear, because that´s the kind of stuff we can talk about in these forums. :)


Our Next indieGoGo

(...)

If you'd like to throw your money at a project that makes a lot of flashy claims that they can't back up at the time they made them, there are a lot of those out there. This isn't one of them.


*sighs*

All right, let me be blunt here. You mean, claims like the $20 Indiegogo perk that said that the Land Grabbing event would happen in July 2013?

Or the $10 Beta Access perk that should have happened even before that?

Mate, I don´t want to be an ass, but this must be said: Indiegogo may let you do as many fundraisers as they want... but how many people will in, say, March 2014, contribute to Divergence´s third fundraiser, if you haven´t yet fulfilled the first?




So don't you think I'd be selling the crap out of pre-order perks right now if I could?


I dunno, mate... perhaps you should?

It has always intrigued me that you don´t have a paypal button (or something in that vein) allowing those interested in the game to contribute a bit more outside the Indiegogo/Kickstarter campaigns.

Maybe that could be a way to keep SGL stay afloat for a bit more? Maybe even let you stay away from investors, and make the game entirely community-funded?



One man cannot be singularly responsible for all this at once. I made the decision to appoint mods so that we could actually have forums without my need to single-handedly develop an mmorpg AND be a website and forum admin at the same time. If that isn't the case, then I'm going to have to shunt blood from the extremities to keep the body alive, and that means freezing the forums until the project is in a state to allow me to both create the actual game and also dote the necessary attention a forum community requires.


As the leading forum whore, needless to say such a decision would pain me. Furthermore, I think it would be the wrong move: if you want to attract investors, you need potential customers (that would be us). If you want to go the crowdsourcing route, you need a crowd (that would be us, too)

But, at the end of the day, if you truly think that the forums are just the extremities of your project and not something crucial and vital to it (and, above all, you think that you can switch off the blood from the extremities and later revive them as soon as you switch the blood back on), then perhaps that´s the route you should follow.


I think both a videogame megastar like Roberts, and the clueless D:O fanboi typing these lines would think that it´s a bad idea; but at the end of the day, mate, it´s your call.

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Re: A Personal Appeal By Ethan

Postby zandark » Sun Dec 15, 2013 8:16 pm

Herko Kerghans wrote:
The Unity Port...


I know I´m repeating myself, mate (sorry about that!), but since I´m not a coder, that means absolutely nothing to me. :)


Means all existing code needs to be rewritten from c++ to c# language :o

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Sam
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Re: A Personal Appeal By Ethan

Postby Sam » Wed Dec 18, 2013 6:30 pm

I can say that we are all glad to hear that Ethan is alive on the other line. :mrgreen:

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Re: A Personal Appeal By Ethan

Postby Fallbreaker » Sat Jan 11, 2014 1:17 am

I'm disappointed Ethan that you deleted the original Polling thread for the third campaign. You didn't even responsed to my points at the time :\


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