24

Say when…

April 5, 2017 by Tim

Soon to be followed by Vacuous Access™, which is just a void where an idea might someday reside. But you could be there first!

Joking aside for a moment, “Early Access” has a serious branding problem at this point that Valve needs to find a way to work around. Let’s face it, this whole concept of “give us your money and THEN we’ll finish our game” isn’t going to go away any time soon.

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And that’s not the end of the world; there are a lot of benefits to that game development approach. From indie studios that need the cash flow to operate to getting direct feedback from players before code is set in stone, there is an upside to “play as we develop.” And let’s not anyone forget: it’s entirely up to us as the consumers to decide not to purchase an unfinished game if we’re not comfortable with it. It’s our responsibility to remember that we are forking over our cash for the product we receive in that moment, not for the promise of what we hope to receive down the road.

But with that said, I think we need more information if we’re going to make informed decisions. And that responsibility lies with Valve.

Right now the term “Early Access” leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, because for every game in Early Access that launches playable, progresses, and maybe even officially releases, there are a dozen that feel like grab and dash with the cash operations. Some of that may be unavoidable, but Valve could insist on some more transparency from these developers, right?

Are you an actual studio of designers working to see your project through to completion via defined work schedule? Or are you a college student with an experimental game project that you will work on “when time allows?” That’s not to say only “real studios” deserve to put games up, but it might help manage expectations if we know more about who is making our games.

I think Early Access developers should have to post a development schedule. I mean all game studios come up with a schedule, and order in which they’ll work on things and when they think they’ll complete it. If Early Access developers are asking for our money for an unfinished product, perhaps we should expect at least that level of forethought from them. And then, if they meet or miss their milestones, people would have some metric by which to gauge how the development of the game is proceeding.

It might force the developer to be realistic with themselves about a timeline, and also further manage gamer expectations.

Whatever the solution may be, if this is going to be our new normal, some granularity may be in order. Some games are clearly working towards a defined “finished” state, whereas others are the sorts of games that will always evolve and change which makes it near impossible to decide where “finished” actually lies. And still even other games are clearly ‘flash-in-the-pan’ fads, meant to capitalize on some fun gimmick or game play element and burn bright, make some cash, be easy to stream for some laughs and then fade away.

Assigning them all the catch-all phrase “Early Access” sours the term for everyone because it loses all meaning. Or takes on an unintended one.

 

 

 

 

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Azraelle
Azraelle
4 years ago

Factorio is an early access game that plays better than most full-release AAA titles, so they’re not all bad.

Ztyx
Ztyx
4 years ago
Reply to  Azraelle

But that was the point, no?
Some early access games truly are early access, others are paid beta, yet others are buy-in alpha or even crowdfunded development.

And it might be a good idea to make the differences clearer.

J
J
4 years ago
Reply to  Ztyx

You should check out Dino D-Day. THAT is a hilarious fps that feels like any other classic but with way too many dinosaurs…

Deadly-Bagel
Deadly-Bagel
4 years ago
Reply to  Azraelle

Factorio is awesome, stable releases have less bugs than final release AAA games and the devs take a LOT of feedback from the players.

And hey, remember back when publishers couldn’t just update their game on a whim? When they had to ensure that there were no bugs -before- they could release it? Good times.

Timo
Timo
4 years ago
Reply to  Deadly-Bagel

There never was such time.

There are no bug-free games.

We just thought that game crashing every now and then was something that was a part of gaming.

MVG
MVG
4 years ago

It’s called Ark…

Ryan
Ryan
4 years ago
Reply to  Tim

ARK has a mode called Survival of the Fittest, which is a battle royale. Regardless, the point of the comic is spot-on.

Brendan
Brendan
4 years ago
Reply to  Tim

Actually I thought the idea ‘s proximity to ark was intentional, with the flood of uninspired samey games that greenlight has allowed to flood the market, and Steam’s minimal policing of the products sold at their store front

Him.
Him.
2 years ago
Reply to  Brendan

On the other hand, Greenlight did allow EBF4 and therefore EBF5 to come into Steam, and that worked out amazingly! Seriously, its a great series of RPGs, though the first two are basically a guy screwing around with a book on how to code RPG based combat. 3+ are outstanding.

Znayx
Znayx
4 years ago
Reply to  Tim

What Ryan said isn’t precisely correct; You’d be forgiven for thinking that you don’t know about Survival of the Fittest simply because you’ve been away from Ark for a while. Allow me to clarify.

Ark: Survival Evolved is the survival game people know and love (or know and hate, depending who you are). It has a price tag on it.

Ark: Survival of the Fittest is essentially and official spin-off of Survival Evolved, formatted as a battle royal. It’s a separate item in Steam, a completely independent game. It’s free to play.

Entercoven
Entercoven
4 years ago
Reply to  MVG

My one big concern with open world survival games is that while there may be some minor inconveniences that you need to ‘survive’, the real problem lies with other players, in which case its not really a survival game, its a pvp game. If the only thing you need to worry about is Player vs Player, then it isnt any more of a ‘survival’ game than Battlefield is, just with crafting. The games play differently though, you might say. So I’ll ask, what is the point? At what point in said survival game do you succeed? VERY few open world… Read more »

Hamstermer
Hamstermer
3 years ago
Reply to  MVG

BUT YOU CAN’T SHOOT DINOSAURS IN ARK

Hamstermer
Hamstermer
3 years ago
Reply to  Hamstermer

*SHOOT DINOSAURS OUT OF A GUN

TheThe
TheThe
4 years ago

What is a PUBG? Sorry, never heard of this term in Germany as of yet.

demonichate
demonichate
4 years ago
Reply to  Tim

also Discord.. discord truncates the name to PUBG as well

sirKitKat
sirKitKat
4 years ago

Valve should let the players decide how much a game is finished (much like how they apply tags to games) community driven completion rating.

On every game, everyone should indicate how complete they find the game and some clever algorithm should display this on the store page. That way, you know how complete a game will feel when you buy into it.

One disadvantage (for game studio’s) is that fully completed AAA-games could have a completion rating below early-access games. But again, for buyers, they know what they will get 🙂

Ciaran
Ciaran
4 years ago

I think the even more annoying thing, for me personally, are games that stay in perma-open beta for years.

Sure they add to the game and try and make it better but any complaints you may have are dismissed as “well were in beta.”

It’s deeply frustrating!

Hamstermer
Hamstermer
4 years ago
Reply to  Ciaran

Story of any attempts at MMO’s in my life. That I played. Ultimately I decided that I personally don’t like MMO’s (for other reasons) and then moved on to other things.
MMO’s are good and all, I just don’t spend my time on them.

Senjiu
Senjiu
4 years ago

Wow, there’s a comment section! Neato! I don’t think I ever bought one of these early access games. I know a few friends that do that occasionally but from what I hear I don’t get convinced to do the same. I mean, they played this infestation world thing (just another zombie survival game) but they stopped development and turned the servers off so now you have to rent (or host) your own server to play an early access game that won’t get finished. I played in the (closed) beta of some games, like League of Legends and it looked pretty… Read more »

DahrAmahr
DahrAmahr
4 years ago

Yeah, well kinda like with being kickstarter backer… you have StarCitizen and Elite Dangerous … I know those games are a bit different however promisses that frontier dev. made will eventually make the game pretty much similar to StarCitizen… the main difference at this point is … you CAN play Elite Dangerous for quite some time now even though the content is reduced to space-sim trading/dogfightinng, but what we all hope will be eventually there (First Person Shooting missions on planets, boarding enemy ships and shootouts with enemy crew in order to capture their ship, fully populated athmosferic planets with… Read more »

Nathan
Nathan
4 years ago
Reply to  DahrAmahr

You know you’ve been able to play star citizen for about a year now, right? Same thing, you can dogfight, try out a slice of the MMO universe and recently they’ve released a FPS arena.

Guy
Guy
4 years ago

You got your Accesses mixed up in the 5th paragraph. While EAaccess is cool, it doesn’t really pertain to the topic of Early Access.

Brendan
Brendan
4 years ago
Reply to  Tim

I think he meant ion paragraph 5 where you typed EAAccess instead of EAccess. 🙂

Brendan
Brendan
4 years ago
Reply to  Brendan

Er… in. Stupid phone.

Nathan
Nathan
4 years ago
Reply to  Guy

After the release of Battlefront, I feel Electronic Arts should change their name to Early Access

Raven
Raven
4 years ago

You don’t need to purchase a Unity license until you make over 100K a year. So they could have cheaped out even more on development. Also the free tutorials on their website are worth more than most books.

Tim V.
Tim V.
4 years ago
Reply to  Tim

Probably says a lot about the hypothetical dev in the strip that he bought Unity regardless!

Heavylink
Heavylink
4 years ago

Don’t forget the rainbows!

todofwar
todofwar
4 years ago

I think some studios actually do use early access without calling it that. One of the worst offenders is Creative Assembly. Whenever a new Total War game comes out I read it as being in early access for about a year until they release a big patch that fixes all the glaring issues the game had at “launch”.

Andrew
Andrew
4 years ago

I’ve only dipped into early access games twice, one was Into the Stars and the other was Rimworld. Both were enjoyable and I don’t regret getting in early. Odd part is with the updates and developments my brain thinks more of it as DLC than anything. But that’s because I haven’t bought a game that felt really limited in its development.

todofwar
todofwar
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew

Rimworld was a class apart. I backed it on Kickstarter, it was an example of what a good kickstarter project should look like. Then it transitioned to EA and it is again what EA should look like

Tyler
Tyler
4 years ago

I’d like to see labels for who is creating the game. Something simple like “Full Development Studio” or “Two Man Team” or something. I’m sure ideas off the top of my head would fall flat, but some kind of information as to the manpower behind a products. It sure wouldn’t guarantee anything, but at least it would level expectations.

Hamstermer
Hamstermer
3 years ago
Reply to  Tyler

NotStealingAllYourMoneyAndThenRunningToChile Incorporated

Mad_Cow
Mad_Cow
4 years ago

Loving the new site design! Now we can all connect outside of the forum! Love it!

Inuzuka
Inuzuka
4 years ago

Your first, previous, random and last buttons on the front page aren’t working. Any idea if or when it’ll be fixed?

Zaldrak
Zaldrak
4 years ago

Isn’t this basically what Kickstarter kinda is already?

Kristoffer Mobæk
Kristoffer Mobæk
4 years ago

But you got to love Early Access, the oldest game that is still in development is Folk Tale, which released back i May 2013! There is some gems that have come out of Early Access, but i think that ratio is 1:100 or something around there. Early Access is a fine concept for steam, developers and dedicated players, but Valve should set up guidelines for how long a title should be in EA, and as a safety they should only pay out 50% of the income to the developers until the game is either finished or canceled, instead of this… Read more »

Charlie
Charlie
4 years ago

Soo…dinosaurs parachute out of a plane? Land, grab supplies and weapons? I guess T-Rex is screwed then. …tiny arms and all.

Percival2004
4 years ago
Reply to  Charlie

To be honest, most dinosaurs would not know how to operate guns, nor would they be able to be captured and forces into parachutes, nor be able to operate said parachutes, so they would plummet to death.

But it’s a video game, so why not, right?

Percival2004
4 years ago
Reply to  Percival2004

*Forced

Him.
Him.
2 years ago
Reply to  Charlie

Most of the herbivores aren’t playable, but Stygimoloch and Ouranosaurus have a very strong unarmed attack.

dog3y3
dog3y3
4 years ago

Well, i see a lot of people here commenting on which games are truly early access. My point I’d like to put forth is that if you have money to pay for early anything, then become a producer, similar to making movies. They call them developers right now, but the way some of these projects are run, i’m betting that a handful of geeks with too much time and money will just simply say, “Screw you big-time game makers, we’re going our way and we’ll have it out in record time.” — not. Honestly, I don’t care. If someone is… Read more »

Hamstermer
Hamstermer
4 years ago

Also, quick question: Will Crtl-Alt-Del still be updated with console wars, or will console wars be located in another section when it updates? I’m simply curious because it has different implications depending on the awnser. As such if it is seperate from CAD then does for say Analog and D pad 5.1-28 or something will there also then be CAD updates? Visually I mean. It’s ludicrous to ask you to juggle CAD on top of A&Dp plus the occassional silly. Still, will those “other” stories be on the CAD page, or will CAD from now on be Classic Ethan and… Read more »

Corless
Corless
4 years ago

*Glances at ads*
Oh look there might be a new Quake game coming out, or it’s a scam. Quake Champions mean anything to you?
Wow. Haven’t seen those in quite a while, that said I generally don’t play FPS and so I can’t really distinguish much between Call of Duty and a hole in my head. I actually have no clue what Quake was about, it was a little before my time. Or I never looked. You get the point.

Ryan M
Ryan M
4 years ago

On the note of games that completely change from the initial purchase to the time the game is ready for release… How’s your Star Citizen account? I remember there was so much hype and the game looked so incredible… and then it just kept getting bigger and bigger… and people could buy more and more incredible ships… and those Kickstarter folks (myself included) were left on the bottom of the pile… and then the company changed hands… and… I stopped following it.

Flintlocke
Flintlocke
4 years ago

There’s something i dislike about early access : the fact that Potential sell very well. And soooo few games actually meet any of it.

Jason
Jason
4 years ago

I feel like I’ve seen a game like this before, and even backed it on kickstarter. It was called Stomping Land, and it was as much of an unfinished pile of garbage as any early access atrocity could be :/

http://cad-comic.com/comic/what-dinosaurs/

Asmo
Asmo
4 years ago

“I think Early Access developers should have to post a development schedule.” Unfortunately, this can never be done. Did you know that the success rate in project management is similar to pro baseball’s batting average? If you can deliver successfully one time out of three, you are a superstar. Missing a milestone isn’t a question of “if”, project slippage is an absolute certainty. And while yes, a good plan should include contingency to account for that, in the early days of planning such contingency can represent up to 30% of your plan! Now imagine releasing that kind of data to… Read more »

Astalon
Astalon
4 years ago

Speaking from the perspective of a developer of a game that was released early, requiring things like a timeline sounds great, but isn’t very practical, especially if the developer is an indie developer and can’t afford to just throw money at problems when the time crunch hits. Further, any sort of community policing aside from reporting possible abuses for Valve to look into can and will be used by vindictive members of the community to try and ‘punish’ developers for any perceived failure to either live up to hype and promises, to troll, etc. Unfortunately, I think Steam has done… Read more »

crobarian
crobarian
4 years ago

Anyone else have to click the Last button to view this comic? When go to the home page of here, it is showing the PUBG gun/window issue.

Erik
Erik
4 years ago
Reply to  crobarian

This is also what I find happens when I type “cad-comic.com”. Not the end of my world or anything, just want to let you know you’re not the only one. However, I like the barrel awareness comic, so it’s all good!

eye8all
eye8all
4 years ago

Wow. I had not realized that the kickstarter pyramid scheme had infested the gaming word. Also surprised to see that gamers are dumb enough to be falling for this for, apparently, 3 years now. In a way it is refreshing to see this social virus spread to other pars of the internet. Ha.

Louw
Louw
4 years ago

Like the new look! The favicon needs some changing in my opinion. Its really tiny in the bookmarks, and looks a bit forced on the black background. Maybe just a big green CAD logo (the pill-shaped left perspective one) on white? Just a 2c. Cheers!

mjc
mjc
4 years ago

He bought a tutorial book from Amazon? He has officially put in more effort than the majority of “developers” using Early Access and/or Steam Greenlight. I’m proud of Dave. Now all he has to do is not delete comments and ban users on his forum, and not DMCA (or trademark strike, because that’s a thing now) critique on YouTube, and he’ll be more mature than the majority of “developers” as well.

mjc
mjc
4 years ago

Also, I like that whoever it’s supposed to be viewing this game’s store page added it to their wishlist. Nice touch.

Shaadow
Shaadow
4 years ago

I agree somewhat, but can’t all of this be said for actually fully release games. How many release games are incomplete and just broken? How many of these actually come from major studios? I feel at least with early access you know what you are getting when you buy. It is expected to be completed at some point. A “complete” game, you expect it to be complete when you buy, and if it isn’t, you can’t expect it to be complete. Apparently the developer thought it was.

liverwurst
liverwurst
4 years ago

Here’s the biggest problem with requiring a development schedule: Valve time.

Valve themselves cannot follow a development schedule to save their lives, so it’d be a little odd (and a huge departure from Valve’s SOP) to try and force a developer to run with one.

Matthew Hermann
Matthew Hermann
4 years ago

No pride in good code anymore. Not the coders bottom line guys.
Not that the world revolves around my thoughts , but new format way to dark.

later