All Aspects: The Derek Smart AAW Interview

By Kieron Gillen on March 18th, 2009 at 3:53 pm.

Orange is the best of all armour types.

You suspect 3000AD’s Derek Smart is the man the phrase “outspoken developer” was coined for. He’s… oh, you have an opinion, don’t you? Whether or not you’ve played – or could even name – one of his games, everyone’s got a take on Smart. He’s also a perennial PC gaming figure which we haven’t talked to yet. With All Aspect Warfare approaching release, we thought it time to change all that. Talk about where he’s coming from, going to and – whisper it – whether he was actually right all along. Along the way, we take in the death of Space Sims, Steam’s power being over-estimated, his take on the Space MMOs, some cheery demonization of EA and… well, whether he ever regrets comment threads.

Join us.

RPS: Okay, from the top: All Aspect Warfare. Could you explain its germination? How do you think it fits in with your other games? Is it fair to say the scope is more focused this time around? Or is the focus just different?

Derek Smart: Well, apparent by the time we released our last space combat game, Echo Squad SE, that the days of space sims – as a viable business – were pretty much over. The genre is as dead as a doornail; and anyone who says any different, has maybe one or two other day jobs, lives on Ramen noodles and their monthly bills amount to a monthly grocery trip.

Seeing that we very well couldn’t make the same kinds of money over the years on the genre – short of rolling out our MMO (which is still about eighteen months away) based on our existing properties – I decided to do a game in between. A sort of stepping stone if you will. Sure it could have been KnightBlade, the space game we were planning on doing for PC/XB360. But given that no publisher in their right minds is going to sign a space combat game – let alone a console one, I decided to play it safe and put that game on ice and start a new game from scratch. Plus I wanted a break to do something else for a change.

When you have a franchise property you’ve spent decades on (in my case, twenty plus years already), you don’t just abandon it and start from scratch. Most especially not when you have a large install base. So this game, though radically different (for one thing, it is not a space game), takes places within our pre-existing game world and mythos.

The focus is 100% on planet side aerial and infantry combat. The game was designed, developed and fine tuned specifically for that. Which is why the majority of our technologies were either written from scratch or heavily revised for this game. It has been a HUGE investment. We’ll see if it pays off or not.

RPS: Is the space-combat game actually dead then? What can resurrect it? I’m interested in how older genres have been unexpectedly rejuvenated – I mean, the Adventure game finding a new home as webgames and on the Wii of all places. See an opportunity anywhere, or is it just the MMO?

Derek Smart: Yeah, its dead, Jim.

Well, you just hit it right there on the head. While adventure, war games etc are no longer mainstream – as far as retail publishing goes – there is grassroots support for it by gamers and developers alike. The way I see it, a publisher won’t bother with a game that won’t sell five copies. However, a developer (or web publisher/developer) who knows that he only needs to sell two copies for his break even, can still survive by going the alternate publishing route. More often than not, they often end up making more money than if they went with a publisher. Why? Because if you sell direct, the money goes to you directly.

If you have a traditional publisher, you have to wait to get paid. If they actually do pay.

Nevertheless, nothing beats the sheer number, volume and face time than retail gives. But that brick and mortar model is on the way out. The publishers know it. The retailers know it. It is only a matter of time before retail becomes an afterthought. Much like mainstream PC gaming.

There are so many opportunities for online distribution these days, that there is no longer an excuse to not do it. The biggest decision you’re going to be faced with is who to go with and how many. On one hand, you can sell through a lot of portals and dilute your metrics or go through a single [popular] portal and cross your fingers. That’s like selling to Walmart and not bothering with the likes of Best Buy, Target etc. If that’s how you roll.

And believe it or not Steam -even with its “Valve games powered numbers” – is not the leading online digital distribution portal. IGN’s Direct2Drive still is. Primarily due to their very diversified game portfolio, non-preferential treatment, developer friendly rules, brain dead straightforward contract, friendly and responsive sales and develop personnel etc. Gamer’s Gate is the same way. Been working these two and several other smaller portals (e.g. Digital River, BMT Micro) for many years now and have no complaints or qualms.

All of a sudden, everyone wants to get on Steam. It is easy to scream up to the rafters about hozillion subscribers. It doesn’t mean squat if a good portion of those are only on Steam specifically for the exceedingly popular Valve games. And I know for a fact that I’m right. Otherwise, you’d have already seen product specific numbers (like you do with NPD and such) from Steam already to backup those claims. Sure you’d get a sales spike there every now and then. But so what? You’d get the same sales spike if you put the game on any of the other portal and offered the same price, period and conditions. Marketing is marketing, no matter how many gimmicks you wrap around it. Selling a gamer a game he already owns, is the ultimate gimmick. That’s like selling ice to Eskimos.

The point is that even if you didn’t want to setup your own storefront, if you have a finished product – specifically a game – you can get it online rather quickly and start selling through the developer friendly portals without having to go through the same bullshit you normally would if were going with a traditional publisher. Plus, you’ll get paid – and on time. All done automatically.

Seriously, you can get a game on a good portal in under a week. Tops. In fact, the biggest delay is probably in getting the DRM scheme that they use, sorted out because the contracts themselves are just fill in the blanks simple.

There are also other upcoming ones which target a specific demographic. e.g. GoG. I mean, was that a brilliant idea or what? Its like retro bargain bin hunting. Hopefully they can get a lot more classics on there. But my guess is that the biggest hassle they’re faced with is tracking down the developers/publishers, finding out who actually owns the rights to properties etc. GameTap went through the same thing. It ain’t easy.

In many of my legacy interviews, I said – quite clearly – that MMO games and digital distribution, were the wave of the future. Those interviews are still up on my website to this day. And guess what? That’s exactly where we are today and specifically for PC games which will never be able to make their way to retail shelves.

So the way I see it, space games may be on the out, but they can be revitalized in the online distribution space. If the game is good and there are gamers out there who would rather buy than pirate (bastards) it, you can probably made a decent return on investment. But given the thinned out popularity of the genre, I wouldn’t quit my day job to develop and sell a space sim. Especially one that didn’t already have an incubated fan base. Seriously.

Just look around and see how many mainstream space combat developer from the old days are still in business today. I’m sure that if you approached Larry Holland [Totally Games, of X-Wing series fame - Ed] today about doing a space game, he’d probably (depending on the size of his bank account at the time) just laugh and saunter off in mild amusement. The same thing could be said for Egosoft. I’m sure they’re hurting – but my guess is you won’t see another X3 game for a long time because there is a point (the point I reached with the last niche space game) where you have to say enough is enough to derivative works.

There is a good reason why, for example, David Braben has been threatening to unleash Elite IV since Nixon was president and why you still haven’t seen it – and probably never will. At least not until you grow Grey hairs in places you didn’t realize could actually sprout hairs.

RPS: Your games have been… okay, let’s go with “divisive”. If you go with something as simple as a metacritic score, they’re always mixed. Yet despite that, you’re a perennial PC-developer who seems to have found an audience who appreciates your vision. Would you think this fair? If so, how does AAW fit here – both in terms of reaching new players and the pleasing old ones?

Derek Smart: Divisive huh? Well, that’s new. Usually I get sentiments ranging from mediocre to challenging…and all the way to the crap end of that particularly ecclectic opinions spectrum reserved by gamers solely for the purpose of expressing repressed emotions. You know, the kind that controlled substances, therapy or resolved Mommy issues don’t quite fix.

Seriously though, I love what I do. For me, being a sci-fi geek who grew up on all things sci-fi, getting into space games was a no-brainer. Sure I could have picked another genre (e.g. RTS) and still gone the sci-fi route, but even as a kid, I had always been fascinated by space and all its mysteries and such.

Playing games like Elite, Star Flight, Echelon etc just sold me right there and then. Once I decided to go out and make my own game instead of just sitting around playing someone else’s, I realized that life as I once knew it, was, well, over. I always felt that I could take the genre further.

My previous games – as you well know – are designed and developed for a specific group of people. I didn’t – and still don’t – care about the people outside that classification. My games, you either like them or you don’t. There is no in between, no fuzzy logic and certainly no repressed emotions. You can’t win over everybody and trying to do that is just a lesson in futility. So, I’ve always targeted like minded folks. And once that segment grew large enough to sustain my company, I decided to just keep doing it. Twenty years and thirteen (and at least two more to come) games later.

For this game, the goal is the same. While we’re not targeting the space combat fan base, I’m sure that those guys play other games too. So this is a chance to see how well (or bad) we do outside of our (space combat) comfort zone. As I’ve been telling the publishers we’ve been speaking to, if you want a cookie cutter fps game, this ain’t it. Which is why we have been providing them with the game’s docs first and foremost. Those who like what they read enough to play the game, go on to request an eval. So far, we’ve had some good responses and feedback. So I think we’re on the right track.

Apart from the fact that this is a “Thinking man’s fps”, a lot of the technologies were designed with various genres and gamers in mind. For e.g. the aerial combat aspect features proper cockpit and camera views, awesome flight dynamics and avionics. And oh yeah, a proper camera – not that rubbish those other guys are currently pushing and frustrating gamers all over. So an aerial combat flight jock is going to feel right at home, even if the only time he ever steps foot on solid ground – or fire a weapon – is when he’s searching for a fighter to jack. You start off in the ground, in fps mode. None of that “start and end in the air” crap.

As to the infantry combat aspect, it is all skills and experience based. If you don’t have the skills or the experience points to fly a fighter, you’re never – ever – going to be able to get in one. This leaves flying to jocks and the rest of the heavy lifting to the infantry guys. And even they need experience points to drive most of the vehicles in the game or man the numerous ground surface to air missile and gun units. When I designed this, I didn’t want any of the rubbish you see on other game servers where it is a free-for-all and with mostly griefers.

Oh, and – btw, IMO – Metacritic scores are the greatest injustice to the creative minds that actually work (yeah, some of us actually do that) to bring fun (and a balanced level of frustration) to gamers. Apart from the fact that it doesn’t contain “scores” from all print and on-line media reviews, its just plain wrong to use that as a yardstick for measuring excellence or failure when in fact the data sampling is hardly indicative of a true weight/ratio analysis based on the written word. But that’s a whole other interview.

RPS: Following on from the last question… do you think that makes you ahead of the curve? As in, realising you don’t need everyone to love you. There seems to be more and more people who work in PC gaming who seem to realise that actually servicing a niche of people who care about a certain approach and then making a game with a suitable budget is something that’s sustainable and worth doing – especially when you’re one of those people who want the game you’re making. You’ve been doing that for years.

Derek Smart: Well, it is only now when most of them either find themselves on the receiving end of redundancy or losing money hand over fist, that this common sense notion hits them. A lot of companies and small devs have been doing that for years. Most – if not all, like us, are still in business. Mostly it is greed and bad planning that gets some of these companies into trouble. Why spend $250K making a game and sell it to 100K people who actually want it, when you can blow $10m on a wildcard while trying to get 500K people to buy it? The mainstream economics of game development today makes absolutely no sense to me. It all boils down to bloat and mismanagement.

Plus I blame EA.

They started this bullshit about how games worth having or which are to be considered high end, would and should cost North of $30m because of the “next gen consoles”. It was retarded bullshit then. It is retarded bullshit now. And their shareholders are wondering where their money went right about now. Look no further than the likes of Eidos, Atari and every single one of them who bet big – and lost. Meanwhile, guys like us, Stardock and everyone in between and around, are still around making our low budget games for a group of people who actually enjoy them.

When I did my first game, the fact that I didn’t go straight out of business and back into the realms of obscurity is because a group of people saw what it was I was trying to do. So, they stuck around. Funny that. But since 1996 when I released my first game, the game that started it all has had no less than eleven iterations, derivatives, sequels and the like. Why? Because those small group of people keep buying the games. Some new ones come on board along the way and some get to stick around, while some get to move on. The economics is simple, if someone isn’t buying a game, why spend time, effort and money making it. So even with all the crap you see some gamers writing about games – they probably never even played – and which they claim suck, you have to wonder which planet they hail from.

The same thing here with All Aspect Warfare. Take our small budget (though this game has a higher budget than our previous games) and build a smallish game for a specific group of people.

I always joke with Sergio (one of my fellow developers) that if someone were ever (foolish enough) to give us $30m to make a game, that I was going to buy an island, disappear and leave him $2m to make the same game. :)

RPS: As everybody knows, co-op’s been one of the bigger trends of the last few years – I’m interested in how you’ve approached the issue and what the key of it for AAW is. Purely going on my own recollections, while my really early co-op memories were arcades, in terms of the late 90s/early00s, what little co-op there was seemed really quite hardcore. Like – say – Flashpoint, which is very much that realistic thinking man shooter’s sort of thing. While it lead to agreeable chaos, it was more grounded than the mental chaos which most co-op games lean towards now. What sort of pacing does AAW’s Co-op have?

Derek Smart: Well, in our game co-op is basically a multiplayer mode in which the four team members in the story mode campaign are replaced by human players.

The pacing is no different than if you were playing the scenario alongside the three NPC team members. The only difference is that you would expect your human team mates to actually make intelligent decisions and work together to achieve the objectives. But my guess is none of that (intelligent decision) is going to happen. But since voice chat will be available, you’ll be able to scream out obscenities on the fly and have them mean something.

The largest obstacle to co-op in games is the handling of NPC characters. Primarily who to attack, when and how. For us, an NPC targets list is prioritized. So its not like they’re going to attack player A who is 100m away, while ignoring player B who is standing right next to them.

No big deal really. I always wanted co-op for this game. Playing L4D just solidified my suspicions as to what it is we needed to aim for in doing it the no-frills but correct way.

RPS: Could you talk more about the experience system and multiplayer? I presume that your skills will be linked in a central server if you’re trying to make characters develop classes which they can’t easily grief. Or am I just making nonsense up out of my head again?

Derek Smart: Well as we (gamers that is) all know, Games For Windows Live is severely lacking. Since we just decided to do our own thing.

And doing our own thing means that we get to control the fate of our game, our servers, our player base, our patching etc. Our IP. Our worlds. Our rules. Nobody gets to hold us to ever shifting standards. Standards which tend to be relaxed for some (publishers) while steadfastly enforced for others. To this end, we just built ours from the ground up and tied it directly into the game. The way we did it is simple. You can play the multiplayer game using the game’s built-in server browser where you can host and/or join a game. There is no stats saving. So when you quit the server, it is all gone.

If you wanted to play on (ranked) stats saving servers, you have to use our external GameLobby app seen here. Doing so requires you to create a unique UserID (aka GamerTag) which is then stored on our servers. For your stats to be updated and tracked on the server, you have to always join a server this way. You can then look at your real-time stats and compare against others on our leaderboards over here. During multiplayer (there is no stats saving/tracking in single player), your kills, rank, Experience Points etc are tracked and updated in real-time, all the time. Since XP is tied directly into the game (e.g. you need a certain amount of XP in single and multiplayer to use certain vehicles, do certain things etc), the higher your XP, the more things you can do in the game. So there will be this on-going quest to get your XP very high.

Due to the game’s design and mechanics, you can also use XP for doing various things. e.g wantonly killing other friendly players, dying (yeah, each time you die, you lose XP when you re-spawn), failing objectives etc. So in one week, you could be at a high rank and XP, then the next – bad – week, your stats have tanked. And all of a sudden, some n00b has more XP and ranking than you do. If a player ends up griefing other players, we just ban their UserID, their IP address etc. They then will never be able to create another one, let alone join any server that is reporting to our master servers. They can still of course join a non-ranked server and play as normal and without a UserID. But even so, they can still be banned from there because all servers report to our master server – and that’s where the ban occurs.

You know me; I have zero tolerance for anti-social misfits – so I’m going to do everything in my power to keep them away from my game and off my servers.

We went all out on the multiplayer aspect of the game – to the extent of radical revisions to the multiplayer engine (e.g now it is a pure client-server architecture) – because we know that the popularity of multiplayer fps games lies in the multiplayer component and community. So, unlike our previous games where multiplayer was just another feature, this time around we focused on it as much as we would on any other feature or technology in the game.

For example, even the GameLobby has a bunch of unique features including friends list, invites, private messaging and such. As well as the ability to chat with a friend who is currently either in the lobby or on a game server, and vice versa. So if you want to locate your friend on a server, just login to the GameLobby and their UserID will tell you what server they’re playing on. Then you can send them a message directly from the lobby. e.g. while you are waiting to join a full server, you two can chat directly with each other via private messaging. Your friend never has to leave the game. We are considering extending this to sending Twitter chats, IM etc – directly from the lobby or the game. Sure, there are other third party (e.g. XFire) tools that have similar functionality, but we wanted built-in support without having to resort to yet another external app for the same functionality.

RPS: While I suspect it’s too early to talk about what you’ve planned with your MMO, what do you think of the current Space MMOs? What would you do differently?

Derek Smart: Well SWG [Star Wars Galaxies - Ed] is, well, uhm – (with no offense to the developers) – rubbish? And my guess is that the only reason it is still going is because that demographic – rabid or not – won’t touch Eve with the longest barge pole. Just wait until STO [Star Trek Online - Ed] launches and watch what happens.

And I don’t have any confidence whatsoever that Star Trek Online will be anything but. However, I am going to reserve final judgment on that until it is actually out and the gamers have spoken. From what I’ve seen, heard and can tell, they’re going with the tried – and failing – Status Quo. Its like these guys doing MMO games are stuck in a time machine. Yet, those who aren’t making it, just don’t get the message that the Status Quo doesn’t work for everyone. It is all about risk taking. Look at Eve! That, to me is the greatest risk ever undertaken by a developer. See where they are today.

Don’t like Eve. Never did. Only because it is not my kind of game. I love the genre, but there is a limit to how much love I can dole out when my idea of “fun” is being tested.

Eve – the quintessential spreadsheet in space – is popular (the stagnant subscriber base is testament to the space sim’s thinned popularity) because those guys decided what they wanted to do, did it – and stuck with it. So when the gamers jumped on board, CCP didn’t turn around and renege on what they started out with because some publisher said so. They bet that there were enough gamers out there who – spreadsheet or not – wanted that specific kind of game. And those who were first exposed to it, obviously liked it enough to stick around. CCP saw that – and thus far hasn’t done a single thing to rock the boat. So that’s how you do it. That’s the way we did it. And it has worked out pretty well so far.

If CCP had a publisher looking over their shoulder and had released Eve as the usual run-of-the-mill space combat shooter, mind blowing graphics or not, they’d be out of business by now – or at least struggling. Guaranteed.

For us, the long term goal is to get KnightBlade – our next (single player only) space combat game based on the AAW engines – out in early 2010. Then hunker down and release the Beta of our final (yes, it will in fact be our last game) space/planetary game, Galactic Command Online later that year and do a final roll out in 2011.

Since GCO uses all our established technologies, we’re just going to keep our space combat pedigree alive by going the MMO model. We don’t need gazillions of dollars to do it either. Plus, we’ve already got decades of experience in that game space – so no learning curve there for us. Plus we have the (proven) space and planetary technologies.

We have a much larger – and popular – install base than most space combat games, so I am confident that the subscribers will be sufficient for us to keep it going indefinitely. Instead of killing ourselves with a new game, sequel or derivative works every eighteen months or so, we’re just going to use that effort to provide free content to our paying subscribers year on year. Hell, we may even release the darn thing on an FTP (Free To Play) model supported by in-game ads and micro-transactions. Though we’re talking to several partners about it. I just haven’t made any final decisions yet.

In fact, doing KnightBlade is just another stepping stone and we’re doing it simply because I always wanted to do a space combat game that takes place in first person perspective inside a carrier and in a free-form universe. It is the one feature that we couldn’t do in previous games for various reasons – all related to horsepower and technologies. It is one thing to have a carrier hurtling through space at FTL speeds and clearly another to have a player running around inside said carrier in first person mode, talking to and interacting with his crew, doing combat with intruders etc – while the outside space and planetary worlds continues to go on.

And the reason that it is single player only is again due to technologies. I don’t want to spent two years doing it and dealing with the problems of multiplayer in such a game, when I can spend nine months doing a more tightly focused single player game. Especially since the price, viability or attraction won’t change whether or not it has a multiplayer component.

RPS: Why games? What was the moment where you realised that – fuck yeah! – games are amazing. And when did that germinate in a desire to make the bally things?

Derek Smart: Never in my wildest dreams. I love games. I have a library that would make Lincoln’s library proud – and that’s just the ones I have space in that room for. The decision to make games came from a part-time hobby back when I first started learning how to program in C. Once I got ahold of Lee Adams’ books, it was all over. In fact, I blame him 100% for how I ended up here. Anyone who had any of his books back in the day, knows exactly what I’m talking about. Sure he wasn’t exactly a good writer let alone a top notch programmer (at least not by today’s standards), but his books were enough to get you started and headfirst into the abyss. The fact that he wrote about four books on creating a flight sim – complete with source code, was the high point of my life back then.

Man, as I think about those (I owned ALL of them) books, I remember sitting there and manually typing in every frigging line of code and trying to get it to compile. Kids today have it easy. But I digress.

Honestly, any chance to show a cockpit screen when you're looking at your legs, I'm going to grab it

RPS: Do you ever regret your approach to comments threads, even momentarily? You’ve said before that you enjoy it a bit too much, which is why you do it… but there’s no way back. Even if you changed your tactics online, you’ve got so much history that it’d take another decade for it to sink in.

Derek Smart: The only regret I have is that I used to take it all so seriously. Once I realized that I could just as well play their own game, beating them at it while employing shock and awe tactics was just the end game. But I think I’ve mellowed out a bit. Must be old age because it certainly has nothing to do with common sense.

I am who I am. What I’m not is someone who some faceless fool out on a weekend pass is going to put under siege just because they think they can. They can pull that crap with other developers, like – oh I dunno – Denis Dyack mabye, but not me. First and foremost, I’m a gamer. So someone wants to wind me up, they’d better be ready to play.

When Jesus H. Christ said to turn the other cheek, he said nothing about a baseball bat.

As a wise man once said: “Game developers are just human beings who happen to make games for a living. If you want to hold us up to higher standards of conduct, then go ahead …but don’t be surprised if we don’t uphold them.” . Oh right, that was Warren Marshall over at Epic Games from back in the day when we used to hang out over on Planetcrap. Those were the days.

RPS: Thanks for your time.

For more on All Aspect Warfare, you can go to the website. It’s due second Quarter of 2009.

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232 Comments »

  1. fucrate says:

    I’ve laughed at Derek in the past, but reading this interview now, I’m realizing that every word he has said is spot on. The man knows what he’s talking about and I have a lot more respect for him. He’s doing what he loves, carving out a niche, and he’s successful at it.

    Screw the naysayers, Derek is awesome :)

  2. dsmart says:

    @ Hypocee

    Envious people – especially those with an inferiority complex are always the first – to start with the personal attacks. Do you feel inferior? Maybe you should.

    The difference between you and I is that I put my money and my talent where my mouth is. And what you have done lately?

  3. Jad says:

    Its always neat reading a Derek Smart interview, because its such a change from the carefully corporate controlled pap that the usual developer interview is. He’s going to say his mind, in his own way.

    Anyway, although I am quite thoroughly outside of this niche gaming genre (I remember playing a version of Battlecruiser that came free with a gaming magazine and being both impressed and utterly confused by it), I am interested in a “thinking man’s FPS”. I’ve only seen the screenshots that come with this article, and read the the description on the website, but I’ll keep an eye out for it.

    And since this seems like one of the few times I’ll actually get to have a direct communication with a developer, a question (suggestion?) for you, Derek: one of the things I’ve liked about a lot of recent FPSes is the movement away from the “floating eyeballs with a gun” feel to giving the player a much greater sense of being in control of a body. So, when you go up to a vehicle in AAW in first person view and press the “use” key, do you just instantly, magically appear inside the vehicle, or is there a first-person animation of you clambering in? I’ve been playing a lot of Far Cry 2 recently, which is why this comes to mind. (I have not watched any videos of the game yet, so this already may be in)

  4. Black Mamba says:

    I though it was a pretty good interview and Derek hit the nail on the head about space games and some other PC genres which are “mainstream” dead for all intensive purposes. It was only through the talent of Lucasarts 2.0 aka Telltale they were able to inject a bit of life back into that particular one.

    I was also interested to read that direct2drive sales were better than Steams which is something I’ve long suspected, the Valve fanboy teams recently tore apart Stardocks Brad at shacknews for daring to insinuate that Steam is not the best thing ever.

  5. Hypocee says:

    Spoken English for a start, Doc-torrrr.

    Oh, and additional relevance: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2009/03/11/interview-starwraith-on-evochron-legends/

  6. Drakkheim says:

    Hypocee: you say niche dev and low budget like it’s a bad thing… (glares at stardock, bohemia, CRS, Eve)

    And seriously, anyone who makes the games they want to make for 10+ years without massive compromise (regardless of AAA success) might actually have learned a thing or two.

    Never could get into Battlecruiser but I like the idea of it. The MMO reminds me of watching my older brother play the old Startrek moo/mush where people actually had to code their components for ships and took a group effort to make them move and fire etc.

  7. dsmart says:

    Derek: one of the things I’ve liked about a lot of recent FPSes is the movement away from the “floating eyeballs with a gun” feel to giving the player a much greater sense of being in control of a body. So, when you go up to a vehicle in AAW in first person view and press the “use” key, do you just instantly, magically appear inside the vehicle, or is there a first-person animation of you clambering in? I’ve been playing a lot of Far Cry 2 recently, which is why this comes to mind. (I have not watched any videos of the game yet, so this already may be in)

    Funny you should mention that!! You and I have the same opinion. When I was commissioning the new animations for the new skeletal animation system used in the game, I fought long and hard – with myself – to do those animations as you suggested. Though – through animation blending (which we use extensively, thanks to Sergio’s magic) – it can be done with ease, I decided against doing that sort of animation for one simple – but critical reason. It breaks the game flow – and adds nothing to the game.

    Climing into a vehicle, fighter or whatever, using an animation, requires that the animation be played. While it is being played, the trigger action (you being switched from fp mode to the vehicle cockpit) is HALTED until the animation is done playing. That breaks it completely.

    Even in games like GTA-IV, the only reason you see an animation of you opening the car door and getting is, is because there is a door to begin with. So if you’re going to halt the trigger by opening the door, doing collision detect, playing the animation – THEN – letting the player have control, it makes sense that you would do an animation. Why go half way when you can go all the way?

    Our games don’t have any doors, the cockpits don’t open or anything like that. So the switch is instanteous.

    However, we did add a feature whereby since most units have various sets (pilot, driver, gunner, passenger etc), you see icons letting you know which are available. As long as you are facing the one you want, you can enter it. If you misse and enter the wrong one, exiting and trying again is trivial. Imagine if you had to wait for an animation to play before you had control. That is a bad design decision and doesn’t fit in my idea of the game. So I didn’t do it.

  8. Radiant says:

    What vitriol in this comments thread?

  9. Hypocee says:

    Hypocee: you say niche dev and low budget like it’s a bad thing… (glares at stardock, bohemia, CRS, Eve)

    You waaaaaa!? They’re some of my favourite people in the world!

  10. dsmart says:

    @ Black Mamba

    the Valve fanboy teams recently tore apart Stardocks Brad at shacknews for daring to insinuate that Steam is not the best thing ever.

    Yeah, I saw that thread.

    The fact is, Brad is 100% right.

    While I don’t think Impulse is any competition to Steam, let alone the likes of Direct2Drive, Gamers Gate, Metaboli etc thats not the point. The point is that Steam is everything to Valve and Valve games – and nothing more than a residual sales portal (D2D, GG etc) to everyone else.

    The Valve fanboys have invested in the platform, so of course it stands to reason that they would defend it. But I personally know of several friends who no longer buy games on Steam for a variety of reasons.

    Steam has huge numbers, but those numbers are primarily derived from Valve’s own games. I know several developers with games on Steam and I know for a fact that being on Steam has zero impact in terms of the sales you’d think you can get just by being on there.

    Its not like Steam have 15m gamers is going to guarantee that 1m of those are going to buy your game. Thats like saying because Walmart is the biggest retailer, Game Stop, Best Buy etc should just give up the ghost since everyone will just try to get into Walmart.

    It just doesn’t work like that.

    We get quite a decent amount of sales from Direct2Drive, Gamers Gate etc and even though putting it on a popular portal like Steam is always a good thing if there is someone there who will rather buy from Steam than Direct2Drive, its not a make or break decision.

    Heck, people don’t give gamers credit these days. If a gamer wants a game that they’re willing to pay for, they don’t give a rats ass who is selling it.

    When have you ever seen ANY of the other portals tout their numbers? Ever?

    Valve has a lot to prove because they’re using those metrics to attract developers (whose products they want) and publishers (whose business they want). They certainly can’t use individual sales numbers because that would breach all kinds of laws, privacy issues, contract issues etc.

    The same can be said for e.g. Braid. Jon is putting it on Steam and other portals just because he can, not because he had to. In fact, he has come right out and said that he’s not even concerned about the PC sales revenue.

  11. Drakkheim says:

    Hypcoee. Oh well then I mis-read your response :) Sorry bout that.

    Speaking of Impulse, I found it interesting that they’re selling Corel Painter on it.

  12. Drool says:

    I’m not trying to be a prick, but are you really going to make a game called “KnightBlade,” because that’s a horrible title for anything.

    It sounds like a generic piece of shovelware from the 16 bit era, or worse, a Rob Liefeld character.

  13. Hypocee says:

    *cough*TheverysurvivalofIntroversion*cough*. And as I’ve said somewhere else here that I forget, I was around for the launch of Sword of the Stars – patches (desperately needed because that game was released ridiculously bugged) took literally more than a month after website release to trickle through the bureaucracies of GG and D2D.

    On the other hand, I’ve been balanced on Steam for a long time, and right now I’ve been unable to play my several hundred bucks in Steam games for two weeks and counting because of a five-dollar SNAFU with my bank.

  14. PC Monster says:

    “guys its great that you want to stand up and take a swing at him but for gods sake stop being so damn amateur troll about it”

    Actually, no, it’s bloody pathetic. If you guys want to act like childish dicks, go play on YouTube. Me, I’m here to talk games and am exceedingly grateful to have the chance to interact with honest-to-gosh game developers here on RPS. It’s bad behaviour like this that gives gamers a bad name – those responsible should all be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

    As to your comments, Mr Smart, I’m glad you clarified your position re: the death of the Space genre. It has been many years since a decent mainstream space game appeared, and I think the last two or three of note were from East-European developers. It greatly pains me to admit that a genre so dear to my heart is all but cremated here in the west but I find it interesting to analyse why this is. I remember once holding out great hopes for your Battlecruiser NextGen project – would I be right in assuming that’s been shunted into the MMO model you were talking about? – and was gutted when your plans moved in different directions.

    I’m not sure I can trust what you said about Egosoft, though. Without proof of them ‘hurting’ it sounds very much like pure personal opinion, and as previously noted, it doesn’t jibe with the constant new releases and determined efforts to develop new content for patches. I, for one, am curious to see which direction they go in next, having devoted all these years building just one IP.

    I blame EA, too. :)

  15. Kieron Gillen says:

    Gentlemen, be gentlemen.

    KG

  16. Skurmedel says:

    He took a very large dump on EvE, which I don’t appreciate.

  17. Drool says:

    I thought he was pretty generous to Eve. He basically said it’s not a game for everyone, but it’s a great game for the people who like it. This couldn’t be more true.

    Calling a space spreadsheet is a bit reductive, but the game asks for it.

  18. SirKicksalot says:

    Reading this interview made me hope again that maybe one day I’ll make my own games too…

    This guy is like some sort of Howard Roark of the gaming world:)

  19. Theoban says:

    Speaking as someone who hasn’t played any games by Mr. Smart, nor do I know much about him, if this game pulls off what’s intended, I will be very interested to play it.

  20. Jad says:

    If you misse and enter the wrong one, exiting and trying again is trivial. Imagine if you had to wait for an animation to play before you had control. That is a bad design decision and doesn’t fit in my idea of the game.

    Okay, well it obviously depends on the type of game. Far Cry 2 was very focused on delivering an immersive, “realistic” world, with a Half-Life-style lack of cut-scenes, guns that jam, long healing animations, etc. When you’re under fire and you have to make the choice of staying on foot or jumping on the machine gun mounted on a vehicle, part of the calculus of that choice is the knowledge that you’ll be vulnerable while the climbing-aboard animation plays out, just as you would be in a real firefight. However, in other games, with different design intentions, that mechanic would be intolerable.

    What makes a little less sense is it seems that you’re claiming that GTA IV only put in character-climbing-into-car animation because they had car models with doors that open. I feel like Rockstar did put a lot more thought into what kind of game they wanted (gameplay vs. immersion) when they chose to have players wait while the animation plays out than “we’ve got doors, lets have the characters open them”. If you decided that AAW was going to be the kind of game with that design aesthetic, you would have demanded that cockpits open and close.

    But you’ve decided to make AAW with a different feel, thus you didn’t put those animations in. Note I am not in any way saying that this is a bad thing. You’ve obviously put thought into it, and it is your game after all.

    I also a agree with PC Monster that talking to an actual developer (and one, now, of a genre I love — FPSes) is really cool and the trolling is lame.

  21. Larington says:

    Yeah I’m on the boat of regardless of your feelings about whether or not he is in your opinion a developer, he still has games development experience which places most of us one level beneath him… You can either accept that, or be bitter. I choose the former.

    I found in Planetside, the game would switch to third person for exiting and entering vehicles and also a landing animation sequence for when you’ve ejected from an aircraft. The exit/entry animations were swift enough that I never had an issue with them, though on full consideration I would’ve preferred it if they’d not broken perspective in order to do it. The bail landing animation was kind of annoying, though mostly because the ‘elite’ players knew how to bypass it whilst the casuals didn’t, the games ended up being full of holes of that kind.

    Still, you’ve made your choice for how entry/exit of vehicles is done and given a good justification for doing so, so I won’t argue over it since its personal preference at work as much as anything else.

  22. Hypocee says:

    [...]if this game pulls off what’s intended, I will be very interested to play it.

    That is a big ‘if’. It may be the biggest ‘if’ you’ve ever spoken. That’s pretty much the point of the Dr. Derek Smart brand.

  23. Matt says:

    I much prefer gamers gate to steam as it’s much more user friendly for me and apparently more friendly to most developers as well. I think that a lot of people need to tone down on the whole “valve is saving pc gaming” routine. It feels good being able to say that knowing that anyone wanting to flame me has to get past Derek Smart first. Thanks Derek.

    They can pull that crap with other developers, like – oh I dunno – Denis Dyack maybe, but not me.

    Neogaf have some pretty impressive animated gifs. I’ve seen them. It’s hard to respond to debate at that high intellectual level, so be careful.

  24. Andrew says:

    Really interesting interview to be honest. Whoever the developer is, I prefer more candid, less PR based interviews that don’t just talk “Project features A, B, C, numbers X, Y, Z, screenshots!”.

    I especially like the insight into Steam and other distribution services – there is really no need to call any of them the godsend, they’ll all compete (diversifying or consolidating, or targeting niches as appropriate). The comment on GoG is spot on.

    I’ll be trying the demo if there is one – I think this is a bigger investment of time then some other smaller team projects (at least I assume Dereks team is smallish), such as it is a bigger game, thus well worth some attention. Space combat specifically never really tugged at me, but tactical ground combat always is interesting.

    I wonder if it’ll support modding in any form. Most FPS multiplayer titles generally do just for map creation or diversifying the AI or in built attributes/weapons/vehicles, and keeps the game going for a nice while too. Hard to add in some cases though, I’ve no idea what the tech is like underneath.

  25. weclock says:

    just because your editors seem to get it wrong in every goddamn article, it’s GOG not gog or GoG or gOg, but all caps, Good Old Games. The lower case “o” is primarily only used for small words that don’t have much meaning like WoW is “of.” “of” is insignificant incomparison to World or Warcraft, which is why those two are capitalized in the name “World of Warcraft” as opposed to all 3 words

    in Good Old Games, all three words are capitalized because all three are equally important.

  26. dsmart says:

    @ PC Monster

    I remember once holding out great hopes for your Battlecruiser NextGen project – would I be right in assuming that’s been shunted into the MMO model you were talking about? – and was gutted when your plans moved in different directions.

    Yes, indeed. Battlecruiser Next Gen was to be the next big thing. The original plan was to overhaul the whole thing, add in-door levels to all (over 50 objects) cap ships, stations, bases etc. In fact, that overhaul would have taken the better part of two to three years to do since it would entail gutting out a lot of our legacy code.

    However, the more I thought about it, the more nervous I got. At 45, with a family of my own now, I’m not the gung-ho Jack I used to be back when I started out. So these decisions tend to take me longer to make as I stare suspiciously at my bank account.

    In the end, as I said in the interview, it just made sense to spend North of a million or two (amortized given the fact that most all the core engines we have in AAW were practically gutted and re-written) doing an MMO which we could then nurture over the years in the same manner that we have our plethora of non-MMO games.

    It is not question of whether not it can be done. Of course it can be done – especially given our tech and collective experience. The greater question is how we’re going to address that whole ROI issue.

    So, I either spend $2-3m and about two years doing the BCNG overhaul, or just go balls out and spend a little bit more on the MMO that is sure to have a better – and more rapid & stable ROI.

    Basically, BCNG because GCO. The rest is history.

    To be frank, doing AAW and KB are just financial stepping stones and an attempt to shore up our bank a/c because once those two are over and done with, until GCO is launched, the only income we’re going to be seeing are from those two and our residual income from previous games. I don’t have investors – don’t want any – and my games support the company as they always have. So I’m not going to go out and borrow $5m to do a game, when the prudent thing to do would be to be conservative and just take the time. There is no rush to bring GCO to market. There is no pressure. In fact, I even toyed with the idea of canceling KnightBlade altogether but why do that when I can make money off a game based on engines that we’ve already overhauled? We don’t have to spent two years on KB when we already have the engines. In fact, most of the work is going to be in the asset creation than in engine and gameplay development.

    The end result is that GCO – when it comes out – will be a mirror of our niche games, but with all the bells and whistles of a community based MMO and high-end features. Things like first person action, space and planetary combat, trading etc – all staples of our games, will all be present. The new additions – apart from the new and revised engines – in terms of high end features, will be the indoor levels for all cap ships, stations, bases etc. As well as the ability for players to replace NPC crew slots.

    I’m not sure I can trust what you said about Egosoft, though. Without proof of them ‘hurting’ it sounds very much like pure personal opinion, and as previously noted, it doesn’t jibe with the constant new releases and determined efforts to develop new content for patches. I, for one, am curious to see which direction they go in next, having devoted all these years building just one IP.

    Well I was talking in terms of the decline in sales of the space combat genre. If it made sense, there would be another X space game coming. As it stands, there isn’t. And even if they announced another space game, my guess is that it will be an MMO. It is the most sensible thing to do. IF they can afford to do it, that is.

    @ Jad

    Actually I made no such claims, did I? Reading….nope, didn’t. In fact the reason its done in GTA-VI, is the same reason you cited and why it was done in Far Cry2.

    Those are different games with different style, pacing and gameplay.

  27. dsmart says:

    @ Weclock

    RoTFLmAo!!! :)

  28. Torgen says:

    Since Dr. Smart is responding to comments, I’d like to ask one. The basic premise and screen shots of AAW immediately lead me to comparisons with Planetside. How would you compare and differentiate the two games, aside from one being a MMO and the other a more traditional multiplayer game?

    Also: Why has everyone who has tried to make a spiritual successor to the original X-Com failed, in your opinion?

  29. Mike says:

    Loving the site.

  30. Bremze says:

    Exp is only saved in ranked servers and single play and its needed to use advanced weapons and vehicles? Then why bother playing unranked servers?
    Also the exp system has been already used in a quite similar game – PlanetSide. It worked nicely until most of the players gained all skills.

  31. Senethro says:

    DS has already said that XP will be lost for poor performance and losing games, de-levelling you if you like. Perhaps that means skill saturation won’t occur.

    Might have some problems of its own, though. My ETQW experience was surprisingly full of players grinding XP, achievements, switching to the winning team, sitting in spectator for up to 10 minutes to join the winning team, quitting the game if they can’t get on a winning team and generally blaming everyone else for ruining the appearance of their stats page.

    All this in a game without unlocks and where silly stats numbers didn’t matter. It became the case that the only fairly accurate measure of a player’s skill was frags/hour as that was difficult to cheat on.

    So, whats going to happen in MP AAW where joining an obviously weak team will put your pilot’s license at risk?

  32. Bremze says:

    The losing team having an exp bonus might help. The exp system seems really unfriendly to beginners, not only are you worse at the game, you are being handicapped for it.

  33. Larington says:

    I’ve seen people (Here in the UK) wishing they didn’t have to play against Americans because apparently they’re sore loosers who’ll quit a game if it looks as though they might lose or are just generally annoying in some way. I don’t game online enough anymore to be able to claim I share that opinion though.

  34. Torgen says:

    @Bremze: That’s the reason WWII Online scrapped the xp loss on death before release. Of course, in WWIIOL, there are limited numbers of everything but the most basic vehicles/infantry loadouts, so having a n00b drive all three of your remaining Tigers into the same anti-tank ambush, one after another, does not engender desire in the experienced players to be understanding of youngsters who can’t be bothered to read the documentation.

  35. Hypocee says:

    The way I read it, the XP restrictions may only apply on ranked servers.

  36. Nick says:

    I think he makes a lot of excellent points in all fairness, I only ever bought Battlecruiser 3000AD back when it was released but I just failed miserably at getting my head around it. It did get a high score in PCG at the time which was what promted me to buy it.

    I must admit preconcieved notions about Derek Smart, but the interview has warmed me to him (obviously he has no reason to care about my feelings one way or the other, but I think it is nice to see a larger side to him than the usual comment wars)… and to understand why he responds the way he does, well, I don’t think he should be judged any differently for responding in kind than those he replies to, if anything it’s refreshing not to have someone take the high ground and passionately defend their work – at least it shows self belief.

    Interesting comments on steam vs other online sales..er.. thingies. All in all great interview, good job Kieron (and Derek)

  37. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    I can’t shake the feeling that one particular joke would’ve been funnier if Rossignol were the one doing the interview.

  38. Nick says:

    Oh and he clearly has excellent taste in site designers.. much like RPS.

  39. cliffski says:

    Agreed. this is mental.
    99.99% of the people who talk about DS being such a total failure would explode in orgasmic delight if they could swap their current jobs for running their own games companies and owning all the (obviously sufficient) profits.
    Its like the people who work in cubicles who snort with derision at millionaires beacuse they don’t earn as much as Bill Gates.
    DS does exactly what he wants, with no boss to tell him what to do, and makes a living from it. As someone in a similar position, I can assure you that such a life is great. I don’t think he needs any sympathy

  40. dsmart says:

    Since Dr. Smart is responding to comments, I’d like to ask one. The basic premise and screen shots of AAW immediately lead me to comparisons with Planetside. How would you compare and differentiate the two games, aside from one being a MMO and the other a more traditional multiplayer game?

    They are vastly different. You can’t compare two games just based on their premise and genre. I could list a bunch of features that Planetside (and probably ever other fps on the planet), doesn’t have – but that would be a waste of my time.

    I have a better idea. Here, go read the game docs. They are 99% completed except for the multiplayer (needs some revision) and the appendix (needs a bunch of info).

    Come back and ask questions if still have any.

    Planetside – IMO – would have fared a lot better were it not an MMO.

    Also: Why has everyone who has tried to make a spiritual successor to the original X-Com failed, in your opinion?

    Incompetence would be my first guess. But thats just me.

    DS has already said that XP will be lost for poor performance and losing games, de-levelling you if you like. Perhaps that means skill saturation won’t occur.

    Indeed. You can lose XP in a bunch of ways and that IMO will balance things out.

    So, whats going to happen in MP AAW where joining an obviously weak team will put your pilot’s license at risk?

    For one thing, there is no spectator mode. And specifically for the reasons you cited.

    Second, it doesn’t matter what team you are on because the personal stats are not team based. They are individual.

    There were links in the interview, but for some reason they don’t seem to appear in the RPS transcript, so here they are.

    GameLobby (screen shot)

    Leaderboards (Live, but WIP)

    At the end of the day, there will be loopholes, exploits etc. We will tackle and ultimatedly defeat them as they occur.

    Exp is only saved in ranked servers and single play and its needed to use advanced weapons and vehicles? Then why bother playing unranked servers?

    Apart from the fact that not everyone can setup a ranked server? And even so, they’ll probably be full most of the time?

    Except, as has been pointed out, he has made plenty of money and still continues to make games.. if he had actually failed he wouldn’t still be making them unless he was independantly wealthy or something, now would he?

    Don’t feed the trolls. Let them starve to death. Either that or they’ll just keep wondering why their posts keep mysteriously disappearing.

    You just can’t reason with people like that. So why bother? Thats like the school yard bully who feels all powerful and strong because there’s a teacher or his buddies closeby. Get him in a corner and by the time you’re done, he’ll be running home to mommy with pee stained pants. I knew a few like that in my day. My guess is they’re either dead, in jail or living under a bridge somewhere.

  41. Gunrun says:

    But seriously if this is sort of easy to figure out (unlike every other game DS has made) and it has a decent tutorial, and it isn’t buggy as hell I might buy this.

  42. aaron says:

    I’ve always thought Mr. Smart had a lot of good ideas and could talk a good game, but in the end just could not deliver. Nothing I’ve seen over the years, or anything I’ve seen in regards to the current project, has changed that assessment.

    I don’t really care if he’s abrasive or arrogant. Artists often are. He’s a PC game developer who makes, by and large, mediocre PC games. Kudos to him for sticking to his principles and keeping his nose to the grindstone–everyone should do the same. That said, persistence and dedication do not immunize one to criticism, and Mr. Smart’s seemingly outright (and often vitriolic)rejection of even the most valid of criticisms does sour my opinion of the man. He has a large enough fan-base to keep him in business, sure, but this is the internet and the 21st century. There is a market for everything. You can be the biggest Twilight fan-fiction writer there is, but that still doesn’t mean your writing is good.

    Some people enjoy his games, and I say enjoy away. He can (and should) keep making them. I reject the notion that everything that can find a fan-base is worthwhile and that criticism is the product of a weak and envious mind, however. Mr. Smart is very dedicated to his craft, I just don’t think he’s very good at it. That does not mean I think he should quit.

  43. LionsPhil says:

    I have to agree that the XP loss/banhammering sounds like a major turnoff. Horrible, horrible memories of the otherwise good Wolf:ET and getting kicked because moron teammates wouldn’t stop tapdancing on my minefields.

    I’m curious as to how exactly need to put levels into piloting skills will stop the plane-griefing hell of public BF1942, too. There are far too many hotshot dicks in the world who will all camp the airbase while the team fails, then TK whichever of them manages to clamber in first. Needing to specialise just means that they’ll be even less equipped to do anything but camp for planes.

    People are dicks, but trying to use mechanisms to stop them being dicks doesn’t tend to work very well, because dicks are perversely creative in their chosen passtime of being annoying.

    (Also: ye gods, if Derek’s unrepentantly abrasive writing style what passes for full-out arrogant cockery these days, be glad you lot haven’t seen the Linux Kernel Mailing List. You’d spontaneously catch fire, or something.)

  44. dsmart says:

    Every game I have ever developed, has been released for free, by me – and as a way of giving back to an industry that affords me the luxuries of doing what I love and what I’m good at.

    I don’t regret what I do, how I do it, nor how I’ve done it. For me it has been one helluva learning experience.

    So yeah, take your pot shots. I’m not the one sitting in a cubible slaving for the man, buried in debt, living a meaningless existence and going through life like I was born into some sort of entitlement. I’m the guy sitting in my home office – or by the pool – in my underwear living the life I want on my own terms and my own rules. With a laptop, an internet connection and not a care in the world except for my family and the guys who – for so many years – have worked with me day in and day out doing what we love the most and because we all share a common idea of what it is we want to do.

    The life I live today is based on brave decisions I made many years ago and the storms I had to brave because I believed in what I was doing. All I needed was to believe in what I was doing. Everything else, all this rubbish you guys keep dishing out, is just inconsequential noise.

    To this day, on sites around the world, my games – free – and all, are downloaded, they make the download charts (e.g. here is the File Planet one) constantly.

    Thats how I build my install base. People who would otherwise not have tried my game – for reason (e.g. the crap that losers who never played my games, tend to post) or the other – tend to try it, make a beeline for our website and ultimately end up buying the latest game. Thats why I keep making them.

    As I type this, I’ve been funding a major v2.0 graphics upgrade for a game, Universal Combat CE I released in Q4/07. For free. The last title of its kind and I wanted to give the ol’ gal a proper send off, so I upgraded it with all the new graphics bells and whistles from the Echo Squad SE game (2008) and will release it for free when its done. That effort costs money, not to mention time. But since there won’t be another space game in the series for another two years, I wanted to extend the life of that last nice space combat game as best I could to tide the tribe over. Thats the sort of thing that keeps me in business. Its called loyalty. Look it up.

  45. drewski says:

    I don’t like Derek Smart games, but I do like Derek Smart interviews and comment threads.

  46. Gunrun says:

    Incidentally I disagree that the space combat genre is dead, seeing how X3 Terran Conflict actually sold really well.

  47. dsmart says:

    @ LionsPhil

    Yep. Believe me, as a gamer, I am well aware of all that and we have steps in place to combat it.

    For one thing, unless you’re a pilot class, your ass ain’t climbing into a plane. Period.

    And if you want to be a cock while playing the pilot class, well you’ll find that my games are not just notorious for cutting edge AI, you’ll also learn that cocks don’t fly. Because by the time you’ve actually spent your short and meaningless life in the air for the sole purpose of griefing, my guess is that a SAM or SAL site has already shot you down enough times to leave a burn mark on your ass.

    And playing as one of the three infantry classes also has some shockers in place. e.g. just because you see a vehicle, doesn’t mean you can get in it.

    And kill your team mates – even by FF – you’ll get a violation flag. Get enough of those and you won’t be able to play on ANY game server. Ever. In other words, you’ll be griefing the NPCs in your single player game – not other games in multilplayer.

    Plus, since we’re using ByteShield DRM (virtually uncrackable as of this writing) which uses an online authentication method tied to your account, keep at it and I have the ability to completely lock you out of the game entirely. Something that I can legally do btw since you would be violating the TOS.

    So whether you play on ranked servers or not, we’re not going to tolerate any griefing. People already know my short leash for that sort of thing, so it will come as no surprise when I start banning people. It will just make them all the more mad at me. That, I can deal with.

  48. dsmart says:

    People are dicks, but trying to use mechanisms to stop them being dicks doesn’t tend to work very well, because dicks are perversely creative in their chosen passtime of being annoying.

    Indeed. But to deal with dicks, you have to be a dick yourself. That, I have no problems with.

    The best way that most of us devs and publishers have to found to deal with dicks, is to completely take them out. Out of the equation that is.

    Sure they will find ways to get around it, but the more effort they put into coming back, the more you know that you’re hitting them where it hurts. The time they spend circumventing the system (new account, email address, IP proxies etc), is time they’re not griefing someone else in your game.

  49. Gunrun says:

    “Plus, since we’re using ByteShield DRM (virtually uncrackable as of this writing) which uses an online authentication method tied to your account, keep at it and I have the ability to completely lock you out of the game entirely. Something that I can legally do btw since you would be violating the TOS.”
    Hehe this is going to go down well.

    I seriously do hope this game has a good tutorial and is reletavily simple to at least start playing. As an FPS type game I’d assume it is but who knows!
    If this game comes out with a demo, and is actually easy to get into and pleasant to play I will genuinly buy a copy, and recommend it to my friends, instead of just aquiring it through other means to show my friends how bad it is.

  50. LionsPhil says:

    Oh dear. From the ByteShield site: “…an honest end-user with auto login turned on will never notice ByteShield”. Yes, because obviously acting as a hidden little botfly larvae burrowing its way around inside the paying customer’s Windows install has proved so popular with every other copy protection system. At least Steam sits in your system tray and says “I’m Steam, and I’ll be managing your licenses for today”.

    Violation flags might work as long as there’s a cooldown on them, to allow for the inevitable thing which makes friendly fire a game dynamic in the first place: it requires care to not shoot the wrong guys, and sometimes artillery falls short, lines of fire get crossed, and someone fails to hear “frag out”.

    Which at least means that those doing it on purpose are rate-limited, if not stopped, I suppose.