By Alec Meer on June 16th, 2009 at 12:08 am.
Here’s a tale to warm the cockles of your dark, bitter heart. Lest you’ve not been following the remarkable fallout to Jim’s quickie post concerning the recent demo of Derek Smart’s latest indie opus, its sprawling comments thread has become something of a biblical epic of hate, love, redemption and disagreements about where people’s arms appear when they swim. Initially, the thread was as miserably expected: a few of our local Grumpymen took an immediate pop at Derek and his games, labouring under the delusion that his… ah, spotty reputation as a gentleman of the internet gave them free reign to insult him here. He responded in kind, as he is known to do. We sighed, and deleted most of the shouting, because we like to keep a happy house here. We also stocked our desks with caffeinated beverages and salted snacks, in preparation for a long night of troll castration. And then, a remarkable thing happened….
A few curious readers ended up discussing the game’s ins and outs with Derek in earnest. One thing led to another, and they ended up playing AAW with him – a personal guided tour of this ambitious, complicated future-soldier sim. Upon their return, the simmering confusion and resentment that had previously characterised the troubled thread was replaced by a wondrous air of chuminess – from both sides. Also, statements from Derek that he’d taken their constructive criticism onboard and was implenting changes right away – indeed, there have been several significant patches to the demo, clearly informed by comments and playtesting from all over the place, but with RPS readers playing a definite part. Well done, you men.
Since then, the conversation’s continued, with more people getting involved and a sense of unprecedented access to the development process. The game itself might be dividing opinions, but its intention and the love that went into it is now incredibly clear – by Bukowski it’s a heartwarming thread. The lion, sleeping with the lamb – and a game being improved on the fly as a result of community suggestion. The walls between gamers and developers have always been depressing, and more so now there’s definite proof of what can be achieved when they are torn down.
Derek’s just released what he says is the last patch for the demo, ahead of the game’s full release. You can grab both the demo and the patch from here, and it’s also worth a scan of the devlog to marvel at quite how much has been tweaked and fixed in just four short days – there’s some pretty sweeping changes in there. Annoyingly the RPS Hivemind hasn’t had the chance to fire the thing up yet ourselves, but come a lull in the work it’s on the list.