Best Wishes To Project Zomboid

By Alec Meer on October 17th, 2011 at 11:07 am.

Well, at least their house didn't catch fire

We already mentioned this briefly in The Sunday Papers, but really it deserves its own post – both because of how flat-out tragic the situation is, and because a vocal subset of the online response to it has been repellent. To summarise: The Indie Stone, developers of Project Zomboid (as yet unreleased, but playable builds are offered to anyone who pre-orders) suffered a break-in over the weekend, with the thief making off with two of their laptops. One of these laptops contained the current and in-development code for the game and future updates. The other laptop contained the only backups of the latest code.

Needless to say, the team – just four guys making them game themselves, and funding it solely via pre-order money – are distraught, apologetic and enormously self-recriminatory. There’s a statement from PZ’s writer Will Porter here, but the long and short of it is that, while the game will continue, clearly it’s going to delay the next update. The finished game has never been given a release date, but the community has come to expect a regular trickle of new builds and features. The current build is still online and running however, and I’m assured the game’s wider integrity is not compromised. All will be well again very soon.

Unfortunately, a vocal but small subset of the game’s players (or idle observers) weren’t satisifed by any of this, and immediately gave the devs an enormous amount of openly hostile grief about not having another backup – some wretched nutters (primarily trolling onlookers rather than players) even declared the theft was simply an elaborate scam. Most players were supportive or silent, which is what really matters, but clearly even a little poison was the last thing the devs needed in their fresh wound. A little of this knee-jerk, know-it-all vigilantism even found its way [important edit - I mean the primarly now-deleted people hurling insults, not the people having calm discussion about the importance of backing up] into our comments threads, for which I am thoroughly ashamed and worried – not purely in terms of Project Zomboid, but because it suggests the distinction between independent and corporate development seems to have been lost in the wake of growing quantities of indie success stories.

Quite obviously, being indie doesn’t justify being ramshackle about other aspects of the business – but it does massively increase the chances of it. These are non-established indie developers, making it up as they go along. They are not businessmen or security experts or anything other than four guys making a game from their own homes. They’re where they are by chance as much as by skill, and similarly disaster was as much a result of chance as oversight. We must remember that the randomness and chaos of indie gaming is what makes indie gaming indie gaming. Sometimes the die is going to come up snake eyes.

Granted, the devs were hugely unwise to publicly, immediately, drunkenly and… passionately declare and respond to their bad news on Twitter rather than privately assess the situation and come up with a considered, community-reassuring response later on, but it’s grim and unsettling that they encountered so much hostility. It’s made what was once a very public and open team turn that much more private, and that’s just very sad.

EA or Valve or even Mojang would doubtless have more protection and safeguards against this kind of event – and The Indie Stone should have done too. They didn’t, they know it, they’re suffering for it, they won’t make the same mistake again and they’re doing everything they can to ensure their customers get the game they paid for with a minimum of delays.

All the very best, and the greatest of sympathy to them. They’ll come back stronger from this, I am quite sure.

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231 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    Hanban says:

    Sweet Demogorgon. I wish these guys the best, they’ve met a few too many bumps on the road already.

    • jp0249107 says:

      They probably could have avoided the PR disaster by ignoring the awful entitled douches on reddit, but regardless of that yeah…they’ve been through some tough times. I’m sure things will turn out in the end though.

    • PopeJamal says:

      I understand that people make mistakes, but honestly, I’m really disappointed.

      This isn’t the first indication that in certain ways, these guys don’t seem to know what they’re doing. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in them actually delivering a finished, polished product.

      They’ve already got my money, and I’m not going to ask for it back, but quite honestly, I’ll think twice when the next group of guys com around for handouts for their new, awesome game idea.

      These guys, though not intentionally, are making indie devs look like amateurs.

    • psyk says:

      How could they of stopped the thief stealing the stuff?

      Online backups that could be hacked and nulled
      A bank that could get broken in to
      A secure storage site that could be broken in to

    • DzX says:

      “How could they have stopped the thief stealing the stuff”

      Playing such a ridiculous devils advocate just makes their situation look even worse tbh; it’s common knowledge you’re meant to constantly back-up work – especially on a product you’ve already taken money for. The chances of their online back-ups getting ‘hacked and nullified’ is practically zero – because really who’s going to bother? But if that somehow did happen alongside the stolen laptops people would be sympathetic – at least they displayed an ounce of common sense in backing up in the first place; why hold people to such low standards when they’re taking money?

      In doing so [not criticizing these people] you’re paving the way for future indie devs to do the same thing – I bet every indie dev of any note has made sure they have back-ups in place now. Just because they’re small and indie doesn’t mean they deserve non-stop support and constant positive feedback. These guys came from commercial software development [or their tweets implied it] – I, nor anyone, should offer no sympathy that they didn’t produce back-ups.

      Any sympathy I did have for them was lost during those drunken Twitter posts. I presume most of the abuse came flying in because they originally claimed it ‘might be the end of the project’ due to their own incompetence so you can’t really blame people for getting angry having lost money to them.
      Any dev that states “I’ll take your money and fucking jump out the window” [I beleive it was something similar to that anyway] doesn’t deserve my money – they’re meant to be professionals, they’re a company taking per-orders on a game at the end of the day, when did we lower our standards of behavior so drastically; because they’re indie? They’re taking money, they’re culpable in this instance and they need to learn to deal with the consequences.

    • rayne117 says:

      “Online backups that could be hacked and nulled”

      Are you literally not kidding. My face is slamming so hard into every possible desk.

      You honestly think a common criminal would be able to get into the computer and think to check every single online account and delete everything they could from it when the first thing you’d do if your computer was stolen would be to change EVERY password, especially the one’s that contain very private gaming code.

      As far as the devs go, I have backups of my porn (my porn for chrissake’s. how can I have porn backups but these guys didn’t have backups for their new game?), there are simply no excuses.

  2. Zeewolf says:

    I guess it’s a good thing that indie PC games are now so widely accepted that they attract all kinds of morons, not just enthusiasts. Still, sad. I hope things work out for the devs.

  3. telpscorei says:

    It’s at times like these that I hope that some facebookery occurs that results in the laptops returned and the thieves apologetic or possibly strung up by their thumbs. I don’t really mind which. Actually I do. I want their thumbs. Fuckers.

  4. JuJuCam says:

    The problem with twitter is that it’s that much easier to hit send. My personal method of blowing off steam is to write a long, reasoned and possibly vitriolic email or blog or comment (or if I’m particularly passionate, letter written longhand), read it over a few times, and then delete it (or burn it).

    Twitter makes it easier to shit out angry nuggets that will come back and bite you within seconds if you are public enough. I feel this is a situation that wouldn’t have gotten so out of control pre twit.

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      Hanban says:

      @JuJuCam

      I do more or less the exact same thing. Often when I see someone is wrong on the internet I’ll give my well-measured, logical, retort at the person for expressing their (often ‘stupid’) opinion. Then I’ll re-read my comments, see that it’s not always well-measured and logical, and just not do it.

      Sometimes I can’t stop myself, however. But hopefully I’ve hovered on the send button long enough to at least make a decent attempt of being constructive.

  5. saladin says:

    I think Lemmy’s outburst on Twitter was regrettable, but understandable. It’s also the face of Indie game development – passionate and personal. The reason you don’t see the AAA developers doing that is because they don’t really care about what they’re making, as long as it makes them piles of cash. When people throw vitriol at them, it doesn’t really matter, seeing as they are hidden behind the corporate face of their studio. On the other hand, Indie teams are stuck right out there in the teeth of the gale, with no corporate body to cower behind.

    I feel a great deal of sympathy for the whole team, and Lemmy in particular. It’s a real shame he burnt his bridges, but if I were in his shoes, I’d probably do exactly the same thing.

    • Iain_1986 says:

      “The reason you don’t see the AAA developers doing that is because they don’t really care about what they’re making, as long as it makes them piles of cash.”

      I completely resent this. There are many “passionate” and “personal” developers in all AAA developers. The reason you don’t see the ranting on twitter is simply because of professionalism…don’t kid yourself if you don’t think people are saying these things in the offices of those studios.

      Also this idea that AAA developers are “just in it for the money” and indy are in it “for the games” is just naive too. Again there are plenty of developers in AAA studios passionate about the games they are fighting for and working on…and indy developers are on the rise at the moment (especially with the pre-order alpha model) because of the huge sums of money Minecraft made. Many indy developers are hoping to get rich of their products.

    • pipman3000 says:

      No, AAA devolopers are nothing but soulless greedy hacks who care about making money by working for the man because of

    • LionsPhil says:

      This almost revisionistic idea that non-indie devs are not “passionate” about their craft is one of the more annoying trends of the rise of indie.

      Sure, the cynical and formulaic exist, and Sturgeon’s Law might even make them the majority, but there are plenty of publisher-backed games with love poured into them.

    • Dante says:

      I agree with Ian, saladin is dead wrong.

      The reason that you don’t see mainstream developers doing this is because they are told to leave PR to those with thicker skins, and shouted at if they do.

      I know Indie Stone wanted to connect personally with fans, but in future I think they’ll be better served by coming to a similar arrangement and having Will Porter speak for them.

    • Derek Smart says:

      @saladin

      The reason you don’t see the AAA developers doing that is because they don’t really care about what they’re making, as long as it makes them piles of cash. When people throw vitriol at them, it doesn’t really matter, seeing as they are hidden behind the corporate face of their studio. On the other hand, Indie teams are stuck right out there in the teeth of the gale, with no corporate body to cower behind.

      Wot a load of horseshit.

    • Wulf says:

      Without just throwing kneejerk reactions out there, I actually think that the truth is somewhere in between.

      I think that it’s all too possible to cynically make AAA games, the yearly FIFA or Call of Duty strikes me as incredibly cynical, if I’m being honest, but that doesn’t mean that all publisher backed games are like that. And likewise, indie developers can be guilty of this, too. Just look at the tripe that casual developers pump out so regularly, most of that is ‘indie’ but not a lot of it seems to have been produced passionately.

      I think that the truth of things is that it’s more noticeable with AAA developers than it is with casual developers, since AAA developers make themselves more noticed with their constant yapping on game sites, and their advertising campaigns. You don’t see that in regards to casual shovelware, only in regards to AAA shovelware.

      See, it’s then easy to believe that AAA developers are dispassionate about their games because of this, versus indie developers. When we see indie developers talk, it’s with passion, but all too often we give a mouthpiece to some talking head that honestly sounds like they couldn’t care less about their game. I mean, ArenaNet sounds like they’re really passionate, but by comparison, the DC Universe Online stuff sounded like people just wanted to make a quick buck.

      It all comes down to which developers you listen to, how they present themselves, and how aware you are of casual/indie shovelware (which does exist). I think that this attitude caused by the ‘indie uprising’ is more of an artefact of how people have been unwilling to admit that shovelware exists if it’s coming from AAA developers, and that everything AAA must therefore be golden. (That’s an idea I don’t agree with.)

      So whilst saladin clearly isn’t right (and obviously so), I do think that his attitude is understandable.

    • rayne117 says:

      You said some good words there Wulf.

    • Dreamhacker says:

      To be fair, AAA game devs would have had off-site backups.

  6. Branthog says:

    It’s unfair to label them as scammers just because they’ve had much misfortune, but that doesn’t change their incredibly unprofessional behavior — which they then try to justify by saying “hey, we’re *indy*, man!” as if it’s some sort of punk-rock attitude to be cheered on.

    Their response is a no-brainer lose/lose situation. They should have stopped at releasing the original news of the event and stepped away from it for a few days. All this has done is burn some bridges with people who supported them with money and with their newly displayed attitude, they desperately need as many of them on their side as they can get, because nobody is going to want to invest in or do business with people who seem like such a festering time-bomb of liability.

    Best of luck to them. It sure will be great to eventually see their dream realized . . but damn are they ever not doing themselves any favors.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      “which they then try to justify by saying “hey, we’re *indy*, man!” as if it’s some sort of punk-rock attitude to be cheered on.”

      I was under the impression that Indie game development basically is the equivalent of punk rock. But whatever…

    • Octaeder says:

      I think their “Hey, we’re indie” post was more to point out that they were probably exactly as pissed off by the hatred directed at them as any developer would be. The difference is, the bigger developers probably have very clear PR guidelines about responding to criticism, whereas Indie Stone are four guys – one of whom drunk and in a bad emotional state – with twitter accounts.

    • telpscorei says:

      I’m pretty sure their “unprofessional behaviour” was explainable by the whole “we just got robbed, please stop telling us what we should have done, WE JUST GOT ROBBED”.

      I honestly cannot understand why people just don’t have the basic thought process to think that hey, the first thought that went through their collective heads was “I wish we had backed up this stuff on the cloud recently”, and I should maybe just offer sympathy for a bunch of guys who, our survey says, just got robbed.

    • Pardoz says:

      Does having just been robbed explain unprofessional behaviour? You betcha.

      Does it justify it? Nope.

      It’s fairly easy to explain the vitriol and bile that’s been heaped on the team too, but that doesn’t justify that either.

    • Walsh says:

      Uhh what the fuck? They aren’t professionals, they are amateurs. Professionals have PR teams to write responses. Amateurs write off the cuff, maybe proofread if you are lucky.

    • Pardoz says:

      Leaving aside the semantic question of what constitutes an amateur (I’d argue that “forming a company to sell a commercial product” moves you from the category of “amateur” to “professional but not necessarily very good at it” but there’s plenty of space in there for arguments about the definition) one can be an amateur and still act professional (and vice-versa, of course).

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      jrodman says:

      Oh noes, misreply!

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      Joshua says:

      I honestly prefer a “hey were indie” or hastily written angry twitter post over fluff like “Bioware Pulse”. Who thought of that anyway?

    • Archonsod says:

      “Leaving aside the semantic question of what constitutes an amateur (I’d argue that “forming a company to sell a commercial product” moves you from the category of “amateur” to “professional but not necessarily very good at it” but there’s plenty of space in there for arguments about the definition) one can be an amateur and still act professional (and vice-versa, of course).”

      The question is whether they even want to be professional. If you’re in it to make money then yeah, it pays to act professional. If you’re doing it simply for the love of doing it then you can happily turn around and go “this is how I do it. If you don’t like it, feel free to go elsewhere”. Wonder of owning your own business is you’re not obligated to do anything with it you don’t want to do.

    • ASBO says:

      It’s a bad situation to be sure, but I can’t get behind this. The minute they ask for other people’s money, they cross a line for it to become a business, and with all the responsibility that entails. If they were doing it just for kicks, they should have open-sourced the thing and stored all the code for free on github. How would the atmosphere here be different if Ubisoft was bailing on people’s pre-orders under similar circumstances I wonder.

      I have backups for one-off projects I worked on back in 2004 that will (hopefully) never see the light of day. I have also had my office broken into and all my equipment and working projects stolen, so I know exactly how it feels.

      But yeah, shame on them for not having a reasonable backup strategy in place.

    • Bugg says:

      ASBO, that’s exactly how I feel. It’s bizarre to see so many people defend the idea of taking money from others (no matter how little) without being responsible.

      You don’t even have to be a super security expert to understand that the thing you’re working on should be backed up in at least one additional location. The tone that some internet people took was horrible (but are we at all surprised at that, really?), a robbery is a terrible thing to go through, but holding indie devs to such low standards doesn’t make sense.

      People were every bit as critical (if not more) of Valve when HL2 was stolen, and of Sony when their network was hacked.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Our society is full of people left right and centre taking money and not being responsible. Huge corporations do it all the time, governments even. It’s too widespread and common a problem to get angry at a small developer for. I think some perspective is needed.

      They messed up. It sucked, they could have handled it better sure. But there was no malicious intent. Give them a break!

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      wengart says:

      This style of indie development is a gamble for the consumer and going into it with any other view is naive.

    • Stickman says:

      I feel DrGonzo is on the money here. Yes, there were actions that Indie Stone could have taken to mitigate some of their losses, but there is a hefty dose of bad luck here is well. This sort of thing happens to big name studios as well (HL2 anyone?), and the main difference is PR. With small Indie projects, the developers feel closer to their community, who are simultaneously providing both financial support and testing feedback (and emotional / ego boosting for what has to be a tough gig). Its not surprising that the Indie Stone felt they should inform the stakeholding community immediately. Big name studios (and other industries) would have run damage control immediately, and we would not have heard about the situation for a while, and then only PR soundbytes. Call it unprofessional if you will, but I think Indie Stone’s immediate response was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise corporate industry, and the community’s response just highlights why we very rarely get this level of honesty.

      Unfortuntately, it also highlights the disconnect between how Indie Stone likely viewed their relationship with their community (partners and friends), and how some members of the community viewed that relationship (much more economic).

    • Wulf says:

      You know, I honestly can’t find it in myself to understand why people are angry at Lemmy and Binky.

      This may just be down to me being a bleeding heart, but I don’t value money over insight, and insight is something that I have a hell of a lot of. And putting myself in their shoes… well, what if I were robbed? And I really don’t think a lot of people understand, really understand, just how incredibly fucking devastating being robbed is. Some shit has broken into your house and made off with things you value.

      It’d be easy to be angry, very easy. And the normal human reaction at that point is to either find a way to blow off steam or look for a venting point–and the Internet provided them with a damn good venting point. Because, really, not everyone is able to afford the best in security, so exclaiming “Ha ha, you were robbed!” and pointing at someone that was is cause for an entirely justified punch to the face. It’s human nature. Not all of us control our emotions well.

      (To be honest, the latter part is something that I personally relate to. I mean, I suffer with a functional part of my brain being missing, which can throw me into fits of “sham rage”, and I’m telling you now that that’s not a lot of fun. So I am innately familiar with how it feels to be out of control of your emotions, and wildly out of control, even.)

      So yeah, the Internet decided to mock a bunch of guys whom had just been robbed. We all react to this in different ways, and some of us are able to handle it better than others. You’ll have the really professional sorts who can just turn off their emotions and become basically a PR robot, and then you have those who’ll passionately strike out at whomever is mocking them. Not that the striking out is right, but that it is completely understandable.

      Anger and grief do funny things to you. And really, all the Internet had lost was a small investment, but everyone had to realise that they were investing into a risky endeavour from the start. I realise that with every single Kickstarter project I fund. Every single one of them. So why is it so hard for other people to grasp that investment is always a risk? Here we see the potential pitfalls of investment, this is a thing that happens, this is a thing that has happened, and there’s no use sending a bunch of game developers death threats over spilt milk.

      Really.

      If I was going to demonise anyone here, it’d be those who’ve very venomously attacked Lemmy and Binky, since I can’t wrap my mind around that. See, their loss is so insubstantial that it can’t possibly be making them feel the grief or anger that those at Project Zomboid felt. So what’s their angle? Unless they were genuinely being conned, and the whole Zomboid thing were a massive hoax designed as a mone ygrab, then they have no reason. And even then, you should seek evidence that that’s actually the case.

      So of all the parties in this, I definitely find the Zomboid chaps the most sympathetic. I really do wish them the best, and I hope that this hasn’t killed off their passion for making games. Because this really has been a terrible thing.

  7. enobayram says:

    The Indie Stone has actually been a source of great lessons for everyone. The moral of this story is: Use SVN or if you’re in a bigger team git (with an online repository of course)

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      AndrewC says:

      The valuable lesson for us is that Indie Devs are quite often normal people who are exactly like the rest of us.

    • Unaco says:

      The valuable lesson for us is that Devs are quite often normal people who are exactly like the rest of us.

      Fixed it for you.

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      AndrewC says:

      OFFER ME YOUR PROOF

    • Unaco says:

      NO YOU?

      My point is, that we should probably extend the ‘please, less hostility’ plea to most Devs, Indie or not.

    • enobayram says:

      No doubt about that. My point is that, for instance, I’m a very forgetful person. The fact that I know this, doesn’t change that. But what it changes is that I organize my life around it, and I make sure that I’ll perform the critical tasks even if I don’t remember anything about them. Such as sticking a to-do list right at the center of my computer screen. In addition, there are some things you should just do without questioning, because the numerous benefits of doing them are uncountable. Using a version control system hosted at a reliable web server is one of them.

    • MrMud says:

      Yea, its actually a bit mind boggling how you can manage to not use an off-site SVN repository. There are plenty of situations that could result in losses like this (burglary, fire and so on).

    • max pain says:

      AND commit daily :)
      I write code for a company and besides the svn, I’m the only one with the code, but I usually don’t commit more than once per week. Which would lose me a week of work if my laptop died.

      Making backups and other project logistics are the not-fun part of making games. Lots of devs that start coding a game won’t do full project setup like backups, security, roadmap, because they just want to dive into the fun part. Make another gun, tweak the zombie speed etc.

      When a fun little project becomes interesting to wider audience, and especially when you start taking money for it, you better force yourself to work on project management.

    • olemars says:

      “Use SVN or if you’re in a bigger team git (with an online repository of course)”

      This is technically a religious discussion, but I actually prefer git/mercurial for small teams (or for my own, private little projects) and svn for larger ones. Git repositories with lots of developers give me actual headaches.

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      jrodman says:

      The choice of git or mercurial vs SVN comes down to a wide variety of factors and constraints, but this particular factor (the threat of data loss) strongly supports the choice of git or mercurial OVER svn, because they make it soooo easy to duplicate the entire truth to any number of locations, automatically, as part of normal workflow.

      For example, you could have the entire truth on every developer’s laptop, without having to intentionally make a single backup.

      Then duping it all to github or similar is as easy as pie too.

      SVN is an OK decision for some, but not for this reason. Especially for the smallest teams who don’t even have an IT infrastructure.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Eh, I could just as easily say “git makes it too easy for people to have their own little forks in non-centralised non-backed-up locations, whereas SVN is guaranteed to be complete with one svnadmin dump”. But swings and roundabouts—either completely trump a lack of version control.

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      jrodman says:

      @LionsPhil: sure, but in a company of 4 people that concern is basically irrelevant.

      The point you’re raising is more of a corporate thing where teams can diverge, and keeping a single truth is advantageous. That’s one of the advantages of one-server-only.

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      Gundato says:

      While I agree that git VS svn is largely ideological, I think that this is a particular case that would argue for svn over git (or any other decentralized approach).

      “We had two laptops stolen that contained the only up-to-date versions of the code”
      “We had two laptops stolen that contained the only up-to-date versions of the code because we didn’t bother to push back to the central server”

      With proper training, both are awesome. But when you are dealing with “normal people”, git’s big advantages (ability to do local commits without necessarily worrying about breaking a build) are also huge disadvantages (“Just a few more commits before I push back. Ooh, Darklands…”).

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      jrodman says:

      @Gundato: When you’re a bunch of laptop users, you work locally either way, it’s just DVCS lets you do that sanely. But that isn’t the issue. The issue is that every sync with DVCS is a full backup. Of all the history.

      To make it clearer, if you use SVN with a central server (which you don’t have, because you’re four dudes with laptops), you have one version of the code. Which you could back up.

      If you use DVCS, you have four versions of the code, which is at least 3 backups, and they’re offsite too. Unless the four of you have your laptops in one place and are all robbed at gunpoint. Which could happen. But you’ll probably use github out of convenience anyway, giving you a fifth.

      Again, with SVN (even in the cloud), you would have one single point of failure without additional backup strategies. Which in a group of people without dedicated IT will not be reliably followed. Case in point.

    • jalf says:

      With proper training, both are awesome. But when you are dealing with “normal people”, git’s big advantages (ability to do local commits without necessarily worrying about breaking a build) are also huge disadvantages (“Just a few more commits before I push back. Ooh, Darklands…”).

      No, Git’s advantage is also “I can actually push to a remote repo without bothering anyone”. Or “I can push to 4 different remote repos”.

      With SVN, no one ever *dares* commit because you might break the build, because there’s only one global repo. You commit to that, or you keep everything locally. And you can’t commit to that, until you have something that’s good enough and stable enough for everyone else on the team to use it.
      The main reason I use a DVCS instead of SVN is exactly that I can push to as many repos as I like, remote and local, on my laptop, desktop, web server or anywhere else. In terms of protecting against data loss, that is far superior to SVN.

      Oh, and anyone still using SVN clearly has not tried *using* a DVCS. SVN is an antique relic, and DVCS’es (not just GIT) are better in every way.

      But as said above, *any* version control system is better than what they were (not) doing.

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      Gundato says:

      I didn’t really want to get into an ideological debate (for the record, I like git and greatly prefer it). I am just saying that, like with most ideological debates, nobody really considers the situation at hand.

      The problem was: They didn’t have an (offsite) central repository and got quintuple boned by the theft. Ergo encouraging a distributed approach doesn’t make the most sense. Yes SVN has a single point of failure (although, an offsite backup would probably be backed up by the hosts :p), but better than all your points of failure being in some prick’s backpack.

      If you want to argue “git is great because you can push just about everything, regardless of if it works” then sure. Although, svn with branches will do the same thing (since you would be pushing to a branch in git anyway…).

      On a related note: moddb/Desura could probably actually get a foothold if they used this as an excuse to offer repository hosting of some form. With a good TOS (ie. they don’t own everything you commit to them), this could encourage indie devs to flock to it.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      They didn’t have an (offsite) central repository and got quintuple boned by the theft. Ergo encouraging a distributed approach doesn’t make the most sense.

      But that’s a problem with your workflow/configuration, not your choice of tools. It’s quite easy to push from a DVCS to multiple repositories automatically. I use a commit hook in Mercurial. Like this.

      On a related note: moddb/Desura could probably actually get a foothold if they used this as an excuse to offer repository hosting of some form.

      BitBucket already does free, unlimited, private Mercurial and Git hosting for up to five users. That’s plenty for most small indies.

    • jalf says:

      If you want to argue “git is great because you can push just about everything, regardless of if it works” then sure. Although, svn with branches will do the same thing (since you would be pushing to a branch in git anyway…).

      First, let’s agree that we’re no longer discussing the PZ situation, because as you say, this doesn’t really consider the matters at hand. Now…

      - with Git you don’t have to push to a branch in the same repo. You can push to a different repo. That was my point, and that is why the distributed nature makes very much sense. With SVN, you can only ever have one repo, and if that repo is on a harddrive that dies, you’re SOL. With Git, you can push to a dozen different harddrives on a dozen different physical machines in a dozen different countries, if you like.
      - In theory, using branches in SVN could achieve the same as using branches in Git, but in practice, SVN’s handling of branches is so broken that you’d have to be insane to use it, *especially* on such a fine-grained scale.

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      Gundato says:

      Yes, it is a problem with workflow, no doubt there.

      But, like I said, context. If it were the single server that got stolen, then that would be a damned strong argument for a decentralized approach. But it was multiple machines that were being used for active work, which is actually an argument for a centralized approach.

      Is this an argument AGAINST decentralized? Of course not. With a proper workflow (or just a script) you can combine the best of both worlds. But it definitely isn’t an argument FOR it (unless you combine it with a centralized offsite backup, which is really the argument for a centralized approach). It is just a somber reminder for all of us to actually set up repos offsite. That is kind of what I mean. When people see an opportunity to push their ideological choices, they often ignore the context.

      And there are plenty of free hosting sites. But one of the advantages of Steam is the community (god, I feel dirty just saying that :p). Desura is trying to sell itself as a place for devs (amateur and otherwise) to hang out. So it would be a good way for them to get a foothold. “We’ll host your work AND you can sell it through us! Only need the one account”

    • Wulf says:

      All developers are normal people, but not all developers have access to hard-wired organisational tech nerds in the way that AAA developers do. AAA developers are lucky in this case, since they can leave all the backing up and obsessing over data integrity to someone who’ll never screw it up and never forget, because they thrive on doing this right. I know that people exist because I call a couple of them friends.

      All developers are normal people, but it’s easier to see this with indie developers due to their lack of assets. The average indie developer won’t have access to exactly what I’ve described above, and thus they won’t immediately see the benefits of constant data integrity, or even if they do they’ll forget to do it as regularly as an obsessive tech-nerd would do it. So with an indie developer it’s easy to see failings, because you don’t have someone constantly guarding your arse.

      Again, AAA developers are normal people, but they also have PR robots who ensure that not a single negative word leaves their offices, those PR people will vet everything that’s published by anyone and even have them reword it if necessary if they think it’s too aggressive, and they even look over the scripts spoken by developers in commentaries, so we don’t ever really see developers slip up unless they’re talking ‘off the book.’

      But again, if you look at sites that cover things like that, you’d realise that there are some people that do speak off the book, even in big AAA developers, they go around their PR department and they really sometimes put their foot in their mouth. It happens. But again, the reason we may see the failings of ordinary people with independent developers is because they don’t have access to a PR department, to watch every word they say for them.

      With AAA developers, you have a very organised infrastructure with a number of safety nets in place in regards to every aspect of the business. That’s big business for you. It’s not a bad thing but it is the nature of big business. However, with small businesses or indie developers, you don’t normally have those safety nets in place, and commonly it’s accepted that they’re not there at all. Frankly, I don’t mind.

      Hell, if Binky’s outbursts told me anything (especially the stuff about FPS games), it’s that he really, really cares about his game. One would have to have been blind not to see that. So this is the other side of it. This is why some people think that AAA developers don’t care about their games–because that developer will probably have an overprotective PR department that won’t let them speak passionately, just in case. Just in case they say something offensive, or just in case they make promises on video that they can’t keep.

      I think a good example of an AAA developer that doesn’t seem to have an overprotective PR department is, as I mentioned, ArenaNet. Because they’ve been flippant and even facetious in their passionate support for their own game. And so long as they make the game to back it up, I really don’t care about that, they can talk as big about their game as they like. I actually appreciate seeing that they do actually believe in what they’re doing.

      So not having access to some assets of big business can be beneficial.

      But in this one case, it was detrimental. Not having access to those assets makes it very clear that developers are just normal people, sometimes having access to those assets does a good job of hiding that they’re normal people, and tends to make them look like robots. The Zomboid chaps really do look like passionate people making a thing. Something bad happened to them due to their lack of big business assets, and they were shown to be as normal and human as anyone in their time of turmoil.

      Not going to blame them for that.

    • TLGAthena says:

      “The Zomboid chaps really do look like passionate people making a thing. Something bad happened to them due to their lack of big business assets, and they were shown to be as normal and human as anyone in their time of turmoil.”

      Arg. No. No no no and no.

      Something bad happened to them. No due to. It just did. Bad things happen to companies and individuals all the time. At best all you can do is plan and mitigate the worst scenarios. When you drive a car you might crash, the mitigation is the safety belt. When you develop a business critical application, you may experience fire, theft, burglary, or even something much more simple like the Bastard Operator from Hell throwing a nail in the three phase because the MD refused his pay raise (this happens more often than you’d think). The mitigation is to back stuff up.

      That something bad happened to them sucks, and they don’t deserve to be thrown bile at, especially not the jackasses who flooded their mail. To those people – shame on you.

      But. That they did not take simple steps to mitigate the possibility of the aforementioned bad thing is negligence. Nothing more. Nothing less. To Project Zomboid – shame on you too.

      Now can we all get along and to all developers great and small…

      BACK UP YOUR DATA!

      And that is all. :D

    • jalf says:

      but not all developers have access to hard-wired organisational tech nerds in the way that AAA developers do

      They don’t need to.

      The entire point, the reason why we (developers) are so upset/fascinated/surprised/whatever by this is that *it does not require any resources whatsoever. It does not require high-level tech knowledge.

      The people who claim that it is unreasonable to expect small poor indies to keep their source code safe can be split into two groups:

      - non-developers who don’t *know* how easy/hard it is to do so, and
      - developers who are as clueless as the PZ guys apparently were.

      I have no clue which group you belong in, but I sincerely hope it’s the first. Because the second group *should not exist*. Seriously, it is programming 101. It is fundamental. It is like a chef knowing that “washing your hands from time to time is probably a good idea”. It’s like a bungee jumper knowing that “I should probably tell these nice guys fitting me out how much I weigh”. It’s like an astronaut on the ISS knowing that “as much as I miss my girlfriend, I probably shouldn’t start hammering nails into the walls here so I can hang up a picture of her.”

      It… is… fundamental.
      And it costs you nothing, not even time. It speeds you up, if anything.

      I know there are more developers out there than the PZ guys who do not know this, and it scares the hell out of me.

      So please, don’t try to justify their sloppyness by saying “they don’t have the resources that AAA developers do”, because at best, it’s a harmless self-deception, and at worst, you’re propagating the myth/lie/ignorance that “you need lots of resources to use basic source control for your code”.

      As far as large-scale systematic backup goes, you’re right. That gets complex fast, and it’s unlikely to work reliably unless you throw some serious manpower and resources at it.

      But PZ didn’t need large-scale systematic backup to avoid this particular disaster. They just needed to not be stupid.

      Something bad happened to them due to their lack of big business assets

      No… Please, don’t say that because it is untrue, and it might give other developers the wrong idea, leading to more incidents like this.
      Something bad happened to them due to sheer bad luck. The burglary was nothing more or less than bad luck.
      But the other part of it is that they failed to mitigate the impact of this bad thing, not because of a lack of big business assets, but because of stupidity, ignorance, sloppyness, carelessness, irresponsibility, whatever you want to call it. There is no excuse for it, and pretending otherwise might make the PZ guys feel better, but it’s harmful to the indie scene as a whole, because all those up-and-coming indie devs who haven’t yet started their own company, and who don’t yet know how to handle their code might read it, and get the wrong idea.

      Ok? All the other stuff about how their outbursts prove that they’re human and all that, fine, no problem with that.

      But don’t say that this happened because they’re indie, because they lack resources.

      Thank you.

      From a software developer, an would-be indie developer and someone who doesn’t want to see this incident repeated.

    • TLGAthena says:

      “As far as large-scale systematic backup goes, you’re right. That gets complex fast, and it’s unlikely to work reliably unless you throw some serious manpower and resources at it.”

      That’s debatable depending on what we’re discussing.

      A software backup that dumps the contents of a small network to a tape drive overnight run twice a week, with someone checking the results each morning? Requires 30 mins a week in sum, a logbook, a tape drive, and some software licenses. This system works right up to a 100 man network pretty reliably as long as you’re not saying “BACK. UP. EVERYTHING.”

      A DVD burner and a mate who has a spare cupboard at his flat? £25 plus beer money to make the friend feel appreciated, perhaps a free copy of the game and other sweeteners if required.

      Bear in mind back up solutions are as malleable as the companies you fit them to. Big hefty disaster contingency systems and cold-site-recovery is strictly the domain of big huge AAA business, a DVD burner and someone who isn’t a total clown with a bit of spare room at their place isn’t.

      Even as mentioned – SVN and git constitute a form of backup in the event of a real emergency provided they’re off-site. Not on the same level as an actual backup system, but at least it’s SOMETHING.

  8. quadnad says:

    Definitely a sad story…I would suggest to the devs to install something like Crashplan for automatic offsite (and onsite) backups. It’s cheap too. Not necessarily very helpful now, but it would be good to have in future.

    • codename_bloodfist says:

      It’s not just the lack of a reliable backup utility. There are safeguards missing on every level. No continuous offsite backup, the only two copies being kept in the same building, no tracking software on either machine and so forth. Fact is, this is a royal mess up and there’s no talking your way out of it, indie or not.

      However, as Confucius said: “If I’m screwing up at 0/10 in League of Legends, don’t tell me that I’m a noob; I feel bad as it is already.” Let’s just hope that we can all learn something from this mistake.

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      RaveTurned says:

      This.

    • jalf says:

      However, as Confucius said: “If I’m screwing up at 0/10 in League of Legends, don’t tell me that I’m a noob; I feel bad as it is already.” Let’s just hope that we can all learn something from this mistake.

      Well, depends on what your intention is. Or what the IndieStone guys need most. A pat on the back, or information on what they could and should do to avoid such screwups in the future?

      The thing is, a programmer who doesn’t use version control is flat out ignorant(*). Ignorance does not go away by being patted on the back and told “it’s gonna be ok” when you lose your code.

      it goes away by being told you “here is what you should do instead”.

      Or to stick within your own analogy, if you’re losing badly in league of legends then no, simply being called “noob” is unlikely to help. But being told *why* you lost, and how to improve your game, that is far more helpful than all the sympathy in the world.
      Being told “don’t worry, you were just unlucky” might make you feel better, but it won’t help you win your next game.

      * for the non-programmers in the audience, imagine a chef who doesn’t know about washing your hands. Source control is *that* fundamental for a programmer.

      Now, using that analogy, what would you feel about the guy who just opened a restaurant, following his dreams, learning as he go, and who then, because he doesn’t have the most basic knowledge of hygiene, gives a few of his customers food poisoning? He’ll probably have to pay the hospital bill, and he’ll likely be forced to close his restaurant. Would you say that’s unfair, that he was only following his dreams, that he was “indie”? Or would you say that it sucks for him, but you expected more from someone trying to run a restaurant?

  9. formivore says:

    People should understand that sometimes even if what they are saying is 100% correct and inarguable, the social impact of what they are saying is just going to be kicking someone when they are down. That’s a good time to evaluate whether you really need to say anything at all.

    • Hikkikomori says:

      Hear, hear.

    • Alec Meer says:

      I am strongly tempted to delete every comment expect this and lock the thread.

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      bear912 says:

      Please.

    • Iain_1986 says:

      Where as I agree the hate is just uncalled for and potentially quite dangerous to the moral for the team…I’m not too sure censoring the comments to hide what we don’t agree with would go down too well.

      If that was seriously an option…I’d go with hid and delete all comments…

    • Dominic White says:

      Exactly – they’ve said from the very start that they should have kept more regular off-site backups, but they didn’t, and that was entirely their mistake. The fact that huge numbers of seemingly sociopathic tossers are lining up to get a quick kick in despite all this is slightly horrifying.

      I’ve gotten some angry words thrown at me for having the nerve to suggest that people lay off and give them a chance to recover, especially the lead programmer who just had almost everything of value in his home stolen, along with his work for the past couple of months.

      And the old ‘Just ignore them and they’ll go away’ thing? It doesn’t work.

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      c-Row says:

      @Iain_1986

      This comment thread already had some entries deleted, you know…

    • Sleepymatt says:

      I’m actually quite despondent that RPS feels that the discussion on this subject was out of order. As far as I’m aware nobody here was being unpleasant or abusive, nor is this site a ‘direct-line’ to the devs such as sending things to their private email or Twitter. Every person like myself that expressed incredulity at the devs lack of foresight also expressed sympathy to the devs at being victims of a break-in, we are not monsters or arseholes you know. I personally feel that discussing this kind of issue in a rational and polite manner is *absolutely* what sites like RPS should be doing. If all it does is help one other indie dev or even just a private individual avoid this scenario then it has achieved something.

      I’m well aware this is RPS’s site and what is allowable on here is their call, but I flat out do not appreciate being castigated for participating in a well behaved debate. As Alec himself says further down the thread, there is a massive difference between abusing the devs and criticism, and yet he is happy to lump the really abusive wankers in with myself and others that have been sympathetically critical. If others find debating such an issue on a gaming news site to be outwith the remit of that site, then I think it is a great shame. I too hope that Indie Stone come through this ok in the end, that the guys can recover from the shock and scare a burglary leaves behind, and I am not bothered by a ‘delay’ to an undated release, nor do I regret giving them my money. My five pounds to me is more a donation for something I think is a worthy cause, than an ‘investment’, and even if I never play the full game I will feel happy I donated. However I think to pretend nobody messed up is something that you would do for a child, not for adults or businesses.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Where in buggery’s name do we say discussion is out of order or that nobody messed up? I say people being arseholes is out of order. (The worst comments got deleted, so what you’ve seen is the de-arseholed version, which might explain your confusion).

    • Sleepymatt says:

      “Most players were supportive *** or silent *** which is what really matters, but clearly even a little poison was the last thing the devs needed in their fresh wound. A little of this knee-jerk,*** know-it-all vigilantism *** even found its way into our comments threads, for which I am thoroughly ashamed and worried”

      This phrase. A tad too emotive, and not exactly differentiating the haters from the debaters. Meanwhile, congratulations on coining my favourite new word.. “de-arseholed” is exactly what the situation requires!! Thank you for clearing that up Alec, I was seriously concerned I was no longer welcome here. Perhaps a wee edit would help as others below are sharing my concerns. Cheers!

    • sagamov says:

      Some one can argue that the comment “if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything, you don’t want to hurt the feelings of the developers right?” is somehow in contrast with a open discussion

    • Alec Meer says:

      If your idea of open discussion is the right to be openly unpleasant to people, then no, we don’t offer that here.

    • LionsPhil says:

      You do seem, unintended as it may be, to be giving somewhat of an impression that anything but “what a shame” or silence is “being openly unpleasant to people”. If only because if you delete the worst comments and complain about the worst comments, people will see the worst that still exist as those you are complaining about.

      Also, you know, “I am strongly tempted to delete every comment expect this [comment which says 'sympathise or say nothing'] and lock the thread”.

    • Burky says:

      look it’s nice to let the poor developers know that the RPS Community is behind them

      except those that are not

      who are these people

      they do not exist

      there is only our perfect society

    • BobsLawnService says:

      I have no problem with Alec removing truly poisonous posts but I’ve been highly critical of their unprofessionalism and I haven’t been censored so it’s not a case of all dissenting voices being obliterated. I like to think that it is because my criticisms have merit and are expressed in a reasonable manner.

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      Wisq says:

      I think there’s value in the “here’s what people should be doing to avoid this” sorts of posts, because they can potentially serve as a roadmap for Indie Stone (if they’re eventually looking for advice going forward) and/or as a suggested path for other indie developers who want to avoid ending up in the same situation.

      Conversely, there’s little value in “here’s what they should have done”, and zero value in “god you guys are morons for not having 20-20 foresight”. So enough with that already.

      In general, crises like this are a very hard lesson for the victims, but also a huge warning for everyone else. We should certainly all offer our condolences to Indie Stone. But to leave it at that, and not analyse what went wrong and how (best!) to prevent it in the future — while staying firmly in the hypothetical realm, to avoid being offensive — is ultimately doing everyone a disservice.

  10. KikiJiki says:

    Hadn’t heard about this until this article. It’s very sad, but it does make me wonder, as a software developer, just what provision they had for say, both those laptops dying together or another similar incident.

    Cloud based source control via something like GitHub or, taking it to a lower level (since GitHub is paid for commercial iirc) simple cloud based storage is quick and cheap/free to set up.

    Frankly as someone who’s been reading about this game but hasn’t put money down yet, all the troubles they’ve suffered are unfortunate and as I said sad, but I don’t think it’s fair to have a go at people for pointing out the obvious awful business practice here that compounded the issue. I don’t think The Indie Stone deserve a free pass just for being a small business either – this is basic software development 101.

    Here’s to hoping they get back on track and put their house in order before development resumes in earnest.

    • soldant says:

      My thoughts exactly. I have sympathy for them for getting robbed but I’m totally calling them out on having no suitable backup system in place, which is entirely unacceptable particularly if you’re trying to run a business (and an indie game dev is still ultimately a business, they’re selling a product). I still think that Lemmy’s Twitter reactions were unprofessional and shouldn’t have ever been posted, but that’s another issue. Still, because I refuse to offer sympathy for their failure to create a proper backup system, I’m labelled a hateful, venom-spitting ragemonster. Which I think is pretty unfair. I can be sympathetic over their robbery-misfortune, but I can still remain unsympathetic over having no proper backup system.

      • Fox89 says:

        There’s a difference between not being sympathetic for their negligence, and being a dick. This article is having a go at the latter: the people who would personally attack the developers in a hateful manner. The moral of the story is: criticism is fine. Being a heartless git isn’t.

      • Wulf says:

        I can’t. I can’t remain unsympathetic, that is.

        If I buy something from a local store, and they get robbed due to security that they couldn’t afford or didn’t have the resources/understanding to put in place, I’d be willing to give them all the time they needed to give my money back. Because I’m a fool, yes, but I also understand that these things happen.

        The Zomboid guys aren’t a big business, and they could even mostly be more artists than coders. Two of my most beloved big developers are made up more of artists than coders (you can all guess whom those two are, you really can). And without a business infrastructure in place, they might not have had access to the sort of tech nerd that could have helped them set that up. I’ve mentioned it elsewhere but I think it bears mentioning again.

        It’s easy to say when a big business dropped the ball, because then the guy that they hired to ensure data integrity wasn’t doing his job, but when you have a small or independent business, they may not have access to those assets. You may call it incompetence, yes, but if they’re new and they’re just trying to get their feet, then they may not fully understand all the intricacies of the sort of infrastructure they’re trying to create.

        In hindsight, yeah, sure, it would be worth saying that they should’ve gotten someone to help them, someone whom is the sort of obsessive tech nerd that could have set them up with RAID drives, local backups, and off-site backups, with all of this running like clockwork. But that’s in hindsight.

        I don’t know, again, I can’t find it in myself to blame them for that.

        They weren’t expecting to be robbed, so not being obsessive tech nerds they probably figured that whatever systems they were using for backing up locally were probably adequate. They likely thought that they had all their bases covered. It’s easy to point at someone and say that it was incompetence, but you’re speaking from a field of expertise.

        It’s like pointing at an artist and saying that he shouldn’t have had his house robbed and his paintings taken when he’s just an artist and not an expert in security, but you are (an expert in security, that is). It’s like saying that he was negligent with his paintings for not having such and such a security system in place, managed in such and such a way. I mean, it is like that.

        It’s easy to say these things if you or I understand them, and we do, but does everyone? Do our RPS writers use git, do they even have the first clue as to how to use the commandline version of SVN? I’m guessing not, and that’s completely normal if you aren’t a tech nerd or directly acquainted with one. It’s just so much easier to call incompetence when it’s your field of interest.

        I’m not sure if you’ll see what I’m getting at here, but I’m saying that I still sympathise with them more than you apparently do, and you may now realise why that is.

  11. sneetch says:

    I’m very sorry to hear about their woes, yeah they should have done better, and yeah it’s easy to do better and so on but on a fundamental human level I have nothing but sympathy for them.

    This has just reminded to that I still needed to pre-order the game, paypal prevented me doing it twice before, once when they locked Indie Stone’s account and once when they locked my non-business account as part of their, apparently random and automated, shits-and-giggles account lockout program.

  12. MadTinkerer says:

    Considering the nature of the game, I’d look at a setback like this in this sort of way:

    “AAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUGGGGGHHHH!!!!”

    And then when the anguish was over, I’d be more like:

    “Well, okay. God or Fate or whatever has declared that build of the game was Not Meant To Be. Perhaps we’d be better off trying something slightly different? Yeah, this gives me some ideas…”

    Recently I’ve been playing Survival Skyblock Hardcore in Minecraft. I’ve died about twenty times, each time being forced to start over from scratch. My current world is FAR better than the one I would have had if I hadn’t slipped off the side and plunged into the void over a dozen times. Even stuff like how to arrange the tree farm and wheat farms in relation to my mansion-in-progress has vastly improved and the whole thing is starting to feel more like a country estate carved out of rock instead of a tiny little functional-but-ugly-hovel.

    Plus I’ve been through some tough shit in real life not that long ago. Sometimes it takes a while to get over it, but I’ve found that eventually each setback usually proves beneficial in the long run.

    So good luck with that, guys. Hope your major setbacks are over now and development is smooth from here on.

  13. Premium User Badge

    TheApologist says:

    I bought and played and loved this game, and I was gutted for them when I heard this happened.

    I really hope they find it within themselves to carry on.

  14. Premium User Badge

    kregg says:

    I would say something, but the same burgular came into my mouth and stole the words right out of my mouth. :(

    • Kazz says:

      @ Kregg (damn reply!)

      “but the same burgular came into my mouth”

      I’m 29 and giggled a bit… :(

      Anyhoo, back on topic for a while.

      I know it’s not what they’re asking for right now and won’t have much of an impact on their current situation, but I’m going to preorder my copy now, that public tech demo they released a while back was bloody great. I’m looking forward to this even more now.

      • Premium User Badge

        kregg says:

        @Kazz So that was what the salty taste was. I thought it was just my own tears.

    • pipman3000 says:

      @kreigg

      oomg wtf you unprofessional hack what is wrong with you give me my money back RIGHT NOW I’M NEVER BUYING WORDS ROM YOU AGAIN

  15. Premium User Badge

    felisc says:

    I’m glad to know you feel that way, rps (you know, the civilised grown up way)

  16. Jorum says:

    Considering it costs $5 to preorder the sense of entitlement some people seem to have is bemusing.

    Surely the whole point of the very advanced indie “pre-order” is you should see it (and understand it) as donating money to a project you like look of with only loose parameters as to what will happen next.

    Mojang had exactly same issues of course. People who thought paying $10 elevated them to non-exec directors.

    • MrMud says:

      Does it matter how much they payed?
      If you purchase something you are still entitled to it.

      Now they seem to be set on continuing development so its less of an issue, but if they didnt and their ineptitude had meant that those people who preordered didnt get what they payed for, that would be a big problem.

    • Walsh says:

      You are entitled to something at some point. If they said the current release is now 1.0, you’d be pissed but there’s not much you can do about it.

    • HeavyStorm says:

      My two cents is that those self supporting projects should state very clearly that you can donate five bucks and as a result of your good will they will give you a free copy of the software when it’s done.

      Which is very different from a pre-order. When you pre-order something, you expect it to be eventually released. In fact, if I preorder a product on Amazon, I’d want my money back on the event the producers cancel or go bankrupt during development.

      So, and I guess this is the point of most people posting, they might be professionals (this is their profession, after all), but they’re being very amateur. And this is not flaming, I’m not expecting them to read it here nor is my purpose to point a finger at then or anything. I’m just discussing the matter with my fellows here at castle shotgun.

    • Archonsod says:

      “My two cents is that those self supporting projects should state very clearly that you can donate five bucks and as a result of your good will they will give you a free copy of the software when it’s done.”

      By the same token, those who buy into such projects should understand very clearly that there’s every chance the game will not develop the way they want it to.

      In fact, one could say that the application of a little common sense, i.e. asking yourself if the game is worth the asking price *at the time you hand over the money*, would result in a lot less of this sort of thing.

    • Consumatopia says:

      In fact, one could say that the application of a little common sense, i.e. asking yourself if the game is worth the asking price *at the time you hand over the money*, would result in a lot less of this sort of thing.

      Wasn’t Project Zomboid taking money even before they had anything to offer for download at all?

      You may not like it, but “this sort of thing” is completely legitimate. They may only be contractually obligated to give you the game as it is, but that isn’t how they enticed people to pay money.

      As I said elsewhere, the problem with this business model is that it’s in a weird subjective haze of donation, investment, pre-order, and as-is-purchase. If you only expected them to fulfill their minimum legal obligations, then no person with any common sense would have given them any money in the early days.

  17. Alexander Norris says:

    They’ve confirmed that there were no customer details on those laptops in the post Will Porter did.

  18. Jams O'Donnell says:

    My reaction to this, which is the only proper response from anyone who’s been interested in the game and not yet stumped up the five measly pounds they’re asking for it, was to buy it.

    • gulag says:

      Did exactly the same thing last night. When you see a man down, you can aim a kick or lend a hand.

    • sneetch says:

      Well put, gulag.

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      SCC says:

      I’ve just done exactly that too. If a couple of measly dollars helps them get back on their feet and back to making PZ then I’m quite happy to put hand in pocket and shell out a few dinars…

    • pipman3000 says:

      How about you mail them a flash drive instead?

    • kanzy says:

      Exactly. Hope our preorders/donations (or whatever it’s called) can help them get the project up and developing soon.

    • Premium User Badge

      PoulWrist says:

      I bought a second copy after hearing this.

    • Pardoz says:

      My reaction to this, which is the only proper response from anyone who has no interest in the game whatsoever but has been reminded by this fiasco that sometimes Unexpected Bad Shit Happens And Things Get Fucked Up, was to fire off a donation to MSF.

  19. Jockie says:

    This story is just depressing in so many ways. The theft, the lack of back-ups, loss of hard work and the horrendous reaction of entitled internet wankers. Hope the Indie Stone come back stronger for it and I hope that Lemmy realises not all of us are bile-spewing twats.

  20. Octaeder says:

    That screenshot caption: with their luck throughout this project, I wouldn’t even joke about it.

  21. Unaco says:

    Where do I mention tolerance? I don’t. I call for less hostility… less anger, less insults, less trolling and flaming.

    Calling them ‘silly billies’ and maybe throwing up a link to a simple off-site backup solution, or cheap external hard-drive that looks like something else (so it won’t be stolen) I’m cool with. Taking the piss a little… they f*cked up, not monumentally, not catastrophically (we hope), but quite spectacularly and in a ‘duh!’ sort of way.

    Calling them **** *** ***** ******** ****, who have done something akin to **** ****** the ***** from my own mother, proclaiming that they are scammers and criminals and bounders and rogues, I don’t think is cool.

  22. realmenhuntinpacks says:

    I love PZ, and the Indiestone seem like a really lovely, cottage industry-type developer. The warmth and openness they displayed was what really grabbed me and made the game that bit more special – unfortunately a warmth and openness repaid in bile and ridiculously entitled demands for progress. I don’t go on the forums anymore as they have descended (for a small part – although a significant, highly visible part) into a very nasty place. Sexism is rife amongst the community (I have no idea why it’s so prevalent in that particular group… odd) and has resulted in their female art dev taking some really obnoxious shit, This burglary is a massive kick in the teeth and it’s awful that people can be so callous but I would expect nothing less of the PZ crowd. Weirdly, they’re horrible. Bit of a one-dimensional post I’m aware, but they really press my cider, y’know?

  23. MartinNr5 says:

    I’m very much hoping that RPS stays classy but I’ve seen the exact same problems show up at Eurogamer (I was more or less on board as a reader from the very start).

    Nowaydays the comments over att EG are just as bad as at Ars and Slashdot – to use two examples. Large and thriving sites that expand their audience are bound to catch a couple of monkfishes in their nets.

    I don’t have a turn key solution for this problem though. I guess most important is that those of us that come here as much for the comments as for the posts stay as classy as possible.

    As for The Indie Stone; as a small developer I of course feel for these guys but I have no further comment on the matter as I haven’t read any more than what’s in this article.

    • Premium User Badge

      TheApologist says:

      I agree with this – censorship is welcome. The kind of inhumanity very often seen on the internet has real costs – human costs this example highlights very well. In the absence of the kinds of social prohibitions that occur in not anonymous, face-to-face interaction, responsible censorship of comments is a useful measure that actually serves to protect discussion and debate.

      RPS is about the only games site that seems to recognise that.

  24. Flukie says:

    Of course its sad to lose progress on something like this however, even for simple small video projects I do backups.

    I even say myself that I think backing up things is stupid unless its important but I mean if your working on something like a game then at least think about getting a SVN going or something… The hard drives could have failed, an electrical storm (lol) but still.

    To go forward and then slag everyone off whos mocking you for not taking basic precautionary measures isn’t really good practice. The first response is always a sad one but when people realise you’ve done something stupid your gonna get mocked. Take responsibility and suck it up and move on, its the professional thing to do and saying things like “Back to business software development” really doesn’t help boost confidence in anyone whos looking forward to this game.

    • Alec Meer says:

      There’s an enormously important distinction between offering advice and constructive criticism, and offering mockery and insults. And I fear for the friends and relations of those people who can’t see it.

    • aerozol says:

      He has taken responsibility, and moved on. In a good way, which is to put himself and his emotional well-being first, and take a break from a job he doesn’t get a pay-check to do, and isn’t enjoyable.

    • Lipwig says:

      the idea that the dev’s families are reading the comments on an obscure computer gaming blog to gain some sense of solace or w/e is rather egotistical, no ???

    • jalf says:

      He has taken responsibility, and moved on. In a good way, which is to put himself and his emotional well-being first, and take a break from a job he doesn’t get a pay-check to do, and isn’t enjoyable.

      Ok, I haven’t really followed the development of the game, but where do the preorder money go, if the developers involved do not get paid?

  25. TLGAthena says:

    I’ll re-iterate and expand on something I said in the other thread :

    Being burgled, nobody deserves that, and anyone who has insinuated that these devs are scamming their userbase should be shot, then boiled in acid, then shot again. Nobody is going to dispute that they deserve our sympathy for that kind of thing happening to them.

    However, this is where my sympathy falters, their entire backup system of their current, active code consisted mainly of two laptops in the same physical location. That’s not a backup, that’s a mirror, a local mirror at that, and as a result if this -was- a project backed by an angel investor or worse, a dragon, it would be the point that said investor would go “Right, I’m not letting you manage this anymore, you do the work, I’ll handle the running.” This isn’t a hobby project, this is food on their tables, and when you’re talking that kind of severity, you do not play fast and loose with your backup options, if you can’t say truthfully to yourself you did everything you reasonably could, then you’ve nobody but yourself to blame.

    If a backup policy fails, and it’s from an act of god. You’re SOL. That happens. It’s rare, but it does. At which point you’ve done everything -reasonable- in your power and frankly Jesus just doesn’t want you to complete your project/game/program at this moment in time. Jesus is wise and thus must have a plan as to why this happens. That occurred -once- during my career, and the exact sequence of events was so ridiculous that in the end all management could do was laugh, throw their arms in the air, and headbutt the wall. In that order. Nobody is going to scream bloody murder if you took decent precautions and things THEN went to pot despite best efforts.

    If you lose data -without- having a proper policy in place (and a second laptop in the same flat with a mirror of the code on does not count), then as tragic as what might have befallen you and your project, you’re still an idiot. The closest metaphor is to drive a car without a seatbelt, if you get sideswiped by a garbage truck you’re not going to live either way, but you can avoid a lot of potential injury/fatality scenarios by simple expedient of putting your safety belt on. In any company larger than a bedroom gig, I can assure you, no backup policy (or one that even a PHB would look at oddly) would result in the IT department being raked over the coals, and the people responsible being *fired*. No discussions, no warnings, no second chances. It’s called gross negligence.

    In this case – the backup policy is the safety belt. Use it. If you get hit by the garbage truck at least you DID the right things to increase your odds of survival, then it’s down to Buddy Jesus to decide if you get the thumbs up or not.

    Like I said, I fully sympathise with the guys, being burgled is teh suck, and nobody deserves the kind of crap they got from THE INTERNET. I will however rightfully and truthfully call them muppets for not wearing the metaphorical safety belt.

    • realmenhuntinpacks says:

      You’re probably right, But what does it matter when some people are having a truly awful time, and the maximum investment any individual is ‘losing’ is about five quid? There’s no slick answer that can absolve you of the fact that you’re being, to put it bluntly, an arse. You don’t get your game on time, these folk may have had their nascent independence ruined, and as a many-burgled dude I know how horrible it feels.
      (Not you, btw, I mean the figurative ‘you’. No ill will intended comrade)

    • iucounu says:

      Good analogy. If you drive without a seatbelt and end up in hospital as a result, it’s not remotely helpful to have people lining up at your bedside to tell you what you ought to have done; those people would be dicks. The lesson is learned at about the time you’ve gone through the windscreen.

    • Lipwig says:

      Exactly. As soon as they started taking money they had an obligation to their customers to at least follow standard backup procedures. Even hobbyists recognise the importance of having at least two backups, preferably one as digital. It costs $10 a month to have a high limit drop box account and a few minutes to set it up for an immediate streaming backup. If you have that and a physical backup at a separate location, that’s it, you’re to the standard of the entire IT programming industry.

      They took money, they were a business and they have a legal obligation to provide the product to their customers. Basic professionalism would mean having extensive backups to cover all eventualliaties. They’re not hobbyists, being blase about potential data loss when it’s just your stuff is, um, fine.

      Vitriol is undeserved, but pointing out that they’ve been seriously unprofessional and far below the standard of the industry they work in is important. If they don’t do refunds I hope they get sued, that would be justice.

    • MrMud says:

      @iucounu
      That analogy is only true if they had not been taking pre-orders. Then they would only hurt themselves. But now they are taking pre-orders so its more akin to driving your neighbours children to school and not having them wear seatbelts (not that im comparing 5$ to the life of your neighbours child). And in that case I think standing around the hospital bed saying you are a moron is the least you could expect.

      Heartfelt sympathies for the burglary but as with the OP thats where all the sympathies end.

    • iucounu says:

      @MrMud

      As I think you half-realised there, the life of your child =/= five dollars for an extremely speculative punt on a game that didn’t exist yet coded by four guys in their bedrooms. To be a more apt comparison, then, maybe you gave them a fiver to pick up a Big Mac and fries, which were irretrievably mangled in the crash, and then you show up complaining about it.

    • mike2R says:

      It wasn’t good enough. QED.

      But most of my customers are small scale creative types – not software developers, but comparably at risk from data loss – and I have to say that this is nothing unusual. There are a huge number of people who, while they may have some kind of on-site backup (and Apple’s Time Machine can be thanked for a lot of even that small mercy), stand to lose a considerable amount of their professional output if they suffer a fire or burglary.

      Off-site backups should be standard practice, of course, and the point should be made. But there are (or should be) a hell of a lot of people out there saying “there but for the grace of god go I”.

    • MrMud says:

      @iucounu

      You want to put a seatbelt on the fries?
      The car analogy only goes so far.

      The important part here is that they took money. Not alot of money from each person but that doesnt really matter. As soon as you start taking money you need to act responsibly and they didnt.

    • Red_Avatar says:

      I must say I agree with the OP. Yes, being nasty to them isn’t right, but damn, they did make a monumentally stupid mistake and I DO think people deserve to discuss it. What some don’t understand, and maybe that includes RPS, is that people WANT to discuss such things, and THANK-FUCKING-GOD THEY DO! Because it’s a lesson for everyone that back-ups are a MUST for any project that costs money. Hopefully others will now consider how to keep a backup so despite all the negativity towards those who point this out, at least you can say that it serves to further hammer in the fact that it was a god damn stupid thing for them to have done. Painful? Yes it is. But all good lessons are. And, again, it serves to warn others of how to avoid making such a dumb mistake.

      I work in a small company with 30 employees. Before I worked there, there was not a single back-up ever made. Their idea of security was running a RAID on SCSI drives. Oh sure, if one fails, no problem. But what about fire? Lightning? The PSU blowing up and taking half the hard drives with them? A virus? etc. etc. They now use a LaCIE 2TB external NAT – one is at work, another is at home with the manager. Every evening, he takes out the two mirrored drives, and takes them home. There, he inserts it into his own NAT where it duplicates the info. On top of that, every night, vital information gets copied across to other servers meaning that every item is saved on two extra servers just in case. Then, the data that changes hourly gets backed up once again every half hour. Worst case scenario, we lose a day’s work. Realistically, we’ll lose maybe a quarter of an hour.

      Having said all this, it sucks to be them. Nothing worse than making a mistake you knew you were making but “taking the risk” because that’s what they did. They took a gamble and lost. Their response is not very professional from what I’ve heard, but on a human level, I guess it’s understandable. Maybe part of it is anger at their own mistakes (and a big one at that).

    • mike2R says:

      While the criticism is valid, it sounds more like something you should say to someone who is in a position where something like this could happen to them.

      Don’t really see the point in saying it to someone to whom it just has. I’m sure they already know.

    • LionsPhil says:

      +1 to Mr TLGAthena once again. (And to Consumatopia below.)

    • Consumatopia says:

      Here’s an analogy that matches the scale: Someone starts an “Indie Bank” and allows customers to deposit 5 pounds each. Thousands do so, but the manager has been lax about taking that money to the vault, so a good portion of it is just under a mattress in the manager’s apartment. Then that apartment is robbed. The manager suffers more than anyone else, of course–the maximum deposit was 5 pounds. But it damages the bank’s credibility, if not the whole concept of an “Indie Bank” (e.g. crowdsourcing).

    • Consumatopia says:

      While the criticism is valid, it sounds more like something you should say to someone who is in a position where something like this could happen to them.

      Don’t really see the point in saying it to someone to whom it just has. I’m sure they already know.

      One key thing to keep in mind, something that I think a lot of people in this thread don’t get, is that comments here may be ABOUT Project Zomboid, but they aren’t written TO Project Zomboid. If TLGAthena emailed that comment to the developers personally, that would be a really dickish thing to do. But as a comment among third parties discussing the situation (including perhaps people in a position to learn from other’s mistakes), I don’t see anything wrong with its tone.

    • TLGAthena says:

      I might be a grumpy old sod at times, but I try to err on the side of not-dickish as much as I can. The developers behind Project Zomboid will have learned now the hard way that their code must be respected in the same way one considers their offspring to be the most important thing they’ve ever created. My post explains my feelings as an outsiders view, and as a stark warning to anyone else considering development in this manner.

      Now a question of my own :

      Does anyone think the PZ people would have got anywhere near the kind of vitriol or criticism, deserved, undeserved or otherwise, if they had properly offsited and kept up to date their dev code, and the message instead was :

      “We’ve been burgled, we’ve lost laptops but the code is safe, presuming Dropbox/Cloud Storage/Our offsite server space hasn’t blown up/been stolen by goats/eaten by zombies.”

      In truth I think people then would have focussed on the burglary part, which rightly deserves our sympathy, rather than the “You muppets” element of not adhering to some kind of sane backup policy. Even IF said cloud backup had folded, the PZ people would have been in a position to say in public:

      “Despite our best efforts, and failsafes FOR the failsafes, we’ve somehow ended up with our primary, secondary and offsite backups being shot to hell, all for reasons we can’t control. We’re sorry, we really are, bear with us whilst we unscrew this mess.”

      I’d be willing to put some money on that probably resulting in a lot more support all around, and likely even some offers of assistance. Contrary to popular belief, not all humans are arseholes, and if things have genuinely conspired to screw someone over, you’d be amazed at how willing people might be to help. That said. People won’t help if they don’t feel sympathy, and PZ’s entire handling hasn’t been conducive to it.

    • Archonsod says:

      “As soon as they started taking money they had an obligation to their customers to at least follow standard backup procedures. ”

      Work out which option you need then go for the one that’s twice as cheap, more prone to failure and easy to farm out to phone monkeys elsewhere?

      To be honest, I think I prefer their existing backup system.

  26. Mattressi says:

    From what I can tell, they actually had offsite backups (an important point, I think, that most seem to skip over while chastising Indie Stone) – but, like many humans, they worked themselves too hard and made the mistake of not backing it up after every change. I say “many” because there are some people who don’t seem to work themselves hard with anything but whinging at devs who broke a promise that they never made – those people are obviously perfect beings. I don’t know how many times I’ve been overworked (or in charge of too many things – these guys are their own PR, security, coding, design, art, etc teams; that’s a lot to take on) to the point that I’ve forgotten to do the simplest of things. I’ve locked myself out of my house and car numerous times – not because I was in a rush, but because my mind was on so many other things. Luckily my neighbours aren’t a bunch of wankers and let me use their phone (yes…my phone was locked in to…) rather than laughing at me and saying how unbelievably beneath them I was.

    It’s just a shame that the biggest mistake they made was mentioning it to the world. If they’d kept quiet and just got on with getting back to where they were at, people might complain a little about too much time being between releases, but that’s it. There’s something wrong with the world when the worst mistake someone can make is being open and honest.

    • TLGAthena says:

      I heard that, but it sounds like most of the offsite backup was their live version at the time of writing. If they utterly neglected to update SVN or github or whatever, they’re still in the same boat. When the code you write is what puts toast and beans on your plate, you need to treat it as if it’s your firstborn.

  27. Teddy Leach says:

    I completely agree with Alec. As I’ve said on Twitter an elsewhere, a lot of people are being despicable pricks over this.

  28. cupogoodness says:

    I think where many are missing the point here, as Alec mentioned, is that the indie label should make a difference–and not because they’re a small team, but because of the sense of community indie gaming has (or had been) shown over the past several years.

    That a significant portion of Zomboid’s pre-order community became so intensely hateful toward the team, instead of trying to pick them up in a rotten moment, is pretty concerning to see as an indie developer. (I know everyone and their mom in gamedev has updated/verified their back-up systems in the past 24 hours in horror of this instant cautionary tale.)

    If you truly feel you’ve been screwed over, yes you should voice your concern. Just for all that’s good in this world wait a bit for a response before you resort to grabbing your virtual pitchforks. It bugs me that hardly anybody even bothered to ask for details, voice actual/legitimate concerns, provide constructive feedback, work together on any constructive level with the developer to resolve any issues that stemmed from the unhappy matter, etc. So many choices to make better a bad situation, and they were all discarded for something…entirely unproductive.

    On the other side, Indie Stone joined right in with that unproductive stuff in their initial response. The group needs to take it upon themselves to present a more professional demeanor, and of course cover all the bases with their work from here forward. They might be cursed with bad luck, but the collateral damage it can cause will be minimized by proper planning, due diligence, etc.

    • Dominic White says:

      “On the other side, Indie Stone joined right in with that unproductive stuff in their initial response.”

      The only guy who said anything vaguely unprofessional was the guy who had just had his house broken into, everything vaguely valuable stolen, and his work for the past couple of months lost, followed by a torrent of abuse from the internet at large.

      I’d dare you to put on a cold, emotionless public face in that same situation.

    • Premium User Badge

      TheApologist says:

      @Dominic – Hear, hear

    • cupogoodness says:

      I would be a fucking mess, and I would be as far away from the internet as possible. (Except for writing up and publishing the explanation presser.)

      Edit: Also Dom, both Lemmy and Blinky were firing away, Lemmy deleted his account, and to my knowledge Blinky’s is still up.

    • Premium User Badge

      Hanban says:

      @DW

      Agreed. Personally I think this showcases one of the very important differences between an indie dev and how do you put it, more organized better funded developers.

      Here we have a person, just like you and me, representing himself and a few friends who happen to be making a game. HIs house is broken into. Obviously this is traumatic.

      Where in the case of a larger dev assuming the case is burglary, you have an OFFICE being broken into. The invasion of your own personal self is obviously much smaller. And add to that, you have a professional PR person to deal with the situation as need befits.

      Yes, they took our money. They’re only human, albeit perhaps forgetful for not backing up more often.

  29. arienette says:

    The internet can be such a repository of bile at times. It saddens me to see people attack so harshly with so little reason. I wish them luck in recovering from this, I pre-ordered my copy ages ago and am still eager to see where they take the game.

  30. asshibbitty says:

    Having fewer responsibilities is one of the benefits of being a non-independent dev.

  31. hosndosn says:

    That’s the problem with pity over the internet. It’s hard to feel truly sympathetic. I just plain don’t know these guys. I got robbed once. Do you feel sorry for me? I mean, sure, you’ll say “that sucks, sorry to hear that, mate”. But you wouldn’t truly care. There are child soldiers in Africa dying from a stomach wound right now. You can’t feel sympathy for every single person on this world at the same time.

    The state of the game (which they manage horribly, apparently) is just more relevant to any gaming related website than Lemmy’s personal calamities. It’s not likely that it’s a scam (and people just love their pitchforks a little too much), but you have to wonder whether they really deserve that “viral” attention they seem to mostly get through overly dramatic pity-cries at the moment. It’s an indie game. But there are lots of indie games out there, nowadays. It’s time to be a little more critical. They jumped onto the zombie/8bit bandwagon so it’s not even like there is that great of an idea. People are just annoyed with how much attention Zomboid gets for, essentially, not doing anything particularly remarkable (and, in fact, a series of failures).

    Personally, yea, Lemmy’s one poor bastard and I wish him the best to get this sorted out. But this isn’t personal, really.

    • Archonsod says:

      “There are child soldiers in Africa dying from a stomach wound right now. You can’t feel sympathy for every single person on this world at the same time.”

      No, but at the same time if I find a child soldier dying of a stomach wound I wouldn’t proceed to pour salt in it. It’s not a matter of being sympathetic, it’s a matter of basic respect for one’s fellow man.

      A guy gets his house burgled and likely loses everything of value. I reckon anyone who thinks that’s less of a problem than them getting an update for a game slightly later than otherwise really ought to be rethinking their priorities in life.

  32. Premium User Badge

    Museli says:

    I wish these guys the best for the future, especially the two who live in the flat which was burgled. Hopefully it’ll be sooner rather than later when they can feel safe in their home again.

  33. thebluemonkey81 says:

    Thanks for filling me in, I was under the impression (from hear say) that they’d packed it all in and had resigned myself to never seeing the game.

    That is, I’m not mad, these things happen and if I pre-order an indie game it’s me paying for a hope that the game will reach completion and be released rather than an expectation that I’ll get x game on date y.

    All that said, I’m really glad these guys are still at it and I really hope they bounce back to their old selves in time.

    Oh and learn that people on the internet are far more likely to rage than praise more often than not.

  34. Hiphoppington Hippo says:

    This game has been on my radar for some time now and probably wouldn’t have been if it weren’t for all their hardships. I was going to wait to buy it, but now I really want to help out. Looks like I’m purchasing it today.

  35. BobsLawnService says:

    I can understand non-software developers thinking that a lack of backups isn’t a big deal but you people are wrong. This is a huge deal for any sofware developer who accepts investment money from third parties and from a business point of view it is completely unacceptable. I don’t care if you are Dice or the smallest one man development studio. When you take into account the total amount oif cash people have invested you’ll come to realize that they’re not such small fish.

    From a professional point of view (and I’m given to believe that all the developers come from a professional software background.) They deserve some stick.

  36. D3xter says:

    Sorry, but if you have even had a little project/programming experience this is very basic stuff… even in Uni where there wasn’t a financial interest (or the existence of oneself and ones company) at stake whenever we worked with more than 2-3 people on a project we used versioning software (Subversion, Mercurial/GIT etc.) set up on a remote server. Not only is it safer, but it makes working in a team considerably easier and updating each other’s code too…

    This is kinda the same as keeping a note saying “PIN: 1234″ right next to your credit card in your wallet, regrettable if something happens but your own damn fault and you shouldn’t come crying afterwards.

    There’s probably just a disconnect between people that understand that and people who don’t.

  37. G says:

    I happened to buy this last night before I heard the news.

    I think when you put your money down on these indie pre-orders it’s always going to be a bit of a gamble – there’s no guarantee that you will end up with the game you want or even a finished game at all. So it goes.

    If you’ve just lost a lot of data after your flat has been broken into you don’t need anyone to tell you that you should have backed things up better. Telling people this after the fact isn’t going to change anything. It may be a stupid mistake but stupid mistakes are much more likely to happen with small inexperienced teams. So it goes.

    • Premium User Badge

      Nathan says:

      People who are actually contacting the poor guys in question to abuse or chastise them are undoubtedly dicks; but the vast majority of commenters here (and possibly elsewhere) are not.

      I’m hugely sympathetic on a personal level towards this team that seems to have nothing but an endless run of bad luck, but discussing the incident in the abstract it’s impossible not to comment on the sheer craziness of not backing up your full time work and livelihood offsite. I wouldn’t for a second consider rubbing it in their faces what they’ve clearly learnt all too well, but that’s not what anyone here is doing by criticising them.

    • Sleepymatt says:

      Nathan, couldn’t agree more (see my rambling post further up for a long-winded version of your succinctly put point).

  38. Scumbag says:

    This reminds me more of the more sadistic side of Anon logic unfortunatly.
    “Hey dude, someone over here has fallen down and its public!”
    “AWSOME! Lets begin the verbal rape for the sake of it!”

  39. Deano2099 says:

    Did anyone try asking for a refund rather that just hurling abuse because the back-up process was flawed and the game has been delayed a few months? Did they get one?

  40. Lobotomist says:

    Indie development is “punk rock”

    And as for : they should have backup stored on external source.

    You are forgetting that this is not a company with paranoid IT department. Just couple guys coding from their bedrooms. The thought of theft never crossed their minds.

    Its like blaming Sid Vicious for taking drugs. “He should have been more careful !”

    • BobsLawnService says:

      All the developers come from a professional development background so they should have known the importance of backups. Also backups aren’t just for paranoid IT departments. I have set up a free SVN repository on one of the many free solutions on the web and use it for my little prototypes and it’s seemless and takes absolutely no effort to use. There is no excuse for a seasoned professional to ignore tjis. Hell, since there are four developers working on the game I’m flabbergasted to hear that they weren’t using source control.

  41. BobsLawnService says:

    The downside of this is that this has convinced me never to participate in any crowdsourced games development program. I’ve been suspicious of the model and if this is how irresponsible Indy devs are then I’ll let others take the risk and I’ll pay full price when the game is released.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Noooooo. Don’t do that.

      Take a close look at each individual developer. Ask questions (eg, do they look like they know what they’re doing? do they look like emotionally stable individuals?). If you’re unsatisfied with the answer, then walk away.

      It’s a good model. It worked well for Mount&Blade in particular, which cranked up the price slightly after every major release. It just needs to be done right, and that means providing the customer with various signals that you’re serious about the project and able to complete it.

      We just need higher standards on both sides – customers to demand them, and devs to set them.

    • Consumatopia says:

      I don’t know whether the larger concept makes sense, but the way some of these indies do it doesn’t really make sense.

      Participation in one of these things represents a quantum superposition of an investment, a donation, a pre-order, and “we are not legally bound to provide additional updates, you are paying for the product as it stands now”. They thank you gratefully for giving them a chance, then mock you for only paying such a small nominal amount.

      It’s a model that’s absolutely certain to produce flame wars. They weren’t really contractually obligated to do anything–they were taking money before they had anything to offer for download at all. So no one would have paid under the expectation they would only fulfill their minimum contractual obligations. But how far beyond those obligations should people reasonably expect them to go? That’s entirely subjective.

    • Premium User Badge

      Wisq says:

      then mock you for only paying such a small nominal amount.

      Say what now? Who’s doing this then?

      The downside of this is that this has convinced me never to participate in any crowdsourced games development program.

      Yeah, crowdsourcing totally doesn’t work. I’m going to delete my Minecraft account right now. And stop playing Dwarf Fortress, because it’s donationware, which is pretty much the same thing. And I’ll go demand my money back from Xenonauts, because all they’ve given me is some promising preview builds and a lot of enthusiasm and that’s just not enough, damnit.

      In fact, I think I’ll just stop playing indie games altogether. They obviously don’t know what they’re doing. But then, neither do the big studios — I’m already boycotting the UbiDRM, and some people tell me I should be boycotting EA, and Steam, and just about everything else, and those consoles are locked-in trash …

      I know! I’ll just stop playing games altogether! There we go! My life just got so much easier now that I’ve learned to over-generalise and stereotype based on a tiny dataset.

    • Consumatopia says:

      Say what now? Who’s doing this then?

      Have you seen all the “five quid” comments in this thread? Maybe the Deus Ex post on their blog? Mocking people who give money–especially when they gave money before there was even a deliverable product–is the ultimate in “entitlement” complexes.

      And stop playing Dwarf Fortress, because it’s donationware, which is pretty much the same thing.

      Donationware is more straight forward than alpha-purchasing. If you donate money, you undeniably have the right to share your opinion of how that money is spent with other people who might donate money in the future. There’s no “entitlement issues”, there’s no “you purchased the game as is”–the developer got donations to work on what they love and they should be grateful. End of.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Eh, it’s basically the same as Kickstarter. Nothing wrong with it as long as you have responsible, somewhat proven parties involved. The unproven ones will always be a gamble. Such is the nature of crowd funding. And investment of any kind.

      Maybe the Deus Ex post on their blog?

      Yeah. That’s bad. But to be fair, I don’t think I’ve seen any other developer whining about how their customers only paid $x, and therefore they shouldn’t complain. Indie Stone is, in so many ways, quite a unique case that doesn’t bear extrapolating.

      EDIT: For example, here’s how Notch handled similar criticism. Simple, friendly, honest, non-condescending, non-antagonistic.

    • Consumatopia says:

      That Notch post does seem to take the ideal tone.

      To be fair, both Notch and Indie Stone get a huge amount of completely ridiculous and unfair criticism. They’re both working hard, and people calling them lazy or frauds are being ridiculous. That Deus Ex post was over the top, but email he was responding to wasn’t really reasonable either.

      It just really annoys me when people act as thought these criticisms are categorically ridiculous. It’s not inherently illegtimate to have an opinion about something you gave/paid money to.

  42. sinister agent says:

    Funny you mention Mojang probably having this nailed down. This exchange popped up on twatter over the situation:

    Cliffski: “Hands up other indie devs who read about project zomboid, then immediately ordered a backup drive for their work? I have…”

    Notch: “I used to have almost no back ups of minecraft at all for the first year. This is scary.”

    http://twitter.com/#!/notch/status/125538017145389056

    It’s almost as though all people are human.

    • LionsPhil says:

      So, what, people who aren’t completely inept at taking the most basic measures to protect their livelihood are superhuman now? Just how low are we setting this “only human” bar?

    • Premium User Badge

      Joshua says:

      There is no bar – Were humans.

    • JackShandy says:

      The bar is “Mistakes”. Humans are allowed to do things that are, objectively, mistakes.

    • Premium User Badge

      TheApologist says:

      I’m glad to see other developers publicly saying this kind of thing.

      I’ve worked most of my life in small companies, and on projects peopled by small teams of dedicated, cash strapped, and committed people. The thing is that human error happens everywhere, but when it happens on a small project it tends to have far greater effects on the project and on the people involved in them.

  43. Crius says:

    Really, i cannot believe that they had not backup somewhere else the code. I mean online e.g.
    That will be my first priority with the funds received with the preorder.

  44. sinister agent says:

    I’m not going to level this at anyone personally, but several people have commented (here and elsewhere) with things along the lines of “I’m not slagging them off, but I’m calling them out not having backups”. In response to that I say this:

    Why?

    These people have learned more from this ordeal than a million comments like yours could ever teach them (including the sad discovery that many people are just vile). They’ve had their homes invaded, their personal items stolen, their livelihood threatened and their hard, loving work lost for no good reason. Then they’ve spent a day being roundly abused by the very people they’ve been working so hard to please.

    There is no positive purpose whatsoever to these comments, any more than there is in commenting on how someone who’s just been hit by a car should have looked both ways. THEY KNOW THAT. You don’t need to tell them, or “call it out” like you’re their bloody umpire. There is no reason in the world to “call them out” for this other than sheer pointless spite or a desire to make yourself feel big that’s so vast it’s singlehandedly demolishing your social awareness. If that’s all you have to say, don’t.

    • KikiJiki says:

      Speaking for myself, I pointed out the whole backup thing because it’s a problem that was addressed by software developers as far back as the 70s (thanks for that wikipedia) and the solutions have become increasingly sophisticated over the years.

      From what I gather the developers of PZ have come from commercial software dev backgrounds (or at least this lemmy chap has). To hear that source control was ignored doesn’t just say to me that their situation is any worse than it could be, but it does make me question their ability as developers, because I’m a developer and I know how fundamental this sort of thing is (and it’s emphatically not something you only learn when you run your first project).

      Hopefully this isn’t too harsh on the guys, I wouldn’t want myself or anyone else to be burgled but I think it speaks volumes about how and importantly why people are ‘calling them out’ over backups.

    • jalf says:

      These people have learned more from this ordeal than a million comments like yours could ever teach them

      Really?
      What do you learn from losing your game’s source code?
      “I should have done something to not lose it”.

      What do you learn from being told “if you’d used a VCS, you wouldn’t have lost your source code”?
      “If I’d used a VCS, I wouldn’t have lost my source code.

      The latter is much more informative, precise and actionable. You can’t act until you know what to do.

      Another factor is that others might read this.

      Say you’re an upcoming indie dev. You just started last week on your awesome game.
      Now you find this thread, and you read some people say “Sucks for IndieStone. they’re so unlucky”.
      Well, you might agree, but it’s not going to tell you how to back up your code.

      Then you see that other people say “If they’d used Git, they would have avoided this. Oh, and this is absolutely programming 101, and any half-serious programmer should know this”.

      Now you know:
      1: what specific tool can be used to avoid this, and
      2: that it is expected of you to know this, and
      3: that you don’t have to be an experienced or super skilled programmer to be able to use it.

      That’s why.

      The lesson *I* take away from this fiasco is quite simply that we have an education problem among game programmers. It’s too late to prevent IndieStone from losing their stuff, but we can and should do everything possible in order to ensure that others won’t make the same mistake.

      That’s why. And I think it is a vastly better purpose than any amount of stroking IndieStone’s egos.

    • soldant says:

      I call them out on it for the reasons the others gave; it’s an important cautionary tale and I find it a little ridiculous that there was no real backup plan in place. But apparently on RPS if it’s an indie dev, all I’m allowed to do is either shower them with sympathy, or say absolutely nothing. I’m sorry that they got robbed, really I am, but I can’t muster any sympathy for the backup situation. This isn’t something like cruel pirates or Paypal overreacting. The lack of a proper backup system was their fault. They admitted it. Why should I be demonised because I’m pointing out that fact? I’m being put into the same category as the idiots who ranted about entitlement and expectations and all that.

    • RichardFairbrass says:

      Why? Because people are allowed to discuss things that interest them and judging by all the comments here a lot of people are very interested in the back up situation. The most disheartening thing I’ve read here is how many people want to stamp down any discussion of what happened. It’s almost as though this comment section directly emails everything written directly to the developers and nothing but well wishing and platitudes should be posted. Sure, they might come and read comments here but then they might read comments anywhere that Google crawls.

      People should be allowed to discuss their back up system and back ups in general without the insinuations, and straight out statements, that to do so is ‘dickish’ or exactly like laughing in a rape victim’s face.

      There is no positive purpose whatsoever to these comments, any more than there is in commenting on how someone who’s just been hit by a car should have looked both ways. THEY KNOW THAT.

      I think this is a fair analogy with two minor problems as I perceive it. Firstly the ‘They know that’ part implies that people commenting here are in fact directing comments to the victims. In fact it’s more a case of someone saying that the accident victim should have looked both ways to a third, unrelated party.

      Secondly I think that pointing out that someone should have looked both ways would be pointless as it is blindingly obvious. What is quite clear from what has happened is that proper back up is not nearly as obvious or understood. I have read comments that have stated that using online back up would be either too expensive or technically difficult for such a small outfit, which is patently not true.

      I think that people discussing back up options could be useful for regulars of this site who are maybe not aware of what a proper back up plan is, or how easily one can be implemented. Perhaps comments such as these should be phrased more along the lines of ‘A good way to back up is…’ rather than ‘They really should have…’ but I like to think the intention is similar.

      Over all I strongly feel that people should be allowed to discuss whatever they like as long as it doesn’t cross over into abuse or trolling. I don’t really see any of that here. I do feel the idea of comments having to have a ‘positive purpose’, or any other criteria, to be acceptable is a slippery slope. If that was applied across the board then anyone daring to complain about Ubisoft’s DRM, for example, would fall into the category of not making positive comments and thus be chastised for doing so.

      I know the net can be a horribly shitty, negative place at times (in fact pretty much all the time) but I find the idea of one where only positive things are allowed to be said far more disturbing.

    • Premium User Badge

      Wisq says:

      The lesson *I* take away from this fiasco is quite simply that we have an education problem among game programmers.

      Absolutely.

      Every time I see someone lose some code in their working copy, I wonder why they’re not using an SCM/VCS system. (Don’t want to commit it to master yet? Pick an SCM that makes branching cheap & easy & local.)

      Every time someone self-hosts their SCM server, I wonder why they’re not using one of the SCM systems that have professional online hosting available. Honestly, I don’t feel safe if I’ve written more than about 100 lines of code without pushing it up to Github (for free, if it’s open source).

      Every time someone loses a file because a program was in the middle of saving (overwriting it) when it crashed (or lost power), I wonder why nobody taught the programmer to write a new file and then rename it over the old one. (Games with quicksave are often particularly bad about this.)

      I could go on. All of these were taught to me by example, rather than by making mistakes — I saw what they were doing, I wondered why, and after doing a little research, I found myself wondering why I hadn’t been doing them all along. And so I added a new entry to my list of “things I must always do”.

      But that process took years of incremental learning, and I had the luxury of many years to learn before I ever started working on a commercial product. I guess not everyone has that luxury. Maybe someone needs to start an “important lessons for every programmer” site …

  45. Kefren says:

    I’m really looking forward to the game, I hope it doesn’t deter the developers. There’s no reason why the game can’t continue to develop and end up just as good at the end.

    Over the years I have made mistakes and lost files (including a text adventure game I wrote in basic on the C64 in the 1980′s, which I am always sad about – bloody tape recorders!) We’re all human. Generally we learn from it. Some of the people going on about adopting better security regimes are no doubt well-meaning people. I bet many of them know so much now BECAUSE they have had accidents in the past. We all have. Generally the person suffering the loss doesn’t need any more nagging – they’re usually the ones who are most aware of their mistake.

  46. Unaco says:

    Let’s hope this good will and sympathy is maintained the next time EA get hacked, or a Activision releases a buggy game.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Yes, that definitely covers all the nuances, doesn’t it?

    • Unaco says:

      No, it doesn’t. That would be silly Alec… encompassing all of the nuances and subtleties of the situation in a single sentence. I’m good, yes, but not that good.

      But, I would hope, the general sentiment carries across… Devs are people too, they are flesh and blood just like us, if we prick them, they bleed, etc, etc, and that, in the event of an accident/mistake/crisis, vitriol and abuse are not what is needed.

    • Alec Meer says:

      I agree, for what it’s worth. I’m just not onboard with thinking four guys who found success by chance and skill and disaster by chance and oversight are directly comparable to multi-million pound projects with vast business, promotional, security and support networks.

    • Consumatopia says:

      No customer data was lost in this instance, but for future reference, if you get hacked and you lose your customer’s data, you are not a victim deserving sympathy, your customers are. You’re just the security guard who fell asleep on the job.

    • BobsLawnService says:

      But Alec, a huge budget and infrustructure and support network are not what is required for an off site source control solution. For five to ten quid a month they could have joined an online SVN hosting site and they would have had source control and an off site backup which would not have taken any effort to use. Coming from a professional development environment it is a no-brainer. Really being the “little guy” in this case is absolutely no excuse.

    • Alec Meer says:

      It is good that you know that.

    • jalf says:

      I’m just not onboard with thinking four guys who found success by chance and skill and disaster by chance and oversight are directly comparable to multi-million pound projects with vast business,

      Why not, exactly?

      Perhaps I’m a flawed person, but I don’t really care if your company’s name is Activision, Zombie Cow, Mojang or IndieStone. If you run a business selling games you develop, then you fundamentally have to play by the rules of a business selling games you develop. If you don’t want to live up to this responsibility, then don’t take people’s money.

      If you’re serious enough to charge money for your game, then you’re also serious enough to act professionally in terms of protecting your customers’ investments, in terms of giving your customers what they paid for.

      Maybe it’s all my fault for being an evil and broken human being, but I don’t see why it is inherently more legal to criticize Activision than IndieStone. If EA makes a good game, I say well done EA. If they screw up I say EA screwed up.

      If IndieStone makes a good game, why should I not say well done IndieStone? If they screw up, why should I not say IndieStone screwed up?

    • Fox89 says:

      @Bobslawnservice
      They do use online backups. They had just got a bit behind with their backups in the rush for the new update. It’s not like the entire project was on just two laptops, they were just a bit lax. Which is something we all suffer from I’m sure until something like this happens to teach us a lesson.

      @Jalf
      Because the Indie Stone are not a company with the benefit of experience or expertise in such things. The key difference between a big publisher like EA/Activision is that not only SHOULD they know better, they DO know better and will sometimes simply get sloppy. The Indie Stone, conversely, are a small team going through all the trials for the first time. And whilst there’s nothing wrong with saying ‘Maybe they should have done X’, the vitriol with which they were attacked by some were inexcusable. They will have learned more about their security from the break in itself then any amount of “You’re an incompetent idiot” comments on Reddit.

    • jalf says:

      Because the Indie Stone are not a company with the benefit of experience or expertise in such things.

      I disagree with this on two levels:

      - you don’t need to be EA to know what version control software is, how to use it and why to use it. You need to have held a programming job for about 5 hours. So in this specific case, I don’t buy it. There is no excuse for programmers not using version control.
      - on a more general level, when you form a company, when you decide to charge money for your game, you are in the same business as Activision. Why shouldn’t you be held to the same standards?
      Why should I demand *more* from Activision than I do from a small indie developer? The deal is the same in both cases: I hand over some money, and I get a game in return.

      I don’t think the indie scene is “special”. I don’t think it *needs* to be special. it doesn’t need special treatment and it doesn’t need to be handled with velvet gloves. It can and should be held to the same standards as anyone else who makes and sells games commercially.

      Would you be more forgiving of a plumber messing up your bathroom if you knew he were new at the job? Or would you say that you paid him to do the job, and you expected him to be capable of doing it?
      Would you be forgiving of a chef at a restaurant who gives you a food poisoning if you knew he were new at the job? Or would you say that you expected him to live up to the responsibilities placed on him when he took the job?

      So why exactly should we not expect indie developers to live up to the responsibilities involved with selling games, when we expect big AAA publishers to do so?

      Does the indie scene need, deserve or benefit from being excused from having to follow the rules? I don’t think so.

      I think the indie scene is better off on equal footing with the AAA’s. When I buy an indie game, it’s not because “awww, it’s made by a poor widdle indie developer, how cute is that?”. it’s because it’s a good game.

      I think we’re doing indie developers a disservice by coddling them and pretending that they’re “special”, and telling them that the rules don’t have to apply to them.

  47. Joe Duck says:

    Personally, I can wait. I have no problem giving them some more time and it seems that that is going to be the only consequence of this very ugly story.
    It is very easy to point fingers now, but before you get on with it I would remind you that also huge firms lose their prototypes (like Apple) or have their networks hacked (like Sony) or lose their source code (like Valve).

  48. Burky says:

    1) what a shame, it had so much potential

    2) holy professional negligence batman

    3) being “indie” does not absolve one from professional responsibilities, once you have taken money

    4) public criticism is entirely justified

    5) deleting comments here that display such criticisms is rather petty, and is characteristic of a rather annoying trend that has been happening here the last couple of months. Deleting comments to avoid conflict (or “flame wars”, as it is inelegantly put) is just detrimental to interesting discussions.

    • Burky says:

      it also makes the comments unreadable because it messes up the reply trees

      if you’re going to unperson then do it properly

    • Alec Meer says:

      It’s always happened and always will happen.

    • Burky says:

      could you at least either fix the way the deletion system works in regards to the reply tree, or just edit the offenders to [REDACTED] or something?

      as it stands, everyone suddenly gets dementia by the second page

    • Phydaux says:

      Burky, do you like RPS comments? Probably, they’re always interesting and full of good banter. Wonder why it’s not full of trolling, spam, and other toxic posts? Because from the very beginning the RPS chaps have cut out the crap that would endanger the excellent community that this site brings.

      I’m happy that the cancer of crap posts is cut out. Even if it leaves some scars.

      “Create an atmosphere in which trolling and idiocy is not tolerated at all, and it starts to recede.” – Jim

  49. Bayonetto says:

    Lemmy’s tone in his blog posts was pretty shameful before this happened. He made the very naive mistake of thinking he was free to act how he wanted without recourse. Once you take someone’s money, you are at least subject to looking after their investment. The lack of backup is something that was probably ignored due to the lack of professionalism they thought they were entitled to since they worked on a donation basis. People will throw money at anything with zombies involved, and they probably got money easier than they should have.

    I wasn’t a fan of his attitude before this happened and I was disappointed by his outburst and subsequent apology. The internet will produce plenty of ludicrous people, but I think Lemmy’s blog updates have been just as entitled and infuriating. Him announcing that he was going to stop his working day and play Deus Ex is not a healthy expression for anyone. The rest of the team will have to pick up the pieces after his fits. He said he was going to go back to business development because games aren’t worth it. He probably should, as he may learn something about how to conduct himself.

    • Burky says:

      Yeah, that was what killed my sympathy for him. I do feel sorry for the other members of the team though.

  50. AgamemnonV2 says:

    “These are non-established indie developers, making it up as they go along. They are not businessmen or security experts or anything other than four guys making a game from their own homes.”

    They were businessmen as soon as they set up a payment plan to allow multiple customers to purchase a product of theirs through a distribution service of some sort. Whether they have acted like it after that point is really up to them. People keep saying “disaster” has been striking Indie Stone; instead common business hurtles have been encountered (payment issues, especially the sort that avoid common business taxes; work being leaked; theft of marketable goods). Each time an instance that’s common in business practice has been encountered, one guy has said, “I’m human and I’m just trying to follow my dreams; does that make me terrible?”

    No, not at all. Everyone should pursue their aspirations in life. But they should be smart about it. Running a business is no small task, nor is it easy. You can’t expect it to come naturally or to not face some very hard decisions. It’s sad but the people that go into business without a plan are usually the ones that ultimately end up failing (and end up hurting not only their customers, but their employees as well: see Flagship Studios for a great example of that).

    Hopefully this experience has taught them that, unfortunately, it can’t always be fun and games, even if you’re “doing what you love.” In the end it’s still a grown-up world and we all have to come down from the clouds every now and then.