Good News! – Cube World Isn’t Dead

By Nathan Grayson on October 22nd, 2013 at 1:00 pm.

Neither is this skeleton man. He is merely undead, still able to lead a happy and fulfilling un-life.

Alas, Cube World, we hardly knew ye. You sprang into our lives from Wollay’s blocky womb an alpha with a big upside, but then you did probably the most unsettling thing an alpha’s capable of: nothing. No growth. No evolution. No march ever onward to completion. After weathering a launch storm of server issues and DDoS attacks, the voxel adventure paradise suddenly ceased updates. The game and its website have been stagnant since July, leading many to fear that Wollay’s bucket of building blocks has already run dry. The developer, however, has finally piped up to put an end to the radio silence.

The developer tweeted (for the first time in months), noting that work on Cube World still continues apace, but there’s still a whole, whole lot more to be done. The two-person team further reached out to Kotaku to elaborate:

“The new update is coming along nicely. We’re still experimenting with some features and are working on an improved launcher. At the moment there’s just a lot of work going on behind the scenes, like customer support, server/website development, and we’re currently moving to a new apartment with more space for our development studio.”

“There’s an option for a smaller user interface, the controls will be configurable and there are a few new creatures. We’re tweaking game balance to make it easier at lower levels and harder at higher levels. We’re also experimenting with some major changes but I’m not sure yet which ones will make it into the next patch.”

As of now, unfortunately, Wollay’s unable to pin down a release window. ”We’re doing our best to release the update as soon as we can but I’m really bad at estimating,” said the developer.

It’s worth noting that Cube World has long been a side project for its developers, and radio silence hasn’t exactly been an uncommon occurrence. Still though, in this age of early access – wherein, we pay for sometimes very unfinished games with the implied promise of continued improvement – do you think developers owe us frequent status updates? If nothing else, then as a show of good faith or a means of staying accountable? Or are you willing to let devs seal themselves off in their own little underground creativity bunkers, bathed only in darkness and their ideas? I know “open” development doesn’t work for every kind of game, but should silence be the answer?

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48 Comments »

  1. Dozer says:

    Game looks familiar somehow. I’m sure I was playing another game that looks just like it a little while ago. What was its name? Can’t remember – something about dainty boats?

    • quietone says:

      Don’t you mean the chute used to dispose of silent actors?

    • brittanysarah84 says:

      my best friend’s step-mother makes $88/hour on the laptop. She has been without work for 10 months but last month her pay was $14500 just working on the laptop for a few hours. this article ……
      http://www.jobs53.com

  2. El_Spartin says:

    Well, it’s something I suppose. I was actually willing to right off the game as abandoned until this. As far as communication is concerned though, it would be nice if they at least said something once a month or maybe even every two weeks. Months of silence makes people nervous.

    • Taidan says:

      Yeah, after the first month of silence, I assumed that they’d taken the money and done a runner, cursed myself for being a fool, and vowed never to buy an unfinished game from an Indie outfit ever again.

      When you sell a game on a promise of future updates, there really is no excuse for completely blanking your loyal customers for months at a time.

  3. derbefrier says:

    The game was pretty fun but lack of updates really just kinda killed it for me. I moved on months ago and really don’t see myself going back. I don’t regret the purchase its just that well the game is very bare bones and if this is how often we can expect updates well they are a small fish in a big sea so I see no reason to hang around. Maybe in a couple years the game might be worth looking at again if I even remember it exists,

  4. Thrashie says:

    Luckily I have a big backlog of games.. but IMHO if you let people buy your game you should at least give some updates or go underground and not take money. :)

  5. TheBigBookOfTerror says:

    I managed to buy it before the DoS attacks started causing problems and I’m still regularly loading up to explore my first world. When I bought it I was fully aware it was an alpha, that it was a discounted price that would go up on release, and that it was entirely possible that further updates could well take a while. Since the game at the moment is very playable and stable (I don’t remember it crashing at all) I feel I’ve already got my money’s worth. I was concerned that there were no updates, but acknowledged that programming takes time and that they were probably just super concentrating now on creating content to flesh out the game aspect.

    This isn’t a kickstarter project though so I don’t feel they owe me any communication or updates on how it’s going, but I am glad that progress is continuing.

  6. c-Row says:

    I got enough fun out of the alpha to justify buying it, but I would have preferred a clearer form of communication (or any at all). Even something like a monthly “nothing new to see here, folks” message would have been better than complete silence.

    • malkav11 says:

      Yeah, even if you’re not bringing an actual software update to the table, saying -something- lets people know you’re still alive, around, and committed to the project. (Of course, if you’re plainly -not- still committed to the project, that’s another kettle of worms.)

  7. kevmscotland says:

    In a day and age where you can pretty much access Social media in seconds from various sources such as a PC, laptop, Tablet and not to mention your phone, combined with the fact people have already paid you money i don’t think its entirely unreasonable to expect a developer to take the 10 seconds it requires a month to write a sentence on twitter.

    I’d put this in the “Ran off with the cash pile” next to castle Story.

    Experiences like this and especially Castle Story are what will ultimately be the end of crowd/alpha funding.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      Am I missing something? What’s wrong with Castle Story?

      • RedViv says:

        It’s an alpha and unoptimised and buggy and the small dev team only updates their blog weekly *gasp*

        • rustybroomhandle says:

          Oh no, what a scam!

        • kevmscotland says:

          Interms of game updates, theres been exactly 1 since the prototype a year ago.

          Edit: OK, I dont mind being corrected, theres been another since I last checked.
          Thats cool.

    • Lemming says:

      But these are indie devs,not PR Marketing types that go to seminars on self-empowerment and public speaking. They just want to get on and code.

      • fish99 says:

        You don’t need to be good at public speaking to use twitter or post a few words on a blog.

    • airmikee99 says:

      “Experiences like this and especially Castle Story are what will ultimately be the end of crowd/alpha funding.”

      Why is that?

      Last year Haunts had a similar problem, failed hard, and pissed a lot of people off.
      This year Star Citizen has passed 23 million in crowdfunding, and just added a stretch goal at 25 million.

      You’re saying the entire bushel of apples is bad because a few spoiled.

    • wu wei says:

      Ritual Dementia is another KickStarted project giving off a strong feeling of having taken the money and run.

      It doesn’t take hiring a PR firm to realise responding to concerned emails with a blog update or a polite “hey thanks for your interest will have something soon” is a good idea.

  8. Magnusm1 says:

    Uhh, RPS? Rocksmith 2014 was just relased.

    Hello?

    • bstard says:

      Its no f2p moba is it? So why bring it up?

    • Nick says:

      Not in the UK it wasn’t =(

    • airmikee99 says:

      Not being released for another couple of days in Australia and the EU, but what does that have to do with Cube World?

    • Samuel Erikson says:

      What does an absurdly overpriced* Ubisoft release–in a series that RPS has posted about twice–have to do with Cube World?

      *Seriously, 3$ per song. WtF?

  9. aeromorte says:

    Updates about what’s going on with thier game? Hmm. Well maybe you should check starbound main page. From the first preorders till now they had a day by day update of thier current work. Personally i like it since it shows that i didnt throw my money into an empty void with no chances to get any information out of it.

    • Bremze says:

      You’d think so, but Starbound also has attracted a bunch of manchildren that throw a shitfit whenever the devs dare to post something unrelated to the game with the more extreme ones straight up harassing them. Not the best example I’d say.

      • jrodman says:

        Good example of dev behavior, bad example of fan behavior. (Fan behavior seems to so often devolve this way)

  10. Pippy says:

    When this Update comes out I am boycotting it due to lack of updates between it and the previous update.

  11. Belsameth says:

    Taking money means your players also are your customers. While I don’t really expect daily updates or whatever, this silence is unacceptible. If you can’t deal with communication to your players, don’t release a game. Especially an alpha.

    • Llewyn says:

      If you can’t deal with silence from the developers, don’t buy a game. Especially an alpha.

      • Belsameth says:

        Yes because people who hand over their money to support you should be happy and feel privelidged to be able to do so and just stfu… If you can’t handle the occasional status update, even if it is just “Still working. Don’t worry”, don’t sell your game.

    • Monkeh says:

      Totally agree. Also, as a comment above already stated, it only takes seconds to post some information on the game’s progress on twitter or whatever, so to me it’s really weird and distrusting when a developer doesn’t even do that AT LEAST once a month.. especially after already taking money.

      EDIT: And at the post above, once you do deal with a developer that is silent, most people will not be interested in this developer in his future endeavours. Whereas developers that keep you informed, also make you care about them more and the amount of work they put in. Being almost completely silent when you’ve got paid customers, while it takes such little effort to post a small bit of information on what’s going on, is just being a terrible developer.

  12. Zankmam says:

    This game has too much potential too fail – I hope that they do indeed keep working on this and achieve great things.

  13. Tei says:

    In my mind… CubeWorld is *obviusly* the creation of a .NET type of programmer. Every pixel, every texture, every UI language, every metafora, say out loud C-SHAAAAAAAAAAAAAARPPPPPPPPPPPPPPpp.

    Windows programmers are isaciolist. And this why we have the no-mods and only-windows stances. I hope they change later.

    • DantronLesotho says:

      uh, what is a “isaciolist”?

      • Llewyn says:

        Isolationist, I think.

      • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        An isaciolist is one who subscribes to the economic and social theories of isaciolism. Isaciolism is a philosophy in which the individual, corporate, and government functions are entirely handed over to Tei.

        • The Random One says:

          I thought it was just a dude who studied triangles with two equal sides.

  14. sanderman says:

    Oh cry me a river. The guy says he’s still alive and working on it. That should be enough. Is it really so hard to believe that for some people, communicating with random strangers on the internet is mentally draining and they would rather spend that effort on improving their product and dealing with the fallout of a DDOS attack?

    If they cancel the game; sure you have every right to be mad, if you were lead to believe there would still be significant improvements. As it stands, people should just learn to have some patience. Not everyone has the mental energy and time to post a dozen twitter posts every week.

    The guy making Dwarf Fortress hasn’t released a new version in over a year. Nobody rages on him. Why should this guy be treated so differently. Solely because he had the nerve to ask for some funding upfront?

    Also, everyone who bought this knew full well that what they paid for was an alpha, incomplete and that there is always a chance the project might be abandoned or fail due to circumstances in- or outside the control of the developer. Anyone uncomfortable with this should stick to buying on release date.

    • dE says:

      You’re aware there is a whole world of options between between daily twitters and several months of complete radio silence, right? The reason people raged on him because he took the money and then took the dive. For months. Without warning.
      No one is forcing him to be a social butterfly. But it’s not exactly unreasonable to maybe post an update once a month. Even if it’s just “working on it, I’m not dead”.

      Heck, there might even be an option to automatically show the progress/amounts of commits on your codebase. So as you code, it changes. No need for any words. At all.

      • sanderman says:

        I admit that I probably used too much hyperbole in my earlier post. It is indeed possible to do updates once a week or once a month. That still takes effort though, and more than it seems from the outside. Every post requires content. It means determining what you want to communicate to your audience. What if you are doing a lot of improvements under the hood? Stuff like optimization, refactoring as preparation before other features. In those cases there are periods where you just don’t have anything interesting to say. Should you just say something like ‘nothing to show, but still working on it!’ every month or so? I would probably be a bit embarrassed posting messages like that and think nobody is interested anyway. (But apparently, people Are still interested) Before you know it, a full day is gone before you sent that message and you curse yourself because you could have done something useful instead.

        Maybe that bit was a bit incoherent. The last paragraph of my earlier post still stands though. If you buy into an alpha, you assume some risk and the willingness to wait for it to be completed. To think otherwise is foolish.

        • dE says:

          My second part also stands: If you can’t do words and can’t find a friend that does, set up an automatic system that shows progress is being made. No needs for words that way. Have the Webserver do that for you. Because taking money and disappearing pretty much looks like a grab and run kinda deal. And that’s even worse.

          But to turn your last paragraph on you:
          If you provide a game in alpha state and take money for it, you assume some need for communication. To think otherwise is foolish.

          • sanderman says:

            In summary: Developers need to communicate, at least a little bit. Audience needs to be patient.

  15. Beelzebud says:

    Crowdfunding: Where you can get sick of a game before its even finished! The joys of beta testing, where you pay the developer!

  16. ZedZed says:

    It’s his game, his company, he can do what he likes. BUT … I think it would make good business sense to remember your (potential) customers and keep them up to date with progress once in a while.

  17. Deadly Habit says:

    With how many devs that shoot themselves in the foot, promise too much without delivering, or just tweet more than it seems like they work on their games I find the way Wollay works to be refreshing. He’s always been like this like the article notes.
    Pops up to show off cool new stuff and updates, then disappears for awhile only to resurface when he has something actually worthwhile to post/show.

  18. daf says:

    The alpha will be available for a lower price than the beta version and the final version. We’re planning to release updates regularly. Updates are free.

    emphases is mine

    That’s the sentence on the cubeworld website, so I’m not surprised people were caught off guard when the developers spent months in complete silence with no word on what going on, I personally even pondered if the developer had died in the meantime as a “grab and run” seemed highly unlikely considering how popular the game was and the time he’d already invested in getting it to this state.

    So in my opinion the developer failed to provide their fans and costumers what a reasonable person would expect as “regular updates” from a game developer, it’s kinda sad considering the huge opportunity that seems to have been missed, the game exploded gaining Minecraft like popularity only for it to die off completely as can be seen trough google trends graph.

    I don’t know what the future will hold for cubeworld but I wonder if they’ll ever reach that level of popularity again specially as people will be wary of returning for an update only to be left in silence yet again.

    Definitely not an example to follow.

  19. DESTINY2378 says:

    I am really obsessed with the game even though it is only a closed alpha and it is really hard to get the game and I have been waiting for a very long time for a new update could come so it could work on almost every computer