Tricera-plops: The Stomping Land Removed From Sale

By Adam Smith on September 2nd, 2014 at 6:00 pm.

The last time we heard anything from multiplayer dino survival game The Stomping Land it wasn’t a stomp at all. It wasn’t a roar or a chomp, it was a statement about a change of engine. The dinos were gearing up for a switch to Unreal Engine 4, or so the developer reckoned, but it looks like the whole affair has come to a standstill. Like The War Z before it, The Stomping Land has been removed from sale on Steam. The page is still alive but there’s no option to buy and given the lack of updates, that seems like a wise decision. There has been no statement from either party (Steam or developer SuperCrit) and we can only hope that the game won’t emerge onto the store again in a few days, retitled as Dino: Survivor Stories or, Gabe forbid, The War D.

Our Graham wasn’t impressed when he tried the Early Access release and noted these words of warning on the Steam page: “If you wish to jump into a more finalized gameplay experience, it is recommended to not purchase the game until release”.

In the recent past, I was of the belief that Early Access was as dangerous as a pack of velociraptors (sidenote – a friend of mine had a Jurassic Park mug that said ‘Rap Attack!’ on the side and I thought it was something to do with hip hop for the longest time because it was always in a cupboard and the dino skeleton on the side could not be seen) but Divinity: Original Sin used the platform well and Invisible Inc. is already desirable.

Early Access itself isn’t the problem. Heading into any kind of commercial release (and Early Access involves cash purchases) before a game/team are ready and sustainable is a problem. Sometimes you find gold in Early Access just as anywhere else…but you might also find something else entirely.

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70 Comments »

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  1. Haborym says:

    So was this as big a scam as The Whore Z was?

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      Stellar Duck says:

      Really? Is that really what you want to call it?

      • Haborym says:

        *shrugs* That’s just the impression I am getting from this article is all.

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          Stellar Duck says:

          Wasn’t talking about the scam part of it.

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          Aerothorn says:

          I believe he was asking why you decided to substitute the “War” in the title with a slur for sex workers.

          • eggy toast says:

            I’m pretty sure its not a pejorative when used to refer to someone who exchanges sex for money, then it’s just an accurate descriptor.

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            eggy: it very much has a negative connotation. Compare to say: sex worker or prostitute.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Would you have preferred “The Prostitute Z”? It doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

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          Stellar Duck says:

          I’m wondering why a game considered a scam can be likened to prostitutes in the first place.

          Out of the many things you could say about WarZ, why that?

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            Jalan says:

            Just as well, what would that say about those who willingly gave them money in the first place? What about those who continued to do so (certainly there are loyal patrons no matter the circumstance), even after scandal(s) broke out?

          • Haborym says:

            Because it was a blatant cash grab? Because substituting words like that is amusing?

            Lighten up a little. It wasn’t meant to be taken that seriously and you’ll have more fun with life.

          • bstard says:

            Today: Beware Man with Beard.

          • Quiffle says:

            Neckbeard, you mean. Know and understand the difference.

      • chris1479 says:

        Ooh touched a nerve there

    • derbefrier says:

      I wonder if it was an intentional scam or just a couple guys that got in way over their heads and screwed things up royally. It gave all the impressions of a serious project. I almost bought it in early access I am glad i decided to wait.

      • Sian says:

        To me, The War Z looked like a hastily cobbled-together cash grab, especially with the fully functional in-game shop (on to of actually having to buy the game), while the rest of the game was riddled with bugs from what I could tell.

        So no, I don’t think it was a serious project. I think they just wanted to exploit the popularity that Day Z enjoys. Enjoyed? Is it still popular?

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      lurkalisk says:

      That actually does strike a nerve for me, but that’s just personal stuff and that’s not the confusing part, I’m used to that stuff. The confusing part is: what in the world could that possibly mean for The WarZ? I mean, if you’re gonna go substituting words, people will assume it’s supposed to say something in itself. I have no idea what that would be in this case.

      • Haborym says:

        It means the devs of WarZ are shameless money grubbers.

        • solidsquid says:

          Wouldn’t the be more con artists than whores though? At least the latter tends to provide you with the service they promised for the money. The War Zzzzz might have been better since it was apparently pretty dull, or The WareZ if you wanted to equate it’s ripping off of Day Z to piracy

  2. eggy toast says:

    Don’t forget that this game pulled in $114,060 on Kickstarter.

    • Joffy says:

      Dont forget that the kickstarter was back by RPS… lead to me backing it and wishing i hadnt :/

      • ResonanceCascade says:

        Don’t count on video games writers to make Kickstarter recommendations. If you’re backing a game, make sure it’s coming from an experienced team with realistic goals and a strong plan, no matter how cool it looks. And even then, be mentally prepared for the game to never ship. It happens.

        Kickstarters for a massively ambitious game like The Stomping Land that have a tiny team who have never shipped a product together are pretty much always a bad idea (although I did take a risk and back The Long Dark, which seems to be coming along nicely — but I’d have no one to blame but myself if it failed).

        • Crafter says:

          I also learned a hard truth : a team lead by Peter Molyneux can not be considered as experienced.
          Godus looks a lot like a student game, not something with an experienced game designer on board.

        • Joffy says:

          Yeah you are right, and i guess it really isnt RPS’s fault. I just dont really have the time to research a dev team, and apart from playing games i dont have that much interest in individual devs. I just would have liked someone whos getting paid to report on games to go into this for me. If the reporters are that good, surely they could of mentioned more about the devs?

      • Kempston Wiggler says:

        RPS have always always taken pains to point out that if they feature a game from Kickstarter it is NOT a personal recommendation from them to put your money into it.

        Sorry, Joffy, but you’ve only got yourself to blame if you’re suffering buyer’s remorse.

        • frightlever says:

          “RPS have always always taken pains to point out that if they feature a game from Kickstarter it is NOT a personal recommendation from them to put your money into it.”

          In the beginning that wasn’t even close to true. Early on Nathan, in particular, was fairly indiscriminate about urging people to back projects that excited him. I think they then took an executive decision to be less partial because there was a period when Kickstarter posts went out of their way to make it explicitly clear that their excitement wasn’t a recommendation. That’s probably what you’re remembering.

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            Stellar Duck says:

            While I didn’t personally mind, mostly because I wasn’t interested in the game I guess, I do remember him fawning over Republique. I seem to recall it being primarily an iPhone game as well. It was a bit weird all round.

            Whatever did happen to that game? Is it out?

          • Philomelle says:

            Episodes 1-2 are out on the App Store and are getting fairly decent reviews. The game is meant to be 5 episodes long, to my knowledge.

            The PC version has apparently just entered beta, no idea when the full version will be available. Checking their Kickstarter campaign, the PC backers are fuming because the game was meant to be released a good year ago.

      • Moraven says:

        So basically, totems represent stats and status. It’s definitely an interesting combination of setting, social functionality, and game mechanics. Color me interested.

        The Stomping Land is currently on Kickstarter, and it’s already stomped miles past its initial goal. It’s still got another week left before time runs out, though, so there’s still time to chip in if you’re feeling so inclined. And hey, it’s even for a good cause: a dinosaur game that actually, finally, mercifully looks pretty good. Be still, my freshly thawed caveman hear

        Only thing I could find on RPS close enough to a recommendation

        Excitement over the Kickstarter and you had just the same excitement as the article?

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          AlwaysRight says:

          You can’t just do that Moraven. You can’t just find the actual evidence and just display it word for word. You have to screengrab some twitter feeds, draw some red lines around some spurious data, make a web of conspiratorial links, save it as evidence.jpg and host it on Imgur. Then you have to moan about how RPS is forcing people to invest large quantities of money into a scam and how threfore that makes RPS and by extention everyone involved with gaming journalism a bunch of corrupt mercenaries.

          • Shuck says:

            “The Stomping Land.. chip in… it’s… pretty good.” – RPS

        • Gilead says:

          I don’t know, that bit you quoted does seem pretty positive. And other lines from that article include “Early graphics aside, it’s looking really impressive!” and “It’s definitely an interesting combination of setting, social functionality, and game mechanics. Color me interested”.

          I also can’t find anything negative or cautious in there aside from that bit about the graphics — the overall tone is that it seems like a really promising project that people should back if they like dinosaurs.

          (Fortunately for my bank balance at the time and my mood now, I can take them or leave them. Now, if it had been a game called “Monkey World: Battle Apes and Orangutan Sorcerers”, I would probably be a much poorer man.)

          • KevinLew says:

            As far as I can tell, RPS was just giving their opinion on what they saw so far. The product had an interesting premise and it had a successful Kickstarter, so odds were that it could have been a good game. In the end, the game turned out to be disappointing. The Stomping Land is certainly not the first game that had a massive hype train backing it and it failed to deliver.

          • Joffy says:

            I agree, it was pretty positive (from memory) and i read this site cause i dont have the time myself to play/research games. I dont have time to go through the mass of games out there and see what is good/bad or promising/not. And since these people do all that for me i trust them. If they believe a game is gonna be good, and this is coming from someone from much more experiance than me, then im inclined to belive it.

    • Shuck says:

      $114,060 doesn’t go very far with (at least) four developers and engine licensing. It’s a pretty ambitious game to try to make on those kinds of limited funds.

      • Artist says:

        Before you spit bull into public please review the licencing of the Unreal Engine. Else shut up.

        • frightlever says:

          “If you are using UDK internally within your business and the application created using UDK is not distributed to a third party (i.e., someone who is not your employee or subcontractor), you are required to pay Epic an annual license fee of US$2,500 per installed UDK developer seat per year.”

          Of course there may well be other licenses they’re using with less generous up-front terms.

          Anyway, why so angry? Shouting at someone because you think there wrong isn’t helpful. Explaining why you think they’re wrong actually provides some context for other people reading the comments.

          • solidsquid says:

            I don’t know if they updated it since you saw that, but it looks like they now ask for 5% royalties and $19/MO per seat

        • Shuck says:

          @Artist: Licensing fees for multiple engines, whatever middleware and other software they’re using may be the smallest part of their costs, but they’re costs nonetheless. The fact remains that besides those costs, they’re also – and this is the big financial drain – supporting 4+ developers with those funds. That money goes fast. In the industry that’s not even going to cover the yearly costs for one employee for a game company.
          Think before you write.

  3. zaphod42 says:

    I didn’t buy in to the war z, but this one looked promising so I gave them some kickstarter money. :(
    I’ve already been pretty savvy about who I back, but this project already had a basic engine and seemed promising. I’ll have to be that much more careful about who I back, which sucks for honest indie game developers.

    • Nenjin says:

      This one is pretty exceptional in the path it’s been through though.

      Released, had few updates, then a major engine refactor, then being pulled entirely from EA.

      That doesn’t reflect the majority of Kickstarters that end up in EA.

      I’d be interested to find out who initiated this change. Was it Steam responding to customer complaints, or did these guys decide they had to pull it down in good conscience?

      • Boothie says:

        Probably steam i think, if not then their conscience has a mighty slow burn, game released back in may i think and has received zero updates since and devs went dark a long time ago.

  4. rcguitarist says:

    When will people learn. Rarely do kickstarter or early access games ever become something complete and satisfying. Sure, there are some exceptions, but you can count those on just your hands. Unless it is a developer that is already well established, Bohemia for example, you have to be expecting this kind of result. No one here should be surprised.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      That’s not actually true, though. I’ve had nothing but good luck with Kickstarters I’ve backed, and so have plenty of others. It is definitely a gamble, no doubt about it, but it’s not throwing money down a hole.

    • malkav11 says:

      If anything, I’d say my track record with Kickstarter releases is better than conventional publisher-funded games, although that’s certainly personal taste to a degree. Not to say that there haven’t been Kickstarter failures anywhere on the spectrum from “ran out of money with nothing to show” to “came out and was shit”, and I’ve had a few on my backer history for sure, but as long as you’re reasonably cautious about where and how much money you investigate it’s a pretty solid bet as far as I’m concerned. You just need to accept that it -is- a bet of sorts, and it won’t pan out 100% of the time.

    • wu wei says:

      Maybe I’m just more critical about which projects I back, but I challenge your “exceptional” claim.

      Of the video games I’ve backed on KS, 8 have completed or are nearing completion, while 2 died on the vine with no further communication from the devs. While it sucks to fund something that doesn’t ever appear, I only usually go for lower teir funding, so the monetary loss isn’t that great. I’ve certainly blown more on publisher-backed titles that didn’t meet hype or expectations.

    • Caiman says:

      As others have pointed out, it’s up to you how wisely you invest in Kickstarter, Early Access, or even a finished game. I’ve backed 17 KS projects that met their funding, and of those only 2 have faltered (with major delays, but they’re still being developed). The remaining ones have either delivered or are on course to do so. There’s only one project that I regret backing (Starlight Inception) but they can’t all be winners.

      I looked at Stomping Land’s Kickstarter pitch and steered clear, it seemed too ambitious given the team size and the funds being requested, and the prototype just didn’t really look very interesting anyway.

    • frightlever says:

      “Rarely do kickstarter or early access games ever become something complete and satisfying.”

      I don’t use Kickstarter and I’ve no vested interest in it, but that’s just inaccurate. There have been a bunch of Kickstarted games released to critical acclaim, like FTL or Conquistadors. (Strike Suit Zero, Octodad, Organ Trail, Paper Sorceror….)

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    cpt_freakout says:

    Well, these guys are pretty bad at communication. It was a looooong while before they even started doing regular updates on KS, and when Early Access hit, the updates stopped. I think this project will keep going, as it has for a good while. We might not see anything finished soon, but I don’t think it’s a scam, at least not yet.

    Meanwhile, that other promising KS project called Confederate Express was, indeed, a huge scam.

    • Artist says:

      Actually “the guy”! Its mostly Alex alone. And yes, his concept of comunication is really weird. Theres indeed lots of big gaps of full radio silence in the past.
      Still I have no problem to still believe that TSL will resurface once Alex has done the transition to the new Unreal Engine.

  6. katinkabot says:

    The title of this article is ace. Also the picture. More on topic: like Kickstarter – Early access is such a crapshoot. So far I’ve been lucky – Divinity was great. Sunless Sea seems to be chugging along well and what’s there now is pretty ok. Honestly I just like the title of this article.

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    gnodab says:

    “Original Sin used the platform well and Invisible Inc. is already desirable.

    Early Access itself isn’t the problem. ”

    I implore you to reconsider!
    Having one or two gems emerging from a pile of dung, doesn’t make it a gold mine. Or rather gem mine, well…
    Divinity already had a very strong ant transparent kickstarter, which I gladly backed, and simply used early access as a means to bridge the time until the final release. So it hardly compares to the usual Early Access titles.
    And while kickstarter frequently gets bad press, I think the real thread to consumers, devs and gaming in general comes from Early Access and Steam opening all valves and refusing to curate or take responsibility (see refund policy) for the “products” it sells.
    Offering a game on Steam, oddly enough gives the consumer the impression that they are buying a game on Steam. After all if they are allowed into the marketplace, then Valve will make sure that the advertised product does in fact exist, right?
    Valves refusal to do so, combined with it’s no refund policy, would in all other branches of commodity trading be utterly inconceivable and in most countries criminal. So yeah, I think Early Access is very much the problem, or a the very least a big part of it and I find it baffling that the RPS I adore, seems to be ok with the state of things.

    Edited twice and i still fail at quoting in xhtml :(

    • Leb says:

      The buyer really just needs to do his/her research in he matter really.

      In my experience, most of the successful/early access games have been by previously successful developers – Klei entertainment, introversion, obsidian, etc.

      Other than that it’s really a gamble… with the odds being largely against the buyer

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        gnodab says:

        With Kickstarter I agree, but Steam is a store and should be held responsible as such.

        • derbefrier says:

          its a double edged sword though. We want the freedom for people to get on steam but we want valve to take responsibility when things dont go as planned. Valve is not going to assume our risk as customers for early access. Thats just bad business and is frankly too much to ask. Theres a reason they have big letters and words explaining the risk of early access purchases. I believe Valve does its part just fine and any refunds should be sought through the developer again its not fair to ask valve to be a safety net in case we as consumers get screwed by things completely out of their control. IF you want to argue that early access shouldn’t exist that’s fine but there is no middle ground here. its either all or nothing.

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            gnodab says:

            Given a binary choice I’d go for Early Access shouldn’t exist.
            But I think that is too easy on Steam. Imagine a supermarket having an isle where their selling videogames with a big indie or beta sticker on the packaging. If you find out at home that the box is empty or that the game doesn’t run you try to bring it back to the store. And now imagine the customer service clerk telling you, “nah, we don’t do refunds, you’ll have to get in touch with the developers. we are just selling the games”
            that is essentially what steam is doing. taking a nice chunk of the profits and then claiming they aren’t involved.

            For me it seems they saw a new market opening due to the success of kickstarter and wanted to jump in on it. good for them. they could use their market power to support indie games in an awesome fashion, but they chose the easiest and laziest route possible. essentially opening a flea market in the backyard and saying anything goes, just as long as we get a cut. i think that’s beneath valve.

            but let’s wait what comes of the australian lawsuit. maybe valve will start rethinking it’s policies.
            and after all there is always GOG (even though it looks horrible now).

  8. SkittleDiddler says:

    Welp, the writing was on the wall once the devs stopped communicating with the public outside of empty press releases.

    It’s too bad Valve won’t feel it necessary to offer automatic refunds in a case like this.

    • Geebs says:

      Remember, by clicking the ‘buy now’ link on an early access title, you’re agreeing that you are ‘excited to play the game in its current state’, or in other words, ‘no, you can’t have your money back’.

      • malkav11 says:

        That’s the easy solution – just buy games that you’re willing to have in their current state. Not that it’s not fair to expect updates and further support, but you’re explicitly buying a game that isn’t done yet and those don’t always make it that far.

  9. Blackcompany says:

    What I dont understand is all the noise about Steam being held accountable for the purchases consumers choose to make. At the point where it became apparent development was going nowhere, Valve even went so far as to pull the game (make it unavailable for purchase).

    How much more protection do you want from Valve/Steam?

    Should Valve form a ‘quality committee’ and require all games to meet their subjective requirements for value and quality or otherwise pull them? Do you want a single entity to decide for you what you can and cannot purchase? Once you start down that road where do you draw the line?

    Here’s an idea. Two actually:

    -First and most important: Be accountable. You made the decision to make the purchase. There are no shortage of warnings regarding Early Access titles (or any title developed under the Acronym EA for that matter). You were warned. Heartily and in plain language. If you nonetheless chose to front the money blame yourself.

    I went through this just yesterday. I want Dieselstormers to succeed and I went ahead with a purchase to support it. Its in no way ready to play and wont be for some time. Probably not this year. And I chose to spend my money to help move it along or keep it alive or just in case. No one made me do it; I chose to.

    So yeah…be Accountable.

    -Number 2: If you want some corporation deciding for you what you can buy and what hits their market or doesnt based on their own subjective criteria, you have that option. There are even two consoles to choose from. Have at.

    But please stop asking to have the same limits you desire placed on the rest of us, as well. Thanks.

    • aepervius says:

      It is not as easy and as clear cut as you put it. For one it is not a game you purchase, it is an early access to a game in development, for which there will almost certainly be no review. You MAY see that as a gamble, but many consumer protection agency take a different view on a product which is not effectively working, so much that it is retired from sale. In fact you have an example on that the same day on RPS with the australian consumer protection agency.

      Pre-purchase and EA are not the same as final product sale.

      There is further muddying that steam profit from publishing & selling what is essentially a broken product (remember, removed from sale, yada yada). If steam deem the product broken enough to be removed from sale, then it is definitively broken enough that refund request should be automated if requested.

      • Nenjin says:

        Except the game wasn’t broken. It just sucked and had no content beyond the EA release. That’s the difference. There’s a distinction between selling a shitty game that will never get any better, and selling a completely broken game that doesn’t even meet the requirement of launching.

        The latter, I agree with consumer advocates who say it should be refunded. The former, I think, is an overreach by people who both want Valve to be a content curator, except when they don’t.

    • OscarWilde1854 says:

      Was that a cleverly hidden punch in the ball-ward direction of Electronic Arts tucked in there? Well played sir, well played. I too take great care to add in as many EA slurs as possible; whenever possible!

  10. Crunchyblack says:

    Its not kickstarter, or steam EA that’s the problem.

    Its that developers are using steam as a means to fund the creation of their game. So if it doesn’t sell amazingly and doesn’t have continual purchases, the devs run out of money and this happens.

    The problem could be resolved by putting conditions on using steam EA. Like you need to have a playable game (most do even if buggy) but furthermore they need to work out specific landmarks they must reach while in ea.

    I see a lot of steam EA games where its basically the devs hail mary last ditch effort to stay alive…games like that rarely leave development stage and will stay for an eternity in a broken unfinished state…that’s what you need to keep off steam.

    Basically steam EA should only be used for games feature complete that just want some time to iron out issues….not as the sole means to fund a fledgling development.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Nah, people should just read the ample and incredibly specific warnings plastered all over the Early Access page and stop blaming everyone else for their complete lack of self control and common sense.

    • Moraven says:

      They had a working game that was seeing updates. Then a complete change to U4 and then nothing. A lot of this failings is devs without a lot experience and next to no business experience or project planning.

  11. OneManAndHisDroid says:

    …unfortunately I think we need a few more massive failures like this and WWZ before people like Valve have to start regulating this new industry more… I’ve joined several early access games – ranging from Next Car Game to Lichdom to Planetary Annihilation to Starforge (oops) to Snow (whoops) – mostly amazing but there are some turkeys out there, and until Valve start to protect consumers there will be thieving people like these taking advantage… currently Valve’s position is “we’re happy to take our cut, we’re happy for the shysters to operate alongside us and it’s entirely your fault if you sign up and get nothing, we’re not getting involved (we’re just taking your cash)..” this has to be changed… *he says hauling himself off his soapbox and falling back asleep on the sofa*

  12. bstard says:

    So what we learned today? LETS ALL PREORDER ANYTHING WHILE WE STILL CAN TO GET THAT FREE CRAP! (and hats)