All Aspects: The Derek Smart AAW Interview

Orange is the best of all armour types.

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

Join us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Derek Smart: Yeah, its dead, Jim.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plus I blame EA.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RPS: Thanks for your time.

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


  1. dsmart says:

    It is easy to discount deranged trouble makers when in actuality and reality, it is those same people who are utter tits to others in real life, in multiplayer games, in forums etc. So why expect those people – like you for instance – to be any different?

    It is no inconceivable that a thief is always going to be a thief and an opportunity. So hard is it to point out that people behaving like dicks, attacking others etc, are people who are used to doing that. This thread alone is a Litmus test of that.

    If someone behaves like a dick, they’re a dick. It doesn’t matter one bit who the target is. And it doesn’t matter if that target – or someone else – points out that you’re being a dick.

  2. Rabbitsoup says:

    urgh XP in first person skill based games that last any longer than per round is the devil, never ever let it rear its ugly head if you can help it on any project you work on.

    but i guess the target market is happy…

  3. LionsPhil says:

    ‘”Something that I can legally do btw since you would be violating the TOS.”
    Hehe this is going to go down well.’

    You lot really should try reading a EULA one of these days. Yes, I know, all that nasty legalise in your face when you’re trying to install Killfest Online 2010, tut tut. But they’ve been stating that you can lose your license to play the game if you get banhammered online for years. It’s taken until Steam to actually enforce that for offline play as well (IIRC), but you’ve theoretically agreed to such terms long before then.

    (AIUI, the legaity of some clauses like those in EULAs is questionable, and operates on the basis that it’s easier and cheaper for the publisher to try to enforce them with technology than lawyers, and likewise utterly impractical for the user to ever challenge it. IANAL. YMMV. Consult a professional if symptoms persist.)

  4. LionsPhil says:

    Oh good, the trolls have sent off the developer. Thanks a bunch, guys! For an encore, perhaps you could come round to my house and rip the preview sections out of my copies of PCG?

  5. Gunrun says:

    Yes but no developer in the history of ever has come out and said “WE WILL BAN YOU FROM PLAYING MULTIPLAYER IF YOU TK A FEW TIMES FOREVER”

  6. Nick says:

    To be fair, I didn’t find the manual at all helpful in trying to work out what the hell I was supposed to be doing in BC3kAD, which was a shame as it looked fun. I believe I managed to launch something and fly into a planets atmosphere then crash, go me.

  7. LionsPhil says:

    Hasn’t PunkBuster’s hardware-hashed GUID mechanism been used for cross-server banning for some time?

    Unless it’s specifically the “telling people” aspect you object to, in which case you should have equal qualms with Valve’s policy on cheaters, and their claimed infallability of VAC.

  8. hitnrun says:

    Nice interview. Derek is still a bridge selling bull—- artist with a penchant for wild overgeneralization, but there’s quite a bit of astute observation in his remarks.

    For example, the Steam comments. A lot of the “Steam roxxors” sentiments are written by people who just happen to be huge fans of Valve, which doesn’t mean much as an endorsement of Steam. When women and older people start flocking to the product, a la WoW and Wii, then you’ll know you’ve hit mainstream.

    I also agree with him in that the way to make MMOs is to learn from EVE, not WoW, because nobody’s going to buy your game if it reminds them of WoW unless you’ve spent (literally) a billion dollars on it.

  9. Archonsod says:

    I actually like his games. They’re complicated, rarely fulfil their potential and suffer from some amusing bugs, but it kinda adds to the charm.

    Though the BC3K manual (grey, with a picture of one of the fighters letting rip with a laser on the front) did kind of suck. To this day, I still haven’t figured out how to beam up an away team. Many the career of a captain was brought to an end stranded on some forgotten alien world, because the damn transporter only works one way and the shuttle pilot specialises in the kind of landings which become “public artworks” shortly afterwards.

    Whether he’s a dick or not is irrelevant, I’m paying for the games, not to spend the night with him.

    As far as Steam goes, the problem isn’t that it’s necessarily bad, but that it’s turning into a dinosaur. In the past year alone I’ve watched Gamer’s Gate and Impulse mature and change in response to user comment and feedback, to the point where they’re actually offering a better service than Steam (GG is now client free, Impulse can not only track patches, but driver updates) which I can’t remember having a significant change since they added the Steam community. Top marks to Valve for being able to play the actual business side of things well, but both Impulse and GG are currently higher on my preference list than Steam, and it’s purely down to quality of service.

  10. tikey says:

    I’ve always liked mr. Smart. His “outspokeness” is a blessed contrast to the measured press releases of most developers and publishers. And although I’m not part of his niche (I really like space sims, just not as much) AAW caught my interest and KnightBlade even more, as it’s probably is a idea most of us always had around while playing space sims.

    It was an interesting interview and even more interesting comment thread. I really like some of Smart’s observations.
    And that’s all there is to this comment, it’s not meant to add something to the debate just to give thanks to our RPS overlords and mr Smart for this interesting piece of internet writing.

    And besides. He has both Crusader games boxed. You just can’t argue with that.

  11. Rich_P says:

    You’re not a real PC game site/blog until you have 100+ comments about Mr. Smart and his games.

  12. Radiant says:

    @Theoban a lot of the commentators seemed to have been directed here from other places.
    Sort of like when the anti Valve/piracy/zombies bat sign goes up and the website goes apeshit.

  13. Radiant says:

    To tell you the truth I thought Derek Smart was a made up character.
    An intelligence barometer used by games bloggers to see:
    A) How many of their readers actually play the games that are talked about.
    B) Whether the readership is insane.

  14. Nimdok says:

    Radiant: He still could be, all things considered. I mean, have you ever SEEN a Derek Smart? All we know is press releases, interviews, and a name attached to game titles. All VERY easy to fake, and with an audience so intent on image and ego nobody would want to admit, one, that they’ve never heard of a Derek Smart, and two would never admit that everyone else could be making it up.

  15. Radiant says:

    Have you played any of his games?
    I haven’t no.
    Are they any good?

  16. Radiant says:

    If a tree falls on my wood.

  17. Dave says:

    The game itself looks very, very sparse. There just doesn’t seem to be much stuff in the screenshots and what is there looks a tad generic.

    And very, very flat. This game must take place on a planet without any geology.

  18. Kieron Gillen says:

    Right. Let’s get deleting, eh?


  19. Mike says:

    I saw we take off and nuke the page from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

  20. Gap Gen says:

    They mostly comment at night. Mostly.

  21. Kieron Gillen says:

    That’ll do.


  22. Zalgo says:

    Not going to disagree, I was trolling. When Dezza Smack is involved it’s inevitable.


    “I’m starting to wonder just how much of Mr. Smart’s reputation is the work of dedicated Angry Internet Men.”

    Some, but not all. Fact is that just about every ‘discussion’ in which he gets involved descends into this kind of silliness. You can search Google’s Usenet archives to find many more examples going back years. It has always been like this. Of course some of it is down to immature nincompoops like myself, can hardly deny that, but not all. The one consistent factor in all of this? Why that’d be one Mr Derek Smart.

    Blame it on trolls all you like (Dezza certainly does), but it’s his attitude that’s ultimately at fault. Other developers post on gaming forums all the time and they don’t have this kind of reputation, nor do their posts generally cause this much kerfuffle. And unlike Dezza many devs have actually made good games.

    RPS knew exactly what they were doing when they posted this article. Regardless of how interesting the game sounds – and honestly, global banning rubbish aside, it really does – they know a Smart interview gets this kind of attention. He’s a one-man hit machine.

  23. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    *glances up*


    Also, you’ve got to admit that it takes a lot of cojones to make a game that permabans for TK/griefing. It’s the sort of thing you’d love to do as a server admin but not something you’d see elsewhere.

  24. SwiftRanger says:

    Neat interview, I didn’t mind the outspokenness on some subjects at all, I’d agree with most of it even. As some have said already, it’s about time people started to put certain things in perspective (like Steam).

  25. PC Monster says:

    Absolutely. The Gamers Gate revelation, if it can be substantiated, is just what I’ve been waiting to hear. I’m fed up with Steam being touted as the second-coming when it’s plainly not.

  26. doc says:

    Good to see a game developer who talks to gamers- that is a rare thing IMO and something more should do.

    I haven’t played any of your games but they sound like something I might like (I was a big fan of the Elite series). I would be very keen to play that FPS set in the cruiser that you speak of too!

  27. Tordenskjold says:

    Your new game sounds interesting, might just have to check it out when it hits the virtual shelves.

  28. PC Monster says:

    “Good to see a game developer who talks to gamers- that is a rare thing IMO and something more should do.”

    Absolutely! Dialogue between Developer and Gamer/Customer should always be encouraged. That way we all get more of what we want. :)

  29. the affront says:

    Direct2Drive, non-preferential treatment? Wait, what? Do they actually sell more than 10% of their games to non-Americans now?

    (I knew you meant it differently, but couldn’t resist :P Also, semi-serious question. Has been a year or so at least since I had even a cursory look at Direct2Shite because they would never sell ANYTHING for our filthy third world € currency. Anyway, drifting off too much into semi-irrational hate-of-regional-publisher territory…)

    Sounds good about AAW, by the way. I just hope there’s some form of orbital bombardment in it, as nonsensically achieving objectives the hard (grunt) way in sci-fi when you could just nuke it from orbit and be sure is a pet peeve of mine.
    And someone really should father a space sim / rpg bastard child. Think Mass Effect (only better) with focus on actually piloting from the cockpit (as stupid as manual controls in a sci-fi setting are, gameplay comes first, I guess). HEAVAN [sic], I tell you. I also think people would actually buy something like that, although development costs could very well be prohibitive.

  30. Paul Moloney says:

    Another problem with Direct2Drive is that unofficial mods rarely work with games bought through it, which for me instantly puts it in the “don’t use” category.


  31. catska says:

    DSmart dropping massive truth bombs all over this bitch.

  32. dsmart says:

    OK, looks like the trollish stuff has been removed, back to sensible discussions now that I am in the middle of my first coffee for the day.


    And very, very flat. This game must take place on a planet without any geology.

    Its not entirely flat actually. Please don’t judge a 400 sq. km area by looking at the 20km area you see in shots and movies. Those areas were deliberately – and manually – flattened for the purposes of putting stuff (e.g. the bases, areas of interest etc) on the ground.

    The game – apart from having a variety of relief features, climate zones etc – is certainly not flat all over. There are mountain ridges, hills, tundras, valleys, rivers, beach heads etc. The world map shows various climate zones with various [particle based] weather patterns and such

    Those in the Beta, publishers, media etc know this because I even have cheat codes that allow you to warp to ANY part of the planet and to check it out without have to walk, drive or fly there.

    The first (Air Combat Certification Test) public BETA test will be out soon and you’ll be able to see for yourself first hand. Its actually ready, but we’re waiting for our dedicated ByteShield DRM server to go online so we can deploy the game. The reason being that most games get cracked when the demos, tests etc are released without DRM protection. Then the crackers just compare those builds to the final released version and get cracking. While I know for a fact that they can’t crack ByteShield – I’m not taking any chances.

    And the good thing about ByteShield is that once you register for the BETA, demo or whatever, your a/c remains active. So when you buy the full game, your info is already there. So you start the game, authenticate it using your previous username/password – and you’re off. You will NEVER know that ByteShield is even there. It doesn’t install ANY drivers, hide ANYTHING on your machine or do any of that stuff that most gamers (without reason) tend to bitch and moan about.

    I don’t mean to sound like a ByteShield shill, but as a tech aficionado, I like it. As a gamer, I have no complaints about using it. Some would [needlessly] balk at the online authentication, but it is a one time thing – unless you’re doing something totally un-cool. Plus Jan is one of the coolest guys you’re likely to meet anytime soon.

    @ SwiftRanger

    As some have said already, it’s about time people started to put certain things in perspective (like Steam).

    I’ve got two emails about this already, but your post pretty much sums it up. My comment about Steam was more of a wakeup call and putting things into persective than it being a slight. Not that I care how Valve feels about my comments either way – because they are my opinions.

    The fact is due to the vast number of Valve games – and consequentially the number of registered Steam users, people tend to forget the simple fact that the bulk of those numbers happened because of Valve’s games. Games which were inexplicably tied to their games. So given the Valve’s sales numbers for their games it stands to reason that they would have a large number of subscribers for Steam.

    This is not like DirecTV and Dish network playing show me yours and I’ll show you mine. Nobody is likely to have both satellite services.

    On the other hand, Steam is monopolistic within its own space. You want a Valve game, you need Steam. If I want to watch HBO, I can subscribe to either a cable or satellite network. I don’t need to subscribe to DirecTV to watch HBO. But I can’t buy any Valve game anywhere else. Even when I buy it at retail (e.g. The Orange Box), I still need a Steam account.

    So this whole “Valve is saving PC gaming” is just the usual fanboy nonsense – fueled by Valve’s marketing people.

    If you want to say an ESD company is saving PC gaming, well why not say Direct2Drive or Gamers Gate for that matter, is saving PC gaming? Both of them have a much – much – larger and more ecclectic offering of games. You’re not tied to ANY auth system, app to install/play your game etc. Even Gamers Gate no longer uses a client – which was necessary due to how their backend services work.

    I can bet my company that if we were to obtain the game to sales ratio for say, Direct2Drive and Steam, that the results would be shockingly surprising. Espeically when you take into account that Valve selling 6m copies of TOB via Steam, is not the same as D2D doing 6m unit sales across the board.

    Plus there are MANY other services, each with their own incumbated subscriber base. These are just a few from my bookmarks…

    Comcast Games-On-Demand
    GamesMania (Canada)
    MS Windows Marketplace Labs
    Phantom Game Store
    RCN interACTION
    Solid State Networks
    Verizon Games On Demand
    Yahoo! Games on Demand

    And new ones (e.g. Gamestreamer) are popping up every day. Also, I haven’t even taken into a/c all the White box OEM services which the cable operators (e.g. Verizon) through Exent (their backend, which is what GameTap also uses) use.

    Then lets not forget all the shopfronts that guys like myself, Cliffski and others have and some of which use Digital River (we use them), RegNow (also owned by DR) that sell decent number of games directly to customers all over the world.

    Those numbers eclipse any numbers that Valve can put up any day of the week.

    My commentary is factual because at some point in time, I’ve dealt with these companies. e.g. my games are currently on D2D, GG, DR, GameTap etc. So I know how each service performs.

    Sure, we don’t get the same sales numbers from each one (e.g. D2D, DR, GT and in that order), but that just solidifies what I said that gamers will use whatever service they like, is seamless and which suits their needs. If you want to buy a game and its not on Steam, what do you do? Try this experiment. Send an email to Jason Holtzma (or any one at Valve). Then send the same email to D2D, Gamers Gate or Metaboli. Then wait and see who responds to you first and then gauge their response.

    IMO the Valve guys are just being egotistical and arrogant. And that arrogance goes beyond marketing. Gamers – who aren’t in the frontlines – wouldn’t know this. But developers and industry people who have to deal with people like that at some point, do. Its not even the best kept secret. And as I type this, I can almost guarantee that there are developers and/or publishers reading this and nodding.
    Guys like Fredrik over at Paradox/Gamers Gate the various Direct2Drive teams (e.g Sutton Trout’s group, John Burns/Alex Ham/Dave Mealing and all the guys in that D2D support group) are top notch people. These are the guys you’d never – ever – hear about or even know existed. But they are the guys who – silently – make things happen.

    There are so many – many – other guys in various ESD companies who do an excellent job at pushing PC gaming that it is a total disservice and a slap in the face when Valve throws up un-substantiated numbers and everyone gets their jollies up and start shouting about Valve saving PC gaming. Thats just wrong and you shouldn’t buy into. It is rubbish.

    There I’ve said it.

    And they’re no different from the XBLA group over at Microsoft. A groups that (if most of them still have a job that is) that has seemingly losts its way – through IMO – bad planning, management and lack of direction. Thats why you see so much crap on XBLA and with the occasional gem (Braid etc). But fix it? Build a better porfolio? Hell no!! That would be too easy. Lets do what MS always does. Spend money on rubbish (e.g. NXE), ignore everything that devoted and incubated developers and publishers are clamouring about and just do what we want anyway. It is this same arrogance – rampant throughout Microsoft – that has seen them losing marketshare in practically every facet of their business.

    Some say that I am arrogant. Sure I am. But the fact is, my arrogance never gets in the way of common and/or business sense. And since it doesn’t take a committee of host of meetings to get something done, the arrogance stops with me. For more than twenty years, my business has grown year on year (the GameTap deal was one of the most lucrative in our history) – and I have never posted a loss. Ever. Since my business is based purely on selling games, not tech, it is quite obvious that the signal to noise ratio about Derek Smart is inconsequential to my business because at the end of the day, gamers just want to buy and play games. Everything else is just noise.

    @ PC Monster

    Absolutely. The Gamers Gate revelation, if it can be substantiated, is just what I’ve been waiting to hear. I’m fed up with Steam being touted as the second-coming when it’s plainly

    There is nothing to substantiate. It is a fact.

    Gamers Gate is just as good as D2D, Impulse etc. At the end of the day, you – the gamer – has to decide who you want to give your money to.

    It is no different from you buying a game at Best Buy or GameStop. At the end of the day, it is all about pricing, convenience and customer service. A matter of choice.

    Your new game sounds interesting, might just have to check it out when it hits the virtual shelves.

    It is not for everyone, but the BETA test and demo will be out soon enough. It will be extensive enough for everyone to get the full experience and be able to decide if they want to give me their money or not. And as with all my games, I sell enough copies, then of course we’ll just keep building on the games through patches, add-ons, features and of course the all but inevitable derivative works.

    For one thing – I can tell you straight up that if you are a flight jock, when you fly around and experience aerial combat in my game, you’ll see just how rubbish H.A.W.X – UBIs latest multi-zillion dollar game is. Another example of how the indie movement continues to deliver games to a select group of [forgotten] games because they don’t fall into the publishers’ demographic which requires a substantial marketing blitz to penetrate.

    Sounds good about AAW, by the way. I just hope there’s some form of orbital bombardment in it, as nonsensically achieving objectives the hard (grunt) way in sci-fi when you could just nuke it from orbit and be sure is a pet peeve of mine.

    There is no orbital bombardment because there is no space region in the game. The entire game is planetside. For orbital bombardment, you might want try one of our Universal Combat games. The original UC (2004) has been released for free. And if you like it enough, then you can get the Collectors Edition (2007) which is far more substantial in every regard.

  33. Mojava says:

    Derek, what’s your opinion on the new space oriented mmos coming out, namely, Jumpgate Evolution, Black Prophecy and Infinity, links for all three posted below. link to, link to and link to

  34. dsmart says:

    I am familiar with all of them. Since I haven’t played them, I really can’t give an opinion either way.

    I did however play the original Jumpgate for a bit. If the new version is like the old one, but with just update graphics, well then they have their work cut out for them.

    Jumpgate is so hardcore that I just don’t see how they are going to break out of that and cater to every one.

    Lets put it this way, Jumpgate and Eve are both very – very – hardcore, but each are at the end of the spectrum. Eve – IMO – offers a much better community and experience than the original Jumpgate.

    I have been following Black Prophecy closely and as a space comat junkie, am very much looking forward to it. It seems to have a good balance of pick up play and hardcore gaming.

    I don’t have much confidence that Infinity will make it to any meaningful commercial (or otherwise) release – at least not in the foreseeable future. I used to follow that closely as well.

    There is a big difference between building tech and building a game. You can’t have one without the other. All the tech in the world can’t overcome a crappy game.

    But at the end of the day, as I said in the interview, the only place space combat games are going to survive, is in the MMO space. There you can build up your numbers, cater to a select group and keep your game going for years while improving on it.

    Choice is always a good thing. So far, we have (in no particular order)..

    Jumpgate Evolution
    Black Prophecy
    Galactic Command Online (our 2010 MMO)

    At least two or more of those will either outright fail. However, since they are run by smaller companies and individuals, hopefully they get enough numbers to keep the servers going.

    e.g. Jumpgate being published by Codemasters is NOT a good thing. Anytime a publisher gets involved in games which are not mainstream, my warning flag goes up. And over the years, I’ve been right. They already went through this crap with two other publishers. So I have no idea why they chose to go round three with Codemasters. It is not going to end well. I can almost guarantee it. One can only hope that they retain all rights to their IP and as before, can take it over if things go South.

  35. Mojava says:

    Thank you for your reply.

  36. Heliocentric says:

    Been reading this pretty much the whole way though, I’ve opened up to gamers gate but much of their pricing is considerably worse than retail. Same with steam, D2D and impulse (these are the only ones I ever really consider aside from direct developer purchase) never actually used D2D, as when I browse the prices its never won out, but eh.

    Truth is though, steam gets my money more often than the other vendors because of awesome prices, I like the impulse-gog-gamers gate install and forget method better, but I’m not paying double or more when steam being installed on my pc is required anyway.

    Steam does have one redeeming feature, they seem to be often happy to piss off retail more than the others and genuinely be cheaper apart from token sales on old games and low profile indies.

    I know my thoughts on what price games “should” cost is coloured by the fall of value in GBP but even when the dollar was 2 to the pound a lot of the prices I seem on all of these portals are bullshit, and when you count that the pound is now worth $1,30 these prices are even more obscene when you consider that the retail prices have not exploded.

    So, steams sales are a time online wins. They may be arrogant but 90% of the time they are the only service I find discounts (compared to retail) on.

    What I read here really put me of AWW, (banning and restrictive classes) but your single player carrier game sounds like hotness to a homeworld junkie.

  37. EyeMessiah says:

    Dsmart: “…each time you die, you lose XP when you re-spawn…”

    I just sicked up a little bit in my mouth.

  38. Heliocentric says:

    Yeah… Yunno I didn’t like that either, but it almost seems stupid complaining about it. He has his fans, he knows what they want. Who are we but unserved customers anyway? Truth be told, I don’t like EXP=options in any game, I like it to be about the individual players skill what they can and cannot do. Battlefield heroes pissed me off for a while until I got over the hump, same with cod4… 2142 I never bothered getting over the hump. But at least getting over the hump i could never fall back down (friendly fire could reduce your points, but not death). So if I face a clan of pros, me and my friends who are new might die 50 times more but every kill or captured flag we get is a tiny step towards a level playing friend in terms of options. But falling back when you are outclassed? Blah!

  39. gulag says:

    “the GameLobby has a bunch of unique features including friends list, invites, private messaging and such. As well as the ability to chat with a friend who is currently either in the lobby or on a game server, and vice versa”

    Why has no-one thought of this before?! That there folks is pure gold. Unique features, private messaging, friends lists. By all that is good and holy, a list, with your friends on it! Gadzooks!

    I’m not knocking his games, I haven’t played them, but does he even listen to himself when he talks?

  40. dsmart says:

    Gamers are notorious for complaining about every darn thing. Most of the time, they really have NO clue what they’re complaining about. That is the primary reason why we as developers and gamers always walk the fine line between ignoring pointless griping and flatout ignoring everything.

    Most gamers just think that we who develop games, either aren’t gamers ourselves or we just don’t care. Truth is, more often than not decisions about what goes into a game and whether it stays or not, is not down to one person. There is usually a development consensus and more often than not – surprising to some – the consensus that wins the argument is not usually what the gamer would like.

    For e.g. the idea to reduce XP when you die, wasn’t based on concensess. It was a design decision that I made in order to – primarily – curb XP and achievement junkies from ruining the game; while ensuring that n00bs can have a fair go at it regardless of when they jumped into the game.

    Sure you will find that even n00bs dying a lot will be carrying negative XP for sometime, but by the same token, those with higher XP on the server were once n00bs themselves.

    Then there are ranks. Ranks are gained by XP. So when your XP drops, eventually you will drop in rank.

    Then there are violation flags. These are gained by doing things that either violate the TOS or are a result of deliberate griefing or wanton Friendly Fire. Get enough violations and your XP will drop. Subsequently your rank. Before you know it, you’re back to negative XP – n00b or not.

    Game balancing is not an exact science. Large and better funded companies EA/Dics for e.g. can’t get a grip on it. So who are we to think that we can? Fact is, we can’t. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to leave everything as the Status Quo and have others ruin our game.

    As things progress – as with all my games – we will identify areas where we can improve upon and tweak the experience. My gamer have never had to sit around forever waiting for patches and such. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, my support of my games is one of the most important things that gamers, publishers and the media alike know about me and can attest to. I support my games. And AAW will be no different.

    I have invested a lot of money in the community based aspects of this game and I didn’t do that so that I can watch all that go to waste. We have forums and we also have the GameLobby client which is unified chat interface.

    I don’t have money to waste, so if I spend it one something, it means that I have to see it through and make sure that my money is working for me.

    Most of you guys posting these concerns tell me that it is important enough and worth considering. Trust me, I am not oblivious to these issues brought up. But thats where team spirit comes in. You see a way for us to improve the experience, we’ll consider it and act on it. Thats the way we’ve always done it and nothing is going to change just because we are entering [un-familiar] fps territory where the stakes are much much higher.

    So, help us help you and we’ll all benefit from it.

  41. dsmart says:

    @ heliocentric

    oh, btw, I forgot to mention that the XP reducing when you die may be removed before the game is released if it proves to be inbalanced.

    @ gulag

    Why has no-one thought of this before?! That there folks is pure gold. Unique features, private messaging, friends lists. By all that is good and holy, a list, with your friends on it! Gadzooks!

    Thats right, sarcasm is always a good way to show just how smart (or not) you are.

    If you actually took the time to read and take into context what was written, it would be painfully obvious (in your case, maybe not), that we’re talking about our game. I don’t care what anyone else has done before.

    Plus, we have unique features that nobody has done before. Again, you didn’t bother to read that. You just want to twist it around and just continue your attacks (since your previously deleted posts weren’t enough) in some other [un-productive] way.

    e.g. despite the fact that many games have in game server browsers, I can name out a list (most are triple A games) of those that seemingly botched it and which gamers and media alike bitched about. So you might as well complain “how can they botch this simple thing that everyone else has done before”. But no, lets engage in meaningless attacks instead.

    And there is a big difference between a run-of-the-mill server browser and a community based frontend. There are hundreds of PC games. I can name only a few – and probably one hand – that has anything other than the bare minimum server browser.

    So yeah, guys like XFire and such are just wasting their time because we as developers have it all under control and we can’t do any better so we might as well not do our thing and tout it in the process.

  42. the affront says:

    dsmart: I didn’t mean that the player himself has to be the one bombarding stuff from orbit, just that the scenario/story writing is cognizant of the fact that it exists and could feasibly be used to just wipe a landscape clean when there is no plausible reason to conduct a traditional air/sea/ground-borne assault. It’s just that I have seen these kinds of implausible inconsistencies in fictional technological progress too often.

    Also, about the XP-loss: Have you thought about it influencing the playstyle of those “XP and achievement junkies” in such a way as to make them play entirely defensively to minimise losses, promote risk-less, uneven, camping-favouring (given that it is viable at all) and thus ultimately un-fun play (for their opponents)?
    I hope you did, because this is what I predict it will do.

    But then, personally I like being able to charge a bunch of people and go out in a blaze of glory while taking a few with me instead of obsessing over how much I will lose doing it – maybe you’re different, I don’t know enough about AAW to estimate :P

  43. gulag says:

    For the record, I read the entire interview, and understood it. Also, my previous post was my first post in this particular thread, so you might be thinking of someone else. (No, I have no aliases here, and I’ve been reading the site for a while.) Still, I’m suprised and delighted that you took the time to reply.

    You list ‘friends lists, private messaging and invites’ as ‘unique’ features. None of them are, that’s just a fact. I went back to check if you had listed any other features as unique in that context, and you hadn’t.

    In much the same way as you appear to carry a certain amount of disdain for certain other publishers/developers etc., I can’t help but call bull when I see a developer listing off mundane, back of the box, features as ‘unique’. That’s my only sticking point with regard to the above interview.

    I’m sure the rest of your game is lovely, and will appeal to it’s fanbase. It certainly sounds interesting. Best of luck.

    Sure, I used sarcasm. It’s the internet, we have that here.

  44. PC Monster says:

    “There is nothing to substantiate. It is a fact.”

    It’s not fact for me until I see the proof, however well-informed your opinion undoubtedly is. I need proof before I buy into it, basically. Figures. Metrics. That’s not to doubt you personally, I’d just much rather make that determination for myself than simply go by what I’m being told. I don’t mean to be insulting by saying that – you are probably (hopefully!) 100% right but until I see and understand how you’ve arrived at that fact… :)

    Also, I don’t have much experience with digital download retail sites. I’ve bought one or two from Steam, one or two from GOG and that’s about it – oh, I also bought the two GalCiv 2 expansion packs from Stardock but generally I’m a bit of a luddite for a good box-and-manual that I can take to bed and cuddle.

  45. dsmart says:

    @ theaffront

    I didn’t mean that the player himself has to be the one bombarding stuff from orbit, just that the scenario/story writing is cognizant of the fact that it exists and could feasibly be used to just wipe a landscape clean when there is no plausible reason to conduct a traditional air/sea/ground-borne assault. It’s just that I have seen these kinds of implausible inconsistencies in fictional technological progress too often.

    Ah ok, I misunderstood you. Well, if you read the game’s premise, then you know that in the single player story mode, there is that RANDOM weapon ticking somewhere on the planet. That was an OTS (Orbit To Surface for those who haven’t played our previous games) weapon that didn’t detonate when it touched the ground. So yeah, if you don’t find – and diffuse it – things (the entire planet that is) will go boom! :)

    Also, about the XP-loss: Have you thought about it influencing the playstyle of those “XP and achievement junkies” in such a way as to make them play entirely defensively to minimise losses, promote risk-less, uneven, camping-favouring (given that it is viable at all) and thus ultimately un-fun play (for their opponents)?
    I hope you did, because this is what I predict it will do.

    Yes, that was the whole idea behind it.

    There is however no way to prevent camping – especially in multiplayer. But what I did have in mind to do, was to start reducing a player’s health and/or XP if they remain in one spot – motionless – for too long. But then, my thought was that it then penalizes snipers – an integral class in the game.

    If you have any suggestions or anecdotes which have been proven to work, I’m be glad to hear and consider them.

    But then, personally I like being able to charge a bunch of people and go out in a blaze of glory while taking a few with me instead of obsessing over how much I will lose doing it – maybe you’re different, I don’t know enough about AAW to estimate :P

    oh, trust me, you’ll be able to do that. Just prime a grenade and rush the mob. If you don’t drop it, it will just go off in your hand. The [spherical] explosion proximity based damage system and the shrapnel are sure to take out a good chunk of people. Guaranteed. I’ve tried it with my NPCs. It is a blast. :)

    Or, given how the physics system works, if you have a rocket launcher or a mine, you can do nifty things like blowing up a building, vehicle, etc and watch it fly up in the air and land on someone’s head – killing them instantly.

    Anyway, the test will be out later this week or early next week. THEN we’ll be having a conversation worth talking about how the final game is fashioned.

  46. dsmart says:

    @ gulag

    This will be my last post to you because it clear that you’re not in this to have a normal constructive conversation.

    There are features in it that you don’t know about and which are not mentioned in the interview. Plus, I already clearly stated that I don’t care about what has come before, fact it VERY FEW PC games have anything that closely resembles it. If you’re going to company XB360 to a stand-alone PC app, be my guest. Your posts already indicate thats the sort of thing that you’d do and then try to justify it with the usual nonsense – none of which is ground in reality or fact.

  47. dsmart says:

    @ PC Monster

    This is what you said

    Absolutely. The Gamers Gate revelation, if it can be substantiated, is just what I’ve been waiting to hear. I’m fed up with Steam being touted as the second-coming when it’s plainly not.

    I responded based on it. That being it is a substantiated fact that Gamers Gate is a viable and worthy ESD platform.

    Now you’re saying that you were talking about metrics? Well you don’t need metrics to prove that. The fact that they are in business and very popular is all the metrics you need.

    For one thing, they are bigger – much bigger – than GoG.

    So how is it that the fledgling GoG (a relatively new company) metrics have more weight to you than a popular service that has been around for much much longer? I don’t get that. Why? Because it makes no sense to me.

    Again, my point remains. If you’ve bought from GoG, Steam, Stardock, nothing should stop you from buying from GG if they have a game you can’t get elsewhere.

  48. ron says:

    a course in usability would go a long way towards making derek’s games more successful.

  49. dsmart says:

    @ Ron

    Indeed. But I think we’ve done a good job with that this time around. We’ll just have to wait and see just how good a job it was. *G*