Towns Called Malice: Development Of City Builder Ends

This Towns (Profits) Ain't Big Enough For The (Development) Of Us

When Adam played Towns in 2011, he saw potential in the city building game’s mixture of Majesty and Dwarf Fortress. Years later, it seems that potential might go forever unfulfilled. In a post on the official forum, the current lone developer has announced that he’s ceasing work immediately due to falling sales.

The game’s original creators, Xavi Canal and Ben Palgi, stopped work on the game earlier this year. They handed the reigns over to Florian “moebius” Frankenberger, who released his first update to the game at the beginning of last month. In his post on the forum, Frankenberger said he took over development of the game for 15% of the game’s profits “after removing all the taxes and the Steam fee.”

He goes on to explain that after releasing that version of the game last month, “we talked about the agreed payment and it turns out that the sells are getting down rapidly. So we are now selling less than a third of the x copies a month, loosing about 33% of sells per month. To be completely honest, I can’t work for that little amount. I have to pay for the rent and food and this doesn’t really suffice for any of it.”

That’s an understandable situation and as a contractor Frankenberger has to do what puts food on his table. It’s bad news for the game’s community though, who had hoped the last update was a sign of things to come.

It’s worth noting that Towns isn’t an alpha or an Early Access game. Development began by offering a freely available trial, which is what Adam played way back when, before switching to a Minecraft-like payment model in which pre-ordering gained you instant access even as development continued. When the game was added to Steam in late 2012, the Early Access category didn’t yet exist and so it was offered as a fully-released and finished game. In that situation, if bought through Steam at least there wasn’t necessarily the promise or suggestion of ongoing development, even if negative reviews and forum comments suggest the game is either unfinished or simply a mess.

Which is cold comfort if you’ve bought the game, you think it’s rubbish and now it’ll never be fixed. I’ve reached out to one of the game’s original developers for comment, to see if we can find out more about the game’s future.


  1. Fenrakk101 says:

    It’s a bit galling to me that the devs wouldn’t just pay him more. Surely it would be better for them to offer the guy doing all the work 45% of the money, to try to reverse the downward trend of sales? I doubt they’re going to receive much praise for releasing a sequel instead, either.

    • zbeeblebrox says:

      There’s no “more” for them to pay. He agreed to a percentage of the sales. He’s not an employee away that point

  2. Belsameth says:

    Luckily they only sold some 200k units…
    On top of that, while his reasoning to leave is sound, to then say they started talking about Towns 2 while, from the day it was released on Steam, it was clear the original devs didn’t even have the energy to properly finish the first.

    Highly insulting.

    • trjp says:

      You realise 200k sales is a MASSIVE amount for an indie game?

      I’m assuming that includes (mostly) bundle sales – if that were ‘full price’ sales then I’d be wondering what they were doing with all the monies…

      • Belsameth says:

        The only was sarcastic. I shoud’ve put it between quotes because, yes, it is a massive amount.

      • bills6693 says:

        Was it even in any bundles?

        But really the massive problem was that it was sold as an alpha product on their site, no indication it was nearing completion. Then it got greenlit and suddenly, from going to still a fairly early alpha, they released it as ‘finished’ and then didn’t really do much to update the game.

        Thats the real problem in my eyes – it was in alpha and suddenly they decided they’d announce it as ‘finished’ even though they knew it wasn’t even feature-complete because it’d get them a ton of steam sales for a few weeks.

  3. Uglycat says:

    Towns is the only regret-purchase I have on Steam.

    • Harlander says:

      Mine’s that stupid team FPS with dinosaurs. Orion: Dino Subtitle?

      And Dark Souls, but for different reasons.

      • Mordaedil says:

        I would recommend you give Dark Souls another try.

        Don’t give up. It is a game where the reward is that you actually get better at the game and you can make progress.

    • zachinglis says:

      You have regret?

      I bought it, managed to convince Steam to return my money (no easy feat as you well know) because it was unfinished and unplayable as a game.

      Then I bought it again once I saw development had gone on quite a bit.

      I should have kept to my gut :(

  4. Hawkseraph says:

    Whoa, what happened there? Why did the original devs “stop” developing their game? And giving 15% to the person who was i neffect going to finish the game seems pretty low to me. The forums speak a lot about drama, so there seems to be some history there.

    I feel for everyone who bought the game.

    • trjp says:

      Just a small point but developers are not obliged to work on a game forever – players need to realise that they buy a game and that may be the only game they ever get.

      Even if it’s Early Access (which this never was) – even if it’s marked Alpha or Beta – when you hand-over money you get the game you get – anything else after that is a bonus, not an entitlement.

      It’s the usual message people never seem to get

      “Play the game you’re given – not the game that’s in your head, then you’ll be less angry all the damned time!!” :)

      • Artist says:

        Still the devs just switched the numbering from beta to final while the game was not really finished or polished. Dont get me wrong, fine for its price but still lots of potential wasted.

      • Shuck says:

        “Play the game you’re given”
        Absolutely. People need to evaluate what’s on offer, not what they think it’ll become at some point, because even if development continues, it’s unlikely to become whatever ideal vision you have in your head.
        Early Access seems like a bad idea in general. It appeals to players who feel like they have some input on the direction a game takes in development. It’s appealing to developers who need that cash infusion to finish the game, but they risk seriously screwing themselves that way while disappointing players. First of all, the initial impression will be based on an unfinished game, lowering sales and making it less likely it’ll be finished. Under traditional development and publishing models, most games that start production are canceled and many published games fail to recover development costs – all that is now happening after games are being commercially released in alpha stages. To make matters worse, games are being released in early enough stages that under normal circumstances they might make dramatic changes in direction – but having already put it up for sale, people are buying it in part based on what’s there, so developers have to stick with what they’ve already done, even if it doesn’t really work creatively or they’ve lost interest in that previous direction.
        So you end up with devs who have – at best – put themselves in awkward positions and angry players (even if the game somehow does manage to be completed). Players angry enough that they might torpedo any further indie game efforts by the developers, even if the devs were only doing what needed to be done under the circumstances.
        I feel like Valve introduced the Early Access program as part of a larger effort to be in on the development of the next Minecraft. The problem is, most games are not, and will never be, Minecraft. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Early Access get shut down entirely at some point after a certain number of spectacular failures.

        • Chuckleluck says:

          My thoughts exactly. Minecraft was one in a million. I don’t blame Frankenberger, he had to make livable wages. I blame the original developers for abandoning the game. I’ve only bought 2 Early Access games (one being Minecraft) and I don’t plan on buying any more. Next to no one imagines the potential downsides of buying a game-in-development.

      • Recurve says:

        That’s all well and good but it also depends on what you were promised. From what I’ve read so far it seems there were things the dev promised that weren’t then followed up on. If that’s the case I’d say you were absolutely entitled to a little pissed off that you didn’t get what you were promised you would get, especially when the dev immediately announces they’ll be working on a sequel instead.

      • LintMan says:

        IIRC, at the time Towns went “final” on Steam, it had a fair bit of misrepresentation about what was already in the game – features listed that didn’t actually exist, fake screenshots, etc. There was a big kerfuffle about it on Steam: people demanding refunds, the dev apologizing and saying it was “still under development”, etc. I even think RPS wrote about it at the time.

        “Play the game you’re given” isn’t bad advice, but it precludes most participation in “early access” type programs: By their nature you are buying those on promises, and if you say purchasers have no right to complain if those promises are not kept, then that whole business model will fail.

        Blaming the consumer is not the way to go, here. Especially when the original devs stopped development before delivering on their promises, because they were “burned out”.

        • Ditocoaf says:

          Yeah. Dishonesty is dishonesty. In a case like this, “play the game you’re given” is essentially just telling people to not take developers at their word. Which is good advice sometimes, unfortunately, but it doesn’t exonerate the people who failed to live up to their promises.

      • Mordaedil says:

        While normally sound advice, I was horribly misled by the feature listing of Towns because it decided to present itself as a Dwarf Fortress like game, but actually playing it turned out to be instrumental torture and it was heavily lacking in content.

        And it had competition, Gnomoria basically does exactly what Towns promised to set out with and it does it better.

      • Yammo says:

        Your comment was, I think, the worst tripe I’ve ever read on RPS…

        Towns has become legendary in how badly its developers handled it…
        Towns is the “shining beacon”(sarcasm) for why one should NEVER pay for “early access”

        The devs of Towns knew they had a dead product, so they made a last-ditch-effort to put it on Steam, then just F*ed off with the money. I don’t even think they had a single shred of intent to continue the _EARLY ACCESS_ for their _ALPHA_…

        The ONLY good thing about Towns, is that it has tought me to NEVER jump on an early access or pre-purchase ever again… The worst thing is, selfish and crap developers like those of Towns, soil the reputation of Steam. And once Steam has been stained enough, bringing sales down, I can probably kiss my entire Steam-library goodbye.

        So, Towns deserve every blast of flack from every single disappointed customer… Anyone dumb enough to step into the line of fire, is either just a Towns-dev crying via a fake-account or a complete imbecile.

  5. lowprices says:

    While I feel for Frankenberger, I think pitching Towns 2 at the same time as announcing that you’ll be leaving Towns an unfinished mess wasn’t the best idea…

    • trjp says:

      Understatement of the year…

      Here’s a better idea that it took me – oooh – about 10 seconds to come up with

      We’ve reached the point where the money we’ve earned from Towns has run-out and so we have to do something like

      1 – we crowdfund an ‘expansion’ for the game – that will give us money short-term to continue working
      2 – we crowdfund the sequel whilst still working on the original – again, money short-term

      The whole situation isn’t really bad development or bad business – it’s bad COMMUNICATION. They never made it clear exactly what people were getting, what was happening etc. etc.

      Then – when the bad news had to come out – it looks WAY worse

      • Heavenfall says:

        2) would be a huge red flag to any purchaser, and it would probably get banned from crowdfunding sites if they did that

      • Shuck says:

        The problem is that short-term money causes long-term problems, even assuming you can get the extra money (which seems unlikely if you’ve significantly alienated your existing players). Now you have two groups that are pissed at you – the people who bought the original game (who are only slightly mollified by any further development) and whoever funded the expansion/sequel which now falls financially short. The problem with Early Access is that it’s about a short-term gain that causes problems down the road. Once those longer term problems rear their heads, there’s no real good solution.

      • Jools says:

        Dwarf Fortress clones like Towns, Gnomoria, Prison Architect, etc. seem to be incredibly difficult to pull off as commercial projects. Part of what makes Dwarf Fortress so appealing is the unbelievable amount of depth and complexity that comes from near endless development, but it’s effectively impossible to scope a project when your end goal is “everything and the kitchen sink too.” Towns never seemed to have a super clear end goal so it was inevitable that the game would still be unfinished once development ceased.

        Announcing a sequel to your unfinished game is certainly in bad taste, though.

        • MaXimillion says:

          The PA alpha had made $8 million six months ago, so I would say they’re doing alright.

        • Sam says:

          I think lumping in Prison Architect as a Dwarf Fortress clone is inaccurate. It’s much more of a traditional management game. Make the graphics pixely, add some references to llamas and Prison Architect would be comfortably at home among the building/management games of the 90s.

          But I agree with your analysis of the problems of trying to recreate Dwarf Fortress’s qualities. There is a good reason that DF has taken so long to make and is still so far from completion. Trying to imitate the “simulate everything!” approach ends with most games burning out long before they’ve got past the fairly basic town building phase, so the imitation games never become anything that I would consider interesting.

          • Yglorba says:

            Not to mention — what a lot of people don’t realize is that Dwarf Fortress was actually in development for four years even before its first public release.

            Part of the reason it’s been able to stay in the public eye despite its very slow development is because it had such a broad base to start with, which was only possible because its developer was willing to put so much time and effort into it (as a labor of love) before even making it public.

  6. BurningPet says:

    Even if the existence of this post and the likes are a realization of a nightmare for me, i can still appreciate that alt text..

    • Smashbox says:

      I’ll be sad to see it go. Are you working on something else?

      • BurningPet says:

        Oh my. i am really scared to say yes… but its not a secret so what the hell. i work on dwelvers since the initial cessation announcement (circa decemeber 2013).

        To make things clear, what i do on Dwelvers is what i did on Towns. Art and some design. so please, reasonable and favourite’o’mine RPS hive mind, dont blame this on Dwelvers lead dev.

        • HKEY_LOVECRAFT says:

          Dwelvers is really coming together. It’s already more enjoyable than War for the Underworld to me, and Rasmus has not only been very communicative but also quite generous with copies of the game to those of us that ordered in the early days. Can’t wait to play the finished product!

          (Also, the artwork is exceptional. You should be proud!)

    • Dark Malady says:

      As somebody who loved Towns and frequented the Forums…
      Boy what a Mess. there was a hopeful time, a sad time, an Angry time, and a time of moving on. through all of that, I remember reading and appreciating your Posts, BurningPet.
      Thanks for trying to be the good guy in a hard place, you never lost your dignity back there.

      also, you’re still listed as a developer on the steam page and Florian isn’t… I hate that steam page. It was the beginning of the end to me. when I started to feel like something really wasn’t right.

      anyway, good luck with Delvers, it looks amazing, but I’m waiting a bit, I’m a little burnt out on unfinished games.

    • hemmingjay says:


      Anyone who knows anything about the Towns saga knows that you are a great person with the best of intentions. Whenever Towns needed new art you were there, so no blame should ever fall on your shoulders, if blame must fall at all.

      As you know I was an early and frequent supporter of Towns in many forms even though I didn’t care for it’s direction. Now, as then, I commend the bravery to undertake a project of that scale by a small team. Gamers typically lack scope and scale and yet seem to have judgement to spare. I will continue to support any project you work on and while I often disagree with SMPs decisions, I will support him as well.


  7. Myrdinn says:

    That’s why you don’t pre-purchase games from companies/people with no solid record.

    • The Random One says:

      That’s why you don’t pre-purchase. Just don’t.

      • zachinglis says:

        I never learn!

      • Hmm-Hmm. says:

        Unless what they already have on offer is good enough for you even if the devs stop developing the day after. Like, say, Minecraft (in my case).

  8. SaVi says:

    The original devs stopped working on it even if it wasn’t complete? That’s definitely worth suing! Everyone who purchased it should sue their money back.

    • Belsameth says:

      Rumour has it that Xavi was burned out on Towns even before putting it on Steam, then did so anyway…
      The rest, as they say, is history. A really smelly piece of brown history.

    • Shadow says:

      There’s not much to sue for. As far as I know, Towns was never in “Early Access mode”. And even if it were, whether a game is “finished” or not is ultimately an arbitrary decision by the developer. Even if it were openly in beta, one day they can simply change the version number to 1.0 through a small update and call it a day.

      What can you do? Not much, really. Especially when they never disclosed a clear development plan they failed to come through with. Cloudy business.

      And in the end, really, would you really go through the legal troubles of suing some chaps over a 10-15 dollar game? Sure, they screwed up, but that’s just plain greedy. If it doesn’t backfire and end up costing you a significant sum in lawyer fees, that is. All over a pretty small initial expense.

  9. bl4ckrider says:

    I think people will now start to realise that buying into these promises of Kickstart, Alpha, Beta, Green Light, Early Access or whatever they call it, is a gamble and a tease.

    • Philomelle says:

      I think I learned that lesson from Strike Suit Zero, which somehow managed to ship out buggy and unfinished twice, with developers choosing to charge old customers for the new version because they “polled some hardcore fans with 50+ hours into the game on the Steam forums”.

    • JohnnyPanzer says:

      I would rather see that people start to understand that it is what it is: buying an unfinished product one is interested in following the development of, with no guarantee of input or even a finished product.

      In this particular instance it might have been a tease, given how the game suddenly became “finished” when it was launched on steam, even though it was the same version that was sold as an early alpha hours earlier. But I will never get how a proper Early Access can be considered a tease. I buy almost exclusively Early Access these days, and I have yet to feel fooled, teased or tricked on a single occation.

      The way is Early Access works is crystal clear and all the information is available in a huge blue box right there on the store page. I buy them, not to have a say in the games development, but to get a behind the scenes look while the game is being developed. The only time I buy an Early Access game I’m not convinced I’ll like even in it’s current state is when I consider the concept interesting enough to want a look at the development process. Space Engineers is such a game. I knew I wouldn’t be able to have fun with it just yet, but I bought it anyway and I follow it’s develoment closely. If it’s cancelled I will still have gotten exactly what I payed for.

      On the other hand, Kerbal Space Program and Prison Architects have more hours logged this year than all my other steam games combined for the last five years and even if both games were canceled today I consider a grand total of 30 euro for a few thousand hours of the best gaming I’ve ever experienced to be more than fair.

      Early Access as it stands now is fine in my book. Valve are weeding out the worst offenders, the people who are merely gaming the system, even if it takes them a while. Those offenders have so far also been extremely easy to spot with nothing more than a bare minimum of research. I myself found the concept of Earth 2066 interesting and it only took me 15 seconds of google research to find out that every single person who bought it was screaming “SCAM!” at the top of their lungs. Anyone who buys a game, Early Access or not, without spending at least 15 seconds looking it up before hitting the buy button should know better, and such idocy can’t be blamed on the business model. It should be blamed on the scam artists and the people who hand them their money with absolutely zero research.

      • Ich Will says:

        One point, you are absolutely promised a finished product. Early access is not kickstarter and according to the contract you sign with steam, you are absolutely responsible for delivering a product of retail quality at the end of development.

        Of course we all know Valve will never recover money for it’s customers while they weed out these bad eggs, who range from outright con-men to dreamers and those who think making a game is an easy life.

        But you are correct in general, anyone who buys an unfinished game should not complain that they only have unfinished games to play.

        • JohnnyPanzer says:

          Absolutely correct, I confused EA with KS in that regard. My bad.

          What I should have said is more along the lines of “…with no guaranteed release date”. Even games like Kerbal Space Program are recieving heat for “conning” the customers by “keeping it in alpha forever”, even though they have made update after update after update and allready have way more features and replayability than most finished AAA titles on the market.

          One thing in particular that I find interesting is that I did a little bit of research on the Steam forums, to see if a theory I had was correct. And as far as I can tell, it was: the people screaming the loadest at Kerbal Space Program and Prison Architect for not just releasing the game as finished and be done with it, are the same people who scream the loadest in other forums when games are released with bugs. It seems, to me, that the biggest haters of Early Access live by the rule “Release your damn game right now or else, and don’t you DARE release anything but a flawless product!”.

          Ultimate General is, as we speak, being bombarded by malice on the steam forum for not releasing the Early Access fast enough. The devs said it would be released (on EA) soon, at which point people starting demanding an exact date in a very hostile tone. The devs then dared to make a guess and stated that soon meant late april/early may if everythin went according to plan at which point they started recieving a lot of heat for lying. In the middle of april. Now they have been forced to push Early Access back by a few weeks, partly due to the fact that they are located in a fricking warzone (Kiev) at which point people wrote things like “well boohoo, must be one hell of a conflict zone if they can’t even find the time to give us some short updates.

          I predict that there is a 100% chance that the same people will shit bricks if the Early Access contains a single bug or balance issue. No question about it…

          • Ich Will says:

            Indeed, in much the same way as you have bad egg devs, you also have a percentage of bad egg customers, for whom you will never be able to appease. You definitely have to look beyond the loudest voices and hope that your target userbase can do the same.

    • Rindan says:

      I think it is worse than a gamble. I think it is really perverse in terms of incentives. If you hand them the cash up front before there is anything real, and development starts to falter, they have every reason in the world to simply stop. The only thing keeping them moving forward is if they think they can reverse the slump or fear for their reputation.

      I’m not saying that crowd funding / early access is always bad. I just think that people are being a little too cavalier with it. I am pretty happy that Star Citizen, Elite, Numaria, and Limit Theory got their funding. Those are project I want to see win, and I really hope they do. Just realize that while it makes it easier to start projects and continue development, it also makes it a lot more appealing to kill projects.

      Personally, I realize that all Kickstarter money is a complete gamble. It is like going to poker night. If you go with more money than you are willing to lose, you are going to have a bad time. Early Access on the other hand is something I don’t touch with a 10 foot pole unless it is some sort of open world game that is already fun. If I could make Steam stop showing me early access games and filter them out of RPS unless they are currently awesome NOW, I would.

      If you are going to be pissed off if you waste a few bucks, stay far, far away from Early Access and Kickstarter.

  10. huw says:

    “I’ve reached out”

  11. neofit says:

    Just consider that it was released already and let it go. Check how many hours you’ve been entertained with it. I’ve got 32 hours on Steam, and I’ve played it before it got there, which is way more than say, Rage or Dishonored. Move on or buy more copies, you’ve had your fun and nobody signed up to entertain you for free forever.

  12. benmrowe says:

    I registered just to comment on this story. I bought Towns a little while back – in fact just over a year ago – because it was recommended on the Penny arcade forums and thought I’d take a punt as it was so cheap. I’ve put 40ish hours into it since. I’ve easily got my money’s worth and find it a very enjoyable way of just switching off and fooling around in a sandbox. Much like Prison Architect I genuinely don’t care whether or not it was ever finished – I’m glad that the devs, whatever they’ve done later, have got some cash from me in exchange for them giving me something I’ve enjoyed so much. It’s nothing even approaching a completed game, but t’s entertaining.

  13. Zankmam says:

    I’ve tried the game multiple times and, damn, it just feels *so bad*.

    I’d take Gnomoria and Rimworld over it – 10 times over.

  14. Grygus says:

    The original developer has made a post of his own.

    Summary: he may sell the game to a well-known gaming company he declines to name; failing that, he will hire someone else.

    This doesn’t make much sense to me; if he cannot afford pay a living wage, who would he hire? And if he can actually afford to pay decently, why not re-hire the same guy who already knows the code base?

    • Pockets says:

      If he won’t pay rates that are livable, I’d assume it’s a case that he’d shop it around to people who’d take it as a part-time thing in order to get their name on the credits and something to stick on their CVs, so basically students and those from the community.

  15. GDwarf says:

    It’s a shame, because the game does some stuff really well, and for a while there was adding some nice features every month. Then updates just…stopped, with no reason given. The game as-is is an excellent foundation for a Dwarf Fortress-like, and I think with a few months of full-time development by a small team it could be amazing, but that’s not going to happen, and that’s a real shame.

  16. shinkshank says:

    I might be wrong, but I heard that Towns sold over 200.000 copies. Which, when you consider their cut, would still give at least $3-4 a copy. Which, I’d say, is a pretty decent amount of money to live on for a few years while you finish a game. Most kickstarters ask for less, and they have put out some pretty damn interesting projects.

    Not that I’m trying to shit on these guys or anything. Shame the game’s gotta go down the drain, but what do you do.

    • Moraven says:

      July 2013, they said 200k copies, $2m gross revenue. Between 3 developers that is probably $200k each after taxes and fees.

  17. DarkFarmer says:

    whoa what? first off, towns is a fine game, or at least was when i was playing it roughly a year ago.

    Second, 200 thousand units at 10 bucks each is 2 million dollars. That should be ample money to keep interest in developing the product. my games sell in the thousands of copies for 1.40 each and I keep supporting them.

    i am disappointed that they’d pull the plug on a game that made 2 million dollars but im also disappointed that the game is being dragged in the mud here, Towns is a fine game.

    • huw says:

      “200 thousand units at 10 bucks each is 2 million dollars”

      Indeed. Many people would have paid far less than that, though.

    • Shadow says:

      A significant sum, though probably not quite 2 million, considering bundles (I don’t think it was just Indie Royale), discounts and Steam’s cut.

      • Moraven says:

        They got $2m gross revenue, they said so themselves back in July.

    • Archonsod says:

      Yup, thoroughly grabbed my attention for a month or two last year. Steam has 42 hours logged, which is considerably more than most games I’ve bought since.Weird thing is, I didn’t actually realise it wasn’t finished.

      I’ll just confusedly wave this pitchfork about a bit and pretend I know what we’re supposed to be raging about.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Sounds like my experience of playing the alpha when it came out a couple of years ago in a bundle and then never touching it again was fairly close to the optimal experience. And yeah, I had fun with it, but might be pissed off if I paid full price.

  18. Lemming says:

    So we’ve finally gone through the other side into the nega-realm where for some reason lack of sales of a game that isn’t even finished has caused the main guy behind it to quit because he’s not earning enough from his game in potentia. This ‘not game’ if you will. :-/

    Seriously I’d swear more devs miss the point of Early Access than customers do.

  19. spleendamage says:

    as you may know I decided some months ago that the game was finished. Some of you agreed and a some of you disagreed. My reasons was simple, add new features to the game won’t make a difference in it and you always will ask for more, so I took my decision.

    I bought it as a beta, long before it was on Steam, needless to say I won’t be buying anything from these devs until long after their next game is “final,” reviewed and heavily discounted.
    Fool me once and all that.

  20. Shooop says:

    WIll this be the wake-up call so many people needed to realize all this “Early Access” drivel has ever been is a glorified pre-order that may not even result in a finished product?

    Probably not. But at least it’s a start.

    • Shadow says:

      This didn’t happen while Towns was in Early Access.

    • DarkSaber2k says:

      Towns was NEVER in Early Access. Check yo’ ignorance.

    • geldonyetich says:

      Sometimes, the absence of an Early Access tag does not diminish how the game is very much being handled in a way reflective of everything that’s wrong with Early Access games.

    • Moraven says:

      While not Early Access it was being developed in the mold of Minescraft, which is what Early Access (other than cheaper price the younger the game). They had the game cheaper the earlier in development and it gradually rose in price.

    • JohnnyPanzer says:

      It’s business model that’s enjoyed by many, many, many gamers interested in the development proccess of games. The model shouldn’t be canceled due to the utter stupidity and inability to read of a minority of it’s customers any more than games in general should be banned due to the violent nature of some of the consumers.

      The information is right there. Failing to understand it does not mean one has been tricked.

      Also, the fact that THIS game was NEVER in Early Access should certainly be taken into consideration. Using it as a blanket argument against something completely unrelated is nothing but a cheap shot. It’s the same thing some people are doing with politics: They might claim Obama is exactly like Stalin, and when people show how utterly incorrect the comparison is, they go “Well yeah, I KNOW he’s not actually like Stalin, but the comparison still holds because I don’t like him”.

  21. Michael Fogg says:

    Dirty Old Towns.

  22. frightlever says:

    I got more than my money’s worth out of Towns and thought it played fine. I’m still unclear what is unfinished about it. As Xavi has said, people will always ask for more. Really early on there were claims made about what the game would do in the future but this became unrealistic and those claims were rescinded.

    If some people are still pissed off about that then I guess that’s their absolute right, but the majority of people bought a finished game that wasn’t very polished, as opposed to an unfinished game that failed to deliver on its initial promise. If they had any sense they’ve offer those early purchasers a free upgrade to Towns 2. Crucifying naive developers doesn’t really help anyone.

    Look at Keen Software House. They screwed the pooch with Miner Wars 2081 but people who bought in early enough to have a Miner Wars MMO key have gotten a free Space Engineers key in exchange. I was bitching about those guys for months but now I’m a happy bunny with a free copy of Space Engineers.

    • Guy Montag says:

      I’m not sure if you were actually one to get a trade-in key from KSH for Space Engineers, but they definitely denied me. Very early supporter who got very burnt out by how they handled everything about 2081 and the MMO, and after that definitely won’t be supporting them in the future.

  23. alert says:

    And yet Dwarf Fortress soldiers on. Could have predicted this about a lot of the offshoots tbh. Generic citybuilders just arent as engaging without the massive world, history, variety and interactivity behind them.

  24. hellspawn3200 says:

    there should be an update to this post, thedevs are saying that there is a game dev interested in buying the rights to towns and continuing development. onloy thing i hope is that this new devs bring on bluesteel since he has spent the last 2 months learning all the code.

    • Martel says:

      I’d say it’s non news, the devs also claimed they’d make a finished game. Best thing for these guys now is to prep the resume and try to get picked up by a major grind house studio until the Internet forgets who they are. I can’t imagine them being able to sell anything under their own names now.

  25. chazu says:

    They should open-source the game. From what I recall its a terrible mess, but maybe a community of fans could make it playable.

  26. phanatic62 says:

    My wife and I have both gotten a ton of hours out of this game. There are a few features I would like to see (like not having my citizens proactively assaulting baddies. That’s why we have soldiers!) but I think all-in-all there’s a very solid game here. And while the photo pictured here (and on the Steam store page) is claimed by most to be photoshopped, my wife has built structures that rival that beauty. She built a series of villas tiered into a hillside, surrounded by flowers and statues. Meanwhile my windowless, wooden box warehouses look like tenement housing for my Townies.

    I think a lot of the people that hate on this game never played it long enough to learn how to really play it. I have dozens of steam games that I played for a short period of time and decided I didn’t like, and I accept that I took a chance and it didn’t work out. It seems to me that people are using the devs decision to “stop development” as their excuse for why they didn’t like the game, as if a few bug fixes and more of an end game would have completely changed the gameplay experience. The reality is this just wasn’t their cup of tea, and the drama that played out on their message boards apparently made many players feel as if they should have gotten a game that was never going to happen.

    Of course I’m not saying that devs should promise the moon and then not deliver. What I am saying is that Towns is a fun game, and there are a lot of people that have gotten a ton of enjoyment and play time out of it, no matter the level of ongoing development.