Sad Space Party: Spacebase DF-9 Leaves Early Access

Hitting the space bar.

A game’s launch is usually such a happy affair, all streamers and balloons and fruit punch and jelly and ice cream and cartwheeling clowns, but it’s a little bittersweet for Spacebase DF-9. It’s not the game Double Fine wanted it to be, nor the game advertised to Early Access purchasers. DF scaled plans down last month as announced they couldn’t afford to keep making the sim space station, and would simply get it to a stable, finished-ish state then release the source code.

Spacebase DF-9 version 1.0 launched this week, also bringing players a virtual party bag containing the source and a free copy of Hack ‘n’ Slash. HnS owners were given a copy of Spacebase too.

1.0 has brought a new tutorial mode, trackers for persistent goals, a ramping-up of enemy forces towards the end of the game, and lots of little tweaks and bug fixes. Beyond that, they plan to release a patch with important fixes if necessary, but then major development is over to the players. If you’ve got DF-9 installed, you’ll find the Lua source code in the game’s directory.

If you still fancy it, a 40% launch discount brings it down to £8.99.

“We wanted to keep working on Spacebase for years. But Spacebase spends more money than it brings in, and that’s just not something we can afford to do any more,” Double Fine head honcho Tim Schafer said last month. It’s understandable but unpleasant.

DF-9 project lead JP LeBreton signed off his blog post on Monday with thanks: “Thank you so much for your support and patience for the past year. We’ve learned a lot and are proud of what we managed to accomplish, and it’s all thanks to your support. And now, we must return to our home planet… hope to see you on worlds beyond!”

Friendly reminder: Early Access games are always a risk. Be sure it’s one you’re willing to take.

107 Comments

  1. Unclepauly says:

    banana sandwiches.

    • bonuswavepilot says:

      [Edit] There was a piss-take of Steam-forum style angry post here on the theme of banana sandwiches, but I thought better of it.

      • Unclepauly says:

        Better thought indeed, for you have risen above the tide of sandwiches.. Those same sandwich, which have gone B-A-N-A-N-A-S , they have tossed aside all computational punditry. They have chosen one side of the war (..or two?). The side of pure game play. Banana sandwiches will ride into the sunset! Forever chosen to eke out existence in the folds of reality! Happiness is a choice@!!1!

  2. snowgim says:

    Meh, I’m a little disappointed, but I think I got my money’s worth out of it.

    Sure Early Access is a risk if you’re using it as a pre-order, but I bought in to Spacebase to see the development process and watch it evolve. It delivered on that, even if that experience ended a bit earlier than I hoped.

  3. razgon says:

    I’m still flabbergasted Double-Fine thought Early Access meant getting all the money needed for development before release, thus avoiding risk themselves. I’m glad they learned a lot, but I’m unhappy its at the expense of both my money and more importantly, the idea behind DF-9 , which probably will not come up again anytime soon.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Yeah I really can’t fathom how they thought that was viable or at all how early access works. Stranger still, they could easily have adjusted their expectations and continued to develop the game and then release it to make a profit. Like a normal game but with already having recovered some of the development costs.

      As it is, they’ve very publicly cut development short and most people who were keeping an eye on it with a view to a future purchase (like me) will likely be turned off by their behaviour and the prospect of an unfinished game.

      The worst thing for me is the gentle insinuations that it’s our fault for not purchasing enough early access copies. They could have done any number of things other than cutting off development and slapping a 1.0 on it.

      • Premium User Badge

        JiminyJickers says:

        I agree with you about them insinuating that it is the customers fault. It is ridiculous that they thought that they would get so much money to pay for the development from an alpha. It happens, but so rarely that surely they couldn’t have thought it is a viable way to do business.

        The game looked very promising and I was going to pick it up when released, but now I never will.

        • MrFlakeOne says:

          I was interested in the game, but now I won’t purchase it because I think that product is unfinished.

          They should really consider hiring Peter Molyneux, he would fit their apporach but could enrich their public announcements with more bullshit.

    • drinniol says:

      Or maybe, just maybe, sales of the game were so shit it wasn’t worth it and Early Access has allowed them to identify the market isn’t there. So Early Access is still a success.

      • LionsPhil says:

        This is impressively twisted bizzaro-denial logic.

        • drinniol says:

          Hah, from the point of view of DF, I should have clarified.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        My understanding is that it actually sold pretty well, more than recouping the initial $400k investment from indie fund in the first 2 weeks it was available alone.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        That standpoint they took, along with attempts to insinuate that people hadn’t bought enough Early Access copies to warrant further development, essentially trying to guilt people into buying early access, is the most ludicrous standpoint a developer can take in my opinion.
        They should not be undertaking a project they cannot finish without early access sales, they also should not be trying to cajole people into buying early access lest the game never be released if they don’t. This whole debacle showed why Early Access is a crap system, companies shouldn’t be selling unfinished games, and that after Broken Age and now this. Double Fine should not be trusted with anymore crowd funded money. They simply do not have a clue what they are doing from a business standpoint.

        • Rikard Peterson says:

          Ok, so Spacebase was a failure, but I don’t know why you’re bringing Broken Age into this. BA part one is a good game, with potential for being a great game when the next and final part is finished. It’s certainly given me value for my backer money already. It is turning out better than promised and may even exceed my expectations (for the game, I’ll reserve judgement on that until it’s completed, but for the documentary, that’s already happened long ago). BA is far from a failure, unless they somehow end up unable to finish it. (And I see that as very unlikely.)

    • Joshua Northey says:

      Well they made it pretty clear no one should buy early access anything from them because they have a screwed up view of how it works. I was going to buy this when released and it was on my wishlist since it first hit EA, but I try really hard to only buy finished games…so I was waiting. Now it looks like I will be waiting until it hits the $2 bin.

  4. Barchester says:

    It saddens me to say this, but Double Fine really, really needs someone to oversee and manage what they’re doing. They’re picking up projects left and right without any focus on anything, it seems. I love the enthusiasm of the company, Tim in particular, but they seem weirdly incapable of handling multiple projects. Slicing Broken Age into two parts, and the second one still not released (last I read, the script was just about finished, and that was a month ago), DF-9 not getting a release at all…

    Double Fine are sort of becoming the counter-argument to the whole Kickstarter principle, showing a company that could very much use a publisher who can put its foot down and get them to put a focus on things. I mean, I love Double Fine and Schafer as much as the next person, but as a company, they’re not doing things right.

    • Premium User Badge

      JiminyJickers says:

      Yeah, I fully agree with you. It is the one case where the publisher doesn’t seem so evil if they can focus DF’s creativity.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        In many cases the publishers are not evil.

        Half the time the developers blame the publisher it is really the developers mismanagement that is at fault.

        The publisher says can you do X with Y money and Z months, and the developer says yes.
        Then the developer begs for more money and time and gets it, then eventually they beg again.
        The publisher says no.
        And then the developer releases a bad product and tells the fans it was the publishers fault.

        • Shuck says:

          Unfortunately there’s this perverse game that is an all-too-common way developers and studios interact. Studio needs X amount of money to make the game, the publisher knows fully well that they need X amount of money, but what they’re willing to pay is Y (being significantly less than X). The developer agrees, hoping they can cajole more money until the amount they actually receive is close to X. The publisher agrees, hoping that they can squeeze the game out of the publisher while paying an amount closer to Y. (And all that’s assuming the studio isn’t poorly managed, which is also often the case, or that the publisher doesn’t try to screw over the developer by withdrawing funding before having even paid out Y, which is also quite common.)

        • Premium User Badge

          JiminyJickers says:

          You make good point.

    • MrFlakeOne says:

      I think they should get double fined for (☞゚ヮ゚)☞

    • Acorino says:

      I agree partly. I think the way they’ve handled Broken Age is perfectly fine. And that they’re working on multiple projects simultanously isn’t a problem per se as well.
      But what is a problem now is that they seem to have grown incapable of properly finishing and supporting their games.

      Hack & Slash is still a buggy mess. The bugs were a huge detriment to my enjoyment of the game, so I never finished it. Another patch isn’t planned. Also it feels unpolished in all sorts of ways, especially in regards to the huge difficulty spike that happens in Act 4.
      Spacebase DF-9 1.0 is, according to forum reports (I haven’t played the latest version yet), also still a buggy mess. The balancing is also very off.

      In short: Don’t buy Hack & Slash or DF-9 until Double Fine bothers to actually patch them further.

      • Barchester says:

        It might be easier said than done, and I must stress that I have no experience in either running a company or making games, but it seems to me that if you’re incapable of finishing games on time, or at all, and you’re still running on multiple projects, you’re not managing your resources right.

        Better stick to two games (a random number I just pulled out of a hat) that you can finish (on time or at all), than five, where you can only deliver one on time, have to abandon two and delay the other two indefinitely. The way DF are doing things right now is already damaging the company and the goodwill they managed to build throughout the years. Especially under all the scrutiny they brought onto themselves via Kickstarter.

        • Xocrates says:

          I’m not sure I can agree with that analysis. More money and more people does not in any way ensure a better product, and as far as I can tell SpaceBase is the only one they they actively screwed up (Broken Age is delayed and over-budget, but it’s still getting made and with decent quality). You can argue about the quality and merits of their other releases, but they do feel like finished products.

          Honestly, it’s hard to judge. As someone who works for a company that needs to juggle multiple projects just to keep afloat it’s hard to see DF as anything else than someone trying too hard and sometimes failing – particularly now that business models and the way games are developed is constantly shifting.

    • Cross says:

      In other words, Double Fine needs an experienced producer with the power to trump their designers, including Schaefer himself.

    • Baines says:

      I don’t know that a publisher would actually help.

      Years ago Bobby Kotick said pretty much the same things about Schafer that people are saying about Double Fine today. Of course at that time everyone jumped on Kotick and Activision as the villains of the story, and dreamed of the days that Schafer could be free of such evil and short-sighted publisher tyranny.

      Well, Schafer and Double Fine are free of that publisher tyranny, And have repeatedly shown that they haven’t learned a thing since those days. Without a publisher protecting them (acting as a lightning rod for complaints), Double Fine’s actions have also been shedding the good will it had built with consumers.

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      Deadlines shmedlines. Let them keep doing mad science without some lawyereconomistsuit telling them what to do. Some projects blows up in their face but at least they are taking risks. If you don’t like it just don’t give them kickstarter muneys or buy into early access.

      I’m a lawyereconomistsuits coward with my money so I’ve not bought anything from them other than Brütal Legend and Psychonauts.

  5. Vexing Vision says:

    “It spends more money than it brings in”. This puzzles me. I was under the impression that Early Access is basically just a stretch goal supportive to be able to finish the game, not a marketing or primary sales goal in itself. In my market naivety, I assumed that the big sales happen when the game is finished and there’s a marketing push with Steam top page and advertisement and multiplayer.

    This obviously never happened. What did happen was that Spacebase was included in at least one (I think it was two) Humble Bundles though. Which is a really weird thing to do if your company plans to achieve specific sales goals with the product before it’s released.

    Maybe I’m just bitter, I was one of the people (maybe the only one) waiting for a finished version. After the disappointing “Towns”, I don’t do complex simulation games on pre-order or early access anymore.

    • DavishBliff says:

      I believe they were attempting to fund it almost entirely through Early Access sales. Once they spent whatever money they had reserved for it from other projects and the Early Access sales weren’t paying the game’s expenses, it seems they didn’t want to dip further into their other budgets to fund the game. People frequently say that the game that manages to present Dwarf Fortress’ gameplay in an accessible way will blow up and sell like mad, but any attempt at getting there takes a big investment and a lot of time, and I don’t think DF were able or willing to take the risk.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah, it’s like they wanted to break even before they’d even started selling it proper. This is not a model I am willing to support at all.

      • jezcentral says:

        Remember when sequels were abandoned if the sales for the current game weren’t enough?*

        Nowadays you get your current game abandoned if the pre-orders aren’t enough.

        *E.g. Dead Space 3.

      • Premium User Badge

        ErraticGamer says:

        Well, I mean, that is sort of the Kickstarter model (which there are plenty of people who won’t support, too), except that here instead of saying “this is our goal, if we hit it, full steam ahead, and if not, nothing”, they said “we’re gonna develop it, and we don’t know what the goal is, but if we don’t hit it, we’ll just walk away.”

        Which, yeah, seems completely absurd. “This game just isn’t making us enough money to finish making” is a sentence that shouldn’t become frequently used.

    • Jalan says:

      It was one bundle (Double Fine Humble Weekly) and it was in its own “premium”/light blue text tier.

    • egattocs says:

      You’re not alone. This is precisely how I viewed the situation too.

    • solidsquid says:

      From what they’ve said, it seems they were hoping to get enough early access to fund the development of the game until it hit 1.0, then sales to fund further developments. The problem is they also seemed to be basing their estimates on the upper level of profit from indie games, so their funding structure required profits somewhere between Super Meat Boy and Minecraft in order for the game to be funded

      Basically they aren’t very good at managing money, and far from the idea of releasing a game then pushing the profits from that to fund the next one they’re spending way beyond what they can afford for every project

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        Yeah, they were very quick to make sure their investors didn’t lose any money though, this is mostly what lead to them not taking the project into the red any further. Guess they need the money to finish Broken Age from somewhere right? Still don’t like how they basically said “fuck you” to the customer whilst ensuring the happiness of their money men though. No middle ground was struck at all. It’s basically given me the standpoint of these people cannot be trusted and they are certainly burning their crowd funding bridges in rapid order right now, which could kick them in the nuts in the long term.

        • solidsquid says:

          I don’t remember what the details were, but I *think* the group that invested and got their money back require that they get it as soon as sales allow, which would probably include alpha sales. If they were actually contracted to do that and screw the project over then, well ok, it’s still their fault for agreeing to dumbass conditions, but at least it wouldn’t have been malicious

    • wengart says:

      If this were a “normal game” I would be much more unhappy about how things turned out. AS it is they tried to replicate Dwarf Fortress’ success and failed and I think that is unfortunate, but I’m not going to hold it against them. These games are hard to make and you can find plenty of dead or incredibly slow going Dwarf Fortress clones.

      Towns
      Gnomoria
      Timber and Stone
      Kenshi
      Maia
      Caste Story
      Dwarfcorp
      Rimworld
      etc…

      Spacebase is just one of the many

      Now a number of these games are progressing, but they are so far off that you probably won’t see results for quite a while and any one of them might fail before they reach fruition. Even if they do make it the question is, do they compare favorably to Dwarf Fortress? This is a lesson to not kickstart or early access DF style games if you don’t want the risk of not getting what you want out of it.

      • CoryHalavan says:

        I’d say it’s unfair to lump rimworld in with the likes of towns and castle story since Tynan has pretty much had monthly updates since the public alpha has been sold. But that list really shows how risky buying games of this type at any stage is. Also I’m willing to wait on Kenshi for another 5 years if need be.

        • wengart says:

          Rimworld is definitely doing pretty well and I am always excited to see his updates. I also agree with Kenshi. They are doing some cool stuff with that game and I’m willing to wait a long time.

          What I’m trying to get across is that even if the game is updating regularly where that game may end up is still an unknown and it might be that it gets abandoned before it reaches completion. This genre isn’t a safe genre.

      • gi_ty says:

        Well I don’t thinks its fair to put Gnomoria in that group. It has had solid continuous updates for well over a year. It is now its its beta stage and is a very fun game that has changed greatly over time.

        • wengart says:

          Gnomoria has succeeded as a village building game, but I think it has failed as a Dwarf Fortess alike. It is way too puzzle based. SO much of the game is based on following a pretty linear path of advancement and opening up newer threats based on where you are at in that linear path.

  6. LionsPhil says:

    So, anyone who got suckered into this, what is the license on the source you’ve been given access to?

    Can you actually redistribute your modifications?

    • spunky says:

      I was just flipping through the source (which is distributed with the steam download, btw) and could not find any licensing information. Neither in a “LICENSING” type file, nor in any file headers, with the exception of some files, that are part of Moai (the engine). Those have an useless “Copyright (c) 2010-2011 Zipline Games, Inc. All Rights Reserved.” notice.

      So, yeah, no.

      EDIT: found some scarcely sprinkled “Copyright (c) 2012 Double Fine Productions All Rights Reserved.” in a few files.
      No luck ;_;

      • hirnbrot says:

        That’s what I found and google searches haven’t turned up more than

        If you own the game you can modify these files and distribute your modifications to other users as you like.

        (from the announcement)
        which, needless to say isn’t clear enough to qualify as a proper license.

  7. strangeloup says:

    I was pretty underwhelmed by Hack ‘n’ Slash, but hey! at least I got a free copy of another game I didn’t really want out of it.

    Growing increasingly suspicious of Double Fine, as much as I love Tim Schaefer. Might consider getting Broken Age though, if they ever bloody finish it.

    • solidsquid says:

      A while back there was a Pixar documentary where they covered the process of making one of their films. One member of the production team was there purely to avoid over-spending, and he was constantly having to fight the producer to keep things under control and make sure the film was finished. Then at the end of the documentary they asked the producer about it, and he said that, despite constantly fighting him, without the guy pushing for deadlines and funding the film would never have been finished

      Schaefer is like that, he has great ideas, entertaining characters and is a fantastic writer, but he needs to have someone to push him into keeping things on schedule and under budget. Without that the projects just keep expanding in time and budget (just look at the number of stretch goals they’ve added to their kickstarters)

    • gunslingerfry says:

      Yeah, woo. I get an extra copy of both, I guess?

  8. heyhellowhatsnew says:

    I’m actually shocked you didn’t include the fact that many customers were upset in your article. I don’t know what’s happening to RPS. You used to speak truth to power. Maybe you’re being threatened by those GamerGate misogynists so you can’t do things like you used to do or else they’ll blow up the site and doxx everyone on staff, but it’s no wonder you didn’t write anything about how racist this game on Greenlight is, the one I emailed people on this staff about…

    link to steamcommunity.com

    The one with the tetris mini-game where you stack slaves in a boat.

    link to i.imgur.com

    I’m losing faith in this site to report the truth. I’m losing faith in this site to report racism and sexism in gaming. Oh my god… what if i’m like in a gaming Twilight Zone episode where those idiot sexist racist misogynist pigs on the GamerGate “It’s all about ethics in games journalism, but we’ll be sexist gross pigs anyway, but ethics in games journalism!” are right?!

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      Do you need me to tell you that customers are unhappy when a game is released unfinished?

      A vein of that sentiment runs through the story, anyway. The headline starts with “Sad Space Party”, I say the launch is “bittersweet”, say it’s “[not] the game advertised to Early Access purchasers”, and call it “unpleasant”. What does it add if I say “And people are not happy about this!” Of course they’re not happy. But you don’t need me to tell you that, do you? You certainly knew that, and it seems other commenters have picked up on that too. Folks don’t need me to tell them how to feel about this.

      • spunky says:

        Feelings are overrated anyways.

      • Vesuvius says:

        Alice, I’m confused. How should I be feeling about your response? You didn’t say.

        • solidsquid says:

          I’m disappointed she didn’t comment on how disappointed I am at her not mentioning my disappointment about her lack of comment

    • DavishBliff says:

      Er, every other article RPS has run about this fiasco (there have been several) has included quite a bit of info about how people are rightly upset. And this article has the word “sad” in the title, and makes it quite clear that it’s a shitty situation throughout.

      As for your article idea, I’m sure they’d like to run an article about shitty racist Greenlight games, but that sort of thing is better with more than just one example. Alternatively, they run a lot of stories and don’t publish anything and everything that gets sent to them.

      • Distec says:

        Who cares about a racist unknown indie game on Greenlight? Or multiple ones? That shit is not going anywhere.

        What’s there to write about? At best, you get a some tut-tutting, headshaking piece possibly ending on some “Man. Gamers, right?” note. Then everybody in the comments can uniformly voice their disapproval and moral outrage; RPS readers can spend a couple thousand words signalling to each other how they are the height of progressive class.

        That said, is the game really racist or are am I just seeing a visceral reaction to the image of black people getting stacked like LEGOs.

        • David Bliff says:

          I think the article would be “who the hell is vetting these games?” rather than “can you believe there are RACISTS out there?” Or maybe it would be an in-depth look at the developer’s defense of his game as “educational”, which would branch out and cover the handling of sensitive topics in the media more broadly. RPS has run articles like that in the past.

          As to your question about the game itself, “racist” is a really clunky term and I can’t be bothered to look through the Greenlight page a second time and take notes, but it’s certainly in horrendous taste – whether a piece of media has the right intentions or not, handling a sensitive topic like slavery poorly is far worse than not touching it at all. And no it’s not specific to games – there are a very small handful of films that have handled slavery correctly (“Roots” and “12 Years a Slave”, really) while there have been plenty of attempts that have meant well but still been horrendous (“Amistad”, e.g.). It takes exhaustive research and very careful foresight to tackle something like slavery in an educational, illuminating way that’s also respectful, which is why so few are able to do it. I wouldn’t expect some guy who thought “uh what if it was tetris but they were people, we can make it a slave trade game” to be able to pull it off on his first try.

          • Distec says:

            Very valid. And I would certainly welcome that kind of article. I just think RPS sometimes sharply oscillates between shrill concerns and nuanced exploration of these issues. Although they’ve been much better as of late.

            I’m just wondering if people would be willing to let such a game to exist on Steam – allowing it to get savaged by reviews and poor sales performance – or if they’d just rather not have it on the platform at all. Uwe Boll’s “Auschwitz” is a fucking terrible movie, but I can sill buy and rate it on Amazon… where it’s rated 3 and a half stars for some reason. We can leave that can of worms for later, I guess. :P

            For what it’s worth, the Tetris aspect we’re hung up over looks to be a small part Of the overall game. Regardless of how flawed and misguided the product is on the whole, it does illustrate to me how quickly people jump on the first sign of “objectionable material” while typically not looking much further. The game is god damn baffling, don’t get me wrong. But it looks like it’s trying to be a fair bit more than Tetris – Slave Edition.

          • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

            ” I just think RPS sometimes sharply oscillates between shrill concerns and nuanced exploration of these issues”

            The line between shrill concerns and nuanced exploration is drawn by yourself, between what you perceive to be valid issues what you perceive to not be.

          • Distec says:

            That was a pretty interesting way of saying “That’s just your opinion, man”. Speaking of which, I do believe that was already established when I included the words “I think” in that post. You even quoted it. Great job…?

            And it’s not just about the validity of their issues they choose to cover (they vary). It’s also how they choose to communicate about them which I have sometimes found to be very poor and ineffective.

            BUT THAT’S JUST IMO

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      So, essentially, you’re unhappy with RPS because they didn’t write up a particular game you wanted them to write up? Good news! The internet allows you to publish whatever you want to see published, in your own space, with virtually no barriers to entry. This is a terrible state of affairs in my opinion but one you should probably take advantage of, rather than winding yourself up trying to get other people to publish things for you on their own blogs.

    • Barchester says:

      What the actual F, this is really on Greenlight? How the hell did that get past whoever greenlights those Greenlight entries? I’m more than a little shocked that a game like that can actually get through on there.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        I’d be very surprised if it isn’t just an algorithm. Greenlight is Steam’s place to put games it doesn’t want to have to bother making value judgements on.

        • Barchester says:

          You might be right. Steam also might want to have a look at the process if you are. It’s more than a little disconcerting that stuff like this can make it to Greenlight at all.

          • LionsPhil says:

            I would say it’s more alarming if these things can stay there, i.e. reports are not being made or acted upon. That at any point sample you may get a flicker of hate and stupidity is a given for an open approval process, because it only has to be there for five minutes for someone to find it and get mad.

          • Distec says:

            Honest question: What do you find so disconcerting about it? Or specifically, what is so disconcerting that it should not be on Steam; Greenlight or anywhere else?

            I mean, I think it looks terrible and the approach to the subject is pretty shocking and laughable. And I am under no illusions that a product like that is going to be welcomed or put up with by Valve. But I’m having trouble drumming up some principled reason it can’t exist.

          • solidsquid says:

            It’s perfectly entitled to exist, but that doesn’t mean Valve has to publicise it by having it on Greenlight

          • Distec says:

            Indeed. And you’ll notice I pretty much said exactly that.

            But would it be refused a place on Steam’s shelves because it’s truly racist or because Valve’s customer base is just uncomfortable with the game’s approach and depictions? Would it be refused for being morally abhorrent, for “not treating the subject matter correctly” (whatever the hell that means), or just because Valve would rather not wade into those waters?

            You could apply the situation to other games that deal with “mature” subjects. Should games that deal with sexual intercourse, possibly with a bit of graphic detail, have a home on Steam? Or is the general audience too squeamish and likely to make a fuss? My completely unresearched and personal opinion is that a lot of people (here at least) would fully support the latter, but object to the former. Elsewhere, potentially vice versa.

            Taking Valve’s business and ethics out of the equation for a moment; should Steam’s catalog be partly dictated by moral concerns, or can any game appear on it, so long as the market can support it? If Playing History 2: Slave Trade somehow got an obscene amount of Greenlight support from people (and let’s assume they’re NOT all salivating racists), then what’s the right course of action to take?

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            Really you should all just go and buy Space Colony…

            In fact, buy multiple copies of it. Gift it to your friends. Gift it to your enemies. Gift it to your dog! It doesn’t even matter why, just buy it ;)

    • Distec says:

      Oh no, RPS better speak up before the slave-stacking boat game gets greenlit by Valve.

    • KevinLew says:

      The game that you’re complaining about is another political/social issue video game which is nothing new. The idea is that you play the villain role to teach the user about something. We’ve got a number of controversial games that do this already: Sweatshop, Phone Story, and the upcoming No Pineapple Left Behind. Not to mention that there’s already politically-driven games on Steam, like Cat and the Coup.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        The problem with the game is mostly that the slaves themselves are reduced to an exaggerated negative stereotype, utterly unsympathetic, and entirely for laughs. Of course the slave masters are comical too but there is nothing about this that reinforces a problematic negative stereotype. They may as well just present a slideshow of images of Africans with canned laughter in the background… Although of course, that’s already been done!

    • gunslingerfry says:

      It is surely meant to be outrageous to make a point. It is something that really truly did happen though.

      • green frog says:

        Yup. Did happen.

        link to fastcodesign.com

        Still beggars belief that someone thought this was an appropriate theme for a video game, though. It is odd to try and explain what exactly makes a given work cross the line. Wanton murder and criminality doesn’t seem to be it for most people. I personally had no problem slaughtering thousands of people as psychopathic coke dealer Tommy Vercetti in GTA: Vice City, for example.

        But yet, this game feels like it crosses the threshold of acceptability. It’s interesting to think about.

    • green frog says:

      Wow, that game. Sometimes I’m genuinely impressed by the balls someone had to do something, even when what they’re doing isn’t at all sympathetic. You know, like Vladimir Putin.

      Your criticism of RPS is baseless, though.

  9. eggy toast says:

    Personally, I feel like for $25 I got taken for a ride. Double Fine explicitly promised not to pull some BS like this.

    I asked for (and paid for) this game to be finished, but that’s not an offer.
    I asked for (politely in writing) my money back, but they said no while being incredibly rude.

    Instead I have source code that I don’t want and will never look at, and a different game which is also super rough and unfinished that I never asked for and won’t be installing.

    • Jalan says:

      They’re still hoping people will be suckered in, given the regular price of the game. Everything I’ve read of it suggests that the current discount price should probably be the permanent price.

  10. MeestaNob says:

    They can call it v1.0 as much as they like, but it doesn’t make it true. Poor form by Double Fine.

    Cancelling a game because nobody buys it, because it’s not finished so nobody buys it. They don’t seem to understand that early access/Kickstarter sales are not the be all and end all of indicators to see if your game has an audience or not.

    They’ve left all their early adopters with no real game to show for their trust, there is NO chance Double Fine will make huge dollars with any future attempts.

    I don’t say this lightly, but someone needs to take over Double Fine and turn it into a real company, it’s run by day dreamers. There’s undoubtedly lots of talent there but its being wasted with endless half baked projects.

  11. Xzi says:

    And with that, I and several others await the inevitable debut of both of these games on Humble Bundle for a buck. Even by RPS’ own admission in reviews, both are half-games at best, and put together a whole game they still do not make.

    I don’t understand why Double Fine felt the need to actually flesh these concepts out if they were never going to put the same amount of time and effort in to them that they put in to their previous games. Such as Psychonauts.

    • Myrdinn says:

      Normally they’d get slapped around by a publisher, now they don’t.

      • Xocrates says:

        Mind you, I doubt the state of the games would be massively different if they had a publisher, the main difference would be you wouldn’t know about it.

        I don’t think it’s any secret that Brutal Legend has around half of the planned content.

    • bonuswavepilot says:

      Shitty as the DF9 thing is, I don’t know that I’d call Hack n’ Slash a half-game. It’s still buggy, but I’ve got a good few hours of entertainment out of it, and it is certainly an unusual concept. I can see that it wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste though…

  12. gbrading says:

    Double Fine have long been in need of a Chief Financial Officer who understands that committing to make a game then not making what you set out to make looks really really bad.

    • drinniol says:

      Committing to make a game then going broke is worse in the long run.

    • Premium User Badge

      tigerfort says:

      What Double Fine needs is a really good project manager who has the authority to slap Tim Schaefer (and everyone else) round the head and say “lovely idea, but if you can’t make it work to the budget, don’t change the plan we agreed”.

    • Shuck says:

      What they need is someone who will keep them from over-promising. That’s the real problem. That they promised, or at least appeared to promise, features beyond what they could manage. That’s a deadly sin in crowdfunding. You do not over-promise – people are going to have expectations beyond what you concretely commit to doing anyways, so you have to make sure you only present, as part of the game’s road-map, things that you know you’ll be able to afford to put in there. What is promised needs to be done so clearly, as well. A road-map for development that includes features beyond the basics needs to be secret, unfortunately, or backers will expect it, regardless of how well it does.

  13. Premium User Badge

    samsharp99 says:

    Agree with most of what everyone else has said here – I was interested in the game and have been following its progress as it kind of reminded me of Startopia and had it been properly fleshed out and released I probably would have bought it at launch. I’ve backed quite a few kickstarter projects but generally tend not to want to play them until it’s the finished experience as I don’t want to spoil the experience.

    It seems like they’re taking too much of a risk-averse strategy – trying to fund all of their games in advance of development and I just don’t think that’s going to cut it for your day-to-day operations. Make good games that people want to play and the sales will follow, don’t expect it to happen the other way around.

    • Archonsod says:

      It’s more Space Colony than Startopia.

      To be honest I think the main problem is that they had no idea what the finished game would look like more than anything else. If you just go back through their update news, they’ve not really had much direction in what they’re doing. It feels like they’ve been sticking in whatever ideas cropped up that seemed cool at the time rather than having an actual end-goal to aim for.

  14. Winged Nazgul says:

    Ironically, I had been planning on buying Hack n’ Slash but held off because I was feeling a little salty over the SB DF-9 decision.

  15. deadfolk says:

    Also worth noting, they are not honouring their promise of a free copy of Hack’n’Slash to people who did not buy it from Steam, regardless of they fact that their post on the subject explicitly said ‘all owners’.

    I was disappointed about DF-9. I am furious about this part.

    Edit: They are now saying that they are aware of an issue preventing non-Steam (i.e. Humble) purchasers from getting the free game, and they are working on it. This is contrary to their earlier explicit statement that it was for Steam buyers only. My guess is they didn’t expect us to complain about it, but because we have they now need to do something,

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Hah, expecting people of the internet to not complain would be delusional but if there’s one thing this situation shows about double fine… :D

    • Llewyn says:

      Bernard Ingham once wrote:

      Many journalists have fallen for the conspiracy theory of government. I do assure you that they would produce more accurate work if they adhered to the cock-up theory.

      I think an assumption of incompetence is more reasonable in DF’s case.

    • Xocrates says:

      I bought Hack n’ Slash on Humble, and got a copy of Spacebase yesterday morning before I even knew about these news. The thing is that I had activated the game on Steam.

      It sounds more like they only wanted to distribute the game through steam as opposed to only people that bought it on steam.

      • solidsquid says:

        Valve hosts games that are on Steam don’t they? DF might want to avoid the bandwidth fees which would go with large numbers of people who’ve bought DF9 all downloading from their servers

  16. drinniol says:

    Maybe they shoulda had a poll to see which project they would cut, instead?

  17. cpy says:

    I guess not every early access/kickstarter gets to Star Citizen’s level. But i couldn’t resist to support some greenlit games myself.

  18. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Oh, so that’s why a giftable version of this suddenly appeared in my Steam inventory (because I have Hack ‘n’ Slash).

  19. revan says:

    And that is why I stay away from Early Access. Underrail being the sole exception.

  20. Skeletor68 says:

    First, that’s some great alt text there.

    Secondly, I would have bought the game if they finished it as I’m sure many others were thinking. As dev plans go their approach seems especially shortsighted and naive. It’s sad. I don’t want Tim Schafer to become our new Molyneux. I have much respect and admiration for Peter’s earlier games, but being stung on nostalgia tinted decisions will mean I will always be more wary now than I would like.

  21. Bundin says:

    Whenever I spend money on Kickstarter or Early Access, I expect to get nothing in return. Something turns up? Awesome! I may back that company again. Especially if it meets the sales pitch.

    Fail me, and I won’t come asking for my money back. I will however stay away from that company, and any other project that is inexplicably connected to that company. Double Fine was written in pencil on my shitlist because of Broken Half-an-Age, and the attitude displayed here has made me put them on in pen.

    • Lagran says:

      Same here. I’ve got a couple of failed games around, and I’m okay with that. I don’t put down any more money than I’m willing to lose, and I accept that things may very well stay the same.

      But, saying that, I’m exceedingly annoyed at DF. In all honesty I’d rather they just went “Sorry, no more development” and left it dangling in EAccess nothingness than make pretend it’s more than it is. The sceptic in me says the EAccess release was an attempt to make it look good and garner some more attention and money/sales from people who didn’t check reviews, just bought on the premise of “out of Early Access”. A 1.0 release looks much better on books than an abadoned game, after all.

  22. noodlecake says:

    “We wanted to keep working on Spacebase for years. But Spacebase spends more money than it brings in, and that’s just not something we can afford to do any more”

    No shit. This is true of most games that aren’t out yet. It’s generally a risk you have to take when you approach any creative endeavour. Invest time and money and then hopefully at least break even at the end, knowing that you have contributed something unique and interesting to the world. I had my eye on this and would definitely have bought it once it reached a point where it was a more or less finished game.

    Pretty disappointed in Double Fine for this. They could have made a mint on this had they bothered to finish it.

    • AngoraFish says:

      The magical free money days of completely paying off one’s entire project budget on the back of presales, then living the high life off post-release profits, are definitely over. Oh wait… that wasn’t ever thing, was it.

      • solidsquid says:

        Minecraft pretty much achieved this I guess? I mean they had a pretty solid prototype to bring people into the pre-alpha, but they definitely were funding it through ongoing sales and then made a ton after the game “launched” too

  23. Axyl says:

    Double Fine screwed us because they cannot run their business properly.

    Useless with finances, sloppy with release dates. Honestly, apart from the occasional good idea (which often does NOT become a full and complete game), Double Fine are a really shitty company.

    One I will not be buying from again.

  24. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I wonder how many unreleased games manage to make more than they cost to develop while they’re being developed?

  25. jonfitt says:

    Spacebase DF-9 is a Victorian whelp abandoned at 4 by its single mother who cannot afford to feed it. She hopes that it will be able to find a kindly family to take it in and raise it, but the reality of the London winter is closing in and that seems unlikely…