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Asylum delays and unfulfilled developer promises

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Well, another loooong e-mail from Agustin Cordes about why nothing seems to happen with the actual development of Asylum (i think, i can’t bother to read through more than the first paragraphs of that text anymore). Can’t even remember when I actually paid for backing the game. Lot’s are being said about The Lost Crown and Barrow Hills sequels that noone has actually paid for yet but when it comes to this guy’s promises noone seems to mind at all. Engine change and blah blah. I’m seriously fed up with this nonsense. I don’t care about the money and would prefer for the guy to step forward and declare the project is dead once and for all. Surely it is?

     
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hmmm, it’s about time someone said it.

     

Pray for Scott Murphy!

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Veovis - 17 October 2015 09:03 PM

Well, another loooong e-mail from Agustin Cordes about why nothing seems to happen with the actual development of Asylum (i think, i can’t bother to read through more than the first paragraphs of that text anymore). Can’t even remember when I actually paid for backing the game. Lot’s are being said about The Lost Crown and Barrow Hills sequels that noone has actually paid for yet but when it comes to this guy’s promises noone seems to mind at all.

I assure you that I do mind. I believed in him and supported him with a lot of money and I was wrong.

 

     

There is only one thing about truth that is certain. Truth… is dead.   Orwell: Ignorance is Strength

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No, it isn’t dead.  It will be published and it will be good.

     

Cure procrastination.  Just don’t do it.

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For once I agree with Advie. It’s high time someone said it.

I’m tired of developers taking advantage of backers.
Imagine starting another kickstarter when you have not even begun to deliver on the first one.

     

There is only one thing about truth that is certain. Truth… is dead.   Orwell: Ignorance is Strength

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Lady Kestrel - 17 October 2015 09:18 PM

No, it isn’t dead.  It will be published and it will be good.

You should be appointed editor of the project updates. That’s pretty much all that needs to be said.

Hope you’re right btw.

     
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Starting another kickstarter doesn’t necessarily mean that they are taking advantage of anyone. More likely they staffed up and utilised existing staff who were finished on Asylum to start preperations on another product.

Unfortunatly the kickstarter failed so that project was put on hold and those extra staff were probably laid off.

I have full faith that Agustin will deliver Asylum when it’s ready.

     

An adventure game is nothing more than a good story set with engaging puzzles that fit seamlessly in with the story and the characters, and looks and sounds beautiful.
Roberta Williams

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Not just that, the office was shut down and I had reduce the team to its bare minimum. Last year we were in a great position to start a new project with physical space and staff that had finished their work on Asylum. It didn’t happen and Charles Dexter Ward is not only on hold but I haven’t even thought about the project for months.

This whole notion that developers are evil people who take advantage of backers and fans needs to stop. It’s the same toxic behavior exhibited by mainstream press and GamerGate. Asylum is a long project, and we’re working on it, and that’s all there is to it. I’m not taking advantage of anyone. I haven’t made a single dime out of Senscape/Asylum/Kickstarter since we started working on the project in 2009. I had to turn down well-paying jobs in the past to make sure the game is delivered. If it weren’t for my wife who has a full-time job, I couldn’t be doing this.

And not I’m not saying that because I want your sympathy, but to demonstrate that Asylum is a project I believe in, and I want to see it done, and I want you to enjoy it as much as possible. I’m forever grateful that Kickstarter is allowing us to fulfill our original vision but it’s a still shoestring budget for a game like this.

If you would read the last couple of updates, you would learn what’s been done, what’s remains to be done, what we’re working on, and why the project is so ambitious and taking so long. There’s a reason why the game still looks good five years after it was originally announced. You should keep in mind as well that Kickstarter backers can download a playable build of the game that not even press has received.

I’m truly sorry it’s taking so long, but I want you to understand where I’m coming from. I’m not going to declare the project dead simply because it would be a lie; we’re still working on Asylum and we want to see it become a reality as badly as any of you.

     

Senscape // Founder // Designer | Working on: Asylum | Twitter: @AgustinCordes

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I don’t really want to take the defense of Agustin, because I have not been following the game that much (and honestly I’m not fond of horror games so I won’t buy it, sorry).

However, as a very indie developer, I am always scared when I see people complain. I start to know well what making a first-person adventure game means, and it usually involves a very lot of work to create the resources: backgrounds, story and enough animations to make the game lively. Even if I personally prefer to try to self-fund my projects (until now at least), I realize how hard it is for small teams to create a game, finalize it, and try to earn money from it, particularly when you choose to migrate to another graphic engine with a lot of hopes - knowing too well the risks that go along with this decision.

Making ASA and ASA Remastered has been exciting for me, and it is great to know that there are many people who liked the game a lot, but it didn’t bring back much money (around 2 or 3k€ for myself, for 2x 6 months of fulltime work, I’d say… not enough to make a living). Creating my new game Catyph will probably lead to the same result more or less, except that I worked for 2 years on the project, which is crazy and was totally unexpected. I had no idea that the project would take so long, and happily there aren’t any people who supported me with money. If I had chosen the KS way, I would not be able to express how sorry I feel for this delay, even if I have a lot of good reasons for being “late”.

So yes, Kickstarter is a great tool for developers who can use it, but it also doesn’t solve all the issues, and worst, can create new ones (angriness and incomprehension - which is totally understandable because you paid!). I would rather say the the system needs to be improved. It is true that part of the fault goes to the developers, who usually understimate the cost of their projects (lack of experience or marketing decision?), but on the other hand people would not give money if the targeted fund on KS was too high and seemed unrealistic. Managing a society is expensive and the people involved in the project usually receive less money than the project itself. I can easily imagine Agustin living from the money of his wife like he said, yes.

Since Senscape is probably a society, let’s imagine that their developers receive $1 500 each month to live from (which is quite a low salary, particularly if you want a good team of profesional artists), they usually cost the double to the society (that is often the case, at least in France it is if you add taxes), so the cost would be $3 000 each month for one single employee. If you have 3 graphic designers, 2 programers and 1 musician/sound designer, you are already 6 fulltime workers, which represents $18 000 of staff costs every month. In one year of development that is already $216 000 engaged - even if it is a very simplified illustration of the problem.
Of course there are many solutions to reduce the cost (promise % on the final sales, for example), but in the end it’s still very expensive if you add the other costs such as electricity, local, taxes, softwares, etc. Well I would like to think that artists and developers are like anyone else and need money to live from?

If the game is late, as long as the result is good, then it was worth the price and the waiting. I don’t think Kickstarter is miraculous and people who back projects should always (always!) keep in mind that it can not be to their advantage, and that things might not happen as they wished.
One of the reasons why I have not used Kickstarter yet: the fear to disapoint most of the people who like my work. It’s a risk when you receive what seems to be a lot of money. And I am regret that a few bad developers abuse of the system, which always affects the hard work of the others.

Well I apologize for this intervention, it might not be acurate or good enough, but I thought it would be better to give a chance to Agustin, and that a release date is nothing compared to the final result if it is good. Unless I misunderstood something in the messages above?

     

Simon Says: Watch! Play! (ASA, Catyph, RealMyha, Anterran…)

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Of all the Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects I have backed, two have come in on time, most are way over time and one, possibly two are acknowldedged dead in the water. I am OK with that. One of the reasons I back games is to get the game, naturally. The other is to support the gaming community, to give developers the chance to grow and to enlarge the creative sphere of the community as a whole. In other words, as a patron of the arts, to use an old fashioned phrase.

I would feel used if a developer took the money and blew it on non-essentials or was totally clueless about managing the money but not so much if they just misjudged the complexity of the project or ran into life issues such as staff conflicts or such. There is a reason they say on Kickstarter to not invest if you cannot afford to lose it.

Making major changes such as changing the game engine from Dagon to Unity in Asylum or changing the scope of the game as in Nelly Cootalot does raise eyebrows but in the end I would prefer to go with the developers decision.  Even if I feel a bit like a horror movie audience yelling “Nooooo! Don’t open that door!”

I am a backer of Asylum, albeit a small one. I believe the game will be made but I feel good about my decision anyway. I have learned a lot about game making from following the updates and Augustin Cordes certainly has as well. This all sounds pretentious and I realize others have different priorities and obligations; I just want developers to have a chance.

     
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Not sure why Asylum is getting picked on here. The average time for most adventure game kickstarters has been 2-3 years so it’s not late by normal standards.

Broken Age - March 2012 KS - release in 2014 (part 1) and 2015 (Part 2)  - About 3 years to complete

Armikrog - Jun 2013 - 2015 Just over 2 years but with major bugs

Broken Sword 5 - 2012 KS - Part 1 2013, Part 2 2014 - About 2 years.

Stasis - 2013 KS - 2015 release - About 2 years

Tesla Effect 2012 KS - 2014 release - About 2 years

Obduction - 2013 KS - Not released yet and little updates

Dreamfall Chapters - 2013 KS - 3 out of 5 parts released after 2 years.

Space Venture - 2012 KS - Not released Yet

Game development takes alot of time, money and people. Difficult to do when you have little of all three.

Agustin has been around these forums for years and is a huge fan of the genre. I have no doubt in my mind that the game will come out.

     

An adventure game is nothing more than a good story set with engaging puzzles that fit seamlessly in with the story and the characters, and looks and sounds beautiful.
Roberta Williams

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Crowdfunding can be a good thing, but there’s always an element of risk. The situation with Star Citizen right now is a pretty good illustration of that.

     
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Danknificent - 18 October 2015 12:40 PM

Crowdfunding can be a good thing, but there’s always an element of risk. The situation with Star Citizen right now is a pretty good illustration of that.

Most developers would love $93 million of a budget Smile

     

An adventure game is nothing more than a good story set with engaging puzzles that fit seamlessly in with the story and the characters, and looks and sounds beautiful.
Roberta Williams

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Let me add my voice to the support of Augustin (even though like Simon, I’m not a backer since I don’t like horror). I often read people backing on Kickstarter and then complaining that the project is late, that the developer asks for another kickstarter because they underestimated the budget, or that they’re not happy with the result.

I’m a software developer by trade, I’ve managed projects and in most cases estimating accurately a project is very hard. If you’re developing something new that you’ve never done before then it’s almost impossible to accurately estimate it. Choosing the technologies, frameworks you’re going to use is hard because you can’t predict the future and it’s easy to end up with work that’s less than ideal that will need to be scrapped and replaced (or use workaround to compensate for unknown bugs in the engine they used). Creating software, the story, the design, the art around the game, the gameplay is creative work and it’s very very hard to estimate creative work.

Now what most people here don’t realize is that if game developers were there for the love of money, they wouldn’t be doing games and certainly not adventure games. Most games don’t sell very well and just don’t bring a lot of money and our chosen genre is very niche. I admire and respect indie developers, they spend a lot of time and hard work to create great games because of their passion for the genre. They most likely have a lot of other opportunities with their skills but instead they chose to do this. So, calling them evil, saying that they are taking advantage of backers is really a slap in the face.

I backed quite a few games on kickstarter but I’m doing it while acknowledging that things can go wrong and that the project might fail. I’m doing this because I like adventure games, I enjoy playing those kind of games and by backing those projects I want to give my support to the developers.

I see backing on kickstarter to be similar to funding artists on Patreon. It’s a way to fund the kind of art that I enjoy and that I’d like to see more of in the world.

     
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giom - 18 October 2015 12:57 PM

The Truth

Well said. It’s easy to look at big kickstarter scandals like Star Citizen and see something reptilian and evil, but it’s much harder to imagine that in the adventure genre. Most devs realize that unless your name is Telltale Games, it’s not about money. To me, that makes it seem more likely that delays in this genre are the result of actual hardship, not scumbag fleecing.

That said, crowdfunding rarely offers any sort of guarantee - that’s why platforms like kickstarter deliberately distance themselves from the outcome. Backers have relatively little protection. It’s a gamble - not an investment, as the people who backed Oculus learned the hard way.

Talk to your kids about backing responsibly.

     
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the sweet tongue is always there, no escape. but all respect to the great minds sharing their’s here.

but sweet talk doesnt bring all the picture and all its grays into scoope.. (i take sides and can not support all the AG developers) and sure every one has a life to lead, front-men or those in the shadows or at the crowd..

but some are with long line of credits and others need to jump all the time to assure people and take responsibilities, if one of the crowd is bothered by something of some sort. and thats how i believe not all developers are at the same circle; some go for crowd fund and some dont, some develop a product full of glitches and some bring it out clean, some on time and some late or very late, and bottomline some fans can bare waiting and some dont.

     

Pray for Scott Murphy!

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