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Dear Obsidian,

 

So here we are. 2012 seems a long time ago, doesn't it? I found out about it while playing Diablo 3 with Gftd1. He mentioned PoE in chat. I logged off and checked it out. I backed it pretty soon afterwards.

 

So, now we're on launch day here's my two pence FWIW. They say no feedback is bad feedback. Which is, of course, utter bollocks.

 

I've watched the first two parts of your video about developing PoE. Even a horrible old bastard like me was moved by your passion. OK, I was only moved a little bit, but for me that's progress. Anyhow, it was great being even a tiny part of the juggernaut that you unleashed by launching your Kickstarter. I don't regret a penny.

 

You've put two fingers up to the naysayers, gate-keepers and legacy publishers and won. Man, that must feel good. It's a buzz seeing the game at the top of the Steam listings. I've been posting here since the first week of Obsidian and at BIS forums before that. Watching the journey has been genuinely brilliant fun. I speak for many when I say this success is richly deserved. The idea that your studio might fold was horrible. Thank your deities of choice it hasn't.

 

So that's enough smoke blown up your arses. You did good. Here's what I think you didn't do so well, take it or leave it.

 

 

1. Legacy Stockholm Syndrome - I see this with legacy authors. You shake off the shackles of publishers and stumble, blinking, into the light. Hell, you're free to do what you like. But... the pull of The Old Ways is strong. So you end up with indie freedom but legacy attitudes when it comes to new ways of involving backers and taking risks. For example the launch of the game and decisions around Paradox's preview strategy (some of the streamers, guys, shouldn't have been trusted with Kandy Krush, let alone Pillars). Although I'm personally [fairly] relaxed about the release myself, I dig why some backers are asking why they were treated the same as Joe Soap who just wandered onto Steam. The answer lies in communication. You guys must be so freaking busy, I see where the cracks in the pavement must open up. But it has to be a lesson learnt. There should be no surprises around crap like this.

 

 

2. Community Management - You finally did it, and the guy is clearly up to the job. But it was too late. That position should have been filled on Day One. We can only speculate as to the hype, synergies and opportunities that might have come out of it. For long periods of development it seemed like you thought the video updates could make up for a lack of forum presence. I think this was a mistake. Forum-goers are a contrary pain in the arse, this much is true, but somewhere in that muck there might be gold. Your forum-goers are also your missionaries, prepared to travel into dark, unexplored regions of the gaming omniverse to spread light where there was previously only FPS shooters. The more engagement, the further they roam. A CM would have filled that gap and allowed devs to dev. Edit - Bioware is awesome at this. Say what you like about their games (and I do), you can't even begin to knock how their CMs mobilize the Bio-horde.

 

 

3. Set out your stall - What is a backer? (ha ha 'What is the nature of a Backer?') A customer? An investor? Some schmuck who put down a chunk of cash for a risky pre-order? I've felt like all three during the KS. This was inevitable given it's your first go at crowd-funding, but in the future maybe you need to lay down some ideas and boundaries beyond legal rubric. Some folks thought of themselves as benevolent pre-orderers and some felt they were clearly share-holders in Obz (ha ha ha). Many felt somewhere in-between. I think you need an honest statement of expectation, a compact with your backers. A guarantee. It should be completely realistic but it should also include some carrots as well as sticks.

 

 

These aren't massive gripes - the success of the enterprise speaks for itself. I'm still unhappy about some of the decisions around the game mechanics, but I'm big enough and ugly enough to suck that up and play the hell out of this game. But, as a backer and fan, if you want to finesse and build on what you've already achieved, I humbly submit my opinion for your consideration.

 

Best regards,

 

MC

Edited by Monte Carlo
  • Like 15

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Somebody care to explain what is this Pillows of Eternium everyone's been doing this whole fuss about?


It would be of small avail to talk of magic in the air...

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I disagree with all of the points mentioned. I think Obsidian did a phenomenal job with this KS.

 

But just to go into more detail why I think so:

 

1) Backers already got the game much cheaper than any regular customer plus all the additional benefits. You got to experience and be part in the backer beta WAY before previewers and streamers got a hold of this game. I don't get the butthurt about reviewers and media-representatives getting the game some days early. It's essential to get day-1 media coverage. We, as the customers, benefit from that. Denying Obsidian the possibility to send out preview versions to media would in the end just hurt everyone, as day-1 sales are important. Stop being so entitled just because you backed this when it was still a high-risk operation. You definitely got your money's worth already.

 

2) Community management has been decent. Come on, which company has not only the devs but also topic-experts come to the forums personally? We got questions answered directly by the professionals, not through a shady community representative that got his intel second hand. If anything, that's a good thing, not a bad one. I appreciated getting tech info directly from the artists and programmers, not from a community manager who has no idea what he is talking about.

 

3) You answered this yourself: it's just that some backers felt like they are more than they actually are. You are micro investors. Not shareholders, not pre-orders. You are not entitled to have a say in any decision if it wasn't part of your pledge. Obsidian cared and considered the forum feedback even if they weren't forced to by contract. Be happy it turned out like this. It could have gone way different.

 

 

I consider Obsidian's effort on PoE as a rolemodel for how a kickstarter project should look like. Was it perfect? No, but in the end, both sides - the consumer and the developer - won big time and that's what matters.

Edited by Zwiebelchen
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My feedback: of all the game development cycles I've taken an active interest in, this has by far been the best and most involving one. I did stop posting on the forum during the later parts of development, though, due to the flood of entitled brats thinking dropping $20 on a kickstarter makes a shareholder/product owner.

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"What if a mid-life crisis is just getting halfway through the game and realising you put all your points into the wrong skill tree?"

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I've enjoyed how very human this process has been. There have been twists and turns, bumps on the road, bruised feelings, mistakes, flawed and half-finished things, and now we're ... here. It takes a lot of courage to be this open. I have no complaints, and strongly prefer this to a "professionally managed" PR operation.

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I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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I'm pretty happy with what I got for my 140 bucks. A game I'm passionate about, and I did not want to play the beta, as I would not want any spoilers.

What I will say, is how absolutely disgusted I am with another Kickstarter campaign, namely Hex the TCG. They gave backers uniqe permanent enhancements for life. Their completely ignorant KS-backers on their forums justify this with: "we deserve it cause we took risk". I hope Hex fails for how they abuse Kickstarter, making incentive permanent perks and not passion. The small KS community on their forums also seems to not understand how these perks will turn off new players like me (pve is competitive). I hope PoE is a huge success and I'm very happy with my 140 bucks. Let the fun begin in a few hours:)

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Well every one who kickstarted this im sure thinks they had a say in it..It showed early on that they where listening to the community good an bad..So why yall griping we are here an are ready to go..Sit back enjoy the game today all will be forgotten once we find out, what a great game they built..
 

Im a part of a few kickstarter campaigns this is a good one so is star citizen..There devs talk to us on the chat forums..So its different every one..The guys over at ultima, also talk to the community..Ive seen some devs do more an some devs do less than they have here..

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My feedback is that the communication could be improved, but it did ok mostly.

What i did not like is the "Backer Beta" as it was clearly not a beta test. It was a showcase for the game and not a real test. So if you advertise early access beta, give us a beta to test complete with plans what to test and when etc.

The spoiler free showcase was OK, but i never felt like i could contribute like a beta tester could.

 

And yes in my book a beta is still the feature complete full game.

Edited by Vardia

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@Vardia ... huh? The BB was most definitely a beta, not a showcase. They incorporated a huge amount of feedback they got from us during the process into the game. Want a list?


I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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I'm glad we're here, and my sense of optimism for the game has returned. I seem to be one of the few who was irritated by the "The Making Of..." released parts rather than enamoured with it. Seemed like they had got the world's smallest violinist in to play over a description of what for all the world looks to be standard running of a development company. Anyway...

 

1. You're wrong.

 

It might gripe, it might be unfair, and I agree that many of those youtubers I wouldn't trust to play Kandy Krush, but...

 

a) This was Paradox's decision with the marketing, not Obsidian.

b) If the steam and gog pre-orders are anything to go by, the marketing strategy worked.

 

Paradox chose people for exposure, not for technical skill or interest in the genre. I think, irritating as it might be for backers, this has been the better way to promote PoE.

 

2. Whatever.

 

To be honest, I think you and many others have a desperately overinflated view of our importance to anything.

 

3. Nah.

 

Kickstarter has its own guarantees (and that is to say very little), Obsidian didn't need to put anything more out. No point making yourself any more accountable than you need to be, and no sense making your life unneccesarily difficult when you have a business to run.

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1) Backers already got the game much cheaper than any regular customer plus all the additional benefits. 

 

I have to admit, I was surprised how MUCH cheaper it was - as an "early bird" I got it for about £14, now the same SKU is £34.99, so that alone is enough to make me feel VERY good about backing (even at 50% off as the inevitable Steam sale in 6 months or a year might be, I'd still be ahead!).

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Obsidian's hardly a big outfit. And as they said themselves, they were learning with us.

I think they've done a remarkable job under the circumstances.

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This sort of thread is probably best at least a couple of weeks from now rather than on launch day when the entire dev team is most likely sighing in unison relief so hard they can spare air-con costs for a day.

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I got exactly what they said I'd get by being a backer: a copy of the game on release day.  Backers also got access to an early beta.  The fact that some people twisted this into some sort of demand that backers get early access to the release version before the press - something that was never promised - doesn't make this a problem for Obsidian.  It does indicate a problem with using Kickstarter funding, namely that some people get utterly unrealistic and unreasonable expectations about what they're entitled to.

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What i did not like is the "Backer Beta" as it was clearly not a beta test. It was a showcase for the game and not a real test.

The amount of stuff fixed thanks to backer beta begs to differ!

 

 

I got exactly what they said I'd get by being a backer: a copy of the game on release day.  Backers also got access to an early beta.  The fact that some people twisted this into some sort of demand that backers get early access to the release version before the press - something that was never promised - doesn't make this a problem for Obsidian.  It does indicate a problem with using Kickstarter funding, namely that some people get utterly unrealistic and unreasonable expectations about what they're entitled to.

Totally agreed.

 

The sense of entitlement some people have is disappointing. One would hope they know better.

 

I'm fine with the way they handle release. It really feels like a proper AAA RPG, gets promoted this way and it seems that the effects of what they're doing are very positive outside a few backers complaining here or there.

 

Thanks to what they done every person who paid for the game stands on an equal ground. You are a backer or you had pre-order or you play to buy at a day one - doesn't matter. You get to play at the same day. There's no division in a community. It's a great move and I fully support Obsidian keeping it this way!

Edited by Sky_walker

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@Vardia ... huh? The BB was most definitely a beta, not a showcase. They incorporated a huge amount of feedback they got from us during the process into the game. Want a list?

I am aware of the feedback, but it was a showcase of the system not a beta of the product. I am not saying it was pointless, it was just not a beta test like the ones i was in before.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_release_life_cycle#Beta sais:

 

 

Beta, named after the second letter of the Greek alphabet, is the software development phase following alpha. It generally begins when the software is feature complete but likely to contain a number of known or unknown bugs.[3] Software in the beta phase will generally have many more bugs in it than completed software, as well as speed/performance issues and may still cause crashes or data loss. The focus of beta testing is reducing impacts to users, often incorporating usability testing. The process of delivering a beta version to the users is called beta release and this is typically the first time that the software is available outside of the organization that developed it.

 

Maybe it was my expectation to have the real game as a beta, complete with signed NDA and everything. It was not really made clear what the "backer beta" would be.

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What i did not like is the "Backer Beta" as it was clearly not a beta test. It was a showcase for the game and not a real test.

The amount of stuff fixed thanks to backer beta begs to differ!

 

 

It was a good thing, it just didn't meet what i expected from a beta test. I am OK with how it went, just my feedback about a clarification for future projects. Betas i have been in before had the complete game in them,  with feedback about encounters and everything else. Beta basically used to mean "complete game without bugfixes" and that is what i was thinking. 

If i would have joined it is another story, the "backer beta" was great for spoiler free feedback as it was and therefor i might have avoided a full beta. Just giving my 2 cents about what i expected a beta to be.

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It was made abundantly clear early on that the Backer beta (as compared to the internal beta) would only be a slice of the game, spoiler free, due to the difficulty of enforcing NDA on thousands of backers, not to mention that piracy is a thing.


"What if a mid-life crisis is just getting halfway through the game and realising you put all your points into the wrong skill tree?"

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I think it was a fair way to test just think of yourself as a beta tester who has been given a specific area to test. Not like beta testers always have free reign in what they test.

Was there a proper bug tracker would have been cool/useful thing to have dunno how it would compare to handling emails for bugs or forum posts in terms of effort required?

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What i did not like is the "Backer Beta" as it was clearly not a beta test. It was a showcase for the game and not a real test.

The amount of stuff fixed thanks to backer beta begs to differ!

 

 

It was a good thing, it just didn't meet what i expected from a beta test. I am OK with how it went, just my feedback about a clarification for future projects. Betas i have been in before had the complete game in them,  with feedback about encounters and everything else. Beta basically used to mean "complete game without bugfixes" and that is what i was thinking. 

If i would have joined it is another story, the "backer beta" was great for spoiler free feedback as it was and therefor i might have avoided a full beta. Just giving my 2 cents about what i expected a beta to be.

 

You are right. I complained about that myself a few times. IMHO it'd be better to allow backers test a whole game and kill as many bugs as possible, to avoid repeating the SW:TOR mistakes.

 

You expectation was justified, however Obsidian never said that backer beta is going to be a beta of a whole game as such. They were rather specific through the development progress that what backers are going to get will be just a small portion of the game world (with few reasons for doing so that you probably know and probably disagree with like I do).

Edited by Sky_walker

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Traditional betas suffer from a huge problem: you encounter the full game for the first time in a buggy and unfinished state.  That's the #1 reason why I don't play betas: I want my first play through to be polished, not disappointing and broken.  The backer beta here was, to me, a brilliant alternative: you get to test the mechanics (the real point of a beta) without having the storytelling compromised.

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... You got to experience and be part in the backer beta WAY before previewers and streamers got a hold of this game ...

I keep seeing this as a counter-argument to the preferential treatment given to "content creators" and it might have some merit if every backer got a beta key but you have to pledge at or above the $110 level or pledge an extra $25 specifically for the key. And while I don't know about the latter, only 7,615 out of 73,986 backers (i.e. about 10.3%) pledged at or above $110 so my guess would be that the vast majority of backers were excluded from the beta and didn't get to experience the game before anyone let alone people that were given keys for no other reason than they've been playing Cities: Skylines for the last couple of weeks.

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Sunjammer

Code Monkey

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Maybe it was my expectation to have the real game as a beta, complete with signed NDA and everything. It was not really made clear what the "backer beta" would be.

There are closed, public, and semi-public betas. This was a semi-public one. It never even occurred to me that it would be a closed one, with NDA's and stuff. I mean, who wants the hassle of dealing with and then potentially enforcing thousands of NDA's?


I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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Dear Obsidian,

 

So here we are. 2012 seems a long time ago, doesn't it? I found out about it while playing Diablo 3 with Gftd1. He mentioned PoE in chat. I logged off and checked it out. I backed it pretty soon afterwards.

 

So, now we're on launch day here's my two pence FWIW. They say no feedback is bad feedback. Which is, of course, utter bollocks.

 

I've watched the first two parts of your video about developing PoE. Even a horrible old bastard like me was moved by your passion. OK, I was only moved a little bit, but for me that's progress. Anyhow, it was great being even a tiny part of the juggernaut that you unleashed by launching your Kickstarter. I don't regret a penny.

 

You've put two fingers up to the naysayers, gate-keepers and legacy publishers and won. Man, that must feel good. It's a buzz seeing the game at the top of the Steam listings. I've been posting here since the first week of Obsidian and at BIS forums before that. Watching the journey has been genuinely brilliant fun. I speak for many when I say this success is richly deserved. The idea that your studio might fold was horrible. Thank your deities of choice it hasn't.

 

So that's enough smoke blown up your arses. You did good. Here's what I think you didn't do so well, take it or leave it.

 

 

1. Legacy Stockholm Syndrome - I see this with legacy authors. You shake off the shackles of publishers and stumble, blinking, into the light. Hell, you're free to do what you like. But... the pull of The Old Ways is strong. So you end up with indie freedom but legacy attitudes when it comes to new ways of involving backers and taking risks. For example the launch of the game and decisions around Paradox's preview strategy (some of the streamers, guys, shouldn't have been trusted with Kandy Krush, let alone Pillars). Although I'm personally [fairly] relaxed about the release myself, I dig why some backers are asking why they were treated the same as Joe Soap who just wandered onto Steam. The answer lies in communication. You guys must be so freaking busy, I see where the cracks in the pavement must open up. But it has to be a lesson learnt. There should be no surprises around crap like this.

 

 

2. Community Management - You finally did it, and the guy is clearly up to the job. But it was too late. That position should have been filled on Day One. We can only speculate as to the hype, synergies and opportunities that might have come out of it. For long periods of development it seemed like you thought the video updates could make up for a lack of forum presence. I think this was a mistake. Forum-goers are a contrary pain in the arse, this much is true, but somewhere in that muck there might be gold. Your forum-goers are also your missionaries, prepared to travel into dark, unexplored regions of the gaming omniverse to spread light where there was previously only FPS shooters. The more engagement, the further they roam. A CM would have filled that gap and allowed devs to dev. Edit - Bioware is awesome at this. Say what you like about their games (and I do), you can't even begin to knock how their CMs mobilize the Bio-horde.

 

 

3. Set out your stall - What is a backer? (ha ha 'What is the nature of a Backer?') A customer? An investor? Some schmuck who put down a chunk of cash for a risky pre-order? I've felt like all three during the KS. This was inevitable given it's your first go at crowd-funding, but in the future maybe you need to lay down some ideas and boundaries beyond legal rubric. Some folks thought of themselves as benevolent pre-orderers and some felt they were clearly share-holders in Obz (ha ha ha). Many felt somewhere in-between. I think you need an honest statement of expectation, a compact with your backers. A guarantee. It should be completely realistic but it should also include some carrots as well as sticks.

 

 

These aren't massive gripes - the success of the enterprise speaks for itself. I'm still unhappy about some of the decisions around the game mechanics, but I'm big enough and ugly enough to suck that up and play the hell out of this game. But, as a backer and fan, if you want to finesse and build on what you've already achieved, I humbly submit my opinion for your consideration.

 

Best regards,

 

MC

 

Great Post, I would send it straight to BAlder or something lol.

 

But it quite obvious, the backs for PoE are a special kind, that care much more then the usual kind of backer /prepurchaser you would otherwise normally find. This game was vague, and not even close to being made when we backed, but we had been waiting for years for it. Well, we waited over a decade to have the opportunity to get our sentiments about old interplay and blackisles games out and get them coming back. I think Obsidian didn't expect to see so much attention from us, or care coming from so many.

 

I wish they would partially fund the Expansion the same way. I want a expansion thats large, like mask of the betrayer. ToB and ToSC for me were kind of small, and I couldn't evenb tell they were really expansions most of the time.


Obsidian wrote:
 

​"those scummy backers, we're going to screw them over by giving them their game on the release date. That'll show those bastards!" 

 

 

 Now we know what's going on...

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snip

 

Great Post, I would send it straight to BAlder or something lol.

 

But it quite obvious, the backs for PoE are a special kind, that care much more then the usual kind of backer /prepurchaser you would otherwise normally find. This game was vague, and not even close to being made when we backed, but we had been waiting for years for it. Well, we waited over a decade to have the opportunity to get our sentiments about old interplay and blackisles games out and get them coming back. I think Obsidian didn't expect to see so much attention from us, or care coming from so many.

 

I wish they would partially fund the Expansion the same way. I want a expansion thats large, like mask of the betrayer. ToB and ToSC for me were kind of small, and I couldn't evenb tell they were really expansions most of the time.

 

The expansion was partially funded that way, there was an option to add $20 to your pledge for the expansion.

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