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Thread: I have a baaad feeling about this....

  1. #1
    Kickstarter Builder Nomad Azirahael's Avatar
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    I have a baaad feeling about this....

    So, there are some warning signs that things are not going well for a studio.

    A delayed update is not a bad sign.
    But a delayed update schedule, lack of communication, and closedown of previously existing communications paths like V-logs is definitely a bad sign.

    A worse sign is banning and deleting anyone drawing attention to such issues:

    You have been banned from Planet Nomads Discussions
    You have been banned from Planet Nomads Discussions by a Planet Nomads developer for your post in "Planet Nomads General Discussions":
    Slowing releases, reduced or eliminated communication... I'm getting a vibe like Craneballs is running out of money and is beginning the process of dying.

    Ban Reason:

    If you believe this ban was issued by mistake, please contact
    Steam Support.

    This is a permanent ban.



    Sorry all. As much as i want this game to succeed, it's looking like they aren't going to make it.
    Also, i will almost certainly be banned, and this post deleted. So read it while you can.

  2. #2
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    Dude..if they ban you for posting an opinion...I will be quitting support. Any developer who is prepared to silence people who express their opinions in a polite and coherent manner does not deserve anyones support or money.

    I would like to see a coherent response from the devs to let us know what the issues are and what's going on, as I can understand a small dev group running into issues, and not being able to fix it in a hurry. I can also understand the principle of Early Access...and games that never make it over hte start line of '1.0' ....I knew that when I bought the game.

    I just hope Craneballs have not run into a p[roblem they can't fix, run out of money, or whatever..... but whatever....I would like to know.

    And censoring of responses...well...lets hope not.

  3. #3
    Kickstarter Builder Nomad Azirahael's Avatar
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    Well, they say not.
    But then, so do all studios that are in the process of going down the tubes.

    I direct you to this post on steam: https://steamcommunity.com/app/50405...95812314522844

    Notice that it quotes me from a little while back.
    Notice also, that you cannot find the original that it is quoting.
    I hadn't noticed, until i went looking for a post to show that i had the 'Banned' Label.

    In fact, any posts questioning the status or finances of CB are just gone.

    So, how do they fix this?
    Well, A: stop censoring posts,
    B: release some info. Not necessarily the latest patch, but a video or something, showing the developments and so forth. The kind of thing that a studio that IS too broke cannot do, because half their staff have gone, and we will see that.

    We've all backed games in EA that didn't make it, and we know what to look for.
    The only way to remove the scent of death is to show life.
    The kind of life you can't fake easily with a quick post saying everything is groovy.

    The last video was 6 months ago.
    Lets see a vid of the office, all hard at work, with all the people we know from previous vids working on stuff.
    That ought to do it.

  4. #4
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    well.....lets see

    Here's what I have put on Steam:

    I am a little concerned over the lack of nay updates over the last couple of months. The Trello roadmap has not been touched since March, and the last bugfix/update was quite a few weeks ago.

    Now, I can understand a small dev team haviong issues dealing with major code problems, I know it's early access and what that means. I also understand how complex a task coding a game like this is ...but I find the lack of comms, updates and news a little worrying.

    I have also heard some worrying reports of bans being issued to people who asked questions.

    Craneballs....please let us know whats happening. I love the game...and want to see it succeed. I can take a bit of bad news. No news is harder to handle.


    Nothing offensive, unpleasant, or in any way in breach of Steam TOS. If it getspulled, censored or I get a ban.....

    - - - Updated - - -

    Been pointed towards this blog post. Has some updates on what's going on :

    https://www.planet-nomads.com/blog/

  5. #5
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    When I saw some time ago this statement I thought we will get updates every 6 months like it happens in 7 Days to die and in Rimworld.
    Quote Originally Posted by martinsustek View Post
    ... Focus on quality and not quantity or deadlines. This means that we will no longer make updates with new blocks and features each week. But we still have some of those longly expected in our sleeves.
    ...
    I am happy we got many bug fixes until now.
    Some big changes cannot be delivered in pieces so we have to wait.

    Yes, some people lose their patience and start some "open letter" threads.
    But those who are worried, could contact developers privately or just play the game and report the bugs they find.
    Developers answer quite often to our reports.

  6. #6
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    Anyone can report/flag a post on steam, so I see no reason to assume CB had anything to do with it.
    In this overly PC times, it is common for places to ban and not care enough to ask questions.

    I feel your pain; I had a 5-year-old FB account locked, with no reason given and ways that should works to get it back also locked.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Azirahael View Post
    ...Slowing releases, reduced or eliminated communication... I'm getting a vibe like Craneballs is running out of money and is beginning the process of dying...
    Azirahael, you said that?
    I was away a few weeks from the forums and only occasionally checking for a moment if some update was released.

    I guess there is no reason to worry about the game yet.
    I am sure you can make things right again but better not to discuss on such topics here.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Vrmithrax's Avatar
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    While I hate to see the ban hammer dropped on you, @Azirahael, I can sort of understand it in this instance. Not saying I agree with it, just playing devil's advocate for a minute. I've seen this happen in other forums, and the reasoning given behind it, so here's the thing...

    If a long time, well known member of the community starts talking about the company folding, that raises eyebrows. Newcomers who might be checking out the forums to see if they are interested could easily see that out of context, and make a snap decision to avoid investing in a lost cause. You know how the internet works, small negatives become massive rumors and essentially feed the trolls with a 7 course meal to go crazy with. That's drama that a small development team on a game that's not widely known (yet) just can't afford.

    I guess the closest analogy would be somebody standing in the gate area in an airport and loudly talking about how they think there's a bomb on the plane. Who in their right minds would board that plane? Or somebody standing in a theater yelling "fire" as people are coming in, they're not going to just ignore the warnings and sit down. It's even worse if it's one of the flight attendants or theater ushers doing those things.

    Hopefully it can get resolved. I read your posts, and I know they come from a place of genuine concern for the future of the game.

  9. #9
    Kickstarter Builder Nomad Azirahael's Avatar
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    The major issue is how they handle it.
    Because post deletions, followed by banning are exactly what you do to spin the sitch out of control.

    What's going to happen? The person banned is going to feel like there's an attempt to silence them. And then try to get the message out. Like i just did.
    And people are going to see the ban hammer, and freak.

    The smart thing to do, is to comment the post, and PM the person telling them why. Then explain convincingly that no, they are not crashing and burning, not laying of staff due to tight money, do so convincingly, and then ask the person to post something more positive, to help the situation.
    And delete the post if it's truly terrible.

    Because a studio that is doing great, does not need to fear the odd 'Dis gaem is ded!' post.
    The only time to need to fear is when you are NOT doing great, and you don't want to start a stampede.


    For an example of how to do it good, go look at Eden Star on steam.
    https://steamcommunity.com/app/259570/allnews/

    they haven't updated in a year. Due to a complete overhaul of every single system.

    But: updates regular as clockwork.
    Explanations of how they work to showe that no, they are not going to crash and burn, even if it takes forever.
    details in each post to show progress on graphics/story/engine/AI etc.
    And when they get the odd 'Dis gaem is ded!' post, they take the time to explain why it's not dead.
    Every sign of life, except for an actual update.


    To work on the analogy as presented, Craneballs is standing outside a rickety looking building, loudly declaring that the building is fine, and will not fall down.
    While pulling aside anyone who says 'Looks a bit iffy to me.'

    If a company is doing great, then it's the equivalent of shouting 'Fire!' in a wide open field where everyone can see there's no fire. No panic.

    You only need to worry about people shouting 'Fire!' in a place where fire is either likely, or a problem, or there have been fires before.

  10. #10
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    While your arguments are valid, they break down when I think that the person who is shouting 'Fire!' is you
    Because you are quite active and you have the information from this forum too, as opposed to some who like to stay and watch only what the steam pushes on their screen.
    You can see in the bug section how developers answer to the bugs, you can see how often they log into the forum...

    I would like to see some video logs too, but last year when I saw the latest ones, I had the strong feeling they are not "natural". Other developers are more relaxed.
    But pictures and technical descriptions are also ok if they prefer to do that.
    They just have to advertise the news in such a way to be easy to found. In case of Steam, on the steam news tab.

    Why on Steam we see only 3rd May as the last news?
    We should find there everything, not only game version updates and fixes...

    And in general I think they can sell better their vision.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Vrmithrax's Avatar
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    That's often a problem with a small and tight development team - it's hard to take time out from coding to sit down and essentially do a social media run on occasion to keep your player base informed. If you're a programmer by nature, you are used to internally documenting code, not necessarily posting "coming soon" and "what we're up to next" infomercials

    Honestly, sometimes the best bet is to have someone who can be your media liaison, handle forums and keep your social media accounts up to date, etc. Having a dedicated person (or persons) to handle that side of the business can take a load off the rest of the team, so they can concentrate on staying elbow deep in the guts of the game. It also has a benefit of allowing for a "social media blitz" which can generate more interest, leading to more exposure and sales, which helps keep the lights on and the devs paid. But, alas, that's not always possible for a small team on a lean budget, so it can be a Catch 22 situation.

  12. #12
    Kickstarter Builder Nomad Azirahael's Avatar
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    Interns? a multimedia studies student?

    Can't be that hard to get someone reliable.
    Esp as they assure us that the money is fine.

  13. #13
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    Hello guys,

    I am sorry that you see our endeavor as not sufficient. Maybe we should have been giving you more information, but there is not so many interesting things to say as there were during the earlier phases of development of the game.


    Anyway, we've decided that we'll write longer posts about things that we work on and updates that we are releasing. We'll use our own development blog that was little bit abandoned recently. Expect one post like this - https://www.planet-nomads.com/2018/0...ight-coloring/ for each update release and some other irregular posts when we'll have something interesting to say.

    As I mentioned earlier, we will no more shoot regular videos. We consider it a lot of work, and none of us is expert in making videos and we rather want to do what we can do best.

    The same applies to Trello. We do not actively use it to plan our work. We use Pivotal Tracker but it's not in English so it will probably tell you nothing. The fact is that in current state the Trello is the lowest priority and pretty useless for you because of it, so we are considering to stop using it officially. I wanted to delete our Trello account completely few months ago but that could lead to speculations about the company ending and worldwide devastation and that kept me out of doing it.

    And for the third time, we have big problems with two forums. We created this forum as our "official" as we didn't know the power of Steam forum and we also wanted to have something for non-steam users. But now we need to deal with two forums instead of one. Every piece of information is either incomplete or duplicit. Not mentioning that forum is in principle not a good system for bug tracking.


    So, I must agree with you that our communication strategy must change. But it will take some time. What will not change is that we are open to discussions about the game. Just please let the worries and speculations about studio future on us. Planet Nomads is not our only game. We could have decided to stop development anytime in the past and the fact that we didn't do it says something about our attitude to the game. But this decision is hardly depending on day-to-day sales numbers. Any false information could lead to lowering sales and therefore to making the decision. And this is just the one and only thing that you can cause by making or nourishing those speculations. We hope this is not your intention.

    For understandable reasons we cannot discuss our financial numbers with you. But if you do some basic math with publicly available data, you must get to the conclusion that money we raised from the Kickstarter campaign could hardly cover all expenses of development for the time we are still working on the game. If we want to continue making the game we need to earn some money. We can do it by cashing current players by adding DLC's or trying to expand our audience. This is why we are now working on onboarding and polishing. We want our game to be playable for masses, not just the biggest fans. This might look like doing nothing for fans but everyone will profit from game being more popular.


    The last thing I want to say today is that banning Azirahael was an overreaction and a mistake. We do not ban people for their opinions and I lifted the Azirahael's ban a while ago. It took me some time to find the correct form to do it as I was there for the first time and find out that we had only 3, now only 2 people on the banned list. Unfortunately, now it will take us a long time to convince you about it.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by martinsustek View Post
    ...
    The last thing I want to say today is that banning Azirahael was an overreaction and a mistake...
    That is a good thing to admit openly.
    I think this mistake was needed to trigger an improved communication.
    Many people on steam identify themselves with the game itself and their voices at this moment are not fit for the children and frail souls.

    Quote Originally Posted by FallenCat
    And in case CraneBalls hasn't noticed, we're about to start EATING each other on here :P
    - - - Updated - - -

    In defense of Azirahael, I can say that I was browsing one hour ago the Planet Nomads screenshots.

    And for some reason Steam shows on the first page, one posted by Old Gamer.
    I think, does he play again PN?
    Nope, the screenshot is old.
    I check from what game he posted his last screenshots and I notice that are from Eden Star.
    Isn't that the game Azirahael mentioned here as example?
    I go to that forum, the first thread I see is called "Are the updates fake?"
    And Azirahael is the one who is calming people and giving hope to other players.
    https://steamcommunity.com/app/25957...95812291352426

    So communication is important, possibly the most important part when it comes to sell a dream.
    Do that well developers!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by martinsustek View Post
    Any false information could lead to lowering sales and therefore to making the decision. And this is just the one and only thing that you can cause by making or nourishing those speculations. We hope this is not your intention.

    We want our game to be playable for masses, not just the biggest fans. This might look like doing nothing for fans but everyone will profit from game being more popular.
    Happy to hear from you :-)

    But between the lines you keep my suspicions upright that I wrote about in another thread that there is some problem with PN not being well accepted in the social media.
    There were again very new unjustified bad reviews on Steam which all seem to be posted at the same time by a similar group of people so it seems to be either mobbing or trolling.
    Each time you get a series of good reviews obviously written by people with a clear head there come those others using a different language and shoot the good ones out of the "newest" list.

    I do not think that it is your fault in any way !!!!!!!!
    I cannot understand who started it and keeps it up and especially why but there should be SOME reason. Market strategy? Money rivalry?

    As PN is still your pet and ours too there is some counteracting needed if we all want to keep this really promising game up until final release.
    Because as you mentioned - sell numbers are important and if some clique tries to get sell numbers of PN down by these methods that is very bad for the future.

    So perhaps you find soon someone - perhaps outside the programmers team - who wants to engage himself a little bit in lobbying and takes that task off your shoulders.

    Sorry that I plus the voice of my partner have criticized some features lately - but only here at your own forum where those Steam people do not come to - we always keep the flag up at Steam!

    It is just that we are really worried about what is going on so we speak openly what to my and my gaming partners mind needs changing for the game to become such a success that it will be immune to further attacks.

  16. #16
    Kickstarter Builder Nomad Azirahael's Avatar
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    Hello Martin. Thank you for unbanning me. However, being banned, or even temporarily banned, was not the issue for me.
    It was the situation, and your handling of it.

    I do not know what your actual situation is.
    You could be going great guns.
    Or failing miserably, and one step from everyone losing their jobs.
    We just don't know.

    And as i said, we have all seen EA games fail.
    And when they do, they do so in some very common ways.
    And you boys, girls and others, are fitting the profile very closely.

    I don't want you to fail, on a personal level, or on a 'give me my cool game' level.
    But if you want to avoid constant 'is this company dying?' comments, you need to avoid doing the things that are done, by companies that ARE dying.

    Classics include: locking, deleting or banning any kind of question into the health of the game, development or company. [Don't do that.]
    Radio silence. [Even if there's nothing really new to tell, a simple post will do a lot. 'progress continues on X, Y, and Z from the last post. We think we might have something to show you in a couple of weeks. Here are some screenshots.']
    Denying that anything is wrong. [this is a big one.]
    Not interacting with forums. [ only really a problem when combined with the above.]
    Updates slow or stop. [This happens anyway, when big changes happen, and is only a problem when you combine it with the others.]

    suggestion: get a communications manager. Even a communications or advertising student from a local university would be a start.
    you don't have to do much, just look alive.

    Do what Eden Star does: have each team member jot down one single paragraph about the progress they made during the week. Even if it's technical.
    And have someone compile, spell-check and release them with a few screenies each week.
    Done. Signs of life.

    Sorry if the post caused any damage. But if you are going great guns, a post questioning that, is not a threat.
    It's only a threat if you really are teetering on the edge of the abyss.

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