Saturday, 28 June 2014

Artix Entertainment review, Extra 1.0

Note: Extras in a review series means more commentary than what I initially planned to write about. This is a rebuttal towards Cysero's justification on why HeroSmash and AE's other games were abandoned, as well as what little contact I made with him on Twitter.

A commentary on "Abandonware" Entertainment.

I had the opportunity to interact briefly with Cysero on Twitter yesterday. When he said that a new project was too ambitious for Artix Entertainment at the moment, I asked him if he wanted to go back and revise old projects.

His reply? "Hardly. Time to conceive of smaller, less ambitious and lengthy projects and keep moving forward."

Well, this implies that you're ignoring your older works, no? Even if you claim MechQuest is finished and "beta" is just a word when it comes to phases of development. It's known that AE's planning is notoriously fast and loose, to put it mildly. Might be why AQWorlds took 6 years to finish its major storyline.

Original AQ took about 2 years to finish the Carnax Saga, a major storyline I played through from 2005 to 2006. The Devourer story continued shortly after, "ending" in 2007. Then again, the company back then didn't see the need to insert celebrity sequences like Disney's musicals.

Cysero also claims that AE's mistake is to remain on the web and not go mobile. I suppose if you can make completed projects that don't need frequent updates like Battlegems, you can go mobile. But you want a commitment of weekly releases for your browser games at the same time. Can you have your cake and eat it too?

Now, for some choice quotes from the Design Notes post itself:

"Let's say that you have a boat. The boat has a hole. If the boat takes on water faster than you can bail it out... you have to swim away or drown. A game gets the attention that it can afford. The more popular the game, the more development it gets. If a game gets no support from the players... the game bleeds out and development stops."

Avalina: Interesting analogy. Go on.

"The raging torrent of players that we started with became a river, then a stream, then a creek, then a trickle. The game was in freefall and no matter what we did, the game couldn't make enough to support the team. We can't keep a team of 15 working on a game that isn't bringing in any money to support the company so slowly the size of the team was reduced, smaller and smaller until now only Randor and a few volunteers are there to keep the lights on for the VERY small number of players who play HeroSmash (and even smaller number who pay to support it). There are days when the game makes nothing at all. Even a roadside tomato stall makes more than that.

People accuse AE of giving up on HeroSmash (and a few games in similar situations), but the truth of the matter is that the players left us no choice. We stuck around and tried to keep people interested in HeroSmash LONG after we reasonably should have but you can't keep that up forever."

Avalina: Err, because you hadn't drafted a storyline contingency plan for what happens if say, the villains win every single war? Instead focusing on AQWorlds and its celeb events?
Besides, responsibility goes both ways (player AND admin). You didn't promote your other games as much as AQWorlds. I doubt you can disclose how much revenue BroadwayQuest makes, but would it be enough to support the abandonware's revival if you ever get around to it?

"All that said, the older and less popular games AREN'T GOING ANYWHERE! Artix has promised that the games would stay open for as long as possible and he means to keep that promise. Even if development has stopped on a game it will remain open until we can literally no longer afford to run the servers, even if it means keeping them going at a slight loss."

Avalina: Finally, a redeeming point. Your company hasn't gone entirely money-minded like the big names, who would have shut down their "failures" as soon as it proved to be too much work.

"I'm going to say this again. I'm GLAD that all of our games have a free option so that people can have fun in them when they can't afford to support it. BUT, if you like one of our games and you want to see it prosper and grow then get your friends to play. If the game's continuation is a priority for you then support it if you can. Don't just complain that the updates have stopped when it is within YOUR power to change that."

Avalina: Cysero, Cysero, Cysero, the staff can also help out by promoting the abandonware more often. Players alone would be but a small margin when your abandonware isn't even polished enough for even gaming celebs to take a look! I doubt  Markiplier or Pewdiepie would review abandonware that hasn't got a refined gameplay, nor an unfinished story where the developers have no intention of bringing the game out to show.

Even if we can somehow attract outsiders to play your abandonware, they will probably leave while saying "Why should we bother with a project the admins clearly can't be bothered to update?"

In conclusion, I believe that AE staff should at least recycle their characters if they're not interested in restarting their abandonware. It's a waste to let original characters rot just because you're focusing on new projects. After all, how many people know who Demolicious and Luigi daVinci are? Their rivalry in HeroSmash could be extended to an idea like a puzzle game or a runner a la Angry Gran Run or "Nun Attack: Run and Gun."

But I'll let AE decide what type of game they could reuse the HeroSmash characters in. I hope that the forgotten characters are given a chance to shine again.

January 2015 edit: My suspicions about BroadwayQuest making just enough to support the other games has been proven in this particular dev post.

I asked in the comments:
Well, I can see where you're coming from, but I have one more question: Does what AQWorlds make ALSO support your other games, being the biggest celeb portal besides being a game too? Just a yes or no will suffice.
 Cysero replied:
 Yes. A few of the games don't make enough to support themselves and the money to supplement them has to come from somewhere so it's an additional strain on AQW.
We'll see if the company once harbored any intentions to save their characters if I get another question answered.

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