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  1. #1
    Superbacker netnazgul's Avatar
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    My thoughts on Stoic campaign

    Wanted to give this thread some title, but every idea on it was either too pretentious or too lame, so just that :P
    Also, I'm sorry for those who will be brave enough to read through the whole text as it has definitely become way too big and unformatted. Thank you in advance, you were warned

    Well, now as The Banner Saga ships to user's personal computers [with triumph] I want to share my view on the whole campaign of our fellow developers from Stoic Studio who did a good job presenting us the game. I don't probably remember some parts of it as almost 2 years have passed since the beginning, so anyone who spots a blatant lie, slander, false accusations or anything else of this kind can cast a stone (or preferrably something much softer that it) at me.

    For me this campaign began somewhere in the middle of April 2012. We've just discovered a new trend of crowd-funding games at Kickstarter (my first kickstarter was Wasteland sequel by Brian Fargo / remains of Interplay a week before) together with my friends. Actually it was my friend who made me into backing the Banner Saga (as he then said he just wanted to have someone to play viking tactical strategy with). I've skimmed through the project description, not really THAT impressed with the game, but that was only $10 fur a full version of the game and it concerned a then-dying tactical strategy genre so I decided to give it a try and made my pledge.

    Here between the lines I should also mention that I couldn't connect my Visa card to Amazon so I needed to use my friend to pledge the games for me every time. If anyone of kickstarter devteam reads it - please add some better payment options

    After that I've joined the forums too as I checked for any other interesting info. Back then I felt really small there compared to people heavily hyped with the game (people like gaelvin (here and further I can make horrendous mistakes in people's names, you know the drill) who drew the crests, different kinds of discussions concerning the story and all that sort of stuff).
    Anyway at that point nothing really interesting happened there, so for several months it was just some occasional updates and forum peeks time to time (also Euro2012 happened there so there wasn't a lot of time for me to follow too). Probably you can now predict the point no return for me in this campaign, this was of course the release of Factions Beta in late October.

    I should mention now that I have some weakness for good strategies, especially online ones (most of that was hampered by lack of [good] internet connection for some time though), and for some time I've noticed that actually I'm more into forums, chatting and contacting with people from those games more than actually playing them. So this happened with me and Factions too - I was dragged into it completely after full release in February so that until the Factions decline the only real obstacle for me to play Factions and attend forums was my work vacation when I just had no PC with me.

    So what's with Factions and community? The game itself was very laggy and stormy at that time as you can remember, the content wasn't full enough. But the possibilities the game itself offered were huge - it was just like online chess competing system, but ten times prettier and with vikings! Why should anyone not like such a thing? Well, not really a lot of people play games that involve thinking these days, but anyway.

    Concerning selling Factions Beta. I've missed the late parts of Factions Beta testing so I wasn't around when it happened. But for me now it looks like a bad practice. I'm in general negative about offering players to become beta-testers and force them to pay for it (sadly I'm in minority here as Early Access games became a regular thing and they are way out of control, offering very little and sometime demanding a price larger than a finished product). especially that Factions was then planned to be a freeware. In the end it caused more confusion with people thinking that they pay for a single player game release (and this issue is backfiring even now) than it helped funding (not that I'm familiar with the numbers, but that looks very likely). But on the other side this sale gave us people like Tirean, who offered a lot of comprehensive feedback on the game to the point that much of combat and abilities was ammended just only on his thoughts on it (I hope I'm not overreacting here ).

    Back in Factions - we had an great time in spring 2013, when devs weren't fully into Saga and introduced weekly changes into the game, making the game flowing. Since that time I think that my pledge was fully paid by Stoic. Even if the single player game wasn't being released (and we see it actually is), I would be satisfied with Factions. I know that many backers don't share my view here, most of them even being quite angry on Stoic working with multiplayer instead of doing what they were expected to do (at least as those gamers fancied the KS campaign). I'm sorry for them if they weren't content on this matter as I was. For me it was much more than I expected, having in mind that there is Saga to be released in future too.

    So here it dragged from there till the late autumn when the development reached its final stages. Now it's clear how much work guys at Stoic needed to do between "Finished game" and "Released game" stages. So they've shared some of that burden with more competent people on this matter, Versus Evil. These guys started to justify the trust with by contacting tons of reviewers and spreading the word around the internet in many ways. Sometimes they were overacting a bit, not being in tune with Stoic as we backers (or maybe it's just me) felt, but then VE wasn't with Stoic from the beginning and they are still learning, so can't blame them. Made a great job on marketizing the project and part of contributing Saga [onward] success should definitely be done to them.

    Somewhere here goes the end and TL;DR of this topic. For those people who were left unhappy after the campaign - noone can be perfect and no man or a group of people can fulfill a dream of everyone (or a dream of 20K people in our case). Most of indie games (and most of great and popular forever be remembered games too) are made by gamers for themselves, and that approach includes making selfish and stubborn decisions on development. That makes the games specialized and special, but that can also make some people who had other ideas disappointed. I myself am disappointed in Godus project for example and some people are actually very happy about it. That's the way it is made, I can't blame them for that.

    Here some words should be said about Kickstarter platform too. Year 2012 was a Klondike of indie game development, not a small part due to Kickstarter (or vice versa, this topic will probably be another chicken-egg debate in future). But it quickly got out of control with developers realizing they can get money on developing the game right from the players and before they really release that game. Now is the time people get disappointed with it after KS projects get cancelled and/or not offering most of what was expected from them. The thing is both developers and backers got a lot of false expectations from it. Planned as a platform for patronage and helping people making their ideas come true, Kickstarter spiralled into being a free betatesting and cheap money source for developers and pre-ordering system for backers, both of that being wrong. Most people think that after they made a pledge, the team should by all means without fail offer them just the thing they dreamt off, and every other person has the whole different set of dreams rendering the whole project impossible to satisfy everyone. I think that's not what Kickstarter is or not what it should be. It's about providing someone means of realizing their dreams without indemnity, but with being somewhat involved in the process (that should really be the main part!) and to become a mutual benefit in the future. The word "pledge" says it all, and developers make their pledge to deliver something to backers to - pledge, not obligation. It's their reputation that is at stake here. I hope Kickstarter will survive until becoming exactly this - a hand of help, not a hand of demand.

    Update 1:Something absolutely vital I forgot to mention here. The feedback! What really drove everyone (and me of course) into all this was that Stoic guys were having a constant contact with people. And by that I mean not the usual KS updates, but their overall presense in forums and chat. It's one thing when you worship some godlike people far way that make a great game. It's completely other story when you're talking trash in chat with those people and have an awareness of them being usual people like you (of course not like you, they're greater cause they made such a game ).

    Summarizing all my bragging above - thank you Stoic for making all this come true, it's been a pleasure being a small part of your project all the way. You made some people happier in this world for sure and that's definitely a great achievement. Not parting ways with you of course and looking forward on your further projects. Although for now you've earned a bit of a holiday
    Last edited by netnazgul; 01-14-2014 at 06:49 AM. Reason: strangely I forgot something vital... :D
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  2.   This is the last staff post in this thread.   #2
    Developer raven2134's Avatar
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    A great post Arnie incoming in a little bit. Really liked how you concluded with your thoughts on Kickstarter in the year 2012.

    As a fellow backer who really got into the game (to the point I've gone from green to yellow - an inside joke the regulars around here are familiar with), I've felt very similarly about kickstarter. It's about being part of something bigger and being able to contribute to making someone's vision and dream happen. The great thing is, by helping developers/project creators on KS, we can bring things to the world, whereas without that support it would have never happened.

    Yes there are cases where backers overstep those bounds, and when developers/project makers don't live up to their commitment and promises (which is a key thing because a pledge is in itself a promise). However, I think the really incredible thing about The Banner Saga and Stoic is that even at the point they made their pitch it was clear what they wanted to set out to do. Along the way they lived up to what they promised and the vision they committed to. And finally, after that long and exciting journey, here we are on launch day, with the game and as someone who could contribute to the point of volunteering feedback and some QA time, it's even more than what they initially set out to do. That small seed of an idea really bore fruit into a grand and fun game (well it had to, they did get that much more money from the KS).

    Congrats Stoic, Backers, and community members! GG

  3. #3
    Backer Slimsy Platypus's Avatar
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    The kickstarter has been a great experience for me to participate in! I'm soooooo glad stoic set out to make this and I've been nose deep in saga all day. Stoic set a high bar for themselves and did not disappoint. I'm so excited for them and I know it's still early, but it looks like game one is going to be a success

  4. #4
    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    Thanks netnazgul! A very nice write-up, although a little extended... We could call it "The netnazgul mini-Saga"

    I especially enjoyed the personal details, and how the TL;DR appears at the 60-70% of the text
    Together we stand, divided we fall.

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