Stardock’s Response to PC Gamer UK and RPS

By on August 25, 2010 1:52:32 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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There was an article posted earlier today on PC Gamer UK outlining some of the frustrations that the reviewer had with the pre-day 0 version of the game as well as a problem he was having with tactical battles.

In the article, he quoted an inflammatory forum posting I made on a site I participate in called Quarter to Three.  This is a site I’ve been a participant in for many years and many of the people I discuss things on there are personal friends of mine. 

During one such exchange with my friend Ben Sones, I angrily responded with a statement “Ben, please stay away from our games in the future. I consider it ready for release and if others disagree, don’t buy our games.”

This comment was totally out of line and I apologize for it. It was made in the heat of a ~2000 comment long thread and is not how I honestly feel. Ben’s a friend of mine and his comment that the game felt like a “beta” to him upset me and I responded inappropriately.  I post a lot on many forums and unfortunately, sometimes the things I say are inappropriate or inflammatory.

As the CEO of Stardock, I want to be clear that my comments on the Quarter to Three forums do not reflect my team at large. They were words spoken out of frustration and sleep deprivation and I am truly sorry. We stand behind what we feel is a great product, one that we will continue to support for a number of years.

With regards to a post on Rock Paper Shot Gun, which picked up the PC Gamer UK story, they erroneously point to a 2+ year old URL to a Stardock news item that is no longer active (we switched news systems a year or so ago). Their article falsely implies that we have stepped away from our commitment to the Gamer’s Bill of Rights.

The site, www.gamersbillofrights.org was set up and is run by Stardock. We stand by it.  It is, with some irony, our commitment to no DRM on our DVD release that ultimately caused the rough pre-release experience of Elemental. Several retailers broke the street date and we felt we needed to release our gold version to our customers who had pre-ordered from us as well as to our beta community that helped make the game the outstanding strategy game that it is. 

However, it also became clear that the pre-day 0 version of the game was problematic as outlined in the PC Gamer UK article. The official day 0 version of the game, what is available right now, should address most, if not all the issues that have been described.  That said, as is our long-standing policy, we will continue to release updates and improvements Elemental just as we do for the other titles we develop.

I anticipate us putting out regular updates for Elemental for months or years to come based on player feedback, suggestions, and yes, bug reports.

I hope this offers some explanation as to the events that have come up. I sincerely apologize and feel terrible for the effect my forum posting on Qt3 may have had not just on our fans but also my team that has worked incredibly hard over the past 3 years to produce what we hope, is a game that you will enjoy for years to come.

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August 25, 2010 2:00:51 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I hope this experience does not deter you from posting on the forums. It is rare to find a developer, let alone a CEO, that communicates with fans on a regular basis.

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August 25, 2010 2:00:59 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Updates I like, reason I'm actually sticking with you in this because the only companies I trust are the ones that commit to their products. Paradox, Bioware (Yes they do patch for years which some of you might not notice =P), Blizzard (Sure they have the worst community representatives but damn do they patch!) and due to galciv you are pretty much addable to this list.

About your ranting professionally I think you fucked up, never ever say "Do not buy my product". Personally I think you can say that, because really I wouldn't either want to sell a game to someone who doesn't like the genre or something. And yes there are those people who stop playing a game due to a single bug that 99% wouldn't notice

With my rant over I have this hilarious situation in Elemental now, there is a shrills army roaming about with a combat rating of 73108 at 300 turns into the game. Only 2 units as well actually (4432 attack and 910 def in total).

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August 25, 2010 2:02:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for being open and honest about everything, as always.

Most of us don't really care about a disgreement on a forum, but I think what's important right now is that elements of the game that are rough - aspects of the UI, AI, display issues, etc. - get the polish/improvement that they deserve. The proof will be in what Elemental ends up as - Master of Magic is proof that if the game keeps getting love, what started as a bumpy ride can end up as a classic.

 

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August 25, 2010 2:10:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I have to second Marlowwe.  One of the many things I love about Stardock is how active you are on forums.  We're all human; we make mistakes.  Thanks for owning up to one (though I never saw the article, so the apology was preemptive for me!), and for continuing to participate in conversations with all of us!

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August 25, 2010 2:12:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I don't care what Brad said (stressed and tired) I am still getting the game. I am in it for the long term.

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August 25, 2010 2:13:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Takes a good man to acknowledge his own mistakes!

When I saw that quote, I immediately did some digging, and found out that it was taken out of context. Like 95% of quotes that the media puts up. Like someone said on another post, isn't taking quotes out of context a political journalist's job, not a- um- video game journalist's?

There are problem with the games Brad, but your fans know you have a small team, and we know you are going to be working on it for a long time. Keep up the good work!

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August 25, 2010 2:13:42 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I have to say I was disappointed but good to see you can man up and admit you were in the wrong.

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August 25, 2010 2:18:37 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I don't care what Brad said (stressed and tired) I am still getting the game. I am in it for the long term.

 

same here

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August 25, 2010 2:20:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This is a more sincere response than I expect from the people at Rock Paper Shotgun. 

I wonder if they'll rectify their bashfull post. (probably not, alas)

 

Very mature of you,

kudos!

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August 25, 2010 2:20:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Glad to see you responded.  Hopefully this doesn't snowball out of control, I was worried when I saw that this morning, and knowing you were asleep after working all night.

 

One suggestion: in future, should something like this happen, someone on your team should wake you up... 

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August 25, 2010 2:22:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You know that there are some people so bitter and full of hatred (reading some comments, I'd say that it gets into personal area) that no matter what you say or do, won't change anything in their eyes... Welcome to RL!!

Altough I enjoy that you are passionated about what you do and have no shame about treating them as they treat others (and they feel offended!!! LOL), because I prefer that attitude than the "Wall of Silence" from others, it wouldn't be a bad idea to at certain moments reduce that passion (or reducing activity in certain circles to prevent "accidents"). Especially if you are tired!!!

Considering how Stardock works in its games, anyone with some real experience with you should know that there is no real reason to worry about the game. Even if it doesn't work for them right now. Elemental release awful? Hahaha, I have seen worse oneS. Civ IV was certainly worse. The only thing that is a bit weird is the multiplayer delay. Altough I can understand the reasons, I must say that a day 0 paying customer that bought the game for the multiplayer part, would be the paying customer with more reasons to complaint.

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August 25, 2010 2:23:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree with marlowwe on this. Everyone slips up sometimes. We still love you, and don't want you to disappear on us.

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August 25, 2010 2:23:37 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It's a shame this even has to be said. But I guess it's the politics in it all.

Personally my view on Stardock has NOT been diminished at all. On the contrary, seeing their fast response and hard work has nothing but strengthened my respect to an outstanding company. Not to mention the fact they are active on the forums, and do their best to help their customers/fans...something you NEVER see today, on most forums company's have employees that act as a middleman.

Rarely, if not ever, do you see such a dedication and personal touch such as Stardock delivers.

I hope all this mess does not make you, or the others in Stardock, doubt in your direction and way of doing things.

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August 25, 2010 2:23:42 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

im really happy with my purchase from stardock. im only sad I haven't heard of your company before elemental. I got a glimpse of elemental on ign.com and went over to your site to check it out. sounded like some great ideas but the thing that surprised me the most was that you actually take the time to listen and interact with your fans that's what sold me on buying elemental. though im having little problems with the memory leak, I have no doubt you guys will fix the problem and I look forward to many more updates from the company. I hope you keep talking with your fans in the forums cause this is something unheard of which I really appreciate.

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August 25, 2010 2:24:32 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm an occasional Stardock gamer - very occasional - but I follow the news here and there, and I've always liked your company (especially after the crack about Michigan winters in the docs to one of the GCiv games, I forget which one: that was when I decided I had to be a customer in future). 

I was really dismayed to read about this whole flap.  I don't generally buy games early on; I like to wait for patches and price cuts.  But this looked like a nasty turn over an interesting game that I was/am interested in trying out. 

For now I'm happy to wait a bit until everything is sorted out.  I would have done that anyway.  But I wanted to chime in and say that I am happy to read this post, and I'll be glad to pick up Elemental when my time is ripe.  Well done.  Takes a good guy to stand up and say "whoops" without being snarky about it.

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August 25, 2010 2:25:08 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The amount of time you guys have put in the last few days shows your commitment to your customers and your games. I look forward to playing Elemental for years to come, thanks for all the hard work guys.... Now get some sleep.

 

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August 25, 2010 2:25:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think that it's great when devs post frequently on their forums, and believe that this can be of great benefit to their respective communities.

Unfortunately, posting a lot (and maybe especially posting ones mind - something that I personally appreciate) can sometimes lead to situations like this. I hope this issue won't deter you from posting on the forums in the future.

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August 25, 2010 2:31:08 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Most people who don't overreact at the drop of a hat understand what you're going through Frogboy and don't hold what you posted against you.

That having been said, go get some sleep!  A tired dev isn't an effective one.

 

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August 25, 2010 2:31:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As somebody who works with computer software, I myself have sometimes been on the edge to come down on the end customer, if I worked as crazily hard as you guys do to support the community its not strange that sometimes stress gets to you.

Stardock is an excellent example of a great game company and you will always be supported by your fans, beacuse you respect your fans.

Elemental is an excellent game, I sat this morning for 1.5 hour with my 3 year old daughter and design the Soverign Sleeping Beauty, just that moment was priceless to me the way you can customize things is just excellent and the best I have seen in a long long time. When I get home from work we are going to work on building some knights to protect her beacuse those wolfs looks to scary.

Btw she really would like to have more ballerina outfits.

 

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August 25, 2010 2:31:41 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting marlowwe,
I hope this experience does not deter you from posting on the forums. It is rare to find a developer, let alone a CEO, that communicates with fans on a regular basis.

 

I fully agree with this statement.

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August 25, 2010 2:33:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You kept a cooler head than I would have.  I shudder to think what I would have written with that little sleep at someone bashing something that I (and my team) worked that hard on.  Full marks to you for (continually) doing the right thing and (in this case) apologizing. 

Luxx

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August 25, 2010 2:33:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It's funny how journalists always try up the ante on everything. The headline "Elemental’s disastrous launch: stay well away" is typical headlines to get more hits and to get their article read by a lot of people. The game was well beta tested as it had a long semi-open beta period, and I assume a lot of different tester hardware. That bugs still creep in is unfortunate, but I wouldn't call it "disastrous launch: stay well away", maybe "problematic launch: be alert". But I guess that wouldn't get hits to his article.

 

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August 25, 2010 2:34:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I find it weird that a famous gaming mag [PC GAMER] is publishing articles like this....and I am not talking about the bugs/CTDs reported by the author of the article...that is ok. No game is perfect @ release. However the author quoted some parts of one of Froggie's Q3t forum posts in a very pathetic way imo. That is not acceptable.

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August 25, 2010 2:44:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hello !

 

Just want to say: didn't read that 'incident' and won't care to do that, looks not like a big deal ! I played the Before day 0 version and I found it enjoyable! Not exempt of bugs, but what game hasn't at release ?

It's easy to criticize, but few have done what you did! Even were it an epic failure, at least you tried. But the game looks great !

The release of your game is a moment of joy! Don't let anyone spoil it! You and the team worked hard for it and you definitely need some well-earned rest if you fail to see that

So, Congratulations again ! Thank you and the team for the hard work and the commitment!!! I don't have the time to show more my appreciation, I have a game to play

 

 

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August 25, 2010 2:44:56 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

No sweat!  You guys certainly put up with us when we post negative comments or complaints about features.  It's part of the process we live in now.  Information is so readily available that we don't always have time to process or cool off when responding.

 

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