Quoting Valkrionn, reply 122
Of course some blame goes to everyone involved. My point is that attributing the lion's share of the blame to people who more than likely had very little to do with the issues is ridiculous. And saying that he should have left with a partially completed game... No, that really would be worth blaming him for. Instead, he did his utmost best in order to release the game in the best state he could, under whatever restrictions he was subject to.
That's what "lead" means. It means you accept fully all responsibility for a project's success and/or failure. If you ("the Lead") aren't comfortable with that or with the direction certain project-compromises are taking you then you have the option of doing the RESPONSIBLE thing which is to leave. I have in my line of work worn a few different hats at times as well and have been project-lead more times than I care to remember. There were also cases where I refused to be "lead" and others yet where I dumped the role once the "compromises" made it impossible for me to remain responsible to the project in question. Everyone always has a choice. That is my only point. Anyone accepting the role of project-lead and then not fully accepting the failures (if there are any) that come up is simply ducking responsiblity.
Case in point. Stardock released Elemental unfinished. Plain and simple (and yes I know the myriad of threads which have beaten this topic to death.....threads I read but stayed silent about because I've always had the utmost respect for Brad and co.). However......and this is a big however.......I lost some of that respect for Brad when he kept dancing around the point of whether or not he actually broke a promise made in the GBOR. Sorry brad, but you should have simply said "YES" I did break my own GBOR a long long time ago......all the dancing around the bush made me lose faith in your "promises". A simple IMMEDIATE admission to that fact would have gone a long way in retaining some goodwill with those of us who aren't just simple mindless fanboi-material.
I'm sorry Monk that I find that claim unreasonable. One only needs to do a Google search to find where I personally accepted responsibility for Elemental's poor state at launch. Over. And Over. And over again.
Elemental was finished on launch. It just wasn't a very good game and it was very buggy. We didn't know it was buggy. If you want to argue that I'm lying about that then there's really nothing else to discuss is there? The whole process that the games went through internally (as opposed to our non-games) was just poor. Period.
The infrastructure was not in place to handle a game project the size of Elemental. But this wasn't due to us not finishing it. It was finished. If the game had gotten another 6 months of dev time, it would have still been a buggy mess because it was a development process issue. You of all people should be familiar with how software projects can fail if the development process is broken.
Do you think that PC manufacturers who ship crummy pre-load software that's buggy, slow, and constantly crashing thought their software "wasn't finished"? No. They just didn't have a proper development process in place to ensure quality.
Moreover, the GBOR (http://www.gamersbillofrights.org) has no concept of "finished" because it's too subjective. A very early draft had lots of vaguaries like that but it was streamlined back in 2008 by Chris Taylor and myself prior to Demigod being released to be less vague.
Instead, and as the co-author and co-signer of said document, it is set up as (wait for it) a list of RIGHTS for GAMERS. Game developers and publishers cannot grant these rights nor take them away. The rights belong to the gamer inherently in our opinion. Hence: The GAMER'S bill of rights.
That is why each statement is provided as a right that a gamer has:
1. Gamer shall have the right to return games to the publisher that are incompatible or do not function at a reasonable level of performance for a full refund within a reasonable amount of time.
Did we not support this right? Not only did we give full refunds to users who had technical problems with the game we even gave partial refunds to people who simply didn't like the game and didn't want to be bothered to even talk to tech support.
2. Gamers shall have the right that the games they purchase shall function as designed without technical defects that would materially affect the player experience. This determination shall be made by the player.
Again, this is a right that GAMERS have. It is not a right that publishers or developers give. It is left to the game player to determine whether this criteria is met. Thus if a game fails for a given player (and Elemental did for a lot of people) then they go back to item #1. Every game will have technical defects for some % of users. There is no objective threshold here.
Each of the additional rights works the same way. Games should not do X. If they do, then GOTO item #1.
In effect, The GBOR is a consumer protection policy.
People forget that when this was written, the typical PC gaming experience was Starforce on the CD, games that wouldn't load for lots of people because they either were incompatible or flagrantly not finished (not buggy but I mean, you couldn't even finish the game because it had never been played through) and if a user ran into this, tough luck. No returns.
The GBOR isn't some empty vessel for people to fill with their own personal agenda. It doesn't promise that a game won't be buggy or that a game will be "good" (whatever that means in some universal sense). It makes no promises whatsoever. It is simply a state of rights -- a state of expectations that gamers should have and a pathway to a cure if their expectations are not met.
The GBOR is a good thing for our industry. It is good for gamers. it is good for studios. It is good for publishers. But it is not good when consumers warp it into something it is not.
I cannot promise to anyone that a given piece of PC software will work flawlessly on their computer. All I can do is promise that if a given piece of software WE make fails to work on their computer that they can return it for a full refund. Next time you buy a computer game digitally (like say from Steam) try returning it and see how that works out for you even if it doesn't work for you. Many publishers explicitly state that there are no refunds under any circumstances. You buy it, it's yours.
Getting back on topic here:
Every game that a given person doesn't like has a different reason for why it is the way it is. There is no universal standard here. The same team that wrote Galactic Civilizations II all the way through Twilight of the Arnor worked on Elemental. Same people + new people. Twilight of the Arnor is one of the highest rated games of all time. Many consider it the best 4X game of the modern era. Elemental, by contrast, was awful on launch. I designed both. I was heavily involved in the design of Sins of a Solar Empire and Demigod and some people love those games and others hate them and they've very different games.
In other words, there are a lot of different factors that make a game a "success" or "failure". Sometimes when a game doesn't meet expectations it's because of bad design. Sometimes it's publisher interference (i.e. "notes from corporate"). Sometimes it's a personnel problem. Sometimes it's a process problem.
I took responsibility for Elemental's poor launch because fundamentally, it was a problem of development process. Project Management, QA process, and design implementation. Another game we make that some people like and others don't is The Political Machine. The people who don't like that game don't like it because of its design. It was released precisely in tune with the game design. Each time it's different.
I'm going to lock this thread in a few minutes because frankly, this thread is embarrassing. It makes our community look petty and bad and is not representative of what the Stardock community is capable of. Our community, overall, is much better than this normally.
We are passionate gamers. But we should remember that there are human beings on the other side of these screens. I've had people tell me I should kill myself because they didn't like Elemental. Let's sit back and not dwell on some disappointment in the past. I've already approved a full game team budget for Elemental for 2011. We're releasing v1.11 today. There's a lot to look forward to. Character assassination is only detrimental to all parties involved so let's move on okay?
Hope this helps.