Hi everybody. I want to apologize for the delayed response from me on recent announcement of Spacebase v1.0. Most of Double Fine’s publishing staff and I are currently attending Fantastic Arcade in Austin, TX, and have been trying our best to keep up with the situation via our phones while we’re on the road. But now that I finally have time to sit down with a laptop, I’d like to answer some representative questions we’ve seen on these forums.
Here’s the first question!
“How about an ACTUAL explanation of what happened behind the scenes?”
We started Spacebase with an open ended-production plan, hoping that it would find similar success (and therefore funding) to the alpha-funded games that inspired it. Some of its early sales numbers indicated this might be the case, but slowly things changed, and it became clear that this was looking like a year and a half of production instead of five or so. With each Alpha release there was the hope that things would change, but they didn’t. We put every dime we made from Spacebase back into Spacebase, and then we put in some more. Obviously, spending more money than we were making isn’t something we can afford to do forever. So, as much as we tried to put off the decision, we finally had to change gears and put Spacebase into finishing mode and plan for version 1.0.
“What happened to the devplan? What happened to the beta stage? How can ANY game go from Alpha 6 to a “finished” 1.0?”
In traditional development, “Beta” refers to a time when no new features are added but bugs are fixed. Things are different in early access where the game is in players’ hands at an earlier state, so the team has been fixing bugs all along as features are added. In the remaining dev time, there will be both bug fixes and new features so it’s true—calling it “beta” is a little inaccurate. But the amount of time fixing bugs is comparable to that of a traditionally-developed game.
“I thought you said you weren’t going to silently pull the plug?”
We are not silently pulling the plug. We are announcing our finishing features and v1.0 plan. I know it’s not a lot of advance notice, but we’re still here telling you our plan instead of vanishing quietly in the night.
“If you were going to end development, why didn’t you tell us sooner?”
One of the biggest lessons we have learned in this, our first early access title, is about communication. There should have been more communication to the players about the state of the game, and we apologize for that. But for us, it was never clear whether development was going to end because we always hoped that the next update would turn it around and allow us to extend development. So I suppose, ultimately, the answer was we always had hope we weren’t going to end it, until the end.
“Why put the game on sale (while internally knowing that development of the game was stopping)?”
Frequent sales are part of the Steam marketplace. We’ve had multiple sales throughout the game’s early access period in attempts to create a bigger audience for the game. As for the version of the game that people bought in this most recent sale, we are still working on it, fixing bugs and adding the final features to make the 1.0 version of Spacebase a fun and complete game.
I understand that the recent announcement was a disappointment. It was for you, and it was for us. We wanted to keep working on Spacebase for years. But Spacebase spends more money than it brings in, and that’s just not something we can afford to do any more. Set up against the expectation of the game being in development as long as Prison Architect or Dwarf Fortress, it’s hard not to find fault in the game by comparison. But we continued to sell the game, and will continue to sell the game, because we feel that based solely on its own merits, Spacebase DF9 is still a fun, clever, hilarious, beautiful and complete game.
It’s hard for me to see JP and his team get eviscerated on these forums, after I’ve watched them put their blood, sweat, and tears into Spacebase for the last year and a half. Telling you that they are hard-working and talented developers who toiled in good faith to create this unique work of entertainment probably isn’t going to change your minds about how you feel about this game. But I hope you might at least consider that no one is more disappointed than them that they will not be able to work on this game for years and years to come for reasons mostly out of their control.
We have stumbled awkwardly through some new territory with this game, and in terms of early access communication we fell short. But we are still proud of the game in the end, and are happy to have it on the roster of Double Fine titles. I hope you are able to reserve judgment on version 1.0 until it comes out, and then enjoy it for the unique and entertaining experience that it is.
Thanks for reading, and thank you for playing Spacebase.