We are now nearing 16:00 on Summer’s clock. Just a few more hours now on the clock until Fall hits us. Where is my Shroud of the Avatar Alpha client? Richard Garriott said that Shroud of the Avatar Alpha would be here “by summer.” What does that even mean though, it is pretty vague, is it here for Summer or some time before Summer expires?
Either way this game is long overdue so why is it taking so long? What is the problem? Some people in the SotA community are fond of telling us how Portalarium are under staffed, or behind, or whatever based on the fact that Shroud of the Avatar hasn’t raised enough money from the community. Well. Star Citizen raised an ungodly amount of money, and they are well behind release also. Why? Scope Creep.
Scope creep (also called requirement creep, function creep and feature creep) in project management refers to uncontrolled changes or continuous growth in a project’s scope. This can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled. It is generally considered harmful.
That is fairly easy to understand isn’t it. Come on Membrane, you just hate us and Shroud and everything we like about it. No, I am not, and I will easily show you one simple example of what is creeping up Shroud of the Avatar’s project skirt.
Click THIS IMAGE of the Shroud of the Avatar Kickstarter Stretch Goals. Linked directly from Kickstarter and unmodified by myself in any way. Now, please point to Player Owned Towns on the list. Take your time, I’ll wait…
Ok, I’m back, where are Player Owned Towns on the Kickstarter Stretch Goal list? You can’t find it? Well that is ok I couldn’t either and now you have your answer. Portalarium are spending at least some of their development time on something I, as an original Kickstart supporter, did not invest in. This is very simple folks, it doesn’t even matter how much time has been spent on the POTs because the answer should have been zero and it is not. It doesn’t even matter why the devs decided to do it, they should never have allowed PoTs to come into existence, they are not a KickStart promise or Stretch Goal.
Player Towns have unforeseen circumstances on the game and they are unforeseen because what do we even know about them? Nothing for certainty except how much they actually cost. Just how Portalarium likes it, you buy and take all the risk. To top that off Devs are actually spending time to help certain members customize their POTs! There are many issues with PoTs, this is but the iceberg.
Go on my little flowers, tell me one more time that POTs haven’t detracted from having this game’s delivery timeline accurate. I’ll smack you in yer purdy mouf if you do because you’d deserve it. This is but one example and I am sure you can take that KS Stretch Goal image and compare it to what is currently being worked on, talked about on the Forum, and find a few others.
La revedere bros!
A dead end street is a good place to turn around.
Stretch Goals. Stretch Goals… It is no small topic, and no small matter. I do tend to shy away from issues such as these, I can’t write well enough to do them justice and it is kind of like throwing a fucking small piece of shale at a freight train in the end.
Lets briefly examine what a “classical” definition of a stretch goal is. I have dealt with project managers in the past who have applied stretch goals to projects. They are bullshit. They are usually items on a list which are unquestionably not obtainable. Nobody questions it, they just are not possible with the actual resources at hand. Unless! Some genius happens to come up with some new way or workaround to the goal. The thing is, it still requires taking that person(s) off the real scope of the project to focus in some way on the out of scope goals. It isn’t hard to understand why this is bad 999 times out of 1,000.
Now let us examine what the new age gaming Stretch Goal is, or what I thought it was anyway when you apply it to something online like a Kickstart project. You get a group of smart people together, they talk, circle jerk, and put together a business plan. This business plan would include such things as a budget, timelines, resource allocations and what have you. This is done in order to give you an idea as to what the game is going to cost to produce in the time window in which those items in the plan fit best into. When you have that figure increase it by about 15%, round up to a number people’s brains like, and then nail down your Kickstart page with project goal number up there. Great, you know how much you need to do the game with your plan. Getting a lot of cash quick? Going to meet your goal? Or is money slowing down a bit, and you’d love some additional 100s to burn? Stretch Goal time fuckers. So add to your plan a special item using the same framework you’ve already had in order to drum up the current one, then add 15%, round up bla bla you’ve read it before, and you have your first Stretch Goal. Rinse and repeat as much as you would like.
Now that is how I thought it was suppose to work, not only that but I thought stretch goals were fucking over when the Kickstart was over. I wasn’t aware of any before SotA that continued to use the term Stretch Goal post-kickwinningly(TM). Online stores where they continue to sell shit and use it for dev work, sure, but not Stretch Goals. Shroud of the Avatar seem to be taking the meaning of the term Stretch Goal, casting transformation on it until a horse popped up and just beat the living fuck out of that mother with a smelly ass fish until there was nothing left. Why? Well, how about a picture, they seem to be worth 1,000 words.
Taken from Stretch Goal Store
There are SO many things wrong with just this one picture. I can’t even be mad at it! It is obviously a joke. Let us examine shortly.
“…If this stretch goal is met, players will be able to ride non-combat horse mounts in game.”
I’m shaking my head right now. 250,000 as a “Stretch Goal” in a medieval fantasy game to ride a horse after the project was already Kickstarted. Shameful. Let us actually just set this one aside because there is an ENTIRE topic which is probably about to be cleaned out on the Shroud of the Avatar forum along those lines of value. Moving on, you can see they have already laid out some limitations and features!
“There will be some kind of summon mount emote / key”
“When mount appears you automatically vault into the saddle”
“Cannot fight while mounted. If you are hit / enter combat while on horseback you are kocked from your horse”
“Mounts cannot be ridden indoors or underground.”
What the actual fuck? If the Horse “Stretch Goal” is just that, a Stretch Goal, then how the hell would anyone know what it can and cannot do yet! I am positive they aren’t jumping the gun and planning a head here because with SotA that just doesn’t happen and get exposed to the community at the same time, real planning is done behind closed doors with Dallas, some cute Austin hookers with lines of coke on their ass cracks. I doubt very much I’m reading into this incorrectly also. They either already have put this stuff together or bought and applied it to some QA build out there and know how to operate it all.
So, Membrane you so smart, why don’t they just give us horses now and take the goal down? Well fuck that because as with almost every other interface the community has had with or into Shroud of the Avatar’s development, it is simply just a dead end. What bothers me most about the entire thing is that there is no proper plan in place obviously. I don’t think that it is beyond reason at this point to suggest that some or all of those goals will never be met. What then happens, or is already happening, to the money submitted towards those goals? Fucked if I know! Fucked if you do too! Hence, no proper plan.
I would like to take some credit for saying that these SotA “Stretch Goals” were created to shut some of the more constantly complaining douche bags up about certain game aspects and that they were deliberately created with the mind of them not being able to be met but I can’t locate that anywhere on my blog. Maybe someone else said it or I was just thinking it, in any case someone has this well covered:
“These prices are insane, and are most likely the number one reason no one is paying for them. Don’t forget, they are all completely seperate. Real stretch goals, like the ones applied during kickstarter, are inclusive. Add more money to the project, and it gets included in the stretch goal consideration for all stretch goals… but not here. If I decided to add ten thousand dollars for a mount, I would still be no closer to flexible lot placement.
I have no doubt Port is fully aware of this, which is why I believe they don’t actually want any of the goals to be met. (Too much work on their end. But at least they can say they offered it!)”
i had your mom bro
This is all very shady. This is fucking shit that only the most hard core fan boys can defend and why for the most part I have been silent on the matter. I want SotA to succeed so I can win it and destroy all those fanboys, I do not want it to fail at all. But this shit? No, this makes me want to “get the hose again” if you know what I’m saying.
The only thing that I have come across so far in this SotA project which was as bad, maybe worse, than this was when the Trailer came out. I swear to christ when I heard the Guardian’s voice again it nearly brought a tear to my eye. Only to be chased away by disbelief at the end where the Guardian started to prattle on and plug the SotA online store. That was pretty fucked up, and this is all making me wonder if the game will make it into the fifth and final episode or…Will they simply crank the first episode out which completes the majority of their kickstart promise and then cancel and refund some of the rest?
This level of dishonesty and secrecy for lack of better words cannot stand, there is more to the topic but I’ve had enough for now and then some. See the link above where you can read a lot of stuff on this.