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Paranautical Activity Cancels Co-Op And Draws More Ire For Early Access

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I assume I am not alone in seeing the hate that Early Access has been getting from some sources recently.

Well, the latest game to stoke the fire has been set off by CodeAvarice, developers of Paranautical Activity, a game that we have featured previously that combines both FPS and Rougelike gameplay features.

The game has already had something of a checkered past, having started out as a Desura Alphafunding title which then ran into trouble when trying to get onto Steam over a snafu with their initial Greenlight campaign. They later were successfully able to get onto Steam through a separate Greenlight initiative and also raised some additional funds through a successful Kickstarter campaign. The last thing we reported on was that they were hoping to get cooperative multiplayer added to the game.

It was recently announced by CodeAvarice that cooperative multiplayer is not going to happen, triggering a considerable amount of outrage and claims that the game was being abandoned, that certain promises were not being met, and that some of the game's sound files might in fact be breaking copyright. To make matters worse the developers themselves shot back against these complaints with their own inflammatory comments, destroying even more goodwill in the process.

This all culminated in this long response from the game's developers:
QuoteThe flaming of the community has forced me to rectify this situation on as many levels as I can see fit for the time spent on damage control. This is not a dinner bell for trolls, but seems they will come running as soon as they see it. Regardless, I'll go against my better judgement and try and get this straight for people who care, for legitimate reasons. All unwanted posts will be removed and banned. This is not a discussion, it is information.

1. PARANAUTICAL ACTIVITY IS NOT BEING ABANDONED!

2. We have fullfilled all KS goals, and will fullfill the ones that were content related in the last couple patches. The "stretch goals" people are upset about were never reached, nor promised.

3. We apologize for our failure to make CO OP a reality. Sorry to those who purchased this game under the guise of the fact it will be multiplayer. We just couldn't rebuild the entire game to make this happen, there is only two of us.

4. There are no copyright infringements in Paranautical Activity. Sounds are placeholders from a free to use site.. Bottom line, no legality there. Sounds are being replaced before the game drops. As was always the intention.

5. "Alpha Release" is a Steam term. Paranautical Activity was "alpha released" in FULL BETA FORM!

6. Paranautical Activity is reaching the end of its development. If this is upsetting, we apologize. Regardless, it is getting a couple more patches and it is FINISHED! DONE! COMPLETE! Lets hope no one out there has a problem with any of these words to describe the FINALITY of this game. Notice the word "abandoned" wasn't used.

7. Personal attacks on us and our character will be returned with the same action. Give what you get. We dont have PR people.. so we say what want despite the politically correct direction we probably should go in. This is not us, this is not something we do. Be respectful, and we will return this to you.

8. Those of you who support us, and those of you who might have a slight clue what it takes to make a game. We appreciate your support even though we are being attacked everytime we make a decision that some troll doesn't like. We are doing our best to make this game as good as two people can make a game. Once again, if you supported us and can feel our plight.. Thank you again for being real. Seems that is not a guarantee for humans now a days.

9. Some bug fixes and things of an irregular sort, will be rectified in the next (last) two patches. All game breakers should be gone with 1.8.


Some have been pointing to this and other incidents, such as the recent failure of Towns, as proof that both Early Access and even Crowdfunded games in general are not truly accountable and are in fact scamming gamers.

Linux users have undoubtedly benefited from both of these developments, as the greater potential for community involvement has helped Linux gamers argue their case far more effectively than has been the case with more traditional publisher funding, meaning that such problems are indeed worrisome to those that have previously benefited from them.

I myself bought Paranautical Activity on Desura last fall and was looking forward to the addition of cooperative play; that being said my purchase was not based on the illusion that I would receive said functionality, as I had actually forgotten that it was even going to be added when I had first purchased the title. I have since been waiting for the game to be considered complete before giving it a go, something which is now looking likely despite the disappointment over the lack of certain advertised features and updates.

Do you feel that the responses from either of the parties involved have been justified? Is this the indictment of Early Access games that some feel it to be, or is it merely one unfortunate incident that does not necessarily reflect on the whole? Feel free to share your responses in the comments. Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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About the author -
Hamish Paul Wilson is a free software developer, game critic, amateur writer, and farm labourer living in Alberta, Canada. He is an advocate of both DRM free Linux gaming and the free software movement alongside his other causes, and more information on him can be found at his icculus.org hompage where he lists everything he is currently involved in.
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15 comments
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Xpander 9 May 2014 at 3:47 pm UTC
its all fine by me.. allthough i really wanted multiplayer action.
but like they explained its not on their table anymore..i have to accept it.

i have this game on steam and desura, will test it out when its finished...

people in the forums should calm down and act more civilized. like they said, they are not PR guys. give them some space and add constructive criticism if you need. no need to go "trolling".
Sabun 9 May 2014 at 3:57 pm UTC
While Early Access allows for player feedback, it also allows for non-developer (customer/client) requests that are not good.

When software is developed, it is developed on an initial scope. When you bring in non-developers, who know no limits and hunger for more features, that is when your software's scope goes out of bounds. This leads to a never-ending project, and this is what is happening with these games. The client in this case isn't one publisher, but dozens and dozens of gamers with differing wants and needs.

Kids and young adults are jumping onto the forums, feeling like special clients, voicing their wants. The developers then try to introduce this into their scope, but DURING development. This is bad. Good development is only as good as it's planning. Features, functionality and goals should only be discussed/added/removed during planning. Not during development of the final product (theoretically).

This is why AAA titles only have the Publisher as the client, and the studio as the developer. They flesh out their plan, produce a quick prototype, the publisher says yes or no, adjust accordingly and they then move on according to plan or start a new project.

The upside, for us, to Early Access is as you say:
Quoteas the greater potential for community involvement has helped Linux gamers argue their case far more effectively than has been the case with more traditional publisher funding
Hamish 9 May 2014 at 4:02 pm UTC
SabunThis is why AAA titles only have the Publisher as the client, and the studio as the developer. They flesh out their plan, produce a quick prototype, the publisher says yes or no, adjust accordingly and they then move on according to plan or start a new project.

Or alternatively say yes on a project and then ship it out the door before it is ready because something made them skittish. Let's not act like all of these issues are new or only beholden by Early Access.

The advantage in this case is that such events are at least more open, and that the cost of buying an Early Access title is often far less prohibitive than it is for a AAA title.
Sabun 9 May 2014 at 4:10 pm UTC
QuoteOr alternatively say yes on a project and then ship it out the door before it is ready because something made them skittish. Let's not act like all of these issues are new or only beholden by Early Access.

You are quite right here, but I do feel that Early Access has heightened this sort of output. This is just my perspective, and I understand if you do not see it the same way.
Hamish 9 May 2014 at 4:16 pm UTC
SabunYou are quite right here, but I do feel that Early Access has heightened this sort of output. This is just my perspective, and I understand if you do not see it the same way.

I do not necessarily know if I do see it differently than you, but I do wonder the value in comparing things that are transparent to things that are opaque. Most games have snags in their development which traditionally were never seen unless something bad happened or the developers later did a postmortem.

Early Access might very well expose these problems more often, but one thing we do know for sure is that it does make such problems far more visible, which might explain some of the heightened outrage.
Anonymous 9 May 2014 at 4:32 pm UTC
Has the Linux port been published on Steam yet or not?
SwimPlease 9 May 2014 at 4:40 pm UTC
It's similar to what happened with self-published video once Youtube became popular. It has some upsides to it and a lot of downsides. Steam Early Access adjusts the crap-to-quality ratio over time and soon we'll be working full time to find a single playable game from the piles of unfinished, abandoned trash. Steam still has the $100 sieve to keep out the worst of the money grabbers, but I think it was Gabe himself stating in the last Steam Dev Days that they're trying to phase out Greenlight and make the entry hurdle to Steam lower. Just go browse the games section on Sourceforge to get a glimpse of the future.

Now after combining this with an established interface for acquiring money, like getting people to buy an as-of-yet-non-existing product... That's going to be very lucrative to all kinds of scammers.
Anonymous 9 May 2014 at 5:40 pm UTC
This is why we need to get rid of Early Access games.

I WILL not be buying any more of Early Access games NO MATTER who the developers are.

Wtf Valve was thinking about adding Early Access to steam. Bunch of money grabbing ***ers.
Xpander 9 May 2014 at 6:25 pm UTC
i like early access with some exceptions ofc.
i like to get hands on early... check the game at the early stages... then quit for some time.. and then when i come back its like another game again..so i get more for my money...

but ofc... broken promises are bad.
HadBabits 10 May 2014 at 1:46 am UTC
Honestly, I almost never buy early access games anymore. Often I don't have the time to contribute to the development process and I miss just buying a game as the final product, because unless I'm really invested in the development already, getting my hands on the game before all the pieces are in place seems to spoil my experience somewhat. Not to mention it's hard to build up excitement and anticipation for a game that's technically been around for some time in alpha/beta. Unfortunately it feels like most of the games released on Steam for Linux lately are Early Access.

As for these folks, I don't think they're scammers or scum bags like Muxwell and his ilk, but it seems like they've made a lot of mistakes. They may not have promised co-op, but they certainly made it sound like it was coming; and to their credit it sounds like they tried to change the store description which mentioned it as soon as they could. And while they're right that they weren't obligated to do co-op since it's stretch goal wasn't reached, they should have made clear that their effort to include it wasn't a sure thing until they knew it was possible. As for removing negative threads, I think it's quite clear why that's a slippery slope PR wise.

I don't think they've deserved as much hate as some of these people are giving them, but I do see where some of there customers are coming from. Lately it feels like taking advantage of gamers is becoming commonplace, and now many of us are edgy and on the defense as trust wears thin. All the while crowd-funding and Early Access make gamers feel more involved in the development in games, but this is a double edged sword as it means they also feel more entitled to rage when things go south.

I think these trends of crowd-funding and early access have definitely changed things, and will probably be a point of interest for some time to come. However I hope things will reel back somewhat in the future and that only those really interested in the development of a game will participate in early access in the future.
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