Author Topic: Let's get serious here.  (Read 39113 times)

Offline Numbers

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Let's get serious here.
« on: March 02, 2015, 05:56:59 PM »
There's something important that needs to be addressed. I guess I'll be the one to say it. It's been about four years since TSL Episode 4 was released. In that interim, we've had a few amusing images on the forums courtesy of Stika, and an updated Episode 5 texture for things we've already seen before. And we've had nothing else. There hasn't been a trailer, much less any screenshots. Nobody seems to know when it will be released, or if they do, they don't want to admit it. I can't remember the last time Cez posted anything on here. Recently, Rock Knight and me asked the very valid question of why the soundtrack for Episodes 3 and 4 can't be released, and we've gotten no response, other than it's supposed to be released when Episode 5 is. Whenever that is.

I don't want people to blindly jump to POStudios' defense here. I don't want blind approval of my own argument either. I don't want anyone to accuse me of trying to start a smear campaign, or that I'm flaming the studio. I don't want people to dogpile on POStudios. I don't want another response of "we're working on it, we promise," or "be patient," or "buy our official games and maybe you'll get it sooner."

All I want is for POStudios to cut the crap.

I want them to give us a reason to keep hanging onto TSL, because currently, we have no reason to do so. We've seen almost no proof that Episode 5 is considered any kind of priority for POStudios. I want them to prove to us that they still consider the game worth finishing. I want to know exactly how much or how little manpower is on the project, and how much or how little work they do on it everyday. I want to know if they're willing to take on additional support, and I will gladly be a moderator if you wish me to be, since that's the only contribution I could possibly give. I want to know if TSL, the closest we'll get to a grand finale for the original KQ series, will be finished sometime before yet another cease-and-desist order inevitably comes knocking at the door.

Furthermore, I want an answer from one of the higher-ups. Not from Stika, not from any of the moderators. I want an answer from either KatieHal or Cez, someone who knows all the answers.

And let me reiterate, I don't want people to take my constructive criticisms and pitch a temper tantrum over them. I don't want people to accuse me of being audacious, or of possessing anti-POStudios sentiment, because I don't. I want everyone to read this and come to their own conclusions without jumping onto any bandwagon, or taking sides without formulating their own opinions.

POStudios, this is your chance to shine. This is your chance to be upfront with us. We don't want to see you come so close to closing out King's Quest only to choke right when it mattered the most. We want to believe in you, but we can't, and this is your chance to bring us hope again.

Please give us something, anything. Please don't let us down.
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Offline Rock Knight

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Re: Let's get serious here.
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2015, 08:40:22 PM »

I completely agree. In November it will be four years. As I said in another thread, in 4 years time, we got KQs 5, 6 and 7. Just to put that into perspective. TSL does not seem to be of high level of priority to Phoenix at this point. I do not think asking for say, a screenshot--Just a singular screenshot--would be asking too much after all this time. And once more, I must agree with you in that it seems that the people at the top have utterly forgotten about the game. This the game which launched Phoenix as a company. This is the game which got Phoenix a fanbase--many of the people here who got on board back in 2000-2002 are the people who fought for Phoenix when it faced hardship--fought for TSL. To put TSL on the backburner, as it seems to have been, is a slap in the face to the loyalty which made everything Phoenix has done besides TSL a possibility.

Finishing TSL should've been and still should be the company's first priority. It's been 15 years since it began production, it has been ten years since the first shut down happened (and at that time, we were told the game was "90% done". We were teased with a Winter 2005 release of the game.....Which turned out to be a demo release of about 2-3 screens. When the first episode finally came out, it was heavily promoted as being part of a series which would be released "between 2010 and 2011"....And right around the time Ep 4 came out is when Phoenix began to get real exposure in the media which fueled their other projects...And TSL was left out to dry. I think the last full update on the status of the game overall was in the fall of 2011, at which point it was again stated that the game was "90%" finished.

Why is this last 10%, then, taking so long? And why not throw the fans--some of whom have waited nearly 20 years now for this particular game--something, anything?

Would releasing a screenshot every few months or so be so harmful to the development process?

Would a quickie trailer derail development that badly? I'd think after 3 and a half years, there would be at least enough workable footage to create a short teaser at the very least.

Would communication--even if it is not daily or monthly--in the form of even a quick progress update from the core development staff--such as Cez or Katie--be that hard?

At this point, with the length of the time that has passed, the lack of updates of any sort, the lack of communication and even the lack of seeming commitment or enthusiasm (IE empty statements "it'll be finished when it is finished"), the project is starting to seem like Abandonware or Vaporware.

It seems that TSL is not at all a priority anymore--more a boring commitment which they're slowly eeking to completion, with possibly a skeleton staff of volunteers, that the core developers have long since moved on from. Which isn't fair to the fans who've committed years to following this game or the fanbase which helped Phoenix become an actual company. TSL is what made Phoenix Online...Shouldn't completing it, for the people who built up, pushed and followed Phoenix when no one else believed in them, be a major priority? Sure, it doesn't make them money...But Phoenix would be nothing without TSL. TSL's development is what got Phoenix media attention, helped to legitimize them with the press, and allowed for the company to grow from a small group of fan developers to an actual company. None of this would have been possible without the hype and attention TSL brought them or the loyal fanbase it created.

You said it best right here, and I have to quote it to echo your sentiments:

"POStudios, this is your chance to shine. This is your chance to be upfront with us. We don't want to see you come so close to closing out King's Quest only to choke right when it mattered the most. We want to believe in you, but we can't, and this is your chance to bring us hope again.

Please give us something, anything. Please don't let us down."

If the game is basically dead, just tell us. If it's something the team has in large measure emotionally moved on from and don't really care about anymore...If the staff is 5 people, or if it's 15...Let us know. There should be a genuine, open dialogue between the team and the fans at this point, after nearly half a decade.

Come on guys. It's literally been at least a good 2 years, if not 3, since any real update was given to us. We're starting to feel strung along.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2015, 08:48:35 PM by Rock Knight »

Offline KatieHal

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Re: Let's get serious here.
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2015, 03:38:27 PM »
I wanted to let you know I've seen and read this, and that I'm working on a longer reply that I'll put up tomorrow. Short version is no, the project is not cancelled, and yes, I'll have more details both on where it's at currently as well as why it's taken a long time.

Katie Hallahan
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Offline Numbers

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Re: Let's get serious here.
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2015, 04:04:30 PM »
Thanks for being willing to respond. It's just what I needed to hear.
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Offline KatieHal

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Re: Let's get serious here.
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2015, 04:04:44 PM »
I know we've been very quiet and lax on giving updates, and I know that's frustrating. So upfront, my apologies for that. 

While I feel its been said before, but maybe not in one place, is that progress on TSL Episode 5 is very slow. We absolutely DO want to release it, we WANT to close out the story that we started, that desire is 100% there.

The team working on TSL and the people working on the commercial games are different groups. The majority of the ones working on TSL are volunteers and as has always been the case, working on the game in your spare time is a slow-moving thing. There are reasons that it took us ten years to release the first episodes, and those shared most of the same backgrounds and characters! A video game is a LOT of work even if you're working on it full time with a full team. These people are awesome to be giving their time to this, because they have jobs, classes, families, and so forth. Currently, the team is very small, yes, and while those of us doing commercial work try to help when we can, that's also hard because we likewise have day jobs (that is, the commercial games).

That said, there is progress happening, and yes, we are getting closer to completion. So here are some of the things weve been working on, a rough status check, and a few new images to show you how the game is shaping up now.

  • Engine Upgrade. As you all know, weve moved from Torque to Unity. This is a big change and means not only that everyone using the engine needs to learn how to use it, but also that many assets are being adjusted or even remade entirely to work with Unity.
  • Visual Upgrades. By this, I mean both upgrading scenes used in Episodes 1-4, as well as finishing and upgrading the new screens. We've especially been working on giving them a lovely new painted look. For example, here's the Isle of Mist Sacred Circle, the Forest Sanctuary and the Forest Entrance as seen before in Episodes 1-4, and for Episode 5.










  • Model Upgrades. The characters are also all being upgraded from their previous version, and new models are being made/upgraded to match this look. Here are the old and new version of Rosella and the icy Ooga Booga land we last saw her in:






Status Report:
  • Game logic and programming: 80%
  • Props: 80%
  • Backgrounds: 70% (without polish)
  • Cinematics: 50%
  • Characters: 30% (including uprezzing and rigging)

So while there is still a lot to be done, we have also made a lot of progress, slowly but surely. I'd love to say the game will come out this year, but I can't promise that will happen. When we DO know when it will release, you can be sure we'll plaster the whole site with that information!

As well, I'll try to make sure that I or other team members make some more regular updates. I won't promise a specific schedule or frequency beyond that, though, because I don't want to disappoint anyone further if we then get off that schedule. But I can at least say we will try to do better than we have, and I hope that helps.

To close out, I want to reiterate: we DO want to finish this project, and we WILL. I can't give you a date, but I can promise that much. It's a very big deal to us to finish TSL, and everyone who has supported us along the way more than deserves to see that ending for all their belief and patience over the years! It truly does mean so much to us, and thanks to that, we've been able to work on these commercial games, from Cognition to Gabriel Knight, and they've all been dreams come true.

Katie Hallahan
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Offline Numbers

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Re: Let's get serious here.
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2015, 04:29:54 PM »
So overall, 62%, huh? Another four years of steady progress and we'll be in the clear, it sounds like.

I just had a KQgasm looking at those updated pictures.

I sincerely thank you for taking the time to make that in-depth reply. My post calling you out was not one of my nicest, but it was probably the most important thing I've said on this forum to date.

And lastly...

Spoiler (mouse over to reveal):
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Offline GrahamRocks!

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Re: Let's get serious here.
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2015, 07:34:44 PM »
*just stares in awe at the pretty pictures* Oooh~! :D

And, tbh Numbers, you OP sounded a LOT better than most would have said it. Others would have been ranting and flailing and begging for it to "FINISH IT RIGHT NOW! WE'VE WAITED LONG ENOUGH! I HATE THIS STUDIO NOW!! BLAAAAGH!!" but you kept calm and while I could see the bitterness and anxiety in there, I was just glad you were keeping your cool and writing your thoughts rationally as you always do.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2015, 07:39:35 PM by GrahamRocks! »

Offline Orion

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Re: Let's get serious here.
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2015, 08:50:39 PM »
This still leaves a sour taste in my mouth.  You push out 80% of a project - four episodes in a year and a half!  Great!  But now here we are three and a half years later, and we're still left hanging?

Why?

Because you decide that, 80% of the way through a project to take and switch up the engines for the final episode.  Which requires retraining and relearning - on a zero budget (so people are doing this in their free time).  It doesn't sit right with me, even for a free game.  It just feels like you went "Here's four episodes!  Enjoy!  We pushed them out fast for you!  Hype up for the finale!" to a sudden "We gave you something good and fast and now you've got to wait, because eff you!  You get to wait, and you'll like it. <smiley face>"  That's how it feels.  It's poor business, even for a 'free game' business.  Especially with the pushing out other games and this one feeling forgotten to all us.

Thanks for the screenshots and all, but in the end, it still sucks that you guys are taking so gorram long doing this in the first place.

And this is all for just Episode 5.  I could understand this long of a delay if you were releasing the whole thing under the new engine in one mass download, but this is for one bleedin' episode.

</rant>

And sorry for 'not keeping cool and rational' here, but yeah, hearing all that just made it hit home just how far from finished you actually are, especially with how long we've already waited.

Offline wilco64256

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Re: Let's get serious here.
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2015, 07:49:47 AM »
It's worth noting here that at the time Episode 1 of TSL was released, Episodes 2-4 were also already well underway and probably each in the range of 80-90% complete. All four used a number of repeated locations and characters, so much of the development was done simultaneously. We always knew that Episode 5 was going to use a number of new assets so that one was not being actively developed the way the others were.

Once we started getting more into Episode 4 and preparing to develop Episode 5 properly we were faced with a really problematic situation - development and support for the actual engine we were using was going away. We were already having odd problems with the engine and had been hoping to upgrade to a newer version but when it was announced that it was all shutting down that's when we went shopping and starting using Unity. And while Episode 5 of TSL has suffered in terms of development timing, it's also reaping the benefits of our experience in developing the commercial products we've put out with the engine and there have been a couple of times already where we've scrapped a bunch of stuff in the game to redo it in a far better way.
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Offline Orion

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Re: Let's get serious here.
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2015, 11:34:59 AM »
Hindsight is always 20/20 - but in the end, PoS still left the fans hanging for a conclusion to a series that was initially released pretty quickly.  Heck, at this rate, we'll have the new official game before we get a conclusion to this one.

Offline Numbers

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Re: Let's get serious here.
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2015, 12:56:44 PM »
"Initially released pretty quickly?" Orion, have you followed TSL's development at all? It took a long long time for the first episode to come out. A decade, if I remember correctly. The cease-and-desist orders made the development take even longer.
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Offline Orion

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Re: Let's get serious here.
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2015, 04:16:34 PM »
"Initially released pretty quickly?" Orion, have you followed TSL's development at all? It took a long long time for the first episode to come out. A decade, if I remember correctly. The cease-and-desist orders made the development take even longer.
Sorry, let me clarify what I meant. :)

I meant that they were initially released pretty quickly in succession - once the first episode was released.  Four episodes in roughly a year and a half is fantastic, but then they come out now saying that they're only about two thirds of the way done with the final episode and this is going on four years later.

I'm well aware that the whole development has been going on for probably around 13 years now, if I'm not mistaken. I remember being one of the first to be super hyped about this - probably back when AGDI I was still call Tierra - and everyone was big on Hero6.  The whole fan game community itself has me a little bit jaded, so take my words with a grain of salt, but having this delay just makes me feel, I don't know "cheated?" after how quickly those four episodes were released.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2015, 04:31:20 PM by Orion »

Offline Jack Stryker

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Re: Let's get serious here.
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2015, 05:23:59 PM »
How about we just play the game when it comes out, and then see how much we like it?

Offline Rock Knight

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Re: Let's get serious here.
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2015, 10:14:39 PM »
I know we've been very quiet and lax on giving updates, and I know that's frustrating. So upfront, my apologies for that. 

While I feel its been said before, but maybe not in one place, is that progress on TSL Episode 5 is very slow. We absolutely DO want to release it, we WANT to close out the story that we started, that desire is 100% there.

The team working on TSL and the people working on the commercial games are different groups. The majority of the ones working on TSL are volunteers and as has always been the case, working on the game in your spare time is a slow-moving thing. There are reasons that it took us ten years to release the first episodes, and those shared most of the same backgrounds and characters! A video game is a LOT of work even if you're working on it full time with a full team. These people are awesome to be giving their time to this, because they have jobs, classes, families, and so forth. Currently, the team is very small, yes, and while those of us doing commercial work try to help when we can, that's also hard because we likewise have day jobs (that is, the commercial games).

That said, there is progress happening, and yes, we are getting closer to completion. So here are some of the things weve been working on, a rough status check, and a few new images to show you how the game is shaping up now.

  • Engine Upgrade. As you all know, weve moved from Torque to Unity. This is a big change and means not only that everyone using the engine needs to learn how to use it, but also that many assets are being adjusted or even remade entirely to work with Unity.
  • Visual Upgrades. By this, I mean both upgrading scenes used in Episodes 1-4, as well as finishing and upgrading the new screens. We've especially been working on giving them a lovely new painted look. For example, here's the Isle of Mist Sacred Circle, the Forest Sanctuary and the Forest Entrance as seen before in Episodes 1-4, and for Episode 5.

(PICTURES)

  • Model Upgrades. The characters are also all being upgraded from their previous version, and new models are being made/upgraded to match this look. Here are the old and new version of Rosella and the icy Ooga Booga land we last saw her in:

(MORE PICTURES)

Status Report:
  • Game logic and programming: 80%
  • Props: 80%
  • Backgrounds: 70% (without polish)
  • Cinematics: 50%
  • Characters: 30% (including uprezzing and rigging)

So while there is still a lot to be done, we have also made a lot of progress, slowly but surely. I'd love to say the game will come out this year, but I can't promise that will happen. When we DO know when it will release, you can be sure we'll plaster the whole site with that information!

As well, I'll try to make sure that I or other team members make some more regular updates. I won't promise a specific schedule or frequency beyond that, though, because I don't want to disappoint anyone further if we then get off that schedule. But I can at least say we will try to do better than we have, and I hope that helps.

To close out, I want to reiterate: we DO want to finish this project, and we WILL. I can't give you a date, but I can promise that much. It's a very big deal to us to finish TSL, and everyone who has supported us along the way more than deserves to see that ending for all their belief and patience over the years! It truly does mean so much to us, and thanks to that, we've been able to work on these commercial games, from Cognition to Gabriel Knight, and they've all been dreams come true.

Thank you for the update.
If we could start a system where an update with this level of detail (including the break down of percentages) every 4-6 months or so from here on out, I think the fans might be more easily sated.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2015, 09:41:15 AM by Oldbushie »

Offline Numbers

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Re: Let's get serious here.
« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2015, 01:27:56 PM »
And, tbh Numbers, you OP sounded a LOT better than most would have said it. Others would have been ranting and flailing and begging for it to "FINISH IT RIGHT NOW! WE'VE WAITED LONG ENOUGH! I HATE THIS STUDIO NOW!! BLAAAAGH!!" but you kept calm and while I could see the bitterness and anxiety in there, I was just glad you were keeping your cool and writing your thoughts rationally as you always do.

Funny story; one time I was following a completely unrelated fanmade video game project that took a long time to create, as fanmade stuff is wont to do. (It was a game mod for Dark Forces, a Star Wars FPS, and it actually was never finished, but that's off-topic right now.) Somebody who had apparently been following the project for a while registered just to make one post that literally read "YOURS VERY SLOW! PLS NEW PROGRESSS PLS NEW UPDATES PLS DARK FORCES FİNAL VERSİON ;)" With a winking emoticon as if that made it any better. When I saw that, I made a mental note to never, ever look as bad as that loser noob did whenever I got butthurt about something.
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Offline stika

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Re: Let's get serious here.
« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2015, 10:07:27 AM »
I think the real question is: How long until we see a gritty reboot of Jones in the Fast Lane?

Offline GrahamRocks!

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Re: Let's get serious here.
« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2015, 11:14:06 AM »
I'd like a Freddy Pharkas sequel. *shrugs*

Offline Neonivek

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Re: Let's get serious here.
« Reply #17 on: March 11, 2015, 01:04:45 PM »
Yeah even my patience had worn thin at this point...

Thanks for cluing us in on recent developments.

Offline Numbers

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Re: Let's get serious here.
« Reply #18 on: March 12, 2015, 01:49:47 PM »
I'd like another Leisure Suit Larry sequel, just to see how much worse it could possibly get. And while we're at it, a dark and gritty reboot of Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing.
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Offline GrahamRocks!

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Re: Let's get serious here.
« Reply #19 on: March 12, 2015, 04:48:55 PM »
I think the only way it could get worse is to have either Larry outright rape a girl just to get his rocks off.