Glitch: Other Recent News from Ur

Other than the release of the housing demo and the community’s reaction to it, there have been a few other items worth covering, though they’re both old news to most of the community by now.  Good thing there aren’t too many other Glitch news/commentary blogs out there!

Except to say thank you very much, I don’t really have an opinion on the first of these stories: through their blog for Glitch, and through comments on the forum, Tiny Speck has given a vaguely specific or specifically vague estimate of when we should expect more content: every month.  The release of the housing test is simply the beginning of a regular release schedule, with major content expected to come just before or immediately after the first of each month and with minor updates occasionally coming in between.  This plan has been repeated in enough places by staff, including Stoot, that I suspect it’s a schedule they are willing to lose sleep and personal time to stick to.  And, of course, that’s why I say thank you.

I mentioned in my last post that the housing test ended up being “the next major content release” we were previously waiting on, for a total of about three months without content releases.  I actually suspect that it was never Tiny Speck’s intent to release a demo at that point, but instead they realized as their self-imposed deadline neared that they could not get the full conversion to new housing ready for that deadline so shifted development priorities to bring players a taste of the system.  They were able to release something to the community when time ran out and keep the spirit of their promise, if not necessarily justifying the “major” descriptor.

At the end of this month, perhaps spaced out over multiple days or weeks, we should be seeing new skills related to building and cultivating our land as well as the full release of housing with custom, expandable streets, yards, and homes.

We also had our first subscriber ballot, and the winning choices of that vote should be entering the game with that next update as well.  We were given a choice between ten or so different animals, told the two with the most votes would be added to the game and be used for obtaining resources related to housing, and then allowed to use as few or as many of our accrued votes as we chose to support as few or as many candidates as we preferred.  The ballot didn’t go off completely without a hitch, as sloth was initially left off the ballot; however, that might have worked in sloth’s favor, leading to a vote sloth movement that propelled sloth from late addition to clear winner.  Fox took second place and will also be included.

Not everyone was satisfied with the voting results or how the voting took place.  I, personally, agree with at least one of the criticisms: vote totals should not be observable until the voting period is over.  After the initial surge, only the handful of candidates near the top were consistently receiving votes, likely as the other candidates didn’t seem to have a chance to win.

There was another major complaint that I do not disagree with, though I don’t necessarily agree either.  Some players were asking that next time we be given more information to go by, that we at least get sketches of each option.  On one hand, that would be nice, but on the other, I imagine that would require more time from the artist just to prepare a vote, likely leading to less options.  I’m okay with either method — I’d prefer that they just throw out a bunch of animal names if there are a lot of other development demands on the artists, but I wouldn’t mind some preliminary sketches when they have more time to prepare the ballot and more time before the items in question are released.

What I don’t want to see, what I suspect we never will see, but something some players seem to expect or passively demand, is a vote that is objectively more important.  Of course, subjective importance is a personal thing: voting for sloth might have been quite important to Kristen Bell.  I don’t expect, however, to be given the option to halt a major development plan, or to significantly effect a major system in the game.  Such would be incredibly stupid on Tiny Speck’s part.  While retaining players is certainly important, sometimes retention comes at the cost of growth.  And with an inevitable amount of players moving away from a game permanently or temporarily, no gaming company should enable its players to become the lords of the game, dictating to the company itself how to grow and change.

Of course, I don’t mean that companies shouldn’t listen to their players at all.  Tiny Speck doesn’t need to make the same mistakes as CCP.  I just don’t think it’s good business practice to allow your customers to fully determine the major directions of your products.  And, of course, people are idiots: a simple read through of any game’s forums shows what a bad idea it would be to crowdsource design.

For now, all is well enough in Ur.


2 responses to “Glitch: Other Recent News from Ur

  1. (I work on glitch)

    “I actually suspect that it was never Tiny Speck’s intent to release a demo at that point”

    Actually, that was always our intention. There are a lot of moving part with the new housing system and we wanted to test a good chunk of the new code before we rolled it out for real.

    As for the ballot: If we had provided illustrations, it probably would not have happened. If we had illustrated them, then we’d be tied to that look, should the animal win. That would mean we have to have final production art for all of the choices, or players would get upset that we changed them. With visuals, the voting starts to just become about which illustration is best.

    The other side to it is that we didn’t quite know what each animal would *do*. We needed to deal with the possibility of having sloth/fox, sloth/alpaca and sloth/llama (to name just a few!). We had some roles planned out, but we couldn’t decide which would fill each role until we knew which we would have. And the role they fill dictates how they look and behave. The next ballot will probably have similar constraints, but we don’t know yet.

    I’m not sure what effect hiding the votes might have had – would we have seen the voting campaigns? Maybe. Or maybe there wouldn’t have been the same feel if you didn’t know it was so close.

    • Ah well, just unfortunate that when asked when the next major content release would be, way back in the impromptu Q&A, stoot didn’t clarify. Not something that affected me, just the original question that prompted the estimate (8 weeks at the time, would have ended early in the week following when the test was released) asked when to expect major content, and I have no answer for the complaint I’ve encountered that a test build isn’t major content.

      With the ballots, I figured either way would be a trade-off of sorts.

      The hiding the votes bit I believe I encountered a few places in the forum. I believe there would still have been campaigns — actually, I think there might have been more such campaigns. I just think that being able to see the votes in progress turned some options into the equivalent of Ralph Nader. But again, it’s a trade-off that loses other aspects. I’ll live either way.

      Thanks for reading and for your response!

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