Is it good to change out the developer this late in the process?
This means we can blame Steve Bauman if the game disappoints. ;)
Is it good to change out the developer this late in the process?
I don't know if it's necessarily a bad or good thing. If it's planned well in advance and executed with plenty of time, it could be fine. It certainly seems a smoother situation than, say, Duke Nukem Forever - developed to 80-90% by one developer, "fumbled", and then spontaneously picked up by another to cross the finish line.
Yep, this was the plan all along (at least for Robot's piece of it). We were excited to get Age Online "off the ground" but GPG is taking over the long term post-ship content and launch window support / maintenance. Not entirely sure why they haven't announced a formal launch date, etc but that's Microsoft / GPG's decision, not Robot's. I'm definitely looking forward to see where GPG takes the franchise in the future.
Orcs Must Die is pretty fun, BTW -- anyone at PAX should definitely stop by to play it. :)
I don't want to break the NDA, but I like what I've played of the beta so far. I just don't want the game to change all crazy or have support fizzle out because the "vision" has shifted.
After Halo Wars shipped and Ensemble closed down, the DLC plan MS talked about was way off-base from what eventually came out. Ironically, didn't Robot work on that DLC?
I hear you Telefrog, I hope they don't change the game up too much either, at least in terms of the foundation pieces of it. I have a lot of confidence in GPG to build some cool stuff off of the foundation we made for the initial game.
Robot did bugfixes for the Halo Wars DLC but all the "primary" dev work was done at Ensemble in the last month or so of the studio's life. I would have loved for MSFT to put more support behind Halo Wars too. :(
Thanks for the inside scoop, Xemu. I'm just glad to know I won't have to feel guilty if I happen enjoy AoE Online :)
I'll also be sure to check out Orcs Must Die ... very unusual looking title, and I mean that in a good way.
Orcs Must Die sounds like it could be fun, but it seems really slight. And was Robot booted off Age of Empires Online? It seems odd for a game slated to release this year to change development teams. It's all a bit confusing.
Go steve go!
Changing the developer before release like this does sound strange. But I like all things tower defense, so I'm excited about Orcs Must Die!
I can't get into the details of the business arrangements, for (hopefully) obvious reasons. Mark, your characterization of it is quite inaccurate though.
As I said, it's always been the plan to have a separate company take over the ongoing maintenance & content generation requirements that a game like this requires. While all of us at Robot dearly love the Age franchise, we're also looking to move on to new games and new IPs. We're a relatively small shop and feeding the beast on a game like this is definitely a major effort.
Yeah, I posted a comment before I read that it was all planned. It strikes me as unusual to switch development teams in this manner and it would be interesting to know the business reasons behind it, but I understand you're not allowed to discuss it.
It's a little unusual in the industry to see a hand-off happen so (apparently) early for this type of product without a release date or any real marketing on the end to be frank. If anything the transitional period may happen after launch if what Xemu means is that it's just all post-release content and launch/maintenance support. I can see why it would be done that way though, we do something similar as far as development goes, but in the opposite direction (concepts can be developed internally than handed out to studios, though this doesn't happen all the time) and Robot is not a huge studio by any stretch (it's not all of former Ensemble, which splintered into quite a few dev houses).
Hey, we really want Game Developer X to make this new game for us. They really "get it" and they're a fantastic choice to build the game. But it's a long-term, ongoing property that requires years of live support and development after launch. And Developer X doesn't want to be saddled with all that. Maybe we can get them to develop it if we get another company to sign on for the years of post-launch support and updates?
The idea, I guess, is for Microsoft to not limit itself to only being able to hire developers that are willing to work on AOE Online for the next 5+ years.
Yeah, the other half of it could possibly just be the idea that Robot doesn't want to be tied down to AOE Online for a lengthy period and stuck in MMO mode when they'd rather be doing something else.
That all makes sense, especially since AOE is an IP MS owns so Robot was all along working on someone else's IP. Sort of work for hire stuff.
The money gets bigger, and things get more complicated.
Apparently NDA has been lifted -- any impressions from the beta crew? From what I've read and see on Youtube I'm definitely intrigued. Thanks!
Crap, I totally forgot this game existed. I crashed once in the beta and when I saw I had to redo a mission I never came back to it.
It certainly looks charming, but I worry about the long term appeal. This is all from a few hours of playing, so I'm sure people have a better idea of the longevity than I do. I only was accepted into the beta last week.
My main problem with the game is that it focues too much on PvE content. Before you can even try PvP you have to grind lots of PvE missions and they really aren't very interesting.
While I don't mind some PvE focus (since I'm not usually very good at PvP) it would be helpful if it were interesting -- I did see one quest in a video that required building 10 farms in a certain amount of time. Not the most scintillating task, story-wise, but it did seem hectic to try and beat under the time.
I was in the beta, but it has been a while since I played so things may have changed. To sum it up:
Take AoE 3, give it shitty stylized cartoonish graphics. It is not that they are simply stylized, that bothers me (It does not) it is just a big step backwards in quality.
Next: Take all the standard units and stuff you get with any AoE 3 faction and take most of them away. You know archers, fishing boats, and that kind of thing. Now allow you to 'level up' instead to re-acquire these basic units. Also add some resources in addition to leveling up to unlock these units and abilities.
Now just charge a monthly fee for all this goodness. Now you have AoE Online.
My basic problem with the game is the fact that AoE 3 is a better game in every respect and has no monthly fee. I am sure even the box cost for AoE 3 + expansions will be cheaper than AoE Online.
Yeah I stopped playing it because it was crashing and was boring. Its been a few months, but I doubt it has changed that much. Oh, it might have also been another Games for windows Live thing which is another strike against it.
Um ... isn't AoE Online going to be F2P with microtransactions?
here's the official FAQ:Now like you said, things might have changed, but that would be a pretty huge change.There will not be a monthly fee to play Age of Empires Online.
In the beta they did not give us a pricing model. I just assumed. If its free (assuming these micro transactions can be skipped without gimping yourself) then its still a crappy version of AoE 3 where you have to level up to get basic units that you start with in other AoE games.
My impression was that you DO gimp yourself without micro transactions. You need them to get access to higher-level items, and items provide HUGE bonuses to your troops.
Theoretically the TrueSkill matchmaking system should rapidly sort the userbase into "has DLC" and "doesn't have DLC" if they're that fast, I'd guess. The hardcore pays as much as for a full game, the casuals don't.