State of the Game: 13-04-2015

WFTO Logo State of the Game

Darkest greetings Underlords,

 

As we previously announced in WFTO Wednesday #118 we’ve been preparing a statement on the current state of the game, the launch, and our plans moving forward.

Originally we intended to release this video on the 9th of April but since Thursday morning we’ve been suffering major internet issues that have prevented us from uploading to Youtube (you may have also noticed a slowdown in patching). During the time we’ve been offline we took the opportunity to re-record the video as the original footage we captured had become outdated and no longer relevant, mostly due to our ongoing work during the downtime.

This new video will focus primarily on the current state of the game and our plans for ongoing fixes, improvements, and features. For those interested in more context, this post will be going into more depth on the situation at launch. So without further adieu please view the video below and if you’re still looking for continue to read the post below!

 

Video: State of the Game

This video focusses on the current development status of the game, our plans for ongoing support and the features we’re currently working on.

 

Launch

Throughout the two weeks since WFTO’s Launch we’ve been through a huge array of different emotions here at Subterranean HQ, something we’re sure many of our fans have also experienced.

It’s safe to say that the state WFTO released in was not something we had intended to happen and it was with great disappointment we realised exactly what had occurred. We had been extremely rushed in the last few months leading up to release; despite working around the clock to finish the game and despite our best efforts the final result was not as polished or as bug-free as we would have liked.

The biggest question on everyone’s mind and one we’ve seen repeated again and again across the community is: “Why would you release the game in the state it was in?”.

This is a question that is hard to answer without making excuses, to which we know there is no excuse. Instead we’d like to offer some insights and clarity into where we were at the time, and hopefully bring some transparency to why we made some decisions at the expense of other things. But first we’d like to start with some history.

 

Some history

In January 2013 our Kickstarter was successfully funded with a grand total of £225k raised. With the success of our Kickstarter we took on an extremely big project, perhaps too big for a team of 15 people who had never before released a game, and who weren’t able to appropriately identify the true lack of resources we faced for a game of this scale. Regardless, we immediately set to it with the fervent dedication and commitment we’ve become known for.

No project is without it’s share of dysfunction however and WFTO is no different. During the early months of the project we ran into a few significant issues that cost us dearly. Early last year we posted a retrospective of the first year of WFTO’s development. It’s a pretty long post but it will provide more context for those of you that are interested.

It was after the the events described in the retrospective post that the team underwent a significant restructure and change of management. On top of that, the team came together and agreed to voluntary pay cuts across the board to ensure the continuation of WFTOs development.

In addition, a significant amount of work that was done during this period had to be completely scrapped, the net result of which was a significant loss on our part. However we were confident that with these changes we could carry on for a while and through some lucky breaks we were able to catch enough funding to continue development for another year. For a time we were secure, and this lasted until late 2014.

 

The last 6 months

Despite the changes we described above it was towards the end of 2014 that we again found our situation becoming dire. Early Access had been an extremely useful program for us both in terms of feedback, QA and financial support, but the funds coming in were not enough to sustain us indefinitely and our finances had become extremely tight, so we put together a plan and budget for the remainder of development to ensure we’d be able to see ourselves through to launch.

Firstly, we borrowed as much money as we could from various sources, mainly from the bank but also from a particularly dedicated member of the team who chose to put his own money into the project to make these last few months possible.

Secondly, a portion of the team voluntarily chose to go without pay for the last two months of development. This period especially was very difficult for us to stomach but it had allowed us to push the game into the best state we could manage without risking us going under.

We pushed ourselves extremely hard, often working 18, 24 or 48 hour shifts, devoting our lives to the game where we could but still that lead us to a situation we weren’t content with, yet still backed into a corner.

Some of you are no doubt wondering why we didn’t share our situation in one of our weekly news posts. The primary of which was that we didn’t wish to cause a panic that the game would never be finished, and that the panic itself would become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This probably provides a good insight into how close we were to the end and helps to explain the next question.

 

Why not delay?

This is the huge elephant in the room, a question asked time again and though we’ve been doing our best to answer this as it’s appeared we wanted this to be in the most public space we can.

The above no doubt helps to clarify why we were unable to shift our release schedule, it’s unlikely we would have been able to survive until another opportune window for release appeared. Something that would have cost us the game in it’s entirely.

There are of course a few other less devastating reasons. Primarily that we were so focussed on the upcoming release on the game that by the time we realise we needed an extra few weeks we were already far too close to realistically delay.

Physical boxes were in production, various commitments, both internal and external had been made and the budget left over for marketing had already been spent. The wheels were well and truly in motion and it was now impossible to put the breaker on without serious financial harm.

 

How did so many bugs slip through?

Something that has left us truly disappointed in ourselves is how many of you have suffered from various issues in the launch version of War for the Overworld. A question that pops up time and time again is why there were so many bugs and why we didn’t have them all fixed for release.

Many bugs that have been discovered since launch were ones that we weren’t aware of, or they were introduced in the very last few days of pre-release development before we had a proper chance to catch them.

The difference between having a couple of dozen users playing on a daily basis to literally thousands was extremely profound, we were swamped with issues that we hadn’t even come across or ones that affected systems with specs we hadn’t been able to properly test. It was an extremely eye-opening experience for us.

Finally, we do have an extremely dedicated group of volunteers QAing the game, without their help the game would have been in a far worse state than it was and we can only thank them for their hard work.

 

What’s next?

As we’ve mentioned in the video above we’ve been working almost around the clock to improve the game, we’ve fixed a huge number of bugs through 21 separate patches at time of writing and are continuing to work on the most crucial issues moving forwards.

We’re also working on implementing the features that had been missing from the game, things like tooltips and lobbies which had no right being missing, we expect that those will be implemented within a week or two.

On a more long term basis, once all the major issues are out of the way we’ll be starting work on the free content updates including the Map Editor, Steam Workshop support and Survival Mode. We’ll likely be working on those alongside the story DLC which will introduce new levels to the campaign and is of course free to all our early-adopters.

With regards to future levels in the campaign we are paying close attention to the feedback we’ve been receiving and we’ll be keeping it very much in the forefront of our mind when we are designing those levels.

 

Conclusion

We’d like to reassure you all that we are 100% committed and dedicated to War for the Overworld. It’s a game that we truly believed had to be made and though we have certainly slipped up from time to time, this has been a labour of love from start to finish and we’re keen to continue dedicating ourselves to WFTO’s future.

But we have plenty more to give and we’re planning to ensure that WFTO will live up to your expectations as best we can!

 

Until next time Underlord,

– WFTO Team

 

Click here to discuss this update on our forums!

 

 

55 Comments
  1. Hey Guys,

    I REALLY appreciate your hard work on this game, and this post makes much clearer why the Game was released in the state we got it.

    And, in addtion, it shows how much you love this Game and how much you have really given to us to make it.

    So, after all those complains of the unfinished release, many unfair reviews, many harsh Youtube videos about it, many complains and many I need to say something to you:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR FINISHING THIS GAME I WAITED HALF OF MY LIFETIME FOR!

    Everyone who wants to see it can see, that you put a LOT of work to finish the Game as fast as possible, and im sure you will finish it.

    I am proud to have been a part of the birth of this Game.

    There´s so much more i´d like to say, but i think you got want i wanted to tell you, so i finish my post here.

    Best regards, and keep up your good work,

    Beneathar

    • Thank you so much Beneathar, it has been difficult but you have no idea how much it means to us just to hear a thank you from people in the community. It makes it all worth while 🙂

      • Its an honest thank you to all of you, and you really deserve it.

        If I had known all that I would never have left the Foundry (for my peronal reasons wich have nothing to do with Subterannean), getting my ass up helping you guys as heavy this may have been to me in my situation.

        So take, with my thanks for the game, my apologize for leaving you in this situation.

        And again thank you for giving me a new, better Dungeon Keeper (and preventing me to get a bad one from EA later…)

      • All I can say is that I wholeheartedly agree with Beneathar. I bought the game in early access and waited loooong time for it. And I’m not saying year or two, but over 15 – since DK2 came out. But it was so worth it. You did great. I have no doubt the game will improve given some time.

        As I’m a programmer myself I understand how some projects can get out of control and I’m in awe with what your team had to pull through. Only think i hope now is that you get on feet and get enough resources to create more great games.

        Best to you and whole team – keep up the great work you are doing and do no get discouraged with temporary difficulties. We are with you 😀

        PS: All that despite i got stuck in 3rd mission due to a bug 😉

  2. I think your honesty with this kind of post has been and will be one of the qualities that make your company what it is, sadly missing in most companies today.

    BTW,*cough* Evil genius 2 *cough* in your own time 🙂

    • Haha, yes Evil Genius 2 or Theme Hospital 2 would be great 🙂

  3. This is why I stood by this game. I made a few posts on the official forums, and alas, you answered all the questions I posed to you. Now the pieces fall into place and it is nice to see an honest company who takes responsibility for their mistakes. I am and will be a fan of your work. Keep it up and nice job on the patches. I am going to replay the whole campaign to see how smooth it runs.

  4. Hey guys,

    Thanks for all the good work you’ve put into this game over the past few months/years. The game works well on my PC but it does feel somewhat unfinished. The missions seem more rushed and less well structured for me towards the end thanks to the lack of introduction of the new rooms and minions later in the game, they just start being in the levels. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the game nevertheless and am racking up the game hours on it each day. Keep up the great work and good luck for the future.

  5. the major bug i ve encounter is when im playing level 12, whit a ton of units, laggy!….

    another one i ve seen, when im loading up a savegame, all the engine want to freeze, and the tiles on the floor always changing texture…

    keep at work, minions!!!

    ‘;..;’

  6. I’m a man of few words, but I would just like to thank you for enduring the hardship and making the game happen. I enjoy it very much.

  7. As an early backer, I can say you’ve achieved something spectacular so far, it truly feels and plays like a DK game. You’ve managed to catapult a classic game to the present day, now you just have to keep up the great work and this game will become a cult classic aswell. I’m sure you’ll even out the issues the game has and it’ll be just as great as you want it to be. You did great so far – keep it up! I’m looking forward to the dlc, aswell as the workshop implementation.

    Greetings from Germany.

  8. game is looking fantastic guys! I’m so excited to see the bugs ironed out and really get stuck into it.
    My only comment would be the first person attacking animations need so sprucing up. Other than that it’s amazing.

  9. Like many others, I am extremely thankful for bringing this game. Despite the bugs , the quality you have achieved so far , compared to its resources has been amazing . Truly , a titanic feat . I’ll be honest , I do not usually buy games but with you I made the exception for sharing devotion to the game. It was worth the price and I can only wait to see how this game is surpassing all limits to become a success. I´m seriously dreaming with e-sports in the future, lets make it happen.

  10. Thanks for hanging in there, Subterranean team! I’ve been waiting ages for a real successor to Dungeon Keeper, and I think you’ve captured the spirit of the original perfectly.

  11. I actively followed the Projekt since 2013 and really have to say thank you for not giving up. I have never seen a development team so dedicated and honest as you are.

  12. Ah, a game like this takes a true fan to understand. Some of us, as stated above, have waited a decade and a half for the ‘soulful sequel/throne ascendant to Dungeon Keeper’s high and lofty status. I’ve owned a couple copies of the former and the latter, so yeah. I have tried, with utter dissapointment I might add, several ‘clones’ that turn into either super-micromanagement. That become so drudgeful that I just delete them after trying them for a few hours out of disgust. Or something that’s not quite the same but has a little Spark.

    War for the Underworld has succeeded beyond my wildest expectations when I first signed up for early access. And has not dissapointed me once. With every new game comes its glitches. I’ve seen full budget high-end games utterly broken right out of the box/blister packaging.

    So I say this with a Blackened Heart and a Twisted Grin…

    It’s Good To be Bad. Again. Hahaha!

  13. Doin’ fine. Happy with the game. No problems to report. Very pleased.

  14. Thanks for the update and kudos for sharing the “bitter part” of business: money.
    That being said: I was unsure if I would drop money on a product “half baked” (as TotalBiscuit put it in his WTF video) but your openness convinced my to do so.

    But as Darth Vader once said to Admiral Piett “Don’t fail me again, Admiral!” 😉 #SCNR

  15. you’re the best, continue on this road;.)

  16. Thanks for working so hard at this and not giving up. You actually beat the odds and released. Looking forward to an even better sequel.

  17. Well done guys, thanks for the update.
    Congrats on keeping it together and only way to learn is by making mistakes. Luckily you’re still at it, doing what you love most, and it’s looking good!

    Don’t forget big projects are a marathon, not a sprint. Take those breaks where you can! Seriously.

  18. Amazing work!

    I would hire you guys for any project\any day 🙂

    Your dedication is profound and makes our money more than just “well-spent”.
    So you had a few bugs, so what, the game is great!

    Keep up the amazing work!

  19. Your dedication and hard work is evident that your team is driven by passion over money, which is so hard to come by these days.

    In addition, the level of honesty you have shown, clearly reflects that your team is willing to admit mistakes and truly work with community for a better WFTO tomorrow.

    To be frank, I’ve been observing the game development for awhile, hesitating whether to throw in my money or not.

    After reading this however, I say let’s do it.

    Cause you guys would deserve every cent I invest, regardless of the game state.

    Stay awesome team 🙂

  20. You have done an excellent job and I have enjoyed the game very much so far. With so much talk of sacrifices on the personal front for everyone in terms of going without pay or even contributing money into the project from private funds; how is the current financial situation of the company? Has the release given you the capital to allow for bug fixing/content expansion without people working for free?

    Thanks again for the great effort! You made the right choices in terms of launching when you did considering the financial hardship!

  21. I’d just like to say thank you all for your incredible responses. We could not have imagined the support we would have received for this project from the start to where we are now.

    It’s been a long and tough road but it’s been worth it thanks to the incredible support shown by every member of the community. We’re proud to continue developing this game with fans like you behind us.

  22. good luck!

    You should aim to fix crashes… they are the showstoppers!

  23. Keep up the good work guys, love WFTO.

    Greets from a bigtime dungeonkeeper fan (1,2 and WFTO)!

  24. I can only say I told you guys this was gonna happen, i told you time and time again but NO, i was a hate spreader , i was the big troll in the room and got banned on Steam for it.

    Well how sad it is ( i am not laughing or something ) that i was right , i do have the right to say one more time:
    I TOLD YOU SO!!

    No pitty from me, good luck on your next try!!

    • You’re an idiot, Frank Meussen. I’m glad you had gotten banned on Steam for this.

    • You sound like as if the game is a huge failure on all aspects, but it isn’t. The game was released too early, so what? No big deal. It was a minor setback but I believe it is going to be only better from now on.

  25. Hang in there guys!

    I’ve been following you since you were making Dungeon Keeper 3 ;D

    I think that most negative comments are because people think the worst about the company. People are used to money grabbing suit corporations. So when an unfinished game releases like this they feel that once again they have been cheated to buy a game that will recive 1-2 patches and then be abandoned when the corporation has cashed in.

    With this video and 21 patches in 10 days it is already clear you guys are not greedy suits at all. Your passion to make this game truly awesome is crystal clear if you take the time to look into how you handle everything.

    You nailed everything from art, sound and music. It has that feeling the old Dungeon Keeper games had, but at the same time it’s uniqe! I truly love it!

    However it does still need ALOT of polish to truly make it shine. But with a honest team like this, i know it will get there in do time. And i’ll be here playing and waiting ;D

    Exkodius

  26. You’ve had just about the worst combination of events for a start-up company, having a highly ambitious game as your first product, working on a shoestring budget, and suffering a massive setback on the first year of the project’s life – that kind of conditions would have made many people quit. That you decided to carry through under tough conditions is ample proof of your determination.

    I’ve followed your updates since I purchased my copy of the game last August, and your dedication and interaction with customers was great pre-release, but it has been amazing post-release. 21 patches in less than two weeks is an insane number, and it proves that you actually care about your customers [and that your coders seriously need to take a break!]

    For my part, I’ve waited for a “DK 3” for more than a decade, and you’ve nailed that “DK spirit” so well that I can’t really care that the game wasn’t bug-free on April 2nd. I’m quite convinced that you’re doing what you can to hammer out the remaining bugs, and I look forward to seeing how the game will develop from here.

    Best of luck 🙂

  27. Just played for about half an hour today – massive improvement in stability with the most recent patch. Very much enjoying it in spite of the odd frustration – looking forward to continued improvements!

  28. dont be so hard on yourselves the wfto team are doing a great job this one stays on the hard drive till i die!

  29. If this is Subterranean Games first project to be released to the general public, then what a game to release. The Game has atmosphere, humour, addictiveness and is a challenge. I understand why you released the game as it was, but you’ve already addressed many of the bugs which plagued WFTO upon it’s release, and if this level of commitment is anything to go by then Subterranean Games has a bright future ahead of it! Just avoid selling out to EA Games or another big company somewhere down the line, as large companies like EA gobble up small companies to stifle the competition, then sit on their ideas for years only to spawn a shallow, money grabbing sequel or remake of the original game (Dungeon Keeper App for example)! When your company grows and becomes a global and recognised brand, as I’m sure it will, remember your origins and all the good (and bad) things you’ve learned. Thank you again for your time and effort on this game, it’s a joy to play. I wish you all the success you deserve. 😉

  30. I just want to sincerely thank you for working so diligently and making this wonderful game! I pre-ordered this game a year ago and every time I log into Steam i would eagerly look to see how far along progress was on this game, and truly I am not disappointed! I love this game, I have to pace myself so as not to try to play the whole thing in one day! The biggest issues I had were a bit of lag in the voice-overs and recently I cannot launch level 10, but I have every confidence that you all are working hard to fix any issues, and I completely understand. The amount of care that goes into addressing all concerns is truly wonderful, the dedication is so much better than any big name title I’ve played. Thank you so much for making this game and continuing to work tirelessly on it, the fans appreciate it, I appreciate it! Thank you!

    • I too am having problems with level 10. The game runs smoothly at first but then runs very slowly and frame rates drop right off. And when I saved the game after sending my minions over the bridge into enemy territory, the save game no longer loads and I get an error, resulting in having to close and reload the game to an earlier point in time! It seems that level 10 causes problems for some people and not for others… a hardware conflict with the game code perhaps?

  31. I also purchased this in early beta and have never been dissappointed yet, I expected bugs through the development and expect bugs to always get through as the game constantly evolves. You guys have done wonderful so far and I have been blown away by how much the game has become and will become. Keep up the amazing work !

  32. Well this clarifies some things. Personally I didnt have much bugs in the game except for one very annoying one; FPS lag when too many rooms (or too big of a part of the map) were(was) discovered. Still besides that happening on two missions (12 and 13 I believe) I really loved the game. Offcourse, level 8 I disliked (if thats the one with necromancers and not building a dungeon) but besides that it even gave a bit of a challenge at times. So well done and Im sure we all are confident you will iron out the remainder of the bugs and enjoy the game even more then we allready do.

  33. It’s true that I was disappointed when I saw that the game was so buggy even when I waited for the release to buy it.

    But then I saw how devoted you guys were. I have hardly ever seen a game being patched during the middle of the night of Easter.

    You’re amazing. I have nothing else to add.

  34. Heh guys good work. Now im not being offensive or anything but did you forget to put the firebreather in the sandbox mode? It doesnt bother me but im just wondering

  35. Hi there,
    I really like it that you are going to give us updates on the game and what you guys are planning next.
    I Enjoy the game so much, brings back good memories.
    The things I didn’t really like was that it looks too much on DK 2 instead of the first dungeon keeper. DK 1 owns DK 2 by far 😀
    ( maybe a little tip to make WFTO 2 more like DK 1) moehahahahahahahaahahahahahaha
    thnx cya

  36. I have seen the bugs (including a weird graphics bug wich turned the entire camera and interface upside down) but i have liked the game. And its playable for the most part. It seemed like those old school games from the past where you had to be wary of bugs but still kept you playing them no matter.

    still.

    Kill those darn bugs!

  37. Evil Genius was a bit of a flawed game in some respects, absoutely adictive in others. It’d be great if you moved to that after you’r over this one!

  38. Please don’t forget to think about what you’ll do after all the dust has settled down. Be it a new game, more DLC or something else entirely. Would be a shame for your studio to close, “just” because you worked with all your power “for free” on a game that is already out. And give yourself time to rest. Doesn’t help anybody if you die on burnout along the way.

  39. I was waiting for that game so long! And yes I like what you made of it – Played the first levels and will give it another try in a few months, hopefully that by this time the game runs well with Linux, because a the moment it’s a mess. I will for sure donate some more money then 🙂 Keep up the good work.

  40. Just wanted to say that even with the bugs, I’ve really been enjoying the game. I only play a couple hours on weekends, but this has taken me back to the good ol’ days of DKII.

    When it came up for sale on Steam, I did something I never do, I spent the extra to get the deluxe edition (I am of a limited budget and usually have to wait for a game to hit the bargain bin before I can pick it up). I’d been reading for over a year the progress and dedication you’ve all made and even though I really didn’t want the extras, I kicked in the extra cash for you to help an indie game star rise.

    Kudos and thanks!

  41. yes, we know, the game is not yet finished…
    but congratulation for the job you have done so far.

    It was a really a big challenge and I didn’t believe that it was possible for a small team with small budget to provide this result in only 27 month
    Many Thanks and Continue to improve it.
    We like it.

  42. As a company owner, designer and programmer working alone, i know very well how extremely difficult it can be reach deadlines even though you have all the right settings for just pushing it out. Unfortunately reality catches up and stuff that you could not possible expect start to crop up in piles of small bugs that just complicates stuff that should be simple, but you wade though it.

    I grew up with playing dungeon keeper 1 and 2 and playing on LAN and over the modem was extremely fun, this game bring back all of those memories with modern glorious graphics. I must say that from the betas i played of this game and then seeing the full version, it was an extremely positive experience. I can barely believe the difference you made form the betas to the finished version.

    Thanks for being honest and writing your story, i have already recommended the game to everyone i know 🙂

  43. Despite its bugs and the fact that it is not complete, this game brings back some good memories. Keep at it guys!

  44. The big problem is that the fund from KickStarter is not enough.
    For such a huge game like WFTO, 1 million is a more reasonable amount.
    I knew this. I bought the game but did not rush in to play it.
    Hopefully within 2-3 months all would be fixed and the game would be truly completed.

  45. Hi,

    One of my favorite game was Dungeon Keeper. I tired this game and now I have a new favorite game :). I can’t believe that I feel the same mood than in DK. For example: slap the lazy Imps and slap some pig when I make a mistake. 😀

    So thank you so much your work. I hope you will make some DLC for this game in the future or expansion 🙂

    Best regards,
    Gergely

  46. Simply: good job, guys. No worries about issues and lack of experience in full game produce cycle. It’s your first game! I am sure, that in time your product will shine, and as indie developer I am amazed how you evolved and dealt with the problems.