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Author Topic: Descent: Underground: "messy legal dispute"  (Read 2139 times)


Offline Scyphi

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Re: Descent: Underground: "messy legal dispute"
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2020, 06:27:42 AM »
Hmph. And here I was hoping getting Little Orbit's side of the story would help clarify everything. Instead, Little Orbit seems to be claiming nearly the exact opposite of what I've seen Descendant claim, so now I don't know who to believe. They can't BOTH be right, after all.  :-\

Despite both Little Orbit and Descendant having made claims that they still want to deliver the game, though, I am filled with doubt about whether it will actually happen, and if it even does, that it won't be dead on arrival due to the massive delay and all of the negative drama surrounding it souring public opinion.

Which would be a pity. There was a lot of mixed emotions around DU almost from the start, but it still did have some promise, and I was curious to see what the final product ultimately would've been.

But I guess we'll see. Story's still in progress, clearly.

Surprise, surprise, it doesn't sound like Interplay has been much of any meaningful help in resolving this.  ::)
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Offline VANGUARD

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Re: Descent: Underground: "messy legal dispute"
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2020, 09:52:49 AM »
I put in $5 I think for some kickstarter D3 like game. Not sure if it was that, overload, or that S one.

Offline Kaiaatzl

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Re: Descent: Underground: "messy legal dispute"
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2020, 05:44:46 PM »
I dunno... I'd say I'm a bit more inclined to believe something closer to Descendent's side of the story 'cause while you can see the thread of common reality towards it in LO's statement, LO's statement sounds very "rote"... a little too neat and tidy of a story to be much more than a story.  What I've heard from Descendent's side is a lot more complicated, and messy, and fraught with difficulty; and all of those are the signs of a story that would be much harder to make up.
That being said there probably are some details that fall somewhere between what either of the sides say.  There always are.

Offline Scyphi

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Re: Descent: Underground: "messy legal dispute"
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2020, 05:20:40 AM »
I'm a bit more inclined to side with Descendant as well, especially as Little Orbit claims Descendant didn't meet the standards for a final build of the game, but do NOT specify what they interpreted those standards as or what they entailed, and I know that was one BIG point of contention with Descendant over that, seeing Descendant claimed Little Orbit basically wanted them to scrap what they had and completely change their approach to the game up until then.

However, with the clearly heated tempers on both sides, it wouldn't surprise me if details are being exaggerated to make one side seem more demonized than the other, when it's entirely possible mistakes have been made on both sides.

Really, it altogether sounds like a dispute that didn't need to happen, and it's only hurting both sides, as well as the game they're both basically holding hostage over this.  ::)

*sigh* But what can you do, right?
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Offline Hunter

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Re: Descent: Underground: "messy legal dispute"
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2020, 07:21:35 PM »
It's a real mess how things have turned out. But there were a series of events that lead us here, and to be honest, though Little Orbit are being assholes - Descendant also have to take their fair share of the blame, which Wingman has not done. He has continued and continued to push the idea that they wanted to be a triple-A title with triple-A profit margins. That was never going to happen and the utter rejection of reality lead us down this path. If Descendant had stuck with the initial idea of a multiplayer title with a small singleplayer campaign, we'd probably not be in this situation. But I can understand that things can get out of control, costs can go up unexpectedly, and you can end up being in a financial black hole unable to escape.

Ultimately LO turned out to be an evil publisher, no surprise there. Descendant made some errors of judgement trusting them, and to be honest none of us envisioned there would be a publisher involved at all when D:U got started. I knew the instant that a relationship with a publisher was announced there'd be trouble down the road. We saw LO trying to have their cake and eat it too. And I believe feature creep played a part in the demise of D:U, initially brought on by contributions from players complaining that "this is not our Descent" and then compounded once Little Orbit started wanting more from the game. And the Descendant team, a great bunch of guys and I'm sure competent at their craft ultimately cared too much about making a profit, making a popular game, making triple A graphics etc. All of those things are fair, and I get that as a game developer you wanna be making money instead of building debt. But none of those things were about making a good Descent game. The focus was on the graphics, the focus was on throwing a wide net to capture a larger audience, and this wide net came with a huge price tag they weren't prepared for. And so they turned to Little Orbit to get an injection of cash and 'talent' in the hopes that their game could be propelled into the spotlight.

Overload is a game that sits on the opposite end of that. The focus was not on graphics, not on making a popular game. The focus was on making a good game, and honoring the Descent legacy. Now you can say that Overload is a financial failure (and you'd be correct) but I would say a financial failure with honor is better than being a sellout, which Descendant either by wilful ignorance or plain old naivety - or perhaps just a case of mental gymnastics induced by vertigo - ended up becoming. Sure, we'd love Overload to have re-ignited the 6DOF genre and get massive amounts of attention the way the original Descent did, but I just don't think that was ever going to happen in today's landscape. Now it's worth mentioning that Wingman is not to be blamed for this mess, only that some decisions were made that lead us down this path.

I can only hope that this legal dispute is resolved and the game ships in one form or another. For those of us that contributed large sums of money to the project would like to see a return on that investment at some point. And I hope that Wingman and co come out of this with at least some sense of achievement, and perhaps a tidy sum to recoup losses.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2020, 10:10:51 PM by Hunter »
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Offline Scyphi

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Re: Descent: Underground: "messy legal dispute"
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2020, 01:44:59 PM »
Quote
...making triple A graphics...
The focus was on the graphics...

Eh, I dunno, Hunter...if I'm perfectly honest, I was never really that impressed with DU's graphics, and I remember others who'd say they'd agree with me on that. There was just always something about them that seemed naggingly unpolished about them, even when the game was shown running at max settings. Not enough to spoil the game for me of course, but enough for it to stick out. DU may have the superior graphics rendering capability technically than Overload, but it never felt like it to me, so I'd argue DU was never using that to its full potential then.

They certainly weren't well optimized at the very least. The last time I got to play DU, the game looked its best at the max settings, but if starting turning down any of those settings, the graphics very quickly started looking more and more...underwhelming, to put it politely, and it'd still run laggy. Don't get that with Overload, or a lot of other modern games I play. Though in Descendant's defense, I know they were trying to address this problem shortly before Little Orbit entered the picture, so it's my hope this has been addressed since then...but regardless, I remain skeptical about its quality of graphics ever really being triple-A level or even really trying to be.

Still, you're probably right about the feature creep being one of the issues. I do recall a lot of instances on their forums of players coming on to say "hey, can you put this and this into the game?" and, if a good number of players expressed interest too, Descendant usually promised to try and look into it, assuming they wouldn't have to rewrite too much of the game to do it. Descendant had a very "features determined by popular opinion" approach to game development, which is great, but looking back, I could see how it could also nip them in the butts.

But I can also recall plenty of instances where it felt like one had to twist Descendant's arm to include features that should've been obvious, especially ones that were iconic Descent features. Obviously some they couldn't include because of rights issues, but for the others they could, they seemed really slow and reluctant to introduce them.

Like death rolls, which eventually did make it into the game, but only after a lot of pushback from players who'd noticed their absence.

And flares, which were functionally absent for a long stretch of the game's alpha development and despite arguments from players (and me) that flares were wanted and useful in gameplay (something Descendant kept arguing against). When they finally did get in the game, it was a very clunky and unrefined set-up that seemed added more reluctantly and half-heartedly than anything, at least until development went...well...underground (pun intended :P).

Personally, I think part of DU's real problem was that Descendant just didn't know what they wanted the game to be, or at least didn't have a super clear picture for it. It probably didn't help that it all started not being Descent at all. Then Interplay offered to stick the Descent brand on it, abruptly changing course on development, converting a game that hadn't been meant to be true Descent into an actual Descent game, and the transition was...more than rough. It left DU feeling like Descent at times, but at other times decidedly like something else, and then at yet other times like some weird hybrid of the two, and not in good ways. It at times it challenged one's belief if it was really going to work out as everyone envisioned.

Especially after Overload entered the picture, and I still argue that this ultimately hurt DU's chances in the end, even without the legal trouble. Especially as Overload undersold, as I fear it made Little Orbit loose whatever faith they had in the project actually breaking even and may have helped spark this dispute in the first place.  ::)

Quote
If Descendant had stuck with the initial idea of a multiplayer title with a small singleplayer campaign, we'd probably not be in this situation.

Probably, but that was never really what players wanted, let alone Descendant. They promised that they would do a full-on SP campaign way back with the kickstarter, and it was clear that this more what the community was interested in, because when no SP campaign was immediately forthcoming, DU started getting a lot of flak for putting the focus on multiplayer first, even accusations of not delivering on their promises, at least by those that hadn't done their research and learned Descendant had focused on MP first deliberately, arguing it'll help them balance things for the SP campaign's development. But in the meantime, DU started struggling to hold attention because the MP alone wasn't enough, and the game before it vanished from Steam had been getting mixed reviews from underwhelmed players. It needed that expansive singleplayer campaign, or it probably would've flopped harder than Overload did.

Really, what DU should've done was what Overload did--focused on the singleplayer first and then focused on the multiplayer. I even distinctly recall telling Descendant flat-out that this was probably the smarter choice on their forums, with a number of others agreeing with me, but Descendant was insistent on their MP first, SP later approach. Then, when the above repercussions followed, it probably helped drive Descendant to pursue the deal with Little Orbit in hopes that'll speed things along...until it didn't.

*sigh* Actually, I probably need to stop it here--this is dredging up a lot of suppressed frustrations about DU that I had thought I'd moved past on, and it's only making me feel...well, for lack of a better term, "hukblahblah," as a...particular cartoon horse...once put it.  :P
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Offline Hunter

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Re: Descent: Underground: "messy legal dispute"
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2020, 04:52:14 PM »
Well, I didn't say they succeeded at making great graphics for D:U.  ;D The early access stuff was pretty awful, but they did make a few improvements in the BETA. And I truly do believe that D:U could've been a good addition to the franchise based on what I played of the campaign. It would've been different. Yes, some people hated it, but some people were playing it until the servers closed. It's just D3 all over again, a game which to this day gets hate from the hardcore D1 players (not always unjustly, but at times tiresome). I never played that much of D:U, so I couldn't say if I personally would've liked it or not, but it just felt like the same old tribalism rearing its head again.

Unfortunately my memory of D:U and its development is a little vague now. I was certainly excited by the Kickstarter, but lost interest after a couple of years. The game was nearly finished, sans bug fixing and balancing. And that makes this disappointing. But I don't find myself getting frustrated at all with this, because we've still got Overload and three great Descent games to continuously enjoy (+ the benefit of community creations).
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Offline Kaiaatzl

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Re: Descent: Underground: "messy legal dispute"
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2020, 08:43:59 PM »
Yeah, I think I said somewhere before that with Overload having turned out to actually be the game I waited 20 years for (and it still feels weird to say that!) the worst D:U can do for me is not matter.
I'd certainly like it if it did matter.  But like any good cat with a belly full of antelope, the thing I want most is something I already have.

Offline Scyphi

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Re: Descent: Underground: "messy legal dispute"
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2020, 06:41:53 AM »
Honestly, at this point, really all I need is just some closure finally on the matter, to definitively know if it really is or isn't going to release at all.

If it does release though, I'll happily still give it a go. I mean I backed it in the kickstarter and all too, so it'll be coming my way anyway if it ever does release.

I guess I just have some pent up frustrations over the whole affair to deal with too.  ::)
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Offline Kaiaatzl

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Re: Descent: Underground: "messy legal dispute"
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2020, 10:01:02 AM »
Yeah that's probably a pretty fair length to take it.

I've seen other people say things like "oh well I backed it on kickstarter and now I've thrown my money down the toilet" or "they stole my kickstarter money"...  but wasn't like they didn't know the risks when they put money on a kickstarter in the first place.

 

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