NS2 Launch Postmortem on Gamasutra

ComproxComprox *chortle*CanadaMembers, Super Administrators, Forum Admins, NS1 Playtester, NS2 Developer, Constellation, NS2 Playtester, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Silver, Subnautica Developer, Subnautica Playtester, Pistachionauts Join Date: 2002-01-23 Member: 7Posts: 6,616 admin
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/187299/postmortem_unknown_worlds_.php

Find out what went right and what went wrong according to Charlie.
We are now figuring out how best to support Natural Selection 2 with new maps, weapons, etc. while also allowing us to start working on a new game. While the road we traveled was hard, we consider ourselves extremely lucky that we never had to modify our vision for the game to fit a marketing plan, publisher desire, current trend or brand. The game we set out to make is the game our players (eventually) got.
NAPT
BacillusNarfwakdragonmith

Comments

  • BacillusBacillus Members Join Date: 2006-11-02 Member: 58241Posts: 2,774 Advanced user
    Interesting read. It's always nice to hear dev thoughts on the process.
    Industry
  • L34DL34D Members Join Date: 2007-12-28 Member: 63280Posts: 69
    300.000 copies. WOW! 200.000 more and we have NS1. :D
  • irEricirEric Members Join Date: 2012-11-20 Member: 172615Posts: 100
    edited February 2013
    quite proud I play a game from a team like this. Awesome plywood booth! lol!
  • BoBiNoUBoBiNoU Members Join Date: 2007-12-27 Member: 63274Posts: 133
    Went through the whole article.
    Very interesting.

    UWE you can be proud.
    Hope you can still sell a lot of NS2 copies and keep improving it a bit while starting new projects
  • ultranewbultranewb Pro Bug Hunter Members Join Date: 2004-07-21 Member: 30026Posts: 276 Fully active user
    Armor and Weapon upgrades, as far as aliens are concerned, these are magic numbers. In other games, you will - at least - see the armor change. In reverse, the same goes for Carapace.
  • SteveRockSteveRock Members, NS2 Developer, Subnautica Developer Join Date: 2012-10-01 Member: 161215Posts: 486 Advanced user
    ultranewb wrote: »
    Armor and Weapon upgrades, as far as aliens are concerned, these are magic numbers. In other games, you will - at least - see the armor change. In reverse, the same goes for Carapace.

    We actually agree with you and have been discussing how we can address this lately.
    NarfwakGISPOutlawDr
  • ShakerShaker Members, NS2 Map Tester, Reinforced - Shadow Join Date: 2002-11-21 Member: 9582Posts: 405 Fully active user
    Great read for sure
    My Stream! Usually playing NS2 or mapping for NS2. Sometimes other stuff.
    http://www.twitch.tv/shakertime
    aka nau
  • ScardyBobScardyBob ScardyBob Forum Admins, Forum Moderators, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Shadow Join Date: 2009-11-25 Member: 69528Posts: 4,983 mod
    I can certainly understand the aversion to the standard fare of corporate america (meetings, business plans, managers, schedules, etc), but I'd have to contest the description of NS2's development as unstructured or of that being a worthy goal. Instead of formal meetings with agendas and note-taking, you had informal discussions at lunchtime. Rather than well-defined job descriptions, you did your best to match people's backgrounds with the needed tasks (e.g. Cory working on art assets, Max working on engine programming, Hugh doing the carpentry :)). That largely worked for a business like UWE because they are small, rather than managers, business plans, and meetings being bad ideas. If UWE had 100 employees instead of the 10 or so, informal lunch meetings and undefined roles would have been a disaster rather than a godsend.

    Also, as much as I hate deadlines and crunch times, I view them as a necessary evil that should reserved for the most important items. Development will always fill the time allotted as anyone working on it can always find another thing to tweak, fix, or implement. Specifying a deadline is a great way to get everyone involved focused on the most important tasks while also providing them a concrete goal.

    The problem, as it appears to me as a gaming industry outsider, isn't that crunch times happen, but that they never seem to end.
    GISP
  • Bone-PrinceBone-Prince Members Join Date: 2002-11-03 Member: 5475Posts: 183
    edited February 2013
    That was an interesting article.

    I think the developers should investigate possibly having the expansions to NS2 to be 'pay-what-you-want'. It is a middle ground between not segregating the player base, but still being able to recover costs from the costly development process.

    (As an aside, I rediscovered my old NS1 forum account. A fun discovery to say the least.)

    EDIT: This is already a thread on that idea. Derp.
    Post edited by Bone-Prince on
  • SquishpokePOOPFACESquishpokePOOPFACE -21,248 posts (ignore below)Members, Reinforced - Shadow Join Date: 2012-10-31 Member: 165262Posts: 1,669 Advanced user
    Great article, and I loved reading the design document. NS2 was no accident, judging by its contents. ;)
    To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ to play Natural Selection 2. The gameplay is extremely subtle, and without a solid grasp of military strategy and advanced mathematics you won't even win a single game. Theres also the game's nihilistic outlook, which is deftly woven into the game. The maps and artwork draw heavily from Riddley Scott's Alien franchise, for instance. The players understand this stuff, they have the intellectual capacity to truly appreciate the depth of the game, to realise that it's not just great, that it also says something about LIFE. As a consequence people who dislike Natural Selection 2 truly ARE idiots. of course they wouldn't appreciate, for instance, the humour in the Marines' existential catchphrase "how do I get to be so good", which itself is a cryptic reference to the high degree of intelligence required to play the game as intended. I'm smirking right now just imagining one of those addlepated simpletons scratching their heads in confusion when spectating a game. What fools... how I pity them. And, yes, by the way, i DO have a Fade tatoo. And no, you cannot see it. it's for the ladies' eyes only, and even then they have to demonstrate that they are within 50 hive skill points of my own (preferable lower) beforehand. Nothin personnel kid.
  • _Necro__Necro_ Members, Reinforced - Shadow Join Date: 2011-02-15 Member: 81895Posts: 1,904 Fully active user
    SteveRock wrote: »
    ultranewb wrote: »
    Armor and Weapon upgrades, as far as aliens are concerned, these are magic numbers. In other games, you will - at least - see the armor change. In reverse, the same goes for Carapace.

    We actually agree with you and have been discussing how we can address this lately.

    The change in weapon sounds for higher levels wasn't a bad idea. You only chose the wrong sound. ;)
    Different color of tracer rounds would be nice too.
    A different color for parts of the armor could work too.
    Narfwak
  • NarfwakNarfwak Members, Super Administrators, Forum Admins, NS1 Playtester, Playtest Lead, Forum Moderators, Constellation, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Supporter, Reinforced - Silver, Reinforced - Gold, Reinforced - Diamond, Reinforced - Shadow, Subnautica PT Lead, NS2 Community Developer Join Date: 2002-11-02 Member: 5258Posts: 3,785 admin
    edited February 2013
    _Necro_ wrote: »
    SteveRock wrote: »
    ultranewb wrote: »
    Armor and Weapon upgrades, as far as aliens are concerned, these are magic numbers. In other games, you will - at least - see the armor change. In reverse, the same goes for Carapace.

    We actually agree with you and have been discussing how we can address this lately.

    The change in weapon sounds for higher levels wasn't a bad idea. You only chose the wrong sound. ;)
    Different color of tracer rounds would be nice too.
    A different color for parts of the armor could work too.

    IIRC the arms lab was going to animate differently depending on what it was upgrading and to what level it was upgrading. I'm not sure if that's still in the pipe, but I really like that idea because it promotes scouting.

    The article is awesome and I recommend that anyone with an interest in game design should check it out!
    UWE Playtest Lead
    Be the change you wish to see.
    Twitter
    Kalabalana
  • KalabalanaKalabalana Members Join Date: 2003-11-14 Member: 22859Posts: 1,049 Advanced user
    I believe all researching structures should indicate they are doing so, and with what. With the arms lab, the hologram is more than enough, change up that model 5 more times and it's perfect. Armory to advanced is done.
    Proto and armory-items need clever ideas for their researching. Maybe an alien spur will grow longer tendrils for celerity, and fatter for adrenaline. Veil mushrooms out for cloak, changes color for silence, crags not sure.
    Hives can do the same too! Maybe a crag hive gets a more textured surface, shift hive is more wet and slimy, shade hive becomes more translucent, etc
  • chikotochikoto Members Join Date: 2013-02-15 Member: 183078Posts: 18
    Really interesting article.

    Led me to Indie Booth, which was also great.
    ritualsacrifice
  • BensonBenson Members, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Shadow Join Date: 2012-03-07 Member: 148303Posts: 1,296 Advanced user
    I am proud to be a member of this community, and equally proud to have contributed to UWE's success.

    I just have to ask though, what is this next game that keeps getting hinted at?
    If we are to be damned, let us be damned for what we really are. - Capt. Jean Luc Picard
  • FrankerZFrankerZ Members Join Date: 2012-05-06 Member: 151627Posts: 163 Advanced user
    I think the biggest flaw was the lack of publicity, when ns2 launched it felt like I couldn't avoid running into Chivalry on game review sites, they did a great job of being the fairy indie game all game sites would follow compared to ns2.
  • Squeal_Like_A_PigSqueal_Like_A_Pig Janitor Members, Super Administrators, NS1 Playtester, NS2 Developer, Reinforced - Supporter, WC 2013 - Silver, Subnautica Developer Join Date: 2002-01-25 Member: 66Posts: 2,816 admin

    FrankerZ wrote: »
    I think the biggest flaw was the lack of publicity, when ns2 launched it felt like I couldn't avoid running into Chivalry on game review sites, they did a great job of being the fairy indie game all game sites would follow compared to ns2.
    We would have loved more publicity, as well, but I honestly don't believe there was much more we could have done for the launch then what we did (without spending massive amounts of money).

    I don't think Chivalry did much more to promote themselves, since they were also a small developer with little to no money, as far as I can tell. But their game is just much more accessible to a main stream audience...and you get to hack off limbs and heads in that game, which = instant crowdpleaser. And, in fact, when we did first release we had a bigger launch then Chivalry initially (which came out around the same time as NS2), but they made a large comeback around thanksgiving, due to a large TGS network tournament between all the popular youtube personalities, and from being in the Steam Fall sale, and they really took off after that.

    --Cory


    SquishpokePOOPFACE
  • BoBiNoUBoBiNoU Members Join Date: 2007-12-27 Member: 63274Posts: 133
    You need to keep in mind that Chivalry has been on almost constant sales since its release as well.
    I dont remember how far NS2 went ( -30% ? ) but the discount is surely playing a big role in the commercial success of the sale ( well it's a bit obvious when I read it out loud ).
    I'm sure that in the upcoming sales if you drop to 50% then 75% later on you'll still get a fair ammount of sales.
  • chikotochikoto Members Join Date: 2013-02-15 Member: 183078Posts: 18
    edited February 2013
    Don't forget the option of a free weekend.

    I have watched this do wonders for the playerbase of games that were improved later in their life-cycle: Payday, Red Orchestra 2, Left 4 Dead 2, Killing Floor to name but a few.

    However, a more satisfying tutorial or training would need to be implemented for maximum player retention.
  • ritualsacrificeritualsacrifice Members, Reinforced - Shadow Join Date: 2012-11-14 Member: 171148Posts: 709 Advanced user
    Great read, it's always interesting to get a little peak what's going on behind the scenes. Hope this new update does well!
  • ThorondorThorondor Members Join Date: 2004-07-06 Member: 29745Posts: 36
    edited February 2013
    --but they made a large comeback around thanksgiving, due to a large TGS network tournament between all the popular youtube personalities, and from being in the Steam Fall sale, and they really took off after that.

    --Cory
    Well, get on with it then ;D

    Let's see... TotalBiscuit, Simon, Lewis, Hannah, and Sips vs. Jesse Cox, Dodger, Crendor, Jirard and AngryJoe. Husky and Day9 as the commanders.
    There you go, feel free to use my idea ;)

    Oh, and make it a charity even as well!

    Let mortal heroes sing your fame --- www.yoclan.co.uk
    _Necro_
  • RuntehRunteh Members, Reinforced - Shadow Join Date: 2010-06-26 Member: 72163Posts: 1,883
    The best thing to do would be for perhaps the two best clans currently to command, and the youtube celebs to play on the ground. Then just have Hugh/Wasabi spectate or something so that the footage could be spliced with theirs.

    Getting these guys to command and trained up sufficiently would take quite a bit of time.
  • HamletHamlet Members, Reinforced - Shadow Join Date: 2008-08-17 Member: 64837Posts: 373 Advanced user
    edited February 2013
    New things I learned:
    1. NS2 pulled a "Kickstarter" way before DFA and all the other indie devs jumped (strike that) piled on the popular crowdfunding train.
    2. NS2 was involved in the first Humble Bundle (another thing that got huge and now everyone knows it)

    Aaand the best quote goes to... *opening envelope ceremoniously*

    *dramatic pause*
    starting a company is similar to getting your MBA: it takes about the same amount of time and money (more, in our case) and will teach you everything you need to know to start a business successfully. Maybe your first business won't be a success, but at least you weren't in school, where there's not even a chance of success.
  • Mattk50Mattk50 Members, Reinforced - Shadow Join Date: 2013-02-04 Member: 182824Posts: 264 Fully active user
    Doing a gorgeous free weekend, this weekend (maybe from friday to tuesday to catch more ppl) paired with a 25-50% discount will probably get you a large amount of sales. Im not sure on what short notice you can enact these events through steam, but if you can its worth doing this weekend or next weekend. I'll invite all my buds.
    Hamlet
  • BestProfileNameBestProfileName Members Join Date: 2013-01-03 Member: 177320Posts: 448 Advanced user
    I totally agree with the people saying "Free Weekend".

    That is a great idea. If you get one guy to get the game, he'll get one friend to get it.

    If only 1 in 10 people then buy the game, assuming you get a healthy 100,000+ people trying the free weekend (it's normally much higher but take that as an exanple), then you've got ten thousand buys.

    I actually think NS2 would get more.

    Way too late to get a free weekend this weekend, I imagine, but hopefully around Easter?
    Hamlet
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