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PRODUCER’S LETTER – OCTOBER 2020

    • 3034 posts
    October 16, 2020 6:37 AM PDT

    Liuterally, eunichron is correct. They didn't say that they couldn't finish the game without more resources. They said they couldn't finish it in a reasonable time frame.

    Practically, antonius is correct. Yes one unpaid person with a solid life expectancy may be able to finish it by 2035. Using 2015-2020 code and graphics. In a state that only computer historians with equipment from museums will be able to run.

    They said they cannot get it out in a reasonable time frame without more investment - as many of us more-or-less strongly suspected. In effect, if there is no investment and no publisher within the next six months to a year it is one with Nineveh and Tyre. 

    So it falls upon us to do what we can to help. One form of help is a positive attitude. Sure a half full glass my wind up empty but assuming such will do no one any good. Let us try to be positive here and if we cannot perhaps best to just lurk than to comment. Constructive suggestions for game improvement is part of our job - that is what development forums are for. Doom and gloom and "the game will never make it" is not constructive and all Gods willing not accurate either.

    • 514 posts
    October 16, 2020 6:49 AM PDT

    Naos said:

    I hate to jump on the word mincing train, but to me, the statement "without more money we cannot finish Pantheon in a reasonable timeframe" effectively means without more money it will not come out, it will be complete junk. There are only three ways this can play out:

    1) They receive money the money they need to complete the game in a "reasonable time".

    2) Development halts in lieu of more funding to completely finish development. The game falls behind the technological curve, and becomes an "outdated product" since development had been halted. Think developing a game in 95', halting development until enough funding is acquired, which happens in 2015, then releasing your 95' game in 2020. 

    3) Development continues on minimal funding and skeleton crew with no clear release date. Funding sources and crew must be able to sustain an "indefinite development" schedule, otherwise, development must halt. If funding sources or crew output drops below a certain point, the project must release "as-is" or be canceled. 

    The way I see it, there is only one way a "good game" comes out (if they receive the money they need to finish development in a reasonable time). There are two ways a "junk product" comes out (if they release an outdated product or unfinished product due to lack of funding). The last way is they just cancel the project. 

    I'm not saying there is only a 25% chance a good game comes out. I'm saying 3/4 of possible outcomes results in a game no one wants to play or no game at all. "Reasonable timeframe" is very significant wording and I would equate it to the phrase "time is of the essence" in contract law in regards to performance. When the terms in the contract are not fulfilled when "time is of the essence", it is considered a failure to perform and therefore a breach of contract, and that is a basic contract law principle. 

     

    Fact is allot of games in development fail to launch even when they have all the funding they need. Pantheon seems to be on the right track by things we see, This link below scream how well the VR team is getting this right.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6tZo9wjqJg&feature=emb_title

    But in the end if this project fails the VR team is not accountable for that. They are busting their butts to give us the game we asked for. Games fail to launch and some games launch. 

    • 14 posts
    October 16, 2020 8:42 AM PDT

    Nanfoodle said:

    Fact is allot of games in development fail to launch even when they have all the funding they need. Pantheon seems to be on the right track by things we see, This link below scream how well the VR team is getting this right.

    But in the end if this project fails the VR team is not accountable for that. They are busting their butts to give us the game we asked for. Games fail to launch and some games launch. 

    So, who's accountable for the failure then? I can tell you pledge packages include copies of the game and game time. By purchasing any of the higher tier pledge packages, you are in essence entering a contract with VR that requires them to 'perform'. If there is no game, there are no copies of the game and no game time, and that is clearly a lack of performance. If the game does not release, VR would have to refund everyone whose pledge included copies of the game, physical items, etc. or they and their employees would be the obvious defendants in a breach of contract or deceptive business practices lawsuit.

    The scary part is the "level of performance" could be argued, allowing VR to release a 'steaming pile' and then claiming they have met the performance obligations of the pledge. Of course, that would be unethical, but it could still be used as an argument for completing the contractual obligations nonetheless. 


    This post was edited by Naos at October 16, 2020 8:43 AM PDT
    • 190 posts
    October 16, 2020 9:00 AM PDT

    dorotea said:They said they cannot get it out in a reasonable time frame without more investment - as many of us more-or-less strongly suspected. In effect, if there is no investment and no publisher within the next six months to a year it is one with Nineveh and Tyre.

    I think that's a fair assessment, but I also think the situation is not that dire, as "reasonable timeframe" is open to interpretation. There are any number of publishers that are happy to throw money at any project willing to compromise its principles. If VR is still in the position of having the luxury of shopping around for publishers, Behemoth isn't coming for them yet.

    • 514 posts
    October 16, 2020 9:45 AM PDT

    Naos said:

    Nanfoodle said:

    Fact is allot of games in development fail to launch even when they have all the funding they need. Pantheon seems to be on the right track by things we see, This link below scream how well the VR team is getting this right.

    But in the end if this project fails the VR team is not accountable for that. They are busting their butts to give us the game we asked for. Games fail to launch and some games launch. 

    So, who's accountable for the failure then? I can tell you pledge packages include copies of the game and game time. By purchasing any of the higher tier pledge packages, you are in essence entering a contract with VR that requires them to 'perform'. If there is no game, there are no copies of the game and no game time, and that is clearly a lack of performance. If the game does not release, VR would have to refund everyone whose pledge included copies of the game, physical items, etc. or they and their employees would be the obvious defendants in a breach of contract or deceptive business practices lawsuit.

    The scary part is the "level of performance" could be argued, allowing VR to release a 'steaming pile' and then claiming they have met the performance obligations of the pledge. Of course, that would be unethical, but it could still be used as an argument for completing the contractual obligations nonetheless. 

     

    Backing a game by a company that has never made a game is much like gambling and the perks of a copy of the game and game time are perks, not you buying game time or a copy of anything. Only one you can hold responsible is you. Unless VR does not spend the money you gave them on making Pantheon and you can prove that. Good thing VR has held to their word and doing well with what little they have been given. 

    • 1890 posts
    October 16, 2020 10:05 AM PDT

    crazysyd102 said:

    philo said:The thing that jumped out at me was: "We certainly are not going to spend years in PA5" So they are on the clock. They wont spend years...being more than 1. I have been conditioned to not believe what we are told by VR based on at least a dozen other statements. We will see if we are in pa5 next Nov or not.

    Sorry that I must correct you. They won't spend years, this means to me less than 2 years, so 1 year, 11 months and 30 days.

    Had too many math lessons...

    Lets not nitpick a few months when they have been multiple years late on a dozen other time estimates.

    You seem to be missing the bigger picture.  They have to makeup for past failures.  Being at least on time or preferably early on what they tell us would go a long way to earning back peoples trust.

    Under promise and over deliver.  So far it has been the opposite.


    This post was edited by philo at October 16, 2020 10:10 AM PDT
    • 373 posts
    October 16, 2020 10:14 AM PDT

    This is a good state of the game update. Makes you realize how long its been since we had something that substantial. Just orienting people with a “state of the game” is so valuable. We get that feeling of being lost in the woods sometimes I think without it. The term “arc of Patheon’s development” is a good choice of words because I think it helps put a mental timeline in place. And with the way that it is laid out, with shorter, focused testing sessions moving forward, I think there will be a tangible feeling of progression for the community. 

    We know the questions about Pantheon’s finances have always been there, and the most consistent message we’ve received in the community is that it is “funded through to launch” with any additional funding simply serving to speed up development. In my opinion, when they say “we’re going to need more resources to get Pantheon done sooner than our modest team can realistically do by themselves in a reasonable timeframe”, its an admission that while technically what they’ve said previously is true, it wasn’t the whole story. To wit, if launch is 8 years away, yes, they were fully funded. But in this letter there is an acknowledgment that this is not “a reasonable timeframe”. Let’s be honest; its really easy to see this as a roadblock, and like I said, I think we will see a lot of people who see challenges as insurmountable saying “told you so” and “dead game” and all that. But let me suggest we reframe it, because for me, this means an important truth was realized by VR. What I hear, is that its time to market what they’ve built. The game is in a place where they believe it can attract the investment and/or publisher needed. So rather than languishing in an extended development time, this means they are actively seeking to get the game done in a “reasonable” amount of time.

    We'll be breaking down the whole newsletter on the Rewind podcast this weekend, with some comments from this thread for discussion if you want to tune in. Links in the Fan Creations forum. Cheers!

    • 1127 posts
    October 16, 2020 10:51 AM PDT

    Naos said:

    So, who's accountable for the failure then? I can tell you pledge packages include copies of the game and game time. By purchasing any of the higher tier pledge packages, you are in essence entering a contract with VR that requires them to 'perform'. If there is no game, there are no copies of the game and no game time, and that is clearly a lack of performance. If the game does not release, VR would have to refund everyone whose pledge included copies of the game, physical items, etc. or they and their employees would be the obvious defendants in a breach of contract or deceptive business practices lawsuit.

    Not everything that happens in life is "someone's fault". VR agreed to TRY to make a game. They never guaranteed to not fail. And that truth is spelled out repeatedly in the terms of service that you and everyone else agreed to when pledging or subscribing. Here's a few quotes from the 'contract' you agreed to:

    By pledging or subscribing on this site, you agree to be bound by the Terms and Conditions herein.

    VR offers no guarantees or warranties of performance, service, Pantheon Rise of the Fallen (“PRotF”) completion or delivery of Pledge Package items.

    While VR will make a best faith effort to complete, release and support PRotF, game development is a high risk endeavor. For any number of reasons, VR may not be able to complete PRotF, offer access to the game, or may not be able to deliver some or all items listed in the Pledge Packages.

    VR will make a best effort to provide the reward(s) offered as part of subscription plans, shop items, or future virtual in-game items, but delivery is not guaranteed.

    VR does not offer refunds under any circumstances including but not limited to cases when it is unable to deliver all of part of a PRotF or a Pledge Package.

    No warranties

    You must have missed that class in law school.


    This post was edited by Jothany at October 16, 2020 10:51 AM PDT
    • 1327 posts
    October 16, 2020 11:46 AM PDT

    Always important to remember that Kickstarter and other forms of Crowd Funding is by no means a contract and you are in fact giving away your money.  In theory the company will often give you something back should they succeed but what they give you may not match what they originally intended to.  For example almost all the pledges include cosmetic items, if VR decided to do away with all cosmetic items as some people are requesting then those reward will never be fulfilled.

    Crowd Fund at your own peril. 

    • 852 posts
    October 16, 2020 11:53 AM PDT

    Jothany said:

    Naos said:

    So, who's accountable for the failure then? I can tell you pledge packages include copies of the game and game time. By purchasing any of the higher tier pledge packages, you are in essence entering a contract with VR that requires them to 'perform'. If there is no game, there are no copies of the game and no game time, and that is clearly a lack of performance. If the game does not release, VR would have to refund everyone whose pledge included copies of the game, physical items, etc. or they and their employees would be the obvious defendants in a breach of contract or deceptive business practices lawsuit.

    Not everything that happens in life is "someone's fault". VR agreed to TRY to make a game. They never guaranteed to not fail. And that truth is spelled out repeatedly in the terms of service that you and everyone else agreed to when pledging or subscribing. Here's a few quotes from the 'contract' you agreed to:

    By pledging or subscribing on this site, you agree to be bound by the Terms and Conditions herein.

    VR offers no guarantees or warranties of performance, service, Pantheon Rise of the Fallen (“PRotF”) completion or delivery of Pledge Package items.

    While VR will make a best faith effort to complete, release and support PRotF, game development is a high risk endeavor. For any number of reasons, VR may not be able to complete PRotF, offer access to the game, or may not be able to deliver some or all items listed in the Pledge Packages.

    VR will make a best effort to provide the reward(s) offered as part of subscription plans, shop items, or future virtual in-game items, but delivery is not guaranteed.

    VR does not offer refunds under any circumstances including but not limited to cases when it is unable to deliver all of part of a PRotF or a Pledge Package.

    No warranties

    You must have missed that class in law school.

    And you must have missed the part of law school where you learn that not everything written holds up in court.

    Just because they say it, does not make it legal and even necessarily binding.

    When I contract someone to build a fence, I don't expect to see a picture of what the fence will look like when it's completed, for 7 years. And then be told that all the money for the fence was spent making and re-making that picture.

    Hard-coding a couple prop-up zones for demonstration purposes can be construed the same way. Re-tooling, tweaking them year after year... And now we hear - Oh now we're serious about making a game, so we're coding it the way real games are made. Please send more money.

    • 514 posts
    October 16, 2020 11:57 AM PDT

    zewtastic said:

    Jothany said:

    Naos said:

    So, who's accountable for the failure then? I can tell you pledge packages include copies of the game and game time. By purchasing any of the higher tier pledge packages, you are in essence entering a contract with VR that requires them to 'perform'. If there is no game, there are no copies of the game and no game time, and that is clearly a lack of performance. If the game does not release, VR would have to refund everyone whose pledge included copies of the game, physical items, etc. or they and their employees would be the obvious defendants in a breach of contract or deceptive business practices lawsuit.

    Not everything that happens in life is "someone's fault". VR agreed to TRY to make a game. They never guaranteed to not fail. And that truth is spelled out repeatedly in the terms of service that you and everyone else agreed to when pledging or subscribing. Here's a few quotes from the 'contract' you agreed to:

    By pledging or subscribing on this site, you agree to be bound by the Terms and Conditions herein.

    VR offers no guarantees or warranties of performance, service, Pantheon Rise of the Fallen (“PRotF”) completion or delivery of Pledge Package items.

    While VR will make a best faith effort to complete, release and support PRotF, game development is a high risk endeavor. For any number of reasons, VR may not be able to complete PRotF, offer access to the game, or may not be able to deliver some or all items listed in the Pledge Packages.

    VR will make a best effort to provide the reward(s) offered as part of subscription plans, shop items, or future virtual in-game items, but delivery is not guaranteed.

    VR does not offer refunds under any circumstances including but not limited to cases when it is unable to deliver all of part of a PRotF or a Pledge Package.

    No warranties

    You must have missed that class in law school.

    And you must have missed the part of law school where you learn that not everything written holds up in court.

    Just because they say it, does not make it legal and even necessarily binding.

    When I contract someone to build a fence, I don't expect to see a picture of what the fence will look like when it's completed, for 7 years. And then be told that all the money for the fence was spent making and re-making that picture.

    Hard-coding a couple prop-up zones for demonstration purposes can be construed the same way. Re-tooling, tweaking them year after year... And now we hear - Oh now we're serious about making a game, so we're coding it the way real games are made. Please send more money.

     

    And in the game industry many law suits have been put forward. Only ones that gained any traction in the court was studios that did not spend the money they recived from fans, on the game itself, staff, facility used to run the company or such.  

    • 2872 posts
    October 16, 2020 1:00 PM PDT

    zewtastic said:

    When I contract someone to build a fence, I don't expect to see a picture of what the fence will look like when it's completed, for 7 years. And then be told that all the money for the fence was spent making and re-making that picture.

    Good thing this is nothing like that then. 

    • 197 posts
    October 16, 2020 1:05 PM PDT

    Its great to hear that they are moving into a true pre-alpha now, it sounds like the last 4 stages where all different builds of the base system so this 5th build is the one that going forward will be used with all the classes and everything else built onto it.

    I'm always up for any info they put out but I'm also good with them focusing more on the actual work itself, with such a small team time spent counseling the fans is time that could be spent working. It sounds and looks like they'vw gotten a ton of work done since starting PF last year.

    • 411 posts
    October 16, 2020 1:16 PM PDT
    Whether you're happy/relieved or dissapointed/worried by the Newsletter, there is only two ways we can help:
    1). Pledge to the game.
    2). Avoid publicly posting doom & gloom predictions. They do nothing constructive but they do sour the likelihood that others will pledge or that a publisher will pick-up Pantheon. There seems to be a vocal minority who would rather see their failure predictions come true than see the game get completed.

    If you're unhappy with how long something is taking, either help out or get out of the way.
    • 1127 posts
    October 16, 2020 1:51 PM PDT

    Good job on the newsletter VR. Everything I read sounds reasonable. I've known for a long time that creative endeavors are often accomplished by a process of iteration. Make something. See what parts work and what parts don't. Go back and change the parts that don't. Make some more of it. Rinse and repeat. As long as the results keep improving, you're on track.

    I'm starting to really feel that I better save some cash and upgrade my pledge to Alpha soon. I'm sure the cost of Alpha pledges will go up after it actually starts.

     

     


    This post was edited by Jothany at October 16, 2020 1:53 PM PDT
    • 197 posts
    October 16, 2020 2:16 PM PDT

    Counterfleche said:  2). Avoid publicly posting doom & gloom predictions. 

    I've been admin on a local forum in the past and can confirm this is important.

    For our case it was for vendors who we wanted to attend our convention, they will visit the forums to get a idea of the user base, I can only imagine this would be an even bigger deal for anyone looking to invest in a game.

    • 3 posts
    October 16, 2020 4:28 PM PDT

    Wow...

    • 14 posts
    October 16, 2020 7:04 PM PDT

    Jothany said:

    Here's a few quotes from the 'contract' you agreed to:

    By pledging or subscribing on this site, you agree to be bound by the Terms and Conditions herein.

    VR offers no guarantees or warranties of performance, service, Pantheon Rise of the Fallen (“PRotF”) completion or delivery of Pledge Package items.

    While VR will make a best faith effort to complete, release and support PRotF, game development is a high risk endeavor. For any number of reasons, VR may not be able to complete PRotF, offer access to the game, or may not be able to deliver some or all items listed in the Pledge Packages.

    VR will make a best effort to provide the reward(s) offered as part of subscription plans, shop items, or future virtual in-game items, but delivery is not guaranteed.

    VR does not offer refunds under any circumstances including but not limited to cases when it is unable to deliver all of part of a PRotF or a Pledge Package.

    No warranties

    You must have missed that class in law school.

    Not an absolute defense at all. Blanket clauses almost never have any traction in court. You know those signs that say "we are not responsible for any liability"? It means nothing. Absolutely nothing.

    I'm not going to speculate on how a lawsuit could occur, but I can assure you that the presence of that clause certainly does not make them immune to arbitration or any other legal action. 

    • 92 posts
    October 17, 2020 2:01 AM PDT

    To elucidate, what has been said here is correct.

    We are currently prepared to launch the game with the current velocity of crowdfunding. In that scenario it means a much longer development cycle and launching without all the features, graphic fidelity and content we would like. But it is specced out, and planned.

    In the ideal situation, which is what we aim for, funding increases—whether by investment, partner deals, or an increase in crowd funding—and then a bigger, fuller game launches much sooner.

    The ONLY doomsday scenario is if crowdfunding stops. And we have no reason to believe that will happen as long as we are able to earn it by showing our progress.


    This post was edited by BenD at October 17, 2020 2:04 AM PDT
    • 3034 posts
    October 17, 2020 6:55 AM PDT

    After 30 years as a practicing lawyer I can say with great confidence that VR made no promises to complete or launch a game - not in the pledge literature. They said that if they completed and launched a game pledges would give certain benefits. 

    They also made certain promises that applied before launch such as the ability to participate in various phases of testing. As far as I know they have honored these in all respects.

    Any lawsuit against VR for pledge benefits would be tossed out early on and the plaintiff might well be hit with penalties (including legal fees) for a frivilous action.

    The above is based on general experience and knowledge of the law as generally applicable in most American states without looking in detail at any particular state or any foreign jurisdiction.

    • 1642 posts
    October 17, 2020 8:18 AM PDT

    BenD said: ... In that scenario it means a much longer development cycle and launching without all the features, graphic fidelity and content we would like. ... 

    Thanks for the  additional clarification, Ben.
    In the scenario you mention, can you expand on the magnitude of features, graphic fidelity and content that wouldn't be included at launch?

    Are we talking one continent instead of three, for magnitude, or only 6 starting areas instead of 9, type of thing?  Cutting Progeny, or keeping it, free/stock models versus custom, and so on?

    • 121 posts
    October 17, 2020 10:05 AM PDT

    Quite honestly, to me the October Producer's Letter is the overall best communication I've seen from VR to date.  I felt it was honest and transparent, and provided some good insight on the state of the funding.  And again the news wasn't unexpected or shocking to me, it carried forward with the strategic thinking VR had told us about for years now.   I have no complaint there, and appreciate Ben's letter.

    Here's hoping that the potential investors see good things this coming week in PA5, and propose a partnership that VR can live with.  I'm sure we'd all like to see the fence,er game,built sooner rather than later.  As a tester, I'll try to do my part.

     


    This post was edited by Nagasakee at October 17, 2020 10:33 AM PDT
    • 1890 posts
    October 17, 2020 10:19 AM PDT

    BenD said:

    To elucidate, what has been said here is correct.

    We are currently prepared to launch the game with the current velocity of crowdfunding. 

    As long as you are being open, as far as the projections you used to make that statement, when would that be?

    • 92 posts
    October 17, 2020 11:11 AM PDT

    Still too many variables, philo, to give a date like that. What I should have said is that we plan based on where we are in crowdfunding. Even if we did give a date, it would quickly be misunderstood as the context would get lost as it gets shared. Not necessarily by our community here, but the Internet in general tends to be unforgiving in losing context. I'm afraid we just can't talk dates about anything until they are set in stone.


    This post was edited by BenD at October 17, 2020 11:16 AM PDT
    • 8 posts
    October 17, 2020 12:06 PM PDT

    I pray for a hands off publisher that has a love for MMORPG's.