Entry #5 - Fanart time and what "Work In Progress" really means
In the last couple of weeks I was able to get some drawing done for doing fanart of works that I love.
I'm going through various designs in mind for the fourth girl of my project and it seems that I need a bit more time given my crazy schedule and with what's been going on, as I said in my previous entries. But I'm not here to say that my situation is neither better nor worse than anyone of you.
First let's go for a popular girl: Shantae.
In case you haven't heard of the beautiful Half Genie Hero before, it's a 2D Platform game where you play as Shantae, a girl with powers that let her transform as an animal to go toward areas that could be unreachable otherwise.
Then for the men of culture, a little bit of Touhou with the characters Tenshi Hinanawi and Iku Nagae!
This one also contains an inside joke in the Touhou community... I'm letting you guys figure it out.
Instead of ending this entry here, I want to talk about the concept of Work In Progress, or WIP for those who want to save their breath.
Work In Progress, in case you have been living under a rock, is a term used by content creators and even game developers to establish that their work or part of their work isn't completely finished. Hence the name work in progress. And there are multiple of reasons for that. Maybe you want to show the world the progress you're making. Maybe you are experimenting with a few codes in your game engine. Maybe you are going for different styles. This concept began to be used only in small communities and had meaning with sincere promises of releasing the final product in the end of the day.
What's the problem with that term nowadays? The same problem of what happens when small communities grow larger and stop being a niche. Even the gaming AAA industry pushes in some kind of large convention like the no more relevant E3 with putting a small and semi opaque text "WORK IN PROGRESS" on the bottom of the screen with the pretext of "let's be more transparent even if potential clients can't figure out a way to verify what we're showing". With words like provisional, with promises of more stable releases that only you can buy for 20, 30, maybe 80 bucks so you can finally play the game, realize that it's just another empty game and you just wasted more than 10 hours in it (and no refunds) trying to figure out if there's something more hidden in that game just to conclude "This is Star Citizen all over again".
That is one problem that is easily fixable by realizing one little phrase that we use every time there's a new business being opened. You will never have a second first impression. If you are a beginner, you open a shop for the first time and you release your product or service and it turns out to be garbage, don't expect these clients to come back. If you wanna release some kind of Early Access, invest your time in it. Ask for feedback. Take the necessary steps to make it big.
But then there is a second problem, which I think is a bigger one from personal experience as a customer if you are releasing things like early sketches and character designs.
I am very careful with what I upload online if it's related to my project because if you release a sketch or character design to the public even a demo of your game, you are stating that the final product can't be worse than what you release to the public before the final product. Even if you don't make the intention of making this precise statement. And also if it's changed in the final product it could be interpreted as "Oh, you didn't fulfill your promise! I demand a refund!" even if what you changed resulted in better gameplay, better design, better story...
Do you remember Aliens Colonial Marines? Videos of comparisons showed up in quantities in the release of that game because the demo of said game looked very cool. And now it's known as "that one game". The only way to improve the final product to the quality presented in the demo is to mod the hell out of it, and with a 3D game like that it's... let's say quite difficult, not impossible. Who is going to trust anyone else in the industry after seeing this, especially when there are developers who use the "hey, we said the material was subject to change, so you can't complain when we warned you, am I rite"?
Now there's No Man's Sky. You at least must know what happened in the disastrous launch day, everyone was disappointed, it was denounced as misleading advertising... even the holy Steam of steams made an exception for this game for its refund policies (translation: it doesn't matter if you spent more than 2 hours with this game, you can refund it). Then what the developers did do? They didn't give up and started to work on their game releasing updates, then better updates, then better and demanded updates... The game maybe doesn't have all the promised or partially promised features before launching the game, but people were happy to hear that they were vastly improving their game. The numbers of active Steam users in that game can reflect that.
The point I'm trying to make is that the behavior of customers and gamers who ask too many questions, point changes to early builds and even using the "you are censoring stuff starter pack" wasn't born in mid-air. There is a possibility that there are legitimate fears for a future product and there's also the possibility of it was simply an honest overreaction, yeah. But whose fault is it for this behavior, specially when there is a history of game developers doing these shady practices, finally to be exposed to the public when too many customers are consuming the product and they can't get a refund anymore?
What's the solution to this? One solution is buy and support companies with good practices. You like shooters that don't contain micro-transactions? Buy those kinds of games only. You like racing games without DLC? Buy racing games without DLC. Vote with your wallet.
I'm sure there are more types of solutions, all you need to be is be more creative and be willing to go into new territory. The second half is more important than the first.