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-   World Supremacy (http://forum.shrapnelgames.com/forumdisplay.php?f=230)
-   -   Customer relations (http://forum.shrapnelgames.com/showthread.php?t=47120)

Mike_T March 5th, 2011 05:09 AM

Customer relations
 
I downloaded the WS demo when it first became available, and soon found that it was flawed. There were no instructions but they appeared later. Then the demo was patched but the game was still very flawed. How flawed, I don’t really know because I lost patience with it. I have since followed the discussions on this forum and it seems that hard core fans are still waiting for the game to be sorted out, or should I say, they would like to see it finished.

I decided to start this thread because I believe that Shrapnel need to seriously address the issue of customer relations, where this game is concerned. Despite a number of requests on this forum (and elsewhere for all I know), fans do not know what’s going on. What’s more, Shrapnel continues to advertise the game for sale – knowing that it doesn’t work properly! Imagine the producer of a car or a washing machine doing that.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Shrapnel as a company – Bronze is a brilliant game, and totally bug free as far as I’m concerned. However, out of respect to existing and potential purchasers of WS, I think Shrapnel should do what any other reputable company does when it launches a product that turns out to be flawed:
1. Apologise and tell the world what they are doing about it, and when the finished product is likely to be available.
2. If there is a serious problem – say so.
3. Don’t continue to offer WS for sale until the product works properly.

Keeping customers in the dark is bad for customer relations.
Offering a demo that is flawed is bad marketing.
Selling a game that you know is seriously unfinished is morally questionable and does nothing for a company’s reputation – come on Shrapnel, I’m on your side, but please deal with us openly.

spillblood March 5th, 2011 09:19 AM

Re: Customer relations
 
I absolutely agree. We're waiting since end of last year for a new update, and there's simply no information by Shrapnel or Malfador if it's still being worked on. They should tell us if we can expect a new update. If not, the game simply wasn't worth the money we paid for it. And you can't get a refund on it at Shrapnel, so it's even more annoying they don't do something. We simply want more game for the 29,95 Dollar we paid! This game isn't really finished. It looks good, but the gameplay simply is unbalanced, the AI is abysmal, there's not much variety and I could go on. So, please do something, Shrapnel and Malfador!
They should at least decrease the price for this game, it's absolutely not worth 29,95!

Skirmisher March 6th, 2011 02:13 PM

Re: Customer relations
 
Well said , here here.

Sharapnel should be ashamed of themselves for releasing this software and selling it.

ScottWAR March 7th, 2011 02:24 AM

Re: Customer relations
 
I tired to warn them this was going to happen. I sent an e-mail to shrapnel asking why the developer never seemed to answer any forum posts about the game, and mentioned how this was starting to lead to concern over the future of the game. I was informed that Shrapnel encourages the developers to NOT post in their forums.

I still say this is about the dumbest policies I have ever heard in my life. It If the developers does as Shrapnel wished it will AWAYS lead to the customers feeling ingnored. Which is ALWAYS a BAD thing for future sales of that game and any other game that developer releases.

Just as we see here,....people are already starting to doubt whether this was a good purchase,..and are starting to doubt if they will but another product from Malfador,....or even Shrapnel since they seem to not only support leaving your customers in the dark knowing nothing about the future of their purchased game,....but actually encourage it.

I can only say this has been a good example of why NOT to release a game too early, and how NOT to deal with your customers by ignoring them afer you have taken their money for what amounts to software that just doesnt work satisfactorily.

This game has gone from great potential and hope,....to concern and doubt.

spillblood March 7th, 2011 05:31 AM

Re: Customer relations
 
Yeah, I read about their policy not to let developers post in the forum before. In the case of World Supremacy it really hurts the game, I think. They should really inform us about current progress. Or otherwise they will lose customers.

S.R. Krol March 7th, 2011 10:36 PM

Re: Customer relations
 
The Camo Workshop guys actively post in their forums on a daily basis, Illwinter posts in the Dominions forums, Pat posts in the ProSIM forums, Alex in the Bronze forum...so I'm not sure where the idea that we don't want developers posting in their forums comes from. Now, during a beta period we do tell folks to hold off from posting, but that's to avoid possible confusion as a game changes. At the same time we cannot force anyone to post, either. Some developers are guys who like to get in the trenches, others aren't.

Malfador has released three patches since release containing a total of 29 changes/fixes. It should also be noted that there were several internal patches that the last two patches include. So it's not like Malfador released the game and washed their hands. And if anyone has experienced any of the Space Empires games you know that Malfador has always continued to support their games post-release. That said, I personally do not know when the next update shall be and so it's better to not remark on an estimate, as that will only cause woe.

Mike_T March 8th, 2011 04:28 AM

Re: Customer relations
 
Thanks, SRK.

I have never suggested that Malfador walked away from its products. That was not my point. My "complaint" was against Shrapnel, the publisher.

Do you represent Shrapnel on these boards? If so, can you (or someone else from the company) please answer the points made in my post at the start of this thread? Thanks.

spillblood March 8th, 2011 05:33 AM

Re: Customer relations
 
Thanks for entering the discussion, SRK. I think your post means Shrapnel hasn't given up the game. I hope we'll get another update soon. I'm willing to give the game another chance when it finally gets updated, but not in its current state. I understand that Malfador probably need time to fix the game at the moment and don't want to post in the forums.
But there's still the problem that Shrapnel simply released the game too early before it was properly finished. You should have given Malfador more time for beta testing. And you should point out the game isn't really finished yet on the product page, maybe lower the price and label it as a pre-release beta. TCP/IP Multiplayer doesn't work, the game is extremely unbalanced and it has bad AI. It really needs more updates to be more playable.
I think the only way to have fun with it in its current state is in hotseat multiplayer with the balance mod. But for single players, it simply isn't fun after you've played a few games and realized how bad it at the moment.

spillblood March 8th, 2011 06:46 AM

Re: Customer relations
 
With a better AI, better balance and maybe a bit more options to set parameters for map generation, this game could really rule, so I hope it will be fixed. UI, concept etc. are good, but it really needs a better AI, more balance and some other fixes.

ScottWAR March 8th, 2011 09:56 AM

Re: Customer relations
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by S.R. Krol (Post 772722)
...so I'm not sure where the idea that we don't want developers posting in their forums comes from.


Because in reply to a support ticket I was informed WORD FOR WORD that Shrapnel discourages developers from posting in the forums.

When everyone realized just how bad the AI was (and still is) some of us tried MP,...which of course didnt work (since everyone has gave up on the game until the AI is fixed we still dont know if the MP works).

It seems this game didnt get nearly enough time in beta testing.......and from a post I read about the beta of this game,....it seems the beta wasnt ran very well......MP never got tested at all before release.......how does that happen?


To be fair though it seems beta testing has became a marketing tool in most of the video gaming industry now instead of being used to actually get games ready for release,..........and everyone wonders why most games are relased half finished now..........................

ScottWAR March 8th, 2011 10:32 AM

Re: Customer relations
 
I tried to edit this in but took too long typing it..........

To be fair I sent in a ticket asking if the developer ever read the forums because a question about multiplayer had been asked in the forums and never answered. The reply was that Shrapnel discourages developers to post in the forums because they would rather handle game issues through support tickets. The person in your support dept MAY have meant that shrapnel discourages developers from posting in the fourms about game issues.......and not in general. Either way its still a bad policy. Its important to a community to KNOW that a developer is listening and working on things. What better way than for them to answer questions in the forums......

spillblood March 8th, 2011 02:00 PM

Re: Customer relations
 
Absolutely true, but I'm really not sure about Shrapnel's policy. I don't know if Camo Workshops and Illwinter talk about bugs in the forum, don't read these forums ('cause I don't have the games, or in the case of Camo Workshops, haven't played them enough). But I think they do. Don't know why Malfador don't do this, either they don't care or they are too busy at the moment. Hope the latter is the case.
About your first reply: Yeah, the beta phase was probably too short and they didn't have enough testers. Maybe they got too few through the advertising Shrapnel made for the beta (hehe, Shrapnel isn't a well known company, I think, they serve a special market, EG hardcore strategy gamers).

spillblood March 8th, 2011 02:07 PM

Re: Customer relations
 
Hey, and about this policy of handling game support issues through Shrapnel's support system: I think that doesn't work as well as keeping in contact with the developers directly. Tried to do this with BCT Commander, and I got a valuable answer from ProSim much faster than through the support. Pat from ProSim could immediately answer my question 'cause he knows about the problems of his games whereas Shrapnel's support has to get in contact with the respective developers first (so that you don't get answers as fast).

S.R. Krol March 8th, 2011 10:18 PM

Re: Customer relations
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mike_T
Do you represent Shrapnel on these boards? If so, can you (or someone else from the company) please answer the points made in my post at the start of this thread? Thanks.

I wanted to pop in to discuss the developers can't post bit, but I'm definitely not the ultimate authority. I have made sure others are aware. As far as the original points judging from the forum threads I'm assuming the main complaints are the MP issues. As briefly mentioned in my original post I personally don't have an ETA on a forthcoming patch so I can't say more than that. Sorry, wish I did have some sort of concrete date.

Quote:

Originally Posted by spilblood
But there's still the problem that Shrapnel simply released the game too early before it was properly finished. You should have given Malfador more time for beta testing.

Now this I think really needs to be addressed. We are truly an independent publisher. We do not own any of the developers. We do not force them into some sort of servitude like the big guys. Our role is to let developers concentrate on their games while we worry about the boring, nitty-gritty details that come with gaming.

As such we have never, nor will we, set release dates. We are not beholden to stockholders. We are not beholden to the fourth quarter Christmas rush. We don't need to get our games on store shelves. Heck, our internally developed game--All American--has been in development for twelve years. It would be pretty hypocritical of us to force a game from someone out to the public when we don't even do that with our own game.

We release a game only when the developer feels its ready to be released. In the case of World Supremacy Malfador was ready to release it. It went through beta testing here and as far as I know Malfador had their own group also before coming to us.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ScottWAR
The reply was that Shrapnel discourages developers to post in the forums because they would rather handle game issues through support tickets. The person in your support dept MAY have meant that shrapnel discourages developers from posting in the fourms about game issues.......and not in general.

This. The reasoning for this is twofold. First, we like to keep track of support issues and would rather have all support issues go through our system (not that this always happens). Second, many support issues are general enough that the developer doesn't need to be bothered. Obviously we can't examine AI issues as an example, but bad video card drivers would be an example of something that a dev wouldn't have to be bothered with. So yes, we'd rather not have the devs worry about general glitches, after all, that's part of our service to them.

While none of this may have resolved anything at least hopefully everyone has a better understanding of some of the reasons behind some of the actions. Malfador has been around the block long enough in game development to have no reason not to examine the issues being raised. After all, I'm pretty sure he wants his game to succeed, too.

spillblood March 9th, 2011 05:54 AM

Re: Customer relations
 
Thanks for your answer, SR. Seems it wasn't really Shrapnel's fault the game was released too early. I hope it gets fixed. I think we need to ask Malfador themselves if we wanna know something about future patches at the moment. Seems they don't inform Shrapnel about game progress at the moment, since SR Krol represents Shrapnel here.

Mike_T March 9th, 2011 09:32 AM

Re: Customer relations
 
Thanks for your response SRK. I appreciate that it's not your fault!

The question seems to be:

Did Shrapnel launch the game a) not knowing it wasn't finished? or b) knowing full well it wasn't finished?

If a), It implies they were misled by Malfador, but didn't test it themselves.

If b), Then Shrapnel have deliberately launched an unfinished game.

Talking about the games industry generally, this whole question of unfinished games worries me. I don't think you should offer any product for sale until it's finished and does what it says on the tin. Why on earth do some software sellers seem to think they're exempt from this basic commercial obligation? Patches should be for minor bugs and enhancements, not for finishing off an unfinished product.

S.R. Krol March 9th, 2011 09:36 PM

Re: Customer relations
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mike_T (Post 772803)
Thanks for your response SRK. I appreciate that it's not your fault!

The question seems to be:

Did Shrapnel launch the game a) not knowing it wasn't finished? or b) knowing full well it wasn't finished?

If a), It implies they were misled by Malfador, but didn't test it themselves.

If b), Then Shrapnel have deliberately launched an unfinished game.

Please understand that I wasn't trying to imply fault with anyone; simply that ultimately our developers are the ones that we listen to and if they are satisfied then we release the product.

I wouldn't say Malfador misled at all. There is no reason for Malfador to not want their game to succeed, so I can only assume they were satisfied. Likewise, from our position, if a developer is ready to release why would we question that? It's their baby, after all.

Ultimately though as publisher we are responsible and hopefully we can get the remaining problems ironed out soon.

spillblood March 10th, 2011 07:18 AM

Re: Customer relations
 
Thanks again for joining the discussion SR. I don't think Malfador misled Shrapnel or Shrapnel deliberately released an unfinished game. I think Malfador thought the game was finished and decided to have Shrapnel release it, because they didn't beta test it enough. So it was definetely Malfador's fault, not Shrapnel's. Seems Shrapnel simply don't check their games themselves before releasing them, because they absolutely trust the companies whose games they're publishing, and don't have a beta testing team that checks the games again. But checking the games again would probably require a bigger staff which Shrapnel don't have. So they leave the beta testing entirely to the companies that release games over them.

spillblood March 10th, 2011 07:26 AM

Re: Customer relations
 
Would really be great if Malfador themselves would leave at least a little comment about possible game progress here, after their publishers joined the discussion.

S.R. Krol March 10th, 2011 02:07 PM

Re: Customer relations
 
Guys, I just created a thread to post your issues in, that way they can be collected in a single unified thread and make it easier for Malfador to check out. So please post specific issues there. Thanks!

spillblood March 10th, 2011 03:03 PM

Re: Customer relations
 
Thanks, I've started to post some stuff there.

S.R. Krol March 10th, 2011 09:45 PM

Re: Customer relations
 
Forgot to also add a wishlist thread, that has now been rectified.

We did hear from Aaron and he'll be watching the threads.

Mike_T March 24th, 2011 04:51 PM

Re: Customer relations
 
looks like the Shrapnel bosses are letting poor old SRK take all the flak.
I'm absolutely gobsmacked - still no progress report or apology from Shrapnel or Malfador, still selling the game to punters as if nothing is wrong. What the **** is going on?

Imagine a book publisher launching a book without checking that all the pages are there or that the book makes sense! Why should a games publisher take the word of the designer that the game is complete and works properly? The publisher is responsible to the public for the product - he should make sure it's what it's meant to be. Does the Trade Descriptions Act apply to PC games? Why are some gamers so tolerant of sub-standard products? Why aren't buyers more angry about being misled? What other industry would get away with this behaviour?

Annette March 24th, 2011 10:24 PM

Re: Customer relations
 
Mike_T,

I think it's a bit harsh for you to call for our heads on a platter. You say the game is "flawed", and I guess I'm assuming this means bugged. In response to your opening this thread and the subsequent concerns raised here, Aaron asked us to sticky a thread specifically for reporting bugs and another for creating a feature wishlist. Please help us out by reporting the bugs you've found.in those threads. We can't address your issues until we know what they are. If you've reported them elsewhere and been overlooked, please point me in the right direction.

I hear you saying that we (Shrapnel) are not as as active on these forums as you would like. We hope you'll understand that the lack of forum posts does not mean that reported issues, whether in the bug thread or through our online customer support, aren't being addressed. If you want a direct response from us, the best way to reach us is through the helpdesk at customer support. You probably won't see Aaron post here very often either. I think he's posted on these forums less than 100 times in 11 years, but his track record proves that he does read and take into consideration bug reports.

We appreciate your concern for the game; please give us some detail.

Annette

ScottWAR March 25th, 2011 12:46 AM

Re: Customer relations
 
Annette,.... Isnt it the developers job to find and fix the bugs in the game he sold? As paying customers we should be playing the game we payed for,.....not trying to convince the developer that it needs fixed,....and not beta testing those fixes. Even so,......we have reported all the bugs and problems with the game and we have made several suggestions to make it better............the developer should have already made his lists from those posts,..................unless he has never read those posts,.....which you claim he has so he should already have those lists...............

Regardless though,.......all the problems have been reported,.....thats not the problem. The problem is that the person who is supposed to be fixing them,....isnt communicating that he is fixing anything,......and probably worse of all hasnt even bothered to apologize for unloading this obviously unfinished game on us,....because there is NO WAY anybody could have thought it was ready for release.

spillblood March 25th, 2011 04:29 AM

Re: Customer relations
 
Yeah, we are simply waiting for the problems to be fixed since the last patch in December, 2010. We have pointed out all the problems, here in the forum and by E-Mails to Aaron, to the customer support etc. The problem is, we simply don't get any hints that the game is fixed, there's no reports about possible progress. But Shrapnel advertises the game as if nothing were wrong with it. Just play it yourself and you'll notice that it's not really finished, has abysmal AI, TCP/IP LAN doesn't work etc. (and various other bugs, imbalanced etc.) I think it's the worst game in Shrapnel's program at the moment, and they sell it like it's completely flawless.

spillblood March 25th, 2011 04:33 AM

Re: Customer relations
 
You simply must realize it could be potentially harmful for your company to sell a game in this state. If you want your Shrapnel to be known for high quality, simply lower the price, point at the errors on the product page, etc. All the reviewers who gave this game good reviews simply haven't played it enough to realize its errors, I think.

spillblood March 25th, 2011 04:36 AM

Re: Customer relations
 
See, I'm terribly disappointed at this game since I have payed the full price of 29,95 $ and I simply expect more quality for that price. Malfador simply NEEDS to get the updates on!

spillblood March 25th, 2011 04:38 AM

Re: Customer relations
 
It's not simply bugs, the game isn't fun anymore after a few games in Single Player, because there's no real challenge involved, and there's not enough variability. You can easily defeat the AI in each game. I never lost a single game since it doesn't really put up a fight.

spillblood March 25th, 2011 04:45 AM

Re: Customer relations
 
Why don't you people at Shrapnel just ask Aaron what he's doing at the moment, whether he's aware of the bugs and errors we have pointed out, and when we can roughly expect the next patch? Then he doesn't have to post himself in the forums. Just give us some REAL information!

Mike_T March 25th, 2011 04:57 AM

Re: Customer relations
 
Annette, I'm not asking for anyone's head on a platter. All I'm asking is that you actually answer the very simple questions in my post #23. Others have given you detailed comments re bugs, fixes etc. This thread is about customer relations. Why are you still pretending that this game is currently fit for purpose, and why do you persist in advertising it as if nothing is wrong? You have used some very very selective reviews on the product page.

All I'm asking is that you be open and honest with your customers and potential customers.

spillblood March 25th, 2011 01:58 PM

Re: Customer relations
 
Yeah, just read that. I think it fits more than some other reviews I saw.
http://www.gamingnexus.com/Article/W.../Item2895.aspx

spillblood March 25th, 2011 02:00 PM

Re: Customer relations
 
Easy to pick up - easy to put down. Can't put it any better. This game seriously needs some work and Shrapnel shouldn't advertise it as if it were completely finished.

Annette March 25th, 2011 09:11 PM

Re: Customer relations
 
One constructive thing has come from this thread. We've learned that we (Shrapnel Games and Malfador Machinations) have missed bug reports and complaints. To correct that problem, Malfador has asked that we create one place for reporting bugs and one place for making feature requests. We've opened two threads here for that purpose and ask that you think of them as our ears. If you've reported something in a post elsewhere on these forums or in an email, it would be extremely helpful if you would repost in the new thread. We're trying to get your issues in one place so that they may be addressed. We need to keep those threads concise and free of clutter, so we won't be using them for discussion. If you'd like a separate thread for "bug discussion" let me know via pm, and I'll open a sub-thread for that. Our goal is to address bug reports and wishlists as efficiently as possible. I don't see much else constructive coming from this discussion, so I'm going to lock it down.

Annette


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