Jagged Alliance Online - Steam Edition

Jagged Alliance Online - Steam Edition

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Development announcement
Hello everyone,

It’s time for a long overdue update on our Jagged Alliance Online.

As many of you know, JAO was a “work for hire” product for a very long time and developed by us under the direction of a publisher. The initial concept we had in mind had to be changed and adjusted to meet our contract’s goals in time and budget, which essentially meant that we had to make compromises and dismiss some of our original ideas. The results weren’t always perfect. From skills and grenades to a lot of things that fans wished for in the game, Jagged Alliance Online has its limits.

However, we kept trying to improve the game on our own, took over the operations and put in a great deal of money and manpower - way beyond what is “safe” for us as a small independent company. We didn’t give up on JAO and wanted to deliver the best product we could under the circumstances. And we simply didn’t want to disappoint you guys. I think we managed a lot of changes and improvements (beginning with massively slashing prices, changing the business model and continuing to produce content to reworking the entire combat balancing). The result is the game you play today – and we know there is a lot of room for improvement.

Now, the other side of the convoluted history of JAO is the fact, that several parties participate in any revenue generated by the product. From the licensor to the publisher to the platform, everyone takes a cut out of every dollar we make. For us this means we see about 25 cents from that dollar reaches us, but we have to carry 100% of the cost of operating it. We have poured more money into the game than we can afford and it has now come to a point where it is clear that continuing to put more work into JAO is not going to be financially viable for us and in fact threatens our livelihood as a small indy developer. It was a really tough decision for us, but, now that the merge of our servers is done, we decided to concentrate on future endeavours.

JAO will remain online via Kongregate, Steam and Gamigo and we will continue to operate the game of course, investigate and fix major bugs (if they occur) and provide customer support, but there won’t be a team here dedicated to bringing in any major new features or content. But this does not mean, JAO won’t be kept alive! Our team continues to be SO dedicated to the game and its great community that our lead coder and some of the JAO team decided to spend their free time to personally take on the task of continuously improving the game. And knowing them, they will be able to do magic with it! As always, we will remain an active and responsive voice in the community, but please keep in mind that most of the actual changes will be done by a few guys in their spare time over here. The following 3 points are on the list for future updates:

• Music On / Off button – long demanded options for controlling the sound
• More Hotkeys
• Weapon range indicator on the cursor; keep an eye on the forums for this one!

Many of you have supported us a long way and we want to thank each and every one of you. Without you, the decision would not have been as hard as it was and we would long since have given up trying.

Thank you all for the wild and wonderful ride that is Jagged Alliance Online and we hope to see you all in our future titles, as well.

Your JAO Team
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Showing 1-15 of 29 comments
smucek Mar 1, 2014 @ 12:40pm 
Well, fair from you.

I was pretty harsh through all this battle with you about improving, and after all I am really sorry it has come to this point, because, after all, I have spent almost 300h in this great, but unfinished game, was it worth? Yes, but it would be much more if it was done as it was supposed to.

Cheers Cliffhanger.
wk37781 Mar 2, 2014 @ 12:20am 
could you atleast release the rest of the levels,with that atleast we'd get a finished product. release it and tweek it if needed, it cant be to far off from what state the game is at now at this point.but if your gonna leave the game online you gotta atleast leave us with randomized missions.fair is fair. are you really just gonna throw away the rest of the content thats already finished?
smucek Mar 4, 2014 @ 11:48am 
They probably are, we have gave them money for unfinished product, hoping they will finish it, and they didn't.

Take the money and screw the players, most developers today do it just like that, Cliffhanger is no different obviously.
Cliffhanger Tech  [developer] Mar 5, 2014 @ 11:01am 
@wk37781: For those following only this discussion here is part one of my answer

As I said we haven't looked at this content since it was removed from the game.
Since then the complete data of the game has been revamped (as in our designers went ahead and deleted most of the formulas that generated that old content and created new ones). This brings up the following questions for me as a developer before we could release the content.
  • Does the content still have all its values (as in are all formulas present)
  • Do these item values make sense (designers love lookup tables, and when creating new ones would you spent your already thight money on content that will be released several month/years in the future?). So probably these values have to be added/adapted for anything past 50.
  • Directly tied into the second point: Do things like achievements and goals match the new gameplay? Most probably not, as you might have already noticed with the 1-50 content, we needed several attempts after the rebalancing to get them right. This means playing each map several times after the items have been balanced to find good values.
  • For those that were present as the content was still available. JAO was much more balanced for grinding back then, not as it is now that practically every level unlocks the next. So with only using an adapted "old balancing" you would most likely get things like play this mission 30 times to advance to the next. I know that lvl 50 players already have this situation, but it would still only mean that you have to grind some more missions several times and then the content will end there. Also warzones weren't implemented back then so we would either have to move one of the warzones up or have none there(making them nearly obsolete for high level players). Both situations don't seem very favorable. If you have a suggestion about this I would more than welcome it. To sumarize this point: we either need to rebalance the content down to not have gaps, create new maps or have huge gaps between levels.
  • The maps itself: Due to different balancing we already had to change all spawnpoints on the level 1-50 maps, so we will most likely have to do this again for these maps. Also the increased running distance made a lot of old designs on "non kill all" maps obsolete. You could just run through ignoring anything not mission related.
  • PvP: It isn't balanced as we would like right now, but think about what we would have to check and fix if we just added all the items we had.
Basically what I am trying to highlight with this points: the "It can't be far off" still needs a lot of checking and most probably reworking if you don't want to have maps that are either unbeatable or so easy you can run through in one minute. Yes it would introduce a lot of new content (which if it was paid would most likely get "normal" buyers complaining about the imbalance if we don't do a rework), but it will likely (at the current user counts) not even make back the amount needed to prepare the content and will get you in the same situation as it is now pretty quickly. (being through all the content and having only several missions to attend to)

As for random missions: Our current AI solution (thirdParty) doesn't allow randomly generated mission, so we would have to replace it for single player random mission or only randomize the goal (which would also need work in implementing and balancing). Multiplayer random mission would also have to be implemented first and tested (especially if it should be fair to both players, but that could be migated by having symetrical levels). One thing that the current technology would allow is dynamically (based on where enemy ai spawns) open (close doesn't work right now) new pathes through the same level (as we are doing with the explosive containers on the map right now). But that would still need someone to make these maps.

@smucek: I can only point you to Aerena (which is here on steam, If you haven't got a key and don't want to risk paying use beforehand, there are several giveaways, or you can just start up the game on a mobile android device for free). We have full control over it so you can take a look at how we operate a game without external constraints. All the errors we make there are our own with no one other to blame. I hope this gives you a better look at who we are and want to be.
Ghost Robertson Mar 8, 2014 @ 4:32pm 
Hi cliffhanger Tech, Since this announcement may i ask where the money from buying in game cash and paying for the campaign goes now?

I just want to know if you pay anything from this announcement onwards if it still sends money to this project?
Cliffhanger Tech  [developer] Mar 10, 2014 @ 1:04am 
@magic_robertson: The money flow is still the same as described in this announcement. With it the servers for the game are paid and our share goes into answering support.
smucek Mar 13, 2014 @ 2:49am 
Well, since this game is dead, and it won't be improved, some ingame stuff that you need to spend real money on it could now be changed, so we don't need to spend our money, because you obviously don't need it.

Lower the prizes, or cut them at all. That should be really easy to do.
wk37781 Mar 13, 2014 @ 8:33am 
Cliffhanger THANK YOU for the communication. I do have a few idea's that might work with the situation at hand, and hopefuly done without to much revamping/work on your resources.I will post it in a day or two. I truely believe that this game has all the elements to be even more successful then Granado Espada, they've been running for over 10 years now, with maybe only 2 or 3 patches a year, sometimes only 1.Truely one of the things that keeps players happy from my point of veiw and many other players that I have regularly spoken with, is the cash shop. Offering new weapons and skinns for the chars. They also add in new characters every few months or with a patch.Also the word on this game can still be pushed further with game sites like GamersGate, GOG.com, bringing in new players.I only mention this because my faith in the potential of this game is still there and shared by most of your players.It will be almost almost heartbreaking to see it go or stopped.What I hope my perpossal will offer/suggest a way for the game to get the rest of it's content, randomize the missions for replayability if not that maybe have the warzones a place to access those randomized misssions, and also have a way for pvp requesting between players. all hopefuly requiering a low amount of resources on the company's part .With the sales of the upcoming content in DLC in mined, with monthly revenue's from skins/weapons/char. I truely hope it's something the company will consider . thanks again
Lightlord Apr 17, 2014 @ 10:17am 
Thank you for giving us the state of the game as it is today and your aspirations on moving foward.

Im considering getting the echo and campaign DLC. Since I still feel the current campaigns are enjoyable and contain enough content to warrant the cost bennefit ratio.

Moving foward, you can probably keep the game afloat and offer periodic patchs as mentioned.

I think you are really missing the mark on the cash shop. Like you mentioned, make small patches as time/ revenue warrants it. Make every patch contain weapons/skins/gear/armor etc and mercs. Since they will generate additional revenue.

Most dont understand business models and that online games have a tremendous amount of overhead that are associated with them. The unique aspect of f2p online games, unlike other industries. Your customer base are also the people who have spent no money. So there is a dollar cost associated with the customer service they receive even if they generated no revenue, they still generate overhead. Unlike other industries, where they only become customers that require support, after they purchased something. Hence generating revenue to help fuel the cost associated with support.

I would recomend the following cash shop items initially.

1. Add a cash shop perm merc for each class (include the appropriate voice pack)
2. Add a Campign version with additional mercs. Similar to now, just with more mercs as an option. i.e. super campaign pack with 4 perm mercs.
3. This allows previous buyers not to loose out and getting new content without having to get screwed buying everything over again.
4. Im not sure what the issues maybe, but a restart campaign feature is also a most have since creating a new account negates the downloadable content.

Hope all goes well.

souldout May 5, 2014 @ 5:55pm 
Thanks for your honest feedback and candor about the state of the game.
For this games many flaws it was evident that you (Cliffhanger) truly did care and tried to fix it, even when you didn't neccessarilly reap the rewards. Sucks that your scope was cut so short.
Guess now its full steam ahead on Shadowrun.

Thanks for the good game. Wish you had been allowed to make it great.
adozeys Jul 7, 2014 @ 4:30am 
Reporting in.. please reset my account!
opennix Sep 3, 2014 @ 1:37am 
Hello... really late to ask but why is the game's publisher mentioned as Cliffhanger and not gamigo ? Not sure if its a steam error or otherwise..
Cliffhanger Tech  [developer] Sep 3, 2014 @ 4:35am 
hi opennix,

After Gamigo decided to stop developing the game we got the publishing rights ourselfs and after some improvements pushed the game to Kongregate and Steam.
opennix Sep 3, 2014 @ 5:03am 
okies.. so the revenue share is still the same? would it be possible to get the game rolling into active dev?
Cliffhanger Tech  [developer] Sep 3, 2014 @ 5:38am 
I would guess if somebody is willing to put enough money into it there is certainly the possibility to reactivate development (if that is what you mean).
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