Line of Defense

Line of Defense

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dsmart  [developer] Apr 10, 2016 @ 6:57am
IS THE GAME MOVING OFF STEAM?
ShikenNuggets:
I don't think Steam would bother to remove the game. They usually only intervene if there's potential legal issues (copyright infringement, that sort of thing, and even then they usually don't bother) or if a game is falsely advertising itself.

From what I understand, he's doing it to avoid all the trolling/toxicity present on Steam so he can get more valuable feedback from the people that like the game and want to play it (I know it's a bit stupid, but hey, if he wants to kill the game's chances of success, I say we let him).

Few hours ago, a mod deleted a thread where the above comment was posted.

As the thread where I posted my reasons (which ShikenNuggets mentioned above), has since scrolled, I decided to create this one.

What the OP (who does NOT own the game, and who has a history of trolling, harassment, attacks etc) of the now deleted thread posted about "Valve removing the game off Steam" was FALSE. He knew it to be false. He has been banned for that.

And while ShinkenNuggets may believe that "it's stupid" to make the move, it should be noted that he is another one of those who has made it a past time to engage in behavior that barely skirts the Steam guidelines. And that's the ONLY reason why he is still posting here; and I have yet to yank his account off my game servers.

The notion that a game has to be on Steam to be a success, is the sort of nonsense you read about in places where the people posting that, have never seen the sales metrics for a game, let alone developed, published, or sold one. It's rubbish. Not even Valve can guarantee success just because your game is on Steam. And they are quick to tell us devs that.

THE DISCORD SERVER DISCUSSION

This is the discussion on our Discord server #lod channel:

Yodakirata - Yesterday at 9:37 AM
@dsmart Question, when you migrate off of Steam, for those of us that own the game, how will we go about transferring out accounts, etc?

dsmart - Yesterday at 9:38 AM
@Yodakirata you will all get a new key via your Playfab account

to see how that works, read Shattered Skies on Xsolla (payment gateway)

http://xsolla.com/blog/2016/03/29/shattered-skies-joins-xsollas-pay2play-network/

PlayFab is just like Steam, but without the toxicity. It also has a slew of backend tools.

http://www.playfab.com

"just like Steam", I mean in terms of social media community management, account auth/entitlement etc. and unlike Steam, where you can get trolled/attacked in the store page, forum, screen shots page, NONE of that can happen on PlayFab since we have complete control of everything; unlike to Steam whereby we have no control over some areas (e.g. store page comments where most of the abuse happens)

OUR STEAM HISTORY

My first games (Angle Of Attack, All Aspect Warfare) first appeared on Steam in 2009. Since then, I have released several games, even legacy (e.g. the re-release of Echo Squad, Universal Combat CE etc) games which were never before on Steam.

I have lots of friends and contacts at Valve, and over the years, even with LOD, I have relied on their comments and suggestions. e.g. when I reached out to Gabe awhile back about the EA challenges with LOD, I had several Valve people (included by Gabe) offering suggestions. To the extent that the general consensus was that for a game of this scope, maybe we released it too early, maybe we should have released it as a closed Beta in Steam, rather than EA because a lot of people don't "get" the staggered release dev cycle I adopted.

To be CLEAR:

There is NO scenario under which Valve will EVER take this - or any of my games - off Steam. None. There are rules, and as long as you stick with them, you get to stay.

WHY THE MOVE?

People don't NEED a reason to troll a dev, a community, or other people. They just do it. And when you're Derek Smart, well, that comes with the territory. Especially due to my involvement in the on-going Star Citizen fiasco whereby the notorious and toxic (1[www.forbes.com], 2[www.informationredux.com]) members of that community declared war on anyone saying anything negative about that project.

My reasons for moving the game are very simple. I am tired of the noise, the attacks, the harassment, the distractions here on Steam.

Steam has become too big for Valve to be able to effectively police every aspect of it and where anti-social misfits reside. They know this, the Steam community knows this, and we the developers and publishers, know this.

You get trolled/attacked/harassed on EVERY aspect of the Steam eco-system:

1) Store page review comments

Devs have NO control here.

You can flag a comment that blatantly breaks the guidelines. Then you get to hope that any action is taken. As I type this, there are a few of those on the LOD store page which not only have personal attacks, external attack links, entire essays attacking me - and NOTHING about the game.

And due to the way the review weighted system works, these mobs have figured out how the system can be "gamed" so that all that toxic negativity is prevalent on the game's store page. If you see a toxic/negative review with a thumbs up; that's one way of doing it.

The whole "review bombing" thing has been an on-going thing for a long time; and not just on Steam. Being the biggest online community, you find more toxicity, attacks, harassment etc than you would find on ANY other popular game sales portal. Amazon, GoG, GamersGate, GameStop, Google, AppleStore. The reason is that they have a large dedicate team that are paid to deal with it. Steam on the other hand relies mostly on volunteer mods. Most of whom are either biased, nonchalant, or just don't give a toss either way. And that's precisely why most of them come and go, Valve gets reports (even from me) about some of them etc.

Don't like my game? Fine. Don't buy it. Don't play it. That has ALWAYS been my mantra. It remains unchanged. I make games for a select group of like-minded gamers; and I have NO interest in going after +10 more, while ignoring the 5 who I should be paying attention to.

2) Store page ratings

Devs have NO control here.

By abusing and "gaming" the store review page, they can tie this into #1 above in order to yield the desired results. The two go hand in hand.

3) Screen shots page/comments

Devs have control here.

We can flag screenshots and delete comments which break the rules.

4) Forums

Devs have control here.

We can flag and delete comments which break the rules. And we get to ban repeat offenders and/or the most egregious ones.

It should be noted that most of these anti-social people just go and create new "throw-away" accounts anyway. If Valve ever implemented the feature that a new account should have a non-refundable $5 in the wallet, my guess is that this practice would disappear. But that would be too easy, won't it?

5) News page

Devs have control here.

We can flag and delete comments which break the rules.

So, as you can see from the above list, devs have NO control over the #1 source of harassment: the front facing Steam store page. And to be fair, I fully understand how that could be abused by devs. However, it is a Catch-22 situation in that Valve, by retaining control of the one place where attacks, abuse, harassment DO take place, make it the one place where they seemingly do not have the manpower to police it effectively.

There are those who are quick to scream "free speech", "criticism" and all that nonsense. Those are just excuses to be toxic while online, and with impunity.

Throughout my career (going on 30 years now), criticism has NEVER been my issue. Why? Because, quite frankly, I don't care enough about what people think, for me to give them that sort of power over me.

I never did. Simply put, I simply don't care about what other people think.

What I DO have a problem with - and always have - is the harassment, attacks etc. And I have a ZERO TOLERANCE threshold for that sort of thing. And I will uphold it at any cost, and at any price. Without hesitation, reservation, or fear.

There is NOTHING constructive about criticism, if the sole purpose is to engage in harassment and abuse.

SO, WHAT'S THE PLAN?

It's simple. The next major milestones after our current Gen 9 slew of bug fixes and tweaks, are:

  1. AI controlled station/carrier turrets/missile systems
  2. AI controlled ground defense systems (turrets and missile systems)
  3. AI controlled androids (not as user controlled companions, that's another phase)
  4. Player controlled Ground vehicle unlocks (same as aircraft)

I am looking to doing this somewhere in the above; though I have yet to determine at which point I want to make the switch, as that would also depend on the PlayFab integration etc.

We already have Playfab and Xsolla (used in our Alganon game until recently when we switched to Steam Wallet) systems.

So instead of building it ourselves, or using the advanced features on our IP.Board forum[www.3000ad.com] which we've had for decades, we're going to use PlayFab for our "off-Steam" game entitlement, social connection etc.

The accounts, game delivery (via our CDN), discussions, profiles etc will all be handled through PlayFab.

Payments (client and MT) will be handled by Xsolla.

The above are no different from how other developers/publishers have their own portal, while still selling the game through Steam. We're just going to be using third-parties, instead of building our own.

MIGRATION STEPS

  1. Replace "Steam Login" frontend/backend with our own
  2. Disable the game on Steam. This does NOT remove it. So owners will still have access to it; but it won't be available for purchase until it is re-enabled
  3. Enable user registration on PlayFab
  4. Issue tier keys to all existing game owners via our PlayFab server authentication backend

This means that everyone who bought the game on Steam, prior to the move, will have two copies of the game. The Steam copy - which will no longer be updated, due to the game being disabled; and the non-Steam copy on PlayFab.

The other upside of this is that we no longer need to use a Git based DSS server[lodmmo.com] which is too complicated for most people to setup. Since we won't be updating the Steam version, we can have two (public, DSS) versions in separate installation paths that owners can run/update with ease.

That's it.

CONCLUSION

The end result is that anyone who wants to attack, harass, abuse us and/or the game, can do it wherever they like, but they will no longer be able to do it on our forward facing store page.

We won't be the first developer or publisher to pull a game from Steam. And others have pulled a game, then brought it back later.

Once the game goes final in the coming months, then I will re-enable it again on Steam, then update it. At that point, as with our other games, it will be sold at all our other partner sites.

That's the plan.
Last edited by dsmart; Apr 13, 2016 @ 7:57pm