Time for Steam to clean up Early Access

Since there are so many titles up for sale during the Steam Summer Sale, it’s hard not to be exposed to a slew of new titles. However, it also exposes some serious flaws with Early Access. There are a lot of titles still in Early Access that haven’t been updated in a couple of years with hundreds (or more) negative reviews saying the game has been abandoned and not to waste your money. And it’s not just one or two titles, I’ve seen dozens.

I think Kickstarter and Steam Early Access are a fantastic platform to let Indie developers get their games into player hands without having to go through the corporate BS that kills off so many titles. Think of how many studios Microsoft and Electronic Arts have scuttled and you’ll get my point.

However, it’s becoming clear that Early Access is a dumping ground for get rich quick schemes and half-baked games where developers are hoping they’ll get enough money to finish their game. That’s not what Early Access is for.

Early Access should be for people to see a game in it’s early stages of development so they can offer input into the balancing of the game; things such as how hard a racing game should be, combat mechanics and AI difficulty. You can see this in games like Dirt Rally, Hand of Fate and Shroud of the Avatar.

But that’s not how it’s working out in a lot of cases. There are way too many developers showing off a prototype of their game and asking for money to actually make it happen. The line between Kickstarter and Early Access is blurring to an alarming extent. We shouldn’t be putting up with that. Steam needs to scrape these games off and start auditing Early Access. For example, if you don’t provide a significant code update every 3 months, you’re done in Early Access and your game is yanked from the store. Additionally, money should be held in escrow and paid out every 3 months once you provide a code update. That way everyone can easily get a refund if need be. It should also be that once you get a significant number of negative reviews, there is an audit to justify whether you continue in Early Access. You shouldn’t be allowed to continue racking up the hate without consequence.

To be blunt, look at games like Towns, Delver, Next Car Game, Victory Age of Racing, Timber and Stone, Fortune’s Tavern and Blockscape just to name a few. Right now, you can go on Steam and buy a copy. Some have been outright abandoned, like Towns, while others have been in Early Access for 2 years. This kind of crap needs to stop. This is a ripoff for players and a disservice to other Indie developers.

To be even more blunt, Victory Age of Racing was abandoned and the company behind it was able to start another Early Access game, RaceCraft, which has been under development for about a year. You have a track record of 100% failure, but you’re back on Early Access? No good. At the very least, since there is a way to Green Light games on Steam, there should be a way to Black Flag them. Give us the option to request a game be reviewed for it’s standards so we aren’t left with all this crap lingering in the store.

To be honest, I’ve had enough of Early Access and apart from Shroud of the Avatar and Besiege, I no longer support Early Access games. I encourage Steam to start auditing Early Access and cut off these leeches. I also encourage people to be very careful when buying an Early Access game. Make sure to read the reviews and check how often the updates are coming. Sure, there’s a refund policy these days, but that’s no excuse for due diligence.

Early Access is not a fundraising campaign. Go to Kickstarter for that.

By the way, if you take money for a product, yet never deliver it, and don’t give the money back, some might be harsh and call that stealing.

Other articles of interest:

A closer look at DimmDrive on Steam

With the Steam Summer Sale going on, I thought it was a good opportunity to bring up DimmDrive, the Steam RamDrive creation tool. I’ve had DimmDrive installed for a few months and have been using it on Shroud of the Avatar which is currently in development. The machine I’m using it on has 32GB of ram with a 24GB ram drive and the entire contents of SotA loaded into memory. That should be an indication that you need a lot of ram and a higher end machine. I’ve seen a lot of reviews from people with mid-range machines and 8GB of ram and that’s just not going to work for you. Putting this on an “older” system or a “laptop” isn’t going to make it run like new.

I will say that my experience has been quite positive. Like I said, I loaded SotA entirely into ram and scenes load quicker and I’m able to enter a new area quicker than other players in my group. Not exactly scientific, but it is noticeable.

I’ve found DimmDrive to be very easy to work with and very stable. I’ve not had any crashes related to DimmDrive itself. For a game that gets updated frequently, I turn off the ram drive, update the game and recreate the ram drive. That seems to work out better and faster.

Overall, DimmDrive does exactly what it says it will do. It loads as much into ram as it possible and gives you quicker access to game files. Yes, there are tools that do similar functions for free, but you’re paying for the Steam integration, which works extremely well. All my games are listed and I haven’t had a problem loading one. Now, the Steam name and the Display Name might be a little different from time to time, but the game is in the list somewhere.

I will state that I think people have unrealistic expectations of ram drives and SSD. They think that just because you have one, game access is instantaneous. That’s not true, the game itself and network speed come into play. As stated, just because SotA is loaded into ram doesn’t mean the game loads in a flash. There are still load times. If has to retrieve data from the server to determine where other players are, their houses, decorations, items they’ve placed on the ground, etc, etc, etc.

For most games you should see smoother transitions and negligible delay as data is loaded. That’s a good thing, and that’s what I get. I think DimmDrive is a solid piece of software that gives me what I ask for – a performance boost, a couple of extra frames per second and a couple of seconds shaved off load and scene transition times.

Is it worth $30? To be honest, I think that’s a bit high. A price of $10-15 seems far more reasonable or a bundle with DimmDrive and CPUCores for $25. But it is on sale for $20 which isn’t too bad. And it’s cheaper than a full on SSD.

If you have reasonable expectations, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with DimmDrive.

As a side note, you can buy 32GB of ram at Amazon for around $120 right now.

Other articles of interest:

A closer look at SpinTires

When SpinTires came out as a Tech Demo, I was really excited about it. I missed out on the Kickstarter (thankfully), but picked up the game right at the end of it’s Early Access cycle. It had all the potential in the world to be something really unique. However, the final version removed all the features that made the Tech Demo so much fun. All the trucks were gone, modding had been cut out and you were basically left with driving around in the dark.

So the game wasn’t off to a good start and things seemed to get worse. All you had now were useless trucks that bogged down in the mud every few seconds so that you spent all your time using the winch between trees. That was exciting for an hour and then you were ready to throw things.

Then the dev cycle seemed to stop. No updates, no communication and the game pretty much languished, at least that’s how I saw it. I tried it a couple more times, but the camera threw my perspective into weird angles, the trucks still sucked and the mud was so damn thick that driving was impossible. Again, I threw it aside.

And just recently, another point of contention boiled over where it looked like the dev and publisher were at odds and the game was yanked from Steam. Then it popped right back without anyone saying a word. So what the hell is the deal with this game?

As I was going through the Steam Summer Sale, SpinTires came up and the reviews had tilted to being Very Positive. Something must be different, because when I threw in the controller, the reviews were scathing.

So, I decided to try it again. After all, it was already installed and updated. Turns out, things are much better. Modding support is back and the number of trucks you can download is pretty decent. But, even the included trucks are much better.

I took to the first map and actually had a really good time tearing along the mud tracks and crossing through the water. They’ve made it much easier to change trucks before you start a map so you’re not stuck in that damn Jeep looking thing.

I used a 6×6 semi and bounded through the mud, slinging crap everywhere. I was actually able to make progress and find different locations on the map. Of course, it’s still slogging through mud and still slow going, but at least it was entertaining again. I didn’t spend every minute trying to winch to a tree just to go 5 feet then repeat the process.

The "cloaking" or hiding of the map still feels silly to me, but with the right truck, it’s at least a reasonable task and doable. Before, I wasn’t able to cross the river and couldn’t reveal any of the map to see where I was. This time around, I not only revealed the map but actually completed the Objective. That still consists of finding the lumber yard and hauling the logs to the most remote part of the map, but at least you can auto-load the logs instead of picking them up one at time.

The return voyage can still be dangerous as hell with plenty of opportunities to capsize and dump the entire contents, but it’s nowhere near as bad as it used to be.

Overall, it’s vastly improved and not only did I complete the first level, I played around with several other trucks on offer from the Steam Workshop and ended up spending a few hours exploring the map, crossing rivers and removing the cloaking funnels. It was actually more like a fun four-wheel experience than a nightmarish chore.

Is the game perfect? No, the camera still behaves in an odd manner and there are other oddities like the truck whirling out of control when I used the winch on a trailer I had to ditch to cross a river. The trailer bumped into a tree then leapt off the ground, sending itself and the connected truck hundreds of feet in the air. Uh, WTF? Oddly, I got the 360 Achievement for rolling the truck. And to be honest, the relationship between the dev and publisher still seems strained.

With the current Steam Sale, is it worth buying? At the current price, no, not unless you have friends who love 4-wheeling. Then you have an arena for all sorts of shenanigans. But even still, the near $30 price tag is too high for what you get. The only objective is to gather and move logs and high-end titles like Project Cars, The Crew and Dirt are currently $15. However, the off-roading experience can be a lot of fun, but it’s clearly not Dirt 2, Dirt Rally or anything like that. This is a 5-10mph trek through sloppy mud, over damaging rocks and through hazardous rivers. That can be fun, but if there were more challenges like completing courses in a certain time, obstacle courses or the like, SpinTires would be quite enjoyable.

As it stands, SpinTires is a niche game, that has a decent community and a good amount of potential, but you have to be lenient and patient with the game. If you want to sling some mud and see just how far you can push an off-road vehicle, you could be entertained for days.

SpinTires on Steam
20160627200348_1

This 6×6 rascal can plow over some terrain. Trucks like this are fun to drive through the muck. The other “starter” trucks wouldn’t last 5 feet.

20160627200819_1

Since I can make progress, why not pick up some logs and see if I can make it up the hill without dumping it all over the road.

20160627204401_1

Gadzooks! I got an achievement!

Other articles of interest:

RightNote on Sale for 50% Discount

I’ve written about RightNote before and how it’s replaced OneNote. It’s a great tool for taking down notes, but it has a whole slew of features that make it far more than simple note writing tool. It’s a full featured Editor with enough formatting features to satisfy most people. You don’t need the bulk and expense of Microsoft Word, when all you want to do is write, not format. RightNote offers a very nice hierarchy view of your documents, so you can have multiple documents open at the same time and jump straight to the one you want. If you’re working with longer or multi-part documents, this is far better than the Word approach.

RightNote also has Spreadsheet functionality built in. You can make a standard spreadsheet and put in basic calculations. It might not be sophisticated enough for the boardroom, but considering most of us make simple budgets or ledgers, it’s handle the job without issue.

RightNote supports multiple tabs, formatting, tables, styles, spell-checking and protected documents. It can also save in several formats, including Microsoft Word.  It’s a great tool and goes far beyond the simple act of writing notes.

It comes in three versions, Free, Standard and Professional. At this discount price, I would opt for the Professional version at $30.

I’ve written about RightNote before and how it’s replaced OneNote. It’s a great tool for taking down notes, but it has a whole slew of features that make it far more than simple note writing tool. It’s a full featured Editor with enough formatting features to satisfy most people. You don’t need the bulk and expense of Microsoft Word, when all you want to do is write, not format. RightNote offers a very nice hierarchy view of your documents, so you can have multiple documents open at the same time and jump straight to the one you want. If you’re working with longer or multi-part documents, this is far better than the Word approach.

RightNote also has Spreadsheet functionality built in. You can make a standard spreadsheet and put in basic calculations. It might not be sophisticated enough for the boardroom, but considering most of us make simple budgets or ledgers, it’s handle the job without issue.

RightNote supports multiple tabs, formatting, tables, styles, spell-checking and protected documents. It can also save in several formats, including Microsoft Word.  It’s a great tool and goes far beyond the simple act of writing notes.

It comes in three versions, Free, Standard and Professional. At this discount price, I would opt for the Professional version at $30.

RightNote at BauerApps.com

Other articles of interest:

Steam Summer Sale in Full Swing

The Steam Summer Sale is in full swing, so much so that the servers were actually choking from time to time as people descended on new deals. And there are thousands of deals to be had. Almost everything in my Wishlist is on sale, although I don’t think 10-15% is really enough of a discount for this sort of sale. Come on now, if you want me to be interested you need to at least give me 40%.

That being said, I snagged some great deals! Lots of new games to mess around with and several indie titles that show promise.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are some games I highly recommend with steep discounts.

Banished

Besiege

Age of Empires

Rise of Nations

Tropico 5

Lego Worlds

Windward

Project Cars

The Crew

Hand of Fate

Desktop Dungeons

Forsaken Isle

And by the way, what in the hell is going on with all these enormously breasted Japanese anime titles that keep jumping out at me? I have no problem with these games, but egad, can I get a bit of warning before those come tumbling out?

Other articles of interest:

Recent Comments

  • Topping out with a Trillion Dollars in Crime City (12)
    • Tom Offski: Thank you
    • Don Pedro: My income is all from buildings. I have just about every LTB they’ve introduced. I skipped one or two based on their enormous size and terrible income/upgrade costs. Almost all of those buildings are now level 10s. The...
    • Tom Offski: Hey, I’ve been playing sonce 2013, but stopped for a year and a half mid-way. My IPH is 1.05m, and my main source of income is a certain job which gives you 2-7mil for 178 energy… how do you make so much money? Is...
    • Don Pedro: I am very familiar with the time of which you speak. That is when I first came on board as well. There were some good prizes back then such as the decrease in deposit fee. Some of those old buildings are somewhat laughable...
    • Duane Stovall: Yeah 3 of the 5 building upgrades are working on the older regular buildings now. I’ve got all the LTB’s up to level 10. Started playing when FUNZIO owned CC…so was able to purchase every LTB that came...
    • Don Pedro: Upgrading 5 buildings at a time? Damn son! And your IPH is a lot higher than mine. I’ve only got 485 with 3 upgrades at a time, of which I’ve only been using 2. I’ve thought about getting another upgrade...
    • Duane Stovall: I’m up to 517mil iph…just hit my first trillion in the bank. Would have hit a while back…but started a baby syn for my two smaller accounts and maxed out most of the bonuses with the help of one other...
    • Up!: Wow, and here I come with 2m iPH trying to build up a syn.. How long have you been playing? I do think that for normal accounts (without the reduction) its cheaper to leave the money out, being robbed 10% .. would mean in my case 5m...
    • Don Pedro: Good question. The answer is, that some time ago (I forget the events) Gree gave out a couple of items that had Bank Deposit Reduction Fees associated with them. I picked up a few of those and have -76% Reduction in place....
    • ShadowFox: I haven’t followed this forum much but I’m unsure why you banked the cash at all. Why not just let it sit in the open and stockpile it quicker without paying bank fees, or is that part of the challenege?
    • Don Pedro: Yeah, it’s a pretty ridiculous but rather useless amount of money to have. There’s really nothing to use it on. I could have put it toward Syndicate Bonuses, but I did that a couple months ago. Basically, the money...
    • Paul: 1 trillion cash is insane!! I will admit that after 125 million iPh money doesn’t matter that much in the game anymore. I still enjoy upgrading my buildings and I want to eventually get to your income which I can see...
  • New version of Freemake Video Downloader brings back YouTube Playlist downloads (1)
    • ALI: Hi there, I have been trying to download a playlist contains more than 300 episodes but when I copy and paste the link into freemake video downloader app, I can only download max of 100 videos only. Is there anyway to download all...
  • How To Disable the Quicken Registration Prompt (9)
    • teddibier: What you say is correct except in the case where you have downloaded a file and is already in your “Downloads” folder and you want to call that up to be opened by the Quicken Program. It does not open without the...
  • Audials One 2016 available for $19 (1)
    • Betatester: Thanks for this link. Works perfectly