What one year can do

RawrRawr REGISTERED, Tester Posts: 511 Seed
edited April 2017 in Community Voices
A community post about Nerd Kingdom
by @Rawr & @Elf

2016 has been a tumultuous year for Nerd Kingdom and the development of TUG. And the first thing to note is that the year isn’t over. There have been highs, lows, trials and tribulations but for sure, 2016 has more to offer for both NK and the community.

This article has been built up from numerous sources over the last year. Its intended purpose is to bring the community up-to-date with the important issues, developments and other highlights. It has been in no way funded nor encouraged by NK. This is a community project.

If this is your first bit of reading about “where things are at with TUG?” then I recommend reading all the way through. In case you’d like to dive into the full details of something, there will be links throughout.

We’ll start with Ino’s first vlog in January. In it, he mentioned that Nerd Kingdom raised 8.5 million dollars. The entire dev team moved onto working on a remake of TUG based on OpenGL. Ino said, “We want to make TUG free,” and “I want to find a way to allow modders to monetize their work,” and “we know we will be doing microtransactions on Nerd Kingdom sites that will be aesthetic.”

For many people, this was a red flag. F2P coupled with microtransactions felt like a bait and switch with business models. It’s no coincidence that Ino talked about exactly those two topics in his next video. Ino made sure to state that, unlike many other F2P games, “TUG will always be playable offline” as well as “TUG will always be modifiable”.

People were still disappointed with the announcement. Evidence of this was most notable in the Steam forums. Also of note is that this was happening in the wake of Skyrim’s paid modding fiasco, so an important question was how mod monetization was going to work. Attempting to add some clarity was NK dev Jalb:
“We haven't ever said that you would have to pay for mods outside of aesthetics. Peter mentioned the idea of incorporating third party mods into the base game which may end up being free for consumers.”

What about F2P? From the sounds of things a transition to F2P will take place but as Steam user Jaxar put it:
“No not never, things change and I think most of us would understand that, but the game as many of us backed on Kickstarter hasn't even made it to launch yet before possibly going to F2P.”

One month on, hearsay and confusion was spiraling outwards. NK had to neatly lay the cards on the table.
“We are still going to support modding and offline play which makes microtransactions completely optional. It is on us to do them correctly so that people ENJOY purchasing items and supporting the game” - Jalb

“The bottom line here, is that we have to make the best playing AND development experience we possibly can. And in no way, will any of our "monetization schemes" impact those two factors.” - Ino

“That being said, the traditional model can work too, but that doesn't exactly imply a one-time-payment. A game that adopts this model will still be subject to paid DLC and expansions, which is essential to longevity, but further divides the community. I hope people consider this when being so critical of F2P models.” - Jalb

“We also did make clear that we will be recognizing the support that others have given us prior to any decision of giving TUG and the platform away for free.” - Ino

March came around and a new topic arose. This time it was one of the core features of TUG: Voxel manipulation. NK made it clear that it wanted to restrict players ability to do these kinds of manipulations to pave the way for other features “such as AI and Physics”.
“To be clear, we are not attempting to do away completely with terrain modification (digging/building) across the board, it would make little sense for us to leverage voxels if we had no intention of fully utilizing its capabilities. But, there may be a good reason for us to consider NOT allowing it in every situation.” - Ino
“And of course, the big catch here is, we are only talking about what is ‘official’ content and experiences. Whatever you guys decide to take and mod, is entirely up to you.” - Ino

Those players who mucked around with voxels in multiplayer will remember the huge lag issue between trying to place a block and it actually appearing there. Even still, the commentary and votes came in from the community, and the answer was mostly "we don’t think this is a good idea". Even from those who didn't find terrain modification essential to their own gameplay:
“At the same time, it is hard to think of a multiplayer TUG where I can't wander the world and see the builds created by my fellow players who adore the ability to alter the environment in this way.” - Charlock

The greatest examples of voxel builds being DooyDans. DooyDan, you’re awesome. So what was NK thinking? How would collecting raw materials and building be done?
“more ‘traditional’ RPG methods, like harvesting nodes/objects”
“And really, it may be a matter of us experimenting and testing one vs the other. [...]. To be clear, building with objects does not need to be cut and paste. [..]. Actually, it may also be really easy for modders/artists to make visual variations of those sort of "prefab" walls. They by no means have to be uniform... think Legos, in a classic sense, not just blocks, but other shapes as well.” - Ino

If the idea of building with objects and sort of like legos still feels too intangible - for you I present a Dungeon Mod concept created awhile ago by Sigil. The book is not closed on this one, we’ll have to see how things go.

By June, it was clear that not all of the discussions surrounding F2P and microtransactions had made their way out into the community. Months without updates had some people wondering what on earth was happening. What is the lesson here? Two fold. First as Steam user FourHorseman puts it:
“In hindsight, I think that putting TUG on the EA program was a big mistake”.

Second, updates, sharing and sources. The amount of links to different sources within this entire post should be some indication of this. NK please, use the News & Updates and NK announcements sections of your own forums to a greater degree.

Now, let’s talk about Deadlock. NK’s first ban. If you’d like to check out the complete drama, you’re welcome to start with the first post “Nerd Kingdom owned by Chinese mobile gaming firm IGG”. It leads back to the NK forums as well. The TLDR of it is that Deadlock went on a rampage across both forums, hijacked other peoples threads and always showed animosity towards others (even those that agreed with parts of what he was saying). For the rest of us, it was actually a great insight into NK. Why? Well you should’ve guessed it from Deadlocks post title however before we go there, a final moot point from the latter part of the drama:

“I have tried countless times to come to some form of middle ground with you. I have spent hours over the past few days trying to reason with you, have dialog with you, and even share information where I could to appease whatever suspicions or inquiries you may have had. However at this point, the toxicity of your involvement in our communitie(s), has gone far enough to actually impact members of our community. This harshness needs to desist.
While I will be keeping all of your posts public, and delete none of those comments, I have to take steps to try to protect those in the community that from your comments, which have gone beyond negative, to outright aggressive.
It's unfortunate that your behavior got this far out of line, as some of your posts had some form of insight. Still, your comments managed to spark a lot of activity in the forums, and even drive some strong discussions.” - Ino

So where is NK at financially? We don’t know everything but from what’s been said, NK’s first investor tried to takeover control (a while ago now) and in light of that, IGG the Chinese mobile gaming company, came in and bought a majority of NK but left development control to NK. In November 2015, NK raised 8.5 million - here’s the SEC filings to back that up and we’ve heard NK speculate about interest from other publishers/investors.

Having doubt about where TUG is at is a good thing but thank goodness that even during a period focused heavily on development NK shares a thing or two. Perhaps more interesting to the modders among us but even still, the Q3 demo video and the sneak peek at a dev tool serves as a good indication that much progress is being made. NK did drop some artwork on us too. As a TLDR about the demo:
“the demo was a deliverable from the engine team, so there isn't much gameplay to it. this time around we're creating a proper engine, since TUG alpha's engine was heavily coupled with the game itself.
We had terrain gen, terrain modifications, sounds, basic AI, a first person and third person camera with proper physics and character controller, plus UI, realtime javascript debugging and probably other things i'm forgetting” - simba (quoted from discord chat; sorry, no direct link is possible)

Perhaps some of that has you excited but mostly there are more questions than answers at the moment. Some members of the community have been trying to get to the bottom of it. The thing is, NK's not exactly into show&tell at the moment. All that's been promised is the release of OpenGL TUG in late December this year and only to people who already own TUG.

Further info/links & updates:
Hey there! Perhaps we didn’t get far enough into a topic for your liking. You can get into the discussion/writing too. Start here.

May - Kickstarter funded (31st): 7,231 backers pledged $293,184
March - Steam Early Access version released (28th)
July - ~13k Yogventures backers given TUG keys (17th)
October - Steam price increase from $10 to $20; multiplayer option released
December - approximate time of IGG deal.
January - Youtube (Ino’s vlogs); Reddit (AMA); Steam (moving to F2P discussion)
February - Steam (Development Discussion, NailInCoffin, DearDevs)
March - NK Forums (Terrain modification)
June - Steam (...2013 on Kickstarter. WTH?, Deadlock gets banned part 1); Youtube (Q3 Demo); NK Forums (TUGv2 Art pics; Deadlock gets banned part 2, Data science)
August - Steam (Broken)
September - Twitter (TUG dev tools)
October - A twitter post on OpenGL TUG.
November - Another twitter post with two TUGv2 in-game screenshots.
December - A huge update, blog

Looking for more Q&A's - Community Q&A doc

Discord Invite link -https://discordapp.com/invite/VgefCxs
Programmer, designer, artist.
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