Jimquisition: Early Access

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Early Access

Episode summary coming with Update 1.42

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Interesting views there Jim. I have made a long term investment in The Dead Linger, but haven't tried any of the others you mentioned.


Is the Jimquisition Season Pass coming soon?

I have little time to play, I have even less time to bug report -_- So no, the Early Access wagon can crash into oblivion for all I care. I wish devs had closed betas of something like 10 dedicated people who are there to QA, not everyone who is just curious and has disposable income.

Hah, hilarious parody.

I agree fully. I see games that I really like the sound of and wonder, "Wow, how haven't I heard of this yet" and I watch the video and am impressed again. But then when I scroll down and see "Early Access", I immediately realise I've made a mistake and leave the page. I wouldn't pay for early access to a AAA game either.

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Edit: Meta commentary disguised as jokes aside, I don't get the point of Early Access ...for Triple-A. Do companies feel like being douchebags about it because the initials is "EA"?

I've really come to dislike early access.
If devs need money up front then kickstart your project instead. Release your software early to backers when it's actually worth beta testing, but this whole notion of letting people "test" pre-alpha stuff is quite silly because not even the devs will gain anything from that (bar money up front). There will just be too many bugs (which the devs will be fully aware of) and missing features in a pre-alpha stage for any public input to be worth a flying duck to the devs.

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Lies. You just said Candlejack and you're trying to cover up

Oh yeah, been playing one of these early access games for a month now. It looks really good, but still lacks some of the basic network functions a finished game would have. You might have heard about it: Battlefield 4!

I just realised how jarring it is for an episode to not finish with Jim reminding us to thank God for him.

I was relieved by the end of it because we don't have to thank god for Jim until the final version.

I've paid for early access a few times, but only when the game was in a state where it was fun to play and I would get a chance to make the game better. Also, it is much better when it is an $10 indie game, not $20 or $30 or more.

Hilarious episode. Well put together too, for its intented message.

I don't typically have an issue with early access; it's most likely going to lead to feedback at a point in development where the developers haven't burned all they can into the project. But that hinges on if updates (and especially feedback-refined updates, which can diverge from the original vision) come out timely.

Even more worrisome, for players, are even consistent updates going to be worth souring your first impression of a game?

Jim you beautiful beautiful beautiful man!

From start to finish this episode hit everything nail on the head.

The only unfinished game i have bought was star command, and although im looking forward to the extra features when/if they ever happen i've all but given up waiting on them. The guys have my money already and i have is their word that the game will be finished.

But thats a mobile format, console gaming no no no no no no no. Never not for this consumer anyway

I think early access is really good for indy and small time devs who want to make games and need cash sooner rather than later. Of course it is a bit of a gamble but no less so than backing a game or project on kickstarter or indigogo. At least for steam early access there is a game there. If the peoples want to help fund the small guys let them!

does not count for AAA titles, you guys should have your shit together at this point

I was just talking to a friend about this the other day.

He was actually dumb enough to pay for the $90 Planetary Annihilation early access.

The only thing worse than charging full price for an unfinished product is charging more than full price for an unfinished product.

The other major issue on Steam is the tendency of indie devs to just abandon work on their projects. There are many, many early access products that haven't seen any sort of update in 6+ months and there's little accountability to be had.

Brilliant episode and I'm with Jim 100% on this. I was researching bits to do for a blog entry on my impressions of the Xbox One after getting it just over a week ago now and while looking at Killer Instinct, the realisation that it was an incomplete game being sold (that's the £15 version) minus at least two characters which were promised at a later date.

I didn't realise the extent of the problem on Steam as I'd refuse to pay full price on a title with promises of missing features being plugged in in future. I think the Escapist and other review sites might do well having a section dedicated to early access games, judging them on content, potential and the developer's ability to deliver against the asking price ahead of a full blown review when the game is officially 'complete'

I have basically zero problems with Early Access as long as it is clearly labeled that way. I also don't mind them charging full price, or really, any price they want. If someone wants to pay full price or even extra to get an early look at the game, why not?

I play way to many games to actually participate in early access anymore. I actually did buy Minecraft in Alpha though. I wouldn't want to go back on that decision since watching that game develop and turn in to an insane world-wide experience was great. However, I sometimes wish I could forget everything I knew about it and start from the beginning so that I could experience the current version of the game "fresh". So, now I prefer waiting until the product is close to finished.

Even that plan is a bit difficult though. I'm super-interested in Prison Architect. It's been "Early Access" forever now and even goes on sale.

Anyway, it seems to help the developers (through funding) and it offers an interesting experience for those who want to take part in that. As long as it is not deceptive, no problem.

I don't personally do Early access or beta testing even for games I like. Wasteland 2 is a good example of this.

There are indeed way too many early access games on steam. However I do recommend Prison Architect and Kerbal Space Program. Both feature regular updates and are perfectly playable in their current states. Both also have the crucial difference of actually realizing it is an alpha and want active feedback on how the game should develop.

Sir Thomas Sean Connery:
I was just talking to a friend about this the other day.

He was actually dumb enough to pay for the $90 Planetary Annihilation early access.

The only thing worse than charging full price for an unfinished product is charging more than full price for an unfinished product.

The other major issue on Steam is the tendency of indie devs to just abandon work on their projects. There are many, many early access products that haven't seen any sort of update in 6+ months and there's little accountability to be had.

Both of these are completely valid points. However I do want to point out that the early access of planetary annihilation included the collectors edition with art books and such. They took the collectors edition from their kickstarter and put it on steam. Should they have just put the standard edition? I think so yes. But we have to be fair. They aren't overcharging for just the game. Your second point however I will agree with no contest, far too many are simply indie games that want to release knowing it can be labeled incomplete to make people give it benefit of doubt. I've seen several early access games get one patch and then get abandoned.

Normally I'm not big on Jim. Last episode I watched really felt like it was nothing of value. (And as people say, the thank god bit that's out probably left a sour taste, which tastefully, is absent in this episode. Funny how the unfinished product is better than the finished one, eh? :P)

This one though... We're looking at games getting worse, and worse. Unfinished game for $60? Fuck that. One of the reasons why MC was successful with it was that you paid based on the content. When my brother bought it for me, he paid $15. Another concern is why are games being released with major bugs, like the lumiose city issue in the recent Pokemon games, or the load stops in GTA5, or the entirety of Battlefield 4?

The fact that AAA studios are jumping on this bandwagon shows absolutely no regard to push out a finished product. He poked at GTA5, but I can understand that a little, as the new consoles were coming out, and it's quite likely they've been working on that for a few years. I feel that Jim's got a point here, these early access projects should be reviewed as if they're finished, Reviewers need to learn that there's such a thing as a score below 5 of 10. 5 should be average, remember?

Just about everything mentioned here are concerns I've had myself of late. I noticed rather quickly that if people are paying for the "beta" version, there's really no reason to issue a "complete" version. That way, the developer can wave away any bugs the still exist because "it's just beta," while still making money off their title. Which, if it were a few games or they offered a heavy discount for early access, I wouldn't see much of a problem. But now I see more games on early access than I do fully released games.

Assetto Corsa was on the Steam winter sale, for crying out loud. A $40 racing title, which at this point (to my knowledge) doesn't even have AI controlled opponents, or real-time multiplayer racing. It looks interesting, and may very well be worth the asking price at a later date. And if there are people who think it's worth the cost now, that's great. But, right now it seems to be sold based on promises.

At the same time, I can see it as a different form of crowd funding. It's a way of doing something along the lines of Kickstarter, but needing some form of demo. But even that leaves a sour taste in my mouth. You are, in essence, buying the demo of a game that is not yet released. That just doesn't sit right with me.

Edit: Here's an idea, just for thought. What if Steam offers the incomplete version for, say, $5. Then, when the game is released, you get a $5 discount on the final product? That way, when something goes on green light, it can stir interest, get feedback, and even a bit of scratch. But, it has incentive to release a game people actually want to buy.

One thing I want to point out here... You say early access games should be reviewed as full games, shouldn't they rather receive incomplete reviews? "Here' you get 2 out of 5 stars, the rest of them are coming at a point when the game is finished".

Bad joke aside I don't think early access should ever be a part of AAA development. Delivering a broken game right before Christmas because it wouldn't sell as much if they pushed back the launch 3 months in order to fix the bugs is not a good excuse.

Also early access should kinda reward those early adopters, MineCraft increased in price as development entered beta while the original customers got free updates.

Same with Kerbal Space Program which started out as a very limited game while slowly making it possible to get docking stations set up in space to refuel in order to land on different planets and drive around in a Rover you made yourself before going back to earth. They didn't charge the same price for that first thing which was more of a concept demo than a game as they do now.

I just realised how jarring it is for an episode to not finish with Jim reminding us to thank God for him.

That's going to be in the complete version.

Anyway, Jim, hit the nail on the head with this one, you did.

I really liked the style of this episode, Very clever little way of illustrating a point using the medium etc.

I have bought into a couple of early access games. Some, like Prison Architect, I was happy to do as long as the guys kept putting out their cute little videos every update. and a few I have felt a bit burned by (so far). I am happy to see Jim raising this point. But a pretty unpleasant idea popped into my brain. I noticed how much patching and updating early access games do. Which is great and I am always happy to have updates. But I realised how this could be used for nefarious purposes.

Early access may be the ultimate anti piracy measure. (I am sure a coked up exec in a board room is saying the same thing) Sure you can have pirates uploading updates etc. but that is a lot of hassle. A game that is "unfinished" and updates every day beats always online, check in systems or any other kind of DRM. It means a promising game in alpha for maybe 1 year. Going on sale, daily deals, update videos to help market and involve the consumer. (Basically stringing them along.) And at the end of it a game that is not worth pirating for at least a year. It means that people who want to play your game right now while it is hot, will most likely pay and that can be both good and bad for the consumer. I would love to hear Jim's (and everyone's) opinion on this one.

I am surprised that this has not been mentioned, but that wasn't 87 pages of Early access games, it was 87 titles.

The point still stands of course, and I half suspect that this was due to it not being edited because it's an early access video.

But just in case.

In the old days the gaming business was release it in shop. Thats it. Now the gaming business is trying to split up the titles into as many pieces to get as much money as possible. Whether its early access, micro transactions or dlc for content that should be in the finished game. An if developers take some of the idea from mobile gaming, things will get worst.

I really never understood the 'early access' hype on Steam or consoles. Now DLC I can do - I got every Mass Effect DLC, but then again those games came complete. The DLC was gravy - extra weapons/armor/characters/storylines that in and of themselves are not central to the game. Bells and whistles I think is the phrase.
But buying a game that's openly incomplete? Isn't that like going to a restaurant and paying for the chef to finish culinary school on the off chance he'll come back someday and make you a meal? That just seems stupid. And I get hype, I really do. Sometimes its a game you just HAVE to own. But really, publishers should offer some incentive? Like if you bought the early alpha build of a game, thus funding the complete build, you get something. Name in the credits, a unique item, a skin for a character. SOMETHING worth the time and money up front.

I'm sorry Jim, but Starbound, offering a fully realized game that will just get better? You're kidding, right?

The game is horribly buggy, and horribly optimized. It took me hours to get Starbound running on my machine - a machine that has had no trouble EVER playing a game. When you have to look up fucking guides on how to fix some miniscule glitch that stops the framerate from tanking in a 2D game, you don't have a finished product.

Starbound's game is horribly broken as well. There is no pacing or structure to it. After you do the last quest (there are what, 5?) It just says "Alright. Just do stuff." No direction. No goals. No clear progression, like with Terraria. I used to criticize Terraria for being a Wiki game - Starbound takes that idea to a whole new universe.

The thing is, I wouldn't mind that if the game was free. Its absurd when a company expects you to pay them money to do their bug testing. Having a game up on Steam and asking for money on it, when its clearly not in shipping condition is appalling - no matter who or what the company is.

Daniel Lowery:
Is the Jimquisition Season Pass coming soon?

You can get the pass right now! The content it gets you will be announced at a later date.

The analogy would have worked better if this video would have been released days earlier, and then completed for monday.

After all, Early Access is popular, because it's EARLY. It's not the alternative of the same games being released fully finished at the same time, but the alternative of having to wait more months for the finished game anyways. WHICH YOU CAN STILL DO, especially if "Early Access" is clearly labelled as such, like on Steam, and as opposed to the AAA habit of patch-reliance after the main release.

A few years ago, hyping up some favorite games, I would have given an arm and a leg to sneak into the studio and play the latest prototype in whatever state it is. Now I can do that. I have more choices. Which is great.

I would still avoid it where it can "spoil" a narrative, or another effect where first impact counts, but for anything else, this is great.

Especially for Kickstarter projects. If Wasteland 2, Banner Saga, or Broken Age have to miss their original deadlines, then at least they should prove it ASAP to their backers that they are not a scam and indeed working on something.

If developers waited until every feature was ready we'd never see a shipped game. The question becomes: Do we have enough features that people are willing to buy this?

That's what early access developers need to figure out.

Also, plenty of warnings about incomplete products exist at least on Steam. It's one of the first things you read.


(threats of bodily harm to the creator and threats of a more sexual nature to miniature willem dafoe doll available as free DLC in Q2 2014. proper spelling and grammar is outside the scope of satirizing Tono Makt, but I'm sure there will be some fan-patches available for download for the PC version of Satirizing Tono Makt)

I had a bank of counter arguments ready, but you ticked them all off in the video. Very nicely done.

One thing I will say is that Steam requires devs to state very clearly that a game is unfinished, explain how it's unfinished and what's coming down the road. While I'm sure there are more than a few devs that have tried to throw up a barely-conceptualised game they have no intention of finishing and running off with the cash, the sort of stigma that's created isn't great for the wide expanse of games that have made great use of the feature like Don't Starve and (I assume) DayZ.

So I suppose there's some responsibility for everyone to take on there. Developers shouldn't take the piss or use Early Access to exploit hungry alpha testers, Steam should make a bit more effort to police the section and make sure what's going up is in a reasonably playable state and likely to be finished, and consumers should never, ever spend money on an Early Access game unless it's either in an enjoyably playable state already (like Don't Starve was for me) or they're prepared to never see a return on that investment.

Also, the practice of putting games up early and charging more for them rather than less is pretty disgusting. Planetary Anihilation is fine because it's making a consious effort not to screw over the Kickstarter backers who paid a high price, but unless you have a very good reason then you can fuck off.

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