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Decision on Steam & Stand-Alone Launcher


#1

[size=120]Hey Automationeers![/size]

Within the team, carefully considering the results of the poll we ran in October, we have come to the conclusion to keep the separate game launcher alongside the Steam implementation of Automation with some limitations. While the Steam implementation of the game will be complete, we choose to not implement multiplayer into the stand-alone launcher. This can be considered a half-measure between the options initially proposed.

[size=120]Poll Results[/size]

In this post we would like to give you some more background information on how this decision was formed. The outcome of the poll, in which 888 votes were cast was:

81.532% (724) Steam Only 11.712% (104) Steam Only (Inconvenient) 6.757% (60) Stand-Alone Only

This result was somewhat surprising to us as we would have expected around 90% pure “Steam Only”. We do have to assume that these numbers are representative of our player base and thus can be scaled to the ~12k copies sold. Expressed in scaled numbers we would be looking at the following:

9784 +/- 364 Steam Only 1405 +/- 138 Steam Only (Inconvenient) 811 +/- 105 Stand-Alone Only

[size=120]Discussion on Multiplayer[/size]

As a small developer we definitely cannot afford to leave some 800 paying customers in the dust and we would not be able to pay for that many refunds either. Developing a full stand-alone game comes with a huge amount of added effort and would significantly hurt the development progress. Considering the multiplayer part of the game stands for most of this additional effort required and only few players ever touch multiplayer modes, a no-multiplayer stand-alone version is the best possible solution in our opinion.

This statement about multiplayer may seem confusing. Indeed the title Demigod by Gas Powered Games could be considered a multiplayer-only title, and only 23% of its player base ever even tried logging in to their servers. On a similar note, Chris Taylor mentioned in an interview, that only about 10% of Supreme Commander players ever touched their multiplayer modes. Both Demigod and Supreme Commander, although different genres, can be considered much more tailored to the multiplayer experience than Automation ever will be. Taking the 10% figure as an upper limit estimate for Automation thus seems reasonable. In addition to that, people voicing their concerns with Steam in our discussion thread, on average were not interested in the social component of the game.

[size=120]Conclusion[/size]

Piecing this together would mean a maximum of some odd 80 people having to sacrifice a potential multiplayer option by not switching over to Steam, which of course they are free to do like everyone else. This is unfortunate, but in the big picture we think this definitely is the best decision for Automation in the short and long run. Everyone owning a copy of Automation will be able to convert their game key to a Steam key for Automation for free.

We hope that closer to ~99% of our existing players agree with this decision and that the above discussion was insightful. We are very much looking forward to getting Automation onto Steam in the next few months.

Cheers!
The Automation Dev-Team


#2

Seems like a legit choice.
Spelunky did something similar, where e.g. the daily challenge isn’t available for DRM-free versions of e.g. gog.com. So if you didn’t care you just would get the one without the BS attached.
If it turns out to be easy enough to do, you can still “upgrade” the standalone.


#3

I totally agree with the conclusion, from a developer point of view. As for myself, I would’ve rather seen a complete time investment for the game to run on Steam, as now you also would need to make the standalone. How much work does it take to keep the standalone running, too? If with every big new patch, it takes 2 weeks to keep the standalone updated, thats 2 weeks worth of development that stalls.
Though, I completely understand you cannot leave 800 paid customers to themselves and that number also suprised me.

Nevertheless, great way to keep everyone happy and keep up the good work!


#4

That consideration with the multiplayer seems appropriate to me, as while I am perfectly happy to convert to steam, I am also happy not to use steam and am not particularly interested in the multiplayer due to the way I like to approach this game. It seems reflected in the general levels of interest in multiplayer mode: the biggest drawcard by far of this game is the tycoon mode, and, in a way, also the sandbox mode and the activity on the forum seems a pretty good indication of why.


#5

Sounds like a damn good idea.


#6

@Wizzy: The effort going into maintaining the stand-alone version without multiplayer is pretty small in comparison to doing the full thing. I would estimate a day or two for every big update, so that should not hold us back too much!


#7

Instead of having a server host all of our online games, could you perhaps implement a feature similar to the minecraft multiplayer system?

For example, I start a dedicated server, and I, along with a few of my friends, connect to it directly through my I.P. Address?

Just a thought to consider, because I really don’t like the idea of not having multiplayer on the stand-alone launcher, and I personally don’t like steam one bit.

Plus, it means that you don’t have to host all of our stand-alone-launcher online games on one of your servers!

I know it’d take a while, but it’s basically (not that I know a whole lot about game development…) modifying the stand-alone client’s UI to say “Connect to a server! Input IP and port:” instead of “Here’s a list of servers! Join one now!”, and essentially copying the already existing online game server program and perhaps modifying it slightly to work better with a private server infrastructure. Just an idea to think about.

I’m not saying that it’d be easy by any means, but it might be a better alternative as opposed to simply saying “NO MULTIPLAYER FOR U STANDALONE!”. lol

Thanks,
Ron


#8

I find this solution perfect! I do not desire to hold development back and I also do not participate in multiplayer (although I have logged in a few times to never find anyone on). Consider this a happy no steam customer! IF I ever decide I need to try out multiplayer, it will be on me to sign up for Steam, but it’s great to have an option which does not require it. :slight_smile:


#9

I’m happy with this decision! Since i already play most of the games i play on Steam anyway, it’s no problem at all for me. How about the saved files? Like engine files and model files, will those be saved for both the standalone and the Steam version? If not, will there be a way to copy paste the .lua files into the folders of the steam version?


#10

Well, I never used steam but i guess it shouldn’t be too much of a effort.


#11

I cant see any reason why saving engine cars, models etc should differ between versions any more than it should differ now between players.
I play Civ 5 a lot through steam. I don’t use steam cloud so all my save games are local. Civ 5 has a folder within my documents, just like Automation does.


#12

Saves are not affected, no. Maybe there will be an option for simultaneous cloud saves though.


#13

[quote=“ronnie4444”]Instead of having a server host all of our online games, could you perhaps implement a feature similar to the minecraft multiplayer system?

For example, I start a dedicated server, and I, along with a few of my friends, connect to it directly through my I.P. Address?

Just a thought to consider, because I really don’t like the idea of not having multiplayer on the stand-alone launcher, and I personally don’t like steam one bit.

Plus, it means that you don’t have to host all of our stand-alone-launcher online games on one of your servers!

I know it’d take a while, but it’s basically (not that I know a whole lot about game development…) modifying the stand-alone client’s UI to say “Connect to a server! Input IP and port:” instead of “Here’s a list of servers! Join one now!”, and essentially copying the already existing online game server program and perhaps modifying it slightly to work better with a private server infrastructure. Just an idea to think about.

I’m not saying that it’d be easy by any means, but it might be a better alternative as opposed to simply saying “NO MULTIPLAYER FOR U STANDALONE!”. lol

Thanks,
Ron[/quote]

The problem is, this does not tie into our plans for multiplayer. Such as having on running challenges, like a racing league etc. This requires leaderboards, which steam provides out of the box. The Steamworks API provides a fantastic set of networking tools, that I do not have to write myself from scratch, and handles things such as NAT punch through, authentication, voice communications etc. NAT punchthrough is the reason why I didn’t allow people to host their own games, it’s a bitch to sort out, and the minecraft solution of just let the users figure it out, and forward the correct ports never sat right for me. I want the players to enjoy playing the game, and learning about cars and engines. Not having to learn about ip addresses and port forwarding, and getting frustrated at why it doesn’t connect.

To maintain multiplayer games on the standalone version to a similar standard to the Steam integration would be months of work.


#14

That makes sense.

I don’t want to hold back development any more than absolutely needed lol.

I just thought that might be a good idea, but once again I’m not an experienced programmer by any means (my best piece of work is currently a game similar to game dev tycoon, but for computers instead. still working on it!). As such, I somehow figured there’d be a good number of complications with a game like automation, which is complicated already (not saying that I know how hard it is! xD)!

Either way, I really can’t wait to see what automation brings in the future. I may just try steam, purely for the multiplayer aspect :smiley:

Ron


#15

Seems legit. I don’t use any multiplayer, and I don’t want to use steam. Great choice!


#16

I’m very happy with this decision!
I own Automation and I want to take it as one my favourite game.
This fact for me means that I want to take only this games and a few others as installers also in the “serious purpose” notebook or desktop!

I ever didn’t use Multiplayer, so for me there is no change if you release the stand-alone launcher without MP.

Thanks Guys! :smiley:


#17

I am extremely satisfied with this solution. Thanks for keeping us Steam luddites in mind!


#18

Yeah. Logical as always. Good idea if you ask me.


#19

Any idea on a time frame for the Steam release?


#20

We give no dates as you know, but the time frame is “a few months”, it is the next big update and we’ve come about half-way in it.