PSA #2 - A series of free updates: the future of Demigod

Making Demigod Better

By on November 22, 2010 4:22:23 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

pacov

Join Date 02/2008
+182

Hello folks,

For those of you that followed the Demigod development journals in the past, you are aware that we’ve likely received all of the major patch updates we’ll get in Demigod.  The last post in the development journals related to patches indicated that we’ll receive a “series of free updates” from GPG (GPG is Gas Powered Games – they are the developer of Demigod.  Stardock is the publisher of the game and doesn’t handle coding/patching changes outside of hosting/staging the patched versions via impulse).  As of today, we haven’t received any of those free updates, which we can actually view as good news – as it means we can potentially still get fixes and changes implemented into the game.  

To that end, I have a plan (which I’ll cover in a little bit).

We still have several talented modders in the community that are even today coming up with ways to make Demigod an even better game.  Take the AI, for instance.  The standard AI in Demigod has always been somewhat lackluster and certainly in need of improvement.  The generic AI would not use logical builds or make item selections based on how an experienced person would.  Thanks to the modders and feedback from the community, if you install the Enhanced AI mod, you will find that the AI chooses intelligent builds, intelligent items, purchases the most useful citadel upgrades at the right time, prioritizes flags that should be controlled, etc.  

Now, if we take a look at the bug fixing side of things, the community modders have coded a mod called uberfix.  This mod corrects exploits that shouldn’t exist in the game, fixes bugs, makes it so Occulus’s abilities work as described, etc.  We all want the game to work the way it should and this mod gets it there and is continually being improved upon as additional bugs are discovered. 

Onto the UI (user interface – eg the stuff you see on the screen that tells you how much health you have, etc) side of things: the modders again have provided some significant enhancements that really add to the overall Demigod experience.  There are mods that indicate how many summoned minions you have, mods that simply make it so instead of just seeing a green/blue bar for health/mana you see the text value of your health/mana on top of that, mods that add an overlayed window showing your teams health and mana, and last, but not least, mods that allow you to see what items your teammates have simply by mousing over them.  On 1/22/2011, I created a combined UI mod that you can simply download, install, and enable in game and it will give you all of the benefits I describe above:  http://forums.demigodthegame.com/404410

What's the problem with things as they are today?

OK – so we have quite a few great mods that really improve the Demigod experience.  So what’s the problem – eg why would we want any of these changes patched into Demigod itself?  Well, the easiest example is that (using uberfix and the enhanced AI mod as examples) you can’t play games with anyone else UNLESS they have these mods installed.  As our community is small, this means that anytime you choose to enable these mods in multiplayer, you are excluding folks from your game that do not have the required mods installed.  This generally results in players NOT using mods like uberfix and Enhanced AI as it is much easier to get a game going without them.  So, we can solve most of Demigod’s shortcomings ourselves, but we can only play with folks from the community if they have installed the mods themselves (and I’d wager about 70% of the existing community do not have the mods installed).  

The Plan

We have a few directions we could try to move in. 

  • We can see if Stardock would be willing to add a group of mods directly to their demigod distributable (I DO NOT know if this is something they can do as a publisher or not).  This way, EVERYONE would have the core mods and the host could simply enable and disable the mods as desired.  The downside with this approach is that I can guarantee that Stardock would not be releasing a new demigod package every time a new update was created for a mod (which puts us right back into the same boat we are in now).  But on the plus side, it would still be a substantial improvement and would enable every demigod player to join every game and get the benefit of the mods without having to directly install them.  
  • Another option would be to integrate several of the coding changes found in the mods directly into demigod (eg update the dgdata.zip).  This way, no mods need to be loaded as they would  be a core part of Demigod and we’d just get an updated release.  More on how to pull this off in a bit.
  • And the final option, would be to do a little of both.  We’d integrate the fixes found in several of the mods directly into demigod AND have a few additional mods that would be loaded info the modding folder in Demigod so that players could use them as desired.  

So, how can we pull any of this off?  

Here’s what I’m thinking – documentation.  A lot of it.  Sounds fun, I know.  Let’s suppose that the community puts our heads together and comes up with an archive of information we can submit to Stardock and have them forward over to the folks at GPG.  The overall premise is that the easier we can make the changes for them, the more likely we’ll actually see them implemented.  It’s one thing to tell GPG we have a problem with Occulus – please fix it.  It’s another thing entirely to provide the exact code required to implement the fix and perhaps even document exactly what the problem was in code.  

What I imagine would be several things.  The original lua for each file that is being updated.  The updated lua for each file that is being updated (including everything that was in the original lua along with the coding fixes).  An updated lua file that includes ONLY the fix.  An explanation of what is wrong and the solution.  Validation that testing was performed on the change.  A finalized compiled dgdata.zip for use in the next release of Demigod including all of the coding changes. 

All of that said, even if we compiled all of this, there is no guarantee we could get anything implemented.  I’m guessing Stardock would have some control over adding some mods directly to the package in impulse, but don’t know if they’d need a buy in from GPG to do something like that.  And I don’t really know how much assistance we’d get from GPG to make any of this happen.  But, we can always give it go. 

Locked Post 75 Replies
Search this post
Subscription Options


Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 22, 2010 4:22:30 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

NT

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 22, 2010 9:26:57 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

With some substantial testing to back up the viability of the existing code, I could create new 'original' versions of every file in the Uberfix within maybe two hours.  A 'changes only' version shouldn't really required (although that's exactly what the latest versions of the Uberfix are), as anyone reviewing the code for official inclusion will most certainly have a decent text comparison tool at their disposal.

 

Keep in mind, however, that GPG is in the midst of a creating a new game (and almost always will be), and probably won't be able to spare anyone for a project like this for a 'dead' game.  Time is money, and all that.  Even though it might seem like a trivial amount of work from our perspective, what with the coding being already done, there's actually a ton of QA work that goes into every non-disastrous patch for every game ever released.  This is why you often don't see changes and fixes you'd expect in every patch - they may be well aware of the issue, and even have available resources to code the needed fixes, but both coding and testing take time.  At some point, they have to submit a QA release of the patch to the publisher for final approval, and not everything makes the grade (whether for lack of time, or lack of proven stability).

 

I guess what I'm saying is, don't get your hopes up.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 23, 2010 12:21:47 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I hate to be the one to tell you guys but Demigod is over. GPG and Stardock both have their own issues- GPG needs to finish Kings and Castles and support SupCom 2 and Stardock needs to focus on the flop that was Elemental.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 23, 2010 1:04:44 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting Polynomial,
I hate to be the one to tell you guys but Demigod is over. GPG and Stardock both have their own issues- GPG needs to finish Kings and Castles and support SupCom 2 and Stardock needs to focus on the flop that was Elemental.

Bet you a dollar we get another patch, Poly.  Maybe even 2.

No - please believe me that I'm quite realistic about the possibilities of getting a patch or having mods added to demigod.  I'd personally go as far to say that there is about a 60% chance this will happen (which sounds a wee bit better than what you fellas think - and I have been paying attention as well).  Anyway, I guess time will tell, but I'm pursuing this until Brad tells me no chance in hell. 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 23, 2010 1:06:54 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I just don't see a reason for Stardock or GPG to devote resources to what was sadly a poorly handled game. Especially considering GPG put out SupCom 2.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 23, 2010 1:14:35 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Well - then that's a matter of whether or not you believe Brad or GPG.  Brad indicated a series of free updates.  We haven't seen them, so its logically pending.  And there is a good reason for Stardock to back this initiative up.  They are in it for the long haul.  Improving the AI, for instance, and then launching a sale to go along with the [insert marketing speak for great new AI developed by the community], will increase profitability of the game.  In short, if SD can get GPG to bite and integrate some mods or even just add the mods to a release on impulse, it will result in additional sales.  The only real factor in the equation is HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO MAKE ANY OF THIS HAPPEN?  And if its cheap, then its easily worth it to Stardock to hop on board and get some additional revenue. The better the end product, the better the potential for future sales.  And, I'd imagine Demigod will be for sale in 2020.  My 2 cents, of course. 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 23, 2010 1:34:20 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I think you're a little obsessed over the game pacov =P I loved the game as much as anyone.

Stardock promised tournaments. Stardock promised the 2 Demigods like 2 months after release. Stardock promised maps. Stardock constantly complained about how expensive content is. Frogboy ragequit the forums because of trolling. Everything about Demigod was a disaster in terms of its launch and support. The shell was there, but o and Scathis left GPG and GPG went through tough times. Every cent that would be spent on supporting Demigod 1 should be put towards Demigod 2.

I love the Stardock crew but man Elemental marks 2 disasters in a row. Things need to be shaken up.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 23, 2010 1:42:47 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Stardock promised tournaments.

Sponsored tournament by stardock is going on now.  Here's the finance thread if you are interested:  http://forums.demigodthegame.com/398009

Stardock not only pitched in for generous a cash prize, but also marketed the tournament and tied it with a Demigod sale which resulted in many new players buying Demigod. 

Stardock promised the 2 Demigods like 2 months after release.

fair enough - but 2 demigods were released

Frogboy ragequit the forums because of trolling

Yeah - that is true, but he always came back.  That's more of a Brad thing than anything else though.  I think he RQ elemental for a bit too, but came back. 

Everything about Demigod was a disaster in terms of its launch and support.

True - the launch was... bad.  But Stardock did everything in its power to turn things around.  And did their best to support the networking issues, etc.

Every cent that would be spent on supporting Demigod 1 should be put towards Demigod 2.

In hindsight, I might agree there as we might not see a Demigod 2 now (though it is a brilliant game).

I think you're a little obsessed over the game pacov =P I loved the game as much as anyone.

We are in the same boat... BUT - I'm still playing it now.  So... maybe I love it a wee bit more. 

Anyway, the vast majority of the promises made were fulfilled - perhaps not on the desired time table - BUT - fulfilled.  That's why I still think at least some of the changes I'm pursuing will happen.  After all, it probably doesn't matter to you much if these changes are included - but to me, it would make the game I love to play that much better.  And would make things even better for our small community AND players that will buy the game in the future (eg an improved product with proper marketing should result in better sales). 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 23, 2010 1:48:54 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

The community shouldn't need to run tournaments. Stardock should have done that first party or third party. Squeenix did a good job with SupCom 2.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 23, 2010 2:00:03 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting Polynomial,
The community shouldn't need to run tournaments. Stardock should have done that first party or third party. Squeenix did a good job with SupCom 2.

Sounds like a matter of opinion, no?

At any rate, Stardock sponsored a community initiative (eg is supporting the community).  Whether they should be running tournaments really wasn't much of an issue for us as we decided to run one and they decided to sponsor it.  And promote it.  I don't know about you, but if I decide to create a tournament for a game I love, I don't expect the publisher to jump in and indicate they would like to sponsor it. And that's what happened here. 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 23, 2010 2:15:03 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

I like Demigod, but let's be honest with ourselves - when you can't even scrabble together a dozen 3-player teams for your second publisher-sponsored tournament and have half of them show up to a single match, the game is deader than all hell.  I've seen this happen to so many games before, most better-supported than Demigod was.

Games don't get more popular with age.  There's nowhere to go but down.  etc etc.  Even if another patch were released, there's no evidence that it would reinvigorate the community, in fact that almost never happens (and certainly didn't with 1.3).  Be satisfied that you're getting some pretty good unofficial fixes and AI patches, and work on pushing those to the remaining community.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 23, 2010 4:11:16 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I'm a speechless troll.  My jaw dropped, fell off, and rolled out the door.  You actually care about your game?  Who are you?  This is a joke?  No wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy /hug.  (Do you have a sister?  nm, j/k)

YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 23, 2010 1:21:17 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting OMG_pacov,

Quoting Polynomial, reply 9The community shouldn't need to run tournaments. Stardock should have done that first party or third party. Squeenix did a good job with SupCom 2.

Sounds like a matter of opinion, no?

At any rate, Stardock sponsored a community initiative (eg is supporting the community).  Whether they should be running tournaments really wasn't much of an issue for us as we decided to run one and they decided to sponsor it.  And promote it.  I don't know about you, but if I decide to create a tournament for a game I love, I don't expect the publisher to jump in and indicate they would like to sponsor it. And that's what happened here. 

All I'm saying is Squeenix got some really great tournaments going for SupCom2 and Stardock did nothing. The community can run tournaments, but the publisher, especially when you're releasing a strategy game, should run higher stakes tournaments too.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 23, 2010 1:24:08 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting miriyaka,
I like Demigod, but let's be honest with ourselves - when you can't even scrabble together a dozen 3-player teams for your second publisher-sponsored tournament and have half of them show up to a single match, the game is deader than all hell.  I've seen this happen to so many games before, most better-supported than Demigod was.

Games don't get more popular with age.  There's nowhere to go but down.  etc etc.  Even if another patch were released, there's no evidence that it would reinvigorate the community, in fact that almost never happens (and certainly didn't with 1.3).  Be satisfied that you're getting some pretty good unofficial fixes and AI patches, and work on pushing those to the remaining community.
I'm really happy to see pacov supporting this game so much. Even though the tournament is going slow and most people dropped out, the tournament will finish like the last 2on2 tournament. On a side note, that is more an issue on the people not dedicating themselves to the tournament than the game itself. I was playing in a 1on1 SCII tournament and no one ever played their tournament games either until the whole tournament got canceled.

Until pacov completely stops with demigod, the game will be alive and improve every day

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 23, 2010 4:04:41 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Your enthusiasm for this game is awesome but even if these patches do happen there is no proof that it will help with sales. I don’t think it changes much. This is coming from someone that knows nothing about the tech stuff behind it. I don’t know what percentage of gamers are like me but when I see a patch I may or may not read through the text file that comes along with it. To me that’s all it is….a text file. Ok, so the price of such and such item was changed or there is a new favor item. Well great but its still the same game. I don’t see how telling someone that has never played the game that problems have been fixed is going to help. Any new customer to the game expects the problems to already be fixed so it’s not really a selling point and improved AI is the most overused term in video game marketing. Now continued support may be a selling point but again any new customer expects for a game to be supported. I never made the connection until now that support equaled patches and improvements. I guess I always took it for granted and expected it to happen in every game not some additional perk that influenced my buying decision.

 I can see them being in it for the long haul because any additional sales helps and you hit on some good points about minor expense and additional revenue but its all speculation. I think the key info we are missing is: Did they even make a profit on this game at all? We may be talking sunk cost at this point but I can still definitely see it affecting the willingness to sink any more resources into it. Also an improvement on an existing product does not always equal additional sales. I don’t think video games work that way. I think if a game is screwed from the beginning then that’s it. Even these sales or dropping price isn’t going to do much because then you run into people not caring much if the game is good or not because they don’t have much invested in it. If a 2 year old $5 game has problems, big whoop, I move on and get another one. Now if a brand new $50 game has problems I may stick it out for a while in hopes of a fix. Video games come and go and there is always something bigger and better around the corner. But I can see the developer or whoever has control throwing us a bone every now and then just to do it. I think this game is awesome and haven’t been addicted to one as much since SC1 so I welcome any improvements that are made but I really don’t see any of this turning this game around.  Having said that...Pretty, Please? Don't die Demigod!

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 23, 2010 4:28:14 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Demigod was financially profitable. More than a year ago. 

Now, it didn't make as much as they had hoped. But it certainly did make a profit and I believe Stardock would still be interested in publishing Demigod 2, as long as it wasn't as terrible a launch. 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 23, 2010 4:30:23 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting miriyaka,

Games don't get more popular with age.  There's nowhere to go but down.  etc etc.  Even if another patch were released, there's no evidence that it would reinvigorate the community, in fact that almost never happens (and certainly didn't with 1.3).  Be satisfied that you're getting some pretty good unofficial fixes and AI patches, and work on pushing those to the remaining community.

Demigod never reached close to its full potential due lackluster support and I think thats why some people haven't given up hope completely.

For instance, now there is now an AI mod where the computer controlled demigods play better in more ways than just build orders and item purchasing.  They now defend flags, lock portals, heal/shield/interrupt at proper moments.  To a layman like myself, implementing this mod for everyone would seem like a very small effort for Stardock and GPG.  I know, I know... there are QA procedures they are supposed to go through to make sure everything works properly, but why should they start now if the game is nearly dead?

If everyone had this mod we could start playing the larger maps in pug games.  We could actually have schedulable 2/1AI vs 2/1AI tournaments where each team gets an AI DG.  Hell, a 1/2AI vs 1/2AI tourney to see who the next best player to Orcun is.   Beginners could play 1v1 against other beginners with AI on their team so they could learn without more experienced teamates yelling at them.  Hell, the AI is so much better with this mod, they'll practically be tutors!

Just a small change would do so much for a game that despite everything going wrong that could go wrong for it, still hasn't managed to completely die... imagine if they implemented the rest of the community mods.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 23, 2010 4:36:20 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

the big thing is the amount of qa that would be required.  Granted, we could do the qa for them (as I understand it, stardock is actually responsible for qa on demigod as well - they have a somewhat unique arrangement). 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 23, 2010 4:41:58 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Community QA is not a thing that has ever happened, and never will.  Keep in mind that companies like Stardock are real, actual businesses employing people in suits with business and law degrees to make sure the well-meaning operations side of the company doesn't do something really foolish that costs them a lot of money (insert joke about Demigod's unprofitability). 

Such as: relying on random people on the internet to determine whether or not an official update that is automatically pushed out to every single user of the game who connects to the multiplayer service is stable and reliable enough to not cause a huge fiasco.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 23, 2010 4:49:13 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Man what a bunch of naysayers.. What's the harm in trying??

 

If you've quit the game then stop shouting it down from a distance. If you have nothing left to contribute then piss off. Why does someone's enthusiasm necessitate a negative response?

 

Just give it a go pacov - you've got nothing to lose except your time which you seem to be very generous with. It would be great for existing players even if it doesn't cause an increase in new sales. Definitely + karma for you....

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 23, 2010 5:09:35 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Community QA is not a thing that has ever happened, and never will.

I hate to be the one to tell that its happened with demigod before and is currently happening in elemental right now...

Perhaps we have different definitions of qa, though. 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 23, 2010 5:29:47 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting miriyaka,


Such as: relying on random people on the internet to determine whether or not an official update that is automatically pushed out to every single user of the game who connects to the multiplayer service is stable and reliable enough to not cause a huge fiasco.

 

Your definition of "huge fiasco" would be screwing up what has been described as a "game is deader than all hell"?

Doesn't seem to me like they really have much to lose.

Edit: Miri, not trying to be a dick... I'm just honestly confused.  I realize you're just trying to give us a possibly much needed dose of reality.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 23, 2010 5:36:07 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

What I mean is that every beta, beta patch, or 'community tested patch' you've seen has also gone through internal publisher/developer QA as well.  The only exception I can think of to this would be Tribes 2, and well, look what happened there.

It's not that I think the game will never be patched again, but I'm being extremely realistic about how these things happen.  Stardock will have to spend some money and hire someone at GPG (or a third party? I don't know what their agreement is like) to look over, integrate, and test any fixes the community produces.  They'll then have to have someone test this, internally.  Then maybe they'll release a beta patch for the community to 'test', but really, that last step isn't entirely necessary.

 

Edit: What they have to lose is money spent creating a patch.  Also, any remaining reputation they have if the patch goes south.  They push a bad patch out, and they get a backlash from the remaining community, a point-and-laugh blurb or two in the gaming press, and the failures of their last two games look even worse to other companies that might otherwise want to work with them to release a game.  Even if you don't think that's what would happen, they've gotta account for the possibility.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 23, 2010 5:47:54 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Let me clarify further:  If Demigod had been a fairly high-profile release, and hadn't had a total flop of a launch, AND these kinds of fixes and enhancements and AI improvements had been patched in somehow within the first few months, THEN they would have had an appreciable effect on the game's profitability.

However, it's been almost two years since the game was released, it had an awful launch, the post-launch support was non-existent, and the community has been stagnant and dwindling for, well, a long time.  One, two, ten patches-- it doesn't matter, it's not going to suddenly sell another 10,000 copies of the game.  There are times and situations where that might, but this isn't one.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
November 23, 2010 5:59:19 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

I'll round this out with a self-deprecating coup-de-grace:  How rough of a spot is this game in that I'm the only one maintaining the community fix patch?

Haha.  Seriously.  I have no programming experience at all outside of poking around with Supreme Commander lua for a year or so prior to buying Demigod, and I've never even released a mod for either game.  I don't even really play Demigod multiplayer, and my sole interest in the game at this point is light modding and the occasional quick skirmish game.  On top of that, I lose interest in it entirely for months at a time, and I can hardly believe I've actually been back into it long enough to scrape together something that might actually be releasable.

[e digicons]:karma:[/e]

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
Stardock Forums v1.0.0.0    #101114  walnut1   Server Load Time: 00:00:00.0000812   Page Render Time:

Stardock Magazine | Register | Online Privacy Policy | Terms of Use

Copyright © 2016 Stardock Entertainment and Gas Powered Games. Demigod is a trademark of Gas Powered Games. All rights reserved. All other trademarks and copyrights are the properties of their respective owners. Windows, the Windows Vista Start button and Xbox 360 are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies, and 'Games for Windows' and the Windows Vista Start button logo are used under license from Microsoft. © 2012 Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. All rights reserved. AMD, the AMD Arrow logo and combinations thereof are trademarks of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.