Fans of the site will know that I mine Steam trading cards for money to buy more Steam games with, this normally leaves me with some cash on hand to, at the very least, weaken my already poor resolve to purchase additional games on the client. Today I noticed an interesting title by the name of Space Engineers, something like Mine Craft in space and with graphics. It seemed interesting, in-expensive, and like something that I might pick up and play around with—possibly on the stream at some point while Stark said something about all of my spaceships all looking overly phallic.
I may have ended up buying the game, I might have ended up forgetting about the game, but what happened next made me interested enough to write about the game.
While browsing reddit I happened about a thread titled, “My opinion of the developers of Space Engineer”. I am not dumb, I know for a fact that no one acts cagey in a title if their “opinion” isn’t going to attempt to be neutral while secretly trying to convince everyone to hate on it—I just wanted to know more about the game as it was in pre-release and besides two videos I knew nothing about the game. To say that the thread was poorly formed and confusing was an understatement; it took reading the comments for a while to figure out exactly what was going on. Basically I walked away knowing that I probably shouldn’t buy this game. Most of the leg work was done by poster earlycat, so credit goes to him for that, all I am trying to do is present this in an understandable and digestible manner.
To begin with the developer, Keen Software House, has a bad reputation for charging people to get into betas and then suddenly deciding that they are feature complete—bugs and all. There previous game, Miner Wars 2081 was released on Steam as an early access beta, pushed to full release days later, and all work was halted almost directly after. It was poorly received, critically so. Also it was a DRM nightmare. Also it didn’t work on many machines, at all. Right before the team stopped work, stating that they were stopping work to start another title instead (probably because they had grown bored and their ADD kicked in), they had promised a list of updates and fixes that never appeared. Keep in mind that this paragraph is about things that happened on their previous game, and isn’t even about the current one.
Say you have a game breaking bug, or just a normal kind. The first thing most people do is head to the forums to discuss this with other humans to see if it is a known issue with some kind of work around (like don’t make your penis rocket so big). Keen Software would prefer that you didn’t do that, or discuss anything besides how awesome the game is at all if you would. In less time than it takes for the pizza guy to get to my house threads are being deleted with people posting questions asking about bugs, not just standard trolling and people asking if they should buy the game threads (those, by far outnumber them and are also all being deleted), but legit threads with people with issues in the game. The bug forum itself does seem to be populated, but with old questions from people that are waiting to hear back from moderators that are too busy making sure the main forums are a positive place. Sure, maybe you reported a bug in the wrong area, that happens, you thread is moved or deleted. I will give you the benefit of the doubt on that one, have to keep this together or it will be a mad house. Oh, wait, you mean they delete anything from the main forum that isn’t praise:
It is true that most of the thread deletion complaints have been more about people simply asking if the team, you know, intends to complete this game unlike their last one. Those threads last less time that it did for you to get this far in the story. Threads about if you should buy the game are seemingly deleted in bulk, which is odd because most of your day one traffic is people asking if the game is worth it. One person even went so far as to try and start a conversation with the devs about what is going on, for which (this was earlycat) he was banned and then given a 25% off coupon for the game… I don’t know if the last one is a joke that steam plays or some college intern having a sense of humor. The point is the forums are like some kind of train wreck that just watched the VMAs after finding out that the Patriots cheated during that one season all those years ago.
I have talked before, on the pod, on the Stream, in some articles, to myself, about how weird the idea of pre-purchasing a game can be when a designer can just call it quits at any moment while leaving whatever steaming pile they delivered with the player and calling it done. My experiences with it to this point have been pretty positive, with the games taking the fall for either being weird, or just not what I thought they were going to be and not with the concept themselves. I think it is kind of interesting that the gaming world finally has a way that a small company can come out and proclaim itself basically a super villain and manage to destroy all of the good will that millions of people went out of their way to create.
Source: Reddit (r/gaming)