Stop Stop Stop. And I'm not just saying that because it takes like half a minute to load up a page from here.
There is a phrase they use in the movie industry "Kill your darlings".
The person green lighting a production should NEVER EVER be the one working on said production. Writing AI on GalCiv or helping design the game mechanics on Sins of a Solar Empire kept me at a reasonable distance from the actual GAME.
The problem with Elemental was that I am in love with it. To me, it's not just a game. It's a whole world that we can expand and build on. During the months of July and August, when I was working on the game non-stop, I literally had a hard time distinguishing the difference between the GAME, the MODS and the future. It all merged into one fuzzy centrality.
Stardock will be working on Elemental for years to come. Literally. Let me be specific: Stardock will NOT release a new game next year. It'll all be Elemental related. Releasing it in August wasn't a financial decision. Hell, Stardock's games aren't funded by PC game revenue. I wanted you guys to get the game ASAP.
I think most people would agree that Elemental has tremendous potential. The reason it was released when it was was because we thought it had reached that level ready to be shipped. When you're living, breathing and eating something 24/7, your perspective changes.
From a personal pride point of view, it would be much easier to say "Whohaah, my jet fuel requires Elemental to ship in August!". To give you guys an idea of how certain I was that the game was ready for everyone to ship, I didn't just give copies to reviewers, I sent copies to my friends who used to be reviewers (long story but the gaming media has changed a lot in the past 18 months) because I was dying for them to see this masterpiece.
Tom Francis's debiliating PC Gamer preview only was possible was because I personally compiled a version for him (of v1.0) for him to see because the v1.0 version doesn't work outside North America (region checking). In other words, that negative PC Gamer UK preview was only possible because I was so confident in Elemental's readiness that I bypassed Stardock's PR people to get a friend of mine in Europe a copy.
I don't think there should be much disagreement that Stardock absolutely blew it with the launch. Holy cow that should be obvious by now. In my mind, anything less than "game of the year" (in a year with Starcraft 2 and Civ V in it) means we totally screwed up.
The real question, and the question I think every single person who shelled out $50+ for this game should ask is this: What is Stardock going to do to make me whole?
And the answer, I hope, is in the coming months because, like I said, most of Stardock's revenue doesn't come from making PC games.
Having my idiocy shown on a global stage is humbling but probably very constructive for PC gamers. I think most people would agree that Elemental is a fantastic game -- once you get past the idiotic UI decisions, balance, etc.
We are very fortunate to be in a position to make the situation right. We're our own publisher. We don't have the same financial constraints as other companies so we can spend months or even years if necessary to do right by you guys.
Hopefully, this message will make it up to the forums, (because it was long) but if it does, please take it as it is meant. I failed you. I failed you because I love what we're doing and out of sheer hubris -- that the basic law of programmer != guy who decides if it is done somehow didn't apply to me. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Elemental is getting pasted in reviews and deserves that pasting. I'm glad many people are having fun but our eyes have been opened. Like I said before, I'll be writing a lot more about this when I get back to an Internet connection that measures bandwidth with an M instead of a K.