Double Fine halting Spacebase DF-9 development

JaseC

gave away the keys to the kingdom.
Jul 30, 2009
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#1
Update #3 (21/09): Tim Schafer weighs in.

Update #2 (20/09): Double Fine explains its decision.

Update #1 (19/09): PaulloDEC has posted a from-memory overview of what made the cut and what didn't.

-----ORIGINAL POST-----

Courtesy of SinineSiil:

So Double Fine will end Spacebase DF-9 development and leave it barebones.
http://steamcommunity.com/games/246090/announcements/detail/216494030200824180
They even made a timeline to show how "far" they have come since first EA release.

They removed this development plan page few months ago so they were even planning to abandon it for some time.
http://web.archive.org/web/20131018054131/http://spacebasedf9.com/devplans
Most of those features are missing,

What the fucking what? I actually bought this game because had good faith in it. Developer like DF should've been a safe bet, right? What a scum.
The state the game will be when it leaves Early Access next month:


What was envisioned until semi-recently (note that the Wayback.org crawled the page only once, in October last year, so as per the above image some of the features below have been implemented):
FOOD
* citizens have hunger need and must eat food to satisfy it
* food replicator object that can be built in any zone
* citizens can use food replicator to fulfill hunger need, but it's like vending machine food, adequate but not great
* small matter cost (1-2) each time someone uses a food replicator
** 0 matter = replicators stop working
** improperly maintained food replicators produce bad food that makes people sick?
* replicator food comes in wrappers, produces waste (litter carryable) (if/when carryable object concept is added)
* garden zones where plants, ie "real food", is grown in hydroponic trays by citizens with botanist duty
* plants in gardens produce small amounts of extra oxygen
* citizens who spend time in garden zones have happy thoughts, increasing morale
* plants grow from seedlings to full-sized plants ready for harvest
* plants have a "health", if it reaches zero the plant dies
* citizens on botanist duty "maintain" plant health, much as techs maintain machines
* botanists harvest fully grown plants and deliver them to pub fridges for preparation
* bartenders at pubs cook food into meals, which nourish citizens more and make them happy
* concept of different dishes?
** how do bartenders/patrons decide which dish is cooked?
** immigrants bring recipes for new dishes?
* citizens sit at a pub table and eat
* citizens have food preferences
** eating a preferred food makes them very happy, eating a strongly disliked food makes them a bit unhappy

CARRYABLE OBJECTS
* citizens visibly carry around arbitrary sprite/3D objects
* containers can hold other things
* citizens can stash stuff in an inventory, shown in a new inspector tab
* when people arrive, they have a suitcase (container with their stuff in it)
* players build shelves for people to put their stuff on
* a single item of stuff can have multiple tags describing it, eg purple, terran, fuzzy, punk rock, etc. citizens have affinities for these tags
* citizens trade stuff with each other, trying to get stuff they like more
* roaming traders will visit the base to trade new stuff with people
* "litter" objects that citizens with low neatness personality throw away
* janitors / people with high neatness pick up litter
* janitors clean up bloodstains and other cosmetic damage
* people gibbed by monsters turn into bits, which janitors must clean up

POWER SYSTEM
* "reactor zone" with fusion reactor object that produces power
* rooms must be adjacent to a room with a working reactor to be powered
* unpowered rooms go dark (emergency lighting) and objects in them don't function
* reactors only produce X power, then you have to build another
* factor new need for reactors into starting matter allotment
* maybe make the Base Seed object serves as a low-output reactor to help players get started

MINIMAP
* minimap display of base in lower right corner
* separate viz mode toggles for minimap vs main view

BASE HISTORY SCREEN
* a permanent timestamped list of important base events: citizen joined, citizen died, ship docked, first zone of each type created
* in-game screenshot key that pops up a "write a caption for this screenshot" box, screenshot + caption is added to the timestamped list
* base history is stored locally in save dir as HTML + linked images, each base has its own dir
* base history is also mirrored on a hosted server somewhere, players can easily link their base histories

BASE STATS SCREEN
* auto-show stats screen after base fails, ie everyone dies, "game over" state
stats to show:
* Matter spent
* Derelicts
* Hostile docking
* Total docks
* Non-hostile docks
* Docking requests denied, accepted, forced
* Room temp
* Raiders killed
* Monsters killed

MULTI-LEVEL BASE CONSTRUCTION
* UI for navigating multiple levels
* rendering tech for showing multiple levels
* build gravshafts to allow citizens to travel between levels
* ability to build railings for safety?

TAG SYSTEM FOR LOGS
* a log message can have any number of tags, citizens select an especially appropriate one (but avoid repeating themselves)

ASSIGN PEOPLE TO ROOMS
* depending on their duty and/or zone type, this can mean different things:
** assign a security-duty citizen to a room to have them guard it
** assign any citizen to a residence to have them use it as their quarters
* normally, a citizen will "claim" an unused bed and the area around it
** citizens decorate their living space with their stuff (see "stuff" above)
* people protect their spaces / become annoyed when strangers or unfriendly people intrude

"LEARN TO PLAY"
* option in front/pause menu
* loads Box.sav as starting map, as opposed to normal DeepSpace.sav
* "only display once" hint flag for tutorialish / first time messages

TELEPORTERS
* build at least two "teleport pad" objects to create a functioning teleporter
* UI for selecting which teleporter goes where (dynamically changeable)
* teleporter accidents: poorly maintained teleporters could hurt/kill people, scramble their brains (personality change), turn them evil (goatee Spock)

METEOR STRIKES
* meteors strike bases, punching holes in the hull, depressurizing rooms, damaging people and things
** not as harsh as in the Amnesia Fortnight 2012 version, promise :]
* shield generators generate shielding to repel meteor strikes (gives technicians stuff to do in space)

MISC UI
* confirm + cancel for roster screen
* custom viz for Construct mode - desaturate colors except for amber building color?
* shift-space = max speed
* up/down arrows in room centers showing whether room O2 is rising or lowering
* "object condition" viz mode: color-code objects by condition, highlight technicians? do same when a technician is selected?
* allow zoom in beyond min_zoom, spring back to normal min_zoom after a few seconds
* make ability to rename citizens "once only"
* "no power" icon over unpowered rooms (once power system exists)
* little lines showing where someone is pathing to
* cutaway mode should work on asteroids
* support Mac trackpad gestures

EMERGENCY DISTRESS SIGNAL
* (very expensive?) object you can build that calls for rescue people / immigrants to show up and save your base

BASE NAMING
* when your first oxygenated room comes online, base is considered "established" and prompts you for a name

STEAM WORKSHOP
* built in savegame sharing!
* mod support!
** "mods" subdir where user-created scripts patch base game lua files at runtime
** provide uncompiled lua source for gameplay-relevant classes, eg Character.lua, to support modders
** allow PNG sprite sheets - lower performance than tex format in exchange for easy moddability

BARTENDERS
* pub customers get their orders from bartender
* bartenders serve food (once food exists)
* skilled bartenders make people they serve happier
* citizen drunkenness - increased by X every drink they have, dwindles to zero slowly (ie "blood alcohol")
* drunk citizens more likely to make mistakes while doing duty

CITIZEN FIGHTING
* citizens who dislike each other enough will fight
* low risk of actual death, but injury and deepening mutual hatred
* security can stun violent people to calm them down, knocking them unconscious for a bit
* drunk citizens more likely to fight
* low morale citizens far more likely to fight

SPACE MADNESS
* when morale is critically low, space madness takes a form depending on personality type:
** sit in bed moping (how to recover?)
** become violent, grabbing a rifle if available, attacking random people

DOCTORS
* doctor duty and infirmary zone
* doctors unassigned to an infirmary (see "assining people to rooms") patrol the base looking for hurt/sick people
* citizens seek out an infirmary/doctor when hurt or sick (parasite infestation)
* doctors use tricorder-like first aid prop to heal people
** better doctors heal people faster / more fully, bad doctors have a chance to hurt them
* revivabed object for infirmary: only way to detect parasite infestation or cure some diseases

CONSTRUCTION TOOLS
* "flood fill with floor" tool, works on areas enclosed by walls or asteroid
* "build circular room" tool - drag out a circular area instead of a square
* filled (with floor) vs unfilled (without floor) toggle for box and circle room tools

MISC LIFE SIM
* "skill point distribution" algo for generating skill set on citizen spawn - nobody will be terrible at everything, if someone is really good at something they'll likely be bad at everything else
* over time, citizens get nicknames, eg Bob "Sparky" Schmidt
* ability to flag any citizens as hostile / suspicious (security will keep an eye on them)
* citizens have to reach a locker before they can change duty
* citizens become annoyed if their environment is noisy (people passing through or doing stuff) while sleeping or relaxing - incentivize building residences that are low-traffic
* "watch video" activity tied to monitors
* sportsball matches viewable on monitors / in pubs
* high morale = skills go up more quickly
* citizens put on duty-outfit when they go to do duty, remove it when starting certain other tasks (sleeping) or if it's been long enough since they last did duty

SOCIALIZATION / AFFINITY AI
* people prefer to chat with friends, unless they have high gregarious personality in which case they actively enjoy chatting with strangers (low familiarity)
* people have +/- affinities for objects and rooms with certain qualities, eg red, dark, fluffy
* people have +/- affinities for people with certain qualities (xenophobia/philia, sexual preference, fashion sense)
* people spread gossip about people they dislike, biasing affinity map changes against them
* trends: popular (high aggregate affinity) people influence the affinities of less popular people
* fashion accessories signify social affiliation, eg cliques wear the same kind of thing
* new concepts (topics) are gradually introduced by immigrants and trade, eg a new fasion craze starts when a trader visits the base with slap bracelets

PERSONALITY TRAITS
* introverted/extroverted = how much people enjoy solitary vs group activities
* gregarious/shy = how much people enjoy chatting with strangers vs friends
* vindictive/forgiving = how long people hold grudges and whether they act on them
* angry/peaceful = whether people become violent or depressed when morale is low
* neat/messy = whether people pick up litter and spare objects vs throw junk on the floor
* religious preference = whether people prefer to be recycled on death or given a "spock funeral"

AFFINITY/CONVERSATION TOPICS
* games
* pubs
* tv shows
* films
* sports
* sports teams
* music albums
* songs

TECHNOLOGY
* scientist job
* research lab zone
* blueprints - you can only build what you have blueprints for
** scientists can construct blueprints by doing research in labs
** players choose research topics?
** blueprints can also be discovered aboard derelicts or brought by special immigrants
* starting conditions determine what technologies you have access to
* take dead hostiles to research labs to study them and learn to better deal with them
** eventually, how to deactivate killbots and reform them into friendly (still scary lookin') bots

"VISIT A FRIEND'S BASE"
* hangar bay zone where shuttles can dock
** (post "stuff" update, traders show up here)
* load citizens onto a shuttle and give it a destination friend's base
* shuttle leaves, your friend gets a visit request
* if accepted, your citizens disembark inside their base, walk around and have adventures
* eventually, they return to the shuttle and return to your base
* travelers preserve any stuff, gained experience, technology etc that they accrue while visiting another base

BASE DEFENSE
* more types of attackers show up in derelicts, docking ships, etc:
** killbots
** murderslugs
* invaders breach base walls and invade from the outside
* exterior base defenses - defensive gun batteries, shielding
* build traps to capture or kill invaders:
** tripwires that can be scripted to doors, other traps, depressurize room, etc
** laser grids
** auto-turrets
** stun nets
* brig zone for storing captured hostiles or violent citizens
** monster domestication/breeding?!?
* greater variety of weapons for citizens to wield
** flamethrower
** gravity gun (flings things/people around)
** plasma cannon (cuts through anything)

FUNERALS
* when they die, depending on religious(?) preference each citizen will either be recycled at the matter recycler, or given a "spock funeral" ie placed in a spacecoffin and sent out an airlock
* either way, a small service may be held with the citizen's friends
** attending this service raises their morale, ie if there is no time for a proper ceremony then survivors will have a harder time grieving

ROBOTS
* robots join your base as citizens
* states for robots:
** normal - subservient to organic life, perform the duty they're assigned without question, don't have a personality
** rampant - gained self-awareness but hate all organic life, they rampage and band together with / produce more killbots
** enlightened sentient - after a long enough life, they become sentient, develop personalities, change their names, live normal lives

LAWS
* ability to pass ordinances: forbid/penalize certain actions, punish or praise people

COMPUTER TERMINALS
* write Lua to script control of environment objects, robots, etc

PLANETFALL
* teleport down to the surface of planet(s) you're orbiting
* discover abandoned bases, alien life, friendly or hostile sentients

HOLODECKS
* build vast zones that can reconfigure their geometry to provide different entertainment/educational scenarios
* citizen costumes for holodeck scenarios
* holodeck malfunctions:
** glitches that partially reconfigure the geometry of your base, eg "half your base is now a medieval castle"
** holo-actors can break free and wreak havok in your base, eg "cavemen and cowboys are attacking everyone"

"HISTORICAL SCENARIO" ADDON PACKS
* props, tiles, costumes for sandbox storytelling in famous sci fi settings: alien, star wars, 2001, etc

TIME TRAVEL
* events deemed timeline-critical by the IGTTC Armistice of 7978 cannot be changed without serious consequences. however, we are pretty sure time travel armistices are for babies.
The dev plans page now just says:
Spacebase’s 1.0 release will be its final major update. In addition to lots of bugfixing work, it will add the following features:

Tutorial Mode: Start with a basic pre-built base and learn the ropes via a series of tutorial messages.

Goals: Track and work towards various objectives, such as “Reach a population of 50 citizens” and “Research all technologies.”
The bright side is that the source code will be released, so the community, if so inclined, can pick up where Double Fine is to leave off.
 
Sep 27, 2009
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Yet another "town" building style game I bought during Early Access to support the devs because I liked the concept gets abandoned. yaaaaay
 
Dec 6, 2012
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So for those that bought it, are you happy with this decision? Is there enough content there now to jump in?

I love the look of it and the idea, but I wanted to wait until it was finished. Does it feel like a close to finished product?
 
Dec 13, 2006
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steverulez.co.uk
#5
I was going to buy it when it was 50% off recently but held off for some reason, really glad I did now

Yet another "town" building style game I bought during Early Access to support the devs because I liked the concept gets abandoned. yaaaaay
As someone who loves town building games is there anything I should look into? Played a lot of banished and tropico… always on the look out for something new though
 
Aug 14, 2012
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#6
Dat additional feature list.

Companies like Double Fine shouldn't even use Kickstarter in my opinion, but then going the way of some small garage developer who is either overwhelmed with the project or just doesn't want to carry on is indeed quite scummy.
 
Jan 28, 2013
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With Broken Age part 2, Grim Fandango HD, Massive Chalice and the various Amnesia Fortnight projects all in development, I suspect Double Fine may have stretched themselves a bit too much.
 
Mar 27, 2012
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Granted, the page does say

Nothing on this list is carved in stone, and we can’t promise any date for when it might go into the game. We may decide something isn’t worth it, or an idea may mutate into another thing entirely. We’re sharing this with you because we want to give an idea of where the game is headed!
So none of that is explicitly promised, more of a "we hope we can do these things". My bet is that it made very little in sales (as expected, it was priced very high for having little in the way of its concepts actually in the game) and the team was counting on every cent they could get for dev time. I don't like the way Double Fine's been doing things lately, but this may just simply be a case of development houses being development houses. The train has to end somewhere.
 
Oct 15, 2008
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#14
With this news and DF's recent output being on the extremely shady side I think I might just be done buying their games. Which is a shame given that I found Costume Quest to be very charming and fun and was going to buy the sequel. Time to remove Spacebase DF-9 from my wishlist.
 
#15
Granted, the page does say



So none of that is explicitly promised, more of a "we hope we can do these things". My bet is that it made very little in sales (as expected, it was priced very high for having little in the way of its concepts actually in the game) and the team was counting on every cent they could get for dev time. I don't like the way Double Fine's been doing things lately, but this may just simply be a case of development houses being development houses. The train has to end somewhere.
True. But when you have a list of 4-5 features, you can safely expect to have at least 2-3 of them. Here it's a list of like a hundred... and I personally expected to have at least 80% of what they were talking about.
Yeah. Ingenuous.
 
Jun 11, 2011
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#17
This one wasn't kickstarted. You're thinking of massive chalice which i think is coming along okay?
Oh I thought it was kickstarted, they still took money for it though....

I really dislike the kickstarter early access culture that has risen, I remember Double Fine taking loads of money over what they were asking for Broken Age then saying they need even more money to finish it and the game would be split into two parts.

I'm surprised Massive Chalice is on target.
 
Oct 30, 2004
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#20
This one wasn't kickstarted. You're thinking of massive chalice which i think is coming along okay?
"Early Access" is kind of like Kickstarting. I'm not going to say it's entirely the same, but they're putting it up early to generate operating revenue to continue development, usually. (Although sometimes they're just wanting to sell a game as soon as they possibly can.)

Edit: I'm sure a developer excuse could be "We wanted the feedback and input of the community as soon as possible so they can shape development," which sounds nice.
 
Nov 16, 2006
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#23
Looks like they ran out of money?

It's not my kind of game, but I saw the latest alpha release and thought it looked neat, well on its way to be an interesting entry in the genre. Shame that it looks like they won't be able to complete it to the specs of the original vision.
 
Feb 24, 2008
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#24
Well, what did you expect. They made KS in first place because they didn't have money. Still, it's a worrying use of early access, as it was supposed to be used for games in development that eventually get finished, not for games whose development is decided by the number of people who buy it in EA.
 
Feb 27, 2014
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This is precisely why I never buy anything marked as Early Access. I was watching sale prices for Spacebase DF-9 and almost made an exception for it solely because it came from Double Fine, but I'm glad I didn't. As a funding model it is proving to be a trap for players and developers alike.
 
Jul 24, 2013
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#26
Double Fine really needs a hit. None of their games make much money, so they have to always think about the business aspects of even smaller projects. Spacebase probably hasn't generated much revenue in early access, so it doesn't make a ton of sense to keep developing it much further. It absolutely sucks for gamers and for Double Fine's reputation, but you can't run a studio on no money.
 
May 22, 2012
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#28
They are also releasing full source code for modders. But I doubt anything great will come out of that because Spacebase doesn't have big enough community to support bigger mods that for example would add all those planned features they didn't implement.
 
Sep 27, 2009
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#31
I was going to buy it when it was 50% off recently but held off for some reason, really glad I did now



As someone who loves town building games is there anything I should look into? Played a lot of banished and tropico… always on the look out for something new though
Probably already played it but I loved Anno 1404 (not played the latest one that was future). Just a really nice, relaxed game with islands and ship trading and town building.

I've yet to pick up Banished for some weird reason. There was a reason but I can't remember what it was. I want to say I was waiting for a sale but I'm sure it's been on sale or something at least once?
 
Nov 5, 2010
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#34
Oh I thought it was kickstarted, they still took money for it though....

I really dislike the kickstarter early access culture that has risen, I remember Double Fine taking loads of money over what they were asking for Broken Age then saying they need even more money to finish it and the game would be split into two parts.

I'm surprised Massive Chalice is on target.
Probably related to who is running the project, making sure they hit milestones on time, avoiding feature creep, etc.
 
Oct 21, 2010
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#35
Did none of the promised features make it into the game? Can someone who is well acquainted with it's current state please point out which are the major things that are missing? It's one thing for a project to not follow a roadmap down to the letter, but if there really is a lot of content missing then this is very unfortunate and poor form from DF.
 
May 2, 2011
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#37
Granted, the page does say



So none of that is explicitly promised, more of a "we hope we can do these things". My bet is that it made very little in sales (as expected, it was priced very high for having little in the way of its concepts actually in the game) and the team was counting on every cent they could get for dev time. I don't like the way Double Fine's been doing things lately, but this may just simply be a case of development houses being development houses. The train has to end somewhere.
Anyone who's been in the business knows that it's not smart to do that.
 
Sep 14, 2013
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#38
So wait, early access doesn't guarantee that the product will come out? As in finalize?
How would early access guarantee that? Anything could happen. Technically this game isn't even left in an early access limbo, it's just that the final game isn't even close to what they're planning.

I do like them crunching from alpha to final release in one month, that's some dedication!
/s
 
Jun 15, 2007
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#39
Well that's Double Fine's last chance of getting early access dollars off me. Now the studio has a black mark against their name, I'll also think twice before buying any of their future products. Supporting their games obviously isn't a priority for them.
 
May 31, 2011
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#41
They are also releasing full source code for modders. But I doubt anything great will come out of that because Spacebase doesn't have big enough community to support bigger mods that for example would add all those planned features they didn't implement.
Out of curiosity, what haven't they implemented that they said they would?

I'm not saying I don't believe you or anything, but rather I'm just looking for some context of how "big" the things they left on the cutting room floor are.
 
Oct 20, 2011
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#42
Won't be buying anything early access from Double Fine any more, including projects they are loosely attached to like Gang Beasts.
Well that's Double Fine's last chance of getting early access dollars off me. Now the studio has a black mark against their name, I'll also think twice before buying any of their future products. Supporting their games obviously isn't a priority for them.
In the past they've done a fantastic job, look at Psychonauts. It's hard not to hold it against them.. but it should be seen with balance.
 
Sep 1, 2012
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#45
Wow, was actually considering buying it a while back but after I read a review which made it seem like they've basically stopped developing it I was scared off.
 
#47
How would early access guarantee that? Anything could happen. Technically this game isn't even left in an early access limbo, it's just that the final game isn't even close to what they're planning.

I do like them crunching from alpha to final release in one month, that's some dedication!
/s
Again, I don't know much of Early Access details. That's why I ask. If that's the case from what you explain, I don't see the beef. Besides the fact they can't continue support.
 
Sep 10, 2009
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#49
So wait, early access doesn't guarantee that the product will come out? As in finalize?
Nope. Most Kickstarter/Early Access games cannot ever properly guarantee anything, as they are not in a position where they can receive an emergency cash injection should they need it later on. If they run out of money or whatever, there's often nothing they can do except stop development.

People just need to be very wary of what they put money into and what they expect out of it when it comes to this stuff.
 
Aug 31, 2010
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#50
This is what happens when you have a gazillion games under development at the same time. They keep announcing new games, yet they can't finish the ones they are currently working on.

I got Broken Age during a STEAM sale, but I knew what was going on with that. I have Costume Quest 2 pre-ordered. I would have backed Massive Chalice, but I will wait for final release. I won't back or buy any Early Access games from Double Fine. I will buy fully developed games from them, though.