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UC Dev Status - Ship it or give it another month?

Supreme Cmdr

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I really want UC!!! But I want it to be perfect!!!!

Release it whenever you fee like it SC, regardless of the ramifications, for in the long run things will be better. YouÔÇÖll be more self-satisfied that way. You should always stick to your guns and follow your principles. ThatÔÇÖs who Derek Smart is.

"ItÔÇÖs ready when itÔÇÖs ready, and right now it aint ready."

If this is the general feeling you have for the game, then you should ship when all things are bug free. You want the game to be impressionable and you want the game to be flawless then make it so.

And personally, if I were you, I wouldn't want those old critics barking at me AGAIN for shipping a buggy game. I would try to break free from that silly reputation. Give them something they can't criticize sir!

And besides, I think you already know what the answer is sir. ItÔÇÖs pretty clear what you should do. You may regret giving into the developerÔÇÖs crowd and releasing for the holidays. Take the different path!!!

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SC, it's ready when it's ready, and you don't think it's ready. So stop the presses and keep on programming until you think it is.

It's your baby SC, and we want to see it off to a grand start.

Dreamcather may get upset, they may even get livid, but it's better that it be perfect then have to release a patch for it because of a major bug in the works.

It's ready when it's ready, and right now it ain't ready, so don't release it until it is!!

Besides, come January I should be able to afford to buy myself a copy or two!! LOL

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I've been playing Star Wars Galaxies (SWG) for the past couple of months and eagerly waiting for them to come out with the vehicle patch. They promised that they would deliver in the middle of December and you know what, they did ... bugs and all. Unfortunately, you can't store the vehicles half the time so walking through the cities now is like walking through a junk yard. Everyone is complaining about it and wondering why on earth they released this update when they knew about it in the Test Center.

I think it's best to wait until it's ready. Of course, all of us would understand because we know what goes on, but what about the casual gamer who looks at this and thinks, cool, let me try something new, and get's turned off by the problems? I've told a lot of people about Battlecruiser Millenium and they say things like, you know I bought that a few years ago and it kept crashing, so I tell them that there's an update available that will make it run correctly, their answer is, "well it should have worked out of the box" They don't take into consideration that the PC market is fragmented with everyone having different Hardware. When you think about it, it's a wonder PC's work at all with all the parts coming from different company's all over the world, but the point is, make sure it's Stable, Reasonably bug free, and that it has a polished, finished look and feel. Then and only then should it be shipped, otherwise we risk alienating even more gamers from this genre.

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SC your the developer so its your choice when it'll be ready, and if I remember correctly this used to be under the release date in UC


It'll be ready when its ready, and right now it ain't ready

I always got a kick out of seeing that listed

Anywho, just take a look at the results sir

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Couldn't be said better than this:


Originally posted by Jaguar:

SC, it's ready when it's ready, and you don't think it's ready. So stop the presses and keep on programming until you think it is.

Personally I don't have the time to play games as much as I used to. Therefore it's more important for me to have games that are as bug free as possible. I don't want to download a patch every time I have the time to play.

From a financial view, my best guess is that time is money (as in my own line of work). Meaning:

1. You have to deliver the product within the time limit no matter how many faults with the product. The reason being of course that the concequenses are too big if you don't. But as you said yourself, the product is yours to do with as you want - a least with regards to time limits.

2. The longer you use to produce, the more it costs (simplified). If you won't get paid for the extended production time(either by selling more or turning the price up per unit), you should just "finnish" the game with all the faults the game has. But as you said youself, you have to think about the future of your company as well - maybe you'll end up with a lot of unhappy customers that won't buy your future games.

3. I'm sure there are more, but I'm starting to rant so I'll stop.

Considering both aspects (my personal and the financial) I think it would be best to wait with the release until the game is ready.

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I really apreciate that a developer ask this kind of question to his fans and core players.

As the majority of us I'm for the month of waiting..... "It's ready when it's ready...".... I can wait for a better game.

Just my humble opinion....

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My vote: SHIP IT.

I have only recently joined this forum, but I have been playing BCM and BCMG for quite some time. I greatly appreciate your commitment to quality, but I am eagerly anticipating the release of this game. Downloading patches is commonplace in the industry, every major game requires them, and people have come to expect it. Afterall, with a program as complex and intricate as UC will be, it would be miraculous if it was released error free. Not to be negative, but I imagine that even if you fix all of the issues outlined in the RC version control file, I am sure that it is likely that other issues exist that currently remain undetected and will require patching anyways. I am not questioning your team's skills (which are great), it's just a question of probability with a project this size, as I'm sure you know well. I am for shipping it now as is, patching it later. Take advantage of a holiday release for your company, and whet our appetites. Thanks for asking.

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Fire that puppy off. The issues listed are not a huge deal, and a patch within a couple of weeks of release can clear those right up.

No reasonable person expects software to be perfect; it's too complex a system designed by imperfect humans. A couple of other things to consider:

1) For SC this is a business, not a game. He's in it to make money. To lose the extra holiday sales would not be a smart business decision.

2) The existing bugs are not likely to turn off the kind of player that plays these games. We will adapt and overcome!

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I voted release it now because those items don't seem like they would really affect gameplay too much. I personally don't mind patches.

But it's not my name on the box and I can understand the desire to release it in the best shape possible. It won't bother me to wait, but I can definitely live with those bugs.

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As a (admittedly smaller) developer myself, I understand this conundrum quite well. Release with a few small issues and get more sales at Christmas time, or keep it until its "perfect". At this point, it's really your decision to make.

You have to weigh: getting the game out sooner (more holiday revenue=money), versus releasing it later and slightly more polished (and losing possible X-mas money and causing much publisher annoyance). It's the years old PC developer quandry.

Reading the latest VC file, only 4 and 5 would qualify as more than very minor for me, so for me it would be "ship it". Those are things that aren't gamekillers, and wouldn't excessively hurt the experience. But I think many here would understand if you wanted to hold it a little longer.

But as a programmer, I also understand the drive for perfection (I kept my own publisher, Shrapnel, waiting until the waning hours until I got my latest product "just right" for Gold status, even possibly keeping it from being released in time for Christmas, so believe me, I understand your position almost too well ).

Congrats on your product by the way. Looks very interesting.

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This is a quick update. Its not looking good and DC have advised that the game is going to replication tomorrow, with or without the RC2 build. This was after I told them this morning that we should probably delay the game until January.

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Don't sweat it SC. Sounds like the game is 99.999% ready to go anyhow and I don't see any of the issues as show stoppers.

I'm looking forward to playing it with or without the fixes!

As for any "negative press" that might result from this, I think you know as well as I do that it is unfortunately "hip" to bash the franchise. Regardless of the state of the game at release there will be plenty of people waiting to slam it no matter what.

My advice? Take a break (I know you could use one), enjoy the Holidays and release the patch when it's done. No one (that matters) will be any worse for the wear.

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I'd be willing to wait (heh, it'd be easier on my pocket book this month ) The thing is the bugs left in it aren't bad, but when you read game review sites the kind of bugs that are left are the kind that usually count for demerits. I could see items 2, 3 and 5 getting dinged for that. And when "to buy, or not to buy, that is the question!" is asked of oneself about a game you know nothing of, a trusted game review site's opinion can be the decisive factor.

On the other hand, maybe that'd be offset by "honesty merits" for acknowledging them?

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Guest Rycherd

Personally, I would probaly have been happy with it a month ago ( woohoo,new stuff from SC! )but I voted to hold back til January.While I don't think the stuff in the VCF would be that big a deal for me, mathimatically speaking there is someone out there just waiting to bash UC just because it's a Derek Smart Simulation.And if the worst thing this person could whine about is "The sky on Earth isn't the right shade of blue"... well, too bad for him

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Originally posted by IceBladeTSW:

people, people, stop voicing your opinion. Didn't you here what Derek said. DC said they are shipping the game today, with or without the RC2 patch. Theres no more discussion to be made.

I saw where Derek said what DC said to him, but I'm going on the statement in the other thread that it's not Gold until Derek say's it's gold, so it's still fair game (IMHO). I was fence sitting on this issue; as bad as I want it and as much as I feel that the outstanding issues are not that big (and I probably won't get to them before the patch is ready), I also didn't put most of my adult life into this and so respect the desire to make it just so.

So what am I saying? Release it when you feel it's ready, Derek, assuming DC doesn't wretch the code from your cold dead hands.

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Here is a little Gamespot Article about the situation. Seems a little propagandist.

Also, as Quoted by SC:


This is a quick update. Its not looking good and DC have advised that the game is going to replication tomorrow, with or without the RC2 build. This was after I told them this morning that we should probably delay the game until January.

I gather from this statement that IceBladeTSW may be correct, and the vote is now moot?

Either way, this game is obviously eagerly anticipated by many, and I am sure neither SC nor DC need to worry, even if it does ship early with bugs. They all do. I for one can't wait to play this game.

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Originally posted by zardalu:

Here is a little
Gamespot Article
about the situation. Seems a little propagandist.

Well, its the media. What do you expect?

The situation is very simple. Yesterday morning DC sent me a rather terse email indicating that they were going Gold with the build they had (the RC1 build) this morning and that I should send along the RC2 patch.

Well, this struck me as funny considering the following issues.

  1. ALL the builds have a DRM signature which expires. Those of you who have Beta tested for us, know this already and has been the norm for all my products going back to BCM.
  2. The RC1 build has several problems (see the VCF file in my first post in this thread) which I was working to address (ala the RC2) build and was going to submit to them prior to my departure for a pre-planned vacation with my family.
  3. The RC1 build does not contain ANY of the final scenarios because - as noted in the VCF - I didn't change the path to the final SCENARIOS.ZIP file when I updated the Installshield (ISX) installer for the RC1 build. All previous builds prior to RC1 (Release Candidate) were Beta and stored on a different folder on my NAS (Network Attached Storage) HDD.
  4. Also, the RC1 build is pointing to the incorrect mp executable as indicated in the VCF.
  5. They don't have the SafeDisc license for the game. I do (as I did for BCM and BCM Gold). As such, I'm the only one who can disable my own DRM, encode the EXE for SafeDisc encoding and burn a GM for manufacturing.

So, they were either (a) bluffing or (B) trying to get me to panic and send them RC2 so that they could go Gold today with it; thereby bypassing my desire to defer the game to January in order to finish cleanup and fix/address any of the four issues listed in the VCF and to address some instability* issues they claimed to be experiencing going back to the last Beta submitted in November.

I am not particularly PISSED that they are DESPERATE to ship the damn game, I am pissed that they would even consider shipping the RC1 build, knowing FULLY well that it would (1) be illegal (2) put unsuspecting gamers at odds with me (3) leave me open to a potential lawsuit

The problem is that I gave them indemnification in the contract against any/all claims etc etc. So, if they ship RC1 and a class action lawsuit ensures (when the DRM expiration causes the game to stop working), I could be held liable. Not to mention the fact that they would be shipping a build (RC1) with KNOWN fatal problems, expecting me to make the RC2 patch available post ship.

As it stands, I've ceased all communications with them and the attorneys are now handling the matter. Yesterday after speaking with them, my attorney called me up and pleaded with me to get them a GM based on the RC2 build, in order to avert any unpleasantness so that we can move on. They want it by tomorrow or else.

I gave DC the follow options yesterday morning in order to get more time to finish up the remaining issues in the game. They ignored me, but instead sent me the email that they were going Gold today with the version they had.


Here are your choices

We hold off, go on vacation and schedule to go GM on 01/31/04. As you

know, I am on vacation between 12-22-03 and 01-06-04 and I will not be

doing any programming during this time. For this...

1. We hold off the release and I take a royalty percentage cut in

exchange for the added time and with a further % cut for each week

past the agreed upon 01-31-04 GM date that the game is not ready.

2. I give DC the rights to the UC add-on (as already proposed) and with NO royalties

on that product. I would simply take a one time dev fee. Since this product is mostly

content with NO added technology additions (and no space component), it could be

hammered out in 6-8 months depending on the number of content providers

we throw at it. And in addition, since DC is familiar with my technologies

and gameplay, I would consider the submission of a game design proposal and

my team will design the game along those lines and as agreed in the contract.

e.g. if you guys want a pure shooter (e.g. like Novalogic's Joint Operations),

you tell me what you want, how you want it and as long as it is within the

scope of my technologies, we'll do it. All you do is pay a monthly bill for

the development and a fee on delivery of the GM. No royalties.

3. I refund DC's expenses to date (as I've already said, I can raise the money

quite easily) and be allowed to buy back all licensing and sub-licensing

rights DC has outstanding, including those done through DC Europe.

4. I be allowed to sell the rights to another publisher (again, this is something I can

do quite easily and without much effort actually). This would allow DC to recoup its

expenditures, production costs (since the box, manual etc are already done) and possibly

turn a little profit. Naturally, the required amount would have to be mutually agreed upon.

Look, I know that I'm an eccentric and difficult (at times) individual, but

I'm a damn good developer, I'm loyal, dedicated to my work and fanbase and most of all,

I believe in my products. We would be better served to not ship this game with known

issues - especially if the stability issues (which I'm not getting) which Mike and

crew have reported last month, are still evident in the game. If DC is strapped for cash

and *has* to ship this game, then I would like to help raise that cash by either buying

back the rights or selling it to another publisher. Whatever the case may be, I'd like

to help, especially considering that we signed this contract in December '02 and it

has really taken less than a year of DC's involvment to get a game of this quality and


I urge you to please think about this carefully and consider the consequences of the alternative.

I subsequently got this based on an earlier query


Derek ? I?m told that there are no major stability issues that would prevent us from calling our current build gold. Again, with that in mind, any updates that you care to send to us today would be appreciated.

Thats how things stand. I barely slept last night, as visions of the 1996 Take2 fiasco kept interupting my sleep. Here is a publisher who signed TWO products in December 02. Shipped the first one on schedule in March 03 - MADE MONEY FROM IT. Then have a game like this [uC] after less than a year (where other publishers spend millions and wait more than three years with baited breath) and two years of my time and a significant portion of my own finances. Then - in MID BETA - decide to switch the game's focus from BCG to UC, added 2+ months of additional development time, then are trying to rush an incorrect build into the retail channel in order to meet Christmas.

For our part, we missed the first late Summer ship date due to the BCG to UC switch. That one had nothing to do with me. I could simply have said no, I'm not refocussing the game, piss off, but didn't. The 11/10/03 GM date was missed because of the pending issues, some of which you see in the VCF, the majority of which have been addressed.

And today, I've told them that I'm not sending them sh*t until they put my contractual compliance waiver into escrow as they agreed with my attorney yesterday. I have fulfilled EVERY aspect of my contract with DC, now they want to screw me in the interest of cashing in on a ship period simple because, knowing their financial outlay on this game, they simply CANNOT lose ANY money on this game if they shipped it today, tommorrow or next year.

Painkiller which is also delayed, got pushed into March 2004. That long in development water racing game (from Firetoad) was canned etc. They didn't shove those games into the channel. Why? Probably because they own the IPs. I own my IPs and so they don't give a toss what they do once they ship my games. It is MY game they are relying on to get out of whatever Q4 mess they're in. Yet, I'm the person they want to piss off and leave open to a lawsuit.

Whats funnier is that yesterday I had considered shipping the RC2 build as GM, contrary to the poll stats, only because I realize how desperate they were to book this game. But no, rather than come and discuss it with me, they send me notification like this. This was after I had sent them the email about with the various options.



Mike is away today. Please send whatever patches by both FEDEX and by FTP. Replication starts tomorrow morning.

And Mike is the QA manager and the first person to tell me - on MSN no less - the day before, that they were going Gold. To wit


[11:30] Clockwork Mike: hi derek u there?

[11:31] Derek Smart: yeah, on my PDA and stuck in traffic. whats up?

[11:31] Clockwork Mike: do u have that patch to send me which completes all the missions?

[11:32] Derek Smart: you mean my current build? yeah, but I was waiting to get feedback about the RC1 before I built a new patch. The new patch for your version will only contain a new executable, the scenarios.zip file (with the final missions) and some updated docs.

[11:33] Derek Smart: well??

[11:33] Derek Smart: Mike, hurry up, because this signal will drop at any time, I'm on a WiFi connection!

[11:34] Derek Smart: ok, screw it, I'm gone. Send email

[11:34] Clockwork Mike: the build looks great and we will be declaring gold today, but do you want to send a patch before we do.

[11:34] Derek Smart: declaring Gold today? Have you folks been drinking??

Frigging publishers

Why oh why do they do this? Why did'nt I have this problem with Interplay; who also had to wait for BC3K 2.0x, which was delivered and shipped on time? Why didn't I have this problem with EB? Who also had to wait eight months for BCM, which was delivered and shipped as scheduled?

[ 12-19-2003, 12:17 PM: Message edited by: Supreme Cmdr ]

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WOW. Thanks for the insight.

So the holiday season is missed. It sounds like the retail order mentioned is lost. Those 2 deals are sunk. Given that, why the rush to replicate now? Sounds like there is more than we know. Like perhaps that "retail order" is tiered, i.e. it gets worse (reduced furthur?) if its not fulfilled at some other future date (in lieu of missing the holiday).

Good luck in whatever you do SC. We as fans can only do what we do best. Game on when its eventually released!

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