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Ascension Online: a Bad Taste in My Mouth

In case you missed the news, SBE released this a few hours ago and sent out a similar email to the backers of Ascension Online, which is both surprising and not at all at the same time. Overall, I’m somewhat conflicted, although the most definitive emotion is just a bad taste in my mouth.  I figure this makes a pretty good topic for a post so let’s dive into it.

First some background, Ascension comes out, IOS app developed by Playdek comes out, massive hit. SBE announces new game of Solforge, does a kickstarter, succeeds, stuff happens for that and it was more or less on track. SBE does another kickstarter, this time to bring Ascension in house digitally cause Playdek can’t/won’t give it the kind of support they want. That kickstarter is succesful. Fast forward to December and we get…a beta. A kinda shoddy beta that only has the first two sets in it. Fast forward another three months and we get some form of online play that is again kinda shoddy. And then we get to now, wherein we find out that this entire experiment has been mostly pointless as they’re back to working with Playdek. Also before continuing, I just want to be clear that I don’t really have much skin in this given how low I backed.

Regardless of anything else this leaves a bad taste in my mouth for one simple reason. It’s an example of a Kickstarter failing. Sure, they’re doing what they can to salvage it, which isn’t nothing. That doesn’t change the fact that this Kickstarter was largely pointless. While I”m certainly happy to finally have a PC version, and there are no doubt people who feel the same way about an Android version.

When you look past the fact that this is a salvaged Kickstarter to the means of it, then the bad taste really sets in. What changed? Should we actually be expecting any of the stuff in the Kickstarter beyond the rewards, the stuff that SBE wanted to do with Ascension but Playdek didn’t? Not to mention that since then Playdek’s portfolio has grown and they’re set to start working on Twilight Struggle(Depending on when you read this you may still have time to back it on Kickstarter, it seems pretty sweet and offers some nice value). These are all fair questions that really do deserve to be answered. The announcement of Rise of Vigil coming out sometime this summer and a PC client in October really don’t answer these questions, at all.

This in conjunction with the technical problems they had with Solforge(the backer’s only tournament and the dearth of anything from August to December of last year come to mind. Although on the flip side, the smooth release of stuff since Rise and a patch that didn’t cause any problems are things to praise as progress.) raises the question of whether they should have done this at all.  It’s frustrating to have these kind of problems happen repeatedly.

This frustration isn’t just a matter of unfulfilled promises and a less than professional conduct; although to be clear that is part of it. The bigger part of it is that I hate that SBE of all companies is doing this. It’s a company that I like, by and large I find their games to be fun and have served as a medium for me to build friendship with more than one person.  I want them to do well and improve. I want this whole situation to be resolved in the best possible way. It’s at the same time that because I care that I feel compelled to write stuff like this. So come on, don’t make me feel like a chump, work this out satisfactorily.

 

 

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