Towns Developer Officially Abandons The Game

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Towns Developer Officially Abandons The Game

towns screenshot

Towns is officially dead.

Anyone who's kept an eye on the Steam indie scene would have no doubt heard of the cautionary tale of Towns, one of the very first Steam Greenlight approved games. Towns hit Steam long before all this early-access jazz started, so customers were understandably upset to discover that the game was essentially a "paid beta". The developers have done little to fix the game's most glaring problems in the two years since its release, and now, it looks like they are simply jumping ship.

"I hope you are not too disappointed," wrote developer Florian Frankenberger on the official forums, announcing that the latest Towns update would be its last one, "And if you are: I'm really sorry. I'm quite new to indie game dev and I couldn't really see that the game sales were declining that rapidly. I guess if I had more experience I would have seen it comming ..."

Frankenberger said that the decision was made almost purely for monetary reasons - Towns sales have dropped considerably since it's launch in 2012 (as is the case with most videogames...) and it simply wasn't worth it for him to continue its development. "I have to pay for the rent and food and this doesn't really suffice for any of it :("

However, he did have one final piece of "good" news for the dedicated Towns fanbase, namely, that a "Towns2" may be possible. "Xavi and I were talking about a possible Towns2. At the moment this is just in an idea stage and we can't really say if he, I or eventually Ben have the time to create a Towns2. As faithful fans of Towns we would of course reward you in some way, when/if the new game is released."

"I want to end this post by thanking you for reading this and for all your support in these two months. Again I'm sorry that we had to pull the plug right here, but I sincerely hope you can understand why we had to make that decision right now."

What do you think? Did you play Towns? Is it fair for the team to abandon the project, or do you feel that they owe it to their fanbase to "fix" it first?

Source: Towns Forums

Permalink

Well duh. The dev's wife got cancer and that bankrupted him. This was before early access was put in, so he had to release it early to get enough money or lose everything.

The bad press then destroyed Town's popularity and the sales plummeted. So he can't work on it while also dealing with his medical bills.

Its a clusterfuck. If early access came earlier, he might not have been in this position. He would have labeled the game as incomplete and he wouldn't have taken the reputation hit. It would be honest. Sadly, I don't think he could have waited.

As for the game. its not that bad. You should wait for a sale unless you are a die hard dwarf fortress fanatic that buys any game like it.

I buy them, even when DF is free, because I want to support games like this so that it may become a full blown genre like MOBAs and survival games. Which is why I want to get clockwork empires when it launches, even if it goes on sale later.

Quite frankly, I never got what all the huff regarding towns was about. I thought It was a neat little base building game.

Though I have only played the game for about ten hours. But then again, it is a ten-buck-game. I really don't get what all the rage was about.

Well duh. The dev's wife got cancer and that bankrupted him.

Ah.

Is that true? Because if so, that really shuts up my initial snarky comment.

Dragonlayer:

Well duh. The dev's wife got cancer and that bankrupted him.

Ah.

Is that true? Because if so, that really shuts up my initial snarky comment.

yeah, its on the steam forums. In the game abandoned topic.

His wife's illness did nothing to stop the wave of trolls from harassing him though. Poor guy. He can't catch a break.

Everything that led to this was a series of unfortunate events. Early access coming too late, forcing him to call it "done." His wife getting cancer. Steam forums being awful, and spreading bad things about his game so his wife might be in trouble if the games sales reached too low.

and they did.

He claims his wife really did get cancer, but given how dishonest Xavi has been in other respects, I'd take that with a pinch of salt.

OT: I had Towns long before it was on Greenlight and while I can understand peoples frustrations over this I personally got a couple hundred hours out of that game easy. Even as is it is alright to play and there are some great modders out there who have added a good number of features neglected by the Devs. Still doesn't excuse this behaviour from them though.

Towns 2? Sorry guys, not going to happen. First impressions last a lifetime and your debut was all told a complete shambles, I may have got more than my moneys worth buying it years ago for 7 bucks, but those post Greenlight aren't likely to forgive you or trust you again, and who can blame them?

Ultratwinkie:

Dragonlayer:

Well duh. The dev's wife got cancer and that bankrupted him.

Ah.

Is that true? Because if so, that really shuts up my initial snarky comment.

yeah, its on the steam forums. In the game abandoned topic.

His wife's illness did nothing to stop the wave of trolls from harassing him though. Poor guy. He can't catch a break.

Everything that led to this was a series of unfortunate events. Early access coming too late, forcing him to call it "done." His wife getting cancer. Steam forums being awful, and spreading bad things about his game so his wife might be in trouble if the games sales reached too low.

and they did.

Well feth, to make one hell of an understatement - I can't exactly get worked up about this if the poor guy was dealing with the substantially more important issue of his wife having bloody cancer.

Well I'm pretty disappointed. Luckily the purchase is less of a disappointment than some other games.
I found a bunch of fun in Towns when I played it but I don't see myself getting behind Towns 2.

Theres zero mention of the cancer issue on their own forums, are you sure the Steam source was accurate? The userbase on the Towns forum seem very vitriolic and are happily pinning the blame on Xavi and not the dev who's actually posted the announcement.

Its a shame because I quite like the concept of Towns from what I've read, just never got round to trying it out. Not much point now I guess.

If you're gonna put it out there for people to buy, you need to be within full capability of finishing the project. Family crisis like that is awful and sad but if this project couldn't have been finished in two years after it went live to buy it still feels kind of like a load of shit.

I think the thing that really galls me about it is the whole Towns2 comment in that. What? Fuck you dude, if you're going to get back to developing after this crisis, you owe it to the people who paid your way for two years patiently awaiting your finished product to at least satisfactorily complete that project first. They already paid you for a finished game, now please give it to them.

This is why I stopped partaking in this paid beta/early access thing. You're paying full price for a game that may never actually see the finish line. The more ambitious the project, the less likely it'll see the light of day. These devs don't need early access to drip feed them through the development process, they need to reduce the scope of their first projects so they can be finished before they come out.

Again, it's a terrible thing that this guy's wife got cancer. What he's at fault for is teeing this situation up, subsisting on what amounts to peoples' charity for two years since they won't see the finished game, and then threading his resignation letter to his patrons with a "oh, but there'll be a sequel!" line. That's where I take issue.

Fasckira:
Theres zero mention of the cancer issue on their own forums, are you sure the Steam source was accurate? The userbase on the Towns forum seem very vitriolic and are happily pinning the blame on Xavi and not the dev who's actually posted the announcement.

Its a shame because I quite like the concept of Towns from what I've read, just never got round to trying it out. Not much point now I guess.

Yeah, Xavi posted about it. It was all over steam since launch.

And if you want something like towns, you can try Clockwork Empires, maia, rimworld, banished, a game of dwarves, foresaken fortress, and gnomoria. Gnomoria is the closest. I keep tabs of all Dwarf Fortress like games. There was another one with colorful aliens but their name escapes me.

Why would he go off and make a sequel rather than finish the first game? If sales are low then do some marketing, release a big update/expansion/DLC, ask fans to spread the word, have a discount for a while. Just dropping the game isn't going to give people much confidence in your next project. It's almost as bad as big publishers holding sequels to ransom by saying they need good sales of [insert game here] to show there is a market for it (I'm looking at you Ubisoft).

If they abandon it they should make it open source. No doubt a single super talented fan will bring out an update that fixes EVERYTHING within 24 hours. Remember that this happened with Dark Souls on PC, and that wasn't even free of massive copyright strings and a fully 3D complex "AAA" game... !

I never got the reason behind towns.
The basic idea behind seems to be "Dwarf Fortress with graphics", but there are a lot of DF tilesets out there, most of which look better than towns graphics.
And since it's so "new" it doesn't have as much content as Df.
This actually reminds how amazing the fact is that the Dev for DF can survive, not even by selling the game, but only by accepting donations from people.

This is the flipside to game development being so much more accessible, without a publisher there's not actually anyone forcing a developer to finish a game. Even the Early Access system on Steam doesn't seem to force the developers to have any sort of release deadline or plan, so there doesn't seem to be much stopping a dev from slapping Early Access on game and letting the money roll in till bad press stops it. However, with the recent takedown of that 2066 scam game, there's some hope that Valve might take a more active role in policing this kind of thing.

At least he was open and honest about it, rather than obfuscate the truth or flat out lie like many developers these days.

CriticalMiss:
Why would he go off and make a sequel rather than finish the first game? If sales are low then do some marketing, release a big update/expansion/DLC, ask fans to spread the word, have a discount for a while. Just dropping the game isn't going to give people much confidence in your next project. It's almost as bad as big publishers holding sequels to ransom by saying they need good sales of [insert game here] to show there is a market for it (I'm looking at you Ubisoft).

I don't think it's really as bad as when big game companies do things like that seeing as how for him it's pretty do or die at the moment and a big rework for the game two-three years down the line really isn't going to cut it to make it an actually popular game. For them it's just trying to make a bit more cash, for him it's trying to continue his career after having to leave it for a bit because his wife got cancer and his first ever published work isn't enough to pay the bills 2 years down the road.

honestly if it came down to paying for someones cancer treatment and a few thousand kids having to deal with the fact that their five dollar several year old game is a bit buggy or 'incomplete' I would side with the former 10/10.

Maybe I am watching too much Jim Sterling, But why do I get the feeling that "reward" Town 1 players will translate into pre-order bonuses. And equally, while his wife (possibly had cancer) it doesn't change the fact that the customer base was unhappy with the game and it did not meet promised standards as a product. I buy your game, not a share in your personal life. I am starting to see a worrying trend of kickstarters being halted because "I did not anticipate/expect/lack experience." And just throw up their hands and give up. It's inherent in the whole Kickstarter system. I can just see it being a REAL problem in the next few years. People need to stop seeing lack of foresight, vision, quality control and management as AAA game problems and see them for what they are: business problems. And when you are investing in a game, you need to invest in more than the concept art. This argument has been made to death in early access stuff and will be made again and again as games crumble. Not everyone is cut out to be a developer. Same way in movies, not everyone can direct and not everyone was born to play hamlet.

Ultratwinkie:
Clockwork Empires, maia, rimworld, banished, a game of dwarves, foresaken fortress, and gnomoria. Gnomoria is the closest.

I've had my eye on Clockwork Empires for some time, cant wait for it to come out (love a bit of Cthulhu goodness!). Will check out the others you've mentioned though, thank you for that.

EDITH:

Just read the thing about his wifes cancer.. guess he gets a free pass.

But this shows just how problematic early access and paid beta releases are in the end. After a while the sales dry up.. the market is satiated.. and the game is still only half way done or worse.

No incentive to keep working on the game.

Okay seriously. You don;'t finish Towns , leave a lot of disappointed fans.. and customers but you have the stones to start talking about Towns 2? Yeah...your track record as a Dev isn't very good sonny and I think you're underestimating the memory of the gaming community.

Granted, I understand that personal life troubles have more or less put things out of joint financially but I can't help but think that maybe this was also a case of the devs biting off more than they could chew. and now basically spitting in their own drink. YOu're now the devs that will be known for abandoning their own game before it was finished.

That's like being the chef at a fast food joint where everyone got salmonella...

Lessee...I got 36 hours out of Towns before I decided to wait for updates to make the game more 'complete'...though that means I got 36 hours of enjoyment out of it. I can't be too upset, really, and while I hadn't heard about the cancer thing (I just checked for updates on the main steam page for it) I can see that devastating both the resources and drive to work @_@.

Ultratwinkie:
And if you want something like towns, you can try Clockwork Empires, maia, rimworld, banished, a game of dwarves, foresaken fortress, and gnomoria. Gnomoria is the closest. I keep tabs of all Dwarf Fortress like games. There was another one with colorful aliens but their name escapes me.

I think "Unclaimed World" is the other one. I'm keeping an eye on most of them.

I'm another "Towns" player that got hundreds of hours out of it. I've seen a bunch of anger over on the Steam forums, but I'm still unclear what people were expecting from the game that provokes so much fury. Once "Gnomoria" came out I barely looked back at "Towns", and now it's apparent that "Gnomoria" is never going to get particularly interesting I'm looking for something else. "Clockwork Empires" certainly looks intriguing, as does Rimworld.

EDIT: And I just noticed that "Spacebase DF9" is 40% off on Steam for a few more hours. It's the base builder in space from Double Fine.

Well, I am not totally unsympathetic to their situation, but the devs have definitely sold their reputation for getting cash in hand faster from the product.

I am sorry for the situation, as a hobby game developer in re-training (released a title, wasn't good , wasn't really noticed and vanished in the mire of vapid shovelware...where it belonged to be honest :P) I can even understand it BUT in the end the devs issues should not be the customers problem so they do deserve the flack unfortunately.

One thing I do understand is they had a chance to show off to the public, had the exposure that many, many indies would kill to get, and blew it basically.

... and to even mention a sequel after abandoning a title they sold, that's just playing Russian roulette with a Desert Eagle... and equally messy as far as reputation is concerned.

Which features didn't they deliver on ASnogarD?

It would probably help the discussion if people understood how the devlopers let their customers down. As I said, I played the game a lot way back in the early alpha and it was perfectly playable back then, but the devs must have done something to make people angry.

Speaking of reputations. I got an email from Keen Software saying that "Space Engineers" had over half a million sales on Steam Early Access - which is a miracle after Mine Wars 2081. I managed to get a free Space Engineers key on the back of the Miner Wars MMO which will probably never happen, though they say they're still working on it.

I've not heard of the game up on till this very moment but after reading its description it sounds like a great concept // Pity it is now gone, gone forever, never to be see or heard from again . . .oh wait, Towns2

-M

dadioflex:
Which features didn't they deliver on ASnogarD?

It would probably help the discussion if people understood how the devlopers let their customers down. As I said, I played the game a lot way back in the early alpha and it was perfectly playable back then, but the devs must have done something to make people angry.

Speaking of reputations. I got an email from Keen Software saying that "Space Engineers" had over half a million sales on Steam Early Access - which is a miracle after Mine Wars 2081. I managed to get a free Space Engineers key on the back of the Miner Wars MMO which will probably never happen, though they say they're still working on it.

The term abandoned heavily implies incomplete and lacking but not going to be completed.

Either the Escapists news is lying and reporting a complete title as abandoned, or it is indeed incomplete and lacking.
A title that is playable but not complete and is abandoned is still dishonest.

If all the promised features was accounted for , either implemented or an account given as to why the feature was removed then the game would be complete and no need to apologise for abandoning the title... see Terraria , it was done and complete yet the developer still got accused of abandoning yet that wasnt reported as the case.

Minecraft was playable, and I got hours of fun out of it before it even got features like the end game or villagers... yet if Notch had suddenly tweeted that he is abandoning the game before it got to ver 1, there would of been a huge outcry.

A lot of fans, and gamers can tolerate a lot if they are in the belief a title is still being developed... look at Kerbal Space Program... it has issues all over the place and can cause hours of time to be wasted by some silly little bug yet players happily carry on... in the belief it will be a complete title when its done.
Alpha is alpha, until its abandoned.

Ultratwinkie:
Well duh. The dev's wife got cancer and that bankrupted him. This was before early access was put in, so he had to release it early to get enough money or lose everything.

The bad press then destroyed Town's popularity and the sales plummeted. So he can't work on it while also dealing with his medical bills.

Its a clusterfuck. If early access came earlier, he might not have been in this position. He would have labeled the game as incomplete and he wouldn't have taken the reputation hit. It would be honest. Sadly, I don't think he could have waited.

As for the game. its not that bad. You should wait for a sale unless you are a die hard dwarf fortress fanatic that buys any game like it.

I buy them, even when DF is free, because I want to support games like this so that it may become a full blown genre like MOBAs and survival games. Which is why I want to get clockwork empires when it launches, even if it goes on sale later.

i was going to talk shit about the dev but, holy fuck is that depressing

i guess its very easy to forget developers have lives too, and i dont mean it in the "social life" way, they are human beings and well, the guy might have legitimately wanted to finish the game but, hell, fate wouldnt allow it

I..

That wife business if true, is very sad and whatnot. But I am still kinda pissy. I regret buying this game now. I am gonna try and get a refund and buy Banished or something.

It was exactly the same cas with the game "Stardrive"... I'm never gonna buy early acess again.

I've had quite a bit of fun with Towns and I don't regret the purchase, but it has made me a bit more cautious before buying into any "early access" games. I would consider buying Towns 2, but it would likely have to be completed before I paid.

I support early access, but never buy on promise of good things to come alone. I'll only buy if I KNOW I'll get a game's worth of fun out of it. For instance, I'd been keeping an eye on Space Engineers for the longest time, but never bought it because I didn't have much interest in just building some ships and crashing them into each other. But since they added a survival mode in a recent update, I decided to put down the money for a copy. I knew from the footage I'd seen that I'd like it and thus get my money's worth out of it.

Someone should sue the hell out of this guy. This is the exact reason I don't buy Greenlight games, once someone has your money for a promise of completing the game the only reason they have to finish the game is the risk of lawsuit.

ASnogarD:

If all the promised features was accounted for , either implemented or an account given as to why the feature was removed then the game would be complete and no need to apologise for abandoning the title... see Terraria , it was done and complete yet the developer still got accused of abandoning yet that wasnt reported as the case.

The accusations with Terraria came about because they claimed the game was finished for the PC but then had plans to release console versions with extra content not available on the PC version.

This is a sad, sad thing for a multitude of reasons. There's a serious illness, a game gets abandoned -- just lots of crap all over the place. My take is that yeah, it's 100% sucktastic that the game won't be 'finished', but I don't begrudge the guy at all for talking away from a mostly thankless, low-income, many hour situation to pursue something more lucrative to help with his wife. More over, I can understand how something like your wife getting cancer can make it hard to focus on work, get things out the door, etc. it's not like developing and launching software is easy ... at all. If it were, everyone would do it.

All said and done, I think it was fine he was thinking about Towns2, probably not the best move to mention it while announcing the death of your first game. Rookie mistake there. From my perspective with the "gamer's have a long memory...", Gamers talk a big game (ha! pun!) but rarely follow through with threats of "never buying from X developer again." If he does decide to do it, people will bring up this situation and make a big fuss about it.

And lots of people will still buy the game. Such is the way of things.

I also don't see this as having a chilling effect -- rather just an educational effect on early access/paid betas, etc. There's nothing wrong with offering that, and crowdsourcing is a great way to give an opportunity to create games that otherwise wouldn't get made. There's always an expectation that the developer will deliver on their promises, and there always should be. But I think gamers need to remember that in situations like this, you are always taking a risk. Always. It's the responsibility of the player to be educated about what you are putting money into.

For myself, I have a checklist of things to have to be in place before I'll 'invest' in a game that's not completed. Are there assets readily available for review? Has work already started on the game? Is the website well done? Is the developer active on blog and social media? Is there a clear path of progression between when I invest and when the game is slated to launch? I've passed on games because as cool as they looked, they didn't meet all of these things, and I passed on them. Other games, Star Citizen, TUG, Landmark -- they met everything I wanted them to, so I invested.

Even then, nothing is guaranteed. A game could meet all my criteria to invest and still fail and never produce the final product. While I be sad? You bet. But I won't be demanding money back because I knew it was a risk. As long as the company made a good-faith effort at completing the game, that's all I'm entitled to as a back/investor/early-accessor.

As for the people with 20+ hours logged into a $10 game demanding your money back - that's just ignorant. You clearly got hours upon hours of enjoyment out of the game. It's just insulting to demand your money back after that.

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