INS Legacy

So what happens now?

Posted in commentary, essentials, insurgency, news by Argyll on April 6, 2010

The community and past developers have demonstrated their frustration. It incited a wake-up call amongst the current team.

However, we all face the same situation we were in before this uprising. What have we accomplished other than being vocal?

There remains a peaceful resolution – and that is where we must now concentrate our efforts. I extended an olive branch prior to the recent events, and seeking to resume these talks. This is occurring behind the scenes and behind the revolutionary rhetoric – a place where we are humans, rather than avatars.

A new dawn for Insurgency is cresting on the horizon.

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Revolution

Posted in anecdote, commentary, essentials, insurgency, news by Argyll on April 5, 2010

The seeds of revolution were planted more than two years ago – incited by the leadership’s neglect, lack of passion, naive vision, or respect for the project and its community. Their actions finally caught up to them.

I have watered these seeds. What choice did I have? I am likely the biggest fan of this game, and will fight to ensure of its survival and growth. The movement has clearly grown.

The initiative by the community of Insurgency with their No Confidence group is a testament to the state of affairs. It doesn’t matter what I think or say, or what the current developers think or say. The community clearly stated that it’s time to harvest the revolutionary crop.

Jeremy arrived for the harvest. Spiel resigned. Endless is in charge. I heard a rumour that Jaboo has also resigned.

Spiel’s parting advice to the team:

The truth is that the current dev team should do something to prevent a catastrophe, which would be Argyll and Jeremy gaining ownership of this mod’s assets for their own purposes. Doing nothing will not fix it.

I would support the idea of closing down the website, the forums, the mod, taking it off Steam and keeping a backup exclusively for portfolio reasons managed by someone we all can trust.

And say goodbye 2.x. Forever.

Then, whoever is left and want to work on something completely different, like Beta 3 or rather INS 2 could create a new community and team from scratch (I suggest no public forums for a long time) and start working in peace. It’s impossible to work with the amount of noise that these forums and 2.X generate, and the ridicculous propaganda of Mr. Argyll, President of INS and his new sidekick.

This would allow people to benefit from the mod, as everyone that has contributed would have it on its CV and the assets would be backed up in case someone needs something for portfolio reasons. But this would also prevent anyone from profiting from the work of all the contributors.

If then someone wants to register the name, and go commercial with something totally new, well, I’ll enjoy the fireworks, and I won’t give a damn because I would know that they’re not making money with our work. Face it, if those two get their hands on this they would never pay or compensate or even credit anyone. They would simply milk the INS cow until exhaustion. I don’t think you guys should let them have their way.

Rather than create a situation where everyone benefits from (what I have been fighting for all along), he believes the best course of action is a situation where everyone loses. But what does he care? It’s not his responsibility anymore. He obviously doesn’t care about any damage done because he already reaped the benefits of his time with the mod.

One of his above points I actually agree with: “Doing nothing will not fix it.”

Finally, Spiel, you realize the premise of the entire revolution.

Jeremy and myself did not create this catastrophe. You did. That is our point. The fate of this project was in your hands. It is now in the hands of Endless. Therefore, the responsibility of success or failure comes to that individual.

I held that responsibility for years, and passed it to Jeremy. That is how we recognize the dire situation you have brought the project into. That is why we still feel partially responsible for its fate in the end. We do not want to see it slip away, when it can be great, once again, under the guidance of experience and talent that was responsible for leading down the path of success.

We are willing to accept, once again, the responsibility of the success or failure of this project. We are in a better position than we were in while developing the mod before, and that is why we are so passionate about this.

If Insurgency is going to go anywhere beyond its current form, these issues arise and must be dealt with, and closing down the communication channels is no method of doing so. That is how the regime incited the entire revolution, and continue to fuel it.

While the recent events unfolded, I was on a road trip driving across Canada with a photographer friend of mine who has been to Afghanistan three times. I am catching up to speed with everything, and will definitely have more to say as things unfold further.

FYI

Posted in essentials, insurgency, news by Argyll on March 16, 2010

Posted by Seth, former INS artist who now works for a AAA studio, on the forums:

Just an FYI, Jeremy has been banned from the forums. Thought you folks might be interested

Also FYI: Talks are initiating between the original developers and current developers. We have proof of our IP ownership (and yes, my name is on it too) that is the cornerstone of functionality for the game and is still being used and distributed over Steam without our permission.

Going for Gold

Posted in anecdote, commentary, designtalk, essentials, insurgency by Argyll on March 15, 2010

My red-eye flight to New York’s JFK was cancelled, so I spent the night at SFO waiting for a flight to Dallas-Fort Worth, then connect to Toronto… somewhere in between playing Insurgency on the airport Wifi, sleeping on the plane, and reading Schell’s Art of Game Design, I thought of this analogy to describe the situation with Insurgency:

If you followed the Winter Olympics, then you might have watched Canada reinstate itself as the best hockey nation in the world. There is good reason why we won the Gold, and it comes down to who was on the ice, at what time, their individual talent, and especially their collective talent in putting it all together. If you have not seen the goal, watch or read about it here.

Fleury, Canada’s goaltender, made a save from a shot on net. Neidermeyer picked up the puck and cleared it from their zone, passing up to Crosby.

At the point that the puck went from Canada’s zone, passed the defenders, and up to Crosby is like the point where Jeremy and I controlled the puck, back and forth through all obstacles up to the other team’s zone. As Jeremy had the most experience, having initiated and going through a first release of Red Orchestra, I passed it up to him; as he went on a break-away from his momentum, I skated off the ice exhausted. Jeremy seized his momentum to get a solid shot on goal.

Then he and Pongles (and the rest of the developers) quickly picked up the rebound. They shot on net some more. As Jeremy skated off the ice, and many of the other players left the game, new players came on the ice. Steppenwolf picked up a rebound and passed to Spielmann, who has continually put shots on net and picked up his rebounds.

I have skated once again on the ice, and positioned myself behind the net from the goaltender’s perspective. I have studied how the goaltender has been making his saves (the fans’ perspective), and have skated back around to a position that views an open net. I am shouting “Pass!” but the puck is still being directed on the goaltender.

There is a rebound for me to pick up on. But Spielmann still has control of the puck. I have watched several rebound opportunities and shots taken on net. I have seen what it takes to score the goal, and have positioned myself to make a solid attempt.

All of this has taken a matter of years, when in a game of hockey a sequence like this is seconds. It was the final seconds of the Gold Medal game when Crosby had control, fought through defenders to the net and again along the boards, before passing it down to Jarome Iginla. But Iginla didn’t try to take a shot, he viewed the opportunity to pass, seizing Crosby’s momentum for a shot on net. That shot, and subsequent goal, made millions roar and united a nation.

Every play to get a shot on net is different, and in order for Insurgency to reach scoring opportunities, we continually passed the mod amongst each other to reach the net to score several goals. We all get shots on net, and I haven’t yet taken a shot. I helped to position the play to get the opportunity to take a shot. It was the Defenceman who set the play up, and typically hangs by the blue line to hammer a shot on goal. I have studied, from each perspective, on how to score a goal. Now I feel I should take a shot, after I set up the play.

Well said…

Posted in anecdote, commentary, essentials, insurgency, review by Argyll on March 9, 2010

trinith, a long-time forum member has this to say that I think is one of the most fair assessment statements I have seen in a long time. I share his feelings:

I would have paid $50 for a completed insurgency 2-3 years ago. I’d pay $50 for a completed and updated insurgency now. I wouldn’t pay more than $10 for what we currently have. I’m afraid Insurgency has missed the boat.

Don’t get me wrong, what’s there is pretty damn good, but you can tell it’s half-finished and buggy. The game is dated and it shows. I realize there’s a difference between a professionally funded game and a mod people do in their spare time, but there’s also a difference between what we have in INS and pre-retail CS and DoD on the original half-life engine. As far as completeness and polish goes, INS is far, far behind.

I’ve been following this mod for quite a while and I liked it a lot, but after so many years you just start to lose interest. The mod has been in Beta 2 for a loooooong time, and there really hasn’t been a lot in the way of updates. There’s been new maps and some new models, but those really fit into any state of the game and were never really the “problem” with INS anyway. It’s the gameplay bugs really. Sure some have been fixed, but many more have been generated. The mod just feels… stagnant. The first talks of Beta 3.0 were what, a year ago? Beta 3.0 which promises a solution to all the mod’s problems… that’d be nice, if we ever saw it.

Also, before folks get up on their pedestals and talk about how the devs do this in their free time and I can’t complain because they do it for free (as they’re wont to do), I would have happily donated that $10 I mentioned above to the cause in hopes of a better game. It should be an indicator of how much potential this game has that it’s so popular in it’s current state. And you’re right, you don’t have to listen to me and you can slam me and treat me like garbage for expressing my opinion, but such conduct only serves to alienate people from the community and further push INS towards vaporware. Still, I hope that as a “customer” these thoughts don’t fall on deaf ears.

So would I pay $50 for INS 3.0? Absolutely not, but I would happily pay that for INS 1.0 Release. This mod is great, it just needs to be worked on and completed.

This post written from San Francisco, where I am attending the 10th Game Developers Conference.
I will say hello to Gabe for you all.

Last Chance

Posted in commentary, designtalk, essentials, insurgency by Argyll on February 14, 2010

I write this from California – Santa Monica to be exact – where the sun is shining bright. I return to frozen Canada later this week, with a broadened perspective and opportunities.

The weather isn’t the only difference between LA and Toronto. They are completely different worlds.

I have experienced many different worlds in my 24 years on this planet. I don’t wear blinders while I go through life. I have the eyes and mind of wonder and discovery. I don’t take it for granted, and use these opportunities to view things differently. I question the world around me and think about how to make it a better place. There is no correct answer to do anything.

That’s why I pursued photojournalism – so I could enter different worlds and be there to see, document, and share.

During my trip to California, I went into a Barnes & Noble book store. I have a habit of buying books. I picked up a copy of Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Once I read that book, I went back and picked up another Gladwell book called Tipping Point. Finishing that, I went back again and picked up his other book Blink. I’m about half-way through.

Gladwell is brilliant. He has been named one of the most influential thinkers by major publications. Born in England, he grew up in an Ontario town, attended the University of Toronto, and now is a writer for The New Yorker magazine. Gladwell has experienced many different worlds with the same sense of wonder and value that I have. His books are about decision making and success. They aren’t found in the self-help section, but in psychology and business sections. They possess a very sociological outlook.

My advice is you read those three books I mentioned above.

– – –

Jeremy wants to be involved with the mod again, which I feel is the last chance for Insurgency to avert death. His approach however is in line with where the current regime stands – taking it in a new gameplay direction on a new engine. Some of the ideas are similar to “Beta 3”.

His return to the community opened with a thread outlining his ideas and consultancy with the community.

Details aside, I want to look at strategy.

When I approached to join the mod again over two years ago, I also approached the community looking for their ideas and feedback. I could see that they shared my frustrations with the direction of the mod at the time.

Jeremy evidently understands this importance too. His timing though, is much better than mine.

When I approached the project, before it received the Mod of the Year title, the team was still high on the false sense of self-confidence in their ability. They blatantly ignored the community’s frustrations, stating that any problems were insignificant because the solutions lay in their magical “Beta 3” design ideas. They obviously spent very little time actually in the game itself to draw that conclusion. My main concern then was about the regime’s ambition taking the mod in an entirely new direction from scratch, while ignoring the immediate issues at hand. It defied logic. The direction they set on was coming from inside their head and not inside the game.

I felt, while many of the community members also voiced concern, the mod required more immediate fixes and changes that should not be ignored while planning on starting something fresh. I could see that the team was a skeleton of what it once was in terms of talent and experience. They disagreed with my concerns. I got pissed off because they were blatantly naive and ignored the voice of experience that learned from being ambitious and naive. However, in the two years since, they obviously saw how I was correct – going from a stance of not updating on Source (to concentrate solely on OB) to minor updates on Source. My criticism stemming from my worries at the time remain: they have done too little in too much time.

I also have a little concern with the details in Jeremy’s approach. Once again, it seems the community could be left in shambles. I don’t know how much time he has spent in game, but from my point of view (hours spent in game) and some of the community feedback to his ideas, it seems his vision is coming from inside his head and not inside the game. That’s the same fatal error the current regime made.

There is a difference between how the mod plays today and how it could potentially play, if given a fresh approach. Future iterations would not be aligned with the design as it was established or currently behaves, and therefore they think it doesn’t matter how it currently plays. But the thing is, the community do not get to play with the new mod until it’s done (if ever). Sure, they can play with the ideas, but that isn’t as fun as it is while you’re developing the ideas.

– – –

My stance today has changed little from two years ago…

The mod still requires immediate action to fix issues that actually matter to the fans. There needs to be a change of gameplay based on how the mod plays today – not how it should play months or years from now – because that is really how the community expects and sees how it can evolve. There are bugs that need to be fixed. If custom content wasn’t suppressed so much, the art could have been updated directly from the community.

Most importantly, the community needs to be refreshed. They are the lifeblood measuring success or failure of a project. The developers think they can control the sway of opinion by banning any naysayers. Purging the community is not helping.

The question posed in the post below is redundant. There’s no getting that $1500 back invested into the mod unless Spielmann (or whomever he gave it to) coughs it up. I doubt they would know what to do with it, or else we would have seen its impact two years ago.

Nor does the mod really need that kind of money invested anyway. It can be for less.

vBulletin 4 CMS costs roughly $300 for a license, and I see that as community building software to save the mod. You might lose the current forums, but they are full of abusive admin posts that have tarnished the mod’s reputation and scared away fans. It is also full of threads expressing fan frustration; that is what led to admins becoming fascists. You would also lose the 15,000+ member accounts, but many of which now are spammers reposting old threads with links to their spam agendas hidden within their signatures. Or they are spamming private messages, which ironically brings members back to the forums.

If a fresh start is going to be made, it starts with the community. Actually, it really needs to start with the development team, as the current regime have proven over the past few years to be the wrong people for the task. Just as I had suspected of them.

But they hold the keys to the ignition. I doubt they will let Jeremy drive – because Jeremy driving is a smart thing to do for the mod. He’s an experienced¬† guy, with INS and RO under his belt, and he can likely see the incompetence in the devs for himself. Therefore they will feel threatened, once again, as they had when I returned. They will feel especially threatened now that they have had two years to prove themselves, and failed.

So even if Jeremy can get on board, there will be no trust amongst the team. The team dynamic will not be healthy enough to bring immediate action for the fans of Insurgency to benefit.

– – –

The only solution I see for the benefit of the project is what Xanthi, creator of the most popular INS level Sinjar, suggested in his comments in the post below.

Reconciliation.

The community has no trust or faith in the ability of the developers. It is evident that they can trust Jeremy, as he offers a glimmer of hope for them since he is partially responsible for making Insurgency into the success that it was.

I have represented the voice of the suppressed, the frustrated, the banished members of the community. I also am partially responsible for making Insurgency into the success that it was to become. I would also need to be involved in the reconciliation process, as I can promise hope for those who see none. Gaining the support of this demographic is far more important than the current devs think, and that’s probably why reconciliation will never work out. They will listen to me if I say hope is possible, just as they have when I said it is hopeless.

Fans need to see a return of the old leadership who are responsible for making Insurgency into the success that it was – Jeremy and Argyll – in order to see any sign of hope in the future of this project.

We started it, and we deserve to finish it.

– – –

Having said that, this is optimistic thinking out loud, and I have no part in Jeremy’s decision to return. I was surprised of his appearance probably as much as any other fan who remembers him.

Even if somehow Spielmann decides to allow me to take part in reconciliation and the future development of the project, I don’t know whether I would invest my time, ideas, energy, and money into the project.

Is Insurgency worth saving at this point?

I have started on other game project ambitions, and have gained certain opportunities that INS – particularly those who drove it into the ground; who would directly benefit from my help – may not be worthy receiving.

If you had $1500…

Posted in essentials, insurgency, news by Argyll on January 21, 2010

Would you pay the developers? Would you pay for something that would improve development of the mod or community?

How could you improve Insurgency with $1500?

There was a time that the mod received this amount of money, for winning an award, and it obviously went into somebody’s undeserving pockets since it was not invested back into improving the mod or community.