INS Legacy

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.

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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.

Viva Insurgency!

Posted in insurgency by Argyll on December 31, 2009

I have a habit of checking the Steam stats page to see how many people are playing Insurgency.

The new decade has arrived for much of the world, and overall activity is below normal on Steam.

As I check the stats page at the moment of writing, I witness for the first time Insurgency’s absence from the 75 games listed. The reason is not solely because of New Year’s Eve.

A patch to fix the game crashing, experienced and reported by many players since November, has failed to arrive before the holidays, as promised.

It is too late in the mod’s life cycle to reverse the damage done to the community. Insurgency has been on its death bed, and I am afraid it is slipping away.

The legacy of Insurgency left by the current developers is dismal. If you have followed this blog, you will know I have done all I can to try and save the project from its demise.

I foresaw this project’s life, and I could foresee its death.

Expect an official postmortem soon.

Community Assessment

Posted in commentary, insurgency by Argyll on December 16, 2009

A fair assessment of the community from a player’s perspective. It generally matches mine, although I could go into much more detail on how to solve the issues outlined below:

player numbers tend to either go up or decline. patches sometimes ruin the game like in this current version alot of people crash after round win or 3rd round ect. the dev team has told us what they have planned, mind you these are big things but it appears to be a slow progression process so fans get restless at the little progress being made for what ever reasons, and rebellious due to well the game which still has its share of flaws. supporting this mod is just about the same way you play the mod, slow and patiently. the numbers as i said arent stable, cos well people grow tired of the mod, move on to other games or games which have just come out (ins mod survived arma2 and operation flashpoint 2 and americas army 3, but has suffered since mw2 came out) also mod flaws, or just give up on the mod.

the community is strong in a sense, alot complain but they still stay cos they enjoy the mod and theres nothing else out that simulates the experience better. also alot of the community have been playing it since it was first released and the community itself is made up of older blood (new blood being people who have just introduced themselves to the mod), i myself have not always been active on these forums but have been playing the mod since it was released. i must also say the real fun is not only on a pub server but in clan matches.

byzantine90

DO NOT Punish the Player

Posted in insurgency by Argyll on November 7, 2009

Often players since the patch have found a negative score on their scoreboard. This, if being a factor on the affect of the total score of the player, should not be displayed. Otherwise, what’s the point? Incentive? Do not punish them for having a “-10” kill:death ratio, or at least don’t tell them about it.

2.5 Review

Posted in commentary, designtalk, essentials, insurgency, review by Argyll on November 7, 2009

Now that the patch came and the mod is more functional (many users experienced crash issues, as every major patch has), a proper look can taken at the latest iteration of Insurgency.

First impressions:

Yes, finally tracers are working. They weren’t in the original release because of a bug that you could see them through surfaces (i.e. behind walls, etc). Now that it took more than two years to solve, you begin to realize how important tracers are to the game, especially a game about war.

The M203 sight is more broken than it was before. Except now it defies logic. I don’t know how to fix that sight, since I have never used that particular one (the sight I used on the M203 with C7A1 is different), and apparently nor does anyone else.

Sounds take a bit of getting used to. I like the phrase, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, but I understand the reason that it was an opportunity to get engineer’s work in the game, and I respect that. However, I do feel that some of the sounds before were better. M203 reload and pistol firing come first to mind. The shotgun I am getting used to, but preferred the previous one.

I like all of the new insurgent skins, but why replace the previous ones and not just add the new ones? It would see more variety in the player appearance. However, I do strongly advocate the replacement of the previous default skin (the light camo top) to the current dark camo with Iraqi flag smock. Nice work by Splinter on these, but spine’s originals are still very strong to use together.

I have been experiencing more Marine victories it seems. I’m not sure of the competence of the other team, but I also believe the Marine weapons have less recoil and stronger accuracy. Damage seems to be reduced on many as well.

Grenade physics are worse. They don’t bounce, and I don’t like the sound… it matches the dropping a weapon sound, but you should be able to hear a distinctive sound from a grenade bouncing or someone throwing their weapon near you.

I don’t recall the reason behind no weapon in first-person spectate, but it was a bug that was just waiting to be addressed. It makes spectating way better, and better shows the game to other users (who can learn from it by watching).

I do not like the VGUI in the spectate. I like the function (as we originally designed a death vgui that wasn’t completed for release because it caused crashing) and information. It is just not very clearly displayed. There is an overuse of Dity Headline font. I love that font (having picked it out myself), and we were one of the first media to use it (I have seen it since used on CNN). But it is not legible at the smaller sizes. I can barely read the stats on the VGUI. Plus it should be transparent so that you can see more of what is behind.

Also on the VGUI, I tried minimizing it, but it just locked up any ability to move around in spectate after. Nor could I enable the VGUI again. Not sure if this has been addressed by the patch, as I am too scared to use it.

The weapon retextures are nice.

Patch

Posted in designtalk, essentials, insurgency by Argyll on November 4, 2009

Good job Louti on getting a patch out so quickly to fix some immediate issues.

Hey Pablo, do you feel what releasing often feels like? Feels good eh? Keep doing it.