Been Burned Before
The only game I have ever pre-ordered was GT5 and even then I was nervous. For me at least it turned out to be the worst most soul-less & pointless racing game I have ever played. I promised then I would never pay for another game until it was released and I had read many reviews.
When I first heard about Elite:Dangerous, I immediately thought "I bet it will be online multi-player rather than the single player game I would like"
So I scoured the website & FAQ's every now & then to see how the plans were progressing. I can remember my joy when they announced single player offline mode. I'm sure that nostalgia was a major factor in this project's very successful fund raising and that nostalgia was based on an offline experience.
I certainly wanted to give them money up front simply because I was so desperate to see it succeed.
Nonetheless, fortunately for me, after some wavering I decided I just couldn't pay for promises. I am now so relieved that I didn't pay, because the current offering is not the game I was expecting it to be (based on the promises made on the website).
An offline game is a completely different beast from an online multi-player one.
I don't want my single player game re-balanced to satisfy constraints of the MMO paradigm
I don't want my SP game to progress without me while I am on holiday
I do want to be able to pause my game to deal with family issues, or pets, or phone calls, etc....
I want to see what interesting and exciting MODS the community can create
I want to be able to have multiple saves so that I can approach the universe in multiple different ways.
I want to be able to play the game on holiday
I want to be able to play the same game in 10 years time
Finally we come to the reasons why they cancelled the offline mode....
dan1980 has already destroyed their argument regarding the effort it would take, but here is another. When they first announced the dropping of off-line mode. Someone from FD said this...
There has been a lot of uproar about this but the bottom line is that they have moved so much stuff to the servers they physically cannot produce an offline version now. All of the commodity prices, background simulation, module upgrade availability, bulletin board missions, injected events and I suspect even the NPC AI are run from the servers. *
That functionality did not end up on the server accidentally.
Since offline mode was one of the requirements, one that was specifically requested by the kickstarter backers, that requirement should have informed every decision they had to take on whether functionality should have been client-side or server-side. In fact I'm sure that they could have greatly reduced the effort to provide both by some forward planning.
Finally Mr Braben said this...
"We have developed a multiplayer game with an unfolding story involving the players, and groups collaborating with specific objectives and taking account of all players' behaviour. This is what the game is about. Without this it would not be the rich gaming experience that we will deliver, and would be a great disappointment to all players.
"Any offline experience would be fundamentally empty."
From all the reviews I have seen the main complaint appears to be that the experience they have delivered is already a shallow and empty experience even with the online component.
It seems to me that either
a) their development methodology was non-existent, not adhered to or deeply flawed
b) There were other non-technical, financial reasons (DRM, pressure to release, etc...) which they are never going to admit to.
I do really feel for the people who paid up on the basis of single player. At this point I can't see me buying this in the near future as it seems to me they are going to have to find a way of funding the on-going maintenance of the servers. Which to me implies micro-transactions or P2W and other practices that I will not support.
*This quote now seems to have disappeared from the internet, fortunately I had copy & pasted it from the FD website into a different post at the time.
PS. El-Reg: please disable the auto <p> functionality in your comment form, not every line-break is a new paragraph.