back to article Frustration with Elite:Dangerous boils over into 'Refund Quest'

Frustration with Frontier Developments' less-than-pleasing response to fans miffed that Elite:Dangerous doesn't feature a single-player mode has sparked a new game titled “Refund Quest”. The game's a choose-your-own-adventure affair that leads you into a dungeon of despair on “A journey to get a refund from a random developer …

  1. Sampler

    Arguing over nothing

    The solo mode offers a solitary existence for those of us who enjoy our space devoid of life, even though it connects back to a main server sporadically using very little data to keep the universe details up to date.

    Those who found a game online, backed it online, paid online and have to download it online and complaining they're not online to play it baffle me.

    Even in Australia I can play the game in solo mode with its "always online" connection over what Optus tells me is "broadband" but is ten times slower than my 4G connection, glad I live in a capital city otherwise god knows what I'd get in the sticks.

    1. Splodger

      Re: Arguing over nothing

      Genuinely: Good for you!

      How about those that purchased when 'offline' was promised and it was why they bought in. Then it was pulled due to a 'creative decision' (after what, 2 years of development, 4 weeks before launch), and the developer kept the money. Then refused (sorry, dealt with them on a 'case-by-case' basis) refunds.

      You do realise that consumer protection laws exist, right?

      1. Bub

        Re: Arguing over nothing

        No-one purchased it under those circumstances. They invested in its development via Kickstarter.

        If you want to be sure of a game's feature set, you wait till launch, and buy it. Then you are protected by consumer laws.

        1. Grikath

          Re: Arguing over nothing

          "No-one purchased it under those circumstances. They invested in its development via Kickstarter.

          If you want to be sure of a game's feature set, you wait till launch, and buy it. Then you are protected by consumer laws."

          This is the crux of the matter, isn't it? The people screaming their head off funded a kickstarter project. They did not, in any way, buy a game. They invested in the development of a game, for the incentive of a working copy of the final product which aimed to include Feature [X]. And with investment in a software project comes risks, including the fact that not all, or even none of the features you invested in become actual reality. People may not like this, and scream Entitlement all over the Intarwebs, but it still doesn't change this simple, but harsh fact.

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: Arguing over nothing

            "This is the crux of the matter, isn't it? The people screaming their head off funded a kickstarter project. They did not, in any way, buy a game. They invested in the development of a game, for the incentive of a working copy of the final product which aimed to include Feature [X]. And with investment in a software project comes risks, including the fact that not all, or even none of the features you invested in become actual reality. People may not like this, and scream Entitlement all over the Intarwebs, but it still doesn't change this simple, but harsh fact."

            Yes, but all so much blah isn't it? The reality is that you don't invest in the development of a game, because their reward is the same regardless of the success of the game: no investor would accept that. You are giving a company money, and in return you get a product. That's what is happening, and Kickstarter can pretend otherwise, but it looks like buying stuff, not investing. I think a court would take a dim view of the "it wasn't a purchase, it was an investment" line, in the same way as it takes a dim view of the "I didn't pay for sex, I bought this book for £100 and the saleswoman was very grateful" line. Bullshit to make the thing not look like a purchase doesn't stand up in court.

          2. h4rm0ny

            Re: Arguing over nothing

            >>"People may not like this, and scream Entitlement all over the Intarwebs, but it still doesn't change this simple, but harsh fact."

            And wherever there is a harsh fact, there always appears someone who takes distinct pleasure in saying "I told you so" (whether they did or didn't). But the thing is, "Entitlement" as a pejorative is for all those people who think they should get something just because they want it - the immature "do what I want" mindset. It doesn't really apply to people who paid a hundred quid of their actually earned money toward something. I'm not a big believer in rambling examinations of right or wrong, I assess things on whether the consequence is good or bad. If we all take your attitude of 'there was no legal obligation for them to honour their promise so its your own fault' then all that does is blacken the name of kickstarter and similar good faith projects. If someone lies (and they must have known long in advance that this promise would not come about and whilst they were still taking people's money based on this idea), and people like you just pour scorn on the victims, then all that ultimately ends up happening is damage to other kickstarter projects, community efforts et al.

            Trust is important. Good faith is important. Lack of them is directly harmful to a society. Those taking an attitude that there's no legal obligation so you get what you deserve are doing no-one any good except their own sense of superiority.

          3. butigy

            Re: Arguing over nothing

            Anyone saying there is no contractual commitment because this is an investment is plain wrong. If you read the blurb on Kick starter it does say that the developer is contractually obliged to deliver the rewards they promise. After all these aren't investments we're making when we give money to a kickstarter project (no dividends or interest, no return of capital).

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Arguing over nothing

          "No-one purchased it under those circumstances. They invested in its development via Kickstarter.

          If you want to be sure of a game's feature set, you wait till launch, and buy it. Then you are protected by consumer laws."

          A very large numbers of purchases were made AFTER the Kickstarter, via the company's UK based web store. They were straightforward pre-orders, although payments were interestingly marked as 'donations' by Frontier. Perhaps they are a registered charity?

          I'm sure people would 'get over' the whole thing a lot quicker if the company in question actually provided a 100% hassle free refund to those concerned.

        3. fandom

          Re: Arguing over nothing

          No, they did not 'invest'

          If they had, they would be entitled to share the profits from the game

        4. Sarev

          Re: Arguing over nothing

          I bought into the Kickstarter right at the outset because of the promise I could see in FD creating a game which came significantly closer to the vision I had in my imagination back when Elite first came out. The specifics were always going to be fluid - I didn't pin my hopes on any aspect of it other than hoping to see a vision that met mine. In many ways, they've exceeded it. It's beautiful and lots of fun.

          Having said that, the fact I can't pause even a mission that I've accepted means missions are a non-starter for me. Being a parent with small children means you simply cannot give much time to a game, let alone time without interruptions. So the idea of somehow being able to perform an eight hour mission in real time is crazy. If you're not time rich, you're going to be massively penalised in ED.

    2. dan1980

      Re: Arguing over nothing

      @Sampler

      There is a good response to this below, as there are in every other story about this saga.

      The simple fact is that 'solo mode' is playing alone in a persistent, dynamic universe. This is not the same as 'offline mode' which is (or would have been) playing alone in a static universe.

      For a tiny percentage of people yes, it is about connectivity, but to most it is about the difference in experience between the two models. To pick out a few of the most important parts of the numerous ways these are different:

      * - Missions, trading and story are changeable on a whim by the developers in response to OTHER players actions, and this happens whether you are connected or not.

      * - The game is not repeatable in the same way as an offline, static game is. You can't go through the story siding with (e.g.) the rebels and then start a new character and do the opposite because, well, those story events and battles and options are now gone - the events were created, played out and then "very little data" was sent to the player's PC and the universe was updated with the results, whether you were around to experience it or not.

      The issues around connectivity are legitimate but largely a strawman because people are not complaining that they can't play online due to poor connectivity*; they are complaining that they don't want to play online.

      When you wave this away with "using very little data to keep the universe details up to date", you fail to identify exactly what gets kept "up to date". Understand that 95% of the people complaining about this don't want their universe changing underneath them, which is exactly what happens when devs curate the world.

      What happens when, in your 'solo' mode you see a mission to help a rebel group but don't get a chance to do it before leaving for a work trip. You come back a week alter and start playing but in the meantime other players have flocked to the rebel cause and the mission is no longer available. There was a mission you wanted to do but, because of the actions of other players and the response of the devs, it's now gone.

      Or maybe you've got a hold full of lucrative cargo but the system you are going to no longer takes it. Or maybe you have just saved up enough for the ship you were aiming for but don't get a chance to log back in to buy it until the weekend. When you connect in, you find that things have been 'rebalanced' and, as the ship you were aiming for is now considered overpowered and so the price has been raised by 20%, meaning you can no longer afford it.

      Like I, and many others have said many times, a connected world - whether in solo or open mode - is a very different beast to an offline world, and this has nothing to do with a player's ability access the Internet.

      * - But that is certainly an issue - and a valid one - for some.

      1. ScarabMonkey

        Re: Arguing over nothing

        That's a reasonably good point. But just replace the idea that all of these things which you describe due to connectivity/dev_action could be programmed as random events in your offline galaxy - these things should all happen if you are modelling a realistic world... The Elite galaxy should not be 'Static' it should evolve and develop over time - and instead of having to program this in advance, Frontier have chosen to use connectivity of the modern Internet to develop it over real-time. And it will be be a much better game because of that.

      2. h4rm0ny

        Re: Arguing over nothing

        >>"Those who found a game online, backed it online, paid online and have to download it online and complaining they're not online to play it baffle me."

        Perhaps because you've missed the part where they were told they'd be able to play it offline?

        The oft-repeated part about having to connect is not the whole story. Yes, there are plenty of people who legitimately complain that they cannot play it now because they planned to play it whilst commuting or have metered access and so on. But there are also other issues this brings than "just" the necessity of being constantly connected. (1)

        Forcing the game part of the online play (all "solo" mode does is make you and other players invisible to each other, you still see all the effects of their actions) has several unpleasant consequences:

        * You can't pause the game. Not kidding. You can log out and vanish from the map and when you log back in you'll still have your cargo and be placed roughly where you were before, but everything else will have moved on. Things moved, missions expired, prices changed. Basically anyone who has a need for interruptable gameplay is immediately set-back significantly in their ability to play this game. A solo game you can pause, even in the middle of a battle, to take a call from a friend, make some tea, whatever. In ED you are chained to the keyboard or penalized. And I do mean penalized. Missions expire and carry rep and financial consequences if you fail them and they all tick down in real time.

        * No replayability. The universe moves on. If you want to make money as an explorer charting new systems (part of the game) you have to do it now, because it's all being done by other players right now. If you start the game six months from now you're going to be getting a very different experience than if you start right now. Already it's impossible to "start a new game" in the traditional sense. You'll never be able to "re-play" ED in the way many people like to.

        * You can only have one character. Many people like to try different ways of playing and use different characters to do that. But to avoid "exploits" that has to be limited in online play. So currently you're allowed one character which is who you'll always be.

        These are each important things to many players and their absence is a direct consequence of the removal of offline play. You can see why people are pissed.

        (1) And just to note, you don't just have to connect to Frontier Development's servers, the game demands open peer to peer so if you need to control where your computer talks to good luck with that.

        1. John G Imrie Silver badge

          Re: Arguing over nothing

          If you want to make money as an explorer charting new systems (part of the game) you have to do it now, because it's all being done by other players right now.

          I don't think that's correct. As far as I can tell multiple people can discover and explore and get the money from flying through the same system.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Arguing over nothing

            @dogged

            Yes the model B was 400 quid new (and not a great deal cheaper 2nd hand) but a 2nd hand B&W TV was a lot less than 100 notes... I think we paid 25 for a 12 inch if memory serves..... snicker snicker.....

            Yes I was lucky that my parents saved for this (without going into some long story let's just say that all our holidays were camping holidays and in the UK and that our car was at least five years old). I also worked to help pay for the computer but it turned out to be a good investment given my future career.

            Anyway, I digress. My main point was that buying a Beeb or a Speccy (didn't they port it to the Speccy?) wasn't beyond the buying power of the average to lower income family if that's where they wanted to spend their money.

            Saying that I'm irritated that a promised feature has not been delivered is not really the same as saying I'm a spoilt toddler throwing its toys out of the pram. I'm simply saying I think it's fair to get a refund for something which isn't as advertised.

            I'm happy to accept that the world has bigger problems and I sincerely hope this story is kept in perspective.

            1. dogged

              Re: Arguing over nothing

              Upvote for reminiscences...

              Ours was a relatively unusual situation, I guess. My dad was a farm worker. He earned £28/week in 1983. We did get free milk though.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Arguing over nothing

                @dogged

                I can't honestly remember my parents income at the time, but I'm fairly sure it was more than that. One sales man and one part time secretary.

                I don't know if you played at a friends (that's how I started) but there's a Javascript emulator which plays a lot of the old BBC games. I can't remember the URL but it was linked to from a story here at El Reg a few months ago... found it! http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/05/15/chap_rebuilds_bbc_micro_in_javascript/

                Brings back the memories.. Elite, Chcuky Egg, Revs etc. etc.

                1. dogged

                  Re: Arguing over nothing

                  > I don't know if you played at a friends

                  error - assumes friend(s).

                  That was self-mockery. I did have friends, I just didn't see them often because farm workers tend to live miles from anywhere and our nearest neighbour was nearly two miles away.

                  There was a school computer club but it met after school and those of us who bussed in couldn't go because, er, bus. Looking back, it seems like it must have been really hard being a country kid. I wonder if it still is? Perhaps this is something that the government's stupid "Year of Code" could address instead of teaching MPs how to write <blink>Hello world</blink>

          2. h4rm0ny

            Re: Arguing over nothing

            >>"I don't think that's correct. As far as I can tell multiple people can discover and explore and get the money from flying through the same system."

            My understanding (it would help if there were an actual manual for this game) is that yes, you can still get some money, but that it's reduced because other people have already gathered the information and put it on the market. It's intended to simulate Supply and Demand with the information being available from different sources reducing the profitability. Right now there are a lot of systems that are blank slates and you can't buy information on them. As people map the galaxy, they become known systems and you can and rewards go down as well. I don't have a reference but that's what I believe the developers have said. So much of this is word of mouth that it's really difficult to actually know how the game really works.

      3. ollieclark

        Re: Arguing over nothing

        That game pretty much already exists. Oolite is the original Elite with updated graphics and a few extra features. Single player, offline, loads of mods to customise it exactly how you want it. Not enough mods? Take the source code and rewrite it.

        Of course the biggest complaint about Oolite was that it's single player and offline. But if you basically want to play original Elite with modern graphics in a static universe, Oolite's your game.

        "What happens when, in your 'solo' mode you see a mission to help a rebel group but don't get a chance to do it before leaving for a work trip. You come back a week alter and start playing but in the meantime other players have flocked to the rebel cause and the mission is no longer available."

        The offline mode was going to have time critical missions too. You'd miss out on that mission in both modes. it's just in one, humans did it, and in the other, AI did it.

    3. MrDamage

      Re: Arguing over nothing

      Lets try a car analogy, then you might end up understanding the issue here.

      Kickstarter project for a funky new off-road capable vehicle gets established. People like the looks of it, because it reminds them of the old VW based Dune Buggy's they used to see tearing around when they were kids. They help fund the kickstarter project to get the car off the ground, based on the manufacturers promises of it being a capable off-road vehicle.

      A month before release, they quietly whisper in a small article in an obscure Lithuanian motoring magazine, that it will no longer be fully capable of off-road travel due to "suspension aesthetics", but the only way you can take it "off road" is on gravel driveways, at a top speed of 5km/h.

      People justifably get upset, demand a refund due to the broken promises.

      Then people like you come along, claiming that gravel driveways are off-road enough for your liking, and completely ignoring the fact that others wanted to go tearing around Fraser Island, as that was the capability that was initially promised to them. You also ignore tha fact the manufacturer is capable of remotely tuning the suspension based on how others drive their vehicles, and because others dont even bother going off road, suspension is tightened to the point where you cannot even go down gravel driveways anymore, even at 5km/h.

      Offline mode means EXACTLY that. Offline, not "connected solo play"*.

      *"connected solo play" sounds suspiciously like someone doing the white knuckle shuffle to something being streamed by Redtube.

      1. dogged

        Re: Arguing over nothing

        > Then people like you come along, claiming that gravel driveways are off-road enough for your liking

        Disclaimer - I have no horse in this race. We couldn't afford a second-hand colour TV in 1983, let alone a BBC Micro so I have no Elite nostalgia and have not preordered or even ordered this game. However...

        That was a really fucking stupid analogy. The whole point of an off-road vehicle is to go off-road. The whole point of a space trading simulator is to trade things in space. This change has not gutted the entire game and made it worthless as your on-road off-roader would be.

        I can understand people getting annoyed - the poster above you makes several valid points although not enough for all this ridiculous fuss, in my opinion - but you've gone batshit with it. Calm down.

        Two things to remember -

        1. It's only a game.

        2. It's only a kickstarter.

        and your bonus number -

        3. Get over it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Arguing over nothing

          Not sure why you mention the second hand TV. You could connect a BC Micro to a second hand B&W TV (we did) and there weren't many houses without either.

          On the other hand a cheapo second TV, often B&W in those days, was nice to have so I could play for longer before my parents kicked me off to watch TV. Then I played in colour once a week on Sunday when there was nothing on.

          I think the car analogy is not far off. Some people bought it because they wanted the off road experience, some were only interested in the on-road experience. A few weeks before it was delivered the off road part was dropped. So, of course there are complaints.

          It is only a game and there are more important problems in the world but that's not a reason not to complain and try and get your money back if what you've got is not what was promised.

          1. VinceH

            Re: Arguing over nothing

            "It is only a game and there are more important problems in the world but that's not a reason not to complain and try and get your money back if what you've got is not what was promised."

            Quite. And in my case it's a reason to consider not buying it in the first place.

            I never played the original Elite, so I have no nostalgia for it - and although I've obviously been reading some news regarding Elite: Dangerous since the outset (and possibly commenting here and there), I didn't stump up any money. I decided to wait and see the end result and then consider buying it.

            Now I can see it - and it looks stunning.

            But I don't play online stuff. Whatever games I buy, whatever platform they're for, I play offline.

            One of the chief reasons I do that is because I don't sit down and play often enough - so I like to be able to pause a game where I'm at, and leave it, expecting to be able to come back to it next week, next month, next year - possibly even longer - and pick up where I left off.

            So no offline mode, no sale.

            1. tfb Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: Arguing over nothing

              The ability to pause the game is the whole thing, I think. I did play Elite on a model B, and so, almost by definition, I am now old enough to have various other commitments: I can't sit and play the game for 20 hours at a stretch because I'm not a student and I have to do other stuff. So, if I was to even think about buying this game, I'd require the ability to have a stop-the-world pause, where I can come back in a day or two and pick up the game world in the state it is in now. I might also want to play the multi-player real-time thing (in fact, I would not) but a real pauseable single-player mode would be vital.

              In fact, of course, I play the wonderful Oolite when I feel the need for a hit, which has this feature.

          2. dogged

            Re: Arguing over nothing

            > Not sure why you mention the second hand TV. You could connect a BC Micro to a second hand B&W TV (we did) and there weren't many houses without either.

            Way to miss the point, AC. Back then a 2ndhand TV could cost anything up to about £100. A BBC Micro model B came in at £400. You could quite literally buy a new car for that at the time.

            This comment won't make me any friends but this whole story reads like those appalling teenagers on Twitter who complain because the iPad Air 64GB they got for Christmas was the wrong colour and now they're going to kill themselves. I guess that's what you can expect from people with parents who gave them BBC Micros as kids.

      2. Jim Moores

        Re: Arguing over nothing

        Except that these people put money into a kick starter project. That is not buying a product, whether you like it or not. It is funding a high risk project. I funded it, and I specifically wanted a Mac version (which isn't out yet). If I never get a Mac version I will be disappointed but I will not go storming around demanding a refund. I realise (unlike apparently many others) that funding E:D was going to pay for about 2 hours of developer time and I what I wanted to do was help give the project a _chance_ to succeed. That tiny contribution does not entitle me or anyone else to dictate what ends up in the final product.

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: Arguing over nothing

          >>I realise (unlike apparently many others) that funding E:D was going to pay for about 2 hours of developer time

          Can I come and work at your place? I would like to be paid one and a half million pounds for two hours work. For that much, I'll even code in Visual Basic if you want!

  2. fizz

    I'll repeat the post I just made on the previous topic to answer comments like your:

    I love the fan crowd...

    .. how they seems to be unable to grasp why somebody could be inconvenienced by online only.

    We go on repeating the reasons:

    - unreliable connection = impossibility to play

    - impossible to pause the game to go to bathrooms, answer kids/wife/dog/other

    - impossible having multiple saves and characters

    - if you do not play for a while, you find all your missions expired while you were away and your cargo possibly worthless

    - impossible to have mods

    - constant top-down "re-balancing" and gameplay compromises to nerf exploiters, even if you play solo

    - server troubles = difficult play

    - they have kept the rights to do direct advertising to online users (ironically they said it was avoidable only by playing offline... now they amended their EULA to take that away, obviously).

    But they seems to blithely ignore this and say "Oh, but it does not require a big bandwith" or "Oh, but you can play solo". Swearwords come to mind...

    And to those that encourage us to take it behind silently, I remember that if we do not make noise when corporations are behaving badly, we only encourage them to behave in this way more often than they already do.

    This time it may be a matter that do not influence that many people, and mostly old geezers, but it will come the time the now adoring fan legions will be asked to bend...

  3. Neoc

    Bottom line

    I can take my copy of Elite (the original) and still play it all these years after the game is released. By tying it to a server, this company has created a game with a built-in drop-dead date.

    I do not want to be on-line when I play. I do not purchase any game that require me to "call home" in any fashion in order for me to play them solo. And yes, that means that every year I play fewer and fewer new games. You know what, I don't feel like I am missing anything.

    So let's get this straight: you love playing your online/connected games - glad you enjoy them. But do NOT tell me what *I* am suppose to like in a game. And one thing I do not like is a game that *has* to be connected to be played in any fashion. Bugger off - I paid for this game, let me play it and stop trying to use me as a product for company X's marketing.

    Time to break out the PS2 and play MediEvil and the original Tomb Raider.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Have you noticed...

    ...That websites, even when 'having problems' or 'being updated' always display the ads perfectly. And they're always loading first ?

    ...that whatever problems you have when buying a game, the credit card transfer always works flawlessly ? Sometimes even twice ?

    ...that when purchasing online, and experiencing problems, the guys that sold it to you are always 'just the distributor' and not responsible ?

    ...that when you want a refund there are always 'exceptional circumstances' due to 'extraordinary demands' being made on the system ? And that these circumstances never seem to occur when YOU need to pay ?

    I could go on. Bottom line ? If they can rip you off they will.

  5. PCS

    Ah, the joys of First World Problems (c)

    1. the spectacularly refined chap

      Ah, the joys of First World Problems (c)

      But a bait-and-switch goes back centuries and exists the world over.

      1. dan1980

        Re: 'bait-and-switch'

        @...chap

        Believe me when I say that I am on board with those who are disappointed/angry with Frontier, but I don't think this qualifies as 'bait and switch'. The simplest reason is that offline play was not part of the original proposal - it was an additional feature that was to be present and it hasn't been 'switch[ed]' with anything.

        As I said in another post on the same subject, it's like a (e.g.) rock music festival advertising a line up and some people buy tickets. In response to feedback that the bands are not really 'rock', and with the goal of increasing ticket sales, the organisers announce that they are adding in a third stage (it is a festival after all) where a bunch of more traditional acts will be playing. They sell a bunch more tickets on the the back of this and sell out their show.

        A few weeks before the concert, they announce that the third stage has been cancelled and none of the bands that were advertised to be on it are going to play.

        No refunds - the ticket says that the line-up may change at any time after all.

        1. SolidSquid

          Re: 'bait-and-switch'

          As a feature it was introduced fairly early on in the Kickstarter process and on several occasions the developers asserted to people who were asking if offline was available (because they didn't want an online only game) that they were going to do it. For anyone buying after the point this was added it classes as a bait and switch.

          To take your analogy, it's more like buying a ticket to a rock music festival because they announced that a band you're a big fan of has been added to the lineup doing a one-time support act at the festival. You might go and watch the other acts, but you bought the ticket because they announced that this band in particular was playing. Then in the middle of the festival (to parallel the whole playable alpha phase) they announce that the band isn't going to be playing after all because it was decided they didn't fit the theme of the festival after all. Since this band was the reason you bought the ticket you go to get a refund, and they state that because you watched the other acts while waiting for the band you went to see you're not entitled to a refund anymore

          1. dan1980

            Re: 'bait-and-switch'

            @SolidSquid

            The simple fact is that there was not 'switch'. I get what you are saying, I really do, but it just doesn't match. A 'bait and switch' is when stores lure you in with the promise of a great special on one item but when you go to buy it, they are - surprise, surprise - all out. But hey, we've got this great other item here that you might like that is not on sale and far more expensive . . .

            What has happened here is very annoying and I do not agree with it one bit. I find Braben's wordy evasions and justifications to ring utterly hollow and I their timing is ridiculous as this was known long, long ago. Right through the process, they made decisions to give priority to the online mode which had the effect of making the offline mode less likely to eventuate.

            They moved functionality onto their online servers and then apparently only many months later twigged that this would make it difficult to implement those same functions offline - you know, disconnected from the servers. The content and functions didn't just end up there one day after a night of heavy drinking and hazy memories - they were systematically PUT there and to imply that they didn't know the consequences of that is disingenuous.

            Despite gushing with pride at all the features they were developing and how good it was and great it would be, they deliberately kept quiet about the fact that they were actively making decisions that KNEW were rendering the promised offline mode unlikely. Many people asked and confirmed that there was an offline mode and not once did Braben pipe up and say: "look, the way we're going, and the way we're building the mechanics, it's looking like we won't be able to deliver an offline mode - now or in the future". He could have said that but he didn't.

            Instead, he and his team pretended everything was still going well. Why? Well, I suspect that he didn't want to deal with the backlash until it was too late to do anything about it. As you have noted, the decision to include and offline mode was made quite early in the piece and so should have informed their decisions about how they developed the game. They made heir choices knowing full well that there were other options but didn't want to let their backers and fans know so they could voice their opinions.

            Sure, Braben and Frontier don't actually NEED to involve their community but part of the point of a Kickstarter project is to do this. Nothing is set in stone but you are asking people to back your vision so it's not unreasonable to to keep them in the loop.

            We get trailers and screenshots and progress reports about how X new ships have been added and how features are evolving. So why not an update to say that a much-requested, promised and much-celebrated feature is now resigned to the bin?

            They even let people fork out MORE money for alpha/beta access, knowing that some of them wanted an offline game*.

            What has happened is false advertising and 'bait and switch' is also false advertising, but it is a specific subset with specific rules. All bait-and-switch is deceptive advertising but not all deceptive advertising qualifies as a bait-and-switch.

            So, while I definitely am on board with all the annoyance and upset and anger, I just don't believe this fits the description you are using. And nor does it have to - what has been done is bad enough as is.

            * - It's fully reasonable to try an online-only beta when you want an offline game because you know that the beta world will be tweaked and reset and changed about while you are using it. You're still entitled to want to play it offline (as promised) where no one will mess with it.

        2. dan1980

          Re: 'bait-and-switch'

          To those down-voting me above, please explain, with reference to any definition you can find, exactly how what has happened qualifies as a 'bait and switch'.

          In a 'bait and switch', the bait must actually be real - a TV or a Car or a home-loan rate or whatever - but the trickiness comes when you find out that you can't get that product. Where a TV is advertised at an amazing price, you will find that the TV sold out. It's important that it did actually exist and it was available for that price. The problem is that they only have a handful of them - not even close to fulfilling demand. If it's a loan rate, the rate really does exist, but the conditions are such that 99% of the people who go to apply are actually eligible.

          That is all I am saying. I disapprove whole-heartedly with what has happened and I think Braben has acted in bad faith by deliberately withholding the information but that was deceptive (if not outright lying) rather than a 'bait and switch' and no matter how angry you are, that doesn't change.

          Look the term up now.

          1. dan1980

            Re: 'bait-and-switch'

            I meant ineligible, obviously!

          2. auburnman

            Re: 'bait-and-switch'

            I don't think you're entirely right there. You can easily have a bait-and-switch where the bait was an ephemeral promise that never existed in the first place - having the bait technically available (but with the highly ineligible/tiny stock amount 'get out' of your choice) is just a loophole that stops the particular example of bait-and-switch being discussed from also being Fraud and/or False Advertising.

            1. dan1980

              Re: 'bait-and-switch'

              @auburnman

              That's exactly the point - if the product doesn't exist, it's not a 'bait and switch', it's outright false advertising. The bait and switch IS about the loophole, though it has been closed in a lot of places. Look up whatever consumer services you have - see what they say.

    2. dan1980

      @PCS

      "Ah, the joys of First World Problems."

      And by that you mean . . . what, exactly?

      Are you trying to say that we should be thankful that we can argue about whether a multi-million dollar video game can be played offline or not?

      Fair point, but I am thankful for that. Or, at least, I am cognizant of the fact that, though I am just a middle class person, I am a middle class person in a generally affluent nation and so enjoy a quality of life that is nearly inconceivable to hundreds of millions of people around the world.

      But that situation and my acknowledgement of it does not really have anything do do with this topic.

      Hell, I should be so lucky as to have electricity and thus am able to type this reply! After all, millions don't. But then David Braben also lives in a decidedly first world country and in decidedly affluent circumstances and is even so lucky that he was able to convince a bunch of strangers to give him £1.5m based on a 'vision', allowing him earn money doing something he loves and wanted to do.

      But did you know that many women and children in Sub-Saharan Africa have to walk several miles each day to collect semi-drinkable water for their family and can be at risk of attacks from both animals and people, including rape?

      Against that, surely Braben's hand-wringing about a offline mode being too hard is just a "first world problem" and no excuse at all. I mean, what's so bad about having to "re-engineer a separate set [of missions]" for offline play when compared to 10 year old boys being torn from their mothers' arms to become suicide bombers while their fathers are shot to prevent them rebelling?

      And how can he keep a straight face when he notes that they would have had to "replicate some of the work locally that was being done on the server" and that, whole they "could" do it, "the amount of work involved increased over time" and so they decided to cut offline play loose? Doesn't he know that there are 70,000 children homeless in his native Britain?

      I wonder how they would feel about complaints that having developers code inside a nice, comfortable, heated, office is 'to hard' or wouldn't be true to his 'vision'.

      Why is he even doing this at all? I don't know how much he pocketed when Google bought Phonetic but I'm sure he didn't give the whole lot to a charity. Or maybe he did, seeing as he is a trustee of the Raspberry Pi foundation, a registered charity tackling the clearly funadmental human rights issue of low rates of CompSci students in British universities.

      i am not having a go at David for any of this - what I am saying is that the 'first world problems' argument is utterly ridiculous.

      I presume you won't read this reply as you have already sold your computer, along with all your other first-world belongings to raise money for starving children in Africa, pausing only to book a one-way ticket to India where you will spend the rest of your life working with the dalit residents of the slums in Bangalore, helping to protect the young women being raped - sometimes quite brutally - daily, while also working tirelessly to help end the caste separation that holds them down.

      So I suppose I have wasted my first-world time on this post as you are far too busy campaigning for human rights in China and equality in Russia.

      1. janimal
        Thumb Up

        @dan1980

        +10 for you

  6. BryceP

    With a wink and a nudge

    "Reg commentards are mad about this and Elite: Dangerous buyers are clearly mad about this. Any second now social media and customer service “experts” will be tweeting and posting utterly obvious critiques of Frontier Developments' behaviour. Such posts may be the worst part of this whole unpleasant saga."

    I seriously can't figure out if this was intentionally the driest self-deprecating humor I've ever seen on the Reg or just a comedic barb gone slightly in the wrong direction.

    Either way, spectacular.

  7. Blarkon

    A s*#t storm compared to the s*#t typhoon coming with Star Citizen

    This is a mere s*#t storm in a teacup compared the epic dummy spitting that will be happening in the future when Star Citizen doesn't live up to the impossible expectations placed upon it.

    1. dan1980

      Re: A s*#t storm compared to the s*#t typhoon coming with Star Citizen

      @Blarkon

      Well, they certainly have the credits for it.

      One difference is that Elite actually promised offline play, whereas for SQ it was a 'stretch goal' and was worked up as a separate game, playing out in the same universe, acting as a kind of lead-in to the MMO world. That game has its own team and so is rather unlikely to be cut, especially given its 'stretch goal' status, which essentially is saying: "if you give us more, we will do X and specifically X".

      Who knows how SQ will turn out but the number of backers means that it's likely to have a SERIOUS following from day one, which is a big criticism of Elite - they're forced the O but it seems to be missing the MM part.

    2. K Silver badge

      Re: A s*#t storm compared to the s*#t typhoon coming with Star Citizen

      lmfao .. I'm looking forward to that one. I know so many people who have brought into it (far more than brought Elite) wholesale and they're already living, breathing and shitting it.

      That that will be spectacular.

    3. PatientOne

      Re: A s*#t storm compared to the s*#t typhoon coming with Star Citizen

      I take it you're referring to this:

      "Squadron 42 is a single player campaign that takes place within the Star Citizen universe. It can be played off-line."

      I've not seen anything regarding this having changed, but go ask on their forums: They have an 'Ask a Dev' area and Cloud Imperium seem quite good at answering such concerns. Or go subscribe and post the question for Chris Roberts himself.

  8. janimal

    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.

    1. janimal

      Correction

      It seems the quote I attributed to FD, was not from them - apologies.

    2. dogged

      Re: Been Burned Before

      I just wanted to comment on the quote you've provided (regardless of attribution)

      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. *

      "Background simulation" is probably an in-house term so I can't really talk about it, and "injected events" is another. On the rest though....

      If commodity prices are kept on a local machine, they will be hacked. Somebody will tweak the hex values - in memory if necessary - to buy low and sell high. In a single-player game, that's irrelevant but where multiplayer is even a possibility, it's a nightmare. NPC AI and upgrades would be the same. To go offline, you'd need a complete local copy and a means of switching to online sources from context. Along with a scripted campaign and set of missions. As I understand it, much of the game is procedurally generated which complicates this.

      I'm not saying it can't be done or even that it's hard. I am saying it's a whole lot of work that somebody has to pay for.

      1. Oninoshiko

        Re: Been Burned Before

        Somebody DID pay for it. All those people who signed up for it after FD said they would be doing an offline version.

  9. David Pearce

    Download Oolite, add mods if you want and enjoy

    1. janimal

      Oolite's a good bit of nostalgic fun.

      If you liked Frontier, you can also try pioneerspacesim as well

      http://pioneerspacesim.net/

  10. dogged

    "Too hard"

    As some have said, Frontier claim an offline mode is "too hard". That's not really the truth.

    It's much the same as the fuss about Ubisoft not having having a female lead in AC::Unity and the complaints we saw about that from nutters (the complaints about the game not being any good are a whole different matter) and Ubisoft claiming it would take too long. It wouldn't, not just for mo-cap.

    However -

    It almost certainly would take too long to add a rewritten version of the whole story so that it works with a female protagonist and Ubisoft have (EA-led) deadlines and probably penalty clauses for failing to deliver on schedule. That doesn't matter to the professional complainers, of course, but it should matter to gamers who just want to play the damn game.

    By the same token, Braben & Co have to deliver Elite to a timeframe and they've dropped a single-player campaign to do so. Why couldn't they release the single-player campaign later? Well, it's a fairly integral part of an initial release. People play single-player before hitting multiplayer. Adding it in later would be weird and contradictory and almost certainly raise just as many complaints as dropping it entirely. Kickstarter backers - let us not forget - are not known for their quiet, understanding patience. They are internet fucktards like all the other internet fucktards, so quite the reverse.

    I think Frontier were in an impossible situation. They could go way over timeframe (eliciting calls for refunds everywhere from everyone), they could patch in offline mode later (eliciting exactly what we're seeing here but with added development cost and no added funding) or they could pull offline mode completely which still causes internet fucktards to throw all their toys out of the pram but at least it doesn't actually cost them yet more money and time.

    On balance, they made the sensible choice. Backers don't like it? Meh. Kickstarter is not buying from a shop. Backers should be thinking themselves lucky Frontier delivered at all.

    1. janimal

      Re: development practices

      Or they could have ensured that every time they had to make a decision about where certain functionality should reside (server or client) that they consult the requirements of the project and design accordingly.

      The way this has happened really makes it look like all the way through development someone kept saying "oh we'll deal with that requirement later".

      The off-line promise was only added because it was explicitly requested by so many backers. Which to my mind makes it probably one of the most important requirements of the project.

      In software development, any time it looks like you are not going to be able to meet one of the requirements, the most important thing to do is to communicate that to your clients at the earliest opportunity.

      The one thing you should never do is pretend it is not an issue until the delivery date.

      1. dogged

        Re: development practices

        > The off-line promise was only added because it was explicitly requested by so many backers. Which to my mind makes it probably one of the most important requirements of the project.

        Jesus fucking christ, are you serious? And Braben agreed to this madness?

        That is literally insane. That's like proposing an idea for a summer blockbuster movie and having the studio talk you into doing a vaguely-related tie-in 24 episode TV show at the same time and inside the existing budget. It's lunacy. It should have been rejected immediately.

        Wow.

        1. janimal

          Re: development practices

          I agree that was when they should have evaluated the requirement against their vision and rejected it.

          However I can guarantee that some backers - all those requesting a refund in fact, would not have backed the project. It was the main reason I actually considered backing it. Fortunately I decided to wait and see.

          Hence it was either incompetence or a cynical money grab. Both reasonable reasons for people to complain.

          PS. Their budget was provided by the backers.

          1. dogged

            Re: development practices

            > PS. Their budget was provided by the backers.

            Yeah, but that doesn't mean backers get to change the proposal. James Dyson doesn't go to the bank for a loan to develop a new hovercraft-lawnmower and then because the bank manager likes ice-cream promise to have it make Mr Whippy at the same time.

            If the bank manager tries, Dyson goes to another bank. And Braben should have refused point blank. Any attempt to actually fulfil this requirement would mean - given the constraints - two late, bad games.

            Do these backers know about "good, fast, cheap, pick any two"?

            1. janimal

              Re: development practices

              Some people only backed it after the off-line promise was made.

              It was entirely Frontier Development who changed the proposal. They could have said "no" and had less backers and a smaller budget, but no complaints afterwards.

              It was entirely their choice.

              I can't see how you can defend the way they have handled it.

              1. dogged

                Re: development practices

                > I can't see how you can defend the way they have handled it.

                I'm not, the whole thing seems like some kind of crazy fiasco. I can't quite get my head around the idea of any seasoned game dev agreeing to produce two games for one budget in the time allotted for one game.

                I still think refunding backers would simply destroy the chances of the existing game, though. So those who complained get their money back (minus depreciation!) and nothing at all to show for it and all those who are happy get Frontier going bankrupt from paying refunds and no money to keep the online servers going. Not exactly a happy ending.

                1. DavCrav Silver badge

                  Re: development practices

                  "I'm not, the whole thing seems like some kind of crazy fiasco. I can't quite get my head around the idea of any seasoned game dev agreeing to produce two games for one budget in the time allotted for one game."

                  I don't really understand the concept of "one budget" here. By promising offline he got a lot more backers, hence a larger budget.

                  "I still think refunding backers would simply destroy the chances of the existing game, though. So those who complained get their money back (minus depreciation!) and nothing at all to show for it and all those who are happy get Frontier going bankrupt from paying refunds and no money to keep the online servers going. Not exactly a happy ending."

                  But Braben going bankrupt from apparently negligently mishandling his business is a reasonable outcome, and part of the creative destruction that capitalism thrives on. When companies screw things up royally with their only product they often go tits up. Or is Braben too big to fail?

                  1. dogged

                    Re: development practices

                    > But Braben going bankrupt from apparently negligently mishandling his business is a reasonable outcome, and part of the creative destruction that capitalism thrives on.

                    Can't tell if sarcasm, presuming not.

                    Well, quite. There's nothing to stop him going bankrupt due to this in the same way that backers (not "buyers", let's maintain the paradigm) have no guarantee that their investment will get them what they wanted.

                    > When companies screw things up royally with their only product they often go tits up. Or is Braben too big to fail?

                    Only his ego.

            2. Wommit

              Re: development practices

              Re : Dogged, irrespective of what Braben should or should or should not have done, Mr Braben DID NOT tell his investors that he wasn't going to include a specifically desired and publicized function.

              There is a passage in the UK sale of goods act which states that goods or services must fulfill specifically advertized functions or functionality.

              Under UK law the complainers have a right to a refund.

        2. dogged

          Re: development practices

          I'm interested in who's downvoting my comments on the insanity of committing to deliver an offline game as well as an online game.

          Is that just somebody who knows dick about game development but REALLY WANTS IT TO BE EASY SO THAT THEY CAN HAVE WHAT THEY WANT WANT WANT SO MUCH?

          Or has somebody actually got a valid objection?

          1. amanfromarse

            Downvoting because

            Perhaps they're downvoting you because it's you and they want to see one of your 'how dare you downvote me' tantrums.

          2. h4rm0ny

            Re: development practices

            >>"Or has somebody actually got a valid objection?"

            You seem to be trying to dismiss people's anger on the basis of legality. That may be the cause of several downvotes. Someone started a project to create a new Elite game and a number of people who wanted to see such a thing come about donated their own money to help this thing come about knowing full well that they were subsidizing others, paying over the odds, just to help it come about. Many more people came in to do that because they specifically asked if it would have a key feature for them and were told that yes, it would be added. Whether or not this was a deliberate lie at the time, the company certainly knew long in advance that the promised feature had been abandoned so it became one.

            Whether or not it was buying a finished product, people were lied to in order to get their money. The lack of a legal commitment to deliver on the feature is immaterial to the fact money was gotten out of them on knowingly false information. However, you seem to wish to dismiss their anger and right to complain on the grounds that they had no legal protection to ensure the feature was delivered.

            Lack of legal protection doesn't remove someone's right to be angry over being cheated (as they perceive it). It just seems to give you an excuse to dismiss their angry on the grounds you think they should have known better. Legality and Ethics are not the same thing. Someone who voluntarily donated money at their own risk for something many would benefit from and often at greater sums than they'd actually have to give if they just waited to buy the game, has actually invested more than the person who waits to buy the game. Should not the person who invested more have a greater right to anger over being deceived than someone who paid less, risked less?

            The normal response would be to say "yes, they do have more reason to be angry". Except you keep introducing some caveat to say it's not so because they should have known better / should have waited for legal protection. You're essentially placing the blame on them rather than on the company that deceived them for a long time. I actually think it's a rather dangerous mindset to substitute legality for morality and argue, as you implicitly are, that people's anger at being cheated is not legitimate if they showed good faith rather than demanded contractual basis.

            Go ahead and argue that it's foolish to expect something promised if there isn't a legal obligation accompanying that promise. But I regard that as a rather tragic worldview and if adopted universally would lead to a lot of promising kickstarters and other things dying a rapid and unnecessary death.

            People were promised something to get their money and then it was not delivered. That in itself is an immoral act that legitimizes anger. Blaming the victims to dismiss their anger as legitimate is not good. And that is how your posts seem to me.

            1. dogged

              @h4rmony

              I understand all of that and that's fine, downvote away in any post where I imply that by all means.

              However, this is not explanation for downvoting the mindboggling over committing to produce two games when you have budget and time for one game.

              It's not a stretch goal, right? They didn't attempt to raise extra funding for this?

              I apologize for the lack of tantrum but this is almost as bewildering as the act of committing to developing an offline campaign. It's like you're not allowed to say that insanity is insane.

              1. janimal

                Re: dogged

                I didn't down vote your insanity post, but this idea that the budget and time estimate were somehow fixed at some early stage seems fallacious to me.

                The budget is based on what the backers pay and backers choose whether or not to take that risk based on the promises given of how that will benefit them.

                The time estimate can only be set by the developer when they have an idea of what features they are going to be implementing.

                In this instance Frontier Development changed the proposal when many, many people asked if a single player, offline mode, would be implemented.

                As a consequence people who hadn't backed it because of a lack off-line mode, did so - thus increasing the budget available for implementation.

                Frontier Development should not have promised off-line mode if they thought they couldn't implement it within the promised time. It is as simple as that.

                Their budget was dictated by the willingness of the backers to believe in the promises given.

                The time estimate is entirely within their control.

                As a Software Engineer, my opinion is that they have been incompetent in their project management.

                However an angry out of pocket backer might reasonably conclude they have been ripped off.

                FD were fully aware of the importance of SP mode to their backers, aware enough to promise that functionality, which persuaded a lot of people to enthusiastically invest money to make it possible.

                Personally I am only a little sad that I won't get to see the game I wanted, but I invested nothing. Anyone who invested on the promise of off-line mode has every right to feel aggrieved.

        3. MonkeyCee Silver badge

          Re: development practices

          "Jesus fucking christ, are you serious? And Braben agreed to this madness?"

          Should have made it a stretch goal. But then that would have required him to have an actual plan for delivering E:D. Rather it seems to be "how much funding can we get" rather than getting funding for what they can deliver. But does reek of the salesman promising the moon to get the sale.

          Most of the stink seems to be around the very public adding of the "offline" feature, followed by increased revenue, followed by the very sneaky re-defining of "offline" as "solo" in an email update.

          I'd be interested in what the members of el Reg would say if this was your standard IT project. Lets say an on demand TV application that offers you the ability to download and watch shows at your leisure, streaming only for stuff released that week, but the back catalogue you can watch anytime. Then, after collecting their funding and pre-sales, the company says that due to unforeseen issues, it's all streaming, no download.

    2. Rob Gr

      Re: "Too hard"

      I preordered, rather than Kickstarted the game, on an understanding it would support a non-online mode. Does that me a fucktard too?

  11. Chris Ashworth

    The irony of the whole saga is that the multiplayer doesn't even work anyway. Want to play with friends? Haha, you'll be lucky.

    Unfortunately ED is another very polished framework for what can be an incredible game but has been released before being fully fleshed out (I'm looking at you, Destiny).

  12. h4rm0ny

    Forums

    The official Elite forums are some of the most defensive and knee-jerk aggressive forums I've seen right now. Pretty much every criticism or even mild feature request someone makes is hit with a barrage of some or all of the following: "Go play Eve", "Realism" (so why do inert objects come to a stop in Space, then?) or "that's the way the game is, don't like it don't play it". Purely for amusement of people, I'm going to post this exchange from their forums. :)

    Thread starter: Doing a mission from the moon station to alpha centauri. How hard can it be...... 10k profit for 2 silver deliver.........Hutton Orbital is 0.2someting LIGHT YEARS away from the drop point. Come on guys.... thats just ridiculous. Flying 1250c at the moment and there is 1:23 hours left. Sitting here just staring at the screen. Please weed out these kinds of systems or make inter-system jump nav points

    Respondent: Gotta check systems before taking on missions. No mercy. Look at the Semi Major Axis for the sun's of a system. The number is expressed in AU. 1 AU = Distance Sun<->Earth = 150million km = 8Lm = 480Ls. So if you are going to a multi sun system with suns circling around each other with a distance of say 300 AU then you know you have to fly 300*480Ls = 144000Ls if the station is at the 'other' sun. Too far. Backdraw is that the semi major axis is often only given for 2 partners circling each other in close proximity and that pair is circling around another larger sun, then look at the other suns semi major axis, it's at least a hint.

    Kind of amusing. At least I thought so.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Forums

      "Gotta check systems before taking on missions. No mercy."

      Or, make a game that isn't stupid. Realism makes no sense: since faster-than-light travel probably isn't possible, realism is out the window from the start, so they can shut up on than front. And if "go play another game" is the standard response, people won't just do that, they will go *buy* another game, and ED will be consigned to the dustbin of history.

  13. JeffUK

    YOU GET TO FLY A SPACE SHIP, IT'S FUN!

    I can't be only person who cares whether a game is fun first and foremost...

    Definitely feel sorry for people who can't play because it's on-line only; but a lot of people seem to be having a tantrum over "BUT I WANTED OFFLINE PLAY" and forgetting to actually enjoy the game....feel even more sorry for them.

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: YOU GET TO FLY A SPACE SHIP, IT'S FUN!

      tantrum. n.: The anger of a person who cares about something I do not care about myself.

  14. TonyJ Silver badge

    I backed the game

    Personally, I wanted offline play. In the KS model they listed it as a feature that would be included.

    I would have been ok - not overjoyed, but ok - with them removing it earlier on. Or at least explaining there were problems with getting it to work, earlier on. Or, at the end of the day, saying absolutely anything.

    But no, they removed it and then tried to sneak it out in one of their email updates. I seem to recall that one of the explanations they gave on their forum was that there's simply too much universe data to hold locally. That it has to be held on large online servers (I have 2TB of stroage in my laptop alone so I'd love to know how much data they're talking). But it took you until four weeks or so before launch to realise this??

    My personal problem with it is that they must have known for considerably longer than they tried to give the impression of and they sat on that information.

    And that's the crux of it - they sat on it. When the time came that they had to tell people, they did it in a whisper, hoping it'd go unnoticed.

    I haven't played the release. I probably won't, now. If you're happy with online only, DRM loaded games, then I'm genuinely happy for you. Me - not so much.

  15. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Conclusions of all this mess

    1) A promise made is a promise to be kept

    2) A promise made on Kickstarter is not an exception

    3) The Eliter-Than-Thou don't care that you care about a promise (and that's not just the developers of the game)

    4) OoLite keeps its promises, has NPC AI in the latest update, and apparently makes a mockery of this whole dangerous business and the excuses made to justify it

    In any case, I would like to thank the developers of Elite:Dangerous. They have taught me that they are not reliable and don't care about their backers, and it didn't cost me a penny to find out.

    More importantly, I have discovered OoLite.

    1. VinceH

      Re: Conclusions of all this mess

      "More importantly, I have discovered OoLite."

      ^ This.

      I'm downloading it now to try out later.

      1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Re: Conclusions of all this mess

        Have a look at the expansion packs for Oolite. The only one I always have is the random ship names.

        The expanded cargoes is good for making it a trading game that consists more of being a ferry between two systems, illegal cargos gives you other options for being busted with illegal stuff, such as handing them over to the authorities, hence you can "free" slaves :)

        The navy and assassination missions are worth a look if you like the fighty side.

        Totally recommend Oolite, as it's free, available, and no-one is going to suddenly demand you play it online.

  16. DrXym Silver badge

    And the moral here is

    Don't buy a game until it comes out and you know you'll like it.

    1. dogged

      Re: And the moral here is

      Basically, yes.

      (Although I contributed to Star Citizen because I like Chris Roberts whereas Dave Braben was always an unlikeable bastard. That doesn't mean I'm expecting anything. It was a Kickstarter. It does not come with a guarantee. The Sale of Goods Act does not apply).

      1. VinceH

        Re: And the moral here is

        " It was a Kickstarter. It does not come with a guarantee. The Sale of Goods Act does not apply"

        That's an interesting assertion. I'm not saying you're wrong - but I wouldn't like to bet either way. It would be interesting to see it tested.

        1. dogged

          Re: And the moral here is

          @VinceH

          > That's an interesting assertion. I'm not saying you're wrong - but I wouldn't like to bet either way. It would be interesting to see it tested.

          I'm pretty certain Kickstarter donations are regarded as exactly that, donations. Offerings are "rewards" based on contribution, not a contract and not a sale. If it was done any other way, Kickstarter contributions would be taxable (and probably liable for VAT) which I don't think they are although you might want to check with HMRC.

          So, yeah, I think Kickstarter is regarded as investing in a business and you can quite legally lose your shirt on any investment. Hard to see how the Sale of Goods Act would apply to it.

          1. VinceH

            Re: And the moral here is

            @dogged

            That might very well how Kickstarter (and similar) see it - but whether the law would agree/accept it is another matter. I think it's a very grey area. Not least because many/most of those "investing" are doing so on the promise of some form of goods or services in return (rather than a share of the profits that an investment would normally be for).

            Another point is many/most of those investors are ordinary people - aka consumers - and consumer laws (here in the UK, at least) can't be trumped.

            So, as I said, I wouldn't like to call it - but I would be interested in seeing it tested.

            1. dogged

              Re: And the moral here is

              A little bored Googling indicates that kickstarter contributions are regarded as taxable in the US (the potato salad guy may have a problem in the region of $2,100 or so) and that VAT is levied at source in the UK.

              Therefore, I am quite probably wrong although we'd have to await a test case to set a precedent.

              And I agree, when - probably not "if" - it happens, it'll certainly be interesting.

          2. Spectral

            Re: And the moral here is

            The legal side of kickstarter is pretty fuzzy.

            I can tell you, though, that the goods you receive are considered purchases. If customs has to handle any goods from a kickstarter they are considered regular purchases, regardless of what you try and claim of 'donations' or 'gifts' or whatever.

            I can't see the digital equilevants as being different than the physical goods, so sales acts should offer some protections if you are taxed by customs as if they are sales.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And the moral here is

      Are you really that clueless? No Kickstarter = no game. They used KS to fund it's development. So unless the people backed it BASED ON WHAT WAS PROMISED - what, exactly were you waiting for?

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

          1. dogged

            Re: And the moral here is

            "dogged" because it means two different but entirely appropriate things. And I like dogs.

            They could have got funding for Elite if Dave Braben was prepared to commit to publisher standards (ie, timeframes and specimen of requirements up front). He isn't. He never was. The only reason nobody else has done an Elite game is because Braben has a habit of suing if they try.

            Kickstarter was basically so he could avoid "compromising [his] vision", not because there was no funding anywhere else.

            The irony appears to be that he compromised his vision almost immediately by agreeing to an offline campaign and has now failed to deliver it.

      2. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: And the moral here is

        "Are you really that clueless? No Kickstarter = no game. "

        I don't really believe that and I doubt you do either. Elite is a franchise with sufficient heritage that they could have attracted a publisher and worked through on that basis.

        "BASED ON WHAT WAS PROMISED"

        Kickstarter / crowdsource projects promise a lot of stuff. Doesn't mean they all deliver.

    3. Professor Clifton Shallot

      Re: And the moral here is

      "Don't buy a game until it comes out and you know you'll like it."

      The dilemma here was that I wanted the game to happen and it might not have without being backed.

      I'm perfectly sanguine about that backing not resulting in quite what I wanted but accepting that there was no guarantee that it would be perfect (for me) does not mean I'm not rather hacked off about the change they have made to the promised product and the way they went about notifying us of that change and handling complaints.

      I won't be asking for a refund, and I will probably give the game a go at some point but that's quite a way from the excitement I originally had and I have to say that the whole experience puts me off Frontier and may even put me off funding other games in this way. Fortunately Wasteland has been quite a lot of fun so far which restores a bit of faith in the general idea.

  17. Paul Shirley

    where Microsoft lead

    What's most surprising is frontier not learning from Microsoft's disastrous xbone launch and it's 'online only, we know best, screw you' attitude. Microsoft at least had the commercial good sense to pretend to back down (before sneaking the same crap embedded in with games for the platform)

    And the hoard of rabid supporters ms managed to drum up didn't work for them, does Frontier really think they can do better than professional astroturfers like ms?

  18. Sean Houlihane

    Feeble article

    Why focus on only one small aspect of the product? Are the other features present and correct? Does the game actually function? The kind of details that the majority of gamers will be interested in?

    Yes, offline only is a valid issue for maybe a few hundred people (for various different reasons). Is it an important issue in the context of the whole release? How about a little research, and not just some quotes from a fairly busy forum...

    1. janimal

      Re: Feeble article

      It wasn't a review - just reporting the 'controversy'

  19. TheProf
    Mushroom

    I-War

    I now want to play I-War. It's old and not very Elite-like (no trading) but it's a fun single player space war game. Available from online retailers.

    (Can we have an FB Spaceship icon please?)

  20. Bod

    Enough of the "they"

    It's Braben behind all this and the decisions, and this is my problem with buying into the game as I still have a beef with his treatment of Ian Bell and it seems Braben still has the same attitude. From one of Bell's rare interviews more recently he makes a simple reply to the question about what he'd do differently if he had to do it all again, which basically was, don't trust Braben.

    As for the offline, I'd much prefer it to be offline playable, and as in another comment, playable forever. Like the original Elite, I can still play it and I'm not limited by the existence or otherwise of a server somewhere to make it work.

    I don't mind if it's updateable by the online servers and even if the universe is updated through that. So long as I can play it with no internet connection and forever once those servers have gone. Plus as also mentioned, I wouldn't want my mission progress to be erased by not being online for a while, or things being unachievable because other players have already achieved them before me, or missions removed to expire them. That's not what the original was about. Anyone could make the game whatever they wanted, but also could play the same missions, achieve the same statuses, and it didn't depend on other players. They could start it all again and do it all the same, or different as they liked.

    Problem also with online games is they have a habit of being changed with rules changing, core game play changing, content removed and users can end up leaving the game on mass. Star Wars Galaxies I remember was wrecked by such changes.

    Other concern I have is Braben has form with incomplete games being released, and from what I hear ED is incomplete even ignoring the offline fuss.

    1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      Re: Enough of the "they"

      Completely agree on Braben being the issue here. Kickstater seemed IDEAL for him, as you don't have to compromise with your investors (since they don't actually own any part of the company) or your customers, since they've already paid.

      SWG is a great example, since it's a game that I played a bunch, from release until just before player cities and vehicles (crossing half a planet on foot to chase down a bounty, masochistic joy), and came back after the CURB since the rebalancing had just broken most of the high end equipment. Then Sony changed it into a WoW clone/shooter with the previous hero class (Jedi) now just a standard one. The real reason I quit was not just that they broke the game every couple of years, but that there where clearly several different development groups working on it at the same time. So they where updating and improving classes up until a few weeks before they completely removed the current class system.

      You can say many bad things about WoW, but they are pretty good about not breaking the core game for the players (kill stuff, get loot, kill more challenging stuff, get better loot)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not surprised

    Nice to see Braben once again totally screwing up Elite. That franchise went to shit after Ian Bell.

    I loved Elite as a kid, this should have been *THE BEST* game available...but I kinda knew it wasn't going to be based on Braben's past efforts so I kept my money in my wallet. The likes of "Start Citizen" seem closer to the mark.

    Today's teens will not be able to experience the game-changing shift that the original Elite created. Braben, you are an abject failure. Kindly give it up.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the saddest part

    ...is that I remember Elite from my youth. I spent a whole school summer holiday playing it 10 hours a day with my brother. And if I was inclined to nostalgia, I could buy a commodore 64 and run elite on it to show my kids.

    But with online games, that won't be possible. My kids will grow up with fantastic, amazing, immersive games like Elite Dangerous. But they will never be able to show their kids just how 'basic' and simplistic games were when they were kids, because the online services that are required will almost certainly cease at some point, maybe 5 years, maybe less.

  23. Bbbbit

    Harsh memories.

    I went into witch-space on my very first ever jump on the BBC micro (disc) version. A metaphor for my life to follow. It still hurts...

  24. yowl00

    Chargeback

    If you play the game linked in the article and ask for a chargeback from your credit company, it appears to be successful: "A few days later you check your bank account and notice that your chargeback has been authorised." I suggest everyone who is upset about the lack of offline do that. For me the writing was on the wall when they announced they had VC money coming in.

  25. Sarev

    A question for The Register

    So, we've had five articles about Elite: Dangerous thus far. When might we expect to see a review?

  26. Neoc
    Alert

    Hey, FD

    Here's a thought: most of us on El Reg have at least one spare PC lying around we can upgrade (or simply power-up). How about releasing the server to the wild, including a patch to allow the game to point to a local server. And no calling home. Ever. Unless *I* ask to see if an update exists (with a comprehensive description of what will change if I apply it).

  27. MonkeyCee Silver badge

    Online/offline

    Just to weigh in with my $0.02 here.

    If you back something on kickstarter, you do not get either the protection of a purchase (despite HM customs opinion on it), nor do you get any guarantee as an investor. It's a great system for funding things that you aren't fussed about the details of, but from the end user perspective you get whatever the devs feel like giving you.

    Now that might seem very cruel and offhand, but lets be clear, major game companies get away with releasing games that do not meet the advertised features on the box, and get away with it. Diablo 3 pvp off the top of my head as an example (they may have taken it off the box, but the EU versions I saw stated it on the feature list). So you can promise something, never deliver it, and it will be just fine :)

    I accept that any game that I will be playing against other people will need to be online, with important parts outsourced to the servers for balance. The fact that it's still perfectly possible to "hack" them, as some of the processing needs to be done locally (map hacks, aimbots etc) but at least you should get more detection of that server side.

    For solo games, I should _not_ have to maintain an internet connection, nor should it really matter if I want to edit/cheat the game. It's _my_ game, that I'm experiencing, and if I find it fun to use mechanics that would be unfair in multiplayer, so be it.

    I will express my confusion at exactly what the appeal of E:D is, compared to the existing products out there. You have Oolite, which is your single player goodness, with a barebones trading/fighting game, and a whole host of expansion packs so you can create the sort of universe you want. It's free, you can edit pretty much anything in the game, and generally quite a nice community. If you're keen on the "play with others" then I'd have thought Eve would be the ticket. Not really my thing, since it seems to be more like an actual war, 97% boredom, 3% crazy busy terror where everything gets blown up. Plus applying for guilds (yeah, they're called summit else) involves more effort than getting a real world job :)

    So E:D isn't Oolite with nicer graphics, it isn't Eve, and the company doesn't seem to sure how it's going to fund itself in the future. If the game is reliant upon servers, then who will be paying for them in a couple of years time? Adverts, subscriptions or micropurchases would be a sensible guess, but are any of these going to appeal to those who already paid for the production of the game?

    The multiplayer online games I play, which rely heavily (or entirely) upon having humans playing your opponents for the challange have one of three methods for ensuring they continue: they charge a sub, either for access or "better" access (more xp etc), micropurchases for game world goods (which is it's own can of worms) or the server code is released in the wild, and your accumulated stats only work on the place you did them. I would assume that at some point if the subs/purchases are not covering the running costs, then no more game for me.

    What happens when E:D runs out of money for servers?

    1. howardfoster

      "What happens when E:D runs out of money for servers?"

      "What happens when E:D runs out of money for servers?"

      E:D goes the same way as Braben's previous Elite-a-like (the one he tried to make without Ian Bell.) and backers facepalm on how they overlooked this episode of Braben history.

      Frontier Worst Encounters. https://web.archive.org/web/20141224032651/http://postimg.org/image/l81t5i8qz/full/

  28. Bbbbit

    Just had a quick look at Oolite. Thanks for all who flagged it up as it looks very promising.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "If you back something on kickstarter"

    "If you back something on kickstarter, you do not get either the protection of a purchase (despite HM customs opinion on it), nor do you get any guarantee as an investor."

    You're wrong on that. Under Kickstarter terms at the time of Elite Dangerous the creator is bound by a contract to deliver the goods or refund the money, contrary to what David Braben has claimed in his refusals of backers' demands for refunds. Card companies and PayPal have ruled that payment protection applies and have made full refunds to Elite Dangerous backers.

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