Page 1 of 1

Critical Mass Feature Request Formalisation Concept

Posted: Sun Jun 25, 2006 2:05 am
by dpm_dpmartin
This forum and its members seem a pretty close knit group who know what they're talking about and appreciate the efforts the games' creator and his small support team has gone to. I don't know whether the games started out as labours of love that grew into more commercial things, or whether that was the intention from the outset, however, I would like to suggest more transparency and, dare I say it, accountability about where the games go.

The big difference between buying these games and buying something off the shelf (the analogy doesn't quite work I think, but I'll run with it) is that you have that bit more personal touch with (probably) a much smaller group of users / players and certainly expert users who contribute to the design of the games. It's certainly the approach I take to my own developments - the user population is king and even though I don't charge, I allow users to feed back with the certain knowledge that I'll act upon things, unless I think it's impossible - or I'm drunk and grumpy or something.

That said, I think a sticky subject for feature requests and the most annoying bugs could be set up so that the user community could vote on them and they would be ranked in order of popularity and, of course, difficulty to achieve and then we'd all get some kind of guarantee that that is the first thing that would be worked on for the new versions... or even a fixpack approach could be implemented. Critical Mass 4.1 could have controllable missiles, network play or allow you to play as a turret - just some ideas I saw bouncing around. Yes, I am focussing on Critical Mass - simply because I think it is the game of the set with the highest potential and the furthest still to go. Slay and Conquest are pretty much polished off in my humble personal player's opinion.

It would all work rather like a Bugzilla... which has proven very effective in the development world - often for open source, but not always. As a user population, we'd know what change request or bug fix had been accepted by the development team, and we might even have a date slated for delivery of it. Just think of it.

The question is... does paying our ?27 for the full set of games give us the right to expect any input into the design, limitations and future features of newer versions of the games? I would hope yes, but I would fear no.

Is this kind of openness desirable / possible?

Posted: Sun Jun 25, 2006 8:32 pm
by Zephyr
I like it!

Not really a bug, but... I would really like to have control over what repair bots repair first. It can be really frustrating flying a heavily damaged ship with all the launchers destroyed, with one fuel depot or transmitter or whatever remaining, and watching your bots repair a radar...then a stealth unit...then another radar...then an engine...then your spare control centre... JUST GIVE ME ONE BLOODY LAUNCHER!! :-)

Posted: Sun Jun 25, 2006 10:16 pm
by Copperhaired Berserker!
Zephyr wrote:I like it!

Not really a bug, but... I would really like to have control over what repair bots repair first. It can be really frustrating flying a heavily damaged ship with all the launchers destroyed, with one fuel depot or transmitter or whatever remaining, and watching your bots repair a radar...then a stealth unit...then another radar...then an engine...then your spare control centre... JUST GIVE ME ONE BLOODY LAUNCHER!! :-)



......Whoa. That is the most uniformed post I ever heard. I mean come on! A banana could make a more intelligent post in his Sleep. A total shame.
We all should know that the order of repair is:

Radar/Stealth/Microwave/Engine/Control Centre/Sowing Machine/Choclate Wrapper/ Reindeer/Packet of crisps/Meaning of life, and everything we know/Kung Fu/James Blunt/Universe

Seriously, I would have expected better from you, Zephyr, I really do.
:evil:

PS. LOLZ J/K LOLZ!!!

Posted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 8:50 am
by Sean OConnor
One problem with this idea though is it doesn't take into account how much time it will take me to implememt something! It's all very well suggesting something like, say, controllable missiles but if it takes me a month to implememt that and get the computer's AI working with it then it's not cost effective for me.

Posted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 9:03 am
by Zephyr
Copperhaired Berserker! wrote:Radar/Stealth/Microwave/Engine/Control Centre/Sowing Machine/Choclate Wrapper/ Reindeer/Packet of crisps/Meaning of life, and everything we know/Kung Fu/James Blunt/Universe


Bots can repair James Blunt? Better take them all off then :lol:

Fair point by Sean - I suppose we *could* all have our ideas implemented, but then the next version of the game would take 10 years to produce and would cost ?200!

Posted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 6:42 pm
by BoxZone_Author
Sean O'Connor wrote:One problem with this idea though is it doesn't take into account how much time it will take me to implememt something! <Snip> it's not cost effective for me.

It's all too easy for us to forget that Sean makes his living doing this, it's not just a hobby for him he has a wife and child (and bank manager) to feed too!
Sean has to consider whether the time he spends improving an existing game will bring in many more sales or whether he should be working on a new game altogether. Unfortunate for us (the CM hard liners) but that's reality.
We need to think about what relatively small things could be (hopefully easily) done to make us happier.
* A 'smarter' repair bot is a possibility (perhaps not user configurable but just smarter, i.e. if I have many scanners but no missle launchers focus on a missile launcher).
* More than the 39 (some claim 40 or 41) custom ship slots.

Posted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 11:17 pm
by umeboshi110
it's definitely 41 for my game--and ya, i would like that bug fixed

Posted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 3:15 pm
by Sean OConnor
umeboshi110 wrote:it's definitely 41 for my game--and ya, i would like that bug fixed


I think I've just fixed this bug!!! If you've bought a copy and would like to give it a test could you send me an email at sean@windowsgames.co.uk and I'll send you a link to get beta copy.

Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2006 3:39 pm
by Zephyr
Yep, that seems to have fixed it! :) Is there a theoretical top limit now, like 99,999 ships or something?

Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2006 4:38 pm
by Sean OConnor
Zephyr wrote:Yep, that seems to have fixed it! :) Is there a theoretical top limit now, like 99,999 ships or something?


Excellent! Thanks! The limit is 300 designs in total and there are 95 predefined ones (I think) so that gives you 205 custom designs.

Ranking of feature requests...

Posted: Thu Jul 06, 2006 3:09 pm
by dpm_dpmartin
My feeling on ranking of feature requests was more so that Sean, and users, could see for sure what people were asking for in the new versions - to formalise it a little bit - just the requests side. Just like any development shop - we, the users, understand that there can be no commitment to deliver a feature (or even a bug-fix) until it is firmly 'in-plan'. Being number 1 on the list does not mean the item will go 'in-plan', it's all about timing, resources, skills etc..

As stated though, ranking of requests could be by popularity and difficulty and Sean could assign the difficulty of these... if something was really popular, but immensely difficult to implement, then it would be number 1 on the list. Of course, doing the popular requests infers the quality of the game will be ever rising and thus it should, logically, attract more buyers.

I don't think it'll get off the ground in this environment to be honest - it was just an idea of how I, and others, could spend our time influencing the progress of the game. Having said that - as I'm not sure if there will be an update to Critical Mass soon or ever - it brings the whole idea into question really.