I have literally believed in nothing else between then and now, not even Sol Contingency.
Sorry to detract from the conversation, but I've seen you say this a few times.How come? O.o
How come I haven't believed in anything else? Or how come I am still skeptical about Sol Contingency specifically? Or how come I made an exception for DU?
I haven't believed in anything else because making a good Descent is easy to screw up, and the more people I watched try and fail, the more ways to screw it up I learned about. I don't believe in projects that look like they're going to fail in ways I already know about.
Why am I skeptical about Sol Contingency? It's in the same failure mode as Rebirth: the broad piloting community doesn't have enough influence over the project. Both projects are led by people with good intentions, people who want to make a faithful Descent as they understand the term, people who hope pilots will like what they're doing and want what they're doing to be popular with pilots . . . but who don't take feedback from pilots seriously enough to actually and frequently change direction to account for it, even on big things. And Descent is a game that can die if you don't get even small things right, so you have to be extremely
sensitive to the community. Rebirth and Sol Contingency are run by people who like pilots, but who don't see involving pilots in the design process as critical to success. They're noble attempts, but building a good Descent is too hard a target to hit for guessing at what people want to be a good enough process to get you there.
Why do I make an exception for DU?
They have three critical factors for success that have been in place on every successful Descent project.
(1) Technical design chops. They know how to build a game. They know how to balance a game. They know how to lead a community. In a nutshell, they know how to get stuff done
. This one isn't specific to a 6DoF, but if you don't have it, you wind up building freeware-quality stuff.
(2) Good intentions. They are specifically setting out to recapture the magic of D1 and maybe D2 anarchy. That's what they remember fondly. That's what they want to introduce to a new generation. What they are trying
to do is the same thing as what I want
to play. This would be different if they were trying
to rebuild D3, or if they were trying
to make money off an idea or if they were trying
to experiment with a novel take on 6DoF combat and be potentially revolutionary in a unique way. This project has the right goals to turn into something I want. They are not specifically looking to recreate D1 exactly
, but the thing they want to imitate, the piece they want to recreate, the magic of D1 anarchy -- that is the right goal to have. And they are making major sacrifices to be able to accomplish that goal -- e.g., insisting on maintaining control of the project and funding it through fans, so they don't have to make gameplay compromises to please a publisher.
(3) Community involvement. They seek to develop the game in concert with their community. They have pursued and treasured input from top pilots, from average pilots, from pilots of any stripe. Tom tells me the creative director was almost in tears when he discovered there was a modern Descent community that he could use to refine his game. That's how much they care about pilots. DS has changed direction to account for pilot feedback, have a historical reputation for a high degree of community-involvement in other games they've built, and have engineered pilot input into the heart of their development process. They believe, in the very core of their beings, that getting real pilots to fly this as early as possible is critical
to making the game good, and they know it's expertise they can't provide themselves.
This is the process that has been used by literally every successful (from a community standpoint) Descent project. It's the process D1x used. It's the process I use on Retro. It's the process that is lacking in well-intentioned Descent projects that fall flat. And most critically, their version of it is better
than I've seen proposed before. It's more pilots, it's a broader group, it's earlier and tighter involvement in design, with developers who care more, than I can say about any project. I don't think even I do community involvement this well, and the piloting community feels like they collectively own
Retro (which they do).
Anyway. I hope that answers your question. Given what they're proposing to do and who the DU guys are, I think there is every likelihood that they will nail
this thing. They're avoiding every failure mode I know about, so if they find a new one, it'll be something I don't know about . . . but given everything I know about Descent projects that have succeeded and failed, I don't expect this one to fail. Quite the contrary. I won't be surprised if the result of a process like this is the best Descent of the series. I won't even be that
surprised if they succeed at their goal of making Descent mainstream, since the community involvement process I described with hardcore pilots is also
the process they use with the larger never-played-Descent-before-but-believe-in-DS-to-make-something-good crowd of backers.
It's an ambitious goal, but I honestly think this could be better than D1 (as an old bear of an anarchy pilot would understand that) and that its anarchy mode could prove more popular than D1, D2, an D3's put together was. (In absolute terms. We really did only have a few thousand serious pilots, and I think this thing has a lot of potential to go beyond that.)