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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2015 11:13 pm 
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If you care that much, you should go get involved on their forum / with their community. The team has been extremely responsive to Lotharbot and myself when we reached out to them, and we went all the way from "very skeptical" to "putting up an awful lot of money and telling everyone else we were convinced this was the one".

If you want to know what we've learned that has us so convinced, as Descent pilots, that this is different from the last 10,000 attempts, I can point you to things I've written or answer questions or whatever . . . but really, you'd be best off asking your questions directly, either in private or via the forums or whatever. They're awfully responsive, and they give awfully good answers.

I can say specifically with the mircotransactions . . . I'm not worried those will suck. The dev team has said many times and emphatically that they're cosmetic, that everything can be unlocked for free, and that they have no intentions of making the game suck to make a little more money. ("But you can buy ships?" -- It's a shortcut. Unlocking them through gameplay is supposed to be the normal way to do it, as training progresses and piloting skills emerge; that path is the expected one for new players and not intended to suck.)

I'm not sure you'd be able to get a satisfactory demo before the end of the Kickstarter, though. They just got rudimentary multiplayer working like, yesterday, and haven't even made a serious attempt at getting ships to fly how they want or making a tactically viable level. ("You didn't do those things first?" That's what I said, too. Lotharbot's convinced their process is a reasonable one, though, and he talks to them more than I do.) I strongly encouraged them to take a crack at getting the ship physics (speed, size, weapon speed, spaces sizes) how they wanted them and showing that off while we all still had a chance to make up our minds, as I know seeing legit D1 flight mechanics would set a *lot* of minds at ease. I don't know if they'll do it in time; there's a lot going on.

I don't get the impression that they're a design doc kind of shop, though. Not that I have any inside knowledge or anything, but I get a very strong 'grown not built' vibe off of these guys, and they've changed direction on moderate things a couple times during the KS itself. So if there's a detailed grand plan, I'd be very surprised. I think what they're telling us is what they have.

Anyway -- if you'd throw $250k at a sure shot, might it not make sense to investigate and see if what they're doing can persuade you to invest a lower sum? As I said, Lotharbot and I have been super impressed with this project. I'm excited about this in a way I haven't been able to be innocently excited about the next Descent since getting burned by D3. I have literally believed in nothing else between then and now, not even Sol Contingency. You may not come to the same conclusions I did, but this one definitely IS worth your time to seriously check out, if you -- like me -- are the sort of person who would make major sacrifices if a Real Descent was getting built. The forums really are a good place to start with general questions. And if you contact the team directly, either via their chat or Kickstarter messages or whatever, they're pretty darn responsive.


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2015 11:21 pm 
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But if you want a high level overview of what they're trying to do -- this is a really good place to start.


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 12:03 am 
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I think Valin's offering would work as an emergency switch, in case something goes bad on the last days of the KS campaign, and I feel that's a very good offer as it is!

But he's right, to make such a risky investment, he must be really sure he really wants to use his money that way.

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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 12:18 am 
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Someone needs to pump in about 300,000, or this KS is dead.


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 12:37 am 
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Well, I sent a couple of PM's to both Dunkelza and Wingman at the DS forums regarding Valin's posts and their offering (by redirecting them to the posts of Valin).

Call me an oportunist and maybe a cinical, but if they manage to convince Valin's (that BTW is pretty right about being skeptical as an investor, as 250K is not a tiny ammount of cash!), I see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I would really LOVE to see a new Descent game on my Steam Library.
For me as a Descent fan, maybe as big (without trying to presume) as Lothar and Drakona but on the Single-Player and Modding side, seeing Descent: Underground come to its fruition would be like a dream come true, as cheesy and 'romantic' as it may sound. :P

...
(And well... Although I would really like to help D:U as much as I can, I just made a small pledge as I certainly don't have the money that Valin's is able to invest :frown: )

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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 12:41 am 
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This is Descent. It's different for me than just another game.


You're not the only one. In a few recent discussions I've likened Descent to an adopted daughter -- mistreated and neglected after her biological parents' messy divorce, we've loved her and cared for her and nurtured her and watched her grow up and sat by her bedside while she's been in critical condition more than once, and we've put up with way too many boys who say "I love your daughter" who don't really know her and just think she's kinda cute but end up dumping her because they really wanted somebody else after all. And now we've got the chance to chaperone her as this guy (an old Kali pilot) who really seems to love and respect her tries to prove that he can help her grow into a greater version of herself.

Valin Halcyon wrote:
I'd be willing to settle for running their QA for them and being involved ... in the design process...


There may be contractual issues with allowing you the level of control you've asked in conjunction with the Kickstarter, because the reward tiers already promise a fair bit of collaborative involvement to other backers -- and they can't change those rewards. And I don't think they want to; they want community involvement, not single-backer-calling-most-of-the-shots involvement.

You also don't need to drop that sort of coin to be involved in the design process or to have a hand in QA. $600 will get you into the pre-alpha, where you can argue persuasively (or unpersuasively) about the game design and quality, and your arguments will be considered with everyone else's. $10,000 will get you a week on the team -- a real working week, not just hanging out in their lounge playing foosball with the developers, but actually doing whatever work you're capable of doing on the project. Of course, you'd have to work together with the rest of the team, including the other $10k backers.

The current shortfall isn't anywhere close to insurmountable. The kickstarter is fairly likely to succeed (typical kickstarters get 50% of their funding in the last week, and 40% in the last 3 days; this one is just shy of 60%, which puts it right on target.) If you think you want in, check out the design video Drakona posted, see if it's something you want to back, and then jump in for $10k or whatever other reward level looks good to you. If there's still a shortfall with a few hours to go and you want to save the project, you can always buy a few more weeks with the team ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 1:52 am 
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I understand Descent isn't just any game...for pretty much everyone here. I mean, my god, we're STILL here hoping 16 years after D3 released? There's just too many failures to just take some talking heads on youtube to convince me otherwise until I see the game itself. Hell, Orbital had some excellent powerup screenshots. I still have them too.

I'm not looking to be the "Design Overlord", which seems to be what most are taking my comments as. I'd like my company to handle their QA management. This doesn't mean we'd be the go-betweens of the testers and the devs, it just means we'd handle such things as internal replication of reported bugs, focused feature testing, and tester follow up on bug reports. I want in on the design process so I know WTF is going on and what's expected in each build of the game being pushed to testing.

For the record, I have several games behind me now too. As some of you know, I worked at CCP Games for awhile on EVE Online. I haven't been sitting in a corner since 2002 after Descent IV was canceled. :P

If the KS ends up succeeding, Lothar, I'd still be happy to provide these services free of charge (Tips accepted? LOL...) to Descendant Studios. You can never have enough QA, not when it comes to how polished we, the community of players, want and expect Descent to be.

My only real stipulation on bridging the KS to success (if the gap is waaay over the upper reward levels) is to see the GDD (they are living documents, I'll take what they've got) and a tech demo. I don't care if it's rough. I just want to see what they've got and exactly how committed they are to replicating Descent into a new game.


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 1:58 am 
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...and just to take a step toward leaving the skeptics camp...I've put up a small pledge.
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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 11:33 am 
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You know, something this has got me thinking about, the whole "AAA single player campaigns cost a lot of money" thing... As I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that most "AAA" game single player campaigns also generally suck and have very poor or outright zero replay value. Comments like "this won't work for an 'AAA' game because it is too simple and repetitive." really need to go away in the industry.

Seriously, the games that people spend the most time on have all of the variety of a deck of cards. Multiplayer games are hugely repetitive, people spend the most time playing the really simple game modes like "kill the other guys by any means available". Good games are repetitive, the important part of a good game is that the repetition is fun. Variety is nothing but a cover for crappy shallow gameplay that isn't fun or worthwhile. If people can't finish the single player campaign in your game without it having a long and interesting story with a huge variety of challenges, it means your gameplay is boring and your game is objectively bad.

If you have to spend millions of dollars on your single player campaign to make it worthwhile, you are doing it wrong. All the money, time, resources and effort put into an AAA game's single player that revolves around making it look pretty, making the story interesting, cinematics, voice acting, and putting a lot of variety into the campaign, is money, time, resources and effort not spent on making the gameplay itself deep and most importantly fun. No matter how good the plot is, it won't cover up shallow gameplay and that will hurt more than just the single player campaign (it will also be reflected in multiplayer). If you think you need millions of dollars to make a good single player campaign then you should just give up now, it will be a waste of time.

The single player games I have sunk the most time into in the last couple decades are a really short list. The first two are Descent and Descent II (Descent3 single player sucks) and the last one is Just Cause 2. Just Cause 2 has the most plot/voice work/cinematics of any of them, and you can finish the entire story campaign of it in less than a few hours if you concentrate on it. The entire game of Just Cause 2 is a big sandbox where you walk/jump/fly around and blow up government property, the plot is shallow, linear, short, and really corny, the acting is hammy as hell, the missions are all pretty much the same "go to some location and, blow up stuff". It has practically zero variety, most of the bases are built on a obvious repetitive template...and yet people waste months on this game. And the reason they do is because all of that stuff is irrelevant, because the core gameplay of just flying around like an invincible superman, driving vehicles like a lunatic with multiple death wishes, all while destroying government property is FUN.

Literally you can totally half-ass the budget, writing and variety of a single player game and still have it be enormously successful as long as it is really FUN to play. When you guys approach single player, I want you to design a game that would be totally fun and challenging to play over and over again even if it was only the size and length of Descent 1 single player level 7. Worry about making it longer, throwing in a plot, and some variety when you have that short one level game perfected to the point where you don't want to quit playing it.

The thing I really want to proclaim in a loud speaker to basically the entire modern gaming industry is: If I wanted a movie I would go to Hollywood. This "AAA game single player needs a deep and interesting plot with lots of gameplay variety" idea is a horrible one and has had a major negative impact on the quality of games in the last decade. A good game does not need a elaborate plot or a lot of variety or fancy graphics, a good game only needs to be fun.


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 12:05 pm 
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Valin Halcyon wrote:
My only real stipulation on bridging the KS to success (if the gap is waaay over the upper reward levels) is to see the GDD (they are living documents, I'll take what they've got) and a tech demo. I don't care if it's rough. I just want to see what they've got and exactly how committed they are to replicating Descent into a new game.


Dunkelza said that for that you may want to contact Phil "Bluedog" Tittle, that is the project manager for Descendent Studios.
He (Phil) is the one able to settle something (so you may get the documents and stuff you're asking for).

Why don't you give it a shot? You can send a Private Message to Phil here: http://descendentstudios.com/community/ ... 9-bluedog/
:)

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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 12:24 pm 
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Wow -- well said, Krom. I couldn't agree more.

A few people over on the DU forums have said something similar -- "I loved what Descent's single player was, can't you just make that?" Yeah. I feel the same way. Don't worry so much about how you look, you know? Make something awesome as you define it to be.

In fact, I'm a bit concerned about that. They originally said, "No single player" and now they're saying, "Short single player with puzzles." Like, that really wasn't the direction I was hoping that would go. Puzzles only play once. What was so cool about Descent's single player was that it was a lot of fights, and they rarely went the same way twice, and you could try doing things a lot of different ways. Man, I still play Descent single player. I love it. (Well, I don't play the original campaign so much since RevoDrav came out. MAN I LOVE REVODRAV.) I think if they don't recapture that, they'll have some disappointed fans. But we'll see. They're pretty sensitive to disappointing fans.

But I remember playing the most recent Half Life, and it was kinda epic the first time through. But I started into it for a second run and then was like, "Nah . . . I'm not feelin' it." Maybe it's that I never found that particular story that compelling in the first place, though. The gold standard of single player for me is still Freespace.

. . . with a nod to Starcraft II. That had pretty good single player.


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 12:39 pm 
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Back to Valin . . .

For what it's worth, when I first got involved with the project, my attitude was also, "Can I buy enough control to personally ensure this turns out ok?" Or like, failing that, I need strong assurances that this will not suck, or you're getting no money out of me.

It's an understandable attitude for someone to have, when they're used to Descent reboots failing, when they've had to personally and recently rescue Descent from sucking (*ahem* ;) ) and they see a new project being run by people they don't recognize as pilots. Well-intentioned people make crappy Descent reboots all the time. It's a touchy, error-prone process, and it's very easy to let the magic out. I recently had to find the magic and put it back in. I know, maybe better than anyone, how easy it is to screw up Descent and how hard it is to get it right.

Given all that, take my full meaning here: I ultimately came around to trusting this team to do it right. That sort of faith from me is very hard to win. These guys really are something special.

In fact, I am one of those programmers who entertains dreams of Rebooting Descent Right Some Day, and I came around to thinking this team is likely to do a better job than I would. That doesn't mean I won't take my own shot someday anyway, but . . . maybe there will be less riding on it, now. These guys are gonna do it right, and I am behind them 100%. My thoughts are no longer along the lines of, "How much can I keep this from sucking?" but "How much help can I offer? How awesome can I make this?"

I've seen a lot of other old pilots come around in a similar way. So I'm not kidding. Get involved. And don't skip steps -- give them as much help as you feel is warranted, but take the time to ask your questions and let them prove themselves to you.

And the great thing about this team is that you don't have to put in huge amounts of money and expertise to have an impact on the final product. Take a look at Proving Grounds -- that thing isn't a gimmick to get $600 out of us. The $600 is to separate the people who seriously care from the blabbers. They're assembling a group of pilots who care enough about the balance of the game that they will pay serious money to be able to affect it, and they're going to use that group to make the game good. This is very cool, and -- for the opportunity it represents to a serious Descent pilot -- very affordable. This is not a tourist group, assembling the most hardcore parts of their community and developing in concert with them is the core development process. No single pilot will have control of the outcome, every serious pilot's voice will be heard EARLY IN DEVELOPMENT. I cannot even begin to express how much I approve of this.

Can't afford Proving grounds? Get in on the alpha or the beta. They listen to people who know what they're talking about. They took my suggestions on making the game right very seriously before I had even decided to back the project.

I am already doing everything I can between finances and offering expertise to make this thing rock. Sounds like you would too, if you were convinced. So check it out. And whatever you decide to do, however much you help, awesome. This is the one, I'm totally convinced. Let's make it rock.


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 1:08 pm 
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Why do I see suggestions for game designers to develop new games, and freelancers are ready to make a good game for the payment of 100 thousand dollars? And they are ready to give a result within 3 - 6 months...


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 1:27 pm 
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As a D1 SP guy who still plays on a regual basis, I want to echo what has been said about single-player campaigns. (For the record I've only played about an hour of multi-player my whole life, just not into it.)

You know what I want? I want an interesting color palate and cool looking robots that do weird shit. That's it. I don't need a storyline or cutscenes. The backstory is enough. I don't care about puzzles either, they are kind of a drag. I want to fly around and shoot robots with lasers.

D2 had good robots but a shitty palate and a bunch of retarded weapons I never used. D3 levels had too much dead air. You could literally just repackage D1 SP with new robots and graphics and I would buy it in a heartbeat.


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 1:48 pm 
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No kidding.

I've got Revenge of Dravis in the mean time, though. Have I mentioned I like Revenge of Dravis? If you're into D1 single player, you really should check out Revenge of Dravis. Revenge of Dravis is pretty good.


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 1:53 pm 
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Drakona wrote:
No kidding.

I've got Revenge of Dravis in the mean time, though. Have I mentioned I like Revenge of Dravis? If you're into D1 single player, you really should check out Revenge of Dravis. Revenge of Dravis is pretty good.


I hear it's good for coop, too.

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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 2:41 pm 
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Valin Halcyon wrote:
I understand Descent isn't just any game...for pretty much everyone here. I mean, my god, we're STILL here hoping 16 years after D3 released? There's just too many failures to just take some talking heads on youtube to convince me otherwise until I see the game itself. Hell, Orbital had some excellent powerup screenshots. I still have them too.

I'm not looking to be the "Design Overlord", which seems to be what most are taking my comments as. I'd like my company to handle their QA management. This doesn't mean we'd be the go-betweens of the testers and the devs, it just means we'd handle such things as internal replication of reported bugs, focused feature testing, and tester follow up on bug reports. I want in on the design process so I know WTF is going on and what's expected in each build of the game being pushed to testing.

For the record, I have several games behind me now too. As some of you know, I worked at CCP Games for awhile on EVE Online. I haven't been sitting in a corner since 2002 after Descent IV was canceled. :P

If the KS ends up succeeding, Lothar, I'd still be happy to provide these services free of charge (Tips accepted? LOL...) to Descendant Studios. You can never have enough QA, not when it comes to how polished we, the community of players, want and expect Descent to be.

My only real stipulation on bridging the KS to success (if the gap is waaay over the upper reward levels) is to see the GDD (they are living documents, I'll take what they've got) and a tech demo. I don't care if it's rough. I just want to see what they've got and exactly how committed they are to replicating Descent into a new game.


I know that Pumo has already posted a link to Phil's "BlueDog" profile at Descendent Studios- he can certainly be reached there.

If you're rather, PM me your preferred contact details and I will pass them on to him and try to get him to contact you.

Thank you for your interest and your pledge!

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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 2:50 pm 
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Krom wrote:
<Snip>...
When you guys approach single player, I want you to design a game that would be totally fun and challenging to play over and over again even if it was only the size and length of Descent 1 single player level 7. Worry about making it longer, throwing in a plot, and some variety when you have that short one level game perfected to the point where you don't want to quit playing it.


I think you will be happy with the mini-campaign that is coming with the multiplayer.

IIRC, it is focused on getting the SP gameplay right more than the epic storyline with cutscenes and stuff. They might have some of that, but what I'm hearing sounds like the leads want to get the feel right with that mini campaign so that those lessons can be taken into the longer campaign.

As with the rest of the game, the mini campaign is intended to be a source of feedback and tweaking with the community, not simply a "dump and done". When these guys say they want community involvement, they're dead serious- even if they're all goofy on camera. ;)

Oh, and to my knowledge, nobody at DS thinks "The Order: 1886" is a good example of single player- the goal isn't super pretty, it's super engaging.

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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 2:54 pm 
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The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced: Variety is bad. Variety is evil. Variety is the natural enemy of balanced core gameplay. The more stuff you pile into a game, the less likely the foundation is going to hold it up. This is true of both single and multi-player games. Descent 1 doesn't have much variety, but that is what makes its foundation so solid. I'm plenty sure that if you just took Descent 1 and added on a bunch more weapons and a half dozen more ships, even its foundation would crack and crumble.

From the sounds of it, these guys are talking quite a handful of ships here, along with dozens of customizations per ship, leading to possibly hundreds of combinations. To be perfectly blunt, I have absolutely zero confidence that any team of any size and composition could pull off preserving core gameplay balance against that kind of variety. It is just not humanly possible, time and time again I've seen similar attempts fail. Seeing that on the kickstarter page was an immediate red flag and alarm bells to me. "Dozens of ships, with dozens more customizations!" == "Failure is the only option."

Descent3 tried going at it with 3 ships and no further customizations than that, I'd say it failed miserably. At least when I was still playing the vast majority of people who mattered had gone to either the Phoenix or the Magnum. The Pyro was the Jack of All Trades, Master of None; which somehow managed to achieve having none of the strengths while combining all of the weaknesses of the other two ships in one inconvenient package. And I'm saying all that even though I love the Pyro, it is my favorite ship. :( (People flying the add-on Black Pyro would get laughed out of most games, it was only really good at killing Phoenixes, just nothing it could do would save it in a cage match with a Magnum.) Really, at more than 3 ships, it has gone way beyond "variety" and is deep into the abyss called "total lack of focus". The game could still succeed, but it it will likely be because the community will simply ignore or outright ban all but two or three of them.

Many games I've tried over the years have advertisements like "more than 50 weapons to try out!", but, if you are extremely lucky, about 3 of them will be worth the time it took for you to read the description. I read advertisements like that as "48 worthless shitty weapons you have to wade through to find the 2 good ones which you can't carry at the same time because that would break what little gameplay we have left after modeling and animating so much crap". So it is forced compromise, in the name of variety, at the expense of core gameplay. A good counter example I'd make is Left 4 Dead 1: Choose one from three Really Good Weapons + Really Good Pistols you always get. I could play every ground pounding first person shooter game in the universe with the Left 4 Dead Pistols + 1 from the tier 2 loadout. I still like L4D1 more than L4D2 because all the extra variety in 2 felt like mud in the previously clear water, it was different, but it it was not better.

You know, I feel like I'm being kind of negative here, I don't think it is a bad project and the team working on it sound like they know how to build a decent game to me. Most of all they were able to convince Drakona and Lothar which is pretty effective marketing in my book. I guess I just don't want to see this project go down some of these modern gaming routes which time and time again have proven to be really bad ideas.


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 2:59 pm 
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To echo Krom: adding variety to a game is a magnet for the 'popular gear' line of thinking. You'll get a few upper-echelon people start to use a select few pieces of equipment and once the popularity meme hits, no one is going to use anything BUT what was deemed popular.


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 4:25 pm 
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Yeah, you're dead right, Krom. If they manage to make that 8 ship team v team mode into something I want to play for longer than a week, I'll eat my hat. As impressed as I am with the game design chops of this team, I just don't think it can be done.

Here's what I was told that brought me around in spite of that: that game mode isn't for me. It's a training mode for people who have never played Descent before, as the vast majority of backers on this project have not. That mode is to excite people for whom ZOMG I can fly UP?? is an exciting new thought. It exists so someone totally new to piloting can learn how to fly while doing less piloting-intensive-things than straight combat. They can look for secrets and powerups, they can make delivery runs, they can follow teammates around providing scouting or support or healing. Think about it -- if you were trying to get someone into Descent who had never flown before, isn't that kinda . . . perfect? Haven't you ever tried to get someone into the game, and had them just . . . not have enough fun to make it worth putting in the time to get to the REALLY good part?

That's what that mode is for. It's so that while someone is still trying to get the hang of triple chording, they can work on that instead of constantly dying in a dogfight with me because of 10 different skills they don't yet have. There are also in-your-face combat roles in that game, and the idea is that as people get better at it, they may be more attracted to those rules, and then they find themselves interested in anarchy. Or maybe not. Some people may stay at that level.

But the idea with the roles is to provide a gentler, friendlier, gamier introduction to Descent than any of us had.

It's not my cup of tea. But it's also not for me. Me complaining that that mode isn't anarchy is like complaining that single player isn't a ladder match. Of course it isn't. It's preparation for that. The confusion is that Descent players look at that and think main-multiplayer-mode=replacement-for-anarchy. But it's not. It's something new, something 21st century that Descent actually kinda needs.

But it's not for me.

I'm going to be playing anarchy from day 1, on a server that's banned all the ships except the we-can't-call-it-a-pyro, on a server that's turned off ALL the voxel radar training wheels crap and is JUST. ANARCHY. (Unless I find, in the interrim, that I've somehow wound up eating a hat. ;) )

Nor is anarchy an afterthought. It's the in-world sports arena, and it was before they even knew Descenters still existed. They've been talking about building matchmaking and rankings and regular tournaments and 1v1 ladders and developing new competitive game modes since day 1 of this thing.

That's the part of the game that's being built for me, and I think it is very likely to rock.

The other part -- if they can get a whole bunch of teenage groundpounders, Star Citizen fans, Freespace fans, whatever -- if they can get those people to at least try Descent and maybe get some of them hooked on 6dof and looking to get into anarchy, like. wow. That's what the devs have said is the explicit goal of that mode. It's supposed to be a good game in its own right, too, but the goal is to build a new generation of Descenters instead of just appealing to old ones? Godspeed, guys.


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 4:54 pm 
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dunkelza wrote:
If you're rather, PM me your preferred contact details and I will pass them on to him and try to get him to contact you.


Done! Look forward to hearing from him.


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 6:06 pm 
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Valin Halcyon wrote:
dunkelza wrote:
If you're rather, PM me your preferred contact details and I will pass them on to him and try to get him to contact you.


Done! Look forward to hearing from him.


And done!

I can't promise anything, but they're pretty nice folks.

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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2015 1:42 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2015 9:53 am 
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Drakona wrote:
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

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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2015 12:57 pm 
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To the community at large:
Please stop trying to make parallel contact attempts for me.
Please stop sending me messages with a conspiratorial tone.

I've made contact with Descendant Studios myself, thanks. If anything comes up of note which I am explicitly allowed to share, trust me, it will be. :)

We may not have always had the best of relationships, but I realize that it was always due to the strain of wanting to be sure Descent was well done. That no aspect of which we loved was forgotten or marginalized. It's an emotionally charged thing, this relationship we have with Descent. With luck, 13 years additional wisdom and experience, things will work out well now.


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2015 1:09 pm 
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Valin Halcyon wrote:
..Please stop sending me messages with a conspiratorial tone.


Oh my, you're getting that kind of messages?!?

I understand the parallel messages, and you may blame it a bit for that, as I contacted you, Dunkelza and Wingman in an effort to help both you and them to get in contact.

But are you also receiving messages with such a weird tone? :shock:

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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2015 1:40 pm 
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homeyduh wrote:
Drakona wrote:
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

I agree that in order to create good new Descent need inspiration, not marketing.


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2015 1:41 pm 
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So...

How about them Mets?

Or, rather...

Any new questions/observations about Descent: Underground?

Anyone planning a gathering for the end of the Kickstarter?

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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2015 2:02 pm 
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dunkelza, what your nickname in the multiplayer Descent 1-2-3? If it is not a secret.


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2015 2:11 pm 
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sigma wrote:
dunkelza, what your nickname in the multiplayer Descent 1-2-3? If it is not a secret.


When I am on, I use the same name.

I have played some games recently, but not many. The Kickstarter demands a lot of attention from many people.

I am a bad pilot, though, so I am not a challenge.

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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2015 2:15 pm 
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homeyduh wrote:
Drakona wrote:
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.)


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2015 3:21 pm 
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dunkelza wrote:
sigma wrote:
dunkelza, what your nickname in the multiplayer Descent 1-2-3? If it is not a secret.


When I am on, I use the same name.

I have played some games recently, but not many. The Kickstarter demands a lot of attention from many people.

I am a bad pilot, though, so I am not a challenge.

I mean, that play together in coop is a fabulous pleasure )


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2015 4:08 pm 
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Drakona wrote:
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.

The one caveat I personally hold about this viewpoint is that it can potentially devolve into a situation where the design team becomes so swayed back-and-forth by public opinion that they lose sight of their original vision for the project. Design-by-committee has a lot of inherent risks involved, and if it happens that competing desires start pulling in different directions, the entire thing can wind up falling apart. Not to fall into the trap of appealing to authority, but just as our community are the ones who know the finer points of Descent gameplay like no one else, the Descendent Studios team are the ones who are actual veteran game designers, and as such they have a much better grasp on general trends in game design and theory than I think the vast majority of us do. They had an original concept for a new Descent game that they initially brought to the table, and while I'm certainly very grateful that they've been as receptive to our community as they have been, I still want their core vision to shine through. I'm not saying that any of this is happening or will happen in this case, but it is something to consider.

There's also the fact that not everyone in this community loved Descent for the exact same reasons. You and Lothar have made it very clear that you're looking for this game to recapture the magic of top-level D1 play, and that's awesome. Honestly I've been blown away by the sheer level of passion that comes through in every one of your incredibly-written posts on just what made Descent tick. At the same time, though, that side of Descent was never what captured my personal interest: I've never played a moment of D1 multi (and precious little of D2), and as I've said before, pure anarchy/deathmatch mostly lost its luster for me a while back. What really interests me about this project is the class-based side of things: not as mere training for higher-level combat, but as something worthwhile in its own right. Hopefully there's enough room for everyone to coexist and find their own little corner of fun gameplay.

Anyways, at this point I'm just hoping that all this talk doesn't wind up going up in smoke. I know most Kickstarters tend to get a huge boost near the very end, but we're not even 2/3 of the way there, and we're nearly out of time. We need that total to start jumping up now, if not yesterday.


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2015 5:17 pm 
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Drakona wrote:
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.

Not to derail the topic, but Rebirth and Sol have completely different goals. Rebirth is primarily a Linux port of D1/D2 and tries hard to keep the code as close to the original as possible. That's all. I don't see how there needs to be huge community involvement in a port. The only place I ever saw conflict was with the homing missiles since the feel of them had to be simulated, but ultimately Zico bent to the community since it was kind of a gray area. I am 100% thankful for Rebith since I play it nearly every day. It's helping keep the game alive, that is for sure.


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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2015 5:47 pm 
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Top Gun wrote:
The one caveat I personally hold about this viewpoint is that it can potentially devolve into a situation where the design team becomes so swayed back-and-forth by public opinion that they lose sight of their original vision for the project. Design-by-committee has a lot of inherent risks involved, and if it happens that competing desires start pulling in different directions, the entire thing can wind up falling apart. Not to fall into the trap of appealing to authority, but just as our community are the ones who know the finer points of Descent gameplay like no one else, the Descendent Studios team are the ones who are actual veteran game designers, and as such they have a much better grasp on general trends in game design and theory than I think the vast majority of us do. They had an original concept for a new Descent game that they initially brought to the table, and while I'm certainly very grateful that they've been as receptive to our community as they have been, I still want their core vision to shine through. I'm not saying that any of this is happening or will happen in this case, but it is something to consider.

There's also the fact that not everyone in this community loved Descent for the exact same reasons. You and Lothar have made it very clear that you're looking for this game to recapture the magic of top-level D1 play, and that's awesome. Honestly I've been blown away by the sheer level of passion that comes through in every one of your incredibly-written posts on just what made Descent tick. At the same time, though, that side of Descent was never what captured my personal interest: I've never played a moment of D1 multi (and precious little of D2), and as I've said before, pure anarchy/deathmatch mostly lost its luster for me a while back. What really interests me about this project is the class-based side of things: not as mere training for higher-level combat, but as something worthwhile in its own right. Hopefully there's enough room for everyone to coexist and find their own little corner of fun gameplay.

Anyways, at this point I'm just hoping that all this talk doesn't wind up going up in smoke. I know most Kickstarters tend to get a huge boost near the very end, but we're not even 2/3 of the way there, and we're nearly out of time. We need that total to start jumping up now, if not yesterday.


These are very valid concerns. The good news here is that Wingman and crew have experience threading this needle. Their most recent project involved a great deal of back-and-forth with the community and ultimately a certain amount of explaining why certain (sometimes unpopular) decisions had to be made for the good of the game. Just a quick look at their videos and updates will, I think, demonstrate both that willingness to listen and the eagerness to explain decisions and the rationale behind them. There's even a post explaining the rationale behind choosing Unreal Engine 4:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/de ... ts/1176030

To my mind, one of the richer features of some modern games (certainly not all) is that there doesn't need to be ONE "end game". For some people, the "end game" might be 1v1 ladder matches. For others, it might be building a gaming organization (a "corporation" in this case) with friends and achieving certain goals related to that. Still other people might want to master non-combat roles and gameplay, challenging themselves to become feared not for their kills but for their ability to change the battlefield. Other people might be more interested in metagames, writing roleplay narratives in their heads and then using the missions as levers to affect political and/or economic outcomes in the storyline world. And yet still others might see the "end game" as something very narrow- say the most kills with a specific missile in Team Anarchy matches...

I think that Rob and Wingman and the crew hold a similar sensibility about the need for a rich palette of experiences. Successful games are successful because they a special to different people in different ways. If anyone can bring that magic to a new Descent, I think it's them.

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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2015 6:28 pm 
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To build on Drakona's point about what makes this attempt different:

A lot of the new game attempts we've seen over the years should be characterized as more like "generic 6dof" than "Descent-like". People basically did their own thing with flight mechanics, weapon speeds, weapon balance, etc. Now, Descent also did its own thing with those factors, but it happened upon a very fun formula -- both in SP and MP, the ship itself is fun to fly, it's fun (and possible!) to dodge shots, your ship is rarely paralyzed by being badly knocked around or blinded or temporarily disabled or stuck to something. On a higher level, there's a ton of tactical decision-making and richness that comes out of the particular way the weapons are balanced, the way trichording affects speed, the trajectories homing missiles follow, etc. and a lot of attempts have resulted in games with considerably less tactical richness because they've gone a very different direction with those things and haven't built something cool to replace them. Even Descent 3 was a little bit disappointing on this front, but not nearly as bad as Forsaken, Miner Wars, Into Cerberon, etc.

A much smaller number of new attempts we've seen, I'd characterize as "purist remakes". That's more or less the philosophy behind Rebirth/Retro, GeoCore, and SolC. I definitely like purist remakes, but they have certain significant limitations. One of them is that they're only as good as the pilots who are involved in the process -- zico made homing missiles that were adequately similar to the original for a pilot at his skill level, but radically different for expert pilots, and that was a blind spot for him that took a huge amount of effort by other pilots to correct (on the plus side, he had expert pilots in the testing pipeline, and he did eventually take their analysis and fix the homers.) He did a ton of great work to get the game to the state it was in, but that small error was a source of significant friction and heartache in the pilot community. Another major limitation of purist remakes is that they're essentially games for a dwindling community. There are around 250 people involved in the SolC forums, around 100 active D1/2 multiplayer pilots between Rangers, DCL, and the oldschool crew, a few dozen D3 pilots, and a few hundred more single player enthusiasts spread between Rebirth/Retro and D2x-XL. A brand new purist remake could bring most of that crowd around, but suffers from the problem that brand new pilots are going to find it very difficult to get into. I'll probably love GeoCore and SolC, much like I love Retro, and so will a few hundred other people, and occasionally one of us will get a friend into it too.

The thing that makes D:U stand out is that it's a professional grade, purist-core, mass-appeal game. It's targeting the right flight mechanics, and has included expert pilots and analysts and developers in the process of getting that right. It's designed with the learning curve for new pilots in mind, to let people who have never played Descent get better at flying without the "Jediluke Experience". It's being built by a team that knows how to make an excellent game, that can do top-caliber art and game psychology and toolsmithing and data analysis and marketing. And it doesn't suffer from the drawbacks normally associated with a top-level team -- they're not beholden to PTMC corporate BS, they're not just a bunch of game designers without any Descent experience, they're not looking to pump-and-dump a half-built game and then move on to the next thing. It's being made by industry pros who already love Descent, who are working with the community, and who have a plan to make it into a multi-year endeavor that stays true to Descent while also expanding on what made it great. And I think they can actually do it.

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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2015 2:25 pm 
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*Sigh* I can't help it but I'm still feeling a bit worried.
There are just 4 days left on the Kickstarter campaign, and it still needs 38% to succeed!

I know there will be a final rush on the last 48 hours of the campaign, but I feel afraid that it may not fully reach the $600,000 goal.
Please any Descenter here, unite and spread the word as much as possible and let's make this happen! :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2015 3:18 pm 
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DBB Ace
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Pumo wrote:
*Sigh* I can't help it but I'm still feeling a bit worried.
There are just 4 days left on the Kickstarter campaign, and it still needs 38% to succeed!

I know there will be a final rush on the last 48 hours of the campaign, but I feel afraid that it may not fully reach the $600,000 goal.
Please any Descenter here, unite and spread the word as much as possible and let's make this happen! :wink:


This is definitely still doable.

A bit of a nail-biter, but hey, Descent's been counted out before- let's make sure that's "never again".

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 Post subject: Re: Questions about Descent: Underground?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2015 3:34 pm 
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For those interested in Single Player, they just put up a video about it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydnQQ_JC14Y

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