In a lengthy update on Kickstarter the developers behind Scorn, Ebb Software, explain why the game has been delayed. Scorn was re-introduced to the public back in 2020, in a Microsoft showcase. Back in September the team at Ebb Software – maybe by mistake – already revealed a delay as Ebb joined a developer collective called Kepler. In the press release about he forming of the group, 2022 was already mentioned.
You can read the Kickstarter update below:
In this update, we will highlight the most common issues people have regarding this project and the reasoning behind some of our decisions. We have addressed some of these issues before but we will repeat them once more. Because, if you want to create something ambitious and consciously (or not so much) bite on something that you can barely chew (scope and production-wise), especially the first time around, you have to set up priorities and keep less important things to a minimum.
What were we doing since the latest trailer was released in October last year?
There is no big revelation here. We were just developing a game and that is nothing more to it than that. A year is not such a big period when it comes to game development. Some people really, really dislike us staying silent for such long periods. It’s that way by design for a few reasons. The only thing that will get the game out of the door faster is concentrating all the effort on development. That is our main priority.
There is a reason why big companies show CG trailers done by some other studio. They don’t want to interrupt the development team in the middle of production. CD Projekt RED had great PR for Cyberpunk 2077 but that didn’t help when the final game. Cyberpunk 2077 should’ve been delayed for a year, but the hype and the pressure from shareholders were more important. Maybe if they didn’t push their developers to create marketing content they could’ve put more time into fixing the game.
No amount of updates are going to make the game better, or make it come out sooner, quite the opposite. It’s just more tasks on the already enormous list of tasks to finish. It’s time-consuming to make your game look presentable to the public. That is done at the very end of the development process.
The problem of “Hype”
“Hype” can be a big problem if you need it at the beginning, but still need to work on a project for a considerable amount of time afterward. We didn’t do the marketing for the market, but for the potential investors. We are going to do proper marketing close to release. Presenting the game constantly just creates a vicious cycle. Every update creates anticipation, that turns into disappointment for some because the game is not out yet. We realize the frustration, but at the end of the day, we think it’s better to lay low and have most people put the game out of their minds than constantly bait them.
The reason we needed the hype, in the beginning, is rather simple. Let’s imagine that we live in some magical world where out of nowhere you just receive all the resources for the game you want to make as a completely unproven, new studio. In this magical scenario, the public wouldn’t know about our game because we wouldn’t announce it until 6 months before the release (whenever that may be) and then just have a steady stream of marketing (hype) up until release.
But in the reality we inhabit, nobody will even acknowledge you if they don’t see the “hype” upfront. This is why we showed the game (not some vain idea of showing off the work) and now we are stuck with the expectation to constantly feed the beast for years. We decided not to go that route, as we want to finish the game in the shortest time possible.
Yes, handling the time leading up to release is really bad on our end, but as much as our financial situation has improved we still have to dedicate resources to specific things, and we think that creating a good game should receive the overwhelming majority of our attention, rather than trying to constantly keep the marketing flames going. How we spent the time leading up to release should not be of consequence on the release date. Only the quality of the game will.
It’s a strange thing, if some didn’t know the game existed they would enjoy the 6 months of marketing and then the game, but now the very knowledge of its existence feels unbearable to them. Even if it turns out to be a great game they simply won’t be able to enjoy it because my god they knew about it for so long. Some people just burn out on the hype. If we released it on time and it sucked they would forget about it in a day.
Development hell is a term that is thrown around quite often. It should be used on projects that changed their core idea or scope mid-dev and can’t adjust to. That doesn’t apply to our products for the most part. In our case, a lot of mistakes were made and will make more in the future, but it’s a normal process for a new, inexperienced team. Everything that was done up until the middle of 2018 has been reworked, 90% of it completely scrapped. It’s about making it what we want it to be, not releasing it just because we gave some arbitrary release date. If it’s not ready, it’s not ready. Why would people want to play something that the developers think it’s still not up to par?
Microsoft, Kowloon, Kepler deals
People are wary of big companies and for a good reason most of the time, but in our case, it was nothing but support from everyone involved. We are even surprised by how smooth everything has been. Some think that influx of resources would create more problems and that we should finish the game with as little resources.
Creating an interesting and engaging game requires time and resources. Period. Money is what allows us to create something of quality. Enthusiasm alone can only take you so far. We are obliged to periodically give them updates on the progress, but the builds that we are sending them are the builds we are making anyways. These builds don’t have to be polished as industry people understand unfinished builds (games in development). For the general public things need to be polished. That is a major difference. Some people just want to see the progress and don’t care that it’s work in progress, but others will judge it as a finished product.
We hope to create a great game and our backers will receive that great game, that is the bottom line and our main goal. We will get there sooner with as few distractions as possible. If people want to stay with us till the end, great, if they don’t want to, we still offer a way out.
For the record, yes, the game has slipped into 2022 and we will have an official confirmation of the delay on the 10th of December. It was supposed to be announced in October, but circumstances out of our control postponed it. If it turns out not to be on the 10th by our or someone else’s will, don’t hold it too much against us.
And for the end, a bit of friendly advice: If lack of communication is so bothersome just ask for a refund and be done with it. It’s just a game. You can play it when it’s out if you are still interested.”
As you can see the tone is quite hostile, which the studio also noticed. A second statement was released on Kickstarter shortly thereafter by the CEO of Ebb Software. With the following text:
My name is Ljubomir Peklar and I’m the CEO of Ebb Software and also the creative director of the game. I take full responsibility for the last update that you received from our KS yesterday. I quickly and haphazardly read through the draft of the update and in all my wisdom approved it. Reading through again it was clear that the hostile tone it was written in should not be how we should express ideas or plans to people that help us out. We may be tired, confused and frustrated at our own ineptitude, but there is no reason to lash out at you. For that I personally apologise. I will do my best for this kind of outburst not to happen again.
We will do a proper update regarding all the raised concerns on Monday,