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Can We Meet The Tsw Dev Team?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by jonnynguyen1123, Nov 9, 2018.

  1. jonnynguyen1123

    jonnynguyen1123 New Member

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    Sadly, and a bit annoyingly, I see a lot of negative noise in 'the other place', aimed at DTG and its motives. Mostly, it's angry (sometimes justifiably, sometimes not) people who make assumptions-in-the-dark about what they think DTG is up to, and why, just sounding off to increasing degrees. In the darkness, these voices often get paranoid and conspiracy-theorist, because there is no light shined into their dark places.

    Whilst I don't condone it or agree with it, I do understand why people sometimes leap to those conclusions. Usually, it's done in the absence of knowledge (or the pretense of it), without understanding or empathy, and it's human nature to assume that if you hear nothing positive to counteract your negative proposal, then your negative view must be right. Or if the positive stuff you hear seems to take forever to come true, then you're being snowed or even lied-to. Never mind the reality that good stuff takes time to make, and that tricky, massive projects are in fact quite tricky and pretty massive to make, and it's only 'people' that make them... not gods or magicians.

    The net result is some people have, in my opinion, very much the wrong view of DTG, and DTG seems to struggle to make their intentions and activities understood. Now, I know that there are some things which it's best for a development team to keep secret, or at the very least to avoid pinning down hard release dates for (I was a producer for a very large US games firm beginning with A in the 1980s, so I know this only too well - and we had no internet to worry about back then, so things were easier in some ways! But it didn't stop us getting ripped into by the Games Press, which was far more difficult to dodge or blame on 'noisy individuals', because it was printed on paper and hung around for months!).

    But the thing we learned was that - within certain well-structured limits - being as open and honest as we could be with the Press, inviting them in to 'Meet The Team', and see exactly what we do, and what we were up against, was usually a great way to take the heat out of things. Our audience enjoyed seeing a little more of how we went about the making of games: what research we did, what tools we used, how our artists and musicians and sound-effects teams worked, and what they drew their inspirations from.

    Rarely did we show them too much 'blue-sky' stuff (it was almost always a rod for our own backs), and of course, back then, we didn't have to worry about things like patches and post-release bugfixes (in the 80s, when it was shipped, it was shipped!), but that need not stop 'bugfixing' being a thing that is exposed and explained nowadays. Bugfixing is murder to do, and sometimes people are less likely to cast aspersions and hatred at members of the bugfixing team, if they see them as human beings, rather than as unseen mythical machines whose job it is to see into the unknown and fix everything in ten seconds or be cast as a 'lamer' forever. Keyboard warriors rely on dehumanisation for their sport; and it's much harder for them to seem even slightly 'on point', if everybody knows that it is 'cool Johnny' or 'smart Sally' who is the person struggling daily at fixing XYZ bug or trying to polish out the wrinkles in something that's not working 100% as intended.

    Some studios (notably Peter Molyneux's) have tried and seemingly failed 'the behind-the-scenes PR game'... and it is not a 100% guaranteed solution by any means. IMHO, TwoCans' problem was partly an over-reliance on Peter himself as the focus, rather than his team, so he lost the full effect of 'humanising' his team to the public. Also, the focus of the game got changed from one platform to another, and one payment model to another, and that upset a lot of folks, and these are not the sort of thing that can be 'PRed away' easily.

    However, in contrast, the monthly videos from the 'Introversion Software' team - the guys behind Prison Architect - were a joy to receive each month. Whilst the team-members were only usually characterised as South Park-esque animations, and the videos were mostly voice-over conversations on top of gameplay, it was a fantastic insight into the thought processes, problems, successes, methodology, and approaches to development and ideas. As well as being a very funny, uniquely British, damned-good informative giggle for 40 minutes or an hour each month. Introversion had also suffered a bit of negativity during its long, long period of 'Early Access' on Steam, and the forums did at one point, after about the 2nd year, get a bit whiffy and noisy... but the team faced it down, kept smiling, working, and showing its work, and won through. They emerged the other side with a highly acclaimed game, and a team that will be remembered and supported for a long time (at least until their next development... a week is a long time in the games-biz, someone once said!)

    So, the point that I am making, in my usual roundabout way, is that DTG could, perhaps, benefit from a more in-depth view being shown of its own TSW team, and what they're working on (or even struggling with) from time to time. Humanise yourselves! Show us the real you. Make people empathise more. Inform and entertain your public. Show us what you do when you crawl all over a Shed taking measurements, or what happens when you realise you've got something wrong on an HST. Tell us what source materials you rely on when fact-finding; which ancient, yellowed BR pamphlets or crumpled Ian Allan pocketbooks you read for fun and benefit. What are the in-house in-jokes at DTG? Who makes the coffee? Who doesn't drink it? Who are the gag-artists and who are the nerds? Who was a trainspotter, and who was a systems engineer for BAe, and which uber-cool coder was once a stultifyingly-boring accountant but gave it all up to become a games-guru? All will find their followers, but we need to meet them first!

    I know that Matt P does some of this kind of thing on his Twitch stream, but imho, it's not quite enough. It's not 'DTG-focussed' enough, and it's 'his thing' rather than a company or a team thing. And I know that the production of such things requires time, effort and presumably payment of someone within the team to do the video-editing, polishing and 'running-it-all-past-management-so-we-don't-shoot-ourselves-in-the-foot'. But it's usually worth it, if it's honest and real and human enough. People don't become fans of faceless machines half so easily as they become fans of the people who think them into existence. This is true even in the world of trains, where of course railfans do become fans of machines; but ask any railfan why they love their train, and they'll usually answer that it's something to do with its characteristics, its looks, the way it behaves, the growl it makes; its human or animal qualities. It's the anthropomorphism of trains that makes them feel alive; the fans still need to believe there's a beating heart and a struggling beast there behind the tin and grease. And it's the same here; we - the playing, paying public, need to empathise more with the TSW team in order to trust, respect and believe them more. Time to show us your true colours, as people.

    Consider this. One hundred and sixty-one years ago (yes, that's 1857, peeps; put your shoes back on), a photographer called Robert Howlett embarked on a 'behind-the-scenes' photo documentary for the Illustrated Times newspaper in what was, essentially, a very early PR exposé. His subject? A massive (ultimately-doomed, but we'll ignore that for now) steamship, at the time the largest and greatest the world had ever seen: the SS Great Eastern. All of Howlett's photos were ultimately 're-tweeted' in the medium of the day, and turned into hand-carved wood-engravings for printing the newspaper, because that's how they had to do it back then. But the original photos survive, and one photo in particular stands out today as the most memorable, most famous, most effective 'behind-the-scenes' piece of PR ever, and it shows a glimpse of that big machine's human creator. You will have seen it, I guarantee. He's a short man, cigar clenched in his mouth, hands in his trouser pockets beneath his waistcoat, stove-pipe hat on his head, standing in front of the biggest frickin' set of chain-links you've ever seen in your life.

    And I'll bet, even now, you know his name and his three initials.

    People like to know who makes the stuff they like. Knowing them, makes them more human. Sometimes, it even makes them more than human.

    Can we see the humans behind the three initials TSW, please DTG?
     
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  2. Gascan

    Gascan Active Member

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    Can we get a TL : DR version plx.
     
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  3. Digital Draftsman

    Digital Draftsman Well-Known Member

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    I don't think meeting the team would change much as ultimately they are not the decision makers. I also think that most people's view of DTG is accurate.

    The problem you have at DTG is the upper management make very short-sighted decisions because they don't understand this sector of the gaming industry and they they're under a lot of financial pressure. You only have to look at how DTG is performing financially as a company to see that something is wrong. They invested (and lost) a lot in Flight Sim World and the same is happening with TSW. The only reason TSW has lasted this long is because there is no competitor in the market. If the train sim market had an equivelent to Aerofly FS 2 and X-Plane 11 then we'd probably have seen TSW cancelled.

    Player numbers are dwindling, and on the PC at least, are currently at the lowest level since GWE was released over a year ago. TSW has a lot more content in terms of DLC than ever before, but the number of players has been on a steady decline.

    DTG should have focused on getting the standard features implemented (Freeroam/QuickDrive, Scenario Editor, Route Editor) before they started pushing out all the DLC. All of the previous big train sim games had those features and for good reason. DTG should also have focused on fixing bugs before bringing out new DLC, as all the bugs in previous DLC deter many people from buying more DLC in the future.

    The only chance DTG has is to keep their word and release the tools before Christmas. If they don't, then I think 2019 will be the year we see TSW cancelled liked Flight Sim World was this year.
     
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  4. StratPlayer62

    StratPlayer62 Active Member

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    I understand and agree with most of what your saying, I've long held the belief that DTG seriously needs to improve their PR and/or communication. However I don't see the development team as the problem, I see the problem as the person/persons that are making the big decisions, such as releasing TSW with so many obvious problems, not just bugs, things that the previous version of the simulator already did a much better job of, you would think they could at least match the performance of the previous game before the released it. Also the decision to push out DLC after DLC with hardly anything if anything getting fixed.

    I really agree with what Digital Draftsman has to say, he put it very well. I REALLY DO want to see TSW thrive and become the best train simulator there is, and it is very frustrating because we can all see SO MUCH potential, but nobody will right the ship!
     
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  5. Ding

    Ding New Member

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    What numbers is your statement based on? The only graph I can find in SteamDB shows a consistent playerbase, double the size as in summer 2017 (and equal to November 2017) with a large spike with every DLC release (like in other games).

    I really like TSW and want it to succeed and expand - the game engine is just so much more recent and better.

    However, I agree with you on the following:

    The editor needs to happen - ASAP - so that 3rd party developers can create/convert and implement their content to keep the game interesting. I think Train Simulator is HUGELY driven by the constant flow of new 3rd party content (routes, locos, ...).

    Also for me personally - and I think this is true for many players - it's important to be able to create and drive their own consists like it's possible in Train Simulator. The pre-made ones are cool and all but in the end you'll get more hooked when you can make your own.

    Source: https://steamdb.info/app/530070/graphs/

    chart.png
     
  6. Digital Draftsman

    Digital Draftsman Well-Known Member

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    I use Steam Charts as the main source for my statistics: https://steamcharts.com/app/530070#All

    If you look at the numbers post RSN release and compare them to the numbers between April and July, the numbers post RSN are now lower. Previously each DLC added numbers to the 'baseline' number of players, RSN was the first time the 'baseline' number of players went down after the spike of a DLC release. The number of players is currently contracting rather than growing.

    DTG face issues on console as well because most console players don't want to shell out £24.99 for DLC and build a £500 collection which may become redundant with the next generation of consoles. I highlighted this point months ago, fast forward to now, and if you look at the console forums one of the biggest complaints is price.
     
  7. Vinnie

    Vinnie Member

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    People will pay the price if quality becames priority. The lack of bug fixes and communication is a huge let down. There's absolute no logic in a business model like that, IMO.
     
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  8. StratPlayer62

    StratPlayer62 Active Member

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    I totally agree with this.

    I'm not a console gamer and I'm probably way out of touch with that market, but I just don't see the average person who uses console games really into trains or playing a train sim, if they do have an interest in it, it probably won't last long and that person will not want to pay a lot for DLC. IMHO the average person who uses and buys a train simulator is a person who is seriously into trains, and most people that are into trains want a realistic simulator, not just a flashy game that somewhat represents driving a train. I've said before that I would be happy to pay more than the current prices for the game or the DLC, but ONLY if the quality were improved.

    To me putting the game on console was a waste of time and resources, that time and resources would have been better spent fixing problems and helping to keep the current customers happy. It might have made a quick infusion of cash but I doubt it will provide a stable income source for DTG.

    I really hope I'm wrong here but the way DTG is managing things is the way a business that is just staying afloat does things.
     
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  9. Ding

    Ding New Member

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    Draftsman, thanks for sharing the link! Makes you wonder which (if any) of these stats you can trust...

    Yes, I see this happening in other games as well - the console audience is very different from the PC audience. Whereas PC players can spend $500 on DLCs and content (even more extreme in MMO games) console players are not very likely to do that.

    For me the problem with TSW is that - at this moment - I feel like I am just waiting for content. I got it together with RSN, totally enjoyed playing it, but now that I've done some of the scenarios and tested the 3 available vehicles I am at a point where in TS2019 for example I would install my "regular" rolling stock and put it on the route.
     

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