Unsung Story Kickstarter angers backers with change of gameplay focus

Back in January 2014 15,824 people pledged a total of $660,126 on Kickstarter for a spiritual successor to Final Fantasy Tactics.

These people were paying for a narrative-heavy tactical RPG designed by FFT and Vagrant Story’s Yasumi Matsuno due for release in July 2015. So an announcement confirming not only a delay to late 2016 but also a switch of focus to multiplayer online gameplay has, shock horror, infuriated many who now fear they will never receive the game they paid for.

Kotaku notes that the words ‘PvP’ and ‘multiplayer’ do not feature once in Unsung Story’s original pitch.

The PvP focus is not a sudden switch, but more importantly to the backers, it does not impact the single player campaign mode as far as content and depth,” the studio’s CEO Joel Goodman told the site. The best way to ensure that the campaigns have balanced scenarios with good AI is to gather play testing data from online players in head to head matches, and then polish the game with that feedback.

Due to the lack of consistent updates the backers did not know that this has been our internal development approach, but the idea that online game play was going to be in the game was covered in the KS video, as well as subsequent updates. It is a bonus to the single player story experience.”

When pressed on the many calls for refunds, Goodman replied: We are delivering the game and rewards that the backers are entitled to.”

In an update on the game’s Kickstarter page, Goodman also tried to explain away the studio’s relative silence on development progress over recent months.

Earlier in the year, Playdek went through a financial crunch that caused us to reduce some key staff,” he said. Some positions were focused on technical components to the engine being used for Unsung, and a few were content development staff who worked on all of our products.

Needless to say, these were great people, and it was not only an unexpected loss, but one that we clearly had to adjust to, with product other than Unsung that was still on our schedule to deliver, let alone continue steadfast on Unsung development. Playdek is a venture backed company, so please understand that is about all I can say on that matter, but at this point we are navigating those issues and have allocated our remaining resources to our remaining products, Unsung included.

That said, this has had an impact on Unsung development, as while we have been able to continue progress on the game, as stated it has gone much slower than expected, and unfortunately we are behind our original development plan and timeline.”

Goodman has also elaborated on the quotes given to Kotaku.

The single player narrative game as outlined in the KS is intact, in every way,” he insisted. The world story is complete, and narrative for five episodes, including scenarios, is also complete. This entire single player experience will be rolled out to all backers. Meaning, nothing has changed to the single player game that you backed due to a PvP mode.

The game has not been turned into a PvP experience, and PvP is not required to play the single player game. Again, players may play the single player game without ever having to play the PvP mode. PvP is an additional mode of game play that complements the single player game. PvP mode will also be made available for all backers, and players will be able to skirmish against the A.I. in this mode.

Releasing a PvP mode first is an iterative step in development only, and will allow us to play test the game before we release a single player mode that needs to have a balanced, competitive AI We did not invent this development approach, as it has been used by other developers to great affect in game balancing. As stated in my quote above, it is a tuning, balancing step for us.”

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