An announcement from Scott Hamilton of HPS Sims
Introduction written by Jason Rimmer
After my article about Tigers Unleashed the first comment on a forum was a negative one which was justified (I have to say some positive comments soon came along aswell) I copied the reply and sent it to Scott. Scott then sent out this email to the team which we felt ought to be published here for all to see.
Scotts message starts below..
First off, when this was released, we thought that it was good to go. We had been running it for weeks, and it was checking out fine. There were things I still wanted to work on, of course <!>, but there were no known crashes or major impediments to game play.
And even after it was released, it seemed to be good for a few months.. very few negative reports, and lots of suggestions. And then it was like something snapped, and that's when we realized it wasn't as solid as we had thought. And the worst part is that because things had gone OK for a while, I had started tearing things up to make improvements (plus we had put a lot of stuff "on hold" before the release to keep things as manageable as possible). So the code was in a state such that I couldn't respond quickly to fix the problems as they started coming in.
As for how we managed to miss the boat, it was principally a matter of testing... or more correctly - the lack of the right type of it. We had been running TU here on at least a dozen computers (incl. my wife's at work, my brother's, my mother in laws, etc). But for the most part it was all AI vs AI. I figured that would root out any really serious stuff. But obviously it didn't, and because this was before Jason showed up, I didn't realize how cursory the comments coming in from the test crew really were (and that was 2 dozen people at the time).
At that point I had already delayed the release for about 2 years (and the boards were full of "vaporware" comments and how HPS was going out of business), so with no known crash reports or other major issues, I decided to go for it. It seemed like it a reasonable bet that it was OK.
And now we know why I'm not a betting man. :-)
Had I known, of course, I never would have released it. Yes, it was intended as a WIP (all of my releases are), but not to the level it turned out to be.
As for the poster who feels ripped off and thinks I'm unprofessional, I do understand where he's coming from. But all I can say is that I've refunded every persons money who has requested it, no questions asked. It's been my policy since I started, and I still honor it for every single game I sell.
So I don't agree he was completely ripped off. Though, as a gamer myself (at least when I had time), I get the fact that he spent time and put emotional energy into it. I also get that that can be even more valuable than money. But there is no way I can refund that. So all I can do is say I'm sorry and try to work as hard as I can to eventually put something out there he (and everyone else) can enjoy.
As for the forums... I also understand that it's the way many, if not most, people like to converse these days. However, I still prefer email. Maybe that makes me a dinosaur, but I encourage folks to email me and have my email address posted everywhere ( firstname.lastname@example.org ). And I reply to every single one I get from customers (just like Jason's all those years ago#, and the ones from all the other guys on that forum). I find it's more personal, less likely to turn negative or off the subject, and allows me to really dig into issues.
The other thing, is that as my wife says, "you can waste hours on writing the simplest things". Which, as you can see from this email, among others, is absolutely true. ;-) Being a perfectionist is one of my major weakness, at least for things like this. Where other people can spend five minutes and fire something off, I spend hours. If I were on a forum, even just posting a minimal amount, I'd lose hours of work time. And on the forums, it seems like there is never a minimal amount. ;-)
That's not to say I can't change or figure out a way to do it, but just that right now I agree with Jason (and Jeff and Joe) 100%. The only thing that really matters is getting this out in a shape that we can all be happy with and proud of. In some minds I'm already a "recluse" and an "SOB" and any number of other things (and that's before you even ask my cats!)... and while it hurts deeply, there's nothing I can do about that besides getting this out the door.
#I don't think Scott realised at the time when sending me that first email that it would be the start of literally thousands of emails over the next few years I'd send back to him. I reckon sometimes I've sent him ten in a day!!