The time for redemption is…When it’s Done?

Update 3: With the ‘official’ Max Payne film now in production, the P&R team got hit by Fox with a C&D letter.  Bummer.

Update 2: Not to kick a dead horse here, but Moddb seems to have quite a good, in-depth article on the topic of mod PR. Of particular interest is the ‘Silence is not golden’ supplement chapter. A lot of modders (and anyone else presenting WIP materials to the public) could probably do well to read it.

Update: Teaser trailer 2 has finally been released. Check it out, it’s looking pretty cool. ETA is still “When it’s done”.


Payne and Redemption

^I want a poster of this. It’s freakin’ awesome. :)

So I was just checking the stats of this blog and I noticed a recent spike a few days ago. It turns out my first article on ‘When it’s Done’ struck a chord with some of the people frequenting the Payne and Redemption blog. If you don’t already know, Payne and Redemption is a promising looking independent film based on / inspired by the Max Payne franchise. In the absence of the ‘official’ Max Payne film, Payne and Redemption is shaping up to be the next best thing. True to the series, it seems it’ll apparently be ‘done when it’s done’ – much to the annoyance of some their fans.

Now, besides the fact that I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing the film, this isn’t my problem (or my business), so I’m going to keep WELL clear of the debate. However, what IS interesting, as far as I’m concerned, is how strikingly similar some of the views and accusations aired on the blog are to those I’ve experienced with mods; and also observed on the DNF and Alan Wake forums. It’s like WID provokes an almost predictable reaction among some people…. scary.

There isn’t an easy way out of this – IMO, once you’ve dug your trenches, you’ve got to stick it to the end. I mean, I’ve written loads of “This is exactly why it’s taking so long…” posts and it’s never convinced a non-believer. At best you’re preaching to the converted; at worst, you’re fuelling the fire.

Some thoughts on the topic of internet PR (but by no means a sure-fire solution – still working on that ;) )

  • Be honest and frank with fans: If you screwed up, admit your mistake, and commit to improvement. You can’t blame someone for making a mistake; but if they repeat it….
  • Try to be consistent: – Don’t start off saying ‘When it’s Done’, then give out a date, miss it, and then try a totally different approach like iterative prototyping; only to get bored of that and then go back to WID again. It’s a recipe for disaster (this is from personal experience).
  • Actions speak louder than words. MUCH louder. You can insta-kill any ‘this project is soooo dead’ argument with a well-timed screenshot and/or teaser. Although, ideally you don’t want to be pressured into releasing material you’re not prepared to share yet.
  • Share progress, design decisions, goals, and problems with the community – Not normally recommended, but if you can’t release new materials (above), then try to somehow ‘include’ the community in the development process. This will help provide evidence that the project is active and that you care about it.
  • Grow a thicker skin. Until the damn thing is released, people will ALWAYS flame; spread fear, uncertainty, & doubt; and try emotional blackmail tactics (e.g. “If you don’t release a new trailer, I’m gonna give up on this project forever. :( “). It happened with the Lightsaber mod, Kung Fu 3, Katana, Max Payne 2, Streetfighter2, and so on. Rest assured, NONE of this will matter once it comes out. You can also bet that the people complaining now will be the first in line to download it (and also the first to criticise it, but meh… whatever).
  • Don’t be arrogant about it. Sure they’re not going to make the project for you, and some of them WILL kick you when you’re down, but the sad truth is: you need their support. Praise, encouragement, word of mouth, loyalty, custom — more than enough reasons to keep your fans happy. OR as Max Payne would put it: “He had a baseball bat, and I was tied to a chair. Pissing him off was the smart thing to do.” Bottom line: it pays to keep your fans happy – reward them once in a while (but not too much :P).

Just to wrap this up a bit more elegantly, I’ll finish with an excerpt from a classic scene in Futurama, where Bender meets God. It sums up my whole experience with handling development / production forums perfectly.

                                     BENDER
                         Y'know, I was God once              
                                     GOD
                         Yes I saw. You were doing well until
                         everyone died.
              
                                     BENDER
                         It was awful. I tried helping them.
                         I tried not helping them but in the
                         end I couldn't do them any good. Do
                         you think what I did was wrong?
                         
                                     GOD
                         Bender, being God isn't easy, if you
                         do too much, people get dependent. And
                         if you do nothing, they lose hope. You
                         have to use a light touch, like a safecracker
                         or a pickpocket.
               
                                     BENDER
                         Or a guy who burns down the bar for
                         the insurance money.
              
                                     GOD
                         Yes, if you make it look like an electrical
                         thing. When you do things right, people
                         won't be sure you've done anything at
                         all.


Futurama episode 408 “Godfellas” 2002

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