I left the Friendly Premonition project — Robin Wils's website
Last modified: Sun, Apr 17, 2022
I didn’t want this project to end up this way. Although it seemed like the right thing to do. At some point, I lost all interest in the project. It felt like the project no longer had a future. There was little respect for my efforts as well.
The first signs of trouble
There was no clear description of what the game would be, when I started working on this project. The expectations were unknown and no document of the idea existed.
I quickly realized that I was rewriting the game over and over. What was exactly needed for the project was never clear. I saw a future for the project. Although I didn’t really know what I was working on.
Expectations can change slightly, but a clear idea makes it easier to implement the basic logic. Much basic logic of a project often stays the same. The dialog logic often changed, which shouldn’t have been the case.
We didn’t follow good practices
Instead of using the created font for the buttons. Sprites were drawn with text on them.
The code never got any documentation. There were no discussions about the progress, and state of the project. No project management. Speaking with the team is important. It is good to know, what got implemented and in which way.
The first release
Bigger problems started to appear after the first release, which also made me more aware of previous mentioned problems.
The right to talk
I got a message to not talk about the game. The videos which were found online had user feedback. I also got feedback from people I know, who have a lot of experience with making games.
I am not going to lie about any bugs. If someone asks me something about the game I would respond. Although they didn’t want me to do that. I did not sign any contract. Not having the permission to talk about a project with the users is almost always a sign of a bad project.
I even had to remove a tweet which mentioned how you could get trading cards. The user posted a video of one hour-long gameplay. He never got any trading cards during that hour.
User feedback, which was never dealt with
People didn’t know how to get the trading cards. They were not rewarded by doing things in the game. I was not allowed to explain how to get the cards to people.
There were complaints about filler dialogue. People said that the game felt long, which is no wonder if the players don’t really see a goal, and they don’t get rewarded.
The director claimed that there was no filler. Although the messages in the following screenshot, all seem to say the same thing with other words. There are more examples like this.
I never asked them to remove the filler. I did mention the complaints though. I was a programmer. My task was not to lead the project, or making project decisions. I wasn’t the director or project manager. One solution would be to not put all those messages straight after each-other.
Messages with the game director
The game director said that I was not a developer of the game. That is odd to hear when you programmed the whole thing. He claimed that he was the only developer. I didn’t mind this too much. It is just a name. I just want to create a good product. Although there was no way that I would stay on the project if they wouldn’t value my work at all.
I did mind that he claimed that he programmed the dialogue. It isn’t ethical to claim the work of someone else as yours. That is rude, and disrespectful. All he did was copy dialogue into configuration files. People don’t tend to call that programming. It involves no logic. It is correct that he wrote the dialog. Although much dialog is straight-up copied of ‘Deadly Premonition’.
After hearing some feedback. I made some features to solve some things. They were all rejected.
Clear options feature
I suggested making it more clear that you could press the same option more than once. The options were numbered then (Murder 0, Murder 1,…) instead of (Murder, Murder, …). Users likely thought that the same option would return the same dialogue every time, since some other games do that. This could have made that slightly more clear.
I requested to sometimes give users a reward after completing a single option, so that they get the feeling of progress. The reward could have been food in the items menu. The items menu never really did anything useful anyways.
Major bug fix
The first release had a major bug with the save popup. A fix was made soon after that, but new videos still had the bug in them. People didn’t know that there was new update.
I made something which shows if a new version of the game is available before I left. This feature was never enabled, and they said that it was unwanted. The functionality wasn’t triggered if the user was offline. The download button would lead to the website of the project. The popup would show up if there was a new version available.
Why I left
I knew that I had to leave after knowing that we won’t respond to most user feedback. You make something for the users after all. I helped with this project out of respect for the original ‘Deadly Premonition’ game. To give the fans some other fun little game.
The project code
I wrote all the code. It is copyrighted under my name, and licensed under the MIT Expat License. The asset license (CC BY-NC-ND). That allows me to open the assets, but I didn’t make the Git repository public. I respected what they wanted.
I didn’t work with Git in the beginning of the project. I moved it to Git a few weeks before I left. I thought that it would be annoying to work with earlier, because the director (who is also the artist) didn’t work with it. I probably should have used Git from the start. That was a stupid reason to not use Git.
I have decided to give them the code before I left. They can continue to take advantage of my old work. It is fine. They can keep the code closed.
Now that this happened
I feel sorry for the users. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the project being discontinued soon. They have the code, but you are not much with code, if you don’t know how to program.
I hope that you can see my problems with the project. You will likely hear something about the other side of the story too. You can believe what you want. I have no enemies. Feel free to talk with me any time.
Well, good luck. I am no longer a part of the project. I won’t reply to project related messages. You are on your own now. Currently, I can’t support the project either. You didn’t want to see me on the project again, so there you go. I no longer want to work on the project.
They removed my name from the game page. I receive no credit for my work. I do think that I did the right thing, and likely would give people the code again in that situation. Sensible people would never do what they did. It destroys the project and makes it look bad.
I did some marketing for the project too. All the previous backlinks that came from me are gone now. They don’t deserve my work, besides that I don’t want to promote this game. It will just die slowly. No new versions have ever been released since I left.
Feel free to contact me. I do not mind to chat about this. A bad project is not always a bad thing. You still gain experience from it. I never signed any contracts. I can talk about whatever you like. I might decide not to chat about something, but that is rather unlikely. It is unlikely that someone will contact me, because this is a small project.