Why I left the Friendly Premonition project — Robin Wils's website
Last modified: Sat, Jan 9, 2021
Well, if you read the title, you know the sad news. I also didn’t want it to end up this way, but I think that it was the right thing to do.
The first signs of trouble
When I started on this project, the first problem I saw was that there was no clear description of what the game would be. There was no start document.
I still agreed to help, but soon enough I realized that I was rewriting the game over and over, because what was exactly needed for the project was never clear. I was fine with this, because I saw a future for the project, although I didn’t really know what I was working on.
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 was no project manager either. Nothing was discussed in a clear project manager way. Meetups with the team are important. It is important to know, what got implemented and in what way.
I am fine with not documenting things, so I didn’t. Now that I am gone, they probably wished that I did.
The director told me that he does not care about clean code. It should just work. I do agree with this, but not completely. If someone has a good idea to make some code cleaner, they might as well apply it if the code is a big mess.Copyright © XKCD
It was all fine
I was ok with those things. I thought that this project could become something.
The first release
More problems started to appear after the first release.
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.
I am not going to lie about any bugs. If someone asks me something about the game I would respond, even though 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.
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 also 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 in my opinion. There are more examples like this.
Note, I never asked them to remove the filler, because I didn’t expect that to happen. I did mention the complaints though.
Messages with the game director
I didn’t mind
The game director pretty much said that I was not a developer of the game. That is fun to hear when you programmed the whole thing. He claimed that he was the only developer.
I didn’t mind this much. At the end of the day, I just want to create a good product. I know my worth though, so there was no way that I would stay on the project if they wouldn’t value my work at all.
I do mind
He also claimed that he programmed the dialogue. All he did was copy dialogue into configuration files. People don’t tend to call that programming. It involves no logic.
No input for the code came from him. He did not even look at the code, but claims that he designed the game system. That is incorrect. It isn’t ethical to just claim the work of someone else as yours.
After hearing the 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 just thought that the same option would return the same dialogue every time, since some other games do that. This could have made that a tiny bit clearer.
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.
This is why I left
After knowing that we won’t respond to most user feedback, I knew that I had to leave. You make something for the users after all.
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.
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) allows me to open the assets, but I didn’t make the Git repository public. I respected what they wanted. They likely do no longer work with Git now.
I didn’t work with it in the beginning either. 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
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 chat about whatever you like. I might decide not to chat about something, but that is rather unlikely.
I think that it is unlikely that someone will contact me, because this is a small project.
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. Maybe I shouldn’t have given them the code after all. 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.