I left the Friendly Premonition project — Robin Wils's website
Last modified: Tue, Aug 16, 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.
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. A basic document with a plan is enough for me. It doesn’t have to be a backlog.
The communication lacked
There were no discussions about the progress, and state of the project. Speaking with the team is important. Having a sign on how certain features are implemented and what there is still to do gives the team a better sight on the progress.
Listening to the team, and not always following your own vision helps as well. Something can be a common practice for a reason. Like not drawing text on sprite if the font is available. Although that’s a minor thing.
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 got feedback from people I personally know with a game development degree as well.
I am not going to lie about any bugs. If someone asks me something about the game I respond. Although they didn’t want me to do that. Not having the permission to talk about a project with the users is almost always a sign of a bad project. There can be a reason for not implementing something. You can not satisfy all users, but they still have a right to know why.
The project owner made me 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. That is a sign of an unclear objective, a bad user experience.
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 find the rewards.
The director claimed that there was no filler. Although the messages in the following screenshot 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. 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 project owner 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.
I did mind that he claimed that he programmed the dialogue. Claiming the work of someon else is rude, and disrespectful. It shows that you don’t value their work. All he did was copy dialogue into configuration files. People don’t tend to call that programming. 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
This was a small project so the least we could do was respond to user feedback. Although we didn’t. To me the users were important. It is a product for them. I helped with this project out of respect for the original ‘Deadly Premonition’ game. To give the fans another fun little game. I left because the project didn’t listen to the fans.
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 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. You are on your own now. Hopefully you gained some experience from this project. Perhaps your teamwork and plan is better in your next projects. I can hardly imagine it being worse.
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. No new versions have ever been released since I left. The project is likely dead.