Trine is finally coming to the US PlayStation Store on October 22nd, 2009. We are very excited and can't wait to have the game out finally!
That said, there has been a lot of anger, confusion and disappointment concerning Trine and the PSN releases. There have been lots of comments all around the internet, and I decided to write this post after reading some comments on the US PlayStation.Blog
. So I will use this thread to explain things from our point of view, as developers of the game. Please be prepared for a lengthy post...
First of all, we are very sorry for everyone who feels disappointed by the delays.
It is unfortunate that things went like this and it certainly wasn't the way we planned. The original plan was to release Trine on PSN 1-2 weeks before PC. This was supposed to happen in June-July. We even had the first PSN version submitted before the PC version was finished. With this in mind, the publisher made a decision to start the manufacturing of the PC retail version and locked the shipping dates and marketing spends and so on. This is what you have to do to get a successful retail release and you can't really change it after this point.
The problem was that as inexperienced console developers, we did not anticipate all the issues that would lay down the road for the PSN version. I'm sure the publisher wasn't expecting it either - the game was essentially done and we thought it would be released on PSN shortly, just before or at the same time as the PC version. This is essential to get good sales because the PC version is going to get pirated a lot, which affects console version sales too.
Of course, things did not go to plan. The game came back from testing with a list of things to fix, and those needed to be fixed before the game could be submitted again. These were of the "if the user unplugs the controller while the level is loading, the game should do X" (not a real example) sort of things, or wrong version numbers, wrong error messages or such. All console manufacturers have this process and games need to adhere to these rules. There are certain instructions to follow but it's not always clear-cut how certain things need to be done, and thus it's not possible to prepare for everything. Anyhow, these issues are important to fix, and more often than not they are 30 minute jobs each, so we stayed late at the office and usually delivered a new build on the next day to the publisher, who in turn had to resubmit it. Each submission causes a number of weeks of delay, and we had to go through this multiple times. It started to get quite frustrating at the end, believe me...
When the European version was finally "ok", we were quite happy for a moment... And that brings me to the US delay. The reason why the US version is so late is a bit of a similar situation as the overall delay - we had the US version done around the same time as the European version and I think the publisher submitted it swiftly after hearing the European version was "ok". This probably only caused a week of delay or so. The rest is simply up to Sony, I believe (please note I do not actually know what happened after we had done our part, so this is purely guesswork). I think they wanted to give the game a good window with regards to other PSN titles/content, and that's how it ended up here, October 22nd.
Obviously we're not blind to the comments and other releases out there on PS3 right now, so from our point of view this whole mess has been and still is excruciatingly frustrating. Just imagine how it feels when you have worked extremely hard for 18 months, made a great game, and then all kinds of unwanted things happen, many of which you had very little influence on (we had lots of trouble with the PC release too, so all versions have suffered from a certain amount of issues). It's not a great feeling I can tell you that.
I hope this helps understand the story from our point of view - it has been a series of unfortunate events. We take the blame for some of them, and many others were simply things that were not really anybody's fault. Nevertheless, I hope that in the future we're able to do certain things that will prevent this kind of stuff from happening ever again - here's hoping!
Regarding the lack of online co-op, this is also something that we are acutely aware of. We've had to explain this many times in the past with our earlier games (just search the forums if you want), but here's the short version: Back in 2001-2004 when we were working on our first game, our game focused on great singleplayer and didn't have any multiplayer. All of our technical decisions reflected this, and a few years later, when we figured multiplayer would be a nice feature, we realized that there was no way to add it without significantly more time, resources and money. When we started working on Trine, we had to face the same question again - if we had included multiplayer, it would have added half a million US dollars to the budget, not to mention delay the game a lot. We didn't have that kind of money nor the time. This is why no version of Trine has online co-op, and it's looking unlikely that it would be released as a patch either. Sorry!
Pricing is not in our hands but I would like to say that Trine is one of the biggest downloadable games out there, and has very high production values. Trine has a reasonably long singleplayer (or local co-op), story-driven campaign that lasts 6-7 hours on average. Some players can complete it faster and some will take longer, especially if you want to hunt all the secret items and Trophies (including a Platinum Trophy).
I think Trine is a great game, and as developers, our ultimate goal is to create great games. All the business and marketing stuff comes second, that's not why we do this. So in short, we succeeded in the ultimate goal and more or less failed in the secondary goals. (And I know "great game" is very subjective - but I'm happy that most Trine players seem to share this sentiment, because at the end of the day, that's what gives us the energy and refuels our passion for future games.)
I would also like to point out that just because a game is distributed digitally doesn't mean that it has to be small. We believe in digital distribution and I'd like to think Trine is on the forefront of downloadable games and spearheads the way into the future, where games of all sizes and scopes have a chance of success if they are good.
Wow, this has been a long post. Ultimately we can only hope that you give Trine a chance - if you don't find the game appealing or the price is too high, then we respect that decision.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has already bought the game, whether it be the US or European PSN version or the PC version. The positive comments give us the strength to continue creating great games and the money gives us the means.
And now, for those who have not yet entered the world of magic... Enjoy! Despite all the problems surrounding the business and marketing aspects of the game, the game itself should be great fun. We can't wait to hear the comments!
- Joel, Frozenbyte team