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Saturday, April 27, 2024
WTF did Revival Productions just do?
Posted: 4:00:00 PM 0 comments
Over the course of the last week, OTL player JazzyJet found this, Voyager: Ascension by RFLXT, owned by World Enterprises LLC - no link because I can't find any presence of this company on the Internet. It was notable to him because the trailer was, to use JazzyJet's words, "just footage from Overload".

Upon pointing this out, RFLXT replied saying that they have "licensed the game from Revival".

"...for web3 use."

I'm sorry, what?

Turns out, RFLXT is working on some tech called the Digital Double avatar. The long and short of it seems to be that they aim to offer this Digital Double avatar to people, which is essentially an AI that mimics the person. I surmise that their short term goal is to get a somewhat deep game catalog going, and then eventually integrate this avatar into these games somehow. Buzzwords thrown around by RFLXT on their website include "web3", "AI", "blockchain", "metaverse", and "NFT". To quote fellow OTL pilot Doctor Tasty, "we have a royal flush, folks."

Getting back to the game at hand, Voyager: Ascension is essentially a free-to-start, 1 to 1 copy of Overload. There are some differences, including some mysterious currency called V Points for killing bots and collecting some items, a slightly different story, changed voice lines that some believe are done by AI rather than voice actors, a reference to an unimplemented season pass, and the ability to unlock all levels for $9.99 (may also be unimplemented as of this writing). There are also a number of bugs that have been found in Voyager: Ascension that don't exist in the base game. But the levels are the same, and the menus and game look and feel like Overload. In short, it is a very low-effort copy.

Now, I'm not here to shit on this game, and if this ends up being some players' first experience with 6DoF, it's not a bad start into the genre. I'm not going to suggest that you should run out and get this game either, though. What I do want to do, however, is look at this from a neutral perspective and evaulate the chances that something like this has to succeed.

First of all, this is a Six Degrees of Freedom First-Person Shooter. By itself, this is one of my favorite genres. However, when considering whether this is going to be a commercially viable game, you have to look at the genre as a whole, which I did recently in my Six'd Off announcement video. If you're going to do a new 6DoF FPS, it needs to offer something unique in terms of gameplay. Slapping on these royal flush buzzwords - or honestly adding any social features from the past 30 years - is not going to help the game do any better than Overload. The gameplay itself needs to be new, exciting, and offer something different. This game does none of that so far.

Second of all, the fact that this is practically a 1 to 1 copy of Overload means you're not going to get too many players wanting to pay twice for the same game, especially to two different companies. Maybe they have plans to radically change the game, and are just putting out a tech demo of sorts, but there is no indication anywhere that this is what they are doing.

Third, you're associating your game with these royal flush buzzwords that most sensible people on the Internet associate with words like "scam", "grift", and other terms that generally keep smarter people away from ventures such as this. Sure, some people will be excited over this, but these are likely to be the same people who have been rug pulled at least once in their life.

Releasing a game in an unpopular genre, when the game is just a copy of a game already released in said genre, attaching web3 features to it, and then expecting cash to pour in to your business is like multiplying 0.01% by 0.01% by 0.01% and expecting to get 100%. Voyager: Ascension's existence makes absolutely no business sense to me, and I have to imagine that this game is not going to last very long once they figure this out. The company behind it surely won't last long if they don't.

Which leads me to the title of this post. WTF did Revival Productions just do? At best, they've opened the door for web3 to invade the 6DoF space for a quick cash grab. At worst, they've knowingly involved their product and brand with technologies that many consider to be the morally worst technologies on the planet. And this is to speak nothing about what it's done for the modding community. With olmod under an MIT license, all RFLXT would have to do to use olmod code in Voyager: Ascension is to include that license with their product. I know I don't want to be writing software for free for a web3 company, and I imagine most of the other developers on the modding team would agree. This puts us in an extremely tough situation, and I honestly don't know what to do about this. Do we try to license the source code ourselves somehow? Do we change the license on olmod? Do we just close up shop and call it a day and let Revival and RFLXT do whatever they want?

I certainly didn't have "Overload but with web3 features" on my 2024 bingo card.

I think Revival Productions owes the Overload community an explanation here, and what we should expect from both them and RFLXT moving forward.

Update (4/30/2024):

Matt Toschlog posted the following to the Overload Discord. It confirms that they weren't trying to do anything malicious by licensing the code to RFLXT (also, it appears Refactor Games is doing most of the development on Voyager: Ascension) and were simply looking to gain back some of their losses while working on Overload. Unfortunately, I think no amount of statement from Revival is going to unmuddy the waters that is the modding situation. Hopefully it becomes a non-issue, but it is always something we're going to have to kep an eye on in the future. Here is the full statement:

Overload fans,

We've been following the conversation on this server about the release of Voyager Ascension and realized (a little late) that we should make a statement.

Voyager Ascension is, obviously, based on Overload. We licensed the game to RFLXT about a year ago after they approached us about making a Web3 version of the game. (And, as has been surmised, the person who instigated the deal was Alan Pavlish, who was an exec at Interplay when they published Descent.)

We're not experts in Web3 and crypto and don't have much interest in moving into that world. But we did think it was an interesting idea and we were happy to sign the deal. Overload was a labor of love for us, and while it was one of most fun and satisfying projects we've worked on, it was not a financial success. Even with the licensing fees for Voyager Ascension we've lost a significant amount of money on this project. (Which is fine. Embarking on a new project is always a risk.)

When we licensed Overload to RFLXT we insisted that any Web3 version be released under a different name to avoid confusion with the original game. One of the great things to come out of the Overload project is the enthusiastic community that's developed around it, and we didn't want the licensed game to affect that. Voyager Ascension will exist in its world, and Overload can continue with its own dedicated base.

If any of you decide to check out Voyager Ascension we'd be happy to hear what you think. We hope it's successful. And maybe it will even bring some new players to Overload.

Thanks again for your support.

Matt Toschlog & Mike Kulas
Revival Productions

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