Play Voidspace
Posted: Mar 19, 2021

Why are we getting negative reviews on steam?

There are actually a number of reasons why this is happening, so I'll go over each one individually starting with the most common complaints. Also keep in mind that these complaints are almost a year old and most of the issues behind the negative reviews have been addressed already.

"It's just a cheap cell-phone game waiting simulator; too many progress bars"

This is actually a great critisism because it clearly shows that we need to do something different in our communication to the player. At the moment, the players that don't dig very deep will find that this critisizm holds true if you only have one character. However, you are actually meant to play with multiple characters at the same time, keeping one character for exploring and interacting with other players while the rest are mining, crafting, and doing science. The fact that this isn't obvious from playing the game means we have failed to communicate that properly to the player and this is something high on our priority list to fix. I have listed some things we plan on doing to resolve this issue at the end of the post.

The big stuff definitely takes a long time. In fact, in some cases, scrapping a huge wreck could take literal days. The reason why this game makes use of timers is to simulate how much time it would take to perform these sorts of actions in real life. If we didn't have this people would saturate the game world with anything they could possibly desire very quickly and the game would quickly be over. Building up infrastructure is one of the main elements of the game and this isn't done on a player-level but on a game level and this is one of the more unique aspects of the game. Even though you may be playing by yourself at first, the whole world will one day open up to you as people craft cities, highways, safe-zones, trading ports. We have to design the game with all of this in mind because it's not really a game as much as it is a simulation of human society in a virtual game world.

So while the game is very much played like a first-person top-down game, in reality you're meant to create a bunch of alts so you can get the most out of your time. How many you create depends on you and how much you want to manage that aspect. Unfortunately, we have so far failed to communicate this to the player and at the end of this post I list 3 things we plan on doing to help remedy this issue.

"I can't connect; server keeps going down"

Since we're in Early Access the game is still very much in active development. Probably unlike most games you might have experienced, we're actually in a very rapid development cycle that often has us deploying changes multiple times per day. The players are definitely our QA team, we work very closely with them and they with us. This definitely isn't for everyone and you definitely should not play the game if you aren't ok with periodic down time.

Most of the time the servers are indeed up and functioning however. Server restarts tend to take about 5 minutes. Certain kinds of server deploys are actually seamless and will only manifest in a quick wait of about 15 seconds for a request that would normally be instant (and this is only if you happen to catch the server right at the beginning of an update). There is at least one full reset that occurs every day, but during week days we tend to deploy new code at least once per day (probably on average less than once per day).

"There is nobody playing"

There is almost always a handful of people around and playing, but we've been keeping the numbers low on purpose while we work on the servers for scale. I recommend joining Discord (type /discord in-game) to really join the community and stay connected. It's definitely a lot more fun to play with people!

Last I checked we had several dozen people playing regularly throughout the day, on average. The game is most active generally during the day for Western countries. If you're not on Discord it can definitely be more lonely, especially if you keep the chat closed. The game world is HUGE and while most people spawn new characters using the default setting (which spawns new people in groups of 10) the odds of running into other people are pretty slim until you get a ship capable of some speed, or you make use of the emergency pings people can send out (they're the green icons on the map). Because of the groups-of-10 default spawn setting, you actually get to spawn in a group with people who are at the same stage as you. They shouldn't be too far from you either, definitely a stone's throw.

"The game is completely broken, the quests don't even work - I'm gonna die"

Alright. Well, first I just want to mention that while hundreds of people before you managed to get through the tutorials, the game is in active development and it's quite possible that you have run across a newly created issue with the tutorial. These are things that we wish to address AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, and your feedback on what isn't working is incredibly valuable to the developers. One of the most recent issues was around the Solar Array quest which, due to changes in volume as well as new features for installing the array on the OUTSIDE of the ship, there was some confusion and the need for the quests to be updated. This has since been fixed but it was awkward for a while. This will almost certainly happen again, but we work very closely with the players and keep tabs on what is going on and what might be tripping people up. I would only ask that instead of writing a bad review and never talking to us that you would join the Discord and make your issues known so we can fix them sooner than later. The players are our QA team and we work with them very closely, and they work with us. If you're having trouble, definitely let me know because I want to get it fixed asap.

Why haven't reviews improved much?

When we first released the game on Steam we were going through some major server issues. This is part of the reason for the complaints about connection issues. We have come a long way since then (only a few months ago), but the reviews haven't improved. Why?

The fact is we don't actually promote other platforms including Steam, the Play Store, and the App Store because they take a 30% cut of any sales we make. Instead we try to encourage people to use our website to buy the game while offering free downloads for each platform instead. Unfortunately this means that people aren't able to rate the game on the Steam platform and since we're no longer in the "honeymoon" stage of release, the various platforms aren't bumping us up enough to be noticed by anyone. So the months old reviews we got from when the game was initially released are sticking around, and will continue to stick around for a long time.

One of the things we can do to solve this is providing game keys for Steam to people who have bought the game through our website. This is allowed by Steam and would allow people to legitimately rate the game. This is planned and one of the ways we plan on combating the poor reviews we got from the initial release weeks.

What else are we planning on doing to address the negative feedback?

The main complaint we got about the game (besides temporary technical issues) is the fact that people were confused about it being a game with too much waiting around. As I mentioned before, the game is meant to be played with multiple characters at the same time where some of your characters are doing science and engineering (yes, with lots of timers) while your main character is off exploring the world or interacting with players. This concept is VERY well hidden in the gameplay and it is absolutely our fault for not communicating this better. Right now and one of our main goals is to make it more clear that multiple characters is the way you're supposed to play.

I plan on addressing this in a couple ways:

1. Provide a quick character switcher panel on the right side of the screen for instantly switching between characters. This will also include a handy Add Character button that will instantly take you to the character creation screen with the "spawn with my character" setting already set. (As of writing, this has already been implemented)

2. Implementing a "family" system. When you start a new account you will be asked to provide a sort of "family" name that will be associated with each of your characters. This should imply rather clearly that the player is meant to play with multiple members of said family.

3. Besides the multiple characters thing, we plan on adding an in-game feedback system that allows players to notify us of issues without having to join Discord to do it.

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