Over the years, when I've been in discussion with various friends about games that need reviving, I bring up Road Rash. To my surprise, a lot of people seem to remember the franchise and cherish the memories, so it is quite surprising how the franchise has been dead for many years.
So when I see an article about the 'spiritual successor' to Road Rash requiring funds on Kickstarter, I rush to back it.
Slated for release in August 2014 on the PC (Windows, Linux, Mac), Wii U, and Xbox 360, with Alpha penned for September 2013 and extra goodies promised such as access to Monthly Design Docs, Developer's Forum with 'Commander' status, and in game content.
I do understand there are delays in software (I am a software tester) and things do take a lot longer than initially planned, but still; it is about trust and communication, especially when you have pledged money towards the project. You do expect the developers to live up to their promises, and keep communication to a high so you feel involved in the project. If people are mislead and the trust disappears, then people will be reluctant to back future projects, even if they do deliver in the end, which I'm sure Darkseas will.
I'd have to say it's been a bit of a disappointment so far.
May 2013 started off with the setting up of the forum (but no Commander status) some updates thanking the backers, and providing more information on the weapons. August they posted a blog on Road to Hell, September about the Health System, October about the physics. Then the update on the Alpha which was already late.
The update stated that it's not in a state that they feel comfortable unveiling it, but when it does come out, it will have 4-player multiplayer in it.
November they post a blog about multiplayer ideas, and then in January, a video was posted which was the final communication on Kickstarter.
So a few months go by and I decide to have a peek at the forum. We still don't have Commander status, people are complaining that they haven't got their t-shirts, and the last post on the Official Developer Announcements was in November. Not one monthly design document has been sent out. Seems like a bit of a disaster.
However, digging deeper on the various posts, some comments on the progress had been made but not necessarily where you'd expect. One developer promises a video available December 20th but misses the deadline with no comment. On December 22nd, he posts various screenshots (again, why isn't this emailed to all backers instead of been hidden on a random thread), and comments that the AI and textures weren't to his liking so didn't want to capture those in a video. Alpha is apparently 'near', and updates will start to increase.
It seems most backers just want to play something, even if it was a bike sliding along a road with no animations, but the developers want all the features to be perfect including animations, texture and particle effects.
A video gets posted Jan 13th 2014 and a written update Feb 7, 25, March 16. Updates via the boards have increased.
On March 26th, it is announced that the long anticipated Alpha may arrive as early as the 28th. The deadline passes, but we are promised it will be a week late 'unless someone dies'. But we do have some new screen shots to get us excited.
Also on the boards is a debate on whether it should be released on the Xbox 360. Their website shows icons for PC/Mac/Linux and the PS4. There's no Xbox or Wii U like promised. It is advertised that if you pay now, you get instant access to the Alpha (which is a lie). Days later, the PS4 icon is removed.
Paul says "We are planning to iterate quickly on this build. We should be able to roll out one with keyboard support very quickly after the build comes out. Like in about a week."
On split-screen multiplayer: "It does work but it isn't going to be setup in the build because the placeholder gui isn't setup to handle it. It will be coming out as we iterate on the build. Probably like a week or two after we push out the first build."
April the 4th comes by, and the developers announce they are teaming up with Humble Bundle to release the Alpha. Will be released April 7th now. Luckily, no one has died.
April 7th. There's a bug with motion blur (no one cares, we just want the alpha). It is now delayed to April 8th. On a positive note, we now have our Humble Bundle keys.
April 9th. Announced that the alpha is now in the hands of Humble Bundle. Will be ready by 9pm (GMT).
April 9th (10pm). Announced that a mix up of the times means that it is now gonna be available midnight April 10th.
April 10th The alpha was finally released at 3am. The alpha shows off a desert themed track which has progressive levels of difficulty once you finish 1st in each race. The races have various traffic levels and car behaviours. Various weapons are shown that can be used to attack right/left (mapped to different buttons) as well as a kick which is useful for knocking racers into cars or off the bridge. Multiplayer isn't available, even though it got delayed in November for this reason.
Weeks go by. Still you can only play with an xbox 360 controller, causing unhappiness to some backers who have other controllers, or want keyboard support. Still no multiplayer.
May 8th. Paul says the new version will be out next week.
Features will include:Keyboard support, winter track, a bunch of new weapons, one or two new bikes, one or two new riders, different car physics, car damage, new vehicles, new mission type, and new traffic systems. Multiplayer still may not be available.
May 14th. Paul says the new version may still come out this week as planned, but it may be next week.
May 28th Paul: "We are polishing the build right now. Unless something crazy happens it will come out tomorrow morning."
May 29th Paul states there is a bug with the attack animation so now is aiming for the 2nd or 3rd June.
June 3rd Alpha version 2 is released. From Paul's notes:
- 8 levels
- New Winter Track - it is about 3-4x as long as the desert track
- Local Multiplayer - 2 to 4 players in splitscreen mode.?
- Mouse and Keyboard support
- Improved avoidance and combat biker AI
- Added Biker Police - they carry a new baton weapon that you can get by defeating them
- Added additional enemy rider models
- Improved vehicle physics and damage model
- Improved crash mechanics - still a work in progress
- Deflection Move Added to AI and Players. Deflecting an AI has a high probability of disarming the enemy. It still needs a lot more balancing to increase its utility.
- New Vehicles
- New Weapons - nail bat, police baton, C4, Pipe bombs, possibly more that I am forgetting.
- New Game Types - Survival mode and kill enemy rider missions
- Added a bunch of graphical flourishes and effects.
- More realistic rider lean animations - still a work in progress
- Car Rain
Due to these changes, the performance is now really sluggish. There's more vehicles on the road and more collisions between them which suffers a performance hit. Police bikes have flashing sirens which also causes slow-down. The new weapons are cool and the HUD looks more fancy. I took to the message boards to moan about the performance issues. There is way too much of a difference between the Very Low and Low settings. Very Low causes a severe loss of textures, the road ends up looking like it is painting as you drive along. I ask for options to turn off the extra detail like the dust, flashing lights, and broken car parts which slow the game down. Paul acknowledges they will work on the performance issues shortly.
I also posted about being concerned about the direction of the game. I don't expect the game to be fully realistic, but having missions where all the cars try and drive into you, or where cars rain down from the sky just makes the game seem like a joke. It's okay for it to be included as a bonus mini-game but I don't want to see it in the main game. I wanted an alpha version where I can just race, rather than being restricted to certain conditions, or having something silly included in the race.
July 17 Based on the progress so far, I actually don't log on the message boards until mid September. The boards seem pretty dead but I did find a post July 17th from Paul. "September 15th is our target date to have a large amount of the single player/coop campaign content playable and hopefully a multiplayer format working. There may be a release before then but I'm not sure. There will definitely be gameplay stills and videos between now and then."
As far as I'm aware, there was no version, videos or images provided. The developers put an advert out for a new course designer and stated they wanted a Mario Kart Rainbow Road track. More stupidity is gonna be included then.
September 18th Of course, the Steam Early Access is late! It's an interesting format where you are given a random race condition and you gain experience and money from completing it. Experience is permanent but money and upgrades you buy are lost when you lose all health. A permadeath campaign is interesting, but if they stick with it, I hope that's not the only mode. I still want my traditional Road Rash experience. There's still plenty of stupidity in the game, this time we can race along the roofs of sky-scrapers and jump across with jets. Cars drive along the roofs too. The performance issues haven't been fixed and have got worse. Many people complain that their high end PC's drop to a few frames per second. The team promise to dedicate the next set of updates to fixing these issues. Also receiving complaints is the price of the game. The Kickstarter page was basically $15 if you just wanted the game on release, but $40 if you wanted access to the alphas. Prior to the Early Access launch, we got 2 releases. Now it's on Steam, it's £15 full price, but at the discount rate of £13.49 for a week. Sadly, any posts about this issue get removed. Personally, I think we have a right to complain.
September 20th A minor patch is released which promises to improve performance in some areas.
September 26th As promised, we have had several updates. The frequency of these updates is crazy, but we shouldn't complain ;)
October 30th There has been many updates over the month, promising better usability and better performance. Today had a special update, a Halloween themed Hellfire Rider.
November 3rd More performance updates for particle effects and lighting. Better car AI. Performance updates specifically for the new Halloween themed track.
November 7th Halloween stuff removed. Waste of time if you ask me. Development resources should have been used elsewhere.
December 18th Lots of people demanded character and bike selection, so now this has been implemented.
December 22nd Shovel Knight is now a rider.
December 28th Car rain has been toned down.
January 12th 2015 I hadn't played since the Halloween update, so I thought I'd see if the updates made a big difference. There's still massive frame rate drops when the police are on the track, so obviously the lighting performance hasn't changed much. The loading times do seem shorter but there's a big delay when the menu shows after the race, so you can see it, but cannot select anything for several seconds. They have toned the car rain levels down, so it's far less chaotic and doesn't cause massive performance issues. Other than the bike/character selection, there's nothing that seems new or notable.
February A couple of updates. After this it was announced that the team would focus on moving over to the new version of Unity. This would take a while but they felt it was necessary to improve the performance.
June 11th The update is finally here, just in time for the start of the Steam sale.
- Upgraded to newest engine!
- -Graphics are hugely improved, including a completely new lighting system
- -Physics performance is hugely improved. Physics engine now runs on multiple CPU cores.
- -Completely overhauled bike physics and handling
- -New weapons
- -New enemies
- -Completely overhauled almost every mission
- -No more "no weapons" missions
- -New post-apocalyptic city region of the map
- -Overhauled critical attack system
- -You can now choose to swap out weapons for new weapons recovered along the race
- -Fixed hundreds of other bugs and made 100s of other improvements.
Some other minor updates follow over the next few days.
July 11th We have had lots of small updates over the previous month
November 25th A large update
- Quick Race Mode!
- Improved incentive system for completing missions
- More reliable kicking code
- Improved combat AI
- Full screen motion blur
- Improved lighting
- Improved track design
- Balance improvements
- Environmental improvements with alternate paths and forks in the road
- Added environmental objects
- Improved depth of field effect
- New traffic vehicles
March 31st 2016 After 4 months of no communication, an update was posted via Kickstarter, announcing that they will provide updates on progress and aim to finish the project in the summer. They will then work on ports to the Xbox One and PS4. Reading this statement makes me think of the initial Kickstarter campaign...
We will release Road Redemption on PC (Windows/Mac/Linux), August of next year, with a Wii U port following a few months after, and hopefully an Xbox 360 port at the same time.
The August they were referring to was 2014 so the game is going to be 2 years late. I backed the game knowing that the three systems I had (PC, Xbox 360, Wii U) could all play the game. Now it looks like it's gonna be PC only for me. That's not a huge problem since I probably wouldn't have played on multiple consoles. My original idea was to play the alpha on the PC, and play the full game on the Wii U, giving away my Xbox 360 version. Since I paid $40 to fund the project based on several promises, I think I have the right to feel a bit aggrieved by this. On the plus side, it's nearly complete, but you can buy the game for £14.99 on Steam in its current state.
May 26th 2016
It's been nearly 2 months since the last statement about regular updates. Today we get a statement that there will be an update soon.
June 22nd 2016
A new patch!
June 29th 2016
A release date is announced: October 15th.
August 23rd 2016
The flooding in Louisiana may delay the game further.
September 23rd 2016
Online multiplayer should be released shortly. The single-player script has been written and they are hiring voice actors.
December 14th 2016
Nothing to report other than I forgot this game existed until I was looking at my blog page. Remember those frequent updates they promised back in March? Remember the October release date? The developers sure haven't.
October 4th 2017
Finally released! Although as a mockery of poor communication, it is released under Pixel Dash Studios rather than Darkseas. When did the company name change!?
On the 6th October, an announcement was published to Kickstarter saying digital rewards are coming soon. It is 21st October as I write this and I still don't have them. Why do people who buy on Steam get these rewards instantly, but Kickstarter backers have to wait?
Here's a rundown of what the developer's delivered:
Road Redemption Design Doc
Access To Developer's Forum
|Yes, but became redundant when the Early Access appeared on Steam|
Digital copy of Road Redemption For PC
|Yes. Although they did promise this was DRM free and it's only available via a Steam key|
|Digital copy of Road Redemption for the Wii U or Xbox 360||Cancelled. We did get a free PC gift key though|
Access to Road Redemption Open Beta
|Nothing was defined as an Open Beta|
Your name in the Road Redemption Hall Of Fame (accessed from the main menu)
|Will have to check if there is an option in the main menu. My name is in the credits though.|
Exclusive Barbed Wire Baseball Bat
Exclusive Chrome Barbed Wire Baseball bat
Access to Road Redemption closed Beta
|It was in Early Access on Steam for years. No stage defined as Beta though|
Digital copy of Road Redemption art book
|Currently available for those who pay £2.09 on Steam. Hasn't been given to Kickstarter backers of yet.|
Commander Status in Developer's Forum
Digital Copy of Road Redemption Soundtrack
Access to Road Redemption Closed Alpha
|It was in Early Access on Steam for years|
|Your name carved in the gang's clubhouse wall||There is no clubhouse|
|A few months after Road Redemption launches, we’ll be releasing our full C# source code, and Unity project files to the public.||No word on this|