So it seems my bump of that steam thread got it locked (sorry goa) so I decided to make a new one.
The Big Announcement
As everyone knows, SOASE Trinity multiplayer has long been a continual embarrassment for the entire fanbase. It seemed that Ironclad placed a higher priority on the single player aspect of the game, even though they had on their hands a brilliant multiplayer one.
List of reasons why ICO sucks:
1. No matchmaking (seriously?)
2. No leaderboards
3. Horrible stability problems
4. No auto-map downloading
5. Too much barebones functionality that becomes readily apparent when you play for the first time
So, many players were beyond excited when Stardock/Ironclad announced Rebellion, as they were promised the game would lead to expanded multiplayer features. The old days of sitting around in a lobby for hours and hours were finally about to end. The time for Diplomacy was over. Rebellion was upon us.
But then it was announced the game was to be released alongside Steam...A chorus of fans screamed their disapproval. Was it not Stardock, they said, who was the foremost opponent of DRM? Was it not they, who created the "Gamer's Bill of Rights?" Was it not they, who was the last beacon of light and hope against the darkness that is Steam?
Gamer's Bill of Rights
4. Gamers shall have the right to have their games not require a third party download manager installed in order for the game to function.
8. Gamers have the right to use their games without being inconvenienced due to copy protection or digital rights management.
But alas, the $$$ Steamroller (haha) continued to trample the bodies of millions of its devoted fans... the smell of greenbacks was apparently too alluring for Stardock.... However, the majority of fans were willing to forgive this deep betrayal... as long as Ironclad/Stardock continued to make excellent games, they argued, what is a little DRM poison down our throats?
And the devs were offering such sweet promises...
Frogboy (Stardock CEO) in Feb 2012:
"If someone wants to point to a viable alternative to Steamworks, then do so. Otherwise, asking us to cripple the experience for 95% of the player base (in-game achievements, leader boards, multiplayer help -- people are going to freak when they see how well Rebellion does in MP compared to Trinity, player stats, etc.) is unreasonable. People want these features. They're expected in modern games. "
Another quote in Jan 2012:
"We’re still looking into multiplayer enhancements but hope to implement some form of auto-matching or player ranking system."
Shock and Awe
Exactly one year after Rebellion's announcement, a public beta was released for all pre-order members. "AHA," exclaimed the Stardock loyalists. "Stardock does care about its customers! Can you see EA or Activision doing this?" Little did they know of the horror that awaited them...
The beta could be summarized in one word: Crap. Numerous bugs, glitches, imbalanced factions ruining balance... the list went on and on. Also, NONE of the promised multiplayer features were implemented. Many testers expressed their list of concerns about the game on their forums. Stardock was slow to respond. Common-sense proposals about jumping starbases and corvettes were ignored for weeks on end. The Vasari factions were strangely buffed, much to the bewilderment of skilled players. Meanwhile, the technical aspect of the game was getting worse. Minidumps, long thought to be extinct, were making a roaring comeback. Soon every game in 3 was experiencing players dropping.
But not to worry, said Stardock. This was just a beta, all of the bugs and glitches would be fixed. And on release day, it would be tall, broad-shouldered, and muscled like a maiden's fantasy...And like the sheep following each other to slaughter, the fans believed this little lie...
The Day of Reckoning
June 2012. Release day. Eager fans downloaded rebellion as soon as the clock hit 12:00. They then logged into ICO. Shock. Horror. It was the exact same interface... the exact same gameplay ... the exact same ordeal of minidumps and disconnects... Many fans were aghast at this experience. They were horrified and betrayed. Numerous posts in this forum were created to express their deep and profound disappointment. But one by one, those threads were locked...
By now, Stardock was getting desperate. Fan reviews were trashing the game in numerous sites. Many noticed the odd discrepancy between the "official" reviews and the user ones... A single courageous voice dared to speak the truth and expose this corruption... He was forever banished, never to be seen or heard again...
...But never fear, Yarlen is here! Our intrepid moderator of the forums, in a post 4 months after release, vaguely promised new 'multiplayer features' in January 2013.
Yarlen Oct 2012- "I'm going to be looking into additional multiplayer stuff on my own time, gang. Will let you know more once I design some stuff out, but give me till December/January to get my bits organized. "
Sadly, little did the fan base know that "stuff" was actually a new plague of minidumps...
"We invested quite a bit of time/money/effort into multiplayer with Sins: Rebellion. I'm sorry that it didn't meet everyone's expectations, but we did fix the existing desyncs, crashes, many performance issues, added Steamworks support to help prevent smurfing, added Steam Friends and more."
It also did not help that the devs were stuck in denial...
As weeks turned into months, and months into years, the fanbase had had enough. They began to abandon ICO by the hundreds. The players online dropped to ~140 during peak hours. Stardock was getting frantic. Two barebones DLCs and failed to stop this hemorrhaging. Stardock tried to stimulate the SOASE economy with repeated steam sales, but they too bit the dust. Their schemes were finally at an end...
Two years after its release, the promised features never materialized. Ironclad Online is still horribly broken. Player count is lower than ever. The influx of people from steam sales is long gone. It looks like SOASE is on its way to being buried in the ashes of gaming history, never to see the light of day...
So what exactly happened? Was this the typical hyping up of a new game? Were the new features cut due to development costs? Or did the devs lie through their teeth to increase sales?