The Current Status Of Cube World, And Why Fans Are Worried About It

The Current Status Of Cube World, And Why Fans Are Worried About It

It's been a while since we've written about Cube World, the amazing-looking voxel-based RPG with a focus on exploration. Thing is, it's been kind of mum over the last few months -- causing many a fan to worry. Really worry.

Click on expand on this screenshot to get a taste of how some fans of the game feel -- it's a variety of tweets directed at the developer:

The Current Status Of Cube World, And Why Fans Are Worried About It

So what's been going on? Has development stopped? Where is the project right now? Is Wollay, the developer, even alive? Fans have all sorts of questions like these.

The short answer is that the game is still being worked on -- we'll get to that in a second. First, let's do a recap.

It all started back in 2011, when Wolfram von Funck, aka Wollay, posted the first screenshots of a charming-looking role-playing game that promised players a vast, procedurally generated world. Cube World, he called it. Lots of people took notice -- the project looked promising, especially since it was taking inspiration from great games like Zelda andMinecraft.Still, despite the clamor from fans, it still felt like kind of a hushed affair -- Wollay repeatedly said he didn't know when the game will release. It wasn't until 2012 that another person joined the team: his wife, Sarah von Funck, who is contributing as a coder, designer and concept artist on the project. Heck, we still don't know what the official name of this thing will be -- "Cube World" is just a fill-in for now, according to the developer. Last year, Luke Plunkett said that Cube World was "quietly" becoming his most anticipated game of 2012, reflective of how low-key the game's marketing and PR has been.

Updates on the progress of the game weren't unheard of, of course -- based on his old development blog, Wollay would periodically give updates that included new screenshots, videos, and hints of upcoming plans. Most would come once a month, if that, with updates ramping up in 2013 -- which is when a playable alpha of the game was planned. The catch: players would have to pay for the privilege of early access. This is where things got tricky.

The alpha, which launched in July of this year, did not go as planned. Immediately, the servers hosting the game were crushed, the shop was taken down, and Wollay said things would remain down "until all issues are resolved." Initially, the assumption was that too many people wanted to play the game at a time, overwhelming the servers. Kotaku spoke to Wollay on July 8th, who told us that he believed it was actually a distributed denial of service attack, which is basically users intentionally disabling servers with high traffic. While we could not confirm this was the case, any attempts to purchase the game prior to obtaining a review key were futile; the site was often down.

"Initially we assumed the fault was on our side, like our download/updating system could be broken, so we closed the sale and improved our system," Funck had told Kotaku."But it turned out that all these problems were the result of DoS attacks. It seems that someone is trying to systematically damage us and our business. The attacks usually occur during evening/night as soon as we open our store or user registrations. The attackers obviously want to prevent us from selling our game."

While the team said they were working on a fix, they gave no ETA on when players could expect to be able to purchase the game again, or when things would go back to normal. Things seemed to "settle down" on July 12th, and players have indeed been able to purchase the game, but since then, there have been few updates to the site or Wollay's Twitter. He stated he would attend the Gamescom trade show in August on his personal Twitter account, and the last update to the site was back in July 23rd, where he outlined some future steps for the game. These included improvements for their shop, bug fixes, performance tweaks, multiplayer configuration, new content, and some website changes. The game itself has also not been updated since July 23rd, according to the launcher that boots up when you start the game. That means it's been about three months since any concrete news has hit about Cube World.

Curious about what was going on, Kotaku contacted Wollay to ask about his radio silence. He not only updated his Twitter for the first time in months in response...

Don't be concerned, we're still working on Cube World. We just have a lot of additional work to do at the moment.

-- Wolfram von Funck (@wol_lay) October 21, 2013

...but he also told us a bit about how the project was coming along and what players could expect in the future:

The new update is coming along nicely. We're still experimenting with some features and are working on an improved launcher. At the moment there's just a lot of work going on behind the scenes, like customer support, server/website development, and we're currently moving to a new appartment with more space for our development studio.

As for what players can expect in the upcoming patch/updates, aside from what was outlined on the Picroma website back in July, this is what Wollay is thinking about including:

There's an option for a smaller user interface, the controls will be configurable and there are a few new creatures. We're tweaking game balance to make it easier at lower levels and harder at higher levels. We're also experimenting with some major changes but I'm not sure yet which ones will make it into the next patch.

The question on everyone's mind, of course, is when this is all happening -- if players were anxious to get updates on the game before, the curiosity and anticipation for game updates has only multiplied now that some players have spent money on the game. Understandably. Payment begets the need for accountability. Unfortunately, as always, Wollay remains cagey on any specific time frames.

"We're doing our best to release the update as soon as we can but I'm really bad at estimating," Wollay told Kotaku today. When asked if the DDoS ordeal was at all influencing how much he talks about the game now, he responded with a "Maybe" and then added that "It was a very discouraging experience."

It's worth noting that Wollay has gone 'radio silent' in the past, too: just this year, there was at least one 4-month gap between updates. The slow pace of development thus far, along with the fact that it's a team of two people who are working on this as a self-described "small hobby project," make it seem as if the latest lack of updates aren't a cause for alarm -- it's simply the game continuing to grow at the pace it always has, with its developer still not being as transparent as some would like. The way things are being handled might frustrate some players for sure, but it's also not a sign of an aberration. In case the status of the game ever changes, we'll keep you updated on the project.


Comments

    I've been wondering why there hasn't been any updates. Although I only really started thinking about it over the last week or two. I can understand why he's keeping quiet, considering the world-class douchery that was the DDoS attacks when he opened up for sales of the game - but it'd be nice to see even a few small updates here and there just to let people know they're alive. I've seen one update since I purchased it, and that was months ago.

    I'm happy to wait, but hope that time doesn't diminish interest in the game and damage sales or further development just from a lack of interest.

    It's a really great game, and a fantastic effort for a two man studio. I wish him all the best.

    I'm happy I decided to wait for Cubeworld. Hopefully I'll still be interested when it's at a stable enough level for me to play.

      It's pretty stable as is. Has been for me anyway. There's the odd bugs here and there, but I haven't had any crash problems.

        I haven't really had any bugs at all. I haven't played since the week or two after launch, but it was extremely stable. I didn't experience any issues at all except boredom, but that's to be expected with an Alpha (pre-alpha?) build of a game. I'll play it each time it updates, but I don't know that I'm going to try to persuade friends to buy it until full release or close to it.

    Low level nerf? Does that mean no more death Star mages? :)

    What I don't understand is why he didn't just take the game to an established storefront after all the DDoS attacks.. something like BMT Micro or Desura or something like that.. or even Greenlight it on Steam.. he tried it his way with his self-publishing model.. but that didn't work.. learn from your mistakes, move on and get the game out there where it belongs.

    I played the game quite a lot when I did manage to get my hands on it and I found it to be an absolutely wonderful and satisfying experience. However it's not just game updates that are difficult to come by.. but being able to post to the actual official forums is not possible and as you can see from the amount of tweets, there's a lot of people asking but getting no answers.. there's not even any regular updates on the blog etc

    It's one thing to not be able to answer all the questions.. it's another thing to just ignore, blatantly ignore, the community that is supporting you not just financially but also socially etc. Even if it were just a paragraph of what they're working on every 2 or 3 weeks on the blog.. that would suffice for 99% of the people.. but they're not even doing that.

      What would you call his reponses to Kotaku and his tweet? I'd consider a 2 month gap for a *very* small Indie hobby project quite validated after the abuse he received from the attacks, and angry bandwagoners soon after.

      A game like this doesn't grow fast, and making it Greenlit etc shows he is doing it for the sales, and nothing else. Its been a hobby project from the start, and he seems to want to keep it that way. That is credible, not stupid.

        That's the way I see it too. It's a hobby that he wanted to work on for fun. The fact that it's good enough to buy it is great! But people need to realize that it is a hobby, and there's no promise of rapid development.

        Considering that I interact with over 30 other "tiny" indie developers with a handful of those being single person developers with much, much larger and more ambitious projects than this and they certainly have no problem writing a couple of lines of text now and then (most actually write a lot more than a couple lines of text every day).

        If it were a hobby without any sales, fine.. I get that.. but the moment he monetised it, it became a commercial product with obligations.

        Even just a couple of lines of text would have been enough for people to know there is still stuff going on.. heck! People genuinely thought he'd died. I'm not talking about writing an in-depth blog, hundreds of lines long.. I'm simply talking about a couple of lines of text on the news/blog page.

        I stand by my comment, including the one about it being an amazing game and an awesome accomplishment.

          But what do the few lines he sent now mean? That's what you have failed to answer. He has come out with a few lines, and people still aren't satisfied.

          Also, I know plenty of Indie developers as well, and I'd have to say none of them suffered the same sales abuse Wollay did. I don't blame anyone for going dark after having to deal with that, as i've never seen a similar attack on an Indie level.

          EDIT: Also, what is more ambitious then a game like Cube World? Endless world generation done randomly, with massive multiplayer capability's, and all the planned features. I'm not its the most ambitious project ever, but i'd love to know what else is out or coming out that is "more" ambitious then that. I can't think of much else someone could add, especially while remaining as a one man developing, and publishing team (seeing as most people would use Steam or a similar distribution service instead of taking on that ambitious work load).

          Last edited 25/10/13 3:56 pm

            As one example, take Limit Theory (www.ltheory.com). It's one guy.. doing endless "universe", procedurally generated, all done by himself including the graphics and audio engines. :) Check it out, I think you will be amazed by it. :)

            Back to the topic at hand though.. yes, he made some comments "now" but I am commenting on the lack of comments for that extended period of time. I'm not having a go at the guy personally just his lack of communication during a time that was emotionally difficult for him but also during a time when he'd just gone commercial... when you take money from people, you begin to have obligations and comms/cust-serv is at the forefront of those obligations. Even if you stripped away everything else, good comms is a must.

              In terms of software obligations, I'd consider a working product perfectly meeting those obligations.

              But I completely understand your point, and that game looks great! But i do understand the need for Wollay to go silent, and don't see it as bad practice. I see it as protecting his personal life, after such a directed attack.

      Its been stated that its 'his' project and I think it has come down to the ideals he has stood by for the reason of not porting it to a legit storefront.

      But as for the contact I believe even a 'I'm still here working on it'..'new apartment to increase our studio been busy delays expected'...........'on holiday will be back soon' is really not hard and would have helped the community understand whats actually going on rather than just sitting here twiddling thumbs.

    People shouldn't be surprised, when Cube World was a blog Wollay updated it only every couple of Months if that, he's never been one for updating often.

    Just compare that with Gnomoria which is also a single dev Indie game. The Dev of Gnomoria was releasing a patch every week until recently when he switched to a patch every 2 weeks and he is regularly communicating in his forum. What more would you ask from an Indie Dev.?

    Question: Cube World seems pretty innocuous, pretty harmless, why would anyone want to DDOS it?
    I mean I get the world is full of arseholes but it seems so random. I can see DDOSing Minecraft or Steam because maybe some people don't like Notch or Steam's DRM, but I think most gamers haven't heard of Wollay, especially if they've not paid any attention to Cube World.

    Thus, I submit for approval to the Kotaku community a completely baseless theory: Is it possible that Cube World's servers were DDOS'd because Wollay eats puppies?

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