Hello, dear fans!
Last March we were attacked in twitter by an old team member. He spread misinformation “campaign“ by mixing truth and incorrect interpretations to imply malicious intents in our actions. The production in the team was indeed going rough and we shared the full story of what has been happening with the project in our latest 7.01 update video.
To address the situation with misinformation, we decided to restrain from feeding into the provocations of our old friend and resolve the situation in a calm and fully open manner in our Discord server.
Since not all of our fans may be reading discord, but want to find out our side of the story, our answers, we compiled a list of questions and answers by our leads of departments: Kjellska, Dex and lead of the project – Dreamy Wings.
Why weren’t we active in twitter? Because if you’ve been on twitter long enough, you may understand that this is not a platform for full-length detailed conversations. Twitter’s limitations are too easy to exploit. Therefore we have had a full-length Q&A that can be read in #general since this date and message:
What is Moe, why is it being a part of the conversation?
Dreamy: Moe is a side-project that I, Dreamy Wings, have been doing while attending last year in college. At this time I left the Ambient production team as mentioned in Update #7.01.
TimeTravel_01 is me, Dreamy. I worked on it while I was absent from project, with my friends in college. I pursued two goals with this:
1. I was desperate when the situation with new writer happened and that is why the idea came to me about to make a smaller simpler game, along with finishing final year of college, so the profit from smaller game could be used to fulfill Ambient’s ambitions.
2. I knew I needed a break from Ambient, so I wouldn’t go insane. The break took much longer then expected.
In time of me working on Moe, I took a break and as was explained in Update #7.01 I have not been taking any money from Ambient’s Patreon. Unfortunately a plan of hiring a different game developer has failed and at certain point finances started just piling up. Right now, though, there is enough finances to fix the most glaring issue in game’s ambitions – cutscene animations. The Ambient Project is very important to me, and I am honest in telling that Moe was a backup plan to fulfill Ambient’s ambitions. But still, of course, I am to blame for it’s failure and further delay in Ambient Project. For that and not being clear enough about what I am doing – I’m sorry.
Why didn’t Dreamy tell about working on Moe after temporarily leaving the team?
Dreamy: it seems kinda obvious to me. What can be reaction to me telling that I’m going to take a break from Ambient to earn money for Ambient through another game? I bet the reaction would be a complete death of a project, as people think I don’t believe in Ambient, just trying to cover this with a lie that “I’m doing it all for Ambient!”. People may think I don’t want to work on it, so the lead is gone and will not help the team complete the project. So the feeling would be as it has died. I didn’t want that. So we had a plan with Piramidhead to make sure project does not die while I’m gone, but this plan have failed as was explained earlier.
Anyway, believe it or not, if MOE was a success, I would work on Ambient with more realistic budget. But it was not a success, so I’m back to working on Ambient anyway, just with less time and budget then planed.
Was Dreamy taking money from the Ambient Patreon to work on Moe?
Dex: None of the patron money was ever used for Moe. While Dreamy was working on that, the rest of our team was still working on Ambient and the money was going to them, not Dreamy.
Did ALBD take patron money while Dreamy was away? Why was there no progress being made then?
Dex: The rest of the team was working on the game. And as he still was the face of the project, he posted most of the updates to the public.
As he himself says (and as far as our accounting records show), he did indeed not touch any of the money for the period that he was working on Moe. There was work being done on the game, but it was going slow up to a point where it halted completely, exactly as pointed out in that update. (Update 7.01)
Is Dreamy still working on Moe?
Dex: Moe is now finished. Dreamy is not working or going to work on it anymore. It has been released and that’s the end of the story for that project.
Was Kjellska involved in Moe?
Kjellska: I knew about the game MOE, Dreamy sent me a DM a while ago saying “a friend” needed some voice acting I discovered that he was in fact that “friend” on the 15th of March thanks to one of this server’s members who sent me a vocal interview where I recognised Dreamy’s voice. I confronted him about it and he confessed on the 18th. I agreed not to tell the team because it would bring spirits down, I just simply understood his reasons. I absolutely did not know about him being TimeTraveler_01 until said date, which is why I seemed so surprised on the screenshot from our team server.
Saphire probably made those claims against me as a personal vendetta or something, as we got along quite dreadfully.
About control of Ambient Project’s funds
There was this time of Dreamy blocking team’s access to the funds, right?
Dreamy: There was. And there was a good reason for that happening. Even though I left the project at certain point – I still had a responsiblity of this project still running and producing a good game. I still owe supporters and myself a game that was shown and promised. At that time the funds were cut from the producer of the game – Piramidhead. The main reason was him not providing any materials for the RuBronyCon 2018 convention for me to approve before the presentation. Despite promising to do everything on time and according to plan multiple times. All of the materials, including presentation were made last minute and because of this were very flawed. Still, it was a success and after a detailed review of why it happened – the access to the funds was returned.
Piramidhead: Indeed this situation occurred. Dreamy cut off the access to Patreon account because I haven’t explained him a plan for the RuBronyCon 2018 presentation. But when I explained to him the reasons why it was close to impossible to plan everything prior, he gave the new password to the team and nothing like that ever happened again.
Was Dreamy taking money out of the funds for personal use instead of the development?
Dreamy: Just to be clear, I took and now I do sometimes take money for myself. But simply as a reward for the work I do. Other then that I use money to hire people for essential work, to make rewards to people in the team, when people absolutely deserve it and I also buy assets when they are needed.
So how were funds coming from patreon spent?
Dreamy: For a long time I was working semi-alone on the project. There was only one other dev that has been helping me out constantly and I have paid him for most of his work, as much as I could. The patreon monthly support was usually in amounts near 700$. There was a decision I had to take: Pay everybody for constant work, but a very little amount (50$-100$ per month) or pay most of it to myself so at least I could work truly full-time. Before the start of work of every person in the team I made sure they know that they are signing up for work, that only will be paid out after release. Nontheless there were months when I have divided at least 200$ to pay to 4 people in the team. Small amount, but we don’t have a budget to pay everybody more then that with me capable of working full time. You may ask any person in the team, that is the truth. Even Saph was in the list, but he refused to take the payment.
At the point when I left the project (Mentioned in Update #7.01) – I didn’t accept the money, but made sure to keep track of where it goes, paying monthly to our producer and a game developer that we hired and that wasn’t successful in what he tried to do with the project. For at least half a year after we laid off the failed game designer at least half of finances were piling up in our bank account. In a somewhat happy conclusion – this finances are now used in hiring animators to contribute to the most glaring ambition of the game: animation for cinematics.
About our Management
Is ALBD management bad?
Dex: Our management issues were the topic of the big update video. We know about them and many of them are already resolved while others are still being worked on. As you can probably tell from all the other updates we’ve made since then
Why do you release old demos and information as new?!
Dex: All our demos are released with a timestamp stating clearly what date the demo is from. In our announcements (as you can see in the #🔔announcements channel), we also tell you how old the released demos are. The reason for older demos being released now is that they have had their run as a patreon exclusive and are now being published for all (even non-patrons) to enjoy. The same goes for information. To my knowledge there has not been a case where anybody would release something old and claim that it was new, but let me know if you see anything you want clarified.
Why did you fail to deliver important material for panels at conventions on time?
Dex: All our conventions panels went smoothly as far as I know (and I’ve been to all of them except one). We did run into an issue at RuBronyCon 2018 where through a combination of people forgetting their computers, drives being lost and general organizational stress we had to do some last minute changes to a panel we were about to have – namely to omit a segment showing some elements of the game live on stage. The panel went fine nevertheless and was quite successful. But I would not call that ‘failing to deliver important material’, I’d call that ‘s**t happens’.
Why did you silence people who brought anything negative up?
Dex: I don’t recall a single case of people being silenced because they brought up an issue. I do, however, recall people being removed from the team for disrupting it, being toxic and causing unnecessary drama to the point that it prevented people from getting work done.
Did Dreamy just not share information with the team?
Dreamy: The truth is – ever since Ambient.Prologue I indeed was very secretive about every single thing. But as time gone on and it was more and more obvious that it does not work out. So with time I have been opening up more and more information. I have made a GDD at certain point, I gave access to project to everybody who worked on it, including Saph. The only thing that wasn’t shared was the script. But as the script was revealed to the team with the full-story prototype, I understood that it was a bad idea to hide it. So now, for example, the script is shared with the team too. everyone who read it, knows what the story is and how it will end (please don’t provoke this people to spoil it).
I cared about the project a whole lot. I was really scared of a leak. And even though all of this protection was put on, there was a leak of a game build. By Saphire himself. He shared it with a friend, and then this friend got mad at him sometime, and literally posted a game build on some discord server. AND this was NOT a reason why Saphire was kicked. When he told how the leak happened, I was willing to forgive him, despite team being sure that Saphire deserved to be kicked out.
Why wasn’t there any progress for a long time?
Dreamy: It was described well in Update #7.01. Since it’s release I have been working on Ambient half time as an only programmer+game desigener+level designer and producer for things like voice over, art and such. In this terms not much goes smoothly either. Aside from me having a very chaotic schedule, it took our VAs 2 months to record needed audio from a new script, since december. I don’t blame them, I know well that they have enough to deal with in their life, but the fact is – there is a huge amount of work that I am the only one capable of doing and other team members are slow too, unfortunately. Other then that, take into account that there was a fair amount of development progress we did not show, because it is not in a complete state.
(ironically the project I work on at my job has been going through production hell for few years too, and when I joined it, my boss was sure that it is nearly complete, but turns out, while all of the levels for it are 70% done, the gameplay wasn’t done at all, because the programmers working there are not experienced with games and create very poor-written scripts. Still, since I joined there – we were going at the same unreasonable crunches that I am forced to do with Ambient. Anyway, what I’m trying to tell is – my job makes the schedule very inconsistent. )
About lack of new public material
>see what’s happened with No Man’s Sky. They went dark for a while and focused on the game.
Dreamy: That is actually the plan that we were going forward with for a long while, even before No Man’s Sky situation. That is the reason we are so silent for long periods of time. Most members of the team still do not approve of this strategy, but I myself am more interested in working and showing the final result, instead of making constant updates, spoiling every single thing about the game to keep the hype or something.
But Saphire proved fraud!!!
Dex: There is no proof of fraud (or anything else aside from the fact that Dreamy lied about working on Moe) at all in what Saphire posted.
Distrust from Patrons?
Dreamy: I understand that this and me not keeping promises about deadlines doesn’t make a good look as for trusting me. But I did mention to Patrons for multiple times that I do not expect them to trust me, considering everything we have gone through. I understand patrons leaving after all of the mess today or months earlier when I explained what is the state of the project. Still, people support the dream and so, that keeps giving me more motivation to keep moving forward.
It looked like you use models that are off theme instead of following the design, according to Saphire.
Dreamy: The designs that Saph tweeted (the art) indeed has been made for Ambient. However the person who made that has left the team and didn’t let us use his work. Other then the art of this person, we didn’t have artist of that specialty. The art that was made by Vitaj [2D lead] and some other artists in the team is too abstract to use a construction blueprint. At the moment we are dealing with models in this way: We buy the assets and fix them to seem closer to Pony world. Well… I fix them. We don’t have modelers in the team at the moment. But even if we did – making all models from scratch, that are PBR and high-quality simply is not possible with our budget.
About Saphire being removed from the team
Dex: He was kicked from the team for disrupting it, being toxic and causing unnecessary drama to the point that it prevented people from getting work done and as he was angry about it, we didn’t want him to go and start insulting our game in this server, which there was a clear risk of him doing. Note my message saying “remove his role (ALBD-Team role) and set him to read-only for the rest of the day” – the intention of letting him cool down before unmuting him is clear.
The benefit of stopping the drama they were so desperately trying to make outweighed the drawback of losing a very capable sound designer. It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was in no way spontaneous.
It’s not that they are an unbearable person that you cannot be friends with, it’s just how they handle situations like this discussion.
I’m sure that there’s a place for them somewhere (perhaps in their own team doing their own thing), but it wasn’t with us.
Thank you for checking out this post!
We are still open to any qustions on our public discord server, on twitter and via email.
Right now we are still in development and plan to release Update #8 video soon.
Thank you for your support and good luck!