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"IT'S A NICELY DESIGNED GAME AS LONG AS YOU DON'T WANT ANY MEANING IN YOUR LIFE."-TIM

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Author Topic: How to get my money back  (Read 164 times)

JGteMolder

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How to get my money back
« on: December 30, 2018, 02:58:48 PM »

So, you guys promised the following in your campaign:

"Exquisitely Realized Underworld – Plunge into The Stygian Abyss: dark, ripe with dangers, full of ancient secrets to discover. A vast subterranean fantasy world made startlingly real and alive.
Dynamic Factions – Become embroiled in an epic plot, as rival factions vie for dominance in struggles that ebb and flow across The Stygian Abyss. Your choices will alter the outcome in subtle and dramatic ways. "

"Far more than a dungeon crawl, Underworld Ascendant is a next-generation sequel to the legendary fantasy RPG’s Ultima Underworld & Ultima Underworld 2. It not only modernizes the series’ visuals and user interface to take full advantage of the today’s powerful PC’s, it innovates in bold new ways."

"Get drawn into an epic story with ties to the original Ultima Underworld games. Play as The Avatar, a human newly arrived from our earth through a mystical Runegate. As a “stranger in a strange land” you will:

Meet shrewd characters, with their own motivations and agendas. Some may be swayed to your cause, while others may manipulate you.

Encounter rugged dwarf frontiersmen, fierce dark elf renegades, and strangely alien shamblers. Each faction holds a valid claim to The Stygian Abyss. Which side will you join? Will you unite, or destroy?

Entangle yourself in a tale of intrigue and conflict as three fierce, rival factions struggle for control. Your choices will determine the ultimate fate of The Stygian Abyss."

What this thing turned into instead is a quest-giver hub, and portals to small walled off sections for you to do missions, with not a single NPC, except for the quest-givers who do nothing but give quests, in sight.

Then you put up "how you got here" where you blatantly said you were always intending to make this, rather than the description in the Kickstarter, making your Kickstarter a blatant scam, or your "how you got here" blatant lies.

Either way, I'd like my money back, where and how do I request a refund?
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Dewi Morgan

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Re: How to get my money back
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2018, 04:28:28 AM »

The description you quote is sad, in that it shows their dreams.

But so far as I can tell, they have fulfilled every single one of their claims there... just, at the "minimal viable product" level that was needed to release.

Sure, the hyperbole is at 80s gamebox levels, but just like them, it's not technically a word of a lie.

Looking at this:

Would you expect this?



Same kinda deal!

But let's break it down, clause by clause:

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Exquisitely Realized Underworld – Plunge into The Stygian Abyss:

It's a dungeon, and people call it the Stygian Abyss.

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dark, ripe with dangers, full of ancient secrets to discover. A vast subterranean fantasy world made startlingly real and alive.

Dark, check.
Ripe with dangers: I've died plenty. Check.
Ancient secrets: So long as those secrets are chests, memora, or graffiti, check.
Vast: By Underworld scale, yes.
Subterranean: check
Fantasy world: Even if there are no chainmail bikinis, there's swords and no guns or cars, so check.
Startlingly real and alive: By '90s standards, sure. Check, I guess, though that one's weak I admit.

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Dynamic Factions – Become embroiled in an epic plot, as rival factions vie for dominance in struggles that ebb and flow across The Stygian Abyss. Your choices will alter the outcome in subtle and dramatic ways.

It doesn't affect gameplay one whit, but it does affect the ending animation. They only promised to affect the "outcome".

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Far more than a dungeon crawl,

It's a dungeon crawl, plus some physics and sneak elements!

Quote
Underworld Ascendant is a next-generation sequel to the legendary fantasy RPG’s Ultima Underworld & Ultima Underworld 2.

Next generation after the UWs, in some senses, though since they were so far ahead of their time in the social part of the game, it still feels by far the lesser game in those aspects.

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It not only modernizes the series’ visuals and user interface to take full advantage of the today’s powerful PC’s,

But hey, it has physics, a full-screen viewport, 3D creatures, variable-height ceilings, walls that go at more than 45 degrees, etc. That's totally next gen, compared to the '90s.

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it innovates in bold new ways.

Flaming slug goo. And honestly, the magic system is pretty sweet, even though the lack of runes and high mana cost makes it very hard to love.

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Get drawn into an epic story

Well, epic's hard to define. "As a part of the Ultimas" it's arguably part of an epic story.

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with ties to the original Ultima Underworld games.

There are some names that you'll recognize. Sir Cabirus, for example. And runic casting. Bashable doors. Reapers (renamed "Rippers" and bent over backwards, but again I blame EA). Headlesses (yeah, they're skeletons, but they're a head-nod).

If La Croix can claim to have ties to citrus flavor, then this can claim to have ties to the Underworld. Both are being hyperbolic, but neither are outright lying.

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Play as The Avatar, a human newly arrived from our earth

Check.

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through a mystical Runegate.

Aha! It was a dream, not a runegate! In fact, all the portals are called portals. I suspect this was an "Electronic Arts not letting them use anything Ultimaish" thing, though.

Quote
As a “stranger in a strange land” you will:

"Meet shrewd characters, with their own motivations and agendas. Some may be swayed to your cause, while others may manipulate you.

Specifically, you meet one character for each of the two cases described. The manipulation happens only in the endgame.

Quote
Encounter rugged dwarf frontiersmen, fierce dark elf renegades, and strangely alien shamblers. Each faction holds a valid claim to The Stygian Abyss.

It didn't say you'd encounter the characters. You encountered their masks, and statues throughout the game.  Also met their representatives, and did quests on their behalf.

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Which side will you join?

Well, you can raise their faction appreciation; the implication is you "join" them if their faction level goes high enough. Not that the trader seems to notice.

Quote
Will you unite, or destroy?

You get to choose whether to raise their faction levels, which unites them all; or not. Destruction then happens.

Quote
Entangle yourself in a tale of intrigue and conflict as three fierce, rival factions struggle for control. Your choices will determine the ultimate fate of The Stygian Abyss.

Between "good ending" and "bad ending", but still.

Yes, it's about the weakest possible game that would check all the boxes; but it does scrape by and prettymuch check them all, if you read it with an 80s gamebox eye.

You can try asking your retailers (Steam, Kickstarter) for refunds, but read their ToS: Kickstarter just plain doesn't, and Steam has tight time constraints. You can also consider payment providers (creditcards, paypal, etc) but are unlikely to get satisfaction there.
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"re: kickstarter for the love of god I never want to do that again for video games." - Paul Neurath

Flatfingers

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Re: How to get my money back
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2018, 11:23:26 AM »

Those who like JGteMolder want a refund should have some pathway for such requests.

That said, Dewi, I'm reasonably competent at written expression but I can't properly tell you how much your comments meant to me. That wasn't just a properly detailed analysis of old-school game marketing hyperbole (contrasting it against feature announcements in today's game projects), or a reminder of how so much of early games depended on one's imagination (which absolutely was part of the fun) -- it was a 100% fair rebuttal to the unsupportably extreme expectations that some people have today about computer games, particularly crowdfunded ones.

I sometimes get the impression that some people think that because OtherSide is described as built from a core of Looking Glass alumni, OtherSide should somehow know exactly how to make a game -- no missteps, no false starts, no dead ends, just Complete Vision -> Perfect Game at 100% efficiency. And then they read Paul Neurath's comments that OSE weren't sure of UA's direction for a while, and they just cannot square these two concepts. The reality of game development bangs into a beautiful assumption about how game dev "ought" to be, and for some reason it's the assumption that wins; therefore the OtherSide team must be either incompetent or deliberately exploitative.

I think we can be kind to other people and still not go along with this mindset. The reality of game development is that it's both engineering and art, and the "art" part means there is no such thing as an Obviously Correct Path for turning ideas into a tangible product. Making art is messy... and that's before Marketing starts trying to sell stuff. There has to be some reasonable amount of tolerance for a difference between what's promised before anything's built and what's actually delivered, or no one will risk saying a word about any commercial art before it's released.
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JGteMolder

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Re: How to get my money back
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2018, 12:20:47 PM »

Same kinda deal!

No, it's nothing alike, partially because we've actually seen a game living up to the claims in the campaign statement; you know, the original.

Quote
But let's break it down, clause by clause:

Quote
Exquisitely Realized Underworld – Plunge into The Stygian Abyss:

It's a dungeon, and people call it the Stygian Abyss.

Bullskittles, a quest hub, with portals to tiny sections of Dungeon where you do stupid missions is in no way shape or form The Stygian Abyss; we know what's the Stygian Abyss, it's been in a whole series of games, one where the original Ultima Underworld was part of. This crap, is not it, in any way shape or form.

Quote
Quote
dark, ripe with dangers, full of ancient secrets to discover. A vast subterranean fantasy world made startlingly real and alive.

Dark, check.

Really, seems rather happy go-lucky even cartoony to me.

Quote
Ripe with dangers: I've died plenty. Check.
Ancient secrets: So long as those secrets are chests, memora, or graffiti, check.
Vast: By Underworld scale, yes.

No, by Underworld scale it's ridiculously tiny.

Quote
Subterranean: check
Fantasy world: Even if there are no chainmail bikinis, there's swords and no guns or cars, so check.
Startlingly real and alive: By '90s standards, sure. Check, I guess, though that one's weak I admit.

Real and alive? Are you kidding me? By 90s standards? Apparently you've never played any 90s RPGs, the 90s RPGs, especially on the PC, especially the Ultimas WERE real and alive; it was in Origin Systems slogan: "We create worlds!" Hell, the greatest software houses of the 90s, did exactly: create worlds. Just look at Westwood Studios, the 90s Elder Scrolls main line RPGs; they were real and alive. Underworld Ascending is not alive at all, it is dead, it is lifeless, it is a quest hub with some portals to some stupid missions, with not single thing you would see in a real and alive subterranean world. You know, the things you saw in the original. Hell, look at Ultima 4, 5, and 6; UA is not even real and alive by 80s standards, let alone the 90s.

Quote
Quote
Dynamic Factions – Become embroiled in an epic plot, as rival factions vie for dominance in struggles that ebb and flow across The Stygian Abyss. Your choices will alter the outcome in subtle and dramatic ways.

It doesn't affect gameplay one whit, but it does affect the ending animation. They only promised to affect the "outcome".

There are no factions period, let alone dynamic ones. There are only claims that there are factions, since you never actually encounter these factions, see nothing of their settlements, their way of life, just little pieces of text, those factions are not there.

Quote
Quote
Far more than a dungeon crawl,

It's a dungeon crawl, plus some physics and sneak elements!

That's not "plus" that's part of any well-created dungeon crawl. Far more than a dungeon crawl, would be like the original UU; something that looked like a living breathing place, a world that actually exist with people living there and having settlements, that you interact with. Hell, considering this is a quest hub sending you on missions through the same mini dungeons over and over, it's not too far fetched to call this thing not even a dungeon crawl.

Quote
Quote
Underworld Ascendant is a next-generation sequel to the legendary fantasy RPG’s Ultima Underworld & Ultima Underworld 2.

Next generation after the UWs, in some senses, though since they were so far ahead of their time in the social part of the game, it still feels by far the lesser game in those aspects.

No, it isn't, in any way shape or form; this is not next generation after previous UU, this is not even the same generation, it's not even a single generation back, this is going back all the way back to Akalabeth-generation "RPG"; and let's face it, Akalabeth isn't even really meant to be an actual game let alone an actual RPG; it's just a small-scale prototype where RG could get test out his code, so he could make Ultima.

Quote
Quote
it innovates in bold new ways.

Flaming slug goo. And honestly, the magic system is pretty sweet, even though the lack of runes and high mana cost makes it very hard to love.

Not only does it not innovate at all, whatever knots you have to twist yourself into comparing with the UU, it's all steps back, let alone that it's bold.

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Quote
Get drawn into an epic story

Well, epic's hard to define. "As a part of the Ultimas" it's arguably part of an epic story.

Bullskittles. If your answer is, "Go play other games in the series for the epic story" your game did not have an epic story. Hell, this thing doesn't have a story at all, let alone an epic one.

Quote
Quote
with ties to the original Ultima Underworld games.

There are some names that you'll recognize. Sir Cabirus, for example. And runic casting. Bashable doors. Reapers (renamed "Rippers" and bent over backwards, but again I blame EA). Headlesses (yeah, they're skeletons, but they're a head-nod).

If La Croix can claim to have ties to citrus flavor, then this can claim to have ties to the Underworld. Both are being hyperbolic, but neither are outright lying.

I rather this thing didn't have any ties to the original UU, then at least it wouldn't be sullying the first two.

It's also irrelevant; considering EA holds the copyright, nobody actually expected this to just straight up be an Ultima sequel; the thing we were all here for, was another experience like UU, this thing is in no way, shape, or form, anything like UU.

Quote
Quote
Play as The Avatar, a human newly arrived from our earth

Check.

Again, irrelevant, hell, considering the Avatar went out in a blaze of Armageddon to take out the guardian; it would have been better if it wasn't the Avatar, just another person from our world that stumbled through gate into Britannia.

Quote
Quote
through a mystical Runegate.

Aha! It was a dream, not a runegate! In fact, all the portals are called portals. I suspect this was an "Electronic Arts not letting them use anything Ultimaish" thing, though.

Irrelevant.

Quote
Quote
As a “stranger in a strange land” you will:

"Meet shrewd characters, with their own motivations and agendas. Some may be swayed to your cause, while others may manipulate you.

Specifically, you meet one character for each of the two cases described. The manipulation happens only in the endgame.

Except you don't meet any characters with motivations and agendas; you meet no characters at all; the only things in the shape of characters are not characters, they're a shop and quest-dispenser machine. And some asswipes showing up in a cutscene at the end, clearly is nothing that could possible fit that line, especially given what characters in an RPG means to anyone even remotely familiar with RPGs; you know that genre that the Ultima series practically built on its own, that the original UU fit to a 't', what was clearly meant with those lines, because it is effectively describing UU.

Quote
Quote
Encounter rugged dwarf frontiersmen, fierce dark elf renegades, and strangely alien shamblers. Each faction holds a valid claim to The Stygian Abyss.

It didn't say you'd encounter the characters. You encountered their masks, and statues throughout the game.  Also met their representatives, and did quests on their behalf.

Except of course, that they blatantly DID say you'd encounter the characters; they mention those characters in the line above.

Quote
Quote
Which side will you join?

Well, you can raise their faction appreciation; the implication is you "join" them if their faction level goes high enough. Not that the trader seems to notice.

I can't join anything that doesn't exist.

Quote
Quote
Will you unite, or destroy?

You get to choose whether to raise their faction levels, which unites them all; or not. Destruction then happens.

Bullcrap.

Quote
Quote
Entangle yourself in a tale of intrigue and conflict as three fierce, rival factions struggle for control. Your choices will determine the ultimate fate of The Stygian Abyss.

Between "good ending" and "bad ending", but still.

There is no tale, none at all. It's a mission-hub with missions.

Quote
Yes, it's about the weakest possible game that would check all the boxes; but it does scrape by and prettymuch check them all, if you read it with an 80s gamebox eye.

Nope, it doesn't, in no way shape or form does check all the boxes, it doesn't even manage to check half, if it even manages a third.

Quote
You can try asking your retailers (Steam, Kickstarter) for refunds, but read their ToS: Kickstarter just plain doesn't, and Steam has tight time constraints. You can also consider payment providers (creditcards, paypal, etc) but are unlikely to get satisfaction there.

If the developers at least have some hint of decency left in their bones, THEY pay me back.
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JGteMolder

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Re: How to get my money back
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2018, 12:46:16 PM »

Those who like JGteMolder want a refund should have some pathway for such requests.

That said, Dewi, I'm reasonably competent at written expression but I can't properly tell you how much your comments meant to me. That wasn't just a properly detailed analysis of old-school game marketing hyperbole (contrasting it against feature announcements in today's game projects), or a reminder of how so much of early games depended on one's imagination (which absolutely was part of the fun) -- it was a 100% fair rebuttal to the unsupportably extreme expectations that some people have today about computer games, particularly crowdfunded ones.

Extreme expectations, huh? You think managing to create something of the level of a 1992 game is "extreme expectations"? Wow. Okay, I suppose if you compare UU level game with the Akalabeth level game we got, I suppose it is extreme. But you know what, a quarter century after the release of UU, when you say you're going to bring back an experience like UU, getting something that is at least on par with UU is not an extreme expectation, in fact I'd say it's the barest minimum expectations.

In fact, I'd say if they had just straight up remade UU, I'd be happy, very happy, I still want a direct remake of UU. No matter how much I love it, the clunky multiple control schemes all active at the same time; and the lack of full screen game world, really, really makes it difficult to play; so a proper remake, YAY!

Those are not extreme expectations, those the barest minimum of expectations, and they couldn't even deliver- hell, had no intention delivering on them if the "how we got here" is to be believed.

Quote
I sometimes get the impression that some people think that because OtherSide is described as built from a core of Looking Glass alumni, OtherSide should somehow know exactly how to make a game -- no missteps, no false starts, no dead ends, just Complete Vision -> Perfect Game at 100% efficiency. And then they read Paul Neurath's comments that OSE weren't sure of UA's direction for a while, and they just cannot square these two concepts. The reality of game development bangs into a beautiful assumption about how game dev "ought" to be, and for some reason it's the assumption that wins; therefore the OtherSide team must be either incompetent or deliberately exploitative.

I think we can be kind to other people and still not go along with this mindset. The reality of game development is that it's both engineering and art, and the "art" part means there is no such thing as an Obviously Correct Path for turning ideas into a tangible product. Making art is messy... and that's before Marketing starts trying to sell stuff. There has to be some reasonable amount of tolerance for a difference between what's promised before anything's built and what's actually delivered, or no one will risk saying a word about any commercial art before it's released.

They described Ultima Underworld, they delivered Akalabeth. I don't give a damn how much you as fanboy wants to twist and turn to protect them, but if you claim you're going to deliver Ultima Underworld, but your product is so lacking in anything RPG, that one of the worst RPGs out of the 00's of all decades Two Worlds is more of an RPG and lives up more to your campaign statement, than your rose-tinted developers are a bunch of complete failures, and expecting from them to be able to deliver an RPG when they say they're going to make an RPG, is not in any way shape or form some kind of unduly expectation, nor some idea that they are 100% unfallible.

As for vision, all they had to do was play a chunk of UU to remind themselves what vision they need to aim for, hell, if only they had played Two Worlds, and aimed to create at least that level of RPG but in a subterranean world, we'd have a better product! Assume 100% unfallibe, my ass.
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Dewi Morgan

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Re: How to get my money back
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2018, 02:01:35 PM »

Flatfingers: I'm guessing you work in development yourself? You seem from this and other posts to very much "get" the reality of developing.

I think Otherside are disappointed themselves in this game, and likely somewhat disillusioned by the crowdfunding model, which forced them into a checklist of promises they had to fulfill. I think the world would be a little different if they'd started out at "System Shock" and worked up to "Underworld": SS is just an immersive sim, which they've successfully made here, while UW was a kitchen-sinky RPG, with elements of freaking everything. It completely boggles my mind how it ever got made in the first place, and tackling its successor as the company's first game suggests they underestimated it significantly.

It had variable height floors, sloping floors, 45 degree walls, 3D scenery, gravity and bouncing physics and dynamic freaking lighting... before Wolfenstein came out! And unlike Wolfenstein, it had not only ranged weapon combat, but melee combat with different strikes, runic magic, full bag-in-bag inventory with paperdoll, wand charges, trading, item ownership, item crafting, cooking, item wear and destruction, item repair, conversation, water currents, floor friction levels, destroyable terrain and scenery items, modifiable terrain, cooking, readable scrolls, levers and switches and floorplates, secret doors, AI aggression levels, about 50 different monster types, 300 different item types, item enchantments (boots of bounce!), and way more that I can't even remember. And for those developers who made those things, that probably seems like all the game - how could there be more? But that was just the start, the engine. Most of the actual game was in the level and character design!

I can't condemn Otherside for falling short there, on their first game, having set their sights so damn high. I can only congratulate them on reproducing as much of the engine's capabilities as they did. From the above list I see missing only conversation, ownership, crafting, repair, bags, water currents, and scrolls. And honestly I think their magic system is what Underworld's wanted to be. They've poured so much time and love into that system, but nobody's been able to explore it, because they're so damn cagey giving out the runes!
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Flatfingers

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Re: How to get my money back
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2019, 01:33:57 AM »

Flatfingers: I'm guessing you work in development yourself? You seem from this and other posts to very much "get" the reality of developing.

Tangentially associated for many years, plus one stint as Community Manager and general gadfly for a great concept whose Kickstarter project wasn't successful.

It had variable height floors, sloping floors, 45 degree walls, 3D scenery, gravity and bouncing physics and dynamic freaking lighting... before Wolfenstein came out! And unlike Wolfenstein, it had not only ranged weapon combat, but melee combat with different strikes, runic magic, full bag-in-bag inventory with paperdoll, wand charges, trading, item ownership, item crafting, cooking, item wear and destruction, item repair, conversation, water currents, floor friction levels, destroyable terrain and scenery items, modifiable terrain, cooking, readable scrolls, levers and switches and floorplates, secret doors, AI aggression levels, about 50 different monster types, 300 different item types, item enchantments (boots of bounce!), and way more that I can't even remember. And for those developers who made those things, that probably seems like all the game - how could there be more? But that was just the start, the engine. Most of the actual game was in the level and character design!

This. I've made exactly this point before as well -- it's astonishing how many features now considered conventions of first-person CRPGs were implemented in Ultima Underworld... and then mind-blowing that what could have been just a features grab-bag actually existed to support a solid game. When I say I consider System Shock the greatest game for its time, UU (and Deus Ex) is next in line.

It would have been lovely if UA could have been equally innovative and as complete a game. But it also would have been unreasonable to expect that kind of thing to happen again, in this era of game development, and so I didn't.

honestly I think their magic system is what Underworld's wanted to be. They've poured so much time and love into that system, but nobody's been able to explore it, because they're so damn cagey giving out the runes!

Heh. :D You know, I hadn't thought about it, but you make me wonder whether UA would be a good candidate for an Exploration Mode: right up front you're given All The Runes, all the skills, and excellent melee and ranged weapons and armor, and you can just go explore every bit of the game at your own pace. I imagine some of the story bits might be cut, and of course you shouldn't earn Achievements. But if you want people to have the chance to see all the content that did make it into this game, maybe Exploration Mode would be helpful.

At any rate, I'll let this go now; we're sort of hijacking JGteMolder's question about getting a refund and I don't actually want to do that. Thanks for your thoughtful comments.
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