In it for the long haul (Not over yet)

As I mentioned in a post last week, I’ve been feeling pretty depressed and pessimistic about Bloodstained, as well as crowdfunding in general. To sum up what I said, the constant, never-ending drip-drip-drip of bad news pertaining to the project destroyed my hype for it. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I was just a regular consumer, but after putting in so much time and effort as a community moderator, I felt like I’d lost more than someone who bought a buggy piece of software and could just refund it. I was feeling so sour about the situation I was wondering I’d eventually get kicked off the moderation team for the community.

Well, after talking with some of my buddies and seeing how the Bloodstained team has reacted to the latest bad news (about the switch port) I can say that I’m entirely back on the Bloodstained hype train, and will probably stay there for quite a while, at least. Yeah, I’m definitely gonna be staying on as a mod too, at least for as long as I’m able. It’s not necessarily that my faith in the project itself has been restored…it’s that my determination to see it through to end has been. There are three reasons for this.

As my other mod colleagues (Dengo, J-Boogie, Purify, and others) have been saying, upon hearing the news of the crappy switch port, 505 games (represented by Angel and Question) could have reacted a lot differently than they had. A lot of other companies would have just ignored the problem or swept it under the rug. Heck, Mighty No. 9, to which I compared Bloodstained in my previous entry, just dropped the promised 3ds port without saying a word to any of the backers. So far as I know there’s been no subsequent support for the game since it was launched, and everyone involved seems to want to just forget about it and pretend it didn’t happen.

505 and IGA’s team, on the other hand, has taken the exact opposite track. On June 25th, the very day the Switch version was released, they admitted that the port was not up to par “and we need to do more.” One day after that, they provided a specific plan detailing the most pressing issues with the Switch port and how they planned to address them. But it was something Question said on Reddit that really demonstrated to me that despite their mistakes, despite the issues with the launch, that the Bloodstained project was cut out of different cloth than other Kickstarter failures:

As he said, “we are in this for the long haul.”

See, there’s one thing I can respect, and that’s determination. Perseverence. A stubborn refusal to give up. It’s a trait I’ve always loved in the heroes of the various media I’ve consumed over the course of my life (ranging from literature to anime to videogames), and it’s a trait I’ve always wanted to embody better. And if the folks behind Bloodstained seem bent on exemplifying that quality, no matter how many mistakes they end up making, they’ll have my support. If they’re in it for the long haul, I am too.

That’s the first reason. The second consists of the friendships I’ve formed amongst the community, most especially with my fellow moderators.

As it happens, the other mods of the Bloodstained community have become pretty close friends of mine. I’m not the only one who’s put in a ton of work on the discord and the forums–Purify, Mike, Mizu, Dengo, and all the others have done the same. And we talk to each other about our daily lives too, as friends are wont to do. Yeah, yeah, you can say that “it’s just online” or whatever, and if you really believe that you’d say I was a fool for getting close to people over the internet. Well, I’ll never deny being a fool, but I’m not a disloyal one. If my friends are still working hard to ensure the game is a success, no matter how many problems it suffers, then I’m going to stand by them and help as much as I possibly can. So for that reason alone, giving up on Bloodstained would not be an option for me. If my friends are in it for the long haul, I am too. So combined with the determination the developers and publishers are displaying, that’s definitely keeping me around. But there’s one more thing…

Since I got determined to stick around the Bloodstained community no matter how the game itself was doing, I resolved to actually play through it, no matter how buggy and glitchy it might be, so that I could fulfill my moderator duties and help folks who needed it (in terms of progression, gameplay advice, whatever). And when I played it, I found…

It was actually legitimately good.

Yeah, as I mentioned in my previous entry, I spoiled the game more or less entirely for myself. However, actually playing through it was a different matter, and in terms of how the game feels, it’s exactly like Symphony of the Night, which was what everyone wanted, including myself. And there’s a ton of stuff the streamers didn’t get to, either. I don’t want to go into too much detail so as to avoid spoiling folks, but there’s an IMMENSE amount of weapons, items, shards (magically preserved pieces of demon energy that increase the protagonist’s abilities), and little secret things to find that many streamers didn’t. Experiencing them for myself has been *immensely* satisfying.

One of the problems with Mighty No. 9 was that (for lack of a better word) it felt so soulless and phoned in. Bloodstained, on the other hand…you could say it was definitely rushed, given the glitches and poor Switch port, but there are so many little details in Bloodstained that absolutely prove IGA and his team were giving it their absolute all. Again, no spoilers, but the dialogue is excellent, there are a bunch of tongue-in-cheek references to the Castlevania series, the nature and number of the little secrets you can find in-game and many of the weapons you can use are a loving, devoted callback to Symphony of the Night, the boss fights are all exciting and well thought-out, and the music, though not as good as SotN’s, is quite good on its own (if SotN’s soundtrack was a 10, I would give Bloodstained’s an 8, 7.5 at the worst). And while some areas don’t look that great, in general the game looks really nice; despite many complaints about 2.5D rather than straight 2D spritework, the enemies and environments generally look so lush and wonderful I got lost in them to the same extent I was absorbed by SotN’s world. Again, more on that later, but overall, the game is good enough in terms of design and the heart put into it that I can forgive its many glitches. Mighty No. 9 simply didn’t have that, which is why people in general (not just me) are more forgiving of the issues plaguing Bloodstained’s launch.

So, what does it all mean for me? Well, if my previous entry was titled “glad it’s over,” you’ll notice that the parenthetical here is “not over yet.” I can’t rest, not for a long while, now that I’m determined to stick with Bloodstained to the end, because the end is nowhere in sight! We’ve got to correct the issues with the Switch port, then fix up some localization errors, then fix all the glitchies in the other ports of the game (those are workin better, but not perfectly). Since I’m not a tech guy, there’s only so much I can do on that front, but I can keep an eye on things and keep track of what folks across the Internet see as the most important issues to solve. Hopefully gettin that info together will make things a little easier for the devs. And of course there’s keeping an eye on the forums and discords and making sure the publishers and developers don’t have to worry about trouble on those fronts. All that means I’ll be pretty busy for the foreseeable future, or in other words…my job as a member of the Bloodstained community is nowhere near over yet. If things work out, they repair all the issues, and bloodstained does well enough to merit a sequel, my job might well never be over! But we’ll see…

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