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Early Access Cake

[Editorial Note: When I started writing this post, it was originally going to be about the implicit promise when a game is sold as early access is that the game is going to be "Eventually Awesome"™. In the middle of that post I started making a metaphor about cake, and realized everything I had said before that was no longer as interesting and decided the whole post should be a cake metaphor. Enjoy.]

[Black Forest Cake Photo Credit: Mikel Ortega] [Unfrosted Cake Photo Credit: Nancy Von FancyPants]

Buying an early access game is like buying an unfrosted cake. The plan is to frost the cake, and there may even already be a lot of information about the possible direction the frosting is going at the time of your purchase. While you wait for progress on the finalization of frosting, you're more than welcome to nibble on the unfrosted cake itself. Obviously you know going into this that the cake itself hasn't been finished, but you have faith that from the parties involved and the completed elements so far that the final result is going to be delicious.

Hopefully the frosting that gets applied is a flavor you'll enjoy, and that to some extent there may be some amount of community input considered in the decision. In the best case scenario any community input is useful and productive, possibly bringing to the forefront delicious and previously unconsidered cake/frosting/topping combinations. If there is too much attention paid to the niche groups within an audience it's possible to find yourself with a result that is exclusionary to the general player base, but perfectly tuned for a small, vocal minority. (Someone out there likes sardines and vanilla frosting, it's a big world.)

What seems to be interesting at this point in the life of "early-access" category funding model is that despite knowing that the work isn't done, the hotly contested topics always seem to be things like the flavor, type and shape of sprinkles that may possibly be added at a later date. Even when the final flavor of the cake itself hasn't been finalized, people are more than happy to wage rainbow sprinkles vs powdered sugar crusades endlessly. Often every piece of news about cake progress is treated like some small catastrophe.

The only real concern with early access cake in my opinion is that I hope that the sudden influx of capitol does not motivate the baker to rethink the design of the cake from the ground up. If I got on-board because I thought we were making a Black forest cake, I can accept it if we end up with a simple chocolate cake with cherries. If we end up with a lemon-meringue pie because the additional funds were enough to fulfill the baker's lifelong dream of owning an atomic-powered meringue-ing machine, that might not sit well with me.

Also a fan of pie,



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