Stronghold 3: losing a battle, winning the war

Stronghold 3: losing a battle, winning the war


Stronghold 3's rocky start was a shock to many of its fans. Since its release, Firefly has worked frantically to stabilize the game and released patches that both fix and improve the game.

Hooked Gamers: Did you realize just how bad it was prior to release, or did the full extend only become apparent when the reviews came in and users started commenting?

Simon Bradbury: No, we didn’t. When you are that close to the game and the production process is in manic crunch mode, sometimes it’s easy just to focus on the finish line and not see the whole picture. We knew there were some bugs, but with the game running ok on our limited number of machines, we perhaps got the wrong impression that a few post release patches would iron out the kinks. We got that wrong.

Hooked Gamers: So how many death threats did you guys get from disappointed fans?

Simon Bradbury: It’s been very hard – Reading all the posts – But no we actually haven’t seen any death threats! We like to think our fans are just that little bit more stable! Although I’m told some of the stuff we did receive rivals the recent ‘death threats’ sent to Ninja Theory, where a friend of ours works. Their game isn’t even out yet! I hear they were sent death threats in the form of heavy metal songs and comic books, which sounds quite fun really…

Hooked Gamers: Almost three months later there are now seven patches, a clear sign that you are doing everything possible to make the game into what it is. I’m sure you’d have rather been working on expanding the game rather than on bug fixing. How has the team experienced these three months?

Simon Bradbury: It’s been different, less crazy than the run-up to release but similarly daunting. We really do mean it when we say the volume of constructive criticism from reviewers and players is appreciated. Not only does it help us improve the game, but it also shows how much people genuinely want Stronghold to be great. To their credit the team has been energetically prototyping, testing and implementing every reasonable suggestion we’ve caught wind of. Some of the comments are painful to read, but if one person thanks us when we release a patch and tells us they appreciate the work we’re doing that’s enough to keep the team going.

Hooked Gamers: With the game now mostly stabilized, a few of the patches have brought not only fixes but also some improvements. Are your efforts paying off, do you feel the community is slowly turning ‘a warmer shoulder’?