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Shadowzone's findings on KSP2 history


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7 hours ago, Esme said:

I don't understand why anyone in the community is mad at Nate.

Wild guess: It is a pre-historic stuff.

People needs ritual sacrifices to appease gods their feelings in times of despair.

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, MechBFP said:

That can have its own problems of creating tunnel vision, so having people not familiar with it is definitely good as well to keep a healthy mix of perspectives and ideas.

But yes having virtually no one was incredibly detrimental without a doubt. The amount of absolutely obvious issues that made it to QA in the first place, and then QA also missed, time and time again was just plain unacceptable. 

I seriously doubt the major issues were missed by QA.  They almost never are.  Rather, I suspect they were more frustrated than any of us, for having to use a long string of work-arounds to cover their test matrices every day.  I'd imagine that got very old indeed.  Somebody overruled the people with sense on the team, and I really wonder who.  The technical director sure sounds like he knows the job, so who would be overruling him, and more oddly, why?  But I doubt we'll ever learn the truth.

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On 5/26/2024 at 5:35 AM, Westinghouse said:

Unfortunately, a game like KSP doesn't require "big picture" blue-sky guys like Nate.

Hard disagree. Not only do lead designers do a heck of a lot more than that as described by others above, arguably one of the biggest-impact issues KSP1 had pre-1.0 was that there wasn't anyone with a cohesive vision of what the final game should look like. You could almost feel the tension between different ideas of what the game should be in those earlier versions as it transitioned away from "silly space frog game", and I do wonder now if that's why career mode ended up feeling like a bunch of disconnected features in a trench coat rather than a complete way of playing the game.

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For people trying to argue that Nates job was basically just to "dream", you might want to check the average description of responsibilities for the job of CD. 

First, i very much disagree with the notion that Nate is blameless because his job was just to "envision" whatever, and the job of others to reign him in. That's nonsense. But lets say that it is factual (which it isn't, there's a lot more to it). 

He failed miserably. Starting by establishing the games themes, tone, art and gameplay. Most these were already established prior, by virtue of being a sequel. The rest that wasn't, was already added through mods - so his "creative vision" was, apparently, modded KSP1. With a worse UI. It's also his responsibility to collaborate with other departments like production and marketing. In other words, it's his job to make sure his "visions" are a possibility, not the other way around. This entire notion that a CD has a team of people running after him "reigning his dreams in" is absolute krakens. Further, if, for some reason or another, there is no one to collaborate with, it falls on you to make due, you can't just shift the blame to "well nobody told me that ain't possible, what do i know". I don't know in what kind of Lala Land people live where this logic would apply. 

Imagine a policer officer not being able to contact his supervisor because he didn't know whether or not to arrest a guy, and then go ahead to arrest him anyway.  Imagine an excavator operator not knowing where to unload his shovel, so he'll just dump that stuff everywhere across the jobsite. Imagine a banker not knowing whether or not a cheque is authentic, and just cashing it in anyway because no one was available to confirm.

These things don't  happen (well the first one does in the US, but generally leads to settlements). The reason these things don't happen is because people are being held responsible. Yet here we are, in the industry where this is desperately needed, we have people simping for professionals that should (and i bet, DO) know better, making up all kinds of excuses as to why they can't be blamed. 

To reiterate and be crystal clear. It isn't Nates job to "dream up  art n design n creative ideas n stuff", his job is also to ensure that these are possibilities. No one elses. If there is no one to double check with like a TD, you go to the programmers/production directly, or you simply pull the brakes and pester T2 until the issue is resolved. I bet it's a comfy life as a creative director if all you need to do is to say "well i want interstellar stuff, also make the UI look unreadable on certain resolutions, and colonies would be cool to - cheers guys, i'm off". Which is what some people here are implying. 

Here's what Emily Short has to say in this regard, Creative Director at Failbetter Games when asked what's the hardest thing about this role.

"The greatest concepts and coolest gameplay will never get in front of players if you don't finish and ship the game - which means you have to respect budget, scope, and production schedules, as well as your team's energy and workability. If you don't respect those concerns, you wind up demanding a lot of overtime from your team, which is an endemic problem in this industry and very bad practice. It's the producer's role to keep the calendar and be on top of who is doing what, but the creative director needs to work alongside the producer and make sure that they're not demanding the impossible. So that means there are many, many individual choices to make about what to keep and what to discard. Sometimes those choices involve things that people on your team care about passionately or that you personally love."

If there is no "producer" as such, then you have to find another way to ensure that you're not demanding the impossible, rather than demanding the impossible and then have others lay the blame somewhere else because "nobody told you it was impossible". 

I also don't care whether or not Nate Simpson feels bad or is sad. I certainly (and i said this before) hope that he'll never work as a creative director for a game again - even disregarding all emotions i might or might not have, just in the purest objective sense, he failed in his job. 

I've written the $50 off, it's what it is. I am certainly still passionate about KSP1 (unlike others here who argue that KSP1 is awful, and now act like they knew that this was always gonna happen to KSP2 but they don't care - why the heck are you even here then?), KSP2 certainly is dead and will never see the light of day in a shape that would satisfy people, unless a billionaire with no sense of money throws enough budget for an entire do-over at it, which is highly unlikely. Poach Johan Pilestedt, while you're at it - a CD who failed "his community" before as well, but owned up to it. The main thing that irks me in all this is that Nate doesn't have the stones to come out and apologise for his own personal shortcomings. No NDA can prevent that. Maybe Pilestedt is the reason that i don't cut Nate any slack - i know that his job can be done so, so much better.

 

Now, that all said: of course T2 holds the bigger share of the blame. No discussion here. We (well, most of us, i guess) always knew that T2 was inevitably gonna bite us in the butt. In fact, many (including me) called it immediately when it was announced. We didn't get the way they gonna bite us quite pin-pointed at times, but we knew that there wouldn't be a happy end with a Top3 worst Publisher in the industry next to EA and Activision. That doesn't make Nate blameless. The only people that potentially are, are the coders. There's no one blameless in Management. 

And i wish we could start actually calling it out as it is, rather than trying to buddy up to people. Nate is a professional. He isn't your friend, he gets paid to do a job. He failed this one (and others). That's it, there's nothing else to it. Call it as it is, don't make up excuses for someone who won't remember you next week - and most importantly, don't enable failures like this over and over again. This is as much on us as it is on Nate or T2 (that includes me, i did buy the game despite better knowledge because i'm weak). 

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On 5/25/2024 at 2:43 PM, Meecrob said:

To be 100% honest, and I know I speak for more than just myself here, For Science! simply was not "good enough"

FS! felt like I bought KSP1 off of Wish.com or something.

Just my interpretation, but I read that quote as being more about the update being "polished and bug-free" rather than "feature-heavy and full of content". I never played, but from what I saw of KSP2's science system, it all looked reasonably well thought-out and working as intended, even if it was way more shallow than I would have liked - the existence of the mission system alone at least suggests that someone was thinking about how the game was going to play as a whole, and at least a reasonable effort to get things 'right' the first time around given the repeated responses from the dev team that the core mission structure wasn't going to change (even if, again, it was a bit of a shallow experience for my tastes). The actual bugs in the game mostly still seemed to be present entirely in the core game systems, which we now know was a result of a huge range of factors, one of which being pushed into an EA release that the team almost certainly didn't want.

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That is a really annoying video to watch. So many poor decisions, so many chances to put it right, so much wasted time and money and effort.

 

I love how passionate Nate is about the game, and how he wants it to be a visually appealing experience. But I feel he needed someone along side him who was focused more on the gameplay and the technical side.

It's such a missed opportunity to make an amazing game. If they'd just focused on the basics - sticking to the Kerbal system, basically just doing a rewrite of KSP1, adding in the best of the mods that are available, and releasing that as the base KSP2 - I think that would have been enough. Once the underlying code and engine had been updated, and the basic game was running well and people were able to have 1000+ part ships without reducing the game to a crawl, the rest could have been done as DLC. Release the basic game as KSP2, for £30, then add colonies, interstellar, whatever as DLCs for £10 each, job done.

 

But to be here now, 6yrs (or more) after being promised KSP2, and finding out that for all that time it was never going to be anything near what we'd hoped and dreamed for, it's sickening.

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On 5/25/2024 at 5:10 AM, ShadowZone said:

One of the issues I was told existed within Intercept Games was a lack of "okay, that's good enough" (and we'll make it prettier later) attitude. If it gets public, it needs to be as shiny and pretty as possible, was the mindset (at least this was how the story was told to me).

I think that this has always been what would end up dooming the project. This is the kind of bad managerial decision that gives me the feeling that there were fundamental misunderstandings of what the community wanted.

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Posted (edited)

Oops I posted this in the wrong thread. Here’s my thoughts on the SZ vid: 

 

Thanks SZ, great video and I really appreciate all the digging you and Matt Lowne have done. A lot of the fixation on Nate seems like wanting to yell at the manager of a  restaurant because the food isn’t great, without realizing you’re at a chain restaurant and the foods not great because of bad ingredients and bad policy dictated by corporate. You should be yelling at upper management, but they aren’t there or visible to you so you take it all out on the highest up person you’re aware of. I think K^2 is one of the few people here with the relevant experience to understand the dynamics here.

Its pretty obvious T2 surely did want to make money on KSP but never really understood the product because no one apparently paid any attention to the existing community. It was widely understood that KSP1 while incredibly compelling as an idea was a bit of a cobbled together mess with a lot of fundamental flaws and tech debt in the base code and really couldn’t be brought forward without major re-writes. I know issues with axial tilt, acceleration under warp, and multiplayer were widely known to be practical dealbreakers on this forum going back to 2017. Im actually really happy Nate by force of his shear enthusiasm was able to convince them that for KSP to succeed it needed a bigger budget really big changes. Had KSP2 been released in 2020 as a half-baked reskin I think the result would have been just as disastrous as what happened in 2023. 

Now I personally am not as convinced that multiplayer KSP would be as enduringly fun as folks think. I think the version of multiplayer KSP that might be fun is basically kithack model club—making cars and planes and other vehicles and racing and smashing them about with friends in real time. For reasons that have been discussed many times on this forum this doesn’t really work in space because of time-warp. Its not that there aren’t solutions to how people move through time, its that inevitably you are for the most part not existing in a real-time experience with your friends. You’re talking about a much slower, much less interactive cooperative game.

That leads me to believe that if KSP2 was actually to work T2 aught to have brought on the KSP1 team much earlier and started with a ground up rewrite, understanding it was going to take 5-6 years and 40-60 million. Its not just the code though. KSP was always a fun sim but its a terrible game. If they really wanted to compete with Minecraft and Roblox they needed the fundamentals of science, progression, colonies, and most importantly resources.  Thats what creates the fundamental loop of fly-gather-build-fly and a dynamic set of non-proscriptive, player driven goals. If all you could do is fly around and build the Taj Mahal minecraft would been forgotten in 2009. It's the free and open crafting system that makes it the slightest bit interesting. With one generic ore and the inability to build off-world KSP would never be the kind of open and expansive free-flowing building game it needed to be. I think multiplayer and interstellar should have been considered as they re-wrote the code but the initial release really needed to include that fundamental core game loop to be something new and compelling enough to warrant a sequel. 

Edited by Pthigrivi
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Posted (edited)
On 5/27/2024 at 8:16 AM, GluttonyReaper said:

Just my interpretation, but I read that quote as being more about the update being "polished and bug-free" rather than "feature-heavy and full of content"

Yeah, if For Science! is supposed to be "polished and bug-free" I maintain my opinion of "it's not good enough."

I know that you

On 5/27/2024 at 8:16 AM, GluttonyReaper said:

never played

but it is absolutely full of bugs. Some of them still there from day 1. Maybe you should play it before you tell me how polished it is.

 

12 hours ago, whatsEJstandfor said:

I think that this has always been what would end up dooming the project. This is the kind of bad managerial decision that gives me the feeling that there were fundamental misunderstandings of what the community wanted.

I get the feeling that they knew exactly what the community wanted, but they wanted to attract a new community that is amused by shiny objects over gameplay depth.

Edited by Meecrob
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13 minutes ago, Meecrob said:

Maybe you should play it before you tell me how polished it is.

Well I certainly won't be now, given the, uh... situation :P

16 minutes ago, Meecrob said:

but it is absolutely full of bugs. Some of them still there from day 1.

Right, which is exactly my point - most of the bugs that plagued the game had to do with stuff that pre-dated the science system and was showing very little sign of ever getting properly fixed, which is what turned me away. The science system itself seemed to be pretty robust, with most of the complaints being about deliberate design decisions than things not working properly (aside from relatively small complaints like Eve giving weird science returns), which is what I think that quote was more referring to: the "science update" was reasonably refined even as the rest of the game was falling to bits.

I think that matches up with how this video explains how development was managed: pre-EA everything was being developed in parallel with different people working on different features, but post-EA release it seemed to be mostly all-guns on individual features, even at the expense of core stuff.

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On 5/25/2024 at 6:10 AM, ShadowZone said:

When T2 gave them the hard deadline of February 2023, everything was still in the game in some form (colonies, interstellar, multiplayer) to varying degrees of completion. Around May '22 there was the notion "it won't be pretty, but we might be able to ship this". The decision to go EA and rip stuff out again was made around September. They did try to get at least colonies in there, but somebody pulled the plug because the deadline was already close and they wanted some other thing in there (don't know which one).

I am wondering about the time it takes them to release colonies as well. Apparently "For Science" took already multiple times longer than was expected. One of the issues I was told existed within Intercept Games was a lack of "okay, that's good enough" (and we'll make it prettier later) attitude. If it gets public, it needs to be as shiny and pretty as possible, was the mindset (at least this was how the story was told to me).

I think it would've been better to release everything that they did get built. It would be a mess. But the Early Access that came out in February 2023 was also a mess. Hindsight is 2020, but if they at least had more content than the original release. I think the community would've been more forgiving. At least the Colonies and Science should've been released at whatever stage they were at in February 2023. 

Great video, it's a shame that the video had to be made in the first place but it's probably the most refreshing video I have watched about KSP 2 in years. I hope I one day have the same excitement to play KSP again but this whole KSP 2 Early Access fiasco has kinda killed my desire to play any KSP.

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4 hours ago, Madrocketman said:

I think it would've been better to release everything that they did get built. It would be a mess. But the Early Access that came out in February 2023 was also a mess. Hindsight is 2020, but if they at least had more content than the original release. I think the community would've been more forgiving. At least the Colonies and Science should've been released at whatever stage they were at in February 2023. 

I hate to hope too much about anything (not about KSP2... just in general) but I'm kinda hoping they dump every buggy system (maybe with a toggle to enable/disable them) and whatever half-baked modding API they happen to have, and call it done. Then maybe modders can make it playable and fun in various ways.

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12 hours ago, GluttonyReaper said:

Right, which is exactly my point - most of the bugs that plagued the game had to do with stuff that pre-dated the science system and was showing very little sign of ever getting properly fixed, which is what turned me away. The science system itself seemed to be pretty robust, with most of the complaints being about deliberate design decisions than things not working properly (aside from relatively small complaints like Eve giving weird science returns), which is what I think that quote was more referring to: the "science update" was reasonably refined even as the rest of the game was falling to bits.

I see what you are getting at, but I cannot help but laugh at the idea that the bar we are holding For Science! up to is that the InstaScienceTM system worked, lol. I mean, it better not be a disaster after removing 90% of the science system.:P

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11 hours ago, Meecrob said:

I see what you are getting at, but I cannot help but laugh at the idea that the bar we are holding For Science! up to is that the InstaScienceTM system worked, lol. I mean, it better not be a disaster after removing 90% of the science system.:P

Well that is a silly exaggeration 

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On 5/24/2024 at 9:38 AM, Meecrob said:

Have you guys ever done that thing where you get upset at something and imagine a worst-case scenario? Where all people involved except you are totally incompetent to make you feel better? I need a better imagination after seeing this comedy of errors, lol.

Yeah, I remember when T2 first bought the game, everyone was paranoid about the *immediate* bad things that could be done, and nobody could've conceived of any of this.

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On 5/24/2024 at 10:47 AM, Meecrob said:

I know lots will disagree with this sentiment and think of it like kicking someone while they are down, but when one is the leader of a project and that project fails, they need to own it. Or I should say people with integrity will own it. People with integrity will feel bad and sad about the project they led failing.

I really think the people blaming Nate and not the corpos at T2 are falling for T2's game. Based on the video, Nate seems more like the designated scapegoat than anything else. Who mandated recycling KSP1 code? T2. Who banned talking to the KSP1 team? T2. Who banned talking to prominent community members like Scott? T2. Who was more interested in instant profit than putting in the effort necessary to make an actually good game that will be more profitable in the long run? T2. 

If spit lands on you from overhead, and you look up and see its dripping on you from a guy chained to a chair, being spat on by someone above him, you don't blame the guy chained to the chair for spit landing on you, you blame the guy doing the spitting. 

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On 5/24/2024 at 1:17 PM, dprostock said:

If you don't have the slightest idea what the product is about or how it works... How can you feel qualified to hire people to develop it? 

You don't have to know anything about the specific product to make those decisions if you know the industry really well or know people really well. Successful companies do this all the time, because the people there doing the hiring either know software development, project management, and/or people management really well - they have mastered one or more of those three disciplines and that gives them the ability to hire the right people. The key to a successful business isn't knowing everything - it's knowing how to find, acquire and hire other people who, combined,  do know everything. (or at least enough to succeed)

The problem with TTI/PD/IG and KSP2 is they didn't hire the right people to make the project a success. Also that they didn't change out those people when things weren't working far enough in advance to put the project back on track. (or didn't identify the problem early enough to be able to)

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On 5/24/2024 at 3:17 PM, dprostock said:

If you don't have the slightest idea what the product is about or how it works... How can you feel qualified to hire people to develop it? 

To be fair, this has never stopped people who majored in business before. The system rewards such walking manifestations of the Dunning-Kruger effect far more than it penalizes them (so long as they've either won the birth lottery or kissed the right butts of those who did). 

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On 5/24/2024 at 5:12 PM, Jacke said:

Someone higher up at Take Two should use this opportunity to clear house of the incompetents who made those very stupid decisions for KSP 2, just to get rid of them and reduce cost.

That'd require firing themselves. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Grenartia said:

I really think the people blaming Nate and not the corpos at T2 are falling for T2's game. Based on the video, Nate seems more like the designated scapegoat than anything else. Who mandated recycling KSP1 code? T2. Who banned talking to the KSP1 team? T2. Who banned talking to prominent community members like Scott? T2. Who was more interested in instant profit than putting in the effort necessary to make an actually good game that will be more profitable in the long run? T2.

Why not blame both?  Yes, TTI / PD set a lot of conditions that launched KSP 2 into a coffin-corner of the performance graft.  Like a lot of corporate leadership, they seem to be rather clueless about what they should be doing even just to make sure they're not poisoning the chances to get a good ROI.

Nate was put in charge.  The vast majorities of failures have as their root causes failures in leadership.  It's harsh (and can be career limiting), but it was up to Nate to respectfully push back to TTI / PD if conditions were setting KSP 2 to fail

Within those constraints, Nate has to see he had the staff so he was properly advised as well as could take the project to completion.  It comes down to the 3 parts of Project Management:

  • Specification
  • Schedule
  • Budget
  • and from the Budget the unmentioned 4th part: Skilled Staff

Those 4 parts have to not contradict each other.  It's also vital to know many of the painful lessons learned over the years (cf The Mythical Man-Month and similar sources), like throwing extra staff and overtime hours at a schedule rarely works (because some components have fundamental requirements and adding staff can slow matters down, etc.).

When things were going into areas that starting increasing the risk of failure, it was up to Nate to respectfully push back at TTI / PD that changes in the restrictions were needed.

A critical lack was no one on the original teams was sufficiently familiar with even playing KSP, certainly not modding it or developing it.  That there was a forced separation of IG from Squad was setting things up to recreate the same problems KSP went through.

Nate seems to have a history of not doing that sort of respectful pushback on the projects he's helmed.  He may not be sufficiently secure to be able to do that.  In that case, I have some sympathy for him.

But Nate needs to face up to the fact he's been telling lots of porkie-pies to the KSP community.  And the KSP community is rather miffed at him and rightly so.

The feelings about the corporate apparatchiks at TTI / PD are likely far worse.

Edited by Jacke
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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, Jacke said:

Why not blame both?

Simple. I can't. If everything is true in SZ's video, the guy is innocent. I am all for pointing fingers, and I have my torch and pitchfork ready, but Nate ain't on my list. 

Edited by cocoscacao
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11 minutes ago, cocoscacao said:

Simple. I can't. If everything is true in SZ's video, the guy is innocent. I am all for pointing fingers, and I have my torch and pitchfork ready, but Nate ain't on my list. 

Keep in mind that @Nate Simpson promised us on more than one occasion that the game was fully funded and would be seen through to completion.  He also released a pretty lengthy dev blog 2 days before the WARN notice came out.

Nate is not without blame here.

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1 minute ago, Scarecrow71 said:

promised us on more than one occasion that the game was fully funded and would be seen through to completion. 

I believe he didn't lie, but he hasn't spoken the truth either. See? Reality is nuanced and complicated. 

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9 minutes ago, cocoscacao said:

Simple. I can't. If everything is true in SZ's video, the guy is innocent. I am all for pointing fingers, and I have my torch and pitchfork ready, but Nate ain't on my list. 

More or less this. 

Nate's just an employee at the end of the day. Has he made mistakes? Undoubtedly (looking at you, rubber rockets). Has he been complicit in the lack of transparency from T2? Absolutely. Has he been complicit in the hamstringing-orders from T2? Possibly. 

But many (though not all) of his game design mistakes are arguably a result of orders coming down from T2. Likewise, the opaqueness is arguably being imposed on him from above (either T2 directly, or by proxy via PD). The hamstring-orders are almost certainly coming down from above as well. 

Now, we as customers and players can say "but he should do X, Y, and Z", but if you've ever actually worked in a non-executive capacity, you'll almost certainly have had a job experience where your boss has told you to do something, and you know its doomed to fail, or less than ethical, but you also know that if you push back on it, you'll get fired in a nanosecond. Its a tough position to be in, and in a world as cut-throat as the intersection of game development and corporate cow-manure, and living in a place as expensive as Seattle, I find it hard to fault him personally for choosing to prioritize another paycheck over doing the right thing and potentially getting blacklisted by one of the biggest players in the industry. 

6 minutes ago, Scarecrow71 said:

Keep in mind that @Nate Simpson promised us on more than one occasion that the game was fully funded and would be seen through to completion.  He also released a pretty lengthy dev blog 2 days before the WARN notice came out.

Nate is not without blame here.

I mean, he was probably just repeating something PD/T2 told him. In which case, the fault lies with whoever told him that. 

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3 hours ago, Grenartia said:

Who banned talking to the KSP1 team? 

Since ShadowZone's video has come out, various people have come forward on places like the mod Discord to say that some Squad employees were actually in contact with the KSP2 developers in 2018, even being in meetings with Nate Simpson. We also know from their earliest dev blog videos that they had outside consultants such as 'Dr. Joel Green' acting as talking heads to give them scientific credibility. Therefore the idea that there was a complete veil of corporate secrecy doesn't ring quite true. If they were able to reach out to astrophysicists for advice, why not reach out to the ex-Squad developers of the original game?
It's possible Nate just didn't want anyone with prior history of the KSP world getting in the way of 'his vision' and clouding his authority. He clearly wanted to be in control of developing the sequel.

3 hours ago, Grenartia said:

Who banned talking to prominent community members like Scott? 

We still don't know where the quote "this stays away from Scott" comes from. It likely comes from some leaked internal message, ShadowZone is not revealing from where in order to protect his source. But would a higher up Take Two executive even know who Scott Manley was? It's more likely this was someone directly involved with developing the game. Obviously it's conjecture, but it would be in Nate Simpson's interest not to have outside experts giving advice that would contradict his own vision of what KSP2 was going to be.

3 hours ago, Grenartia said:

Who mandated recycling KSP1 code?

This was likely the higher ups at Uber, not T2. It seems they took this decision in order to have any chance of making the mandated 2020 release date.
But even if he didn't make that call, Nate was still misleading us for a long while stating the game framework was rebuilt from the ground up, something many of us were skeptical about after seeing so many technical flaws from the first game appear in KSP2.
 

Ultimately, it was Nate who put himself front and center as the 'face' of Kerbal Space Program. If the sequel had been a roaring success, Nate would have been quick to lap up the praise and accolades. Instead the game failed, and therefore Nate needs to take much of the blame as a result. The fact that he's stayed radio silent since then is unfortunately likely a testament to his true character.

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