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InstaLod gone for early adopters?

As those of you who bought Instalod as early adopters know, there was a lengthy post (34 pages here: https://forums.unrealengine.com/unreal-engine/marketplace/70467-released-plug-in-instalod-automatic-lod-generation-for-static-and-skeletal-meshes/page32) about it here in this forum. As of today it seems gone, at least I get a “You don’t have permission to access this page” error.
I thought I bring you up to speed about my latest attempt to find out what the status of early adopters are. After all we paid about 80$ for a “perpetual license”. I post my email to them and their canned answer below. I don’t know what to make of this myself. My best guess is, as another poster on the other thread has suggested in less friendly words, that we’re out of luck. It sounds to me as if they are going to force us to buy into their new “Indie license” and InstaLod will stop working for the early adopters. Again this is just my guess from the lack of information they are willing to share with me.

Now, does anybody here have more info about the LOD stuff that Epic is rolling out in 4.19 and the future versions? I still don’t understand it fully since I never got into Simplygon due to the price. Will that new feature work for skeletal meshes as well? Currently I am using my Instalod to import lods of skeletal meshes for clothing and equipment and once that is done I wont need it on a daily basis for skeletal meshes but it is still a very convenient functionality that I would hate to give up. However, if Epic includes a similar function, I much rather use what Epic gives us.

Original email and their answer follows

Hello,

I bought Instalod year ago or so when you were looking for adopters.
Since then your response in the Unreal forum has all but vanished so
that the understandiong of those posting there is, that we have been
screwed over and there will be no updates for us anymore.

I would like to ask you for a statement what the support level for us
will be in the future. I am aware that the current Instalod version
still works with UE 4.18 but what if there will be SDK changes that
require adjustments on your part? Will you supply us with updates and
how do we learn about those? Or are we indeed out of luck?

Hello,

My name is Philipp and I am part of the BizDev team at InstaLOD. It’s nice to meet you!
It’s actually a very good timing to reaching out to us as we are close to releasing our new indie licensing model.
We have been working hard to bring the entire functionality and all integrations of InstaLOD to the indie community in the near future.

Follow us on twitter under https://twitter.com/InstaLOD_io

or on Facebook under https://www.facebook.com/InstaLOD/
and subscribe to our YouTube channel under http://www.InstaLOD.com/YouTube
to stay updated about our new releases and when we introduce our new indie license.

Thanks,

Philipp

We are also a early adopter for InstaLOD and when I asked about support for 4.18 and further version support back in November here is the response I got:

So it surely does sound like we are being sent packing and being pushed to making a new purchase if we want to continue using InstaLOD past 4.18. :frowning:

As a side note, we could not get the last release to work with 4.18.2 or 4.18.3 using source build.

4.19 already has auto LOD for static models and Epic has stated that better LOD support is on it’s way built in so I can see such products disappear off the shelf.

I/we see the same thing happen using 3ds Max where the market is not to sell the plug in solution but to sell the technology to Autodesk. :wink:

I see. So I think it is fair to say that this was a scam. they used us to get some money to keep their development going and promised us continuing support and now they are openly breaking the contract. Well they probably know that nobody is going to sue them over 80$ so they figure they get away with it.
I guess I stick with my UE 18.3 installation here as long as I need to do some LOD work or I will check out new UE versions with Instalod before I remove 18.3. I just hope Epic will support skeletal mesh reduction. I mean for a developer good at math it should not be too difficult especially since the Instalod source is available to everybody to have a look at.

It’s a good warning for the future not to trust companies anymore that promise you a deal that sounds too good to be true.

What if we get all together (all of their indie customers) and slam them with class-action lawsuit ? (perhaps they are not US based, so it would be no use) Just need to find a pro-bono lawyer who is willing to take on this case.

Nah, I understand they are in Germany. Besides in a class action suit, only the lawyer get rich. I participated in a few that were solicited to me by lawers against the likes of AT&T for millions of $$ and all I got was 5 or 10 bucks. It’s futile.

At this point it’s not about the money, it’s about fraud. If only they offered indie license as-is for all upcoming versions of UE4 and indie+ license upgrade for a tad more (for existing users), I’d be just fine with that (as I am sure many other existing indie customers would have been).

Hey guys,

This is getting out of hand and it seems this is coming from a bad place. I am very surprised with this hostility towards InstaLOD, as we have always been extremely supportive of the indie community.

We have removed the old thread as it contained a massive amount of outdated and misleading information.
One of these reasons is that InstaLOD for INDIE is not available for purchase for more than 6 months.

When we initially released InstaLOD as early access, it only contained the optimizer - nothing else. When we launched this version, we made a promise that the final version will be available to early access users FOR FREE. We held that promise when full support for skeletal mesh optimization was released.
We even went one step further when we upgraded everybody to InstaLOD SDK2 for free. This upgrade included full support for our remeshing technology via both HLOD and “merge actors”.
SDK2 was 2.0 of InstaLOD. With software, you typically have to pay when you upgrade from Maya 2017 to Maya 2018 - unless you have a software subscription. Aside from that, the indie license is still working with all version that is was designed for - our licensing servers do not reject the activation of the indie version at all.
InstaLOD for Unreal Engine 2018 (which was released a few weeks ago) is essentially 3.0 of InstaLOD. It is a new piece of software and an integral part of our SDK2018 technology stack.
RE making money off the indie license, we never really made any substantial money off the indie license in any way. It didn’t even cover our support costs. It was a couple of hundred licenses sold. Very high support costs and low revenue essentially forced us to stop selling the license.

As Philipp said, we are working on a new business model where we’re not aiming to bring only a small fraction of our tech to the indie community, but all of our tools and integrations.
I have also said that there will be an upgrade path for original early access customers in one way or another, but you have to give us some time to work on all of it.

I am truly disappointed by the posts in this thread, as we have always supported the indie communities.
Also, very strange to see our private email conversations being posted on the internet like that.

Thank you to the one user who pointed us to this thread.

Thanks,

Manfred

Not a fan of this kind slander and offensive discussion, /me looks at MotorSep & Wallenstein in particularly, especially when you barely have and know any information.
I’d suggest politely to apologize for saying things like “scam”, “lawsuit”, “breaking contract”, “they used us”, and other totally nonsensical comments.
And yes, this is coming from someone who can be insanely vocal about the littlest of marketplace things.

As Phillip stated in your private email, things are changing and in the near future they are releasing a new licensing model.
Nowhere does it state either of you need to bend over and count your losses.
If anything --and sometimes companies need to be vague until specifics are allowed to be made public-- you should read between the lines and know that an update will arrive in the near future.
What that update holds is --for now-- unknown, or more positively one could view it as a “surprise”.

It wasnt a canned answer, but perhaps a little vague in its wording which should become more clear in the near future, and if you still have worries why not email them with additional questions?

Not to mention Phillip mentions the “indie community” which --if you have read anything from instaLOD, their forum thread, and their social media-- even means the little guys, hobbyists, small indie companies, and more. so that also means you, the one who is reading this.
I am suggesting instead of instantly going on a pitchfork and torch fueled rage and claiming lawsuits and other mumbo jumbo, why not be a bit more polite and reply to that email to express your worries. Ask for anything that isnt clear. Not to mention that you could have emailed/tweeted/whatever InstaLOD/Manny about this thread so they could react to it since that would have been the more professional thing to do.

As someone who has interacted with Manny from time to time as a user of instaLOD, and have seen the latest updates being used by a few of my clients I can safely vouch for InstaLOD and everyone working on this amazing tool and hope you all can be a bit more patient and please be a bit more polite.

They themselves are small indies and imagine reading this after all their efforts, Id be upset, sad, and rather frustrated.
They have always been kind and helpful and doing their best to make this tool into something amazing.

Should they have made a public statement or a ahead-of-time mention the thread would be deleted? yes (if they havent done that, I havent read the last few pages before it got deleted)
should they have made it more clear that you have nothing to worry? yes (if they havent don… you know what I mean)

Should you be worried? definitely not.

Here is what I know:

  • I paid good money and it was promised then that early adopters were just that and would receive future updates in exchange for paying for a non finished product.
  • Support has ceased as far as I can tell and we will not be getting free updates when the current version does not work anymore, for instance because the UE SDK changes.
  • I made a specific request for a statement about future updates. Now there are only two possible answer to that request: Yes or No. I don’t see any of those answer in the email I received back. Instead it was a general and foggy remark about “future license model”. That is a canned answer if I ever saw one. If you do not answer the question, you either did not read the email or you do not want to answer and have something to hide.
  • I most certainly will not apologize for pointing out here that I feel cheated because I paid money under the pretense that I will receive future updates and now I am cut off.

So for me, I am hoping that Epic will release a LOD reducer plugin that replaces InstaLod. I have already written off my money mentally and if Epic releases something else I can use, I will certain use that instead of paying again for something for which I already paid.

And another thing: I paid like, what was it70, 80$? That’s a lot of money. I don’t grow my money on trees and I did it because I understood the conditions such that we would get future updates. To say now that “Oh it was ONLY for this or that part of the technology and we gave you other stuff because we were in a charitable mood” is like a slap in the face.

I don’t want to harm anybody and I certainly understand the plights of a small company, but that’s no way to treat your customers.

Here is what they should have done in my eyes:

  • Made it clear from the beginning that the “early adopters” paid for access to an unfinished program and are expected to be testers and report bugs.
  • Also made it clear that we will have to pay for the finished product, perhaps a lower price to get more people to sign up early. InstaLod does a good job at what it does and I am certainly willing to pay a fair compensation for it. But fair also means to treat your customers fairly.
  • When I wrote my email give me concrete answer to the extend maybe that “You misunderstood our terms but early adopters will get a good deal” or something like that. I would not have been half as mad had they shown the least bit of concern for my questions. Instead I received a non informative general statement and stood there like an idiot. Especially after they must have known that people were already mad on the old thread that they deleted a few days after my email.

Instead I get a forum post like from a Soviet Government that states that the government has lost it’s trust in the people and the people must re-earn it. I mean have you people learned nothing from the latest Facebook PR disaster? You could have thrown us a bone, do some sweet talk, offer us a deal, but instead you express your consternation about the fact that I go public with a canned email that does not even contain anything private and how “disappointed” you are in us. Yea, great job. I’m not a businessman but I am pretty sure that sort of treatment of your customers is not Don Draper approved.

And for the UE 4.18 version that was supposedly released: I don’t know where that was released but the last one that I could find on Gumroad was InstaLODUE4_SDK2_U3 and that was in September or so and not a few weeks ago and it contains warnings for UE 4.18. If there was a new one for “early adopters” I didn’t get the memo and it’s not at the usual place on Gumroad.

Anyway, I feel cheated and just used for the money. And to say it was not even a significant amount of money for the people at InstaLod, just something they cashed in on the side isn’t helping that feeling either. The title of the old thread was “Would you pay for something like this?” which indicates to me that they weren’t even sure if their stuff would find enough customers at all. So I guess our support must have been of some value to their decision to further pursue that venture, so our payments can’t have have been that insignificant.

It doesn’t matter anymore to me, I’m off the train. You all have fun paying twice for the same product

Patric, my previous reply should cover most of your concerns. As I have previously stated, it was communicated very clearly from the beginning that the “final” update would be the version that supports skeletal mesh optimization as the first versions only included only static mesh optimization. As we used to be indie developers ourselves, we did want to continue supporting the indie community beyond that with the release of SDK2, ProxyLOD, Remeshing etc. This was communicated very clearly. It’s impossible for any developer to support old software forever. We did support Unreal Engine version 4.9 all the way to 4.17.

I’ve checked my emails and our email conversations go back to Oct 2016 - where we’ve been providing you with direct support on many occasions through the years. Naturally, it’s quite strange to us that you see us as a bad government.

With that being said, we pride ourselves in a great customer relationship with above average ratings in that regard. We certainly do not want to have customers that feel cheated or betrayed. Therefore, even though the early access purchase was made years ago, we made the decision to offer refunds for customers that do not feel that they got their money worth from their usage of InstaLOD for their private or commercial projects. Simply send us the proof of purchase and a we’ll refund through paypal.

Thanks,

Manfred

Personally I would be already happy to have only the skeleton mesh LOD feature. To have InstaLOD 1.0 in UE4.19. But understanding the Manfred’s point. Its been long time since 4.9 and nothing stops to use the current license with older UE4 versions. But cant wait to see the upcoming Indie upgrade path so can release my game during summer. :slight_smile: Else would need manually to make LODs for few 100s skeletal meshes in Houdini.

Thanks, I am sure that you’ll love our upcoming indie package! Unfortunately, there’s no ETA yet as we have a lot of things to figure out in order to deliver it.

Any chance of an update, a progress report, something?

Typically that’s counted in years, not months. Some kind of proof of life would be appreciated. It sure seems like we went from a beta product that never fully worked to abandonware.