1. I totally get kickstarter being a huge drain on resources. It's also something that is based around how much money you need, though to some extent. For this game, I was thinking something along the lines "we'd like to raise $5k to do a feathered raptor," and that's the base campaign. After kickstarter takes their cut, that is about right for a character like that. Then everything else would be very specific stretch goals, and I'd make it super clear that the base game would be happening either way.
2. In terms of the time commitment that a kickstarter would take, it's something that previously we could not have afforded to do because it would have ground our company to a halt and the monthly overhead was too high to be able to afford that. At this point it would mostly just grind ME to a halt during that time period, and even then I imagine I could keep up with my work on the game with half my hours. Either way, the kickstarter stuff is marketing and publicity type work that needs to happen either way.
3. My big concern is around backer rewards and fulfillment on those taking up a ton of time. So the design of those has to be handled suuuuper carefully. I've done "let's talk to people lots and lots each day and keep them excited" before, many times. I'm planning on trying to do that anyway. The whole "let's create some ancillary stuff just for specific people" really makes me nervous.
4. Personally I prefer the kickstarter route in some respects because I want to NOT have a lengthy early access stage for this game. I guess I could be going about it the wrong way (and I haven't decided anything at all yet anyhow), but because this is procedural I'd really like this to be a game that comes out at 1.0 as complete, and then that's just it for the game for the most part unless there's some huge swell of desire for more. Aka, kind of like what SUPERHOT did: they built this cool big thing, released it, and that was that. There's bugfixes and such, but it's not in eternal development like, for instance, your average survival game is.
5. I definitely have NOT forgotten about the survival game that this is a precursor to. That's part of why I don't want to spend time in infinite early access on this game; that is precisely my plan for the survival game, heh. That one definitely should go to EA, and stay there for quite some time. I'd love to start big with that and just get bigger and bigger for a long time. That's a genre of game where expansions don't make as much sense, too.
6. I heard of magic circle and thought that looked really cool, but have not played it.
7. Oh, and in terms of the whole "redshirts" thing and that being incompatible with kickstarter: I'd either do that prior to starting the kickstarter at all, or just wouldn't do it. I'm not feeling like this particular game (or the survival game) are likely to need waves of testers in the same way that some other recent games of ours have. Yes we'll need testers, certainly, and the more the better. But the whole idea with waves of them is mostly to collect first impressions and that's based a lot around learning curves, etc. With these games I don't see the learning curve being such a big deal as in some of our other titles, which is one of the things that makes me so happy here as opposed to the strategy area.
8. Regarding me being burned out on strategy games: I got burned out on realtime strategy probably 3-4 years ago, unfortunately. You'll notice that Keith has handled every expansion for AI War after the 4th one, and that was because I just was so burned out by that point. I felt like I was endlessly fiddling in small ways with something I'd already been working on for 4 years (since 2008), not making huge strides in something new. Inherently not making huge strides in something new: if I did make major changes in that game, then I'd be really pissing off a lot of players. Moving into turn-based strategy and other more abstract stuff (like TLF) also kind of sated me. Skyward Collapse was my first experiment with turn-based strategy-type stuff, and my first experiment with trying to make crazy emergent stories. TLF then perfected the crazy emergent stories, and I don't have anything to add in that area right now. SBR was my attempt to perfect my ideas in a turn-based fashion, and by all accounts I failed to fully make that happen. So I'm licking my wounds, there. I need a few years of space and perspective to figure out some completely different angle of attack, I think.
9. In terms of other kinds of games I want to make, absolutely. I have incredibly concrete ideas for at least a dozen games. For years I've been really constrained by only being able to work in 2D, so I am just absolutely joyous at being able to work in 3D now -- and by finding that it's at least as easy to work in as 2D, for me. I had built it up in my mind that it would be so much harder, but it's actually a lot more straightforward than 2D in some ways. Tools have really advanced since the last time I was working in 3D. So a lot of things that I've wanted to do for years but didn't even put on my list because I could not do them in 2D now become possible, and I'm super excited about that.
10. In the short-term, survival game aside, I'm mostly interested in creating experience-based games. Aka, "I want to feel what it feels like to be a raptor, as much as I've been able to ever imagine it or better." The gameplay goes along with that obviously, but it's meant to be an experience more than some game you'll put in 100 cerebral hours into. I
want to experience that, and always have, so here we are. Plus it's Just Plain Fun, which is something I gravitate to these days, so long as it also has enough challenge to go with it. There are other various experience-type games that I have a strong desire to do, but I don't really want to say what they are right now. Suffice it to say, they are also things that are "I just don't get why nobody else is doing these in the last few decades, or at least not doing them right" sorts of things.
11. After that, survival game aside, at some point I do want to do a citybuilder in 3D. Not one that is focused around a bunch of numbers and deep strategy and balance. I want to create a different kind of citybuilder that is more about building cool cities and then doing cool things in them. That's something I always pined for as a kid, and the expansions to SimCity 2000 and 4 only sort of addressed those (and quite poorly). I also have some interactive time-travel story-focused games that I want to do. I'd like it to basically be an action-RPG of sorts. I'm not ready for that yet, but the prospect of getting to finally write that story (that I've been wanting to write so badly and see in game form since 1996 or so) is really exciting.
And the list goes on. I don't have any shortage of ideas.
12. In terms of the team fracturing into sub-groups, it definitely has. Keith is working away on SBR on his own, and I'm on the raptor game, and we fill each other in on what's going on periodically. I haven't touched or seen anything with SBR in a couple of months now. He knows less about the raptor game than a few people here at this point, I expect; he's never loaded up that code. He did come up with the name of the raptor game, though.
This working relationship is certainly different, but right now Keith doesn't need anything from me, and there isn't any art support he needs just yet, either. Later he and I will have to share Blue some, but mostly I need her much more than he will, since he has a huge amount of artist-hours of work already sitting there in SBR for him.
So, yeah. Things have changed a lot. We're an extremely different company than we were years ago. Design/programming-wise, we're basically two independent one-man-shops under one name, and then we've got an awesome on-staff artist who is mostly supporting me, and then Pablo is very loosely around for a few lingering things. Then we have the Freaking Volunteer (tm) squad working on Starward Rogue and its expansion, now pretty much entirely without anything from Keith or myself. I also have a wonderful Freaking Volunteer for the Raptor game, in the form of jerith, working on various code things. We also still have Quinn, now a Freaking Volunteer, working on the site administration as needed. And Erik is of course still around, but completely on royalties for the marketing/PR work that he does. That relationship arrangement isn't exactly new with him, though.
And that's Arcen. We're super different sort of company now than we were in January. So many people gone, the singular and focused team fragmented into 3, and so on. I feel super bad for what happened with everyone back when that all went down, and it was a terrible time. That said, I have responsibility for a lot fewer people now, and not so much constant cash outflow every month, so in many respects I feel lighter and freer than I have in years. And getting to work on this stuff in 3D is absolutely exhilarating; I'm not sure I'll ever work in 2D again. I kind of feel like I hit the end of my road there, in terms of the various things I could express with that. Eight or nineish games will do that.
Anyway, enough rambling from me!