Author Topic: Kickstarter, early access, or none of the above? Hmm.  (Read 2956 times)

Offline x4000

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Kickstarter, early access, or none of the above? Hmm.
« on: April 13, 2016, 07:31:31 PM »
I want to be sure and show the raptor in real environments.

Jurassic Park confirmed!

Haha.  :D

Hm, I'm curious, do you have an estimated release time for the game as a whole at this point?  Is that still awhile off?

Release-date-wise, I am still thinking that May might be reasonable in terms of what I can accomplish, but probably isn't wise if there's to be time to market it.  So sometime in the summer, I suppose.

Honestly I've been all over the place on this:
1. Keep it small and focused and release sooner than later.
2. Or run  a kickstarter and see if people care to invest in having it be made into something larger than #1.
3. Or release to Early Access with a decent feature set, and build it out to at least the size of #1, but larger if it's getting good traction.

I'm not quite sure, just yet.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2016, 11:12:10 PM by x4000 »
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Offline chemical_art

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Re: Kickstarter, early access, or none of the above? Hmm.
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2016, 09:50:31 PM »
Haha.

Release-date-wise, I am still thinking that May might be reasonable in terms of what I can accomplish, but probably isn't wise if there's to be time to market it.  So sometime in the summer, I suppose.

Honestly I've been all over the place on this:
1. Keep it small and focused and release sooner than later.
2. Or run  a kickstarter and see if people care to invest in having it be made into something larger than #1.
3. Or release to Early Access with a decent feature set, and build it out to at least the size of #1, but larger if it's getting good traction.

I'm not quite sure, just yet.

I wonder what the value of Early Access does in term of advertising. That could be an asset.
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Offline x4000

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Re: Kickstarter, early access, or none of the above? Hmm.
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2016, 11:11:02 PM »
Right, that's what I am thinking about this from in terms of perspective: advertising.

Kickstarter:
Pros:
- Generates money and awareness WITHOUT making the game available to absolutely anyone, which preserves the "mystique" of an unreleased game.
- At the same time, does bring in some supporters and gets them on board early.
- At the same time, is a marketing and awareness vehicle, which is excellent.
- Can capture more revenue per individual, which feels really slimy to say; but ideally the tiers are worth it so it's not actually a bad thing.

Cons:
- Backer rewards have to be designed and filled.
- Doing the campaign directly conflicts with time to spend actually making the game.
- A failed campaign is a black mark, so the actual dollar amount needs to be pretty low in order to be sure it gets hit.

My strategy with this would be to set something super low as a target, like maybe $5k.  And for that, we get some sort of baseline extra feature, such as perhaps a feathered raptor model (that is pricey).  Then everything else is stretch goals beyond that, and we see what sort of features people are willing to support the game to have.  More environments, more dinosaurs, more enemies, all sorts of things are possible.  It lets us define the scope up-front matched to the funding level that the game gets during the kickstarter, which is great.

Early Access:
Pros:
- Early publicity without the game being "released."
- None of the extra baggage of backer rewards or running and designing a kickstarter.
- It gets in testers early, and potentially some early reviews.

Cons:
- The game is in the hands of anyone who wants it during the entire EA period, which utterly removes any mystique of a game not being out yet.  That makes it perhaps less interesting to reviewers, and it definitely makes 1.0 far less of an event.
- The "new on steam" launch event happens during the early access state, and not at 1.0, which I view as really bad.  "You only get one release on steam," as they say.  I'd prefer if that was a 1.0 release.
- Any sort of roadmap beyond the baseline of "we're definitely doing this regardless of how it sells" is impossible to make, because the funding goals are not there like a kickstarter would have.  I guess.
- Some of those early access steam reviews will be more negative than they would be for a polished 1.0 build.


Overall I feel like the kickstarter route is probably better from a marketing standpoint and probably a financial standpoint.  But it comes at some extra cost in terms of time to market and general distraction from core development activities.  So there is that.

Right now I'm just on the fence, and waiting to see what happens as I start releasing videos and screenshots and information over the coming weeks.
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Offline Misery

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Re: Kickstarter, early access, or none of the above? Hmm.
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2016, 11:50:32 PM »
I'll be honest, I don't like the early access idea.

Not because I don't like early access games... I've been doing testing for such things since long before they were named that.  Back in the day, it was "beta", not early access, dagnabit.

No, the thing that bugs me is the godawful image that early access games as a whole seem to have.  I cant count the number of times I've heard "Early access sucks, everyone should just wait till the full release", or just people complaining about bad experiences they've had, or... stuff like that.  Valve kinda seems to have zero control of the system as a whole, so while I personally have had no bad experiences with games in that state, that's entirely because I research the heck out of them before buying into one.  A lot of people don't, they go "OOH SHINY" and buy, and then they have a bad time, and of course it's the fault of the system, not of their derpy decision, and so on.  It's just NEVER the consumer's fault, nope...

Kickstarter has it's issues, but I personally don't see them as being nearly as bad.

The question to me is, how will you get the word out there about this happening?  Either option seems to need some big way of getting attention to them, or nobody will contribute.

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Kickstarter, early access, or none of the above? Hmm.
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2016, 07:03:09 AM »
Here are my two bits of thought.

I won't personally support a kickstarter for a project as modest. It's a game made as a waiter for a game made as a waiter for a big game (namely: RR -> ??3D?? -> SBR). I will definitely buy it when it'll be out, because I trust Arcen for making good games, but I'm not totally enjoyed by the project. Please understand this is only a personal taste: SR, RR and stuff are far from my favorite genres (which precisely include SBR and AIW). Also, I regard backer's rewards and the general "kickstarter design" as a consumer's lure.

Regarding Early Access, while I totally agree with Misery's point, call it "open beta" and I'll buy it (and provide my humble bug reports and comments). However I'm totally okay with a 1.0 release and I think it would be a wise choice from Arcen.
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Offline x4000

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Re: Kickstarter, early access, or none of the above? Hmm.
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2016, 06:55:25 PM »
I forgot to mention the early access stigma, yeah.  That is certainly another factor against this.

In terms of the raptor game being a "waiter" for SBR, I really wouldn't call it that.  Keith is working on SBR independently of me, and I'm working on the raptor game independently of him.  I am done with SBR, most likely.  I am probably done with making strategy games in general for a long, long time.  I just don't want to do it, at least not at the moment.  Doing the graphics and physics and network coding for an AI War game in 3D would interest me, but I don't want to get into any of the actual strategy game design bits right now.  I'm just so very weary of that part.
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Offline Bluddy

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Re: Kickstarter, early access, or none of the above? Hmm.
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2016, 05:09:07 AM »
I would not recommend Kickstarter myself. It's really hard to build up excitement and it's a huge drain on your resources.

Even Early Access, I would only do when you feel you have something you can get people really excited about in terms of a playable product. It's especially good for a game with procedural generation that can be played for many hours, because it means that even with a limited budget, your buyers can feel they're getting a good deal and can keep being involved. Every new patch is exciting.

I think Early Access in general is ideal for Arcen, because you'd love to have a long-term relationship with customers a la Project Zomboid, where you're constantly expanding this cool thing your customers are interested in. If you can get to this model, you don't need to constantly figure out ways to extract more money via expansions. The hard part is getting there -- that's not going to be easy to do with a small game. What you probably want to do it with is a game that is small up front but clearly has a lot of potential for expansion, like a Project Zomboid or a Prison Architect.

Offline Misery

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Re: Kickstarter, early access, or none of the above? Hmm.
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2016, 06:14:46 AM »
I forgot to mention the early access stigma, yeah.  That is certainly another factor against this.

In terms of the raptor game being a "waiter" for SBR, I really wouldn't call it that.  Keith is working on SBR independently of me, and I'm working on the raptor game independently of him.  I am done with SBR, most likely.  I am probably done with making strategy games in general for a long, long time.  I just don't want to do it, at least not at the moment.  Doing the graphics and physics and network coding for an AI War game in 3D would interest me, but I don't want to get into any of the actual strategy game design bits right now.  I'm just so very weary of that part.


You mighta already mentioned this in some email somewhere, heck if I remember, but was it mostly SBR that gave you such burnout with the genre?  Or was it more from something else?  I certainly remember the frustrations with SBR... I think a lot of people here remember that... but I'm guessing it was more than that one game?

This also brings up an interesting question:  where will you go from here, once the raptor game is done?  Have you had any other ideas?  Not for specific games, I mean moreso TYPES of games that you'd be interested in trying your hand at. 

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Kickstarter, early access, or none of the above? Hmm.
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2016, 06:57:03 AM »
In terms of the raptor game being a "waiter" for SBR, I really wouldn't call it that.  Keith is working on SBR independently of me, and I'm working on the raptor game independently of him.
Then sorry about what I said. I didn't realized you "fractured" the team up to that point of total independence.

Quote
I am done with SBR, most likely.  I am probably done with making strategy games in general for a long, long time.  I just don't want to do it, at least not at the moment.  Doing the graphics and physics and network coding for an AI War game in 3D would interest me, but I don't want to get into any of the actual strategy game design bits right now.  I'm just so very weary of that part.
That sounds so sad. Well, you said "I can retire now" more than a year ago. I guess now is still a valid time to retire on the RTS scene. I for one, would be sad, but in regard of what you already achieved in that field, I guess it's only fair.

Amusingly enough, when I first read this post diagonally, my brain basically processed something like that.
Quote
blabla bla bla blabla AI War game in 3D bla blabla bla bla
:D
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
Pumpkin>> Do I need another cure about paranoia on top of overexcitement?
Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!

Offline crazyroosterman

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Re: Kickstarter, early access, or none of the above? Hmm.
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2016, 12:24:51 PM »
I forgot to mention the early access stigma, yeah.  That is certainly another factor against this.

In terms of the raptor game being a "waiter" for SBR, I really wouldn't call it that.  Keith is working on SBR independently of me, and I'm working on the raptor game independently of him.  I am done with SBR, most likely.  I am probably done with making strategy games in general for a long, long time.  I just don't want to do it, at least not at the moment.  Doing the graphics and physics and network coding for an AI War game in 3D would interest me, but I don't want to get into any of the actual strategy game design bits right now.  I'm just so very weary of that part.

You mighta already mentioned this in some email somewhere, heck if I remember, but was it mostly SBR that gave you such burnout with the genre?  Or was it more from something else?  I certainly remember the frustrations with SBR... I think a lot of people here remember that... but I'm guessing it was more than that one game?

This also brings up an interesting question:  where will you go from here, once the raptor game is done?  Have you had any other ideas?  Not for specific games, I mean moreso TYPES of games that you'd be interested in trying your hand at.
have you forgotten about the survival game this is intended as something of a precursor to?   ???
btw I'm looking forward to what keith does with stars I just hope it does end up getting finished I mean after all the money that's gone into I doubt it will bring you a profit but at least it would help cover for its cost but yea after the survival game id be curious to see what you'd move onto if there's anything at all you think you can mesh together in an interesting way.
 
ps has anybody else here played the magic circle? its a game about the player character basically hacking into a game that's been unfinished for 20 years  and trying to finish it anything else would be a bit of a spoiler but if nothing else I think chris would find that game rather interesting.

« Last Edit: April 15, 2016, 12:31:19 PM by crazyroosterman »
c.r

Offline steelwing

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Re: Kickstarter, early access, or none of the above? Hmm.
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2016, 12:44:00 PM »
ps has anybody else here played the magic circle? its a game about the player character basically hacking into a game that's been unfinished for 20 years  and trying to finish it anything else would be a bit of a spoiler but if nothing else I think chris would find that game rather interesting.
*raises hand* :) Magic Circle is an awesome game.  Anyone even thinking about getting into game (really, any kind, but especially game) software development should play it.

Offline chemical_art

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Re: Kickstarter, early access, or none of the above? Hmm.
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2016, 01:13:47 PM »
I am completely burnt out on kickstarter, however, it does seem the best way to generate advertising while still getting a fresh 1.0 release onto steam.

Only other downside I can see is that the usual arcen method of having redshirts get access to the game for free can't be done. Here on the forums we accept it readily the process but new people will not. They will only think "I paid money and this [imagination] gets it for free before me!" That will generate a black mark.
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Offline Pepisolo

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Re: Kickstarter, early access, or none of the above? Hmm.
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2016, 01:23:21 PM »
If doing a kickstarter then I would say that make sure that the plan about what the money is being used for is clear. Kickstarters with vague plans for how the money is being spent don't seem to do that well. Personally, I find those types of campaigns annoying.

If the goal were $15,000 then cost it all out clearly based on that amount. $5000 for the character and NPC models, $3000 for the soundtrack, $4000 for the environments, coding time etc. 

Also, most who run kickstarters seem to underestimate how much time will be taken up doing all the kickstartery stuff and the cost assosciated with it, too. So, try to prepare as well as possible for that.

Offline crazyroosterman

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Re: Kickstarter, early access, or none of the above? Hmm.
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2016, 02:07:56 PM »
ps has anybody else here played the magic circle? its a game about the player character basically hacking into a game that's been unfinished for 20 years  and trying to finish it anything else would be a bit of a spoiler but if nothing else I think chris would find that game rather interesting.
*raises hand* :) Magic Circle is an awesome game.  Anyone even thinking about getting into game (really, any kind, but especially game) software development should play it.
  :D that game is so on the nose and I love it! like for instance the scene were
Spoiler for Hidden:
the lead developer makes the game open source and the community just comes in and lovably wrecks everything
that just made me cringe so dam hard.
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Offline x4000

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Re: Kickstarter, early access, or none of the above? Hmm.
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2016, 02:40:58 PM »
Various responses:

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!
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