Author Topic: YES we hit four stretch goals. :) Plus other stretch goal info.  (Read 1239 times)

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YES we hit four stretch goals. :) Plus other stretch goal info.
« on: December 19, 2016, 07:51:44 PM »
So much confusion about this, which is understandable.

There were two sources of money for the kickstarter, previously:
1. From the kickstarter itself.
2. From paypal, which doesn't get shown in the big total on kickstarter.

At the time the campaign closed:
1. We were about $300 short of the fourth stretch goal (interplanetary weapons) on kickstarter.
2. We had enough extra from paypal at the time to put us $90 over the goal for interplanetary weapons! :)

That total was reached with literally 11 minutes to spare.

NOW the situation is there are three sources:
1. Kickstarter itself, which will not have its number rise ever again for this particular campaign.
2. Paypal, which can still take money -- and is presently at $411.
3. BackerKit, which can raise money from addons and late pledges and so on.

It's entirely possible that by the end of January we could hit the fifth stretch goal.  It's also entirely possible that we will NOT. ;)  But at any rate, we plan on counting all monies in from these three sources as going toward the remaining stretch goal(s) until the game enters Early Access in late May.



When The Stretch Goals End
After early access starts, we'll probably cut off the stretch goals for the current funding round, because then we're getting into the area where I start actually getting paid back for some of the expenses I've incurred that the kicsktarter doesn't cover.  The kickstarter covers plenty to finish the project, no worries there, but it doesn't cover the amounts I've already spent, or my otherwise-unpaid labor for various pieces over the coming months.

Most campaigns end their stretch goals when their kickstarter itself ends, although there are some notable campaigns that haven't done that.  We're taking kind of a mixed approach, to reflect our mixed funding so to speak (I've footed the bill for well into the five figures on this project, to go with what backers put in).



Further Stretch Goals After Early Access
Whatever the case, however much funding is raised before early accessstarts, there's going to come a point where we go "okay, there's still more stuff we would love to do."  Even with our first kickstarter with the $300k budget, that was already the case.  We could work on this for years... as I suppose is evidenced by the first AI War.

At any rate, with the first AI War we funded this by periodically creating new DLC expansion packs that also then added new AI War Collection versions.  This worked super well for us in the past, and we sold over 1m units of DLC through steam alone.

Unfortunately, with the way the Steam market is right now, I think that DLC released in a traditional manner would get lost in the shuffle.  So we have a couple of options, which we'll explore later:

1. Roll the dice and do the DLC in a traditional "buy it when it's done" sort of way, but the first DLC might be the last (ala what happened to Skyward Collapse).

2. Go back to kickstarter to fund the DLC, and the size of the kickstarter determines how big the DLC gets.

3. Go for Patreon, and basically take the Dwarf Fortress model of "we give you ongoing updates and you collectively pay us for them as much as you are willing and able.  Depending on how much is coming in monthly from the collective, that determines how much we can afford to work on it that month."

There are pros and cons to all three approaches.  Both in terms of value for money for backers/patrons/purchasers/whatever, as well as risk for Arcen, as well as viability of adding to the game over the long haul.  For the most part we're not going to really get into to deep of discussion of this until late next year when 1.0 is approaching and we're trying to figure out next steps from there.  There should be a lot more clarity for all of us as to what makes the most sense for all involved at that time.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2016, 07:54:06 PM by x4000 »
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Offline MaxAstro

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Re: YES we hit four stretch goals. :) Plus other stretch goal info.
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2016, 09:04:45 PM »
I will note that while normally I am in favor of pay-once DLC, Arcen is the one company that I would love to see a patreon model for.  I would absolutely go in for a monthly-support kind of thing, and be confident that I will get my value out of it from you.  :)

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Re: YES we hit four stretch goals. :) Plus other stretch goal info.
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2016, 09:43:09 AM »
Cheers, I appreciate it. :)

We'll have to see what we do.  In the ideal circumstance, we collect a minimum of money from each individual customer, and the breadth of the market supports us.  That has worked well for us for years, but the Steam market has all but collapsed in terms of viability for that for us in the short term.  If they get their situation figured out better before next October, then maybe we can just do what we've always done with expansions.

Or maybe a kickstarter pay-once sort of thing will work for funding these.  That still winds up pulling more money per customer rather than spreading out the cost, which has a lot of negatives, but at least it would get the job done while the market is nuts.  I guess the plus side is that if a kickstarter like that does well, then it could be something that is practically two expansions in one if people are really funding it a lot.  Or three or four expansions, whatever. ;)

There are a lot of options, and I think right now the biggest variable is the market.  Hopefully the market is a much more sane place late next year.  And hopefully we'll also be able to better reach the customers of AI War 2 than we were the customers of AI War 1, which will also help us raise more money with less burden on individual backers.

I've said for a lot of years "I'm really glad Kickstarter exists, but I hope I never have to use it."  (Referring there to myself as a developer, as I've used it as a backer since 2011.)  Then the Steam market went insane, so here we are: but it's been an admirable safety-net for what otherwise could have been a complete collapse for the company.  Instead here we are with this awesome sequel funded and in the pipeline. :)

So: like I always said, I'm glad it exists. :)
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Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: YES we hit four stretch goals. :) Plus other stretch goal info.
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2016, 09:56:39 AM »
Yea, the Patreon idea is an interesting one. I'm guessing that at first it would be difficult to make the Patreon thing pay for much beyond barebones ongoing support, but possibly we could build up a support-base there over the years that could fund more substantial development.

Either way my guess is that the way forward for the first expansion after release will be to work out the design with the community in November/December 2017, then run a kickstarter campaign for it in January/Feburary 2018.

But that's getting ahead of ourselves :) First we need to do a good job here.
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Offline Aklyon

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Re: YES we hit four stretch goals. :) Plus other stretch goal info.
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2016, 01:34:31 PM »
Honestly I dunno if the DF route could work; Arcen is more than two people working on a playable ASCII fantasy world generator. I like the idea, and its probably worth a shot though. You guys not always having to rely on the worse and worse-sounding steam visibility market would be great. :)

Offline gilman

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Re: YES we hit four stretch goals. :) Plus other stretch goal info.
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2016, 03:09:20 PM »
So with the Patreon route, isn't it basically an all seasons pass in subscription form? I thought you guys were strongly opposed to the idea of all season pass type models?

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: YES we hit four stretch goals. :) Plus other stretch goal info.
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2016, 03:16:35 PM »
So with the Patreon route, isn't it basically an all seasons pass in subscription form? I thought you guys were strongly opposed to the idea of all season pass type models?
That wouldn't have been for expansions, but simply funding further development (regular updates, etc). You have a point in that it would be odd if being a supporter didn't give you free copies of the expansions when they came. But the idea is that what you were putting into the project would yield fruit within a month or two (either in updates, or in an expansion being at least in development), rather than you putting in a chunk of money that might or might not ever turn into anything.

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Re: YES we hit four stretch goals. :) Plus other stretch goal info.
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2016, 03:28:57 PM »
So with the Patreon route, isn't it basically an all seasons pass in subscription form? I thought you guys were strongly opposed to the idea of all season pass type models?

Yeah, there are all sorts of potential issues with this route, and that is kinda-sorta one of them (the season pass thing).  But honestly I feel like it's a bit different of a model... well, the patron model.  As Keith notes, these updates would just go to the regular game, not to expansions.  The people who were patrons would help fund those things, but they wouldn't have any new pieces of game that other people didn't get.

I guess.

I mean, that was our original plan for that as a contingency.  Very much like DF, we are pretty much just two guys and a lady working on this, or really one guy and one lady (Keith and Blue) once we hit that point.  There are extra people that get pulled in from time to time in that scenario (me, Pablo, Ben, Dio, etc), but overall it's just code/design and art, over and over with that.

The idea is that people would be funding the two of them to work on the base game making it bigger for everybody as many hours as they could.  It's not a promise of anything in the future, particularly.  Possibly the patrons get to have extra votes on what gets worked on next or something, I guess.  But basically, unlike a season pass, it's not guaranteeing some particular future product that may or may not manifest.  It's a much more personal relationship with the creator(s) (Keith and Blue) who are basically working exactly the amount that they are paid by patrons to.  So if patrons pay a lot, things happen faster, or if they pay a little it happens slower.  If they pay a super lot, then I guess that's saved for a rainy day or period when a little is paid and otherwise things would slow down.

In theory.

As we noted a couple of times, mostly these are questions for late next year.  The patreon model is not my favorite, although I've gone back and forth on how much I like it as an idea.  It could work super well for Pablo doing ongoing music tracks, for instance.  I'm most keen on that compared to anything else, when it comes to all this.

Frankly I preferred the days when we just made the thing and then you chose whether or not to buy the thing. :/

For season passes, those are basically "you buy 'something' and then you get whatever that is if it ever gets created."  It's vague and gross and really just... ugh.  With patreon you're doing something very specific: hiring labor that gets whatever they can done in the amount of time that was funded.

That's the distinction in my mind, anyway.  I'm still not the most keen on it, but we'll just see what the next year brings.  I think it's good to be mulling these decisions over that period so we know what to do at that time and aren't caught flat-footed if the Steam market is still like it presently is.  But I'm not about to start up anything new like that anytime soon.

BackerKit and PayPal continue to pursue stretch goals for AI War 2, and I'll find some sort of other funding for the VR work that I'll do (crowdfunding or traditional or otherwise), but that's the main plan.
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Offline madcow

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Re: YES we hit four stretch goals. :) Plus other stretch goal info.
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2016, 05:41:55 PM »
My favorite model is distinct expansions myself. Pre-order/kickstarter is fine as an addition as far as I'm concerned.

My big issue with constant small releases/additions is that it feels like I can't ever get a full game in before there's a new addition that requires me start over from the beginning.

Offline Cyborg

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Re: YES we hit four stretch goals. :) Plus other stretch goal info.
« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2016, 05:50:49 PM »
I'm happy to contribute regularly to the AI war development after 1.0. It's whatever you decide, any model is fine. But I suspect it's not folks like me that you need to communicate this to. Doing a great job with the 1.0 release will determine which model will work best, I think.
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Offline gilman

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Re: YES we hit four stretch goals. :) Plus other stretch goal info.
« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2016, 06:19:48 PM »
Thanks for the replies  :) Hopefully the environment on steam improves in the coming year but its always good to have multiple backups  :D

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Re: YES we hit four stretch goals. :) Plus other stretch goal info.
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2016, 09:36:11 AM »
My big issue with constant small releases/additions is that it feels like I can't ever get a full game in before there's a new addition that requires me start over from the beginning.

This is a super good point.  So however we fund it, we should probably aim for the "there's a stable release, there's a beta release, and people play whichever they want" like we did with AI War historically.

I'm happy to contribute regularly to the AI war development after 1.0. It's whatever you decide, any model is fine. But I suspect it's not folks like me that you need to communicate this to. Doing a great job with the 1.0 release will determine which model will work best, I think.

I think you're very right on that.  And I appreciate it!

Thanks for the replies  :) Hopefully the environment on steam improves in the coming year but its always good to have multiple backups  :D

Sure thing!  And for all our sakes (developers, consumers, and so on) I hope the environment on steam improves.  Goodness knows that Jim Sterling isn't spending so much of his time railing on the current environment because he's worried about developers; he's a consumer advocate and is pissed.
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Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: YES we hit four stretch goals. :) Plus other stretch goal info.
« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2016, 04:26:54 PM »
My big issue with constant small releases/additions is that it feels like I can't ever get a full game in before there's a new addition that requires me start over from the beginning.
Yea, continuous development is actually not a good thing, as we've found. Better to have phases:

1) After releasing 1.0 official, spend a month just handling bugfixes, balance tweaks, and other minor quality-of-life improvements to the UI and whatnot. All these are pushed to 1.0xx beta updates; if there's something critical it may be made an official update.
2) At the end of that, release the result as an official 1.1 update, and spend another two weeks just handling bugfixes (no q-o-l stuff, and no balance tweaks unless there's something major-- shouldn't be, at this stage). All these are pushed as 1.1xx beta updates; if there's something critical it may be made an official update.
3) At the end of that, release the result as an official 1.2 update, and don't push any updates to the the game at all unless there's a crash bug or something like that.
4) Start serious discussion on what the next expansion (and accompanying base-game changes) should be, keep that going for 2-3 months depending on where we are in the year.
5) Figure out how we're going to fund it, whether Kickstarter or whatever; this may run concurrently with the end of the discussion phase
6) Do the major new development via 1.8xx beta updates. People in the expansion alpha get the expansion content as soon as it's ready to test. Everyone wanting the beta updates gets the non-expansion stuff as soon as it's ready to test.
7) Once the implementation is done, switch to 1.9xx beta updates for the final testing period.
8) Release the expansion and new base-game content as 2.0 official.
9) Repeat.

Or, in summary:
Release -> Polish -> Tidy -> Hands Off, Talk On -> Big Changes -> Test Changes -> Release -> Repeat

This doesn't necessarily work when you've got full time staff who need to get paid by the project, but since I'm not full-time anymore and am planning to have other work during the lower-key phases that's just fine.
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Re: YES we hit four stretch goals. :) Plus other stretch goal info.
« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2016, 07:21:41 PM »
That definitely makes a lot of sense to me.  For Pablo and Blue and myself it won't be a hardship either, and it's better for the product.  That's some flexibility that larger companies don't have at all, even at the size we were a couple of months ago, let alone something like a AAA developer.  Blue and I can always be working on other projects and pulling in Pablo (and possibly even you on a limited basis if the timing is right and it makes sense) there.

I am happy with that approach there, and it would mirror the rough timing of DLC that AI War Classic had during its heyday... just without the constant thrashing in between DLC releases.
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Offline TheVampire100

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Re: YES we hit four stretch goals. :) Plus other stretch goal info.
« Reply #14 on: December 22, 2016, 01:16:36 PM »
3. Go for Patreon, and basically take the Dwarf Fortress model of "we give you ongoing updates and you collectively pay us for them as much as you are willing and able.  Depending on how much is coming in monthly from the collective, that determines how much we can afford to work on it that month."

Uhm, just before you decide to do that (I know it's still a long time until then but better telling it earlier than too late), I just want to let you know that this does not always work pefectely out with indie developers.
I don't know if you know the indie game "Fortresscraft Evolved", I mentioned it once or twice but that was logn ago. Basically it is an industrial survival game where you build machien structures that gather resources for you and craft items out of them while you are busy with building new machines and stuff. It's very similiar to Factoiro but in 3D.

Anyway, the developer released the game way too early and mentioned himself that he is aware that the game is not finished but he will continue to support it. He released a patch each month since then, so he kept his word, he put all in the game what he missed from the release. However, he also went the Patreon way. Be aware, he does make less than 3000$ per month. That's not realyl that much but since he is working alone, he can keep all the money to himself.
He also released three dlc so far, one major and two cosmetic, and he is planning on making a third one to release in the near future. He wants to support the game as long as possible, probably too long, so he has to make as much money as possible from it.
This seems wo twork out for him now but it also attracts some negative criticism towards him.