Author Topic: A few questions.  (Read 1185 times)

Offline Smithgift

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A few questions.
« on: January 26, 2014, 01:04:25 PM »
I haven't been this excited for a new game in a long time. Still, I have a few questions:

1) Do the planets orbit the sun? It would just feel weird to me if they didn't.

2) How detailed/closed is the game's economy? Do merchant convoys and whatnot spawn arbitrarily, or do they only occur to shuttle resources between planets? Can you kill pirate bases to prevent pirates from spawning? That kind of thing.

3) How much are you planning to sell the game for?

Offline x4000

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Re: A few questions.
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2014, 01:10:37 PM »
Glad you're excited!  To the questions:

1. No, it's more of a map.  Having the planets move would be something that would be hard to keep track of, I think.  And difficult to represent from the perspective we are using.  Lots of similar games have planets that don't move.

2. It is extremely detailed, although the level of abstraction varies heavily.  Obviously we cannot simulate trillions of individual aliens directly, so we simulate them more broadly by the million, etc. 
- Trade routes typically are only established by your actions.  You cannot raid those directly at the moment, but pirates and enemies of the races can do that. 
- Raiding pirate bases to keep pirates from spawning is a big part of the game; you can also raid them for other purposes (finding loot items to bribe races with; stealing pirate technology).

3. Honestly not sure yet.  It is a tough sort of decision, because this game is at least as large as the base game of AI War, and even AI War is priced very cheaply these days ($10).  AI War was originally $20, and sold well at that price, and we lowered the price after a few years.  Certain other strategy games sell for even more and do very well.  Our Valley games sell for $15 and do well for what they are at that price.  But then something like Bionic struggles at $10, but that seems to be more about lack of awareness than price.  It's something we are still struggling with internally.  Suggestions are welcome, although it's hard when you guys have not played the game yet.
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Offline Cyborg

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Re: A few questions.
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2014, 03:02:32 PM »
Glad you're excited!  To the questions:

1. No, it's more of a map.  Having the planets move would be something that would be hard to keep track of, I think.  And difficult to represent from the perspective we are using.  Lots of similar games have planets that don't move.

2. It is extremely detailed, although the level of abstraction varies heavily.  Obviously we cannot simulate trillions of individual aliens directly, so we simulate them more broadly by the million, etc. 
- Trade routes typically are only established by your actions.  You cannot raid those directly at the moment, but pirates and enemies of the races can do that. 
- Raiding pirate bases to keep pirates from spawning is a big part of the game; you can also raid them for other purposes (finding loot items to bribe races with; stealing pirate technology).

3. Honestly not sure yet.  It is a tough sort of decision, because this game is at least as large as the base game of AI War, and even AI War is priced very cheaply these days ($10).  AI War was originally $20, and sold well at that price, and we lowered the price after a few years.  Certain other strategy games sell for even more and do very well.  Our Valley games sell for $15 and do well for what they are at that price.  But then something like Bionic struggles at $10, but that seems to be more about lack of awareness than price.  It's something we are still struggling with internally.  Suggestions are welcome, although it's hard when you guys have not played the game yet.




Your team has never been very "gimmicky" on prices. If you were rolling in the dough, that would be one thing, but maybe you ought to consider the following:
* preorder discounts, with guarantees that you will not drop the price below that value for a minimum of six months
* Set the price according to your marketing success. Especially if you are acknowledging that Bionic was one of your best products (and it was) but suffered from lack of awareness.
* Accept the day one DLC model. I think this is more acceptable with independent studios. I'm well aware of the studio when I patronize.
* Start doing price locks on AI war expansions. Your marketing doesn't have to work nearly as hard here, and I think you could benefit from some price locks.


Some of these things I dislike also, and wouldn't it be great if all games were affordable and rewarded the developers for their hard work, but maybe it's time to get creative after what happened with bionic. Can't keep doing that. And I hope that marketing continues to find opportunities to pitch bionic because it is a great game.

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Offline x4000

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Re: A few questions.
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2014, 03:12:12 PM »
We're still working on Bionic marketing-wise, and hope that there will be some breaks with that.

I am unclear on some of your terminology, though -- can you clarify if you don't mind?

- What do you mean about "price locks?"
- What do you mean by "setting the price according to marketing success?"  That's not something that we can really gauge until we see it actually selling (or not selling).  The marketing seemed reasonably successful for Bionic prior to it coming out; we got some pretty heavy duty coverage in some key areas, and it was all positive.

In terms of the market, ultimately there is a luck factor involved.  As frustrating as that is, it's something that I recognize.  AI War is as popular as it is partly due to luck, and Bionic is less popular than we expected partly due to luck.  That's not to say I throw my hands up in the air in terms of trying to do something about the situation, but I think that overcompensating for things in the wrong areas can happen if the luck factor is not at least considered.  Or on the other end, expectations for repeat success can become inflated.

Day one DLC is pretty much out for us as we won't have time to create it.  But presuming that this takes off well at all, we'll be working on an expansion for this pretty fast.  And if we have good time, and depending on just what the overall situation looks like, there should be an AI War and a Bionic expansion in there before summer, too.  Don't hold me to that, because there are a lot of suppositions there.  But still.

AI War actually made a ton of money last year -- more than the year prior.  So it's really doing fine with the model it already has, it has always been a killer earner.  Valley and Skyward also didn't do bad at all last year, although the expansion for Skyward completely tanked.  Although given that we put out Valley 2, the Valley sales were pretty pathetic in terms of being a net negative return there.  Anyway, even just looking at last year it is not clear why Skyward did so much better than Bionic, when I think the latter is a better game, even though both are good.  The marketing actually seemed better on Bionic, too.  To me, that's largely the luck factor.
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Offline Cyborg

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Re: A few questions.
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2014, 03:23:23 PM »

- What do you mean about "price locks?"


As in, guaranteeing that your studio will not sell for lower than x for a period of six months. Any prices below that amount would be selling for a loss.


- What do you mean by "setting the price according to marketing success?"  That's not something that we can really gauge until we see it actually selling (or not selling).  The marketing seemed reasonably successful for Bionic prior to it coming out


Just putting a value on getting front-page articles on places like rock paper shotgun, Total biscuit, etc.


Day one DLC is pretty much out for us as we won't have time to create it. 

Nobody else does, either. Most studios are taking an existing feature and locking it as DLC. It's technically on the original release disk.

there should be an AI War and a Bionic expansion in there before summer, too.  Don't hold me to that


Your AI war fans are in dire need of attention and balancing. Mantis is piling up, and there is consensus that we need some help with balancing, resources, and endgame core world expectations.

Kahuna strategy guide:
http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,13369.0.html

Suggestions, bugs? Don't be lazy, give back:
http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/

Planetcracker. Believe it.

The stigma of hunger. http://wayw.re/Vi12BK

Offline x4000

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Re: A few questions.
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2014, 03:32:10 PM »
I gotcha.  In terms of doing a price guarantee, I doubt we'd ever do that, as that severely cuts into our ability to have flexibility with potential partners, like Humble Bundle.  Sometimes an opportunity arises and we need to be ready.  That said, we have a progression we always go through where we do not discount too heavily too fast.

As for things like RPS exposure and TB and so forth, we had RPS coverage on Bionic, and PA Report and a number of other big sites.  That's one of those things that just can't really be predicted in terms of what they do for sales.

I gotcha on day 1 DLC.  In this case I don't think there is anything we could/should cut without making the game subpar.  There were things that we had partially designed out but had to cut from implementation due to time constraints, though, that we are ready to start working on immediately if people are interested in it.  We actually get a bigger bang for our buck by having separate events for DLC anyway; each time we release something new, we get front page Steam exposure, which is where the real money is.  Media exposure is also great, but the immediate cash comes from that coveted front page on Steam.  It also gives us more chances to get in front of the media, though, which is useful too.

Yep, AI War will be getting some attention before too long, but it's kind of a balancing act.  We're doing the best we can; it's a challenge every week to balance things.
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Offline chemical_art

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Re: A few questions.
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2014, 03:42:09 PM »
I'm really looking forward to the AI war balancing. I've found around 5.0 was perfect, and its sliding in balance since then.
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Offline x4000

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Re: A few questions.
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2014, 03:42:59 PM »
That's interesting, I thought 6.0 and 7.0 were really more polished than 5.0, personally.  Huh.
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Offline chemical_art

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Re: A few questions.
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2014, 03:49:28 PM »
Maybe it was more polished across the board. Rright now my beef are late game. AI HW are too tough. I in the 7.x era tried a 7/7 game with no super weapons. I slept through it except those HW, which were very. Expodentially harder then the rest of game. Exo-waves too strong as well.

I still find champions imbalances, as well as the new AI plots
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Offline x4000

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Re: A few questions.
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2014, 03:53:23 PM »
Hmm, gotcha.
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