Archive for category: Financial

Looking to the future

08 Mar
March 8, 2013

As the inXile guys have been explaining in their immensely successful kickstarter project*, you generally don’t want to wait until after the current project wraps up to start thinking about and planning the next one.

Even for a single developer like myself. I’ll be grinding hard all the way to the finish line and beyond, taking feedback, fixing bugs, tweaking and polishing. But the creative work is pretty much done on System Crash right now.

I’ve certainly got some ideas for expansion content, but I’m choosing to be optimistic and start thinking about what I will do if I achieve my goal of making enough money to carry on and develop a second game, while supporting System Crash and creating expansions for it as a secondary project.

I’ve always said that I wanted to use this project as a stepping stone to return to my one true love, developing roleplaying games. I’m still pretty wary of them, they’re big projects with lots of complexity and content, easy for timelines to slip. System Crash was supposed to take 6-12 months, and here we are on month 17.

Though I do think a big part of that is the mistakes, false starts and oversights you naturally make on your first real commercial project. I kick myself for them, wish I hadn’t made them, but some things you just have to learn through doing. I believe I’d be able to do it within 12 months, if I were to do it all over again. I’m especially aware now of which aspects really need to be nailed down first, when to start commissioning assets, what to look for in good contractors, what are signs of contractors who are going to jerk you around etc. All valuable lessons, all the kinds of things you can only learn through real experience.

Anyway, I’ve been developing this idea for a small, tightly focused RPG, and it’s really starting to come together in my mind. A project where I can limit the amount of content I need to something sane, while still being able to build a fun core loop and add in the engaging narrative and characters I want my games to become known for. As a side thing, I’ve been brainstorming story seeds for games/novels I’d like to write for the last few months and a couple of those seeds really fit this new idea nicely. I’m started to get quite excited about it.

I’m not going to say anymore than that until I’ve developed the concept a bit further and SC is out the door, but I just wanted to share with you guys that plans are being drawn up, that I think you guys are really going to enjoy them and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you. For all the folks that followed me since the Scars days and want to see me get back to making RPGs, keep the faith, ddues. I’ve been working toward this for more than a decade and I am far from done, whatever happens.

To the future!

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*And I am really quite excited for this new Torment game. The project and story concept looks awesome, I’m already a big fan of Monte and the Numenera setting, and I personally prefer that setting to the real-world post-apocalyptic W2. Just my personal taste; I think what they’ve shown of W2 is looking pretty great but Mad Max type settings have never given me that special tingle in my naughty parts, not even things like Fallout.

The Formula is Wearing Thin

04 Oct
October 4, 2012

Another week, another Kickstarter project announced. This time, Brenda Brathwaite and Tom Hall are up to bat, with “An Old School RPG“.

Sorry, a what?

Oh right, an “Old School RPG”.

…no, I still don’t think I have it. What is it, exactly? “Old School RPG” is a category, not a specific description of a well-thought-out vision, guys.

There’s a formula that you can see emerging here, with Kickstarter projects from “name” devs. And unfortunately, it seems to have less and less substance with each new iteration. Stop me if you know this one :

1) Name Drop (Developer or Past Projects)
2) Invoke Nostalgia
3) Gimmick(s) to Amuse or Delight Audience
4) Vague Promise of Awesome
5) Appeal for Money, Pimp the Pledge Reward Tiers.

It’s wearing a little thin on me, if I’m perfectly honest.

The problem I have, if you look again at the list, is the lack of actual discussion of the details of the project itself. With Project Eternity I was pretty dubious, the video was almost 100% fluff, the only detail was “soul magic!”. Obsidian has since released enough information that I’m starting to come around, now, but my initial expression was this. I appear to have been in a minority there, though.

With this new project, the so-called “Old School RPG”, I just find it completely devoid of meaningful information. Even the name itself shouts “we only have a vague notion of the direction we want to go in”.

Now I know that, for some folk, the reputation of the developers involved is a valid substitute for the more in-depth project details that a lesser-known developer might need. I understand that point of view, but for me it’s not enough. It’s the difference between this :

1) George R.R. Martin announces that he wants to write a new book. And he wants people to give him money for it. Give George your money, you know how great George’s books are, right? Details? Oh, it’s a fantasy novel.

2) George R.R. Martin announces his new book, “Vampire Nights”, the first part of the “Fang Cycle”, a trilogy exploring the backbiting politics between Vampire houses in a Gothic Steampunk setting, exploring what it means to be ‘human’ in the context of being a dead guy wearing a cape and tuxedo. He’s planning on a 3-book story arc, which he has roughly planned out. And here is a sample chapter so you can get a feel for the story, though everyone should realize that it is the first draft and subject to radical change.

I’m sorry, but I expect #2. Even from a “big name”. I want to be excited for your project, not at the prospect of you starting a project.

Maybe it’s just a different opinion on how Kickstarter should work. I treat it as a platform where people with promising projects can put those projects in front of an audience and try drum up the financial support they need to see those projects to the finish line. It’s not, for me at least, a platform for people looking for funding in order to get started. Maybe that’s just me though.

I guess I expect the developers to have already invested, to a decent degree, before I’m willing to gamble on them. Name or no name. Show me your prototype, your design, a sample chapter or song track. Don’t just remind me of your reputation for past successes, please.