Still Developing!

The tutorial cave is finished and some of the immediate follow-up content is also done. I’m still adding a few more bits of content, but mostly it’s polish at this point.

Since the last pre-alpha version, I’ve changed a lot of the engine: the database, the way items are handled, the way effects are generated, and on and on. So there’s a lot of under-the-hood improvements… and a lot of new bugs as a result, of course. But I’m starting to feel happier about the newbie experience, at least.

I’ve got three or four reusable puzzle components, and have been dumping some extra content into the post-cave newbie area to get the density up to the target level. (The other zones, “Castle” and “Dungeon”, are basically untouched… that’ll be a different update.)

So, yeah… still working at it. It’s taking too damned long, but the new newbie experience will have some cool stuff:

Puzzles!

Surprising Weather Phenomena!

Strangely-colored crystals... and monsters!

New Tragic Curses To Befall Unwary Heroes! (This is a skill icon for the Cow.)

And lots of other stuff, too.

Good News on the Money Front

I don’t think I mentioned it yet, but my colleagues Adam and Chris (fellow co-owners of FlashGameLicense.com) have agreed to help pay for the artwork on the game. It’s not a ton of money, but it’s a big push in the right direction, hopefully enough to get the basic customizations I need: playable races, a couple of custom monsters, and several scenery sets. Woohoo!

But suddenly I’m thinking about what I could do with even more money — a dozen custom monsters! Unique set pieces from the back story! That would be really amazing to see.

I would love to have actual Myconians to go with the paranoid elves’ conspiracy theories about them. I’d love to have the squid-like demons from my novelization. And actually having the crazy Council buildings in the game would be amazing… as opposed to just using whatever buildings I can find.

More custom art would be great… if I had more money.

Kickstarter for More Money?

On the one hand, my plan has always been to make this game on the cheap, and if it starts to attract users who pay, I can put that money back into the game. But on the other hand, it would be really nice to have competent art direction from the start, as opposed to going back after people are already playing and retrofitting the whole world to not look like crap. So the idea of a Kickstarter campaign starts to seem pretty interesting.

Unlike some of the other MMO kickstarters out there, I have an actual engine and the ability to do what I say I’m gonna do. Unfortunately, even if I’m successful, the typical Kickstarter “success story” for games is earning $10,000. Which is great, and I’d put that to good use… but it’s not $100,000. If it’s just $10k, maybe I should wait a while so that I have more concrete stuff. But if there’s a gold rush now, maybe I need to act fast…

So I’m still mulling all of this over. I really want to have this new playable version done soon so that I can polish it and let people try it. I suspect a Kickstarter campaign that included the line “and you can play a very early version RIGHT NOW” would be a neat thing to try… but honestly I’d need yet more content before I could do that. But with just the content in the newbie experience now, I should be able to get some decent gameplay movies, at least… so back to debugging I go!

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4 Responses to Still Developing!

  1. OtspIII says:

    If you feel cautious about asking for more than $10k on Kickstarter you can always do incremental kickstarts. Lay out the cool stuff about the system and tell people what you plan on spending the $10k on. Then, if you reach the $10k, keep detailing what you’ll spend the money on if you get another $5k or so. Maybe all you’ll get out of the deal is a few extra bucks for art direction, but that’s not so bad either.

  2. I’ve been following Kickstarter as a funding source for a while, even before the big Double Fine story. The big tip is that you need to be very organized. Just throwing up a campaign hoping for some scratch is dooming yourself to failure.

    I think OtspIII’s suggestion is sound. Come up with some thresholds, set your goal for the lowest threshold. For example, maybe $10k is an extra player model, $20k is Linux support, or whatever you think your goals should be. I’ve seen a few projects work like this, it keeps people interested and donating, and gives something to talk about besides generic “hey, did you donate to my project yet?”

    Anyway, good luck. :) Seems the recent successes have been because of big names. But, you probably could do more with less given your indie perspective.

  3. mavis says:

    my personal feeling on Kickstarter is go sooner rather then latter. There’s a bit of a kickstarter bubble occuring – as people throw money at stuff but before the inevitable* disapointment sets in.

    Most kick starters I’ve gone for have offered me a distinct rewards (in terms of games it’s more like preordering a game that simply does not exist yet) and I’m not sure what you as a Free to Play could offer?

    That said i’ve been following your blog enough that I’d take part…..

    *Some of 7 or 8 kick starters I’ve thrown a few dollars towards will disapointment me because thigns go wrong. That’s what I mean by inevitable. And once people have been disapointed they will be less inclinded to take part.

  4. Expert Novice says:

    Dude you have to set up a really professional approach. Just lay it out honestly
    + you’re trying to do something different – people have been waiting for something like your game for a long time now
    + you have a ton of experience
    + you’re extremely willing to work on a budget and even planned it as such but you want to improve the quality because you have faith in the project
    + on that note, you HAVE A GAME to have faith in
    + you’re capable of making every dime count

    People will eat it up but try to grab some nice screenshots. I’d even go over any GUI you’re planning on using for the screen to make sure it looks just top notch.

    And I totally agree with a scaled map like “for $$$ I can get this and this, but for $$$$ I can get /this/ and *that*!”

    And tell EVERYONE. I’d be telling the MMO bloggers to blog about it. You tell other bloggers -> other blog’s readers read those blogs -> they see a link and a recommendation -> they read your blog -> they give you money -> you make awesome game.