Sunday, July 20, 2014

NOWHERE Progress Report: It's Going Great & Terrible At The Same Time


This post is partly an explanation of what's currently going on, partly an attempt to summarize the situation for ourselves.

First, the bad news.

With the final release of NOWHERE scheduled for the end of 2015, we're currently about 30% into development, and tech wise, it's going great. As you know our goal is to be 99% asset free, that is: all assets are generated on the players computer, for the players world, and the player will also have a chance to guide this process in the game. I've finished prototyping and embedding the meshing & landscaping tech, wrote a new procedural audio engine, and got the procedural model generator to productive speeds, on which I'll write more at a later date.

We solved some tough design issues concerning Nowherian world structure, body physique and society building, although it still all exists only in thoughts and paper, and none of that is implemented yet; Among improving our procedural authoring tools, I'm currently in the process of laying the foundation for world persistence, which is a demanding challenge. You can track my progress online at our open source repositories. I can't wait to finally work more on the actual content.

I'm sorry, I messed up, that were the good news! So, now the bad news:

We have not only been greenlit on Steam (so could theoretically release NOWHERE as Early Access game any day), but have also been accepted to talk about NOWHERE at the GDC Europe Innovative Games Showcase in August (out of what I imagine to be hundreds of applicants).

Wait, that's actually good news again. Here's the bad news. For real now.

In light of the rising complaints about Early Access games being released too early, we wanted the next alpha release to make a good impression, and so we overran our deadlines numerous times to get to a point where the game would be presentable enough for an Early Access crowd. (And we do need that crowd. The founding campaign on our own website isn't nearly attracting as many supporters as we need to cover funding for the complete development time.)

The result is that we're broke, phenomenally so. The Humble Store revenues for this month wouldn't cover our expenses sufficiently; Sylvia's dad borrowed us €1k to cover for this month but the situation is repeating. This month we're only getting $250 in revenues, but we need about $2k to cover rent, utility, food, etc.

The original planning was that a Steam release this month would give us sufficient revenues in writing (Both Humble and Steam pay out revenue with one month delay, e.g. this month we've made about $360, which are only due for payout for the end of August), so we could borrow a little more knowing that we'd be able to pay it back soon enough, and that the risk would be minimal. Alas, I can't seem to find an end for this alpha just yet, at least not one that would attract enough new interest. We gambled too hard.

I admit, we're really bad at advertising for ourselves. Talk is cheap and people want to see results, which is why I dug deep into what I love to do (writing sweet sweet game tech), and avoided doing anything that would not further development directly, such as video promotion, more interviews, and so on. This was probably not a good strategy. Now we need to find a way to fix this.

I would like to repeat that we are not ever going to give up. We're agile enough to deal with setbacks, and we own 100% of our project. This game is going to get made, whatever it takes. This is the work of a lifetime, and there is no other project we'd rather work on.

If you would like to help us out financially, and you feel you can afford to spare a small contribution on a monthly basis, please have a look at our Patreon page. Patreon contributions reach us sooner than any other revenue source.

Our fundraiser is of course also still running.

We would also again thank all our founders and supporters for your trust and contributions, you're making this project possible, and you deserve to see an excellent outcome.

Update: my amazing mom read our blog article and, since my birthday is coming up,  spontaneously decided to send us a little "birthday present" (and offered emergency loans in case this happens again), so August is saved. You all have moved heaven and earth in the past days to get us back on track too, and it worked! September appears almost covered now as well. You all are incredible and we are lucky to have such strong support! I'm back on working on the next release, and we'll be able to do one or two more alphas for founders before the Steam Early Access release. We're aiming for early August. Let's hope the trip goes a bit smoother from here on.



6 comments:

  1. You're right about NOWHERE being the work of a lifetime - it's an absolutely phenomenal concept in every single one of its facets. Sorry to hear about your financial situation and all that. Whenever the newer alpha is released, as finished and promising-looking as you aim to make it, I'll promote the game as well as I can. I'll also see if I can start monthly contributions starting next month, as I'm actually low on money myself right now. But this is a project and you are a team that I have a lot of faith in and excitement for :) again, I hope things work out for the both of you in the short term. (And long term as well, of course.) Cheers!

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  2. You're in quite a difficult situation, however I do think that postponing Steam early access is the right thing to do!

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  3. I am a NOWHERE evangelist among my friends and I wish I could give you guys more money, but I can't right now...

    Hard work through any hardship is how you find success. I don't like reading about your financial difficulties but reading this is an inspiration to me.

    Thanks for being so open in every way about your project. I hope that knowing that you have fans who believe in you gives you some solace.
    Cheers!

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  4. Hey duangle!

    I wish i could have given you guys more money because this has the potential to become something the world hasn't seen before! If it's not going to be a game it will be science. The discovery of completely new world.

    The sad news are that advertising takes usually up around 70% of the resources for game development nowadays. The world is hungry for news. If something isn't changing or updating often it's labeled dead and to be honest, i was already concerned myself. I hope your entusiams hasn't broken down yet and that you won't have to stop to work on this project.

    I wish i had the solution for you. But it's a sensitive system. On one hand you should try to give away previews too open because people will be scared by buggy early states of software but on the other hand you want to show them that you are still progressing that you are still working on this. To keep them interessted.

    I think starbound has solved that pretty well with presenting a blog right on their starting page, but this does only work because they are posting several times a week. I doesn't has to be much just a few lines of what you have been doing over the week. That at least is something i have seen working, but with a studio with a total of two man power it already might be too much to ask for.

    *sighs* I feel i'm getting nowhere with this post...

    I hope you people won't. Keep up this more then amazing work.
    I'm just in love with it.

    Best of wishes from the Void,
    Archina

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  5. I'm sad to see this post, but at the back of my mind I could see it coming.

    The blog is infrequently updated, and with little in the way of concrete 'game' to showcase it;s difficult to persuade people to pre-order. Especially given the big promises you make in your pitch.

    The sad fact is that with the atmosphere of early access games turning slightly sour- (see Towns, Yogventures, and the various steam greenlight flops that fail to deliver) you really need to fight harder to grab people's attention and engage in the community.

    I desperately, desperately want to know more about the game, but all I can find is in the pitch video- questions I've left as comments on your blogs are going unanswered- and that's kind of discouraging.

    maybe a Q and A or an AMA would be an idea?

    Best of luck

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  6. Dat patreon is a good idea.
    BTW i've readed this some time ago, prolly you know it already, but is the few things i could do.
    http://www.raphkoster.com/2012/01/04/making-games-more-cheaply/

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