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.