Wednesday, September 16, 2015

NOWHERE Development Log, Financials and The Future™


Screenshot of recent prototype work for Nowhere. Article on that coming soon.
Three months ago I started a development log for NOWHERE and its associated tooling in a github gist. It wasn't really supposed to be read by anyone but other developers, and was more meant as a self motivation exercise, but the convenience of updating gists resulted in this blog not getting updates for five months while the devlog saw a new entry nearly every week.

If you are interested in the shall we say microscopic aspects of development, check it out.

I should also mention that we launched a separate project for the programming language developed alongside our game Nowhere, aptly titled None. The release got some attention on Hacker News and Reddit. None will allow us and mods to visually design and compile procedural generators for art and sound to machine language and shaders on player's machines, while the game is running. Liminal is the complementary project, a game engine built on None. While Liminal is not ready for use, None has matured enough for experimentation. If you would like to support the development of these two pieces of technology, please consider becoming a Patreon. Patreon money directly pays for our rent, food and coffee.

In the entry for today, I also made some remarks about our current financial situation and the future of the project.

Now on to financial matters. It appears we are running out of money again. The long waiting time for new content has eroded the number of new founders, and one of our long time patreons had to reduce his monthly support because he's also in a financial pickle right now. We also used to borrow a small complementary amount of money from my mum each month and are about to reach the cap next month, so we will also run out of that funding pot by end of October. Sylvia is still waiting on payment from one of her commissions (this was before Sylvia began to require advances), but it is very likely they screwed us and we're not going to see a cent. There are currently no new commisions in sight for her, but of course that can change any day.

That means we have to think about how to get fresh funds before September runs out. I've considered starting a Patreon for None/game engine development exclusively, so we are at least getting support for that part of the work (which is not what Nowhere players are necessarily interested in, although they damn well should ;-)), but Patreon only allows one page per account, and managing that one account is already hard work for Sylvia, so we'll have to merge the tool development part with the page and make it about more things than one. We'll have to think about how to best present this.

We also need something new to show so we can justify doing a new video and invite everyone to check out the new alpha. Sylvia has done lots of new concept art that could go into a new video, we can finally exchange that old dreadful logo, and replace "Psychedelic RPG" with a much more fitting "Alien Life Simulator". The fundraising video is nearly 2 years old. Back then we gave away the end game without mentioning many of the intermediate steps, and I believe people would be more inclined to trust us if there were a more detailed plan of action, and we would be more clearly on our game being developed as a service, not as a one trick pony.

It also becomes clear that we will not be able to deliver on our full promise by the end of 2015, but I want to do a release anyway with what we get to work by that date. We don't want anyone to feel disappointed or exploited. The plan is to ship what's there, then continue on a "sequel" (which is really just a new major version) and keep our founders on board until they get what they paid for.

I can not believe how fresh our concept for Nowhere still is. The pitch has been out for several years and no one has stolen it from us, and I guess that's because it really is that ambitious and forward thinking. We have ideas for art, sound and gameplay design as well as programming, modding and player service which are quite different from how most game development is done today, and I would love to see all our goals realized in exactly the way we envision them.

I don't mind if it takes ten years to get there, but we need to compromise on the progress on the way and reintroduce regular releases of alphas, betas and "masters" to keep the company operational without incurring additional debt.

I wanted to hold off new alphas until we had a game model we could definitely stick to, but I see now that I have to get over my perfectionism and, as the mantra goes, release early, release often.
Oh man, look at this logo. So good.

9 comments:

  1. A new video would be great, but I think Nowhere needs attention by the media. I accidently stumbled upon this game a while ago and instantly supported it, but I have been playing the same Alpha for months. With a updated content and some coverage ANYWHERE on the internet, I think the funds would rise immensely. If you search Nowhere on Google, something about this game should surface, but it doesn't. So I agree with all of your aforementioned thoughts. Just keep on truckin' and Nowhere will be a success.

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  2. Agreed wholeheartedly with the above poster. I am sorry that I have been paying close attention to this game but I hardly spread the word, the irony is that the more people ALREADY support your game the more likely it is for others to do the same. Though without major gameplay changes as the game is still being built foundation up, it makes speaking about it to uninterested individuals difficult.

    Not trying to suggest a PR person to add to the financial stress, but look into all of the small but interlinking ways of getting the word out there. IMGR for epic screencaps, more updates to game development and issues that have been surmounted or worked around posted via twitter, hell 4chan questionnaires. Anything to get people, random yet nerdy enough to connect with you on a peronal level and connect to their friends. You seem like amazingly clever, intelligent and dedicated people, based both off of your introduction video, and these structured and thought out posts. To the internet you are downright charismatic. Show people that. Own it unspitefully, and they will love and respect you. Patronage then comes easy.

    I wish you both (all) the best of luck to this game project and the incredible sounding None language. It brings me great joy to know you are still dilligently pushing forward the boundries in both gameplay and how a wonderful thing is made. I wait with stilled excitement to see what happens next.

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  3. I've been looking at your studio and Nowhere for a while. I love the concept and wish you the best.

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  4. I've been looking at your studio and Nowhere for a while. I love the concept and wish you the best.

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  5. Somehow my brain read the logo as Now Here. O_0

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  6. I've had an interest in Nowhere for some time now, but after getting burned by various forms of early access and Kickstarter in the past, I decided to skip until I saw it grow some more. The lack of attention and discernible progress makes it look like Nowhere is wobbling dangerously at an event horizon, like at any moment it can get dragged into the inescapable pull of development hell and never see it's release.

    I wish you both the best and hope that your project really does finally blossom. People believe in you, and there are observers like me who want to believe too.

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  7. I also funded you a year ago and only have this early pre beta test thing. I am really disappointed about you, because you do not release new versions regularly. I am a software developer myself and learned one thing concerning financial success: you have to it released! It's less important how finished it is, but your clients have to see something and be able to use it at least to a certain level.

    Good luck and happy Christmas days!

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