BLOG | STASIS and Kickstarter

STASIS and Kickstarter

This post has been a long time coming, but I figured it was finally time to throw it into the wild…

One of the questions I get asked most often (ok, second most-the first being ‘When is Stasis going to finished), is:

WHY ISN’T STASIS ON KICKSTARTER?

I think that Kickstarter is a wonderful platform, and I avidly follow quite a few of the projects that have gone up. Project Eternity, Wasteland 2, Torment, and Broken Age are my staples, along with a few smaller ones.

But even these projects seem to be running into issues-and these are projects with multitudes of experience behind them.

.

ISSUE 1

One of the big issues, and one that I think is one of the most important ones, its keeping the community updated on your progress. A big selling point in these projects, and any project on Kickstarter, is that you get to see the project emerging-see how the sausage is made. Now while thats a really cool idea for the gamer who loves these things, its a very difficult thing for the developer.

I personally feel that I announced STASIS way too early. The truth is that I never thought it would be a large project, so didnt see the harm in showing it off in its early states. If I look back at this blog, a TON of time has gone into the blog posts, talking about various aspects of the game, whats happening in the background, why I do what I do. Now this has been beinifial in some way, I think that I can be hurtful in others.

For a game that relies on STORY as one of its major selling points, to have 2 years of stuff talking about the game, without mentioning the story, is VERY difficult. But see-because I view this blog as my personal thing, Im not bound to talk about the game. There are quite a few posts here about…well..other things. Articles I like, other games, and other random ideas. These other projects have to have a media communication plan that’s SPECIFICALLY TAILORED TO THE PROJECT, WITHOUT GIVING AWAY TOO MUCH INFORMATION. And they have to update OFTEN, because this is part of what the backers pay for. This adds in an extra layer of complexity to an already complex situation, and one that I wouldnt want to find myself in.

If you go dark, and have a media blackout, your backers will (rightfully) complain. If you update too often, you are going to start to dilute the games content in the minds of the players. Now with the RPG’s mentioned, this is a little easier, because the idea with an RPG is to create enough tools and rules in the game to let the player craft the story-but in a much more linear game (like STASIS, or Broken Age), its almost impossible. Im surprised that Double Fine actually managed to go for almost a year before even announcing the name of the game, and a screenshot. And people were starting to notice it, and getting agitated with them for being so scant on aspects of the game. Which brings me to issue 2….

.

ISSUE 2

People are mean, and artists are sensitive! Ask ANY artist if they enjoy showing people unfinished work, and they will say NO. Unless they are sadists.

Reading the comments and discussions of things like the first WASTELAND 2 screen, or the Torment locations, or the PE level prototype makes me shiver. Complaints about there not being dust on the footsteps, too much blur in the back grounds, ladders not being properly scaled….these are things that can be a bit of a crushing experience for artists, specifically when they KNOW that its not something that’s complete.

Ive been quite lucky, in that the reactions to the screenshots and videos of STASIS has been pretty good-but that’s because everything I release, I release on MY schedule. I release them because they are complete. I’ve done my internal QA, external QA, double and triple checked everything, and when things aren’t correct, thrown them out and started over. There are actually about 3 game play videos that I haven’t released, because I just didn’t like 1 or 2 things with them. Thats the power of NO EXTERNAL PRESSURE.

.

ISSUE 3

Lets say STASIS goes on Kickstarter, and I raise $100 000,00. That means, that, before I even release the game, I’m $100 000.00 in debt. I have to give away $100 000.00 of product ON THE DAY I LAUNCH. Now, I know that people have the ‘but without the money you wouldn’t have a product’, and that’s a very fair, and true argument. But the problem with an Adventure Game, is that the market IS small.

The RPG projects have a much wider appeal, and I have NO doubt that they will double, triple, or even make 10 fold what they have put into it. But a smaller Adventure Game like STASIS? I have high hopes for the sales, and concrete plans for what the money I make from STASIS will go into-but I would hate to, at the end of a grueling few years of work, come out with giving away all of the product that I would have ever sold, and starting from square 1. I know thats its a worst case scenario-but the truth is that its a possibility-and on that I need to be very mindful of.

Thats why I don’t think that Stretch Goals are a very good idea. I understand WHY they are there, but I think that the feature bloat they cause, and spending money that you don’t have, isn’t the best way of getting out an ALREADY incredibly complex product.

Looking at Broken Age, the initial budget for that was $400 000,00, with the final funding coming in at almost 8 times that. It would have been better for them to stick with the original goal, and had enough money from that game alone to create another 8 games! Or 4 larger games. or 1 big game and a sequel! Instead, the entire budget, again of money they technically dont have, has been put into ONE SINGLE PRODUCT.

.

ISSUE 4.

I’m not employed. If I got a large influx of cash, I couldn’t really quite my job and work on STASIS full time, because I own the company. Its a company that my brother an I built from the ground up over a decade. I have many other lives that are dependent on me to be here every day. Because of the worries of ISSUE 3, I couldn’t go at this full time. Not yet at least.

.

ISSUE 5,

STASIS IS MY KICKSTARTER. I have a goal in mind for how many sales STASIS has to make for me to go into full time Game Development. Make no mistake, that is the end goal. I want STASIS to be the beginning of that journey. I want to create an awesome game, that people will love-and use that foundation to do the same again and again and again. I don’t want people to buy into the promise of future things-because those are fleeting at best, and gut wrenching when they fail.

-Chris

Share Button
  • Ich

    Thank you for not choosing the Kickstarter route.

  • Moeez

    I appreciate the honesty and reasons for not going down this route.

    I don’t care when it releases, as long as it’s ready.

  • Charlie

    1) I have been tracking your project for a while. Really nice. First saw it posted on the Zak McKracken remake forum.

    2) You should edit your YouTube channel to display a link here. (SEO yadda yadda.)

    3) Committing to release dates is meaningless in an indie project. However, could you estimate how far through the development you are so far? Not that it would mean too much but it would be great to know if you are 25% into implementing the game or 75% etc. It might help set expectations.

  • http://www.stasisgame.com Chris

    Above 50%, below 80%…..clear as mud eh? :D

  • Jason

    Bravo Chris on not joining Kickstarter…I’ve been following a few games too on there and I think it’s just too much for a single person to handle. It’s already difficult having to develop the product on your own without having a group of investors on your back or keeping a development blog up to date. And this is BEFORE you’ve even got a team to care for….if you ever get to that point.

    That said it is still possible to release a game as a single developer. I think this is what the new generation of Apple iPad developers has become. With the release of multi-platform ready-to-use engines like Unity, it has certainly made life easier for the single developer.

    In fact your impetus for the Stasis game has inspired me to possibly to make/design games on my own. I’m not a game designer at all (been playing them ever since the Sinclair Spectrum days) but I certainly would like to have that option to create my own games.

    I think you have a great game there (judging from the feel of the visuals) and am really looking forward to getting it…when it’s ready. :)

  • Jason Roy

    Its funny I don’t know a ton about kickstarter, but I had considered looking into it and potentially suggesting it for this so glad for the post. I do wonder about marketing and packaging and all that other good stuff but I’m so out of the loop as far as that end of things goes I figure maybe that’s not even an issue.

    I waited and waited and waited for Black Mesa to come out and when it did, I snatched it up even though I had long given up on the idea that it would come out at all. Take your time, get it right, release it when its ready and when you’re ready to cut the umbilical. This is going to be relevant whenever it comes out.

  • Ghostwriter

    Man I love you! You’re a truly inspiration for all young developers out there, me included, because you’re not in the empire business (as would Walter White said :)), you’re in the passionate development business. The only thing I really wish is if you could do some youtube tutorials on the Visionaire engine or show some of your workflow, advanced tips and stuff like that. I would really appreciate that, sir! But anyway, good luck with your projects and keep us informed!

  • Chris B

    Jason,

    Thanks so much man. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment here. Makes me happy to know that Im not just writing this stuff to myself!

    Ironically I think that Kickstarters for the single developers are FAR more likely to succede than the ones with larger teams. I think a big issue is that people underestimate just how much things cost.
    For me personally, a Kickstarter for STASIS would have to raise at LEAST $100 000.00 for around 18 months of work, and other game expences. Having 1 person work on something has massive advantages in terms of being organic with a games design…if somehting isnt working, I know it isnt early on, and can cut it beofre wasting someone elses time.
    Thats how I could stretch that money and make a truely awesome game. Having 2 people involved *should* halve the workload, or halve the time…but it doesnt. It just makes things more and more complex, and your costs, and time, go up exponentially.

    This can readily be seen with Broken Age. With a larger budget, they increased the team size, and exponensially the complexity of the project got bigger.

    Jason Roy,

    There are few projects that Ive been following over the years that kinda fell away into obscurity, only to revive themselves! Hopefully STASIS wont be one of those… ;)

    Ghostwriter,

    The empire will come! But I gotta get a solid foundation going first.. ;)
    Ill take a look at doing some more things looking at the background stuff. I have a video thats half done on Sound Design, and took a whole whack of time-lapse videos when I made a cinematic sequence…I just need to find the time to edit and upload those badboys!
    Keep tuned to here-I promise stuff will come. ;)

  • RB

    Having the hassle of dealing with thousands of people, specialy when you are alone can be insane. All the people that used kickstarter say the same thing, it is a stressful thing that require a immense amount of work. I don’t think you could manage that being a one man show.Now, I’m going to ask a serious question that nobody asked before just to annoy you: When the game is ready?

    PS: You are being too pessimistic, thinking that this game is going to sell so few copies, that 100.000 of revenue is going to be hard to get.Do you have any idea how awesome your artwork is?

  • ImpKeeper

    hi chris i respect your choice and i see what you mean but try to get greenlit on steam and get your game on stream, when you get closer to release.. it would really help boost your sales.. the only reason i even noticed this game is be-course a friend of mine send me the infinite picture you posted here

    if it had not been for that picture i would never have found your game or heard of it..

    so far it looks really interesting from the pictures alone i cant make out if its a RPG or an adventure game ? ether way it looks really interesting :).. and i’d defiantly buy it when it came out even from just what i’ve seen so far :)

    and yeah it may not look its best now if your planning to improve here and there. how am i to say i’m just a gamer and not an artiest.. but one thing i do know is never rush an artiest you cant rush art

    yeah i want my fingers on this game some day when it releases but i wish you the best along the way :)….

    –oh yeah important idea!!

    if you get on stream or just in general.. Try to get Achievements for your game or games if you plan to make more no matter if its single or Multiplayer…

    and of course if its is an Adventure-RPG game multiplayer helps draw more people in people love to play a story line together

    but aside from that, its all i have to give of ideas, i just know what myself and my friends usually like about games and bragging rights with achievements are great :).. and its annoys the hell out of me when i get a game without them :P

  • ImpKeeper

    ah i just found the video where you explain :). well can the idea about multiplayer :P. adventure games don’t have that XD

    But still remember achievements anyways it helps friends track your progress on the game if its a place like stream :)

    and when you get closer to release try to get your game on stream :)

  • Pingback: Kickstarter revisited… | STASIS

  • --> Click here to discuss this post on the Stasis Community Forum