Thanks for your patience. Today, we'd like to go through the Battle Mage. But first, we should clear the air to put aside a few misunderstandings.
We noticed that several of you are worried that we may have or might be using funding that we received from the Project Phoenix Kickstarter to fund a separate project of mine. I am writing to assure you that this is absolutely not the case, and we would never consider doing that.
A group of private investors was interested in a prototype of a strategy game that I had begun development on several years ago with Daniel. I used my own money to fund the prototype, and they offered to fund the project the rest of the way through. To be clear, we never mixed funds between this project and Project Phoenix.
There is a potential that Project Phoenix can get more funding from these investors if I prove to them that my team and I can ship a successful game. This obviously places an immense amount of pressure on me and my staff to make and ship the absolute best game possible for them, and the best news is that this strategy game project is coming together nicely. The worst news is that progress on Project Phoenix has slowed temporarily as a result.
I hope from the bottom of my heart that the resulting impressions and sales results from this strategy game catapult our development plans for Project Phoenix so far forward that we not only hit every one of our original Kickstarter targets—we outright dazzle everyone as a part of a new generation of Japanese developers.
Because frankly, although we are determined to prove to ourselves that we have what it takes to see Project Phoenix through, we also eagerly want to prove to you that we are not viewing your expectations from a rear-view perspective. We are determined to ship a game that will deliver on nothing short of what we have promised to you.
Now, for the update:
The Battle Mage
The Battle Mage is a hybrid magic DPS, highly suited to applying heavy single target or AoE damage against armored targets. Contrary to the common mages from other fantasy based games, the Battle Mage from Project Phoenix is not a glass cannon. Clad in armor and trained in the ways of combat, he is already a fearsome opponent before applying any kind of magical damage or enhancements. Battle Mages are found in the thick of the fighting along with the Berserker and Paladin.
The Battle Mage's equipment consists of heavy plated armour.
The Battle Mage uses enchanted melee weapons. Capable of magically buffing his equipment, choose wisely as to how you'd want him equipped as utility of his class will depend on it.
There are two major skill trees for the Battle Mage and it splits between Single Target magic DPS and AoE magic DPS.
The leader skill allows each squad to be lead by a character and in turn, it is characterised by a passive buff affecting the whole unit. In the case for the Battle Mage, we are currently considering enchant damage or magic resistance for the whole squad.
Today, we're going to go through the Pathfinder class, and let Daniel talk a bit about our progress / production and a notification about an announcement we're going to make in May.
The Pathfinder is a ranged combat specialist, highly suited as a scout and applying heavy damage from range. With the ability to stay hidden in plain sight (stealth) and with a large vision range, the Pathfinder is capable of surveying the lay of land and possible threats for the main party. Even caught out in the open, the Pathfinder is more than capable of getting out of sticky situation by snaring enemies, laying traps and outrunning the enemy.
ArmourThe Pathfinder uses leather armour for manoeuvrability and stealth.
Weapon The Pathfinder can be trained to use ranged weapons and one handed close combat weapons.
The ranged weapons allows the Pathfinder to deal damage without the fear of being hit by a melee weapon and enables a quick getaway after attracting attention, perhaps for the main group to get past a tricky checkpoint.
In the off chance that the Pathfinder is caught in close combat, he/she isn't totally defenceless as they are more than capable of using one handed close combat weapons.
SkillThere are two major skill-tree for the Pathfinder and it splits between ranged damage and stealth / crowd control tree.
Leader skills The leader skill allows each squad to be lead by a character and in turn, it is characterised by a passive buff affecting the whole unit. In the case for the Pathfinder, we are currently considering a runspeed increase for the whole squad or increase stealth attributes.
Daniel here, I have been working now just over a year at Creative Intelligence Arts. I want to be the one who presents our situation. There is lots for us to complain about but I am not going to play the blame game here.
Instead let's talk about money.
As everyone knows the headline figure received between Paypal and Kickstarter was 1.14Million USD. As we have mentioned in the past this figure is misleading because it ignores how 0.26M of that disappeared even before we received it. That 0.26M is split between Kickstarter's fee, Paypal's fee, and something we had not expect: unfulfilled pledges.
So now that leaves 0.88M right? Well not yet, you see we did not plan to give out cheap backer rewards. We planned to give physical rewards backers the best quality figures, boxes, and all fantastic things Japan makes. Which meant our planned expenses for backer rewards are significant. We set aside a further 0.35M to deliver these rewards. This money cannot, has not, and will not be touched for development.
Now it is important to note that being generous like this with backer rewards was common practice during our era of Kickstarter. It was common thinking that generous rewards were what motivated backers. While many other projects have said the same thing as if they failed to calculate the costs that is not what happened to us. We fully calculated the costs of commissioning high quality figurines and high quality prints. We set this money aside because we knew it was a major cost. In practical terms what this means for backers at high dollar values is a majority of their backing funds are locked up for delivery of the rewards.
So our development budget is a still pretty impressive 0.55M USD. That is about enough to hire 5 full time AAA developers for almost 12 months.
Ok I will drop the sarcasm, we all know 0.55M USD is not a significant budget for developing a game like Project Phoenix. Instead we had a plan, and it was realistic plan, but it relied on a few things.
All the AAA developers we worked with were going to be contracted, many contracted at reduced rates with royalty share. The 3d assets were going to be done by the same company which later did work for Blizzard's Overwatch. They are great modelers, and we are thankful they worked on Project Phoenix. Plus they did so at a work rate which can only be described as insulting. The programming was going to be done by a genius, once he finished up work on this other major indie game.
I mention those two aspects because those are where we think production was the most troubled.
Now you might wonder what the budget would have looked like with the original smaller Project Phoenix envisioned for the 0.1M USD minimum goal. The truth is such a budget would have been easier to pull off, almost all developers were committed to working on royalty basis. The workloads for the 2.5d & reduced scope project would have required only partial dedication of developer's after hours time.
Yet when the funding exploded we did the same thing every other project of the era did, we exploded the scope. Gone was 2.5d and instead the plan was multiple high grade 3d worlds each with unique environmental assets. Now there was an overworld and cutscenes. The game got longer, the story more detailed, gameplay more complex, and the world larger.
What also got larger was the commitment required from developers. Thus the portion of labor the budget needed to cover expanded. Gone was the idea of developing after work, now Project Phoenix needed people to work full time in their office. More art and for every piece of art the project needed to pay more in cash.
This was not a failure, we had an expanded budget from the kickstarter and Hiro's professional work. Accounting only for contracting outlays we have invested the 0.55M USD development budget plus 0.48M USD we earned from his professional work. To re-iterate, the 0.26M and 0.35M USD we mentioned earlier were not used for development.
This 1.03M USD counts only out of company outlays, it does not include our own salaries or any rent.
**Of every $1 of development money from your backing, $2+ was spent on development.** We have not taken publisher money, or sold interest in project phoenix to investors. Hiroaki Yura himself is Project Phoenix's biggest backer to the tune of almost 500K USD.
We are not complaining. Every game developer wants to do their best. Every developer dreams of a bigger budget and larger game. We expanded Project Phoenix because we were hyped along with our backers.
We are still hyped. We are still committed to Project Phoenix, but as you can guess the original production plan did not work.
We know that production plan did not work because when we released the vertical cut players were not impressed with the art. Now of course not all of the 1.03M USD was invested on 3d models, we commissioned concept art for a full world. Yet if the 3d assets were not acceptable to our backers this left us in a hard spot. Building higher detail assets requires not only spending more money and time per asset but also throwing out the existing assets.
Of course the loss of our original programmer means we must now finance all programming out of a budget which was never designed to accommodate this. Hence, even less professional revenue going towards financing art.
Which put us into our current position. We expect to make our backers happy will require higher quality assets and more programmers. To this end we stopped investing the returns from our music business into art assets and instead drove them into a different smaller production, with further assistance from private investors.
Should this tiny product succeed those private investors have promised to invest significant capital into Project Phoenix. In this way we have been able to expand our in-house development staff and work towards a bright future for Project Phoenix.
Instead of financing salaries and running costs out of Project Phoenix we have been building a team out of the budget of this tiny project.Work has continued on Project Phoenix, but only things for which budget existed. If you have been wondering why the past few months have had lots of story updates, that is the reason why. We are very excited for this tiny project which will be announced in May. It is fun to play and we are proud of that.
Should it hit the success we are hoping for it will set our team in a position to deliver Project Phoenix anything we had hoped for. This is not a plea to support that project, please consider it but understand it is not Project Phoenix.
In closing, the problems facing Project Phoenix have been the same problems facing other large kickstarters of the era. We have seen other projects release at quality below fan's expectations and we are putting our all into avoiding such a fate.
I hope you've all been well. From today's updates, we'd like to start talking to you about classes that you'll see in Project Phoenix. Although the concept for these classes will not change, details like names and skills may change.
Without further ado, let's dive in!
The Berserker is a close combat specialist, with moderately high defence and devastating melee offensive capabilities. With ample health and resistance to damage, he is capable of dealing massive amounts of damage to single or multiple targets and be able to fill the role of a light off-tank enemies to protect less defensible classes such as the priests and ninjas. However, the Berserker is ill equipped to be the main tank as it lacks a shield
Armour The Berserker's equipment consists of heavy plated armour and melee weapons.
Weapon The Berserker can be trained to use two handed weapons or dual wield one handed weapons.
Two handed weapons are used for critical hit heavy attacks useful against single target damage. Dial wielded one handed weapons are useful against weaker multiple targets.
We are considering to allow the Berserker to use shields to mitigate damage, but not as effective as other tank classes. For the Berserker, there are current talks about using it as offensive capability like bashing enemies will shields to stun enemies or using the shield like sledge hammers.
Skill There are two major skill-tree for the Berserker and it splits between single target damage and multiple target damage tree.
Leader skills The leader skill allows each squad to be lead by a character and in turn, it is characterised by a passive buff affecting the whole unit. In the case for the Berserker, as the name suggests, this unit will likely increase the damage output of the squad in exchange for increased damage suffered. This can still work favourably for the squad with combination to crowd controlling effect and a tonne of characters with area of effect damage. However, working against bosses will see a quick demise to your squad.
If you have any suggestions please let us know your thoughts and ideas that you may have. With the system we have, it is very easy to implement the mechanical changes to a class but it is most important to get the basic functionality correct to make it work in an ecosystem working hand in hand with other classes, NPCs and especially bosses.
Yoko has been working hard on each town's character scripts. Now, in the previous updates, we've mentioned that Daniel suggested that we have different characters be placed in different places at different times doing different things. Not only that, they will have something different to say depending on the time of the day and what they are doing. Although it's in Japanese, here is a spreadsheet of how we're working to make that work.
We've received a lot of criticism, although we've been hard at work, backers have pointed out that instead of taking time to draw for the backers in seasonal greetings and such, we aren't doing "real" work. However, it is our wish to express our gratitude in these updates and also spice things up instead of a wall of text, so here is a lighter version of the annual Valentine's Day greeting illustration. It didn't take Asami too long to draw, and I hope you all find this acceptable. These days, her time is taken up by drawing characters for high tier backers which we aren't prepared to show yet.
Not only this, we thought it'd be fitting to also bring you music by Tomoki Miyoshi based on one of the romantic moments from Project Phoenix.
I hope these updates will slowly convince some backers that we are very serious about the game and that we do not want to stray away from our hopes and dreams for what is Project Phoenix. I would do anything to make sure this game is delivered in the best for possible. Sure, there are many things we are embarrassed to show yet, and there are many things I am doing behind the scenes to make this work, some of which will never be told. Yet we are all committed to bringing you what we believe is our best effort and at least we pray you would be able to appreciate our efforts.
Again, my sincerest apologies for the delay and our poor communications.
Hiroaki Yura Director / Producer of Project Phoenix
I hope this update finds you well. We have now approached the end of the year. Thank you for being patient with us with the changes we've had with our team here at Project Phoenix.
2016 has been a year of groundwork in preparation after the major changes in development style we had previously. With Daniel Dressler joining our team and continuing on with Pascal's work, and with the support we've been receiving not just from our development staff but also other companies, we've made huge progress in which we've made where we want to head much clearer. Also Rie Tanaka joining our management team has made communication with each creator much smoother.
We read your feedback and replies to our work, we've received many valuable ideas and advice and are very appreciative of the backers. Thank you!
Those that celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas! Those that don't we hope you have a safe and happy holiday season!
Hiroaki Yura Director / Producer of Project Phoenix