This may have been updated on the forum
Hello ladies and gents! As you know, our last update included our potential plans for a partial release in the near future. After charting our course through the next few months, I've come to a decision which I'll share with you during this update.
As you're all aware, I've been reluctant to hand off a set release date for the project. As an indie developer, I believed that release dates were the best way to sabotage a game. Too often we've seen amazing looking games in concept and theory only to be disappointed by a lackluster experience that looks and feels absolutely nothing like what was presented (Alien Isolation, Dragon Age 2 (damn you EA for that 1.5yr deadline!)). At the same time, there are obvious advantages to a deadline. Blizzard and Valve have both proven that time and patience (usually) equals amazing gaming experiences. Yet at the same time, release dates are important for all businesses. It stems off feature creep, provides (stressful) motivation to do things on time, and ensures something is actually released.
For an indie developer, time is of the essence despite our best intentions to make the best game we possibly can. We don't exactly have deep pockets. Because of our (relatively speaking) wildly successful KS campaign, I believed the budget would allow me to take a little more time to nurture the project. Of course as a new developer, I've already told you of the many situations I hadn't foreseen. In the last update I talked about how different it is to develop an RPG versus a platformer, shooter or sandbox game. Now I'd like to talk a little bit more about unforeseen time sinks.
I believe I've already mentioned to some of our backers about the overhead that I calculated added about 4-5 months of time to development. Constant contact with our backers, even if very enjoyable is a huge timesink. Keeping all of the data together for backer rewards, implementing rewards, ensuring everything is in order, and making sure everyone is satisfied is time consuming. Of course it's not true about all the rewards. If I had to do it again, I would definitely have charged more for sidequests.
Another thing I'd like to mention is the duration of the project so far. The Kickstarter campaign ended November of 2013, which was 18 months ago. It wasn't meant to stretch nearly a year past it's internal release date of September 2014. Although we have very loyal asset providers, not all of them have been able to stay on the project for this whole period. Many have come and gone, and I find myself realizing that correspondence between myself and my asset providers have taken up so much time meant for development.
In the indie development world, finding, engaging and keeping asset providers (contractors, teammates or partners) is a full time job. Turnover rate is worse than Walmart so having to find another artist, musician or programmer that can match the style, theme or experience respectively happens often, and even more so over the course of two years. Most if not all contractors are allowed to work on multiple projects at once to sustain themselves, and often they'll find a reason to leave over the course of a year. Up to now, I've worked with (approximately) 14 pixel artists, 5 programmers, 4 bust artists, 7 concept artists, and 1 musician (awesome Darren). I don't want to throw my teammates under the bus though. Darren, Steph, Drew have been with me since they joined the project.
All too often you hear about projects fizzling out of existence because the team has fallen apart. Whatever glue was used (money, passion, promises) to keep them together simply wasn't strong enough and the lead developer had to abandon it. For me, this is simply unacceptable.
For the sake of transparency, I'll share with my backers where their money has been spent, rounding up to the nearest 100th:
Kickstarter & Amazon Cut: $9,600
Uncle Sam's grubby hands: $23,000 (RIGHT? WTF!)
Operational Costs: $15,800 (hardware, travel expenses, online presence, tax help, backer rewards)
Development, Writing, PR: $15,000
Art, Music, Code: $18,600
Current Total: $82,000 +- $1,000
I've made sure to keep an amount of money available for the hard copies of the game to be shipped once complete, and I have contingency for emergencies. This leads us to my decision:
Steam Early Access
In our last update we expressed heavy interest in submitting our game to Steam's Early Access program. Many of you pointed out you would prefer to wait until the game is complete. Many hated it because the Early Access program is full of unfinished half-assed games. Some of you avoid Steam, so you cannot play the game. Many of you also loved the idea. It's a hard pill to swallow, and a harder one to admit, but we do need an influx of cash to keep going no matter how small. For those of you who do not use Steam, I'll be providing a DRM-free version of the game on your Humble Bundle accounts within the next few months. For those who believe this is a step towards oblivion, I want to reassure you. I don't have a reputation to uphold, but I do have a reputation to begin, and there is no way I'm going to be known as just another indie developer that sat on his laurels and cashed in on an incomplete game. I love this project too much, and my passion and determination, although tested, has never waned throughout development. I've said before that I've wanted to make this game since I was a child, and god dammit I'm going to finish it!
That being said, we're planning to release You Are Not The Hero to Steam's Early Access campaign this Monday, June 1st!
It will be sold at it's expected full price of $15.00 USD, although we may have a small sale at the beginning to boost awareness. I have yet to generate and send Steam keys to Humble Bundle, so it may take me a day or two, up to a week to get you your keys, depending on how complicated or convoluted the process is. I hope you'll show your support and help me spread the word!
As many of our Linux and Mac backers have suggested, we'll be doing a proper port of YANTH once it's complete. We'll also do our best to include a wrapper for you to use once the game has been out, though it will not be a permanent solution.
New Start Menu, Dialogue Options
I've revamped the start menu from the fancy but cliche one from before, to a more dynamic menu that may include an easter egg or two if I have some extra time before Monday. With full mouse support, the new menu also includes a credits roll that can fast forward, slow down, pause, skip up and down. This is because you, yes YOU, will be on there! Granted not on Monday, again unless I have some extra time (a lot of time. There's 3,000 of you!).
There will also be a dialogue option. Currently, we've planned for two sets of dialogue, a more serious, traditional version for the hardcore JRPG player who yearns for some emo, and a light-hearted track that includes the same quirkyness and 4th-wall breaking humor rampant in the original demo. In general, it's still the same storyline and much of the dialogue is unchanged between the two versions. The difference will be for certain scenes which are different, added or omitted depending on the version chosen. At the moment there is no way to switch between either track during gameplay, but that may change... but it may not. Depends.
The following are some screenshots I haven't shared with you yet. These are still a work in progress. Lighting in particular hasn't been added.
Elven Forest Village Ein Toer
Streaming Game Development
Some of you have noticed that I've been streaming live development of You Are Not The Hero through my personal channel on Twitch.tv. I've been testing out the service and I've found that I tend to get more done while under heavy scrutiny, compared to normal. This is assuming I don't get bugged and sidetracked too much by my viewers. If you've got nothing better to do, feel free to drop by! I don't have a set schedule, but I'm usually on any time of the day anytime from 8am to 8pm PST.
"An adventure RPG, driven by the story of a little girl whose family has gone missing at a ship breaking yard. Based on real events, Unraveled takes you through a child’s imagination as she seeks out her parents. Relive your childhood fantasies on a journey that will make you think, laugh and tear up (just a little bit).
Unraveled takes you back in time with slick gameplay and a charming retro look reminiscent of the PSX days. Combat is infrequent, smooth and strategic — each battle feels unique and interesting."
Our friend Chancler has re-launched his campaign to get Unraveled funded. This time it looks like it's an easy road, with 3 days to go please don't miss out! His soundtrack will include tracks made by Secret of Mana's Hiroki Kikuta.