Good afteroon, Brokers!
Our prototype launch date is closing in on us! Development has hit some hard times since we launched...
First, as is common with many Kickstarter projects, excess success actually makes things more difficult. Since most of that is going towards additional content later int he development cycle, that means our "completion" date for the FULL 1.0 is going to get pushed back quite a bit, but that's okay! The idea is I want to keep building Net Gain as long as we have to funds to do so and the game has room to expand. However, I did have to deal with some extra tax and accounting stuff, and I'm looking at the possibility of renting an office which will be a huge boon in recruiting interns for additional help or side projects, and establishing LZG as more than a bedroom developer.
It'll also provide a more professional common workspace if I can ever find a fellow Chicago programmer with the perfect combination of work ethic, skill, faith in the project, and willingness to work for the low rate I can afford in the hopes of the project doing well enough to compensate in profit shares. I've tried to launch Net Gain a few times before when I had no money at all, which just led to flaking and huge setbacks. I've planned this expecting to be the only one building the program, but if I can find someone who can put in the same work-per-dollar as I can then we'll be able to develop Net Gain twice as fast, and I can focus more on the areas I'm better at.
Second, a problem I'm slowly learning to manage: I have the full idea for everything Net Gain will be in my mind, but when I'm coding I need to focus on the discrete steps for each new build, which means I frequently hit conflicts between what the full final game needs to do, and what the next build needs to do, which can often be contradictory.
For example, missions in the first playable (the one I had before launching this) were extremely limited and plot-driven: you picked what kind of mission you wanted, and it drew out a line of plots to do that goal. The missions in the final game are far more fluid and dynamic, with circumstance and operatives and events changing almost any element of the mission as you go. the prototype was originally going to use the initial playable structure, but after hitting too many walls I decided to take the next step in making missions more dynamic and objective-driven. That was a pretty big refactor I wasn't planning on doing yet, and ate up a LOT of development time.
It's quite a bit more difficult to handle these "steps" while I'm still building the huge core components of the game that can be incredibly complex, but after they get locked down and I'm focusing on more discrete feature implementations it'll get easier to plan for iterative builds.
Third, I had quite a few side projects running for LZG during the project launch, and between GDC and the Kickstarter a lot had to change with those. Net Gain: Stories is getting a huge revamp with a talented programmer I met at GDC, and another semi-secret project is slowly transitioning to another designer/producer who will carry on that torch while I fall back to a consulting role. Other projects were put on ice until I can find the right people. Transitioning the projects took a bit longer than I thought, but it'll free up more of my time to focus on NG:CE!
Fourth, the usual life crap has gotten in the way. Some issues updating my OS left me unable to use my desktop for days while I recovered files from my hard drive (don't worry, work stuff has been backed up many times, but some personal family pictures were at risk). Then, there was tons of chaos as my roommate moved out, and the new one moved in, running around town for furniture, etc.
I had budgeted time for some of this, but wasn't expecting quite this much hassle. Luckily, I had a second contingency which was to remove some extra features I had planned for launch, and work on them later. This means a lot of "the pretty" is gone: the prototype is pretty much just text and buttons and menus.
I'm still determined to get the prototype out to you on June 30th, it just might be a bit rougher than I had hoped.
The timetable for rewards, however, does need to be adjusted. Most of the "June" creative content can be added in some form in July. Most of the July content will be pushed back the August, and the August content to September.
Anyone with the persona or higher I'll work with directly: I realize the best way to write the story for Net Gain will be to release the content in chapters along with the new features and updates. This means some characters might not really find their place in the story until later. I'll find out if people want to see their character earlier, or save them for the deeper parts of the conspiracy!
Since the special editions contain dossiers on their characters - some of which are already fleshed out, and some are just a concept - I'll see if they want to wait for the full package, or receive the dossier separately when it's ready. It's a bit of a hassle but I love the idea of releasing the story in chapters instead of one big clump. It'll be a good way to keep updates fresh and bountiful in between larger feature releases, get proper feedback on the story as it progresses, and not have to rush to put the whole thing to get in one big update.
I've heard your feedback, and either during the prototype launch or soon after, things will be changing. I had always intended of changing it once I have some actual content updates to push out, but if that still doesn't work for people I'll find a way that does!
Now, I've got to get back to work. I'm still in full on crunch mode to (and most likely past) the end of the month, trying to get as many of those core features in for you all to enjoy.
As always, check the Twitter for semi-regular updates on development, the Facebook for general chatter, or subscribe to the Newsletter to get emails for the big important updates.
Until next time,