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FRONTIERS - Explore, Discover & Survive in a massive, relaxing open world that emulates the tone of classic first person RPGs.
FRONTIERS - Explore, Discover & Survive in a massive, relaxing open world that emulates the tone of classic first person RPGs.
4,574 backers pledged $157,381 to help bring this project to life.

What's the deal with stretch goals?

Hello, everyone! First off, welcome to all our new backers, including our third and final STARWALKER!

New rewards coming soon...

Egads, all our top rewards have been depleted! The good news is that puts us really darn close to our next stretch goal! And the great news is I've got a few (highly limited) heavy-hitting rewards in the works. Here's a sneak peek of one of the rewards I have lined up:

More details soon...

What's the deal with stretch goals?

Warning: Massive blocks of text ahead, proceed at your own risk!

There's been some grumbling about the choice to put co-op multiplayer near the end of our stretch goals, instead of right up front. The choice to put Oculus support so early has also ruffled a few feathers. So today I'll go over why I made those choices and what that means for you guys. (If you don't care about any of this, here's a cat getting freaked out by musical beans, and I'll see you next time.)

I'd be lying if I said I didn't put the Oculus so early in part because I'm passionate about the technology. But that aside, the order of stretch goals is very deliberate. It follows a technique I use in VFX that I've come to call subsidizing.

In VFX I'll often have to start working on a shot without knowing what the final requirements will be. If I choose a 2D method and days later they tell me by the way, it's a 3D move now! I've got to start over from scratch. This has happened more times than I can count.

On really big jobs where starting over from scratch isn't an option I try to make the earlier work subsidize a worst case scenario. The first features I add are the ones that won't change no matter what the final requirements are. Then to avoid painting myself into a corner, I continue to add features in an order that lays the foundation for the most complex option while still not committing to that option until I'm certain it's necessary.

Get to the point already!

Point is, the stretch goals subsidize one another in the same way (at least in theory). The only difference is we're talking about a best case scenario instead of a worst case.

Part of the Animal Pack includes an AI overhaul - this lays the groundwork for server-controlled AI. Part of the Content Bonanza includes an overhaul of the content system - this lays the groundwork for mod support. Full Mod Support will include a client / server overhaul - this lays the groundwork for Co-op Multiplayer.

In other words if I removed the Content Bonanza from the list, Full Mod Support wouldn't suddenly become 5k less. It might be a tad less since I wouldn't be creating art assets, but I'd still feel uncomfortable with Mod Support at anything less than 90-100k.

(I know this is dry but hey, you asked! Here's another cat video if you need a break.)

How does this justify putting the Oculus ahead of multiplayer when the Oculus is just a niche peripheral and multiplayer is a popular (even expected) feature?

Well it doesn't totally justify it. Like I said, I'm supporting the Oculus because I'm passionate about it, not because I think it'll move units.

That said, Co-op Multiplayer is going to cost roughly the same amount whether the Oculus is in there or not. Multiplayer is very complex and difficult to do right. I could maaaaaybe bump it down to 115k by axing the Oculus stretch goal, but I'd be sweating bullets. Even if you made mutiplayer the VERY FIRST stretch goal it would still cost no less than 100k, and you'd miss out on a ton of cool stuff along the way.

As someone who'll never use the Oculus, what specifically do I get out of the Oculus stretch goal?

Lots. The Oculus stretch goal includes an interface overhaul - that's where the bulk of that money is going. That overhaul is partly intended to make the interface more usable for Oculus users, but the best way to achieve that is by making the interface customizable and XML-driven - this will lay the groundwork for interface modding and language packs, on top of making it easier to customize your interface in general. Plus the art will suck less.

What happens if you don't hit the co-op stretch goal? Could the game still have multiplier someday?

In a word, yes. Especially if we manage to hit the Full Mod Support goal. I can't guarantee anything - any multiplayer patch would be a ways out and a lot can happen between now and then. But since I'll be laying down the foundation for multiplayer as I work, it'll hopefully be a matter of picking up wherever I left off when I have the time & money.

Okay, but why is the Armor System in such a weird place?

Ah yes. I agree it's weird. But that's the spot where armor can build on what came before while laying down foundations for what comes after (namely equipment mods for Full Mod Support). A lot of you have been pointing out that armor is standard in RPGs and I get where you're coming from. But FRONTIERS is an exploration game first, and an RPG second, so I'm OK with not including armor if it comes down to it. (Though it looks like we'll make the armor goal easily.)

TL;DR: No worries, the Oculus isn't stealing our multiplayer.

*Whew!* Lots of text! Here's a palate cleansing screenshot of one of my favorite villages:

Okay, I hope that answered everybody's questions! I'll be working hard this weekend to replenish the higher-level rewards, and I'll be working with Erik Dinnel to drum up some more promotions. Look for a new video update early next week!

 - L


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    1. Mark Sprietsma on

      I really like your style, that waystone is beautiful.

    2. Rob Taylor on

      Lars - You a painter? Is the implication that you play tabletop games with figurines? If so, may i ask which?

      This is a jump to conclusions and could be way off base. : )

    3. Lars Simkins Creator on

      Tim - they'll be 3D printed objects. I'll be hand painting them so the work isn't trivial, but they'll be limited and they won't be hand-sculpted. (I share the same anxiety about manufacturing, etc.)

    4. Missing avatar

      Tim Shea on

      I realize they aren't announced yet, but what kind of workload are you looking at for those scuplts? They look amazing, I just wouldn't want to see you get too involved in manufacturing and distribution.

    5. Missing avatar

      Gambler on

      Just wanted to say that I can absolutely understand your point. Working in many projects in the IT myself I know how annoying it is when milestones change because certain people simply don't know what the hell they actually want.
      And for the Oculus Rift - I'm also pretty excited about it, hope it won't be too expensive when it comes out.
      Bottom line: Thanks for the update and keep your goals as they are, they are perfectly fine :)

    6. Richard on

      Great update and explanation, more than happy. Keep up the great work Lars.

    7. Lenkyl Greatstorm on

      the oculus stretch goal is easily 60% of me backing this project. i'm very anxious to see it happen!

    8. Vance Austin Neely on

      Can't wait for the consumer version of the oculus rift to come out so I can be truly immersed in the game world. It's also one of the reasons I was so exited to back this project. Thank you for the update.

    9. Raymond A. Hufford on

      Appreciate this particular update, Lars. Thank you.

    10. Missing avatar

      Clément on

      I'm perfectly fine with the order of stretch goals right now.
      Ideally, the full mod support could help create the rest of features.

    11. Missing avatar

      SignpostMarv on

      I'd like to point out that modders added multiplayer support to Oblivion, so even if Lars doesn't get the funding to add it, I'm sure there'll be some modders out there fervently tinkering away with mods to try and get it working :P

    12. Lars Simkins Creator on

      Aaaand my phone cut me off.

      But yes: I think the Gabe will.

      I also think the game will work fine with stationary npcs. The only reason I'm comfortable with the pilgrim npc upgrade is because it's subsidized (there I go again) by the spline path system. If that didn't already exist I'd have to make a waypoint system, which would be too much work to justify.

    13. Lars Simkins Creator on

      Saluk - as we hit more of these stretch goals all bets are of in terms of schedule. Especially multiplayer.

      Add for managing scope - the most valuable thing I have is the limited focus if the game. Is a godsend for pruning features. Does it contribute to exploration? No? Then cut it down or remove it.

      I think the Gabe will

    14. Missing avatar

      saluk on

      I'm one of those who are only here because I was linked from the Oculus forums. Excited for the game and would have supported it anyway, but I'm glad I found it. It's very similar to a game I worked on for years before petering out.

      Co-op is a cool feature, but it's also very difficult to do right, from a technical and a design perspective; while Rift support is relatively cheap in comparison, and I could see a lot of the immersive elements intended for that still enhancing the experience without one.

      My biggest concern I think is that adding too many of these stretch goals could extend development too long. How are you planning to manage the scope? I love traveling npcs for instance, but could see how much simpler stationary ones would be (from a technical and design perspective).

    15. Lars Simkins Creator on

      I've received several PMS asking whether FRONTIERS will run in offline mode once mod support is implemented since I talked about 'server/client' I'm the update.

      At that stage the server will be local not something you connect to online. Internet access won't even be involved. FRONTIERS will always run offline no matter what stretch goals we reach.

    16. Missing avatar

      d10sfan on

      nice explanation over the stretch goals, that makes alot of sense.

      also, the cat videos were a funny touch :)

    17. William O'Meallain

      I'm a gamer from the Atari 2600 days, so to me, multi-player is not a requirement, in fact, most of the games I choose have NO multiplayer option whatsoever. I play console and video games to escape reality, not to be thrust into an alternate reality with the same social BS I deal with in real life.

    18. Daniel Millard on

      Goooood update. I confess I was rolling my eyes over the Oculus Rift thing a bit, but it all makes much more sense now.

    19. Missing avatar

      Steve Palmer on

      This update was worth it for the cats. On topic though, will the support of Oculus mean that 3D Vision/Tridef will work great too? I recall playing with some spaceman tech demo and it had some kind of internal rendering mode for Oculus and looked messed up when trying to dual render the regular binary :(

    20. Lars Simkins Creator on

      Dawn - don't apologize cats > walls of text

    21. Pauly Paul on

      Heh you're funny. If it helps I think you're doing a bang up job (who says that?) and I'm just as passionate about the Oculus Rift.

    22. Dawn_

      Didn't read sorry...i was watching the cat's video :I

      I love the second ^^

    23. yatpay on

      I understand some people might be frustrated about the Rift support but honestly, it's the only reason I'm a backer. Oculus Rift support is the main reason I'm excited for this game. I can't wait!

    24. Rob Taylor on

      Makes sense. And for those saying $300 is too much for OR... you're crazy. This technology has been a dream of mine for at least 20 years. To see that dream come to fruition is pretty much priceless if you ask me.

    25. Kieran Salsone on

      Completely understood, mate. That makes a lot of sense.