Funded! This project was successfully funded on February 2, 2013.

Update #70

A Word About Continued Development and Support for Akaneiro

23 comments
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Akaneiro Backers,

A little history and an update regarding Akaneiro development going forward: Development on Akaneiro started during the early months of 2011. Since that time, we've maintained a development team averaging 15 people/month on the project. In total, around 360 man-months have gone towards development, bringing our investment in dollars to nearly $2 million USD. In that same period, we've generated roughly 300kUSD in revenue - this includes funds collected via the Kickstarter campaign, F2P purchases in-game, and one-time purchases via Steam. In simple math: We've spent $2 million, we've made $300k, we're "in the hole" $1.7 million. 

Given this situation, we now have no choice but to radically alter the approach we're taking to maintaining and improving the game. The core development team has been reduced in size to just two people. They will continue to address bugs and make improvements while working towards goals like multi-player and tablet support, but progress will be slower. Depending on the success of our other remaining title, The Gate, we may one day find ourselves in a position to throw greater resources at Akaneiro. We certainly hope that will be the case. 

What's written here quickly in a few paragraphs represents some truly painful internal decisions and adjustments. Our Shanghai-based development team recently underwent downsizing so that all resources can be directed towards the one game that offers the greatest chance of bringing much-needed stability to our studio. If we can achieve our goals with The Gate, then we can bring greater attention to Akaneiro. 

Life as an independent developer is filled with the constant threat of failure. This isn't the first time in our 8 year history we've faced this sort of challenge. It's not the first time we've had to reduce staff on one of our games. It is different because of the demand for transparency that comes with being a part of Kickstarter. In providing transparency like this, I am asking for your understanding and I am hoping for your support. 

As is usually the case after these sorts of painful adjustments, we are now in a better position to survive, build success with The Gate, and re-focus development on Akaneiro with lessons learned from the mistakes we've made. Help us out by sending your feedback to us via support.spicyhorse.com

And please, continue to keep the discussion going here on Kickstarter. We're listening, we care, and we're excited about your involvement in the future of Akaneiro and our other projects. 

- American  

Comments

    1. Missing_small

      Creator Aldo on February 16

      This is sad to hear. I've enjoyed what I've played of the Akaneiro beta, and really appreciate the art style. I hope Spicy Horse is able to refocus and eventually turn Akaneiro into a profitable business and a well-polished game.

    2. Photo.small

      Creator Ron Au on February 4

      Oh and to put in keys, you go to either:

      Steam for Steam keys
      In-game menu (button on the left) for game items
      Spicy Horse site (http://redeem.spicyhorse.com/) for non-game stuff like OST and comics

    3. Photo.small

      Creator Ron Au on February 4

      @Ophelea Wow that was a great response. As a tech/code head I don't mind the nitty gritty so all those details were very nice.

      I'm assuming the crux of the decision was that even if you prioritised multiplayer (it certainly sounds more interesting than engine versions and GUI code!), you'd have to do everything all over again when you eventually switched to 4.5 anyway.

      The issue of transparency is completely understandable. I have seen over countless crowdfunding projects that there are always people (like me) who enjoy updates and details and aren't super fussed about minor failures, yet there is also always a percentage that see an reason for delay/failure as just an excuse to criticise. Some think that a lack of communication/transparency is the real failure and others just want their reward and don't want to hear about it.

      Here's hoping The Gate's success reinvigorates Spicy Horse.

      @Cory You want to go to https://akaneiro.backerkit.com to claim downloads and keys. Just remember that BackerKit accounts are separate for different projects, so you'll need your login details specific to Akaneiro.

    4. Blakeliberator.small

      Creator Nian on February 2

      @American.

      Sorry mate but your full of shit on the topic of what you could and should have done. Even your comic says it's an online game. Now where's the online bit? When is a single payer game considered online?

      You never fulfilled your promise of multiplayer. This isn't armchair talk, you didn't net the most basic of requirements, it failed because of that. No if, buts or maybe about it. Sure you may have difficulties, that doesn't change the raw fact.

      Beyond the game tho, the art was amazing and of excellent quality. Your vision is outstanding and I will continue to support your future projects.

      Just don't talk bull when we all know what went wrong with one thing or another.

    5. Laughing_man.small

      Creator Cory on January 30

      Oh whoops. My bad! I've been out of the loop for a while. Now I have some new questions. Where do I go to redeem my digital art book and OST? There's a link for the comic, but not for the other non-game digital stuff.

    6. Ajm_pic2.small

      Creator American McGee on January 30

      @Cory, it was never possible to transfer accounts from one platform to another. However, if you check your BackerKit account, you'll find a Steam Key waiting for you.

    7. Laughing_man.small

      Creator Cory on January 30

      Is it still possible to do the one time account transfer from Spiceyhorse to Steam? I never got around to that cause I was waiting for all the items to be ready. Not sure how long the queue will be now that there's only 2 people maintaining the game.

    8. Ajm_pic2.small

      Creator American McGee on January 30

      @Ron, thanks for such a thoughtful reply. We have tried to be transparent, but it's hard to strike a balance between not transparent enough (WTH ARE YOU DOING!) and too transparent (AMERICAN MCGEE IS GOING OUT OF BUSINESS!). There's always histrionics.

      But to speak to your concerns, I've been fielding a lot of questions from the press today. One of them specifically asked for "insight into what went wrong." This is the response I gave him, hopefully it explains a few things.

      "Crafting was completed along with the additional areas. But the idea that $200k would finish everything was arrived at under the assumption that Akaneiro would sustain itself. It didn't have to be a runaway success but it needed to cover costs. Unfortunately, what we found upon release was some architectural problems (this is why co-op is behind); issues upgrading our GUI - the one we used was compatible with Unity 4.0 but NOT Unity 4.5 which required redoing the ENTIRE GUI; and feedback that told us the game simply wasn't fun. All of this needed to be addressed before we could implement co-op or tablet."

      - Ophelea

    9. Photo.small

      Creator Ron Au on January 30

      Hrm, that is true. Sorry to assume I had a deeper perspective than yourselves. Nevertheless we do have perspectives.

      I think for us backers, it really is A, then B, then C. We were let down, then got displeased at being let down, and then could naturally only guess at what went wrong. We know there's been $2 million spent with only $300K profit, but so far we haven't really been shown why the decision not to implement multiplayer support was made.

      All we are told is that schedules change and other priorities get in the way. Everyone knows that though. What we don't know is why multiplayer wasn't scheduled at the start of the dev roadmap and why it wasn't made a priority. What Nian is saying is that perhaps that $300K profit would be more and perhaps how the puzzle works would have been simpler if that was taken care of first.

      Perhaps the multiplayer server backend required something else to be implemented first. Perhaps it was decided that you could get away with not including multiplayer support more than you could get away with not giving in-game item pledge rewards, so the latter became a priority. Perhaps live co-op is extra complicated and it is hard to find a skilled developer in your area. Perhaps spending resources on multiplayer first would have been an immense risk that could have sunk the company.

      We don't know. We neither have answers of our own nor do you give them to us. What we do know is that things have gone wrong. As a development team you may have made the best decisions with what you had, but since backers aren't privy to that, the only thing we can do is analyse.

      You are right, game development as straight-forward as A, B, C. You may be right to think that a little amount of game is better than no game at all. To many though, that 'C' that you keep on putting off is the heart of their interest in the game. To them, there may as well be no game.

      That is what people mean when they say you did too little for too long. Backers have a right to not accept failure. We can't do anything about it, but if someone's opinion is that you failed, then that is true for them. Whether or not is is easy for them to armchair analyse, a gamer is always right about their own opinion.

      I still play Akaneiro regularly, but I think somewhere along the line, the decision not to weigh multiplayer as a priority was a mistake.

    10. Ajm_pic2.small

      Creator American McGee on January 30

      @Shan, Nian, Ron, I realize it's easy (and understandable) to sit back and armchair analyze what we "should have done" first. But what we should have done vs. what we could have done vs. what needed to be done are three entirely different things. Game development isn't so straight-forward as "do a then b then c because that's what players want." It's more about how the puzzle works. Sometimes you have to do the frame so you can work on the inside. - Ophelea

    11. Photo.small

      Creator Ron Au on January 29

      Wow @Nian

      "To be honest, without multiplayer or ios + android support, you basically dug your own grave. Essentially you did too little for too long, end result is a fail.

      At least the art was good."

      That so perfectly sums up everything about how they managed this game.

    12. Missing_small

      Creator Ken Pullman on January 29

      Thank you for your honest update. We hope things get better for you all soon.

    13. Blakeliberator.small

      Creator Nian on January 29

      To be honest, without multiplayer or ios + android support, you basically dug your own grave. Essentially you did too little for too long, end result is a fail.

      At least the art was good.

    14. Missing_small

      Creator Shawn Adams on January 29

      It's unfortunate this had to happen. It was avoidable. Not implementing MP asap was a poor decision. The game was the same exact thing on every level. The only real difference was the art. The game just gets boring after a few minutes of playing. I made myself play it and could only stay for 20-30mins in each session. I also was asked and provided considerable testing feedback, most of which appears to have been ignored in lieu of meeting a deadline to ship rather than providing a quality product. You will continue to burn your bridges with early adopters if you don't account for at least part of their feedback. I told everyone I know on steam and elsewhere to stay away from this game. That's the kind of damage that you want to avoid.

    15. Ajm_pic2.small

      Creator American McGee on January 29

      @Imban, They've all been shipped - months ago! Let me know if you haven't received yours.

      To all other commenters, thank you so much for your support. We are committed to keeping a (very) small team working to add co-op and tablet support. It is our hope we can release these features in the future.

    16. Barackstarebooyah.small

      Creator Devin on January 29

      That's very disappointing to hear. Akaneiro had some very stiff competition this year in the form of Van Helsing, Path of Exile, and a couple other semi-good ARPG games. I fear that the amount of time spent getting it past beta (it's STILL early access on Steam) was a huge barricade for reaching a wide audience. I really hope that it's freed from Early Access soon with that 2 person team. You'll hopefully be able to pick up the people that want a more casual experience than Path of Exile.

      I still believe in this project, and I'm glad I backed, so it's sad to see. I wish you much luck, American, and thank you for your transparency.

    17. Missing_small

      Creator Forrest Alexander Sarles on January 29

      Akaneiro is the first and only project I've supported via Kickstarter, so this is certainly disappointing news to me. With the benefits I received as a backer, as well as the many hours I've logged into the game itself, I know my $200 was well spent; it's a shame that others didn't feel the same. I greatly appreciate your transparency in this situation, and I'm also glad that while the team has been downsized and progress has slowed, your promised goals for the project are still alive. Although tablet support was something I was very much looking forward to, I wouldn't have blamed you if the tablet version had been scrapped altogether and certainly won't blame you if you choose to do so in the future. I hope that you do what is right for your company and I wish you luck in your future endeavors. Meanwhile, the posters and artbook on display in my home will serve as a reminder of your valiant efforts to bring your fantastic world to life.

      Cheers.

    18. Sealofmetatron_a.small

      Creator Kenny Nierwienski on January 29

      Akaneiro had promise, but without multiplayer it was bound to fail. I'm really surprised the feature was put off this long since it was essentially developed like a F2P MMO.

      If it ever gets mutliplayer I'll probably play again. As it stands I'm just not that interested.

    19. 8sapy4gg7um19qfp7nfh.small

      Creator Jay Grab on January 29

      It's a shame that this happened, I never held too much interest in the game itself and never played much of it. The design of the game is nice but the progress is slow, levels and missions feel a bit repetitive and character customization is truly minimal. Even with all the in game money I got back from the kickstarter reward tier I pledged to the game it didn't hold my interest.

      I thought that game was doing pretty well from the tone of a past update that talked about how all those Chinese players were joining in and additional servers were needed, I guess they weren't putting money down though.

      Sorry it worked out like this, I hope it can become popular and turn a profit for you some day, and best of luck with your other game.

    20. Kick.small

      Creator Joakim Jonsson on January 29

      Darn shame. Akaneiro was an really interesting idea as a game. And I loved the graphics and overall style of it. But I got to admit the actual game didn't keep my interest more than a few hours, and it's designed to make you progress very slowly compared to other indie games of similar budget that usally are quite short.

      Good luck with the future title! I would really like to see more Spicy Horse.

    21. Imbanspikes.small

      Creator Imban on January 29

      Will the physical artbooks or posters ever happen?

    22. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Timothy Roller on January 29

      Ouch. I hope it gains some momentum going forward.

    23. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Ben Lorenz on January 29

      Really disappointing - the promise of tablet support was kinda why I joined in the first place.

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