Re: Some Questions About Our Second Kickstarter
We recently had a comment on our boards that we felt deserved a long, thought out answer. You can see the questions and concerns below in italics, and our response below it. We have heard all of these separately before, but the author was kind enough to put it all into one big question, which we are more than happy to address. WARNING: LOTS OF READING BUT IT SHOULD EXPLAIN A LOT OF OUR PERSPECTIVE. Read on:
Ok, had to back to make this point as no one else seems willing to. It's going to be long, so....fair warning.
I, like many people was very interested in the initial IOS project. You know....the one that's now missed three or four dates?
So....Imagine my surprise to see "WarBalloon" back asking for money for a PC/Mac version....And mentioning that they're seeking more money partially to help pay for the IOS game.
This is absolutely beyond asinine and the very definition of Kickstarter "double-dipping".
These guys have already shown they don't have decent project management/business skills as not only have they been unable to meet self-imposed deadlines, but they blew through their first round of Kickstarter funding with extremely questionable budgeting and expenditures.
The latest from them has been IOS release "sometime this summer", which....If they're asking for more money to, in part, finish the IOS game there's no way in hell they're going to meet that broad range either.
Then they unilaterally decide to change a core component of the gameplay mechanics after collecting money from the IOS/Android project based on the mechanic?
At this point, I'm shocked anyone would be lining up to give more money to these guys when, to date, they've been unable to deliver on the original project. You know, the one that required all backers to pay for the IOS game on release? The one they were thinking of pricing somewhere in the $7 range?
The one that should have been providing revenue to finance a PC/Mac port?
At this point, I haven't been able to find evidence that either of these guys have ever produced an IOS or PC/MAC title to date.
That being the case, this is really starting to seem more like "let's grab what we can, while we can". But.....hopefully they're not going to blow all this too, because eventually people are going to start demanding either a game or the refund of their money.
First of all, thank you for your dollar.
Second, we know its a double dip. It's in the title. We aren't hiding that, so your observation seems....redundant.
Third, the reason you know that we dont have "decent" project management/business skills is because we openly post those things. We have an open doors policy, and in the spirit of kickstarter we try and keep everyone as connected and in the loop of our decision making process as possible. Clearly we aren't going to look for approval for gameplay changes, like converting from a tactical turn based game into a real time one - cause the bottom line is it's our game and it was more fun to have the chaos. We don't have to defend ourselves cause in the end people can just decide the game sucks, tell their friends it sucks and review it and tell the world that it sucks. We don't think this will be anywhere near the case, but that option is available to anyone that plays the game.
We also did not "blow through" our money. We posted an entire article outlining how careful we tried to be with our money. We put TONS of thought into every dime. If hiring CPA's, getting a business together, making sure we are legal in regards to copyrighted content and getting equipment for playtesting is reckless - then we are guilty as charged. Reading a bit between the lines, I think your real disagreement is that you wouldn't have spent the money the way that we did. You are welcome to your opinion, and we are confident we would probably have some thoughts for your budgets as well. However, as we have said, we spent our money wisely and with lots of forethought. There are things we would do differently, but unfortunately our time machine kickstarter did not get funded. But we digress.
As for release dates - yep, we've missed a bunch. Again, reading between the lines, it feels as if you are implying we have been misleading or irresponsible with our time - again, an assertion we strongly disagree with. Ask Valve, Blizzard, Nintendo or just about any other great developer about missed dates. As the immortal Shigeru Miyamoto said "A delayed game is eventually good, a bad game is bad forever." These are words we live by. Our model for operation is Valve - we love everything they do, the way they treat the community and, to your point, the way they don't really talk about when anything is coming out until its just about ready to go. See: Team Fortress. We, of course, do not have that luxury, as we are a "publicly funded" company and feel that would should share as much of the development process as possible. I can assure you, our next title will be developed in much more secrecy.
That said, we aren't happy about missed dates, but the bottom line is the game will be released when it's awsome, or damn near it. We don't want to develop this game any longer than we have to, and this is far from a Duke Nukem venture - but our game is very large, especially for a three person team (which is why we have another kickstarter, a point you seem to be missing). We would self evaluate and say the game is an 8/10 right now. We want it to be around 9.5 and that last 1.5 is the hardest - that is the polish, balance and bug squashing that too often in this industry is glazed over because of impatience or release schedules.
As to your point regarding our previous title releases: your are 100% correct. We have not made a game before this (our developer has some small releases, but as a team we are collective virgins). And from our perspective that is the EXACT reason kickstarter exists - people who have a vision, drive and passion for a project but don't have those traditional outlets to find funding to make those projects a reality. We do find it a bit frustrating to see arguments like yours - "why are these new people making a game, they should have a release before they get funded!" when companies like Double Fine (and don't misunderstand us - we love Double Fine and think they are a net positive for the kickstarter community) who probably have acces to things like banks and private investors use the kickstarter community, but when a small unproven group comes up the filter becomes much higher. Isn't that the whole point? Help the unproven.
As to the original Kickstarters and the $7 price point etc. There is a lot of nonsense here, but we will address it none the less. If we could give the game away for free on mobile devices we would. Period. But we have been in contact with Apple and we have been in contact with Google representatives and the bottom line is that it's basically impossible. There are literally 50 reasons why we cannot do this, and undoubtably you will say "well there must be a workaround" and we can confidently say there is not. Which is why we were more than happy, in fact ecstatic, to give the PC/Mac version (which we can control) to our original group of kickstarters for free. Also, the game will be under $5. Personally speaking, it is a strange time in gaming when a $7 game is considered outlandishly priced, but those are the trends and that is something we cannot control.
So, is this a "let's get money while we can" type of scheme? I suppose it would be disingenuous to say that it isn't - we have spent over a year getting people interested in our game, generating a community and listening to feedback about Star Command. We received literally five requests a day since we closed our first kickstarter asking for ways to support us. We also have thousands of requests for a PC version, which we clearly listened to. So we did use our momentum and our fan base to start another kickstarter. But this isn't for us buying cars or mac book pros or hookers and blow. The funds are purely for development and making the game great. We plan to hire 1-2 devs and supplemental contract artists to blow out more content. We are going to port the game over to PC/Mac and make it so that the game is cross compatible on all platforms so you can play it on your mobile device, boot the same ship up on your tablet during that meeting you dont care about, and then sit down at your desk and pretend to work while you actually play Star Command. That to us is cool and a fun challenge, and one that the community is going to help become a reality.
We welcome all opinions, and although we disagree with 95% of what you have said, we do defend your right to call us into question and wonder what it is that we are doing. We hope that you can at least understand our perspective.
The bottom line: we value our communities money, time, support and enthusiasm more than you can probably imagine. Understand, through kickstarter and other social media our fans have made our childhood dreams a reality: to make games. We treat that gift with the utmost respect and though we may make some decisions you disagree with, we always have the best of intentions at heart.
Hope that helps.
The Warballoon Team
tl;dr - We disagree. Your money, time and faith is in good hands. Rest easy.