Q&A with Alex
Hey everybody! We’ve had so much going on that it’s been hard to find the time to catch our breaths. With Factions coming out in the next week this seemed like a good time to catch up with our backers and have a nice chat.
Basically, we know there are lots of questions about the project right now. We’ve answered every question we can find, in as many places as possible, but we think it’d be helpful for everyone if we rounded them together for an update.
I’ll also be happy to field any questions in the comments section below if you don’t see it in this update!
The release date on the project said November, now it’s February and you’re just releasing some multiplayer thing I didn’t even want. What gives?
This is the biggest issue we want to address.
When we set a launch date of November, we didn’t know if we’d match our funding or not. If I’m completely honest it was probably too optimistic, even if we had only gotten the minimum funding. We should have known better, and I apologize for that mistake.
Just as importantly, we made 7x the funding we expected. We made the game exponentially bigger. Imagine a tv show that gets picked up for 7 more seasons, or a book that gets made into a 7-part series or a 20-minute indie film being given the funding to turn it into a 2 hour feature film. All of these things take a long time. And hopefully, every one of these examples means a much better end result.
Where did this Factions thing come from anyway? I don’t remember hearing about it.
We mentioned a free multiplayer standalone at the end of our Kickstarter pitch video. At the time it was more of a side note, and not what we wanted to focus on. Near the end of the campaign we added a stretch goal to add player-owned cities to Factions. Again, a lot of people didn’t realize we were talking about the multiplayer game.
As for personally? We love single player RPGs and we love multiplayer matches. We loved the idea of working on both of these things in the same world and sharing the content and tech.
Why make Factions at all, instead of just making the single player game?
Factions started out as a way to give backers a playable part of the game early. It also turned into a huge endeavor.
We got beta players, and we got lots of feedback, and we ended up making the best combat system we could. As we developed the combat we made huge improvements to the game. We reworked the interface three times until it was really intuitive, and we overhauled the classes dozens of times. We really fine-tuned and polished the hell out of the art and the combat mechanics. The depth and scope of the multiplayer game is far beyond what we had originally set out to do.
Did we spend too long on this system? Maybe. It’s still hard for me to know for sure. Making a single player game is vastly more simple than making a multiplayer game, and these challenges cost us more time than we would have liked.
At the same time, if we had not gone through this process, the game, both single and multi-player, would be significantly lower quality than it is now, without a doubt.
We say it in every single update, but it’s 100% true - the combat in factions was made for the single player game, and we’ve used that to make a fully functional game that you can play now! We had really hoped people would see this is a huge bonus.
Ultimately, which choice would you have made? We know there are people on both sides of the issue, and we’ve seen both good and bad results from the path that we’ve decided to go down.
Factions just looks like a cash grab to me.
It really bums me out to see this sentiment, we have tried really hard to avoid it. First off, let me mention that this is not our goal. We didn’t set out to make a f2p game with the funding from the single player game which we crap out as an afterthought.
We’re using any revenue we get for salaries. None of the core team have been taking income since we started the company last January. Unlike many Kickstarter funded projects which pay mostly for salary, the $650k that we received after Kickstarter and Amazon’s cut have gone squarely into production: programming support, animation, audio, music, sound, QA, writing, office space, legal fees and software. This isn’t said for sympathy - we knew what we were getting into and we also have a buffer in case things get dire. This is simply the reality of why we’re raising money.
Factions looks like a grindy, pay to win game.
We’ve heard some major, and valid, concerns so far: the shop is overpriced, earning renown is too slow, and buying Renown or characters means the game is pay to win.
We’ll be making a lot of adjustments to costs this week. We’ve removed all renown costs to adjust your stats on a character, because this is a core part of what makes it fun to experiment with characters and teams. Now it’s free! We significantly lowered the price of color variations. We’re also adding a lot of achievements that grant bonus renown to make earning renown happen a lot quicker.
As for “paying to win”, this honestly shouldn’t be the case. Your team has a rating (a total of each character’s rank) and you’ll always be matched up against teams with a similar rating. No matter how your opponent made his team, you’ll be fighting on equal footing. In addition to matching by total rank, we also use each player’s ELO (ranking) to find equivalent matches, so that veterans tend to match each other before new players.
There has also been an exploit that allowed players to artificially lower their team power so that they could intentionally fight against new players. First of all, this is unbelievably lame of some players, but we’re also putting in changes to how team power calculates to make sure it doesn’t happen at launch. In addition, we’re also adding safeguards so that new players only match against other new players based on how long they’ve been playing. Whether this works will rely somewhat on how big our population is at launch.
Will there be microtransactions in the single player game?
Will I miss out on anything in the single player game if I don’t play Factions?
No (except having fun).
Now, that said, we’ve put a lot of thought and effort into Factions. It’s not just a mindless one-off from The Banner Saga. Factions takes place in the same world, in a city that is part of the single player game and when events happen in single player they’ll affect the world in Factions. As we create new system for the Saga we’ll be testing them through Factions, so things like playing against the computer will appear in Factions as we work out the code, and the story will all tie together.
I don’t care how you explain Factions, I hate everything about it, I wish you didn’t make it and I feel like you tricked me into paying for something I don’t want.
I suspect some people feel like this. To those people, I would say I do understand. We became very ambitious and wanted to do the best work we could. The result is that it took a lot of time. We do not expect Factions to buy us yachts and mansions, just to pay for some living expenses. As our first time running a studio of our own, we’ve learned an enormous amount in both production and management. We hope you’ll accept our apology, and we strongly believe that we’ve taken the correct steps to make the best possible game. It will be worth the wait.
How do I upload my crest?
This has changed from the original upload idea, because that would have been very messy. You will now be able to upload your image in the game itself, when it releases. This way, nobody will miss any deadlines and you’ll be able to see it right in the game. Don’t worry, this is still EXCLUSIVE to backers!
Will Factions be ported to Linux /iOS /console?
No, we don’t intend to put Factions on anything but PC and Mac. Now that it’s out, we’re moving on to the rest of the single player campaign and cannot afford to spend weeks or months porting the multiplayer standalone. Our stretch goals applied only to the single player game.
When is the single player game coming out?
Our best guess right now is between mid and late this year. We’re a little shy of giving specific dates this time around, but we are full steam ahead on this. What we do promise is that we’ll continue to do regular updates on our progress, so that you can see how everything is coming together.
I still don’t completely understand combat and I’m getting crushed every time I play. What do I do?
We’ve included four different tutorials in the game. The first one covers the basics and you play through it when you boot up the game. On the main screen in Strand, you can click the banner button in the upper right. This shows you a cheat sheet of the most important things in combat and also includes two training videos. These will cover every single aspect of Factions. Lastly, every page has a ? button in the lower right. Clicking this will tell you what you need to know for that screen.
How do you feel about the game?
Personally, I think it’s coming along incredibly, and I’m not just saying that. My biggest regret is how long it is taking, but it’s coming out better than I had ever hoped. Some players have been rather upset about the delays, while others have told us to take as long as we need. The truth is, we only have as long as we have funds to pay ourselves. We can’t work on this forever.
I couldn’t be happier with our progress so far; for what we’ve done with a small team I don’t think I could imagine anything better. Despite the insane hours we’ve been putting in, I’ve never been prouder of anything I’ve made before, and we hope at the end of the day you guys agree it was worth it.
As mentioned before, we’ll be fielding all questions in the comments below. Fire away!
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An exclusive desktop WALLPAPER for your PC, Mac, tablet or mobile device, along with our heartfelt thanks. Choose with or without the logo. Be a part of the movement!Estimated delivery:
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A copy of THE BANNER SAGA with all the Chapter 1 content, along with all the big upgrades we're planning to add to the multiplayer, distributed digitally on PC or Mac. Includes all previous rewards.Estimated delivery:
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Get the AWESOME SPECIAL EDITION of The Banner Saga. The single player game as described above, plus the digital art book including production art and design sketches, the original soundtrack and desktop wallpaper. On top of all that, as a special thanks we'll include your name in the OFFICIAL CREDITS for the game.Estimated delivery:
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Be a real part of The Banner Saga! At this tier we'll provide you a template and you provide us with YOUR OWN CREST DESIGN which we'll put into the actual game. In both single and multiplayer, players will choose a family crest that represent them; this is your chance to get your family or guild symbol into the Banner Saga (must meet a few reasonable decency guidelines - see the FAQ). Includes all previous rewards.Estimated delivery:
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SPECIAL POSTER PROMOTION: We've gotten so many requests for just the poster that we can't ignore them any longer! For this special reward, get just the poster (unsigned) and the special edition of the game, no frills. This prize does NOT include the button or the guild crest but DOES include your name in the credits. All higher level donations continue to get the $80 version of this prize. Include an additional $10 for shipping outside the US & Canada.Estimated delivery:
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A limited edition print of the official game POSTER for The Banner Saga in full movie poster size (24 x 36 inches), SIGNED by the team at Stoic. Look to the left to check out the art. Also, to show off your viking spirit in public we'll include a BUTTON that looks just like the main character's brooch. Includes all previous rewards - please add $10 for shipping outside the US & Canada.Estimated delivery:
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Your generous donation guarantees that you'll get not just the poster but a T-SHIRT designed exclusively for the Kickstarter campaign (check the art to the left). Once it's over we won't be making any more! Includes all previous rewards - please add $10 for shipping outside the US & Canada.Estimated delivery:
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Austin Wintory, composer of the hit game "Journey", will be providing limited edition PHYSICAL COPIES OF THE SOUNDTRACK, hand-signed by the composer himself. Different from the official soundtrack, once the campaign ends these special edition CDs won't be available again. As part of the special music promotion, the donations we receive from this prize category go directly to help fund an all-out, full orchestral score for the game, recorded in a live studio! Includes all previous rewards.Estimated delivery:
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Don't just support the Banner Saga, own a piece of art from it. This tier features a physical, numbered ANIMATION CEL from the game, just like how they used to do it back in days of yore. Choose one of two pivotal characters from the game. Includes all previous rewards - please add $15 for shipping outside the US & Canada.Estimated delivery:
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Get an autographed copy of the performance parts from the recording sessions; the SHEET MUSIC used by the actual musicians who play on the score. Needless to say, this prize will be a limited run. As part of the special music promotion, the donations we receive from this prize category go directly to help fund an all-out, full orchestral score for the game, recorded in a live studio! Includes all previous rewards.Estimated delivery:
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Kickstarter is a chance not just to fund the game but to offer art for the sake of art. Get a full-sized, 12 x 36 FRAMED LANDSCAPE work of art inspired by the incredible American master Eyvind Earle. No logos, no gimmicks; numbered and signed by the artist. Check it out in the details to the left. Includes all previous rewards - please add $20 for shipping outside the US & Canada.Estimated delivery:
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Immortalize something meaningful to you in The Banner Saga. Send us a photo of YOUR OWN HEIRLOOM, memento or just something you'd like to show your friends and we'll turn it into a relic of value and power. We'll work with you to come up with a unique name and description that could include anything from a mysterious inscription to giving off a certain aura. You'll personalize it and make a coveted piece of gameplay by choosing from a list of rarities and in-game bonuses it provides. Doesn't look very viking-themed you say? That's ok, the marketplaces trade in items pillaged from all over the world. Because this includes all previous rewards, please add $20 for shipping outside the US and CanadaEstimated delivery:
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We're incredibly excited about this one. We've partnered with an amazing artist to turn our landscape artwork into a 3-dimensional SHADOWBOX that replicates the feeling of parallax you get from traveling across the land. Framed with a glass cover and coming in at 20 x 16 inches this is a serious piece of art. Numbered and signed. Includes all previous rewards - don't worry about the shipping cost; you're good.Estimated delivery:
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The gods may be dead but they're not forgotten. BECOME A VIKING GOD in the actual game. We'll create a unique deity with your likeness and work with you on a great name and backstory for him or her. You'll appear in the game in various forms of effigy and be written into the lore, where all may see. Includes all previous rewards. Email us for more info.Estimated delivery:
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You are invited to personally ATTEND the music's recording sessions in Los Angeles or elsewhere later this year. This will include a day of hanging out with all of us at the recording studio, and lunch (on us). You will also receive a signed, leather-bound book compiling all of the game's music (produced as a one-off and therefore never commercially for sale) and earn a Music Associate Producer credit in the game and on the album. Not enough? Austin will personally compose an original 30-second ringtone, just for you! As part of the special music promotion, the donations we receive from this prize category go directly to help fund an all-out, full orchestral score in the game recorded in a live studio! Please note: this is a special case prize. While it does include the signed CD and the sheet music, it does not include any of the previous rewards. This one's for serious music fans. You must be able to travel to the Los Angeles area or elsewhere. If you're interested in this prize you must contact us to make arrangements before the end of the Kickstarter campaign.Estimated delivery:
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We'll rotoscope and ANIMATE YOU, personally, into the game doing an attack or using a special ability so you, too, can look like a badass viking. How many chances will you have to be animated into a 2D game? Backers must be local or able to travel to the Austin/Georgetown area. Afterwards, let's get some lunch. Includes all previous rewards, do we even need to say it at this point? Email us for more info.Estimated delivery:
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We have so many prizes now we had to compile them all into ONE FINAL, HUGE MEGA-PRIZE. The Executive gives you every prize we have to offer (except for the rotoscope shoot), including the viking god and attending the recording session. On top of that, you will be given an Executive Music Producer credit in the game and on the album. Lastly, receive a framed copy of the Banner Saga main theme, each note inscribed by hand by Austin Wintory, who will also be kind enough to sign his work. Has anything like this even been done before? Please contact us before donating at this tier.Estimated delivery:
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