The $425,000 Question
I wanted to take a moment to address a question that has been circulating around social media since we launched the Codename: Morningstar Kickstarter.
Why are we asking for $425,000?
First of all, I want to apologize for not providing more transparency. When we were assembling our Kickstarter materials, we didn't expect that our ask amount would generate such interest. Speculation has been all over the board from "trying to recoup our investment" to "keep a skeleton crew going for 5 years of support".
I'm afraid the answer isn't anything so nefarious - no secret government agencies are involved.
The Trapdoor team working on Morningstar consists of six senior-level developers, a creative director who leads both UX and visual design efforts, a web developer, a production artist, a data entry specialist, a content architect, two QA engineers, three support and social media staff, and a number of contract folks for specialized tasks. These are full-time employees dedicated to the project - far from a skeleton crew. Throw in a commercial-grade infrastructure - we have 9 dedicated Linux servers for the project - and a fully-stocked QA lab with scores of tablets, phones, etc. for testing, and you can quickly see how $425,000 is a real world target. Trapdoor is a commercial software development company, and this is how we approach large projects. We have already invested $1.2M in the project to date.
Why will it take 6 months to complete a project that was "almost" complete?
Since we can't release Morningstar with the D&D 5e rules (at least until/if WotC announces their OGL strategy), we have to refactor the Expert System (our rules engine) for Pathfinder PRD. This is reflected in our April 2015 release date - which includes support for our three core platforms (iOS, Android, and web), QA, play testing, etc. We could have stopped there with a smaller ask, but we didn't. Why? Our July 2015 release date for the Forge represents a significant expansion of our original functionality. Where the original plan (with WotC) allowed users to create adventures and campaigns for their own use as stand-alone documents, we now plan to allow user-created content to be published to the store as fully interactive titles. This requires moving the automation and functionality of our commercial Story Machine technology into Morningstar while making the experience simple, fun and fast.
This is an aggressive plan, and we have an experienced team to execute on our vision.
As a final thought, we are not replicating existing software. We are building something remarkable, captivating and new. I have seen Morningstar in action in my home game, and I don't want it to go away. I urge you to take the leap of faith needed to pledge to the Kickstarter.