19 - The terror of pregnancy

Developer diaries about creating Devastated Dreams.
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evilkinggumby
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Re: 19 - The terror of pregnancy

Postby evilkinggumby » Mon Aug 03, 2015 5:29 pm

matt wrote:I suspect the main difference is that kickstarter is less exciting/interesting to backers as well as press. It is hard to admit, but it's also possible the game just doesn't grab people. I'm not sure why that would be. Some people think the art style is the same (and I disagree with that, but what I think doesn't matter), and maybe other people expect that it is more of the same as Neverending Nightmares. I'm not sure. We are in a tough spot because I assumed we had a good chance of success for this kickstarter, so I don't have much in the way of contingency plans...


I think that is part of it, to be honest. Look at it this way..

game market has tons of similar games being made where the art style is lacking invariety and creativity. most horror games are either realistic 3d games or semi-stylized but also gritty/realistic looking. Shooters all kind of blur together, so do fantasy rpg and MMO's. Enter Neverending Nightmares, a game that looks nothing like any other horror game out there, but instead is styled after the beloved and long time geek fodder king, Edward Gorey. Now add to it the promise that not only will it be scary and get under your skin (with a pre-alpha demo that shows this off to great effect) but the fact the creator admittedly suffers from certain mental conditions and wants to examine and imagine them within the game to help people understand and experience what he does. GOLD. You have SO MUCH that helped to sell this concept at the time of the Kickstarter. Granted you still had a rollercoaster ride to get the funding, but you got it.

Now we come back to now. You have this campaign that, generally, looks and feels like the previous game. You went from the iconographic penwork of Edward Gorey to more of a thick lined inkwash design that is evocative of.. no one really. The game is again still in mostly black and white, has the same "2d " overall look and navigation, still no UI, the demo starts up like NeN with no real lead in or set up or explanation about the plot (despite you telling everyone it is going to be more of a narrative driven game this time) and overall feels like what would have been "Chapter 2" of NeN 1 if it was split into episodes. And I'm sorry but at least for the initial pitch, you didn't get into the meat and potatoes of how close the game hits home to you and your wife. It sounds more like "I think it would be neat to combine my fears (which I won't get into right now) and this wild lore from the Philippines. "

what ends up happening is you are effectively under-selling everything in so many ways. Everyone that LIKED the first game will see this and you have a 50/50 shot they'll back it. Everyone that was "well, it was ok" about the first one won't see any major stand out changes or advancements in DD and so pay it no mind(maybe get 25% of them to back it on the lower tiers), thinking you've hit your bar and plateau. Everyone less than enthused or that hated NeN will just walk away unsurprised. You may get a few newcomers but since no one is really talking up the game, well, there haven't been many of those either.

At this point I would say don't quite.. but prep for a reboot and have a plan of attack. I think you have a great strategy with tiers and stuff, Lobstah helped a lot with that. You have a solid working demo(and if you add the prologue so it FEELS more narratively driven, even better). you can re do a lot of the animated gifs using any enhancements you have for the engine (I know you mentioned tweaking things about her face/eyes/movement) fairly quickly. And if you do have support and friends in the phillipines, reach out to them to see if anyone can hook you up with some good quality pics of the area that you can use as reference for the game AND for the pitch. Tossing a free digital copy of the game for their efforts wouldn't kill you. :)

When you do the pitch video, tighten it up so you get as much in there as possible (without data dumping) but really push for the idea that this is an important and personal project that is especially critical with the upcoming birth of your son, Paul. Heck say it is the second ever gift from you to him (the first being the gift of life lol). A way to send him a message, many years in the future, about how you felt about his birth, about seeing him, about the fear of losing him, and how precious he is to you and your wife. Humanize this in a way like you did with NeN.

If need be explain the links between your fears and the aswang as the result of conversations with your wife and her family and how they made the connection between your fears, their own cultural fears historically, and the many folktales that manifested over time as a result. Then show that you want to try and explore your fears and anxieties by delving into their lore and unearthing the primal deep-set terrors of their people into a more contemporary setting that will feel approachable to gamers, but still submerge them in the kind of morass that forever taints their dreamsleep. :)

I hope this all makes some sense. I'm not trying to knock you down or mock you, but rather focus your efforts in a more refined manner. I think you were ok being especially vague with NeN because of the nature of the game, but with this second run I would be less vague, more specific, so people know what they're getting into and know how much MORE this game is going to bring to the table. It will alleviate people's worries it will be "yet another walking simulator". or "lack interactive objects" or whatever else bugged people.

also.. seriously.. redo the animated shot of Angel getting attacked by the mananangal where she struggles a bit and then.. passes out as it plunges it's proboscis into her. Unless they have a venom that knocks people out INSTANTLY a mother would be fighting and riding every bit of adrenaline possible to save their baby. That clip looks like she just gives up and takes a nap... lol
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miumiaou
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Re: 19 - The terror of pregnancy

Postby miumiaou » Mon Aug 03, 2015 7:05 pm

I suspect another reason might be the month you launch your campaign: at summer time, people want to go on holidays and so they have no money for Kickstarter.

Also you should decide on a way to motive people if you don't want to lose them between this campaign and the relaunch. (because of the feeling of having fought for nothing)

(Paul sounds good! I too want to have a child after my studies)

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evilkinggumby
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Re: 19 - The terror of pregnancy

Postby evilkinggumby » Tue Aug 04, 2015 11:58 am

miumiaou wrote:I suspect another reason might be the month you launch your campaign: at summer time, people want to go on holidays and so they have no money for Kickstarter.

Also you should decide on a way to motive people if you don't want to lose them between this campaign and the relaunch. (because of the feeling of having fought for nothing)

(Paul sounds good! I too want to have a child after my studies)



True. Would it make sense to shoot to re-launch in mid Sept so it runs halfway into OCT and so you get some of the Halloween crowd? THat might help, but I'd defer to Lobster's advice on this as he knows way more about timing.

I know it may be a bit presumptuous to really consider all this when the main KS is still ongoing, just tossing ideas out there.
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matt
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Re: 19 - The terror of pregnancy

Postby matt » Tue Aug 04, 2015 12:56 pm

I hate to say it, but I don't think there will be a relaunch if this campaign fails. The reason why we did the campaign during the summer was because we need the money at this point. I think Devastated Dreams will be great, but if we don't get the funding now, I don't think it'll work out for the game. We could risk more money on a title that doesn't seem to capture people's imagination, but after 7 years of barely making ends meet as an indie and because I'm a new dad, I can't really afford to take any more risks.

In addition, because the game doesn't seem interesting to press and youtubers, I am worried that the game will sell worse than Neverending Nightmares once it is released. I am sure it will be a better game, but as I learned on Retro/Grade, good games don't sell. It's all about getting hype and excitement, and I'm beginning to worry we may not have that with Devastated Dreams. While we are pleased with the sales of Neverending Nightmares, it's not enough to fund the next project. We have a larger development team than a lot of indies and unfortunately, have a higher cost of living. (Stupid Los Angeles!) Our goal has always been to grow our market, so we can have more stability, but it doesn't seem like we are succeeding in that.

Kickstarters don't necessarily determine the market viability of a project (Five Nights at Freddy's had 0 backers on kickstarter), but my plan was that we would continue to sell to our existing user base and grow it. Our existing user base seems to not be interested, so my plan is based on flawed assumptions, which means maybe it's a bad plan. It's easy to say that the project can succeed with a relaunch or if we change the pitch video (and while I may be wrong, I disagree with EvilKingGumby about our pitch needing so much refinement), but we need the title to not only succeed in kickstarter, but also sell well when it's done.

I am still confident in the quality of Devastated Dreams, and we are doing some great work presently, but if we are creating something the market is not interested in, then it is tough to continue work on it. We definitely have a chance of succeeding on kickstarter, and we are still working assuming that is a possibility. However, if we don't, I think that means big changes for Infinitap, and one of them might be the closure of the studio. I don't want that, but I've been doing this for 7 years - longer than I worked in AAA. If I still can't figure out how to get a steady paycheck at indie development, maybe I'm just not good enough at it or just not lucky enough.

I don't mean for this to be sad or to make you feel guilty. I was ready to walk away at the Neverending Nightmares kickstarter, and through a miracle, we were able to make that game a reality. I am glad it exists, and I'm proud I made it. If I don't get to make any more indie games, at least I made two of which I can be proud. If the campaign fails, I'm sure I can land on my feet, but that might mean going to work for someone else. Maybe not! Maybe this is just the next step in Infinitap's history.
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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RightClickSaveAs
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Re: 19 - The terror of pregnancy

Postby RightClickSaveAs » Tue Aug 04, 2015 9:23 pm

I don't know if this applies to video game projects anymore, but that 80/20 rule (80% of projects that reach 20% of their goal end up succeeding: http://blog.spokepoint.com/four-surpris ... ckstarter/) should give you some hope.

I'm rooting for the project for sure. Projects in worse shape have pulled it off before, I'll do what I can (admittedly not much) to help push and make sure that last stretch of the Kickstarter U-curve is as, well, curvy as possible!

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matt
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Re: 19 - The terror of pregnancy

Postby matt » Wed Aug 05, 2015 12:01 pm

It is definitely possible for our campaign to succeed, and I am hopeful! I suspect that the 20% that don't get funded that do reach 20% are larger projects like ours, but at least statistically, the odds are in our favor. It's going to be tough though because I've used up my press contacts, nagged the crap out of all the big streamers, and used up my best update material, so I'm not sure where we are going to get 3,000 more backers. Stranger things have happened!

I think at this point, I pretty much have to let it play out and hope for the best. We have a few other cool things that we've been working on, so Infinitap won't disappear instantly if the kickstarter fails, but we'll have to think long and hard about what makes sense for the business. I already talked with Adam, Joe, and Chris about how we might not be able to keep them on if the campaign fails, and I was fighting back tiers. They were very, very nice and are optimistic about landing on their feet no matter what. Technically I wouldn't be laying them off since they are all contract, but I've been exclusively employing Joe for 5 years (his entire professional career!), so it's really tough. :-/

Anyway, hopefully everything will work out for the best! :)
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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evilkinggumby
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Re: 19 - The terror of pregnancy

Postby evilkinggumby » Wed Aug 05, 2015 1:56 pm

matt wrote: I already talked with Adam, Joe, and Chris about how we might not be able to keep them on if the campaign fails, and I was fighting back tiers.


ok you may have been doing kickstarter for too long when you fight back tiers instead of tears. :)

I'm glad there is some possible alternative plans in the works if this fails. I don't want to see it fail, but thinking that failure means both the end of DD being a thing AND infinitap dissolved is kinda total suckage. There is still ample chance for this campaign to bounce back and kill the numbers.. just need a wing and a prayer.
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matt
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Re: 19 - The terror of pregnancy

Postby matt » Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:00 pm

Well, we have a few interesting things in the works that we will follow through on, but Neverending Nightmares might be our last big hurrah. :-/ At the very least, I think Neverending Nightmares is something of which we can be proud.
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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evilkinggumby
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Re: 19 - The terror of pregnancy

Postby evilkinggumby » Mon Aug 10, 2015 12:44 pm

ok just curious.. what is to be of this forum when all is said and done? Are there plans to shut it down and go offline? Guess if you go radio dark we'll just have to follow you on twitter or somewhere else?
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matt
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Re: 19 - The terror of pregnancy

Postby matt » Mon Aug 10, 2015 3:06 pm

Well, I'm not sure I would shut it down. Maybe long long long term, but I think having a forum to discuss Neverending Nightmares and whatever isn't a bad thing. Will I keep posting developer diaries? Maybe not. Will I check it as frequently? That really depends on how frequently other people are posting. I think presently, you are probably the only one who checks it every day, so if I'm posting new developer diaries, I'm not sure if we'll have anything to talk about. haha

Maybe I am just in a bad mood, but I think my experiment in community building and open development kind of failed. I thought the advantage of pouring so much time into my community was that we'd get support for things like kickstarter. While it may be true, I think it works on a much smaller scale than I'd hoped. Would my time be better spent on development? Maybe. Again, perhaps this is just my mood, but I'm really feeling like I'd rather be in a position as an indie where I have a publisher take care of marketing and promotion (and hopefully funding), and I can just put my head down and focus on development. Perhaps that's unrealistic (our Neverending Nightmares Deluxe Edition totally fell through) but I am kind of tired of wearing so many hats... Maybe being a grunt in another studio won't be so bad? :-/
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games


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