Hello wonderful lady and gentle-backer folks! As always the team is still plugging away with SpaceVenture. A lot of time these past couple of weeks have been spent in dealing with artwork, so Mark has been crazy busy working with his graphics team.
An executive decision was made this week to use more 3D character models versus 2D character models in the game. We feel this direction is the best solution due to issues in having the characters interacting with each other. Originally the plan was to have some 3D characters and some 2D characters, but after having so many issues in having them work together in cut scenes, the decision became clear that going the direction of 3D on all character interaction was the best way to go.
Almost all scene artwork and objects will still continue to be 2D in order to keep costs at a minimum!
In closing, Mark has allowed me to share a scene with you. So here ya go!
Chris Pope a.k.a your humble local intergalactic SpacePope
I know these are tough times, so not everyone can donate. And I, more than anyone, can definitely understand (and respect!) that! So if you’re not able to donate, PLEASE do not feel inclined to! But I would love if you tweeted, posted, and shared the URL to my page for the Down Syndrome Walk. Even if no one donates, getting the word out there about Down Syndrome and raising awareness about it – will make me feel just as good!
When Dexter was born, my life was changed. And he’s not even MY son. He’s the son of Jason and Colette Cosky, whom I love very much. But when Dexter entered my life, it definitely changed. I suddenly wanted to fight for a better tomorrow. Not just for myself, but for Dexter. I wanted him to be able to achieve every dream he could muster; I wanted him to walk in a world without any limitations or prejudice.
Dexter and I.
I’m walking in the 2013 San Diego Buddy Walk® Oktoberfest to show my support for the more than 350,000 individuals with Down syndrome in the United States. I want to do my part to make sure that each individual is given every opportunity to reach their full potential.
Every step I take, every dollar I raise will help ensure that each individual with Down syndrome in the United States will be able to do just that. Last year alone, over $9.5 million dollars was raised nation-wide for local and national education, research and advocacy programs.
Your involvement in the Buddy Walk — by walking with me or by sponsoring me — will make steps for a brighter tomorrow for all individuals with Down syndrome. Together we can enhance the quality of life for people with Down syndrome.
This year the walk will be held on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at NTC Park in Liberty Station (Point Loma).
Thank you for supporting me — and all individuals with Down syndrome.
Want to see the glamour of making video games? How about the other side? See the dark side of Kickstarter! Watch what it takes to fulfill all those Kickstarter backers’ rewards in this video! http://youtu.be/0wbDdNl5sXQ
Hey guys, the last couple of weeks have been a bit slow due to some issues we ran into code wise. Please don’t take that in a negative light, it’s part of the process as you can imagine. Things are coming along though and we’ve got some cool stuff to show you very soon!
Scott has been busted tail to get narrative stuff into the game, which includes the demo that will eventually get updated as well!
Stay tuned for more interesting news in the next update!
Chris Pope a.k.a your humble local intergalactic SpacePope
The news came sadly, that the attempt to make Precinct the game, has closed down for now. You can read about it here, or read below:
Each member of our team has done their very best to make Precinct a reality. We put every effort into making a crowdfunding campaign work but we have decided to end the Precinct campaign effective today. Your generous support not only made Precinct a possibility, it also gave us the fire to try and make this work when the going got hard. Thank you.
Our Kickstarter campaign began on July 16th. We had an amazing PR team that worked hard to get the word out to several great outlets — Kotaku, Destructoid, Polygon, Rock Paper Shotgun, and the list goes on. Even with all the great press coverage, and a strong first day of funding, at the end of the first week we realized it was nearly impossible to make our total funding goal on Kickstarter.
We then had a few choices. We could simply give up and shut the campaign down. We could let it keep going as-is and hope for a miracle. We could roll up our sleeves and fight to save the project. Needless to say, we chose to fight. We didn’t want to look back and say we didn’t do everything we could. So, we looked at what was working and what wasn’t working on Kickstarter, then designed, built, and deployed our own crowdfunding solution in just two weeks.
To solve many of the issues with our Kickstarter campaign, our new approach was a staged funding model, based on how traditional video game investment is done. Rather than getting all of the money up front, our approach was to install safeguards to validate Precinct’s quality and potential as the product development cycle progressed. This approach would allow us to create a playable prototype quickly and also work closely with the backers at every stage of development. On Kickstarter, the overwhelming majority of backers simply pledged at the level to get a copy of the game. By moving the rewards into an online store for individual purchase, we were able to significantly lower our funding needs and allocate more money to actual game development. Using our own crowdfunding system we could stretch backer dollars even further by not having to give 5% to Kickstarter and 5% to the Amazon payments platform.
We’re fighters and fought our best. Unfortunately, our best wasn’t good enough to overcome the challenges with crowdfunding Precinct. Our new approach attracted some terrific supporters and we are grateful. However, we simply don’t have the momentum needed to meet the requirements of this project.
Depending on the situation, we may decide to try again someday. The backing community are wonderfully supportive of Jim Walls making a new game. Likewise, our team remains passionate about Precinct and are hopeful there is a way to make Precinct a reality in the future.
Rudy Marchant here, community manager of Precinct. We received some additional information on the Reddit AMA a couple of days ago and, while some questions were answered, clearly it didn’t have a lot of impact on the pledges so far. There are still many open questions which need answering and I would hereby like to share my opinion on the information we have so far, both on the game and the new funding model, as well as what I am recommending to the development team to finally get Precinct going, and going strong like the other Sierra projects over the past year.
What did we learn about the game itself? It has been stressed several times throughout the AMA that Precinct will be an adventure game, driven by a story. It will include procedural aspects such as court hearings, briefings and so on, but also story-driven missions with action around the driving (Jim particularly enjoys the driving interface by the way) and occasional events where you’re going to have to make split second decisions. The game is pretty linear in that the player needs to follow a trail of clues to solve the case, but is not as linear as the old Police Quest games in that the case can be solved in different ways, depending on the decisions the player makes. To further enhance the replayability, there will also be side-missions, which don’t directly impact the story. It is not a sandbox game though, but a story-based game, like the old adventure games.
To me that certainly shed some light on what to expect from the game itself – a good mix of adventure and action, pretty much like the old Police Quest games but more modern and with more variety. I would like to get a bit of info on the story and protagonist itself, but I don’t need to know in advance if there’s going to be a diving scene, or an airport or such specifics (although Jim did reveal that a SWAT team will also be in the game). Maybe you guys would like to ask these kind of things, and you will be able (see below), but what matters the most to me is that at least it won’t be some first-person shooter where all you do is race around the city and chase bad guys. It’s a story-driven adventure and that should have been made clear from the very beginning of the project. But now we know, better late than never.
That brings us to the new funding system which, let’s be honest here, is what keeps many backers from pledging again or at least pledge a lot less than during the Kickstarter campaign. Sure, the intention with this system is good, as stated during the AMA – “Our goal is to give people who pledge as little as $1 a copy of the game to reduce their financial risk and show progress early on. We really want to give the entire community a voice in the production and that’s how we tailored the new campaign.” That is all cool and I see their point, but without the time limit and non-refundability until either it gets charged when reaching the next stage or the developer decides to cancel the project (without specified conditions), many get the impression it is just a money grab with no obligation for the devs to commit themselves.
I would like to address several things here. First is the time limit. Many people seem to think they’re going to have to wait forever before getting anything, if they ever get anything, and meanwhile their money is pledged. Even if it’s 1 dollar, it just doesn’t feel right. Well, first off there actually IS a time limit and that time limit is defined by how much longer the devs are willing to work for free. Keep in mind that money only gets charged when the stages are reached. With currently only a good $10K pledged and already several months of preparation for Precinct behind them, I can say the first stage of 25K better be reached very soon. Same counts for the other stages – there is probably more time to reach those of course, but those guys would still like to get a pay check every now and then so, no, development will not run into eternity. As for specific dates, I think it’s pretty hard to set those – it’s the gaming industry, not to mention crowdfunded, so it is near impossible to pinpoint exact dates. Besides, that’s how you get Kickstarter projects that get entirely canceled despite missing the target by just a fraction. I know a date is set for the first stage though. I will for sure ask what timeframe they have in mind for the next stages. They should have an estimate about that.
Then there is the issue of pledging without having the guarantee to actually get the game if the 400K doesn’t get reached. That’s barely an issue in my opinion though. First off, there is no guarantee that through Kickstarter you’ll get anything either. That has already happened many times, so obviously people are even more cautious about this new system. The difference is that with this staged crowd funding, the development team isn’t asking the backers to pay everything up front and hope for the best before development even started. They do it piece by piece and the backers can follow progress, provide input and pledge as it progresses, or even simply wait at te sideline until they like what they see. So yes, it is in fact safer than Kickstarter.
Here’s how I do it:
I usually back projects (Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded, Pinkerton Road, Hero-U, SpaceVenture) with around $100 (yeah, I’m a pretty big fan, lol). I will also do so for Precinct but in this case I split my pledge into parts according to what the stages are worth to me, going from small to big as development progresses. For example $5 until the prototype is reached, add $10 until the Vertical Slice is reached, another $15 until the Demo gets released and the final $60 for the whole game release. If at any point I dislike how development goes, I can chose not to pledge more and wouldn’t be out as much money as I would paying $100 in one time as with a normal Kickstarter where I may get nothing at all. Here I would still have what I pledged for so far and possibly more since a one dollar pledge still entitles me to a copy of the game if the 400K gets reached. Of course if you want to be 100% sure to either get the game or not pledge anything, then that’s possible by only pledging after the demo gets released, but if too many people do that then obviously it will be hard to get to that stage of development in the first place.
The last point, and probably the most important one, that I would like to make on the funding system, is the non-refundability. That is the one thing in my opinion where Kickstarter is better and it’s a crucial point. Robert said during the Reddit that the non-refundability is implemented to prevent trolls from making fake bids. Sure, it keeps away trolls. It keeps away backers, too, and lots of them. Forget about the trolls, they come and go a few minutes later. But if we want to make our first target in time and actually get this project to effective completion, then what is needed is credibility so people can pledge with confidence. Confidence works both ways. Backers show they have confidence by pledging, Precinct needs to show it has confidence in its backers by allowing them to reduce their pledge or pull out entirely if they so desire. Get rid of the non-refundability – that’s how you make this work. I had a long discussion about this with Robert yesterday. I believe that in the end I persuaded him that not only would it be good, but in fact necessary. If so, I would prefer that he tells that to you himself so it’s official. The only thing here is that we can’t just flip a switch to disable non-refundability. It takes a few days of programming and making sure it works with the payment methods. It’s definitely on the table and I sure hope they will go for it.
Phew! And now the final part of this update (I tried to keep it short, really! lol). While I would love to see the project succeed, I do still have some questions myself both on the funding platform and the game itself. Questions related to things such as the stretch goals and the development time frame. I’m pretty sure that, after the Reddit AMA, many people still have other questions too, so let’s get those answered once and for all. I would like to do this properly, so there’s no doubt left about the game or pledging system. Please send any remaining questions (please try to stick to questions relating Precinct) to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be answered (my inbox will probably explode now, lol).
There, that’s about it for now. I hope I shed some light on the pledging system and the game itself and that you feel a bit more comfortable about the project. I’m sure I don’t just speak for myself when I say it would be a darn shame if Jim’s project wouldn’t get off the ground and even more so if even the prototype wouldn’t be reached, so let’s do this, guys. More updates coming soon.
Hey guys! Kind of a short update today because the team is still working on most of the same things they were working on in the last update.
We have a new narrative editor that was completed last week which is being used to make things way easier when getting the text in the game.
Mark and the rest of the art team are hard at work in getting scenes completed for the full game. Trust me when I say, things are really looking amazing and lives up to the standards that he has set for himself in the past. I’ll be posting something for you on this soon!
The development team have been hard at work rewriting some of the code for our event driven system that we are using in Unity(our game engine) to make life easier behind the scenes of the game.
We are still planning to put out a more polished version of the demoas soon as the underlying code is where it needs to be.
Thanks everyone!Chris Pope a.k.a your humble local intergalactic SpacePope
If you haven’t already heard, Police Quest creator Jim Walls along with his partner fellow Sierra alum Robert Lindsley decided to end their Kickstarter and run their own funding model. Please help support them by visiting http://fund.precinctgame.com/
I wanted to let you know that Jim Walls and I will be doing a Reddit AMA. It is happening Thursday, August 15th at 5PM ET. If you have any questions about Precinct, our new funding model, or just want to chat about all things Police Quest, please join us!
We will also be having a community chat next week. The chat will be moderated by Rudy Marchant (our Community Manager) and will also be a great opportunity to ask Jim and I anything you’d like. We haven’t figured out the exact timing on this, but will let you know as soon as we do.
As opposed to a typical video game crowdfunding campaign, our goal is deliver Precinct Backers solid accountability, more funding flexibility, and true collaboration between Precinct Backers and the Precinct game development team.
Instead of reaching a single funding goal and then asking our backers to simply wait and see what they get, our staged funding approach allows our Backers to weigh in heavily during the entire development cycle. Precinct Backers are NOT charged for a pledge unless the next funding goal is reached (currently $25,000).
Precinct Backers can pledge ANY amount they wish, at any time, and ALL backers receive a digital download of the finished game whether they pledged $1 or $10,000 throughout the project.
We have provided a full-featured community area, accessible only to Precinct Backers. We maintain a persistent dialog with our Backers, constantly seeking their opinions, suggestions, and feedback through forums, web chats, and online polls. But that’s not all we’re doing on this front. We are extremely happy to have SierraChest.com founder Rudy Marchant as a member of the Precinct development team. Rudy will not only manage the Precinct community but also attend design and production meetings to make sure the voice of the fans is heard loud and clear.
We also decided to make the campaign about the game, not elaborate and costly reward tiers that ultimately take away from the game development budget. Doing this has allowed us to reduce our minimum funding requirements for the full game by approximately $100,000. For those interested in items beyond the digital downloads, we have set up a store that will offer Precinct badges, T-shirts, etc. To learn more about how and why we are funding our game this way, please visit our FAQ’s section for more info.
$25,000 – Proof of Concept
This allows us to build and deliver you a short but playable sample of Precinct.
This Proof of Concept will clearly illustrate how the user interface will
operate and how the basic navigation of the game will function. During this
phase of development we will be working closely with the Precinct Backer community,
conducting polls and discussing basic elements of story and gameplay.
$90,000 – Vertical Slice
Hitting this funding mark will allow us to build and deliver you a more comprehensive
example of the Precinct experience without actually building the entire backend components.
This will likely be a partial or complete mission that shows off how you progress in the game.
Some of the game’s novel features and gameplay “hooks” will also be present. During
this phase we will be working with the Precinct Backer community,
incorporating feedback and suggestions from the Proof of Concept build.
$250,000 – Game Demo This funding level allows us to complete many of the required tools and tech
needed to deliver a final game. This is the official demo that is meant to immerse you
into the world of Fraser Canyon and the type of adventure that lays within. This
build of the game is to include a reasonable level of gameplay polish as
well as story elements. Backer collaboration will be critical at this stage as the
game will be very much solidified on its course to a final version.
$400,000 – Full Game This is the official release of Precinct, which is a product of our team’s hard work
and our collaboration with the Precinct Backer community.
JIM WALLS PRESENTS
ABOUT THE GAME Precinct takes players on a police adventure as Officer Maxwell Jones through the mean streets of Fraser Canyon, CA. Starting out as a rookie and then moving up the ranks, players face adrenaline charged scenarios and conduct real police procedures while solving crimes and arresting perpetrators.
In-Game Screenshot – On Patrol
Written by Jim Walls and some of today’s brightest Hollywood talent, Precinct features a gripping crime story based on true accounts of real police activity. As players clean up the crime ridden streets, the plot thickens with corrupt cops, greedy public officials, and a deadly struggle to break up Fraser Canyon’s criminal underground.
Gameplay Concept Sketch – Alley Confrontation
Gameplay Concept Sketch – Weapon Drawn
Playing in the first person perspective, Precinct’s real-time 3D environments and gameplay deliver significant realism to the classic police adventure style Jim is famous for creating. Along with staple elements such as adventure and puzzles, players also encounter intense fast action gameplay sequences that include shootouts, high speed car chases, investigations, foot pursuits, hand-to-hand combat, and more.
In-Game Screenshot – Arriving at Scene
Gameplay concept sketch – Bar Fight
Gameplay Concept Sketch – Non-Lethal Force Being Used
Jim is leading an effort to successfully combine original Sierra-style adventure with modern video game technology. The Precinct team is poised to redefine the cop-game genre by making a game that both classic and modern gamers can enjoy.
In-Game Screenshot – Approaching Crime Scene
Precinct will be released as a DRM-free digital download for PC and Mac with distribution across platforms such as Steam and our own website. If our stretch goals are met, we will be able to release Precinct on additional platforms (more about stretch goals below).
OUR CAMPAIGN Precinct Backers can pledge ANY amount they wish and every Backer will receive all prototype downloads, including a DRM free version of the final game when it is completed. Because we removed reward tiers that are typical in most crowdfunding campaigns, every dollar you pledge actually goes directly towards developing Precinct. We have also created a private community and polling system that will allow you to be a true contributor to the development process. As opposed to most crowdfunding campaigns where you are asked for money and then left with little knowledge of what’s going on, we have created a staged funding system for Precinct Backers, which is meant to deliver better clarity and accountibility throughout the Precinct development process.
Each Precinct Backer will have the option to include their name and Backer Level in the game credits. All Backers can also choose to proudly display their Backer badge within the online community on PrecinctGame.com too. The Precinct Backer Levels are as follows:
STRETCH GOALS If we are successful with our fundraising we are going to be able to make a great game. However, the more money we get, the better the game will be. Every dime we receive goes directly towards building Precinct!
$500,000(Awesomer) – At this level, we will be able to provide a more immersive gameplay experience. We will be able to produce hours of additional content and achieve a higher level of detail and beauty throughout the game.
$600,000 (Mega Awesome) – If we get to this level, we will be able to include more locations, more characters, a deeper story, and deliver a very high level of polish. We expect to release a Linux version at this level as well — if we hit this goal we will dedicate an engineer, tester and art person to Linux.
$700,000 (Badonk) – This level allows us to pretty much do everything we want to do for Precinct. In addition to more gameplay, more characters, more story, more polish, we expect to bring Precinct to iOS, Android, XBLA and PSN as well. You can also expect subtitled versions for the French, Italian, German and Spanish markets at this level too.
“There are few more storied franchises in adventure gaming than Sierra’s Police Quest series.” – Kotaku
CREATING POLICE QUEST Jim is a retired California Highway Patrol officer who left the force in 1984 after being traumatized in a violent shootout. During his recovery from the incident, Jim serendipitously met video game pioneer Ken Williams who was in the early days of growing Sierra On-line with his wife and company co-founder Roberta Williams. Ken asked Jim to design gameplay and write a story for a realistic police adventure series Ken wanted to make. Police Quest was born.
Jim Walls (second from right) with the early Sierra On-line design team. Company co-founder Roberta Williams in front.
Upon its release, Police Quest was an instant hit, wowing early gamers with a unique point-and-click adventure style and unprecedented realism for the time. Police Quest went on to have five sequels, selling millions of copies.
Most games fade to black in the game industry but the interest in Police Quest still burns brightly almost thirty years later. Possibly because of its deep storyline and the dedication it takes to play Police Quest successfully, the series has amassed a legion of fans from all over the world.
ABOUT SIERRA Located in the small mountain town of Oakhurst, CA, Sierra On-line was founded in 1979 by husband and wife team Ken and Roberta Williams. Through Ken and Roberta’s hard work, vision, and talent, Sierra became a pioneering force that was instrumental in shaping the video game industry and bringing home computer games to mainstream culture. Since the 1990’s, several mergers, acquisitions, layoffs, liquidations, and the departure of Ken and Roberta effectively rendered Sierra defunct. The company’s brand and remaining assets were last owned by Activision.
PRINCIPAL TEAM MEMBERS
JIM WALLS Jim has been in the video game business for almost 20 years and is considered one of the original pioneers of the adventure game genre. His game titles include Police Quest 1, 2 and 3, Codename Iceman, Blue Force, Blade Runner, Pirates – Legend of Black Kat, and Earth and Beyond.
ROBERT LINDSLEY Robert began working at Sierra On-line at just fifteen years old. Although already precociously well versed in programming, Ken and Roberta Williams brought Robert into the company to help box games and copy floppy discs. Robert was eventually given a shot at programming and it wasn’t wasted on him. Robert soon began coding professionally and eventually began producing. At Sierra, Robert worked on several classic Sierra titles including King’s Quest V & VI, Laura Bow 2, Mixed Up Mother Goose, and Phantasmagoria 2. After Sierra, Robert worked for Microsoft Games where he wound up on Microsoft’s Xbox launch team. Robert has also led development at Atari and Harmonix, shipping over 80 games in his career. Most recently, Robert’s credits include Rock Band, Ghostbusters, and Dance Central. Robert is currently Jim’s partner for this project.
SCOTT BUTLER An early employee of the pioneering game studio Argonaut Software, Scott has worked in the video games business for over 24 years. 11 of those years were spent at Sony Computer Entertainment as a senior artist and art director. Scott has shipped over 50 games in his career, including Kingsley’s Adventure (PS1), Croc: Legend of the Gobbos (PS1 & Sega Saturn), Neopets: The Wand of Wishing (PSP), Eyetoy: Play (PS2), and Ren & Stimpy (SNES). At just 17 years old in 1989, Scott began his career making games for the Amiga and Timex Sinclair computers. Over the years, as game technology, tools, and business models have evolved, so has Scott. He has worked on virtually every game platform possible, Scott holds a US patent for a game engine technology he invented in 2009.
JASON CRAWFORD Jason has spent nearly two decades as an entrepreneur and creative professional in technology. The last 12 years of his career have been in the video game industry. Jason has launched multiple companies, including a game development studio in 2001 with Precinct’s Executive Producer, Robert Lindsley. Jason has played influential roles in shaping the vision and logistics for several games and interactive initiatives with clients such as Acclaim, Hasbro, IAC, Atari, Sony, Samsung, Sesame Workshop, and Walt Disney Imagineering. Jason is currently the founder and studio director of Tiny Castle Studios, a new Unity3D focused game development studio located in Glendale, CA. Jason and his team have been instrumental in creating this fundraising campaign.
RUDY MARCHANT Rudy is a hardcore fan, collector and curator of everything related to Sierra On-Line. He was introduced to Sierra in the late eighties and became a collector from the mid-nineties on. By 2003 he joined other fans on the official Sierra forums, where he became moderator in 2006. His claim to fame came in 2008, when he created the Sierra Chest, a massive fan site covering everything about Sierra On-Line in detail throughout its entire history – his “life project” as he calls it. He is also administrator of Sierra Gamers, Ken and Roberta Williams’ personal Sierra fan site. Through his passion and work for Sierra over the years, Rudy has become a representative of fans worldwide. Being involved to some extent with basically any Sierra-related project in recent years, he connects the fans, alumni and game developers.
RISKS AND CHALLENGES GAME DEVELOPMENT The biggest issue in development is keeping the game within scope and making sure the project never goes over-budget. Our entire team is intensely aware of this issue and know we must be vigilant in managing it responsibly. Leading this effort is Precinct’s Executive Producer, Robert Lindsley, who has over 20 years experience producing video games. Working on small games up to hundred-million dollar AAA titles, Robert has a proven and unbeatable track record for shipping products on-time and on-budget. As with any game development project, Precinct will undoubtedly throw out its own unique challenges but those challenges will be met by a team of seasoned video game industry veterans that know how to solve problems effectively and responsibly.
TECH &PRODUCTION DESIGN It’s going to be an enormous undertaking building a lot of our own tech and tools above the already robust Unity3D platform. We created a game prototype of the world that not only shows off the art style, it was as an exercise to vet if Unity3D and our proprietary game editor will be possible given our minimum budget range.
GAMEPLAY Although upgraded to modern gameplay standards, we believe audiences will enjoy the fun of a realistic police adventure because of Jim’s past success with Police Quest. “If you’ve played Police Quest, you know exactly what Jim Walls is like, because that game is Jim Walls.” – Al Lowe, creator of Leisure Suit Larry and programmer on Police Quest.