SpaceVenture Project Update #81: October 1st Update

Since the release of the alpha demo back in July, we have learned a lot. We’ve listened to your feedback and have done a lot more play testing. We’ve talked about removing things that didn’t feel intuitive and adding things that did. Obviously in order to do that, a good amount of code has had to be rewritten, but in saying that, the code that has been rewritten has all been for the greater good of the full game, not just stability for the demo portion of the game.

Since the demos release we now have a system in place that manages our narrative and allows for easier narrative updating for the writing of the game. We also just recently got a good system in place that allows for simpler cut scene management and implements narrative and VO to be managed by the game engine without having to do a lot of rigging.

More artwork and animations have been completed by Mark and his team. Ken Allen has also been pumping out more needed SFX and music for the game as well. In saying all of that we did lose one of our Unity programmers due to him having another contract he had to take on. That leaves us with an opening for a unity game developer.

We’d love to give someone a shot at this position if they are qualified and a fan of what we are trying to accomplish 🙂

Requirements:

  • Experience developing with Unity 3D (2 or more years)
  • Must know C# 3 or more years
  • Shipped Titles
  • A passion for adventure games
  • Able to work with a small team in a virtual office
  • Must be able to work a minimum of 20 hours a week

If you are interested or know someone who may meet our requirements, please contact me directly. Email: chris@guysfromandromeda.com

Chris Pope a.k.a your humble local intergalactic SpacePope

PS- I will be at the Geek Media Expo in Nashville TN from Nov 1st – 3rd and would love to meet some of you. Drop by and say hi if you can! 🙂

Pinkerton Road Project Update #49: Some News.

– The MGX announcement is coming very soon. We have approval from the publisher on a press release and screenshots and are just working on finishing up the website, a first interview, etc. We’re aiming for around the week of Oct 8th! A certain blue bird will have the first peep so if you’re on twitter follow jensen_jane. I’ll send out a special message to the CSG that day also.

– The Moebius ch 3 & 4 beta — I wanted to get it out in Sept but we’ve been busy trying to get the last of the Moebius VO sessions done (we go into the studio on Monday) and also get through our first full pass on content (a rough logic pass of ch7 is almost done). There are a few things that came up last beta that I wanted to improve — like the in game analysis — and have you guys test. So my new goal is to have that beta out by mid Oct.

Have a great start to my favorite month — October.

Jane

Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded Project Update #71: A Special Message from Al Lowe

Hi everybody, it’s Al Lowe again.

My buddy Larry Laffer and I need your help. Ever since Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded shipped, we’ve been working on a major update and now it’s ready for testing. We’ve added some cool new enhancements that I can’t wait for you to see! But before it gets released “into the wild,” it needs to be severely tested. I can’t think of anyone better than YOU to see it, stress it, bang on it, and otherwise wring out the bugs! What I’m trying to say is: I’m looking for some good game testers for the next version of Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded. If you can help, you will need:

· a PC (not phone, tablet, Mac, etc. just yet)

· to be detail oriented

· to be able to give up about 3 hours a day for 3 days this week (and maybe more?)

· a Steam account (or we can’t get the new version to you)

· to be willing to file bug reports via email at the end of each testing session.

· to keep notes and screenshots of bugs found (in case we need them later)

Think you can “rise to the occasion?” (Unlike Larry!) If you have what it takes, email my buddy Chris Myers, cmyers@replaygamesinc.com, to apply.

And help us reload Reloaded!

SpaceVenture Project Update #80: September 16 Update

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!

With love,

Chris Pope a.k.a your humble local intergalactic SpacePope

Media - Image

Being #DownRightAwesome.

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!

With much love, Tawmis!

http://tinyurl.com/DRA2013Tawmis

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.

Poem I Wrote For Dexter.


SpaceVenture Project Update #79: September 1st Update: Chugging along!

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

Precinct Closed.

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:

 

Hello Friends,

 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.

Precinct Update from Rudy.

Hey guys,

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 rudy@jimwallsreloaded.com 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.

Thanks!
Rudy

SpaceVenture Project Update #78: August 16th Update: New narrative system and event driven system

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 demo as soon as the underlying code is where it needs to be.

Thanks everyone!Chris Pope a.k.a your humble local intergalactic SpacePope

P.S –

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/