(This is a long update, so in summary … there’s a (short, rough) demo available! And the game is gonna take a veeerrry long time to complete without additional funding, like Kickstarter or something. And we want your opinion on the matter! But please, read on …)
As you may have noticed, we’ve dropped off the edge of the Earth for the last couple months or so. What is our tale of woe? Gather round SteamSaga’s low-poly fire, my friends.
Back in 2013, we were making the rounds at conventions, some of us [i.e., me] far too confident in our ability to get an RPG (short, yes, but pretty darn complex, with a brand new AI system and 3D art) done by our original release date of 31 October—a mere six months after properly getting started. The schedule looked lovely and practical, all laid out in Microsoft Project, and I was seduced by an incredibly good start to our venture. Characters were leaping off the page and into the computer, art assets went from moodboard to sketch to 3D animated creatures in barely more than the blink of an eye, AI systems all go … all looked good … and then …
Well, then reality hit. Going to the conventions gave us some valuable feedback, along with a very heartening flood of goodwill and interest (thank you!), and we wanted to adjust a few things. (We also met with a Sony rep, and that also gave us good feedback … and more adjustments we wanted to make.) For example, the story I’d written never really grabbed anybody but me (that being the story on the backs of the postcards we were handing out); I think I had a case of 1980’s fantasy mixed with a shot of old-style D&D, along with hefty amounts of Final Fantasy—none of it bad, but not exactly new, either. Then I played some very nifty indie games (including Digital: A Love Story by Christine Love, and Blendo Games’ Thirty Flights of Loving), and Epiphany! I was released from the Old Ways. (Which is funny, since my AI system is all shiny and new … must’ve been using all my creativity for that …) So we asked for some extra help on the writing front, and a new, cool, mysterious, fun (funner?) storyline was created. Which, of course, took time.
We also discovered that the game’s already cool art style could be enhanced by all kinds of fun tweaks and twists, including particle systems, various kinds of shading, different animations, etc. Possibly too much ‘etc.’, actually, as all this also took time. Lots of time.
The conversation system had to be invented fresh as well (that’s where my OTHER creative brain cells went!), in order to show off the AI system as best we could without trying to invent a way to use natural language processing in an RPG. And it’s very cool … but it also took, you guessed it, time.
And 31 October came and went, and then Christmas, and then January … all with errant promises from us about when we’d have the game out, or even just a demo … until I felt kinda broken-hearted from it all.
And while I already seem to be playing the weepy weepy violins for myself, there was another reason it all has gone into “go slow” mode—money. For while we had the proper budget for a game coming out at the end of October, or even stretching on to the end of last year, the money began to run out after that. And so, to catch ourselves in a Catch-22, we had to get paying jobs to supplement our incomes (to BE our incomes), and then work on SteamSaga when and where we could, after work … and thus there were even fewer hours to put into the game, which meant it would go even more slowly, which … well, etc.
What does all this mean to you?
Right. So we’re still coming out with SteamSaga, and we have a fifteen-minute short-short demo RIGHT NOW (yea!) that you can download from www.quantumtigergames.com/steamsaga/SteamSagaDemoSetup.zip. It ain’t all polished up, the music isn’t necessarily what we’re using, and it’s the tiniest of story arcs, but it shows the basic elements of the game. You can play as any of the four main characters, Fighter, Healer, Thief, or Bard—in fact, you get a different experience playing as each of them! The personality changes are ratcheted up to eleven, so the tiniest actions you take have outsized effects on how the characters react to you; you can see this at the end of the demo, or possibly even in battle, if you’ve pissed someone off enough that they won’t fight for you. Or if they’ve lost all respect for your leadership abilities. And of course you can replay it to see how your choices change the way people react to you. (So really it’s more than just a fifteen-minute demo!)
At our present pace, the rest of the demo (about an hour of gameplay overall, just playing as one character) will be done by the end of the year. And then, if nothing else changes, it’ll be about a year before the whole game is complete. Yup, only two-years-plus late. Ack.
Can We KickStart It? Should We?
One option to get this moving faster is to put the project up on KickStarter. I estimate that for every $5000 raised, we could knock a couple months off that release date. (To a point, obviously; $25K isn’t going to get the game done yesterday.) If we were to ask for $5K, that would move release up to maybe summer of next year; $10K would move it up to spring-ish of the year. Actually, I wouldn’t want to promise any sooner than that. But what do you guys think? Try KickStarter? Don’t? Try something else? Please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our forums at www.quantumtigergames.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=11 and let us know. We REALLY, REALLY value your input, so please give us any thoughts on the subject.
Thanks so much, and we’ll chat again soon!