Last Era Devlog 1: Start of the Begining

Last Era Devlog 1: Start of the Begining

Today I decided on the work-in-progress name of the fantasy setting, and made a map for it! Might as well share a little bit about it with the world.

This is the start to what hopefully becomes a recurring devlog on a new fantasy setting called Last Era.

This is more of a preamble to the game, and talks about the goals we have for our games and company.

I have a few goals for this devlog; to openly communicate with fans, attract new players, and stay open to community feedback. 

I plan on communicating via these devlogs infrequently, with hopefully more if they pick up traction.

I spend most of my creative energy creating games (or running a business) and as such I don’t feel like the chutzpah to write often. I find writing to be difficult since I am super critical over my word choice, and thus I don’t write as often as I’d like to. By continually opening conversations with every new post, it gives me the chance to engage with others and do the writing I like without tapping into my “creative energy” reserve. (Even writing this takes something outta me because I constantly have to rewrite and edit as I go.) I have plenty of ideas and only a few ways of sharing them, this is probably the best format for that.

Recently I was reading about Hopoo Games’ development with Risk of Rain 2 and had a few revelations about indie game development. Their first game had gone the path of Kickstarter, and had won big time. Not BIG time, but extremely successful nonetheless raising over $30,000 on a $7,000 goal.

For their sequel they decided not to crowdfund and instead market it by engaging with their established fanbase with semi-regular devlogs. They were able to cultivate fans and hear direct feedback from their players to better craft their game into a “Overwhelming Postive” review score on the Steam digital marketplace. Insanely impressive and very based.

Listen to your players, and they will tell you what is good about your game, and what needs to change.

Thankfully I have experience with interpreting feedback with my escape room. There’s tons of comments about my games (X could be harder. Y would make the room cost 10x more, but would be kinda cool wouldn’t it?) and if I listened to them all my games would be a wacky funhouse fun of terror and Italian ice for families. Doubtful that business would work lol.

I’ll talk some about interpreting feedback in an upcoming devlog. 

I one feel like my time will be best spent working on the next game instead of focusing on running a KS campaign.

Marketing is incredibly important to be successful, yet it’s only helpful when it’s done right. Spending months working on the ttRPG seems more worthwhile than putting my eggs in the KS basket, just for it to potentially flop.

To me, making games is a long-term endeavor, I don’t plan on making it big at one time. I’m all about small victories that culminate in success! Kickstarter was the go-to model to market and sell your game to new players, but you still need to educate the market about your game…

That’s a lot of effort for one potential sale.

I’d rather reach out to retailers and maintain those relationships rather than trying to raise thousands of fans on my own.

Most people don’t casually browse Kickstarter looking for a hot new game to drop. Backers on KS hear about the campaign from elsewhere, and travel directly to the campaign page. Counting on gaining organic popularity on KS seems like a dice roll not in your favor!

And that all is to say the time, money, and resources my partners and I would have to invest into a campaign that may not pan out in the end. Spend $1.5K on a video that can only really be used for KS? Sign me up!

From my experience with the escape room, I’ve never regretted spending the effort to making my games better. With every game I try to push the envelope one way or another. The goal is not to make the perfect game, but to make a game that’s at least a little better than the last. If that happens, I've grown as a designer and I call that winning.

When I’ve made an game that really resonates with a player, I can tell.

They leave positive reviews, and they come back for more. It’s a sign that we did something right when a player has gone through all of my escape games. They are also the best kind of player too, they are the ones that talk about my games for me!

Without spending any additional money on marketing, I can get viral waves of fans to play the rooms all because they like the game. Wins beget wins! A fun place to be.

With Kickstarter, my strategy of having the game be fun and speak for itself lacks any sort of luster.

Of course there is Tabletop Simulator, but let’s be honest not all games translate well into that medium. Maybe I do a poor job of importing it to make it more user friendly? (We all tried playing Rough Draft on TTS and the drafting mechanics made that game ROUGH.)

So for now KS is off the table. The three partners are in a unique position in life where we all have an outside income and have enough saved to self-fund our immediate projects and are not reliant on any additional income. (It helps save a few bucks that we are scrappy and multi-talented.)

The goal is for that to change, but for now it’s more important to save every dollar we can and stay lean.

That wraps it up for one. I am a little fried from stumbling on proper word choice, but by the end of the writing it was much easier to keep the flow going.

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