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Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption Challenges

The Kickstarter for Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption has a new update on progress on this upcoming adventure/RPG from the designers of the original Quest for Glory (thanks nin). They show the latest stuff they are working on, and go on to outline some "new challenges" they are facing, in part due to being another Kickstarter that did not anticipate the costs of fulfilling their backer rewards:

Two of our team members have decided to reduce their involvement in the project for personal and financial reasons. Because we barely scraped by with $9,000 over our minimum goal, we were not able to pay for full-time work to any of our contractors. In fact, my current projections show Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption running at a $50,000 loss, mostly because I underestimated the cost of fulfilling all of the premiums. This includes the art time needed to customize Yearbook pictures, paintings, and statues, so that's good for the artists. But we also need to get all the game art assets, so the premium reward art is an additional expense to the project as a whole.

As a result, all of our team members are working on other projects simultaneously with Hero-U. Andrew Goulding and Eriq Chang have full-time commitments on other projects, and decided that 60-hour weeks before we even start Crunch Mode are more than they can handle. They will continue to work on specific pieces of Hero-U, but will not take part in the main development effort. Andrew is graciously allowing us to continue using his MacGuffin's Curse engine under the Hero-U code, so we still have that strong head start on development.

Lori and I are "more than full time", but of course taking only a cost-of-living salary. Lori is focusing on the story design and working with the art team. Currently, I am spending much of my time on reward fulfillment and other tasks needed to keep the project running. I'm beginning to feel a bit like Mortimer Terk, the overworked school administrator at Hero-U

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14. Re: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption Challenges Jan 26, 2013, 05:29 Orphic Resonance
 
jdreyer wrote on Jan 25, 2013, 18:51:
Orphic Resonance wrote on Jan 25, 2013, 18:18:

refunds will probably happen before that, dont you think

Not if they burned through all the cash before realizing it. You might get pennies on the dollar, but I wouldn't count much more than that.

that sounds fishy - i dont know all the contractual details about paying money to kickstarter, but im pretty sure you can count on a lack of litigious points in your favor
 
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13. Re: More Big Picture Details Jan 25, 2013, 22:54 Dev
 
HorrorScope wrote on Jan 25, 2013, 20:39:
Only $9000 over the minimum goal. To me it looks like $9000 over the maximum goal. Come on this game is pure indy, 400K isn't chump change.
It is when you are trying to hire a bunch of full time team members. Did you read the description above, that blurb that blue pasted?

Plus, if physical deliverables is $50k over, it wouldn't surprise me if they have less than $200k left after physical goods and fees and shipping are taken out.
 
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12. Re: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption Challenges Jan 25, 2013, 21:58 StingingVelvet
 
Why any of these do a physical option is beyond me, past perhaps a simple boxed version. The whole point of this kind of thing is digital distribution making publishers irrelevant. Physical trinkets cost money, more money than these developers expect.  
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11. Re: More Big Picture Details Jan 25, 2013, 20:39 HorrorScope
 
Only $9000 over the minimum goal. To me it looks like $9000 over the maximum goal. Come on this game is pure indy, 400K isn't chump change.  
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10. Re: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption Challenges Jan 25, 2013, 18:51 jdreyer
 
Orphic Resonance wrote on Jan 25, 2013, 18:18:

refunds will probably happen before that, dont you think

Not if they burned through all the cash before realizing it. You might get pennies on the dollar, but I wouldn't count much more than that.
 
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"It's just a bunch of mystic bovine scatology to me." - 1badmf
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9. Re: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption Challenges Jan 25, 2013, 18:18 Orphic Resonance
 
Cutter wrote on Jan 25, 2013, 18:02:
HTF do you miscalculate your budget by 50 grand? That's one of the problems with KS. This could become a common problem. And if it does then you're going to start seeing class-action suits.

refunds will probably happen before that, dont you think
 
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8. Re: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption Challenges Jan 25, 2013, 18:02 Cutter
 
HTF do you miscalculate your budget by 50 grand? That's one of the problems with KS. This could become a common problem. And if it does then you're going to start seeing class-action suits.
 
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"The South will boogie again!" - Disco Stu
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7. Re: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption Challenges Jan 25, 2013, 14:14 saluk
 
Yeah it seems really counter intuitive to me to provide rewards which cost more to make than the money they actually raise.  
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6. Re: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption Challenges Jan 25, 2013, 13:58 Dev
 
comment from lori on that update:
For others running Kickstarters, here's where I made my original projection error - I correctly guessed that more than half of our backers would choose the all-digital $20 and $35 tiers. In fact, those two tiers have 4,100 of our 6,100 backers. But I didn't stop to multiply that out. In dollars, those two tiers account for less than $100K of the $409K we raised. More than 75% of the proceeds came from tiers at which a high percentage goes to rewards. Result - Almost $100K in reward expenses, about $35K of which is actually part of the game in the form of paintings, Yearbook images, and so on.

Don't price things so you have to have a certain mix to be profitable. Price each tier so regardless of how many of that tier you sell, you can have a small profit (or at the least break even).
If you can't, thats what the limited quantity options are for.
 
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5. Re: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption Challenges Jan 25, 2013, 13:37 DrEvil
 
Dev wrote on Jan 25, 2013, 13:20:
jdreyer wrote on Jan 25, 2013, 13:16:
Yeah, I hope they are able to fulfill their obligations. I only ever subscribe to the digital DL level, I don't need physical stuff. I want the team to focus on making a great game and getting it to me.
Same, and I backed this too. I feel sorry about the stuff not working out, but I also fault them for not planning a bit better, and at the very least having some reserve budgeted for.

Unfortunately, I think we'll see more of this as developers that published games independently decades ago, then through publishers, and are now trying to do it independently again.

The market has changed drastically, and the cost of doing business has dramatically increased.

Corey and Lori Cole in particular are long-time industry veterans, so it doesn't surprise me that they may have underestimated the cost of doing these things. It was also somewhat telling that they fully expected to overfund their project significantly given the environment at the time (a costly mistake).

They were first developing games when the most reliable way to draw graphics was to draw them on graph paper first "pixelated" and then enter the corresponding hex codes for the colors into arrays written to files or compiled into a program.
 
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4. Re: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption Challenges Jan 25, 2013, 13:20 Dev
 
jdreyer wrote on Jan 25, 2013, 13:16:
Yeah, I hope they are able to fulfill their obligations. I only ever subscribe to the digital DL level, I don't need physical stuff. I want the team to focus on making a great game and getting it to me.
Same, and I backed this too. I feel sorry about the stuff not working out, but I also fault them for not planning a bit better, and at the very least having some reserve budgeted for.
 
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3. Re: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption Challenges Jan 25, 2013, 13:16 jdreyer
 
Yeah, I hope they are able to fulfill their obligations. I only ever subscribe to the digital DL level, I don't need physical stuff. I want the team to focus on making a great game and getting it to me.  
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"It's just a bunch of mystic bovine scatology to me." - 1badmf
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2. Re: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption Challenges Jan 25, 2013, 13:12 Dev
 
Protip (and most of this is general for ALL kickstarters): Make sure to get good estimates of physical rewards FIRST, before doing a kickstarter. And price the tiers with physical rewards high enough that they cover that. And the shipping. And some extra.
Yes, I can understand pricing everything at cost to get a project off the ground since any future non kickstarter sales are mostly profit, but the danger of doing that is that any unforeseen expenses means you are taking a LOSS at doing the project.
And make sure the minimum goal is what you can actually deliver the project for. Don't make the goal $50,000 knowing that you can't really do the game unless its $100k and saying "well surely we will get $500k since people will line up to get our game". If you can't really do the game unless its $100k, then make the goal $100k.

And make sure to add some reserve to cover things like this. If $20k out of $400k is enough to make you run at a loss (getting specific to using the numbers for this project), you didn't price things out very well. Thats only 5%, and 5% would be a reasonable reserve to budget for.
Edit: Somehow I read $20k, when it says $50k. Doesn't change my point, if they had a 5% reserve, they could have mitigated a large chunk of that.

This comment was edited on Jan 25, 2013, 13:55.
 
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1. Re: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption Challenges Jan 25, 2013, 09:28 nin
 

I feel bad for them (and hated to send the link), but I think it's also important to highlight that not every KS goes according to plan.

Hopefully things will work out. I'd love for this to be successful for them.

 
http://www.nin.com/pub/tension/
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