Monday, July 30, 2012

In the News Again, and Desura!

Part two of the accountant-cy piece will have to wait. The accounting firm I contacted has yet to reply, so I'll have to find a different one. Pity, as the website for the one I contacted made them sound competent.

In the News

Instead, never content to keep things boring, reality threw a curve ball this weekend. First, NEO Scavenger was scooped again!

School of Hard Knocks - 'NEO Scavenger' Takes Survival Seriously

Dominic Tarason wrote a flattering piece on NEO Scavenger's upcoming combat and wound features. It's been about four months since NEO Scavenger made waves in the news, and I was getting ready to promote the upcoming build to some news outlets. Quite a lot has changed in the game since the last round of news, so I'm hoping folks who were on the fence might be ready to become supporters.

As with the last round, the news found me first. I guess I have a new-found reason to get that wound feature finished asap!


What's more, I received an email from a game manager at Desura, indicating they'd be interested in carrying NEO Scavenger. Cool!

Desura was a service I planned on approaching, but I figured I'd have to wait until closer to launch. Their howto page indicates that the game must be within a month of launch, which is probably not true for NEO Scavenger. I've been pushing NEO Scavenger's release date out as funding permits, adding new features and releasing new builds for supporters as I go.

Desura's alpha funding initiative, however, may make it possible to publish through them sooner than expected. This, of course, opens up a whole new series of questions, such as:

  • Downloadable Version - Desura supports titles for PC, Mac, and Linux. Since NEO Scavenger is a Flash game, what's the best way to prepare clients for each platform?
  • DRM - So far, NEO Scavenger has a type of DRM in that one must be logged into with a valid account to play the beta. However, I'm a fan of GOG's no-DRM policy, and eventually plan to migrate to a downloadable client without DRM. Is now the time?
  • Revenue Changes - Will anything change if revenue suddenly increases? There's no guarantee that a new sales channel will yield significant new revenue. But what if it does? Will NEO Scavenger scope increase? Should I keep scope small, and use the additional revenue towards future titles? It'd be worthwhile to answer this question now, while I'm sober.
  • Cross-Channel Access - What about players who already purchased beta access. Is there a way for me to tie their purchase at to Desura, so they can access both equally?
Exciting times, to be sure. There's never a shortage of unknowns in this business!


  1. Yay no DRM. I can see why you might want to wait for proper launch to do that though. Still I say just go for it.

    Don't increase the scope if you start rolling in cash. Finish everything up first, then maybe think about adding to it. As a solo game dev it's going to be a long time between drinks.

    I'm pretty sure you can give desura keys to existing customers, not sure how that deal goes between you and desura though or what is required.

    1. The idea of no DRM is scary, but it also feels "right." Part of me feels that it's a valid strategy to use the pre-order/pre-launch phase to pay for the development, and the non-DRM launch version is just bonus revenue/publicity.

      However, one neat thing about NEO Scavenger pre-launch is that the client is constantly being updated, so even a DRM-free beta copy may work: pirated copies are just outdated compared to the real deal (most of the time).

      Which is a nice segue into your next point :) I agree with using revenue carefully in a peak-and-valley revenue stream. However, I think the constant updating of NEO Scavenger is a lot of what makes it a good game now. I guess I could've launched v1, v2, and v3 by now, each progressively better.

      In fact, I'm seriously considering using the v1 engine to make a v2 with a continuing story and a few new features, so it may be the "best of both worlds." In any case, it should hopefully make the valley between v1 and v2 narrower.

      And re: Desura, I think you're right. I read on their site that they would honor purchases elsewhere. One just has to setup serials/keys. Just not sure how that'll translate for a game like NEO Scavenger, which uses login/password instead. Probably, I'll need to revamp the game to use serials in order to make it work on Desura in the first place. Hopefully, we'll find out soon!

  2. Congrats on the new-found attention! I remember reading a post-mortem for a game where the developer found that relentlessly promoting the game, responding to feedback, making fixes etc. was quite valuable as opposed to throwing it over the fence and spending the time starting the next project.

    Obviously it's a bit different for you since NEO Scavenger hasn't technically been released, but it's good to see your constant efforts bearing fruit.

    1. Thanks Doug! I definitely think the bug-fixing and feature development with a live audience is a major reason why folks like NEO Scavenger. Tossing it over the fence would've very likely fizzled as a business model. Choosing the correct time to say "done" is tricky, though.

      I've always maintained a "short list" of features and fixes that I consider to be necessary to launch NEO Scavenger, should the funding dry up suddenly. So I guess I have a scope in mind already, and I'm just squeezing bonus features in as much as possible :)

      But yes, it's nice to see fruit! Even tiny, underripe ones!