Cut, wrap, take ten, take a trip to Cuba

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Comments: 1   (latest 7 hours later)

Tagged: hadean lands, zarf, if, kickstarter

(Note: Cuba is metaphorical. I am not going to Cuba. Brush up on your famous movie quotes.)

There we have it; just over $31,000 dollars. (I won't say exactly how much over, but I know who you are.)

Thank you all. To those of you who thanked me, you're welcome. To the rest of you, happy holidays, and if you don't celebrate any near-term holidays -- go invent one. We'll wait. We're not proud. ("Or tired.")

In one sense, the hard part is now over. I can put aside my fundraiser's hat, which (trust me) doesn't fit my head at all. I can go back to designing games and writing code. That's all I've ever wanted, mostly.

In another sense, the easy part is now over. I'm no longer watching money roll in with the tide; now I have to row out and earn it. I owe you people thirty-one thousand dollars' worth of game. Time to get crunching.

And now, some questions from the audience!

What next?

I still have two more weeks at the day job. That will take some of my energy. Quite a lot, really, because (inevitably) the cliff crept up faster than I was expecting. I would like to get a lot more of my final day-job project nailed down.

At the same time, I need to start designing Hadean Lands. What, you think the game design is all laid out? I have a good sketch of how the game will go, sure. But I need to turn it into a story, and I need to turn it into a game, and I need to make sure these two things are the same afterwards.

For me, game design is not an activity that benefits from full-time effort. I can't sit down and say "let's work on this design for four hours." I have to cram it into cracks in other things. So it makes sense to start that process this week. When January swings around, I'll hopefully be in a position to start cranking code. I'll let you know.

What are you going to do with the extra money?

Well, look. When I originally wrote down $8,000 as my Kickstarter target goal, I wasn't holding a development budget whose line items added up to $7,997 plus a caramel brownie at Dave's. My expenses for developing this game are basically (1) new Mac Mini, (2) a year's renewal of my iPhone developer membership, and (3) a whole lot of postage at some point next year.

The point was to build myself time to work on IF. I could have done it by leaping into the abyss and burning away my savings. That's traditional. But I did that in 2005 (for a non-IF project) and it didn't work out. I've spent the years since then rebuilding my bank account. I hate repeating mistakes. I figured that working with advance funding -- no matter how much or little -- would be, at worse, less of a mistake. Right?

Again, $8,000 was an arbitrary number. (I nearly changed it to $10,000 at the last minute, but I couldn't convince myself it was achievable...) Realistically, $8,000 wouldn't cover my living expenses for the course of development. (I live in Boston. I am a 40-year-old sedentary geek, so medical insurance is both legally mandated and a damn good idea. And then there's Boston rent. And then there are the caramel brownies.)

Will $31,000 cover my living expenses? Who the heck knows. There are too many variables to contemplate a prediction. I'll either run short, in which case I'll dip into my savings -- or I'll run long, in which case I'll have more time for The Next Thing. Either way, $31,337 (for real) is neither a budget nor a deadline. It's breathing room. Far more breathing room than I expected.

What if Apple rejects the game?

Then, heck, I'll come up with something else. You think I have this all meticulously planned out?

The question arises because (by total coincidence) Apple just rejected an iPad port of a program I wrote. It wasn't me who submitted it, mind you. It was an open-source screen saver -- my implementation of an old IRIX screen saver. A fan of the program ported it to iPad and submitted it as a free app. Apple said "sorry, not sufficiently useful or entertaining". (You can download the source code anyway -- thank you, Shigeru Hagiwara.) So, there's glory for you.

Could Apple reject my app? Sure. Will they? I refuse to sweat about it; they've gotten clearer about their rules, and the horror stories have diminished in the past several months.

If I wind up an App Store statistic, my supporters will still get their game. Worst case, I'll upgrade everyone to the CD version. But I'm really not worried about it.

How will you distribute the iPhone version? Doesn't Apple limit how many freebies you can send out?

For people inside the US, I can gift the iPhone app -- there's no limit on that. Outside the US... I'll come up with something. See above. Maybe I'll mail a check to friends in other countries, and have them gift it. Maybe I'll mail you a physical iTunes gift card. Maybe I'll paypal you five dollars. Maybe Apple will relax its gifting rules, or the pig will learn to sing. I'll make something happen.

How about a graph?

I'm glad you asked.

Hadean Lands funding graph

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