A stealth puzzle game that lets you rewire its levels to trick people.
Out now! $10!
Windows, Mac and Linux soon.
Solutions! And a place to report them.
Here's the formal permission bit.
Find out when I release a new game, and when there are opportunities to test them.
By Tom Francis. Uses Adaptive Images by Matt Wilcox.
I get this question a lot, which is lovely because it suggests people want to support the game and are happy to pay to do it. Thank you! I will very much want you to do that at some point!
Kickstarter is awesome and I may need it some day for something, but not Gunpoint. Here’s my thinking.
Kickstarter is meant to enable the production of things that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. Gunpoint is possible! I’m making it right now! I’m sure if a pile of money dropped on me, I could find some development use for it, but fundamentally the game does not need money to be completed. Asking for it on a funding site would be dishonest.
Gunpoint will be made, but will it be good? I hope so! I’m pretty confident. But that’s not a certainty. And if I start selling it now, I’m gambling with money that isn’t mine. The people giving it to me are obviously fine with that, but that’s not enough. It’s my responsibility to make sure any deal I offer is a good one for you.
I think about this a lot, now that I’ve started a company and I’m working on something I will eventually sell. Covering the games industry right now gives you a deluge of ridiculous stats about ridiculous pricing concepts that make ridiculous money. Here’s an incredible quote from senior game designer at Amazon.com, Nik Davidson.
“We like to think that the ones spending vast sums on these [free-to-play] games are sons of Dubai oligarchs, but we have the data to prove that they’re not, and that they probably can’t afford to spend what they’re spending. We’re saying our market is suckers — we’re going to cast a net that catches as many mentally ill people as we can.”
The questions of “what will people pay for?” and “how much?” consume people. They’re turning up some surprising answers, and the answers are becoming the new rulebook for how to sell games.
If those are your only two questions, you’re primarily a businessperson. I’m not really interested in that. I want to be able to answer the other questions: “what would I pay for this?” and “would I be glad I did, a month later?” I need to be certain of the answers to those before I take anyone’s money.
It’s great that I already have some people’s trust, but I won’t use that until I’ve earned it. I don’t believe in just taking people’s money any time they’re willing to give it, or in charging whatever people are willing to pay. It’s my ethical imperative to make sure what I offer justifies what I’m asking for it, and I can’t be sure of that until it’s done.
It has been pointed out that I could make Gunpoint faster if I quit my job, and Kickstarter money could enable that. The first part is definitely true. The second part isn’t.
I can’t quit my job unless I have another one to go to. One day indie game development might become that, but a successful Kickstarter isn’t a career. Getting a lot of people excited enough to give you money is not the same thing as being a good game developer. I have to actually become that before I’ll give myself a job doing it. If I’m going to employ myself, I need to become someone I’d hire.
(If I ever do go into development full time, by the way, I won’t stop my games writing.)
Then you are a useful and attractive person to know! Please come back! Right now, you can make Gunpoint’s main artist John Roberts very happy by ensuring the next thing he gets to work on for his day job is the next goddamn Elite!
And you can make my friends Jim and James very happy by backing their robot Stalker-like, set in a gorgeously gloomy countryside generated by the clever algorithms of Tom Betts.
And you can fight drunk skeletons in Sui Generis! Back that! I badly want this kind of physical combat to take off.
Ben Hale: While I completely agree with you and admire your need to elevate your self-worth to a point where you could accept funding guilt free, I don't think you're giving yourself enough credit. The thing you have over a lot of indie-developers on Kickstarter is a working prototype to show the public. Tim Schaffer can get away with saying "I have an idea. Please help me make it." because he has a proven track record. The kickstarters I get excited about are the ones where you can already see the game working and the money is going towards finishing it or adding more to it. "Volgar the Viking" and "Mercenary Kings" are two that spring to mind.
So I think its worth a shot. I personally wouldn't feel taken advantage of. Your game looks like a lot of fun and you seem to already have the core mechanic working. Either way, best of luck.
Mr. n: Dear Pentadact, please, please, please don't make the same mistake that big game developers make nowadays - i.e. charge 49.99€/$ for a new game. That is both completely ridiculous and... purely silly.
and others have proven already that the more you charge for the game, the less you both sell and earn.
On the behalf of all unemployed and poor postgraduates who want to play your game very badly - please, don't make the pricetag prohibitive. In central-eastern Europe you can eat (big) for two or more (cheap/small) days for 12$ - I can skip one dayful of meals easily, but...
Sir Carolus: Mr. n - I don't think there's any danger of that whatsoever. If you've been following Gunpoint's development - heck, if you know Tom at all - it's obvious he's not in this for the cash. He wasn't even going to sell Gunpoint until recently, when the cries of the masses practically forced him to attach a price tag.
I have the utmost faith that the game will be priced more than fairly, and that you'll definitely get your money's worth. If you're unsure, read a few of Pentadact's articles. He's that kind of guy.
Hey: Just saw your Hitman Absolution review... came off like a bit of a douchebag. Do you really review games with a Radeon 4800? What a joke...
Caleb: For the record, coming into someone's personal blog to complain that in their work elsewhere they come off as a bit of a douchebag makes you come off as a bit of a douchebag. :P
Jason L: And as noted elsewhere for the hard-of-reading, that was one of the systems he ran it on so he could go out of his way to praise the improvement in performance. You butthurt douchebag.
Jason Love: I think using Kickstarter is useful for people who can't afford to finish a project. I think it is great you are making the choice not to if you don't need to use it.
There are, however, added benefits to Kickstarter.
1) Marketing. People finding your project before it is launched.
2) Schedule. With people having expectations for a project by a specific date, it forces people to finish their project on time.
3) Fans. Allowing people to support your project early gets them jumping into your band wagon and becoming a fan. People love to brag about how they helped a project get funded.
Sorry for the long post. I hope it helps others considering a Kickstarter campaign.
Skyler: People are suggesting that you make a kickstarter video because you can get people aware of your project before it's even finished but here's what I think. Here I am. Just a regular guy on stumbpleupon.com and suddenly i find an indie game that attracts my attention called Gunpoint. Four months later, I think to myself "What was that game called again? I can't find it anywhere," So today I literally searched through a good portion of my stumbleupon history just to find this site once again and link it to my facebook because I'm genuinely interested.
You may be wondering if you're crazy for not charging money, but here's my thoughts. If you release it for free, people will download it right and left. More people will know your name. If you have it ported to phone app stores, you have an actual recording of how many people download your game. All of this is information that you can put on a resume. Consider this your portfolio piece. Seems like you're just dipping your toe in the water and asking "Is it warm?" and people are saying yes, but I'm saying it'll be a full blown hot tub if you let it be free.
Regardless of if a big company comes and hires you because of this work, or if you decide to make another game, your next game will be given a lot of attention. Take "Cut The Rope" and "Angry Birds," for example. They have spin-off's of their first games. They have micro-purchases and some of them you need to pay for. These are some of the top downloaded apps in the mobile market. I don't know if you have a full blown story around Gunpoint, but it would be cool to see one. And I think it'd be interesting to see the gameplay evolve and see where a story would go with sequels. It'd be nice to have some sort of scifi explanation as to how he can rewire a building too.
Ezzer: >It'd be nice to have some sort of scifi explanation as to how he can rewire a building too.
Magic, got it.
Jon: Best of luck, Tom. Your morals and accomplishment is very inspirational. It seems to me that you've put a significant amount of work into Gunpoint - I think you deserve to reap the rewards of your efforts by putting a price on the finished product.
KevD: Just saw your game on Random Encounter. It looks brilliant. Can't wait to play it. Keep up the great work!
dave: That's a lot of words to justify a decision not to use Kickstarter. It's not the first pile of words I've seen on the same subject. They are some mighty fine words, but they are still just words. Too many people have spent too much time trying to put their gut feeling into words. If kickstarter doesn't feel right to you, then it just doesn't. Don't let anyone tell you that makes you a bad person, or a silly person. You made Gunpoint and it is awesome (just finished my first playthrough), so you are dfeinitely not a bad or silly person.
I regret this already
For questions about what tools I used and when things are out and what platforms they're coming to, see here.
URLs get turned into links automatically. You can use <i>HTML</i> but not [b]forum[/b] code. If your comment doesn't show up, e-mail me - the spam filter's just detained it for questioning.