Current state of the game and company, July 2015

Discussions of sales, marketing, offers, word of mouth techniques etc
no avatar
User

jam

Rank

Developer

Developer
Posts

2546

Joined

Wed Jun 12, 2013 12:24 pm

Current state of the game and company, July 2015

Postby jam » Wed Jul 29, 2015 11:59 am

State of the game
    * Visuals just went up a couple of notches, and we now need to reshoot our videos (current steam trailer sells it well short).
    * Expect stability and bugs situation to significantly improve going forward (I have NO further planned dangerous engine changes at present)
    * Feature wise I want smuggling, new combat and some utility stuff (e.g. new chat system) in at a bare minimum before we "release"
    * Smuggling is now stuck behind the law/issues system half coded and switched off on production servers and clients. ETA unknown, you'll probably see another surge in functionality soon. I am not happy with how laws and issues currently work in development and don't want to release until I like it. Laws/issues will lead to a lot more stuff than just smuggling so need to be right.
    * Assassination and bounty hunting would be great for release as well, if not they'll be targets 1 and 2 immediately after. This depends on funding more than anything.
    * UI work stalled with no funds to hire in expertise. We were looking for a time and then steam sales dropped a lot. If we can't get funds to hire expertise in, will do a few rounds of getting whatever professional but cheap or free feedback we can fenagle, and implementing it. This may have good results.
    * Would like to go full release around Dec or Jan, but unsure of funding situation


State of the company
    * We've made a few thousand sales and over *THIRTEEN* thousand wishlists. We're just now starting to get some traction with press (e.g. Massively, Scott Manley) so I see a bright future for this game if we can get to a full release state.
    * I believe a certain percentage of the wishlisters are waiting on the game to get out of early access, another fraction will be waiting for a sale, and another will be waiting on more development.
    * We have enough income and funds to complete the game with EITHER myself or George full time. I am unwilling to "downsize" in any way so have no option but to increase revenues more or less immediately.
    * If we DID downsize (either myself or George no longer full time), we would be immediately profitable. So the company and the game ARE NOT AT ANY RISK, just to be clear.
    * $5/month premium likely
    * Ships for sale on steam (probably DLC so one-offs) likely. I realise that will annoy people - sorry but I have no option but to live in the real world where I have to pay people, and I can't do that with wishlists
    * Steam subscriptions are needed - a good percentage of our exit survey respondents said they either would not or could not use paypal so we have an unknown, possibly significant amount of lost income there.


So that's the summary version of where we're at. I could talk for 24 hours non stop about everything that's going on, but I'll keep it brief for now, if only because there's a lot of other things I need to be spending my time on.

First I'll talk about funding. We don't need a huge amount more than we're getting to keep going as we are - literally a handful more sales a day and we're in profit. But just going on as we are isn't the best option. More on that below.

We're applying for some government assistance, and I expect this to be a waste of effort. I can't remember the last time a government did anything other than put its hand in my pocket or stick a giant red tape roadblock in my face.

Investors are always an option, and right now I see this company as a good investment prospect. We've proven the existence of our market, proven we can REACH our market (or at least we've begun to), proven that we can build and very very reliably operate the product, and proven that we can continually improve how it looks and plays. However, investor money means we lose independence, and I would go that way last.

Increasing subscription - in my opinion we're hilariously under priced at $3 a month, and don't see any coherent argument against increasing this to $5/month. Or even an incoherent argument.

Selling ships - this is pretty unpopular. I realise that, and I wouldn't contemplate it if I had better options, but I just don't. If a tiny fraction more people bought the game instead of wish-listing it, or we had some more press, I wouldn't even need to think about funding. But the fact is, a lot of early access games have come before us burned all the good will to the ground. Folks are suspicious, and keeping an eye on us at best.

We're also frequently compared with games like Elite, Star Citizen, and Eve Online - games with many millions of dollars of backing behind them and funding options I can't access or compete with. We aren't compared often with other "Indie" titles. We can't get away with "Stylised", pixelated or cartoony graphics. While I can reliably implement gameplay those big games don't offer, one thing I can't do is magically produce a couple of million bucks to fund AAA art and UI. I totally get why people don't want us to sell ships, but frankly it's hard to hear that criticism when a "competing game" has raised 85 million dollars selling ships for up to $2,500, some of which you can't even fly yet.

Next, I'll talk briefly about where I see this game going in the long term. I see a huge potential for Ascent. Huge. Its maximum market is hundreds of times the size of what it is today. However, as hundreds of people now have rightly pointed out, I alone, even with everything George can do (and that's been mind blowing), will NEVER reach that full potential. Or even half of it. We MUST hire other specialists, especially the prime example - a UI and UX expert.

I see a complete rebuild of the combat game as absolutely core to the strategy for getting a "full release" version. Our high end combat isn't bad, but the early on stuff is pretty dull, and the controls/flight model put newbies off right away. I think people start "space combat" with a set of expectations, and Ascent currently takes them right off the road at the first corner. But we've got some SERIOUS advantages ongoing. Ascent's terrain engine and the MASSIVE cities you have built are a great potential backdrop for space battles, and the AI NPCs can be expanded to make some seriously emergent gameplay that allows open ended co-op PVE combat - something nobody else delivers.

To me the fact that we've got as FAR as we have as a business with lacklustre combat is amazing, and it speaks to the high value of our other, constructive features, and the sheer size of the potentially untapped market we have begun to access with those features, as well as the probably even larger market if we can ALSO get conventional "space dogfights" working and morphing steadily into an improved coop version of the destroyer/cruiser combat game we currently have.

Outside of that one huge feature area, I see a massive potential in completely new gameplay emerging from our increasingly sentient NPCs. Smuggling leads pretty directly to assassination and bounty hunting (as individual NPCs build out their networks and smuggling empires - where can they turn for justice when betrayal strikes within their illegal business?), and NPC traders quite naturally lead to NPC piracy.

Then there's exploration. Yes, I want to put aliens in, and lost colonies, and lost civilisations, and anomalies, and wormholes, and oort clouds and kuiper belts and... you get the idea. All of these things require art assets that I don't have and weeks each of delicious creative coding. I can't wait. But I'll have to.

And let's not forget colonies, OSBs, gigantic ships to come and the combination of all three: Terraforming any sized planet. Epic, co-op, constructive PVE on a truly massive scale. Never been done before, and our server side systems are literally right now ready to work it. I'll want bigger ships first though - class 18 or 19 perhaps.

Speaking of ships, we have almost no specialist ships in the game right now. A freighter, a clamp-on, one carrier in development. But where's the hyperminer? Where's the scout? Where's the missile platform? For that matter, where are the missiles?

Someone shut me up!? You get the picture. We're just scratching the surface of the game I wanted to create the past twenty years. Right now, it's fair to say we've scratched enough of the surface to see the rough outline of a head and shoulders of a beautiful sculpture - and I can SEE and FEEL the rest, within our grasp. We have only to free it from the stone.
...............................................................................................................................................
Thanks for playing, thanks for posting, and thanks for your feedback!
no avatar
User

Horatus

Rank

Lieutenant

Lieutenant
Posts

117

Joined

Wed Mar 11, 2015 3:43 pm

Location

Austin Texas

Re: Current state of the game and company, July 2015

Postby Horatus » Wed Jul 29, 2015 12:14 pm

Shut up and take my money!!
no avatar
User

Horatus

Rank

Lieutenant

Lieutenant
Posts

117

Joined

Wed Mar 11, 2015 3:43 pm

Location

Austin Texas

Re: Current state of the game and company, July 2015

Postby Horatus » Wed Jul 29, 2015 1:42 pm

I have been hesitant to put in any feature requests so far. I understand products have a feature road map and a direction they are trying to go. As someone without real knowledge of the roadmap or the final direction some of my feedback may be counter your long term plans. I have tried to limit my ‘suggestions’ accordingly. I have faith you will choose a great path without my two cents of feedback.

1. I will buy a few ships, but other than assign them to NPC duties what will I do with them? I suppose I could sit on a few archons for ‘future’ events. I would like a bowhead, but I feel that should be reserved for the KS’ers. Us ‘steamies’ just missed the boat on that one unless you have something new lined up for this sale? Golden boats with glitter and sparkles?
2. I don’t know how you feel about posting a Terraforming device at KS prices (whatever that was). That may affect game balance a little/lot.
3. A lot of work is going into ship reskins. Any thoughts of allowing us to research or otherwise reskin our higher class ships with a lower class ships appearance, just larger? It would break up the see of archons we have floating around now (and before that a sea of seraphs). The extra work on the textures may not warrant the hours taken away from better features.
4. I know you said you wernt trying to scratch the simcities/skylines itch, but a lot of time goes into colony building and I think a fair number of us may enjoy those features down the road. For now function mostly dictates layout. I understand it would be a lot of hours not headed in the direction you may want to go. Perhaps a future expansion? exploration first right?
5. Would any of the player settled systems ever be considered ‘a core system’? perhaps with great effort players would build a starbase similar to those in the inner 9.
6. Star map. Can we get a reference point back to ceres or a minimap of the known galaxy? I find it difficult to orient myself and to understand fully where I am in relations to other systems/home. I need two flashlights, a starmap and some crayons to figure it out.
7. Can we get some sort of scripting/macroing. NOT botting, there seems to be confusion in the player base between those two items. I would love to be able to tell my ship start -> go vestra -> prime -> ultima -> blackhell -> colony. I then manually land, pick up what I want and I can have a return path programmed in. I’m just trying to find a way to relieve some of the manual clicking. This also applies to dome programing. Botting is playing unattended; this is being able to manually execute more than one command at a time. Hauling 23^5433 tons of gas anywhere..
8. Can we get more game/colony/npc/osb/isb/system/planet stats in game, or will we be expected to develop/use 3rd party apps like RAMs program? I would love to know how much of what my NPC’s hauled. It would be nice to be able to see that colony x is short on something and that OSB y is out of iron. As the settled universe expands keeping track of all of this will be bewildering. Most of this can’t happen until UI revamps unless the ships computer could dump to csv file or something… Perhaps an in game system chart/database? I currently have a notebook I scribble everything in system/planet wise but it is far too much data to record manually. (I’m reliving the commodore 64/286 days when you had to manually map out game maps!)
9. You implied (or perhaps I just read into that) OSB’s still have a lot of work to them. It would be nice if we would stylize them a little easier to our corp name or in some cases a giant space invaders game :P I know I know, you said exploration was the main focus of this game but there is a whole lot of building itch to be scratched here. Plus, there is something interesting when exploring the work of other players.
10. Colony planning, If we hit a square with a MB sample, could we get our client to record the results on a mouse over or perhaps we could put a marker of some sort down to record the boundaries of a resource plot? Perhaps like a night vision screen where known numbers popped up? When building mining/farming fields it is best to stake out the outer limits and then fill in the middle(at least for me). They often don’t follow straight lines so there is a lot of sampling to be done. You could place marker buildings and demo them later once you are done but some fields are large and some of those buildings can be a little hard to find later on.
Allright, enough frivolities for now.

Like I said earlier, Shut up and take my money!
User avatar
User

rmartz

Rank

Rear Admiral

Rear Admiral
Posts

3513

Joined

Fri Feb 14, 2014 2:37 pm

Re: Current state of the game and company, July 2015

Postby rmartz » Wed Jul 29, 2015 2:39 pm

PLEASE!

Raise premium.

Sell ships. (Sell the Bowhead before cl 14 ships hit).

Eat more than cat food.

Thank George.

George, thank James.

Co-op combat! (I really think this will offset the combat challenges in many ways until everything can be reworked.)

add OSB hospitals (you know I just had to add that).

PLEASE!


PLEASE DO NOT!

sell KS terraformers.

think we do not see the work you are doing and the efforts you are taking to let us have fun.

sell Louie (He has become a good mascot).


Thanks for the update and a window into the vision here.
Ingame accounts: RAM, rmartz
Check out RAM Memories.
Visit AscentExtras.com for player built game tools, guilds, and links to game related data.
I think I am funnier than I really am.
no avatar
User

Horatus

Rank

Lieutenant

Lieutenant
Posts

117

Joined

Wed Mar 11, 2015 3:43 pm

Location

Austin Texas

Re: Current state of the game and company, July 2015

Postby Horatus » Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:11 pm

rmartz wrote:PLEASE!

Eat more than cat food.


sell Louie (He has become a good mascot).


Thanks for the update and a window into the vision here.



.. If you are eating Louies food we would be more than happy to send you some bulk freight Raman..
User avatar
User

Holender

Rank

2nd Lieutenant

2nd Lieutenant
Posts

47

Joined

Sat Mar 28, 2015 2:05 pm

Re: Current state of the game and company, July 2015

Postby Holender » Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:41 pm

rmartz wrote:PLEASE!

Raise premium.

Sell ships. (Sell the Bowhead before cl 14 ships hit).

Eat more than cat food.



Agreed, Take my money! Seriously though, with the hours I spend playing this game you should be getting more of my cash.

I'd also pay extra monthly for another deed or OSB, so on top of my 5 dollars a month for 3 deeds, I 'd pay another 5 for a fourth or 3 for an OSB for example. If people want more let them pay for more, get em hooked with the low 5 dollars first, then offer extras at a cost. I know others have second accounts but I'd rather just have my holdings under one user and I want to expand.

Would pay real money for a Bowhead today! With that being said, have you thought about selling the blueprints on steam instead of the ships?

I can send you some maple syrup to enhance the kitty chow flavor.

Love your vision, love your passion. I'm all in.

Holender
no avatar
User

Horatus

Rank

Lieutenant

Lieutenant
Posts

117

Joined

Wed Mar 11, 2015 3:43 pm

Location

Austin Texas

Re: Current state of the game and company, July 2015

Postby Horatus » Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:55 pm

holender -- You can buy stand along SC for extra colonies and OSB's.

Did you know Canadian bacon is just ham?
no avatar
User

Rocksteady

Rank

Space Cadet

Space Cadet
Posts

5

Joined

Mon Jul 27, 2015 11:47 pm

Re: Current state of the game and company, July 2015

Postby Rocksteady » Wed Jul 29, 2015 4:09 pm

Interesting read, thanks for being so open about the development process.
I will give you some feedback from a new player perspective..as steamie.

At the moment I think you should consider that one of the strong points of this game is also a very low subscription price so increasing this might discourage potential customers from jumping off the fence.That being said I hope you will at least keep the different options open for lower price plans like you have now. Say an increase to 2$ per subscription plan and 5$ for the full package so you have a 1$ discount for taking all three. This leaves the door open for ppl that only want to experience one aspect of the game. Folks that are interested in 2 aspects are likely to choose the 5$ package over 4$. In the end the 2$ subs will probably upgrade anyway once the game gets more features (ships...we need moar ships) and hopefully a sleek UI. The latter is holding a lot of potential buyers back at the moment imo.

I also think that if you take the Starcitizen road by offering (expensive?) superior ships as DLC it might backlash for your game, especially on the steam forums. Star Citizen has a better selling point here because of their interactive ships and a lots more variety in eye-candy designs with loads of different stats and such. Plus they have a big name like Chris Roberts to give that extra nostalgia push (and BIG promisses) to wheel people in. However I dislike their method very much, it gives you the feeling you are just livestock ready to be milked.
I do understand where you are coming from in your search for extra funds and I am sure you have a much more reasonable pricepoint in mind. Still, I will have to wait and see how this plays out because I am not a big fan DLC games.

You have a good game here and I can see the potential for it to become great so if those things are necessary to keep development going in the right direction (meaning fulltime work) then I guess it just has to be done. I agree that downsizing should be wiped off the table. The UI should become a main priority at some point before actual release though, I am sure an investment like that will pay off bigtime in the long run.
User avatar
User

Mooncrest

Rank

Commodore

Commodore
Posts

1473

Joined

Sat Nov 01, 2014 6:19 pm

Location

MIB Tyngbraneth, Miner's Paradise

Re: Current state of the game and company, July 2015

Postby Mooncrest » Wed Jul 29, 2015 5:43 pm

Jam please:
  • Raise the Premium
    Keep the three options, though I think most players will subscribe to all three, but charge $2 per option. This will allow you to raise the price of the standalone Stellar Credits as well.
  • Sell the Bowhead and Hawk
    The people who were lucky enough to be able to contribute to the KS campaign cannot really complain if these ships are sold at the same price as in that campaign. I don't have either, but would love to have both, even if the Carrier and the Class 14 ship come out soon.
  • Do not sell the KS Terraforming Devices
    They were fine as a one off to get us started with multi-colony systems, but I feel it would unbalance the game too much if it were that easy to terraform planets as a general rule.
  • Keep doing what you are doing
    This is a great game with a fantastic potential that you will realise given your vision and enthusiasm. Keep the updates coming and keep up the battle with those nasty bugs.
  • Eat more oily fish even, if that's out of Louie's dish
    You gotta keep those brain cells firing.
no avatar
User

Horatus

Rank

Lieutenant

Lieutenant
Posts

117

Joined

Wed Mar 11, 2015 3:43 pm

Location

Austin Texas

Re: Current state of the game and company, July 2015

Postby Horatus » Wed Jul 29, 2015 5:48 pm

Poor cat! I'll post a case of wet food for him if Jam keeps eating it all.
Next

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

Powered by phpBB ® | Style by KomiDesign | Modified by Chris Valleriani