We Are Not Invincible

Sometimes, in order to rule the world, you have to break a few cities!

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Erinys
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We Are Not Invincible

Post by Erinys » Tue Jul 01, 2014 12:30 am

Recently a very good friend spoke to me privately about the current Kerberos crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Specifically, he was telling me that he was not surprised that so few of the people who had supported our Kickstarter Campaign were following our team to support our game on a different crowdfunding platform.

I had said that I couldn’t understand why less than 20% of our former supporters were still willing to pitch in, when we had actually found a way to offer them a better deal for their support. And what he told me…truly alarmed me.

He said that people didn’t actually believe that we needed their support.


Our Kickstarter failed, and we found a reason to persevere and came up with a new plan that would still allow us to make a game. And they assumed that because we were willing to do that, it must mean that crowdfunding doesn’t really make a difference to us!

He also told me that this false assumption was specifically my fault. Because I misspoke myself somehow, in an interview. I was too positive about things. I was trying to find a reason to be happy or upbeat about something pretty awful--a failed Kickstarter. But by putting ANY positive spin on a bad situation (“It’s a good promotional opportunity for a small team like us!”), I had somehow convinced people that their crowdfunding dollars were not needed, that Kerberos would be just fine without them.

No, folks. We are not fine without you.

Without your support, we suffer a great deal and we have to rack up debts to continue working.

We have to take on side gigs that take time away from the games we want to make for you.

And we have to slow down the whole long road to recovery, the process of getting out of debt and getting enough revenue coming in that we can go back to making the more ambitious games that you remember from the past.

Please try to understand the economics of what we do. When we departed from Rockstar in 2004 and began working together independently as a team to make the original Sword of the Stars, it took more than half a million dollars of our personal funds and volunteer man-hours to make the game.

We still had to partner with Lighthouse Interactive to give the game its finishing touches, particularly the sound, voice-acting and music, and to get the game onto store shelves and into the hands of consumers.

When we broke with our last publisher in 2012, we had to start over again…and this time we had less than nothing. After eight years of brutally hard work and sacrifice, in other words, we were actually WORSE OFF than when we started! We had been driven into debt, and had to work steadily for months to get out of it.

Our plan is working, it’s true. Our new games are good, a return to the quality of our past work. And we’ve refused to give up, no matter the pain and the cost.

But the price we’ve paid has been very high. We have to live incredibly close to the bone, all the time. And when we ask for as little as we possibly can for a crowdfunding campaign, and we still can’t get the minimal budgets we ask for…it is very painful.

Times are hard. The team and I have been staying as positive as we can over the past couple of years. Despite the pressure we’ve been under, we’ve done our best to stay strong and upbeat, to do the best work we can, to remain creative and engaged, and to be true to ourselves, our audience, and whatever crazy cock-eyed Muse makes us believe that games are Art, and that we should devote our lives to them.

We’ve done our best to keep the Stiff Upper Lip and the brave face on, not to give in to bitterness or to complain about the tightening of belts or the reductions in salaries.

But the fact that we haven’t complained doesn’t mean that we don’t feel pain. And it doesn’t mean that eventually we won’t run out of steam, spiritually AND financially, if people are never going to be willing to show faith in us and fully support our work.

I’m sorry if we somehow gave you the impression that we were invincible.

No one is invincible.

We need you.

--Arinn

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Resok
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Re: We Are Not Invincible

Post by Resok » Tue Jul 01, 2014 1:28 am

Thanks for sharing that insight Arinn. There's always been a reason why I've been as generous with my support as I have been so far.

Sometimes it's tricky to fight against the unfounded expectations and assumptions of others but a post like this at least helps spell things out to the folks on the boards. Maybe a similar post as a campaign update with similar information would help spread that clear message elsewhere as well?
- Resok

Ebondragon
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Re: We Are Not Invincible

Post by Ebondragon » Tue Jul 01, 2014 3:02 am

Thank you for sharing all that Arinn. I know you and everyone else at Kerberos doesn't hear thank you often enough. So I'd like to say thank you again for everyone's hard work and dedication there. You all have had a really difficult road, but we're glad to support you all as best we can.

--Ebondragon

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Re: We Are Not Invincible

Post by Vanish » Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:51 am

Thank you for this heartfelt piece.

While it is true we live in a society that tends to favors judgment, I believe that a statement along the lines of "Crowdfunding is an excellent way of spreading the word for an indie team" is well-understood and accepted in the crowdfunding world (even if it was somewhat implied in this case). This is part of why the PC indie community is so great - they can be surprisingly perceptive (although, I agree that it is always better to be safe).

About the financial aspect of things, this indeed needs to be said. I continue to learn about the various costs of game development currently, and it mortifies me when I think of the assumptions I used to make... it is all too easy to take certain things as granted. Light, approximate figures like "total development cost/second" or "breakdown of costs in a short cutscene" can be interesting ways to present this.
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Erinys
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Re: We Are Not Invincible

Post by Erinys » Tue Jul 01, 2014 6:20 am

Many thanks for the kind words and support, and the good advice. I've re-posted this as an update to the old Kickstarter campaign as well.

I'll admit it is hard to know sometimes exactly how to tell people that you need them, or how big the difference they make in your life can be.

Just thought it was time to say that you ARE needed and appreciated, and that doing without full support from our players is very painful. In many ways.

--Arinn
Support my independent fiction campaign on Patreon.
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BlueTemplar
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Re: We Are Not Invincible

Post by BlueTemplar » Tue Jul 01, 2014 6:41 am

Question : Are those $20,000 going to be enough, or is that number over-optimistic too?

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Mecron
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Re: We Are Not Invincible

Post by Mecron » Tue Jul 01, 2014 6:49 am

What do you mean by "over-optimistic too"?

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RobAK801
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Re: We Are Not Invincible

Post by RobAK801 » Tue Jul 01, 2014 10:34 am

I think BT is asking if you need to tighten your belt another notch at 20k or is it enough to carry on as is.
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marshb
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Re: We Are Not Invincible

Post by marshb » Tue Jul 01, 2014 1:03 pm

In short: our games always get made, and the planned content will always be made available to players. The greater support we receive in advance, the more quickly, efficiently and cheaply we can produce the games and their content. That is the difference your support makes, and it is a big one.
From the Indie-a-gogo page.

I feel like shit for pointing this out, (I wasn't going to anyways until now) but statements like this also gives the impression that no matter what potential supporters do, the game will get made period. Maybe less is more in this case (for crisesakes, it's kerberos' s honesty and integrity that keeps me coming back! Should'nt that be enough for anyone!? Why should they have to be more "subtle"?! Sheesh!).

Now if you don't mind, I'm going to sandblast my tongue and bathe in acid. :|
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Hari Seldon
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Re: We Are Not Invincible

Post by Hari Seldon » Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:42 am

Ouch. I hope that the profits you get from your crowdfunded games snowball as you make more because I hope that you get to keep more profits from the games that you did not have to fund through a publisher.

Or that you become massively popular like some music artist that makes it big.
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Re: We Are Not Invincible

Post by CrystalDragonSora » Wed Jul 02, 2014 3:51 am

Reading this brings even more clarity. I'm not sure how to properly put how I feel into words, so I'll just go with: Thank you, for everything. You deserve all the supports. Really, you do.
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BlueTemplar
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Re: We Are Not Invincible

Post by BlueTemplar » Wed Jul 02, 2014 9:45 pm

RobAK801 wrote:I think BT is asking if you need to tighten your belt another notch at 20k or is it enough to carry on as is.

Exactly. From what Erinys is saying, I get the feeling that even with 20k there's still a high risk of Kerberos going under. Looks like we really have to strive for more.

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Mecron
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Re: We Are Not Invincible

Post by Mecron » Fri Jul 04, 2014 6:08 pm

Blue. we appreciate the concern but we don't present plans that are doomed to failure. Getting us the minimum we need to make a game WILL get you that game. That being said, getting to stretch goals just makes things better for everyone ;)

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skugge
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Re: We Are Not Invincible

Post by skugge » Mon Jul 07, 2014 3:33 pm

Im not sure what i thought about this.. Well i thought you were better off then what im hearing now ofc but that has to do with other things then what your friend pointed out. Mainly you having successful games under your belt.

Anyway i would like to say a thing here. I have never devoted myself to fundings and forums towards a company. When i was much younger i was a square fanboy, true, but i just played their games. Today i am an active member on Kerberos forums and i pitched in on the Kaiju project and the main reason for this is... Sword of the stars: the pit. Its my favorite game of all time probably. Its fighting alongside final fantasy 7 and tactics but probably today more on nostalgia then anything else that those two are there. The pit just blows my mind, still today. And my mind was blown even further when you released expansions to it which was just as amazing. Because you have given me this i want to support your future games. Not because i think you are nice guys and not because of your attitudes and moral standings. I mean thats all fine but i love your game and i believe that if i support you i am contributing somehow to the making of future games that are just as epic. So please just be who you are and keep doing amazing stuff.

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Korgan
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Re: We Are Not Invincible

Post by Korgan » Wed Jul 09, 2014 2:04 am

Sad to see things the way they are, and that unfortunately your friend is probably pretty bang on with his assessment, Erinys :(
People are strange beasts, and crowd funding is stranger still. It hurts to see you guys having to struggle to meet your bare bones goals for a game, yet something like a $10 goal kickstarter for potato salad is at 65k and climbing after 6 days :P
I'm sure many of us here wish we could do more to help you.

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