Jan 152013

So the official first public look at Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4 is tied up in bureaucratic red tape at the moment (bleh!) so let’s talk about our game after PA4! Keep in mind this is all subject to change at a whim.

Internal codename acronym is CSH.

It will be a Science-Fiction Spy-themed RPG.

We’ve been working on the design for this on and off for a while.

Distant future; none of this Star Ocean “Let’s crash land on a fantasy planet” nonsense. Laser guns, virtual reality, robots, giant mechs, spaceships, the works.

Female protagonist.

Noticeable improvements to our game engine. Will still retain the 16-bit aesthetic but will be more sophisticated than anything that could have actually come out on the SNES/Genesis.

Chrono Trigger-style combat directly on the exploration map.

Easy to understand but still versatile & deep LV-Up system.

Will probably have a Diablo-style New Game+ where you can restart the game with your end-game characters and face high LV-appropriate challenges (and maybe even a little new content as well).

Since we want to see a bit step up in both quality & scope for this project, we’ll probably do a kickstarter for it. I’m thinking we’ll set a goal of $100,000 with the money going towards additional development time & procuring an awesome soundtrack.

Preliminary reward tier ideas:
$15 = Game Download
$30 = Soundtrack. Special Thanks Credit.
$60 = Digital Art/Making Of Book.
$100 = Beta Access. Create Your Own Tombstone for the game.
$1000 = Be an NPC.

I’d prefer to not do a bunch of physical rewards so that we don’t take time & money away from actually making the game as good as possible. I also don’t want to do a bunch of super-expensive high-tier rewards – if you’re rich and a fan, you’re welcome to donate more but I expect the vast majority of people to just go for the game or game+soundtrack options.

Anyway, this is far distant since we have to first finish and release our current game (Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4) and then do engine upgrades & some of the content creation for the new game since we’d want to make sure we have some cool gameplay footage before launching the kickstarter. But we’ve been excited about this project for months so I thought it wouldn’t hurt to share a little bit early. 🙂

 Posted by at 10:27 am

  24 Responses to “Next Next Game Preliminary Ideas & Kickstarter Plans”

  1. I agree with mostly all of what Chris C. is saying… Kickstarter(s) rewards should be a bit more “extreme” for the money required to achieve them. For $1000 you should at least get the “collector’s edition” swag attached to your prize bag… ie digital art, posters, comics, bio(s) behind the scenes looks(in web vid form), early beta access, digi copy of game, extra game content, and finally early access to the next game in dev… I didn’t mention one “physical” item… And personally, I think this is still too little for the money asked. But this is just ideas from fans who appreciate the hard work you guys put in on these games… Something to chew on.

  2. Please make sure this comes to iOS! I’d love to give at least $100 to see my wife and I on a tombstone… Wow, morbid and exciting all at the same time!

  3. @Alan –

    I imagine any insanity attacks would be like throwing water on a fish. Either that, or it would hard for them to see him, with their heads already up their butts.

  4. You’ve got to pick a better development codename than CSH. Every time I see it, I think “Cthulhu Saves Hollywood!”, and we all know how THAT game would go down.

    Cthulhu Saves Hollywood Synopsis:

    Cthulhu tries to save Hollywood from itself, and quickly gives up.

  5. Got to know about this thread from Toma at NeoGAF. Thought I’ll drop by to say that I really hope to see and play your games on the PS Vita 😀

  6. I want this game so bad. Please make it a reality, emphasis on the giant mechs. Also, selling Cthulhu Saves the World for less than $15 was basically giving one of the best RPGs of the decade away.

  7. Have you decided on if you are staying only computer this time around? I don’t really play anything other than World of Warcraft on my computer. I try other games, as I have around 10 purchased ones from GoG, but I can’t seem to last more than one session at them before I just kinda forget about them to go back to my console or World of Warcraft. If you have a xbox, ds, or psp version, I will snag that up in a heartbeat on a kickstarter.

    Speaking of which, if you are only doing computer. add a donation tier, like 2 to 5 bucks. I don’t mind chipping in a cheap amount that gets me nothing, if the game is computer only.

    As for Piers Solar, I hope your wrong about the physical side of it. They have released a ton of physical games in the past, and they aren’t remaking a game from scratch, so hopefully they won’t have too hard a time. I got the, I think it was the, $49 sega dreamcast version. I just like having games for my old systems, seeing as I hook them up as well if I have room. Have my saturn hooked up at the moment with a copy of Albert Odyssey in it, so won’t be hard to switch em out.

  8. Actually, I think we’ve got a method that will let us do Chrono Trigger-style on-map battles in our engine without a lot of extra work. It’ll still be more work than we’re doing now, but it shouldn’t be that much work once we make a few adjustments to the engine.

  9. Great plan to go again for a Kickstarter campaign. I missed the one for Cthulhu Saves the World but definitely will back your new project. And sci-fi settings sounds really interesting. Female protagonists are cool.

    For additional tiers:
    – offer 2/3 copies of the game in a separate tier. I see that a lot and people are actually choosing those.
    – Also exclusive in-game items like hats 😉
    – Perhaps let people add their voice to the game creating digital tombstones?
    – Offer an option to name a store named or item and make this rather cheap ($50 or so).
    – Digital bundle with all your games included.

  10. This game sounds a lot like Phantasy Star 4. Can’t wait!

    As you probably know, Chrono Trigger style encounters is going to be a lot of work.

    The developers of Chrono Trigger said they’ve never make another game like that because scipting each encounter was so much work.

  11. Here are some examples from similar projects to ours:

    Barkley 2
    $10 tier = $22,281
    $15 tier = $14,520
    $25 tier = $13,825

    Pier Solar
    $15 tier = $25,605

    Banner Saga
    $10 tier = $90,028
    $25 tier = $117,750

    Pier Solar had the majority of its funding come from expensive physical reward tiers. I think they made a mistake with how they set things up and they’re going to end up spending a huge amount of their funding on reward fulfillment.

    Banner Saga is obviously one of the most successful video game kickstarters ever so that’s hoping for a lot. However, I think we can do better than the Barkley 2 kickstarter did. Reaching $100,000 without relying physical rewards seems like a reasonable goal if we play our cards right.

  12. Reaching a sizable goal ($100k+) with $15 being a focus tier could become an issue. Do you have any stats on Backer/Reward distribution for other projects? Because while a big base at that tier is important, you might also need some $100+ backers (e.g., Pier Solar had 1800 backers at $15 but also 800 backers at $125).

    Physical rewards are a pain, but maybe you can completely outsource that process incl. fulfillment and support? Double Fine did that, and it seemed to work great. But yeah, it’s a big cost as well (I think they spent $300k of their 3.3M on rewards fulfillment)

  13. We did posters in the last kickstarter we did and it was a nightmare. Yes, actually making the posters isn’t very difficult or expensive but shipping them is a pain and some of them were damaged in transit so we had to resend new ones.

    And actually, we don’t particular want people to be spending $100+ on our kickstarter. We want people to primarily donate at the game & game+soundtrack tier. We might adjust the pricing and add some additional cheap tiers before we actually do the kickstarter of course but $100+ tiers are definitely not a priority.

  14. Small problem with your reward tiers, are you aiming for new fans or just relying on the current fans? You may not want to mess with physical stuff, but what you have listed digitally isn’t much for the money value they are tacked on to, so anybody who isn’t familiar with your work will take one look at it, and decide it is not worth it. The rewards have made and broken many kickstarters, so you need to use the rewards as bait.

    Since you are doing all digital, I would highly recommend lowering the things like sound track and art book to a more manageable price, and try to think up new stuff for the higher cash tiers. I have noticed some kickstarters for rpg’s have the writer offering short stories that go hand in hand with the game at around the $60 to $100 mark. Other ones use wallpapers. Also, I don’t think it would be too hard for you to make posters, or too expensive. If it was at a reasonable tier, I would even pay for a Zeboyd style Cthulhu poster for instance. If you are wanting people to pay in the 3 digit + area’s, you will have to offer physical goods. If you don’t want it to get too complex, just don’t offer complex physical goods. Offer a poster at a low price range, then offer a set of posters of all sorts of different characters the higher the reward tier.

    You have Zeboyd assets to use to get people to pay, so I would highly recommend using them.

  15. @Matt – You’re not “buying” the game per se, you’re backing them. Essentially you’re helping them out and in the process you get a copy of the game (I could be wrong but I just think people need to understand that backing a project isn’t buying the game, it’s helping by funding it). Not only that but anyone who gets a copy of the game through backing is probably a person who won’t buy the game so this could technically hurt their sale numbers (which could keep them off top 10 selling games of the week lists).

    I’m excited about CSH. I bought BoDV7 and CSTW on day 1 but skipped the first PA game and will probably skip the second. I’m excited to see you guys going back and working on your own stuff, CSH will probably be a day 1 purchase as well!

  16. Actually, I think we can get the wow factor with the 16-bit style with some of the things we’re planning. I think when people see the first screenshots of PA4, they’ll agree that it’s noticeably better looking than our past games and that’s with minimal engine changes. With some of the neat engine changes we’re planning for CSH & with a longer development cycle, I think we can make CSH downright stunning from a visual perspective.

    As far as length & pricing goes, those are more fluid at the moment. I just picked $15 for this article because that’s a typical kickstarter buy-in tier. If we decide to actually sell the game for $15, we’d make sure it was well worth the money.

  17. Question: have you decided whether or not to continue supporting XBLA or mobile platforms in addition to the PC/Steam options? I think that would make a significant difference to me and I know you were thinking about not supporting them anymore awhile back. I know I’m in the minority of your overall sales, but I’ve always chosen to get your games on the XBLA platform. Partially because it was usually the first release place, but also because I like the platform and don’t really PC game much anymore.

  18. Really excited by the theme, you got my 15 bucks 🙂

    Are there any plans for figurines?

    I really enjoy my Spelunky minis and play with them every day

  19. Huge fan of your games. You said on twitter you wanted “the kind of quality & scope you’d expect to see in a retail game” but I’m really struggling to see what you can improve. Sticking to the 16-bit limits your visual wow factor (like say Journey or even Wind Waker or Thomas Was Alone or something). Your music is already fantastic. What’s left? Length? You yourself have spoken out against length for length’s sake.

    I guess I just can’t understand how the extra money is going to lead to improvements in quality – I never thought your games lacked it!

  20. Your kickstarter goals are remarkably down to earth and well thought out. The idea of all-digital rewards seems like a paradigm shift that all of kickstarter could learn to emulate.

    I’ll be going with the game+soundtrack option. But will there be any stretch goals if you surpass the $100,000 mark? I’d like to see just what you could do with a bloated budget.

  21. Im liking the idea. Excited for both games.

  22. I don’t think I’ve ever posted a comment on your site, Zeboyd Games, so I may not have told you how much I love you for BoDVII, CStW, and PA3, so here it is: I love you!

    Now, here is how much I love you for this post alone: I LOVE YOU!

    Seriously, this proposal sounds awesome. It could prove to be the perfect mix of old-school sensibilities and new-school execution. High hopes; looking forward to the kickstarter!

  23. Obviously looking forward a fair bit, but is the plan to sell it at $15? That’s a fair bit more than you’re used to charging, so I didn’t know whether it was just a “standard Kickstarter thing to charge,” or whether you do intend to make a $15 game.

    (I have no problem with that being the case!)

  24. Sounds great. Please try and get this (and PA4) on the Vita/PSN! It’d be the perfect console for your games.

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