Ship of Heroes - Lessons Learned Lead to a Plan for the Future
Last week, Ship of Heroes was brought to KickStarter and closed all in the space of a few days. Though that may be the case for now, the team has taken the lessons learned to heart to form a solid plan for the future. Check out our exclusive interview to see where Ship of Heroes is headed next.
MMORPG: Why cancel the Ship of Heroes Kickstarter?
A: There are a well-established set of criteria for successful MMORPG Kickstarters. For example, if a new MMORPG has enthusiastic supporters, it will draw about $100 per donor, compared to $35-50 for videogames in general. SoH was drawing about $115 for several days and ended at $108, showing that we have solid enthusiasm for the game. But Kickstarters in this genre also need to achieve about 25% of the goal in the first three days to succeed. We achieved about a third of that amount, which reinforced the messages we received from possible donors, who were hearing about the game for the first time during the Kickstarter, and weren't ready to back it yet. Pulling the program was simply smart, decisive business sense. We’re building a game, and after three days we knew that we needed to go down another route.
MMORPG: What have you learned from your Kickstarter?
A: First, we've learned is that there is a very enthusiastic crowd of SoH supporters out there willing to support funding of the game’s development. Second, there's a much larger group of possible supporters who had not heard of Ship of Heroes before the Kickstarter. They need time to learn and become excited about the game. Third, we've learned that we should make a more focused game and launch sooner. Before the Kickstarter we were considering building a larger game before launch, taking more time and money to polish and expand. That decision is made for us now. In a way, it’s quite helpful; our “percent complete” just went up.
MMORPG: What is the path forward for Ship of Heroes now?
A: The Kickstarter allowed us to understand what our community wants, with more clarity. They want to be certain that we actually have a game that they will be able to play. Some are ready to fund us now, and more will be ready as the game advances. Given the high level of support we’ve received from our community since we canceled the Kickstarter, we’ll develop a smaller game at the beginning and then expand it using subscription revenues to become the game we originally planned. This allows our supporters to experience the game during development, and to have more input into the direction that we take. The biggest change we are making is to limit the environments we will develop before launch. We have an incredible setting, Apotheosis City, right now. We’re going to improve it and use it for the launch. We’ve also decided to limit to 20 levels of character advancement initially. Of course, this could change if we decide to go back to crowdfunding in the future.
MMORPG: Do you think Ship of Heroes will have another crowdfunding event?
A: It’s quite possible, but not for a while. There’s a trade-off in indie game development. A small team can promote their game continuously and let building it take second place, or the reverse. We put game development first; coding, story, and art implementation are the top priorities of the team. But we also know that we have to continue to reveal a steady stream of real, integrated advancements to our supporters, not just a stream of words punctuated with a few pieces of concept art. Our fans want much, much more than that.
MMORPG: What will supporters of Ship of Heroes see next?
A: We’re going to be showing some very significant additions between now and the end of 2017. First up will be a look at the Sci-fi interiors of Apotheosis City, something we have not shown before in any setting. It’s a major change for us to show interior scenes because of the additional art assets, lighting techniques, story elements, etc. In addition, the areas that we’ll be showing will be used for our first instanced missions. Instanced missions are incredibly important to our community, because many have had bad experiences with MMOs that over-emphasize street-sweeping, which can lead to waiting for enemies to respawn after someone else kills them. We’re eliminating that problem right at the outset. We’ll also be expanding our list of factions and showing more details about them, and we’ll be showing off a lot more details about the powersets and powers that can be used to customize your characters. We’re still on track to take some friends of the game through escorted Alpha testing at the end of 2017.
MMORPG: Do you think there's a stigma attached to the game now, with the failed Kickstarter? How do you combat that public perception?
A: No there is no stigma. In fact there’s a bit of the reverse. Our community has rallied around us, viewers per day on YouTube actually increased after we canceled, we have more subscribers to our newsletter than ever, and the number of people asking us to set up donations on our website is quite large. Since we showed a very advanced state of pre-Kickstarter game development, and a setting that allows new content and new experiences for our players, our community has actually been extremely supportive. We also get a lot of kudos for canceling quickly and moving forward with a good Plan B. Our forums are full of ideas for pushing Ship of Heroes to a launch. No superhero KS has succeeded in several years, and it has even been difficult for non-superhero MMORPGs. These days people understand that there is almost no connection between succeeding on Kickstarter and actually building a game. As long as we keep producing and showing real progress in development we think public support will continue to grow.