Should I continue with this IP?

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by ionside, Jan 9, 2011.

  1. ionside

    ionside New Member

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    In December last year, I released my first game as an indie dev - Lylian: Episode One - and have learned a few things I should and shouldn't have done. But I'll leave that information for the post mortem.

    I made the game episodic so I could keep working on the story while the first episodes create a little revenue to help support the development. Aa business model I thought worth trying.

    Sales have been very slow, over Christmas the $1 off discounts have caused interest and sold a couple of hundred copies. But I've shot myself in the foot with the rrp of $5.
    Being an episodic I feel the price is right. But the problem is it doesn't create a lot of cash flow, and doesn't support creating further episodes.

    Among many mistakes, a major one is working on one episode at a time; meaning it's going to take some time to get the next episode out and create sales from it. If I released episode one when episode two was almost ready, then there's a short break in between.

    Of course another factor is, because Pixelpickle Games is a new company and the IP is new, no-one knows about it and it would need great marketing to spread the work.


    Anyways, I've been quite disheartened and my interest has drained because of the slow sales. I have other (smaller) projects that are looking much more promising so have been thinking of putting further episode developments on the shelf while I work in these fresh designs.

    Should I set these fresh ideas within the IP of Lylian, as in the characters and world (but different genres)?
    Should I just call quits on developing more episodes and do something fresh (including fresh IP)?

    Currently the IP is weak because it is relatively unknown and the debut title could have been better. But the IP can be stronger with better produced games and revolving a lot of games around one IP could grow a good community within them all... a franchise.
    Then again, "fresh is best" sounds like a good moto.
     
  2. PoV

    PoV
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    Yeah, it sounds like you made the mistake of thinking the general gaming public actually liked artsy stuff. The game looks stylistically great, but not very mass market (girl in a straight jacket ;)). Sure we did get movies like Coraline and 9, but they are eclipsed in earnings by the latest Pixar and even one named a meatball pun. Also there's a bit of a danger with Platformers -- They're the 2D equivalent of the FPS genre (in that, most games in that dimension are that). FPS's do well, but only if you are the hot FPS everyone is talking about.

    Going episodic was probably a good move, since it conceptually meant you were probably able to launch sooner. But like a TV pilot, not all are hits. The term episodic is a bit loaded too, since if it's used in promotion, it can convince the player that they're not getting the full game. Also, future episodes in a series rarely do better than the first (in viewership/playership), since there's an implicit need to watch/play the original. And the truth of the matter, any game that does extremely well will probably get a sequel, making the term kinda moot.

    Some things to consider: bump your regular price, and approach some distributors and press. Early adopters got a deal, but if you find someone with influence that likes it, they may be able to drive more sales for you.

    Still, be proud that you actually released your game. So often games never make it to release, and many make no money at all. Next you need to figure out how to make something that can support you, while satisfying any design or style urges you have.

    Best of luck.
     
  3. ionside

    ionside New Member

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    Hey PoV - Yes I did make it hard for myself, didn't I. lol
    It has been a great experience, but it would be good to follow into more tried and true avenues.
    I like your "like a TV pilot, not all are hits". So true and taking a step back to see the whole image... I think that's a great way to see it. In fact that was one of my intentions to creating an episode; do a section and if it takes on keep going - I had forgotten all about that.

    I'm going to focus on other projects. Ones that only require 2-3 months of development rather than 2-3 years. And let the girl in the straitjacket calm down indefinitely.
     
  4. adesilva

    adesilva New Member

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    Its too bad that not more people were interested. I am especially a fan of the art style.

    However if you have not had lots of revenue with it your better off moving on to something you feel will do better unless your emotionally attached to the series which you do not appear to be.
     
  5. electronicStar

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    I think you should take a look at your production process and aggressively streamline it so that you can create something similar to lylian but instead of taking 2-3 years it should take you 6 months max.
    I think you can accelerate things a lot by turning back and looking at what you've been doing.
    If you take 2-3 years per episode then forget the episodic model because players can't wait that long.
     
  6. Jack Norton

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    I think you made the "mistake" that most indies make: do a huge game that takes years as their first game :eek: I really think your next 3-4 months game will do better because you've already learned some things from the first title.
    And yes, 2d are really a very very risky genre. Make a classic adventure game with that setting and I'm sure will do much better.
     
  7. Nexic

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    I've seen Lylian about and thought it looked really cool. The IP, art, style are all brilliant. The problem in my opinion is the gameplay. When I saw it was an actiony platformer I was a little surprised/disappointed. I think it would have done a lot better in the form of an adventure or puzzle game.

    I remember playing your flash game that you were using to promote the game, and it had the same problem. As a point and click adventure you would probably have been looking at a 4.5/5 score on newgrounds, and several million plays, rather than the 3.1/5 and few thousand plays you actually got.

    Imagine a game like this, but with Lylian's IP:
    http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/511552

    Or maybe a 3rd person point and click adveture like Sanitarium?


    Also, your site could use some tweaking. I had to hunt to find the demo download link. Eventually found it in the 'shop' which I think is a little counter intuitive.
     
    #7 Nexic, Jan 9, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2011
  8. ionside

    ionside New Member

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    All great comments, thanks all!

    Yes there are various reasons the first ep took so long; the art style - creating everything in 3d was a mistake as it is slow to produce, and because I was learning as I developed the game. The following episodes would be much quicker to put together, but still too long.
    After the feedback from the first ep I had planned to minimise the combat and focus more on story and puzzles for the next ones. But I do understand now that a 2d side-scroller limited me and my potential market. I chose 2d because it's something I thought I could handle for my first project - I just need to use my limitations better.

    I have played Alice is Dead, it's a great little game. I'd like to focus on smaller production styles like that and Sanitarium (OK that's bigger). Anything bigger or 3d I'll look for a 'real' programmer to do all the coding. :)
     
  9. defanual

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    1-3+ years per episode is fine if your Valve :D

    First-off, sorry to hear it's not performing as you'd like so far. It's difficult to say whether you should continue or not as only you know your circumstances, timeframe / skill level (can you easily / quickly put it on to high volume-strategy platforms like iphone?), momentum (are you close to a tipping point?), cashflow and motivation regarding Lylian.

    What I can certainly say with 100 percent confidence is that if it takes you 1-3 years to complete an episode I'd strongly argue that it's not episodic in the first place and at that price point your forcing yourself into a high-volume strategy that needs high-volume partners / platforms.

    I think episodic gaming done right takes a few months max and you have to charge based on sustaining the gap between producing new episodes.

    Ideally I imagine episodic gaming mastered (which I haven't seen yet) would be an individual or team that is creating content in timeframe / manner as television's does with it's series and mini series (3 episodes usually). I believe normally a pilot is made (kinda a beta) and then a few episodes (to test further) or a whole season is filmed within a few months to 1 year. Of course, full game dev (compared to a full movie) often takes twice the time which is why games that are built on a film schedule usually suck.

    However, I believe it is possible to do it as above, I just haven't seen it yet, I've got a few ideas for possibly trying this myself at some point.
     
  10. zoombapup

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    I think lylian was a bit of a weird character idea to begin with. The problem is that once you have the established concept of girl in straight jacket, where do you go with it?

    I never saw anything that explained how she got there, or what she was hoping to do about it.

    I think you could definitely expand on the IP, but you'll need to really think through how she as a character is embedded in a new game.

    I think the platformer idea is kind of weak, because there are so many other "experimental" platformers out there in indie land stealing the platformer genre's thunder (super meat boy, vvvvvvvvvv etc).

    As it is, I really like lylian the character, so I hope you dont give up on her. If you ever decide to take her to 3D, give me a call. I would love to create a game with a strong lead female character with a fairly warped backstory.
     
  11. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Is there any evidence that promoting something as being episodic actually works - when done right I mean?

    My feeling (and it's just that, I admit) is that it'd probably put people off. This isn't TV and I wonder how many people won't buy a game because it even implies on the box that you're not getting all of it.

    Might be better to highlight the fact that sequels and extra content downloads are planned (ie the brand has an active future), but keep em focussed on the fact that if they don't plan right now to buy that stuff in the future, they can still get a "full" experience with what they /are/ buying right now.
     
  12. puggy

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    There are pro's and con's about continuing the game with further episodes. You already have the game code, so unless your going to add a lot more functions it's basically working on new content which will lower development time. While the IP might not have a high standing right now, it's still higher than starting from scratch. You already have people who bought the first one who may buy the second, along with new people who may buy the first when you announce the second.

    The downside is that if the game was just poor in the view of players/potential players then the second one won't do any better than the first.

    Try to work out why the first didn't do as well as you hoped and you can work from there to see where you go 9or even working out how to sell the first better)
     
  13. zoombapup

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    Sam & Max, Monkey Island, Bone adventures etc. Most of those are episodic and worked commercially. Although the first two had some history, I doubt it made any difference because the crowd that knew them originally has probably moved on.

    I think the episodic thing is fine if you can keep turning them out. If you prefer to call ti expansions or DLC thats fine, but thats what episodic really is (there are plenty of examples of DLC and expansions doing ok on steam for instance).

    I think one point ionstorm has maybe lost sight of, is that its far too early to say what the value of that particular IP is. Because it hasnt been around long enough. Give it a few years and it may be a different beast. Obviously that only works if you don't abandon it.
     
  14. Jack Norton

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    Episodic works well if is a story-based game, but for a 2d platform I really don't think could work. More like "sequels" than episodes...
     
  15. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I'd never heard of it before but I just checked the website. It looks really nice. I did have some issues though.

    * I couldn't see where to get a demo version. There should be a big Play Now button somewhere.
    * The patient option just confused me a little, being at the top of that menu list I thought that was going to be the Play button.
    * The video was very small and hard to see anything.

    Regards episodic, it's a difficult one to get right. Nobody really wants to pick up at Episode 2 as you feel like you've missed too much. So Episode 2 tends to attract a subset of the audience for Episode 1 and so on.
     
  16. GDI

    GDI New Member

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    I like the theme and character. I disliked the platforming. I still have to finish it, sorry.

    Like mentioned already, this works best as an adventure game.

    So maybe just add a bit more content, rename the game so it isn't 'Episode 1' but just Lylian (offer a free update to go along with apology to customers who bought expecting Episode 2)

    Then make the adventure game using the same character models and props.

    I've seen plenty of people go overboard with the episodic structure and it just doesn't pan out.

    A franchise system is way better, i.e. Lylian: The something of something; Lylian: the other thing about this thing, and so on and so forth.

    I'm planning to reuse the 3D models I have for my prerendered strategy game for a brawler eventually, and maybe some other application. Different game genres, same universe.

    I like your universe. So please keep it, just change the game genre to something more efficient to produce and with a bigger potential market.
     
  17. Bmc

    Bmc New Member

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    I think this would do better on iOS personally.

    might be worth looking into porting it.
     
  18. princec

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    I reached the same conclusion several other posters here did:
    Wow, lovely style, cute idea.... urgggh, a rather dull looking platformy game.
    The IP you have is fantastic; this particular game, is not. I shamefully confess I didn't even bother to download it based on the (irritatingly small) video.

    So my advice is: keep the style and IP in general, and try to find a cooler game for it. Point-and-click adventuring, mixed with hidden object, perhaps.

    Cas :)
     
  19. Maupin

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    Agreed. One can barely see any character details or read the game text, and when you click to the "large format" video you see something just about the same size. :(

    I'll also agree that the character and setting seem like a perfect fit for a point and click adventure game. Look at Drawn from Big Fish Games as an example.
     
  20. ionside

    ionside New Member

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    Awesome stuff!

    After reading the comments I spent last night laying in bed thinking about it, obviously not sleeping. I can't drop the IP, as I've spent so much time investing in the world and characters...back stories etc.

    Platform was a bad idea I know now, and I'm happy to agree that choosing a different genre would be a great move.

    I'd love to do something like Drawn:The painted Tower. I need to play a lot more of those kind of games to understand them better before doing my own.

    I do fancy the point and click adventure, and mixing in puzzles like hidden object does seem to be a strong formula at the moment. I'm considering that option.

    @zoombapup When my funds have replenished, I'll give you a call.

    I've learned a great deal from this thread and you've all gotten me very excited on where I can take this. Thank you!
     

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