3D INTEGRATION INTO 2D SCENES

When deciding on the switch from a pure 2D game to combination of 2D and 3D elements, I wanted to maintain the pre-rendered 2D feel of STASIS. Even though I love 3D games, and their endless potential, there is a certain magic around 2D.

Game such as Commandos and Icewind Dale hold up beautifully to this day, largely in part to the use of the 2D backgrounds.

So I’m acutely aware of creating 3D objects that will integrate perfectly into a 2D pre-rendered scene. One way of doing this is by setting up 3D lighting in your scene to accurately represent the same lighting in render. While this is doable, it comes at the expense of time and memory which, let’s face it, are finite resources for a developer. So how to get around this?

Baking!

I’d consider this idea a tried and trusted method. Bake the shadows and lighting into the texture instead of relying on real time shadows and reflections from the scene.

I construct the scene as I would fully detailed pre-rendered background. After which, Nic and I decide with objects should be 3D to best suit the scene and story. We’re mixing 2D sprite maps with 3D animated objects so the best solution is often only visible once the scene has been completed.

Once making that assessment, I create lower poly versions of the chosen 3D objects, while trying to keep as much of the object’s original shape and detail. And because there aren’t many 3D elements in each scene, the low poly models are still rather detailed.

After the low poly models are placed, various renders are done with and without the each object to create the correct shadows and reflections on the background plate.

From there I bake the shadows and textures into the low poly model while it sits in the scene. This was the lighting and shadows on the object are exactly as they would be if it was a 2D pre-rendered sprite.

The result: 3D objects that are perfectly integrated into the 2D scenes.

There are drawbacks to this; if the lighting conditions change drastically the 3D object’s textures have to be re-baked to maintain their integration, but as long as we’re aware of these limitations we design around them.

When the low poly models are used in conjunction with normal maps and lighting, we can create some beautiful looking scenes that still maintain the feel of completely pre-rendered scenes with without many of the memory limitations that those create.

BAKED 3d MODEL LOW POLY BED ingame_bed

 

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…AND WHEN THE DUST SETTLES…

We did it. We released a game! STASIS hit the digital shelves in late 2015. The culmination of thousands of hours, sleepless nights, copious amounts of coffee, and more than a few good old emotional breakdowns. After its release, it felt like a weight was lifted from one of my shoulders and then promptly shifted onto the other!

Patches, user support, interviews, marketing, and then more patches – in a way it felt when the game was complete the real work could start. And start it did! Nic and Kristal did masterful jobs at keeping everything afloat while I attempted some sort of emotional recovery from the 2 years of crunch time I’d just gone through.

I’ve heard people say ‘never read internet comments‘ and I ignored them. I can tell you that I obsessively googled STASIS for weeks after the launch and still find myself doing searches now. It’s hard not to.

We made STASIS for people to play and for people to enjoy. To publish it and then move onto something else instantly just seemed so…heartless. Thankfully, players loved it.

The feedback we got was excellent and I took it all in, both good and bad. I’ve read every Steam comment, thousands of forum replies, and hundreds of reviews. I’ve watched a lot of YouTube Let’s Plays and Twitch steams (even those in languages I don’t understand). I’ve consumed the feedback from STASIS like a dying man who finds an oasis, and it’s been thirst-quenching, even with the occasional mouthful of dirt.

STASIS is a game that we’re incredibly proud of. I personally grew more as an artist in the last 2 years of solid development, than I have in the previous 10 years of doing it professionally. And after all of that, what did we decide to do? Yep, we decided to do it all again.

The Brotherhood is now running as a full time development studio. We can officially call ourselves game developers with a straight face and an enormous sense of pride! We asked ourselves, “where to from here?” as we’d already completed much of the graphic content for the Cayne chapter so that was the most logical thing to tackle… but we aren’t people who take the easy route for anything. So we made the difficult decision to build Cayne from the ground up, and apply all of the lessons we’d learned from STASIS to create the best experience we can.

While STASIS provided a foundation for our future projects, Cayne will most certainly be providing the brick and mortar. We’re going to use Cayne to test out new ideas, technologies, and a new workflow that has both Nic and I working full time.

Our future games will be created around this core, and what we have coming up is going to astound, disgust, and amaze you.

 

WHAT ARE WE DOING DIFFERENTLY?

STASIS started off as a hobby project, and during production much time was spent trying to get things working. While I wouldn’t consider this time wasted (I discovered a lot of ways how NOT to do things), we’re going into this new chapter with a better knowledge of how our future games need to be put together.

The interface, for example, appears simple, but it took countless iterations to get the workings and feel we wanted. We can now take that R&D time and funnel it into other aspects.

While the 2D characters in STASIS were wonderful, we want our next games to use a 2.5D system with 2D pre-rendered backgrounds and 3D characters. This allows us to have smooth transition animations and an unlimited number of directions for the character. More importantly, it eliminates a step that was needed when getting the characters into the game.

In STASIS, I needed to animate everything, render it out, set it up in a scene, tweak it, re-adjust if necessary, re-render, tweak… This process took an enormous amount of time with the results sometimes being less than satisfactory.  By using 3D characters that are rigged with bones, I can animate and import them directly into the game and see what adjustments need to be made.

I can’t explain how satisfying it is to see something in-engine a few seconds after I’ve finished the animation. Less time spent with the technicalities of importing into the engine means more time spent on getting the movement and animation flawless.

Lighting was a challenge in STASIS because it required more planning for even the most basic ‘special’ lighting. A scene had to be constructed in After Effects before it got added into the engine which allowed for almost no iterative design adjustment when it was in. How it came out in render was how it looked in the game.

In Cayne, we’re using Normal Maps and other techniques to get more dynamic lighting. Shader systems allow us to tint the scenes and adjust the mood of the rooms in real time, again allowing a more fluid nature to the games creation. Seeing adjustments to the game as you play it is both satisfying and helpful from a design standpoint. ‘The freedom to experiment’ is SO important in art, and using new systems allows us flexibility, especially where we can overlap the technical expertise with the artistic vision.

I want to push the design of Cayne into new directions. Cayne will portray more of Nic and my personal game styles – in all aspects, from the story to characters and environments. We want to bring in something slightly different to STASIS universe to challenge ourselves. But Cayne is set in the same universe, so we aren’t going to stray too far from our 80s roots.

The work we’re doing will hopefully blow your minds, because the passion is palpable and the excitement we have for the future is tangible. It’s going to be a wild ride.

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NEW BLOG & 2016 HERE WE COME!

Welcome to the all new ‘THE BROTHERHOOD’ blog.

If you followed the early days of STASIS you will remember how I posted often on development of the game, well…I am back and you can expect
regular posts.

Nic and I will be documenting the creation of CAYNE. We are going to take point & click games to another level – more on that later.

Please visit us in the fist week of January for a full debriefing of what we intend on doing.

Have a very merry Christmas,

Chris

p.s I have almost fully restored the entire blog of STASIS, you can read all of the posts that were made over the years.
There are a few from 2015 that are missing, but I will be adding them shorty. 

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STASIS UPDATE JANUARY 2015

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Greetings, Adventure Lovers!

I’ve been hard at work aboard the Groomlake this past December and January, and I have an exciting STASIS progress update.

PROGRESS

So, what’s been going on for the last few weeks? Well, quite a lot! Since our last update we’ve completed ALL of the main puzzle chains for the Beta. I’m working on a few last minute details, and we’ll soon be full swing into our internal testing. This means that STASIS is playable from the very first screen to the very last area that our Beta players will encounter! It’s now a process of hunting down bugs, tweaking the interface, adjusting effects, and making certain that the game play is as smooth as possible.

We’ve been sure to add complexity to some of the puzzles. I must say that puzzle design is one of the highlights of the process for me. Nic and I would have a cup of coffee and talk through the chain of events needed to complete a game task, often coming up with ideas and areas on the spot.  It is a free form way of design – something that I believe is only possible with a very small (in this case 1) team to implement the decisions.

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CLOSED ALPHA

The Beta, which covers 3 of the 4 chapters of STASIS, will be in Alpha testing from the end of this month. What this will entail is testing STASIS internally, to iron out as many bugs or glitches as we can. I really want the Beta testers to experience the game as completely as possible. We’re hoping to wrap this process up during February. At the same time, I’ll be polishing up the final chapter.

ESRB RATING

If you had any doubt about STASIS being a mature adventure game, fear not! We received our ESRB Rating, and I’m proud to say that STASIS will be rated MATURE 17+ for VIOLENCE, BLOOD AND GORE, SUGGESTIVE THEMES, and STRONG LANGUAGE. 

HE SOUNDS OF STASIS

Our voice actors really have gone above and beyond, and have produced acting that I believe is AAA quality!

The voice acting is the meat and potatoes of the story. It’s how we move along John’s emotional journey – and without that core the rest of the game would feel empty … hollow.

To make sure each line delivered the right punch, the voice actors read their lines in a variety of styles and with different emotional inflections. I then take those recordings and tweak the dialog to make sure that it’s EXACTLY what I need for the scene.

We decided early in development that STASIS wouldn’t have dialog trees, allowing us to create a cinematic flow to the conversations.

 

OCK, PAPER, SHOTGUN’S TOP 2015 GAMES

STASIS made it onto ROCK, PAPER, SHOTGUN’s Top 2015 Games list:

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2015/01/01/best-pc-games-of-2015/3/

GDC

Nic and I are excited to be attending GDC (http://www.gdconf.com/) this year. If you’re a fellow developer and want to chat, Tweet me @Stasisgame

UNTIL NEXT TIME…

It’s unbelievable to look at how far STASIS has come in the last year. I started working on it full time on January 5, 2014 (with thanks to you guys). While the amount of work is immense, I know that it will be worth it when you can experience the game and the world that we’ve created.

I can’t thank you, the Backers, enough for having the faith in us to make this game a reality. I just know that you’re going to be proud to say that you backed STASIS!

-Chris

Twitter – https://twitter.com/StasisGame

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/stasisgame

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ONE YEAR LATER…

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A year ago today I clicked the big green LAUNCH button and listed STASIS on Kickstarter.

I want to give you an in depth look at what we’ve been up to and where we’ve been allocating our time and your money. So much more has been added. More than initially planned. STASIS is now looking and feeling like the game I dreamed of all those years ago – this has taken a little longer than anticipated, but is coming together splendidly….

Please see the full update with pretty graphics here:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bischoff/stasis-2d-isometric-scifi-horror-adventure-game/posts/1038772

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September Update

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Greetings Stasis fans!

Since our last update, we have been very busy.

The script/screenplay is complete and edited – and has been sent off to the talented voice artists.

The computer voices have also been completed and replaced. Now each computer system has a unique personality, and it sounds awesome!

… READ THE FULL UPDATE HERE:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bischoff/stasis-2d-isometric-scifi-horror-adventure-game/posts/996322

 

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The Music of Stasis

The Music of Stasis

Skip the text and listen to the music here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDywToYQUrw

Music is incredibly important to me. While I’m usually a I-can-do-it-on-my-own person, I knew that having the perfect music for Stasis would mean having to find a pro.

One of the main goals of the Kickstarter campaign was to bring on a professional composer to translate the Stasis world and story into music. That is way easier to say, than do!

When Mark Morgan asked to be a part of the project I almost fell off my chair. It’s no secret that the Fallout series was a transformative experience for me when I was younger; to have Fallout’s composer work on this little project of mine… well, I was more than a little intimidated!

From the get go, Mark and I shared the same vision for the sound of Stasis. The main sounds of the game come from John’s surroundings (you know who John is by now!) but the music comes from within. It’s his experience – his personal story – that is being told through the score. Mark instantly understood what I was trying to put across and has created a haunting internal score.

The idea was to have a strong melody base around a lullaby. Creepy, huh? There are early leanings towards this idea in the trailers, as well as the opening piano music in the Alpha (played by me when I was in my I-can-do-it-on-my-own stage). Mark took this concept and created a beautiful melody that we are using as a foundation for the score.

Instead of focusing on scene based music, we’re using the score to accentuate John’s emotions. HOPE, FEAR, TERROR: these are the central themes for the music of Stasis – the skeleton that everything hangs off of.

I’m incredibly proud to give you a small glimpse into the musical world that Mark has created.

YOUTUBE LINK:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDywToYQUrw

Interview with Mark Morgan:

The main lullaby is a strong piece of music as a melody – something I know that was difficult to pin down. When creating ‘Dream Of Us’ (the main lullaby tune), what were the inspirations for the piece?

Mark Morgan: To me, it was about John singing a lullaby to his daughter so I envisioned what that would be like and went for a simple melody that could be sung by itself.

Is it difficult to create the emotional aspects from this melody? Do you draw from previous experiences? Or is it a process of trying different keys and instruments and seeing what fits?

Mark Morgan: I think it’s a combination of both. The goal is to have a melody that can speak to you differently depending on the vibe. I believe that it all indirectly comes from your existence and experiences as a human being, rather than finding that emotion though the music. Certain orchestration portrays a certain emotion. Both Chris and I decided that for the more emotional pieces, cello, violin and piano would be the solo voices for the sound of Stasis. Then it’s just a matter of fitting the puzzle together.

While John’s external journey is being told visually, his internal journey is being told through the score. Are you still using the visuals as inspiration or does it help to focus JUST on the story elements?

Mark Morgan: I think for John’s internal journey, musically I am focused on the story elements but I’m always aware of the visuals so not to lose sight of where he is. The visuals directly or indirectly have a huge influence on the musical palette.

Is working on Stasis any different to the other game projects that you have worked on, and if so how?

Mark Morgan: As of late, most of the games I’m involved in are in some way story driven, but in then case of Stasis, the story is so important and the music plays a huge role in telling that story. Sometimes I have found when it’s just about gameplay, musically it’s hard to feel that you’re immersed in the moment. It becomes about broad stokes as opposed to written for the moment.

Read more at Kickstarter:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bischoff/stasis-2d-isometric-scifi-horror-adventure-game/posts/940503

 

 

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JUNE 2014 Update

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Hey fellow Adventure Gamers,

Time for a backer update. Since the last public Stasis update, I’ve spent a portion of my time fine tuning the Stasis adventure game engine.

What does that mean?

Well, here is what some of these improvements include: 

  • The voice dialogue will now overlap the screens. In other words, you can chat over the radio and it will still play seamlessly between different areas.
  • I’ve done a massive rework of the dialogue system itself, which will make language translation much more manageable.
  • A large optimization of the way that John’s feet stick to, or touch, the ground when he walks. This eliminates the gliding and sliding effect.
  • There are now 16 directions of movement, instead of the previous 8, which makes everything smoother.
  • WEBP conversion and image optimization – which means the entire game will only be 2 Gigs or less. The Alpha chapter was a Gig by itself!
  • A better particle system for the dust, so we have different sized dust particles to give the scenes more depth.

I’ve also worked on several new areas that fall under the medical labs of the Groomlake.

Read the rest of this post on Kickstarter here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bischoff/stasis-2d-isometric-scifi-horror-adventure-game/posts/894800

 

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APRIL 2014 Update

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YIPPPEEEE!

I’m at the four month mark of full time development on Stasis!

The majority of the Alpha bug fixes and new systems have been done and dusted, and so I have been able to move onto entire new and exciting Stasis environments.

Watch the youtube video below.


The medical suites are stark and white with a vastly different aesthetic, compared to the rusty, industrial grime you’ve seen so far. It’s refreshing to work on a new experience point with an unfamiliar tile set. I’ve also now created the medical puzzle that was alluded to in the last update.

“The skeletal remains lie clustered together around the room, as if they died in a stampede, or clutching each other. Somehow the bones hold no scraps of flesh.”

We’ve received some new writing from Christopher Dare and it is excellent! I can already see how the extra depth of this writing will echo through the environments, and really draw a player in.

I’m now moving onto the Hydroponics Bay… wish me luck 🙂

We really do appreciate your involvement and interest.

P.S
Backers get access to weekly progress updates and other goodies, join here: http://stasiscommunity.com/

or Pledge to become a member: http://www.stasisgame.com/pledge/

Social Media links: http://www.stasisgame.com/social

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/StasisGame

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/stasisgame

-Chris & Nic

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Kickstarter Postmortem

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Happy 2014!

 

When Nic and I decided to take on Kickstarter we wanted to run the smoothest and best campaign possible. Now, while the road certainly wasn’t without its bumps and bruises, I think that the campaign for STASIS went remarkable well.

Below are a few thoughts and things to consider when setting up your own campaign. Some are obvious, and others are things that we only realized once we were neck deep into our campaign.

SETTING UP YOUR KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN

When you’re planning your Kickstarter campaign, it’s very easy to be caught up in the excitement and forget a few fundamentals when dealing with Kickstarter. One of the main points to remember is that Kickstarter has to verify your campaign before you’re able to hit that big green launch button.

This can throw a spanner in the works of any ‘preKickstarter’ marketing campaign you’re planning, as this is a manual process and could take a little longer than expected. You are completely at the behest of Kickstarter’s all-too-human managers who have to manually sift through your campaign – amongst others – to ensure that you have met all of their requirements.

I’d recommend that you set up the base skeleton of your campaign as early as possible, and submit it to Kickstarter. You’re able to modify the campaign indefinitely afterwards, right up the launch.

We didn’t do that. We put the entire ‘final’ campaign together, announced our launch date and submitted to Kickstarter with (what we thought) was a healthy lead time. Our idea behind this thinking was that Kickstarter would be awestruck with how complete the campaign was, that they would approve everything in a day or two.

After a week, our mistake started to loom over us. With our announced launch date closing in fast and little feedback from Kickstarter, we halted our plans and pushed our dates out. In hindsight, this was possibly the best thing we could have done for the campaign (more on that later!), but at the time it resulted in sleepless nights and frustrated emails!

USE THE PREVIEW LINK FOR FEEDBACK

When you’re setting up your campaign, you can share a preview of the incomplete campaign in order to get feedback. We planned the campaign by looking at other successes and failures, reading post mortems and generally going on our gut about what would work and what wouldn’t. Once we had external feedback and opinions on our campaign, we could adjust things accordingly.

Those that are providing feedback are your end users. At the end of the day, you aren’t trying to sell your product to yourself – you are trying to sell it to other people, and feedback from YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE is probably one of the most important and valuable things you can do.

DECIDING ON YOUR DATES

We picked November for our Kickstarter launch. The chosen month was due to our personal deadlines and current work schedule. To be honest, it probably wasn’t the best month to launch! We had to compete with Call of Duty, the Next Gen console launches AND Thanksgiving holidays. Had we released a month earlier, perhaps the ride would have been much smoother – but having said that, it was a case of November 2013 or February/March 2014.

When choosing your dates, keep two things in mind:

1 – Your audience. Are there any public holidays coming up? Thanks giving, Easter, Christmas, Summer vacation…all of these factor in whether pledgers have access to extra money, and B) have access to a computer and the internet.

2 – Your schedule. Anyone who has run a Kickstarter campaign can attest to the fact that it’s almost a full time job. You need to put in an insane amount of time! We had three of us running different aspects of the campaign for the entire 33 day run.

Managing press, managing Kickstarter itself, Steam Greenlight, community management on other forums, YouTube Lets Players, technical support on the Alpha, cataloging feedback and emails, updating press lists, spell checking interviews and releases…all of these take a HUGE amount of time, so ensure that you do it when you have available time!

For Nic, Kristal and I, it was especially difficult because we also have a business to run at the same time.

THE CAMPAIGN PAGE

So you have your game, you have your Kickstater page waiting for info, you have decided on your dates – now what?

The campaign page itself is your gateway to success or failure. When we were setting up the STASIS page, we looked at hundreds of other campaign pages – noting points and aspects we liked from each and interpreting them with regards to STASIS.

Consider the use of animated GIFS. Having that small element of movement can really bring life to your campaign page. We chose to have actual gameplay in the GIFs, which went along with our philosophy of IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GAME. We had an actual game to show, not just a concept and that formed the core of the entire campaign.

You are going to get A LOT of traffic through Kickstarter, so be aware of that when hosting files externally. Even what you perceive as small things, like externally hosted screenshots, can bring your server to a grinding halt and end up costing you a lot of money. We hosted all of our external files on Amazons S3 hosting service, ensuring that we never had crashed servers or stressed out phone calls.

The first thing that page visitors should see is the most important points of your campaign. We started out with our video with the game trailer, showing actual gameplay footage. Another important piece was a link to the STASIS Alpha download (right at the top of the screen), followed by bullet points about the game and then screenshots. Assume that a person visiting your page isn’t going to scroll down to find out more. Once you have them scrolling, you can start to add in extra information about the game and more about the campaign.

TIER PRICING AND STRETCH GOALS

There are articles available about choosing the correct tier prices, so my advice would be to look at other campaigns that have been successful and see how their pricing points were set up. I feel it’s important not to have too many ‘big leaps’ in pricing, and initially, I’d avoid mega tiers (in the $1000 and up range); this can easily cripple you at a later date. Having just one mega tier pledger pull out on the last day could kill the success of your campaign.

In the planning of our campaign, we decided that in the long run it was better for us to have a larger pool of backers at smaller pledges than a small amount of backers at larger sums. This was a community driven approach which helped us during the later parts of the campaign – we could have called on a large group of interested backers to increase their pledges by a small amount, if we ran into trouble.

We also chose not to round off the pledge amounts. A hundred years of retail conditioning has informed us that $19 is psychologically less than $20 and we wanted to apply that to our tier amounts.

Stretch Goals are a bit of a touchy subject, but I will say that they are important in a campaign. We were careful in our choice of goals to not include anything that would affect the integrity of the game and its story. In a way, it was a disadvantage coming to Kickstarter with Stasis in the state that it is in because we are very limited by changes we can make to the game – but again, our core philosophy of ‘It’s all about the game’ won out, with our Stretch Goals adding to the world and the experience, but don’t alter what we are trying to achieve.

PRE LAUNCH!

Time to hit the green button? Woah there! Not so fast! You want to hit the ground running. Having a prelaunch strategy is as important as having a launch strategy. As I mentioned earlier, our prelaunch dates were thrown out by the delay in Kickstarter approving the campaign. During this delay, we decided to spend some more time polishing up the Alpha demo and doing a soft Alpha launch in exchange for a retweet.

We added a countdown to our web page and contacted a few websites for interviews to be released on Launch Day.

Our Alpha demo was combined with a small prelaunch Twitter campaign, where access to the demo was password protected with the password being released to anyone who either tweeted about Stasis or otherwise put the word out.

All of these pre-launch ideas gave our campaign a strong start, something that is important to any Kickstarter. Having a strong start makes backers more confident about the project, and more willing to put their money down!

THE ACTUAL CAMPAIGN

We launched our Steam Greenlight campaign within a few minutes of the Kickstarter. This helped by using the HUGE amount of traffic that Steam gets to filter through to the Kickstarter campaign, as well as allowing the Kickstarter coverage to lead directly to our Greenlight page.

We hit the top 100 on Greenlight in a week and then the top 4 in 3 weeks; we leveraged the press and internet buzz and pushed traffic to Greelight page and from Greenlight to Kickstarter.

The running of a Kickstarter campaign really is a full time job. We had a few philosophies that we stuck to during the entire campaign run.

1 – Reply to requests for interviews as soon as possible. We tried to get back to journalists within 24 hours of the request. This kept the news about Stasis constant throughout the campaign, with new articles appearing almost daily.

2 – Custom answers all the interviews! This one was important for me, because often I have read interviews where the same ‘copy and paste’ information from the developers and the same quotes tend to pop up. We wanted to make sure that each interview and article was given the respect it deserves! Online press and journalists are the life-blood of any indie.

3 – Phase your Kickstarter events. We gave away several wallpapers, a new game trailer and even the Stretch Goals until we felt that it was time to get them out there. In the world of indie games, news travels fast, and new news becomes old news quickly.

We had some large announcements during the campaign, along with free giveaways. The idea was that even in the slow days, there would be something interesting on the page – something that people could talk about. You don’t want to give away EVERYTHING on launch day – hold some announcements back.

4 – Don’t discount social media! Social media (our focus was on Facebook and Twitter) was a driving force behind much of Stasis’s success. Social media allows for personal stamps of approval on your game and as many advertisers will tell you, word of mouth is the BEST advertising you can get.

Don’t only tweet about your game to other gamers. There are THOUSANDS of people out there who may not be gamers, but will still be interested in your game. I even tweeted Ridley Scott in the hopes of a reply!

We had a page on our website which had easy to access quick links to help promote Stasis. With one click you could post about the game on Facebook or Tweet about it.

Twitter paid advertising is surprisingly effective, but could get very expensive very quickly. We spent $200 and got some fantastic targeted tweets, which lead to a few hundred Alpha downloads (and hopefully a few pledges).

5 – Heavy Focus on “Lets Players”. We put a lot of focus on getting the game into the hands of Youtube authors. The Lets Plays are a FANTASTIC resource for people to get excited about the game.

Stasis is a difficult sell in the world of quick, easily accessible games because you have to clear time and sit down to play it. It’s not a game that you can quickly experience on a lunch break – so having the videos of people doing exactly that let those people who didn’t have the time play the alpha.

When engaging Lets Players, be sure to give them permission to monetize or otherwise use your game on their channels. A simple webpage with all the information and permissions can do this.

6 – Give the press easy access to information. The press is your mouth piece – you want to make it as easy as possible for them to get all the information they need. Having a clear and concise Press Kit is ESSENTIAL. This must not only have all they may need to write a story about your game (logos, names, screenshots), but also links to all previous press releases. The longer that a journalist spends trying to sift through mountains of text to get the relevant information; the less likely they are to promote your game.

The press kit, combined with the 24 hour interview rule got Stasis a massive amount of coverage.

You should also write and format Press Releases correctly – be sure to check out our website or search for examples on how we did this.

A quick note on the press releases – build your own targeted email list.

7 – Cross promotion with other Kickstarters. Something that I had no idea about before we actually started running the campaign was the power of cross promotion with other Kickstarters. Look for other games in your genre and contact the developers running it. I have only had good experiences with other campaign runners.

GENERAL THOUGHTS

The lynch pin in the success of the Stasis Kickstarter lay in our Alpha demo. If you are planning a Kickstarter, I cannot stress enough the importance of a demo. Potential players want to experience what they are backing and the most direct way to do this is through a fully functional demo.

We hosted the Alpha demo on Amazons S3 service ensuring that people had constant access to it throughout the campaign. We also released a torrent of it (hosted for a while by some friends and incredible volunteers) which kept the costs down.

We have had over 40,000 Alpha downloads at 1 gig per download; this would have swamped our webserver. Don’t assume you can serve that many downloads off your VPS or shared hosting platform-it will be disastrous – a day of downtime and you may spoil your campaign.

PayPal donations came in thick and fast once our main goal had been met. Nic had the PayPal page set up so that we could go live with it as soon as we were comfortable. Nic had a meeting with Paypal and their crowd funding department reviewed the page and gave us some pointers. Crowd funding has become a legal grey area in many ways so it’s better to contact them and just make sure that everything is in order.

IN CLOSING…

After 33 days we managed to hit our $140,000 goal.

For an unknown developer on an unknown license hitting that magic $100,000 mark was an incredible feeling, but an exhausting experience! It was a month of extreme highs and lows, but I wouldn’t have changed anything about how we ran our campaign.

I wish anyone looking at going this route a lot of luck! Buy extra coffee…you are going to need it!

You can check out our campaign page here:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bischoff/stasis-2d-isometric-scifi-horror-adventure-game

Our post Kickstarter Pledge page is here;

http://stasiscommunity.com/pledge/

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Kickstarted and the NEW Stasis Community!

AWAKE

 

– Posted 24 hours before the Kickstarer

 

‘It always seems impossible until its done.’ – Nelson Mandela. 1918 – 2013.

To the 4000+ members of The Brotherhood in the final 24 hours of this campaign

I know that the standard practice in the final 24 hours is a call to arms to spread the word about your project! However I feel that you; the backers, journalists, ‘Let’s Players’, forum and community members from around the world….have gone above and beyond already and I want to take this time to thank you.

Three years ago I set out to create my ultimate adventure game. Drawing on a love of Science Fiction and a burning need to tell stories I envisioned Stasis.

Weekends, holidays and nights; Stasis is the result of hard work and pure passion.

My family can attest to the fact that just before we sent our Alpha Demo, my hands were shaking. The first thought that went through my head was “everyone is going to hate this…people aren’t going to enjoy the game. It’s slow…it’s going to crash…”
I started to get feedback and at first I thought that people are just being kind. They didn’t want to hurt an artists feelings. More and more people started to experience the world through the Alpha and I realized just how special Stasis is.

Taking Stasis to Kickstarter was not an easy decision. It took me a long time to weigh up the pros and cons. The thought of having other people put their money and support into my game scared me. To be honest, it still does! I knew that the world of Stasis needs more than a few spare hours to take it to its full potential. It needed MORE of me – and the only way that I could do that is with YOUR help.

This Kickstarter campaign has been an amazing journey. Through Stasis I have met so many amazing and talented people. Kickstarter is a special community that is built on giving – on the power of creating.

I now have the freedom to delve into Stasis and create the ultimate Adventure Game, the game that I wished someone else would make.

Through Kickstarter, Stasis will have one of the greatest composers in video games working to create an incredible tapestry of sound.
Through Kickstarter Stasis will get every waking moment of my time and energy to create a rich, diverse, and terrifying world.
Through Kickstarter Stasis will be ALIVE.

I want to reflect on everything that the 4000 strong collective of people has done; taking an unknown concept from an unknown developer and helping to make it into tangible reality.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

sig

P.S

Join the Stasis Community for Stasis Backers.

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