Every game has a different story. Each one of the titles Indie Voyage has taken on has a very different path to success from the others. Have a look.
A Tale of the Professional Hobbyist
Arthur left his day job to pursue his dream of developing Reassembly. Colin met Arthur and the two decided that Indie Voyage would be a good way to help ensure the success of the project he’d put so much effort and risk into.
The first thing we did to set up Arthur for success was to change the name of the game. While the Gamma Void moniker held meaning for Arthur as a programmer, it was actually very similar to a few other titles coming out at the same time (Into the Void, Bit Trip VOID, etc). Reassembly not only was unique, but described one of the core mechanics of the game title: reassembling your ship each time it’s completely or partially destroyed… something that happens with terrific frequency.
When we settled on a few of those items, we began planning our Kickstarter. Arthur had a decent group of dedicated players by then, and involving them in the process was terrific. Getting their feedback and listening to their feature requests was one of Arthur’s strongest facets as a developer. That and his affinity to spending time responding to them made the community vibrant and strong.
The Kickstarter itself went very smoothly though was a harrowing and stressful experience for all parties. This experience has given Indie Voyage a unique perspective on the funding process, allowing us to advise and set realistic expectations for the developers we work with.
We wound up funding for about 15% more than the initial request, something that didn’t actually happen until about 3 days remaining in the Kickstarter process. Once it happened, we all took a day to celebrate, and then it was back to work.
Reassembly was approved for Greenlight without any requisite time garnering votes. This made a focus on Early Access very important. Most of the marketing was done via Twitter and we ensured a serious group of players by keeping the price-point very high until we left Early Access. This kept our reviews high, it kept our fans happy as we were able to maintain a high level of communication with them, and the transition from Early Access to live was incredibly smooth. Reassembly shot out of the gate, remaining in the top sales chart for nearly a week before settling into it’s longer term day-to-day sales numbers.
Kickstarter? Who Needs it!
Jeremy, developer of Venture Forth, came out of college wanting to build his own Indie game. Inspired by cavern systems in Australia, he set out to build a game he’d originally called Labyrinth.
As we did with Reassembly, we advised Jeremy to take on a new title with a more descriptive element than his original. Venture Forth wound up being the one: suggesting exploration and danger, exactly what lies at the core of the game.
Jeremy built his own 3d game engine from scratch. This is not a task for amateurs. He built it as an exercise to give him full control over the game from the beginning, and his ability to improve the title over time has come from his intimate knowledge of the code.
Indie Voyage aided Jeremy in finding a way to improve the graphics, hiring a 3rd party artist – Alex Rude – to help nail down a cohesive feel.
We then launched a Kickstarter that would, ultimately, be unsuccessful. While not terribly useful to Jeremy at the time, this would prove illuminating to Indie Voyage and incredibly important to our growth as a company.
Venture Forth’s timeline was extended due to this setback, but we managed to push through into an Early Access launch about 9 months after the original intended date.
A Necessary Transition
Meeting Chris of Batholith Games at GDC was the first step in the process. At GDC, he was showing off his title as a Free to Play game, something Indie Voyage doesn’t deal in. But, after a discussion after the conference, we decided the best way forward with the title was to move it from Free to Play into the Paid Title realm.
The reasoning for this is that the game appeals to an audience of gamers that primarily play on PC. The game has roots in 80s Western CRPGs and players (like Rob of Indie Voyage) are vastly more comfortable paying for games up front, especially games like this.
As the game was further along than Venture Forth, it’d launch prior to VF even though we signed on together long after. Indie Voyage’s primary duty, therefore, is to push sales via marketing, and building a specific audience.
The game launched successfully and appears to be doing very well at the moment. More on this in the future.