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Nate

The Lost Fable

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So I finally decided to choose "The Lost Fable" for the name for my game I'm developing.

I'm hoping for a release no later than September 2017.

I've added it to the TGL Games List and created it's basic online presence:
 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheLostFable/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LostFableGame

I have also created some temporary forums today, however obviously there is hardly anything on there at the moment:
http://www.thelostfable.com

Any username registered on the temp forums will also transfer over to the game itself once it goes live, so it is also a good opportunity to 'reserve' your username - even if you don't actually visit the temp forums between now and when the game opens. - Retracted statement. Registration on the temp forums disabled for now,


 

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I've read your concept, and I like it. Once upon a time, I wanted to create a time traveling game as well. But as you've noted, the idea is very art intensive. Not only do you have to find an artist you like but one that also creates everything you need in a timely manner at a price range that doesn't drain your pockets.

 

6 hours ago, Nate.Tube said:

I'm hoping for a release no later than September 2017.

What amount of pets, places, NPCs, and other art do you plan on beginning with? Even if you had someone devoted to this project full time, it may be hard to reach that deadline, to be honest. That's five months to build a world from scratch. And not just a world but a world with an entire history. In addition to the art, there's also writing, and for a project like this, writing will be especially important, because poor writing, typos, and inconsistencies will take away from the believability of the world. Plus, if you want to do the "time traveling" theme well, you'll want to include a build up in your writing, foreshadowing the tragedies that are to come, and you'll also want to make little connections between the present and the past, referencing things that have happened before. Tying it all together well—that's the work of an experienced writer.

 

 

The other thing you should deeply consider is how you plan on monetizing this game. It may not seem like a big deal to pay out of your pocket initially for an idea you really connect with, but after months or years of doing that (or having to pay in hard times financially), it may be more than you bargained for.

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16 hours ago, SingSong said:

I've read your concept, and I like it. Once upon a time, I wanted to create a time traveling game as well. But as you've noted, the idea is very art intensive. Not only do you have to find an artist you like but one that also creates everything you need in a timely manner at a price range that doesn't drain your pockets.

Thanks @SingSong for the words of wisdom. I've been programming  this for a few years, and over the time have acquired bits and pieces of art from here and there. As far as opening, I'm planning for a bare-bones approach to going public, with a plan to continuously develop new content as time progresses. 

I've actually contact artists I've worked with in the past, who are usually quite quick to turn around requests.

16 hours ago, SingSong said:

What amount of pets, places, NPCs, and other art do you plan on beginning with? Even if you had someone devoted to this project full time, it may be hard to reach that deadline, to be honest. That's five months to build a world from scratch. And not just a world but a world with an entire history. In addition to the art, there's also writing, and for a project like this, writing will be especially important, because poor writing, typos, and inconsistencies will take away from the believability of the world. Plus, if you want to do the "time traveling" theme well, you'll want to include a build up in your writing, foreshadowing the tragedies that are to come, and you'll also want to make little connections between the present and the past, referencing things that have happened before. Tying it all together well—that's the work of an experienced writer.

To start with, I'm only going to have a basic world with a number of things to interact with, with an approach to adding more as time goes on. I've been building the world for a very long time, detailing how the past and the present interact with each other is intensive but also amazing. I have some writer friends who helped me put the initial idea together as far as storylines go, and closer to the time I'll hire someone to help me implement it, and flesh out speech or interactions. For now I'll be happy to open with just 1 or 2 stories available. The way I have developed it means we can "change" lore using additional stories.
One example of this:
To the north of the world are cliffs and a single passage blocked by a boulder. At the moment I dont have anything beyond that boulder planned in detail. Once I decide to expand the world beyond the boulder, a new story can be made available that will send the user back X years where their actions in that time period allows the NPCs to move the boulder. This in turn means when the user returns to the present day, that boulder isnt there any more, and the user can then travel past it.

I've got many different things like this which all link together to make the story actually unique to each user depending on your actions in the past, or the order in which you complete the stories (but ultimately keeping the world somewhat similar to each other).

 

16 hours ago, SingSong said:

The other thing you should deeply consider is how you plan on monetizing this game. It may not seem like a big deal to pay out of your pocket initially for an idea you really connect with, but after months or years of doing that (or having to pay in hard times financially), it may be more than you bargained for.


For a startup, I have a friend who has been involved in successful kickstarters/indiegogo projects in the past. At the moment I dont think that would be neccessary, however he is putting together a Case Study to demonstrate the pros and cons of this approach.

For continuous monetization, once the site is up and open, and there is enough content on there, eventually I would like to offer 3 different methods for users to support the game running costs:
- Weekly/Monthly subscription/"premium account".
Which provide perks and benefits with additional features and content. The difference however will be that a user will only pay for what they use. If they purchase a week subscription, they get 7 days of usage. Days a user is not active are not counted towards these days used. This means if you have 5 days of premium left and you visit today, and then you dont login for 2 weeks, when you come back, you would still have 4 days remaining. I'm currently deciding what counts as "active" - most likely if you do anything that changes your gold balance/item count/forum posts. This reason for this is: you might have the game set as your homepage and it opens when you open your browser, but then you navigate away to do something else -- this would not count as being active, and therefore wouldnt reduce your days left. The user then actually gets what they pay for.

- Pre-free early access content
I'll likely also have items/beasts created which are available for purchase with real money using a premium currency. I'll have the game set so that these items eventually drop into the free pool and are then available to everyone. It just means those that are able to support the website will be able to get the special content earlier, while those that arent able to support will still eventually get access to the same content.

- Content Packs
Content packs are an idea I had from the early days of developing my game which have evolved over time. First I need to give an explanation on how they work:

------
 The below isnt how it sounds. This unlocks content, not awards it.

How a content pack works:
Let's take Christmas for example.
I could have 5 items and 2 beasts created for Christmas, which are allocated to "Christmas 2017 Content Pack".

These 5 items are then placed to restock in the "General Store" and the 2 beasts are set to appear in the Wildlands of the game for battle/capture.

If a user visits the store before activating the Content Pack, they would not see those items restock, and they would not be able to find the 2 beasts in the wild.

The Content Pack is a physical item within the game, and during December 2017, perhaps every user is given one, or the user has to jump through a few hoops to get multiples of them etc.

Once a user has it, and they "activate" it via their Backpack (inventory), this CP is then permanently unlocked on that user's account. Activating does NOT give the user any of the items/beasts etc. It just means that now they are capable of seeing them in the shops/wilderness etc.

The user would then be able to turn this content pack on or off whenever they like - the christmas items would stock in the shop forever.

This opens a brand new reason to go back in time - we could have exclusive content packs that the user can only get by changing their world to be a certain configuration.

------
With that in mind, on the topic of monetization, I think it would be good to provide content packs that can be purchased to add additional items to the game. They would likely be purchasable using real money or in game currency. This allows people who arent able to support the game the opportunity to still get their hands on the content pack.



------

 

As for overall development and management of the game, I used to own IcePets.com, so I know that 5 months for a release is a bold statement - one that will be tough but is realistic enough to achieve.

Ultimately, even if we open in September into an open Beta status and just having some of the main features available, I would be happy :)

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On 4/29/2017 at 2:17 PM, Nate.Tube said:

I've actually contact artists I've worked with in the past, who are usually quite quick to turn around requests.

 
 

It's good that you already know people that you like working with. I hope that works out for you.

 

On 4/29/2017 at 2:17 PM, Nate.Tube said:

I have some writer friends who helped me put the initial idea together as far as storylines go, and closer to the time I'll hire someone to help me implement it, and flesh out speech or interactions. For now I'll be happy to open with just 1 or 2 stories available. The way I have developed it means we can "change" lore using additional stories.

 
 
 
 

If you need help proof-reading or want an honest critique of sorts, I can help you with that. I can give you input from a writer/editor perspective as well as the perspective of a pet site player and be able to tell you whether you're going in the right direction or not.

 

On 4/29/2017 at 2:17 PM, Nate.Tube said:

To the north of the world are cliffs and a single passage blocked by a boulder. At the moment I dont have anything beyond that boulder planned in detail. Once I decide to expand the world beyond the boulder, a new story can be made available that will send the user back X years where their actions in that time period allows the NPCs to move the boulder. This in turn means when the user returns to the present day, that boulder isnt there any more, and the user can then travel past it.

 
 
 
 

So you don't only travel back in time, you're also able to alter the present by past actions? Interesting. I would like to see this come to life.

 

On 4/29/2017 at 2:17 PM, Nate.Tube said:

I've got many different things like this which all link together to make the story actually unique to each user

 
 

Very cool. If you're able to make it happen, I'll be a player for sure.

 

On 4/29/2017 at 2:17 PM, Nate.Tube said:

For a startup, I have a friend who has been involved in successful kickstarters/indiegogo projects in the past. At the moment I dont think that would be neccessary, however he is putting together a Case Study to demonstrate the pros and cons of this approach.

 
 
 
 

Pros: Extra money, helps build up hype for your game, gets people invested financially (so they'll hopefully stick around).

Cons:

-Some of the Kickstarter rewards that do best will negatively impact your game long-term (i.e. Kickstarter-exclusives or other limited items).

-You will need to spend time creating rewards and tiers because these will make or break your campaign. This time could potentially be put to better use.

-Even if your Kickstarter is successfully funded, you may end up being in the hole financially. This happens if you set up rewards without much forethought. And example of this is the Evocality Kickstarter. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/evocality/evocality

This Kickstarter raised $8000 out of a $5000 goal, but the owner stated that even after that they didn't have enough money. Why? Because the money they earned had to be spent on the rewards themselves. If you look at their tiers, you'll see where this all falls apart. At $30, you'll get one custom dog. At $50, you'll get 2. At $75, you can design two items with an artist, plus get both the customs. Everything above that tier is another reward of designing items and getting customs. This type of system of rewards will make money in the Kickstarter but as an owner, you have to consider that not only will these customs take artists' time away from other parts of the site, every piece will need to be paid for, which reduces the overall profit.

-Aside from offering customs or Kickstarter-exclusives, what rewards can you offer that are appealing and will not be detrimental to you or your site over time? Again, this takes a lot of thought. 

-Lastly, considering that the amount you'll make is rather small (about 2k-10k on average for these kinds of games), would it be better for you to make the game public first and focus on later cash shop items instead? After all, if you make cash shop items rather than Kickstarter-exclusive items, those items can be sold indefinitely and continue to make you money over time.

 

On 4/29/2017 at 2:17 PM, Nate.Tube said:

- Weekly/Monthly subscription/"premium account".
Which provide perks and benefits with additional features and content. The difference however will be that a user will only pay for what they use. If they purchase a week subscription, they get 7 days of usage. Days a user is not active are not counted towards these days used. This means if you have 5 days of premium left and you visit today, and then you dont login for 2 weeks, when you come back, you would still have 4 days remaining. I'm currently deciding what counts as "active" - most likely if you do anything that changes your gold balance/item count/forum posts. This reason for this is: you might have the game set as your homepage and it opens when you open your browser, but then you navigate away to do something else -- this would not count as being active, and therefore wouldnt reduce your days left. The user then actually gets what they pay for.

 
 
 

What do you think the profit potential actually is for a system like this? If you end up having 800 active monthly users, let's assume 50 will be willing to pay for a premium account (so 6.25% of users, a little less than 1/10 people). If you charge $10 a month (which is pretty high for a monthly subscription because you're competing with other subscriptions like gym memberships, Netflix, etc), then you'll make $500 a month, minus fees. If you charge $5 (which is more in line with the price of these "gold" accounts on pet sites), that's $250, which is small change for any active site. Now consider that you will also only have people pay for the days they are active. Only a small portion of your active members will log in every day, but I'll assume that the majority of the people that want to buy a premium account are active daily. Let's say that 30 are online every day (so they pay $5 a month for premium), but the other 20 are only active on average for 15 days a month, so they don't pay on those days. In two months, the 30 active people pay $300. The 20 semi-active players pay $100. That's $400 in two months, which sounds all right, but again, this is assuming you have about 800 active monthly users when most sites probably have 100.

Anyway, you'd lose $100 in this hypothetical scenario just to have it so people only pay for the days they're active? How does that make sense from a business standpoint? If someone pays for a monthly subscription, it's up to them to use it as much as possible.

 

On 4/29/2017 at 2:17 PM, Nate.Tube said:

- Pre-free early access content
I'll likely also have items/beasts created which are available for purchase with real money using a premium currency. I'll have the game set so that these items eventually drop into the free pool and are then available to everyone. It just means those that are able to support the website will be able to get the special content earlier, while those that arent able to support will still eventually get access to the same content.

 
 
 

"Eventually drop into the free pool and are then available to everyone." What you're saying is that there's little benefit in buying these things. You as the site owner either have to rely on people's charity and willingness to support the site, or you have to hope that people are interested in having things before others so much so that they're willing to pay for it. That kind of "hope" is not helpful in having a successful business because although it may work for you, it may also fail.

 

On 4/29/2017 at 2:17 PM, Nate.Tube said:

This opens a brand new reason to go back in time - we could have exclusive content packs that the user can only get by changing their world to be a certain configuration.

------
With that in mind, on the topic of monetization, I think it would be good to provide content packs that can be purchased to add additional items to the game. They would likely be purchasable using real money or in game currency. This allows people who arent able to support the game the opportunity to still get their hands on the content pack.

 
 
 

I like this idea of "Content Packs". This is unique and interesting. I think it could bring in some money because many people on these sites like to collect things. However, "purchasable using real money or in-game currency": Again, although it is "nice" to allow the option to buy these with in-game currency instead of real money, you're going to lower your potential for profits. Why not, instead, simply allow cash shop buyers to sell and trade their purchased packs? That will give people another reason to buy them (because even if they don't want the pack themselves, they can sell it for site currency to someone that may want it).

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Hi @SingSong , thanks for the valuable input! These posts are getting longer and longer haha!

I'll respond to some of the more detailed points;

The Kickstarter/Indegogo;
I'm against it personally, but I'm always willing to open up to ideas that are different to my own. I'll certainly take your input into consideration when talking to my friend about this. He seems to think it is a great idea, however I'm currently 75% certain I open without doing it. I'll keep you updated.

The Monthly subscriptions:
I understand your input, and I agree that it has the potential to bring in less income. It currently isnt coded, so there is alot to take into consideration. The logic behind that method is that it makes the "premium" account seem more "value for money" and is different to other game subscription models. Taking your netflix example, I've had netflix for countless years (I virtually have Death Note and Attack On Titan on repeat lol), however sometimes there is weeks where I wont touch netflix. If a Netflix competitor was to offer something like this, where I pay the same price, but it only takes time off when I login, I would certainly consider using that service. This is also true for games I play.. I login to Runescape once every few months to see what is new.. If premium accounts did that.. I would have one most definately.

Most people that pay for premium accounts are likely to be users who will login to their favourite sites almost daily. I'm not able to provide analytical evidence on this, since I no longer have it, however when I used to run IcePets, this was one of the things I noticed - Gold Account members usually visit every day, if not 90% of the week. Your input is definitely food for thought, and perhaps once I decide to introduce this, it could be a conversation to have with the users of the game, and perhaps trial run both of them to see what happens..

Pre-free early access content
Correct. Technically there is no real benefit other than having access to it early. The flipside is that once the content drops into the "free pool", what this means is that it is then available through normal means. It still might be extremely difficult to obtain those specific items (for example, you may have to reach level 50 in a specific quest before the quest can start randomly rewarding it etc).

 

Content Packs
The reason for this is because following the path you suggest has a horrible effect on the economy where users who pay real money for these items sell for millions of onsite currency and are then "instantly rich". I would probably add exclusive content packs periodically for real-money, but i dont want that to be the main focus of the game.


The above monetizations are geared towards upkeep and paying for staff for the website, and I'm happy to change and tweak once they are added. Overall, my goal is to make an enriching user experience but also make a product that can support and sustain itself. I'm not expecting to make any money from it, so I'll likely re-invest anything made into hardware and art purchasing :)
 

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Well, the other thing to note about Kickstarters is that they're most likely to be successful if you have a following for the project already or if you have someone on the team that has an existing fanbase. It may be hard to find many people to donate when you only have a few months to advertise before you want to go public.

 

On 5/1/2017 at 10:25 AM, Nate.Tube said:

If a Netflix competitor was to offer something like this, where I pay the same price, but it only takes time off when I login, I would certainly consider using that service. This is also true for games I play.. I login to Runescape once every few months to see what is new.. If premium accounts did that.. I would have one most definately.

 
 
 

The difference with something like Netflix is that that hypothetical competitor would essentially offer the same service (i.e. you could watch the same movies under a different service company), so yes, you may consider using that new company instead. But with something like a pet site, each one offers its own experience. So someone willing to pay for a premium account for whatever benefits they gain from it can't just take their money elsewhere when someone has a cheaper model for premium.

 

Regarding your comment about how you would pay for Runescape's premium account if it would be like you describe, I don't disagree that more users would pay for a premium like this. However, would the amount of additional people that are willing to pay for premium even out the amount of money you lose from members that were willing to pay for the older style model in which every day regardless of whether they play or not is counted against them? It's debatable and would require some testing.

 

Good luck with whatever you decide to do here. It would be interesting to see if changing this makes a big difference or not.

 

On 5/1/2017 at 10:25 AM, Nate.Tube said:

Pre-free early access content
Correct. Technically there is no real benefit other than having access to it early. The flipside is that once the content drops into the "free pool", what this means is that it is then available through normal means. It still might be extremely difficult to obtain those specific items (for example, you may have to reach level 50 in a specific quest before the quest can start randomly rewarding it etc).

 
 
 

 

I like the idea of making these items more difficult to obtain when they become available to everyone. If these will only be rewarded through difficult or random means, I can see that being enough of a hassle that some people may be willing to pay for them beforehand.

 

On 5/1/2017 at 10:25 AM, Nate.Tube said:

Content Packs
The reason for this is because following the path you suggest has a horrible effect on the economy where users who pay real money for these items sell for millions of onsite currency and are then "instantly rich". I would probably add exclusive content packs periodically for real-money, but i dont want that to be the main focus of the game.

 
 
 

 

I have never personally seen a problem with this model. Looking at this from the perspective of a game owner, is there a problem with your users becoming instantly rich? You are right; this is a possibility. But you have to consider:

1. If your players play the game long enough, they will eventually become rich. Does it matter when this happens? If they want to buy their way to success, why take that away from them, especially when it will benefit you and your game because you'll make money from it?

2. Your players becoming rich should not impact your game negatively because it should be set up in a way that requires things like skill or problem solving or completion of quests, too, which prevent players from excelling in the game with virtual currency alone.

 

On 5/1/2017 at 10:25 AM, Nate.Tube said:

The above monetizations are geared towards upkeep and paying for staff for the website, and I'm happy to change and tweak once they are added. Overall, my goal is to make an enriching user experience but also make a product that can support and sustain itself. I'm not expecting to make any money from it, so I'll likely re-invest anything made into hardware and art purchasing

 
 
 

 

Well, I hope it works out for you. I'll be following this project.

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Read your post. You bring up some very good points. I actually wrote a blog post years ago on VPL titled "Why browser games don't make good games." and it had to do with the fact that there is no "end goal". You're basically left to play the same features over and over, which don't offer stimulation to your mind anymore (some features are rather mindless "click" activities to begin with).

It astounds me sometimes that people can play on sites like Subeta year and year when after playing for a couple months and seeing the holiday events, there's nothing new to encounter. I remember someone saying something like, "I see no problem with the holidays being the same every year. In real life, we do the same things every year, too, after all." But real life holidays and online events shouldn't be set up the same. Holidays in real life have to do with spending time with family and friends and getting out of the routine of working and instead being able to relax with the people you care about for a moment and reward yourself and others with something fun. But online, these events should require some challenge and skill and teamwork (on top of the community getting together for a moment), and it shouldn't be the same every year, and it shouldn't involve collecting items that appear on your screen after a screen refresh (this is an event I've seen on multiple sites). It should be something designed with creativity and thoughtfulness geared toward an adult audience that is capable of completing difficult tasks.

Continuing on that thought, sites tend to reuse the same kind of functionality used on other games without altering it to fit their game or improve the feature in any way. I think that in some cases, these features are seen again and again functioning one way and when designing a game, it's hard to look at that feature with new eyes and really question if that's the best way for the feature to be. But when thinking about it, shops and the restock system, health and happiness bars being raised by food and toys, or the inventory and "daily" features, as you mention, are all things that should be up for revision, because not only will differences in those main features set a game apart from others, it may potentially lead to a more interesting game.

One idea you mention, a backpack upgrade, that does this for the inventory enables feature-to-feature quick stock without backpack involvement.. eg; 'Gallery' directly to 'User Store'" is one of those things that seems like such a simple change for the better but is constantly overlooked. (I love this change, by the way). And this just goes to show that there is so much more to change and improve upon these kinds of games that hasn't been done before.

 

I'm not sure how you plan to set up multiplayer games, but these are a couple examples I've seen on browser games and both seemed to work pretty well:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5nVjQBgtYc

And https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLsUCN0DAt4

 

You can of course change the human avatars to whatever display avatars you plan to have on your site and simplify these in some ways, but being able to chat with others while playing and choosing "rooms" to play within are the main things that work well from these two examples. I'd like to see your multiplayer example when you have something ready.

 

And now that you mention it ("Many pet games these days have a "send score",  leaderboard or "see if you can beat X Player's time of xx"), I agree that it would be wise for new games to possibly change that system of gameplay in some ways. There's so much more you can do with a few changes.

 

"...we are developing the story in such a way that users can go back to experience different segments of the storyline many times over, perhaps even make different decisions, completely altering the outcome during their second, third or twelth playthrough! More info on storylines to come in the future"

I like this and am interested in learning more.

 

(Sorry that I keep coming back, haha, but these topics of conversation that you bring up interest me.)

 

Any news on the art portion of your site?

 

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2 hours ago, Digital said:

Looking forward to seeing more of this. I love the technical insight you put into the latest update in how Item Systems should be laid out. I am happy to say I have always architected mine the way you are going :P 

... Makes me feel good man!

Thanks man, I appreciate you taking the time to read it :-)

 

Glad I seem to be doing something right! Haha

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3 hours ago, Digital said:

Well, me about 5 years ago would have started as you originally did, so don't feel too bad, we all have to learn.

Actually your update would make one heck of a good guide.

I will try and convert it into guide form as a first draft in the next week or so, if you think it would be beneficial as a guide on TGL :-)

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Hey TGL!

Another update for TLG is some more detail on specifically the management of your User Shop/Market :)

Link here (This links to an external site and should open in a new tab).

We're looking at opening to a few people to test it out in the coming months, so watch this space to find out how to register for that.

-Nate :)

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