I believe we are long overdue for a development update, so here's what's currently going on with us and Extrasolar. Mainly:Season 2
After launch the majority of our efforts were focused on promotion and fixes, but in the last couple months we've started to get serious about Seasons 2 and 3. Pre-production is just about finished for Season 2, and we'll be moving into full-on production very soon. Rob and I have been working closely with Lucas and Andrew on nailing down the story for both seasons and it's really coming together. Even more exciting to me is the new locations; as was hinted at if you finished Season 1, Season 2 will be taking place on an entirely new island and it will be very different from Artocos. I've already started roughing out the basic terrain and will be finalizing it with Andrew later this week. That's only the beginning of a very long process, but it's an exciting start that gives us a big idea of what to expect going forward.
Speaking of a long process...Timing and budget
It's going to be a while before Season 2 is done and launched. We are for sure committed, but as things stand Season 2 is going to be no small amount of work and will have a much smaller budget than Season 1. This is somewhat ok because a lot of the budget for Season 1 went toward developing tech which we won't need to do again, but it is still a much lower budget than we would like. The hard truth is that it's been difficult for us to build an audience for Extrasolar so far. Funds are coming in at a rate that is enough to sustain the game's operating costs, but little beyond that. The hope was that income from Season 1 would pay for the next 2 seasons, but unless we grow our player base by an order of 50 that's just not going to happen, and that's not even considering recouping the money we put in to produce Season 1. We're managing to stay afloat off of money that still comes in from Cogs, but the real Season 2 budget is probably going to need to come from somewhere else, which brings us to...Kickstarter
We're only just beginning to consider the thought of Kickstarter as an option, but unless we suddenly get an endorsement from Notch or one of our other current pursuits unexpectedly pays out big (we are, for instance, working on getting Extrasolar into classrooms) we might be turning to crowdfunding to try and get Season 2 out the door. We know Kickstarter is no guarantee for success and if we go that route we'll be carefully considering what the best approach is, and how best to not alienate the users who have essentially already pledged by becoming Pioneer level supporters. Kickstarter does open up some fun opportunities though. How would you like to skype with someone on the team or meet us in person? XRI branded swag, physical prints of photos, and having new photobionts named after you would almost certainly be on the docket.
If we go the Kickstarter route we will definitely need all the help you can give us, of course. Apart from helping us spread the word it would be great to include things like video clips from players talking about their experience playing through Season 1.Other things
There are still fixes and updates that will be affecting Season 1 as well as 2 and 3. Brian got terrain decals working which allowed us to add rover tracks and will help give the Season 2 terrain a more detailed, unique look. Keith has been spending some time on a version of the interface that works way better for small mobile screens, something that's been on our todo list forever.
We also made this video that managed to briefly find its way onto the front page of Reddit: http://youtu.be/13ldvVx_pJoWrapping it up
Even though we're not seeing player numbers as high as we'd like we're quite proud of what we've accomplished in the last four years. We knew going in that there was a high chance Extrasolar would never recover the costs put into it, and I'm pretty sure the team as a whole is just happy to have had the chance to work on such a unique, crazy project. Thousands of pictures are taken every day by players and it's a joy to see every one of them and pick ones to hilight
. Plus you can't help but feel like your whole life has been validated when someone sends you pictures like this: