While we are working on to streamline the current features and eliminate the reported bugs, it's about time to start planning the next feature group to implement.
So once again, it is your turn to decide what you would like to try next!
We all know the “Pay to Win” concept. A player starts to play something easily, but as the game moves forward, there are "sudden", artificial obstacles on the path to victory that cannot be overcome without a few special elements or features that you can only obtain for real money.
Providing game-changing elements for money in competitive multi-player is pretty much the same concept: you pay, or you lose. It's not an honest approach: you offer a free game which is anything but free. This behavior is so widespread it has already infested the phrase “Free to Play” with negative connotations.
The other nasty thing is uncertainty on victory conditions. An open world with no end date or clear winning conditions, wrapped around with a highly competitive design (such as a strategy game) is a bottomless demand for just one more turn: the deeper you are in the game, the harder is to give up your hard-won achievements (see sunk cost fallacy). Moreover, in a competitive game, leaving a game before it’s done is typically interpreted as capitulation - and people don’t like running away. So you stay on the treadmill and keep spending money on something you don't really enjoy anymore, because nobody wants to leave the field humiliated. But the game is so lengthy it is likely you will never leave with dignity.
We are not naivé, but are kind of idealistic in the sense that we can get quite attached to ideas. One of those is that, fueled by our own game experiences, we wanted to make Feudums a truly Fair to Play game which avoids the aforementioned problems. Why? Because we hate those player-milking schemes as a gamer. And also from a practical viewpoint: we need to build a healthy, strong community if we want our MMO to persist, and if you spend 8+ years fully commited to a single indie project, you learn to play the long game. Community building is our long game. "Pay 2 Win" would poison the whole user experience and would just make the community toxic. No, thank you.
So, to achieve our goal, we have strictly followed two basic rules:
If you're into sci-fi and read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress from Robert A. Heinlein, or you had previously studied economics, or you're merely a conscious person with both feet on the ground, you probably know that "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch" (the adage behind the aforementioned acronym).
What makes this lunch - Feudums - costly is the fact that we want it to be free and fully accessible, when we obviously have costs that we have to cover - the game is free but developing and maintaining it is expensive. We don't want to pretend that is not the case - but we can avoid certain milking strategies and play with our cards on the table, so you can decide if our monetization strategy is acceptable to you. We do not attach any fine or hidden print.
What you need to understand is that we need to cover both the cost of developing the game and then the cost of maintaining and improving the game. If we do it for free, it will be delivered at a snail's speed and the quality won't stand; and if we don't maintain it, it will not work reliably and it will not evolve. That is not good either for us or the community.
Lunch is not free, it's just based on a different recipe and it considers you partners, not dairy cattle. You do not have to pay for the base game - consider it as a DRM-free indie game - and your help is voluntary and rewarded, not artifically forced and expected. It does not mean that we don't need it, though.
So, how would it work...?
Our recipe here is not too complicated. We are self-financing as much as we can, we attempt to get some of the scarce grants available for non-Unreal projects, and we rely on your support. Self-financing is currently the backbone of development, but it brings inaccuracy to our roadmap and makes development speed unpredictable: we first need to earn the money that we can spend on Feudums, which means our time is divided between Feudums and paid gigs.
To eliminate this uncertainty, we rely on you. We have created a Patreon page where you can support the project month by month. The money donated there will be spent entirely and exclusively on Feudums and you will get a host of exclusive perks in return. The monthly commitment is intentional: you don't have to trust us in advance, if we don't perform to your expectations, you can withdraw at any time. The benefit is twofold: it both encourages us and protects your interests. We see this as a more equal set-up than starting a traditional crowdfunding project, like Kickstarter.
If you wish to see us succeed and more importantly, to deliver on a reliable pace, please consider supporting us. If you have some idea for tweaking the perks, don't hesitate to let us know!
As soon as the game is ready- and stable enough to stand on its own, our main source of income will shift to voluntary purchases (voluntary as none of these purchases are required to play). This will work as follows:
Our main idea is that while we continue to offer the game for free, we also offer high-quality extras for a price that you never question whether it’s a fair deal. So, expect price tags well below that of rival titles. This would make it a lot easier to contribute on an individual level while still allowing a large community to easily keep Feudums as a profitable project, so it can continue to evolve. Perhaps not on an epic Fortnight (did I just spell it wrong? Oops, sorry! Is it Forknite then?) or DotA level, but... it would be a recognizable symbiotic situation with the community: we rely on these voluntary purchases to stay afloat and it effectively seals the deal that we cannot turn our backs on our player base and will continue to develop the game for them. Win-win.
For these purchases, we are going to introduce an in-game virtual currency, Golden Forint, that a player can buy for real money and use to purchase cosmetics and extras (see below). There is no magic in this part. Of course, Golden Forints will be transferable between players... so you could
pay off someone to support your claim for the throne! aid your fellow brothers, friends and family.
What you could purchase from your Golden Forints?
We could also offer a monthly support model or a one time purchase for those who don't want all the hassle of virtual currencies but would like to support us and get a sense of owning the "full game". Under this option, you would simply get everything that would be otherwise unlockable with virtual currency (within reasonable limits, like you can’t have a hundred private games at once).
It’s also worth noting that dozens of in-game achievements, most Victory Conditions and a couple other things also yield Golden Forints as a reward, and, on the other hand, there will be exclusive cosmetics that you can never unlock for virtual currency; you can only get them for in-game accomplishments. If we implement ads - maybe not, or maybe on just selected platforms - we do not want to break the flow of gaming or act like that would be a forced toll before loading a game, so it would be integrated on a non-intrusive way and be presented only when you want it – i.e. as a voluntary, rewarded action that yields Golden Forints and should be specifically invoked by the player.
Well, if we cannot remain independent and end up teaming with a publisher, investor or some partners, we promise it will only happen if it doesn't hurt our two basic principles and this is clearly expressed in the paperwork. If needed, we'll be looking for a partner who shares the same basic principles and would treat our community - and our project - with respect.
If we cannot protect these principles, we'd rather go bankrupt and close the project with broken hearts. Then we would get totally drunk. Hopefully, in that order. So, please, simply don't let this happen to us.
We want to do what is right for everyone involved. The key take away from all of this is our solemn promise: Feudums will be winnable without spending any of your hard-earned money and no one will be able to spend a single cent on anything that will lead to an in-game advantage. This is our most basic promise to our players, and we hope that you will respect that and give us the support we need to finish the game. But please, we’d love to know your preferences too!