In Case of Emergency, Release Raptor

In Case of Emergency, Release Raptor

 This topic has been pinned, so it's probably important
x-4000 (Chris McElligott Park)  [developer] Aug 28, 2016 @ 5:01pm
Crazy to pull it this early?
Hey folks,

I know this is a sentiment that is coming up, given the game has been out for such a short period of time, so I figured I would answer that here. I was not expecting to do this at all. It does seem crazy to pull it this early, from a lot of perspectives.

I have a very finite amount of money, though. I've been bleeding money for two years now, and am very very low on things. Stopping this now versus waiting a few days is the difference in at least a hundred dollars in portions of refunds that I'll have to cover. I don't just get to give the money back and that's it; the credit card fees and so on will be passed to Arcen. So it's not lost revenue, it's actually an expense on top of that.

I am far too familiar with this sort of situation, and in the past I have acted far too slowly. Right now I have a window of opportunity where I can do something different. I wish I had done so many times in the past. It may seem like a rash decision, but I'm sitting here looking at the numbers, both of expenses and income and all the historical data. It's such an overwhelmingly extraordinarily unpleasant view that there's only one conclusion to be made, really.

Before there was some hope given the momentum with streamers and the possibility of advertising helping awareness, etc. But they both led to flatline and dropping sales, despite the increases in visibility. We spent more today on advertising than we made on the game. And we spent more on salary and whatnot Friday than we made on all the games combined.

How Finite?
We DO have enough money that we could have made it to what likely would have been a "Mostly Positive" or better reception 1.0 build of the game. At least I like to think it would have been at least that well-received, but it might have been Mixed with only a couple of months or remaining development, I don't know.

The problem was not, in and of itself, making it to a basic-level-acceptable (depending on your definition) 1.0 build of Raptor. The big problem was what would happen NEXT. Aka, we'd be out of money, and thus also out of options.

Raptor was showing all the hallmarks of a game that was going to be forever misunderstood as a Goat Simulator knockoff, and likely not revisited by press and so on when coming out of EA. "You only get one release on Steam" is quite true.

To sum up the situation a bit differently: if something didn't change, I was at risk of losing the business. I wasn't going to dawdle around while that's the case. We've never been remotely so close to the edge before, and it worries me greatly.

With that sort of reception to our primary expense in terms of development costs, that creates a situation where I'm basically guaranteed to come out of the other end of the dev process into a pit of failure. The amount of drain that causes on morale is... staggering. That makes it even less likely that Raptor would be the game we all wanted it to be at 1.0.

You "Wished You Did This Before" With Another Project?
Specifically I was referring to not doing Valley 2 at all, and stopping Stars Beyond Reach last May. Those are the two things I would have changed, and they would not have affected our reputation as they were not out yet.

The release of Valley 2 (which we gave free to all owners of Valley 1) was not something that impacted anyone's impression of Valley 1, it didn't help reception, it cost me something like $200k, and it was a big mistake. I was trying to be customer-friendly to a fault, and this was after 3 months of HEAVY post-release support and I think it was 15 months of development prior to that, at least 6 of which had been in a semi-public alpha/beta status (this was before EA).

Some folks really love Valley 1, but in fact they love it MORE than Valley 2. And in terms of the folks where they did not love Valley 1, giving them a second game for free with improved art and some other things changed around really did not solve the situation. It cost me a lot, but I felt like at least I could look at myself proudly in the mirror. In retrospect, I feel like I could have spent another month or so on Valley 1 and wrapped that up and called it a day.

With Stars Beyond Reach, we had something like 150 beta testers at that point, and the game was kinda going well and kinda not. Certain things were fun, certain things were not, and a variety of things were not gelling. This was not how I wanted to release the game, and yet the release date was approaching pretty fast despite almost a year of development at that point.

I had the chance to either set it aside and work on something else, or to keep trying and push into the dangerous summer months (as far as release timing goes). I chose the latter. And then pushed it back several more times, before ultimately giving up around October and saying we'd come back to it this year after Starward Rogue. Which we did, and Keith has been having some more luck with it than I did, but at the moment I still have a $420k+ investment into something that may or may not ever see the light of day.

Ultimately in both of those cases it would have disappointed some folks that wanted something that did not yet exist, but it wouldn't have angered anyone who paid for something that hadn't been delivered. The latter is something I've been careful to never put myself in a position of possibly doing, and I felt like I was creeping into that territory here.

So I pulled the plug and we have the refund thing going on and that's the longwinded story of why this happened the way it did.

Hope that helps to clear up a few things.

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Showing 1-15 of 15 comments
goopah Aug 28, 2016 @ 5:32pm 
Geez. This game making biz is much more complicated than I realized!

Thanks for the explanation. I REALLY hope things work out for you, as we need you to stay around.
x-4000 (Chris McElligott Park)  [developer] Aug 28, 2016 @ 5:49pm 
Thank you! I intend to stay around if at all possible. It's definitely a complex business, and it's only gotten more so in the last two years. There was a "golden age" there from 2010 through early 2014 where it was much easier for a while, and apparently I got complacent during that period.

The business was basically nonexistent prior to 2009 (indie-wise, in terms of any volume of multi-person teams in particular), so now is far better than then, even so.
Kurt Russell Aug 28, 2016 @ 5:57pm 
Thanks for being so open. Hopefully your Kickstarter will be successful, if there's one team that deserves some good news coming their way, that's Arcen.
Aklyon Aug 28, 2016 @ 6:27pm 
This sounds even worse than the forum post, if I'm gonna be honest here Chris. Hopefully things get better.
KuWanTum Aug 28, 2016 @ 8:42pm 
No chance of you setting up a PayPal "tip jar" so some of us can choose to help? Considering some of the shady and sketchy stuff I've seen pulled on Steam over the years, it's nice to see a developer speak openly about their passion.
Cinth Aug 28, 2016 @ 10:13pm 
Originally posted by KuWanTum:
No chance of you setting up a PayPal "tip jar" so some of us can choose to help? Considering some of the shady and sketchy stuff I've seen pulled on Steam over the years, it's nice to see a developer speak openly about their passion.

Not sure if this is ok to post, but I'm going to anyway.
qrter Aug 28, 2016 @ 11:35pm 
I am one of those people that preferred the first Valley to the second.. That said, I greatly appreciated all your team's work and efforts on the second game, and have great respect for you for giving it away to original customers.

But appreciation and respect don't pay the bills - I can see why you'd want to pull Raptor.
volt-kun Aug 29, 2016 @ 2:47am 
So when is this getting refunded, has the process started?
x-4000 (Chris McElligott Park)  [developer] Aug 29, 2016 @ 6:29am 
Thanks for the kind words folks, I really appreciate it.

Aklyon -- it's not as dire as all that (per se), but it would have been had I let things continue. I once worked for a man who was full of confidence despite us all seeing what looked like a certain disaster about 8 months off in the future. But he had confidence, so that bolstered the rest of us. 8 months rolled around and bam... we hit it like a brick wall. It's like he didn't even apply the brakes a tiny bit. That's the sort of thing I want to avoid. In my case the brick wall is more like two months off, but still.

Volt1up -- Valve is not in the office until 9am PST, so there's still another 2.5 hours before they are even around to answer any emails. The refund process has not started yet, nor has the game been taken down from sale here (though it has been taken down on the Humble side). I've sent an updated email to them with some added info based on things people have said (wanting to opt-in to be refunded, etc). We'll see what is possible, but I expect that it won't be too slow a thing. I will update as I can, but for now I have no new information.
saturnoyo Aug 29, 2016 @ 12:32pm 
Thanks again for your thoughts, now I understand the situation even better.

The business is indeed getting more complex. The market is huge now and it is very difficult to get attention. Also, as you said, you may get attention too early in development and people won't look at the game again even after the release.

I read about things that Steam was doing to improve visibility but it's just impossible to give visibility to every game that should have it.

Better luck with your next game. I hope you can get back at this one some time in the future.
x-4000 (Chris McElligott Park)  [developer] Aug 29, 2016 @ 1:00pm 
Thanks, I really appreciate it!
[LINUX]Wolfyrion Aug 29, 2016 @ 1:54pm 
I wanted to buy that game after the release due to bad reviews , bad Luck I guess ....
But at least you should issue a warning before removing it ..
Give us a chance to buy it before removal... :steamsad:

Hopefully we will see in the future a REMASTERED Version In Case of Emergency, Release Raptor

Good Luck and all the best in your future game development...
Last edited by [LINUX]Wolfyrion; Aug 29, 2016 @ 1:54pm
x-4000 (Chris McElligott Park)  [developer] Aug 29, 2016 @ 2:08pm 
It's going free so folks can play it at will -- no worries!
Chronon Jun 28, 2017 @ 3:13pm 
Have to say this was a right decision since it seems that the reception was way off from your goal. You really don't need to waste time and money to polish something which never gets clean in other people's eyes. Sounds like a serious development hell just for the sake of completionism...

Though what comes to Valley, I thought it was really odd to get the sequel to it for free. I remember seeing a game on my wishlist suddenly as a 2 game bundle so I went ahead and bought the double pack to play with a friend. (We didn't play them much since we started out by trying Valley 2 and not really understanding the strategy for the overworld decisions, heh.) Valley had that Arcane charm so I never thought I made a bad decision on buying them disbite my abysmal playtime.

Have you posted the sale statistics of Valley 1 before and after the addition of the sequel? Also did you not increase the price for new customers at all? (That'd sound like a charity work! o_o)
Last edited by Chronon; Jun 28, 2017 @ 3:15pm
Mexicutioner Aug 7, 2017 @ 5:38pm 
Giving valley 2 away for free to valley 1 purchasers although noble and honourable probably wasn't a good idea. I originally liked valley 1 over valley 2 far more but after giving number 2 another try years later I discovered it's as good as valley 1 in a different way. I probably would of given the game more of a chance originally had I paid money for it (which I gladly would have liking valley 1 so much), perhaps that's why it went by allot of heads. After completing valley 2 I am really interested in the games from Arcen.
Last edited by Mexicutioner; Aug 7, 2017 @ 5:43pm
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