Big Picture Good and Bad

Good

Contacts in the space community continue to be interested in Moonwards

Bad

When I contacted people in my inner circle, a large fraction had trouble playing the game. I have hesitated to contact more because of that. 

Resolution

Delay until either performance is better, or they can be mostly convinced with alternate material, which I’m trying to prepare now. I am selecting a few people to contact before then as I find something I can ask them about or for, to make contact without it being necessary they play the game.

Godot’s open source license, emphasis on approachability, and the similarity of GDscript to Python, makes it the right game engine for this project

Godot isn’t a mature engine. Best guess I’ve heard is that 4.0 is at least 6 months away.  Full release probably more like a year.

Wait for Godot.  This is going to mean operating at a low level until it’s released. Other issues also favor low level operations until conditions change.

  • Long term, family businesses can fund us at a significant level
  • I am free to work on it myself full time indefinitely.
  • Without outside investment we won’t flourish
  • Family funding is low now, could be 6 months or more before a sprint for 2 or 3 months can be funded
  • I have struggled a lot more in the last month or two to have the energy and mood to do work.

Finding investment requires me to do a lot more and I find myself much less prepared than I thought. I’m reorienting myself but it’s a tough one.

On my health, all I can do is work with diet and exercise.  I’m going to need to devote more time to that, prioritizing it above work.

Game publisher involvement

Things much harder than I thought:

  • Finding a publisher willing to be involved with the project. Issues:
    • Open source
    • Inexperienced founder – I haven’t known how to properly create a GDD or pitch deck
    • Simply assembling a list of places to approach. I got a list of hundreds of companies. Because we are an oddball, contacting all of them doesn’t seem like a good idea, especially after being told our open source status is a big disadvantage.

Approaching the issues:

  • Getting support elsewhere and maybe turning that into getting a deal with a publisher
    • Kickstarter or Patreon supporters
    • Support from the space community
    • Presence in the media
  • This is what led to the desire to go back and redo the GDD. Then that wasn’t enough so I want to do that again
  • I’ve delayed doing the Pitch Deck out of concern the game doesn’t look that good.

I don’t feel comfortable approaching publishers until I feel like our GDD and pitch deck are in order. 

I feel like we are at a disadvantage going in and so I’m anxious to have a strong presentation that addresses weak points now identified. I’m struggling to figure out how that should be, and how to make things look good.

This has lead to a desire to redo the lights, bake indirect lighting, and add new materials. That would be really time consuming.

Space community involvement

I haven’t reached out to many contacts. I’ve started now sending out emails that take a different tack than I’d imagined before.

The CLIMB! contest was partly created to give me an easier in with my contacts, something more specific I can ask them for and a way that involves them actively.

People participating in CLIMB is planned to be a source of promo material, but we don’t have any such people and it may not work. I want to search for people for the contest, but I’m still looking for a good approach to that. It was a mistake to start it so close to the end of the school year, I was overconfident because I had the commitment of Professor Haym Benaroya to help. The design of the contest may need changing.

The one VC contact I have has not responded to me. No foundation with actual funds has responded either, so far. This is going to require a far more polished approach than what I’ve done so far.

One professor, George Sowers of the Colorado School of Mines, has agreed to advise me on mineral resources around Lalande Crater. In fact, the way he responded was that his department could help. He is tied up with end of school year stuff for another week or so, and then I’ll contact him.

I’m contacting the National Space Society looking for a way to promote through them. I can write for their magazine, Ad Astra, and use that to get published in other magazines like the Space Review and Medium. 

The areas I can see getting good assistance with through NSS is contacts who can put in a good word where it counts, suggest avenues of promotion and possibly help me put together a good promotion campaign.

A ‘hail Mary’ of finding a donor with deep pockets is also possible through them.

The ToughSF community is almost ideal for our needs regarding consulting on design for the town, but I need to interest them more in involvement. Right now we compete for their attention with many other projects, and I would need to concentrate on building a relationship there in order to do much better. Some people there are well disposed towards Moonwards (first heard of it years ago), but turning that into greater participation will take a lot of work.

Kickstarter and Patreon

Kamil Skuza is a young promoter in Poland who was recommended to me as someone who can help with a Kickstarter and/or Patreon campaign. I have spoken to him and he seems like a good option. Also he isn’t too expensive, and money is tight right now. 

I told him I thought I could hire him in July for a target of launching a Kickstarter in September. It remains to be seen if I can complete the work I’d like done before that date on time. 

 

The Kickstarter would be for the purpose of raising only a modest amount, and directing an initial set of people to an ongoing Patreon campaign. It might also be useful for demonstrating an audience to possible major funders.

I initially favored doing purely a Patreon campaign but Kamil recommended doing an initial push in order to get publicity that would help the Patreon. That seemed reasonable so I’ve gone with that.

Searching for Grants

I have not spent a lot of time on this. I have not been able to identify grants we can apply for and all emails and messages to foundations have gone unanswered. I need a better approach to this and I don’t know how to proceed.

Material needed for all the above

Game Design Document needs to be largely rewritten. It needs to give the reader a much clearer sense of what the appeal of the game would be for a player. 

  • images are needed, for which I’d rather have lighting and material work already done before I focus on that
  • images will also require that player movement, content, tools, and gameplay modes that don’t exist be faked. This could be a lot of work.
  • so images won’t be done until August, but the writing will be done much sooner.

Pitch Deck – will be structured in accordance with this article from Lunar Owl Consulting

I’ll start on this after the new rewrite of the GDD is done.

Video material will be gathered as opportunities for engaging content come up. 

  • time lapse recording of Blender model work and Material Maker materials work
  • if we have CLIMB! participants, that was one of its purposes
  • when faking images for the GDD I’ll also make fake gameplay videos if I can