Kickstarter, A Note About SAK’D 2, and Commentary on the Road Ahead
A friend messaged us today with a little ‘unsolicited advice’, but advice nonetheless, they said “I think when you jump too far ahead onto future projects I lose interest and don’t consider your project as focused on the goal. I see it as being too scattered.”
We Were Building Something Different
SAK’D: The Rise of Maniakal is the original game in development (see our previous post re. SAK’D 1 vs. SAK’D Rise of Maniakal, here.), and we plowed through efforts on that title for over 3 years almost entirely self-funded and under volunteer power, with big thanks going out to several smaller private investors for providing additional resources during that time. So, as a small team comprised of talented volunteers from all over the globe (including members from 11 different countries) we refined concepts, polished assets, and created some seriously compelling visuals, moving at a slower-but-still-reasonable pace on a course to complete that game sometime in 2027 (if we remained without funding), but we were happy working on it and doing our best to see it realized if at all possible, earlier than 10 years from now, of course.
However, SAK’D 2: The Rise of Maniakal is incredibly resource intensive. It is a much more detailed 3D game played as a 2D (2.5D) platformer and there is a ton of additional working parts, camera control, special effects, art, and programming required for every facet of development. It’s fine; we knew the game would be a challenge when we started the project, and realistically, the extra work wasn’t an issue. The game (and game design, generally-speaking) is fun to work on and we really enjoy what we do, so slowly chipping away at a dream is at least making progress and we continued to do so.
We have managed a significant amount of development on SAK’D: Rise of Maniakal so far, including a crafting a very thorough game design document (841-pages!), creating our first 2.5D level sections, gorgeous level maps, and gaining a general interest from fans and potential investors alike. Honestly, it’s an indie-game dev’s dream when someone other than you and your team sees the potential for greatness in what you’re working on enough to back your team.
Enter the Pandemic
COVID-19 changed the world, almost overnight. No different for our international team of volunteers. People on our team contracted Covid-19, some lost family members to the pandemic, others were forced into lockdown, restricted from travel, still other team members had problems with internet and power issues at home due in large part to no longer being able to attend internet cafés or their offices, and generally more of the same brand of chaos and misfortune that has seized the world in its terrible grip to this very day. Many of us lost our regular jobs, and since we funded SAK’D: Rise’s development using our personal savings and anything extra we could provide, much of the resources going into creating SAK’D: Rise almost completely disappeared overnight.
When the Going Gets Tough…
We refuse to give up. The pandemic dealt us a s**t hand but we’re rolling with what we have and making the best of a bad situation. So, we decided to put SAK’D: Rise of Maniakal development on hold, and several of our merry little band of creatives – the ones who could still manage time to contribute – grouped up and made a pact to combine our creative superpowers on creating an incredibly awesome game, something we could produce in just a year or two with a smaller game development model suitable to our smaller team. We would still introduce Sak the Pillow to a world in need of an extra-cute hero.
And so, development on a Saturday-morning flavored, cartoon-wrapped 2D platform game called SAK’D, – based on our character Sak, falling asleep and it’s consciousness being hurled into a fantasy world on the brink of destruction – began in March of last year. Now, over 14 months later we have solid design documentation, an incredible-looking, excellently working and very well-polished prototype, and we’re gaining more support and fans for the project every day, this last element obviously being most important, since if we have no fans, there will be no one to buy our game and help support ongoing development of this project or future projects.
What does all this have to do with the previous comment about ‘jumping ahead and appearing too scattered’?
We’re currently (and always) posting pics, clips and other materials from the first game development project so that we don’t lost sight of our original game development goal, and so that we take the opportunity while everyone is on their computers and phones alot more, to share some of the incredible effort and attention to detail that our team puts into any project we work on. It’s also to let the world know that our game design team is not only tenacious, we’re also adaptable and we have solid and realistic plans for the future of our studio, beyond just publishing our first title.
We also need to keep up with social media and keep people interested in what we’re doing. Recording gameplay clips and posting well-written social posts takes time, and between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flikr, IMGUR, Discord and Twitch it takes up a TON of time. Time we feel is much better spent on actually working on the game and producing the very thing we’re trying to get everyone hyped about. So, occasionally we opt to post clips and highlights from our other project because we already have alot of materials ready to show off or talk about, without having to peel ourselves away from making SAK’D to post daily fresh stuff from that project. Rest-assured, we’re working every single day we can, putting in time wherever possible, in order to move the needle of progress forward. We’re just not putting the breaks on development to cater to the thirst of social media for progress posts on the daily. We’re still making progress, we’d just rather be designing or developing than driving a hype-wagon with no substance.
So What’s Happening Now?
Glad you asked! We’re still working on SAK’D, and we’re still holding our heads above the water.
No, we’re not funded yet, but progress continues however fast or slow we can manage. For every member of our team, SAK’D needs to (unfortunately) come second to keeping a roof over our heads and food in our families mouths. We’re juggling extra contracts or full-time jobs amid a pandemic trying to scrape as much time out of every day to work on what we love. Our resources are also extremely thin at the moment (work is very difficult to find for several of our primary team members) and naturally the pandemic isn’t helping anything- all the way around-, but we are still managing to keep up with at least a decent amount of work on the game week to week, best we can. The results thus far are really turning out better than expected, and we’re more and more excited every day, eager to share this slice of platform game fun with the rest of the world.
We do our best to keep up with social media, with website updates and with general updates on our team’s progress, but one thing our team is sorely lacking is time.
The launch of our first Kickstarter campaign (back in March-April) would have (ideally) allowed our team to stay on a more steady course of development through to an early-release version of SAK’D in October this year, just in time for Halloween, and in keeping with SAK’Ds fairly obvious spooky marketing potential. Sadly, the Kickstarter only achieved about 46% of our target funding goal and being an ‘all or nothing’ campaign (the only option with Kickstarter) means that when the campaign finished below target, we didn’t receive any of the funds pledged to our campaign.
It’s ok though, we aren’t bitter. There were some incredibly positive takeaways gained from running the campaign, including gaining a ton of exposure and connections with other developers who had previously (and successfully) launched Kickstarter campaigns and/or actual games through publishers. We also learned that we’d do better on the crowdfunding with a stronger initial fan-base (including newsletter sign-ups and the SAK’D Steam Wishlist) than what we started with on the last Kickstarter. In addition, we’ve discovered that launching any indie-game project in Q4 (4th quarter) is almost certain to be less effective than a Spring or Summer launch.
This is why we opted for a 3 month delay before the second Kickstarter campaign launches (again, August 10th is the date to remember!). This target not only gives us time to work on the game for an even stronger trailer and demo presentation, but it also gives us a few months to tell more people about this amazing project and what we’re all about. We work our a**es off between now and the Kickstarter launch using whatever resources we can muster, and then we’ll use the funds from our Kickstarter campaign to fund development through to publishing in Q3 (3rd quarter) of 2022. It’s a bit of time to wait, but game development takes time and more importantly quality game development takes time. We’re on track with a solid strategy, we’ll just need a little help to get there.
So, without further ado…
Time for those updates we mentioned.
- For anyone that missed the previous messages, the official launch date for the next Kickstarter is Tuesday, August 10, 2021.
- Our primary and immediate goal is to acquire around $25k in funding to help our team carry through the next 5 months at reasonable pace → through and beyond the August 10 launch date. Right now alot of our team are working extra jobs and contracts to make ends meet so any help to get more time to work on SAK’D would be very entirely and sincerely appreciated. We have 5 months of development between now and then, having to accommodate the 30 days of the Kickstarter campaign and the follow-up 26 days wait before funds from our Kickstarter become available to our team.
- Planned launch for the full SAK’D game is Q3:2022. This is both realistic given our current team size and state of available resources. We reserve the right to revise that time forward or back depending on our ever-changing situation. We dislike delays in production like anyone else, but we’re doing the best working with what we have. If we (at any point) get funded in any capacity, will dedicate the full gamut of those resources to putting more time into SAK’D development.
- Resident code-wizards Roberto ‘Xbeto’ and Roland continue to plow the Unity development train through every bug and blizzard of issues that dares rear it’s ugly head, and they are steadily making progress through a host of feature implementations in the demo level, as well as the Graveyard, Fungi Cave and Desert levels. There is a plethora of elements to deal with on the subject of Unity, and touching on all of them would be a post in and of itself, but for now suffice to say we’re kicking a** and taking names. You’ll get a chance to see the results of all that hard work in the upcoming gameplay clips. Stay-tuned.
- There has been lots of really great art completed over the last couple weeks. Alejandro, Rich, Rosa and Kelly are pounding out new materials in some capacity every day. We’ll post some of that tasty sauce later today. As you can imagine, the game is really art-intensive, so lots of progress in this department is a significant thing. Again, for those wondering why we don’t post more of the asset art and environmental elements from this game on a daily basis, it’s because we are busy creating stuff instead of posting about stuff, and we like to reserve the eye candy for demo clips of the finished product. It all looks way better in-game.
- Alan ‘Lemuz’ Aparicio has been crafting gorgeous new animations for the desert-dwelling Kobra Warrior, a dual sword wielding menace from the desert level. We’ll have a clip of that slithering sand-borne menace coming right up on Facebook, Twitter, Discord and Instagram later today.
- If we can keep our current pace we’ll be able to release the playable demo for SAK’D on or before August 10, 2021. YES! That’s right, we’re aiming to publish the full working demo level (with it’s own boss fight!) in conjunction with the second Kickstarter launch. We feel confident this will help show the world what we’re all about with this title, in-addition to helping provide some beta-level feedback and input from our fans.
- We are still refining the SAK’D website (it’s an ever-changing and growing monster), and we’ll have an additional gallery set up later today for the SAK’D sequel concept and finished materials, as we’ve had quite a few requests to see more of the art from that title, too. Just note (again) that SAK’D: The Rise of Maniakal is on-hold until we’ve completed and published SAK’D. The website has all the details of both projects, but you’ll want to stay-tuned to this ‘About SAK’D / Kickstarter Mockup’ page for the ongoing developments pertaining to the current SAK’D title.
- We’re still indie, thus we have no publisher to assist with marketing and telling the world about SAK’D, so we can really use all the help we can get prior to demo release. If you have a moment, please share this website, our blog posts, or any and all of our social media that you’re able to with your friends and the rest of the world and if you haven’t already, please sign up for our SAK’D newsletter.
- We’re going to drop a few jaws, tickle some funny bones and win some hearts when everyone gets a gander at the polished demo, and we’ll show off some clips from that demo later next week. Music and sound makes a huge difference, but just wait until you see where we set the bar for gameplay and visual detail. We love it, and we’re pretty sure there are a few people out there who are going to love it, too.
That’s it for now, especially since this post took hours to write and we have a game to work on! We just wanted to clear a few things up, bring you all up to speed on what was happening in our little neck of the woods, and to let you know that your favourite lil’ indie-game team is still on the job!
We’ve said it before, but it can’t be said enough → To everyone who backed our first Kickstarter and everyone planning on backing our next campaign, thank you. Thanks also to everyone who reads this far down a Tolstoy novel-length blog post, and to everyone who keeps sharing, mentioning, talking about the project, tweeting, re-tweeting, liking, loving and generally continuing to support our little dream; to make amazing story-driven interactive entertainment experiences we can all enjoy.