Hey everybody! We’ve had so much going on that it’s been hard to find the time to catch our breaths. With Factions coming out in the next week this seemed like a good time to catch up with our backers and have a nice chat.
Basically, we know there are lots of questions about the project right now. We’ve answered every question we can find, in as many places as possible, but we think it’d be helpful for everyone if we rounded them together for an update.
The release date on the project said November, now it’s February and you’re just releasing some multiplayer thing I didn’t even want. What gives?
This is the biggest issue we want to address.
When we set a launch date of November, we didn’t know if we’d match our funding or not. If I’m completely honest it was probably too optimistic, even if we had only gotten the minimum funding. We should have known better, and I apologize for that mistake.
Just as importantly, we made 7x the funding we expected. We made the game exponentially bigger. Imagine a TV show that gets picked up for 7 more seasons, or a book that gets made into a 7-part series or a 20-minute indie film being given the funding to turn it into a 2 hour feature film. All of these things take a long time. And hopefully, every one of these examples means a much better end result.
Where did this Factions thing come from anyway? I don’t remember hearing about it.
We mentioned a free multiplayer standalone at the end of our Kickstarter pitch video. At the time it was more of a side note, and not what we wanted to focus on. Near the end of the campaign we added a stretch goal to add player-owned cities to Factions. Again, a lot of people didn’t realize we were talking about the multiplayer game.
As for personally? We love single player RPGs and we love multiplayer matches. We loved the idea of working on both of these things in the same world and sharing the content and tech.
Why make Factions at all, instead of just making the single player game?
Factions started out as a way to give backers a playable part of the game early. It also turned into a huge endeavor.
We got beta players, and we got lots of feedback, and we ended up making the best combat system we could. As we developed the combat we made huge improvements to the game. We reworked the interface three times until it was really intuitive, and we overhauled the classes dozens of times. We really fine-tuned and polished the hell out of the art and the combat mechanics. The depth and scope of the multiplayer game is far beyond what we had originally set out to do.
Did we spend too long on this system? Maybe. It’s still hard for me to know for sure. Making a single player game is vastly more simple than making a multiplayer game, and these challenges cost us more time than we would have liked.
At the same time, if we had not gone through this process, the game, both single and multi-player, would be significantly lower quality than it is now, without a doubt.
We say it in every single update, but it’s 100% true — the combat in factions was made for the single player game, and we’ve used that to make a fully functional game that you can play now! We had really hoped people would see this is a huge bonus.
Ultimately, which choice would you have made? We know there are people on both sides of the issue, and we’ve seen both good and bad results from the path that we’ve decided to go down.
Factions just looks like a cash grab to me.
It really bums me out to see this sentiment, we have tried really hard to avoid it. First off, let me mention that this is not our goal. We didn’t set out to make a f2p game with the funding from the single player game which we crap out as an afterthought.
We’re using any revenue we get for salaries. None of the core team have been taking income since we started the company last January. Unlike many Kickstarter funded projects which pay mostly for salary, the $650k that we received after Kickstarter and Amazon’s cut have gone squarely into production: programming support, animation, audio, music, sound, QA, writing, office space, legal fees and software. This isn’t said for sympathy — we knew what we were getting into and we also have a buffer in case things get dire. This is simply the reality of why we’re raising money.
Factions looks like a grindy, pay to win game.
We’ve heard some major, and valid, concerns so far: the shop is overpriced, earning renown is too slow, and buying Renown or characters means the game is pay to win.
We’ll be making a lot of adjustments to costs this week. We’ve removed all renown costs to adjust your stats on a character, because this is a core part of what makes it fun to experiment with characters and teams. Now it’s free! We significantly lowered the price of color variations. We’re also adding a lot of achievements that grant bonus renown to make earning renown happen a lot quicker.
As for “paying to win,” this honestly shouldn’t be the case. Your team has a rating (a total of each character’s rank) and you’ll always be matched up against teams with a similar rating. No matter how your opponent made his team, you’ll be fighting on equal footing. In addition to matching by total rank, we also use each player’s ELO (ranking) to find equivalent matches, so that veterans tend to match each other before new players.
There has also been an exploit that allowed players to artificially lower their team power so that they could intentionally fight against new players. First of all, this is unbelievably lame of some players, but we’re also putting in changes to how team power calculates to make sure it doesn’t happen at launch. In addition, we’re also adding safeguards so that new players only match against other new players based on how long they’ve been playing. Whether this works will rely somewhat on how big our population is at launch.
Will there be microtransactions in the single player game?
Will I miss out on anything in the single player game if I don’t play Factions?
No (except having fun).
Now, that said, we’ve put a lot of thought and effort into Factions. It’s not just a mindless one-off from The Banner Saga. Factions takes place in the same world, in a city that is part of the single player game and when events happen in single player they’ll affect the world in Factions. As we create new system for the Saga we’ll be testing them through Factions, so things like playing against the computer will appear in Factions as we work out the code, and the story will all tie together.
I don’t care how you explain Factions, I hate everything about it, I wish you didn’t make it and I feel like you tricked me into paying for something I don’t want.
I suspect some people feel like this. To those people, I would say I do understand. We became very ambitious and wanted to do the best work we could. The result is that it took a lot of time. We do not expect Factions to buy us yachts and mansions, just to pay for some living expenses. As our first time running a studio of our own, we’ve learned an enormous amount in both production and management. We hope you’ll accept our apology, and we strongly believe that we’ve taken the correct steps to make the best possible game. It will be worth the wait.
How do I upload my crest?
This has changed from the original upload idea, because that would have been very messy. You will now be able to upload your image in the game itself, when it releases. This way, nobody will miss any deadlines and you’ll be able to see it right in the game. Don’t worry, this is still EXCLUSIVE to backers!
Will Factions be ported to Linux/iOS/console?
No, we don’t intend to put Factions on anything but PC and Mac. Now that it’s out, we’re moving on to the rest of the single player campaign and cannot afford to spend weeks or months porting the multiplayer standalone. Our stretch goals applied only to the single player game.
When is the single player game coming out?
Our best guess right now is between mid and late this year. We’re a little shy of giving specific dates this time around, but we are full steam ahead on this. What we do promise is that we’ll continue to do regular updates on our progress, so that you can see how everything is coming together.
I still don’t completely understand combat and I’m getting crushed every time I play. What do I do?
We’ve included four different tutorials in the game. The first one covers the basics and you play through it when you boot up the game. On the main screen in Strand, you can click the banner button in the upper right. This shows you a cheat sheet of the most important things in combat and also includes two training videos. These will cover every single aspect of Factions. Lastly, every page has a ? button in the lower right. Clicking this will tell you what you need to know for that screen.
How do you feel about the game?
Personally, I think it’s coming along incredibly, and I’m not just saying that. My biggest regret is how long it is taking, but it’s coming out better than I had ever hoped. Some players have been rather upset about the delays, while others have told us to take as long as we need. The truth is, we only have as long as we have funds to pay ourselves. We can’t work on this forever.
I couldn’t be happier with our progress so far; for what we’ve done with a small team I don’t think I could imagine anything better. Despite the insane hours we’ve been putting in, I’ve never been prouder of anything I’ve made before, and we hope at the end of the day you guys agree it was worth it.