Stoic On Using Kickstarter Again, TBS Factions’ Future

By Nathan Grayson on September 5th, 2013 at 5:00 pm.

Viking caravans might be slow, methodical machines, but they make their arrival worth the wait. By mercilessly slaughtering all who oppose them. I’m mostly certain that won’t be the outcome of The Banner Saga‘s impending arrival, but I don’t like to make assumptions. What I know for sure, however, is that Stoic isn’t just tossing chapter one out in the cold and leaving it in permafrost while time passes it by. The series will continue marching onward, and another go at Kickstarter definitely isn’t out of the question.

“We came out of Kickstarter with money, but more importantly we got this massive amount of people who were super into the game,” explained technical director John Watson. “They’re our advocates. They’re on our side. They’re part of the team. A lot of them came to our website and became members of the forum. So Kickstarter would be a good opportunity to build up that again. Take it further. It’s also a good way to get out exclusive cool artwork and stuff. It doesn’t necessarily need to be about funding the game.”

Kickstarter doesn’t necessarily need to be about funding the game.

But with a different end goal comes a different approach to Kickstarter, and Stoic plans to apply everything it learned during its first go-’round on the great game of financial roulette.

“I think if we do well on chapter one, there are a couple things we’d definitely want to do differently,” said art director Arnie Jorgensen. “One of that we’d hold off on doing our Kickstarter until we’re further into production. We realized people don’t want to wait a year for their game. We’d wait until we knew our ship date.”

“We’d hit a point where we’d say something like, ‘This game is almost done, but we don’t have enough money to do this orchestra [soundtrack] thing again,’” added Watson. “For orchestra, for marketing – for things we really need. We have no money for marketing. Our marketing is basically just talking to as many people as we can.”

“Kickstarter is the marketing,” offered creative director Alex Thomas.

But Banner Saga’s future isn’t only in its story-based single-player mode. Despite a recent lapse in major updates, PVP multiplayer spinoff The Banner Saga Factions will live on. Bear in mind, however, that Stoic’s creative side is only three people strong. For now, a rather, er, singular focus is their only option.

“We really haven’t been supporting Factions much recently,” admitted Thomas. “If Factions really was our focus and we wanted to make that a profitable thing, there’s lots of stuff on the table for us to do. But we haven’t had time to do any of it because of single-player.”

“We’re gonna finish chapter one of the single-player, and then we’re gonna turn around and spend some time on Factions again,” Jorgensen clarified. “You can’t just shoot a game out and then forget about it and not support it.”

In the short-ish term, that means new classes and characters from chapter one will migrate over to Factions as soon as they’ve finished their tour of duty in single-player. Both games use the same codebase, so bringing content from one into the other won’t require too much time or effort on Stoic’s part.

“Everything we do can go both ways. If we make new classes in chapter one, we can modify them a bit and then put them in Factions,” said Watson.

“That’s what we want Factions to be,” added Jorgensen. “We make that content, then we put it in Factions in between single-player chapters.”

Beyond that, Stoic is planning to build in additional features like city building, but its finer points may take a bit longer to hammer into place. The other big barrier on Factions’ end is that it doesn’t really, er, make money, but that’s not something Stoic plans on changing any time soon.

“We were so afraid of a bad backlash against Factions that [we didn't try to monetize it much],” explained Thomas.

“One of the things that’s difficult for Factions about selling things is it’s a competitive PVP game,” said Watson. “You can’t sell advantage. That’s rule number one. You can’t buy advantage in Factions. You can speed up progression and you can buy vanity items. We made the decision to make it not pay-to-win.”

“I joke that we probably could’ve made the same amount if we just put a tip jar in the game,” Jorgensen chuckled. “But Factions is at this point paying for its own servers and maybe a lunch every other week.”

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38 Comments »

  1. Blinky343 says:

    I am angry about this, I get upset over every little thing I see

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      Red and blue. Oh great squares, aren’t we using hexes now?! F2P or Kickstarter, choose 1 or GTFO!!!
      I’m not doing this right.

    • virginia_robinson01 says:

      I just got paid $7500 working off my computer this month. And if you think that’s cool, my divorced friend has twin toddlers and made over $8k her first month. It feels so good making so much money when other people have to work for so much less. This is what I do… w­w­w.c­n­n­1­3.c­ℴ­m

  2. TsunamiWombat says:

    Good lord please just RELEASE THE GAME.

    Factions? Not monetized much? Are we talking about the same game?

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      That’s interesting, I wonder what he actually said? What’s with the brackets?

      • Jalan says:

        I believe it’s Mr. Grayson’s interpretation of what Alex Thomas said. I guess it must have been vague enough in its original wording that it needed the bracketed editorial.

  3. FriendlyPsicopath says:

    Factions was so grindy and slow that i gave up, was fun for a few matches, maybe one day i will try again

  4. Hahaha says:

    Closed comments on the hotline miami article? wtf

    Oh yeah the game is also way to violent and needs to be toned down, walker get on it lmfao

  5. frightlever says:

    To be fair, they really seem to have crystallized their priorities.

  6. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    I was writing about Factions every week until I realised I was entirely bored of the game. There’s no question that there’s strategy involved but they killed it completely with a lack of variety plus the fact that you could be matched against people who just had a flat-out numerical advantage.

  7. jrodman says:

    Why did they build a whole additional game in a small development shop? Why are they continuing to split their resources? It’s very odd.

    • Meridian99 says:

      If i remember correctly, they did factions because they were going to spend all that time working on combat anyway, and they felt that the feedback from players would make combat better

      • jrodman says:

        Being familiar with the whole 80-20 thing, I’m doubtul that this makes as much sense as it sounds.

  8. tombmonkey says:

    Speaking of kickstarter and beautiful 2D games, please have a look at Shantae HD kickstarter from the 2D kings at Wayforward.

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1236620800/shantae-half-genie-hero

  9. Armitage says:

    Holy Hell, am I tired of hearing about this crappy franchise and their pan-handling-hobo style marketing operations. Release a decent game or STFU !!

    • AlexStoic says:

      Er… we are working really hard on the single player game. That’s the only thing we’ve been doing for months and months and months. We invited Nathan to check out the single player game. He interviewed us and asked about Kickstarter… I have no control over what he writes about. I think (hope!) he’s going to share something about the single-player, too… thanks for the comment.

      • Tei says:

        Looking forward for that :D

        For a lot of people, the singleplayer is the game.

      • Meridian99 says:

        Can’t wait for the game, so glad I kickstarted it! It’s looking better than I imagined. Pay attention to constructive criticism, not to people venting, not worth it. Can’t wait!

  10. TehK says:

    Good lord. When did the RPS community become so angry?

    • F.Diatchenko Jasenovich says:

      This has been going on for few weeks now. Weird right?

      • Dominic White says:

        Weeks? Try months. Possibly even the past year or so. RPS comments used to be so much better than the internet at large, but now it’s the same toxic cesspit that you see everywhere else. Worse still, it seems to be the same twenty or so people posting most of the anger in every single thread.

    • Nick says:

      RARRRGGHABGHLE!

  11. Tei says:

    I accidentally bought this game. I tried to play it, it has excellent hand draw graphics. Unfortunally, it seems a pure PvP game, and a cards game. There don’t seems to be a way to play PvE. After some time, I uninstalled it, not because I did not like the game, but because I don’t feel like playing PvP all the time in this type of game. I would play some skirmish mode, or maybe a campaing, but not PvP.

    • Shiri says:

      There will be a pure PvE campaign version released later, and there were plans earlier (not sure if still in place) for PvE skirmish type content in the PvP, so rejoice!

    • Serpok says:

      Was there some way to accidentally buy it other then kickstarter?

      The only thing I see available now is a no-fixed-price F2P PvP-game that allows one to buy XP points and skins.

      Kickstarter for “The Banner Saga” “sold” (if that applies to kickstarting) a PvE campaigh that is yet to arrive. The PvP game”The Banner Saga: Factions” is a separate release, featuring upcoming game’s combat system (for the purpose of crowd-balancing as I understand) but no AI.

    • PegasusOrgans says:

      How EXACTLY do you buy a free to play game?!?! Are you the type of person that buys magic beans at the market??? God damn. RPS used to be full of intelligent people, now it just has the bottom rung of humanity commenting on every article.

  12. Pneuma_antilogias says:

    I’m looking forward to this game; recently, Stoic started a “let’s play” based on the current demo and have released two videos demonstrating travel and combat. At the end of each video the community is invited to vote on what choice they want to see played out in the next video.

    The discussion has been very interesting, can’t wait for the third video.

    • particlese says:

      Yeah, I thought that was pretty cool, and I’m glad to hear it’s been interesting. I’m personally staying uninvolved based on their spoiler warning, but I have enjoyed their other (massive) updates.

      Looking forward to the finished product!

  13. Dominic White says:

    I’ve said it elsewhere, but game development has become more open, more transparent and more honest than ever, especially in the indie sphere. Developers can lay the entire process out on the table, say exactly how they’ll be raising money, explain when plans haven’t panned out. It’s brilliant, and everyone is more understanding for it, right?

    No. Not at all. Gamers somehow have become even more miserly, reactionary and generally abusive. Because developers have lowered themselves to actually involving their userbases, they get caught by the same screaming incoherence that’s usually reserved for hilarious misspelt Youtube comments.

    • swimming anime says:

      I didn’t back this, though I am looking forward to playing the game a lot.

      That said, to me a lot of the kind of reaction you’re getting here is justified. Hearing about them (and other companies) going BACK to kickstarter before we even get their first game is ridiculous. Like they got all of these preorders and donations through kickstarter, and then they’ll get money from the sale of the game at retail, and what? That’s going to put them right back at 0$ again, so they need more prebuying and donations in order to make another game? I just feel like business practices are thrown out the window when kickstarter is involved in these companies. If they’re making a profit off of the first game, is it impossible for them to go and get a business loan showing that they can and will make money in the future?

      • Bremze says:

        So you expect the developers, who have left well paying jobs to work for a fraction of their previous pay and have invested their savings towards an extremely risky project to put every cent earned into the next project and to take out mortgages on top of that?

        You know the asshole managers, who expect modelers, game programmers and vfx artists to work for a pittance with lots of unpaid overtime because “they like what they do”? You’re that asshole.

        • swimming anime says:

          If they can’t pay their employees and themselves by creating a product that people buy, then they’ve failed as a business, haven’t they? If they take less pay in order to make this quality product on the hopes that they’ll become well known and make more money in the future, then that’s an investment they’re chosing to make, and I can totally respect that. But if they can’t create a sustainable business with over seven times as much money as they expected to have? If they’re just scraping by on 750k, what would have happened with 100k? Would we have ever gotten a game at all?

      • Frank says:

        What’s it to you (or the angry folks you’re explaining) if the devs go back to Kickstarter? I’ll gladly back each of the next chapters and that would be a transaction non-fans needn’t be a part of. Don’t worry yourself about the health of their business, eh.

        “Justified” my ***; that’s just silly entitlement nonsense.

  14. Moraven says:

    I will take a second look for future KS before I fund their marketing campaigns.

    Hitting up trade shows is a huge time investment (and money). Seems like the delaying the game so you can market it vs completing it for your backers is a bit disingenuous to your backers.

    Stay home, make some nice Let’s Play updates at home, gives weekly updates and finish the game.

    Make a good game and your backers will be the marketing for you.

    • Frank says:

      “Get in the kitchen and make me a sammich/game, you lazy dev.” There’s nothing about Kickstarter that says the backers own the folks running the project.

      Anyway, I’m guessing providing weekly updates would be quite costly. Their KS updates are very detailed, and must be taking a lot of work to make. I’d rather have those than a weekly “hullo. here’s the animation I just finished. see you next week.”

  15. RProxyOnly says:

    Chapter 1?.. I didn’t know the kickstarter was only for one chapter.

  16. CVraden says:

    I would back a kickstarter just to add voice acting.