Stoic On Using Kickstarter Again, TBS Factions' Future
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.”
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.”