So many years ago, in a state which can only be described as a wanton act of madness, I decided to start developing games. That act alone dashed all hopes of my ever becoming a productive computer geek, family man and guy with a number in a personnel file somewhere.
One failed release (BC3K 1996) and one successful one (BC3K v2.0x 1998) later, I still wasn’t cured.
Rather than continue taking my medication, which would have helped me leave this God forsaken industry and thrust me back doing a job in which they actually paid you (what a concept!) for the cool things you do, and if you’re lucky, on time – I decided to flush said meds down the toilet, throw caution to the wind and decided to head out for a third outing.
Even I didn’t see that coming. Lets not even talk about my team and family.
You’d think that, as an indie, after two massive, complex and intimidating games (thats just putting it mildly), that I’d
actually set my sights a little lower by releasing another type of game and actually make more money, rather than
catering to the rather forsaken niche group of gamers.
“….Oh no, not I!!”, said I. Instead, in January 2000, right after releasing the final update to BC3K v2.0x, work began
full time (we had started working on the new content, back in mid 1999) on a title that was to become Battlecruiser
Millennium. Yes, more ambitious, more advanced and more massive than either of its predecessors. If you’ve followed the development, played the demos or written a preview or review, then you have an idea of what I’m talking about.
By now, and going by industry standards, everyone knows that BCM represents the kind of game you pay about 15-20 game developers an absurd amount of money (say, $3-5m) over a four to five year period, to do. And HOPE they pull it off. It took a handful of developers, twenty one months to pull of the daunting task of doing this game.
Lets NOT even talk about the financial toll of being an indie and funding your own development AND production. That may not seem like such a big deal – but when you consider the current state of the PC gaming industry and take into account that 3000AD Inc is 100% indie and self-funded, by me, you’ll begin to appreciate the enormity of such an undertaking.
There are those who ridicule hardworking developers – and who think that the business of game development is like watching paint dry. In short, that it just works and with minimum effort. This stuff is HARD folks!!
Which in fact explains the current state of the industry. Nobody wants to take risks anymore – and everyone is doing a
derivative of someone else’s game – and not necessarily a hit mind you. An indie wanting to cater to a fan group, either
needs some seriously deep pockets and guts (insanity comes with the territory) to match or a catatonic investor with a blank check.
Today is September 25th, 2001 and I am proud to announce that Battlecruiser Millennium, after a Beta cycle that lasted almost ten months, is finally GOLD. Not only am I proud to make this announcement; I am also proud that with all the ups and downs, coupled with all the disappointments and broken promises I’ve had to endure, that in the end, it all came down to a dedicated development team and a faithful group of fans who made it all worthwhile.
Some have questioned, and even made fun of the fact that, rather than sign a traditional publishing deal (after having turned down several offers, including one from my previous publisher), that I would partner with a well known and highly respected gaming retailer, Electronics Boutique. My response remains the same, you probably need a publisher if you can’t fund your own games, want to be treated like cattle and paid dimes on the dollar for your work or have this sickening knack to continue making someone else richer than you are (especially since you’re the one doing ALL the work) – every time.
With a distributor, at least you actually know, first hand, how many units you are producing, how many they are selling, how much money (yes, not Monopoly money, REAL money) you’re actually making. And most importantly, there’s no middle man to speak of. And the only deadlines you have, are those you impose. No meetings. No injected ludicrously stupid focus groups (yes, they’re ALL mostly brain-dead buffoons who know NOTHING about what gamers want, nor HOW a game is developed and WHAT it means to the developers) feedback, telling you want you should do or not do in YOUR game.
EB have been remarkably supportive, understanding, encouraging and most of all, have done an excellent job of marketing this product these past few months. I couldn’t have asked for a better business partner, in this my first foray into game publishing. Then again, they’re not publishers. BIG difference.
No, BCM is not going to sell two million units, nor is it going to appear on someone’s grossly inaccurate sales chart any
time soon (seeing that it is only available at exclusive outlets). But what I can tell you is that, it is definitely going to
sell a lot more units than probably 95% of the multi-million duds released since the time it went into development and
No matter the title, the developers, the company or the marketing dollars – NEVER EVER – underestimate the importance of nurturing and babysitting a fan base. And if its one thing I have learned all these years, it is this If you continue to develop games that a group of gamers want to play – be it a small, medium or large group, you’ve guaranteed yourself a fan base for as long as you keep doing it
At the end of the day, its about the fans. It you build it, and it works, they WILL come. I have made a lot of sacrifices in
my quest to do the games that I want to do and at the end of the day, only the fan base made it worth the while.
There a lot of things that I would have liked for us to do in BCM – but as every good designer knows, time flies and before you know it, you’re nursing a sequel or update wishlist. As with previous BC titles, I have a pretty good wishlist of features and tweaks which will be appearing in future updates to BCM. In the coming weeks, we will be focusing on the multiplayer component which I opted (about a year ago) not to include in this first release due to the tremendous amount of resources that such a module in such a massive and complex game, requires. With the single-player component out of the way, all efforts can be focused on this component as well as other planned add-ons and properties currently in development.
And speaking of properties, the previously announced Earth Force Command title, will be released as a commercial add-on for BCM. This means that in addition to its unique playing environment, ownership of EFC also gives BCM access to all the new units already created for that title.
So, there you have it. I hope that the fans, and new adopters worldwide, will have as much fun playing this game, as we have had developing it.
No game is perfect and no game can ever be released bug free nor cater to everyone. But, my track record speaks for itself. Find a problem? We’ll be here to fix it. Buy our games and we’ll be here to develop more games that you like to play.
Now thats out of the way, lets move on to other news which some of you in the media, may or may not already be privy to.