In the last days Novus Inceptio was presented in many magazines, gaming sites and not just Czech players and community got to know that game like this do exist and is being developed. That is in the first place because of the success in the Greenlight campaign on Steam. And we have decided to make an interview with Martin, Novus Inceptio main and only developer. Did it pass off smoothly? What was surprising or delightful? Is there something that he would have done differently with his current knowledge? We think that many answers could be a little bit shocking :-). Also many developers right at the start of their career can find here the right impulse and motivation to try something similar. Below is the translation of our interview.
1. Can you tell us why you have decided to try Greenlight on Steam? Why didn't you go for example on KickStarter or other crowd-funding server?
KickStarter or other crowd-funding server was planned but in the end and after several discussions and thorough consideration it became clear that the best way for my project is to go on Steam and offer Early Access. In the current situation when the game is being developed only by me personally, KickStarter would burn me out with its time demands (months of preparation for the campaign instead of the development) and I would become mentally tired. In the end the project would go on Steam anyway however it would be after a long time. This way it is possible to get the game to fans in its development stage and gather valuable feedback. Fans will get the possibility to support the project by purchasing and cooperating at the same time on tuning up the gameplay. That is all about the early access, to test the alpha version with players and get the financial support for the next development.
2. How long have you been preparing for the Steam campaign?
In truth? About 4 hours. Promo texts were already done since GameDay 2015 and English version was also prepared. So I said to myself on Sunday that I will pay the fee and send the project to Steam. I ran the actual game's build, made a promo video for Steam, fine-tuned descriptions etc. and on Sunday at 5 PM I simply launched the campaign.
3. What did you have to do during the preparations? Was it difficult to fulfil Steam's conditions? How much did it all cost and how long did it take in general?
Basic things were already done because of the preparations for GameDay in the city of Třeboň (May 8th till May 9th). Therefore it is hard to tell how much time I had to work on everything in real. If I take into account the GameDay festival then it could be around a month. And financially the entry-fee is €90. All the formalities were done in a couple of minutes.
Whole entrance on Steam was very impulsive. Before the campaign there should have been the game's official website with revelation of the lore and story behind the game with explanations of the unclear parts of the project and with new trailer defining the game. And the official company should have been established too. Everything had to be postponed and wait until the campaign's end. Why? With respect to time and unsure Greenlit end (I estimated that the acceptance process will take a month or two) I decided firstly to release the game on Steam Greenlight and during the campaign finalize all the missing pieces. However you must understand that these following steps which should have been finished before the campaign also need some money.
4. What were your expectations? How did you imagine the whole process? Were you afraid of going to Steam because you could find out that there is only a little interest in your game?
My idea was that everything will take one or two months and that there will be enough time to finish all the campaign's details. I wanted to slowly spread the word and get needed votes for the game. Concerns were legit but on the other hand it is necessary to risk and above all there is no other way for me how to get on Steam.
5. What happened the first day when the campaign has started? After all it was visible that during the first hours the community around your game started to visit the game's Steam page and voted. Everything looked very well. So what happened the first day on Monday?
First hours were as expected. I was hoping that thanks to the strong Czech and Slovak community the beginning will be great and later the buzz will calm down. But it didn't happen. Over the night the project was getting higher and higher on the ladder and I had to change my strategy :-).
I prepared press news immediately on the Monday morning and sent it to Czech and foreign media regardless the state of the Steam presentation. In the same time I had to prepare press kit for journalists and other details (I talked over some issues with other developers who has already passed the Greenlight). During the day an avalanche of reactions was created on the web and the most known media reacted by publishing news and articles (I'd like to say thanks to all of them). I had to quickly study strategies of already approved projects and find out how others were communicating during the campaign and at the same time continue in my honest and active approach towards the community.
6. Did the beginning of the campaign meet your expectations?
No :-). I wasn't expecting such interest in the project. So the expectations were not met but exceeded and I was forced to change the next steps in the following days.
7. Presumably your are now quite a famous and contacted person. How did you take it?
It's not so hot. I'm not a celebrity and I'm not feeling like one. But I agree, the project entered the consciousness and therefore my name is known more in the gaming community. However I try to stick to the ground, my priority is still the project and honestly it was just a Steam Greenlight campaign. The real test will come when the game gets into the Early Access.
8. Were you contacted by a lot of companies? Even internationals? By distributors or just small studios wishing to help?
There were a lot of offers with help. Some of them tried to get a job for some already occupied positions and others for the ones which must be yet created.
There were even some offers and communication with corporations from Asia (Korea, Japan, China etc.) and there are some negotiations about future cooperation for their markets. My project has already a surprisingly high popularity in this area for some time. They know a lot of information about the game and they had to really study all the possible details not only because of the Steam campaign in advance.
But the priority is and always will be EU/US version so expansion for the eastern markets is a distant and uncertain future.
9. What about persons who just want to make money on your fame. Have they appeared?
These people are around all the time and it's not important if there is a campaign or not. So there is nothing to say about it.
10. What about other days? Did everything graduate even more with the hype around and were you always on the trot?
It was manageable. Everything was advancing automatically and I was mostly dealing with disinformation about the game features or information out of context. So not many interventions from my side were needed.
11. If you were not able to do something alone, did you accept help from someone else? Was it someone well known or new people showed up and gave a hand to you and your project?
There are some people around me who are helping me from time to time with the project and helped me with PR and communication.
12. Do you have plenty of offers for cooperation or applications from programmers, developers?
Not many and actually I'm not looking for anybody right now (it will come later). I'm receiving these offers continuously for a longer period of time and I save the best possible candidates for the future possibilities. But there were rather offers for translations into different languages.
13. Were you surprised that just after five days there was the end and you ended up #10? What did you think at that time?
Approval in five days was really surprising. And what is exceptional, it all happened during the time (day and time) when Steam is not usually approving new games and also just two projects got Greenlit (normally there are 6-9 games at the same time and it takes more than a week).
Most importantly the stress has subsided because the approval was made at midnight from Friday to Saturday therefore I got the opportunity to say thanks to all the supporters and fans. Because I was not at home on Saturday and it wouldn't be possible to do so. That pleased me the most. That I was able to express my thanks immediately and not 24 hours later.
14. What do you think about the whole action on Steam? Was it such a huge success like it seems?
For me personally it was a great success. I wasn't expecting it in this way and with such result. Of course there are projects which were approved during one or two days or got into TOP 10 in a shorter period of time but it's just a minority of all games and they have much bigger community or a well known developer. On the other hand there are projects which were waiting for approval months or even half a year. I have studied and compared a lot of them. For NI it was really a big success despite the fact that it is perceived as a survival game (which is a mistake of the actual presentation and covering up the lore) which majority of players hate and I understand it. In every case I am happy that the project was able to get the attention of a lot of new fans, won the fight on Steam despite only a small part of game elements were shown and with "Another Unity survival stupidity" label on the game's face.
15. What about your obligation to release a game which will be really playable and not just a façade like it happened many times in the past when the developers released a game in the Early Access and then just vanished?
It's truly a big obligation but it's like that since the beginning. I've never thought that I would give it a deep six. I would and will continue on the project regardless of Steam's result or if negative reactions will appear after the Early Access (and I believe for 100% that it will happen). I'm still fulfilling my dream and make the game principally for me and community around my person.
16. Would you do anything differently before, during or after the campaign with the knowledge you possess now?
I would have kept the original plan. To spread official information about the game's lore and few other details between the people. But these are just speculations. I wasn't anticipating such a fast progress :-).
17. What did the campaign give you and on the opposite took away?
I've received a positive feedback and was "recharged" for the next hard work waiting for me. I appreciate mostly the fact that many people take the game as I do and not just as an another survival game which would remain only in the Steam's library and never played. But it is still a long way to go to finish and fulfil all the promises.
And what did I loose? Because of the campaign I lost my privacy and calmer time for the development. But I hope that it will get slowly back to normal and I'll be able to focus again just on the game.
18. What does the whole Steam accomplishment means for you personally and for the project? Because of the success, will you be able to devote yourself only to the development and become maybe a little bit more independent or even supported by new sponsors?
I wouldn't exaggerate it so much :-). It is a success (at least for me personally) but it's not so huge. I try to be realist :-). However it will speed up the process of establishing a company with better conditions with my investor and with another proof that the project is interesting for the community. Greater independence could come later on, we will see. There are not many sponsors currently, they have no reasons to come and I'm not looking for them. I have my only investor ASUS ROG for the time being and we can easily focus together on little things. And now it's even possible to open the bigger ones because there are now more reasons to sponsor me.
19. What would you say to everyone who is considering Greenlight but is afraid to jump into it or simply don't know if it is the right way to go?
There is no better way for an unknown or beginning developer how to get on Steam. So go for it and don't be afraid. However you must go to the Greenlight with an already playable project, with gameplay videos etc. There is also a different section for game concepts with no fees. Don't think hard about votes or getting into the TOP 100. If the project is interesting, it will find its way. The most important thing is to communicate with fans and stay on the ground. It could sounds strange but it is necessary not to make the game primarily for money because it is visible on the project. Of course it's always nice to make some profit and we all hope that the game will bring it. But it shouldn't be the first thing to think of during the development.
20. Would you like to tell our readers something else?
I hope that you will still regard the project with favour. And if you support it by purchase when it will be available in the Early Access then be aware that the primary goal for the Early Access is to help the development. The game will be changing right in front of your eyes. Thus do not expect a full version at this stage. Fully finished game will arise from the collective work of me and the community in the months to come.
And after all I want to say thanks to everyone who has supported the project and not just during the Steam campaign. Thank you!