Happy New Year folks!
First off apologies for not updating the blog over the festive period and for taking until now to do so - I had a whole week off for the first time in an age, and I hope you all had as much fun and feel as rested as me!
I was hoping in this post to go into a lot of detail about exactly where we are and give some idea about likely deadlines and so on, but we're still not in a position to do that to as great a degree as I'd like. A quick recap, especially for those who may be new here:
madmunki ran a Kickstarter campaign back in October, we were trying to raise £250k ($380k USD) to create neotopia - a new virtual world for PS4, inspired by all that is great about PlayStation Home on PS3 and to be developed with the community every step of the way. Given the understandably negative attitude towards virtual worlds following the announcement of PSH's closure, and the fact that we had no real advertising or external promotion to speak of, it was perhaps no mean feat to reach the 20% of our Kickstarter goal that we did. However as with all Kickstarter projects if you don't hit the target you don't get the money, everyone was reimbursed and we sat down to have a big think.
By this point we had built up quite a substantial and creative community right here and could see that there was a huge demand for a virtual world like neotopia, although other developers were starting to announce their own virtual world ambitions it seemed to us that neotopia was the closest match to what the Home community wanted. We felt that not hitting our Kickstarter goal was not a reflection of the lack of demand, but rather a result of the circumstances under which it took place combined with numerous missteps on our part. We have a ton of experience in both making games and virtual worlds, but almost none of fundraising. So we decided to press on; if you don't give up on us, we won't give up on you.
Having no exteranal funding to progress with (i.e. live on), the team essentially pared back to the core of madmunki and we had to take on contract work to enable us to survive, this is what has slowed everything down as we now only had all of our spare time to spend on creating neotopia. At the same time we took on the very generous voluntary help of a number of community members, meaning we now have Moderators, a Community Manager and Technical Admin for this site and thereby were able to continue listening to the community, doing neoflag events and keeping our shared neotopia dream alive.
So the current plan and where its at. Without a doubt one of our greatest problems with the Kickstarter was in not having enough to show, so we resolved to create as much as we could before seeking funding or partners, this is what we have been doing. We approached this from the angle of considering what would be the most effective thing that we could publish as the start of neotopia, something we could launch and build on. PSH itself started with not much more than a couple of public spaces and Harbour Studio, so surely this should be possible, also, doing so would mean that we could have the community really involved in its development from a very early point.
The goal thus became to create an environment with an animated avatar in UE4, once we have this we can make realistic estimates about how long it would take, and thus how much money would be required to get stage one of neotopia created and published. Having an environment and an avatar will also tell us exactly what stage one could be, and this is what we really want to lay before you all, to see that what we are proposing fullfills enough of your desires for a starting point. There will also be a number of choices in the exact details of what stage one is, and this we will want to get your input on as soon as we possibly can.
What we have now is an environment and a new female avatar, but the detail and extras that we strive for are not at the point that we would like them to be before showing images and movies. We do have an animated avatar in this environment capable of running around, but she is not finished yet - indeed I spent all of this weekend learning cutting edge new software to create her a very realistic pair of jeans. We will continue working on these elements and at the same time sketch out the plan for stage one, including how Jam Games can help bring all of this to fruition. We will present you with these details as soon as we can - in some ways that is the most pressing job I have, but more time needs to be spent on the avatar first, just to be sure of what we can do. Ideally we will publish the plan for stage one right here in the next few weeks, certainly by the end of the month. Once we do so we will want your feedback on many elements to make sure that we make the most of the collective creativity and knowldege on display right here.
Thank you all so much for your patience! We are constantly humbled by the community that have gathered here; there are trolls on the web everywhere you go, but rarely do you find such a concentration of imaginative, open and friendly people. We'll take up the weekly neoflag events again shortly, but I'll leave that to GreyNeo, our awesome CM to deal with, and if you are interested in all matters Spunland related please have a look here. In the meantime; peace and big love to you all!
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