Yes, it’s still 2023. Still, I promised that this year would see the massive expansion of Total Rendition. In all honesty, I am not so sure if we can deliver on the promises made for this year. It would be great if we could, although since I am responsible for making Total Rendition successful, I better be honest about what lies in front of us.
One of the promises included expanding the gameplay-hours of Total Rendition into 8 hours by the end of this year. While I am fairly confident completing development work on Total Rendition is possible, reaching the next development milestone by the end of 2023 may be a tall order.
I walked into a number of logistical issues this year, which did not exist before. I won’t go into detail, lest I’d bore you, but I have not been able to do any hands-on work since December last year. While I did anticipate these logistical issues, I overestimated my capacity to solve these issues quickly.
The Early Access Catch-22
One of the reason to go very early with early access was to convince investors. Yet, when people complain about the use of placeholder assets and the relatively short amount of gameplay the current build of Total Rendition has, they are essentially complaining about the studio not being funded by the very investors we need to convince. Thus, a conundrum.
I have heard one player saying “no one forces you to release in early access”. Maybe not in the sense that a gun is being held against our temples. Otherwise, this statement is not entirely true. Here is why: Video game publishers generally do not really believe in narrative-driven games anymore, unless they can exploit some established franchise (with Stray and Deathloop being exceedingly rare instances of exceptions); Crowdfunding generally only succeeds if one makes arguably ethically dubious backroom deals with venture capitalists to cover about 30% of the campaign in advance. Mind you, these guys are in it for making money, not for the sake of supporting creative work.
Most investors I have encountered never played a video game in their entire life. If you’re lucky, you might find one who has played Tetris. Indeed, they want numbers, such as sales, wishlists and open playtest requests. How do you get these numbers? For video games made by beginning studios, through Early access releases. Early Access wasn’t feasible in the 1990s because you would have to ship cds to players every time a new version came out. Now that it has become feasible, investors are expecting it. Those who disapprove of Early Access should take their protests to investors, not developers. (No offence intended if you are an investor yourself)
Don’t get me wrong, I care about the original vision I outlined for Total Rendition, and I have not compromised on the cornerstones of its high concept, nor will I ever.
I care about SchiZotypy Games because it allows me to make something I would have bought and played myself if I wasn’t involved in it myself, namely Total Rendition. Indeed, I care about Total Rendition in particular because its subject matter is rather close to my heart.
However, I realise that as of 2023, I still have very little authority in the game development world. In some ways, I am assaulting it from the outside using a battering ram, in a manner of speaking, with the goal of remaking it. This journey requires the support of those who see in my undertaking a fruitful venture and who are willing to provide me with said battering ram. Without it, the amount of progress we are able to make from this point on is going to be minimal at best.