Thursday, June 16, 2016

Serious talk (related to, but not just about, my games)

I am having some financial problems. It's nothing big (I don't expect to go without a home or internet anytime soon), but my already endangered career plans might be at their end (for those who don't know, I am a terrible med student, set on ruining the lives of many patients once/if I become a doctor). Just so we are clear, this isn't meant to elicit sympathy from you (and it shouldn't, I didn't tell you I have a terrible disease, I am just telling you that my life plans might not be going as planned, which happens to a lot of people everyday), but I think I should be as transparent with you as I can be, so I have to at least mention this much.

I was already considering the possibility of getting a Patreon in the future (I mean, by accepting donations, I kind of already do the same thing anyway, and I would still release the game for free as always, so it would change very little for most people, just make it easier to donate if you want to), but now the situation is putting me under pressure to find some way to earn money, so I figured I would ask people what they think about it, and what would be a reasonable organization for it. Another thing I would like to clarify, is that this doesn't involve TOTDC. First of all, because the game is almost done (it would be incredibly weird to try and get long-term donations for a project that is about to be over), and secondly because I believe nobody is under the impression that the game is 100% legal (I mean, I take assets from the internet, I am sure that's not exactly a gray area), and while nobody would be funding the game directly, I am not sure it would be kosher (maybe someone who knows more can enlighten me, though).

So, what I am asking is, what people think would be a good way to set this up:

Once I have a game I am working on, what should be the features patrons can access to? Early access to closed builds, possibility to suggest content? Monthly releases? I assume people would like to see what they are supporting, so monthly seems reasonable, even if from a development point of view it would waste more time. Suggestions are probably the thing I am the most torn about, I have seen with TOTDC what feature creep can do. Of course, it doesn't matter much, once you start asking for money, you should be ready to do your best to please the audience, and I honestly don't think I have enough appeal to just get enough money each month by being myself and doing my own thing 100%, which also leads me to the other, maybe more important, question:

How many people would be willing to support me making more games? I am not asking unconditional support (of course) but given what I have already done and your finances, how many of you think they could do this, if they liked the game? I don't think I can reinvent myself, so I assume my future games will have the same style, what will likely change is the amount of time I spend working on the game (I would try to work more on it, given that people would be giving me money exactly for that purpose), and possibly how the structure around the game is organized (giving status updates, testing, receiving suggestions and so on).

Honestly, if I get a job (assuming I can find one), I am not sure how much time left I'll have to work on future games (especially since I would probably try to study and work at the same time, unless I drop-out), so this is me selfishly trying to see if I can have my cake and eat it too.

Anyway, sorry to drop this on you like this, and if it is a bit rambl-ey, but I doubt I could ask about this anywhere else, so here it is. I'll probably post links to this post on the hypnopics collective and on the TFGames forums, so the majority of those who follow my work will know about this.


  1. I have donated in the past and under normal circumstances I would easily be your first Patreon supporter. Unfortunately I lost my job in April and haven't been able to secure another one yet so that's an expense I really couldn't justify right now.

  2. Also I don't think you really need to have reward tiers that guarantee content rewards for people. As you said you are already fully aware of content bloat, and as long as you state that somewhere on your main page most people will accept it.

    For what you need to do monthly: I say just release whatever you do have even in unfinished states as long as it's clearly marked as an alpha build with just a list of what you are still working on. People will get to see what you've done but can't really complain if something breaks as long as you aren't saying whatever feature you are working on is done. After that just keep doing releases as you have been with patreon supporters getting beta builds whenever you would send them out to those of us who donated and opted into that.

    1. I really appreciate your support, and of course, the last thing I would want is for people that do not have financial stability themselves to give me money.

      I know what you mean about not requiring rewards, but this relates to me being unsure of what kind of money I can generate just by doing what I usually do.

      I report regularly what I receive in donations, and I can tell you that, while there have been single instances of incredibly generous donations, I don't think I averaged 50 bucks a month during my best year, and the other years I have made much less.

      Of course, the slow progress on the game is probably a good part of why I don't get much money, together with paypal being restrictive, and me not really advertising donations too much, but I feel very doubtful of my chances to make enough, and that's why I am considering anything I can to get this to serviceable levels. To put a ballpark number on it, I'd need hundreds each month, at the very least, so that I can easily pay my university taxes/fees and help my family's situation more reliably (thank God for public universities, in other countries I am not sure I would even be able to pay the uni with that much).

      I agree with you that having something to show every month is usually the way to go, even if it's broken and you make it clear that it is a work in progress, as you can't always wrap up a quest/feature in a sinlge month.

    2. That's fair. If I might suggest a model I've seen on some moderately successful Patreon pages that will give people some amount of control but leave the ultimate decisions in your hand?

      This model is to have a list of features (I'll use TotDC examples for easy reference) that you post to Patreon supporters. They can then vote on these features as the next item you work on with higher tiers getting more votes (the specific page I saw this work well on gave 1 vote to its $5 subs, 5 to its $10 subs, and 9 to its $20+ subs and if you had more than one you could distribute them in any way you like). You could also use the same voting system for cutting features you aren't sure about and wouldn't mind either way (for example the random quest feature you recently put on the back burner for TotDC).

      The nature of Patreon is that you are going to get suggestions regardless of if it's something you offer as a reward, but this way you don't have to be obligated to add a suggestion to the title if you don't feel it works, but your community also feels like they've been empowered and made a part of the process.

      A TotDC example of this process with very small sub numbers to save space.
      Your list of features (these are examples from past things you did in ToTDC):
      Add Malena Relationship ending
      Add Jane Relationship ending
      Add Piper Relationship ending
      Complete combat overhaul
      Add random quests

      You have these subscribers:
      1 - $25 - 9 votes
      2 - $10 - 10 votes total
      2 - $5 - 2 votes total
      5 - $1 (These guys get no vote, but can see your feed and how voting is going. If they feel that the voting is going the wrong way they may be convinced to up their monthly donation.)

      Your $25 patron actually likes all 3 relationships so he decides to evenly split his votes between the three girls, 3 each.

      Your first $10 patron like Jane and Piper, so he gives 2 each but then also drops 1 vote for random quests since he's interested but not enough to do more.

      Your other $10 patron is all about the combat overhaul and gives 5 votes there.

      Finally your two $5 patrons put one vote to Random quest and the other puts it towards the combat overhaul.

      Thus you have 6 votes for combat, 5 for Piper and Jane, 3 for Malena, and 2 for random quests so the next thing you move to work on is a combat overhaul.

      Next time as you are reaching towards the end of the Combat Overhaul you make another vote topic but this time in addition to what you had before you add "Work on next Story Planet" and "Add more to do with your Moon base" while removing the completed Combat Overhaul.

      This way your Patreon supporters have gotten their say, but you didn't have to add anything you didn't want to. Also if someone does suggest something you think is a good idea are always of course free to add it without worries of a supporter who paid more coming down on you for adding that idea instead of their idea that they paid x tier for.

      Sorry this was way more lengthy than intended and if it didn't help in any way.

    3. Someone suggested something similar to me not too long ago, and I must say that's something I will consider. If that was enough to keep donors interested, it would be pretty amazing, as it would allow me to avoid feature creep or having to prioritize extremely hard to implement scenes/features, while giving supporters some measure of direct involvement.

  3. I think an early access with to beta build and suggest content for high tire donation would be a good plan for you to earn some extra money. As for a monthly release...that might be against your tendency to be lazy and perfectionist nature. XD If you do decide to start a patreon, I won't mind give you a few burgers worth of cash every month. ^_^

    You might wanna look out for copyright claim though, since your game does use a lot of pictures online, although I know quite a few developers do the same thing without any problem. That said, Fenoxo can earn more than 20000 per month without anything pictures, who knows what kind of support you might get.

    1. I believe for very high donations, allowing suggestions is necessary, if I want to get enough money to make it work.

      I would probably go with what Troqu mentioned above, which is to say, the monthly updates would probably be rough around the edges, as I can't imagine always completing new content within just a month (thanks for considering donating to me as well, I do like me some burgers! :D).

      That's what I mentioned in the post as well. I wouldn't do this for TOTDC, for sure, if anything I would hide it as much as possible, and go for a less infring-y concept (maybe use RPGMaker, and contract an artist or do things myself for when a few images are needed).

      Fenoxo has a very large appeal (for a number of reasons including style, covering every fetish under the sun, being a proven developer, being good at communicating updates, and many more), but I tend to doubt my appeal is even a fraction of that.

  4. I donated $2 a month to amalgram on Patreon and then bumped it to $5 now that he's almost done. TOTDC gives you a similar amount of credibility and prestige as Mindshift 1 did for him, so if you were to release a new game I'd pledge a similar amount to add up to about $30 a year. I might go a little higher if there were monthly builds with a good amount of new content, or if you were able to complete more than one game a year. If I started donating and TOTDC doesn't get finished up then I would probably stop donating after awhile. Hope this info helps you decide what to do!

    1. Thanks, knowing that is definitely useful. By the way, as I mentioned, TOTDC is going to be made outside of Patreon, because of copyright concerns, and because it's almost done anyway, so you'll have to worry only about the new game (hopefully, you'll like the concept enough to consider supporting it).

    2. Right, I know Patreon is for a new game and not connected to TOTDC like you said, but at the same time in my mind they'd still be connected. And that helps you since having a nearly completed game I enjoy is what gets me to donate towards a new game, instead of just "following" on Patreon like I do with all the guys who only have an Alpha build of 1 game. Probably a lot of people I follow will never finish a game and it's only people who finish games that I want to support with donations (TOTDC is close enough to finished to count, but I still want to see it actually 100% finish at some point).

    3. Well, my point is that the 1.0 version will likely come out before I set the Patreon up and my new game gets in a good enough shape to be showed as a demo. Of course, there is still the 1.1 version of TOTDC, though, so if that counts for you, I think I have what it takes to get you on board. :)

  5. This is just my 2 cents. Take it with a grain of salt :P or a bucket.

    I am a big fan of your games. I feel they have great quality and are made with lots of hours of hard work.

    That being said, i would personally not pay more than 1$ per month on Patreon, as a token support.

    However, i have seen other patreon projects with less quality getting reasonable ammounts (300-700$ per month).

    So, i guess you could get that. You will need to cater to your target audience though and provide with more regular game updates, 1/2 per month at least.

    Also, tiered rewards are the best way to entice people to contribute.


    General Public - 4th latest version of "Alpha"
    1$ - 3rd latest version
    5$ - 2nd latest version (access to polls)
    10$ - Latest version
    25$ - As above with added input for 1 specific scene?

    Also, games with custom graphics tend to get more $ than just text games. If however like me, you cant draw anything good, either go full text or get someone to draw you the pictures for $ (fiver?)

    Again, catering to your audience is crucial. You probably already have a good following on the Mind Control Community due to your games.
    If you focus there, i feel you could be successfull.

    That all being said, it is still a gamble trying to make life's end on patreon. If you rely on it for basic needs you will always be on the edge, wondering if you get the money. If instead you have other sources of money, and this is just an extra, you will be more confident knowing that you dont depend on it for rent, etc...

    1. No one should pledge more than what they are comfortable with, of course, and 1$ is a lot when given repeatedly over time (I could only dream to get 1$ from everyone who likes my games, that would be a lot).

      Having at least a 2-300 bucks a month would make it easy enough for me to continue without troubles. As you say, I would never jump into this if I was planning to cover my living expenses with it, I don't need huge sums to make it viable, and if I did more I could always dedicate more time/effort to it, or get artists to work with me.

      Now, as for the suggestions, I had similar thoughts in many respects, as I am not confident just doing my own thing is enough to make the money I need, so I would need some incentive for the donors (I would go for a system like the one "new life" uses, though, and just have 1 update per month, and have the public version be last month's closed update, instead of multiple, tiered versions).

      I am reasonably skilled with a pencil, but depending on the type/style of game I might be out of my league in regards to the required quantity vs. time available.

      I would definitely write MC games (that's my fetish, after all ;p), although I am trying a few minor TF elements in my RPGMaker game (nothing that should alienate my MC fans, in fact I assume most will like what I have in mind).

    2. I know this is unrelated to the thread but I couldn't help myself...
      Magma are you the author of the "Fight Club" game? If so I just wanted to say that I really loved that game and I am still hoping that one day you will resume working on it.

    3. Fight Club cannot be finished as it is. The game has blown out of proportion for a single person doing it part time :P
      Sorry about that. If you really like it consider supporting mdqp when/if he launches his patreon.

    4. Speaking of which, even after all this time, I still think about making a game inspired by yours, It was pretty good, if you ask me. Also, for some reason, I seem to love MC in gyms, go figure. XD

  6. I quite love your games and I would be perfectly willing to donate to a Patreon. I don't have much input as to how you might want to put it together, sorry, but if you do, I will add it to the others that I am currently supporting.

    1. That's a big vote of confidence for my games, thank you. Hopefully I can interest enough people with my demo, when the time comes. :)

  7. I've been a long time follower man, and I'd really like to jump on the bandwagon for Patreon, but in the years I've hit financial difficulty. If I could get a job right now, I'd be happy to provide you with support.

    You should have seen how much I used to donate in the past to people for absolutely free. I gave our nearly 700 in donations to artists and to people struggling.

    If I had the ability, I'd have happily donated to you back then, but I've fallen on hard times as well. Can't help it I guess, but I'll see if I can join in if you decide to do Patreon.

    1. If you ask me, the general rule should be "If you are not sure whether you can donate or not, than you probably shouldn't". What I mean is, if you are having troubles, take care of yourself, save up money, and if eventually you land a job that makes the amount of money you want to donate trivial, then you go ahead.

      I appreciate that you would like to support me, but of course there are priorities. While this will probably end up being important for me, I am not so in troubles that I can't eat (I assume that if I was in real troubles, I probably wouldn't be able to tell the internet, because my phone bill wouldn't be paid XD).

  8. If your financial situation would get better by having a steady income, which in turn would let you set aside more time to work on the game(s) you create without having to worry about money, then go for it! Money is in the end both the cause and the solution to most of mankind's major and minor problems, unfortunately.

    Only the really rich who have lived a sheltered life without ever having to worry about their poor living situation, loans, mortgages, debts, fucking shelter over their heads every night and even having enough food for the rest of the month or even for the day, can honestly say that more money wouldn't make their life better in some aspect. :(

    Hell, write up a good summary for your future game, and if it's interesting enough, people (I at least) will pledge the amount of money they think they can afford according to the games worth. If the game is good and people like what you do and if you deliver regularly, then more people will undoubtedly donate. Likewise if you do a poor job of delivering content, they will pay less making it fair for everyone.

    Just don't go down the route of greed like I've seen happen too quite a few popular erotic games! Once they've reached 3-4k$+ a month (which is more than enough to make a good living of), the actual content released and the time between releases, is way less and takes way longer than it did and when the game was fairly new and only had minor income each month. Those games imo, are making me feel like it's some sort of scam rather than a way to support both an indie game developer and the abysmal erotic games market in the west as a whole...

    Just my thoughts on the matter, if you do put up an patreon for your future game and it feels interesting enough, I'll support it in the same way (5-10$) I do with a few other games I like. And your games I do like so I see no reason as why you shouldn't earn some for your efforts and the hours of "fun" you've gives your fans for free so far. :)

    1. Money can definitely improve someone's life, especially when they are struggling. I mean, you can hardly focus on being happy, if you have to fight for scraps, right?

      I want to show an actual demo for the game, together with my plans for it (I would never ask for money based on a concept alone), hopefully that would be more than enough to get people on board. I don't think I could afford to squander any good will I got by getting lazy about the updates, that isn't bound to go well.

      I hope you'll like my next game, so you can feel at ease supporting it. :)

    2. The trust you've built up with us your fans and players with your games and friendly attitude, leaves me with little (non actually) doubt that I wont enjoy your next game. The fetishes in the games you create is pretty much everything I'm looking for in an adult game.

      I'm really looking forward to both the ending of totdc and your upcoming projects. Also, I never got around to thank you for the fact that you added a minor events after Celestes porn career after I suggested/begged for it. So thank you! :)

    3. You never know when your favourite author starts writing romance stories about sentient cars and bikes, so always check to make sure you like what he is doing. XD

      I hope TOTDC's ending will be appreciated. I am very critical of my own efforts, so I am having a hard time figuring out how things have turned out, I can't wait to hear what the testers have to say.

    4. The porn career was in the plans for a long time, so no need to thank me. ;)

    5. The romance of sentient cars and bikes, is that a hint for your upcoming title? :D

      Jokes aside, I'm really looking forward to what you have in store for us in the future, and I hope the beta period and the bugs gets ironed out fast and smooth, so that the rest of us can enjoy the ending of a game which I've played for years. From the very early version with just the one planet, seeing the game expand to what it is today, has indeed been a true pleasure.

      Ok that's enough sucking up for now, time to get those beta testers working overtime.

  9. If Patreon requires you to go "legit" ... isn't that already a pretty big step backwards?
    No more Celeste / high quality pics.

    1. Well, it's not like I have to stop forever doing RAGS games ever again, it would just be bad to link them directly in any way to my Patreon activity. I could have an official game I work on and get support for on Patreon, while still doing other things on the side. It's not like Patreon would stop my project because I am shoplifting at stores, so any other unrelated stuff I do shouldn't be any of their business, either, as long as I am not stupid about it. At least, that's how I imagine it would work.

  10. Heyhey, just saw this (late to the party, I know) - that sounds terrible (about what you're going through). Mmmm.. so for my two cents worth (better late than never?) You're a fantastic storyteller and designer, I'm totally down for supporting you - though I won't do it on Patreon. Not putting you down for using it, makes sense and sounds like you're taking the 'good' approach (actually having frequent updates, releasing the game regardless to everyone) - I Just don't like having a monthly charge that I could easily forget about, even if nothing is coming out. (which happens w/ a lot of games - though you're awesome about it!)

    So, my thoughts? You still have the donate button up - I'll send something that way in the next few days, keep that up. The tricky part about it though is that its easy to forget... so just be active in hypnotics-col.(that's one of the two I check anyways) and put out regular releases.. with reminders of how to support you (Patreon or donation button). Also, much as it would delay the awesomeness I'm so eager to see, maybe alternate between one or two projects and for non-patreon people switch off which project you show at regular intervals. That way you don't get burned out, people stay excited (instead of seeing incremental releases and wondering off after the n-th time they had to replay everything for 2-3 new scenes), and you diversify your audience out a bit.

    And maybe do allow patreon subscribers regular votes on new content, with donate-button subscribers only getting to vote in that-cycle's poll. This way you control your workload and what you're excited about (you decide what's in the poll), maintain communication w/ many fans for minimal work, provide perceived 'extra value', have an excuse to remind donate-button people to donate again (new poll is up!), and you get highest interest-ROI for your work.

    Anyway, make of it what you will, best of luck!

    Oh wait, one more thought!! So... this one's a bit out there but.. there are a few really really really great game designers out there on these themes. You obviously, the one working on the new Motel game looks promising (as does the Motel game that got left behind), the Wanton Cove one, etc. I'm not saying work together, but if you established yourselves as Patreon collective (like the SelectaCorp crew) I could see supporting that - there would be fairly guaranteed content coming out at regular intervals, you could regulate yourselves so those not demonstrating 'progress' didn't get a cut of that [cycle]'s money, could help each other and share resources / questions / frustrations.. And stay independent, since working actually together beyond cameos would probably go as well as it has been going for the HHS+ team.

    Ok, really done now!

    1. (dang it, I can't seem to send you money or get you anything off of amazon wish list 'cause different country, and can't you steam stuff cause not friends on there - if you'd be ok w/ me adding you on steam just poke at me or reply on here saying its ok and I'll send you a friend request)

    2. It's a tale of bureaucracy at its finest, perhaps I'll share it in a post, se we can all laugh/cry at the situation.

      I understand perfectly your worries, but it also seems like several people make more money with Patreon than with donations, and since I am going to make an effort to turn this into at least a part-time job, I figure having a Patreon is hard to escape.

      I probably won't remove the donate button, and it will still exist alongside the Patreon, once I set it up (by the way, I changed the language to english now. I know this sounds weird, but does it work for you now? Sometimes I wonder if the problem is something that comes together with the language setting XD).

      I think I can keep up a regular schedule, if I work it in my daily routine. Most of the delays in TOTDC have been due to a lack of time, and only lately I got some fatigue getting in the way, after years, so I should be able to keep up properly. Players' interest might be an issue, though, so I'll have to think about it.

      I think the best idea is to give patreons votes on what I do next from a list, so I avoid having to add content I didn't plan for, and people still get a say (I would of course always consider suggestions, regardless of votes/donations).

      I'll definitely start "solo", for the sake of my sanity (you can do great things with other people working with you as a team, but it's also extra work and worries you have to tackle), as for the future, we'll see how it goes, before making plans.

      I am fine with adding you as a friend (I didn't know Steam wouldn't allow non-friends to give gifts to each other, how weird!)

      I didn't know Amazon/Paypal were such a headache if we don't live in the same country, that sounds like a somewhat unreasonable limitation.

    3. Perfect! Changing the language totally worked and identified correctly - no idea why starting in Italian completely hid the US as an available nation. Sent some love your way, sorry its been a while since I've done that :D

    4. I had to change the language sooner, but I have been working as much as I can on the game right now, and it kind of slipped my mind. Damn, I hope this didn't cause problems to others as well. :/

      The last thing you should do is say sorry to someone you just donated money to, don't you think? XD

      Thank you very much for the donation!

      By the way, I have noticed I sent you an email last time you donated, but I can't find any replies to it. Did we talk about it and I forgot, or did you never get in touch?

      It was a while ago, and I wasn't very well organized back then, so it's hard for me to either remember or verify these things. -_-

    5. Wooo I hadn't noticed the email - found it now! (Was keeping an eye out for mdqp instead - I'll look for both now)! And, having finally read it, totally no worries on 'giving back' - you've been giving steadily for like years now, creating awesome stuff for our entertainment. I'd say you're doing quite plenty! >< Eeeee can't wait to see how much more awesome it will be when you're actually focused on it if that was the 'for funzies' version ;)

    6. Well, the one thing I expect would improve greatly is the development time, hopefully it won't take me as much to push out new content. If there is enough money, I could probably hire a good artist to make custom art. The writing might improve a bit, with more time, but artistic endeavors don't necessarily scale too well with more time/effort, so I am unsure if I could put out better stuff.

  11. Patreon is definitely the way to go
    I've been on it for a year and a half, and it saved my butt!

    I'll be sure to send some of my followers your way

    1. I sure hope things go well for me too.

      Wait to send them my way until I set everything up and you can try the demo for yourself, that way you'll know for sure if it's worth it or not! ;)