This post will address my thoughts and decisions behind starting up a project like this, why did I set up Patreon and what are my plans in the future. I will also share a little bit about who I am, what I want to do and why. If you are looking for a condense list of short answers, head over to the FAQ article.
Why did you set up Patreon?
While my ultimate goal is to make money by selling games, it takes a long time to develop one and the financial investment required to finish it is more than I can handle alone.
Previously, I would be working as a part-time freelancer to sustain my living costs while working on my game but after two years I realized it would never be done this way. With some money saved up, I decided to reduce my freelancing business to a minimum and dedicate it most of my time.
The development got faster, but the money I got saved up is simply not enough to finish it. So when I got the game to a state where I felt comfortable asking for financial support from fans, I started Patreon in hopes of making that possible.
What is your approach to Patreon?
For me, patrons are people who not only decide to pitch in before the game is released but do so often beyond the price point of the game. Even though I compensate everyone with additional copies for their friends when requested (depending on what patrons have pledged), not everyone might do so and Patreon is definitely not just a way to finance a copy for themselves. Being a patron is a stronger relationship than a regular customer and so I will always look for ways to honor that relationship and give back as much as possible. I see it as building a community together.
On a personal level, I tend to be very honest and open about the development process and my journey of becoming an indie game developer. Some things might be tough to address, but I believe that staying honest and accepting responsibility is the best way to get through such times together.
What happens if you don't meet your goals with Patreon?
I will continue working on the game and do my best to finish it regardless. However, it will likely be much slower and the game ends up being of less quality.
Whatever happens, I love working on it and I want to see it done and people enjoy playing it. Money is important, but financial profit is not on the top of my priority list. Creating something meaningful is.
What inspired you to make this game?
I honestly love playing city-building games. I'm also a big AI nerd and worlds of simulation and procgen are very tempting to play with.
The possibilities for fun in this genre are endless and it is super exciting to be exploring them with a game of my own. Being a big fan of Rimworld and Prison Architect shaped some of my early ideas and since I was born in Czechia, the medieval setting was almost given (we kinda adore everything that has "medieval" in the description).
It is my first big game so I did not want to go too crazy, but I still wanted to innovate the genre and not make just another sim game. Once I settled with the core mechanics, I had no doubts it would be worth my time.
How long have you been working on it?
More than two years. I estimated about 2 500 hours of work that I have invested during this time. The development began in February 2018.
At the time, I was working as a business consultant, which has been a great learning experience, but it eventually lost its appeal to me and I started to feel that the paycheck does not do enough to keep me going. I really needed to get back to games and so I started working on Lords & Villeins. Soon I learned this is not a game that can be made in a few months, but somehow I kept working on it anyway. And as it was shaping in front of me, so was my commitment to turn it into a career path.
When is the release?
The public demo should arrive by the end of April 2020. Early access is currently planned for July 2020 and full release about two years after (May 2022). However, I see many opportunities to develop the game even further, so additional content can be expected if the game does well.
Make sure to head over the main page to learn about the full roadmap.
How long have you been into game dev?
Over 15 years, professionally around 4 (I'm 29). My interests started very early on and I was absorbed by the complexity and creativity the game dev career is offering ever since I started playing computer games.
Eventually, I got into university to study programming and user experience, explored a lot about game design and with art and music as my hobbies I was slowly realizing I can (with varying quality) deliver on almost any side of game development. Later I also went through two game dev studios (Keen Software House and Disney Mobile), got involved with the local game dev conference and the Czech game dev association and co-owned a small IT business for a couple of years.
These experiences were crucial for me to understand what goes into running a company and how complex the game industry is. Eventually, I settled with being an indie and hopefully one day kickstart a small game dev studio where people can express themselves with creative freedom and mutual support. I still have a lot to learn and I'm excited for the things to come.
Why do you work alone?
I do not rush partnerships and I generally put the focus on the development of the game over business relationships. While I do try to involve more people into the team, networking, pitching to investors and filing grant applications is not really my strength and I don't force myself into it unless it is necessary.
It is tough to work alone, but so far I have been able to make everything to a level of quality that people seem to be happy with. Having another person to complement the skillset that I'm lacking, as much as I could use it, was not something I would have to rely on.
What are your goals with this game?
By far the most important reason is to find my audience and entertain other people as games entertained me for many years. I love the medium, I know what kind of games I want to make and being able to connect with people who like the same things is extremely satisfying to me. I also value independence and creative freedom and these things together are magnitudes more valuable to me than a big salary or the safety of a somewhat stable job.
I also love working with people. Working together and sharing our thoughts to make our games even better can be a wonderful experience. Even though I decided to go indie, I am always looking for ways to bring the right person to the team. My goal is to grow a small studio and that, in turn, informs my financial goals for the game.
Is villeins a typo?
It depends on how you look at it but the official answer is no. Even though the villain has originated from the word villein, it used to have a very different meaning - it represented the working class of a feudal society. It was mostly the aristocracy that treated peasants with disregard and over time led to a more negative connotation of a villain who is nothing but a vicious criminal. I am somewhat of a villain myself, as I like to confuse people with this puzzling name of my game :-)
That would be it for this article. I hope I have addressed some important topics and gave you a better idea about myself and the game. If you still have some questions, throw me an email or give me notice on my social media. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day! :)