In the third quarter of this year, we committed ourselves to diversifying Future Proof's income. Our only real source of income right now is sales of Ossuary, and while Exploit: Zero Day is trucking towards having salable plot, development on that has barely begun.
We had another idea, though: in the process of prototyping the Car Game, we started developing a simple scene loading tool in Unity. (Think of the sort of code that loads upcoming areas in an open-world game as you approach the edge of the current one.) This would let us dip a toe into dev tools (an altogether different market than game sales) and wouldn't have required much in the way of PR work: its discoverability would primarily be managed within the Unity asset store.
"All it needs," we said, "is a little bit of polish and some error checking. A couple weeks of work at most."
Famous last words from developers.
Unloading the Scene
We discovered all sorts of little issues with our first pass of it, and adding polish introduced more issues. The timeline kept stretching such that there were a few tasks in each sprint for it, which slowed down Exploit: Zero Day's development and didn't seem to be moving the scene loader forward much.
Worse yet, none of our other works in progress are in Unity, so we were just constructing simple test scenes as we tested. Our original plan to release it as we developed the Car Game would have allowed for real-world testing through the development of the game.
So when we planned the fourth quarter—and this thing still wasn't done—we reassessed. This thing could drag out for months more and still not come out particularly good. Then, if we released it, we'd be spending time supporting a subpar tool.
Not a good place to be, as two people with too little time already.
But we still want to broaden our sources of income. There are a couple of ways we can do that, some more easily than the other.
Viva la Little Games
The first is putting our free games up on itch.io. Right now, our little games can't be paid for at all. Why not allow someone to drop us a buck or few for these, plus build a more robust presence on itch.io?
"Credits" is Cyberpunk for Money
Second, we want to offer an "early bird" product in Exploit: Zero Day. We're still discussing internally what it'll be, but one option is a way for players (already in alpha or not) to pre-purchase access to all paid content. That would be the first two chunks of content that will definitely be developed, plus Season 2 and onward if the game is financially successful enough for those to be developed.
What the early bird product will be is being hotly discussed, but we'd love suggestions via comments here or on the EZD forums.
Even if neither of these brings in substantial income in the short term, it's just good business to open more doors this way.
Play EZD for Free
Want to get a taste of Exploit: Zero Day in the interim? Play a cluster created recently from several player-created systems. To dive fully into the free story developed so far, join the monthly mailing list, where we send out access codes.