Exploit: Zero Day

Rosette Diceless

The Future Proof Podcast 011

Podcast episode

Melissa Avery-Weir  0:21  
Hello, and welcome to the Future Proof Podcast. This is our monthly podcast where we chat about stuff we're working on it, and  anything cool coming down the road. I'm Melissa Avery-Weir.

Gregory Avery-Weir  0:33  
And I'm Gregory Avery-Weir.

Melissa Avery-Weir  0:35  
And this month is another business meeting. So it's the end of, or, well slightly after the quarter one. Well, it's, you know, these things don't happen during quarter one. And so we're taking a look at kind of performance this quarter. Performance, both numerically and by mission statement, like, are we doing the things we think we should be doing? And so as with the last one, there will be numbers cut of like financial numbers. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  1:02  
Yeah, there's one or two numbers that I intend to leave in. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  1:06  
Oh, okay. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  1:07  
Like the amount of money we made on our free game.

Melissa Avery-Weir  1:09  
Oh, yeah, I think that's worth mentioning. So notable things about first quarter financially, is that taxes are due in first quarter for businesses. And I talked about how tax time went... last month, my geekery. I think I cut a lot of that, but there's still some. 

It was done on time, which is a first. It's been a few years since I've gotten taxes done on time. And it was... I've been much better about bookkeeping. So that made that all easier. So one of the big things, right? So we want to look at how we are progressing relative to the budget we set. How we're looking for the rest of the year, up to this date. And whether the money we're putting in needs to change. 

So I have some charts. The--I'm still like, figuring out exactly what chart to pull. So I cannot forecast forward, because of how we do accounting. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  2:07  
Okay. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  2:08  
And this is your cash basis versus accrual method. So because I never use an accounts payable or an accounts receivable, I have no way to look forward to see what money is. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  2:17  
Those numbers aren't in there. You just need to do the math manually. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  2:20  
Exactly. So in this case, you see that we're just fine. Something particularly notable about this quarter is that we had every big expense of our company is in first quarter. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  2:30  
Yeah, that's right, all of our like, memberships on things, and paying our tax person and all that.

Melissa Avery-Weir  2:37  
Exactly. Right. So like all that is first quarter. So when we look at the budget, kind of the normal way to look at it, is to look at your budget versus actual broken down by month. But this only fits January and February on a single page. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  2:54  
Okay.

Melissa Avery-Weir  2:55  
And so I pulled totals, so just the whole quarter versus budget, and then I actually pulled for the end year. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  3:00  
Okay. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  3:01  
So let's, if we look at the quarter amount... Something that, that makes this interesting: so if we look at sales of product income, right? So we missed our target by quite a lot. And so the question is, how does that fit within the year's context? Right? 

Gregory Avery-Weir  3:14  
Yeah. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  3:15  
We expect a fairly even distribution of income.

Gregory Avery-Weir  3:18  
We expect to make about a quarter of our money in the first quarter. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  3:21  
Exactly. And we are not, right? So like, I know there's--we have questions on what like our hustle should be. But I would like us to do something about this, I would like us to... I have a couple of ideas around some marketing, or maybe shifting what we're doing for Future Proof Plays, or something. Like, there's some--you know, we're spending... We're spending time on Future Proof Plays in a way that we have refused to do on other marketing directly for games. And so I'm like, "Well, if we have this energy to do this...?"

Gregory Avery-Weir  3:56  
We like doing streaming.

Melissa Avery-Weir  3:58  
Right. Like what can we do? 

Gregory Avery-Weir  3:59  
Yeah, what--how can we leverage that? Is our profit projection or income projection, assuming a flat income over the course of the year and we assume that we would release something to make a profit? 

Melissa Avery-Weir  4:10  
That is a good question. So we assumed flat across the board. So think we took maybe the total last year and divided it across and we're like between Steam sales, etc. for purposes of this. So that means Ossuary and Majesty of Colors are probably underperforming. I'm guessing especially after the holiday sale, we did not do as well as we expected. 

So I think we can do better. But otherwise, we had some small overages in expenditure. And so when we look at the numbers for the quarter, like you'll see, like this little bit of over 100% usage, but it's like nothing in the grand scheme of things. So I--we're okay. That's where we're sitting budget-wise. Cash flow, I think we're okay. Talk about sales?

Gregory Avery-Weir  5:01  
Yeah, I took a look at sales numbers. So I kind of broke them up by service, because that's just how I went through. So itch.io, which is our favorite storefront.

Melissa Avery-Weir  5:12  
It is, to be honest.

Gregory Avery-Weir  5:13  
Yes. We had occasional purchases scattered, not much. Some call outs that were interesting. So we released Ace Systems Go!, which is our jam game for the Ace Jam 2019, and it was free. So we got 122 views of the game. So a lot when it first came out and then tailing off as you'd expect with the long tail of games. 17 downloads off of it. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  5:43  
Not bad.

Gregory Avery-Weir  5:44  
Yeah. $3 in gross revenue. So someone paid three bucks for the game, which is nice. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  5:50  
Do we know who that is? 

Gregory Avery-Weir  5:51  
We might have. Someone might have been like, yeah, I paid for it.

Melissa Avery-Weir  5:53  
Okay. That's kinda cool. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  5:54  
Yeah. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  5:55  
That's sweet of them to buy a free game. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  5:57  
Yes. But you know, that's a that's a conversion rate of above 10%, which is real good. Yeah. Kindle Direct Publishing, both ebook and print: we've had some purchases of Rosette Diceless.

Melissa Avery-Weir  6:13  
I'm glad there are some print purchases to make it--

Gregory Avery-Weir  6:16  
Yeah. Only a few. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  6:18  
Yeah, yeah. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  6:18  
But yeah, DriveThruRPG: we've had 20 downloads of "Awaiting the End," which is, is the the single-page GMless thing that that I wrote years back. 

So Steam is our largest source of income. And from--in terms of storefronts. It's slow. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  6:41  
Yeah. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  6:42  
There are spikes for the sales as we'd expect. So we had most of our sales during those times. not as big as sales used to be back in the in the glory days of Steam sales. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  6:56  
Yeah, there's a long tail on even discounted sales.

Gregory Avery-Weir  7:00  
Yes. And then finally, Humble is essentially dead for us. They had a winter sale on Humble Store in mid-January. And then we have had no purchases from the widget, which means we've had no purchases this quarter from our website on Ossuary. So Majesty of Colors is not for sale on Humble, only Ossuary is.

Melissa Avery-Weir  7:24  
Yeah. So next up progress and milestones. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  7:28  
So I think that we we said that we were interested in two retreats this year, right? 

Melissa Avery-Weir  7:32  
Two retreats this year.

Gregory Avery-Weir  7:33  
And those would be just like, maybe getting a hotel room and working for a weekend. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  7:39  
Yeah.

Gregory Avery-Weir  7:39  
In the past, we have done staycation retreats, which I think we're less interested in. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  7:45  
Yeah, I think at least this first one, we've talked about going to the beach in particular. And so I think essentially, we just need to sit and plan that. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  7:53  
And then... Do we want to do a jam every quarter? 

Melissa Avery-Weir  7:56  
So we had said that we didn't want to do one as big, or as long running as the Ace Jam. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  8:03  
Because that was a month long, which was very cool. And I think it was an appropriate length for that one. But yeah, I think a week or a weekend would make more sense.

Melissa Avery-Weir  8:12  
So we glanced at Ludum Dare. That's an option for single weekend. But if we don't actively look for a jam, we're not gonna find a jam, right. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  8:19  
Yeah. And then this, this, is this our final item?

Melissa Avery-Weir  8:23  
It is.

Gregory Avery-Weir  8:25  
So there's the big vision question of what did we do to dramatically change the world this quarter? We're trying to encourage dramatic social change. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  8:35  
Yeah. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  8:35  
And what what did we do? So I think that I think that releasing Ace Systems Go! was good. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  8:44  
Yeah.

Gregory Avery-Weir  8:45  
I don't... I don't know that I have seen much critical response or signs of... I haven't heard much response of like, "hey, this affected me." 

Melissa Avery-Weir  8:55  
Right. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  8:56  
I don't know if it was effective. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  8:58  
Right. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  8:58  
It still has the potential of being discovered, right? But I think just having, having that out as a work is useful. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  9:03  
Yeah. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  9:04  
As long as here's a perspective, even on aceness that is not often explored. Our continued work with Future Proof Plays has been good. I think that presenting games that don't normally get streamed in that way--

Melissa Avery-Weir  9:20  
Yeah.

Gregory Avery-Weir  9:21  
--has been has been cool. What about yourself? 

Melissa Avery-Weir  9:24  
I feel like our work on Exploit: Zero Day has stalled in this regard. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  9:29  
Yeah, I would like to focus on picking up speed on that writing. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  9:32  
Yeah.

Gregory Avery-Weir  9:32  
We might want to resume simultaneous story work. For a while, where one of us was doing puzzle design, while another person was doing job writing. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  9:42  
Yeah.

Gregory Avery-Weir  9:43  
For a while now we've been preparing story, and then preparing puzzles. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  9:47  
Yeah. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  9:48  
And condensing that so that we're both working at the same time will at least let us bounce ideas off of each other and have concepts. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  9:55  
Yeah.

Gregory Avery-Weir  9:56  
Mix and blend. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  9:57  
And we're pretty close to being done with "The Plague." That is actually the final small bit. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  10:04  
That's, that's features, development of features, rather than story.

Melissa Avery-Weir  10:08  
Which I feel like would free my brain up a little more for that kind of thing.

Gregory Avery-Weir  10:13  
And once that's--once "The Plague" is done, we'll be... pretty soon thereafter--we'll have to make a plan for it--but doing open alpha. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  10:21  
Yeah. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  10:22  
Which will change our viewpoint on that game, I'm sure. Because we'll have people coming in over the course of time. I think that it's--saying, "I'm just going to sign in and try this game" is a smaller ask than saying sign up for a mailing list so that at some point, you'll get to try this game.

Melissa Avery-Weir  10:40  
Right. I think... I'm interested in the efficacy of the social isolation feature we're doing. I think I've said before that I think we approached safety incorrectly in Exploit: Zero Day with regards to social stuff. We should have built in safety measures from the beginning, instead of putting them in the feature list and prioritizing them that way. Like as soon as we had a forum, and as soon as we had the ability for people to share puzzles with each other, we should have had mechanisms for stopping access to those things in a way that was graceful.

Gregory Avery-Weir  11:14  
Our attitude at the time was, it will be small enough that we can take care of it if it comes up. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  11:19  
Exactly. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  11:20  
And it's turned out that it has not--we have not had the need to ban anyone yet. We've had one case where we had to change someone's handle.

Melissa Avery-Weir  11:30  
We've had a case of locking someone's account out, I think.

Gregory Avery-Weir  11:33  
Okay, yeah. But we haven't had a case where like, we couldn't do that fast enough.

Melissa Avery-Weir  11:38  
Right. But I think philosophically and ethically--

Gregory Avery-Weir  11:40  
Philosophically, we were, we have been maintaining a risk that isn't how we want to do things.

Melissa Avery-Weir  11:47  
Exactly. I'm interested in, once this feature is done and once things are open, I want to write about it. Like, just be like, this is how we chose to approach this, which I don't think is common. Like I think that for some games where you're a jerk, it doesn't matter if you pay for it or not. They're going to yank things.

Gregory Avery-Weir  12:09  
Yeah.

Melissa Avery-Weir  12:10  
Or not, right?

Gregory Avery-Weir  12:11  
So our strategy in summary is we don't, we don't want to take away access to the game if you are socially unacceptable. We want to let you keep what you paid for, but not be able to interact with other people on the game.

Melissa Avery-Weir  12:24  
Which in that case, means anything from having systems be public, to being able to share them on social media to interacting on the forums. It's like, everything. You can't have friends in the game like nothing. You are--we call it "social isolation." And I'm not sure that's a common tactic. And so--

Gregory Avery-Weir  12:43  
It's sometimes used as a temporary tactic. Sending people to the "cornfield" exists in some games. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  12:49  
Yeah. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  12:49  
But yeah, not as a not as a permanent thing. Either ban, or "Whoa, it'll police itself."

Melissa Avery-Weir  12:56  
Yeah. Which... it doesn't. If it does, then--

Gregory Avery-Weir  12:59  
Yeah, it doesn't do it well.

Melissa Avery-Weir  13:00  
--you're on \8\chan or whatever. Yeah. So I think I want to write about that and just kind of like, toss it out into the world and just see like: is this... what do people think of this idea as implemented? 

Gregory Avery-Weir  13:12  
But yeah, I think that will end up... I mean, we could have it done before the next time we have a quarterly meeting.

Melissa Avery-Weir  13:18  
Hope so! 

Gregory Avery-Weir  13:19  
And--

Melissa Avery-Weir  13:20  
I mean, I hope so!

Gregory Avery-Weir  13:21  
I certainly do, too. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  13:22  
Jesus. That's three months.

Gregory Avery-Weir  13:25  
And so we can we can look back on that.

Melissa Avery-Weir  13:26  
Yes. I think whatever jam we pick and how we develop the game for the jam, will be in response to this question of how do we want to dramatically change the world? We know we're not going to just wander off and make something weird. We have-- 

Gregory Avery-Weir  13:40  
Well, I hope we make something weird.

Melissa Avery-Weir  13:42  
Well, to make something normal actually, I think would be the the wrong thing to do. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  13:46  
But yeah, we'll see. It's--you don't want to pick those things too early. Because It's against the spirit of most jams to be like, "oh, let's do the game that we had slotted for this one." Regardless of theme. So slow quarter, first quarter.

Melissa Avery-Weir  14:00  
And yet not. We released a game.

Gregory Avery-Weir  14:02  
We did. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  14:04  
We are not far from being done with Exploit: Zero Day development. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  14:08  
Yeah.

Melissa Avery-Weir  14:08  
I went to a conference today (not technically first quarter). But I went to a conference today that's given me all sorts of ideas with regards to thinking about design and this chatbot we have that I have a twisted love affair with. 

So I think we have some takeaways of things to work on this quarter. We need to sort of think about how we want to make more money around the games we have out. We want to plan for Exploit: Zero Day, talk about our messaging. We've kind of got some some soft work to do there, in addition to finishing the implementing Exploit: Zero Day. 

So that's a busy second quarter, especially if we're getting in a retreat, which of course is we would work on these things at said retreat. But I think that's not bad for second quarter. Like, this is our... This is our first time being able to do this meeting where we actually have a budget to compare against really.  Because we didn't have one in 2018, so our fourth quarter one was, you know, just like looking at numbers.

And so we may tweak the format of this a little bit. Like figuring out where to put stuff, like, how to--where do we talk about marketing, if we talk about marketing, like where does that go? So this meeting will probably be a little different after second quarter. But... 

Gregory Avery-Weir  15:26  
We'll see how it turns out. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  15:27  
Yeah, and we'll hopefully not cut every single thing from the podcast. Just--

Gregory Avery-Weir  15:31  
Fingers crossed. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  15:32  
Just some numbers. Wish me luck. But you all can find our stuff over on futureproofgames. com. We're over on twitter @PlayFutureProof and we are on Facebook. 

Hit us up with questions or comments ideas, either for the podcast or like places that would be interested in hearing about our games. Or come hang out with us on Twitch when we do Future Proof Plays. Our theme music is "Juparo" by Broke for Free, which is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai