Indie Publishing Award + Q&A Stream
24 days ago
– Sun, Apr 18, 2021 at 11:00:48 PM
SEA OF STARS WON BEST CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN OF 2020 AT THE INDIE PUBLISHING AWARDS!
The Indie Publishing Awards are part of a new online event called GI Live, organized by gamesindustry.biz. They celebrate excellence in all things pertaining more to the business side.
For the crowdfunding category, the international panel of judges analyzed each campaign using these criterias:
- Results (Number of backers, average amount per backer)
- Campaign quality (Graphic assets, video, written content, etc.)
- Marketing results (reach, engagement, virality, coverage)
- Backers relations (Support, updates, community management)
We are really excited to publish this update to let you know about the award, as none of this would have been possible without your support! A massive thank you to all of you who believed in us so early and paved the way for this incredible adventure. Your trust means the world to us and we will do our best to exceed your expectations.
Also, quick shout out to our friends over at Kowloon Nights who won Investor of the Year!
Q&A + NEW AREA REVEAL TODAY ON TWITCH AT 2PM EST
Production is going well, and we wanted to show some fresh pixels! Today's stream will also include the reveal of another important character!
The stream will also include a Q&A, so be sure to join us if you are curious about the behind the scenes, or have a question of your own!
You can tune in to our Twitch channel at 2PM EST, or watch the VOD which will be available later.
Again, we couldn't be more grateful for your support.
A year later! + Cinematics reveal
about 2 months ago
– Sun, Mar 28, 2021 at 12:11:34 AM
IT’S BEEN A YEAR ALREADY.
We thought we'd be over it by now, but we're not. The overwhelming support has been carrying us for the past 12 months and we can't thank you enough for it.
It's obviously been a strange year, but we adapted, scaled the team to 23 artisans all working remotely, focused on the production of Sea of Stars, and tried to avoid spoilers :)
We couldn't be more grateful to be crafting our own turn-based RPG with such a close relationship with our community. Which by the way, if you haven't joined our Discord yet, now would be a good time as we'll be hosting a Q&A and showing a new area of the game soon!
More details below, but first, something shiny to look at right now:
During the Kickstarter campaign, we showed a rough cinematic pilot with placeholder character design, naively thinking the public would go "Oh they mean this but fully fledged, got it!"
Suffice to say we should have known better. So, here we are with a teaser of the Actual Direction and Intention- for our concept artist Bryce Kho's designs to come to life, in traditional animation style made by our friends over at Du Coup Animation: frame by frame character redraws with no rotations, loops, or shortcuts of any kind.
Of course, this approach is way more costly than doing cut-out animation, but quality is our metric here, and for the cinematics to carry this little something that just feels right. Here is a sample which we believe speaks for itself:
Hope you like this teaser as much as we do! For an optimal game experience, we will be sprinkling them lightly, shooting for quality over quantity, to maintain the focus on gameplay and save these bangers for key moments or establishing shots where we feel the story and world are better conveyed without the limitations of the game's camera angle.
WE'RE REVEALING A NEW AREA AND DOING A LIVE TWITCH Q&A ON APRIL 16
It's been a while since we last took questions, and we do want to stay in touch with what players hope to see in the game, as well as offer longer form answers about things such as difficulty, systems like combat, and the design approach in general.
Feel free to join the conversation, it's the best way to stay up to date and voice your preferences!
To ensure proper flow, we will be accumulating most questions in advance in the #qna channel on our Discord. Those that get the most upvotes will be making it into the Q&A, along with more on-the-spot ones as the conversation evolves.
Oh, and we'll take a stroll in a new area, the Moorlands!
WE UPDATED OUR STEAM PAGE!
Be sure to check it out for the latest screenshots. With funding secured, the best action we can now take to make Sea of Stars a success (other than literally making it) is to grow our wishlist.
If you want to help us even more, please go ahead and wishlist Sea of Stars on Steam if you haven't, or get a friend to do it. A bigger wishlist means more opportunities for our game to be showcased, which at this stage is the thing we need the most.
Once again, we can't thank you enough for enabling this dream project.
Expect another update in a couple of months as we will get started on statues and monuments for the backers crypt!
Full funding secured! Kowloon Nights joins the party.
3 months ago
– Sat, Feb 06, 2021 at 07:16:47 PM
Important update today, and a big moment for our small studio. It relates to the business side rather than the game itself.
We decided to go with the full transparency approach for this post and share behind-the-scenes business considerations around the production and eventual publishing of Sea of Stars.
If you are only interested in updates about the game directly, that's totally fine, feel free to skip this one. The gist of it is everything is going super smoothly, and our partnership with Kowloon Nights basically amounts to us officially having the means to achieve the complete vision for the game while retaining 100% creative ownership and freedom to self-publish without any compromises whatsoever.
If you have any questions, we’ll be happy to answer them in the comments, or on our Discord. Let’s dive in!
BIG SCOPE, BIG BUDGET?
You might have heard of the infamous production triangle (fast, cheap, high quality) out of which you only get to pick two items. Whichever pair you chose entails giving up on the third one. Fast and cheap? Low quality. High quality and fast? Expensive. Cheap and high quality? See you in 2027.
From Sabotage's inception 5 years ago, it was always clear that there would be two main aspects on which we would never compromise: actually and measurably humane work conditions, and high-quality content.
Inspired by the response to shoot for The Full Scope while bearing our two main business considerations in mind, and still aiming for a 2022 release, we needed a slightly bigger team, and thus a slightly bigger budget.
We now have 23 team members working full time exclusively on Sea of Stars, most of them having 10+ years of experience in their respective crafts, which makes financial risk management and production planning a core aspect of turning the vision into reality.
Building the full-fledged version of Sea of Stars, including things like side content, a fishing mini-game, backstories and high density areas with seldom any re-use, is frankly a few million dollars venture. This is a ballpark that can put a lot of pressure on a small studio like Sabotage.
IT TOOK CLOSE TO A YEAR TO FIND THE RIGHT PARTNER
Right after the Kickstarter campaign, we started taking meetings.
Defining what we wanted for the future of Sabotage was a long process, and each of the countless meetings we had with potential partners helped us close in on the relevant questions pertaining to our long term vision for the studio, along with shorter term considerations, which lead us to these key takeaways:
- We want Sabotage to be recognized by its peers and by players as a studio that specializes in blending retro aesthetics and modern game design.
- We want freedom to publish ourselves and grow our own brand with long term plans to keep our games' stories alive for those who gathered around them.
- We want to keep the team relatively small (below 25 members).
- We are willing to go all-in on Sea of Stars, reinvesting everything we made from The Messenger.
- We don't want to cut content from the game, even if it means requiring more investment.
- We need support on the "bizdev" side, as we frankly never cared to spend too much time negotiating deals and prefer to focus on making games and building hype with the players directly.
When we met with Alexis and Callum from Kowloon Nights, the connection was all but instantaneous. They are laid back and very knowledgeable of the industry. Within minutes it was clear that they understood on a deep level what we were trying to build regarding both Sea of Stars and the future of Sabotage, and that they agreed it was a worthwhile venture.
Kowloon Nights is a specialized fund focusing mainly on PC and Consoles premium games. They act as a big sister company, providing funds, business advice and opportunities, while letting us make all the final decisions. They are a hands-off partner, meaning we retain full ownership of the creative vision and business decisions around both Sea of Stars and our studio itself, which brings us to the big exciting news.
WE ARE SELF-PUBLISHING SEA OF STARS
Empowered with the response from the Kickstarter campaign, and on social media afterwards, we decided to tackle the challenge of publishing. The proximity that developed with the community around Sea of Stars really feels unique to us, and it is something we want to nurture, as it helps us let the game emerge as what it is trying to be. For example, we weren't sure at first if more mundane content should be in the game (things like fishing and cooking). Seeing the feedback following the demo last summer, it became clear that the core systems of traversal and combat were well received, and that almost unanimously players were hoping the final version of the game would be closer to what we refer to as The Full Scope.
With in-house experience coordinating QA, localization, ports, community management, marketing and compliance, we are confident (and excited) to tackle the challenges of going through the full process by ourselves.
With the team fully ramped up and the funding secured for The Full Scope, the next months will be all about crafting every single act, and iterating on every minute detail until everything is as good as we can make it. As always, we’ll keep you posted on our Discord and Twitter with weekly updates.
Once again, we thank you for believing in our vision at such an impossibly early stage. The amount of love and support we received from backers played a central role in giving us the confidence to self-publish.
2020 wrap-up, and news from production
5 months ago
– Tue, Dec 22, 2020 at 10:55:15 PM
What a year 2020 has been. We hope you are all safe and healthy.
From an intense Kickstarter campaign that started at the same time as a global pandemic, to going fully remote while hiring, to refining our production and work from home pipelines, it’s been quite the roller coaster. That being said, we couldn’t be more grateful for the support we received from this community, and the very welcome distraction it blessed us with.
This update was long overdue, so let's start unpacking...
Act 1 alpha is a wrap
Pretty big milestone for us as the team is putting the finishing touches on the first act of the game. We learned a lot, and are really happy with the result!
Here are a few shots from Act 1 (alpha footage) :
We are live streaming new Sea of Stars content this afternoon (EST).
This afternoon (December 22nd, 2PM EST), Thierry will do a live Q&A on Twitch and present a sneak peek of the Mountain Trail dungeon, featuring everyone's favorite warrior cook!
If you have a question for the team, you can post it in the comments section here, and we’ll add it to the pool :)
Our team now has 22 members
To maintain the focus on quality without causing avoidable delays or compromising on the full vision, we hired 6 more people! Three more pixel artists, one more programmer, a social media manager and a new QA manager. We’re now fully ramped up and ready to tackle this production with only one metric in mind: to make Sea of Stars as good of a game as we can make one.
In other news, like many others we had to adapt our methodology and processes for the challenges of full time remote work, but we are happy to report that velocity has not been impacted. Our dev pipeline is optimized and content is being produced at a steady and predictable pace, so you can expect to be seeing more reveals in the following months.
Exciting news: we are self-publishing Sea of Stars!
This isn’t the official announcement, but we closed a major deal that will allow us to self-publish Sea of Stars. We’ll go into the full details in a dedicated post in 2021.
Since it is not an exclusivity deal, we have complete freedom here, so you are more than welcome to voice any hopes or preferences about platforms. We will be listening and prioritizing our efforts according to your demands.
The Crypt Customizer is launching early 2021
With more than 7000 memorials to be customized for The Crypt, we had to create a platform to gather all the data and streamline communication with backers.
The Crypt Customizer is a web application that allows eligible backers to customize their memorial, whether it is a monument, a statue, or a stone. It will be accessible via your favorite browser using your unique code and backer email.
In the first phase, coming Q1 2021, only the monuments section will be open (a Hero to be Worshipped tier), and will progressively open up to other tiers.
The second phase will add statues (A Hero to be remembered) and stones (Solstice Warriors).
You will receive an email with instructions the moment it goes live. Multiple reminders will also be sent via Discord and email to make sure everyone has ample time to send us the data.
2021 will be a big year!
There are a lot of announcements coming next year, including launch platforms, feature reveals, character reveals and so much more.
But for now, it's time to rest. We wish you all happy and peaceful holidays, and give you our thanks once again for the incredible support you have shown us in this adventure.
-The Sabotage Team
Demo post-mortem, and the beginning of production.
8 months ago
– Mon, Sep 28, 2020 at 01:20:51 AM
It's a wrap for the demo, and what a month it has been! Despite a few distribution hiccups at first, thousands of backers played and replayed it inside and out, and we couldn't feel more blessed with the response.
We received more feedback than we could have hoped for, and had discussions with players from all over the world who offered their perspectives and hopes. The one thing that seems to come through unanimously is that the core of the vision works. There is no way to overstate how happy this makes us as we make the transition from pre-production to production.
A lot of you have taken the time to put together extensive feedback, all in the spirit of helping us make Sea of Stars the best game it can be, and we have been listening. Without going into too much detail here, one thing that seems worth mentioning is that in the demo the world was rather "empty", both to keep playtesters focused on the main path, and because it is still so impossibly early. In the final game, you can absolutely expect more ways to touch the world in both mundane ways like opening drawers, fishing and cooking, as in more concrete ways like undertaking side-quests or booting your endgame save to discover and fight optional bosses that are "stronger than the final boss".
If you miss the demo or want to revisit it, there's a lot available online from streamers and content creators! Here are two of our favorites:
Now that we're officially done preparing tools, renderers and character controllers, we are hard at work on our first milestone of final content (Act 1). Here's a sneak peek of what's in the works:
Childhood intro in Mooncradle Village:
Some enemy concepts from Act 1:
Kid Garl, Kid Valere and Kid Zale running
Enemies spell FX concept sheets
By popular demand, Garl's frying pan attack:
We are also ramping up the team with three additional artists who will help us attain the quality we are shooting for without having to compromise on the timeline.
As always, be sure to come say hi on our Discord from time to time for backer exclusive updates, or to chat with the team!
You can expect another update this fall, as we have started the work on Monuments, Statues and Stones. A Web app is coming soon for you to make your choices!
As always, we thank you once again for all the support <3