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BallisticNG is going from free to paid

On September 21st we are going to be transitioning from a free game to a paid game – costing $5 or your regional equivalent and then $8 when we leave Early Access. A list of questions and answers are below, however because this is a controversial move based on our ethic throughout the game’s development I want to first take the time to explain why we have made this important decision.

Part 1

BallisticNG initially started off as a fan project and wasn’t really built to become what it has now, the game’s gone through an insane amount of overhauls and restructurings in a short period to suit what we believe the baseline of quality on Steam should be. There’s three of us working on the game and when development started we all had a fair amount of free time to dedicate without much worry about finances. Jump to now and we’re looking to make BallisticNG and future games our day job. We’re extremely grateful to the generous fans who have been donating on Patreon every month and the one off donations we get through paypal as we wouldn’t be as far as we are now without you guys – this support throughout the past year has been instrumental to the state of the game now.

Although we did not meet our first goal on Patreon financially, we did meet the goal regardless. This goal was to rewrite a large amount of the game’s core systems to allow new gamemodes to be programmed with support for custom gamemodes programmed in C#. As of 0.9, this goal has been fully reached.

We’re invested in continuing on with game development as an independent group, but if we are to do that then we need to take what once was a hobbyist fan project and make the final transformation into a professional game that we stand behind on the Steam storefront. We want to continue to develop BallisticNG in the long term to add additional features such as online multiplayer with a competitive infrastructure, improved modding tools with much better capabilities and as much free additional content as we can think up. In order to do this, we need BallisticNG to be our source of stable income which pays the rent and food bills.

Regarding Patreon, part of our decision to make this transition was that we believe Patreon for our specific scenario is very anti-consumer and doesn’t encourage us to make a better game more than it does give us an excuse to be lazy. While this is not the case regardless, we do not like that Patreon was opening this possibility over time.

Part 2

We want to bring as many existing players over to the paid version of the game as possible, which is why anybody who has donated a lifetime of $5 or more on Patreon or Paypal will be getting a free key. With 1.0, those same people will also be getting the donators liveries as advertised on our Patreon rewards. If you have been developing mods that do not infringe on the copyright of others, we would also like to invite you over to the paid version so get in touch with us on our Discord server (tag @developers) or by sending an email to ballisticng@gmail.com.

Finally we would like to apologise for the break of the always free promise, given the scope of BallisticNG it was a naive and shortsighted decision. In an ideal world we would have wanted to have kept the game free forever. This let down is a lesson learned for future projects and a mistake we will not be making again.

When the game switches to paid, as long as you do not uninstall the game you will continue to have access to the version you were at – you just won’t receive updates or have access to steamworks based features anymore.

Q&A

How much will the game cost?
The game is going to be sold for $5, we believe that this is a fair price which is affordable to the majority of existing players. When we leave Early Access we will have a more complete experience, and as such will slightly increase the price to $8.

When will you be charging?
The change is going to happen two weeks from this announcement, on the 21st of September.

What’s going to happen to Patreon?
Once we begin charging on Steam, the Patreon will be shut down. We will then be sending out your key for the game as quickly as possible after this – there’s not a large amount of people so this should take around 72 hours at the maximum.

How will I receive my key?
We are going to be sending keys for Patreon donators out on Patreon itself, people who have donated on Paypal will have the key emailed to them on the email they donated with. As mentioned above for modders, jump onto our Discord server or shoot us an email at ballisticng@gmail.com. As an additional note, active Patreon donators on our Discord server can expect their key to be sent via PM.

What about the developer branch?
The developer branch is going to be removed and the beta branch will instead take its place. It will be open to anybody who has purchased the game and will be updated as frequently as the developer branch is now until 1.0.

Will there be any DRM?
BallisticNG is going to be completely DRM free, it will continue to function as it does now where the game does not require Steam to be running and will only disable Steamworks features when no instance of Steam is found – features such as the workshop, leaderboards, achievements and in the future, online multiplayer.

Will there be any other locations to download the game?
Not for the time being, BallisticNGs downloads are going to be removed from Itch.IO and will instead be replaced with a link to the Steam store. When 1.0 is released we will aim to get the game released on GoG too.

Will there be any mac/linux builds?
0.9 will be getting the unoffical mac and linux build as normal, however we still need to coordinate how we are going to properly handle multi operating system builds in the long term. There are a few technical issues to overcome first, we do want to provide offical multi operating system builds in the future though and we will be finding a solution soon.

What’s the plan for transitioning out of early access?
We have two phases planned for the transition. Phase one is a preliminary update which patches in a new menu and integration of the Rewired input library. Phase two is the remainder of the features. It is possible these updates will be split into several smaller updates, such a 0.10 before entering 1.0. You can see the full list of planned changes/additions here:

  • A new menu – replacing the main menu and ingame menus with new controller and mouse friendly interfaces
  • A new userdata folder structure for mods and inbuilt support for automatically generating mod content categories from mod folder hierarchies that you can manage ingame
  • A built in C# mod manager which lets you decide if they are enabled and their execution order
  • Fast test feature for the Ballistic Unity Tools so you can build your track and have it load up in an instance of the game without the fuss of going through menus
  • A much more diverse and longer campaign which utilizes the XP system added in 0.8 to provide unlocks, such as alternate liveries
  • Implementation of Rewired, an input library that bypasses Unity’s input system and is well respected for its controller compatibility – this will also introduce a variety of other options for configuring axes and will allow multiple controllers to be detected for splitscreen.
  • A rewrite of the weapons system so custom weapons can be implemented into the game
  • Final ship stat and AI balancing
  • Remove legacy achievements and implement new achievements

A Realistic Discussion of The Future

The Future

BallisticNG is now in a state where we are happy with the content on display and feel like it could could maintain itself with the introduction of custom tracks to keep a stream of fresh content coming in from the community. We’re actually at a point where all we really need to do now is fix up a few loose ends and we’d be in a good position to leave Early Access.

However as mentioned in our Patreon announcement we want to take it further and provide not only a solid game but a solid creative platform for people. With BallisticNG being free and us not wanting to charge for it, being able to keep up with this goal is showing to be hard.

The Patreon so far is providing us with some extra money which is very appreciated, but realistically it’s not enough to keep us afloat for too much longer. If everyone playing were to donate $1 every month then we would have more than enough to keep going to see the project out to it’s full potential.

If you’re not aware of our Patreon yet, you can check it out here: https://www.patreon.com/Neognosis Update: The Patreon has ended, please view our latest blog posts.

There are currently three routes we can take:

  1. Use 0.7 as the baseline for finishing the game, fix up any bugs, add any extra little cool features and then wrap it up and leave Early Access. After this carry on with our lives and maintain BnG on the side while we look at new project ideas.
  2. If funded, carry out our goals listed on the Patreon. This will result in the game being in development for longer, but the final game will be much higher quality and jam packed with a lot more features.
  3. Drop the Patreon (ensuring everyone donating now is accommodated for) and start charging for the game.

Route 2 is the route we want to take. Let us know what your thoughts on Route 3 are though, we’d love to gather some thoughts on what people think about charging for the game.

If you have some spare change you could throw our way then we would really appreciate it so we can give you something greater back. If you’re as passionate about playing the game as we are developing it then be sure to tell your friends and anybody else you bump into who might enjoy it!

What’s coming next?

At the moment what’s coming next are a lot of updates that will be improving stability and the user experience. If we can keep ourselves afloat then plenty more will come however. See the Patreon link above for all of the information.

0.8 is no longer going to be focused on Multiplayer as we do not have the time and resources to research and implement what we want at the current time. Multiplayer is a very large and complicated area but in order to get the game up to scratch with what everyone, including ourselves, would expect out of a multiplayer experience we will need a lot of time. Very little people play Multiplayer also, which makes it hard to justify spending more of our limited development time on it.

New style of updates

BallisticNG for the time being is going to be going back to frequent updates, much like the 0.4 days for any of you who’s been with us since then.

We are going to be looking at releasing a new update every 2 weeks, this means frequent updates all the way up the next major release. If you’re a Patreon and are on the development branch then you will continue to get the updates as soon as new features are added!

The Future of ballisticNG

Hey everyone! Today we’ve got some big news regarding development of the game. All the information you need to know is below, but in summary we are looking at extending BallisticNG further then we originally aimed. We will however need some financial backing if we are to do this. As of posting this announcement we have started a Patreon campaign, which you can find here: https://www.patreon.com/Neognosis

As a small group of three working on a free title we don’t have the funds to continue developing BallisticNG too much further in the long term. There are many goals that we would love to hit but simply can’t because of time and financial constraints. We stand by BallisticNG being a free game and we will never change that; but by supporting us on Patreon you can help provide us with the income we need to take this from what has so far been a hobby into a full-time line of work.

If we can achieve that then we plan to take BallisticNG as it is now, reprogram the core and expand upon it to provide a much more fleshed out racing experience.

Making these changes will take a while. We fully understand any stigmas or concerns that are involved when doing such tasks, such as games dying or entering an infinite development state where they never reach completion. To combat this, we have set out clear goals for ourselves to measure against and we would like to provide people with the opportunity to get their hands on every change and improvement as soon as it happens.

If we are not able to get the financial backing for this then we will simply continue on with development as it is now, with a target final release date in Summer 2017 with the goals we mentioned in the v0.6 release announcement. We would love to have the opportunity to extend the game further though.

We want people to gain something through their supporting us straight away, so if you donate to us through Patreon you will be given access to our development branch: a version of BallisticNG that is usually updated daily with all of the latest features, fixes, and immidiate corrections directly in response to player feedback. This branch represents the most current, cutting-edge state of the game as it exists on our own PCs. If you have previously donated to us through Itch.IO, check your inbox!

Below is a list of plans. This list can also be found on the Patreon page.

  • Reprogram a large portion of the game to optimize it further and modularize everything. This will improve performance, speed up future development and allow us to implement new gamemodes, settings and content very easily.
  • Vastly improve the modding tools. Our vision with the modding tools is to provide an intuitive and polished set of tools that casual users can pick up instantly and advanced users can dive into to make something amazing to share with people. We would also love to provide people with a scripting environment to program their own gamemodes and weapons with.
  • Allow the game to read more industry standard file formats for modding such as FBX and DAE for models and TGA for textures.
  • Extend upon multiplayer. Provide new features such as ingame chat, voice chat and rewrite the underlying structure to provide anti-cheat, stability and much, much better synchronization between players.
  • Rewrite and standardize the user interface, improving user experience.
  • Introduce a replay and replay editing system that allows you to share your best races with others and produce videos of your races with a set of tools to manipulate the camera and apply effects in realtime.
  • Introduce an extended singleplayer campaign that provides content rewards including alternative ship skins and badges.

All these features are primarily an extension of the current game. While being funded will naturally give us the time to make supplementary improvements such as updating track scenery and ingame effects, the fundamental goal is to take the game we have now and make it even better. Ships will continue to handle exactly like they currently do and the game will continue to use the retro-3D artstyle.

We would like to take this time to thank everyone who has been playing the game so far! We are positively blessed to have picked up such a strongly knit community so far and it’s an honour to see so many people in our channels enjoying what we’ve created. We really appreciate your feedback, both positive and negative, and we hope that we can bring you all the best game possible. We are infinitely grateful to anyone who can find some spare change to throw our way once a month – making games is what we want to do, and to be able to make a living off of our passion could only be called a dream come true.

Thank you all!