Feedback on the Founders Packs

Golden Xan

Long Dead
Mallius Odium
Mar 30, 2019
118
121
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Hey everyone,
I'm reposting the messages I've sent on Discord about this subject more organized, here.

"To be honest, while I'm happy to be able to potentially acquire a Founders Pack and participate of the First Age, I typically never liked the idea of having time-limited opportunities in general when it comes to games. There are people who would be very happy to acquire any of these packs and to help shape the game, yet they can't simply because they don't know it even exists. And there may even be some who would like to participate, but simply can't due to various conditions. It is the nature of investments such as this, there is not much to be done about it.

At the same time, I believe that limited-availability packs, such as these, are also meant to be more rewarding depending on how soon (or anticipated) you commit to them. That means that the first Founders Packs should be more "valuable" (not necessarily monetarily) than the second Founders Packs because people who committed to the first ones have already decided to do so sooner than others, and therefore deserve a recognition for doing so.

I was thinking here with my buttons and I believe I found something that is rewarding to those who can afford to be an early adopter without feeling unfair to others in any way.
People who are buying these packs aren't doing so so much because they want to get exclusive items that no one else will have (that is a bonus), but for 3 main reasons:
1. They trust Apocalypse Studios and they want to support your vision.
2. They want to play the game earlier.
3. They are super hyped and want to be a part of this new universe.

Anything else I believe are minor motives.
With that in mind, and given the general state of the game right now, I think this is a good moment to allow early adopters the opportunity to help shape the game by having a stronger involvement in the development of the game. Working directly in its development by crafting assets isn't viable. But those people are dedicated enough to be able to judge to some extent the general direction the game is moving towards. I think they could potentially vote on concepts that you guys, as developers, are internally discussing.

I'll give you a simple example. You guys are creating a new concept art for a new class. You make 10 variants. Founders get to vote on which ones they think looks better, and that helps you make a final choice. Or, founders can vote on which character or feature should be given more light in the weekly videos, or what, from a range of developer-selected resources,should be focused on first, given its viability.

This way, early adopters get to influence the game (not by dictating what should be done, but by having a very direct line of communication) and be a part of its development, something that is truly unique to this stage of the game, which is quite rewarding in itself, and doesn't feel unfair to others. Much better than an in-game item, something that you can get without any personal achievement.

If you will, you could also allow for early adopters, within reason, to create specific things for the game, such as naming cities, characters, or creating lore. I don't think players are the right people for that for the most part, but you guys believe the community is more than capable of creating interesting content, so... that could maybe be a thing. Some players will have great ideas. I just don't know how you would be filtering those ideas.

If you limit and apply rules to the content they will be creating, anyone could come up with things that would be fitting for your universe."

Bottom line:

  1. If the Founders Packs have to be limited in time, make them something unique that won't make others feel left out simply because they couldn't participate for whatever reason.
  2. Benefiting from the early developmental stage of the game, allow founders to participate in the decision making of the game. Never having authority over decisions, but by getting a direct line of communication and influence over what the team might focus next, from a range of pre-selected concepts you are already able to work on.
  3. Potentially allow founders to contribute to the creation of new concepts, or to leave their mark in the game in some way. Such as being able to name places, artifacts, weapons, characters, or creating part of the lore (the lesser parts), or even dialogue.
  4. Any content being put into the second set of packs would likely be fairer if they are either included in the first set or if they are simpler than the first set, because otherwise you'd be rewarding people who waited longer to commit to the game instead of gratifying those who did so sooner.
Finally, I have some previous feedback that I find relevant and would like to repost here as well:

"I had an idea that you might want to use on your new Deadhaus website. I've coined it the "Founders' Wall".

Basically, a section of the website where players who have supported Dedhaus' development by becoming founders would get their names etched permanently. It could be their player names plus their real names, if they want it, or perhaps their game name plus a title (customized or pre-fabricated), or maybe all of it together.

Additionally, you could segregate them between the current founders categories you have, or not. As someone who can't afford to make a hefty investment in the game (but would like to), I feel my heart warmer if all founders are "treated the same" in terms of categorization, but in fact I find it is pretty fair to prestige players who invest more into your game.

Finally, you may even transport the Founder's Walls into the game together with the Credits screen. As a different way of gathering funding, I believe people would feel happy to see their names added to the game's credits if they contributed to its development during the early stages by purchasing any founder's packs."

Also, both of these large comments allow for console players to have a good and equal participation in the game without being left out.

@Jalen.P, this is all per your request. Haha. :)
 
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derula

Herr Pfannkuchen
Eternal Champion
Feb 21, 2018
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I have already voiced my personal view on the founders' packs in form of some questions to Denis, but they were, as far as I'm aware, never answered. Plus, I had some more time to think about it, so I'll write down again what I'm thinking now.
  1. First of all: the founders' packs don't appeal to me at all. While I want to be part of the first age and take part in the creative process, it feels weird to pay you to get permission to do so. Basically, I'm not only offering my free services to help with making the game (which I gladly do!), I'd also be paying you so I can. That just makes me think: why would I do that?
    I know I would get something for the money in the end, but these rewards are so vague, so untouchable. A weapon skin? I don't even know exactly what the game will play like, or whether I'd like it. Premium currency? The only thing we know about in-game purchases is that they'll be cosmetic. Not what kinds of cosmetics, not what anything will cost or look like. What if things end up too expensive or the things I would want will not be available? The reason microtransactions work is because you can see everything you can get, and each part individually isn't that expensive - over time you'll end up getting many things. This way, it's kind of backwards.
  2. The "ages" concept is very basic and it's hard to really understand how we'll have any effect on anything. It sounds like I'll be paying for an alpha and a beta and be given the opportunity to say something about it. So far, I haven't seen an instance where anyone's input changed anything.
    I know I mentioned it before, but it makes a good example. Take Chronicles of Elyria, they are doing a similar thing where the players are part of the early stages of development. They also showed very early footage. They set up a roadmap of different pre-release stages, quite akin to Ages, but much more well-defined. In stage one, people would create all the kingdoms and houses of nobility. You can buy into that opportunity. You get to select your land, and define the backstory of your family, cooperatively with the other players who bought into it. The developers created like 5 different procedurally generated worldmaps, and players could choose which one of them would be used in the final game. All of those steps were pre-planned and explained before anyone had to commit to any purchase.
  3. I don't mean to insinuate any evil intentions when saying that actions would speak louder than words. So far, we heard Denis talk a lot about how revolutionary and different it will be, and I want to believe him. We heard how the game will do storytelling in a multiplayer online game, players will be able to make and sell content, and that as with LoK:BO, people said it would be impossible. The implication of course being that since clearly, LoK:BO was not as impossible as everyone was saying, that means that DHS will also not be impossible. Which is a decent enough PR statement, sadly any question of "how so?" I've heard was answered by things among the lines of "we have plans" or "that's where YOUR ideas come in." Between Social Media Integration, Cloud Gaming, Big Data, and Procedural Generation, the only buzzword I'm missing is Blockchain Technology. I just have to trust that what you're saying is accurate - obviously, a few fans will do that. Reaching a larger audience may be more difficult.
In other words: if you are going to create a free-to-play game with focus on community-created content, you are going to raise some eyebrows if you lock early community participation behind a paywall. Free-to-play means that most people will play it because it's free. If early on, only people willing to pay upfront (instead of what should be your target audience) get to decide what's in the game, the game will be biased towards these people, and potentially not draw from the free-to-play crowd as successfully as it could if early participation were more open.

What you could consider:
  1. To advertise immediate, tangible rewards: what exactly am I getting as a founder that I can understand, right now, to have value E.g.: take part in a vote on what the main map should be, create the map of a town, provide a book for a library.
  2. Accordingly, to turn the messaging around from "better pay now, or else you won't be able to do X or Y, ever" to "if you pay now, you get opportunity to do meaningful thing X and Y right now!"
  3. To embrace the free-to-play model by allowing basic and open interaction for free, but offering "micro-transactions" such as "name a city," "design a spell," etc.
In my opinion there is a bit of a contradiction in messaging. Denis likes to say that everything about DHS is different and novel, yet whenever he goes into detail of what exactly is, I just keep getting reminded of several other projects that appear to be doing the exact same thing.
 

Golden Xan

Long Dead
Mallius Odium
Mar 30, 2019
118
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I think those are all quite valid concerns, @derula. I'm curious to see what will their response be to all of this. I think that, in part, they don't yet have many of the systems they'd like to implement in the game created as the game is such on an early stage, and that's why we hear more about ideas than we see tangible features.

I also agree with all your remarks about the Founders Packs. I actually got used to the idea of somehow paying for access into a beta stage, not because I did that often but because it has become the staple... early access, marketing betas, pre-orders, etc. There was a time not too long ago when they'd invite people who were willing not only to play the game in a poorly optimized state but also willing to try and look for bugs and report them, and help improve the game's features with their feedback, and for that there was a somewhat extensive selection process.

While I didn't particularly minded the idea of having to buy a Founders Packs in order to participate of the First Age (formerly an Alpha stage), it does make it more pay-to-play and possibly pay-to-win when you take into account that not only our progresses will not be wiped after these stages but they will also be magnified by "aging", and that player's exploits of this era would have a big impact in the periods to come. Even if you could downplay these benefits to any extent, it would still be an advantage over others of some level.

Alright, let's see what they have to say about this. This is the best time to talk about it.
 

Jalen.P

Community Herald
Staff member
Cat Adopter
Jan 20, 2020
13
20
8
@derula you’ve got some really good points. We’re really glad you’ve brought these concerns to us, because it’s my job as the Community Herald to ensure this uneasy vagueness happens as little as possible. I agree that we haven’t been able to show many of the changes the community has asked for, because of how early we are in development. Suggestions have ranged from particular weapons and armor skins, to having a single player’s various characters interact with each other to complete certain quests. A lot of the community’s ideas are really ambitious, but they can’t be implemented into the game at our current stage. I can only assure you that as the Community Herald, these ideas are being taken down and are brought up when we reach the appropriate milestones to introduce them.

As for the Founder’s packs, we’re in the middle of deciding what should be included into the next group of packs. The question I posted in the Discord on this topic has generated a lot of good ideas for cosmetics, but you are not alone in not wanting more skins. We’re trying to find a healthy balance to make everyone happy, which is obviously very difficult. We have not come to a final decision yet, but I can tell you that the community will be informed of what’s exactly in the packs before they are available for purchase.

I think the main cause of this issue is that we are just trying to create the platform for community driven content right now. It is difficult to show you how you guys have changed the game while we’re trying to show you what the base game will be. We’ve been looking at Chronicles of Elyria since you brought them up, and we can see the benefits of their system. We’re trying to be unique and keep Deadhaus Sonata unlike anything you’ve seen before, but taking notes from other successful games is never a bad idea. Everyone in the office has read yours and @Golden Xan 's comments, and we all understand your concerns. We’ve asked for your suggestions and opinions, it is on us to show you that we have been listening. There will be a follow up to this discussion once we have had more time to talk about it internally.
 

derula

Herr Pfannkuchen
Eternal Champion
Feb 21, 2018
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Thanks for the feedback @Jalen.P, very good to hear! Obviously I know things aren't easy, and I'm sorry if my comments sounded mean or unreasonable. (I know I sometimes sound mean without intending to.) I hope you understand that I brought up similar concerns before and got no feedback, making me feel like nobody heard them. So your feedback is very welcome and relieving indeed.

I further hope that people didn't only pick up on my concerns, but also the more constructive suggestions I included. To be clear, I'm not asking that you do an exact copy of what another game is doing, neither that my suggestions be implemented verbatim. I was just hoping to illustrate my points better with examples.

And also, I'm glad that you look at what others are doing. Of course creating something unique and different is a fantastic goal, however just like there's no light without shadow, you can't create something different if you disregard what already exists. You might accidentally create something that you didn't know existed before - or didn't think your audience would know :D

Looking forward to seeing what the next group of packs will be. Hopefully there will be something in them that I can get behind. If there's something I see value in, I can certainly see myself buying in. I'm not that horrible a person.
 
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Golden Xan

Long Dead
Mallius Odium
Mar 30, 2019
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I just thought of something. What if some of the Founders Packs include all future premium content to be released? Or all premium content up until a certain Age, maybe. If not, maybe a discount on all future content?
That's not something I'd be particularly interested in, but others might.
I don't know how long the second Founders Packs will last, but depending on how much attention the game gets by then, there could be enough people coming in that some of them would be interested in acquiring such a pack.
 

Roband

Ripe
Feb 19, 2020
12
20
8
Most of my questions were already covered by derula post, i just want to add a suggestion: make a preview with images, videos, 3d views ecc. about the content of the packs, it's already vague enough having a premium currency without knowing how much money it corresponds or what exactly we can buy with it so at least you could provide a clear look about the rest of the content, and i mean a "in game" look. I would also suggest as already posted by others, to remove the locked access to the first two eras exclusively to people who will purchase the packs: if the purpose of beeing free to play is to grant the most accessibility possible it doesn't make sense to throw the first two stages of the game behind a paywall, it just contradict itself (or at least that is what i could understand by the interviews), or at least make it completely accessible just with the cheapest of the packs. I mysef im still considering the purchase but i'm still not sure because of this lack of transparency i wrote before and because there could be others packs i may be more interested in on the way. That being said i understand that the project is still work in progress and i have confidence in Denis and the developing team, i'm looking forward to see how the game goes (because it'the spiritual successor of one of my favourite game series and because it looks both ambitious and unique, and these are qualities that i'm always inclined to support in the modern gaming industry).
 

Golden Xan

Long Dead
Mallius Odium
Mar 30, 2019
118
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Considering how the First Age will have limited available content and will likely be filled with bugs, I believe it makes sense to keep it closed... If it were open, all sorts of people would come in to try the game and they'd be disappointed at the lack of content and state of polish, and they would surely trash the game without taking the time to realize what they've got their hands on. These kinds of things happen to Early Access games on Steam, and people are buying the games knowing that they are in early development. Sometimes, this bad word of mouth can trash a game before it is even formed.

However, as I have agreed before, it also makes sense that a free to play game would allows as many people as possible into their game, especially if it is the way Denis has mentioned where you have the opportunity to shape the game's story. Perhaps they can leave the access closed, but leave it open for people to candidate themselves for participating. This alone will help players understand what they are getting into already.

For not undermining those who already bought Founders Packs, their access could be made granted and immediate to the First Age, while others could join by entering a queue, where they may or may not be allowed after an initial screening, signing of agreements and declarations, and given access according to the server's capacity.

That should help by making the process a little more restrictive, only enough so that you turn away the more superficial players who are not ready to play the game in the developmental stage it will be in, but not too much that you stop people who really want to play from doing so (and contributing with the development).
 

derula

Herr Pfannkuchen
Eternal Champion
Feb 21, 2018
112
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I just had an idea that would at least make me buy into the Founders' Packs. If there was one cheaper Founders' Pack that only allowed access to the first age and nothing else - no weapon skin, no premium currency, maybe even without the ability to craft items that would later become super powerful - I would probably buy into that if it was like $10 or $15. $20 would be stretching it for me...

I guess you could throw in the same amount in premium currency, too, it might seal the deal for some others who aren't weird like me. Plus, if the premium currency is unusable before the game's official release (third age?), it could be a motivator for people who didn't like it in Early Access to check it out again after release and see if they like it better then.

But basically this kind of package would be more concrete for me, I'd be paying a low price to play a game early I might like. Maybe there could be a similar deal for half as much for the second age.
 
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Roband

Ripe
Feb 19, 2020
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I agree with the suggestions above. I think a volunteering based subscription or a cheap founding pack would be goods compromises and would avoid the risk of bad reviews from people that don't understand how ALPHA and BETA work.
 
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Golden Xan

Long Dead
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Mar 30, 2019
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Given everything that we've discussed and everything I heard from the team so far, I want to make some new suggestions.
  1. Design the second Founders Packs' content to be more interesting than the first packs, as already suggested.
  2. Put the content of the second Founders Packs together with the first Founders Packs for a brief window of time. People who already purchased any of the first packs automatically gain all rewards appropriate to the level of commitment.
  3. Once this window closes, move the content of the first Founders Packs onto the second Founders Packs.
  4. Remove the first Founders packs from the store OR keep it as separate options/higher value packs.
The reasoning is this: if you decide to make a more engaging content for the Founders Packs, it doesn't make sense to put it on the second set of packs because you'd be rewarding people who committed in "second place." This is a good compromise between rewarding those who supported you from the beginning and allowing for interesting rewards for everyone, now and later. If you swap the content from the packs (putting the content of the current packs in the second set, or some of them) you will also allow people who are looking for different kinds of things to get specifically what they want. Those who want cosmetics can buy the second set of packs, those who want engagement can buy the first set of packs.

Also, creating the window period where people can get both contents for the same price (or with a certain increase) that is limited will also motivate some who haven't made up their minds so far to make a purchase.

Alternatively, you could keep both sets of packs available for purchase throughout the development of Deadhaus. You may simply raise the price of the packs in the first set while allowing for the more simpler packs in the second set, if you decide to make more cosmetic items instead of something else. That still allows for the window period in which the second set is announced, contents may or may not be merged to some extent, and after that period you apply the price increase and make the second set available. Either way, I believe it's a possibility that will add to everyone's perspective.

Again, I don't think I have to point that out but I will do it anyway: the rewards for the second set cannot be better than the rewards for the first set, because then you will be shooting yourselves in the foot by gracing people who came in/committed later. At the same time, the second set cannot contain the same contents from first set for a lower value, because then you will be punishing those who committed early. That is why I believe this method could be appropriate to please everyone.
 
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Livin

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Mar 20, 2019
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@Golden Xan, I'm partial to suggestion 2. It treats going from founders 1 to 2 as compounding interest, encouraging more early investment with founders 1.
 
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