For the uninitiated, I've had the idea of a funding thermometer floating around in my head for a while. The basic concept is a kickstarter event where people can donate money, and once it reaches certain preset levels then we will add a new feature to the game.
It's partly a marketing gimmick to get more attention for the game, but also a serious way to raise more money. There's a couple of part-time team members who I'd love to bring on in a full-time role, most notably the lead coder and the weapon / vehicle concept artist. Unfortunately this requires a certain amount of upfront capital because they're not going to leave their jobs unless I can guarantee them a wage for at least a year (which is fair enough).
The idea would be to raise about $100k, which would pay for all the items on the list and also give me enough money to hire the lead programmer and the artist for a year. The three of us would then form the core of Goldhawk and would continue to contract out the other work as required.
If we do this, I think it's important that we make it worth people donating, so I'm trying to get a lineup of proposed additions to the game that get people excited. Here's what I've got in mind:
1) Soviet weapon pack - this is a replacement pack for the starting weapons, which are currently NATO weapons, so they are Soviet weapons instead. The player will be able to choose one or the other at the start of the game and they are identical in-game.
2) Tileset Specific NPCs - the civilians would be dressed appropriately for the tilesets they are in, rather than having general purpose civilians across all the maps. I think this will give a better impression of geography rather than the feeling everywhere is somewhere in or around America that often happens in games. This will also extend to the local friendly NPC soldiers, which is part of the reason why we have the Soviet Weapon Pack - you'd want Russian or Arab troops armed with AK-47s and RPGs rather than NATO style weapons.
3) Extra portraits - at the moment we have 25 soldier portraits. These repeat too frequently as is. I'd like to have 45-50 in the final game so there's more variation.
4) Alien Corpse Variations - at the moment we've got a corpse for each alien type, but as each variation costs about $50 each we've not done one for all of the different alien ranks (it'd cost several thousand dollars). Ideally though, we'd like to have a unique corpse for each alien race/rank combination that reflects their model.
5) Medals System - soldiers level up through combat experience at present, but there's no rewards for specific behaviour like getting seriously wounded in action, surving multiple missions or killing a dozen aliens. It'd be good to add a system where there were a dozen or so medals that soldiers could earn that would provide them small stat bonuses and add a little character to the troops.
6) Intro Movie - we don't have an intro movie at the moment. It'd be good to have one. I'm thinking something like the Homeworld one, which looks awesome but would also be affordable for us. It would cover the Iceland Incident and the origins of the Xenonauts, and maybe be 2-3 minutes long. Link to the Homeworld cinematic below as an example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrW4jkQdmjI
7) Community Prizes - I want to encourage people to help us out in the beta, most notably with mapping and the game balance. Therefore I'd like to offer a $1000 prize for the best mapper and the best balance patch, as well as smaller prizes for other outstanding members of the community in areas like generally being helpful or bugfinding. I'm hoping that will get a few people involved (as well as get a little press coverage).
8) Animated Ground Tiles - it'd be good to have some animated ground tiles for the ground combat, particularly in the UFO and the alien base. Glowing power cores and things floating in test tubes etc.
9) New GUI - This would basically involve rolling out the style of the Main Menu across the rest of the game. The idea is that instead of a glorified spreadsheet (which is how the game currently looks) we go for a more immersive hand-painted look that puts the player actually in the base. The layout of the screens wouldn't change that much, but I think it'd really improve the presentation.
10) Dynamic GUI - This is an improvement on the new GUI shown above. The basic idea is that your base and the personnel change as you perform in-game actions. As you research new technology, the people you're talking to change (so the head engineer might start with a blowtorch but by the end of the game has an alien cutting laser tool or something) and the backgrounds change too. So the research lab starts off looking pretty old-school but by the end has lots of advanced computers etc in it. I'd love to put this in.
11) Hire our staff full time - as mentioned above, this is the eventual aim. Having our lead coder go full time would help us immensely because he's working more than full time on his normal day job already and we're probably working at about 20-25% of the pace we could be because of that. Our weapon artist would basically be working for us at cost, which is pretty low given his rates for everyone else are about $100 an hour. Right now he's basically donating his time to us for free, which can't go on forever.
Anyway, I'm interested to hear if people have any ideas for other stuff we can add (NOT female soldiers) that would add to the appeal of the fundraising, or any comments on the above.
The funding would hopefully come mostly from people buying Standard and Premium pre-orders of the game on Kickstarter at the normal price ($20/$30), but we'd have a few other levels of commit too. We'd probably have a $2 and $5 'tip' level where you don't really get much extra for your donation (perhaps a wallpaper or something), and then some higher ones.
The higher ones would probably revolve around 'super-soldiers' which would have a 2% chance of spawning when you hire a new soldier. They'd have +5 to all their stats (so they're basically like a starting soldier). One level would give the super-soldier a chance to have your name and nationality, another would let you name it and choose a portrait, and the highest one would let you name it, choose a nationality and have us draw a portrait for it directly from your photo that you'd send to us.
So, yeah, thoughts? Do you like it? Does it come off as tacky? Interested to hear opinions.