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The Making of Overland

The story of how we eventually bootstrapped our indie dream game.

By Adam Saltsman

For the last couple of years I’ve been working on my dream project, a tactical survival road trip game called Overland. In Overland, groups of randomly-generated strangers gather supplies and defend themselves from strange creatures as they drive across a ruined America. Think Oregon Trail meets The Road, with a dash of Roadside Picnic and Edward Hopper paintings. Or, as one friend put it,“XCOM for hipsters”. Total development time will be close to three years, with a budget of at least $300,000, with a team size ranging from two to eight or ten, depending on the month.

Rolling the dice on a big project like this can be scary, but Overland is turning out far better than I ever hoped. I’ve never led a project or a team this large, and I screwed up a lot over the last couple of years. I’m probably best known for creating Canabalt back in 2009, a Flash game I made with my friend Danny in less than a week. In spite of that, and probably this is a credit to the rest of the team, Overland is very good.

Crowdfunding and other open development approaches have revealed some of the juicy inner workings of the game industry to a wider audience, which is great, but these trends also exposed how little is broadly understood about commercial game production. That goes for me, too. I learned more making Overland than I did on my previous three games combined.

So even though Overland is turning out great, I don’t really feel like I’m in a position to be giving anyone else advice. But I can at least tell our own story, and share what we did and why, and maybe that can be another small light in this big dark room of how to pay the bills while making games all day.

My wife Bekah and I have been freelancing and producing our own internal projects since 2006. We learned a thing or two on the way, but somehow there’s still something new to pick up every day. Our current jam is an indie game development and publishing company called Finji. Right now our day jobs include developing Overland as well as publishing award-winning games like Feist, Panoramical, and Night in the Woods. We also have two kids, and are active in the local game dev community. It’s a pretty busy house.

We bootstrap, which is to say self-fund, all our internal projects. Basically, we do a lot of contract work and then put the excess revenue from those jobs into our internal productions. Starting around 2006, we accepted at least one major contract every year, to support and offset our riskier experiments.

We have been very lucky in our work too. Not the luckiest, or anything, but we were positioned well to build things for mobile when opportunities opened up there, and getting in before things got Really Crowded gave us an edge later. I branded and designed the frontend for early iPhone hit Wurdle, designed and shipped Canabalt (which, for better or for worse, popularized endless runners), and helped design the stylish Wohlwend-helmed Hundreds for iPad. Despite those successes, contract work played a huge role in keeping us above water.

These trends also exposed how little is broadly
understood about commercial game production.

We also did and continue to do less commercial endeavors — experimental games like Fathom and Capsule, games that will never pay the rent but have influenced other designers over the years. Or Alphabet, a collaboration with Katamari Damacy’s Keita Takahashi. Or Breakdancing Superspy, a hybrid digital-physical mashup of rock climbing and hopscotch. We even helped ship FEZ and the commercial release of Cave Story.

I feel pretty good about our role in all of those games. But since we’ve been doing this for a while, we have the advantage of being able to look back over almost a decade of work and experimentation and pluck out the brightest spots and compress them to seem more impressive. For example, we did some high profile work for the film The Hunger Games, and a set of surreal advertisements for Old Spice that made it onto mainstream Game Of The Year voting lists. We also worked on Indie Game: The Movie, the first movie ever distributed on Steam. Then we designed and shipped a gorgeous educational game about binary math and logic called Phoenix Protocol.

The thing is, gathering up only the projects that went well over the years plays directly into a narrative of overnight success, of sudden importance, of just believing in yourself and the fickle market will reward you for your inherent goodness. That lengthy list of Neat Finji Projects reasonably and justifiably excludes some 20-odd failed prototypes and bad ideas, and a at least 20 or more not-particularly-glamorous projects that did actually ship in one form or another. It leaves out the fact that we’ve gone broke at least 3 times in the last decade. It sort of has to. But this also contributes to a harmful and misleading narrative about the nature of making commercial indie games.

Forbes is never going to write an article about
how a bunch of kids spent everything they had
and made a middling game that flopped.

At the Game Developers Conference earlier this year, I did a short talk about a project we loved but had to put on hiatus after more than 9 months of collaborative development. In some ways that’s the exception that proves the rule though, because aside from some rare stage time there’s just no incentive to talk about these things. There’s a lot of enabling talk about the responsibility of developers to be more transparent, the idea that it’s a good idea to help educate new developers entering the industry or art form but also to enlighten our audience, our players, so that our relationship with the people that support our work can be stronger, and better. Which is all 100% true, too.

But it’s mostly talk. Forbes is never going to write an article about how a bunch of kids spent everything they had and made a middling game that flopped. Studios won’t look twice at a portfolio that shows all the steps you took to get where you are. I’m not saying that games that sell poorly aren’t successful on other axes, or whatever. But we should be aware of the simple social dynamics that tend to cause success stories to float up, and for stories of failure to quietly sink. I’m as guilty as anyone for lapping up the victories and ignoring the defeats.

So the moral pressure for transparency is there, but the incentives are not, and so what we get (in the best case) is developers (myself included) occasionally putting together postmortems about what went right, and what went wrong; reality checks that don’t cast the original developer in TOO harsh a light, but still help reveal some of the dark road ahead for the rest of us. And again, that’s the best case scenario. Sometimes PR just won’t let anyone say anything ever. In the worst case we get “failed” projects drawing the wrong lessons, lashing out at the wrong things, and muddying water that is already impenetrable.

Maybe this is true for everything and not just games. I’m not sure. But both for myself and for others, I wanted to share with you a bit about what’s been going on behind the scenes with Finji, and how we’ve been approaching our tactical survival rogue-like game Overland.

In November 2013, Bekah and I landed some lucrative game development contracts, and found ourselves in that rare and exceedingly weird situation of being “cash rich and time poor,” as they say. While we were working on our own things, we tried investing in DoubleFine’s Spacebase DF-9 and Hack ‘n’ Slash, to see what that was like. It was an interesting experience, but it got us thinking: what if instead of investing in someone else’s big project, we invested in our own?

We liked the sound of this but we weren’t sure where to even start. The closest thing to a “big” project we’d ever done internally was our last release Hundreds, which was barely a 3-person team for barely a year. And none of the game ideas I was interested in at the time seemed to have legs long enough to carry a big game like that. But suddenly a joke on twitter led to a hasty whiteboard sketch which led to a hasty pixel art mockup, and we started to fall in love with this weird idea that eventually became Overland.

We were too swamped to prototype it ourselves, though. So in December 2013, I had fish tacos with Shay Pierce, another local Austin game maker, and we talked about maybe doing a project together. This weird idea I had overlapped with a lot of our shared interests, so Finji hired Shay to produce a playable 2D Unity prototype based on our pixel art mockup. By February 2014, with only one major hiccup (solved by a separate paper prototype), we had a playable iPad game, with admittedly horrendous “art” and “sound”, and we took it to GDC (the aforementioned Game Developers Conference). Friends and strangers spent some time with it, and reactions were very positive. We thought we might have been on to something, and it turned out we were. This is one of the better feelings you get to have when you’re building a new game.

Altogether I think we invested a total of maybe $5000 in this phase of development. If I’d had time to work on it myself we probably could have cut some of those expenses, but this worked well for the situation we were in at the time. And having such a potent prototype on our hands for so little time and effort was really exciting.

There was a gap of three or four months before we began to actually produce the game in something that vaguely resembled a full-time capacity. Part of this gap was spent updating our catalog of existing games to keep up with platform changes on iOS. Part of this time was spent on contract work that would fund Overland. Part of this time was spent simply assembling the team that we thought would make this game really stand out.

This is one of the unavoidable truths of running a small studio: you’re going to wear a heck of a lot of hats over the course of a single day, much less a whole project. Even with a lot of practice, multitasking like this can cost you a week here, a weekend there.

Anyways, we also committed to hiring atypical designers to produce the art and sound for Overland, based on the notion that hiring people with backgrounds too much like my own or like Shay’s would result in derivative work. This was easily worth the relatively tiny effort it required.

We made some mistakes here, too(not in who we hired, but in how to manage expectations of applicants, among other things), and learned a lot about what it takes to build a team like this. I am certain we will mess this up again in the future at some point. People are hard.

The people we did find through this process — Heather Penn and Jocelyn Reyes — are singular and exceptional artists that go far above and beyond their particular duties, contributing outside their core disciplines and improving the game in ways I never expected. Their vision for Overland keeps pushing us toward new things and away from the well-trod areas, just as we hoped.

At the end of this phase, sometime around May or June 2014, the budget had barely increased, maybe by a few thousand dollars maximum, to pay applicants for their time spent on art tests and audio tests. As a former freelancer those fees, although nearly nominal, were mandatory. Regardless, I think the entire process of both building the prototype and assembling the team were completed for under $10,000, even though it took us three to five months to actually accomplish these things.

So it’s June 2014, the team is ready to roll, and our modest goal is to convert our 2D prototype into a cool-looking 3D game and launch it in the Fall. Those unintended delays from the previous months gave us some editorial distance from the prototype, and we were able to confirm its potential through more objective eyes. The Fall launch would put us at nine or ten months of development total, not unlike Hundreds, but we were ready to take the project seriously and swing for the fences. This was the first time in maybe eight years where we’d had an opportunity like this: a long financial runway, a solid prototype, and some real experience.

Ok, a quick aside to give a bit of an overview of how funding and payroll and stuff works on Overland. Finji’s internal projects are currently based on a revenue share model, where the developers of the game are entitled to a fairly massive split of the game’s revenue for years after launch. We like this model for lots of reasons, even though it has its own hangups and tricky parts, particularly for long projects. That’s another topic for another post though.

Regardless, revenue share after launch doesn’t really put food on the table or pay rent. Overland was our first commercial project where we began to pay out monthly advances against those revenue shares. This means each team member (including me) receives a monthly payment that helps pay some of the bills. Finji tracks those payments, and we recoup or earn back those expenses when the game comes out, before the revenue share distribution begins. This is all tracked on a per-team-member basis and is relatively simple.

Historically, both with Finji and with our previous companies, keeping overhead low has always been a big priority for us. We were able to leverage cheap neighborhoods in Austin, a home office, and self-funded collaborators to play it safe, since the business of experimental game making has enough risks already.

But thanks to the scope and scale of Overland, for the first time we started to have a relatively high burn rate, or amount of money we had to spend every month to keep going. At different points in development, paying these advances to the team members costs Finji between $3000 and $10,000 per month, and that doesn’t include me and Bekah. If you throw in our bills and expenses, things start to add up pretty quick.

To accomplish this, everyone on the team made some
substantial sacrifices in order to see this thing through.

I am certain that at this point, if they’re reading, there are some Bay Area-based startups that are rolling their eyes extremely hard at the notion that a $15,000 per month burn rate might feel “high” but everything’s relative I guess!

On the other side, though, the indie games dream is still to try to live on $500 per month and just make art and be pure, man. But it would have been pretty easy to spend five or ten times as much as we have on Overland, and no larger publisher would bat an eye at even those multiplied expenses; we would still be considered dangerously lean. To accomplish this, everyone on the team made some substantial sacrifices in order to see this thing through, and we’ve used every trick we’ve learned in a decade of indie game dev.

Also, this burn rate was not actually a problem for us (yet). We planned for this, we had a budget that allowed for this, we were very careful, and these higher monthly expenses were a good sign, a sign of everything going according to plan.

The other thing that happened, as we approached Fall 2014, is we realized that we had wildly underestimated the complexity and difficulty of building a 3D tactical squad-based survival game at the level of polish we wanted to provide to players. This sort of thing is basically a cliché at this point, but I wanted to bring it up because before and during Overland, I already knew it was a cliché. In the last decade I’ve helped ship dozens of games on a dozen weird platforms. I know most of the rules of thumb pretty well at this point, and I fully comprehend that it’s easy to underestimate things like budgets and schedules by a margin of double or more. And I still fucked it up by a pretty large margin. Approximately double, it turns out.

We had, among other things, 3D camera problems, legibility issues, user interface predicaments, the Herculean task of designing a new kind of apocalypse and a new place for our audience to go, and of course the meta task of making all those things not be good in their own right but be good as a collection, as an interlocking system. Plus a thousand weird little gameplay corner cases we hadn’t thought about, cool new ideas that pushed the concept further than we dreamed it could ever go, and so on. Maybe more than anything else a lack of confidence in just picking a vector and going with it (it’s pretty scary on a project this size). Again, kind of the usual shit. I knew it was the usual shit before we went down this road, and I still know it now. And yet…

So we decided to just not submit to all the Fall 2014 awards and competitions and things. Instead we would push hard to hit our new beta milestone in March 2015. That way we could start marketing during and after GDC for our Summer 2015 release. I’m not sure what our final “spend” was for this phase of development, but I would estimate something like $50,000 or more on just these advances-against-royalties for the rest of the team. Again, in aggregate it might seem like a big number, but helping pay the bills for three people for seven months (over 20 “person-months”) starts to add up! Since the advances didn’t cover all of everyone’s bills, some of us were also dipping into our savings accounts pretty often to keep things moving forward.

And again, to be clear, the results were great. Everything was going according to plan. We finished our contract work, and we didn’t have to borrow anything — the process was working! We got a lot of very positive attention when we publicly debuted the game at Mild Rumpus at GDC 2015. The art direction, despite being very incomplete, stole the show, I think, but some players also got a peek at the kinds of emergent gameplay magic that can happen.

After GDC, we were a little burned out from the big March push, but we were determined to ship Summer 2015. We had a lot to do, yes, but we had made a lot of progress recently, and we had good momentum.

This is a good case of either temporary insanity, inexcusable hubris, or both. Shipping Summer 2015 meant that we were trying to take a game from roughly 10% done all the way to 100% done in a fraction of the time it took to even get to 10%. Anyways, as if it needs to be stated at all, it could not and did not happen.

Two other important things did happen between March and, well, today basically. The first is that the game started to get really, really good. It started to play very well, and to look far better than even the well-received previous public builds. These trends continue in a very encouraging way right up to the writing of this paragraph.

The other interesting thing that happened is that we started to run out of money. Reserves that we were relying on to bridge the gap between the deliberately-inadequate advances and our personal burn rate were drying up, which was (and is) driving our monthly burn rate at Finji closer to $20,000 per month. This was a part of the plan, and not particularly alarming on its own, but the money in our bank account did not match the amount of work that remained.

And with that, I think we’re almost caught up with the decisions and meetings we did this past week, but I wanted to cover two other things first. I think it will help illuminate some of what I’ve already written and some of the things I’m going to talk about for the future of Overland as well.

The first is that completion percentages are extremely weird. There was an interview translated recently with some Nintendo folks that did a great job of explaining this, but basically an overall percentage completion for a game project is sort of a laughable idea. Which parts are how complete and to whom is a really complicated and multi-layered question. For example, in Overland, by all our best estimates, we have put in roughly 80% or more of the actual hours required to take the game to launch. If you were to look at the game in its current state, though, as an outsider, you might feel it is only 40% done or 50% done, because our efforts until very recently have been mainly focused on getting the plumbing and foundations as solid as possible.

But even a month ago, we would still have been over 75% hours logged and maybe only 30% “player complete”. Procedural or randomly generated games commonly have this weird curve, where you build up those basic systems and it takes a long time, and then everything clicks and things start to come together with less trial and error. But even if you ignore whether you’re talking about a developer or player, the percentage complete is still technically a joke. What do I mean by saying we are 80% complete? Is that the UI or the levels or what? Even if it’s the UI, is it UI style, UI functionality, UI polish? There are too many shards. Like quarterback ratings, this is kind of a hopeless attempt to boil down a complex and unpredictable system into a single number, and you just lose too much resolution.

The other interesting thing that happened
is that we we started to run out of money.

The second idea I wanted to share is that the process of experimental game making and the process of commercial game making are fundamentally incompatible. They can not and do not fit together. That some studios are able to somehow make them fit, or fit enough, for a while, sometimes, is a colossal victory. This is a little tricky because the indie dream is basically to make experimental games commercially.

For the sake of clarity and again to hopefully illuminate some of the situation with Overland, I want to break this down slightly more. When I say experimental game making what I mean is the process of “forward” game design, of Church of the Prototype, of iteration, of exploring a design space and listening to the game and figuring out what it wants to be.

Experimental game making is attractive because even though it yields very unpredictable schedules, occasionally frustrating amounts of backtracking, and risky experiments, it is also a relatively fun and creative process period, but more importantly it leaves room for discoveries and organic improvements. It’s the only remotely reliable way to make a playable game that can successfully mix or straight-up avoid existing genres.

Commercial game making, on the other hand, is about building a thing, on a budget, making steady predictable progress, and releasing on time, at a predetermined level of quality and complexity. It is almost the complete opposite of the actual creative process of making a thing. There are huge inevitable clashes here.

There’s a reason that design-oriented giants like
Blizzard take five years or more to make a new game.

I think some studios are better than others at finding ways to somehow reconcile these differences, or avoid the conflicts altogether, and again, that’s awesome, more power to them. Even we occasionally managed it in the past. But there’s a reason that design-oriented giants like Blizzard take five years or more to make a new game. Sometimes finding the magic takes a long time, and sometimes refining the magic takes even longer. Commercial game making is fundamentally, inherently opposed to delays of any sort. But without delays, well, it’s more of a luck-based operation. Sometimes that works I guess. But I’d feel weird literally betting my house on that particular gamble.

Anyways, to quickly summarize where I was before, the time between March 2015 and now (the end of July, 2015) was a period of extremes. On one end, we saw massive improvements in the way we work as a team, massive improvements to the game itself, and we’re finding ourselves more and more on the side of the line where playtesters mainly only get mad at the game because we have to pack up our laptops and get some sleep.

But also we used up pretty much everything we had. Even though it was shorter than the last phase of development, we approached $50,000 in expenses again, thanks in part to those depleted reserve tanks. Toss in the $60,000 we invested earlier, not to mention some substantial amount to make sure Bekah and I could pay our own bills in 2014, Overland’s budget gets pretty big.

Some basic survival gear for a past that never was.

So where does that leave us? We have a game that is excellent and we understand it pretty thoroughly (rarer than it might sound). By our best estimates we’re looking at 16 or more person-months this winter to bring the game to the level that we feel is necessary to adequately hedge our bets for a strong release on PC.

The other thing we have is some empty bank accounts.

And, maybe weirdly, I don’t feel stressed about this. If the game was dog shit and we were broke, I’d be pretty terrified. But the game’s great. So eventually, one way or another, this thing is going to be fine. The question we posed to ourselves last Monday, and spent all week trying to solve as best we could, was this:

“How exactly do we get from where we are now, to where we want to be for our PC launch, without going over the cliff?”

The plan isn’t glamorous, and the process of making the plan wasn’t very sexy either. It’s basically the usual “keep working really hard and avoiding unnecessary risks” plan we always do, but I wanted to break it down a bit in case it might be helpful for other games or other teams.

Step 1 was to write down literally everything there was left to do to ship a hot-ass game on PC. Everything. This was impossible to do in an honest way until pretty recently, because of the aforementioned experimental game making stuff. Step 2 was to go through that list as a group and add all the things we forgot, like marketing, QA, playtesting, and so on. Step 3 was to go through that list and delay everything that wasn’t absolutely necessary until after launch. Some of those hurt us, but we only cut things that didn’t seem to have a significant impact on hitting the PC platform in style.

Step 4 was to figure out how long it would take to do everything on that list. Step 5 was to figure out what order to do those things in, which it turns out is a pretty complicated process. Step 6 was to figure out how many contractors we would need to hire in order to hit even our conservative goals.

Step 7, then, was to look at all of this stuff and figure out how much it would cost. For what it’s worth, that number is… pretty manageable. The bare minimum, assuming we go down to a kind of hybrid hibernation / skeleton-crew mode this winter, is somewhere around $30,000 in additional external expenses, and another $40,000 in internal expenses.

But that covers everything. Hiring an animator, getting marketing help, paying our own bills and supporting the content team, giving ourselves time to continue to market and build awareness as we approach launch, a budget to take the game to PAX South and SXSW Gaming, and so on.

So, while in some ways it is a complicated plan, and a complicated problem, the solution is almost annoyingly simple. We just need to find $70,000.

An unintended side effect that fell out of this process is that we have some dates to announce: we will be able to broaden the scope of the Overland private alpha community starting later this year, and officially launch on PC, Mac, and Linux next year. This puts us a mere 24 months behind our original schedule.

Like clockwork, baby.

We still have to decide how to source our finishing funds, though, that $70,000 we were just talking about. It’s a big number. It would be nice if it was smaller, but it’s not. There are a lot of options out there now for this sort of thing, and we’re under no obligation to get all the funds from a single source. We could get a small business loan, try some crowdfunding, find investors, set up a home equity line of credit, borrow money from friends and family, or some mixture of these things.

Loans always come with a price though. Even unconventionally generous terms like the Indie Fund can change the outlook of a project when the loan is large enough. Since we’ve already invested over $100,000 in the project, we’re at a weird crossroads. Do we take on more contract work and continue to bootstrap the operation? This would put all the risk on Finji as an entity, but increase the chances that we’ll be able to recoup our investment, even if the game fails to find its audience. Or do we borrow money? This would introduce a hopefully-irrelevant but nonetheless significant gap between the launch of the game and our ability to start restoring the funds that we personally put into the project. Or do we focus on marketing and pre-orders and crowdfunding? Or all three?

The one strategy that we’re not considering is Just Launching The Game Even Though Some Parts Of It Are Still A Mess. We’ve invested too much, and can’t entertain a scenario where we’re unnecessarily risking people getting turned off by the game just not being ready for them yet. I’m not sure if that’s a privilege or a curse at this point. Just life without a publisher I guess.

This puts us a mere 24 months behind our original schedule.

Every Finji game before this was bootstrapped. This means before every big risk, we put in the extra time and the extra effort to pad our accounts and trim our budgets to make sure that the only thing we put on the line is ourselves. I think there’s … there’s a weird moral or almost puritanical aspect to that, but another big part is just incentivizing yourself to cross your T’s and dot your I’s and take your project truly seriously.

But Overland is a big game, and contracting is a great way to divide your attention and just plain overwork yourself, driving down the quality of everything. So if we borrow money, will it have such a big impact on the final popularity of the game that paying it back will be a breeze? If we crowdfund or do pre-orders, will we generate enough revenue and will we be able to control the amount of overhead these operations incur?

I don’t know.

The realist and the pragmatist in me says I will probably do some contract work, and we will probably borrow a little money. I already have two kids, the last thing I need in my life right now is more drama.

I hope that in some way this was able to shed a little light what it’s like to bootstrap a sizable indie game.

I don’t really have any advice or nice succinct takeaways to offer here, either. I don’t actually know if Overland is a good idea or not. I think it is, but I’m a bit biased, you know? Another way of putting it maybe:

“Should we have taken the relatively reasonable advice of why didn’t we make or fund five or ten smaller games with that budget?”

Again, I don’t know if we made the right call here or not. But I’ll be able to make small games for the rest of my life. We were given the opportunity to build something bigger, and we took it. I am sure I will regret all the times on the project where I made the wrong call, that shit will keep me up nights for a long time. But I can’t regret actually doing the thing.

Is this how Ken Levine feels all the time? I’m not sure I like it.

Will we make another game this big? Maybe. If we get the chance. There’s things you can do in this format that are pretty fuckin’ cool.

Before I started writing all this down, I asked my followers to see if anyone had any questions about bootstrapping big indie games. I picked out a few that I think are pretty relevant to the discussion here, and which are not necessarily lengthy essays in and of themselves.

“How do you feel about working with so many remote people? Would you do it again?”

It turns out Overland is one of the most local projects we’ve ever done. Most of the team is here in Austin for once. Only our art director is remote, currently in Los Angeles. I would give a limb to somehow be able to have everyone in an office, hiveminding and doing our thing, but we’d easily double our overhead instantly, and have to deal with relocation in order to work with the right people.

As it is, between Slack, Google Hangouts, Asana, some travel now and then, and some coffee shops, I’m really happy with our ability to communicate and coordinate right now.

On the other side of the equation, Hundreds was almost entirely a remote team, and it worked pretty well. I have no idea if being local would have even changed a thing on that game. Maybe some of that was luck and/or experience or… something. I’m not sure.

In the future, though, I think we’ll continue to sort of… weight our decisions toward local folks. That said, if we have to decide between the right person on the other side of the world, and the wrong person, I know which one I’ll pick next time too.

“At what point (if any) did you start to worry about the game actually turning a profit?”

For Overland, we tried to make some guesses about this before we even commissioned the prototype back in December 2013. The main guess or goal or whatever was whether we’d be able to potentially both make a good game and break even. Recently there have been very articulate and thoughtful arguments that breaking even is not an adequate way to maintain a sustainable studio, and with enough inflexible constraints, that is true. But we’ve always done side work and other things to prop up our riskier endeavors, and Overland’s budget was way higher than any previous project. So in this case, breaking even meant having plenty of funds to build one or two more games that were more like our normal work.

Do we know it will break even? Heck no. But we thought a lot about price point and how many copies we’d have to sell and what kind of gameplay we were planning and how much replay it might have and what kind of audience would be into it and even the worst case scenarios seemed like we weren’t crazy to at least try it. Which leads to the next and final question…

“What methods do you use to estimate what sales will be like, and how confident do you feel in those numbers before release?”

Bullshit magic guesses, and very little confidence. But you need something.

Adam Saltsman lives and works in Austin, TX with his wife Bekah, his sons Kingsley and Finnegan, and a couple of dreadful pugs.

If you want to stay up to date on the rest of Overland’s development, you can follow us on Twitch, Youtube, Facebook, or Twitter, or you can sign up for our mailing list here. We don’t send many newsletters, but when we do, they’re pretty weird.

Finji’s most recent release is FEIST for PC, Mac, and Linux. Available now on Steam, GoG, Itch.io, and the Humble Store.



Compendium of Finji’s Overland articles and monthly broadcasts.

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