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It has been just over a year since our second Kickstarter ended with more than a million dollars pledged by over eight thousand backers.
We thought it was time to give everyone a snapshot as to how Goblinworks is performing financially. This is a look at how we've been spending our cash in 2013. It's important to note that we have raised more money than we have spent and we have money in the bank that we'll be using as we continue development towards the start of Early Enrollment later this year.
We spent a little more than $1.9 million in 2013.
The Marketing expenses are mostly related to advertising we ran during the Kickstarter campaign. Cost of Goods is the price we've paid for software we've licensed to build the game. Office Overhead is all the expenses we have to run our facilities including rent, utilities, travel, purchases of hardware and software, etc. Employee overhead is the salaries, benefits and taxes for our team.
We were close to our overall budget plan for 2013. Our biggest variances are related to our Employee Overhead, as we changed the order we onboarded staff compared to our original plan and managed through the departure of some of our team members. Unsurprisingly we also had higher than expected bills for professional services like legal and accounting – such things are notoriously hard to estimate in advance, especially for startup companies like ours.
As a privately held company, we don't publish formal financial reports and we don't pay to have our books audited, but we hold ourselves to pretty high standards when it comes to managing the money. The executive team—Lisa, Mark, and myself—review these numbers regularly to be sure we're operating according to our plans and adjusting those plans as necessary to meet our business needs. All factors considered, 2013 was pretty calm and straightforward on that front. Our goal was to hire the people to make the game and we did that. Once we begin operations of the game as a service, and especially as we begin to monetize the game, our financials will become substantially more complex. That will be a big part of the 2014 story, as we shift gradually from pure development to a mixture of development and operations.
We are asked continually "how can I back the Pathfinder Online project—I missed the Kickstarter?"
We are ready to answer that question. Starting in a few weeks' time, a new section of the website will open which will allow people to back the project. This will be the new Goblin Squad Store. The store will only be available to backers of the Pathfinder Online project. If you missed the first two Kickstarters, then you will have to purchase one of several backer options for the game itself from the Goblin Squad Store landing page. Once you have purchased one of these options, you will get a spiffy Goblin Squad Member messageboard tag and will now have access to purchase a whole bunch of options in the Goblin Squad Store that were previously invisible to you!
We are going to structure the offers in the store much like the reward tiers in the second Kickstarter. You'll be able to pre-order Open Enrollment access and get in the queue for Early Enrollment. You'll get some additional benefits for Early Enrollment purchases but the packages will not have all the features of the Kickstarter reward tiers. As thanks to our Kickstarter backers, a number of features they were offered will not be generally available in the Goblin Squad Store.
We will continue to offer our Alpha Access package. Purchasing that package will be the only way to get the Daily Deal items from the Kickstarter campaign, and it includes free game time throughout all of Early Enrollment no matter how long that phase of development lasts.
You will also be able to purchase a variety of in-game benefits and to participate in the "name a component" packages that we offered in the Kickstarter (like the Geography Buff, Epic Brewmaster, Item Master, Magic Master and Famous Ancestor packages). Of course, we're going to continue to sell Taverns for those who are interested!
We will offer packages similar to the Crowdforger Pioneer, Crowdforger Buddy, and Crowdforger Guild packages from the Kickstarter for individuals, pairs, and groups to get Early Enrollment access.
There will be a limited selection of "add on" items for your characters as well, although we're not offering certain Kickstarter-only perks like the Secret Salute in the Goblin Squad Store.
Once you're a Goblin Squad member, you'll be able to see additional goodies we're going to be selling in the store—like miniatures and Goblinworks logoed merchandise.
When we deploy the store, we're going to "soft launch" it. We'll put a notice on the community forum at paizo.com to enable watchful fans to access the store immediately. We'll monitor its performance for a week or so, then we'll expand our messaging to notify everyone that the store is open and ready for business.
We're reasonably confident that we're going to be able to complete development on the timeline we have set for ourselves and begin Early Enrollment around the third quarter. But our runway is very short. Increasing our capital reserves will give us a cushion if we need to delay the start of Early Enrollment by a few months.
We have also identified a number of aspects of the game where we would like to increase our investment as fast as possible. We still have a small enough team that adding a few more Goblins means that there's a direct impact on the features and content we can develop at this phase of the project. These are not "mission critical" features but they are things that we believe will help realize the vision we have for the game more quickly and add a lot of value to our Early Enrollment launch.
The funds we're going to raise through the Goblin Squad Store will be matched to those needs: some amount of reserve and some amount of staff expansion.
And in no coincidence, we also have a number of new Goblins to introduce to the community!
Taylor Hainlen is a programmer who recently graduated out of DigiPen Institute of Technology right here in Redmond, WA. While at DigiPen, Taylor worked on numerous game teams for year-long projects to fully produce games from concept to final product. During those projects he worked on just about every discipline of game programming, from physics to UI to back end architecture and a little of everything in between.
Connor Douthat began programming and gaming at a young age. A few years down the road, game development became his primary programming interest. After a year in school for Electrical Engineering, Connor decided to switch to Computer Science and make a career out of his programming hobby. We're happy to have Connor and his wife join us here in the sunny Pacific Northwest!
Bob Settles has joined our game design team as our most recent hire. Bob joins us from Microsoft Studios, where he spent several years as a design director in publishing for PC and Xbox titles ranging from Dungeon Siege II to Scene It to Zoo Tycoon 2. Prior to that, he worked as a game designer and producer at companies like Bungie, 2015, and FASA Interactive and has worked on franchises like Myth: The Fallen Lords and Shadowrun.
We are always seeking people with experience developing MMOs and working on sandbox game designs. If you are interested in joining the Goblinworks team, please submit your resume through our career system.
We are busy finalizing our plans for what we call Q5 and Q6 milestones. Q5 will take us to the start of Alpha testing and Q6 will take us to the start of Early Enrollment.
After finishing the Q4 milestone a few weeks ago, we have been getting ready to share more of the content that we delivered in that milestone with the community. We're starting to produce a lot more in-game assets now and that means we have the ability to show you some of the world we're creating not just tell you about it.
Art Director Mike Hines produced these screenshots, which really show off some of the depth we're working on – huge expanses of terrain, a lot of buildings, the User Interface, and character models.
Mike sends this message along with these images:
We are still in the process of putting together an updated blog video that will show you the latest gameplay and results of the Q4 milestone, but, in the meantime, here are a few shots of the updated environment and a sneak peak at some of the UI updates.
The new environment is done using our large-scale process, which allows us to create much larger areas very quickly. It will still get a lot of tuning to improve the details and polish, but, as mentioned in the previous blog, the entire current four-kilometer-square area we are testing in was created in a couple of days from scratch. As we improve the process, the details will all improve without lengthening the time it takes to produce, allowing us to create huge and diverse gameplay areas with minimal added time.
We have updated the UI to be much more in line with our actual game mechanics. We will explain this in more detail in the near future, but the UI includes some new icons that utilize some overlay image icons with some heraldry style backgrounds that convey the function of the feat. In our constant effort to find time and cost efficient quality solutions, we have utilized a community developed icon set by Lorc (Thomas Tamblyn) for the overlay images. These were free for commercial use with acknowledgement, so we wanted to call that out and will be putting him in the credits. Thanks Lorc!
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