NGS Dissolved & Future of Resurgence
8 months ago
– Thu, Aug 03, 2017 at 10:20:43 PM
Hello again my fellow Nectarines,
Rob here, with a heavy heart and somber news. In this update you’ll find:
- Why Nectar has been dissolved
- What’s next for the team
- Future of Resurgence
- Why no refunds
- Core demo links
It has been extremely difficult for me to write this update. I’ve tried, and I just couldn’t get the words to come out. Emotionally, I’ve fallen into one of the darkest places in my life, and I’m just now digging myself out and starting to feel ok again. As the title states, we’ve run out of money and been forced to dissolve Nectar and put Resurgence on indefinite hiatus.
I apologize if this comes as a shock to you. It certainly was a shock to us. But I will try to explain the situation as best I can, and what that means for all of you and our beloved game.
What the Hell Happened?!
When you gave us your money and your faith a year and a half ago, we were convinced we had a solid plan and team to get the job done. But as development progressed, and the schedule started to slip, we found out how far off the mark we truly were. I’m not going to call it “indie-itis” because I find that to be a flippant and condescending term for small plucky teams taking a shot, and falling short of the mark. If you’ve never developed a game, it’s easy to discount the thousands of man-hours, physical and mental energy, personal sacrifice, and plain luck it takes to succeed. And always remember Murphy’s Law. Things go wrong, bugs happen, features need to be redesigned or cut, and teammates’ life circumstances change. I’m going to go more in-depth with a full postmortem in a later update, covering what exactly went right and wrong, but in a nutshell, we discovered that we were easily making a half-million dollar game on less than half of that budget.
When the Kickstarter closed, we knew that money was only going to be enough to keep the core team going for a year of full-time paid development. That meant scaling down our 50 some volunteers to just 15 people, all getting paid a meager $9.50 per hour (the highest minimum wage in America at the time) to cover our basic living expenses and let us focus on development. We still managed to stretch the funds an extra six months, but as our original release date of January 2017 was looming we knew we had to make some tough decisions. If you’re familiar with the Project Management Triangle, we chose to stick with Quality and Low Cost, which also meant abandoning Speed. So our path became clear. To continue development we didn’t need to raise an insane amount of money, but we still needed more. And the best option there was to find a publisher.
We began the search for a publisher back in January. Any startup will tell you fundraising generally takes about 3-6 months with the CEO totally focused on that. I tried my best, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to dedicate all my time to that effort. As a small team, I still had to juggle my Creative Director responsibilities to keep the rest of the team moving forward. I’m not an experienced business guy, I’m a designer and producer, so I’ve had to learn to be an entrepreneur as I went. I needed help, and I asked Cohh to step up as my co-founder, but he just couldn’t find the time with his streaming schedule. In March, I brought on an entrepreneur friend and game developer, Branden Middendorf, to help with the fundraising effort. Together, we contacted over 50 publishers, knowing they were our best shot for a “lead investor.” In order to deliver on the vision of Resurgence we promised, we set out to raise a $500K seed round from a combination of publishers, angel investors, incubators, and venture capitalists. While a huge number (more than double our Kickstarter goal), that’s pretty much the minimum to be taken seriously in the startup investment world. That amount would let us expand the team (finally hiring more programmers and artists), and fund another year of development. Getting a publisher deal was the first step that would have allowed all the other pieces to start falling into place, and we were so close.
Of the publishers we contacted, we had the best luck with the small indie ones. We had several rounds of interviews with Devolver Digital, Raw Fury, Versus Evil, Humble, and Team 17, but ultimately they all passed. Those interviews seemed to go so well, and we were so hopeful that we’d get an offer from at least one of them. Just $100K from a respected publisher would have given us our “lead investor” (the hardest part of fundraising), plus all the benefits a good publisher offers to developers and started the snowball of other investment deals. It’s a lot like Kickstarter actually, no one wants to be attached to a project with no momentum, but people come out of the woodwork for one that looks like a sure thing.
Anyway, by June we had just enough money left in the bank for that month of payroll, and remaining bills. We had just released the new Explore demo and were hopeful that would convince the last couple publishers he hadn’t heard from yet that we were worth a shot. But soon enough, they too said no. When the final rejection email came in, that was a crushing blow. I spiraled, as I saw the finality of my dream crumbling around me. We were out of time, money, and options. There was no other choice but to close up shop.
That’s when I had an emergency meeting with Cohh, and he made an announcement on Twitch a few days later.
Future of Nectar
With no more runway, we came to the harsh realization that, like many other startups, our first venture had failed. I am deeply sorry it took so long to write this update (since many of you only follow us through these backer updates), but it was just too fresh of a wound. It felt like a death in the family, and I had to process my grief first. Then came the task of finalizing the paperwork, paying off our debts, and any other lingering issues. And since Nectar was the main source of income for most of us, we had to immediately set to finding new jobs. Many of us have had to take temporary work to keep the bills paid, but we are still looking for work in games. If you hear about any opportunities for passionate and dedicated cRPG enthusiasts (especially remote), we’d be most appreciative.
Despite the dissolving of Nectar Game Studios as a legal entity, the team itself still wants to keep working together in some way. We’ve all bonded a lot over the last 5 years working on this project, so there’s a good chance we’ll keep working together on something in our spare time once again. As soon as we figure out what that is, we’ll start looking for volunteers again to join the team. This new phoenix team, rising from the ashes, will no longer be Nectar but we’re going to keep the branding we’ve established for the short term. So anything new going on with the team will still go out on our existing social media platforms and website.
Refunds - One of the big questions we’ve seen so far is regarding refunds. As much as we’d love to refund all the backer pledges, that’s simply just not possible. All that money has been spent on development, to get us this far. It’s all gone. The only thing we can do is cancel all the pending add-ons and pre-orders in BackerKit. No one has been charged in BackerKit yet (unless you opted for Paypal), so we will still cancel those payments. Perhaps you’ve received a refund from a failed project in the past, but there’s really no way to do that without someone else footing the bill. The only way I can see that happening is if another studio wanted to purchase the IP, assets, and codebase (a long shot to say the least). And to avoid any confusion, Kickstarter is not a store and pledges are not pre-orders (Kickstarter FAQ: Accountability). Pledges are legally considered donations or gifts so backing a project is essentially taking a gamble on something you’d like to see happen, but there are no guarantees. I’m just sorry we couldn’t be one of those projects that are able to deliver.
Future of Resurgence
Nectar may be dead, but that doesn’t mean Resurgence is canceled and gone for good. We had to dissolve the company for legal reasons, but the whole team is still passionate about this game and wants to see it completed someday. After five years though, we all feel like we need a brief change of pace. We all still love the idea, but we clearly made some mistakes and could have done some things better. Right now the team wants to work on a much smaller project just to show we can finish something. We haven’t decided what that next project will be, but there’s a good chance it will be related to Resurgence and the world of Lumen in some way. When we dissolved the company, we decided that it would be best for me personally to continue being the steward of the Resurgence intellectual property (IP). Which means the team and I are still free to continue development of Resurgence as a volunteer hobby project once again and complete it someday.
One of the biggest problems we faced though was I took on too much responsibility myself. I continuously felt torn between working on the design of the game (which I love) and working on the business side (which I find really stressful and taxing). So I forced myself into a position I didn’t even like out of necessity, and it made the work more and more draining over time. I think one of the best ways for Resurgence to move forward is for me to really dig back into the design of Resurgence and finalize a super detailed game design doc (GDD). Once we got into real production, we realized how disjointed and vague some of our design docs were, and we never recovered from that. By starting off with a concrete plan, our ability to estimate and plan would be much more reliable and accurate.
Core System Demo links
I know there’s little consolation we can offer now, other than our desire to still finish what we started. We made a promise that we would do our best to deliver the game you all want, and despite everything that’s happened, we still want to honor that. If we can finish Resurgence in some form, someday, you will receive that game. No additional charge, no strings attached.
In the meantime, we would like to make the two Core demos we completed publically available. We would still love to hear what you like and how we can make them better. Our forums will remain up and are still a great place to continue that conversation.
CST1 - Dialogue (700MB, Windows only)
Dropbox Link - https://www.dropbox.com/s/a7gectkzdc9rwy1/Resurgence%20CST1%20Dialog.zip?dl=0
Password - Silvertongue
CST2 - Exploration (1GB, Windows only)
Dropbox Link - https://www.dropbox.com/s/vg1y1mwrsbhzojh/Resurgence%20CST2%20Exploration.zip?dl=0
Password - Dungeoncrawl
Well, that’s it for today. Working on Resurgence has been the hardest and most rewarding endeavor of my life, so I hope I’ve offered you all some hope despite all the suck. Nectar may be dead, but Resurgence will live on. You have my word on that.
Now we’d like to hear from you. As a backer, how would you like to see Resurgence live on? Books, comics, or other media? Board game or pen and paper RPG? Should we regroup and try crowdfunding again? Go totally open source? Sell the IP to the highest bidder?
I can’t fully express the regret and guilt I feel for letting you all down. But I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for believing in this team and this game and helping us get this far. I will never forget it.
Project Lead, Creative Director