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Back in May of 2019, a development update for Stirring Dragon Games’ old-school Commodore 64-style RPG Unknown Realm: The Siege Perilous assured us that the game would be launching within a year. However, the game’s latest Kickstarter update doesn’t look as promising, with the developers asking their backers for additional funding in order to finish the game sometime in 2020.
The update shows no recent progress of any sort and instead asks for regular donations in exchange for further development updates. Perhaps this is why it’s exclusive to the game’s backers, but if you’re not one of them, you can find the relevant parts below:
We wanted to get you an update before the end of the year, which on our side of the world is now about an hour away and the fireworks have already started. Happy New Year to all, especially those of you who have already entered the next decade!
Full disclosure: the original version of this update was 7+ pages long, and included a lengthy recap of our progress over the last few years. Even though you’re all RPG fans, we knew we couldn’t expect you to read that much text. Here’s the short version. Make sure you read to the end for two small gifts! ;-)
In 2019, we packed up Stirring Dragon Games and left the state of California and moved to a more affordable place– something we probably should have done a long time ago. We relocated to the state of Idaho, and our family is slowly adjusting to a different climate and culture. We had to make a difficult decision back in April when we learned our landlords were selling our house, to either shelf the game and look for jobs so we could afford to stay in the Bay Area close to friends and family, or move to a cheaper location in order to give Unknown Realm and SDG a fighting chance to succeed. So we packed up our kids and our Commodore 64s, said goodbye to our family and friends, and moved North in search of better odds for our fledgling indie studio.
As most of you can imagine, having our development timeline on U.R. extend two years beyond what we originally expected has had a severe impact on the operational cost of this game. In 2019, we tried a plan to raise financial support by selling custom made products on our website, but those have barely generated enough revenue to pay our internet & hosting bills and have not made a dent in our day to day operations costs. So yeah, not our best plan.
Needless to say, the last year or so has been very bumpy for us, personally and professionally. That said, we have a plan to release Unknown Realm in 2020 – but we are asking for your help to make it a straighter path for us to release.
Here’s how you can help us get the digital version of Unknown Realm out in 2020: If each of our backers will go to our website, click the blue donate button, and pledge a $5-$10 recurring monthly donation to support SDG, not only can we spend all our time focused on the game instead of trying to find other revenue streams to keep the lights on; in exchange for your ongoing support, we will provide you with behind-the-scenes video updates each month. We think video updates will be a fun way to share more of what we are doing on the game and hopefully be a faster update format for us than typing up 7+ page updates and bickering over what to take out or leave in. ;-)
In order for this plan to work, we have to meet a certain threshold– we need at least 50% of our backers to pitch in. We are relying on each of our fans to let us know that you’re with us on this.
If we can’t get our community to band together and pave a more direct path forward, then we will embark on the final stretch of this journey alone, and we will forge our own way to finish the game, but it will take longer, and will involve a lot more twists and turns, and less interaction with this community as we try to find other ways to fund development.
We would obviously love to have all of you share in this part of the journey with us, and be able to show you more of the behind-the-scenes part of our work on this last leg, but we know realistically this plan won't make everyone happy. However, the reality is that small indie dev teams like us don't have access to the same funding options that larger studios have, nor the financial safety net of other revenue streams coming in to help us weather the storm.
We’ve been working on this game since the day our Kickstarter campaign ended in 2017. We haven’t really taken a day off except for illness, injury or moving (and Kickstarter funds were not used for any of those things). I think it's safe to say we have shown our commitment to this game and to all of you by the fact that we are still here, doing what we can to carve a path forward. Someone once said "No plan survives contact with the enemy," and that has certainly proven to be true with this project, as it has with many KS projects before us. Many of our plans and estimates, which were made in good faith with the information we had available to us at the time, have not panned out the way we expected... so we persist and we make new plans. And that is exactly what we intend to keep doing until we ship this game to you.
We’ll report back in about a week to let you know how things are going with this plan. If all goes well, our first video update will come out in mid-late January where we will start sharing some behind-the-scenes game development in a format that will hopefully be more dynamic and fun for everyone.