Release schedules [Miniature Multiverse]

In answer to some valid questions about the Itch.IO release vs. free version vs. the benefits of being a member on this website, the plan looks like this:

Sept. 2017: Vyrsul, Pryme & Lokus, made available both to members on HornbostelProductions.com and also Itch.IO.  I know I’d said the members would get access to new content before anyone else, but that’s mainly true with updates, not the initial release.  As for free non-paying visitors, nothing released for them in 2017 as far as Miniature Multiverse goes except for some video content from the project and a few screenshots and maybe a limited demo only containing the world Lokus.  Sorry!

Online stores, like mine, and Itch.IO, where people actually pay for the game, will get released content well before free players. When a new update is released, it’ll go to these stores first, and the paying players, then free players typically about a year later.

November 2017: Revised launch date. Six worlds available for buyers at a price of $1.50 that includes all future updates to the project.

December 2017: Stripped down demo containing only Lokus is posted for free.

January or February 2018: Additional batch of areas/worlds added, essentially doubling the project’s size and scope.

April-May 2018: Another additional set of worlds added, increasing the size of the project to 3x its intial scope.

September-October 2018: The last core update posted, meaning the central storyline in the game and all the essential puzzle material is complete, and the game is 4x the scope it had at first launch.

December 2018: New free version posted with all the November content.

January 2019: Another update for paying customers if things are still going well.

March 2019: First update made available for free.

April 2019: Another paid players’ update

..and so on, alternating months, as long as it’s viable.

 

The rate of production will be adjusted based on the success or lack of success of the project. If the project is failing horribly as a sale item, it might have to slow down and may get shut down at the end of 2018.  If moderately popular, it’ll keep on going, and if it’s doing really well it may actually expand the rate of production to updates of more worlds per update after a while.  I intend to have 23 or more worlds in ‘Miniature Multiverse’ by end of 2018. Whether it continues beyond that, that’s up to all of you.

There’s a possible growth spiral and I aspire to make that a reality, where the more updates, the better the product looks to people and the more sales it makes, thus funding more updates, and so on.  If I can get things going in that way that would be awesome. This might actually run for half a decade or so in the best case scenarios.

 

Miniature Multiverse launching soon on Itch.IO!

A few quick notes on what had earlier been teased.  Firstly, Miniature Multiverse, a project mostly stalled since 2011, has moved forward, as I’ve realized that I can now get it done – I have a new high end camera setup, better than what I had during the Kickstarter – and I’ve gotten much better assets and experience with Unity, so… all that was missing was some specialized miniature materials and a few additional weeks of work and I could get this out there.  So that effort began in earnest a few weeks ago.  And now I’m publicly discussing it.

There’s an Itch.IO page and a website that is active again:

MiniatureMultiverse.com.  The site needs some work in the hours/days leading to actual launch.  The Itch.IO page does too, but once the updates to those two pages start flowing faster, you’ll know release is likely just hours or minutes away.

Miniature Multiverse launching in a few days
Miniature Multiverse is launching in a few days

I’ve changed my method of panoramic capture, but the good news is that the last-minute change will improve the visual quality of the tour – and it also means that I’m working through the process of photographing the tour and I’ve figured out the best available approach.  Which in turn implies something is there to photograph… and in fact, all of the three worlds in the initial version of the tour have been assembled as extensive miniature environments.  And by extensive, I mean usually about 4 or 5 feet from one end to the other, with a lot of varied detailing but in a small enough scale that I can get my arms out to my camera over any part of the miniature, and also big enough, that the camera can be carefully positioned in the various nooks/crannies of the landscapes.  They look beautiful BTW, and I’ll post a lot of material related to the project shortly.

But for now, here are some key things to consider.

One, the tour has well over 50 nodes across only three worlds [Pryme, Lokus, and Vyrsul] BUT those worlds are restructured to be a bit bigger than had initially been envisioned, so there’s actually plenty to explore here, despite the fact that the first release only has three explorable locations.

Two, I’m selling this on Itch.IO for $1.75 (plus a tip if you’re so inclined) in hopes of covering the costs involved in expanding the tour to include new worlds, so that the project can grow over time. Those new worlds will, if funded, be released as free updates to the tour!

Third, it has no HTML5 release, only Windows / Mac OS X / Linux versions. I’ll package all those into the $1.75 download archive, so there won’t be any need to buy multiple copies for multiple platforms.

Four, as stated earlier, I am not using the single-shot capture method I started out with anymore, and this image explains why that was a flawed method and inadequate graphically in my view:

Troop 4 party has been a success!

Okay, quick notes:

  1. The Troop 4 party went really well.  Terrific food, and I got the two new videos done fairly well by the deadline, so that’s awesome.  Some of the audio needed work and the animation was spotty on the cartoon, but other than that it turned out great.
  2. With regards to two questions asked of the cast payments, yes, if my network is successful that will affect cast payouts, and no, payouts will not go up in tandem with inflation, at least not directly.  $1/year/actor/video remains $1/year/actor/video [that’s the standard minimum payment] unless my income increases.
  3. Realistically, however, my income should gradually increase over time as I gain a more extensive reputation as a vendor, better skills, more experience, etc, and my income is also likely to go up in terms of dollars as the value of a dollar gradually trends down over time.  I am listing a very high income bracket in the chart below, and that might SOUND like pie in the sky for an artist like myself, but I’m not being ridiculous; I’m actually well aware that the only way I’ll ever reach $200k+ in income by the end of my career is if my career somehow gradually improves, and the value of the US dollar is collapsing during the next half a century and inflation is persistently high.  Which could well occur given America’s rising debt levels.  Even if inflation’s at a historically normal level, though, that still means we should expect the dollar to be worth around 20% of what it is now, by 2060.  So that’s when I expect that sort of income is *possible* for me – the final years of my career, and it would be more like $40k in today’s terms.

Here’s the chart:

Payments to cast members, revision 

My aim then, is to hold the residuals or ongoing payments, somewhere just slightly below 10% of my total income, and another 10-12% in one-off pay in any given year.   Residuals can be adjusted simply by adding more or less in the way of new content in any given year.  If my income [after taxes] is soaring, I will make more videos that year than usual, with more cast members and locations than usual, and post them online.  If not, I won’t.  The numbers were revised downwards slightly with the goal of making more future video projects per year, [with larger casts] more likely to be feasible over the next half century.

Note that my plan is for 40% of my post tax income to go to making new videos & video games – perhaps 20% as casting budget and 20% as production budget.  Comics and games use the same payment logic for contributing members that videos do.  So if you voice acted or did FMV or simply had your name/resemblance used in a comic book or video game, that is counted as if it were a video.  Then there’s the other 10% or so in residuals… which makes the total 50%.  5% is disposable income focused on entertainment or for allocation in case something else costs more than anticipated.  Another 33% covers core operating costs of the network, like web hosting, and domain renewals, as well as maintaining and expanding the sale product lines on which the revenue depends.  In other words, an ongoing supply of shipping materials, canvas, paints, other bills, etc.  The final 18% is saved up or invested in some way so I have a reserve in case it’s needed later.

The video channel itself, launches in a few weeks.  It won’t contain much initially, and mostly the cast will just be me, but it marks the start of something bigger.

I’ve toyed with the notion of simply bypassing cast members I can’t reach and posting videos anyway [in a space where they have no way to generate revenue of any kind] but it seems there’s no legal benefit to doing so.  I might as well run ads for my services, with the content, and hold the actor’s earnings in a safe place until they finally come out of the ‘woodwork’ and become reachable again – at which point I’ll immediately offer them the money their video earned, hopefully pre-empting the question of ‘why did you release this without my explicit written permission and make money off of it?’

My rule now is as follows:  I will go ahead and post videos over time, even if one or two random people in it are inaccessible and cannot be reached by phone, email, or any other means.  I will tally up all actors’ earnings on every project annually and pay them.  If they are unreachable, I’ll hold that cash in an organized folder or envelope somewhere secure, marked with the actor’s name.  If and when I find them, I will ask them to sign and will pay them.  They may ask for the video or alternately their scene in the video to be pulled – I’ll remind them that it will upset the audience that likes the video and the other actors who did sign, and who do want the content online, but that if they insist the content be pulled, it will be.

What about the signatures?  Legal documents?

I am debating how best to handle that; I like the idea of the digital signature, but the document was way too complicated and long last time and I’m trying to pare it down and make it clearer and leaner for future use.  I’m using eSignGenie for this.

Still reeling and coping with the setbacks

I think in a few days I’ll have the PC operating normally, more or less.

While the Windows OS update was screwing up my plans for a video channel release (previously scheduled for May 10 but now pushed back by two weeks.) I also found a message in my spam folder notifying me that vividminigolf.com was not set to auto renew and that it was expiring.

Fortunately I got it renewed within the grace period, that brief span between when a domain expires and when it is purchasable by other people.  But for a couple days the site was down and the game was inaccessible.  Sorry about that.

I think things are getting back on track, more or less – I have a few options for getting my PC working again ranging from mild [replacing faulty AMD drivers] to severely annoying [reinstalling the OS] but all of them depend on first backing up everything on the internal drives in case something goes severely wrong and the hardware is basically unrecoverable.  That is unlikely but I’m backing all the content up via command line anyway.  This takes some time, and involves a lot of copying of subdirectories to and from a 128gb flash drive.

The first attempt to acquire signatures from a few cast members failed; I’m now revising the terms and will send out those forms on a person by person basis beginning with an initial set of 40 people or so on May 17.  The terms for cast members are now even more generous, to the point where under some circumstances the video channel might not prove to be viable.  I recognize that if the channel on my website were to take off suddenly with above 500k viewers, and the other stuff – the sale items – don’t grow at a similar pace, the cost to me could be enormous and might cause a systemic failure of my web network.

Why?  Because I’m using sale products as a substitute for conventional third party ad revenue.  Should the sale products disappoint and fall below a certain ratio relative to the video views, the profitability of my websites go down and maybe even go negative.  The threshhold at which this happens was, in the original document, very unlikely to be crossed, but now I think the odds of the video channel losing money are hovering around 25%.  This is something that I can adjust to some degree to improve things if they get bad enough, like:

-writing most upcoming videos with smaller casts of about 3-4 persons instead of sprawling ensembles.

-minimizing location shoots off my property.

-increasing promotion frequency [advertising] of related sale products in the video channel playlists in an attempt to boost revenue on the channel to a tenable level.

-promoting my video channel only subtly and emphasizing the shop on most non video pages.

My hope is that the video channel will raise about as much revenue as it costs, maybe even prove mildly profitable somehow.  That would be amazing, and in my view the effort breaking even is still something of a victory.

Since we’re discussing the shops and sale items, I think it’s a perfect time to point out the stuff I’ve got piled into the Etsy and eBay shops right now.  There’s more there than is usually the case and you should check that out.

I’ve got a bunch of antiquarian magazine issues [I maestri del colore] on sale right now on eBay, substantially undervalued, someone could absolutely buy a lot of 20 and flip them, reselling them as individual listings.  That might actually make you a tidy profit.  But those listings are ending right about now!

My eBay shop

I also have a bunch of my old work on sale on Etsy now.  Lots of stuff.  Batches of old artworks that have been around a few years and haven’t sold locally – but which are now on sale at really great low prices!

My Etsy shop