Ecosystem Will Continue

Published by Tom on

A Look Back at the Kickstarter Campaign

You have probably seen by now that the Kickstarter campaign for Ecosystem didn’t make it, though it came tantalizingly close, at a full 88% of the funding goal.

Kickstarter has gotten a lot more difficult since I ran the Enemy campaign. In 2013, Rock Paper Shotgun had a weekly feature that covered the current titles there. It’s hard to imagine a big outlet doing that now. Looking back at projects from the earliest days, you see a lot that just had a few paragraphs of text and some concept art! On successful projects now, you can scroll down the page for minutes before you hit the end.

The main difficulty with Ecosystem‘s crowdfunding lied in getting coverage and spreading the word. Kickstarter relies mostly on you driving traffic to the project yourself, and I struggled to do that. Behind the scenes, I was doing everything I could to let people know about the game but most of the time, I was met with radio silence – a fairly common outcome for indie developers. The biggest thing that would have helped is a demo. Press outlets like to see one before they write articles, and it would have opened up the possibility of sending the game to streamers. I knew this was a potential issue before I launched, but I took the risk – and lost.

Since the project came pretty close to its target, I ran a livestream during the last half hour of the campaign, in hopes that it would help stir up interest. This of course had the unfortunate side effect of broadcasting my moment of Kickstarter failure all over the world and also ensuring that it would be saved for all time:

The Path From Here

Failing the Kickstarter was a difficult experience and I worry a little that it was difficult to drum up interest, but I still think the game has potential and I intend to still make it. It’s unlikely that I’ll try crowdfunding again, though I am considering Early Access, as this may be the kind of systems-oriented game that could benefit from it. Most of the features mentioned in the Kickstarter should still make it through to the final game. It is possible, though, that they may take a little longer without the funding that Kickstarter would have provided.

I’ve started up a development blog here at my own website, and I’ll be sharing progress updates as well as gifs, videos, and eventually a beta of the game and a demo. If you would like to keep following development and be informed when you can play it, feel free to bookmark the blog or sign up for the mailing list:

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              I’ll also be posting everything to Twitter and Facebook. It would be great to hear from all of you as development progresses. I really enjoyed communicating back and forth during the Kickstarter, and Enemy improved a lot because of the input of backers. Lastly, even though we didn’t quite make it (though we came shockingly close!), I wanted to thank all of you for your support. I really appreciate it.

              Best wishes,

              An alien creature adapts to an alien world. More info soon…


              Categories: Plans


              Philippa K · May 3, 2018 at 1:08 am

              Hi Tom! Please don’t let the unsuccessful kickstarter dampen your spirits for your game’s development – it looks really awesome and has so much potential! I can’t wait to see the development journey you’re going to undertake.

              You only fail if you give up trying!

                Tom · May 3, 2018 at 10:22 am

                Thank you, Philippa! It was a little disheartening to not make it, but your encouragement really helps and I appreciate that you took the time to write. 🙂 It’s nice, even kind of soothing, to get back to development after so much time focusing on Kickstarter – and I hope to have lots of progress to show soon.

              Kecman · May 12, 2018 at 1:51 pm

              Hey Tom, I’ve bumped upon Ecosystem looking for ecology-themed games to get inspirations for my own game. My idea is focused more on global planetary levels (strategy type), but what I’ve seen from the video, it is amazing what you started here! Hats down!
              I’m a self-funded game dev and I understand how difficult it is to fail to get support, but keep it up! The potential is there, just keep the current flowing! 😉

                Tom · May 14, 2018 at 9:56 am

                Thank you! I’m glad you liked it, and posts like this really help to keep the spirits up. I will keep fighting on, and I hope you do too: a strategy game based on global planetary ecology is a great and really original idea. Do you have a website or blog? I’d love to check it out.

              Thiago · May 12, 2018 at 8:46 pm

              Can creatures develop symbiotic relationships with each other? and how are there born? by eggs? also, if eggs are a thing, can creatures have nesting behavior, like going to shallow waters, taking care of their young or just leaving them alone?

                Tom · May 14, 2018 at 10:27 am

                Hi Thiago! Right now, creatures are born in an abstracted version of real mating behavior where creatures are ‘scored’ during their lives and every so often low-scoring creatures die off and stronger ones genes are mixed. As development progresses, I intend to move to something that more closely resembles how nature actually works, where individuals actually mate with each other, lay eggs, and age.

                I think that different nesting behaviors like the ones you mentioned should be possible; there’s a section in the AI blog post that talks about how the creatures have both a higher-level behavior tree and lower-level nerve cluster ‘brain’, and the behavior tree brain was added to make adaptions like that easier to evolve.

                I can’t promise it because I haven’t implemented it yet and it is possible that it will turn out to be difficult to implement (or just that it isn’t something that arises naturally within the time frame and processor resource limitations that a game needs to work in) but it is definitely something I intend to try. It’s similar for symbiotic relationships – I think behaviors like that would add a lot to the game so I would like to support them, but it may be tricky because I would somewhat expect that the benefits of symbiosis may not be quite as immediate and powerful as that of different birth strategies. Sorry that this turned into a bit of an essay, but it was a great question!

              Gaz · May 26, 2018 at 2:54 pm

              I wouldn’t worry too much about failing your KS and drumming up interest initially. KS has an extremely bad reputation when it comes to delivering digital content and rightly so in my opinion. It puts a lot of people off. I can recall at least one game I backed, that was advertised by Rock Paper Shotgun no less, and has still yet to deliver, almost 5 years later. I’m not the only one to be burned by this either, there’s countless others. Concentrate on making the game fun, innovative and get something out to the press once it’s in state ready for them and, luck willing, word will spread. I think the game looks excellent and it has great potential to work as an educational tool. Keep on trucking and you’ll get there.

                Tom · May 26, 2018 at 9:54 pm

                Thank you, Gaz. That does make me feel better. Sorry to hear you got burned by Kickstarter. I did one back in 2013 for a small tactics game and it was a really nice experience, so it’s a shame that the well got poisoned.

                I will keep trucking. I agree that having something that people can play will make a big difference and, in fact, it’s really nice to get back to focusing on the game itself after spending so much Kickstarter time on emails and press. I appreciate the encouragement and support.

              Maury · June 3, 2018 at 7:22 am

              Please don’t give up; I just spent an hour searching for news on your game (couldn’t remember the name) and finally found it based on the Generations image. Your game looks very interesting and it’d be fun to see how thousands of players evolve their ecosystems.

                Tom · June 6, 2018 at 12:55 pm

                I’m really glad you were able to find it again! Thank you for the effort you had to put into doing so, and for the encouragement – I will keep on going. I’m looking forward to seeing how thousands of different ecosystems play out as well. The first thing I focused on for development was to try to get the game to produce the amount of variability you see in nature, so I think it really should work out like everyone has an alien world that they’re in charge of.

              dalton · March 26, 2019 at 11:30 pm

              this is amazing it blows my mind I have never seen anything like this. pls send me every update and I have a question is this currently available to download. pls don’t ever stop working on it. this is a master peice

                Tom · March 27, 2019 at 9:19 pm

                I think this post accidentally got flagged by the spam detector (probably just because you hadn’t posted before) and needed me to approve it manually. Sorry for any confusion – I replied to your other, later post!

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