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  • Lightfield: Lessons Learned And Questions Raised

    [08.28.18]
    - Simon Wallner

  • Questions Arising

    Now to the tricky part. Questions where we don't have the answers to yet. Raising more questions might not seem very fruitful, but it is very important for us because knowing what you don't know and being able to formulate a question are very important first steps along the way.

    Online Multiplayer, is it Really Needed?

    When we started with Lightfield, we wanted to skip online multiplayer all together and focus on single player and local multiplayer. The more we spoke with other people, especially also platform holders, the more we heard about player retention and how important it is to have online multiplayer. In an idealised way, it provides players with an infinite amount of content and replayability, so everybody likes it.

    Reviews usually always mention the online multiplayer feature, or lack thereof, but I also suspect that most reviewers don't actually try these modes. Not because they don't care but due to the practical fact that there usually is no one to play against pre release (unless you organise time slots). Even post release, for smaller indie titles like ours the question is also, will there be enough players available for online multiplayer at one time?

    So the question for us is, is online multiplayer really needed for Lightfield. Could we have spent the development time somewhere else, or would everybody criticise us for not having it? Would we have made a release date before summer and how much would that have changed?

    Effects on our Launch Performance

    One of the biggest questions for us is to better understand the things that affected our launch performance. I am sure that it is not one singular factor, but rather a complex combination of many. Here's a selection that might have been relevant:

    Being a new studio, nobody knew us when we started. At launch we had a couple hundred followers on twitter, but it always felt that we were confined to this small bubble, struggling to reach beyond it. Not having a known name also makes it harder to rise above the noise both with press and players.

    We launched very late in Q3, a time most people deem already too close to the holiday season and all the big game releases. Would a Q1 release have been much different?

    At launch the game was priced at 19.99 USD/EUR but we are now dropping to 14.99 for the HYPER Edition. Would press and player expectations have been different if we launched at at that lower price?

    The time and budget we had for launch PR was limited. We worked together with Thomas Reisenegger but still reaching players and being heard proved very hard. Would more internal PR resources have helped the launch?

    Right at launch we received a lackluster review from a larger site. Did this impact some of the other reviews, setting a collectively agreed bar for the game? To what extent are reviewers primed when seeing other review scores before starting their own review?

    The Good Bits

    Lessons learned tend to be rather negative sounding most of the time. I'd thus like to briefly touch on a few things that went well:

    We took a game from concept all the way through production and publishing, and with all the additions in the HYPER Edition, we are really proud of it. We survived as a team, and even though stressful at times, we still speak to each other and are still friends. We even kept working on it post release, to prove the point that we can also sustain it post release and also to continually expand and improve it, but more importantly, to turn it into the game that lives up to our own expectations and that we can be really proud of.

    Next

    With the HYPER Edition we tried to use all those lessons learned and turn them into something beautiful. On July 31, 2018 an new chapter begins and I am sure we will learn a few more lessons.

    Find the game on Steam!

    Feel free to reach out to us in the comments below of in the social network of your choice!

    All the best from Lost in the Garden!
    Raimund, Julia, Matthias, Simon

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