Monthly ADS news for July!
Hello, this news update will be different than I had anticipated. I will follow with a more detailed one in June about my plans to address some of the communication issues and a break down of how Echoes will work (this update will also go straight to backers since it will contain vitally important information).
I will be as straightforward as I can.
TTEOTS IOS release
It's very frustrating, but the iOS release of Chapter 04 was rejected. There was one big bug with Four's POV and Apple is requiring some additional menu functionality. It's something the programmer is working on. When I have the fixes, I'll make sure to submit immediately. When it's approved, it will release immediately for premium and updates will be posted to social media a little after. For releases, they will always be updated on social media within 24 hours.
Mystic Destinies: Echoes
Sometimes, we used to joke and called this a cursed game because there were so many delays. I told everyone that it was my hope that I could get it out this April and May, but that won't be possible. Many people seem to take the dates I share I'm aiming for as a guarantee, and become disappointed when I miss my mark.
That's understandable, so as of now I have decided not to give anymore future release dates for Mystic Destinies: Echoes until it is completed. I'll still have my internal dates, but I don't want to confuse people or over promise by accident any longer. I understand people are already angry about the delays, and this will probably make people angrier, but there are also those that have asked that I not give dates if I can't guarantee them. I used to give specific dates, and then I went to seasons as a compromise, but now I think I'll give this method a try for Echoes.
I can only do what I can do, and even I have to accept that I am human.
When I made the promises I initially did, we had three other people, and a very different company altogether. With me remaining now, as just one person, I am working hard to meet the promises that were made with a much bigger staff. But obviously, it will take much longer. The facts remain the same: development on the game took too long, there were too many delays, and what was left afterwards, I couldn't use most of. I can't change the past, or how people feel, but I can change the future.
Some take me stating the facts to mean that I'm looking for sympathy or trying to play the victim. I have no need for either. The facts are simply the reasons behind why things happened, and why it's taking so long to correct them. Put succinctly, we messed up, most of the staff had left at some point for various reasons, and I'm the only one here left trying to fulfill the promises.
Putting pressure on me, repetitively asking questions, won't get the game out faster, or change our past mistakes. It does, however, make me stronger so I do thank those who want me to fail for giving me an opportunity to grow and improve. It takes pressure makes a diamond, and I'm sure any future releases won't be plagued by these problems.
However, at this point I've got to be straightforward and simply say once again: 1) Mystic Destinies: Echoes will release whenever I'm finished with the game. 2) Then I will address backer rewards and any remaining questions.
It's taking forever, but I've made up my mind to finish it, regardless of how impatient people feel. So far, since working alone, I've managed to release an Echoes demo, and to release the delayed release of TTEOTS from last September, so next on my check list is completing Echoes.
I've had some personal difficulties with life lately. Health, someone precious to me falling ill, unexpected things happening with and to other people I work with that caused further delays no one could help. I understand now that life is chaotic, and it's best to just work around it.
I want to model a healthy artist work-life balance while fulfilling the obligations ADS made in the past. I realized that I can't make up for two years of development in a few months, so I'm just resolving to work well until it's done. Whether the people who are interested in Echoes wait patiently, or vent in anger everyday at me for the situations that have occured in the past, or yell at me for the situations they assume are occurring while I'm quietly working is up to them.
Your choice is valid for you. I have no right to tell anyone how to live.
I don't have time to engage with people extensively right now, and if people desire, they may view that as ignoring or running away.
It's not. It's an active choice to put my energy elsewhere, towards fulfilling my obligations, in the order I said I would. If I have a little bit of time, I do try to reply where I can to some of you, but in some cases questions may be going unanswered for months. I think that's unacceptable, but there's nothing I can do about it until Echoes is out of the way. And as I've said, I'm making big changes to make sure this kind of situation doesn't happen again in the future.
But I understand the narrative people make in their head becomes their reality. For some people, anything I say that doesn't fit that narrative will be invalid for them, otherwise it would create cognitive dissonance. They even go so far as to make assumptions and jump to conclusions to fill any gaps. Psychology has always been a big interest of mine, and I try to always understand others, so I try to understand even those who criticize me.
I think that understanding is a huge requirement towards loving others, and in my stories I try to help demonstrate many situations where people are misunderstood, or things are not as they seem, so that people may come to understand others better. And so, I have come to understand that some people will never be able to see my words, understand them and believe them in the way I intend. Their truth is one they will defend with their whole being.
I accept that. And I prefer indisputable actions to words, myself. But I digress.
I will continue to communicate updates here, nonetheless, though, and major, tangible updates relating to Echoes itself will be posted in the relevant campaigns. (Some people have shared they really hate getting updates that are just “the game is still delayed”, so I try to be considerate of their inbox and only provide new and relevant information).
I'm not asking for patience, sympathy, or understanding, or for people not to yell at me, or complain or judge me or criticize me. I am surely not perfect, and I won't live up to any perfect image anyone had of me or my work in their mind. Only you can decide how you want to live your life everyday. I prefer to live with love rather than hate.
I just wanted to communicate clearly what the situation regarding my work is right now, and share a bit of how I think. I'll continue working regardless of the circumstances, or how long it takes, and I'll be sending another update in June.
Wishing you understanding, love and light,
To the Edge of the Sky Chapter 04 & Through His Eyes: Four Released for Premium and Free on Android and Itch.io!
Known Bugs (5/16/19)
Android: If you begin a new game, it uses Evren no matter what name you put in.
Through His Eyes: Four isn’t available for purchase on Itch.io yet.
We are in the process of fixing these. If you find any bugs, please let us know on the TTEOTS Discord server in the bugs section. We should have a patch within 12-24 hours.
iOS Premium will be released following Apple review
iOS Free will be released following that.
In the future, iOS Premium and Free will come out alongside the other versions.
Download Premium versions below
Premium Update Notes
Chapter 04 content has been added. Please access this from your save, not the Mission Select screen in order to load all your previous choices, as they will affect your options.
Four's POV Story, Through His Eyes is now available for purchase. It is available at a 50% discount for Premium players at $0.99 and can be accessed through the new Extra Stories menu.
Operative Three's new character model has been added; only Five is left to go!
Mission Select mode now allows you to replay through your favorite missions!
Other UI tweaks here and there.
NOTE: If you are a Itch.io Premium player and can’t get the update to show up on your side for any reason, please check out this thread.
Free Update Notes:
Chapter 04 free content has been added.
Chapter 03 premium content is available for individual purchase
Four's POV Story, Through His Eyes is now available for purchase. It is available at a 50% discount for Premium players.
Operative Three's new character model has been added; only Five is left to go!
Mission Select mode now allows you to replay through your favorite missions!
Other UI tweaks here and there.
The prices on individual premium chapters access were raised to be in line with Premium’s price and Extra Story prices.
Developer’s Notes on Chapter 04
Update (5/15/2019): I wanted to clarify my reasoning on why Extra Stories cost $0.99 on Premium. When I originally offered Premium, TTEOTS was a tribute game that had a very different development model. It wasn't going to continue on originally past one season, and wasn’t going to have any extra side content.
After the game became fully its own, I wanted to start exploring the world more and show other perspectives. I had planned to keep this free for premium players, but during the budgetary hiatus, I realized that the best option to be able to continue development was to charge a small amount in order to financially justify the time investment and costs.
Basically, this is extra DLC that wasn’t planned or announced at the time we priced Premium and is not essential to enjoying the main story. The originally planned season 01 content will continue to remain fully accessible for Premium players.
Original: This chapter was originally created back in September 2018. I wasn’t able to release it until now, so it feels nice to finally have it out. After the intensity of chapter 03, I decided to slow things down a little. This chapter is pretty dialogue and relationship heavy, and you finally get to learn more about PHASe, some backstory, and have a good talk with Phantom Alpha’s leader. But be warned if you are a Premium player: the choices you make during this chapter are very important in some areas and will affect the rest of the season. Be careful who you choose.
All that said, I’m still working out how precisely I want to do romance and friendship paths, and what I want to be available to free players. So far, it looks like Six’s path will be available by default. By the end of season 01, the game will likely get a large update that helps tie everything together nicely. This update would likely break game saves, but would allow players to play through from the full season freshly without having to worry about the many changes we’ve had to do again. But for now, just play responsibly!
Writer’s Notes on Through His Eyes: Four
This was the last work of our former teammate, Egle Dilyte, for ADS. I really enjoyed choosing music for the POV because Four himself has a different vibe than the main storyline music usually demands for. Overall, the POV itself is intensely emotional, yet rough - just like Four, and I hope you’ll enjoy it.
Four’s POV covers all of the important Chapter 03 scenes from Four’s POV, ending at the emotional rooftop scene. You can purchase it as a single in-app purchase on Android and Apple in the free version for $1.99, or if you have the season pass for Premium ($9.99) on any device, it’s available at a 50% off discounted rate of $0.99.
The premium decision was made in order to cover costs of being able to offer these initially unplanned special stories. Chapter 01 - 07 choices, scenes, CGs and all associated other perks will still stay the same.
It’s important to note that the characters in POVs will act as if you took their route/path at every available opportunity, as well as assume a romance path in order to show the most content to fans. I can’t wait to share more of these Chapter Season 01 POVs with you guys, and I already know who’s next…
To the Edge of the Sky has been re-rated on Google Play to be Mature 17+. It now more accurately reflects the current and planned content in the game. Unfortunately, this caused it to become unavailable in South Korea for now.
Please note, that as this game is no longer a tribute game, and I want to cover real world themes that are often present in our own pasts and daily lives, there may be triggering content. If you are a person who can be triggered by violence, drugs, alcohol or sexual themes, I would suggest passing TTEOTS up.
I always do my best to keep things mild and generally only include text references, but everyone has their own limits that they hopefully know and are aware of. Besides that, it’s always nice to have a heads up that there may be some dark content ahead so everyone can prepare themselves. I’d like to try something lighter in the future, but I wanted to give a heads up that TTEOTS is not that game.
What’s Next for TTEOTS?
A few things to note:
Season 01 is considered Chapters 01 - 07.
Premium is for unlocking Chapter 01 - 07 additional scenes, choices and CGs, and will include special stories. It also includes early access unlocks during active development. For Season 02’s Premium access pass, you would need to pay again if you want access to that when that time comes - but by that point I plan to be offering a new pricing model on games (more about that in my future posts). For now, however, please enjoy the additional options, CGs and stories available with your Season 01 pass! You will not lose this access.
You will be able to develop a bond with one of your Phantom Alpha team members. The choices in the game are already set up to conduct that, but the system won’t be completely finalized until the end of Season 01. I am still working on it, but I know already that I want there to be a choice for a friendship and romance path. Currently, the free version is looking like it will only have one choice. The choice will allow free players to see into both paths as well, but Premium players will be able to choose from the full cast.
Please look forward to future news and updates, as I’m always working to improve myself as a developer and have a lot in the works I want to share soon.
~Ajané J.K. Celestin
End of Budgetary Hiatus?! There are some big changes going on this month! I am expecting the end of the budgetary hiatus this month, which means we’re looking at two big releases upcoming: what I am currently calling Mystic Destinies: Echoes: Part 1, for Kickstarter backers, and To the Edge of the Sky: Chapter 04, and Four’s POV story for everyone…
Hello, as I said in my previous blogs, we’re going to be moving forward with restructuring the company, and I wanted to continue to share my plans on that for those who are interested in the nitty-gritty details of how ADS runs.
But first, I’ve seen some confusion lately: ADS is NOT an entire company of all the people and staff that are listed in the credits. For a moment, after Egle left, it was literally just me creatively, before Jackie decided to “rejoin” on a larger capacity. The artists and other names you see listed in credits are freelancers working under my direction.
So they aren’t associated with us as a company, but are independent professionals in their own right that we (the current core members of myself and Jackie) are blessed to work with, but aren’t part of my discussions about the company. We have never had more than three core members at a time. That is who I am referring to when I say “we”, past or present. Hopefully this list will help clarify who has worked on what up till now. I don’t currently have a freelancer list of works with us prepared, but intend to eventually.
Anyway, with all of the experience I have gained, I’m now applying it when deciding the direction of the company. Luckily, Jackie and I now work together physically as well, so that has already helped. I wrote this for myself, but decided to share it to clarify the direction we’re headed in.
My goals for the company are to:
- Reduce likelihood of delays. I am not foolish enough to think there will never be a delay again, when even major games multi-million dollar games are routinely delayed. Life happens to all of us, and with a small team, life happening means delays since there’s no one to replace each other. But I know we can drastically reduce the amount with the improvement of our internal workflow practices and how the work is distributed internally.
Already, as Jackie is now physically with me full time, I can see that things have improved and benefitted in ways creatively and workflow-wise that we didn’t predict. We can and will also improve by extending development timelines so we have more time to work. This means more infrequent releases going forward, but more reliable ones.
- Improve communication between fans/customers and “the company”. There are messages I simply don’t have time to look at, as with my amount of roles, my work time has to be focused on creating or directing. I’ve largely cut social media out of my life to focus on positivity and creating…Just sharing my thoughts on social media can cause anxiety. So this task is at times, incredibly stressful and negative to our mental and ultimately, our physical health. It has always been the task that drained the people that worked with us the most, including myself.
But I recognize the need for it to be consistent and reliable if we are to be a company we can be proud of. Besides that, I personally feel terrible when people can’t get the help they need because I can’t even see it, or I miss genuine and kind fan messages. This isn’t up to my personal standards, yet I’m already at the limits of how much I can do. That is why I’ve decided to outsource to third parties who aren’t involved in the creative process.
- Begin beta testing our games. Testing takes a great deal of development time. Every release must be tested over and over and over by myself and the lead programmer I work with. Bugs are difficult to catch across thousands of devices, not to mention various platforms too.
I would like to build a reliable and trustworthy beta team for games that can thoroughly test for bugs/typos and help cut down on development time and raise quality across releases. In the past, we simply didn’t have the development time to meet our deadlines and still have time to beta test, but that’s all changing. I will be looking to build the team in the coming months.
- Release all delayed crowdfunding rewards. Another thing that isn’t up to my standards, is that we have been unable to ship all of the physical rewards yet. This is partially a temporary budgetary issue, and partially a lack of administrative manpower. If it comes down to it, I will personally do it myself along with Jackie, but I am still searching for a good solution to how we can best release these and catch up on our commitments.
Like many crowdfunding start-ups, we underestimated the manpower required to actually distribute rewards. It is for this reason, that I currently do not plan to do any crowdfunding again, even if it means we have to take a break from making games to accumulate revenue to develop. We will focus on other paths, like novels at those times.
- Release everything we’ve promised thus far. This is actually the easy and fun part for us. Ultimately, we are creators and enjoy creating. That’s why we keep at it. Most of the work and framework for any pending releases is already done, but we need to get the budget for actually releasing it. It hangs over our head everyday, thinking about the fans who have been waiting so long that trusted us. We want to see everything released, too. And it’s not up to our personal standards or vision for the delays to have happened the way they have. That’s why we’re spending 2019 without creating any new projects.
Solutions I came up with:
Improve internal workflow structure/practices and communication to speed up our creative work and smooth out the kinks. Extend development time to allow for life to happen.
Customer support and possibly majority of social media will be handled by a third party freelancer or service outside of the company, as soon as we are off hiatus.
Begin beta testing group to improve game release quality.
Continue fulfillment of crowdfunding rewards. Avoid crowdfunding campaigns in the future as part of our business model.
Work on completing existing projects. 2019 will not have any new ones for ADS. Possibly not 2020 either. We need to play catch-up, but we also need to maintain a healthy pace for us.
I’ll continue to serve as the creative core as I teach Jackie more about game development and we write together. Here are the latest roles and openings I plan to fill after our budgetary hiatus. All will freelance and hourly/as needed.
Social Media Coordinator
At the moment, there is no one filling these roles, which is part of why we are on hiatus. So, these are my internal plans for this year. Jackie and I decided that we personally are best at being ourselves. We'’ll continue to be honest and direct in our personal communications with others, treating people not as customers (that’s what the customer support rep will be for), but as human beings.
Honestly, the capitalist attitude between companies and customers is just something that suits neither of us, and I don’t think we can do that comfortably. We believe in being polite, but honest with people. Whatever people think about us, or our past as a company, the two of us have decided to continue to work to fulfill our obligations, however long it takes, and continue to share our creations with the world, simply out of the passion of creating art.