You may have noticed a recent drought of content for this blog. There’s a number of reasons for that, but the most pressing is that no one is paying us to do this, so we do it whenever we feel like.
So, how do we get paid to work on Fledgeling? We could just take donations, but they don’t work well. Patronage is just regular donations, and this model hasn’t worked well for us either. At least, not so far.
The classic approach is to charge for copies of the software, but software is essentially free to copy, so what’s to stop someone from buying one copy and then giving it away for free? DRM can make a difference, but then we’re inconveniencing our paying customers, and the people who play the copies probably won’t be convinced to pay us by us adding poison to our games.
We could charge in advance for development (kickstarter) but we don’t know how long it will take, how much work it will be, or if it will even succeed. In that context, it seems misleading to ask for money, and even if we did, how much should we ask for?
It’s possible to release the software for free, but charge for content. Many large games do this with microtransactions, and DLC. Sometimes you even have to buy a copy of the game up-front as well! This doesn’t work for Fledgeling because it creates content all by itself! And content it can’t make on its own, users can make for themselves! Attacks on this angle lead back to DRM, which I don’t appreciate.
Can’t charge for the development, the software, the content, then what? How does one make money?
Well, what about selling support? This promotes poor design. Selling instruction? This promotes poor documentation. Both are reverse of good incentives. We want the game to be easy for anyone to use and fun to develop for.
My best guess so far is the Beauty pageant model, where Fledgeling and users make content, pay to submit it to a contest, and then we give awards for our favorite and the audience favorite, and maybe Fledgeling’s favorite as well? Why us? Because we’re the ones who made the software, and we know best why we made it and how it can be used. We’ll be able to provide advice on techniques, as well as advertising and legitimacy.
Incentivizes us to produce software that is well documented, easy to use, and produces interesting content, as well as encourage the community to use the tool.
Anyone can do this, so we’ll have competition. Will need to rely on our deep knowledge of the systems to inform our judgements on what the “best” scenarios are.
This basically means that we’ll be selling marketing and advertisements. Hopefully it will be for things that are actually worthwhile (and we can always choose our own mods I guess! Need to be careful to not do this too often.) but we run the risk of becoming shills.
If anyone has better suggestions, we’re always happy to hear them.
So, that’s the current best plan. I’m tentatively calling this modder-support company नीडϠ, which is pronounced “Needats” and is a combination of the greek numeral for the number 900 and what I thought was the Hindi word for “Nests” until checking Google Translate just now which tells me it doesn’t mean that at all… Anyway, the idea is that we’re trying to encourage lots of incubators in which Fledgeling can flourish. Instead of being the one source everyone has to go to, we want to give a signal boost to everyone who excels at using the tools we’re making.