Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven was released at the end of October, 2016, and my prediction for releasing Part 2 was summer of 2017. My early plan was to finish 150,000 words of content by August and release the downloadable chapters in September. As July drew to a close, I increased my projection to finishing in October for a November release. My new (and hopefully final) estimate is to finish Part 2 by mid-November and see it live conservatively by the end of the year for under $3.
If you came here to find out when Part 2 is releasing, now you know. If you want to know why, read on.
I work a regular full-time job at a university in Philadelphia. Writing does not pay the bills yet! Outside of work, I try to write, code, and edit 15-20 hours per week, not including time to answer reader emails, handle social meeting accounts related to my writing, and work with my testers. That’s as much time as I can devote to making games.
Why not hire a team?
I get this question a lot, and the answer is I’m working on it. As with any project, finding talented and committed people is no easy task. Managing people takes my own time and effort, and they need to be compensated. As one person trying to do it all, these things take away from actually writing the game. Plus, if I pay people to write and code my games, it is a huge investment that may not pay off.
Working on Part 2
My original plan for Part 2 was to write chapters 5-7, each around 40,000 words with an additional 20-30,000 words of supportive code (e.g. inventory management, fighting scripts, etc.). Already, the new content is 190,000 words, and I still have more story to tell. With all of the skills, challenges, characters, and romances available, I need to cover a lot of territory. My goal is to make a dynamic game with impact for every choice, and to do that takes a lot of writing, editing, and testing. Luckily, I have a great set of testers who scour my files for errors and make suggestions on how to improve the game.
Why are you so bad at estimating?
I admit—I am terrible at guessing how long it takes to produce choice games, but I am worse at overextending myself. When I write, I constantly come up with new ideas for the game, new features, new characters, and new scenarios to test my readers. All of these additions take time and effort, and I can’t seem to say no to any of them. If a reader asks me to implement training of other characters, I work it in. If a tester suggests a new option to a working mission that generates a new path, chances are I’ll do it. As a game developer, I am not telling my story—I’m telling yours. My job is to give you the ability to create a character you want and live out a fantasy adventure the way you see it happening. To fulfill this goal, I have to be receptive enough and flexible enough to listen to feedback and make a game worthy of your time.
With all of that said, I am aiming for mid-November for final versions of chapters 5-7. I then turn over the files to the team at Hosted Games, my publisher. A copyeditor proofreads all of it, all 220,000 words. A developer at Hosted Games then adds code to tie together my files and make it work in the app. After all of those steps are taken the various app stores and Steam take time to review and release it.
And then on to Part 3.
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