All questions answered.

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  • Many Kickstarter projects are destined to fail. It's simply a lesson that needs to be learned, and a test for Kickstarter. Too many people still see it as them preordering a game. The pledgers need to learn that they're taking a risk, and the developers need to learn to be more honest and realistic about what they can deliver with a limited Kickstarter budget.

  • The problem with KS is that it's entirely one sided in favour of the project maker. There is zero accountability, oversight, or legal consequences. The dev has no obligation to be communicative or honest. Even the people that give to projects that get funded and have their secretive backer-only updates only know the PR they are being spoonfed by the developer. Other services like Amazon and Ebay at least offer protection and guaranteed refunds, but this all comes back to KS being a donation and not a purchase. On KS you can't even withdraw your donation in the last 48 hours (even though you technically haven't been billed yet) or if the project has been funded before the deadline. KS is also starting to go the way of the mobile market in that it's a new market being flooded with crap games and a lot of core gamers are reluctant to go anywhere near it because of that.

    Part of the reason KS has been successful in bringing in funds is because with the shape the industry is in now there is a lot of negative press against publishers. Devs like to paint the publisher as the evil boogeyman stifling their vision and cutting up their game. While the publisher/developer system certainly has its problems, historically publishers have not been all bad because they let small studios like Quintet and WARP find an audience and success with their games. But today whenever something goes wrong with a game, the dev points the finger at the publisher and the publisher points the finger at the dev. The blame goes both ways but most people fail to see that and like to blame the big bad publisher because they make an easy target. Ironically KS has shown that most devs have zero business sense without a publisher to hold their hand, crack the whip and keep them in line.

    KS may be a good idea on paper but it has been frequently abused and its image is tarnished because of that. The service also tends to attract some of the worst types of gamers, the indie hipsters. They let themselves get walked all over and treat the devs like they are infallible gods because it makes them feel good about themselves for supporting the underdog. Then when some fiasco happens they make excuses for the dev and pretend you can't hold them to any actual standard simply because the game was being developed on a budget. Then anyone who happens to question or criticize the project is suddenly "not a real fan" and "a troll" and should leave. With no oversight or power over their heads on KS, the service brings in all kinds of enablers. The other part of this system of enablers is that anyone who asks hard and serious questions during a KS campaign is attacked by the dev and their digital lynch mobs when it is the dev's responsibility to answer questions, especially when they are begging for money from the public. A publisher certainly wouldn't put up with that kind of behaviour, yet devs on KS think they are entitled to treat their fans like garbage. When you make a donation on KS everything is stacked against you, the backer. I am sick of seeing all these posts on failed projects about how "oh it's only $100". If I donate to a project it's certainly $100 I could be spending on something else. Yes everything on KS is a risk and a donation, but it doesn't excuse all the unethical behaviour that comes out of there. This is a problem that KS has created entirely by themselves, when you let people run free this kind of stuff is guaranteed to happen.

  • It's really a phase Kickstarter has to go through. This is uncharted territory for everyone, both the backers, the project makers and Kickstarter themselves. I don't think anyone can really predict where Kickstarter is heading and how much of an alternative it'll become for the publisher model.

  • I disagree. If you are e-begging for money, especially on the scale that comes out of KS, you damn well better have everything figured out before hand. No publisher in their right mind would give money to a dev saying "oh we'll just figure everything out later, meanwhile give me hundreds of thousands of dollars to make this game on a temporary concept that I haven't actually decided on yet". Nor would any publisher fund a secretive dev that does not communicate and with no oversight. While other services like Amazon, Ebay and Paypal all get a cut from the transactions that go through them, none of them are anywhere near as much money as what passes through a single project on KS. KS simply wants that fancy 10% cut which is why they do everything in their power to protect the project makers and not the backers, because they do not value repeat customers and simply want that cut.

  • Just, because i have stumbled over something intresting.

    Would we be able to have something like this in the later game? :D


  • I assume that space will be a part of the game at some point, but I doubt a dolphin (even Ecco) could do very much out there. Since sound can not travel in space, sonar attacks would be useless. Perhaps a dolphin could survive in space with a special suit, maybe the absence of gravity wouldn't crush their organs. However I think the thought of dolphins in suits firing off energy beams is dumb. I was less than amused at the scene in DOTF when Ecco turned into some pterodactyl thing and started firing off energy blasts. Now another aquatic structure in space similar to The Tube or The Machine would be interesting. Or maybe even some sort of hybrid structure like what we saw in the dark Vortex future.

  • I love the idea of EVA suit giving the dolphin arms.   Why stop there, s/he should have legs too. 


    The Cyborg dolphin from the distant dark future was really a reference to a rubber dolphin we had in the studio that was decorated with circuitry and metal - Seeing the EVA spacesuit brings back old memories :) 

  • Thanks for that bit of trivia! :) I'll add it to the Ecco wiki.

    Is Cyborg Dolphin the 'official' name?

  • cyborg dolphins are always a good thing.  (I've got one in a game I'm making!).


    So, I have a question.  All speculation aside, what is the current status of Little Blue?  I've not seen/heard much in the way of updates.


    If they're out there and I've just missed them, I think that the word needs to be spread out better, then.


  • I always love a mixed bag in Ecco games. The traditional ocean scenery, with sharks, fish, jellyfish, eels, crabs, coral reefs, sand and rocks of course, sunken galleon ships, squids etc etc... and then the technological looking part with machinery, force fields, lasers, flashy computer displays, transporters, in space, cyberdolphins ;) and more of the high tech stuff. This kind of contrast of nature vs technology is always a cool thing in the games. DOTF did a very good job at that and it worked brilliantly. Even in the old 2D games it looked great for the time, 'welcome to the machine' and the dark vortex future with all the levitated platforms.

    So yes I hope Ed will give us more levitated water tubes, dolphin harnesses and all sorts of tech gizmos and dangers in that portion of the game. And I miss the good old Asterite though and Ed's vision on Atlantean tech.

    I can imagine Ecco swimming around in an ordinary looking ocean and that it turned to be a holographic prison on a vast ship in space for example populated by vortex or other sea creatures.

    Time travel paradoxes are also a great concept to add to the game, as previous Ecco games demonstrated. Ecco traveling through time meeting himself and preventing his own death for example. But if he died how can he come from the future? That sort of stuff always spices things up. More please. :)

    Music is crucial to create the proper atmosphere along with the gfx, it is half the game. 'Ecco - The Tides of Time' had the best music imo. It was dark, moody but wonderful.

    Ed got plenty of stuff to mess with in LB but of course certain stuff is tied to the cursed license. :(

  • Could be something very difficult to archive and when you have it, you can swim very very fast, and even fly with it. :D

    With legs, you could possible even go on land with it.

    To getting one, there could be some crashed ship in a very deep part of the sea and when you go into it, you have some machine level with difficult enemies.

    And yes, the time travel was always nice. Nice intresting areas. And Atlantis. :D

  • The mix of nature and technology in the Ecco games was nice, but I liked that it was gameplay-wise  built around the dolphins aquatic world. Ecco may have special powers but he's still just a dolphin, which is why the dark Vortex levels throw you off because he's out of his element and environment. I liked the concept of the Vortex as an aquatic, space faring race, that way the last few levels weren't shoe horned in because they were still aquatic in nature.

    Part of the appeal of Ecco for me was that it was from a dolphin's perspective. I assume that part of LB will be dolphins coming into contact with human technology, but you also don't want to humanize the dolphins. Since humans have been extinct for a million years, the dolphins will not know what to do with any of it. Maybe the dolphins could find ways to utilize, adapt, or modify the technology in ways that we as a terrestrial species wouldn't think of.

    Something I want to see in LB is a return to the 'horror' themes of Ecco. Even if it was unintentional, the Ecco games were downright spooky and unnerving at times because of the atmosphere. I want a return to that feeling of oppressive isolation and seemingly helplessness as the odds are against you. Nothing gives me that feeling more than when you first start out on your journey after Ecco's pod is kidnapped.

    Time travel would be nice, but since the game is set on there being no humans (which I like), you would have to visit other eras. Perhaps this time we could go to a different era and see cetaceans at one or more of the phases along their evolutionary process, like the Basilosaurus. I'm fascinated by the thought of the time when dinosaurs roamed the land and the Earth was covered in jungles. I was a bit disappointed we didn't get to see more dinosaurs in the prehistoric levels in Ecco, but the setting had an incredible atmosphere.


    On the subject of cyborg cetaceans, there is a (very loose) 1990s anime adaption of Moby Dick, called Hakugei Densetsu. It's set far in the future in a galactic setting where "whales" are sentient robot vessels that space pirates hunt for parts. In the anime Moby Dick is the biggest and most powerful of them all and Ahab and the crew spend the entire show trying to kill it. It's a bit of a weird show but you can find some episodes on Youtube if you're interested. :)


  • I totally agree on one thing: no humans! I hate what Sega did to Sonic by introducing humans and scenery of today's ordinary world. I hope Ed will not put any of them in his games. It would destroy his concept of a dolphin society with all the weird and wonderful quirks it offers. I did like the idea of leftover human tech from DOTF but it was ok because there wasn't a single human to be seen in the game so it didn't 'damage' the concept.

    I also like the spooky and anxious atmosphere in certain portions of Ecco games. The story, music and sometimes dark or apocalyptic scenery all contribute to creating the drama needed for such an atmosphere. The Tides of Time did a better job at that than the original. It enhanced the original in many ways. DOTF also did a great job at it. The chapters of the desolated world with human tech and where the cruel dolphins ruled were my favorites.

  • I doubt anyone really likes Sonic for the lore. Sure when I was a kid I watched the TV shows and read the comics, but the attraction was always the games, the first two were solid arcade style platformers. The biggest problem was that Sega let it drag on when it needed to be put to rest. They should have just let it die with 3 when the franchise hit rock bottom as a buggy, rushed mess.

  • I agree, that we shoudn't meet some humans. The ship itself could have some kind of automated defence system. Possible with robots and/or some genetic changed creatures/monsters/mutants. Something really creepy and crazy. Some time travel could be involved aswell. :D

  • Ed, did you have any involvement with the Japanese version of Ecco?

    In addition to some general tweaks and odd differences here and there, it seems the script is more fleshed out in the Japanese version. To be fair the Japanese version is a translation and came at a later date but the differences are interesting.

    For example, in the original English version the orca in the first stage says

    "I know not what has happened to your pod.
    Perhaps the Big Blue will help you
    You must travel past the undercaves to find him..."


    In the Japanese version the orca says:


    くじらの ビグ.ブルーなら

    "I also do not understand what has happened.

    I think Big Blue, the whale who lives in the sea of ice, may know something."


    It seems the Japanese version gives the player a little more information and is more direct, while the original script is more figurative. Part of this is the result of the natural linguistic differences between the two languages. Japanese loses much of its character when directly translated to English, so you can't really tell here that the orca sounds more confident in Japanese, while in the English version it sounds more mysterious. There is also the fact that you can fit much more Japanese text into a single line than you can with English, so maybe the coding differences let them flesh out the script a bit more. Anyway,the differences between the two versions are fascinating to examine.

  • Often stuff gets changed for a different market. Take StreetFighter for example. In Japan M. Bison is called Vega and Vega is called Balrog (iirc). Or the story of Streets of Rage 3 was totally altered for the western version. Also the brand name is different: Bare Knuckle instead of SoR. Most of the times it is pointless to change such stuff.

  • Have you thought of any ways to generate income from LB? I think your fans will want some way of supporting you to give you money to help make BB down the line. This is one of the challenges of the game being free. People will want to support you, but not through business practices they don't approve of like DLC and whatever else.

    The game being free isn't necessarily a bad thing from a business perspective. Maybe you could make a physical version of the game that people would buy for extras not available in the free downloadable version. The key is to make people want a physical version to spend their money on. Technically I can play most retro games for free through emulation, and for argument's sake, most modern games have fully playable pirated versions. In that sense most purchases of physical games can be considered a waste of money to a consumer who only cares about playing the game itself. Similar arguments could be made about comics, movies and music, however like games they still sell even if they are otherwise available for free, through legal means or not. Performance/hardware issues aside, there are other reasons why I buy physical games. Sometimes I like the artwork on the box or the physical extras that may come with the game. One of the biggest reasons why I buy physical games is because I know the vast majority of manuals have never been scanned or are a hassle to find and there is no other way to see the artwork. Physical manuals are also convenient to have because they're not obstructive during gameplay like digital in-game manuals.

    You wouldn't be able to get away with selling a bare bones physical version of LB for full price. But maybe you could make a physical special edition packed with extras, and that would be what people would mainly pay for in terms of whatever you choose to price it at. If you do go with KS, a physical special edition sold separately would be a way for you to make money off exclusive content, without tying it to people who give you a lot of money on KS. Maybe backers could get that exclusive content at a lower price than the people who might pay for a special edition post-release. A special edition would be a way for you to make money off your fans, as opposed to the people who just want to casually check out LB for free. Everyone wins that way. Your base game gets exposure by being free, the fans get their goodies, and you get to profit off LB.

  • It's still all hypothetical as long as Ed hasn't decided what business model he'll use to launch his game: online (like MMOs are), on disc, or DLC.

  • Is there anything new to share? The board has been dead for the past month.

  • I do not know if your intention is still to crowdfund or get the fans involved, but if it is I can make a detailed post on how to best avoid some serious problems in light of the fiasco that has been tearing apart the Mighty No. 9 KS community in recent days.

  • More dead than a zombie...

  • BrAiNs…...!
  • Speaking of brains, we surely like to know what is going on in yours Ed, regarding LB and Ecco. Nice to see you still check here.

  • The community could certainly be handled much better. Even our supervisor Art/Batboy rarely posts.

    Many people do not bother with official/corporate forums because they're meaningless - they're there just to make the fans feel good about themselves and act as free advertising, a soulless corporation does not care about what they have to say. That goes without saying that most official forums only exist to stroke a company's ego and more often than not dissenting opinion and valid criticism results in censorship, thread locks or bans. While we have been free to speak our mind here, if you are serious about wanting to work with the fans you have to show you can at least interact with people, as well as tolerate and respond to criticism. People reading the forums now are going to decide based on your behaviour if you are trustworthy and reliable enough to be given their money. With all the blunders to come out of KS in the time that has passed since BB's failed campaign, and the dismal and scattered state of the Ecco fanbase, you have a lot of work to do. The more you share and the more open you are, the more willing people will be to give you money. I understand that being vague or evading is a tactic to shield a company from future criticism so nobody can say "I told you so", but it will not help your case.

    We all like to mess around on the internet from time to time, but disappearing for months at a time and coming back just to make a zombie joke does not give off the image of good community management. I can not speak as to why others do not return to make subsequent posts on the board, but if you want to keep the community going you have to either share new content, or engage in active discussions with the community. The community is small right now, it's your chance to show you're serious and dedicated to it before things get busy. One of the things the Mighty No. 9 KS did wrong was that after they got their money, they just said the community wasn't their problem and handed it off to unprofessional amateurs and PR people, a massive bait & switch with what was advertised as a community oriented game.

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