What the hell happened?

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BasiliskWrangler
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What the hell happened?

Postby BasiliskWrangler » February 18th, 2014, 7:03 am

So, what the hell happened last Friday?
Friday (Feb 14th) we launched Eschalon: Book III early in the morning. The web traffic was already starting to affect our site even before the launch, but we went ahead and announced it anyway. While we waited on the game files to be mirrored on to other sites, we had put local copies up for the first customers to be able to get (big mistake).

The demand was too great. You animals began grabbing the files like they were the last bottles of water and the world was about to end. :) The traffic crushed our website.

We called GoDaddy and were given some very bad advice: we were told that in order to fix this problem, we needed to upgrade our hosting platform (they should have just reset our connection and let us take the files offline). We were told the switch would take a couple hours, and that it would be transparent. This was misinformation by the GoDaddy "sales and support" staff. Here's a helpful tip: anytime a company combines "sales" and "support", you are going to get horrible advice. We later found out migrations actually take 24-72 hours, and it wasn't transparent...we'd be down the entire time.

Worse, the GoDaddy first-tier support technicians did not know what they were doing. We were moved from our Linux server to a Windows server. This caused the migration to fail and have to be restarted. After the first move to the new Windows server, we needed to switch again back to Linux, which is another migration of 24-72 hours.

Did this downtime hurt the launch of Book 3?
Without a doubt, yes. We may never know the full extent of the damage. How many potential day-one "impulse buys" did we lose? How many potential customers saw the "just released" announcement on a gaming site but were put off by our broken website, never to return? I can say for sure that Book III's day-one direct sales where far less than Book II's. Is that because more people bought from Steam or GoG, or because of the website problems? Certainly it's a little bit of both, but the early numbers seem to suggest that our broken website significantly hurt us. Only time will tell if we can recover the sales that we lost.

What is Basilisk Games going to do now?
Unsure. We've talked about maybe trying a special "re-launch" celebration in the coming days. Updating Book III and releasing the tools would certainly help keep the "new game excitement" going a bit longer, which should entice curious gamers to take another look at our products.

It will likely take two or three months before we can get an accurate projection of Book 3 long-term sales, and to determine how bad the bungled launch hurt us.

How can I help?
As always, we rely on our fans for support. Tell others how much you like our games. Tweet it. Post it. Spread the word. Email your favorite game bundler and tell them you'd love to see the Eschalon trilogy in their next bundle.

What about Kickstarter for your next game, or a donation button?
Kickstarter is a great service for a lot of devs and startups to get their project off the ground, but it's not really our thing. If we take your money under the promise of a game and then fail to deliver, we ruin our reputation with our customers and within the industry. It's just not something we want to get in to.

We have been asked many, many times to put up a donation button to help fund the next game. This is a slightly better solution. In the past we've had many individuals buy multiple copies of the games to help support us (the record being one person who bought 93 Book II registration codes...thanks, stranger!) but then we have to share that money with our payment processor or distributor. It would be more efficient to just offer a donation button to anyone that wants to throw us a few dollars to help us with our next game- and so, there is now a Donate button on our front page. We can promise that the money gathered from donations will go directly towards the production of our next game. We will even try to let you know when we spend money from the donation account and what we bought with it.

Is that all you have to say?
Nope, one last thing: thank you to all our fans who supported us, who bought a copy of the game, and who were patient through this ordeal. Seriously, the only thing that kept us from curling up into the fetal position for 3 days were your awesome emails and messages. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
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Re: What the hell happened?

Postby raverdave2k » February 18th, 2014, 9:30 am

Certainly glad to see you back up and running, I've been a little lost over the last few days as I was looking forward to all the chat following the launch (although after three or four play throughs during testing I've actually been playing Book I and II for the last week instead :lol:)

GoDaddy's staff all need taking out back and shooting by the sound of it and I hope some decent compensation for your lost sales is forthcoming from them.

I certainly plan on picking up Book III through steam as well for an extra sale and will make regular use of the new donate button in the future.
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munster
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Re: What the hell happened?

Postby munster » February 18th, 2014, 10:48 am

Hurrah! You're up! You're back! Glad to see the site returned and I hope you at least get a ton of extra sales to make up for all this malarkey. :)
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Re: What the hell happened?

Postby realmzmaster » February 18th, 2014, 1:47 pm

Glad to see that you are back. I came to the website to purchase Book III, but notice the site was down. I did a quick search and found that Book III was available on GOG.com and Steam. I purchase the game from GOG.

Will Basilisk games be making physical copies of the game like for Book 1 and 2? It may sound strange but I like to see physical copies on my bookcase. Book III is excellent and more challenging (which is all good).
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Re: What the hell happened?

Postby SpottedShroom » February 18th, 2014, 1:52 pm

realmzmaster wrote:Will Basilisk games be making physical copies of the game like for Book 1 and 2? It may sound strange but I like to see physical copies on my bookcase. Book III is excellent and more challenging (which is all good).


BW has answered this previously, and unfortunately it wasn't in the plan last time he mentioned it.
Last edited by SpottedShroom on February 18th, 2014, 6:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What the hell happened?

Postby quasimodo » February 18th, 2014, 5:41 pm

I was feeling sorry for myself because I was going to miss the big EBIII release weekend because I was having visitors from out of town and would have no time for gaming. Then I happened to check the website and you were down even if I wanted to buy. Now my guests are gone, you are back in business and I have a nice shiny new copy of EBIII bought from your site and the world is a good place.
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Re: What the hell happened?

Postby RedTonic » February 20th, 2014, 9:08 am

I tried to get the word out there too--users on Steam and commenters on RPS were befuddled by the site being down. I'm usually not a big forum participant, but I really appreciate your games and hope others will, too.
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Re: What the hell happened?

Postby OfficerX » February 20th, 2014, 1:50 pm

Thanks for the sum-up about the latest events. I noticed some peculiar physical similarity between Godaddy's CEO and Gramuk. Besides, I once heard him make strange noises when thinking he was alone. Wouldn't that explain lots of things? I'm gonna post a video on Youtube about my theory (as soon as I complete all the chalenges of Book III).
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Re: What the hell happened?

Postby AK_Marty » February 21st, 2014, 2:21 am

When I couldn't get on your site, I bought Book III from GoG. I hope you still make some money from GoG sales.
Maybe on payday I'll buy one from your site just because!
Love the game by the way, quite a bit more challenging than the first two. Thanks for all your hard work BW!
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Re: What the hell happened?

Postby kelticpete » February 25th, 2014, 3:14 pm

I don't know how basilisk games feels about corporate information, but I personally am interested in

say a ballpark of

a) sales numbers for your 3 games.

b) how much your sales went up when you first went on steam

c) a ballpark of what you make from selling on steam if your disclosure contract with steam with allow it.
compared to say gog or sales from your site.

d) how are sales now?

since it is nice to give when you ask, I am going to go post a link to your sales page on FB. and twitter. cause I figure it is most cash for u.

edit:

actually I did two things:

one: posted this one twitter: Eschalon 3! (1st 2 also good) http://tinyurl.com/moc9n37 & on http://steam.com #rpg #retrogaming #videogames #gaming #geek #roleplayer

and posted this on every gamer friends FB page (about 12 people)

available on steam, gog.com and here. Eschalon 1 and 2 were sweet retro games. luvin 3 http://basiliskgames.com/eschalon-book-iii

I suggest others do the same.
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Re: What the hell happened?

Postby kelticpete » February 28th, 2014, 1:00 pm

so how much did it hurt business?
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Re: What the hell happened?

Postby Puhuk » March 3rd, 2014, 4:36 am

kelticpete wrote:(...) sales numbers (...) what you make from selling on steam (...) compared to say gog or sales from your site (...)

I've got to confess that I'm damn curious on this as well, though I think (and would understand) that these figures won't be exposed.

I wonder since the new Humble Bundle Store Widget seems to provide a (significantly ?) better cut on the revenue than Steam for example. Maybe worth investigating/applying to partly make up for the lost sales and a good step into getting Eschalon Book I/II into a future Humble Bundle as you always planned for.
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Re: What the hell happened?

Postby BasiliskWrangler » March 3rd, 2014, 8:24 am

Puhuk wrote:I've got to confess that I'm damn curious on this as well, though I think (and would understand) that these figures won't be exposed.

Basically what we saw is that our core group of fans still managed to buy the game that first weekend, but we likely missed out on hundreds (if not thousands) of sales from curious gamers that were trying to stop by our site to find more information about our new game. We have a number of reports that we used to draw this conclusion from.

One action we are taking to mitigate this damage is we are dropping the price of Book 3 to $14.99 this week. Normally the first price drop doesn't occur for 6-9 months, but we need this adjustment now to help draw back potential customers that have held off buying until they could get a better price on it.

I still don't know what the long-term effect of this will be. We will need to review the first 3 months of sales and compare those numbers to our estimated numbers, and against Book 1 and 2 sales, so that we can get an accurate forecast for the next 12 months.
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Re: What the hell happened?

Postby IJBall » March 5th, 2014, 11:45 am

In all seriousness, in thinking this over, there are probably some important lessons for Indie developers who don't host their own website to learn from this experience:

  1. It's best not release a new game on a Friday - if you're website goes down, it'll be the following Monday before people like your web-hosting service bother to get to it (as I guess some companies "don't work on the weekend..." :roll: ).

  2. It's best not to release a new game before a Holiday (see #1 - releasing a game on a Holiday weekend will just further slow down responses to any customer "issues"...).

  3. Have some kind of backup website. (I gather BG used Facebook (and Twitter) as their backup, but a number of us stay away from Facebook, so...) Even if it's a "barebones" backup site, at least you've got some web page where you can put up a simple message saying "Go here for purchases and downloads. Regular website will be restored in a few days..."
I think if I were an Indie developer, I'd target game releases for a Tuesday (preferably a Tuesday nowhere near a Holiday!!) - this avoids your web-hosting service from ignoring you on "busy Mondays, just back from the weekend...", but still maximizes the number of weekdays that your web-hosting service can devote to "technical issues".

Anyway, those were just some thoughts I had about this, when I was thinking about it during, and after, it happened. FWIW...
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Re: What the hell happened?

Postby Leyden » March 5th, 2014, 8:59 pm

I agree with Prismatic Maelstrom. An email to all those that have purchased Book I or II directly from your site might be a good idea. I receive emails from Spiderweb Software occasionally telling me of the release of a new game or a game in a new format. The emails come, as I said, “occasionally”, and therefore, I have never felt as if I am being bombarded with unsolicited emails.

BTW, my purchases of Spiderweb’s games are directly attributed to members of this forum. You see, Eschalon Book I was my first computer RPG game purchase. I found this site by searching for Mac Games. After downloading the demo, I was hooked. I fell in love with the story and had to know how it ended. I even made up back stories for my characters (as I know some of the people here have done) to complete their erased memories. (By the way, Crazy Bernie, if you are still around, I really enjoyed your fanfiction!) Although I have purchased Spiderweb’s games, I don’t lurk at their forum as I do here. Without these email notices, I would not have known about the release of Avadon 2 (which I have purchased but haven’t completed). BW, perhaps some of your former customers may be like me, and are unaware that Book III has been released.

BTW, I haven’t finished Book III yet – taking my time and exploring. I’ve actually started over twice with new characters so that I can prolong the story – knowing that when it ends – its over. No Book IV, but I’m looking forward to what comes next from Basilisk Games. :)

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