Tag Archives: beta

What’s so special about ‘The Last Door’ betas?

Don’t you hate when you buy a product and it turns to be nothing you were told it would be? I certainly do, that’s why I feel like I should explain in detail how the episode’s betas are in The Last Door for those of you who have not yet taken part in one.

Most people think of a “beta” version as a nearly finished product, where you should be open to experience some bugs here and there, but, overall, it will be very close to the final experience. This is not the case of The Last Door.

This game has always been all about creating a community. Since the very conception of the idea we knew that, in order to make an excellent game, we would need to assess the power of the collective creativity and imagination of the game’s players.

Letting you guys participate in the development has always been one of our main priorities. And The Last Door’s betas are possibly the most powerful way there is for you to leave your mark in the game.

A proposal open for changes

Our betas are not close to final gameplay. You have to think about it as a draft, for you to build upon. We reserve about 25% of the development time between beta and final, to be able to perform countless changes, based in your suggestions. Some will be shallow, details, but some other will be deep. Entire areas or characters could be cut or added during this process, and all will be done according to your feedback.

Blank descriptions for you to fill

Another thing we do in the beta is we leave ten to twelve objects in the game without description. Beta testers can then suggest a description during their playthrough using a simple form. The best descriptions will make it to the final version, and their authors will be featured in the final game’s credits!

Will playing the beta ruin the final game for me?

No, it will not. There are some measures we take to protect the final experience:

  • We make sure the beta gameplay is enjoyable by itself.
  • We avoid including any major spoilers in the beta: the opening and ending sequences won’t be present, and some important scenes will be cut out too. You will still have to play the final release to see what happens in this episode!
  • The overall gameplay of the final release usually feels very different from the beta version so it will be still thrilling to play through!

Most players enjoy playing both the beta and the final release:

  • You get to play two different versions of the game.
  • You get to discuss changes with us and other players.
  • You get to see those changes come together in the final version.
  • If you send us good feedback, you will get your name featured in the credits!

Sounds great, but does it work?

We’ve collected some feedback provided by players in the past about participating in the betas, hope this help get a better picture:

“I was kinda interested if you really put the changes community mentioned into your Final Version. Well..you did. And i think this fits just great. Everybody who played and finished the Beta knows what i mean and i as a player and a follower of your work (art) want to say thank you.” – Meatknife (forum post)

“I love how you guys altered the puzzles from the beta, and I really noticed how much you listened to your fans. This has truly been a fun adventure to be apart of with you guys and I would love to see this story reach the point to which it deserves.” – Jiveturkey (forum post)

“I too noticed how you took many of the forum comments and incorporated those changes into the game. I really liked the changes to some of the puzzles and surprises (you know which ones I’m talking about!) and the community input on some of the items (the teacups for example) really added an extra element of depth and imagination to everything.” – Mike1141 (forum post)

Saving ‘The Last Door’

Saving ‘The Last Door’

Hi, dear TLD fan:

I’m Mauricio García, director of The Game Kitchen, and one of the two programmers of this beloved indie game of ours.

Two months ago Daniel and the team were at the office when he suddenly shouted “This is shit!”. We knew he was facing a nasty bug, and honestly Daniel says things like that quite often. But after that we started to chat and we ended up agreeing that he was going to take a leave because the launching of “The Playwright” had left him exhausted.

Actually we were all very happy for the release of ‘The Playwright’ and loved reading your comments and feedback. But after some days after the release we had to face the fact that only 1% of the players that start playing The Last Door end up donating to keep it going. This is what is killing us. And trust me, Daniel’s case is not that special. At this point in The Last Door’s life everybody in the team have already faced a situation like this. We started to think…

Is crowdfunding the best for The Last Door?

You, players, have showed us countless times that you love The Last Door. So we may be doing something right, aren’t we? Then why it’s that we can’t cash our (low) salaries two months in a row?

We have some plans to save The Last Door to be the best it can be. And for that we plan on changing the crowdfunding model. If you are already a Premium member you don’t need to keep reading. It’s not affecting you, we already consider you the loyal fan you really are and you will keep all your current privileges. If you have donated occasionally, please keep reading to learn what you have to do.

We are here thanks to you

Thanks to everyone who has supported ‘The Last Door’ until now! From donating, talking about our game in social networks to sending us feedback to improve the game! Without you it’d have been impossible to reach 85K registered users in our website, and more than 2M plays in Flash free games platforms! ¡Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

If you already know us, you’ll know that our intention was always to make a game that could be enjoyed for the maximum amount of people. That’s why, we made up a business model that allowed us to keep financing the development of new chapters and at the same time, unlocking past chapters so anybody could enjoy them, regardless their purchasing power.

This business model has given us lots of satisfactions. It has enabled ‘The Last Door’ to secure a small but very proud spot in the recent indie videogames history.

The Last Door is kind of broken

Unfortunately though, our actual business model implies some serious issues that risk TLD’s continuity, being these two the most relevant ones:

  • Back when everything went as expected, and crowdfunding campaigns achieved their goals, that would only give us enough for terrible salaries. We were getting very low and unsustainable salaries although we were giving our best. Even worst, if crowdfunding doesn’t perform as expected, we end up missing a couple of paychecks here and there! In addition to that, we have to work under fiscal stance that aren’t designed to support small endeavors like ours, which translates that we have to pay really high direct taxes, regardless if there are enough money for ourselves or not.
  • Progressively longer conversion funnel: In ‘Online Marketing’ there’s this concept that portraits the steps a potential customer has to take to decide to ‘purchase’ the product or service offered. As a general rule, in order to have a good conversion ratio (amount of users that go from playing for free to end donating money) is desirable that the conversion funnel is as short as possible. In our case, each time we develop a new episode, the conversion funnel gets longer. That’s because the time the user is asked to decide if he wants to donate some money, is situated between the second-to-last and last chapter. The ultimate conclusion is that the percentage of users donating is reduced with each new episode we publish.

 

This is far from over

After carefully studying all options, we’ve took the decision to abandon our current business model, based in episodic crowdfunding. From now on, starting with the release of the sixth episode ‘My Dearest Visitor’, we’ll start to sell the game in a slightly more traditional way: episodes will be sold separately, or in season packs.

I know this could be shocking, but don’t panic! If you’ve donated before you’ll maintain all the privileges you had, no action on your part required:

  • If you unlocked an episode or the soundtrack, you’ll still continue to have access to that episode, its soundtrack and all the previous ones, with their soundtracks.
  • If you’re a Premium User, you’ll automatically be able to enjoy all the beta versions, final episodes, soundtracks and features of all the previous and future episodes.
  • ‘Hall Of Fame’ users will continue to be featured in the Hall Of Fame, as planned.

The new pricing plans will be applied simultaneously to the release of the new episode of the second season: ‘My Dearest Visitor’, next April 6th .

Take advantage of the situation before it ends

We want to offer all of you the best and smoothest transition to the new pricing plans. That’s why, as of today, coinciding with the immediate availability of ‘My Dearest Visitor’ beta version, you’ll find a ‘Special Offer’ page in the website.

We’ve carefully designed these three options to accommodate all of your needs:

  • For those who haven’t donated yet, and want to keep all the past episodes: A donation of 2€ will instantly unlock ‘The Playwright’ and it’ll give full access to all previous episodes.
  • For those who want to be a part of the story, now: A donation of 5€ will unlock the beta and final versions of ‘My Dearest Visitor’, it’s soundtrack, plus granted access for live to all previous episodes and their soundtracks.
  • For those who want it all: The ‘Premium’ subscription will be disappearing with the new price plans. You’ll have until April 6th to become a Premium community member, after that only Premiums will be the ones to enjoy a complete lifetime pass to everything ‘The Last Door’. So, if that is what you want, don’t miss this last chance to unlock everything, for ever, for just 10€.

We hope these changes bring us the stability we need to keep developing The Last Door with the attention and caring it deserves. As we usually do, we’re open to your suggestions. There’s still time to detail all of the changes, so once more, we count on you to let us know what you think about them in the comment section.

Thank you very much  for your understanding.

Mauricio Garcia,
in behalf of the entire The Game Kitchen’s team.

EDIT: Some of you have kindly asked for a way to send us a donation. You guys are awesome! If you want to contribute a few bucks to help the game stay alive, use this button: