The Molasses Flood found success on Kickstarter with their campaign (ending November 7) for The Flame in the Flood to the tune of $250,000. We covered their efforts in our article Kickstarter - Dead or Alive?, and decided to reach out to them again to learn how the project has progressed and what 2015 looks like.
"Overall we're really happy with the result," says Forrest Dowling, president and lead designer when asked about the Kickstarter campaign. "It's put us in a great position to go forward making the game we want to. It was a lot of work, but in hindsight it was still the right choice for us. It did eat up the entire month of development time, as we fielded issues and questions and focused on things like updates and interviews. The campaign went great for us, but it still feels like it can be a very risky undertaking. We saw a lot of other great projects fail to hit their goals or achieve a lot of traction, so even after a successful campaign I'd definitely not recommend Kickstarting for everyone."
The Flame in the Flood is a "rogue-lite river journey through the backwaters of a forgotten post-societal America" where survival is a central theme.
The Molasses Flood was founded by a group of developers from Boston that had either been part of Irrational Games or Harmonix Music Systems. When their Kickstarter campaign was still live we asked Forrest Dowling how the concept was first born:
"The concept came about organically as the team formed and we started prototyping and seeing what did and didn't work. Some of the high level decisions were that it was going to be about survival, and it was intended to look like the personal work of Scott Sinclair brought to life in game form. We knew early on that we wanted it to be a journey, and the idea of the river came shortly thereafter. Going down a river seemed immediately engrossing, and as we looked around, we couldn't find anything else that really demonstrated that. We thought it would be a fascinating gameplay and visual place to explore, so we dove into it. At also helped that Scott grew up on the water in the southern United States, so he instantly knew how to go about capturing the feel of that part of the world."
It's very easy to simply look at a successful Kickstarter campaign as a way to secure backer money, but the exposure a successful campaign brings can also carry with it other opportunities.
"We did a lot of homework ahead of time, so we had a good idea about what to expect," says Forrest Dowling. "The number of different sorts of offers for help and collaboration that came out of the woodwork was surprising. We've been contacted by tons of composers, voice actors, translators, marketers, and publishers all looking to work with us. The main effect outside of the funding and the fans seems to be the strong position the campaign has put us in. We're not in a position of great need now, so we can be very selective with any sort of external offer that comes along. Another really pleasing surprise was seeing so many awesome people that I respect backing the project and sharing it on social media. I don't want to share backer names, but it was extremely awesome seeing developers who I greatly respect supporting the project."
Most successful Kickstarters have stretch goals in place to further incentivise backers once the main target has been achieved. And while The Flame in the Flood achieved some of those (like the Endless Mode), it failed at one particular popular stretch goal as the target for a PS4 version wasn't met. However, this is not to say there is no chance of a PS4 version materialising moving forward.
"Right now we're focusing on the PC & Mac," explains Dowling. "We've been looking into options to bring the title to PS4, but aren't in a place to commit to it. Long term we'd love to see The Flame in the Flood on as many platforms as possible, but that will largely depend on how successful it is on the PC first. If it does well, we hope that will provide us the resources to bring it to additional platforms."
So what lies ahead for The Molasses Flood in 2015?
"2015 is the year where we succeed or fail," says Dowling. "We're off to a great start thanks to all our Kickstarter backers, and plan on releasing the game this coming year. We hope to be showing it off at events around March, so it's going to be a crazy busy year for us. We're currently working hard to get a solid demo build together, and will be pushing hard to build the whole game and get it out within a very tight schedule. Once the game is out, we hope people love it and it does well. Ideally, The Flame in the Flood is a hit, and we use the success to bring it to additional platforms while beginning development on another title."
It sounds a lot like we might see The Molasses Flood and The Flame in the Flood at PAX East in March, after all, what better place for a Boston-based developer to premiere their game publicly?