Thursday, August 1, 2013

FTL Reahes 10,000 and comaprison to EVE Rifter

The Cuusoo project FTL, based on the rogue-like game FTL, achieved graduation into the next review group yesterday.

This project was a collaboration between the accomplished micromecha builder CrashSanders and myself (which makes me feel very weird reporting on it).  If you like this one you may be interested in our other collaboration on the Classic Star Control II.

I have been asked what my opinion its chances are, of course.  I need to start by saying I won't pretend I am not biased on this one but I will do my best to be fair in my views.  I guess what I am saying is take what follows with a larger grain of salt than usual. 


Cuusoo is literally targeted at discovering niche communities and using fans to find the products that appeal to those communities.  That is a stated goal.  (Of course the size of the niche is critical as people will use references to "niche" markets both for and against the chances of a project getting to production)  Any argument is fraught with peril as there is very limited data on what Cuusoo will and will not go with in producing a Cuusoo product.  There have only been three products selected for the global market.  Minecraft, BttF, and Curiosity.  Minecraft is also a stated exception to the normal run of things as can be assumed for any project that legitimately completes its 10,000 run in so short a time with so little preparation.  This is not an assumption, Lego recognized the active market on Minecraft and sped up production.

So, we really only have two "normal" projects that have reached review and production phase:  BttF and Curiosity with an obvious interest in Portals as a property as well.  Lets say 2.25? 

That is not much "yes" to go on to make any approximations in either direction.

So what is on the other side?
We have a few rejects based on Brand Fit: Winchester, Serenity
We have some buisness and Legal whats?: Dark Bucket
A contractually prevented option: Modular Western
Inevitable Discovery: UCS Sandcrawler
New Mold extravaganza: Legend of Zelda:
and then....Eve online: Rifter.

The Case for the Eve online: Market issue.  Also stated on a TV interview was the scale of the ship which we will come back to. 

So, only one case has been turned down due to Market and only two "normal" projects passed proving Lego's concept of a "good market."  There is not a statistically good group to play with.

Nobody has a solid clue on what Lego views as brand fit but they have said that builds can't be inappropriate for its target audience cap of age 11.  FTL is generally accepted in reviews as ok for that age range due to abstraction of its violent elements so I will leave it and that.  I am going to wave my hands and put that on the shelf and let Lego decide on that. 

But the question I have really gotten is: What about Eve vs FTL in a market sense?

Well, I am not saying that FTL has the market pull to reach production but what I am going to say is that even though these are both space ships sets and both sci-fi themed, the Markets and their cases are different to the point of making comparison pointless.

EVE online is an intense game where people build resources (dude, there was a ship in there worth $9000 real dollars that just got destroyed, really google it) and the EVE Rifter was a serious build for those serious fans.

FTL is a more casual game and the Lego FTL set a more casual set. 



The Rifter is one of many ships in EVE.  Its singular nature and scale reserve it for a display piece of distinguishing collectors with marginalized appeal to people outside the EVE community.  For the fans, the FTL ships are small thus allowing for more display options and selected by the community to be the 3 most desirable ships out of 18.  Having more than one gives more play options with interactivity.  The small size also keeps the price down expanding opportunities with the  casual gamer demographic as well as the Lego buyer who might be into space ships but not know one wit about FTL.

To put this in Lego terms comparing the EVE Rifter to the FTL set is like trying to directly compare the market for the Ninjago Ultra Sonic Raider against a standard Chima Speedor set.  Both products  target fans of Sci Fi / Fantasy theme with strange hi tech vehicles and magical powered Heroes.  Ninjago (at least for this analogy) is much more popular than Chima.  But even with the larger fanbase the Ultra Sonic Raider is targeted at a more rarefied community of that fanbase.  The speedor is much smaller and cheaper, making it viable for a larger percentage of the core community while also opening it up to secondary markets.   

So, the point on this long winded conversation is that I don't know if FTL meets the requirements of Cuusoo Buinsess Case, but just because EVE didn't it does not mean that FTL won't.  


At this point in time, I think that FTL has a legitimate shot at production:  Identifiable market, possible submarkets, viable product scale, viable brand fit (if a little violent), simple license (two guys to talk to).  If it does fail I would say that it would help to greatly define the barrier to production.

Of course if Disney does not want Lego playing with any other Space Ship IPs then it is dead as a door nail and if Cuusoo is always looking for a Minecraft or a Back to the Future in the post Global release, well, then this is not going to happen.
 

Sorry if this is a bit jumbled, doing a lot right now.  Regardless of its outcome, I am proud to have been associated with this project which I think has comported itself with dignity and professionalism through its publication.

Cheers!

Now to build some Mobile Frames for Game Day!