Dear Insane Children,
Lots of work going on over here behind the scenes. We’re busy putting together a proposal for Mysterious Studios – a place where we can develop Oz, Alice, and other projects. And since the core concept behind this studio is CROWD DESIGN, I want to be sure to include you in what’s going on.
A bit of background first… The way we’ve made visible our Business Development efforts towards acquiring a license to develop a new Alice game is unusual. And Crowd Designing all the art, narrative, and design work on that project is also not often done – at least not for a project that aims to be a big AAA title. Plus, you’ve also been involved in Crowd Design on things like toys and other merch which have proven to be a critical part of the model we outline here.
What we’ve done so far proves that Crowd Design can work. And that weaving together Crowd Design + Merch + Game Development can be a unique and functional model creative studios. And it’s that model that we’re pitching to our potential investors.
What follows here is the outline for that pitch I sent the team at Mysterious:
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So we’re putting together a pitch document for REDACTED. They’ve let us know that they’d like to invest in us and that we need to give them a Pitch Deck for review by the Investment Committee. What they’re looking for is something very similar to what we put together for REDACTED – link here…
Mysterious_Studios_EAP_Alice_Asylum_Deck_HighRe… (Attached to this post)
So here’s an outline of things we’ll want to include. Much of this follows off the “requirements note” sent to me by REDACTED (attached .png). All of this is brainstorming and we’ll work to refine for the final pitch document.
Vision – A semi-virtual creative studio producing games and merchandise. Leverages the concept of Crowd Design to involve customers through the entire production process from initial concept to final delivery of games and related merch. Production process becomes an inclusive form of marketing via social media, live streaming, blog posts, and other forms of entry to our studio and minds of our creators. “The world is going to need a lot more linear storytelling type games and we’re going to tap into a huge collection of existing stories (fairytales, etc) to deliver that content.” Small, agile, tech-powered teams with games built atop Unreal. Games as catalogs for our merch. Merch as testing grounds for our new game IPs.
We need to find a way to tell that Vision story through visuals and bullet points.
Current Team and Hiring – We have a current team (CC’d on this email) of artists, designers, producers, writers. In Shanghai, Adam and American have access to industry, school, and personal networks where we can hire critical Lead Talent (need to include names, short bios). Beyond the Lead Talent, we’ll outsource as much as we’re able. The goal is to keep the Core Team as small as possible – so that between projects we can ramp down to only the Core and then ramp back up as new production demands it. And we want to include our fans & Insane Children (our Crowd Designers) in this as well.
We’ll want to include a page (or pages) that highlight the current team and tell the story of a virtual studio + Shanghai studio.
Vision/Team notes: We’ll have a 15~20 person studio/office in Shanghai, probably in REDACTED District since this is where REDACTED is planning to open a large Shanghai campus. Staffed by “rubber meets road” people – programmers, level builders, producers. Everyone else will work remotely – this includes our current team, additional artists/designers, and outsource producers of art, sound, and animation. Crowd Design notion is Critical to what makes our studio and our process unique. Our customers literally earn their way into the production process – see Patreon. Our production process – including our mistakes – is what feeds our constant stream of marketing and communication. And we don’t wait till the release of a game to test whether or not the concept (or the game) works. EARLY ACCESS via platforms like Steam will be a CRITICAL part of our game development process.
Background of Oz, why start from Oz – Fans are demanding it; one of the best-known stories and IPs in the world; rich environment for development of a unique and compelling story; a world of surreal creatures, powerful magic, it’s the original D&D/RPG type environment. And depending on how we structure the initial Chapter, it’s a place we can revisit over and over through different characters on different adventures.
Gameplay & Narrative – this is already going into a document that I am working on with Alex. We’ll share that with the team soon. We need Key Art to make this work. Key Art is CRITICAL.
“Oz Adventures” is the Ultimate Crowd Design Game – an Episodic Adventure where we see travelers from across time landing in Oz (via plane crash, shipwreck, tornado, etc) and then fighting to survive using whatever unique skills and tools they brought with them. We’ll see Ye Olde Pirates shipwrecked on the shores of Oz and follow a band of 4 survivors as they swashbuckle and peg-leg their way to an escape. In another episode, we’ll play as a lone survivor of a plane crash – a WWII pilot who lost his way in a storm. He makes a heroic effort to survive and escape… but ultimately dies, eaten by a Giant Kalidah. Each episode is ~6 hours in length. The only constant is The Land of Oz. Content and storylines can be drawn from and built by our Crowd Designers. We’ll select the best elements and stories and bring them to life – each episode being built in ~1 year, released into Early Access, refined, and then released as a complete stand-alone adventure. There can be links between episodes – locations, characters, and storylines that interweave and connect across time.
Budget & Production Plan – Adam and American will work on this.
Projection of Sales – Adam and American will work on this.
Investment Amount and Valuation – again, Adam and American will work on this. But for the record, in order to increase the initial valuation and the amount of money we’re able to start with, it will likely be that the existing corporate entity of “Mysterious” becomes the vehicle for this. Because it has a record of stable and growing revenue over the past years… it can be used to increase the value of the pitch. It also allows us to neatly wrap up the Merch side of the pitch as Mysterious is already being successful at the side of the business.
Long Term Plan – First Oz (1.5~2 year project), then Alice: Asylum (2-year project) for game development. In the middle of all that, lots more Merch from a team headed by Yan. More toys, clothing, jewelry, art prints; and all of this done on a larger scale, to higher quality, than we’ve been doing so far. Mysterious Merch can form the foundation that ensures the games side of the business remains stable through various ups and downs. Going forward, original IPs – based on things like Plushie Dreadfuls – with an emphasis on the cross-over between games and physical merch.
IP – Mysterious owns the entire catalog of Spicy Horse IP including Grimm, Akaneiro, etc. It also owns new things like “Out of the Woods” and Plushie Dreadfuls… and technically it owns things like “Pirate Jam” that can be leveraged to increase exposure and creativity for the studio – maybe even allowing us to create MORE IP for the company to leverage into merch and games.
That’s it for my notes. Everyone have a read and throw your thoughts in.
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Alright, Insane Children. There you have the outline for the thing that would be Mysterious Studios. The most radical notion is that inclusion of YOU as a critical part of the development process. Imagine what we’ve been doing here on Patreon – but include frequent drops of in-development games and access to development tools (as in, maybe we can make our assets and code public during development).
I have mentioned Crowd Design to this potential partner and they love they idea. So no worries that all this will be shot down because of that.
Lots to absorb in there… have a read, another read, and then share your feedback in the comments below.
From Shanghai with Love,