Tipping Your Friendly Neighborhood Developer

You want to do what?

Chris McElligott Park in 2009 when people first brought up tips

Hi, Chris here.

Originally, back in I think 2009, this page came about because people — entirely to my surprise — asked for it.  Back then, I was surprised that anyone was buying my little game, let alone that they wanted to toss an extra coin my way.

Times have changed, I guess.

For the first seven years of Arcen’s life, this tips page was pretty buried on our website, and with good reason.  Except for a few scary moments, we never really needed the money.  My mentality has always been that I’d prefer to sell you something awesome and you have a great time with it, versus… this.

A One Man Studio To A Small Group… And Back To One

We had a fulltime staff of first two, and I think it was seven at the largest point in 2015.  We also had a lot of contractors — 18 people fulltime working for us, at peak.  There was a brief period there where our “burn rate” was about $70k USD per month, and I’d get a bit stressed when our coffers dropped below $200k on hand.  And we had no debt!  What an amazing time to think back to.

The original AI War: Fleet Command brought in over two million dollars directly to the company, and paid for all those salaries and lots of other projects.  Skyward Collapse was mildly and comfortable profitable, as were the A Valley Without Wind games.  The Last Federation was a surprise smash hit, bringing in close to another million on its own (and really fast, too).

Yeah, There Was That “Indiepocaylpse” I Guess

The really common throughline for all of our projects since 2014 has been that they’ve all lost money.  Cumulatively it’s up to almost a million dollars gone, if I add it all up, sheesh.  The timing was near that of the Indiepocalypse, and I don’t think that really helped with some of our later titles like Starward Rogue, but I also don’t blame external circumstances for my situation or what happened with layoffs.  You can read the full story of that in the Company History (in multiple parts) if you want all the details of what happened (it’s an interesting read, and I get asked about it a lot, but I realized I had never put it all in one place before).

So… Tips

If you’re a student, or not on financially-sound ground yourself, please don’t toss this here Witcher a coin.  Like they say on airplanes, put on your own mask first.  

If you’re really enjoying what we’ve been working on for the last while, and if you feel like you’ve gotten more than your money’s worth, I certainly wouldn’t mind you tossing in a bit extra.  It’s not a pressure thing or guilt — the price was the price.  I don’t expect most folks to want to give a tip for something they already bought, and that’s fine.

Tips are also also not something that will keep me on AI War 2 longer than I already plan to be — for one, there’s no way we could raise nearly enough money, and for two I’m ready to work on more things.   Being a little less over-stretched coming out of this project would be nice, though.

The Future, And My Thanks

I plan to be around in this industry for a long time regardless of what happens.  It’s been… a really hard half-decade, and honestly pretty embarrassing, as well.  I think I learned some pretty important lessons in that time, but I suppose we’ll find that out for sure next year.

I’m really grateful to the fanbase that has sprung up around our work.  And to the staff and contractors I’ve had the pleasure of working with in the past, and hope to work with again in the future as circumstances may permit.  Right now things are what they are, but mostly I try to look on the bright side.  

I really appreciate the unwavering support and trust that folks have given us as the AI War 2 project has dragged on and on.  It took quite a while to get there, but it’s quite a masterwork in the end — and in a very large part thanks to a mix of volunteers and contractors helping out with it.  It’s been three years since I became the sole remaining employee, but I’ve never once been alone.  

Thanks, everyone.

(And yes, the button says "donate," but that's just Paypal's term for money that is given from one party to another without any strings attached.)