Welcome, Guest

Author Topic: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox  (Read 87578 times)

Dan Dixon

  • Creator of Universe Sandbox
  • Developer
  • *****
  • Posts: 3240
    • Personal Site
Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« on: November 19, 2012, 11:40:26 PM »
Short Version | tl;dr

I had promised everyone who owned a copy of the current version would get a free upgrade to the major new version of Universe Sandbox, but that was in late 2011 and many things have changed. The new version has become more complex and costly than originally conceived and the project now employs seven people. I think the promise has handicapped the long term future of the software and so Iíve decided that the new version will no longer be a free upgrade for existing users.


Long Version

Earlier this year I stated, on more than one occasion, that anyone who has ever purchased Universe Sandbox would get the upcoming new version for free. Since that time, many things have changed, and I think this promise has handicapped the long term future of the software.

Let me try to take you through my thinking...

In November 2012 I shared a weekend with an amazing group of people devoted to social justice and leveraging their privilege for lasting, positive change in the world. My take away from the experience was: How do I use my opportunity to make the most positive change in the world?

I want to continue to develop Universe Sandbox for years to come and use it to inspire learning about our amazing universe. I feel that this is, and will be, my lifeís work, and Iím so lucky to be in the position to work full time on something I love and care about so much.

I feel conflicted that I have to charge for Universe Sandbox at all; I think knowledge should be free. Iíd give it away to everyone if I was independently wealthy, but Iím not. And no longer is this project all about me. There are six other people who work on this project, whose income is paid from the sales of the original version. So I think it is fair to ask those who can support Universe Sandbox to do so, in order for us to provide it to those who canít.

When I promised upgrading everyone for free, this is what I was thinking:
  • Some people were having startup issues (the software wonít run at all), and a free upgrade would compensate for this.
  • Weíd be ready to release the update by the end of 2012 (yet weíre nowhere near release).
  • The feature set of the new version, would be equivalent to original version.
  • I want everyone to have the new version, because itís going to be awesome.
  • I saw that Train Simulator had given a free upgrade to all of their users, and I liked that (however I wasnít considering that they probably make most of their money via expensive add-on packs).
  • I didnít want to add a number or anything to the name of the product. I like calling it ďUniverse SandboxĒ and not ďUniverse Sandbox 2Ē or ďUniverse Sandbox UltimateĒ for example.
  • We will be releasing on new platforms and this will open up new markets (although how successful this will be is unknown).
  • Monthly revenue was still covering all development expenses.

Whatís happened since:
  • The scope and complexity of the project has dramatically increased, and weíwe've been adding complex new features that arenít in the original. Itís becoming more awesome than I ever thought would be possible.
  • Development is taking longer than I expected (as weíre making it more awesome) and so I hope we will release v3 sometime in 2013.
  • Iíve agreed to give the current version away to every school in the world for free (that signs up for the Steam for Schools program).
  • I released an update to that reduced the software prerequisites and fixed two of the major startup issues.
  • We've moved toward procedural generation of everything in the new version, so selling expansion packs (like what Train Simulator does) doesn't make as much sense.
  • Iíve added three more developers and an operations assistant to the team, which has increased the cost of development and thus the monthly burn rate.
  • Thereís still quite a few part time people to hire to work on music, sound effects, 3D modeling, graphic design, and localization.
  • Monthly expenses are now more than the typical monthly income from sales of the original.

Reasons to charge for the new version:
  • More than half of all purchasers bought Universe Sandbox for 50%-80% off (or via an indie bundle) and many have said they would be happy to pay for the next version (but understandably wouldn't if handed a copy for free).
  • There currently is no planned successor the the new version and weíre rewriting all the code to be a solid foundation for updates and development for years to come.
  • I donít have a good idea for how to move to a free to play model that doesn't involve having to buy planets or tools, and I feel that gets in the way of the unlimited freedom of the sandbox concept.
  • I donít want to release a feature reduced version of the new version that asks you to buy an expansion of the new stuff. Besides, doing two different versions (limited and full) is more work to maintain.
  • I have one good idea for an expansion pack that Iím really excited about (and think you will be too), but itís still a long way out from being developed, released, and beginning to generate revenue.
  • It costs a lot of money to support the livelihood of 7 people, and make something awesome; Iíd love to pay them all more.
  • I want to work on Universe Sandbox indefinitely, and Iím not sure how to generate the revenue to support this endeavor outside of selling individual copies.

Iíve been debating what to do about this for months and have discussed it with friends, family, colleagues in the video game industry, and the development team. Iím very sensitive to making people feel slighted in reversing course and not updating everyone for free, so If you feel wronged, please let us know and Iíll make it right.

I hope that youíll understand the decision to not upgrade current users to the new version for free. Please let me know what you think in the comments below.

Duplicate thread on the Steam Forums

Moved beta related questions and replies to the beta thread

Originally posted November 2012... some details updated in December 2013.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2013, 12:55:10 AM by Dan Dixon »

smjjames

  • *****
  • Posts: 1128
Re: How Much Is the New Version of the Universe Worth?
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2012, 11:53:24 PM »
As long as its a reasonable price like 15 or 20$ or something, then yeah.

If it were 70 bucks, I'd still buy it, but that's pretty expensive, especially so for the international Ubox fans. Might want to get input from them due to the differences in currency.

Wait, the beta will still be free though, right?
« Last Edit: November 19, 2012, 11:59:31 PM by smjjames »

Unreal2004

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 56
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2012, 12:01:40 AM »
Ditto what smjjames said, I am ok with buying the next US as long as I know how much I have to save up, it will take me some time to do that but it will be worth it.  I completely agree with you Dan on all your points, you have to pay your people and you cant do that when the new users are paying 75% of the normal price for the game, it would be unfair to the ones who paid in full when they (the 75% off users) get the upgrade for free as well and didnt invest as much into the project.  I can also understand the complaints that will follow, it is natural to feel what they will be feeling when something is taken away from them, especially the people (like me) that do not make anywhere near a normal income it will be difficult and you may lose the support of these people.  In the end I think this will be a better way forward and will reduce friction in your company since it is money that moves this product now, it takes more than just you (Dan) to get this going now in a reasonable time frame and that costs money.

My .02

tuto99

  • *****
  • Posts: 532
  • King of the Universe; Patron of Mankind
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2012, 12:22:35 AM »
This is understandable and reasonable Dan. I don't mind paying again for the new version of the program, because at least I know I'm funding the developers the money they need to make this new update awesome. Good luck on the new update!  ;)

Dan Dixon

  • Creator of Universe Sandbox
  • Developer
  • *****
  • Posts: 3240
    • Personal Site
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2012, 12:23:43 AM »
No worries... it's safe to assume the price of v3 will be reasonable and not $70.

Beta comments moved to this thread
« Last Edit: November 20, 2012, 11:23:44 PM by Dan Dixon »

Darvince

  • *****
  • Posts: 1805
  • King of the Universe; Patron of Mankind
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2012, 12:38:05 AM »
isn't this the same thing that was happening before us2 was ported to steam?
not enough monies?

TrueCoppa

  • Universe Sandbox 1 Beta Team
  • *****
  • Posts: 26
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2012, 01:09:20 AM »
That's fine, if it has to be done to keep US alive then why not?

vh

  • formerly mudkipz
  • *****
  • Posts: 1135
  • i keep getting into bad situations
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2012, 04:44:57 AM »
kolok, i don't mind buying a new version either

atomic7732

  • Universe Sandbox 1 Beta Team
  • *****
  • Posts: 3692
  • are you staying awake for the liftoff tonight?
    • PegasiProgramming
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2012, 07:14:11 AM »
I don't really mind paying (and it seems many others don't as well), I think it should be similar to the first version, maybe a pay what you want starting at 75-85% of what you'd prefer and allow people to pay for more? And then maybe individual cases can pay less if they can't pay the minimum for whatever reason?

ethan123

  • **
  • Posts: 16
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2012, 10:04:43 AM »
How much would it be.

DenisineD

  • *****
  • Posts: 155
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2012, 11:24:12 AM »
I don t have any problem with this :)

Steroidkloud

  • ****
  • Posts: 36
  • There'll be another time...
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2012, 01:08:51 PM »
It's the right thing to do. How else can you keep US afloat?

But now I'm shattered, since I cannot make online purchases. That's the reason I pirated US2 in the first place. Then I was lucky enough (LOTS OF DRAMA INVOLVED) to have someone else use their card to buy it for me ($25), then pay them back with real cash.

Since I am in Australia, does that leave posting money out of the question (When I can spare money), since you guys use different currency? I'm crossing my fingers there will somehow be an on-disc-in-store version.

You have my word, I won't pirate US3, since I know how hard hitting it is for you guys. I respect you all too much for that.


APODman

  • Universe Sandbox 1 Beta Team
  • *****
  • Posts: 225
    • Astronomic Picture of the Day - Brazil
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2012, 01:29:02 PM »
This is understandable and reasonable Dan. I don't mind paying again for the new version of the program, because at least I know I'm funding the developers the money they need to make this new update awesome. Good luck on the new update!  ;)

I agree !

The social role of Universe Sandbox is already being done by their release free to schools.

I fully agree that the private interest of the software allows charging for the use of the product given the work involved in making this piece of art.

Regards


Prometech

  • *****
  • Posts: 103
  • Official Photographer of the Universe at large
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2012, 02:44:46 PM »
   I'm fine with this. However, a bit disappointed that I won't come home and find the update having arrived.
Is there anyway for current owners to get a discount so not to completely change what was promised, the reason I say this is that many here are either not old enough to have a job or earn money to pay for a full price game.

   However, I do completely understand why you changed the conditions given your current situation regarding the expense of the game development. I would be fine paying for this update, glad even so that more great work could come from your development team. For as much use as I have gotten out of the game so far, I would be fine paying for many more hours on a superior version of the game with so many new features.

Dan Dixon

  • Creator of Universe Sandbox
  • Developer
  • *****
  • Posts: 3240
    • Personal Site
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2012, 11:45:32 PM »
I cannot make online purchases. That's the reason I pirated US2 in the first place.

If you have no way to buy it and you pirate it, how is that a lost sale?
If you could buy it without hardship, but pirate it instead, well... that's not cool.

I'm crossing my fingers there will somehow be an on-disc-in-store version.

Probably not. That said... I sent you an email.

... many here are either not old enough to have a job or earn money to pay for a full price game.

To be fair, Universe Sandbox is not a full price game. Skyrim is a full price game. That said, if you have no way of buying the new version of Universe Sandbox, let me know and we'll work something out. I don't want money to get in the way of young minds exploring the universe... which is largely why we've just recently announced that Universe Sandbox v2 is free to schools all over the world via Steam for Schools.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2012, 11:57:03 PM by Dan Dixon »

smjjames

  • *****
  • Posts: 1128
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2012, 04:46:37 AM »
I cannot make online purchases. That's the reason I pirated US2 in the first place.

If you have no way to buy it and you pirate it, how is that a lost sale?
If you could buy it without hardship, but pirate it instead, well... that's not cool.


He did later pay for it though.

FiahOwl

  • *****
  • Posts: 1234
  • i am a bad situation
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2012, 05:14:12 AM »
Also Dan, I am perfectly fine with paying for the game, I understand :D.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2012, 11:32:12 AM by Dan Dixon »

Yannos

  • ****
  • Posts: 48
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #17 on: November 21, 2012, 10:00:21 AM »
Everyone should get paid for their hard work. Honest post and good decision.

dhm794

  • *****
  • Posts: 126
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #18 on: November 21, 2012, 07:25:30 PM »
Dan, I agree completely that the software should be a one-time payment rather than having to buy planets and various add ons.  Day 1 DLC is awful.

phinehas

  • Regular sans EE
  • *
  • Posts: 177
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #19 on: November 22, 2012, 01:58:57 AM »
<censored>
« Last Edit: December 03, 2014, 08:50:28 PM by phinehas »

de_Stan

  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #20 on: November 22, 2012, 06:36:44 AM »
I really don't have a problem giving my money to something that's really worth it.
Even that im from Greece and you guys have an idea how things are here now (no jobs, very low incomes) i would support you. Because you deserve it!

FiahOwl

  • *****
  • Posts: 1234
  • i am a bad situation
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #21 on: November 23, 2012, 07:08:26 AM »
Dan, I agree completely that the software should be a one-time payment rather than having to buy planets and various add ons.  Day 1 DLC is awful.

If there is DLC I plan to like boycott it or something. I will not pay in order to use the select tool or something stupid.

tuto99

  • *****
  • Posts: 532
  • King of the Universe; Patron of Mankind
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #22 on: November 23, 2012, 07:16:37 AM »
Ehh, I don't see any DLCs being released for Ubox 3. It's a program, not a game. What are they going to patch, brown dwarfs and neutron stars?Psh

smjjames

  • *****
  • Posts: 1128
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #23 on: November 23, 2012, 07:20:11 AM »
Dan, I agree completely that the software should be a one-time payment rather than having to buy planets and various add ons.  Day 1 DLC is awful.

If there is DLC I plan to like boycott it or something. I will not pay in order to use the select tool or something stupid.

Dan said that he doesn't want to do downloadable content for planets and stuff like that or even DLC at all.

@tuto: you don't need to pay for normal patches and updates, which arent defined as DLC anyway.

tuto99

  • *****
  • Posts: 532
  • King of the Universe; Patron of Mankind
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #24 on: November 23, 2012, 07:31:06 AM »
I was trying to say if they're going to add brown dwarfs and neutron stars as downloadable content.

Unreal2004

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 56
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #25 on: November 23, 2012, 07:40:53 AM »
I was trying to say if they're going to add brown dwarfs and neutron stars as downloadable content.

I doubt that, it probably will be either in the finished program (hate calling U.S. a game, its so much more) or as a patch/update later, DLCs are really only reserved for games that want to milk the cow for all its got, then beat the dead horse to an even deader death after the cow ran dry.

tuto99

  • *****
  • Posts: 532
  • King of the Universe; Patron of Mankind
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #26 on: November 23, 2012, 07:43:32 AM »
I was exactly saying that. A DLC for Ubox is not going to happen.

Dan Dixon

  • Creator of Universe Sandbox
  • Developer
  • *****
  • Posts: 3240
    • Personal Site
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #27 on: November 23, 2012, 11:00:53 AM »
I have one good idea for an expansion pack that Iím really excited about (and think you will be too), but itís still a long way out from being developed, released, and beginning to generate revenue.

But it's definitely not Day 1 DLC (Downloadable Content) meaning that it won't be released until months after the release of Universe Sandbox 3. It's something we've talked about, but no one has yet begun working on it (and won't until after the release).

There's no plan to make some types of stars paid DLC.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2012, 11:07:26 AM by Dan Dixon »

smjjames

  • *****
  • Posts: 1128
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #28 on: November 23, 2012, 01:18:33 PM »
I have one good idea for an expansion pack that Iím really excited about (and think you will be too), but itís still a long way out from being developed, released, and beginning to generate revenue.

But it's definitely not Day 1 DLC (Downloadable Content) meaning that it won't be released until months after the release of Universe Sandbox 3. It's something we've talked about, but no one has yet begun working on it (and won't until after the release).

There's no plan to make some types of stars paid DLC.

What would be your idea of a DLC for Universe Sandbox? Just wondering here.

Dan Dixon

  • Creator of Universe Sandbox
  • Developer
  • *****
  • Posts: 3240
    • Personal Site
Re: Upgrades & Updates: The Future of Universe Sandbox
« Reply #29 on: November 25, 2012, 12:09:59 PM »
What would be your idea of a DLC for Universe Sandbox? Just wondering here.

Not yet ready to reveal the idea. :)

(and if you quote can you edit the quote to only include the relevant part of the quote)