Ever since we first heard about Planet PostModerna, the Indie propject hoping to launch an actual planet in Entropia Universe, EntropiaPlanets has been supporting Alan Morgan and his team by doing interviews. The project has its own dedicated Planet PostModerna forum right here on EntropiaPlanets, where Alan (also known as Flapman) has answered questions raised by our users in the past. It has been quite some time since we last heard anything from Alan in person (we have an RSS feed reporting back to us, but that just is not the same as actual interaction), we figured we would hook up with him once more, and hear where Planet PostModerna finds itself now. Below, you can find the results of the questions we fired at him, with Alan providing answers where he can. Hi Alan, It has been quite a while since we last touched base about Planet Postmoderna. We figured it would be a good opportunity to see how the project is developing and what the current situation is. We have seen occasional blogs from Planet Postmoderna, including ones detailing the path from conceptual arts to actual in-game models, and all the trouble with it, as well as snippets of storyline. Does this imply that the project is progressing as planned so far? Yes, and it has always been moving forward - sometimes, at a snails pace, but moving forward at the least. We have concept art, story concept and organization and development processes in place. It has been a challenge learning how the design-side of the industry works and teaching myself the tools and process. The nice thing is, I really only need to know enough to communicate ideas to those that have the experience. They will do the real work. No moving forward as planned. Well, nothing always goes as planned. :) During the previous year, some people suggested that judging by the Planet Postmoderna site, it appeared as if you would no longer attempt to partner with Mindark, but perhaps looked into other paths. As far as we understand, the plan still is to get Planet Postmoderna into Entropia Universe. Could you please inform us whether that is accurate information, and perhaps share a bit more information about what might have gone through your head regarding the platform during the last year? Yes, we still plan to become a Planet Partner. The truth is, that although it is attractive to go our own way, it is really crazy to not look at the benefits of building upon and into an existing and successful platform such as Entropia. I have also learned that developing a game from the ground up would be hugely more expensive and development time would be greatly increased. Going the Entropia route is kind of like buying a franchise of an already established and successful business. We have to weigh out the pros and cons on both. If we look at the great improvements Mindark has made to the Entropia Universe Platform over the last few years and the success the other Planet Partners are having why would anyone look at building a virtual world game without considering Entropia as a viable and cost-effective option? Entropia also has an already great and established community (for the most part). :) Just teasing. We will be adding to that player base with what we will bring to the table as well. With the efforts we are planning with Planet Postmoderna, it will be an even better community. Believe me, originally, I did not like the notion of giving 60% of my profit to Mindark. I fought the idea, tooth and nail. But if you look at what we get in return, it really is a better bet in the long term. Most games with Postmoderna’s breadth would cost a minimum of $40 million US to build from the ground up. We will be able to do most of it with $2.8 million. We just need to get funding now. Of course, that in itself is a lot easier said than done. Initially, you started off building Planet PostModerna in MultiVerse, but since, we understand you switched over to Unity 3D. Could you elaborate on the motivations behind this choice? Most of what we were doing there with outside platforms was for the purpose of staging and developing a demo to pitch to investors and show Mindark that although we did not have the money, we were serious. Since using CryEngine through Mindark was not an option and a standalone license through Crytek was too cost-prohibitive (the free indie version had not come out yet) I had to look at other options. I looked at (with team help) Vastpark (which we played with for a bit), HeroEngine, BigWorld, Gamebryo, Unity3D, Torque 3D, Trinigy Vision, Unreal UDK, and finally, Mutiverse. Multiverse was a great fit since it was really designed for MMO games and all the foundational components were already there. The cost for development was really just blood, sweat and tears. There was no license fee until you went live and if then, it was only small percentage. All the others we looked at were at much higher commission percentages and/or license costs. Unfortunately, there was no support for Multiverse. Although the engine was mostly opensource it was antiquated. Rewriting shaders did not help make it look better. Multiverse had pretty much abandoned support of the 3D engine in trade for the work they were doing with Flash games for the Avatar title they were working on. The community kind of dried up too with spam posts being the only ones I saw in the forums. Enter Unity 3D version 3.0. It was a great release. Unity 3D was a very easy to use editing and design platform with “drag and drop” functionality that was compatible with most 3D design apps ranging from the high-end Maya and 3dsMax to free with Blender. Unity is a very powerful design tool for the average Indie developer. It is currently getting a lot of movement because of the ease at which developers of games for iOS and Android are able to use it. But...for MMOs, it’s not quite there. I am sure there are developers out there trying to crack that nut with Unity and someday they will but right now, not as much. We wanted to use Unity for the demo and for scene screens so we could convey our story better. We stuck with it for bit then after I started networking for funding, I had an epiphany. If it is more cost-effective to get in with Mindark and the Entropia Partner Planets, why not go straight to the source, now that CryEngine3 is out? Will the use of Unity form a technical impediment if you would become an official MindArk partner seeing that Entropia Universe runs on the CryEngine and not Unity? What a great segue to the previous comments. :) All work in Unity 3D has halted. With the release of Crytek’s CryENGINE 3, now free for non-commercial indie use, we are learning that. Turns out the editor is quite easy to use (I say that with a smirk on my face since I would not have said that 3 years ago when I knew nothing about game design and would have flipped over game editor complexities). :D The engine renders are beautiful, as we all know. The editor is very powerful and feature rich. Aren’t you all glad Entropia uses CryENGINE? Hopefully in the near feature we may see an upgrade to CE3. Wouldn’t that be nice? Challenge I still see is using CryEngine pushes players into a position of having to buy upgrades for their systems. Low graphics are not fun, we all know that. But, there has to be better development for lower-end systems. From what I can see in Entropia, it does not look like it. Even the older, Version 9.0 Entropia looked better than the low graphics settings in the current environment. The other part of that is practical. y making the game accessible to more people, the players' dollars are available to be injected into the economy. So that is something I will want to learn more about. Anyways, we are as I mentioned, learning CE3 so we can build scenes in it to better portray what we are trying to do. By doing so, we will be farther along on the learning path so that when we get “fully funded” we can represent our concept again to Mindark for final approval (which, I am hopeful we will get) and hit the ground running. During the past year and a half or so, three planets have launched in Entropia Universe. Have you visited them for inspiration? If so, can you share some of the things you thought were handled really well, or mistakes that you might have spotted that you learnt from so you can avoid that kind of pitfall? Absolutely but I have to say, so far, outside of homeworld Calypso, Arkadia is my favorite. That is only because that is where I have been spending any idle time (if I have any), exploring. Granted, Arkadia and all the other Partner Planets, including the upcoming Cyrene, have a lot of potential. I am excited for all them. In fact, one of our lead artists’ jaw dropped when he saw who David Dobson (Arkadia Studios) had as his lead artist. Each of the the Partners have talented teams and great management and I would find it a privilege to be in the same room with all of them at once. What fun that would be! Lots of brainstorming, socializing and lots of great ideas. :) As far as the downsides, I don’t really see anything significant. If I did, I would just use that to my advantage and would rather not talk about it. :) I am teasing of course. I think if we all work together, that’s how Entropia Universe will be better game. Yes, easy for me say, the guy with no money yet! :D There is a lot of growth opportunity in the industry space of Virtual Worlds and Online MMO Games. Money-based economies are more and more attractive today than they ever have been. Read the press about the industry and you will see what I mean. It will be more of a win for all of us if the Planet Partners look at each other as potential allies rather than competition. People have openly worried in the past that the efforts put into the project by volunteers might not lead to anything. How will you reassure people that their efforts will be rewarded when PostModerna launches? Well, I had to use volunteers since I had no money to pay anyone. Most of the high quality models and art we have today were all done by volunteers. Granted, not all were good and we tossed a lot out. I have found it exciting and humbling too, that so many people wanted to and still want to be part of this project - whether they get paid someday or not. Most just want to be recognized for their efforts and that, we do. We have implemented a Wall of Appreciation on our website that provides thanks and acknowledgment for everyone’s contributions. We also keep track of their time when they are willing to do that. The volunteers believed in me and in this project. Recognizing them is the least I can do since I can’t currently pay them. That is important to me and I don’t ever want to forget who contributed from their time and talents. Everyone has a need to belong somewhere and I am glad to keep the door open and be to able to give back if I can. Any business or new venture is about risk. Any red-blooded entrepreneur will testify to that. We all set out and take risks for what we want do or have goals for. We work with what we can. Volunteer resources is one of those things. Postmoderna is a very “big picture” project and is actually bigger than we all know or give credit for. I can’t give you all the particulars of what we have planned but you are going to have to trust me on that. Everyone that comes on this project knows that we may get no return on this. Maybe it will never reach funding nor even launch but regardless, what effort we give is at 100% no matter what. Everyone has a choice and they don’t have to volunteer if they don’t want to. We also won’t give false hopes or make idle promises.That said, I am just blessed to have had (and still have) some really good talent on this project. Team Postmoderna is about vision and purpose. Zig Ziglar once said, “Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be.” I believe that with all my heart. We give because to do so and to belong makes us feel good. That is the team culture here on Postmoderna. Not everyone believes that so, volunteers do come and go but, none of this would have been possible without them. I am also playing to win and I guarantee Postmoderna will be a reality: create jobs, help others grow and be successful, have fun, make money playing games! With that said, I would rather own 10% of something that is successful than 100% of something that is not. Postmoderna is truly a team effort and a game that we all hopefully win at soon. How many people are currently involved in the development of PostModerna, and can you share some more about their rough time involved, their roles, and their experience? Currently we have a team of 7+ artists (Concept, 2D textures, 3D models, animation and post-processing effects, level design, and all with several studio projects under their belt), 1 writer (7 novels under her belt), 1 programmer (Physics Specialist), 1 sound engineer and composer (Warner Bros and Discovery Channel acclaim and many projects under his belt) and “little ole me” - a sales and marketing guy that loves networking and building relationships and has a “never give up” level of persistence that sometimes gets on peoples nerves. :D This also does not include the partnerships we have that will contribute greatly to making this project a reality. I wish I could toss out names but all in due time. No one has been on as long as I have but all have years more experience than I do and way more talent! Should people want to participate in building up Postmoderna, are there specific roles you are looking for at the moment? What should these people be able to bring to the table for Postmoderna, and what can Postmoderna offer them in return? Right now, we are “staffed out.” I have made a recent decision to keep most of the talent here in Colorado where I can keep an eye on them! Kidding; they don’t really need it but there is a lot to be said for having team members where you can meet face-to-face. With the exception of a few people elsewhere that have been priceless assets on this project, all will most like be here locally. When this project goes live, there will be opportunities for the community to be actively involved. We will let you know at that time what those opportunities are but believe me, they will be fun and exciting. Now the big question. For any such projects, the key is always funding. How is the funding for Postmoderna progressing? What amounts do you imagine are required to get the project into a successful state, and where are you at right now? Yes, the funding piece has definitely been the most challenging nut to crack. If I had the money, Postmoderna would have the first new planet. I would have raced to that finish line. :) However, we would not have matured enough as a project and would not have been done a good job. The community would have resented us. Most of the issues I have faced are a combination of SEC regulations regarding private offerings and finding organizations here in the States that buy into what we are doing. Although the gaming industry is one of “Growth,” and Entropia Universe has a proven track record as a successful game model, it and virtual worlds with money-based economies is still a rather new concept to the majority of the investor community. The current economic landscape doesn’t help much either. Luckily, now that is finally changing as we see big name enterprises beginning to adapt similar models. I remain optimistic and, no one can question mine and the project’s perseverance. We have been pushing this for 3-4 years now. We have made huge leaps forward in development and garnered good partnerships. We have a great team, a business and marketing plan, a game design doc, story, art and concept. But, without funding, all of that is moot! I ran a budget to include everything we need to run this and to be successful and by my estimates, we am looking at $2.8 million US. I am throwing that out there because I want the community to know what costs are in involved in building a business like this. You have labor and payroll taxes (the largest piece of the budget pie), partnership networking and marketing, hardware and software, operations expenses and legal fees, community management and player engagement and relationship management. It’s not a picnic or a party, it is a business and a costly one at that. Nice thing is, it’s only $2,800,000. If we were to build from the ground up, try $40,000,000. :D How could people help if they have no technical game building knowledge, but still would like to be of assistance somehow? Right now, the bulk of what is needed does require a lot of talent and technical knowledge. However, people in the community can help by spreading the word - supporting us in that way. We have a store that everyone can buy Fan merchandise at. They can write letters of support to the team. One challenge there is (and I get asked this a lot): “If the plan is so good, why aren’t more investors doing this?” Good question huh? Most likely this is because we have to do a better job at marketing the concept of how money-based game economies work and how it will make them, as an investor, successful. That is where we need help and nothing works better than word-of-mouth. You mentioned a store where fans can purchase PostModerna merchandise. How much of the revenue from that will go towards the planet-fund? LOL. Yes, I just mentioned that. Serves me right for not reading ahead. Yes, we have a Zazzle Store. We will use it to not only raise money for the project but also to showcase our artists. It is still in development and we will start rolling out more in the very near future. The delay for content is mostly because we have to be careful of releasing too much of our intellectual property too soon. Zazzle pays us a commission (about 5-15% depending on what we set it at). The intent is that all of the monies will get dumped back into the project as part of the funding stream. Alan, thank you for taking your time. We will soon add a banner to your Zazzle store, so visitors and members of EntropiaPlanets can drop by in case they wish to help out PlanetPostmoderna by buying some of the official merchandise.