The Repopulation is making plans, and they aren’t plans to shut down.
The sandbox studio Above and Beyond became ensnared in HeroEngine’s financial problems last fall and was forced to halt development last month. But the studio’s J.C. Smith told fans over the weekend that the game is very much not canceled and that the team will announce its plans later in January:
[W]e will have an announcement later this month which will outline our plans moving forward. Wheels are already in motion but it’s just not ready to be revealed yet. We don’t want to leak out information on these forums before we are prepared for the full press release and such, because it would leak to the news sites once it is here. But to quell any panic, the game is not cancelled so that is not what the announcement will be.
Aw nuts, he’s onto us!
Smith also opened up a bit about the studio’s financial outlook.
I was speaking with Idea Fabrik on the notion of a buyout recently. There is a buyout option available, which may or may not (conflicting reports) include an additional kicker (we were originally told it would, but recently told it may not). However, since we have already launched outside of the platform (on Steam) there is a lock in period at 30% royalties even without hosting for I believe three years. They may be willing to negotiate to a lower number, or consider a larger flat fee without royalties, though at this point there are no solid numbers on what we’d be looking at there yet, only some feeler out conversations. This also does not include licenses for numerous other things (middleware, database) + the need for a new host. There are options there, though they are not cheap.
With regards to financials, we still have money in the bank, but it’s not cheap to develop an MMO. Staff size (and thus overhead) steadily increases the closer you get to launch and ours had more or less doubled in the past year. On months where there was not a sale we were typically losing money, though we had built an early reserve from the initial Steam launch which caused that to not be much of an issue. Of course once sales get taken offline and additional charges get tacked on, it affects you a lot more and we faced a situation where we could run out of money in a few months if we left the alpha servers online with the way things were. Which is what led to the decision to take alpha servers offline during this ordeal.
As to the team’s spirits, Smith says everyone’s hanging in there. “I think we all feel the crunch here because nobody is getting paid at this point and many people just don’t have anything to do right now. But we know there some light at the end of the tunnel in the not too distant future.”