With the latest update (still in alpha but getting close to beta) I started to introduce the monetization features of Star Corsairs. Star Corsairs will be F2P but hopefully not the kind that is annoying.

Dual currency

Well nothing new here. Credits are gained by destroying aliens, doing missions and trading. Aliens will give more credits if they are part of a mission to give player some incite players to participate in missions. Missions are open-world events that any player can participate in if the maximum number of players is not reached. All missions are designed for 2 or more players but it’s still possible to solo any missions by being smart or getting the right spaceship.

The other currency is Illium (try to find the reference without googling it…). Illium will be bought with real cash and will allow to buy special bonuses like a boost to credits gained when destroying aliens and a boost to resources gained from mining an asteroid. There will be more bonuses later but for now it’s good enough as a first step. Illium will also be used to buy specific spaceships and components. This content won’t unlock an “I win” button but will provide an even more interesting experience as well as exclusive looks for spaceships.

So far the pricing for Illium looks like this:

  • 100 Illium – $4.99
  • 200 Illium – $8.99
  • 500 Illium – $19.99
  • 1,000 Illium – $34.99
  • 2,000 Illium – $59.99
  • 4,000 Illium – $99.99

If you’re only interested in temporary bonuses to credits and resources gained then 100 Illium is more than enough for some time. Those prices are not from my imagination. In fact they follow the same pattern as what you will find in Dead Frontier. I still have some more games to check before I decide if I keep those prices but I doubt they will change a lot.

Beside buying bonuses and special components Illium will also be used to buy facilities like mining space stations if you really hate mining and want this job be done for you automatically. You’ll first need to find a really big asteroid to attach the mining space station so there’s still some work left for you here. Ultimately I’d like to also offer packs of spaceships’ modules so players can create their own custom spaceships with unique appearance but that will be for later.

Optional subscription

Why a subscription? Well first it will help me to plan better if I’ll be starving to death or not. Of course it will also offer an improved experience to players who really like the game. Again no “I win” buttons here but some interesting benefits for players. This optional subscription is called Elite Corsair status. I wanted a nice name for it as just calling it gold or subscription sounded kinda lame. So far the subscription plans look like this:

  • Monthly – $7.99
  • 6 months – $39.99
  • 12 months – $72.99

Again I didn’t pull those numbers out of thin air. Others have gone that way so I checked what was done in other games and decided those prices made sense.

Yes games like Clone Wars Adventures offer a subscription of $5.99 per month. How can ask more than Clone Wars Adventures? Well I bet their marketing department is bigger than mine so it’s easier for them to get millions of players. Also you just can’t compare to big studios to set your pricing. Being indie doesn’t mean you should make everything cheaper. Being indie means you should charge what’s fair and what will allow you to remain indie. I’d like to make the monthly subscription $0.99 but if I have to close the game after 3 months because I’m not making enough money this doesn’t get me anywhere and players will lose a game they like.

Beside in a game like Clone Wars Adventures you can’t get very far if you don’t subscribe. A lot of content is locked. In an evening I went through pretty much everything I could do without spending any money and now I don’t really feel like going back as the free experience is more of a trial or demo if you like. That won’t be the case for Star Corsairs. You will be able to really play and fully enjoy the game for free. That brings me to the benefits of subscribing.

The following might still change but so far it looks like this:

  • 200 free Illium every month  – value of $8.99!
  • 25% discount on all credits fees (items, research, insurance, etc.)
  • Newly created spaceships are automatically insured
  • Unlimited distance travel from your home sector (that one is really helpful, believe me)
  • 50 manufacturing slots instead of 5 (not too sure about that one)
  • 200 trading slots instead of 20 (again not sure here)
  • Priority technical support

Let me explain the priority technical support here. It doesn’t mean I won’t help non-subscribers but it means that I’m alone. There’s no support team to back me up so obviously I do need to pick who to help first. If you are not subscribed, have a problem and I have nothing else to do then yes I will help you right away. But say if I wake up one morning and I have 10 requests to help people then I will first pick those subscribed since they are paying for an improved experience. All players will be helped but I just need a way to prioritize my work.

Gifts

In Golemizer even though all benefits were obtained from tradable items there is no gift system. The best I did was to include special gift box people could get for cheap around Christmas. In Star Corsairs there will be a dedicated gift system with a permanent icon at the top of the screen. It will be possible to offer pretty much anything as a gift though I’m not totally sure about cheap items bought with credits as I could how some players might want to spam cheap stuff as gifts which would just slow down the system.

What’s already in the game is the possibility to offer 24 hours of credits or resources bonus. I’ll change a bit how it is handled when I add the gift icon so the player receiving the gift can activate it when he wants to instead of immediately taking effect.

When it comes to offering items it’s pretty close to just trading them but having them go through the gift system still makes it special a bit. It really becomes a gift instead of just being a transaction. It might become a nice way to get new players into alliances. Join us and after 1 week we’ll offer you a brand new ship you can only get with Illium.

Another advantage to this system is that it will make it easier for me to send special gifts to players and those gifts will be noted instead of just being another entry in the inventory.

Exclusive content

Well not exclusive zones or story arc. There are no quests in Star Corsairs, there is instead open-world events. I tried a tiny bit to create static content in Golemizer and the experience was painful. It takes so much time to create and it’s so fast to go through it that I have given up this idea. Everything is dynamically created based on a database on scenarios. For Star Corsairs this approach makes sense and will make sense for everyone else as I reveal the story. In the end I just can’t waste time writing quests that players won’t enjoy anyway.

So what will be this exclusive content? It’s still in the work but probably alliance events. Want to only play with players in your alliance? Well you can try to get all your friends into an open-world event (though there’s a chance that some spots will be taken by other players not in your alliance) or you can simply order an alliance only event. Those events won’t provide better rewards but will lock a sector to your alliance only.

For now that will end here. Later I might add completely new galaxies but I need to take baby steps. The current galaxy will be more than enough for some time.

Update on progress

In the last update I made sure that the system called Federation Core (the newbies zone if you like) is balanced for the starting spaceship and the first spaceship most players are likely to craft. It means making sure there are enough missions with aliens that can offer a challenge without being frustrating. It means adjusting how much resources asteroids give in this system. It means adjusting the stats for spaceships so they are able to entertain players for some time before they feel the need to upgrade and so on.

While an MMO is never finished it is now at the point where there’s not much left before reaching beta (the point at which I’ll advertise the game and won’t reset data anymore). Well “not much” … I mean Star Corsairs is now finally a game so that’s a nice milestone! Here’s what I still need to do before reaching beta:

  • Fix bugs (well… that’s always part of an MMO to-do list but hey…)
  • Create new aliens
  • Create new spaceships and components for players (using the starting values I have balanced)
  • 2 or 3 new scenarios for missions. For now there are 2 (alien invasion, mine raw Illium) and I will surely add many more later but having 4-5 type of missions for beta would be nice.
  • Add a bit of PvP meat.
    • I’ll keep it simple at first but basically at first alliances will be able to “claim” sectors. That won’t prevent other players from entering them but let’s just say that the first iteration will focus on bragging rights.
  • Complete the gift systems

Surely I’m leaving out some stuff in this list but let’s just say that with that it would be enough to go into beta mode. Beta only means I’ll dedicate time to promote it but in the end I’ll still be adding new stuff.

Excitment, nervosity, …

Coding is the easy part. As much as we can say that building an MMO is not a simple task it’s not something I lose sleep over. Release day though… Well beside the usual stuff that will break at the wrong time the big ? over my head is “will people talk about it”. Then it’s “will people like it” but first it’s to get the word out there that gets me nervous.

Surely I’m better prepared than when I released Golemizer but back then I was also sitting on a well paid day job. I was probably less involved in the project because of that so it must have played against me. I have heard all the tricks and I have more contacts than before but it’s till blurry in front of me. I guess that if it wasn’t I’d be overconfident?

My wife will surely tell me soon something like “do your best and it will work”. I wish it was that simple but for sanity sake I’ll try to stick to that. No need to waste time on negativity.

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