Saturday, June 30, 2012

The campaign description of the crowd funding campaign to resurrect ADOM development

Once more I'd like to thank everyone who so far has provided input on the planned campaign and helped to improve my plans. It's highly appreciated! Since this worked so well for pledge levels (and the general campaign ideas) and folks suggested it I'm now posting my current campaign description for discussion. It's again a text I have changed about a hundred times by now and I have lost my personal impressions... I no longer am able to judge it appropriately. Please comment, provide feedback and criticism, etc. as I'd like it to be the best description possible.

Here we go (the text after the video on a standard Indiegogo project page - the short description on previous pages being "I dream of releasing new versions of ADOM (Ancient Domains Of Mystery), one of the most successful roguelike games ever. At least one, preferably a lot more."):


My name is Thomas Biskup and I am the chief maintainer and developer of ADOM (Ancient Domains Of Mystery), one of the most successful roguelike games ever. Details can be found in the forums, at the official website and on the blog, by searching on Google or just by downloading the latest versions and playing it. ADOM was initially started in 1994 and flourished until November 2002. Then real life intruded...
ADOM development has been in hibernation for almost ten years and I regard crowd funding as the last and best hope to breathe life back into the development of ADOM. What does ADOM offer besides a very intense story line in a fantasy world?
  • A random game world where each game is different.
  • Loads of races and classes allowing for very different play styles.
  • Dozens of quests and story lines to be able to compare player skill.
  • Hundred of monsters and items, many enhanced randomly.
  • A corruption system that both grants you more and more power while at the same time bringing you closer to damnation.
  • Spells, prayers and mindcraft.
  • Multiple highly different endings that might alter reality itself.
ADOM in this way managed to engage hundreds of thousands of players over the past eighteen years! 
But it was left in an unfinished state. Bugs, loopholes and other major and minor problems have been identified over the years but I never had the resources to fix them. This campaign intends to remedy this situation and support the development of a new release of ADOM, focussing on perfecting the game. And you can by supporting this campaign help to prove that roleplaying games with ASCII graphics can be as successful as the big brand names in business today... or even more.

If this Indiegogo campaign reaches the minimum you will see a new release of ADOM (1.2.0) with
  • new stable releases and installers for all supported platforms (Windows, Linux, MacOS, hopefully Amiga)
  • bug fixes for as many known bugs as possible, game balance patches for many known loopholes and more elaborate reactions to many actions currently only handled superficially
  • UI improvements (more modern roguelike games here really have paved the way and ADOM can get much better there)
  • various graphics (title screen, some special screens for special situations but no tile support!) and sound support (sound effects, title score, theme scores)
  • a revised manual
If we surpass the minimum by quite a bit we might be writing history: there are planned stretch goals including Android versions of ADOM, a scripting module for user extensions and finally the release of the ADOM source code as open source - community management, building and training included!!! With dozens of intermediate stretch goals that will be much easier to surpass - let yourself be surprised! I will announce the first stretch goals as soon as we manage to reach the minimum funding goal.
I also will offer the most requested feature of them all: The final stretch goal (a pretty high one - so we have way to go; mentioned on my blof) in the campaign is the release of ADOM as open source!

An amazing team has gathered to support me in continuing the ADOM story: Welcome Jochen Terstiege as co-developer, Krzysztof Dycha as the lead artist and Oneiros Dieguez the lead composer and sound magician! (all three will be involved [and paid] to help in continuing the development of ADOM). Thanks to all the fans out there who keep up the faith and support the cause!

IMPORTANT: This is an all-or-nothing Indiegogo campaign. I do not believe in delivering inferior work with insufficient funds. Either enough money is raised to do an absolutely great job or we'll forget about this. So your money only will be used if enough overall funding is accumulated to finance the further development of ADOM. Otherwise Indiegogo will refund your pledges at the end of the campaign.

It's IMHO the only viable crowd funding alternative for Europeans (and I'm a German). It allows me to determine if there is still sufficient interest to continue working on ADOM or if I rather should focus on its sequel only (ADOM II, completely developed from ground up).

Easy. You pledge an amount of money you choose (see the sidebar to the right). The pledge will be withdrawn from your account immediately. If the campaign feels to reach its goal (e.g. the minimum of $48.000 is not reached) your pledge will be refunded at the end of the campaign.

Fist and foremost by pledging. And as importantly by spreading the word and sharing the campaign via the Indiegogos tools, on social networks, blogs, forums - basically everywhere. Talk to friends and other gamers about it, share the link. There once were hundreds of thousands of fans out there (if not millions) but many of them are passive ADOM players who for various reasons won't or can't keep up to date with current ADOM development. Let them know that today is the day! You are the ADOM tribe and you will determine the further fate of ADOM!


  1. Nicely worded overall, with positive speech and good general descriptions.

    Some points:
    - Typo in "blof" (should be "blog")
    - With Android stretch goal mention iOS too
    - Be more definitive about an Amiga release, since you've said already that Jochen will ensure this happens, and Amiga fans will be rightly pleased (gruevy has convinced me that this is important!)
    - Change "no tile support" to "no in-built tile support", as technically you can run it with tiles using NotEye
    - Mention next to the points about bugs and unfinished features that OSes have changed and compatibility has become a problem
    - Change "we'll forget about this" to "we'll have to forget about this" (just softens the wording a little)
    - Change the mention of stretch goal revealing to say they'll be shown when the first target is approached, or half achieved, or something like that - if the stretch is shown before the minimum then that's more incentive for people to donate
    - Add a section before "Team & Credits" entitled "Why Invest in Me?" saying something like "I have put many thousands of hours (if not tens of thousands) into ADOM development in the past, and shown my ability to produce an original and polished product that has proved massively popular. All this I did whilst asking only for postcards from fans (of which I have gratefully received a great many). But life has changed, and though I want the game to remain free, my time has become more precious, as is the time of others. So I'm calling on those who love the game and want to see it improved to invest to help keep ADOM alive. I place tremendous value on ADOM, and I hope its fans do too. Please put your faith in me and I will show you what a seasoned developer can do. ADOM will remain free, but your investment will help give it a new lease of life."

    1. Wow, great feedback. I'll take all that into account. And I'll hire you to write my future speeches - the last part is amazing and better than I ever could have phrased it!

    2. Heh, happy to do any speech writing. And any in-game bits of writing you want. Reminds me, I must write some new Mad Minstrel songs for the future release... ;)

    3. I'll be happy to include them :-)

      And at some point I goes we are going to meet that guy (or an ancestor... who knows) again in ADOM II.I'm looking forward to that, too ;-)

    4. I agree, all except for the word 'whilst'. People who say whilst should be promptly smacked :)

  2. Typo: If the campaign feels to reach its goal -> fails to reach ...

  3. Could you be clearer on what the money will be used for? Is it so that you can afford to work on the game full time? Will you be hiring anyone?

    1. I explained this in various parts scattered throughout blog post in the last couple of days. Most of the money will buy time to develop the game. Both Jochen and I will be working on the actual coding but as we have pretty time-consuming (but decently paid) real life jobs we kind off have to get out of that routine more effectively to be able to work on ADOM. Additionally I intend to hire Oneiros and Krys (the other two team members) to have them work in a paid manner on sounds and imaging for various things in the project.

      In the end the money will be used though to do all the described stuff in ADOM (fix bugs and loopholes, do better and more up to date ports, add sounds and images, enhance the UI). Through raw man power.

    2. Thanks. Haven't really been keeping up with recent developments, but I owe many hours of fun to ADOM. You can count on my support.

  4. Regarding the pledge levels - I think there is a bit of a gap above the $250 pledge.
    What about a $500 "Oracle" level? All of the previous rewards plus get one question answered by the creator himself?
    I know I have lots of questions about the inner workings of ADOM :)

  5. I like what I see. I'll probably contribute. Not going to say publicly at what level.

    I think you nailed the tiers. I'm glad a few of my ideas sounded like a good idea :)

    I think it's pretty well-written, too. It's positive, short, and interesting. I like it. I really only have one major suggestion: you will need to list some of the UI improvements you have in mind. You don't need to list the games they're from, but I think a bit of clarity there will help.

    If you don't mind, I'd actually like to rewrite a bunch of this to try and really make it shine. I think it's very good, and I could help you make it great. It's what I do. If you're interested, reply here, pm me on reddit or facebook (just sent you a friend request, and my initials are R E), or drop me an email at I'll send my revision to you directly, and you can decide if you want to use any of it.

    Also, if you're considering writers for ADOM or ADOM II and you don't let me apply, I'm going to be very sad.

    Oh, one last thing--if it doesn't work out on Indiegogo and you want to try on Kickstarter, I can point you in the right direction to set up an LLC in Nevada, which is the easiest and lowest-taxed of the 50 states. It's remarkably easy. I would only be giving you directions and helping out as needed--nothing would have my name on it, and I'd be helping for free, of course.

    1. Thanks. I am interested in polishing if it happens today. Friend request accepted and I will mail you the latest version in a couple of minutes.

  6. To me, this reads as saying you are going to re-release a game you've already made, but need $48,000 to do it. Is this the case?

    1. *Sigh* No, if it were that simple.

      Jochen started work on the iPad version of an ADOM release months ago and he's got a decently working prototype up but there's lot's of work left. Additionally he has started fixing bugs (as you can see on the ADOM issue list) but there's still a lot of work left. As he's already spent something like 300 hours or so this year on ADOM (besides having a life and full time job - figure in the about 3 hours each and every day when you work 40+ hours _and_ have a normal life) and is getting to a point where it's becoming more and more actual ADOM-related things it's time for us to invest a lot more work together.

      We estimated the costs of what still needs to be done and sadly there still is a lot to be done. And we want to add music, some graphics, etc. and have other team members ready to support there... but I'm not going to repeat the pitch.

      So to answer our question once more: No, this is not the case. We want to get an already released ADOM 1.1.1 turned into a polished, as bug free as humanly possible, compatible with modern OS, extended with new features ADOM 1.2.0. That's what we ask money for and the amount is based on the prototyping we have done so far to get a better estimate for the real efforts (remember: it's complex software that nobody has touched in almost ten years).

    2. Then you should state that very clearly in the description. If one person says that it seems like you want to re-release judging from what you have written, then you can count on many, many more thinking the same thing. Make it super clear!

      On a side note: link please!

  7. Sounds awesome! But why is there no mention of iPad version in the campaign description, if its actively being worked on?