Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Wormworld Saga App is Out Of Service

I'm finally able to share detailed information about the status of the Wormworld Saga App with you. I wasn't able to do so earlier because I tried up until the very last minute before the launch of the latest chapter to solve at least some of the issues. It turns out that currently there simply is no chance for me to solve the problems that have hindered the proper maintenance of the app for several months now.

So, let's get the most important - and painful - information out to you first: 

Chapter 6 will not be published in the Wormworld Saga App and there will be no update to the iOS-version of the app to fix the severe problems the app has under iOS7. Actually, the app is going to be pulled from the app stores today. The reason for this situation is pretty easy to sum up: the app does not generate as much money as is needed to maintain it. 

But I want to go into a little bit more detail because the way things developed over time include some interesting insights for anyone who's trying to make money with a custom app. 

As many of you might remember, the development of the Wormworld Saga App was financed through my first kickstarter campaign in early 2011. I gave 8000€ from the campaigns profit to the Spanish app developer/digital publisher Robot Media to create the app. We knew right from the beginning that this initial budget would only pay for the very first version of the app. All updates and chapter releases were expected to cause further costs and in order to cover those I entered a revenue share agreement with Robot Media. 

The app turned out very nicely, even received a reward at an international digital publishing expo, and through the advertising on the Wormworld Saga website we were able to attract a steady stream of new users. However, I had to realize pretty early that my initial expectation about the amount of money the app would generate was completely unrealistic. The app made only a few hundred euros in the first three months and while there was some growth over time this trend generally continued. The app made a significant jump when it was featured on Google Play and attracted over 150 thousand new users over the course of one week. During that week, the app generated over 3000€ of revenue and I thought that this had to be the breakthrough. However, revenue plummeted directly after the feature and although the huge number of new users raised the revenue that came with each chapter release, the total amount was still below what I had hoped for when I based the project on the expected income from the app and quit my job. Over it's total runtime of 3 years, the app earned me about 7000€.

Now, I don't want to sound as if this is nothing. In fact it's good money. It means that I got nearly all the money back that I originally invested, which is cool. And today I would be totally happy with an app making a few thousand euros every year. Unfortunately, the app didn't only start to bring in money but it also started to cost more and more money.

The costs of the app - bandwidth costs, bug fixes, updates, chapter releases - are carried by Robot Media. For them, making the deal with me was a risky investment and while I was happy with a few thousand euros from the app every year, their much smaller share of the revenue put them in a tight spot. Actually I really have to be thankful that they kept the app going for as long as it went. The situation began to become a real problem when Apple released iOS7 which called for a lot of changes in the code of the app. And not only that. In order to submit an update for an iPad app now you have to provide retina quality graphic assets. All in all the new iOS would have forced Robot Media to invest several thousand euros worth of man hours to update the app. They don't have that money and neither do I.

I already can hear someone saying "why not ask the fans for help?" but I don't think that this would be a solution. As I wrote above, the general problem is that the app costs more money than it generates. In a combined effort we might be able to lift it over the current hurdle but operation systems are updated every few months and the effort to keep an app updated will only increase in the future. There's a saying about riding a dead horse...

What is the bottom line of all this?

I still love the app and it hurts me to not being able to maintain it. I think it's still the perfect way to experience the Wormworld Saga. I pretty early had to realize that the app wouldn't be able to carry my project and since then I've switched over to books and merchandize to keep the Wormworld Saga running. I would never have pulled the plug on the app if it hadn't been absolutely inevitable. I would happily keep it running even if it wouldn't bring in any money at all, but I can't run it when it actually costs me money to do so. My budget for the Wormworld Saga is tight. If there should come a time in the future when the Wormworld Saga actually earns me more money than my family needs for living, I will totally consider to revive the app.

Let's close this with some direct words to the customers of the Wormworld Saga App:

I really thank you for your contribution. By buying the collector's editions of the chapters inside the Wormworld Saga App, you supported the project and helped a big deal. I'm really sorry that the app doesn't work on more recent devices that run the latest version of iOS. The app will keep on running on older iOS versions though and you won't loose your in-app purchases. If you are interested in the special content of future chapters, I will continue to publish it in The Attic, the subscription based member's area on wormworldsaga.com.

I'm happy to answer any questions anyone might have in the comments here on the blog.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Chapter 6 - The Smoldering Doom


I proudly present Chapter 6 of the Wormworld Saga Digital Graphic Novel!

Go read it on wormworldsaga.com!

I can't tell you how happy I am about this release. This is mainly for two reasons. First, it was a LOT of work and seeing it come to fruition, now that it is online and can be experienced be the readers, totally makes up for the long hours of work. The other thing is that I'm plainly happy to have reached so far. There's now 6 chapters of the Wormworld Saga and when I lauched the first chapter in 2011, I would never have imagined to reach this point in a foreseeable number of years. 

Chapter 6 is a very important chapter in my opinion because the story comes to a point where the scope of the narration broadens significantly. We learn about the different forces involved in the story, their contrasting views of the world and the dangers that emanate from them. And another thing finally happens: Jonas is put on his own path. In the last three chapters he took the comfortable role of the child that is clinging to the hand of a mother. He effectively declined the role of the hero and it was Raya who carried the narration. The Wormworld Saga is a 'coming of age'-story and the point where Jonas has to learn to stand on his own feet has finally arrived. This is a very satisfying situation from the author's standpoint because things get broken up and I now have much more room to play with the characters.

I really hope that you all enjoy the new chapter and I would really love to read your feedback about it here on the blog.

The other big thing, that has finally been launched, is the kickstarter campaign for the first English book edition of the Wormworld Saga:


Here's a direct link to the kickstarter page:

The Wormworld Saga Book Edition - Volume 1

I'm extremely excited about this because an English book has been the single most requested thing among the fans of the Wormworld Saga in the past years. You'll get all needed info through the video and  here I just want to point out that this is going to be a very nice book if we should make it happen and that your support would be greatly appreciated. I wanted to make this kickstarter campaign a great deal for everyone and so the price of $25 for the book already includes worldwide shipping and every single book will be signed and stamped. 

Ok, that's it for now. I've got some more info upcoming soon. There's exciting news about The Attic and we also had a wonderful launch event on Google Hangouts which I will publish on YouTube soon. But for now I just hope you enjoy reading Chapter 6. Please remember to spread the word about the Wormworld Saga. it would help a great deal!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Chapter 6 Release on Sunday, August 17th


Finally I can announce to you the launch date of Chapter 6 of the Wormworld Saga:

Sunday, August 17th, 10pm German time

I've installed a countdown on the website again to make it more easy for you to find out when exactly the launch will happen in your timezone.

I'm pretty excited about the launch already but I've also got some stuff to do before I'm actually ready for it. The translations aren't finalized yet and I've got to layout them as soon as they are finished. I've also got to create the special content and there're also some final adjustments to do on the kickstarter campaign. But I'm completely confident that I'm able to tackle those tasks before the launch and that we finally will have Chapter 6 on Sunday.

I'm also going to do a little experiment on this launch. I've setup a live video-broadcast on Google Hangouts which will start 30 minutes before the launch. The idea is to give everyone, who wants to follow the launch live, a place to hang out while waiting and I will keep the broadcast live for 1,5 hours after the launch so that you will be able to give me some feedback right after reading the new chapter. Have a look at the link! You can sign up for participation and you can already start to post questions there.

And then there's also some less enjoyable news to share:

It currently looks like I won't be able to publish the new chapter in the Wormworld Saga App. The issue is a little too complicated to explain it here right away and I will make a proper blog post about the matter after the launch. I just want to let you know that if you are eager to see the special content that comes with Chapter 6, the only way to access it in foreseeable time is to join The Attic. I'm really sorry about that and I promise to give you more information about it soon!

That's it for now. I'm going to be busy with wrapping everything up and on Sunday we'll all be able to sit back, relax a little bit and have a nice read!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Books!


While I'm working on the launch preparations for Chapter 6 I've got some news about new Wormworld Saga books. The second volume of the German book edition has just been released. Above you can see a picture from the Wormworld Shop where you can buy a signed and stamped "Artist Edition" of the book. On the right menue strip of the blog you will also find a link to Amazon.

And then I visited my publisher last Friday and got my hands on one of the books from the second edition of the first volume which has received a new cover artwork:


On the left you have the old cover and on the right the new one. Another destinction of the two editions is that the first one comes with a small collector's print of "The Journey Begins". This print is not included in the second edition. The first edition is not longer distributed but you'll might be able to find some of the first edition books at selected book stores. Currently we also still have a dozen of those available at the Wormworld Shop.

And to all international readers: there soon will be the chance to get an English book through the kickstarter campaign that's going to be launched together with Chapter 6.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chapter 6, Final Artwork Completed!


I've got a small production diary. On February 17th, 2014 I wrote this into it:

"Daniel of the future, when you are reading these lines and Chapter 6 happens to be finished, then please give yourself a nice and good slap on the back! Because right at this moment I really can't imagine to ever finish this task."

Today I've painted the last panel of Chapter 6. I know from my older blog posts that with every chapter it felt weird to have actually crossed the finish line. It's such a cut if there's no next panel to paint. And this time everything is heightened through the fact that I've never worked so long on a single chapter. My longest production until now has been Chapter 5 with 440 hours. On Chapter 6 my counter currently stands at 680 hours. And I've still got quite a bit of work to do. When the layout is finished, the cover illustration painted and the special content created, I will arrive at over 700 hours for this chapter. Over half a year will have passed since my first brushstrokes.

The next few days will be the reward for these long months of drawing and painting. There's nothing like having all the artwork at your disposal and preparing it for publishing. When I browse through all the paintings that will make up Chapter 6 I can't help to jump up and down in anticipation. I just can't wait to show them to the world. I've put SO much love and hard work into this chapter, almost more that I could handle.

I don't have a preview image for you this time as every single panel of the fifth milestone would be a spoiler to what happens towards the end of the chapter. But now you won't have to wait too long until the chapter will be published in all its glory. I still can't commit to a fixed date yet because the translations are still worked on and I also have to prepare the upcoming kickstarter campaign that's supposed to be launched together with Chapter 6. But I can assure you that I'm not wasting a single minute and that the release will happen as soon as possible.

You know, because there's no one awaiting the launch more eagerly than me!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chapter 6. Milestone 4 reached!


Oh, what's that over there? Could it be? Yes, I guess it's ... the FINISH LINE! I can SEE it!

So, milestone 4 is reached and that means that it's only a couple of weeks now until all the artwork for Chapter 6 will be finished. During that time I will also have to finalize my texts, work on the English, Spanish and French translation, do the layout and the extra features for the app and The Attic. AND, there's going to be one more thing! I've talked about it here and there but I guess it's a time to announce it somewhat officially now: Together with Chapter 6 I'm going to launch a kickstarter campaign for the first volume of the English book edition. So, everyone who's waiting for the English book will be able to help to make it happen very soon. More on that later.

I'm not yet ready to commit to a fixed date for the launch of Chapter 6 but we're pretty much shooting for a late July/early August release here. I actually can't wait for it to happen. I want to send this behemoth of a chapter into the world and see what it does.

As for this milestone:

Milestone 4 always is a tricky thing. It's really hard to enjoy the fact that 80% of the work is done because I can only think about the finish line that's coming really close. My mind wanders to that glorious day not so far in the future when the last panel will be painted. That's going to be huge. But you don't arrive there by accident. It's hard work until then and every panel and every milestone counts.

I've spent nearly 100 hours on milestone 4 and you're seing me fixing the drapes there because the entire milestone takes place inside the throneroom of the Azure Palace. I guess I don't spoil anything if I'm telling you that. I think that it can be expected from a storytelling standpoint that we will meet the King of the Center. But what will this meeting be like? Maybe the preview image will give you a hint about that:


Please let me remind you that members of The Attic receive additional preview images at each milestone. There already are 14 preview images available over there!

In some other news:

Video2Brain recently released the last one of the three video trainings that I've recorded this year. This time the video is particularly interesting for fans of the Wormworld Saga because it's a character design training in which I take Jonas to demonstrate the different aspects of my character design process:


There are several outakes from the 2 hour training available on YouTube and I'd especially like to point you to this one where I talk about some aspects of Jonas' personality and how those are reflected in his costume:


Again, I'm sorry that these videos currently only exist in German language.

That's it for now. I'm going back to work to finish that last milestone!
 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Chapter 6, Milestone 3 reached!


I'm slowly fighting my way through the monster that is Chapter 6. Today I've reached the third milestone and effectively finished 60% of the total illustration work.

I knew in advance that it wouldn't be as much work as the last milestone but this segment of the story wasn't easy either. I don't spoil anything if I tell you that together with Raya and Jonas we will attend a public proclamation and that means that I had to paint ... a couple of people. No, in fact I had to paint TONS of people and that was a challenge on its very own. I came up with some nice workflow enhancements but still it was a lot of work.

I've spent 116 hours on this milestone. Together with the first two milestones we are at 464 hours now and this already is more than I've spent on the COMPLETE artwork of any other chapter. I know, I'm beginning to sound like a scratched record. Yes, Daniel, it's sooo much work. We get the point!

But I've got to tell at least SOMEBODY. Most people around me don't even understand what I'm doing all day long. My neighbours only see me bringing my son to the daycare in the mornings and taking him back at lunchtime. I keep telling them that I'm working on something that's published on the internet but I guess they think I'm unemployed anyway.

Ok, let's not go down that rathole. Instead, here's the preview image for this milestone:

Jonas and Raya join a public proclamation on the palace square
As always I'd like to point out that members of The Attic receive additional preview images. I've published 4 preview images now here on the blog and the social networks. The Attic members already have 11 preview images! If you'd like to give me a little bit of support, please consider to join The Attic for a mere 9€ per year. You'll get plenty of extra content as a reward!

In other news:


I'll be attending the International Comic-Salon in Erlangen next month. I'm going to sign books and draw into your sketchbooks and I'm going to speak in a bunch of panel discussions concerning self-publishing and webcomics. If you are there come to the Tokyopop booth or to the panels and say hello!

And there's another video training published by Video2Brain. This one is about drawing with simple geometric bodies and how to combine them to more complex forms. Again it's in German only.


You'll find more info about this training on the Video2Brain website where you'll also find some free preview clips.

Alright, that's it for now. Two more milestones to go! We're getting closer!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Chapter 6, Milestone 2 reached!


Man, you can't imagine how I was looking forward to reaching this point. You might notice that I'm pretty late with this milestone update. The reason for that is that I was caught completely off guard by the amount of work that this second milestone threw at me. I kind of anticipated that this portion of Chapter 6 would mean some extra work. I mean, after all we're entering the biggest city of the Wormworld with a lot of people running around and I was going to present the city with lots of panorama shots. To make things worse I also decided that it would be fun to dive deeply into a crowded bazaar scene. But you know, I've remembered the detailed backgrounds of Chapter 3 and those had no substancial effect on the time it took me to illustrate the chapter. So, I thought that I might just need to throw in a couple of extra hours and that would be it, right?

WRONG!

Turns out that it is a HUGE difference if you're painting people and architecture as opposed to trees and vegetation. You paint a couple of bushes: done in a few strokes. You paint a couple of people: everyone needs a pose, a hint of a face, clothing. You paint a background of trees: just suggest the foliage, eyeball the perspective and you're done. You paint a huge cityscape: everything needs to be in perspective, houses need roofs, windows, signs, everything in different colors and values, you're constantly changing brush sizes, work with tons of layers - it drives you insane!

You want to hear the bottom line of all this?

Alright, let's have a deep breath!

I've spent 76 hours on the first milestone of Chapter 6 and for the same amount of screen space in the second milestone I've spent ... 162 hours.

One hundred sixty two!

To put this into perspective: the total painting time of the ENTIRE Chapter 1 was 154 hours. Think about it: I've spent more hours on this milestone than on Chapter 1 which is more than double the size.

Maybe now you can imagine how it feels to have wrestled that beast. It took me 6 weeks to do it (I've spent one additional week during that time to record video trainings for Video2Brain). When I'm browsing through the artwork I still can't believe how insane I was to put so much work into that comparably small space. But it will show and it's been absolutely worth the effort. I can't wait until the last milestone is finished and I can finally put everything into the big layout. It will be overwhelming for me to see it all come together in one big picture and for you beloved readers it will undoubtly be a special feast for your eyes.

Speaking of which, here's the preview images from this milestone:

Jonas is thrilled to leave the transport ship and explore the city

Jonas and Raya enter the city of Kingspeak
I've intentionally chosen panels that don't show anything of the insane imagery that took me so much time. I don't want to spoil anything. If you're longing for some more material though (also without spoilers) you might consider to join The Attic. There's a brand new preview gallery with lots more images there!

In The Attic you'll find much more preview images than on the blog or Facebook
Ok, on to the next milestone then! There's still some complex artwork lying ahead but I don't think that any of the last three milestones will take me as much time as this one. However, due to the long time I've spent on this milestone the release of Chapter 6 will most likely not happen at the end of May. And, with three milestones still ahead, I don't think that it makes sense to commit to a new release date just yet. So, for the time being let's just say "it's done when it's done".

In other news:

I've already mentioned that I've spent some time recording new video trainings for Video2Brain. The first of these trainings has just been released. It's a training about drawing in perspective for beginners. As usual, the training is in German language. Here's a little trailer:


The three hour training is available at the Video2Brain website and as always you'll be able to watch some free sample clips there.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Chapter 6, Milestone 1 reached!


Alright, the first milestone of Chapter 6 has been reached! The first 20% of the chapter are illustrated now and it took me a little bit less than three weeks to do that. That's lying within the timeframe I've expectated for a chapter as huge as this one.

It's such a good feeling to start once more into this adventure and to see the journey of Jonas and Raya unfold. I have to admit that it wasn't too easy for me to start my work on the first panel though. It's been nearly one full year since I've finished the last panel of Chapter 5 (on March 24th, 2013) and it felt a little bit unfamiliar at first. However, when the first panel was finished it all came back to me and I enjoyed this first 20% of this chapter enormously. Unfortunately I obviously can't talk much about what's happening in the chapter but it certainly is no secret that in the beginning Jonas and Raya are still on the transport ship. I loved to paint all the different people in the background and I even started to tell little stories with them that you most likely won't even see in the standard version of the graphic novel because a lot of it will be covered up by word balloons. However, I really enjoyed putting these little extras in there and I'm already looking forward to entering the big city of Kingspeak where even more people will be running around.

As always there's a sneak preview of this milestone for you:


 Aboard the transport ship, Jonas and Raya face an unpleasant surprise.
A NEW thing is that there now exists The Attic, a place where the most generous people on the planet gather, discover all sorts of exclusive material about the Wormworld Saga, and regularly support the project with a small subscription fee. To give you an additional incentive to join this group of fine people, from now on you'll find additional preview images with every milestone update in The Attic.

Ok, the next milestone will be delayed by at lest a week because once again I'm traveling to Graz, Austria to record new video trainings for Video2Brain. Although I'm generally not fond of delaying production, I'm really looking forward to that trip. And if you happen to be located in the vincinity of Linz, Austria, you might like to visit the Nextcomic Festival on which I will appear on Staturday, March 22nd to give a presentation about the Wormworld Saga on stage. I'd love to meet some fans from Austria and talk to them! And I'd be more than happy to sign anything you happen to bring with you.

Ok, on to the next milestone then!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Chapter 6, Title Announcement


Man, every time I kick off the illustration phase of a new chapter - starting at 0% - I just can't believe the amount of work that's lying ahead of me. And this time this is especially true. As you can see in the milestone illustration above, Chapter 6 is going to be a MONSTER of a chapter. It's pretty much the size of Chapter 1 and 2 combined! It even makes the giant Chapter 5 look ridiculously small. And the beast has a name! The title of Chapter 6 of the Wormworld Saga is:

Chapter 6 - The Smoldering Doom

There you go. What a fitting title. Everything will go down. I will die trying to battle this beast.

Just kidding! In fact this chapter is so long for a very good reason. Since there also exists a book edition of the Wormworld Saga for some time now (in German and French as of this date) I started to wonder how many pages future books should have and how many chapters to put into each one of them. The first book contains the first three chapters which add up to 90 story pages which in fact is a very nice chunk to read. The second book is going to be a bit shorter containing Chapter 4 and 5. For the third book I'd love to have more pages to read again and so I decided to make Chapter 6 and 7 bigger, so that combined they will aproximately fill 100 pages.

The crazy thing is that although I intentionally gave me more room to "play" with this time I don't feel like I had more room that I needed. The different sequences in this chapter are still very concise and I often had to shorten things up in order to not run out of space. There are some more atmospheric shots in this chapter compared to the other ones and I even have some scenes in which there's no dialog at all. But from my point of view there's no "wasted" space in this chapter and I really think I wouldn't have been able to make it any shorter. Maybe it's true what they say: you'll always fill up the space that you're given.

Ok, so from now on there will be milestone updates again. With preview pictures! Man, I'm looking forward to that!

Stay tuned!