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Made it through almost three years without a price increase! It's been overdue for a while, though.
With the last months being full of rather research- and documentation-heavy
pushes, I've been just about able to keep up with the existing
subscriptions. By now, the amount of quality control and documentation I
found myself putting into this project has far surpassed the raw
reverse-engineering work. Back at the beginning of 2019 when I decided on
the previous push price of 30 €, I didn't have this blog nor the current
aspirations at code quality. Neither of these have ever been reflected in
the price, and I still find it hard to put a number on them. On the other
hand, I continue to dislike the typical Patreon model of no inherent defined
obligations on my part, and no direct association of the resulting work with
the person who funded it. You might have noticed that I don't use the word
"donations" anywhere, and instead refer to them as "orders" or "purchases" –
and that's precisely for this reason.
The result, however, has been a sold-out store for pretty much all of 2021. I can only begin to imagine how much potential revenue I've already lost from people who might have wanted to contribute at one point, but couldn't, and have already written off this project…
Raising prices is pretty much the only way to get the pending workload back to a more comfortable amount. I also thought about a two-tiered system: Have a documentation-less option for 30 €, and take 60 € for any push that should be accompanied by a blog post. However, skimping on documentation will compromise the quality of the code as well. Writing these blog posts presents another chance of improving it before release, which has made quite a difference on many occasions. And after all, this documentation is the one thing about ReC98 that people mainly interact with. As long as we haven't hit 100% RE, the actual code seems to be an afterthought, which is perfectly understandable: Why start work on a bigger mod or port now if the code is steadily improving in every aspect, and it all will be just a bit more maintainable in a few months?
But why go more commercial then, and especially now? If the recent attention
to spaztron64's PC-98 Touhou
collection package is any indication, ReC98 has a way bigger career
potential than the dead-end RL job I found myself in. Demand for fixed
translations and replay
support is definitely there – and given that these haven't been done so
far, it's very likely that I'll end up as the one to implement such mods,
especially if that should happen before reaching 100% RE or PI. People also
still seem to want* a port to IBM-compatible DOS,
📝 even though this makes no sense? But if
this is something you all want to pay for, then sure, why not.
And even right now, working on ReC98 sure beats writing junk software using ill-suited technologies for highly corporate clients, or living close to a world where academic papers are valued higher than working and maintained code. I am in fact very happy whenever I'm done with that for the day, and get to work on ReC98! Who would have thought.
So let's try to grow this into an actual business and raise prices to match demand, going up to a nicely divisible 60 € per push. If you all still manage to regularly sell out the store at this level and I get to raise prices again, I should be able to reduce RL work further and therefore raise the cap as well. Now that I've also clarified a potential route towards self-employment, I'm going to react to these sell-out events more quickly, and with smaller raises. So, no further immediate doubling in the future.
Now, will this delay the currently highly awaited 100% completion of TH01 past August 2022, the 25th anniversary of its release? We'll see once we're back to an almost empty backlog, after I'm done with the TH01 Sariel fight. I'm hopeful that such a price increase will give a new voice to the goals and priorities of less wealthy potential patrons. This crowdfunding is very much designed to be hacked by "microtransactions" – small contributions with specific requests that require other, larger generic contributions to be fulfilled – and I'd like to see more of that. 😛 And even if 60 € per push is already more than the combined fandom wants to pay, that means I can get the 📝 16-bit build system done before the first big 100% release. (Trust me, you really want that!)
I will still deliver the entire current backlog at the value the contributions were originally purchased at. Due to the way the cap has to be calculated, these contributions now appear to have doubled in value. All existing subscriptions will then pay for half of their original pushes starting with their respective December 2021 transaction.
Next up: A bunch of smaller website features, including:
- a caching strategy for static content,
- a third set of percentage bars to visualize the remaining technical debt,
- and, hopefully, some new payment methods that expand the number of countries I can accept money from. (Yes, this was requested at one point earlier this year!)