Game Announcement
05/11/2021

Now Updated!

Stage Zero, State of The Nation & The Future

Welcome to the new updated version of this post! Tap here to view previous version from July

Quite a lot has happened since the original post, the player base has grown massively, and I am now comfortably covering my non-labour game costs which is fantastic!

A big thank you to everyone that has supported the game thus far! Without it, I would have been forced to diversify my time into other projects by now or have gone back into a conventional workplace. This is amazing, however for it to be sustainable longer term there is a lot more work to be done.

As part of this I am pleased to announce the release of the Development Roadmap! & Game Sustainability features into the game. Members have already been given a preview of this but I wanted to share it more widely so everyone can gain some insight into what is planned and how sustainable the future of the game is looking. I am not greedy, but I do need to look after myself and my family.

These can both be accessed via either the Support or Help sections of the website when logged in!

Development Roadmap

To give something back to the community I have released a new development roadmap page which gives transparency to upcoming features in the game. This gives an indication to what is likely to come in the short, medium & longer terms as well as a backlog for other things that may come later! This is all subject to a lot of change and is an enhanced version of what was previously listed in the original State of The Nation post back in July.

Game Sustainability

To deliver the features and tweaking that the game needs, it needs to be sustainable. To be sustainable it needs funding, which has been provided by the generous support of members over the last ten months or so. However for the game to exist for, hopefully, years to come the amount of money needs to drastically increase. This is entirely anticipated, and I am overall very pleased with the generosity shown by the community so far – thank you!

As with many things, this will take time to achieve and there is a lot of work ahead of me. The easy thing would have been to slap some goals into Patreon and Ko-fi but this would a) have been messy since they do not have visibility of each other b) been a bit boring. So instead I have created a dashboard with goals on the website itself!

The game sustainability page shows the progress towards the goals & milestones with some descriptions as to why this is necessary. It also gives an indication to the approximate level of effort that is going into the game from myself at that moment in time.

This is all very nice but what is in it for me?
  • You can now easily look at what is coming up in more digestible format.
  • Members can also see what I am working on.
  • Gold Members or above can see how far along I am.
  • You will also hopefully gain more understanding as to how much work goes into a project like this.
A Little Background

Up until March 2021 this game has been on the back burner for my entire career. This means MotorNation is effectively now over 16 years old. It has mostly been kept private during that time. It has of course evolved but consequently much of the interface is now broadly over 10 years old. This ironically fits into the aesthetic and era of the game, so I need to be slightly careful to update the game without losing what helps make it unique and befitting of the time.

The Deeper Background

There are permutations of MotorNation going past even that, certainly to the early 2000s and the basic premise can be traced back to the early/mid-nineties…. There is an offline incomplete prototype version in Java circa 2003, there was once a front page made in Pascal (MS DOS) and originally, I used to write out car adverts from the Auto Trader into Microsoft Works - the DOS version.

Tap on the below to read more details (if you wish)!

This gave me a full day per week to work on MotorNation, which allowed me to start ripping the (legacy) game apart and build it back up again with more modern techniques. This was a terrifying prospect – equivalent to demolishing your own house, hoping to rebuild it better than before, but not entirely knowing if it would ever get finished or whether it would be an ugly mess at the end of it. It was never going to happen doing it one day a week, with a lengthy commute and especially with a then 3-year-old becoming part of my family and living with me when my partner moved in.
I kept the four-day working pattern and the slow progress continued
The pace on the game improved noticeably, now working on it two days per week. By December 2019, I managed to get the newly re-built game working again forming the start of a closed internal Alpha version. This re-built game is the foundations of what we have today and the features I have added since then would have taken far longer had I not taken the decision to re-build the game earlier.
After four months or so of refinement and with no real advertising.
After many more improvements including Wrenchy as part of the new tutorial system
Showed that there was a distinct interest and market for the game. In early January 2021 I got my first paying member that was not my wife (thank you)!

It became apparent in January 2021 that the pandemic, living in isolation with a new-born, an aborted house move, schooling a by then six-year-old at home had unsurprisingly taken its toll on us as a family. With my wife shortly going back to work and me being frustrated at a lack of autonomy, variety and flexibility from my own, the then current arrangement did not work for us any longer. I had enough and I reluctantly left my job. My first break in employment since my first full-time role in 2005 when I started my career in web development following my Degree in Computing.

At the start of the new fiscal year, April 2021, I declared myself self-employed and began working on my own business, Software Taylors. Much time and expense has gone into setting it up and much of my working focus has thus far gone into MotorNation, learning all the different skills I need to run my own business and marketing the game.

Where We Are Now

As of 5th November 2021, the game sits at approximately 1400 activated players and more than 500 accounts logging in and playing in the last two days. However I am increasingly concerned about the multiple accounts in the game and I am actively taking steps to tackle this. I recognise some players wish there were more to do in the game each day, however this was never truly the intention as it was designed to be played a little bit - often. I would however like to provide a faster paced version of the game, but this will take time and in the meanwhile I am considering ways I can draw compromises.

Multiple accounts have never been permitted in the games rules and they do actively harm the game in the following ways:

  • It stops me from clearly being able to see how many people are playing the game.
  • It massively reduces my capability in determining how effective my advertising campaigns are, especially since I would like to avoid invasive tracking commonly used across the internet.
  • It reduces capacity and increases the difficulty for other players, reducing their enjoyment and possibly turning them away from the game.
  • It increases the time I must spend tackling people breaking the rules which ironically reduces the amount of time I have available to investigate making either a faster paced version of the game or making tweaks to give people more to do in the game.
  • It consumes more server resources for fewer people.

As I have mentioned previously I am working on this and do have something in place which gives me an idea of the offending accounts. So just because you can currently do it, does not mean that I do not know about it. Multiple accounts are in some ways a “back handed” compliment so I would like to understand better why people are doing this and what it is that made them want to do it in the first place. I do not want to spoil people’s fun, but it is a multiplayer game and I need to balance the experience for everyone.

I would love to continue investing my time into MotorNation exclusively as I have been, but I do need to support myself and my family, hence the new game sustainability page.

Some examples of major features since the beginning of the year include (tap to read more):

Players can list their cars in the classifieds and buy and sell to other players.
Main feature being that MotorNation citizens will now also buy cars from players (computer players). This took a lot of work and necessitated consulting maths and statistics textbooks!
And much time spent setting up my business
  • ‘Run what you Brung’ special event, increase in special event numbers and further improvements to race systems behind the scenes.
  • ‘Road Rally’ & Race Restriction Update. The game now allows special events with specific requirements to increase the level of depth in the game and is the first step to providing far more variety with the races.
  • I got the first Gold Members!
  • Players can now reset their accounts if they mess up.
Introduced 200 player car pack to celebrate
  • Odd Jobs feature release! Players can now undertake jobs in the classifieds and begun overhauling the classifieds UI for future expansion.
  • Can now view advanced car stats so people know which cars will be eligible for different odd jobs.
  • First Members Choice car pack.
  • Game hits 400 players, providing constant usability and bug fixes as more players join the game.
  • I launched the first ever Member Car Pack Poll! This took a fair amount to effort after realising that there did not seem to be any polling solutions out there that offered the functionality I needed.
  • Had to move my server after my old provider was effectively being phased out.
  • Launched Ko-fi memberships!
  • Four new cars, three new vehicle upgrades and two new special events as part of one Bumper Content Pack!
  • Launch of Garage Rental feature for members!
  • A vast influx of new players from the Automation community and a significant increase in financial support – thank you!
  • Launch of Discord channel.
  • Upgraded server.
  • Three new job types and job-related tweaks.
  • Release of the first ever member chosen car pack!
  • Yet more special events, including van racing and track days to increase single race capacity.
  • Player Challenge exploit fixed following a tip-off from a couple of players – thank you!
  • Launch of Platinum and Diamond tiers, which were far more popular than I envisaged – thank you so much!
  • Increased price of standard membership from £1 to £1.49 a month for new sign-ups.
  • Formal launch of Own Car Submissions for the Gold Member tier and above.
  • Release of first ever Gold Member Pack of Gold Member submitted vehicles!
  • Release of Members Choice Car Pack III with community support.
  • Further tweaks to job system.
  • Buffs to pay outs in C class and below single races to help newer players.
The Immediate Future

Due to my self-employed nature, I need to make my own income. I love spending time on the game, improving it and adding content – it is my passion. But I of course need to make money. This is the only way the game will become sustainable and with features delivered at the sort of pace I would like to work at.

As previously mentioned above, the new development roadmap and game sustainability metrics show how this is going!

The Future

The short answer is – it depends on the numbers of paying members. The more and higher paying members there are, the more time can be spent on the game and the more resources I can utilise on it. Having lots of players is fantastic, but there needs to be a certain level of paying members to make the project work and be sustainable long term as per the goals.

I have been stepping up my project management game a lot recently and I have been working on improving my longer-term planning. I have implemented the first version of the basic roadmap, but it will be difficult to determine realistic time scales until I know what time I have available, and therefore budget, to spend on the game. This relies on my promotion of the game, the game being good enough for people wanting to pay to support it and of course a degree of luck!

In Conclusion

Firstly I hope you have enjoyed my frankness and honesty and have not found this post arrogant, greedy or needy (if you did that was not my intention!). I am trying to be realistic between what I would like to do and what resources I have available.

I would like to re-iterate a big thank you to the existing players, especially those that have and continue to contribute towards membership, I am not exaggerating when I say every penny makes a difference right now! But it is amazing to be making any money from doing what I love so that is fantastic, I just hope I can continue to give the game the love it deserves.

The game is growing all the time, the numbers are looking good and I am pleased with the progress being made but there is still a long way to go.

If you have read this far then, thank you for taking such an interest in my rantings and I hope you enjoyed an open insight to how things are going with me and the game.

Thanks as always for your support, for helping make this happen and as always keep safe!

Andrew T.

In memory of Grandad
© Andrew Taylor 2021
Helper