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Maerd - The last Save Point demo

Logline: A cat is trapped in a surrealistic maze, and must find a way to escape.

This video is the starting point. At the end of each video or "cell" you will see choices. Make a choice, and the film continues.

I originally had planned to wait until this film was finished to post it. But I haven't posted an update in a month, and this last test/demo won't be ready to publish for 2 or 3 months. I didn't want people to thing the project had died off, with a 4 month gap between formerly weekly demos. We're not going slower, we're actually moving much faster than ever before.

For people following the project, this is the first trial of a working "standalone mini chapter". It's designed to help us field test the system in practice, so we can begin refining our approach to things like cell transitions, interconnections, timing, and so many other aspects.

Though quite primitive and clumsy in comparison to the desired final product, this will be the first time you can see the system up and running as intended.

As of this moment, it is filled with errors of all kinds, typos, bad edits, lazy scoring, truncated plotlines, and the like. I'm posting it because from this one link, people can follow the entire construction process as it happens over the next few months, and I can just update this post as new content is added, rather than posting with each added cell. There will likely be about 50 cells or more in this demo. Right now there are 10, some incomplete or unpolished.

You can start to get the idea of what this will be on the technical side though. Obviously the actual Save Point story will feature human characters and dialogue. In this case we have created a small, minimalistic story for purposes of gaining experience in a final deployment scenario.

As the next few months pass, the maze will grow, develop a coherent storyline with more action and events, and become a more polished experience overall. Right now most plotlines stop unexpectedly. As of this post, the second floor of the mall is the end of existing content. The experience so far is mainly exploration, with the more dramatic parts still in development.

Across a year of explanations, I frequently had difficulty getting across exactly what this would be, and while in terms of the larger story, that's still true, I think that what it is should really click for a lot of people here with this demo. I'll update this post every time 10 or so more cells are added to the chain.

Any feedback is welcome, but be aware that this is purely a workprint in development, and we are aware of many obvious flaws, such as the misspelling of the main title, lol.

Check back every few weeks, on this same video, and you'll find new doorways in places you visited before, often opening up into worlds you've never seen.

About half the current content is behind the link "the city portal" so if you make one of the other choices at that point, you may want to go back and pick that one, since most development has been down that path so far. If you do get into the story, please be patient, as it takes about 12 hours of labor to create each cell, so this will build slowly.
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Just a random dalies reel, production of shots is now pretty much constant. Right now, based on a few people that tested it, a person can get lost in the maze for about an hour. It will need to be a lot bigger.

So here's what the math looks like (simplified guestimate writeup)

I spend 1k on ads, and 1k prize money per cycle. For ROI I need a minimum of 1 million hits per cycle.

1k in ads will probably get about 220k people to the entrance.
of that 220k, 200k will quit after the first couple of videos, leaving 20k viewers. Ad revenue extracted 220k x 1 or 220k impressions.
Another 80% fall out after 15-30 cells, maybe the first or second time they hit a loop. Ad revenue extracted 20k x 22 or 440k impressions
the remaining hardcore viewers actually determined to win the money regardless how long it takes, or simply enjoying the game, try to complete the maze.
let's say I make the minimal path to the treasure chest 200 steps, average path 300. Some would not complete, so let's call it 150. 4k x 150 for 600k hits

So conceivably, by those guestimates, I could see maybe 2300 return on each cycle. 15% return, monthly or weekly, dependent on demand. Returns could be snowballed by scaling up ad reach, and as AdWords data aggregates I'll be able to optimize keywords towards demographics that tend to play the game longer.

Here's where it gets interesting. There are a lot of adjustments that can be made to affect how this whole formula works. 1k prize money is not a big deal in America, but there are places where it is. While ad payouts are lower in these areas, the view count and channel boost are the same, meaning that it would drive up search rank globally, even if this was only a huge hit in Sierra Leone.

The protagonist here is a cat, and it doesn't talk, so why is that so important from a financial perspective? Because with only a few paragraphs worth of text to translate across the entire product, I can rapidly redeploy into other languages with minimal expense.

It's also wide open to engineering the ROI. If I'm loosing money, I can make the maze more complex, if I'm making money, I can raise the prize money, increasing the draw of the labyrinth. My suspicion is that this would be a huge winner somewhere on earth, a perfect match for some culture or economy, and finding those hotspots would be trivial with sufficient advertising budget.

This is probably boring, but I give so many purely visual updates, that I thought a bit about the business side of the project might offer a change of pace.