I started a survey back in November 2012 asking fans of the Rebuild series what they’d most like to see in the next game. It was advertised on the Rebuild 3 ideas wiki which at first was mostly visited by players from Kongregate, and later also mobile players. I collected the first 100 responses after a few weeks, then the full 1500 after six months.
1. & 2. Demographic
The most surprising fact to me was that the results from the first 100 were mostly within 5% of the results of all 1500. The only variation was that later respondents were more likely to own the mobile version and pay more for Rebuild 3. No shock that these things correlated, but what else did? Do those people who’d pay more want something different? Well it turns out… no. They all want the same things in Rebuild 3:
3. Play style
Most people (66%) play Rebuild 2 until they get every building in the city. I’m more inclined to stop after the first ending or when I know I’m going to win, so this is good to know.
The consensus is that the art should be more polished, and bloodier is better. This latter might be because I called the other option “cuter”… but at any rate this is the only place where I’m going against fans’ wishes and instead making the art less gritty and gruesome. This is a) because I want to and b) to appeal more to new players who might have been turned off by the creepy art in Rebuild 2.
Almost a no-brainer. Fans want more complexity and more numbers. Me too!
While everyone can agree that Rebuild 3 needs more random events, they’re split between wanting more funny or more serious. Well… more of both it is then!
It surprised me that 45% like the combat from Rebuild 2 just fine – I personally thought it was a little dull. 33% are interested in seeing it go more tactical, which works for me because I’d like to take it halfway there. I’m this out: zombies that approach and attack the fort as usual, but you can see and preemptively attack them or shore up defenses where you know they’re going to hit.
8. More of what though?
Everyone wants new buildings and events, but nobody cares about new endings. Makes sense if most people play until the whole city’s saved. This works for me; I’m thinking of taking alternate endings out entirely and showing (very simple) cutscenes for major achievements instead.
9. If you had to choose…
Overwhelmingly, if fans had to choose between deeper fort-building strategy, better combat, bigger cities, more events, or better graphics – they’d pick deeper strategy. Second comes more events/plots/endings and both will I provide!
10. Put a price on love
Believe it or not, I was pleased to see only 40% of fans wouldn’t think of paying for a Rebuild game. I know most of them (75%) have only ever played the free Flash versions of Rebuild, and I assume as with all surveys there was a bias towards respondents with more spare time than money. Of those who would pay for a downloadable pc version, the average was $10, which sounds fair to me.
Of course I’ll still release a free version of Rebuild 3 which will be lighter in content and bells & whistles, but won’t cut off halfway or do other annoying demo things. I’m still super nervous about backlash from either those who pay then find out it’s free, and those two don’t then find out they’re missing content. But for the most part people on the ideas wiki have been supportive about it.
And heck, maybe I’ll reach a totally new group of people with this game who’ve never even heard of Rebuild before. With that firmly in mind, I go to do my fans’ bidding.