The Flock population FAQ

August 12th, 2015

The Flock Population FAQ

Hey there everyone!

Recently we’ve made a radical announcement which you might have noticed. This raised a lot of questions and we’re here to answer those. First things first, the news got spread very wide and far over the internet. A lot further than we ever expected, which meant the message got quite diluted. So no matter what and where you read it, what you read here is what’s going to happen and why it’s happening.

The Flock is a multiplayer thriller in which you can scare your friends. Everybody starts as an agile monster from a species called the Flock, but the goal of the game is to grab and hold the Light Artifact which transforms you in the hunted Carrier. Only the Carrier can win the game, so you want to get a hold of that Light Artifact. The twist is, the Flock are not allowed to move in the light of the artifact or they will be burned to a crisp in mere seconds. If they choose not to move, they turn into a stone statue and are invulnerable to the light.

If you’ve payed attention, there’s two things that can happen to the Flock. They either die (e.g. by moving through the light) or they transform into a whole different creature called the Carrier. In both scenarios there is eventually no more Flock. If this were the real world it would mean the Flock is a tragic race doomed to extinction. We want to convey that story into our multiplayer.

Q: What is the population?
We’re going to launch the game with a population of Flock. Earth has become a dark and barren place where only the Flock still roam and create the planet’s present population. They have started a struggle that revolves around the Light Artifact which will lead to their demise. With each Flock that dies, earth’s population will drop until the Flock are no more.

Q: What happens when the population reaches 0?
The game won’t be up for sale anymore and it also marks the beginning of the end. Players that already have the game in their library can partake in the next phase which will have a climactic finale.

Q: Why do this??!
As we’ve mentioned before we want to convey the extinction story as something to be experienced by the players in our multiplayer game. But we also have an important second reason, so bear with us for a moment.

Most indie multiplayer games lose their player base within a year. Even heavy hitters such as Titanfall and Evolve have a fast dwindling player base. The most popular games such as League of Legends and Counter-Strike still have a somewhat anticlimactic ending of their players’ experience. Because in the end at some point – and this can be after five years or two months – you’ll stop playing because you either got bored of it, you’ve seen it all or you, or your friends have no longer time to play.

We want to tackle that problem, and make sure The Flock ends with a climax after which the game will be fondly remembered. Much like a lot of single player experiences where you have a huge battle or a boss fight.

We have three design goals for this game. We want to make a:
1. scary/tense game
2. immersive experience (that you really feel like a monster, or being hunted as the Carrier)
3. and do it in an unconventional way.

The population plan ties into these design goals and strengthens all of these. We wouldn’t be doing this if we were making a competitive shooter or the next moba. But for The Flock it makes a lot of sense. Also, these three design goals – the things that we think makes our game special – won’t last forever. At some point the game will stop being scary, immersive or unconventional, whereas competitiveness lasts forever. You can’t keep playing a horror game forever, but it doesn’t mean the game has no right to exist.

So here’s the question we asked ourselves: isn’t it worth sacrificing the ability to replay the game after say two years’ time? What kind of experience will these players be getting? They would come online and find no one to play against or just a few players who are either really good or very new to the game. That’s not a fun player-experience. So isn’t it worth sacrificing that ability in order to improve the experience for most players when most players are playing the game? We do think so.

Q: So, how big is the Flock population?
215.358.979 Flock lives . This takes into account the optimal experience we intend to deliver, the lore, the average play time, amount of deaths, refunders, regular griefers, the sales we wish to make and the time we want the game to be active so everyone can take the time to enjoy the game.

Q: What counts as a flock death?
A Flock is dead when:
-It dies by burning in the Carriers light.
-It becomes the Carrier.
-It falls into an abyss.

Q: What stops me and my friends from suiciding for 2 hours straight and then ask for a refund?
Nothing really, we believe suicide attempts won’t have that big of an impact. Remember, you have 215.358.979 lives to take. We rather hope you have fun scaring your friends and enjoy the extra content we’re planning to release. Also, there’s a respawn time.

Q: When is the game going to end?
We could say for example the game will last a year, but really we don’t know. We leave it up to the players, as it’s their battle and experience. Safe to say, the number is substantial and we don’t expect it to end in some mere months.

Q: What about hackers or bots?
Hacking or using bots is not an accepted way of playing the game. If we notice somebody hacking or using bots to rapidly decrease the population, we will revert all the lives (even the legitimate ones) that the hacker has decreased from the population followed by a warning. Repeatedly hacking or using bots will result in a ban.

Q: Will it be possible to add lives?
No, lives cannot be added unless we release the game on another platform such as PS4 or Xbox one.

Q: If The Flock is released on another platform, will we share the population pool?
Yes, players from all platforms will tap into the same population pool as the finale is something to be experienced only once by the players of The Flock.

Q: How much will The Flock cost?
The Flock will be priced at $16,99 – €16,99. Valve helped us settle on the price for different regions. These will be revealed soon.  If you pre-order or buy the game during launch week you will receive a buddy key for free!

Q: Why are you creating such a risky campaign?
The Flock isn’t meant to be and won’t be for everybody. We at Vogelsap like to focus our experience into something unconventional and adventurous, which means we cater to a certain audience that is interested in such experiences.

Q: How long will you support The Flock?
We will support the game during its entire lifetime as long as we have enough funds to provide ourselves a living. Every bit of money will first be put in supporting The Flock.

Q: What kind of support are you talking about?
As long as we can support the game we will release all gameplay related content and support for FREE. This includes the ending.

Q: What about late buyers? How will they experience the climactic finale?
We have a plan that we think is fair for people joining late. Also, late buyers will have the opportunity to still enjoy the game during the climactic finale.

Q: I’ve purchased the game but the finale is over! I haven’t had the chance to play the game at all because…
Valve standard refund system applies. When the population reaches 0 the game won’t be available for purchase, so you can’t make the mistake of buying after the finale has begun. We believe that there will still be enough time to play the game during the finale.
If you find yourself with having spent money to buy The Flock but without being able to play the game at all, send us a message and we’re sure we can figure something out.

Q: Will you really end the game after which the game will never be playable again? 
Yes, we will stick with what we’ve said. If we would make this a re-occurring event, it would be far less special for the player experience. 

Q: You haven’t answered my question!
If you feel that we didn’t answer one of your questions regarding population or purchase of The Flock, then feel free to send it to us a message at: info@vogelsap.com or visit our forums at www.forums.vogelsap.com

We want to take this risk and explore this path in a way we can. In the end we hope players to offer a one of a kind experience. This means the game won’t be for everybody and we are fine with that. We’re open, transparent and explicit about our population plan and would hate to see someone buying The Flock without knowing what he/she is getting into. So if you don’t like this idea, than we recommend not buying the game. Of course we like your money, but this is not about getting the best business deal. It’s about creating authenticity and exploring new ways for a game to deliver entertainment. You can be a part of that.


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GDC was everything we hoped for

March 11th, 2015

We went to GDC to achieve these two things: get feedback on the game from other (respected) developers, and get the press to play it. It’s safe to say that we succeeded at both of these! Me and Jeroen are still recovering from the tough week and the jet lag, but I wanted to give you all a round up, in no real particular order, of the press attention The Flock got.

VentureBeat: Student project or not, The Flock has a ton of potential
USgamer: Indies to Watch: The Flock, Vogelsap’s Creepily Brilliant Asymmetrical Multiplayer Game
Destructoid: The Flock is an intense, scary game of flashlight tag
gamesradar+: 12 interesting things we learned at GDC 2015
Cult of Mac: Become predator and prey in multiplayer creep-fest, The Flock
4gamer.net: [GDC 2015]オランダ生まれの非対称型アクションゲーム「The Flock」のシンプルながらも独特なゲームプレイに注目
Indie: Jeroen Van Hasselt – Vogelsap (The Flock)
Mogura: GDCで見つけた、発想がキラリと光るゲーム7選
Niche Gamer: The Flock is Like Fighting Weeping Angels with an Incendiary Flashlight
Rock, Paper, Shotgun: Hands On: The Flock
IGN: The Flock is a Playground Game Gone Wrong
Eurogamer: Claws-on with asymmetrical multiplayer monster game The Flock
Yahoo7 Games: 10 awesome upcoming indie game
HardcoreGamer: Hunt and Be Hunted in The Flock
NoFrag: The Flock à la GDC

The Flock is also mentioned in this USgamer article about what they learned from GDC; read the part about the saturation of indie games.

Last but certainly not the least: GameSpot made a video in which The Flock is called laxative of the year. This video contains never seen before footage. Enjoy!

I’ll update this post as more articles start coming in.

Over and out!

– Peter


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The Flock will be playable at GDC

February 27th, 2015

Here’s a short message for you all! First, we’ll be going to the Game Developers Conference next week, and you’ll be able to find us (Peter and Jeroen) at the Indie MEGABOOTH! The game is playable there all week, so please stop by, because we’re very interested in what you think of it.

Second, to warm you up for your session with the game: some new screenshots. Or if you’re not going to GDC: enjoy these new screenshots!

flock 2015-02-27 18-22-05-06 flock 2015-02-27 17-27-07-47 flock 2015-02-27 17-30-28-36 flock 2015-02-27 18-22-24-78
We’ll be sharing a lot more of The Flock in the coming weeks and month, leading up to the release. Stay tuned!

– Peter


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The Second Weekend

November 7th, 2014

The second weekend of the alpha is finally approaching! We hope all of you are ready for it. Gather your friends and gear up, because the next batch of keys for the testers of last weekend should be heading to you as I write this. The people who signed up during the last week should also be receiving their keys.

Thanks to all your helpful feedback and bug reports we managed to fix a large amount of bugs. Keep it up! You’re all helping us make this game better and better. We had a bit of uncertainty in a few areas of developing the game (the cause of problems isn’t always apparent!), but again, thanks to your helpful feedback we resolved a lot of issues. As you might be able to imagine, this week felt short. We managed to pull of twice the amount of work in nearly half the time!

We are also very interested in how good you guys actually our, so we made an achievement where you can prove your strength! Beat a developer (we have a little Vogelsap logo next to our names when we play the game), and you’ll receive the ‘Devmatch’ achievement. Note: this means you have to win the game. Losing the game but having more points than one of the Vogelsappers means you still lost ;-). If you find a way to get out of the level bounds you’ll receive an achievement too!

Here are some of the changes we’ve done: the frame drops (that look like lag spikes) should be reduced as well. We’ve also added a chat to the lobby screen. More scary sounds are working now. The Flock attack has been changed somewhat – it requires more skill now, so get practicing!

You can find the full changelog for alpha version 0.2.0 here.

Happy Flocking!


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Alpha launch day!

October 31st, 2014

We have finally released our closed alpha!

First off, we would like to thank everyone participating in the alpha to help us make this game the best it can be. We can’t wait to hear your feedback! So what has happened since our previous blog post?

We went to Firstlook (a Dutch gaming expo) where we showed our game. We received great responses and feedback, and we also found a lot of bugs that needed fixing. We had fun doing it though, and I’m proud to tell you that we’ve managed to fix all of them (we think)! It’s been some long days for us here at Vogelsap HQ, but with the release of the alpha today we created something of which we are proud to show to you and the public. Last week we were especially tired, but luckily the fire alarm went off to keep us awake.

Also: our forums are now online! We’ve already talked to some of the alpha testers there, but we’d love for more people to join the discussion. At the moment we’re creating a new trailer. A short clip of the trailer, in which you can see the Carrier charging an optional objective can be seen below!

Anyhow, you can see the results of our hard work in the alpha itself. We’re very much looking forward seeing all of you enjoy what The Flock offers so far. For those who don’t have an alpha key yet, you can still sign up as we plan on expanding access over the remaining weekends. Or, if you happen to have a friend who does have alpha access, he/she will receive an extra two keys right before the next weekend. So you might want to start nagging.

See you online!


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A short Q&A about our closed alpha

September 26th, 2014

So yesterday was a very exciting day for us at Vogelsap HQ. We announced the closed alpha and launched the sign up page. Within one hour more than 100 people signed up. Within a couple more hours the counter reached 300. We honestly didn’t expect it to go this fast. We actually can’t wait to launch the closed alpha, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. If you haven’t signed up yet you can do so here.

I have seen some questions about the alpha all across the web, so I’m going to answer them for you. If there’s anything you still would like to know, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments section or shoot me an email at peter@vogelsap.com.

The Flock Slums level

What do I need to play The Flock? What are the minimum specifications?

In order to play The Flock you are going to need the following:

  • A Steam account
  • An internet connection

You are also going to need a PC, obviously. We have figured out some arbitrary minimum specifications required, but they could very well be off. This is one of the reasons why we’re doing a closed alpha though! The game should run fine if you have mid-range gaming pc built in the last five years. However, please keep in mind that we still have a lot of optimizations to do.

We tested the game on an Intel HD 4000 (an integrated graphics card) with a resolution of 1280×720 and the game ran at about 35 fps. On an NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT with 512 MB (in my five year old laptop), 720p too, we got the same results. The game uses about 800 MB of RAM, so you will need at least 2 GB of RAM in your system. If your PC is decent, it will run and be playable.

For which platforms will the closed alpha be?

For now the closed alpha will only be playable on Windows. The game will release on Mac and Linux (did we just announce that?), but we probably won’t make builds for those platforms during the alpha.

When is the alpha playable?

We will launch the closed alpha on October 31st (Halloween), but we’re only letting you play during the weekends. This is not because we don’t like you (we do like you, a lot actually), but this is a multiplayer game, and with these kind of games it’s very important to have a large amount of players online at any given time.

If we only let people play in the weekends then you will most likely find more people to play with/against. It also makes it easier for us to join you and collect your feedback, which will help us improve the game during the weekdays.

It’s a downer if you want to play a multiplayer game and there are no matches available.

For how many weekends will the alpha run?

We don’t know yet, but it won’t be a lot. We’ll do a timely announcement for when we close it.

What is included in the alpha?

The alpha will feature one level, which is a different one than the one we showcased at Gamescom in 2013. You can see it in the screenshot above!

With how many people can I play the game?

Three to five people. With two people you’ll get a stalemate situation – Carrier shines the Light Artifact on the Flock and won’t look away, which results in the Flock player not being able to move – and with more than five players the game loses its intimacy and intensity. You can join games that are already in play though, and you will be able to invite your friends to a lobby if they have access to the alpha too.

Can I keep the game?

No, sorry. After we’re done with the closed alpha the game will disappear from your Steam library.

Can I stream the game or use it for YouTube monetization?

Yes and yes! Please do! We’d love to see it, so if you do please let us know!

That’s it. Again, please don’t hesitate to post a comment or contact me if you have a question. Cheers!

– Peter


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Welcome to our development blog everybody!

September 22nd, 2014

Let me introduce myself first: I’m Peter and I take care of all the business we deal with when making our first title The Flock. I also handle press relations together with creative director Jeroen van Hasselt. But mostly business. I used to do some programming too, but then there was too much business stuff to do.

We’ve got something very exciting to announce very soon, and us putting up this blog is part of that. You’ll be able to read something interesting about our project at least once per week. You want to know more about how we programmed the Light Artifact? We’ve got you covered. You’re interested what we did to design the game? Stay tuned! Maybe you’d like an introduction to the team members. We’ll make this happen, so keep checking this blog if you like these sort of things. I’ve also got an amazing gamescom story to tell.

For now I’ll leave you to it! Have a great week, and I’ll write to you people soon.

– Peter


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