We were chatting with our developers about the concept for the game, gameplay, etc for a few months. In the background, I was working on getting some original music written for the game. The first person I thought of was my friend Sam Hulick, one of the award-winning composers of the Mass Effect video game series, among other things. He’d used Stunning before, so he was familiar with failed payments too. I thought he’d be a perfect fit!
My initial email to him in April:
I hope all is well!
We’re starting a campaign at Stunning to help a million people to learn more about failed payments, as we’re still finding that many people don’t know that failed payments are even a thing until it’s too late.
As part of that, we’re making an educational game to teach people in a more fun way than the old “send them some educational emails or a PDF” way. They’ll literally be fighting a churn monster and using different strategies to recover failed payments before the churn monster destroys their business.
With that said, I thought it would be awesome/hilarious if we could say that Mass Effect composer Sam Hulick did the soundtrack for the game. It’s a 5-10 minute long game with 5-6 levels. Not sure if it’s something you’d be into (or if action game soundtracks are even something that you’re interested in doing) but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask (worst case, you get to have a laugh today). Of course, I’m not asking you to do this for free. I know that your time is very valuable.
Happy to send more details about the game if you’re interested.
Hey Richard, nice to hear from you!
I chuckled at the “people don’t know that failed payments are a thing” – so true. I remember being that person, saying “We’re not really gonna need this, are we?” And now, several times a week, dunning emails get sent out to our customers. 😂
The game idea sounds like it would be fun – I’m definitely interested! Music is usually added to a game pretty late in the process, so definitely hit me up as you’re getting close to wrapping things up (say, somewhere in the middle of end of beta), and I’ll see how my schedule looks. I’m definitely booked solid this month & May, as we’re getting close to launching ReelCrafter v2. Finally. Hopefully, things will calm down after that and I’ll have some breathing room. If it turns out I don’t have time, I’m happy to connect you with a composer in my circle of friends.
What else can you tell me about the game? How far along is it? Feel free to send any details you want to share.
Thanks for the reply! It’s good to hear from you too, Sam!
Haha yeah! So many people come to us having recently discovered that failed payments are a thing.
There’s a project definition document here that explains how it’ll work.
But basically, the player will be taken through multiple levels fighting the Churn Beast. If it grows too large, your business (and the game) is over. Each level will introduce a new weapon. The weapons will literally be failed payment recovery tools (generic emails, custom emails, SMS, etc) and the player will be able to see them become more effective at shrinking the churn beast as they get further along. As in real life, you can never truly defeat the churn beast, but you can keep it at a manageable size.
I’m open to you being as involved as you want to be in terms of seeing details as this thing comes to life! You can just lurk in the Slack channel if you want. That’s probably easier for everyone! If you’d like to join, we have a Slack group going on with the devs where we’re discussing the game/nailing things down. Let me know!
I played the prototype, and I like the direction this is going! I said out loud “pay up, jerk!” as I was shooting the credit cards. 😂
In June, I followed up with Sam to see if he might be free to write some music for us. He was not. He’s building the new version of his SaaS, and building a SaaS is hard.
Hey Sam! I hope all is well.
Just following up here, as I think we’re about to get a new prototype of the game with most of the art included. I think we’re hitting the home stretch. Do you think you might have some time to write a killer tune for us? I know you said that you were all booked up in April and May, so I’m just checking in.
But when a door closes, a window opens…
Man, I’m so sorry.. I wish I did have time. We’re behind schedule a bit, and looking at launching in June or possibly even early July. I had to go back and make some architectural changes that set me back a couple of weeks. These days I literally only have about 1-2 hrs of leisure time to myself a few times per week!
If I can help connect you with other composers that I know & trust, I’m happy to do so! Just let me know.
Good luck wrapping things up, and I’d love to check out the final product!
Aw man! It would have been great to get to work together, and I’m pretty sad about it, but I totally understand.
I hope you can finally get V2 out the door soon!
Yes, please connect me with other composers that you know and trust. I’d appreciate that.
I know.. the “work with Richard Felix on something” checkbox on my list remains unchecked, sadly.. for now!
Could you please send me a brief blurb (layman-friendly) about your game and any screenshots that I can share with my composer buddies?
Is this what you need? Let me know!
The game serves to illustrate the drawbacks of having no system in place when subscription payments start failing, and demonstrates the effectiveness of using a failed payment recovery system like Stunning to recover your payments. The goal is 90% to educate people about failed payments, and 10% to offer Stunning as a potential solution for them.
Players will cycle through several levels of play, applying more and more effective strategies to recover payments with gameplay similar in style to “bubble shooters” such as Zuma.
Each level will be similar, so that players can see each failed payment recovery technique being more effective on more or less the same failed payments.
As the player attempts to recover all the payments, the Churn Beast, a wandering entity on the screen, attempts to gobble up failed payments before you can recover them. Your task as the player is to recover as many payments as possible.
The game will have a nautical theme.
Yessir! I’ll see if I can find a buddy who is free & interested!
Nice. Thanks man!
Spoiler alert: He did find someone, and that someone is really good. More on that later!