Aero Empire has now been put on hold, and it is unclear when or even if the project will be revived. Honestly, this has been coming for a while now - there were many problems with the project, going all the way down to the game's design. We didn't have a very clear description of what we were making, and while we had a lot of ideas, none of them were really hammered out. Because of this, the team did not share a common vision, as only the core members had a clear idea what the game was. Additionally, since we didn't hammer out the details, we added more features than we could actually produce given that we were just an indie team. As we began to figure out the details for each part we were working on, we realized just how much work was involved that we hadn't even realized before, and not only did this mean we took on more than we could handle, it also hit motivation big time, as the team realized that making the game would take a lot longer and a lot more work than they had expected.
Another big problem that came up was organization and communication, and lack of a leader in general. The team was originally democratic, where every team member took charge of their own piece. However, as the team grew, many leadership, organization and communication tasks became essential. Several team members took up those responsibilities, however, leadership skills were out of our area of expertise, and so a lot of team remained confused as to what was going on, and what needed to be done next. The lack of leadership also caused a lack of foresight, causing many changes, scrapped work, and even a rewrite of the entire game engine - all of which did not help team motivation.
Because of this, the team started falling apart, whether by members officially resigning, or members just disappearing or becoming inactive. While I tried to keep the project together by starting team discussions, and even starting the writing contest in an attempt to increase the interest and motivation on the project (and recruit a new lead writer), it turns out these efforts were not effective, and too late. Critical members of the team have resigned, motivation has almost completely disappeared, and the project cannot be salvaged without being completely revived, reorganized and re-designed. Because this may take a long time, or perhaps never happen, Aero Empire has been put on an indefinite hold.
I am telling you this for two reasons - one so you know what has happened to the project, and two so you can perhaps learn from our mistakes. While there were many things that went wrong in this project, that also means that there were many things to learn from. In both programming and leadership, Aero Empire was a big learning experience for me. There are many things I know now that I didn't before, and many things I would change about the project if I were to revive it or do it again. My hope is that perhaps other developers can read this as a cautionary tale, and learn from it just as I did.
As for the writing contest, the team fell apart when we were in the final stage of judging between the top two submissions, so I decided to finish the judging, as the authors who submitted work deserve at least that.
We had many great submissions, and the two finalists were very hard to choose between, as they were both so good. However, after reading through the top two submissions several times, we have chosen Marius Masalar as the winner of the contest, with Preston Thomas being a close second.
Congratulations to Marius and Preston, and I am sorry the team fell apart right as the contest ended. Good luck with your future writing, and you are welcome to stay in touch with us, as we could always use the help of talented writers for future projects or for when Aero Empire is revived.
Well, it's been great, but for now Aero Empire must say goodbye. Feel free to contact us though with any questions, comments, or support - as if we do try to revive the project, we will need lots of support and new talent.