Now that the poll has ran a couple days, I have gotten a pretty good view on those who are in favor and who are against the idea of developing a standalone game, and I doubt the percentage is going to change dramatically from as it stands now.
First of all, I want to thank everyone who not only has voted in the poll, but who have also voiced their opinion on the subject!
As it stands now, 82% have voted yes, and 18% have voted no. Bare in mind that this however, is a poll and not an election.
The last few days I've done a lot of research on the subject, reading arguments from both sides carefully and determining how feasible this is.
If I were to make a standalone Titanic game, there's a huge chance that my work would finally get some public recognition outside of this community, and thus direct more publicity to this mod as well, which would be a huge motivator. Also the next generation graphics would do a lot more justice on the 3D models as I can let my full imagination go wild without any technical limits that are bound to a 2002 game engine.
Also, if it turns out favorably, such a game could actually generate an income, allowing me to spend more time on production as this could compensate unpaid leave.
However, there is also a considerable downside to it, I found. The first issue is that this will indeed bring on extra work. A lot of it.
I won't put my name on anything that is halfassed, so if I were to make a polished game, there would be a lot of work to turn just a bunch of shiny 3D models into a... game...
But that's just the tip of the iceberg. (pun intended). Before it even gets to that point, I need to spend time working on a proper concept plan, take care of all legal aspects such as contracts and licenses, and make sure to set up a revenue system to securely and as effectively as possible link income to expenses. Not to mention a new social media outlet would be required and maintained as it is a separate thing from this mod. Also, although the pipeline for say, Unreal Engine, is a lot faster and effective, it's still a different pipeline that has no effect on the progression of the mod, thus possibly lengthening the production in that regard as soon as the 3D models are finished. Raise your hands if you want to wait even longer for this mod to finish. Exactly.
So although I am confident that I could do this, I fear there will be a huge risk doing this while the mod's development is still going on. That risk includes having to cancel the mod, and despite possibly winning a lot of new fans through a standalone game's publicity, I might be losing the very fans that stuck with me through all those years, who I consider invaluable.
Porting the mod entirely as a standalone game is a no-go as it would be a tremendous amount of work to make a replica Mafia spinoff with its corresponding environment, setting, characters, animations, AI and whatnot else. Not only would that not sell as a standalone game concept since I'm appealing to the same limited audience, it is a legal nightmare as I would be expanding on a franchise whose Intellectual Property ain't in my possession. One cannot simply do that.
Lastly, as a mod, despite me wanting to finish it in a couple of years, there is no actual pressure. All that changes however as soon as there is money into play. Because the moment someone has bought a copy of the game, be it through a KickStarter perk or through an early access release, I am obligated to provide new content within a set timeframe. I fear this added pressure could pull me back into the depression I spent so much time on getting out of, and prefer to stay out of as well.
So! What's the plan then?
At this moment in time, after careful consideration, I've decided not to work on a standalone title and to accept the 'underdog' status of this project. Meaning I'll keep my full attention focused on the Mafia mod.
That said though, this has given me a lot of food for thought, and having seen how much people are interested in a standalone game, I am not wiping that idea off the table. I will do some tests in Unreal Engine when I'm not working on the mod. If anything useful comes out of it, I could share it to public.
Alternatively to an actual game, I am open to the idea to release some sort of tiny preview made in Unreal Engine where players can simply walk around a 3D scene, to be either released for free or for donators since it stands free from the mod itself. That shouldn't be too hard to make.
Since a demo of this mod in Mafia is practically impossible due to the complexity of it, I am willing to have a let's play channel have a go at it when the interior is in to give people a preview of what it is like to play it. This channel has made a specialty of Titanic games and he would love to feature this mod. More details about it will be posted when the time comes.
Again, thank you everyone for contributing to the poll! It feels really good to have discussed this subject with you all. I do hope that those who voted yes understand my decision. If I felt comfortable doing it, I would really have, but currently, I think I would be biting off more than I can chew, causing stress for me, and disappointment to a lot of you. And I think none of us want any of that. :)
So, you can expect new updates for the mod soon as usual. For now, I'll try to implement as many areas into the game as possible before going on with modelling, so that for once we all finally get to see the ship in Mafia, instead on just some renders. So that the Mafia Titanic Mod, finally looks like... a MAFIA Titanic Mod. ;)