Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Avadon: The Black Fortress Released.


On Monday, after fifteen months of work, Spiderweb Software released Avadon: The Black Fortress.

I'm writing this on Wednesday, after a week spent in a pretty continuous state of total freaking out. I am always nervous when releasing a new game. But a new game in a new world with a new system? After spending an unusual amount of time on it? I've been going kind of insane.

For those who are interested, early sales are quite strong. I'm starting to suspect that we aren't about to go out of business. And yet, most of the early sales are to die-heard fans. The question is how many new people will play it and like it. I think that it's solid, the world is cool, and the game itself is a lot of fun to play. But I might be wrong. It happens all the time.

Releasing a new game also means that I have to read my forums, which, as I have written before, is painful. Even for a solid game, most of the things that are written will be critical. It's only with time that I can get a read on how good the good parts are.

This is also when I have to take the lumps for unpopular but necessary choices I had to make. The biggest complaint is that the game has no keyboard movement. Our other big series, Avernum, takes place on a fairly simple grid, so keyboard movement is easy to implement. Avadon takes place in a larger world with no simple grid for the characters to stand on, and keyboard movement just doesn't work as well as the mouse, especially for distances that aren't very short. But some people really want keyboard movement, and I can hardly tell them they are wrong. I just have to take the criticism and hope that the game is good enough.

I've also been criticized that the game text is too small, and I'm taking that to heart. I am going to work on using a larger font for dialogue and special encounters, which should help a lot.

But now I'm rambling. Releasing a game is only the beginning of a long process. Maintenance. PR. Sequels. I hope you try it out. I hope you like it. And I hope Spiderweb gets to stay in business.

On to the Windows port (hopefully out at the end of April). And the iPad port (I have no idea when this might be ready).

51 comments:

  1. It's great! Even people who normally pir8 games are buying it! *cough*

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  2. Could you talk about the iPad port a little bit? I think you've mentioned its existence once or twice before but haven't seen much else on it. ie:
    Is there any content to the port yet, or is it just something you've decided you need/want to do?
    Do you expect pricing between versions to be identical, or are you going to jump into the iPad shoot-for-the-bottom environment?
    How do you expect the interface to work?

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  3. Well done Jeff! Glad to hear it's starting strong, and I'm eagerly awaiting the Windows version.

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  4. I haven't played any of your games before, but I've been following this blog for a couple months now. I can't wait to check this out once the windows version is released.

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  5. An IPad-port is on the way? WOW!
    Forget GarageBand, iMovie - your game might be the application that will sell the IPad2 to me!

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  6. No/reduced grid in Avadon? Some of the screenshots such as http://www.spiderwebsoftware.com/images/avadon/AvLizFight.jpg do show a grid. Are the pictures just dated or am I misunderstanding the nature of the changes? I don't have a Mac to try the current demo. You could upload a gameplay video, I guess.

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  7. Awesome! Congratulations, Jeff. I look forward to trying the demo soon.

    You've been a huge inspiration. I'm hard at work on my first game right now and your articles and interviews have been a big help.

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  8. Congratulations! I'm really looking forward to the PC version.

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  9. Several hours in and it's already pretty damn good! :)

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  10. I'm buying it regardless of what anyone says, when the PC game comes out that is.

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  11. Ugh on the no keyboard movement thing, unless you've designed the rest of the UI to be playable with one hand. Oh well, I guess I'll just wait and try the demo when the PC version shows up and see how much that impacts things negatively.

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  12. Loving it so far Jeff. The only problem I have is that new areas are "given" out by NPCs, feels like there's not much spontaneous exploration.

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  13. So when is the PC version showing up? I've never played one of Spiderweb's games but I've been following the blog and commenting here and I feel like I owe you something for the quality content you're putting here. I figure the best way to do that would be to buy one of your games (one that isn't part of a long running series and is technologically and design-wise "up-to-date."

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  14. I fixed the bootloader for my little-used Hackintosh install just to try out Avadon. Gameplay-wise, it's as if you took Avernum/Geneforge and injected it with a lot of Dragon Age-y influence. Which is probably a good thing.

    Really looking forward to the iPad version.

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  15. Could someone, anyone please post a brief gameplay (or better, a Let's Play) video to Youtube? I'd love to see it in action!

    Thanks!

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  16. I'm unemployed, but there is still only 24 hours in a day. I'm playing a lot of Battleheart on my iPhone and my big game is Civ V for the next two or three earth cycles. ;-)

    Congrats!

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  17. An IPAD port! Wow!

    www.gamedesignersunite.blogspot.com

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  18. I bought a couple of your games in the past. Most of the Exile serie. Some Avernum. I admit I didnt buy all of them because some of them just felt like more of the same but this one looks completly different which is really great.

    I really look forward seeing Avadon released on PC. An android version would be great also!

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  19. Make a Linux port and I'll buy it!

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  20. End of April?!?!!! Aaaauuuugh, it's going to be a long two months...

    Jeff, I love you/your games tremendously, we've been together a long time (E2 days...), and I couldn't begin to estimate to the nearest month just how many hours have been spent underground exploring, caring for, fighting, bleeding & dying for, just flat out living in this incredible mental world that you've created without regretting a single minute spent there, so please take this in the spirit intended .... you're killing me man. You really need to figure out a way to be able to release both platforms at once*.

    I realize that you have very legitimate business reasons for doing things they way you have been (not having staffing to fix the inevitable problems that will be there, being able to present a cleaner W version after fixing the M bugs while getting the W version ready, etc). But I think that would be more than made up for by the goodwill generated. As a W user I miss out on what is essentially a party atmosphere on the forums with the release of a new game/chapter. I have to stay away from there to avoid Spiderweb's version of the twits shouting 'Snape kills Dumbledore' in threads that have nothing to do with the new game (granted they get stomped on quickly by the Mods but I know that in the weeks in between the two releases I'm sure to run into at least one spoiler if I go to the forums).

    While getting through the game isn't a race against others, it is kind of like a shot to the 'nads when, on the first day I can enter the new world/go back to the forums, I'm faced with a couple dozen pages worth of topics of questions covering the entire game from people who've already finished. While there certainly is joy in getting to visit a new game/chapter, subconsciously I feel that I'm WAY behind the average user & I need to rush through things to catch up. Obviously that isn't true but the impression is there. I don't want that impression to handicap my playing/enjoyment. By knowing the general time frame that a new Spiderweb game will become available, I tend to arrange my schedule so that the inevitable series of all nighters won't impact what I have to do in real life for those initial first few days. I KNOW that I'm going to be lost to the world for that time frame & I love that I'm still able to do that after so many cynical decades on earth. That feeling of wonder & the illusion of being a part of the initial expedition comes crashing down when, after the initial help/hint is needed for an early part of the game, I check the forums, get the hint that I needed, but then see pages of end game/'what's next' discussions. Suddenly I go from intrepid explorer to the dumb kid picked last for dodgeball games.

    (part 2 coming up as apparently I've rambled on too long....)

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  21. (Part 2)

    As I said, I love/am in awe of the games that you put out & will be there yet again buying the full game on the day that it's released. In recent years there has been a huge media buildup/coverage of those people who wait in line to be one of the first to see/get a new Harry Potter movie/book. I've taken my kids there so that they can experience the party atmosphere of a bunch of nerds looking forward to something new (while boring them with stories of how I was at the very first showing of The Empire Strikes Back waaaaay back when....). The buildup to your new games, to those of us who've bought into & immersed themselves into the world you've created, while much smaller in scale, can be just as exciting. However the excitement of being part of something new & special just isn't there for a Windows user, that party was over two months ago & we're stuck partying with the guy sweeping up the elephant poop after the parade has passed by.

    I don't know what the future hold for you/Spiderweb & I hope that it's nothing but critical & financial acclaim. But it would be nice though to be able to participate in the initial excitement that a brand new game generates...

    *Better yet would be to release Windows before the Mac version. On their best days Mac/Apple users can be insufferable little shits, but when they think/know that they are getting one over on the Windows users the smugness level hits unbearable levels....

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  23. I have to confess I was unaware that Avadon had come out so recently, or of the existence of Spiderweb until a few days ago. I apologise for my ignorance! As you say the majority of your early purchases have been made by die-hard fans, but I can say here is one new fan. I happened upon Avadon when searching for an RPG for mac. I downloaded the demo, loved it, so was compelled at the first opportunity to buy it. I am only a few hours in, but so far it is excellent. I really enjoyed your attention to detail in regards to characters' back story and the ability to explore such a large map, it seems almost endlessly - there is just so much to do! My heartfelt thanks, and I hope that there will be many whom fate leads to come across Avadon and enjoy the fruits of your labour. Congratulations

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  24. omg...i just realized...YOU are redbeard!!

    nice :)

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  25. Avadon's first weekend coincided with my wife being out of town for a conference. I bought a bucket of KFC on Friday evening to sustain me for the weekend and didn't leave the house until this morning. It was like I was 16 again, spending nearly every waking minute playing a videogame ...

    I love the absence (at least so far) of a black-and-white world of politics. More than any game I've played, I find myself really considering the possible consequences of my actions, and I've felt remorse at having to kill certain characters. Bravo.

    One small complaint: Why didn't you set it up so users could just hold down the delete key to wipe out the letters of saved games I'm writing over? It's a bit annoying to have to keep hitting that key over & over ...

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  29. Just bought the PC game last night and Am. Loving. It. The last time a game (and I'm an inveterate RPG player) got me in like this was Baldurs Gate series. Great detail, both graphically and story-wise. This is going to give me many happy hours of play. Well worth the money and then some.

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