Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Announced ... Avernum: Escape From the Pit

This blog has been sadly neglected lately, due to a combination of vacations and a frenzied effort to get our newest game to a point where we could officially announce it. But that day has arrived. Drop by our web site and take a look at Avernum: Escape From the Pit!

This is the second time that we have rewritten the Exile/Avernum trilogy, a move that is full of all sorts of questionable integrity. I am very nervous about announcing this title for exactly that reason, even though we have very, VERY good reasons to do a serious, polished rewrite of this game. Because Avernum has such a large and passionate fanbase, we have already put up an Avernum: Escape From the Pit FAQ to answer many of the questions that will be coming up. Such as, Why?

Short answer: Because the old version doesn't run on new machines anymore. Also, the iPad.

Longer answer. Look at this screenshot from Avernum:

Ghhhhahhhhh! Make it go away! Make it go AWAYYYYYYYY!

I mean, seriously.

We've been very determined not to half-ass this adaptation, and, when all is said and done, we will have put almost as much time into it as into a whole new game. It's been a little rough, and yet, I don't see how I had a choice. The first Avernum trilogy is my first creation and still one of my most beloved, and if we didn't rewrite it then it would have just disappeared. I can't abide that.

Other terrifying decisions. For the first time ever, we will be selling a new title for $20. When we released our first game, wayyyy back in 1995, we charged $25. At the time, that was a fair and unsurprising price for a shareware game. These days, the constant downward pressure on prices can no longer be ignored. Also, the market is developing in ways that finally make me think that we can make more money at lower prices.

I now hope to return to a sensible and semi-regular blogging schedule. For example, soon I will write a sort of review of LA Noire. Before I can write it, I want to see if the game ever has a murder victim that isn't naked.


  1. Awesome! Can't wait for this to be released. Looks great, and I like how the traits system looks.

  2. That is a nice new logo.

    Oh, and game! Yes, game good.

  3. I cannot describe how happy I am to see the return of the "overworld" style map. I've been playing Avernum 6 and the world just feels... small. It's lost the sense of scale the earlier games had.

    Can't wait for release!

  4. As someone that purchased, played and enjoyed all the Exile and Avernum games, I'm looking forward to playing it again.

  5. Super, super excited. Will probably buy two copies, one for me and one for a friend I hope to convert.

  6. Since I've played both the Exile and Avernum versions, I'm pretty sure that I can manage to wait until the iPad release. Pretty sure.

  7. Looking really good Jeff!! I cant wait to get my hands on this..:) I've been really looking forwards to the remake of the first trilogy, cant wait to see what they're like..

  8. iPad is a good reason to get this even though I have Exile and Avernum.

  9. @phenomenos: Putting that back in ended up being a ton of work, but I stuck with it because I knew it would make a lot of people very happy.

    - Jeff Vogel

  10. Hey Jeff, regarding pricing...have you had a look at this article ?

    Don't give up on having your products reasonably priced.

  11. I'd noticed the update by way of facebook before checking the blog. I read the new page and mentally summarized. And find the exact wording of my thoughts listed under "short story".

    Granted, my first thoughts were "Are you crazy? Again?" but the arguments were obvious even to me.

    Besides, Nintendo has been making the same Zelda game for my entire life. I'm still looking forwards to the next one.

  12. Hey Jeff,

    As a long-time fan of the Exile series (played your Mac demos when I was but a wee lad of, gosh, probably nine or ten), I am SO glad I've found you again, just in time for a re-creation of one of my favorites. Just wanted to wish you good luck and let you know how much I appreciate your art!

  13. Fort Avernum! It's like saying hello to an old friend.

  14. Never actually played through this one -- did the Exile demo back in college and liked it, but I was too poor to buy it and too lazy to pirate it. Looking forward to trying the modernized version. But I'm kinda with Oscar on pricing -- I'd have payed $25 for it. Or $30. Heck, I'd probably have paid $35 or $40. I'd have started to feel ripped off at that point... but not ripped off enough not to buy it. Not that I object to paying less, of course, if it works out for you. But I want to keep on buying your games for years to come; don't price yourself out of business.

  15. I’ve played the Avernum games since I discovered the demo of A Ruined World on a CD, included with a magazine I’ve long since stopped reading. I loved exploring the surface and desperately wished to see Avernum itself. I was elated to discover Avernum 1 and 2 let me do just that.

    It was a magical experience.

    And now, it seems I’ll be able to do it all over again.

    Thank you for this Jeff.

    You have my money the second I can give it to you.

    (Oh and +1 for phenomenos' comment)

  16. @DannyBoy: Believe me, there is not a lot of fulfillment in rewiting this game AGAIN. But the reasons are solid and the alternative is worse, so ...

    - Jeff Vogel

  17. Hi.

    What can u say 'bout walking animation?

  18. Yeah! Another game to review! Thanks Jeff!

  19. @blhl: All movement will be animated. There will be an option in settings to turn that off.

    - Jeff Vogel

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  21. Awesome! :D
    (not to mention the ability to play only by mouse on the keypadless laptops)

    If the sales go well I hope to see the other two exiles/avernums following!

  22. Ha! I'm looking forward to seeing the Tower of Magi again, as I'm sure you're looking forward to designing it again.

  23. Hah! You think that screenshot hurts people's eyes? What about a screenshot of Exile before the graphics got redone? I remember the first time I saw that game, I thought it was the coolest thing ever.

    More importantly, a question: Any way you could see going back to a 6-man party, like in the Exile series? Pretty please? I was sad when I had to trim two of my characters from my favorite party in Exile III.

    Either way, I'm very excited about this. The more you can add to the world, the better!

  24. My main concern is not the presence of a walking animation, but the presence of an option for classic directional walking. I dislike having to click on a target and wait for them to arrive and attempt to go around obstacles. I prefer to just be able to hold my mouse button down while the pointer is south of The Party and The communist Party will move south until you let go of the button or move the cursor to the East or something. You can slide the mouse around to change direction, whereas you must press a different key on the keyboard when you cannot use the mouse the old fashioned way.
    However, still, the new remake of thy games exciteth me greatly! I found thine earlier games very enjoyable! Thou hast created some games most leet.
    In the Soyuz Sovyetskix Sotsialistichyekix Respublik, The Party controlleth THEE!

  25. Ok, Jeff. Your games look like crap. They always looked like crap(except maybe exile, which was on par of other games of it's time, but that was long ago).

    Your fans don't play Your games because they look good. They like it because story is good, or gameplay is fun to play. I'd even say that I prefered Avernum-style graphics, because it was more abstract and I could compensate stuff with my imagination. I also prefered when I could control my characters with numpad, using mouse is far more tedious.

    But hey, good luck.

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  28. Just to make sure... The GIFTS are still there, right?

    Also, if I buy a disc version of the game my mate can play it on his PC, right? I'm too possessive of my MacBook Pro to let him play on my compy...

  29. Jeff,

    As someone who's spent probably weeks underground when you add up all the hours playing/replaying from E2 on I do have one small request. Can we get a journal that we can actually take notes in? It hit me again today as I was trying to take a new character through Avadon that a journal that I could make notes in would be incredibly useful.

    Being able to save conversations or descriptions of an event is useful for reviewing things later on in the game. However what I'd really like to do is make a note (in the game, yes I know I could open up a notepad on the computer or find a scrap of paper) that would remind me later that the blacksmith in Cotra has a trapped chest that I'm not good enough to open yet.

    In my initial run through an area I explore everything that I can. Passing through later though I'm not checking every chest, barrel, etc again as that is just too tedious. Being able to write a note in a section that is automatically labeled Cotra Blacksmith (or wherever I'm standing) that his chest currently would turn my guys into a fine pink mist but is certainly worth a return visit after getting more skilled at picking locks.

    Thanks. I'm looking forward to some updated spelunking....

  30. Ever thought of trying to write more than one of the Avernum stories together into one game? I imagine that might be way more complicated and involved than it'd be worth, but it'd be interesting to kill Hawthorne and then watch the Empire invade, and help to fight back.

    You'd probably have to change the story a lot, but it'd sure be fun and interesting to have everything merged together. And would totally justify charging more rather than less than what you usually do, imho.

  31. Hi Jeff!

    I think remaking Exile/Avernum is a great idea! Please, let me take the liberty of giving you some suggestions:

    In a way I preferred Exile series to Avernum series for a very simple reason: graphics. As someone mentioned earlier, in Exile the player filled more holes with their imagination, made the game and the world its own and had a more special experience.

    I specially disliked the character graphics in the Avernum series, they felt flat and childish, and there wasn't a wide range to choose from.

    I suggest two options about character graphics:

    1-Go back to a (even) more simple style, were the imagination of the player can make the characters their own. It would be great if the pic of the characters changed depending on the equipped items. I know this would be a lot of work, but you could make it easier if the portraits were just "shadows". (I always wonder "Why is my heavily armored Slith always showing his tits on his portrait?").

    If the character portrait evolves as the stats and equipment do (even in a very slight way) the player would feel more rewarded and would have a sense of accomplishment).

    2- Make the portrait of the characters customizable (hair/fur/skin/eyes color, build, etc.) I know it sounds silly and is probably a lot of work, but this way the player would be able to feel the character it's own and identify more with him/her.

    (from Exile 3, I always play with a similar party, and they hve their own personality and story).

    Just being able to choose the clothes colour in the character graphics would be great!

    Anyway, congrats for your work, and keep doing what you know it works ^^

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  33. I have an important question jeff if you have to time to hear me out. I really love the geneforge series because its the one experience ive played where flying solo character is possible and enjoyable. My question to you is this-Ive played and bought avernum 4 and avernum 5. I tried to solo them, but they lack the ability to actually have an enjoyable time. Will your new avernum game have more of an avadon feel to it when it comes to dealing with swarms and going solo. I hope it does. If so, that'd be great for oldschool baldurs gate fans like myself who are better without a party. Thanks in advance if you can get around to answering my question.


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  35. So so so exciting. I think the only thing I'm a little sad about is the new traits/skills system. Part of what made the old one not so great also made it campy and fun (I remember winning fights in the original game by casting walls of barriers around tough foes).

    I cannot wait to play it on my new computer. Seriously, the one thing missing was exile. You have no idea how delighted I am about this revamp (except for all the emails I sent pestering you about revamping it with the new engine).

    Thank you for all the effort you put into it. I'll be buying it as soon as it's out.

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