|Fourteen years without an update is long enough.|
You can see a trailer and other info here. Avernum 2 is probably tied with Avernum 3 for our most beloved game, and I know a lot of fans are looking forward to a reboot. Now with better design (I hope), a better interface and graphics (in my opinion), and the ability to run on tablets (yay).
We don't half-ass our rewrites. This one is taking a full year. New material, new quests, a new dungeon, more dialogue, actual boss fights. You might not like our work, but you can't fairly say we're not trying.
But enough self-promotion. I've said a lot of overly self-assured stuff over the last few months about the state of the indie games biz. Now that I'm having to actually make hard choices and release games, I wanted to talk a little about how I'm adjusting to the New Game Reality.
|Sometimes, you don't need a full 140 characters to drop the truth bombz.|
We're Raising Our Prices.
I thought this tweet covered it perfectly.
I have said for years that indie developers have to be careful not to charge too little for our products. Most of us tend to the needs of small, niche audiences, and we have to make sure to set a price for our specialty products that enables us to stay in business. For a long time, our new RPGs were $20.
But then something happened I would never have predicted: The Indie Bubble. Almost overnight, there was a massive increase in demand for games like mine, and there weren't many good titles. All of a sudden, my games were getting the sort of placement on places like Steam we could never get in a normal environment.
So we reacted accordingly. We lowered our prices on Steam and similar services to $10, a price low enough to motivate people who stumbled on us on the front page of Steam to give us a try. Tons of people were seeing us for the first time, and we tried to take advantage.
Things have gotten back to normal. We are back to getting a modest amount of visibility and press, and most of our sales are from fans and members of our particular niche. Our last game, Avadon 2: The Corruption, sold a reasonable number of copies, but the $10 price didn't generate enough revenue to make writing the game worthwhile. We can’t run a sustainable business on $10 games.
So we're going back to the old days. Our new games, going forward, are back to being $20. We have to count on existing fans and retro RPG gamers to provide enough sales to stay in business.
It's terrifying. What if our audience isn't there anymore? What if there is now too much competition? What if my games just can't cut it anymore?
It's scary, but it's been scary since we started out in 1994. We've had times when we flirted with going out of business, and I'm sure we will in the future. But the days of universally cheap indies are over. A lot of small devs are raising their prices, and I'm one of them.
And look at the bright side: All of our games will be cheap eventually. Steam sales still exist, and we'll still put our older games out there with steep discounts. It'll just mean you'll have a longer wait until they are two bucks on Steam or show up in bundles.
One Implication Of This
I have always believed that if you're going to charge $20 for a game you have to have a demo. Ten dollars is cheap enough that you can get away with it. However, if you're going to charge $20 for a game you can't get a refund for, I feel you are ethically required to give a gamer a way to check it out and make sure it'll run on their machine.
Of course, we never stopped making big, meaty demos available on our web site. And we never will.
|TL;DR version: This is how you should picture me.|
Rewrites. Remasters. Remakes.
Indie game developers seem to be having a real Sophomore Slump problem. When I look at developers who had a hit, I'm not seeing a lot of really inspiring follow-ups.
Sure, there are a few developers (like Supergiant and Klei Entertainment) who have really managed to keep their momentum going. However, a lot of small devs who produce a great game either go crazy and quit, get caught in an infinite development cycle on a new product, can't even get started on a new product, or release a new product that's just kind of meh. I was smart and avoided this problem by never releasing a great game in the first place.
This is why I think you're going to see a lot of indie devs recycling their hits. Remastering them and releasing them on new consoles. Rereleasing them with new material. Doing full rewrites.
This is as it should be. It's good for developers and it's good for gamers.
For developers: Look. Writing a game is hard. Writing a good game is harder. Writing a good game and actually having it catch on and become a hit is catching lightning in a bottle. It's almost impossible. It almost never happens for one developer twice. If we let developers turn one hit into a career, it helps more developers make a living, which encourages the writing of more games.
For gamers: Look. If a game is fun, it doesn't stop being fun. Castle Crashers will still be awesome a decade from now, and I am surprised that it hasn't been ported to the new console generation yet. I talked to several developers at PAX about the expanded versions of their games that are forthcoming, and I'm thrilled. I liked them before, and I'll like their new levels on the PS4.
One of the things I've always hated about our art form is how it discards its classics as technology moves on. Anything that keeps good designs fresh and playable is all to the good.
A large part of my professional life now is acting as curator for the things I made when I was young. I spend my time trying to be respectful to the work of my younger self, bringing it into the modern day while preserving the stuff that made people love it in the first place. It's a very different sort of job, with its own challenges, but I do enjoy it. I wish more people did a better job of respecting what they made when they were young. (CoughGeorgeLucasCough)
So I guess what I'm trying to say is: I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES 1N IT!!!1 is one of my favorite games of the last console generation. If it comes out for a console with online matchmaking, that is the console I will buy. James Silva, MAKE IT HAPPEN.
When Will My Rewrite Be Out?
I've been shooting for early December, by my increasing old-person-exhaustion is making it hard to keep up the furious pace of younger days. The Mac and Windows versions will probably be out in January. iPad a few months after that. I don't know how to develop for Android and getting a good person to do a port is hard, so I'm not sure if that will ever happen.
And that’s what we’re up to in the Business World. New game soon. Hope you like it!