Thursday, March 22, 2012

AVWW 1.0 On April 16th, Confirmed On Steam -- Also Price Drop For Final Game

It was just two days ago that we gave you some general updates about A Valley Without Wind's launch coming the "week of April 16th," but there were a lot of specifics we couldn't give you at the time.  Welp... now have the rest of the details for you!

Release Date -- And Steam!
The actual release date will be, specifically, Monday April 16th itself.  The game will be going live on Steam on that day as 1.0, along with having its version updated to 1.0 with Impulse, GamersGate, MacGameStore, and our own site.  All of the latter already carry the game at a preorder discount.

Steam Keys For Existing Preorders?
Any keys you buy from other sources should be able to have their CD keys imported into Steam for Steam keys.  The final call on that is always up to Valve rather than us, so we can't make promises on their behalf.  But all five of our existing games/expansions that are on Steam allow for CD key imports, so we don't have any reason to believe that this sixth title will suddenly be any different.

Final Pricing For 1.0
The preorder price has been $9.99, and will remain thus until April 16th.  At launch, we'll be moving to a final price of $14.99 for the game instead of the previously-planned $19.99, however.

Insight Into The Pricing Thought Process, If You're Curious
This pricing change is something that we decided upon in consultation with our distributors, who strongly recommended it.  Looking at the market for games vaguely similar to AVWW, we had to conclude that they were correct, and honestly we'd been getting antsy about the $20 price point for a game of this genre, anyhow.

Crazy, right?  There's dozens of hours of content in here, hundreds if you really get into the game heavily, and that beats out a lot of AAA titles in terms of how much bang for your buck you get -- at $15, $20, or even $60.  But that's not how the market works, and the market is always changing.

If you think about this as your game, and you're trying to figure out a fair price, that makes $20 seem like the right choice -- after all, AI War was $20 up until this past month, and it's done very well for us.  So that's what we originally went with as our goal for the launch price.  The thing is, if I step back and think about this as a consumer (which I am -- I still buy plenty of games myself), then $20 for most small-studio indie games seems a bit steep.

The exception are those that are in niche genres: strategy titles, visual novels, wargames, hardcore simulations, and so forth.  I think that my friend Cliff has it right with his pricing for Gratuitous Tank Battles, for instance.  And I think that $20 was the right price point for AI War for most of its life (though I always had people telling me it should be $30 like some other wargames, and others telling me it should be $10 like some other indie games).

For A Valley Without Wind, looking at anything that could be lumped into its general sort of genre, the pricing is more typically between $10-$15.  Given the massive amount of playtime this game has, and the ongoing work we do post-release with titles like this, being at the higher end of that range -- but no higher -- seemed like the pragmatic move.

What's Left To Do?
Today we should have the first two mysteries released for you, which will mark the last of the overall "broad game mechanics" for the game.  Then it's a focus on:

- Polish
- Bugfixes
- Player-requested tweaks and additions
- More enemies, including enemy elites and boss modifiers
- More spells
- More guardian power scrolls
- More mission activities
- Possibly a few more enchants, although there are already hundreds of thousands of permutations of these.

If you're curious how things are likely to go over the next month between now and 1.0, just take a look at what we've been up to lately.  That's pretty representative.

And Now, Some Shameless Plugging Of Social Media
Be sure to like the game on facebook if you're into that sort of thing, follow the game on twitter if that's your bag, etc.  This game is really important to us both personally and as a company, and word of mouth has been absolutely instrumental in the past success of AI War for us.  If you like what we do and want to see more of it, be sure to tell your friends!

Thanks, as always, for your support! We really wouldn't be here without you all.  Nor would AVWW be the same without all the extensive beta involvement it's seen.  I mean, seriously.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Crash Course On A Valley Without Wind

So... today for me has been pretty much all about the documentation.  I wanted to go ahead and get this done so that Erik could start using it in his emails to press.

I had something similar for AI War that was hugely useful for explaining to new players (and to press) just what it was that made AI War unique.  It wasn't a substitute for a tutorial, but it was infinitely better than coming to the game blind and not knowing if it was just a cheap Sins of a Solar Empire clone or what.

At any rate, now we have this Fast Facts crash course wiki page for AVWW, and I heartily recommend it even to players who are mildly familiar with the game.  It has some tips in there that you might be surprised by, and especially if you're coming back after a long absence you might be surprised by quite a bit more.

Everything else stems from that one wiki article, and you can get more detailed information on specific sub-topics if you so desire.  If you know the game well, please take a look at the fast facts and let me know if anything seems off or seems missing.  Or if you don't know the game well, I'd love to know if it's losing you anywhere in there.

But how on earth did constructing that one small page take me all day?  Well, as part of making that page, I also had to add or majorly update the following pages:

Added: What Genre Is This, Anyway?
Added: Everything You Wanted To Know About Missions, But Were Afraid To Ask
Added: How Do I Know If I'm Prepared For An Expedition?
Added all but the destroyed rooms bit: Why Being A "Completionist" Is Both Futile And Boring Here
More minor; Added the hierarchy section, and the section about graphs vs maps (Josh had already done the rest): What are all these maps for?
Added: Permadeath: It Means Give Your Health Bar The Respect It Deserves
More minor; Completely Rewrote: Pausing The Game
Added: What Is The General Game Flow?

So, yeah.  That's been my day, but I think it's been a day well spent.  That's pretty much our reference manual right there, and if there are gaps we now have time to fix it.  Plus, people can now come into the wiki and read in good depth about what makes this game unique, as well as how things are supposed to work.  Hopefully this should cut down on some confusion from people who read old interviews, too. 

Tomorrow, I'm back on the coding warpath for the new mission types and things of that nature!