The Demo For Our New Game Is Out! Also, Terror!
Naked self-promotion, plus darkness on the horizon.
Several times a year, Steam has a indie demo festival. This week, Steam Next Fest is going on. For desperate indies starved for attention, this is a chance to try to grab a few eyeballs and a handful of wishlists.
Our next game, Queen's Wish 2: The Tormentor, is taking part. You can go over a grab a demo and try a few hours of our next game for free. (I’ll also be streaming the game and answering questions on that page, Thursday and Sunday. 4 PM PST.)
We hope you do. We beg. We're not proud. If you like a demo in the festival, wishlist it. This seems to do something magic in Steam's algorithm to give games front page visibility, which dramatically increases sales for a few minutes after release.
Trying To End the Career On a High Note
The Queen's Wish trilogy is probably the last all-new game series I will write. Queen's Wish 2 is the 17th all-new full length game in my career.
I will have a lot more to say about this when the game is out. I can say that, with Queen's Wish, we are trying to make something unique. It's a mix of Empire builder, tactical RPG, and family drama, full of complex worlds, intricate plots, and tough choices.
It's an unusual and innovative series. It's also not everyone's cup of tea. A lot of people are like, what is this? But the people who find their way to it really like it. Our Steam reviews are very positive, but the small minority of unhappy opinions feature prominently on our store page. It's a weird place to be. At least it makes some money.
Do People Like It?
The demo has been out about 24 hours, and 2000 people have downloaded it. Steam helpfully gives a chart to show how long people play it.
It is so weird and cool to be able to get this feedback. It looks like 40% of people who tried the game in the last 24 hours have already played it over an hour. Considering how niche and odd the game is, we're pretty happy with this. Plus, knowing I'm amusing people adds meaning to my life.
We won't get a lot of attention from the festival, though. The word got out that free exposure was available, and the indie flood has come.
These Are Demos For Serious Games
This is a great chance to see the state of indie games. It's a serious business.
There are currently, as I write this, 1200 demos available in the festival. All polished games, all with real budgets and production values. This is 3 polished releases a day for a year, just from one little event.
I mean, take a look at the Most Wishlisted Games. Then start scrolling down. This is serious, professional stuff. High production values. A lot of attempted innovation.
They are noble efforts to grab the golden ring. Odds are, a handful of these games will make their creators very rich. Or kinda rich. I hope.
These games cost real money to make. They need real sales. The world is looking very recessiony right now, and the main purpose of a recession is to rid the economy of excessive production. During a recession, the weak get culled.
Most of these games are going to fail. It makes me sad. People get mad at me when I say it.
But it's true.
I admit being a little proud of indie game development. There's so many of us! Working so hard! It would really delight me if it weren't for the stink of doom.
I Am a Bottom Feeder
Our business will probably do all right, but only because we are such a low-budget operation. For most of these developers, if their games made as much money as we hope to, their businesses would instantly explode.
If you look for our game in the lists, you'll have to look for a while. Scroll way, wayyyyy down. We get the sort of exposure we deserve, which is very little. When fewer demos were in the festival, it worked great for us. Now we're getting far fewer wishlists than before.
It's a little demoralizing sometimes, but it makes sense. Our competitors are just plain better than we are. They have full-time artists, proper publishers, and actual teams working on their games. The top games are dripping with professionalism and money. The trailers for a lot of these games cost tens of thousands of dollars. For the TRAILER.
We, on the other hand, are bottom feeders.
If we can maintain a fan base of a few thousand people, we can live a comfortable life all the way to retirement. That is, honestly, all we ever wanted from computer games.
So I hope you try our demo. I hope you get a few minutes of fun out of it. That would make us happy! And be sure to admire the courage of the thousands of tributes in these Hunger Games. A lot of people risking much to chase an elusive dream. Wish them luck.
We have announced our next game, Queen’s Wish 2: The Conqueror, an all-new, innovative, Empire-building indie RPG, coming late Summer. Wishlist it to be told when it is released!
I'm sad that this is your last new game. I played Nethergate and Avernum as a teenager, way back in the 1990s.
I'll be honest, the Avernum series remains by far my favorite among your creations. It felt vast, gritty, and open-ended. There was something deliciously old-school and pulp-y about it. It was humorous, but not outright farcical (unlike, say, Zork).
30 years later, the appeal hasn't faded. I feel deep affection towards the series, and probably will as long as I live. It meant something, unlike the vast majority of over-produced AAA games.
Looks promising - the one design decision I didn't like with the first one was the relative lack of distinct artifacts (always part of the charm of the other spiderweb games and a motivation to explore) and looks like this has been changed in the second one. I did like some other design points, particularly the pressure to do a dungeon all in one go.