2020 and the road ahead into 2021...
Happy New Year! About 100 years ago, the Great War had concluded and the roaring twenties were kicking off. 2020 we're sure felt like the Great War to a lot of people. Unfortunately, for some, that war seems to be wanting to follow into 2021. At Broken Hammer, we're going to close out this year on a high note and look forward to a new roaring twenties. That is, with Dust and Air finally taking the stage.
While we elected at the last minute to hold off till January 12th, December saw our road to Early Access effectively be completed. We set a goal of making it ready for the Steam holiday sale and we did it. It was definitely a crazy push trying to get Dust and Air all setup in time. We remained on track going into December and only suffered delays due to Steam itself needing to approve our release. Which, in retrospect, seem to be for the better.
Thankfully, despite some bugs that need Tyrano's assistance to iron out, we got approved on our build pretty quickly. The store page, was another story. Steam is very careful with wording on store pages. Despite the poor rep that Early Access titles get on Steam due to a lot of fly by night devs, Steam does at least try to screen out bad ones.
In the end we assured them that we're here to stay. That we've been working on this project since 2013 and have been funding it out of our own personal pockets, with exception of the crowdfunding, since 2016.
Our intent going into the week of the Steam Sale was to get Dust and Air out. No one wanted to miss our deadline and push back. Then, we shifted from the 22nd to the 25th due to issues on Steam's end.
Up until the very day before launch, plans were in place to meet the new 25th deadline. Dust and Air would have gone live at midnight on the 25th had we not had some fellow game devs reach out to us.
We were aware of the potential of Dust and Air getting buried during the Steam Sale. Frankly, we were considering more importance on getting it out and meeting our end of year deadline, than our potential sales. Our model for Early Access would be having many content releases which would, in turn, generate more sales down the line. Especially after our final content release of Early Access.
However, when Steam warns you, followed by warnings from many fellow devs who have launched on the holiday sale... Kinda need to take stock for a moment and really consider what they are saying.
Thus, we did a call out to team members and also to backers who are part of our tester community. When everyone takes the new information and jumps in agreement, we knew we had to do a last minute emergency change.
Unfortunately, it took a few days to be able to amend the store page again with Steam's approval but, we effectively pushed back to the 12th. This sets us up for the week after the sale ends.
For Steam, we had to list a general deadline for the completion of Early Access. Internally we were considering July 1st since it would be our 5th anniversary. It was the most optimal date that we felt we could make.
Frankly, we think we can deliver the rest sooner but, as we've learned over the course of this project, roadblocks happen. Whether in real life or just things on the business side.
The first major content drop to come in Early Access will be Day Two. Right now we're estimating it dropping in early spring. Content for Day Three will follow not long after. Overall, most of the content on Day Three is done with the exception of supporting cast characters. They are what we call red shirts who have bare minimum expressions or animations.
Day Four follows, as well a the epilogue segment. Which we may merge since their sizes are smaller than the others.
All in all we're looking on track for July.
Moving into 2021 will be the biggest question presented. How will we transition to the story arcs and their production? In order to deliver Dust and Air within a reasonable time frame, we're going to need to increase production on story arcs and do multiple releases within a year.
The question is: Is that feasible? At this point, no, not with the size of team we have. Georgy would cry out in horror with a scream so loud in Moscow that we'd hear it all the way across the Atlantic.
This is the one roadblocker we'll be having to remedy during the course of 2021 and into the years ahead. Overall, we need to at least double or triple our team size to be able to do it. This is something we're hoping the exposure of Early Access is going to bring a solution for. Thankfully, we've already been gaining new members and expanding bit by bit. Project 2 has been a great blessing in doing that and thanks to it, we've been getting a good idea of how production with a larger team is going to work.
Can we do it? Yes. However, we're far away from setting any release dates.
Years ago we were encouraged not to "place our eggs all in one basket." As time has gone, we've realized how true that is. We don't want to be a single game developer. We want to expand to a wide variety of games. Project 2 has been the start of that. We teased this last year and we've updated that we have gained new members thanks to it. But what really is Project 2 about? Well, we're able to go into a few more details on it now.
To put it simply, it's more of a supernatural, angels vs demons visual novel with anime styling on the characters. It has been crafted with a different mindset than Dust and Air. One that makes it a leaner beast to produce.
This has been the pet side project of Josh and Ryan, the two co-founders of Broken Hammer. Which actually started during the holiday season some years back as just a story concept and grew from there.
We've avoided any full reveal because we simply wanted to focus on getting Dust and Air to release first. Now that it is getting to Early Access, we can let out a few more details.
Project 2 will still remain a side project as we continue Dust and Air development. We're building concepts on it and to be honest, 2020 hit some snags due to c19. When will it go to release? That is to be determined. We're projecting before the story arcs get released.
What lies beyond Dust and Air and Project 2? Well, we've got quite a few ideas brewing. In fact, our first forays into games besides visual novels began their concepting this year.
There is a platformer which has had some proof of concept programming done, a fantasy story which is still being considered for what type of game it will be, and finally a space ship combat title that is looking a bit further out but has had some story concepting done.
One key take away from most of the titles we're looking at is that we are looking more to iOS and Android development. Mac users don't worry, we'll of course be working in a Mac OS build as soon as possible for Dust and Air.
How many of these concept titles make it to release will remain to be seen. We'll definitely keep you appraised on any progress updates as we move forward.
Almost five years ago we set out to make Dust and Air a reality. What was once considered next to impossible, is now becoming reality.
I cannot thank enough, all those who have joined us on this journey. From our original team and those who have poured their talent out in bringing these characters to life, to the IndieGoGo backers we got who contributed to helping us along. Not to mention, Muse Games for being open to giving us this opportunity. Especially to one such as I who used to raise such a fuss about GOIO ship balancing (Squid Should Be A Dogfighter!)...
There are still challenges that we have to navigate on the road ahead but, we're finally coming out of the head winds and catching some tail winds. Momentum is shifting and it is something I've long been trying to accomplish and sustain. I hope you'll stay with us on this adventure.
Outside our project there is a lot of uncertainty in the world today. I have hinted a bit in prior messages this year. Hearing some of what the team is dealing with in their nations has been a concern. In fact, I'm sure events we're going to see happen in January are likely going to change the world for a long time to come. What this means to Broken Hammer is still to be seen. 2020 has certainly been one of the most irrational years I've ever seen in my life. I'm personally hoping 2021 will be the reverse of that.
As with all, time will tell. I welcome you to keep in touch with our social media accounts. Yohana has been working hard at getting more of them set up as we move forward. She really is a blessing and to confirm any rumors, yes we are married as May 7th. However, the story of our meeting and such, will have to be saved for another time.
Oh and lastly, if you stay in touch via our IndieGoGo posts, I recommend you shift as we will be phasing out that page and finally closing it. Yohana is looking to build an e-mail newsletter that will fill that role for those that aren't on social media. As soon as that is in place we'll make the move.
Alright, that's it. Happy New Year! See you in the skies!