September 2021 Studio Update
On September 21st, 2021, All is Fair in Dust and Air officially exited Early Access! WOOHOO!! Now lets give a more behind the scenes rundown of it in this momentous monthly report!
Video version of this report is available below:
The end of a very brief era of Dust and Air and Broken Hammer is now officially here as we deemed the Cathedral Arc story complete and exited Early Access in September. We've come a long way since we were the plucky little fan project tucked away within the Guns of Icarus forums.
Leading up to the release was a mix of waiting, testing, and remaking assets. Had everything been in place sooner, we'd have easily launched in July. In the end, a very special thanks goes out to Winks who helped fill in for team members who were in countries where all sorts of crazy was happening.
We still have some images to finish up and some polish to do but, we were able to bid farewell to the Early Access Stigma. Which, we found to be a very real thing as time went on. People really have come to be very wary of Early Access. What was meant for helping devs like us, has turned into a negative stigma of distrust thanks to fly by night developers who take money and run.
To be honest, if we had to do it again, we might not have opted to release via Early Access. Waiting longer and finishing up the Cathedral Arc, would have been better. How we really came to this realization was thanks to exiting from it. The attention Dust and Air has received, as well as sales has been quite different than when we were in Early Access.
Above is a small glimpse of Dust and Air's audience that has been compiled from the beginning of 2021 till this point.
We're showing it mostly for informational and educational purposes. Will this mean there will be a German or Russian translation in the future? Well, we are definitely wanting to do a Russian one. That has been something Georgy has insisted upon for his fellow countrymen. German was a surprise that we didn't expect but, we're happy to see it.
As far as translations go, we are considering some options for doing it. We also have to look at how Tyrano can handle it since we'd like it to be as seamless as possible. This is definitely a stretch goal but, it's one that is starting to come into sights.
The week before release we managed to not only get the final patch of Early Access out, we also completely redid a lot of our store assets. Something we had put off until now as we wanted more assets to be able to draw from to make them.
Since Gwynevere's story is going to be the first we'll be tackling, we decided to put her forward as the main poster girl for the project and change our store marketing to be centered around her.
We also utilized our new backdrop of Mole to better define that the story will now be setting out from Mole.
In the midst of all this, we went even beyond that and released more solid titles for each story arc. Granted each of these are still working titles but, we don't expect them to change too much:
Gwynevere's Arc: A Raven's Prayer
Calle's Arc: Storms of the Lost
Aoli's Arc: When Tigers Lie
Sofia's Arc: Precipice of Demise
Abigail's Arc: Wings of the Heart
Nakiri's Arc: Sands of Reckoning
Then, lastly, at the end of the month we held a full company meeting to discuss quite a bit regarding the future of the project. This was a great time for team members to give input and help decide upon the course of Dust and Air as production now shifts to the story arcs.
Out of it we ironed out a better plan of attack for the story arcs. To put it simply, we are going to look at releasing the story arcs a chapter at a time. Initial asset production will be slower at the beginning and then speed up later as more content is produced.
The graph to the right is a simple example of the plan. There is always going to be some content inherited from the current Cathedral Arc. This is mostly William's model and assorted assets tied to that which have been already built. As more new content is produced, it becomes reused content. Eventually we reach the end of the story arc and have very little addition to make.
While not every chapter is going to be so straightforward due to changing settings from one city to another, a release as we build design makes it so we can get the story out faster, and also put it up for sale.
Original plan was for the story arcs to be DLC style addons. We still intend to pursue this however, we may have to adjust our plans as we go pending upon how Tyrano and Steam handles the DLC installation process. This is going to be our biggest roadblock to releasing Gwyn's story.
Our current idea with a release as we develop mindset would see us releasing A Raven's Prayer at a low introductory price. As chapters are added, the price would start to increase. So lets say for example, we intro at $1-$2 a chapter. All they would have to pay for Gwyn's story would be that low intro price. Those who purchase at the introductory production level then get every chapter after for free.
Now, if we have to change plans due to technical limitations, we could still apply this to Dust and Air by simply adding more to the initial game and raising the price a tiny bit at a time as we develop. This isn't the route we really want to take but, if we've no choice, we'll have to take it.
Between now and the time we start to release Gwyn's story, we've a lot to do with production and talking with Tyrano. In the end, we'll choose the best option we can for development and for those who buy the game.
Lastly, as we close up the month, we also outlined some discussions regarding the next steps for Broken Hammer. Which, in regards to Dust and Air, will be getting the game onto more platforms than Steam. Itch. io is definitely on the schedule for PC side. Following it, we'll be looking to branch out onto Android.
Cell phone ports were always in the plans and we're now at the point we can do them. The only delay looks to be iOS since we need a Mac to handle it. This is something that we're hoping to resolve by 2022. When we do, both Mac OS and iOS will have a port of Dust and Air.
It's been a long road getting from 2013 to here. As always we thank all the team members, backers, and new fans who have gotten us this far and continue to help this project into the future. October will be a busy month with a lot of decisions getting made and content ramping up. So, till next time, see you in the skies!