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Avernum 3: Ruined World Released
Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 31 January 2018, 20:11:17Tags: Avernum 3: Ruined World; Jeff Vogel; Spiderweb Software
Spiderweb Software's Avernum 3: Ruined World came out today. Turns out the release date was January 31st all along. It's the last episode of Jeff Vogel's trilogy of remakes, which started with Avernum: Escape from the Pit way back in 2011. Back in October, Jeff wrote a blog post reflecting on his long career of remaking remakes. We've already seen the new game's trailer and description, so I thought I'd quote an excerpt from that:
In A Previous Millenium, I Wrote A Hit
In 1997, I'd been making games full-time for a couple years. I wrote (and still write) retro, turn-based, low-budget indie RPGs with fun systems, interesting stories, and mediocre graphics.
Happily, I got started at a time when there were very few good RPGs out in the market. I got a nice computer, wanted to play a good RPG, and couldn't find one. So I wrote one. It sold, because no competition. This is a key example of my most important business strategy: Get Very Lucky.
My first games, Exile: Escape From the Pit and Exile 2: Crystal Souls, were designed on a simple principle: I would go back to all the RPGs I loved as a kid and steal the best idea from each one. I then carefully combined all my quality stolen ideas into a coherent whole. This is called being a game designer.
For our third game, I had a better idea. I spent months playing all the new RPGs that had come out over the previous 2-3 years. Then I stole the best idea from each one of those. Thus, I transitioned from stealing ideas from old games to stealing ideas from new games. This is how you evolve as a game designer.
I ended up with Exile 3: Ruined World, which has been our biggest success. It features a gigantic world, that is easy to get lost in. As time passed, the game world evolved. If you didn't fight the monsters off, they would ruin towns and kill the townsfolk. (Though, no matter how slow you play, you can always still win the game.) If you didn't want to follow the story, you could be a bounty hunter or merchant. You could buy a house.
It Was The Right Title At The Right Time
In 1997, it was what people wanted. It was a legit shareware hit. Now, having a hit indie game in 1997 (when the world wide web was basically nothing and most of my sales came from AOL) was different from having one in 2017.
These days, the sales of a hit indie game will buy you a mansion made of yachts. Back then, it bought me a modest house and made my parents slightly less ashamed to say what I did for a living.
I won awards, to the extent there were game awards back then. I got attention from the traditional games media, which was really worth something then. And it established me in the business for good.
But even then, I knew that the real prize was not the praise (which I don't care about) or the money (which is nice, but then you spend it and it's gone). What was really valuable was that I owned the game. It was mine. I could do with it whatever I wanted. Forever.
A Lesson For Young Creators
Never underestimate the value of owning your work. There hasn't been a day since 1997 that I haven't made money off of Exile 3. The reason is that I own it. It's mine, to alter, remaster, and distribute. All according to my whims, with all the earnings going to me.
It's a tough market out there. But suppose you release a new game and nobody ever even hears of it. Wait five years, remaster it and it really will be, as far an anyone is concerned, a new game. You can try selling it again!
And ten years from now, people will be using new consoles, new devices, new sorts of computers. Port your game to them! Each new port is an all new release. A new chance for your game to get noticed and catch on and become a hit!
"But Your Games Are All The Same And Look Like Crap"
I have a follow-up post about the reactions when I announced Avernum 3: Ruined World. It's pretty funny, but this is already long so I broke it out into its own post.
When Avernum 3: Ruined World comes out (hopefully in January for Windows/Mac and March for iPad), I'll have spent over four years of my life on it. It's not a game for everyone. It's mostly the product of one person, and it'll show.
Even if you don't like my work, I hope you take some satisfaction in this: Vidya games are still a place where one weirdo can make weird things for other weirdos and make a living at it. As long as this is possible, there's hope. Maybe the next weird thing for weirdos will be YOUR perfect game, the Best Game Ever, and it never would have existed in a purely big-budget world.