Monday, November 11, 2013

One week after the release of Amnesia

It has now been a week because we released Amnesia: The Dark Descent and I would like to go via some places of interest. There is a a lot to say really, but I will attempt and be brief and only concentrate on the most critical issues.

Creating the game available
This was the 1st time that we have had a game that would be simultaneously released for six various retailers on the very same day, so we have been a bit nervous on how that would go. To make certain that all retailers had adequate time we sent out the game far more than a week just before release. This seems to have worked and all the shops had the game obtainable in time for release.

Added to this, we also had a method for pre-order clients to get their download link, serial crucial and Steam important. Jens have tried this over a month before release and it was quite properly tested once released. The only problem was some mix up with keys and folks loosing their mail, otherwise all went nicely.

In summary, we are fairly satisfied how the availability of the game turned out and we really expected there to be more unknown factors popping up and make our lives tougher.

Press Response
We had already gotten a handful of previews and believed we had some notion exactly where the reviews would land. Nevertheless, reality turned out far beyond our expectations. There has some really good response (as can be noticed on the game's web page and at meta critic) and we are incredibly pleased about this. From all the graded testimonials so far, all but 3 have been 80+ (about half of these 90+) and interestingly two of the much less constructive ones had has a significant complaint that there was too a lot horror in the game. Which in a way tends to make us content as well...

We have also been capable to attain out to a lot of media, and most main internet sites have covered the game. A bit disappointingly, a couple of internet sites that reviewed and covered the Penumbra games have not mentioned Amnesia. We assume this is due to the fact we no longer have a publisher and as a result lack the correct channels. For the Penumbra games we handled extremely small of the marketing ourself and therefore lacked e-mail/contacts to several websites (we nevertheless attempted to get in touch with all media we could feel of even though).

Player response
Like evaluations, response from player has gone beyond our expectations. We noticed this initial at the release of the demo. We had been unsure of how fascinating it would be, but it was received extremely nicely. Because then, the name Amnesia has spread like wildfire across the Internets. I consider there have been much more videos, discussions, and so on released at the time of writing than we have accumulated for any of the Penumbra games. It is also telling that the within 24 hours of release, pretty a lot all key secrets in the game was discovered out (it took a lot longer for the Penumbra games).

I feel the most alarming issue was that the game was available as a pirated copy 24 hours or so ahead of release. This type of -day release can be really hurtful, as otherwise paying buyers may possibly be so anxious to play that they pirate and then forget to spend for it. Since we released the game on-line only, we had been not expecting this and the source of the illegal copy was one of our overview copies (with tracking information hacked away). We are not certain what to do about this in the future, but we will have to be much more careful and maybe not send out assessment copies to so several outlets. It could have gone a lot worse even though as a the initial evaluation copies (of early builds) have been sent out almost a month before release.

As several of you may possibly currently know Amnesia is a sort of make or break game for us. At the time of writing, we are quite close to our "all is good"-purpose, which means that we are still in enterprise (due to contractual stuff we can not release any numbers appropriate now)! However, there are a handful of "buts" to all this.

The response we got from the game is a lot greater than we anticipated, but the sales are only "good" according to our, a lot far more modest, anticipated response. This makes us wonder what sales we would have gotten if the response would have been a lot more like what we thought it would be. If this is our time in the spotlight, then a lot less noticed game would probably put us out of enterprise. As it looks now, we nevertheless have to be fairly careful in budgeting our next game (although a lot significantly less cautious than what we had to be with Amnesia). We have been hoping a actually productive release would makes one hundred% unworried about finances, but that is not what has happened.

Can we actually judge sales from just 1 week? According to existing graphs: yes we can. Even although critiques maintain coming in from main outlets and we hold pushing out advertising material (videos, release of tools, and so on) sales are dropping quickly. Around 50% of our existing earnings exactly where created in less than a week and on pre-orders from ahead of release. The sales where at the top during the last hour of the Steam 20% discount, and has considering that dropped virtually exponentially, getting quite significantly halved each day. It will be truly exciting to see at what level it pans out.

This is of course not all the income we will make from the game, but is nevertheless a bit discouraging when comparing to current XBLA releases and comparable. So why is not sales larger? Piracy? Individuals waiting for future massive discounted sales? Game too scary / niched? Appropriate now we have not got a clue, but hopefully it will turn out to be clearer further on.

Lastly, as this was a multi-platform release, some preliminary sales distribution should be of interest. Around 90% was windows customers, five% Linux and five% Mac. In defense of Mac and Linux we did concentrate our advertising and marketing efforts on the Windows user base.

Technical Problems
When releasing for Computer, there is bound to be tons of technical troubles, particularly given that we released for three diverse OS. So it is kinda surprising that it has not been that a lot. As with Penumbra, the number a single issue has been OpenGL driver problems, some thing we unfortunately can't handle.

The largest single problem is almost certainly the issues the ATI X-series and below variety of cards for Windows. I'd like to add that we had tried it on a 9600 for a Mac successfully, but on Windows it fails due to numerous troubles. In a way this is a driver issue also, but I think it may be some piece of code that it just dislikes and I am hoping to fix it for an upcoming patch.

In basic game issues, there have been significantly less than expected too. There is the regular falling out of the map and physics messed up bugs, but much less than we believed there would be. In-game crashes are also really couple of (most triggered by some cache concerns it appears), which is nice and we feel that the game is fairly stable.

Game feedback
There has been a ton of feedback for the game and we attempt to read and discuss most of it. Discussing in detail would take up too a lot space so I will just take up two points, that I found further important.

The major point we will do for our subsequent game is to skip any "forced" and incoherent mechanics. What I imply by this is puzzles that does not really make sense in the game world and break the immersion. An example would be the corpse-puzzle that forces the player to use really specific products to complete it. Attempting to get rid of all these components and further boost the feeling of getting element of an actual globe, will be a single of our prime priorities.

One of the primary themes of the game, was for the player to gradually regain lost memories and to make up their thoughts about Daniel (ie their previous self). Whilst most nevertheless refer to the protagonist as "Daniel" (and not "me"), a lot of players have actually thought about the details discovered in a way we hoped. The game medium is so excellent for setting the audience at the center of the drama and force them to take a stance. It feels as if a lot of people did this in Amnesia, and we hope to take this even further and on various subjects for future games.

Final thoughts
On virtually all fronts, we region incredibly pleased with this release. It has in a lot of ways exceeded our expectations and it makes all the tough operate, pay cuts, and so on worth it in the end.

The most distressing issue is the sales even though. Even even though we are far from complaining, it feels like we do not have the economic safety we would like to have, to truly be able to focus on making the best game attainable. So what ought to we do? The issues we have discussed incorporate: Improve the cost of the game, carrying out a console port instead of Linux/Mac, do a significantly less niche title and far more. Now is too soon to make a decision even though and we have to see how the coming weeks and months go.

Ultimately, I know I say this a lot but we actually mean it: Thanks to all who have supported us by getting the game, spreading the word, and what not. We hope you all will continue supporting us in the future as well! All of Frictional Games sends their finest regards and thanks for this assistance!

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