Today marks two weeks since launching Dungeon Rustlers on Steam's Early Access platform. It also marks the second major patch we've shipped - a fun milestone for sure.
For those just tuning in, our plan was to get into the Steam EA program as soon as we had a viable game. It was playable, had the core mechanics in place, and was certainly enjoyable to romp through. We were going to use the EA program as a way to crowdsource feedback on what needed fixing, balanced, and improved. We've been getting a steady stream of that thus far, and it's helped make a better game.
Each Tuesday, we're releasing a patch with as much functionality as we can cram in during the week prior. For the first two patches, the plan was to release additional playable class types. Today's patch finishes that cycle. The task now is to release the rest of the levels and additional "quality of life" enhancements.
v0.3.0 - Challenges Faced
As previously mentioned, today's patch brings the final playable class (The Archer) as well as 10 additional levels, among other features. Read the full patch announcement here. An interesting challenge that has arisen is balancing the game for such a wide range of gamers. We've had very casual players speak to how difficult it can be, and more "seasoned" players remark that it's entirely too easy. Obviously, making a game that's super difficult will yield you nothing but poor reviews, and bad sales, but the inverse will result in even worse press: "not enough value". With so many other titles on Steam, getting the replay value per dollar ratio nailed down seems to be an important consideration.
Steam Sales Thus Far
When pitching the idea of making Dungeon Rustlers to my co-developer, I looked at other titles on SteamSpy and thought: "hey, I can make a game easily that good and land that many sales". Thus far, I've underestimated sales by a factor so large I'm embarrassed to even mention it! Maybe we just made a crappy game, maybe we've poorly marketed it, maybe we released it at a bad time, maybe the Great Gaben has frowned upon us and scoffed at our attempt to be game devs. Whatever the reason, it's certainly not enough (thus far) to warrant an optimistic financial outlook.
The Show Must Go On
Regardless of sales, my co-developer and I are plodding on! This was a learning exercise and personal challenge for us both from day one. This GDC talk from Jake Birkett adequately covers my mindset going forward: This is a long journey! To have a completed title under my belt in 3 to 4 moths time is a fantastic start. Once 1.0 is reached, it'll be important to reflect back, learn from failures on the project, magnify the successes, and make the next project that much better.
On to 0.4.0!