Jan 282013

I am not working on Windward for the time being, so it’s free. If you want to know why, here is a detailed explanation.

It’s no secret that I have been pretty disappointed with Windward’s progress. After dumping $71k into its development over the course of the 8 months last year and working 16 hours a day 7 days a week, it just… didn’t seem to go anywhere and got no traction. Why? Well, let’s examine what happened.

At first I was pretty excited — Windward got picked up by the indie press in May, back when it was just a very rough prototype. Two major indie news sites — Indiegames and RPS both did an article on it, resulting in ~5000 gamers checking it out. I figured hey, this ain’t so bad! Or so I thought.

After weeks of frantic work to get multiplayer working properly for players to enjoy, I sent out a news update to the same sites (with a detailed breakdown of what changed, screenshots and game videos linked), but with the lone exception of IGM, they didn’t even acknowledge my emails. Peachy. I mean… I put effort into them, is it really so hard to say “thanks, but we did an article on it just a month ago, please wait until you add more content” or something along those lines? Even a generic automated response, something along the lines of “thank you, we received your email”? But nothing at all? I tried it again a month later… and a month after that — same result: ignored.

At that point I just gave up on that. I have a feeling my first post only got picked up because I mentioned that Windward was inspired by Sid Meier’s Pirates. This feeling was reinforced when the first reddit post I made about the game gathered +73 votes, while the second one (which did not mention Sid Meier nor Pirates) only got +2. The third one, again mentioning Pirates (but no Sid Meier-inspired in the title) got +22. I have a lot of respect for Sid Meier and absolutely love all his games, and I refuse to milk his name just to get noticed.

That was about the time I set up an IndieDB page for it — and that was by far a much more pleasant experience. Posting news there is easy, and gets a bunch of views every time, which a high chance of hitting the top 10 list, netting player feedback… valuable,  precious feedback. No snobby editors to get through to, just post your news and people will read it.

Steam Greenlight… ugh… I set up a page for Windward on September 2nd with a gameplay video, a bunch of screenshots, and a detailed writeup. I got something like 400 favorites in the first hour, after which it disappeared from the front page and visibility dropped to 0. Literally. I’ve gotten 87  more favorites after that. In 4 months.

Which brings me to Desura. Made by the same chaps as IndieDB, it was pretty easy to get set up there as well (although understandably more hurdles than IndieDB). The update approval process takes a few days, but is otherwise pretty painless. As a bonus, posting news on IndieDB makes them visible on Desura, and vice versa. Smart move. Unfortunately Desura doesn’t have anywhere near the same market share as Steam, and the 68 units sold via Desura added up to $462 in 4 months… meaning I still haven’t seen any of it as the payout will only happen once the balance reaches $500. (Edit: Desura guys were cool enough to mention that they don’t mind paying out early if I request it.)

Which… it likely never will, as I’m making the game free until further notice. I just don’t feel right charging for a game I no longer have any time or motivation to keep working on.

If you actually like the game — you are welcome to play it. Just create an account, and it will be treated as a paid account. Just note that it never got out of Beta, so expect bugs — especially on Linux.

P.S. Read this too: http://www.tasharen.com/forum/index.php?topic=3114