Bad news and good news
Bad first: Steam (PC/Mac) release has been pushed to September 27th.
The good news is that reception on the Xbox version has been totally overwhelming for our little team of developers. Mostly it has been very positive, as you can see from the early reviews (link).
With the large number of players on Xbox we have also uncovered bugs we want to fix, both in the Xbox and Steam version. We simply do not have the capacity to do it all and do it well at the same time.
So we would rather take the heat for pushing the release now, rather than releasing a game on Steam we are not happy with.
Please bear with us, and if the response from the Xbox players is something to go by, all you Steam, PS4 and Nintendo gamers waiting for Earthlock: Festival of Magic have something to look forward to!
And just so you can understand we have got our hands full, here is an overview of the coming milestones:
The Snowcastle Team
Snowcastle Games is looking for two in-house Game Programming Interns. Relocation to our office in Oslo, Norway is a requirement.
Valued Additional Experience:
If you feel you meet the criteria above, please email your resume and cover letter in either English or Norwegian to firstname.lastname@example.org .
After 5 years of development, we have officially set the launch date for Xbox One. Steam PS4 and WiiU will follow a month or two afterwards.
Check out the trailer bellow:
Status Report: We are still going through the certification processes. This is our first time so it is taking us longer than hoped for.
Age Rating Process: We started this process back in mid April, six weeks later and down $7,849, we now have all the ratings we need to move ahead. It’s the year 2016 but some of the rating agencies are not capable of downloading a 5Gb game and need it burned on a DVD and physically shipped. This made for an interesting dilemma considering none of our computers came with a stock DVD burner. For those interested in our ratings, the processing time and costs of each rating, check out the table below.
Ratings Cost Breakdown
Beta Testing: Your patience has paid off and it’s time for beta testing. Today, our beta version is live on steam and those who have backed the appropriate tier are invited to give us some much valued feedback. Within the next few hours, you will receive an email from Snowcastle with your Steam beta key. For those who have downloaded the alpha version, your game will automatically update so there is nothing for you to do there.
Note: be sure to check your junk folder if you have not received your key by the end of the day
All feedback you guys have for us can emailed to email@example.com or you can send us a message to our facebook page if you'd prefer.
We will also be sending out a survey in the next few days that will hold multiple questions about the game and your experience. Any feedback is greatly appreciated and the more constructive, the better!
Important Note: This version of the beta will only work with platform controllers (PS4/Xboxone/Xbox360) We will be adding Steam controller support, and PC mouse support later on.
Spoiler Warning: This game does not represent the final version of Earthlock: Festival of Magic. Therefore for those of you who would just like to enjoy the game, we suggest waiting until the official launch.
Please: If you guys would like to take screenshots or video recordings of the game, we kindly ask for you to consult with us first before sharing it with the world. This is until the game is officially launched, after which you are more then free to do what you would like.
As soon as we know more and have been certified, you guys will be one of the first to know!
All the best,
The Snowcastle Team
In This Update
As scheduled, back in February we were more or less done the game, but we felt there was missing some flow. With you guys in mind we made the decision to add a few more dungeons as well as tweaking the beginning and ending of the game. Dedicating this month and the next to those tasks, we can feel the growing level of consistent quality throughout the whole game. Once the entire game is up to our standards, which we plan it to be by the end of April, we can fully dedicate our time to the console certification processes. If that goes smoothly we’ll have a summer release date.
My GDC ExperienceIntroduced in the previous updates, I’m Andrew, Snowcastles’ new PR and Marketing Manager. Though I’ve been addicted to video games my whole life and know my fair share about the gaming industry, none of this prepared me for what my first GDC experience was. For those of you who have been, well, you know what’s like. But for those of you who haven’t, I’ll try and summarize my experience in a short paragraph. This place was massive, I’m talking two enclosed rooms the size of a football field, filled with everything that is gaming. You had indie teams from around the world mixed with some of the biggest industry leaders. Now fill these rooms with thousands of gaming fanatics and you get GDC.
Our booth was located in the GDC Play area of the event where we were lucky enough to meet quite a few of you guys. Shout out to the guys from Hex Heroes who brought us some well needed food to get us through the last few hours. It was an awesome experience. Though I did feel like I was drowning a bit in the craziness of GDC at times, I was able to meet some industry veterans and key members of the press. All in all, it was everything you’d expect from a gaming conference and so much more. By the way, got to try Oculus Rift’s Valkyrie Multiplayer simulator… Can confidently say I will be losing quite a few hours of my life to that once I can eventually get my hands on one of those bad boys.
Earthlock Showcase at GDC
Our Current Thoughts On Our Release Plans
As you know we will be releasing first on XboxOne and then the other platforms will follow.
Seeing as this is our first experience releasing a game to multiple platforms, it’s been a bit of a conundrum for us deciding our release order. One of the takeaways from GDC was some insight regarding our launch strategy. We had the opportunity to discuss our situation with some industry veterans and shared with them the feedback some of you backers have given us.
Option 1: Sales first
The first option is to release the game on XboxOne and Steam simultaneously. The upside to this option is giving earlier access to more of our backers while increasing our initial sales.
Option 2: Quality first
The second option is to release on PS4 and Steam after our initial release on XboxOne. The upside to this would be allowing us to make changes to Earthlock based on the feedback given after the initial XboxOne release if needed.
Just wanted to keep you guys in the loop on where our heads are at here at Snowcastle.
This was my first update for you guys and I hope was able to answer more questions that I might have created. I’ll be back next month with what I hope to be the most exciting update yet.
The Snowcastle Team
A year has passed since we successfully ended the Kickstarter. We have come a long way since then. The team has grown, and we have become better at what we do. The scope of the project has in most ways remained the same, but we have adjusted here and refined there.
Tavern by the canal in Suvia
After the kickstarter was over, we spent a few weeks recovering from the strain that running a kickstarter is. It was without a doubt the most straining but also rewarding work we ever have done. After that, we spent some time nailing down the story and world lore with our new writer, Magnus Aspli. Then we updated our production plan with the resources we expected to have. To increase production speed we hired a new Senior Game Programmer, Kenny, who came over from Ubisoft after having worked on FarCry 4.
During the summer, we got the story down, gave the combat gameplay a major overhaul and began the work on several new areas. We spent the fall creating new monsters, player characters, locations and testing and refining our new combat system.
Equally important, but easy to oversee was all the tools and extensions to the Unity Editor we developed. We have developed a custom tool pack for Earthlock that could be compared to RPG Maker in terms of flexibility and ease of use, but with the Unity Engine as base. This is has taken a lot of resources, but is worth the investment since we are making 3 games in the Earthlock series and it will greatly increase our production speed.
Subtrain station in Suvia
Beginning the new year, we hired Thomas, our new Senior Game Designer who came to us after having worked at Rockstar, and then began the preparations for GDC 2015. Our comic book was mostly done and we brought a 16 pager limited print to GDC.
Passing March 2015, our original estimated release date, we pushed the release for the second time to Q4 2015. On top of that we just upgraded to the new Unity 5 engine. It’s always a lot of work to upgrade the game engine, but we had to in order to enable publishing for the consoles. Delaying always a balance between completing a good game and not running out of money before the game is done. We are so fortunate that we have enough funds to complete the game as long as we get it done before the end of the year. It’s still going to require that we are super efficient and work really hard to get the game ready in time for this deadline, but we are getting a really good feeling with the scope of the project now so our prediction accuracy is increasing.
We just passed April 10th the 1 year anniversary for the Kickstarter! We now have the whole game gray boxed and we are now focusing on completing the first chapter (the first 30% of the game). It’s a bit hard for outsiders to scope how far we are in production, but keep in mind that the tools, all the systems, the combat design and the crafting design are all big chunks of the production that we have completed. Moving forward, we expect to greatly increase production speed since it all builds on the ground work that we have completed. To increase production speed even further, we are also now hiring a new environment artist in-house.
As soon as we have a good playable and completed chunk of the game we will invite alpha testers. The purpose of alpha testing is to get real feedback that we can use to improve the game. There is no point testing the game before we have something we think works well. We will need at least May to get there and we will update you all on the progress in the next update in May.
We have great ambitions for Earthlock and will always try to make the best game possible with the resources we have available!
That's it for now.
– Snowcastle Team
Since GDC we have been busy with:
Our friends over at Red Thread Games have just released the second episode of Dreamfall Chapters! It has gotten really great reviews, so if you are into adventure games, this might be worth your time, and it's on 30% sale for the next 2 hours!
The Snowcastle Team
Hey everyone! Here's the first report from GDC!
This year we brought Bendik, Frits, Eivind, Kenny and Thomas for the show floor at GDC Play. Eivind won a scolarship so he has been off to lectures about Artificial Intelligence and other cool stuff.
Yesterday we were showcasing Earthlock at Microsoft's indie event in San Francisco. It was a superb event with a bunch of other awesome indie developers we were proud to be amongst.
Thomas French, our new veteran Game Designer with 10 years at Rockstar North under his belt, started working on March 1st, the same day we flew from Norway to San Francisco so yesterday was his first day of real work! Talk about hitting the ground running!
And here is a photo of the handsome Scotsman:
The first two mentions from this event are pretty cool too! Check the links underneath:
Microsoft also provided us with some sweet Xbox One controllers with our own custom designed skin!
-The Snowcastle gang
For previous updates about Snowcastle and Earthlock: Festival of Magic, please go to our Kickstarter pages here