Speaking of returns…

Today a couple words about returns and refunds.
As you know, some time ago Steam has introduced refunds, which I think in general is a great idea. People are less afraid to try out new games and if something doesn’t go right, whether it is a hardware problem or the game just turns out to be something else they anticipated – they have no feeling of being cheated.
On the other hand, refunds can get bused in many ways. Some are obvious – when a cheap short game gets refunded even if the player enjoyed it. Others are more hidden. A fiend once told us he was inspecting a group of accounts that roughly at the same time bought a game, left negative feedback and refunded the game. While for games with already a lot of feedback these 10-12 negatives may not really affect, smaller and recently released games with only a handful of reviews may suffer a great deal. Their positive to negative ratio drops significantly, changing a Very Positive rating to Mixed (or worse) very quickly. What influence does it have on new sales? I don’t need to tell you.

Anyway, from time to time we browse refund reasons. These can really tell all sorts of problems the users encountered, that they in most cases didn’t want to bring up on the forums or didn’t bother to try and find a fix for. Such as mouse cursor being offset for non-native resolutions (thank you, Unity). And while some refunds could not have been avoided, from others we can draw conclusions as to what might have gone wrong and what can be improved. The percentage of returned purchases stays around a modest value of 4.3%, so it is a bit below average. Yet still, some are absolutely hilarious and I can’t help but to share with you the 5 best that I found (and I haven’t even browsed through all 2000 Steam lists). I truly hope their authors, even if not named, will not be upset 😉 Kept original spelling.

5. Accidental buy by my child, measures have been taken            //it’s so unfair to punish the poor kiddo for having a good taste… On the other hand PEGI rated Thea as “12” so it’s not appropriate for youngsters 😉
4. It’s cool but I really can’t afford this game now and need the money back thank you.          //behold the ancient Slavic Curse of Spending!
3. Purchased as gift- gift was declined.        //this almost broke my heart x]
2. Didnt know there was no multiplayer, bought the game twice to play with a friend. Angry             //I though this was funny but then Khash told me he’d like to try adding multiplayer. It was 1st of April so I’m still not sure if he really meant that 
1. dont like the game. I thought it was a first person game.              //it also isn’t a space shooter, in case anyone asks

Till next time!

 

The Giants return to Thea!

The DLC we promised is finally here! Have a look at the trailer, which sums up the most important features:


Below is a list of stuff you can expect:

New features:

– Localization to German, Polish, Russian and French,
– Full English voiceover for all events,
– Story Events Editor,
– 70 new events,
– 4 new building types,
– 9 new music tracks,
– Additional characters, items and events artwork,
– New human classes and monsters,
– New Quality attribute, which can modify equipment parameters,
– Compare items popup on Equipment screen,
– Research – clicking on a researched resource will show a popup, informing if it was found on the map and add an icon on the top of the HUD, allowing you to view its location,
– Logbook – added eye icon, which locates places linked to the quest,
– HUD – added Pause Menu button in the top left corner,
– HUD – New Turn message when your turn begins,
– Difficulty levels above 5 (up to 10),
– Lair spawn rebalanced to provide more variety and better difficulty control,
– Some recipes can now utilize the least valuable resources such as clay,

Changes:

– Improved Auto-resolve,
– Research costs are varied, some techs cost more than 1RP,
– Vine and Spiderweb give bonus to Ranged weapons,
– Inventory – added two +10 buttons when moving stacks of items,
– Village Warriors can wield 2-handed swords in one hand,
– Card Minigame – clicking on a message dismisses it

Fixes:

– Jewellery items now correctly take up one slot, allowing characters to wear two pieces of jewellery simultaneously,
– Reshuffle should give a different outcome every time,
– Crafting screen – requirement checking should now correctly take into account catalyst requirement.

We’ve been working hard on this addon for the past 4 months so hope you have a lot of fun with it!

Fun Facts!

Here’s a couple numbers related to development and sales of Thea:

  • The production started 19 months ago, in June 2014
  • Core development team of four was supported by several members of “friends & family” throughout the whole time of production
  • Cost of assets, outsourcing and other development-related (excluding living costs) totaled to ~£15.000
  • Over half of that cost was covered by revenue from selling Honey Hex Framework on Unity Asset Store, which is also a base used for Thea
  • As of end of January, the game has been sold to ~40.000 players and further ~100.000 have Thea on their wishlists
  • During 54 days of Early Access (28 Sept – 20 Nov 2015) we have released 110 updates, which greatly improved the game, thanks to community feedback
  • Thea earned 9% of its total income in one day after release from EA
  • 300 copies were sold to Mac and Linux users, even though we do not officially support these platforms (but we do offer working builds for them)
  • Top 5 countries, where we sold the most copies:
    • US – 34.4%
    • Germany – 9.3%
    • Russian Federation – 7.5%
    • United Kingdom – 7.5%
    • France – 6.0%
  • Total word count (including not yet released DLC content) amounts to ~200.000
  • Thea consists of ~60.000 214.360 lines of code (seems that Visual Studio’s counting is bugged so we counted line end characters and ended up with almost 3x as many lines).

Back to 5.1.4

I am writing this as a follow up, as 5.2.3p3 and also 5.2.4 turned out to be crashing quite a lot. It was actually crashing not only the build but also the whole editor. A couple days later 5.3.1 appeared, but the texture bug from 5.3.0 remained.

So the last stable, relatively bug-free release was Unity 5.1.4, which we’ll probably stick with for longer. All this testing and wasted time, only to move from 5.1.1 to 5.1.4… But there are also good news, and I only discovered this today – the button-offset-on-non-native-resolution bug seems to be fixed in this version! Now, off to delete the other 6 versions of Unity to save some disk space…

Love – hate relationship

Today I wanted to write a little bit about our planned update from Unity 5.1.1 to 5.3.0 and why it’s taking so long.

First, let me say, that Unity is a great engine. We really enjoy working with it. I might be more difficult to pump out high-end graphics on it (not that we care, we haven’t got resources to provide AAA graphics anyway), but it’s easy to work with and its UI editor is the best I’ve worked with so far. Having said that, I sadly have to admit that most of the recent releases have not been ideal (and I’m being diplomatic here).

5.1.1 we used so far was released in June, 2015. The major problems with it was the resolution glitch – when the player selected a resolution that was of different aspect ratio than their monitor’s, all buttons’ hit areas where offset significantly, making the gameplay rather difficult and navigation extremely annoying. Some of those, who encountered that problem, found a solution on our forums, but others just assumed the game is faulty. I don’t need to add, it resulted in at least several refunds (and I do understand that, as a buyer I would expect the game to work without having to look at forums for solutions). 5.1.1 also caused a sticky keys problem on Linux build (which is officially not supported, but if that’s something we can fix then we would). So, we waited for Unity 5.2…

Unity 5.2.x fixed all of the above and also, among other improvements, added dropdown boxes, which we wanted to use in the Event Editor we are working on. But life would be too easy if everything worked correctly, right? So this time, there was something messed up with physics. Profiler, even on a new, empty scene, kept showing spikes on physics every few seconds, up to 160 ms. This, unsurprisingly, resulted in poor game performance and framerate drops. So, we waited for Unity 5.3…

Unity 5.3 was released on 8th Dec. It did fix the framerate drops, so we started using it for the last week and were very optimistic that all serious issues from previous releases have been fixed. Until we started testing on DX9, Linux and Mac. Mac build was crashing straight away. Linux and DX9 had a very serious graphical glitch, were upon interaction with an animated element on scene, several other animated elements on that scene was assigned a different texture for 1 frame (like – a Cancel button was getting a font atlas texture). The visual effect was that half of the screen blinked for a split second. Not something we could have present in a release build…

So we scratched our heads and the best option was to revert to an earlier Unity build. There was only one candidate – 5.1.4, which in theory should be working without 5.2 physics spikes, but with sticky keys for Linux fixed. This was all fine, but it would mean the resolution bug would still be present, at this bug alone was the main reason to move away from 5.1.x. And we would lose about one weeks worth of changes to try and apply it to an earlier version.

So we scratched our heads even more, and discovered that at the end of November, Unity released version 5.2.3. This one had resolution problems fixed, sticky Linux key fixed and no spike on physics. It also includes UI dropdown boxes and fixes some glitches with Input fields. But because it’s still 5.2.x series, it has no texture flickering glitch, that was added to 5.3.0 as a side effect of asynchronous texture loading to improve performance. At this point it needs more tests to use it for a release build, but we have high hopes.

So the past few days were full of very emotional reactions, thanks for the thrill Unity! 😀

Top Seller on Steam

We’re now one day after launch and things are looking really good. Since yesterday we have sold as many copies as through the entire Early Access period. That’s mostly thanks to improved visibility on the main page, but also a number of people avoid EA titles until they actually get released (as many is not). At the time of writing this, we settled on the last 10th spot of Steam’s Top Sellers list. Very serious competition sits above (and below too), so let’s see how long it lasts. Here’s a memorial screenshot, when we were on #9 😛

Top Sellers

20th November!

So, here’s the official announcement – Thea: The Awakening will be out of Early Access on 20th November!

ReleasePic

The game is DRM-free, so once you download it, you may copy it to any PC you’d like and also play with your Steam client off.

Thanks to IMGN.PRO, our publishing partner, we’ve got a hub, where you can see all stores selling Thea and choose the one you prefer. Click here.

Latest news

First of all, apologies for the lack of updates here. We’ve actually got plenty of news to announce, so without too much babbling:

Thea is now available on Humble Store and Greenman Gaming (also on Steam, but that’s hardly news). GoG, even though many people asked for it, declined having the game on their store. It is a bit sad, but there’s not much we can do. Still, we want to make the game DRM-free after 1.0 release, so you’ll be able to play it on any PC, without Steam client or Internet connection.

Another thing is that we have started cooperation with IMGN.PRO, who will be coordinating sales of PC version on all platforms not mentioned above. More news relating to this will be revealed in the near future, but we’re very excited about this!

And the last, but not least – we have set a date of release from Early Access! Those of you who spend a lot of time on our Community Hub on Steam may already now it’s happening this month. We’ll be announcing the date on 13th Nov with some pretty artwork, but hopefully Yuuki doesn’t kill me if I spill the beans that it’s 20 November 😀

I would also mention all the improvements and updates for Thea that were added in the last weeks, but the list would get too long for its own good. So in short – new map navigation, improved UI navigation and panel accessibility, new card game backgrounds, tons of fixes and tweaks in every aspect of the game. If you really want to read the whole thing – head over to Steam forums and News section.

Cheers!

Our first week in Early Access

Hey all!

A week has passed since we launched Thea so I though I’d write a short summary.

When launching, we really had no idea what to expect. We’re a small team with no previous Steam releases. We’ve got small (but fantastic) community following the production, but our social reach is quite limited. Thea is an innovative game but it does need some work in many areas – UI, balance, help system – to name a few. There are bugs and spiders and other nasties lurking in many places we had no idea existed.

So when we hit the Publish button and all the positive reviews started coming in, it really put a big smile on our faces. At the time of writing this post, we’ve got 78 reviews and 76 of them are positive (so 97%). I spent the entire week replying to requests from youtubers and review sites. We’ve pushed 8 updates fixing stuff (also managed to break the game for a couple hours :P). We’ve got lots of feedback and requests from the community, and the community we’ve got is absolutely fantastic!

Right now we’re preparing a new update, that, among other things, adds the ability to reshuffle cards before a challenge.

Also, a number of people asked us when will they be able to buy Thea on GOG.com. For the game to be considered by their marketing department, they need to see there is a demand for it. So if you’d rather buy the game there – please support us by leaving your vote on their website.

Thanks all!