In this edition…
As you may have heard we released our new game! That said, we’ve been busy since the initial release enhancing the game and starting our marketing effort. We’ve also been busy putting it on more devices.
This edition of ReAction has a lot of good information, including:
- Updated release schedule
- Update on pricing
- Recent enhancements to the game
- An interesting rumor, and a look at what’s coming in the future (including what Roberta and I are up to)
- An interview with Roberta and me
- Links to some of the recent press for the game
We have a lot to cover, so let’s dig in!
Already released and available now:
Coming in March (All dates subject to slippage, so no promises!)
- Sony PS4, Xbox X|S, Xbox One, Steam VR, Pico VR
- European and Asian release on the Nintendo Switch version of the game
Coming in April
- Sony PSVR 2, iPad
Coming in May
- iPhone, Android phones and tablets
“I have good news! Colossal Cave has a new price! Colossal Cave is now $24.99!(Note: Due to restrictions, Meta Quest 2 will not lower in price until April.) Behind the scenes, there was a debate between myself and our marketing group. I thought the correct price should be significantly higher, and we did launch at $40. But our marketing group insisted that the world has changed since Roberta and I last released a game, and that gamers expect lower prices from indie developers. There were a few reasons I felt a higher price was justified, including that this was a very expensive game to build! And yet, I’m not sure this is a game for everyone. It targets a fairly small slice of the market. It’s a mentally challenging game in a world where the bigger hits are action oriented. We didn’t want to cheapen the quality of the game. So, when you look at our production cost, and divide it by the size of the target market, you recognize that the price per copy needs to be high. I didn’t (and still don’t) consider $39.99 to be a big number. You can hardly go to the movies these days, with popcorn and parking, and not spend that much. Roberta’s last game sold over a million copies at $59.99, over 25 years ago! That’s probably over $100 in 2023 numbers. I’d also mention that many of today’s games, that are available at low cost, have in-game spending. We have none of that and don’t plan on using this game in any way to make money beyond the initial purchase. I should also mention that buying the game (at least through Steam) gives you all of: The Windows version, the Mac version, the Steam Deck version, and the Steam VR version (when it is available .. soon I hope!) The Steam Deck version is a true Linux version that runs awesome on a Steam Deck, and the Steam VR version of the game is a big step up from what we released on the Quest 2. I should probably also admit that we got pinged for a few things on the initial release of the Quest 2 version and we are addressing those issues now for our Steam VR version of the game. The Steam VR (or should I call it PC VR?) release will be an amazing one. From my perspective, it’s a heck of a deal. Note that all improved functionality and polish will be automatically updated on the Meta Quest 2, as well as all future VR ports. And all of that said: Today’s price points are lower and player expectations are for lower prices. It doesn’t matter what I think is fair, what math I run through my spreadsheets, or anything except what players think. The message I’ve heard is that $39.99 is too high, so we lowered it.”
RECENT ENHANCEMENTS TO THE GAME
– Price change – $24.99 (Quest 2 will update in April)
- Epic Games
- Nintendo Switch
- Meta Quest 2
- PlayStation 5
- GOG (New!)
- Humble Bundle (New!)
- Itch.io (Coming Soon!)
– It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but probably the biggest change we’ve made was to add text to the page that asks the player if they would like instructions. The way the original text game works is that if the player asks for instructions they are given 1,000 moves on the lamp, otherwise they are given only 300. Completing the game in 300 moves should only be attempted by someone playing the game to get the maximum 350 points. The idea is to take instructions until you have worked out your strategies for winning and then play again NOT taking instructions. The original game gave the player no indication of what was happening. We debated adding something but forced ourselves to be true to the original game. That turned out to be a bad idea, in that players were running out of lamp time.
– A less obvious change, but one with great impact was that we completely replaced all of the marketing information on places where the game is sold and added a video of Roberta playing the game. We are still in the process of ripping that content through the other store fronts. Our initial marketing information gave the impression that it was an action game. I never wanted that. It’s not an action game and anyone thinking it is will be disappointed. It’s more like an interactive escape room or puzzle game. It’s important that the right players buy the game, and that they know what they are getting. I also wanted to emphasize the history more. It’s a museum piece for people who want to see the history of gaming. We’re working on a documentary now that highlights the origins of the game.
– There are a couple mazes in the game, and they are impossible for some players. There are at least three solutions to the mazes that make them very easy. Mapping is one, but there are others that make them even simpler. There is a hint that pops up asking the player if they’d like a hint, but it was coming up only every 50 moves and was only in one of the two mazes. We dropped this to fewer moves and placed it in both mazes.
FYI – Don Woods, one of the authors of the original game played the game and gave this feedback with a fourth way to solve the maze (Spoiler alert!)
“I was dismayed at how trivial the all-alike maze becomes when the game fills in the map as I go. I just ran around a while and then looked to see what I had. And of course the pirate’s lair is much much easier to find given that the map reveals the northwest exit: the ONLY passage in that maze that isn’t E/W/N/S/U/D. I wasn’t sure what you’d do to make it harder to find, and instead the map makes it stand out! (The art for the lair itself was quite nice, btw.)“
– When a player would get killed and choose resurrection, the lamp counter was not being reset. In other words, if you were almost out of lamp light, and fell off a cliff, you’d still have the same number of time left in your lamp post-resurrection. We now give you a minimum of 300 moves in the lamp after resurrection.
– The hint on the grate (the entrance to the cave) was broken. We fixed it.
– There are some rooms that have passages that return you to the room from which you departed. There are also passages that roll the dice to decide where to take you. We added hints to these so that players would realize what was happening. Once again, the original text game gave the player no indication of what was happening, and we wanted to be faithful to the original. We treated the whole project as preserving history. However, now that we have real player feedback, we have softened a little and realize that some additional hints are needed.
– Various bug fixes, translation fixes (improved the Russian, Japanese, and Italian translations), and improved animations.
And there is more coming!
– We decided to bundle all five versions under one Steam key: PC, Mac, Steam Deck (a true Linux native Steam Deck version), Linux AND an amazing Steam VR version (coming very soon) There are some VERY dramatic enhancements that are in the Steam VR version over what was released on the Quest 2 VR (which has been updated with these changes).
– We’ve put a lot of effort into the VR versions of the game! The inventory system has been completely redesigned and coded. Plus, and I don’t like promising things that we haven’t released, but this is real, and I’ve played it, so it is coming. I’m just not sure exactly when, but we are adding a THIRD form of movement in VR. We have the classic mode which operates like most VR games you might play, and we have a special “comfort mode” that Roberta designed. We are now adding a Teleport mode, so that players who get nauseous in VR can play the game comfortably (or, at least more comfortably)
ROBERTA & I HAVE BEEN DOING A LOT OF PRESS
HERE’S ONE RECENT INTERVIEW
This is a podcast we did. It was a smaller podcast, but they did a nice job of interviewing us!
AN INTERESTING RUMOR AND A LOOK AHEAD
You may have seen some rumors in the press that we are talking to the team who made the game SpaceVenture. At this time the talks are strictly just that: “talk.” There is no agreement and there may never be an agreement. But here’s what I know: Scott Murphy and Mark Crowe developed the Space Quest seriesfor Sierra. After the company was sold and Roberta and I retired, Scott and Mark did a KickStarter to develop a game called SpaceVenture. It has the same twisted humor as their Space Quest games, and has been in development for almost 10 years. Roberta’s and my new company, Cygnus, has experience building games for lots of platforms, and in lots of languages, and can help get SpaceVenture more widely distributed. Space Quest was always one of my favorite games at Sierra and I’d love to find a way to help them bring the game to more people.
That said, Roberta and I were happily retired prior to building this game and are not sure we want to do more. We’ve been living real-world adventures by exploring the world on a small boat. I’ve been watching boat videos each morning and remembering our times spent at anchor with crystal clear blue water and white sand beaches. We’ve already started planning this summer’s cruising and are even working on a boat slip in Mexico for next Spring. I’ve signed up for the Elon Musk satellite service so we can have fast internet on the boat, so working from anywhere is possible. But, is working while boating what we really want to do? Your guess is as good as ours.
At this point we are very busy getting this game successfully launched, and after that we’ll go boating. Whether that will include working on SpaceVenture, or creating some new series of games, or just relaxing and enjoying the boating, we do not know.
We shall see.
AND LASTLY, HERE ARE LINKS TO SOME OF OUR OTHER RECENT PRESS FOR THE GAME, AND SOME VIDEOS WE HAVE DONE TO SHOWCASE THE GAME
EscapistMagazine: Industry Legends Ken & Roberta Williams on Remaking a Classic Adventure, Colossal Cave
GOG News: In-depth conversation with legendary Ken and Roberta Williams for the Colossal Cave release!
XRSource: Colossal Cave Coming to PS VR 2.
Adventure Game Geek: We love our fans and have a tendency to reach out and play with reviewers both big and small. Some really great videos coming up. Here’s just one of many fun ones we recently contributed to.
Price Changes, Updates, & “The Modern Boomer” Podcast!
- Colossal Cave is now $24.99!
- Updated release schedule, plus recent enhancements to the game
- We acknowledged an interesting rumor.
- Some interviews with Roberta and I, including The Modern Boomer podcast!
- Links to some of the recent press for the game