The Games > Order of the Thorne : The King's Challenge

Post-mortem thoughts

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Not only do I not have a Twitter account, I also don't have one for Disqus! :p

Feedback was requested, so here it is:

1) Submit this to Gamasutra if you can.  It's a good read, maybe could use some fleshing out but I think this is the start of a conversation that needs to happen sooner or later.  IQ is uniquely positioned as a team which successfully delivered multiple KS projects (QfI, the companion book, and TKC/RtR/FoF), you're a considerable part of what people were dubbing years ago as a "revival" of adventure games, and you're operating in a niche most places don't really talk about.  So many different lenses to talk about this from!

2) The game itself is fine I thought.  I agree that the tone is different than QfI but that seemed intentional (I think I said as much in another thread) since this felt like something aimed at families whereas QfI is what the parents played after the kids went to bed.  I don't necessarily agree that bright and "candy colored" and cheerful isn't something people are interested in.  Look at the success of something like Pokemon Go or many other mobile games which feature bright colorful art.  Or even Amanita Design's stuff which is usually fairly colorful and isn't cynical or "grimdark" (I think).  But I'm also not really tapped in that tightly to what's selling on the market for adventure games.  It might just be possible that there's not a big audience for games that adhere closely to the Sierra style or maybe knight n' princesses style fantasy games/stories are out of favor due to things like Game of Thrones, Dragon Age, and The Witcher.

3) External factors.  I think the King's Quest reboot launching prior to TKC was unfortunate for you guys.  IQ (as well as AGDI/Himalaya and Phoenix) have a pretty good claim to the legacy of Sierra since you've been the public face of maintaining their franchises in the public eye via your VGA remakes.  Maybe if KQ hadn't been rebooted maybe there'd have been more pent-up interest in a "spiritual successor" of sorts?

Coverage in the press also seemed pretty non-existant.  Of the sites that cover PC, I primarily read Eurogamer, RPS, and USGamer.  None of them really had anything in the way of coverage for OotT.  This is especially weird considering RPS did a news post and review about QfI and Richard Cobbett also talked briefly about QfI in one of his regular columns there.  Checking a couple other sites further... There's a news blurb on PCGamer shortly after release but no review, a review on AdventureGamers, nothing on Destructoid, nothing on Polygon.

(On a side note: I'm not 100% sure when it went into effect but I believe Eurogamer also instituted a policy within the last year where they don't review 'episodic' titles until the series is complete.  I'm not totally sure I would consider OotT as episodic but I think you could make a case for that designation when it was originally pitched as a 4-part anthology series.)

So that kinda sucks.  I'm sure you guys got notices out to these sites but it wouldn't surprise me if part of the reason sales are low are because there wasn't much press.  I know the only reason I discovered QfI in the first place was because PCGamer included it in one of their year-end "Upcoming games we're excited about" back in like 2011 (likely because Richard Cobbett was still freelancing with them regularly).

The lack of Richard Cobbett writing probably hasn't helped you either.  For me, and probably others, he's probably been one of the biggest advocates for the genre (and especially classic gems in the genre) among the mainstream press.  As a freelancer he had a pretty good reach between Eurogamer, PCGamer, and RPS.

Would having a publisher have helped more with getting the word out?  I got the sense from QfI that was the main benefit from signing with Phoenix, but that's just an observation.  I have no idea what your arrangement with POS was.

4) Maybe the game needed to be marketed more as a family-friendly adventure?


I need to wrap up this up pretty quick here but here's a some more general thoughts

1) If at all possible I think it would be a good idea to treat QfI 2.0 as a re-launch of the game.  Not in the shifty "let's change the title and get a new Steam/Metacritic id" sense, but as a chance to try and get another round of publicity and sales from it.  Get a new trailer together if you have time.  Seed out some copies to outlets who didn't cover it originally, specifically targeting anyone who's covered the IA remakes in the past.  Revamp your store presences with any awards you won (I know you won some AGS awards).

2) Improve communication with your fans and backers.  I don't remember the last time I've seen an update on Roehm to Ruin or Fortress of Fire in the Kickstarter updates section.  I don't care for constant updates in my inbox but large periods of radio silence make me nervous (*cough*Spaceventure*cough*).  I expect most of the backers on either project even know that you did a post-mortem or the other recent developments.  Another idea here might be an IQ newsletter... it's a little slimy but you've got emails for most of your backers right?  Put them on the newsletter and blast out a reminder about OooT and how the new games are coming along.  Newsletter would be a good way to keep in touch with fans who aren't really on social media or aren't really paying attention to gaming sites.

3) I saw something on Twitter that you guys still get a decent number of inquiries about SQ3 VGA.  Is there anything you can do on the Infamous Adventures site to drive more traffic to the pages for QfI or TKC?

4) Not that you should try and get Youtuber stars to cover the game (that'd be cool but I think the appeal of your games wouldn't be something "the youth" would "get") but maybe as a promotional thing do a stream or do a podcast to talk about your inspirations (ie. Sierra and LucasArts games) as a sort of self-promotion / side project?

5) This relates to #1, but can you get endorsements/"box-quotes" for any of your games from any of the Sierra alumni?  What about other indie adventure game developers? Or someone like Jeff Vogel who deals in lo-fi somewhat throw-backish RPGs?

6) Are Steam coupons still a thing?  Could you send out coupons to owners of either game with a non-trivial (but not great) discount for the other game?

7) When the new games launch, maybe try offering a bundle so people can pick up the new game and the previous release for a slight discount on the price of both?  For example a bundle with QfI and Rohem or a bundle with TKC and Fortress.

8) Can you get in on any upcoming Humble Bundles or their monthly subscription service?

9) Where do Sierra/LucasArts fans congregate these days?  Are there any places with a higher than average concentration of older gamers?  One of the podcasts I listen to, Gamers with Jobs, caters more towards the older crowd with most of the hosts in their 30's or older.  Maybe there's other communities like that?

10) Keep up whatever you are doing on Twitter in regards to Stranger Things.  You know how to tap into that 80's nostalgia vein, and I keep hoping that turns into one of those "right place, right time" success stories.  (Even if nothing comes of it, at least put it out as a fan game and make some noise.  I noticed VG247 ran an article yesterday about some sprite art for the show.  So there's enough interest to get attention in places)

Some more thoughts:

1) Add the QfI hint/art book available as DLC on Steam if you can.  Then create a $20 "deluxe" edition including it.  Maybe you'll get some extra cash that way?  Also, why isn't it even available on the game's website?  I don't know about the official wiki but I checked and there's absolutely 0 FAQs for the game on GameFAQs, so if you're stuck on a puzzle or quest (like I was) you're really stuck!

2) Can you work something out with James to get the OSTs for your games on Steam as DLC?  That probably won't help out IQ financially but it might help him get some extra cash for his work.

3) Add a Finn cameo appearance in QfI 2.0 if you haven't already.  I know it's gaudy and shameless, but it's totally in the spirit of Sierra and games of that era.  Ask me about Loom!

4) In addition to cameos, Sierra games used to put plugs for upcoming or past games in their about screens.  It can't hurt to do something like that in QfI or TKC right?

5) Bryan Cebulski and Jonathan Kaharl seem to cover AGS games for  See if you can get in contact with them to write about your games.

6) If you have the resources, would adding additional language support help?  Is that something AGS supports?

So I did some digging around and answered a couple of my own questions:

1.  An IQ newsletter does exist.  I found I had received a couple emails announcing the R2R/OotT kickstarter but I've got nothing in my email that announces OotT was actually released.  If I wasn't a backer of OotT I likely wouldn't know about the game's existence.

2.  I did find the QfI hint/art book for sale on the website.  But it's not exactly intuitive how to find.  The only way to get to the page selling it is to either click the "Games" section link or from the 4th segment in the image carousel.  There's nothing on the QfI product page that indicates the book exists!

And since thoughts and electrons are somewhat cheap here's a couple additional thoughts/suggestions:

1.  I would absolutely love to buy a simple IQ T-shirt (ie. just the name on the front and the logo on the back) from you guys.  One of the podcasts I used to listen to did a shortlived T-shirt sale through Teespring as a way to raise some cash.  I don't know what their margins were but maybe this is something you could look into?  I would gladly pay $15-25 for a shirt like this.

2.  Add a "Store" page to the website which puts everything you've got for sale in a single location.  This is one of the things I like about the layout of Wadjet Eye's website.  Make sure to include links to other storefronts where the game can be bought as some people (like myself) prefer some stores to others.

3.  If the Stranger Things fangame ever becomes publicly available, put a message at the end thanking people for playing and to check out your other games if they want to support you.

4.  RPGamer did a series of retro-reviews of the QfG series last year.  So maybe fire a copy of QfI at them once 2.0 is done?

5.  I suggested bundles earlier, but what about an AGS themed Humble Bundle with Himalaya, Clifftop, Screen 7, Owl Cave, Harvester, Crystal Cave, Wadjet Eye, and other community members?

6.  Any chance of you guys attending local game festivals?  We've got the Boston Festival of Indie Games in my area and I know Phoenix has exhibited there in the past.

I think that's everything I've got.  I don't know how realistic any of my past suggestions have been and I have no qualms about any of them being silver bullets to solve things overnight.  But I'm hoping that maybe, just maybe, some of them will help and maybe get the ball rolling towards getting the good word out about your games.

More importantly, is there anything we can do as fans to help you guys out?  I've been gifting copies of your games on Steam to people I know in hopes that maybe other people will find enjoyment and pass word or copies along to their friends.  I'm kinda running out of people to gift to so I'm feeling like I've done the best I can but it doesn't feel like it'll make a difference with only a couple copies here and there :(

EDIT:  Just found that JustAdventure did a review of QfI but nothing for OotT.  Give them a holler?

I'm not at my computer at the moment so I can't be more indepth, but a couple of quick notes. Thanks for all the suggestions, too! We really do appreciate it.

5. We (and every other developer) has no say in bundles by which I mean the company doing the bundle puts together a package and offers it to prospective companies who decide yay or nah on it. I will say that Humble is THE one to get into, but we've yet to be offered one from them - we do sell via their store though so we're certainly on their radar. Most bundles are worthless from a developer point of view. One that QFI was in gave us back 14c per copy. That's really just bullshit giving it away.

6. We have. We've done PAX East, GDC, Adventure Con and a couple of other smaller ones in Australia, the UK and America. Unfortunately, they're not cheap to attend, even the smaller ones.

@shoptroll @Klytos   Where exactly did you find the ability to purchase the QFI hintbook on IQ's website?  I can't find it anywhere on this site, as I very much would like a copy of it.  edit,  I found the link to buy the digital companion, however I want a physical copy if possible.



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