Somber Dawn Studios

Somber Dawn Studios is an independent video game studio located in St. Louis and southeast Missouri.

From Greenlight to Steam Direct: Intrusion Protocol Will Launch in August (UPDATE: Now July 20th!)

UPDATE: Since the writing of this post, we've announced a release date of 7-20-2017. Check out the Steam store page!

Everyone knew that Greenlight was coming to an end and Steam Direct was approaching. Yet somehow the Greenlight shutdown still seemed to come out of the blue. It had been about 4 months since Valve had announced the ridiculously wide range for how much Direct could cost developers. So we waited, continuing our work on Intrusion Protocol, not even knowing if we’d be able to afford a Steam release on Direct. We took comfort in the fact that we were working with Valve time. They say Direct will come summer 2017? That must mean it’ll be at least 2018. And for a while we thought we were right. The price remained up in the air, and word from people meeting with Valve (TotalBiscuit and Jim Sterling, specifically) indicated the changes to the system were far from complete. So, we put Intrusion Protocol on Greenlight. Better to pay $100 and try to get it on Steam than be slapped with a $5,000 fee down the road.

As I covered in my last blog post, on June 2nd, Valve announced the price for Steam Direct would be the lowest they said it could be: $100 per game. Even at this point, we assumed we had plenty of time for the Greenlight to keep going. Cool, they have a price. Now they have to take the time to work everything else out, right?

Welp, four short days later, Greenlight shut down and Valve announced that in just over a week Steam Direct would be live. It seems like Valve went from idling in the right lane to flooring it. Needless to say, this threw a wrench in our gears. Now we are taking that wrench out and using it.

Do you regret starting a Greenlight knowing it was coming to an end?

Not one bit. We learned so much from Intrusion Protocol’s Greenlight campaign. Marketing, writing, making trailers, scheduling, you name it, we learned something about it. Besides, if you paid the Greenlight fee and didn’t get a game Greenlit, you get your fee refunded. As far as I’m concerned, we got a free trial run on marketing and launching a game.

Before the Greenlight shutdown and announcement of the Steam Direct fee, the plan for Intrusion Protocol looked something like this:

The Old Plan

  • 20 levels in the final product
  • Keep driving traffic to the Greenlight page.
  • Release a 10-level build via itch.io to start selling around PixelPop.
  • Use the 10-level build to help further promote the Greenlight.
  • Release the full 20-level game on Steam via Greenlight or Direct.
  • Allow the 10-level build itch.io buyers to purchase the additional 10 levels at an appropriate discount.

Overall, we thought this was a pretty solid plan. And then Greenlight was no more. After learning we’d be able to use Steam Direct a lot sooner than we thought, a new, far more simple plan emerged.

The New Plan

  • 10 levels in the final product
  • Release via Steam Direct and itch.io at the same time around PixelPop.

What? So you just cut the game in half? What a rip-off!

It’s true that we originally planned 20 levels. Cutting that number in half may seem at first glance that we are releasing half a game. That’s certainly not the case, and there are many sound reasons for the change.

Greenlight was our bottleneck.

PLEASE VOTE FOR MY GAME SO I CAN SELL IT!

PLEASE VOTE FOR MY GAME SO I CAN SELL IT!

Oh, never mind. I can just straight-up sell it now!

Oh, never mind. I can just straight-up sell it now!

We had no idea when we’d have the ability to release on Steam, so we had time to build a bunch of levels while we promoted the Greenlight. Now that we will be able to release much sooner with Direct, we no longer have that bottleneck.

Each level can take a while.

After demoing our first 5 levels multiple times, we realized that they took a lot longer than we thought. Sure, a few people did exceptionally well and blazed through them, but that was definitely the exception, not the standard. And those 5 levels were the easy ones!

10 levels meets our goals.

Intrusion Protocol was never meant to be a large game. From the start our #1 goal for our first game has been simple: Successfully release a game that doesn’t suck. Anything beyond that is icing on the cake. When we began immersing ourselves in the game dev industry, we started seeing a common story. A remarkable number of developers work for years on their various projects and never release anything. While this is totally fine for hobbyists, we didn’t want to fall into that cycle as a business. We are determined to make Intrusion Protocol a quality game, but we don’t want it to become a time and resource hog.

PixelPop

With the old plan, we wanted to use our itch.io release to generate interest for the Greenlight at PixelPop. Now, we don’t need to generate that interest. We can either simply sell the game, or tell people it will be out very soon and direct them where to go to buy it. PixelPop was the reason for our original itch.io release timing, and now it’s a huge reason for our full game release timing.

Quality

We can make a 10-level game that has a higher level of consistent quality than one with 20 levels. We can pour all of our efforts into fewer levels instead of running the risk of spreading ourselves too thin.

Price

Although we do not have a final price set in stone yet, Intrusion Protocol was never meant to be a pricey game. Small scope, small price. We won't put the game up for sale at a price that will make people feel cheated. That is true regardless of the number of levels.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. The sudden switch to Greenlight threw off all of our plans. Instead of resulting in complaints and delays, we are turning it into an opportunity to launch a better game much sooner than we expected. Use the boxes below to either get major updates (no spam, we promise) about Intrusion Protocol, or simply get a single reminder email when it launches. As always, you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook to see what we're up to and when we're up to it.

Fellow game developers, how have you had to adjust your plans after big, unexpected changes outside of your control? Please share your stories in the comments!

Powered by Squarespace