For backers only. If you're a backer of this project, please log in to read this post.
Hey everyone, I know that you guys have been asking for an update so I wanted to jump in with a less content heavy, but more information based approach. I also wanted to add that I'm making a commitment, based on the responses I've gotten from the backers, to make an update every month from here on out. I have a tendency to get overwhelmed with the amount of writing, updates and outreach I have to do these days, so I let these kinds of things slip. It's not excusable, so I'm going to be making sure I stick to a schedule of doing an update every month to give you guys details on what's happening.
I haven't given more updates because we're just really deep in development and there's not always much to show, but I know that you guys have a stake in it so I'm going to keep pushing info to you regardless. Sometimes the info will include whitebox (prototype) levels, info about the story or feedback on how we're doing with pledge fulfillment. I want to make sure you guys have as much information as possible and I'll push to do a better job of that as we go. I often get very introverted when there's a lot of work to get done, but I'm working to improve that.
Get the Grave Demo on Steam + Reflections This week!
As part of moving things forward, I wanted to start by providing a steam key to everyone who is waiting for a copy of Grave. The Steam key is going to immediately unlocks the demo that you guys played a while back, and will be used for subsequent releases of Grave. This will actually be a final steam key for the game and will eventually lead into the full release. As for alpha and beta supporters, we will be sending you out special authorization keys in the near future that will give you access to the beta and alpha versions. This allows us to push updates more smoothly in the future.
As an additional "thank you" for supporting us, we're providing a complimentary Steam Key for Reflections, our smaller project that is currently on Steam Early Access. We've talked about Reflections a bit, but as a reminder, we released Reflections as an older project we had worked on prior to Grave, as a way to help us increase funding for the studio while remaining independent. The game is also getting updated periodically until it's ready for full release, but we're trying to find a healthy balance of Grave and Reflections development so that we aren't getting pulled in too many directions at once.
Both of these keys will be provided in the next few days, and you will get an email with that information. If you feel there is any reason that your email address may be out of date, contact us and we will make an amendment to our records to ensure you get the keys.
"New" team Member
We have had a bit of turnaround over the last year, but I am happy to say that we have seen the return of Daniel Strayer, who you may remember from the original Kickstarter video.
Daniel had other commitments that prevented him from working on Grave full-time, but now he's freed up and has jumped on board with us for the work on Grave and Reflections. He's going to be helping us a lot and has a ton of great skills in game programming that are helping us tackle tough problems quickly and efficiently.
One specific topic that was particularly important to us was the idea of how to go about releasing the game, considering our financial limitations and the overall scope of the product.
We're still trying to decide exactly how to handle our launch, and if something like Early Access would be right for us or not. Based on the survey responses, the idea has a net favorability of between 3.18 and 3.29 out of 5, which means that it's more favorable than not, but we got a number of very strong responses encouraging us not to go on Early Access, so it's something we are putting into account.
Discussing Plans For the Coming Months
As I've said a few times before, we've been keeping our heads down working on Grave and Reflections, and that has meant that updates have been sparse. Putting together our last Grave demo took us months of work to make sure everything was tuned and polished, so we have been focusing on less demo material and more structural work, getting the core game together and playable.
There's a lot of "white box" content, which is a term we use to describe basic block-ins of levels and gameplay that don't have final art. Because of that, it's not been especially great to show off. We also had some turnover in our art team, so we've been a bit understaffed in that area. We're making progress, but certain elements which include setting up art contributions have been delayed. We are still very eager to get those submissions in, but we expect the contributions of art, voice over, ghost likeness and creature design will arrive a bit later in the process. We appreciate your patience and are pushing to get this content sorted out as quickly as we can.
From my perspective, launching just the "Survive the Night" mode on Early Access might be a good way to let everyone know that the game is still out there and in-development. The natural of a procedurally changing world with dynamic horror encounters I think could also be pretty cool as an Early Access release, and making sure the Story Mode is withheld (outside of the alpha and beta backers) would help the game maintain value at full launch. That being said, I DO believe that Early Access is sub-optimal, and it's something that we really want to handle carefully if we do it. I'm not entirely sure what our plan for that is yet but we are looking to make sure that the solution is fair and agreeable to the majority of backers.
On a personal level, the development of Grave (as well as hunting for funds and keeping the studio open) has been taxing, and to some degree I would like to see it get out there as a way to reaffirm that this thing is "real," and not just something we're working on in our basements. We have been exploring ways to find more funding, but the gap in exposure has made it hard for us to gain too much traction on that front. I want all of our supporters to know that we're really committed to making this game. I personally don't want to see the game compromise, and with a limited budget I think the best way to do that is to allow the game to generate supplemental income from an Early Access release.
It's possible that, once Reflections fully releases, it generates enough revenue to keep the studio working happily on Grave. I know at this point, however, that we can't depend on that as a certainty, so I want to make sure that all of you know we are committed to making Grave the best game possible. Getting the demo on Steam is a first step towards making incremental updates for you guys, and I hope to increase the rate of delivery in the future.
How will Alpha/Beta work?
A number of people have asked questions about alpha/beta backers, so I wanted to reiterate how that's going to work. This week, everyone who is entitled to it will be receiving a steam key for Grave that will serve as your final release copy on Steam. This will not include Xbox/PS4 keys just yet, but will have no effect on eligibility for those keys. We'll get those sent out as soon as we have a version we can share no those platforms.
To play your alpha/versions of the game, we will be distributing additional alpha and beta access codes at a slightly later date, which will give access to the alpha/beta versions of the game on Steam, along with instructions on how to do so. We're still figuring out exactly what our release strategy is for Grave, so I can't say exactly how we are going to schedule out those tiers. What I can say for sure is that any updates we make to the build will go to the alpha tier first, then pass on to the beta tier, before being applied to the "general" branch which all of the backers will receive. I'll have more information on that soon, but I wanted to address it while we can.
At the moment, as I have said before, we can only confirm alpha and beta for Steam and Direct download, not for Xbox One or PS4. We will let the PS4 and Xbox backers know if we have opportunities to play those versions early, but I cannot make any commitments just yet.
What about DRM-Free?
Non-Steam users will still be receiving their copies of the game via Google Drive links to direct content. I know a handful of people who were adamant about wanting to receive DRM-free copies, but if you haven't told us yet, please send me a message on Kickstarter and I will make sure to get you a build link for no-Steam versions. We should have that information in our survey results, but we are still missing a few of those.
What about Xbox One/PS4?
A substantial portion of our backers opted for Xbox One and PS4 versions, and at the moment we are expecting the console versions to be out a bit later than the PC release. This is mainly because it's difficult for us to split our attention between different versions. Sony and Microsoft also have different requirements than Valve, so we will let you know as soon as we can offer keys for these platforms.
Posters and T-shirts
Make sure you've filled out the survey to give us your delivery information! As of this notice we have 68 surveys still incomplete, so there are a few people who's T-shirts and posters won't be delivered! Please fill it out if you haven't, so we can get you your swag!
Thank you everyone! I really appreciate your support and patience. I'm working as hard as I can to make this game kick but along with Dan, Aby and everyone else. You guys have been great and I look forward to giving you more consistent updates as we go.