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Wasteland 2 has been released to great acclaim, earning Game of the Year from PCWorld, and reaching #1 on the Steam sales charts! Thanks to all our backers for helping us make this game a reality!
61,290 backers pledged $2,933,252 to help bring this project to life.

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The Opening Movie

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Brian was on stage at MCM London earlier today showing the Wasteland 2 opening movie and talking about the game and crowdfunding (you can watch the presentation on Resero Network's twitch through this link).

Of course we'd like all our backers to see this opening movie, so we put it up on Youtube for you. Enjoy!

The End is in Sight!

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We are very happy to announce the ship date for Wasteland 2: the game will be coming to you at the end of August of this year!

Before saying anything else, I want to first and foremost again thank you, our backers. Without you I'd never be where I am today, just a few months removed from finally releasing the game I've been wanting to make for 25 years. It's exciting to be in this home stretch, and all your support and feedback throughout the process has made the game much better than it would have been otherwise. What we're releasing is a game of much greater scope than we ever dreamed of when starting our Kickstarter. More features, more areas, more reactivity, more words, all thanks to you for funding our game and for giving us the time needed to finish it. My goal has been to over deliver on your expectations for Wasteland 2.

We also just released another big update to the Wasteland 2 beta (full notes on our tumblr). This update adds the final major area of Arizona, meaning the Wasteland 2 beta now includes all Arizona maps, which is approximately half the entire game!

At this stage we're internally feature complete, but not feature locked. What that means is that every feature is in our dev builds but we're still testing functionality, gameplay balance impact and even quality. If a feature is not good enough, we'll cut it, but if fan feedback and internal review indicates it's vital, we'll double down on it. But the main focus for the new few months lies with balancing, optimizing and of course mercilessly hunting down bugs.

But we are not yet in full lock-down, it is important for us to stay flexible for iterations as we keep learning from the backer beta. For instance, we'll be tweaking the skill usage density and variety our game levels, and adding some smaller lines and skill-paths. Combat balance is something else we'll be spending a lot of time on in the next months, as it still needs much fine-tuning. Localization is another major step and we can do with more help on that, see more below. In other words, these next few months won't be idle months!

Character Creation Screens

One of the changes going into this beta build are the new character creation screens, crafted with the help of feedback from the community.

MCM London

I'll be at the MCM London Comic Con, taking the main stage on 3PM UTC/8AM PST on Saturday May 24th. I'll be talking about the game but also premiering the game's opening cinematic. We knew we shouldn't spend too much cash, so I got a little creative and took my camera to the Wasteland Weekend. Using that footage, stock footage and some new footage shot with actors, we got an effective opening for less than $30K. The opening cinematic explains the history of the setting and the Rangers before setting up the start of our game.

You'll be able to join us via live stream at this URL on Saturday.

Novella

Part one of the two-parter novella from Michael Stackpole and Nathan Long is right around the corner. It should be coming this week as we're putting it through final editing and formatting now. As a little tease, here's the novella's cover artwork:

Crowdsourcing Localization – Next Steps

We launched the Wasteland 2 crowdsourcing localization about a week ago. The effort is off to a very good start, with the hyper-efficient Germans leading the way. We invited a few of our editors to take an early look at the translation output of our fans and they were well impressed by the quality and consistency of our crowdsourced translations. That's the value of getting real RPG Gamers involved! From here on out our editors will start becoming more active on Get Localization itself, guiding and interacting with our community.

The more volunteers we have, the higher the quality of the translations. We spoke earlier on rewarding our fans, and the top translators will get selected rewards later, but to reward our productive translators, we've decided to give everyone who provides approved translation of over 250 strings a digital copy of Wasteland 2, which will include beta access (please do provide your email address when registering, as otherwise we have no way to contact you).

For new fans or fans who backed at a lower tier, this will allow you to jump into the beta. For other backers, here's an extra copy to give to a friend! Plus it helps everyone to ensure our translators have access to the beta, as this'll give them more context and understanding of strings they're translating.

Please note your strings do have to be reviewed and approved before you get your Steam key for Wasteland 2, not just by us but also by our existing Get Localization community. Be aware we're looking for volunteers in Spanish, French, German and Italian only.

As always, we encourage using the Localization page to help spread the word.

Thanks again!
Brian Fargo
Your Leader In Exile

Writing & Localizing

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Hey Rangers,

It is May and things are good. Another big beta update went out, patch notes here. We are nearing the end of the three-month plan we outlined earlier, and hit all our internal end-of-April milestones, which is a rarity. We're getting closer every day, and we intend to announce the official release date sometime this month.

At this stage of the project some portions of the game require less manpower than they did a few months ago, which is all part of our plan for moving people to Torment: Tides of Numenera when their work on Wasteland 2 is simply done. One of those things we're slowly wrapping up is writing, which at this stage is really just tweaks or minor NPCs and encounters added. You may have heard us mention Nathan Long before, a talented and veteran writer who we were very lucky to have join us on this project. This feels like a good time to give him the floor and have him talk a bit about the writing process, so without further ado, here's Nathan:

Last Writer Standing

How Did I Get Here?

I am the luckiest guy on the planet. 

Okay, that's not true. I am not, after all, Charlie Sheen, but I'm pretty damn lucky. How lucky? Let me tell you.

Three years ago, as a wanna-be game writer with no industry experience, I attended a lecture at the Writer's Guild where Chris Avellone was talking about making games. I came out of that lecture inspired and really wishing I could work with someone as cool as Chris someday, but knowing it was only a dream.

Two years ago I lectured at the Writer's Guild about making games, and talked about the game that me and Chris Avellone were working on. How the hell does that happen?

In brief, I got lucky.  

Lucky Break One - my pal Kitty saw an article about Wasteland 2 that mentioned they were looking for writers and she passed it on to me.

Lucky Break Two - In the article I saw that the head writer on Wasteland 2 was Mike Stackpole, who once published a story of mine in an online fiction anthology. Mike knew me, knew my work, and knew I had eleven fantasy novels under my belt, so when I asked him if he had any work for me, he trusted me enough to give me a little freelance assignment - coming up with the background and organization of Griffith Park's God's Militia faction, as a matter of fact. A few days later I submitted the brief, Mike passed it on to Brian and Matt, they liked it, and I was given more work. Woo! My first freelance game job!  

Lucky Break Three - Brian and Matt got ambitious. Right around the time that I got hired, inXile expanded the scope of the game by a considerable amount, and suddenly I had all the work I could handle - maybe even a little more than I could handle! Fortunately, the other writers, Mike, Chris Avellone, Colin McComb and Patrick McLean, were very understanding and very generous with their time and advice, and by the time they had completed their parts of the project I had an excellent grounding in game writing in general and the world of the Wasteland in particular.

So that's how, a year after attending my first lecture on game writing, I ended up giving one. It's also how, two years later, I'm the last writer standing on Wasteland 2.

It's been an incredible two years, and the most incredible part has been meeting all the talented writers, scripters and developers who have worked on Wasteland 2, all of whom have been unceasingly generous with their knowledge and experience. They have taught me so much, and been so patient with my mistakes (like that one time when I almost deleted the entire game from the database?) that sometimes I feel like I should be paying tuition to be here instead of being paid. (Ha ha! Just a joke, Brian. Just a joke.)  

What Am I Doing Here?

So, what is my day to day job here at inXile?

Well, earlier on in the process, it was expanding the design docs created by the writers that had come before me - breaking them down into individual encounters, writing the descriptions and dialog for those encounters, and figuring out how they all tied together into a cohesive whole. And when I was done with one zone, I would move on to the next and do it all over again.

These days it’s a little more scattershot. We are in the tweaking and tuning phase, so I am doing a little of everything. Today Matt needs an extra radio call for an encounter in Arizona, Jeffrey needs a rewrite on a NPC in the Mannerite map because the logic for the encounter has changed, Zack needs to cut some interiors, so I have to rewrite a few scenes so the characters don't talk about being inside when they're actually outside, Brian wants me to rewrite a gag which he feels is in poor taste, and the backers have pointed out a continuity problem in a newly released encounter, so I have to come up with a solution.

I usually start the morning with a call to Matt (which he loves) to determine the priority of all the issues I've got on my list, then I get to work, knocking down items as quick as I can while more get added throughout the day. Occasionally an emergency will come up, and I'll suddenly have to switch over to something else, but usually it's just a slow steady flow of emails and delivered documents all day long.

But in all this work, no matter how scattered, no matter how minor the tweak, the most important consideration is making all of it feel like Wasteland. Brian, Matt and the rest of the developers have a clear, focused vision of what Wasteland 2 is and isn't, and it's my job to be in sync with them and make sure that all the writing in the game - no matter who originally wrote it - delivers on that vision and feels right and true and consistent from zone to zone and character to character. It’s a terrifying responsibility, but I'm happy to have been given the opportunity to do it.

Where Are You Taking Me?

(spoiler warnings apply to this section)

After working on the game for almost two years, you would think I'd be burnt out on post-apocalyptic Arizona and Los Angeles, and... well, it's true that I'll definitely be ready for the complete tone-shift and genre-switch of Torment: Tides of Numenera when I join Colin and the rest of the other team, but I'm still getting a kick out of helping to flesh out all the areas, factions and NPCs in Wasteland 2, and making them as deep and twisted as we can. 

As for my favorites? It's hard to pick. For sheer atmosphere it's hard to beat Ag Center, originally laid out by Chris Avellone, with its oppressive vegetation and terrifying rabbits, and Colin McComb's Coliseum level, later in the game when you get to LA, can't be beat for sheer lunacy and depth of invention, but I'm going to have to be totally unfair and go with the first level where the bosses let me off the leash and told me to go wild - the Canyon of Titan, which we called internally Missile Silo.

Brian and Matt had already laid out the bones of the level when I joined inXile. They had a rough list of encounters, the core concept of bomb-worshipping suicide monks, and a solid ending, but they were trusting enough to let me take it from there.

And I took it. I added another faction, about twenty more encounters than they'd asked for, and something like eight more endings! Amazingly, they didn't fire me. Instead, Matt pulled me back from the brink of madness, told me about the beginner's curse of overcomplication, and we whittled it back down to three endings (or is it four?). Still, I got to keep my new faction, the cold, mercenary Diamondback Militia, my crazy "three-card-monte-with-nukes" quest line, and most of my extra NPCs, including Abe, who carries a blockbuster bomb on his back, the Church Police, who tax unwary travelers, and Brother Guano, who got his name because... well, you'll figure it out. 

I also got to work on the CNPCs, who are the characters who can join the rangers as they travel the wastes. So much fun. Basically, I had to take each CNPC through the entire game and think of what they would say in each situation they could encounter, and also how they would react to the other CNPCs who might also be in the party. My favorites are probably Vulture's Cry, the native American woman the rangers find in Highpool, or Ralphy Parker, the young man they meet in Rail Nomad. Both have cool personality quirks, and also events you can stumble upon that could change their characters dramatically.

There's a lot more places, factions and NPCs I'd love to tell you about, but I don't want to spoil the game, so I'll just leave it at that. I hope you have as much fun exploring the locations, figuring out the mysteries, and interacting with the characters as I did working on them, but I don't know if it's possible. 

Like I said, I'm the luckiest guy on the planet. 

Nathan Long,
Lead Writer

Crowdfunding Localization

As the in-game texts are starting to hit their finalized stages, it's time to ramp up our localization effort in earnest. As you may recall, we've promised localized versions in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Polish and Russian, all of them are still planned for the released version of the game. Deep Silver is helping us with the Polish and Russian localization so we're all set there.

For the other languages, we've received many requests since even before we ran our Kickstarter from fans looking to contribute, wanting to help us localize the game. And we always planned to involve our fans, so we've launched our Wasteland 2 localization crowdsourcing effort. We are counting on our fans to join our Get Localization project for French, Italian, German and Spanish and together do the bulk of the work on translating to those languages. When that step is complete we will hand the results to professional editors who will do editing and consistency passes. This is an important step to ensure that the localized version will meet the high, professional standards we are looking for.

The more fans we get involved and the more they translate, the faster and better our localized versions will be. We sincerely hope this'll be a fun and productive process. At the end of it, we'll be looking at ways to help compensate via upgrades or cash for the backers that helped generate the most translations.

This tumblr page details the project in English as well as French, Italian, German and Spanish (with thanks to our fans barbarian_bros, Alessandro Gambino, TΛPETRVE and ESp_Ranger). We encourage you not just to join but also to share this call to arms in your own language on whatever forums or social media that jumps to mind!  

Please make sure to read the localization instructions before getting started.

Dialog Screen

Speaking of writing, we recently gathered a bunch of feedback on the dialog screen on our official forums. The feedback clearly pointed us to preferences for making the dialog UI more tangible and solid, to emphasize the portraits more, and to put it all in a nicely skeuomorphic UI. Here is the first pass we posted on our forums:  

One of our fans by the name of Alex 'Olovski' Drożyner saw this UI and responded by offering some mock-ups of his own, improving and tweaking our work. We liked what we saw there so much we've contracted him to do a pass on the UI for us to use moving forward. It's a unique process to involve fans so directly, but the results speak for themselves!  

Loading Human

And finally, there's an ambitious and unique project up on Kickstarter, a VR-only game for Windows and Mac called Loading Human. For those of you set with Oculus Rift or Project Morpheus headsets, this is well worth a look.  

Matthew Findley,
President

Beyond the Current Boundaries

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Howdy Rangers,

Chris here to give you a snapshot on our current progress. First off, the next beta update is being wrapped up! It’s been in testing for the past few weeks and we’re putting the final touches on it as I write this. You can expect it to go live next week. 

This beta update will include the first release of the Linux build, new merchant UI elements, the Missile Silo map, the Darwin Village map, an updated leadership skill, a few new enemies with unique AI (I dare you to get in combat with the suicide monks…), many additional balance tweaks, tutorial, lots of optimization and oh-so-much more. As always, we will put full patch notes up on our tumblr when the patch goes live.

One thing we were excited to look into were stats showing how long people were playing the game. It can be hard for a developer to estimate exactly how long a game takes because even when playing through fully, we're still too familiar with it to not go through it fast. But now that we've had people playing it and based on how long they've been taking on the live content, we can estimate the full game will likely take the average new player around 50 hours on a normal playthrough. Though it'll take quite a bit longer if you're looking to fully explore every location and mission.

Now let's talk development: at this stage we are working not just on beta builds and polishing those areas, but on tweaking the game's systems and taking lessons learned from beta feedback and applying them throughout the game. Every day our level designers are adding new touches and various levels of reactivity to the game. For example, in this next update you'll find major areas are now open to you right from the moment you leave Ranger Citadel, rather than being plot-gated.

As we're finishing up more Arizona areas we are intensifying our work on Los Angeles, and for the entire game we are making great progress. Much of the team is on California right now, adding layer after layer of depth into the current design.

There's a few points I’d like to talk about a bit more in-depth…

Systems & communications

One easy-to-forget but very important point going forward for us has been the way the game communicates on its systems. What I mean by that is how much the game informs the player of its underlying systems, how clear and easily available this info is, and to what extent the game helps and guides along the player. At the heart of these kind of cRPGs lies a sense of discovery and figuring things out by yourself. We consider it one of Wasteland 2's strengths that you can often try something new and then have a mission proceed differently because of a different approach you tried out.

That said, when it comes to interface and understanding systems there is no harm in showing off much of the details necessary to make informed tactical choices (assuming it’s done in a non-intrusive way), starting with the simple tutorial tooltips we put in. The game will ship with a sweet old-school manual and reading it before you start will give you a good head start, but we've also added a number of "tutorial" tips in the game. These pop-up on the right side of your screen when specific triggered events happen, and give a quick explanation of the way things like combat, dialog and levelling up work. We focused on making them clear, short and non-intrusive, and experienced players or those who just don't like tutorials can switch them off with a single click.

The other big thing in systems communication is how much and how clearly the game details its under-the-hood system formulas. This was not something we spent a lot of time on prior to the beta launch, in part because it is relatively low-priority, in part because many of the systems are still fluid and up for tweak and balance patches. The new character and skills screen was a step forward in this as it enables players to see how stat increases or equipment switches influence their key stats. For those interested in learning more details in this code update, the tooltips in character creation (for derived stats) give a deeper breakdown. Check those out on your next playthrough!

Wasteland 2 as it stands has not had many balance passes done, and that influences how balanced the attribute and skill system may seem. In the currently live builds, you might feel like you’re leveling up more often than you should or you have too many skill points. This is intentional as part of the goal is to have you try out the various options and give us feedback.

One very significant system we have not yet put in is the tying together of attributes and skills, where the skills are either capped or heavily influenced by a specific attribute. This is an important balancing factor in a party-based cRPG like ours, because you are likely to have a total of seven party members not far into the game and will have a large pool of skill points to use. It continues to tie into one of our pillars of having to make difficult choices that will affect gameplay. Early on in the final game, this heavy feel of a multi-talented group will remain, but once we start putting our caps and ties system in, you will need to be more careful in your skill choices when you progress further into the game. Of course, by this point, you will have tried a variety of skills and become more informed about what you wish to focus on and how to spread your skills among various characters.

In general, we pride ourselves in our flexibility to adapt our systems based on feedback and internal and external discussion, a good example of which would be our Ranger Corner thread where we asked for feedback on charisma, with my reply and thoughts here. Charisma was the attribute most in need of updates to make it more viable, and we are constantly evaluating and modifying the way our attributes work.

Barter Screen

When we launched the new inventory screen in the last beta update we had not yet started working on the new barter screen. This was also a good opportunity to do a Ranger Corner thread talking about the barter screen, and you can find my reply on the topic here.

As with the inventory screen, it was key for us to significantly improve functionality as well as the look of the screen. In the new barter screen, it is much easier to compare items you're buying to what you have equipped, as well as sell and manage multiple stacks of junk, view full stats of items before purchasing, and sell from your entire party inventory rather than going character-by-character. Here's a look at the screen:

Los Angeles

One thing we've long since avoided talking about is LA. And we're still pretty wary of spoilers, so the following text will be spoiler-light, but if you want to avoid them completely you may want to skip.

In the near future, we will have almost all of Arizona in the hands of our beta backers (after this upcoming update the beta will include all but one major area and the final small maps), we can't resist the temptation to talk more about the second half of the game…the Los Angeles area. I specifically say "Los Angeles area" as it includes some locations that are in the Los Angeles metro area, rather than just "the city proper".

Los Angeles is a separate world map from Arizona. A lot of Arizona has a feeling of familiarity for the Wasteland 1 fans, as it sees the return of quite a number of Wasteland 1 locations and factions. This familiarity was important for us to keep, as there's a long gap in time between the release of WL1 and the upcoming release of WL2, and strong narrative ties help bridge that long gap.

On the other hand, Los Angeles allows us to get back to some of the wildness the Wasteland setting allows, by opening up a fresh new area with weird possibilities. Los Angeles as it stands now is a sprawling city-scape, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world, with recognizable landmarks such as Hollywood and the L.A. Coliseum. The current L.A. with its nearly four million inhabitant’s needs water imported and thus may seem like a naturally semi-arid climate, but this is primarily due to human influence. With most of the human presence wiped out by the war, the creation of small and mostly toxic lakes of water by the post-war storms, and the shifting of air and water currents, the Los Angeles of Wasteland 2 is a lush area. Nature has reclaimed much of the ruined cityscape.

In L.A., we decided to make many of its recognizable landmarks key locations, including the aforementioned LA Coliseum and Hollywood, but also such spots as the Watts Towers and the Griffith Observatory. Our design process started with, “What would be the most bad-ass areas in L.A. for the player to visit”? We then sprinkled these areas with weird cults and weirder creatures. One example is the Pistol Packing Priests faction (conceived by our lead writer Nathan Long), which were previewed in the first Wasteland 2 novella. This burgeoning religious cult believes the apocalypse was God's justice brought to man, but the task is left unfinished, and it is up to them to sweep the last vestiges of sinfulness off the earth, by word and by bullet. Mostly bullet…or hammer…or any other blunt/sharp/shooty object.

With these areas dominated by strong factions that have no familiarity with the Desert Rangers, this opens up great new possibilities for us to challenge and offer diverse choices for you. One faction may have an internal conflict, a splinter group with beliefs that differ from dogma, giving the opportunity to choose one side or play them out against each other, or re-unify them. But another may have an external enemy with no chance of reconciliation, a conflict the player might decide is best to avoid entirely, but one which they can also use to their advantage to help one side gain dominance and wipe the other side out.

Many L.A. areas are in a state of equilibrium as you arrive at them (though not all are, some may require immediate action), giving you more time to explore the "towns" of various shapes and size, and get familiar with the people and the faction's beliefs, trade, resolve smaller missions, or even progress without ever triggering any conflict at all. Los Angeles shines in a strong variety of locations. That variety evincing itself not just in visuals and flavor of the location, but also in how open or guided an area is, how conflict or hub-oriented it is, etc. etc.

Here is a behind-the-scenes look at one of our LA levels in the Unity editor. This town – built around the Watts Towers – is between the stages of Wild West and civilized, the arrival of the Rangers may well determine which way it goes…  

Since such a high-level view may seem a bit obscure, here is a closer level render (but with the camera still further out than it would be in-game). Each building can be entered, making Watts the kind of open hub that you could find around the halfway point of Wasteland 1.  

Shout-out  

We wanted to give another shout-out to a smaller, promising Kickstarter: The Red Solstice, a squad based strategy RPG. It set on Mars in a distant future, with all the science fiction trappings you could hope for. The game has tactical 8 player co-op focused on hardcore survival, class-based character advancement and advanced tactics. Aside from the 8 player co-op campaign, they're also going to offer a narrative-heavy single player campaign.

The campaign is over halfway there, with $27K funded of a $50K goal with 10 days to go, so let's give 'em a boost in the final stretch! They're also part of Kicking It Forward, pledging to spend 5% of their eventual profits into funding new Kickstarter projects.

And lastly, we are posting portrait art and quotes every week, you can check them all out on our tumblr.

Chris Keenan
Project Lead

Quick Status Update

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Hello Rangers,

First and foremost, we wanted to be sure all our backers knew that our $10 add-on which we've been offering on the backer store will be closing down next Friday, the 28th of March. This week will be the last chance to jump on board this limited-time offer.  

On to other news. We're about a month into our three-month plan that we mentioned in update 44, things have been progressing well. We are simultaneously working to fix issues and bugs with the game in general based on feedback to the beta while other team members are moving ahead in finishing all the LA content. While the next beta update (coming soon) will not be quite as sizeable as the last one it is another significant content expansion (adding a new area) as well as UI upgrade (implementing the new barter screen). Here's what we said on it earlier on our blog:

The next update to the Wasteland 2 beta will be another sizeable one. We are adding more content in the form of the missile silo map, an interesting location that is set to challenge your problem-solving skills. Here is a short description from Jeremy Kopman, the level designer on Silo. “Slashed across eastern Arizona is a deep, winding canyon that provides the only access to a vast, resource-rich valley. As if traversing the labyrinthine paths – full of vicious animals and sociopathic raiders – wasn’t hard enough, the area is controlled by a fanatical branch of the Servants of the Mushroom Cloud. These monks worship Titan, bringer of death by the Great Glow… and a live ICBM with a nuclear warhead. Too bad braving this deathtrap is your only way to reach your next mission target: Damonta.”

Other News

We've received a draft of the first of the two Michael Stackpole & Nathan Long novellas, tentatively titled The Earth Transformed. It will be going through rigorous proofreading and editing and then go out to our backers.  

We've also made Wasteland 1 – The Original Classic available on Desura. We're very happy to be joining another fully DRM-free service that offers the game for Windows, OSX and Linux. The key generator on the Ranger Center will not offer Desura but if you're a Linux user who has been waiting for a fully DRM-free option, please do contact us here or on the Ranger Center and we'll get you a Desura key.

On the concept and portrait art front, check out this spiffy gentleman's life motto, along with a pair of creepy dolls we feel go well with our post apocalyptic vibe. 

Shout-Out

And finally, we wanted to give a shout-out to an excellent looking Kickstarter project, Ashen Rift, a new take on classic shooters set in a barely recognizable, twisted and dead earth where you fight howling monstrosities. Worth a look for its atmosphere and unique ideas alone. Ashen Rift is from a smaller indie studio rather than the larger efforts we've promoted in this space, and we enjoy supporting the dreams of smaller indies to become professional developers.

Thomas Beekers,
Straightening out the Lines