Cthulhu Saves the World has been approved for release on Steam by Valve, and Zeboyd Games is looking to deliver the enhanced port of its sarcastic, retro RPG by the end of the month for $3. Although there is no Steamworks integration planned at this point, developer Robert Boyd told us that he is looking into arranging a preorder bonus for Steam users.
For the dozen or so PC gamers who don’t sing Steam’s praises at every opportunity, Zeboyd Games plans to make the game available on other marketplaces such as Impulse, Gamersgate and Desura. The enhanced port contains a new bestiary mode, 2 new dungeons, new playable characters, rebalanced gameplay and a Director’s Commentary mode. That’s an impressive array of new features, but when you call your game Cthulhu Saves the World: Super Hyper Enhanced Championship Edition Alpha Diamond DX Plus Alpha FES HD – Premium Enhanced Game of the Year Collector’s Edition (without Avatars!), it had better be pretty darned good. Zeboyd Games will also release a free update with the new content around the time of the PC version’s release for those who already purchased the game on XBLIG.
Big news on the XBLIG front today, as Microsoft announced via the App Hub that Xbox Live Indie developers would now have the ability to “control the release of their games that have passed peer review.” This is a step in the correct direction, both in terms of marketing and public relations. One of the key elements missing from the Indie Games Winter Uprising was the fact that many developers missed their target release dates. Should the event ever occur again, that issue would be washed away as long as the titles pass peer review in time.
Most developers seem to be excited over the matter. Nathan Fouts of Mommy’s Best Games shouted “Great News!” on Twitter, while Ben Kane of declared “This is going to wreak havoc with the new release list. It’ll be a game of chicken on every Friday. Overall, fantastic news though.” Robert Boyd of Zeboyd Games shared the same sentiment with “The news made my day. This’ll make building hype for games much easier.” Evan Johnson wasn’t as enthusiastic with, “Probably should have been there from the start, but good to see it happen,” although he appreciated the change nonetheless.
As of this posting, the title has launched less than 24 hours ago, and has 2,467 votes for an average 4 star rating, far exceeding any XBLIG title which has come before it in that stretch of time. What are we to make from all of this? A publicity stunt? Or simply a successful marketing plan?
The Public Relations Manager of the recent XBLIG release FortressCraft, DJ Keemster has created a video on his YouTube channel labeled “Please Rate 5 Stars! thank you!” In the video, he launches the XLBIG channel, heads to his title, and rates it five stars, asking others to “Hit the A button until it reaches 5 stars, and it is very important you get your five star rating in.” Robert Boyd chimed in with his comment of disapproval yesterday on the App Hub forums and said ”And Pandora’s Box has officially been opened. Doesn’t look like it’s ever going to be closed,” and many agree.
On the final day of GDC, a bustling, excited room of journalists, students, and fellow developers listened acutely as James Silva, Robert Boyd, Nathan Fouts, and Ian Stocker recounted their trials, tribulations and successes as Xbox Live Indie Game developers. Brandon Sheffield, Editor-In-Chief of Gamasutra and Game Developer Magazine hosted the panel of accomplished indie developers and guided them through the discussions.
One of the largest hurdles for indie developers is exposure. Before releasing I MAED A GAM3 W1TH ZoMBIES!!!1, Silva (Ska Studios) put out a press release riddled with nonsense such as “Hypermagic Engine 3.0 and the Megacore X parallelization processor.” This later went on a wiki which he released for his title, but essentially it provided synergy across the tone of his promotional material, as well as the game itself. Most importantly, it allowed the press to refer to something when building details for a story.
“Something as simple as a website can provide essential legitimacy” said Boyd (Zeboyd Games), who also suggested creating YouTube trailers.
With its 8-bit charms and numerous gags and nods pertaining to old-school and modern gaming, Breath of Death VII has found a nugget of success on the Xbox Live Indie Games market. Zeboyd Games recently celebrated its retro RPG amassing 30,000 sales, before promptly going back to work on its follow-up, Cthulhu Saves the World. Robert Boyd took a few minutes out of the day to answer some questions on the success of his first game, and how Cthulhu is primed to surpass it.
On the surface, Cthulhu Saves the World seems very similar to Breath of Death VII. What are some of the differences?
Breath of Death VII was our first RPG, so a large part of our goal was simply “Make the first good RPG on XBLIG.” However, this time around, we have some experience under our belts and a game engine already designed so our goal this time around is to make something awesome. Some of the new features include 8 playable characters, better integrated status ailments, 1-UPs, more sophisticated dungeon designs, save anywhere feature, more post-game modes, a bigger world, longer story campaign, native SDTV & HDTV support, better graphics, more animation, and a much stronger and longer musical score.