This year marks a new history for Agate, an Indonesian game studio based in Bandung. They finally released their debut on the console, Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story. This game also continues the legacy of Valthirian Arc, one of the most popular franchises since its debut on Flash platform early 2010.
In case you missed it, Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story is an RPG that lets you become a principal of a school. But not just an ordinary school. A school that trains heroes the art of combat and magic. The trained students will then be set forth in the world, picking up quests and setting off for adventure. It focuses on building a school and training students to become the best in combat and magic.
In this article, we have a chance to talk with Cipto Adiguno, the Project Manager and also Fandry Indrayadi, the Creative Director of this game. They talk a lot about the development process and give some insight on how to release a game in console.
Game Prime (GP): How long did you develop Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story?
Cipto: We started this project in January 2016 when we did the second attempt of our Kickstarter Campaign. So, maybe we took around two years and nine months to bring this game to life.
GP: What are your considerations when decide to choose PC, PS4 and Nintendo Switch as your target platforms?
Fandry: We chose those platform because we wanted to make a premium game. So, if we’re targeting mobile that is not mainly focused on premium games, it will be more difficult to attract gamers.
Why did we decide to release it on console first then PC? First, it was our decision with our publisher, PQube. But in general, if you want to release a game in both PC and console, the good strategy is to release it first on console. Or at least, do it at the same time.
Don’t release it first on PC. Why? Because if you decide to release it first on PC, you can’t set a possible highest price on the console. Because once it published on Steam, many people will wait for the sale that can decrease the price.
Console gamers willing to pay more because console games offer a better experience. Your game also has an exclusivity value if it’s only available in a specific console, although it’s only for limited time. That exclusivity value can make your game’s price higher. And also, there is a chance your game will be promoted by Sony/Nintendo/Microsoft if it’s only exclusive on each of them.
So, we can get better deals with this kind of strategy.
Cipto: Why we choose to create a premium game? So far, Agate’s main business is B2B service. So, in early 2016, we explored more of our IP and saw what we can do. We did the research and after some testing, we chose to develop the Valthirian Arc franchise.
GP: What was your biggest challenge when developing this game, both from the technical or non-technical side?
Fandry: The First challenge was when we started the project we didn’t know what should be prepared on the first stage of the development. For example, the localization aspect. After the game was ready, we started to think about how to localize the game. It’s too late because we just finished putting all of the text and dialogue into the game.
It could cause a lot of problems. First, we needed additional time to do that because we should recheck the game from the beginning. Second, it could cause a lot of bugs.
The second problem was from the fundamental aspects. Each of them should be tested and validated from the beginning before we continued to the content. We just found these problems when we entered the final stage of the development. It made our job tougher because we must do an additional job that should have been done at the beginning of the development.
About the porting process to console, I think there was no big problem. Only when we released the game, there’s still bug inside. It’s normal, but I think we could minimize it if we could have more time allocated in the QA process. So at the end of the development, we had a lot of task of bug fixing instead of polishing.
Agate recently released a new game. We had a chance to play on the PlayStation 4 and here is our Valthirian Arc Hero School Story review.
Cipto: Overall, the product management process was not quite good at the beginning of the development. The development team didn’t know exactly what kind of game they would develop and why they developed it.
It required us to do some changes when in the development process. There were some direction shifts, and these shifts can make us tweak the content that we’d made before so it can be used in the new direction.
Sometimes it confused our team because we didn’t exactly give the direction when we started the project. Sometimes, the director took a subjective decision, not based on research or data.
Fandry: This direction shift also brought out more bugs that were not easy to identify.
GP: How about the sales? What platform performs best for Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story?
Cipto: The PS4 physical copy performs best, almost two times from Switch sales and much bigger than Steam PC sales. The Switch’s sales are around two times from PC, and the PS4’s sales are around two times from the Switch.
Fandry: Steam is not as good as it was two or three years ago because it’s now over saturated. Steam Direct makes the published games not well-curated. Now everybody can publish their games on Steam.
In this article, we try to break down the Indonesian console gamers behavior in 2018. Please make a note that this is the result from a private research.
GP: How about the indie game prospect on Switch?
Fandry: Now there are too many games released on Switch in a week. If I’m not mistaken, there are 20-30 games released on
Steam Switch each week now. So, actually, it’s quite late if you release your game on Switch.
Nintendo also hasn’t had a specific incentive to promote or feature old games yet. It only features the new games. Some publishers also assume that if you decide to release your game on Switch, it’s too late. It’s not as good as it was one year ago.