Dev Update #8: 4 Months and 10 Versions Later, or: I'm So So So Tired

Oh, wow. Where do I even begin? The last time I updated the website was April 30. I remember that a week earlier, we came to the decision to release on Steam Early Access, mostly because we needed a community that could guide the development of the game, but also because the revenue was something that would really help with its completion. I had planned on providing regular updates to the website as we went through Early Access. I could never have imagined how much a release - even though it wasn't a full release yet - would change everything. My god, it changed everything.

The biggest thing was shock of beating expectations. We had very modest EA sales expectations. We were nobodies with a half-finished game. Terroir became available for purchase on Steam on the 17th of May, and in the 2 weeks that followed, instead of the 500-800 copies we think we'd sell, we sold almost 2,000. Reviews were, and have remained, mostly positive. It's a blessing to see those words in blue next to our rating on Steam, and one can't help but feel extra thankful after seeing other EA titles get Mixed and Mostly Negative reviews shortly after release. I guess we were doing one or two things right, and for that, I am eternally grateful to the team for giving it their all. They really worked their asses off these past 4 months. I can honestly, I have never felt so tired and happy as I do now. Doing this isn't easy when you've got a full-time job and a 9-month old baby daughter that demands your constant attention (which I am always happy to give her because no one and nothing matters more than the ones you love). But it is extremely rewarding, and I have never ever felt so fulfilled in my entire life.

Speaking of people I love: one of the best parts about being in EA is the community we've built - man, I love our players. They are equal parts supportive, enthusiastic, overly negative, demanding, reasonable and extremely helpful towards each other. It takes all kinds to make a world, they say, and Terroir's community is a world all on its own. The feedback and suggestions that we received from our players have been instrumental in making Terroir what it is today. I believe Early Access' value lies in its ability to provide developers and designers insights that they are either completely blind to or simply failed to acknowledge. Things like improvements to balance, quality of life and UI, as well as bigger things like new mechanics and content were created thanks to the input of our Steam community. Bless 'em, we wouldn't be here without them.

So what has all that feedback resulted in? Well, how about 10 major updates in a period of less than 16 weeks? And I'm talking major changes - the current version, 1.10, is a world away from the 1.0 EA release version. I mean just look at the main game screen comparison between version 1.02 and 1.10:

 

Version 1.02: notice only 3 icons at the top (version 1.0 had just one)

Version 1.02: notice only 3 icons at the top (version 1.0 had just one)

Version 1.10 has a whole lot more...

Version 1.10 has a whole lot more...

Those icons aren't just for show. In the past 4 months, Terroir has seen new additions that we never planned on, like a Bank, ambient customization items and Wine Awards. We've also introduced an in-game tutorial, and a much more detailed text tutorial. The soundtrack is finally complete, and players now enjoy the entire 4 parts of the Seasons of Bordeaux series in its entirety. We even have a mission system now!

CandC1.png

I mean, we even have VO for the missions and the in-game tutorial. Here's a sample:

It's been incredibly hectic, but we're here now. And to anyone who's been following our progress so far, I've got an announcement to make: we're confident that we're ready for a full release. So we're doing a full release on Steam on the 15th of September. Terroir has come a long way, it's much more balanced, it's much more engaging, and it's ready to be shared to a wider audience.

But -- that's not it for Terroir. We have so much more in store for the game, and we plan on continuing development on more content (and potentially even DLC content) for the forseeable future. We love this game and want to bring it to life as much as we can. And hopefully, in the process, our players will enjoy it as much as we do.

So, now that another milestone is upon us, it might be time to say goodbye for a little while again as I focus on getting this right. You can always get in touch with us via our email (just send us a message through the Contact Us page), or through our discussion boards on Steam.

For now, I bid you farewell. Wish us luck!

MARK

Dev Update #7: Recording Terroir's Original Soundtrack

Being a hobby musician, I approached Terroir's soundtrack quite seriously - almost as seriously as the game's visual direction and game design. The main source of inspiration for composing the soundtrack came from the concept of "terroir" itself. Winemakers know to respect the awesome power of the weather and the seasons. The cycle of the seasons has, since the dawn of civilization, dictated when we plant, when we harvest, and, on a more somber note, whether we feast or starve.

So, like Vivaldi before us, we looked to the four seasons of the winemaking regions as the core concept of Terroir's soundtrack. We composed four different pieces, each one inspired by an individual season, with its own unique mood and feel.

One of the earliest pieces we came up with would turn out to be "Autumn". Here's an early recording of the base melody from last year (this video is actually a reminder video - instead of a voice recorder, I record videos of my compositions so I don't forget how to play them).

As we moved on to developing Terroir in the summer of last year, we put the music to one side. Then, early this year, we teamed up with Singapore-based clarinet ensemble CLARQuinet, made up of musicians that have performed with some of the most illustrious and renowned orchestras and groups in the country. CLARQuinet not only perform the music on Terroir's soundtrack - they also composed virtually everything. I did have some early, unfinished and crude pieces like the one above, but it was CLARQuinet's Ralph Lim and Jerry Tan that finished composing and arranging them into full pieces. This is more their work than mine.

We were at Sonic Studios near Singapore's downtown last week, and I managed to take some behind-the-scenes footage of the guys recording "Autumn" and "Spring". Here's a sneak peek into the recording process, as well as a snippet of "Autumn", which starts after a minute and a half or so into the video. You'll notice the massive evolution from its early inception in the video above, to the rough mix below.

I think I may have been more of a nuisance than anything during the whole recording session. All in all, the soundtrack is sounding great, and it's really adding to Terroir's lovely ambiance.

Do check out CLARQuinet's official Facebook page if you wanna know more about these dashing, talented artists.

About the game: we're glad to announce that after a few weeks of heavy dev, Jenny has finished the game's Save/Load functionality. We've also wrapped up some localization (including Simplified Chinese and Portuguese, and we're well on the way with Italian and French), and have also finished almost all the game's animations. Expect a Beta a week or so before we release on Steam Early Access (most likely on the second week of May).

Thanks for keeping tabs on us. You'll hear from us again soon!

MARK

Dev Update #5: Just Chillin', Doin' A Little Development, Doin' A Little Animation

Winemakers! We are in the thick of our alpha testing, and we're excited to see what our testers come up with. But work doesn't stop there.

Our Lead 3D Designer, Pavel, is working on some additional models, and our Animator, Elliot, is busy making them move. And boy, do they move!

Here's a short video showcasing some work-in-progress animations that will eventually find its way into the game. Yes we have animals! But they're mostly for aesthetic purposes only. But they sure look nice!

Development Update #4: We Finished The Alpha! Now We Need Testers!

We're excited to announce that our alpha build is complete!

Core mechanics, including winemaking, tile purchasing and vineyard expansion, Worker Actions and most of the economy is done. The game is basically playable now - on a basic level.

In this video, I walk you through the alpha build, specifically through the winemaking process, which serves as the game's center of gravity. Along the way, you'll see a few other features that are already done.

One more thing: we're holding a closed alpha test for the next week or two, and we'd like to invite you to be one of our testers. Just send us an email here: dev.team@generalinteractive.co

Give us a name (so we know what to call you), tell us your country of residence and give us your PC's specifications. Should you be chosen for the test, we'll send you an email with a download link for the alpha demo. Unfortunately, we are only testing on Windows, so Mac users, hang tight. We'll get to you guys later.

We'll give you guys another update, hopefully once alpha testing is complete and more features are added on the road to beta.

Talk soon!

MARK

Terroir Has Officially Been Greenlit By Steam

Few things are ever truly memorable. An excellent example for me is the morning I woke up to an email from our Lead Programmer titled "We Did It!!!". The mail had no words on it - just an embedded image. The image looked something like this:

After 26 days in Steam Greenlight, Terroir was officially approved by Steam to be sold via their platform. A platform that has over 125 million active users. A platform that has become synonymous with PC gaming. Against all odds and facing competition from games with larger fanbases (and even games designed by ex-big studio game designers), we somehow made it. We got greenlit with around 100 other games from a pool of several hundred entries.

We weren't supposed to be here. We're just a small group of nobodies.

But here we are, out of nowhere.

Thank you all so much for all your support. We'll never forget this day - the day General Interactive Co. got their very first game greenlit in less than a month. We couldn't have done it without you.

Now, what lies before us is the biggest challenge we've had in our video game design lives: to make Terroir the best game it can be, and to take you to a place where you are the master of your own world, far far away from the disenchantment of real life.

We're savoring this moment for now, but you'll hear regular updates from us as we kick development into high gear.

Wish us luck. We'll need it!

Our Gameplay Demo Video For Terroir Is Here

We're quite excited to share a short playthrough video of our very first video game, Terroir.

So here's the backstory. Of all the video game genres out there, the one that I probably spend the most time (and money) playing are city building and business tycoon games. Growing up, it was games like Theme Park, Theme Hospital, Caesar III (and all the classic city building games released by the legendary Sierra Entertainment), and the Civilization Series that turned me into a hardcore gamer. These days, except for a few notable titles released in the past 5 years, the tycoon genre is a shadow of it once was. It's not so much in terms of quantity - the Steam catalog has a pretty robust collection of tycoon games - but more about quality and variety. Social games like Farmville changed he landscape, and a lot of copycat games are flooding the market. 

One day, while enjoying a glass of Chateauneuf du Pape, I started wondering about the winemaking process. I dove into as many books (mostly audiobooks, thanks to my long commutes to work every day) about the craft and history of wine, and realized this would make an mazing game. Winemaking is a very interesting process. It's a craft that's thousands of years old, and few people really know the hard work and luck that goes into it. Key to the winemaking process is the concept of "Terroir" - the massive influence that climate and soil play has on wine production. On good years when the weather is pleasant and predictable, vineyards produce very valuable high-quality wines. But on bad years, when a winemaking region gets too much or too little rain, or when frost or storms disrupt the growth cycle, you get some pretty dismal wine. Anything can happen.

It was a great idea for a tycoon game. So, I got in touch with Jenny Hide, a programmer I met online, and my good friend, Armand, and we sat down and started thinking about the game. Within a month, we had our game design document. Together with our other teammates, Celson, Farhan and Raf, we created the 3D models, the flat art and the User Interface design, and started working.

Fast-forward to 7 months later, and we finished the alpha stage of Terroir. We're through the roof. We're giddy with excitement. And so, ladies and gentlemen, we present you Terroir - a winemaking tycoon game.