One of the nicer quirks of being a consumer in this golden age of indie games has been an unprecedented level of customer support from certain developers who, rather than risk mere adequacy, commonly settle for something nearer slavishness. Take Arcen Games, for instance – still working on 2009’s AI War, and planning to chip away at this year’s A Valley Without Wind for another three.
“To be a game developer, I think it’s important to love the journey as much as the destination,” Arcen’s Chris Park told VG247. “I guess that’s part of why our biggest games wind up staying in perpetual development even after their 1.0 versions, because we know there’s so much more potential there and we just can’t stand giving up on that. For me, the process really can get quite addictive.”
Despite its 1.0 release in May, Park views A Valley Without Wind as an ongoing project. “Our game AI War first came out in mid-2009. Now in mid-2012 it is on version 5.0, and we have another expansion planned for it later this year. And we’re still doing free updates to it, too.
“That’s the sort of longevity I dearly hope for from AVWW, because there is so much more that our entire team wants to do with it compared to what we’ve already accomplished.”
At the top of the list sits a particularly ugly issue: the game’s divisive art style. “Some people really do seem to judge a book by its cover. And beyond that, more substantially speaking, from a gameplay standpoint our 1.1 release that just came out is practically like a whole new game compared to 1.0.
“When it comes to AVWW 1.1, despite it being a self-contained ‘complete’ experience, I don’t view it as being any more ‘done’ than AI War 5.0 is. I hope to spend the next three years expanding and improving that game, following the same pattern that AI War’s post-release development did, if players are willing to support us in that.”