A month after its launch, developer aeiowu have released an update to physics-based roguelike TumbleSeed. Along with massively rebalancing TumbleSeed's difficulty curve, aeiowu have released an in-depth post mortem that dissects the reasons for TumbleSeed’s failure.
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According to aeiowu, and having personally spent ages trying to complete the first level of TumbleSeed, its main problem is that it is simply too hard. Critics and players saw the game as “unfair and unforgiving,” which heavily impacted its sales on Steam and other platforms. With many big name streamers bouncing off TumbleSeed and audiences seeming to “particularly dislike watching TumbleSeed,” the media buzz around it faded away after launch week. As a result, aeiowu are nowhere near to recouping their costs from TumbleSeed and will probably never make a profit from the game.
While developer Greg Wohlwend doesn’t see TumbleSeed as “fundamentally flawed to the point of damnation,” the game that was released on May 2 is “flawed and worth damning.” The main issue he outlines is that TumbleSeed’s adventure mode overwhelmed players with too many mechanics during its opening.
Novices had to learn a new control scheme, all of TumbleSeed’s powerups, enemy behaviours, and a different mountain layout on each playthrough. “Players [felt] overwhelmed with far too many things to learn at once” and so the majority of them never made it past the first mountain.
When combined with pacing problems, an aesthetic which most people would associate with an easy game and other accessibility issues, TumbleSeed’s launch was a bit of a disaster. But aeiowu are hoping to rectify some issues with their first major update. Called ‘The 4 Peaks’ update, it adds four new mountains with static level layouts, along with a weekly challenge mountain where players compete for the highest score. Auras now only give beneficial buffs and certain enemies have been made easier to deal with.
It won’t reverse TumbleSeed’s fortunes, but this update hopes to fix a handful of problems and acted as “a sort of therapy” for everyone on the development team. If you’re looking to maybe give TumbleSeed a try, it’s currently 20% off on Steam at $11.99/£8.79.